Archive for February, 2015

Aberdonian one man black/speed metaller Hellripper is my new favourite band. Not in a long time have I heard a demo recording that I’ve kept coming back to as much as this. Channelling vintage Sodom, what’s not to like? I chatted with James McBain, the Hellripper himself, to find out what goes into the process behind this year’s sleeper hit.
Tell us a little bit about the formation of Hellripper, what was the genesis of it?
I started Hellripper simply because I couldn’t find other musicians in my area that were interested in playing this kind of music. I had the idea to do this back in 2012 or so and wrote some songs back then but I never got around to actually releasing anything until just recently.

What’s your history in metal, what got you into it in the first place?

I think the first “proper” metal band I heard and loved was Iron Maiden which must have been when I was about 10 or something. It was when I saw the video for ‘Run to the Hills’ on TV which prompted me to buy ‘The Number of the Beast’ and ‘Powerslave’. Soon after this, I discovered thrash metal and recall buying ‘Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?’ and ‘…And Justice For All’, both of which are still big influences on me.

Hellripper is clearly influenced by the 80s speed/black metal crossovers like Sodom and early Bathory, but which other bands are important to Hellripper’s sound?

 Sodom and Bathory are definite influences on the sound I am going for. Sabbat from Japan are also a very big influence on the sound. Similar old-school bands such as the obvious Venom and Motorhead play a big part on how the music sounds. The influences are not limited to the old-school though as bands such as Midnight and Enforcer are favourites of mine. Hardcore punk, crust and thrash metal are also a big part of Hellripper’s sound.

I reviewed the Manifestation of Evil, your debut EP, a while back here at The Killchain, how has it been received in the general scene? Personally I thought it was fucking killer.

Thanks for the positive words on the EP, I am glad you enjoy it! From what I have seen so far, the response has been very positive which I am of course very pleased about!
Where do you get your lyrical inspiration from?
The whole speed/thrash metal thing lends itself well to horror imagery so I tend to write things in that vein. The lyrics usually come from stuff I have read or have seen on TV etc. I usually write the music first, then think of a fitting title to the music and then write lyrics based on the title.
How is your local scene, are there a lot of bands around there for gigs?
The local scene in Aberdeen at the moment is very good and still it is constantly improving. There are a variety of genres represented by the scene here from punk to doom to powerviolence and there are some excellent bands of all styles. The great thing about the metal and punk scene in Aberdeen is that gigs often do not just stick to having one style of music represented. For example, you could have a punk band, a death metal band and a sludge band playing at the same gig which for a fan of all of the genres like I am is brilliant.

What’s the next step for Hellripper? I hear you have a split coming up, any information you can give us on that?

At the moment I have 2 splits planned, however I don’t want to say anything about these until they are confirmed. For these planned splits, 4 new songs have been written as well as a cover song which if these splits do not go ahead will be released anyway in some other form. I currently have a few more songs written that will be released at some point whether they be as part of an EP or as part of a split etc. I am also currently in the middle of the writing process for the first album.
You covered Rats of Reality’s song ‘Armed with the End’ recently, is the hardcore/crust punk scene something that influences your style?
I am also a part of Rats of Reality so the Hellripper version ‘Armed With the End’ is just a slight reworking of the song that was released on the first Rats of Reality EP. I have always felt that song would fit Hellripper’s style and thought it would be a fun idea to “cover” it in a slightly thrashier/blackened vein. To answer your question, yes hardcore and crust are a big part of my style and that probably shows more in Rats of Reality, however bands such as Discharge, (newer) Darkthrone, Amebix and Anti Cimex are huge influences on the style of Hellripper and I guess that’s where some of the simplicity comes from.

Is there a chance we’ll be getting to see Hellripper on the stage sometime soon or is it to be a studio project?

I am hoping to take Hellripper to the stage in the future. I have been talking with a few friends who may be interested in being part of it, however for the moment it is still a studio project.

Finally, if you have anything else to add in here, feel free! Thanks for talking to us

Thanks for taking the time to listen to the EP! Like the Facebook page for updates and check out ‘The Manifestation of Evil’ on bandcamp.

Apostate - Time of Terror

Ukrainian doomlords Apostate are unleashing their second record, ‘Time of Terror’ this year, following a five year gap since their debut ‘Trapped in a Sleep’. They’ve been together in some form on and off since 1995, but have been active mainly since 2009. Five huge tracks, compiling a full 53 minutes of dirging, melancholic death doom goodness, make up ‘Time of Terror’.

Opener ‘Solar Misconception’ sums up their sound pretty succinctly. Huge dark riffs, highlighted by mournful lead melodies and a thunderously slow pace, complete with deep throated growls make this a dream for fans of Swallow the Sun or early Anathema. The overall atmosphere is very miserable and dark, although there is an explosion of fury at the end of ‘Solar Conception’ that provides a welcome change of pace. I like this genre a lot; the crush and heft of the riffs along with the mournful leads and rumbling growls appeal to me but the key is keeping my attention. There’s no point putting in 50 odd minutes of the same thing, because I’ll turn it off. Apostate manage this purely because the songwriting is strong. Blending trad doom with the darkness of death metal and flashes of black metal ferocity keep this album working very well.

Be it the shimmering black metal influence on ‘Pale Reflection’, the crawling deathly ‘Pain Served Slow’ or the grim bleakness of crushing closer ‘World Undying’, Apostate’s sophomore album is a masterclass in sorrowful, lamenting doom majesty. This is a record that glowers from a lonesome peak at the dying world beneath, a single tear on its black cheek. Keep an eye on this lot, they could be something really good.


Originally published here:

Xibalba are a death metal/hardcore band from Pomona, California and ‘Tierra Y Libertad’ is their third album. Signed to Southern Lord, and employed legendary cover artist Dan Seagrave to do their album art shows that they’re serious about being a contender in this world. But, that worryingly ‘familiar’ genre style, ‘deathcore’, might be a struggle to overcome in this saturated market.

Fortunately, Xibalba employ ‘deathcore’ virtues more in the vein of the Acacia Strain than any shitty, fluorescent scene deathcore band. This is a properly mixed blend of mid 90s death metal riffs and crushing breakdowns laden with intensity. Opening track ‘Enemigo’ is a good example. There is a massive low end to this, and it has that Southern Lord hardcore feel. The label tends to pick up bands of this ilk that have something almost dissonant in their breakdown/riffs, and it appears here. This is a battering into submission track, grabbing your attention firmly by the balls, and then slamming you into the ground.

‘Guerilla’ brings a massive, Morbid Angel style groove after the opening samples, alternating between titan riffs and barrelling, hardcore bludgeon. ‘Invierno’ is more of the same, but this time with some vast Bolt Thrower riffs. Xibalba know their riffs and they know their influences. They have a potent cocktail of dense death metal and hardcore aggression. The vocals are more or less as you’d expect from a hardcore/death metal band, but the groove is fucking righteous, which is not what you’d expect.

That’s what makes me really enjoy this record. Bands that mix and match between death and hardcore generally leave out a sense of head nodding groove. The liberating ‘Pausa’ allows the record to breathe, if only for a minute, before ‘En Paz Decanse’ bulldozes everything in its path. The mammoth earth rupturing riffs in the mid part of the song show every floppy fringed scenecore dick how to do a breakdown properly. There’s some great guitar lines here too, bringing to mind some classic Crowbar in points. It’s truly awesome. This Crowbar influence is also all over the slow burning intro to ‘Si Dios Quierre’, and epic closer ‘El Vacio’.

‘Tierra Y Libertad’ would be great simply because it’s created a reason for the term ‘deathcore’ to stay relevant. But it’s also great because it is heavier than a whale fucking the Moon, it has grooves the size of the Realm Of Chaos (check out that ‘World Eater’ worship that runs through the title track), and still comes up with little surprises with every listen. If only all mixes of genres could be this devastating…

Originally posted here:

Rwake, Little Rock Arkansas’s sludgeyest sons, have got the good folks over at Relapse to re-release their original demo, ‘Xenoglossalgia: The Last Stage Of Awareness’, which was originally available only in their little corner of America when it was released in the 90s. Rwake, which it turns out is just pronounced ‘wake’ (the things you learn while doing album research), are a pretty unique entity in the world of sludge doom goodness. Fusing almost symphonic black metal grandeur into grinding riffs and howling vocals is not something you come across often.

‘Xenoglossalgia…’ is, as you’d expect, the rawer, unpolished gem in the band’s stellar catalogue. It’s always interesting to go back to early recordings to see where bands started compared with what they evolved into. After an acoustic intro, using what appears to be mandolin that tinkles almost eerily by, the band begin to build their layers of sludge. ‘Stairwell’ starts this, a droning tribal drumbeat provides the foundation while atonal guitar lines creep in around raw vocals. There is then an explosion of thudding sludge doom riffing, but without dropping to that caveman sludge style. Rwake have always seemed to think outside of the box, ‘Xenoglossalgia…’ just proves they’ve been doing it since day one.

‘Or Die’, after unsettling you greatly with its terrifying sample at the start, is the next layer. A titanic slice of funereal sludge dirge and doom, ‘Or Die’ is aided in generating the atmosphere by what seems to be a tolling bell in places. The song has some excellent riffs, and it’s amazing to hear the maturity that Rwake possessed even at this early stage in their career. The title track is a strange mix of samples and repetitive electronic sounds which only adds to the feeling of instability. For a band that went on to make some seriously soaring sludge doom, their experimental streak is a mile wide in some of these early tracks. Thankfully ‘Nagarachi’ gets us right back on track with some righteous Southern groove and aggressive vocals.

A crisp, delicate ‘Interlude’ leads us towards the doom/sludge/black metal/noise leviathan that is ‘Calibos/So Fucking Tired’. A true lesson in the subtleties of dynamics, sampling, riffs and mind bending noise freakouts, and featuring some caustic black metal moments that really make you sit up and take notice. Rwake didn’t really just become something special, they started off that way. For a band to make something like this in their ‘demo’ phase is somewhat staggering. Now that it is finally available to us non Arkansans, we should all take advantage.

New Torver material is always exciting news for me. Their filthy, raw black metal assault on last year’s ‘From Beyond the Abyss’ demo was invigorating and yet, oh so short. So their new split, with fellow black metallers Arcane North, should be something that should tickle my lobes just nicely.

Opening with Torver’s contribution first, ‘Moonrise’ is a moody, ambient instrumental piece that sets a sombre and eerie tone. Wolves howl as a swell of orchestration appears, building the atmosphere perfectly. ‘Naked in the Wilderness’ throbs with menace, chanting until a soaring riff and howling rasp appear to shatter the mood. This is very different from the Torver we know from previous work; it is possessed of a grander vision and, while still rather necro in places, shows a grand evolutionary step. The band are not afraid to add some almost hymnal vocal parts, and take reference from any number of atmospheric black metal bands to grow some cool riffs. The harsher segments mesh well, and it feels almost avantgarde in places. ‘Lunar Ritual’ leads with the hoot of an owl and a rasping, raw black metal assault. Torver are on more familiar territory here, and it rips straight to the bone with savage, primal rage. Yet synth melodies are still prevalent, showing that the band are evolving without abandonment of their raison d’etre. Laden with more of the haunting choral effects, and spoken word sections, ‘Lunar Ritual’ is the most ambitious piece Torver have written.

Arcane North’s contributions begin with ‘Invoke the Spirit of the North’, my first experience of the band entirely outside a Darkthrone cover on the recent ‘One Cold Night in Norway’ compilation. But what I hear, I like very much. ‘Invoke the Spirit…’ is eight minutes of fine atmospheric black metal majesty. Continuing this vein, ‘Cold Lonely Moors’ is vast and desolate, yet rich in both melody and atmosphere. There’s a wonderful, hypnotic quality to the icy riffing, but they don’t lack aggression when it is called for. The droning, Tom G Warrior vocal section around the 8 minute mark is also killer. It’s probably my favourite track on this split, although it’s a close call with ‘Lunar Ritual’.

Closing with ‘Moonset’, (unsurprisingly) Arcane North bring us full circle on what may prove to be a watermark for quality black metal splits for 2015. Mixing atmospheric black metal with the raw, and throwing in dark ambient pieces as well, Torver and Arcane North have both set themselves high bars to beat on their following releases.

Support here:

Chiral became a great discovery for me last year. I really got into their Abisso demo thanks to Steve at Sixsixsix Music recommending it to me, and have since followed them very closely. Mainman Teo has graciously answered some of my questions about the band, metal in general and the Italian scene.

Hi Teo, thanks for doing this for me!

Hey Sandy, it’s a pleasure to be interviewed by you.

What’s your history in the metal scene? Which bands got you really interested?

Oh, I see we start nicely. That’s the first time that someone asks me these questions.
So, if I can say that I have a real history in the metal scene probably everything started the first time I listened to Opeth’s ‘Master’s Apprentices’. It was probably 2006, when I was 15. At that time I had never heard nothing like growls and double kick drums. I was definitely struck by them. And after that my interest in extreme metal music grew exponentially…and is still growing impressively, and it probably won’t never stop!

So I said Opeth caught me at the very beginning. But other bands that helped me get inside the extreme metal world were: Shape of Despair, Cynic, Death, Bloodbath and The Black Dahlia Murder.

Where did the genesis for Chiral come from?

I started with Chiral in February 2014 when I released my demo “Winter Eternal”. All the tracks in the demo were recorded between October and December 2013, but at that time I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do with these recordings, not yet. And the name takes inspiration from the TV series “Breaking Bad”.

What is the main lyrical and musical inspirations behind Chiral?

Lyrically I’m inspired mostly by my life, my fears and my thoughts. Musically I’ve wide inspirations. They go from classic Swedish death metal to atmospheric black metal, from electronic music to fusion. But my major influences probably are Opeth, Wolves In The Throne Room, The Pat Metheny Group, Dissection and Porcupine Tree (early years).

You’re a one man project, does that make life easier or harder as a recording artist?
Well, of course it could be harder when you have to record each and every part on your own. But you know what, I’m happy this way because I have the ultimate freedom to work over my music. And if I do something good it’s my credit, but in the case I do shitty things well, there’s no one to blame but me.

I’ve been a big fan of yours since your Abisso demo came out, has your songwriting methods changed since your original demo? It’s a lot different from your 20 minute track from your HaatE split?

I won’t say that my songwriting method has changed. You know, I don’t have a precise “modus operandi”, I like working in different ways each time.
For example, Abisso was written and recorded entirely before I got any lyrics. All the music were already stuck into my brain, and when it came to record the instruments I knew already what to do, precisely. Then I wrote the lyrics afterwards, shaping them to the music. For example “Everblack Fields of Nightside”, the one included in the split with HaatE, things have been quite different. I started working on a single synth riff, and I built the whole track from there.
I was recording each riff and part when it came to my mind. It has been a sort of work in progress. Nothing were set in stone and every idea I had could be a good point to work on and elaborate new ideas, riffs, melodies and loops. And yes, there’re a lot of loops and samples in that song.

You’re rereleasing Abisso with two new tracks, tell us about that, what’s the newer material like?
Yes, Abisso it’s going to be out with two new songs. The first one, called “Atto Finale: Di Notte, Cielo e Solitudine” it’s going to be the final act of the Abisso concept. A song I left behind in the original tracklist of the demo, but I decided to include in this ultimate release because, you know, I needed a sense of closure towards this album. That track is a long mid-paced suite. With a lot of synth stuff, and it could kind of remind you the track I included in the split with HaatE.

The other one is a bonus track, and it has nothing to do with the album concept. This song is called “Death’s Dominion” and I released it as a digital-only single on my Bandcamp page. ( This song has been written in the very beginning of 2014, when I was still working on my first demo “Winter Eternal”. This is my personal tribute to the amazing Swedish death metal scene.

Your split with HaatE was a meeting of two very distinctive styles, is the whole dark ambient scene something you’re a fan of?

Honestly? No I’m not. Hahaha
I mean, I like some ambient stuff and I love certain ambient releases, but most of them really bore me. You know, too often the “ambient” label is simply an excuse to throw away awful and senseless music, this is just my opinion of course. Otherwise some ambient releases are simply unbelievable. Like some Solar Fields’ works, latest Wolves in The Throne Room album and the ambient records crafted by Ulver or Lustre for example. Yeah, that’s the ambient music I’m a fan of.

Are there any good underground Italian bands that the rest of us should know about?
I’m not listening to many Italian acts these days, but if you ask for a suggestion and you want to know a bunch of bands from Italy, these are my favourites. The ones you must know.
– Chaos Plague (amazing prog death metal, they’re going to release their first full-length).
– Earth And Pillars (a brand new act that has crafted a rather good atmospheric black metal record).
– Solitude Project (depressive black rock/metal, check their split with Vita Odiosa).
– Korrigans (folk/black metal, their “Ferocior Ad Rebellandum” album is astonishing).
– Monumentum (you probably already know this one, a pillar of Italian dark music).
– Ornaments (instrumental sludge/doom, probably my fav Italian band).

Ok, that’s it. Hope I suggested you something you would enjoy.

When you’re not doing metal, what do you like doing in your spare time?
Well, more than a half of my day is spent working. I work as lathe turner. In my free time I like watching movies, hiking and drinking beer with friends. Especially I love dark beers. And of course I also listen to tons of music.

You recently did a kick ass cover of Emperor’s Toward the Patheon for a cover compilation. Will it see the light of day sometime soon?
Thanks, yes I did that cover and I enjoyed a lot recording that amazing Emperor’s masterpiece. But unfortunately I think that this compilation thing just failed. I don’t know how and why but the person who was arranging the comp just…disappeared. That’s a shame.

You are part of The Somber Lane Blog, tell me how that came about?

Yes, I started “The Somber Lane” with my fellow Andrea “Rizzo” who shares with me a great passion for music. We both love discover underground artists and bands and share them with our friends. So we decided to start this little blog to do so.

We try to be very professional in running “The Somber Lane” because we firmly think that this is the only way we can emerge amongst a ton of other blogs and also as a form of respect towards the artists we get in touch with.

So, if you feel to take a look at our small “somber” blog, follow this link then:

Finally, please use this space to plug your band, your blog or anything else you want!
Ok, thanks. So, if anyone would like to follow my projects these are the main links you have to reach out:
Chiral website:
Chiral Facebook:
Chiral Bandcamp:

The Somber Lane blog:

Cheers man, appreciate your time!
Thanks a lot Sandy, and great work with your blog!

Carlisle, Cumbria’s death groove battering machine Triverse Massacre have released ‘With Bared Teeth and Truths’, a new four track release that is chock full of riffs, aural violence and scintillating songs. This is the follow up to 2010’s ‘In the Jaws of Deceit’ debut, and continues this band’s evolution into a slick, instrument of destruction.

Opening with ‘Wolves at the Gate’, a juddering assault of groove and savagery. The crushing breakdown elements mesh well with the blasting and the mixture between low growls and raw screams shows fine versatility. They even throw in a cool melodic solo as well, which is definitely a pleasant surprise. So far, so brutal. ‘Exhale Betrayal’ is more surgical, reminscient of latter period Hypocrisy. There is less of a groove in it, and much more of a waspish intensity.

‘Bullets Kill Beasts’ comes out of the starting blocks with a much more subdued intro before some, almost classic metal riffs build under howling shrieks. There’s some excellent, galloping riffing here, again coupled with some blasting and some great melodies. Closing with the menacing ‘Torn from the Throne’, with its thick groove and uneasy atmospherics, Triverse Massacre show the kind of promise that is going to be worth watching in the next few years. Crushing, savage and thoroughly enjoyable.