Posts Tagged “Nineties”

KATATONIA and OPETH have historically been muttered in the same breath as fellow impresarios of fugue metal, even if the former hasn’t been anything remotely close to metal in quite some time. Of course, the bands shared Mikael Åkerfeldt through the Nineties, so they were bound to share the spotlight as well. Over the years, however, the two bands have become divisible even while rolling as touring mates. Since “Discouraged Ones” and “Last Fair Deal Gone Down”, KATATONIA have taken ongoing steps away from a pure metal path. OPETH continues to embrace it while exploring new courses, as “Damnation” and most recently, “Heritage”, have proven. In both cases, their progressive refinement is world-class.

Since their transformation that came as much out of necessity due to Jonas Renkse‘s battered vocals that demanded a clean-sung repertoire, KATATONIA has excavated labyrinths of atmosphere in search of an alternative and prog-grounded emotiveness. Long gone is the dusky grit from the early years when KATATONIA was the two-man operation of Renkse and Anders Nyström. As if the duo could foresee where the band has found itself on the heels of “Brave Murder Day”, one of the band’s last authentic metal albums. Today, KATATONIA keeps a spotless yet spacious music space, while Jonas Renkse has evolved into a beguiling, if frequently sullen vocalist.

Last year, KATATONIA took another major step away from their metal roots with “Dead End Kings”, a revelatory album that stripped down even more static than ever before. “Dead End Kings” pushed out heavy tones incrementally while embracing piano, synths, strings and an overall gentler touch that nevertheless hit home.

Now this year comes “Dethroned & Uncrowned”, a largely acoustic reworking of the “Dead End Kings” album for Kscope, sister label to the band’s main hub, Peaceville Records. Suffice it to say, KATATONIA strips things down even further on the redux, manufacturing even more elegance out of these eleven songs. While “Dead End Kings” manages to flex stray bars of electric muscle, “Dethroned & Uncrowned” hones deeper on the six- and twelve-string dreaminess that served as the former album’s epicenter, now this one’s apex.

Instead of making this a pure acoustic project, KATATONIA spills extensive piano scales, chamber fugue, Mellotron, synthesized beats, brass, reed instrumentation and acoustic bass to broaden the plaintive moods of the original songs. “Dethroned & Uncrowned” is thus stunning and quixotic, even more so than “Dead End Kings”. Every song in transition is a success, most notably “The Parting”, “The One You Are Looking For is Not Here”, “Lethean”, “Hypnone” and “Dead Letters”.

The near-naked character is essentially the same throughout “Dethroned & Uncrowned”, which means this re-imagination is demure, seductive and inspiring, even with KATATONIA‘s frequent themes of dirge and despondency. The lulling melodies of “Dead Letters” is so gorgeous one could picture it accompanying a Gothic romance film. In particular is a singular acoustic twine draped across an encompassing bridge that feels both windswept and amorous. This version of “Dead Letters” is by far one of KATATONIA‘s most engaging and articulate productions to-date.

The breezy cello and deeper accented piano plucks on this take of “The Parting” is enthralling in its own right, while THE GATHERING vocalist Silje Wergeland‘s vertigo-inducing parts on “The One You are Looking for is Not Here” are pushed up towards the front of the mix this time. The strategy allows for more congruency with Jonas Renkse‘s fervent swooning. Together the duet sounds as captivating as the massive layers of synth, string, piano and echoing percussion heaped into this inveigling cut of the song.

There are only a couple of spots on “Dethroned & Uncrowned” where electric guitars are retained, such as “Hypnone” and “Ambitions”. In turn, the distortion is struck altogether from the jazzier, piano-driven noodling on “Buildings”, the one moment on “Dead End Kings” that came close to constituting actual metal attributes.

This album’s version of “Ambitions” slinks on an erotic crawl via an echoing drum machine as it does with smooth syncopation and flirtatious Mellotron on “The Racing Heart” prior to. In the latter’s case, Jonas Renkse pulls off a near-close imitation of Seal. “Undo You” later rides upon tertiary coatings of cello, Mellotron and piano that garnish the primary acoustic spools and Renkse‘s placid wheedling. Despite the deathly odes of the song, “Undo You” gains momentum on this version from its initial conveyance of desperateness, nudging out of its bleak conundrum with flowing aspiration.

While absorbing the soul-torn despair of its predecessor, “Dethroned & Uncrowned” thrusts “Dead End Kings” onto a more dignified platform where further grandeur is raided and then pampered with the deepest respect. This could’ve been a cheap ploy to ride the success “Dead End Kings”, but it’s a testament to KATATONIA‘s gifted ensemble they manage to far outclass its predecessor. “Dethroned & Uncrowned” mirrors OPETH‘s magnificent “Damnation” in certain fashions, but KATATONIA proves here they have smartly mapped out their future, one that could find them scoring a film project or gracing an orchestra hall. Without using direct metal overtures, KATATONIA has helped legitimize the genre with as much class and poise as their celebrated countrymen.

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Raymond Westland of Ghost Cult Magazine recently conducted an interview with ANNIHILATOR mainman Jeff Waters. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.

Ghost Cult Magazine: “Feast” is a particularly inspired effort. Are you happy with it?

Waters: I certainly am. As an artist, you’re sometimes lucky when it all comes together, be it painting, singing or whatever. Sometimes you want to do something good and when you’re busy with it, you seem to hit the nail on the head. When you listen back, it doesn’t contain your best work. Sometimes it just works. Bands like IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST, SLAYER and also we in ANNIHILATOR have great records and we have our share of not-so-good records. Different times, different places, you know. Maybe we were lucky with “Feast” and maybe we were inspired. A lot of it comes from that my partner in ANNIHILATOR, singer/guitarist Dave Padden, said that we should take a break for three years from writing music and focus on other things. We did a lot of touring, I worked in my studio, give guitar clinics for Gibson and Epiphone and we played the 70000 Tons Of Metal cruise, all these cool things. The break breathed a lot of new life in the ANNIHILATOR music and that’s probably where a lot of the inspiration came from. I’ve been writing music for the band since 1984.

Ghost Cult Magazine: With every ANNIHILATOR album, you take on many different roles, including the one of producer, mixer, main songwriter and guitarist. How do you prevent losing your mind?

Waters: That’s true, and the reason behind it is pretty simple. I have my own studio since 1994 and I got into gear, reading books from other producers and studio engineers, and as weird as it may sound, it turned into my hobby. It started out as something I had to do, because when metal music lost a lot of its commercial staying power back in the early Nineties, you had to start thinking about business just to survive. For most bands, it was already too late, but I was smart in the way that I invested in a house and my own studio. I produced all the ANNIHILATOR since 1994. I don’t particularly go nuts because I enjoy every aspect from the process, but there are some negatives as well. First of all, you get severe tendonitis because of all the guitar playing and spending so much time behind the computer. I had to deal with it six years ago and I luckily recovered from it. Another element is that’s hard for your ears to stay objective, because you’re listening to the same stuff over and over again for four months, and that’s where an outside producer or mixing engineer could certainly help. And thirdly, you really can get nuts because of the intensity of the whole process. [laughs] What I’m doing now is recording the albums and take a lot of breaks, you know taking a week off. The whole process becomes very efficient, because you have the get the same amount of work done in a smaller time frame. It keeps your brain and ears in good shape. Another aspect is that you’ll save a lot of money when you do everything yourself. It’s basic economics, really.

Ghost Cult Magazine: Dave Padden is your partner in everything ANNIHILATOR for quite some years now. How was your working relationship with him developed over the years?

Waters: When Dave came in 2004, he was just “another” singer. We had a lot of different singers and musicians in the band throughout the years. Looking back, every singer was good for the time they were in the band and without them things would have been much different. When Dave joined the band 10 years ago, things were different, because he was a guitar player and not really known as a singer. When he auditioned, I really liked the versatility of his voice, so I decided to give him a chance. I stuck with him and worked with him long enough to see him developing into a killer guitar player and singer live. He’s a very talented guy. He came from being scorned and criticized to becoming an integral part of some of our best albums. After four or five years, I realized he became more of a partner and I start phoning him to ask for his input on touring, equipment and endorsement deals. So we’re half a band nowadays; you get two out of four. [laughs]

Read the entire interview at Ghost Cult Magazine.

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Giant X is the new project by Running Wild founder Rock ‘n’ Rolf Kasparek and guitarist Peter J. Jordan. The debut release “I” will contain 3 new tracks and will be issued through SPV Records on January 18, 2013 (Germany), January 21, 2013 (Europe) and January 22, 2012 (North America).

Jordan commented: ““Giant X have a broader musical range which allows Rolf and myself to present ourselves from a totally different side. Our material consists of consciously multi-layered numbers, more in the tradition of Kiss, Queen, Thin Lizzy, Van Halen but also Billy Talent, in other words: rock music in the tradition of the seventies, eighties and nineties – our shared musical roots. The main thing for us was that people would be able hear the lightness and spontaneity of our collaboration.”

Check out the first teaser here:

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Warnot will release new album “His Blood is Yours” this coming November 6th via Nightmare Records and is available for pre-order right here.

Today the band is premiering two new songs exclusively on the Nightmare Records Website. Check out the tracks “Raptures of the Deep” and “The Crows Will Die” at this location. The following press release was also issued about the band:

“Combining many sub-genres of music mainly from rock and metal Warnot is melodic, raw, symphonic, theatrical, doomy and progressive. His Blood is Yours the band’s debut album is an epic adventure ride that rings fresh among hard rock and metal fans.

“Guitar player/composer and founding Warnot member Björn Eliasson picked up his axe in the eighties forming his first band in 1988. In the early nineties he joined Patrik Svärd (Cloudscape) forming a band dubbed Doctor Weird. In 2001 Cloudscape formed, releasing their highly acclaimed self titled debut in 2004, followed up by Crimson Skies (2006) and Global Drama (2008).

“In late 2009 Björn decided to leave Cloudscape to focus on his passion in his own musical project. Writing songs based on his visions, exploring limitless feelings and atmospheres, which have become Warnot.

“Björn worked on this album Warnot His Blood is Yours without stress of deadlines, only pure inspiration and a strong vision to create something truly unique. Choosing to work with many guest voices, Björn also sings on the album and flavors it with his unique, ground breaking voice complementing the other exceptional guest vocalists that have contributed to the album.

“The Vocalists: Thomas Bursell – (Second Heat and Helsingborg Symphony Choirs), Mike Andersson – (Cloudscape, Full Force, Star One, Silent Memorial), Sussi Sorensen – (Bo Wilson Band), Bjorn Persson – (Doctor Weird), Sara Andersson – (Helsingborg Symphony Choirs), Bjorn Eliasson – (Cloudscape), André Mollestam – (Growls).”

The album’s track listing is as follows:

1. Raptures Of The Deep
2. The Crow Will Die
3. My Darkest Hour
4. A Late Night Dance With Death
5. Secrets Of Mythology
6. His Blood Is Yours
7. RIP
8. New York
9. The Patriot
10. I Am A Ghost
11. The Wrong Path
12. Sirens

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Anubis Gate has issued the following statement about guitarist Jesper parting ways with the band:

“Jesper’s decision to leave the band to pursue other musical interests has been some time in the making, actually Jesper announced his leaving to the band 3 months ago, leaving us with good time to the difficult task of finding the right replacement.

“We feel it’s important for everybody to know that Jesper’s exit has nothing to do with personal differences, in fact we are still the best of friends. Jesper simply found that now was the right time to try something new. We are of course sad that he is leaving but respect his decision and wish him nothing but the best.

“We are happy to announce Michael Bodin as Jesper’s replacement. We know Michael from his works with Third Eye and nineties progmetal band Northern Empire. He is a fantastic player who can contribute with very interesting material, in fact he is already writing great new stuff for the new album which we expect out late 2013. We are looking very much forward to presenting the new lineup for you both on stage and on record.”

Anubis Gate released a self-titled full-length album (reviewed here) last year, and the band’s lineup now is:

Henrik Fevre – vocals, bass
Kim Olesen – guitars, keyboards
Michael Bodin – guitars
Morten Srensen – drums

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SOUNDGARDEN drummer Matt Cameron has responded to comments by Billy Corgan in which the SMASHING PUMPKINS frontman called out Nineties contemporaries, including SOUNDGARDEN, for cashing in with their reunion tours.

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Ukranian funeral doom band Embrace Of Silence is streaming its debut album “Leaving the Place Forgotten by God” over at Bandcamp. Already with a couple of EP’s to its credit, Embrace Of Silence has issued the full-length on Solitude Productions and takes its influence from nineties doom/death in a style it calls ‘orthodox doom.’

Leaving The Place Forgotten By God by Embrace Of Silence

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A few weeks ago, SMASHING PUMPKINS frontman Billy Corgan called out Nineties contemporaries, including SOUNDGARDEN, for cashing in with their reunion tours.

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Early nineties ‘wild child’ upstarts The Front release ‘Live From New York City 1990’, the band’s first live recording.

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Legendary Austin industrial metal band Skrew, after a fifteen year hiatus, is back recording new material for an upcoming release. The band has posted three demo versions of songs over on its ReverbNation page. After a few classic albums in the nineties, Skrew dropped off of the radar after 1997′s “Angel Seed XIII.” Now, back and recording its fifth album and led by original member Adam Grossman, check out three new demo songs from Skrew below in the player.

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