Interview with Aries of Hellsaw

Austrian black metal band Hellsaw with their new album Trist, released a beast that demands and tests before it consumes and lays waste to the senses. Intensely powerful and completely devastating upon the ear the band has set the genre up for a mighty year if others can rival Trist. We had the chance to talk with vocalist Aries from the band about the album, songwriting and Hellsaw itself.

Welcome to The RingMaster Review and thanks for talking with us.

Firstly could you introduce the band and its members?

I am Aries, and I am one of the founder members and I handle the vocals, write the lyrics and the music.  Our two guitarists are Malthus and Isiul.  On bass we have Desderoth and on drums we have Neuroticon, a recent, and very welcome, addition to the band.

What were the beginnings of Hellsaw like; I believe you were initially just a duo?

We were yes.  Hellsaw was founded by myself and our then drummer Svart, with me handling the vocals, guitars and bass, so essentially we were a studio band at that point.  We knew what we wanted to do with our music, but we were really trying things out at this stage.

This did not include live shows or did they only come once you expanded the band line-up?

They came later.  Once we had released our first full length album Spiritual Twilight it became obvious that there was a demand for the band to appear live, and we knew that if we wanted to take the band to another level we would have to do that.  We first used a session line up, but we needed the commitment that comes from permanent members who can contribute to every aspect of the band, which is what we have now.

What was the drive and inspiration that inspired Hellsaw and has that changed over the years in any way?

To be as good as we can be at any given moment in time, and to continue getting better and better.  That will never change.

What were your influences that shaped your sound and personal musical developments?

We were influenced to become musicians by the Black Metal of the early 90s but that was just the catalyst really and I should point out that being derivative is not something we have ever aspired to.    It is very important for us as musicians and individuals to create and develop our own sound.  Obviously, as we grow in experience as musicians and performers there will be tweaks to that sound, but essentially it’s very much Hellsaw.

You have just released your new album, the impressive Trist; can you give some idea of what it has in store for new listeners to Hellsaw?

We recorded the album live in the studio, and I am sure that most people will realise how much more difficult that is to do as you have to get everything right in one take.  But we feel it paid off and that the listeners will get a sense of spontaneity and aggressiveness that is often missing in studio recordings.

How has the band evolved for you over the years from previous albums Spiritual Twilight, Phantasm and Cold?

We have obviously grown both as individuals and musicians, and the band has grown with us.  We have always known what we wanted from our music, but now we have not just the skills, but also, very importantly, the technical knowledge to be able to make it sound as we want it to sound.

Do you approach recording differently now to how it was for earlier releases?

Apart from the fact that we recorded this album live in the studio as I mentioned previously, these days we can go into a recording session better prepared in terms of knowing what will be required of us in order to get the sound we want.

How does the songwriting work within the band?

I do the majority of the songwriting, but the others will also contribute.  Once the song or the riff has been written it is a collaborative effort, with everyone having their say.  We all know our own and each others strengths so we can write or arrange accordingly.

Do you write with particular intentions especially for an album or is it always an organic process? The songs in a way creating their own direction as you write them?

It is very much an instinctive process. I would never sit down to write a whole album.  The inspiration has to come from within, and if something inspires me to write a song I will.

What triggers generally your inspiration for songwriting and is it the music or words that most often are the seed to songs?

Both.  I get my inspiration for several sources.  It could something that has happened to me or something I have witnessed, maybe an historical event that interests me, or even nature itself, but the essential factor is that my take on all this is skewed by the negativity that is inside of me, inside of us all as it happens.  Most people deny that they have this, whereas I make use of it.

With many bands there is a difference between their live and studio sounds, is this something you keep an eyes on or does your musically instinctively translate to bring an equal intensity in either arena?

I think there is always a difference between live and studio sounds, it is inevitable unless you travel with a massive amount of equipment and several sound engineers, and probably a lot of samples! As a band we really enjoy playing live because you have to approach how you play and how you present yourself in a totally different way, and it brings a whole different dimension to the music. Added to which there is the interaction with the audience.  You can see for yourself how they are reacting to the music and you can respond accordingly.  Audiences can differ widely in reaction, and you need to adapt to that.

The stunning Doom Pervades Nightmares is the track that hit deepest with us on Trist, could you give some background to it and its inspiration?

I do not really like to talk in depth about individual tracks, I really prefer the listeners to draw their own conclusions. Let us just say it reflects the kind of insanity that you feel when you are alone and at the mercy of something that you can not escape.

Your music is dark, intrusive, provocative and intimidating but what are the shadows that do the same to you as musicians and people?

Negativity.

There is a satanic element to the band though that term is a mere simple tag and I am sure just a small part of your wider personal beliefs, but when do these personal elements that must infuse into the band, become or evolve into the theatrical or visual part of Hellsaw?

The satanic element is largely due to the preconceptions that everyone has about Black Metal.  We are all atheists.  We do not believe in any form of higher being.  The theatrical element as you call it is a symbiosis between the music and the visual.  The one suits the other and they feed off each other.

How do you feel about the state of black metal right now?

It is really not for me to judge.  There are some phenomenally good bands around, and these are the ones who have an originality to their music and who have their own way of expressing themselves.  Then there are some really dire ones who think that Black Metal has to sound like the original bands from way back when, which, considering that the original bands themselves moved on from that sound a long time ago is a very limiting way of looking at things and just creates second rate copies.

What is next for Hellsaw?

We are about to head for Russia for the first time, for quite an extensive tour, so we’re very much looking forward to that. We can also announce that we’ll be playing at Extreme Fests in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, and at Walpurgis Metal Days, but obviously we are not allowed to mention any other appearances until they are announced.

A great many thanks for taking time to talk with us. Would you like to leave with a thought or idea that fires up your day?

Take the negativity that is inside of you and use it to create.

Trist is released via Napalm Records now!

Read the review of Trist http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/hellsaw-trist/

RingMaster Review 29/02/2012

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Hellsaw: Trist

Black metal comes in many malicious dark shapes and sizes to generally stretch and twist the senses. It is a genre that plays with fears, toys with emotions and intrudes with caustic effect, numbing and violating from the ear inwards. Austrian black metal band Hellsaw does this and much more. Their fourth album Trist, released February 24th via Napalm Records, is a blistered beast that eats away at the flesh, consumes all feelings and leaves one a scattered pool of depleted energy and numbed emotion. It is an album that one finds hard to know if they liked it as all that is left at the end of its extreme and unpredictable sounds is a shell devoid of being able to conjure rational thought, it is that demanding, consuming and powerfully effective.

Formed in 2002, Hellsaw influenced by early 90s black metal bands began their destructive ride with their debut release Sins of Might, this coming a mere few months after forming, and  first album Spiritual Twilight in 2005. The band drew and gathered up strong attention, their uncompromising sounds setting them apart from other similar bands. Initially a project consisting of just drummer Svart and vocalist Aries, who also took the guitar and bass roles, the band had to evolve and began touring throughout Europe with session musicians, the expanded band garnering more solid acclaim and growing fan base. Subsequent albums Phantasm and Cold, this their first with Napalm, increased their musical stock and popularity. Guitarists Malthus and Isiul as well as bassist Desderoth were now permanent members of the band and the full force of Hellsaw being unleashed as shown with Trist.

The album is a gnarly beast, a release that rips at and abuses the senses with an evil intent that is openly and proudly carried like a flag of combat. Trist runs with traditional black metal sounds a lot of the time but avoid predictability by veining it with unexpected and intelligent intriguing diversions. It teases and taunts, never giving you what you assume, and just when it looks like becoming slightly formulaic the album will turn on its tail and writhe with something unexpected and diverse. It is these touches which makes the album worth full attention throughout.

The Devil Is Calling My Name opens up the infernal damnation of the senses, though at first its slow awakening is a deliberate falsehood to entice and beckon. As soon as one is hooked the track explodes into scorched riffs and a flurry of bullying drumming. The rasping vocals of Aries spew every word with acidic venom, coating the lyrics with sonic bile complimenting the razor sharp guitars. The song is malevolent, the bass of Desderoth lingering behind the assault of the guitars to grab its prey periodically, though that is more due to the fact that at certain times it is hard to consistently hear the growling basslines.

It is an impressive start to an album that maintains a strong level throughout but with definite peaks in the likes of the brilliant Doom Pervades Nightmares, A Winter Cold, and the imaginative closer Silence. The first of the three is an excellent nasty aural corruption, and the first of the more varied tracks offered within Trist. The groove and razor sharp guitars slice through the senses whilst the grouchy basslines are insistent and intimidating. Aries is pained and bitter, his demonic delivery distressing and enticing, a force as potent as the sounds. It is when the track steps off track into a melancholic mandolin led instrumental climax that the song truly unveils its beauty and uniqueness.
A Winter Cold is part chant, part frosted celebration, and all direct bitterness. The song is less about the violent assault than the creative melodic grandeur the band can also summon. At times it ventures into a blackened thrash sound that is inspired and a welcome diversity. Silence brings a wonderful melodic opening song but soon erupts into a full on confrontation but still with a melody driven core that is impressive, further proof that Hellsaw are musicians that can write and realise well crafted songs of blended beauty and malevolence.

The album does have its flaws, mainly in the drums production which is annoyingly tinny, and the slightly predictable vocals of Aries. There are moments one wishes his delivery was as diverse as the sounds within Trist. Despite those things, which are more personal preferences, the album is an impressive release that puts recent black metal releases in the shade. It is creative and at times adventurous within the defined limits of the genre, it is also ultimately enjoyable.

Ringmaster 20/02/2012

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Destroy The Evidence – Phantasm

Writing about and reviewing different releases and bands offers up many treats but it is always special when something unexpected and startlingly different comes into view. Such is the case with Phantasm from Destroy The Evidence, a release that offers something new, slightly unexpected and is just wonderfully different from the bulk of things that grace and at times accost the ear.

Destroy the Evidence is the solo project of US experimental electronic gothic rock band Dimension Zero frontman Monty Singleton. The band found success and acclaim with singles ‘Live In Excess (Excess Is Best)’ and ‘RePLiCa’, their 2007 album Scythe, plus remixes of artists such as Public Enemy and Nine Inch Nails. Singleton started up Destroy The Evidence as a project to focus on writing music for film, TV, and video games or as the official website states music that is “Industrial rock dressed in tuxedos attending the symphony while the world is being invaded by Martians. Somewhere between Nine Inch Nails, Hans Zimmer, Danny Elfman, and mid-1900s SciFi.” That just about sums it up; it just forgets to say how vibrant and refreshing it is.

Phantasm is the follow up to Genesis from 2009 and is a dazzling array of striking sounds. Whether staying around for mere seconds or multiple minutes each track leaves a mark and inspires images and emotions which is one of the impressive things about the album. Opening track ‘Elite’ strikes for eighteen seconds whilst its successor ‘Wildcat’ a scant seven  but both grab attention to announce the album’s intent, to trigger a sense of drama, and lead into the brilliant hustling theatre of ‘Renegade’. Like a rampant beast rampaging along scorched paths it is a predatory impending force that even with its moments of quiet beauty has full control and intimidating strength. To bring in a film reference it bristles with the independent thought and determination of a Mad Max or Logan’s Run

The pieces are clear and definite compositions that would work cinematically or within games but also as distinct tracks as the album shows. They are wonderfully varied, well crafted and without exception the inspiration for emotions and provoked visual thoughts. Many instrumental albums weave soundscapes and aural worlds from their creations but Singleton’s compositions work with emotions and feelings, touching upon and provoking responses and ideas individual to the listener but within his intended theme.

The dazzling and unsteadying ‘ACiD’ with crystalline melodies and sinister menace, the edgy and intense fusion of beauty and dark energy of ‘Oblivion2’, plus the complexities and senses stretching provocative flow of ‘Vision-X’, and the cold and over bearing walled stark mystery of ‘Citadel’, all impress deeply and engage the senses long after they depart the ear. It is the stunning ‘USSR’ that takes top acclaim though on the album. It’s incessant repetition of keys, bass, rhythms and vox is a completely hypnotic and irresistible manipulation and pleasuring of the listener. The song offers siren like melodies and an insistent charge that is fuelled by a combative and militant might.

Phantasm is an excellent release that offers siren like sounds, delicious ideas and inspiring imagery that makes frequent returns a different experience each time, though always a thoroughly pleasurable one. Whether Destroy The Evidence’s creations will find their way onto soundtracks time will tell but as an addition to anyone’s personal soundtrack they are a definite success and joy.

Grab your free copy of the album @ http://www.destroytheevidence.com/

RingMaster 03/02/2012

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