Beginning a review is always the most difficult part of the writing process. There are many thoughts and feelings that you want to express and so many experiences that you want to put across in the right way and your train of thought moves fluidly from one thing to the next…. but getting that down in a coherent and interesting way is something that often falls short. For a weekend spent at Roadburn Festival that process becomes ten times more difficult as experiences are not exactly in short supply and each person has their own unique take on what the city of Tilburg has given them for the four day festival run. No two people will likely have exactly the same experience of Roadburn and it’s often said by the festival team and those who have attended many times “Roadburn is what you make of it, it’s personal, it’s yours.” And that is such a true statement. This is my third Roadburn and while it’s not a festival I can claim to have been to as many times as another person…it often feels like some bands are being booked directly out of my dreams and for the thousands of other attendees this is most probably true for them. Somehow Walter gets into your mind and pulls out your musical desires and the festival becomes as much a part of you as it is for the organisers.
Sinmara – Hvísl Stjarnanna
Iceland’s black metal scene is one full of creativity and unique sounds and Sinmara are but one part in a much larger group of musicians who make music so unlike other current black metal that the small country is now home to some of the most interesting projects around. While the Icelandic sound is different to most modern black metal it’s still difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes it so intriguing. Is it the vast, desolate landscapes of their home country? The pitch black darkness or blinding sun of the most extreme times of the year? The remoteness of their locale giving rise to untainted ideas and themes? It could be all of those things or none of those things but Sinmara are one of the trailblazers of a scene that is so revered that it became one of Roadburn Festival’s commissioned projects at the 2018 edition (although Sinmara members were not a part of this performance, many of their contemporaries were).
Sinmara’s second full length builds on 2014s Aphotic Womb and 2017s EP Within The Weaves of Infinity plays a large part in informing the melodic structures of this new record – Sinmara do not shy away from creating moments of great beauty within their chaos and many songs are deceptively harmonious at times. The dissonance of “Mephitic Haze” is tempered by Ólafur Guðjónsson rasping vocals and guitars that suddenly soar on high, rich notes that create passages of utter elegance.
Last month found The Round Up Tapes exploring Barshasketh’s newest record, Barshasketh, and further to that study a conversation with Krigeist and GM was had. Below are the results of that conversation which was conducted via email.
For those not familiar, what is the history of Barshasketh? How did the band come together and how has the geographical distance that now exists affected the way the band works?
Barshasketh started off as Krigeist’s solo project over a decade ago. After he relocated to Edinburgh in 2010, he set about piecing together a lineup from local musicians, initially strictly for the purpose of playing live shows, but in time some of these live members were made permanent. Unfortunately, just as we were settling on a stable lineup, Krigeist ended up having to leave the UK in 2014 as his visa was revoked and BH, our drummer at the time, ended up leaving the band due to some rather unfortunate family issues. Undeterred by these logistical challenges, we continued to work on our music remotely and replaced BH with MK. We simply fly in members and plays shows with very minimal or non-existent preparation- as crazy as this arrangement seems, it actually works surprisingly well thanks to the discipline and dedication of each of our members in preparing the material individually.
As it stands we’re spread across three different countries, and no two members are even based in the same city. Although it’s not always easy to do what we do, as long as we feel we’ve got something to say as a band, we’ll find a way of making things work.
Photography: Porta Atra
Barshasketh – Barshasketh
Originally a one-man band from New Zealand, founding member Krigeist’s relocation to Scotland brought new opportunities to enhance his music and after session members and live line-ups were solidified, Barshasketh began to take the form that we see today on their fourth full-length, Barshasketh. Stripping back their sound to that of their early days, Barshasketh are reclaiming the essence of black metal and while their music isn’t breaking down barriers or smashing genre lines, the expertise and musicianship on display here is more than solid and definitely worth multiple listens.
This year has been incredible for music and metal in particular. Choosing records to include on a “best of” list is a personal thing and so I chose records that I enjoyed for their creativity, emotion, spirituality or message.
I did some cool things in 2018 in terms of writing and I went to some new places. Switzerland felt more like home each day. My day job in interesting and I’m learning a lot. I took lots of photographs and some will be included on an album release.
I hope to continue writing for Metal Hammer, The Quietus, Scene Point Blank and sporadically, myself in 2019 and I hope to hear a lot more exciting music.
Last month found The Round Up Tapes exploring Devouring Star’s The Arteries of Heresy and further to that study a conversation with Devouring Star’s founder, JL, was had. Below are the results of that conversation which was conducted via email.
What was the driving force behind creating Devouring Star? What does the name mean to you?
The driving force on creating Devouring Star was the necessity for a creative platform for my concepts, it comes down to the simple fact that music was the only way of expressing these things for me and metal music in particular due to the fact that I am and was fond with it.
The name ‘Devouring Star’ is a reference to a black hole, yet it is also a metaphor for something that consumes yourself ultimately.
Do you see Devouring Star becoming an all-consuming part of your life or are you able to separate that side of yourself from the world?
No matter what, life itself is as boring as it is for everyone else, no mysticism required here. We eat, we shit, we sleep. So naturally Devouring Star isn’t a part of the daily routines. However the concepts in Devouring Star present my personal beliefs in such a way, that it is always a part of me and it is something that is separated from me unto music. Back in 2013 when Devouring Star started, has however affected my life dramatically.
Devouring Star – The Arteries of Heresy
Finland’s Devouring Star plays with evil as theme but does so in less Satanic ways and rather explains that mankind itself is the ultimate embodiment of sin, that humans are the scourge and that religion is not the hopeful tenet that we have been led to believe.
The Arteries of Heresy is Devouring Star’s second full length and the person behind it all, JL, is using the band as a vessel of deliverance for personal enlightenment. There’s a sense that the evil that lurks within is one of primal matter and on “Procreation of Blood” the chaos is laid bare for all to see. Within the maelstrom are subtle grooves that can be latched on to in order to orientate oneself but for the most part the song, and the album as a whole, is an ode to embracing sin and taking it into yourself in order to fulfil your purpose on this earth.
The Round Up Tapes is generally a “hey, I liked this and maybe you will, too,” kind of deal, but sometimes I get sent albums that I may not have come across otherwise – the world of music is huge, of course, and hearing everything is nigh on impossible. With that in mind here are three debut records that were sent my way recently that I enjoyed and perhaps you will too. They all encompass metal in various ways – whether it’s the more straightforward black metal of Bleakwood, or the melancholy of Dawnwalker or the doomed passages from STAHV – but all of the music featured here is passionate and worth your time.
Bleakwood – Solypsis
2017 has been an interesting year for music, for realisations, for speaking out and for making changes. Personally, I made a big move to another country (Switzerland) which has been overwhelming at times. I got a job fairly quickly and I’m still trying to figure this country out but mostly I feel settled here.
I thought I should say something here because it’s been at least one hundred years (four months) since I did and somehow a round-up slipped my mind in 2016. It’s been a busy year for writing and sadly this little blog has suffered due to other commitments. I continue to write for Metal Hammer and recently joined the team at the Quietus. I’ve written for Noisey a number of times this year and Scene Point Blank continues to be a big part of my writing life.
This year I contributed to Metal Hammer’s Top 100, the metal list for tQ and Scene Point Blank’s Top 25 – which will be a more general list that includes things other than metal but here on Bleak Metal I will list a few records that I enjoyed very much this year.
2018 has already begun in the writer’s world and I’ve heard a few records already – Watain’s Trident Wolf Eclipse, Tribulation’s Down Below, Portal’s Ion, Summoning’s With Doom We Come and Erdve’s Vaitojimas – and so far the calibre of music coming out in the first few months of the new year is extremely high. My plans are to do more here on Bleak Metal (which I say every bloody year) and as long as my hands don’t fall off then it should be possible.
Thank you for reading this little blog and for taking an interest.
Cavernlight – As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache
Cavernlight’s debut is a record wrought with absolute despair and in the five passages that make up this work, there is no hope to be found. The members are clear in their utter desperation and in As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache there is almost a willingness to revel in that sadness, to let it be all-consuming and to allow it to take over. Some doom holds a little light but for this Oshkosh band there is nothing at the end of the tunnel. For a debut, As We Cup Our Hands… is extremely assured; the themes run beautifully throughout and the differing elements are brought together succinctly to create a palette of darkness. Doom is the key but noise, ambient and abstract tones filter through the shadows to build an aura of claustrophobia that is unrelenting in its scope.