Interview with Totenwelt – Misanthropic Black Metal from Sweden

Today I spoke with the guys in Totenwelt – an up and coming Black metal band from Sweden, we talked about life in small town Sweden, bitterness against society, The raw beauty of the German language and much more. Read on.

* So you guys are from Gothenburg? How’s the black metal scene there these days?
That’s not entirely true. One of us resides in Malmö in the southern part of Sweden but since two of us live in here and we all spent our formative years in a small town just outside Gothenburg it felt convenient enough. I am not the right person to ask since I close to never attend any live events anymore, due to lack of time and perhaps commitment. Jocke would be the one to ask since he is more active in the music scene although mostly in Malmö. I must however mention a band called Walk through fire which In my opinion, although perhaps not black metal, create the most beautiful misery and darkness and did a great show last year I think it was.

* Did you all grow up in Gothenberg? If so you must have seen some great metal shows back in the day. Which ones were most memorable?
As previously mentioned we all grew up outside Gothenburg in a picturesque little shithole of a town called Alingsås. But we tried our best to catch shows whenever our limited funds allowed us. We had the pleasure of seeing a lot of inspiring (and the opposite) foreign and Swedish acts such as Dissection, At the Gates, Morbid Angel, Dismember and Dark Funeral to mention a few. Those shows played a significant part of our own ambition to create music. The impact that these shows had on us, at the time, was truly significant.

* How did you get into Black metal growing up? Who were the first bands that really made you sit up and say “God damn”?
The first time I heard “In league with Satan” by Venom my pubertal senses peaked over the charts. It felt almost overwhelming and you just wanted tear shit apart. Same experience when I first heard Chemical Warfare by Slayer or Arayanism by Napalm Death. A few years later, this repeated Itself when records with bands such as Mayhem, Dödheimsgard, Emperor, Enslaved, Burzum, Dissection, Darkthrone and Dark Funeral, to mention a few, started to present themselves to me. The grimness, raw aggression and mysticism appealed to me and one just wanted more, and faster and uglier…

* Totenwelt means world of the dead – correct? How did you come up with the name? is it more in the Zombie / Walking Dead type of thing or does it have a different meaning for you guys?
In our interpretation it is more something in the line of a dead world, lifeless and it reflects the overall concept of Totenwelt which revolves around more hands-on matters then the stereotypical themes of the genre. Topics such as is pessimism, general resentment and bitterness against society, humans and to an extent life itself. Together with cynicism, general discontent and strong antireligious values. Life sucks and then you die and it’s never too early to quit.

* I really like the work on your ep. Människohataren is a nice change from the break neck speed of many black metal artists – almost has an industrial feel to it – how did that song come about?
Actually, it was first considered, more or less, an introduction to the song, Äta skita sova dö and it revolves around the same Chords as the verse riff of that song. The ambition was to create something that felt slow, monotone and hopeless. And, as we messed around with it, the result we ended up with became lengthier and disgusting enough to deserve an own title and spot on the recording. We do enjoy a lot of different genres of music and industrial music has a lot to offer in the way of creating darker moods in my opinion.

* Were you pleased with the response your EP got you guys?
So far, we haven’t received that much response but the response we have got has been overwhelming and we are truly grateful that people find it appealing. And as we haven’t actively spread our music that much either we are all quite busy individuals with our respective careers, families and commitments that consume a lot of our time it is great to see.

* It sounds like the spoken word is German and not Swedish – is this correct?
It is indeed German which is a language we tend to use in our lyrics because it carries a certain rawness and an overall classic tone which we find suiting to this concept. Our first lyrics were all in German but over time we have moved more towards our native language. But who knows maybe our next stuff will be all in English.

* What does Människohataren mean in English? is there a direct translation?
It means the nihilist or the person who hates people and derives from the fact that we used the German dubbed monologue from the movie “Seul contre tous” which is something of the lead inspiration and concept for this Ep. If you haven’t seen it yet you must. It is a fantastic portrait of human downfall.

* How old were you when you first started playing guitar? Did you take lessons at all – or were you self-taught?
I am indeed self-taught and started quite late playing the guitar since all other guitarists and musicians surrounding me did a far better job and put a lot more effort into becoming good at their instruments. I did a few efforts at playing the guitar in bands back in the nineties but never felt I was up to the task and lacked the motivation and needed to evolve into a real guitar player and never really aspired to be one either. The guitar was more of a tool for creating music for me and I ended up singing or playing the base instead. Over the years, I have grown a bit more accustomed to playing it but it is still mostly a mean for composing although I have reached some level of skill and taking some enjoyment in playing it.

Robert on the other hand started playing about the same time as me and evolved to a whole other level of skill then me and is overall a far greater musician than me.

* Has the band played many live shows yet?
None so far. Totenwelt began as an outlet for my personal need to write this kind of music whilst either playing other genres of music or not playing at all, at times. Over the years, it evolved into a band containing three people preoccupied with a lot of other engagements in life. It is only in the last few years we have become more productive and even touching the topic of performing live. The other hand of the matter is that I have never really felt the need to perform live and never really enjoyed it all that much especially without numbing myself which sometimes took a toll on the performance.

With all that said I wouldn’t want to exclude the possibility of a debut show in a near future but it would require us to involve more people that share the same attitude towards the music which can sometimes prove to be a delicate process.

* When you guys are not making music what do you like to do in your free time?
Family commitments, sex with oneself and others and self-medicating to numb the sometimes-overwhelming boredom of existence.

* What can we expect from Totenwelt in 2017?
We are just starting to rehearse for an upcoming full length recording which we hope to record late this summer if all goes as planned and who knows, perhaps an on-stage appearance.

* Any final words for your friends and fans?
Att leva är att lida så bit ihop och lid! And thank you for the support and listening to our music.

Go listen to their EP here:

Interview with Nightgrave – Experimental Black Metal from New Delhi, India

Today I spoke to Raw from Nightgrave – Experimental Black metal from New Delhi India. We spoke about the Black metal scene in New Delhi, Musical Equipment in India and much more – check it out

* Can you tell me a little bit about life in New Delhi?
Life’s hard. It would be a huge surprise if it wasn’t. Living, at least, in the capital of a country gone awry would seem to have a few perks. And they are there, it’s just that the prevalent shitty stuff far outweighs the handful of pleasures out here. Ludicrous traditions, arrogance in ignorance is sadly the norm. Mainstream art is guaranteed to be utter shit. Clubs, pubs only serve the purpose of dishing out exorbitant prices and cringeworthy bollywood hip hop at all times. Live performances mostly revolve around some douchebag pressing play on his laptop and sadly, the hapless, helpless youth eat that up because they have hardly ever known or understood the crushing depth of originality or maybe the mainstream media has them ever so successfully blinded. And the rate at which dumb cunts in the country reproduce is just off the charts. There’s a good chance of getting stuck in a jam whenever you plan to drive. The tube is always a better option but that too is massively crowded more often than not. People aren’t all that bad though or so I would like to think. Nature is within reach. Food’s good too.

* Is there much of a black metal scene in New Delhi?
If there is one, I haven’t seen it. Although I did catch a few black-ish acts about a year ago. It was in a small pub in Vasant Vihar. I can’t seem to place their names but a couple of those bands were good. I don’t think any of them were from Delhi though.

* Are there Indian brand guitars and musical instruments available to play Black metal or do you have all the brand names we use in the USA?
I haven’t been able to invest much time into trying out Indian guitar brands. I don’t think there are any good ones but I could be wrong about this. For now, what I’ve got is a Schecter Demon-7, an Ibanez Rg and a Takamine acoustic.

* How about recording studios? Many bands record at home using their laptop but some people prefer hiring a recording studio – what do you guys use?
As of now, it’s a home studio set up with a fairly decent effects processor running through an equally decent DAW.

* How did you find out about Black Metal?
The introductory phase was initiated by the legendary Emperor. Thank human for the interwebs.

* Which bands are your influences?
Plenty – Emperor, Drudkh, Katatonia, Neurosis – to name some

* Have you seen any European Black metal bands live?
Satyricon and Enslaved about a decade ago. Outside Black, seen Meshuggah, Megadeth in recent times.

* What are your favorite Indian Metal Bands?
I’m sure there are some good ones but nothing springs to mind.

* Can you recommend some Indian black metal bands for our readers to check out?
Kouros’, my erstwhile project. It’s not specifically black metal but it somewhat stems from it. ‘Fragarak’, blackened death.

* Do you play live at all? If so do you have any plans to tour India?
Since it’s a solo project, a gig is something that would require a live line-up. I’m looking forward to working towards that and making touring possible as and when the upcoming album is completed.

* How did your record deal with Transcending Obscurity come about?
The usual process, I sent them the links and hoped they liked the tunes which, as it turns out, they did. Mr Choksi got in touch promptly.

* What can we expect from Nightgrave in 2017?
A couple of full lengths and a couple of EPs.

* Any final words to your friends and fans?
Thank you very much for the support.

Decibel Magazine Premieres New Track of FROWNING (German Funeral Doom)


The majestic gloomy sound of the debut full length turned Frowning into an admirable name inside the Funeral Doom Metal scene. “Extinct”, a nice follow up to the debut album contains 5 stunning tracks of pure Funeral Doom. Mournful gut-wrenching growls, eerie cold melodic atmosphere, desolate tones of acoustic guitar, slow, crumbling and drone oriented riffs — all of these elements of the album ensure that a phenomenal Funeral Doom journey is awaiting for the listeners. With two released singles of this album, Frowning has already stunned the listeners, and now “Nocturnal Void” the first track of the album is exclusively premiered by Decibel Magazine, which can be streamed at this location

Check remark on this track from Val, the sole member of the band:

“”Nocturnal Void” is musically inspired by Worship, lyric is taken from Edgar Allan Poe’s “Spirits Of The Dead”, it features guest vocal from Stanislav Govorukha of Suffer Yourself. The idea was to create the atmosphere of a cold, mystical night, and I think I succeed.”


Interview with Sol Sistere – Atmospheric Black Metal from Chile

This week I spoke to the guys in Sol Sistere – Atmospheric Black Metal from Chile – we talked about South American UFO hot spots, The Chilean Black Metal Scene, surviving some serious Earthquakes and much much more – read on!

* So you guys are from Santiago Chile right? Chile has had a great and long history of classic Death metal bands – but is there a very strong Black metal scene there at all?

Yes, we’re from Santiago, the capital of Chile, which is located at the very center of the country.

As you mentioned, the Chilean death metal scene (same as the thrash scene) dates back to the 90’s, and it’s still strong in the whole country, especially in the old school sound. Regarding the black metal scene, it’s quite rich now, but it’s kind of new, something that has been developing in the recent years, and it’s mostly focused in the center and south of Chile. The sound of the black metal bands is very diverse, you can find mostly dark and raw oriented music, but also some melodic and very few atmospheric projects.

* How did you first hear about Black metal and what was the first band that really won you over? For me it had to be either Burzum or Darkthrone
Actually, I don’t remember the exact moment I first listened to black metal, but I do remember the first band and album that I was addicted to was Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger. I think that album is relevant until today and somehow, even when our music is mostly related to newer or more melodic stuff, you can listen that influence in the speed of our songs or the type of sad melodies of the guitar. Also, other bands that were important back in the day were old Ulver and Emperor, but I’d like to highlight the Swedish bands I later got to know, like Sacramentum or Dissection, which is still one of my favorite bands, and Dawn, who created one of my favorite albums, at least on of my top 5, which is Slaughtersun. In our music, you can hear a lot of that stuff, while trying to keep a modern approach to black metal.

* How did you get your record deal with Hammerheart?
Well, we got the deal in the simplest way: writing an email and asking. Actually, the process of looking for a label was long and it implied writing to a lot of labels of all sizes to see if they were interested in our album, which was already finished. Most of them ignored our emails, as you can expect, but we got a few replies. Of the ones who replied, most of them told us they weren’t accepting new bands or they simply weren’t interested, but even when it took them some time, Hammerheart Records were the only ones who got interested and wanted to hear the whole album. After a while, they told us they thought the album was very good and they were interested in releasing it. That was great, because HHR was in fact the biggest label on our list, so the fact that they accepted us was a big success.

* Have you been pleased with the promotion of the album so far?
Yes, we think HHR did a great job because we’ve gathered more than 40 reviews and a level of notoriety we couldn’t have gotten ourselves. It’s hard to enter the global scene when you come from South America and are actually still based in Chile, so having the support of a European label, especially an old and renowned one, helps us a lot to get noticed. We are still a very small act, but we feel that the reach of this first full-length was a great start for our career as a band.

* You guys sing a lot about life death and rebirth – do any of the band have any pagan beliefs? Wicca? Odinism? Incan?
Not particularly, but those are all interesting topics. Also, when you read a little about the beliefs of different ancient cultures, you see a lot of things in common, like praising the sun, considering it as a deity or a symbol of birth, death, and the cycles of life. That’s in part what inspires our band’s name.

* Is there much religious repression in Chile like many other South American countries have?
Well, there’s a lot of Christianity here, mainly Catholicism. But I wouldn’t say there’s really repression now, there’s freedom of religion, even when there’s basically no other religion besides Christianity, e.g., the number of other believers, such as Muslims, Jews or Buddhists here is so low that it’s probable you won’t see any of them more than once a year. The different churches (catholic and protestants) always raise their voices when it comes to decide on important matters, such as abortion, gay rights, things like that, but I wouldn’t say it’s different from what happens in the US, I mean, they can’t do anything besides propaganda and try to persuade their believers.

I remember that a catholic priest wanted to put pressure on the authorities to cancel a Deicide show back in 2005 because he was worried about the lyrics, the album covers, and the whole satanic gimmick. I recall he even wanted to forbid their entrance to the country, but he obviously didn’t have any right or authority to do so. He thought he would see a black mass on stage or something, but after the gig (which obviously wasn’t cancelled or anything), he then realized it was all just a music show and nothing more. I bet there are guys like him everywhere, but he just had access to the press.

* Are you familiar with this American TV show Ancient Astronauts? If not the tv show is about the belief that Aliens came and influenced the evolution of humanity many times in the past. Many of the historians on the show belief that the Aliens spent much time in South America – do you have any thoughts on this?
Some sectors of Chile and South America are known for being ‘hot spots’ (places where a lot of UFO sightings take place). To a large extent, this is due to the nature of our geography, our climate, and our location on the planet, that’s why we are very privileged to have a quality sky for astronomical observation. This way, indigenous peoples of South America were nourished from this same sky, and through the observation of it, they developed beliefs expressed through their myths, legends, and ceremonies, which altogether created a very special and powerful world view. These beliefs were related to a power and knowledge that come from beyond the stars, and they have been passed on in one way or another for generations, and even though this ancient world view has been lost in modern society, there is still a lot of interest to study phenomena which are hard to explain in a rational way. This is a topic so rooted in our blood that, for instance, in Chile there is an organism called CEFAA, (Committee for the Study of Abnormal Aerial Phenomena) that is an official governmental agency and part of the DGAC (General Direction of Civil Aviation), which is dedicated to the study of aerial phenomena categorized as unidentified flying objects (UFO); and among all case studies, there is a great number referred to openly as UFO (as in the ship meaning of the term), because there seems to be no other explanation. If we are talking about extraterrestrials or beings from other realities, that’s a separate issue, but if we can conclude something for sure, is that it seems to be clear that something is going on in our sky since ancient times until today.

* I remember Chile has had some serious earthquakes in its time – have you or any of the band ever been caught in any?
Yes, we have a lot of earthquakes, and it’s so common, that we usually consider the non-catastrophic ones as simple tremors, even when they’re actually stronger than the ones in Nepal, Haiti or Italy. Chile holds the record of the strongest and worst earthquake in history (Valdivia, 1960. Richter scale 9.5), and the country is really prone to telluric movements, so we, who were all born before 1985, have lived at least three major earthquakes. Our buildings are pretty well-built, though, with anti-seismic technology, so the damages are mainly in rural areas and/or near the coastline, because of potential tsunamis. Santiago is not near the coast, so we’ve never been caught in a tsunami. Luckily, all of our homes have resisted the different earthquakes.

* How often do you guys play live shows?
Quite often, actually. During 2016 I think we played a gig every month, sometimes twice. We tried to play in different cities. But now we’re resting from live gigs and we’ll work on our next album. We have several songs and we have to rehearse them and look after every detail before entering the studio, which is not scheduled yet, there are no specific dates, so I guess we also have a lot of planning to do, and temporarily stopping our live presentations is important to do it right.

* Do you have any plans to tour countries like Brazil, Argentina and Peru?
Currently, there are no specific plans, but it would be great and we’re definitely interested. We have talked to a couple of Argentinean guys, and I think that’s probably the first place we’ll visit, especially the cities of Argentina which are closer to the Chilean border, but it would be awesome to play in Buenos Aires, which is a massive city. Regarding the other South American countries, I think we have more fans in Colombia than in Brazil, for instance. So maybe that’s another possible destination for a tour.

* Any plans to tour the USA?
Again, we’d love to do it, but we don’t have concrete plans yet. So maybe there are promoters reading this who are interested, and if that’s the case, we’re open to discuss this and actually we would be very exited.

* Do many of the big name Black metal bands Dimmu Borgir, Watain, Mayhem, Marduk etc ever play in Chile?
Yes, all of the bands you mentioned have played in Chile and we have this kind of concerts all the time. In fact, Mayhem was here last October playing the whole De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas album, and it was pretty solid. And Borkganar is playing for the first time in Chile next March.

We haven’t been able to share the stage with any of these big bands yet, but the bands we’d really love to play with will probably never come here because they’re not that big, I’m talking about names like Der Weg Einer Freiheit, Wode, The Great Old Ones, Void Omnia, and a long etcetera.

* What can we expect from Sol Sistere in 2017?
We are planning to record our next full-length. As I mentioned before, we don’t really have dates for our new album, but I can tell you it’s going to be similar in style as our first one, but more diverse at the same time. We’ll keep all the atmospheric and melodic elements, and we’ll show a few new tricks.

We’re also planning a short European tour in mid 2017, mainly in Eastern Europe. I can’t give you details by now, but we’re still working on getting dates and talking to promoters.

* Any final words to your fans?
Thank you for this interview and thanks to all the fans who support our music in one way or another. We’ll give you a great new album and we hope to see you on the road.

Interview with Ordinul Negru – Romanian Black Metal

Today I spoke with the guys in Ordinul Negru – in case you have been living under a rock for the last 11 years these Romanians have been making some of the best Black metal you are going to hear in all of Europe – scroll to the bottom of the page to hear their latest masterpiece “Sorcery of Darkness”

* The name Ordinul Negru mean Black order in English? Is this a magickal path or some occult reference ?
The name represents the hidden, the essence of black metal, an eclectic cult only for a few devoted entities not for the masses, it is a personal approach, we do this for ourselves, for the sake of being alive in an environment that builds shells. This is our primary goal regarding this project, of course we interact with individuals that appreciate what we are doing, we like to play live now and then, we are happy if we receive good words and our albums are spreading into musical world, but we don’t want this to develop into a full-time job, it’s only for the soul because in our opinion this is the true statement of the art: for the sake of art not for the sake of an economic development.

* How is the Black metal scene in Romania these days as opposed to before the fall of Communism
Ironically it is less popular than it was in the nineties…there are fewer bands, but the quality has risen meanwhile…I don’t know if there are possibly ten (black metal) active bands in the scene right now.

* Do you remember how you discovered Black metal? What was the first band you heard that totally blew your mind?
I had a small group of friends and a colleague in school from whom I discovered black metal…I don’t remember exactly but I think the very first black metal album I listened was “Blood Ritual” from Samael…but also the very first releases from the Norwegian scene blew me away, and I still like and listen today to that music…Darkthrone, Mayhem, Emperor…and the second wave Ulver, Satyricon, Arcturus, In the woods…

* You guys have been extremely prolific with your song writing and musical releases – what drives you to be so productive – many bands do not even manage 3 albums in 10 years let alone 7 albums and numerous EP releases in 9 years
I think the passion to express ourselves, as I said we do not look for commercial success, we enjoy the process of composing, doing a pre-production at rehearsals, thinking about the songs, the lyrics, the graphic concept …taking pictures or working with professional photographers…things like that, if you are not under pressure for releasing something you are doing things naturally, without being something artificial, or because it has to be done and to be out at a certain date.

* From memory you did all the vocals up until 2015? Why the change? Do you feel more free now just focusing on the other parts of being in a band?
I just wanted to expand the project, and S is a friend of mine and a good vocalist, so I thought it will be something new and and a different approach.

* I see on your facebook you guys play live with extra members? Do you see the band as a touring entity? or would you rather focus on only playing Special events?
Well now we are a five-piece band, it developed through time, it was nothing planned, actually I wanted to record “Sorcery of Darkness” with Andrei Jumuga on drums and S on vocals, and then to work alone again for another material and to ask them for sessions again…but in the mean time we received some offers to play live and I liked the atmosphere inside this newly formatted group, so we decided to become a band, to play and record together new stuff.

* Your town is Timisoara correct? How is the music scene there? What sort of jobs do you and the guys in the band have so that you can create music?
S lives in Brasov, that is in the middle of the country, and the rest of us yes, we live in Timisoara, that is in the west part of Romania close to the border with Hungry and Serbia.The music scene is pretty decent, we have good stoner/post rock and jazz bands, but into metal or extreme metal territory there are only a few “old” guys that are still around.

Job-wise we are quite different… some are working in the corporate business, one is a professor at the University, others are freelancers as tattoo-artist or working in a musical studio; it’s interesting when we meet late at night how we transform to the other existential personality/dimension and unleash black cords into the rehearsal’s room-air.

* I know that in western Romania there are 3 main dialects spoken Romanian Hungarian and German? Is this why you included some lyrics in German on the Sorcery of Darkness release?
Actually S has German citizenship as he lived there many years, so there has been some musical passages that I though will sound better if he will sing them in German language, there is nothing more to that…also the rest of that song (In ceas de noapte) has Romanian lyrics, it was an experiment…on the new album I don’t think we will do it again, the lyrics will all be in English.

* Historically has there been much bad blood between Romanians Hungarians and Germans?
It depends who is writing that history, in the region we live in there has never been a big problem between nationalities, as far as I know we are the only city in Europe to have in three languages a state theatre: Hungarian, German and Romanian… this is one example; you can also study in this three languages(and others) University degree included…so the bad blood sometimes is provoked by others, maybe occult forces from outside of the country that have strategical interest in this area or left/right side extremists who are taking themselves too serious or have nothing else worth-living to do.

* Have you done much touring in Western Europe yet? If so what are your favorite cities to play?
With Ordinul Negru we played only in Romania until now, with other bands I toured more…I don’t know there have been many great places were I played…in China I had a great time last year for example… festivals I like also because I have the chance to play for bigger audience and meet cool peple…Hell Fest, Party Sun or Kilkim Zaibu in Lithuania (probably my all time fave festival).

As cities Paris, I remember it was a very nice experience.

* What can we expect from Ordinul Negru in 2017?
Well hopefully an European tour in march as far as I know from our booking agency; right now there are being made the last preparation before we announce the country’s/cities we will be in.

Also a new album definitely…we are working very hard in that direction these days.

* Any final words for your friends and fans?
Thank you very much for your attention and support!

Sentient Ruin Laboratories – Record Label Interview

This week I interviewed the elusive “M” from Bay Area Black metal label Sentient Ruin Laboratories, he runs one of the best new labels to come out in recent years – check out his words of wisdom here

Hey dude thanks for doing this

* So you are based in Oakland, were you born and raised there or move their at some point? What drew you to the area? Late last year I spoke with both Atrament and Cardinal Wyrm and marveled that there is a such a tight knit group of musicians in the Bay Area , even though real estate is some of the most priciest in the USA
I’m originally from Europe. I came here casually on a two week vacation to visit a friend and never left. Eight years later, that vacation is still ongoing I guess. Staying here was easy and painless and made total sense for a person like me, and for someone who’s into music as much as I am. I found my ideal environment here. While I was here visiting I went to a few house shows and thought to my self “ok, this is it”.​

* Following up on that why do you think the Bay Area has been such a great source for underground bands for 60+ years?
​I think we need to trace this back to “quest for the West” in contemporary history… California has always been – and was especially in the past – a “frontier land”, that attracted all kinds of fortune seekers in search of new opportunities. This is known history.​ Soon this mass migration of different peoples and cultures into a specific geographical area turned into a fertile ground for countercultures, and SF and the Bay Area started to attract many artists, hippies, and a wide array of people dwelling in countercultures, poetry, alternative arts and philosophies and so on.

This is also known history. This migration turned the Bay Area into a place full of gifted and often eccentric people, and I think this is where the music scene started to become a thing of its own. So even more people moved here to be a part of it and I guess it just snowballed from there. I think people bored with average arts/mentality in suburban mainland American come here to be a part of something that better matches their vision, so a lot of talent ended up flocking here. But you are right, things are changing now. The Silicon Valley started attracting completely different people, who now seek wealth, money and careers, and who are pushing out the long-time artist residents who once could survive on their art and now can no longer do that.

* I call the whole Bay Area the Goldilocks zone weather wise, as in my mind it’s weather is perfect – not too hot not too cold – why do you think (on paper) such a mellow area as the Bay Area has produced its own unique spin on Black Metal?
Well, coming from a Mediterranean country with cold and snowy winters, I can tell you I do enjoy the often sunny/mild winters we have here but I hate the cold ocean in the summer and the otherwise somewhat “spineless” summers where it’s hard to enjoy the beach and the water. I grew up using the amazing Mediterranean water to cool off from the hot summers, and now I feel always “summerless”. The weather here definitely has its pros and cons.

Black Metal here has nothing to do with the weather, as I believe the weather had nothing to do with it in Scandinavia either. Other factors determine the presence, quality, and genotype of black metal in my opinion. With a lot of Bay Area thrash I think that it eventually transmigrating into black metal only made sense. And again, people from all over the world moved here, so they probably also brought their black metal influences and leanings here with them.

* How much of an influence do you think Neurosis has been on the whole Bay Area scene?
Enormous. First in punk, then in heavier and more extreme metal environments. They are a world institution who changed everything. Their legacy transcends and goes well beyond the Bay Area.

* What made you want to launch a record label in this day and age?
I was (and still am) in a band, and while for a band being on a cool label is always an easy seduction and something nice to think about, I’ve always also​ felt the same about the opposite direction: self-releasing. It’s always seemed like a cool thing to me and something to be proud of. So, when my band finally recorded a debut release we looked for labels to release it, but at the same time I also wanted to use the opportunity to experiment with self-releasing.

Since experience and funds were limited I started with a tape release of our debut album since it seemed cheap and viable. Later, without a real plan in mind, I ran into a very cool release by some friends of mine – an album I was deeply drawn to – and which in my eyes was extremely overlooked and which existed only on the band’s Bandcamp as a digital thing. So I decided to put it out on tape for them, and try to get the word out about it, and things haven’t stopped since.

* What record labels did you follow growing up? I know when I was a kid and record releases mattered, if I saw a band’s album I had never heard of before, looked on the back and recognized the record label – I knew what I was getting..was that the same for you?
Yes it was, though some labels were a mixed bag for me, and while I loved most releases they did, I knew they’d publish a turd from time to time as well. At first it was Relapse, HydraHead, Southern Lord, Willowtip, Neurot, Touch and Go, Prank Records, Slap a Ham, Amphetamine Reptile, Profound Lore, Peaceville, Candlelight, Season of Mist, Profane Existence, Earache etc. Toward the mid/late two thousands however I started to get really into labels like Aurora Borealis,​ Utech, Cold Spring, Norma Evangelium Diaboli, Nuclear War Now, Anja Offensive, Osmose, etc. Today those labels are still a huge inspiration.

* Why do you think you primarily focus on digital and cassette releases. The mainstream music industry sees cassettes as a redundant format. What made you focus on cassette releases and have you had any problems with this format yet?
The premise is that we operate outside of any industry and as such what the industry thinks has no role in what we do. Cassettes actually have their loyal cult following, and are highly sought after in some inner circles.

You just need to crack that awareness barrier, and make the tape nerds aware you exist, and of course then put out cool tapes that people will enjoy. I actually love tapes. I think that they are fun and cool items and I definitely fight on their side for their survival and preservation. They also have a cool sound and are practically convenient: small, resistant, etc. I started with tapes simply because they are a great training ground to teach you the job. A label is a thing you build solely by learning from your mistakes, and tapes allow you to make mistakes without taking a huge financial hit. Now that I know more what I am doing, I’ve decided to release vinyl as well. It’s still a learning process, but what I’ve learned from tapes has helped me and now I have some experience and knowledge to curtail bad “business” decisions.

* Your A+R feels like it is all over the place, (which is fucking awesome if you ask me) what does a band have to do to qualify for a Sentient Ruin Laboratories release?
Make music they strongly believe in, be serious about it (record it well etc), be humble, be real, and be homies. Styles don’t matter, it’s more about “this shit’s amazing, and people need to hear it” and that’s where I step in to offer them a hand.

* How do you yourself discover new bands? scour bandcamp daily? word of mouth?
It’s all over the place. I’ve definitely found bands on Bandcamp or from Facebook shares. Other bands like Necrot, Vastum, Leather Glove, etc. are personal friends of mine, people who make music I respect. We became friends through their music even before we worked on a release together, even before the label even existed.​ I yet have to release a band who contacted me asking for a release however….

* What’s been the release you have been most proud of so far and why?
That’s a tough question. American – “Coping With Loss” was the initial defining release that somewhat shaped the initial outlines of the label and kind of established its sound and intents.​

* Are there any bands from music history you wish you had gotten a chance to work with?
Holy shit yes, hundreds. But let’s be real(istic)​…. I’d like to work with this Spanish band called Emanation, and I’d like to work with Sutekh Hexen again soon. In general I’d like to work with more noise, industrial, ambient etc. bands.

* What advice would you give to any bands looking to partner with you?
​Mine is still very much a small label, so I don’t know how much bands are “honored” to be on it, haha. But in general – record stuff that sounds good, and let’s just focus on having fun and learning from each other.​

* With your palace of worms release you split the vinyl release with Broken Limbs records, how did that partnership come about? Do you see yourself doing vinyl releases any time in the near future?
Actually, BLR did the LP completely on their own, I released a tape and co-released that tape with another very cool Bay Area black metal/noise label ​called Acephale Winter Productions. But, I know Pete from BLR as being a fan of his label, and cause he worked with my band in the past on a vinyl release.

* What’s been the biggest headache in running your label so far?
Right now my dog and my girlfriend are hating the boxes of tapes and vinyls that keep piling up in our small apartment seemingly with no end, ahah

* What can we expect in 2017 from Sentient Ruin Lab?
Upcoming in the next month or so are the Gateway tape, the Friendship “I&II” tape and the Petrification debut demo tape along with the vinyl version of VRTRA’s “My Bones Hold a Stillness”, of which the tape came out last fall. The first half of the year will see The new American LP/tape, the new Show of Bedlam LP/Tape, ​and the Friendship “I&II” LP. Planned but with no release schedule set yet are the Leather Glove full length LP/tape, a Black Earth LP/tape, and a few other things I can’t really disclose right now cause they are either still unconfirmed or the bands would not permit.

* Any final words?
It means the world that anyone would want to know more about a small entity like SR. Thanks for the interest and the support!

Interview with the Furor – Blackened Death Metal from Perth Western Australia

The Furor are a great Black/ Thrash / Death band out of Perth Western Australia one of the most remote cities in the world. I spoke to main man Disaster this week about life in Australia, the emerging metal scene in China and other parts of Asia and inspiration found in bleak post apocalyptic films. Read on

* You guys come from Perth Western Australia one of the most isolated cities in the world. Do you think that’s a blessing or a curse for the band?
It probably leans more towards the curse side of things I’d say, but it’s still ok, we have enough of a scene here in Australia to keep us busy, and most of the motivation to do this comes from inside anyway. The biggest downside is travel expenses-It costs us A LOT in airfares to leave our hometown Perth, which coincidentally is the most isolated capital city in the world. Touring in Australia can be difficult – eg not too many cities to play, long travel times etc and to get to another country, we pay 4 times as much as anyone else.

When you see an Australian band touring Europe or America, it’s a display of pure heart, because you know they’ve spent their everything to get there. I’m lucky enough to have toured the world a few times already, but many Australian bands unfortunately never make it out into the world. People always seem interested that we are black metal band based in Australia, I guess it’s a novelty to Europeans, but I don’t reflect on it. I just write the music I enjoy. Geography doesn’t really influence my songwriting.

* How did you guys get into Black metal? what was the gateway band or artists for you? How does a “grim and frost bitten” genre of music that started in Northern Europe translate to people living in Australia?
I would generally say Australian Black Metal has more of a Thrash or Death metal influence. That dry, barbaric, straightforward in your face intent is what defines it much of the time. Sure we have bands that hang our in the fog and sing about nature and stuff, but generally I think Aussie Black Metal is more militant in approach. More like the Canadian bands. We don’t have much history to sing about, so often we just sing about WAR and DEVASTATION. Plain and Simple. The bands that turned me on to extreme metal were Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel, Terrorizer, Bestial Warlust, Destroyer 666, Angelcorpse, Mayhem, Impaled Nazazrene, Marduk, Impiety, Absu etc I first heard Death/Extreme Metal in 93 and continued from there. It was obviously the most vibrant and interesting music choice.

* How hard is it for you guys to tour down there? I know there are great distances between all the major cities? Is touring even something The Furor does? Many black metal bands don’t tour in the traditional sense but choose to play ‘events’?
The Furor has been inactive on the live front for 12 months now, but we toured Australia a lot between 2004- 2007. We did national Australia tours with Behemoth, Marduk and Nile, plus approximately 70 shows in our home town. I like playing live more than anything,but…….. Touring is a huge fuck around in Australia. A very expensive undertaking. Driving between shows is probably more trouble than it’s worth, so we fly around this vast country of ours, and that is expensive. Plus you can only line up about 5 shows for a tour, so making consistent money is very tricky. I was blown away by how easy it was to tour around Europe. Their definition of ‘hard travel’ is laughable by Australian standards. They have the world market in their backyard.

* As a 2 piece band how do you guys deal with playing live shows?
We don’t play live anymore because it’s too hard to find willing members. The lineup was stable for the first 5 years, but members left the band due to lack of enthusiasm. I reformed a 3 piece lineup for some shows last years, but again, the members could not commit. So I moved on too. I have other bands now that are more active than The Furor. The general lineup is myself on drums and vocals, ‘SOMEONE’ on guitar and ‘SOMEONE’ on bass.

It has varied quite a bit over the years.

* What’s been the biggest live show to date you guys have played? and How was the band received?
The biggest and best live show I’ve played with The Furor was probably with Behemoth in Sydney in 2006. Only bout 300 crammed into a club, but there was great energy. That was on their Demigod tour when their popularity was huge! I’ve played much bigger shows with other bands though. Germany…Wacken, With Full Force fest, Rock am Ring, Rock im Park, Pulp Summerslam in the Phillipines, Dubai Desert Rock fest, these were by far the biggest shows I’ve ever played, 50,000 people plus. A huge buzz. I love it.

* What’s the Black metal scene like in Perth? I have had friends in the death metal scene (in the 90s) tell me they are lucky to draw 40 people to a show yet when a big name band like Bolt Thrower or Carcass come to town 1000s of people show up? Why do you think that is? Do you think Perth people have an attitude..”oh they are from over seas they must be good or they are local they can’t be good”? or is it something else?
People generally do come out for the bigger bands of course, but the turnouts for our local bands on a weekly basis are quite good, bout 100ppl for the average weekend show. Sometime twice a week, every week….not bad for a bumfuck isolated town! A lot of it comes down to the promotion, or what else is on that weekend etc There is a large group of people who ONLY come our for International bands and know little about the local scene, because promotion of the local bands is slim I suppose, or local bands don’t have the same quality as touring bands?? Maybe… Many people can’t afford to see every show, so they just pick the big ones.

* Being closer to Asia than the USA and Europe have the band formed ties with say the metal scenes in Korea? China? Singapore ? Malaysia etc?
Yes, I’m not sure you’re aware, but I also play drums in Impiety, one of Asia’s longest running Black/Death Metal bands. In my years touring Asia with Impiety, I’ve made many strong contacts throughout Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, The Philippines and China. We played all these places and I can assure you, the scene is very active and the bands kick arse.

The Asian scene is often overlooked in the world scheme of things. I was impressed with the intensity of it when I saw it first hand. Not only the metal scene, but Asia is an amazing place to travel in general, so much diversity and history.

* Have any of the band visited the USA before and what did they think of it? Did they enjoy it?
I’ve never toured USA before unfortunately!! That’s one of my dreams actually. People tell me it’s a great place to tour. They say it can be tough, but ultimately, VERY WORTHWHILE.

* When I think of Perth and Armageddon I think of the film “These final hours” an end of the world movie filmed in Perth..have you seen it – if so what are your thoughts?
No I haven’t seen that before? This is the first I’ve heard of it?? I’m a big fan of films AND the apocalypse, so I’ll be sure to check it out.

* Speaking of end of the world / Post Apocalyptic films do you have a favorite?
The Day After was a great one, we used to watch it for inspiration. I’m a big fan of the George Romero Zombi films, very bleak and apocalyptic stuff there. The Quiet Earth from New Zealand was a good one too. The Bronx Warriors Ha! Those 80’s Italian action films set in America were great!

* Your new album is called “Cavalries of the Occult” Do any of you guys practice in the occult arts? If so which ones? and what results have you seen so far?
No I don’t personally practice any Occult Arts, although I believe there can be worth to it. The universe is wired up in a very mysterious way, and with the right knowledge, I believe you can attract certain circumstances and tap into non local powers. That’s my intuition anyway. I’ve not looked into it too deeply. I’m too busy playing music.

I’ve had some very bizarre transcendental experiences on Magic Mushrooms and DMT, so I’ll believe almost anything. Almost…. The term Occult in conjunction with the artwork featured on the cover, seemed perfect. The Furor’s music definitely has a dimension of ‘Occultishness’ to the sound, a violent bombardment of sinister evil.

* What was the recording process like for “Cavalries of the Occult” – do you go to a studio or prefer to record with a home set up?
I recorded everything at home on my own computer. The drums were recorded live in my rehearsal space, and guitars were tracked at a friend’s house. The final mix was done by Nizam Aziz at studio 47 in Singapore. Nizam and myself have a long history together. We toured and played in Impiety for a few years, he’s mixed 5 of Impiety’s previous releases which were great. It was very easy to work with him because of our history together, he knows my style of music extremely well!

* How are the songs written – since you are a drummer and a guitarist, do you start with a guitar riff or a good drum pattern first?
I always begin with guitars. I write enough riffs for an clever arrangement, all guitars, then I write lyrics/vocals, then drums are the last thing to be added. I’ll demo the songs with myself on all instruments, then I write it out for the members to learn. I think our music is actually quite riff based. Some think it’s mostly drums, but I’d beg to differ. Mindless brutality doesn’t interest me too much, even super fast extreme drumming can bore me. I need to hear riffs with intention and a story. The riffs carry the song.

* Was it always your plan to drum and sing? Would you ever want to step from behind the kit at all?
I originally started drumming and singing in 1997 with my previous band PAGAN. Then I wanted to do it for the Furor years later. I love doing vocals and writing lyrics, I always have. It can be physically demanding to do drums and vocals simultaneously, but it’s rewarding. It looks insane and it seems to command respect from people. I also sing in a Black/Thrash band called BLOODLUST. It’s great to play a show as vocalist, it gives you a whole different angle. I mosh my ass off when I’m doing vocals alone. You can throw your whole body into it, unlike doing drums and vocals.

* Do you guys have a ‘bucket list” of shows you want to play any where in the world? if so let’s hear them.
Not specifically, but yes of course, we take our music seriously and want to go to as many places as we can manage. USA tour would be great, I’d love to see your country in full.

* Any final words to your friends and fans?
Check out the new album ‘Cavalries of the Occult’, soon to be unleashed on Transcending Obscurity records. Thanks for the support thus far and I promise to do my best making the sickest music possible. Hailz!!! Urghhh!!!!

Interview with Soulemission – Black Metal from the Netherlands

I spoke with Roel from the Dutch band Soulemission today – if you like your black metal with Dissection and Emperor influences then check these guys out.

* How did your record deal with Black Lion records in Sweden happen?
We sent out quite a few promo packages to metal labels. There were labels, also one bigger one, that showed interest but nothing really materialized. One day I saw someone on Facebook mentioning the band Hyperion. I checked them out, liked what I heard and then I saw they were on Black Lion Records. I just sent them 2 songs and almost immediately got a reaction that they liked our material and wanted to sign us. So that worked out great. It’s cool to have this album finally released.

* How did you get Niklas from the Shining to do vocals on Seas of Emptiness? Did you guys work together in the studio or did you just do everything over the internet? If you did indeed work together how did you find him to be in real life – I know a lot of people get mad at the guy (which he loves)
Niklas is a longtime friend of Benny, they also work together in Shining.

We thought that “Seas of Emptiness” would fit perfect with his type of vocals, and it worked out great! He recorded his vocal parts in Sweden and then send it to us, easy as that.

I understand if people have difficulties with him but he is a good friend of us and a professional in his job.

* Was it a deliberate choice to not have a drummer in the band? How do you plan your songs? Computers? drum machine?
The way this band started out is that Benny and myself had an idea to make some good extreme metal with variety in it. We threw some riffs around and recorded this at Benny’s home studio with a computer drum program. After this we asked Michel to join on vocals. We looked around for drummers but it’s hard in our neighbourhood to find one that fits our style. So we utalized the skills of Menthor (Enthroned), another friend of Benny, and he did an amazing job. Live we will use a session drummer and bassist for now.

* How do you guys write your songs? Does it start with a guitar riff? A lyric? An idea for a mood?
It always starts with riffs, yes. I have a riff library on my computer and I store riffs that could go together in a song. Then I’ll bring that to Benny and we record it decent on his computer. He puts the computer drums under it, then we check if it goes together with some of his riffs and that’s how we write. When the music is finished Michel will come up with the lyrics.

* What made you guys want to play black metal as opposed to say traditional metal or thrash metal?
We already played in Thrash and Death metal bands so now it was time for Blackmetal….just kidding! I don’t really see our music as pure Black metal. I think it also has elements of Death/Thrash and traditional metal. But of course Michel’s voice is pretty Black metal. What we wanted to do is play a style that was not too limited. We wanted to create strong moods, dark melodies and dynamics but still be raw. We especially like the Scandinavian scene from the nineties because a lot of those bands have these elements. So it was just a matter of playing the music we like and not care about being current or trendy.

* Does the name Soulemission mean in English Soul Mission? Do you believe in life after death? in past lives?
We threw around lots of bandnames and Michel came up with Soulemission. It’s Soul and Emission glued together. You can see it as the process of dying, the soul leaving the body which a lot of people believe. But also the outpouring of our souls into our music.

I believe in Live after Death as being an amazing live album by the one and only Maiden haha! None of us believe in religious fairytales, we don’t need that in our lives.

* Michel has been in Cirith Gorgor and Roel was in the classic band Prostitute Disfigurement when you guys formed Soulemission what did you set out to do different from your previous bands?
Well Benny was also in Prostitute Disfigurement. Him and I go way back and we’ve always been a great team. On stage, in the studio and in the bar! We had a great time in Prostitute Disfigurement and experienced a lot of cool things. The only thing I was missing was being able to spread out musically. So now we can use the occasional acoustic guitar, a synth here and there. That’s very important for me. Because I listen to a lot of different stuff.

*Eindhoven has always been a great city for metal – are all of you guys from Eindhoven or have you come from other parts of Holland?
Benny is from Eindhoven, Michel has been living in Eindhoven for a long time now and I grew up and live in a town next to Eindhoven. Of course it has a great metal history because of the Dynamo bar and festival but there aren’t a lot of metal bands from Eindhoven that made it big. Eindhoven is more famous for it’s rock bands.

* Did any of the band attend Eindhoven metal meet in 2016 ? if so what did you think? I used to attend some of the Dynamo metal festivals in the 90s – you dutch guys know how to host a great party!
Benny attends the festival every year, mostly for his job (sound engineer). It’s a great festival and always nice to meet up with a lot of people from the business again.

* Have you guys played many live shows yet? Are you planning to tour? if so what would be the dream cities for Soulemission to play?
We did two try out shows last summer. One with Dutch band Carach Angren which went great. We are hoping to play more. We are signed to Doomstar booking agency so that’s already a step in the right direction. We don’t have a preference for certain cities but of course for certain festivals…because that’s where you can show yourself to a big audience.

* Any final words for your friends and fans?
I know there are a shitload of bands nowadays and it’s hard to be recognized as a new band but if you like some challenging, varied, exciting extreme metal please take a moment to check out our band. Please leave us a reply and spread the word. And we’ll be eternally grateful!

Interview with Severoth – Atmospheric Black Metal From The Ukraine

I spoke with the artist Severoth this week read on to hear about life in the Ukraine, conflict with the Russians, his black metal influences and much more

* You are based in the Ukraine correct? How is life there? Please tell our readers what its like
– Hi, Yes, I’m from Ukraine. Well, I don’t lived in other countries to compare, so I’d say all is OK. At least I’m still alive.

* Your province is Dnipropetrovsk Oblast correct? My Ukrainian friends say this is the big industrial part of the country –  Birmingham England (the industrial part of England) has spawned some of the best metal bands in the world ? (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest etc) do you think coming from an Industrial place makes you become more creative as an artist?
Yes, I live in Dnipro.

This is big industrial city indeed, but I don’t think that this inspires me somehow… I don’t very like big amounts of people (and people at all) and prefer to be in solitude or with my family. I feel much better when I go to my special places outside town or in my journeys through Carpathian Mountains.

* One of my favorite bands Drudkh is also from the Ukraine – why do you think so much good Black metal comes from the Ukraine and Eastern Europe these days?
I think this is connected to history of our land. It filled with betrayals and blood. Our language was forbidden more than 30 times (and they’ve done it. Many people here speak Russian…) Countries tried to occupy our lands for generations (and they did it too with soviet union until 1991). In 1920s  Soviets killed mostly all Ukrainian traditional musicians and then many poets who write in Ukrainian language. They did Holodomor in 1932-1933. I think we have much hatred in our hearts. Good reason to play BM, heh?

* Countries like Poland still have a very strong Catholic influence in the society (probably why so many “satanic” bands come from there) is The Ukraine a Catholic strong hold too?
We have strong influence of church on people, but this is orthodox church. Some catholic influence we have too. in Western Ukraine.

* Is there much tension between people from the Ukraine and Russians? Living in America it is not easy to see through the propaganda of the mainstream media to know what is really going on there.
We have war in country. They started this war. I consider Russians as enemies. That’s all.

* What subjects do you sing about?
I’d call it “Nature Philosophy”. Lyrics are just my minds while I walking among forests and mountains. Also Ukrainian classical poetry influenced me heavily.

* Which bands inspired you to become a Black metal musician?

* How do you write your songs? Do you start with a keyboard part? A guitar riff? or is it more the idea to create a “mood”?
Definitely a guitar riff. Often I hear some melodies in my head and then I pick them on guitar.  All keyboard layers I do after guitars are done.

* As a one man project do you have any plans to play live in the future? If so would you play with backing tracks or would you prefer a live band?
I don’t think that there would be some live performances of Severoth. My other project MOROK has much more chances to do live shows. I know some good friendly musicians, so gather a live line up would be easy to do. Also I already play live as drummer in Endless Battle.

* Have you traveled to many countries outside the Ukraine? If so what were your favorites?
I was in Latvia once. We play gig with Endless Battle there. To get there we crossed Poland and Lithuania. Good countries. I liked that I saw there.

* Have you ever visited the USA? If so what did you think about it?
No, I’m never been in USA.

* What can we expect from Severoth in 2017?
Third album. I’m working on it right now.

* Any final words to your friends and fans?
Be yourself.


Transcending Obscurity Records – Interview with Main man Kunal

Every few years a record label comes along and really shakes things up in the music industry, labels like Metal Blade, Earache and Relapse spring to mind. In case you haven’t noticed in recent years that label is Transcending Obscurity records based in India! This week I spoke to main man Kunal on the Black Metal scene in India, bandcamp versus physical releases, “Vedic” metal and much more! Read on

* So where about in India are you from? My very limited knowledge of India is that the province of Bangalore is hungry for anything western and are huge metal fans. I have also been told Northern India (farming land) is very beautiful and not over crowded at all.
Thank you very much first and foremost! This is very much appreciated. I’m from Mumbai aka Bombay, India. It’s the commercial capital of our country and indeed, the most developed city. Despite the congestion, I love the fact that people here are among the most professional ones and that they are open-minded, which is not easy to find in an orthodox country like India. India is like a mini-Europe you can say. Every state has its own culture and heritage. You are correct that parts of Northern India are indeed beautiful and cities like Jaipur and Udaipur in particular are gorgeous and have significant historical value. The congestion can be found mostly in the developed cities as a result of better job opportunities there.

* What do you think the advantages of being based in India are for running a worldwide metal label – what do you think the disadvantages are? I know many guys in metal bands who would LOVE to fly out and play shows in India (not just the big name bands either)
I think the only advantage is that the word here travels fast and people know your work soon enough. But there really aren’t enough metalheads here as there are in the western countries. One of the biggest disadvantages is the fact that there are no vinyl or tape manufacturing companies over here and it’s an area where my label is admittedly lagging behind. I hope with tie-ups and distribution, that becomes a possibility for Transcending Obscurity Records some time this year. Where it comes to live shows, the Indian audience is usually very enthusiastic and supportive.

* Being in the sub continent of Asia have you forged any partnerships with the metal scenes in China? Korea? Japan? Malaysia? Have you done much or any traveling to these countries at all?
I have done more of that you can say with India’s neighbours in Pakistan and Bangladesh significantly. There’s still a language or awareness problem where it comes to China, but I’ve signed three bands from Singapore this year and have been in talks with one from South Korea. Things should be better next year when I’ll be making a foray into the Indonesian metal scene as well as Japan, hopefully! I do wish to resume doing shows as I did earlier but only time will tell when I’ll be able to do that, what with my incredibly busy schedule these days.

* Like I said above I am not very well versed with the Black metal scene in your part of India. What got you into black metal – was it from some of the second wave bands Mayhem? Dimmu Borgir? Burzum etc or did you discover Black Metal via Death metal?
Emperor were one of the first black metal bands I heard. They were quite respected back in the day and even though it took me a while to get into it, with better sounding tapes, I came to highly appreciate that genre, especially nowadays. The texture and atmosphere is something that can’t be easily replicated with other styles. I think out of the five main genres (death, black, thrash, doom and grind), black metal is the most atmospheric and leaves a lasting impact.

* How easy is it in India to keep up with Black metal news and new bands?
The word of mouth and Facebook keeps you abreast of such developments in the black metal realm, but every now and then, you find yourself surprised with new black metal bands emerging. I guess it’s the same everywhere in that regard, except for the fact that motivation and the facilities to start one here aren’t the best, admittedly.

* Are there any Black metal bands who write about the old Indian gods or beliefs? (as Scandinavian ones write about the old Norse Gods)
90% of the bands here are directly influenced by the western ones – heck, some even write about Christianity even though it doesn’t really affect them, which I find ridiculous. Heathen Beast are perhaps the only black metal band actually employing traditional Indian instruments such as sitar, tabla, etc. Rudra from Singapore, who are hailed as pioneers of ‘Vedic Metal’ are hugely instrumental in fostering the ‘Indian’ element in metal music this part of the world in particular.

* What made you want to start a record label in the “digital age”? I am a great believer in that the digital age has made things better AND worse for bands and record labels alike but I would like to hear your perspective on this.
I honestly prefer the era of physical products. If I have to pay for something, I’d much rather have a physical version with me. It’s the same with a book. But on the other hand, there’s this convenience of instantly getting a digital copy without having to incur ever-increasing international shipping costs and sometimes risk damage to the product. The biggest problem with digital formats is that it’s extremely susceptible to piracy. The so-called fans would much rather torrent off something for free than value the music and pay for it. There are costs involved, to say the least, even in putting it out. It’s a lot worse this side of the world but I’m hoping by putting them across multiple platforms for dirt cheap, at least some will respect the artist and pick up an official copy. It’s not that they can’t afford it; we’re talking about mostly an English-speaking upper-middle class of metal audience in the country who can afford going to expensive pubs and shows, but shy away from picking up an official copy of an album. It’s just taken for granted and the fact that they claim to listen to it, apparently justifies their act of downloading it illegally. With so many streams, surely they can preview the material beforehand but it’s just an excuse and they just want to take the easier way out much to the detriment of everyone involved in putting out an album.

* How do you find your bands and what is the criteria for you signing them? (For the record I think you have great taste and are really uncovering some amazing music here!)
To be honest, I’m not very rigid with regards to the approach. I don’t care if someone has dropped me a song link on Facebook or some hugely respected band member has personally recommended the band to me. I sincerely check out every decent proposal from a band even though that’s very time consuming. I consider myself fortunate to come across some fantastic bands. My label isn’t the biggest out there, so sure, I do face rejections and find bands opting for a more prominent and a US-based/European-based label over one that’s from India, despite my deal being a far better one, but all said and done, it’s been fruitful and I hope to get a chance to work with more such great acts. I mostly look for originality or some form of innovation in their music, but at the end of the day, it should sound good to my ears. I really don’t care where the band is from or how often do they tour live. I’m not the best businessman in that sense but I can sleep peacefully at night knowing that I’ve done something right despite the increased risks in case of some brand new bands.

* What would you say has been your best success as a record label so far?
I was first of all quite surprised with the response to the release of Affliction Gate (France) which has already been sold out. Seedna (Sweden) picked up tremendously well even though I expected better from Swampcult (Netherlands) and even Abyssus (Greece) which were released around the same time. With that said, even Stench Price (International) and Echelon (International) did pretty well comparatively but it’s too soon to talk about the late-2016 releases perhaps. The best success of 2016 would probably have to be Rudra (Singapore) though. They are legends here and I’m hoping for even more sales via word-of-mouth.

* Do you have a check list of goals that you want to achieve as a label? Example: finding an unknown band from say South Korea or new Zealand and making them into a worldwide name band?
Actually I do! It entails venturing into formats such as vinyl and tape, securing US distribution through a tie-up of sorts, working with bands of some repute and well, that’s about it haha. I almost put in the same level of promotional effort behind every band, and frankly, it’s tiring at times. I feel like I have to start all over again with every release and I dread that process nowadays. It’s never easy, at least until you’ve been around for quite some time and have established a name for yourself as a label. But it’s also a great feeling when it catches on and then you get to breathe a sigh of relief haha. But it’s rarely on some kind of an autopilot mode, if you get my point, especially in the case of smaller bands. At times I have to remain regretful of it not doing well despite my high hopes and tremendous effort for the same.

* Do you ever foresee a time when Black metal would become as popular as it is? I just saw the Enslaved 25th anniversary show in NYC early December and I am sure if we both asked them 25 years ago would you still be doing this now they would be “what? no way!’
I think it’s partly to do with the evolution of the genre. Enslaved for instance aren’t playing the kind of black metal they played on ‘Vikingligr veldi’ or ‘Frost’. I think it’s only logical and that’s the best chance bands have to expose their music to a wider audience. This is the way metal will grow and sustain itself, despite the formation of several new sub-genres in the last few years. I met a kid at an art school who, upon being quizzed about metal, replied, “I only listen to sludge.” Gone are the days when you could expect a metalhead to appreciate all metal sub-genres. It’s getting compartmentalized and not in a necessarily healthy way. The audience is getting fragmented and perhaps the more “progressive” influences would still appeal to a normal rock fan or perhaps even a casual open-minded listener. So it’s difficult for the old timers to digest this, and I’d much rather that the ‘legendary’ bands would start new bands playing a different expression of the music than to sully their name playing music that’s extremely diluted. Some pull it off well but most of them lose their potency or relevancy, especially in death metal.

* You work with a lot of bands pushing the boundaries of what defines “black metal”, experimental, atmospheric etc etc What are your thoughts on the way Black Metal has morphed over the years? (For me Ulver’s early records sounded like darkthrone wannabes and then they did an album pretty much folk music yet it was still considered Black metal is a prime example of how quickly the genre was being re-defined)
I think the genre has seen most growth along with perhaps doom metal (if you were to consider sludge as a part or an extension of doom). I’m very glad it sidestepped the overdone Christianity bit and started doing something more pleasant and even personal. It’s a genre where it’s easier to blend influences from other styles and yet not betray the black metal sound. It allows for a lot more experimentation and the structures aren’t necessarily confined to a strict template. I want to work with bands that have their own feel to it, their own personal touch. Seedna, Norse, Somnium Nox on the label for instance all have their own sound and atmosphere. It’s not interchangeable but it’s something that is inherent in those bands. It’s increasingly becoming an art form, an experience.

* Is piracy an issue in India or is that more for big name bands like Iron Maiden – I know in places like China and south America up to 90% of music cds can be pirate copies.
As I touched up on the subject earlier, it’s a huge issue. I know for a fact many of the band members themselves endorse or don’t mind illegal downloading – that’s because they do it too. They’re content. Very few would actually buy an original copy after having downloaded it and even enjoyed it. That’s the problem. I’ve been forced to use a Bandcamp pro account with selective song streaming because otherwise they’ll just rip off an entire stream. I have to pay for the pressing, promotion, hosting, advertisement, distribution, not to mention sometimes giving bands royalties upfront, but with no one actually supporting the music the way they should, it’s not looking good. I think the initiative must come from the bands themselves. They should be setting a better example instead of whining all the time why people don’t come to their shows and how the scene is dying. They’re partly responsible for that too if they don’t support the scene or other deserving bands and expect everyone else to do that for their own band. I’m tired of losing money and these days  I’m just focusing on the international market where most buyers, if they like the music, they pick up a copy regardless of the format. That’s the reason I’m working with fewer bands from India and supplanting them with international ones. I can’t put out everything that’s being recorded and with the sub-labels having nearly fulfilled their purpose, it’s time to focus only on the main label now, Transcending Obscurity Records.

* Do you have ties to the promoters of Bangalore Open air? If so what are the chances of them bringing some of your bands out to play the festival? Would you ever consider a Transcending Obscurity music festival?
You sure have done your homework haha! That’s easily the biggest metal festival in the country but again, despite the promoter Salman doing a commendable job, the support could be better. He has often included my sub-label bands for his shows and it’s been great for exposure. I can only hope that some day he can even include some of the international bands on my label for his festival.

I have done a show in my city called Transcending Obscurity Fest just a few years back. Nine bands from across the nation played for that one. I do hope to start doing shows again, but not now, only a couple of years later when I can find some more time besides my label/PR activities.

* Speaking of festivals are there any festivals you personally wish you could attend? Wacken? Hellfest? Maryland death fest? Bloodstock Uk etc?
Oh I’d love to attend Maryland Deathfest in the US and also Obscene Extreme Fest in Czech Republic! Travelling there is damn expensive for sure but here’s hoping some day I can be there for at least one of them!  I also intend to travel in and around Asia to attend shows there from now on.

* What can we expect musically from Transcending Obscurity in 2017?
In addition to the releases that are already up for pre-orders this year, we’re looking at new releases of Drug Honkey (US), Mindkult (US), Norse (Australia), MRTVI (UK), Somnium Nox (Australia), Arkheth (Australia) and biggies in Paganizer (Sweden) and Ursinne (International). There’s also physical releases of Lurk (Finland) and Warcrab (UK) planned and possibly another Deceased (US) album reissue. I’m constantly in touch with bands but these are confirmed releases so far and should be out or up for pre-orders by mid-2017.

* Any final words to all your friends and fans?
Thank you so much for this well-thought interview! I’m doing my best here and it’s exhausting but I’m determined. Please check out our NEW Facebook page only for the label here –

We have a flat rate worldwide shipping of just $3.99 USD and I hope more people become aware of our label and find something of interest! If there are areas where we can improve, please let us know and we’ll do our best.

Lastly, we have a 55-bands free-for-download label sampler here –

Cheers and thanks again!

Official website –
Official Transcending Obscurity Records Bandcamp –

Kunal C.

Check out his labelsampler below