Saturday, 28 February 2015


Arnehm, 19th February 2015

Fans of all things dark and extreme gather for a much awaited ritual in Arnhem: the Under Four Wings Of Death European tour opens up in the Dutch capital of black metal. Candles, incense, skulls and books of spells are all in place: seen it a million times before, will see it for a long time to come, I fear, so let the fucking music begin.

DYSANGELIUM open the ritual at Willemeen. As expected, the set is as tight as fuck and I find myself completely mesmerised by the constantly outpouring of machine-gun drumming. The satisfying sound that Dutch venues offer guarantees full enjoyment of the tight blasts: they hit my 3rd-eye spot, plunging me into the abyss of black-metal ecstasy. There is nothing I appreciate more than inhuman drumming made by humans, so I am focusing on A.N.L.’s fierce display, which includes also the odd brutal vocal (oh, I wish it was Mike Browning all over again!). Like on their debut album Thanatos Askesis on W.T.C., live they grab hold of me with merciless brutality imbued with glorious epicness, while twisting the knife into the wound by imparting sudden flashes of eeriness. All this was delivered in front of a still rather sparse audience, far too stingy with their half-hearted claps. Oh well, in my books they easily blew the following band off the stage.

That band would be Aukland’s VASSAFORThe formation consists of the two original members (BP on drums and VK on vox and guitar) plus two US session musicians, VB on guitar and KS on bass, who toured with them before. The band’s sound is unexpectedly clean, so their stifling doom intertwined vintage filthy death/black seem far too watered down and fails to grip me. Oddly, there is no rawness, none of that wonderful esoteric Greek-inspired sound that imbues some of their material. Fresh on Debemur Morti’s roster as well as Iron Bonehead’s, the band might lack live experience and although they gave their all, this time around I struggle to focus on their performance.

But hey, BÖLZER are in town, and a good section of the audience is there for them. KzR prepares for his gig looking like a Dazed & Confused model: cool, groomed and possibly designer. Whether or not he smells of Bleu de Chanel, I cannot tell form the side of the stage, but the flames of the black candles perched on a tall candelabra standing just behind him (which he will accidentally knock down during the set) seem to hover towards him. As HzR takes his place behind the kit, the singer/guitarist reappears in his metal guerrilla outfit, a well-decorated waistcoat over his tattooed skin (and yet the prize for pin-up of the night goes to a young dark-haired guy covered in vintage UK hardcore band patches, from Discharge to Anti-Sect to Amebix: good to see the tradition is still alive!). 

Bölzer immediately starts showering us with a grit and raw energy that puts to shame most bands around these days. Shrouded in deep dark blue light, almost impossible to shoot them, the Swiss duo do what Meg & Jack White did for indie rock: effortlessly steam-roll everyone else by concocting a monster sound through minimalistic magic. Entirely testosterone-fuelled, exceptionally good, extremely satisfying and entertaining, in the very special way dark, raw metal can be…

So here comes the surprise of the night: ASCENSION. I loved their blood-red debut album Consolamentum, and when the new classy logo appeared I wondered what the magnificently packaged new release, the Dead of the World, unleashed on Christmas Eve last year, would actually bring forth. Well it brought devastating, top class Metal so, for my Ascension live baptism, I was expecting to be totally bulldozed over. Well something quite different happened instead… 

So here is the set up: band and roadies clear away those hackneyed ritualistic objects (candles, skull, etc.) preparing the set by planting two imposing black & red banners at both sides of the stage. Nargaroth’s presence is in the air… Underneath black sweatshirt hoods the musicans’ faces are completely blackened, bearing the familiar symbolic white upside-down triangle over the forehead. A younger, diminutive version of Jo Bench plugs in her bass guitar, carefully making sure that her long black hair remains hidden by her hood. A microphone decorated by an intricate collection of bones and ribbons is brought forth, looking rather good. Then the lights dim and a foreboding intro is played to get us in the mood...  
Finally Ascension march on in their shining, tall military style boots, and explode…

The sound is engulfing, powerful and foreboding: the music pours down like a dream upon an excited audience gazing towards the darkened figures bathed in foggy blue & white light. The entire band is clad in black, but one. The nameless frontman is wearing a beautifully decorated white long-sleeve T-shirt covered in holes and tears, immediately reminding me of the the old rebellious, desecrating spirit of punk. If I expected to see an Ash Nargaroth type of performer, oddly, I am instead reminded of someone who ideologically sits on the opposite side of the spectrum, Torsten Hirsch of Agrypnie and Nocte Obducta. As I position myself right underneath the stage trying to photograph him and the band through the darkness stricken by emerald green flashes, I find myself sucked in by his physical yet mysterious presence and, quite uncharacteristically, I remain transfixed there for a long time, unable to move away from the spell.

In spite of some predictable elements, on stage Ascension has a diverse personality from the standard black metal band and perhaps they will develop into something unpredictable in the future. The music feels just as self-assured and alluring in its deliverance as on record, with the extra crucial additions of a spellbinding, intense and solemn dimension is put across by a natural charismatic presence using no other gimmicks than the human presence alone. I have no idea if my impression is largely dependent on the magic combination between uniqueness of sound and place & time: I guess I will only find out if I catch Ascension playing live again in the future. The good thing is that on the night I find myself leaving with a feeling of surprise. It is not often that a band exceeds my expectations: what feels like an timeless exposure to black metal makes me truly crave for something ‘other’…

Saturday, 3 January 2015


I am exceedingly grateful and proud to present the b/w version of Wyrd's Flight new logo by the one and only Ingram Blakelock, the multi award winner multimedia artist renown for his amazing videos for A Forest of Stars, My Dying Bride and Duncan Evans! 

Please do check his superb and unique work here:
...and watch out for Ingram's new video for the stunning A Forest of Stars upcoming album (February 2015).

In its brightly coloured painted version, the logo pays homage to Hindu/Tibetan art and mythology. It also contains Shamanic, Egyptian and Celtic elements close to my heart.
The Tibetan-inspired font used for the zine name refers to eastern spiritual practices (in particular Buddhist meditation, Krya yoga and Tantra) that have been a big part of my life and huge inspiration since my early teens, as important tools (amongst many) in finding harmony through my personal vision of spiritual a-theism.


The Eagle is a powerful symbol in many ancient and recent cultures, representing freedom, strength and spiritual quest. It is the king of the skies, the creature that can rise above the earth in both a physical and mystical way. 
In shamanic traditions we find it, amongst others, as a totem bringing enlightenment and freedom for the Native American Indian nations, and as a messenger of the Great Sky (Tengri) in Mongolian and Turkic culture. It represented Zeus himself in Greek mythology, and it was the ultimate symbol of power in Roman times. It appears as an important mythical creature in both Buddhist and Hindu traditions: in the latter, Garuda is Lord Vishnu’ vahana (or mount). 
Garuda in Tibetan Buddhism is a bird-like creature representing fearless wisdom; it lent 4 specific elements to Wyrd's Flight new logo: wings, fire, horns and the third eye, gateway to our inner world and higher states of consciousness.


Native Indian Shaman

Mongolian hunting eagle

Deathspell Omega's Angel Wings

Tal'Set (The Way of the Warrior)


Fire had a crucial role in human history and therefore holds deep and powerful esoteric meanings: in many cultures it was a symbol of wisdom and alchemic knowledge. It is a destructive elemental force that generates rebirth, hence still today a symbol of creativity and fertility. In Buddhist tradition he purifying force of fire dispels ignorance to promote truth; in Tantric rituals all-consuming fire is visualised to eradicate hate, one of the most undesirable human curses, root of all suffering along with greed and delusion. And, of course, fire has a powerful sexual meaning in the wonderful healing Trantric practices. 
I very much identify with Fire amongst the other classical elements of Water, Earth, Wind and Aether. Fire is present in the logo in the shape of Tibetan-style flames below Garuda’s wings. 

Buddhist art: Cosmic Fire

Yab-Yun: Tibetan Tantric sexual ritual, union of Wisdom and Compassion

Cult of Fire: esoteric black metal

Dornenreich: the fire within


The most intimate part of or consciousness: we are made of stars, and to them we shall return! Since primordial times those cold, unreachable, dark bodies became symbol of wonder, hope and mystery; they provided silent dreamy comfort in our darkest, vulnerable, lonely nights. We evolved to fear, respect and adore them as gods, longing for their protection; to this day they are guiding companions whispering to our innate metaphysical yearnings. Ah, man’s delusions!... 
Our history is profoundly linked to our relationship with the celestial vault above us: I often marvel at the achievements of Indian and Greek thinkers who developed the first theories of atomism in 6th and 5th century BC respectively! Later, centuries of religious obscurantism, when scientists, astronomers and mathematicians had no choice but becoming recluse monks or face torture, incarceration and death, plunged Europe into darkness and superstition, something we are paying a huge price for to this very day. And yet, man's thirst for truths did not wane... Today we know that the cosmos is the cold, distant theatre of unimaginably violent, terrifying natural events, yet we still dream of travelling through its depths, spiritually and physically. Space does not belong to us: we belong to space! How not to have a forest of stars in Wyrd's Flight logo?...

 Stargazing: a timeless pursuit.
("To gaze is to think" said Salvador Dali)

Warren Filed (Aberdeenshire, Scotland): the oldest lunar/seasonal calendar known, dating back to 8000BC!

The Nebra Sky Disk (Germany): the oldest physical depiction of the cosmos, dating 1600BC

Voivod's scary universe

Oranssi Pazuzu: cosmic explorations

Darkspace: the enigma of the abyss


Between Garuda’s demon horns is a solar disc, much like the headdress of Isis, sister-wife of Osiris in Egyptian mythology. The figure of Isis is central in protection and healing magic: sun worship is the most ancient and universal practice throughout all civilisations. Isis represents beautifully the supreme essence of the female role within the cosmic cycle, going well beyond that of mother and spouse, since she actually had the power to give Osiris his life back. Like with the cult of Mithras, the myth of Isis was later hijacked by emerging Christianity, where the Egyptian goddess became the pious, grieving virgin Mary. Interestingly, the male-centred Abrahamic culture not only stripped Mary (Isis) of her sexuality but also of her healing powers, since she was powerless in front of Jesus' death. It might seem ironic that Christians have been adoring the same gods they ruthlessly destroyed, but the real issue is: why do we STILL need something, someone to worship, a master (of love/hate) to follow? I am no-one's slave, and never will be.

Our own breathtaking Sun

Lord Surya, Hindu Sun God

Isis and Osiris

Mithra, looking a bit like Jesus

Aztec Sun Stone


One of Ulver's most iconic covers


Inside the sun disc a Celtic Tree epitomises the final and central element of Wyrd’s Flight logo and ethos. 
The Tree has been widely worshipped from ancient times as a representation of the cycle of Life, a symbol of fertility and immortality. 
In the Bible the Tree of Knowledge is the aloof spectator of mankind's fall from Paradise blamed on Eve's desire for learning (hence women were, and in many countries still are, not allowed to have an education). Let's move swiftly on...
In Buddhist tradition we have the wonderful, positive image of the Tree of Enlightenment under which Gautama Buddha finally understood the workings of the wheel of life. 
In pagan and Druidic societies the sacred Tree played a central role, and my Celtic roots are represented through the emblem of the knotted tree. Life on earth is, from a biological and evolutionary point of view, a mind-blowing spectacle we are privileged to be an intrinsic part of. If nature does not overwhelm you with emotions, then it means you are dead. Literally. 
The Tree represents the most universal of totems, the most accessible, beautiful, humble ancestral deity breathing for and with us, a comforting silent presence to behold. Every single day I gaze at the trees I encounter on my path as benign kins. We are made of the same life building blocks and we owe them our existence: they have been giving us oxygen, food and shelter. There are now over 7 billion of us...
We need trees more than ever!

Celtic Tree of Life

Egyptian Tree of Life

The Biblical Tree of Knowledge 

Lord Shiva under the Tree of Life

Gautama Buddha under the Tree of Enlightenment

Make no mistake, even in the past man has been foolish enough to destroy its habitat for good. Two well known examples come to mind: in the space of 500 years Viking settlers in Greenland caused irreversible environmental damage through intensive deforestation; the Rapa Nui in Easter Island did the same, until they were themselves extinct. We need to reconnect with our natural being in a more honest and powerful way, taking charge of our individual and collective destinies through healthy, positive scientific education as solid base for our dreams. Scientific knowledge does not equate to meaningless, addictive gadgets to be enslaved by (that is consumerism-driven exploitation of technology, a by-product of science that should have positive advantages if used ethically): it means finding out how nature actually works. It means to be blown away by its hidden wonders (its mind-blowing workings beat any science fiction, mythology and fairy tale a million times over!). It means to fall in love with nature deeply in all its aspects, and learn to respect it. And with it, to respect ourselves, because we too ARE IT. 


Negura Bunget

In the Woods

Woods of Desolation