Δευτέρα, 8 Ιουλίου 2019

Black Powder of the Sabbathian Riffing: Interview with Kimi Kärki / Lord Vicar

After hammering the final nails to the coffin of Reverend Bizarre, Peter Vicar followed his vision of a new Doom Metal band and brought to life, Lord Vicar. "We took our sacred oaths and never run", yell the children of Doom, and Lord Vicar stand in the circle of the most arcane form of metal.

With the new album The Black Powder out on The Church Within Records, we found Kimi Kärki while travelling to the other side of the world (but not the underworld). Somewhere between Cultural History and Aikido Martial Arts, Kimi Kärki very often offers music full of intensity and heaviness, so we talked about rotten music, "soul" music and Lord Vicar.

By Andreas Andreou



Peter Vicar is long dead. And from his ashes, Lord Vicar rose with Peter Inverted. Did you use black powder in the firearm that killed him? And after all those year, is Doom Metal dead or its "death" was a false preaching?

KK: I actually go with my real name Kimi these days. Masks can sometimes become very boring and even harmful. Doom metal is alive and well, even if it smells rotten at times.

Fourth full-length album for Lord Vicar and you continue spreading slow suffering all over the world. At least to those who follow your path or enter your way. I follow Lord Vicar since the beginning and I guess, I fear no pain. However, I have few friends that are regressive doomsters, and they fear the pain of the traditional sabbathian riffing. Or they try to avoid it. How would you define "true" Doom Metal?

KK: It’s the traditional Sabbathian riffing, clean vocals, full of intensity and power. It’s music that will, if done right, shake your foundations.

Dan Fondelius of Count Raven, told me in an interview we did in the recent past, "Doom is more than just rock music, it is many things". I guess that if someone can express those "things", he will enter the circle of Doom. I think you also have to add a Gibson SG guitar in the equation, correct?

KK: Correct.

To quote Dawn of Winter from their song 'The Music of Despair', "Doom is the soul of metal". If so, our souls are tormented and torn apart, and you keep reflecting sorrow and pain with the opening track of The Black Powder, the 18-minutes long, 'Sulphur, Charcoal and Saltpetre'. That's a bold way to open a new album but I guess you are not a predictable band anyway, right?

KK: Right.

Besides the well-crafted compositions and performance on The Black Powder, there is lot of "soul" therein and I believe that this is the secret that transforms a good album to a great album. Where did you descent in order to create the dark symmetry (for both lyrics and music) of The Black Powder?

KK: Thank you for mentioning "soul". Our music is indeed meant to be "soul" music, even if the themes are dark. One has to take a cold look at the world, the way it is. Certainly there is beauty out there, but there is also all that poison, hate, malice, greed and cruelty. The themes of the album are available whenever I open the newspaper in the morning. Of course some of the material is meant for mental introspection and purification, at least in my case. We all carry a lot of darkness, and need ways to get it out. As a consequence, I am mostly happy smiling and relatively easygoing person. I have also done Aikido for five years now, and that has helped me to access some extra calm and steel. To build a musically good album, we felt, there has to be balance, dynamics and strong melodies.

You had the songs of the previous album (Gates of Flesh, 2016) written years before its release. Did you also have the songs of The Black Powder ready for long time, too? What kind of procedure do you follow during recordings?

KK: Some of the riffs are old, I think Gareth mentioned that some riffs of 'World Encircled' date back to his early years as a musician. In my case all that is on the album was put together after Gates of Flesh. Maybe some of the riffs were on embryonic stage already a bit before that. But the album as a whole, the lyrical themes, how it was arranged, that we did fairly recently. We try to get the arrangements in such a tight order that we can play the music live as a threepiece, with some edits and drop-ins if necessary. That way we got that tight but loose live feel on the new one. I really think we nailed it nicely this time, especially as this was No doubt musically the most challenging and progressive record we have done so far.

You are performing and writing music all the time after the death of Reverend Bizarre. Among others, you have Orne, you release solo albums, and there is Lord Vicar. How do you separate everything and is there a "guide" for each vessel you throw in the sea of music?

KK: I follow my intuition, pure and simple. I try to keep the subconscious mind open and do not stress about time. All things have their right time and place, and slowly the needed elements click together. I just know when it’s right. And I always also try to allow chance and the incredibly talented people around me to affect everything. That way things get raised to another level, they become more than the sum of their parts. It’s creative process seen as something magical, it has some ritualistic qualities, just like live performance. The energy just explodes through the roof when right things take place. I love that feeling, and am always in the hunt for it.

Do you plan any live shows with Lord Vicar?

KK: Yes. We will play some festivals, at least Storm Crusher, and some individual shows here and there. I can’t yet talk about stuff that has not been announced.

Thanks for the music!

KK: Thanks for the interview!



Lord Vicar photo by Darkiya Vaeltaja

DISCOGRAPHY:
2008 - The Demon of Freedom EP    
2008 - Fear No Pain    
2011 - Lord Vicar / Griftegård Split    
2011 - Lord Vicar / Funeral Circle Split    
2011 - Signs of Osiris
2012 - Lord Vicar / Revelation Split        
2016 - Gates of Flesh
2019 - The Black Powder

LINE-UP:
Chritus - Vocals
Kimi Kärki - Guitars
Gareth Millsted - Drums
Rich Jones - Bass

The new album The Black Powder is out now on The Church Within Records



Lord Vicar Bandcamp

Follow Lord Vicar on Facebook



Κυριακή, 23 Ιουνίου 2019

Doom over the world... from bands that are not doom metal!


While I have in mind to work on a "best of" Doom Metal article, it seems that a proper work will take lot of time, and the additional contribution of musicians involved in the greatest albums of the genre, is more than needed. So, while this article is in the labyrinth of my mind (along with other ideas) and will reach the exit sometime in the future, let's pick 10 songs that have a strong doom metal vibe (some of them are actually doom metal) from bands... that have nothing to do with Doom Metal!


We will probably continue this type of articles with more genres, but for now, let's just spread doom over the world.

VENOM - Warhead


Originally released as a single in 1984, few months before the album "At War with Satan", "Warhead" is a heavy possessed anthem that stands among those Venom tracks released as singles only, and remain favourite fan songs. We are already at a period where the New Wave of British Heavy Metal started to fade, but its mark upon metal music never faded. Venom started as part of the NWoBHM movement but during the early '80s, they were something different. Sinister, vicious and everything society hated. One of the most important and influential bands of metal music. Thrash metal, black metal and all things extreme metal, owe a small debt to Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon.

During the NWoBHM we had bands like Witchfinder General,  that were highly influenced by Black Sabbath and offered doom metal in its early forms, but Venom was a unique beast and in 1984 tried different things. Among them, "Warhead", stands as one of their very best songs.  Hear the thunder roar, engraved on flesh and bone.

SCORPIONS - Animal Magnetism


Here we have a true doom metal song. Weird isn't it? This is Scorpions, the greatest German hard rock / heavy metal band, that has sold millions of albums, and yet, back in 1980 (!) they recorded a doom metal song. Following "The Zoo", "Animal Magnetism" is the last track of the same titled album that was released between "Lovedrive" (1979) and "Blackout" (1982), two of the most important and well-known albums of the band. Despite the fact that "Animal Magnetism" was the first Scorpions album that reached platinum status in the USA, somehow remain underrated. Scorpions' guitarist and composer, Rudolf Schenker, has said to Malcolm Dome and Classic Rock that "it's a really powerful album" and ranked it as Number 4 among his 10 favourite Scorpions albums. I don't know if we can take Rudolf seriously since among those 10 albums there is none before "Lovedrive" but we all know the "weird" look of artists upon their legacy and art.

I remember when US power metallers Sanctuary played live in Athens, Greece, in September of 2011, and among the classics of "Refuge Denied" and 'Into the Mirror Black", they also performed a cover of "Animal Magnetism", and most of the attendants didn't recognize that song. If you are not familiar with that doom metal gem, have a listen!

MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP - Lost Horizons


Micheal Schenker's debut album ("The Michael Schenker Group") was also released in 1980. Michael Schenker left UFO and briefly joined Scorpions during "Lovedrive", just to leave after a while and start his own band. "Lost Horizons" is taken from his debut album and his playing has all those elements that influenced a generation of metal guitarists, including many ones from Sweden... Funny how, Memento Mori have covered both "Lost Horizons"  and "Animal Magnetism".

DANZIG - Pain in the World


Off Danzig's second album, "Danzig II - Lucifuge", the closing track is about a heart full of hell and sin. The first 4 Danzig albums include songs that balance between dark rock, slow, groovy heavy metal, blues and lot of experimental sounds. Let's say that Danzig play heavy dark rock and we will be fine! But "Pain in the World" is doomed.  

KING DIAMOND - Digging Graves 


Once a King, always a King. Right? Or not? Well, King Diamond's return over the last years is filled with praise because of his great live shows. There are even people that believe he is in his best shape, ever. It's been a "while" since his last studio album ("Give Me Your Soul... Please", 2007) but just few hours ago, he performed at Hellfest in France a new song! Hopefully, the new album will hit the shelves of the record stores in the next months.

King Diamond's legacy is one of the most important and greatest in metal history, incuding of course, both King Diamond band and Mercyful Fate. Just have a look at all those great musicians that played in these bands, next to King Diamond. Few of them, have also a doom metal history. "Digging Graves" is taken from "The Graveyard" (1996), one of King Diamond's modern classics, and dwells in insanity and doomed feelings.

YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN - Dark Ages 


While Candlemass go neoclassical at "Into the Unfathomed Tower" (from "Tales of Creation", 1989), when they released their monumental debut album, Yngwie Malmsteen released his third solo album ("Trilogy") and "Dark Ages" is a great neoclassical doomed piece, that could be more epic (?) if it was longer. To be or not to be, Maestro is fast, but when he goes slower, he still rules, and there is always a great epic feeling in Malmsteen's slower songs.

ZOOL - Cross of Greed 


When Henrik Flyman (guitars) and Martin Häggström (vocals) disbanded Moahni Moahna in 1997, they formed another unique band under the name Zool, but besides the same-titled album in 2002, they were lost into oblivion. Flyman continued with Evil Masquerade and among others, he was also involved with Epic Irae / Quicksand Dream. While Moahni Moahna still remains a personal favourite and underrated act, Zool in "Cross of Greed" pay a tribute to Dio-era Black Sabbath. And that's just great.

SAVIOUR MACHINE - The Beast 


I just love Saviour Machine. Eric Clayton is one of the most charismatic and emotional performers out there. "The Beast" is taken from "Legend I" (1997) and the Apocalypse is a great concept for Saviour Machine. The story is not completed (and I don't know if it will ever be) but what Saviour Machine tried to do, still remains majestic and unique. And that concept can offer many doomed moments... Behold the nail, the sentence of death, and Jesus wept, it is manifest.

TWISTED SISTER - Destroyer


When Dee Snider and Co. put you under the blade, you will be destroyed. Funny thing is that someone could say that "Destroyer" is inspired by the "God of Thunder" track of Kiss, that's included in their album... "Destroyer"(1976)! Originally released in 1982, decades later, "Destroyer" still remains a killer, ultra heavy anthem and a fan favourite live track. When Twisted Sister were performing in various festivals around Europe, once "Destroyer" was hitting the stage and doomsters haven't heard of them, they were turning their heads to watch the stage, wondering "how the fuck did I miss this"?

MANOWAR - Dark Avenger


There is no need to include epic heavy metal bands here, since many of them have songs with a strong doom metal vibe. But we cannot leave aside Manowar since from their debut album, "Battle Hymns" (1982), they offered to the world an epic doom metal masterpiece entitled, "Dark Avenger". "These bones may be broken but the spirit can't die". No need to mention something else.

Τρίτη, 21 Μαΐου 2019

TANITH interview with Russ Tippins; "Music is my life". Debut album "In Another Time" out now.


TANITH is a new band including a not so "new" musician, Satan's Russ Tippins

Their debut album In Another Time is a passionate vintage hard rock that harks back to the glory days of Blue Öyster Cult, Thin Lizzy and Uriah Heep. However, while such influences resonate through the band’s music, Tanith never derivative, having a strong musical identity and forging their own sound.

Russ met Cindy Maynard playing covers in clubs and pubs in Tippins' native UK, but it soon became obvious that they wanted to create content of their own, and form a full band. Deciding to locate the act in New York, they recruited close friend Charles Newton on guitar and drummer Keith Robinson to realize this so Tanith line-up is completed as: Russ Tippins (guitars, vocals), Cindy Maynard (bass, vocals), Charles Newton (guitars) and Keith Robinson (drums).


Russ Tippins speaks to Crystal Logic about the formation of the band, the debut album In Another Time and everything in-between.


When did you start thinking about the formation of Tanith as a new band? Was it sometime during The Russ Tippins Electric Band shows in United Kingdom? Give us the detailed diary of this new entity and how Tanith did came to life.

RT : The official birth of the band was October 2017, about a month before we recorded the two songs for the 7” single. But for maybe a year leading up to that, Cindy and I were playing in a band around the north of England, exchanging lead vocals while playing our instruments. It was really just a bunch of covers for kicks while she was visiting me. In turn I was spending an increasing amount of time visiting her in New York so it seemed a no-brainer to try and put together some kind of outfit so we could do the same while I was in town. One of my best friends in Brooklyn over the last five years has been Charlie Newton. On several occasions we’ve sat up all night with guitars in hand and beer on the coffee table. He was definitely part of our plan for the New York band. Then one day I said, “hey I have this cool song idea that would suit two voices - let’s record it”. That was the song ‘Eleven Years’. We asked Charlie and Keith to help us record it and booked the studio. Once we’d done that, we were never going to settle for playing covers. It just blossomed from there.

When you recorded the first two songs, ‘Citadel’ and ‘Eleven Years’ in late 2017, did you believe that actually Tanith could continue in full form or did you think that this would be something else? I assume that since music is your job, the bands you're in, are all part of this job, right?

RT : It’s my job yes, pretty much. But more than that music is my life. That said I am a realist and I think that getting those two songs self-released and maybe playing some local shows (whenever I was in NYC) was as far as I could see it going. But then I couldn’t shut down the creative urges and the ideas kept coming. On top of that, Cindy and Charlie were also coming up with ideas of their own. Pretty soon it became evident that if this continued we would have enough material for a full length. But then, we’d also need a label to help out with finance for the recording costs. And all of that actually came to pass in less than a year of formation. It really feels that, from out of nowhere I suddenly find myself in a signed band with three of the best people/musicians I could ever wish for. Sometimes life is so bizarre. You just never know what is around the corner.

What's the story behind the name "Tanith"?

RT : The first time I heard the word Tanith was in a 1960s Christopher Lee movie called ‘The Devil Rides Out’. Great movie, wonderful music and Technicolor visuals. The name of the lead female character was Tanith and I always liked the sound of it. When Cindy and I were brainstorming for band names I said the word aloud and she liked the sound of it too and asked what it meant. I had no idea so we looked it up and saw various references to a mysterious and powerful mythical being. A female leader! This seemed perfect for our female fronted rock band.

Did you have any specific plan of how Tanith should sound and how did you come up with two voices? I have to admit that this sounds very interesting, but how do you also separate your vocal parts?

RT : In terms of sound, it had to be distinctly different to Satan’s music. I even play a different type of guitar with Tanith - a Les Paul, which I am not used to. I actually struggle to play things on a Les Paul that seem easy on a Strat. I had to find another way to play, and that’s a good thing. As to the two vocalists, that’s also something which distinguishes this band from many others. I think it’s refreshing to have both a male and female voice.  It widens the scope of the song and sounds more complete in a sense. I always had a yearning to sing on stage in unison with another vocalist. Cindy and I have a certain rapport having sung together on in cover bands way before Tanith. It just feels so good to be writing our own music now.

When did you start writing songs for your first album and how did you end with Metal Blade Records? Was it an easy task since Satan are also with Metal Blade?

RT : No it wasn’t. When we decided to get serious and start work on a full length, the first thing I did was to contact Metal Blade to see if it was something they might be interested in. They said it wouldn’t be a good idea to have two bands on the label both with the same guitar player as it could lead to a conflict of interests. I thought okay then let’s look elsewhere. As it turned out, other labels then started to contact me saying they liked the single and would love to work with Tanith on a full album. Anyway, we continued working on the record and by the time we finished the recording we had offers from four labels on the table. We really couldn’t decide what to do. Then out of the blue I got a call from Metal Blade asking if Tanith had signed up with anybody yet? I said no we hadn’t and they said “well don’t - until you hear our offer”. I couldn’t believe it. It turned out that, although I’d emailed them mp3 versions of ‘Citadel’ and ‘Eleven Years’ when I first approached them, they didn’t actually listen to them. But the boss of Metal Blade Germany had actually bought the single himself and loved it so much that he called Head Office in LA and told them they had to sign Tanith.

What about the lyrics and the ideas / meanings behind them? For example, we have ‘Citadel (Galantia Pt. 1)’ and ‘Wing of the Owl (Galantia Pt. 3)’ in the album. Since these are my favorite tracks from the album, I have to ask, where is Galantia Pt. 2?

RT : Okay, both ‘Citadel’ and ‘Wing of the Owl’ are part of a three piece concept story called Galantia. After we wrote and released ‘Citadel’ it seemed to us that it was kind of an unfinished tale, so we began writing the words to a follow up story called ‘Seven Moons’ and even a further episode which we titled ‘Wing of the Owl’. We were very happy with the whole story and although we managed to create some great music for part three, sadly we just couldn’t come up with anything that worked for part two and we simply ran out of time. So ‘Seven Moons’ will have to wait until the next release. For your information since that time we did manage to write some music for this piece that we are all very excited about!

The production of In Another Time is also great. Really great and extremely fitting with the songs. This is something that many bands missing; songs that fit with the production. How the recording process was and what kind of albums did you have as reference while recording In Another Time?

RT : If you must know, we recorded the whole thing on analogue tape, mixed it down to analogue tape and cut the master on a vintage lathe machine. All very expensive and time consuming, but yes, I’m glad you picked up on the sound. It’s entirely different to just about everything out there right now. I guess I’m the only one in this band who’s previously had experience of making music this way. I wanted to try it again for this LP. Recording digitally is cheap but it makes every band sound the same. And it’s too easy to cheat and correct mistakes on the computer. I do miss the days of having to actually get it right first time or else live with mistakes on your record. I miss the beautiful sound of magnetic tape.

While your music is not exactly "heavy metal", it is marketed within the metal field and released under Metal Blade Records. Do you want to stay within the metal field or deep in your mind you want to reach another audience?

RT : I don’t necessarily believe it’s going to be easy to be accepted in the metal world. There are metalheads out there who regard even Satan’s music as “lite beer” so Lord knows what they’ll make of Tanith. Even heavy metal journalists can be somewhat reactionary in their outlook. We are happy to play for metal crowds though, if they like you they can be fiercely loyal. I think we made a lot of new converts when we played Frost & Fire fest in California which was very encouraging! Having said that, our sights are not set squarely on the metal world, but the world at large.

I know it won't be easy to answer, actually I don't know if there is an answer, but when do you feel more satisfied as a musician, when you play with Steve Ramsay and Satan or when you play and sing with Cindy Maynard?

RT : Why can’t it be both? At the end of the day I am still playing music that I’ve been a part of creating. That is a key factor for me. I would say the biggest difference between the two bands is that with me and Steve, we’ve been playing together for nearly forty years. On stage it’s almost telepathic, the interplay between us. That is something that will require more time and experience for Tanith. I will say however, that even though this is a new band, there are many times over the last five years when Charlie and I have sat up all night playing guitars and putting the world to right!

Do you have any plans for live shows and what the future holds for Tanith?

RT : In the short term, it seems people are curious about Tanith and will probably check us out. We need to make sure we bring our ‘A Game’ to the table at both Muskelrock Festival and the album launch in New York. The real test will be when we start visiting places for a second time, and get onto a follow up album. There will need to be something more than curiosity to retain interest. Hopefully the music itself will take care of that. I believe in this band with all of my heart and there is no question we will maintain the standards we’ve set to date.


In Another Time is out now on Metal Blade Records