Squidhead – Cult[ist]

“There are horrors beyond life’s edge that we do not suspect, and once in a while man’s evil prying calls them just within our range.” [H.P. Lovecraft, The Thing on the Doorstep]

It is more than curiosity which fuels the imagination and predacious captivation of the debut album from Squidhead. Inspired by the darkest depths of the nightmare universe of HP Lovecraft, Cult[ist] lures and exposes the listener to unmentionable and unforgettable horrors across eight slices of modern death metal though that is a tag which just does not do it justice. Technically compelling with an array of flavours spun from an additional fusion of industrial and electronic metal, the album is an invasive often venomous encounter but one just imposingly seductive.

With its seeds sown in 2009, Squidhead started in Belgian as the instrumental solo project of The Painter, better known back then as Pierre Minet. The project was officially unveiled at the end of 2013 with the Prohibition EP released a few months later to potent acclaim. It was a stirring adventure for ears and the imagination, Minet’s craft and enterprise striking across its five tracks inspiring thoughts to conjure their own dark tales. As the band ventured upon the live scene, Squidhead has subsequently evolved in personnel and in turn sound. The result of three years creativity, Cult[ist] is an infernal treat of a proposition around the ever magnetic prowess of The Painter. Alongside him The Crawler unleashes tenebrific intimation through his bass and The Orator unveils nightmare realms and imagery with visceral vocal trespasses; each a source of dark tempting more than complementing the eight stringed conjuring of The Painter.

The storm courted opening to the album coaxes ears into the waiting clutches of Abyssal Worshippers, keys hinting as they lay a sinister lure into the waiting web of intrigue and opacity. Swiftly The Painter immerses ears and thoughts with technical adventure, his strings flaming with suggestion and craft but equally as potent settling into the almost carnivorous trap laid by the feral jaws of the bass and The Orator’s throat scarred vocal painting. Having run with the imagination on Squidhead’s previous offering, it was a surprise and initially wrong-footing to have some of the visual interpretation done for us but quickly the band showed there was plenty of room to create one’s own nightmares too.

The great start is immediately built upon by Mantra Of Insanity, the initial spiral of guitar drawing the fierce punches of drums and the gnarly breath of the bass before Orator spills the song’s animus of intent. Even in its rampant state, the track feels like it is stalking the senses, preying on their fears and nightmares whilst teasing with melodic tendrils carrying their own line in devious relish. The bass sadly loses some of its irritability as the song evolves and becomes an incantation like proposal yet it all works perfectly before Awakening stretches it’s carnal and in time more elegant if still rabid appetite led by the ever magnetic endeavour of The Painter. As with all tracks, every listen brings new twists and shadows to explore and similarly each delves into their pits sees the songs blossoming to greater heights.

Through the invasive dynamics and technical claws of the excellent Lucid Nightmares and the murky palette of the equally riveting Mad Painter, band and album entwine the senses in a tapestry of creative cunning and manipulation. Both tracks just enslaved attention and an already greedy appetite for the release while Whispers Of The Deep prowls and summons thoughts with intimidation and atmospheric beauty to match its predecessor’s captivation.

Similarly Torn Skies ignited the psyche and passion with its bordering on barbarous stomp, its rock ‘n’ roll virulent and voracious with spinning webs of guitar accentuating its creative alchemy. Leaving the senses breathless and imagination ablaze, the track is another major rival for best moment within Cult[ist] though the choice does twist and turn among this last quartet of tracks much as they themselves within their seriously tempting bodies.

Verbis Diablo brings the album to a richly alluring close, its more mercurial gait and air posing challenges, perils, and temptations to greedily devour. It is a fine end to an album we hoped big things of due to Prohibition but has revealed a band and sound which has evolved to be a far richer and darker experience, much as the worlds it finds its inspirations in.

Cult[ist] is out now @ https://thesquidhead.bandcamp.com/

http://www.squidhead.be/   https://www.facebook.com/squidheadproject

Pete RingMaster 26/04/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Carnal Agony – Preludes & Nocturnes

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Preludes & Nocturnes is an album which manages to impress, excite, and disappoint in one go, though admittedly the latter is a mere fraction of the enjoyment had from the Carnal Agony release. There are just times though where it feels like it missed the opportunity to make an even greater impact on ears and subsequently the metal scene, evaded the chance to pungently push this highly accomplished band towards the brighter spotlights which admittedly it still might awaken.

Hailing from Umeå in Sweden, Carnal Agony began in 2011 and swiftly began luring attention for their diversely flavoured style of metal around lyrical themes inspired by the classic literature from the likes of HP Lovecraft, John Milton, and Edgar Allan Poe. Musically the band, on the evidence of their latest album, weaves in everything from heavy and classic to power and melodic metal to a thrash seeded sound, revealing inspirations from artists such as Iron Maiden, earlier Metallica, In Flames, Mercyful Fate, and Testament along the way. Early demos sparked interest whilst the band’s live presence has brought them attention and acclaim, especially through a tour with Six Feet Under last year. Carnal Agony has been called the latest sensation in the Scandinavian metal scene, a big claim not majorly contradicted by their debut album.

Produced by Ronny Milianowicz (ex-Sinergy, Dionysus, and Saint Deamon) and featuring former Helloween/Masterplan drummer Uli Kusch (also Gamma Ray, Holy Moses), the album gets off to a rousing start through War Prayer. Straight away heavy duty riffs and matching rhythms stand toe to toe with ears, setting down a sturdy thrash bred stride. Unpredictability shows itself to be a ripe essence within Preludes & Nocturnes and within just a few moments the first song has expectations wrong footed by slipping into a calmer melodic passage. This enticing invention is quickly surrounded by brewing essences of epic metal and stronger drama clad textures which in turn lead into another muscular onslaught. The gruff raw vocals of David Johagen join the mix now, his rugged, raw tones admittedly taking a little time to acclimatise to against the flowing tide of sound but an increasingly strong ingredient through subsequent listens of the release. Folkish elements tease alongside classic and power metal elements, already the band’s sound defying any precise tagging. The song continues to stampede and potently relax across its engaging length, a tasty appetite raising start to the encounter provided.

carnalagony-cover   The opening vocal lure of next up The Frozen Throne is excellent, mass clean vocals like a band of brothers crooning air and ears and an element not used enough as the voices are spot on. A guttural roar from Johagen brings the air born invitation down to earth, his warlike call the spark for a web of sonic enterprise from guitarists Mathias Wallin and Pär-Olof Persson, buffeted by the thumping skills of Kusch. Hooks and melodies colour the chest thumping proposition too as again a clutch of different flavours align impressively in the track which by its end you will surely be raising a fist and vocal chords with.

Rebel’s Lament is a less forceful proposition next, though still a muscular persuasion. Inventive endeavour from the guitars bound the rally of beats and riffs whilst the dark tones of bass from Roger Andersson add rich shadows which nicely temper the skilled craft flaming from the fingers of Wallin and Persson, especially in a bewitching solo. The track though does not match up to its predecessors but still has ears engrossed and satisfaction bubbling as does the next up Rebellion. A power ballad of sorts, Johagen reveals more of his slightly cleaner and stronger qualities, and if I am being honest it is when he lets those free that he and songs find a new quality. To be fair, it is personal taste more than anything but nudged by the fact that when he does ‘sing’ he often ignites already gripping songs further. The track grows in weight, intensity, and anthemic energy so that by its close you feel like you are astride a stallion going into battle.

As good as those two songs are Carnal Agony overshadows immediately after. It is a beast of a song, a stalking intimidation of stabbing riffs and scarring beats from its first breath and a carnivorous charge of sound and energy from there on. But that is only part of the confrontation, the guitars sparking within the core rampage with slithers and spears of sonic imagination and melodic toxicity, it all ridden by the commanding ‘follow me into battle’ tones of Johagen. The track is outstanding but too damn short at barely over two minutes.

Next up is the heavy/classic metal spiced Night of the Werewolf, a track with gothic overtones. This is one of those moments where personally an opportunity was lost, the earlier mentioned clean vocals feeling like they would have been a better fit whilst musically apart from a fiercely enticing bassline, the band feels like they kept a check on the imagination which had already lit up earlier songs.

Fire Walk with Me has ears and emotions feeling feisty again next, its fluid travel through a landscape of stormy energy and reflective melodies fascinating whilst once more guitars and bass reveals striking exploits bursting with magnetism and individual skill. Backed by voice and drum swipes, the track leaves a breathless listener in its wake, ready for Sleep Waker to please with its spicy heavy metal enterprise and Crystal Lake to turn into a head nodding enthusiast with its contagious and sinister imagination. The first of the two is another which, like the album, is a blend of full captivation and less successful elements or choices, but does get stronger and more enthralling with every listen. Its successor is a glorious stomp of horror bred devilry, everything from hooks to grooves, riffs to rhythms, an emotion inflaming festival of aggression and temptation.

The opening grisly bassline of Secrets Within the Shrine next sets the tone and scene of the triumph to come. Its thick bait is swiftly joined and enhanced by prowling riffs and venom swing grooves whilst beats are more predatory than vicious at this point. There is no escaping a Metallica whiff to the song but equally a scent of Misfits and the grouchy air of Mastodon helps bring alluring flavour of the song, whilst the constantly evolving ingenuity of the guitars takes it all to another level.

The track is excellent leaving Together We’re Lost the task with closing up the album, which it does in potent style. Familiar yet fresh, the track is an infectious and highly enjoyable end and another song which finds Johagen running the range of his delivery and yes he needs to ‘sing’ more because that is where he excels.

Definitely Preludes & Nocturnes is a release to take time with because it just grows with every recruitment of its bold and flavoursome adventure. Bottom-line is that it is a strong and enjoyable introduction to Carnal Agony who carry the promise of even greater exploits ahead.

Preludes & Nocturnes is available now via Sliptrick Records @ http://www.carnalagony.com/?audio=preludes-nocturnes

https://www.facebook.com/CarnalAgony  https://twitter.com/carnalagony

RingMaster 09/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Prying open shadows: an interview with Lonegoat of Goatcraft

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All For Naught, the debut album from Goatcraft is one of this year’s biggest impacting releases so far, a release which ignites and inspires hungry thoughts, imagery, and emotions through the neo-classical bred instrumental shadows and compulsive ambiences it holds within its walls. An intrusive and captivating tempest of passion and creativity reaping the essences of black, death, and occult metal and infusing them into unique and emotive key sculpted tracks which offer a powerful narrative and soundtrack to deep questions and experiences.  Goatcraft is the solo project of San Antonio based Lonegoat, and the innovative musician allowed us the pleasure to find out more about the album, his music, as well as touching on the existence of us all and other thoughts.

Hello and thanks for taking time to talk with us at The RingMaster Review.

Tell us about the spark or inspiration which brought Goatcraft to life.

Hi RingMaster. Thank you for taking the time to write these questions.

During 2010 I woke up one morning and had a cup of coffee; then I decided that it’d be worthwhile to kill some time by recording a seventy-plus minute piece on piano. It was done in one take and sounded decent enough to keep. I burned some discs; inscribed ‘Lonegoat presents Goatcraft’ on them, then I figured it was good enough to mail around to my friends. The responses were positive and the advice from them was to do an actual project.

Shortly after, I recorded the tracks that were on the Goatcraft demo that PaleHorse Recordings released.

The concept that stemmed from the demo has been extended into the album. I believe it’s better executed than the earlier recordings.

Information about yourself has stated you were disillusioned with the state of music in your favoured genres, has your frustration at the Occult and death metal scenes tempered now with the release of your stunning album All For Naught or is it still a fire which drives you on as much as your creative exploration?

I perceive the occult as if I would an esoteric thought process. The esoteric should never be commercialized in bland forms. I’m not keen to how some metal bands use the esoteric for commercial reasons. They usually water it down and make it ‘fun’ and ‘hip’; something that aimless people latch onto for an image.

Honestly I think my viewpoint on reality/existence/consciousness is the driving factor. In the end we’re not even dust. The sun will supernova; the universe will eventually return from whence it came. I think a realization of how minuscule our existence is could provide a better understanding in our lives. What are we to do with this time? I would rather defy the crowdist method and devise something that is my own.

Do you feel the audience has also changed along with the direction of those genres and if so do you feel you have to rebuild an appetite goatcraft 3in people as well as that of the music itself?

Of course the audience has changed since its inception. A lot of extreme metal has been commercialized. It’s a ‘product’ that isn’t very profitable except for a few gimmicks that parade around like carnival acts. There are good bands that have defied the rock music mind-set and stayed true to their concepts. However, I think all of this stems to Metallica. They ushered an influx ‘jocks’ into the scene in the 80‘s.

Further, metal as a whole has become much more accessible. Those who are truly interested in it will unearth the classics, as well as delving into other quality acts.

Tell us about those early times of the project in 2010, did you find a ready to accept audience at live performances from the start or did they need some persuading that your ‘return’ to the original vision of the aforementioned areas of music was a hunger they could also devour?

Much like an author collecting ideas for a story, Goatcraft was in its adolescence stage during 2010-2012. I had grown weary of playing in bands, but I went through many changes for my own personal project.

Mike Browning from Morbid Angel and Nocturnus has been telling me since I was 20 to do this project. I suppose acknowledging my own abilities then fermenting a purpose to it solidified the concept. Now that the project has established itself, I will extend and strive to further Goatcraft.

I read that there were times where more people came to shows to focus on your work than other bands on the bill, even the headlining artists, how many artists did this piss off? Ha-ha

There were only a couple of shows when this happened, but no one was upset. They were rather small events; most of the time I’ll play first to set the mood for a death or black metal show. I’ve received the ire from numerous bands that have toured through. Negura Bunget, Eclipse Eternal, and many others have confronted me after playing.

What came before Goatcraft for you and your creativity?

I’ve spent most of my life wandering, as if trying to find some sort of meaning or purpose. The ultimate conclusion that I’ve came to is that there’s only nothing. We’re the result of cosmic randomness. I recently turned 28 and I’ve lived all over the United States and Japan. I figure it’s time to imprint myself on this world. However small or large; there will be something of me left behind for others to unravel. We create our own purpose and shouldn’t falter from indirection.

How have your sound and your approach to it changed from those opening steps of Goatcraft to the emotive and striking sounds on the album?

The result of the newer compositions is of a better understanding of what I’m executing. Some of it is off-the-cuff, but my abilities are strong enough to not warrant dwelling on certain compositions to death.

735203_417690538308337_726228950_nI am right in believing from reading the promo sheet for the release that the rich ambience aspect which powerfully evokes the senses and emotions on All For Naught were not yet explored in the initial invention of the band?

The effects of ‘wind’ or ‘wisps‘, have always been an underpinning to heighten the sound of the piano for Goatcraft. Those sounds can also be heard when I perform live.

What was the trigger to expand your imagination and exploration into those rich and compelling shadows of sound too?

There wasn’t a trigger other than having preferred the settings after years of playing. It’s the most sensible sound for what I want to convey. I don’t foresee this changing in the near future. If there is experimentation, it’ll be warranted and not aimless.

Can you tell us about the period when you refined and honed your sound to what has emerged on the album, and how long did it take to write the impacting All For Naught?

I recorded a few hundred tracks in 2012. I decided to choose the pieces for the album from personally liking them. However, I’m sure that I have some other pieces that people would enjoy.

There is a very cinematic breath to the album, though more in being a soundtrack to personal and social shadows and malevolence than for an actual movie, though they could also frame such a thing perfectly. Was this an aspect you wanted to craft within the music or something which has naturally bred itself?

The cinematic nature of the album emerged naturally from how I conceptualize music. Music to me is storytelling, or letting different melodies and riffs tell a story by how they change over time. Much as in metal, which is usually told from a history or “big picture” viewpoint like religion or biology, my music denies the human individual. Reality is given the foreground, and humans are tiny little yeasts clustered in a corner, forgotten. When you think about it, most music is about an idealized human individual in a situation of high emotion. Yet in life, all of the most important moments aren’t that way. You have to think about something broader than the human individual and its animal emotion. This gives Goatcraft the “epic” feeling that is also found in movie soundtracks.

Some pieces are pure elegance with equally rich dark tendencies whilst others are raw intensity upon the senses coated in sheer ambient beauty, how easy is it to combine both extremes for a mutual impact?

Both elegance and sonic intensity are techniques that are used to tell a story. If you make the whole album one or the other, it will end up either saccharine or redundant. To avoid this, I treat all of my techniques as colors being applied to a painting. You don’t want too much of any color, but you do want a balance. You can mix colors, but if you do it too much, the painting is washed out and looks like an error. The result is that there is a balance between elegance (sacredness) and intensity (the profane). Like life itself, it is the divine nature of consciousness clashing with the crass and “bottom line” reality of survival. Together these two portray life both as it is, and how it can be.

Another aspect which I love about the album is that tracks make their ‘statement’ than leave, meaning pieces can last a brief breath of time or tell a longer aural narrative, no toying with excesses and outstaying the potency of their impact. When does a piece of music tell you that it is at that point?

I am thrilled that you regard to it as a narrative. I believe I’m executing a musical narrative in Necroclassical.

Is there an underlying theme across the album, a thread which links each piece of music to each other rather than an overall umbrella of intent?

Human negation can be frightening for the average ego bound individual, or it can be something of beauty in regards to how powerless we are to Earth’s elements.

Have you read about the Toba catastrophe theory? One volcano bottle-necked human evolution 75,000 years ago. We’re long Goatcraftoverdue for another cleansing. Overpopulation, ecocide, religion, politics, false sense of self, and so forth would be put in their places by a new major catastrophic mishap.

I wonder what the world would be like if everyone turned off their TV’s and looked at how horrible we’ve kept ourselves and surroundings. Perhaps it’d still result in war and commerce. Devolution appears very probable regardless of any societal progressions.

Humanity will recoil.

Can you tell us about your personal presence within the music, how much is bred from your own beliefs and personal experiences and how much is just creative imagination as the seed?

Do you like Salvador Dali? If I’m not feeling any motivation for challenging myself, I’ll immerse myself in some of his paintings to clear my mind. Beksinski used to be a good inspirational source as well. I also wrote one piece after reading HP Lovecraft’s Ex Oblivione.

What is next for yourself and Goatcraft?

I’m writing more music for a split with the Neoclassical Dark Ambient project Khand. We’re talking to labels, but I have a feeling that Forbidden Records will be involved.

After that, I suppose it’s time for the second album.

Again many thanks for talking with us.

Thank you for taking the time to inquire about my exploits. It means a lot.

582397_407624472648277_817307193_nAny last thoughts you would like to share?

Only a few resources that I’d like to direct people to if they’re interested in checking out Goatcraft.

Stream the entire ‘All For Naught’ album: http://forbiddenrecords.bandcamp.com/album/all-for-naught

The Official Goatcraft Website for happenings: www.goatcraft.net

Forbidden Records for the physical copy of the album, as well as $5 CDs in the distro:  http://forbidden-records.com/

Goatcraft on Faceplant: https://www.facebook.com/goatcraft.texas

Thanks again!

Read the All For Naught review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/goatcraft-all-for-naught/

The RingMaster Review 11/04/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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