The good news is that it’s more clearly Vikernes writing this record. His previous voice, like his previous actions, seemed to get swallowed up by the notions of his “advisors.” As a result, previous albums did not sound at all like something he touched at all with his personality. This album re-engages his soul a bit more but remains a deliberate use of his talent to produce something cut to form, and the form is what is dictated by the audience. The result is to repeat the error of modern society over again: the people are led by economics or politics, instead of the other way around. While song structures vary somewhat, Umskiptar is designed around the verse-chorus model with melodic choruses and rhythmic, upbeat verses. Like many pasted-together projects, these are united with chromatic fills or conventional devices borrowed out of classic metal. While this album is not as cynically manipulative as the new Napalm Death, for example, it falls short of what made Burzum great, which was an innovative thinker opening up his mind and creativity to the audience. Like his mentor Tolkien, he took people on an adventure with what was and might be again. With Umpskiptar, the listener feels as if he is in one of those Disney-ride type “folk metal” bands that is mostly rock music with folk touches. Bands have been doing this since the 1970s… it has never succeeded, because people regress to the mean and in this case, it’s the archetype of rock and not folk. Vikernes’ early influences come out here, with muffled-chord riffs that sound straight off the first Destruction LP and what sounds like Iron Maiden influences. Musically, it’s adept enough that no part is offensive, and his use of three-part riff clusters as in traditional music is much appreciated, but it doesn’t add up. The whole is not greater than the parts and no atmosphere is created, thus the whole time we are aware that we are modern consumers listening to a modern musical product. Further, the riffs, tempi, themes and transitions are very similar, which in the absence of prior atmosphere does not cause a deepening but a sensation of floating on the surface. Many of the vocal tracks are entirely chanted in the death metal voice, which creates a ludicrous sensation of being yelled at by a drunk guy on the subway. By the time we get to “Valgaldr,” which sounds like an outtake from a bad stoner doom metal album, the lack of energy going into this album is evident. It’s ridiculous to expect an older musician to recapture his younger days. However, it’s equally ridiculous to sabotage a good musical brand by turning it from something rare and brilliant into something pedestrian with interesting “touches” and “accents.” That cuts to the real problem with this album and all post-jail Burzum: they’re boring. Not unmusical, but sparse in density with songs obviously patched-together “to be a song” and not to have any voice of its own. The new crop of teenagers he wants to sell albums to may enjoy this but it’s not distinctly better than its competition enough that it will endure as anything other than an SKU#.
Napalm Death – Utilitarian
In rock ‘n’ roll, it’s better to die young. Even that is a cliche, but so is rock itself. Formed when corporate investors found a way to combine blues, country, folk and pop into a single product, rock has no real soul and so it pretends. The result is a parade of cliches and you hope that if you change the order enough, you become the next Jim Morrison or Morrisey. The sad truth is that rock bands come in two types: the ones who have three albums worth of good ideas and then burn out, and the ones who make the same song over and over again when they run out of energy. If a teenage version of yourself ever walked into a record store and spotted the guy with thinning hair, faded tattoos, and a bunch of stories and even more excuses but no accomplishments, you know what the new Napalm Death is. This is the sound of exhaustion pretending it has vitality for long enough to sell the slop to the kids and move on. The songs are built around the same tired chord progressions, which are barely even progressions in any sense except chromatic patterns at convenient places on the fretboard. The rhythms and riff ideas come from past Napalm Death albums, with a few influences borrowed from older death metal scattered throughout. On top of this, the aged suit-wearing corporate rock Napalm Death throws a single “outside” nuance per song. One tries to imitate the noise/avant-jazz of the early 1990s. Another is halfway to being a Rite of Spring tune. Still another apes the blur-core aesthetic of the new style of grindcore. Others try to return to the bouncy glory days of Fear, Emptiness, Despair or Utopia Banished. Underneath the skin however there is a total lack of ideas or even the guts to just go ahead with something that feels right. This is a cynical, manipulative album hiding a plastic soul which just wants your cash. In aging into oblivion instead of dying young as rock heroes, Napalm Death have made a mockery of everything they stood for. By wrapping this in a trendy surface and trying to pull the works of classic death metal over them like a camouflage mantle, Napalm Death have created a gateway into this genre from the soulless and burnt-out. You have made us all hipsters. Avoid this horrible album.
Terrorizer – Hordes of Zombies
Melba toast has a crunchy exterior, yet turns soft in your mouth. Lightly toasted, it is sweet upon contact with saliva, and will never upset your digestion. In fact, it is like baby food, except that it is crunchy. The new Terrorizer is baby food, true, but it’s awesome baby food. The band have focused not on innovation, not on a nifty surface, and definitely not on topic, since they’re beating the dead couch of the zombie album. What they did do was make something that’s easy to digest but unlike almost all metal released at this time, it’s coherent. Riffs fit together and make sense, even if a kind of pidgin. Rhythms mate effortlessly yet have enough variation to give depth to the compositions. Much of this is pure chromatic, but it captures the momentum of a good riot or fistfight. As a result, it’s easy to listen to and yet maintains its intensity throughout. If you can get over expecting something of emotional profundity like World Downfall, and instead look for the Terrorizer equivalent of Napalm Death’s Fear, Emptiness, Despair (or even Aura Noir’s Black Thrash Attack), you will find in this album a guilty pleasure. It throbs with aggression and yet by not attempting anything too complex, always manages to deliver. There is no attempt here other than to make an energetic, fun, musically-competent grindcore album and Hordes of Zombies rages supreme in this area. Oddly the only new influences seem to be a later Swedish death metal melodic tendency, and a study of riffs from the recent post-death metal era in which the punk riff and the recycled speed metal riff have crept back in. Wisely however Terrorizer keep their music extremely basic, along the lines of the first Brutal Truth album, but give it compelling rhythms and an underlying furor that makes us tune in to see how such violence can also be so much fun to listen to.
We were fortunate enough to hear a preview of the new 2012 album from Texas doom/death occult conjurers DIVINE EVE. The result is resonantly good: further developing the sounds of their last EP, Vengeful and Obstinate, the band have filtered their classic material through its own influences and brought out a stronger, clearer version.
In particular, the bulk of the material heard here are classic CELTIC FROST-style droning verse passages. These are complex and follow the rhythms of the lyrics with several variations. Even when uptempo riffs, reminiscent of CIANIDE, carve their way into each passage, the overall mood of a pervasive and inexorable doom is maintained. On top of this the band pile dark choruses straight off an early CATHEDRAL record and exchanges of death metal riffs that give meat and density to each song, and PARADISE LOST-style lead melodic riffing that drapes each song in an aura of mystery and potential.
What makes this material more advanced than past DIVINE EVE is its consistency. Each part relates to every other part, no matter how simply. There is no extraneous material, or riffs fumbling around for a place in a stream of similar riffs, which gives these tracks more of the early metal feel of NWOBHM or 1980s doom metal. Some of the pacing has a NYHC feel as well, which when played against the CELTIC FROST-style trudging riffs gives the material an almost industrial but apocalyptic and mystical feel. From the sound of this preview, the DIVINE EVE album for 2012 will be a crushing odyssey of doom/death metal.
We are pleased to announce that the Dead Can Dance World Tour will visit 15 North American cities in August and September 2012.
You can see a complete list of all the dates announced below, and, as with Europe, we will have full ticket links on www.deadcandance.com when they become available.
Information on the current Onsale dates is available from the site.
Look out for special Presale details which will be sent directly to you TOMORROW via this mailing list !
9th – Orpheum, Vancouver, BC, CANADA
10th – Marymoor Amphitheater, Seattle, WA, USA
12th – Greek Theater, Oakland, CA, USA
14th – Gibson Amphitheater, Los Angeles, CA, USA
17th – Red Butte Garden, Salt Lake City, UT, USA
19th – Temple Hoyle Buell Theater, Denver, CO, USA
21st – Pritzker Pavillion at Millenium Park, Chicago, IL, USA
23rd – Sony Center for the Performing Arts, Toronto, ON, CANADA
24th – Bell Centre, Montreal, QC, CANADA
26th – Verizon Hall – Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia, PA, USA
27th – Filene Center, Wolftrap, Vienna, VA, USA
29th – Beacon Theater, New York, NY, USA
30th – Beacon Theater, New York, NY, USA
4th – Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN, USA
5th – Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, Atlanta, GA, USA
7th – Austin City Limits TV – Moody Theater, Austin, TX, USA
Dates for the South American and Asian legs of the tour will be announced shortly. As always, you will be the first to know
Nuclear Assault’s early material will be released May 25, 2012 on HR Records (DE) on both LP and CD formats. The description claims a 16 page booklet and 10 bonus tracks.
This another band from the Lord Wind-created category of medieval ambient soundtrack neofolk-ish stuff. Their first album, Eroica, sold out quickly. It is similar to Lord Wind but a bit lighter and brighter and more inclined to show instrumental prowess. The new album, The Chosen One, hits our shores this year.
There’s something everyone should be aware of concerning Nokturnal Mortum’s NeChrist.
I’ve owned that album since I was like 17 or so, and I’m very familiar with it. Recently, I didn’t feel like digging it out, so I said, fuck it, I’ll just download it and play it on my computer. Something was missing. Yes, something was definitely missing. An entire song. So I downloaded a different rar, then a different zip… ALL OF THEM WERE MISSING THE SONG.
What song am I talking about? The song where they blatantly stated their political motivations in the song title. OK, but the track is listed here… NO incorrect track listing.
Why was this done? Whoever uploaded the fucking files wanted you to NOT have that song but THINK you did- they went as far as to rename the 88 tracks of nature sounds as an actual song. – Black Metal Jihadist
Cianide A Descent Into Hell (with bonus tracks)
Rising from the depths of “The Windy City”; Chicago’s finest death/doom threesome Cianide delivered its first death blow to the underground in 1992. After some initial praise from 1992’s “Dying Truth,” Cianide assaulted eardrums with what many consider their finest hour, “A Descent Into Hell.”
Pure, unadulterated death metal and almost 20 years after its initial issue; 1994’s “A Descent Into Hell” is finally available on CD once again. Almost 80 minutes (includes 1993’s “Kills” demo and two unreleased tracks) of true death metal that Cianide has been delivering for almost a quarter of a century.
“Cianide plays TRUE death metal exclusively!”
Some people exist as unsung pillars of the underground, and Ray Miller of death metal band Adversary is one of them. First, he started up a zine called Metal Curse that is widely regarded as one of the few quality death metal magazines extant today; next, he began selling death and black metal through his label Cursed Productions, which has also released quality demo compilations from bands such as Varathron and Deceased. Finally, he’s in a death metal band called Adversary which could be described as a more late-night-radio American version of Asphyx. We caught up with him at his country villa in Chingadosmujeres, Mexico, as the first shots of a revolution rang out in the street.
When did ADVERSARY begin?
Just a little over five years ago, in May of 1994. Jack Botos (guitar) and I are two of the original founding members. Our drummer, Bob Burns, is fairly new – he’s been damned with us for about a year-and-a-half.
What’s the distribution of the creative work in songwriting, lyrics, artwork, and concept/pot smoking?
Anyway, in the beginning we had another guitarist, Thom Benford, and he wrote a couple riffs back then. But since he quit (before our first demo was released), Jack and I have written all the music and lyrics. However, when Ed was still in the band (on keyboards and drum programming – before we had a human drummer, of course), he created all the drum and keyboard arrangements. How that would work is that Jack or I would present some riffs, or sometimes a “complete” song (the riffs in the “right” order – we sort of tweaked stuff a lot as we worked on it, so a “finished” song would probably still mutate somewhat), and Ed would listen to us play it a few times and get some ideas.
Then we’d record the riffs on my 4-track, and Ed would work out the programming at home, and at the next practice maybe have something we could play along with. Now that Bob is in the band, we just show him a riff, and he starts playing behind it. Right before Ed quit (he got married…), he had written a few really great riffs for a new song, but we decided to not use them after he left. Not that we parted on bad terms, or anything of the sort.
As far as the artwork goes for the band, it’s been different on every release. On our new demo-CD, We Must Be In Hell, Bob brought over few books of photos and paintings, and we basically swiped one. I altered the colors and so on, and did the actual layout myself. I’ve done CD packaging designs for a few underground labels, in addition to my own releases on Cursed Productions.
I also publish a zine called Metal Curse, and Bob has done 99% of the art for that for the last several issues.
Concept… Well, I suppose our general sound was more or less my idea, being inspired by “simple” Death Metal such as MASSACRE, ASPHYX, (early) GRAVE, UNLEASHED, IMPETIGO, (early) DEATH, AUTOPSY, and onward into countless others. Of course Jack has done his fair share (or more) to shape our sound since. And now, with Bob, we have the added power of human drumming, but we have also lost our keyboards.
So, I suppose our sound is almost constantly evolving, but still hopefully memorable Death Metal. If that’s what you mean by “concept” at all…
As for pot smoking, I leave that to Jack. I don’t smoke, or even drink unless it’s a “special occasion.” So, Jack gets my share. Bob has been known to partake every now and then, too.
The surest way to corrupt a youth is to teach him to hold in higher regard those who think alike than those who think differently.
– F.W. Nietzsche
Are you guys touring?
I wish! That’s exactly what we would love to do, but Cursed Productions is too small to support it. That’s one of the reasons we would like to get signed to a larger label: So we can go out and see the world. And the sluts, of course. We do have some shows lined up during the summer, and there is a really slim possibility of us going to Brazil to play some shows with some bands (NERVOCHAOS and INSANITY) on Muvuca Records.
What kind of instruments do you play, and why?
I have a Washburn bass, and a Fender Bassman amp. I like my Washburn because it does not have all that “active electronics” bullshit. It’s old, but I’m attached to it. And speaking of old, my Bassman is nice and fuzzy, and I really like that sound. I think it adds a lot more depth to our live sound than a clean bass tone would. However, when we recorded our debut album, _The Winter’s Harvest_, I was talked into plugging directly into the board, and got a really clear “Steve Harris” kind of sound. That works pretty well for IRON MAIDEN, but I think it made the album sound more “clean” than it should have. Well, and the keyboards and drum machine also added to the “clean” sound… Believe me, I learned my lesson about that, and will stick with my “warm” Bassman sound form now on.
Jack has had a couple different guitars over the years, and he just got a new one. I think he may finally be satisfied with the guitar, but now he’s looking for a bigger, meaner amp.
And my drum knowledge is pathetic, so all I know about Bob’s kit, is that it’s like nuclear explosions going off whenever he hits the snare.
Do you feel it matters, or matters only for aesthetic (“sound” quality, texture, timbre, “feel”) qualities?
What else would it matter? Just to be like B.B. King and his beloved guitar? No, I’m not that attached to any equipment I own, so if I could afford to get a bass and amp that I thought sounded better, I would. But “sounding better” is obviously extremely subjective, and after many years of using this same gear (I’ve had it and been in bands for a lot longer than ADVERSARY has been around), I guess I’m so used to it, that I’m not sure what would sound better. So, maybe I *am* a little like B.B. after all.
The Christian resolution to make the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.
– F.W. Nietzsche
What are you guys like outside of the band? Do you suffer under the Judeo-Christian pestilence known as “day jobs”? Tattoos? Historical heroes?
Bob and Jack do have “day jobs,” but my full time job is running my label, Cursed Productions. It may seem odd, but none of us have any tattoos. I think we may be the only ink-free Death Metal band in the world! I’m not sure I really have any heroes other than the guys in MOTORHEAD. And, as my pal Psycho would say, “the guy who invented lesbian pornography.”
Is the ADVERSARY eponym an identification with Satan, the “adversary” of ancient Hebrew religion?
YES! Thank you. You are exactly the second person to ever ask me that. I had thought it was odd that no one had snatched up the name before us, but I guess not many people understand what it means.
What do you see as the difference between Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Buddhist views of “evil”/”suffering”?
I’m not really well enough versed in Islam and Buddhism to answer that. So, what I’ll do instead is say that mainstream (x-tian at least) religions seem to think that a lot of natural behavior should be considered “evil,” and that seems crazy to me. Fucking, well that’s evil. Killing, no matter what the situation, that’s evil too.
What forms of art, ideas, or actions inspired the inception of your artwork?
Early Death Metal, of course. But also other music, such as MOTORHEAD, VENOM, SLAYER (I believe that you consider them to be a Death Metal band, but that’s open to debate, if you ask me), ACCEPT, DEAD KENNEDYS… Non mainstream music in general. And I suppose that honestly, everything I’ve ever heard has inspired me in some way. Maybe not always in a positive way, though. I also read whenever I can, and have certainly been inspired by the authors I like, such as Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, Vladimir Nabokov, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, William S. Burroughs, Douglas Adams, to name just a very, very few. Plus, as geeky as it might sound, Godzilla movies. I’ve always been a huge fan (excepting the dismal TriStar attempt of last summer) of Godzilla and his monstrous pals. And, horror movies. Zombies, especially, seem to grab my interest. I appreciate the special effects, and I suppose like the thrill.
Do you consider your music a form of “art” (the academic definition, not the trendy one)?
What motive inspires your art?
To create something that will outlast us.To, in sort of a Shakespearean sense, live forever. The hope that someday we might be a source of inspiration for others to creatively express what they feel.And to one day take over for MOTORHEAD as the best, most respected, band in the world.
Or maybe just to meet chicks and take over the world.
Do you think drugs help/hinder art?
I can’t really answer that, since I don’t use any drugs. But I do think that drugs can be used as a tool to possibly help with creativity. However, they can also be detrimental. As I said, I think they’re a tool, and should be used as such, if at all.
Does religion help/etc?
Well, it sure seems like a lot of Extreme Metal bands these days rely on religious (or more accurately, anti-religious) themes in their lyrics, so I guess it helps them in that way. I think that organized religion is a great way to oppress and control the masses, so it “helps” us by giving us a focus on one of society’s problems: it’s easier to be a sheep than to accept responsibility for your own actions, think for yourself, and be your own person.
Of course, x-tian religions love to censor everything they can, from books to thoughts, so in that way, that kind of religion clearly hinders the creative process.
“They train them to drop fire on men… But they won’t let them write the word FUCK on their aeroplanes… Becuase it’s obscene!”
-Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now!
I don’t know if violence has any affect on art, but I suppose that as a society becomes more and more violent, the art it as a whole produces will reflect that.
Most of what’s on broadcast television is extremely dumbed down, so that even the most idiotic Joe Sixpack will understand it, so generally I see TV as sort of a filter that removes most of what is interesting about life. Even worse when a movie is butchered so that it can be “safely” shown without “offending” anyone.
In your personal lives, how do you understand and respond to the presence of corporate control and material need?
Of course you do need to pay the bills, and obviously I like music and books, so I do my best to bring in cash, and spend it just as well. It would be nice to not have to worry about huge companies like Blockbuster having more than a little control in determining the content of the movies they carry, or Meijer driving all the mom and pop grocery stores out of business, but when faced with the decision of having enough to eat if I get the shit at Meijer, or going hungry from trying to support a local store, I must choose to eat.
What do you think of “jobs”?
I don’t like them. I am lucky enough to be able to make a very modest living at doing something that I enjoy (Cursed Productions, Metal Curse, and ADVERSARY), but I do put in a lot more time at this than Jack and Bob do combined at their jobs. Sometimes, just for a second, I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to go work for someone else. Certainly it would be easier, and considerably less work. I could have more “free time” to read and relax. But at what cost? So I could go be a nameless cog in some huge machine that cares not at all about me, as I am utterly replacable? So I could “finally grow up and get a real job”? I don’t think so. To quote Jello Biafra, “I’d rather stay a child and keep my self respect, if being an adult means being like you.” But, then again, if one day Cursed Productions fails to provide me with enough to get by, I will be forced to take other actions. That’s not part of the Global Domination plan, though.
Do you blaspheme on a regular basis for dentological, aka done for the intensity of the action itself, reasons?
Maybe. It seems more appropriate to blaspheme for the reaction it generates in others, whether positive or negative, as both responces are extremely important at various times and in various situations. But just screaming “Fuck god!” in an empty room doens’t do much for me.
Are you moral? Do you believe in morality?
I suppose so, but I certainly have my own morality. What I think is “right and wrong” might not match up with what some people think. I’m fairly close to what LaVey says in the _Satanic Bible_ as far as morality is concerned.
Do you think ethics are separate from morals?
I hadn’t considered it before. Perhaps morals could be seen as a personal code of conduct, while ethics might be viewed as more of a code of conduct for groups or whole societies. Perhaps to remain with the given society, one would have to conform to the ethical “guidelines,” while still retaining his own personal morality that might only come into play in other societies or groups.
What is the most important factor for you in creating music that satisfies you at the deepest level?
Knowing that what we have created is honest and true to us.
If you met Jesus, what would you say?
“Until I see you turn this water into wine, you’re just a punk in sandals.”
Or, maybe upon seeing a “miracle” I couldn’t debunk, “Oh shit!”
If I were back in time, I might say, “Stay out of Russia.” But no matter when I saw him, I’d want to talk about eugenics. What else could you talk to Hitler about?
Now that depends on what you mean by “God.” But, playing along for a moment, I’d ask why we exist, and what the purpose of the universe is.
I’d tell him that passive resistance cannot always work.
Without music life would be a mistake.
How would you react if your daughter got breast implants?
Interesting. I’ll try to take this one seriously. From the perspective of a father, I don’t think I’d like it, but I would certainly have to have more information as to why she was doing it. Is it just the fact that she’s small chested and wants to fuck the football team, who will only fuck the big boobed cheerleaders, or does she think that she’ll be better able to control the weak sheep-wills of men and have legions to do her bidding? If she wants to get a boob job so that she can dominate the universe, then okay.
Do you feel society is evolved from the hominid state, aka “ape” social existence with inherent power games?
Evidently not. As George Carlin would say, “It’s the bigger dick policy at work. If they have bigger dicks, bomb them.”
Why do you feel that many experience a dark sense of foreboding regarding the millenium and significant times afterward, such as 2012?
Fear of the unknown, for one thing. And I don’t have to mention that most people are sheep, and that the media has been forcing “millennium fear” on everyone, so it’s only natural that the herd is worried about it. What’s significant about 2012?
2012 is the date the Mayan calendar “ends” an era, with the implication that what comes will be either total destruction or a new frontier. I however think it is the date when the genome of marijuana truly matures, and thus all earth will be unified in clouds of sweet smoke.
More like the number of bong hits you’ve taken during this interview!
Is ADVERSARY is exploring a new type of metal, and an old type of metal, like any other group of self-respecting artists in this age?
Yeah, it’s sort of like my taste in literature: mythological and postmodern.
A giant HAILS and BLACK VOMIT OF ETERNITY to the mighty ADVERSARY for this lengthy interview.Thank you for your time.
You’re welcome of course. I should really thank you for the interest in ADVERSARY.
…The one-eyed man will have one eye the stronger; the blind man will see deeper inwardly, and certainly hear better. To this extent, the famous theory of the survival of the fittest does not seem to me to be the only viewpoint from which to explain the progress of strengthening of a man or of a race.
– F.W. Nietzsche
It’s hard to introduce a band who were part of the introduction of the genres upon which this site is based. Along with Discharge, Amebix were the punk half of the formula, influenced by Black Sabbath and Motorhead, a potent brew of inspirations which when mixed with NWOBHM made for the elementals of death metal and black metal. Coming to us from the UK, Amebix were also one of those rare inspirations that believed in the idea before the incarnation, and wanted to give meaning to life where others were satisfied with callow rebellion. Taking time out from practice for the new tour, the Baron gave us a few moments aboard a chartered Italian diesel submarine to keep us in the loop on art, music, life and Amebix.
The AMEBIX “sound” has appeared as an ingredient in diverse metal and punk genres, and you’re a foundational influence on all crustcore. How did you hit upon this sound? Are there any parallels in visual art, books and movies?
For myself and Stig our approach has always been very instinctual, not having any musical knowledge or training we had to find our way blindly, mainly through the “feel” of a song, and the way we would try and build it up; it is not clever, but it has a simple and honest power. I am not able to tell if there are parallels in other Art, but our particular Silhouette style artwork was also in the same vein, getting a powerful idea across very simply, leaving the viewer to use their imaginative capacity.
It has been said that, initially, AMEBIX did not use chords to create songs. How did you learn to play music, and did you take advantage of any established theory?
I think the answer above is applicable here too, I learned how to play guitar chords when I moved to Skye, but in a very real sense I found that understanding music in any way actually took away a huge part of the “magic” for me.
From the metal side of things, you cite BLACK SABBATH and MOTORHEAD. What about these bands appealed to you, and what elements of their style did you carry on into AMEBIX?
Well, Motorhead was about energy; Sabbath was for me a very deep band, although subsequent discoveries really place the lyrical side with Geezer, it was a dark band that we could really bring our imagination into sympathy with, like Killing Joke. Music for me is about seeing an internal landscape, and I really tried to make that come alive with Amebix.
In an interview with Romania’s Metalfan, you say “I can’t get into the completely predictable sound of so many bands now, why dont people take a risk and do something unusual?” — do you believe the sound itself is what they must innovate, or is there something that comes before the sound — a realization of what they want to make in music, or an idea they want to communicate — that causes them to pick the sound they want?
I think that actually it is the same as when we started: 99% of people who want to make a band base themselves on someone else; there are so very few that are manifesting anything unique only to themselves. People do not take risks. We grew up with Bowie, T rex, Slade and eventually punk, and believed that it was our job not to be like everyone else, back when punk bands were so diverse and original, pre-Crass/Discharge, etc.
I am also a boring old twat too, which doesn’t give my opinion any credibility.
How did musical illiteracy help or hinder you in creating the music of AMEBIX?
It freed us entirely of understanding and allowed us to manifest our true sound.
The transition from signs which dissimulate something to signs which dissimulate that there is nothing, marks the decisive turning point. The first implies a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates an age of simulacra and simulation, in which there is no longer any God to recognize his own, nor any last judgement to separate truth from false, the real from its artificial resurrection, since everything is already dead and risen in advance…Henceforth, it is the map that precedes the territory – precession of simulacra – it is the map that engenders the territory and if we were to revive the fable today, it would be the territory whose shreds are slowly rotting across the map. – Jean Baudrillard, Live Theory
In the AMEBIX biography, you describe living in squats, moving from “one ruin to another, no sanitation, little electricity, and skip raids for food.” Many people seem to romanticize this lifestyle, but it cannot have been easy. How did it shape the AMEBIX sound?
It is difficult to be objective about this, but there is a cold harshness to some of the music that we put out at this time, it is also unrefined and spontaneous. Not having solid practice places or such we would write a song and that was that. If we could remember it then we would take it into the studio, but we had absolutely no discipline regarding recording, so a lot of the songs are poorly recorded and very primitive in comparison to today’s sound.
Jim Morrison (THE DOORS) sang and wrote repeatedly of a “frontier,” or a no man’s land where chaos and conflict ruled, but also open spaces were present. Was he speaking existentially, politically, or both, and how does this apply to music that loves nature (red in tooth and claw), destruction, emptiness and melancholy loneliness?
Morrison was referred to as either an idiot or a shaman, for me personally I don’t have an interest in The Doors, although Stig does. I don’t know whether this is a poetic sentiment he expresses or a psychological state.
What distinguishes great music from bad? Can it be distilled into technique, or is it something less easily defined?
Great music will cause a reaction good or bad, in the listener. Bad music will play in the background of the elevators of existence.
In the Metalfan interview, you say “Punk was about individuality and creativity, it became a cult of Conformity” — it seems many genres and artistic movements go this way — why do you think this is?
There is a general tendency for people to organise and define themselves into genres and groups, it is an instinctual and general behaviour pattern that stems from insecurity; it is the same root as nationalism, bigotry and religious division. Punk swallowed itself, stupid little people.
After 17 years, why re-unite AMEBIX? You had said you were tired of playing every variation of A and E chords you knew, and expressed frustration with current music. Are you coming back to change things?
We have an opportunity to redeem ourselves at this point in time, to play as a tight unit using good equipment and with an audience that has actually come to see Amebix. It is of course also partly vanity, but in all honesty this would not have come about if we didn’t meet the mark. There is a ferocity about some of the songs that still remains, and we are really looking forward to playing our “fantasy” gigs, having the backing now that we could only dream of back then. Me and Stig could hear how Amebix should sound back then, but we never had the opportunity to realise it.
One thing that distinguished AMEBIX was that your lyrics were less obviously “political,” or endorsing changes in society, and more focused on values and symbolism, almost like Jungian archetypes. What influenced this, and what did it enable you to express that other methods would not? What do you hope to communicate to the audience this way, and is designed to get past some of their expectations?
My lyrical approach was to create access to internal Landscapes, Archetypes and symbols. This was before I had studied the matter more thoroughly, but I wanted people to bring their own imagination into the Music, and in a sense fill in the spaces, and own that song as their own interpretation of an idea. Ambiguous statements leave room for imaginative interpretation.
In the article about your sword-forging activities, this quote sticks in my mind: “I see the metal as a living thing. It becomes alive when you introduce the elements of fire, coal (earth), air to feed the fire, and water or liquid for the quench.” This reminds me of the movement to sacralize earth and view it as a living thing (Gaia). Do you feel that all of life is alive, or any compatibility with this view that reality itself is sacred? Did you feel this way when making music?
The Forging is an extension of what I was doing then, still trying to be in touch with the elemental forces, although it is 99% a Job now, but I can still get into the right space when I need to.
Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die. One might invent such a fable, and yet he still would not have adequately illustrated how miserable, how shadowy and transient, how aimless and arbitrary the human intellect looks within nature. There were eternities during which it did not exist. – Friedrich Nietzsche, On Truth and Lies in a Non-Moral Sense
The allusion to living steel is a physical reality, as fire heats up the metal it opens up and begins to move more rapidly as it changes states, when the hammer or Will is applied this will imprint itself into the lattice. The steel will have gone through an actual physical change in accordance with the will of the Smith.
It’s interesting how many punk and metal bands come through modern ideas to discover the ideals traditional societies from a millenium ago, which were: reverence for nature, belief in a transcendental but not dualistic life, independence from humanist morality, desire to create the beautiful and eternal, searching for truth with the self as the lens but not the focus. Do you feel any of these in your own creation?
Yes, I absolutely agree with you, transcendence of duality is the goal, to realise that all is from the same.
The AMEBIX biography says that you have completed enough material for “seven full-length albums.” I have Arise!, Monolith and No Sanctuary (which seems to be a re-released Beginning of the End, whose legality I am unsure of). What am I missing?
Nothing missing, I don’t see where seven full length albums comes from.
Also from the article on sword creation: “What contemporary thinking fails to understand about the alchemists’ attempts to transmute base metal to gold is that they were undergoing a process of personal refinement. Transmutation was an ultimate goal that stimulated the imagination. It was a metaphor for the essential creative process. My sole aim is to take the alchemists’ metaphor and give it substance. To give it a more rational setting.” Are you forging your own soul as you make swords? What role does discipline play in life, and in creation? I ask that because it seems to me that it takes discipline to learn to forge swords, and discipline to make a good one.
Yes, Forging was an extension of other disciplines when I started. It is a fine metaphor that can be used by anyone who is seeking some personal truth.
If sound is like paint, and we use different techniques and portray different things in our paintings, what does it say when a genre sounds similar and has similar topic matter and imagery? Can the genre be said to have a philosophy or culture of its own?
Maybe. I would not like to be stuck in a particular genre. It is important to me to keep moving, and not try and fit in. The person who leaves the tribe will have the adventure and come back with the Story that will change the Tribe, if they can listen.
When we feel ourselves to be sole heirs of the universe, when “the sea flows in our veins … and the stars are our jewels,” when all things are perceived as infinite and holy, what motive can we have for covetousness or self-assertion, for the pursuit of power or the drearier forms of pleasure? Contemplatives are not likely to become gamblers, or procurers, or drunkards; they do not as a rule preach intolerance, or make war; do not find it necessary to rob, swindle or grind the faces of the poor. And to these enormous negative virtues we may add another which, though hard to define, is both positive and important. The arhat and the quietist may not practice contemplation in its fullness; but if they practice it at all, they may bring back enlightening reports of another, a transcendent country of the mind; and if they practice it in the height, they will become conduits through which some beneficent influence can how out of that other country into a world of darkened selves, chronically dying for lack of it. – Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception
Do you believe objective reality exists?
I don’t believe that we have the sensory ability to discern things on a higher level, that intimation can come through Symbolism and Visionary experience, but I cannot answer that with any authority at all.
Any plans to write a book about the AMEBIX experience, and what the punk/metal movement meant at the time? The “Risen” DVD sounds like it has some inclinations in this direction?
I started to write a book some years ago; this has been shelved for now, but I may take it up again when I am in my dotage.
The world needed punk when it happened, but not much has changed, yet the music seems less relevant. Is there a way to make it relevant again? Dare I ask… Is that what motivated you to break your silence and return?
I think the Spirit of Punk got lost a long time ago, but it can be found popping up in other Cultural milieu. A lot of the scene was just a parody of an idea, although some people lived it. I like to think that you can keep that spirit alive in the way you live your life, not who or what you identify with, keep an open mind, allow new ideas to come in.
Just as only one out of 100,000 has the talent to be an engineer or an acrobat, only a few are capable of managing the matters of a nation or humankind…In this time and this part of the world we are headlessly hanging on to democracy and the parliamentary system, even though these are the most mindless and desperate experiments of humankind…In democratic coutries destruction of nature and sum of ecological disasters has accumulated most. – Pentti Linkola, Can Nature Win?