By Mary Spiro (of Metallomusikum)
Marduk and friends played Empire in Springfield, Virginia on February 20. First off, it was grim and frostbitten outside and waiting in line for even two minutes was excruciating. I got in line at about 5:45 and doors did not open until after 6 p.m. Strangely, the first band had already started playing to a practically empty room. Empire, why do you do this stupid shit?
The first group Helgardh are from Bluefield, West Virginia. They performed in full corpse paint and presented very traditional old school style black metal. They sounded solid, especially the vocals, and I would have been happy to have seen their entire set. I didn't notice any merchandise or demos at the merch table. But since they are regional, it's likely I will get another chance to see them.
Next up was Deathwolf from Sweden, founded by Marduk's Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson who plays bass for this group. Musically the group was entertaining but I found the songs uninspired. I felt like I was watching a really competent biker bar band that might appear on an episode of Sons of Anarchy. The vocals were really strong though. Unfortunately, I was just not into the genre they were playing. They did seem to have a small following in the audience.
The Foreshadowing, a gothic metal group from Italy took the stage next, after what seemed like an unnecessarily long sound check. Again, the musicianship was excellent, but if I want to listen to the black metal version of Depeche Mode I will just listen to...um, no...I will just listen to Depeche Mode. This band's work has been nominated for all kinds of awards, so apparently people like them, but I find it incredibly hard to comment on a band that did not excite me. If I met them, I would say, "It's not you, it's me."
Inquisition from Colombia/Seattle was the main reason I drove 70 + miles in rush hour traffic to this show on a weekday night, and I was very excited to see them perform. They did not disappoint. There is something hypnotic about the way the drums, Dagon's guitar and his reptilian-affected vocals come together, and I think the rest of the audience could feel it. I had watched several YouTube videos of live Inquisition shows and none that remember can capture the real deal. They sounded great, they looked great and they got everyone revved up! They played one of my favorite songs, Cosmic Invocation Rites. Evening complete.
Portugal's Moonspell like to sing about werewolves, apparently. At one point, I think the singer howled. I don't know, whatever they were singing about, I thought they were really good. They also fall roughly into the category of gothic metal, but they exude so much aggression and power that it feels more like melodic black metal to me. The band interacted well with the audience, who seemed to love them. I would go see them again.
Marduk arrived on stage about 30 minutes later than the set times indicated, which made me realize that I was not going to be able to stay for their entire set. (Some people have to work in the morning.) The last (and first) time I saw Marduk was at the former Sonar in Baltimore. During that show, which was held on a Saturday night, the entire room was packed and quickly turned into a mosh pit. This show seemed to lack that level of vigor. Should we expect black metallaers to throw down on any night of the week? Heck it was only 11 p.m. There was some moshing, but for the most part the audience was pretty inert. I think, although I obviously can't get inside his head, that vocalist Daniel "Mortuus" Rostén was really frustrated by the lethargy. At one point I felt like he was chastising the audience for not being more metal or something. At any rate, the sound for Marduk was horrible compared to how it had been for the other bands. I can always listen to them on CD.
Raging Power Web Zine is an online magazine which is fairly new, and still trying to get on their feet. They are currently using their myspace page for promotion until their website is completed, but they recently asked us if we would be interested in an interview, and we were more than happy to take the interview and looked at it as a great opportunity. So, here is the interview between Helgardh and Raging Power Web Zine.
Helgardh are an extreme Black Metal band from Bluefield West Virginia that are working of their first E.P. "Ad Obscurus Aeternam" that will come out soon. Here is the interview with the band and what they had to say.
RPZ: For those who have little knowledge of Helgardh, could you give some details about the band?
HELGARDH: Helgardh was formed by fans of "real" metal who wanted to bring it back to this area. We decided on black metal b/c it hadn't ever been done before in the area (at least not that we know of), and wanted to give the local metal fans something new that they hadn't seen before. We mostly favor black metal, but we also incorporate elements from other extreme metal sub-genres into our music in our own personal attempt to revolutionize black metal, and we try to do it in a manner that no other bands have done it before!!
RPZ: Who's in Helgardh's current lineup?
HELGARDH: When affiliating ourselves with the band, we all use our pseudonyms (stage names). The line-up is as follows:
Famine :: Guitars, Vocals
Coffinfeeder :: Guitars
Abatu :: Bass
D :: Drums
Famine and Coffinfeeder are not credited as lead or rhythm guitarists because they both alternate between leads and rhythms throughout each of the songs, as well as creating harmonies together.
RPZ: For those that have yet to hear Helgardh's sound, how would you describe it?
HELGARDH: Our sound is really hard to specifically describe. We combine all the roots of black metal with riffing styles similar to power metal, thrash metal, and death metal thrown into the mix. We actually feel that a better classification of our music is Extreme Black Metal, because of the fact that we do incorporate (what we consider) the best elements of other extreme metal sub-genres, while still trying to obtain the black metal title!!
RPZ: What bands helped to influence Helgardh's sound?
HELGARDH: A major influence throughout all of our members is none other than the "sons of northern darkness", Immortal. Other bands that have greatly influenced our black metal sound include Emperor, Bathory, Dark Funeral, Gorgoroth, and Dimmu Borgir. A few outside influences lie in Iced Earth, Slayer, Behemoth, Death, Metallica, and even Yngwie Malmsteen, which we credit as one of the greatest guitarists to ever live!!
RPZ: What can Helgardh bring to black metal, and how does Helgardh differ from other black metal bands?
HELGARDH: As we stated before, we bring our outside influences to black metal, but we try to do it in a way that has never been done before. For example, we may use a galloping, power metal-like riff as a rhythm, while simultaneously using a tremolo picked, typical black metal riff as a lead.
RPZ: So far, the band is working on its first release, when will the new CD be out, and what is the title?
HELGARDH: Our first release is a 6 song EP (including the 1 minute intro) entitled "Ad Obscurus Aeternam" which, translated to English, means "Into Eternal Darkness." We are aiming for a late 2010 or early 2011 release!! We have yet to set a specific date.
RPZ: What are the lyrical subjects of the songs and what inspired them?
HELGARDH: Most of our lyrics are based on some sort of mythology. Even the band name, Helgardh, is one of the nine worlds in Norse Mythology (often shortened to just Hel). Other themes include historical texts and events.
Read more: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=514467442&blogId=538450729#ixzz0xx0uaJMz
RPZ: So far, the band is looking for a record label. Any luck? Who would you like to see Helgardh get signed to?
HELGARDH: We would have to say that our ultimate goal would either be Candlelight Records or Metal Blade Records.
RPZ: Once the E.P. comes out, will the band tour to promote it, and what other ways do you hope to get the word out about it?
HELGARDH: Assuming that all of our schedules sync up, we are planning to do a couple of mini-tours, but if we aren't able to, then we will definitely be traveling a lot to promote the release!
RPZ: Has the band come up with cover art for the CD yet?
HELGARDH: We actually have a graphic designer from Pittsburgh, PA, currently working on the artwork for the album. It should be finished sometime soon!
RPZ: Helgardh are located in Bluefield, WV. It's a place not know for heavy metal, let alone Black Metal. How has the reaction been to the band there, and are there other bands around you worth checking out?
HELGARDH: Honestly, the reaction has been surprisingly positive so far. We really work hard to promote all of our shows as much as possible, to make sure that we get the "right" crowds out to each of our shows, which, in turn, improves the reactions of the people there. We don't want to play a show where only 2 or 3 people like our style of music. That would be pointless. So we really work hard to get a crowd that would get into the music.
A few other bands in our area that we recommend checking out are Simsurra (100% for Cannibal Corpse fans), Darkness Remains (currently inactive, but could be EASILY considered the best death metal band this area has ever seen), Under a Nightmare (a horror punk band based in Pennsylvania, but has members in this area), and a couple of bands near this area are Rotting Obscene (very technical death metal) and The Ziggurat (Lovecraftian Themed Blackened Death Thrash).
RPZ: Being in a area where metal is not so popular, is it hard for the band to find a place to play? And who have you played with so far?
HELGARDH: Well, surprisingly, despite the smaller area, we do have a few venues in and around our area that are dedicated to JUST the metal scene, so it really isn't hard to find shows in this area, but unlike most other bands in the area, we do like to travel as much as possible to expose our music to a much broader crowd, because we are aware that the percentages are very low of being discovered in an area this small, so .
RPZ: What would be the ultimate tour/concert for the band?
HELGARDH: We would love to play at the Wacken Open Air Festival (which I believe is in Germany), but as for specific bands, we'd have to say Immortal, Emperor, and Dimmu Borgir.
RPZ: Many black metal bands tent to use props and special effects during a show, has Helgardh thought of doing anything yet?
HELGARDH: Yes, we actually use the standard black metal attire for the most part (black leather gauntlets with the metal spikes, corpse paint, etc), and we also own our own personal fog machine that we'll sometimes use, assuming the venue's capability.
RPZ: What is the first metal album that you heard and to you, what is the best black metal album ever?
HELGARDH: The first metal albums that our members ever heard are Metallica-Ride the Lightning, Pantera-Vulgar Display of Power, and Slayer-South of Heaven. What we consider to be the best black metal albums are ever released are as follows: Emperor-Anthems of the Welkin at Dusk, Dissection-The Somberlain, and Immortal-Sons of Northern Darkness.
RPZ: What else would you like to add to this interview to inform others about Helgardh?
HELGARDH: The only other thing we'd like to add is that we strive NOT to let any sub-genre restrictions restrain us from using riffs, lyrical patterns, etc in our music. We like to use riffs that wouldn't typically be used in black metal, because we feel that it really helps our sound stay unique.