Surly Brewing presents
RUBY THE HATCHET
Do you remember the final scene of The Fearless Vampire Killers? The one with dozing Professor Abronsius in his coach, unaware of what he’s bringing back with him from the east? 50 years on, KADAVAR did the exact same thing. They ventured east – and brought something with them: A gothic horror story turned doom rock. With a decidedly morbid turn, Europe’s hardest working rock band unearth their dark and twisted roots, once and for all defining their unique brand of retro rock, doom and proto metal.
Aptly entitled For The Dead Travel Fast after German gothic poet Gottfried August Bürger, their doomed fifth record is a perilous journey into the land of the dead, a foray into the bleakest corners of our minds. A heavy, slow-paced, throbbing force of guitar, bass and drums, preciously enriched by spooky synths and a brooding narrative reminiscent of the Victorian death-cult. Beware, this is KADAVAR gone pitch-black! “Old horror soundtracks and Werner Herzog’s Dracula had a huge impact on this album,” drumming maniac Tiger states. Think HAWKWIND with old PINK FLOYD melodies, eerily sung to you from the grave by guitarist/vocalist Lupus.
He, in turn, got under the spell of Italian vintage horror, namely the film Suspiria and its uncanny soundtrack, courtesy of cult act GOBLIN. “My first idea for this album actually was a synthie horror soundtrack just like GOBLIN did,” Lupus states. He even bought a couple of old synthesizers for the project, “but the other two weren’t too keen on the idea and preferred making a rock record rather than a synthie record,” he laughs. Yet, here and there, the ghostly synths still echo through the songs.
After their unique and liberating one-off show in Berlin’s Heimathafen in February 2019, which for the first time ever saw them taking to the stage with four guest musicians named THE COSMIC RIDERS OF THE BLACK SUN (which will be released as a bonus DVD with the album), they went back into songwriting mode. They played and they jammed until, seemingly out of nowhere, there was that evil and menacing riff that has since then grown into the intense ‘Evil Forces’.
“Suddenly, we were all goosebumps and instantly knew we were on to something,” Tiger recalls. They decided here and there to fully embrace the darkness that has been kept at bay in recent years. Fueled and encouraged by the mind-broadening experience of their Heimathafen show and inspired by darkness itself, the trio set out for Transylvania. “Transylvania does something to you,” Tiger muses. “There’s a deep mystery in the air. The snow-covered fields, the deep woods, the fables… we soaked it all up and set it to music.” The trip to Draculaland also was a trip down memory lane: Their first ever tour pulled them all over Eastern Europe. “It was nice to get back into that groove.”
Just like the album cover, taken in front of Dracula’s alleged crib in Transylvania, mysterious Castle Bran, the whole album is drenched in superstition, Romanian folklore and the mysterious ways of our psyche. “A lot of the songs can be seen as a warning or an invitation to meddle with the dark forces,” Tiger explains. And of course those dark forces can have many faces: Toxic relationships, intoxication, near death experiences. “We all want to feel closer to death somehow,” he muses, “which is why horror movies are so successful. We want to confront our biggest fears, live through them.”
Now five strong albums into their stellar career, Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann (vocals, guitars, synthesizers), Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt (drums) and Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup (bass) decide to open up. To boldly go where they never went before – only to rediscover their very roots along the way. “This is a record with a concept, with longer, more embellished songs not particularly drawn to ordinary song structures,” Lupus describes. “Something like this wouldn’t have been possible earlier in our career. Only now do we know each other well enough to pull off something like this.” Tiger nods: “We have the feeling we created something new while at the same time having rediscovered our core DNA.” He smiles. “Feels damn good.”
Sounds damn good, too. But that’s old news by now. Formed in Berlin in 2010, it took the trio a mere couple of years to conquer the world and to install themselves as leaders of the vintage pack. Not with being copycats. But with their working class ethos and their constant urge to liberate themselves from all guide book rules. With their blend of retro rock, occult imagery, doom and a decidedly antique patina, they released four albums in five years and relentlessly toured the globe with their lysergic frenzy of a show, playing the biggest festivals and sharing the stage with OZZY OSBOURNE or the SCORPIONS.
In 2017, however, they commenced their most massive undertaking yet. They converted an old industrial complex in grubby Berlin district Neukölln into their very own vision of a home base, a creative haven, a studio. “This studio is essential for the band,” sound engineer Tiger states, telling how he even took on a loan to buy a new mixing board and a couple of other vintage lovers’ wet dreams. “I literally sunk everything I had into that studio. And boy, is it pretty!” You would think he is talking about his own child (that he’s also extremely proud of, of course!), but then again, in a way, this band is his life. A living entity with a soul more than a thing you spend your weekends on, KADAVAR has become a worldwide phenomenon, a brotherhood hunting their high ambitions and fulfilling their vintage fever dreams. Authentic, free and true. To. The. Bone!
Self-recorded and self-produced in May 2019, For The Dead Travel Fast has become KADAVAR’s very own death cult, an album at the same time uncanny and extremely powerful. How do they repeatedly say in Suspiria? Right, “magic is everywhere”. And while that may be true in some sense, you won’t find it any more concentrated on a rock record than on For The Dead Travel Fast.
RUBY THE HATCHET
Forming after a series of basement practices in New Jersey circa 2009, heavy psychedelic rock quintet Ruby the Hatchet mix the ominous and occult; landing on a sound best heard at a dark carnival, and reminiscent of early heavy metal a la groups like Rainbow, Deep Purple and Coven. The band features guitarist Johnny Scarps Jr., drummer and vocalist Owen Stewart, bassist Lake Muir and is trademarked by the howling, dynamic vocals of Jillian Taylor and wild organ playing of Sean (Lord) Kahn Hur.
In addition to constant touring with acts like Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats, Black Mountain, Arthur Brown, The Sword, and Pallbearer, the band has had a prolific recording schedule – releasing a self-titled EP in 2011 and their debut full-length Ouroboros the next year. In 2014 they released The Eliminator EP independently, including a limited-edition release packaged in a wooden box filled with spooky and campy ephemera.
All of this made way for signing to Tee Pee Records for the band’s 2015 effort Valley of the Snake, a deeper dive into an increasingly gritty stoner rock sound. Two years later Ruby dropped Planetary Space Child via Tee Pee as well, the group’s most prog-driven release yet.