Monday, July 20, 2009

Interview with Sweden's "Neglektum"

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Neglektum, a progressive black metal band from Sweden. Their new demo, "Beyond the Frozen Mist", is an excellent piece of work, and any metalhead worth his salt should pick it up.

1. So how did you guys come up with the name Neglektum?

We thought about it for a long time and tried to find something that we thought would fit us. It’s hard nowadays to actually find a name that hasn’t been used at all, but we were fortunate to do it. We actually got the name from the latin word “Neglectum”. It means “slight” in English, and I guess the English word “neglect” has its origin from it as well. We thought it fit, but we also thought it looked better with a K.

2. The first things I noticed with your demo are the very long songs and the lack of extensively rapid double bass. Are there reasons for these?

Lack of extensive double bass? I disagree. I mean, the double bass isn’t there for an entire song (although very close on “Needless Suffering), but listen to the first part of “Isolation” or as mentioned, pretty much the whole of “Needless Suffering”. There’s definitely some double bass on there. In fact, there’s double bass on every track. But, we also have mellow parts as well, which are part of the progressive elements that we have in our music. This also explains why we have long songs as well.

3. Who was instrumental in shaping the black metal you guys play?

In terms of us, it’s been me and Nazgirth who naturally came up with the style that we now play. It just clicked. We previously played progressive death metal, but eventually black metal caught up with us. It just fits perfectly with our styles of play.

In terms of bands, I would say Opeth, Ulver, Immolation, Satyricon, Marduk, Nyktalgia, etc.

4. The demo has surprisingly good production. Did you record at a studio or did you do it all yourselves?

No studio, it’s all recorded on a tiny Zoom h2 device. Except the bass which was recorded separately through a line-in. We did everything ourselves. We honestly were surprised at just how good the production turned out to be despite the equipment we had.

5. What is the story behind “Beyond the Frozen Mist”? Is there a personal significance to it?

Yes, but nothing specific. It just fits the whole atmosphere of the demo and the title came naturally.

6. As for the vocals, I can say that they are a bit atypical of black metal. Does the progressive element in your music have anything to do with this?

Yes, I like to experiment with my vocals and use different types of it.

7. What’s up next for Neglektum? A full length album or another demo/EP?

For now, we are planning on releasing another demo. That might change with time though, but we already have some material done. The next release will most likely be more evil and brutal than our first demo. It will follow the path of “Needless Suffering” and “Isolation” in terms of sound. It also looks like there won’t be any clean vocals, but you never know until it’s all finished.

8. In my experience, a lot of unsigned bands have very extensive music collections. Is this the case with you guys?

Not really. None of us has an extensive music collection, but we do like a lot different bands and genres.

9. Do you ever do live shows? If not, do you ever plan to, or are you strictly a studio band?

We did a few live shows before we started recording the demo. We are also very eager to start doing it again, but we need more practice. Since our former drummer left, Isedor has taken over the drumming and we still have to play more before we are ready for gigs.

10. One of the notable moments for me was the solo in “Needless Suffering”. Do you just play off the top of your head, or do you sit down and take hours composing a solo, or a fusion of both?

That solo is very inspired by Immolation. Some parts were composed before, but most of that solo is actually improvised. I later had to literally listen to my own solo again (this version was done on a previous version of the song) and learn the parts that had been improvised as I didn’t know how to play them. I wanted that version specifically, because I thought it fit well. The solo on “Isolation” is also mostly improvised.

11. Sweden has one of the largest and greatest metal scenes in the world right now. Are you guys friends with many of the bands out there, IE Meshuggah, Scar Symmetry?

No, but we do like a lot of Swedish metal bands. We are not friends with these successful groups, and the metal scene on our city isn’t that big either, unfortunately.

12. Some of the vocal lines are belted out so powerfully, I can feel the anguish in the voice. What are the typical themes that drive your music?

Depression, anger, anxiety and hate. We are all very inspired by the climate here. Especially on winter since that period is very cold and dark most of the time.

13. How are you getting your music out into the world? Do you go amongst friends and such and sell it to them, along with your Myspace, or are you searching for a small label?

It’s mostly by our page on myspace. We do spread it to our close friends, but most of the copies have actually gone to people that for us are completely unknown. We’ve had buyers from the US, the UK, Norway and Sweden so far. We are very pleased by the response we’ve had up until now.

14. I notice that you don’t have a bass player. Do you ever plan on picking one up?

We do have a bass player. Isedor was our bass player until Fredrik quit and he took over the drums. He now does both, but we are looking for a bass player so that we can play live further on.

15. Best of luck to you, Neglektum. One last question. Who writes most of the lyrics for the band? Or do you all contribute equally?

Thank you. So far I’ve been the only one who writes the lyrics.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Before I begin, let me say that Meshuggah is very difficult to get into. With their extremely low tunings, odd time signatures, and monotone screamed vocals, Meshuggah goes where no other band has gone before, often using new instruments (8-string Ibanez guitars) and new recording techniques (The Drumkit From Hell program) in the process. That being said, this album is so amazing, so esoteric, and so bloodily heavy, it is worth a listen for even the diehard haters of technical post thrash.

Nothing was a breakthrough album for Meshuggah, for this was the album that they first started to use their 8-string guitars. The production of these 8-strings, being downtuned to F#, should be horrible, right? Wrong. They have the strangest tone on this planet, and the crystal clear production allows the listener to hear every riff, every tremolo pick, every shift in pitch of the 2 dualing guitarists. With their unique, almost twangy sound, Nothing draws you in from the first track to the final track, Obsidian. The riffs do tend to sound repetitive, but not in a bad way. After another run through through the album, you can hear the subtle variations in riffing. The bass follows the guitarists perfectly, and adds to the overall heaviness.

Ahh, the infamous Tomas Haake. One of the most loved and the most hated drummers in existance. With his recent high-octane performance on "Bleed" from the album "obZen", I decided to come back to this album to see how he did. I had some doubts about the drumming, because he used a drum machine for this album. Boy was I ever wrong. His polyrhythms tear through every song on this album, most notably "Spasm", "Perpetual Black Second" and "Straws Pulled At Random". The most surprising point about his drumming is the fact that he can play in odd time signatures such as 23/16, yet his hihat/snare patterns remain rock solid in 4/4. Excellent work on Mr. Haake's part.

And last, but certainly not least, the vocals. I'm not gonna lie, Jens Kidman is no Christian Alvestam when it comes to vocals. But his monotone screams fit the music perfectly. One notable moment, however, is Tomas Haake's vocals in "Spasm". Laced with a phaser effect, they will make even the darkest metalhead shiver.

This album is a slice of excellence, showing what is to come in Meshuggah's future. Buy this, download this, get it somehow. It is amazing beyond belief.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Perpetual Nightmare-The Final Solution-72%

At last, a promising band from my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. As stated on their myspace, Perpetual Nightmare is a death/thrash metal band. But unfortunately for them, the quality of the EP "The Final Solution" has lessened the impact of their music on me. I'm going to do a track by track review for this one, since it only has 3 tracks.

First off, "Shadows of Existence". Arguably the catchiest song on the album, Nightmare surges forward with their twin riffing attack. Dan Hogan's shouted/screamed vocals of "A darkened enmity blackens my soul, thoughts of nothing warm, they've all turned cold" combined with the catchy as hell chorus riff, which piqued my interest immediately. And that's where I lost track a little bit. They go into a breakdown of sorts, not your typical chug chug of deathcore, but a thrashy one that will throw you for a loop if you're not used to it. After that, they go back to the catchy chorus riff. The solos are excellent, especially Hogan's. If they rewrote a little of that song to make it flow better, it could be my favorite off the album.

Next up, "Her Black Abyss". The lyrics are about, well, just what you'd think they would be about. Being a bit more groove oriented, this song is interestingly catchy and heavy. The drums pound through the chorus, with Scot Robertson's double kick drum rolls being the highlight. The riffing is a little standard in this song...until you get to the break. Hogan and Aaron Guzman engage in a string skipping dual guitar battle, which builds until it thunders back into the chorus again. The only part that is annoying is the intro, which doesn't do anything at all for the song.

And lastly, the title track of this EP. It starts off with a nice clean, eerie guitar intro. Unfortunately, one guitarist decided to go into the distorted part too early, and it sounds off. After they get their act together, the guitars propel the song into a nice thrashy riff right away. Another notible point is Robertson's double kicks, which thunder through the verse at a breakneck speed. Plenty of tempo changes to satisfy the technical fans, too. And lastly, Hogan's sweep outro is pleasantly surprising and brutal.

Unfortunately, what really kills this release is the production. The drums sound overly triggered and programmed. The guitars sound thin and lack the power of a typical death/thrash release. The bass is non-existent. And the vocals have a very annoying chorus/phaser effect that makes Hogan's normally good shrieks almost unbearable.

Overall, if you want to get a feel for this band, you should pick up this release. It delivers what it claims to: heaviness, brutality, metal. But if you really want to know who they are, see them in concert. They really are just that good.

Everwhere-Black Dawn-89%

When I first came upon Everwhere, I was on a search for the heaviest thrash I could find. I found these guys, and after contacting one of the members, I received a high quality recording of the new EP, Black Dawn.

First of all, for all thrash fans out there, these vocals are atypical of thrash. Blomquist's vocals are very unique. The only way to describe them is a cross between Miland Petrozza from Kreator and Petri Lindroos from Norther. He puts a lot of emotion into his vocals, as seen in the song "Awake". Though compared to Petrozza, he never resorts to straight up shouting, instead keeping his vocals harsh enough to satisfy most death metal fans, yet loud and hate filled enough to satisfy most hardcore thrashers.

The guitars are what you'd expect in a thrash metal release-heavy, distorted to hell and back, blisteringly fast and technical solos. However, the riffs in and of themselves, while being unique and heavy, were not as fast as I would have liked. Still, the guitarists show their skill in all songs, but most notibly the solo in "Claustrophobic".

The bass is...wait for it...actually audible! Most of Jherry Karlsson's basslines follow the guitars, which works well, and adds to the heaviness. I would like to see him stand out a bit more in the next record, but, hey, it works. One of his most notible parts is his solo on "Two-Face".

Mika Määttä is actually quite good. His double kick drum rolls can be heard over everything else, and he shows his skill, but unfortunately, I don't believe he was playing to the top of his ability. His drumming did stand out in a number of places, such as the beginning and end of the title track, and his quick feet on "Two-Face".

Overall, this is a fairly good and solid record. It makes you want to start a mosh pit on the spot and wonder why your stereo won't go any louder. I'm looking forward to further releases from this up and coming thrash band.