Cassette Label Summit 2014



I’ve spent a lot of time covering cassettes here at THKD, not just because I dig them, but because I truly believe that some of the best and most interesting heavy music today is being released by smaller labels who have embraced the format as an affordable way to bring the underground to the masses.  As such, my relationship with several of these labels has become far more personal than just receiving an e-mail blast from some faceless PR company; their owners have proven to be incredibly personable and genuinely appreciative of the coverage I’ve given them.  But, as deeply as I’ve delved into cassettes and as much as I’ve chatted with those who are in the business of releasing them, I still had many unanswered questions.  What motivates them?  What brought them to the format?  At the end of the day, does the format even matter?  In an attempt to answer these and many other questions, I gathered the gents behind the labels for a virtual round table discussion of all things tape-related.

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Southern California-based label Gore House Productions recently sent me several of their releases for review, and one of the immediate standouts was Ready for Gore, the debut album from Oxnard’s Colpolscopy.  The band employs a unique dual-vocalist approach that when coupled with their leveling low-end-fueled brand of brutal death metal creates a singular, instantly-recognizable approach to the genre.  A full review of the album is coming soon to THKD, but in the meantime I couldn’t resist the opportunity to interrogate the quintet in order to get the full skinny on their beginnings, their motivations, and their thoughts on brutal death metal’s imagery and subject matter.

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Wildernessking-2014-Anke-LootsBack in 2012, South Africa’s Wildernessking came seemingly out of nowhere with The Writing of Gods in the Sand, an album that combined the progressive black metal maelstrom of Enslaved with the sweeping, epic attack of Primordial to create music that was as uplifting and cathartic as it was dark and heavy.  After releasing a follow-up EP that same year, the band went quiet; a surprising move given the notoriety they’d quickly gained on the strength of those two excellent releases.  Fast-forward to 2014 and the Cape Town-based quartet have broken their silence with The Devil Within, an EP that showcases the band at their most scathing; I got in touch with bassist/vocalist Keenan Oakes to discuss this new release and find out what the future has in store for the mighty Wildernessking…

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Narcotic Wasteland is the brainchild of Dallas Toler-Wade, whom will be familiar to most of you as one of the driving forces behind death metal legends Nile.  Far from being a mere side project, Narcotic Wasteland is a technical death metal juggernaut in its own right; their self-titled debut, which was released independently by the band on January 15th, is one of the best albums of the young year, balancing insane levels of musicianship with frightening brutality and gritty lyrics depicting the horrors of addiction.  I contacted the band via e-mail requesting an interview, and all four members of the band graciously took time out of their no-doubt busy-as-hell schedules to answer my questions regarding their formation, the unique subject matter of their lyrics, how the debut album came together and beyond…

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Backlit #2 now unleashed!


Inflicting wound upon wound on the bloated, festering corpse of print.

Summer 2013
Now available at
Cover Art by Brian Smith


Raping Angels in America #3 / Joshua Haun
Fear and Loathing…In Hollywood / Dave Schalek
That’s When I Became A Metalhead – Gene Hoglan / Kyle Harcott
The Rise and Call of the Mastodon / Dean Brown
The Rains of Resurrection / Ian Chainey
Live (Before) Death / Craig Hayes
Red, The Bleeding. The Blood Streams…Von / Dave Schalek
(R)aging Gracefully: Sunbathing in Filth / Jordan Campbell
Doomsday Device #3 / Joshua Haun
Directeur / D. Harlan Wilson
Unearthed: A Conversation With Brian Smith / Brandon Duncan


Joshua Haun
Brandon Duncan

Contributing Writers:
Dean Brown
Jordan Campbell
Ian Chainey
Kyle Harcott
Joshua Haun
Craig Hayes
Dave Schalek

Copy Editor:
Dan Obstkrieg

Brandon Duncan
Adam Palm
Jaci Raia
Roger Strunk
Philip Tyson
Spencer Walker

Interview: SUMMONING


While numerous bands (both heavy metal and otherwise) have drawn lyrical and conceptual inspiration from the works of JRR Tolkien over the years, few if any have managed to translate the late author’s work into music in as singular a fashion as Vienna’s legendary Summoning.  For two decades, the duo of Silenius and Protector have crafted fantastically immersive, utterly entrancing symphonies of synth-heavy, atmospheric black metal inspired by such timeless works as the The Hobbit, The Simarillion and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Over the course of seven full length albums and two EPs, they have transformed this rich literary mythology into a total musical environment that’s both regally breathtaking and strangely melancholic, carving out a style for themselves which is truly theirs and theirs alone, and in turn inspiring a rabidly devoted fanbase.

After over half a decade of silence, the masters of “Austrian epic black metal” are set to return with their best album yet in the form of Old Mornings Dawn, which will be unleashed on June 5th via Napalm Records.  Silenius and Protector were gracious enough to answer my questions via e-mail in advance of the album’s release.
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Darkthrone - PortraitsWhat can I say that hasn’t already been said about the goddamn mighty Darkthrone?  It’s been three years since I last interviewed drummer/co-vocalistFenriz, so naturally I jumped at the chance for a second round of interrogation upon the release of Darkthrone’s sixteenth(!) album, the ridiculously awesome The Underground Resistance.  I mean shit, it isn’t every day you get the chance to interview your favorite fucking band.
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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFinnish sextet Omnium Gatherum is a band that’s been on my radar for many years, but with 2011’s New World Shadows, they went from being a pleasant blip on my screen to a “holy shit it’s coming right for us!” These guys have moved so far ahead of the melodic death metal curve that they’re pretty much in a class by themselves, moving the subgenre ever forward and becoming its undisputed flagship band in the process. In 2013 they’ve set the bar for melo-death once again with Beyond, a downright beautiful juxtaposition of Maiden-esque melody, beastly vocals and a knack for creating music that’s progressive without ever falling victim to sounding overblown of pretentious. I got in contact with OG guitarist Markus Vanhala, to discuss the new album and the band’s plans for world domination in 2013.

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Interview: KATATONIA

Katatonia_band1In the last few years, Katatonia has become one of my favorite bands.  I always liked them well enough, but recently their music has really clicked with me for some reason.  The gloomy atmosphere they so effortlessly create is perfect; dark and depressive yet catchy and somehow beautiful.  The last time they toured the US, I had the pleasure of watching them steal the show from Opeth, and they’ll be hitting the states with their Swedish brethren again in a little less than two weeks in support of their latest album, Dead End Kings.  The fine folks at Fresno Media helped me get in touch with bassist Nille Sandin to briefly discuss the new album and the upcoming tour.
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I must admit, I was late to the party on Brown Jenkins; I didn’t hear them until the inimitable Nathan T. Birk sent me a copy of Death Obsession while he was doing PR work for the once prominent black metal label Moribund Cult. I fell instantly in love with the band’s spellbinding attack, which blended elements of black metal, doom and gothic rock with an appropriately Lovecraftian sense of dread and crumbling sanity. I gave the album a glowing review for the now-defunct Sonic Frontiers(dot)net and subsequently came into contact with band mastermind Umesh Amtey. That correspondence blossomed into a friendship that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying for several years now; although Amtey and I have never met in person, I consider him a close comrade and look forward to the day when we can raise our glasses together in the same room.

As a result of our friendship, I’ve had the distinct privilege of watching the next phase of Amtey’s musical journey come into being. The Ash Eaters shares some traits with Brown Jenkins, but is an all together different beast. The guitar-work is more complex, the arrangements are more frantic, attacking the listener from every direction, while at the same time remaining catchy and memorable; Amtey has drawn from a wide range of influences and pushed them forward in every way imaginable.

I’ve been waiting for my chance to interview Mr. Amtey, so when he finally gave Ruining You, the debut Ash Eaters full length, to the world after a string of shorter releases, I knew the time had finally come. While I’ve had many private conversations with him regarding his musical history, motivations, influences, etc, I wanted to afford my readers the same opportunity to learn more about this truly unique individual and the excellent music he’s been releasing over the past several years. I contacted Mr. Amtey via e-mail for the following interrogation.

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