When I heard that this year el Camino will release their third full length after a four years absence I was very hyped because I really love this Swedish group and their cursed doom they’re playing. I liked a lot The Satanik Magick debut LP ( Hail the Horns is a real anthem), Smaland was a nice interlude EP with a very interesting Venom cover (this Swedish version of In League With Satan sounds even better than the original) and Gold of the Great Deceiver was very enjoyable.
So you can imagine my surprise when I read in the press release I received that el Camino plays some sort of malicious black metal with a Dissection-esque touch and “it’s most reminiscent of the Greek black metal scene”. I immediately asked myself what the fuck is happening here, have they changed their style and jumped onto the black metal bandwagon, or the guy who wrote the description smoked something toxic and was talking about another band and its new album?
Since I was devoured by excitement and curiosity, I anxiously pressed the “play” button and I was instantly relieved: el Camino did not change their style at all, instead they added that extra something (maturity and experience, let’s call it) that will turn Cursed Congregation into their best work so far.
Many years ago, a Swedish band issued a bold statement that their music was the “audial essence of pure evil”. This might have been correct 25 years ago, but now, in 2017, this statement is no longer true. One of the few bands which this sentence can apply to 100% is Sektarism and their sick music.
The perfect way to sustain this idea is “La Mort de L’Infidèle“, an album which was released by Zanjeer Zani on the 19th of May. While this is only their second full length in almost 10 years of existence, Sektarism have well established themselves as the perfect instrument of faith and devotion which spreads the love and adoration for god. This band (and the music it creates) is only a tool with which the 4 members propagate their beliefs and creeds, by writing and composing religious hymns to glorify the almighty.
What can be said of an album that has only 3 songs but lasts for more than an hour? One thing would definitely be that it’s not boring, even if its length can be discouraging. The first track, “Ô Seigneur” is more like a prayer, a litany sung to underline the faith with which the band serves their God and a perfect way to immerse you in the twisted atmosphere of the album. Then comes, with its menacing title, “Brûle L’Hérétique“, a 20 minute track during which, if you close your eyes and let your imagination flow, you can picture a town’s square, a crowd gathered to receive the daily dose of entertaining and a stake which the heretic is tied to. “Par tes langues innombrables, ronge la chair de l’athée” ( By your countless tongues, gnaw the atheist’s flesh). You can already feel the smell of burning human flesh, don’t you?
The last track, “Conscience, Révolte, Perte du Moi” is also the longest one and contains in 30 minutes the whole quintessence of Sektarism’s ideology. A “shamanik” drum starts slowly and keeps the same obsessive pace for almost the whole duration of the song, accompanied by an organized “cacophony” of sounds and possessed screams. A truly inspiring track, “Conscience” is the perfect way to end such a psychedelic and religious album.
“La Mort de L’Infidèle” is not a musical album per se, it’s a collection of 3 hymns dedicated to the glory of the Almighty. If you are looking for catchy riffs and addictive rhythms, well, you better look somewhere else cause this release, like any other Sektarism releases, is not for the faint of heart. The atmosphere is crushing, like each guitar chord weighs at least a ton. The sound is abrasive and BerZerK‘s harsh voice and desperate screams create a hysteric atmosphere, like some sect of religious fanatics are performing a sinister ceremony in an underground cave. To understand what I’m trying to describe here you must attend a Sektarism ceremony or at least watch a live video on YouTube. The effect is guaranteed, I can assure you.
Returning to the last album, well, this ain’t an easy listening. To really enjoy this album you must be in the mood, otherwise you will not understand a thing. It’s definitely not the commercial record you put on while reading a book, but once the sounds and the lyrics enter your system, you’ll be corrupted for good. The rhythm is slow as a giant anaconda slithering on the ground in search of food. Here the food is made of new souls which Sektarism looks to corrupt. First of all, the rhythm section is amazing, Kristik A.K.‘s bass is one of the heaviest I have ever heard and goes hand in hand with the obsessive drums of Shamaanik B. The guitar parts played by Messiatanik Armrek are as dissonant as possible, contributing to this psychedelic and demented atmosphere which make of “La Mort de L’Infidèle” such a powerful album. Add to all of that the vocals of Eklezias’tik BerZerK and you have the complete picture of that religious ceremony I was talking about.
All along the album, the ritualistic drums will pound their obsessive rhythm into your ears and head, driving you crazy with a mystical ecstasy. I am not joking, if you listen to this album properly, with the right atmosphere, you will most likely have the impression that you’ll start bleeding from your freshly acquired stigmata wounds.
Do you remember that famous line from Manowar‘s “Kings of Metal“: “Other bands play, Manowar kills”?. The same thing applies in this case: while (many) other bands play nowadays with this occult satanic devil worshiping thing, Sektarism is dead serious about what they sing and they really practice what they preach. There is no commercial gimmick here, only true devotion and true believers. The music on “La Mort de L’Infidèle” is like a soundtrack for penitence, an audio companion of a ceremony performed by mad zealots.
Unfortunately for those who do not speak French, they will most likely not understand the message spread out in the lyrics, but I cannot imagine Sektarism sing in any other language than French. Everything flows so well in this beautiful language and every word, every intonation will immediately loose their meaning and sense if sung in English. The mysticism of the words combined with the mysticism of the language form a powerful religious bond which, together with the instruments, make “La Mort de L’Infidèle” such a powerful and frightening album.
I totally recommend buying this majestic piece of art, since “La Mort de L’Infidèle” will soon become one of the milestones of religious music in extreme metal. Released in several formats, from the standard DLP to a Die Hard version limited to only 66 copies and from a deluxe cross shaped digipak (limited to 499 copies) to a gold tape, Sektarism‘s sophomore full length is a living testament and proof that when religion is mixed with music in a proper way, the final result can only be blasphemy.
I also want to mention the artwork of “La Mort de L’Infidèle“, which is brilliant and I really think that Mystik Dementia (drawings) and Eklezias’tik Berzerk (conception and page layout) have definitely outdone themselves. If you want to see (and listen) why I praised this album so much, just do yourselves a favor and buy it, you will not be disappointed.
En Son Nom. Ad Vitam Aeternam.
Sektarism – “La Mort de L’Infidèle” tracklist:
1. Ô Seigneur
2. Brûle l’Hérétique
3. Conscience, Révolte, Perte du Moi
Sektarism line up:
Eklezias’tik BerZerK – vocals
Kristik A.K. – bass
Shamaanik B. – drums
Messiatanik Armrek – guitars
Recorded live in 2011, just before the release party for the Year of the Goat box set, what is now known as Metalion 50 Years of Fucking Off Life has been immortalized on vinyl by the Italian label FOAD Records in May 2017.
The name of the band which played these tracks is MÖRBIT and consists of several well known musicians from the Swedish extreme scene. They have decided to put up this band in order to play some Morbid tracks at the above mentioned release party and, the night before the show they recorded their rehearsal as a funeral party for Metalion‘s Slayer Mag and as a tribute to Per Yngve Ohlin, aka Dead, which was Morbid‘s singer for a little while, before moving to Norway to join Mayhem.
This tribute band consists of Peter Stjarvind (drums), Erik Wallin (guitar), David Blomqvist (guitar), Tyrant (bass) and Erik Danielsson (vocals). The fact that these super musicians have united to play some classic Morbid tracks is pretty awesome, but to record this rehearsal at the infamous Watain‘s Wolf Lair is beyond words.
The vinyl, which was released in several formats (red splatter, clear red and black), came out on the 26th of May and has become a really important document in the history of extreme metal. Not only because of the awesome line-up – musicians who play(ed) in bands like Entombed, Damnation, Merciless, Nifelheim, Dismember and Watain – but also because of the tracks featured on this record, which basically contain the whole classic December Moon demo, released in 1987. Continue reading MÖRBIT (Morbid) – “METALION: 50 years of fucking off life Vinyl review – June 2017 AB→
Aseara in Fabrica s-a intamplat ceva ce nu as fi crezut ca ma va face sa traiesc una din cele mai misto seri din ultimul timp. A fost vorba mai exact prima seara din Cobra Fest, organizat de baietii de la The Guest. Partea super misto a acestui fest e ca show-urile au loc in 3 locatii diferite, scena acustica de pe terasa, scena din B52 si scena din Fabrica. Astfel, publicul se plimba dintr-o parte in alta cu lejeritate, sunt baruri peste tot, e si merch si per total aseara chiar a fost o atmosfera ca afara. Concertele au inceput, cu mici exceptii, la orele stabilite, contribuind astfel la fluiditatea atmosferei, daca pot spune asa.
Seara a inceput cu micuta trupa Alice Null pe scena acustica, concertul lor debutand la 7 jumate fix. Spun “micuta” pentru ca aceasta trupa e un duo, deci descrierea chiar merge in cazul asta. Timpul alocat lor a fost de jumatate de ora, prilej suficient pentru ei de a-si prezenta piesele atmosferice in fata unui public nou, probabil nefamiliarizat cu muzica trupei bucurestene.
Cand ai in fata o trupa de care nu stii nimic, nu prea ai idee la ce sa te astepti, asa ca reactia destul de “molcoma” de la inceput a fost pe deplin justificata.
Piese ca You, Beating sau In my Dreams au creat o atmosfera destul de “trista” si deprimanta, in deplina concordanta cu soarele care apunea peste oras. Cu un sunet excelent facut de baietii de la Green Sound Team, Alice Null au mai facut aseara un mic pas catre iesirea din anonimat, concertul lor fiind destul de reusit.
Last Saturday, Club Control in Bucharest hosted a very interesting Spiritual Front show. The Italian trio played 2 dates in this part of Europe, one on Friday in Sofia, Bulgaria and the other the next day in Bucharest. For the Romanian date, the promoter ( Final Step Productions ) selected the young band Alice Null to open the hostilities.
The concert was supposed to start at 20.00 sharp, but it was delayed a bit because of the soundcheck both bands had to perform. For Alice Null this was the most important concert so far so before the show the tension was sky high. Once on stage the Bucharest based duo immediately felt at ease and immersed themselves and the audience into an atmosphere worthy of a Twin Peaks episode.
As I already mentioned it in the previous Pagan Megalithreview, before recording the second album in 2010, the band decided to sleep the sleep of death for an unlimited period of time. In 2016 they awakened from their silent slumber and their long awaited album “Viharjárás” (Stormburst) was finally released. In February 2017 Neverheard Distro released it on tape as well. What better way to listen to this opus than on tape?
Recorded in the same successful formula than “Ólomharangok” (Leadenbells), (AE and Tuhlv), this sophomore album sees Pagan Megalith taking their music a step further on the evolution scale. Gone is the Gorgoroth vibe which dominated the previous album, instead their compositions are imbued with a more personal and sorrowful feeling.
The speed has maybe decreased a bit, replacing the previous groovy attitude with more elaborate compositions full of hate and disgust but overall, the whole dominant feeling is one of nihilism and hate. Again, don’t expect an album full of ballads and odes to love. No, no, no. There’s plenty of blast bea(s)ts on this album, but the drumming has shifted towards a certain nostalgia instead of a simple aggressive style. Continue reading Pagan Megalith – Viharjárás – Neverheard Distro 2016 AB→
Since I put my hands on Bathsheba‘s latest release I thought about making an interview with them. I was so much into the music and the atmosphere present on Servus that first I wrote a review for it and then I wanted to know more about the band and how this cursed piece of art came into being. Then, all of a sudden, strange things happened in my life and Servus became my companion for many darkened days and nights. It’s music has cured me and infected me at the same time, so addicted I was with this vinyl which I span many many times.
When asking Bathseba if they wanted to do this interview, Michelle (vocals) accepted instantly. I sent her my questions, fearing they will not be good enough. But when she sent me the replies, I was amazed by her answers. I can honestly say that this interview is one of the most personal and in depth encounters I have ever had with a musician/band, since the beginning of ScrollsofDarmoth.
Read the interview, press the “Play” button and immerse yourselves in the magic that is “Servus“. Enjoy!!
1. Bathsheba appeared as if out of nowhere, first with a demo (Demo MMXIV), then with the MLP (“The Sleeping Gods”) and this year with this impressive album. Please tell me how you guys decided to start this band and what were your expectations, if you had any, concerning the band, the scene etc.?
M: End 2013 Jelle called me to ask if I was interested in making a band with him. He was thinking Pallbearer, Wounded Kings etc. He had a friend, Dwight, who would be playing guitar. I am not really into that kind of music but I know how open minded Jelle is and what a great person and drummer he is too. I know him from the tour we did (Grand Magus, Sardonis, Serpentcult) in 2008. So I was up for it. We started rehearsing early 2014. Raf was a friend of mine and he was immediately up for it too when we asked him. So Jelle and Dwight were more into the traditional doom while I was heading for a sludge black metal direction. So I guess we made a good compromise! Our expectations were just to have fun but do it well and see what would come on our road. We had open minds about it and although we were realistic we also had dreams.
2. What does Bathsheba mean to you, how would you describe this band to someone who doesn’t know you at all? An alien, for example 🙂
M: Good question. I would say that BATHSHEBA is the embodiment of the musical expression, emotions and thoughts of four different individuals. BATHSHEBA is inspired by burden and frustration and thus carries that sound with it. But with that it also carries the beauty of darkness, if you listen well. It’s not for all but either you get it, or you don’t.
3. The album name and the cover are quite simple but eloquent. What’s the connection between “Servus” and the woman on the cover? Does it have something to do with religion?
M: Servus means slave in Latin and refers mainly to the enslavement of life’s suffering. Being completely crushed under that weight and unable to move forward or backward, therefore you have to surrender at a certain point. The character on the cover is praying, suffering and loses herself. When losing yourself you can get lost very far. You can find yourself again or versions of yourself that are either beautiful or unbearably monstrous. You can look at it from a very earthly point of view but also a religious and even an esoteric one. The artwork was done by Olivier Lomer (www.dissolvtion.com) whom you might know from the bands Emptiness and Enthroned. I explained a bit what I wanted and we let him work his magic. He was spot on I think. He also has a very particular own style which I adore.
4. Besides the music, I find the lyrics on “Servus” very powerful and extremely well written. They have an “occult”, almost religious touch, but they do not carry an “open” evil message, it’s rather concealed and can only be discovered by reading between the lines. Since I assume you are the one in charge with writing them, please tell me where did you get the inspiration from when you wrote them?
M: You describe it very well. The inspiration is mainly from life, death, pain, suffering, that sort of emotions and personal experiences. But I am very much inspired by a book called ‘The Story of my Heart’ from Richard Jefferies who was a naturalistic writer and brought out this book in 1882. We have something in common: We look at people/situations/… in that naturalistic way. As if it were water, fire, trees, air,.. How life is made, how we are made. I understand life better that way. For instance if you are blocked in your emotions it means you are like dry earth. Unmovable and unable to grow anything in it. And you need either air to make things lighter or water to make things moldable and softer. Everything that happens in life you can somehow draw back to basic elements and that makes everything more simple. I always look to closely, make everything too complicated so this is a good help to me. I am also inspired by Solomon’s writings. They are about more esoteric subjects that live in the spirit world. You can draw that back too, just the other way around. When you take things that are bigger than you and look how those forces work and place yourself in a bigger sphere somehow. That was the biggest influence; to take that higher force that is much more than you and place yourself in perspective with it. It makes you feel small and insignificant while on the other hand the burden and bleakness on earth feel unbearable.
5. If we look at the patterns, doom metal is the privilege of male singers but recently many female fronted bands have appeared on the firmament. But unlike most of these bands (which are great, if you ask me), you took a different, heavier approach. Your style is closer to bands like Shape of Despair, rather than Blood Ceremony, for example. Was it planned from the start to play this sort of cursed doom?
M: Yes exactly. I’m glad you say that. I was never interested in making that doomy occult rock. It’s well done but it doesn’t grab me. It doesn’t touch me in the way that I want. I told that when I entered the band that this occult rock would never be a thing for me. I have to feel it, in my bones and I apparently can only be touched by more heavy, obscure or avant-garde music. It doesn’t always have to be heavy to be heavy if you get me. But I very often find music too happy in my ears and then you lost me. To name some musicians or bands that really touch me; Bethlehem, Ved Buens Ende, Dodheimsgard, Sigur Ros, Thom Yorke, Ennio Morricone, Arvo Pärt, …
6. Initially there were 2 guitar players in Bathsheba, but now there’s only Dwight. Do you think that adding another guitar to back Dwight up might make the sound heavier, or are you happy with how things are going right now?
M: We are sometimes still having that discussion. I prefer to stay as we are because it works. Another person would somehow always be ‘the one who joined’. I prefer small groups and practically it’s easier to have fewer people, also don’t like people in general. I’m very fond of the line up now and I hate change. But I am only 1/4th of the band of course. I would love to have a dear friend of mine, who is a great musician, to play with us for a gig or add some guitars on a song. Maybe for the recordings we will add some extra’s but I don’t think we will have a 5th fixed member.
7. Your voice is really special, allowing you to switch between a harsh, sometimes “schizophrenic” tone to a clear one in the blink of an eye. How hard it is to take care of it, do you practice any special exercises to protect it?
M: It’s not hard to switch for me between these voices. I feel the need to try new things and go further so I think it would be good to protect my voice better and to have some kind of ritual to practice and so preserve health for my vocal chords. On the other hand I hope I won’t lose that spontaneity that helps me in making vocal lines.
8. For those who did not have the chance to see Bathsheba live yet, tell me what does a concert represent for you? From what I saw on YouTube, you seem to be in a very special mood while playing, like someone else is taking over your body as you perform. Do you do something special to get into that trance-like state or it just comes naturally? How much does a show consume you?
M: The live atmosphere is described as ‘introvert, aggressive and full of frustration’ and I think that covers it well. I feel there is something inside that needs to get out. I don’t really think about what I’m doing at that moment. It’s not a performance as in I haven’t prepared it. It’s more a spontaneous process and I like to keep it that way. Playing live takes much from me because It’s a fight against keeping things inside and letting things go. I love it as well because it takes off some pressure. After a show I am really not in a communicative state and I preferably just go home or to a hotel to get back to a better state of mind. I tend to move in a certain way it seems. It just comes, I can’t just stand still. I have to feel it. I suppose in a way it’s a bit of a trance when you just surrender to that moment. I hope I can surrender more and more.
9. What kind of books do you read? Do you draw your inspiration also from literature? Have you read “Bruges la Morte”, by Georges Rodenbach?
M: That sounds like an interesting book. I have to say I don’t like to read romans. I prefer to read about history, space, nature etc. To name some books that inspire me: “The story of my Heart” by Richard Jefferies which I mentioned before, I love to read “The Book of Lies” by Crowley, I am very much inspired by “Compendium for Ritual Plants” from Marcel De Cleene and Marie Claire Lejeune. This last book is actually a book about herbs. In this book the medical purpose of plants is described. But also the traditions and rituals that came with those herbs. I love books like “The Bible through Judas Eyes”, books about Nostradamus,… When writing music or lyrics I sometimes just looks through my books of minerals, plants or mushrooms to help me make words clearer.
10. What is music for Michelle Nocon and how would you describe it? Did it change your life?
M: There are two things in life that drive me. That’s not love or friendship, money or health. It’s music and nature. I’m not a social person. Either I’m doing music, or I am in nature. There is nothing else for me here. Music definitely changed my life. It always understood me as I understood it. It can make my mood swing in just a second. It brings out the best in me and the worse. It heals me and kills me at the same time and it’s therefore my biggest addiction. I don’t need to be famous or big, I just need to be free and free to make the music I want to make. All the rest that comes with it is trivial.
11. The spoken intro and outro of Servus are very interesting, they both express an anti-religious statement, so to speak. Is Bathsheba’s message the same?
M: Thanks for bringing that up. I can’t really say we have a message. We don’t make music to get a message across but rather to express ourselves. When that gets picked up by someone, that is great of course. It’s more an expression of the bleakness of life. You can believe in anything you want, or in nothing. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Life is suffering to me. I can pray to a god or pray to a demon, believe in nothing at all or believe in some afterlife and karma. It is what it is, indifferent to what I believe or feel. On the other hand I do believe we can somehow create our own reality. But we don’t seem to do very well. So the suffering is on.
12. Since I bought the vinyl, I listen to it on repeat, it is unbelievably addictive. Did you summon Bathsheba during the recordings so she might conquer the hearts of all men? Are you happy with the way this album turned out?
M: Thank you so much! I think I did summon something when making the demo. It felt like something inside me changed when I was making this album. And I am very grateful for that. That something changed me, matured me, beat me, cured me. And I hope it beats the shit out of you all, cures all of you and then beats the hell out of you again. Because that’s how it should be. I think music should really touch a person. I am not a person that is satisfied or happy about things I do. I am not someone who easily says I liked what I did. But I am kind of proud of this album. It’s the first album that I can listen to, the first time I like my voice and I unleashed something inside of me that I know can grow even further. And I hope we can keep growing as much and wide as we can.
13. “Ain Soph”, the second track, stands out from the other songs, mainly because of the very cool blast beats and of that psychedelic saxophone. Who came up with the idea of having these 2 (atypical) elements in your music?
M: I wished for a black metal vibe somewhere on the album and at a point they send me a first try out version of Ain Soph. So I was in for it and immediately made a vocal line on it. Then when the song was “ready” we found there was something lacking on that particular part in the song. So I started looking for samples and thought a crazy freejazz sax sample would be great. Then Jelle said it would be cool to have a real sax player. Then I remembered I knew Peter Verdonck (Wound Collector) and he once said he really wanted to do something together musically because he loved what I had done with Serpentcult. So I thought I’d give it a try and ask him. He was immediately up for it. In the studio when Peter tried his crazy sax solo’s we were all so enthusiast. He had 3 different versions for the two solo’s. He recorded every part in one hit and we chose the one we liked best together.
14. Who exactly is “your ” Satan you talk about in the “Manifest”? Is it your own Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hide?
M: Exactly. You could say that two bad sides of yourself are having a duel. It doesn’t matter what you chose and where you turn, you somehow always do bad. You’re somehow always confronted with that evil. I also had a relation that was quit destructive at that time so my inner world was somehow reflected in that relation.
15. Speaking of “Manifest”, I know it’s not you who played it, but how did Dwight conceive that beautiful guitar solo? It is absolutely haunting and it gives the song a superb feeling of loss and despair.
M: That song goes way back. It was already on the demo in 2014 but it got a serious upgrade. The guys were jamming that ending until they had a structure but in meanwhile Dwight was doing a solo and he just made it as long as he needed it to be. So we let him do his thing and then they worked around his solo with the structure. Dwight got inspired by the main musical theme of the song which has that feeling of loss and despair but also something majestic about it.
16. Your last name reads the same even backwards, like a magick word. Does it have a special meaning or it’s just pure coincidence?
M: The C of Christ in the middle! I’m the chosen one apparently. It’s my dad’s family name but since I don’t have any connection to my family I’m seriously thinking of changing my name. I love the thought of not belonging anywhere.
It seems like we have reached the end of this interview. Thank you so much, Michelle, for accepting this, it really means a lot to me. I wish you all the best, both on a personal and professional level and who knows, maybe one day soon I’ll see you guys play live somewhere. As always, I leave the last words to you:
M: Thank you so much Matei for giving us the opportunity to tell more about the band, our music and ourselves. Come say hello if we cross each other. I would like to express my gratitude and may that nihilism take you.