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.