Are You Morbid? returns to the radio

are_you_morbid-radio_showAre You Morbid?, the radio show by newer generations to keep the music of the underground years alive, has returned from the dead. This show briefly thrived on two different radio stations during the 2010-2011 time period and became notorious for its love of the old school spirit in metal, whether past or contemporary.

The new show will be Monday nights from 11PM – 12:30 AM on KUOI FM Moscow 89.3. However, listeners worldwide can tune in via the live stream at http://kuoi.org:8000/kuoi.m3u. You can also watch the show happening live via the KUOI web cam

For those who enjoy classic metal radio, Are You Morbid? utilizes the format of long blasts of music centered around a theme, briefly interrupted by DJ explanations and topical commentary. During its previous life, the show gained listeners worldwide for its quality selection of death metal and black metal.

Interview with Andrés Padilla (Underground Never Dies)

andrés padilla-underground_never_diesRecently the word got out about a new book that’s going to explain the metal underground. This book, called Underground Never Dies, is edited by Andrés Padilla, the longstanding publisher and chief writer of Grinder Magazine.

Like several underground books before it, Underground Never Dies does not attempt to summarize the underground from a single point of view. Rather, it lets many different voices speak and, like harmonization in song, a truth emerges.

Cover art by Mark Riddick graces the entrance to this all-star production of underground metal analysis and opinion. In these pages, you will find people that you know of, or will want to know of, who helped build the underground into what it is.

We were lucky to get a chat in with Andrés as he prepares to launch this challenging work. Thanks to Andrés Padilla, Grinder Magazine and Doomentia Records for helping us secure this interview.

Click here for the full interview.

Interview with Andrés Padilla, author of Underground Never Dies

andrés padilla-underground_never_diesRecently the word got out about a new book that’s going to explain the metal underground. This book, called Underground Never Dies, is edited by Andrés Padilla, the longstanding publisher and chief writer of Grinder Magazine.

Like several underground books before it, Underground Never Dies does not attempt to summarize the underground from a single point of view. Rather, it lets many different voices speak and, like harmonization in song, a truth emerges.

Cover art by Mark Riddick graces the entrance to this all-star production of underground metal analysis and opinion. In these pages, you will find people that you know of, or will want to know of, who helped build the underground into what it is.

We were lucky to get a chat in with Andrés as he prepares to launch this challenging work. Thanks to Andrés Padilla, Grinder Magazine and Doomentia Records for helping us secure this interview.
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The most difficult question first (sorry!): what is the “underground”?

From a Thrasher’s point of view, it’s a very particular phenomenon developed in the early eighties when the roar and corrosion of Metal began to sprout all over the world. Ignoring rules, norms and standards, this trend and way of thinking opened up its way in a pure, honest and caring manner. Personally, the underground has been the path I have followed all my life, not only musically (I also listen to other music styles) but also in the type of life and philosophy to follow. Since the metal stench entered my blood it has never left. On the contrary, it has grown and strengthened my vision for this movement that in spite of any dogma, represents a way of life not only for me, but for many other devoted followers of this sound, which becomes my daily sustenance.

Underground is devotion and commitment; it is to follow your own path, not accepting the mainstream as your food, rejecting the rules of the religion – Christianity , impose your own voice, make your mark, teach others that way which means to believe in yourself. It’s a “fuck you” to the system.
Musically it is the opposite to the establishment. This is where the mind has a space to open freely and go with the corrosive and distressing death metal sound, which in my case is my favorite style.

It may have been born in the eighties, but not everyone who was there at the beginning has continued its traditions. I feel lucky to have never given up this way of life and even to this day, have supported its development and growth, either by editing a fanzine for 25 years as well editing and distributing discs and demo tapes. Although the rise of the Internet has dramatically changed the way it’s distributed and spread out, the underground has mutated over time, trying to keep his old philosophy and aesthetics. Long life to Death Metal!

How did the idea of this book come to you, and how did you embark on the course to write it and publish it?

Before finishing school I started to make my own fanzine. Up to this day I continue, sending letters, talking with underground bands, exchanging demos/CDs/LPs/videos etc. has been my way of life. I never wanted to look for a job in an office. Metal has been my best ally and daily food since I started listening to it in the mid eighties.

So if you ask me how I got this idea, well, it just came to me, I never looked for it! Everything came naturally. I like thriving, without losing its philosophy, and after 25 years doing fanzines, I wanted to do something more challenging, something that defined a little better what my life linked to music has been like, even if it’s been behind a desk. I’ve always believed that nothing is impossible, only death is unavoidable.

Then, as there is no worldwide publication that has managed to piece together an overall concept about this repulsive and dark phenomenon, I wanted to be the first madman to embrace every corner of the planet and display it in a book with a ton of posters, photos and comments that may finally tell, what, how and when all this happened. Underground Never Dies is just that, an incredible journey into the past where you can explicitly revive what was a unique time.

About the way it’s going to be published, maybe it was fate or luck that made me send a copy of my first book — Retrospectiva al Metal Chileno 1983-1993 — to Doomentia. Lukas (founder) loved my work and when I told him I was doing a new book about the worldwide Underground, and in English, he gladly accepted to publish it.

Do you think “underground” (perhaps like “outsider”) is a cultural identity more than a marketing category?

andrés_padilla-grinder_magazine-underground_never_diesAbsolutely, at least for me. I am very different from other normal people who wake up every day to go to an office or accept system standards. So this phenomenon for me has its own identity, and even though throughout its developmental years many people have left to take on another identity, I know that we are thousands who still believe that this sound must be kept in a low profile, away from the mainstream and with a unique identity.

And I’m not talking about the aesthetic aspect, because personally, even though I really like the aesthetic that surrounds it, if anyone sees me on the street probably they will not think I listen to Death Metal. For me the image is not everything. It is the thinking, actions and congruence with yourself. The rest does not matter. Now, I will not dress like a Glam Rock fan of the eighties. No way!

How important do you think “non-commercial” attitudes are to the underground?

They are important to sustain its aesthetics, spirit and coherence with the environment. However, commercial attitudes are also valid. It is impossible to make a ‘zine and give it away for free, to spend thousands of dollars on a disc and then give it away. Money is in the middle of it whether we like it or not. Always. Moreover, we grew up on the grounds that money is everything. Unfortunately we are doomed to follow that path until humanity reaches its end. I prefer to make music or a magazine and sell it than belonging to a stupid company and take orders from an asshole boss.

Do you think the underground was a product of its time, when there was no Amazon and import CDs weren’t in regular stores, or does it still have relevance today?

To me, Underground is a concept born out of many factors, like our interest in something intangible like belonging to a music scene. We, are the ones who keep this alive. The bands, zines publishers, fans attending a concert, etc. All this makes the Underground continue thriving over time and avoid death to changes in humanity, like technology. Underground will always exist, but it is not going to go towards you, it is you who has to go to it.

What defines or identifies an “underground” band? Is there a specific sound, or is it an attitude, or a social position like being on an underground label, small pressing runs, etc.?

Arguably, in Thrash, Death, Speed, Black, Doom, etc, all trends derived from this devotion. Yes, there are patterns, pre-established rules and forms which we interpret as good or bad. Underground is devotion. And when it’s honest and pure, it is recognized. Who does not recognize it, then, they are on a different path.

How long did it take you to write the book? What is your process for writing?

From the first interviews, trips and design, I think it has been three long years. The first stage was the longest, perhaps collecting the information (posters, photos, etc.) and checking my personal collection amassed over the years of editing fanzines. Much of the material had been stored and forgotten.

underground_never_dies-andres_padillaThen it was about organizing the book concept and selecting the best of the material, trying not to be like any other work which has published about it. After several years, I think I arrived at the final concept. The experience of having done something similar, only dedicated to the scene of my country, was fundamental. That book, Retrospectiva al Metal Chileno 1983-1993, edited along with a 12″ vinyl disc (made by Iron Bonehead Prod, Germany) was very well-received worldwide.

Who’s going to print the book, and where/when will we be able to buy it, and for how much?

Doomentia Czech label will be responsible for publishing and distributing the book through its network of contacts and labels within the Metal realm. We all know who they are! If you’re reading this, it’s because you know! I have to confess that thanks to the Internet, now with a few clicks anyone can have the book. Hopefully the printed copies reach the right people. I have no idea what the price will be, but if you calculate a hardcover book with over 400 pages infested with posters and photos of the eighties, plus a 12″ gatefold with bands like Slaughter Lord, Incubus, Necrovore, Mutilated, Dr Shrinker, Fatal and more, then the price is more or less imaginable. I hope that the material is ready and available for December 2013.

You mention on your flyer that the underground was a way to fight transformation into a mindless sheep. This sounds straight out of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or “They Live.” Is it really that bad?

The promotional poster you speak of, contains quotes taken from the people interviewed in the book. That phrase you mention is something you will have to interpret when you read the book and the complete response of the interview. That mystery I leave it for when you have the book in your hands. Each individual has his own version of what happened in these corrosive years, when Metal was a threat to the system. In my case, I lived through Metal in chaotic times for my country with a military dictatorship. I think that counts and left a huge mark in our youth.

Where does the underground live today?

Worldwide. It has never ceased to exist. We are the ones who should feel a natural devotion to go after it. Those who don’t feel that, simply do not belong in this cult. This will cease to exist only when there are no more humans on earth.

Can you give us a small biography of yourself and your past writing experiences?

Since 1988, I have been editing fanzines, corresponding with bands, tape traders, attending concerts and festivals worldwide. I saw the birth of Death Metal since it started wearing diapers. With 25 years of experience in this art, I think I have enough to identify which smells more rotten than the other. This is all I have done in my life.

I have never been part of a company, nor have I been employed by one, except for a radio station in Santiago for three years, but at that time it was only two days a week on the radio, so I wouldn’t call it being employed by them. The program was called “Ground Beef”, and was devoted to Metal . We played stuff like Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Nihilist among many other killer bands. It was a fun experience hanging out with some international acts when they played in Chile.

Will you be covering the internet, for example pre-1995 websites like the Dark Legions Archive?

The book mainly talks about the beginnings of Metal, but at the end it has a brief chapter on these issues, the emergence of the Internet and databases such as these and many others, like Metal Archives.

Thank you for this interview. Our readers will enjoy it!

Thank you very much to you for this tremendous space and support to spread this work that has required three years of my life. I hope that when it’s published, the public can appreciate it.

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Entrevista con Andrés Padilla, autor de Underground Never Dies

andrés padilla-underground_never_diesRecientemente se corrió la voz acerca de un nuevo libro que va a explicar el metal underground. Este libro, llamado Underground Never Dies, es editado por Andrés Padilla, el editor y escritor desde hace mucho tiempo jefe de la revista Grinder.

Al igual que varios libros que estén bajo tierra antes, Underground Never Dies no intenta resumir el metro desde un único punto de vista. Más bien, permite muchas voces hablan y, al igual que la armonización en el canto, emerge una verdad.

Arte de la cubierta de Mark Riddick adorna la entrada a esta producción de estrellas de los análisis de metales bajo tierra y opinión. En estas páginas, usted encontrará personas que usted conoce, o tendrá que conocer, que ayudó a construir el metro en lo que es.

Tuvimos la suerte de tener una charla con Andrés mientras se prepara para lanzar este trabajo desafiante. Gracias a Andrés Padilla, Revista Grinder y Doomentia Registros por ayudarnos a asegurar esta entrevista.
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The most difficult question first (sorry!): what is the “underground”?

Mirado desde el punto de vista de un Thrasher, es un fenónemo muy particular que se desarrolló a inicios de los ochenta cuando el rugido y corrosidad del Metal empezó a brotar por toda la orbe. Ignorando reglas, patrones y normas, esta tendencia y manera de pensar se abrió camino de una manera pura, honesta y solidaria.

En lo personal, el underground ha sido el camino que he seguido toda mi vida, no solo en lo musical –aunque también escucho otros estilos-, sino que también en la vida y tipo de filosofía a seguir. Desde que el pestilente metal entró en mi sangre no se ha ido más. Todo lo contrario, ha crecido y potenciado mi vision sobre este movimiento que a pesar de cualquier dogma, representa una manera de vivir no solo para mi, sino que para muchos otros devotos seguidores de este sonido, que se transforma en el alimento diario de mi existencia.

Underground es devoción y compromiso, es seguir tu propio camino, no aceptar al mainstream como tu alimento, rechazar las reglas de la religion – cristianismo-, imponer tu propia voz, dejar tu huella, enseñarle a otros ese camino que significa creer en uno mismo. Es decir fuck you all al sistema. Musicalmente es lo contrario y opuesto a lo establecido. Es donde la mente tiene un espacio para abrirse libremente y dejarse llevar por el corrosivo y angustiante sonido del Death Metal -que en mi caso es mi corriente favorita-. Puede haber nacido en los ochenta, pero no todos los que la vieron nacer han seguido su tradición. Me siento afortunado de nunca haber abandonado esta forma de vida y hasta el día de hoy, haber apoyado a su desarrollo y crecimiento, ya sea escribiendo en un fanzine por más de 25 años, como así editando y distribuyendo discos o demo tapes.

Aunque la aparición de Internet cambio drásticamente la manera de distribuirse, manifestarse y procrearse, el underground ha mutado con el tiempo, tratando de mantener su antigua filofosía y estética. Long life to Death Metal!

How did the idea of this book come to you, and how did you embark on the course to write it and publish it?

Antes de salir del colegio commence a armar mi propio fanzine. Hasta el día de hoy, mandar cartas, hablar con bandas subterráneas, intercambiar demos/ cds/lps/videos etc ha sido mi camino. Nunca quise buscar un trabajo en una oficina. El Metal ha sido mi major aliado y alimento diario desde que comencé a inyectarmelo a mediados de los ochenta. Entonces, si me preguntas cómo llegó esta idea. Bueno, simplemente llegó. No la busqué! Todo se dio de manera natural. Me gusta avanzar en la vida, sin perder la filosofía, y con 25 años detras de fanzines, quise hacer algo más desafiante, algo que definiera un poco más lo que ha sido mi vida ligada a la música –aunque sea desde el escritorio-. Siempre he creido que nada es imposible, lo único inevitable es la muerte. Entonces, como no existe una publicación en todo el mundo que haya logrado juntar un concepto global sobre este repugnante y oscuro fenómeno, quise tartar de ser el primer loco en abrazar cada Rincon del planeta y manifestarlo en un libro con una tonelada de afiches, fotos y comentarios que podrán finalmente decir, qué, cómo y cuando sucedió todo esto. Underground Never Dies es simplemente eso, un incredible viaje al pasado en donde podrás revivir expl+icitamente lo que fue una época irrepetible.

Ahora ómo va a ser publicado. Quizás fue el destino o la suerte que me hizo mandarle una copia de mi primer libro a Doomentia. Lukas –fundador- alunió con este trasbajo y cuando le dije que estabaarmando otro referente a Underground mundial, y en Inglés, él aceptó encantado en publicarlo.

Do you think “underground” (perhaps like “outsider”) is a cultural identity more than a marketing category?

andrés_padilla-grinder_magazine-underground_never_diesTotalmente, al menos para mi. Me siento muy diferente al resto de los normales que se levantan a diario para ir a una oficina o aeptarlas normas del sistema. Entonces este fenómeno para mi tiene una identidad propia, y a pesar de que a traves de sus años de creimiento, muha gente ha abandonado y elegido tomar otra idendidad, sí se que somos miles los que aún creemos que este sonido debe mantenerse siempre en bajo perfil, lejos del mainstream y con una identidad única.

Y no estoy hablando del aspect estético ya que en lo personal, a pesar de que me gusta mucho la estética que lo envuelve, si alguien me ve en la calle seguramente no va a pensar que escucho Death Metal. Para mi la imagen no lo es todo. Es la forma de pensar, los actos y la congruencia con uno mismo. El resto, da lo mismo. Ahora, tampoco me voy a vestir como un Glam Rock de los ochenta. No way !

How important do you think “non-commercial” attitudes are to the underground?

Son importantes para mantener su estética, espíritu y coherencia con el medio que nos rodea. Sin embargo, actitudes comerciales también son válidas. Es imposible hacer un fanzine y tener que regalarlo, invertir miles de dolares en un disco para luego regalarlo. El dinero está de por medio querámoslo o no. Siempre. Es más, crecimos con el fundamento de que el dinero lo es todo. Lamentablemente estamos condenados a seguir ese camino hasta que la humanidad llegue a su fin.

Prefiero hacer musica o una revista y venderla a pertenecer a una estúpida empresa y aceptar órdenes de un jefe imbecil.

Do you think the underground was a product of its time, when there was no Amazon and import CDs weren’t in regular stores, or does it still have relevance today?

Para mi Underground es un concepto que se dap or muchos factores. Nuestro interés en algo intangible como pertenecer a una escena musical. Somos nosotros, quienes mantenemos vivo esto. Las bandas, los editores de zines, los fans que asisten a un concierto. Etc Todo eso hace que el Underground siga escabuyéndose con el paso del tiempo y haya podido evitar la muerte ante cambios de la humanidad como la tecnologia. Siempre va a existir Underground, pero este no va a ir hacia a tip por si solo, eres tu quien tiene que ir hacia el.

What defines or identifies an “underground” band? Is there a specific sound, or is it an attitude, or a social position like being on an underground label, small pressing runs, etc.? Podría decirse que en el Thrash, Death, Speed, Black, Doom etc, todas tendencias derivadas de esta devoción, sí hay patrones, reglas o formas pre establecidas y que nosotros entendemos por buenas o malas. Underground es devoción. Y cuando es honesta y pura, se reconoce. Quien no la reconoce, pues, está en otro camino.

How long did it take you to write the book? What is your process for writing?

Desde las primeras entrevistas, viajes y diseño, creo que han sido 3 largos años. La primera etapa fue la más larga, quizas la de recopilar información (afiches, fotos, etc) revisar mi colección personal de material que he juntado en largos 25 años editando fanzines. Mucho material estaba guardado y olvidado.

underground_never_dies-andres_padillaLuego ordenar el concepto del libro y tartar de seleccionar lo major del material, intentando no ser parecido a ninguna otra obra que se haya puvlicado al respecto. Luego de varios años, creo que llegé al concepto final. La experiencia de haber hecho algo similar, slo dedicado a la escena de mi país, fue clave. Ese libro Retrospectiva al metal Chileno 1983-1993, editado con vinilo 12” (hecho por Iron Bonehead Prod, de Alemania) fue muy bienacogido en todo el mundo.

Who’s going to print the book, and where/when will we be able to buy it, and for how much?

La etiqueta checa Doomentia estará a cargo de publicar y distribuir el libro a través de su red de contactos y sellos amigos devotos al maldito metal. Todos ya sabemos cuales son! Si estás leyendo esto, es por que lo sabes! Hay que confezar que gracias a Internet, ahora con un par de clicks cualquier persona podrá tener el libro. Ojalá que las copias que sehagan, lleguen a las personas idóneas. El precio no tengo idea de cuánto va a ser, pero si calculan un Libro con hardcover más de 300 páginas infestadas de afiches y fotos de los años ochenta, más un 12” gatefold con bandas como Slaughter Lord, Incubus, Necrovore, Mutilated, Dr Shrinker, Fatal, etc el precio es más o menos imaginable. Espero que el material esté listo y disponible para Diciembre del 2013.

You mention on your flyer that the underground was a way to fight transformation into a mindless sheep. This sounds straight out of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” or “They Live.” Is it really that bad?

El poster promocional del que hablas, contiene citas extraidas desde los mismos entrevistados. Esa frase que mencionas, la vas a tener que entender cuando leas el libro y la respuesta completa del entrevistado. Ese misterio lo dejo para cuando tengas el libro en tus manos. Cada individuo tiene su propia version de lo sucedido en esos corrosives años, cuando el Metal era una amenaza para el sistema. En mi caso vivi el Metal en tiempos caóticos para mi país con una dictadura military. Creo que eso cuenta y nos marcó mucho en nuestra juventúd.

Where does the underground live today?

En todo el mundo. Nunca ha dejado de existir. Somos nosotros, quienes debemos sentir la devoción natural de ir tras el. Quien no la siente, simplemente no pertenece a este culto. Este solo dejará de existir cuando ya no hayan más humanos en la tierra.

Can you give us a small biography of yourself and your past writing experiences?

Desde el año 1988 he estado editando fanzines, escribiéndome con bandas, tape traders, asistiendo a conciertos, festivals por todo el mundo. Vi nacer el Death Metal desde que comenzó a usar pañales. Con 25 años de experiencia en la material, creo que tengo la suficiente fascilidad de identificar cual huele más putrefacta que otra. Esto es lo único que hecho en mi vida. Nunca he participado de una empresa, ni he sido empleado dealguna compañía, con excepción de un programa de radio en una estación de Santiago port res años, pero en esa época iba solo dos dias a la semana a la radio, no podría citarlo como pertenecer a una empresa. El programa se llamaba Carne Molida, y era dedicado al Metal. Pasabamos desde Morbid Angel, Cabbibal Corpse, Nihilist hasta Pantera.

Will you be covering the internet, for example pre-1995 websites like the Dark Legions Archive?

E libro habla principalmente de los inicios del Metal, pero al final incluirá un capítulo breve sobre esos temas, la irrupción de internet y las bases de datos como esas y muchas otras como Metal Archives.

Thank you for this interview. Our readers will enjoy it!

Muchas gracias a ustedes por este tremendo espacio y apoyo a difundir esta obra que ha demandado 3 años de mi vida. Espero que cuando salga, el public pueda apreciarlo.

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Eric Syre: Unlife – Ossuary and Unlife – Unlife

eric_syre-unlifeEric Syre, a musician from French Canada, is best known perhaps for his work with TheSyre or Pohjast. However, he lives a double life. He is also an industrial/ambient musician recording under the name Unlife.

Unlife comes in two flavors. The first is a more Ministry-influenced version, while the second is almost pure Beherit Electric Doom Synthesis worship. For this reviewer, the first was actually the more intense because it is near completion as a unity of aesthetic and content. The newer material struggles with a bit of self-definition and because of this loss of familiarity, is more awkward but nonetheless compelling.

Ossuary (2005) uses guitars and vocals in a more traditional industrial-metal hybrid atmosphere and shows an influence not only of Ministry, but the generation before (Killing Joke) and lighter influence from the generation after (Godflesh). Songs emphasize heavy, mechanical beats over which Syre loosens up his pipes to give a melodic underpinning to what is otherwise purely “industrial” in the old sense, meaning it sounds like a cross between a factory and a war set to post-punk music.

Unlife (2007) on the other hand is all electronic. There is no attempt to fit songs into a traditional rock framework or imitation of its instrumentation, and cut free, the music experiments a great deal more with song form and texture. Clearly the largest influence here is Electric Doom Synthesis, which also gets alluded to if not outright quoted in a few of the songs, but this is in loving tribute and not some attempt to ride coattails. This longer work seems too simple at first, but suspends belief over time, and introduces a ritual trance mindset in the listener.

It’s our hope here at DeathMetal.org that Mr. Syre continues to develop these projects or at least the direction he was pursuing with both of these releases. His work on Ossuary more captures the power of his singing and sense of dynamics than TheSyre was able to, and Unlife shows us the potential of his composition as a viral stream of ideas alone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IOZSWBy9BI

Interview with Paul Speckmann as Master releases The Witchhunt

paul_speckmann-master_abomination_deathstrike_funeral_bitch_speckmann_projectAs the old joke in Hollywood goes, any time you say “This person needs no introduction,” you must immediately follow that with a lengthy introduction. So it is with Paul Speckmann, who both needs no introduction and also needs a more in-depth introduction because he’s done so much for metal that it’s easy to lose sight of it all.

We are fortunate to be able to interview Mr. Speckmann on the eve of his tenth album, The Witchhunt, which will see release later this year and is a faithful and sped-up version of Master’s characteristic style.

In this interview, we ask Mr. Speckmann about his songwriting style, the changes in master over the years, the meaning of his music and where Master fits in the death metal family tree. His answers are as always thoughtful and honest, with a few surprises that we could never have guessed were coming.

Please show your appreciation for Mr. Speckmann by reading and commenting with your favorite “Speckmann stories”: how you discovered Master et al., what influence it had on you, where you think it fits in metal, and how you think his art has changed the outlook of the extreme metal populace.

Here’s the interview. Ladies and gents, Mr. Paul Speckmann, of Master, Abomination, Deathstrike, Funeral Bitch, War Cry, Speckmann Project and many more!

Interview with Paul Speckmann (Master, Deathstrike, Abomination)

paul_speckmann-master_abomination_deathstrike_funeral_bitch_speckmann_projectPaul Speckmann’s contributions to metal are often mentioned but rarely fully assessed. To scan metal history, we see Speckmann leaving War Cry in 1983 to go off and create something else and coming out with a punkish proto-death metal hybrid somewhere between in the early- to mid-1980s.

The criticial mass and terminal velocity was reached with Deathstrike’s Fuckin’ Death in its second and wider release, melding with Seven Churches, Abominations of Desolation, Divus de Mortuus, Bestial Devastation and Morbid Tales as part of the definition of a new genre. While formed of a proto-metal style that still showed the oil-on-water punk and heavy metal in a pre-emulsion state, Fuckin’ Death helped establish many of the songwriting conventions of the new hybrid.

Since that time, Speckmann has continued his work in metal with bands such as Master, Abomination, Funeral Bitch, Speckmann Project and numerous other collaborations. He was worked with musicians from Cynic and Krabathor and managed to keep his sound consistent across a dozen or more albums, many of which successively re-work earlier songs into more “death metal” versions.

We are very fortunate to be able to interview Mr. Speckmann again, having interviewed him before, as he’s one of our favorite metal personalities.

Your new album The Witchhunt builds on a huge legacy of past Master (and related Speckmann projects) work. How is it different, and how is it consistent with what you’ve done before?

Well that’s just it: I have been doing things the same way on every album since Faith is in Season. I write and record riffs on the acoustic guitar along with a micro-cassette recorder and when the time comes for a new album, I sift through the riffs and hopefully find half a dozen to work with. Most of the time I think that there is much junk on the recorder, but strangely enough sometimes I go back years later and find a killer set of riffs that I missed somehow.

So basically what I am trying to say here is that I did nothing different than before. The album was recorded very quickly after about a month of on and off rehearsals. Ervery time we go into the studio with the intention of making a great album, sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. As for consistency, every Speckmann album has this. If something isn’t broken, then there is no need to fix it!

Have there been any lineup changes since the last album?

Nejezchleba, Pradlovsky and myself have been recording together since the Spirit of the West.

Are your lyrics still as radical, less radical, or more radical than early Master releases?

The lyrics speak for themselves. I suppose you don’t have an actual copy of the CD in your hands. The world around us always dictates dictates the themes on all Master recordings. We as a people are living in turmoil as the power mongers continue to take control of the oil and all the wealth in the world. America the big bully is still at work trying to control all aspects of everyone’s lives across the globe. The world has become a quite more difficult place since the origins of Master so the latter proves true when it comes to the themes I suppose.

Some of us refer to early Master as “proto-death metal” because while it’s a lot like death metal, it has feet in other worlds as well. How do you think of your early music?

You know, when this all began we were merely experimenting with the styles we liked as a formula in our music. Today things really haven’t changed. I still listen to early Rock and Heavy Metal and this keeps my mind clear to write my own crazy musical renditions of what I want to hear. I still listen to GBH, the Exploited, MDC, Minor Threat and Discharge from time to time as they genuinely speak to me in tongues. Good one for sure. I certainly like the old Punk stuff. I have always composed the same way, watching murders on “48 Hours” and playing guitar along the way.

What are the roots of the death metal style? Does it have a core set of influences, or was it an idea?

I never considered Master to be a Death Metal band this tag came several years later. The original fellas and I were just playing Metal, period. After hearing bands like Venom, Slayer and Hellhammer as well as Venom, I left the Doom band as they have tagged it now and wanted to get heavier. Master and Deathstrike were much more aggressive and on the right track so too speak.

I was amazed by, despite lineup changes and some stylistic changes and many years, this album still sounds very much like a Speckmann album. How do you maintain your distinctive style?

The reason the album sounds like Speckmetal is that of course I wrote 10 of the 11 songs but more importantly the band Master always stays true to itself. We play to audiences for example of all sizes from 75-5000 people, and people always understand that we live for the music and you can feel this live as well as on the albums. Many of today’s originators only play for money; this is not the only motivation for Master. We genuinely enjoy touring and sharing the new as well as the old songs with audiences across the globe.

Will you tour the USA with this release, or are you Europe-based for now?

We will tour the USA once again from April 18th until May 9th; I am waiting for information on this very soon. This will once again be an American lineup.

The news says the USA is about to go to war with Syria. Do you have some words about that?

The bully is always ready to go for war; the American economy sucks and people need jobs. This sounds like a great time to bomb Syria. With all the arms, bullets, tanks, etc. the economy will certainly improve. The US likes to fight for sure. Loss of life is of no consequence in the end for the mighty USA. Soon the draft will start up again so you too can fight for your country.

When you started out, I believe, you were working a day job moving furniture and making metal at night, and seemed quite happy doing that.

Actually the day job moving furniture came after my day job selling marihuana was put to a stop by the police. I was forced to borrow money from a truckdriver friend and became a fulltime mover instead of ending up in jail. The band was barely alive in those days so I must have lied in an earlier interview or maybe our first one. Looking back, I do not miss the everyday shit of moving other assholes homesteads.

Now you’ve moved to the Czech Republic and music is your full-time gig. How has the transition been for you?

The transition was a natural thing, for the first few years I travelled the globe with Krabathor summers and then worked moving furniture from September to until March for the first several years. Then in 2004 I was offered a merch job for a German company called Bruchstein Tours and stayed in the Czech Republic permanently. I did this for several years until Master became too busy and this is where I am now, just playing shows.

If a fan listens to The Witchhunt and really likes it, what do you recommend that fan does in terms of exploring more Master material? Should he/she go find a copy of Fuckin’ Death or Speckmann Project or start with more recent material?

I think the entire back catalogue has something to offer and many of the original releases are being re-issued. Fans can contact me directly if need be.

Impaled re-records debut album as The Dead Still Dead Remain

impaled-the_dead_still_dead_remainThirteen years ago, gore-grind band Impaled released their first album, The Dead Shall Dead Remain. Since that initial pressing, the album has been unavailable to fans because of legal disputes over ownership. The only chance to hear it was to buy an original copy.

To work around that problem, Impaled have re-recorded their debut album as The Dead Still Dead Remain. This does away with legal hurdles and allows the band to improve on the performance and production of the original. Recorded and mixed by Vinnie Wojno (Testament), the new recording “simply sounds better” according to guitarist Jason Kocol.

The Dead Still Dead Remain stays musically faithful to the original and also features the return of vocalist Leon del Muerte, who says, “it was like the last thirteen years of backstabbing and spitefulness never happened!” With updated cover artwork in the spirit of the original, The Dead Still Dead Remain resurrects a long lost work of the gore-grind genre.

Impaled’s The Dead Still Dead Remain can be pre-ordered at WillowTip Records.

Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces

albert_mudrian-precious_metal_decibel_presents_the_stories_behind_25_extreme_metal_masterpiecesIn our heavy metal books section today, there’s a review of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, by Albert Mudrian.

This lengthy exploration of heavy metal classics collects the highlights of interviews with bands about classic albums and assembles them into a single Q&A session. In doing so, the writers of Decibel have assembled a formidable amount of information and answered many of the hanging questions about these metal epics.

Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces covers twenty-five band/album pairings and, while not all will be enjoyed by everyone, the wizardry of its selection is that just about everyone can find at least a dozen that will interest them. It brings the classics to life in a new form.

Read our review of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, by Albert Mudrian.

Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces, by Albert Mudrian


Precious Metal:
Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces
edited by Albert Mudrian
365 pages, Da Capo Press, $14

The 25 Masterpieces
Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell
Diamond Head – Lightning to the Nations
Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales
Slayer – Reign in Blood
Napalm Death – Scum
Repulsion – Horrified
Morbid Angel – Altars of Madness
Obituary – Cause of Death
Entombed – Left Hand Path
Paradise Lost – Gothic
Carcass – Necroticism — Descanting the Insalubrious
Cannibal Corpse – Tomb of the Mutilated
Darkthrone – Transilvanian Hunger
Kyuss – Welcome to Sky Valley
Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve
Monster Magnet – Dopes to Infinity
At the Gates – Slaughter of the Soul
Opeth – Orchid
Down – NOLA
Emperor – In the Nightside Eclipse
Sleep – Jerusalem
The Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity
Botch – We Are the Romans
Converge – Jane Doe
Eyehategod – Take as Needed for Pain

 

albert_mudrian-precious_metal_decibel_presents_the_stories_behind_25_extreme_metal_masterpiecesRock journalism challenges even the bravest writer. Musicians are not known for being articulate, nor is it easy to pin them down, and lore snowballs in that vacuum. For this reason it’s great to see the series of in-depth explorations that have come about recently regarding many classic events of metal. As musicians age, given that musicians have a shorter life-span than average, this is also a race against time in many cases.

Albert Mudrian’s Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces presents a welcome addition to the genre of historical metal journalism. Combing through archives, the writers of each piece compiled band statements about the album and put them together in linear form, like a conversation. The result is a whole lot of information delivered in a very digestible form, with the extraneous confusion of live interviews edited right out of the picture. It’s a good starting point for anyone looking into these historical nodal points in the evolution of metal.

Mudrian seems aware how easily a book like this could become repetitive. Not just in the answers, where musicians might make roughly similar statements about touring, band formation, the troubles of collaboration and so forth, but in the similarity of bands. If for example he added another three Swedish death metal bands, it might start to get a little bit stuffy in the virtual room he’s created. Instead, he gives us space between acts and a wide variety of acts, but avoids the really awful nu-metal and tek-deth. However, the price of that spaciousness is that he includes bands like Monster Magnet and Kyuss which really aren’t metal at all.

There are some shockers in content, too. Some of these bands, despite their professions of various depraved behaviors, are insanely business-like in how they go about getting recorded and published. Sleep, Cannibal Corpse, Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch and Converge really had their act together. For a few moments, it was more like reading Forbes than Decibel, but it’s really gratifying to see this side of the business portrayed honestly. If you want your music heard, there’s a certain amount of business activity that must precede that event.

On the whole, these chapters are extremely well edited including the choice of material. They are in question-answer form, where the questions are usually prompts about historical events or general questions applied to specific moments or activities. When an incidental or minor character is cited, he or she speaks up for a few questions and then fades out. The bulk of the material favors the most articulate band members and major actors, but the writers shoehorn in as many diverse perspectives as they can. This makes reading Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces feel like being in a comfortable pub with these bands, on a rainy day, with a tape recorder next to the ashtray.

Each chapter corresponds to a classic album and comes with an intro paragraph. If anything, here’s where the book could benefit from some uniformity and toning down the “rock journalism” aspects. Perhaps not a just-the-facts-ma’am approach, but more of an assessment of where the band fits into history and why people like them, and leave it at that. Some of these were over the top for the actual function they serve. However, among the bombast is a lot of good information.

At that point the interview(s) compiled into a single form take over. Most of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces is the bands speaking, and that is the power of Mudrian’s editing and the work of his colleagues. They’ve trimmed out the transient stuff, the window dressing and repetition, and left us with clear statements from the bands that show them in their own voices and approaching the situation at their own angle. This also helps create an epic feel to the epic interviews because it’s a compilation of the best moments of the band commenting on this album, put into one form that flows naturally.

Was the intro, “Human,” something you had conceived of before you went into the studio?
Ain: Yes, we had the idea before we went into the studio — we wanted to loop a scream and make it perpetual. We also wanted to use it as an intro for the live shows. A regular human scream would never last that long, so we wanted to loop it and make it sound like a scream from hell, like how you would scream if the pain was everlasting.
Warrior: We had talked about it, but we were basically still laymen, so we had no idea how we could put it together. So we told Horst what we wanted to do, and he proposed how to do it. But as I said, we only had six days to do everything. If one thing failed, we would’ve gone over budget or had to go home. So, in hindsight, it’s a miracle that tracks like “Human” or “Danse Macabre” came out the way we wanted them to. We couldn’t rehearse some of those parts, you know? I have no idea how we did that in just a few days, especially given our lack of experience. But therein lies one of the strengths of Celtic Frost to this day: Martin and I usually visualize certain pieces of music down to the last detail without even touching an instrument.

This excerpt reveals the power of Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces. In the midst of the mundane description of studio struggles, Tom Warrior articulates part of the essence of his band. Many such moments of insight, casually and offhandedly mentioned in describing some rather ordinary thing, flesh out this book and make it more than a fan’s quest but a resource for musicians and anyone else curious about the origins and process of creating extreme metal.

Not everyone will agree on certain aspects of this book and naturally any choices made along these lines are divisive. However, the book has enough to offer just about anyone who loves metal so that the purchase will not be regretted, even if there are chapters you skipped. In fact, I recommend skipping those chapters and approaching this book as a buffet. No matter what sub-genres you adore, you’re going to have at least five you’re dying to read, another five you’re very excited to read, and another five you’re curious about, and the rest will be uncertain but you might find some interesting information there, as I did.

It is impossible to find just 25 to represent metal. Some of these choices are nods to the music industry and mainstream fanbase, like Dillinger Escape Plan, or to history, like Botch, who were the vanguard of the metalcore movement. Some are near-misses like the apologetic At the Gates treatment of their best-seller, but this interview also confirms a lot that reviewers said about this album, namely that it was retro to the past generation of metal and somewhat hasty. Some others, like Converge and Eyehategod, seem marginal in that these bands spent a lot of time disclaiming metal back in the day.

On the whole however Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces offers a good pan-and-scan perspective of what was going on in metal at the time, and by showing us the fly-over accumulation of variety, Mudrian and Decibel show us not only what these bands were doing, but the forces against which they were struggling to define themselves. The result is a treasure hunt of a book, bristling with secrets and previously undiscovered pathways, for those who enjoy extreme heavy metal.