An At the Gates career retrospective

at-the-gates-band-photo

Since the days of being a small child I have been fascinated by how things fall apart. At an early age I could recognize decay, but knew it was separate from the tendency of human efforts to disintegrate once they grew past their initial effort.

A simple example was our veterinarian. He started out with a group of other animal doctors. Then people realized this one guy does great work. He struck out for himself. Soon he had too much work to do. He expanded, hiring more people and getting a new building. Soon he was no longer doing great work and he was more expensive. It took people a decade to find out. Most of them were still telling each other the accepted truth that he was doing great work.

At the Gates have announced their reformation as part of the 2013-inspired wave that saw Gorguts and Carcass return. Unlike the 2009-wave of returning bands, like Asphyx and Beherit, this retro-underground-revival has featured classic bands “modernizing” their sound. It also generally exhibits bands who had already cast aside their metal roots for musical reasons. Where the previous wave was more a sense of bands returning to pick up where they left off, the new wave seems to be about bands participating in the new metal scene and trying to siphon off some of that interest, newsworthiness and cash flow.

At the Gates started from the ashes of Grotesque back in 1990. They quickly released an EP, Gardens of Grief, followed by an LP, The Red in the Sky is Ours. These two works constitute the important artistic output from At the Gates because they were so radical in death metal. First, they incorporated melody as a structural device, where previously it had been used as a technique and worn to death. Next, they showed song development that surpassed what most bands were doing. Finally, their use of single-note picked riffs and spacious drumming produced a greater range of dynamics for death metal. Between At the Gates and other Swedish death metal acts that used melody such as Therion and Carnage, the roots of black metal were laid.

After that, things got confused. With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness followed in 1993 but lacked the clarity of the early work, showing a band in conflict over whether it wanted to follow its initial style, or get more power chords and catchy choruses in there. This led to the departure of original member Alf Svensson and regrouping with guitarist Martin Larsson, formerly of House of Usher. At this point, the band reformulated their sound to be more like regular death metal and yet also more like accepted rock music, including displaying the technical chops expected in that field. Now, like countrymen Dissection, At the Gates sounded like a death metal wrapper around a regular rock band, and a good one at that. Interest soared. The band released Slaughter of the Soul to grand acclaim despite the album having more in common with the speed metal of the mid-1980s than the death metal of the 1990s.

After their most popular album ever, the band fragmented when the Björler brothers moved on to form The Haunted. Most metalheads recognize that moment as the ground zero for melodic metalcore, which combined the 1980s speed metal approach to songwriting with the late hardcore tendency to value random riffs stacked together in carnival sideshow music style. However, for a new neurotic generation, this distraction-oriented music was a perfect soundtrack, and The Haunted became a success in its own right. At the Gates put out a few retrospectives and occasionally re-united but basically was dead.

In 2014, it’s hard to imagine the band not making Slaughter of the Soul II. It was their greatest success and introduced themes of self-pity, such as suicide, which are always popular with the youth of narcissistic parents who essentially feel doomed from puberty onward despite living in relative luxury. Slaughter of the Soul was a clear precursor to The Haunted which took the frenetic randomness of bands like Discordance Axis and Human Remains and made it into a new style that, by using the sweet sounds of Iron Maiden-styled harmony, found mass appeal.

At the Gates made the following statement:

We know you are all curious about the new material, and to make a simple explanation of where we are at musically, we would describe it as a perfect mix between early AT THE GATES & ‘Slaughter of the Soul’-era AT THE GATES, trying to maintain the legacy and the history

This leaves us wondering what they consider “early” At the Gates since presumably that’s everything before Slaughter of the Soul, and they did not specifically mention the first EP or LP by name.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFKuR3-G4K0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXbwnMCT79w

20 Comments

Tags: , ,

Death Metal

Death metal uses tremolo strummed power chords in phrasal riffs, creating an internal dialogue of melody to project a narrative which takes us from a starting point through internal conflict to an ending radically removed from the start. This often complex music relies heavily on chromatic scales and solos that resemble sonic sculpture more than a reliance on scales or harmony, and use “modal stripes” or repeated interval patterns (such as a half interval followed by a whole) to maintain a mood. Inherently structuralist, death metal can be recognized by its “post-human” perspective, seeing the world through biology, history, warfare and mythology instead of the “I/me/mine” viewpoint of a modern society.

House recommendations: Morbid Angel, Slayer, Monstrosity, Cryptopsy, Suffocation, Therion and Vader.

BEST EVER

1. Massacra – Final Holocaust
2. Deicide – Legion
3. Morbid Angel – Blessed Are the Sick
4. Therion – Beyond Sanctorum
5. Sepultura – Morbid Visions
6. Incantation – Onward to Golgotha
7. Morpheus Descends – Ritual of Infinity
8. Necrophobic – The Nocturnal Silence
9. Obituary – Cause of Death
10. Suffocation – Effigy of the Forgotten
11. Atheist – Unquestionable Presence
12. Dismember – Like an Ever-Flowing Stream
13. Amorphis – The Karelian Isthmus
14. At the Gates – The Red in the Sky is Ours
15. Demilich – Nespithe
16. Asphyx – The Rack

COMPILATIONS

Projections of a Stained Mind (C.B.R. Records)
Harmony Dies Vol. 1 (Slayer Magazine)
Pantalgia (MBR Records)
Live Death: Vol 1 (Restless)
Sampler Volume I (JL America)
Deterioration of the Senses (Morbid Metal)
Book I: Induction (Hits Underground)

Reviews have mp3 sound samples for each album, coverscan, tracklist and label contact information.

2 Comments

Tags:

Asphyx Reveal Incoming Death Album Artwork And Tracklisting

asphyx_-_incoming_death

Militant old school European death metal band Asphyx plans to release its new album, Incoming Death, on September 30, 2016 with the following tracklist:

Tracklist

  1. Candiru
  2. Division Brandenburg
  3. Wardroid
  4. The Feeder
  5. It Came From The Skies
  6. The Grand Denial
  7. Incoming Death
  8. Forerunners Of The Apocalypse
  9. Subterra Incognita
  10. Wildland Fire
  11. Death: The Only Immortal

Frontman Martin van Drunen released the following statement:

11 furious songs in the traditional death/doom style which we are known for so well…The album title already existed two or three years ago, being a phrase that doesn’t really exist but refers to what entrenched soldiers cry out when under severe artillery fire….

And here is a list of upcoming ASPHYX shows in 2016:

07.23.2016 Ostrý Grún (Slovakia) – Gothoom Open Air
09.03.2016 Essen (Germany) – Turock Open Air
09.10.2016 Hüttikon (Switzerland) – Meh Suff Fest
09.17.2016 Püchersreuth (Germany) – Storm Crusher Festival
10.07.2016 Arnhem (The Netherlands) – Willemeen / Album release show!
11.19.2016 Ostrava (Czech Republic) – Dolní oblast Vítkovice
11.26.2016 Bucharest (Romania) – November To Dismember Festival
03.03-04.2017 Umea (Sweden) – House Of Metal Festival

Lineup
Paul Baayens – Guitars
Alwin Zuur – Bass
Martin van Drunen – Vocals
Stefan “Husky” Hüskens – Drums

1 Comment

Tags: , ,

Smoking straight Perique with the Great Beast

aleister_crowley_-_the_great_beast

“Meeeeester Crowley, what goes on in your head?” came the wailing voice from the radio. Louder than that, I could hear the fluorescent lights above, and the beating of my heart. The texture of the paint on the walls seemed to break into a kaleidoscope of demonic faces. And I deserved all of it, because I had put myself here, smoking the tobacco of the Great Beast, Aleister Crowley himself.

The decision happened several weeks ago when I was reading about Crowley, a life-long pipe smoker, and his odd preferences for tobacco. Never a huge reader of Crowley — I’m more into Anton Long and Aldous Huxley for weird metaphysical science — I became interested when I read that we have no solid record of what he actually smoked, only a network of hints through his writing and rituals.

My first task then was to figure out what Mr. Crowley was indeed smoking. Lore holds it that he smoked “straight Perique soaked in rum,” but this leaves much open to interpretation. Perique originally referred to the tobacco that Pierre Chenet, having learned the method from the Choctaws, would press and ferment in barrels in what is today St. James Parish, Louisiana. This thousand-year method reduces acidity and sugars in the tobacco so that the body can absorb more of its indole alkaloids.

Unfortunately, after that time the use of the word became muddled. Some blenders coined the term “Perigue” for any Burley which had been pressed and aged, creating a fermentation effect. Sailors used to pinch some of the raw tobacco from their cargoes, soak it in rum and wind it tight in old sails to press it. And as Perique production dropped off in the 1950s, not only did some inferior substitutes arise, but many blenders phased it out of their blends, creating more confusion.

This left we step one to pipe smoking union with the Great Beast: figure out what he was actually smoking. Smoking the “real” Perique from St. James Parish seems unlikely because Perique is used in tobacco blends like a condiment in food. It has a strong peppery and fruity taste, and smoking it alone would be like drinking hot sauce or eating raw onions. Perhaps he smoked the Perique of the sailors, or “Perigue” of ingenious tobacco makers. But as with all things in his life, the clues are hidden and numerous, stretching across time and space…

First we turn to Crowley’s writings including The Diary of a Drug Fiend, in which Crowley mentions his tobacco preferences:

aleister_crowley_-_diary_of_a_drug_fiend_-_perique

This deepens the mystery, as Perique is mentioned nowhere else in the book. Crowley mentions ordering “rolls of black Perique” which he then cuts manually, bringing to mind the Perique of the sailors and not of St. James Parish. But even that cannot help us, because St. James Parish Perique could also be delivered in “rolls” or “ropes,” a popular method of curing, storing and transporting tobacco. Ropes remain popular to this day, and are prepared as Crowley describes: cut into thin slices, or “coins,” they are then pushed apart with friction or “rubbed out” to produce thin-cut leaf tobacco.

So that tells us nothing, basically.

Perique remains popular today, by the way. Smokers favor it for its deep flavor and strong Nicotine content, as well as the way it can complement other flavors like Virginias (sweet) and Burleys (nutty). But to smoke it straight is unheard of, although a few brave volunteers have tried it. For that reason, many smokers are skeptical that Crowley actually smoked it straight because it is an abrasive, disquieting experience that would not have been much fun — and Crowley was a known hedonist.

This returns us to the question of what Perique Crowley was smoking. If he was smoking rum-dipped and sheet-pressed tobacco, he would have been enjoying a much milder blend than the St. James Parish Perique. But if he was smoking the St. James Perique, it seems unlikely that he was enjoying the pipe at all. Then there is the complicated term “soaked in rum.” Did he mean actively wetting it with rum? Or did this merely refer to the rum used in the sailor’s recipe, and indicate that it was not St. James Perique at all?

Luckily, Crowley hid another clue for us in his satirical social commentary, Not the Life and Adventures of Sir Roger Bloxam, in which he refers to the tobacco he kept around his darkened lair:

Admiral Fitzroy, by no means the least of English poets, was wont to observe — at least he was always putting it on his barometers — “Long foretold, long last: Short notice, soon past.” So please settle down in that Oxford Basket Chair, draw the table close, for you’ll need that jar you bought at Bacon’s in your first teens because Calverle hypnotized you into doing so, fill the old Meerschaum (the nigger with the hat is the sweetest) with the pure Perique of St. James’ Parish Louisiana, throw some coals and a log or two on the fire, and put your legs on the mantlepiece; for if the laws of weather apply to literature, this ought to be a terribly long chapter.

You can smoke a pipe, and find the port, while you wait; for I’m in no mood to write it just now. Do you realize it’s half past three in the morning?

Not only does he tell us what his Perique was — the St. James Parish variety — but by using the word “pure,” he puts emphasis on the fact that this is the Perique he wants, and nothing else will do. In a strange twist of fate, the use of St. James Parish Perique may strengthen his narrative, because if it were shipped to England it would most likely be in ropes to keep them moist for the journey, especially since Perique is sensitive to light (like the Great Beast himself) and so is often stored in forms that hide most of the leaves from the light.

(The unfortunate verbiage in the above quotation describes his Meerschaum pipe. Meerschaum is a soft semi-gelatinous stone when wet, and clever people carve things into it, then let it firm up as it dries. He is undoubtedly referring to the subject of the carving and not an actual person.)

That left only one mystery: the “soaked in rum.” He could not have meant that he drenched the tobacco in rum and then lit it because it would not have burned owing to the high water content in rum, although he would have gotten a blue alcohol flame. That suggests that his use of the term “soaked,” much like it is used today, refers to a “top flavoring” or an alcohol-based flavoring sprayed over the top of the tobacco before a final drying. Tobacco is very sensitive to moisture and molds easily, making it toxic, so alcohol is used by the water in it must be allowed to evaporate. Rum is about 40-80% alcohol.

This means that Crowley bought his Perique, cut it into leaves of a size he could smoke, and then soaked it in rum but then dried it before smoking. At last I had my recipe for going insane with the best of them. As I made preparations, I wondered if I would end up in a strange photo, making horns on my head with my thumbs, my gaze straight ahead and fixed as if on some demonic world beyond.

Step 1 was to acquire some blender’s Perique, which I did from Rich Gottlieb over at 4noggins. It comes in two forms, granulated and long ribbon, but the long ribbon is stronger so I got that and sliced through it a few times to make it easier to smoke. Then I put down a plate and dumped the Perique on it, watering it loosely with rum (some Captain Morgan’s I found under the couch) until there was some standing liquid in the plate. That, I thought, should be an adequate definition of “soaked.”

Step 2 was drying. The plate went into the cupboard and was sealed away for several days, only exposed to the light for a daily turning. The rum gradually evaporated entirely, leaving dry and stiff leaves. Sitting in my kitchen, wishing to ancient gods that I had an EMT team present in case I had made this tobacco blend wrong, I loaded up an old faithful pipe — I have no other kind — and gravity-filled it with these strange leaves, then dumped in some more and tamped the top. Time for Step 3. I took a deep breath, lowered the flame, and drew in the thick and ethereal smoke.

Pipe-smoking is not like cigarette smoking. It is more like playing a trombone or transcendental meditation: all in the breathing. The smoker starts with a blaze that sends up a lot of smoke, which is why smokers take short puffs at first; pipe smoke is not inhaled like that of cigarettes, but kept in the mouth, so short puffs are need. Then, the smoker draws on the pipe like sipping air through a straw, about every ten seconds filling the mouth with smoke and exhaling a few moments later. This keeps a steady stream of flavorful smoke through a cool pipe, delivering measured doses of nicotine to the nervous system. After a few moments when the paint screamed at me in ancient Syriac incantations, and the stove looked like the face of an Aztec war god, I settled into a normal rhythm.

And…? you ask. How was the Great Beast’s tobacco?

Good. Very good, in fact, so much that I’ve done it several times since. The rum both sweetened the Perique and removed some of its peppery edge, leaving it with a flavor more like strong brandy. The drying also reduced the wetness of the Perique so that it burns better, and somehow gave it a smoky flavor like Latakia or Dark Fired. While the Nicotine level remained high, it was more on par with my regular tobacco, Royal Yacht, and not as extreme as many ropes or the utter skull-crusher that is the Cotton Boll Twist. And the flavor toned down the spice in the perique while making its fruit flavor less extreme, giving it the complex scent and flavor palate of a fine wine, or at least what I imagine wine above the $7 limit tastes like.

I kept smoking. Strange — I was enjoying this! The flavor had gone from plum or fig to something like a dark berry dried in the sun, or even grapes at the edge of becoming raisins, but with that extra kick of spice that made the tobacco taste more vivid than sweet. The smoke curled around my head and for a moment I thought it spelled out something in Kabbalic and Alchemical characters, but then it dissipated. I shook my head clear and kept on smoking. The Great Beast may not have taken my soul, but he knew how to make a tasty tobacco blend.

3 Comments

Tags: , , , ,

Exhumed to release Gore Metal: A Necrospective 1998-2015

exhumed-gore_metal_a_necrospective_1998-2015

Exhumed released its debut of Carcass-influenced bouncy death metal, Gore Metal in 1998 with a bounty of crepitant grindcore riffs and death metal surging power. Almost two decades later, Exhumed returned to the studio to re-record its first album as Gore Metal: A Necrospective 1998 – 2015, which will see release this February via Relapse Records.

Thanks to increased musical proficiency through years of recording and better technology, Exhumed promises a bigger-sounding and more intense version of the debut. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Harvey said, “I’m super pumped that we got the chance to re-record Gore Metal. I don’t think any of us were happy with how it turned out the first time around, so getting another shot at it meant a lot to me personally. I was also really excited to have our old friend Ross Sewage reprise his vocals on the new version, ensuring that it still sounds like that era of Exhumed, though things are a lot more audible this time around!”

As a precursor to the release Exhumed will tour North America after their current European tour alongside Aborted, Origin and Miasmal. With co-headliners Napalm Death and Voivod, Exhumed will launch their tour on January 27th in Miami and continue to a final show on February 28th in Houston. Additional support will be provided by Iron Reagan and Black Crown Initiate with Ringworm, Dayglo Abortions, Theories and Phobia to appear on select performances during the tour.

Gore Metal: A Necrospective 1998 – 2015 Track Listing:

1. Necromaniac
2. Open The Abscess
3. Postmortem Procedures
4. Limb From Limb
5. Enucleation
6. Casket Crusher
7. Death Mask
8. In My Human Slaughter House
9. Sepulchral Slaughter
10. Vagitarian II
11. Blazing Corpse
12. Deadest Of The Dead

Exhumed 2015 North American tour

EXHUMED w/ Aborted, Origin, Miasmal:
12/15/2014 Grillen – Colmar, FR
12/16/2014 Steinbruch Theater – Darmstadt, DE
12/17/2014 Jubez – Karlsruhe, DE
12/18/2014 Rock It – Aalen, DE
12/19/2014 Heavy Xmas – Zürich, CH
12/20/2014 Turock – Essen, DE

EXHUMED:
1/24/2015 The Rock – Tucson, AZ
1/25/2015 Red 7 – Austin, TX
w/ Napalm Death, Voivod, Iron Reagan, Black Crown Initiate:
1/27/2015 Grand Central – Miami, FL w/ Ringworm
1/28/2015 State Theater – St. Petersburg, FL w/ Ringworm
1/29/2015 The Masquerade – Atlanta, GA w/ Ringworm
1/30/2015 Ziggy’s – Winston-Salem, NC w/ Ringworm
1/31/2015 Soundstage – Baltimore, MD w/ Ringworm
2/02/2015 Gramercy Theater – New York, NY w/ Ringworm
2/03/2015 Union Transfer – Philadelphia, PA w/ Ringworm
2/04/2015 Opera House – Toronto, ON
2/05/2015 Maverick’s – Ottawa, ON
2/06/2015 Club Soda – Montreal, QC
2/07/2015 Palladium – Worcester, MA w/ Ringworm
2/08/2015 The Chance – Poughkeepsie, NY w/ Ringworm
2/09/2015 Agora Ballroom – Cleveland, OH w/ Ringworm
2/10/2015 Reggie’s – Chicago, IL w/ Ringworm
2/11/2015 Amsterdam – Minneapolis, MN w/ Ringworm
2/12/2015 The Zoo – Winnipeg, MB
2/13/2015 The Exchange – Regina, SK
2/14/2015 Republik – Calgary, AB
2/15/2015 Starlite Room – Edmonton, AB
2/17/2015 Rickshaw Theater – Vancouver, BC w/ Dayglo Abortions
2/18/2015 Studio Seven – Seattle, WA w/ Theories
2/19/2015 Hawthorne Theater – Portland, OR
2/20/2015 Metro – Oakland, CA w/ Phobia
2/21/2015 Strummers – Fresno, CA w/ Phobia
2/22/2015 House of Blues – Los Angeles, CA
2/23/2015 Club Red – Tempe, AZ w/ Phobia
2/24/2015 Sunshine Theater – Albuquerque, NM w/ Phobia
2/25/2015 Summit Music Hall – Denver, CO w/ Phobia
2/26/2015 Granada Theater – Lawrence, KS w/ Phobia
2/27/2015 Gas Monkey – Dallas, TX w/ Phobia
2/28/2015 Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX w/ Phobia

Lineup on Gore Metal: A Necrospective 1998 – 2015:

Rob “Bodybag” Babcock – bass, backing vocals
Mike Beams – guitar, backing vocals
Bud Burke – lead guitar, backing vocals
Mike Hamilton – drums
Matt Harvey – guitar, lead vocals
Ross Sewage – lead vocals
Backup vocal “Slay Team”: Alejandro Corredor, Dr. Philthy

“…a gleeful celebration of death metal…” – Decibel

“EXHUMED is Carcass reincarnated.” – Terrorizer

No Comments

Tags: , ,

Brutality in Art Series | Chapter 1

Kings and Demons: Francisco Goya [Scroll over each picture for information]

goya6

In this series I will be examining art and artists whose works have been used in metal band artwork or whose themes have been source for inspiration for metal musicians. The first artist is Francisco Goya of Spain, whose later works have been found on album covers for Anaal Nathrakh, Belsebub, Amon, Mortem, Torgeist and others.

I feel strongly that to truly appreciate art – visual or otherwise – that it is important to understand its context. Goya’s life and and the time period in which he lived made him one of the world’s most influential and important artists. It is said that he was the primary artist that ushered in the Romanticism era and it was his attention to detail, even in the most graphic of subject matter, that shocked his contemporaries.

Francisco Goya was born in the late 1700s in Spain, during a very tumultuous period of time artistically and politically. His talent for art was recognized at a young age and he traveled to Rome to learn his craft from the masters there. Upon returning to his hometown in Spain as a young man, he created quite a reputation for himself by drinking, whoring, and brawling. His reputation preceded him when he fled to Madrid after killing a man in a bar fight and being sought by the Inquisition for his crime.

The Duke and Duchess of Osuna and their Children. Francisco de Goya y Lucientes. 1787-1788. Oil on canvas.

Arriving in Madrid, Goya was greeted by a city full of newly-minted aristocrats being placated by lazy “masters” selling them poorly painted Baroque style cherubs and nature scenes to decorate their palaces. Goya’s more realistic and new Romanticist style was a breath of fresh air to the stagnant art scene of the time and he quickly earned himself a top position as the official painter for the Spanish Royal Family.

In 1792 Goya was afflicted with an unknown illness that left him completely deaf. There has been wide speculation that it was lead poisoning from his paints that caused his illness, but there has been no evidence to support this theory and it is genuinely not considered to be valid by historians. Following the recovery from his illness, Goya returned to work for the Spanish Royal Court, becoming named the director of the Royal Academy in 1795.

 

“The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters” 1799.

In the late 1790s in Spain and elsewhere in western Europe, political dissent and social unrest began to build. The French Revolution had reached its peak in 1789, and there the people revolted against the established monarchies and deposed of those in power. This dissent spread to Spain as well, and Goya, despite having been in the employ of the Monarchy, was well in tune with the plights of the common people.

In 1799 he released a series of 80 etchings known collectively as “Los Caprichos” (The Caprices), which is one of the first examples of Goya’s work turning darker. They were designed as social commentary against the rampant corruption, greed, and inequality he saw to draw attention to the struggles of the average Spaniard. These were published and then almost immediately withdrawn due to political pressure. The original printing plates and unsold prints were offered to the King to avoid the wrath of the Inquisition.

Goya’s political dissent began to creep into his “professional” works, as well. In 1800, he painted an official portrait of the Spanish royal family of King Charles IV.

goya3

It was well-known, but not publicly discussed, that the Queen was the true head of the household, and to nod to this, she is positioned in the center and larger than the rest of the family. Goya himself is in this portrait, off to the left in the shadows behind the canvas. The queen and her mother (pictured fourth from the left) are depicted as quite ugly, and the whole family has been described as looking like common people who just won the lottery: bewildered and uncomfortable.

In 1808, Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain and installed his brother, Joseph, as ruler. Goya, surprisingly, was not cast out with the rest of the royal family and their staff, and continued to paint under Joseph Bonaparte during his seven year rule, until Spanish nobility, under King Ferdinand VII, regained power. King Ferdinand famously quipped to Goya, “you deserve to be garroted, but you are a great artist so we forgive you” and let him keep his position as court painter. Goya was tortured by what he had seen during the fighting and the conditions that the Spanish people were subjected to during the Napoleonic invasion and subsequent retaking of Spain by King Ferdinand during the Peninsular War. Similar to his Los Caprichos series, he released another series of sketches called Los Desastres de la Guerra (The Disasters of War) to depict these horrors with his characteristic sarcasm and cryptic descriptions. Others in this series depicted his dissatisfaction with Ferdinand’s rule, despite the great personal risk in doing so.

goya4

With the political climate only getting worse and his health in decline, Goya went into self-imposed exile in Bordeaux, France, in 1824 at the age of 72. He took with him only one servant and became a near recluse in the house that was known as Quinta del Sordo, or the Deaf Man’s Villa. Here he would paint his most famous paintings on the walls of his own house. Without titles and likely never intended for anyone to see, the works that are now known as The Black Paintings (for their technique as well as their subject matter) were never even titled by Goya; their names have all been given by historians. Exploring the subjects of the wars and the inquisitions, many of the Black Paintings had anti-clerical themes and were inspired by the fears brought out during the Inquisition.

One of the most famous of the Black Paintings is The Witches Sabbath, which depicts a goat-headed man wearing priest robes being feared and adored by a group of grotesque witches. At center is a woman wearing what appears to be a white nun’s habit. Mouths in particular are quite prominent in Goya’s works during this time; gaping, drooling, oversized and ugly, they are the center of expression on many of the faces in his scenes. To the right in this painting we see a woman seated in a chair, wearing black, seemingly uninterested and defiant. This painting represents what Goya felt was the cult of superstition whipped up during the Inquisition, the dangerous descent into medieval thinking and the suppression of scientific thought. The “he-goat” represents evil and the fawning witches represent the clerics and nuns in a frenzy over it. The lone dissenting woman represents the last bastion of reason, helplessly overlooking the fray.

goya5

Saturn Devouring One Of His Sons is a play on the Greek myth of the titan Saturn (Kronos) who, upon hearing a prophesy that he would be destroyed by one of his children, killed and devoured them as soon as they were born. Here, the eternal Titan represents royalty, and he – fearing his “children” (the common people) will ultimately turn on him, destroys them at their most vulnerable. Again in this piece we see Goya’s use of grotesque facial expressions in the oversized, gaping mouth rending the headless child to pieces.

Goya remained in Bordeaux until his death in 1828. His final works remained in his house for 50 years, until they were carefully removed and transferred to canvas. Works of his are still being discovered to this day, and can be viewed in museums and private collections around the world.

4 Comments

Tags: ,

Bolt Thrower biography

Of interest:

BOLT THROWER were formed at a punk gig in a Coventry pub in 1986, following a conversation between friends guitarist Barry Thomson and bassist Gavin Ward. Inspired at that time by bands such as Sacrilege, Discharge, Candlemass & Slayer, they decided to form a band that was heavy, aggressive, but more importantly, original. They were soon joined by Alan West, a friend of Baz’s, who took the role of vocalist/lyricist . When it came to finding a drummer, Andy Whale was suggested by a mutual friend, and when he met up with the rest of the band to try out, he found he had similar music tastes, and joined immediately.

The four- piece went on to write a number of songs and eventually recorded two demos ‘In Battle…’ and ‘Concession of Pain’ – the latter was sent to the much-respected British radio DJ, John Peel. During this time Gavin Ward decided to switch to guitar and local bassist Alex Tweedy was the temporary replacement. When Alex left – one or two gigs later, they agreed to let Jo Bench try out. She proved she was the right person for the job, and in September 1987 the new 5-piece line-up was complete. A few gigs later and the call came saying John Peel liked the demo and wanted to offer the band a radio session.

Bolt Thrower recorded 4 songs for their first BBC Radio One “Peel Session” in January 1988. After the transmission was aired on national radio, Vinyl Solution contacted the band and offered them a recording contract, the band agreed to a one-album deal. Unfortunately, at this time, Alan West decided that the band was getting a bit too serious for him, and was replaced by Karl Willetts, who was the band’s backline driver and long-time friend of Andy’s. With this line-up they went on to record their first album ‘In Battle There Is No Law’ recorded at Loco Studios in Wales, which was unfortunately mixed without the band’s knowledge and released in the summer of 1988.

After constant gigging around the UK, Bolt Thrower were becoming more and more popular, and were soon contacted by Earache Records who were at that time, the biggest independent label for extreme music. The band signed a deal with Earache and also at the same time were approached by Games Workshop – a fantasy wargaming company – who’s boss had heard the Peel Session when it was aired, and was impressed enough to be interested in a collaboration with the band. So, incorporating both – ‘Realm of Chaos’ the second studio album was released on Earache Records in 1989, and featured cover and booklet artwork from the artists at Games Workshop. The band were gaining a much wider audience, but didn’t forget their roots, and were proud to be given the opportunity to record two more Peel Sessions (which were later released as an album). In 1989 the band took part in the legendary “GrindCrusher” tour around the UK, with Carcass, Napalm Death and Morbid Angel, this proved the band’s reputation as being one of the most powerful live acts around. On the back of the success of the UK tour, they made their first tour of Europe in 1990 with Autopsy and Pestilence – where they met Martin Van Drunen and their current tour manager Graham.

At the start of 1991 they were back in the studio. They recorded ‘Warmaster’ at Slaughterhouse Studios, Driffield with Colin Richardson producing, and thanks to the clever scheduling skills of Earache – it was released in the middle of their tour of Europe! Fortunately, the untimely release was unnoticed by the hundreds of fans who got to see the band for the first time – the band also went on to make their first visit to the US this year. The Bolt Thrower name was starting to spread worldwide…. Next came ‘The IVth Crusade’ – recorded at Sawmills Studios in Cornwall in 1992, it showed the band had continued to create their own unique style of music that was easily identifiable as BOLT THROWER. The band also decided to make the break from their usual fantasy artwork sleeve, and instead used a classical painting by Delacroix. The band promoted the album extensively with their ‘World Crusade’ tour, which took them again around Europe (with Benediction & Asphyx) and in 1993, to Australia.

The recording of ‘…For Victory’ in 1994, (at Sawmills, again), was immediately followed by the bands second tour of the U.S. This unfortunately saw the departure of drummer Andy Whale and vocalist Karl Willetts, who decided they didn’t want to continue in the band. The rest of the band decided to carry on, and the album was released later in the year, and Whale and Willetts were subsequently replaced with drummer Martin Kearns and Martin Van Drunen on vocals.

These were the vital years of this band who, like most grindcore, took influences from both metal and punk/hardcore/crust. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be …For Victory, but it’s hard to go wrong with their other formative works like War Master, Realms of Chaos, and The IVth Crusade.

No Comments

Metal Cult, or Metal Christ?

Way back in grade school, before you hit the age of sexual competition and thus get more rigorously socialized, one of the more exciting things to do is spend the night at a friend’s house. This means you get spoiled by well-meaning parents, can order pizza with all the toppings, and spend the night watching scary movies on the DVD player. At that time of life, it’s pretty cool, although once you’ve moved on to bigger things it seems like a parody of a really bad party. Who’s got the ranch dressing potato chips, indeed.

It’s conventional, among nice families, to keep this charade going until noon or later the following day, mainly because that’s about how long it takes the caffeinated soda pop and sugar foods to wear off, meaning that all parties are tuckered out and need to be taken home and shoved onto a sofa with homework “for your own good.” This is a kindness extended between families to each other, allowing your parents to actually have a night alone while you’re rampaging at some other kid’s house. Of course, if you spend Saturday night with a Christian family, or Friday night with a Jewish one, it means you’re going to some kind of exciting religious service in the morning.

Back in those less preference-enabled times, I’d go along to Church or Temple with my friends and wonder at the death denial of adults. There were great things about church – mainly the music, but I also liked the weird little tasteless wafers at communion – and Temple had its moments, mainly the times when they’d bring out the big old scroll of Hebrew writing and chant in languages I didn’t understand. In general, however, to young Spinoza Ray it seemed like adults getting together to agree on an excuse why we don’t actually die, and to answer at least two questions along these lines before saying something blithe like, “Fluffy is in heaven with God now, and can chase cars every day and is always happy.”

What I remember more than anything else was the expectation going into these religious services. There were the smells of adult clothing, perfumes, foods, alcohol and the flatulence and dyspeptic belches of the usual healthy specimens, mostly older, who cleave to churches like AIDS patients to retrovirals. But more than that, there was a subtle kind of excitement: it was an event, and there was an expectation, whether Jewish or Christian. You were going to a place of higher authority to receive wisdom, and it was to be a cathartic experience.

Recently, in my wandering through the smouldering ruins of the metal community, that being all people who create or appreciate the non-radio metal of our world, I was amused by how popular the term “cult” remains among those who are metal. We’re a pure metal cult! and Only metal is true! and I swear allegiance to metal! and other comedic statements of this sort are common, like a dinner opera about patriotism. These people are apparently oblivious to how disturbingly true their use of this term is.

A cult in my definition is any belief system that posits an Official Dogma and reinforces it, while sequestering all those who do not accept Official Dogma as outsiders. It’s a precursor to bureaucracy, and in the case of Christian cults, at least, it’s about like filling out a triplicate application. Do you believe in the father? (check) Son? (check) Holy Ghost? (check) Heaven and Hell mythos? (check) And are you willing at this time to sign an eternal contract to this effect?

In churches, people surge to the front of a large building while music plays and people in costumes perform ceremony to distract them (note for our alert readers: Judaism is much similar, but Christianity is a more familiar example for most North Americans, and since the two share most beliefs in common). There they take refuge in the comfortingly familiar nature of religion; you have been through this ceremony before, and you know what will happen, and at the end, your own expectation of receiving catharsis carries you through to that conclusion. Basically, it’s a lot like LSD: you find what you expected.

Rock concerts and metal concerts are very similar. You sanction the ceremony by paying money, thus you have reason to believe you are accepted unless you perform heresies, such as fistfights or too much covert marijuana smoking behind the fat guy standing up front. People in uniforms herd you into a place where people in costumes perfom onstage, playing music you have usually heard on CD. Even more, for those who are lost, every song no matter how convoluted at some point returns to the constant drumbeat, usually snare, which builds cadence and interrupts any thoughts you were having between beats, which are the loudest single element of the concert.

The metal cult, like the rock cult, is based in the idea of catharsis. You go to see some band you have heard before, and after having the music affirmed, you go away with some brilliant insight like “They really can play their instruments” or “That vocalist vomiting blood, fire, semen and feces was spectacular!” It’s not rocket science. If you’re a musician, you can feel ever-so-elite by watching the band members play and pulling from it some observation about how well the guitarist frets or drummer hits the middle of the goddamn snare twice every second. No one is left out; if you had $5 in your sweaty little hand when you went in the door, you were given the communion, allowed to join the cult, and ushered on out into the surprisingly cool and unsweaty night.

Baptised in beer, perhaps intoxicated yourself on a range of exciting substances, you even have a chance to double affirm your belief by buying tshirts and CDs, and can even talk to the band members, who periodically deliver such benedictions as, “This is another song about fucking the dead – I want to see you fuckers tear it up in the pit!” Conventional academics like Deena Weinstein periodically set aside the Chardonnay (all academics are drunks, drug addicts or perverts) and to observe what an indoctrination this ceremony is, and how it affirms membership in a group. She might as well say “…membership in a true life-hating metal cult!”

Surprisingly, black metal was a counterinsurgency opposed to this. Initially, bands like Burzum and Immortal eschewed live performance, since as they correctly observed, hordes of idiots would show up expecting everyone to accept them purely on the basis of having (a) found the venue (b) being aware of the band and (c) the benighted $5 in sweaty fist. Burzum’s composer was vehement about it, and to this day you can find credulous teens everywhere buying $20 live bootlegs of a band that never played live (but since it’s $20 and not $25, it’s a “good deal” – you get an extra $5 to go to another stimulating concert).

Much maligned, mocked and parodied, the “No mosh, no core, no fun, no trends” attitude of these early bands was a way of ending the religious service, an inclusive event, and turning instead to an esoteric event. The difference between exoteric religions like Christianity and esoteric religions like, say, Advaita Vedanta or Buddhism, is that in exoteric religions you have to show up and affirm Official Dogma, and then you get sent home with a stamp on your triplicate form, which esoteric religions are best summarized as “the truth reveals itself in varying degrees to those who seek it.”

Christianity and rock concerts are birds of a feather that give you a 100% guarantee that everything’s okay, and then convince you to turn off your mind so you can do something useful like enforce Official Doctrine on other people. They are the ultimate populist religions, and by that nature they must assert that everyone is equal because, lacking an entrance requirement, they’ve already made it fact. If you can make it to church, or find the rock club with your $5 (donations are always welcome at church, too), you’re one of the Chosen and can feel better than other people for your non-achievement.

One of the reasons I separated out Christianity from Judaism as an example, earlier, is that Judaism is controversial because it is simultaneously a religion, a culture, and an ethnicity. Whether Khazar or Ashkenazi, you’re a Jew if you have any of those three attributes (bonus points and free instant coffeemaker for all three). Among the black metal community, there are those who feel Judaism is the great downfall of Indo-Europeans, and they wish nothing of tolerance for it.

I’d like to take time here to praise some aspects of Judaism. Its emphasis on education, for example, is admirable, and far exceeds the Christian dogma that if one believes in God, it’s okay to fail at everything else in life because it doesn’t matter – what matters is the world after this one, which like a credit report, is absolute and binding and more important than whatever goes on here in our misery of animal existence. Its racism and cultural supremacy is beyond questioning, and has kept the Jewish people alive and functional through thousands of years of wandering through other peoples’ countries. In fact, until Christianity sedated Europe, Jews never had a homeland, and at this point are as European as they are Semitic/Mongoloid.

Christianity has selective praiseworthy aspects as well. As Arthur Schopenhauer pointed out, its only significant difference from Judaism is a classic Indo-European trait that can be found among the Aryan sages of ancient India, that being “quietus,” or an inner spiritual calm and contemplation to discover the blessings of this world. If you’re Arthur Schopenhauer, or Meister Eckhardt or Ralph Waldo Emerson, and thus possess not only a genius IQ but an introspective desire for truth and beauty, this will occur to you. The remaining 99.99% of Christians should simply admit they’re following non-ethnic Judaism, and cease feeling superior to Jews for having a martyr who gave his life because we’re dirty little animals who fornicate, murder, embugger and thieve from each other daily.

One reason I can’t ever be a neo-Nazi, besides my ethnic Scottish heritage which includes pre-Jewish Semitic Gaelic blood, is that they didn’t act on this crucial difference, in part because in Germany the Christians had already slaughtered anyone with a desire to resist Christ a thousand years before. In my mind, Jews are an invading culture and I have no problem drawing a sword against them, men women and children alike, to drive them back into the middle east, where they may have to actually stop feeling superior to their Abrahamic brethren and make peace with the Arabs. Not my problem. But, I feel the same way about Christianity: if you’re not Eckhardt, or Schopenhauer or Emerson, I recognize that it’s my duty to draw a sword against you, man or woman or child or dog or AI, and drive you out of Indo-European lands before you destroy what’s left of our culture.

However, I’ve come to realize that “No mosh, no core, no fun, no trends” is also part of this same militant desire which will come to any sane Indo-European who undertakes quietus long enough; rock music and metal are the same cult as Christianity and before it, sickly Judaism and its wheedling, whining culture of the lowest common denominator enshrined as benevolent love. For me, to love a culture is to defend it against its enemies, with emotional detachment and not the “hate” to which modern neo-Nazis masturbate in American History X-inspired fantasies. If you thought “the Holocaust” was bad, wait until you see what will come – and it is inevitable – when the current culture collapses and warlike people like me clear out bad Indo-European DNA, including Christ-worshippers and people whose sole contribution is to be “members of” some rock-music-based “cult.” Man, woman, child, and of course fat record producer scheming over cocaine and harlots in the back room, shall all face the sword – without hate, but without mercy, either.

With this revelation in mind, I have to ask modern metalheads who claim to hate stupidity and Christianity (and, of course, you cuddly stuffed NSBMer teddybears in your genuine NSBM tshirts and Nazi fetishist wear), why are you partaking in the same culture that you abhor? There are people among the rockers who are of noble countenance, and among Christians too, and I’d welcome these people into any future Indo-European society (Jews are ethnically excluded, along will all other non-Europeans; you have your own countries, go there and preach about your ideals and we’ll see how “superior” they indeed are). But for the most part, rock and roll is a failure at escaping Christianity. If anything, it’s a new form of Christianity that is even more accepting and less informative on the esoteric issues of spirituality, philosophy and comportment.

For this reason, both metalheads and neo-Nazis are ignored by their more studied peers. After all, who wants to get dragged into the same quagmire that has afflicted Indo-Europeans for the past millennia, albeit in a new form and with new products to buy? Advice to future rockers, metalheads, and the like: design your music and your career around something other than the glorified church service that is your modern metal “cult” concert.

1 Comment