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The coming together of these two artists shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone with a knowledge of either party’s back catalogues. Since forming in 1998, Swedish metallic post-rock heroes Cult Of Luna have been working (successfully) to shake away the comparisons to Neurosis that seemed to undermine their earlier output, comparisons that started to fall by the wayside as the band came into their own and developed their own cinematic style. Likewise, Julie Christmas has benefited from the patronage of and collaboration with the Neurot camp, initially when her incredible band Made Out Of Babies were signed to Neurot Recordings, and later when she collaborated with former Neurosis man Josh Graham in the short lived Battle Of Mice. Indeed, it’s this latter collaboration that best bridges the gap between Cult Of Luna’s sweeping, elegant post-metal and Julie Christmas’ noise-rock tendencies and brings us neatly to ‘Mariner’.

Cult Of Luna have been known to be troll-like in their relationship with the press, particularly when disclosing the supposed themes on their albums, but if they are to be believed this time round, ‘Mariner’ takes us directly from the industrial grind of the metropolis inspired world of the band’s previous album ‘Vertikal’ as mankind prepares to leave Earth in search of salvation in the cold reaches of space. Accordingly, there’s an urgency that runs throughout ‘Mariner’ and this tension is maintained across the five songs’ 55-minute run time.

Straight out of the gate, the marriage of Johannes Persson and Julie Christmas’ voices on opener ‘A Greater Call’ can’t help but raise hairs, Persson’s pained screams contrasting beautifully with Christmas’ melodic backing over a torrent of musical upheaval which never lets up. ‘Chevron’ sounds like it could be a cut from Christmas’ 2010 solo album ‘The Bad Wife’, thunderous drums and grinding basslines forming the perfect molten backdrop for her unmistakable vocal talents. When the synthesisers join in and the screaming starts the effect is like a punch to the stomach.

The album is full of these moments. Even on the subdued ‘Approaching Transition’ (the only song not to feature Christmas), there’s a palpable emotional undercurrent as the band steadfastly plods through each chord change and ethereal vocal cooing gives way to screams as the song comes crashing to its dramatic conclusion.

So is the collaboration successful? Undoubtedly. Do both parties’ play it safe on ‘Mariner’? Perhaps slightly.

But then again that really depends on which camp you come to ‘Mariner’ from. Cult Of Luna are in familiar sonic territory here, and Christmas’ more agro instincts go largely unexplored which may disappoint some, but she does an incredible job of assimilating with a much beloved band’s sound over the course of an entire album, taking the lead at several pivotal moments, not least on album closer

‘Cygnus 1’. Indeed, the union on ‘Mariner’ sounds natural, comfortable, assured, and you can’t really hope for much more than that, can you? Prepare for blast-off – it’s a brave new world and space is cold.



Aborted had a late career highlight with ‘Global Flatline’ in 2012. ‘The Necrotic Manifesto’ was good, but not quite as memorable, and ‘Retrogore’ follows the same trend. It won’t make any new fans of the band, but diehards should be satisfied with what’s on offer. ‘Retrogore’ is a strong start to the album, showcasing how well Aborted can combine fast, brutal passages with slower, groovier ones. The gross-out samples are also present, a particular highlight being one about blending human remains with dog food at the end of ‘Cadervous Collection’. ‘Whoremageddon’ has an almost anthemic quality to it, as well as a really nasty breakdown, it feels like it was written to be played live.

Modern brutal death metal can often have sterile production, and unfortunately ‘Retrogore’ suffers from this. Everything sounds crystal clear, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when listening to an album which is supposed to be nasty, some crunch or grit to the guitar sound goes a long way. That said, the production isn’t completely flat and lifeless, flourishes like the sub drop on ‘The Mephitic Conundrum’ makes the stomping drum beat and riff that follows hit even harder.

Whilst there is no dip in quality in the middle of the album per se, nothing stands out either. Thankfully, ‘From Beyond (The Grave)’ and ‘In Avernus’ offer some late album highlights, being some of the grooviest tracks on the album. Whilst not Aborted's strongest overall effort, there are enough highlights on the track list to make this worth a recommendation.



We tracked the entire record in a little less than a month at the killer German Kohlekeller studio. Your recording process being fairly the same as usual for us, starting with drums and then simultaneously tracking guitars/ bass/vocals, though this time Kohle was actively involved with the songs and had some ideas which definitely got used. The result is one year of hard work culminating into a record we are most proud of. We hope the fans enjoy wreaking havoc listening to it as much as we enjoyed devouring abundant amounts of food recording it!”


‘Universal Monsters’


Finland's premier vampire rockstars – a formidably large, unit-shifting market – return with their eleventh album and, as can be expected, it’s a kaleidoscope of dark but vivid colours, one that harks back to the definitiveness of the ‘Paris Kills’ album. Opener ‘Dolce Vita’ is a lifeaffirming (or maybe death-affirming) apocalyptic rocker, but misery loves company and it’s quickly followed by the mesmeric keys of ‘Jerusalem’, rallying fuck-you of ‘Never’ and the introspective folk melodies of ‘Blackbird Pie’. This gothic phantasmagoria is bookended by the odd ‘Rock ’N’ Roll Junkie’, which sounds like Backyard Babies having a day off, but it’s all enveloped in their trademark slick darkness that proves it’s fun to be glum.


‘Herb Your Enthusiasm’


They may be named after one of sludge’s blackest, nastiest tunes, but Wigan’s Boss Keloid are actually a far more kaleidoscopic proposition, especially on this, their third and most fully realised album. Experimenting with proggier, more elaborate song structures has really helped them find their own sound and vocalist Alex Hurst’s bold, soaring croon lends these intricate yet muscular compositions a very distinctive flavour, like a more melodic Conan flipping their lid on ayahuasca (especially when that band’s frontman Jon Davis pops up to bellow over humongous opener ‘Lung Mountain’ and the powerful, anthemic ‘Chabal’). Factor in the delightfully wonky guitar tone, booming production and introspective yet firmly tongue-in-cheek lyrics, and you’ve got a winner on your hands.


‘Divine Darkness’


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It’s always an interesting proposition to see how a band progresses from working with true, cult indie labels to working with multi-national major labels. How money can transform a pure idea into (potentially) a much bigger entity and consumerbased product; can an idea, a sound, an image transcend into the broader palette without being spoiled from its original form? Or does it really matter at all what label a band is on these days? Do you, the reader and listener, truly care if an artist releases music on an indie or via the corporate bigwig? It is all business, no matter who is controlling the purse strings. Why am I pondering this right now? I guess it’s because our cover stars this month are the mighty Purson. No stranger to these pages, it’s wonderful to see Purson really coming of age on their new album, the major label released ‘Desire’s Magic Theatre’. It’s a great follow-up to their previous, indie released debut and really captures a band who mean business (again). Nothing has changed in that sense regardless of the label behind the band, and frankly, they were always going to end up on a Terrorizer cover because their music rocks and they thoroughly deserve the accolade. We hope you enjoy their latest story as much as we have enjoyed producing it. As always, the rest of this issue has been a joy to create and features some of the best bands in the extreme and underground metal scenes. Never enough pages as I’d like to write about every band myself and the team love, but it’s entirely flash-in-the-pan/fad-free and that’s the main thing, right?! See you next month! Darren Sadler, Editor