Iron Fist Magazine


Cloven Altar formed in 2012 from their previous band Spellbinder, in which Dustin Altar played guitar and composed the songs. Based in California, Spellbinder had a female singer Lauren Malechek and drums were handled by Michael McNally, but the band never had a complete line-up and only did one demo recording. After that, the band disbanded due to schedule conflicts and lack of motivation. Cloven Altar was the result of Dustin taking some of the Spellbinder material and writing some new songs while also assuming the lead vocal position. Michael McNally came up with the name Cloven Altar (an obvious but cool rip-off of Cloven Hoof and Pagan Altar). Dustin liked the name so much that he hired his friend Chris Horst to design the logo and recorded a bedroom demo under the name. After showing the demo to Cederick Forsberg (Rocka Rollas, Blazon Stone, Breitenhold, Mortyr, etc.) the two agreed to collaborate on a short EP where Ced ended up playing all of the instruments as well as recording/mixing/mastering the final version, while Dustin handled all of the vocals. Danny K of Stormspell Records expressed interest in the project after Dustin emailed him, and has supported Cloven Altar from the … Read More


Majestic hard rock from Tasmania. Not a description we use very often! Formed in 2011, Tarot released three cassette EPs during 2014 and then in 2015 these songs – including two new ones – were compiled for ‘The Warrior’s Spell’ album. “We don’t consider it to be a full-length album, rather a look at the all the band’s output up until that point”, says frontman Will Fried, AKA The Hermit, who also happens to be the owner of Heavy Chains Records.

According to him, the mystical names behind the band, such as The Hermit, The Hierophant and The Magician are taken from tarot card suites and they chose to use pseudonyms so that the listener focuses entirely on the music they play, rather than who is playing it.

Musically, Tarot wants to capture the same mystical atmosphere created by bands like Rainbow, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash et al, all the while putting their own spin on things. “I think we have our own sound that incorporates these elements”, The Hermit believes, but words are also important. “In my opinion the lyrics of Tarot are better left to the listener to interpret in their own way, as for me they are … Read More


Rocka Rollas, Blazon Stone, Cloven Altar, Breitenhold… all bands under the guise of the mysterious Cederick Forsberg. So, how does this one Swedish guy manage to write and record so many (might we add, incredible, classic heavy metal sounding) albums and release them within weeks of each other? “Some people might be puzzled over this, but for me it really just comes down to a few simple things,” he laughs. “I don’t have a job!” Ced has a deep passion for creating music and the new Rocka Rollas album, ‘Pagan Ritual’, which is one of our favourites at Iron Fist HQ, continues on a more power/speed metal pace, based on the legacy of old Helloween and Blind Guardian. “Most of the songs were actually intended for that specific sound in mind. What I can guarantee is that we will never turn into an orchestral mastodon’t like Rhapsody or post-‘Nightfall…’ Blind Guardian, but I will push the boundaries within the rules of that sound. The guitars are the main voice for us, not lutes or harps!” Ced laughs again and continues; “I’m certainly not against trying to add new layers on top, but the foundation must be guitars.”

Avoiding the “preset … Read More


Wolverhampton’s Funeral Throne – a snarling, blood-covered wolfpack of blackened death misfits – have finally had their long-coming sophomore full-length vomited forth by Blut & Eisen Productions, but we spoke about the album as far back as Iron Fist #2. Here is that article, in full, re-printed online to celebrate the long, ugly, painful birth of this UKBM gospel

All the email said was: “THIS is heavy metal blackened by death from the UK. Black metal doesn’t need ‘saving’. It needs resurrecting.” And attached two simple, unmastered MP3s that, despite their lo-fi quality ignited something deep inside. At once notes of Watain and Marduk, second wave buzzing, and, yes, an ambitious yearning to “resurrect” the flame weaved its way around a dank, decrepit atmosphere. Something Winterfylleth said in Iron Fist #1 about black metal in the UK failing in its early promise to create some of the world’s most innovative and sinister music awakened the rage in the sender enough for them to send me such an email. And in return his music made me want to dig deeper. The anguished scream at the end of the song ‘Through Transforming Fire’ was enough to entice me to open the portal into the world of … Read More


Demona may be a one-woman entity but the passion and fight Tanza Speed has is as powerful as the music she creates. Starting out at 17, Tanza started her project in Chile, where she was met with criticism from the elitist South American crowd, despite her thrash metal following in the tracks of Sarcofago and Vulcano. Seven years later, she has relocated to Canada and released her fourth EP via Hells Headbangers. Tanza explains how her two-track EP, ‘2015’ was influenced by the recent changes in her life and the challenges she had to face. “Shortly after my comeback as a solo project again, Rockstakk Records invited me to play in Japan. This was a breath of fresh air and a sign to let me know that I shouldn’t quit under any circumstance, and even when my job denied me the permission to go, I quit and went to Osaka,” Tanza explains. “In the same year, the Metalucifer/Sabbat guys invited me to a show they were making in Chicago. I was broke at the time but it was here that I met my Hells Headbangers friends and everything changed. That was actually what ‘Allura Red’ was about, my Japan experience and … Read More


“I may lose a lot of underground cred and some hipster points here, but I believe in being completely honest.” Jarvis Leatherby isn’t kidding about honesty. Corresponding with us by email from the three-piece’s 60-date headlining tour of the US, Night Demon‘s bassist and vocalist is big enough to admit that they played to 20 people in New Orleans. But fuck credibility: we’re just plain surprised they didn’t take their name from the classic cut ‘Night Of The Demon’.

“We didn’t even know about Demon until after we started this band,” he reveals. “We were Googling our own band name and found their stuff through that. They quickly became one of my new/old favourite bands. Especially the first three albums.”

Turns out that Night Demon just wanted a name that was also a song: ‘Night Demon’, featured on their much-touted debut EP, was the first song they wrote. “We were surprised that nobody had taken the name. It’s difficult to find cool band names that are out there for the taking, so we just ran with it.” Formed in 2011 in Southern California, the band’s debut full-length has just dropped – and ‘Curse Of The Damned’, released by SPV/Steamhammer earlier this year, is a stone-cold … Read More


The Colorado-based Excommunion were one of the too many unsung heroes of the underground ‘dark’ death metal scene. MIA after only one monstrous full-length, ‘Superion’ in 2001, their vocalist Christopher ‘Christbutcher’ Clark moved to Finland in January 2007 after a tentative reunion with his first proper band Dethroned fell apart. But in no way did this mean he gave up completely.

“I started looking the very day we had set it in stone that we were emigrating. I emailed like-minded musicians who were in the area and eventually put together our first line-up, although it seemed at first that the north Savonia region in the middle of Finland was the wrong place to play death metal!”

Even if it took Maveth three years to come up with their first EP (‘Of Serpent And Shadow’), that recording and its follow-up ‘Impious Servant’ proved to be of such high-level that they soon got re-released together on one single CD by Nuclear Winter Records in 2011. And with their now first proper full-length, ‘Coils Of The Black Earth’, ready to hit the stores later this year through Dark Descent, Christbutcher feels he’s come full circle.

“At first, I made a conscious decision to use all the … Read More


“We went on tour in 2012 and played Philly. We had never played there before and I think that’s how Relapse found out about us. I’ll speak for myself, but I think I’m speaking for all of us when I say we were very surprised when they contacted us!” While much of the music industry cognoscenti will beak off until they’re as blue in the face as they are in the balls about the irrelevancy of record labels in the digital age, Lesley Wolf, bassist/vocalist for New York blackened sludge trio Mortals, begs to differ. Their debut full-length, ‘Cursed To See The Future’ may not hit the streets until July 7 and their collective blood dripped onto Relapse’s dotted line may be their first real experience with the industry part of the music industry, but Mortals, at the very least, have the venerable label to thank for motivating them to get to where they are. “It definitely changed the game,” explains Wolf. “We were writing stuff without any real plan. We were maybe going to find a band to do a split with or eventually record a full-length, but there wasn’t anything definite. When Relapse stepped into the picture it definitely put … Read More


Like elaborate extreme works of the past, Switzerland’s Schammasch have crafted a double album that challenges our increasing need for instantaneous gratification in music, something underground metal, though less affected, can still suffer from. “Of course we knew the risks,” says Schammasch’s chief orchestrator Chris S.R. of the three-year creation of the colossal ‘Contradiction’, from seed to birth, as an 80-minute double disc. “But at the end of the day we don’t give a fuck if people think it’s too long. That’s such an ignorant and stupid criteria for any work of art, so I’m cool with the fact that those people actually stay away from our work. We’re not here to produce easy listening background music, but to challenge. Just as agitation and impatience reach their highest grade these days, there is an essential need for contrast. ‘Contradiction’ demands patience to unfold and people [have forgotten] what that means.” Landing boldly between Behemoth’s ‘The Satanist’ and Triptykon’s ‘Melana Chasmata’, Schammasch have envisaged an album that does indeed demand patience and time to fully engrain itself within, but once absorbed, the realisation that ‘Contradiction’ will elevate the Basel-based band to the upper echelon of extreme metal manifests. As is the case … Read More


“When you look at death from death’s perspective, you realise the pettiness of humanity. death cares not for your grievances or troubles, it comes to take you when you least expect. It is the power that supersedes our human creations: religion, politics, philosophy,” offers Todd Burdette, he of Tragedy/His Hero Is Gone fame and now one half of Nighfell, the band he formed two years ago with Tim Call (Aldebaran, The Howling Wind). The power of death casts a grim shadow over Nightfell’s stunning debut for Southern Lord, ‘The Living Ever Mourn’. “Envisioned and executed in a period of grief, delirium, and loss of life,” according to Burdette the creation of ‘The Living Ever Mourn’ was a cathartic experience, telling us “Catharsis is the primary force, death is close behind. We lament the lost, but we still breathe.” This defiant statement defines their debut album in its entirety, as even though death is laid bare in all its stark reality, there is hope and strength to be taken from ‘The Living Ever Mourn’. In terms of sound, it is an open-ended album, one which spans doom, death and black metal – but not exclusively so, as there’s plenty of punk aggression, … Read More

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