Friday, October 16, 2009

Nephesh - Inter Armas Silent Leges review 10/16/09

Nephesh - Inter Armas Silent Leges 2009 - 250.jpg

Nephesh debut CD "Inter Armas Silent Leges" is a release that a handful of people have been vigorously anticipating, combining elements of symphonic and black metal, this will appeal to fans of Divine Symphony and other bands of the like. Funny enough, I actually pointed this band out to Jason of Nokternal Hemizphear a while back, and as soon as he heard them, he fell in love. Now finally after a long wait the release is here.

Overall, for a debut CD, I see a lot of potential in the band, it is a pretty solid debut release, although it does have its flaws. The CD starts out with this amazing intro, when I first popped the CD in and hit play, I couldnt believe that it was so good. Think Dimmu Borgir, mixing amazing orchestral pieces, and choir vocals. Next Sangre Immortal comes on, which I must say, is probably my favorite song on the CD (other than the intro). Next up we have Tormentors of Sin, which is a track im quite familiar with because it was featured on our second compilation. The keys for this song are haunting, and create a fantastic atmosphere. Skipping around a few tracks, Sentence Darkness is also a fantastic track, with a fantastic introduction, being somewhat slower at the beginning, this is also one of my favorite tracks on the CD. The "official" close of the CD, Symphony of War, is also a fantastic orchestral piece, and shows a lot potential, and assures that this band knows what they are doing.

Now as far as flaws go on this CD, I do not believe everyone will agree with me, but two of the biggest things I could point out are the vocals (clean ones too) and the guitar tone. The vocals have their moments where they sound really good, but to me, they got a little bit repediative, after a while, it starts to sound something like the vocals where done with a lot of liquid in the vocalists throat. If that makes any sense, they just sound watery. As far as the clean vocals go, all I can say is I am glad they appear very few times on the CD, and I hope they do not use any on their next release, unless they find a new (clean) vocalist. The guitars on the CD have a lot of potential in themselves, but I feel that the tone of the guitar takes away from the skill a lot.

All in all, this is an overall good release, and I think it will appeal to those who have been looking for more symphonic black metal in the Christian scene. I will be keeping a close eye on Nephesh in the future, and advise all of you to do so as well. Oh, and one thing I must comment on is the packaging, it looks fantastic! This is no underground packaging, this is professional, which makes it all the more reason to purchase!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Hill to Die Upon - Infinite Titanic Immortal review (9/22/09)

Infinite Titanic Immortal was an album that I anticipated since I first heard the song "Prometheus Rebound" on A Hill to Die Upons myspace page. Now let me tell you, when I first heard this song, I was shocked, the band previously played sort of deathcore-ish style, and a few different styles before that, but what was now coming through my speakers was top-notch black metal(even though there are some minimal core influences on the CD, they shouldnt bother most people) blew my mind. This CD honestly did not disappoint me at all, it met all my expectations, and has earned a slot up there with legends such as Antestor and Crimson Moonlight.

The CD starts out with an instrumental track called Of Fire and Division, which kind of sets up for the next track Prometheus Rebound. Prometheus Rebound seems to be a favorite amongst many listeners, which is entirely understood, the musicianship in this song is phenomenal, and the opening vocals to the song have so much testosterone to them, it makes most other metal vocalists look like pansies.

After Prometheus Rebound we go into two more tracks, The King Never Smiles, and Season of the Starved Wolf, both of which are re-recorded from a demo that was released in the summer of 2008. On my first few listens to these songs, I sort of liked the original versions better, but after listening through and through again, I have come to finally love the new ones a lot better. They are a lot cleaner, and much better produced. These are two songs that I often find myself singing to on this CD, despite who im around and whats going on around me.

The overall musicianship on this CD is fantastic. The guitar tone is quite possibly one of my favorites that I have heard in a while, and the skill is clearly featured on most of the songs. The drums are fast, well executed, and have a fantastic sound to them as well. And as commented earlier the vocals are absolutely ridiculous, and some of my favorite that I have heard in a while. One thing to take note of, for fans of Antestor and Frosthardr, is that AHTDU now features Ravn on bass, who also played in both of those bands as well (although he did not play bass in Frosthardr).

To close this off, this is a must have for all fans of black metal. Everytime I listen to it, I find myself thinking of newer Immortal, even though that is not entirely accurate, I think there are people who may think the same. This has hands down gained best album of the year for me (out of the ones I have heard so far), and I will be keeping a close eye on the band, and hope they continue to put out quality tunes.

Favorite songs: The King Never Smiles, Season of the Starved Wolf, Heka Secundus (On Slithering ice), We Soulless Men, Eclipse of Serpents.

O, Majestic Winter Interview (8/11/09)

If you could start us out with introducing yourselves and telling us a little bit about O, Majestic Winter.

OMW: We are Gorlim and Mormegil. We started in October of 2008. We write, record, and mix all of our music ourselves. We're a 100% Christian band and we just want to show our love for God. Oh, and we love winter.

Now, there has been a lot of positive and negative feedback towards OMW. Right now it seems as if you are one of the most controversial bands amongst black metal. What comments do you have to say to this?

OMW: We knew starting out that we were going to turn some heads with what we were doing. Our vision has always been to write unique music that shows all sides of our creativity. We've tried to use the negative feedback as energy to press on and continue to progress in what we're doing. We accept the positive feedback and strive to continue to please fans.

What is the basic goal of OMW?

OMW: First and foremost, to praise God. We are here to praise Him and spread His word to as many people as possible. Second, to create the music that we have always wanted to hear. Our music comes from the heart and we play what we feel.

You guys put your first CD out in quite a short period of time, are you satisfied with how it came out? Are there things you wish you could go back and change about it?

OMW: Honestly, yes we are satisfied with how it came out. However, we would change some things if we could. Some of the mixing could have been done a bit better and we could have been more precise musically. Overall, though, we were definitely happy with it.

What are some of your personal influences when writing the music?

Mormegil: For me personally, God is the biggest influence. Without his wisdom and power I would be nothing. And I will honor him in what I do. There are several bands that inspire me as well. Such as Antestor, Dragonland, Crimson Moonlight and a few composers here and there's....Lord of the Rings! haha

Gorlim: I really draw inspiration from all over. Black metal such as Evroklidon, Hortor, and Coram Deo. And other things ranging from Virgin Black to Impending Doom to Extol.

Where the both of you raised in Christian homes? If not please feel free to share testimonies.

Gorlim: My mother went to church and got me into going but my father didn't go. I didn't really come to really know who Christ was until around my junior year of high school. I have been steadily discovering Him ever since...

Mormegil: My mom was really the centerpiece in my Christian teachings as a kid. She taught me the gentle things in life and how to have faith and love one another. Only a few of my siblings are it's kinda tough at times.

What are some future plans you have for OMW?

OMW: We have an EP coming out on Sullen Records in a few months (hopefully) called "An Autumn Moon". It is more of an ambient cd and is quite different from our debut album. We also have some material written for our next full-length. The material for the next full-length is a bit more folk-inspired and story-driven.

Now, OMW style incorporates all kinds of different genres, noise, black metal, and even core. What inspired you to do this? Adding in the core influence seems to have caused the most controversy, do you think overall your useage of it was done well?

OMW: We were inspired to do this by just wanting to make unique music. We had a vision for something that hadn't really been seen before and we ran with it. We absolutely think that we have used these elements well. We used core elements sparingly and we feel that they were well-placed.

What do you think of the current Christian black metal, or unblack metal scene?

OMW: We love the unblack scene! We have made some great friends and we are huge fans of most of the other unblack bands out there. We hope and pray that the scene will continue to grow and spread.

How often do you guys receive hate mail?

OMW: Rarely. We expected to receive more but luckily we have gotten very little.

What are some of your favorite bands? Christian and secular

Mormegil: As far as the Christian scene goes. I enjoy bands such as Antestor, Nephesh, Dysfunctional Rotout, Vanguard, and For Today. I also enjoy some secular music by Dragonland, Rhapsody of Fire, Dark Tranquillity, Within Temptation, My Chemical Romance and David Arkenstone.

Gorlim: Christian- Virgin Black, Evroklidon, Dysfunctional Rotout, mewithoutYou, As Cities Burn, Long Suffering, Thrice, For Today, and Sleeping Giant... Secular- Manchester Orchestra, My Chemical Romance, Soilwork, Within Temptation, James Morrison, and Kanye West...

Favorite CDs?

Mormegil: Immortal Souls- Wintereich, Dragonland - Astronomy, and Vanguard - Erek and Ivor.

Gorlim: Virgin Black - Elegant... And Dying, My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, and Evroklidon - Flame of Sodom...

What are your favorite Bible verses?

Gorlim: I've always loved Psalm 91.

Mormegil: Proverbs 16:2, Psalm 18:37

As Christians, do you feel it is necessary to spend time in the Bible daily?

Gorlim: I feel that it is fantastic if one can spend time daily in the Bible. I'm quite guilty of not doing this, however...

Mormegil: Absolutely. God's word is the only element that can sharpen your sword of truth. We all need to read more than we do...

What are some challenges you have had to face being Christians?

Mormegil: Everyday is a challenge for me as a Christian. Temptations and struggles are around every corner. We have to learn to flee from evil and choose to be obedient to the holy spirit. Just remember that the world hated Christ first, so I don't really expect to be treated any differently.

Gorlim: Honestly, just living the life of Christ is the most difficult part. He showed a love that is so difficult to live. All I want to do is live the life that He did...

You are currently on Sullen Records, which is also family to many other upcoming Christian black metal artists. What are some of your personal favorites that you share the label with?

Gorlim: My personal favorites are Erasmus, Hortor, Coram Deo, and Frost Like Ashes.

Mormegil: I enjoy Coram Deo, Hortor, Gondolin, and Poems of Shadows

Outside of OMW and other projects, what do you guys do to occupy your time?

Gorlim: Well, music is the main thing in my life. I try to create as much as I can. Other than that, I basically work and just hang out... I also write and read alot...

Mormegil: Hmm, other than writing music, I am an avid gamer (Lord of the Rings online). I love reading and writing poetry...and hanging out with my wife and Gorlim.. :)

Any last words of encouragement or prayer requests to share with the readers?

OMW: We would like to ask for your prayer for our upcoming EP. We want it to truly reach people. Thank you so much for blessing us with your encouragement. May God be with you!

Exiting the Fall - Beyond the Experience review (8/11/09)


First off, there is so much to say about these talented young musicians. I have grown up going to camp with a handful of them, and am good friends with all of the guys in the band. This however, has not swayed my opinion on their music at all. That being said, this is honestly some of the best in the indie/hardcore genre I have heard...not even kidding.

For those of you that aren't interested in stuff that contains "emo" influence in the music, then just stop reading now. If you don't care, then please, read on, the music is entirely worth it. Vocally, there is a mix of clean "emo" vocals, and some great screams as well. The passion behind the vocals is one thing that grabs me. The lyrics are very spiritual, and written straight from the heart. The focus is all about our generation, and uniting together to see the things we can do through the power of God.

The guitar work on this CD should appeal to many, especially if this genre is your normal forte. Compared to most in the scene, its really well thought out, and executed. There are some good solos in the music. In the opening of "The Echo of Love" there is a nice bluesy introduction. I feel that this shows they can write more then just indie/hardcore music. As far as the bass goes, I think the best part is you don't have to try and JUST focus on it to hear it, it actually sticks out, and there are some nice bass lines. The drums on the EP are quite good too, nothing over the top, but the drums have a very good sound to them, and Jon manages to pull off a very steady double bass pedal. The coolest part being, he threw in a blast beat in "The Echo of Love" just for me!

Generally I am not one who enjoys breakdowns (except for at live shows...), but I honestly enjoy every single one on this EP, they all fit so well. One thing I MUST point out, is that the members age ranges from 15-18. The coolest part about this band is, they are in it for the ministry and nothing else. I was standing next to the singer at the altar years ago when God called him to have a ministry band. Now he is living it . They have a big path set before them. I really do see them going big places.

Please take some time to check out the music, you can stream all three of the tracks on the EP off of their myspace. You can also pickup the EP for 5 bucks, there are also some package deals on their webstore page. It really is worth it.

Exiting the Fall is:

John - Vocals
Kevin - Lead Guitar
Filipe - Bass
Matt - Guitar/Vocals
Jon - Drums

Reviewed by Alex

Cosÿns - EP review (8/8/09)


Cosÿns is quite an interesting project, I must say. For any of you who are familiar with Derek Cosÿns other work, he has been a part of various projects, the two most notable being Aletheian and Bloodline Severed. The one thing that makes this project stand out from all the others of his, as well as most other projects in general is the concept behind it. Here is what the myspace says:

"In this project, I had a funny idea of a way to put lyrics into instrumental music.

Someone asked me, "How on earth can you put words with music that has no singing?"

The answer is simple: MORSE CODE

For those of you unfamiliar with Morse code, it is a rhythmic series of dashes and dots that translate into letters and numbers, forming words, sentences, etc. (SOS=..._ _ _ ...). The result of some of the morse code translated into music form played a certain style can be reminiscent of bands like Meshuggah or Rush's "YYZ.""

Sounds interesting, yes? I must say, the work on this EP is absolutely fantastic. Although the drums are programmed, the guitar work is phenomenal. If you are a fan of any large secular guitarists, then this has something great in store for you. Each song delivers something new, containing very well thought out riffs, beautiful solos, and some fantastic bass lines.

Honestly, I do not think I can fully stress to you how well the guitar work on this EP is. Most of the time, instrumental music can get a little bit repetitive, in my honest opinion, but this does no such thing. I urge all guitarists to go buy this, and learn from it! As said earlier as well, my only complaint is the drums, because they are programmed, they can be a little bit annoying I guess, although he does do them well.

Also! Be sure to check out Derek's other project Whisper From Heaven, a fantastic doom-ish metal project with female vocals done by his wife! My personal favorite out of all his projects.

Reviewed by Alex

Ecthirion - Apocalyptic Visions review (6/15/09)


Ecthirion has gained vast recognition in the past year. Getting picked up by Soundmass, and having some familiar session members on the first EP have helped this to happen. The music on "Apocalyptic Visions" is some of the most epic we have heard in the Christian scene. Incorporating amazing orchestrations, fantastic guitars, great clean and metal vocals.

The two familiar session members on this EP are Azahel of Frost Like Ashes, and Eugene from Far Beyond. The only flaw, that is easy to point out on this disc, is the length, at the end, the listener is left wanting more right away. As said earlier, there are some fantastic, well thought out orchestrations, awesome flute pieces, great guitar solos. All of these highlight the album completely. This is something for fans of Dimmu Borgir, Hollenthon, and other fantastic orchestrated metal bands. Every song on this release, is just another epic adventure in the listeners head, none of them are lacking.

I strongly suggest anyone who loves scores for films like Lord of the Rings, classical music, epic metal, and fans of bands listed above, to purchase this right away. You will not be let down. Ecthirion is for sure going to be a band I keep an eye out for in the future, and will be anxiously awaiting new material.

Reviewed by Alex

Hope for the Dying Interview (6/1/09)

First off if you could introduce yourselves and tell us about Hope for the Dying.

Well I'm James, and I play guitar (I've been playing since '99). Josh handles most of the vocals and keyboards, Jack splits the guitar duties with me, Jake holds down the bass and Brice pounds the skins.

We got together as Hope for the Dying in November of 2006, released our first 3 song EP independently in the spring of '07. The following spring, we released a 7 song EP (EP by track list, full length by duration) with some help from some friends of ours. That summer we met the people from Facedown at Cornerstone Festival and started our official relationship in October of '08. They remastered and re-released our album as a limited edition release with new artwork on November 25, 2008 (there are still a few available so buy up while you can!!). Now we're just trying to play shows and tour as much as we can to support the album and get our name out there and share our message with the world.

When you started this band, did you ever expect to be going on tours, and be picked up by a decently sized label?

When we first got together, most of us had been in serious bands before and knew that our goal was going to be to take our music as far as God would take it and just see where that led us. At the time we weren't sure where exactly that was going to lead, but we're all pretty satisfied with how far we've come so far and we're really excited to see what God has in store for us as our relationship with the Strike First family grows and our musical identity matures and improves.

How well has the music been received by most of the scene so far? How was the feedback on your debut record?

I like to think we've had a pretty good reception in most of the venues we've played. The Arise & Conquer Tour was really good for us because all the bands were amazing and really willing to help us out and encourage us and offer advice and support, and I think our styles of music really blended together well and brought out some cool people that probably had never heard of us. I like to think we met a lot of new fans and friends and brothers/sisters in Christ through the A&C Tour.

As for the feedback on the album, I think the response has been overwhelmingly good and much better than we ever would have anticipated. I know we've been notified by Shannon at Facedown of several reviews and the majority have been really flattering. We've been really blessed and we're humbled and thankful to everybody who has critiqued the album!

Out of all the songs on the record, which are your personal favorites? Do any have special meanings to any of you?

My personal favorite song is "Into Darkness We Ride" and it was my favorite from the very first time we played it through at practice. Even before we had any lyrics or even vocal melodies or rhythms it was my favorite song we had written. Then Josh came in with the vocals a week or two later and that was it. I don't know what it is, but that song just felt really good to me. I always love playing it because it's fun and has a lot of cool stuff I think. And the great thing is it really has a cool message of perseverance and pressing on through the struggles of life.

How long have all of you been into metal? What were some of the gateway bands for you?

I can't really speak for the rest of the guys too much, but I know my progression into metal came on as I started playing guitar. I think the first screaming bands I heard were Tourniquet, Zao, East West and bands like that (there was a semi-local radio station that used to have heavy Christian music on Friday nights and I would tune in every week), but the song/band that really got me into metal was called "Easter Bunny" by Disciple (way back when they were still on Rugged Records...well before SRE even existed). That song inspired me enough to go buy their album and, even though I didn't get the album with Easter Bunny on it, I played the "This Might Sting A Little" CD until it wouldn't play anymore. I learned how to play every song on the album and learned every word. I still love that CD today. And there's a great hidden track at the end too!

Where all of you raised in Christian homes? If not, please share your testimony.

I was. I've been in church pretty much every Sunday since I was born. I know a couple of the other guys had different experiences but, like I said before, I don't really want to speak for them!

So far, what have been some of the best, and worst experiences that you have had while touring?

Actually a couple of the worst experiences we had sort of ended up turning into a couple of the best experiences we had. The first was at a show in Houston when Josh landed funny coming off of a light box and twisted his ankle up pretty bad. The second was being stuck in Abilene, TX, replacing the water pump in our van for like 8 ridiculous hours (any body who has even toured in a van knows ALL VANS SUCK TO WORK ON!!!).

Even though both of these events totally sucked when they happened, God used them anyway. I'll start with the water pump experience. Josh was outside working on the thing before the show and TJ from War of Ages decided to lend a hand. When Josh had to come in to do our set, TJ stayed out there and kept working, effectively saving us at least an hour of work. Later he went in and WOA did their set, and when they were done he came right back over and started helping us again. Josh has a pretty decent knack for mechanical stuff, but he's about the only one in HFTD so having another person that had somewhat of an idea what he was doing was a HUGE blessing. What's more is TJ stayed with us until the job was done (which was pretty late into the night) and came with us down to the next show. We haven't exactly been on a ton of tours, but I'd venture to say that it's not every day that the bassist for the headlining band would be willing to spend all night under the van of the lowly opening band, but we found out that War of Ages is just that kind of people and we are very grateful that we had the opportunity to tour with them and hope that someday we'll get to do it again!

Now on to Josh's bum ankle. Turns out he had hurt it pretty bad and we were only like 3 days away from the biggest show of our lives (Facedown Fest on April 3 & 4). He limped through the next couple shows, mainly just hanging out at his keyboard and trying to keep the weight off his ankle as much as possible because he was hurting pretty bad. So we get to Facedown Fest Day 1 and we're all just hanging out, watching bands, meeting all of the awesome people from the Facedown Family and Josh gets to talking with Mike from For Today about his ankle and, long story short, Mike prays for Josh's ankle and tells Josh to stand up and, on the count of three, stomp his foot (the bad foot that is) as hard as he can. So he counts and Josh stomps and there's no pain. He said the ankle was still just a little tender, but he no longer needed the crutches and was able to perform like he'd never been hurt for our set on Day 2 of the fest.

God's blessings really flowed for us on this tour. There were ups and downs, but God taught us a lot about ourselves and about his grace and mercy and love and I think we came back stronger because of it.

Have you made any close friends while touring or playing festivals?

Oh yeah, tons of people! Last year at Cornerstone, we met several people that we're still in touch with today and I can't even count the amount of awesome we met while out on the road. We're really looking forward to seeing a lot of them at Cornerstone again this year!

What can we see in the future of Hope for the Dying?

More Jesus, more metal, more touring, and more music! We're working on some bookings and new music right now. So far we don't have any solid recording time arranged, but we're planning to be ready to record with new songs ready to go by the end of the year. We're really excited to see where things go from here and we can't wait to get back out on the road again.

Being a Christian band, do you find it hard to interact with non-Christian bands? Are there times when some may treat you differently? How is the crowd response to your faith?

Honestly some of the coolest bands that we've met out on the concert circuit have been non-Christian bands. I think sometimes people/bands might come in with a pre-conceived negative perception of Christianity, but we just try to show that 1) Christians can make freakin' sweet music and 2) that Christianity isn't about unleashing judgment on everybody and getting caught up in some "holier than thou" attitude, but it's about love and hope, and sharing the love and hope that Christ showed us to the world. Usually once people realize that we're not there to slap them up-side the head with a bible and shove Jesus down their throats, they will open up and everything will be cool. I think (and hope and pray) that through us, God has planted seeds that will grow into a desire to know more about the hope and love that the Christian faith is supposed to be based on, and that God has and will continue to use us as a tool to build up His kingdom.

What are some of your personal favorite artists? Christian and secular.

Oh wow....this list could probably go on for days, but some of the staples in our travel playlists are Pantera, War of Ages, Plea, For Today (pretty much all the Facedown bands....and no, we're not just saying that!!), Soilwork, Iron Maiden, As I Lay Dying, Killswitch, All That Remains, old school Metallica, Nevermore, an endless barrage of hair metal and power metal when Jack and I are in control of the CD player, Matisyahu, a little old school gangsta rap, and Brice tops it off with some Conway Twitty and Randy Travis (Randy Travis is mainly just because he does a dead on RT impersonation and it's funny, but Ole Twitty is seriously like his favorite artist of all time.)

When playing shows, do you usually see more fans then you would normally expect to show up? Or less? How is the crowd response?

It really depends. We've been to shows where we expected a ton of people and not that many made it out and we've been to a few shows where we didn't expect anybody at all to come that turned out to be some of the best shows we've ever played. You just never know what to expect when it comes to attendance! You just gotta go out there and do it for the Lord and trust that he will bring the people that need to hear what you have to say.

Is there any planned major changes in Hope for the Dying's musical styles for future material?

I wouldn't say there are any major changes in store for our style. I think people have come to associate the name "Hope for the Dying" with heavy, lead guitar driven, technical metal with some old school flare, and I think it's safe to say we'll probably stick to that and just work on honing our skills and keep writing music we love and enjoy playing.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

1 Corinthians 10:12-13. It's a verse that kind of has two purposes for me. On one hand, it's a reminder that God is always in control and will not leave me to fend for myself during the tough times and let me fall into temptation beyond what I can handle. On the other hand, it's a reminder that nothing is beyond my capacity to resist and, therefore, there is no excuse for falling short so it's a challenge to live my life like Christ the best I can, and no matter what, always rely on God for my strength.

As a Christian do you feel it is necessary to spend time reading the Bible daily?

Do I think it's important? Most definitely. Do I do it? Not nearly as much as I should. Do I wish I had the discipline to read the Bible everyday? Definitely, and I think that the more we mature as Christians, the more we are able to discipline ourselves in practices like this. God gave us His Word so we could know Him and learn about Him. If God took the time to commission His people to write these words down, then took the care to preserve these writings over the course of history and see it translated and printed in more languages and places than any other book in history, then it's safe to say that it must be pretty important for us to read.

Did any of you experience rejection from your Church/people in your church for your taste in music and the way you dressed? What advice would you have for people going through this?

I personally haven't experienced any personal prejudices from my own church, but I know that it has been brought up to us as a band in a few places several times by people that don't understand how music that sounds so angry can be possibly be a "joyful noise unto the Lord." The way we try to explain our ministry is by saying that a noise isn't joyful because of the kind of sound being made, but the joy comes from the heart of the person making the noise. Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 9:20 and on through the end of the chapter talks about becoming all things to all men in order to get the message of Christ to all people. Some people will NEVER be reached by "church" music or typical churchy methods, but they might go to a heavy metal show in a club somewhere. So if there are lost people at these heavy metal shows, we need to be there showing the love of Jesus. We have to go where God sends us. For us, God has sent us to the metal scene.

What are some of your favorite albums?

Pretty much anything Pantera, I've been jamming "Great Southern Cowboys Vulgar Hits" lately..."Stabbing the Drama" by Soilwork, "The Skull Collectors" by Hibria, "Arise & Conquer" by War of Ages, "An Ocean Between Us" by As I Lay Dying, "The Oncoming Storm" by Unearth, "The Fall of Ideals" by All That Remains, "Depravity" by A Plea For Purging, "The Struggle" by Common Yet Forbidden, really looking forward to "Portraits" by For Today and the Hands album, the list goes on and on!

What have been some struggles you have encountered while touring and playing shows?

The hardest thing about being on the road is learning to deal with being surrounded by the same small group of people day and night, week after week and not killing each other! Sometimes it's easier than others, but in the end, we're all part of the body of Christ and we're out there trying to spread God's love, and we're stronger together than we would be on our own.

Is there any advice that you would like to give to smaller upcoming Christian bands?

Stay true to your calling. Keep God at the top of your priority list and He will minister through you more than you can imagine and take you places you never thought possible!

Any last words or prayer requests for the readers?

Just to remember our soldiers over seas, out fighting every day for freedom. Whether you support the war or not, regardless of how you feel about the current president or the last president or even the future president (whomever that may be), our military is still out there fighting and they still deserve our respect and our prayers and our support.

Hope for the Dying review (5/30/09)


Hope for the Dying can easily be described as a "breath of fresh air" in my opinion in this upcoming onslaught of metal. Combining awesome solos, well executed vocals, and catchy choruses, this band is sure to grab your attention. Not only is it great music these guys deliver, but genuine attitudes.

Their debut CD was self-relesed in 2008, quickly gaining positive feedback, and then getting picked up by Strike First records, who would later re-release their debut. The debut CD is a, quite astonishing, first effort. The guitars have some beautiful solos, things a lot of bigger bands in the scene seem to be lacking lately. The vocals are not the best that I have heard, they are more of a scream then a grunt too. One of the things I like the most, is the catchy choruses, a perfect example of this would be on "Into the Darkness We Ride". All of the songs are great though, and not easy to get sick of.

I advise you to keep an eye out for these guys, and I have some high hopes for them in the future. From what I have heard they put on a fantastic live show, and have true genuine attitudes. Go head out and pick up their debut "Hope for the Dying"

Alex gets interviewed with Underground Violence (5/21/09)

You can subscribe to the e-zine by sending an email to and saying you would like to be subscribed. There are usually a handful of Christian releases reviewed, and our own Elan, also writes for the magazine!

Our picture was used as the official cover for this months issue, as well as an interview and a CD review which will be posted below.

Interview with Alex Slimm of the Christian Metal Fellowship
By Walter Beck

Underground Violence: I'm here with Alex Slimm of the Christian Metal Fellowship, how are ya,
Alex: I am doing quite well, currently trying to organize all my thoughts and ideas for what is
going to happen this summer with Christian Metal Fellowship.
Underground Violence: Excellent, what exactly is the Christian Metal Fellowship?
Alex: Well, CMF was something that was started back a few years ago by Vandor. It started out
mainly as just a MySpace page, to collect the biggest list of Christian bands that made hard
music, and put links to their pages and have accurate genres with the bands so people could find
exactly what was in their niche. After some time, the page kind of died down, being dormant for
quite some time. After probably like six months or so, he decided that he wanted to do something
with it again. I began talking to him about it, and jumped on the band wagon to help out running
the MySpace page and keeping things up to date. Shortly after I started reviewing some CDs,
then emailed some bands about interviews, then from there on out it just kind of took off, getting
more and more interviews. During last summer we put together a compilation trying to help
expose some of the more unknown acts in the metal scene. We even got asked to attend a music
festival over the summer which I gave a short message at. Last month, Vandor decided to resign
his position, and gave me full ownership over the site. After thinking about it for a little while, I
decided I may need some help running the page to get certain things done, so I looked to some of
my good friends (Nicki, Phil, and Élan) and had them all come together and basically started a
"team". So to summarize CMF in short words, it‟s really just kind of an online ministry, trying to
help promote bands, and expose them to people in the Christian scene, and people outside of the
Christian scene, while showing love to everyone who comes our way, even if they are sending us
Underground Violence: So why Christian metal?
Alex: Well, hah, why not?
Underground Violence: Good answer, Haha.
Alex: Haha you can leave that in there, but I‟ll give an actual answer; well, I grew up in a
Christian home, attending an Assemblies of God church. When I was about, 11 or 12 years old, I
stumbled upon Christian hardcore music, and right off the bat, I just took a passion for it. It just
blew my mind at the time, that people could do that for God. Shortly down the road, I got
exposed to more actual metal acts, and then it just kind of took off from there. Looking at a lot of
the acts we have in the Christian metal scene, and just seeing their heart and passion for what
they do, I just have such a passion to make it noticed. Their work should not go in vain. A lot of
the times, people will overlook bands in the Christian scene, because of our beliefs. But does it
really make us any worse? We are still people, and can make music just as well as any other
Underground Violence: This is true; I've heard many great bands come out of the Christian
metal underground. One thing I find interesting and it may just be my experiences, but there
seem to be a wealth of bands in the Christian metal underground that play black metal and I find
this sort of strange, given black metal reputation in the underground as the most extreme form of
Alex: This is very true. The black metal scene is one I have become very familiar with. Although
we are often times questioned for this, as well as criticized and attacked, it seems somewhat
childish for people to tell us what we can and cannot do. What many fail to realize is its music
despite the lyrics, I understand what black metal was formed on, and I understand what its
original creators intended for it, but things evolve, they do not stay the same. I mean, if that was
the case, then music itself should not be focused on any other thing than praising God, because
music began as a way of expression of praise to God. Obviously things have changed, and it is
not limited to that. I think people just need to realize that things do not stay the same as the way
they began.
Underground Violence: I agree. Besides black metal, what are other prominent subgenres you've
seen in the Christian metal underground?
Alex: Lately there have been a lot of different genres coming up, the grind scene has been taking
quite a rise lately, and I know there are a lot of deathcore bands that are coming up with a strong
passion for God. Here and there, we can find a handful of good death metal bands coming out of
the wood work. I think the only thing we are really waiting on is more folk metal bands.
Underground Violence: Personally, I'd like to hear some good Christian doom metal bands come
out of the new underground; I'm a big doom fan.
Alex: Actually, there have been a few, three great ones I would suggest are, Dalit, Sáwol, and
Entorn. I myself have taken quite a fancy for doom over the past year. Some of my favorite ones
are Doom:VS, Swallow the Sun and Ahab. There have been a few outstanding ones make
Underground Violence: And you can't forget the pioneers of Christian doom, Trouble.
Alex: This is very true as well, and of course there is Paramecium and Ashen Mortality.
Underground Violence: So, with others I've interviewed in the Christian metal scene, they
always mention hate mail, phone calls or some other form of menacing action against them. Do
you have experiences with this?
Alex: I have received my fair share of hate mail, whether it is on some of the band fan pages I
run, one of my projects, or even the CMF page. We received a bunch of hate mail the other
week. Most of the time they are just ignorant comments made, and things they cannot actually
back up. Things that is quite easy to respond to.
Underground Violence: Well that's good. Now you mentioned that the CMF has received some
great support in the Christian metal scene, what about the secular scene, any press or
recognition from that end?
Alex: Well thus far, aside from you welcoming us with open arms, I guess as "CMF" we have
not had a whole lot of exposure to the "secular scene" yet, but I‟m hoping to change that this
Underground Violence: Well you're welcome, Underground Violence is open to the entire metal
community, Christian, pagan or otherwise.
Alex: Which is great to know; I think all organizations, zines, or whatever they want to be called
should have the same attitude.
Underground Violence: Agreed. Now I have a strange question, have you received any negative
feedback from Christians? Some churches will tell you that metal is the "devil's music".
Alex: Aha, well, actually, there are always those hypocritical, prematurely judging Christians
that you will get. Ones that do consider it the devil‟s music, and to be quite honest, most of the
time they are harder to communicate with, or come to an understanding with people who are
opposed to Christians in general. Which to be quite honest is terrible. We are supposed to show
the love of God to everyone. I mean, yeah, like I said earlier, things with heavy music may have
started out bad, and I can understand why old folks would think that, but they need to place the
ignorance aside and see we can‟t witness to everyone with a suit and tie while singing old school
hymns. It just doesn't always work.
Underground Violence: Well hopefully soon, you'll be able to bridge this gap. Now, outside of
running the CMF, what other involvements do you have with the Christian metal scene?
Alex: I am also in two projects, Gondolin and Maugrim, I guess they are more ambient based,
but both have influence of black metal in them. I am technically the "manager" for the black
metal project Vociferor; other than that, just some small here and there things, doing what I can
to help further the scene.
Underground Violence: Hey every little bit helps. Do either of your projects have releases in the
Alex: Both actually do, Maugrim has the debut, Paths of the Damned coming out on EEE
Records sometime next month, and then a split with the project Equilibrium Ablaze sometime
later this year. And Gondolin has a scheduled release with Sullen Records some point at the end
of the summer.
Underground Violence: Excellent. Are you planning any gigs with these projects or are they
strictly studio endeavors?
Alex: Both are studio endeavors, although in the future, I feel called specifically to have a
touring band in the black metal scene.
Underground Violence: Anything fleshing out with that or is it just an idea for now?
Alex: Mainly just some ideas floating around in my head, and some between some friends of
mine and me.
Underground Violence: Well with any of your projects, you're more than welcome to send copies
of your releases to us for review.
Alex: It‟s good to know that we always have support from at least one part of the secular scene.
Underground Violence: It all starts with one, man.
Alex: Then next thing I know Metal Hammer is asking for stuff too!
Underground Violence: Ha! So what are your plans for CMF this year? Are you planning
another compilation release? Your first compilation was outstanding in my book.
Alex: That we are. And thank you for that, it is great to hear that, and am sure it is inspiring to all
the bands that participated as well. I am currently contacting bands, trying to get a nice solid
lineup of songs that flows well. I am also trying to get in contact with some labels and get
assistance in releasing it, maybe have some professional packaging done for this one, hoping to
have some killer artwork as well.
Underground Violence: Excellent, any other plans this year?
Alex: There are possibly some other things that we have planned with some friends of ours, but
nothing I want to reveal, just because they are more so premature ideas. I mean, maybe some
more shirts or something down the line, but I don‟t know if that‟s considered plans.
Underground Violence: With the fourteen bands that appeared on your first compilation and
your wide support in the Christian metal underground, would you consider organizing a festival,
the Wacken Open Air of Christian metal underground?
Alex: That would honestly be more than a dream come true. It‟s something I would LOVE to put
together, and do, but it would be something far down the road, and something I would need a lot
of support doing.
Underground Violence: Well it was just an idea that popped into my head.
Alex: And a fantastic one at that!
Underground Violence: Do you see a lot of bands in the Christian scene playing gigs and
touring or are the bands you interact with primarily studio projects?
Alex: Well there is a handful that plays gigs, but usually that‟s more of the deathcore, metalcore
stuff, which can be fun to attend, but stuff more in my niche usually does not tour, at least not in
my neck of the woods. In order to see any of those bands I would have to attend Nordic Fest,
End Time festival, or some other one over in Europe. A lot of the black metal ones lately seem to
be studio projects though.
Underground Violence: The only Christian metal show I ever went to was Day of Ascension,
which was a fun and wild trip.
Alex: Yeah, I heard you drove seven and a half hours for that!
Underground Violence: No lie; got lost close to a dozen times and almost wrecked the car and I
almost ran out of smokes to boot. Many sacrifices and hard times to get to that show, hahaha!
Alex: I have seen my fair share of Christian shows. I attend secular shows as well; having
attended both pagan fests as well, which were the most fun shows I have ever been to. Quite
honestly, I love Élan, but I wouldn‟t drive seven hours to see the show.
Underground Violence: Well the reason we went is that Pat knew Élan and the guitarist
Yevgeniy, Pat said "let's go" and the rest of us said "why not?"
Alex: Haha, many adventures I have embarked on started with those same words.
Underground Violence: Well, Alex, I think we're gonna wrap it up here, any final words for the
readers out there?
Alex: Thank you for taking the time to read all I have had to say. I hope some of you have
become a little more educated in exactly what it is that we do with CMF. For those of you that
are opposed to Christians being in metal, I hope maybe this changed your mindset a little. Feel
free to message the CMF page anytime with questions, or something going on in your life, we
will answer questions to the best of our ability, and will keep you in our prayers!
Underground Violence: Thanks Alex!
Alex: Take care, brother.

Various Artists Christian Metal Fellowship: Compilation Volume 1 (Independent)
Review by Walter Beck

Put together by the Christian Metal Fellowship, this compilation rings out strong and hard like a
Christian metal counterpart to Metal Blade‟s legendary Metal Massacre series. Even though this
is a Christian compilation, make no mistake about it, this is some of the heaviest music floating
around in that scene. Don‟t expect sweet acoustic guitars singing out plastic love songs to Jesus,
these bands are crushing the Lord‟s adversaries like sonic angels of death.

The record opens with the track “March of Malus” by Vanguard and it sounds like the march of a
vengeful holy army ready to wage war. The epic sounds are deeply rooted in black metal, but
also have a strong power metal feel. The warrior sounds of this track make it the perfect opener
for this compilation.

Fans of progressive and melodic black metal will find their allies with the next track, “Your
Beauty Embraced” by Grave Declaration. The eight-minute track is filled with raspy vocals,
powerhouse drums and bass and excellent keyboard work. The keyboards are dominant in the
track and add a magnificent and beautiful touch to counterbalance the harsh vocals and heavily
distorted guitars.

Those who prefer a raw black metal sound will love “Dawn of the Ice Hearts” (I wonder if that‟s
a pun on the legendary Mayhem bootleg Dawn of the Black Hearts?) by Wintersoul. These guys
have a sound that‟s soaked in the early Norwegian scene, bands like Mayhem, Darkthrone and
early Burzum. The difference is that production is top notch, compared to the dirty basement-
tape sounds of other raw black metal bands. The guitarist shows his skills quite well here,
shredding as fast as any death metal player out there.

Black metal is presented again with “The Scourge of Existence” by Eulogium. Opening with an
acoustic guitar melody before launching in a wall of brutal sound, these guys have quite a unique
feel to them. The blending of the acoustic with the heavier sounds that kick in creates a dissonant
atmosphere that any black metaller will appreciate.

The death metal fans will finally be pleased with the next track, “He Was Beheaded” by
Encryptor. Encryptor (one of the projects of the relentless Phil Diez) comes out just as brutal as
they‟ve ever sounded. The marks are all here; the down-tuned distortion soaked guitars, the
lightning drums and Phil‟s hydrochloric acid-drenched vocals.

Combining keyboards with groove metal sounds and a mix between harsh and clean vocals,
“Hunted by Flesh” by Veracious will give fans of a more contemporary metal sound something
to enjoy on this record. The keyboards are definitely a nice touch to this band‟s sound, giving it
an almost gothic feel.

It‟s back in black metal again with “Falling Like Ashes” by Whisper from Heaven and once
again, the melodic black metal fans will love the sound of these guys; the massive keyboards and
the choral female vocals add a very gothic touch to the sound of this band. I also love the drum
sounds of this track; they‟re all over the place and still keeping a strong rhythm. Fans of truly
epic sounding black metal and gothic metal will love this track.

The black metal sounds keep rolling with “The Age of Irrationality” by Northern Ash. Unlike the
slick production presented in the rest of the compilation, Northern Ash goes completely old
school with a production just as raw as their sound. But like with many black metal bands, the
raw production is an asset as it adds to the bleak atmosphere this band carves out. Metalheads
who like their black metal raw, grim and Kvlt will find their allies with Northern Ash.

Raw, grim black metal is up again with “The Power of God” by Nattesorg. Their production is
even dirtier than Northern Ash‟s; a lo-fi exercise in old school black metal. The audio assault of
the track, mixed with a dirty production creates a truly powerful atmosphere; this is the distilled
audio essence of an angry God‟s wrath.

Another round of raw black metal comes up with “Onward” by SorrowStorm. This is another
speed-demon, dirty production exercise in lo-fi black metal (although not as dirty as the sounds
of Nattesorg). Fans of the sound of the early Norwegian scene will find another ally in

Mixing a groove metal sound with hardcore-style vocals (and the occasional clean vocal part),
fans of the modern metal sound will like “Determined to Desire” by Amplified. Granted, this
isn‟t the most brutal sounding band here, but it is a worthy addition to the compilation and fans
of the modern metal sound will find another ally with Amplified.

The grindcore fans have their moment with “Prayer Unto Holiness” by Rehumanize.
Rehumanize is one of the best bands in the Christian grindcore scene and they show it with this
track; using their slick-production to bring out distortion-soaked guitars, insane drums and the
throat ripping vocals of Phil Diez. This track isn‟t as focused on pure speed as some of their
other work, but they still create a brutal atmosphere and fans of grindcore will love it.

Black metal is back again with “The Alpha and The Omega” by Vikarbyrgi. Their style is both
melodic and raw at the same time. The melody is heard in the creative use of keyboards and the
rawness is heard with the vocal and other instruments production. The layering of the vocals,
between a higher-pitch and a more guttural sound also adds a duality to the sound of this track,
rather fitting for the title. This is one of most unusual tracks I‟ve heard on here and it is a treat for
black metal fans.

The strange blend of melody and raw continues with “Prognostications of Victorious Travail” by
Borgazur; opening with a haunting melodic instrumental while the Lord‟s Prayer is recited, the
band launches into a torrent of pure, old school black metal. The band also shows some doom
metal tendencies during the spoken interlude. For metalheads who like their black metal strange,
dissonant and a bit melodic, you‟ll find your ally with Borgazur.

Vanguard closes out this compilation with “Hands of Fate” and we get a final blast of black
metal, this time with a strong gothic feel. The mix of epic, gothic sounds with a strong black
metal undertone makes this track a perfect closer for this compilation.

This compilation is a treat for metalheads, whether Christian or pagan. While black metal fans
will get the most bang for their buck here, there‟s a bit of something for everyone here. If this is
the introduction to a new rising Christian metal scene, take note. From the sounds of this album,
they have a place carved out for them in the massive nation that is the metal underground.

Thanks for reading!

Ecthirion interview (3/29/09)

If you could start us off by introducing yourself (or selves) and telling us your significance in the Christian metal scene.

Gab: Hello I'm the guitarist/bass player and songwriter, Ecthirion are trying to reach people in the secular world though we still value christian fans a lot. We are one of the few bands playing this sort of music in the christian scene.
Simon - Hi, I play guitar and a little bass, and help with some of the programming.

Growing up, were you raised in a Christian home? If not when did you come to salvation, and how?

Gab: I was raised in a Christian home though only really became a Christian at about the age of 15 by going along to youth group and then eventually over time grew stronger and stronger.
Simon- I was also brought up by Christian parents, and embraced faith for myself sometime a few years ago.

What has motivated/influenced you to create Ecthirion and go for the sound that you have created so well?

Gab- Well I always loved epic music, which had some kind of majesty to it, I also like dark things as all my friends always seem to pick up on. I really appreciate nature which inspires a lot of Ecthirion songs.
Simon- I wanted to be involved in a metal project with a difference, where we could try to bring a wide variety of musical influences together.

How long have you been working on Ecthirion?

Gab- Simon and I started trying to do some projects before but they didn't really work, and the demo that I made a year ago sounded horrible! I have been working on the EP for a good year and a half or so, in this time I have managed to make so many contacts that we have moved up a step in the business. Eugen was interested in singing on it as well as mixing only if we promised to re-record the guitar tracks (they sounded so bad), so we did. We met up every week and recorded all of them as well as going over arrangements. Looking back my technique has improved since the EP recordings and I have improved my compositions too.

At what age did you get into metal? What were some of the firsts you got into?

Gab- I am a late comer to music, I only started liking any rock music when I was about 15 or so, by the time I was 17 I was getting into metal and now at 20 I'm into metal and a lot more. The first metal bands I got into are shamefully metalcore bands, but the ones I still like now are Zao and Demon Hunter. The bands which really got me hooked on metal were Whitecross, Nightwish, Power Quest, In Flames, Saxon, Stryper, Tourniquet, Megadeth.
Simon- I got into music at about 12, although at the time only pop and a little rock. Since then I have tried to listen to music from all genres, and although I wouldn't really call myself a metaller the first metal bands I liked were Metallica, Whitesnake and Van Halen.

What do you think of the Christian metal scene today (underground mainly)?

Gab- To be completely honest with you (this may offend most of the people who read it) I don't think there are many Christian bands better than their secular equivalents. If there are any bands who invent genres it's always in the secular scene and then the Christian bands just feed off them. I always seem to take a look at Christian metal forums and see people saying certain Christian bands are so amazing, and that they are the best in their genre, then I think of how many better secular versions of that band there are who make them look stupid. It is a big problem, and I think some of the causes are that people are just listening to certain styles, it is no surprise they will end up making the style they listen to. I also don't understand why bands can get away with bad production, maybe they can't afford it but there are plenty of people who would mix songs well for free, you just have to email loads of people! I also think a lot of Christian bands are scared of listening to secular music, which is fair enough: if it is because they believe it will make them sin then that's a wise decision.

What are some of your favorite metal bands? (Christian and secular)

Gab- Nightwish, Dream Theater, Lost Horizon, Power Quest, Turisas, Drumcorps, Megadeth, Dimmu Borgir, In Flames, Nevermore, Jason Becker, Iron Maiden.
Simon- Dream Theater, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, Iron Maiden, Nightwish, Turisas

For the first Ecthirion release, you have been able to work with two very talented vocalists, how did you come about this, and what made you choose them?

Gab- Well when I was working on the demo last year I used to email somebody different nearly every day, not many replied and most who did had not enough time, however Eugen as I said before surprised me a lot with his generosity, and he really is a big part of how we have improved a lot so quickly. Azahel replied and was up for screaming which was awesome. Also, Josh Edwards, the classical vocalist I know from church, is the best singer I have ever worked with and many people seem to not realise how awesome his vocals are.

The CD has been in works for quite some time, are you satisfied with how the tracks came out? How well do you think people will react to it upon its release?

Gab- Yes, I'm very pleased with what Eugen has done, it will be well worth the wait. I think some people will say its a bit broad and we are very genre-confused, though hopefully some will embrace our style. I'm hoping that many in the secular industry will like it and not slate it for being Christian.

You recently got signed to Soundmass, was this a surprise for you at all?

Gab- I was in talks with them a while back about distro for the EP, they offered to distribute it but I wasn't aware they were an actual label so I thought I'd just got another distro deal. (I had origionally contacted many people around the world to get good distro for the EP but now that we have soundmass none of that is needed) So in a way it came unexpectedly, and also some German promoters have taken interest and wish to do a lot of European promo and distro, you can find out who they are if you google search the band.
Simon- I'm not so heavily involved with promoting the band, so I was surprised and very happy!

As a band, what is the biggest goal for Ecthirion?

Gab- To reach people who hate God and to be a light in their lives and lift them up, on top of this I want to try and be inovative in all ways possible, maybe create a new subgenre or something like that if I'm lucky. The aim for Ecthirion is to make as much of the product as possible, I'm at uni studying music tech and also have a module in website design so I'm hoping to be able to record, mix and produce our album as well as doing all the art and myspace/website design like I have done for the EP, in this way I will be able to have something which is completely how I want it. We will probably be recording drums and vocals in the uni's professional standard recording studios.

What other genres of music do you enjoy aside from metal?

Gab- I love so much music as well as metal, I could talk about bands I like for hours, the genres I'm into apart from metal are: classical, folk, soundtrack, flamenco, trance, techno, electronica, prog, rock, jazz, eastern music, punk and ska. Many people try and put me in a box by saying I just listen to metal and I listen to it all the time - I don't, and find it's too limiting sometimes.
Simon- I've always liked rock but also enjoy jazz, funk, pop, reggae, soul and even some hip-hop. I play drums in a jazz trio, and hopefully that influences some of my work with Ecthirion.

What are your top five favorite albums (Christian and secular)?

1. Dream Theater- Scenes from a Memory
2. Nightwish- Century Child
3. Muse- Absolution
4. Vangelis- Conquest of Paradise
5. Mike Oldfield- Tubular Bells
6. Metallica- St Anger ................just kidding, haha.

1. Jeff Buckley- Grace
2. Handel's Messiah
3. Miles Davis- Kind Of Blue
4. Guns N' Roses- Appetite For Destruction
5. Pearl Jam - Vs.

Favorite song?

Gab- Oh thats a horrible question... at the moment its probably Vangelis- Conquest of Paradise which is just unbelievably epic!
Simon- Good Times Bad Times by Led Zeppelin is one of my all-time favourites.

In the future, do you see Ecthirion touring at any point?

Gab- Hopefully, but first we need a very good keyboard player, a singer or two and a bass player, who shouldn't be too hard to find. I'm hoping that with the release of the EP people will hear about us and ask us if they can join the band.
Simon- I'd absolutely love to tour, but we'd need some great musicians to be able to recreate our music faithfully.

Where do you see Ecthirion going with newer material? Have you begun to plan any out yet?

Gab- Well I'm trying to be as open as possible about the new album, though many of my ideas are too big and take too much time or money to put into action. As things go I have about an album's worth of material, a lot without lyrics yet. I talked to Simon and he said it would be cool to have a whole section of jazz in one of the tracks, this is where his influence can really show through. I also have some ideas about involving other genres such as folk a bit more, one of the calm tracks is a waltz. But if I got all my ideas recorded rather then just writing them down everyywhere I would have 100 songs. I have met many new talented people at uni here in Huddersfield, one is a third year music student who has a beautiful operatic voice which could be compared with the old Nightwish singer, though I haven't yet asked her about being on the album.

As a Christian, do you feel it necessary to spend time reading the Bible daily?

Gab- Of course, it is essential to keep up to date with the word, and of course it is just as important to be at a church where the Bible is well taught.
Simon- I agree!

Do you believe that God still does miracles in people's lives today?

Gab- Yes, definitely, the pastor of my new church has told many a story about miracles, one actually involving a guy who died in hospital then came alive 5 minutes later. He received the name Lazarus from then on.
Simon- I definitely agree, I think God heals physically but can also work miracles in people's lives in more subtle ways too.

Do you place yourself under a specific denomination in the Church? Do you feel there is much division between certain denominations?

Gab- Denominations are silly, for me the word denomination means division. The people of Christ shouldn't be divided into groups which don't like mixing, the Christian Union here at uni is a great example of how Christians from different denominations can be great friends.

What is your favorite verse from the Bible?

Gab- Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgresions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

I find this verse amazing not only because of how it describes the saviour but because it was written so long before he would even be born. The whole chapter is very interesting. I know it as you may have guessed from Stryper.

If I remember correctly, you also do a lot of graphic designing. How long have you been into that?

Gab-I have always had some natural talent for art, more so than music, I really have to work very hard with music. I have been into photoshop for about 2 years, and would like to try some small jobs working as a record label artist or something, so if you know anybody who needs an artist then tell them about me, im also learning Flash, Fireworks and Dreamweaver.

What other activities do you enjoy aside to participate in aside from graphic designing and music?

Gab- A lot of hobbies on top of music, for example I'm into medieval re-enactment, which is awesome, I may be doing my first event at Warwick castle. I also like remote control planes, though I haven't flown mine in a while. I also like fishing, me and my brother used to do a lot of freshwater fishing in our local river. I also like reading when I get the time.

If Ecthirion could tour with any 3 bands (Christian or secular) which would they be in your opinion?

Stryper, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater

Do you get much criticism from the secular scene about your music?

Gab- Nope, we've never had a bad comment from anybody but our friends, who are often very honest in their opinions of our music.

What influenced the name "Ecthirion" and the change from "Axiom"?

Gab- The name is a made up word, mainly because nearly every short word is taken by a band or company. Therefore if you search Ecthirion in google all the results are for us. With AxioM we were impossible to find amongst other bands with the same name. I made the name influenced by the name Ecthelion invented by Tolkien, (the name of the father of Denethor, the stuard of Gondor).

Do you have any advice for small and upcoming Christian bands?

Gab- Try your best in every way you can, never be satisfied with what you have made, reference bands but dont copy them, completely, always look at ways of improving your music, and look outside the box. Keep your life focused and try to keep away from sin.
Simon- I would say be open to trying anything that might make your music better. It won't always work out but it's important to experiment with ideas.

Any last words of encouragement for our readers?

Gab- Use your talents in any way you can to add to the kingdom.

Torment Ridden - EP review (4/4/09)

Torment Ridden is a band I had the pleasure of getting to know this summer at Saving Song fest. They are a great bunch of guys and I have stayed in contact with a few of them. Over the fest, I had a chance to get my hands on their EP as well as a few other bands demos/EPs. Out of all the bands there, the only two that stuck out to me were Torment Ridden and To Laodicea.

This EP is a pretty cool small release. The vocals stood out a lot to me when I first heard it, they are not your typical metalcore vocals, which is good, in my opinion. I must say though, the clean vocals didn't do anything for me, I think they could use some work. Guitar-wise there are some pretty good ideas, although there are some transitions that I am not to fond of, and some times when the guitar goes slower where it could have been done better. The drums arent too shabby either, although the double bass sound could use some help.

All in all, I think these guys have a good amount of potential too them. They have made a lot of lineup swaps, and I want to see how things will turn out with new music. For this release, I really like how the song "Barbed Wire Think Tank" starts out. With some better production/recording in the future, it will be a whole lot better. If you are a fan of metalcore I suggest you check this out.

Blood Drift - Thrusting Plagues review (4/4/09)


This release has been pretty hard to obtain as of late, because of its limited pressing. Though, I am quit good friends with the vocalist though, and was able to obtain a copy. Musically, this is a lot more mature, then anything I have heard come out of any of the musicians involved. They have all worked on various projects throughout their teenage years, and finally came to form Blood Drift.

Although this is only a three song release, it is jam packed, with intense-ness from beginning to end. The production is not amazing, but it is still enjoyable. The two things that I enjoyed most musically on this album, are the drums and the vocals. The drums do not stand out in the music as much as they could, because of the production, but this drummer has some awesome talent. Delivering fast blast beats, ridiculous crashing cymbals and some very well executed gravity blasts. The vocals have a decent range, and there is some various layering on the CD. Some of the layering, could have been done a bit better though, but it is not the worst thing in the world. The thing I like about these vocals, is they stand out from other death metal bands, they aren't a constant deep growl, but more of an agonized scream.

My favorite song on this release is the first one, "Winds of Persecution". The opening riff is somewhat typical, but I feel it fits quite well. There is a good showcase of the vocals in this song as well. The drums have a nice variety in this song, with fast crashing cymbals and nicely done blast beats.

All in all, this demo is pretty good, being their first. I think everything would be a lot more pleasing to the ears if there was better production. I see a lot of potential in this band, and hope to see them go far.

Asher - Harmonious Thought review (5/12/09)


Asher is one of the many bands that have recently joined Bombworks Records family. Bombworks has shown recently that their family branches into all different forms of metal, which is a great thing to see. And though Asher is now a deceased project, the CD will be re-issued on Bombworks sometime later this year. Many of the members went on to form Monolith, another great band that Bombworks recently picked up. Monolith has some fantastic orchestral parts, great guitars, and I highly suggest you check them out.

Musically Asher is a blend of heavy and melodic metal. Incorporating some nice keyboard work, great, catchy guitar riffs, and very popish vocals. The popish vocals may turn a lot of metalheads off, but on my first listen, I was quite honestly hooked. Overall, the music is catchy, and has a great message to it. There are also some awesome female growls scattered through out this CD.

If you are a fan of Paramore, or Flyleaf, then this is for you, if you are a metalhead, but open to more things, then surely check this out. Its a fun one to listen to, and both of the girls in the band are very pretty!

Favorite songs: This Burden, Love's So Wrong, Exhortation, Omega, and Enslaved

Nightsbane - The Siege review (5/12/09)


Nightsbane was a project that was overlooked by most of the scene, although this should not have been the case. The CD titled "The Siege" is a great first effort from the band, and should have had a little more publicity The project is now continued on under the moniker of "Gupster", though we have yet to hear music under this name.

Guitar-wise, this release has some pretty great stuff, very progressive, the drums are not very complex, sometimes boring, but they could be worse. The vocals are black metal styled, and fit quite well, although they could use a little bit of work. I think with a little more practice, and better production, this could be a fantastic project. All in all, there are 5 tracks, 33 minutes, of awesome music. This really was a gem that should not have been overlooked. Hopefully the future will bring justice to Guptster.

If you want a copy of "The Siege" try and get ahold of them on the Nightsbane myspace page.

Excurses - Devils Footrpints review (5/12/09)


Excurses has been a hidden gem in the Christian scene for quite some time. Although they only delivered one EP, it is quite possibly one of the best efforts for an EP I have heard. This EP is an onslaught of awesome guitars, great drums, and vocals that are very unique, and extremely haunting. The band seems to have called it quits, and therefore this release has become extremely hard to find.

The first song, which is the title track, is very catchy and one of my favorites on the release. There was a video made for this track as well, which is pretty neat. All of the tracks on this release caught my attention but the other one that stuck out the most to me was Aurora, showing off exceptional musical skills. Musically, just everything about this release grabs me, it is top notch. Its a shame there will be no more.

I highly suggest that if you ever have an opportunity to get this, that you jump on it, it is well worth the money you will pay, and is a nice gem in Christian metal history. If not, then they do have a myspace page, although it is dormant, that you can hear most of the songs at.

Rehumanize - Resident Apostasy review (5/12/09)


Rehumanize is one of the bands in the Christian grind scene that we have coming up. And to be quite honest, my favorite one. I, myself, am not usually into much grind, but there are a handful of things about Rehumanize that capture my attention. The vocals, are on a whole different level then most of the other grind bands, the newer material has REAL drums, which is not typic for Christian grind bands, and the band contains two well known bands in both the Christian metal and grind scenes (Felipe Diez, and Broc Tony).

Songs on this release clock from 0:11 to 2:16, a majority of the tracks also capture your attention well, with lyrics talking about doctrines in faith, personal opinions on revivals taking place, problems in the modern church, the pornography industry, and tons of other great topics that should not go overlooked. It is not generally in my nature to enjoy songs that clock in at low times, but almost all of the short ones on here were enjoyable. The drums on this CD, as stated earlier, are real, and some very talented ones at that , delivering some awesome blast beats.

Whether you are a grind fan, or a metalhead, this is quite honestly something that is going to go down in Christian history as one of the top grind albums (or bands if we are looking towards the future). The CD was released on Open Grave Records, and is available through a handful of Christian distros online. Be sure to check it out, seeing as it is priced very fair.

Sorrowstorm - Onward review (5/12/08)


This project has been very dear to me, seeing as it was the first black metal band I had ever heard. Felipe Diez helped open my eyes up to the underground Christian scene, and show me all it had to offer. Now as for the CD, it is now practically sold out on all websites, it was released on Sullen Records in 2008, limited to 250 copies. This CD is a collection of some new songs, and all of the previously released Sorrowstorm material with re-recorded parts, and revamped as a whole, making most of the songs sound like a complete new product.

The musicianship on the newer tracks on the CD is fantastic. Falling in the vein of some of the top secular preceders. Fantastic sounding drums are delivered, great guitar tracks, and very well executed vocals. There is, although a difference in the vocals of the new material, as opposed to the old. At first it took me a while to decided which I liked better, and although I still do love the old vocals, I must say these ones are done very well. The lyrics for all of Sorrowstorms songs are written amazing, each time I read them I get a vast painting in my mind. Specifically the three songs from the Funeral Oath EP.

Sorrowstorm has come out bringing a devoted fanbase, and delivering some of the most influental black metal in the Christian scene. If you are unfamiliar with the material, I suggest you check out the myspace page. If you like it, you can purchase the songs from iTunes as well. Make sure to keep an eye out for the future of Sorrowstorm, because I see big things happening.

Sit At My Right Hand - There Is More Than One Way Out review (12/12/08)

Alright, so Sit At My Right Hand is a small little project that contacted me and asked for some help and support. The man behind the project, Jonathan, is a pretty cool dude. Musically this is more grind styled (with some clean acoustic-like tracks). Not generally what i listen to, but i enjoyed most of this CD. If you are into grind i suggest you buy this, especially since its only 5 dollars on the myspace page.

On this CD, the vocals are done pretty freaking well, especially when layered, the layering sounds great. The higher pitched vocals are not as good as the deep ones in my opinion though. As for the clean vocals, i think it could really do without them, they arent the worst clean vocals in the world, but im not really a fan of them. Guitar-wise these are some pretty good riffs for a grind band, and i like to see that, it isnt just noise, unlike a lot of other grind projects. Even though they are thrown in at random times, like in Save Me From This Place, there are some keys which sound pretty good. As for the title track, there are more clean vocals here (as are in some other songs) but i kind of like this track, and i really like the harsh vocals that come in with the synths towards the end, it adds a lot of meaning to the song, and the vocals sound awesome.

The cover art for this CD is pretty interesting, even though its only a one panel insert, have to remember it was independently pressed. Like i said, it is definitely worth $5, especially for grind fans, if your not so much into grind i am not really sure if you would like this release a whole lot.

There is definitely potential to this CD, and i think this project could be a great hit in the grind scene, just needs more exposure.

ps. there are 80s vocals thrown in here and there which crack me up!

Harvester of Souls - Seperation of Wheat From Chaff review (12/10/08)


Harvester of Souls is a very raw sounding black metal act, that comes from a pretty familiar face in the Christian "grind" scene. Broc Toney is a very determined man, to put all he has into his many projects and furthering the kingdom of God. As stated at first HoS is a raw black metal band, so if you are not into raw music, then you will most likely not enjoy this. I myself enjoy all forms of black metal. Overall this EP has potential to it. I do think it certainly needs work, and could have had more time being worked on, but it showcases some potential for what the future will bring. Musically, this could have had more time into it, but I will say, it is better then some in the scene. The drums are programmed, which gives some drawback, but I myself know that it can be a whole lot easier to program drums, instead of finding someone else to play them, or learning how. The vocals, done by Davis Hays, are fairly well vocals. Nice raw feeling to the vocals, although I felt on this EP, there were times when they did not really fit. Sometimes that is what is aimed for, im not entirely sure if thats what they wanted to do with this release. I certainly think you should all snag this if your into raw black metal, especially since its limited to 50 copies. Also keep an eye out for the project, ive just heard some new samples they posted, and they sound a whole lot better then what appeared on the EP.

Erasmus - Sanguinus Nocturnus review (12/8/08)

Erasmus is a Christian black metal band that has just sprung up in the scene, like many others. Although, there is one thing that sets Erasmus apart from the others; they are one of the best that has come out in a while. If you have not heard them, I highly suggest you head on over to their myspace and give it a listen. Getting ahold of their EP might be quite difficult, however, since it is limited to 50 pressings.

"Sanguinus Nocturnus" is quite an astonishing EP, especially since it's the first release- although the song "Sanguinus Nocturnus" was originally released on a demo in four parts.

The musicianship on this EP is outstanding, however, I think the vocals could use some work- maybe less of the heavy static feeling, but I'm not sure if anyone else gets that feeling.

As for songs, i think my favorite so far would be "Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux." Even though this is the shortest of the four songs, I love the guitar riff that it contains. "Sanguinus Nocturnus," a piece that is almost 17 minutes long, is a compilation of the four tracks from the demo, as the artist intended it to be heard, is also a great track, and a big standout on the CD. The other two songs are the ones you can listen to on the myspace page, and they are quite good, but I personally do not like them as much as the other two stated.

Before I close, another thing I must point out is the artwork. It is really good, and the quotes on the back of the insert were very thought provoking as well... plus he thanked Gondolin in the insert too.

Overall, I give this release a 90/100. A very good first effort, and I will be looking for more in the future, and I suggest you all do as well.

Interview with Dharok of Sympathy (11/11/08)

Alex: First off, if you could introduce yourselves (or self), and tell us your significance in the Christian metal scene. (or metal scene in general)

Dharok: My name is Derek, I started Sympathy back a long time ago, and have been doing it on and off for quite a few years.

Alex: You guys just released your new CD "Anagogic Tyranny". There seems to have been nothing but good feedback on the quality of the music. How do you guys feel about the release overall? Any changes you wish you made?

Dharok: Well, I think that I am pretty satisfied, but mistakes and compromises were made since we were not working with huge budgets and we had a lot of limitations put on the project. I am very happy with what Jeff and Jim both brought to the album, but I still hear my own screw-ups when I listen.

Alex: The lyrical content of this album has been discussed, and many are finding it quite controversial. Some have made up their own ideas, of what to get out of it. When writing them, what were your intentions lyrically?

Dharok: Well, I am not going to talk about my lyrical intentions because they shouldn't matter. What matters for the art is what the listener finds in the lyrics: that's where the "art" in lyrics lay. Lyrics are a mirror of the listener's soul: they reflect back to you what you want them to mean. I will say that the lyrics are based upon a series of character studies and have nothing directly to do with Christianity. I use a lot of religious imagery because that is the metaphorical language of our culture, but that's as deep as any religious meaning goes for this album. Arcane Path and Invocation had a lot of religious content, but I wanted to do something different this time around. If people find the lyrics controversial, it only tells me that they are looking for controversy.

Alex: Now that Sympathy has a lineup, does this make things a lot easier?

Dharok: Yes and no. It does make it much easier for me since I don't have to struggle to play leads or worry about coming up with drum beats any more; but on the other hand, it is hard for all of us to work together since we live hundreds of miles apart from each other.

Alex: Do you think fans liked it better with just one man, or with the three of you?

Dharok: I am not sure. I know that Jim and Jeff both added a lot to this album. And what they added sounds a lot better than what I could have done on my own. And the addition of an actual drummer makes a huge difference. We'll see what the people who are familiar with the other albums think.

Alex: How long have you been playing instruments?

Dharok: I have been playing guitar for about 15 years, but before that I did take a lot of piano lessons.

Alex: What would you consider your main instruments?

Dharok: I actually consider piano my main instrument, although I haven't played or practiced seriously for years. I know that I am most proficient as a keyboard/piano player, and with a little time invested, the skills would come back to me quickly.

Alex: Do you think Sympathy has made its mark in the metal scene?

Dharok: Not really. You really can't make a mark without touring full time and making a career out of it.

Alex: What are some things you enjoy doing outside of playing music?

Dharok: Because of what I do, I have to read a lot. Apart from that, I spend a lot of time weightlifting at my local gym.

Alex: Does touring for Sympathy look like a possibility in the future?

Dharok: Not likely, but I would not be opposed to it. The financial costs are huge for doing even a small tour.

Alex: If Sympathy were to set up a tour, with 5 bands, Christian or secular, together or broken up, who would they be?

Dharok: I would say Suffocation, Carcass, Bloodbath, Dio, and Into Eternity

Alex: Best metal artist? Christian and secular

Dharok: Suffocation

Alex: What would you consider the best metal album? Christian and secular

Dharok: Suffocation – Pierced from Within

Alex: Best song?

Dharok: Suffocation – The Invoking

Alex: What has been the best experience you have had with Sympathy?

Dharok: Probably getting the very first contract in the mail from Fear Dark. It was a very affirming moment.

Alex: The worst?

Dharok: Really haven't been any bad times. If times were bad, I wouldn't do this.

Alex: As a Christian, what are your views on cussing?

Dharok: I really don't have anything as serious as a "view". I just think it's obnoxious, like it would be if someone were yelling all the time. Why would anyone do that? It would make you sound and look like a fool. I think that cussing it pretty much in that same category.

Alex: Being one of the few "Christian" bands from Canada, how would you say the metal scene is over there?

Dharok: There is almost no metal scene . . . let alone a Christian scene. BTW, I am not sure that I would want to be a part of a Christian scene anyway.