Chaos Moon’s final plan to provide the soundtrack to a failing world with “Eschaton Mémoire.”

Chaos Moon is a band that for those that are perverse and who follow and dwell in the void below SHOULD know by now. If not at the very least have at least some knowledge about. And that’s based on primarily on the key players in the band who have their filth spread and soiled various spots in said underground void. Two of which being Guitarist Alex Poole (Esoterica/Skaphe/Krieg/Lithome/Martrod) and vocalist Eric Baker (Conqubine/Mantheren). We’ll get more onto these two primary musicians in the band later. But for now let’s focus on WHY Chaos Moon is and should be very important for all maniacs of all shades of the absence of light.

First the title of the album “Eschaton Memoire,” can be dissected into many different meanings. Here’s my two cents and personal interpretation: The perspective that this album gives is all summed up with the concept of “the end’. The final omega. The conclusion. Does this mean the band itself will witness it’s own demise? Not at all. If anything it’s the acceptance and embracing of the nothingness and the lack of it substance and form it contains. Only in that spot does the band and possibly listeners will find some sort of closure or peace and accept it’s own mortality. We all have to take that final step into it. Chaos Moon holds it’s chilling, boney hand out to take and guide us. Like Buck Dharma of the legendary band Blue Oyster Cult sang once; Don’t fear the reaper!

Now onto the music itself which is a miasma of plague-inducing riffs, passages of melancholic atmosphere, and deafening-inducing drums that help paint that portrait of the futility of existence. Let it be know for the fucking record that guitarist Alex Poole is by far one if not the most accelerated/advanced guitarists in Black Metal. Not just the North American scene by any means. He’s up there next to other virtuosos of black metal velocity and trailblazers such as Jef Whitehead (Leviathan/Lurker Of Chalice/Twilight), Snorre W. Ruch (Mayhem/Thorns) and Tom G. Warrior (Celtic Frost/Triptykon). In fact I would definitely put him in this current generation of musicians who are tampering and blurring/burning the current lines of black metal guitar playing. Not to hog the spotlight by himself, we also have vocalist Eric Baker who is able to appear on this particular album. I have heard Mr. Baker’s vocals in his other projects, but I think the combination of his vocals and Alex Poole’s riffs gives the music an new dimension of infinite possibilities. That and the music itself gives Mr. Baker more room to stretch his larynx to it’s maximum output more-so than Conqubine. Which don’t take that as a slur or insult because I legit enjoy Conqubine. But with Chaos Moon, Eric Baker is pushing himself and the result show of his abilities and possibilities to be more recognized and justifiably so.

Speaking of the devil himself, Jef Whitehead lends his amazing artistic abilities to paint another horrifying vision of  everything that man fears. Let’s take a look shall we?

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Dali-esque nightmare provided by none other than Wrest a.k.a Jef Whitehead.

Clocking in at 40 minutes and 33 seconds, “Eschaton Memoire” is an LP that drags the listener through a chasm of riffs, synths, drums, screams, and everything that makes Black Metal worth listening to in the first place. It’s quality music that makes you face the failings and fuck-ups of this modern world and the sickness of it all. The complete miserable on-going process of suffering all processed through the hallucinogenic prism are felt in both the two-part songs (“The Pillar, The Key” and the title track) which respectfully adorn the beginning and ending of the album. The second song and middle part of the album (“Of Wrath And Forbidden Wisdom“) represents this beautifully depressing calm that brings a sense of joy and adoration to the entropy-like process. The breaking-down. The rot and decay that gradually deteriorates everything to a stench-inducing muck and slime.

On a personal note, not too many black metal releases have caught my attention this year outside of a few including old guard-defending FIN with their “Arrows of A Dying Age” LP and Drowning The Light‘s “Varcolaci Rising.” Chaos Moon ranks comfortably in between those mentioned as a highlight in 2017 as far as jamz to fuck with and an album that should get more recognition that it has already just based on it being a example of how to do modern-day Black Metal correctly.

Eschaton Memoire” is now available on vinyl via Fallen Empire Records . You can pick-up a physical copy of it here at Chaos Moon’s official Bandcamp page. You can listen to it digitally via Apple/Spotify/Youtube. Also, follow Chaos Moon via Facebook and give them hails as well as voicing how much you hate Bobby Walker. Because fuck Bobby!

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Flying High with Spirit Adrift’s sophomore album.

2017 has been a rather doomy year for the majority of people in the U.S. of A. At the moment, a majority of the masses don’t have high hopes for the future while some are delusional that the clocks are going to somehow magically turn back to their boring fucking childhoods. But at least with these miserable turbulent times, 2017 has given us good jamz to fuck with. New albums by LossParadise Lost, Spectral Voice, Bell Witch a new Evoken on the way, and currently the debut album by Arizona’s Spirit Adrift. Spirit Adirft is a solo-project which features none other than our boiz in current Death Metal riffers Gatecreeper.  A solo project by GC guitarist Nate Garrett who has released by far one of the more refreshing and shockingly up-lifting Doom Metal album in not just this year, but in recent memory.

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That’s some pretty sweet friggin’ artwork. 

Curse Of Conception” is a Doom Metal album that tells you to drop your worries, guilt, and sorrow, and forces you to bang the head that does not bang. That and to worship the power of not just the riff, but to loose yourself in the melodies as well. A solo project started by GC guitarist Nate Garrett, the gentleman has released by far one of the more refreshing and shockingly up-lifting Doom Metal album in not just this year, but in recent memory. His debut album “Chained To Oblivion” would be considered a one man band deal. Now on “Curse Of Conception“, he is joined by his fellow band mate’s vocalist – and CEO of Red Bull Energy Drink – Chase Mason. Chase backs Nate up with providing bass which gives Nate a bit of backing muscle. I would hate to leave out other guitarist Jeff Owens and drummer Marcus Bryant. Those gentleman do an excellent job as well.

The one thing I as a newly converted fan to Spirit Adrift am fond of is that Nate chose to NOT go down the Stoner Doom path. In 2017, in my humble opinion, it’s overdone to death. So many bands trying to sound like Sleep and never even come close to the originality that made Sleep special in the first place. Either that or the music is watered-down to the point where their’s no sense of genuine feel to it. What Nate does with SA is go the more traditional Doom Metal route and even at times creating a traditional/epic Doom Metal style. Think of bands such as Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus with hints of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus. But don’t call Spirit Adrift ‘old-school’….if anything it’s closer to the modern-day likes of Pallbearer which is NEVER a bad thing. Riff-wise, I can even pick-up hints of Crowbar and some of the most beautiful and epic guitar melodies this side of Greg McKintosh of Paradise Lost. I wouldn’t even call SA sludgy at all. It’s just really epic-sounding no-bullshit Doom Metal, but the ace up it’s sleeve is that it feels….positive? Yeah. This is not as down-right depressing as some previously mentioned bands. Quite opposite. But there is that sense of struggle that keeps the feet of the music planted firmly on the dirty streets.

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Spirit Adrift: Doomy boiz

It’s really hard to pick a certain song on “Curse Of Conception.” “Earthbound” starts off with a more up-beat version of Warning(UK) and it’s here where the first-time listener will be automatically be fucking hooked. Nate Garret’s and Jeff Owens just pound out riff after fucking riff of Doomy goodies. The title track opens up with a riff/melody that for a minute reminded me of Kirk Hammet’s solo to “Fade To Black” but then actually DOES fade to fucking black with the tortoise-like tempo. A hearty Tom G. Warrior “OUGH!” is heaved forward and then goes into a nice NOLA-like swinging Crowbar riff which always get the spirits up. “Graveside Invocation” is a total ripper that commands you to raise some sick fucking horns. “Onward, Inward” is were we see more NOLA sludge oozing through as the album’s farewell with a thrashy mid-part that makes you wanna push-mosh into oblivion.

If this album doesn’t get anymore coverage than it has or at least ends up on Decibel’s Top Albums of 2017, then I’m going to loose faith in not just fans of Doom Metal but the genre as well. If anything not only have previous bands I have mentioned that have also released new albums this year, but Spirit Adrift can prove that one can put the over-priced bong down and be sober enough to make Doom Metal worth keeping around without a bunch of hippies trying to out-smoke Sleep’s “Dopesmoker.”

Curse Of Conception” is available now on 20 Buck Spin. You can listen to it via Spotify/Itunes as well as support the band by visiting their official Facebook page and buy stuff from them at their official Bandcamp page. Support them brothers, they are worth your hard-earned cash.

The Song Of A Long Forgotten Ghost: A Beginner’s Guide To Dungeon Synth Music Part 2 (The Goblin King)

Upon first doing this short series, I won’t lie and admit I was a bit hesitant. Why? Various reasons. None negative, but for the most part I sadly felt that this was a new fad that would shortly start going the usual route of so many before. But then having a few of my close friends basically elbowing me and saying “Dude, check this shit out!” I more or less let go of all pretenses and started listening to this new form of synth music while at work with an open mind. I don’t know what happened in my warped dank mind still reeling from my surgery and dealing with the aftermath Hurricane Irma. May be it had to do that I finally didn’t have to listen to terrible Top 40 Pop/RnB/whatever type of music blaring thru the overhead speakers at work. But I almost felt a certain wave of nostalgia hit me that I haven’t felt in a good while. Not bad nostalgia, but the good kind when one remembers discovering something for the first time and it leaves such a huge impression on you that it sadly guarantees you to never get laid for the remainder of your life. At least for me at that particular pre-Internet time frame. I got to re-discover something that I had locked in the dusty old attic that is my mind. In a way it helped me use my imagination in a way that I haven’t used it in quite some time. So may be there is something healthy to doing such.

First part of this series I started to go into the roots of Dungeon Synth discussing about several pieces that would go on to influence the now what seems like over-night explosion of Dungeon Synth. But I didn’t really talk or discuss about one massively important artist to the sub-genre. Upon first writing this, I found myself wanting to talk more about his music than just 3 or 4 sentences. I felt that this was a good time to really delve into the gentleman’s discography and give you a good representation of what it was like growing up as a black metal-obssessed teen in the 90’s pre-Internet times. I don’t have keep you in suspense or myself so ladies and gentleman, the moment that both you and I had been waiting for; the man with the pointy ears, hook nose, batwings, and chainmail, and Norway’s most famous troll and Blix’s brother: MORTIIS!


Let’s start at the very beginning with his 1993 demo “The Song Of A Long Forgotten Ghost.” Released on cassette form in June of that year, Mortiis did something completely fucking different. He released an entire demo of dark ambient synth music with zero vocals. That had never been done before by a (former) black metal musician. Be it Norwegian or otherwise. I had noted in the previous part that his fellow Norwegians in Mayhem and Burzum did 1 or 2 songs, but never a full demo. Another big thing was that of the direction he took: minimalist, cheaply-made, and Medieval-sounding. This gentleman was living in 2017 while everyone else was stuck in 1992. By dropping the bass guitar in Emperor and doing a solo project with a Casio keyboard, he would go on to record entire albums of dark ambient music that even in 2017, the influence of his early visions can still be felt.


Mortiis’s 1994 debut album “Født til å herske” is ground zero for Dungeon Synth Music. Released on Malicious Records, and then re-released under his own label Dark Dungeon Records. Hell even the genre name itself is a respectable wordplay on Mortiis’s very own label.  Mortiis went straight for the abstract. Not only furthering the medieval sounds but also adopting the imagery of a mythological Norwegian troll/goblin placing him way beyond your typical panda corpsepaint. It should be noted that even his Norwegian troll/goblin costume would also change from album to album but still managing to keep a complete mystique about him that was just scream “Fuckin’ sweet!” It’s an LP with one long song divided into two tracks and the first time we hear vocals in Mortiis music. It’s Dungeon-y and medieval sounding but when Mortiis’ vocals finally make themselves known it turns into this weird hypnotic ritual-esque chanting. For a debut, I absolutely personally love this one.


Mortiis released his second full length LP, titled “Ånden som gjorde opprør” on the now legendary and defunct Cold Meat Industries in 1994. It’s right about here where Mortiis is in full control. The maestro to his very own opera creating landscapes with the flick of a wrist. The artwork shows actual Norwegian landscape and gives Mortiis vision a physical location. It’s also noted that this is what a lot of Mortiis fans consider their favorite album from his classic Era 1 period.


Keiser av en dimension ukjent” is the next album by Mortiis released in 1995. If anything this is a sister album expansion of “Ånden som gjorde opprør.” It also the transitional album to the next compilation album that most people still consider a full-length. By now Mortiis had done not only Emperor, and his main solo project, but two other side projects that included Vond and Fata Morgana. Both of which are more extensions of his particular form of dark synth music even going in a more Darkwave direction.

Crypt Of The Wizard” is what many consider to be Mortiis’ grand opus. This album is not so much a full-length, but a compilation of ten songs gathered from no less than five EPs all put out through Mortiis very own Dark Dungeon record label. These five EPs which all contained two songs each combined with the adorning artwork by well-known Swedish artist John Bauer. Put together and you have a compilation that at the end of the day might as well be considered a full-length. Regardless of what you consider this LP to be, “Crypt of The Wizard” is the album that got many people here in the states to take notice and was the first ever bit of exposure of Mortiis to 90’s teens such as myself. This is what started many of us on our own personal quest to find out more about this mysterious artist who looked like Blix from the 80’s Tom Cruise film “Legend.”

Taking a break from his music, let’s look a bit at the brilliant and original imagery Mortiis displayed in the 90’s while the majority of his countrymen were looking like sad pandas:

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I first saw this same image in Metal Maniacs in ’97/’98.  Suffice to say it was the coolest fucking thing I had seen up until that point in my entire life. Mind you black metal imagery was one thing….Mortiis was on a completely different level and made just basically everyone else seemed not-so sincere to their choice of musical craft. On top of  a compilation LP, he also made a limited-edition home video (2000 copies total) of him walking around in a Swedish castle outside of Gothenburg in full Mortiis goblin attire and costume. For a peak into the past and pre-Internet era, check this video clip out:


Very spooky stuff

After the release of the “Crypt Of The Wizard” compilation LP, Mortiis made the big jump from both Cold Meat Industry/Dark Dungeon Music to Earache Music. At this time, black metal was as huge as it had gotten. Certain big name record labels were all cashing in, and Earache wanted a piece of the pie, so they picked up Mortiis. The album “The Stargate” was released and more and more people picked up on what he was doing, particularly in the UK. It should be noted that the music contained on “The Stargate” is the last full length album he did that contained full on dark ambient synth music. But here, there’s other sounds added to the pallet such as female vocals, and possibly the most “full” medieval soundtrack you’ll find outside of “Lord Of The Rings” soundtrack. “The Stargate” is basically the end of of what Mortiis himself referred to as Era 1. What he did next after completely doing away with the troll-y nature of the character and music he created was not just the most shocking thing he had done up until this point, but possibly his most criminally underrated album ever:

He decided to go straight Industrial/Electronic.

The Smell Of The Witch“, while not only signifying the second Era of his music but a completely overhaul of not just the image and look of Mortiis, but the sound. Gone are the dark ambient synths, and in place is loud, noisey Industrial/Goth dance music with guitars. And in all honesty, at the time, it was much needed. Had Mortiis keep going on with his Era 1 type music, he would have ended in self-parody like KISS or something corny of the sort. Mortiis stepped out from the darkness of the dungeon and onto the dance floor and shocked everyone that for one he has a good voice. So if you’re open-minded enough, you will appreciate “The Smell Of The Witch.” I know I have for years. As far as the rest of discography past this point? Meh. I don’t exactly register myself as a fan of those albums. Nothing negative to say about those other than it’s his music and he can do whatever he wants to with it but for me…..I’m staying in the dark dank dungeons of Norway somewhere in ’97. And I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.

But the story doesn’t stop there. Or so you would believe that it would. This year Foreign Sounds/Children of The Night released a BEAUTIFULLY made limited edition wooden cassette boxset that contained the first Mortiis demo and the first three Era 1 albums on cassette tape. Complete for nerdy fanbois such as myself. Did I get one? You bet your sweet ass I did. Take a look for yourself:

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These box sets sold-out within an hour of being posted online. I barely lucked-out but thankfully I did. Out of all the things I own in my personal music collection, it’s probably one of my most valued.

Wrapping all this discussion and talk about Mortiis up, to say that I’m a fan is a bit of an understatement. For all intents and purposes, Mortiis made a huge impression on me as a teen and his music still lives on in 2017. These days his Era 1 music is still fascinating. Even for a time period that I wasn’t listening to his music, I wouldn’t deny the impact he had on my ever-growing tastes from that particular time period of my youth. He provided more of a classic sense of escapism and at what better time in pre-Internet social-media based clusterfuck dumpster fire of the current year? In the 90’s that was the goal. And I’m sure that now more than ever escapism is still a much-needed thing but the depressing part is that I’m at an age where I don’t experience it as much as when I did when I was younger. Yeah I can totally isolate myself in my house and listen to music, and read books, or do whatever….but is it the same effect? Not really. Time then stood still forever, and now nearing 35, time is going by faster. But it is nice to come back to certain things that you remember completely shattering your world and concept of what an actual ARTIST should or should not be. If anything, Mortiis defined art in the most absurd way possible through synths, noses, batwings, daggers, dungeons and all. I would hate to sound cliche and say something to effect of “If you weren’t there, you wouldn’t understand.” But it’s true. Believe it, Comrades. If you need further proof, Decibel writer/Krieg frontman and online grouch Neill Jameson did an amazing fucking interview with Mortiis himself that goes further into the mythology that he created himself and his views on the music he’s created during his lifetime.

Next part of the Dungeon Synth series, I’m going to talk a bit about what made a lot of people start walking away from the synths and completely rebel against something that was rebellious in the first place. This part of the history of Dungeon Synth gets really fucking cringe-worthy.

Enter The Tombs of Oregon’s Haunt

Do you feel that? The cold chill in the air. Do you see your breath in front of your face? Do you smell the formaldehyde preserving your blue-ing shell of a human body. Do you taste the moist dirt in your mouth? Do you hear the cries of your loved ones saying their final goodbyes? If you do, then prepare yourself for the worst part of all…..the grave-robbing fiend know as Salem, Oregon’s Haunt.

Spooky visual aside, you would think to yourself “Oh this is just more death metal” based on the book cover. Nope. This is hands-down the most rotting black metal I have heard in fucking forever. Take the best parts of old-school Mayhem, demo-era Gorogoroth, and throw in a shitload of Bathory riffs to measure and you have something that while on paper seems like total textbook black metal. But actually listening to Haunt is a completely different experience all together. For one can we talk about that sound production? It’s the very definition of black metal. It just sounds like it was recorded in some dank mausoleum in the middle of a graveyard in the middle of a chilly Autumn night. The riffs combined with the sound production give it a complete and total reminder of “The Return…” by Bathory and other old-school ‘necro’ Black Metal albums.

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Vocally-speaking, the gentleman sounds like Dead of Mayhem reincarnated. At times I had to double check to make sure I wasn’t listening to Mayhem. Listen to the gentleman in Haunt and then listen to Dead’s screaming in the legendary “Live In Leipzig” album, and the comparison is pretty fucking spooky. On top of one of the best killer combination of vocals, riffs, and sound production, you also get some creepy and eerie instrumental/sound clips of z-grade grainy horror films from the 70’s/80’s which gives the Haunt’s version of black metal a very rotting and spectral feel to it, which is definitely outside of the usual subject matter that black metal deals with. I would usually complain that a band like Haunt is doing nothing different than what has come before….but for 2017 this is pretty radical stuff. Where as most people have tried in vain to re-capture the sound and spirit of the late 80’s/early 90’s Black Metal sound, Haunt perfectly captures it. Captures it to the point of it seeming like a time-capsule suddenly dug up out of the earth and freshly exhumed for examination.

I can’t say enough about this band. Truly something special. Check out Haunt on Bandcamp and support them.

Burial At Sea buries Groove Metal right where it should be to properly resurrect it.

Let’s get one thing nice and sparkling clear: As an opening statement, I fucking HATE Groove Metal. It has always been the bane of my existence as an extreme music fan and overall music fan. It’s the one thing that I feel insults my intelligence as a listener. Groove Metal for the most part off started promising and exciting with it’s birth given to us by Exhorder, and even Prong to certain degrees. But the second Pantera recorded their 1996 opus “The Great Southern Trendkill,” the Texas titans threw that entire genre in the fire. As a nice way to nicely give it’s would-be-pretenders-to-the-throne and wannabe-usurpers the middle finger. And to also give every pint-sized wannabe-tough guy who has shaved his head(or given himself an undershave), thrown their tantrum on stage, and failed to achieve the standards set by the masters of Groove. That’s like the first of my many complaints with a genre of music that has failed to progress in the least bit in the past 15 years. I would go into more reasons, but I’ll spare you the complaints and grievances for a personal one on one if you ever want to hit me up on social media.

But with the damn-near death of one thing, it also begins to lead to it’s possible re-birth: “The Art of Retribution” by Central Florida’s Burial At Sea is not only Groove Metal’s underdog, but might just be an overall Metal band that could very well put Florida Metal back on the map as far as crossover mainstream appeal WHILE showing that it has more to offer than a pair of baggy olive drab shorts and some re-hashed riff from 1992. For one, the riffs here are abundantly clear that no this isn’t your grand-pappy’s “Walk.” Take the groove of the masters of old and then plop them down somewhere between 2003-2006 where it has Metalcore/New Wave of American Heavy Metal influences. Instead of focusing solely on chugs, there’s also the melodies that are directly from Swedish side of the pond. Think of In Flames when they were actually a band worth a fuck. There’s plenty of dominating breakdowns and double-bass to lure in the unsuspecting listener. Basically this picks up right where Groove Metal started to suck major balls and is determine to correct it’s past sins. I mean, it’s a hell of a starting point in 2017 considering that particular time period is one that a lot of people don’t look back on with fond memories, but you know what? If Nu-Metal/Rap Metal of all fucking genres can survive in some unexplained way, then why not Groove Metal/Metalcore? I say let the dog have it’s day.

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Vocal-wise, yeah you’re going to get the aggro yells. You’re going to get the flying spit in the face from the mic-holder. You’re going to get lyrical frustration of someone who has enough conviction to sound like he fucking hates his life and surrounding environment(s). You’re going to get a taste of what came before. Somewhere by the 2nd or 3 track I thought to myself “Damn dude, you really had me going!” But the vocalist has more than just being a whiny honky motherfucker crying about god knows what. You get the good cop/bad cop vocals, but his good cop is more of a take on Fear Factory‘s very own Burton C. Bell. Speaking of the Decibel Magazine’s HoF inductees….there’s parts where you get a certain Industrial ‘clang’ and ‘ping’ to the drums which is also a bit of fresh air. Sound production it’s very crisp-clear so you don’t have to worry about it being too dirty for your virgin ears. I’m looking at you Lamb Of God/Killswitch Engage fans.

But instead of where Groove Metal succumbed to an embarrassing fake-patriotic mainstream failure with Five Finger Death Punch, Burial At Sea goes back to the drawing board of the mid-2000’s and says “Fuck that!” and completely drafts-up a new pitch to the genre as a way to save it from it’s own comical leanings. Oh I’m sure Burial At Sea are not the ONLY band trying to do so with their bold statement of a debut album. But damn it, if they aren’t the loudest then I would be a fool of a human being to believe otherwise.

Burial At Sea’s “The Art Of Retribution” is now available on Itunes, and Spotify. Check them out on Facebook as well.

The Song Of A Long Forgotten Ghost: A Beginner’s Guide To Dungeon Synth Music Part 1 (The Origins and Roots)

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As the old saying goes “Whatever is old is new again.” The saying can be applied to music in 2017 that is influenced by the dark, medieval-inspired ambient music of Norwegian black metal artists such as Burzum, and most of all Mortiis(ex-bassist of Emperor). Of all things to pop back up on the radar of 2017, this is probably the one that I am having the most fun with. Not just listening to, but writing about as well. Definitely in terms of this newly coined sub-genre, carefully and aptly called Dungeon Synth, it does not take itself oh-so-seriously(Not yet anyways!) but still sticking to the core sound and ethos of all those great pieces of music that I more or less grew-up listening to and letting my imagination run wild in total nerd-like fashion in the 90’s. Pre-Internet era had some major fucking advantages – as well as disadvantages – when it came to music, especially this kind. Much like 90’s black metal, this was all wrapped in a shroud of mystique and a veil of obscurity. Where as most of my classmates where out doing god-knows-what, your favorite blogger was in his bedroom trying to find and read as much as I could through Metal Maniacs and fanzines ordered. Totally left me day-dreaming on sunny school afternoons in the hot Florida weather about stuff like castles, dank moldy dungeons, and all sorts of cool nerdy shit. Yeah I may be eating member berries here but in all honesty, it’s the most fun I’ve had with member berries. It’s also a breath of fresh air from the now over-saturated Synthwave fad. Plus this is all one giant excuse for me to break out the jamz and NERD THE FUCK OUT!

I also need to note that not only will I discuss the importance of Norway in this series, but also delve into what led up and inspired Norway to start tapping on their Casio keyboards as well. I’ll also discuss the primary Norwegian artists who took from a previous generation and gave birth to what is happening now in 2017. Also I always give credit where credit is due and there are several other websites that have touched upon this subject and gone further into it more than I might possibly. Bandcamp.com were the first to break open the pandora’s box on this new form of music earlier this year.  No Clean Singing has done a really excellent job and has their own series going for them and I highly recommend checking them out. NCS even named shit that I never even heard of back then, so while reminiscing of old times, I also got a good history lesson on a sub-genre that expanded way past the fjords of Dungeon Synth epic-center in Norway. So let us begin this discussion with some pieces from of this new explosion of sp00ky music. Starting with it’s origins and roots:

ORIGINS OF AMBIENT SYNTH MUSIC IN BLACK METAL:


Possibly the earliest example of the concept of an extreme metal band using dark ambient influences in their music. And what other artists besides the mythological and legendary Tom G. Warrior (Hellhammer/Celtic Frost/Triptykon) to fucking look decades ahead of him with his usual visions of mortality? If anything this track from the classic “Morbid Tales” EP is more Goblin-inspired. It sounds like it was taken from the “Susperia” soundtrack than anything Tangerine Dream did in the 80’s. More horror-based than fantasy if anything. For 1984, I’m sure this was truly terrifying.


Canada’s Blasphemy are another black metal artist who more or less was ahead of the curve. The intro to their 1989 “Blood From The Altar” demo was less soundtrack inspired, and way more ritual chant-ish. And the said can be said for the even better “Winds Of The Black Godz” intro to their classic 1990 “Fallen Angel of Doom” LP. It could be noted that the Nords took more influence from these rabid Canucks in terms of direction in the early days than trying to worry about how synths could be tied in with cheesy symphonic elements that would later happen and completely water the effects of synth keyboards and fucking up the entire concept of ambiance and atmosphere. Hell, even Mayhem weren’t this spooky ambient-sounding with their “Silvester Anfang” intro to their “Deathcrush” demo which itself was released in 1987 a mere two years before Blasphemy. Which now brings me to the discussion of Norway of this series.

ROOTS OF DUNGEON SYNTH:


Although not what one would think of Dungeon Synth, Mayhem‘s “Silvester Anfang” would be the earliest usages of ambient music used by a Norwegian band done in a very dark nature and made none other than Conrad Schnitzler of the ever-influential Tangerine Dream. This track was the opening song for the now legendary “Deathcrush” demo by Norway’s Mayhem. For all intents and purposes, Euronymous was definitely forward thinking even during Mayhem’s most rawest and primitive form. In fact, because of Euronymous….this was the green light for 2nd wave Norwegian Black Metal artist to pry and use ambient pieces and passages to use in their music that still happens to this very fucking day.


Burzum‘s  “Han Som Reiste” is probably the next piece of dark ambient music to come into existence. Released around the same summer as the first Mortiis demo, Burzum’s take is less military-esque drum march sounding and more dreary-sounding giving is a more ominous vibe. Again for only one or two songs and not an entire album of this. Even though Mortiis would be the first to release an entire demo/album of synth music, for Varg to release such a feat that would come years down the road. It also should be noted that next to Mortiis, his ambient material was the best. The major difference between Varg of Burzum and Mortiis was that Varg’s ambient material was more historically and culturally-influence as opposed to the straight out fantasy landscape that Mortiis created.


Wongraven was a side-project of Satyricon members. By 1995 just damn near every Norweigian musician had an ambient side-project or every Norweigian band were using synths or ambient passages in their music mixing it with black metal. This album never really popped-up on my radar that much back in the day. People knew about it, but it didn’t get the amount of speak as say Burzum, Mortiis, or even Summoning.


Austria’s Summoning was probably one of the bigger names outside of Norway/Sweden that was mentioned when discussing about Dungeon Synth at the time. Over time Summoning would go more orchestral and symphonic-sounding. Think of a black metal version of Sweden’s Therion for that particular period. But for their first handful of releases, they were strictly ambient/synth. A big thing was that while Mortiis stayed more strictly to mythological Norwegian creatures and moldy castle basements, Summoning picked-up on what Varg was doing in Burzum and went full-force and saying “Yeah it’s total Lord Of The Rings/Dungeons & Dragons nerd shit going on here. Nothing dark about us, we’re just trying to roll a 7 or 8 in hopes of defeating the Swamps demons so our horses don’t get stuck in the Marshlands.” I’m sure if my fiancee’ were to read this, she would hang her head in shame and think “God he is such a fucking NERD!” Sorry Babe :/


Germany took a stab at the whole Norway thing with Depressive Silence. Both their “The Darkened Empires” and “Depressive Silence” demos are interesting in the fact that this was pretty obscure even to me. In fact I will note that while doing this, I had to do my detective work to find more earlier 90’s pieces of Dungeon Synth music. Depressive Silence is still medieval, but it’s a shade or so lighter that the Norwegians. Not as dark and brooding. Still very troll-y. There’s even parts that are very classical-inspired as well. I’m pretty surprised and proof positive if I had heard this as a teen in the 90’s, I would worship this next to Mortiis’ discography.


Neptune Towers was Darkthrone‘s very own Fenriz’s take on Norway obsession with dark ambient synth music. Only he took his to a more psychedelic/classic Tangerine Dream route possibly keeping it closer to the roots at what Mayhem did on their “Deathcrush” demo than Mortiis or Burzum did. I wouldn’t say that Neptune Towers is a direct influence but it should definitely be noted as well for future reference. Going back and listening to this, has it aged well? Meh. It’s still good, but this is definitely geared more towards proggy nerds and the like.


Varg had been toying with ambient music on his albums tastefully and wonderfully for years but never going into full-album delivery. He finally did with the 1997 release of music he originally wrote in prison in late 1994/1995. The first of two releases he did was titled “Dauði Baldrs” which originally was not well-received and seen a bit as a dud. Then a year or so after that release, here comes a second full-length dark ambient album titled “Hliðskjálf” which in turn is the better out LP out of the two. The second song, “Ansuzgardaraiwô” is wallet-worthy and a testament to Varg’s ability to craft better music than actual life decisions whether you agree with him or not. 

That is the end of the first part of this series. I know what you are thinking……where the fuck is Mortiis? I know I’ve name-dropped him several times already and haven’t posted any pieces by him. I guess you will have to wait until the next part of the Dungeon Synth Series where I dedicate an entire section to the artist and go into all-out nerd fandom mode. Until then, keep it creepy, ooky, and all-together sp00ky.

Language: The Art Of Watering Down

Neill Jameson (who I’m sure you’re by now familiar with) wrote a think-tank piece about the continuing entropy-like process that is happening to the concept and abstract idea of having a logical and mature adult conversation on social media on just about ANYTHING one says. He also spoke of some artist which I am still very confused with and having conflicting feelings about. Much like your Dad when he was having a tough time deciding between purchasing Swank Magazine and “Guys Butts Drive Me Nuts Vol.8” on VHS back in the 80’s.  Anyway, crass humor aside, Neill explains that now we’re getting to the point where discussion is all but a meaningless futile high school debate team class in session, but fuck if high school kids aren’t at times more mature than adults in 2017. He says that “These days, trying to have civil discourse—especially in the realm of metal—is like attempting to force feed a newborn an entire watermelon. I’m sure it can be done, if cartoons taught me anything, but the baby will just bitch that it wasn’t in season.” I for one cannot argue with this statement. But that got me to wondering; if the idea and concept of an actual discussion is going out the window then what the fuck is happening to the language that we are using? Don’t worry, I won’t lecture you about any bullshit preferred pronouns or anything dealing with the politically correct. I’ll leave that up to Metalsucks along with the white guilt. You won’t find any of that here.

This particular think-tank piece Neill Jameson wrote was inspired by an artist who parades around with the label “black metal” but is nothing except the pure hipster irony- full of sassy wit – much like fucking everything in 2017 with the exception having accidently been diagnosed with an infected scrotum. The said artist’s MUSIC wasn’t terrible by any means but was still fucking lazy and uninspired even though the music could have passed off at a C- in my book. And in the lengthy 300+ comment conversation that inspired Neill’s article, all I read were the same old comments and excuses and defenses, etc. about “tr00 kvlt” and “elitists.” Constant finger-pointing and jabs at things that don’t really fucking exist in 2017. And it made me again ask the ol’ question that ever since I started this blog, I have been asking which is loudly screaming in my mind “WHERE ARE THESE SO-CALLED FUCKING ELITISTS?” and what the fuck exactly is “kvlt” in 2017?

This lead me to realizing not only discussions are in danger of extinction, but language in and of itself. When we start tagging certain words onto anything we don’t agree with we not only end up in an upside down world where Donald Trump is President, and fully grown adults believe that the Earth is actually flat. It’s also where loudmouth toxic cis scum such as myself take a step back and starts calling bullshit on everything. Much like using the word “racist” in 2017 where it’s damn-near lost all meaning and value through over-usage. You can add words such as “elitist,” “kvlt” and just about any other preferred snub at the underground that you can think of to that list. Any word that can be used against die-hards and maniacs in the underground, or anyone that is extremely passionate about non-mainstream forms of music are constantly targeted as the bane of music’s existence. Which is funny to me because given my age (I’m hurtling towards 35 in March btw), because a lot of these words meant something completely different 20 years ago when I was 14 going onto 15. Yes I understand I’m reaching my old man yelling at the clouds stage in life, but there’s a point to what I yell at.

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“Oh you don’t like Sacred Son? Sorry that not everyone can listen to tr00 kvlt bands 24/7 such as you, but a lot of us see the irony in it and that’s what mainly counts in music these days nevermind that the music is worth fuck all.” 

History Lesson: In 1997 the word “elitist” didn’t even fucking EXIST for the most part. Nor did it find it’s way into the magazines such as Metal Edge, Circus Magazine, or Hit Parader. “Elitist” use to mean that you were or you considered yourself of the same quality of music as Norway. That was strictly a black metal musician’s term. And if you used it improperly you were given death threats or had dead rats sent to your mailbox as a way of calling you out on your bullshit. “KVLT” was originally “cult” which originally meant something pretty obscure. And in pre-Internet times, obscure was abundant. It was something that you HAD to go out, do your detective work, search for the clues that lead to whatever it was that you were looking for. Now anyone with a WiFi signal and access to Youtube can find anything at a click of a button in less than a second. Completely bypassing the time and patience it took in a generation or so prior to search out and develop an honest and passionate fan level appreciation for the artist. Nowadays, any two-bit mainstream deathcore band that wears white belts and vintage Death Row Records shirts from Hot Topic uses “elitists” as a way to lash out at their fans who basically say “Your new album sucks balls and you’re full of shit if you are trying to fool anyone by saying that you are ‘progressing’ and ‘evolving.'” Or if you are a fan and you think something is horseshit, you are called an ‘elitist’ and thought of as some basement-dweller that only listens to crappy NSBM bands that only has 50 copies of their demo on cassette form. Or some other over-used stereotype like that. But why Metal? Noise genre musicians are the leaders in terms of obscurity if we are comparing apples to oranges. In fact Noise artists puts Black Metal to shame as far as limited releases and obscurity. Nobody gives Noise artists any shit for such genre characteristics. And on top of that if there is one thing I have noticed is that if there are actual elitists of the metal kind out there, then they are keeping to themselves. Why? Because someone who is actually something doesn’t go around professing it and telling everyone. And if you a person who does the opposite, I can personally see thru your transparency. It’s like some chalk-white, stock motherfucker going around saying “I’m a funny dude’ and has the comedy level of Amy Schumer. In other words; you are NOT funny. So if you are a self-proclaimed “elitist”…..I can assure you that you more than likely listen to 87th rate bands that sound worse than the 50th rate bargain bin bands I listened to when you were still in your Avenged Sevenfold phase, dude. In the amount of time that I’ve been listening to underground Metal for the past 20 years, I can honestly fucking say that I have met/talked to possibly no more people than what I can count on my right hand that actually defined the term “elitist.” That’s about 5 total. These individuals for one do NOT even remotely talk to people on social media, let alone jump into a fucking Youtube comment section and argue with some snot-nosed 18 year old who is trying to revision the past.

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“Despite all of your valid points, I just called you a tr00 kvlt elitst through the usage of my wit. I win the argument. I was born in 1994 btw.” – Metal Discussions in 2017

And it doesn’t stop there.  The word “kvlt” is a meme as well. That word went from being regular ol’ ‘cult’ to having a shitload of tourists come in, steal and use it in the cringe form of “kvlt.” Don’t even get me started on the word “tr00.” “tr00” use to mean “true” which again use to actually meaning something. It meant you were getting the real deal Holyfield of music. When used in terms of black metal, it usually meant a band with real convictions, a dedication to general negativity, and all-around fucked-up individuals that made everyone around you think you beyond any help. Now, along with “kvlt” it’s also used in meme-worthy internet jargon. It doesn’t mean jack shit outside of someone replying to your statement. A good example would be “Oh you don’t like Sacred Son because you are some tr00 kvlt person that only listens to horribly produced music that sounds like it’s from 1998.” Which is sad because how does one differentiate between something that is OBVIOUSLY watered-down, plastic, disposable crap and something that is more durable, time-worthy, wallet-worthy, and actually DOES deserve the music fan’s support. The same goes for words such as “real.”  Hell even the word “Metal” is associated with a couple 12 year old Japanese girls who’s record label’s A&R executives should be fired and sent to prison for promoting a disgusting new form of kiddie porn. A lot of the coded language that the underground redefined itself with for the majority of the 90’s has sadly become nothing more than euphemistic wording that is associated with memes. And two-second wittiness and cheap jokes. And some people don’t actually know the difference between what’s real and authentic and something that is fake and a fucking joke.

If there is a resolution I can propose to this minor problem that continues to force me to yell a what seems like a brick wall, is to basically do this: treat others with respect and not sound like an insufferable condescending butthole. Yes, I understand that most of what I write may come off that, but the main difference I try to do is to possible educate, look for alternatives, and try to get people to have a better understanding of certain things and hope for the best. I know that is a pipe dream at the end of the day, but like I said; it’s 2017 and anything is fucking possible. I mean if Sacred Son can come along and try to pass his music off on those of us who know better then I know we as the collective Metal underground can find ways to be the better man, use our heads and try having a civil discussion even when you have people throwing words out  at us because they simply disagree with us despite our conservative stance on things. All while us saying “Fuck you” nicely. It’s possible and it’s it’s one of the things I am being optimistic about. Reason being is that regardless of my age and weird fucking time-frame I currently live in, I still love the underground. I still love black metal. I still love bands that use the whole corpse paint and spike-y image even though I would prefer that Americans leave that shit to the Euros when it comes to black metal imagery. I still do get giddy whenever I see younger generations take an actual general interest in black metal for the right reasons. I’m not completely without optimism.

Aside from my complaints and grievances, I’m not actually worried. The underground does have one thing to it’s advantage, and that it has a way of re-defining itself to go against the grain. It has it’s inner machinations that keeps itself at a relatively safe distance from mainstream society despite seeing the masses of Slipknot fans in FB comment sections worrying about Kim Kardashian wearing a fucking Morbid Angel shirt. These are the types of people turn around who laugh at terrible Metal memes that have Abbath from Immortal in it standing next to a cat in a bathtub and it says something fucking facepalm-inducing such as “This cat is about to take ABBATH!” (No I didn’t laugh btw) Bottom line: If you go by the words used by people who don’t listen to Metal (that statement is directed at mainly certain websites, not naming names btw), but still try to govern what you are and are not allowed to listen to, then yeah you’re lost on that one and I really can’t help you. But if you are a logical and rational human being who enjoys critical thinking and doesn’t hop onto one of the many online social media dog-piles, then congratulations for getting this far into 2017: You’ve already proven yourself worthy to talk to on FB. Believe it, Comrades.