Saturday, September 17, 2016

ANTLERS: Into Endless Chaos

Some people are simply perseverance and resistance personified.

Antlers are a 4 piece Atmospheric Black Metal group based in East Germany. Forming in 2013 after
2 guitar playing veterans of the underground music world (Pablo C. Ursusson and I. Soler) started jamming with bassist Mts and drummer M.

Describing their sound as “Ancient hymns for the Age of decay” and “Black metal written for wanderers and hermits, for battle and meditation, for light and darkness” Antlers are a powerful musical assault played with a mystical edge but never lacking in emotional intensity.

Embarking on endless van tours across the European Metal Circuit playing to sweaty bars full of die-hard fans and even sharing the stage with Rotting Christ, last spring Antlers brought US experimental Black Metallers Addaura out on the road with them. Unfortunately 1 member of Addaura had an accident in Paris, meaning the cancellation of several shows planned for that tour.

But both acts didn't let it effect them and bravely carried on, with the tour coming to a triumphant end with two shows in Antlers' hometown of Leipzig.

Their debut album ‘A Gaze into the Abyss’ was very warmly received throughout the underground and is a great exercise in some kick-ass Black Metal songwriting. Upon it's release, the band swiftly sold out on all their CD copies of the record, but still have Vinyl and Cassette copies left so I urge you to pick one up before they're all gone!

You can read my thoughts on the album at the bottom of this page.

I caught up with the band’s guitarist, keys player and vocalist Ntx to find out what Antlers are up to now....

DMD: It has been over a year since ‘A Gaze Into The Abyss’ was released, how much has changed in that time? Have you already begun writing the follow up?

Ntx: Nothing has changed in a very significant way, just that some of the stuff on that album begins to get quite old for some of us and sometimes it's not so exciting to play some tracks from the album anymore. So we are looking forward to begin to play shows in 2017 with a new setlist. For sure the band is more solid now, we are better friends and we know each other better than we did 2 years ago. We have a bunch of songs ready for the next album, yes.

DMD: At the time of sending you these questions, the tour with Addaura has finished, what were the highlights and lowlights of the tour?

Ntx: The absolute highlight was to meet the guys of Addaura, touring and sharing those 2 great weeks of our lives together, they are an excellent band, but way better people. We didn't know each other before, the whole tour thing was an initiative of Stefan from Vendetta Records.

It's kind of funny, because once we saw we got along pretty well, we began to have fun together. They told us that they were afraid of having to share the bus for the next 2 weeks with some grim German metalheads and we told them we were a bit afraid of meeting some arrogant spoiled Americans. Everything worked just great!

The biggest lowlight was the accident that the bass player of Addaura (Brandon) had in Paris, he fell downstairs carrying just too many gear at once and then he broke his left arm, it was a really bad fracture (both bones of his forearm) and it was a fucking crazy stressed night in Paris, so we had to cancel as well the show the day after in Zurich, a couple of days later he could join us again in Italy and take care of the samplers in the Addaura shows, but it was still a downer...

DMD: I was going to ask, do you guys just have a lot of bad luck on tour or are you just out of control and reckless sometimes?

Ntx: We just walk on the wild side... and it seems we fall quite often.

DMD: How did you guys get the name 'Antlers?' Also I love the wrist Tattoos!

Ntx: The name evokes to me a mysterious and monolithic presence in which death and nature awakens connections with my genuine and untamed essence. Thank you, I guess you mean our antler tattoos, not everybody got one on their wrists though. We got them done after a show in Flensburg at the studio Hand of Doom ( That was a long night of drinks and inks...

DMD: What is each member of the band’s favourite Black Metal album?

Ntx: Mayhem - De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

Mts: Darkthrone - Transylvanian Hunger

M: No empathy - Rust

Pablo: doesn’t know

DMD: What is each member of the band’s favourite album that is not considered Metal?

Ntx: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads

Mts: Igorr - Hallelujah

M: En Blanc - Untitled

Pablo: doesn’t know

How is the extreme metal scene in Leipzig, Germany?

Ntx: Quite healthy I would say, even if the word “scene” is something I try to avoid. There are quite a lot of places for shows and enjoying music and to meet together. I would recommend you some other bands from Leipzig like II, Evil Warriors, Chamber, Vidargängr, Lihamon and of course other more popular bands like Sangre de Muerdago or Coldwolrd. I don't know if this is a scene or not, but they are good friends and cool bands.

DMD: Considering you guys are a DIY band who self released your last album, do you plan on staying DIY or do you plan on searching for a record label in the future? Do you still think we need record labels in the age of the internet?

Ntx: Well, that's not really correct. Sure, we have a strong DIY Spirit but we are not gonna be waiting for somebody else to come knocking on our door to do things for us, we like to decide what and when to do things and if we don't find a better option then we will do it on our own.

The question kind of surprises me because I thought it was kind of clear that our first album wasn't self released. The vinyl version was released by Vendetta, the CD by Pest productions and the cassette by Into Endless Chaos.

The Internet is cool to get to know a lot of stuff that otherwise wouldn't be possible to know, but I still love to buy my favourite records on vinyl and enjoy the artwork and pay attention to the lyrics sitting on my couch while it sounds on the turntable with the time that it deserves...

DMD: Where do you guys want to tour next?

Ntx: We want to tour everywhere! I guess the next tour will again be in Europe in spring 2017, hopefully this time we can make it to the UK. Personally, I really want to go on tour to Spain finally and meet a lot of old friends there. It's in our plans as well to visit the US in the next couple of years.

DMD: What are your thoughts on the current state of underground Black Metal in 2016?

Ntx: I would say it's getting more open minded, at least that's my perception.

DMD: What inspires the lyrics?

Ntx: Death, dreams, myths, history, human nature and its contradictions, nature, pain, personal traumas, love, everything around that makes me reflect about something. I would say that basically I try to write a map and find my position in the Universe.

DMD:  What does the rest of 2016 hold for Antlers?

Ntx: Writing new stuff and beginning to record our second album in December,  there’s not much more to tell in this moment...

My thoughts on ‘A Gaze Into The Abyss’

The Album features 6 tracks that all flow very well together with little to no filler slowing it down. Antlers are a flawlessly tight, well-oiled machine and every instrument pulls their weight and absolutely no one is slacking off. 

The drums lead the band for most of the time, pulling off many a dynamic fill or suspenseful build up here and there (Track 2 ‘Carnival of Freedom and Betrayal’ & Track 3 ‘Hundreds’). The well crafted riffs, lead lines and harmonies of the guitars are memorable, and while the solos won’t win any awards for originality you can still hear they’re played with blazing conviction and soul.

The growling vocal attack stays powerful throughout and feels like they have a bit more of a death metal vibe about them, which I really like. 

Tempo-wise you get a well rounded amount of medium speed, blistering pace to slower crawls. Track 4 ‘To the Throats’ is a good example of this. In the song's first half-pulverising blast beats and some of the album’s most memorable riffs, and when the outro rolls around- more DBSM and Funeral Doom elements are thrown in, emphasised by a piano tinkling joylessly atop the steady gloomy progression.

‘Memories of the Extinct’ also varies in momentum, opening once again on punishing blast beats and catchy riffs, this closing track features a blink and you'll miss it slow section that sounds destined to be joined in on by a chanting metal festival crowd.

While the band don’t rely too much on exhibitionist playing or stray too far from their 90’s Norwegian BM roots, their songwriting wildcard pays off in spades.

Every riff feels like it's been worked on with the intention of being as punishing and as memorable as possible, while the parts of the album that lack speed make up for it with soul-wrenching emotion.

Fans of Wolves in the Throne Room should definitely consider giving this one a spin.

In closing I will say that 'A Gaze into the Abyss' is an extremely satisfying Meat 'n' Potatoes Atmospheric Black Metal record with enough quality craftsmanship to keep you coming back for more. 

The excitement and hype is already building for their next release, and I for one cannot wait!


Addaura bandcamp

If you enjoyed this Antlers feature check out some more DMD Black metal reviews:

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