We previously posted an article about Mike Browning being disgruntled over some happenings with David Vincent and his wife. DeathMetal.org has offered to give Mr. Browning an outlet to shed some light on the happenings of the early days of Morbid Angel, as well as clear up any confusion that may be encircling the metal underground.
Not many people have such an extensive resume when it comes to being involved with innovative bands in Death Metal. Mike Browning helped mold Morbid Angel, then he helped to create Nocturnus. He has also played and recorded with Incubus, Acheron and After Death.
We are fortunate that Mr. Browning has given us his time to answer these questions.
Hi Mike. Thank you for your time. I have often thought of early Morbid Angel as Slayer on steroids. Why did you guys decide to take the music in such an extreme manner?
It was really what was just coming out of us naturally. Back then we weren’t trying to do or be anything other than an evil chaotic band that was real. We literally did Necronomicon rituals before we played invoking the Ancient Ones and then with that energy we would start playing. We even did it for rehearsals as well as live shows.
There have been confusing recounts of the Abominations of Desolation recording session. Was this Morbid Angel’s first official album? If so, why has the band referred to it as a demo?
Abominations of Desolation was the first Morbid Angel album recorded. We signed to David Vincent’s label Goreque Records and we went to North Carolina to record and David even hired the legendary Bill Metoyer to engineer the record. So even though it was not released until later, it really is the first Morbid Angel record and not a demo.
I don’t know why the band says it’s only a demo. You would have to ask them that. They also claim that Sterling Scarborough played bass on the recording, which is not true either. It was John Ortega.
After Abominations of Desolation was recorded you returned to Florida and Trey stayed with David Vincent in North Carolina. Why did he stay there?
Yes the rest of the band went back to Tampa after we recorded while Trey stayed alone with David to do the mixing. It was told to us that it would be cheaper to just keep Trey there for the mixing, but when Trey came back he acted like a completely different person. He said we had to fire John Ortega and that David had found a new bass player for us which was Sterling Scarborough.
What was the actual reason for your departure from Morbid Angel? I heard that there was a physical fight with you and Trey.
Yes that is what happened. I stopped by his house one afternoon on my lunch hour from work and saw my girlfriends car there so I kicked the door in and found them on the couch kissing and I beat up Trey pretty bad. We were all pretty young back then so that is how I handled it by kicking his ass, but by doing that it caused the band to split up and that is when Richard and Trey moved to North Carolina and started playing with David, Wayne Hartsell and Sterling. I got Gino Marino and reformed Sterling’s old band Incubus.
Morbid Angel appear to be twirling into Skrillex influences more than Death Metal. Their last album Illud Divinum Insanus has been mocked by fans from all over the world. Why do you think they recorded such a weird album?
Well from what I heard that most of the music was written by Trey and he let David do all the lyrics. I’m not really sure if that is the truth, but it came from a pretty reliable source.
David Vincent has signed on to be in a film about pornstar Vaness Del Rio. What are your thoughts on this?
I don’t even want to have any thoughts about it!!! Seriously though I think it will only damage his reputation with Morbid Angel, but hey I am sure all he cares about is that he will make money and maybe turn it into a new career for himself.
Gen Vincent (David Vincent’s wife) has gotten you banned from the nightclub ‘The Castle’ in Ybor City. Why has she gone to such measures?
It’s because I made fun of David and their last album, but of course I didn’t start it all. There were so many people already making fun of it before it even came out that when I finally heard some of it I started making fun of it too. But I guess since I live in the same town and actually just a few blocks away from his house and that I was actually in the band that it was me that started all the jokes about him and the last album. So I guess Gen thought she would try to get back at me by having me banned from the local Gothic club because Gen is very personal friends with the owner of the club. I rarely go there anymore. Just once or twice a year when they have the bigger yearly events there, so it’s no big deal being banned. It was more about the point of it.
Thank you for clearing up some of the confusion that has been encircling the metal community. What are your plans for the near future?
Just staying busy doing both After Death and some live Nocturnus shows. There has been so much interest in people wanting to see the old Nocturnus stuff live that my band After Death has learned the whole The Key album and we are doing these shows and playing the entire album straight through. Then we’re throwing in some old Morbid Angel songs from Abominations of Desolation versions for the encores.
I also want to say THANKS to everyone who has supported all the music I have done over all these years and hopefully I will be able to continue the chaos for many more!
Wading through the endless memes and cat pictures on social media can unearth some interesting news.
Mike Browning has long been a lone voice correcting the happenings of Morbid Angel after he left the band. For many people there is confusion about the status of the Abominations of Desolation album. Most fans that have followed Morbid Angel have heard that it was just a demo recording, but Mike Browning has always stood behind the notion that it was intended to be their first full-length. According to Mike Browning’s Facebook page he was recently barred from a nightclub over David Vincent’s wife assuming that Mr. Browning initiated a smear campaign against Morbid Angel, which seems very unlikely. Morbid Angel started their own smear campaign on themselves by releasing Illud Divinum Insanus.
The Death Melodies Series (DMS) continues with modernist Richard Wagner.
Born in Germany during 1813, Wagner composed his first opera The Fairies when he was 20. He wrote many operas and had successes as a composer and conductor. However, political controversy hindered many aspects of his life.
Wagner was discontent during the industrialization of Europe. Mankind’s lust for advancing technology left many areas poverty-stricken. He became a Socialist in hopes that a revolution would rectify the issues in Germany. Wagner had a small role in the May Uprising in Dresden which proved unsuccessful. He fled to Paris, then relocated to Switzerland for eleven years.
While in political exile, Wagner desired to resurrect the Norse spirit of ancient Europe. He’s best known for the monumental work Der Ring des Nibelungen, which is the most ambitious undertaking by any one person in European music. The Ring Cycle took Wagner over 25 years to accomplish, as well as having a playing time of 15 hours.
Wagner delved into many different Scandinavian sources and fashioned a grandiose medieval drama. Dwarves, Valkyries, heroes and monsters all had roles in the operas. He wanted his work to help strengthen political principles, but he also managed to craft some of the most stunning works in classical music.
In 1840, Wagner started composing his Faust symphony which was inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s play Faust. The symphony was never completed and it was instead turned into a single-movement concert overture.
We recently spoke to Hod guitarist Lord Necron about their new demo as well as previous happenings with the band. That interview can be read here.
Now their new The Uncreated demo has been made available for purchase. The demo shows the band taking their sound further with more dynamics, aggression and violence, while staying true to the styling of their first album Serpent.
Fans that liked their previous work will definitely enjoy this new offering from Hod. Those interested can purchase a digital demo for $5.00 USD at their official bandcamp presence.
The pounding drums and blaring riffs of Kommandant ring loud throughout the world. While they appear to be becoming a prominent force in the underground and beyond, Kommandant have defied standards and brought upon themselves a most unique take on black metal.
Here in the United States, Kommandant have bewildered those who have witnessed their live shows. They’ve brought rather good compositions into the fold, as well as throwing a live experience that would make Stalin’s mustache fall off.
Totalitarian Black Metal, War Metal, or whatever you want to call Kommandant… We present an exclusive interview to pick their brains:
Why was Kommandant formed and what do you want to express?
Kommandant was formed to record the music that we wanted to hear, to be the band that we would want to see.
There are members that have been involved with other bands such as Sarcophagus, Forest of Impaled, Nachtmystium, Demonic Christ, and so forth. How have all of these resumes meshed? Is Kommandant the next generation of the ideas in these other bands?
I don’t think that Kommandant is an extension of any of those bands. Each members’ individual experiences are their own, it is the expression of those individual influences in congress that create Kommandant. Even if one person did bring something to the table that was directly influenced by one of their past projects, by the time the rest of us got done with it, it would sound like Kommandant, not whatever it came from originally.
What are your thoughts on the book “1984”? How would you place in juxtaposition the despotic similarities between your music and totalitarian mindset? If you’ve read both, how do you compare the dystopian societies in “1984” and “Brave New World”?
Orwell’s vision of constant, total war and constant, total surveillance certainly rings true today, but I feel that our society is closer in mindset to Huxley’s interpretation. Orwell’s world was one of strict rationing and information restriction. Ours is closer to Brave New World where people are placated not by direct oppression, but by distraction. Orwell cautioned that what we fear will control us, Huxley postulated that what we love will control us. Not to say that fear isn’t a strong driving factor in our lives (our “war on terror” is certainly analogous to the Huxley’s description of the war on Eurasia/Eastasia), but mindless entertainment and an overload of triviality is our soma.
Kommandant often uses atonal technique. What other techniques do you use in song compositions? Do you compose by starting with a riff, an image, an idea, or some other method?
Every song is different. We write collaboratively, so one person may have one idea and someone else takes it and builds on it, or warps it into something completely different. We’ve started with nothing more than a turn of phrase or a vague idea and it takes on a life of its own.
I’m embarrassed to ask this, but metal’s genres proliferate like bunnies. Are you war metal? Black metal? Is it all nonsense? Or are these not genre terms, but simply descriptive terms?
We’ve been called a great many things. We don’t really think of ourselves in terms of genre; we don’t write strictly about war, so we’re not really a war metal band. We’re certainly more black metal than death metal (lyrically, visually and philosophically). Some even say they hear an industrial influence in our music.
All in all, it is all nonsense, but it’s human nature to categorize things.
Much like Gwar, Kommandant is known for live theatrics almost more than the music itself. What initiated this dystopic theme? How has this brought Kommandant to a higher podium?
We set out with a clear vision to be the band that we would want to see live. We felt that too many good bands are not visually exciting live. Corpse paint and spikes do not a live show make. If you’re going to go out to see a band, you want to be enthralled, caught up in the momentum, suspending your disbelief until the band leaves the stage. The best shows are the ones where you forget that those people on stage are mortals like the people standing there watching. You want to feel like you’re witness to something extraordinary.
It does seem to cause people to stop and take notice, but it is also very polarizing. People either love it or hate it, there is no middle ground.
What ideologies or beliefs motivate Kommandant? The word ‘Kommandant’ is German for ‘commander’ and the band uses the maxim ‘Hate is Strength.’ Is there a political ideology here? What about another ideology? What meaning do you derive and hope to communicate through using authoritarian imagery?
Kommandant is art imitating life. We are a reflection of the direction that we see the world moving in. Notice that I say reflection, not condemnation or commendation. We do not have a political ideology. Our philosophy is that one should embrace the traditional virtues of direct action, uncompromising speech, and reverence for knowledge.
Do you worry that you’re going to mislead anyone with your use of 1940s era uniforms, German language and war imagery?
What people take mistakenly away from our imagery is more telling of who they are than what we are.
North Korea is in the news a lot lately. How do they compare to your ideal warlike society?
We’ve never said anything about a warlike society being ideal. If anything, direct action and clear intent prevents more wars than they start. There are more mentions of war in the questions asked to us than in our own writings.
What books, magazines and websites do you read for information? Do you seek information that reinforces your outlook, or “broadens” it?
We strive to have a well-rounded and accurately-informed view of the world around us. To only view the world through the scope of our previously-formed outlook would be intellectually dishonest.
What influences shaped the formation of Kommandant and its music, and what type of music do you see yourself making in the future?
We bring a lot of individual influences to the table in our creative process. We can find inspiration in film, literature,architecture, current events, personal experiences or individual philosophies.
Are you working on new material now, or touring? What’s ahead in the next year or so for Kommandant?
Both. Our next show is going to be our first trip overseas, to Kings of Black Metal Festival in April. After that we are playing Maryland Deathfest XI and then heading into the studio to record material for a split 7” we have coming up. We will be returning in July to New York City to play Martyrdoom Festival again. After that we plan to finish writing and start recording our next as-yet-unnamed album.
The Death Melodies Series (DMS) continues with the modernist composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
At the age of nine it became apparent that Shostakovich was a child prodigy on piano. He was also impassioned for composition. His first major musical achievement was his first symphony when he was nineteen.
He had successes and failures in the Soviet Union. In 1936, Stalin attended a premiere of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth and was noted that he laughed at the performance. Soon after, critics insulted Shostakovich to the point that his commissions were substantially decreased and he became poor.
Shostakovich had a rather saddening life. During the Great Purge in the late 1930’s, many of the composer’s relatives and friends perished. In 1960, Shostakovich decided to join the Communist Party to become the General Secretary of the Composer’s Union. However, his health started to decline soon after. He was diagnosed with polio and encountered many falls that crippled him. Shostakovich was keen to excessively drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes, which led to his death. In 1975 he died of lung cancer.
I decided to share Shostakovich’s first violin concerto. It was written when there were severe censorships and hostilities from the Russian government. Shostakovich didn’t publish this concerto until after Stalin’s death.
San Antonio’s Hod are no strangers to the metal scene. Seemingly playing live every weekend in Texas, they’ve amassed a strong underground following since their inception in 2007.
I received an exclusive listen to three of the songs that will be on their sophomore album Book of the Worm. Fans of their first album Serpent will be appropriately pleased with this stronger display, which is a natural progression from their earlier material. The most noticeable difference is that the drums are played faster than their earlier recordings. The riffs flow like they did on Serpent, but with more dynamics.
Carl “Lord Necron” Snyder shed some light on the band’s progressions throughout its existence:
In 2007, Hod released its debut demo, Cry and Piss Yourself, which led to Ibex Moon Records releasing your debut album Serpent in 2009. How would you say your music has progressed since Serpent?
The band has jelled together more. I believe the writing flows better. The band has a better and vision and identity of where it is going. Also we have a quite a few lineup of changes which has left me as the sole riff writer of the band up till now. So our next album Book of the Worm was placed on my shoulders to finish up and do all the guitar tracking. The good news is Blackwolf our new guitarist is bringing some devastating riffs to the table for new material.
You’ve been involved in the Texas Metal scene since it began, involving yourself numerous bands. How would you compare the early days to the Texas scene today?
The 80s and early 90s had much better turnouts for shows. Local shows were way more attended than nowadays. But I think now it easier for your music to reach more people with the internet. So more people are listening, but less are attending. MP3 culture is a double edge sword. So much is available but people do not get absorbed into albums like they used to. Kids download entire discographies of bands, and fly through the albums. How can you really grasp an album that fast. We used to buy maybe three albums tops over a two week period and just listen to those records over and over. But I admit quality control was better back then too. How are you going to say getting Seven Churches, Bonded By Blood, and Hell Awaits at the record shop compares to getting 25 albums on MP3 by some obscure bands that you are never going to listen to again.
HOD is known as one of the most hardworking bands in Texas, playing live every weekend it seems. This appears to be a 180 since your Thornspawn days. Has playing live often strengthened the band?
Of course playing live strengthens the band. Your band can only improve by taking the stage. Real bands play live. Real men take to the stage. This nonsense of just releasing music and never performing live is boring and a waste of time. The true power of metal is to hear in its organic form live. You cannot beat that feeling. Keep your bedroom bands in the bedroom, and stop trying to compete with real bands. I hate it and it needs to be put to a death.
The Texas scene is looking forward to your next album, Book of the Worm, can you shed some light on it for our readers? Lyrical themes, progression in sound, etc.
We all know what to expect from Hod. Death and Darkness. More Lovecraftian themes and influences in the lyrics for sure. It will be better produced for sure. The guitar tone is crushing! The tempo is faster. It’s like Serpent x 100. Beer’s vocal performance is just deranged and his delivery has really improved.
Will all of the songs featured on the “Uncreated” demo be on your full-length? Is there label lined up already, or is this demo to get a new one?
Yes they will. That is why the demo is being printed up super-limited. The demo is to showcase the material for the album. We are not sure what label we will go with. We are in no rush just to get it out. We will make sure when we sign with a label it is what we want. Also, we wanted the people that had been loyal to Hod to hear some of the new stuff.
What have been Hod’s most successful/memorable shows?
The tour with Marduk was quite an experience. They set the bar high every night and it opens your eyes to what you have to do to make an impression in the metal scene. Canadian Metal fans rule. Of course Houston scene is awesome. Austin is strong too. Mesa Arizona was killer when we toured with Monstrosity. Sorry for no specifics. It kinda all runs together at this point.
What advice would your give to the younger metal bands that are emerging in Texas?
Just practice hard and be ready to lay it all on the stage. Don’t get up there unsure of yourself. Don’t waste your time and more importantly the audiences’ time. Be prepared. Because most likely it will not go smooth. Record a kickass demo too! Don’t worry about freaking getting signed right off the bat.
You live and breathe the old school, what are your all-time favorite albums?
Sleepwalker has decided to come out from the shadows to indulge us further regarding his projects:
Since creating Forbidden Records you’ve released numerous albums and splits. What are some of your favorite releases that you’d like our readers to check out?
93! I would have to say that they are all killer and out of print. Each release has had its own relevance and meaning. I was really happy to put out Thornspawn / Black Angel, two legendary bands, along with re-issuing Kult ov Azazel’s demo material. That is not to make light of Immolith or Draconis Infernum, as their tape releases were killer companions to the CD counterparts. I hope to re-issue the older A Transylvanian Funeral material soon as well, so I suppose fans will get a chance to hear that material again…
How has Forbidden Records grown since its inception?
This month, March of 2013, marks several ‘firsts’ for Forbidden. The distro is growing in size and I am able to mark all of our CDs @ $5. I would rather they sell and be enjoyed than try and get every last drop of money from the fans. The new A Transylvanian Funeral and Goatcraft albums out this month are our first Pro CD, Redbook quality release, and I was able to hire Clawhammer to help out with the press push. It has grown to the point where I almost can’t do it all myself, which is great. I have also expanded into selling occult amulets and talismans, as well as occult books from Crowley, Summers, Mathers, etc.
The occult and metal have always been a huge part of my life so it is a natural progression. Forbidden Records is also still a recording studio, as it really began, although I rarely invite clients into its doors and remain private. When I have, I have been very selective and not disappointed in the outcome.
Why did you start Forbidden Radio?
Forbidden Radio started for many of the same reasons Forbidden Magazine started. I was operating a studio under the name of Third Eye Audio and writing a magazine when I put out the first A Transylvanian Funeral album. The magazine was fun but I found myself with more and more responsibility online while the print version sat on a self and the interviews I secured went nowhere. I understand the difficulties of running a zine so I opted to leave and start my own, since I had an album I wanted to promote, why rely on someone else to promote it for me when I can do it myself on in my own zine? With Forbidden Radio, it was the same situation. Many have great mp3 collections they have downloaded via Limewire or whatever it is these days to listen to them mutter incoherently in to a $20 radio shack microphone makes my skin crawl. I am not hoping that DJ Tonedef is gonna pay his internet bill this month and be able to do the show and promote my songs. No way! Just another case of DIY. There are a lot of great internet DJs out there and I had opportunity to be one but I know I don’t have the time or interest so I made Forbidden Radio, where bands can upload their mp3 and be in the queue of songs being rotated. There are no DJs, no advertisements nothing but streaming aggressive music.
It’s very admirable that you run Forbidden Magazine. The internet has garroted most DIY publications. Why did you elect to print physical copies of your magazine instead of stockpiling it all online?
I don’t know, to be honest. I enjoy making things, tangible products as opposed to files and software. I have all the magazines online in PDF form for people to read in whatever form they want but I have always been a reader, I still collect books. I work in a bookstore. It is in my blood to turn pages. Blogs and webzines are a dime a dozen but they are usually more current and up to the minute, which is nice, but a zine that interviewed Mayhem in 1990 is more appealing than a webzine that interviewed Mayhem in 2012. Printed zines are not disposable like the junk food internet is. Labels like to see their material represented in print as do the bands. Fans can go either way but if a fan collects Inquisition records, patches, buttons and zines with their interviews he has something to work with in printed form, online, not so much. The online he has to share, he can’t claim his territory with the online interview and add it to his collection. He is forced to share. I like giving people the ability to mark their territory, to not share, to have something of which only 100 copies were made, revert to primal animal character instincts, etc.
You have interviewed numerous bands for Forbidden Magazine. I noticed in some interviews you inquire about occult influences. What are your thoughts on the occult?
I have always had an interest in things occult, or ‘hidden’. My mother was an accomplished numerologist and had an uncle who was a successful hypnotist and psychic so I was exposed to things that others may not have been, all of which were positive, of course. I don’t consider myself a satanist or devil worshiper as other who do not know me or my character do. I do not discuss my spiritual practices as that only weakens their potency but anyone who is familiar with Crowley’s 28 Theorems should know that I adhere to their principles and methodology. I have experienced far too much amazing ‘changes in conformity with Will’ to believe anything less than the Truth in Magick and the Higher Self. Crowley says the same thing that Chopra and Robbins does: we live in abundance, change your paradigm and become a receptacle for your desires. Get out of your own fucking way and let the power flow through. While I study and practice Thelema, Tarot and Western Hermeticsim, I also find the practice of Chaos Magick to be of worth, as the complex systems of the Golden Dawn, QBL and Enochian can be so multi-faceted that it become unproductive. Sure, you may become a wise old mystic after 20 years of studying and meditating upon the QBL but that understanding is of little practical use when you can’t manifest a parking spot or get a better paying job. I was initially drawn to the work of LaVey as a teenager, as most rebel youth are, the ‘practical’ or ‘materialist’ sense of LaVey’s Satanism is appealing to me as well, as I spent years of my life without money, without direction, without the power that money brings, like being able to print a magazine, put out albums, buy mixing boards, etc. Unfortunately, LaVey puts his Satanists on an island, disconnecting them from the infinite universe and its 100 trillion stars. That is where I switch gears and find myself picking and choosing amongst different faiths and making things work for me. I guess that makes me a heretic of some sort or another.
You appear to be a workhorse. Is it strenuous to operate so many projects at once?
Yeah, it is and I try not to bitch about it too, as I would ‘do’ than ‘want’. I just had the conversation with a friend that I would rather be hard to work with and show a strong track record of success as opposed to be ‘easy going’ and get nothing done. The hardest thing is not making time to go the gym, to be honest. I miss working out and having that time to myself, for myself, alone. When the time comes that a project is suffering because I am trying to juggle too many projects, I hope I am smart enough to give some one else the reigns, hence my hiring of Clawhammer for March’s releases. I don’t gamble at casinos, but I do bet on myself and Forbidden to get shit done. I have watched so many young bands rely on other people to get them somewhere they want to be instead of taking it themselves…fuck that shit! I am humble but when I look at what I have done, it feels good. I wrote a pretty heavy introduction to Forbidden Magazine III, reminding bands that if they work forty hours a week at a shitty day job, why can’t they work just as hard for their precious fucking art? I just can’t wait on handouts from anyone and the zine, the label and the band all kind of fit together well anyway. Malcolm X said that no one can give you anything, if you are a man, you take it.
What are the influences for A Transylvanian Funeral?
I have a lot of influences musically. Mayhem was the first band to turn me onto black metal. I hear so much new music from Forbidden Magazine it is hard to gauge what makes it through my subconscious filter into my guitar… I think the sound has changed enough over time that it hasn’t grown old, and it was always my intention to reinvent my sound or creative process with each album. I enjoy all extreme music but find myself listening to completely different stuff for pleasure, when I am driving, for example, this week I have been listening to old Wax Trax! stuff, before that I was listening an album that I mixed of a local psychedelic / rock band. There are parts of me that just like playing Black Sabbath songs standing in front of my amp, rattling the windows, too.
Being the sole member of A Transylvanian Funeral, how would you place in juxtaposition your new album Gorgos Goetia to previous works? Is there a personal rumination promulgating in your music?
I am certain that I do have a message or proclamation that I am making in my music, it is just that it changes from song to song, album to album. Gorgos Goetia has a focus on the creative energy of Magick, its power and properties but every song is not necessarily about Magick, unless of course you reference Crowley’s Theorem #1… When I started writing for Gorgos Goetia, I didn’t want a drum machine, so I got a shitty drum kit and beat the hell out of it the best I could. I didn’t want layers of guitars, so I recorded one track and used a delay for fake stereo. Minimal production in terms of EQ, compression, gates, etc. Anyone who has heard the previous album, ‘the Outsider’, can hear keyboards, pianos, samples, drum machines, multiple guitars, elaborate reverbs and a very coherent flow of songs from start to finish. I wanted Gorgos Goetia to be more disjointed, less of a comfortable listen, harsher on the ears and more a collection of songs that a ‘concept’ album.
What are the themes of the title and lyrics for Gorgos Goetia?
The themes vary but are based in Magick. ‘Moonchild’ has little to do with the novel and more to do with the novel’s point, the birth of a Magick child, the creation fashioned from a union between the Will and the Universe. Potential + Preparedness = Creation. ‘The Supreme Rite of Transmutation’ is a celebration of power, a giving of thanks and acknowledgement of the divinity within. ‘Night Hags’, on the other hand, is based on a story I read from one of Montague Summers’ collection of witchcraft and vampire legends about these vampire slaves, or ‘night hags’, as he were referred to, that would enter the home and steal the body of a soon to decease corpse. I enjoyed that story, because in it, the hags didn’t use ‘black magic’ to steal the body, they simply left a bottle of rum outside the door and when dying’s family were all drunk and fast asleep, they simply walked in and took his body. Depending on your perspective of things, they can appear either mundane or magickal. Many times, I have a song title in my head and work from that point forward, ‘Hymn to a Gorgon’ was one of those instances. From that song, I derived the album title, Gorgos Goetia, which is a difficult translation from Greek to ‘terrible sorcery’. I plan to release a collection of all lyrics from A Transylvanian Funeral in book form, as they have never been released previously, other than in PDF form and two songs with Plutonian Shore, ‘Moonchild’ and ‘The Supreme Rite of Transmutation’.
The split Alchemical Manifestations has received good reviews. Why did you choose to do a split with Plutonian Shore?
Plutonian Shore was visiting Tucson and contacted me, wanted to hang out and we did. They came over and we sat in the studio listening to Snotarar and talked about Magick and putting out an album together. We both had material to release and it seemed natural. It was great meeting them and we are both fans of each others music, I just hope to repeat the experience sooner than later. I just heard today that they sold out of the cassette version of the split but I still have copies of the CD available. I also wanted to share a split with a band that operated differently from my own. They are a full band with two guitars and keyboardist, play live, etc. where as I do not, etc. We vary in methods but share similar results or goals, so it made for an interesting and contrasting split, which I think creates more listenability and interest.
A Transylvanian Funeral has never played a show and has declined summons from others to do so. Will A Transylvanian Funeral ever perform live?
I doubt it but I never say never. I don’t disrespect what other people do but feel disrespected when someone asks me to play a bar and doesn’t take the time to research who they are contacting. A mass email to 1000 bands inviting them to ‘pay to play’ is garbage and I will not suffer a fool. If and when I do play live, I would like to document the event, video, audio, etc. and make a nice release out of it as it will probably not occur again. I just find I get more done alone. Maybe I spent too many years playing with people whose ideas did not coincide with my own and things would be different if I were different but if it isn’t broke, why fix it? Plus I would need to do it in Texas as all the potential members reside there currently…!
Thank you for taking the time to enlighten our readers about your exploits. What advice would you give others that are interested in creating their own record label, performing solo in a black metal band, or establishing their own magazine?
Thank you for taking the time to write the interview and push my material, it means a lot to me! If someone is reading this and wants to do the things mentioned, remember that your success is your responsibility, not a label’s, not a magazine, not a DJ or promoter or club or a drummer or his three girlfriends. There is a power and a means to use that power to get what you want in life. Trust your instinct and be prepared to get knocked on your ass more than once. Once you decide to stand back up and keep fighting, that’s when life will give you more of what you want. 93!
“There must be some one quality without which a work of art cannot exist; possessing which, in the least degree, no work is altogether worthless. What is this quality? What quality is shared by all objects that provoke our aesthetic emotions? What quality is common to Sta. Sophia and the windows at Chartres, Mexican sculpture, a Persian bowl, Chinese carpets, Giotto’s frescoes at Padua, and the masterpieces of Poussin, Piero della Francesca, and Cezanne? Only one answer seems possible — significant form. In each, lines and colors combined in a particular way, certain forms and relations of forms, stir our aesthetic emotions.“ – Clive Bell, Art
Metal photography often slides off our radar because we have no point of reference. We are familiar discussing the metal scene, but not the metal photography scene. In addition, it’s hard to separate the serious from the casual in this realm.
It appears that every musician’s girlfriend automatically becomes a band photographer. Usually the result of their concert shooting culminates on social networking sites to flaunt to their friends, or possibly provide evidence that the night before existed before they all blacked out drunk.
However, there are professionals that meddle in this field. New York photographer Peter Beste distinguished himself after releasing his acclaimed book True Norwegian Black Metal which documented his trek across Scandinavia for 7 years in the black metal scene.
Others have taken different paths. Swedish photographer Daniel Falk from Framednoise.com and Close-Up Magazine is often in contact with the protagonists of Scandinavia’s music scene. He’s become well-known for his work in Europe and is spreading in fame to the USA.
Luckily, he’s agreed to shed some light on his craft and motivations:
What inspired you to get into music/metal photography?
I’ve always liked music. I bought my first album (ABBA!) when I was 6 years old, then I started to play the drums at 8 and saw my first Iron Maiden concert back in 1983.
The photography was more or less by coincidence though. In 2004 I bought myself a DSLR for the holidays and some months later I was invited to a friends concert and took the camera along. I was absolutely crap, got pissed, read a ton to find out WHY I sucked, bought better lenses and shot more gigs. By summer I applied as a photographer at Metalnyheter; a now defunct Swedish metal webzine and I have been shooting ever since.
I guess I just discovered something about myself; that I have a good eye for capturing moments and that I could combine it with my love for metal to create something that others appreciate.
Outside of music photography, what other projects have you shot in the past?
I really don’t shoot much else than music. I do wedding photography every now and then when people ask me to, and I went on a photo trip to Chernobyl a few years ago, but that’s basically it. I’m not the kind of person that photographs my whole life and brings heavy gear with me everywhere, I need to have a purpose in order to be inspired. I have a few projects in the pipeline but it’s hard to find the time and energy, especially since I already have to turn down requests from bands.
Have you exhibited your art anywhere?
I had an exhibition at a café/concert venue called Musikens Hus in Gothenburg back in 2008, but nothing since concentrating on my work. I had several large canvas prints at the Gothenburg Sound-exhibition back in January, but it’s kind of hard to find places that want photos of sweaty men on their walls and find sponsors for the prints.
You’re known throughout Scandinavia for event photography. How do you overcome obstaclessuch as poor lighting, moving subjects, ect?
I can’t lie, I have GOOD gear. I use expensive cameras that can keep noise levels down and bright lenses that allow me to shoot at the smallest clubs with piss poor lighting. Other than that it’s just down to experience. You learn by shooting A LOT. Of course, there are times when nothing works and you feel like you don’t have a single usable shot, but I still very much prefer shooting small bands that I like; to larger bands at better venues that I don’t care for. I’m not a fame-whore and have skipped several headliners at large festivals just to see/shoot a small band at another stage.
Since you started Framednoise.com, you’ve been enlisted to shoot for Close-Up Magazine. Has this opened up more opportunities for projects that you haven’t thought you’d do?
Absolutely. Through the magazine I can apply for accreditation/photo permits to concerts/festivals around Europe that otherwise wouldn’t be very interested in me as a freelancer. I also get opportunities and assignments that force me to push my own limits and step outside of my comfort zone. It also works as a kind of “seal of quality” and obviously spreads my work to new potential contacts. I have made lots of new friends.
What advice would you offer beginners that are interested in music photography?
Know your gear and its limitations. That’s my main advice. The more experience you have; the less you need rely on the automatic functions. If you have a DSLR with a simple kit lens stand close to the stage and use the bright wide end of the lens. The next step is to buy a bright lens for those small clubs, such as a cheap 30mm or a 50mm f1.8. Always shoot in RAW-format for maximum flexibility. Flash? Nopes, not until you REALLY know what you’re doing.
Start out by shooting friends and local bands, you need experience and if you can handle the small clubs, you can handle bloody well about anything! Be nice. And LOVE the music. The more you like the music you shoot; the better your photos will be and the less you’ll care about the countless hours you will spend in front of the computer editing the photos. And yeah, learn the editing part too. It’s one thing to snap a photo and another thing to push it to its full potential.
Look at photos that you like and try to figure out WHY you like them; what mood they capture and why they make you feel like if you really were that at that concert.
Are there any historical metal events, like particular concerts or locations in time, that you wish you could have been present to shoot? How would you approach such shoots?
Personally, I would have LOVED to see/shoot Rainbow back in the Stargazer era with Cozy Powell on the drums since he was one of my idols as a young drummer. More recently, I wish I had been at the last Dissection concert in Stockholm, they’re such an iconic band that have influenced so many others and considering what happened later those photos probably would have been very emotional and significant for many fans.
And Iron Maiden during the Powerslave tour. I REALLY wanted to go but my sister wasn’t too keen on having to look after her younger brother and I had to stay at home ;-( And the stage production was AMAZING! I would have loved to stand there with a really wide angle lense and capture the action. The closer the better!
Aosoth’s third album III: Violence & Variation hemmed in repetitive riffs and enshrouded them into bleak atmospheric black metal. Reminiscent of Antaeus, Aosoth twist and contrive distorted tones to create an intransigent body of work.
The band expressed their progression from III to IV:
“We’ve spent such a huge amount of time on defining a darker identity, yet open to a wider range of influences. Those tracks still haunt us, as delivering them was a painful and excruciating experience, and left some of us even physically wounded… Which gives that album even more of a spiritual value, as it involved a form of sacrifice.” The band also added: “This fourth full-length release is without a doubt a great step forward for us in term of music writing, and sound.”
In addition to the release of IV, Agonia Records will release black vinyl versions of II and III on April 16th.