Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thyrien Interview

1. Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band
since the recording and release of the new album?

As you all might have noticed there has been a while between them so 
there has been happening quite a lot. First of all we were trying to get 
the album done despite all the disappointments and bumps on the road 
that delayed the actual release. At the same time we composed some new 
material of course and threw several gigs. In the middle of everything 
we have been studying and working like normal people and trying to spare 
some time for our personal lives also.

2. Recently you have put out a new album, can you tell us a little bit
more about the musical direction it has taken and also how does it
differ from previous releases?

When we started making our music the goal was to make only folk metal 
but during the whole ‘’making-the-album’’ process the musical direction
altered and got more depth towards other categories. We only released 
one EP before this album which includes upgraded versions from the old 
songs so it doesn’t differ that much.

3. Can you tell us a little bit more about the lyrical topics and
subjects the new release explores?

Lyrical topics are based around the nature and its unforgiving touch 
towards the mankind. Of course there are other guidelines in those 
lyrics which allow them to be seen for the listeners as they would like
them to be seen. There are also topics about the inner battle in a 
feeble mind and of course from our little friend ‘’the hangover’’.

4. How would you describe your views on Paganism?

Well, I think it has a huge part in the Finnish history and it is a vast 
source of great tales. So looking from that perspective it has numerous
ways to influence bands such as us. From the religious point of view I 
don’t believe those stories or any other forms of religion. I’m just a 
simple man trying to work to pay my bills and to make music.

5. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Thyrien'?

As much as I know Thyrien doesn’t mean anything specific. Inspiration 
behind the name grew itself from the music we made and the name kind a 
chose itself.  And it sounds right!

6. What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the
years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

2008 we were in the nostalgic Nosturi, Helsinki with bunch of other 
bands and I think that is one. One pretty different but equally 
enjoyable was in a barn during some guys birthday parties and the 
audience went totally rampage, it was hilarious! In the year 2007 we 
were playing (almost) in the St. Petersburg, Russia in the Club Arctica
and during our soundcheck the whole bar closed because of the national 
restrictions and we didn’t have a chance to play even a single chord. It 
was a major disappointment but the afterparty was crazy! And of course 
we got lot of good pictures and stories to laugh about. On the stage we
try to give our fans an unforgettable show because they deserve it! We 
try to be as energetic as we can and we change the setlist everytime.

7. Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album?

Yet there hasn’t been any tours planned but there will be.

8. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans
of black, death and folk metal?

Feedback has been surprisingly good and the welcome has been extremely 
welcome. Even though the album has well aged songs, they still seem to 
please the audience. The album reviews have given us a good feedback and 
there has been lot of great points and stars etc. given to us. So we 
have high hopes for the future.

9. What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?

The basics are the same old Thyrien (if I can say like this at this 
pointJ) but the whole concept will be a little darker from its nature. 
What comes to the working as a band we will give extra account to the 
planning and organizing the musical solutions we are going to make.

10. What are some bands or musical styles that have had an influence on
your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

There are so many bands that have influenced us that the list would be 
endless. Just to name a few: Wintersun, Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, 
Insomnium, Dissection etc. Nowadays I listen more Symphonic Death Metal
because the bands from that genre have such a wide depth in their music.

11. Do you have any non-musical interests?

I like sports in its different forms. I play soccer and just started MMA 
fighting to get my scarred face to look more beaten. And of course when
I have spare time I play with my computer or watch movies.

12. Before we wrap up this interview do you have any final words or 
thoughts?

Thank you for the interview and all the best for you. I’d like to thank
our fans for the support they have given us to this point and hopefully
in the future!

-          Oskari Koivisto / Thyrien



Keep in touch
Oskari/Thyrien

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hemelbestormer Interview

HEMELBESTORMER.

1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
 Hemelbestormer is a four piece doom/sludge/drone-band from Limburg, Belgium with current and former members of Gorath, Serpentcult, Ender, Doganov and Hedonist. We started playing together somewhere in 2011 and are about to release our debut split with Vanessa Van Basten through Consouling Sounds. It's not the typical everyday split, but rather a cooperation where both bands create one lengthy track of forty minutes.
 
2.According to the bio the band formed out of the ashes of Gorath, what was the decision behind ending that band and starting this one?
 The bio is not entirely correct. In fact, the band was formed by Jo (guitars) and Kevin (bass, visuals), Filip and myself joined in a later stadium, Filip being the latest addition. The main reason Filip put Gorath to rest was disappointment. Not in the music or the reception, but in almost everything else. There were a lot of expectations, but due to all kinds of external factors, he just couldn't live up to them. So he thought it was better to simply end the story at a peak instead of letting it drag on. Their music was also evolving away from their black metalroots, since "The Chronicles Of Khiliasmos" has more in common with Hemelbestormer than with Goraths other albums. He is still very proud of all the things he did with Gorath, but it's time to move on and explore different areas.

3,How would you describe your musical sound?
 We incorporate all kinds of influences in our sound, ranging from atmospherical ambient and postrock/metal to devastating doom/sludge and even black metal. Bands like Neurosis, Cult Of Luna, Year Of No Light, Mogwai, Rosetta, Amen Ra and Isis all left their mark on our sound, but we try to do our own thing instead of merely copying the work of others. Atmosphere and emotions are equally important as heaviness and aggression and with each composition we try to expand our horizons. Music should be creative and limitless, but a certain level of coherence is also essential.

4.Can you tell us a little bit more about the themes and concepts you bring out with your music?
There's not really a fixed theme or concept, but things like the infinity of space, natural and scientific phenomena, cataclysmic events and the vastness of oceans are subjects that serve as inspiration. Since there are no vocals or lyrics, we have to express certain feelings and emotions mainly through music and this is a real challenge. Artwork and visuals during live shows are there to strengthen these emotions and therefore we put a lot of time, care and effort in creating them. Our bassplayer Kevin is a professional graphic designer and I don't have to tell you that it is a gift of God having someone with his talents in the band.

5.On the split the music was all instrumental are you planning on using vocals in the future?
 For the moment, we are quite happy with being an instrumental outfit, but we don't rule out the use of vocals in the future. We just don't want to use them just for the sake of having vocals. Not only should they fit the music, they will have to add an extra dimension. Otherwise, we don't see the point.

6.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Hemelbestormer'?
 A "Hemelbestormer", a Dutch word that can be translated as "stormer of heaven", is a person with revolutionary thoughts and ideas, someone who thinks outside the box and is not afraid to try new things. Within the band, we can all relate to this way of thinking when we create music.

7.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
 At this very moment, we haven't played a single show yet, but we are planning to do so very soon. We are going for the total package: an overwhelming sound, captivating visuals and a dark, gloomy atmosphere. There will be no breaks and no interaction with the audience, just a forty-five minute dive into the world of Hemelbestormer. We will try to make each show an experience you won't easily forget.

8.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
 On February 22nd, we'll have our debut performance in Tessenderlo where we shall introduce the band to the public. Treha Sektori, a very interesting and haunting ambient/drone-act from Paris is joining us at this event. Furthermore, we will support Esoteric in Brussels together with Procession, Marche Funèbre, Indesinence and Fading Bliss on April 26th and on May 23rd we will share the stage with the mighty Conan in Diksmuide. We are currently working on some more shows, both domestic and abroad, but we can't give you any details yet.

9.Recently you put out a split with Vanessa Van Basten, what are your thoughts on the other band that participated in the recording?
 We haven't met the guys of VVB personally and I don't really know their albums, but I do like their part of the album. Musically, it's not entirely something I listen to on a daily basis, but I love their creativity and their "limitless" approach. Their music is a bit different, but I think the combination worked out fine.

10.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of more underground genres?
 Since the album in not released, we haven't read many reviews yet. The ones we did get were all very good. We did, however, get a lot of positive response to the video we made for our part of the split, a song called "Portal To The Universe". Our name seems to be buzzing a bit in the scene. Even now, with no release or live experience, some people seem to be blown away by our stuff and they are really spreading the word. We get very cool and supportive messages from time to time and we are looking into some very interesting stuff for the future.

11.When can we expect a full length and what direction will it be in music wise?
 We have absolutely no idea when we will record a full length, but we have several songs that are fully finished and a whole bunch of ideas for some others. It's all in the vein of "Portal To The Universe", but with some twists here and there. Nothing more boring than writing the same song over and over again, right? Variation is very important, not only for the listener, but also for ourselves.

12.What are you listening to nowadays?
 I'm a very eclectic listener. I'm not limiting myself to one particular style or genre, because if you do that you miss a lot of great music. There's so much cool stuff out there waiting to be discovered, but most of it doesn't get the recognition it deserves. So apart from the "classics" and the bands I grew up with, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Slayer, Motörhead, Led Zeppelin and so on, I'm always keen on discovering something new. Some more recent bands I enjoy are High On Fire, Rival Sons, Kvelertak, Ghost, Tombs and  I can also recommend the latest records of In Solitude, Alcest, ASG and Jex Thoth. This is of course a very short and incomplete list! Recently Filip introduced me to bands like Celeste, Mgla, Code, Regarde Les Hommes Tomber and Svartidaudi and I really love the approach and mood of these acts. To return the favor, I gave him some records of Yob, Electric Wizard, Sleep and Conan and he seems to love it. As for non-metal stuff, Depeche Mode, Bohren & Der Cub Of Gore, Emily Jane White, Mark Lanegan, Ozric Tentacles, The Doors, Roky Erickson and Pink Floyd are among my favorites.



13.Do you have any non musical interests?
 I'm an avid reader and a big movie fan. Again, I don't limit myself to one specific style, because that's just silly. If it's a good story with interesting characters and a compelling setting, the style doesn't matter at all. Some works I recently read include the "A Song Of Ice And Fire"-cycle by George R.R. Martinn "Metro 2033" by Dimitri Glukhovsky, "Haunted" by Chuck Palahniuk and "The First Law"-trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. Cool movies and series you definitely should check out are "The Dark Knight"-trilogy, ", "Inception", "Argo",  "Drive", "Breaking Bad", "The Walking Dead", "Game Of Thrones" and "American Horror Story".

14.Before we wrap up this interview. do you have any final words or thoughts?
Hemelbestormer is more than just music. Even though we're an instrumental band. Our tracks need time. They need efforts to be embraced and understood. Slowly their darkness will take part of you. Today it's hard to focus on something which isn't fast, hard and cheap, like anything seems to be in our western lives. But for one time, give up that awfully thought, relax and open the portal to the universe. Thank you.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Agiel Interview


Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording of the new album?
In December, exactly one year to the date from when we regrouped, we played our first live performance since 2007.  We played at the Rochester Metal Fest (RMF) in Western New York and it was an awesome show.  The energy and enthusiasm from the crowd was fantastic and it felt great to be on stage as AGIEL once again.  We wanted to be able to share the first performance of the new release, so we invited a film crew down to capture the set.  The footage is amazing and we are working on the production for live videos of all of the songs on the new release.  We’re aiming to have these ready sometime after Pantheons is released on the 18th of February.  We put a lot energy and intensity into our stage performances which we wanted to share with everyone interested in our music. 
There is also a live CD of that set that we are in the process of putting together now.  We played a few songs that were not included on the new release and they will be part of that release.  The crowd at the RMF erupted into a pit for these songs, so I can’t wait to finish the mix for release later this year. 
Additionally we’ve been getting some really good material together for our websitehouseofagiel.com which will be released continuously throughout the year.  There will be articles, videos and artwork produced by each of AGEIL’s members and it’s our goal to give everyone a better idea of what AGIEL is all about.  It’s been a lot of work, but we are all extremely enthusiastic about being involved in this.  And of course we are starting to put together the material for the next AGIEL release.

You have a new album coming out, can you tell us a little bit about the musical direction it has taken and also how does it differ from past releases?
We’ve definitely evolved our sound quite a bit since the last release and considerably so since Dark Pantheons Again Will Reign (DPAWR).  The first thing that you’ll probably notice as being different is that the symphonic elements of the music are much more pronounced.  AGIEL has always incorporated synth layers as part of our sound and this has progressed throughout the years to what you’ll hear on the newest release.  The first album that we ever wrote was actually pretty heavy on the keyboards.  We have always been inspired and influenced by the black metal sound though our own sound has leaned closer to death metal.  It fits well with the lyrics and provides an enigmatic quality that contrasts with the brutality of the rhythm section.
When we began working on PDAWR some of that was reduced to accommodate a busier style of guitar playing.  It fit for that album, but I’d actually consider it more of an aberration than the core AGIEL sound.  I’m really glad that we’ve gotten back to that early sound and also really excited to see it transformed into something completely new.  The next most prominent change that might be noticed is the greater range of vocal techniques that have been incorporated.  There’s still the guttural death metal tone through much of the songs, but we’ve allowed ourselves to use other styles as well like the choral part during The Awakening.  It just seemed right to include things like that; adding to the density and depth of the music. 
We’ve also tried to arrange the instruments so that everything comes together as one solid movement.  It’s definitely a challenge with this style of music where all of the instruments are being played in a very technical way.  That complexity and technicality is something that I love about the metal genre; it’s akin to the baroque period of orchestral music.  However, there’s the danger that as your arrangements become more complex that it will also lose power and impact.  The direction that we’re taking retains much more of the power that we intended for our sound and in our opinion has greatly benefited the music. 

This is the first release since 2005; can you tell us a little bit more about what was going on during those years?
The intervening years between the last release and the latest have been tumultuous to say the least.  In 2005 we released a small collection of songs entitled Vessatu and this would be the last work that I collaborated on with AGIEL’s second founding member; who had been our guitarist up to that point.  We continued to work on creating new material, but progress was slow and hard won. 
I was also finding it increasingly difficult to concentrate on AGIEL’s growth during this period.  My mother who was an accomplished artist in her own right was succumbing to a long fought battle with cancer.  My attention was shifting more and more towards supporting my family through this crisis and rightly so.  It was a dark time which became even darker when in 2007 my wife’s mother was also stricken with cancer.  I needed to move about 7 hours away to Philadelphia in order to provide support throughout her treatment, so it was decided that AGIEL would be let to rest until it could be afforded the attention and energy that it deserves.
Though difficult, this period of rest provided a sense of perspective that I think was ultimately beneficial for the band.  It allowed time to reflect on what we had created, where we had been musically and where we wanted to go in the future.  I experimented extensively with different tonal possibilities, stylistic changes and thematic directions.  Over the course of two years I put together a group of 12 songs that encompassed the entirety of this cathartic exercise.  I decided to release it, but as a personal work under the nameNightwork and not as a creation of AGIEL.  There were seeds in those songs of what would later grow and develop into a new artistic direction. 
Around 2011 I started collaborating with Jesse, our current guitarist, on the production of a solo project we was working on called In Mania.  For him it served as the exact same function as the project I had just completed.  It was a deeply personal project intended to deliver him through an existential crisis; exactly my intention with Nightwork.  Jesse and I had known each other for a number of years before hand, but through working on his project together we developed a strong friendship and kinship. 
After wrapping up the In Mania production we knew that we wanted to start collaborating on something together.  It also happened that I started corresponding with Kevin who was another old acquaintance of mine.  Together we all started talking about what a new AGIEL album would look like and what it would take to achieve.  By the end of 2012 it all came together and we started actively working on the production for Dark Pantheons.   

What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the new release explores?
I’ve always been interested in exploring the spiritual nature of mankind as well as my own; primarily through the lens of mythology and the occult.  My early lyrics were written from a more personal perspective and centered much more on my own specific experiences of the occult through ritual magic.  In later years and on this release the lyrics are written with a broader perspective and try to speak to a more universal experience of our struggle to evolve as spiritual beings. 
The songs on this release vary greatly in terms of the subjects explored.  For example the title track Dark Pantheons tries to invoke the raw and unbridled power at the core of human consciousness.  In the song, a lone figure stands at the edge of a great abyss, bracing himself against the fury of a raging storm.  Overcoming fear and self-doubt he embraces the abyss and allows its elemental power to give him strength.  Other songs like Andromeda are more rooted in mythology which serves as framework to explore topics such as self-determination, overcoming self-doubt, nihilism and disillusionment. 

I know that the band name came out of the writings of Terry Goodkind, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this fantasy writer?
Although I am a pretty big fan of science fiction and fantasy literature I’ve never read anything by this author.  My first encounter with the name “Agiel” was over 15 years ago when I first began delving into astrology.  I was pouring through a huge astrological encyclopedia trying to understand the concepts behind this occult paradigm when the name struck me.  There it was defined as the “intelligence of Saturn” which is to say that the name represented the embodiment of Saturn’s occult wisdom.  That resonated with me and put a name to the journey that I was committed to embarking on; a search for understanding and a struggle to raise my consciousness.  Later I’d see the name again in various kabalistic writings and esoteric grimoires. 
It’s a very old name that comes from the writings of occult figures such as Solomon and later from astrologers like John Dee.  Mythology and occultism are fertile grounds for inspiration; especially in science fiction and fantasy genres.  I’m sure this author came across the name in similar sources.

What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
One of the most vivid memories I have as a performer would have to be a show that we played while on tour in Toronto.  It was the first show in a month long tour throughout the Canadian territories and we were nearly stopped dead in our tracks before even getting to the border. 
This was early in our career when we had just signed with Unique Leader to publish the Dark Pantheons Again Will Reign album.  An opportunity arose to join Cephalic Carnage and December on a 13 date tour in Canada.  Even though we were nowhere close to prepared it was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.  I don’t think we even had a tour van at that point, but it was something that we were determined to make happen.  So in a very short time we had ourselves ready to hit the road.  We were all really excited and felt unstoppable.  That is until the radiator in the van melted down about three quarters of the way to Toronto. 
It seemed really unexpected at the time, but looking back I am amazed that this ancient Ford Econoline made its way through thousands of miles of mountainous terrain.  It’s a miracle no one was killed!  So the van is sitting immobilized on the side of the road and it’s a matter of hours until the show starts, but we wouldn’t give up.  We must have called a dozen places before finding a garage that could get us back on the road.  After what seemed like an eternity we were on the road again and headed for the US/Canadian border.
The trouble didn’t stop there though.  By sheer coincidence a van full of people headed for the show was going through the border checkpoint at the same time we were.  A few of the guys in that van recognized us and started screaming our name and throwing up the metal sign and of course we did the same.  Who knows if that was the cause, but we soon found ourselves segregated in different interrogation rooms while police dogs tore through the van.  It might have been comical if we weren’t all freaking out about possibly missing the show which probably didn’t help speed things along. 
Eventually though we did make it to the show, but we were so late that the headlining bands played their sets before us.  These guys were so generous and understanding though that they let us take the headline slot without any issue what’s so ever.  From the crowds perspective the show didn’t miss a beat and we gave the most energetic, impassioned performances of our career.  The fact that we had overcome every single obstacle that was thrown before us only made us more determined to move forward.  The place was a wall to wall pit for the entire set.  I think that the passion we had for that moment could be felt very clearly by everyone there.  It was a really incredible show and one I hope to never forget.
That type of primal energy is emblematic of our performances.  We forget ourselves and let the raw power of the performance flow unencumbered through our music.  I think that honesty in the performance can be felt clearly and people really respond to it.  The energy is contagious and compels people to move with the progression of each song.  One of the greatest rewards is seeing people go completely insane to the music.  The pure enjoyment of the moment is evident on people’s faces.

Do you have any touring or show plans for the new album and 2014?
We are confirming dates now for performances throughout the year and will be making announcements through our website houseofagiel.com and also through Facebook page (facebook.com/houseofagiel) as things develop.

On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black and death metal?
Overall I’d say that we’ve been received well and all the feedback so far has been really positive.  From those that have heard the new release and those that have seen us live there’s been a feeling of being taken aback by the ferocity of our new sound.  I think that we’ve pleasantly surprised any who thought that this might sound like your standard brutal death metal album.  We’ve tried to really push ourselves to the limit and create something truly unique.  Most of all I can tell from people’s reactions that they really enjoy just listening to the music.  That’s exactly what we wanted to achieve.

What is going on with the other musical projects these days that the band members are involved with?
Right now everyone is devoted 100% to AGIEL.  We are genuinely excited about the musical direction that we are taking and very proud of the new release.  All of us are very excited to see what we can come up with next, so there has been a tremendous focus on taking our music to the next level.  We are also very fortunate and I am personally grateful that the current lineup works together extremely well.  Everything that we’ve been through together over the last year with the preparation of Dark Pantheons has brought us together and created a great sense of fraternity between us.  There is a sense of mutual respect that allows us to push each other to evolve and bring the best out in each of us.  There’s no time for anything else.  We are all focused on AGIEL’s future.

What direction do you see your music heading into on future releases?
We learned a lot about ourselves as a band through working on this new release.  We were able to find out what are strengths were and how to help each other create the best performance possible.  By going through all of that it really clarified for us what the future direction of the music would be.  Suddenly everything began to come into focus and we are now starting to create real synergies between the instruments.
In terms of a future direction, I probably wouldn’t set anything in stone at this point.  I’ve found that in order to create something really special it’s always good to leave at least a little bit of ambiguity about how the end product should look.  It’s like when you begin a painting by drawing some action lines on the canvas.  If your too rigid and try to force the design to turn out in a certain way you’re usually going to be disappointed in the result.   
That being said, there are some broad strokes that I know will be part of whatever we create next.  The length of the songs will likely increase a bit.  Mostly because there is so much that we want to say musically.  It might be too much to fit into a 3 ½ minute song.  I’ve always appreciated it when a musician takes more time to let their musical ideas play out in more detail.  So we may see that in the next release.  More than anything though, I think that we will let the evolution that started at the beginning of the new release continue to develop and mature.  It’s hard to describe, but there are definitely parts of these songs and a few others that are not included in this release, where the whole band coalesces as one entity.  I’d like to see more of that in future releases.

What are some bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
One of AGIEL’s biggest influences stylistically is the atonal orchestral music of the early twentieth century.   Atonality essentially means that the music does not have a tonal center or key.  Instead of sticking to the rigid structure of traditional classical music, atonal compositions are free to use chords with an ambiguous key center, unexpected harmonic structures and unusual melodies.  It’s a style that we naturally gravitated towards, but I would definitely say that the turn of the century composers using this style have been a huge influence on us musically.  Metal and classical styles of music have a lot in common, so its influence on us makes a lot of sense in that regard.
We’ve also been strongly influenced by the second wave of European black metal.  This is the music that we grew up on, so it is a fundamental part of who we are as musicians.  Maybe not in a directly stylistic way, but that early black metal attitude is definitely part of our DNA as a band.  We all have a strong appreciation for music in general and have no problem drawing inspiration from other diverse forms of music like Sufi trance, EBM and industrial. 
I don’t claim to succeed at it all the time, but I try to keep an open mind and not close myself off to new sources of inspiration.  It’s pretty easy to fall into the trap of listening to the same group of bands over and over again.  Especially for someone like me who has an obsessive type of personality.  After a while though the inspiration dries up because you’re not allowing new musical ideas in.  There have been countless times when I’ll hear two or three seconds of a song some random song and get inspired to write new AGIEL riffs.  Inspiration is everywhere if you let yourself see it.
These days the playlist on my stereo is pretty random.  I picked up a ton of new death metal CDs at the end of the year, so that’s been featured pretty heavily lately.  For the last week or so it has I’ve been soaking up a lot of classical by various artists.  I’ve been feeling the urge to play my black metal CDs the past couple of days, so that will probably be my new obsession this week.  After all of the time I spent mixing this release I’m trying to refresh my ears any way that I can!

How would you describe your views on Occultism?
In my views there is a distinction that can be made between the occult which is the hidden knowledge of the inner world and ritual magic which is a mechanism by which that information can be accessed.  AGIEL is the occult; literally.  As we talked about earlier, the name AGIEL is derived from astrology where it is known as the “intelligence of Saturn”.  It is literally the personification of occult knowledge.  Through careful study the knowledge of the occult can greatly benefit anyone interested in understanding it.  I do think that the emphasis on symbolism within ritual magic can sometimes cause people to become stuck in the trappings of the occult; losing sight of its deeper truths.
To me occultism is something that is unique to every person that discovers it.  No two occultists will approach the study the same way.  Some believe that ritual clothing, objects and ceremonies are extremely important while others may not.  One person may find access to the inner truth through numerology or geomancy.  For others like myself it might be lucid dreaming. The point is there’s no wrong way to go about it.  The benefit that’s derived from the practice is equal to the practitioner’s intentions. 
Through my experiences I’ve found that occultism is usually labeled as something dangerous or suspect because it raises conscious awareness that the will is the supreme authority in the universe.  The more a person is able to exercise their free will the more they are able to reshape the world and take control of their destiny.  We live in a time where that kind of self-determination is not tolerated in most of the world.  Even in societies that appear open and free our concepts of morality, sexuality and identity are intensely manipulated.  In my opinion the purpose of occult practice is to free ourselves from these illusionary bonds.



Do you have any non-musical interests?
After music my next greatest interest would definitely be digital art.  I’ve loved to draw and paint for my whole life.  My mother was an accomplished artists herself; specializing in a craft known as batik where cloth is dyed after the application of melted wax.  If I’m not working on music you’ll probably find me in front of my Wacom tablet.  My favorite subjects are fantasy and sci-fi characters and landscapes.  I love getting lost in another world when I paint.  It’s one of the few ways that I’ve learned to let myself relax. 
I’m also a rabid sci-fi film fan.  I don’t even care how bad the movie is; if it’s sci-fi I’ll probably watch it.  I’ll most always have something like that playing in the background as I’m working.  I also like reading sci-fi, but I’ll admit that my schedule makes it a bit difficult to sit down and read a few chapters anymore.  And if I’m not preoccupied with any of that then I’ll probably be researching some aspect of occult history or philosophy.  In my view the non-music interests are vital for keeping my inspiration up.  Painting a kick-ass picture, seeing a compelling movie, reading a new story or learning something new all help to replenish the well of creativity.

Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Fist let me say thank you for your interest in AGIEL’s music and our motivation for creating it.  Our music is an extension of our desire to evolve and raise our consciousness as human beings.  Our highest ambition is to be able to share that journey with others.  With the release of Dark Pantheons we are a step closer to making that a reality. We’ll be releasing new material throughout the year and letting everyone in on that creative process.  Our website is houseofagiel.com and that’s where the majority of this will come out of.  We’ll also be keeping everyone informed through our Facebook profile which isfacebook.com/houseofagiel.  And this is only the beginning. 
James Taylor is the vocalist and founding member of AGIEL


Thyrien/Hymns Of The Mortals/Massacre Records/2014 CD Review


    Thyrien  are  a  band  from  Finland  that  plays  a  mixture  of  folk,  black  and  melodic  death  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2013  album  "Hymns  Of  The  Mortals"  which  was  released  by  Massacre  Records.
 
  The  album  starts  out  with  an  intro  which  uses  synths  and  nature  sounds  and  a  few  seconds  later  drums  are  added  in  and  after  the  intro  the  music  gets  a  lot  heavier  along  with  black  and  death  metal  vocals  as  well  as  melody  and  blast  beats  and  after  awhile  solos  are  added  into  the  music.

  When  the  album  gets  to  the  3rd  song  folk  and  pagan  elements  are  added  into  the  music  as  well  as  some  symphonic  parts  and  you , can  also  hear  viking  chants  and  melodic  death  metal  guitar  leads  and  as  time  goes  on  by  the  bass  guitars  starting  bringing  a  lot  more  power  to  the  recording  and  you  can  also  hear folk  instruments  being  utilized  at  times.

  After  awhile  acoustic  guitars  are  added  into  certain  sections  of  the  album  and  the  music  starts  getting  more  epic  as  time  goes  on  by  and  on  a  couple  of  songs  spoken  word  parts  and  whispers  are  added  in  and  on  the  last  song  a  small  use  of  choirs  are  added  into  the  music..

  On  this  album  Thyrien  while  they  use  folk  elements  are  a  lot  more  closer  to  melodic  black/death  metal  and  they  focus  more  on  those  elements  and  they  display  a  great  amount  of  talent  and  skill  with  their  music.

  Song  lyrics  cover  Nose  Paganism  themes,  while  the  production  has  a  very  strong,  powerful,  heavy  and  professional  sound  where  you  can  hear  all  of  the  musical  instruments  that  are  present  on  this  recording.    

  In  my  opinion  Thyrien  are  a  very  great  sounding  mixture  of  folk,  black  and  melodic  death  metal  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  those  musical  genres,  you  should  check  out  this  band.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Vengeance  Through  My  Soul"  "The  Frozen  North"  "Forest  Is  My  Throne"  and  "Tinasormus".  8  out  of  10.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hecate Enthroned/Virulent Rapture/Crank Records/2013 CD Review


  Hecate  Enthroned  are  a  band  from  Wales  that  has  a  long  history  with  a  musical  style  i  would  describe  as  being  symphonic  black  metal  with  traces  of  death  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2013  album  "Virulent  Rapture"  which  was  released  by  Crank  Records.

  The  album  begins  with  avant  garde  sounds  and  a  few  seconds  later  the  music  gets  heavier  and  black  metal  vocals  are  added  in  along  with  death  metal  growls  and  synths  and  melody  and  after  awhile  fast  parts  and  blast  beats  are  added  into  the  music.

  As  the  album  progresses  it  finds  a  perfect  balance  between  symphonic  black  metal  and  death  metal  and  at  times  clean  guitars  are  added  into  the  music  and  the  album  has  more  melodic  than  symphonic  black  metal  elements  and  when t hey  mix  in  death  metal  it  is  off  the  more  brutal  side  of  that  genre  and  when  spoken  words  are  utilized  they  bring  poetic  and  epic  elements  to  the  recording.

  When  the  symphonic  elements  are  utilized  they  bring  in  an  orchestra  feeling  while  the  band  does  not  really  on  them  not  much  with  this  recording  and  over  the  years  the  sound  has  changed  and  if  there  is  nothing  on  this  record  that  sound s like  the  first  2  albums  and  on  the  6th  song  female  vocals  are  added  into  the  music.

  On  this  album  Hecate  Enthroned  pick  up  where  they  left  off  9  years  ago  and  continue  their  melodic  and  symphonic  black  metal  mixed  with  brutal  death  metal  sound  and  this  is  a  very  great  sounding  comeback  album.

  Song  lyrics  cover  Satanism,  Darkness  and  Occultism  themes,  while  the  production  has  a  very  strong,  powerful,  heavy  and  professional  sound  with  the  bass  guitars  being  mixed  down  low  in  the  mix  as  well  as  some  of  the  songs  being  very  long  and  epic  in  length.

  In  my  opinion  this  is  another  great  sounding  recording  from  Hecate  Enthroned  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  this  band,  you  should  enjoy  this  album.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Thrones  Of  Shadow"  "Plagued  By  Shadows"  "Of  Witchery  And  The  Blood  Moon"  and  "Paths  of  Silence".  8/5  out  of  10. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Iliac Thorns/It/Incerse Records/2013 CD Review


  Iliac  Thorns  are  a  band  from  Finland  that  plays  a  melodic  mixture  of  black  and  death  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2013  album  "It"  which  was  released  by  Inverse  Records.

  The  album  begins  with  melodic  guitar  riffing  and  drums  along  with  some  black  metal  screams  and  solos  and  a  few  seconds  later  death  metal  growls  are  added  into  the  music  while  also  keeping  around  the  black  metal  vocals  and  you  can  also  hear  sound  effects  which  also  leads  to more  fast  and  heavy  parts  and  blast  beats.

  As  the  album  progresses  it  starts  mixing  melodic  and  brutal  parts  together  along  with  the  bass  guitars  getting  more  powerful  in  sound  and  when  they  bring  in  mid  paced  directions  the  music  seems  to  be  heavier  while  the  fast  parts  really  bring  out  the  black  metal  elements  that  are  present  on the  record  and  it  also  adds  to  the  brutality  the  blast  beats  generate.

  On  this  album  Iliac  thorns  seems  to  find  a  great  balance  with  their  ability  to  combine  brutal  and  melodic  death  metal  together  as  well  as  adding  in  black  metal  elements  and  they  seem  to  have developed  their  own  style  of  melodic  blackened  death  metal.

  Song  lyrics  are  written  in  a  mixture  of  Finnish  and  English  and  cover  dark  themes,  while  the  production  has  a  very  strong,  powerful,  heavy  and  professional  sound  where  you  can  hear  all  of  the  musical  instruments  that  are  present  on this  recording.  

  In  my  opinion  Iliac  Thorns  are  a  very  great  sounding  mixture  of  brutal,  melodic  death  and  black  metal  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  those  musical  genres,  you  should  check  out  this  band.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Brutal  Seizure"  "The  Serpents  Calling"  and  "The  Shining".  8  out  of  10.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hemelbestormer/Vanessa Van Basten/Consouling Sounds/2014 Split EP Review


  This  is  a  review of  a  split  ep  between Belgium's Hemelbestormer  and  Italy's  Vanessa  Van  Basten  which  was  released  by  Consouling  Sounds  in  the  year  of  2014  and  we  will  start  off  the  review  with  Hemelbestormer  a  band  that  plays  a  mixture  of  black metal,  sludge,  hardcore  and  post  rock.

  Their  side  of  the  ep  starts  off  with  drones  and  drums  as  well  as  ambient  elements  before  adding  in  slow  doom  metal  riffs  as  well  as  elements  of  post  rock  and  they  stick  to  an  instrumental  and  improv  style  approach  on  the  songs  they  bring  to  the  recording  as  well  as  bringing  in  black  metal  influences  and  melody  and  on  a  couple  of  songs  they team  up  with  Vanessa Van Basten  and  the  stuff  they  do  together  is  more  ambient  drone  based  along  with  elements  of  noise  and  experimental  and  after  awhile  they  bring  in  acoustic  guitars.

  Song  themes  seem  to  follow  a  concept,  while  the  production  has  a  very  strong,  powerful  and  heavy  sound  with  most  of  their  songs  being  very  long  and  epic  in  length.

  In  my  opinion  Hemelbestormer  are  a  very  great  sounding  mixture  of   black  metal,  sludge,  hardcore  and  post  rock  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  those  musical  genres,  you  should  check  out  their  side  of  the  split.  RECOMMENDED  TRACK  "Omega".

  Next  up  is  Vanessa Van Basten  a  band  that  plays  a  mixture  of  post  rock  and  metal  with  elements  of  black  metal  and  sludge.

  There  side  of  the  split  begins  with  post  rock  style  guitars  before  getting  heavier  and  adding  in  more  darker  and  metal  elements  along  with  a  good  amount  of  melody  and  after  awhile  you  can  hear  influences  from  sludge,  black  metal  and  90's  alternative  rock  before  adding  in  clean  singing  shoegaze  style  vocals  as  well  as  a  small  amount  of  spoken  word  parts  and  aggressive  screams.

  Song  lyrics  cover  poetic  themes,  while  the  production  has  a  very  strong,  powerful  and  heavy  sound  to  it.

  In  my  opinion  Vanessa Van Basten  are  a  very  great  sounding  mixture  of  post  metal  and  rock  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  those  musical  genres,  you  should  check  out  their  side  of  the  split.  RECOMMENDED  TRACK  "Odyssey  Song".

  In  conclusion  I  feel  this  is  a  very  great  sounding  split  and  I  would  recommend  it  to  all  fans  of  post  metal.  8/5  out  of  10.           

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Indoctrine/Unto This Fall/Inverse Records/2014 EP Review


  Indoctrine  are  a  band  from  Finland  that  plays  a  very  melodic  form  of  blackened  death  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2014  ep  "Unto  This  Fall"  which  was  released  by  Inverse  Records.

  The ep  begins  with  an  intro  which  utilizes  acoustic  guitars  along  with  a  dark  atmosphere  and  melodic  guitars  which  leads  to  a  mixture  of  melodic  and  black  metal  vocals  and  on  the  nest  song  the  music  goes  into  a  more  melodic  death  metal  direction  along  with  a  mixture  of  mid  paced  and  fast  parts  as  well  as  death  metal  style  screams  and  after  awhile  solos  and  blast  beats  are  added  into  the  music.

  As  the  ep  progresses  you  can  hear  traces  of  melodic  Swedish  black  metal  being  mixed  in  with  the  death  metal  sound  as  well  as  bringing  in  a  small  amount  of  spoken  word  parts  and  you  can  also  hear  traces  of  traditional  metal  being  utilized  in  the  solos  and  leads.

  On  these  5  songs  and  intro  that  are  displayed  on  this  ep  Indoctrine  take  a  melodic  style  of  death  metal  and  bring  in  black  metal  influences  as  well  as  a  great  amount  of  heaviness  to  their  music  and  while this  is  not  something  very  original  this  band  do  play  some  great  quality  melodic  death  metal.    

  Song  lyrics  cover  dark  and  philosophical  themes,  while  the  production  has  a  very  strong,  powerful,  heavy  and  professional  sound  where  you  can  hear  all  of  the  musical  instruments  that  are  present  on  this  recording.

  In  my  opinion  Indoctrine  are  a  very  decent sounding  melodic  blackened  death  metal  band  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  this  musical  genre,  you  should  check  out  this  ep.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Undying"  and  "Synthetic  Existence".  7/8  out  of  10.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Agiel/Dark Pantheons/Deepsend/2014 CD Review


  Agiel  are  a  band  from  New  York  that  plays  a  mixture  of  symphonic  black  metal  and  brutal  death  metal  and  this  is  a  review  of  their  2014  album  "Dark  Pantheons"  which  was  released  by  Deepsend.

  The  album  starts  out  with  a  fast  and  brutal  yet  symphonic  sound  along  with  some  death  metal  growls  and  technical  guitar  leads  and  you  can  also  hear  black  metal  screams  along  with  powerful  sounding  bass  guitars  and  brutal  blast  beats  and  on  the  nest  song  the  music starts  mixing  epic  parts  with  the  heavier  elements  of  the  record.

  The  album  remains  in  a  brutal  and  symphonic  direction  on  the  other  songs  and  with  this  combination  it  brings  out  a  very  original  and  occult  sound  and  music  wise  the  album  is  closer  to  death  than  black  metal  and  they  also  bring  in  melodic  choirs  at  times.

  Agiel  show  a  great  amount  of  talent  and  diversity  with  their  music  and  they  seem  to  have  a  perfect  balance  when  it  comes  to  mixing  heaviness,  brutality,  melody,  technical  and  symphonic  parts  together  and  this  is  some  great  quality  blackened  death  metal.

  Song  lyrics  cover  Occultism  and  Darkness  themes,  while  the  production  has  a  very  strong,  powerful,  heavy  and  professional  sound  where  you  can  hear  all  of  the  musical  instruments  that  are  present  on  this  recording.

  In  my  opinion  Agiel  are  a  very  great  sounding  mixture  of  symphonic  black  metal  and  brutal  death  metal  and  if  you  are  a  fan  of  this  musical  genre,  you  should  check  out  this  band.  RECOMMENDED  TRACKS  INCLUDE  "Dark  Pantheons"  and  "Serpent  Masquearade".  8  out  of  10.