Interview with Imprecation

imprecation-satanae_tenebris_infinitaFor a brief moment in time, forces of the cosmos united to shape from raw aether a new style of music. This music, called “death metal,” brought together a total alienation from modern life with a desire for the forbidden realms of death and the occult. In this new form, a few sage voices prevailed.

One such voice was Houston’s Imprecation, who combined several styles of death metal to make a compelling and darkly atmospheric version of death metal that remains distinctive to this day. They flourished for some time, and as the death metal scene faltered and was absorbed by trend-minded imitators, they returned to their homes under the black earth and waited. In the early 2000s, they were reborn.

The result has been a flourishing of death metal here on the third coast. Imprecation leads the way with its morbid and esoteric music and left hand path imagery. Its rebirth seemingly brought other bands out of the obscurity and rallied interest around a movement which challenges the apathy of even a major industrial city.

We were fortunate to catch up with frontman David Herrera to talk about all things death metal and the state of Imprecation, who are a few months from release of a new album on Dark Descent Records.

You have a new album due out on Dark Descent, Satanae Tenebris Infinita. What’s this album going to be like and how will it be different from your past work, including 1995’s demo compilation Theurgia Goetia Summa?

It has not strayed far from our path that we set in 1992, there are different elements to it but nothing outrageously different about the album.

Some have told me that it sounds like we took the past and gave it a touch of modern dynamics, but have stayed true to our approach and sound.

Personally, I feel that it is a triumph for the band, and a proper representation of where we stand presently and a glimpse of future songwriting as well.

This album is a great triumph for you, because Imprecation has struggled through the years to maintain itself and only now is issuing a followup to the early 1990s work. What did you change in order to make this happen?

I agree, and it feels like a tremendous weight has been lifted off of our backs, especially for Ruben and myself. When we got back together it was to execute unfinished business, and the making of a proper full length was on the tops of our list of goals to achieve with the band. Our next goal is to take our craft overseas, who knows if and when that will ever come to be.

Is all the good metal “the music of Satan”?

Not necessarily, but it doesn’t hurt! The age old saying about the Devil having the best tunes rings true, and I am a firm supporter of all true hymns of the Left Hand Path. I also do believe that the music has to come from a Death, Black or Doom metal background to embrace the impious fires and nature of Hell.

I find all sorts of devilry in other forms of music, from old Delta blues to classical. One of my biggest inspirations comes from the songs of Glenn Danzig, especially his era of Samhain and his first four solo albums. Of course I am a big fan of the Misfits as well. Also I am very much driven by dark ambience, especially artists such as Lustmord and the music that you hear in the Kubrick masterpiece of “The Shining”. The Devil is also very much present in artists such as Diamanda Galas, The Swans, Coil, Bauhaus, and Ministry to name a few. At least to my ears!

Dark Descent has already released a new track, “From Beyond the Fiery Temples,” which shows a style that seems to emphasize ritual in its pacing and song development. Is this for occult reasons, or musical ones?

The song is steeped in the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft; it’s mainly visions and dreams states that I have been in. I wanted to pen some lyrics on that imagery, it’s been some time since I’ve touched on that path.

Imprecation is composed of active musicians who have multiple projects. You have Morbus 666 and Bahimiron, Reuben Elizondo has too many to count, and Archfiend is in Adumus. How do you keep the balance going?

Imprecation is the main priority with all involved. I’m still active in Bahimiron, and the triad of Milton, Ruben and myself plan on releasing some future stuff with Morbus 666, but nothing is set in stone at the moment. I do not think that Adumus exists any more, but it is ironic that all the members of that band excluding myself now currently play in Imprecation.

It seems that in 2002, Imprecation got back together with Wes Weaver on guitars, but then he split off into his own band, Blaspherian. How do you see the two musical visions as similar, and how are they different?

I don’t really know how to answer this one exept that Wes is a good friend and I fully support his endeavors with Blaspherian. The style that he developed with his time in Imprecation is present in Blaspherian, but I feel that his band has achieved its own vision and personality.

There’s no other way to ask this but bluntly: is death metal coming back? It seems like we had a decade of mewling guitars and pig squeals, but now the old school is rising. If so, what do you think brought it back? Necromancy?

It does seem to be emerging once again, there are some really killer bands coming out true to the Death metal cult. I think it has come back to life simply because in metal people always go back to the old ways. Some of these kids are getting into what they perceive as Death metal because it is what they are told Death metal is. But when they hear the reference points such as Celtic Frost, Possessed, Morbid Angel, Deicide, Autopsy, Death, Bathory they realize that the shit they have been supporting like Job for a Cowboy and Slipknot is actually not Death, and all of a sudden they have a wealth of classics to feast on. I can’t tell you how many times people tell me how refreshing it is to hear the sound that Imprecation has, and they always ask why more bands are not doing this style anymore. The truth is that there are some cults doing it right, and the Death metal scene is stronger now that it has been in a long time.

My only complaint is that there is a lot of bands that are embracing the true spirit of Death, but they are only imitating it rather than using it as a tool to explore their own path. There seems to be a shitoad of Incantation wannabes out there right now, and before that was a slew of Blasphemy clones. With that said I’d much rather hear these bands than the ones that are flooding the underground with their weak death-slam sounds, with the stop/go guitars and drum hits and pig grunts and squeals.

And I especially HATE those over-triggered drums, they have absolutely no power behind them.

The way you choose to write song titles and lyrics reminds me of 19th century literature, yet you’ve been alive exclusively in the 20th and 21st centuries (excluding reincarnations and avatara, I suppose). What books, poems, writings, etc. have been influential on you?

As far as poetry, I’m pretty limited on influences though I really dig the poems of Frost. The isolation in his work takes me to wonderous places. I also love the poems of Edgar Allan Poe, the hallucinations he emits with his words are fantastic. As far as books I admire the works of Crowley and Jack London. I also get into old Clive Barker stuff as well.

But I’m not going to lie to you and have you believe I have a wealth of books and am a big reader. It’s not that I don’t want to read, I just simply do not have the time in the day to commit to a book. Gilles de Rais from Teratism is releasing his own material right now, I just got a first edition of his book Black Magic Evocation of the Shem ha Mephorash and it’s proving to be a great and interesting read. There is some killer, dark shit going on in that book!

Where did you record Satanae Tenebris Infinita and who produced it? Can you tell us what the title means? How do you feel it differs from previous Imprecation releases?

David: We recorded it at Big Door Studios in Webster, TX. The guy who owns the studio is a good friend of mine who goes by Mike BBQ, he’s an excellent engineer and has a keen understanding of brutal sounds. I’ve been working with him for years, all of Bahimiron’s albums were recorded there. What I like about him is he wants to bring out the natural sounds of the instruments and my voice, but also is not afraid to experiment from time to time.

The title of the album simply translates to The Infinite Darkness of Satan. The album was originally going to be called “Of the Black Earth”, but our labelmates Maveth just released an album entitled “Coils of the Black Earth”. Being that we also have a song on our album called “The coils of Eden” we just felt that there were too many similarities to release our album with that name. Of course we have much different sounds, but you catch my drift.

What’s funny is that in 1992 I printed out shirts for the “Ceremony of the Nine Angles” demo with the phrase “Of the Black Earth” on it, as that was going to be the name of our album to be. 20 years later, Maveth beat us to the punch! I do, however, like the new title better. I think it fits with the vibe we had on our only other LP Theurgia Goetia Summa.

What’s next for the band? Will you tour, or try to get “American Idol,” or work on more material? Do you have other releases like splits or 7″ coming out?

Hahah, fuck that plastic show! No tours will happen, as we are all working guys with families to support. But there are shows coming up in Birmingham, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston this year. Looking forward to getting back up north in allegience with Signature Riff, Vinny runs a tight ship up there and is great to do business with. As far as upcoming material, we have a split 7 inch coming out on Dark Descent with none other than Blaspherian!

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Please keep us informed about your news and events in the future.

Hails Brett! Thanks for all of the support you have given Imprecation throughout the years, all the best to you.

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Von – Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves

von-dark_gods_seven_billion_slavesVon gained fame for the ultra-minimalist droning 1990s album Satanic Blood which raged forth in three-note songs that resembled air raid sirens of the soul going off in an infinite night of bestial darkness.

Returning after a long hiatus, the band conjure up Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves to bring us the greatest of rarities in metal: an honestly experimental album. Most “experimental” albums involve recycling avant-garde and progressive rock themes of the 1970s, but there isn’t anything at all like this album.

Perhaps recognizing that repeating the past would be tame, Von have instead chosen to make a form of ritual music that sounds like a collision between black metal, later Danzig and a horror movie soundtrack. The songs are just as simple but more musical, and are generally played more slowly but have a stronger sense of developing theme.

Like a soundtrack, these songs are designed to fade into the background and influence mood rather than command attention. Much like a few repeated notes signal a dark theme ahead in a movie, these songs use very similar melodies to horror movie soundtracks and presage a limitless and expanding fear. The mood is similar to Profanatica‘s Profanatitas de Domonatia or Demoncy‘s Enthroned is the Night. Much as in a horror movie we watch the characters go into the room where evil lurks, or prepare to yank aside the curtain covering what they fear, this album exudes a menacing sense of impending and inexorable threat.

Percussion works in a way that is rarely seen outside of opera. Its timekeeping functions are present when the music is uptempo, but for slower pieces it forms pure mood, a clomping footstep like the tread of an executioner. Guitars play very similar patterns repeatedly and nearly constantly, but are frequently overlaid with background chaotic noise that like distortion itself brings out submerged harmonics and gives the music added body and menace.

Melodies themselves sound like horror movie music tinged with the more listenable vein of occult or dark rock, sounding sometimes like Danzig’s later works and sometimes like the Sisters of Mercy. They fit together well and evoke moods clearly and strongly, which makes this album more interesting for repeated listens than Satanic Blood. The ritual nature of the pacing of song development, coupled with the uncanny ability that vocals had on the first album to trigger a sense of dread and despair by offsetting rhythm like an attacker outside the law, builds momentum behind this atmosphere.

Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves is going to take many by surprise. It’s sparse, meaning that it’s not a constant wall of sound; it is often slower and more theatrical; it is complex in that many simple riffs together tell a story more than cyclic complex riffs can. It is experimental, in that while this style could be called black metal, there’s a lot more going on, but unlike “kitchen sink” bands who throw in other genres at random, everything here is fused into one consistent and expressive style.

While this may not deliver conventional metal thrills, Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves shapes its minimalistic riffs into a changing atmosphere of morbid curiosity and onrushing fear. The result is overwhelming, like a vision of hell brought to earth, and with its convoluted and esoteric patterns shows us darkness revealing itself before our eyes, while we stare at the screen too scared to scream.

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Civilization accepts death metal

civilization_accepts_heavy_metalAlthough for the last decade mainstream society has accepted the more radio-friendly metalcore and post-metal variants of metal, there are signs that civilization is finally facing the importance of underground metal and grindcore, albeit in baby steps.

First, a study that will make you question your individuality pointed out how people in mosh pits behave like the molecules of excited gasses. The ensuing articles got moshing and moshpit terminology into the minds of the average citizen and seemed to capture the imagination of many.

Then, numerous newspapers reported on a plan to use Napalm Death as a sonic disruptor for an art piece. “The collaboration was designed to be a comment on poverty, with Mr Harrison making sculptures of tower blocks from the band’s home city of Birmingham which would explode as they played, reflecting the breaking down of inequalities.”

Continuing the theme, mainstream media have formally recognized the death metal genre as not only existing, but as having been in existence these past 25 years. A brief overview of Tampa death metal made it onto the wires, complete with incredulity and band names. No one mentioned the Death album found under the murdered guy, but they did capture some of the appeal. “It’s dark, evil, ugly music, and not many communities want to acknowledge that an Obituary record might mean just as much to a lonely teenager as any Tori Amos or Nirvana album.”

While we in the underground have come to expect little from the mainstream — they like love/sex songs with pretty vocals and simple rotating structure — it’s gratifying to see the genres of death metal and grindcore being officially admitted as having endured enough years that they’re not going away, and civilization might as well sigh and make its peace with them.

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Neurosis “Of Honor Found in Decay” European tour

neurosis-honor_found_in_decayNeurosis got a bad rap among metalheads because most of us got introduced to this innovative band at the peak of their career, when metal journalists and radio were pushing the metalcore trend and wanted us to consider Neurosis part of that movement.

The reality is more complex. Neurosis started out as a terrifying hardcore band with completely alienated approach to modern living, and has since then continued to grow and develop, forging a new style of hardcore-metal hybrid.

Music around them has tried to catch up, but when you’re ahead of your time as much as Neurosis has been (consistently) over the last two decades or so, patience is required. However, more people are warming to the radical sounds and ideas of this innovative band.

Of Honor Found in Decay, the most recent Neurosis album, has spawned a European tour worthy of such a vast musical effort.

NEUROSIS Honor Found In Decay European Tour

  • 5/24/2013 Primavera Sound Festival 2013 – Barcelona, Spain
  • 5/25/2013 La Grande Halle de la Villette – Paris, France w/ Swans
  • 6/21/2013 Hellfest – Clisson, France
  • 6/22/2013 Eurocam Media Center – Lint-Antwerp, Belgium
  • 6/23/2013 Substage – Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 6/24/2013 SO 36 – Berlin, Germany
  • 6/25/2013 Grey Hall / Christiania – Copenhagen, Denmark
  • 6/26/2013 Betong – Oslo, Norway
  • 6/27/2013 Byscenen – Trondheim, Norway
  • 6/28/2013 Bravalla Festival – Norköpping, Sweden
  • 6/30/2013 Palladium – Warsaw, Poland
  • 7/01/2013 Lucerna Music Bar – Prague, Czech Republic
  • 7/02/2013 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, Germany
  • 7/03/2013 UT Connewitz – Leipzig, Germany
  • 7/04/2013 Magnolia – Milano, Italy
  • 7/05/2013 L’Usine – Genf, Switzerland
  • 7/06/2013 Rote Fabrik – Zürich, Switzerland
  • 7/07/2013 Eurockeennes Festival – Belfort, France

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De Profundis – The Emptiness Within

de_profundis-the_emptiness_withinEvery age has its conventions that set a target for those who aspire to success. When they achieve a fulfillment of those conventions, the aspirants have entered the elite and expect great reward to follow.

In our time, “progressive” rock has returned with a vengeance in the metal/hardcore world. It takes two types; the avant-garde type cycles between radically different riffs in an attempt to open the mind through contrast, while the jazz-type builds on a jam and then breaks it up with contrasting riffs to keep the jam going without becoming circular. De Profundis is of this second type.

What comes to mind when hearing this record is that Cynic and Atheist put their second and third albums into a room and nine months later, out popped De Profundis. This band mixes metal riffs of several different types with a cocktail jazz ambiance and plenty of delicious lead guitar, but builds up tension and release much like a hard rock band from the late 1980s.

The result is very easy to listen to. The jazz format is the most efficient for musicians, as it doesn’t require creation of custom song structures like other prog does, and it absorbs basically anything you can throw at it. De Profundis throw everything in there, from Satriani-esque quick pentatonic runs to dark minor key improvisation, and the result will enthrall people who like a high degree of internal contrast in their layered music.

Like dub or a really free-form jazz jam, De Profundis songs revolve around a central conflict that encounters interruptions which lead back to the theme. It’s the interruptions that are the main course, ironically enough, because these allow extended rhythm leads and leads that showcase the playing skills here.

It’s a slight to this band to call them “metal,” because it’s clearly only one of several dozen ingredients, but a wide diversity of metal riffing can be spotted here, from Swedish melodic to early black metal. All of this fits into a funky, warm, jazzy exterior that fulfills the expectations of its age’s elites.

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Morgengrau – Extrinsic Pathway

morgengrau-extrinsic_pathwayMorgengrau unleash an album described as classic death metal, while in actuality it sounds more like 1980s metal merged with progressive death metal from a decade later. Despite being a relatively new band, Morgengrau includes several experienced players alongside enthusiastic new blood, and the result shows on this thoroughly professional album.

With detuned guitars, death vocals and cluster-munition drumming, Morgengrau tears into songs like a death metal band. However, songs are structured more around vocal/guitar cadences and lengthy fills in the style of later Exodus, augmented with progressive touches that are reminiscent of later 1990s Death. This makes them easier to listen to than riff salad and gives them more of a compelling groove.

Extrinsic Pathway features the hooky rhythms you might expect from a classic 1980s speed metal album with the more elaborate atmosphere of a progressive metal band, without the noodly flights of fancy of prog metal. Lead guitars are elegant and yet obscure, and rhythm guitar is rigid with enough swing to give it a groove of its own. In this, it’s reminiscent of Death’s The Sound of Perseverance.

A cover of Sepultura’s “Inner Self” finds a home in the middle of the album and complements the other tracks, which pick up in intensity from the mid-paced death metal model to more of a ripping death metal pace as the album goes on. On the whole, this is a good first effort as this band finds its voice in the raging chaos of extreme metal.

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Sammath releases new rough mixes

Sammath, Dutch-German furious black metal band, continues to work toward the release of its next album, Godless Arrogance.

To this end, the band released two tracks in demo form from the forthcoming album on Folter Records. These show the black/death thrashing hybrid that this band has become over the years.

On the new album, expect the instrumental prowess of 2009’s Triumph in Hatred with a stripped-down and vicious style more akin to 2006’s Dodengang. The band shows high confidence going into this album and it will be great to see it hit the shelves soon!

This world must burn

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Birth A.D. – I Blame You

birth_a_d-i_blame_youBack in the 1980s thrasher music — a hybrid of punk and metal listened to by skateboarders — was big. In the 2000s, Birth A.D. has resurrected this style not through retro-nostalgia but by picking it up where it left off and taking it further.

Thrash grew up from simple short and fast punk songs with metal riffs and reached its peak with S.O.D.’s Speak English or Die and D.R.I.‘s Crossover. These albums packed the intensity of the blur-speed earlier work into lengthier songs with more emotional depth and variation. Birth A.D. picked up from that point with their first EP, Stillbirth of a Nation, which kept the chunky riffing but added melodic vocals and song structures customized to the topic of each song.

Returning with wisdom and more vitriol, I Blame You shows Birth A.D. reforming their style. The album comprises songs from Stillbirth of a Nation matched to new material which is tighter, faster and harder-hitting. It hits both with ripping riffs and militant time changes, but also with a greater internal contrast between themes which gives these songs a greater poetic intensity.

Lyrically, Birth A.D. emerges straight from the thrash tradition, which is to criticize our society as having made a wrong turn somewhere and now heading for doom. The lyrics defy categorization unless you imagine a systems architect looking at modern society as a whole and suggesting changes that management has overlooked for its own reasons. Of note is “Popular War” which criticizes the tendency of people to really enjoy killing other people when it’s easy, fail-safe and creates a good opportunity for business.

The original thrash movement burned out because it burned too bright. It had a lot to say, but instead of drawing it out into long dramatic pieces, it blasted us with rapid-fire alienation. Easily understood, it was rarely understood, because it was too radical. Birth A.D. bring this idea back not by imitating it, but by upholding its spirit, which makes for an exhilarating and violent listening experience.

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Live stream of Revel in Flesh – Dominate the Rotten

revel_in_flesh-manifested_darknessTaking their name from an Entombed song, Swedish-style metallers Revel in Flesh mix Motorhead-esque rowdy roadhouse metal song formats with Swedish death metal riffs and production.

Like many of the newer generation, they combine the heavy metal style melodic Swedish metal with the more hardcore influenced old school death metal which kicked off the movement. The result is easy on the ears like a Motorhead tune, but has all the bass and crunch that an alienated outlaw anti-social metalhead might need.

One thing that’s refreshing about this band is that they are not trying to rehash the past. They’re trying to be a metal band with influences. The result is that this is not first album Entombed. It’s Revel in Flesh, and unlike some of the recent bands, it offers not nostalgia but a current sound of heavy metal style death metal.

We are pleased and excited to, in coordination with Clawhammer PR and Revel in Flesh, offer you this live stream of a song named “Dominate the Rotten” from the new Revel in Flesh album, Manifested Darkness.

For your listening pleasure:


Revel in Flesh
“Dominate the Rotten”
Manifested Darkness
FDA Rekotz (2013)

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Supuration – Cube 3

supuration-cube_3No one doubts the importance of style, but at the end of the day, style is not what makes one album great and others mundane. Like a technique used in painting, style is essential to convey particular meaning, but its inclusion alone doesn’t make the painting great. Only the skill of the artist and the composition of the painting can do that.

Supuration emerged years before the current alternative metal and progressive metal trends, mixing 1980s dark pop and indie with a strong progressive undercurrent in the style of Rush or Jethro Tull. Their legendary album, The Cube, divided metal listeners because while it had many aspects of off-mainstream rock, it sported death metal vocals and metal riffs. However, it also made them many fans who liked their adventurous use of music and very personal, evocative songwriting.

Cube 3 hits the target set by this first album by not imitating the style of the past but instead developing changes to that style naturally and focusing instead on songwriting. This allows Supuration to gratify older fans but not force themselves into acting out the past as remembered from a far off-distance. The style is mostly similar to The Cube, being alternative/indie-rock harmonies mixed in with metal riffs and progressive chord progressions, melodic leads and oddball song structures.

What makes this album work is that each song unites two concepts: first, a pop style hook; second, a theatrical staging of the conflict between two or more tendencies. These songs pull themselves apart between bassy heavy metal riffs, bittersweet vocal melodies, and intricately picked melodic guitar that expands the context of the music and shows a broader context.

These songs are full of musical oddities picked to stimulate, amuse and delight, but what fundamentally drives this band is its songwriting which has a strong connection to the idea of metal. The result is a metal hybrid that keeps the intensity of metal while creating a technical achievement that also has the emotional appeal of negative pop.

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