Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I’m back. The house is still dirty. The mind + spirit are still stuck in the inky, iridescent depths, even after a momentary glimpse of serenity. “We’re Back, We’re Pissed” and all that. 

Verily, I promise thee that there’s plenty of madness brewing in the cauldron for this new year. But in the meantime, might as well clear the decks with some stuff that was written this past November for issue 050 of ZeroTolerance but which never ran. Well, it runs here, now:

Really wish I had gotten this record in October – late September, even – because this is autumnal black metal to a T. Now it’s late November and I’m longing for the flickering fires and the wind wisping through the fallen leaves and the chill that creeps into the air but not enough to drive you into wintertime hibernation…thanks, Blaze of Sorrow. Well, it’s not their fault: Echi can take you there anytime. The band’s Italian, yet they nod to that side of English heritage BM that nods to Agalloch. The clean and acoustic-y bits are the best, and really make me long for October. Alas…
nathan t. birk 4/6

Vinyl-only release from the usually dependable DMP, and that title’s a cocky one, innit. Because If this is anything to go by, that “Tone” is fuckin’ OTT gnarly, and practically unlistenable when ramrodded onto song-constructions as labyrinthine as the four central tracks which comprise this, averaging nearly nine minutes apiece. A lot of the time, it works: absolutely gutted in execution but quite often “hovering” in texture, a weight vs. weightlessness duality that actually doesn’t smack of late-Naughties DsO. Other times, there’s just too much dicking around, too many inversely-precious moments of padding out song-length and testing one’s patience. The mind wanders…and wonders what’s “To Come.”
nathan t. birk 3/6

Look up Darkenhöld on Metal-Archives.com and you’ll see that their lyrical conceit is solely listed as “castles.” Laugh all you want, but that’s enough to get me excited – and hey, look at that! Their logo incorporates a castle: nice. Both those weighty expectations (ha!) in mind, this French trio mostly deliver here. Although given to windswept bouts of speed, Darkenhöld tastefully stick to a more measured, reined-in gait. Subtly swathed in synths that are more medieval fog rather than gothic twinkle – more Stormblast, say, than Witchcraft – the sum effect’s like sulking through the castle’s keep(er) instead of flailing madly up its spires. Not quite NES-era Castlevania-level awesome yet, but getting there.
nathan t. birk 4/6

The kids of today…debate all you want their supposedly suspicious motives, but I gotta applaud their current interest in synthpop, coldwave, and all things vintage-electronic. Problem is, too few of ‘em have the SONGS despite having the sounds. Indeed, modern (hipster-approved) torchbearers Lust for Youth have lotsa Cool Sounds and even stumble upon a mystical atmosphere or two, but the vast majority of sophomore album Growing Seeds is simply a “cool sound” looped until they hit “stop” on their home-recording decks. Believe me, I’m rooting for ‘em – and in their defense, it took Cold Cave an album and a few singles to find brilliance – but in another, more accurate sense? Don’t believe the hype.
nathan t. birk 2.5/6

The last time I checked in with Australia’s Wither was their self-titled MCD: fairly standard Burzumic black metal yet, uniquely, with strangely bluesy leads. I definitely dug it then and was expecting more of the same here…but man, have the years been kind to the duo. Still firmly rooted in BM, Wither go all sorts of idiosyncratic places on their debut LP – and, crucially, without making much of a we-try-harder fuss about it (hi, Ulver). The leads are still tastefully subdued, but now they’re atop a blackened schematic that incorporates deathrock and funer(e)al doom, the vocals ranging many approaches in kind but especially the vampy end of the clean tone, and all wrapped in a wonderfully warm analog production. Sleeper hit of the year here, folks.
nathan t. birk 5/6

New single here from this millennium’s foremost purveyors of black metal perversity, and it really is a “single” in the true sense of the word: two songs, short ‘n’ sweet. Sadly, it appears that it’s also the band’s epitaph. As it stands, the two tracks here continue (end?) the demented-soap-opera melodrama of last year's Förlåt, but there’s also more than a whiff of their old folkloric whimsy/mania (“Mot Usquebaugh”) as well as their most nakedly Manilow moment (“Here Comes That Lonely Night”): quintessential Woods of Infinity, no more but certainly no less. As WOI’s final statement, however? Kinda underwhelming.
nathan t. birk 3.5/6

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I’ll admit: I’m a flamboyant guy from time to time. Even more so, I take great delight in the perverse. Which both jointly explain my fascination with – and undying support for – Celtic Frost’s legendarily maligned Cold Lake.

In full disclosure, I have already written about this record under similar/defend-a-dead-duck circumstances. It was an issue of Zero Tolerance – #016, to be exact – and it was for a regular section called “Missing in Action,” where usually we’d write about a one-album wonder or the like. This time, obviously, it was different because…well, Celtic Frost’s a pretty legendary band in metal circles and, just as obviously, have a sizable (if not spotty, according to some) back catalog. Plus, just earlier, they had re-formed for Monotheist before breaking up yet again in a storm of sour grapes. But the clincher? My byline wasn’t printed! “Get out of jail free” and all that – jackpot!

But in fullest disclosure, and as I’m so fond of saving myself some redundancy (only to be redundantly redundant later on), here’s what I wrote in February 2007:

Really, I wanted my byline printed. Like, really really. Thus, hopefully you’ll excuse my compulsion toward doing this here now.

But also really, this record really (“really really”) warrants further inspection, as much I feel I hit the proverbial nail on the head with the above text, given my word-count and deadline back then. When I wrote that, it was during a time when I was beginning to connect, in print and elsewhere, the threads of my past to those of my present: a crucial turning-point in that I’ve followed that path forward/backward in earnest, often to admittedly bizarre ‘n’ bewildering ends, or at least a so-far-up-my-own-ass-end end. (Debate it: go waste your time.) Sure, I’ve recanted my opinion on Let’s Dance, mainly because I now realize Nile Rodgers is THE MAN (hello to Chic, The Power Station, Like a Virgin, Notorious, Sheena Easton’s “When the Lightning Strikes Again,” and a thousand other things) and partly because I get a kick outta running my mouth when my head’s mostly empty, but I stand by what I wrote then…and I’d like to write a little bit more now.

The years have been kind to Celtic Frost’s Cold Lake – my years, at least – in that the gulf between What Was Intended and What Resulted have widened even more, and no amount of musical abortions since have flown so freely ‘n’ fiercely into that abyss of Good Taste vs. Bad Taste. Granted, there’s been more than a few St. Angers in the interim (hello, YOU NAME ‘EM), but I’d argue that that Gulf was never all that wide to begin with in these/those cases, whereas with Cold Lake…well, let’s dive in.

My first exposure to Celtic Frost came with an interview in Metal Maniacs (back when it was print) around the time when Vanity/Nemesis was released. This is what Tom Warrior and crew were looking like then:

Kinda dark, but also kinda suave: I really wouldn’t have known the difference then (I was 12 years old). During the proceeding text, if my memory serves correctly – and it usually does – there was much boo-hooing about some record called Cold Lake. I never heard it, so I was completely lost; I read on regardless. I do know, subsequently, that Mr. Warrior’s one for revisionist history (hello, Are You Morbid?) and he’s totally entitled to that since these are his creations, after all, but I can process them any way I want and he can’t control that, so nah-nah-nah. Anyway, the point is, both him and writer thought the record blew. The band also supposedly had a different, decidedly “poser” image during said record, and it looked something like this:

Now, I know that Those Who Cult will doubtlessly say that such an image is “gay” or what-have-you, but really: WHAT is so wrong with this look? On the whole, it’s a lot cooler than an image that suggests you’ve never felt the touch of a real, live woman (or man, for that matter – erm…). It also suggests fucking PARTY (or even a Fucking Party) – and we should we know what kind of party I mean. And we could also extend “party” to mean a gang or even a political body/entity/PARTY, like these dudes are here at your party and it’s gonna be a hazy, crazy, foggy, mystical time; their cloth and accoutrements exude glitz and sleaze, glamour and grime, sin and seduction, both upward and downward mobility. Those should be eternal ideals in all manner of music(s) and certainly a campaign trail worth blazing, but for the time being, I’ll pull the old Some Other Post.

Ahem. So, where are we at? Ah, yes…The Look. See, the look (or see the look) is merely a physical manifestation of CF circa CL’s overarching spirituality – and by “spirituality,” I’m generally meaning manner of (creative) spirit – which can be dissected via Mr. Warrior’s less-tongue-tied-than-usual poetry across the album. To whit:

Side 1

1)     “Intro – Human”: “For love we crawl / and we’ll be held for all the pain” à the ultimate burden all Party Warriors carry, the latent lament of the Hair Metal Generation

2)     “Seduce Me Tonight”: “Dance on my wounded chest” à that burden again, the dual excitement + sting of love/lust/both/neither/never/again

3)     “Petty Obsession”: “If this is heaven, how bad is hell?” à not a rhetorical question, rather the quest of all Party Warriors, the black (w)hole that forever beckons

4)     “(Once) They Were Eagles”: “Gathering pure sleep / their eyes betrayed” à life is dreams, dreams is mysticism, mysticism is truth(s) – if you dream it, you believe it, and vice versa

5)     “Juices Like Wine”: “Juices like wine / like the blood in the sand” à regardless of simile, not metaphorical, but rather physical: up we sup, down we go

Side 2

1)     “Little Velvet”: “Breathe the taste / of vapor of love” à once again NOT metaphorical; instead, the foul/final realization that love stinks…literally (or maybe Beherit’s “Down There...”)

2)     “Blood on Kisses”: “This is all the jungle voices / deceiving pain through desire” à a party is a jungle, and the jungle means war (spiritually extrapolated in Black Rain’s “Party War”): it’s never over, because the voices keep reverberating in the soul

3)     “Downtown Hanoi”: “Gold and light / didn’t stop their dance” à this Hanoi does not exist; only light, then darkness, exists – and the dance continues, heedless of either, back and forth, because YOU JUST DON’T TURN IT OFF

4)     “Dance Sleazy”: “The mirage of love / to live means hurt” à essentially the just-mentioned duality, but here framed within the first-named burden

5)     “Roses Without Thorns”: “Violet masks of false” à more or less the “If you are a false, do not entry” credo of all Party Warriors worldwide: you must believe it, comrade, for the purple rain shall perpetually fall…

Which all, then, must be supported by a fitting, fit-to-fight soundtrack. In my original ZT piece, I likened sole single “Cherry Orchards” to a “dread monolith.” In fact, nearly every song here is a Dread Monolith. Like the best metal – hell, the BEST MUSIC – each song pretty much hinges upon one hook, maybe two if only faintly different, and then proceeds to pulse it out, on and on and on, hereby hypnotizing with motorik swagger/swaggering motor-locution. (In a metallic context, also see Ratt’s disarmingly spar(s)e Dancing Undercover or especially Motorhead’s mesmerizing Another Perfect Day ­– Some Other Post?) You should be able to “rock out,” as the vernacular goes, but instead you’re stuck in that Party War, and it rages on (and on and on and…) in your soul, psyche, gutter of a mind, mind in a gutter, whichever, wherever, whenever. This is serious business. And I doubt that was the intention. Either way, Cold Lake takes you where you wanna go and then you go/go/go, on/on/on. (Even the way that sentence is written underlines the seismic pulse at play.)

This, folks, is mysticism defined. Crucial to that crux is the record’s duality/singularity of space + spaciousness, arguably THE musical earmark of the ‘80s as a whole. Whether it’s in the production (likely/usually) or in the playing itself, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is where you end up.

(And, a good deal of the time, Where I End Up is casting Cold Lake’s net across to other Party Warriors in the synth funk/lazer soul field, which, in this battered ‘n’ bruised mind of mine, is mystically aligned to hair metal, ‘80s goth/deathrock, and, of course, black metal. Believe me: one day I WILL explain all this in further detail. But in the meantime, look at the above Party War-ready photo of Celtic Frost and then compare it to this:

…and maybe this:

…but especially this:

Which, as snyth-funking Party Warriors all, are spiritual kin to the lazer-souling Mystical Affluence [remember: upward/downward mobility] of, say, this:

And just to prove I’m not talking entirely outta my ass, “Intro – Human” is entirely funk. So there.)

Today, I find Oliver Amberg’s soloing less expressive than I once thought, and even less brain-damaged – save for the Greg Ginn-esque explosions during the midway point of “Downtown Hanoi,” which sound more fucked than ever – while discovering an almost-wooden, favorably martial flavor to the band’s playing across the LP (read: IT’S NOT THE PRODUCTION, YOU NERDS). Elsewhere, Mr. Warrior positively/negatively seethes with sleaze and darkness – as does the music in kind, of course – once again supporting my claim that Cold Lake is a close runner-up to To Mega Therion as the ultimate Celtic Frost statement. Or at least the statement I want them making. Whichever.

Now, as far as What Was Intended vs. What Resulted? Again, I cannot presume to know Mr. Warrior’s initial motivations here; part of me suspects it was a desire to connect with the opposite sex, which is entirely noble. If it was indeed a bid to “sell out,” I can definitely presume that Mr. Warrior didn’t do his market research, because most of Cold Lake moves much too fast (to Mega Therion, ha) for that Hair Metal Generation (or Pube Metal Generation, going by Amberg’s button-down attire in said above photo). Similarly, his lyrics, as ever, aim for High Art whilst being written by a non-native English speaker, and any attempt at “communication” to a wide(r) audience are exacerbated by Warrior’s still-not-clean-enough snarl that maybe wanted to be a Pearcy or a Lawless or even Lord Axl himself but ultimately just ended up sounding like The Devil’s emissary, only clad in flashier threads and without a limousine reservation. And I can definitely live with that.

And yes, I’m being serious. Very fucking SERIOUS – seriously seriously. Again, this is serious business, and I’m serious about it. (And, of course, redundantly redundant.)

So, here’s my challenge: track down Cold Lake, disregard the band photo and the song titles, crank some more bass on your EQ, and try - JUST TRY - telling me that this record couldn’t follow To Mega Therion or at least the grossly overrated Into the Pandemonium. Really, go do it. And, as the vernacular goes, COME AT ME BRO.

Oh, and because I’m a flamboyant-but-more-so-perverse kind of guy, I think I’m gonna make this a semi-regular series. Next up, soon enough: my defense for Discharge’s Grave New World.

…and see how those rotten tomatoes fly!

Monday, November 5, 2012


According to a good number of people, I’m credited with creating the term bestial black metal.

I’m not sure how it happened. Like, I certainly didn’t invent the actual words within this subgenre term: “bestial” has described a good number of things for a good number of centuries, and “black metal” as a phrase can be traced back to 1982 and solely credited to Venom. But putting those two once-separate terms together into one phrase? Really, I can’t take credit for that. But I also can’t think of anyone else using the same prior to when I did.

And When I Did was approximately the spring of 2005. I’m much more modest these days, having had a couple Spiritual Depantsings during the last four years – professionally speaking, the untimely (and still supremely quizzical) demise of Metal Maniacs magazine, by and large the forum where I developed my most notoriety – but back then? Fuck, I was on a mission. I was gonna cram this shit down everyone’s throats whether they liked it or not. (They didn’t.) And given the platform I was with Zero Tolerance and especially Metal Maniacs, cram I did. Nearly four years of verbal abuse followed...where does the time go?

These were good days, professionally if not always personally. They were exciting times, electric times. Vile ugliness became exquisite beauty to me, and I ceaselessly championed those then-few records as if my very life depended on it. (It didn’t.)

First, it was a trickle. Hearing traces, however faint, of Beherit and early Impaled Nazarene in bands? Maybe the Noughties weren’t gonna be so crap for black metal after all. Then came the semantically-more-obvious Bestial Warlust traces, and even a few bands started nodding toward (and even covering) Archgoat. And, of course, rekindled interest in Blasphemy again caught fire – ever so gradually, it must be said – following the release of their Live Ritual: Friday the 13th record a few years prior. I was witnessing something, and I wanted to chronicle it…and again, whether anyone was actually reading.

I’ll save a (largely semantic) discussion of what constitutes “bestial black metal” for a later post. I’ll also save a far-more-personal recollection of my falling-out/fall-from-grace with such for a yet-later post, as well as the precise moment I felt the timing was right for a deliberate kiss-off to that scene. But back then, as I got the ball rolling with The Mission, I became (hyper-?)aware that there was a growing movement of black metal bands whose touchstones were the aforementioned pioneers rather than, say, contemporaneous Mayhem or Burzum or Darkthrone. This flew in the face of “conventional wisdom” among the metal press about what constituted black metal, its chronological/aesthetic development, etc (which is another Mission altogether: “some other post”). But flying in the face of Conventional Wisdom was the biggest Mission of all, and I took perverse pleasure in it.

Maybe too perverse pleasure. Between 2007 and 2008 was when I was in the thick of it, and was perhaps sacrificing my better judgment for the sake of this Mission. Seemingly any band that worshipped at the altar of the “three Bs” – Beherit, Blasphemy, and Bestial Warlust – I was all over, and especially so if they had some sort of black/white/red cover. I know this all seems rather commonplace now, at least to those of you who follow such things in the metal underground (A: we’re all sad people), and I know it seems disingenuous to sorta go back on what I once wrote, but some things hold up with time and others don’t. And these “things” are bands and records, and they’re fair game for appraisal/reprisal the second a recorded note is heard. Not to mention that I was merely doing my job of capturing the/my zeitgeist.

Somewhere along the way, I woke up. With increasingly painful realization, it dawned on me that all of bestial black metal’s heavy-hitters – namely Revenge, Black Witchery, Diocletian, Sadomator, Bestial Raids, Witchrist, Blasphemophagher, and Proclamation – peaked early on in their careers, all of whom I wrote about or even interviewed years before they became seemingly sacrosanct with Those Of You Who Follow Such Things In The Metal Underground. After that came loads upon loads of pissant trend-hoppers (or kids too young to know any better, to have really imbued the essence of heavy metal - whichever: YOU'RE ALL GUILTY), with loads upon loads of black/white/red-all-over record covers depicting goatwarriors sodomizing nuns sodomizing other goatwarriors sodomizing absurdity and the music, in kind, sounding equally attractive. It was OVER. The other shoe dropped, the shark was jumped. Professionally and personally, I hopped off the trend, and happily.

These days, I’d say I’m a happier person, too. Although, in print since then, I’ve brandished that old chestnut of “I’ve got enough stress enough in my life already” in reference to such brain-bashing decibels – and, now more than ever, that statement holds true – a lot of what I seek out, professionally and personally, is, in the grand scheme of things, “brain-bashing decibels.” I can’t get away from that; I don’t think I ever will. But if you’re gonna bash my brain with your decibels, you better take me somewhere with them: inertia sucks, professionally and personally.

So, what went wrong? Maybe bestial black metal didn’t possess enough aesthetically in its DNA to sustain itself in the long run without some injection of thinking-outside-the-box creativity/creatine. Teitanblood’s Seven Chalices pretty much proved that, making all contenders to the throne look like pretenders, or worse. That album was (and, currently, still is) the peak of modern bestiality as an art-form, as a “thing” that can take me (or you) Somewhere. Then again, lately, Morbosidad’s been absolutely killing it with their splits, with their mostly Texas-based lineup, whereby chaos is contorted inside-out and those very brain-bashing decibels are actually interesting to listen to and subsequently outside-the-box. And speaking of Texans, Obeisance are still doing cool shit, but no one seems to really care – and they’ve been there from the very beginning, long before any of these Metalloid Scum were being introduced to black metal through Cradle of Filth, admittedly or otherwise (A: Some Other Post). Nearly the same holds true for the comparatively younger, under-prolific Nyogthaeblisz; but maybe their dearth of releases over the past decade is their saving grace, a strategy worth pursuing if you must pursue the bestial. (Rewinding a bit: really, Seven Chalices isn’t that monumental of a record. Compare it to Beherit’s Drawing Down the Moon and…well, there’s no comparison. Will anyone be able to take bestiality into a mystical swamp like that? Prolly not, as much as I’d love to see/hear that. But I’m not holding my breath.) And I guess the otherwise-dormant Lust is the furthest, most whacked-out extension of all this, and even then, such idiosyncrasy is for a diehard/hard-living few. Or I just relate to that. And more crucially, continue to relate to that, many years down the line. “Shelf-life,” then, for the rest of the above culprits? Not so much.

Or maybe I went wrong. Maybe I was wrong to begin with. Professionally and personally.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

GIMME FREE STUFFS (Or: Brother, My Cup Is Empty)

In the not-so-distant past, I talked a bit about my Alternate Life (or: the life that is not being THEE DIM LOCATOR, which totally pays the bills). It can be a drag a lot of the time. But sometimes, if the stars are aligned just right and everything else is going crappy in my day and I curse the usually-not-aligned stars as if they can go back to some cosmic muck and fuck themselves, I’ll get an email out of the blue – that very same cosmic muck, maybe, if I squint my eyes and imagine it in a slightly more positive light, hence The Blue – that well and truly brings a smile to my face. A ray of sunshine. Unicorns. Once-hungry villagers being fed. All that shit.

The topic: FREE STUFFS.

Nearly everyone likes free stuff (or “stuffs,” if you’re South American or from the shittier parts of Europe). But coming from the developed, Western(ized) world, you generally don’t ask for Free Stuffs…or do you? Maybe I’ve been among the civilized city folk for far too long; maybe my primal instincts have been dulled by clothing and running water and fortified buildings and my village owning more than two donkeys. Either way, I never got that memo. Neither did any of the people whose emails – really, real emails verbatim – are the subject of this post.

I could post denigrating photos of what I think these people look like, but that’d be in pretty poor taste. Besides, here at THEE DIM LOCATOR, it’s content that matters most – not pretty (poor) pictures.

Ahem. Let’s begin. This one’s pretty self-explanatory, but dude’s address withheld:

Dear Sirs,
Greeting from China!
My name is WangBing, and I am a rock fan. Or, to be more precisely, I've been crazy about your songs since I was a teenager. You are the very band who first “rocks" my life. And with your music as my start point, I got to know more and more about the rock world of the West. From then on , I began to collect rock CDs. I've collected thousands of albums of various Rock bands. I regard them as my most treasonable possessions in my life. I've got several albums of yours, they are terrific! Personally, I like BESEECH, they are excellent works! And I always believe that you are the best! I made my homepage with "Rock" as the theme. I have many friends here in China who are also believe in Rocks, and I hope more and more people in China would join us! Rock is everything, everywhere! I beg you to do me a favor: would you please offer me with some of your posts, CDs, or T-shirts, etc. And most of all, your treasureable signatures!

And more Asian persuasion:

im john from philipines 20 years of age, i always wanted to to take a grab about HEAVY METAL MUSIC you know im your magazines and internet subscriber since i grow in the world of music,and i really admired the mag. i love it so much, i played in the band, and i like the articles, the pics in the mag adn all of the stuff out there, that is why im here in your front, and asking for a free stuff like stickers or some free promotional cds, i know you can hook me up, and given me a chance to have, i love the stuff so mcuh, and i cant live with out...im very very proud if you given me a chance to have, i love free so much, i hope you can hook me up..free cds,stickers or posters or > anything that comes heavy metal songs...i hope you you can send anything...

i thank and pray for you response and immediate action..thanks and god bless..i send my send my address later..

This one’s pretty generic if you’re dealing with mongoloid scum from South America, and I know my band friends will back me up on this:



Oh, and the subject line for that email was “ARE YOU COOPERATE ?” At least it was a bit more specific than this one, which was addressed to no one in particular, as are most of these (and address again withheld):

Is it possible to send me a guitar pick and signed autographed cards . I will be very happy.

Many thanks

Then again, I just have to post this dude’s full address, because it seems like spam, but this one email account never gets spam, and it was addressed directly to me:

Please, Send Me 500$.

Thank You.

Sergey Nikolaevich Demin. (Name)

Himikov 14 - 141   (Street)
Kingisepp          (Town)
Leningradskaya     (Region)
188480             (Index)
Russian Federation (Country)

Okay, that’s reaching a bit. But this one just baffles the mind, and is printed in its entirety:

There is this gentlemen I have been in contact with who is claimed to have openings or contacts with your label. He had told me you liked my bands music and you wanted to hear more. The situation I find myself in is our material is still in production. We are nearly done mixing, about 80% done and then we will be ready to go. I was going to hold off contacting your label, as we have been given offers but you were our top choice. Anyways in an effort to make this happen per this gentlemen instructions we are rushing our producer to get the album done. It turns out, no one knows who this guy is and I cant seem to find information about him on line. I was just wondering if you actually know him, or has he in fact contacted you.

Bill Rogers is his name. I just want to make sure I am not being scammed and what he says is true. If so, I apreciate you liking my band and we will get to you more music asap.

They get crafty, don’t they? (read: first correspondence EVER with anyone at the label, and completely unsolicited) Then again, sometimes you’ll get contacted by that bar-band hopeful who doesn’t seem to get the net that he’s contacting an international company who can have their pick of just about any metal band around the world. Look and learn, by mistake:


My name is Frank ALcaraz. I'm sure you are inundated with demos to listen to so I appreciate your time. I am looking for a your assistance Today. My main goal in life is to be able to play Rock n roll somewhere as many nights as I can per week. I'm not greedy or crave mass attention. I just love playing. My problem is I am having a hell of a time keeping a band together long enough to make anything work. If you like what you hear I am hoping that I could simply tell prospects I am working with a label, so I can attract quality musicians. Then I can get gigs and etc.  Please look at www.myspace.com/axbit for some rough cuts. I look forward to your thoughts.

At least I’m getting the dude some PR here. Oh, and I guess I forgot to predicate that FREE STUFFS can include Free Musicians and especially Free Record Contracts. Still, you might wanna do your homework when contacting a metal label:


How are you doing? i am Ayo a Nigerian and a musician that will like my music promoted by your company, i have Demo and i got your link through the search engine, i do sing Country music, R&B. i will like if you can be of help i am available any time you wish to have me, hope to hear from you soon thanks.

A Nigerian country scene?! The mind is blown: CULT. But again, seriously, people need to do their homework when contacting a METAL label, as I certainly don’t find much of this work (or especially music) relaxing:

My name Nick!
I am very interested in your group.
I recently heard about your band, listened to several songs, very much, soulful music that you can relax.
You are the best. I just trudge on you.
Please send me more group information, a nominal autograph, logo and souvenirs pack.

But desperation drives even the best of us, including one “Michelle Deathcore”:

Hey I am a Gutural singer! i am female i make growlings since i have 13 years old! y need to know! What can i make??
Please i need an answer or something that could help me :S

But throughout all this, I’m thankful that I get to broaden my horizons and really learn a lot about folks from foreign countries, including that there’s now a “third” gender:


First of all, I'm not an native English speaker, so I'm sorry for all the mistakes on this short message.

My name is Esteban, I'm from Costa Rica, and I'm looking to become a Metal Singer, I've been taking Lyric Singing and Violin Classes for a couple of years, and I like composing my own songs and write my own lyrics (I do not have a band yet, mostly because in my country this gender is not really known, but I do everything by my own in my computer at home, I have good ideas), I'm thinking about a Solo Carrier, or maybe create a Band, whatever happens first. I was wondering if you'll be interested in hearing some of them, I'll be glad to know if you're interested or not!


And villagers! Tough ones, too! From an emissary of Down For Life (Indonesia):

Just want to help them spread their good music, far far away from Solo, Indonesia, there's one band that play metal heavily, comes from Solo, small city, yes, they're the villagers. Named 'Down For Life' established from '2000', A five pieces monstrous metal militia. Thunderous thrash troopers. Tough guys villagers. Six strings sabbath-esque shredder. Tougher than leather, Louder than Lucifer, Harder than Life. Down For Life, Heavy as fuck.

Okay. Whoa. I’m getting exhausted just reading this all back. Make sense of it, or make party. Gimme free party. Gimme that memo. Gimme now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


In my line of work – again, the actual “real” sorta-career that makes me Actual, Real Money, and is still henceforth known as That Which Must Not Be Named – I’m privy to a lotta peoples’ hopes, dreams, and ambitions, only to see them dashed. Some of the time Most of the time, it’s for good reason: most otherwise-unreleased music seeking a label should stay unreleased. Now and again, however, I find that proverbial Diamond In The Rough and start lobbying to get that record-in-question released by the appropriate label. And then it’s my own hopes/dreams/ambitions/some-abstraction-thereof dashed…“karma’s a bitch” and all that.

One Record-In-Question that I became quite smitten with and thus lobbied extra-hard for was Dizziness’ now-forthcoming debut album, Offermort Heritage. Yes, that moniker. But before we address that, a bit more backstory.

This was, in fact, the second time Dizziness had contacted me to solicit a record for release. That first time was a split with fellow Greek band Lykauges, which, at the time, was gonna come out on cassette, and both bands were seeking a CD release through a certain label. Seeing that that label didn’t release splits by bands who weren’t already signed to the label, naturally, we passed. But considering my hardly-secret fetish for Greek black metal, just as naturally, I was actually curious to hear what was on offer. (Which, if it wasn’t obvious enough, means that the majority of What Is On Offer is so hopeless from the start that I don’t even bother to listen. There’s only so much time in the day, y’know.)

So, I listened – and I heard that it was good. Well, half-good, because there was another band involved (do the math). Anyway, I felt it warranted some ink, so in issue 047 of Zero Tolerance, I reviewed the tape version. Here’s what went down, to spare myself a bit of redundancy:

Funny, in retrospect, that I compared Dizziness to Kawir, as the former covers the latter’s “Nyx” classic on Offermort Heritage, which, as of this writing, is slated for release sometime in 2013 on Apocalyptic Art Records. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…or myself. Whichever.

DIZZINESS. What a fucking WEIRD moniker for a black metal band. Really, think about that one for a moment. Think some more.
…or is it really all that weird? (What is “weird,” anyway?)

Greek black metal, by its very nature, has always been a very windblown style of black metal. Whether it’s the first generation (Varathron, Rotting Christ, Necromantia, Septic Flesh, Nightfall, Zemial et al) who pulsed with a sulfurous, sandstormed duskiness or that more Nordic second generation (Legion of Doom, Nergal, Order of the Ebon Hand, Stutthof, Nocternity, the first Astarte album et al) who surged through icicle-choked castles – and, over the course of their long, luxurious career, Kawir have done both – wind, that ever-underestimated element, has always played a prominent textural role in the blackest Hellenic arts. It’s a vertigo like no other, one paradoxically of sumptuousness and splendor.

Now, have you ever rushed headlong into the wind? How ‘bout whilst cycling your psyche through the pulse of Hellenic black metal? It’s a very real and tangible euphoria, a certain psychedelic exhaustion that has little to do with “evil” constructs or passive “ritualism.” Rather, it’s a ritualism of the earth, sea, and sky, an elemental force that you try to grasp but allow to grasp you. At least that’s what I feel when I’m walking through the forest, getting outta my mind using my mind, stone-cold sober, being One and also Nothing with the music.

Or: that’s dizziness, and that’s Dizziness.

To that, there’s an opening instrumental entitled “Uplifting Touch,” and that is something I could get used to within black metal (but will save for some other post). There’s plenty of other evocative song titles here – “For Glory and Pride,” “Unveiling the Truth of the Universe,” “Mortuus Spes,” “The Age of Darkness”…and, um, the title track – all of which help this head head headlong into the wind (and my mind outta my mind, mind), and “Triumph of a Superior Idea” says a lot with very little and, at least titularly, possesses just enough Vague Sketchiness to get me excited in a vague way.

More specifically, Offermort Heritage possesses more personality than the first-mentioned split, or at least is a stronger, more concerted assertion of that original personality. For one thing, they’re allowing more space and spaciousness – or air? no, WIND – into that First-Gen-unto-Second-Gen Hellenic pulse, that duality of stoutness vs. litheness that similarly earmarks so much mid ‘80s synth-funk (I know: some other post), which, in this twisted, mostly-sober mind of mine, is equally underlined with a black- or maybe purple-velvet-draped mysticism. Or maybe just blackness. (I’m white, by the way.)

For another, like the best Greek black metal, the album possesses a strong heavy metal backbone without being overly obvious about it (another redundant construction there, I know) nor without it devolving into some stupid party music for Metalloid Scum. (Trust me, I know how to party, and have partied plenty in the past, and still do – hard – from time to time. There’s nothing wrong with partying to heavy metal, either, but make sure it’s FUCKING HEAVY METAL. Y’know, something with hooks or melodies or a vocal you can sorta sing along with. Whether that’s Priest or Pretty Maids, Ratt or Razor, Hellion or Heavy Pettin’, whatever – but seriously, no mongoloid When Comes The Vinyl Version? crap. Do that and I’ll blast my boogie 12”s that much louder and prance that much faggier and, er, ingest substances that will encourage an earnest exaggeration of same. And I’m NOT talking about Sausage Parties, either: that’s pretty much implied when Your Goal Is To Cult.)

I’m rather disappointed that this isn’t coming out on a bigger label – I tried my best, and I tried some more – as it’s likely gonna drown in a sea of obscurity. (Is that an element?) Then again, the last thing I wanna do at this point in my life is run a fuckin’ record label. But you’ve made it this far, so why not check ‘em out here and here? Hopefully, ya’ll will feel their “Uplifting Touch” soon, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


A storm is brewing…trust me. One last bit of Housecleaning and then we can party down/down/down. Like the last couple such posts here and here, this encapsulates an assload of reviews I wrote for Zero Tolerance the past couple years that were never published. Better late than never, right/write?

The difference this time, however, is that I’m doing a roundup of roundups: pretty clever, eh? Not really. Rather, an exercise in brevity, for these ever-hectic times, compounded 666 times. Because that’s a “human number,” after all.

Oh, and things/posts will be less Record Review-y in the future…maybe? Or hopefully. Or whatever. Postmodern ennui, baby.

Open wide for the bite-size…

Abyss Records roundup
MAAX – SIX PACK WITCHCRAFT: Motorcharge tank-rolling through tar (or maybe that’s Anti-Cimex stuck in molasses?) with an incongruously world-eating production quality. Actually, scratch “incongruously” and put “favorably,” as the unholy triumvirate of sex/drugs/rock ‘n’ roll should be apocalyptic…right? Right?! Efficiently destroys in 14 minutes: ace (of spades)! [4/6]

CHAOSSWORN – CHALICE OF BLACK FLAMES: Another EP, this one 15 minutes, and one that ranges a good decade-and-a-half’s worth of various Swedeath developments. I mean, they are Swedish, after all, and they did get Dan Swano to mix, but the relative variety’s spelling out “indecision” or least “lack of focus” to these ears. [2/6]

WAN – WOLVES OF THE NORTH: Fairly standard Celtic Frosty chug ‘n’ gallop crossed with late ‘90s Graveland…you don’t hear that much, eh? A humble/grandiose-enough template depending on your proclivities, and for better or worse, most songs are two-and-half-minutes long, somewhere between elevated-consciousness minimalism and special-needs sketch. Jury’s still out on that one. [3/6]

NOCTIS IMPERIUM – NIHIL: And yet again, almost another EP, as this one nearly tops out at a half-hour but is abetted by two live bonus tracks. Can’t say the length matters all that much because you otherwise get rote, by-the-numbers speedy blackened death whereby the best thing here’s a Morbid Angel cover…twice. [1.5/6]

Halvfabrikat roundup
PERSONKRETS 3:1 – BLODIGT KRIG 2003-2007: Personkrets 3:1 is dead – long live Personkrets 3:1. Pretty much their entire discography contained within, poignantly portraying the sonic development of Swedish HC during the Noughties, from post-Tragedy neo-crust to metallic Motorcharge. Always crushing. [4/6]

AKTIV DÖDSHJÄLP – MEN ALLTING HAR ETT SLUT: Whereby Aktiv Dödshjälp Go Metal. They were pretty metallic before as far as modern D-beating crust goes, but here they factor in straight-up metal elements like blackgrind and even (more so) mournful melodic DM not all that far removed from the ‘90s Gothenburg scene, not to mention some thematic synth running through the whole thing. And they do this all pretty seamlessly: ace! [4.5/6]

MISANTROPIC – INSOMNIA: Holy shit! Next to the more-patiently-destructive After the Bombs, this is the closest I’ve heard anyone lately sound like Sacrilege’s first record. A bit more Motorcharge here, too, but crushing and widescreen. [4.5/6]

PROTESTERA – 01.05.1886: Considerably better or at least much more powerful than their previous album – totally galloping neo-crust, and recorded well, to boot. Still, the we-go-to-great-lengths socialist posturing/pandering in the massive booklet gets on these tits: I DO NOT BELIEVE IT, COMRADE! [2.5/6]

Helvete.ru roundup
BLOOD DEVOTION – DEFILE OF INNOCENCE: Strongly reminding of the occasionally interesting Alghazanth, Russian mob Blood Devotion have a black metal sound that’s too polished for the underground and too raw for BM’s loosely affiliated aboveground. Given the option, I think I’d rather try to figure out whether I dig Alghazanth. [2.5/6]

VARIOUS ARTISTS -- HELVETIN MUSTA PETO: Perhaps THE ultimate Finnish UGBM compilation thus far assembled. All exclusive tracks, and the names should make you salivate enough: Ride for Revenge, Azaghal, Saturnian Mist, Barathrum, Musta Kappeli, and Anal Blasphemy among others. Also worth it for the haunting RFR epic alone. [5/6]

VERGE – TO REST THE LAST TIME IN OUR FILTH: Unsung Finn-filthbangers who are getting increasingly mystical and (more so) adventurous. This EP’s from 2008 and was their turning point toward those more mystical ends. An emotional rollercoaster which holds up well today. [4/6]

GRAMARY – SUFFOCATION: Never heard these Finns before, but they remind of Solistitium’s heyday: old-school Norse BM, fairly mystical, vaguely medieval in a swords-drawn-then-clanging-in-the-night-sky way. Does the trick wonderfully if you utilize those parameters. [3.5/6]

VIDHARR – ECLIPSE: These Italians go a similar route, but faster and grimmer and also less satisfyingly. Pretty well-written and -played, but could be a thousand other BM records currently making the rounds. [2.5/6]

FOURTH MONARCHY – AMPHILOCHIA: This is more like it: Italian BM that’s surging and mystical and more or less sounds like it’s coming straight from the middle of a blizzard. Again, can’t help but think of the Solistitium reference –  maybe 1998’s alive after all? [4/6]

DIAMATREGON – THE SATANIC DEVOTION: Fuck yeah, this is what I like to see. Way-overlooked (not to mention long-OOP) debut LP from these French nasties, wobbling between their off-the-rails filth and fractured downer-rock. Not quite masters at this point, but they were on their way: wild, at the very least. [3.5/6]

PATRIA – SOVEREIGN MISANTHROPY + GLORIA NOX AETERNA: Weird…for being Brazilian, Patria sure sound Finnish. That’s not a bad thing, mind: rubbed raw yet clearly played, reminding of transitional Horna (i.e., Nazgul passing the mic to Corvus) and/or millennial Azaghal, either way pure BM with strong songwriting. First-named record’s the real ass-kicker. [4/6 + 3.5/6]

Sun & Moon Records roundup
BEYOND LIGHT – ECLIPSED SUN PATH: Sad that this sounds like so much one-manned BMyspace pitter-patter, because there’s actually a few compelling melodic/textural ideas to be found amongst the heard-it-all-before hiss. Get this dude some better equipment and we could be in business. [2/6]

A WINTER LOST – WELTENENDE: …And a summer gained? Harhar… Now this is how down-tempo BM should be done: Burzumic flow, textured like a blizzard, but blessed with tasteful touches like acoustic guitar and ethereal female vox. Not groundbreaking by any means, but very solid for the form. [4/6]

ANNIVERSARY CIRCLE – SATURATED FEATHERS: Holy shit – this has got my name all over it. NADA!-era Death in June, mid-‘90s Mephisto Walz (which sounds like the mid ‘80s, anyway), early Sol Invictus, early Lycia…oooh, I’m love again. Granted, these are all pretty obvious darkwave and neofolk moves seen a mile away, but GODDAMN if Anniversary Circle don’t have the fucking songs to back up their (gorgeously cavernous) obviousness. You know already if you want this. [5/6]

SICULICIDIUM - UTOLSÓ VÁGTA AZ UNIVERZUMBAN: Say what? Oh, that’s Romanian. Anyway, Siculicidium play a pagan metal that reminds these ears of early Noughties Graveland but with a bouncier, even “playful” flair. You know already if you want this. [3/6]

Ajna Offensive/Unseen Forces roundup
DEATHCHARGE – LOVE WAS BORN TO AN EARLY DEATH LP: What began as meta-commentary on D-beat has, over the course of a teasingly sparse discography, blossomed into a deathrock powerhouse equal parts austere and assured. Compared to the scrappier The Hangman 7” six years previous, Deathcharge’s debut LP is a confident(ly throbbing) work, interstellarly recalling The Flesheaters fused with Ignorance-era Discharge or TSOL’s Revenge played by Killing Joke revisionists Charge. In other words, fucking GREAT. [4.5/6]

THE LAW – NONE ESCAPE LP: Indeed, none do (get it?). Funny thing is, the band’s moniker is actually an acronym for “Love And Wisdom” – not all that surprising considering all three members hailed from the Source Family cult. Anyway, not much to get worked up over on this archival release: turn-of-‘80s American metal like late ‘70s KISS and very early Virgin Steele, not without its lunkheaded charm, but mostly tepid and unexciting. Sweet look, though. [2/6]

ASTAROTH – SATANSPIRITUS 7”: Another archival release here, judging by its (authentically) early ‘70s hard rock sound, not unlike Cream getting their occult on. A-side’s an aquatic elegy to the titular Astaroth while the B-side vamps on how “Satan is coming to take us away.” Altogether kinda cool, but unfortunately a tad short: each track tops out at three minutes, when the (presumably) evil portent could’ve been more effective at double that. [3/6]

REVERORUM IB MALACHT – URKAOS LP: From former Dödfödd mainman Atum comes this beguiling entity, its debut full-length spread across two LPs (and a bonus CD of the same material). Huge booklet of script, too, which goes some ways in explaining the expansive black (metallish) sounds here, ranging Leviathan-esque vortexes to VON-esque retardo-drone to clanging dark ambient and plenty in between, all of it buried in a mile of murk. Pretty fascinating stuff – especially considering Atum’s conversion to Christianity, inexplicable as that may be – but also pretty exhausting. [3.5/6]

DOLORVOTRE – S/T CD: Arguably the most underrated of the justifiably hot Black Twilight Circle, Dolorvotre embody many of the key characteristics of that micro-scene – spiraling surge, subtly virtuostic playing, a sort of flailing mysticism – but instead, the duo douse their frequently skronking riff-attack with a slashing melancholy that really gnaws into your psyche. As some lyrics to the rather explanatory “Worship Black Twlight” corroborate, “Secrecy, ritual / THC, alcohol.” Crucial album here, folks. [5/6]

SATURNALIA TEMPLE – AION OF DRAKEN CD: Two words: Electric Wizard. And two more: occult doom. You should already whether you’re onboard. That’s not to say that Aion Of Draken is total Supercoven retread, rather that it alternately adds a bit of swagger in the music and some monasticism in the vox. Firm but familiar territory, no more and no less. [3/6]

Adverse Order Music roundup
ILL OMEN – DIVINITY THROUGH UN-CREATION: A crystal geyser of grim splendor and sumptuous(ly hazy) dissonance. Tension soon becomes soothing, and within its murky depths lies beautiful ugliness/ugly beauty. And yes: it’s black metal! Absolutely masterful stuff. Australian BM’s gonna get you…and I’m gonna get gone. [5/6]

TEMPLE NIGHTSIDE – PROPHECIES OF MALEVOLENCE: Unique one for modern OZBM, at least the variety proffered by The Order of the Black Serpent gang. Here, Ill Omen mainman IV goes a more bestial direction, but more in suggestion rather than form. A bleary (kinda-)beauty to be found here, as well. [4.5/6]

ATRA – IN REVERENCE OF DECAY: Next to Drowning the Light, the one-manned Atra is the most emblematic of this rising, reigning paradigm; not surprisingly, mainman Blackheart also moonlights in DTL. Anyway, second full-length here amidst a flurry of demos and EPs, and prolly the dude’s best stuff: just total blackout metal. [4.5/6]

ATRA – UP-TURNING THE CURSE: Atra’s thing, at least in (drowning the) light of his native contemporaries, is largely eschewing mysticism in favor of misery – not too shabby a tradeoff, eh? As the title suggests, a concerted (down)turn toward downtimes, although with some obvious nods toward old Polish BM…or maybe you can’t shake the mysticism, after all? [4/6]

Heidens Hart Records roundup
ANCESTORS BLOOD – WHEN THE FOREST CALLS: Indeed, when it does! Strictly late ‘90s-styled black metal, but done with power and panache. The atmosphere could either be medieval or woodland depending on your destination – and old Abigor’s a touchstone for both – but rest assured that you’ll reach for the stars here. [4.5/6]

HEIMDALLS WACHT – NICHTORTE: Reissue of these Germans’ 2010 album. For pagan BM, these dudes palatably think outside the box, safely avoiding gawky hey-nonny-nonny-isms and instead driving closer to debut-era Kampfar. Nowhere near as supreme, of course, but you get the idea…. [4/6]

HEIMDALLS WACHT – UT DE GRAUTE OLLE TIED: Another reissue, this one from ’08. A bit more blood/fire/death here and also a bit more centrist/idiomatic, but the songs are just as stout(ly hypnotic). Gets the job done regardless. [4/6]

LUGUBRE – CHAOSKULT: Odds ‘n’ sods collection from these perennial underachievers…really, who’s the market for this? A few gems to be found here, like the stiflingly Transilvanian Hungry “Nuclear Counterstrike,” but otherwise the epitome of mediocre. [2/6]

ZWARTPLAAG – HAATSTORM: More workmanlike Dutch BM here, only slightly less mediocre…which isn’t saying much. Or anything. Is underachieving BM a national epidemic? Their name translates to “Black Plague,” after all. [2/6]

GESTALTE – GESTALTE: Then again, Gestalte hail from the Netherlands and are no slouch. Grim ‘n’ traditionalist BM totally under a funeral moon, Gestalte are at their best when the hypnosis is stretched over longer lengths. Happens more often than not here. [3.5/6]

KJELD – DE TIID HÂLDT GJIN SKOFT: Kjeld also hail from the Netherlands, and are likewise no slouch with their MCD. Their songs are longer, but they forego hypnosis for a more hyperactive-yet-melancholic BM. Not as much to my taste, but solid nevertheless. [3/6]

MURW – KANKER: Oddball here – amongst this bunch, anyway – as we’ve got winding ‘n’ wandering doom-death inna old Opeth stylee. Kinda cool since Opeth really no longer sound like Opeth, but the mind also wanders… [3/6]