Rages and condemnations: an interview with Jon Bakker of Kampfar

jon_bakker

jon_bakker

Norwegian pagan metallers Kampfar is a band which has persistently drawn fans and metal into fully immersive and startling provocations with their sound and releases over its twenty years, but in new album Djevelmakt  has possibly crafted their strongest malevolence fuelled incitement yet, one soaked in riveting imagination and uncompromising artistry. The sixth full-length from the Fredrikstad band is an enthralling soul stealing oppression for ears and emotions alike, a pestilential fury to fear or embrace. We strived to find out more with bassist Jon Bakker who kindly shared time with us to talk about Kampfar, their excellent new Indie Recordings album, and plenty more dark corners…

Hi Jon and thanks for talking with us.

Kampfar is at the beginning of its third decade since forming, can you take us back to those first days of the band and how it came to life?

Kampfar came to life after the separation of Mock in 93/94. Dolk had visions of a Black Metal band with elements from the Nordic heritage. He met a guitar player with a complete different background than himself, and they started composing. They remained a duo for almost 10 years, releasing 2 full lengths and a couple of EP’s. Kampfar became a quartet in 93, playing the first live show in 1994. The second wave included the albums Kvass and Heimgang, recorded in a local studio. Several tours followed both releases. The third wave in Kampfar’s cycle started with Mare, a fresh start both soundwise and lyrically. We found the right sound in Abyss Studios and followed up with the fresh released Djevelmakt. Between those albums, Thomas, the guitar player for the last 18 years quit the band. Ole was found after a long search and the match was perfect. Stronger than ever before we are now ready to unleash Djevelmakt.

What was the biggest spark or trigger to move from existing bands into starting a fresh adventure with Kampfar?

The previous bands were more or less stagnating; individuals with different priorities in life. Dolk wanted to go all the way!

How would you describe your sound and the band itself back then in comparison to the Kampfar who has just released the excellent Djevelmakt?

The two first albums were very right for the time. Dolk had a strong idea for the sound and what he wanted for the band back in the early 90’s. The second wave came with Kvass and Heimgang, they experimenting a lot with compositions and sound and with still plenty of folk references in the music. With the third wave came the anger. Mare was a more direct and right in the face album with very clear messages. The follow up with the fresh Djevelmakt continue where Mare ended, with even sharper melodies and more direct lyrics. We brought in elements like flutes and strings, but nothing in a jolly way. Just pure anger!

You have mentioned the three waves of Kampfar, can you explain and elaborate on that for us?

Photo © Sebastian Ludvigsen

Photo © Sebastian Ludvigsen

 

The first wave was Kampfar in the early stage, being a duo for almost 10 years; the second becoming a quartet and the third moving outside the comfort zone in every way, including the change of the main composer. Every cycle was right for the time, and Djevelmakt is Kampfar anno 2014 in every way.

Do you see those ‘waves’ as chapters in the band’s evolution or more dramatic turns, like restarts?

Both. The evolution of the band is of course certain, but unpredictable things always happen and coloured the band along the way…personal challenges, changes in line-up, getting more experienced and older of course.

Can we look at Djevelmakt more closely now, your sixth album;  it is fair to say that every one of your albums has evolved or stretched the band’s sound and creativity, how do you see that development with your new full-length in relation to its predecessor Mare?

Djevelmakt is in many ways a natural follow up of Mare. The biggest difference is the change of the main composer and guitar player, but still everyone in the band wanted to push it as close to the limit as possible with Djevelmakt. There are elements that are not to be found on any previous releases. We took a good look at ourselves, taking things all the way, unknown territories but still very confident that we were on the right track.

I believe Djevelmakt was written in the first half of 2013 with its release this past month. Was the rest of the year taken up solely with the recording or were there interludes in its emergence?

The second part was filled with recording and finding all the right elements for the record. Photo sessions, artwork, dealing with partners and making visuals for promotion etc… Putting an album together is a huge job, and we’re proud that we fulfilled all our visions

You are a band and musicians who spends intensive time on every minute aspect of your music then?

Every day there’s duties to be done within the band. Not only musically, but also promotion and dealing with partners, live appearances and press. We’re not living close together, so we meet for weekend rehearsals. We talk together every day though, thanx to the www.

Tell us about the songwriting and its general working process within the band.

There’s a lot of sharing files and ideas. A composition is changed many times before the final result where everyone is satisfied. A song has to fit both live and on record and we always aim for perfection.

1465218_10152005407195490_102457038_nWhat is the theme behind Djevelmakt and the spark which inspired its premise for the album.

The main message is condemnation of everyone that doesn’t follow the rules. The Church dooms you to eternal purgatory if you choose not to follow their word, and it’s the same with the dark side of Christianity. This goes for most religions as well as society in common. Be a sheep, don’t ask questions and follow the stream. Well, fuck that and fuck them! We tell you that it’s ok not to follow the masses. Make your own path! We dig into the darkest corners and the deepest pits of the underworld to picture you that message. It’s an anti-religious, but for sure not anti-human record.

How much do personal experiences contribute to the emotion or shadows of your songs and especially the lyrical content?

All of it is very personal!

With a rich dark breath consistently bringing shadows to devour thoughts and emotions in your music, has or is your songwriting in any way a cleansing of emotional issues for the band and equally a canvas to lay thoughts and experiences out to investigate and work through as well as dealing with more world, Religious, and society bred situations?

Very much so! Everything surrounding us has impact on the way we think and behave. We are able to use our music to fight that trend. It’s a lost battle, but we still have to speak up. At least we get some of our anger out!

Is there any particular moment or aspect of Djevelmakt which has you going ‘Oh Yeah!’ inside?

I have many of those moments listening to the finished product, but when the chorus of Swarm comes along, the warm shivers run down my spine.

As we mentioned at the start Kampfar has been unleashed dramatically provocative and feistily satisfying music for twenty years, looking back how do you see the journey of the band to this point?

The journey has been breath-taking. From being an underground band with many visions and goals, to become a touring band is very satisfactory. Being able to release records through good working labels and being on the road with great bands is what we were and are aiming for.

How has the metal scene changed in relation to the band and its personal experiences?

The metal scene is mostly about trends I’m afraid. What’s hot and what’s not. Many good bands disappear with those changes. Kampfar started early with folk elements in the music, but the Ompa happy Metal ruined that whole style very thoroughly. That’s just all very sad.

Obviously you are proud of previous albums etc. but do you look at them now and instinctively see elements or aspects you would have done differently second time around or see them as they are and only look ahead; and will you be looking at Djevelmakt the same way in the future do you think?

Personally I have never been as satisfied as with the last two albums. I really believe that will stay. The second cycle of Kampfar I can for sure pick out some aspects that we would do different, but they felt right at the time.

Excluding Djevelmakt from the memories, what have been the most inspiring and thrilling moments with Kampfar for you over Kampfarthe past two decades?

Being on the road, playing some of the biggest metal festivals in the world and meeting people that truly admire our music is way beyond inspiring. The whole trip from the basement and up to where we are now is the perfect adventure.

…And the forgettable or regretful ones?

We seldom regret, but there are for sure some places we’ll never visit again and some people we’ll never work with again. Impossible to sort those out some times, but we learn.

What does 2014 have in store for and from Kampfar?

There’s going to be massive work after the release of Djevelmakt. A tour in March/April is already announced. Several festivals are confirmed and more trips are in the planning.

Once again thanks so much for sparing time with us. Any thoughts you would like to leave us contemplating?

Follow your own path and keep your banners high!

www.kampfar.com

Read the Djevelmakt review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/kampfar-djevelmakt/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 18/02/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Slough Feg – Digital Resistance

slough-feg

    More an acquaintance in name than sound in the ears here at The RR, Slough Feg has been a presence tempting attention over recent years but never quite drawing it their way. That has now certainly changed with the band’s new album Digital Resistance; the release an irresistible charge of rock and metal which has triggered our thirst to truly investigate previous encounters leading up to this latest triumph. With songs taking a look at technology’s effect on society and life, the Metal Blade Records released album again explores Slough Fegs’s unique blend of Celtic Folk and Traditional Metal with magnetic potency. There is admittedly a constant familiarity to the sounds which rather than disappoints simply coaxes out a greater appetite for the propositions, but holding an energy and adventure which easily fires up the imagination and emotions, the album is one virulently contagious endeavour.

    With a name derived from a character in ancient Irish mythology brought to life via UK comic 2000AD, the Central Pennsylvania hailing and since San Francisco based Slough Feg has consistently lit up the metal world since certainly their debut self-titled album of 1996. Under the moniker The Lord Weird Slough Feg at first, until 2005 when they shortened the name for fourth album Atavism, the band continued to evolve their sound and reputation with albums such as Hardworlder in 2007 and Ape Uprising! two years later. It is easy to suspect that the band has never been a towering enticement for every metallic taste, ours alone finding excuses or distractions to never really immerse in their undoubted excellently crafted and passionate sounds, but as the successor to the acclaimed 2010 album The Animal Spirits rampages with incendiary might in the passions, you realise it was to our certain loss.

     Recorded with Justin Weis, who co-produced the release with vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi, Digital Resistance immediately SloughFeg-Digital Resistancestirs up thoughts and excitement with opener Analogue Avengers / Bertrand Russell’s Sex Den. Instantly the impressive vocals of Scalzi are invading the ears alongside imagination tempting keys and guitar speared by energy inciting rhythms. It is a romping temptation which within seconds brings thoughts of Horslips to the fore though with a more subtle Celtic wrap to its thrilling invitation. The song continues to run with the senses until seamlessly slipping into a slower emotive embrace which grips just as enthrallingly, keys and guitars crafting a melodic web to wrap the rich rhythmic bait. It is a riveting and exciting start soon elevated with the fiery dynamics of the title track. Once again, and to be honest within every track, the rhythmic patterns, skill, and temptation provided by drummer Harry Cantwell is scintillating with a virulence for the passions which is immeasurable  and alongside the darker throaty tones of bass from Adrian Maestas, the pair provide the strongest exploratory heartbeat and shadows to drive the persuasion of songs. The track itself weaves around the imagination with a rich fascination sculpted by the guitars of Scalzi and Angelo Tringali, their sonic and melodic designs seductively clasping the lyrical and vocal narrative.

    The outstanding start to the album continues with the excellent Habeas Corpsus, its opening sultry Western climate around an imposing rhythmic provocation drawing thoughts to imagine dust filled climes and black dressed undertakers waiting for their next gunslinger sparked job. The melodramatic intensity to the song brings a mix of Helldorado meets Hammers of Misfortune to thoughts whilst the almost smothering production to the song, especially around the vocals, just intensifies the thick breath of the solemn scenery.

     Both the Thin Lizzy-esque Magic Hooligan with again a healthy dose of a rawer Horslips adding to its irrepressible bait and Ghastly Appendage with its delicious gothic theatre, keep the passions raging with greed and pleasure whilst the heavy metal/hard rock merger of Laser Enforcer brings another lick of the lips around an eager appetite even if with not quite the same intense reactions found elsewhere on the album. As always though even when songs slip a little below the early pace and level the quite dazzling rhythmic alchemy of Cantwell steals an ardour its way whilst bassist Maestas, most notably in the third of this trio, unleashes a presence and snarl to his invention which instinctively stirs up a pleasure to stand tall alongside the satisfaction cast by the guitars and vocals.

    The Price Is Nice is another striking highlight of the album, the song pushing recognisable yet indefinable lures and hooks in its stalking presence as Scalzi deliver words with his excellent dusty almost growling tones. As with many songs either rhythmically or in riffery, there is an ensnaring repetition to the song which in other’s hands may seem limiting but from Slough Feg only increases the creative mesh to get caught up in. The following Curriculum Vitae is the same, a pulsating unrelenting torrent of rhythmic pressuring often a singular surge of intent but as magnetic as the sun. The song as its successor The Luddite, does not impact on and raise the emotions as potently and forcibly as previous tracks, though neither do the pair leave satisfaction and fun lacking a square meal, but there just is not the fuse to the imagination and passions as offered from the rest of the album even if musical craft and invention is as undeniable as ever.

   The closing Warrior’s Dusk unveils another Western twang to the guitars to intrigue thoughts within an otherwise full bodied presence with medieval folk adventure and melodic flames all brewed in a heavy metal vat. It is a fine finish to an excellent album, one which maybe was unexpected due to our poor attention to the band previously but a release providing one of the most enjoyable and easy to recommend albums this year so far.

https://twitter.com/slough_feg

9/10

RingMaster 18/02/2014

 

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Aborted Fetus – Private Judgement Day

Aborted Fetus 2014 band photo

    As shown by their previous trio of albums, listening to Russian brutal death metallers Aborted Fetus is a savage and uncompromising experience which you either embrace or flee from. New and fourth album Private Judgement Day is no exception, the ten track pestilential slab of sonic corruption a pernicious and brutal onslaught. Following its acclaimed predecessor Goresoaked Clinical Accidents of 2012, the new album continues the presence and sound found through previous releases which to be honest does not carve out any dramatically new ventures for band and genre, but with discomfort an imposing embrace and barbaric seduction a healthy toxicity, the album is a tantalising proposition for all extreme death metal fans.

     As their 2010 album Fatal Dogmatic Damage, the new sonic scourge is released via Comatose Music and engulfs the senses in scarring riffs, vicious rhythms, and swinish vocals. Mercy is undoubtedly not in the vocabulary of the band, the album even in its ‘quieter’ moments unleashing pure corrosive venom, and from the first full breath of opener Savage Dominance, the quartet engages in bestial rabidity. The first song emerges from a cinematic drama, a visual plague engulfing the imagination before the band explodes out of the landscape with pure sonic predation from the guitar of Alexander “Meatgrinder” Chernishev. Courted by the heavy malevolence of bass from Roman Kozodoy and the rhythmic antagonism of Andrew, the insidious vocal delivery of Alexander “Implant” riding their onslaught with primal vitriol, the track is a swift and punishing thorn in the senses.

    The strong start is just as violently followed up by Necropolis Demography and Garden of Kidney Stones, the first Aborted Fetus - Private Judgment Day 5x5 300dpicharging head long through the ears to scorch the senses before switching gaits with a slower rapacious tempest and then returning a ferocious speed into its again brief stay. Most songs on Private Judgement Day offer a fleeting fury in length but make up for it in intensity and vehemence. Its successor prolongs the hellacious suffering with its gore encrusted rampage of synapse flailing rhythms and flesh skewering riffing whilst the vocals drain its creator of every ounce of bile.

     Fuck In a Pesthole alternatively rages and stalks thoughts and emotions, drums an arsenal of severe bait and guitars an acid spewing rankling of the imagination. The track like the album arguably offers no real surprises but feeds genre needs with skill and sonic poison before passing the creative dagger to the excellent title track. Opening with a Saw like sample of individual punishment, the track slowly unwinds its murderous intent and incendiary guitar coaxing. Eventually the beast inside cannot be held back and the song turns into another tirade of blistering rhythmic cruelty matched by guitar spite and air depraving vocals. Providing greater enterprise and adventure to its longer stature, the song is a notable peak on the album even if leaving on an unsatisfying fade out.

     The pair of Malignant Pregnancy and Gastronomic Confession suffocates the senses all over again in their similar but distinctive inhumane guises whilst Brown Totem offloads a brawl of mentally spearing sonic atrocity off of a great cinematic keys sculpted intro. The third of the trio emerges over time as a strong moment, its breath finding a restrained but certain variation from the others and an almost gloating swagger to its sadistic incitement.

     Guinea Pig makes another impressive scar on the album, its virulent groove spawned riffing and gut wrenching vocals a magnetic slavery to the emotions within another rhythmic bombardment. Its impressive assault is matched by final track Morning Inferno, the song an equally harsh and destructive slice of savage enjoyment. They both provoke a richness of satisfaction to match and push further that of the album. It is a release which maybe does not go far enough to truly ignite the passions, its sound as expected from the band and comparable to the likes of Disgorge and Devourment, but undeniably it pleasingly delivers brutal death metal in its rawest exacting form. Private Judgement Day is not a classic encounter and has some issues with production of the drums, which at times just distract with the strong tinny snare sound, but it is nevertheless thoroughly enjoyable, in a masochistic kind of way.

http://www.abortedfetus.ru

7.5/10

RingMaster 18/02/2014

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