Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Reviews For Unrestrained! #39: Landmine Marathon, Total Fucking Destruction

Rusted Eyes Awake
Level Plane 9.5 Kim Kelly

I’ve gotta admit, I was a little apprehensive when I first heard about this band. So, you’re telling me that what we’ve got here is a female-fronted, metal/hardcore band from Arizona, that, instead of ripping off whatever third-generation deathcore act is burning up the Hot Topic sales charts this week, channels the earliest days of death grind glory and melds the battle groove of Bolt Thrower with the nasty gutterbeats of crust punk? I smelled a rat. Luckily for me (and you!), Landmine Marathon is the real fucking deal, and Rusted Eyes Awake is one of the best records I’ve heard all year. The Bolt Thrower influence on Rusted Eyes Awake is loud and proud, fused with that classic Earache groove’n’grind that digs up shreds of Morbid Angel and even old-school Entombed. Hell, they even got that filthy, bottom-heavy guitar tone just right. Add in a fine layer of crusty grime by way of Doom/Discharge and some seriously gnarly vocals, and there you have it - a truly wrathful death march to victory. Singer Grace’s raw-throated growl puts glamazons like Angela Gossow to shame (and I’m dying to ask what brand of firewater she’s been downing – that girl sounds like she’s been gargling a throat’s full of broken glass since the day she bought her first Infest patch). I bet this band annihilates live, and leave a trail of blood, smoke, and broken forties in their wake. In grind we crust, motherfuckers!

Peace, Love, and Total Fucking Destruction
Enucleation Records

Kim Kelly

As a band, Total Fucking Destruction may just possess the most fitting moniker out there. Not content to simply grind your face into a bloody, blastbeaten pulp, TFD take it upon themselves to provide the blistering soundtrack to a total breakdown of societal ideals; an apocalyptic war on terror, justice, and all that we hold dear. Equal parts performance art, breakneck grind, and vitriolic social commentary, TFD aim to destroy – and damned if they don’t deliver. Peace, Love, and Total Fucking Destruction is the band’s debut for Enucleation Records, and it’s like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Imagine the Minutemen on crystal meth, and you’re halfway there. Tempered with the band’s signature hashgrind and a bevy of anthemic punk rock singalongs (that quickly descend into gibbering madness), the sonic experimentation, balls-out mindfuckery, and straight up rock’n’roll found on this release defies convention, description, and, er, pretty much everything. Add in some of the best song titles this side of AxCx –see “Seth Putnam is Wrong About a Lot of Things, But Seth Putnam is Right About You,” and “Fuck the Internet” for proof of that – and you’ve got yourself a TFD record. Not for the faint of heart or the orthodox grindfreak; this one’s for the open-minded, the conspiracy theorists, and the eternally pissed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mystical Occult Metal: The ORDER OF ENNEAD Gather

Mystical Occult Metal: The ORDER OF ENNEAD Gather

For Unrestrained! Magazine

Kim Kelly 2008

Building upon an existing legacy of brutality, the shadows behind blackened death metal marauders Order of Ennead are poised to strike fast, hard, and deadly at a stagnating scene. Borne from the ashes of progressive death metallers Council of the Fallen and the restlessness of creative minds, the band quickly came together and recorded a bloodthirsty debut album (soon to be released by extreme music mainstays Earache Records). Sticksman Steve Ashiem (of Deicide infamy) took time out of his hectic schedule to explain the origins of the band, their debut record, and the universe itself.

“Scott was working with Kevin in Council of the Fallen, and when I finished tracking “Til Death Do Us Part” with Deicide last fall and had nothing planned for the next year, I wanted to keep busy with something. Scotty mentioned CotF, gave me some demos, and I decided to jam with him. We started writing the first song at that first practice and put a song together every practice until we had an album’s worth. I think everyone’s already being well-versed in the workings of a band – you know, how to write, record, tour, etc – and being quite proficient musicians and eager as hell to work made this band come together very quickly and work at constant progression. It’s definitely not just a project – too much work went into it. Kevin might say that it’s a continuation of CotF for him since he wrote for both, but for me at least it’s a new thing, a new vibe, and a new direction. Definitely a new sound and style compared to CotF. The thought of being labeled as a “members of” band never occurred to me – I just see it as a bunch of dudes making an album.”

Like most of the bands that fall under the umbrella of “black/death” these days, Order of Ennead is definitely a brutal, unrelenting force, but unlike many of their peers, take a rather cerebral approach to the style - displaying both an acute sense of melody and a strong grasp on the importance of writing an actual song, as opposed to a series of “parts.”

“It starts with quality musical ideas. Those can be molded and structured into anything at will. That’s how I see it, anyway. Like clay – you make of it what you see, it doesn’t make itself. The same with music, except it’s what you hear. Don’t just look at your fingers; listen, and ask yourself what it needs and where it can go. That’s what I do, anyway.”

That attitude is apparent on “Order of Ennead,” the group’s self-titled debut. Steve explains the title (or lack thereof) by saying, “I think it’s appropriate for a debut to be self-titled, plus it leaves room for the concept of the band name itself to sink in without a separate title getting in the way. The band name is title enough.”

Speaking of the band’s name, one must ask: Just who were the Ennead, anyway?

“The band’s name stems from a creation myth. The Ennead were the nine givers of life and culture to the universe – the original being, and the eight offspring. It’s as if they were nine, but one. They are attributed with giving all spheres of culture and knowledge to man, bringing them out of the stone age so to speak. The “Order” of Ennead is a concept we created to acknowledge the existence and importance of the proliferation of all knowledge itself. Sounds a little grandiose, I know, but you asked!

As is fitting for such a cosmically-minded group of individuals, Order of Ennead’s lyrics tend to steer clear of genre clichés. Instead of screaming bloody gore, they turn their voices upward – and inward.

“Kevin writes the lyrics, and generally does steer clear of the shocking style of lyric writing. He tends to deal with what he’s seen and learned about himself and others, on a grand scale and on a very personal scale, as well. Some of his lyrics are quite positive in nature, as a matter of fact – the deal with vision and empowerment. For Kevin to write gory, evil, or otherwise explicit lyrics just wouldn’t be his style. He’s being honest with himself in a very clear and concise way, writing lyrics that only a focused and clear-minded person could write. I think that says a lot about him.

Kevin writes all the riffs, too. He comes up with the parts, gets a nice basic arrangement going, and if there are any issues, I’ll help him out with arranging/structure. Between the two of it, we pretty much get it done!”

The album’s celestially-themed artwork only serves to solidify Order of Ennead’s position as something “different.” Instead of decapitated heads or inverted virgins, the cover of “Order of Ennead” is simple – a singular star, engulfed in flames and flanked by eight smaller planets (meant to represent the other eight members of the Ennead), framed by imposing columns straight from an ancient temple.

“I came up with the concept, and an artist named Summer Lacy did the artwork itself. I thought that the idea of the Ennead and all that it represented to me was bigger and more vast in scope than anything we could touch or see plainly. To illustrate that, the image of that which we all reply on yet have little knowledge of and absolutely no control over, the Sun, represents the one original. Around it are eight planets, of course all reliant on the sun, spawned from it as we all are. All of them together represent the nine of the Ennead on a large scale, which in turn represents the vastness of the still-untapped knowledge which is right in from of us all, waiting to be discovered. Again, grandiose, but you asked, haha!

The band’s fresh take on a flagging genre, coupled with the preexisting relationship they had with Steve’s other band, caught Earache’s eye and led to an easy partnership between the band and label. Given their past dealing with Deicide and legendary back catalog of death metal classics, it just “makes sense,” as Steve said. As a death metal lifer, he has seen the rise, fall, and resurgence of the American death metal scene, and while he has already done more than his fair share to keep it going strong, is still hell-bent on making more progress.

“Honestly, I think the scene and the attitudes have changed very little. It’s been the same since I’ve been involved and was probably the same long before I showed up! I think now what’s different is that most genres have been invented and defined and there’s no new ground to cover. The good thing is that all the different styles of meal are still viable. By that I mean that everybody is touring somewhere, both the old bands and the new bands of all styles. It’s a fuckin’ free for all!

Personally, I’ve been on a quest for self-improvement, as far as my drumming goes, so I’ve been pushing myself in that regard for years now. I’ve also been pushing myself to stay busier in general with Deicide, Order of Ennead, and whatever else comes up. I guess I’m inspired by creativity itself, and a lot of different types of music that you might not think I’d be into, but the common thread, no matter what style or age, is that it’s all very well-crafted musically and structurally.”

While guitarist Jon finishes up his degree at NYU, Steve and, as of recently, Kevin busy themselves pulling double-duty in Deicide and the Order, which Steve hints may possibly yield more Deicide/Order of Ennead dates in the near future. While they stay occupied with touring, promoting, and eventually working on their next record, those of the Ennead will keep a very simple goal in mind.

“To produce quality work on tape and live, and to actually work as much as possible, grow the band, and see what happens. Why not, you know?”

FOR THE SICK: On the Southern Nihilism Front with OUTLAW ORDER

OUTLAW ORDER 00%- Mike IX Williams

Interview for Unrestrained! Magazine

Kim Kelly

FOR THE SICK: On the Southern Nihilism Front with OUTLAW ORDER

New Orleans, Louisiana just might be the hottest place on earth. Not temperature-wise (though try walking down Bourbon Street on an August afternoon in jeans and a black longsleeve and see how much you like it) but moreso in terms of attitude. During the weekend I was there this past summer, I witnessed more warm hugs, sultry looks, heated barfights, and fervent consumption of alcohol (that Kentucky bourbon sure burns on the way down) than I’d seen in my hometown all year, and it goes without saying that their music scene is positively sizzling. The NOLA underground is famous for its tight-knit community of musicians and supporters, who between them have produced some of the best and most enduring albums the extreme metal world has ever seen. Anyone who’s ever soaked in the oppressive, heatstruck intensity of Crowbar, Buzzoven, Acid Bath, and Eyehategod knows just how potent, gripping, and sinfully heavy the New Orleans sound can be, and that that dirty, dopesick swamp sludge is unlikely to ever clean itself up or fade away. A true product of their environment, the battleworn dirt worshippers of Outlaw Order have arrived on the scene with a new full-length and a hell of a lot to say. The man behind the microphone - Mike IX Williams – was kind enough to shed some light on the inner workings of this infamous group of doomed souls and expound upon the virtues of non-virtuous behavior. Welcome to the end times.

“Outlaw Order came into being out of the boredom and frustration from being in EyeHateGod and idly waiting for Jimmy Bower to finish touring with all the other bands he was in. I mean EHG has had a whole slew of troubles, and Jim's by no way the only or first person to go out on his own and pursue other avenues, but that's the main reason that the few of us decided we wanted to still play together and continue on the same New Orleans inspired path. Crime and all of its influences and effects is the 00% concept. To damage & confuse society through threats and propaganda is our aim and to open their eyes to the corruption of the criminal justice system and world of evil cops and police brutality. Our manifesto is the Siege Mentality, which basically is a more detailed combination of the the 'concept and aim theories' + our vision of class war and chaos. A full written manifesto will be released on a future date on our web-site...”

What is it about New Orleans that breeds metal and punk? It seems as though everyone I met down there was in at least two other bands, and everyone loved Black Flag as much as I do.

”I don’t know why NOLA breeds so many great groups; one reason could be that we are semi-isolated in our widespread scene and we make our own entertainment from scratch. It’s funny you say that about Black Flag, they are highly regarded down here as a major influence for a lot of bands. Different eras in Flag’s career - some will say My War, some may say the Process of Weeding Out, others will harp on the Damaged record all fucking night. I love ALL of it, but I personally dig the early records and am a big Jealous Again fan. I've seen Black Flag over 6-7 times all on different tours, even back with Dez singing in 1980-81 or something. I lived in a home for boys when I was younger and we snuck out and walked like two miles to see them. I've got all kinds of Black Flag gig stories.”

I’ve got to say – I’m a huge EHG fan, and when I found out that there was a band out there comprised of 4/5 of the band, I couldn’t have been more excited. Outlaw Order really is made up of a veritable who’s who of the NOLA sludgecore scene – Soilent Green, Crowbar, Hawg Jaw, and, of course, Eyehategod. How do you guys find time for all your projects? Do you ever tire of playing the slow stuff?

” Well, first of all thanks for the support and your love of the music, it’s much appreciated! Firstly, it’s not all slow stuff, and, no we never get tired. I'll sleep when I'm dead. I like to keep busy, it keeps me out of trouble! We are all like that here in New Orleans. Playing music and writing and doing art is our way of life. I'm at a point in my life where being serious about the music supersedes getting high. It used to be the other way around. Also, my 80's Hardcore Punk worship band, Arson Anthem, is definitely NOT slow in any way. I really can't stand the 'sludge" label, it seems silly and an easy way out for writers with no creativity. I mean I'm a music writer as well and I'm guilty of using all the generalizing terms like 'Speed/Death/Thrash/Black etc, but I don’t know, I guess when it comes to describing the music we've invented ourselves down here, it can't pinpoint exactly what we do. They can try and pigeonhole it, but it’s gonna be a waste of everybody's time.”

I devoured the Legalize Crime EP, and am unbelievably stoked on the full-length. Why the five-year gap between Legalize Crime and Dragging Down the Enforcer?

”The majority of the songs were written back at the same time as the EP and we never planned to let the un-recorded songs go to waste ‘cause they were so good, so me & Gary (Mader of Hawg Jaw) never gave up and truly believed that we would get the tracks laid down sooner or later. The long period of wait was due to not trusting a fucking soul in the record industry. We still don't, but some friends at Season of Mist made us an offer and it looked better than 99% of the others so we grabbed it. Finally recording those songs was a great feeling, as is playing them live. It’s energetic stuff coming from us, not as doomy, but still fucking heavy as shit.

How does DDTE differ from the EP? Was this version of "Double Barrel Solves Everything" re-recorded for the full-length? What can you tell me about the new record?

”Yes, that tune was definitely re-recorded, of course. Sonically, this LP is miles apart from the Legalize Crime EP, much better production, better engineering and all that. We did it with a relatively unknown buddy of ours, David Troia, at the soundboard. He's worked with Down, Arson Anthem, Mudvayne, Otep etc. We went to him because, besides being fantastic at what he does, it was very comfortable and he is a part of our inner gang of friends. The studio process was simple, cut and dry, no bullshit y'know. That's the way its gotta be with us - it’s Rock and Roll, it should be no frills and raw. We did clean up the trademark feedback of EyeHateGod a bit and we have a lot more lead guitar work done by Brian (Patton of Soilent Green) than EHG ever had, but its still destructive, in yer face, Southern and crusty.”

You’ve expressed a desire to distance yourselves from the Eyehategod connection – well, not exactly "distance," per se, but to establish yourselves as a unique entity with your own identity. Do you consider 00% to be a side project, or a whole new band? How does 00%’s sound and aesthetic differ from that of EHG?

”Yeah I wouldn't say distance ourselves from EHG at all either, but we ARE a separate outfit with a totally distinct set of values and a more 'going into battle' vibe I would personally say. Outlaw Order is NOT a side project, it is a touring, writing, fresh version of our Southern Punk and Metal. EHG's lyrics are more on a personal level I would say. More about getting through life and love, hate, addiction- a lot about addiction was brought up in that group, relationships, things of that nature. 00% is still always embedded in reality at all times. We are also about the consequences of your actions and the direct action and illegal behavior of others, especially the lawlessness of those in power in this country. Outlaw Order’s lyrics tackle reality based subjects like class war, police brutality, injustice in the courthouses and jails, destroying the upper class society, working shit jobs, y'know, everyday stuff about throwing a monkey wrench or two into the system, etc

What does part does Outlaw Order play in your life, overall? What part of you does participating in this project satisfy?

Mike IX - The same primal thing that all of my bands satisfy, the pure expression of the ancient art of destruction of other peoples’ eardrums. Outlaw Order plays a part in the Outlaw Order part of my life. By the way, the main description of the name of this band is Outlaw Order, as to make disorder out of order, to turn organization into disarray.”

What is it about this type of music that you love so much? What got you into it in the first place, and what bands would you recommend to younger kids who are just starting to get into the sound?

”I love EVERYthing about this certain type of music, it goes without saying, but I'm into all sorts of stuff. I got into Rock and Roll when I was way young, stuff like Sabbath, Kiss, Cooper, Stones, then later on to Ramones, Sex Pistols, Clash, Discharge, Dead Boys, Germs, Stooges, etc.. I mean you name it, if it’s intense and interesting I'll check it out. The mid-80's were Exodus, Slayer, Sodom, Bathory, Pentagram, Obsessed and on and on and on....Now I dig any and everything in between the insanely amazing cracks of all this junk. To a kid getting into heavier and/or extreme tunes, I'd say, please check out the history of all this great music. Don't be close-minded. Learn where the modern stuff came from. You won't be sorry. Don't limit yourselves, that’s how new and original strains of cool shit happen.”

What’s next for Outlaw Order after the release of the record? Can we hope to catch you guys on tour anytime soon?

”More writing and all the usual things a band does. We just played a killer show last week and yeah we'll go on tour for sure, we're going to Texas very soon then plan on the rest of the world. The LP will be out November 25-26th. Go the following addresses and check out our sites, also order my book 'Cancer As a Social Activity' in its second printing from
www.southernrootspub.com or www.thehousecorerecords.com
Also check out:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Kim Kelly '08
*Unrestrained! Magazine

A cold wind is blowing. The days are getting shorter, shadows are getting longer, and the skies are beginning to wash themselves grey. Another autumn lays itself to rest as winter draws near, ushered in by the dazzling glare of the full moon. It’s the perfect time of year to curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and a black metal record, and Winterfylleth’s icy blend of grimmest blackness and ancient folk is the ideal soundtrack to a dark, silent night. The spectres of a proud and bloody past make their voices heard on “The Ghost of Heritage,” a blackened paean to the band members’ collective ancestry. Wreathed in atmosphere and richened by primordial chants, the album somberly forges ahead at a glacial pace, then suddenly, without warning, plunges headfirst into a raging storm of pagan fury as bloodthirsty as the warriors whose virtues it extols. Hail Heritage. Hail Winterfylleth.

As is fitting for a band whose members’ hearts dwell in the past, the roots of Winterfylleth run deep. Once fate (and email correspondence) led them to discover a mutual appreciation for European black metal and cultural heritage preservation within one another, Chris and Simon began writing what would become the first Winterfylleth demo, Rising of the Winter Full Moon. After recruiting Richard as a second guitarist/vocalist and also inviting him into Atavist (with whom Winterfylleth shares members), the circle was complete, and the band recorded their debut full-length for Profound Lore, entitled The Ghost of Heritage, which was released on October 14th, the date of the actual “Winterfylleth” - the ancient heathen festival to welcome the first full moon of winter. Based upon a desire to “create music that we would consider to be a representation of the spirit of our ancient lands, incorporating the aggression and passion perhaps associated with ‘Black Metal’ but with also a melodic slant that derives from the folk song and choral singing of our predecessors. Winterfylleth is also geared around raising the profile and awareness of our nations’ history in a country where we seem to be losing our National Identity, and whose general populous is confused about their ancestry because of over Political Correctness and Cultural Pandering on the part of our government. While we don’t feel we can directly influence political change or lobby against this level of political ridiculousness at a musical level, we can try to make people aware of what being ‘English’ has historically meant, and reinforce a sense of identity among a culturally confused populace,” explains. Chris.

Winterfylleth brand themselves as “English Heritage Black Metal,”and channel their immeasurable love for their homeland and its history through an unholy combination of menacing black metal and pure-hearted English folk. Comparisons to countrymen Forefather and like-minded Irishmen Primordial are inevitable, but the pure scope of imagination and depth of understanding these young men have of Britannia serves to set them apart.
“We are obviously heavily influenced by the legends and folklore of our land, which not only convey a spirit that is very close to our hearts, but in the same way represent the spirit of our native people, and therefore that also of our land, in the same way folk music does. Folk music is after all, the music of ‘the folk’. The people’s music! The area that we come from is geographically ideal for wandering our beloved land. On our doorstep we have the awesome and mysterious Pennine ‘Peak District’, a favourite area of ours (and one that you can find us exploring most weekends!), the epic and beautiful Lake District, the West Pennine Moors, vast and bleak Yorkshire Dales, and also the Snowdonia Mountain Range, to name a mere hand full. Most of these sites inspire our music in someway. Musically and lyrically they are all based on an interesting story and how it relates to the 21st century whether it is historically or ‘spiritually’.. It is this affinity for the land/culture and a willingness to share it with people who are unaware of it which drives our lust for learning and teaching about our heritage and land.

Such devotion to one’s homeland is surely a rare and inspiring thing to see, but, as always, the Continent’s bloodstained past may shadow the perceptions some of us have about a band that takes such visible pride in where they come from. Sometimes, the lines between what can be called national socialism and what can be called national pride are blurred, and innocent bands suffer the consequences due others who uphold far more unsavory beliefs.

“Our view point is very staunchly patriotic and proud, but is also geared around raising the profile and awareness of our history. In Winterfylleth we don’t ever worry about how we are perceived. If a magazine or an individual wants to compare us to Graveland or whoever then that is their prerogative and we can’t do anything about that. The media would much rather draw attention to a bands nationalistic viewpoint as Nazi, or Racist quickly, before they can be branded as supporting it and potentially losing sales / reputation because of their affiliation. With that in mind it is interesting to look at the dictionary definition of the term Nationalism: - devotion to the interests or culture of one’s nation. Funny, isn’t it - it’s not ‘Raving Nazi’ like the media would have you believe. In Britain, it has gotten so bad that it almost feels like the national flag is being associated with racism and that to wear it, display it or associate with it is somehow victimising the cultural minorities that live in England, which is total oversensitivity & propaganda in action. If, in whatever we do, we are saying/doing something outrageous or inaccurate then we would welcome people/media/naysayers to debate with us or question us – as we are open and honest people – but if people independently decide to portray us in a bad light without speaking to us, then I’m afraid their ignorance is their own problem and only furthers to advocate the futility of their existence. It is a journalist’s prerogative to report on facts, not on rumours and therein lays the problem of ‘The Media’ as a whole; it is far too ideologically motivated.”

As articulate and well-informed as its members may be when it comes to matters of culture and politics, Winterfylleth’s main focus is, of course, the music.

“The black metal element of our music has definitely been influenced by bands and musical projects such as Hate Forest, Walknut, Drudkh, Skyforger, Sunwheel and related projects, Enslaved, Wolves in the Throne Room, Primordial, Negura Bunget and most definitely Ulver. Bands that, for us at least, have an understanding of cultural affinity and a mix of melody/musical diversity within the ‘Black Metal’ format, by pushing the boundaries of what can be a sometimes limiting genre. The melodic/folk slant to our style derives from the folk song and choral singing of our ancestors. We are trying to deliver these songs in a way that incorporates our modern influences but is also true, in some way, to the history of our past-cultures’ music and practices. Also, the folk spirit that resides within the band runs quite deep. Take for example Simon (who grew up around folk music), his parents and siblings are heavily involved in the traditional and modern folk scenes and play in numerous different folk bands. There is a certain ‘spirit’ to folk music that draws us to it and in part it is this ‘spirit’ that we would hope to rouse in people listening to our music. We definitely feel that both folk music and certain types of black metal can manifest fantastic audio representations of the spirit of a group of people from whichever part of the world they come from. In that way they are fantastic forms of music that compliment each other perfectly, but with Winterfylleth we go one step further incorporating elements of Gregorian Monk Chant as well as some of the heavier atmosphere of doom metal in songs like ‘Forging The Iron Of England’ from our debut album.”

“Most of the debut was written by me and Simon coming up with ideas at home, bringing them to rehearsals and expanding upon them until we were happy with what we had created. Myself and Simon both independently wrote sets of lyrics based around stories we were interested in or a place that we had visited, that we felt conveyed the message of the band in a way that, links the struggles of our ancestors with the struggles of modern civilisation and informs listeners about what being English has historically meant. For example, ‘An Englishman’s Verse’ deals with uniting the various groups of Northern Europeans that made up our isles saying “Norman, Saxon, Gael, Celt / Into This Fine Mixed Mass Ye Melt”. The point of this being to raise awareness of our proud lineage, and also to remind all that before there was the plight of man made social controls - such as monotheistic religion – political correctness and cultural homogenisation, that people knew who they were and cared about their own history, rather than being landed in a era without a cultural identity.”

“Richard came along (before we had ever recorded anything) with a fresh wealth of talent that helped to craft a lot of the existing lyrics into vocal patterns. As a competent guitar player he also added guitar harmonies/lead parts to the existing tracks and, as you would expect, has contributed ideas to some other, newer, non album tracks we recorded for a forthcoming split. We then recorded as much as we could live in the studio and overdubbed what we couldn’t to create the fierce sounding EHBM barrage, evident of the Ghost of Heritage.”

“The album is out now on Profound Lore Records and will hopefully be followed up in early 2009 by a split with Richard’s other band - and fellow brothers in arms - Wodensthrone (who are also due to release their debut album ‘Loss’ on Bindrune Records in late 2008/early 2009). This release will also be on PFL and will feature unreleased tracks by both bands. We are also hoping to play a few shows throughout the year to support the record, and spread the message. In addition to that our other band, Atavist, has just released its 4th album (a second collaboration with Canada’s finest, Nadja) and we are also working on a fifth one and besides that… who knows… keep your ear to the floor.”

When asked for a last word on advice, Chris had this to say: “Always strive to be informed about issues affecting your country or your culture and make sure that if you don’t like something that is happening that you do something about it like lobby, campaign or write an album. Don’t fear the ignorance of the media if they call you a racist or try to sully your name, be true to what you believe and be intelligent with your truth. People will only “know” if they are informed and it is up to individuals like us to bypass the apathy of our “TV Generation” and get people back in touch with who and what they are. A country without a culture or an identity is like an accident waiting to happen. Bottom line, people need to feel needed and if their culture, or family – because of a cultural confusion – cannot provide them with a sense of ‘self’ or ‘community’ then this is where problems will, and do, start to arise. Don’t dwell in apathy… Hail Heritage!”

Friday, November 7, 2008

“Their Hooves Carve Craters in the Earth: THOU Preach the End Times”

“Their Hooves Carve Craters in the Earth: THOU Preach the End Times”
*to be published in Unrestrained! Magazine
Kim Kelly 2008

Walking into the hushed sanctuary of Philadelphia’s First Unitarian church, the first thing you notice are the rows of pews, filled with sleepy-eyed acolytes and soon-to-be-converts. Silence reigns and a dense aura of anticipation hangs over the congregation; expectations are high, and for many, the addition of an opening act serves only to prolong the inevitability of the main event. Framed by stained glass and wood panels, a motley band of youngsters slowly take the stage, coaxing their gear into cooperation and stealing glances heavenwards at the high, high ceiling. The crowd remains immobile – opening for drone gods Sunn 0))) is no simple task, and these concertgoers were not about to let these untested whippersnappers off that easily. The first chord is struck, the earth shakes, the wild-eyed singer clutches his microphone and…all hell breaks lose. A stream of Southern hellfire laced with enough fiery brimstone to satisfy any Baptist preacherman erupts from his pale white throat, and the murderous beast that is Thou awakens.

Formed from the ashes of members’ previous bands, Thou rose from the swamps of Baton Rouge, Lousiana several years ago. According to bassist Andy, “After about a year together, Bryan (who is from New Orleans) joined on vocals and we started picking up the pace. In the time he's been in the band we've gone on 4 US tours that have ranged from utterly amazing to utterly disheartening. I don't think we'd trade the experience for anything, though. We've done two full length LPs (also both on CD), one 12" EP, one ten-inch EP, 2 7"s, a split cassette, and a demo. And we've got a TON of splits on the way, two 12" EPs, and a few cassette releases, as well as another full-length sometime next year.” When questioned about the origin of the band’s name, Andy explained, “We wanted something simple and monolithic, and I think it accomplishes that goal. As it stands now with a lot of the lyrical themes we use, it's almost like an accusatory finger in the face of everything we despise. It embodies our despair at and contempt for society at large.”

That aching hopelessness and raging disdain manifest themselves quite noticeably in Thou’s latest aural assault. A rough-hewn collection of doomed riffs and bottomfeeding chord progressions, Peasant takes you on a painfully slow crawl through the deep, dirty sludge of a lonesome Dixie swamp and draws you down into the sort of black, primordial ooze that few men see and even fewer escape. Topped off by Bryan’s agonizing screams and a rumbling, unstoppable rhythm section, the album is an absolute behemoth. Peasant was released by Autopsy Kitchen Records, after the label contacted the band and rushed to get finished copies into their hands in time for their 2007 summer tour.

“We didn't plan this album out too much, so any cohesiveness is mostly a coincidence, with the exception of the lyrics, which Bryan strung together using some related themes that we were all into. Usually we're just in a certain mood when we're writing a batch of songs and they end up working well together. Matthew, Terry, and I usually just lock ourselves in the practice room all night until something comes out of it, then we bring it to Mitch and Bryan and work on refining the parts. Other times, like with "Burning Black Coals...," Matthew will have an entire song written and we'll just embellish certain parts.”

“Bryan and I are into the more political aspects of our lyrics which address everything from anarchist theory, feminism, and French criminalism to animal rights and the social politics of Baton Rouge. But on the whole, the lyrics tend to take on a dark, epic tone that I think complements the music well. We've addressed issues like police brutality, negative body-image issues, the dangers of organized religion, suicide, and the inevitable collapse of our industrialized society. We'll pretty much take on anything that someone in the band feels strongly about. At times, we can all have vastly different opinions on a subject, but the songs will generally revolve around one extremist position that we can all get behind or, at least, identify with on some level.”
“Peasant and (Thou’s first full-length) Tyrant were both recorded by our friends Brennan Moss and Michael Talley. Brennan used to be in bands with me and Matthew, and he's been my friend since 5th grade in addition to being one of the most talented and well-organized people I've ever known, so he was a natural choice. Talley is his partner in crime and did an incredible mixing job on both the albums. We recorded Tyrant in our old practice room in the dead of night and recorded Peasant above a bar in a one-bedroom apartment. Given our space limitations, I'd say it came out pretty well. Thrive and Decay, Malfeasance/Retribution, and We Pass Like Night were recorded by James Whitten, who is a long-time friend of Bryan's from New Orleans. He played in a lot of punk bands down here, used to put on shows, did a small recording studio out of his old apartment. He's a great sound engineer. He actually makes his living doing live sound with some bigger pop punk bands--A Wilhelm Scream and Zebrahead. We recorded with him in his apartment in Oakland last summer and on the west coast tour before that. (Come to think of it, all of our recording sessions involve us hauling our gear up flights of stairs.) James is super easy to work with though, a very laid back guy.”

A number of the aforementioned Thou releases are affixed to wax instead of cold, hard plastic, and for good reason, too; the warm, crackly imperfections of vinyl only enhance the experience of listening to music this draining, bottom-heavy, and so very steeped in Southern whiskey.

”Vinyl has always been a viable format in the punk scene, and I don't see it letting up anytime soon. It might seem like more people are buying it these days because less people are buying CDs. With mp3s becoming the most popular format, I think more people are downloading music. And the ones that do buy CDs just rip them to their computer and never look at them again. So for people who are still collecting records, vinyl seems like the logical way to go. Vinyl is the best because it opens up a lot of options for the packaging of the music which really makes the overall record come together much better than with a CD. You get a tangible product that requires a lot of care, whereas CDs get scratched easily, discarded, and lost. And personally, I like the warmer sound of vinyl. I hope the fact that we put out so much vinyl helps to get more people into record collecting, design, actually reading the lyrics, etc.--as opposed to just having some background music playing on their computer or iPod”

Thou’s throwback sensibilities fit them well, as a young band who’ve allayed themselves with the very core of what makes metal metal – the doomy, heavy, world-ending riff, first forged by Tony Iommi’s crippled fingers and now, dragged through the muck of a Louisiana upbringing. For a batch of bearded Southern boys, though, Thou aren’t simply content to draw from the expected sources and bow down before the almighty Eyehategod.

“Well, Eyehategod is definitely an influence, but for the most part I wasn't all that into doom when we started this band. It's actually kinda cool because as we were writing songs and figuring out our sound, we were just beginning to get into all these bands and were eager to see what excited us about this music. That, I would say, is the main reason Tyrant wears a lot of different influences on its sleeve. When you're jamming Isis and Electric Wizard all day, some kind of mutant creature is bound to surface. Living in the South hasn't really affected our sound too much, honestly, besides the anger we feel living in a sweltering, humid climate and being surrounded by apathetic, fucked up people. But like I said, Eyehategod, Crowbar--those bands have definitely left their mark on us, and I always check them out when they play around here.”

Speaking of live actions, earlier this year Thou earned the distinction of being invited to play on Sunn 0)))’s historic GrimmRobe Demos tour, and won over hundreds of newly-deafened fans as a result. Says Andy, “We were definitely WAY into Sunn before the tour, so the whole thing was a bit surreal. The way it happened was this: Greg from Sunn/Southern Lord had offered to repress Tyrant and we took him up on it. Then, he offered us a small tour with Weedeater in October and we took him up on that too. Things fell through with the Weedeater tour, but he still wanted to help us out with some shows. It just so happened that he and Steve were planning the Sunn tour, and so he offered us a couple dates with them. We were beyond stoked, and the shows were incredible. We were pretty well-received from what I could tell, and we got to bring some friends with us for the trip. The whole thing would've been even more surreal if Greg and Stephen weren't such nice, down-to-earth guys. They, along with their whole crew, were just incredibly easy to get along with. The Philly show at the First Unitarian Church was phenomenal. Being raised Catholic, it was pretty strange playing scathing doom to people sitting in pews in a church. And we got to play with Tony Conrad in NYC, who is pretty much a living legend. Those two shows, coupled with a handful of amazing DIY punk shows, made this the ideal tour for us.”

Utterly discontent to rest on their laurels and take a damn breather, Thou have already planned out a full release schedule for the rest of the year that includes a series of splits and a brand-new LP that they promise will be out by fall 2009. They very recently released a 12" EP entitled "The Retaliation of the Immutable Force of Nature,” which, true to form, came out on bloody clear vinyl, and will hopefully do its part to keep hungry sludgefreaks desperate for new Thou material at bay until 2009 rolls around!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Thunderous Roar from Down Under: PSYCROPTIC

Interview for Hails & Horns Magazine
Kim Kelly

A Thunderous Roar from Down Under: Psycroptic

Psycroptic’s Jason Peppiatt on heavy metal: “I started out with bands like Motley Crue and Iron Maiden, and as I got older I kept finding newer and heavier music to listen to. I love the fact that it is such an aggressive and brutal form of music but most of the guys that are into it are really chilled out; that makes me think that it must be a good way for people to stay calm! I love the way that you are so free to express yourself because with metal, anything goes. I mean, if you’re pissed off and you write a song about hacking people up and fucking their corpses, well, you can and no one will give a shit. Whatever you’re into you can sing about!(not that I’m into that shit, haha!) There isn't really a great deal that I don't like about the metal music genre.”
Amen, brother, amen! As lead throat-shredder for Tasmanian tech-death horde Psycroptic, it’s pretty safe to assume roar that Jason knows what he’s talking about. I managed to track down the man himself and find out a few juicy details about their brand-new record, (Ob)Servant, what it’s like to play death metal in Australia, and what really makes Psycroptic tick.

So, can you give me some background on the band? I know you guys hail from Tasmania, which I’m sure has led to waaaay too many “Tasmanian devil” references from hokey writers by now!

A.... Well, Psycroptic has been around for almost 10 years. We have 4 albums out, and there has only been one line up change. Haha, we've been getting a lot of the Tassie devil stuff on this album, but it’s the first album that we've got it about!

What first drew you guys together? Is the current lineup one that you’d consider to be permanent?

A... The band started with the two brothers, Dave and Joe, jamming together. Joe and Cameron went to school together and were friends, and I’m not sure where they found Matthew. After they parted ways with him, they asked me to join due to the fact that I had been very close friends with all the members for a long time. I think the lineup we have now is very solid and hopefully will last the test of time, due to the fact that we are all very driven people and all want the same thing from the band and are willing to work our asses off to get it!

Several of you play in other bands (including Ruins and the insanely-brutal The Amenta). How do you balance all your bands while still managing to devote time to Psycroptic?

A... Me and Cam are both only in Psycroptic so its easy for us to manage, but as for Dave and Joe, Psycroptic is the main band for those guys. Their other bands work tours and schedules around us a lot, so it doesn't interfere a great deal. Those guys are always on the road and that’s what they love doing

You guys are known for being one of the most blazingly-technical young bands out there. Why did you decide to play this style of music – why technical death metal?

A.. I think technical death metal has always held a lot of appeal for all the members of the band, but I think that a bit of it was just the way it progressed between the first and second albums; the guys got better at their instruments they began to try to challenge themselves more and more.

How long have you guys been playing your instruments? Are any of you professionally-trained?

A.. Everyone of us has been playing their instruments for about 15 years or so now, and I’ve been singing on and off for about 10 years now. Joe did some training at the conservatorium of music hear in TAS for a while and Dave and Cam both had private tutoring for a lot of years. Now, Dave and Joe are both private music teachers themselves.

What can you tell me about your brand-new record, (Ob)servant? What can we expect to hear?

A... (Ob)servant is, in my opinion, a lot different from any of the older albums in that we have toned it down a lot. Each riff gets held onto for longer periods of time, there is more groove than ever before and the vocals have been shaved back a lot to let the music speak for itself more. After saying all of that though, it is still technical as fuck, it is still full of flat out blast beats and has lots of crazy vocal patterns.

What was the writing/recording process like? How does Psycroptic go about writing a new song?

A... Joe does most of the writing in Psycroptic. He basically puts the song together, then him and Dave will sit down and work through it until they have something they are happy with, then they give it to me and Cam to have our say and put our parts to it. So, it is a long processs, but it works.

What are some underlying themes or concepts that we’ll find on the album? What sort of lyrical topics do you discuss?

A... We have are real futuristic Sci-fi thing happening on this album with a bit of a dark twist on it. The lyrics just explore different and strange concepts, and it is kind of up to the listener to work out what it all means.

What do you feel sets you apart from other death metal bands?

A... I think the fact that people don’t really know where we fit in amongst the metal genres. I feel our style is very unique and there isn't really any other bands out there that you could say "hey, Psycroptic ripped these guys off" because we really try to keep everything in our own standalone style.

What do you think of the current state of death metal, and where does Psycroptic fit in?

A.... At the moment the scene out here in Australia is really thriving, which is really great to see. It looks like the rest of the world is also loving the metal these days, which is a great thing because now more bands are touring regularly so you always get a chance to see your favorite bands. The quality of the bands coming out these days is amazing - the bands are getting faster, heavier and tighter and younger! Psycroptic I think sits in between so many genres in the metal world, which for us is a really great thing because it means we get to tour with such a broad variety of bands and get exposed to a lot of different people from a lot of different scenes.

Now that you’ve had some time to off to recover, would you care to reflect upon your experiences as part of the Summer Slaughter tour this past summer??

A... SUMMER SLAUGHTER!!!!!! fuck where do you start? It was the best tour we've done for sure. Great bands, great times and KILLER SHOWS!!!!

What’s next for you guys after (Ob)servant drops? Tours, festivals, plans for world domination?
A... We start touring at the end of October and at this stage its pretty flat out until March, so its really great for us as a band. As for the world domination, it’s in the cards! See you all on the road somewhere in the next 12 months!

Blood, Sex, and Majick: BELPHEGOR

Interview w/ HELMUTH for Hails & Horns Magazine
Kim Kelly

“We Preach the Blastbeast ”: Belphegor

To anyone who’s ever been exposed to the murderous aural onslaught of modern-day Austria’s deadliest export, the idea of delving a little deeper into Belphegor’s twisted world is frightening at best. Their latest record, Bondage Goat Zombie, makes no allowances for the weak of will (or stomach) – an odious love letter to all that is unholy, perverted, and taboo, the album hurtles past like a runaway train bound for Hell and, in a word, decimates. Who knows what lurks behind those menacing visages, razor-sharp riffs, and ever-present blastbeats?

After having a nice long chat with their surprisingly congenial mainman Helmuth, I managed to piece together a few parts of the puzzle, and now, you, dear readers, are about to discover what Belphegor is all about. Tread carefully – there’s a LOT of blood involved…

I’ve been into you guys since I first heard Lucifer Incestus, and have been playing Bondage Goat Zombie nonstop since I got it. How do you feel about BGZ, now that the new record’s been out for awhile and you’ve had a chance to sit back and look at it a bit more objectively? How do you think it stacks up against and fits into your overall catalog?

Helmuth: Thanks for liking the album. Well, I bunkered myself with Serpenth and session drummer Torturer into our rehearsal room, and we continued to develop and refine the songs over and over again. Never before have we spent so much time in the rehearsal room, and never before have we put so much energy in our new material. We worked for months day and night on the album, on every detail. The variation in the music is one of its strong points. BONDAGE GOAT ZOMBIE is such a huge evolutionary step for this band in terms of sound, songwriting and the musicianship. I´m really proud of it.

I’d like to talk about the lyrics for a moment. You’ve stated before that Bondage Goat Zombie is all about, well, bondage, goats, and zombies (more or less), drawing inspiration from the writings and persona of the famed Marquis du Sade. What draws you to these lyrical topics, and how do you feel they fit into your music?

Yeah, the lyrical content just has to always fit the cover, photo, booklet art and meld the whole into a cold unit and give the brutal music some extra Kraft.

Basically the lyrical concept of this album deals with the fascinating life of the Marquis De Sade. The word "sadism" comes from Marquis de Sade's name.

I´m more than impressed by De Sade since 1997 when I first got my hands on 120 Days Of Sodom, Justine and Julliette etc (I really recommend these scripts).

Also his live was very impressive, I used many of his original verses for the album. He was a rebel and was in jail for about 25 years for his art, ideals and even after being imprisoned for that long, he always refused to kneel down. The message is clear: It’s about rebellion in man, free will and taking the decision to walk your own path,....in my opinion, freedom is the most important thing in life.

By the way, the flagellation at the end of the track THE RUTENMARSCH is not fake and we used original verses from Donatien Marquis De Sade ( 1740-1814 ) and as always, one very important sentence from F.W. Nietzsche ( 1844-1900 ). The last spoken words "...drown me in your fukk, drown me", are perfect and blackest poetry to me.

Who is “Justine”?

A collection of scripts from Marquis De Sade that broke a lot of taboos back then - a battlefield full of perverted rough sex, humiliation,...but on the other hand, his writing is pure poetry, really, its beyond amazing.

What is the English translation of the chorus for “The Sukkubus Lustrate”?

No man ,sorry! Let me tell you, it fits BELPHEGORperfectly to use German, English and Latin in the lyrics. We've been doing it since 1994 and it is to the utmost

original and gives a certain fire, intensity, and distinctness. It is much more extreme this way than to choose just one language - it is another BELPHEGOR trademark. Besides, you can’t translate some of the old verses, magic, and incantations we use,

‘cause the sense would be defaced, or the words don't exist anymore.

As for the music itself, how would you say that BGZ differs from Pestokalypse? How about from Bloodbath in Paradise, your first demo?

I don’t compare album. We talk about music, each time and album we give our best,..I associate every album with a certain period of life, if you know what I mean. BELPHEGOR formed at the end of 1992 with the intention to create some of the most brutal and extreme music possible. On BONDAGE GOAT ZOMBIE we tried a few new things, added some new elements, epic melodies here and there as we always do, trying to take our sound a bit further each time, and worked extremely hard to try to increase that intensity and dynamics...have a listen and destroy yourselves.

How does Belphegor go about creating a new song and writing a new record?

To becoming mightier, more intense with every opus has always been our aim since 1993, we all have practiced a lot on our instruments the last years, to improve our playing and compositional abilities, to increase the intensity and dynamics, to just get better in all musical aspects…stagnation = death. There is no master plan man; sometimes I wish we had one, but it is, like always, goddamn chaos and a challenge when we start to work on a new opus/ track and be creative again. Our philosophy is to develop the evil spirit, the morbidity, the Schmerz you know; we always want to offer ourselves the best, and also the maniakks who buy our albums and who support us with that, they deserve the best, only the fukking best.

Have you begun writing material for the next album? Can you share any details about or plans for the next record? What can we expect to see?

Yeah, we already started in June this year with the songwriting for the next Werk. Believe me, we are high on fire and so motivated! We´ll give everything of our energy and our blood again to explore our sound and take it to the next level. But, it’s too early to talk about it, I expect, and you should expect more machine gun blasting hellfire in the musical form in the future. Be prepared! The release date will be 14th of August 2009 via Nuclear Blast Records, worldwide.

You’ve been playing your own signature style of blasphemous black/death metal since 1993; can you give a little background on the band, and how you’ve ended up where you are now?

MUSICK - SATHAN - ART since 1992!

Our master plan has been since 1992 to do what we like, break some taboos etc. It is Belphegor to the bone - anti human - antilife. We always blasted the brutal Metal of Death, with aggressive Black Metal influences. You know, when listening to BELPHEGOR it should be about having a good time, summoning your demons and being prepared for a true musical attack.

Who’s drumming for you nowadays?

Yeah, it's not easy to find hundred percent dedicated musicians, who like to be on the road and spend a lot of time in the rehearsal room/studio and for who the band is on the first place, especially drummers, you know...we demand a lot.
For years we’ve worked with 2-3 rotating drummers, we always recruit experienced musicians to guarantee the brothers and sisters an intense
BELPHEGOR live inferno. As I already mentioned, it's not a big deal, we are on the road the whole year, the core is goddamn solid and ready to kick some serious ass, and that’s all you need to know.

Are you looking forward to playing in the US again? I remember the last time I saw you guys, you absolutely slayed – one of the more brutal live performances I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.

Thank you very much for ya appreciation bro. Yeah, BELPHEGOR in a live situation is kinda like TNT, i think we are really intense and always concentrate on the blastbeat tracks. People should come to our live shows to experience the real shit firsthand.

Do US crowds react differently to Belphegor than their European counterparts?

There are more moshpits than in Europe, but, it principally doesn't matter where we play, Metal demons, are cool people worldwide – everywhere, they are in a good mood, celebrate and go crazy, scream, begin to bang. Having a good time is always great for the band and makes you invest more and more onstage, to unchain more energy. For me, its the best to play live. You know, we are always exited, each show is beyond amazing for us and also a huge challenge. We did so many shows in the last decade, had unforgettable good times, and met so many wonderful dedicated people worldwide.

How did you end up on the Amon Amarth tour, and just how much beer do you think will be consumed on the road every night? Swedes, Finns, and Austrians all traveling together are bound to get into some sort of alcoholic mischief! What’s the most insane thing that’s happened to you on the road or at a festival before?

Helmuth: Yeah, the whole run was great!It was a real blast, and a real pleasure for us to meet so many dedicated die - hard demons on that tour again and it was awesome to tour with the vikings of AMON AMARTH. Hell yeah, lots of good memories, lots of alcohol! BELPHEGOR return in April/ May with fukking KREATOR and fukking EXODUS, (what a killer headbanger package) so see ya all, hell awaits.....can´t wait.

What songs do you always make sure to include in your setlist? I know I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get to see “Lucifer Incestus” or something off Goatreich Fleshcult on the next tour!

JUSTINE: SOAKED IN BLOOD, LUCIFER INCESTUS, STIGMA DIABOLICUM, BONDAGE GOAT ZOMBIE, BELPHEGOR - HELL´S AMBASSADOR, SWARM OF RATS and of course SEYN TODT IN SCHWARTZ. In a live situation we always concentrate on the fast stuff. We preach the blastbeat - that’s our mission!

What do you guys do when you’re not recording, writing, or on the road – who are the “regular guys” behind the Satanic madness of the band?

BELPHEGOR never was a satanic band, its more about antilife with tendencies to nihilism, I mean, we are simple metalheads, who glorify METAL. Privately, I do some weight training here and there, possessed by playing guitar, and also handle the band management and all the band related stuff you have to do and deal with.I'm also into drugs and alcohol and dig it to get fukked up, same goes for when I’m on the road but never before the show! And I can´t deal with restrictions.

What is it about this type of music that makes you love it so much?

Metal musick will always be here and live forever, fukk the trends. Nowadays Death/ Black Metal rules the world and is the strongest, the most archaic of all kinds. We always have to search for evolution and explore the music, and bring it a bit further each time.

Musick = Blood = Sex = Passion = Live.

Why does Belphegor exist – what is your purpose for this band?

Actually, the music comes first and dominates everything, the rest is death, devil and sex, this was the case in the early days of the band, and so it remains today. We always try to bring something interesting to an already oversaturated, commercial Metal market. The most important thing is tha,t when you play a BELPHEGOR song, you immediately recognize that it is BELPHEGOR. So what can I say except that we´ll do what we always do - to keep the fire burning, to try to unleash more energy and release intense albums.

Thanks for the space, see ya on the road, hails to your readership and all Metal brothers and sisters worldwide. Hail Metal! Hail Death ! www.belphegor.at

"Life is short - be stoked on yours": NORTH

Interview for Hails & Horns Magazine
Kim Kelly

"Life is short - be stoked on yours": NORTH

In a time when the word “NeurIsis” can be tossed off to describe nearly every band that’s coming out right now (that, or “deathcore”), it’s refreshing to see a bunch of dudes who, instead of writing music that aims to emulate a certain sound, came together with the honest intention to play some rock songs. It’s not their fault that somewhere along the way they stumbled across something that many will find familiar, but will also realize is quite a bit more interesting. The soft-loud-soft dynamic - pioneered, revered, then watered down in the space of a few decades - rears its coy head once again here, but yet – something’s not quite right. Something’s different. At first glance, you hear a band steeped in distortion and gently haunting melody, gliding along at an oceanic pace, until the vocals come crashing in – desperate bellows that drag you down to the center of the earth through a tunnel lined with glass. Looking past the distortion, the shimmering peaks and the crushing valleys, and the almighty riffs, you realize - North’s music isn’t boring. Its sludgy, breathy, post-rocking tendencies don’t feel derivative, and it keeps pulling you back, with soft little paws and sly little claws that keep you just spooked enough to come creeping back for more. “North” is a fitting moniker indeed for a band who that keeps looking forward with every chord and every release.

Can you give me some background info on the band, for those who haven't yet heard about you guys? When/where did you form, current lineup, how you all came together, trials & tribulations, past releases etc?

North was originally formed as a 3 piece instrumental band (Ty Engle, Evan Leek, and Zack Hansen). As time went on, and things got a little more serious, we decided to find a 2nd guitarist, and that’s when Matthew Mutterperl joined the team. The 4 of us put out 2 records, Siberia and Ruins. During the writing and demoing of our 3rd release, What You Were, we felt that we needed more tools and people to properly create what we had in mind. Our good friends Kyle Hardy and Pete Ridgeway were more than happy to give North a shot, and things have been working great since.

How have you seen the band develop over the years? What was your goal when you started the band, and how has it changed now, if at all?

Other than the obvious developments that come with playing in a band for as long as we have - I definitely feel that we have a much clearer understanding of what exactly it is we’re trying to do. It’s an unspoken understanding that we’re not necessarily trying to fall into and succeed in a specific genre. Our only real goal is to possibly bring fans from different varieties of musical taste and show them that music doesn’t have to be something specific to be enjoyable.

Is there any special meaning behind the name "North"?

There’s a really uninspiring story as to how the name came about, but like most things we do, we like to leave it up for interpretation.

Tell me about What You Were, your new album on Cavity Records. How did you come up with the concepts behind the songs, and how do you go about writing the songs themselves?

We usually like to write towards a common theme. In the case of What You Were, I suppose we all had some sort of fixation with life and death, and all the ideas surrounding those topics. WYW is more or less the collection of our feelings and interpretations of living and dying.

How did you end up working with Cavity? Do you feel that they're a good fit for you?

Jason White and Dan Phillips contacted us through email one day. They just happened to be fans of what we were doing, and wanted to work with us. They’re really some the coolest guys on the planet. It was a little odd at first – being on a label ran by two guys whom we’ve never met – but that quickly changed. We’re really lucky to be working with people who are true fans of music and everything it encompasses.


What sort of topics do you address in your lyrics? I assume the subject matter is about as dark and emotional as the music it accompanies.

The lyrics on WYW, like I said earlier, deal with our feelings and ideas of living and dying. It would be safe to say everything we do is very intentional.

Who did the recording where, and why did you choose to work with that particular engineer?

WYW was recorded at The Panda Studios in Oakland, CA and Sam Pura was the man behind the magic. Sam had done our previous release, Ruins, in one very rushed day. Even though the schedule wasn’t what we were expecting, he helped us create a record we’re still really proud of. So when it came time to choose someone to work with on an extended basis, Sam was an easy choice. He’s the kind of guy that becomes your best friend in a matter of minutes. We are so stoked to have worked with someone with as much knowledge and natural talent as him.

The “NeurIsis” sound is everywhere, but I feel that North transcends that neat little pigeonhole and has something a lot more interesting going on than your typical “soft-loud-soft” dymanic. It’s undeniable though that bands combining doom/super-heavy music with introspective, complex melodies are really catching peoples’ interest right now, What is it about this music that appeals to you so much, and why do you think more people are finally beginning to realize its merits?

It was never really our intention become a heavy band. Things like our gear-geekiness probably play a bigger role in our overall sound more than being fans of bands we could share a bill with. I think music fans are slowly realizing that there is A LOT of music out there. The radio and TV are only a chunk of what artists have to offer, and since the internet is basically a tool that can get you any music you could ever want to hear, attitudes and tastes are changing. It’s very cool if you ask me.

What is it about heavy music in general that draws you to it? How did you first get into this stuff?

This is always hard for me to answer. Nothing else in my life is loud, intense, interesting, emotionally driving, sonically pleasing, etc. all at the same time. I especially love the physical feeling it can create in a live setting. Music in general is great.

What's next for North after this record is released? Can we expect to see you guys out on the road anytime soon?

We will definitely be all around the country this next year. The most immediate tour coming up is this January with our friends Long Live The Smoking Gun. We’ll be visiting most of the west coast.

The name of the album seems a tad self-explanatory, but is there anything you'd like to say about the songs and the ideas behind them?

Life is short, be stoked on yours.

Any parting words or last thoughts?

Thanks for setting this up! We really appreciate it. Please pick up What You Were and Ruins LP/CD it helps us see more of the road. Thanks, and GO VOTE!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Defenders Ov The Faith: Celestial Bloodshed

*to be published in Hails & Horns Magazine
Kim Kelly 2008

“They will drown in the blood from their own....” – W.

Black metal is in a state of constant flux nowadays. You can scarcely turn around without tripping over yet another bunch of longhaired upstarts that Pitchfork is touting as the “next big thing” in BM. The evolutions and trends have come, gone, and mutated into even newer sounds; psychedelia, punk rock, folk, rock’n’roll, ambient, classical, noise and hardcore have all crept into the once-hallowed halls of grimness and left their indelible marks on the genre. What would Euronymous think of “black metalcore”? Would Quorthon be down with Nachtmystium’s acid-trip aesthetics? What (if anything coherent) could Varg possibly think of all this?
For those of us still stubbornly clinging to the traditions laid down by those immortal names above, there is some hope. There are a number of black metal bands out there who have managed to more or less ignore the past decade (and the musical/technical progressions that have come with it) and continue to create pure, raw, unadulterated BM with no frills, no experimentation, and for the love of Lucifer, no ProTools!
So what can you expect to find on such an album? Chainsaw guitars, sepulchral rasps, grating shrieks, pummeling blastbeats, and more visceral hatred than you can shake a stick at. Keyboards? None. Emperor got away with it, but half the band was wanted for murder and arson at one point – I think we can let them slide. Orchestral arrangements? No fucking way. Dimmu Borgir uses them, but drop that name in front of any true black metal warrior and see how fast it takes ‘em to split your poser skull. Breakdowns? Get the fuck outta here.
As might be expected, those bands take themselves and their mission very, very seriously. Just how seriously, you might ask? Read the following conversation I had with elite black metal horde Celestian Bloodshed’s W. and see for yourself.

-Can you give some band history for those who haven't yet heard of Celestial
Bloodshsed - when and where was the band formed, who are the members, and why
was this band brought into being?

W:The shadows called out and Celestial Bloodshed was spawned at the dawn of
the new millennium with the aim to perform the dark arts of Black Metal. After
the recording of the demo in 01' we went through different problems such as
dealing with undedicated people, imprisonment, finding a steady vocalist/
rehearsal place, etc. The usual shit.
In year four, we found a worthy throat to handle the vocals and around the
same time a founding member decided to escape into the world of humanity as we
continued to go deeper into darkness. That darkness that manifested itself in the
form of a 7" EP in year six, and now in the form of a full-length album on
Debemur-Morti Productions.
The cursed are: S.v.F: Serpent's tongue, W: Strings, T: Hellhammers and K:

-You hail from Norway, black metal's storied homeland. What is it about the
place that conjures up so many black metal, and extreme metal in general,
bands? Is it the society, the natural world, or some unknown factor?

W: I have no idea. Bad taste maybe, because 98% of the bands from Norway are
shit nowadays.

-How did you first come upon the perfect musical formula for this band - the
one that made you say, "Yes, THIS is Celestial Bloodshed"?

W: It was a feeling, the surroundings got darker and we just knew...

-How did your recent partnership with Moribund come about?

W: Debemur Morti Productions who released our album here in Europe set it up.

-Tell me about Cursed, Scarred, and Forever Possessed, your new album.

W: Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed contains 7 hymns that deals with
Darkness, Death, Hate, Blasphemy, depression, madness, pain and worship. This
is presented in the form of mostly cold and aggressive songs, but with some
slower parts to bring forth the madness and frustration that surrounds us at

-What is your writing/recording process like? Who handled production duties
on the record?

W: Ideas are born through experiences and thoughts and brought forth before
the band and then we work from that in different ways, not very interesting to
read about anyway. Same goes for the recording process. H.Dalen from Brygga
studios helped us with the recording and Tore Stjerna mastered it.

-Production on Cursed... is definitely very raw and "orthodox"-sounding, by
black metal standards at least. Why do you choose to record your music in such
a manner when there are a variety of modern techniques available that some say
render low-fi recording more or less obsolete? I personally prefer the more DIY
approach, as do many fans of this style, but I'm curious as to your reasoning
behind using it.

W: We wanted a sound that suited the songs and feelings behind them, to
create a atmosphere of....darkness.

-What sort of topics do you discuss in your lyrics? What is the underlying
shared philosophy of the band, be it Satanic, pagan, atheistic, or something

W: The lyrics deals with subjects as: Death, Hate, Blasphemy, depression,
madness, pain and worship. We have chosen the left hand path and struggle
Vi är en manifestasjon mot det kristna samhället och männskligheten i sin

-With a name like 'Celestial Bloodshed,' one would not be hesitant to assume
that the band is anti-Christian. What turned you against Christianity and
organized religion? If you could send one message to the "believers" of the
world, what would it be?

W: Where to start…their lies and false morals? They make weak sheep out of
proud lions? Slaves out of kings? They are blind people who refuse to seek
further than to their "god", refuse to look into the abyss. They hide behind
their "god", book and holiness! And I can see traces of them everywhere and it
disgusts me!
The message? "No matter how your paradise is shaped, there will always be a
certain snake" (not my words but the best I could think of right now that
didn't involve Fuck, Kill, Die, Perish, Flames, Hate or off.)

-Without whom would Celestial Bloodshed not exist i.e. which bands,
artists, and elements have influenced you in terms of this project

W: Us and the call to do this.

-Who would you consider to be your musical peers? Do you follow the modern
black metal scene at all? If so, what are your thoughts on its progression and
adaptation of other musical styles over the past few years?

W: I don't spend my time thinking about such things. The only scene I
follow closely is within our own Nidrosian circle, as there are too many bands
and releases nowadays and very few good ones.

-What's next for the band after the release of Cursed...?

W: We will release a 7"ep called The Serpent's Kiss through Apocalyptic
Empire Records and Terratur Possessions in near future and we are now working
on a mini lp that will be out when the time is right. Also we hope to do more
live rituals in the future.

Malum Ex Archicathedra Nigra Nidrosiensis

"Dude, They Sharpied My Dick Black" : Keepin’ It Real With THE FACELESS

*to be published in Hails & Horns Magazine
Kim Kelly 2008

Doing interviews with great bands is awesome. Preparing for interviews, however, sucks. Unless you’re an insane superfan who knows everything possible about your favorite band – including sisters’ names and shoe sizes – there’s bound to be a fair amount of research put into preparing your questions. Interviewing your heroes is hard; not only do you usually have an immense back catalog and tour history to wade through, it’s really fucking scary to talk to people who have changed your life – for example, I was literally shaking when I first spoke to Jimmy Bower and Brian Patton from Eyehategod, only to discover that they’re two of the nicest Southern gentleman you could ever hope to meet.
It’s even harder when you’re due to chat up that hot new band that everybody and their mother is covering and you can’t for the life of you think of anything remotely interesting to ask that they haven’t already rattled off an answer to earlier that week. On top of that, think of the poor band themselves! They don’t want to talk about their writing process, they don’t want to fend off questions about why their last drummer left, and they really don’t want to talk about genre tags. Really, all band dudes want to do is to go play the rad new songs they just recorded and hang out with their fans.
Keeping that in mind, I decided to take it easy on The Faceless, and show some mercy to one of the most uncompromising and bright new stars in the death metal galaxy. Instead of asking them the same boring questions that they get in every interview about their influences and gear and whatnot, I figured I’d branch out a bit and try to have some fun...then, you know, ask about their influences…

So, you guys are from LA. And DON’T play thrash metal? How does that work? Nowadays it seems like every kid in the state is issued a Flying V, a denim vest, and Bonded by Blood upon his graduation from sixth grade, then promptly offered a record deal. How does a band like The Faceless fit into the L.A. scene?

A: Well quite frankly we don't fit into the L.A scene, I suppose. Although there is a big fan base for death metal here, there's not really any successful death metal bands that I can think of from LA. In regards to the whole sudden uprising of bands composed of 18 year old kids pretending to be 80's thrashers, I find it rather strange. Maybe the next thing will be dressing up in bell bottoms and playing disco. We'll see.

What are your thoughts on NorCal? From what I observed during my time out in Cali, it seems like two different worlds – the south digs thrash and death, the north is all about black metal and depressive shit, and the middle – is there one, even? I’m an East Coast gal, so your great state is a damn near mystery to me.

A: I love NorCal. There's an amazing tech-death scene developing there with bands like Anamolous, Vile, Decrepit Birth, Odious Mortem, Severed Savior, etc. You're certainly right about the popularity of black metal and darker shit as well though. As for Central California, our singer Derek actually reps that region. He's from Santa Cruz.

How’s life under the Governator? On a more serious note, are you guys politically active at all, or has the American legal system beat you into apathy yet? And the ever-present question: who’s getting your vote for President?

A: You know, I think Arnie has done a lot of good for our state, even though Californians aren't too happy with him these days. We're a very politically opinionated group of people. We are all scared as hell of the insane people running our country and world for insane reasons. I voted for Ron Paul in the primaries, but I plan to vote for Obama.

You’ve toured extensively over the past few years, and I’m sure you’ve collected plenty of battle scars and epic tales by now. What’s the hands-down creepiest (or coolest) thing you’ve ever encountered on the road? Did you ever get a trucker to honk his horn for you or pick up any hitchhikers? I’ve never been on tour, myself, so I like to imagine that it’s just like all the road trip/horror flicks I’ve ever seen (except with blastbeats).

A: Okay, I've got a great one. Last tour our merch guy got wasted on Black Dahlia Murder's bus and ended up blacking out in their lounge. They drew all over his entire body and filmed the whole thing. He calls me in the morning to tell me this and we all had a laugh about it, but then the best part hits. 2 hours later I get a text message from him while we're all eating at a pizza hut buffet somewhere in South Carolina. "Dude. They sharpied my dick black" Apparently he didn't realize that part until he went to take a piss. When he finally met back up with us a few hours later we had to take pictures of the ridiculous spectacle.

Best story ever. I wonder how long it took him to get the Sharpie off? That's a brutal mental picture right there. Oh, and speaking of horror flicks… a few moments spent reading your lyrics conjure up some pretty frightening fare. They’re less of the zombie-gore-naked chicks variety than of the psychologically brutal, with hints of an almost classical (mythologically-speaking) epicness. Who writes the lyrics? From whence does he draw his inspiration? They’re very poetic, in a dark sort of way. “Its white skin is illuminated under pale moonlight Reminiscent of fresh snowfall The patterns formed by shadows and its hair make each square inch unique My lips still burn from the last time that I uttered its proper name Those thin wrists seem to melt in my hands My flesh on its flesh with gravity on my side I should, but won't, tread lightly on it…” (Chris Barnes, eat your heart out.)

A: There were 3 lyrical contributors to our album. Myself, Derek and our former drummer Nick Pierce. I think sometimes it's good to get your sick side out in something relatively healthy like song lyrics, so that you can function as a normal human being. The lyrics on Akeldama cover everything from the sick psychotic things you keep hidden in your head, to religion and it's horrible affects on society.

Right on. So, according to the all-knowing internet overlord that is Wikipedia, you guys are associated with Animosity, As Blood Runs Black, Brain Drill, Job for a Cowboy, Vile, and Vital Remains. Assuming that Wiki’s correct (which is a fifty-fifty chance), how does it happen that The Faceless has enlisted such a veritable who’s who of modern technical death metal/deathcore drummers over the past three years? Would you say that the current lineup is stable/permanent?

A: Well, I don't think we had any connection to As Blood Runs Black, but all the others are correct. Since the recording of our album, we've been searching for a permanent drummer. Which turned out to be quite the undertaking. We had fill ins on several tours, but I think we've finally found the drummer that we're happy with and want to keep around. Our new drummer Lyle Cooper is working out very well for us. I think at last, The Faceless can finally say that we have a stable line up.

If you had to pick a genre tag (and I know bands HATE doing this) what would you label yourselves? Now, how do you feel you transcend that label? A: Progressive death metal. Progressive can leave a lot of room for experimentation and diversity, which is something that I feel we explore. Even more so on our new material. Part of the objective of our band is to be a band that is remembered for having a unique sound that didn't fit in to this or that. Maybe they'll create some micro-sub-genre of metal for what we do some day. Haha! So, uh…what are your influences? (Told ya it was comin’!)

A: We listen to a wide variety of music. Our biggest influences would be Cynic, Spawn of Possession, Allan Holdsworth, Extol and Nile. Anything with a lot of thought put into it. However, on any given day you might find me listening to anything from Akercocke or Emperor to Steely Dan or Billy Joel.

How did you first get into heavy music? What is it that you love about it?

A: When I was a kid my older brothers and cousin listened to stuff like Sepultura, Slayer, and Deicide. I remember getting into Cannibal Corpse at a really young age and just thinking it was the most bad ass thing I'd ever heard. Now-a-days, the thing I love about metal is the freedom. You can explore any musical concept or lyrical topic for that matter.

How has your music progressed since the band’s inception? How has your sound grown, changed, and evolved since then?

A: When we formed the band, we were all in high school. I think back then we just wanted to play metal that seemed impressive and memorable to people. I think we focus a lot more on making thought provoking music now. We have much more of a focused goal for our music these days and we drop every ounce of effort and musical integrity into it we can.

What was the writing process like for your next upcoming LP, Planetary Duality? How does it differ from your last release, Akeldama?

A: Akeldama was written over the course of 3 years. Some songs being from when we were in high school and others being written right before the cd was recorded. So the new material is much more focused and matured. It involved a lot of nights in my studio just experimenting with riffs and licks. I wanted to make a record that I've always wanted to hear, but never have. I think we did a pretty good job of that. I'm really happy with it.

What’s next for you dudes? You just got back from Summer Slaughter, right?

A: We'll be doing a headline tour this October and November in which we'll be taking out Neuraxis, Veil of Maya, Decrepit Birth and Abigail Williams. From there, we're hitting the rest of the world and supporting our new record across the globe for a bit.

Any parting shots, messages, advice or threats?

A: Everything is only what your evolving consciousness allows to create as your reality. Therefore, my only advice is to not listen to anything anyone ever tells you....ever...including me. Oh, and buy our new CD. Thanks for a cool interview!