*now up on MetalReview.com!
Thursday, October 25, 2007
*now up on MetalReview.com!
I truly believe this may have been one of the best interviews of my career; one of the longest, too! Look for it in an upcoming issue of Hails & Horns Magazine. I've posted some highlights from the interview below.
Cannibal Corpse has been around for over twenty years now, and has always been an integral part of the death metal scene. This style of music (and the people who love it) has undergone a plethora of changes and evolutionary steps over the years; it’s progressed, it’s regressed, it’s been bastardized and turned inside out and upside down until it’s almost unrecognizable. What do you think of the death metal scene nowadays?
I think it’s stronger than ever. There’s a lot of great bands out there, we’ve got great bands with us on this tour. There was a time when most people wanted to say that death metal was dead, that extreme metal was dead. That was the talk in the late ‘90s, early 2000s, but obviously we never felt that way, we were still around playing death metal. I think its gonna keep getting up there, and I hope that if it does we’re there to lead the way and be a part of it. I think it’s been getting bigger and bigger each year, and we’re thankfully a part of that. I think it can only go up. I don’t see how it could go down. There are too many good bands out there.
Why do you think that extreme metal and its offshoots have been enjoying such an upsurge in popularity over the past couple years?
I don’t really know.. I would like to think it’s because of all the bands have been busting their asses all these years, but unfortunately that’s probably not it. I’m sure certain people in higher places media-wise have opened up to it a bit more, and that kinda makes me mad. I’m glad that people are giving death metal more of a chance, but I just wish those people woulda given us and all the other death metal bands a chance years ago instead of just now coming down of their high horse and being all, “oh, now its good.”
Well, you know what, it was always good, fuckface! It’s never been bad. I mean, look at Immolation; shit, they’re fuckin’ gods, and they’ve been around even longer than we have, and a lot of people might not know who they are, unfortunately. I think that that’s the way things are fuckin swinging, now, that everyone’s getting a shot at the home run, taking it all the way to the fucking top. So, in the end, it’s about the people and exposure. It’s getting a lot of exposure now, and the people who are getting turned onto it are realizing that the stuff that they thought was heavy wasn’t shit compared to some of the band in death metal. Some of the stuff that’s really popular right now, that people perceive as heavy, it’s heavy in its own right but to me, it’s not extreme the way death metal is. This music is the best, and I hope it just goes up up up, skyrockets!
What do you think of that “underground” sort of mentality that deems you a sell-out as soon as more than six people have bought your album?
Well, you see, the underground is the lifeblood, that’s the people that’ve been there from the fuckin’ start. There are kids who listen to us that obviously don’t know who bands like Aeon or whatever are, they don’t know about all the bands that are out there playing right now; I don’t like to say we’re mainstream, but a lot more people know who we are than some other bands because we have a really big fanbase. But, a lot of that is rooted in the underground, that’s where we came from and I think that’s why we still have out foot there. I mean, it’s not a bands fault how popular they get; you keep playing, you keep doing shows, you keep getting yourself out there, people are gonna know who you are and come see you and bring people who obviously have never seen us or don’t really know anything about death metal, and hopefully they walk away thinking, “Wow, this is better than I thought it was.” A lot of people can’t get past the vocals, you know, “raah raah raah.” They wanna understand the lyrics and whatnot, but you know, you might not really want to hear what our lyrics are about (laughs). We bring in a lot of other people who have never heard us before and hopefully we turn them into diehard death metal fans just like us. We’re not gonna be around forever, but we want this music to stick around; there are bands coming up now that are half our age, but they’re good band and they deserve the attention, they deserve for people to sit up and take notice.
Why is death metal so important to you?
It’s been my life for years. When something’s been a part of your life for so long…I mean, yeah, who doesn’t wanna make money and sell albums and be famous or whatever, but we want this music to live. It’s given me a lot of the stuff I have. To me, the lifeblood is the people, like the underground. The people make this music and make this scene what it is, so I hope that it continues because when I’m too old to do this, I still want to be able to listen to it, and if it’s gone I won’t be able to! I know its selfish-sounding, but I’ll bet you anyone who was at the show tonight will tell you the same thing. If you stick with this music for the long haul, you want it to stay around. I want metal in general to stay around for as long as possible.
Music really can mean everything to a person.
It’s life. It’s music. Music is a big part of peoples’ lives. It moves the soul, as they say, whatever the fuck that saying is.
How did you get into metal in the first place?
It was either one of my uncles or my father, can’t remember which, but they had a Black Sabbath album and that’s what got me started listening to music, really. My mother would play Elvis and fifties stuff, but Black Sabbath started me listening to what I view as music now. I heard that and was like, “Whoa!” And that was that; from then on, I started listening to Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept…
Have you heard the new U.D.O.?
No, actually, but I’m sure it’s good; it’s U.D.O. We actually did a cover of “Demon’s Night”, we’re all Accept fans. I don’t think they get as much credit as they should. Everyone knows them for “Balls to the Wall”, that was their big hit, but I think their earlier stuff was even better than that.
The old stuffs always better, its metal!
Yeah of course but I mean, I think their first album reigns all over that! Most people know “Balls to the Wall”, at least people my age.
It’s my ringtone!
That’s great! That’s awesome. Haha, that’s funny; "Balls to the Wall" as your ringtone, you can’t go wrong with that. They meant a lot to a lot of bands, when I heard “Fast As A Shark,” it was all chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga (air guitars) – it just blew me away!
Okay, so, I promised a buddy of mine that I’d ask you this question for him. For some reason, he’s convinced that that Cannibal Corpse has a restraining order against Jim Carrey, due to his “constant hounding and following the band around.” Is here any truth to this at all?
Where the hell did you hear that? No! Hahaha! Whaaat? Lemme tell ya, the only time this guys even hung out with the band was when Cannibal did Ace Ventura, and I wasn’t even in the band. He’s never come to a show that we know of, at all, I don’t think he's ever come to one, even when we did the movie. Even if he doesn’t like the band anymore, he did at that point, and we got to be in that movie; even though I wasn’t in it, it a still cool. I couldn’t believe that they were in it. That’s the first time I ever heard that one!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I'll be interviewing NIGHTWISH on Tuesday at the Pilly date of their North Amerian tour wih Paradise Lost. Not too excited about it, but hey - a byline's a byline (same mentality I had when I interviewed As I Lay Dying, hah!)
There are a few things that slipped my mind and need following up on - OM, Explosions in the Sky, Immortal Souls, Winds, Between the Buried and Me, and god knows what the fuck is going on with my Gaahl/Trelldom interview. That one's been a pain from Day 1, and I still haven' gotten it straight yet. Gah!
Upcoming reviews for MetalReview.com:
Tuesday, 10/16 - Nightwish/Paradise Lost
Friday, 10/19 - WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM/Witchcraft
Saturday, 10/20 - Stinking Lizaveta/Birds of Maya --- Sil Veth/The Green Evening Requiem (two shows, one night - I roll deep)
Monday, 10/22 - Explosions in the Sky (possibly. the $50 price tag is pretty unattractive for a band I saw just last year)
That's about it for October, unless something interesting pops up or bars start letting me in with my HI I'M UNDERAGE I.D. Sooo bummed to be missing Weedeater :( Fucking bars. Also, I'm more than likely going to be missing Jesu/Torche, since they're playing Philly the 19th and NC the 20th, and I have other show planned for both days. Here's hoping Broadrick cops out like he did last year, so I don't have to deal with missing the show ;)
WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
Interview for Hails & Horns Magazine
By now, most of those who consider themselves “in the know” when it comes to the dark inner workings of the black metal scene have heard of the enigmatic American entity that is Wolves In The Throne Room, and have more than likely been spinning their first full-length, Diadem of Twelve Stars, non-stop. Along with like-minded black legions Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega, WITTR have risen above the corpepainted masses as purveyors of a new, more adventurous branch of BM that’s been quietly bubbling beneath the genre’s filthy surface for a few years now. Two Hunters, their highly-anticipated second long-player and first for Southern Lord, has been hailed as a masterpiece, and rightly so. The Wolves have been toiling ceaselessly out on the road, playing with the likes of Jesu, Sunn 0))), Earth, Ludicra, and Witchcraft, and are currently out on tour now. Keep an eye out for tour dates, because WITTR live is nothing short of an awakening, and something that cannot be missed. An un-named band member was gracious enough to answer a few questions for Hails & Horns; his answers are thoughtful, sometimes angry, sometimes positive, but always genuine, much like the band itself. Read on.
Why does Wolves in the Throne Room exist?
For me, WITTR is a musical manifestation of a deeper life-vision. I value heathen spirituality, handcraft, reverence for nature, tradition, ancient wisdom and ways of life. Our modern culture values only comfort, ease and material wealth. We put forth the idea that we, as modern people, have forgotten that the earth and the cosmos is filled with divine spirit; we see our planet as nothing but raw material to create our baubles. Wolves in the Throne Room urges people to hear a more ancient and true song. If we do not change our consciousness, mankind is doomed. . This is our last chance to save ourselves. After 1000 years, the forests will return and the seas will be cleansed, but our race will be no more. Perhaps so much the better.
How far to you plan to take this project – will WITTR be around twenty
years from now, or do you think that you will have accomplished what you
set out to do with this band by then?
I cannot imagine playing this music for more than another few years. It is very emotionally and physically taxing to enter the dark and mythic spaces that we explore in Wolves in the Throne Room. We plan on burning our candle bright until there is no light left.
As difficult as it is to pin down something like WITTR at all (let alone in
a sentence), if you had to describe the band in one simple word or thought,
what would you say?
I describe our music as purifying Black Metal.
Much is made of your anti-modernist, nature-oriented worldview, and the
manner in which you live your personal lives. The stylized image of a group
of modern pagans living alone in the deep dark woods is a rather romantic
idea, one that appeals to a great many people and has lent your band a
certain mystique. How deeply does your way of life affect your music, and
WITTR expresses the spirit and the philosophy of how I want to live and what I value.
For me, the music and my chosen lifestyle are one in the same. If anything, WITTR involves a good deal of compromise. I do not think that a traveling rock and roll life is a healthy or sustainable one. It is perhaps a suitable response to our particular modern situation, but I have very mixed feelings about it. I usually feel that I should spend more time at home deepening my knowledge of farming or building or hunting or weaving or any of the one thousand crafts that one might learn about.
So many black metal bands cite nature and the elements as inspirations for
their work, or decry modern civilization and call for a return to our
heathen ways. Then, at the end of the day, they go home to their
air-conditioned apartments, order a pizza, and check their band Myspaces.
Wolves in the Throne Room is quite obviously not this sort of band. How do
you feel about the existence of such hypocrisy within the scene you’re
most often associated with?
Well, we are all hypocrites to some degree or another. We all must decide how much of our souls we will sell to the modern machine. We tour the country in a gas-guzzling tour van and rely on a massive financial/cultural complex for our needs on the road. My wife and I use a tractor to till the fields and spread manure. I cut the firewood with a chainsaw. I have a cell phone. But we strive for a much different existence! My farm provides the majority of my food. Our music attempts to touch a transcendent and ancient spirit. We feel ideologically and spiritually removed from the beastly culture that tries to engulf us.
I really have no opinion about what other black metal bands do. I have no interest in any band who does not attempt to live by the values that they express in their music. I rarely look to musicians for my inspiration for this reason.
The USBM scene has been receiving a lot of attention and validation lately,
due in no small part to Wolves in the Throne Room. What are your thoughts
about the merits and drawbacks of this scene and the musicians within it?
I know little about the USBM scene. In my experience, there really is no such thing. Our band has a rather unique vision and philosophy and we don’t feel connected to any metal scene.
Your sound is very often compared to that of USBM legends Weakling. I’m
sure it must become tiresome to be constantly likened to one particular
band, no matter how influential or worthy they are. Who instead would you
cite as your peers, both ideologically and musically?
There are some bands in the bay area we feel an affinity with, Ludicra and Asunder being two of them. They both share our DIY and anti-commercial spirit.
What inspires you to create?
I am inspired by the anger and hatred I feel towards foolish and greedy humans. It is terrible to watch beautiful forests and farms scraped away to make room for hideous death-boxes. I am equally inspired by deep gratitude and love for nature and a desire to find a traditional and life-affirming way of living.
How did Two Hunters come into being? What is the writing process like for
It was actually a very slow and painful writing process. We were all extremely focused on some of the other things that we do and the music was often left for weeks or months with little progress. This album was unusual in that the story came first, then the central musical themes and then the actual arrangements. Usually, songs are created organically by the three of us.
You chose to use very specific methods in the recording of this album,
shunning crutches like Pro-Tools and astronomically-priced producers and
instead choosing to record on analog equipment and work with Randall Dunn,
a like-minded soul who’s twiddled knobs for Earth, Boris, and Sunn 0))).
Why did you decide to do things this way?
We have no interest in the hyper-produced sound that mars much commercial metal music. Relying on drum triggers, for instance, is utterly anathema to our aesthetic and our ethic. Wolves in the Throne Room is a live band. I think that it is important to capture that live energy in the most direct and honest way possible. Randall is a master at recreating the intense sound of a very loud live band on tape.
Please describe how you came to work with Jessika Kinney on the Two Hunters album, and also with Jamie (Hammers of Misfortune) and
Dino (Asunder), the two guest vocalists on the previous album. Did they write their
own parts, or act more as “hired guns”? Why did you decide to work with
these two particular individuals?
All three of these people brought a great deal of emotion and power to the two recordings. We only work with people who we trust, so we feel very comfortable just giving someone an idea of what we feel the song needs and then let them create.
Unlike so very many other black metal bands, Wolves in the Throne Room shun
corpsepaint, spikes, stage names, and pseudo-Satanism. Such props and
affectations seem as if they would have no place in your world, and many
would say that they are entirely unnecessary within the genre as a whole.
What are your feelings on other bands’ decisions to utilize such things?
Why have you decided not to?
It behooves is to remember that Black Metal was created by a group of disaffected teenagers and the aesthetic that has come to define the genre reflects that. I think that it is inappropriate and even very silly for grown men to religiously adopt the style of pissed-off children. The original Norwegian black metal touches an elemental vein of archaic power – this is what interests us. The trappings are of no importance.
Black metal bands often refuse to play live, for a variety of reasons (some
more legitimate than others). WITTR, on the other hand, is known as a
fearsome live force that has played with such diverse groups as Sunn 0))),
Jesu, Weedeater, Ludica, etc. Why do you play live? Do you feel that your
music translates well ito a live setting?
We exist in order to play music in a live setting. I think that we are most successful in conjuring the energy we seek when we are able to loose ourselves in the deep catharsis that comes with the emotional outpouring of live performance. Recording music is often a more logical and calculated endeavor.
After your upcoming tour, what will be the next step for Wolves in the
We will return to our home to focus on the other parts of our life. I hope to have a new barn built by spring that will create more space for animals and tools. We might try to play some shows in the late winter and it is possible that we may begin work on a new album. We must wait and see if we are inspired or not!
Any last words, thoughts, or messages?
I would encourage people who resonate with the energy of Black Metal to look deep inside themselves to understand why. It is a waste to have transcendent experiences with nature or music and not use it as a catalyst to examine ones life. We live in dire times!
Thanks so much for the interview, it's an honor!
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Interview for Hails & Horns Magazine
So I just caught you guys a few days ago at Philadelphia's First Unitarian Church, opening up for Municipal Waste (direct support slot, at that!); your performance blew me away, so I just had to track you guys down. What did you think of the show? Philly loves thrash, and from my vantage point near the front, I could definitely see you winning over some new fans .
Scott (guitar): The show was absolutely amazing!! It was our first time playing at the First Unitarian and I was blown away by the intensity of the crowd and extremely impressed with the venue. I definitely did not expect the total fucking blowout that was the Philly show.
How is the tour going so far? Or, perhaps more importantly (you guys are on the road with the band that wrote "Drunk as Shit," "Beer Pressure," and "Born to Party," after all), how are your livers holding up ?
Scott: The tour has been killer, meaning fucking fantastic, and meaning deadly to our livers. The members of Municpal Waste and Toxic Holocaust are some of the best individuals one could ever hope to tour with and it's been a complete rager! Two highlights include a keg party in Cincinnati (where various unmentionable acts occured) and the "Heavy Metal Celebra-tante Ball" in Cleveland, which featured members of Municipal Waste, Skeletonwitch, Toxic Holocaust, Goatwhore, The Absence, Black Dahlia Murder, The Red Chord, Chimaira, Hatebreed, Machine Head, Vio-lence, Midnight, Rammer, and Keelhaul. Pretty fucking insane!
You guys were an interesting addition to the bill. While all three bands on this tour fit fairly comfortably within the thrash genre, Toxic Holocaust and Municipal Waste tend to fall on the more punk/crossover side of things while you guys are obviously as metal as Lemmy's left nut. Do you guys feel like the odd man out, or is it a good fit?
Scott: Haha! All this time I thought Lemmy's right nut was the most metal of nuts!! To answer your question, we really enjoy it. It's great to bring some other elements of metal to the tour. We enjoy the challenge of turning punks and thrashers onto death and black metal as well. And, of course, we have more than a healthy dose of thrash in the Skeletonwitch sound.
What's the craziest/worst/best thing that's happened to you during your years of touring?
Scott: In Louisville, a completely naked man was moshing, got turned upside down and his feet and legs were rammed through a ceiling fan and the ceiling tiles. The owner came out and stopped the show in an effort to stop her bar from being destroyed. It turns out she was more trashed than any of her patrons. She stopped mid-tirade, took one look at "naked guy", pointed to his nethers and led the whole bar in chanting "small dick bitch". That was an odd night.
Your latest record, Beyond the Permafrost, is being released by modern metal/core giants Prosthetic. How did you end up on the label? Are you happy with the relationship so far?
Scott: We ended up on the label the old-fashioned way: touring as much as humanly possible and sending out demos to everyone that we could possibly think of. So far we've been very happy with Prosthetic. We have a very good dynamic: the harder we work the harder they work, so we continually try to push them. They're willing to take my daily barrage of calls and go along with some of my crackpot schemes.
What is Skeletonwitch's writing and recording process like?
Scott: It all starts with Nate, the other guitar player. He locks himself up for days on end and emerges with a cassette tape recorded on his 4-track. He circulates the tape to the rest of us and we throw in our changes, leads, new riffs to be added, etc... We just kind of go back and forth until everything is where we like it. Sometimes we don't change anything. The guy is a fucking riff-monster!
How do you feel this latest release measures up to your previous work?
Scott: This is the most happy we've been with a release yet. I think the sound quality and the quality of our songwriting has all been tightened on "Beyond the Permafrost."
According to the Metal Archives, Skeletonwitch play "black/thrash." Usually the 'Archives are pretty unfuckwithable, but I've got to disagree with them on this point; you guys definitely incorporate plenty of black metal elements into your powerful thrash metal core, but there's a lot more going on than just that. You've got razor-sharp, almost NWOHM-esque dual guitars, for one; catchy melodies abound, a frantic punk rock feel kicks the album into gear and there's just enough death metal mixed in to keep it brutal. How do you manage to incorporate so many different styles into your music and still manage to create such a cohesive, original sound?
Scott: Listen intensly to Exciter, Morbid Angel, Manilla Road, and Immortal, play a lot of guitar, and get drunk as shit on really cheap beer.
Who would you consider to be your peers?
Scott: Midnight (from Cleveland) and Rammer (from Toronto)
What are your thoughts on the current state of metal?
Scott: I think metal as a genre is thriving. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of stuff coming out these days that we're really into, but as a whole I think metal is doing very well. It's actually kind of exciting to see so many young kids into metal. I don't mean to sound too negative either, there are plenty of great new records out there. There's just a LOT of shit out there too! haha!
Thrash is cool again, it seems; the "retro thrash" revival has become the latest trend, one that has both given birth to a spate of righteous bands, and launched a fleet of imitators. Do you feel that Skeletonwitch gets lumped into that scene, despite the blatant stylistic differences between you and the legions of denim'n'high-tops thrashers coming out of the woodwork? Is Merciless Death right when they howl, "Thrash is back!"…?
Scott: Hahah!! Great question!! I'm glad you think the stylistic differences are blatant. Perhaps you could tell that to a few other journalists!! hehe! We definitely get lumped into that scene, and I take that as a compliment but don't necessarily think it's fitting. We are doing something that, in a lot of respects, harkens back to more traditional or "old-school" metal but rather than dwell on a classic style, we like to give it a kick in the ass and add some black and death metal into the mix. Those styles are equally important to us.
What inspired you guys to form the band in the first place? What did you aim to accomplish when you first started out, and how close have you come to achieving those goals so far?
Scott: I met Nate right after his old band, Serkesoron, disbanded. He had a four-song demo that he recorded on his trusty four-track. It blew me away!! He had the tunes, and the beer, and he needed somebody to play them and drink them, and I fit the bill! It all came together rather quickly. Our drummer Derrick and our old bass player Jimmy were local guys who played in a lot of different bands, and Chance our singer, is Nate's brother. Compared to a lot of bands it didn't take a long time to find like-minded individuals.
Beyond the Permafrost features some killer artwork from John Baizley (who also did the new Baroness album cover). How did you guys hook up with him? Did you guys come to him with a concept already, or did you give him free reign?
Scott: John has been a friend of ours for several years now. We've played with his band Baroness on numerous occasions. They're great guys and a great fucking band!! John also did the artwork for our self-released "Worship the Witch" EP. We were ecstatic to have him on board again. Basically, we gave John a bunch of ideas and imagery that we would like to see and he took it from there. He's great to work with because he will periodically check in and send you sketches so you can comment on the process. Not many artists are willing to do that!! I'm sure he cringed every time he sent an e-mail, dreading all the changes we would ask him to make!
What is next for Skeletonwitch?
Scott: A month long tour in November supporting Dying Fetus!! We are very fucking excited!!!
Any last thoughts, ideas, or messages?
Scott: Fire up the skullheads and listen to Mercyful Fate!!!
***Thanks so much for the interview! Can't wait 'til you come back to Philly!
Darkthrone, F.O.A.D. (Peaceville 2007)
*unedited review - edited version will be published on MetalReview.com soon!
By now, I’m sure that every metalhead with working knowledge of a computer and even the slightest inclination towards laughter has seen the so-called “101 Rules of Black Metal.” Pretty funny shit, though a few jibes hit a little close to home for some of the more grim-nekro-kvlt BMers out there (come on, you KNOW you don’t actually listen to that Ildjarn demo recording from 1993!). Remember Rule #94,“Own every Darkthrone release. Listen to exactly none of them.”? Well, I guess it’s safe to say that I, uh, am pretty fond of Darkthrone, and admittedly have a bit of a soft spot for the crotchety old bastards. Do I own every Darkthrone release? Save for a few uber-rare demos and bootlegs, hell yeah I do! Do I listen to every one of them on a more or less daily basis? You bet yer ass I do! So take your “clouded frost spire” and shove it.
Like so many others, I cut my teeth on Soulside Journey and A Blaze in the Northern Sky during my fledgling teenage forays into the realm of black metal. A few years later, I gleefully searched out their shittily-awesome demo recordings and scorned the legions of copycats who I deemed barely worthy to lick Fenriz’s scuffed black boots. I forgave them for the lackluster efforts of the recent past, and rejoiced at their triumphantly pissed-off return with The Cult is Alive. Now it’s 2007, and the masters of ravishing grimness are back with a charmingly-titled new record (I feel bad for all the baby BMers who’ll have to convince Mommy that Fuck Off And Die is a perfectly reasonable addition to their Christmas lists) and a helluva bad attitude to go with it. So, what’s the new Darkthrone album like?
It fucking rocks!
That’s right, it rocks – it’s fun as hell to listen to, and doesn’t give a flying fuck about what you or anyone else has to say. F.O.A.D. is Darkthrone doing what they do best – whatever the fuck they want! Look, this isn’t Transilvanian Hunger. It’s no Blaze, it’s not even Plaguewielder, and it’s definitely not “Norsk Arisk Black Metal.” Darkthrone have (somehow) managed to regress even further past their ultra-primitive blackened roots and gone back to the very beginning, conjuring up an album that’s as much or even more rock’n’roll and gutter punk as it is black metal. They took the blackened punk rock of The Cult is Alive and ran with it; F.O.AD. is even more stripped-down and irreverent, and owes more to Amebix and Motorhead than to any corpse-painted purists. As much flak as the band is sure to receive from the Kvlt Police, I’ve got to say, I’m digging this new direction. It’s killer to see such an established, iconic band actually going somewhere new with their music instead of just releasing the same album over and over; the world doesn’t need another “Under the Funeral Moon,” but it definitely needs a band like Darkthrone.
There’s more musical variety on this disc than on any of their other releases. They still throw in some good ol’ tremelo picking from time to time, but from the slow, doomy lurch of “The Church of Real Metal” to the Motorhead/Celtic Frost-worshipping, crusty sneer of “Raised on Rock to the more traditionally fast’n’muffled “Splitkein Fever” and crawling necro sludge of “Banners of Old,” every song sounds unique (a tough thing to do if you’re, you know, Darkthrone). As far as vocals go, I’m a little sad to say that Nocturno Culto has ditched the throat-shredding raspy croak in favor of a more straight-forward, gravelly yelp, while Fenriz amuses himself by doing his best Lemmy impersonation throughout. As per usual, the bass is nonexistent, but by now, you’d better be used to it.
The lyrics are going to be one of the things that make or break this album for some people. Songs like “Canadian Metal,” “The Church of Real Metal,” and Raised on Rock” are utterly tongue in cheek, totally self-aware, sometimes nonsensical, and chock full of shout outs and references to other bands. It’s a bit strange to hear one of black metal’s icons yowling about Manilla Road, but hey…to each his own.
Bottom line – F.O.A.D. isn’t really a black metal album in the conventional sense, and compared to Darkthrone’s past works, it’s a departure and a half. That doesn’t make it bad, though. Nocturno Culto and Fenriz have spat out a rockin’, headbangable slab of punk/thrash/black’n’roll that may alienate older fans, but may very well be the spark that’s needed to keep them going. Give it a listen and see what you think; you owe ‘em that much.
Friday, October 12, 2007
1. Tell them every metal band worships the devil.
2. Ask if all black metal bands are trying to copy KISS or just most of them.
3. Hide their joint under their library card.
4. Ask if they know of any other cool bands like Slipknot.
5. If they’re listening to metal, tell them it sounds like some mainstream band. Doesn’t matter who.
6. Say it’s all a ripoff of Iron Butterfly anyway.
7. Ask if they’ve given their souls to Jesus yet.
8. Vaguely imply that you’re gay and would like their company for the evening.
9. Record over their Cannibal Corpse albums with other Cannibal Corpse albums and see if they ever notice the difference.
10. Refuse to accept their fake I.D
11. Ask how much Dio got paid for his role as Stuart Little.
12. Use the phrase “cookie monster vocals” and act like it’s the funniest, most original thing you’ve ever come up with.
13. If they’re listening to metal, tell them “These guys don’t have talent. Now, those guys have talent!”
14. Say “What is vinyl?”
15. Point out how stupid Manowar is. If they agree, which they shouldn’t, tell them the only thing more stupid is Black Sabbath with Dio.
16. Tell them it all sounds the same.
17. Admit that Cliff Burton was a dirty hippy who had already peaked musically.
18. If they say they love 80s metal, ask them whatever happened to Poison.
19. Tell them you like underground music too, like Godsmack.
20. Point out that Tarja from Nightwish can’t sing.
21. Insist that Emperor videos would be better if they used a dance troupe.
22. Ask if Mayhem is Marilyn Manson’s band.
23. Divert their CD shipments to the local Jewish community center.
24. Write “God Loves You” on their Venom backpatch.
25. Point out that just about every genre of music has an underground with bands who have integrity, so metal really isn’t that unique.
26. Post under their nickname on a power metal board and say Ray Alder shits all over John Arch.
27. Take out the Iron Maiden disc and put in 50 Cent.
28. Give them a spiky pop-punk haircut while they sleep.
29. Pronounce “Celtic Frost” correctly.
30. If they’re over 25, say that people can still rock even if they have an unplanned child or two and drive a grocery getter. Then point and laugh.
31. Tell them you’re not hiring and to try the other Cinnabon down the street.
32. Sit quietly and applaud politely at a metal show.
33. Make them be sober for five whole seconds.
34. Ask if Randy Rhoads was on the same flight as John Denver.
35. Tell them Korn brought metal back to life in the 90s.
36. Turn the bass way up on their stereo.
37. Laugh at Slayer for stealing their name from the Buffy show.
38. Call Doro fat.
39. Call them on their horrible grammar and/or spelling.
40. Remind them that metal is partially derived from the blues. Then accuse them of being widgets.
41. Use the phrase “balls in a vice” at least three times when talking about classic metal and/or power metal vocalists.
42. If it’s a guy with long hair, address him as if he were female. Don’t correct yourself about it.
43. Be impressed with how much RoadRunner Records has improved over the past ten years.
44. Say you love Metallica’s debut, The Black Album.
45. Notice that Lemmy hasn’t moved his left hand in 30 years of playing bass. Haha.
46. Refer to metal as “that kill-your-father rape-your-mother stuff.”
47. Ask them if their favorite band is so good, how come nobody has ever heard of them?
48. Pine for the good old days when” Pour Some Sugar On Me” was a big hit.
49. Tell them you used to be a metalhead, but grew out of it when you started listening to more intellectual stuff like…
50. Post a list of “Ways To Annoy Metal Fans” knowing full well that so many of them internalize everything and can’t take a joke.
This just in -
Not only has the new Anaal Nathrakh album, "Hell is empty, All the Devils are Here" leaked, thanks to one of my favorite metal blogs...I haaave itttt.
I don't think they'll ever top "The Codex Necro" as far as I'm concerned, but it's always interesting to see what these dudes have up their sleeves. SO PUMPED to be seeing them at Maryland Death Fest this year! \m/ Along with the millions (like, literally millions - they've expanded the fest to 3 days of aural mayhem) of other bands. Can we say Coffins, Blood Duster, Repulsion, Impaled, Disfear, Ghoul, and Grave? Oh hell yeah.
Isn't that artwork just gorgeous? We just got the new Elvenking record in at the office, and I picked up a copy due to a hazy recollection of their last album, which I believe I gave a pretty positive review on Pivotal Rage. I remembered them as sounding pretty folky and awesome, but upon my first listen to "The Scythe"...insta-cringe! Where the fuck did those ridiculous power metal vocals come from? Clearly, my memory failed me, and I was dreadfully mistaken about this band's presumed righteousness. Baaah. The artwork is still amazing, though.
I got a lesson in how-to-be-a-merch-girl today from Paula, the main lady behind Candlelight USA (aka my boss). Basically, the trick is to look dumb and rip everyone off as much as humanly possible! Gotta love the music industry, man. \m/
Speaking of Paula, that reminds me - Nightwish/Paradise Lost is coming up next week. She's doing tour production for them and was telling about this awful situation the bands are stuck in - they gave six grand to this guy who was supposed to be driving their van for them, and now, with two days before the tour kicks off, they have yet to hear from him. So they have no money and no van, and a hell of a situation! I've got an interview with Nightwish on the Philly date of the tour, so I'll have to drum up some interest in what those operatic twats have to say. A byline's a byline, man. At least I get to see Paradise Lost for free!
It's getting colder outside. The sky is darker and the wind is beginning to bite. That can only mean one thing...time to break out the really raw shit. There's nothing like listening to Ildjarn's "Forest Poetry" on a freezing night to make you feel like you're alive.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2007: METAL BLADE ANNIVERSARY TOUR @ THE TROCADERO (PHILADELPHIA, PA)
I was pretty pumped for this show, in spite of the lackluster line-up; out of five bands, I only wanted to see two (Cannibal Corpse & Goatwhore) but I reeeallly wanted to see those two, haha! Whatever, I wasn't paying for it - I'm doing a feature on Cannibal Corpse for HAILS & HORNS MAGAZINE, so I was there to interview Corpsegrinder. I was nervous as all hell since he's, like, Corpsegrinder and all, and Cannibal Corpse were one of the first "extreme" bands I got into when I was younger. I don't get star-struck very easily anymore (it's not very practical to do so if you're in my line of work) but that dude had me cowed. Luckily, he was an absolute sweetheart to me - respectful, thoughtful, and with a genuine love for death metal that you don't see very often nowadays. I guess it comes with being one of the old guard - one of the originals. Dude talked my ear off, and I didn't get out of there until around 12:30pm, but luckily for me, curfews are a thing of the past!
As for the show itself...eh. The Absence put on a much better performance than when I saw them with Vader/Kataklysm/Destruction/Graveworm back in '05, and their new record is pretty dece, but I'm so over melodeath it's not even funny. Goatwhore always massacre live, so even after seeing them four or five times now, I was still enthralled. I'd hung out with them at this year's incarnation of the so-called Sounds of the "Underground" tour, and hit it off with Zack (drums), so I ended up spending a good amount of the show backstage with him, drinking cheap beer out of funny plastic bottles, getting drunken hugs from Sammy Duet, and shooting the shit. I'd say we're about as tight as two people who see each other every six months or so can be, so I was happy to see him again. Being back there meant that I didn't hav a very clear idea of how the show was progressing, so I ended up missing the Red Chord (I saw them years ago in a fire hall, playing with my buddies the Concubine and a bunch of piss-poor Jersey metalcore bands; didn't impress me then, don't impress me now) and most of the Black Dahlia Murder's set as well. I've seen them a couple times now (I think in '04 at Ozzfest, then opening for Nile in '05) and thought they sucked pretty hard in a live setting. Seeing them at the Troc this past week changed my mind about them, though; armed with longer hair and a frankly killer new album, TBDM put on a more than acceptable show. Cannibal Corpse's set wasn't quite as amazinglyawesome as I'd anticipated; to be honest, they were kind of...boring. Zack and I only stayed to watch a few songs before retreating back to the dressing room for more beverages. I still love you, Cannibal Corpse, but...it just wasn't working. Maybe next time <3
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2007: HIGH ON FIRE/MONO/PANTHERS/COLISEUM @ TLA (PHILADELPHIA, PA)
I wasn't entirely sure if I was going to make it to this show. A folk punk matinee (Defiance Ohio! love) that day had left me sweaty and danced out, and and a messy breakup earlier this week had me a bit leery of going to see Mono, a band that had significance in the relationship, but by the time 8pm rolled around, I'd decided to throw all that to the wind and suck it up. I ended up missing Coliseum, which was a bummer, but I did catch Panthers, and am hella glad I did. They were, to betray my South Jersey upbringing, FUCKINNN,' MAD GOOD! I picked up their new album at their itty-bitty lil' merch table; gotta say, they come across much better live than on CD, but whaddayagonna do. I'd describe their sound as bottomed-out, feedback-heavy doom interlaced with rawkin'-ass riffs and a decidedly Clutch/Alabama Thunderpussy-esque vibe, with whiskey-soaked vocals to match. Good shit. Japan's MONO was up next, and damn were they good. Like pretty much everything musical to ever come out of Japan, these guys have taken something Westerners are used to and totally switched it up/improved it/mindfucked it entirely. Mono is post-rock, but not quite like anything you've heard from the genre previously; this ain't Mogwai, kids. They verge upon indescribable - the sort of music that needs to be soaked into every pore and breathed out in slow, deep sighs, the kind that washes over you and sucks you in and doesn't let go until the last keening squeal of feedback dissipates. It's music made for sleeping with your lover to or staring at the sky in a purple haze; it's fucking good, is what it is. I was blown away (obviously). High on Fire was headlining, and I knew they could be counted on to put on a good show. By then I'd managed to find some of my buddies from Relapse, so I had a motley crew of longhairs to rawk out with. HIF played until about 12:30, drawing pretty evenly from all of their albums and causing many a head to bang. I personally would have been fine with a 45 minutes set, but hey - I don't call the shots. Yet. Haha! After the show, we grabbed some pizza at Lorenzo's before heading off to the Relapse after-party. It was technically an employee/band-only type of thing, but since I know everyone and I did intern there for a hot minute, I was welcomed with open arms (and more cheap beer). We stayed there until 3am or so, before crawling back to our respective lairs and nursing our poor tattered eardrums back to some semblance of health.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2007: DARK FUNERAL/NAGLFAR/DAATH/SIL VETH
This definitely qualified as an adventure. I befriended Sil Veth, a Philly-based melodic black metal band, after seeing them open for Fintroll last month; turns out, the vocalist/guitarist, Alex, lives a few blocks down from me, so we've taken to hanging out. He's a fascinating guy, and the rest of the band is awesome, too. At any rate, when I realized that their show with DF/Naglfar fell on a Tuesday (my day off) I made arrangements to ride up with the guys in the, er, Sil Veth-Mobile. We managed to fit 7 people plus gear into that van; it was impressive, if not exactly comfortable. We got there almost two hours late ('sup traffic?) but managed to catch the opening band, The Green Evening Requiem. Awesome, awesome stuff - like a more blackened/death-ened(?) Opeth with a distinct Agalloch-y vibe. I picked up their demo, and can't wait to see them play on the 20th. I played it for my boss Stve today actually, and he said he'd put a good word in for 'em over at the UK offices if they sent a press kit over. They're that good. They were followed by a couple other local bands - a decent thrash outfit called Black Gauntlet, then some shitty metalcore, then my friend Jamie's awful goth-rock/black metal-ish band. Half of Sil Veth was still in transit by the time they were supposed to take the stage, and by some stroke of fortune the other 4 members ran onstage just as Alex and Rusty were setting up. They only got to play two songs, but they still blew everyone else away. I handled their merch and made a few bucks (probably aided by my miniscule Darkthrone shirt and strategically-placed Sil Veth stickers, tehee); I told them that I'll be their merch girl whenever I'm around, because it's fun and I love those dudes. So there's another thing to occupy myself with! As if I didn't have enough. Anyways, I was behind the merch tabe for Daath, but from the sound of it, I didn't miss much - they were decent but unremarkable. Naglfar, on the other hand, were pretty damn good for a band that hasn't toured in 16 YEARS! They didn't play anything I wanted to hear, and were way too heavy-handed with material from Pariah, but they were still better than Dark Funeral. I'd seen DF before, opening for Enslaved; they were boring then, and were even more boring this time. I mena, honestly...there's a reason the term "Norsecore" is constantly applied to this band. Blasbeatblastbeatblastbeat for an hour and a haf? No thanks. We left after a half hour, ended up getting insanely lost thanks to a detour on the turnpike, and finally got back into our 'hood at like, 2:45am. Ugh.
So that CD I'm holding? That would be an insanely-rare copy of Burzum's Daudi Bauldrs album; it's rare/collectible because of a small printing error on the cover. I know the picture has it backwards, but see how the end of 'Burzum' is cut off, and it just says "Burzu"? There are only a few copies like that in existence...and I haave oneeee, necause my boss is awesomeeee. Exciting.
Just a couple other thoughts-
We got the Elvenking promos in today, and the new Witchcraft album. The packaging on that bitch is righteous as hell; I grabbed a copy for myself. I'm more than likely seeing them in NYC next week - WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM are playing in Brooklyn, Witchcraft is inexplicably opening, and Steve (bossman) said we'd probably take a "business trip" up there to support Witchcraft (and so I cna lose my mind over seeing WITTR). Even more exciting.
Oh, and just to utterly negate all and any metal cred I've built up over the course of this post...I just got the new Agnostic Front album in the mail today, and popped it in my stereo on the way to work...
...and it's AWESOME. Hahahaha, I love idiotic fast-as-shit NYC hardcore, but really...how can you not? So tuffff it's blinding.