Category Archives: featured

REVIEW: AURI – “Auri: II – Those We Don’t Speak Of”

by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy

The creative force that is Auri features Finnish singer Johanna Kurkela and Nightwish’s keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen and multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley. Although they formed in 2011, it wasn’t until 2018 that they unveiled their debut self-titled album, which showcased their ethereal sound. Now with their sophomore release, ‘Auri: II – Those We Don’t Speak Of’they are back to enamour us once more with their unique and wondrous music.

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INTERVIEW – AURI: “We don’t know why audio frequencies make us feel the way we do. It’s like the biggest magic trick in the universe”

Interview with Johanna Kurkela, Tuomas Holopainen and Troy Donockley by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy

Auri was born in 2011 when Nightwish’s keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen and multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley teamed up with Finnish singer Johanna Kurkela. They first unleashed their magical charms in the form of their debut self-titled album in 2018, which displayed their otherworldly sound that is hard to define in a tremendous sense. Now, fortunately, they are back to stun us again with their sophomore album, ‘Those We Don’t Speak Of’, which is out on the 3rd of September via Nuclear Blast. In a world full of chaos due to Covid-19, Auri is the perfect escape from the madness. We caught up with the creative trio to find out all about the new album.

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Photo report: Saarihelvetti – July 6-7, 2021 in Tampere, Finland

Photography by Serena Solomon

How amazing it was to be back at a festival! Saarihelvetti, once again, provided us with a much welcome break from isolation and gigless existence as it did last summer. Aside from the bands, and seeing old friends, the crowd was the highlight. They brought the proper festival atmosphere.

In previous years, when bigger festivals like Nummirock and Tuska happened regularly, Saarihelvetti had a different kind of feel, it was a bit more of a “local” happening, without the craziness and hype the bigger festivals brought. But these past few years, when gigs and festivals have been scarce, that energy and mood exploded all over Viikinsaari and Laukontori in Tampere. “Festival Life” was everywhere , in every form, from the extreme industrial goth fashion to the goofiest costumes one would never expect to see at a metal festival (not to mention the creativity of “masks” were impeccable!). From stuffed animals to corpse paint, from hazmat suites to animal onzies, it was hard not to be distracted by the crowd when watching the gigs!

But I digress, the music. Ah, live – fucking – music! Pits, blasting drums, headbanging, singing, dancing, etc. Life itself. Shereign , Swallow the Sun, Ember Falls and Vorna were my “highly anticipating” bands, while Finntroll, Tyrantti and Satan’s Fall were also unexpected highlights.

I had been getting to Shereign as they released singles over the summer and was really looking forward to seeing Sara perform this new music style, their “best gig so far!” as the joke goes since it was the first and only gig (at least for a while, due to Sara’s pregnancy). On that note, one of the cutest things that happened at the festival (aside from at least one proposal on Saturday) was someone throwing a bunch of stuffed animal toys on stage during Shereign (presumably for Sara’s tiny human-to-be).

I didn’t have much expectations for Tyrantti but their show was very memorable. They were a perfect fit to open the festival on the main stage and warm the audience up… remind us what live music is about and get everyone back in the mood for the atmosphere we crave every summer.

Also, I had seen Finntroll many times before so I felt I knew what to expect and haven’t familiarized myself with their newest albu myet, but I had forgotten how fun their gigs are to watch and photography although they did seem to have a bit of the gigless corona stiffness, it wore off after a while and was easy to get back into the swing and conga-line of the music!

Swallow the Sun, well, what can I say. I can’t seem to go a year without seeing them, they’re like air. Just the beginning of their gig was breathtaking. They used “Sininen Uni” as an intro. It took hold and calmed the audience down for the more melancholic set of the day, and as the song faded in ghostly distortion, and the first notes of “The Giant” began, chills shot down my spine and I was almost paralyzed for a good portion of the song. Ok, disclaimer, this band means a lot to me so yes, lots of emotions and larger than life feels…. but anyway. Aside from that, As soon as Mikko walked out I had to chuckle as his pink shirt with a unicorn and “pessimisti” in bubble letters took a sardonic poke at the melancholy and intense emotions I was overcome with… but they are just too damn good. They could all be dressed as pink unicorns and they would still be able pull off the doom and gloom they are known and loved for. I had to noticed how raw Juha’s performance was, in his movement, in his face, he seemed completely present whether he wanted to be or not and it made my heart ache in every way.

I had seen Ember Falls for the first time at this same festival in 2016 and looked forward to their bright red aesthetic and dancey industrial vibe, but holy crap were they more than I expected! They seemed to have matured so much since the last time I saw them but still maintain the vibe I was looking forward to. I think they are one of the more underrated bands in that genre and hope they get more exposure! Looking forward to seeing them again soon!

Satan’s Fall was also a pleasant surprise, I’m not so into their style of music but the gig was much welcome in the Saarihelvetti lineup. A bit different vibe than the other bands but it tied the day together nicely.

And then there was Vorna, the best act on the second stage, unsurprisingly (and as unbiased as I can be). They are always a crowd favorite and you can never fail to see in the fans how much their music means to them. This year, in place of the blazing sun of last summer, came clouds and rain… but it only enhanced the beauty in their melancholy and made the gig even more special and unforgettable. The rain did not deter the audience for a moment, they stayed getting drenched to watch the gig, and it made for an incredibly epic show !

Although the bands seemed a bit stiff to start due to lack of gigging, ultimately you could tell most were enjoying hitting the stage again . As enjoyable as the festival was, they were still able to maintain a strict hold on mask wearing and safe distances when possible, providing sanitizer and face masks to everyone and keeping the boats as limited as possible. My only complaint was that there was no dry place for media to tend their work/gear as all the indoor/covered areas were open to the public and mediated with restrictive occupancies and we were not allowed in the VIP or back stage areas with only media passes. Hopefully next year we won’t need such restrictions but if we do, just a thought to the organizers, otherwise 666/10 would recommend! See you next year!

DAY 1: Shereign, Tyrantti, I Revolt, Finntroll, Spiritus Mortis, Swallow the Sun, Insomnium








DAY 2: Silver Bullet, Rytmihäiriö, Ember Falls, Lähiöbotox, Satan’s Fall, Lost Society, Vorna, Diablo, Atlas, Mokoma












INTERVIEW – Minneriket: “No walls, no barriers, no images, no politics, just pure, undefiled emotions. Raw, honest and self-reflecting. That is Romantic Black Metal”

Interview by Carina Lawrence / Dark Art Conspiracy

For the first time, the Norwegian music project Minneriket presents a full line-up of session musicians. Continuing the collaboration with Misstiq, Margarita Chernova and Norlene Olmedo introduced on the first new single, ‘Hjemlengsel’, which was released back in February 2021. The new single ‘Sorg og savn’, which was recently released on 25th June 2021, also features renowned musicians Māra Lisenko, Christina Rotondo, Elvann, Niklas Kveldulfsson, Ingrid.mariea and Maria Kosma. The latest single, Sorg og savn is the first glimpse of this new roster as vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Stein Akslen, the man behind Minneriket, expands his vision to bring forth a unique Romantic Black metal musical experience which is a sublime concoction of black metal, goth and classical music. We caught up with Stein to discuss this change in direction for him, the new singles and what the future holds, amongst other things. Find out all about it in this fascinating and insightful interview.

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INTERVIEW-LES CHANTS DE NIHIL: THE NEW ALBUM IS the most complex, rich, epic and brutal.

Interview with Jerry by Pavel Kovalančík

On the occasion of the fifth full-length album ‘Le Tyran et l’esthète’ (LT&LE), we caught up with Jerry, the vocalist and lead guitarist of LES CHANTS DE NIHIL (LCDN), and we discussed the new album, amongst other things.

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INTERVIEW – Zero Theorem: “No one is entirely what they may think or claim to be, even the most insightful among us”

Interview with Caesar by Carina Lawrence

Los Angeles based alternative metal act Zero Theorem recently released their third EP last month on 22nd January titled “The Killing II’. This EP has proved their most successful yet with the singles ‘Swarm’ and ‘Translucent’ both making it onto the Spotify Rock Hard playlist and Spotify New Metal Tracks playlist. Both also spent six weeks+ on Apple Music Breaking Hard Rock & Breaking Metal playlists; Pandora New Metal Now, New Rock Now & New Music Now playlists. They have generated over eight million cumulative audio streams and have a unique alternative metal mixed with sci-fi which their latest release fully embraces. We caught up with lead singer Caesar to find out about the new EP, their love of sci-fi and it’s influences, the upcoming tour with Fozzy and more.

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