Thoughts on Robert Eggers’ The Witch (2016)

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Article by David Rosales.

The Witch is a non-Hollywood movie set in the 1630s dealing with a witch psychological attacking a family of New England colonists. The Witch here is typical of traditional European folklore. The filmmakers took cues from historical documents, “first hand” accounts, and contemporary folk tales. Lurking behind the vague but shocking impressions veiled in mystery that our post-Christian society still has, are the insubordinate traditions and purposely asocial philosophies that defined the attitudes of practitioners of the left hand path.

Continue reading Thoughts on Robert Eggers’ The Witch (2016)

Interview With A Metalhead Pipesmoker Video Blogger

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Each of us finds a path through life. Along the way we collect things we believe in, and things we enjoy. Sometimes those become what our commerce-brained socially-manipulated society might call “hobbies,” but these are often closer to a calling. I was fortunate to interview someone who straddles that line. He calls himself “Metalhead Y Cigarguy” and he runs a successful YouTube channel where he analyzes cigars, pipes and often, heavy metal.

You’re both a metalhead and a pipes/cigar smoker. Do you think the two go together?

If you’re going by stereotypes, no, but that’s why stereotypes are bad. Typically the pipe/cigar smoker is viewed as educated and an upper class individual, whereas the Metalhead is viewed as the uneducated lower class individual. You and I both know this is not the case at all. Now when I first got into pipes/cigars I thought I was one of a few Metalheads that actually enjoyed “the finer things in life,” but I quickly learned that there were a lot of individuals that smoked pipes/cigars that listened to all forms of Heavy Metal music.

That’s the nice thing about the hobby of pipes and cigars, most individuals don’t care about race, religion, political view etc. as we all have a common bond and that’s pipes and cigars. When individuals come together, say the doctor and the Metalhead, at the local cigar lounge, the two can always have an interesting conversation about the hobby even if they disagree about everything else in life. The hobby of pipes and cigars is open to anyone and everyone.

How did you get into smoking cigars? When did you add pipes to your routine?

I used to just smoke a few cigars on the back deck in the summer time. At the time I really wanted to take up pipe smoking, but like most I didn’t really know where to begin, and I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on something that I may not enjoy. Cigars seemed like an easy first step. After I found myself enjoying cigars I decided to get more into the hobby, so I purchased a small humidor and things took off from there. I soon found myself with several humidors and about 300 cigars on hand.

After being into cigars for a while I decided it was time to try a pipe, so I went to my local tobacconist and picked up a basket pipe and a couple ounces of Lane RLP-6. For the first couple months I only smoked my pipe about 2-3 times a month, but as I got the hang of it more I decided to spend a bit more money on a nicer pipe. Of course just like the cigar hobby, my pipe hobby took off as well. I now have a very well stocked cellar of tobaccos and about 35 pipes. Needless to say I really enjoy my pipes and cigars and pretty much all my spare cash goes into the hobby. My wife always asks, “Don’t you have enough tobacco/cigars?” and my response is always “no.”

You run a YouTube channel with pipe and cigar videos. Where can we find it, and what is on it?

I post a variety of videos on my channel. I have a Sunday Evening Cigar series where I usually review cigars but also discuss cigar related topics, I have a Thursday Pipe Chat where I discuss a variety of pipe/tobacco topics and sometimes I do an occasional pipe tobacco review. I have also done videos on my sports teams, as well as videos where I discuss Heavy Metal music. I’m open to all subjects, but mainly keep it to pipes and cigars.

What do you like about making videos, and why did you pick that format over others?

I started out many years ago on Heavy Metal forums like Metal Rules, Encyclopedia Metallum, Roadrunner Records etc., and when I got serious about cigars I discovered the Cigar Geeks forum. I posted on that forum daily for a good 3 years straight, and there is a great group of individuals over there. As I had grown in my cigar hobby I decided to give pipe smoking a try as I had always wanted to smoke a pipe.

After beginning my adventure into pipes I discovered there was a community on YouTube. After seeing the interaction from people I decided to jump in and give it a go and make videos. As with most people my videos sucked at first, heck they probably still do, but it gave me a better interaction with individuals in the hobby. Forums can be useful, but many times people don’t get to detailed about a particular subject; where as with YouTube a person can spend 5, 10, 15 + minutes talking about a particular subject and provide more in depth information about something you want to know about.

With YouTube its more of a face to face type interaction as you are watching the individual demonstrate tips, tricks, how-tos etc. with the actual pipe and/or cigar, so as a visual learner it was ideal for me. For a long time I didn’t have anyone to sit back and enjoy a pipe or a cigar with either, so by watching YouTube Pipe Community (YTPC) videos I was able to simulate that experience even if it was only a one way conversation. I think that’s why a lot of us do it… to share a smoke with someone and to have some interaction that way.

What is the YouTube Pipe Community (YTPC) and how did you become part of it? What does it do, and how can people find out more?

YouTube is full of different communities that cover topics from Guns/Self Defense, Bushcraft, Gamers, etc., and if you’re interested in a particular hobby then chances are there is a community for it on YouTube. YT has a strong pipe/cigar community that’s been around for a long time. I’ve been a part of the YTPC for four years now, and it was going strong when I joined. It’s basically a community of individuals that post pipe and/or cigar related videos, and create dialog with individuals based off those videos.

Its similar to a forum, but the dialog is generated from the videos. Sometimes instead of just typing out a text reply to the video, individuals will make a video response and post a video that will respond to the topic mentioned in a video by another person. Within the community you will find people that post tobacco and pipe reviews, cigar reviews, how to videos related to pipes and/or cigars, and sometimes people just create ramble videos.

Those are simply the individual talking into the camera as if they were sitting next to an individual and sharing a pipe and/or cigar with them. There are a lot of people that don’t have the opportunity to have a smoking buddy, so many of us can simulate that by watching the ramble type videos and pretend we are hanging out with said individual. Those types of video’s aren’t for everyone, but some people really enjoy them.

Anyone can join the community, all you have to do is post videos. There are no requirements to join other than to just start posting videos. What kind of videos is up to the individual. For lack of a better term, the community is filled with many “lurkers,” which are individuals that watch the YTPC videos, but don’t actually post videos themselves. Some comment on the videos and some don’t, but they watch to gain knowledge when it comes to pipe/cigar related topics.

Really that’s the whole idea behind the community, to help educate other pipe/cigar smokers with tips/tricks and how to information. For example how to pack a pipe, how to properly light a cigar etc. I started out as a lurker, and began watching how to videos before buying my first pipe. I then continued to watch and found that the community was full of a lot of great people. After watching for about five months I decided to give it a go and post a video. It was really weird just talking into a camera all by myself, but the community was very welcoming.

In the past four years I’ve made some good friends, and have had the pleasure of going to pipe/cigar related events where I’ve been able to meet up with other individuals from the YTPC in person. A lot of us will from time to time talk via Skype or Google+ Hangouts, and via a phone app called Voxer. I regularly talk via Voxer with individuals from Australia, Great Britain, and all across the the US who are a part of the YTPC. So it really is a community that goes beyond just posting how to videos etc.

When did you get into heavy metal? What attracted you to it, and what were your favorites? Do you have a “top ten”?

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest when the Grunge/Alternative Rock scene broke open it was easy to get into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Mud Honey, Soundgarden, etc. After a few years it was clear to me that the scene was dying, and the new bands that were coming out were very stale and provided nothing new. As the casual Hard Rock and Heavy Metal listener I expanded on the Heavy Metal side and I became a huge fan of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath in the mid 90s.

I then got into the Nu-Metal scene, but realized fairly quickly that there was heavier stuff that was better. By the end of the 90s I was getting into more Thrash, outside the Big Four, and into Death Metal and even some Black Metal. As time passed I really came to enjoy the old school Death Metal and Thrash Metal that I missed in the 80s as a young kid and while I was listening to Grunge/Alternative in the early 90s.

Now days I find myself mainly listening to the Traditional Heavy Metal like Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, along with the old school Death Metal bands, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Deicide, Malevolent Creation, and Thrash Metal bands like Overkill, Testament, Exodus, etc. outside the Big Four. I enjoy all varieties of Metal though as you can find me listening to Progressive Metal, Power Metal, Doom, Folk Metal, Black Metal etc. I enjoy all of the sub-genres.

What do you look for in a cigar or pipe tobacco blend? Are some better than others? Are there others you “just like”?

When it comes to cigars I like anything from Mild up to Full bodied, though if I’m having a Full bodied cigar I need to go slow and make sure I have a nice meal before hand otherwise I’ll feel the nicotine punch. I prefer a nice Mild-Medium cigar in the morning with a nice cup of coffee, and in the evening I prefer a nice Medium-Full cigar with a nice ale or some whiskey. My favorite brand of cigar is Romeo Y Julieta, and of those lines I really like the Reserva Real and the classic 1875 line.

As for pipe tobacco, I started off with aromatics like many do. I still enjoy an aromatic from time to time, and if I do have an aromatic its usually in the morning with a cup of coffee. As I got more into pipes I really found that I enjoy English/Balkan blends the most. Typically anything with Latakia, Turkish/Oriental, Virginia and Perique will be a favorite of mine. Looking back on most of my favorite blends, they all have those components to them. I also find that I really enjoy McClelland tobaccos. Not saying they’re better than brands like MacBaren, Cornell & Diehl etc., but I find I really enjoy a lot of the McClelland blends.

What should people know before getting into cigar/pipe smoking? What about before they start listening to heavy metal?

With pipes/cigars… just know that its going to be expensive, especially cigars. A nice cigar here runs $5-9 so the cost can definitely add up. The higher end premium cigars range from $10-15+ so its not cheap at all. That doesn’t include accessories like humidors etc. With pipes and pipe tobacco its not as bad as you can get away with an inexpensive corn cob pipe (which are really good smoking pipes) and some inexpensive bulk blends. Though you can find yourself spending hundreds of dollars on some very nice pipes too, so it can be very costly as well. Then adding tobacco to your tobacco cellar will generate an expense as well. Either way you’re going to be spending some hard earned cash. How far into the hobby you want to go will determine how much money you’re going to invest in the hobby.

Heavy Metal carries a bad stereotype, and the music is viewed by many as a guy standing there screaming into the microphone while the band plays unorganized loud music. Now in some cases that may be true, depends on who you’re listening to, but the professional Metal bands are actually very talented musicians with many playing at a high level. Though most people can’t get past the loud noise. Then there is the typical images of hate and satanism.

Now some bands have this image or have lyrics about these types of messages, but not all bands are that way. There are plenty of Metal bands that sing about a positive message. Its up to the listener to decide their preference. For someone that wants to explore Heavy Metal… go for it! You have to look past the stereotypes. There are all kinds of sub-genre’s of Metal so while one genre may not fit your style another might. Sometimes it takes time to really wrap your head around what you’re listening to as well.

For example the first time I listened to Mercyful Fate (King Diamond), his falsetto singing really threw me off and I was like, “What the heck is this?” I wasn’t ready for it, so I put the album on the shelf for about a year. When I came back to it I was blown away by what i was listening to. Now Mercyful Fate and King Diamond are two of my favorite bands. Sometimes you just need to recognize you’re not ready for something, and instead of just dismissing it, come back to it at a later time. Your outlook may change.

Is there a “generation gap” between older pipe smokers and younger ones regarding the video format? Are there any newer formats that bridge the gap?

The forums are most likely to bridge the gap, because unless an individual shares information about themselves you don’t really know the age of the different individuals. As for YouTube, there are many older pipe smokers that make YouTube videos. It’s not just a young pipe smokers format.

The individuals in the YTPC don’t care if an individual is in their early 20s and just picked up a pipe, or if they’re in their 60s and have been smoking a pipe for 40 years. Everyone interacts with everyone. It’s a great community full of helpful information and individuals that love to share their thoughts on the hobby.

How do you make your videos? About how long does each one take? Does it require special equipment, software or a studio?

I keep it real simple as i do it for fun. If it gets to detailed it becomes a chore and then it’s not fun anymore. When I was doing my Thursday Pipe Chat and my Sunday Evening Cigar series on a weekly basis with editing, I was spending a lot of time on my computer (hours). Now I just use my cell phone which records in HD quality. If I do any editing it can take a little bit of time, but I don’t do that much anymore as I prefer to just click record and stop and then upload. It’s so much more easier. Is the video quality lower?… that’s for the viewer to decide.

If people are interested in what they read here about you, where do they go to find out more and stay on top of your latest doings?

I still chat on the Cigar Geeks forum from time to time, but not as much anymore. I chat on the Pipes Magazine forum on a regular basis currently and of course I’m still making videos for my YouTube channel. I can’t see how anyone would want to keep up with me, as I don’t find myself that entertaining, but if they really want to then the best place is my YouTube channel.

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Krallice – Ygg Hurr (2015)

Krallice - Ygg Hurr (2015)

In one of the greatest misfiles of the 21st century, Krallice was labeled a sort of black metal band despite not even trying to ape the style on even the most basic level. Maybe there’s a few seconds that perfunctorily resemble the sort of chaotic ‘avant-garde’ black metal of a Deathspell Omega or whatever the kids are listening to these days. Krallice pulls more on the lengthy tradition of post-black – playing anything so long as you’re insistent that you’re beyond the juvenilia of the genre and/or that you’re pushing its musical and ideological boundaries. As a result, Ygg Hurr showcases every idea that Krallice’s members must have thought was even marginally cool, without any cohesive logic or anything in the way of quality filtering. Six Sigma this is not.

Every second of Ygg Hurr takes on a different meter, rhythm, tempo, tonality, and so forth. The band members definitely paid attention in their musical theory classes, and attempting to dissect any of the songs here would certainly yield a plethora of technical terms describing these tracks down to the note. It bears noting that compared to many other albums in similar styles, Krallice does not back up this writhing mess with unconventional instrumentation. That they stick to standard rock instrumentation makes this album less of a headache than it might be otherwise, but it further reveals weak production that probably caused a few executives at Profound Lore to tug at their collars. Outside of the record industry, its lack of intensity or at least atmosphere simply makes it even harder to take seriously as a “black metal” album. Calling it mathcore or “progressive” rock might make for more fruitful marketing, but ultimately, Krallice lacks the compositional range to pass for good examples of either.

Ironically, Krallice approaches flatness from the opposite approach of I usually hear. Instead of dwelling on one simplistic idea for an enormous quantity of time, Krallice abandons all their previous concepts like clockwork because it’s already time for the next riff. Constant change unmediated by anything resembling discipline makes for a particularly pseudorandom take on droning boredom, but it’s boredom none the less. This is stunningly reminiscent of the “horseshoe theory” in political science, which states that extreme political leftness and rightness converge more than expected. I don’t actually know or particularly care about any political goals of Krallice (At this point, it’s safer to assume there aren’t any), but my interest in history and especially its political aspects predisposes me to make such a comparison. The ensuing product is as bland as its musically simpler counterparts.

I really need to brush up on my mathematics so I can make a proper reference to deterministic chaos and attractors, but even without such a metaphor it should be apparent that Krallice’s music isn’t very well thought out. They favor what sounds experimental when their time would be better spent taking some of the ideas on display and developing them.

Atomic Aggressor – Sights of Suffering

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Calling a band “technical” — not to be confused with musicianship as popular circles frequently do — creates general indifference among those accustomed to seeing this term used as a selling point. The industry generally uses the term for bands that cannot compose meaningful songs and so encrust them in adornments of musical acrobatics, creating artistic Potemkin villages which offer a cornucopia of musical fireworks on the surface but emptiness beneath. Many believe that musicality is only valid if the artist consciously intended to give the music a certain technical quality. This could not be further from the truth.

The best music has often comes from technically competent artists, but this does not mean that their music is guided by a handbook of rules, but the other way around: they use technical flair to elaborate on the ideas that motivate their music. When an musician has a superior talent for organizing notes into melodies, aligning melodies into harmonies and building sections that flow and speak to one another as seemingly essential parts of a whole, this process can be reverse-engineered by a clever and knowledgeable analyst. But like software reverse engineering itself, we only arrive at technical explanations about the originating commands that give the result its nature, not the programmer’s feelings, train of thought or the content they hope to communicate through their art.

Morbid Angel Altars of Madness is lauded as as a young genius’ masterpiece born out of raging emotion and unprecedented innovation in the then-young genre of death metal. Only new or superficial fans of the genre are oblivious to the achievements of this album that go well beyond mere historical relevance. Whether or not Trey Azagthoth planned each twist with the implied theoretical knowledge behind them is not important, although we can assume he may not have because such fervor as these pieces present is only possible coming from the deepest well of human emotion. Yet scrutinizing of them at several levels reveal logical explanations for the impact, drive and fluid development that they showcase.

As a short example we may take a look at “Chapel of Ghouls”. The song itself can be explained as using E major as its main or home key. As in classical music it ventures into the parallel minor and uses off-key passing tones for color. The most important of this is the fact that the guitars in the recording are tuned in E-flat standard tuning, which means that the repetitive muted strumming of the open low string consists of strumming the D (enharmonic equivalent of E flat) note, the seventh in the scale of E major. This gives the chugs a malevolent and dissonant feel. Another thing that should be mentioned is that the first two riff clusters in Chapel of Ghouls are quite unstable, each being in period form (antecedent and consequent phrases which mirror each other, but only the second one resolving). These riffs do not resolve convincingly (they do not land on either the tonic or the dominant when the consequent cadences), giving these both a satisfying feel and a need to continue and be completely resolved which appears to the listener as a will forward instead of a complete thought. This resolution is achieved on the third riff which finally leads to the tonic, but does not rest there, avoiding the typical full-stop feeling by switching into the relative minor (thereby using a flattened third and sixth which sound like off-key passing tones in the context of the major setting) and syncopating the rhythm while an atonal solo blazes above. And so the song is carried on with the mark of genius that cannot be now denied even by those who do not share a personal preference for the song. The songs in this album are not even remotely atonal or even overall dissonant; they make heavy use of the latter with striking effect while the atonality is reserved for solos which mark peaks and tornadoes of raw emotion that are never out of place here and which seem to be born out of the depths of this music.

Atomic Aggressor Sights of Suffering presents us with something that would be best described as a tribute to Altars of Madness-era Morbid Angel. But unlike Morbid Angel, Atomic Aggressor’s songs do not show Azagthoth’s structural cleverness and talent for directing and channeling emotion unavoidably towards strategic points in the song where powerful emotion surges. In fact, it is because this band is bent on sounding like early Morbid Angel that they are completely oblivious to the subtlety of the original composition and thus just manage to place riff after riff which sound like a more retro (sounding a little on the speed metal side at times) version of who they are trying to imitate. The vocals make this intention to imitate even more palpable not only in terms of the style of the growls but the way certain passages are emphasized or rounded off by grunts which in this far weaker music only manage to sound comical, especially if one is familiar with the original band. There is not much to say about this album because it is no more and no less than a bland, third-rate imitation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Lq2WEqj1o

Calling #metalgate what it is

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We all went to high school. #MetalGate reminds me of those dark days when there were cool kids and un-cool kids, and if you weren’t in the former group you were just nobody.

Growing up with a single Mom who kept our budget tight, I never had the cool clothes. Since I worked after school and then did homework until bedtime, I didn’t know the cool stuff on TV or in movies. Not having been raised around the cool kids, or having a parent with the time or energy to show me how to be “cool,” it never occurred to me to try. And suddenly people were pointing and laughing and then my head was getting bashed into a locker.

When one of these people approached me and started making fun of me, my instinct was to cower away and assume that they knew something I should know which gave them some kind of “authority” in the high school social scene. Over time I realized that this “something” was nothing important, and their real goal was savor the Schadenfreude of making someone else miserable for being who they were. I learned that there is one way to stand up to such people: do not apologize, do not back down, but go straight to the biggest one and hit him as hard as you can. They usually backed down and often apologized after that. I let the matter drop at that point since most of these bullies came from troubled homes: Dad drank too much, Mom ran around with the neighborhood used-car salesman, or there were money troubles. Some of them ended up being lifelong friends, after we settled our differences on the schoolyard.

When I look at #MetalGate, I see a whole industry cowering before these people who want to make metal “socially conscious” and politically correct. We, as metalheads, have refused to call these people what they are, so I will: bullies. They are bullies whose weapon is guilt. In high school, it was guilt for not being “cool.” In the hipster-nerd infested metal scene, it’s guilt for not having the “right” opinions. Haven’t we all matured past this?

Bullies always have a clique. This clique agrees that they are right and everyone else is just not cool enough. They need an excuse that other people will accept for their bullying, so they come up with a reason that sounds good. They do not care if it is true. They just want to rally other people around them who will agree that you deserved getting your head pounded into that locker. Like all cliques, their little group works by every member validating every other. It is the worst aspect of humanity which we saw at the Salem witch trials, at Nuremburg, even in lynch mobs hanging African-Americans. This is the psychology of prejudice, and bullies struggle to conceal their prejudice by arguing that they are defending their ingroup against an outgroup:

What Tajfel discovered is that groups formed on the basis of almost any distinction are prone to ingroup bias. Within minutes of being divided into groups, people tend to see their own group as superior to other groups, and they will frequently seek to maintain an advantage over other groups. – The Psychology of Prejudice, Professor Scott Plous, Wesleyan University

In other words, if you group people together by any arbitrary means they will quickly act like a tribe and enforce their rules on others. This is how bullies operate: they gather together people, offer them entry into an ingroup, but the price for that entry is that they must join in the bullying of the outgroup… and so kids get heads slammed into their lockers for wearing cardigan sweaters (hey, it was a hand-me-down) which is totally uncool.

The #MetalGate people, who I am told call themselves “Social Justice Warriors” or SJWs, are bullies of this type. They will claim they are against prejudice, but really what this means is that they are using that argument to conceal their own prejudice. They just want someone to bully. The reason is probably the same as with the high school bullies, which is that their lives are miserable and they want to take out their frustration and anger on others. This pattern occurs time and again, with the most famous being the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC):

On August 19, 1985, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee of the United States Senate opened public hearings intended to gather expert testimony on “the content of certain sound recordings and suggestions that recording packages be labeled to provide a warning to prospective purchasers of sexually explicit or other potentially offensive content.” Widely known as “The PMRC Hearings” after the acronym of an independent group—the Parents Music Resource Council—advocating for the “voluntary” adoption of warning stickers on record albums whose lyrics it deemed to be offensive, the hearings did not, in fact, end up leading to any kind of legislative action.

This group also wanted to bully metal because they were looking for a scapegoat for what they saw as a decline in public morality. They figured they could pick on metalheads because we are not the wives of Senators, we may not have education and money, and we are prone to be silent when society bullies us. But metalheads stood up against them, whopped them in the nose, and refused to take it. Another group of bullies back in the 1980s were the Dead Kennedys fans who decided that Slayer was really, really bad for singing (with clear disapproval) about Auschwitz and the horrors of the Holocaust. “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” was their theme song and they used this as an excuse to beat on random fans wearing Slayer tshirts. Punk had just gone through its own #PunkGate at that point, I guess, and the politically correct people came out on top.

There are plenty of groups of bullies in metal today. The pretentious hipsters who think you are unenlightened if you do not “appreciate” Deafheaven are one, and so are the people who think that if you are not a full-on SJW you are a bad person. So are the “tryhards” who insist they support diehard underground music but use that as an excuse to troll anyone who does not exclusively listen to three-chord Blasphemy or Incantation clones. In each group, the solution is the same: tell them where they can shove their pretense and guilt because you know their secret, which is that they are just bullies.

The difference with SJWs is that they act like they are revolutionaries who are re-educating us in important topics. But guess what, guys: you are not disenfranchised anymore. You get positive press and in fact most of you work in the press. The US government agrees with you, as does the UN. Your ideas are not revolutionary because they are the norm. Like most bullies, you are cloaking yourselves in the ideals of the mainstream in order to punish us outliers. This is no different than what happened in the Soviet Union or Nazi regime, where people who “thought differently” got shot at dawn. You are the new Nazis.

Metal should fight back because metal should not become a vehicle for the control agenda of any group. Metal is its own group, and people police this because we know that many other groups would like to assimilate us and use us for their own purposes. It has been tried before, with hard rock in the 1970s, punk in the 1980s, and now post-punk in the 2000s. Like all bullies, they want to stop us from being different and make us more like them, which is to say the bog-standard generic mainstream. Their bands are all second-rate and their ideas warmed over slogans from the 1960s. Metalheads should feel no guilt about acting in our own self-interest, which is to keep our music away from this group of bullies and refuse to let them dominate us.

October 22nd & 24th, 2009 – Calling of the Satanachian Storms

Hellfires were set loose in Helsinki, Finland last weekend by a horde of black metal maniacs from all over the Earth. Profanation, an intangible feeling of myth, alignment of spirits, pervaded the atmosphere. Let me remind you that while the gig situation concerning underground black and death metal in Finland is rich and fertile, every so-called cult band appearing on stage is no longer going to change anyone’s life to something more mysterious and powerful. Maybe the younger audience sees the matter differently, but I believe they are becoming jaded also. This weekend was something different however. The main event was the 2-day Black Flames of Blasphemy fest, on 23rd and 24th, the Friday night featuring Taake and Horna, among others, but I wasn’t attending, on one hand because of a lack of interest regarding the bands, on the other because I could use one spare night between the “pre-party” on 22th (aptly called “Unholy Night to Remember”) and the Saturday explosion featuring bands of the caliber of Blasphemy and Revenge from Canada.

The dark side of Finland

So, it all started on a rainy and windy Thursday night, in a small Helsinki pub called Darkside which I had only visited once before, when it was empty. No-one was expecting a large crowd because normal people would have jobs and studies to attend to, but the place was crowded and intense. Demonos of Barathrum, the drunken bastard, was shouting at the doorman and people were consuming beer like it was the eve of ragnarók. In that one room of a few hundred cubic meters had been compressed all the dreams and neuroses of Finnish black metal since its very beginning. Even Pete Helmkamp came around to see for himself what the fuck was going on. Ofdoom, a Blasphemy clone from Hamina whose members are barely 18 years old, played a reasonably aggressive set of uncannily familiar sounding songs. I am thankful that at least the cover song choice was “Christ’s Death” by Sarcofago instead of something from the war metal scene. Many of the old school maniacs I met applauded the energy and sincerity these young guys brought to the evening. However, I was more thrilled by the Goatmoon set that saw the audience become a rioting mass of fists and headbanging. The garage punks of Finnish black metal, Goatmoon unleashed a set of familiar songs from their albums mostly resembling a triumphantly melodic cross of Dimmu Borgir demos and Absurd, not to mention an enormously provocative cover from Finnish RAC band Mistreat.

But the real reason why everybody was there that night, the crux of all the anticipation and nervous violence was the return of the infamous Azazel on stage, an early Finnish black metal coven lost to annals of history but fondly remembered by everyone who breathed the air of 90′s Finland, when worship of darkness was still pure and cold… clad in spikes. Stories about Azazel and their infamous frontman Lord Satanachia are equivalent to an inverted saga, one of madness and devotion. For a decade the band was forgotten until suddenly it seemed to have reformed in alliance with some members from young occult metal band Charnel Winds. It all seemed unbelievable and to see it with one’s own eyes… triumph!

It wasn’t a surprise to anyone that an Azazel gig might prove to be a disaster, in normal sense. Enveloped in the mists and throes of an ancient curse, the guitarist’s malfunctioning equipment threw the disorganized band from the brink of a metaphorical cliff into the abyss, to be carried upon the wings of Death. While Demonos threw himself from the audience into the stage in an alcoholic spasm, wires were torn, microphones were ripped and fists started flying. Part of the equipment was mute, the rhythm section was confused and Satanachia’s croaks were barely audible chants and incantations of demonic names. A morbid pall descended upon Helsinki. In anti-arranged structures of primitive, broken black metal, Azazel mocked everything and everyone. Brilliant and beautiful riffs, performed at variable and confused speeds, interlocked with rhythms and blasts whose randomness remained cryptically problematic. No-one knew if the songs are actually like this or have all the members gone insane. The most sensitive part of the crowd was devastated and ultimately impressed. Others were bored and drunk. Enough said about that evening except that I doubted even Saturday can give a more authentic black metal experience, because for the rest of the night and the next day, Azazel’s psychosis was still deeply within my heart.

The church of blasphemy

Saturday night was again cloaked in the weather of Jack the Ripper’s London. Through the rain we approached the ominously titled Dante’s Highlight, converted from an old church on whose steps Mannerheim and Hitler had shaken hands in a pact of war. It served as a normal nightclub until a few years ago it became one of the prominent metal bars of Helsinki. We have no knowledge how much blasphemous intent influenced its current use, but it was something to see candles and torches lighting the altar (stage), bestowing a comforting, cavernous gleam upon the high ceiling and reflecting from the chain-wrapped wooden posts adorned with gasmasks. The gig organizers par excellence Kold Reso Kvlt had taken lots of care in making this event perfect, as it was also the destination of a veritable exodus of German, French, Italian and other foreign black and death metal fans.

Proclamation from Spain launched into formally perfect, yet somehow vague and heartless Blasphemy aping primitive death metallic sounds and while the gig was technically the dream of your standard NWN forum fan, it raised apprehension that this is going to be an evening where every band sounds the same and everyone plays a Blasphemy cover! There was still some space to move around the building but despite three floors, it was rapidly becoming claustrophobic and difficult to breathe. The gig had been sold out ages ago. Black Witchery from Florida, USA, specialized in repetitive high speed exercise of redundant riffs, which despite its great marketing value to black metal consumers lacks the spiritual depth and intellectual convolution of the high masters of the genre. To anyone who has heard a Black Witchery album or two it was easy to guess what the gig is all about and for their fans, they probably did deliver the goods. I liked a few of the atonal, destructive, confusional parts that reminded me of the greatness of the Australian disbanded legend Bestial Warlust.

By the time the third band, Archgoat from Turku, Finland, commenced their set, the full force of the Finnish metal scene had already coalesced upon the building and for anyone who knows people or is known himself, much time and attention had to be spent on greetings, handshakes, throwing the horns, mock fighting and the like. However, the atmosphere was also rapidly gaining a more intense, expectant and noxious odour. Screams, blood and bursts of madness spattered the overcrowded club. Between pockets of peace, chaos reigned, the passing of souls from one layer of Hell to another, brother and enemy united in prayers of profanation. While for some people the grinding, organic and physical malevolence of Archgoat marked their best gig ever, I say the 2005 comeback gig after a decade of silence still holds the scepter. Heavily influenced by VON and Sarcofago, Archgoat was the first band of the evening to capture a cold, theatrical melody and frame the counterpoints of primitive death metal riffs with heavy, well placed doom. It was the only performance of the evening whose spine was not hardened by monotonous speed. Instead, it slithered up the walls like a serpent of abomination.

Nature’s revenge

Amidst beer, guts and blood, headbanging Italians and Finns going mad over the controversies and abstractions of the night’s leading band (“Are Blasphemy real, do they really exist?” “Is that negro over there Caller of the Storms?”) everyone who was ever famous in Finnish black metal walked entranced amidst the crowd, as one with the spiritually dead. Black metal skinheads went out for a smoke and traded with kebab and banana merchants around the corner. Someone’s face was fisted and another got a kiss from a new girl.

Revenge, the Canadian commando force, was for some members of the audience the main event to witness here and for a good reason. By the unholy candles’ light, between the walls built to serve God, James Read attacked the drumkit like a voodoo priest releasing magick vapours of steaming ether, in a sharp and fluid tribute to grindcore percussion masters. In a battle position, in the attire of a right wing street fighter, Helmkamp’s fingers tore thrash influenced phrases from the trusty bass guitar as he used to do already decades ago in Order from Chaos, while his sharp intonation revealed the lyrics be less a narration, more a ritual chant of words whose meaning and connotation have been obvious to warriors for millennia: “traitor”, “victory”, “blood”, “conquest”, “force”, “survival”. The robotic, inhumanly precise ability of the three musicians to control chaos resulted in the most impressive technical display of the evening. It caused uncertainty and fear. What can even the mighty Blasphemy do after this 100-percent martial art display of perfect war metal kata forms?

Luckily we didn’t need to wait very long until Black Winds and co. gave us the answer. As a storm of the angels of apocalypse and doom, this noisy but influential group of Canadians were far from any kind of perfection in their music. They appeared as in constant battle, a crackling terror of violent audial force, ripping and rending the soundscape of world without end. Dramatic and physical, it seemed as if the walls are about to collapse. Black Winds seemed at times lost, at others frenzied and focused. Strong war screams arose from his throat in defiance to heavens. Caller of the Storms didn’t play his guitar, he molested its corpse. A gargantuan sized session bassist filled the forefront and provided background vocals. Ryan Förster of Conqueror played second guitar wearing a gasmask. Original drummer 3 Black Hearts of Damnation and Impurity pulsed, leaped and attacked with his beats as lightning that strikes amidst a raging storm. It wouldn’t be correct to say the band was in top form, or something. The band was a force of nature, a mission of war that happened on stage. It didn’t compete with the musical precision and finesse of Revenge. It maimed the listeners with its droning and anti-sacred frequencies into submission, obeisance and ultimately an intuitive sense of the laws of nature. Cosmos, life, nature is about war. That’s what war metal and Blasphemy is about. The order of things, as it is, revealed in chaos. The highest principle of art, which is truth. Rarely, in years of seeing the finest of the bands perform on stage, have I been filled with such a calm, inspired joy as in the midst of this night’s rendition of “War Command”.

Thus, I have witnessed two of the finest evenings of black metal this year. I give my highest and sincere thanks to individuals who year after year, day after day, spend their attention and hard work to organize cultural events of the highest magnitude, even while they will never be as celebrated for their work as even mediocre bands are. Flyers and ads already promise interesting happenings for next year, so for now, I still very much enjoy living in this Northern land of bloody lakes and corpse-strewn woods!

Interview: Turner Scott Van Blarcum (Talon, Sedition, Pump’n Ethyl)

From 1986 through the early 90s Turner Scott Van Blarcum was easily the most recognizable, outspoken, memorable, and talked about local singer and figure of that that era. During those years Sedition became one of DFW’s earliest underground-breaking Metal bands as they helped this area’s Metal scene reach an all-time peak. I sat down with Turner one afternoon in March at the Bar Of Soap and we reminisced about those good ole band days he experienced with Talon, Sedition and Pump’n Ethyl. We even rapped about his enormous bone collection that would lead to him designing stage sets for the bands Ministry and Cypress Hill. He also talked in depth about that infamous night back in 1991 when he had an unforgettable confrontation with Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain (RIP) at Trees in Deep Ellum.

When did you first get into metal? What were some of the early bands that were an influence on you?

I was listening to Black Sabbath and Kiss and this and that. But, fucking… I gotta give props to Casey Orr man. Rigor Mortis dude… Haha! He turned me on and fuckin’ got me going… opened my mind up. That’s when we all started fuckin’ getting harder and faster.

Right, I agree… I mean I was always into the older stuff, too, until I started hanging around with those guys.

Yeah man, he turned me on to Motorhead, Riot, and Destruction and a lotta bands. Hey, Rigor Mortis is my influence.

So I know you were a drummer there for a while. Were you ever actually in any bands?

Oh yeah man, I played in bands. I played with my brother’s country bands. Me and Mike Scaccia did this uh… I think it was… I can’t think of the guy’s name. But anyway, we played with this Elvis impersonator cat. It never got off the ground… but that was about it.

Ok, so I remember it was probably around 1984 when you moved over there off of Hard Rock Road in Irving. You formed a new band with brothers Pete (guitar) and Phil (drums) Lee. Hard Rock Road became the temporary name for the band. That was when you first decided to become a singer. Do you remember what made you just say, “Man, it’s my turn to get up there and I wanna become a front man.”?

Well, I think I came to the rationalization that I was a shitty drummer… and I wasn’t getting any pussy… Hahaha! I figured I might get laid if I started singing…. Hahaha!

Y’all started out playing mainly covers in that band right? Like Alice Cooper, Steppenwolf and Black Sabbath right?

Yeah and Dio, Iron Maiden, and then we started doing Metallica right when Metallica started fucking poppin’.

Do you remember when y’all decided to change the name of the band from Hard Rock Road to Talon and started working on original songs?

Yeah, that was the high point. That was probably one of the best gigs we did, man. We opened up for you guys at New Year’s Evil … with Gammacide, Morbid Scream… I got the flier still on the wall. Anyway, we changed the name to Talon in 86/87. We were still doing covers but fuckin’ uh… ya know we started writing original music. But by the time Sedition rolled around it was all originals.

I know you started with Pete Lee (guitar) and Phil Lee (drums) and then you added Eddy Carter (bass), right?

Yeah, Eddie Carter was the original bass player. Then we got some kid… red-haired kid from Waco named Scott something… that was near the end of it. And Mike Dunn on drums, I forgot Mike Dunn joined up after Phil left… ya know everybody fell apart.

When you guys decided to change the name to Talon and go heavier, that was around the same time period after Slayer’s “Reign In Blood” came out and the underground thrash scene was starting to kick in. So do you think you guys were at the right age and right there at the right time to go along with that movement? Would you agree with that?

Oh fuck yeah… we fell right on in man. Also, Punk Rock started crossing over into metal… D.R.I. and all of that.

You released a demo under the name of Talon. What were some of the songs, lyrics and subjects on that demo?

I wrote one about Charles Manson. “Summer Of Hate” was the name it. There’s lines like uh… I actually took it from the actual words of Charles Manson right… that book about him talking about himself. {Doing an impression of Manson with his voice… Turner then begins to give me some lines from the song} “At the age of thirteen I raped the Preacher’s daughter and choked her little brother for snitching on me.” … Hahaha and that kind of shit. One song Pete Lee did called “Pestilence” was bad ass… he sang on that one. We were fuckin’ writing about all kinds of crazy shit. We didn’t start getting political until Sedition hit. That’s when we started seeing everything.

I am sure you remember the Deep Ellum scene back around that time. It was a lot different than it is today. There was a big Punk scene going on in some areas. There were also the more trendy types of bands like Edie Brickel and The New Bohemians in other parts of Deep Ellum. But there was no metal scene at all at the time. What are some of your memories back then as metal first started making its way into Deep Ellum?

Shit man, I will never forget the first time I saw Rigor Mortis play at the Circle A Ranch, man. That was before you joined the band and it was still a three-piece band. Man, that night was just intense, ya know? I had never seen all of that shit before. It blew my mind. I knew I was at home. That was when me and Mark Oberlander (RIP) started doing a sound company and running sound down there. But the most intense show that I saw was Rigor Mortis and Samhain. When Rigor Mortis played the cops showed up. The cops were outside busting everybody. Then when Samhain came on and they had two songs left, the cops came in fully armed, riot gear, Batman shields, all that shit and they stopped the show. But I have to say the best one we ever did was with you guys at the Arcadia Theater man… New Year’s Evil. That was the bomb! Do you remember that guy Gonzo? That was his nickname… we can say this because that was his nickname. He came up to me that night and said, “Man, I sold over 350 hits of acid tonight. We’re gonna have one hell of a party… I made a lot of money!” I was like, “Right on, now I can fuck with these motherfuckers.” It was fun man… that was the bomb back then. That was a great gig too, man. That night… fuckin’ Mike and Casey came up and played and Phil Lee sang a GG Allin song… “Now We’re All Gonna Die”.

Do you remember when and why you decided to change the name from Talon to Sedition?

Yeah, because when we released the Talon cassette there was a band in Europe called Talon. That’s when me and Pete Lee got our publishing company set up and we were trying to get the name copyrighted. Then we found out somebody else had already released a record under the name… some Glam band from Germany or something. So we had to change the name and the name Sedition just fit, because during this time period, ya know, Ronald Reagan was fucking things up and it was just a mess. It was time to secede. I used to say, “Man, if Texas would secede from the Union, I would fight every day and wouldn’t take a lunch break… Hahaha!”

After the band changed the name, you recorded two demos as Sedition, right?

Yeah, that was in ’87 and we recorded it out in our driveway in a mobile studio. To me the first Sedition tape… we call it “Sedition White”… because it was white and just said “Sedition”. That had only like 4 or 5 songs on it… that tape was the bomb to me. It had “Road Kill” on it, “Sedition”, “Product of Your Faith” and uh… I can’t remember the rest of ’em. Anyway, that was the shit! The second demo we did at Crystal Clear Studio with Keith Rust. I think that was also in ’87 around the same time period. We didn’t last very long, ya know? It sure seemed like a long time though.

When did Mike Dunn come into the band and replace Phil Lee on the drums?

That was in 87′ after Phil left. Mike Dunn did all of the Sedition stuff. Eddie Carter (Bass) was on the Talon and both Sedition demos. Then he quit ’cause him and Pete were fightin’ man, ya know? That was the whole deal. That is why Phil quit too… his brother… Hahaha! And that’s why I quit too! You can print that. I don’t give a fuck.

People fear death even more than pain. It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over.

– Jim Morrison (The Doors)

How would you describe yourself back then as a singer and your stage persona?

Pissed off… Hahahaha! Pissed off, man… but having fun, though… fuck we had a blast back then. I don’t know man… it’s kind of hard to say. I know that at that time period, man, music was changing… there was change in the air. Punk Rock was crossing over into Speed Metal… Speed Metal was crossing over into Punk Rock. Yeah, I’d say I was pretty pissed off. I didn’t like what was going on with the government and to this day I don’t. I definitely had an attitude back then… Hahaha!

You used to take knives or swords or both on stage back then and cut your arms during the show. Was that something you thought about doing or did it just come out one night on stage?

No, actually, man, where I got that from is fuckin’ I remembered when Mike Scaccia and Rigor played at the Circle A Ranch, Mike carved an A on his arm. No, I’m sorry, somebody else did it to him. I thought… “Man… Fucking A!” Then, ya know, we all carved A’s on our arms. Then we started playing Tick Tack Toe… me and Big Jim Dolan, we were always playing with knives, man, ya know? Back then… do you remember that shit, man? … if it was your birthday everybody got beat to ever how old you were. Dog piled… taking a beatin’… playing Tick Tack Toe with knives…that’s where it all started. But carving an anarchy symbol on my arm, that’s where my mind was, ya know? Anarchy… and it’s still there too. It’s just the difference is… I’ve mellowed out a lot. Hey, you gotta pass the guns down and let somebody else do it. Let some young bucks come up and kick some ass!

What are some of your best memories of that time-period back then and some of your favorite places you played at?

Man, I thought the Tombstone Factory… regardless of what everyone wants to say about Jerry Warden… that was the shit! That was about as close as fuckin’ gettin’ to Hardcore… Punk Rock… Metal as you can get, man… and I fuckin’ dug it. It was alive… it was fun, and man… fucking hot chicks… it was all good… Hahaha!

It seemed like there was always some crazy shit happening at shows back then. Is there any wild shit that happened at any of y’alls shows that really stands out in your mind?

Well, not that much with Sedition, but with everybody else…Hahaha! What I would say sticks out in my mind is when that motherfucker stabbed you in the back at fuckin’ Goddamn Joe’s Garage. That was pretty much the highlight and the peak of stupidity.

Yeah, it was… and Harden getting stabbed that night too and also Dave Spivey. Y’all beat the shit out of that dude that did it and Shane ran over him in his truck… remember? Hahaha… That was some crazy shit…

Hahah… That was it… that was the highlight.

{After pondering for a second to realize how funny it is that my highlight in life was almost getting murdered… I continue with the interview} Soooo… when and why did Sedition come to an end?

I had had enough… I couldn’t fuckin’ take it no more. We couldn’t replace Eddy Carter. The truth of the matter was, when Eddy Carter and Phil Lee quit the band, that was it. That was the band. And everybody had problems with Pete Lee because of his attitude and this and that. There was no replacing Eddy Carter and the reason why he quit was that Pete was all about money. And what money? What money did we make? It was all about writing the music and whose name was gonna be on what. Ya know, when ya cut it down like that… I mean… it was just stupid… so Eddy quit. After Eddy, there was no replacing the guy… same way with Phil. Well, Mike Dunn filled Phil Lee’s shoes… big time! ‘Cause we were going in the direction of getting faster. But after Eddy quit, it just got stupid and I had enough of it, so I quit. That was in ’89 when everything busted up. The last gig that we did was with Agony Column and Dead Horse at Trees. Remember the big fight broke out? Out front with all the skinheads and all that shit and I was up there on stage getting a blowjob from a titty dancer. Please print that… thank you very much… Hahaha!

Did you ever get any label interest before the band broke up?

Oh, yeah. Oh, hell yeah, man. Metal Blade… man we were big overseas… we sold more tapes overseas, ya know… underground shit. And Hell…fuckin’ over here ya didn’t have enough to get a Popcorn fart, ya know?

Speaking of Dead Horse… what are some of the other bands that you guys did shows with back then?

Oh man, we had a blast. We had a blast playing with you guys. As far as local guys, we played with Gammacide, Rigor Mortis, Arcane, Utopia, Bliss, Shitface. Like as far as opening for major bands… Flotsam and Jetsam, Suicidal Tendencies, Circle Jerks and D.R.I. Yeah, it was a blast… you should have been there, kiddies!

After a few years away from being in bands you started singing for a Punk band called Pump’n Ethyl in the 90s. How did that band come together?

Well, man, I got sobered up, I quit drinking. I’d went out on the road with Ministry in ’91 and ’92 during the Lollapalooza and Psalm 69 tours and I about drank myself to death. I mean I had the time of my life… no regrets… it was a blast, man. Fuckin’ money was rollin’, hot chicks, the whole Rock N Roll package. But when I got off the road and got sobered up, I was itchin’ to play. Pete Lee and Casey Orr were playing with GWAR by then and they played at Dallas City Limits. It was after Pete Lee got shot and they did a benefit for him. Some crackhead shot him in a car or something. Anyway, I got up on stage and sang with The V Suckers… with Hank Tolliver… the future guitar player of Pump’n Ethyl. I got up there and sang a song with them and we did “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “Cherry Bomb”. And man, it just felt so fucking cool just to be able to play again, because I hadn’t played in so long. I had got burned-out on it and I went out and did other things, ya know? So we started doing Punk Rock. Ya know, I just caught the tail end of Punk Rock… I got the see the Circle Jerks, Dead Kennedys, Exploited and this and that. But I wasn’t a Punk Rocker back then, man… I was a Metalhead and still am. But fuckin’ we started doing this Punk Rock stuff, and man, I just dug it. It was a total different thing. Instead of being agro or fighting, man, we were up there partying and throwing beer on everybody. And man, fuckin’ I got more pussy in that band than I did in Sedition…Hahaha!

I remember the band was originally called Ethyl Merman. How did you come up with that name and what year was the band actually formed?

Ethyl Merman started up in ’94 and that was a blast. We couldn’t come up with a fuckin’ name. We had beaten ourselves up for a name. And I had been working out, I’d gone sober and quit drinking. As you can see, under this party ball there is a 6 pack, but I was working out and wasn’t drinking then because my liver had gotten fucked up. But I am alright now… knock on wood. Anyway, we was watching “It’s A Mad Mad Mad World”… Jonathan Winters. We thought about calling the band Jonathon Winters. But we were making a joke about Ethel Merman. Ethel Merman was starring in the movie too, and I was singing like Ethel Merman, ya know… I can sing that song “I Don’t Wanna Go To The Betty Ford Clinic” like Ethel Merman… Hahaha! So we decided to go with that name, and we never thought in a million years that anybody would give a shit. We never thought in a million years that anybody would ever give a shit… PERIOD… about this band… and then we get signed… ya know? With Sedition, we fuckin’ya know, Goddamn did everything we could do to get signed. Then we form a band and nobody gives a fuck, it’s all a joke, then we get signed…Haha! And we got fucked on that deal too!

When the band got signed y’all had to change the name from Ethyl Merman to Pump’n Ethyl, right?

Yeah, we had to change the name because the estate of Ethel Merman was gonna sue the record label… or whatever the hell David Dennard was lying about.

What was the name of the label you signed with?

It was Dragon Street Records. It should be called Draggin’ Feet, is actually what it should be called. When we put our second record out he [David] goes, “Man, this is punkier than the first.” I was like, “Punkier? Like Punky Brewster? What do you mean ‘punkier’, man?” It was heavier, it was harder, and it was faster, ya know? It was more metal, ya know. So come out and say it. But he didn’t. And that album was called “Lone Star Police State”. And there are only a few of those still floating around. In which, eventually I’ll have a web site going and I’m gonna release all the Sedition, Talon and everything we’ve done… get it out.

You had 2 releases under Pump’n Ethyl and when were those released?

Actually three… The Ethyl Merman demo in ’94, Pump’n Ethyl’s “Thank God I’m Living In The U.S.A” in ’95 and “Lone Star Police State” in 97. To me, that was the fuckin’ shit! Hank Tolliver, Mark Schafer and Phil Lee… I mean it was like playing with MC5 or something. It was a lot of fun, man.

What are some of the cooler bands that Pump’n Ethyl did gigs with and did the band ever tour?

The best one we did was with Fear. We played with Fear, Rich Kids On LSD, Suicidal Tendencies and Chaos UK. We did a southern tour but we never got it off the ground. It was like a Bat bouncing its butt trying to get off the ground ya know? Bad luck was hittin’ every angle on that aspect. But you can still get Pump’n Ethyl’s “Thank God I’m Living In The U.S.A” off the internet on the Dragon Street web site. But, like I said though… we’ll be releasing our own shit soon enough.

Why did Pump’n Ethyl come to end?

Oh man, it was a fuckin’ freight train of doom… Hahaha! Everybody was all fucked up on drugs and alcohol except for me and Hank… we were sober. And the other two were all a mess and it just fell apart, ya know? Nobody gave a shit. Actually it came to an end in ’99 when me and my bro Larry Rosales were working WWF and got blown up by a concussion bomb explosion, so I had to step down. I got tinnitus in the ears from it, so I can’t do live music anymore. I can do voiceovers and I can do stuff in the studio, but you know that doesn’t come very often with Hardcore music. Because nobody has the money for that kind of shit, unless you’re fortunate enough to have friends in a rock band that’s making money. So I quit because my ears were racked and hopefully we’ll go to court and settle up. And start a management company, is what I’d like to do.

But currently, you are working on doing some vocals for a Blues project, right?

Yeah I’m doing some vocals for a guy named Jack Morgan. His project is called Whip N Shack and Hank Tolliver is playing in it. I’m sorry I don’t remember everybody’s names that are involved in this, but there are some heavy hitters from the 80s and 70s… guys that fell through the cracks. What this guy is doing is he is giving everybody a CD of his music to different musicians of different genres. I was honored, ya know. I couldn’t believe that he handed me one because I don’t have the blues. But this sounds like The Doors meets ZZ Top. Ya know, it’s faster. It’s not really Blues… it’s heavy Rock N Roll, rhythm Rock ‘N Roll, I guess. But it’s kind of hard to describe… it’s different and it’s good… I’ll tell ya that. But uh… he handed it out to different musicians and everybody is gonna do their mix on it and apparently he liked what I had the chance to do, ya know. I wrote three songs for him… one is about gambling, one is about a whiskey drinking woman and the other one is about about stepping up to bat… ya know?

So what are you doing for a living these days?

Man, I am doing the same thing I’ve been doing since you met me, man… doing stage work. But I finally joined the union back in ’87… a union stagehand. I’ve got a union card and I’ve worked with all kinds of bands. Nearly every band that’s came through Texas I’ve worked for.

How did you get started collecting bones and did that lead to you designing sets for Ministry and Cypress Hill?

That all started as a kid… I found a Beaver skull in Colorado. But in Talon and Sedition we were doing a song called Road Kill and I’d take actual road kill and throw it on the crowd. Ya know, I had bones and I would tie it on everything. And then when Mike… when Rigor Mortis disbanded… Mike hooked up with Ministry, they were saying, “Man, this crazy fuck has got all of these bones”, and this and that. So I did their set for Lollapalooza. Then that took off and I did a set for Cypress Hill. I did their set and I did their video set for the “Insane In The Membrane” video. Then I did the Psalm 69 tour with Ministry, and now I’m doing their new tour. I don’t know the name of the record, but ya know we’ve been listening to the new music today… and it’s off the hook!! Oh man, the new Ministry is off the fucking hook! They got John Monte from Mindfunk, the bass player… this guy is incredible. They might have Scott Ian from Anthrax, I am not sure if that’s the lineup or not. But [Dallas native] Mike Scaccia is on guitar, Al Jourgensen is on guitar and vocals, Mark Baker is on drums and Kol Marshall is on keyboards. I am gonna make this set so fucking creepy, ya know, you guys gotta come see it. I don’t wanna describe it… just come out and see it. And you definitely gotta buy the new Ministry record, man. I mean it’s the dawning of a new era in Punk Rock/Metal. It’s like MC5 meets Iggy Pop meets Rigor Mortis… BAM!! I mean right in your face when you hear it. Anybody that’s into Metal and into Speed Metal that knows about Rigor Mortis and knows about where Metal came from is gonna dig the shit out of this, man. It’s off the fucking hook!!

From what I have heard I agree. So do you know how many bones are in your collection, and what are some of the wilder bones that you have?

Oh man, I gotta shit-load of bones… never enough. On the way up to El Paso going to the Sonic Ranch where Ministry and Mike Scaccia from Rigor Mortis are recording their shit, I found a Bobcat, and the head on this Bobcat is the size of the head on my Pit Bull named “Pardner”… man, wait until you meet him.

Now I wanna hear your side of the story about the Kurt Cobain incident at Trees in 91.

Nooo problem! I was doubling and doing security for Trees, plus I was working for Creyton from Peak Audio. And he just got this brand new monitor board… paid 45 hundred bucks for it… state of the art shit and he was so proud of it… so happy with it, ya know? And then Nirvana shows up, and I remember I had worked one of their shows at Club Clearview. And I didn’t realize that they were that big. This was when they were just starting to take off. And I remember the record “Bleach” was bad ass, ya know? And believe it or not, I liked Nirvana. I liked their music. But the guy was a fuckin’ jack-off… but he was off, and he’s dead… God rest his soul. Ya know, I hate to talk shit about a dead man.

Yeah, I know. But of course you had no idea when this happened that he was gonna commit suicide later.

No, I had no idea what was gonna happen later. Anyway, that night he smashed the monitor board and he beat it with his guitar. He just smashed it and broke the guy’s hand… his own monitor man. First he was complaining that the kids were all over the stage. So they wanted me to double as security to help keep the kids off the stage. I made a lot of money that night… Haha! And then he got mad at his monitor man and smashed the monitor board, and then he jumped out into the crowd. Well, he had smashed the monitor board and I couldn’t believe he did it. So, ya know, I’m standing there and Creyton comes up to me… the owner… and he’s like, “Turner, what fuck!?” I was like, “Man, don’t worry about it… these guys aint getting out of here without paying for it. Ya know, even if I have to personally whoop all of them… because I am pretty sure I could take ’em all on… ya know?” But anyway the little bastard fuckin’ dove out into the crowd and was kicking his feet into the monitors. And I yanked him up by the hair of his head and tried to pick him up and throw him back on stage. And the kids were pulling his clothes off… they had a hold of his hair… everybody’s ripping on him. Right then the little fucker hit me on the head with a guitar. After he did that it knocked me out, so now I am going by the video footage. It knocked me out and I pulled back a handful of strings off his guitar. But he gets up and ya know, I see the blood on my head… so I fucking nailed his ass and kicked him. I think I kicked him in the head…to be honest I couldn’t tell if I had landed a good kick or not. But I waited in a parking lot afterwards for his ass when they were about to leave. Russell Turns is the monitor man down there… I think he’s the sound man now… I don’t know. He came up and said, “Turner, he’s going out back!” So I go running around the back and I hear… “Get in… get in cab… GET IN THE CAB!!” Ya know, they’re telling him to get in the cab and all these people just dog pile me man, and hold on to me. And I was watching the cab go and he was trying to get on Elm Street and I see the brake lights and the cab stop. So I go, “It’s cool… it’s cool, man…I’m alright… I’m alright… I’m dizzy.” Because I was bleeding profusely from the head. So uh… when they let go of me I went running across parked cars and I went over there and started kicking the cab and I kicked the taillights and headlight out of the cab. My plan… my objective… to take control of the situation… like our Nazi President George Bush does. And I was gonna kick the headlights out… and get the cab driver out… kick his ass… get the keys and then start workin’. Well, that didn’t work and I’m runnin’ around and there were a bunch of kids with us, too. I can’t remember this kid’s name, but he had real long hair… a Hispanic kid… a heavy metal kid… and he was right there, man. I wish I could remember his name. Man, I punched that cab’s window and it fell. I went right though it on top of them.

You smashed the cab’s windshield with your hand and what was Kurt Cobain doing?

Yeah, I went right through it… I mean I went in… all the way. He gave me a peace sign and that’s when I said… “Fuck it!” That mad me so fucking mad, I went through the window on him. I bit his nose, man… Haha…and I fuckin’ had his nose in my teeth and I’m telling him that I’m gonna walk through his dreams until he’s fucking dead… right. And everybody pulled me off of him and I got out of there unscathed. I thought I was gonna get sued by… I kept receiving letters from Geffen Records… this and that ya know and I’d throw them away. Then I talked to Jeff Liles… Jeff Liles, ya know the guy that worked with Rigor Mortis. He wrote this real sweet juicy letter to Geffen. And I kept thinking they were gonna sue me. Well, they sent me three grand to shut me up… and I wasn’t about suing this guy… I didn’t give a fuck… I wouldn’t piss on him if he was on fire.

Didn’t the video end up on one of those tabloid talk shows like Inside Edition or Hard Copy or something?

I have no idea… I know that asshole… well, the jerky that filmed it… I gave him a reenactment. I can’t remember his name… oh yeah… Brad Featherstone. I gave him a bitch-slap… fuckin’ when I saw him. He’d released it without telling me nothing … ya know? All I know is the next thing I know it’s being shown in Deep Ellum. It got released… all that kind of crap… because of that Brad Featherstone guy… I gave him a good slap. I wish I had some royalties off of it, I’ll tell ya that. I’d like to see… well somebody’s got footage of me pumping the window out… I’d like to see that… I don’t know who has it.

It looks like you landed a couple of good punches in the video… and he went down.

Yeah, I clocked him one good one…I didn’t throw it off the hip or off the shoulder…if you see it you can see… I was out…he knocked me out… I didn’t remember doing any of that. He clocked the shit out of me with that guitar, man. I had to go get staples in my head. I looked like Herman Munster with 13 staples in my head. It cut a vein on my forehead and it wouldn’t quit bleeding. So I remember when I came home and Biker Marc is like, “Man, did somebody shoot you?” I go, “No, man… some junkie Rock Star hit me on the head with a guitar.” So the next day they are waking me up going… “Dude, you’ve got to go to the hospital, man… you’re white…you look like you’re turning blue.” So they took me to look in the mirror and I had lost a lot of blood. So I go down there and Biker Marc is going, “Yeah, that’s right…it was Kurt Cobain from Nurvaana.” Hahahaha!

The TV business is uglier than most things. It is normally perceived as some kind of cruel and shallow money trench through the heart of the journalism industry, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs, for no good reason.

– Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80s

Interview conducted by Bruce Corbitt

Interview: Chris Reifert (Autopsy, Death, Abscess)

In the an(n)als of metal history, the name Chris Reifert sticks out like a red flag to anyone tracking the progress of the development of the genre. After a partnership with Death, he formed Autopsy for the sake of recording “death metal” in the late 1980s, and has moved on from Autopsy to Abscess, a grind/punk/metal project, as well as several other bands in the quest for loud and grindingly horrific music. We were able to catch up with Chris through a system of coded messages sent via colonically-violated seagull.

What motivated you to get into metal?

Just my infatuation with heavy music. It started when I got hooked on KISS in 1978 and has only progressed since then. Also being exposed to ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Revolver’ by the BEATLES as small child got an early intestest in psychedelia cooking. Nowadays we are really merging psychedelic influences with (emphasis on) extremely brutal metal with a healthy injection of ‘FUCK YOU’ punk. AAARRRGGGHHHH! (to quote Venom)

Have you ever gotten in trouble with the law for your metal affiliation?

No, just for alcohol affiliation.

What do you see as the primary difference in mentality between underground metal bands and the people you hear on the radio?

In general, everything. Otherwise, I guess it depends on who you are talking about. Besides that fuck the radio! Even at its best moments it sucks Carrot Top’s unwashed red and brown ass! The radio for the most part is controlled by one piece of fecal matter sitting at the top caring for nothing artistic unless you count dollar bills as art pieces. DESTROY THE FACTORY!!! The sick thing is, alot of fucks in the underground just wish they were that piece of fecal matter but just haven’t achieved it yet. It all comes down to this, is your music good or crap and to whom? hmmm….

in autopsy, what were your influences on drums and why did you pursue the musical style that you did?

I think I was my biggest influence in drumming at the time cause there was no one else to look up to in my mind. If you ask me about that now I would say Keith Moon and Dave Lombardo as a two headed four armed eight legged mutant with a up of insanity added.

In Abscess, you are trying something more punk or grind than metal, but with metal influences. Why the big change and what advantages has it brought you?

I really hate analyzing specific riffs or feels or whatnot. It’s the spirit that matters. I suppose after Autopsy split all we really wanted to do was get drunk and go crazy. No we still do that but really hone in on maximum heaviness and mindfuckitude. ‘Tormented’ dove into that pod and our newest ‘Through the Cracks of Death’ is swimming to the bottom or maybe into the air above. It’s all the same I guess. Quesion is: What would Lester Bangs say?

What are your favorite punk/hc bands?

Mostly older ones cause punk has suffered the same commercial assfucking that metal has as of late. Just a few: GG Allin, Ramones, Sham 69, Capitalist Casualites, Gaia, Poison Idea, Dwarves, Discharge, Stooges, MC5, Dead Boys, Pagans, bla bla bla…

If you could exist in any musical movement in history, what would it be?

I can’t think that way. I’m always obsessed with laying down the next brutal eyeball gouging, runt raping, flesh flinging track.

How has Abscess been received by the metal and punk communities, and what have you learned from the differences in the two?

Everyone still hates us 8 years into it. Mostly I hear “When is Autopsy reforming?” How about “When are you gonna let me spurt jizz into your armpits?” Fuck it! I’ve always thought and still do metal and punk are two sides of the same coin. Its all about energy, aggression and getting your sick kicks in an eardrum pummeling way. Call me old fasioned. har har fucking har de har!

Why do you think underground metal began when it did, 1983-85, with bands worldwide suddenly converging on the same sound?

Fuck knows? Its the way it goes with any movement (bowel-haha!) I suppose. Who cares really? Theres good and crappy in any situation like that. Lizard poop for everyone, thats what I say!

Do you think anything in nature has a single cause?

I dunno. Maybe somehwere between Bukowski, Casteneda and Nietzsche lies the truth. But I doubt it. Most likely humans just wonder too much about some secret key or meaning to life. Maybe Nietzsche was right but ‘Maldoror’ is pretty fucking entertaining!

Do you hate the internet? If so, please tell us why, in detail (including the following topics if possible: AOL, porn, FBI)

I don’t hate it, I’m just not interested in it. If I ever owned a computer (which I don’t) I probably would never turn it on. I’d rather call someone and hear their voice with no screen to hide behind in my admittedly warped mind there’s something deeply good way. I seem to be in the minority…

Please comment on any rumors linking yourself to VON here.

What rumors? Our bass player Joe used to be in Von. That’s as far as it goes.

Where do you think metal will go next, what will become?

I think the big question is, where will the bat boy appear next? Fortunately the weekly world news will keep us in the know.

What do you think of nu-metal?

Where did they get the metal part from? Heavy guitar tones and seven string guitars do no add up to ‘metal’. On top of that some worthless fizzlefuck slobbering about how his father came in his face too many times or some gopher entrails like that. TOTAL FUCKING GARBAGE FOR TOTAL FUCKING DUNCES!!

Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! (“Dare to be wise,” Ars Poetica, Horace) “Have courage to use your own reason!” — that is the motto of the enlightenment.

– Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

Many thanks to Clint Carr for his help in obtaining this interview.

Real Sex with SJWs Contest Winners

Death Metal Underground finally has crowned a winner of our Real Sex with Social Justice Warriors Short Story Contest. GGALLIN1776’s morbid visions of bloody leftist degeneracy have been pounded into our staffs’ brains like a pistol butt cracking open a teenage thug’s skull:

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Thirty Years of Morbid Visions

Sepultura‘s Morbid Visions is my favorite thirty year old album. Released in Brazil on November 10th, 1986, Morbid Visions saw Sepultura slither past the primitive Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, and Sodom worship of their initial Bestial Devastation extended play (included as a bonus on almost all CD versions of Morbid Visions) and into ultraviolent, progressive but still primitive, death and black metal.

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