Interview with Adam Zaars from Tribulation

For some years now, an extreme metal band from Arvika, Sweden, titled Tribulation has been taking the metal world by storm. Though originally formed as a dirty and fast death metal band hailing back to seminal Swedish acts such as Merciless and Nihilist as well as to the fierce storming vengeance of early Morbid Angel, Tribulation quickly shed their more primitive leanings to focus on an increasingly eclectic blend of outside influences. Now with four studio albums under their belts, Tribulation are debuting their first ever live album, and guitarist Adam Zaars was nice enough to answer some of my questions about the band and what’s coming up for them.

Read the interview at Toilet Ov Hell. Published on November 8, 2019.

Interview with Tony Steele from Vultures Vengeance

The old Italian spirit of heavy metal mastery has been proved undaunted by the years, changing trends, and the often non-existent financial support for the strange and epic. Vultures Vengeance, hailing from Rome, have in their ten years of existence completely eschewed all convention to bring us their unique take on epic heavy metal. Our man Crucervix already reviewed the album here, and I reviewed it here; obviously, we like it quite a bit, and so Ride Into Glory was excited to have the opportunity to interview Vultures Vengeance frontman, songwriter, and guitarist extraordinaire Tony Steele. 

Read the interview on Ride Into Glory. Published on 11/05/2019.

Review: Orodruin – Ruins of Eternity

Johnny Gallo may be the best active doom metal guitarist right now. I’ve been tracking the guy’s movements closely the last few years after initially being introduced to Orodruin, who are easily among my favorite bands of the ‘00s (yes, they formed in the late ‘90s, but the bulk of their material was a bit later!). Johnny is a busy guy, and every couple of years another new album comes out that he played some varying amount of instruments on. Blizaro is a drug-induced psychedelic warrior that channels his love of old Italian doom, and John Gallo is a heavier and less rocking take on the same influences- but Orodruin, until they vanished off the face of the planet around 2011, was always more suffocating and gloomy than his other bands.

Now Orodruin is back, and is jarringly less heavy. Before, the riffs carried a lot of the heft and groove of the more oppressive bands in doom metal, with heavy atmosphere via organs and riffs that split bones. Though you can still tell that it’s the same band, the heaviness is more from huge buildups and from the interplay of the instruments than from big guitar parts- Cathedral versus Judas Priest, to quote a friend.

Once I got past the difference in tone, the quality contained within Ruins of Eternity began to reveal itself. Each song is monstrously catchy and memorable, and while the songwriting is simple, the compositions are extremely effective. Bluesy licks will play against slow Iommian riffing to great effect whenever a part threatens monotony, and the guitars pick great moments to fall slightly out of touch with each other, each little detail adding another post to find and wonder at with repeated listens. The dual leads that occasionally supplant the riffs are all really, really, cool as well, perfectly bridging different verse riffs or mood swings in songs.  

Vocals, drums, and bass are all performed skillfully by longtime Orodruin frontman Mike Puleo, whose approach to each is a mirror of the band’s music itself; he never gets technical or tries to stand out, but his playing and singing match the music so perfectly that I can’t imagine another performance on the album. In particular I love his vocal performance on Ruins of Eternity; Mike is emotional and earnest without sacrificing power, and his varied approach- ranging from a nasal warble to strident and powerful to sensitive in just a few minutes at a time- far surpasses anything else he’s done with Orodruin in the past. Mike’s talent for writing vocal lines plays a large part in the catchiness of the record, and it’s impossible not to leave the album with more and more lyrics stuck in your head, which is a talent more doom metal could benefit from.

Another point of interest is the album’s stellar production, which leaves everything audible without sacrificing power or charm. The song order is also extremely well picked- the relative speed and aggression of the gorgeous “War on the World” breaks up the slower pieces it’s sandwiched between, serving as the crescendo of Side A while also showing some of the band’s range. Ruins of Eternity is an intimidating forty seven minutes long, but it flows by far faster than it should, leaving plenty of room for relistening, even back to back.

Is Ruins of Eternity as good as Orodruin’s first record, Epicurean Mass? It’s just too early to say, particularly since I’ve been hailing that as the best doom metal album of the ‘00s for the last few years. But I can definitely say that I can’t stop listening to Ruins, and I hope that Orodruin doesn’t take another sixteen years for a follow-up this time. It’s great seeing them getting proper label support this time via the always-excellent Cruz Del Sur Music and I hope it’s a sign that Orodruin will finally blow up (and get some proper vinyl issues of Epicurean Mass and In Doom!) because they deserve it.

Follow Orodruin on Facebook here. Listen to Ruins of Eternity here, and buy it at the same link (North America) or here (Europe). Support doom, and support one of the best bands in metal, finally returned to us.

Interview with Kevin Heybourne from Angel Witch

Are you an angel witch? Kevin Heybourne, sole remaining founding member of the legendary band, certainly is. Formed in 1978 and with a now-legendary debut album in 1980, Angel Witch has some of the strongest name recognition from the original NWOBHM movement, much of it based on the strength of dark and catchy tracks that just didn’t propel them to the popularity they deserved back in the day.

Years after their original disbanding, Angel Witch reformed and started slowly ramping up activity, with a second modern album titled Angel of Light slated to be released next Friday. Fortunately, Kevin was willing to answer some of my questions about the band.

Read the interview on Toilet Ov Hell. Published 10/28/2019.

Forlorn Skies: An Introduction to Melodic Death Metal

Everyone knows how death metal started, more or less, even if the details can be a bit hazy to those who haven’t done their due diligence. But what about melodic death metal? What about the innovators, bands that played an in between of the commercial sounds of later days and the classics, or the rare bands that eschewed all trends to just do their own thing?

In an epoch where fans are very familiar with all the different subgenres and regional scenes within Death Metal, it is sometimes forgotten all those distinctions were not present during the genre’s early era (1985-1993). Sure, there were bands described in zines/magazines as Brutal/Technical/Melodic, but those sound distinctions weren’t engraved into specific sub-subgenres…yet. In that same manner, Melodic Death Metal began as a valid offshoot of Death Metal. Reading zines from the genesis of the genre (91-95 roughly), many were praising this new direction and re-invention of the genre by bands like Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Eucharist, etc. Early Melodic Death Metal got attention primarily through the releases of Wrong Again Records who put out some of the seminal early releases in the genre and issued the now famous W.A.R compilation Volume 1 in 1995 which gave the world a taste of this new emerging sound that was here to stay.

Read the article on Toilet Ov Hell. Published on 10/26/2019.

Interview with Brendan Radigan of Magic Circle, Pagan Altar, Stone Dagger, and more

For the last decade or so, heavy metal has had a new rising star with the prolific Brendan Radigan. He’s probably the best known in our community for singing in Magic Circle and, more recently, as Pagan Altar’s live vocalist. His singing and songwriting on the Stone Dagger demo is the talk of the underground, as is constant speculation about when there’ll be more- but none of this prowess came from nothingness, as Brendan had been a known member of Boston’s hardcore scene for years before his first foray into heavy metal. 

With the release of Magic Circle’s third album and a successful tour with Pagan Altar, it seemed a good time to ask Brendan some questions about his past, what he’s been up to in recent days, and what’s coming up next. 

Read the interview on Ride Into Glory. Published on October 24, 2019.

Interview with Robert Garven from Cirith Ungol

Not all legends of yore got the praise they deserved when they were still active. Cirith Ungol is one of the very first metal bands, both inside the United States and beyond it, and each of their three studio albums are venerated by ever-growing legions of heavy metal fans in the modern day—but it wasn’t always like this. Disillusioned by a lack of success, lineup difficulties, and exploitative labels, Cirith Ungol broke up in 1992, swearing to never return, with some members even throwing down their instruments supposedly permanently.

Read the interview on Toilet Ov Hell. Published October 24, 2019.

Review: Mortiferum – Disgorged From Psychotic Depths

Expectation, as I’ve said before, can be a terrible thing. Massive fan excitement can lead to disappointment and revilement upon a follow-up release just as easily as it can lead to festival dates or touring opportunities, and to fail to deliver for a band such as Mortiferum, whose debut demo in 2017 opened a seemingly infinite amount of doors for them, would be the band’s death.

Fortunately, Mortiferum have not sat by idly in these last couple of years, and the strength of Disgorged From Psychotic Depths is a wonderful thing to behold. The concern in any relatively quick follow-up is always that the album was rushed to capitalize on the attention the demo material received, but that concern is ill-founded here. Disgorged’s core sound is an expansion on the demo, which itself was a crushing form of death/doom reminiscent of the more aggressive early days of the genre with some mixed in Finnish-isms. Some gloomy atmosphere and leads also popped through the mix on the demo, but here it is much more fully realized, with more atmospheric parts, leads, and melody that recall the best moody bands of the ‘90s without sinking as far into that sound as some people might be afraid reading this review. The bulk of the music is still comprised of huge death/doom riffs, and there’s far more aggression than subtlety.

The subtlety is what sets Mortiferum aside from their competition, however, so it should not be dismissed. There are only really five songs on this record, once you discount the interlude, and all but one are over seven minutes long; pulling that off requires more care than something with shorter compositions, and Mortiferum tackle that challenge with rotting energy. Powerful tremolo lines can break as easily into haunting leads as into power chords, and power chords are as likely to be the backdrop to a melody as they are to be a primitive attack on the senses. Unlike many similar bands, Mortiferum do not rely on repetition to build atmosphere, and are happy to either build on a motif or to change riffs rapidly through the course of a song to keep everything flowing. Each change is written in such a way as to feel organic, a slithering creep through dark halls (psychotic depths, perhaps?) more than a frenzied dance through the longer playtimes of the songs- though this is not to say that faster tempos are excluded from the album, and occasional fleetness of assault is used well by the band as befits some of the songs.

Though the band can clearly play their instruments, showing off their musicianship is clearly not among Mortiferum’s goals for Disgorged. Outside of some of the faster drumming sections, nothing can be called more than particularly competent, which strikes me as a good move- flashy soloing, Seinfeld bass, or drum insanity would detract from the record more than it would add, and it shows humility and good sense to leave out the noodling. Creaking bass compliments the massive riffing on the album and locks tight with the massive drums, and the rhythm section is tight enough to hold everything together whenever a single lead guitar rises above the mix to provide a touch more gloom, or to carry songs alongside the putrid low growls of the lead vocals. Almost as good as the music itself is the extremely organic production of music, which could nearly be a live performance if not for how well the drums cut through the guitars. Everything in Disgorged From Psychotic Depths feels gloriously natural, a festering darkness that emerged from evil minds rather than from a studio somewhere, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Follow Profound Lore Records on Facebook here, and buy Disgorged From Psychotic Depths here.

Review: Sölicitör – EP 2019

When Substratum broke up, I mourned. Though they were only around for a few short years, they put out three full length albums, a couple of demos, and a couple of splits – not to mention that they put on a hell of a live show. Things seemed to be on the rise for the band when out of nowhere they broke up with the sudden departure of guitarist and riffwriter Max. Fortunately for fans, Substratum’s loss doesn’t mean the loss of all of the musicians involved, and both guitarist Matt Vogan and vocalist Amy Lee Carlson have carried on and started a new band – Sölicitör.

Read the review on Ride Into Glory. Published on October 14, 2019.

Interview with Michael Denner of Mercyful Fate, Brats, and more

We were fortunate enough to sit down with Michael Denner (Mercyful Fate, Denner’s Inferno, Brats) to discuss his 40+ year career as one of metal’s most legendary guitarists.

BW: Did you ever expect back in the Brats days that you’d be a household name for heavy metal maniacs decades later?

Michael Denner: I had hopes and I had a feeling that we had something special going on, cause there were not one single band in Denmark who played the music we did back then and got it released on a big label (CBS).

Read the interview on Toilet Ov Hell. Published on October 7, 2019.