Music From The Labyrinth: Part One – Minotauro Records…

Music From The Labyrinth: Part One

By Andy “Dinger” Beresky

 

 So….I was record shopping in lovely downtown Northampton one fateful afternoon, and ran into this dude Glenn, who works for the Italian label Minotauro Records.  I’m not sure exactly how his collaboration with the label came to pass, though we got to talking music: cool bands from New England we’d both been big on, such as Ogre, whose back catalog was re-released by Minotauro Records, incidentally.  At any rate, all good things come to an end, and when Glenn and I parted ways, we planned on staying in touch, and he said he’d send me some stuff to review over at Taste Nation LLC.  Well, as it turned out, he sent me quite a bit of material to review!!  I was thinking of different ways to approach this, maybe figure out what the priorities are, see if any of the writers wanted to take on some of the work.  It seems that everyone else here at Taste Nation always has a ton on their plate, and this was kind of my pet project, so I decided that I’d just forge ahead and do a feature on Minotauro, and basically write mini-reviews of each of the albums that Glenn sent me.

Now, that’s STILL a lot for me to take in and process, and like a lot of my creative endeavors, it really took on a life of its own.  With that being said, I’ve decided that I’m going to break down the feature into two parts, with a longer biographical element on Minotauro in the second part of the feature.

Without further adieu, strap on your shields folks, as we take a trip into the labyrinth, the lair of the Minotaur, in search of our proverbial Daedalus within the dark depths of Italian underground doom and metal….

Where the Sun Comes Down_Album Cover

 

Where The Sun Comes Down – Welcome

Minotauro  – 2017

This collaboration between Death SS founding member Thomas Hand Chaste and Alex Scardavian, who played with Paul Chain, has some of the more interesting cover art I’ve seen of late.  It looks like a child’s drawing done with magic markers, though it’s none-the-less intriguing, especially given the reputation of the folks involved.  This led me to reach for this album first and foremost.  What I really liked about it was that it bucked all cliches of metal and doom in general, and I had no idea what to expect when I pressed play on the album.  Would it be similar to Paul Chain’s material post Death SS?  Even then, Chain’s projects and various solo albums haven’t all sounded the same, and have explored various styles and aspects of his personality.   Would Where The Sun Comes Down opt for a more psychedelic or space rock sound?

It’s actually pretty close to what I’d initially expected: ultra raw cult doom with dramatic, emotional, over-the-top vocals, noisy, blown out Sabbathian riffing, off the cuff guitar and saxophone solos, a sparse yet powerful rhythm section, and haunting keyboards, all delivered with a heavy emphasis on atmosphere, theatrics and the bizarre.  I don’t pull any punches and I’m not going to do so here either: it’s called “cult doom” for a reason.  It’s not going to appeal to everyone, and it’s not meant to.  The vocals alone are a hard sell, as they’re all over the place and quite frequently strained and/or out of tune.  That’s not a deal breaker for me personally, as they have moments when they really shine, and they’re a vital part of the whole experience.  They add a flair for the avante garde, and they make me feel like I’m living in a horror movie for the duration of the album.  This is the perfect soundtrack for October….

Grand Delusion_Supreme Machine

Grand Delusion – Supreme Machine

Minotauro – 2017

Sweden’s The Grand Delusion play pretty traditional doom metal with a focus on the metal.  Blending Black Sabbath, NWOBHM and 80’s metal influences with Wino inspired biker blues licks, big stoner tones,  and just enough experimentation with psychedelic sections and additional instrumentation to keep things interesting.  The vocals also offer up a nice cross-section of influence and variety, from the full throated bellows of the first two tracks, to the Iron Maiden-esque epicness of the two-part “Trail Of The Seven Scorpions” and the operatic choir chants of “Imperator.”

This is a really solid release.  I like the production a lot – it’s fairly clean and polished, and the sheer variety of cool guitar tones and well written compositions benefit from this approach.  There’s a lot of more mid to uptempo sections, which keeps it from feeling like a slog.  They’re not reinventing the wheel by any means, as that’s a tough feet with doom.  However, if you’re bored of the same monotonous stoner doom fare, this is both a bit more nuanced and upbeat.  It wears its influences well, giving them all a chance to shine and never sounding merely derivative.

Kroh_Altars

Kroh – Altars

Minotauro – 2017

 

Birmingham UK occult doom crew Kroh also bring a refreshing take to the table with their second album.  With a new lineup and new vocalist, Polish born Oliwia Sobieszek, they craft a captivating, dark and mesmerizing take on traditional doom metal.  This sound revolves heavily around the powerful and ever prominent vocals and slim song arrangements.  None of the tunes overstay their welcome, all clocking in at under the five minute mark or so, which is a mixed blessing.  In one sense, it makes the album stand out, a concise statement trimmed of all excess.  On the other hand, sometimes the lack of expansive parts makes the songs feel stifled and abrupt.  There’s also the impending sense of predictability when all the songs follow a similar format.  I personally like a bit of decadence here and there, and I certainly like variety.  It’s the spice of life, as a wise woman once sagely stated.  With all that being said, this is a great record, and makes ample space for improvement on future albums.

It’s worth noting that the guitar sound on this album is one of the meanest and most distinctive I’ve heard in recent years.  It’s got that massively distorted, “swarm of bees” hyper-fuzz going on, and it  also retains much of the notes clarity rather than just becoming a blur of notes.  This alone makes this one worth a listen,  just hearing those righteous, crushingly oppressive guitar riffs coupled with the haunting vocals.

Ufosonic Generator_The Evil Smoke Possession

Ufosonic Generator – The Evil Smoke Possession

 Well, once again, this is totally not what I was expecting based on the name, illustrating the old adage that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  I was expecting something a little more space-y, of the more cosmic doom variety, and that’s simply not the case. Ufosonic Generator play pretty straightforward stoner metal, complete with Garcia inspired vocals, uptempo songs with righteous boogie breakdowns, a rock solid rhythm section, and scorching guitar solos.  The songs are a bit paint by numbers – you’re not going to get many surprises, and the influences are the usual suspects: Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Dozer.  You get the idea; it’s a tried and true one.

I dig what Ufosonic Generator are doing on this album.  Its approach is both charming and disarming, just four peeps really going for that proverbial “it”, with songs served meat and potatoes style, lean and mean.  There’s certainly some standout tracks with killer riffs going on throughout.  I’m not going to spoil the magic by giving you the play-by-play, song-by-song analysis.  You’re going to have to do the heavy lifting and figure out for yourself which songs make your mind soar and your booty shake.

Funeral Marmoori_The Deer Woman

Funeral Marmoori – The Deer Woman

Italy’s Funeral Marmoori have a classic doom sound with a 70’s horror tinged vibe, thanks largely to the excellent usage of Farfisa organs, which make them sound like a more evil version of Deep Purple or Uriah Heep at times.  It’s cool to hear a band that has such an intense interplay between the guitars and keyboards, just like the days of old.  They wear some of their other influences on their sleeves, a bit of Saint Vitus styled gonzo guitar solos, some vocal mannerisms reminiscent of Lee Dorrian’s work in Cathedral, and of course a heavy debt to all things Paul Chain.  Hell, they even cover a Death SS song, “Profanation.”

One of the things I really like about this album is the way that the vocals alternate between sounding more theatrical and more psychedelic.  Similarly, there’s excellent variation in the guitar parts: sometimes we’re treated to righteous Sabbath-inspired riffs, other times more otherworldly explorations and introspective moments.  The thing that really makes this one work for me is the rhythm section – the busy bass and drum work keep things moving forward.  The Deer Woman never gets dragged down into the gloomy realms of excessively downtempo dirges, while the music always retains its evil edge.  Highly recommended for fans of cult and traditional doom metal.

Ancient Spell_Forever in Hell

Ancient Spell – Forever In Hell

Los Angeles’ Ancient Spell bring something much different to the table, with a decidedly more modern take on doom metal.  It’s really telling that they list Death, Slayer and Lamb Of God as influences, because they bear more resemblance to these bands than Black Sabbath or Saint Vitus.  The vocals in particular are more on the death metal end of the spectrum, harsh growls and drastic screams with dark and misanthropic themes.  The guitars definitely utilize those chromatic style intervals that Slayer famously made into their trademark, and alternate between a thrash chug and a doom groove.  Though the tempos can get pretty quick for a more doom influenced band, they never approach anything near the breakneck tempos associated with either thrash or death metal.

in keeping with the thrash tradition, this is a pretty short and sweet album, clocking in at under 40 minutes.  That’s a good thing, as there’s not a ton of variety.  It’s interesting to see a band bring together such diverse influences, and this feels like an album where they’re trying to figure out how to make all of those influences come together into something coherent.  While it certainly never lacks in that department (their sound is fluid and polished, and never sounds forced), I think they have a lot of room to grow and try other things.  I’d love to see them incorporate some of the aforementioned faster parts, some death or black metal styled tremolo picking, some super slow doom bridges and breakdowns.  Forever In Hell seems like a great jumping off point for a band that has lots of room to grow and develop.

 

Tony-Tears-Follow-the-signs

Tony Tears – Follow The Signs of The Times

Wow, what an opening to an album!!  This one starts off with a brief intro that could straight up be a Goblin track that’s part of a D’Argento soundtrack.  It nails that sound with a combination of synth washes, blurps and appergiated chords, overlaid with creepy, demonic voices.  From there, we’re treated to more cult, esoteric doom in the traditional Italian style – darkly dramatic vocals reminiscent of King Diamond, 70’s metal riffs, ever present keyboards and a battering ram rhythm section of bass and drums.  True to form, they even cover a Paul Chain song.

I really dig on the production job here.  For me personally, cult doom has to have just the right production: grimy and cavernous, yet with enough clarity to let each individual instrument shine.  Follow The Signs of The times showcases exactly how this is pulled off.  I also really enjoyed the three shorter tracks (intro, an interlude, and an outro) that pull off that Italian horror soundtrack vibe so convincingly.  It’s always great to hear a band so refined in their craft!  Apparently Tony Tears started off as a solo outlet for Antonio Polidori, though he has since added a full band of backing and touring musicians, and I must say that I’m impressed with the results.

My Silent Wake_Damnatio Memoriae

My Silent Wake – Damnatio Memoriae

 Hailing from England, My Silent Wake are another band in the world of doom with decidedly modern influences, most noticeably of the death metal/goth metal variety.  However, that ain’t the end of the story.  There’s also a modern progressive slant to the songwriting and arrangements that keeps things fresh and dare I say, lively?  Take the intro to the song “Highwire” for example, with its bouncing bassline and bursts of jazzy, dissonant chords.  The album is loaded with tons of tempting little musical moments like this, and it makes for a rather refreshing listen.

Basically, if you’re into The Peaceville Three….you’re going to like this.  I’m generally not into the more goth doom bands like Paradise Lost, Anathema, and My Dying Bride.  I do like this album by My Silent Wake, as it’s got a lot of variation, tons of twists and turns.  The keyboards add a nice texture, it ‘s got a clear production, some strategic usage of guest musicians, and they’ve clearly got the chops.  Fans of the bands I’ve mentioned should give this a swing, it’s rather righteous in its ambition and scope of vision.

Misantropus_The Gnomes

Misantropus – The Gnomes

 Oh cool, another album with some truly bizarre and iconoclastic cover art, this one a simple cartoon looking drawing of what I’d assume to be a trio of green gnomes.   I’ve talked earlier about the lack of longer numbers in discussing the other albums, and although this Misantropus album is rather short on the whole, tracking in at just above 35 minutes, it’s only four songs.  So….we’re treated to a 9 and a half minute opening track and closer pushing the 13 minute mark.

http://www.minotaurorecords.com/shop/cd/misantropus-the-gnomes-copy/

These guys are obviously into the occult, as the song titles indicate. “The Gnomes (Ariel)”, “The Salamander (Mikhael)”, “Undines (Gabriel)” and “Elis (Raphael)” all connect an  elemental spirit to the corresponding archangel for each of the Greek elements: earth, fire, water, and air.  It’s obviously some kind of concept album, or ritual invocation – only the creators, an Italian duo, would know for certain.  It definitely creates an air of mystery and intrigue.  Musically, it’s an equally odd piece, consisting mainly of a variations on one stripped down guitar and bass riff with a trance-like drum beat.  There’s a guest guitar solo on the second track, and some cool ambient synth passages that bookmark the beginning and end of the album, and zero vocals.  Their stripped down instrumental approach levies them in my eyes as the Karma To Burn of Italian cult doom.

Once again, this is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  It’s extremely monotonous, with very few changes, even from song to song.  And while this may sound boring to some, and honestly left me pretty non-plussed initially, I found myself out humming those riffs in my head as I went out and ran my errands today.  There’s something rather captivating and enchanting about them.  If this sounds like your kind of jams, hey….I’d encourage you to give it a listen.

Additional Links to Minotauro Records:
http://www.minotaurorecords.com/https://
www.facebook.com/minotaurorecords/
https://minotaurorecords.bandcamp.com/

Label Logo 2


Matthew Thomas’ Top 60 Albums of 2017 + Top 10 EPs + Links to Listen…

Matthew Thomas’ Top 60 Albums of 2017

Top 10 EPs of 2017 + Links to Listen & Buy

 

1. Junius – Eternal Rituals for the Accretion of Light

https://junius-official.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-rituals-for-the-accretion-of-light

 

2. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

3. Elder – Reflections of a Floating World

https://beholdtheelder.bandcamp.com/album/reflections-of-a-floating-world

 

4. Samsara Blues Experiment –  One With The Universe

https://samsarabluesexperiment.bandcamp.com/album/one-with-the-universe

 

5. Racquet Club – Racquet Club

http://riserecords.merchnow.com/catalogs/racquet-club

 

6. Hobosexual – Monolith

https://hobosexualmusic.bandcamp.com/album/monolith

 

7. Kadavar – Rough Times

http://kadavar.com/

 

8. Our Ceasing Voice – Free Like Tonight

http://music.our-ceasing-voice.com/album/free-like-tonight

 

9. Bask – Ramble Beyond

https://basknc.bandcamp.com/

 

10. Wolf Parade – Cry Cry Cry

https://wolfparade.bandcamp.com/album/cry-cry-cry

 

11. Telekinetic Yeti – Abominable

https://telekineticyeti.bandcamp.com/album/abominable

 

12. Sorority Noise – You’re Not As ___ As You Think

https://sororitynoise.bandcamp.com/album/youre-not-as-as-you-think

 

13. Ethereal Riffian – Afterlight DVD

https://etherealriffian.bandcamp.com/

 

14. Quicksand – Interiors

https://quicksandnyc.bandcamp.com/album/interiors

 

15. Spidergawd – IV

https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/spidergawd-iv/

 

16. Forming the Void – Relic

https://formingthevoid.bandcamp.com/album/relic

 

17. All Them Witches – Sleeping Through the War

https://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-through-the-war

 

18. House of Lightning – Self Titled

https://houseoflightning.bandcamp.com/album/house-of-lightning

 

19. The Black Angels – Death Song

http://theblackangels.com/

 

20. Pallbearer – Heartless

https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/heartless

 

21. Ohhms – The Fool

https://ohhms.bandcamp.com/album/the-fool

 

22. VOKONIS – THE SUNKEN DJINN

https://vokonis.bandcamp.com/album/the-sunken-djinn

 

23. Mother Mars – On Lunar Highlands

https://mothermars.bandcamp.com/

 

24. Crackhouse – Be No One.  Be Nowhere.

https://crackhouseofficialband.bandcamp.com/album/be-no-one-be-nothing-2

 

25. LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

https://www.amazon.com/american-dream-LCD-Soundsystem/dp/B073Z99YP4/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1514830700&sr=1-1&keywords=lcd+soundsystem+vinyl

 

26. The Atomic Bitchwax – Force Field

https://theatomicbitchwax.bandcamp.com/

 

27. Spaceslug – Time Travel Dilemma

https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/album/time-travel-dilemma

 

28. Slowdive – Self Titled

https://slowdive.bandcamp.com/album/slowdive

 

29. Nekromant – Snakes and Liars

https://nekromant.bandcamp.com/album/snakes-liars

 

30. Frozen Planet…1969 – From the Centre of A Parallel Universe

https://peppershakerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/from-the-centre-of-a-parallel-universe

 

31. Egypt – Cracks and Lines

https://egypt1.bandcamp.com/

 

32. Electric Orange – EOXXV

https://electricorange.bandcamp.com/album/eoxxv

 

33. Electric Age – Sleep of the Silent King

https://electricagela.bandcamp.com/album/sleep-of-the-silent-king

 

34. Comacozer – Kalos Eidos Skopeo

https://comacozer.bandcamp.com/album/kalos-eidos-skopeo

 

35. Pink Frost – New Minds

https://pinkfrost.bandcamp.com/

 

36. Deaf Radio – Alarm

https://deafradio.bandcamp.com/album/alarm

 

37. Red Scalp – Lost Ghosts

https://redscalp.bandcamp.com/album/lost-ghosts-2

 

38. Earth Drive – Stellar Drone

https://earthdrive.bandcamp.com/

 

39. I, Captain – Tiid

https://icaptain.bandcamp.com/album/tiid-2

 

40. Red Mountains – A Slow Wander

https://redmountains.bandcamp.com/album/slow-wander

 

41. Olde – Temple

https://stbrecords.bandcamp.com/album/olde-temple-2

 

42. Devil Electric – Self Titled

https://devilelectric.bandcamp.com/album/devil-electric

 

43. Sautrus – Anthony Hill

https://sautrus.bandcamp.com/album/anthony-hill

 

44. The Janitors – Horn Ur Marken

https://thejanitors.bandcamp.com/album/horn-ur-marken

 

45. Electric Moon – Stardust Rituals

https://electric-moon.bandcamp.com/album/stardust-rituals

 

46. The Re-Stoned – Chronoclasm

https://re-stoned.bandcamp.com/

 

47. Clouds Taste Satanic – The Glitter of Infinite Hell

https://cloudstastesatanic.bandcamp.com/album/the-glitter-of-infinite-hell

 

48. Ufomammut – 8

https://ufomammut.bandcamp.com/album/8-2

 

49. Lamina – Lilith

https://ragingplanet.bandcamp.com/album/l-mina-lilith

 

 

50. Space Witch – Arcanum

https://spacewitch.bandcamp.com/album/arcanum

 

The Final Tasty 10

 

51. Radio Moscow – New Beginnings

http://radiomoscow.net/

 

52. Geezer – Psychoriffadelia

https://geezertown.bandcamp.com/

 

53. Gypsy Sun Revival – Journey Outside of Time

https://gypsysunrevival.bandcamp.com/album/journey-outside-of-time

 

54. Tau Cross – Pillar of Fire

https://taucross.bandcamp.com/

 

55. Aphodyl // Cosmic Fall – Starsplit

https://psyka.bandcamp.com/album/starsplit

 

56. Summoner – Beyond The Realm of Light

https://summonerboston.bandcamp.com/

 

57. Contra – Deny Everything

https://robustfellow.bandcamp.com/album/deny-everything

 

58. Bloodnut – St. Ranga

https://bloodnut.bandcamp.com/

 

59. Poseidon – Prologue

https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/prologue

 

60. Propagandhi – Victory Lap

https://propagandhi.com/

 

 

Top 10 EPs of 2017

 

1. Mastodon – Cold Dark Place

http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

2. Howling Giant – Black Space Wizard Part 2

https://howlinggiant.bandcamp.com/album/black-hole-space-wizard-part-2

 

3. Kal-EL – Astrodoomeda

http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/music-/235-kal-el-astrodoomeda-lp.html

 

4. Cachemira – Jungla

https://cachemira.bandcamp.com/album/jungla-2

 

5. Derelics – Guilty of Being Young

https://derelics.bandcamp.com/album/guilty-of-being-young

 

6. Bad Monster Black – Diablo

https://badmonsterblack.bandcamp.com/album/diablo-ep

 

7. MAIRA – EP

https://maira.bandcamp.com/album/ep

 

8. Traffic Death – Dead End

https://sumppumprecords.bandcamp.com/album/dead-end

 

9. 1968 – 1968 EP

https://1968band.bandcamp.com/releases

 

10. Norea – Norea

https://norea.bandcamp.com/


Ric “Suisyko” Dorr’s Top 25 Albums of 2017 + Links…

Ric “Suisyko” Dorr’s TOP 25 Albums of 2017

In NO particular order…

 

Matthew James & The Rust Belt Union – Impromptu Musicals For The Skeptic

https://sumppumprecords.bandcamp.com/album/impromptu-musicals-for-the-skeptic

 

Rex Brown – Smoke On This

http://rexbrown.net/

 

Egypt – Cracks And Lines

https://egypt1.bandcamp.com/

 

Electric Age – Sleep Of The Silent King

https://electricagela.bandcamp.com/album/sleep-of-the-silent-king

 

All Them Witches – Sleeping Through The War

https://allthemwitches.bandcamp.com/album/sleeping-through-the-war

 

Bask – Ramble

https://basknc.bandcamp.com/

 

Bronze – Self Titled

No link…
Dool – Here Now, There Then

https://dool-nl.bandcamp.com/album/here-now-there-then

 

Dopelord – Children Of The Haze

https://dopelord.bandcamp.com/

 

Collide – Color Of Nothing

https://collide1.bandcamp.com/

 

Fairtrade Floyd – In Money We Trust

https://fairtradefloyd.bandcamp.com/album/in-money-we-trust

 

Freedom Hawk – Sunlight (Remastered)

https://freedomhawk.bandcamp.com/album/sunlight

 

Lo-Pan – In Tensions

https://lo-pan-rock.bandcamp.com/album/in-tensions

 

Helmer – Self Titled

https://stevilhelmer.bandcamp.com/

 

Mothersloth – Moon Omen

https://mothersloth.bandcamp.com/

 

Otus – 7-38Hz

https://otus783.bandcamp.com/

 

Plainride – Return Of The Jackalope (Re-issue)

https://plainride.bandcamp.com/album/return-of-the-jackalope

 

Poste 942 – Long Play

https://poste942.bandcamp.com/album/long-play

 

Sautrus – Anthony Hill

https://sautrus.bandcamp.com/

 

Void Cruiser – Wayfarer

https://voidcruiser.bandcamp.com/album/wayfarer

 

El Colosso – Pathways

https://elcolosso.bandcamp.com/album/pathways

 

Fire Down Below – Viper, Vixen, Goddess, Saint (Re-issue)

https://firedownbelow.bandcamp.com/album/viper-vixen-goddess-saint

 

Murder Love God – The Negative (EP)

https://murderlovegod.bandcamp.com/releases

 

Savanah – The Healer

https://savanah1.bandcamp.com/

 

The Sky Is – Telepathie

https://theskyis.bandcamp.com/album/t-l-pathie

__ __ __ __ __ __ ___ __ __ ___ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ ___ __ __ ___ ___ __ __

HONORABLE MENTION Dimebag Darrell The Hits

https://www.amazon.com/Dimebag-Darrell-RSD-Record-Store-Day-Hitz-Limited/dp/B076CVWQXM/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1514655474&sr=1-1&keywords=dimebag+darrell+the+hitz

 


Andy Beresky’s Top 20 Albums of 2017 + Tip of the Cap + Disappointments + Links…

Andy “Dinger” Beresky’s Top 20 Albums, Honorable Mentions

& Biggest Disappointments of 2017

 

1. The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding

https://www.amazon.com/Deeper-Understanding-War-Drugs/dp/B072PT2R5P/ref=ice_ac_b_dpb?ie=UTF8&qid=1514561259&sr=8-1&keywords=the+war+on+drugs+a+deeper+understanding+vinyl

 

2. Slowdive – Slowdive

https://www.amazon.com/Slowdive/dp/B06XWNBCXG/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1514561338&sr=1-1&keywords=slowdive

 

3. Quicksand – Interiors

https://quicksandnyc.bandcamp.com/album/interiors

 

4. Converge – The Dusk In Us

https://convergecult.bandcamp.com/album/the-dusk-in-us

 

5. Pallbearer – Heartless

https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/heartless

 

6. Elder – Reflections Of A Floating World

https://beholdtheelder.bandcamp.com/album/reflections-of-a-floating-world

 

7. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

https://fatherjohnmisty.bandcamp.com/album/pure-comedy

 

8. Junius – Eternal Rituals for the Accretion Of Light

https://junius-official.bandcamp.com/album/eternal-rituals-for-the-accretion-of-light

 

9. Unearthly Trance – Stalking The Ghost

https://unearthlytrance.bandcamp.com/album/stalking-the-ghost

 

10. Queens Of The Stone Age – Villains

https://www.amazon.com/Villains-Queens-Stone-Age/dp/B071G99QQ2/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1514562030&sr=1-1&keywords=queens+of+the+stone+age+villains

 

11. The National – Sleep Well Beast

https://www.amazon.com/Sleep-Well-Beast-National/dp/B0716RP8ZH/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1514562142&sr=1-1&keywords=the+national+sleep+well+beast

 

12. Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard

http://www.electricfuckinwizard.com/

 

13. Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand

http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

14. Telekinetic Yeti – Abominable

https://telekineticyeti.bandcamp.com/album/abominable

 

15. Ruby The Hatchet – Planetary Space Child

https://thehatchet.bandcamp.com/album/planetary-space-child

 

16. Kadavar – Troubled Times

http://kadavar.com/

 

17. Pink Frost – New Minds

https://pinkfrost.bandcamp.com/album/new-minds

 

18. OHHMS – The Fool

https://ohhms.bandcamp.com/album/the-fool

 

19. Ufomammut – 8

https://ufomammut.bandcamp.com/album/8-2

 

20. Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun

https://temporaryresidence.bandcamp.com/album/every-countrys-sun

 

Honorable mentions:

Vokonis – The Sunken Djinn (Nice take on Sleep inspired stoner doom with a more stripped down edge)

https://vokonis.bandcamp.com/album/the-sunken-djinn

 

Monolord – Rust (A definite step towards a more original sound)

https://monolord.bandcamp.com/

 

Poseidon – Prologue (Nice take on YOB inspired doom metal)

https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/prologue

 

Primitive Man – Caustic (This is some righteous sludge, duder)

https://primitivemandoom.bandcamp.com/album/caustic

 

Kal-El – Astrodoomeda  (Very promising stoner doom, next time, leave off the Kyuss cover!!! Sweet Lucifer His Dark Majesty, just NO!!!!)

http://www.kal-el.no/

 

Disasteroid – Screen (Haven’t had the time for a full review and super critical listening, as I got it late in the year. Promising, inventful, and deserves a mention for certain.)

https://disastroid.bandcamp.com/

 

Biggest Disappointments:

Bell Witch – Mirror Reaper ( Really? Really????  This is what everyone is going so ga-ga about? This????)

https://bellwitch.bandcamp.com/album/mirror-reaper

At The Drive In – in•ter a•li•a  (You guys may want to take a listen to those new Slowdive and Quicksand albums, and use them as references for how to produce a proper comeback album)
https://www.atthedriveinofficialmerch.com/

Fleet Foxes – Crack-up (Yeah….this is pretty underwhelming for a comeback album as well, especially given the vitality of their earlier output)
http://fleetfoxes.co/crack-up

Also pretty surprised that Ufomammut made a decent album and didn’t end up on here, as I generally reserve them a spot under Biggest Disappointments.  Their latest did not disappoint me.


Zachary “+Norway+” Turner’s Top 25 Album of 2017 + Links…

Zachary “+Norway+” Turner’s Top 25 Albums of 2017

 

In No Particular Order…

 

Hobosexual – Monolith  (Kitchentable)
(https://hobosexualmusic.bandcamp.com/album/monolith)

 

Mastodon – Cold Dark Place (Reprise Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Dark-Place-Mastodon/dp/B074TZZLBD)

 

Björk – Utopia – (One Little Indian Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Utopia-Bj%C3%B6rk/dp/B076V9PBST)

 

Roger Waters – Is This the Life We Really Want? – (Columbia)
(https://www.amazon.com/This-Life-We-Really-Want/dp/B06Y4BX6FS)

 

Blondie – Pollinator  (noble id/BMG Rights Management)
(https://www.amazon.com/Pollinator-Blondie/dp/B01N9Y1DJE)

 

Evanescence – Synthesis (BMG Rights Management) 
(https://www.amazon.com/Synthesis-Evanescence/dp/B075NWMP2F)

 

Ninja Sex Party – Under the Covers Volume II  (Ninja Sex Party)
(https://ninjasexparty.bandcamp.com/album/under-the-covers-volume-ii)

 

Superfruit – Future Friends (RCA)
(https://www.amazon.com/Future-Friends-Superfruit/dp/B074M779LF)

 

Marilyn Manson – Heaven Upside Down (Loma Vista)
(https://www.amazon.com/Heaven-Upside-Explicit-Marilyn-Manson/dp/B0757CYN8Q/ref=tmm_msc_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=)

 

Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun (Temporary Residence Limited)
(https://temporaryresidence.bandcamp.com/album/every-countrys-sun)

 

Hobo Magic – The World Today (Self Released)
(https://hobomagic.bandcamp.com/album/the-world-today)

 

Thee Oh Sees – Orc (Castle Face Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Orc-THEE-OH-SEES/dp/B072QRNSV5)

 

The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody  (Warner Bros.)
(https://www.amazon.com/Oczy-Mlody-Explicit-Flaming-Lips/dp/B01M675GO7)

 

Electric Wizard – Wizard Bloody Wizard (Spinefarm Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Wizard-Bloody-Electric/dp/B074V3HV2F/ref=tmm_msc_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=)

 

David Bowie – No Plan EP – (ISO)
(https://www.amazon.com/No-Plan-EP-David-Bowie/dp/B01N4WCEZN)

 

ELARA – Deli Bal – PsyKA Records
(https://psyka.bandcamp.com/album/deli-bal)

 

FrankJavCee – Vol 2.111 – Self Release
(https://frankjavcee.bandcamp.com/album/frankjavcee-vol-2111)

 

Earth Drive – Stellar Drone (Raging Planet)
(https://earthdrive.bandcamp.com/album/stellar-drone)

 

Lana Del Rey – Lust For Life (Interscope Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Lust-Life-Lana-Del-Rey/dp/B072K3PSH6)

 

Neil Cicierega – Mouth Moods (Self Released)
(http://www.neilcic.com/mouthmoods/)

 

Steven Wilson – To the Bone (Caroline Records)
(https://www.amazon.com/Bone-Steven-Wilson/dp/B071L1B6V4/ref=tmm_msc_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1513703047&sr=8-1)

 

Tupperware Remix Party – Ladyworld  (Self Released)
(https://twrp.bandcamp.com/album/ladyworld)

 

nmesh – Pharma (Orange Milk Records)
(https://nmesh.bandcamp.com/album/pharma)

 

Jazz Spastiks – Scratch and Sniff – (Self Released)
(https://jazzspastiks.bandcamp.com/album/scratch-and-sniff)
(https://jazzspastiks.bandcamp.com/album/scratch-sniff-instrumentals)


Writer Eric Layhe Top 25 Albums of 2017 + Links…

Eric Layhe Top 25 Albums of 2017

 

1. Caligula’s Horse – In Contact (Inside Out Records)
https://caligulas-horse.backstreetmerch.com/

 

2. Pain Of Salvation – In The Passing Light Of Day (Inside Out Records)
http://painofsalvation.com/

 

3. KXM – Scatterbrain (Rat Pak Records)
https://kxmmusic.bandcamp.com/releases

 

4. In The Presence of Wolves – Of Two Minds – Stages 1 & 2 – The Ape And The Cage (Self-released)
https://inthepresenceofwolves.bandcamp.com/

 

5. The Burden Remains and The Horns Of The Seventh Seal – Touchstone (Self-released)
https://coldsmokerecording.bandcamp.com/album/touchstone

 

6. Icefish – Human Hardware (Self-released)
http://www.icefishband.com/

 

7. Pallbearer – Heartless (Profound Lore Records)
https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/album/heartless

 

8. Toehider – “GOOD.” (Birds Robe Records)
https://toehider.bandcamp.com/album/good

 

9. Nothing More – The Stories We Tell Ourselves (Eleven Seven)
http://nothingmore.net/

 

10. Mother Mars – On Lunar Highlands (Pepper Shaker Records)
https://mothermars.bandcamp.com/

 

11. Ayreon – The Source (Mascot Label Group)
http://www.arjenlucassen.com/content/

 

12. Sons Of Apollo – Psychotic Symphony (Inside Out Records)
http://www.sonsofapollo.com/

 

13. Others By No One – Book I: Dr. Breacher (Self-released)
https://othersbynoone.bandcamp.com/

 

14. Sons of Texas – Forged By Fortitude (Razor & Tie)
http://www.sonsoftexasmusic.com/

 

15. Ne Obliviscaris – Urn (Season of Mist)
https://neobliviscarissom.bandcamp.com/album/urn

 

16. Starset – Vessels (Razor & Tie)
https://merch.starsetonline.com/

 

17. Subterranean Masquerade – Vagabond (ViciSolum Records)
http://vicisolumrecords.com/album/vagabond

 

18. Leprous – Malina (Inside Out Records)
https://www.omerch.eu/shop/leprous/

 

19. Trivium – The Sin And The Sentence (Roadrunner Records)
http://store.trivium.org/

 

20. Voyager – Ghost Mile (IAV Records)
https://www.discogs.com/artist/2684097-Voyager-30

 

21. Mastodon – Emperor of Sand (Reprise Records)
http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

22. Alice Cooper – Paranormal (EarMusic)
http://www.alicecooper.com/shop/

 

23. Steven Wilson – To The Bone (Caroline Records)
http://www.stevenwilsonhq.com/

 

24. Big Wreck – Grace Street (ole)
https://www.bigwreckstore.com/big-wreck/music-295/big-wreck-grace-street-cd.html

 

25. 10 Years – (how to live) AS GHOSTS (Mascot Label Group)
http://10yearsmusic.com/site/


Mike Hackenschmidt’s Top 25 Albums of 2017 + Links…

Mike Hackenschmidt’s Top 25 Albums of 2017

 

1. Beast in Black – Berserker
http://www.beastinblack.com/

2. Unleash the Archers – Apex
https://unleashthearchers.bandcamp.com/album/apex

3. Stallion – For the Dead
http://www.heavymetalstallion.bigcartel.com/

4. Samael – Hegemony
https://samael.bandcamp.com/

5. Barrabus – Barrabus
https://undergrooverecords.bandcamp.com/album/barrabus

6. Elvenking – Secrets of Magick Grimoire
http://www.elvenking.net/

7. Battle Beast – Bringer of Pain
https://battlebeast.fi/music

8. Wizard – Fallen Kings
https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Kings-Wizard/dp/B06XDH2FVB

9. Ensiferum – Two Paths
https://ensiferum.bandcamp.com/

10. Thor – Beyond the Pain Barrier
https://thormusic.bandcamp.com/album/beyond-the-pain-barrier

11. Annihilator – For the Demented
https://www.annihilatormetal.com/

12. Havok – Conformicide
http://havokband.com/

13. Tengger Cavalry – Die on My Ride
https://tenggercavalry.bandcamp.com/album/die-on-my-ride

14. Lich King – Omniclasm
http://music.lichkingmetal.com/album/the-omniclasm

15. Attic – Sanctimonius
https://attic-vanrecords.bandcamp.com/

16. Hulkoff – Kven
http://www.faravidrecordings.com/

17. White Skull – Will of the Strong
http://whiteskull.band/

18. Mokomokai – The Poison Whiptail
https://mokomokai.bandcamp.com/

19. Steel Panther – Lower the Bar
http://steelpantherrocks.com/

20. Body Count – Bloodlust
http://www.bodycountband.com/

21. Warbringer – Woe to the Vanquished
https://warbringer.bandcamp.com/album/woe-to-the-vanquished

22. Goatwhore – Vengeful Ascension
https://goatwhore.bandcamp.com/

23. SepticFlesh – Codex Omega
https://septicflesh.bandcamp.com/album/codex-omega

24. M.O.D. – Busted, Broke & American
http://www.milanomosh.com/

25. Traffic Death – Dead End
https://sumppumprecords.bandcamp.com/album/dead-end


“The Ancient One’s” Top 25 of 2017…

Terry “The Ancient One” Cuyler’s
25 best albums of 2017

 

  1. Kadavar- Rough Times

http://www.nuclearblast.com/en/music/band/discography/details/4798138.2893136.rough-times.html

 

  1. Tau Cross – Pillar of Fire

https://taucross.bandcamp.com/

 

  1. PILLORIAN – Obsidian Arc

https://pillorian.bandcamp.com/album/obsidian-arc

 

  1. The Flight Of Sleipnir – Skadi

https://theflightofsleipnir.bandcamp.com/album/skadi

 

  1. Clouds Taste Satanic-The Glitter of Infinite Hell

https://cloudstastesatanic.bandcamp.com/album/the-glitter-of-infinite-hell

 

  1. Arcadea-Arcadea

https://arcadea.bandcamp.com/album/arcadea

 

  1. Mage- Green

https://mage.bandcamp.com/album/green

 

  1. Stone Lotus-Comastone

https://mage.bandcamp.com/album/green

 

  1. Thorr-Axe / Archarus-The Hobbit Split-Album

https://thorr-axe.bandcamp.com/album/thorr-axe-archarus-the-hobbit-split

 

  1. KAL-EL-Astrodoomeda

http://www.argonautarecords.com/shop/en/music-/214-kal-el-astrodoomeda-cd.html?search_query=kaL_EL&results=6

 

  1. Lich King-The Omniclasm

http://music.lichkingmetal.com/album/the-omniclasm

 

  1. Trivium-The Sin And The Sentence

http://www.trivium.org/

 

  1. Vokonis-The Sunken Djinn

https://vokonis.bandcamp.com/album/the-sunken-djinn

 

  1. Psy:code-MØRKE

https://psycode.bandcamp.com/

 

  1. Red Moon Architect-Return Of The Black Butterflies

http://bit.ly/2pU6a6l

 

  1. Temple of Void-Lords of Death

https://templeofvoid.bandcamp.com/album/lords-of-death

 

  1. Paradise Lost-Medusa

https://paradiselost2.bandcamp.com/releases

 

  1. Overkill-The Grinding Wheel

https://media.nuclearblast.de/shoplanding/2017/Overkill/the-grinding-wheel.html

 

  1. Nekromant-Snakes & Liars

https://nekromant.bandcamp.com/album/snakes-liars

 

  1. Electric Wizard-Wizard Bloody Wizard Bloody Wizard

http://www.electricfuckinwizard.com/

 

  1. Devil Electric-Devil Electric

https://devilelectric.bandcamp.com/album/devil-electric

 

  1. The Black Capes-All These Monsters

https://darktunes.bandcamp.com/album/all-these-monsters

 

  1. Mastodon-Cold Dark Place

http://www.mastodonrocks.com/

 

  1. RUBY THE HATCHET-PLANETARY SPACE CHILD

https://thehatchet.bandcamp.com/album/planetary-space-child

 

  1. The Necromancers-Servants of the Salem Girl

https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/servants-of-the-salem-girl

 


Contest Time!! 8 Winners – Like, Subscribe & Enter to Win…

Contest Time!!

**Signed CD and band Sticker from Shoegaze, Post-Rockers MAIRA from Vienna, Austria
**2 Taste Nation Stickers
**Free Shipping Around the World!! 

 

1 – Click on the our YouTube Link below.

2 – Subscribe to “MAIRA The Band”‘s YouTube Channel (Link Below).
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS-O8keoTDfS387ZPR1tnbw

3 – Subscribe to Taste Nation LLC’s YouTube Channel (link below).
https://www.youtube.com/user/TasteNationLLC

4 – We will announce Winners, at Random, when Taste Nation LLC reaches 100  subscribers.

5 – Over a 10% chance to win.

 


An Interview With Iconic Heavy Rock/Doom Legends CIRITH UNGOL

For fans of heavy rock and doom, there are two words in the lexicon of all their language that has a shared, universal significance. No matter what country you are from, what your native tongue may be, those two words have such massive historical density to them that they instantly evoke reverence upong hearing them: CIRITH UNGOL. Anyone that has been around as long as I have (for the record, I am 47 years old) and has been entrenched within the underground music scene understands the legacy of this longrunning band. Taking on the name of Cirith Ungol in 1972, the four musicians that comprised the band a decade plus later, vocalist Tim Baker, guitarist Jerry Fogle (R.I.P.), drummer Robert Garven and bassist Michael Vujea, made music history in 1984. That was the year that the quartet released their game-changing sophomore album, King Of The Dead, on Enigma Records and simply put, music would never be the same again.

This landmark album went on to inspire and influence untold numbers of musicians, bands and more over the next three-plus decades. It would eventually ascend from the underground and become an iconic, audible bastion in the annals of music history. Cirith Ungol the band would share in this glorious acquisition of reverence and respect as well. They too obtained a state of high honor among those that were enlightened to what greatness this band wielded and so it came as no surprise when Metal Blade Records revealed their plans to pay homage to the band and their King Of The Dead album. Releasing the bonus-laden ‘King Of The Dead – Ultimate Edition‘ mere weeks ago to coincide with the band’s playing their first ever European show at this year’s Keep It True Festival, Metal Blade sparked something in us all. I’d already had an interview with Cirith Ungol in the works but I recognized the opportunity to capitalize on circumstances and thus we at Taste Nation LLC began brainstorming. What we came up with is, what you are in the middle of enjoying right now, the fruits of our labors to properly pay the mighty Cirith Ungol their due.

You’ve seen Matthew Thomas‘ unboxing video and pictorial, you have read RicSuisykoDorr‘s review (both here) of Metal Blade Records ‘King Of The Dead – Ultimate Edition‘ and now we present you the coup de grace of today’s event. Without further ado nor hype, no more anxiety from anticipation and want, I and my fellow TNLLC teammates present to you the following: The Taste Nation LLC Interview With CIRITH UNGOL (vocalist Tim Baker, guitarist Greg Lindstrom, guitarist Jim Barraza & drummer Robert Garven)!!!

CU 1

Pat Riot: The origins of Cirith Ungol date back to at least 1972..what was the inspiration for starting the band? How did it first form at that time and is it true you all began playing as solely instrumental? Fans always debate the correct pronunciation of the band’s name..care to give us the official one?

Tim: As the real historians of the band I will let Rob and Greg answer the first couple of questions. They remember a lot of that stuff better than I can!

Greg:  Rob and I met in 7th grade and instantly became friends. He and Jerry Fogle and Pat Galligan (who later joined punk band The Angry Samoans) decided to start a band to play Beatles songs, and I think the only reason they got me involved was that I had an amp. We called ourselves Titanic. Three guitars plugged into one 15 watt amp and Rob with just a snare drum and hi-hat trying to play Beatles and CCR songs. Anyway, Rob and Jerry and I wanted to play heavier stuff like Cream and Mountain, so we quit Titanic, and the three of us formed Cirith Ungol in 1972. Almost immediately we started doing some originals (“Radiation Blues”, “Flesh Dart”) along with our versions of songs by Sabbath, Budgie, Ursa Major, etc. Around 1975, Neil Beattie (aka Terry Dactyl) became our lead singer. He was a little more glam inspired than the rest of us, but he put on a really wild live show, with black widow spider fingertip extensions to go along with our six-foot wide black widow spider for “Shelob’s Lair”. Even though he was a great performer, his voice didn’t quite fit our style, and we parted ways after about a year. We spent the next couple of years writing a lot of songs and playing all the LA clubs as an instrumental power trio, playing along side bands like Quiet Riot, Y & T, and Van Halen, going over amazingly well. We tried out a number of singers, but nobody clicked until 1979, when Tim Baker, our head roadie at the time, tried singing lead on “Hype Performance”. That version is the first song on “Servants Of Chaos”.

Jimmy: In 1972 I was 6 years old living on a farm in Lincoln, Illinois. I thank these guys for starting the band while I was so young, ha-ha. To be part of this reunion at 50 years old is amazing. It is rare, but I have only met a handful of people that I’ve heard pronounce the name correctly and have read the Lord Of The Rings books many times over. I still have not read the books. Maybe one day.

Rob: I was inspired by Greg, because he would always turn me on to new music. I remember him showing me a copy of Mountain’s Climbing, and saying something like, “You have got to hear this!” We incessantly combed the LA area record stores mainly searching for new imported music. There we discovered Thin Lizzy, Scorpions, Lucifer’s Friend, Night Sun and many other heavy bands years before they were even on the radar in the US! There were very few that heard as much early hard rock and metal as us back then. I remember picking up Deep Purple “In Rock” at the local Sears the day they put it on the shelf!

Pat Riot: What took the band almost a decade to get the debut album, ‘Frost And Fire’, recorded and released in 1980?

Greg: Remember, we were only 14 years old when we started, so it took a few years and a lot of jamming to get proficient on our instruments – in my case I’m still working on it! But we wrote songs almost from the beginning, and in 1978 we actually self-released a home-recorded cassette album with a completely different set of songs than F&F. None of the songs on F&F were more than a year old when we recorded it. Some of the songs on KOTD like “Atom Smasher”, “Death Of The Sun”, and “Cirith Ungol” actually pre-date the F&F songs.

Jimmy: In 1980 I was 14 years old. I had taken guitar lessons at a local music store for about a year then. I didn’t hear Frost And Fire until 1987.

Rob: Like Greg mentioned we started pretty young. After the cassette demo we did, commonly known as the “Orange Demo” due to its orange cover, we were ready for something bigger. Since we never received a response from the numerous demo tapes and letters we sent out, we wanted to create a complete album of epic proportions, to show the record companies that we knew what we were doing.


Pat Riot:
 Speaking of ‘Frost And Fire’, how do you process the fact it is such a hugely monumental, revered album now in 2017? So much there’s even a festival bearing its name, which you all played in 2016. How was that experience?

Tim: For something that was never really suppose to be released as an album, it turns out to have been a great starting point! As far as playing at Frost And Fire II it was a remarkable experience! To actually get on the same stage where we had played our final concert, those long years ago was incredible. Of course the best part was seeing and getting to meet so many people from around the world that came to the Festival – a truly awesome and inspiring thing.

Greg: I think because of Tim’s voice, our quirky playing style, and our inexperience in a real studio, F&F doesn’t really sound like anything else, not even any other CU album. I can hear a bit of Rush and Y&T in there, but for better or worse, it’s pretty unique.

Jimmy: I have to mention that the song “Frost And Fire” is one of my favorites to play live. The experience playing live for the first time in 25 years was so amazing. Although there was a little bit of stressful moments just prior to going on stage due to technical issues (faulty tuner) that could have been unnerving had it not been detected. But, it was promptly remedied. We were 100% ready and played with really minimal issues. It was a success and we also learned a few things in the process.

Rob: We had a great time recording it, and I knew the material was good, and pleased with the result. I love Tim’s voice on that album, it reminds me of a razor blade, thrashing its way through the songs. We had a private tour of the DW drum factory before they built me the greatest sounding custom oak drum set in the world, and I asked the gentleman giving the tour if he had ever heard of our band. I was shocked when he said, “Of course, who didn’t have “Frost & Fire” growing up!  As for the Frost & Fire Festival II, it was an awesome experience, playing in our hometown in front of a packed audience from around the world! The next day during the meet and greet there were people who came from as far away as China & Russia just to see the band!

Pat RiotI understand Cirith Ungol are playing more festivals this year such as Days Of Darkness and Psycho Las Vegas..What is your take-away from seeing the band hold such a spot of reverence with music fans now? Would or will the band undertake any full-on touring plans in the future?

Tim: It’s all about the music – I think the stuff we did holds up well, and with the resurgence of what is now called “classic metal” the timing couldn’t be better! And no – we are not really planning a full on tour, just a bunch of the metal festivals – at least the ones that will have us, hahaha!

Greg: We didn’t have the opportunity to play outside of southern California back in the day, so a lot of folks have been waiting 30+ years to see us live.

Jimmy: I’m very excited for the band and to be part of this journey. The fans are the best, and I am blown away at the ranking position at these festivals. We just gotta stay healthy and motivated.

Rob: We did play a special show in Mexico City after “Frost & Fire” was released and did a radio interview with a pirate radio station that was literally on top of the presidential palace! We are all very excited to be playing so many heavy festivals* this year, some which are still unannounced. You forgot to mention, “Keep it True Festival“, “Up the Hammers“, “Defenders Of The Old“, “Chaos Descends“, & “Hammer Of Doom“, where we are headlining! It is going to be epic an “A Churning Maelstrom Of Metal Chaos Descending!”

*See the Flyers and Promotional Posters for them at the end of this Interview


Pat Riot:
 Back in the 80s when Cirith Ungol was playing the L.A. circuit, a scene dominated by many lighter fare ‘glam’ type bands, how was CU received at that time?

Tim: We had a fan base back in the day, but really the LA scene for the most part had no idea what to make of us – especially that “singer” lol. We played all the clubs down there and met a lot of great people and bands that are still going strong today!! It was a strange time!

Greg: CU didn’t really fit in with the hair metal scene. As you can imagine, there were people who dug it, and people who didn’t. After I left the band, I saw CU play at the Beverly Theatre with Ratt and Lita Ford. CU commanded the stage, and there were a couple of hundred fans (maybe 25% of the crowd) totally into it, but the other people had come to see Ratt or Lita and weren’t into it.

Jimmy: I had only played a handful of local shows from ’87 – ’89 (LA, Ventura, Santa Barbara). It did seem that the crowds were a bit thin and only the die hards came out and stood in the front to pound their fists and head bang. I remember a mosh pit of punk rockers formed at one home town gig. That was entertaining.

Rob: We did have a loyal fan base in Ventura. Most of our big shows seemed to be on a night when it was raining. We got several hundred people to drive to LA to see us play. We did get some really great reviews from the big LA newspapers such as the Herald Examiner. One writer Marc Shapiro wrote a bunch of great articles on the band after seeing us play with Ratt! He famously wrote about the band, “If hell has a soundtrack then this is it!”

Fan-filmed ‘King Of The Dead‘ preformance from “back in the day”…

Pat Riot: Cirith Ungol released only four official albums in the span of a decade (’81-’91) but the band holds such an iconic place in fans hearts.. why do you believe that is? I have read many things over the years that seemed to indicate a reunion would be unlikely, ever, so what drove the band’s return?

Tim: It’s all about the music I think. Those records hold up pretty well and I think they are good metal albums, and I guess there are a few people out there that feel the same way, hahaha! And yes, for a very long time a reunion was something that was never going to happen, for a lot of well documented reasons. I won’t go into that since that story is pretty well known. The main reasons it did happen is largely due to the efforts of Jarvis, his tales of seeing Ungol stuff all over the world while on tour with Night Demon. The creation of the Frost And Fire Festival, which was the first time in decades the surviving members of the band had all been together, even if it was just for a meet and greet. His support and perseverance to put us back together was something to behold hahaha!! I must also thank Oliver [Weinsheimer] from the great Keep It True Festival. He had been asking us for years just to come over and enjoy his festival, and for years we politely said no. But Rob and I finally went over last year, and to see all the people with Ungol patches, albums to sign, and even people with Cirith Ungol tattoos!! It was a mind-blowing experience and it certainly helped me change my mind about playing again. To see things on the internet and know that there is still a bit of interest in the band is one thing, but to see it in person was amazing!!

Greg: I think Rob needed something to do in his sunset years! And I figured we had better get together and play before: 1) people stop asking, and 2) we get too old to rock and roll!

Jimmy: For years I had hoped for a reunion. Once the opportunity came up, I jumped on it. I am so elated to be playing once again. It’s all good.

Rob: I think our listeners are not unlike our band members and are yearning for something more from their music, something that challenges, and engages them. Even though we wanted to be successful, we did not write the songs to appeal to anyone but ourselves, and I think people get that. I also think they have all succumbed to the “Legions of Chaos! I swore I would never play drums as long as I lived. At the “Frost & Fire I” festival Oliver Weinsheimer came from the “Keep It True Festival” and Jarvis got all the guys together for a meet and greet. They pretty much made us an offer we could not refuse. It was these two guys that will go down in history as the ones that unleashed the Fury of Ungol upon the world!

Keep It True Fest ( L-R: Greg Lindstrom, Markus Bart Grasseck, Jarvis Leatherby, Tim Baker, Bart Gabriel, Manalois Karazeris, Jim Barraza & Robert Garven)

Pat Riot: How does having Night Demon’s Jarvis Leatherby in the band help things? It looks like his presence would kind of ‘bridge the gap’ between older fans and the current scene’s younger ones or am I off-base with such an idea?

Tim: I hadn’t looked at that way before but I suppose you might be on to something there!  His main help was of course getting us back together, with management stuff, and besides being the hardest working man in Metal he is a great musician and a good friend, Night Demon and Cirith Ungol are like a family. Jarvis, Dustin [Squires], and Armand [Anthony] are really great guys and we are proud to know them!

Greg: That’s a good point. I’m sure that Jarvis will bring along some Night Demon fans for the ride!

Jimmy: Filling the slot of bassist was first offered to Flint, but he had other commitments and declined. It was only fitting that Jarvis being a fan of the band, a seasoned musician and has the drive to make Cirith Ungol great again and to take the roll of manager and bassist. It is my pleasure to play alongside Jarvis. His Energy and commitment has proven invaluable and vital to our success.

Rob: When you look up Jarvis Leatherby in the dictionary, it says “All Metal, All The Time”! Actually after traveling to Germany the average age of our new fan base is under 30. I think these new listeners are discovering unique bands such as “Cirith Ungol” for the first time. BTW Jarvis’ band Night Demon I think is going to be a very big act. Their show is outstanding and their new album is killer! I am not just saying this because we are friends; I am saying it because they rock! (Indeed they do! I’ve seen them, have all their released material and I fully agree, Rob. – Pat)

Pat Riot: You all surely get this all the time but will/would/is Cirith Ungol entertaining the idea of recording new music or a new album?

Tim: Yes. We would hope to do a new record sometime in the future and are actively writing new stuff as we speak-along with getting ready to hit the festival scene!

Greg: We are working on new songs and unearthing a few unheard old tunes with that in mind.

Jimmy: Yes, Absolutely.

Rob: Tim has written some great lyrics and we have a few songs in progress. My goal is for the next album to be like “King Of The Dead”, something we will be proud of!  Just for the record Metal Blade Records is re-releasing a deluxe edition “King Of The Dead” in vinyl and CD with full color booklets, colored vinyl, and a DVD of a rare show we played at the Roxy, in Hollywood that no one has ever seen before!  It also has several live tracks from our appearance at “Frost & Fire II”. They did such a great job on “Paradise Lost”, and we are all looking forward to this re-release. Everyone that is a fan of the band should get this one, as it is our best album to date and they are finally doing it justice!


Pat Riot:
 David Paul Seymour is one of my absolute favorite artists..are you all excited about ‘The Planet Of DOOM’ cinematic project and the inclusion of Cirith Ungol music in it? Speaking of artists, any specific reason that the works of Michael Whelan have exclusively been used on CU album’s artwork?

Tim: His paintings are the absolute best album covers ever done by anyone-period. We are so honored to have him on our side, he is such a great artist and also such a very nice guy!! Just recently went to a gallery opening of his here in California. It was so special to reconnect with him after many years. And he had the original painting of Stormbringer at the show, the Frost And Fire album cover…to actually see it up close and in person was something I will never forget, just awe inspiring. And the Planet Of Doom project looks like it will be so badass, I cannot wait to see the final results!!

Greg: Back in the day, we had originally envisioned using a painting called “Death Dealer” by Frank Frazetta, who is famous for many Conan illustrations. One day I walked into a record store and there it was on the cover of a Molly Hatchet album! Anyway, Rob and I were both reading Michael Moorcock’s, Elric series at the time, and the U.S. editions all had Michael Whalen’s paintings on the covers. Rob got in contact with Michael, who is one of the nicest guys we’ve ever met, and he agreed to let us use “Stormbringer”. He liked the music and felt that it was an appropriate match for his artwork, and we were totally thrilled and honored to be able to use his artwork on our albums. For sure it has helped us to sell more albums. I even know some people who don’t care much for our music, but buy the albums just for the cover art!

Rob: We are hoping that any new project will feature another of Michael Whelan’s Elric illustrations! I feel very privileged that we were allowed to use 4 of his masterpieces on our albums; they would not have been the same without him! “Planet Of Doom” is going to be an awesome project and we are very excited about this also!!!


Pat Riot:
 How did Cirith Ungol’s involvement with Metal Blade come about and is it safe to say the band is pleased with the re-issues they’ve provided? Are there any plans to give the ‘Paradise Lost’ record the same treatment?

Tim:  The reissues have been great. And of course by the time you read this the Paradise Lost one will already be out!! The KOTD ultimate edition is set for release to coincide with our first ever European appearance at the Keep It True festival in April and it is going to be killer!!

Greg: MB has done a great job with the reissues so far, and the new KOTD reissue is going to be fantastic.

Jimmy: I’m very pleased with the reissue of Paradise Lost in October 2016. It’s also cool to hear some alternate track mixes on the CD. Bart Gabriel did a great job re-mastering, and Metal Blade also gave their all in regards to the vinyl and packaging.

Rob: Brian and everyone at Metal Blade Records have been instrumental in the band’s career over the years.  We met Brian when we were first thinking about “Frost & Fire”. He worked at a record store in the LA area and was and still is a good friend. He was launching his record company at the same time, and he hooked us up with the company that would distribute our first 2 albums, Greenworld Distribution. Metal Blade Records in Germany have spearheaded some amazing projects, such as “Servants Of Chaos”, and the deluxe editions recently, and we are proud to be their friends. We were pretty surprised when Brian was asked to name his favorite releases over the history of his label, and he picked “Metal Massacre 1”, which one of our songs, “Death Of The Sun” was on, and “King Of The Dead” as 2 of his top 11 releases of all time!!  WOW!

Metal-Massacre-1


Pat Riot: 
After nearly 50 years in the musical realm, what is one of your most cherished memories from it i.e. an experience or event, meeting someone, etc. whatever it may be?

Tim: Well for me it is probably making the records we made, and for sure the recent reunion, something that for decades was never going to happen. To be able to finally go out and play around the world is like a dream come true for us.

Greg: Feeling like a proud father, holding a brand new shrink wrapped copy of Frost & Fire fresh from the pressing plant back in 1981. Your first album is always special!

Jimmy: I’ve had the privilege of spending the day with Grace Slick shooting an MTV Video, visited back stage with Carlos Santana (he bogart’s, ha-ha), and even randomly ran into Ozzy Ozbourne here in town (he was 1/2 brain dead, ha-ha). Or I should say that he ran into me. Literally. It was at a Mexican restaurant, he was eating then heading straight to rehab. And of course it has been awesome to play in a band that is finally getting some well-deserved recognition.

Rob: The proudest moment for me was taking the stage as the headlining act at “Frost & Fire II”! Playing on my beautiful Ferrari red DW oak drum set, surrounded by the most amazing set of Paiste cymbals and gong, and beating the drums. Having all that firepower at my command I felt like a metal god for one small moment in time!

Pat Riot: OK, you guys, I have a tradition of closing interviews with an open floor where you have the last word..care to say, share, state whatever you wish about anything..this is all you so have at it:

Tim: I would like to say a huge thank you to all the people that encouraged and supported Ungol all these years – without you the band would be in the dustbin of history, and we certainly would have never gotten back together!! I look forward to telling you all “thank you” in person.

Greg: Huge thanks to everyone who has supported CU over the years. We really appreciate it!

Jimmy: To all the Fans. Your enthusiasm is much appreciated. Thanks for keeping the torch lit and making us feel like Metal Gods. Cheers!

Rob: I would ask anyone that can make it, to come to one of our rare shows. If you like the band, or our music, I promise you will not be disappointed!!! Everything in my life has culminated in this reunion and I want to share it with everyone!

This is Cirith Ungol..what am I going to say after this that’s going to add anything to what has just unfolded here? Nothing. So with that, I want to thank our guests, the magnificent Cirith Ungol circa 2017: Tim Baker, Greg Lindstrom, Jimmy BarrazaRobert Garven and Jarvis Leatherby who was here in spirit. Metal Is Forever!!!

– Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker