Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Until the Light Takes Us is a feature-length documentary from filmmakers Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell. The film was assembled from footage shot over a two-year period in which the filmmakers lived and hung out in Norway, the “birthplace” of black metal. The infamous history surrounding the genre is covered in detail through interviews conducted with guys like Fenriz from DARKTHRONE, Abbath and Demonaz from IMMORTAL, Frost from SATYRICON, Varg from BURZUM (interviewed from prison) and Hellhammer from MAYHEM. For people unfamiliar with the Norwegian scene and the major players, the documentary might seem to be lacking in key details, as well as unfocused and vague as far its true intention and purpose. At the same time, for fans and people who have followed the genre’s past, many of the stories and information will be redundant, from the rise of MAYHEM and visionary member Euronymous, who opened the first black metal record store in Oslo called “Helvete”, to the rash of church burnings in the early 90’s, leading to Varg’s murder of Euronymous and subsequent incarceration. In addition to treading mostly familiar ground that’s been covered many times over, the film’s production values are evident right away. It’s obvious the filmmakers didn’t have a large budget to work with. Nonetheless, the film has a rugged, ad-hoc charm that’s engaging. Often times utilizing a light electronica score featuring bands like MUM and BOARDS OF CANADA, the film has a melancholic tone and seems to come across as nostalgic for the simpler and purer era in which the music was born. Several times the filmmakers use music and montage to make points; during one segment a raw black metal track is heard while the footage cuts between corporate logos, fast food chains, and trendy retailers around Norway, emphasizing the dichotomy between the roots of this fringe music and the antithesis of what it stands for: global corporate infiltration and takeover.
Perhaps the most engaging aspect of the film is the casual, “fly-on-the-wall” nature of the footage. From the cameras point of view, we hang out with Fenriz in a candid, day-in-the-life type of manner; we follow him at home, riding a train, visiting an art gallery, and having a drink at the bar. Also compelling is Varg Vikernes, who at times is charismatic, funny, thoughtful, and very articulate, and other times seems cold, calculating, and without scruples, particularly when he describes the night he murdered Euronymous.
For me however, the most riveting and shocking moment comes late in the film, when we journey to Italy with Frost for a “performance” at an art gallery. It’s humorous to see Frost get on a plane looking very menacing with his black leather jacket and long black hair, and a small boy next to him looking terrified as Frost maintains a stoic and psychotic expression. When Frost arrives at the gallery and the performance begins, things get more serious. He states in his interview that he is not afraid to be self-destructive for a project he is interested in, and that he intends to give the audience “a sign that something is wrong”. After breathing fire and setting ablaze all of the art and drawings in the gallery, he uses a large butcher knife and begins hacking and stabbing a couch while the crowd of 100 or so watch. He then sits on the couch and places the tip of the knife on his wrist, and with apparent force he slices up the length of his forearm and begins bleeding profusely. Then he does the same thing to the side of his neck before sliding lifelessly into the couch, saturated in his own blood which has formed a large puddle on the floor. It’s totally gut-wrenching and difficult to shake, as the scene just stays with you long after the film ends.

The Special Edition 2-Disc DVD and Blu-ray are packed with bonus materials, including much more documentary and interview footage with the above mentioned musicians, as well as a number of them not featured in the film. One of the highlights of the bonus content for me, however, is a 45-minute “History of Black Metal” class with Fenriz. Taking place in a bonafide classroom, Fenriz uses text and diagrams on a very large chalkboard to outline the roots and origins of the sub-genre, beginning with BLACK SABBATH, 1970. For non-fans, this is a massive amount of information to plod through, but for people into the music it’s a fascinating lesson and got me seeking out lots of bands that I had missed or wasn’t aware of. You have to give Fenriz props; the guy knows his shit.

I would recommend this film to anyone interested in black metal and the Norwegian scene. The film strides forward bravely as it takes on the difficult task of appealing to fans of the music while also bringing the uninitiated up to speed. Again, for fans much of the history covered here will not be anything new, and the low-budget quality is obvious but perhaps appropriate for the subject matter. The opportunity to get a glimpse into what daily life is like for these Norwegian musicians is worth it, however, and the closest most of us will come to experiencing their world. It conveys a listless sort of longing without becoming depressing or overly sentimental, and whether you agree with the attitudes and actions of these individuals or not, you cannot deny the profound impact their music continues to have.
I suggest not screwing around and picking up the 2-disc DVD or Blu-ray. Chances are if you are curious about the film or have seen it and have decided to buy, you’ll find the extra content worth the purchase.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Recent Activities

Lots going on around here. We've been very busy with gradual but steady developments on a bunch of new releases.

HARASSOR - vinyl edition of the first self-titled demo is in the process of getting mastered and released via Ovrcast here in Los Angeles. We've got some vinyl-exclusive tracks to add created just for this release.
We also just wrapped a killer recording session with the great multi-faceted Bobb Bruno of Best Coast. Next is the mixing stage and coordinating for release...

LORD FOUL - CD edition of "Killing Raping Burning" is available from Forever Plagued Records. Vinyl edition coming soon from Dais Records in LA with new cover art. Master is ready and art/layout is currently being assembled...
The first official LORD FOUL t-shirts are also being prepped, with new art created by VICE cartoonist Johnny Ryan...

PICKLE - CD-R of "I Have Come To Cum" demo 1994 reissue available now at the Rising Beast webstore. PICKLE was an ultra-retarded noisecore band I did from 1993-1994. This CD-R release has not only the never-before released demo #2, it includes demo #1 as a bonus, with all-new art by yours truly.

MOONKNIGHT - "Toplov", the first release from my new jackhammer shoegaze black metal project almost available. Cassette edition from Universal Consciousness, CD-R edition from Rising Beast. 40 minutes of raw, distorted, and hateful black metal with punk and thrash elements, and occasional shoegaze guitar riffing. Like ILDJARN or BONE AWL crossed with ALCEST or MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Very excited about this one!

PRAY FOR NOW - "Inheliopic" debut album...cassette and CD-R editions

DARGAR - side project of Pete Majors from HARASSOR and myself coming soon...

Also, new website for Rising Beast will serve as a portal to all our activites, coming soon. Please check out www.risingbeast.bigcartel.com to get some of the above releases and alot more.

Thanks and stay evil,
Roach [[[HORUS]]] James

Monday, September 13, 2010


Reviews by ROACH [[[HORUS]]] JAMES

ALCEST – Ecailles de Lune (Prophecy Productions)
The latest from the new wave of French black metal (including MUTIILATION, PESTE NOIRE, FORGOTTEN WOODS, and many more), ALCEST is the creation of one man who goes by the name of Neige (French for “snow”). Neige has had his hand in many great French bands like MORTIFERA, LANTLOS, and the genre-bending goth rock/black metal band AMESOEURS (all of which I strongly recommend), but those projects almost seem like practice runs for his solo project ALCEST.
ALCEST began as another necro black metal band, albeit with some real beauty and melancholy creeping into the riffing style. On the EP “Le Secret”, Neige began incorporating more of the atmospheric “shoegaze” sound of bands like MY BLOODY VALENTINE, which culminated with the first ALCEST full-length “Souvenirs D’un Autre Monde”, an album featuring very little black metal elements. With “Ecailles De Lune”, Neige takes a step back towards his black metal roots, achieving an absolutely perfect blend of dreamy, listless melodies and vicious, epic black metal. The production is a noticeable improvement over the last album, with a little more polish, and the vocals alternate between soft, gorgeous, clean harmonies and sick, high-pitched shrieking. Neige has taken on the massively difficult task of marrying polar-opposite musical styles, and in succeeding, ALCEST may be regarded as truly groundbreaking and a potential beacon for extreme metal’s future.

BURZUM – Belus (Byelobog Productions)
The most controversial man in metal, released from prison nary a year ago, has wasted no time in returning to the genre which he helped to define. In case you don’t know the story, in the early 90’s Varg Vikernes aka “Count Grishnakh” committed multiple crimes including church arsons in Norway and ultimately the 1993 murder of former MAYHEM member Euronymous, the latter of which landed him a prison sentence. After serving 16 years of the 21 year sentence, he was released back out into the world in May 2009.
Varg has long been considered one of the primary creative forces behind the Second Wave of Black Metal that emerged in the early 90’s. His band BURZUM remains one of the most influential black metal bands of all time, with albums like “Aske”, “Det Som Engang Var”, “Hvis Lyset Tar Oss”, and finally “Filosofem”, which was being completed at the time of Euronymous’s death. Varg used a simple, yet hypnotic, riffing style and a raw, buzzing guitar tone that reeked of evil and created a powerfully sinister atmosphere. BURZUM can not only be held accountable for much of what is considered the “black metal” sound and aesthetic that has been endlessly imitated over the years, but can also arguably be considered the founder of sub-genres like forest black metal (DRUDKH, MARBLEBOG) and depressive black metal (ABYSSIC HATE, I SHALT BECOME, XASTHUR).
So now what, with the historical context illuminated, may we expect from the new BURZUM album “Belus”? It would seem that Varg was intent to pick up right where he left off (ignoring his 2 prison synth albums, “Hlidskjalf” and “Daudi Balders”), as “Belus” opens right away (after a brief Intro) with Varg’s distinctly repetitive trademark riffing style, accomplished blast-beat and double-bass drumming, and genuinely creepy atmosphere. The vocals are the familiar high-pitched shriek he has used in the past, although the entirety of the lyrics are again in Norwegian. Ultimately, while “Belus” doesn’t necessarily break new ground, Varg has put together a worthy successor to his past works that will be sure to please die-hard fans.

DARKTHRONE – Circle the Wagons (Peaceville Records)
Well it’s that frostbitten time again when we get a new DARKTHRONE album, and if you enjoyed the last 3 albums (“The Cult is Alive”, “F.O.A.D.”, and “Dark Thrones and Black Flags”) you will probably dig this as well. They are obviously pioneers of the classic black metal sound, but they also have never had any problems with doing their own thing and deviating from the black metal “blueprint” so to speak, moving into realms of punk, speed metal, and hard rock. They recorded “Circle the Wagons” themselves, with a very intentional production aesthetic, which is deliberately raw and rough around the edges. Drummer Fenriz has gradually taken on more vocal duties, and on this new album the tracks are pretty much half Fenriz vocals and half Nocturno Culto, and I must admit, I find myself enjoying the Fenriz tracks a lot. He even does a lot of “clean” vocals and reveals a knack for catchy melodies and lyrics, even though he’s not always on key, but the enthusiasm is there. Lyrically, they again have moved away from darker themes and focus on defining what “true” metal is and the destruction of the modern nu-metal sound.
If you are just discovering or getting interested in this band, this may not be the album for you. You might want to start with an early one like “Under a Funeral Moon” (my personal favorite) or the much lauded “Transilvanian Hunger”, and then work your way forwards to “Circle the Wagons”, to appreciate where they came from versus where they are now. But if you want to dive in and take a chance, “Circle the Wagons” ultimately delivers the goods and will have you singing along and head-banging in no time. Death to false metal!!

IMMORTAL – All Shall Fall (Nuclear Blast)
All hail the mighty IMMORTAL! These stalwarts from Norway have thankfully returned after a long hiatus (their last album being 2002’s “Sons of Northern Darkness”) and have not disappointed. “All Shall Fall” bears quite a bit of resemblance to its predecessor in the excellent production quality and general songwriting, in fact it’s difficult for me to decide which one I prefer, as they are both fucking masterpieces. “All Shall Fall” has much of the same epic, icy, and occasionally discordant riffing style of Abbath, and his trademark high-pitched and grim vocals, and generally speaking is a little slower paced, especially compared to past Immortal albums like “Blizzard Beasts” or “Pure Holocaust”. But I feel that slowing down a bit serves them very well, as they show they can write a catchy, headbanging groove as easily as assault the listener with a barrage of blast beats. Drummer Horgh is both an animal and a robot, playing with bestial precision that complements Abbath’s riffs perfectly. Bassist Apollyon is also a member of AURA NOIR, another Norwegian band that I love. So it is that I give “All Shall Fall” a high recommendation for both new and old black metal fans alike. IMMORTAL has returned!!

INQUISITION – Invoking the Majestic Throne of Satan (War Hammer Records)
While this album came out in 2002 and is not a new release (they even have a couple albums out since this one), I still wanted to sing its praises. INQUISITION is a 2-piece black metal band from Columbia, South America. While many black metal bands today have “matured” or moved on from themes of Satanism and evil to write songs about misanthropy and bleak environments, INQUISITION deserves credit because every song on every album is about one subject and one subject only: WORSHIPPING SATAN. These guys mean it too. Musically, they play a primitive style of old school black metal, with a bit cleaner production and guitars that are tuned down somewhat, and hard hitting, poweful riffs. Drum patterns and tempo vary from song to song, and both musicians are quite competent at what they do. What really distinguishes INQUISITION from the masses of bands out there, however, are the vocals. Trust me, I’ve listened to this kind of music for a long, long time and there is no one out there that sounds like this. This singer said fuck all emotion, all range, all dynamics, and went for the most inhuman sound he could come up with…in fact the band themselves said they were going for something totally demonic, like a voice coming through the aether to speak to the listener. The result is the most unnerving, unsettling vocals you’ve ever heard. Again, they abandoned any and all emotive range and instead go for a very flat, monotonous, chant-like vocal style that must simply be heard to understand. It really threw me off when I first heard it, but once you get into them you will become a believer. INQUISITION are the real deal, one of the evilest bands of all time, and play true black metal dedicated to the Big Red One himself. HAIL SATAN!!

PERVERSOR – Cult of Destruction (Nuclear War Now!)
PERVERSOR hails from Santiago, Chile, and “Cult of Destruction” is their debut album (they since have released a new EP). In the realm of extreme metal, most people are aware that a revival has been taking place in the genre of old-school thrash for some time now, and that black metal has been steadily rising to prominence across not just the mainstream, but has also copulated with many sub-genres and styles of music. What I’ve begun to notice lately though is an underground resurgence in the classic, primitive style of evil, atmospheric death metal, like INCANTATION, MORTICIAN, and AUTOPSY. This seems to be almost a direct counter-reaction to what passes as “death metal” nowadays…namely the slick, overly-produced, overly-technical, sterile, mass-marketed, drum-triggered, soulless Hot Topic yo-metal hybrid product that has become so ubiquitous and trendy. What bands like PERVERSOR offer is a fresh, no-bullshit, difficult to market style of death metal the way it should be…with a raw and murky production, cavernous and indecipherable vocals, detuned guitars, hollow pounding drums, and a grisly, morbid atmosphere. I also recommend bands like VASAELETH, BLASPHEMOPHAGER, ABSCESS, and IMPETUOUS RITUAL for those that are interested.

SIXX – Sister Devil (Nuclear War Now!)
While technically not black metal, SIXX is included here as it was the side project/alter ego of the U.S. black metal band VON. For the uninitiated, VON was a minimalist black metal band from San Francisco that released only one demo, “Satanic Blood”, in 1992, which was subsequently traded around the underground until achieving a massive cult following (I got the demo through tape trading back in 1993). Back then, the band was very mysterious. We heard stories that no one knew the identities of the members, and you could not write them because they literally lived in the forest with goats and wild animals. Flash forward to 2001, when “Satanic Blood” was re-issued on CD, followed by a second release which also revealed a second never-before-heard demo, “Blood Angel”. With a raw, throbbing, hypnotic, and evil style VON are now considered early pioneers of black metal, and one of the first (if not THE first) U.S. black metal bands. While bassist Kill has since come forth to reveal himself as Joe Allen (current member of old-school death metal band ABSCESS), little has been known about the remaining members of VON. Until now…
Recently, front man Goat has emerged from obscurity to start recording/performing again as VON GOAT. What exactly VON GOAT will sound like, or what it even is, remains to be seen, but a live performance is scheduled in Germany this November at the Nuclear War Now! Festival. In the meantime, an old VON side-project (featuring the same 3 members) called SIXX has recently resurfaced and been re-issued.
SIXX bears only the most general resemblance to VON. Certainly not black metal by any stretch, SIXX could be called occult goth-rock, in the vein of BAUHAUS, JOY DIVISION, and SAMHAIN. Imagine the albums “Seventeen Seconds” or “Faith” by THE CURE with a young Glen Danzig on vocals, and you start to get the picture. With a cleaner production, and no distorted guitars, SIXX nonetheless evokes a similar evil mood and atmosphere as VON, through minimal yet powerful riffs and arrangements, hypnotic repetition, and a heavy satanic vibe. Recommended!

XASTHUR – 2005 Demo (Hydrahead)
XASTHUR is a band from Los Angeles formed by one guy that calls himself Malefic. Malefic has been extremely prolific, releasing about an album a year for over a decade now. This latest offering, simply titled “2005 Demo”, was apparently a couple tracks leftover from a 2005 recording session for the album, “Subliminal Genocide” and released as their own EP.
XASTHUR plays an extremely bleak, depressing, and melancholic style of black metal, drenched in so much reverb that the guitars, bass, drums, vocals, and sometimes keyboards, run together and start losing all distinction, coming close to becoming a dark ambient drone. It’s like Malefic discovered his own formula for making depressive, atmospheric metal and ran with it to the farthest and logical end of the concept, not only reveling in themes like schizophrenia, suicide and self-destruction but attempting to create such a black hole that all life on earth is sucked into its inky blackness, never to return. Admittedly, if you listen to several XASTHUR albums back to back, they start to sound like the same album, droning on and on with the same bleak, abysmal themes and intentions. For that reason, one album is as good a starting point as any, and you will either like the band or you won’t.
Unfortunately, Malefic recently posted on his blog that he retiring XASTHUR to focus on other projects. Thankfully we have lots of great recordings from this band. As I said, many of the albums sound similar, but if I had to pick a few favorites I would suggest this “2005 Demo”, along with “Telepathic with the Deceased” and “A Gate Through Bloodstained Mirrors”.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Project Update

Hi and welcome to the Rising Beast blog. I started this as a way to keep people up to date on current and upcoming music projects of mine, but also it’s a place where I can rant about whatever I feel like ranting about…you may see journal-type entries from me, or music and movie reviews, plugs for my friends projects, maybe even the occasional interview...

For now, here is a complete update on all my musical endeavors.

HARASSOR is my main band which is currently active. We’re playing frequent shows in the LA area. We are also still finishing our 2nd release called “Hater of Man” which will come on out on our drummer Sandor’s label Universal Consciousness. We are also planning a vinyl LP re-issue of our first self-titled release on Ovrcast Records. We also still have copies of our split 7” EP with Bay Area band MOONDARK available.

LORD FOUL - the “Killing Raping Burning / The Devil’s Advocate” CD re-issue is out now on Forever Plagued Records. LORD FOUL was my solo black metal project and this nice package has the 1993 and 1994 demos remastered from the original tapes, as well as 2 vintage interviews with me circa 1994. Dais Records here in LA is doing the vinyl edition, hopefully available by the end of the year. Check back for more news on that, as well as info on a special limited-edition version.

RISING BEAST RECORDINGS is my small mini-label I’m using to release other demos and recordings of mine. It’s also a small distro where I sell music of other bands and labels that I like. You can order the following items at www.risingbeast.bigcartel.com.

Now available:

PRAY FOR SNOW “Self-titled” – this CD-R is the debut of my project PRAY FOR SNOW, which emerged after I retired ATTAKKR. This is metallic shoegaze sludge-doom in the vein of early JESU. 5 tracks, unlimited edition.

ATTAKKR “Fatal Romantics” – this limited CD-R from this now-defunct project compiles the long out-of-print releases “Blade of Ithiel” and “Zantetsuken” as well as 4 unreleased tracks. ATTAKKR ran the gamut musically…it was me attempting to find my footing again as a solo artist after a number of inactive years. You’ll find noise drone, rock, doom, shoegaze metal, industrial, even acoustic psych-folk on this release. Limited edition and going fast…

JAMES BROWN III “Isle of the Dead” – another limited CD-R. This release somewhat continues the styles I was exploring with ATTAKKR, which is mostly doom and noise drone. Features Sandor aka ANDORKAPPEN on guest vocals. Also limited edition…


PICKLE “I Have Come To Cum” – this CD-R will collect 2 vintage demos from my old shit-core noise band PICKLE. The first demo is called “Greasy Maggot Pimple” and came out in 1993, it features me on drums, Dave Stoker on guitar, and my kid brother Jeremy on vocals. The second demo, “I Have Come To Cum”, was recorded in 1994 but was recently re-discovered and mixed in 2010. It has much better production quality, although I play all the instruments. Coming soon…

PRAY FOR SNOW – the follow up to the first self-titled demo is in the works. This will see a departure from the heavier, guitar driven style and focus more on synths and electronica. Influenced by RADIOHEAD, BOARDS OF CANADA, and minimalist cold wave.


PRAY FOR SNOW “Toplov” – this upcoming cassette release will be handled by Universal Consciousness and features a much harsher, noisier black metal side to this project (although the parallels do exist).

DAR GAR – this project features Pete Majors from HARASSOR on vocals and guitar, and me doing the programming, editing and mixing. This is a noisy, harsh cut-and-paste black metal freak out! Coming soon…

That’s all the news for now, thanks for the interest and come back soon!

Stay rotten,
Roach [[[HORUS]]] James