Gates of Enoch, Averse Sefira, Belphegor, Immolation and Rotting Christ in Houston, Texas

Gates of Enoch, Averse Sefira, Belphegor, Immolation and Rotting Christ
March 2, 2008
The Meridian
1503 Chartres
Houston, Texas 77003

Long ago, before heavy metal was even a glimmer in the eyes of King Crimson and Black Sabbath, when the land of south central Texas had nothing on its pan-flat surface but swamp and hogs, a developer’s eye gleamed and soon a city was being sold to northern suburbanites as a green, natural, sunny and pleasant place. To this day developers continue to create it, sprawling across the humid plane like pancake batter, and so the city pulses through a serpentine mesh of freeways which converge at various points, some forgotten and some celebrated.

At one of these convergences, to the northeast of downtown, an innumerable series of obstacles prevented our reviewer from hearing the Gates of Enoch set and the first four bars of Averse Sefira. Having just released their fourth album (you probably have the MP3s already) Averse Sefira from Austin showed fine form on the end of this tour of established acts. In all fairness, every band on the tour showed massively professional performance ability, so what distinguished one from the next was showmanship and songwriting. In these crucial areas a separation occurred but proved itself to be so messy that few want to untangle its inextricable threads.

Averse Sefira

Averse Sefira took to the stage with the power of those who carve a place for themselves by both fighting the status quo and not fighting the reality of what will be eternally rewarded; they mix traditionalist black metal with the aggressive machine motion of death metal in its peak years, relegating the latter to rhythm with the former insurgent within it as leadership of each song. This enables them to preserve the mystique of underground metal which is the fusion of seemingly random bits into a whole order, an occult process in itself during a time of linear causal logic. Their rhythmic composition comes straight from the halcyon days of early Deicide and Incantation, but their melodies, fusing Graveland and Enslaved and something as uniquely American as Thomas Wolfe recalled a graveyard angel, surge straight from the heart of black metal.

Advent Parallax, the newest from Averse Sefira, steps forward in technique and adjusts the previous sense of concept albums into a new lexicon, where the concept is revealed in serialized views of a prismatic, untouchable reality. They did not back down; they made it more technical, shaped the songs from less obvious shadow forms of structure; gave themselves license to play with elements that dour conventionalists might find threatening, yet kept them in the spirit of the most traditional of all underground black and death metal. Not surprisingly, the album sounds better live, because its synthesis is new and still supple, and putting it to a click track (or even the knowledge that it would be recorded) could dim some of that resonant light.

Mixing two songs each from their last three albums, Averse Sefira delivered a set with more technical verve than previous adventures. Where some shows had been chaotic and organic, and others sniper-precise, the fusion of the two is a grand adventure in pushing things out of control and then with the paranoia of a sentry snapping it back under control. This delightful duality shadowed not only the playful but militant spirit of their music, but also the fusion of ludic black metal and mechanistic mimetic death metal. The triumph came in not only holding together these raging daemonic tendencies but pouring them into form, using the crucible of the classics and an exploratory fire of the now.

Setlist:

A Shower of Idols (Advent Parallax)
Descension (Advent Parallax)
Nascent Ones (Battle’s Clarion)
Helix in Audience (Tetragrammatical Astygmata)
Battle’s Clarion (Battle’s Clarion)
Plagabraha (Tetragrammatical Astygmata)

Belphegor

After Averse Sefira, Belphegor played a super-competent set of ultra-generic black/death metal. There is no way to criticize it, like most modern travesties. No notes were missed. Rhythms were exact. The crowd loved it and bought tshirts. Yet it did not recommend itself, either. It is as one critic has said of life itself: “The problem is not in being mediocre. The problem lies in not being great, because that is all that stays the memory once the last royalty check is cashed.” Indeed — we move away from this artefact of history and the juncture of styles at this point in metal’s career, a conjunction that has mastered the aesthetics of these intrusions without knowing in any way their derivation, significance, or even that they could form a language and not a procession of forms cut from whole shadow shapes.

Immolation

Immolation played the most varied set of the evening, comprising one simple song from their first album (“Those Left Behind”), several from their most recent entitled Shadows in the Light, one from the nu-metal influenced Harnessing Ruin, and a smattering from other albums, priming us for their epicenter with “Nailed to Gold” from Here in After, probably their most ambitious and engaged moments of the night. Relentlessly professional, they played both exactly and with a good deal of the microscopic re-evaluation of intention shared between individuals in a musical outfit that encloses “feeling,” giving the energies of the crowd and the band a chance for chiasmatic influence within the rhythms of what was played. Their material improves greatly with the new album. Retrospective analysis suggests this band, formed in 1986, never fully left behind the ambition to join Exodus, Nuclear Assault, Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth and Slayer in the speed metal camp, and they have filtered through underground death metal their impulse to write surging rhythm riffs with an accelerated rock beat ever since.

The result, a trademark anticipative recursion and complementary unison offset by a shuttling opposite architectural closure, called by fans “that Immolation riff,” shows up too much in their work; some hypothesize that it began with the use of pinched harmonics to accentuate an expected rhythmic closure, which showed this band how much the dimly lit faces glow when presented with something so digestible. Since that time, Immolation have fought their impulse to write bouncy technical rock, and struggled for death metal. They come farthest on Shadows in the Light. They still could benefit from more diligent staging of their work, so that when they crash into a gratifying chorus or transition, it is rarer and so purer in context though less pure in immediate essence. Their set was as solid as any in metal, rock, jazz or blues, but with a good deal more energy. They could learn a great deal from the first Metallica album if they wish to continue this course.

Setlist:

Passion Kill (Shadows in the Light)
Swarm of Terror (Harnessing Ruin)
Burial Ground (Dawn of Possession)
Nailed to Gold (Here In After)
Son if Iniquity (Harnessing Ruin)
Hate’s Plague (Shadows in the Light)
Immolation (Dawn of Possession)
Lying with Demons (Shadows in the Light)
World Agony (Shadows in the Light)
Bring Them Down (Unholy Cult)

Rotting Christ

Rotting Christ showed this audience the greatest technical performance of the evening. They not only played difficult material. They played it as if it was no big deal. Their problem is that while they write beautiful choruses, and have many creative riff ideas, they like writing boring songs. A two-part stomp beat, a trudging power chord ride that shifts position upward like the “after” part of a weight-loss commercial, and in the ensuing mixture whatever beauty is created is crushed under the weight of the trudge. Beauty is what they aimed for, and what they created at rare times, mainly through an excellent knowledge of harmony and a willingness to write melodic lead rhythm picked riffs and harmonize them. One participant put it best when he said this band have become generic metal. There are black metal vocals, speed metal drums, death metal strumming, power metal choruses, and heavy metal rundown verses. It was both inspiring and the greatest disappointment one could have. Caught in the veil of humanism, which presupposes personhood to supplant nature’s judgement of skill in presenting the dynamism which drives the universe away from entropy, this band played to please an idealized, averaged, mythical crowd and as a result they had people standing in cadence during verses and becoming animated for choruses. Guys, take a risk — write something from your minds and not your hearts.

Conclusion

The show proved an adventure worthy of undertaking for the power of Averse Sefira and Immolation. All things considered, Averse Sefira impressed most, because their set was the least contrived with honest and goofy joy and worship of the power of their own music replacing a more serious mien. Immolation played as well and with more technicality, and also took great gleeful pleasure in their songs, but that performance proved more self-cognizant and less self-reflective, as if they were watching themselves from the audience. The musicians of Averse Sefira were less aware they were onstage and playing music, and seemed to be lost (60%) in the music they clearly enjoyed hearing and (40%) in the emotional and energetic tides of the crowd, although a scan of the audience revealed they appealed to a portion of the audience more likely to watch intently than drink, “mosh,” or chant only the choruses  they knew the verses also. Even more importantly, their songs are written less from a template, and retain the chaotic inspiration that their wide-ranging lyrics bring. Yet neither Immolation nor Averse Sefira were justifiably missed, as both delivered top-notch performances upholding the distinctive DNA of underground death metal.

(Thanks to Cynical and M.S. for the setlists.)

Bands:
Gates of Enoch
Averse Sefira
Belphegor
Immolation
Rotting Christ

Promoters:
The Meridian, Houston Texas

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Rotting Christ, Immolation, Belphegor, Averse Sefira and D.I.M. in Minneapolis, Minnesota

D.I.M., Averse Sefira, Belphegor, Immolation and Rotting Christ
February 16, 2008
7th Street Entry
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Few metal bands maintain their essential character for anything beyond the ephemeral. This tour package brought together four death/black metal bands who have been cultivating their respective crafts for at least a decade each: Averse Sefira almost exactly that, Rotting Christ and Immolation twice as long, and Belphegor somewhere in between, all with varying success in this regard. This longevity reflected well in the clarity of presentation, and also brought out many contrasts among these four acts.

With a nod to Rotting Christ, whose showmanship was attention-keeping despite the banal simplicity of most of their material; and Belphegor, who are effectively blunt but textureless, this was the tale of two bands: one gathering energy and pursuing immortality, the other guaranteed it and marching onward under its burden.

Averse Sefira

The first of these, Averse Sefira, were there to pick up the pieces after the tolerance-shattering performance of the local opening act. For this reviewer, who is intensely familiar with their live performances and the evolution thereof, the chance to see them yet again was still a most welcome one. Having known in advance that the show would feature material from the just-released Advent Parallax it seemed better to remain willfully ignorant of the album as a test of its standalone abilities in this setting. The first two tracks of the set were indeed taken from it. The fatigue of frontman Sanguine as reflected in his sickness-stricken voice was not enough to quell the energy put into these songs by the band. As the sound works itself out at the beginning of the night, and the audience is fresh, the foremost efforts of the band can sometimes fall short, particularly with unfamiliar material. This is the small disadvantage of needing to display new material within the limited confines of the opening slot.

It should be stressed that even when the mix is good, as it was for most of that night, and the material familiar, Averse Sefira manages to be cryptic enough to require a revelatory moment in the thick of some tracks in order for the listener to grasp their place within the song and be moved along with it. With unfamiliar works this is obviously more difficult still, but the audience was attentive and responded well nonetheless…a testament to Averse Sefira’s commanding stage presence, something quickly becoming solidified in their legacy. The rest of their unfortunately short set was a smattering of older works that were played with conviction and precision the way a band coming into the fore would be expected to do. More importantly, they were played with confident posture of a band assuming their audience is privy to the work. It is promising for their future that they seem to be right, and that the audience seems increasingly eager and ever larger.

Immolation

As a band to whom Averse Sefira owes much of their character, and with whom they share much camaraderie, Immolation is possibly the most appropriate choice for a pairing with them anywhere on the bill. Bowing to their foreign comrades on this tour and taking the penultimate slot in the line-up, they maintained status as the most well-received act, with help from their unique on-stage performance.

This mastery of the live setting brings up a crucial point about recent Immolation history. There is some sense of formula in their most recent recorded works, the seeking of trademark over creation. The falling back on “Immolation” themes seems in many cases, including in otherwise throughtful songs, a bane to their ability to match the beauty of their earliest material, something more akin to the needs of groups of captive observers than the lone listener, though they make it work very well as a result. Their manner is alternatively frenetic and menacing, and the visual accompaniment is enough to turn some otherwise absolutely flat passages into more sensible transitions when taken all together.

Particular highlights were the renditions of a few tracks long unplayed live from the first album, including “Those Left Behind.” Mixed feelings accompany the recognition that these songs were much more interesting than the tracks from their more recent output – although not without a tinge of nostalgic longing. However, Immolation has carried their craft well beyond, and with more grace, than most of their early peers who fizzled long ago. To have actually enjoyed their set through most of the night states much for their importance and lasting abilities.

Conclusion

If one is to average one metal show per year, this is probably the best one could have hoped for without excess travel. Unprofessionalism, regret, disappointment, and abject boredom were all conspicuously absent from the experience, even with half of the bill being of the “high-quality” but low-interest brand. What was most fortunate to witness was the juxtaposition, alluded to earlier, of a band making their mark and another leaving theirs behind. Averse Sefira, continuing into their own, has much territory to conquer and the excitement of the path it may take; Immolation, driven professionals and legends, acting every bit their equal yet voraciously displaying their prowess. That said, it is likely Averse Sefira will be making their mark again in the future, though the fate of Immolation seems less certain than it even did five years earlier. Seeing the two cross paths was a fortunate moment in time to witness.

– Written by kontinual

Bands:
D.I.M.
Averse Sefira
Belphegor
Immolation
Rotting Christ

Promoters:
First Avenue/7th Street Entry

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The Negation releasing Memento Mori in July

thenegation2015

The album Memento Mori from Black Metallers The Negation on July 6 (July 7 digital and North America). The first pressing comes as a limited edition (500 copies) DigiSleeve CD.

The Negation’s second full-length, Memento Mori was produced at the Hybreed Studio (Temple of Baal, Glorior Belli, Azziard), with artwork by Metastazis (Morbid Angel, Behemoth, Watain), influenced by famous acts with whom they’ve toured (Marduk, Belphegor) as well as bands such as Dark Funeral and Deathspell Omega. Enough said!

Tracklist:

  1. Intro
  2. The true Enemy
  3. Sacrifice the Weak
  4. Parasite Fall
  5. A Prayer for the Ones I Will Have to Kill
  6. Faith in God’s Corpse
  7. End of Cycle
  8. Visions of Doom
  9. Résistance
  10. Outro

Check out their mega-awesome nihilist and modern music in their album teaser.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ey-eejNacFY

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Marduk – Frontschwein (2015)

marduk_-_frontschwein

Marduk attempts to return to their past of blasting melodic war-themed ultra-simplistic black metal, evoking Panzer Division Marduk more than the mysterious album which preceded it, Opus Nocturne, which remains arguably their strong point. The band incorporates some elements of tribal-industrial hybrid rhythms, but stays on point with short riffs. Arguably this mature form of Marduk offers more variation in tonal construction and riff form than ever before, but its tendency to use similar song structures and nearly constant exercise-video style tempi wears down the power of this release.

Like later Vader albums, the attempt to make the album fully intense creates a wallpaper effect where all of the intensity flows together because lack of internal variation deprives it of the context to make a truly great impact; in addition, riffs use a very similar vocabulary of rhythm and pattern, which makes songs hard to distinguish. Where Marduk excels is in, while avoiding the standard MTV form most metal bands use, orchestrating a rise of intensity that explodes into a clever use of melody and tempo change to produce a dramatic impression. The theatrical side of this band creates moments of impressive songwriting throughout the album.

Black metal vocals of the type that approach a chant more than a howl decorate this album and while much of listener focus is anticipated to be directed at these, they stand back when the guitars lay forth a mix between sawing rhythm and gentle lifts of melody, much like early Dawn albums or their militant spin-off Niden Div. 187. Frontschwein shows Marduk at their best in recent memory, and in modern warfare they have found a new inspiration, but the whimsy and mysterious nature-mysticism of Opus Nocturne was closer to black metal than what we might call this, ‘melodic war metal,’ and as a result like most rock projects it fades into repetition that becomes distinguished only by vocals and lyrics. Nonetheless good material appears throughout this album.

Tracklist

  1. Frontschwein
  2. The Blond Beast
  3. Afrika
  4. Wartheland
  5. Rope Of Regret
  6. Between The Wolf-Packs
  7. Nebelwerfer
  8. Falaise: Cauldron Of Blood
  9. Doomsday Elite
  10. 503
  11. Thousand-Fold Death
  12. Warschau III: Necropolis (Mediabook bonus track, in cooperation with ARDITI)

Tour
EUROPEAN HEADLINER tour with Belphegor (special guest) and two support acts
19.02.2015 HOL Rotterdam / Baroeg
20.02.2015 HOL Eindhoven / Effenaar
21.02.2015 HOL Sneek / Het Bolwerk
22.02.2015 BEL Vosselaar / Biebob
23.02.2015 UK Plymouth / The Hub
24.02.2015 UK Manchester / Academy 3
25.02.2015 UK Glasgow / Audio
26.02.2015 UK London / Underworld
27.02.2015 FR Paris / Divan du Monde
28.02.2015 CH Monthey / Pont Rouge
01.03.2015 FR Toulouse / Dynamo
03.03.2015 SP Madrid / Caracol
04.03.2015 SP Barcelona / Apolo
06.03.2015 ITA Turin / Cafe Liber
07.03.2015 ITA Brescia / Circolo Colony
08.03.2015 SLO Nova Gorica / Mostovna

HATEFEST 2015 with Six Feet Under, Vader and Hate
02.04.2015 DE – Leipzig, Hellraiser
03.04.2015 AT – Wien, Gasometer
04.04.2015 CH – Pratteln, Z7
05.04.2015 DE – Essen, Weststadthalle
06.04.2015 DE – Saarbrücken, Garage
07.04.2015 DE – Lindau, Club Vaudeville
08.04.2015 DE – Ludwigsburg, Rockfabrik
09.04.2015 DE – Hamburg, Markthalle
10.04.2015 DE – Geiselwind, Musichall
11.04.2015 DE – München, Backstage
12.04.2015 DE – Berlin, Postbahnhof

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Interview with Morgengrau

morgengrau-band_photo

Morgengrau rose from the ashes of underground metal and resurrected the ancient ways of old school death metal, hailing back to the 1980s and its fertile ferment of fusion between speed metal, death metal and the various hybrids. Sounding in part like a late 1980s speed/death album and in part like a crushing death metal venture from 1992, Morgengrau carry on the tradition of death metal and give it their own unique stamp.

Extrinsic Pathway is the band’s first full-length release and hits the stores on April 2, 2013. This album features all of what you might expect from older death metal, but also keeps true to its own vision of what the future and the past should hold in common. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to speak to Erika, Morgengrau‘s guitarist/vocalist, about the nature of death metal and where Morgengrau fits into this complex formula.

What made you enjoy death metal, and want to be in a death metal band?

The ferocity of death metal has had me since I first heard bands like Possessed, Malevolent Creation and Cannibal Corpse. While I’ve drifted in and out of enjoying other genres, death metal has been a constant. It speaks to me at a deep, intrinsic level more so than any other musical form. I think it’s natural for humans to create more of the things they love. This is certainly my story. I’m not looking to reinvent the genre or forge brave new paths into the realms of extreme music. Morgengrau is about writing songs springing from the dark places inside us, songs we identify with and enjoy hearing and playing.

Can you tell us a bit about the musical history of the band members? Who plays what and where are they from?

We’re all lifer metalheads, with some of us farther along the road than the others. Multigenerational, shall we say. I’m the oldest with the most bands and experience under my belt. I’m also the only non-native Texan in the band. For those who don’t know, I started out in 1995 up in the Boston, MA area singing for neoclassic group Autumn Tears. Kind of a bizarre beginning, now that I look back on it. Since then I’ve worked my way through progressively heavier projects: Ignitor, Bracaglia, sessioning for Vesperian Sorrow and regularly playing in Drifter, an Iron Maiden tribute. In Morgengrau, I’ve finally created the right band for me where I have full creative control and leadership. This is the first band in which I’ve done more than vocals. Learning to play guitar and sing has been quite the learning experience for me.

The others have had shorter but more focused careers. Reba drummed for a technical death metal band called Manifestation for about 5 years; Jake played bass with avant garde black metallers Humut Tabal and now plays in Plutonian Shore, a very traditional black metal band based in San Antonio. Morgengrau is Nick’s first band.

You list Asphyx, Pestilence and Immolation as influences for at least how you want the album to sound. But there’s a lot more influence in there, ranging all over the place. Can you tell us what else influences you?

I’m terrible at describing my own music; I use what others say they hear to describe it. A number of reviews so far have mentioned it as having “progressive” elements which is a shock — I don’t like progressive metal and certainly wasn’t aiming for that. Simply proves how everyone experiences music a different way. For me, it is what it is. I listen to a lot of Immolation and Finnish death metal like Torture Killer, Winterwolf and Demigod. That definitely lends a flavor, however, I’m acutely aware of avoiding becoming a clone. Morgengrau needs to stand on its own. When I write, I think about what attracts me to certain songs verses what repels me. What works, what doesn’t work. Why do I go back to certain songs time and again? What makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck?

How long has Morgengrau been around? How did you all find each other? Is it hard to find people who want to be in old school bands, as opposed to the new school styled ones?

Morgengrau officially formed in July 2010. Reba and I had been jamming cover tunes for a while and asked Jake to join us in the summer. Very quickly, we realized we made a good a unit. I’ve known Reba since ’04 when I met her at an Ignitor show. I prefer to hang out with guys, but when I saw Reba banging her head like a maniac, I knew we’d be friends. I met Nick in 2009 at a Belphegor show, and Jake shortly after. They were both going to school in San Antonio at that time. The whole process of coming together was inspiring, as it seemed ridiculous at first for a 40 year old to be asking 20 year olds to join a band, yet it worked amazingly well. There’s a whole group of young kids in Texas who are into old school metal for all the right reasons. Unlike when I lived up Northeast, down here I’m surrounded by musicians with whom I can connect and trust. I’m very particular about who I’ll have in my band. No drama or critical life dysfunctions. I’ve been in bands with that and it’s the worst. No thanks.

Extrinsic Pathway suggests someone reaching out, or finding a way through life that’s outside of the internal dialogue of a human being. Is this a concept song or album? Can you tell us what it’s about?

The inspiration came from Reba, who mentioned the phrase after hearing it in class. It’s a medical term — part of the blood clotting process triggered by outside damage to a vessel. I realized it could be used to describe walking the Left Hand Path. Most of us who walk it have been damaged or driven to the dark side in some way. It’s our way of protecting and defending against that unwanted outside insult. We’re all hurtling towards our own personal armageddon. You must ask yourself – “When the time comes, will I go standing and proud, or mewling and crawling on my belly like most everyone else?” Walking the Left is my way of embracing and preparing for that ending, however it comes. That awareness gives me incredible focus and strength. My bandmates feel similarly, in their own ways. The concept should ring true with other listeners, I imagine.

The cover of Sepultura “Inner Self” is phenomenal. You’ve also covered Pestilence and Asphyx. Why these three? Why did you pick “Inner Self”? Is it a “message thing”?

Thanks for the compliment. Before we started writing original material, like most bands we jammed a lot of cover tunes. Asphyx‘s music is simple, catchy and easy to play. I’d not played guitar for almost 20 years so when I picked it back up in 2009, I needed something fun with which to brush off the dust.

Pestilence is my favorite death metal band of all time. Consuming Impulse will be forever timeless. Sepultura wasn’t on the roster until Jake, Nick and Reba started banging out “Inner Self” at the end of practices just for fun. We weren’t planning to make part of our repertoire but it quickly stuck. The song means a lot to Jake, as more than any of us, he’s experienced a coalescence of self over the last few years. When we first met, he was unsure of his path, figuratively dipping his toe into the Acheron, while still clinging to old beliefs. We’ve watched him shed his weak skin for a more confident hide, to begin living a life beholden to none but him. What a pleasure it has been, watching his transformation. It’s one of the reasons why he handles vocals on “Inner Self” — that is his song, in many ways.

The first half of Extrinsic Pathway shows what seems to me is an affinity for mid- to late-1980s speed metal type stuff, which Sepultura and Slayer overlap, since they’re sort of half-death/half-speed. What do you think it is about that time period that’s so appealing, both to Morgengrau and the rest of us out here?

It’s a time of life thing. The late 80s were when I, as a teenager, truly found who I wanted to be as a musician. The riffs and sounds of that time are permanently imprinted in my psyche. This was the Buffalo scene at its heyday, so everything was about Slayer, Sepultura, Death, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and Obituary. That time was truly magic. The ferocity of this new music was withering. I remember going with my boyfriend to Mark “Psycho” Abrams’ house to get a copy of Deicide‘s debut album which we’d won from his radioshow. We sat in the car after getting it, holding it, mute, afraid of it. Same thing with Morbid Angel‘s Altars of Madness. Music of such incredible intensity, that went straight to my core, ripped my soul out then fed it back to me, bloody and shredded. If I can capture even an nth of that feeling in my songs, I’ll consider myself successful. I want a young person to hear Morgengrau and feel something of that same, frothing insanity which marked all our days back then. There will never be another time like it.

It sounds like a conscious effort was made to vary up song structure and offer different conclusions to riffs so that each song grows a bit. What appeals to you about this idea?

That’s just good songwriting. It’s easy to write a bunch of singular riffs and stitch them together like a patchwork quilt. Some people love that kind of music but personally, I hate it. It feels like a epileptic fit. Songs have to flow. The transitions need to make sense. Dynamic is critical, otherwise the ear goes numb. Let’s not forget the importance of the concept of “hook.” If you can’t keep the main riff in your head after the song is over, it might as well not even exist. Bands get all wrapped up writing these complex, super fast, theory-based riffs to prove their musicianmanship. That does not a good song make — those tunes never sound like anything other than WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP in the typical shitty live setting. All I want is for the interested to get our music on first listen, so they come back for more.

Can you tell us where you produced this album, and how was your first time as a band in a studio? What techniques did you use to get that nice thick early 1990s sound?

Two words about studio time: fucking hell.

To elaborate: We recorded at Amplitude Media here in Austin. It was close and flexible, which in the end was fortunate as we didn’t move along nearly as fast as expected. I’d never recorded anything from the ground up. Reba had one demo under her belt. Nick and Jake – no experience to speak of. We got the click track going and off we went… into the sterile land of first album territory where the fan reaction is, “What the fuck happened? The demo was so ferocious!” I instantly understood how that happens — you think the “right way” is to record to a click and you’ve NEVER EVER used one in practice, so that click sucks all the life out of the songs. So… no click. Sure there’s some timing stuff here and there, but the songs sound alive, and that’s the key.

Four rhythm tracks with my Mesa cabinet double miked got us that fat sound. We used a Rectifier Roadster and a custom Brugera for amplification. All those tracks took a long time. It was very taxing — I’m certainly not a one take kind of player.

Everyone had their own personal freakout moment during recording. Rather unifying, in the end. The day I had mine it was hot (it was a good 108º outside, probably 90º in the studio), I’d had a long, shitty day at work and had received some rather horrible personal news a few days before. I sat down with the guitar to start on rhythm track 3 for “Antithetical,” sweat was pouring down the back of my neck and my arms and an ant was walking up the neck of my guitar. I just about started screaming. I wanted nothing more than to quit. But how could I? I had three other people believing that I could do it, that this would happen. So I shoved the panic down, ignored the ant and the sweat, and got it done.

Once we got to vocals, things smoothed out. Reba floored us with her backing tracks. She has a hell of a voice! On “Extrinsic Pathway,” “Antithetical,” and “Polymorphic”, that really deep roar under mine is her. The day she cut her tracks will forever remain one of my fondest memories. There she was in the isolation room, all 5’4″ of her, never having recorded vocals before, and suddenly this enormous demonic roar coming pouring out of the monitors and knocks us all off the couch. Jake was just open-mouthed. At that point, I started laughing and could not stop. It was such an amazing moment. What a hidden talent she has.

We mixed and mastered with Devo Andersson and Endarker Studio. Devo’s a friend whose work I hold in high regard. Mixing from a distance was challenging but worth it. There was no way I was going to let everyone’s blood, sweat, and almost-tears be wasted by cheaping out on the final stages. We finished the album late, vastly overbudget, way stressed out and exhausted… and it was worth every penny, minute, and ounce of energy.

What’s next for Morgengrau? I know that most of your team have other projects, both musical and otherwise. Are you going to tour? Gig around Austin, TX, which I believe is your homebase? Sacrifice goats to the Dark Lord Ba’al and His Legions of Necrocaprous Antagonists?

Hipster abuse. Shameless self promotion. Spamming teh Interwebz. Cat memes — ok, just kidding. We’re going to play as many strategically important shows as possible. There are gigs in San Antonio and Houston booked, then we’re heading to NYC to play Martyrdoom in June. I have to give thanks to Vinny and Signature Riff for such an amazing opportunity — we are so excited! Touring is definitely on the wish list, but with our various job schedules, might be tough. Never say never, though. One thing I will avoid is overplaying — we see that so much in TX. There’s always that one band that’s on every goddamned bill. After six months, nobody cares. It’s important to keep anticipation up. New material is in the works, and we continue to work on stage presentation. If you’re going to do it, do it big and do right, and with passion.

Do you think old school death metal is returning? Other than technique, what makes OSDM different from “modern” death metal, metalcore, deathcore, indie-metal, post-metal and bounce metal?

You forgot crabcore. I’ll tell you, the day someone sent me that Attack Attack video at work I nearly had to go into the bathroom and drown myself in the toilet. That’s METAL? And those are MEN? I’ve got more testosterone in my wizened left ovary than all five of them combined. WHAT HAPPENED?

I think old school DM is already back. Bands like Funebrarum, Disma, Cruciamentum and War Master are merely a few of the great examples of new death metal done the right way. It helps the old greats are still around with more enthusiasm than ever — last night, I saw Imprecation, Master and Incantation — that’s about 100 years of death metal experience rolled up into one show. Immolation‘s new album sounds like it’s going to be killer.

What makes it different? Shit, where to begin? Good songwriting. No jerking off on the fretboard. Solos that complement the music, even if they’re only five notes. Lyrical focus on destruction, the occult, anti-Christian sentiments, war, suffering, darkness. Musicians who would sooner kill themselves than get on stage wearing a white belt. Long hair or no hair, nothing in between. Pointy guitars. Blood, our own or yours, we don’t care. Steaks and hamburgers, none of that vegan shit. Going on stage blind because you’d sooner die than play wearing your glasses. Songs that generate circle pits. Self-knowledge. Willingness to sacrifice all. Passion without drama. Lifetime commitment. Honesty.

I could talk your ear off, but you probably need that ear for the next album. I appreciate the time you put into this and know our readers will as well.

I’ve always got an ear for DeathMetal.org. Thank you, Brett and your readers, for the support. Come walk the Extrinsic Pathway with us… Hail Metal, hail Death!

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Interview: Thorous (Deteriorate)

Deteriorate (Pennsylvania, USA) got their start as a band solidly and unmistakenly death metal of the violent American variety. Their debut Rotting in Hell, one of the premier domestic outputs of the infamous JL America label, broke little ground, but nonetheless manages to get spins from old-timers who have long appreciated its compact composition and caustic delivery. Not long after this sleeper semi-classic the band abandoned their death metal pursuits in favor of a faster, more melodic and hybridized style in line with the rising popularity of the European black metal of the day.

Interview from Heidenlarm e-zine #1.

Deteriorate Rotting in Hell came out near the end of the death metal boom, right before black metal became predominant in the eyes of many listeners. What was it like at that time to contemplate the styles in which you could compose?

Personally I was seriously into black metal since the begining…in fact if you noticed the change in styles between “Rotting in Hell” and “Gather the nebbish/The Senectuous Entrance” you can see my influences shining through out the whole cd; I wrote nearly half of the music on “Gather/Senectuous” around 1994…I was so saturated with old black/death metal like Venom, Bathory, Eestruction, Voivod, Slayer, Sodom, Kreator that it just flowed naturally in any riffs I would be writing…I mean I saw Kreator’s first US tour[I believe] at City Gardens in Trenton NJ with Voivod I think it was “Pleasure to Kill/Killing Technology” tour – this fucking show was so fucking brutal, I was blown the fuck away, it still to this day had to have been the most influential moment in my life, as I watched them play flawlessly I said to myself that’s what I want to do and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get there…so I played everyday for years until I was 17 formed my first band it was called “randomdraw” a hardcore/metal band we sounded like cromags vs rage against the machine…anyway after a few years of other bands and stuff I joined Deteriorate which is a long story in itself!…so my goal with them was to take it to the next level get so into the music and just fucking go apeshit and I think it all worked out perfectly…..

It seems to me that death metal has always had two opposing sides, one of which emphasizes fast tremolo picking and relatively few emphatic pauses, while the other side uses muffled strumming and a morse code of pausing and pounding to spell out its riffs. What made you gravitate toward the faster metal side?

When I started playing guitar in ’82 I thought that metal had a missing element that hardcore bands seemed to emphasize on “speed”. So I started playing as fast as I could thinking that it would make me more talented as a player…so I would write these riffs and put them together with my younger brother Justin and we would play these blazing fast songs full of ‘squeals’ and violent solos like Slayer or Cryptic Slaughter…but after some time speed wasn’t good enough so I added into my style harmony&melody…I wanted something different say warmer tones, so I got into Malmsteen alot and Voivod, Black Sabbath, Ozzy, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Celtic Frost ‘morbid tales'[my favorite guitar sound ever], Exodus, Violence, Metallica, Megadeth, Bathory, Anvil Bitch, Dominance, Faith or Fear, Flotsam and Jetsam, Death & tons more…I started going to 2 to 3 shows a week it was so intense there were lines down the street; as I saw these bands perform in the early mid 80’s I was blown away it was so intense my world had become near perfect! At the same time I was extremely jealous, I thought to myself why can’t I do that? There was one reason why —drummers—there is such a shortage of quality drummers that could do blaast beats or grind or doublebass let alone afford a decent kit…I was so into technical metal that it made it even harder to find someone.

There were fewer people involved with death and black metal in that time, unlike the current scenario. What do you think are the differences in a musician’s experience between the two?

Nowadays its more open to all; the styles combined, there are a thousand times more muscicians that are dying to play…equipment is far more affordable and more directed towards metal hard rock players…the nu-metal styles are bringing more people to wards heavier music especially women! I always thought that if you could get women into your band then men would follow hence bringing your numbers at the door up at the club you’re playing…

What to you makes a series of chords and rhythms a “riff”?

I’m always looking for something different or catchy or “hook” riffs…riffs that make you say “hell yeah that rips” and your hair stands up on your whole body…or like in the 80s the introduction of the word “mosh”or “not” where anthrax introduced to me the true pit styles I actually went nuts at every show we all our own style of moshing or dancing,or the dive kings, we tried every kind of dive you could think of it was a contest to us to see how long you could stay on stage or how long you could wave ride…it was the best years of my life it was so fresh new different and the normal people didn’t even notice any of these bands we were such a minority back then, I was always saying in school that Metallica will be the biggest band ever and 10 years later I was damn near right…I was the only kid in my juniore high with an earring and a denim jacket with death metal patches all over it…

Fo you compose by riff assembly, or is there a pattern into which riffs fit first?

Actually I have an odd style of writing I usually number the riffs along with names for each part and write it all down,so if I forget I have notes…in Deteriorate I played bass but I wrote the riffs on my 7string and brought my guitar to practice where I showed them the riffs…my newer bands I play guitar and sing on almost everything…I write all the music and vocals and let my drummer mike trush write the drum parts…I usually write all the music in my head at work and then go home and play my ass off…

Many of your songs on Rotting in Hell preserved a casual but intense atmosphere of using little introduction and tearing into the material on hand immediately. Was this a reaction to the riff-salad-heavy metal songs of the time, which often took half of the song just to get cooking?

Actually I didn’t play anything on “Rotting,” although I was in the band months before the recording sessions, I was asked to play on “Rotting” but it didn’t feel right playing songs on a disc that I had no part in writing so I declined…if you asked me about “Gather/Senectuous” I would have to say they were flowing and melodic…
lyrically, the band also played at least two sides, having some “gore” topics and a fair number that could have been interpreted as more gothic, romantic or moribund.

What inspired the lyric writing on this album?

As far as “Gather the Nebbish,” I sang 3 songs and wrote a major part of the music, my lyrics were directed towards my hatred towards a society that hates people like me…I would first get into a raging pissed off mood then write the music then the lyrics would just kind of “bleed” to me,you know what I mean?..I went in the studio and basically freaked out in the vocal booth screaming my heart out jumping around like a fucking lunatic,..in fact 2 of the songs I sang on “Gather” came about on the spot, I did the vocals on one take not even rehearsing them once: Evaporated Battleground/Ode to a Mortal” my good friend Trevor Schaible donated those 2 sets of lyrics and I took them in the studio and ad libbed the songs it just so happened they came out pretty good in my opinion total chaos!!

After Rotting in Hell, Deteriorate took a break. What happened during this time?

We went through some member changes and more of my writing came into effect, we really spent a lot of time rehearsing doing shows and getting more professional about ourselves and we said to ourselves what can we do to make this band better and more brutal and so we did just that…

After this break you released, The Senectuous Entrance, which in my view is two albums put together — one that could be described as Emperor-style gothic black metal, and another that was more heavy metal/punkish. What brought about this dichotomy?

I basically came into the band with alot of the ideas already to go, I brought to the band my musical background and it took over I guess…I never really heard any of the newer black/death metal bands, which bothered me when people said we are a rip of of Norweigan bands, its totally not the truth, I was doing this type of music inthe early 80s I was playing the 3rds minor this dissonant that you name it ..if you notice “Rotting” has none of the harmonies and minor chords, I brought that to the band and we took off with it, I was in bands prior to that which had similiar traits…

Your songs convey as much energy as any other band out there. How do you do it?

I tend to think to myself if I was in the crowd or a listener what would I want to hear and I do it…energy is the first priority nowadays in my band “Treading on Divine” I do simpler arrangements but it works for me, there is more flowing riffs and catchy hooks…

The band has been around since 1991. How do you think metal, or death metal, has changed over the course of that time?

All the genres have improved with the times…certain bands keep their styles others evolve into something different I think both scenarios work,it gives fans an oppurtunity to hear something new therefore creating another rip in the timeline for a new genre..

How has Deteriorate as a band integrated those changes into its music?

Currently Deteriorate is rehearsing for a new release in the future but Mike Trush and myself are quite busy so it takes some time to get it together…other members are in Krypton or not doing music at all…

Your songs are convoluted in the logic that produces continuity between their riffs, enough that they must be heard through once fully before being interpreted. How do you think the awareness of this process in the listener affects how you compose?

It gives me a flowing feel to it, I can sit and bob my head continuosly from start to finish, I can only assume that our fans or listeners do the same thing…it has that warm feeling about it…the 5 unreleased songs have a brutal chaotic war type sound to it, but we still incorporated the Deteriorate flow and sound to it…

When you are composing a song and have two directions in which it can go, how do you select which one should prevail?

It was always a band vote or else we would just open jam and if it went in some new direction that sounded cool we would work with it…it’s truly important to find muscicians that you can openly do unplanned jams ,its usually where you find a truly nwew and original riff,where as when you are at home there is no drums or band influence there to strengthen the song or give you a nod or an added riff between another riff….

You seem to be a non-political band, as far as lyrics are concerned. Do you have any political or social change views that you keep to yourself, or are you detached from the entire process of politics and ideology?

Personally I try to incorporate politics or truth in my lyrics, these topics enrage me making my songs come out even more chaotic, I try to let the lyrics influence my choice of riffs after the song is written of course, the lyrics might change a part into something different or brutal…

The USA may be about to wage holy war on Iraq and the Middle East. Is this a metal topic to discuss?

Yes and no…I feel it’s all a front to keep americans intrested in the politics of this country…the president has to do something to keep his people supporting him…with all the things like snipers, Iraq, WTC and racism, he can shift the peoples attention away from starting a war with Iraq, he made everybody shift their attention from Iraq to the snyper atacks, getting everyone pissed off, so now the people are hungry for some desruction somewhere other than here, and to make it work even better the one snipers last name was Muhammad…it worked, he’s got the ok to wage a war on Iraq, I’m not surprised and I do support this war…these people need a leader that has enough brains not fuck with the most powerful country in the world, us!!!

Do you think that music conveys values based upon what positive beliefs are affirmed in the music, even in simply its sound which resembles facets of the outside world?

It does…music has been the center of attention since the beginning of its creation…it can take you out of reality or define reality and it seems that both work very well…I mean people take a cd put it in then something happens, almost chemically in their brain and it feels good,others feel bad or angry or something, its amazing how this works…I always thought that you could totally control or program people of all ages through certain notes played in precise actions in the brain, when I hear certain notes a feel it all over my body its really quite remarkable [I hope this made some sense to you, I think I understand what I just said hahaha]

Is it possible to be a musician without sharing some of your views through music?

Definitely… I’m really into Burzum, Varg does an excellent job at creating a soundscape, it’s total headphone music, which is one of my favorite ways of listening, Varg uses his feelings and beliefs through beautiful music, but yet you can still understand his anger and pains…Mortiis does similar work but his feelings tend to be fantasy like or dungeons and dragons theme music, both are excellent…

You’re now working on new material with a band called Treading on Divine. This title seems to have more metaphysical implications than the gore-metal-ish idea of Deteriorate. What is different about the music and outlook of Treading on Divine as compared to Deterioriate?

“Treading on Divine” is a project that I started around 98 right around the breakup of Deteriorate myself and joe gorski were fed up with the scene in Philly so we moved to south florida and started playing…he was on drums and I played and sang..eventually we grabbed my brother [who is the best guitarist I’ve ever seen] and Conrad Eddings on bass…we had 3 songs and so it was born…down the road we fell into the party scene down there 3 of us worked in nightclubs so if we weren’t working we were partying thus the band suffered…I had also another band with the samme members except Chris Dino plyed drums that was called ‘twitch’ it was really good stuff….so eventually we after 2 years parted ways I moved back north and started the band with other people, Thorous-lead guitar, Mike Trush-drums, Chris Berwind-bass and Alex Davis-guitar….we rehearsed about a year and 2 of the members didn’t progress so I let them go, now it’s myself, Trush and filling in on bass Jason Hildebrandt from Funeral Mask, Cemetary Earth, Hazarax…we’re ready to record a EP..full length soon the title is “thy only god”..the difference between Deteriorate and treading is I write all the music and arrangements, they’re more flowing and basic riffs…it has black, grind,melody,harmonies,thrash,death styles…in Deteriorate the riffs were all voted on whether I liked it or not so alot of good riffs got trashed, since I saved these riffs and used them now,so some of these songs are quite old…we do one song called “Viral Gore” which is from 1988; some are from 89, these are more thrashy,…the “Treading” songs have “hooks” that make you say hell yeah! As far as the lyrics “Treading on Divine” is based upon my hatred towards authority, I don’t like being told what to do, ever! Not by anyone including my girlfriends….this is the topic I have been griping about forever…i get political on some sogs others are about my nonreligon attitude…being my own god and all that…

What bands are you listening to now?

Voivod-Deathrow-DBC-Burzum-Devil Doll-Elend-Marilyn Manson-Ozzy/Sabbath-Golden Dawn-Entombed-Dismember-Fantomas-Mr. Bungle-Thorns-Abruptum-Mayhem-Behemoth-Venom-Destruction-Kreator-Sodom -Vond-Ulver-old W.A.S.P.-Metallica-Megadeth-Slayer-Darkthrone-Mercyful Fate-Celtic Frost-Belphegor-Tartaros-Tomahawk-Jimmy Rodgers-Sabbat-Immolation-Exodus-Emperor-Autopsy-Laibach-Bloodstorm-Se rvants of Hate-Funeral Mask-LiveSufferDie-Ministry-Christian Death-Violence-Anthrax-Forbidden-Abigor… I could go on forever!

It appears the downturn in the US and world economies has affected metal. Are you able to find a label at this point in time? Are you going to self-release this upcoming album?

Actually Philadelphia has so many labels here…I am talking with a few labels none that I want to name just yet but I have made mistakes with labels in the past and I don’t want to lose money and touring again. When I first joined Deteriorate we had tons of touring offers, some with morbidangel for 40 dates but our drummer had a custody battle going on so he couldn’t do the tours, eventually that was why we replaced him with Darkwoods, Rich was a great drummer though…

How do you think the internet has changed music, from your first album in 1993 to your second in 1996, and now to the current time?

The internet is excellent for underground bands like us to get exposure…it’s amazing how much stuff is out there…I can always find something interesting on the web….

Do you think most metallers have a common general direction of their ideology, or is there no unity in thought in the scene?

I honestly think everybody is different anymore, I always hear different opinions about every topic…,sure theres unity but not really where i’m at…i live in a city that has everybody thinking differently I don’t know why…theres always bands that are jealous of others or pissed offf that they’re opening for a band that they think sucks,i’ve been dealing with this shit since 89…we used to get every tour package that came through philly no matter who was headlining the tour we always got the top slot on the bill…this made all the local bands hate us instead of supporting us which would come back to them in the end…i think nowadays its different theres more unity in the scene…back in the 90s we could’ve all stuck together and the philly scene would’ve been the next tampa bay thing,instead when the cell block closed the bands dissapated,noone astuck to gether and bands broke up, its a shame because we really had some good bands in our scene,to tell you the truth most of those bands are like invisible because I haven’t seen many of those muscians again….

After the rise of nu-metal and bands like Slipknot, does metal any longer have the “coming in from the outfield” strangeness and dramatic impact that it once had?

I feel that this is the metal years all over again, history is repeating itself but in a grander way…a majority of people today appreciate metal and hard rock, its not that uncommon anymore,you hear metal on the radio everyday…we have such a wide variety of bands to chose from along with a generation of people that grew up om metal ranging from 10 to 40 years old….most like something heavy if not ozzy/sabath then metallica or godsmack or something…to me this is positive for the scene…
why metal? it’s not an easy artform, there’s no money and most people seem to hate it or disparage it. why do you keep going? (this is not a criticism, hopefully obviously, since i’m still in this after as many years too!)

I can’t stop! I love it the heavier it is the better….then again everybody will probably hate me for this but I like Marilyn Manson alot…his music is super creative, its full of hate, evil, and other postive shit that just makes him an icon for heavy mainstream music he’s actually helping the world get into heavy music which opens the doors for bands like mine,he has the flow we were talking about earlier, I am open minded to some degree….I like stuff from almost every genre doesn’t mean its good for everybody else, but it’s good to me and I don’t care what anybody thinks….who cares what I listen to anyway you know? To each his own….theres a litttle bit of everyting in bands today it means that awider range of audiences will buy into heavier music…[i hope]…

If you could tour with two or three bands from anywhere and anytime in metal, who would it be?

Voivod!!!!!!!Slayer!!!Morbid Angel!!!

Where do you think metal will go next?

Its going to get even bigger, I know I want more of it and I’m not going anywhere but more angrier then before…I have more anger in me than ever before and I need bands to fuel my fire!!!

Jazz, ambient, industrial, and punk: all of them exist as separate genres, niches if you will, from the mainstream as does metal. But somehow jazz and ambient get more respect and never quite fully are able to integrate with the mainstream of radio music. Do you think this is due to increased technicality, radically unpopular song structures, ability of audience to appreciate complexity, or other factors? Do you think this same distancing from mainstream radio music could help metal?

Maybe the jazz thing is of the other half of society that doesn’t listen to rock or metal or mainstream music…it could be an older generation or possibly the trained muscicians of the world are more appreciated…I know I’ve never had a lesson in my life but it still kept me busy and somewhat talented…

It used to be there were tons of zines, and people mailing stickers and dubbed cassettes all over the world. Metalheads today trade web links and mp3s, and there are now thousands of websites each offering small fragments of information. Where is this weak(er), and what’s next after this? Do you think metal will consolidate its information?

it can only get better,the more publicity for my style of music the better…

Do you believe humanity is about to blow itself into vapor?

Not really its pretty much the way its always been to me, bullshit, politicians, religon it’s all always there its just a matter of what you buy into…

What has changed about the songwriting process for Treading on Divine that is separate from how Deteriorate worked in both incarnations?

Actually not much maybe different tempos or not so much blast and grind beats…I have been working on more catchier riffs that have a more grooving sound to them its still in the black/death metal vein…

Who’s in the band now?

Thorous[guitar/vox] Mike Trush[drums/vox/bass]

Are you going to repress Rotting in Hell and The Senectuous Entrance?

Actually we have the original recording of “Rotting in Hell” which was recorded at an entirely different rcording studio…the vox are even more brutal..we are going to release it soon with the original cover that was deemed to satanic for our onr guitar player….

Where do you hope to be in ten years?

hopefully touring the world and playing brutal music forever!!!!!!!

What do you do outside of metal, as individuals, and who is in the band?

I have my historic renovations business…I do old world/european style stonework and replications. I’m planning to do a house in Spain this spring, its my other passion in life!!

Any final additions?

Its cool to know that there’s people out there still into Deteriorate and the old school metal bands…I appreciate any people who would like a copy of unreleased material and videos…send me tapes and postage to: thorous—-170 smithtown rd. pipersville,PA 18947 Keep the metal world alive! Don’t give up playing your instruments,follow your dreams, I had dreams when I started playingt and so many came true, if I can do it anyone can do it! Keep trying your best,sing your heart out! Play all day and night! Make a difference, speak your mind! Don’t take any shit from anyone! Don’t let anyone push you around, you’re only as powerful as you believe you are! Keep metal alive! Kick some ass! – And support the local bands in your area, without people like you local bands will fade away, go to as many shows as you can, and buy as much merchandise as you can, it will come back to you in some way! Thanks for giving me the chance to vent SRP! – thorous…treading on divine….

The natural inequality of the two powers of population and of production in the earth and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal form the great difficulty that to me appears insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society. All other arguments are of slight and subordinate consideration in comparison to this. No fancied equality, no agrarian regulations in their utmost extent, could remove the pressure of it even for a single century. And it appears, therefore, to be decisive against the possible existence of a society, all the members of which should live in ease, happiness, and comparative leisure; and feel no anxiety about providing the means of subsistence for themselves and families.

Consequently, if the premises are just, the argument is conclusive against the perfectibility of the mass of mankind.

– Thomas Malthus, Population: The First Essay (1798)

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