THE SPIRIT – Sounds from the Vortex

While THE SPIRIT hail from Saarbrücken, Germany, they sound like they were born in the metal Mecca of Gothenburg, Sweden.  It’s abundantly clear that DISSECTION are, by far, their main influence.  However, a closer ear can hear influences from other Swedish black/death metal bands such as UNANIMATED and SACRAMENTUM.

A handful of bands have tried to carry the torch left by the legendary DISSECTION, such as THULCANDRA, but none of them have come as close as THE SPIRIT.  On their debut album, Sounds from the Vortex, they essentially wrote the album that could’ve followed Storm of the Light’s Bane, and I do not make that statement haphazardly.

Sounds from the Vortex has the perfect balance of pure ferocity, melody, and, most importantly, that mysterious atmosphere of the classic albums that came out of Sweden in the mid to late 90’s.

Having said all of that, THE SPIRIT should also be praised for the endless prime riffing, instrumental prowess, and tight songwriting. Check out the barrage of ice that hits on the 4:09 mark on “The Clouds of Damnation.” “Cross the Bridge to Eternity” has unique riffing patterns reminiscent of something off of DARK TRANQUILLITY‘s The Mind’s I.

The album’s finishes out as strongly a possible in its final three songs.  Powerful and confident, these songs close out what is one of the best debuts in years.  If THE SPIRIT can replicate this level of excellence on album number two, their ascension is guaranteed. (Nuclear Blast Records)

BMG Announces Acquisition of The End Records

In a surprise move, major label BMG has announced the acquisition of pioneering indie label The End Records.  The acquisition includes the entire back catalogue as well as future releases.  The End Records will continue to operate from its offices in New York.  Check out the press release here.

The label was started out of CEO Andreas Katsambas‘ home in Pasadena and flourished in the early years as a label that pioneered a new scene of eclectic, avant garde metal bands, including AGALLOCHWINDS, and EPOCH OF UNLIGHT.  They also made a name for themselves by becoming the trailblazer in having the best selection of underground metal and rock albums in its online shop.  One did not have to pay $30 for a copy of ARCTURUSLa Masquerade Infernale.  The now industry standard pre-release album packages with a limited edition t-shirt, CD, vinyl, and mp3s was a concept pioneered by Katsambas.

The End Records partnered with many underground European labels such as Black Mark, Osmose Productions, Music for Nations and Listenable Records to provide distribution in North America.  One could finally pick up IMMORTAL‘s At the Heart of Winter at a record store at a domestic price.

Through endless hard work, struggle, and disappointments, Katsambas kept the label alive and greatly expanded the roster to include bands of all genres.  The End Records ceased to be strictly a heavy music label.  The label that was once home to ULVER, DIR EN GREY, and VOIVOD is now home to EVERCLEAR, WANZ, and THE DANDY WARHOLS.

We congratulate Andreas Katsambas and the rest of the staff, past and present, on this milestone!


Underground Gems: CARDINAL SIN – Spiteful Intent EP

Tried and true warriors all know of the greatness of DISSECTION‘s classic, The Somberlain, released in 1993. The album featured guitarist John Zwetsloot‘s skills and knowledge in not only the composition of the songs but also in the classical guitar songs that he played throughout the album. He left the band in 1994 and eventually started CARDINAL SIN.

The band’s sole release, Spiteful Intent, is more or less The Somberlain‘s little brother. Zwetsloot‘s familiar classical guitars, blazing dual guitar melodies, dynamic songs, and a melancholic feel are this release’s bread and butter. The organic, natural production is also a great reminder of that era of Swedish metal. Bass is clear in the mix and the drums do not sound processed.

The only downside is that Spiteful Intent is only an EP – three songs and one acoustic outro. Perhaps, a full length would’ve been great or not so great. We’ll never know. This EP goes for a good amount of money on since it’s been long out of print…a natural result of being released on a small underground label in limited numbers with limited distribution.

As a little tid bit, Zwetsloot tried out for the vacant guitar spot in THE HAUNTED prior to the band giving it to Anders Bjorler.

Here are the first three songs for your listening pleasure:

TRIDENT – World Destruction

Another day, another “supergroup” pops up and tries to catch your attention. Much like the “supergroup” of OV HELL (Shagarath, King, Frost), TRIDENT is comprised of members from excellent and established bands, namely axeman Johan Norman (ex-DISSECTION, SOULREAPER) and vocalist Tobias Sidegård (NECROPHOBIC).

The production of World Destruction is crystal clear, as the album was recorded at Andy LaRocque’s studio, but that fact does little to counteract the mediocrity of the songs. The overused “marching” intro in “The Trident” foreshadows a predictable album. Tracks like “Jaws of Satan” and “Nemesis” contain SOULREAPER/DISSECTION-like riffs, melodies, and blasts, but something is lacking. The songs feel too robotic without any emotion, and “Black Velvet Wings” includes a mid paced, melodic formula which is TRIDENT’s answer to DISSECTION’s “Where Dead Angels Lie.” The middle of the album suffers a bit with its run of the mill songs, and it’s not until the last few songs that World Destruction beings to show promise. The title track is very NECROPHOBIC inspired, with various tempos throughout, and if the entire album was like this, it would be pretty solid. The outro, “Mephisto” has some excellent acoustic guitar work and guitar leads, but the strong showing at the end of the album cannot balance out the overall disappointing output.

TRIDENT has come out of the scene from nowhere, and seems to be gaining ground in popularity because of Norman and Sidegård’s involvement in their previous bands. While the band certainly has capable musicians, their songs lack any enthusiasm or originality, and this style was already perfected and done better by DISSECTION, NECROPHOBIC, SACRAMENTUM, and WATAIN, just to name a few. World Destruction is unfortunately flat in the songwriting department from beginning to end, and certainly is not on par with the bands previously mentioned, who lead the way in the Swedish blackened metal genre. (Regain Records)

NECROPHOBIC, DISSECTION Members Ready to Make Debut with TRIDENT

Swedish black-death heathens TRIDENT will release their debut album, World Destruction, on March 22, 2010 via Regain Records. Three blistering new tracks from the album – “Slaves To Anguish,” “World Destruction” and “Jaws of Satan” – are currently streaming on the band’s official MySpace page.

TRIDENT features a massive roster of professional metal assassins:
Johan Norman (SOUL REAPER, DISSECTION) – rhythm guitar
Ewo Solvelius – lead guitar
Tobias Sidegård (NECROPHOBIC) – vocals
Jonas Blom (GRIEF OF EMERALD) – drums

World Destruction was recorded at Sonic Train Studios in Varberg, Sweden with engineers Andy LaRocque (KING DIAMOND) and Nico Elgstrand (ENTOMBED) and features artwork by Brazilian artist Marcelo Vasco.

GORGOROTH – Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt

After a lengthy legal battle with ex-members over the band name, GORGOROTH leader Infernus has unleashed Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt by recruiting a few well known musicians for this project – vocalist Pest from back in the band, along with Frank Watkins (OBITUARY) and Tomas Asklund (ex-DISSECTION, DARK FUNERAL) to round out this super group of sorts.

Immediately, the dry production of Quantos reminds the listener of DISSECTION‘s Reinkaos album, and a few of the same mundane beats used by Asklund are also featured on the opening track. While Pest’s vocals are quite tormenting and fit the black metal genre perfectly, the bland riffs and stale drumming turns off the listener to this hyped up album. The first few tracks show that the band has lost its edge and power of earlier GORGOROTH material, as witnessed on Antichrist and Pentagram.

A song like “Rebirth” fits Asklund‘s simpler drumming style better and the band can actually write good, slow songs; something that MARDUK has failed to do. “Building A Man” kicks in with an older GORGOROTH feel, which finally brings some life to this album. That is until the next track, “New Breed” – which sounds like a b-side from the Reinkaos sessions. After a few uninspired tracks, Quantos builds some momentum, but it’s too little, too late. “Satan – Prometheus” becomes one of the best tracks on the album, as Asklund finally blasts like he used to with DARK FUNERAL, and Pest shows off his clean vocals, with a much better range than Gaahl. “Introibo ad Alatare Satanas“, a short outro, is an excellent song for all 53 seconds, but leaves the album ending abruptly.

Quantos, like all GORGOROTH albums, are short and to the point, but it seems as if the album is more of a cluster of riffs mixed in a pile, and the arrangement of the songs are a little too haphazardly placed together. GORGOROTH is still living due to the name and reputation, but the music is not as brash and exciting as it once was. (Regain Records)

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DISSECTION Frontman Commits Suicide

DISSECTION frontman Jon Nödtveidt, 31, was found dead from an apparent ritual suicide on Wednesday, August 16th at his apartment in Hässelby, Sweden.

Reports stated that he was surrounded by a ring of lit candles, and had shot himself in the head. Nödtveidt was also said to have sent farewell letters to his father and girlfriend and explained to a friend, “I’m going away for a long, long time. I’m going to Transylvania.”

The surviving members of DISSECTION issued the following statement:

“As rumours have started to spread we feel obliged to confirm Jon Nödtveidt‘s death. Jon Nödtveidt was a man who lived his life according to his convictions and True Will. A couple of days ago he chose to end his life by his own hands. As a true Satanist he led his life in the way he wanted and ended it when he felt that he had fulfilled his self-created destiny. Not everyone will have understanding or acceptance for his personal path in this life and beyond, but all must respect his choice.

“Those of us who have met him in his last days can assure that he was more focussed, happier and stronger than ever. It is our full conviction that he left this world of lies with a scornful laughter, knowing that he had fulfilled everything that he had set up for himself to accomplish. The empty space that he leaves behind will be filled with the dark essence that he manifested through his life and black-magical work. His legacy and Luciferian Fire will live on through those few who truly knew him and appreciated his work for what it really was and still is. As our brother’s goal in life and death never was to ‘Rest in Peace’, we will instead wish him victories in all battles to come, until the Acosmic Destiny has been fulfilled.”

The band recently announced their official disbandment following a small round of farewell shows, and had just released their final album, Reinkaos. Prior to that, Nödveidt served seven years for accessory to murder and possession of an illegal firearm.

More information on his suicide can be found via Swedish media reports:


DISSECTION Cancel North American Tour Dates

Swedish metal pioneers DISSECTION have cancelled their two scheduled appearances in North America. The band had two shows planned in North America this fall:

Sept 1: Los Angeles (USA), House of Blues Sunset Strip
Sept 6: New York City (USA), B.B. King Blues Club

After continued delays via the US Immigration Services, vocalist and guitarist Jon Nödtveidt has been denied legal entry into the United States.

The reason being his previously prison sentence from 1998. The band was supposed to play two stateside concerts, at the House of Blues in Los Angeles on September 1st and the BB King’s in New York on September 6th.

About the shows being cancelled, Nödtveidt states: “We knew from the beginning that there was a risk that I might be denied entry into the US because of my past but we (the band and the agencies involved) were prepared to take that risk. It’s very unfortunate for everybody involved; the fans, the band and its representatives as well as the promoters. I have served my time and we were really looking forward to these final gigs. To our American fans: In spite of everything; see you in spirit! Fuck the Law! Chaos Forever!”