Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand’

Abrasive Audio – An interview with Beltane

Beltane_Logo

Greetings and welcome to another installment in the Interview series. In this installment I find myself chatting with an act from out of New Zealand. Recently I covered a Slayer tribute compilation, within it were a few tracks which really caught my attention and amidst those one which grabbed me with such force I had to put digit to keyboard in order to learn more about the band behind the recording.  May I present Beltane in their own words…

Where/when did the idea of forming a band come about, when did Beltane come into existence?

darkthrone_a_blaze_in_the_northern_sky

Arguably one of the most important BM albums of 1992

I was introduced to Black Metal in 1991, got really into it in 1992. I was already playing in quite a successful NZ Death Metal band at the time, but started writing my own Black Metal material at the beginning of 1993 and decided upon the project name of ‘Beltane’.

Not too much came of this until the 28th of October 1994 when I recorded the first Beltane track – “Into the Night” – as a solo effort on a flatmate’s (room-mate) Amstrad four track stereo system. I played all the instruments myself, including the drums. I certainly am not a drummer but for the track I played it was OK. I distributed this song around the local Nelsonian scene by dubbing it on the end of Burzum and other bands that I traded with people.

St Vincent Street Hoard

It happened here.

By the end of that year it had evolved into an actual three-piece band and it was this lineup that recorded the “Rehearsal April 1995” demo in the hallway of the St Vincent Street Horde direct to cassette. 

The lineup dissolved in 1996 and Beltane became a project again and as such it has had a number of evolutions over the years, but has never returned to being a purely solo project.

Any reason in particular for the Beltane moniker?

Totally. I was (and still am) very much into the occult and paganism. I had one of those Lewellyn Press “Witchcraft” books and learned about the Celtic Cross Quarter days, and that Beltane or Beltaine was considered to be on April 30th, which is my Anniversary of Born’d Day. It is also known as Walpurgisnacht, and the day Anton LaVey officially formed the Church of Satan in 1966.

Later on, I learned that these Cross Quarter Days do not directly apply to the Southern Hemisphere as they relate to the Seasons and have to be reversed down here. I also then further learnt that these days that many consider as fixed are not fixed at all. So that actually puts the Day of Beltaine around November 6th in the Southern Hemisphere.

However, the more I learned about this the more it became integral to the project, just as it became more integral to my lifestyle. Which leads on nicely to the next question.

Is there anything which makes Beltane stand apart from other bands in much the same genre?  

Nelson in New Zealand

Many things I believe.

Although, to begin with maybe the only real point of difference is that we were from Nelson, New Zealand. And the beginning of what was for a time the largest and most committed Black Metal scene in NZ. Other centres had great metal scenes but they tended to be either Death Metal or Grindcore during this period. The Nelsonian scene was unique in that it fully embraced Black Metal. It also had a good supply of LSD as the EDM Trance scene was big in this region at the same time. That helped.

Later on though, when things started to evolve I didn’t see any limits to the kind of sounds I might explore with the project, which is something that the original Norwegian bands did, but then that fell away and now it’s all cookie cutter “raw” Black Metal etc.

After Dyrkyn, our original drummer, departed we never really had a permanent drummer on board again. Which opened up massive possibilities to work with sampled drums, loops and drum machines. Then with the advent of the internet, different drummers and drum programmers all around the world. The nost notable of these would be The Ineffable Mark Dubanowski, who we started working with in 2009, and still he does stuff for us on occasion.

Summer-Solstice-Live-'04

Also, location recording in forests, cemeteries etc became very important. At times becoming the main activity of the band rather than playing live and doing what “normal” bands do. By no means are we the only Black Metal project to have recorded in a forest etc. Yet, because of the frequent occasions that we indulge in this type of activity and the systematic way it is approached, I think sets it us apart in this regard.

In December 2004, on the Day of the Summer Solstice, Beltane began something we have done ever since. Recording on the Cardinal Seasonal & Cross Quarter Days. This is something that no other band or project in the world has achieved.

How would you describe your sound, are there any major influences you cite for your arrangements and/or style. Or themes which you feel are important within your work?

Mainly Black Metal, but with deviations into other styles and (mainly metal) genres, most notably Industrial. But always with a distinct Black Metal production style. The general idea here being to “capture a lo-fi sound in a hi-fi envelope” if you get what I am saying? So, production is a very deliberate part of the sound.

beltane in a slayer tribute comp

The track in question resides here.

I think that our cover of Angel of Death showcases that. I mean, we didn’t do anything massively different with how we played the song, pretty much kept close to Slayer. How it was produced gave it the “Beltane Sound”.

As for themes, the main thing is atmosphere, with a lot of pagan references. Not so much to particular belief systems, but to the overall essence of it all. And always in a search to find the magick-in-the-real. A secondary theme that has become more common over the past decade would be anti-globalist messages, which is something we feel strongly about. We made an entire album based on this called ‘Democide’, which essentially means death by government.

Do you currently have any favorite artists/albums you might wish to share?

Impaled Nazarene

The Nihil LP

Of all time, my favourite artists are Morbid Angel and Celtic Frost, and definitely much of the early Norwegian and Finnish Black Metal, such as Mayhem, Burzum from that side and Beherit and Impaled Nazarene from the other. And I must point out that I like all the experimental releases from Beherit and Morbid Angel too, including the much hated “I” album. Plus, I dig “Cold Lake” from ‘Frost, which Tom G Warrior would probably be upset about. Lol.

Naturally, I also like a lot of Thrash Metal, and certainly Traditional Heavy Metal & Hard Rock. Not so keen on Nu-Metal though, and (modern) Power Metal only in very small doses!

However, I enjoy many different genres of music including EDM, selected fem-pop, classical, selected rock’n’roll etc. And lately have even been tuning into the occasional country LPFM station when out and about! Some of this open-mindedness has come about more in recent times due to being the manager and main DJ of a community radio station. But I can tell you, metal is very well represented on there!

Maelific by Design “Definitive Indication of Supremacy”

In case you were curious, I know I am

As for a recommendation of something current. I rather enjoy the album from Finnish band Maelific by Design “Definitive Indication of Supremacy”. One of the guys from it, Ville the guitarist sent, me a CD copy of it. Which of course captured my attention much more, than it might have otherwise.

The thing is, with the way things are today with the internet so much awesome stuff comes down the pike it becomes a bit of a blur. I probably have dozens if not scores of great albums sitting around as ZIP files that I have been sent.  In the old days, obtaining new content was such a slow process you had the time to enjoy and really get to know what you obtained before something new came along.

I know some people try to do that now by taking a stance something like: “I only listen to pressed CDs or cassettes, vinyl etc”. However, I reckon that is not really an organic attitude in this day and age – it’s somewhat forced and maybe just a little poseury.

Nevertheless, I still feel there is something special about listening to music from analogue sources such as vinyl or cassette or even uncompressed 16bit 44.1 KHz digital audio that is converted by the electronics in a CD player, rather than an Mp3 that is decoded by a computer or smartphone.

How did your contribution to the Antichrist/Grand Sounds Slayer Tribute come about (did you get to choose the track)? I’ve heard rumor you had a ‘little help’ in the vocal department. Can you tell us a little more?

Well, I had been in contract with Olecks for some time and Beltane had actually taken part on two consecutive earlier tribute compilations (Death & W.A.S.P.) and weren’t sure if we should put our hand up for the next one…maybe it was feeling a little “piggy”? Lol But when he announced it was Slayer, we couldn’t really turn that down!

slayer angel of death single art

With the tracks on these compilations, it’s first come first served and we were in fairly promptly, but a lot of bands had already chosen. However, Angel of Death is the song we wanted to do and no one else had dared touch it. I think I know why, because it’s a cunt of a song! To explain: It’s rather fast so a little tricky to learn, and it IS one of those Slayer tracks that you had better get right or else! So in many ways it was a risk to choose it.

My 12-year-old son – Vikaroth (or Vikey) – did the vocals on the track. All of them. It’s not his debut on doing vocals with Beltane. He recorded a version of Countess Bathory a year or two ago amoungst other things. And has clearly shown he has talent at the vocals. I think he did a killer job and his part is a major contributor to the impact of our version I believe. It could well be that Beltane is turning into a Black Metal version of the Partridge Family. haha

Where else might inquiring minds be able to sample your work?

The largest body of work available for legit free download is on our Reverbnation Page www.reverbnation.com/beltane Hey, we got a decent URL for that one! In early! It’s still the place where I will first post new “net drop” single releases. But as far as supporting us and purchasing compleat albums etc, that would be from the label I run – Satanica.org – or directly from Beltane’s old-school Angelfire site http://www.angelfire.com/band2/beltane

(not such a convenient URL!) if you can dodge the barrage of pop-up advertisements that now exist there.

I feel I just ask, as I write for a gaming zine (of sorts), do you have any history of enjoying Tabletop RPGs (Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, Etc)?

christians warn DnD

Guess they have a problem with anything that’s “fun”

When I was young, I was very much into Dungeons & Dragons, mainly the basic game. I got into it again in my twenties with a group who mainly played Rune Quest. And would probably do it again if a group started around here. My friend Owen was considering starting a group a couple of years ago, but nothing became of it. I would like to investigate Varg Vikernes’ game at some stage.

The Christians always used to say that D&D leads people into the occult. Well, in my case it certainly did. Lol.

What might the members of Beltane be doing when they aren’t creating, composing or playing? 

Since the core lineup of the project currently consists of me and my partner Baphgirl, a lot of time is taken up with domestic stuff. And we live an off-grid lifestyle so there are chores to be done! But my main “gig” currently is running Radio Foxton, and DJ work on there and some live stuff. And of course, the label, but that’s really a little underground affair. Although it did keep me from answering this interview sooner as it does a small but fairly steady stream of business.

Are reading books or watching movies a part of the bands extra-curricular activities?

Baphy reads lots of books. Both physical ones and e-books on her tablet. I find I just haven’t had the time to really get into a decent book for quite a while. So, I read magazines, mainly vintage ones on electronics, which is another one of my interests. We don’t have network television at home, nor any sort of internet version of it such as Netflix. However, we do settle down of an evening to “watch the telly”. Often stuff from BitChute etc.

V gif

Poor lil fuzzy bugga

Lately we have been watching the 1980’s Sci-fi series “V”. It has some strange resonances to what is going on in the world right now, while still being a useful distraction from it.

What does the horizon hold for the band, are there any plans for future releases?

Well, after we started doing our Seasonal Recordings on the Summer Solstice of 2004 we also started a Seasonal Release Program. This was quite ambitious, releasing an EP every Season, so four per year. This later evolved into an EP per Season or a full-length album every two Seasons.

Eventually, this became grueling but it did push us to get a lot of material out there. We finished a decade of doing this with a “Best Ov”, which featured some new versions of older songs, which was recorded in the Spring of 2014, on the Vernal Equinox and the Day of Beltaine. It was then time to take a break from this. Ten years of a constant release schedule was a good enough achievement I reckon.

beltane pic

Beltane basking in the Sun

Since then, we haven’t released an album or EP, although the recording on the Seasonal Days continues as I mentioned earlier. So, an album is definitely due, but no really solid plans as to when this might be. However, there are a couple of tracks that are nearly finished that we really want to release on the internets soon, so look out for those.

http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/artist/beltane(new-zealand)

(The Beltane discography)

That’s about it. Huge thanks again for allowing me to send over a few (ha) Q’s your way. Is there anything you want to say in closing or anything you wish to promote?

Really, in regards to Beltane that main thing is check our Reverbnation Page out over the next couple of months, for those new tracks I was speaking about. And do consider supporting our work by purchasing a physical release. We don’t have Patreon nor sell “digital” material online – all that stuff is free.

satanica org

We are always looking for new deep-underground bands to release on Satanica.org and we have a very unique and rather decent deal there for any projects that wish to get involved. It’s not a label for those who think they are rockstars! Rather, it’s a way for small projects to have an outlet, that is more than merely posting a track to Mixcloud or something.

And of course, there is the radio thing too. I do live metal shows every fortnight on Radio Foxton 105.4FM on Friday Nights (20.00h NZ time), and replays of these can be heard every week night at 22.00h (NZ time).  The stream address is:

https://radiofoxton.radiostream321.com/

Bands are welcome to send tracks to be included in the show. Everything that is sent will get played. Mp3 submissions are fine, but it is an advantage to send me something physical such as any CD format or cassette etc, as this tends to result in ongoing coverage of a band. That’s mainly due to the way I select material for a show – it is more intuitive to rummage through a stack of physical releases than to hunt through files on a computer!

Cheers for the interview, and glad you enjoyed our Slayer cover!

Have a good one! Hailz, Xan.

 

Cult

Musing for a Minute on Metal (part the second)

Well, the first went down without complaint, so what say we try this again?

stopwatch

This installment sees Drew and myself pass judgement, yet again, on a release with only one solitary minute being played. Naturally one can’t really get a taste for an album from the first minute alone. With this in mind Drew and myself will also tackle separate tracks with the same premise in mind. Is it possible to get an accurate representation of an album from its first minute? Perhaps not, but we’ll have a blast trying.

As is the tradition with reviews of this type (huh, this is only the second one!) and much in the same way I tackle the Attack of the Compilation pieces I’ve devised a cunning rating scheme for this (exact) purpose.

the one minute review confused header

Nope, I’m still perplexed

Worst/Avoid this like the proverbial plague – I’d rather spin a vintage Judas Priest album backwards in an insane asylum but not before letting the inmates loose and arming them with bendy straws and plastic sporks.

Ugh – This is like that one jug of milk in the fridge which you can’t for the life of you decide whether it has an odor or not (the date is indecipherable), it’s best not to drink it and you won’t if you have an alternate nearby.

Has Potential – There’s a certain something which elevates this above ignorable. It’s not great but, with a little work, future efforts could well be. “Mmm, suck you do not. Potential you have” in my finest Yoda voice (which isn’t that good).

Impressive – There’s no doubt about it, like a train full of hardened criminals (rapists, murderers, politicians) careening off the tracks into the gaping maw of a smoldering volcano, this is going places (whatever that means!)

Fuck me, this is Good! – Like finding a $50 note on the ground, stop what you’re doing and grab that shit, before it’s gone!

This week sees us laying our ears on a release from the Unique Leader stable. Straight off the bat I’d assume, based on the ‘traditional’ output from the label, that this is better suited to this style of reviewing. But I’ve been mistaken before (…and often. Just ask the wife!) Without further preamble the second victim is;

Organectomy

Organectomy – Existential Disconnect
(New Zealand)
Release – June/ 21/2019
Unique Leader Records
https://uniqueleaderrecords.bandcamp.com/album/existential-disconnect

However, before I wax poetic and try to describe that which you cannot see, a few words on the accompanying artwork. After all talent deserves recognition whether its audio, art or otherwise (and they call me uncivilized).

Damn, there’s a lot going on. The image here depicts what could be described as a struggle between otherworldly forces. Although no conflict is shown a form is depicted plugged into some device or another in an alien landscape overrun with nature amok (but not the type we might be familiar with) all within a terrain which is utterly foreign and undeniably predatory in nature. A trio (or the otherworld forces) looks on from above in the proverbial heavens). The image screams wear me and has the eye- catching appeal to make others ask who is that band? It’s certainly up there with some of my favorite pieces of the year. If I were to make this short, I would say it’s close to being some kind of hybrid between the art seen on recent Inferi and Inanimate Existence releases. Vivid, bright and detailed an air of fantastical seethes from its every pixel. Before I get carried away and traipse deliriously into diatribe-ville a few words on how we’ll approach this release and no special attention based on it originating from the birthplace of my favorite director (Peter Jackson and New Zealand) either.

First off, the introduction/otherwise known as the First Track; Severed from Humanity

drew infared avi

Drews Thoughts – An album that gets right to the Goddamn point. No sound effects, chimes, eerie piano solos, or soliloquy’s to be had here. It hits right out the gate and hits hard. Brutal death style in all manners of production particularly in the vocal department.  Just going off the first minute establishes what this album has to behold and where I’m guessing it’s going to stay. This type of band isn’t one to switch gears and grind to a disappointing slowdown as too often many do. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and rate this with a nice Fuck me, this good!

This album was also released on my birthday, so it’s got that going for it.

Here’s hopping to the next track.

My Thoughts –

Within the first second alone I’m impressed. Who I can only assume is the vocalist can be heard clearing his throat then taking a breath readying for his part in what’s to follow. Then the audio kicks in. Fast, intricate and technical a brutal death/slam style incorporating a tsunamic cavalcade of notes, rhythm changes and a myriad of riffs. Then there’s the drumming. Precise, on point and force of pissed off nature in its intensity. Undeniable chops in the production department takes the sound to another level entirely, unlike many other similar albums in the same genre (based on that which I can only assume thus far in) every instruments role and part in the overall audio combination is crisp and clear making for audio which is pristine. And, wait for it I’m damn impressed even though I’m not usually a fan of the slam genre there’s something about this (even a minute in) that I have a fondness for. I’m going to put the boat before the deluge here and say Fuck me, this is Good!

The Final Track (Drew’s Thoughts on); The Infinite Witness

I chose this track simply because it was the last one and wanted to see how this whole thing held up. It starts out much the same as the first track maintaining straight up destruction of all guitars, drums, and vocal cords for the foreseeable future. It’s not quite the same pace but still a familiar one nonetheless. This is death metal. Nothing more and nothing less. And for this reason alone, it still impressive as all hell for me. In a display of just pure stubbornness, I’m sticking to my guns with this one and holding steady at Fuck Me, this is Good! Just by the fact I want to hear more. Which is exactly what I am going to do now with no listening constraints placed up me.

Track Five (My Thoughts on); Claustrophobic Intent

I’m going into this with a little bias if truth be told, my experience of the first track has left me eager for more of the same. I’m intrigued to put it mildly. Stabbing “springy” riffs start this track off, a more relaxed paced than the track heard before, a tad djent in nature (think Meshuggah). The ‘jump up and down’ style changes with the addition of melody of sorts and guttural vocals (is it just me or is there a playful edge to them?). Galloping riffs join the fray and the track has taken on a brutal death slam style albeit slower than previously heard, add a spot of technicality some guitar techniques which make screeching noises, a break which is sure to plummet the track into absolute chaos (if only for a few seconds) and you have a track which isn’t quite as intriguing as the first (need I say IMO?) the drums aren’t as prominent here, the style isn’t as frenetic, but it still holds the interest and promises fretboard shenanigans and blistering insanity on the menu in the foreseeable future.

ingested album art

Insane art for the Ingested release entitled “The Architect…”

I’ve downgraded my initial assessment to Impressive. My intrigue is perked the vocals and drumming are especially impressive and there’s something about the style (detectable within even the merest of submergement) which screams decidedly ‘not just slam’. Much like my initial experience with a similar band (again I’m making an assumption here, as I’ve not heard this all the way through) in the form of (Britain’s) Ingested, I’m left wanting more!

 

Well there you have it, another entry in the books. Feel free to tell me what you think. If you’ve heard the album in its entirety how does it compare with our assessments? Is it better, worse, is it worth a complete listen, three, six? A purchase and placement in the amassed audio library? Who should we cover as a future “victim”?

Until next our paths of audio interest meet,

Cult