Welcome to 2012—jump on the wagon with all the doomsayers, who act like they’re just kidding, but are truly afraid this year may be the last for humanity. Please people, spend your savings and act like it’s the end of the world. If you continue to live for tomorrow today is going to pass you by. This new year of our apocalypse we have an interview with a long standing doom spreader himself, vocalist Aaron Stainthrope of legendary UK doom/goth metal band My Dying Bride, who released their new EP The Barghest O' Whitby in November. Also for your apocalyptic fantasies we have reviews of Austrian Death Machine, Brutal Truth, Nightwish, Pestilential Shadows, Vildhjarta and Vise Massacre. Also as usual there’s plenty of metal shows to be had this week/weekend.
Coming up January, Napalm Flesh is looking to be full of black metal with long standing USBM act Krieg, coming to town on Jan. 21. We’ll have an interview with the man behind it all, Imperial. Also in the coming weeks, expect interviews with the potently nasty new east coast black meatl band Pact, and that Abigail Williams band.
Tonight Kilby Court plays host to Mister Richter, Demented Asylum and Castleaxe. A whopping $6 gets you in, tunes underway around 8 p.m.
Friday night the 6th, The South Shore Bar & Grill has touring band Silent Civilian headlining with Mureau, Vengeance, Deny Your Faith, Prosthetic Heads and Downfall. Tickets $10, music at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, CastleAxe plays Burt’s with Visigoth, Toxic Dose and Huldra, $5 gets you in tunes at 9 p.m.
Interview with Aaron Stainthrope of My Dying Bride
SLUG: I want to share my review of your new EP to start things off…
My Dying Bride
The Barghest O' Whitby
My Dying Bride = Anathema (old) + Paradise Lost + Mourning Beloveth
“Fevering thoughts all hollow and old - Shivering veins now running cold - When dawns were young and woodland green - And silvery moons as often seen.” This is the My Dying Bride I loved in the earlier days. The band’s last couple full-lengths, A Line of Deathless Kings and For Lies I Sire, were a bit of a misfire for my tastes—they weren’t bad albums by any means, but compared to The Dreadful Hours and The Angel and the Dark River they didn’t showcase the complete depressive depravity and despair that My Dying Bride is famous for. This 27-minute EP is a fresh shot of absolute horror and dread that can only come from My Dying Bride. Barghest really feels like it could’ve come straight from the time that The Dreadful Hours came out. Sharp, heavy guitars are juxtaposed with bone-marrow freezing violin work and vocalist Aaron Stainthrope’s harsh screams and mournful swooning. Complete immersion in the EP can result in feeling exactly as if you’re in the dark seaside moors of Whitby, being stalked by unseen and unspeakable terror. –Bryer Wharton
Obviously the review is opinion based, but what feedback would you give, me the writer from you the musician of what My Dying Bride were trying to capture with the latest EP.
Aaron Stainthorpe: Well the complete immersion bit is spot on as we really want people to indulge in the theme and atmosphere of the music because we’ve worked hard on creating that feeling and that’s because that’s the kind of feeling we are loving right now.
SLUG: Was there any sort of direct inspiration for the EP?
Stainthorpe: As a band we have almost completely ignored the local area surrounding us and so after our recent cover of “Scarborough Fair” we decided to look into the themes of folklore and myth in Yorkshire, The Barghest O’ Whitby being the direct result of that.
SLUG: My Dying Bride has tackled songs that give off elements of horror and dread. The imagery it puts forth truly makes me picture myself in my version of Whitby at night. Imagery is something MDB has always been great at capturing for myself. When you’re playing live or recording do you ever imagine that you’re someplace real or mythical?
Stainthorpe: I do when I’m composing the lyrics and when we rehearse new music, but it’s a bit tricky to really get immersive in the studio when you have to do 500 takes! Live is better because I indulge completely in each character, throwing myself into their invariable mishaps with aplomb. Atmosphere is everything for us and we craft our music for that purpose. We want to take people from the hum drum of the everyday into a different world, even if it is filled with horror and dread, because it’s almost always better than real life.
SLUG: Along that same regard if My Dying Bride could play any location on earth, where would you choose?
Stainthorpe: Easy: the Minack Theatre in Cornwall (www.minack.com) has all the passion and feeling you could ever want from a venue with the added bonus that it overlooks the sea! It’s brilliant there!
SLUG: My Dying Bride is part of a legendary trio of bands that basically pioneered the doom/death metal genre. How has your mindset changed from when you doing things in the early ’90s as compared to now?
Stainthorpe: Without sounding like a complete dullard, it hasn’t much. I wanted to create music with passion and heart breaking emotion, but I loved doom, death and goth metal so naturally incorporated all three into our work, and that’s how I see the band still. Naturally we weave a few other elements into our compositions too but generally you’ll be getting a heavy dose of melancholy, a side of lust and a large helping of religious literary sideswiping.
SLUG: Where does the bulk of lyrical and musical inspiration come from for the band?
Stainthorpe: Reading, mostly, although the arts in general have all contributed to form the way of my stylus. I love reading and photography and indulge in both as often as time will allow.
SLUG: What is next for My Dying Bride and what can fans expect?
Stainthorpe: The next full length studio LP is on the cards for us sometime in the first half on 2012 and it’s well underway, with about half of it already written. We may well record it in a similar style to Barghest in that it will mostly be done live and raw, complete with feedback and the odd guitar string screech, which is just how we’re liking our sound right now.
SLUG: How would you describe what you do to a person who has never heard a riff from the band?
Stainthorpe: I’d tell them that we create emotional music, mostly of the broken heart kind but with lashings of pain and agony as well as delving into horror and lust – from mournful violins and whispered vocals to crushing guitars, manic drums and guttural roaring, and everything in between. Sort of. And then say check out www.mydyingbride.co.uk for some live dates and come and see us.
SLUG: There are plenty of artists trying to make a niche or some statement in the same genre realm as My Dying Bride. What do you think it takes to make a firm statement in metal let alone the doom aspect of it?
Stainthorpe: I’m not sure these days really. When we formed, 21 years ago, we just wanted to create miserable music and deliver it to as many folk as possible without too much fuss but it seems that to make any impression today you must have a gimmick as your music won’t be enough, which seems a little sad. You should be in it for the soul and to hell with what anyone else thinks!
SLUG: Evinta seems like it was a great undertaking—it seems that it would be difficult to reinterpret songs, especially ones that you’ve performed for a long time or just spent a great deal of effort already in getting them to where they were. How difficult was it?
Stainthorpe: Very difficult actually. It would have been simple to just grab a few favorites, pass them on to an orchestra and a producer and say “make this happen” but that’s a job for a lesser band perhaps—we wanted something much more indulgent. We analyzed every song we’ve created, noted the very best parts, be it guitar, violin, vocals, put them all into a metaphorical hat, mixed it up a bit and began pulling out passages and putting them together with other parts from totally different albums creating new compositions. Then getting the classical musicians in and working with them and Johnny Maudling (Bal Saggoth) to structure them coherently, adding the talents of mezzo soprano Lucie Roche, a whole bung of new lyrics and hoping that it would all make sense—which it does. If I may be so bold, it sounds truly epic, like the soundtrack to the greatest goth, fantasy, noir movie of all time.
SLUG: On Evinta you got to work with some artists outside of the “metal” realm. Is there any musician you wish you could work with in the future?
Stainthorpe: I met Tom Warrior from Celtic Frost a few years ago and would live to work with him, as I’ve been a fan for quarter of a century. You never know, it may actually happen one day.
SLUG: If anything, what do you hope someone listening to My Dying Bride may take away?
Stainthorpe: An uplifting experience (despite the misery) which may be breathtaking, beautiful and sinister all at the same time. I want people to feel our music and not just listen to it.
Blog Exclusive CD Reviews
Austrian Death Machine
Jingle All The Way
Century Media Records
Austrian Death Machine = Killswitch Engage + a dash of thrash + Schwarzenegger love
As I Lay Dying front man Tim Lambesis has called this, his solo side project, “an outlet of pure testosterone and stupidity”. And who am I to argue? Luckily, the result is hilarious, heavy AND stupid! Lambesis writes and records all aspects of this 3-song EP- based on the Governator’s worst movie—except the guitar solos and the Ahhnold impressions. The result is a solid metalcore foundation reminiscent of early Killswitch Engage: it’s fast, guttural, a little predictable, and has a wicked solo for every song. Track two, “It’s Turbo Time,” stands out with its distinctly old-school thrash metal beginning, and hearing Lambesis scream “I am Turbo Man!” is not without its charm. The band isn’t out to break musical ground; it’s out to make you laugh while you enjoy some damn solid metal. Mission accomplished! Get to the choppa! –Megan Kennedy
Walking Corpse 2112 Digital EP
Brutal Truth = Terrorizer + Soilent Green + Agoraphobic Nosebleed
Coming in hot off their barn-burner of a full-length End Time, NY grindcrusher vets fart out a quick little teaser to let y'all know they're still kicking. Clocking in at just a hair over three minutes, Walking Corpse 2112 (an EP who's cover art boasts the ominous scum-sucker message "smoke grind sleep," a mantra for crusties the world over) practically ends before it begins. The title track treads pretty familiar territory, equal parts Terrorizer worship and mud-flecked bass, while "You Should Know Better" boasts an impressively spazzy technicality reigned in with a smidgen of NOLA sludge (smoke grind sleep) a'la Soilent Green biting the Tazmanian devil's juevos. All in all it's a grindy-banger, available for download only and cheaper than a sack of schwagg... just the way you degenerate goofballs like it. -Dylan Chadwick
Nightwish = Eden bridge + Within Temptation + Epica
Years ago Nightwish was hot stuff amongst metalheads even outside the genre they were part of—essentially symphonic, female-fronted power metal. The band did take a hit when their founding vocalist Tarja Turunen departed. Aside from her absence, Nightwish’s line-up has remained steady and the band’s first full-length with current vocalist Anette Olzon, Dark Passion Play, adapted to the different style of the vocalist—older fans were a bit disenchanted with the more pop oriented material, but it did bring decisive new blood into the band. I usually frown or disdain upon calling anything epic—but Imaginaerum really falls into that category, boasting ample helpings of the symphonic power metal Nightwish is known for with elements of blues/jazz type material encompassing some nice new eccentricities with easily the band’s biggest focus on folk elements ever in their music. Where the keyboards fell a bit flat on the last record they’re brought back to the forefront putting big emphasis on the symphonic portion of the band. The album was created with a grand idea in mind - the band wanted to associate the record with some type of film, initially with thoughts on a smaller scale have led the band to create a full-length film (not a series of music videos, but a full production). The core of what appeals fans to Nightwish is the ability of crafting songs that are going to stick in listeners heads and they’ve hit that nail and then some on this new opus—it far surpasses its predecessor and reminds me of the grandiose purposes of earlier albums Oceanborn and Wishmaster. If you’ve got a hankering for what SLUG has come to affectionately call “unicorn metal,” this album doesn’t wear thin—its scope is vast and there’s something new to hear every time its listened to. Nightwish is an MVP of Roadrunner Records’ current roster. -Bryer Wharton
Pestilential Shadows = Nazxul + The Crevices Below + Drudkh
Welcome the depths of pain, death and horribleness contained in the eight tracks on Australia’s Pestilential Shadows’ fourth full-length offering, Depths. The band will be celebrating their tenth year of existence next year but it’s safe to say that the trio of musicians making up the black ilk of Pestilential Shadows have been one of the better purveyors of what black metal is and can be for the last decade. Depths slouches nowhere, going from the realms of depressive and atmospheric (see the middle of the track “Tribulations of Man”) to completely searing hate in “Architects of the Spear.” The production values are exactly as they should be: it crystalline when you feel like it and murky when it feels like it - overall it’s a generously layered sound for a black metal trio. Atmosphere and songwriting hold hands here like they’re BFF’s and always have been. Add this to the pile of music you should own. -Bryer Wharton
Century Media Records
Vildhjarta = Meshuggah + a more demonic Textures + the creepy ambiance of Opeth
This is my first experience with this Swedish outfit, and what an unexpected enjoyment. Album Masstaden was written as the story of an isolated village, and while it’s not a completely conceptual work in the same way Dream Theater is, there is still a striking and unsettling continuity through the album that hangs like a leech on your skin. Vildhjarta’s sound is heavy, discordant, thick, and disturbing, with three axe-men tuned lower than Hell’s sewers and two screamers who weave their voices (and some clean singing) throughout. They expertly transition between tracks like “Traces” with bone-crunching djent riffs and galloping double bass, and “Phobon Nika”, a softer, more delicate interlude that is nonetheless creepy as sin. Every track has the emotional weight of a freight train bearing down on you and a darkness reserved for the most ancient places, which makes Masstaden a tough album to listen to relentlessly, but it’s a truly masterful work and worth your attention at least a few spins through. – Megan Kennedy
Gorilla The Horse Records
Vise Massacre = Corrosion of Conformity (old) + Cro-Mags + Bolt Thrower + Meshuggah (old)
This is some brand spanking new noise folks, and it’s a goodie. You can only pick a physical copy of the album as an LP—no CD is available, although you can buy a digital download of it. After many spins of my own little digital version, I can tell you that it feels like a chunk of the music is missing—the whole analog to digital thing doesn’t fare too well, and it never has. Admittedly my listening realms don’t venture to much into modern hardcore (the real hardcore genres, not the majority of crap being called “hardcore”). This Brooklyn based trio have done the genre a great deed by actually playing it in what one would consider “true” fashion with a fresh paint smell panache. The bass sound on the digital version is immense—I can’t much fathom how it would sound on it’s intended format. It sounds like the band put the bass before the guitar, creating the feeling that your ears are somehow filled with glue as the 31 minutes of pain inflicts itself upon listeners auditory passages. Swift uppercuts keep coming and coming by way of the heavily muddled with bass guitar nastiness, thrash riffs and breakdowns. The name Vise Massacre suit’s the band impeccably - I can envision a line of people with their heads in vise-grips all being simultaneously and excruciatingly slowly tightened until the inevitable “pop” which just invites the next guest in line. Get this while the getting’s hot—I imagine the LP version will sell out quick. –Bryer Wharton