Friday, December 28, 2012

BEST OF 2012

I made about a zillion "best of" lists this year. Here they all are in one place.

Metalsuck - top fifteen:

Pitchfork - best albums/songs:

American Aftermath - best demos:

Unhallowed Nation - best ugly death metal records:

More are still waiting to be published, notably Brooklyn Vegan and Burning Ambulance, (or in Cvlt Nation's case, written - whoops) and a few are floating around in print form - Terrorizer, Absolute Underground.

I also lauded Pallbearer's stunning 'Sorrow and Extinction' on Invisible Oranges ( and Pitchfork (

I really just spent all year listening to David Allan Coe and Venom, but, people like lists.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Best of 2012 (The Super Biased Edition)

It's that time of year again, when pretty much every music writer with a functioning cerebral cortex (and, seemingly, a few without) hunkers down in their undoubtedly stuffy, dirty sock- and empty juice container-strewn lairs and bash away at their respective keyboards, frantically arranging and rearranging and evaluating and worrying and eventually allowing themselves to experience that sweet, sweet second of release when they think, "Aw, fuck it" and hit the Send button. Yep, it's year-end best-of list time, the most wonderful(ly arbitrary) time of every music journo's year!

I actually really like making lists, but tend to get overwhelmed and contrary after filing the fourth one in a row. It is a frustrating, silly process, and oftentimes makes me feel like I'm choosing sides in one massive, ugly are-you-my-friend-or-hers middle school battle, especially since so many of my mates insist on making super awesome records every year. My day job as a publicist also makes things difficult, because there are always at least a few records that I desperately want to include, because I genuinely think that they deserve the nod (I choose with whom to work and I only work with bands that I think are fucking rad!), but am unable to because, duh. There's a grey area for sure, and I end up skirting it once in awhile, but I do try my best to avoid conflicts of interest. That's why I'm putting this little list up on here, my personal blog, and making it very, very clear that I am openly biased about these albums for various business/personal reasons (it doesn't help when your boyfriend plays in a band, or you spend weeks on tour with bands, or your former clients release side projects!).

They're still fucking awesome, though, and if you haven't heard them yet, you really should!

So here's my totally, utterly, absolutely, 100% biased top whatever list of some of the best records of 2012 that I cannot include on any of my published lists for one reason or another.

Panopticon - Kentucky (Handmade Birds/Pagan Flames)

Bastard Sapling - Dragged From Our Restless Trance (Forcefield Records)

Dragged Into Sunlight - Widowmaker (Prosthetic)

Saint Vitus - Lillie: F-65 (Season of Mist)

Aelter - III (Eternal Warfare)

Don Seantalamh a Chuid Féin (Into the Void Records)

Obolus - Lament (The Flenser)

Greed & Rapacity - Loki Bound

Ecocide - When Will It End (Tofu Carnage)

Appalachian Terror Unit - Black Sands (Profane Existence)

Sutekh Hexen - Larvae (Handmade Birds)

A Story of Rats - Vastness & The Inverse (Translinguistic Other)

Windhand - S/T (Forcefield Records)

Author & Punisher - Ursus Americanus (Seventh Rule)

Inperial Triumphant - Abominamentvm (self-released)

Pinkish Black - S/T (Handmade Birds).

BONG - Mana Yood Sushai (Ritual Productions)

I also really liked the Kaevum's 'Natur' record, but they're pretty blatantly NS and I just do not feel like dealing with all that noise. Great music, though.

So there you have it. I'll post my various other published lists as they go up.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hallo, Deutschland

Al and I went to Berlin for this year's Nuclear War Now! fest - or "live ritual," if you prefer - and it ruled. We did a bunch of sightseeing, bought an old Soviet gasmask from a man on a bridge (you sort of have to, don't you), ate our combined weight in falafel and chips, drank far too much whiskey, hugged up on a bunch of buddies from all over the world, met some rad people, and, of course, watched some AMAZING bands. I've got a proper live review of all that coming out in the next Terrorizer Magazine, but suffice it to say, Revenge, Knelt Rote, Wrathprayer, and Dead Congregation alone made all the madness worthwhile.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hey -

I'm horrible at updating this thing, and my grand aspirations of doing an actual tour diary evaporated around the same time I remembered how insanely hectic touring is. It's the same story every time; I sign myself up for a zillion projects and assignments, hop in the van, start telling myself about how much work I'm going to get done before doors...during the wherever we're crashing...before van call..oh, shit. I find myself scrabbling around just trying to finish the bare minimum - the assignments that pay, that have hard deadlines, that I can't afford to push back a week or three. That's where I'm at now. I owe loads of words to at least three places, probably more - only Gmail knows - and have between now and 11am Dallas time to get 'em done. C'est ma vie.

So here's a few things I actually did manage to get done since I last posted...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

See you soon, Americaland.


9/14 Little Rock AR @ Rev Room *
9/15 Memphis TN @ Hi-Tone Cafe
9/16 Nashville TB @ Exit/In
9/18 Atlanta GA @ The Masquerade
9/19 Raleigh NC @ Lincoln Theatre
9/20 Richmond VA @ Kingdom
9/21 Huntington WV @ V Club
9/22 Boomslang Festival @ Buster's Billiard's & Backroom, Lexington KY
9/23 Pittsburgh PA @ The Rex Theater
9/24 Cambridge MA @ The Middle East
9/25 Brooklyn NY @ Saint Vitus Bar
9/27 Washington DC @ Black Cat
9/28 New York NY @ Best Buy Theater w/ DOWN **
9/29 Cleveland OH @ Grog Shop
9/30 Chicago IL @ Bottom Lounge
10/1 Minneapolis MN @ Triple Rock Social Club
10/2 Lawrence KS @ Granada Theater
10/3 Denver CO @ Bluebird Theater
10/4 Salt Lake City UT @ Urban Lounge
10/5 Boise ID @ Neurolux
10/6 Fall Into Darkness Fest, Portland OR
10/7 Seattle WA @ Highline
10/9 San Francisco CA @ The Independent
10/10 Los Angeles CA @ Bootleg Theater
10/11 Sacramento CA @ Harlow's
10/12 Santa Cruz CA @ Atrium at The Catalyst
10/13 Pomona CA @ venue TBA **
10/14 Santa Ana CA @ Constellation Room at The Observatory
10/15 Mesa AZ @ Nile Theater
10/16 Albuquerque NM @ Launchpad
10/18 Austin TX @ Beauty Ballroom
10/19 San Antonio TX @ Bonds 007

Saturday, September 1, 2012

5. 6. 7.

My stint with Hull is over as of a few hours ago, when they dropped me off in front of Downtown Music Hall in Little Rock. I love those boys, and am hoping that the next year brings them the kind of attention and success that they really, truly deserve. They were so much fun to (mini)-tour with.

Day 5 was an off day; we bummed around and stopped in Memphis to hunt down some barbeque (success! Rendezvous did us right, touristy kitsch and limited menu be damned. Best sweet tea I've ever had) and crashed at their pal Jacob's house in Little Rock around midnight. We watched the Bobby Liebling documentary, which was infinitely depressing and made me really, really glad that I stay away from drugs, but also delighted to see my old friend Pellet looking so happy at the end. By the time we'd seen the last of Bobby, Jacob has headed to bed, and we followed suit.  He has four adorable cats that kept everyone except Jeff in paroxysms of delight, and an impossibly stocked cupboard filled exclusively with packets of Top Ramen and white rice, which gave me flashbacks to my first forays into "cooking" when I was in grade school. I like your style, Jacob.

Yesterday was the second day of Mutants of the Monster Fest II. There were a handful of bands I was really excited to see - Beneath Oblivion, The Ascent of Everest, Hull (duh), and Rwake - and a few I'd never really heard of before. I always forget how awesome Rwake's live performances can be, between CT's manic street preacher energy, B's spidery Moog manipulations and caustic howls, the crashing heaviness of it all, and the ragged synchronicity of the band itself. Also, John gives the best hugs. The Ascent of Everest are something really beautiful, too - post-rock with soul. I do still miss Evil Bebos, some of the members' previous band - an awesomely heavy psych-doom band that my best friend and I used to hang with and put on house shows for in college (she did the show-throwing, I did the nerding-out-about-them-in-print-ing). Those weer the best days, when we were a little younger and a lot wilder and way crustier. Hull crushed it - they really are so much meaner and streamlined as a four-piece, and have really impressed me on this run. Git it, boys. I hadn't seen Beneath Oblivion in years, since Kuma's Rock Fest in Chicago in 2009 (they remember my underage ass getting kicked out and summarily quarantined by the gear cases, too) but have been following them ever since, and was captivated by the suffocating heaviness they brought to the Downtown's stage. The Pallbearer fellas showed up and gave me a heavy-duty vinyl copy of their new record (best dudes, best present!) and I must have hugged half of Arkansas out of sheer happiness in being there. People here are so very kind, and honest, and passionate. They really fucking care about music.

Tonight, Pallbearer are the main attraction, with a metric fuckton of others taking the stage beforehand - I think the first band goes on in about fifteen minutes, and it's only 2:45pm. Gonna be a long day. Bought my plane tickets for London this morning, too, so color me the happiest girl in the world. Seven hours on a plane is nothing - I'd travel halfway 'round the world four times over just to see his face.

Spent some time walking around Little Rock earlier today in search of tea and a bagel, and on my way to the inevitable Starbucks (about a mile way), was struck by now much...nothing...that there was. Vacant businesses, empty storefronts, faded signs, nothing resembling traffic on a hot Saturday afternoon. The odd denizen walking - or stumbling - around in the heat. Nothing but fast food and a dubious-looking Chinese restaurant with shuttered windows seemed to be open, and I was on the verge of reverting back to tour mode and going the gas station breakfast route (Lipton tea and a packet of ramen crumpled into two separate Styrofoam cups of boiling water) when that blessed greenish mermaid rose up from the sea of auto parts and empty streets to beckon me into her air-conditioned, comfortingly bland gullet. It made me realize how little I actually know about this city that I've spent so much time visiting. I've seen the (awesome) woman who runs Downtown Music more often than my own mother this year, and been to Little Rock with four different bands by now, but I still haven't got a clue what it's really like. That's what touring does to you, I guess. All you see are snapshots. Sometimes they're good - endless wild nights in Chicago, the mouthwatering pizza and big-hearted staff at the Hi-Tone in Memphis, Ho Sai Gai's sesame chicken in Philly, the lovely couple with the hearse in their front yard in Orlando - and sometimes they're terrible, or worse, straight up boring. Driving through Mississippi or Detroit is awful. Wending your way through the mountains and over the painted deserts out West will fill you with life and awe. Swilling bourbon in Nashville and chugging forties on a stoop outside a basement show in South Philly is scumbag nirvana. Places I hate to visit, like Pittsburgh and Miami and Missouri and most of Texas - have their pros, but by the luck of the draw, I only see the cons. The neverending cornfields and truckstops of the Midwest will numb you. The arid, lonesome Southwest will parch you. The toll-heavy asshole-driven Northeast will make you see red. The swampy black magic druglust in NOLA and Savannah will take their pound of flesh. 

I can say all of these things, and know them, and mean them, but acknowledge full well that I do not really know these places. Some I'm very familiar with - Chicago, Portland, Philly, Raleigh, NYC, Austin - and some I've only passed through, but none of them are home to me. They're home to someone, though, someone who knows them like the back of their hand and can show you where they went to preschool down the street and tell you where to get the best sandwich in town. All I can do is draw upon my own blinkered experience, and draw my own conclusions, as biased and ill-informed they undoubtedly may be. I remember royally pissing off a blogger from Iowa after complaining about how shitty Dubuque, and by extension, Iowa, was. He got annoyed at my perceived "East Coast superiority complex," and I hated the fuck out of that lame little burgh with its rude youth and inhospitable vibes. I have never had fun in Iowa, and wasn't about to pretend. We were both right, and both wrong, and both had opinions about this particular slab of earth. 

I want to get to know these places, though. I want to see them through different eyes, and venture off the beaten path, and fall in love with them. The place I grew up probably seems like a hillbilly backwater to those who have never fallen asleep to a whipporwill's cries or seen the sun bleed out through pine branches, or picked huckleberries and played catch with an old hound dog all day then fallen asleep beneath a tanned deer hide, or known what it feels like to walk a ways into the woods behind your house and be the only human being within untold miles of dense, untouched, untainted forest. To me, it's heaven, but to someone else, it's hell. Pittsburgh is someone's heaven. Oakland is someone's heaven. Houston is someone's heaven. 

Guess I'll just have to keep hitting that asphalt, and wait for clarity.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2. 3. 4.

It's been a funny few days. We're in Atlanta, at the same venue I was at last time a tour brought me through town: 529, a tiny spot that has brushed off quite a bit of the sawdust and slopped black paint over the unfinished beams that had splintered up a passel of babythrashers at that Municipal Waste gig, and have closed off about half of the venue space for reasons unknown. The bar is a bottleneck, the bartenders pour 'em weak, but I dig this city, and it's always great to see old friends from the road. Nick's here, and Brent's playing with his new band Order of the Owl (bone-shaking tones), Juan's here with his side band Stallone, and the Royal Thunder cats just rolled through. I hit up the rest of the Zoroasters and Kevin Sharp, but it's tough to get even old friends out to Tuesday night gigs. One familiar face is worth the world when you're far from home.

Yesterday was eventful, to say the least. We woke up and hit a nice old diner in downtown Carrboro with Jenks from Horseback, then went hiking (well, wandering half-lost) through the woods 'til we found this "swimming hole" Jeffrey had told us about. It was really just a stretch of silty, stagnant river coursing sluggishly beneath an overhanging tree to which someone long ago had nailed a crude approximation of a ladder and diving platform. Of course we all had to have a go. My fear of heights surfaced well past the point of any safe return, so I eventually - and after much coaxing - jumped down into the muddy waters, and to my immense surprise, did not die. That fifteen-foot drop was more than enough for me; I'll never understand how Al went cliff-diving so casually in Malawi. After that, we shucked off out wet clothes, rinsed off, and headed over to the show, to load in Hull's mountains of gear down a flight and a half of stairs. Slowly but surely, my tour muscles are coming back. Mediterranean food, solid performances from Systems (who sound like a mathier Thou) and Caltrop (who should tour with Royal Thunder), my first time seeing Hull as a four-piece (way meaner), a lot of online flat-hunting between customers, and that was over. We stayed with one of their mates from Caltrop and his stunningly beautiful wife in their rambling old farmhouse, replete with a lazy hound dog, a nice collection of literature on the Cultural Revolution, and the cutest kitten of all time. It also featured some diabolical-looking spiders, no A/C, and a non-working toilet, so this morning found us a few rungs beneath bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Van naps, a visit to Biscuitville, endless Skype mobile chat (if only my dodgy Android had Facetime [ultimate first world problem, I know]) and a ill-fated decision to nod off whilst listening to the new Nihill album. I woke up shaking. That's the first album that's ever, ever given me nightmares, but Jelle and Mikael managed to erode my psyche and bathe it all in blood. I'm still a bit shaken, which I suppose is a good result for a fucked-up black metal record.

The day before yesterday was just spent hanging about Sean's brother's house, more Skype, some work, and awesome pancakes. We made the six or so hour drive to Chapel Hill, had some ridiculously indulgent bar food, watched some horribly depressing Louis C.K. reruns, and crashed. Not a bad off day.

We're staying with one of the Royal Thunder dudes tonight; hoping to sneak off and do some writing and new music listening, as I'm woefully behind. It stresses me out so much, being on the road. Never enough time for anything. If I couldn't talk to Al all the time, I'd go mad. I love him more every day.

Birmingham tomorrow. I hate Birmingham. I've only ever had one good time in Birmingham - hopefully tomorrow will be a redemption of sorts. At the very least, I'll get some decent pizza at Magic Mushroom.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So I'm in a van again.

And I figured I'd write about it. I guess this is something of a tour diary, but really, it's just a diary. I'll be traveling through most of the country 'til October 1st, and odds are I'll find at least a few things worth documenting. Or not. We'll see.

I feel like shit. Waking up hungover is generally not something I’d recommend for the best of times, like those lazy Sundays spent naked in bed with your similarly-incapacitated significant other, slurping down lo mein and watching old episodes of 30 Rock. Waking up hungover when you have an actual thing to do and a set time by which said thing must be accomplished is an extraordinarily unappealing prospect, one that I’d hoped to avoid for this particular task, but these things have a way of spiraling out of my control once certain elements come into play. Well, just the one element, really. The booze. I don’t drink that often – I’m too cheap, and just don’t feel the urge, anyway – but when I do, and it’s a special occasion of sorts, I’ll fucking drink. My poison is bourbon; the honeyed sting of it, that peaty musky taste and feeling of slow, malicious warmth spreading down your throat is just the best damn thing. It’s funny, whiskey. Whiskey is one of those things that it’s sort of cool to say you like, right? That’s how it seems, anyway. Whiskey is tough, and manly, and just expensive enough to be a bit of a luxury. Well, unless you stick to the rail like I do. Like I’ve got ten bucks to spare for a shot of Maker’s? Fuck outta here, this is New York. I barely have ten bucks to spend on groceries, let alone indulgences. I’ve got more scratch than usual right now, but even that slight wisp of financial security, or at least my approximation of it, dwells within the sort of number range a lawyer would sniff at, and a Kardashian would equate to Somalian orphan’s level of poverty.  What I’m saying is, I’m not pinching my pennies as tightly as I’ve had to do before, but I still ain’t buying the good stuff. Anyway. A few Solo cups of cheap red wine, mixed with Coke of course – calimocho, as the Portuguese call it, discovered years ago when that one gorgeous, spectacularly dull Spaniard introduced me to it out of the trunk of his beat-up red car – were doing me just fine, but once Lady Bourbon swaggered into the picture, my dreams of a cheery productive morning went the way of the dodo in under five minutes. Hazy recollections of Axl Rose impressions and awkward water-under-the-bridge-so-why-do-we-need-to-talk-about-it encounters and new friends and falling on my ass whilst screaming Hatebreed lyrics outside some hipster watering hole in Williamsburg swam in and out of my consciousness as I woke up, groggy and headsick. Fuck, what time was it? Noon? Goddamnit, I had to meet the Hull dudes in exactly one hour, and all I wanted to do was turn back over, hug my shitty Dollar General-brand pillow, and go the fuck back to sleep. The show must go on, though, and tour vans wait for no man, especially on the first day, so I eventually, unwillingly, managed to haul my pathetic carcass into Sam’s shower and into my dirty cutoffs. A few moments’ worth of waffling – clean shirt? Worth it? Uhh – accompanied a dejected glance at the now-empty Styrofoam container that had once held delicious, greasy noodles and was now nothing more than a cold reminder of drunk me’s stumbly voyage into the kitchen and gleefully wolfing down cold sloppy Chinese at 4am before passing out. Man, I’d kill for some fuckin’ noodles right now, but no time – I was late. Time to hit the road.

The drive down to Annandale, Virginia took two extra hours thanks to various traffic snarls, but passed quickly and pleasantly enough. Hull’s van is huge, and the boys’ commentary and occasional bursts of song (Carmine brought along the ol’ acoustic, which is already proving to have been a wise decision) were bright spots in an otherwise dully misery-laced nap. I slept away most of the gut rot by Maryland, but am still feeling pretty low. I miss Al. He had a gig tonight, so we only got to talk for about five minutes this morning. The time differences destroys me when I’m traveling; it’s hard enough accounting for five hours, never mind pulling it off when you’re in a different time zone every day. I wish I was in Leeds watching him shred, but, c’est la vie right now. The house show environment isn’t doing much for me, either; everyone’s smoking, it’s loud, wah wah wah. I have to switch back into tour mode – I’m going to be living rough and dirty for the next month, and can’t allow that bitchy little princess that I am convinced every road dog keeps secretly tucked away for emergencies and week eight of tour to come shining through quite so soon

Aaron and Rob from Salome – well, ex-Salome, Salome is dead but dearly, dearly departed – are here. Rob’s new band is about to go on, and I should probably start making some kind of moves, to go and watch them if not load stuff. The “venue” space is smaller than our living room in Bed Stuy, and can uncomfortably fit about ten people and a band. Loading in and setting up is going to be hilarious, and fuck knows what I’m meant to do with the merch, but I shouldn’t be complaining so much. This is rock’n’roll. This is THE LIFE. Right?

We were meant to hit Richmond tomorrow, and I was looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and hopefully getting Luna to pierce me, but the gig fell through, and no one’s really given me an answer as to what we’re going to be doing in its stead. I hope we get to RVA at least for a little while; I love that city, and am there so infrequently that it hasn’t gotten old yet. We’ll see. Tomorrow’s another day, and I haven’t had a single drink, so I’m pretty sure my perspective – and complexion – will be much brighter come morning.

Monday, August 20, 2012

WEAPON Interview -

This piece was written for and published by Absolute Underground Magazine in Canada - the new issue is out now, and is available for free all over Canada! Cheers to Mashruk for the interview.
Here's the text.


“Revelations From the Devil’s Tomb”
by Kim Kelly

The Canadian tradition of extreme metal brutality and iconoclastic personality is well-known and world-renowned, from Black Kronstadt to Blasphemy and many points in between. One of the newest but most potent additions to Edmonton’s already solid local lineup (stacked as it is with Revenge, Rites of Thy Degringolade, Axis of Advance, etc) comes via worlds away..from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to be exact. Vetis Monarch of Satanic black/death tyrants Weapon moved to Canada during his mid-teens and started the band in 2003; he temporarily moved back to Bangladesh for several years (during which he recorded the band’s infamous 'Within The Flesh of the Satanist' Demo tape and 'Violated Hejab' EP) then relocated once more to end up in Edmonton, where the band has been based and thriving since 2005. Weapon is now rounded out by The Disciple on drums, Kha Tumos (bass) and new addition Rom Surtr on guitar. Now, fresh off a North American tour with Marduk and 1349, and armed with brand-new album due out on Relapse Records within the next year, Vetis Monarch was kind enough to answer a few questions for Absolute Underground. Unleash hell.

Kim Kelly: 'Embers and Revelations' has been completed, and the only question that remains is, when will it be released?

Vetis Monarch: The album was initially slated to be released this September, but it's been moved back slightly due to some unforeseen, weak and douchebag behavior thrown our way from oceans across. If all works out according to our new plans, it should still be the fall of 2012. If not, then early 2013.

KK: Tell me a bit about the creation of this album. I know you worked very hard on perfecting the songs, and especially the lyrics. What can we expect to hear?

VM: We started work on this record over 2 years ago. Not necessarily with the goal of writing another album per se, we just started writing. Like most bands, we go through creative bursts and dry periods; unlike most bands, we throw away a ton of riffs that are not good enough.

The music and the lyrics get equal importance in Weapon. I can't say the lyrics get priority, because one without the other is useless, as far as we are concerned. Weapon has always had a very spiritual approach to this music, and that HAS to remain intact. Otherwise it's just a bunch of guys playing metal.

One one hand, 'Embers And Revelations' is a direct continuation of 'From The Devil's Tomb', in its scathing Death Metal fury. One the other hand, we've more incorporated 'atmospheric' and esoteric elements and concocted a very dark and mystical album.

KK: How did you refine and improve upon your songwriting and sound for this release? Your last record, ‘From The Devil’s Tomb,’ must have been a bitch to top.

VM: That it was, but what other option did we have? After an album like 'From The Devil's Tomb' is received the way it was, I had to get even more picky with the riffs I was showing to the W crew. NOT topping the last record was unfathomable. New material has to be better than everything that's ever been done in the past, or why even bother creating new songs? That being said, we just kept the focus on writing a juggernaut of a Black/Death metal record without constantly second-guessing ourselves and comparing ourselves to our past discography.

We refine ourselves internally and externally. There are levels of expectations to be met from each other and from ourselves. Our goal, however, is not to be the most tech / evil / whatever band around; Weapon is about writing the best songs.

KK: Tell me a bit about the subject matter on the album.

VM: Thematically / ideologically, Weapon will never stray from the course of Left Hand Path and Satanism. The occult and deathworship have been my lyrical foundation since the days of our first Demo, and thus it shall remain until the end of this band.

"Throne of disorder; in sulfur diadem, (our) Lord breathes on embers, grants revelations."

KK: You've made mention previously about growing up in Bangladesh and discovering the goddess Kali; how would you say your relationship with Kali led you towards Satanism? When it comes to your own beliefs, how do you reconcile the world of Kali with the concept of Satan?

VM: It was essentially exposure to a deity most powerful at a very young age. Too young to be able to comprehend what I was experiencing, but old enough for the 'damage' to be done. Kali was a forbidden element in my mostly Muslim surroundings, so naturally I was drawn to the Dark Mother if for nothing else, to rebel and defy the status quo; once I had passed through the gates, so to speak, I learned more about this deity of Death and saw the mirror image of Lilith, the consort of Satan. The rest, well... you know. Here we are.

Adversarial and illuminating figures go hand in hand in almost every mythological and religious tradition. When one really examines what it is that Satan encompasses, reconciliation of the world of Kali and the concept of Satan is just some brain cell friction away.   

KK: What are your thoughts on metal bands (black metal or otherwise) who claim that Satan is unnecessary to create extreme metal? Is it a personal choice, or do you feel that that undercurrent of Satanic feeling is necessary in order to write a proper black metal record?

VM: Metal bands can sing about whatever the fuck they want. Lyrical matter is up to the band and I believe in freedom of speech. Black Metal, however, is Satan. That's non-negotiable. Lack of Satan means you do not play in a Black Metal band, regardless of how many Immortal riffs you've stolen or much panda makeup you've worn. Weather reports, national socialism, pagan fire dances and pretty flowers do not a Black Metal band make.

So to answer the first part of your question more articulately - if your band claims to be Black Metal but you do not worship the Devil, go fuck yourself.

KK: What is black metal in 2012? The term is such a blanket statement - theoretically, one could toss Blasphemy, Wolves in the Throne Room, Mayhem, One Tail One Head, and Drudkh in there, and even Weapon sometimes gets thrown in as well. Is a definition necessary anymore? Is a definition possible?

VM: I would never - theoretically or otherwise - utter Blasphemy, Root and Mayhem in the same breath with something as asinine as Wolves In The Throne Room. That would be like mentioning a fucktard like Adam Sandler to the work of Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Clint Eastwood.

Weapon gets tossed in there and we have absolutely no problem with that, because we are still very much a Black Metal band in many ways. People often call us Death Metal, and that's fine too. Definition is necessary, and it is possible. It is necessary for the differentiating betwixt what's quality and what's vapid, what's original and what's contrived, and what's strong and what's weak. And no, not everything in world is subjective. Violence and fundamentalism are 2 very key ingredients in this music, and as long as Weapon is around, that will not change. Hail Satan.

Monday, July 30, 2012

ROTTING CHRIST's Sakis comments on The Golden Dawn and the difficulties of creating art amidst chaos

Excerpt from a recent interview I conducted with Sakis Tolis, guitarist & vocalist for Greek black metal institution Rotting Christ (edited slightly for clarity/grammar).

KK: Over the past two decades, the band has faced plenty of uproar from various Christian communities. How is the band received in Greece? Are people used to you by now, or do you still see trouble from time to time?

ST: We always had problems with Christians and generally with conservative ideas and close mind people.We never stepped back and we always keep on spreading our ideas and our music even though it was hard sometimes. I remember live cancellations, refusals to distribute our albums, “riots”, even threats, but this is METAL. Metal can not be compatible to the majority otherwise it will lose its meaning.
KK: On a side note, it’s been interesting following the controversy over Naer Mataron’s Giorgos Germenis’ election to the Greek Parliament. How do people within the metal scene view this event? Does the Golden Dawn have many supporters amongst Greek metalheads, or it it more of a fringe movement?

ST: 7% can not be a fringe movement! Something else  drove people to vote for this extreme right party and the reason is something that we suffer as society.The corruption of the political system so the people voted for a hand that can punch politics' face. I have lived in Greece all my life and believe me that there are not half million extreme right citizens. Greece is a “left" country that has nothing to do with such movements. You know when there is crisis somewhere and a whole nation is ready to collapse then this situation is  exploited from the extreme movements and Golden Dawn is one of them.

Now if there are supporters of Golden Dawn in Metal I guess mathematically there are but I see not  such movement in Greek Metal scene.

METAL in my opinion has nothing to do with politics.I am also a political sensitive person but I leave that miles aways from what I call Metal and this is in my opinion what all journalists should do.

KK: How have Greece’s recent financial issues affected the way bands and artists operate within the country? Has it had an effect on your ability to practice your craft, or just provided fuel for the fire?

ST: It is said that a crisis or war or something miserable helps art. Yes I do agree with that but my friend, what we have lived through as citizens the last two years is worst than a war. In a war you know your enemy.Here we have to face a digital  enemy ,an enemy with numbers that in reality does not exist, and this is worst than everything. And I am afraid that I will feedback positive to your question if that had effect the band or the musicians.When you wake up and you do not know if your country will collapse and if you see people with depression all around, if you see no jobs around, if you see people committing suicide, then I am afraid that this can affect your creation .I have get over my limits composing new songs all this year. First time that I ever worked so hard, as I had to pick up my mind from what is going on around and be focused to my point. I am glad that I finally came upo with new songs that I am currently recording but I have always my mind on what is going on down here that I am afraid…that is just the beginning!

Monday, June 4, 2012

First piece for Decibel Magazine

Two page live review of Roadburn 2012.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Back on the road.

May 17, 2012
Black Tusk tour.

 It's about eleven o'clock and we're in the van, driving down a lonesome highway in Alabama. Outside our rumbling, self-contained universe, the air presses down, hard and humid. Everything is black and grey. No light, no nothing, just brief flashes of garish light as billboards swim in and out of view. We're listening to a Townes van Zandt covers record that Scott Kelly, Steve Von Till, and Wino have put together. Weeping acoustics, scratchy throats whispering a dead man's thoughts, velvety strings shimmering underneath. It's haunting, subtle, dusky music, made for lonesome nights and quiet thoughts. Nights like these really underline how far I am from home, and how alright that is by me.

Tomorrow, we carry on into Louisiana to meet up with our friends Down and haarp for a string of shows through the South. We are staying in some no name hotel in Mobile tonight, all four of us curled up in one room like stray dogs. Road dogs - it's more apt of a description than a cursory reading will reveal. Roaming the earth like hungry wolves, sticking close to our pack, relying on the kindness of our far-flung tribe to get by. It's a life built on love, and muscle, and bullheaded determination. Many others know as well as I do how hard this can be, but, it is worth the sweat and bruises and aggravation to find a place that feels like home - even if that place is a creaky old Ford van stuffed with boots and wayward sunflower seeds.

 It's good to be home.

 With Down and Haarp
 5/18: Broussard, LA @ The Station
 5/19: Huntsville, AL @ Crossroads
 5/21: Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel
 5/23: Little Rock, AR @ Juanita's Cantina Ballroom
 5/25: Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theater *

*5/24-5/27 I will be in Baltimore for Maryland Death Fest, and will rejoin the tour 5/28**

 With Municipal Waste
 5/27: Wilmington, NC @ The Soapbox Laundrolounge
 5/28: Atlanta, GA @ 529 5/29: Orlando, FL @ The Social 
5/30: Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
 6/2: Denton, TX @ Rubber Gloves
 6/3: Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory
 6/5: Tempe, AZ @ 910 Live

 With Municipal Waste and 3 Inches of Blood
 6/11: Anaheim, CA @ Chain Reaction
 6/12: Hollywood, CA @ The Key Club
 6/13: Oakland, CA @ Oakland Metro Operahouse
 6/15: Seattle, WA @ Neumos Crystal Ball Reading Room 
6/16: Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
 6/21: Chicago, IL @ Reggie's Rock Club
 6/22: Columbus, OH @ Screamin' Willies

 "Orion Music + More Festival" 6/23: Atlantic City, NJ @ Bader Field

 With Municipal Waste and 3 Inches of Blood
6/24: Albany, NY @ Bogies
 6/25: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
 6/26: New York, NY @ Santos Party House

Friday, May 11, 2012

MDF X Playlist:

Here's a downloadable playlist of a few bands I'm really stoked to be seeing at this year's Maryland Death Fest X.


MORTUARY DRAPE - "Obsessed by Necromancy"
HORNA - "Vihan Tie"
NASUM - "The Engine of Death"
ARCHGOAT - "Goddess of the Abyss of Graves"
DEVIATED INSTINCT - "Disciples of the Storm"
HELLBASTARD - "Massacre"
EYEHATEGOD - "Dixie Whiskey"
BLACK WITCHERY - "Apocalyptic Carnage"
DEMIGOD - "Tears of God"
MORBID ANGEL - "Chapel of Ghouls"
SARGEIST - "Black Fucking Murder"
SAINT VITUS - Look Behind You"
GHOUL - "Splatterthrash"
EXTERMINATION ANGEL- "Whirlwind Killing Spree"
INFERNAL STRONGHOLD - "Snorting the Ruins of Sodom"


Friday, May 4, 2012

Mutilation Rites

I fucking love these dudes. Doing a tiny piece on them for the next issue of Terrorizer; here's the full interview. Short and sweet.

 - Tell me about Empyrean. It's been getting sick reviews already, and is a marked progression from the band's earlier demos. You guys have really come into your own.

 Thanks. We're excited about the record. This album was much more of a group effort than any of the other recordings we've done. I think we've really fleshed out how to work with each other and put it all into Empyrean.

 - You guys stay away from the occult gobbledegook that so many black metal bands jock, show up on stage in whatever you wore that day, and generally give zero fucks about "image." It rules. Your lyrics and aesthetic seem to fall into that realm, too - there's definitely evil brewing, but it feels more genuine. Can you give me some insight into the philosophy and goals behind the band?

 Yeah I don't really understand why you would put on a bunch of fake blood or makeup when you're just some dude from the US. I understand aesthetics are important to an extent but you shouldn't pretend to be something you aren't. We're just dudes making music for us, we don't need to put on a bunch of costumes to prove how legit we are. We don't have a message for you. I'm not trying to preach eternal war, blasphemy blah blah. My lyrics are personal and the band just makes music that feels natural.

 - How sick are you of people asking you about Brooklyn by now? Who are a few bands from there that people should be paying attention to?

 Hahahaha I'm so sick of it! I think people assume all Brooklyn metal bands have weekly meetings or something. As far as local Brooklyn bands? Ruin Lust, Trenchgrinder, Syphilitic Lust, Mutant Supremacy all totally fucking rip and should get a lot more attention.

 - You guys are always, always on tour. What are your favorite places to play? Where do you get the best reaction, and what's the weirdest gig you've played recently?

 We love playing Chicago. Shaman records always gets us badass shows. Usually with crusty bands, which is a safe bet for a good time. Wisconsin is always good to us too. The Midwest in general seems to be where we get the best reception so far. Doing DIY shows all over, you tend to play a lot of basements, restaurants, warehouses. Nothing too out of the ordinary in that realm lately.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Interview with Horseback

I interviewed Horseback's Jenks Miller for a Terrorizer piece. Here's the full interview (spared the slicing and dicing of the editorial process).

So this is your first album of all-new material for Relapse! Are you excited to get it out there and see what kind of reaction pops up?

Yes, I certainly appreciate the opportunity to work with Relapse. They’ve released some of my favorite metal records over the years, including Transcendence into the Peripheral, Onward to Golgotha, and Repulsion’s Horrified.

I honestly have no idea what kind of reaction to expect -- I try not to think too much about that kind of thing, lest expectations unnecessarily influence my creative process.

You're highly prolific, and endlessly innovative. What's your creative process like? Are you constantly writing, recording, and resurrecting, or does inspiration come in bursts?

It’s largely the former. I try to make writing and recording a daily practice. It helps if I approach music with the same discipline I would a full-time job. Not every idea works, of course: a part of this daily practice involves discarding -- or at least temporarily shelving -- certain fragments until a burst of inspiration like you describe makes that material useful.

I’ve also found that listening to as much music as I can, and to different kinds of challenging music, is another essential habit. I’m drawn to music that doesn’t seem to make sense at first. This reaction suggests a potential area into which my own vocabulary could expand, as both a listener and an artist. Many of my favorite records today felt impenetrable when I first heard them.

There are so many layers and different sounds woven into your music, from black metal rasps to glorious ambient sunrises. It's a truly unique beast. It's a total cliche question, but - from whence do you draw your primary inspiration? Films, music, authors, places...

If I could, I’d write pages in response to this question! I’ll answer briefly, in the categories you’ve provided:

Films: Andrei Tarkovsky, Alejandro Jodorowsky, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock. I’ve been fond of Jane Campion’s film The Piano since I was a kid. Something about the cinematography and Nyman’s score. There was a time in my teens when I would fall asleep every night with either The Piano soundtrack or Satyricon’s Nemesis Divina playing quietly on my CD player. I now realize that I was aiming for a hypnagogic dream-state. This sort of hallucinatory state seems to be one common thread connecting all my favorite films and records.

Music: Metal, noise, contemporary classical (Glass, Radigue, Tony Conrad), proto-punk (Funhouse is tops), krautrock, folk (including folk-rock like Neil Young and Fairport Convention), goth rock (Fields of the Nephilim, Joy Division, Bauhaus). Jazz (especially Don Cherry and late-era John and Alice Coltrane) and dub (King Tubby and Scratch) are always on around the house. Swans, Lungfish, Keiji Haino, Junior Kimbrough. Some electronica -- I’ve really enjoyed Gas ever since I came across the box set of his Mille Plateaux albums a couple years ago. Records from friends and acquaintances are always in rotation. I’m obsessed with sound, always reaching for more of it. Right now I’m listening to a box set of old Feedtime records Sub Pop just released.

Authors: Mostly nonfiction. Authors I was exposed to in college. I enjoy books on mythology, mysticism, music theory, art history. Alan Moore’s and Charles Burns’ graphic novels. The novel I read most recently was Don DeLillo’s White Noise.

Places: My home in central North Carolina remains my favorite place on earth. I live in the woods, far enough from town that I have time to myself, space to think and breathe. I love the Appalachian Mountains, a few hours west of here. I spent a lot of time there growing up.

How does 'Half Blood' fit into the rest of your discography?

This record is a synthesis of the various approaches explored on Horseback’s previous records. There are some songs with melodic structures derived from metal, blues and folk musics, along with abstract stuff that depends more on texture itself. Thematically, Half Blood is a meditation on hybridity and evolution, so I thought it would be appropriate to represent a number of different (conflicting? complimentary?) compositional approaches as parts of a greater whole.

Tell me a bit about "Inheritance (The Changeling)". From the outset, it's bathed in this eerie, unsettling glow - like Blood Ceremony covering the Suspiria soundtrack. What's the story behind this one?

I’m not familiar with Blood Ceremony, but I love Goblin and Suspiria. And you’re right -- I certainly intended this track to be eerie and unsettling. I imagined a number of different forms coming together in mutual influence and constant mutation. In the larger context of the record, this track represents a kind of asymmetrical axis around which things grow more abstract and undefined.

"Arjuna" has that same eldritch, almost cinematic quality to it - I could easily imagine it playing in the background as the Wicker Man burns (have you seen that film?). There's a lot of talk about rituals and occult such and suchs in metal lately, but your music does a wicked job of channeling that feeling without dipping into hyperbole or caricature - or feeling the need to call every basement gig a "live ritual".

Yes, I appreciate the original Wicker Man, and I think the comparison is a good one. The symbolic language on Half Blood is borrowed from ancient, polytheistic mythic traditions and mysticism (specifically Hermeticism). Specific symbols from the occult are very important to the record and to this project. However, invoking “the occult” in general is perhaps too easy; often, as you suggest, it becomes shtick, rather than informing a deeper understanding.

Ritual plays a huge role in my life. Years ago, I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (I’ll address this in your next question), which diagnosis explained a great deal to me about why my mind has always favored cyclical systems over terminal ones. As I mentioned earlier, my creative process involves a daily practice. It is time in which I can train my mind into a meditative state. Channeling the natural tendencies of my mind in this way allows me to transform potentially destructive behaviors into focused creative work. It is ritual, in a very real way: I don’t feel a need to exaggerate these ideas because I live with them every day.

You've said that Horseback bagan as a sort of therapeutic outlet during a difficult time in your life. Assuming those times have passed, what purpose does the band now serve? What do you get out of it?

I first started recording the material on Impale Golden Horn as a self-prescribed therapy, yes. At that time, I hadn’t thought about releasing it. Obsessive-compulsive disorder demands a certain level of anxiety-ridden, repetitive mental exercise. It can also provide an uncanny level of focus. I found that by channeling these behaviors into making music, an activity I greatly enjoy, I was able to reduce my anxiety while maintaining my focus. The music on Impale, like most of Horseback’s music, exhibits a repetitive, hypnotic and ritualistic quality because that’s the environment in which it was born.

I’ve accepted the fact that I will always be dealing with OCD. It is a part of who I am. At the risk of romanticising a very serious condition, I can say that I’ve found a positive side to it, or at least a way to harness its mechanisms to my own ends. So this project is still, and will always be, a kind of therapy. As a rock band that produces records, it is also something more: it’s a source of energy and purpose, a creative vehicle, something shared, a means by which I can connect with other people.

What's next for Horseback? A bit of touring, perhaps,or more split releases? I could so imagine your trancelike Americana buzz sharing wax with Panopticon's black metal bluegrass, or Across Tundras' prairie psych...

We’ll play some shows here and there, but this band doesn’t perform very often. This is due both to financial constraints and to the fact that most of the time I can afford to leave my family is spent on the road with my other band, Mount Moriah. A 7” EP, On the Eclipse, was recently released on Brutal Panda Records. A couple other limited releases are in the works, and sometime soon I’d like to collect a bunch of Horseback’s rare and out-of-print material and make it more readily available. I’m working on a new record. There are always new sounds to explore.

The last words are yours!

Thank you, Kim!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I interviewed Hank Williams III!

I was really excited about this. You can read the full article here:

In country music, the surname “Williams” has become almost a talisman — the mark of a dynasty, and a legacy unto itself. The father, the son, and now the grandson have all blazed their own trails through (and beyond) pure country, telling three very different stories but sharing a musical heritage (and in Hank I and Hank III’s case, an uncanny resemblance). It’s a blessing and a curse that the Williams clan’s youngest scion, one Shelton Hank Williams III, has labored under since the first day he drew breath. When your granddad’s regarded as one of the most important country artists of all time and your daddy’s a whiskey-bent and hellbound multiplatinum outlaw called Bocephus, it takes a lot of balls to pick up a guitar, say “fuck it,” and start writing something entirely different.

Luckily, if there’s one thing Hank III has got in abundance, it’s cojones, and if you’re wondering why you’re on a metal site reading references to the man who wrote “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” here’s your answer: we’re talking about his grandson, the man who single-handedly put the “dick” back in Dixie and does his damnedest to keep the raw, rebellious soul of outlaw country alive. Couple redneck royalty with a youth spent pounding the drums for handcore bands and an enduring penchant for thrash and doom, it’s no wonder that he has set up camp at the crossroads of country and heavy metal. These two seemingly disparate genres have quite a bit more in common that meets the eye, and Hank III’s eclectic repertoire is a product of the creative bent and fuck-you can-do attitude that personifies the best of both. He’s been doing things his way since the early nineties — collaborating with the Melvins and Willie Nelson, playing in Superjoint Ritual and Arson Anthem, recording his own tunes with Assjack and under his own name — and decades later, is showing no signs of slowing down.

With four (!) new albums to promote and an array of tour dates coming up quick, ol’ Hank’s got a lot on his mind, and he was more than happy to let me pick his brain.

“Well we’re losing all the outlaws
that had to stand their ground
and they’re being replaced by these kids
from a manufactured town
And they don’t have no idea
about sorrow and woe
‘Cause they’re all just too damn busy
kissin’ ass on Music Row
So I’m here to put the “dick” in Dixie
and the “cunt” back in country
‘Cause the kind of country I hear nowdays
is a bunch of fuckin’ shit to me…”
- “Dick in Dixie,” Hank III


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Straight from CSR Headquarters...

Aksumite has successfully recorded their follow up full length and it was a truly amazing experience. The album was recorded live (bass and vocals overdubbed) totally analog to two-inch tape in one take. No edits, fakery, reverb, or computers were present. The sound you will hear is 100% raw, authentic tubes and tape. Totally analog, 100%. Aksumite is not opposed to digital recording, however they wanted to pay tribute to the rich history of analog recording with their second album. The result is nothing less than stunning. It has surpassed all expectations. An outside engineer was brought in to engineer the sessions (held in his studio). His input and recording expertise (as well as his amazing selection of vintage equipment) was incredibly well appreciated. The album was recorded in five hours and mixed by myself (DAMIANMASTER) and the recording engineer in three hours. Aksumite is currently looking into their mastering options. Look for this release to be available in the early summer. The artwork will be handled by WEEKS (designer and illustrator of the CSR logo). For now, we give you the title and track-listing:


1. Lioness of Gobedra
2, Angel Strike Animal
3. Priory of Aksum
4. Via India
5. Invoke the Spirit Jackal Cloak
6. For the Glory of All Afrika
7. Ezana's Right Hand
8. Ezana's Right Hand (outro)
9. Brazen Ape
10. Islamic Mauraduers
11. Come Alive by Fire
12. The Gilded Goat.

total running time: approx. 25 minutes.