Chilean exiles make an organic offering
Hetroertzen have undertaken an unusual journey – geographically as well as musically speaking. Though formed in Chile back in 1997 under the name Hhahda, the occult black metal outfit ultimately relocated to the rather different climes of Sweden, a decision that’s allowed them to progress and raise their profile considerably – a point underlined by their signing to sizeable French label Listenable.
“We got tired of our country,” explains founder Frater D, who handles drums and, until very recently, vocals. “There weren’t the possibilities we were looking for, everything was much more difficult and complicated. We chose Sweden because we were influenced back then by the mythology, the Vikings and by many Swedish bands. The European culture attracted us so much that in the end we felt that we were born in the wrong place.”
Hetroertzen’s music and general aesthetic has long been characterised by heavy occult overtones, but contrary to expectations it turns out that the band are not particularly inspired by the more recent and overtly ‘religious’ face of Swedish black metal.
“We listened to lots of Dark Funeral, Setherial, Marduk – and also Tiamat, Therion and Candlemass. Personally, I have a respect for the newer bands but I don’t take inspiration from them; my inspiration comes more from classical music and 80s rock and heavy metal. It was much easier to talk about what black metal bands we were inspired by 10 or 15 years ago, but today we don’t feel we are taking inspiration from black metal, rather the opposite – I have taken so much from Nordic black metal I have to give something and do real music, something different, something new.”
In line with such motivations, the group’s latest album, Uprising Of The Fallen, has taken a notable step into more direct and organic territories. In fact, in many ways it goes against the prevalent trends of the scene by moving away from the more ceremonial aspects of their recent compositions. Gone are the ambient sections and cleaner production, resulting in a grittier and more earthly sound.
“This album is more straightforward,” Frater D agrees. “This time it is all recorded at a studio with real microphones and it’s very honest, there are no triggers and so on. It was much more difficult – if you want to achieve that Cradle or Dimmu sound you just find the sample and you can enhance everything so easily. It’s a fake, plastic feeling – it can sound OK when playing in your car, but it is not real. The ambient parts on the last album were part of the concept, but this is not a conceptual album. The lyrics remain quite devotional and are deep into the occult matters, but now we don’t need to show so much what we are doing, because those things should be kept for ourselves. But the devotion is still there whether we are signed to Listenable or a more underground label. We are a black metal band, a devotional act, that is not going to change.”
Who are they?
LINEUP: Frater D (drums), Åskväder (guitar), Anubis (guitar/vocals), Ham (bass)
SOUNDS LIKE: Dense, gritty and shrouded second wave black metal with touches of murk-invested death metal and varying degrees of ritualism.
FOR FANS OF: Dødsengel, Acherontas, Aosoth
CURRENT RELEASE: Uprising Of The Fallen (Listenable, 2017)
Killjoy journeys with The Great Beast
Not content with three decades of gruesome horror metal evangelism with Necrophagia, Frank ‘Killjoy’ Pucci has discovered some fresh darkness to explore. Inspired by Aleister Crowley, Haxxan is the bestial, black metal Yang to Necrophagia’s deathly Yin. “My fascination with Crowley began when I was a teen, hearing Ozzy sing about him,” says Killjoy. “It was familiar name because my mother had a few books on him and some kind of witchcraft magazine with an article called ‘Aleister Crowley: the other Loch Ness Monster’, hence the title of the album!”
Darker, slower and more sinister than Necrophagia, Loch Ness Rising exhibits a profound love of second wave black metal, and the bleak minimalism of Beherit in particular. But thanks to the band’s lead-heavy delivery, this is no feeble-minded retro trip. Instead, the slithering, snarling likes of Babalon and Chemical Perversions represent Killjoy’s own uniquely blackened vision. “Haxxan is primarily a primitive black metal band,” he explains. “We also incorporate touches of classic bands like Mercyful Fate and Candlemass. I was much more open-minded to ideas with Haxxan. Shawn is a genius! He is easily the best musician I have ever worked with in any band.”
Loosely based on Crowley’s life, …Rising necessarily digs deeper into the depths of human evil than anything Killjoy has done in the past. This is the sound of evil lurking and humanity untamed. “The lyrics to Chemical Perversions are indicative of Crowley’s use of drugs to open his mind to new realms,” says Killjoy, “to push the limits he believed that we consciously place on ourselves.”
With a new Necrophagia album in the works and gigs with Haxxan on the horizon, Killjoy remains one of metal’s most prolific and dedicated slaves to the dark. “We’re already working on ideas for the next record,” he states. “I guess I’m just scratching the itch to do something outside Necrophagia, where I’m a much more controlling bastard, ha ha!”
Who are they?
LINEUP: Killjoy (vocals), Shawn Slusarek (guitar), Jake Arnett (bass), Serge Streltsov (drums)
SOUNDS LIKE: Grotesque, doom-driven BM.
FOR FANS OF: Beherit, Archgoat, Candlemass
CURRENT RELEASE: Loch Ness Rising
German voyagers reconstruct extremity
Those with their tinnitus-ruined ears to the under- ground have been waiting six years for the follow-up to Venenum’s self-titled mini-album. The explanation for the lengthy delay is not down to clandestine movements or alchemical experiments as their brutish and adventurous full- length might suggest. Rather, as bassist/vocalist F.S.A. explains, the Bavaria-based band’s absence was for more frustrating, mundane reasons…
“I lived in Austria until a year ago and we weren’t able to rehearse on a regular basis. Then our second guitarist left, so we had to continue as a three-piece for a while. Luckily we found a new one, D.P., who is a great addition and I managed to move to Germany, so things got easier.”
Trance Of Death, with its booming production and its sharp, Watain- esque execution, is the ideal representation of Venenum’s destructive yet nuanced noise. “We were able to realise all our ideas and didn’t have to make any compromises,” F.S.A. says, before praising engineer Romin Katzer: “Romin’s excellent skills as an engineer as well as the use of high-end equipment are the reasons for the amazing sound. He has a great selection of instruments and we were able to experiment, so a lot of things were done on the spot.”
From the brooding neo-folk strains of Entrance to Trance Of Death Part II’s shades of Deep Purple and proggish detours, replete with an exquisite solo section, it’s certain that Venenum are not content to just retread the dank ground of Swedish-inspired death metal. Like Tribulation, Venenum are keen to continue their transformation while twisting conventions. “We don’t like to limit ourselves, and keep an open mind when it comes to influences and other genres,” F.S.A. confirms. “I understand that there’s a thin line between incorporating new elements into music and going overboard with it, but as long you stay authentic and don’t force anything, I welcome change and progress.”
Who are they?
LINEUP: F.S.A. (bass, vocals), P.T. (guitars), D.P. (guitars), F.J.L. (drums)
SOUNDS LIKE: The sudden metamorphosis of black/death into something more majestic.
FOR FANS OF: Tribulation, Degial, Watain
CURRENT RELEASE: Trance Of Death (Sepulchral Voice, 2017)