Mammoth Grinder juggle ranks, return with destructive blast of punk-death on ‘Cosmic Crypt’

Photo by Jillian Keats

I’m not one of those people who supports the notion that one hasn’t lived until being punched in the face. That’s just stupid. You should actively avoid getting punched in the face, or anywhere on your body for that matter. I got punched in the face at a festival once, and I couldn’t do anything about it because, you know, I didn’t want to get arrested in another state. Or any state. But it sucked. Don’t let it happen.

Anyway, this new Mammoth Grinder feels like getting punched in the face 11 times. Your teeth will hurt after this even if you didn’t get slugged there. It’s from all the clenching from anticipating blows designed to put you down, all from this reconfigured band that seems not to have your best interest in mind. These punches are OK, though, because they are metaphorical but none the less impactful. We sustain them because it’s nice to have the band back after a five-year wait and because “Cosmic Crypt” is such a barnburner of a record. You have 11 tracks that fly by in a little more than 28 minutes, and each track packs a powder keg of a blast that will leave bruising. While the music won’t feel all that different from what greeted us on their last album “Underworlds” or even something such as “Extinction of Humanity,” the group that made it changed a lot. The only holdover is guitarist/vocalist Chris Ulsh (also of Power Trip), and joining him now are bassist Mark Bronzino (Iron Reagan, ANS) and drummer Ryan Parrish (also of Iron Reagan, and formerly of Darkest Hour, Disinterment, etc.), forming a crushing trio that wastes no time getting a lot of shit done.

“Grimmerstein” gets things going in a hurry as a noise haze builds and is shattered by grinding, punching death metal. The guitars have an awesome groove, as they’re doomy, fiery, and leave the earth scorched. “Servant of the Most High” has mauling fury and gloomy punishment, with cavernous growls and molten riffs liquefying rock. The soloing burns brightly while the track comes to a thrashy, savage end. “Blazing Burst” is aptly titled, with riffs coming at you rapid fire and a speedy burst pacing this monstrous assault. Thickness lays in toward the end, giving the track a sunburst sludginess like Black Tusk. “Divine Loss” strikes and leaves in a hurry, a 1:44 bruiser that smears your blood on your face and lets the blows rain down. “Molotov” ignites immediately, with calculated drums, fire-breathing guitar work, and a stomping pace leaving no guts unstomped. “Superior Firepower” has a different feel to it, with a humid pace setting in before shit is blown apart. Later, the track gets thrashy and menacing, with the growls chewing at your wounds.

“Human Is Obsolete” is muddy and thick, as the band trudges through the muck before finding their speed again. From there, burly riffs cycle into the song, and the track is dragged to a grime-infested, doomy death. “Locust’s Nest” swarms from the start, pounding hard while riffs churn away. This feels like it’s aiming to coat the ground in hot ash, as the back-end dissolves into noise. “Mysticism” is heavy and sticky, with thunderous terror doing its best to leave a crater behind, and the vocals feeling like they’re caving in your head. The intensity bashes skulls over its final minute, and then it’s on to “Rotting Robes” and its sinister, filthy riffs. The place is fluid and dangerous, with the leads bursting into flames, and the end feeling like a heavy steel gate dropping over your chest. The closing title track has guitars rumbling, growls echoing in space, and the leads blaring into madness. The vocals sound like they’re scraping the inside of Ulsh’s throat with a razor before the cut gets in a last blast before disappearing into an echo chamber.

While you won’t undergo any real bodily harm from the band, you’re bound to be bruised mentally once Mammoth Grinder are finished with you on “Cosmic Crypt.” Don’t let that spacey, adventurous title fool you. You won’t feel like you’re floating in the stars or lost in your imagination. You’ll feel like you’ve been take down, pulverized, and left to bleed out. And you’re bound to love every minute of it.

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Jute Gyte, Spectral Voice find inspiration in ‘Helian,’ leading to moving, reflective split release

Just a couple months ago, we watched the life drained from leaves, trees, and all green life here in the Northeastern United States, and in many other regions as well. What once was a period brimming with warmth, life, and promise was left to fade to drab nothingness before winter could apply its chokehold. Themes of death, societal collapse, and spirituality are in the mix, and it’s a piece that should push anyone at any stage of life to reflect.

This is one of the concepts of “Helian,” the 1913 poem written by Austrian expressionist Georg Trakl, and that 93-line poem stood as one of the most painful pieces its creator ever brought into the world. It’s a piece of work that resonates still today, and it moved two equally creative black metal forces to combine and consider what it all means now. Using the text as inspiration, U.S.-based band Jute Gyte and Greek artist Spectral Lore combined for one of the more interesting split efforts you’re going to find. Each band composed a song called “Helian,” bringing to the release their own work driven by Trakl’s words, and what results are two songs that could not be more different or fascinating. Each artist found a different road, and that fuels this 41-minute, two-track package that’s a must-hear for those with a challenging metallic palette.

Jute Gyte is the vision of sole creator Adam Kalmbach, and under this banner he has been, let’s say, widely prolific. That’s probably not doing his workload any justice. To his credit, he has 27 full-length efforts in just a little over 15 years, and countless other smaller releases such as this one. The crazy thing is with that amount of work, you’d expect his music would have gotten monotonous and less challenging over time, but he never falls into that trap. His contribution to this split is no exception, as it is warped, psychedelic, punishing, and thought provoking over its 20 minutes, and it should give you a slight glimpse into his creative space if you’re new to Jute Gyte.

This song starts off with quivering playing, weird guitars, and stirring melodies, immediately cluing you into the changed environment in which you’ve entered. Harsh growls pile on top of the hypnotic melodies, while the warped pace blends into blurry weirdness, leaving your awareness damaged. Things feel out of control psychologically, as fucked-up playing and deranged, scary expressions send terror down your spine. A heave of quiet is met by strangled strings, eerie clouds, and an eruption that leads toward playing that’ll have the room spinning around you. The final minutes sink into mournful melodies, strange inhibitions, and a slurring, staggering path that leaves your head buzzing.

Spectral Lore also is a solo venture, with Ayloss handling all creative aspects from the project’s birth in 2005 until now. We’ve had a bit of a drought from this camp when it comes to full-lengths, as Ayloss delivered his last in 2014, the powerful and invigorating “III” that we still have rolling in our heads to this day. Spectral Lore counts three other full-lengths under its roof, as well as numerous smaller releases the past with few years including a trio of EPs and a split with Nachtreich. Ayloss, like Kalmbach, also finds a way to not repeat himself, and his atmospheric black metal never fails to move mountains, even if just in our minds, when we take on his music. He does that again on his 21:28-long offering here.

Serenity and blue hues greet you at the gates, and from there, a doomy pace unloads, as creaking singing spills, and lurching growls scrape the ground. The pain in the song is evident, as the song goes on a psychedelic trip, and bizarre playing sends you for a loop. Things get a little strange, letting the song seemingly fade away, but on the other side, we’re met with riffs cutting through the calm, and classic death metal-style playing igniting feelings of nostalgia. The song heads into a dangerous stampede from there, defacing everything in front of it before classical guitar playing evens the pace, and noise carves a path swallowed by the menace waiting for it in the distance. The track goes off again, as chaos and growls swarm and blind, and trippy noises spread overhead. The final minutes feel freeform, like Ayloss was letting his muse guide him, and it all ends hovering around in outer space.

Splits always are worthy pieces for multiple reasons, whether it’s to get a quick taste of a band you didn’t know or to get something a little unexpected from a group with which you’re familiar. “Helian” is all of that and more, as it gives you two like-minded bands taking an inspiration point and coming to the table with very different readings. Add to that both songs are stunners, black metal like you won’t hear in very many places other than here.

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PICK OF THE WEEK: Watain’s black madness rushes back to surface on violent ‘Trident Wolf Eclipse’

If a band is around long enough and is fortunate to release more than a couple albums, eventually that one thing is going to come that divides its listeners and sows doubt among those who worshipped blindly at the altar before. For Watain, that album was “The Wild Hunt.”

The band’s fourth album was released in 2013, and it wasn’t exactly a collection that those who loved “Casus Luciferi” and “Sworn to the Dark” could have imagined this band creating. But let’s not dwell on that record and instead tackle the band’s new fifth album “Trident Wolf Eclipse,” a collection that should put a smile on anyone’s face who wanted more of what Watain last accomplished on a record such as 2010’s “Lawless Darkness” or the aforementioned efforts. This is a savage, massive album, one that grabs you by the throat from moment one and refuses to let go. This is a total return to form for the band—the core members are vocalist/bassist Erik Danielsson, guitarist Pelle Forsberg, and drummer Hakan Jonsson, though their Facebook attributes additional guitars to S and bass work to A—as it’s a thunderous, bloodthirsty record that fans the flames of black metal heathenism all over again. On this record, the sinister riffs are tearing at your flesh anew, the vocals are destructive and deadly, and the slowest thing you’ll hear is a mid-tempo track that still smashes your knuckles.

Opener and first single “Nuclear Alchemy” is the ideal three-minute start, a thunderous track that crushes the earth beneath it and reintroduces the world to the band’s madness. It’s a perfect way to start the record and should excite the fuck out of anyone who hears it. “Sacred Damnation” has riffs rolling through hell, as fierce growls and rhythmic pounding upend your senses, and guitars spit black melodies. The track ramps up harder toward its back end, while the pace splatters, and the band catches you in the gears of its thrashy assault. “Teufelsreich” dumps pure terror into the air with atmospheric riffs, and then we’re into dogged savagery that keeps upping the ante and landing major punches. Danielsson’s raspy growls open wounds, as he leads a strong chorus that will stick in your head, and humid guitars follow him and ring out to the end. “Furor Diabolicus” has raw, yet fluid guitars, as the band unleashes a stampeding pace, with a chorus that destroys. “Wrath of the gods!” Danielsson wails, with the band bringing things to a traumatic end. “A Throne Below” is sweltering, with sinister melodies and a melodic attack that storms down. The guitars twist as Danielsson unleashes his maniacal growls, and the song comes to a mesmerizing end.

“Ultra (Pandemoniac)” has guitars burning and burly riffs doing damage, while the band goes a thrashy path again, and Eriksson growls monstrously. There’s a nice classic metal feel to the guitar work later, bringing on the fires of black metal nostalgia. Yet later, they moan underneath the carnage, as wild cackles send the track into hell. “Towards the Sanctuary” is blinding as hell, as a damaging tempo and infectious vocals get under your skin. The drums pulverize, while the riffs rain down chaos, and this track arguably is the second best on here. “The Fire of Power” is a middle-paced puncher that has Danielsson howling of actions “to illuminate the darkness of the mind.” The band runs in place here a bit at times, as this is the only track where the true Watain power isn’t clear. But it’s not bad and does lead toward the bizarre finish “Antikrists Mirakel.” This is primarily an instrumental cut, and a mind-altering one at that, as thorny riffs and eerie calls combine to send chills. Some of the melodies are mournful, while others are stormy, and it all builds to a finale that manages to put an elegant sheen on apocalypse, grinding the track into eternal mystery.

Watain’s chest-crushing black metal sounds savage and purely evil again, and “Trident Wolf Eclipse” is a record that will reassure those misled by “The Wild Hunt” that the true fires are burning again. I don’t fault Watain for their last record at all. I’d rather a band give me a disappointing record they mean than a heavy one they don’t. Luckily, you can tell them absolutely mean every ounce of “Trident,” and it’s the best thing they’ve offered up in the past eight years.

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Entheogen turn inward, explore subconsciousness with dizzying smasher ‘Without Veil, Nor Self’

It’s not often that black metal challenges you from an inward perspective. Look, I love this style of music as much as the next person, but how often does it demand personal, psychological challenges where you are forced to confront your true self and break down the way you see and do things?

The band Entheogen is changing that perspective, and their debut record “Without Veil, Nor Self” is a six-track exercise in letting your mind explore your true essence. An entheogen is a psychoactive substance that induces an experience that is aimed at spiritual development (according to Wikipedia, which is accurate 100 percent of the time), and the word is derived from Greek, meaning “generating God within.” Guitarist Steven Blackburn (also of Chaos Moon) describes the music as “an emanation from the depths of my own subconscious,” and it’s clear when you dig into the record, you’ll be able to take the trip right along him and the rest of the band—vocalist/lyricist Alex Poole (Chaos Moon, Skáphe, Martröđ), bassist Bradley Tiffin (Haunter), and drummer Jack Blackburn (Chaos Moon, Accursed Aeons, Esoterica). The music is heavy but mesmerizing, leaving your senses ravaged from the initial onslaught but wholly transformed if you take the trip with them.

“I. Desolation Lyre” sits in strange noises before blasting open, with melodic savagery coming at you in waves and harsh wails dicing skin. The music crushes and dizzies, as strange dissonance spills into the scene, crazed howls pound, and the song rumbles to an end. “II. Sol Genesis” is blistering and cold at the start, as strangeness hovers overhead, and then the clouds burst. The odd pace disorients before drilling into the side of your head, and the vocals go from piercing shriek to guttural growls. The music then begins to destroy, as the drumming clobbers, and everything comes to a weird end. “III. Sol Knell” greets you with speed and fury, as grim vocals and churning guitars meet and mix signals. The playing mesmerizes before it hits a frenetic pace, and the band works to overpower you with strength before the song ends in horrifying echoes.

The fourth portion is the title cut, and it immediately drops the hammer on you, as wild howls swirl away, and cold desolation chills your bones. The drumming again powders your brain, while chaos unfurls, and the track disappears into an icy black hole. “V. Lethean Throat” unloads, paving the way for creaky growls and a smearing pace. The guitars splatter before a wintry mix arrives, and you are immersed in blistering madness and wooshing melodies. The back end is comprised of sinister vocals and stabbing playing, bleeding toward album closer “VI. Pall” and its mentally disfiguring approach. Engorging growls and twisted melodies confound but also leaves a chill, and then we’re into spacey oddness that spills into eerie synth. The track breaks open again, letting in a wave of wrenching growls, destructive drumming, and trickling guitar work as everything dissolves and flows away.

Entheogen aren’t serving up brutality for its own sake, and if your only desire for black metal is barbarism, you may have come to the wrong place. “Without Veil, Nor Self” is a mind-melting album that liquifies your inhibitions and makes you consider these dark arts in a completely different way. You’ll get your dose of heaviness, yes, but it’s cut with sounds that pull you into a vortex of mystery of which you only can make sense if you commit to the full experience.

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Austrian duo Summoning return spreading Tolkien’s folklore on fantastical ‘With Doom We Come’

It’s unlikely that when J.R.R. Tolkien was writing his classic stories about Middle Earth that he knew his works would go on to influence a countless number of metal bands. Maybe he knew about Led Zeppelin’s allegiance before his death in 1973, but no way he realized the slew of metal artists who would adopt his stories for songs and band names.

One of the most ardent defenders of Middle Earth has been Austrian duo Summoning, who have devoted a quarter century of work to celebrating Tolkien’s creations. The band has returned after a five-year absence on “With Doom We Come,” an eight-track, 65-minute record that unfurls their dreamy, synth-driven black metal even deeper than ever before, piling glory and emotion into their strange transmissions. The band long has been the dream of Protector (vocals, guitars, synth, drum programming) and Silenius (vocals, keyboards, bass), who have been making their interesting blend of metal since 1993, releasing eight records along the way, including this new one. We haven’t heard from them since 2013’s landmark “Old Mornings Dawn,” though their long periods of silence between records isn’t exactly a new thing. Before “Dawn” they hadn’t released a full album since 2006’s “Oath Bound,” so it’s clear it takes some time for their music to marinate.

“Tar-Calion” begins the record unfurling the story of the final king of Numenor before the land was swallowed into the sea, as dramatic drumming drubs and stern dialog states, “Only his death or mine will end the cycle.” We know how that ended. Guitars cut in, synth fogs gather, and the track comes to an end that feels like the final battle in an old castle. “Silvertine” has drumming and percussion leading into guitars lighting up, maniacal growls, and horns blowing as if signaling doom. Gothy keys mix in, while the singing on the chorus is infectious, and the melodies spiral over and over again. “Carcharoth” is named after a great werewolf brought along by Morgoth, and it starts with guitars pushing and growly singing. Horns and whistles make the song feel like one inspired by an old pirate ship, while the singing pushes the narrative, ending the tale in sinewy violence. “Herumor” simmers in murky keys, as grim growls and dulcimer hammer out the melody, giving it a chambery feel. Horns sound out as angelic backing vocals rise. Keys trickles away, and a rousing chorus gets into your blood and refuses to leave.

“Barrow-downs” is one of the shorter cuts at 2:47, an instrumental containing plucked strings, marching horns, and chants, as it sounds like an infantry is marching through the low hills. “Night Fell Behind” tears open with sinister riffs and ragged singing, with the mood altered with a splash of keys. Loud knocks disrupt any calm, while sweeping vocals and grittier playing give the track a rougher finish. “Mirklands” is the second-longest song, an 11-minute epic where synth, emotion-rich melodies, and knocking beats surround the gruff declaration of, “Good-bye, proud world, I’m going home.” Psychedelic strings lather the song in strangeness, while the pace keeps punishing, the keys create a disorienting mist, and the track storms out into the darkness. The closing title cut is the lengthiest song at 11:18, and it comes in on a bed of classic strings, harsh singing, and lush flutes that amplify the sense of wonder. There is a stretch that feels like a 1970s-style folk song, and that pushes into spirited group singing envisioning the falls of The Elder King Manwe and his wife Varda, as the tempo stomps out the record’s remaining fires.

Summoning’s fantasy-driven, dream-state world gets another new chapter on “With Doom We Come,” an album that keeps the band’s traditions solid but also adds new curves. Their music never was a mass appeal thing, as their sound has more of a niche appeal, but to a loyal audience. But that hasn’t stopped them from amassing followers and releasing music that keeps your mind and heart racing to see where the drama takes you into the lore of Middle Earth.

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Nortt reemerges after 10 years with darkly depressing emotion, cavernous sorrow on ‘Endeligt’

It’s a new year, and people’s attitudes mostly are at their brightest. The page has turned, and everything that built up and held us down in the previous 12 months can be washed away. We can look ahead to things being different, and positive thoughts are brimming.

So, with that in mind, we probably could have begun the coverage year with a record a bit shinier than Nortt’s “Endeligt,” the project’s first new sounds in a decade and one of the more depressing pieces of music unleashed in some time. I know that sounds a bit hyperbolic, but when you take on these nine songs, you’ll know exactly what we’re on about. Over these 39 minutes, the sole creator Nortt unravels slow, dreary, draining tracks of black funeral doom dressed in dripping piano notes and horrifying cries. This is the project’s first music since 2007’s “Galgenfrist,” and it landed in our laps just days ago before 2017 breathed its last. It’s Nortt’s fourth full-length overall, and it will shroud you in darkness that doesn’t let go until the final track fades away.

“Andægtigt Dødsfald” has a strange atmosphere as it starts, as churning doom opens and spills, and pianos begin drizzling. Deep growls make the earth shake, as the slowly devastating doom rolls on, ended with funeral bells. “Lovsang Til Mørket” opens in eeriness, with the guitars unloading blackness, and the melodies feeling mournful. The track lurches and scrapes the ground before bleeding to its finish. “Kisteglad” is a short instrumental that chews into the nerves and leaves your body writhing, leading into “Fra Hæld Til Intet,” where howls echo, and clean guitars soak the ground. The ache spreads, while pianos drizzle, and the growls creep into your chest and punish your ribcage. The song seems like it’s heading toward its end, but it reemerges with monstrous growls and a depressive last stretch.

“Eftermæle” keeps the slow, icy pace intact, with the growls bubbling under the surface, and the pianos even further darkening the mood. Slow drumming keeps drubbing as black clouds collect overhead and block out the sun. “Afdø” is immersed in clean guitars before the bottom drops out, and emotional melodies well up. The growls lather and roll through elegant sadness, while the melodies thicken your blood in the veins, leaving you a plodding mess. “Gravrøst” is another instrumental, this one built with cavernous pounding, a funereal tempo, and noise collecting and eventually fading out. “Støv For Vinden” is windy and chilly when it starts, like winter reaching through your layers and reddening your flesh. A moody haze sets up, while gripping growls and dark piano let blood drops fall. The song changes itself halfway through, as things manage to get even more depressing amid a flood of warm electrics. The closing title track is utterly frigid, unleashing echo-rich pounding and shivering guitar work. It’s easy to imagine snow collecting on the ground, burying all life and refusing to relinquish its control, with all life disappearing into a void.

Fittingly, “Endeligt” translates into “finally” in English, and that’s a word a lot of people (ourselves included) likely exclaimed when Nortt reentered the world. This is music that won’t help to establish happy and helpful New Year’s resolutions and instead will push you further into your cave. This is an emotionally, psychologically heavy package, a creation only Nortt could have given the world.

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1. YELLOW EYES, ‘Immersion Trench Reverie’ (Gilead Media/Sibir Records)

It’s been a long year, and tons and tons of records have been accessed, processed, and released from memory. That’s just the way, considering how much music is unleashed each year, so when we get to the end, it’s nice to sit back and immerse ourselves in the work that meant the most to us and had the most profound impact. This year, sitting atop that list is Yellow Eyes’ stunning “Immersion Trench Reverie,” a record that’s hard to describe but easy to embrace.

It’s also difficult to explain Yellow Eyes to someone who hasn’t encountered them before. Simply labeling them a black metal band is not enough because they go beyond that sub-genre descriptor. This band, long helmed by brothers Will and Sam Skarstad and joined by bassist Alex DeMaria and drummer M. Rekevics, makes hypnotic, strange, and powerful sounds that aren’t really paying homage to any era of black metal and instead exist in a plane all its own. This record, their fourth full-length document, builds on the foundation they have laid in the past and constructs a monolith to the sky brimming with gold charges and frosty white ambiance, feeling like an ideal collection for this winter we’re in. But it really can shine through at any time. The music here is surrounded by field noises the Skarstad brothers captured on a trip to Siberia, and that oddness and desolation, the sounds of active villages and bootsteps crunching the snow, help pull you into their atmosphere and experience a world many never have before. It’s a record that’s like none other not just in black metal, but in metal as a whole. These guys have been doing things that way since their start, and they continue to invent new ways to devastate and captivate at the same time.

Guitarist/vocalist Will Skarstad took time to answer our questions about this record, how their time in Siberia colored the songs, and how the cabin studio they inhabit for each recording works its way into their music. Many thanks to him for his responses and for the band for creating our favorite metal record of the year. (Oct. 20)

MEAT MEAD METAL: We are naming “Immersion Trench Reverie” one of our top 5 favorite metal albums of the year. Right off the bat, what does the title of the record signify to the band?

WILL SKARSTAD: Sam is responsible for the lyrics and song titles. Unfortunately, this is Will writing. Let’s just say it’s open to interpretation.

MMM: Much of the sounds and especially field recordings are from your time spent in Siberia. Talk a little bit about that experience and how it colored the record? Did you know when you went you were looking for inspiration for new music?

WS: I’ve spent years going back and forth to Siberia, so I’m fairly comfortable with how weird it is at this point. Having Sam there gave me new perspective though; we were able to interpret the strangeness together in real time. It’s a crazy place, and there’s rarely an explanation for why. From finding fresh bullet shells outside our apartment to having the temperature dip 70 degrees in a few hours one night, we were always off kilter. We knew a new record was on the horizon, but being there is so intense that we weren’t exactly sitting around talking about riffs. Fighting bouts of insomnia, drinking vodka with strangers who looked at us like we were zoo animals, and coping with constant darkness and cold were what occupied our time and thoughts.

MMM: The music on the record feels very frigid and icy. Is that attributed to the Siberia trip, or is that how the music formed organically?

WS: Ultimately, I don’t know that the trip impacted the songs themselves; many of the riffs were written before we left. We knew that we wanted to gather Siberian field recordings for the album; this was purposeful. As the record started coming together, we realized our experiences in Krasnoyarsk created an appropriate theme for the record, but that most obviously emerged lyrically and in the transitions between songs. I like to think that our songwriting would have become more adventurous regardless.

MMM: I often find the band’s music entrancing and hypnotic (especially during “Shrillness in the Heated Grass” and “Jubilat”). Where does that element come from, and how do you feel it balances out the harsher sides of the music?

WS: It’s hard for me to say. I think that the way our riffs weave together can create some sort of dizzying effect, but it can’t be like that all the time. We strive to write balanced songs. Each type of riff is in service to an alternate feeling one, hopefully. We spend most of our energy trying to get the songs to flow. It’s more about the story a song tells as a whole and less about rapid-fire riffs or something like that.

MMM: As usual, this record was recorded in the same Connecticut cabin you used for past releases. Yet the music sounds different and has progressed from your past work. Does that cabin provide an element of comfort? How does the band keep changing within those same confines?

WS: Every note is scrutinized before we head up to record. Once we’re up there we are free; we just have to hit the notes. Unlike a traditional studio, we have no time limitations and no distractions. The progression of our sound happens in the months and months of basically free association riff-writing, typically done in the city or wherever. We’ll pull from about 3 hours of material before we start working on song structures. I don’t ever want to feel comfortable or fall back on an “appropriate” sounding part. It’s inevitable, but we try to avoid it.

MMM: This is your second release with Gilead Media. How do you feel about that relationship, especially since the band did so much on its own for a long time?

WS: It’s great. It makes our lives a lot easier. We still release cassettes and make shirts, pins etc. I feel very involved with the physical releases, but I wouldn’t be able to handle shipping records on top of everything else. It’s also amazing to be in a record store and see our record on the shelves. I don’t know how to do that.

MMM: The band has some big things coming up this year with older material being reissued and the Migration Fest appearance. What else does the band have in store in 2018?

Back to Europe in April for Roadburn, then hopefully as far into Eastern Europe as possible for some shows to round out the trip. Working on it all now. Also, always writing new music.

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