ALBUM REVIEW: Neal Morse – The Dreamer – Joseph: Part One


This latest release from Neal Morse certainly doesn’t lack ambition – a prog rock opera, the sixteen tracks run for an hour plus, and this is only the first part of his musical version of the Biblical tale of Joseph, the coat of many colours, dude.

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ALBUM REVIEW: Liturgy – 93696

When it comes to describing 93696 (Thrill Jockey), the latest album by Liturgy, one could just as well start by describing what this album is not. It is not a record to easily put on in the background and definitely not a go-to if you want to reduce your anxiety. Pretty much the opposite is true. This is a record screaming in your ears for attention, that induces anxiety all along the way.

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PODCAST: Episode 18 – Twin Temple Talks Satan, Music and Sex Magic

Ghost Cult got to catch up with Twin Temple recently at their sold out show at Saint Vitus Bar, in Brooklyn. We chatted with the group about their new album, … Brings You Their Signature Sound: Satanic Doo-Wop, their new record deal with Rise Above Records, the principles that propel the band, their influences, their extremely NSFW music video, and more. Continue reading

Sermon – Birth Of The Marvellous

In times of upheaval is partisanship the answer? In a world of divisive political opinions and warring religious ideology, where should one stand? Hate cannot be combated with hate, it can only be effectively defeated with love and unity. Theologically and spiritually seeking balance in the world is the main aim of UK anonymous mystic merchants, Sermon, and they do so with their debut album, Birth Of The Marvellous (Prosthetic Records).Continue reading

Slayer’s “South Of Heaven” Was Released Thirty Years Ago

What do you do for an encore when you have released arguably the greatest album in metal history, at the zenith point for the genre? Well if you are Slayer, you blow people’s minds and release South Of Heaven (Def Jam) as the follow-up to Reign In Blood (also Def Jam). Although some of its slower mid-tempo jams threw fans for a loop, Slayer’s fourth album is full of gritty, true to life bangers and classic tracks. Let’s revisit this masterpiece which turned thirty years old today. Continue reading

Marilyn Manson – Heaven Upside Down

Nearly a quarter-century into his career, Marilyn Manson continues to explore the grimy underside of humanity that makes other artists shy away to safety, and enthralls his fans. This is not an easy task and while his missteps have been very public, it would take a very jaded listener to find fault with the recorded consistency he has put down, especially of late. I’m not sure why 2015s The Pale Emperor (Hell, etc) took so many off guard; as if the man wasn’t capable of holding our attention any longer. That album exuded a mature brilliance; an almost “an elder statesman of rock” type of vibe. A modern classic rock album, the type we used to get often, but are now scarce since real rock gods are dead or in hiding. Manson is not ashamed to swing his sticky rock star dick around, but it’s his writing, lyrics and vocal delivery that really sent that album over the top. In some ways he has actually done one better on the follow-up, Heaven Upside Down (Loma Vista/Caroline International).Continue reading

Fen – Winter

Of all the grandchildren of heavy metal subgenres, one of the most precocious and still burgeoning is atmospheric black metal. As my colleague Richie HR noted in his recent new column for Ghost Cult, it seems that even the most mainstream bands are reaching for opportunities to expand their sonic palettes to include the more unconventional, and extreme styles. However, time and time again we return to the underground to seek greatness, from those who follow their own path, and eschew typical glory. One of those bands is Fen.Continue reading

God Of Deception- Stephen John Tovey of The King Is Blind

The King Is Blind band photo 2015 ghostcultmag

Amidst the familiar tales and experiences of bands taking great amounts of time to find their feet, make a mark and find an audience, sometimes there are the stories of those who seem to have the Midas touch, ascending with seeming ease towards greatness. For many, self-attributed “Monolithic metallers” The King Is Blind must have come out of nowhere, with the release of their début album Our Father (Cacophonous) this year and slots at the prestigious Download and Bloodstock festivals. In reality, theirs is a story of a couple of years of making a name amongst the metal underground, with a well received EP The Deficiencies Of Man (Mordgrimm) in 2014 and, due to work and life commitments, sparing but formidable live shows making them a strong presence on the UK extreme metal scene.

With so much achieved in such a relatively short existence, you can be forgiven for thinking of TKIB as a sudden success story, plucked out of obscurity; but as vocalist and former bassist Steve Tovey explains, the journey has been busier than perhaps meets the eye: “I think its been pretty much two years, give or take, since we played our first ever show, to then playing our own headline show at The Black Heart (London), a prestigious venue and having an album out on a seminal label, yeah its kind of been a fast journey. But what hasn’t felt so much like a rollercoaster is the fact that we’ve kept grounded and we’ve kept writing, so we are thinking the whole time around what we are writing, where are we going, what story are we telling next…It seems we’ve always been 3 or 4 songs ahead of what has come out, so its been more of a steady process for us, but for the external to is, it probably does seem much quicker.”


Aside from these mammoth achievements, the band’s short duration thus far has seen them come on huge leaps musically. From their initial demo release Bleeding The Ascension(Self released), at the time when the band was comprised of Tovey and guitarist Lee Appleton, which saw early signs of their vision alongside a lot of hero worship, through to the DOM EP and the joining of guitarist Paul Alan Ryan-Reader and drummer Barney Monger; to the rich sonic wealth of Our Father, which draws upon a huge array of dark and extreme influences into a fluid, layered and forward thinking nature. A clear evolution that Tovey explains even further: “I think when we first started, going back to the demo, and even to an extent with TDOM, both were about establishing where we were coming from, so I think BTA was a bit more of a doomy, raw approach. DOM was Paul and Barney joining and bring a real impetuous boost of aggression and that old school death metal power to the sound. From that point we then realised were in a good place, we touched upon a fair amount of ground even over those four songs and it worked, so, one thing I’ve said from day one is that there’s 45 years of metal, so why restrict yourself, why limit yourself, there’s so much great music and influences out there, so part of our discussion was to not restrict ourselves.”

Even with this in mind, the scope that they encompass over début album Our Father is quite staggering. From the pacey and anthemic aggression of ‘Bloodlet Ascension’ to the menacing crawl of ‘Mors Somnis’ and the progressive journey of ‘Mourning Light’, TKIB mould a huge spectrum together in a way that is cohesive and natural. “The development from DOM particularly to Our Father was that everything was explored, it wasn’t carrying down a linear path, it was taking a central point and expanding out from there and that covers lyrically, musically, production wise, packaging, the whole thing was an expansion in every direction, and we pushed it as far as we could while it still sounded cohesive.”


With such a myriad of styles at hand, surely there was the risk of a lack of fluidity or of things sounding at odds with each other, but as Tovey comments, this was never considered as a real risk: “I think the only time we had that conversation was around the track ‘Bloodlet Ascension’, when we wrote that we loved it, but we had the chat of is it too heavy metal? Is it going down that more traditional metal route that is intrinsic in our sound in certain ways because, me and Lee grew up with Iron Maiden as our first musical love, but we decided that we really liked the song, it’s a very rabble rousing song, and the more we talked about it, the more it seemed to fit. So we tried it out at a couple of gigs to see and it went down really well, and it is a bit of a departure for us but it opens up the door for that style to be incorporated more into future releases I think. But I think that’s the only time, we’ve been very confident that although there is a diversity, it’s always felt and sounded like us. As long as its metal and its dark and aggressive, there’s no limit to it.”

Alongside the seemingly limitless musical direction, Our Father also sees a deep, intertwined narrative throughout, one that is based on fantasy but also as allegory for reality and humanity, and specifically its flaws, a concept that has been a part of the band’s mantra throughout, particularly looking at the EP title for The Deficiencies Of Man. On its most basic level this story sees the battle between God vs Satan, but sees its protagonists in light of grey rather than clear-cut good or bad. This idea of a complex and striking concept is one that Tovey explains was very important to convey for the band, and importantly for himself as a lyricist: “I wanted to tell a story, but I didn’t just want it to be a story, I wanted it to work on several different levels, so I set myself a challenge that each song needed to be standalone but tie in to the arc; so while there are central themes, which are generally around the seven sins, how I look at it is that we are drawn to one or two vices, so each song kind of looks at one or two of those areas whilst still tying into the central narrative. So the lyrics had to work on three levels, the narrative, about the deficiencies of man and then their own story as well.”


The King is Blind (28)

The King Is Blind, by Richard Price

The subject matter of Satan, God and Religion are of course staples of extreme metal, either in fiction or as social commentary; but Tovey hastens to point out that his band’s message is not anti-religious at all. “For me, religion isn’t the problem, its people that are the problem. The underlying tenant of pretty much every religion is love and peace, and respecting each other which gets lost because people misinterpret it or they take certain writings and use it to justify what they are trying to do. It needs to be clear that this album is not anti-religion, its absolutely not anti-faith because, if there’s something you get out of belief that makes you a better person, makes you feel stronger, then absolutely I’m all for that, but at the same time pointing out that some people use it as a mask or a reason or excuse to do some particularly unpleasant and undesirable things.”


The position of the band’s viewpoints of society and such also stem considerably from the member’s journey of parenthood which, as Tovey comments, made them ask a lot of questions and really shaped the albums message. “Most of us are parents, we have young children, and it asks us a lot of questions about our flaws as humans, but also asking are you the right model for your child, how would you react in certain situations and should you change that, what ethics and morals are you passing on? But we know that not everyone is going to be too worried about the lyrics are about so the music is still the central focus, for a lot of people that’s what they are going to be in to, but for those who want to delve deeper, we have it there so people and probe and dig in to.”


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