Skinfather Intervew

A few years ago, a new ‘wave’ of bands blending Death Metal with Hardcore started coming out. However, this new crop had fuck-all in common with the skinny jeans and mascara deathcore bands before. Bands like Nails, Xibalba, Black Breath took the HM-2 sound of old Swedish Death Metal and fused it with their roots in the Hardcore scene to create a completely fresh, and musically authentic sound that pleased metalheads and hardcore kids alike. This was stuff you could circle pit, headbang, and mosh to. Enter Skinfather from California, a band that takes its name from a Dismember song and plays some crushing death metal while being relevant in their local hardcore circuit as well. I heard their Atheos demo last year and was instantly hooked – I was listening to them in my car and in university every day. They got signed to Life and Death Records (who put out the new Goldust record) and further cemented their place in my playlist with an EP “Succession/Possession” that further developed their unique take on old school death metal. Imagine my elation when they agreed to answer my interview questions!

Skinfather logo

– Hello, and thanks for the interview! Which member of the band am I speaking to and what role do you play in Skinfather?

My name is Scott and I play guitar.

 

– Not much is known about the band’s initial history. How did you guys come to form, and what was the initial purpose?

The band was formed by our drummer and our first singer who wanted to create a band which paid homage to classic Swedish death metal. I actually joined the band after the release of Atheos, and since then Skinfather has continued its growth into our current form.

 

– Skinfather plays a curious mix of styles. Though the name stems from a Dismember song and the music armed with a classic Swedish style production, the band’s roots come off as being in the hardcore scene. Even now you share stages with bands like Nails, Alpha/Omega, Soul Search, Xibalba and the like. How does that affect the music you create?

We all grew up going to hardcore shows and playing in hardcore bands, and I’ve been booking and working shows for some time, so that’s how we all know each other. It’s just a part of who we are. Musically we are a death metal band, but I think that coming from a hardcore/punk background gives us a certain sound. Playing live is the most important thing for a hardcore band, and that brings a certain energy and a level of intensity to the music which I think you can hear in Skinfather, even if we’re not a traditional hardcore band.

 

– 2013 heralded a bit of a change in your sound from the Atheos release. The coming of your 2nd EP “Succession/Possession” on Life and Death Records brought with it a musical evolution, with the Old School Death Metal side becoming more apparent. The logo and artwork also came off as being more ‘Metal.’ To top it off, an Unleashed cover was thrown into the mix as well. Was this a deliberate, conscious change or did it come naturally?

Both. It was the only logical direction for the band to take, really. Me joining the band definitely had a big impact on the songwriting, and I think that the 7” is much more in tune with Skinfather’s original intentions as a band. That old school death metal element was there on Atheos but it just needed to be fleshed out and brought to the forefront. We were very pleased with how the record turned out.

 

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– Tell us a bit about your relationship with fellow local Hardcore/Thrash band “Creatures.” I believe the two of you shared some members in the past and continue to do so; often performing in the same gigs.

We have a very close relationship with Creatures, we played our first shows with them and they’re close friends of ours. As for shared members, our drummer Taylor started Creatures, and Stephen (vocalist of Creatures) recently took over vocals for Skinfather and he has been crushing it. Sadly they’re no longer a band but you haven’t heard the last from those guys…

 

– You guys recorded both your EP’s at “The Pit” – Taylor Young’s studio. I’ve always been a fan of his production work and his ability to take a band to the brink of ultimate heaviness. How was the experience of recording with him on either occasion?

I love working with Taylor and couldn’t imagine working with anyone else. He’s a hardcore kid and a metalhead who likes and understands the music on a deep level. He really knows his shit when it comes to dialing in the right sounds for a record and can bring out a band at their best. He also won’t hesitate to tell you if something you’re doing sucks, and I appreciate that level of honesty.

 

– Considering that the new EP has been released on a German label, what are the chances of you guys taking your hate-drenched riffs outside North America into Europe soon?

I hope so! After we release our new record there will be more touring, and hopefully we make it to Europe sooner than later.

 

– So, two releases and two appearances on compilation albums, one of which spawned a cover of Dismember’s Casket Garden. But what’s next? Another 7″? A split, perhaps? What about a full length?

We will have a full length record out first half of next year.

 

– Favorite releases from 2013?

Nails, Inquisition, Grave Miasma, Magic Circle, Carcass, Tribulation, Hatred Surge, Impalers, Power Trip, Warmaster, Portal and Acualli.

 

– Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Any parting words?

Thanks for the interview. Listen to Disgrace.

 

Skinfather band

 

Skinfather on Facebook.

Skinfather on Bandcamp.

– Hassan Dozakhi

Sleep Disorder – Sleep Disorder (2013)

Slepcover

 

Sleep Disorder are a fairly new band based out of Baltimore, Maryland and share members with thrashing death metal act Noisem. Despite the vague connection, there is little death, thrash or any kind of metal on display here, with this crazy quartet preferring to play some fast, noisy, and dissonant-as-fuck powerviolence. This is their first demo, a self-titled release, which was initially put up for free download on Bandcamp before eventually being re-touched and turned into a vinyl release. The version I’m reviewing is the vinyl version – which I actually find a bit superior to the original.

 

The basic sound of Sleep Disorder is a contemporary noise/pv/grind style that nods in the direction of classics like Man Is The Bastard on occasion, but hums to the tune of more recent acts such as Water Torture, Full of Hell, and the like. In what appears to be a clear attempt to stand out and stamp their own individual mark, a lot of emphasis is given to how the tracks are presented. The material contained within this self-titled debut release is fuzzed out to the max, with distortion, feedback, noisy guitar leads, and vocal effects all adding to the chaotic dissonant nature of the music. Like any good release in this genre, the tracks are spontaneous and unpredictable.. however, in this bands case, the unpredictability is a bit more. Even within the short track lengths, all sorts of stuff transpires; the whole noise factor is very well played through both the fast and slow sections. Indeed, it’s that fuzzed out noise aspect that pulls me into their music and interests me the most. Though the emphasis on that end means that the production is not particularly ‘heavy’ but that doesn’t hold the music back from crushing you and causing you to pull your hair apart from your skull. Credit needs to be given to the band for making me feel like a miserable cunt. Solid vocals round off the sum of the parts, but its the vocal effects that are very well done. They aid in creating a nihilistic, drugged out and utterly dreadful atmosphere. There is a substantial amount of grit and negativity here – this is no positive goofy powerviolence for you to pogo to. Songs like “Shallow,” “The Web” and “Pray” (all of which come in quick succession, one after another) in particular almost had me self-flagellating myself like Shia Muslims do on the day of Ashura.

 

The name of the band is interesting indeed, in the sense that they actually try to live up to it. At its most hideous moments, they certainly do sound like a collection of voices haunting a neurotic insomniac mind, though there are moments you’d want to stagedive/circle pit to as well. Personally, it’s their more ugly and noisy moments that draws me, rather than the more typical ones, and I’d like to see more fucked up compositions from these lads in the future. Solid debut, recommended.

 

Sleepdis

 

Sleep Disorder on Facebook

Sleep Disorder on Bandcamp

– Hassan Dozakhi

Albatross – The Kissing Flies (2012)

albatross-split

 

Let me get one thing straight. I’m one of those people who “grew out” (for lack of a better word) out of Traditional Heavy Metal years ago. My teenage years began with an explosion of Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Saxon and Judas Priest – but as time dragged its heavy boots over my sun-scorched back, I found myself reveling in the dark atmospheres and chaotic music of death metal, sludge/doom, grindcore, powerviolence and hardcore/crust punk. It you asked me what I’d rather listen to – Scorpions ‘ In Trance, or a new tape demo from an obscure blackened crust band – I’d take the latter within a fraction of a heartbeat. However, once in a blue moon a band playing pure unadulterated heavy metal comes up and smacks me in the face out of nowhere. That band renders me incapable of thought. I find my hands forming the horns and my mind dizzily goes back into the days of my youth, when singing along to Queensryche was the order of the day. I can proudly say that I’ve had that done to me recently by a band from – out of all possible locations – Mumbai, India. Ladies and gentlemen, that band is Albatross.

The release I’m reviewing from this band is their split with U.S. Heavy/Doom Metal band Vestal Claret. However I’ll solely be focusing on Albatross’s side of the split, which is entitled “The Kissing Flies” and comprises of 3 tracks including an intro entitled “Wither.” Straight from the get-go, Albatross get down to business with a dizzying array of riffs, ranging from the thrashy to the melodic, doomy to the rock-ish. Guitar leads pop out of nowhere to keep the song-structure intricate and interesting, bringing to mind the early work of US Heavy/Power Metal masters Jag Panzer as well as Danish legends Mercyful Fate. Speaking of which, vocalist Biprorshee is a surprise package on his own – I have honestly never heard any South Asian vocalist with the kind of style and charisma that he brings to the table. He wails, he croons, he sings, shrieks, all of that in a manner in which will make the make the biggest King Diamond fan curl his face up into a smug, satisfied smile. Indeed, with the lively – if a tad bit underplayed on the production end – drum performance keeping the percussive force of the music pounding and grooving, it seems throughout the course of the material that it would take an avalanche of drastic proportions to stop what Albatross has set out to do.

 

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With just three minutes into the first proper song “Uncle Sunny at the Tavern” it becomes apparent that chief songwriter Riju and the crew have spent hours in the dungeons of true metal, honing their craft and sharpening their blades. By the time you get to the end of the title track, you realize that Albatross have not just conjured up their metal icons, but rather aimed to ascend even them. The daring, adventurous songwriting, supplemented by the genuinely poetic lyrics and enigmatic vocal style, takes you through more twists and turns than a roller-coaster ride through Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I chuckled a bit at the “Horror Metal” tag when I first came across this band, but they truly do deliver in the story-telling. The title track is a masterpiece of composition in itself but you’d be a fool to take the CD out before the final track “From Ashes to Life” which truly has the most infectious and memorable riffs in this collection of songs – and that’s saying something, considering the preceding material. Massive, gigantic riffs thrusting themselves upon you like a tidal wave, leaving you drenched in the power of the music.

Albatross are a well-rounded, well-honed machine and armed with a slightly better production job they could easily become one of the better Heavy Metal bands out there today. Not that there’s anything immediately wrong with the production here – the guitars have a nice tasty crunch to them, and the clean vocals are mixed nicely into the heavy pounding of the music – but as a wary listener-turned-rabid fan, I just feel that the possibilities for them are endless. There is a lurking feeling in my ears, that despite this 25 minute offering of pure unadulterated, testosterone fueled metal, there is much more to come from Riju’s crew. Don’t believe the hype of them being a flat King Diamond worshiping band. There is much more to them than what you could possibly expect.

 

AlbaLogo

Read my interview with Albatross.

Albatross on Facebook.

Listen to The Kissing Flies.

Transcending Obscurity

– Hassan Dozakhi

Top Metal Releases – 2013

So, I have finally set down to the incredibly difficult task of naming my top 10 albums of the year, considering how good this year was for music. Extreme metal, in particular. Although I would have loved to listen to more album from other genres, but I think it’s more important for me to explore the classics within them first, before moving on to discover newer, promising acts. Anyway, here is a list of Top 10 albums of 2013, according to me:

 

Tribulation 2013

 

10. Tribulation – Formulas of Death: The Horror was a stereotypical Swedish Death Metal album. Tribulation paid tribute to bands such as Entombed, Grave and Grotesque in the debut album, but Formulas of Death is something entirely different. Shreds of bands such as Necrophobic and Dissection with hints of psychedelia and early heavy metal are dominant in this album. Tribulation sacrifice sheer speed and aggression for “epic” songwriting and well-thought song structures, which is what makes this album so interesting. A very unique album for sure, but stands at the bottom of top 10 due to its tedious length.

 

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9. Sacriphyx – The Western Front: His Majesty at the Swamp? Non Serviam? Wait, this sounds like Varathron and Rotting Christ, but is neither of the two! The Western Front is hellenic Black Metal effortless fused with Death Metal. The production values are pretty much reminiscent of the bands that Sacriphyx draws massive influences from, but the songwriting is far more bombastic and leaning towards the Death Metal side of things. A more accurate parallel would be with the faster, more aggressive songs off Rotting Christ’s first three albums. A really good album that deserves its here.

 

Ulcerate 2013

 

8. Ulcerate – Vermis: This album would have been higher on the list if it weren’t for Gorguts’ Colored Sands (spoiler alert, it’s pretty high on this list). Musically, Vermis sounds like a continuation to The Destroyers of All, but is not as powerful. However, despite that, it is still a very solid album with a lot of memorable moments, which are not immediately catchy, but slowly creep in as the album grows on you. This is certainly a grower, but it took an awfully long time to penetrate through the chaotic nature of the album.

 

Portal 2013

 

7. Portal – Vexovoid: There’s not much to say about this album, except that it is still our beloved Lovecraftian band, but this time with riffs that are easier to digest. This is their most “accessible” album, yet not their weakest.

 

Aosoth - IV - An Arrow In Heart

 

6. Aosoth – IV – Arrow in Heart: 2013 was a very scarce year for Black Metal. However, Aosoth’s Arrow in Heart made up for the lack of good Black Metal albums. The songs here are much more interesting and captivating than those on the previous releases, with the production also tweaked to suit their sound better. The stylistic approach on this album is still the same as with their other releases, but this is definitely a step in a less droning and more varied direction.

 

Altars 2013

 

5. Altars – Paramnesia: Australian Death Metal rarely disappoints. Despite the recent surge in cryptic, dissonant Death Metal, Paramnesia stands out due to its compelling and memorable songs, despite their tendency towards dissonance and unconventional songwriting. There are strong hints of Immolation and Morbid Angel scattered around the album, but Altars anything but ape those bands, making themselves differentiable from the number of bands that do.

 

Bolzer 2013

 

4. Bölzer – Aura: The only EP that I bothered to check out this year, since I received a lot of recommendations for this particular release, and for a good reason. Not often do newer Death Metal bands pay tribute to the old without coming off as derivative or clones. Bands nowadays tend to either play sterile “modern” Death Metal or shamelessly copy Incantation/Entombed/Morbid Angel, right down to the songwriting style. Bölzer take the atmosphere and feeling associated with older bands, but have taken the playing style to an entirely different realm. It is impossible to point out a single band which these guys are influenced by, since their approach to writing songs is new and unique.

 

Gorguts 2013

 

3. Gorguts – Colored Sands: 2013 has been a “comeback” year for a lot of old school Death Metal bands. Convulse, Purtenance and Gorguts, in particular. However, the former two released forgettable and bland comebacks, which I wish never happened. Calling Colored Sands a “comeback” album would be an insult, since Gorguts are clearly not attempting to appease any particular fanbase or cash in to the resurfacing interest in old school Death Metal. Colored Sands is a logical progression from “From Wisdom to Hate”. It is a progression, meaning that it isn’t a tried-and-tested formula meant to draw the interest of an older fanbase and regain relevance. It is not an attempt to try something radically new, resulting in them falling flat on their face. The band has always been intelligent in its transformation, with their sound developing into what it is now, with each release. Colored Sands is not only musically brilliant, but the concept and themes that revolve around the album are very atypical of the genre. The songs are as memorable as they got for Technical Death Metal, with a perfect balance between brutality, technicality and feeling. I doubt I can write enough about this album here.

 

gravemiasma

 

2. Grave Miasma – Odori Sepulcrorum: I was never impressed by Grave Miasma. Ever. I always thought that other bands, such as Cruciamentum and Dead Congregation were making music along the same lines, at least hundred times better than Grave Miasma. Then this album came along and made me realise what I fool I was. Although this album uses the same formula as other bands that like Incantation a little too much to have their own sound, this is way more memorable and original in comparison to most other bands, barring Dead Congregation. Again, what separates this album from the hundred other Onward to Golgotha/Mortal Throne of Nazarene clones is the sense of what makes a song. The fact that this isn’t just a bunch of reverb-drenched, “evil”-sounding riffs pasted together into songs is a breath of fresh air, and when this style of Death Metal is done thoughtfully, it is nothing but pure bliss.

 

inquisition 2013

 

1. Inquisition – Obscure Verses For the Multiverse: I don’t even need to write anything about this. The best album this year by a long shot.

 

 

There are a lot of other albums that I would have loved to include in this list, but with the large number of excellent releases, it was very difficult to do so. Here are about 5 more releases, which could easily fit into ranks 5 through 10 of the above list:

 

11. Antediluvian – Logos

12. Magic Circle – S/T

13. Lantern – Below

14. Autopsy – The Headless Ritual

15. Krypts – Unending Degradation

 

There are a lot more albums that I enjoyed listening to, such as Obliteration‘s Black Death Horizon, In Solitude‘s Sister, Immolation‘s Kingdom of Conspiracy, Zealotry‘s The Charnel Expanse to name a few, but like I said, it was incredibly difficult to set such a list without missing out on some great releases. I wonder how 2014 would be for music.

 

From guest writer Rohit Chaoji!

Solar Deity – Devil Worship (2013)

Devil Worship Cover Artwork

 

Five years ago, if you’d have told me that an EP released by a band from the subcontinent would appear in my favorite releases from 2013, I’d have laughed my fucking ass off. However, times have changed. Bands like Dionysus from Pakistan and Genocide Shrines from Sri Lanka have churned out some of my favorite releases in recent years. Enter Solar Deity from Mumbai, India. This black metal ensemble is the brainchild of blogger and musician Aditya Mehta, who was previously known for his work with death metal band Exhumation. In 2011 Mehta decided to leave his gore-drenched death metal lyrics and vocals aside, to pick up a guitar and pay homage to Satan himself. Indeed, after 2 EP’s, 1 single, successful live shows and a new drummer – Solar Deity have finally put out something that even their dark lord would be proud of.

 

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“Devil Worship” opens with the absolutely titanic “Raise the Horns,” which pulls the listener into Aditya’s world of blast-beat driven blasphemy, aided with some delightfully diabolical riffs. The vocals are a tasteful sort of rasp, screamed out clearly enough for the lyrics to remain intelligible – which in turn gives the band a sort of horn-raising sing-along factor that could manifest really well on the live front. Though the opener sets you up for the ride and familiarizes you with the setting, you’d be severely mistaken to assume that the music presented on this EP is one-dimensional. “Supreme Evil” slows down the proceedings with riffs that do the song title justice – but remains as violent in its approach as the opener. I remember hearing the song in its demo stage in a private e-mail and being blown away by the sheer power and impact of the music. The closing track “Through the Hallways of Narak” can be considered to be the greatest song Solar Deity has ever written up until this point of their existence. If the first song was akin to an angry satanic horde marching to battle, and the second track a ritual inside a temple to hail the devil – then the closer is a manifestation of god’s greatest enemy. Abrasive, but deceptively melodic, the final track on this EP is an example of perfect songwriting in black metal. It, much like the previous tracks, is immediately addictive with the repetition of riffs designed to impregnate your brain with the band’s own satanic ideals. In terms of musical influences, strains of Inquisition, Marduk, Watain, Immortal and their ilk are felt throughout but throughout the course of the EP, but none of the bands are ripped off. Through every little tempo change, every line of rhythmic chanting, the band’s identity remains intact which is refreshing to say the least.

 

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Solar Deity claim to worship the Devil, and with music like this I wouldn’t be able to doubt them. The atmosphere here is truly nefarious – every guitar note feels like Satan personally made his presence felt in the recording  and the production is made to sound like it was recorded in an underground temple. A lot of credit needs to be given to the producer for making the band sound loud and bombastic without foregoing the harshness we have come to expect from this genre. The logo and artwork (made by Aakash Dwivedi) along with the production value all aid the actual music in terms of presenting the band as an entity to be taken seriously, whether you like the music or not. And even when you leave the aesthetics and lyrical influences aside, “Devil Worship” is a fine piece of modern day black metal and is undeniably infectious. It stays true to the roots of the genre by making sure you can’t spend a single moment without banging your head and raising the horns.

 

Solar Deity on Facebook

Nephalist Recordings

– Hassan Dozakhi