[See below for an interview with Cathedral - 2001]
INTERVIEW WITH THE BERSERKER!
Billed as post-black metal Cadaver Inc. is made up of four musicians with reputations in Norway. Founding guitarist Anders Odden, going by the pseudonymn, Neddo, was a member of the early 90’s Norwegian band Cadaver; thus the updated name. He is also known for his work with Satyricon and Mayhem and his darkwave project, Apoptygma Berzerk. Drummer Czral is a former member of Dimmu Borgir. Vocalist Apollyon should be recognized for his work with Aura Noir and Dodheimsgard. And bassist LJ Balvaz was a member of the band Hydrhydr (per the press sheet. I know nothing about this). Needless to say, expectations were high when listening to this CD.
Well I confess once again to being out of the loop on the original Cadaver. I believe I remember hearing about them but that is as far as it goes. Anyway, I’ve been musing over the press releases description of Cadaver Inc. being a “post-black metal” band. What does that mean? If that means a focus on musical brutality, something akin to early Bathory mixed with death metal, than I can whole-heartedly agree with the appellation. Because that sums Cadaver Inc. up to me; i.e., early Bathory a la The Return with a more death metal approach, better production, an upgrade in the technicality department, and the absence of the adolescent satanism. If something else is meant I am totally lost. As far as the term “post-black metal” goes, the only other time I think I have encountered it is in connection with Mayhem’s “Grand Declaration of War”. Obviously mention has already been made of Neddo’s part in that monumental recording, but otherwise the only conceivable connection to the term must be found in the descriptive terms “technical” and “brutal”, for these are the two terms which best describe Mayhem’s magnum opus and this current disc under review. Whew! That almost sounded intellectual. I’d better take it easy. Okay, to summarize, Cadaver Inc. plays eleven songs of technical death/post-black metal with some with smooth guitar riffing which at once remind of old Bathory and yet ups the ante on technicality. It leaves the adolescent satanism behind and opts for other topics like “Killtech”, “Reptile Robots”, “Snapper Organs”, and “Primal”. So, whether you are a fan of the old Cadaver or not, I think there is a lot here for you to like.
CRITICALTOM: I have several routine questions to begin with. First off, why the return to metal after having success with Apoptygma Berserk?
NEDDO: I'm first of all a composer, so as I didn't write any songs in APB I had to leave them. It took too much focus away from my own stuff. I'm not in this for the fame of somebody elses music, so I left, formed my own band, got a deal, and have the first record and European tour done exactly 2 yrs after the beginning. Pretty successful if you ask me. . .
CRITICALTOM: Secondly, how was forming Cadaver Inc. different from your original band, Cadaver?
NEDDO: All the members are more dedicated to the music we want to play.
Do you see Cadaver Inc. as more representative of the true Norwegian Black Metal as represented by bands with Death Metal influences (Mayhem for instance) and not so occupied with adolescent "satanism”?
NEDDO: We represent ourselves I guess. The Norwegian bands are not an army. We do what we like individually. I hate the church and Christianity for it's hypocrisy as much as anyone else. This will never stop bothering me I don’t think. This isn’t satanism. Christianity is Satanism!
CRITICALTOM: Could you give a brief report on the recent tour with Morbid Angel and Zyklon?
NEDDO: We had a great time together. Excellent people. Great bands. It was intense and awesome.
CRITICALTOM: Will there be a U.S. tour?
NEDDO: Sure hope so. We'll come over as soon as somebody pays [buys?] the tickets. . ..
CRITICALTOM: Could you explain a little about the subject matter since I don't have the lyrics?
NEDDO: The subjcts are deranged wild crazy shit we've been writing over the years. We'll get more focused on the next record I guess. This time it was a mess.
CRITICALTOM: How would you describe the Cadaver sound to someone who has never heard you before?
NEDDO: Fast, Heavy with a great taste of riffs.
CRITICALTOM: What other plans do you have for the future?
NEDDO: Play and create music.
CRITICALTOM: Any last words?
NEDDO: It doesn’t get any more real than this! Cadaver Inc will come and get you!
INTERVIEW WITH CATHEDRAL!
The European reviewers were describing “Endtyme” as a return to Cathedral’s roots. By this time in my life I’ve come to take those kinds of statements with a grain of salt. But with the opening instrumental “Cathedral Flames” and the next song, “Melancholy Emperor”, there is some truth to the claim. Personally, I do not think any band can truly return to their roots, at least not fully. And so it is here. While Cathedral’s latest offering is really more a blending of some slow dirge-like tempos with their more recent “funk-o-doom” style, there is little that actually resembles The Forest of Equilibrium or the Soul Sacrifice E.P. However, in my opinion, one may sense some parallels with the Cosmic Requiem E.P. All this said, as one who is familiar with all of Cathedral’s previous releases, there are three elements which make this new album a change for the band. The first element is an album with a serious tone. There are no songs here like “Freedom” or “Captain Klegg” from Caravan Beyond Redemption; no Planet of the Apes, no disco, no “Hopkins: Witchfinder General”; just serious lyrics. It should be noted that songs like “Melancholy Emperor” and “Whores to Oblivion” carry some of the same themes as “Stained Glass Horizon” or “The Unnatural World”, but here those themes carryin them the weight of the world. Other fantasy themes recur in songs like “Ultra Earth” and “Astral Queen”, and the accompanying music has a familiar Cathedral vibe, perhaps even similar to the songs on The Ethereal Mirror, but they are far from repetitive.
The second element that makes this new album a surprise is the production. I believe there was a real conscious effort to muddy up the mix. Cathedral have never sounded so grungy. Whereas they have always had crisp production, here the heavily distorted bass and heavier guitar effects create a sound which sounds a lot like Warhorse. I presume this is what the band wanted when they chose producer Billy Anderson who has also produced Sleep, Brutal Truth, and the Melvins. This leads to the third element, which in my opinion is that with this album Cathedral moves into more of a Stoner groove than before. Anderson’s production style, along with the more experimental sound of some of the songs—especially “Astral Queen”—evoke mental images of some of the new bands like Spaceboy. “Ultra Earth”, with it’s oscillation between light parts and heavy parts and slow tempo especially compel me to compare it to Warhorse.
Anyone who knows Cathedral will be surprised by this album. In my opinion it is quite unique. While I agree with the promo sheet that it combines elements spanning their ten-year career, I believe it combines in other elements. With Endtyme, Cathedral have effectively avoided anyone calling it “more of the same”. If you thought Carnival Bizarre, Supernatural Birth Machine, and Caravan Beyond Redemption, were more or less carbon copies of one another, you will not be able to say that about Endtyme. Its music is more sober, more experimental, and just plain different. To me it says that Cathedral have pulled themselves out of a category and avoided being turned into a niche band. It seems there is still a lot of creativity left in them. It’s a fresh change and a surprise. I like it.
I can honestly say that I have been a loyal Cathedral fan over the years. I have bought every one of releases as they have been released. Few bands have garnered that much loyalty from me. Though some albums have pleased less than others, I have always enjoyed each release. Now it is my pleasure to view this video retrospective of their ten years so far. What a treat!
First off, this is a great idea! With concept videos made from each of their albums, this video tape is a superior alternative to the usual “Best of” albums. After all, if we have all the tracks, why should we buy them again, unless they are in a format such as this. So, represented here is the first ten years of Cathedral’s evolution from a slow, depressive Doom Metal band to the Disco Metal boogie boys who single-handedly revived the Metal world’s interest in the Blues and became the leaders of the current Stoner Doom movement. You can see it all here.
The videos flow into each other without any silly filler material. In other words, Cathedral let the music do the talking. “Ebony Tears” appears from their 1991 debut album, “Forest of Equilibrium”. This video is all serious and all Doom. It shows the band in their early days as a totally underground band. It is followed by “Soul Sacrifice” and “Autumn Twilight” from the “Soul Sacrifice” E.P. These two videos mark the bands quick transformation into something of a Black Sabbath like band. The band repeatedly pays tribute to the 70’s not only with their music, but also with the psychedelic clothes and the funky videos “Ride”, “Midnight Mountain”, “Cosmic Funeral” and “Hopkins . . .”. Then there is a departure with “Stained Glass Horizon”, a thoroughly modern video. Next comes “Black Sunday” claims to be from the latest album, “Caravan Beyond Redemption”. Funny, but this song isn’t on my CD. Perhaps it is a bonus track for the Japanese release. Either way, at least there is new material on this video. The footage for this particular video is from various tours over the years and is quite humorous. It was edited and directed by Lee Dorrian and Gary Jennings. Then, after a thoroughly satisfying video journey through memory lane, we are treated to 7 live tracks from a 1997 show in Tokyo. The sound quality is awesome and the video professionally done. It features a good mixture of tracks from Cathedral’s career: “Utopian Blaster”, “Stained Glass Horizon”, “Grim Luxuria”, “Midnight Mountain”, “Equilibrium”, “Hopkins …” and “Ride”. One thing that becomes obvious is that Gary Jennings has got to be one of the hardest working guitarists in Metal. He doesn’t seem to be able to take a break in all the furious playing. It is obvious that when he is playing the older material that there is a second guitar missing, but he does a fine job of covering all the parts. It is also obvious that all the material since “Carnival Bizarre” was composed with one guitar in mind. But it is all good.
The quality of this video is impressive. Though it would have been nice to get an interview or something, it is nice not to have awkward and silly filler material that distract from this music. And this video is all about the music.
Total Testament worship with some super fast riffing. Translation: Death/Thrash Metal with manly vocals. I need not write a long review for this CD, for I have already described it pretty well. But frankly, Testament have had some lame albums and the comparison to Testament may not thrill everybody. However, I can attest that “Subliminal Fear” leans towards the stronger side of Testament. What I like better about them as that they don’t use so many cliches in their lyrics. This is a very strong, very enjoyable, mosh-yer-ass-off CD. I like it. Fans of Testament, Death Angel, and Destruction will revel in it!
“Winds of Creation” is a collection of 8 heavier-than-your-mother Death Metal tunes and one Darkwave tune (“Danse Macabre”). There’s a lot to be said about the crystal clear production, the heavy low end sound, and the crisp guitars, they all shine. We could also rave about the excellent musicianship. These elements are also quite impressive. But what makes “Winds of Creation” a supreme album is the great sense of what makes a good song: bombastic riffs, lightening fast guitar licks, tight blast beat drumming; all of which sounds like a train ride through Hell. Though I’m not a big fan of gutteral Death Metal vocals, even those are not bad here as they are not over the top, but actually blend with the music. I find that the more I listen to this CD, the MORE I WANT to listen to this CD.
It seems to me that I am having to eat my words a lot lately about Death Metal. For some time I’ve been critical of and uninterested in Death Metal. Now, with bands like Garden of Shadows, Decapitated, Kataklysm, and others, it seems I’m going to have to rethink my opinion. Or maybe it could be said that Death Metal is changing. One thing is for sure, “Oracle Moon” is not a typical Death Metal CD. And, it could be argued that, aside from the vocals, it is much more than JUST Death Metal.
First of all, Death Metal albums tend to be short by comparison to Doom Metal or Classic Metal albums. This album is just 6.5 minutes shy of an hour. Instead of 2.5 to 3 minute songs, GOS plays songs that tend to run over 8 or 9 minutes each. Secondly, Death Metal (DM) tends to be blurry and extremely fast. GOS play a style of music which is very atmospheric by comparison. There are lots of dual lead harmonies—not the In Flames kind, but the more Amorphis kind--. Keyboards play a key part throughout the album, as does melody, and yes, dare I say it? Slow parts. Garden of Shadows could well be compared to early Amorphis musically. In contrast, there are blast beats present, heavy, heavy guttural vocals a la Mortician or Cannibal Corpse, but the production is crystal clear and the interchanging of fast parts and slow parts, heavy parts and atmospheric parts, makes “Oracle Moon” a multi-layered experience that sets them above the Death Metal crowd. Garden of Shadows have debuted with a very mature sounding work.
Oh Baby! This is one cool ride. This has definitely been a great year for Swedish Death Metal. This time I’m talking about The Haunted, who return with their second slab of aggressive, organic Swedish Death, mixed with elements of Thrash. This one is, to my knowledge, the shortest of all the year 2000 Swedish Death albums, but it certainly rises to the top of the pile as one of the most enjoyable of the lot. New vocalist Marco Aro steps up to the mike and delivers a performance equal to the task set up by the music. He sounds a lot like the vocalist for At The Gates. Speaking of which, the spirit of At The Gates is certainly alive and well with this band as Anders and Jonas Bjorler deliver stunning guitar performances. The riffing, the soloing, the occasional melodic diversion—it is all there. For example, track three, “Trespass” exhibits some of their classic riffing, but then sneaks in a bluesy part for about 10 seconds. It sounds a lot something from Trouble’s self-titled album. But the truth is, The Haunted probably have the most amalgamated sound in all of Sweden, diverging from their musical path to touch the fringes of Thrash, Doom, and even a touch of Hardcore. The end result is a mega cool CD that I have listened to many, many times already. Notice how I keep using the word “cool”? Let me say it again, “cool!” Top it all off with the great tongue-in-cheek title and the artwork, and you have a really cool album. There, I said it again!
INTERVIEW WITH MORTIIS 10/12/01
There is a new Mortiis. The Smell of Rain marks a change in direction from dark ambient excursions to electro-goth. It sounds something like a collections of post-modern techno dirges; funeral music for an anime movie. Take all the deep dark depression and angst from Nine Inch Nails and have Simple Minds play it. Remember the theme song from St. Elmo’s Fire? Imagine what that song would sound like coming from an evil wizard like Mortiis and you can get a real feel for this album. Frankly, I love it. That is, I love it in spite of the fact that metal purists will probably turn their noses up at it. For me, great music is great music no matter the genre. And besides, Mortiis makes ample use of metal guitar throughout. So while some will avoid Mortiis like the plague, others of us will be appreciating his new musical direction.
One of Earache’s newest signings offer a unique take on the musical form known as hardcore. If you are tired of NYC hardcore or just looking for some variety, you can’t get much different than these Russian Jews who immigrated to Israel and recorded this album in England. And while the music is obviously hardcore, it has a doomy vibe and an experimental feel. One might be tempted to compare them to San Francisco’s Spaceboy (others have compared them to Neurosis). However, any such comparison here falls more properly under the category of hand grenades as opposed to horseshoes. One thing that makes their music a pleasure to listen to is the trippy guitar playing. Imagine Gary Jennings of Cathedral playing hardcore and you get the picture. The only downside in my opinion is that the vocals, which are strange and unique, get a little monotonous after a while. So if you take an interest in such diverse bands as Spaceboy, Neurosis, and Cathedral, there is a great chance you will be looking for something like Rabies Caste.
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