BOARHAMMER: Of DIY, gloomy woods and hierarchies

Good music can be released on any medium, of course, but when a band releases their demo as a tape, I’m doubly excited. There can hardly be two opinions about Boarhammer, who recently released their debut in this way: they are simply very, very good.
It’s nice that The Vessel (vocals, drums, bass) and Wodwoz (guitars, vocals) agreed to talk!

I am incredibly old and for that reason alone I immediately fell in love with “I: Cutting Wood For Magickal Purposes”. For all its originality, it sounds exactly like the early / mid 1990s. Is it presumptuous to assume that you have a certain love for the old Black Metal of Eastern Europe?

The Vessel: No, it’s not presumptuous at all. Master’s Hammer in particular is a band we hold in high regard. The combination of oddballness, traditional heavy metal, fury, and almost operatic bombast is something that impressed me quite a bit when I first got to hear it sometime in the 90s.
Through my grandmother’s origins, I also have a personal connection to Eastern Europe: she came from the region of the High Tatras and brought me into contact with numerous myths, legends, stories of occult practices and strange events etc. already in early childhood. Perhaps this shaped my interest in these subjects.

Wodwoz: Merula, first of all, thank you very much for the confession of love – we feel very honoured! Sure, there are quite a few bands we listened to regularly even during the making of the demo. Definitely Master’s Hammer. Tormentor are also great, but they sound completely different. So it’s quite possible that one or the other influence has crept in. In general, we try to find our own musical language and not to be the thousandth clone of something. Maybe it’s exactly this approach that brings us close to the bands you mentioned.

I hear a lot of influences from occult and black-tinged heavy metal. Also stirring twin guitars, for example in “Spirits on Black Wings”. My first thought, this sounds very much like old Messiah, was later put into perspective and probably referred more to the ingenious vocals.
Nevertheless, “Hymn to Abramelin” and “Extreme Cold Weather” are immortal and should be heard monthly, right?

The Vessel: To be honest, Messiah have not been a band of much relevance to us; in fact, it was through your reference to them that I first became aware of the band. That may be an educational gap, but it’s true. However, I find the vocals on “Hymn to Abramelin” pretty great.

Wodwoz: I’m afraid I’ll have to pass on that one too… Messiah have also passed me by so far. But thanks for the tip, cool shit! I generally like bands that produced extreme metal across genre boundaries in this small time window somewhere in the mid-eighties.

You formed in 2020, released a strong tape in 2021. What’s coming in 2022?

The Vessel: We are still working on new songs and hope to record them later this year. A few weeks ago we got in touch with the small but nice label Naturmacht Productions; Robert was quite taken with our demo tape and will probably release our next recordings. When that will happen, however, is not yet definite. We hope to release our first album in 2023.

Wodwoz: We have definitely tasted blood! When we started the band one and a half years ago, the only thing we really wanted to do was to finally make some noise in the rehearsal room again and, in the best case scenario, produce a few songs that we ourselves would enjoy. Although we have been friends for a long time, it never happened before that we made music together. To be honest, we were a bit surprised that the chemistry worked out so well in the end. In the meantime, the demo is half a year old and since then it’s been a wild ride: we’ve received masses of positive reviews and feedback, sold out our tapes completely and even found a label, Naturmacht, that is willing to release our next work.

A good and friendly label is an asset. But what if you received an offer from the very top, let’s say Napalm or Nuclear Blast?

The Vessel: I don’t think such a big label would be an option for us. We are convinced advocates of the DIY ethos and are not prepared to let ourselves be talked into our ideas and convictions from the outside. I can hardly imagine that a big record company would give a niche band like us full artistic freedom, but that’s what we want. With a label like Naturmacht, we feel that people like Robert are doing it for the right reasons and that they too care about the independence of the artists, which should be encouraged rather than restricted. If it’s more about sales figures than about the music, things become difficult and also uninteresting for us. We love what we do, but fortunately we are not dependent on making money with it.

Wodwoz: Major labels knocking on our door is a nice thought process, but nothing more. There is a small but fine target group of freaks for our music, from which we have received an incredible amount of positive feedback within the last six months since the release of our demo. And that’s the only reason we’re doing this. Of course we want to reach more people in the future, but definitely still in the underground and with full creative control!

When I looked into this internet, I was amazed that there really is a weapon called Boarhammer. Were you aware of that when you came up with the name, or was it inspired by the hammer drill (its german name is Bohrhammer), or was the naming simply done on a spiritual level?
But apart from that, what is your favourite hand tool? (Mine is the water pump pliers, also called pipe wrenches. You can grab, twist, screw, break, hammer and even throw with it).

The Vessel: Do you mean that fantasy tabletop or computer game thing, or that sling for hunting? (The sling thing that seems to somehow cushion the pressure of the gun. – m.) We have actually discovered these devices in the meantime. We were not aware of either when we came up with the name, but at least the fantasy weapon fits somehow….
In fact, when finding the name, we thought about how we could find a symbol for our thematic-philosophical background on the one hand, and on the other hand how we could make a more or less obvious reference to the representatives of the primordial soup of Black Metal, who influenced us because we grew up with their music. For us, “Boar” symbolically embodies our forest- and myth-relatedness quite well; Hellhammer are just super, so one fits into the other.

Wodwoz: The fact that we often directly arouse these DIY associations with the German-speaking public was not intended, but probably can’t be changed now, haha. Our sound has been compared several times to a pack of wild boars raging through the undergrowth and leaving a trail of destruction – I find that more fitting.
If you google this boarhammer hunting accessory thingy, you’ll find loads of photos and videos of asshole hunters shooting wild boars and anything else they can get their hands on for the sheer fun of it, and then posing with the trophies. May they all be mauled in agony by the righteous tusks of the mighty Boarhammer!

Are you more excited about the new King Diamond, or the new Mercyful Fate album? And if neither, would you at least like to chat a bit about your relationship or attitude towards the King?

The Vessel: I’m definitely more excited about the new Mercyful Fate album. The first two albums, “Melissa” and “Don’t break the Oath”, are really strong classics for me. This mixture of first class guitar work and the King’s unique vocals is unmatched.

Wodwoz: I’m really looking forward to both albums, but I have no illusions that the new discs can even come close to the classics. Of course, it always has the character of an event when legendary bands release a new album, and I always enjoy sitting down with it in peace. But to be honest, it tends to have the effect that I tend to put on an old record by the band in question relatively quickly. I’m definitely more excited about the new Mercyful Fate! I’m not a mega-fan and I don’t know all the later MF and Kind Diamond albums by a long shot. In principle, “Melissa” and “Don’t break the Oath” are really enough for me. Both albums breathe a spirit that the King could not reproduce with his later line-ups.

Imagine you are given a choice: You can either listen to any musical release before the year 2000, and not only listen to it, you may add the original recordings to your collection. But nothing after 1.1.2000, not even a new release, this world remains closed to you forever.
Or you may listen to and collect everything from 2000 until the end of your earthly days, really everything. And for free. But the music before 2000 is gone forever.
How would you decide?

Wodwoz: I follow very closely what new releases come out week after week, and I’m always on the lookout for new musical discoveries. I would miss that a lot, but I still choose option A. I increasingly find that I have such a strong nostalgic connection to albums I discovered in the early nineties that very few post-2000 releases come close to. Besides, there’s still so much to discover across music history that you can’t listen to it all in one lifetime. So it wouldn’t be boring with only old music.

The Vessel: Definitely the music from before 2000. The amount of innovative bands that existed between, let’s say, roughly 1970 and 2000 in the Rock and Metal field must not be lost. Of course, there have been great bands since 2000 and there are still great bands today that break boundaries and are able to add new facets to metal music. But if everything before 2000 was gone, that would probably be the more dramatic loss for me.

I suspect you have a deep connection to nature. Does this only refer to rituals in the dark woods, or do you also go fishing, hunting, looking for mushrooms or collecting herbs?

The Vessel: Being out in the dark woods is definitely part of the Boarhammer routine; the forest is the natural habitat of the Boarhammer, so to speak. This is where we decided to found the band, and this is where many important ideas around our music and our concept were and still are born. My relationship to nature, however, is much more diverse and is not limited to the band. Nature is important to me both in terms of concrete experience (e.g. through hiking, looking at and feeling the landscape and weather, but definitely also through collecting herbs or materials) and philosophically (e.g. regarding the symbolic level of the meaning of the forest, the mountains, the sea etc. in various mythologies).

Wodwoz: Picking mushrooms as well as wild and medicinal herbs has become more and more important to me in recent years. I find it fascinating what variety there is, and at the same time frightening how far we have moved away from the knowledge and practices of our ancestors with our modern way of life. I have great respect for hunting and fishing in its archaic form. Neither plays a role for us though, the Boarhammer coexists peacefully with all creatures of the woods and waters!

I like the statement in the booklet. (“Being an agent of chaos, BOARHAMMER deeply despises all kinds of concepts that aim at establishing an order of hierarchy of any kind, including ideas like racism, misogyny, sexism, fascism or any other -ism in the same vain. If you approve of concepts like that, BOARHAMMER is not for you.”)
Does “agent of chaos” mean sympathy for anarchy, or is that much, much deeper than any political view? Or both?

The Vessel: Both, actually. In the context of black metal, I find the reference to the world view of the church in England in Shakespeare’s time, for example, very interesting. In the Elizabethan worldview, there is a strict, God-given hierarchy, at the top of which is God himself and which assigns man a clearly superior role to the rest of nature. Within human society, again, a strict hierarchy exists. These circumstances are considered to be so willed by God; any rebellion embodies the power of chaos (of which the devil is the personification) and must be smashed for the sake of preserving or restoring order.
If one now considers black metal as a kind of nihilistic principle that questions and negates valid values and norms, i.e. as a mode of action of chaos, it cannot be justified as a political instrument – as in NSBM – because as such it would rather have the function of preserving or advancing hierarchies, i.e. shaping orders. This seems contradictory to me.

Does “I” mean that this delicious demo tape is the first part of a cycle?

The Vessel: Exactly. There will definitely be more to come. We are already following up on our concept and working diligently on new material.

Wodwoz: Yes, after all the positive reactions to our demo, the motivation to launch the next release is huge!

Thank you, big BOARHAMMER, and good luck for your future

Count Raven – The Sixth Storm


Count Raven – The Sixth Storm
I Hate
73:32 min
Heavy Doom Metal

To call singer Dan Fondelius an Ozzy plagiarism is just as inappropriate as denying any comparisons to the gloomy Birminghamers.
Count Raven sound independent and, by the way, absolutely great, but listening to their new (sixth) album, you can’t help thinking about the subject.
If at all compare, then really with the first five Black Sabbath albums, or not even rather with the first three Ozzy albums? Shame on anyone who treats these three works disparagingly compared to the mother band.
Well then, the new album starts with grandiose doom metal of the heavy metal rocking kind – that the band plays their doom far away from the extremes of funeral and death doom should be known.
Hearty, gripping HEAVY riffs meet coherent choruses, and all this is excellently packed into a crushing sound, which doesn’t sound the least bit modern and yet so powerful and clear.
Outstanding!
In the first part, to return to the opening theme, rather Black Sabbath, until the fourth, unusual and untypical song “Heaven’s Door” leaves the inclined listener quite touched.
From then on, if I may say so, it becomes even more Ozzy in the sense of his early solo albums.
On the one hand, it’s more likely to be a hit and more chorus-oriented.
But especially those who have lived through long, difficult and bad times in their lives in an unhealthy relationship with substances, see the early Ozzy records in a completely different perspective than the happy average person does.
That balance, that pairing of deeply tragic, sad, bitter parts with the little smile on top. Concerned people know what I mean.
So in this way dramatish and melancholic the song material turns a little and finds a brilliant climax in the poignant “Baltic Storm”, for which alone I would buy the record.
The long and epic “Oden” is followed by the last song “Goodbye”, and leaves the writer of these lines speechless, with salty water in the corners of her eyes.
Memories are awakened, song titles like “Changes”, “So Tired”, but above all “Alone You Breathe” (Savatage) force themselves upon you.
Brilliant.

(merula)

Metallica – Ride the Lightning vs. Master of Puppets

Metallica – Ride the Lightning vs. Master of Puppets
or: Why “Ride” is the better record.

Cover artwork

Ride the Lightning captivates in beguiling blue, but Master of Puppets’ cover is so iconic that the point goes to “Master“.

Ride: 0 Master: 1

Intro

The intro to “Fight Fire with Fire” is a permanent part of my life, and since I heard it when the first snow fell in 1985, I always think of this epochal album when I hear snow.
Musically, the intro to “Master of Puppets” is even more exciting and dramatic. This point also goes to “Master”.

Ride: 0 Master: 2

First song

“Fight Fire with Fire” or “Battery”? A decision is not possible, both get one point.

Ride: 1 Master: 3

Second song

“Master of Puppets” is better composed, but “Ride the Lightning” is harder and more dramatic.
One point each for both.

Ride: 2 Master: 4

Third song

“The Thing that Should Not Be” is awesome, but “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is one of the greatest band anthems.
One point for “Ride”.

Ride: 3 Master: 4

Fourth song, the ballad

“Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” is great, but “Fade to Black” is godlike.
One point to “Ride”.

Ride: 4 Master: 4

Fifth song, opener of the B-side.

“Trapped Under Ice” goes off like a rocket, but “Disposable Heroes” is then an angry, desperately accusatory work of absolute excellence.
Point to “Master”.

Ride: 4 Master: 5

Sixth song, the “Filler”.

Of course, if we’re talking about a weaker song here, that means these two songs would only get 10 out of 10 points, not 11 out of 10.
“Leper Messiah”, despite its lengths, is better than “Escape” with its inexplicable drumbeats beside the line, though.

Ride: 4 Master: 6

Eighth or seventh song, the instrumental.

“Orion” is breathtaking, sombre and touching. However, it is no match for the song of the century “Call of Ktulu”, perhaps the best Metal instrumental in 200,000 years of human history.

Ride: 5 Master: 6

Seventh or eighth song – what’s left over

“Damage, Inc.” is cool, but “Creeping Death” is one of the greatest band anthems ever.
I was in Lisbon at a Workers’ Party street party. What did the band play there? Of course “Creeping Death”, not “Damage, Inc.”!

Ride: 6 Master: 6

Sound

The very compressed sound on “Master of Puppets” really gets on my nerves and doesn’t stand a chance against the unpolished brute sound of “Ride the Lightning”.

Ride: 7 Master: 6

Overall impression

Two milestones, two adorable works of the century.
But the raw elemental power and impetuosity of “Ride the Lightning” was lost afterwards.

Ride: 8 Master: 6

So the winner is clearly “Ride the Lightning”!
“Kill Em All” I love idolatrously, but I didn’t rate it here, as I only wanted to review the two albums that compare so closely.
“… And Justice For All” would very well be comparable, but for me it falls completely out of the running due to its long-windedness and cheekiness towards Jason.
“Metallica” is a great, fantastic heavy rock hit album, but doesn’t fit in this place.
All the other albums are far from brilliant, but they are also quite good; I listen to them once or twice a year. All of them, including “Lulu” and “St. Anger”. They are not that bad.

(merula)

Die Apokalyptischen Reiter – Soft & Stronger


Die Apokalyptischen Reiter – Soft & Stronger
Ars Metalli
40:02 min
Reiter Metal

The story of the best band begins with a horse whinny, and that’s a good thing.
Sure, before that there was a spectacular demo and a story about the actual formation of the band that was as coincidental as it was endearing and worth believing, but a horse whinny plus bass guitar tones introduce the album that paved the way for the Thuringian formation to a world-spanning career.
“Iron Fist” shows the way, but it’s not until the next song “The Almighty” that the equestrian folk pull out all the stops: varied, hefty and crude death metal with epic interludes, classical piano passages and, above all, the ingenious, defining alternating vocals between deep growls (Eumel) and deviant screeching (Skell).
The wild hunt continues with “Execute” and “Downfall” up to “Metal will never die”, one of the greatest hymns to metal itself. Unfortunately, not everyone understood at the time that the song was meant just as seriously as similar songs by Manowar and thought it was all an annoying joke. Mendacious lot – like listening to “Fast as a Shark” with the corners of your mouth hanging down at the disco at the weekend!

In this early phase, of course, the band didn’t play as mature and balanced as they did from the 2000s onwards, often hacking away wildly, but that was exactly what was so extraordinary about this unique combo: In a world where you thought everything about Black, Death, Heavy, Thrash, Speed Metal had already been said, four guys impetuously pushed their way from their rehearsal room straight to the front row, on and on. Impressive to this day – and in this one certain way also their best album. Revolutionary.
It couldn’t be duplicated, and the clever Reitervolk knew that, and from then on they followed a path of metallic vicissitudes that can be perceived as ingenious or exhausting, depending on taste, but never as mediocre.

(merula)

Helheim – WoduridaR


Helheim – WoduridaR
Dark Essence
57:14
Black / Viking Metal

Helheim from Bergen have released a new album, which in itself is reason enough to rejoice. However, with this, their eleventh longplayer, they have heaved such a great milestone into their oeuvre that it is worth collecting enough firewood for a whole bonfire.
After a short quasi-intro, the album starts brilliantly with the high-speed slashing weapon “Vilje av Stål”. With a murderous twenty-second scream, a firework of drumming and wild guitars begins, which, however, quite soon change into – still high-tempo – melodic guitars and delightful alternating vocals between harsh and clear.
Adorable! Sounds so much like the best mid-nineties Norse Viking / Black Metal that even Helheim themselves could hardly manage in their time.
It continues with “Forrang for fiede” with a still high musical tempo, which however offers plenty of variety within the speed that makes every black metalist happy, as well as quite progressive guitars and ulveresque Bergtatt vocals.
The following title track deepens all this and, apart from a very successful vocal, relies on a ravishing, melancholic mood and stylistic devices such as ominous drums.
As if variety wasn’t already a big issue on this album, “Åndsfilosofen” even tempts with sublime bitter-sweet choruses that almost remind me a little of a black metal version of “Sistinas”. Great!
“Ni s solu sot” starts with very melodic guitars and is generally a bit quieter, but all the more epic. This points the way for the further course of WODURIDAR, because the album becomes more and more thoughtful and epic, finally ending with the hymn-like “Det kommer i bølger”. Am I mistaken, or does the band very skilfully combine Bathory / Viking Epic with Americana or Dark Country?
Listen to it and form your own opinion.
Buy it, or at least check it out!

(merula)

Fluisteraars – Gegrepen Door de Geest der Zielsontluiking

Fluisteraars – Gegrepen Door de Geest der Zielsontluiking

Eisenwald

35:35

Black Metal

Opinions were divided about the previous album “Bloem” – but I loved it before I had even heard the first note. A Black Metal record with a flower meadow on the cover, that’s what I always wanted!

Opinions will also differ on “Gegrepen Door de Geest der Zielsontluiking” again, but maybe not on the warm, light-filled atmosphere of the predecessor, but on the really exuberant joy of experimentation of their newborn.

Shall we talk about it?

After a few short drum beats, “Het overvleugelen der meute” begins with a furious tempo, shimmering guitars with a nice amount of reverb and full of heartrending, melancholic drama and immediate vocals from Bob Mollema, who, by the way, is jangling in exactly the right direction.

The piece changes tempos every now and then in just the right way, the last two minutes then consisting of more experimental sounds.

It’s not that I wouldn’t like the song without those two minutes – it’s still fun to listen to and let yourself fall into it.

“Brand woedt in mijn graf” starts seamlessly afterwards and roughly follows in the footsteps of the first song, which is meant as a great compliment.

The third of three songs is the 20-minute “Verscheuring in de schemering”, and here you would be doing the band an injustice if you regarded the experimental part of the song as an accessory – after all, it is an essential part of the song with all its surprising, not always (fortunately) easy to follow pans and changes, with its adventurous, spacey instrumentation and the spiritual mood. Which is also deeply enthusiastic in its black metal sector.

And while we’re talking about enthusiasm – I especially like the biting bass in the pleasantly transparent, differentiated overall sound, the guitars are noble-black, the vocals matured and partly of the very finest really hysterical high screeching, the drums good and song-serving. Nice cover and booklet too!

P.S. If you always wanted to know how real experts transform a rock n roll riff with minimalistic variations into an epic black metal riff in no time, listen to “Verscheuring in de schemering” from 12:45 min. on.

(merula)