Thursday, 30 August 2012

ENSLAVED: Interview Part I

So I have been sitting on my "RIITIIR" review for quite some time now: Nuclear Blast asks kindly not to publish it yet, and I shall oblige, as sneaking it out would ultimately mean to disrespect the band. But I am also entirely guilty of holding onto this interview with Ivar for 8 months (!): well our chat was so interesting that I wanted to save it all for a special occasion, and this is definitely it!
In these long 8 months a lot of things happened: Ivar had a lovely daughter; the band toured again (do they ever stop?! thankfully not...), played summer festivals and done a lot of promotion for this new album. It is a SENSATIONAL album, believe me... But for the moment, I shall build up to the publishing of the review on Monday 10th September by giving you Ivar's thoughts on Enslaved, life, art and the new songs in two parts. 
Part I is the face to face interview I conducted in December 2011 during "Madrid is the Dark III" fest.
Part II is the one hour long telephone chat we had a couple of days ago.
Both turned out to be rather in-depth and very interesting. Hope you enjoy!

ENSLAVED: Interview Part I

Do people celebrate Christmas in Norway? 
Yeah, we do actually, just like with Halloween: our lives are getting more and more Americanized…

Exactly! People like to have big light displays in their houses and all the rest. So, yes, it’s a normal Christmas I guess, but more and more people, especially the younger generations, are turning their backs to this phony side of the tradition, going back to just exchanging presents and have a nice day with the family. On the other hand, if you don’t have a family, or if you want to boycott Christmas altogether, you just go to the pub, and there you will find a lot of people who think the same as you. a lot of my friends do that: you just drink and listen to some metal or whatever…

In the UK I used to be bombarded with the Xmas adverts and the whole charade as early as late October, it was awful! Now I live in the south of Spain and, oddly, I don’t even know it’s that time of the year…
That’s great!

Do you have kids Ivar?
Well I am waiting for my first daughter who should arrive very soon actually…

Aw, you must be over the moon! Is she going to be spoilt with presents at Christmas or is she going to be brought up as a rebel?
I guess both: we can spoil her but she can still be a rebel!!!

You have been celebrating your 20 Years in BM, which is fantastic. I bought your split with emperor back in 1993 and I have been following you since, so huge congratulations for what you have achieved.
Oh, really? Well thank you!!!

When we got into Norwegian black metal it all looked so exotic: Norway was not really on the map either as far as music is concerned or even as a tourist hot-spot back then, so we imagined this incredibly cold, unspoilt place full of mystery, and it soon turned into a fascinating mythical place… What was it like to be there at the time? You were so young…
It was a mix of insanely “normal” and very “exotic” as you say. For me it was always just about the music, as I was a bit too young to get into the satanic ideologies and so on. We never got into that, although this side of things was experienced very intensely by some people. I discovered this style in 1989 when I was 12 years old, then I got into the scene by starting the band: all the bands we were friends with were producing this amazing new music… so every week you’d get something through the letter box, like the pre-production Emperor demo-tape, then you’d hear some new music from Dark Throne on cassette, and so on. For me personally, the most important bands were Mayhem and Dark Throne. When I heard their albums it was the same as, I guess, what religious people describe as revelation: I was sitting at home thinking, wow, this is a new world and I was to be part of it. So yes, it was incredibly exciting… but at the same time it was a bit alienating when you started to travel: you know, at the time there was no facebook or stuff like that, so we did not know how much the imagination of our fans abroad had started to create a different level of pathos around our music and out Country. We would travel to Eastern Europe, Southern Europe and even America, and we would hear all these stories and rumors which would actually leave speechless. We know the truth, of course, and there were cases where some people had taken it very far, but when we were hearing it re-told, it was a bit shocking because we knew that in reality the scene was a lot more “normal” than people liked to think. There was often a lot of rational thought behind these events, so some were into Church-burning because of their ideology, but in some cases it was just pure vandalism. It was a mix of the two. The Norwegian media of course wanted to turn it into something else: I do not accept it when they try to label these acts as terrorism because it were not aimed at people but at symbols… It was very strange to be there and it still feels strange today, remembering it.

As you mentioned, you have been traveling so much during these two decades, and have met many bands. What is your perspective on BM today, how do you view the fact that it has become such a multifaceted genre?
I think it is still a very interesting kind of music, but I understand why so many friends, even some guys in the band, have given up on it. There is so much shit around to be honest, and some if it is pure sensationalism. Commercially speaking, today if you put the black metal label onto a product it’s almost like having a tattoo on your face: you want people to be scared of you or whatever, you know? There are too many bands like that around who don’t really have any talent, so they add all this drama… The only difference for me is that up to the early ‘90s, if I got 10 new albums, 8 or 9 were going to be great; now if I get a100, 9 or 10 are going to be great. But I still have a lot of desire to discover good new bands.

You have inspired great bands like Negura Bunget for example, but also you have had the chance to tour with bands like Alcest, which have a different sensibility: do you still take pleasure in watching/listening to other bands?
We toured with Negura Bunget, we enjoyed it very much! And Alcest were actually one of those bands that everybody kept telling me to check out, then one day we got to tour together and the first night I watched them on stage and I was blown away! Now I’ve got all their albums and I am a new fan…

You are still very young, but you have already spawned a lot of “grandchildren” in the BM field!
Well I certainly do not feel like a granddad yet, or even like a young father, because a lot of these guys are actually older than me… It is certainly surprising and a great honor that really good bands mention your name as being an inspiration, like with Negura Bunget, whom I have admired for so long… It still feels incredible that one day I sat making music in my little room, and then you meet someone from the other side of the world who tell you how it really meant something for them.

People respect you and find Enslaved inspirational because you were the first to open up the doors of BM to more progressive influences. You have an experimental outlook in writing music, which means you will not be satisfied with repeating the same formulas: do you have a method in your exploration? Are you able to compose while on tour?
It has happened, of course, but it is not a typical situation. I need to sit down especially to write music, finding myself in a time-space where I can be physically automated; that’s when I can work. I can set aside a week here and another there and just do that. Sometimes I just go away, but I can work in a normal day-to-day situation too, as soon as I can be in the zone where my mind is focused. The tools have been getting better… Before it was pen and paper, then it was with a recorder and now I have a phone with a program where I can write notes on, so actually it is a process that is becoming possible in any situation.

How do you deal with the relationship between technology and the effort of keeping it real and organic, which both are integral parts of Enslaved’s music?
I think we have a healthy relationship with technology: although we like to use it, we are never dependent on it in the sense that anything we do is done through the use of technology, but it can also be done without. We don’t have preconceptions: if we feel that something would sound nice with 10 layers of guitar, we do that. If we want to reproduce that sound on stage it’s not a problem: maybe we can ask a guest to play, or something like that. In the recording studio the use of the computer helps, but I feel that we would still be a very good band even without the aid of the technology.

When you record your music, do you start with a basic idea then keep building on it, or conversely do you start with a grand idea and then you work on weeding it down to make it more orderly?
Good question! It is definitely the first type of process you mention: we have a method in out composing and arrangement that leaves it open to growth. To put it simply: we have the idea, which we build on in our rehearsal space, then we take it further in the recording studio and subsequently live. So the songs, if they do not necessarily reach a higher level, they certainly reach a broader level during the live sets.
Speaking in architectural terms, the idea and rehearsal of a song is like the planning of a house, the recording is the physical house, and the live recording is the home with finally people in it.

What do you listen to and find inspirational?
As well as listening from music form the past, I try to dig out new things all the time. I listen to all kinds of music, anything that is powerful enough to draws me away from that sense of everyday normality. When I discovered that it was not about a certain sound but actually about a certain feeling, it all became much more interesting. so I don’t just listen to prog – every metaller these days listens to that of course – but I also listen to a lot of electronica and classical music (when you go past Wagner and the usual tough guys, you discover there is a lot of great stuff there), anything that can be very emotional. Actually, for me another big discovery was contemporary classical and noise art, like Stockhausen, some Japanese artists and some Norwegian jazz musicians we have worked with… I didn’t really get it until a saw a few concerts. Well, I don’t know whether I got it or not, but at least for me it was an experience: I found it really wild and intense. I imagine that it’s a similar sensation that an admirer of classical painting must feel when faced by abstract painting: it doesn’t look like anything, but it’s so stimulating that you start seeing your own thoughts in it… That’s what happened to me with the noise art: I had no idea of what happened there, by it made me connect with some episodes of my own life and so on. It feels like a really strong mind massage haha…

So what other kinds of art do you enjoy, you mentioned painting…
Oh yeah, I like a lot of the new stuff… Contemporary performance is something I have enjoyed quite a lot. When you realized it is ok to laugh, because it sometimes looks ridiculous, once I got past that I really got into it. It is part of the experience, I guess… you see one guy in a room wearing weird clothes and pissing himself in the midst of a bunch of symbolic artifacts or whatever: if you allow yourself not to think so much of what’s going on but instead you interpret your own senses, new stuff starts to happen. But my absolute favorite is installation art…

Yeah? It’s something I’m very close to myself.
Wow, that’s great! Every time we go to the US, we especially love to visit the Guggenheim. Me and the singer love to spend time in there wandering through the different rooms with different themes… It’s fantastic!!!

Excellent: I have always connected with your music, but now that I’m aware that you see things in such a way, I am really starting to feel Enslaved in a different way… Exploring life, trying to go beyond what we experience on a superficial level is certainly one of the things that makes it worth living. Talking of exploring creatively, Burzum did a controversial re-working of some of his old songs. Do you ever feel the urge to approach some of your old material?
Actually not. I am fond of the old sound: sometimes it’s sloppy or out of tune, but it’s like a tattoo that captures a particular moment and in later years you can look at it and scratch your head, but it is what it is… So I understand why some people do it, but with my own music there is so much time invested in it that I don’t even want to try as I think I’d run the risk to ruin it.

You strike me as people who like to look into the future anyway…
Oh yes, but we are also very proud of our past! We do feel like explorers, but of the kind who like to talk a lot about previous explorations too… You know, around the campfire!
You have collected a series of awards in recent years, and with your popularity ever increasing, you still manage to keep your feet firmly grounded, and your music really reflects the fact that your egos are not inflated… You are normal people who are really excited about life and passionate about music! Do you consciously try not to “compromise” your artistic integrity?
Of course we do, but to be honest it has worked so well for us that we kind of feel it’s our destiny so to speak. We are all rational, scientifically minded people but sometimes, especially talking with so many people into Satanism who feel like some kind of vessel for those forces, well somehow I kind of relate to that. I do enjoy good old stories, but I don’t believe in all that metaphysical stuff about ghosts, but I understand how people might feel as conduits for subconscious energies that are, I guess, archetypes. Psychologically speaking we all deeply relate to mythological archetypes: in different parts of the world everybody would have dragons embedded in their subconscious, in others it would be the sun or the snow monster… So maybe that’s what makes people connect to something I do, and makes them react to it, and that’s fantastic! And I absolutely love the music, so it is a huge compliment that people relate to it, but I still have a sense that the Music was there to begin and a lot of the material has already something embedded in it that I am only a vehicle for.

So realistically it is impossible for enslaved to change even if they end up being even bigger…
Seeing the people that we are, I believe it’s impossible… but then again you might be watching us on MTV in 5 years time and think “Bunch of twats!”… To be honest I think that some people are hit but the “rockstar syndrome” because they are so insecure within themselves that they cannot handle the fact that they have such positive response: they have some self-esteem issues and they feel they have to live up to that by acting like jerks. Or maybe it is us being so full of ourselves that we think we are too great to make fools of ourselves! At the end of the day, we worked hard, we dedicated our lives to this: people like us? Great! It’s really that simple…

That’s a very balanced outlook you have…
Well that seems normal to us. You see, sometimes you meet these famous rockstars and you get talking: once you go past their exterior aura and begin to talk on a personal level they suddenly become very insecure people, so maybe they do not get why they are where they are… there would be 200 people backstage screaming, wanting a piece of them, but they don’t really relate to that… They live a surreal kind of life.

Do you still enjoy touring so much?
Oh yes! I really enjoy the moments before the concerts when I am a nervous wreck: that’s my favourite moment I think… I am really comfortable with being uncomfortable, and being on stage it’s just like the sublimation of that.

The pre-concert moments are very akin to the excitement and anxiety of the explorer about to set for a journey towards the unknown isn’t it?
Yes, and there’s some kind of psychedelic trip going on… the adrenaline is kicking in!

All sorts of natural chemicals flood the brain…
Absolutely! Sometimes it’s like - Are you sure that was two hours? It felt like two minutes! Those are the best ones: it doesn’t matter if you cannot remember them you just know you have been there!

Well, from my point of view, I feel the same whenever the music is capable to transport me to another place: I find it hard to write accurate live reports because it’s almost impossible to remember anything beside the overwhelming feelings… But you have a gig to play in a little while, so I’m letting you go to enjoy the adrenaline surge!

Friday, 17 August 2012

We free spirits!

Every profound spirit needs a mask; nay, more, around every profound spirit there continually grows a mask, owing to the constantly false, that is to say, SUPERFICIAL interpretation of every word he utters, every step he takes, every sign of life he manifests.
We ARE something else than "libres-penseurs," "liben pensatori" "free-thinkers," and whatever these honest advocates of "modern ideas" like to call themselves. Having been at home, or at least guests, in many realms of the spirit, having escaped again and again from the gloomy, agreeable nooks in which preferences and prejudices, youth, origin, the accident of men and books, or even the weariness of travel seemed to confine us, full of malice against the seductions of dependency which he concealed in honours, money, positions, or exaltation of the senses, grateful even for distress and the vicissitudes of illness, because they always free us from some rule, and its "prejudice," grateful to the God, devil, sheep, and worm in us, inquisitive to a fault, investigators to the point of cruelty, with unhesitating fingers for the intangible, with teeth and stomachs for the most indigestible, ready for any business that requires sagacity and acute senses, ready for every adventure, owing to an excess of "free will", with anterior and posterior souls, into the ultimate intentions of which it is difficult to pry, with foregrounds and backgrounds to the end of which no foot may run, hidden ones under the mantles of light, appropriators, although we resemble heirs and spendthrifts, arrangers and collectors from morning till night, misers of our wealth and our full-crammed drawers, economical in learning and forgetting, inventive in scheming, sometimes proud of tables of categories, sometimes pedants, sometimes night-owls of work even in full day, yea, if necessary, even scarecrows--and it is necessary nowadays, that is to say, inasmuch as we are the born, sworn, jealous friends of SOLITUDE, of our own profoundest midnight and midday solitude--such kind of men are we, we free spirits!

(Beyond Good and Evil – chapter II) F. Nietzsche

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Album Review: An autumn for Crippled Children "Only the Ocean Knows"

Would there be a better suited label for this incredible Dutch project? Hardly! The name A Sad Sadness Song nails the sound of this band: pure melancholia and misery gushing into soaring, overwhelming passion transcending into blazing beauty.
I got to know this band only from their second output, “Everything”. It simply blew me away and became one of my favorites of last year; I then sought out their debut “Lost”, which was equally haunting, although lacked that outstanding elating quality that characterizes the more mature sound.
These musicians keep their identities secretive: vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist MXM apparently plays in a (death?) metal band and, from what I gather, these guys also have families, so we are not dealing with angst-ridden teens. Good news then! Although this music is so sublime and swollen with human passion that I would have loved it just the same had it come from an Albanian geriatric goat herder…
AAfCC’s name choice (once you get used to it) conjures up something unpalatable and unspeakable. Their older song “I beg thee not to spare me” makes me think of the sad times when, seeing a being caught in the inexorable, painful grip of a terminal illness, I thought without guilt: “This is no longer a life worth living”. The right to die with dignity is something we should all be granted by law.
The band writes about personal experiences that have had a strong, negative impact on their lives, so the emotion that imbues their music is palpably real: in his (very spartan) interviews MXM reiterates how sometimes the intensity during the writing process becomes almost unbearable… I can see that; it is certainly easier for us to listen to the finished product after it has been pushed into an abstract dimension and embellished with its airy, majestic layers that transform each and every song into a powerful pair of wings.
This is indeed music that will make a giant rock fly from sheer passion: sweeping yet incredibly melodic aural tales are told by heart-breaking keyboards and blustering/graceful guitars, while the piano adds aching lashings of melancholy which is strangely uplifting. The prominent bass lines feel like a pounding heart carved out of a body, while the desperate - agonizingly so - black metal rasp makes the above magic potion unashamedly decadent. The overall feeling transcends genres, although its dizzying power unquestionably elevates the listener of extreme emotional music to the realm of dark metal. If these guys had ever someone like Liza Gerrard to deal with the vocals, they would have been as emotionally devastating as Puccini with his Madame Butterfly; on the other hand, had they gone for clean male vocals, we would have had Cocteau Twins and New Order jamming with A-Ha. Damn, what a prospect…
 The rock (even brooding pop) influence, especially of the 80s and 90s is very audible, lurking through fluctuating, mysterious dark veils agitated by the perennial rain-swollen Dutch winds. This is why listening to AAfCC is both a strange yet familiar experience glowing with the riches of the past.  There is a  wonderful, reassuring warmth to this stormy music, since their unique way to express the darkest, most desperate human passions, from Everything to this new album, represents the ineffable dichotomy of life: pain/ugliness can be beautiful, that these artists catch this profound vision without sparing anybody’s feelings.
“Only the Ocean Knows” is a poignant and evocative album title, which for some will sound pretentious: this is a critique that artists who want to let themselves go completely in the sea of pure emotion will inevitably face. However, those who value the importance and the bravery that such kind of exploration entails will know that this is simply irrelevant. Passion is just what it is: immense, untamable, and it has to be allowed to gush through freely to capture its honesty to the very last drop. Song titles suggest a melancholy sensibility to the surrounding landscape and weather, like “This garden, These Trees” or “The first snow this year”, but every track, even the most fragile and atmospheric, is always draped in majesty and beauty.
It is the utterly unreal opener, “Past Tense”, which steals the show on a massive scale on this album. Each time I play it I find it hard to believe: it’s certainly one of the most elating dark-wave/dance/black metal tracks I have ever heard! The sweeping tones of the sky-reaching keyboards sound just incredible: cosmic in a completely unknown way… Only the outstanding album “Wish” by Australian electro/BM act Germ has shown me similar glimpses of genius-like brilliance! This raw, radiation-filled, almost alien jewel would have been a masterpiece if the guys had given it a proper epilogue. But it seems that most of their tracks tend to end abruptly and unceremoniously, leaving behind them no trail of debris; instead they evaporate instantly and cruelly like a fragile, ghostly entity hit by the first sun-ray at dawn.
“Past Tense” also seems to represent the ethos of the band, which makes no secret of the fact that it reveres the old classics far more than the contemporary stuff, mentioning old Anathema, My Dying Bride, Emperor and Satyricon as their main influences, as well as a host of different rock stuff.
An album that begins with a glowing blaze in the night-sky reaches a new apex with difficulty, and this is the fate of this new release by the Dutch band.  The rest of the songs do flow beautifully but they will not take you by surprise. This does not mean they will disappoint. They will bleed your soul, barely keeping you afloat from drowning in the stormy waters that the suggestive cover offers as a backdrop to an emotional journey that draws few comparisons (perhaps some Drudkh, albeit in a different kind of way): a metaphorical grey, melancholy ocean made of all the tears from the hurt, the forgotten, the tortured, the unseemly.

Out on 28th September 2012 on A Sad Sadness Song/ATMF.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Album Review: DORDEDUH "Dar De Duh"

I feel a preamble is needed here. Making comparisons is not part of my reviewing style (whilst trying to do an honest critique, I write about emotions first and foremost), so I will disappoint some readers. Not only shall I not measure up Dordeduh’s long anticipated new album with Negura Bunget’s “Virstele Pamintului” but shan’t even fully draw into the picture the much celebrated “Om”. You are free to call this bad or lacking journalism but, after decades of close involvement with music, I am aware of how distasteful it is for the musicians involved to read how “this does or does not sound like so-and-so”. In the case of DDD and NB there was of course the sore matter of a bitter split to consider, and I decided very early on to give them both a chance without preconceived opinions. Even those directly involved might have a different view on that episode as time passes by, so why waste any time on an old private issue when life inexorably flows on, hurt hearts mend, spirits follow freely their own paths? And why should I dissect an album like “Om”, which has indeed become an important part of BM metal history – as long as 6 years ago! - to offer easier access to “Dar De Duh”, even if it is deemed as its legitimate follow up? Because Hupogrammos and Sol Faur have actually spent YEARS over this new album: can you imagine the pressure that fell on their heads?... Not only the fans were expecting a confirmation that the true incarnation of the original NB project were to be found here rather than elsewhere, but they had an actual masterpiece to match to say the least.
So let’s get that issue over and done with quickly.
“Dar De Duh”, in spite of the lengthy time gap from the release of “Om”, IS its undisputed, legitimate heir. Why? Majesty and beauty alone of course are not enough justification: it’s that overwhelming spirit, that mesmerizing feeling and utterly inimitable sound that makes you think: “Yes, this band takes me through the same kind of unique, amazingly powerful, passionate and mysterious path that swept me off my feet so many years ago”. Whatever Hupogrammos and Sol Faur will say in their interviews about being different people from the ones who wrote “Om” (naturally), the fan will still find him/herself immersed in a dimension that feels intensely similar to the beautiful magic of old! If this is all you needed to know, let’s rejoice together and praise the artists, who were undoubtedly involved in a painstakingly meticulous journey.
Have DDD over-worked an album that, like Janus, has two sides, being simultaneously a debut and a follow-up? Let’s see…
There is no question, “Dar De Duh” needs your full on attention: do not even bother if you are hoping to get a quick first impression while doing something else. In order to plunge into its deeply woven heart, you must listen with your eyes closed, letting go of all your thoughts. You will struggle to find a more passionate and dedicated piece of art, and that grants you a powerful and enriching experience.
There are many bands around who try their hardest to convey a feeling of the rich historical layers of their land through their music, and DDD carry on being one of the absolute best at this task. Visiting Transilvania is yet a dream to come true for me, but the work that these artists are producing is vivid and gratifying, a stimulus to anybody’s imagination. If, on top of that, you happen to be a dreamer, well the journey becomes simply breathtaking!
I am leaving all details involving the conceptual work that sustains inextricably the music to my interview with Hupogrammos, soon to be published here. So here is a brief description of how some of the most relevant tracks make me feel.

“Dar De duh” opens up with a real stormer! It might be the track that took my breath away when they played at Aurora Infernalis last year, after a tiresome delayed journey through half of Europe from Timisoara (RO) to Arnhem (NL), but my first live experience of the band was for me an immersive ritual and my attention span dissolved like sugar in a hot brew. “Jind de Tronuri” is epic perfection. It draws you into a dark, mysterious, ancient time-warp, then hits you with the violence of unspeakable forces congregating to fulfill a mission. Welcome back, oh noble riders of the esoteric path, as this is the impact that black metal ought to produce! The deep storm these righteous knights ride through is dense, exalted, black dust swirling up towards the blood-red horizon: whoever dares following them will find their pulse racing and soon become short of breath. Suddenly some light peers through the stygian clouds: in the distance, the base camp welcomes the warriors at last. Let the folk songs and merriment begin… let your tresses down for a short while, as the incredible adventure will begin at dawn! And so, in over a quarter of an hour, the listener has by now landed in a foreign, exotic land that will make him/her captive by the powerful imaginative force of music alone...
“Flacarii” is the start of the adventure proper for me: the flame is ignited and the riders have left. Their quest in not yet clear (lyrics in English please?) but it matters not, as this is your own individual journey to make! The presence of ancient magic is thick in this track. Again, a spellbinding aural rollercoaster that blends golden ambrosia with venomous potions - effortlessly. It is alchemic perfection to the old BM heart, the one that beats with the noblest passion for knowledge and fulfillment. And by the time one gets to “Calea Rotilor de Foc” one feels certain that this intense human journey does hide a tremendously important secret amongst its thick yet smooth folds. Art like this has the power to give you a priceless gift: that of unearthing something precious that lay deeply buried within yourself. And the progressive stream of this splendid track, which often breaths through acoustic murmurs, is the perfect vehicle for such stirring spiritual adventures.
“Pandarul” jumps in forcefully, waking you up from the comforting feeling of having arrived somewhere… It plunges you in uneasily cold waters, it even seems to kind of deride you: foolish is the one who believes to have reached the truth!
“Zuh” and “Cumpact” follow, already known to the fan as they were released as a limited edition single. I admit I was a little disappointed not to find some new compositions in their place, given the long time it took in putting this album together, but these versions are nevertheless fantastic. The clean parts in “Zuh” are astounding, the acoustic guitar shimmering as its strings were made of gold…
In general the unique organic sound that makes Dordeduh’s richly atmospheric pagan black metal so recognizable above hundreds of bands, has become even more mesmerizing and majestic: here is how the folk element truly captures the ancestral spirit that is unmistakably local, but also splendidly and unquestionably universal. In the end this is the secret and the gift of this band: they make our skin crawl, our heart wrench, our spirit fly… because (outstanding musicianship aside) they have searched for their shamanic heart. Something that cannot be found without a hard inner battle against the ego. Hush…… is “Dojana” a warning?
DDD go to the roots of humanity and emerge with their spirits in flames! But don’t be fooled, as they also purposely carry the water of Life... An illuminating album.

Out on 28th September 2012 on Lupus Lounge/Prophecy Productions.

PS: A shorter version of this review is also appearing on



In following/shaping my own Wyrd, it is very fitting that I chose Sunday 12th August 2012 to create this page: on such night until the early hours of Mondaythis year’s Perseids meteor shower blazed through the night skies.

Since I was a small child I had been taught to look up to the night-sky. At elementary school I dreamt of life beyond our planet, some kind of angelic creatures who would come and save us (I was not quite sure what from, but I felt humanity was in some danger), and - as a lone but quite contented child - I wholeheartedly sang along the most beautiful and exciting "alien" I had ever seen, Ziggy Stardust:
"There's a starman waiting in the sky
Hed like to come and meet us
But he thinks he'd blow our minds
There's a starman waiting in the sky
Hes told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it's all worthwhile"

Music had become my link to the cosmos, and in my early teens I fully realized that our inner universe was also hiding some amazing secrets, which I intended to explore. Thanks to my mother's love for Pink Floyd I had started early on a journey into experimental rock music which married to perfection my precocious love for the sciences, but my boundless creativity also had a strong fascination for something more... "dangerous". Discovering extreme music did not come through the usual infatuation for Iron Maiden (I confess, they sounded really silly and awful to me!) but through British hardcore punk, namely Discharge in its earliest incarnation: the very band that made the birth of thrash, death and black metal (Venom started soon after them), possible. 

From Pink Floyd to Voivod, from Discharge to Napalm Death and Emperor, everything has always seemed to be moving along the same flow of life and towards the same goal to me... and it still does. My personal "Wyrd" is deeply intertwined with Music and freedom, the two main pillars in my life, and nothing, not even the inexorable passing of time will change that.
You might be familiar with psychologist and author Brian Bates and his renowned work on Anglo-Saxon shamanism. He describes “wyrd” as “the unfolding of our personal destiny” in a non-predetermined way, but rather as active awareness of the deeper unifying forces that interconnect the universe. This is not a concept exclusive to Norse lore (Wyrd is indeed Urd, one of the Norns), but the essence of ancient shamanism worldwide; and today, modern physics of the amazing quantum realm give us a glimpse into such wonders.
So here we have it, the coming together of the profound, uncontaminated spiritual understanding and wisdom of pre-Christian times with the incredible new conquests of scientific knowledge. Too many go through their life without acknowledging the might of Nature, ignoring the existence of a force, yet beyond our cognitive understanding, that is capable – even without a mastermind – to unfold into a cosmos whose unthinkable destructive/creative power spawns countless life forms taking their turn into the cycles of existence.
“Spirituality”, “transcendence” (intended as searching beyond common thought or experience) allow us to “feel”, and in doing so we can grasp the deeper connection with the natural world around and beyond us. Creativity and dreaming are a huge part of the bio-chemical thrust of life as inbuilt, powerful life-saving tools. In our struggle for physical and psychological survival, individually and as a species, we employ our imagination and creativity far more than we need violence. We learn to fly beyond the threshold of reality from the day we come to life. I seek no justification for gods, politics or whatever else in my journey though “the veil of Maya”, it is merely my search for “the other place”. In doing so, I wish for solace, empathy through sharing our deepest natural riches: emotions.