Monday, August 10, 2015

Gig review: Agalloch, Crown


First review to resurrect this blog and what an event it was! I bought tickets for this gig way back in April and ever since then I was just sitting on needles with excitement. At first I was scared that I will miss yet another "Agalloch" tour and I was very well prepared to travel to see them no matter how far the gig would be. Luckily, by some twist of fate, they came as close as Hungary and it just became apparent that I will finally be able to attend their show. The experience ended up nothing short of perfect.

This amazing lineup performed in "Dürer Kert", a venue in Budapest, Hungary. The venue has already been mentioned before in a few reviews, those being Rosetta and La Dispute/Touche Amore gigs. Despite the fact that I was at that place before, it feels like the venue keeps growing and changing every time I visit. On this occasion the bands were playing in a different room, this one being much bigger than the previous one I saw. A rather simple rectangle-shaped room with a bar to the right, a big merch table to the left and a stage covering the entirety of the far side of the room. It is perfectly spaced and somehow you are able to see everything so well, regardless of where you are standing. This is especially made possible due to the fact that on both the left and right side of the stage there are some sort of steps which are a little elevated, so you can easily stand there and have full view of the crowd and the bands. 
Speaking of visibility, the light is dim, but just enough for you to see everything with ease and not walk over people or bump into things. The stage lights were beautifully toned blue and red colors, depending on the band which was on stage at the time, which really set an awesome mood for both acts.
Last, but not least, I have to praise the sound and the acoustics of the place. Even when you are not wearing ear plugs, the sound is extremely clear and you can easily distinguish every little detail of a given song. I had plugs for the majority of the sets, but at one instance I removed them and I was just mind-blown by the purity of the sound. 
But okay, now we get to the though part, the show itself. I don't know if it's hard to find the right words because I haven't been to a gig in a long time, because I didn't write for you boys and girls for so long, or simply because this concert was so damn amazing. Whatever the case, I hope you enjoy what is about to ensue.


First in line was "Crown", a band hailing from France. Ah dear France, an indisputable European heaven where insanely good bands keep growing and constantly push the limits of your expectations. Whoever reads this blog even a little will know how much respect I have for this part of the world when it comes to music and this band just fits into that category oh so well. This project was born back in 2011 when they were a two-man project, or as they like to call it "man machine" since there's also a secretive third member in the form of a rhythm-machine. During their performance in Budapest they also had one more band member, so I'm fairly certain that they have evolved into a trio/quartet in recent years. 
The light on the stage became blood red and "Crown" took the stage, unleashing a beast bearing just a colossal tidal wave of sound which is just so damn hard to classify. At first you get hit hard with heavy riffs, even heavier drops and breakdowns, shrieking vocals and just overall massiveness of their tunes that can easily jump into the sludge/industrial genre. But then, all of a sudden, comes a brooding melody which creates some very doom-like ambiance all around you with slow eerie tones and melancholic humming. One might argue after reading this description that they sound like any other post-metal/sludge/doom band, but trust me that you're so very wrong. 
The vastness of their sound keeps expanding. I remember they played the song called "The Words You Speak Are Not Your Own" and it just blew me away with how diverse their sound was. There's this amazing apocalyptic melody making you stand on edge with tension before it finally explodes into your face with a sound so heavy it washes over you. The song is sprinkled with audio samples which immediately reminded me of stuff we got to hear on "Seeing Means More Than Safety" from "Jeromes Dream", a fact that basically made me fall in love almost instantly with what "Crown" is doing. 
Yet the vastness of their sound doesn't stop there. Some elements produced by their machine member are just superb in their own right. Aside of the crushing tones it spews forth, there are certain instances where it sounds all too electronic, like something that would come out from mixing "Access to Arasaka" and "Nine Inch Nails". 
Taking all these little bits and pieces and mashing them all up, the crowd was served with an amazing cocktail of 30 minutes of audio bliss. The mania of two passionate, shredding guitars, a deep, vibrating bass line, ever-changing vocals and a cold, calculated  and destructive machine just leaves you stunned. Their sound is completely different to that of "Agalloch", but it set the mood in such a great fashion that I couldn't have asked for a better support band. France, you've did it again. I definitely urge everyone to check these guys out, which you can do on their bandcamp profile here and get in touch with them on their Facebook page here.

There was a small break after "Crown" finished and my excitement was reaching a boiling point. At this moment I was just too thrilled to function properly and I was in no way prepared for what happened next. Getting closer to the huge speakers before the band came up I noticed that there was a big wooden log placed at the center of the stage, as well as a banner of a coiled serpent which adorned the platform. From then on the mood and the setting just kept intensifying. Light turned cold blue, smoke filled the background and small pots of incense were lit, sending out a calming, woodland aroma. Four figures climbed the stage in dim, misty lighting and the journey began.


What is there to say now, since "Agalloch" really needs no introduction. If by some abysmally unfortunate event you don't know about this band just stop what you're doing, stop reading my gibberish and do yourself a favor and listen to their work. This quartet formed way back in 1995 in Portland, Oregon and for a strong 20 year period they have been spawning amazing pieces of work in which they combine elements of black metal, neofolk and doom, inspired by the wondrous, cold reaches of Cascadia, or the Pacific Northwest if you will. There are simply no proper words for me to use to describe their work and to give it proper justice, since every little piece of sound they gave to the world has ended up being something of a masterpiece. Go listen to their discography and you will see what I mean. 
But back to the gig. The sounds of "(serpens caput)" filled the room with the same subtlety with which the above mentioned mist crept around the stage. It felt like the ambiance changed. We weren't standing in "Dürer Kert" anymore, but some ancient forest guarding aeon old secrets unspoiled by human hands. The melody was so pure and entrancing that the sudden transition towards the aggressive and fast "The Astral Dialogue" completely caught you off guard. Now, I have to be honest, although I knew the band released their newest creation last year, that being the album called "The Serpent & The Sphere", I didn't listen to it prior to the show. I'm not so sure why, possibly because my hopes about the music world have been turned to fears due to the lack of good material in recent times, so I was scared of a possible disappointment with the album. Hang me right now, because I was so wrong to doubt these people. Every millisecond of sound they created that evening was superb and the new, unknown songs just instantly grasped my love. The new material was everything I could hope for and even far beyond that. "Vales Beyond Dimension" was played soon afterwards and it just sealed the deal for me. 
I do have to say that listening to "The Serpent & The Sphere" now at home has a little different sort of feel than the rest of their material, which I mostly contribute to the production and technical aspects of the album. This is in no way bad, since it provides you with a different kind of experience, kind of stepping away from the clear, polished version of "Agalloch" and instead adding a little more of a raw kind of ambiance and possible rawer emotions.

They stepped away from the latest album for a bit and just exploded with "Limbs". Simply
remembering those first tones gives me goosebumps and now when I listen to it I have a newly found love for it. Flawless execution and just sheer passion with which they played made this just an emotional whirlwind. They transitioned towards "Ghosts of the Midwinter Fires" and just... damn. When I was writing the review, I had to step away for a little while and recollect myself because I have such a hard time explaining what happened to me at this point and I'll just be brutally honest. In all my time when I would think about "Agalloch" I always imagined that I would most likely cry if they would end up playing "Falling Snow", since this is my favorite song, but this exact thing happened to me when they played "Ghosts...". The intensity with which they performed the song, the sheer unexpectedness of the song being played at all, managed to take me back a few years back into my life and remind me of certain personal emotions which go along with this song. And it just crushed me. I never had teary eyes during a show, but there I was, basically crying yet feeling like the happiest person alive. This plain fact is more than enough to tell you how much this show and this band mean to me.
After this positive mental breakdown more songs were played, each better than the last. "Dark Matter Gods", "Hallways of Enchanted Ebony" (which by the way also made me cry), "...And The Great Cold Death of The Earth" rang through the venue, moving the crowd and evoking all kinds of emotions. The band itself seemed so swept away with the very tunes they themselves were creating, since you could simply see how passionately they move and react. There was just no stopping, no time to back down and take a breath, as if the entire set was just one world shattering epic unfolding right in front of your eyes and ears and body. "Into the Painted Grey" was the last song left ringing almost endlessly as they moved away from the stage.
But it wasn't over yet. They came back, ripping "Falling Snow" through the crowd. As I said before, I was almost certain that I would shed so many tears during this piece for various reasons. Just thinking about the lyrics and the melodies makes me shiver, simply creating a masterfully woven scene of death, desolation and passing. Yet hearing it live made me feel something different and unique, something I'll never forget. 

"The snow has fallen
And raised this white mountain
On which you will die
And fade away in silence..."

The ending moments which ensued after the final pieces of the lyrical section have been released into the air took all of those negative feelings I had and just threw me into something I can't really explain. The song just moved me so much in ways I can't explain and I simply felt alive. And I felt happy. Up to this point, I wasn't sure if I'll even write a review here and resurrect my blog, but the experience which they created for me with this song removed all those doubts and gave me a strange sense of purpose and determination. If "Agalloch" ever gets to read this, you guys are the sole reason why my writing is alive again. And for that, I thank you.
The last encore song was "Plateau of the Ages", but at this point the state of bliss and nirvana I had in my body was still keeping me in some far away place and I wasn't truly there for the ending song. Despite my semi-absence, the song was performed perfectly and a long, chaotic improvised outro was an amazing finisher to an otherwise mind-blowing show.

After it was all said and done, the band members were walking through the crowd, talking to people and giving away autographs and I felt honored to be able to shake their hands and give a huge thank you to them. This has to be one of the most amazing and emotionally intense shows I have ever attended and the memories will be forever sealed in my heart.
I'd just like to give a special thank you to my dear friend who accompanied me on this epic journey, since if I came alone and without her I probably wouldn't have had as nearly as much fun. It was amazing sharing this therapeutic experience with her and hopefully we will conquer more roads  and shows together.

Hope you enjoyed the review! It's good to be back.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Interview: Seeds In Barren Fields

After a rather long break, although promised otherwise, I'm back with yet another interview. This time I collaborated with Luka and we managed to have a nice talk with "Seeds In Barren Fields", a dark force erupting from Sweden and furiously creeping over Europe. Most of you should know about this band by now, but even if that is not the case you should definitely read the text bellow since we are discussing about some very interesting topics. Hope you enjoy it, we most certainly did!


1. First I'd like to thank you for talking to us and doing this interview! Please, introduce yourself and the rest of the band.

Hello, we´re sitting in the van on the way back home from a European tour, it is Jens: vocals, Kalle: guitar, David: bass, Svante: Guitar, Yohanna: driver, merch seller and unofficial band therapist and Herr Snöskred: stand in drums and soundscapes. Also in the band yet not with us on this tour is Niclas: drums. Svante is pretty much answering the questions.

2. The name of your band is quite interesting, so please explain to us what the secret behind it is. How did you come up with it?

It´s a line taken from the Catharsis song “Obsession” on the album “Passion” – one main influence on Seeds in Barren Fields. I interpret it in several ways, depending on my mood. Hopeful, as in sowing seeds even thought it might be in vain (kind of like the old ´68-print and Martin Luther King quote “Even if the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today.”) – to never give up. Hopeless, as in, it IS all in vain. It might also be a taken as a little elitist, when hatred and anger sets in, as referring to few individuals or patches of communities still resisting, although against all odds, the beat of the machine and the death of monoculture.

3. "Seeds In Barren Fields" is a green-anarcho band. Can you tell us something more about the way you personally interpret this ideology and how you implement it into the project?

Well, first of all, Seeds in Barren Fields consist of five members all with their different interests. Not all of us have the time, interest or priorities to put effort into any anarcho-primitivist or green-anarcho activities (or much interest to dig that very deep into ideological reasoning). Although as punks we might try to put some effort in our everyday lives to make some kind of difference (the social revolution bla bla). To make music in this setting consisting of fixed bars and notes etc might in itself be hypocritical towards a serious critique of civilization and symbolic culture, it is however the closest we have come to get our feelings and frustrations out, fucked up from birth as we might be - indoctrinated by culture (ironically even by our own subculture if one would take it to extremes) in ways that seem hard to surmount. We then simply implement our ideology lyric-wise and in some ways through our esthetics (which actually might make one think about how much more we could try to deepen the merging of making music with challenging culture – however that would probably call for another project and another surrounding than a hardcore punk/metal environment; I believe Norwegian eco-philosopher Sigmund Kvalöy tried to find analogies between ecology and jazz, it its improvising and floating form for example). On another note I would say that I don’t think we focus that much on, or care about, actual environmental issues. I for one have no hope for solutions within this political and economic system (a thought maybe similar to what Naess referred to as “shallow ecology”) and I´m also not that interested in alternative political and economic systems. We probably focus more on the inner conflicts between what would be our (humans) current situation and what might be some sort of archaic longings and belongings. (if that make any sense?) 

4. Thus far you have four releases; a demo, a split 7"with "Peregrine", S/t CD and a split with the band "Marnost" from the Czech Republic. Tell us the general story of these releases. How they came to pass, any interesting stories and which one is the most significant for you?

Well, we put a few of our first recorded songs on a CD  to spread it, I guess that became a demo. Those songs are still planned to be released in more official formats, all thought newly recorded. The split with “Peregrine” had one of those songs on it. I don’t recall really how that split came about, apart from us having common acquaintances and made contact, and since both bands share a similar world view. The CD (“Sounding the Siren Song in Vain”) was just us recording all our songs that we by that time hadn’t already recorded and which time-wise was well suited for a full length. Our friend Austin of “Panopticon” offered to release it as a limited edition CD on his label “Lundr Records” – he did a stunning job, hand printing everything, which we feel gives it a beauty business never could accomplish (not very hard to comprehend that cooperation built on relations and friendship outdo deals based on economic interests). The “Marnost” split is by far the most important, partly because “Marnost” are great friends of ours and partly because it set a new standard for us musically and lyrically. We feel we´ve gotten closer to the way we are meant to sound with that one.

For the tour that we´ve just finished we also had with us a limited edition CD which we named “Replaced by Static Death” and which features remixes of previous recorded songs, based on the setting we had on this tour - remixed by Elliot Berlin, a friend of ours who is involved with lots of bands, mostly electronic but also punk rock ones, and who helped us out tremendously in this project.

5. As much as I managed to see on the internet, there is some news about a split with "Panopticon". Is this true and, if yes, is there any news when can we expect it to be released? Additionally, Austin was featured on your split with "Marnost" as a guest vocalist. Tell us something about the collaboration with him.

Yes, there is a planned split seven inch with “Panopticon”. We have talked about it for a few years now. Hopefully it will be out sometime during 2013. We´ve been in contact with Austin for quite some time and he has visited us a couple of times here in Sweden, I consider him a dear friend of mine. On one of these occasions we were recording the “Marnost” split and asked him if he´d like to do a guest appearance which he accepted. We are honored to have him on it and feel he did a great job adding the right elements to that song.

6. The artwork on your releases tends to be dark and heavily inspired by the medieval times. Who does the art and where did the Middle Age influence come from?

I guess it´s me (Svante) who does the artwork that is referred to as medieval inspired. (Kevin Tucker of “Peregrine” did the “Peregrine” split). I have none whatsoever interest in medieval times (apart from some sweeping interest in how history has led us up to this fucked up point). The artwork is more meant to symbolically connect with the themes of our songs and what we as a band portray; often suggesting feelings of hopelessness, despair, angst, depression and loneliness – disconnection. I fucked up a lot of Gustave Dore’s images for this. The image on "Sounding the Siren Song in Vain" was taken from an article I found in some glossy artsy magazine on Ted Kaczynski which illustrates the ship of fools (I know nothing of that artwork apart from that).  As far as esthetics goes I would say that it has just as much connection to subculture where we pay homage to the old “Catharsis”, “Gehenna”, “Constrito”, “All Out War” etc. etc. etc. records and “CrimethInc.” images. Woodcuts are just so grim looking.


7. There is a lot to be heard in your music as far as styles go, from hardcore punk to black and death metal, even some folk. How do you "label" your tunes and in the end does it really matter to you how other people see you?

Yes, we draw on influences from those directions and way more. We aren’t maybe that interested in being musically genre pinpointed but more concerning atmosphere and theme wise – in that way we probably always will consider ourselves punk. Those who get us will probably understand where we come from.

8. Connected to the question above, which bands influenced your style?

Influenced and influencing:

“Catharsis”, “His hero is gone”, “Undying”, “Sacrilege GBG”, old school “At the Gates” and “Dark Tranquility”, “Dissection”, “Ire”, “Gehenna”, “Starkweather”, “Neurosis”, “Wolves in the Throne Room”, “Weakling”, “Satyricon”, “Ulver”, “Abnegation”, “Twilight”, “Earth Crisis”, “Nachtmystium”, “Deathspell Omega”, “Tragedy”, “Amebix”, “Thursday”, “Uranus”, “Majority Rule”, “Buried Inside”, “ Iskra”, “Bolt Thrower”, “Morbid Angel”, “Leviathan”, “Gorgoroth”, “Integrity”, “Liar”, “Heaven Shall Burn”, “Sunrise”, “Constrito”, “Carahter”, “Ekkaia”, “Remains of the day”; to name a whole lot yet probably missing out on even more.

9. From our perspective over here, Sweden has an amazing and thriving music scene and some of Luka’s and my favorite bands come from that country .Tell us something more about your scene, which local bands managed to inspire you the most and to which projects you grew up with?

Uh, see the answer on the question above. Some of us grew up with hardcore and punk and some of us didn’t. I guess we all missed out on the Gothenburg death metal heyday. I for one got into all that way later. Of course the 90’s Hardcore scene of Sweden had great impact on several of us, bands like “Refused”, “Breach”, “Saidiwas”, “Outlast”, “Final Exit” etc. Scene-wise I got into all this quite late (way later then Kalle and David), around the millennium, but had the great opportunity to find myself at home in both the hardcore and crust scenes of Gothenburg at the time, being able to draw the best out of both. I don’t think however that there were that many Swedish bands that inspired me (musically for “Seeds in Barren Fields”), maybe with the exceptions of “Kontrovers” and “Skitsystem” which I hold as some of Sweden’s greatest bands.

10. Can you recommend to us and the readers some new, upcoming bands from Sweden?

Jens play in “Lose the Life” and “Spiknykter” – both local hardcore acts worth checking out if you´re into clevo style and/or no frills fast hardcore. Apart from that; no (I´m totally out of step with what´s happening and don’t know of any new bands that apply to me at the moment). Still existing and established local bands that I like is “Martyrdöd”, “Agrimonia” and “Monachus” (ex-“Icos”) – and of course “Skitsystem” (who doesn’t like them?)

11. You are getting ready to tour, so tell us where can people manage to see you live? Will you be traveling alone or along with other bands?

Sorry, answered this too late. The tour has taken place. We didn’t travel with any band but had the opportunity to play with several great bands: “Marnost”, “Sangre De Muerdago”, “Gattaca”, “Resurrectionists”, “Cloud rat”, “Blood in our wells”, “Lawine”, a band without a name, “Light Bearer”, “Jungbluth”, “Reset/mankind”, “Indoctrinate”, “Drom”, “Toxic codendron”, “Vidargängr”, “Krokodil”, “Exterminating Angel”, “Lautsturmer”, “Marantuta”, “Ruined Nation”, “Positive Impact”. We actually didn’t share the stage with any band that we didn’t like on at least some level.

12. Aside of playing in "Seeds..." do you guys have any other hobbies, other music projects, studying something, jobs, sports?

Jens and Kalle plays in “Spiknykter” and “Katastrofen”. Jens plays in “Lose the life”. Niclas plays in “Fredag den 13:e” and “High hats” and follows a whole lot of  football. Jens writes and studies a lot, and cooks vegan food for shows etc. He´s also putting some time into activism – such as going to Palestine, animal rights (I´d prefer the term liberation though) and immigration politics etc. Kalle has three sons, Svante is a social worker, practice wing chun and studies some, David is a sound engineer and handles all the recording for us.

13. We mentioned green-anarchism before. How do you reflect this ideology on your life outside of the band? What are your thoughts about what is happening in the world today, in those regards?

I wouldn’t even know where to start. I consider us fucked (not to be read in an Armageddon kind of way but more in a disconnection kind of way). Anything and everything we might do to somehow reconnect with something more in line with what it might be to be animal, although a big brained one, and less confined to cultural shackles, although it might be in our nature to order ourselves as such, I would say ought to be healthy and positive. To fuck up patriarchy, science, order, systems, politics, dogma, ideologies; to seek to find balance between rationality and feeling and not dismiss feeling as of lower worth, to find some kind of spiritual rooting, to find ways to communicate with each other less biased by hierarchies – yet also not be afraid of actually looking in to positive aspects of how we order ourselves in groups. So, as you can see, I don’t care that much for what’s happening “in the world” as referring to politics, news, conflicts – it´s great that shit is happening – let´s hope it happens enough for everything to crumble yet without too many catastrophes taking place so that we might start living together again (bear in mind that I´m pretty aware of that my take on existence is filtered through my own “psychological structure”).

14. Time for you to ask a question!

According to scholars: How numerous might the human population had been before the agricultural revolution?

This is a very interesting and difficult question that could morph into a long debate. Given the fact that most of our human history has been falsified and mutated by the said scholars, or well those “mainstream” ones thus not counting the “heretical” hermetic orders which revered real science and spirituality, I will lean onto data that is publicly available and is thought in schools. So to answer your question, it is believed that the human population numbered between five and ten million just before the agricultural revolution, after which it exploded and expanded to well over 300 million in the first century of C.E. 

 15. As much as I (Luka) realized, you are a big owl lover. Where did this adoration come from? If you ever decide to go on a winter holiday and travel these parts, it will be great pleasure to guest you at my place. Kikinda is the city of owls and a winter standpoint for Long-eared owls, so I'm sure you'll like it here!

Haha, no, I´m not a big owl-lover. I pretty much know nothing about owls, I just think they look cool and have a certain aura about them. I might wish I knew more about birds in general. Birds have, I believe, a symbolic value to many of us – just consider the amount of birds used as punk bands logos. We´d love to come to Kikinda and see owls though.

16. 2012 is well behind us. What were the top ten releases that marked that year for you?

1. “Nachmystium - Silencing Machine”
2. “Martyrdöd –Paranoia”
3. “Tragedy - Darker Days Ahead”
4. “Neurosis - Honor Found in Decay” 

And then in no known order: “Blood of the Black Owl - Light the Fires!”, “Circle Takes the Square - Rites of Initiation”, “Wovenhand -The Laughing Stalk”, “Marduk - Serpent Omega”, “Blut aus nord - 777 Cosmosophy”, “Panopticon - Kentucky”, “Earth - Angels of Darkness,Demons of Light pt II”, “Deathspell Omega – Drought” (The Catharsis discography doesn’t count). Sorry, I can never keep to that top ten limit.

17. That would be it! Once again, thank you for answering our questions, we hope you enjoyed it. Do you have any final messages for the readers?

Please consider: Hardcore, punk, anarchism, veganism, straight edge, black metal…, whatever is your thing; is a great start. But a good idea might be to work towards not getting stuck into scenes, genres or upholding values as a means to presenting one’s identity. To always strive further, deeper, and higher, reconsider and re-evaluate. Stay open minded. Destroy and rebuild everything, over and over again. Stagnation is death (as the Polish band is called) if counter culture is supposed to be really countering. And stop fucking judging the paths others may take in this (“we´re all black sheep and we know it”).

And thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cancelled show

Sadly, due to a certain amount of reasons, the "Deuil" and "Paramnesia" gig had to be cancelled. It was a last minute decision, but it had to happen, since May Day is a really bad time for a show here. I'll leave the gig announcement post just for archive's sake.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Gig announcement: Deuil, Paramnesia CANCELLED


This is an unexpected gig announcement post, but it came to be here in an extremely subtle manner. Recently I was contacted by "Deuil" regarding a potential record review and, as we were discussing things, they mentioned that they also have a show in Belgrade. As it turns out, a day later I realize that this gig is booked by "Resetor bookings & promotion", so here we are now.

"Deuil", a quartet hailing from Belgium, already started dragging their brooding black metal imbued sludge/doom across Europe with this eight day tour. Along them will be "Paramnesia", a raw black metal project coming from dark parts of France. You can check these two bands out, if you dare, on the following links here and here.
These two bands plan on unleashing a grim performance in Belgrade on 1 May 2013 in "Club Fest", starting at 9:30 PM. At the moment, there is a tiny possibility that "Resetor" will manage to add  some local support, but this is yet to be announced. Entry fee into the void will be a mere 2 euros. Don't miss out on this! In case you do, expect a gig review and, later on, a review of a record released by "Deuil".

Friday, April 19, 2013

Interview: Agrimonia

As I promised yesterday, here is an interview making way for a more regularly updated blog and what an opener it is! "Agrimonia", one of the unstoppable beasts holding the throne of the doom/epic crust genre, recently emerged from a period of silence with a new album and they are ready to send ripples through the underground scene across the globe. Scroll down below and read about "Rites of Separation", the band's past experiences and what the future holds.


1. Hey there! First of all, I'd like to thank you for taking your time and doing this interview! Please, introduce yourself and the rest of the band.

Pontus: Hi! I'm Pontus, playing guitar and doing backing vocals. In addition to myself we also have Björn on drums, Christina on vocals and keys, Magnus on guitar and Martin on bass. 

2. The band is together for a fine number of years now, so please give us a brief history of how it all looked like at the beginning.

Pontus: We started out in early 2005 something, and the plan was simply to do something heavy. I'm also a sucker for melodies and dynamics, so that found its way into the music as well.  We spent that year finding our sound really, writing, re-writing until we had our first song that we were really happy with.  That's "The Decay" from our first album. We also didn't get a steady bass player until 2006. We did our first live show, found a new drummer in Björn and then recorded the first album in 2007. After that we've done a couple tours, released more records, Martin joined the band on bass. Now were having our 3rd album "Rites of Separation" coming out on Southern Lord records this April.
  
3. In one interview I read with Christina, she explained the meaning of the word "Agrimonia" which is actually a plant. How did you pick out that name and how well do you think it describes your music?

Christina: A friend of ours came up with the name. I like the name cause it is a bit dark and mysterious and I think that fits with the music we play.
  
4. Your self-titled release from 2008 came out having a very interesting mixture of genres. What managed to inspire you the most to formulate your sound in such a way?

Pontus: I think it's just a mix of the stuff you like yourself. It was never our goal to mix genres or anything I think our songs and ideas flow together though, with a connecting vibe through it all. So it all came very naturally as soon as we started getting our songs together.
  
5. "Host of the Winged" was yet another powerful assault to the scene and again you succeeded to bring out something unique. How do you feel about the advancement of your sound over those two records? Do you think it is a natural evolution or do you actually try to add something new to each release?
 
Pontus: It's very much a natural evolution. We never think too much about what we're gonna do. I guess the songs were becoming a bit more elaborate with "Host of the Winged", I had a lot of ideas with the music. But we didn't want to take it further in that direction, we don't want the music to be too technical or complex. There should still be a groove and flow. For this new album, I think we scaled down a little bit of that, letting ideas go on for a little longer. That might have been a somewhat conscious decision actually. But it's no difference in our mindset or approach to making music.
  
6. After that release you went to tour in Mexico and the USA. Tell me something more about that experience.

Pontus: That was my first time going on tour in North America. We had a great time, played with great bands and met great people! We just went for 2 weeks, playing the US west coast and also one show in Mexico. We wanna go back this year and play our new stuff, and stay for longer this time! 

7. After a brief tour over Germany in 2011 the band went into hibernation of sorts. I was even scared you broke up! What exactly happened to the band in that period between the said tour and entering the studio yet again?

Christina: I got really sick after an operation that went wrong in 2011. I was in the hospital for months and they tried to fix me up, I was really in a bad state. My stomach muscles were cut and I had to leave the hospital with what they call an "open stomach". They didn´t want to close me up cause of infection risks and other reasons. They transferred skin from my thigh and put it over the hole in the stomach and then just left it like that for a year to heal. It was difficult for me to use my stomach muscles and I really need them for singing. We had to cancel lots of shows and other plans during this time. I was sometimes too sick to do anything and lots of operations followed. But now I am as good as I am gonna get and happy it is all over.
  
8. In the meantime, you signed with "Southern Lord", so I'm curious how did this collaboration come to pass?

Pontus: My other band "Martyrdöd" got a deal with Southern Lord in 2011. So I simply approached them and asked if they wanted to work with "Agrimonia" as well!
  
9. You've been in the studio working on a new album since September 2012 and there is already a song being streamed on the "Pitchfork" website. How did the proces of creating this new record go? Any interesting behind-the-scene stories about it?

Pontus: When we did our 2nd album, "Host of the Winged", we didn't really rehearse the songs. It was very much a studio creation. This had much to do with that I lived pretty far away from everyone else during that period, in Bergen, Norway. This time we wanted to actually rehearse the songs. So most of the album was written by Summer 2012, then we just rehearsed the songs for a couple of months. I think rehearsing can be a bit redundant, but I think you can really tell it did a lot of good for this album. We recorded the drums in two November days in Welfare Sounds in Gothenburg, then spent the rest of the year recording the rest at our rehearsal space. Then early 2013 we mixed it at Studio Fredman. It's definately the best sounding record we've done.
  
10. In a narrative and lyrical sense, what is the story that "Rites of Separation" will tell the listener?

Christina: Like all other "Agrimonia" albums, lyrically this album is about our daily life and the good and the bad sides of it. About problems we are facing as individuals and as a group. The lyrics are a way for me to tell a story in a poetic way but still take a stand.
  
11. Musically, what type of sound can we expect on the new release? Are you holding on to your roots or are you trying something new?

Pontus: We're not really trying anything new, it's very much an "Agrimonia" album. Although I feel this is our hardest album so far. Also in my opinion Christina's vocal performance is her best ever!
  
12. Any solid plans about what you will be doing after the album is out in April? Touring perhaps?

Pontus: No solid plans yet. We have a few shows booked, but no tour. We really want to do something this fall though, so let's see what happens.
  
13. Who or what is the main driving force of "Agrimonia", both individually and as a band? What makes you tick and what motivates you to create music?

Christina: For me it is my friends and the people around me that makes music and try to tell a story and fight for a better way of life. They motivate me. I also really get inspired by fierce and awesome women making music and other art forms and not caring about what anyone tells them they can and can not do.

Pontus: The music is a personal outlet initially. Then when more people take part, and when people appreciate it, it grows bigger. It's a very rewarding experience. That said, I'd probably still write those riffs even if I didn't have a band to use them in.

  
14. Which song from "Agrimonia" means the most to you? And, if you were only a fan, which album would be your favorite?

Christina: Lyrically for me it is "The Battle Fought" from "Rites of Separation".

Pontus: I can't pick one song. For me it's more about some parts, some riffs or melodies. I can recall where and when I wrote it and always get reminded about that place in life when I hear that certain melody again. As a fan, well I can't really say anything else than our new album!
  
15. Time for you to ask a question! 
Stefan, what made you start a blog? And how is life and the underground scene is Serbia?

I've always been passionate about music and there was a constant wish to get involved with it somehow. Sadly, I was never lucky enough to have a band, aside of a few short lived projects, so making a blog was a solid second step, especially since writing is also a huge passion of mine.
Life is quite hard in Serbia, especially when you see how the people in the rest of Europe live. My girlfriend lives in the Netherlands, so when you compare the ways of living in these two countries you come to a horrid result. I think this really reflects on the underground scene, so the bands we have here tend to be quite grim with their lyrics and mood. Not a lot of them manage to go beyond the borders of the country and overall I feel like the scene is not as tightly knit as it should be. Serbia needs to do a lot of work to be able to match the diy spirit of the rest of the world. Still, foreign bands tend to pass through and they seem to love it here!
  
16. 2012 is far behind us, but I am curious to hear your favorite band releases of that year? Any recommendations for the readers?

Christina: "Black September" - "Into the darkness into the void", "Martyrdöd - "Paranoia", "Vicious Irene" - "Distorted state of mind", "Embers"- "Shadows" and all the re-releases of the "Bolt Thrower" records.

Pontus: "Dinosaur Jr" - "I Bet on Sky", "Om" – "Advaitic songs" and "Kent" - "Jag är inte rädd för mörkret".
  
17. Aside of playing in "Agrimonia", are band members involved with some other music projects?

Christina: I am in "Contorture", Magnus and Björn are in "Radiation", Pontus and Björn are in "Miasmal", Pontus is in "Martyrdöd" and Martin is in "At the Gates", "Vrak" and "Skitsystem".

18. Similar question to the previous one, do you have any hobbies outside the boundries of music?

Christina: Im really into photography and gardening.

Pontus: Reading, movies and bus rides between Oslo and Gothenburg.
  
19. That wraps it up! In the end, I have to thank you again for this lengthy interview, it was a pleasure. Any final message for the blog?

Pontus: Thanks to you! All the best for the future! Check out "Rites of Separation" when it comes out. Cheers!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The last time we talked

I was away from the blog for some time due to taking a short break from life, so things have been slow here. During the break however, I received a bunch of really cool submissions which I'm looking forward to sharing with you, so you all have something to look forward to. 
From tomorrow on there will be more regular updates on the blog, grandly opening with an interview which I have been dying to receive for a while now. Definitely check back tomorrow evening, stay tuned!

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Canyon Observer - Chapter II: These Binds Will Set You Free (2012)


The reason for my longish absence is the fact that I've been preparing a number of interviews for the blog and I was pretty much expecting them to be finished rather fast. Alas, the questions ended up being sent in times when the interviewees were rather busy, so I am still waiting for their replies. This ended up being a bad decision on my part, waiting for so long without doing anything else on here, but it makes me content knowing that the said interviews will be an interesting read for all of you. Hopefully in the mean time you didn't forget about this blog in the first place!

"The Canyon Observer" takes the stage here today. This is a band you previously had the chance to read about way back in November 2011 when I reviewed the first chapter of their record series. The Slovenian quintet is still pulsing with energy, slamming us yet again with a very powerful release. Ever since their previous outlet, the band has been quite active as far as concerts go, playing an impressive number of gigs throughout various countries in Europe. One might say that this project is definitely a force that can't be stopped.
In case you missed my previous write-up regarding this band, you can check it out here. It is surely worth a peek, due to the fact that "The Canyon Observer" went through a whole lot of growing when compared to their last outlet. Their sound remained within the boundaries of the post metal/post rock/sludge genre, but they somehow matured and solidified their own style.
Their previous "chapter" was adorned with excellent execution and was very characteristic with having quite a bit of resemblance to "Isis". That trait was surely not considered as a flaw, especially given that the mentioned band ceased to exist and the Slovenians were a top ranking project worthy of the abandoned throne. I liked that release very much and have considered it a form with which the band displayed its talents and capabilities. 
Fast forward one year later and witness this beast being unleashed. What is transferred onto this new chapter is definitely the band's technical aspect, but all else shines under a different light. In one year time, the band managed to shape an excellent stylistic form which absolutely nullifies your chances to  blatantly compare them with another band. 
Their new style of composition, and above all mood, is dirtier, yet at the same time that much elegant. The atmosphere became darker with slow and tormenting buildups followed by epic, world-shattering, crescendos. Instrumental sections lay low and eerie, just massing up tension until they explode into your ears with incredible detonating power. Vocals ceased to have their previous calming and soothing tone, now being replaced with trance-like wailing and maddening shrieks. 
As you can see with just a brief summary, the overall shape of the music is different than what they previously made, but staying close to their parent genre. It is enough for the listener to just hear the first song, "Part I: As We Surrender To Lust", and you can immediately sense what I'm talking about. Add to that the fact that the opening song consumes your attention entirely and the rest of the record simply doesn't let you walk away until it is done spinning. Or well, a couple of spins. 
"Chapter II" comes in CD format. Same as its predecessor, this release has a minimalist design although quite dark and corresponding well with the overall mood of the music. "Kapa Records" was once again the label with which the band collaborated. Thus far, there have been three other reviews discussing releases from this record label, so it seems that we are building up a really nice relationship. Either way, you can grab this release on the "Kapa Records" bandcamp page, found here. Don't be scared to check out other bands hosted there, you won't regret it.
I definitely have to say that "The Canyon Observer" displayed an impressive fit of audio growth and evolution, making this release a huge step forward for the project. An outlet of this caliber makes me wonder what kind of monster they are brewing for the future. I truly hope the band stays active as much as it has been thus far, since at this pace they will surely never disappoint. Check them out and I hope you enjoyed the read!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gig announcement: Coma Stereo, Kriške


A somewhat late gig announcement, but better late than never! "Resetor booking & promotions" once again rolled up their sleeves and decided to host an awesome evening. This event is scheduled for 17 March 2013 in "Club Fest", Belgrade.

This time the Belgrade crowd needs to get prepared for an exciting cosmic voyage with "Coma Stereo", a space rock/experimental quartet from Slovenia. Last year in April you had the chance to read a review I did for this band, sharing my thoughts about their album called "1000 Mest" which came out earlier that year in February. In case you missed that write-up, head on over here to check it out!
Local support will come in the form of "Kriške", or "slices" in Serbian, hailing from Belgrade. This four-year old project brings a whole spectrum of sounds, mixing indie, no-wave, noise and rock (and roll) into their wall of sound. Get ready and check them out on their facebook page found here.

Doors are open at 9pm with an entry fee of 4 euros. For more information about the event, check out the following page here. See you there!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kabul Golf Club - Le Bal Du Rat Mort (2012)


Finally sat down, grabbed a submission and mustered enough strength to do a proper review. Between preparing a fine amount of interviews for the blog and some rather bad and insane personal happenings, doing this write-up has been a tough ordeal. Still, the fact that this is posted now just shows that I still have some fuel left to run on.

Today will be washed in weird noises, wailing guitars and maniacal melodies. "Kabul Golf Club", a four-piece haling from Limburg, Belgium, brings forth the shredding sounds of noise-imbued mathrock. Formed in 2010, the quartet slowly worked on their material, eventually releasing an EP called "Le Bal Du Rat Mort", a fourteen minute monster born in February 2012. While this record was being brewed, the band members also played and contributed to other projects, some of them being "The Rott Childs", "The Powerkrauts", "Enemy Of The Sun" and "Kindred".
What we find inside this release is a wave of disturbing and eerie tunes, attacking us through five songs. The very first sounds you get to hear instantly drag you into the madness of "Kabul Golf Club", coming in the form of a track named "Bits of Freedom". The introduction song, as well as the very number of the tracks and their duration, immediately signal that this will be an extremely fast experience. And indeed, the entire record is a rushing and furious ride, the band being continuously remorseless. Most of the tunes are at a truly fast pace and they just fly through your head. At other moments, however, the speed drops a little, but the overall chaos, noise and high-pitched sounds make up for the lack of tempo.
Don't be fooled though, those slower sections just carry an unexpected surprise for you on the next corner. One second you are entranced by a horrific melody slowly creeping up on you, but already the coming moment is upon you, bursting with a loud detonation of screeching guitars and crashing drums. The vocals fit exceptionally well in these song sections, since they resemble a sort of raspy shriek which definitely adds to the eeriness of the entire experience. This is something I really liked about "Kabul Golf Club". There is a fine dose of ambience on this record and the band has great skill in portraying a certain type of mood around the listener. Overall, I find their music to be quite eerie and lunacy invoking, which is something that not a lot of projects manage to do successfully.
The EP has been released in collaboration with a label named "Uproar For Veneration", which is also a booking agency and a fanzine. Distribution of this release has been handled by "Rough Trade". This  Dutch distributor has been focused on the countries of the Benelux and has been doing an awesome job for quite a while now. Production, mixing and mastering has been done by Micha Volders who has previously worked with other bands such as "Fence", "The Rott Childs", "Little Trouble Kids" and "The Sore Losers". "Le Bal Du Rat Mort" comes in CD format, housed in a nice gatefold package adorned with gloomy and dark imagery. The overall design is rather simple and straightforward, quite fitting to the tunes in general. You can order the CD, and get connected with the band, on their official website, found here.
In the end, "Kabul Golf Club" gave us an interesting ride. The album picks you up in a wild manner, utterly fast and unstoppable, so you end up listening to it multiple times in a row. At this point the band has several concerts lined up, as you can see on their facebook page found here, so they are pretty much alive. Definitely keep an eye out for them and any potentially new material that might crawl out from under their hood, since it would be a true loss if you would miss out on these guys. Hope you enjoyed the read!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Gig review: Eaglehaslanded, Deer In The Headlights


First proper post of 2013 and it gets to be a show review. As you can see on the poster, I'm rather late with writing about the gig. At times, if I'd end up being so slow with my words, I'd entirely skip doing a review. But this time I'm really tempted to have the show stamped on the blog, simply because a couple of friends and acquaintances are a part of both these bands. I will, however, keep this write-up short because it really has been a while since the show happened and hopefully you will be reading more about these bands in the future.

So the gig took place on Friday, 18 January 2013, in a venue called "Panic Room Zica" in Belgrade. If memory serves well, I never wrote about this place before which is strange since I love it. Truth be told, I haven't been a regular visitor of shows in my town for quite a while now, but it's hard to believe that I didn't visit this venue in the past three years. Time does fly and I'm getting old.
Either way, the show space, also shortly know as "Zica" which means "string" or "wire" in Serbian, is located in the heart of Belgrade. Half way between the main train station and a big public transportation route knot, the venue can be found easily. Although it is one of the smallest venues in the city, it is definitely one of the coziest. When you step inside, a narrow staircase takes you a floor higher where you are greeted by a tiny room. In front is a small corner where merch is usually set up, while the left is occupied by the nonexistent stage and some space for dancing. Additionally, in the center of the room is one long table and some chairs for breaks and such. The room is extended through a hallway of sorts which features a big bar and a way towards the restrooms. Light is dim and moody, so overall the ambient is really nice and comfortable. 
First to kick it off that evening were my dear friends, "Eaglehaslanded". The band has already been mentioned a while back when I posted news about their tour with "Expectations" last September. Although they have a long list of shows behind them, this is actually the first time I see them live without counting a few of their rehearsals which I had the privilege to attended. It is definitely safe to say that I regret missing all their previous shows, since they pretty much managed to nail it on this one.
Previously I blatantly mentioned that they play neocrust, when in fact their music carries so much more.  Throughout their set you can hear a score of genres and melodies ranging from savage d-beating, insane mathcore spasms, layers of really grim hardcore and even moody screamo sections. Yes, everything is tightly packed into one strong shock-therapy. Their sound was remarkably massive and I have to say that the venue didn't manage to keep up. Everything seemed to be chaotic and the sound was muffled at times, but in the end who even cares, it's all punk! The band was stomping everything into a pulp with excessive amounts of dancing, screaming and their huge wall of sound.
Every band member of this trio is admirable, but I have to give special praises to Nemanja, their drummer. For the majority of their gig my eyes were glued to his set and the amount of beating it received from the person holding the sticks. He was completely remorseless, precise and, above all, quite passionate. And oh yeah, did I mention that he is in his mid-teens? Insanity.
After a small break it was time for "Deer In The Headlights". Crusty, thrashy hardcore five-piece hailing from Banja Luka, Bosnia. There's a high chance that some of you previously heard about this band and maybe even saw them live, since they did a rather long European tour back in 2011. Similarly to "Eaglehaslanded", they had a number of shows in Serbia before but somehow I always managed to miss out.
Needless to say, the band kicked off their set with aggression and it stayed that way until the very end. With minimal breaks and nigh constant beating, this show was a one-breather. Despite all the rushing, dark tunes, they manage to keep a fine dose of melodic sections in their music. The overall music was far less chaotic and massive than that of the previous band, thus the venue was more content with carrying out the tunes properly. Still, "Deer In The Headlights" is a tough cookie and has quite a lot to offer to the listener. It was really cool how you can sense, at times, a strong influence of a band like "Battle of Wolf 359", which is definitely a plus.
Overall, it was a fun show and I'm happy that I finally managed to see these bands live. It took a while, but it was absolutely worth it. Too bad that I took a long pause from the blog, which definitely reflects on this review via lack of words. Hopefully you enjoyed the read regardless, stay tuned for more!