Compilations have always had a special place in my heart, especially those offering a wide variety of styles within a genre and opening a window for local scenes. “Year Zero”, the newest release from Shalosh Cult label from Haifa, Israel, collects 8 bands and varied tracks from accross metal, grindcore, rock and metallic hardcore genres, and serves as a fine introduction to their local scene. To learn more about it, we had the chance to ask all of the bands a couple of questions and get proper details on their local underground music environment, as well as additional insights on this release.
Feat. powerviolence band Diekvar, hardcore punks ÖSTRA TORN, doom/sludge act NŪR, rock duo וEMMEK, post punk act Lower Splendor, death grind sludge punks KLUVIM, heavy hardcore pack XREGEVX, and MEUT.
Shalosh Cult (3C) is a collective based in Haifa, Israel running together since 2013. The group is handling as a label/booking agency/practice place for the bands in this comp. All bands on this swift assault on the ears recorded, mixed and mastered within the 3C space and personnel.
Please introduce your band, tell us a bit about your backgrounds and what promped you to form this band. Are there other projects you’re involved in?
EMMEK: We are Emmek, a duo from Haifa. we play heavy rock with emphasis on the heavier sound, yet trying to keep ourselves catchy and down right playing simple pop songs, Emmek consists of Nir Sapir on bass guitar and Gil Hazan on drums, our first band together happend when we were 15 and now Emmek is happening while we enter our 30’s. We formed Emmek out of straight boredom and the fact that we were roomates at the time in an appartment in a street called “emmek ha-zeytim” (valley of olives) thus our name, we were looking for a band like this for a long time, that on one hand can deliver simple, danceable tunes while using our knowledge of heavy sound to make these songs with extra fat on top and for us, that is a hugh part of what we consider Emmek to be. Nir sapir also plays bass on Ostra Torn who plays their version of crust punk/metal, and Gil Hazan also plays in Meut, a powerviolence band and Lower Splendor, a post hardcore band, also on drums. Gil also does the experimental noise/spoken word project “Yeled Effes” (shitty kid) and was the vocalist for now dead powerviolance band Diekvar.
NŪR: NŪR (light in Arabic and Aramaic – Ancient Hebrew) is a 4 piece Post Metal/Sludge/Doom band. NŪR formed from my (Eran) desire to play Post metal. Since the day I encountered ISIS the band and Neurosis back in the early 2000 i felt in love with the genre. in 2005 i played bass in an instrumental post metal band called Magnolia we recorded a short EP and then broker up. A few years later after the 2nd incarnation of Magnolia have broken up (around 2013) I started what will be come one day NŪR with Amit Eshbal. Then one day got a phone call and asked to join Barren Hope to play with them on there EU tour, I decided to put NŪR on hold and moved on to play with Barren Hope (Hardcore) but always wanted to get back and play Post Metal so when Barren hope broke up during 2014 i felt that its the right time for me to get back to what i wanted to play all this year. Asked from the bass player (ofri krischer) and drummer (aviv gozlan ) of Barren hope and from Amit Eshbal who started NŪR with me to start forming NŪR. During 5 years the band brooked up and got together with different band members until we got to this day form of NŪR (Eran Mazin – Guitar, Ben belial – Bass & vocals, Liam elias – Guitar, Eyal lat – Drums & vocals ) It was a long journey to get there but it was worth it.
OSTRA TORN: Hi, We’re Ostra Torn – Ofer on drums, Dean on guitar/voc, and Nir on bass/voc. Nir has a few other bands he’s part of (Emmek and Meut), Dean is part of another band called Regev, and Ofer is part of a few other bands (Water Knives/Giant Cellphone/Rowch). We formed this band because we’re friends who believe in similar sets of values, and because we wanted to have some sort of critical outlet of the social, emotional, and political situation we live in.
DIEKVAR: Were just four lost souls living in a shithole.
KLUVIM: Kluvim (Cages in hebrew) is a 4 piece grindcore band that was formed over the internet while Yossi our guitar player wrote on this little group if anyone wanted to start a band, I (Gozlan) told him to come to Haifa, he was from Ashdod at the time (southern city in Israel) while I was in Haifa in the northern part. After a few rehearsals together we decided to bring a bass player and Nevo was the first to come to mind because he was playing bass in another band that didn’t come to fruition. A little while afterwards Ben joined us on vocals and it all felt totally natural and fun for us to play together because we’ve never really played with each other in a band or known each other. Which was really cool for me because it felt like in this little scene of ours that I knew everyone already and nothing new could come out of the same people playing together over and over again. Nevo is playing in other hardcore punk bands such as Bygones (check out their EP its a killer) and Meut which is this kind of nonsense-punk band. I’m also the drummer for a few other acts such as garage-punk-rockers Jenny & The Delights, Yelena which is mostly improvised noise-drone band and in this Compilation I also play in Diekvar which by now is a defunct hardcore/powerviolence band. Kluvim is a teamwork effort and we’re still experimenting with our sound but we mostly like to write grind/death/sludge bangers that will be fun live as they are to listen to. I don’t know if I we have a certain goal other than to play music we would like to listen to ourselves.
LOWER SPLENDOR: We are Michal Leshansky- bass, Gil Hazan – drums, Yavin – guitar and Gal Turjeman- vocals. We were all involved in various projects past and present; among them are Batshitcrazies, Diekvar, Emmek, Yelena, Double Jackal, Sleep Furious, Barren Hope and numerous solo electro-ambient projects by Yavin.
Our tastes are rather eclectic, and so we aim to commingle harsh and softer sounds. This duality complements our lyrics that are as political as they are personal, an ongoing cry of profound existential sadness as well a resounding call for action.
MEUT: Hi we are meut which translates for ‘minorities’ even though we are far from being a part of the un-priveliged class in Palestine/israel we stand in solidarity with the opressed of this regime and any other. Nir Sapir on lead vocals, Nevo Sivan on guitar and backing vocals and Gil Hazan on drums are all apart of the underground scene in Haifa and try to stand as opposite as possible to the zionist/israeli nerrative. Meut was formed because all three of us were in the same place at the same time and around us, were instruments who make noises. Nir plays in Ostra Torn who also features on this compilation. Nevo plays in Kluvim, and Gil plays in Emmek and Lower Splendor.
xREGEVx: Hello! Liam here, guitar player of xREGEVx, a d-beat/hardcore band from Haifa, Israel. The band consists of me on guitar and backing vocals, Eyal Lat on lead vocals and Dean Levron on drums.
We started playing about a year ago. Eyal and Dean spoke with each other about just jamming for fun and they searched for a guitar player, so Eyal contacted me and I happily accepted the offer . We made our first rehearsal and ended with 3 different song to work on. the chemistry was almost immediate and since then the process was slow but fruitful.
Despite being a project mainly for fun and not as serious as our other bands, this band is a comfort-zone-breaker for all of us – with Eyal, usually a drummer, taking the vocal spot, and Dean, mainly a guitar player, taking the drumming spot. Another unusual thing about us is the decision to not include a bass player – instead, I split my guitar signal through both my Orange TH50 guitar amp, providing the high end, and a bass amp going through a super thick-sounding Marshall fuzz/distortion pedal, providing the low end. For all of us, this makes this project very special and allows us to do things were usually not used to do in other endeavors.
Me and Eyal, being close friends for many years, play together in most of our projects, to name a few – Nezek (Hardcore Punk), Nur (Post Metal/Sludge/Doom) and Bygones (Post Hardcore). Eyal also plays drums in a filthy, noisy d-beat/hardcore band called Akrabut, and Dean does guitar and vocals in the mighty Ostra Torn.
How’s your local metal/hardcore scene? Can you share your own personal opinion about its story, evolution and current state?
EMMEK: In my opinion (Gil) at least in Haifa, there is a very small scene and its really hard to divide the local scene into genres, so ill prefer to call it the underground/diy scene. Altho Emmek is a lot less heavy then most bands on this compilation and with a different target audiance so to speak, we still are a part of it and we often played shows with much heavier acts and thats my favorite part about it. The diversity that one night of shows can offer is unlike anything i have seen in othe places and no band sound close to the one before and after. I dont know exactly when you can pin point the time of the Haifa scene inception, all i know is that i got in to it through skateboarding as a teenager (still skating!) And through a cousin of mine who took me to my first show and ever since i fell in love with the energy, the music and the people around me which i still call my friends to this day. In Emmek and with everything i personally do in music in Haifa i try to allign myself with what was here before and what i want to see in the future, for Emmek at least, is to keep exploring the heavy sounds that Haifa is known for and apply them with pop sensability that will help get the lyrical content of the songs with a bit more ease. Like most scenes we have our ups and downs when it cones to venues and shows, and we sometine call it the 2- year cycle, on and off once in a while, but as of right now (end of 2019) the scene at least for me, have never been better with a lot of great bands, a local 100% diy venue “Beit – Hayetomim” (the orphanage) and a great turn out at shows, but, and specially in a place like Israel all of this can be very temporary so we just bow down our heads and keep working.
NŪR: I am at the age of 42 and i was there since the early days on the forming of the punk/hardcore scene of Haifa and played in different punk/hardcore/metal bands over the years. In the 90’s it was a struggle to set a show in Haifa there were a few punk bands then the punk rock blitz came with the MTV showing punk rock bands as green day etc… we got to a point were we had 300 ppl in Punk/Hardcore shows in Haifa this were the glory days of our scene in terms of ppl coming to shows. Like most hyped things in time this ppl moved on to the new cool thing in punk and the local scene got to be allot smaller but always active with 1 or 2 bands doing small local shows. Barren hope jumped started the local Hardcore scene and again there were full vanes with allot of new ppl getting to hardcore shows at kind of the same time Shalosh Cult was formed and started putting out Records and doing things to push the Haifa scene, More bands were formed from the ppl that are in the collective up to this days were Haifa was never more active by amount of bands that put up shows, put out records and do tours.
NŪR – “Water” video, off of the band’s debut EP ‘Light Emerges’, released on Suicide Records in February 2019.
DIEKVAR: In A way, for many years the Israeli punk scene had been influenced by the American punk scene. However, the last few years had seen a surge of Israeli punk bands trying to better understand and conceptualize what it means to be a punk in Israel, and what is unique about that experience, while somewhat being divorced from outer influences. Bands began to write more in Hebrew and explore topics who are unique to their experiences of living in Israel. Jarada, an Israeli hardcore-punk band, is a good example of what were talking about. Regarding the metal scene, we were never part of it and it was never truly a part of us. The elitism and right wing politics are so evident in the Israeli metal scene that we steered clear from it.
KLUVIM: I’m only 28 years old so I don’t think I could sum up the entire scene’s history, but at least in the past decade or so I was involved in a lot of the things that happened in Haifa in general. I could start talking about the “good old days” for me, but it’s all BS. Because for first time in years there are a lot of new awesome bands that based themselves in Haifa. and I love what comes out of this polluted city of ours.
LOWER SPLENDOR: Our scene is varied and inclusive. Currently the atmosphere is one of a more experimental nature; as opposed to earlier years were diversity in music genres seemed to be more limited.
MEUT: We are a product of our scene and we try to play ONLY in Haifa with the exception of the “punk picnick” events and the “Gravitzky” venue which is the best venue in the world, no joke. We try to have fun and get the party going without getting into the details of who started what, where and why. We just want to play fast and scream about the meaninglessness of life, everything we do and everything we love.
xREGEVx: The Israeli scene, and specifically the scene in Haifa, is something all of us are proud to take part of. Me and Eyal, both of us being disjointed, outcast kids, started going to shows a few years ago and we truly found a home within it. Despite having some lukewarm years and troublesome times, in the last year or so the scene in Haifa sees a renaissance of sorts – LOTS of new, hardworking bands from all different genres and creative horizons, exciting co-operations of different groups and collectives which do great things here, a passionate DIY spirit and generally a feeling of unity and companionship between most people.
What other bands should we check out if we dig what you guys are doing?
EMMEK: Right now theres a resurgance in good ol fashioned punk and roll, dirty, grimy sounding dark feeling bands such as xLODEADx, AKRABUT, ZIANID, SOCIAL VIRUS, NEZEK and BYGONES that really turn up the party, plus GUYGUY is a verry cool indie project along side MORACHAT LAKUM and SIRENOT on the more light side of music.
NŪR: You should check Akrabut t(Street Punk) the other band of our drummer Eyal as well as Nezek (Hardcore) the other band of our guitar player Liam also bygones an post hardcore band of Eyal and Liam and bass player of Kluvim who is the lead singer of that band.
OSTRA TORN: There are so many amazing local bands… but check out these awesome ones: Kluvim, Megason, Karkait, Leafter, Nur, Aason, Verminn, Akrabut, Moom, Raaul, Deep Half, Lower Splendor… and so many more we cant remember all of’em
DIEKVAR: If you really like us and truly want to understand the emotions and attitudes behind our band, our motivation and our ideals you should listen to Ofer Levi’s “Ru’ach Yam” ((רוח ים. Once you have completely absorbed this song into your broken little soul, you will truly begin to understand the magic behind DKVR.
KLUVIM: If you dig what we do than you probably know everything we love, bands like Napalm Death, Full of Hell, Deicide, Nails and The Body are probably what we will all agree upon as the best examples. but if you are more into the local stuff then we got crushing bands like Akrabut, Moom, Karkait, Turbo Torpedo to name a few.
LOWER SPLENDOR: Nezek, Morahat Lakum, Nur, Atameo.
MEUT: Check out Dir Yassin, Smartut Cahol Lavan (a blue and white rag), Nachei Naazaa, Hayehudonim (los kikes), Akrabut, xLODEAx and Karkait.
xREGEVx: From Israel – Moom, xLodeax, Aason, Turbo Torpedo, 666, Jarada, Rainbow Cobra, Karkait and, of course, our Shalosh companions Kluvim. Also should check out Spit and Diekvar, two other great band who are unfortunately not active anymore.
From abroad – Punch, Impalers, Torso, Dangers, our great friends from CZ aka the monstrous Decultivate, and obviously classic ones such as Converge, His Hero Is Gone, Combatwoundedveteran and Assuck.
Tell us about your inspirations and lyrical content of your contribution track to this compilation.
EMMEK: The lyrics to this track are really simple, Nir and myself took a taxi back home after a couple (a lot) of drinks, and right across where the taxi droped us we saw one of those big ass metal trash cans burning like hell and no one in the street was even fazed from it, it was completly bussines as usual which felt just like what we as a socaiety/humanity are facing, shit is burning bad and no one could care less.
NŪR: The lyrics for this song were writhen by our guitar player Liam Elias . Dead end is about a man’s braking point where one losses his own self identity in a relationship.
In the first paragraph it’s an anlage to an relationship where one side is looking for a change. Sec paragraph talks about really looking into this relationship and seeing how you come out in it and understanding the truth about what it really is and understanding that if this relation with any kind of a person is not good for you since you go and lose yourself in it to just get up and make the change that will help you move forward.
OSTRA TORN: We’ve been trying to insert some positive energy and “light” into our otherwise dark and cumbersome milieu. Our lyrics deal with overcoming obstacles of the mind, and maneuvering between what we know and what we feel. It seems people from all sides of life are dealing with basically the same questions: how to deal with fear, how to overcome obstacles or how to be a better person. Sometimes in life often we need to know how to listen and not change or fix the person or the situation in front of us, and in some moments when we feel we have to do something – we have to do it.
DIEKVAR: For ages the Jewish people had been living in “diaspora” among the various nations of the world. From the 19th century onwards, a new idea, that is Zionism, had resonated through the Jewish communities of the world. Early Zionist thinkers had imagined Palestine (or the “Holy Land” or “Erez Israel” – depends on who you are asking and when), as a cultural and religious bi-national center for the Jewish people alongside the Arabs who were living on this land. They had imagined this new state built on communal solidarity and an understanding that both Arabs and Jews have a right to live peacefully. However, these ideas of a bi-national state had quickly turned into a full-blown colonial and imperial enterprise backed firstly by British imperial support and thereafter by American imperial support. Waves of Jewish immigration had quickly turned the land into a haven for Jews, who began fleeing Europe due to the Nazi persecution, but had ostracized the Muslim-Arab community leaving it with little support or solidarity. In this context, this song is a utopian one. It dreams of a world without modern Zionism and extreme nationalism. Furthermore, it views Zionism as a hereditary disease, passed from generation to generation with a hope it could be cured one day through compassion, humanism, and a solidarity between all sentient beings.
KLUVIM: This one is a cover to legendary black metal act Mayhem. I think the riff and overall vibe was our goal. we don’t usually sound like that and it was a cool experience for us to play a little slower and more rock n’ roll oriented tune. The band’s work is a tremendous influence on my musical taste personally.
LOWER SPLENDOR: This is a political song; it refers to the racism, hypocrisy and greed that fuel the bloody steamroller that is the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
MEUT: Our lyrical inspiration fuel is beer and lots of it, weed thank you very much and the fact we live in a dystopian world which in it everything is stupid but everyone are content being stupid, we fit right in the void of that beast and try to keep our friends entertained.
xREGEVx: The song started from me writing a short crossover-tharshy riff while experimenting with AGCFAD tuning, which is one of my favorite tunings to play in, especially if you’re in a band with no bass player and need a bit more low end. I showed Dean the riff and we finished the instrumental part of the song in about an hour. later he wrote the lyrics and the song was done.
Lyrically, the song is about facing and dealing with fear – Dean explains that “Back Against The Wall” is a literal description of a life-long method of self relief for him, and so, as implied by the lyric “whatever that crosses our line, forever may lead us aright”, describes how we should all be not afraid of being afraid and learn to move and evolve forward from all that indeed “crosses our line”.
Ok, so what’s next for you guys? What do you have planned for the coming months?
EMMEK: For the upcomming months we plan to release a video clip to the track that is on this compilation and another single backed with a video clip and a small documentry about the process of writing, rehearsing and recording it, cool things to come and we cant wait!
NŪR: We are currently working on a new album and plan to go into studio hopefully come this December then put out our album around Feb and start touring again, We have many shows planed for the next coming months in Israel.
OSTRA TORN: We’re in the midst of finishing up our second album that’ll have 8 new songs on it. Other than that we’re planning on going on a long European tour in the middle of 2020.
DIEKVAR: Most of us are playing in new(er) bands such as Kluvim, Emmek, Lower Splendor. We move faders, program computer stuff, work behind a counter, and teach for a living.
KLUVIM: We had a HECTIC year where we released 2 EP’s (Lo Yikre & Melech Met), toured Europe twice (once with NUR) and right now we are writing and recording for future releases. We are also taking a little break from shows because we really wanted to focus on new material and step up our game in the next releases to come. No plans of stopping anytime soon haha!
LOWER SPLENDOR: In the next few months we plan on recording our second EP and continue performing live.
MEUT: Come to Hang out with us in Haifa, maybe see a show get drunk and sleep on a strange smelling mattres with a strange smelling person, satisfsction guarenteed!
xREGEVx: Two weeks ago we pretty much finished writing our first release, which we plan on recording on a four-track tape in the next month or two. Apart from that, we have no shows or big plans as of now, but we are always open for invitations!
Thanks so much for your time. Feel free to share your final words and take care! Best regards from Warsaw!
EMMEK: LONG LIVE FREE HAIFA!
NŪR: Be good to each other and never give up your dreams of making your music!!
OSTRA TORN: Final words?… Well, we’d like to say that for us to wake up in the morning and make music – is a statement. We feel this is how we shed light on an otherwise dark and violent existence – especially in the racist country we live in. We feel this statement is timeless, but is especially important nowadays.
DIEKVAR: Essentially, DKVR is dead. We only preform in events which have a larger social agenda such as benefits for Women’s shelters or animal rights. We love each other but can hardly stand each other. 18-440.
KLUVIM: Less talk more grind!
LOWER SPLENDOR: “In endlessly denaturing what still seemed natural, the history of trade has reached a point where either we perish with it or recreate nature and humanity completely afresh. Beyond the inversion in which death battens on life, life leaps up, and swiftly sketches society where pleasure comes of its own accord.” Raoul Vaneigem, The Book Of Pleasures
MEUT: LONG LIVE FREE HAIFA!
xREGEVx: SUPPORT SHALOSH CULT! BUY THE COMPILATION! Also a big shoutout to Gozlan and Kirill for engineering this entire thing and to Tami for the magnificent artwork. Love you all. TUNE LOW OR DIE <3