Ex-The Oath guitarist seeks new horizons
Both a rebirth and an act of restoration for its founder, Linnéa Olsson, Maggot Heart sees the former The Oath and Beastmilk/Grave Pleasures guitarist returning to her punk roots – not as a retrogressive act but as a means for seeking out new, personal horizons. Recorded with former In Solitude members Uno Bruniusson and Gottfrid Åhman, her debut EP, City Girls, also sees her taking up vocals for the first time, her sleepless, nocturnal drawl navigating restless travelogues as they seek a way out of their own sense of claustrophobia.
“I never had any sort of desire to front a band,” Linnéa admits. “It was more out of necessity. Also, it was a way to challenge myself and do something new, to feel like I’m moving forward instead of standing still.”
City Girls sounds like a new beginning, not just in the raw texture of the four songs, but in the way its drama unfolds gradually in real time. Songs feel their way in the dark until they start to expand, from the sloshing post-punk riffs of Razorhead through No Light In You’s feverish stomp to Neuromancer’s turbo-charged, Motörhead-ravaged intro, which branches out into the kind of spindly, exploratory breaks that have become Linnéa’s signature guitar tone.
“I’ve played heavy metal but I never quite identified with that,” she say of her musical roots. “I was always more of a minimalist. I like riffs and I like rhythm and simple melodies, So punk was the first type of music that I fell in love with, so for me it’s very natural to go back into that direction.”
Maggot Heart is a different beast to The Oath, less explicitly occult, and although feverish, haunted by more tangible forces, but it’s still very much a product of Linnéa’s relocation from Stockholm to Berlin. There’s a feeling of uprootedness, anxiety and tantalising yet daunting opportunity for adventure running a dynamic course throughout the EP’s four tracks.
“The city as a state of mind is something that is thematically close to my heart,” says Linnéa. “I think these songs are about a sense of escapism and of wanting to reach further, to grasp something exciting and dangerous. We all relate to that feeling of growing up in a small city, listening to music and wanting to go to a bigger and more exciting place. But then there’s the flipside of that, and the city can be a monster in itself. You go there because of the darkness, and then you might end up being swallowed by it. So a lot of the stuff that I write circles around that; the excitement, but also the danger of it.
“Berlin represents freedom in so many ways,” she say of her adopted home. “You feel so unrestricted here, and for me that’s the holy grail. Then of course you also realise that the thing you did in the beginning to be free, the partying, chasing some sort of fire, can also be very destructive in the end. And then you realise that the things that can set you free can also be enslaving. Regardless of where you are, you’re always going to be stuck with yourself!”
Who are they?
LINEUP: Linnéa Olsson (vocals, guitar), Gottfrid Åhman (bass), Uno Bruniusson (drums)
SOUNDS LIKE: Raw, anxiety-stricken and expansive post- punk trawls, through a dark yet neon-lit night of the soul.
FOR FANS OF: Amebix, Killing Joke, Poison Idea
CURRENT RELEASE: City Girls EP (Teratology Sound & Vision, 2017)
Resurrected Swedes go to extremes
In the mid-00s, a generation of hungry young Swedish bands emerged, determined to take the underground back to its natural habitat. The likes of Invidious, Necrovation and Graveless broadcasted unfiltered occult messages via rough demo tapes with Xeroxed covers.
Gravehammer weren’t the most high-profile of the bunch, so there wasn’t much buzz when a few of their lineup enrolled J.S. from Bestial Mockery before morphing into Ensnared in 2010. But the EP that followed, Ravenous Damnation’s Dawn, caught everyone unawares by adopting a serpentine form, primitive yet intricate, before the band seemingly vanished after their Hell’s Pleasure appearance in 2014. Three years later, with J.S. having been let go in the interim, and with two of their members having remained busy with Trial (Swe), Ensnared’s first full-length, Dysangelium, marks its own territory once again, inserting psychotic interludes between songs.
“The title is the opposite of Evangelium, which means ‘joyous message’ and the central theme is to reasses our religious upbringings” specify drummer J. K. and guitarist/vocalist H.K. “We reassess everything we do all the time. That’s why our releases take the time they take, in order to mutate into a work we deem fitting as an Ensnared release before we can feel satisfied with it.”
Not only has it been four years since Ravenous…, it’s taken the band seven years under this moniker to finally release a full-length. That suggests a lot of reassessment.
“It also took us longer this time than scheduled to fit every interlude between the right song,” the band admit. “We wanted them to put both the performers and the listeners into a trance. It also turns the album into one experience and not just a collection of tracks. Overall, we constantly try to push the limits to see how rough and fucked-up we can play without the music sounding like noise. That’s why the album sounds out of control, like something that’s trying to break free from its form, wild and untamed.”
Who Are They?
LINEUP: H.K. (vocals, guitar), A.J. (guitar) A. E. (bass), J. K. (drums)
SOUNDS LIKE: Swedish death metal whose psychotic and raw approach doesn’t really sound that Swedish.
FOR FANS OF: Merciless, Nifelheim, Morbus Chron
CURRENT RELEASE: Dysangelium (Invictus, 2017)
Sumptuous sermons to the Dark Tower
Philadelphia power trio Heavy Temple perform a refreshingly organic concoction of psychedelic doom-laden swagger, space rock exploration and rumbling 70s fuzz. With their new EP, Chassit, the band evoke the lysergic eccentricity of Stephen King’s Dark Tower sci-fi series, conjuring a heady atmosphere of cosmic hypnosis. Bassist, vocalist and mastermind, the enigmatic High Priestess Nighthawk grants access to the fount of inspiration.
“The lyrical content is loosely based on the Dark Tower series,” she explains, “but the titles are certainly more of a reference to the actual books. I don’t know that the sound of this collection of songs will make anyone think of Mid World, but there are some intentional atmospheric accents that certainly were born there.”
In the time-honoured power trio tradition of elder gods Cream, Grand Funk Railroad and Blue Cheer, Heavy Temple’s music is played with a tight focus, the band’s masterful dexterity proving vital when forming a telepathic bond between its members. As Nighthawk explains, it came about as a matter of necessity.
“I started writing for an unnamed project in 2012 that would end up becoming Heavy Temple. I did write for two guitars initially, but even keeping two members proved to be difficult, let alone three. After the first album, I had to start with a completely new lineup, and that’s when I started writing Chassit. While I’m the primary songwriter, we’re hoping now that we have a solid trio.”
Considering the immersive nature of their EP, do Heavy Temple require any extra stimuli in the live setting, and can we expect any theatrics?
“We like good lighting, and incense,” says Nighthawk. “Devil’s grass and fire water are part of our ritual, certainly. I can say with confidence that our live show is something be experienced, we like to just get down to business. We take our shredding seriously, but we have a good goddamn time doing it.”
Who Are They?
LINEUP: High Priestess Nighthawk (bass/vocals), Arch Bishop Barghest (guitar), Siren Tempestas (drums)
SOUNDS LIKE: Hypnotic doom/psych sermons from a planet way cooler than our own.
FOR FANS OF: Jex Thoth, Grand Funk Railroad
CURRENT RELEASE: Chassit (Ván, 2017)