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Review

COVENANT Magazine’s Favourite Aural Abominations of 2019

One of the greatest things about toiling away in music is the privilege to be exposed to such a colossal amount of record releases up to the minute. A single glance at Covenant’s musical activity over the years reflects a diverse juxtaposition of genres and sounds. Our greater collective and associates are an eclectic bunch. Between the festivals and magazine, we try to keep a keen eye (and ear) on everything under the umbrellas of extreme metal and goth music of all kinds. Though the sounds vary, the essence remains the same.

It may be indulgent, but since we added a bit of value to the world of music journalism this past year, we are also contributing our voices to the surmounting lists that attempt to summarize the last 365 days in music. Our overall top 10 is an attempt to be objective, as it represents just about everything we could all agree on. Below that we asked our staff and various members of the greater collective to lend their individual voices. The results are about as wildly diverse as it gets.

Let us collectively banish the year that was 2019 by celebrating the fruits it produced, and look toward the future of greater things to come!


1 // Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race

Surprised? Of course you aren’t. For most bands, touring with Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, and Immolation would not only be high points of their year, but would most likely go on to define their careers. For Blood Incantation, it will probably go down as a foot-note of their 2019, right under the part that says ‘released Hidden History Of The Human Race‘. It is that grandiose of an accomplishment, and a couple paragraphs here cannot hope to begin to encapsulate the grandeur it holds, or do it justice. It enters a rare pantheon of modern records that will be enshrined as all-time classics.

Read the FULL REVIEW

2 // Volahn – El Tigre Del Sur

If a band ever needed a strong statement to not just return to the forefront of attention, but to also crush the lies of doubters and naysayers, it was Volahn, and they have done just that with El Tigre Del Sur. The fact that it is a powerful and proud Zapatista declaration that is so passionately Mexican and anti-colonial makes it very easy to lose sight of perhaps the most important factor when observing this as a recording of music: it is their best material to date. Overflowing with beautiful melodies of blatant Latin influence that are rarely heard in metal music, it often sounds more like the score to a Sergio Leone film than it does to what we think as being “black metal”. Complete with athletic and bombastic drumming, and a brilliant ending that will be remembered for all time, El Tigre Del Sur stands triumphant against all who would attempt to besmirch his name!

3 // Ioanna Gika – Thalassa

Sometimes a record honestly comes out of nowhere and blindsides you like a wayward sucker punch. Thalassa was an unexpected game changer: A shadowy siren from a foreign land with a name that’s even hard to pronounce, crafting a genre that practically doesn’t exist. Ioanna Gika creates a stunning blend of sounds that defy absolutely any categorization. Wavey, ethereal pop that contorts into a fractal of stunning beauty. Certainly not your usual scheduled programming. Hers is a voice from another realm of existence, and the echoes that remain resound through the chamber of your very soul. Keeping up with this album is an exciting exercise, as practically no two moments sound the same. “Interesting” is a cruel understatement. “Masterpiece” is closer to the mark.

4 // Misþyrming – Algleymi

Discarding the melancholy and mystery of 2015’s Söngvar elds og óreiðu, Iceland’s most depraved return on the infamous Norma Evangelium Diaboli label with the indeed orgiastic and ecstatic Algleymi. For a band who had so quickly announced themselves on the world stage with a powerful album and performances at esteemed festivals such as Roadburn just 4 years ago, it is startling to see them kick in to an even higher gear, and return with such vitriol. The future of Misþyrming is all at once a promising and intimidating prospect!

5 // Funereal Presence – Achatius

An archaic crypt flung open earlier this year and the miasma of Funereal Presence enveloped us all once again. The solo project of Negative Plane’s batterer crafted a timeless piece of timelessness. Finally the project fiercely declared independence and boldly stepped out of the shadow. As a tandem release between two of the most clandestine forces in black metal, Sepulchral Voice Records and The Ajna Offensive, the stage was already set for something potent. The first since 2014’s The Archer Takes Aim, the next chapter Achatius dove deeper into a unique sound that manages to amalgamate everything magical about 80’s black metal. An infectious dose of marathon length songs comprising swirling, subaquatic guitar tones, echoing pounding percussion, shimmering leads, and a folkloric spectre ever looming.

Read the FULL REVIEW

6 // L’Epee – Diabolique

Fall back into a twisting, psychedelic void. A wormhole directly back to an imagined 1960’s where devilish French women sing you songs of danger, lust, and abandon. Psyche garage rock never was so delicious. L’Eppe is a combined project featuring the mastermind behind Brian Jonestown Massacre, the husband and wife juggernaut The Limiñanas, and the perfect voice of Emmanuelle Seigner (better known as Green Eyes from the film The Ninth Gate). Imagine the lush tapestry of The Velvet Underground with the indulgent pop sensibility of Serge Gainsbourg and the bouncy irreverence of the ye-ye movement. Now turn it up to a soul-rattling volume as you drive headlong into a night-cloaked desert. You have some idea of what Diabolique feels like.

7 // Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror

The aliens have landed again and this time they brought us another gift from the cosmos: A shady synth pop observation of modern decay. Whereas the universally adored The Demonstration presented delightfully infectious darkness and melancholy, the lens through which Modern Mirror gazes is one of brighter optimism. The hooks are diabolically addictive and the melodies are nearly parasitic. Deb Demure proves once again to be one of the most accomplished songwriters of our age – the arpeggios, the dense layers, the driving rhythms, the sorrowful vocals. Yet in this iteration, Mona D makes his full presence known, taking lead vocals on the album highlight “Oxytocin”. Perhaps slightly less of a heart-wrenching, life-altering affair, Modern Mirror provides a more whimsical exploration, but has launched the space invaders to another level of successful infiltration. A masterful concoction such as this proves that it doesn’t take a human mind to craft a perfect pop album.

Read the FULL REVIEW

8 // Superstition – The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation

Death metal is in a serious renaissance. Superstition is at the vanguard. With a sound that we have championed from the earliest murmurs, Superstition finally struck the essence of pure old(est) school death metal with their first full length. The Anatomy of Unholy Transformation is an endless smothering flow of forgotten ideas channeled straight from the late 80’s Floridian swamps and New York back alleys. Somewhere the disembodied brain of Mike Browning is emanating riffs and structures to a demented quartet in the deserts of New Mexico. It can be the only feasible explanation for a sound that is so wholly unique and realized while also being a perfect homage to an earlier age. So rarely have an absolutely barrage of riffs marched on the listener in all out spiritual attack formation like this. It’s well-worth the possessing enchantment!

Read the FULL REVIEW

9 // Bolzer – Lese Majesty

With the release of Bolzer’s Lese Majesty, we have seen the band through their social media outlets begin to refer to their discography in a different way. Instead of reflecting on it as a demo and two EPs that gradually paved the way for Hero, which indeed at the time did seem like the long awaited full length offering, Bolzer has began referring to each release as an album. Indeed, this may seem bizarre to many, but for a band that has such a concise, quality, and meticulously controlled output- a band that did indeed rise to notable prominence off of the strength of a 15 minute release – it provides a unique lens to look at the band’s discography. This latest release is their second longest, clocking in just under 30 minutes, and it is the the sound of a more mature Bolzer. The scathing black metal of Zeus, Seducer Of Hearts is at the forefront, the muscular death metal of Aura and Soma are omnipresent, and of course the progressive nature and booming clean vocals of ‘Hero’ are applied all at once freely and with a tactical caution. For the past 8 years, we have all witnessed a band gestate and try new ideas while all at once stay within their egregore. Now it is time to witness that band arise to their height.

10 // Camp.30 – Eyes Only

Having risen to notoriety through his work on the enigmatic PLAZA’s Shadow EP (perhaps the single best dark R&B record of all time), Camp.30 is a man unhappy with thought of resting on his laurels. While that project takes what course it might, Camp.30 has branched out and shown that he is capable of the same, if not even richer atmosphere without any vocalist. Eyes Only is rare melody after rare melody, strange harmonies aplenty, and a level of production in electronic music that we at this publication believe is unparalleled. Somewhere between that late-night Toronto r&b sound, and a deeper, more sinister and introspective dark ambient sound lies Camp.30’s magnificent Eyes Only.

Read the FULL REVIEW


COVENANT STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS

Doomscribe

  1. Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror
  2. Pissgrave – Posthumous Humiliation
  3. Teitanblood – The Baneful Choir
  4. Funereal Presence – Achatius
  5. Cerebral Rot – Odious Descent Into Decay
  6. Witch Vomit – Buried Deep In A Bottomless Grave
  7. Yellow Eyes – Rare Field Ceiling
  8. Departure Chandelier – Antichrist Rise To Power
  9. Devil Master – Satan Spits On Children Of Light
  10. Blood Incantation – Hidden History Of The Human Race

Colin Scott

  1. Blut Aus Nord – Hallucinogen
  2. Diocletian – Amongst the Flames of a Burning God
  3. Formless Master – First Strike
  4. Abysmal Lord – Exaltation of the Infernal Cabal
  5. Deafkids – Metaprogramação
  6. Peter Bjargo – Structures and Downfall
  7. Undeath – Sentient Autolitisys
  8. Baneblade – Oblivion Death March
  9. Mefitis – Emberdawn
  10. Bolzer – Lese Majesty

Loke Atropus

  1. Black Earth – Gnarled Ritual of Self Annihilation
  2. Aesthetic Meat Front – Essence of Rituals
  3. Trepaneringsritualen – ᛉᛦ – Algir; Eller Algir I Merkstave
  4. Teitanblood – The Baneful Choir
  5. Nordvargr – Daath
  6. Halo Manash – Unetar
  7. The Caretaker – Everywhere an Empty Bliss
  8. Ordo Rosarius Equilibrio – Let’s Play (Two Girls & a Goat)
  9. Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadows – Death and Flamingos
  10. Rattenfanger – Geisserlieder

Ana Krunic

  1. Schammasch – Hearts of No Light
  2. Thee Oh Sees – Face Stabber
  3. Lingua Ignota – Caligula
  4. Tomb Mold – Planetary Clairvoyance
  5. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
  6. Vitriol – To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice
  7. Yawning Man – Macedonian Lines
  8. Russian Circles – Blood Year
  9. Mgla – Age of Excuse
  10. Vastum – Orificial Purge

N.H.

  1. Consummation – The Great Solar Hunter
  2. Antichrist Siege Machine – Schism Perpetration
  3. Trench Warfare – Hatred Prayer
  4. HAR – Anti-Shechinah
  5. Deathspell Omega – The Furnaces of Palingenesia
  6. Bolzer – Lesse Majesty
  7. Ares Kingdom – By the Light of Their Destruction
  8. Kapala – Termination Apex

Jon Krieger

  1. Abigail Williams – Walk Beyond the Dark
  2. Schammasch – Hearts of no Light
  3. Mgla – Age of Excuse
  4. Misþyrming – Algeymi
  5. Feif – V
  6. Ultar – Pantheon MMXIX
  7. Zuriaake – Resentment in the ancient courtyard
  8. Aoratos – Gods Without Name
  9. Obsequiae – The Palms of Sorrowed Kings
  10. Falls of Rauros – Patterns in Mythology

Shawn Hache
(Mitochondrion, Auroch, Night Profound)

  1. Rome – Le Ceneri di Heliodoro
  2. Funereal Presence – Achatius
  3. Chthonic Deity – Reassembled in Pain
  4. Ioanna Gika – Thalassa
  5. Blood Incantation – Hidden History of the Human Race
  6. Dreams of the Drowned – S/T
  7. Warmoon Lord – Burning Banners of the Funereal War
  8. L’Epee – Diabolique
  9. Fetid – Steeping Corporeal Mess
  10. Ateiggar – Us d‘r Höll chunnt nume Zyt

Sebastian Montesi
(Mitochondrion, Auroch)

  1. Volahn – El Tigre Del Sur
  2. Blood Incantation – Hidden History Of The Human Race
  3. Ioanna Gika – Thalassa
  4. Camp.30 – Eyes Only
  5. Bölzer – Lese Majesty
  6. Freddie Joachim – Beyond The Sea Of Trees
  7. Misþyrming – Algleymi
  8. Deiphago – I, The Devil
  9. Nile – Vile Nilotic Rites
  10. Totaled – Lament

Zack Chandler
(Auroch)

  1. Witch Vomit – Buried Deep In a Bottomless Grave
  2. Nails – I Dont Want To Know You
  3. Downswing – Frequency
  4. Boy Harsher – Careful
  5. Aphex Twin – Peel Session 2
  6. Suffering Hour – Dwell
  7. Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror
  8. VR Sex – Horseplay/Human Traffic Jam
  9. Mgła – Age of Excuse
  10. Morrissey – California Son

Ian Campbell
(Crooked Mouth)

  1. Drab Majesty – Modern Mirror
  2. Lankum – The Livelong Day
  3. By the Spirits – Visions
  4. Destroying Angel – Making Beds in a Burning House
  5. L’Acephale – S/T
  6. Kinit Her- Fire Returns to Heaven
  7. VR Sex – Human Traffic Jam
  8. Witch Bottle – Forest Spell

Xavier Berthiaume
(Gevurah)

  1. Drastus – La Croix de Sang
  2. Blut Aus Nord – Hallucinogen
  3. Teitanblood – The Baneful Choir
  4. Deathspell Omega – The Furnaces of Palingenesia
  5. Mayhem – Daemon
  6. Vargrav – Reign in Supreme Darkness
  7. Departure Chandelier – Antichrist Rise to Power
  8. Krypts – Cadaver Circulation
  9. Blue Hummingbird on the Left – Atl Tlachinolli
  10. Mgla – Age of Excuse
Categories
Review

BLOOD INCANTATION create a monolith to outlast time as we know it with “Hidden History Of The Human Race”

The proximity and motion of cosmic forces can be sensed in the works of human artists. The lesser brain functions of a slave species picking up wayward traces of unfathomable happenings taking place behind our dimensional curtain. But with a bold mission statement like, Hidden History Of The Human Race as an album title, Blood Incantation have dared to expose the truth that has been shrouded in secrecy for so long, translating the chthonic gibberish ramblings of astral broadcasts into the more familiar dialect of death fucking metal.

Starspawn left in its wake a population of rabid, newborn fanatics and a formidable standard for any sophomore record to supercede, but evidently no match for the earth shattering power of Hidden History Of The Human Race.

As the name would suggest, Hidden History Of The Human Race encompasses an odyssey that unfolds on multiple fronts. Narratively and musically, Blood Incantation violently jerk the listener back and forth between past and future, primitive and cruelly labyrinthine in seamless succession. 

Every attribute that composes the Blood Incantation sound has been dialled up in its extremity in order to capture the magnitude of their message. The speed of drummer, Isaac Faulk’s feet and dextrous flourishes along the kit have become noticeably augmented with an added lunacy, suggestive of physical mutation initiated by consumption of alien knowledge. 

Playing the middleman between Faulk’s tectonic performance and the transdimensional projections of Paul Reidl and Morris Kolontyrsky’s guitar work, bassist Jeff Barret’s playing seamlessly balances the thunderous impact of the rhythm section, while somehow also complementing the Demilich-ian discordance of the guitars. The result is a band acting on multiple levels simultaneously. Even when reaching for the heights of technical prowess in order to sonically describe the visages of four dimensional God beings in ”Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)”, there remains a deceptively brutish foundation beneath the chaos. Likewise, even as “Slave Species Of The Gods” hammers the listener with stone age weaponry, an aerial network of bizarre chord progressions can be heard just out of reach. 

In this way, Blood Incantation’s music becomes overarching in its appeal, never dedicating themselves completely to a particular sub-genre faction, but encompassing them in opportune moments to create such a varied tapestry that this story requires. Because underlying the slobber-inducing moments of Gorguts and Morbid Angel worship, there remains a stalwart narrative heart at its center.

©Alvino Salcedo Photography

Even within an individual track like, “The Giza Power Plant”, there is constructed a  journey traversing mood, tempo, and whole genres. What begins as a bizarre shock of discordant guitar and airy drum patterns embodying a generator coming back to life, quickly builds to a crescendo of unbridled magnitude, leading to a cataclysm that breaks into a long sigh across middle eastern deserts. Mirage-like notes resurrect long lost empires amid the Egyptian sand wastes, while intimidating chords of doom-laden melody wordlessly infer the magnitude of unearthed mysteries coming to the fore.

The final chapter in this whole forbidden production, “Awakening from the Dream of Existence to the Multidimensional Nature of Our Reality (Mirror of the Soul)” is several songs in one, a compact opus spanning nearly 20 minutes. But in breaking the whole down into written description, one almost certainly will find themselves reduced to overlong rambling and doing the song a disservice. To put it simply: following its predecessors this grand finale feels like an ultimate destination, reflecting all the traits of what has come before it, but merged into a megastructure of bizarre architecture that supersedes them in sheer scale. 

©Alvino Salcedo Photography

Ethos has been vital, if not definitive, to Blood Incantation from the start in every way. Specifically that of ancient aliens, eastern mythology and conspiracy, to scratch the surface. Not only has it helped the band stand out by having such magnetic and culturally embedded keystones behind in their concept, but it seems to have given them an anchor of sorts to latch onto in songwriting. Blood Incantation take hold of these thematic reigns more than ever before to deliver an awe inspiring journey through time and space in Hidden History Of The Human Race

Even before its long awaited release, it appeared that many fans were content with placing Hidden History Of The Human Race on their album of the year lists. That confidence looks to have paid off in a big way, as this is not only a serious AOTY candidate, but is likely to go down in the annals of death metal classics years down the road. 


This massive beast is available from DARK DESCENT RECORDS for North America and CENTURY MEDIA for the rest of this doomed planet. All formats are available … support or die!

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Festival Interview

KILLTOWN DEATHFEST’s mastermind DANIEL ABECASSIS gives a taste of life on the road and behind the scenes at Europe’s best death metal festival

We first met Daniel Abecassis off Vancouver’s Main St. in a hidden, locals-only bar called The Narrow. It was December of 2013, and we had met to discuss how operating a tour booking agency for underground death metal actually works, and to better understand the logistics involved. Since then he’s taken a few Covenant circle bands on the road, and put them on both of his past festivals.

A lot has happened since that night 5 years ago: Killtown Deathfest has been laid to rest, resurrected, countless tours have taken place with many now-pivotal bands putting their stamp on the old continent, and Daniel Abecassis has been reconfirmed time and time again to be perhaps the most important behind-the-scenes individual in this tight knit, yet massive scene.

We caught up with Daniel to help give our readership and all rabid fans of this genre a better perspective on what he does, and the answers are nothing short of elucidating. Enjoy!

I think we should start with something that will lay some good groundwork for the reader. To a lot of people, the logistics and dynamics of what you do is confusing. Some people think that tours for bands who have a decent following, but may not be tremendously “popular”, are more luxurious than they are. Other people think that these tours are a lot more punk than they are. Can you walk the readers through your process – from the starting point of a tour, to piecing it together, to how an average day on the road would look?

Hey! First off let me introduce myself. My name is Daniel Abecassis and I’m running Killtown Bookings and I’m part of the collective organizing Kill-Town Death Fest (KTDF). I’m based in Copenhagen, Denmark and so is the Killtown Bookings office and the festival.

I had quite a few ideas about touring life – like you mention in your question above – and some of them turned out to be true, but most of them didn’t. A lot of people romanticize touring and tour life, but from my perspective it’s mainly a lot of work, but of course good times and fun too. When I’m on the road I usually work up to 20 hours a day. Usually the day starts early and we get to bed at a very late hour. I drive during the day sometimes just a few hours, but for the most part 6-10 hours per day. Then you arrive at the venue for load in and setting up the stage and then sound check. While the bands are doing that I’m usually trying to catch up on some emails if I have a few hours. Then its dinner time, then doors and then the show. Usually there isn’t much time for sightseeing or walking around the town, so you end up seeing endless kilometres of highways, gas stations, venues and hotels… Not super romantic. And then there is the question about the girls. A lot of people think that there are a lot of girls at shows and that they are always running after the bands… Well maybe I’m in the wrong scene, but there isn’t a lot of girls running after the bands I tour with and not that many present at the shows in general. It is getting better with the male/female ratio, but there is still a long way to go. In general I don’t see a lot of band members hooking up on tour, so girlfriends out there who are really worried about their touring boyfriends (or the other way around) you don’t need to worry that much …

Since I book, drive and tour manage the majority of the tours I book – which is around 10-15 tours a year, I’m usually on the road up to 6 months out of the year. That’s tough and straining both physically and mentally, but I still really love what I’m doing and I’m super passionate about the bands I work with and the culture I’m promoting. I’m very picky with what bands I work with and I always try to curate my roster after the bands I’m listening to at home and that I think deserves more exposure here in Europe. So far I have been really blessed with most of the bands that I’m into contacting me and wanting me to work with them, so I cant complain about how things are going.

I have plans to expand Killtown Bookings more. At the moment I have Andrea Vissol working with me based out of Brussels, Belgium where he is running Killtown Bookings Belgium. There are also ideas to open up a branch in Germany and possibly also a Killtown Bookings North America at some point …

How did everything get started for Killtown Bookings exactly?

Killtown Bookings started after we did the first edition of KTDF back in 2010. Since we were flying in bands from around the world, more and more bands started asking if we could provide touring options for them. I had been booking shows locally since the early/mid 90´s and done my fair share of touring – mainly through the punk/DIY network – so I was familiar with how shit works, but had no real experience as an international tour booker… The first two tours I booked was for Funebrarum (us) + Undergang (dk) and Sonne Adam (il) + Cruciamentum (uk) back in 2011. Both tours went really well despite that I had to figure most things out while booking the tours. Everyone I got in touch with were super nice and supportive and within long I had mapped out the DIY death metal underground promoter scene of Europe. The budgets were very unrealistic cause I had never worked with tours with bigger budgets before but it all worked out fine in the end and all costs were covered and the bands still got to walk home with some cash.

After the pretty good start with some strong names it just took off from there. Daryl Kahan from Funebrarum designed me a logo (based of the KTDF logo) and did a website for me. At that point I had just finished my bachelors degree in political science and history at university, so I was kinda at a crossroad where I had to decide if I would go with the booking or with an academic career. I decided to go with opening my own booking agency and make that my primary work occupation from day one. I was lucky cause it worked out more or less from the beginning and it still does.

Let’s talk about something current. Kill-Town Death Fest has had an aura of mystique and a cult following unlike any other festival in recent memory. When it was laid to rest in 2014, the world cried out that it was all too early, and the plethora of people who did not get to go have grumbled ever since. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, KTDF is back from the dead. Why was this the right time to do this?

 

We decided to quit doing Kill-Town Death Fest back in 2014 due to a couple of different reasons. Mainly we felt that we had achieved what we set out to do which was promoting the best of the contemporary underground death metal scenes of Scandinavia and Europe in general. We had reached a point where in order for us to maintain a high level in our programs we needed to book bands we had already presented earlier on. The UG death metal scene seemed also to take a dive around this time compared to the wave that was happening when we first set out back in 2009/2010. We didn’t want to keep booking the same bands over and over again, so we decided to call it quits while we were ahead.

Last year we had a meeting in our association Undergrundsmusikkens Fremme (Underground Music Promotion) and decided that the time felt right to pick up where we had left off. In the 3 years that had passed when we had the meeting a lot of new and interesting bands had emerged – especially in North America – so we decided to turn our focus towards the North American continent. A lot of really good new, young bands had started putting out demos and releases on some of the labels that we have always worked with like Dark Descent Records, 20 Buck Spin, Profound Lore Records, Parasitic Records and Me Saco Un Ojo to just name a few.

So we set out to book the line up for what would be become “The Resurrection” of Kill-Town Death Fest. Through my booking agency I’m often in contact with a lot of the contemporary bands and David has a lot contacts throughout the world through Undergang and Extremely Rotten Productions, so the line-up came together relatively smoothly being booked mainly while I was on the road where we would communicate online in the KTDF collective. The outcome turned out quite spectacular – also for us. We had a meeting a week before we were supposed to start the announcements and sat down and compiled the whole line-up and wrote it out on paper. Since we had all been scattered and never had time to sit in the same room, the outcome came as quite a surprise to us. It turned out to be really good! We ended up having booked 12 bands from North America – a few old ones, but mainly fresh new young bands that have never played Europe before. Besides the 12 from North America, we have bands from Asia, the Middle East, South America and Australia and of course quite a few Scandinavian and some European bands. There are a few bands that have played before on there, but the majority of them have new releases since they played last time. We have a lot of special appearances from bands that have never played Europe before. Derkéta is a band we have tried to get over since years and I’m really stoked that we are able to host them for their first and so far only Euro performance ever! Also after trying for about 7 years to convince Runemagick to rise from their ionic slumber, we finally managed and can proudly present their first live show since 2005! Also we have the great honor of hosting Mortem from Peru´s first Euro show since 2004! Hyperdontia from Turkey and Denmark will play their first ever show at KTDF and Wormridden will play their first ever Euro show. Other special one off /first Euro performances worth mentioning are Sempiternal Dusk (us), Mortiferum (us), Cemetery Urn (aus), Ascended Dead (us), Triumvir Foul (us), Fetid (us), Scolex (us) and Torture Rack. Necrot will also play their first much anticipated Euro show before embarking on a month long Euro tour. All in all there is a lot of special performances you won’t see anywhere else. And that’s a deeply rooted part of the concept.

Our focus has always been on making a spectacular and varied programme with contemporary live acts from around the globe. We aren’t doing this to make a profit – we just want to promote the best bands that are around plus try to make some unique unforgettable live moments that will hopefully go over in history. Speaking about money – everyone in the organization and the crew working the festival (beside the venue staff) are all volunteers and working 100% for free. None of us in the KTDF collective has ever made a cent – all profit if there is any will proceed towards next years edition. Our motivation is promoting bands from the underground that we think are great and deserves a platform of exposure. That’s what we set out to do back in 2009 when we first started discussing this and hopefully that’s what we have created and achieved. We try to make a festival that isn’t part of the typical festival circuit where the same bands tour around all summer and play all festivals. We are a niche festival that only focuses on UG death metal combined with our Gloomy Sunday concept where we end off the festival with a chjll sesh afternoon/evening with the best of doom/death and funeral doom bands we can dig up.

So can stoners, sludgeheads, and doom worshipers the world over expect a similar reanimation of Heavy Days In Doomtown?

Heavy Days in Doomtown (HDDT) was the sister festival of Kill-Town Death Fest and was put to death back in 2015. It was organized by a different group of people under Undergrundsmusikkens Fremme and I was also part of that collective. The idea to HDDT came about after a trip to Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands back in 2011. After I came home me and my partner in Killtown Bookings at the time Nikolaj Jakobsen agreed to start a DIY doom/stoner/sludge event build after the same model as KTDF. We formed a collective consisting of friends from our immediate circle and was comprised off 2 Danes, 2 swedes and 1 American. We were all living in Copenhagen at the time we started, but after the first two editions the majority of the collective was spread out across the globe again – making it somewhat more complicated to work as a collective. But we continued as we had set out to do 4 editions of the fest based on the 4 elements; earth, water, fire and wind. HDDT I though IV were all huge successes and became larger and more popular than KTDF. Mainly because of the style of the festival which had a much more popular and broad appeal than KTDF.

It was sad to put it down in 2015, but at the same time it opened up for a me to put a lot more focus back on my booking agency. Also the amount of Roadburn copy-cat festivals were exploding so we felt that there was no need for the festival anymore since there were so many good curated festivals out there. Quite the opposite turned out to be the case for KTDF since there are no other (or at least very few) festivals solely dedicated to underground death metal. Every time I was out on a tour people would come up and ask me if or when KTDF would come back. That happened so often and so many times that I started thinking about that there is such a high demand out there for that exact festival concept and that it has a very special place in many people´s lives. For me personally that was one of the main motivations to doing this again along with missing the craziness of being responsible for such a massive production with just a few other people.

As for your question if HDDT will ever return; Never say never, but I have hard time seeing that happening for all the same reasons that we put it down in the first place.

What is the part of all of this that you enjoy the most?…and the least?

I’m a nerd about organization – I love to create events, to curate them, to make them come alive aesthetically, to promote them, to see them flourish and get their own lives and to experience the rush of the actual event itself. I’m not a musician myself and I’m not a person who enjoys being on a stage and center of attention. I prefer to be in the background and make sure that things work out and that everyone is having a good time. I have always been a worker and worked hard with music since I was very young. I have worked since the mid 90´s with stage building, rigging, backlining, security, graphic design, catering and bar-tending – everything that had something to do with music. I also started promoting shows from a very early age – already at 14 I booked my first show with a friend and then just did it on/off from there up through the 90´s, but always very low-fi and very underground. It wasn’t until the early 2000´s that I started doing it more seriously, but always 100% DIY without earning a single cent at any time. The first time I ever made any money with a tour or show was when I opened up Killtown Bookings in 2011 after having been promoting shows at that point since 1993…The downside of this life is that I don’t really have a life… Well I love my life, but there isn’t much time for anything else than work and touring – which is what I do all day every day. Weed and vegan food is what makes all this manageable for me – so if that’s provided at a show – which it usually is since people know me by now – all is good and I have zero complaints!

The list of tours you’ve put together reads like a death metal fan’s wet dream. What was the tour you’ve done that excited you most as a fan?

As mentioned before I try to only work with bands I’m really passionate about. I hate work for the sake of work – I want to curate the bands I work with so there is more to it than just a business transaction – I want to form friendships, to get involved and invested and want to see the bands playing every night. If a band or a tour isn’t like this I loose interest very fast and I really try to avoid that. I don’t like to bring highlight some bands over others, but of course I have crossed path with and been so fortunate to work with bands or people who have really inspired me over the years listening to music. One tour that was very special for me was when Tau Cross asked me to work with them on a tour. I’m a big Amebix fan since I was a young crustie and to work with and being on the road with Rob Miller was a really cool experience. Also having Michel Away from Voivod and Jon from Misery in the van was something that 14 year old me never imagined would happen. I have toured with so many amazing bands over the years and I’m really stoked and proud about the majority of tours I have put together. I’m really fortunate to be able to wake up every day and get to deal with bands whose vinyls are in my collection and spinning om my record player every day.

When you look ten years down the road, what do you envision as part of Killtown’s set up? What are you working towards?

The future looks quite hazy… Not just because of all the heavy weed smoking, but just because life is unpredictable. As I have already mentioned I have always been passionate about music and the music industry – at least to try to change it for the better – so I would have a hard time not seeing myself still working with music. If I don’t then something drastic will have happened and I hope that wont be the case… I just turned 40 and that was a weird milestone to pass, but not much has changed personally in the 25 years I have been involved with music. Im still as passionate and motivated as I have always been, so hopefully it will be the same in another 10 years. A family would maybe slow things down a little and keep me from touring constantly, but there is nothing pointing in the direction of that happening anytime soon… I really hope my taste in music wont get outdated or I will adopt a shitty(er) taste over the years. Would be awful if I would be sitting managing sell-out bands just to make a buck… but again I don’t see that happening ever!

At risk of attracting more business than you can handle, what would be some dream tours for you?

Not sure to be honest… I work with the bands that I care for and my experience is that when bands get bigger the focus change from being a band that loves to play and perform to a focus on money. The more money the better. And then my job is just to sit and make money for a band that isn’t passionate about what they do anymore… That’s of course a bit black and white and of course there are bigger bands that are cool and passionate about what they do, but the bands that aren’t have none of my interest. Of course I hope that some of the bands I work with will rise to prominence and have success because of their music and hopefully also my work. At the moment I work with a couple of bands I see great potential in; Blood Incantation (us) and Slægt (dk). Both fairly new young bands, but both storming forward with massive potential in each their own way. Lets see what the future holds for them (and me…).

Thank you Daniel! You’re doing the devil’s work and we applaud you eternally. You’ve said quite a bit here already, and we think this will be a very important read for ALL underground death metal fans worldwide. So at this point we’ll let you have the last word!

Thanks for the interest in what in I do and for reading through all my gibberish about myself and the stuff I do. Keep an eye out for tours coming across Europe and maybe soon on the other side of the continent. Maybe see some of you out there on the road.
Cheers,
A//E


The Resurrection of Killtown Deathfest is slated for execution on September 6-9, 2018 in Copenhagen at Pumpehuset. It’s been long sold out so if you were hoping to go … well, you’ll just have to kill yourself.

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Interview

PAUL RIEDL: how BLOOD INCANTATION’s restless cosmonaut evolved into the busiest man in death metal

“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” -Carl Sagan

The dream of being a touring musician is an interesting one, and almost intrinsically demarcates a peculiar, singular soul. A perpetual outsider.

In exchange for many of the things valued in this society- security, wealth, stability, family- one lives out a considerably more Quixotic journey, and in return receives experiential knowledge, visions of far off lands, and the chance to mingle with a people alien, yet bound by common cause.

One such man, Paul Riedl, is on this journey, and is confident that somewhere, something incredible is waiting. We asked him about his musical endeavours with Blood Incantation, Spectral Voice, and the umpteen other bands he helms; his future goals; and most importantly… what is really beneath Antarctica?

Watching BLOOD INCANTATION gestate in to the entity it has become has been a really crazy thing to watch. The band has accomplished so much in such a short period of time, and perhaps the most interesting part is to watch how excited people are to be a part of it. You seem to have really embraced letting people be part of the journey. What do you attribute this rare dynamic to?

Thanks man! First, let me first say HAILS to The Covenant and thank you for the interview and years of support to our bands. As for the journey, it has definitely been a crazy time getting from our rehearsal demos to where we are today, no doubt. I think part of the appeal for people is basically the transparency between the records, the people listening to them, and the people making them. You can see online and in person, through our tours and public adventures, the amount of effort being taken behind the scenes (though obviously it still looks much easier at a distance), and you can sort of see the weird personalities behind the bands. Humans in general love to observe and participate in group activities, so there is a sense of camaraderie between us and a lot of our fans who seem to know the backstories, see the legwork, and generally sympathize with the struggle of living for our music.

We are just trying to make the records as sick as we can. We want the shows to be powerful. We want the merch to be something we’d wear. Personally, I also prefer to see these human qualities in bands I like – I get a bit turned off by bands with too much art or mysticism piled on, who are ultimately just people who also check their phones and eat, have jobs etc. Anyway, I think people can see the human reality behind our endeavors; my hope would be that they resonate with that.

Let’s start with something pertinent. One of the first times that many Canadians heard the name BLOOD INCANTATION was at the totally chaotic COVENANT FESTIVAL II. The band was just starting to make waves with the excellent EP, and the full length had yet to drop. Since this was a formative time for the band becoming the touring force it is today, walk us through the period in time leading up to the summer of 2016.

Hah! Well, this was basically the most chaotic period of the band to be honest. All through 2015 we were rehearsing 4-5 times a week, often double-duty with SPECTRAL VOICE, and we had just convinced Jeff to come over on bass from SV into BI and were preparing for our first tour and the release of our first EP, which itself had been in development, hell, since Summer 2013 when we initially recorded it. We had the full length written well before “Interdimensional Extinction” came out, and were busy hand-assembling the SV/BI split 7″s right up until the hours before we left for the first tour in September. The 7″, EP and tour all happened around the same time and the waves had not really started happening yet.

We did sell out of our merch on the first tour (a harbinger of things to come), but that was more due to our inexperience and only making so much (not enough) merch. The shows themselves were mostly lackluster, except for one or two choice spots (Seattle, Salem, Oakland). We played on the floor a lot. When we went to New York for Martyrdoom Festival was when we first saw that people had bought the record and were anticipating the show. We probably sold more split 7″s at that one show than we did on our entire first tour.

Once we got back from New York we booked the studio time for recording the album. I can proudly say that when we finally went in we were razor sharp. The majority of the album was recorded in single takes – “Hidden Species” was the most with three takes. All of the initial tracking was done live in unison, with the only overdubs being vocals, synths, and occasional leads (as distinct from solos). For the duration of the experience we were completely immersed in psychedelic alien landscapes mostly of the 70s variety; vintage posters and esoteric books were strewn about the studio, with “Cosmos”, “Ancient Aliens” etc playing on loops on every screen in the house. We did the whole thing in 5 days if I remember. This was all in January 2016. Basically as soon as we left the studio we had all of the art and layout finished, so we just practiced and practiced and practiced until the Summer to prepare for the “Starspawn” release and subsequent tour.

Let me paint a picture. Summer of 2017: A lot had changed with both the band and the fest when you guys returned to headline the first night of Covenant Festival III. You put on a clinical performance (in a far more cooperative venue setting hahaha) and left the impression of being seasoned veterans as you kicked off your North American tour with QRIXKUOR. In retrospect, this was a pretty special tour package that well represents a moment in time of contemporary death metal scene. Tell us a little about this tour.

That tour was fucking sick!!! We had a great time teasing the Brits endless while they endured the record-setting heat that summer. There’s always a few days (sometimes weeks, heh) of awkward getting-to-know-you types of vibes, but this time everybody eased up pretty quickly and by the end of it were just a bunch of lads on tour having a laugh. Both bands slayed every night and got better with each show. I’ve also still never seen so many Ironbirds in one place!


We’ve run into Adam, Mike and Ryan multiples times in the years since that tour and it always feels like the tour was just the other week. They’re such great demons man, total support to them! I can’t really tell too many stories about this tour without incriminating a bunch of people, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Your start was playing funeral doom, noise ridden drone metal, and ambient, folkier metal. You still very vocally have the support of these scenes in your projects. At what point did you decide that the outlet you needed was something faster, thicker and altogether meaner like Blood Incantation and Spectral Voice?

Thanks for asking! I appreciate the look into those past projects, however briefly. The vast majority of interviews I’ve ever done seem to think I started playing underground music the day before “Starspawn” came out. Anyway, back in 2004-2008 I simply couldn’t play anything remotely technical, so drone, noise, and raw forest black metal are kinda of to be expected, heh. I’ve always liked experimental, psychedelic and atmospheric music, so naturally have always appreciated extreme bands that incorporate these elements.

I was in a death metal band in 2009 called Total Darkness that played more typical (but still heavy) death metal with both thrash and doom tendencies, but the only demo we managed to release just made me eager to start playing more complex riffs. Unfortunately the band dissolved when our other guitarist Joel moved to Oklahoma in 2010. From there I kept writing and practicing, trying to get my fingers to be able to match what my mind was hearing.

In Fall 2011 I moved to Colorado to start a new chapter in life. I was touring a lot and not really having to worry about writing material for my active band, so I had many hours of mixtape riffs and improvised jams to study and attempt to improve my compositional skills. I met most of the friends I play music with now during this time, and basically said to them “Hey, I’ve got these riffs, let’s start such and such band” and the few maniac demons who responded are now my bandmates and best friends.

It is always fascinating to watch a circle of musicians work. The listener gets to experience a wider interpretation of sounds they love through a slightly different lens. Between the 5 of you there is Blood Incantation and Spectral Voice, but also ABYSMAL DIMENSIONS, 2 of you have played in WAYFARER, and 3 of you have played in VELNIAS. What are the inner workings of this group that you attribute the success within it to?

Well, as much as it is a pain to only have 4 people to jam with, I do think it has enhanced our subconscious playing abilities and gotten us all onto a deeply tangible wavelength over the years. It’s crazy how specific a riff out of nowhere can be and how perfectly it will fit into our respective projects. We never write riffs for one band and then end up using them in another; it’s always very specific. Velnias was more of a starting point for our crew, as that was the vehicle through which I met Jeff, and Jeff and I met Isaac, Eli, and Morris. Morris has filled in on guitar for a Wayfarer tour, and Isaac has filled in on guitar for a Velnias tour, so everybody is still friends. Even our merch guy (and original SV vocalist) Casey was originally a Velnias roadie back in 2009, and played at my house in Salem way before I’d met any of these guys.


As far as our current bands’ successes, Jeff and I learned a lot about what we like and don’t like about band management during that time. Thankfully I’ve learned from those times and nowadays things operate much more smoothly. Everybody on board knows what we’re trying to do, and we’re all trying to accomplish the same goals.

Have you ever considered naming your coven of demons in order to really plant the flag in the ground?

Haha! Actually Eli and I have been trying to come up with a name since 2011 but all of them are too cheesy. Please do let us know if you think of something.

You’ve been quietly running your own label – Woodsmoke – for a long while now. Why did you start that, rather than let someone else do all the hard work?

Again, this gets back to 2004 and the fact that nobody in Salem, Oregon had any clue about extreme, underground metal, so we were ultimately left with no choice but to start our own imprint. We didn’t get anything released until 2007 for our first tour with Ancestortooth and Vault Dweller. We did a split CD-R as well as a reissue of LEECH’s “Against Leviathan!” demo on CD-R, but of course none of them sold and most were given away to the people who let us stay at their houses on the tour.

I’ve always loved DIY culture and self-released vinyl, home-dubbed tapes, silk-screened shirts, photocopied flyers, snail mail etc. Just the whole thing about the underground – it’s literally the SICKEST!!! So I just wanted to participate and do my best to contribute something to it. It took over a decade for me to get my shit together enough to release my first vinyl (the Spectral Voice/Blood Incantation split 7″) but even that was quite an ordeal and ended up disappearing into obscurity due to chaos and internet fuckery. Now that I’ve got a little more experience, I think the next Woodsmoke release will be really killer! It will just take some time, as the few WS fiends have come to expect anyway, heh. Nothing rests, everything moves…

With having accomplished so much in such a short period of time, what prospects excite you still?

I’m not sure 2002 (when I got my first guitar) to 2018 is considered so short of a period of time, heh, but at least as far as SV/BI are concerned, yeah, we’ve gotten quite a lot done in the last 5 years. Personally I’m endlessly excited about simply releasing records – the whole process is awesome to me, I love the writing, the studio, the layout, the touring, all of that shit. I only really hate the internet meaninglessness and impersonal pseudo-elitist douchery that most punishers think is somehow relevant.


I love touring, but I can’t wait until we get a break for a minute to get back to writing – to totally immerse ourselves and pursue the next records (for both bands). We’ve basically been on the road for two years straight; BI have done 7 tours and SV have done 5 tours in the past three years, in addition to our other bands’ tours like SCOLEX and Wayfarer. I love traveling and can’t wait to see where the bands bring us next.

I just always want to improve; I want the next records to be heavier, the next tapes to be culter, the next shirts to be sicker, etc. There’s no real point in life other than evolution and refinement. Even anthropologically, stasis is death. I just want to explore and create new things that I think are more fitting to the ideas I’m trying to express.

What’s really underneath Antarctica?

Definitely archeological artifacts that will perturb the majority of the present human population’s worldview regarding the nature of their governments, their cultural and religious histories, and the origin of human consciousness.

What’s up next for Paul Riedl?

At the time of this writing I am preparing to leave tomorrow morning for a European festival tour with Blood Incantation. We’ll be playing Brutal Assault, Partysan Open Air, Beyond The Gates, Killtown Deathfest and many others. For KTDF I get to play with Blood Incantation, Scolex, and Spectral Voice – quite a weekend!


After that SV will embark on a full European tour with the mighty gods of DEMILICH!!!!!!! It’s going to be killer. When we get back both SV and BI are playing the Dark Descent 8th Anniversary show on October 20th here in Denver, alongside Cianide, Krypts, Sempiternal Dusk and Adversarial.


After that BI are going into the stargate to finish writing our next record. In the meantime we’re working on a live EP to be released in time for some BIG NEWS in early 2019. With that downtime we are going to start working on other projects like Abysmal Dimensions, Malibilis, Chthonic Deity.

Like I said, stasis is death…


All live photos taken by Factory Worker Media at Covenant Festival II and III