Category Archives: Interview

Interview: Chewy Correa of Organic

organic-band_photo

Many years ago, when I was desperately buying up any and all death metal to feed the voracious ears of the listeners of an underground metal radio program, I stumbled upon an album by a band called Organic Infest. The cover used unusual covers, but was dripping in gore-imagery, so I gave it a listen.

I quickly found what was in my estimation one of the undiscovered high points of that fertile period, which was a band that creatively merged the American heavy death metal sound with a European sensibility and its own articulation. Like many of those early bands, Organic Infest wrote their music from a viewpoint that was their own, and thus they made convincing music despite struggles with production and distribution.

Two decades later and very few bands achieve this ability to write from their own viewpoint. Many are able to adopt the musical language of others; this can turn out well, but usually does not. Some come up with their own perspective, but it doesn’t correlate to their actual inner feelings or the outward order of the world, so it’s of little relevance to anyone but themselves.

Organic Infest (now Organic) has kept up their own unique and relevant work during this time. To many of us, their uncompromising spirit and clarity of vision makes them an undercover standout to this day. For that reason, it is with great pleasure that I introduce bassist “Chewy” Correa from Organic.

I understand that some years ago you changed the name of the band from Organic Infest to Organic. Why did you make this change, and do you think it reflects a change in how metal bands are naming themselves and seeing themselves at this point?

We decided to make the change of the name in 2005 after our original guitarist left the band. The main reasons for Juan my drummer, and I to make the change on the name were that we wanted a new beginning for the band and also the lyrics. The lyrics were gore type in the beginning so the name Organic Infest was good then, but I started to write in a more diverse way so the name Organic gives us more freedom in terms of themes for songs. Well, we think that the name of the band is a thing not to be taken lightly. After all it is what will represent the band worldwide and the name in our opinion should be like the main theme for the band. I know many bands these days that use a name just because it sounds “cool,” and when you read their lyrics they have nothing or very little to do in relation with the name.

As I recall, you’re a bassist and Organic lost a guitarist, so you began using a higher-tuned piccolo bass instead of guitars. How has this worked out? Has it changed the way you write songs?

After a lot of experimenting, I finally have the sound that I wanted. This piccolo thing came out as a solution to our problem. When our original guitarist left and we changed the name to Organic we found an incredible guitarist ED Díaz, but after one year and nine months he left the band too. So one day my drummer Juan told me, “man put some distortion to your bass and let’s just play.” At first we were joking about it but then the idea became real after I listened to a fusion bassist named Brian Bromberg who uses a piccolo bass like a guitar on his album “Metal,” so I said to myself if he does that in fusion I will do that in metal. About the songwriting it did not change for me because all the material I wrote when there were guitarists in the band I wrote with the bass. The process stayed the same with the addition of me doing the guitar parts on my piccolo bass.

Back when you were Organic Infest, you put out the album Penitence way back in 1993. In fact, it’s been 20 years recently and you commemorated this by streaming all your albums on your website. What do you think of Penitence looking back at it now?

Well, in my opinion it is the work of young and inexperienced musicians playing what they liked the most at that time. I am not saying that the music is bad, but obviously we could have done something way better at least on the production side of things. If you read all the reviews for that album they all agree on the same, cool music with very bad production.

How do you think metal has changed since that time? Does the underground still exist?

Metal has changed a lot since that time in many ways. Those times were really difficult for everything, from promotion to recording. Nowadays, promotion is a breeze with the internet thing, and recording has become the easiest thing with more and more bands being able to have their own home studios. On the other side, nowadays is also difficult in terms of competition. There are thousands of metal bands now everywhere, all wanting to have their shot at being the best. The underground still exists, and will exist forever because there are always underground bands playing those obscure gigs that the more established bands don’t want or like to play because they are not good for exposure.

Many were critical of the production on Penitence and other recordings you have released. Do you think they’re right, or is this a “the production (medium) fits the message” argument like certain black metal bands have advanced?

Yes, I totally agree that the production on Penitence is probably one of the worst metal productions in existence but it was the result of what I mentioned before: our total lack of experience and a recording engineer who just wanted the money and practically ripped us off. The production on the Agony EP, was a bit better but it was recorded on a moderate home studio so we could not really do more than we did. With The Way To Temptation album the production I think is a decent one; it could have been better but the guitarist was the only one attending the mixing sessions so Juan and I had almost no input on the mix at all. We expect that our new recordings will finally have a good overall production that our fans can enjoy.

Do you feel you have had an inverse relationship to trends in metal? For example, they go black metal, and you head toward percussive choppy death metal; they go death metal again, and you come up with more tremolo picked material.

Definitely! I hate trends, whenever there was a trend growing I would always go the opposite way, and still do it like that. For example, our new material is completely different, while many bands are heading for a more modern stuff while we are delving deep in our influences and musical roots.

What do you view as your influences? What genre(s) do you feel you combine or create within?

The three of us have many different influences. For instance, for me Metal is my religion and main musical genre, but I also like and listen to classical, fusion, and flamenco. As far as metal bands go we listen to everything we like from bands like Iron Maiden to Cannibal Corpse and everything in between. Genres that we combine… everything metal. We have doom, speed, power, thrash, death, and black metal, all combined in our style and sound.

Elsewhere, you mention that Coroner is your main influence. How does that manifest in your music?

Yes, for me Coroner is the biggest influence along with King Diamond, Candlemass, and Death. I have their influence and it reflects in my songwriting, but I always try not to sound too obvious or like a copy. It manifests mainly on our mid-tempo riffs, and on the more technical stuff.

Can you tell us what the status is of Organic at this time — do you have more releases coming up, and will we see you on tour in Puerto Rico or the mainland?

Our status at this time is very good and focused one. Yes, there will be more releases coming up and many good things and shows for the band in Puerto Rico and internationally. I definitely think that this next 2014 is going to be a great year for us.

How do you compose songs? What do you start with (an image, an idea, a riff, a scale)? Has this changed with the departure of your guitarist?

The process of composing for me is different every time. Sometimes I come up with complete lyrics and how to sing them and everything, then I add the music and bring it to rehearsals and we arrange the song. Also there could be times when we come up with something good jamming on a rehearsal and later I compose around it and bring the finished material to a practice session, and then I add the lyrics. The scales that I use for composing the most are the Harmonic Minor, and the Half/Whole version of the diminished scale, along with the Aeolian and Locrian modes.

I know there’s a metal conference coming up which is designed to discover the roots of metal as a community. Will you be offering your view there? What is “community” in metal?

The conference will be a great event. We will definitely be present at the conference, because we are part of the history of our metal scene. “Community” in metal refers to everyone from the bands to the fans that attend to the shows and events that deal with the music we all share as our form of expression. Also refers to the cultural aspects that represent what we are in our social environment.

Organic Infest had a hiatus between 1993 and 2001, if I’m reading these other interviews correctly. What made you decide to come back? Are those reasons still going strong?

That hiatus happened because our original guitarist left the band for the first time to move to the United States after he got married, looking for a better life. He decided to return to Puerto Rico and in 2000 we got together again because we wanted to continue with what we like to do the most, play Metal!!! Definitely those reasons are still going strong, and will be until I die!

Are there any plans to re-issue your former works?

Personally, I have always wished to know what Penitence would sound like with better production. Even though that is not the style we play anymore, and I might do it one day, maybe even sooner than many people think. Maybe not only Penitence, but also some of the older material like the song Organic Infest from our “Drown In Blood” demo.

Well Brett Stevens and Death Metal Underground, on behalf of Tony (bass), Juan (drums) and myself (Chewy, piccolo bass and vocals) thanks a lot for the great interview and your support to the band. We will keep you informed on the bands new releases and important shows so people can follow up through your excellent website. Hails!!!

Interview: Origin

origin-ultravioletsocialclubOriginating from Kansas in 1998, Origin contrive unprecedented mastery of musicianship and merge cosmic and horror concepts to differentiate themselves from the slew of other technical death metal bands.

Their debut album Origin established a well-rounded sound that would cater to casual death metal listeners, as well as those who approach the genre looking for the most technically proficient of brutal wizardry. Since then, Origin have released four more albums and are in the process writing the next one.

We are fortunate to have virtuosic guitarist Paul Ryan reveal the happenings of Origin.

You’re currently writing material for your next album. What do you hope to accomplish with your next release? Will there be new elements that Origin hasn’t expressed yet?

A continuation in the development in the sound of the band. I guess that the thing for me is that I am a old metalhead who enjoys a lot of different styles of metal which in the early days of the band I only presented a more straight-forward stylistic approach… I am using a couple of ideas from the past in technique and in dynamics to not present the same album again… I hope to keep both old and new listeners entertained by something fresh on every Origin album… During our live shows while playing I kept asking myself what can we bring to our live set that we don’t have yet… I feel that is what influenced my writing the most!

You’ve been ranked as one of the best guitarists in metal by several publications. Do you have any advice for guitar players that hope to advance their technical abilities?

Well I must say it comes with practice, practice, practice. There wasn’t Youtube or professional lessons online when I was growing up & now there are so many resources out there today to assist a young emerging guitarist to get very good, very fast. Something that I’ve noticed in today’s generation is that it isn’t always about composition on a computer, but being in the garage with other musicians brainstorming ideas & grinding it out (some of the funnest moments as a musician I’ve ever had). I spent many days of my life going to shows/practices just learning about how other bands worked as well.

A lot of Origin’s lyrics and titles encompass how small and minuscule our existence is. Is there a philosophical standpoint behind the band or is this something that’s derived from general contemplation?

Prior to Origin I played Death metal with typical Death Metal lyrics. Once I realized that I wasn’t going to kill anyone (unfortunately a few friends of mine did), I wanted to find something to write about that wasn’t so singularly based. Sci-fi & Horror always entertained me & Music took me away from the hell that I heard in my head. It was a positive release of negative energy. I was just looking for something that was endless that could be written about… The unknown.

So, Origin’s listeners can assume that you desire to reach a more broad scope to what the band wants to convey? Not just about blasphemy, blood and guts, but about a more meaningful or challenging way to look at life as a whole? Something that each individual ponders about, but may have a different take on?

When i’m listening to music & reading the lyrics I want to go on a Cerebral Journey. I hope that in some way my music can take someone out of the moment of their own personal life & just sit back & listen to music. I dunno if there is personal enlightenment in our message other than I hope we are conveying some new topics to think about.

What bands have inspired you over the years? Which are your favorites? Can you pinpoint any musicians that have had a profound influence on you?

Well in the very beginning of my playing it was Slayer, Celtic Frost, Cryptic Slaughter, & Yngwie Malmsteen. These bands influenced my early playing style & eventually crafted what I am today. Death, Napalm Death, Suffocation, Early Carcass, Early Deicide, and Bolt Thrower had a lot to do with it as well.

What are your hobbies outside of music?

Music is my life. I work in a music store. Other than playing music I enjoy exercise & spending time with my girl, going to shows & MORE GUITAR!

Origin has extensively toured over the years and has succeeded in reaching a very broad metalhead fanbase. Which shows have been the most memorable?

Oh man there are too many to name… You always remember your first & last I guess… Every show has HAD ITS MOMENTS OF INSANITY!!! Always playing a new venue, city, or country is a pleasure. My mentality has been this..

Every show. Every Fan. Every City. Every State. Every Country. Every Time…
I try to give it my all every time. I want people to enjoy a show they paid for no matter the turnout whether its a 100 or a 1000.

You’ve enlisted Lonegoat from Goatcraft to aid with some synthesizer work for the next album. How did this come to be?

Basically as a musician on the road you get guys handed cds by many other musicians… I try to listen to everything that I get…. Once you get something good you don’t forget it. One night of driving all night to the next gig I popped in a cd that took me on a journey!!! I listened to the album all night on repeat!!! Basically I just contacted him directly & said I really enjoy your work & I have a piece of music that fits what you do perfectly!!! Hopefully we can put something else together as well!!!

Many guitarists treasure their gear and guitars. What’s your current setup like? What will you use on the next album?

I use a Jackson Warrior w Emgs
Mesa Boogie Stereo 100 power amp
RecPre Dbx166xl compressor-limiter-noise-gate
a bbe Sonic Maximizer 882e
Mesa Boogie cabs
Monster Cables

Do you think your sound is evolving? If so, from what and to what?

Yeah to the outside world. I am very private & most of my music isn’t ever heard by Origin fans…I have literally hundreds of riffs that didn’t make it to a Origin album that I enjoy playing; it’s just that the Death Metal scene is very singular in what they want to hear on a album. I think I have learned a lot about the guitar since the beginning of this band & feel that most fans only enjoy what they hear first from a band… To say that my earlier work is stronger than my latter is comical as a musician.

What genre is Origin’s music? What are the primary influences on that genre as a whole?

DeathShred!!!

I hear a lot Origin’s influence in the Death/Grind/Core scene today… I am very humbled by that.

A lot of your earlier music had themes to it. Are you going to continue along that direction, or relax a little and get more down-to-earth?

Well we are still in the writing process for the next album, so I can’t give you a correct answer to that. We are very excited to see & hear what this lineup can bring with Jason Keyser contributing to this album vocally & lyricaly… It will be Origin, but even in just the new demoing of the material Jason has a different approach which I feel will add another dimension to the music!!

Entering the studio for the next album in January so expect a spring/summer release on Nuclear Blast Records in 2014

Also in the mix is re-releasing A Coming Into Existence with Bonus material of the bands I was in before Origin & the DVD is slowly becoming a reality!!!

Thanks for the interview!!!

Visit Origin’s facebook page here.

Interview: Brad Moore, who designed legendary Morpheus Descends cover

morpheus_descends-ritual_of_infinityMost of us who emerged into the classic death metal milieu are familiar with Morpheus Descends‘s classic album Ritual of Infinity and its striking cover art that remains controversial to this day. The illustrator who created that polarizing work has launched an online presence and is designing metal art of similar caliber.

Morpheus Descends rose after the early years of American death metal but before the solidification of the style, and created a grandfather template for both New York death metal and heavy percussive death metal in general. Their most notable influences were on bands like Suffocation and Incantation, who took the blueprint that Morpheus Descends created and pushed it to new heights of complexity and technicality.

Brad Moore, who designed the iconic cover, was able to give us a few moments of his time to describe his art, life and time with Morpheus Descends. For those curious about the band, our interview with Morpheus Descends is a good place to start, or peruse our brief explanation of the band and its context.

How did you get started in art?

Like many who decide to become full-time artists, I began in grade school as the guy who could draw really well. I specialized in dinosaurs, hot rods and sci-fi. My classmates always got me to draw for them. It was my Junior High art teacher who first made me aware, that since I spent all day drawing anyway, why not make it my career and be paid for it? My brain did a back flip, as I did not know such a thing was possible, having been brought up in a very small country town. I credit my High School art teacher, Barbara Allen, who is now a top portrait painter, and two professors in college, Herbert Fink, and Ed Rollman Shay. They REALLY showed me the path! Eternal gratitude flows forth.

How did you get started in metal? Were you a metalhead? Did you “study” any heavy metal art?

Although my career began as a horror style comic book artist (I worked for comics publishers like Fathom Press, Boneyard Press, Graphomania, London Night Studios, etc) I was always a metalhead! When bands would tour, they often bought and read comics on the road. It wasn’t long at all before I got mail, asking me to draw or paint t-shirt designs, logos, cassette, and CD covers. Soon after, ‘zines came, asking for gory covers, inside illustrations, and dark comic strips. I was doing 3-5 fliers a week back then for metal shows. I didn’t really study any “metal” artists, as I have broad tastes, and enjoy a ton of different stuff. I’ve been to Richard Corben’s house, and viewed the original painting he did for Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell. I did an art exhibit with H.R. Giger in Switzerland and saw his sketches for what became covers for Celtic Frost and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. But I’ve always had my own approach; no one has ever said that my art resembles the work of anybody else.

What other influences exist on your art, like other artists, morbid dreams, etc?

Dreams, DEFINITELY!!! I’m also very into the films of European directors, and the famed Polish Poster movement. I’m an ardent Surrealist.

How did you end up doing the Morpheus Descends cover? Are you a Morpheus Descends fan?

I was, and still am, a major Morpheus Descends fan! When I first got and heard their cassette “Corpse Under Glass,” I was hooked, feeling that they were the heaviest I had ever heard at that time. The band, as luck would bequeath, turned out to be horror comics readers who knew of my work. Ken, their bassist, wrote me, and we discussed the possibilities for the art that became the cover of Ritual of Infinity. In the original sketch, the “wizard” character had his hands raised, and an infinity symbol carved into his bleeding chest. I think his eyes might have been bleeding, as well, and in one hand, he held a bloody, ancient scroll. After another phone discussion, the “Carven-Diety” had its hand positions changed, and the “wizard” was now in the pose we all have grown used to: that of sawing the head off an androgynous cadaver. An ad for Ritual of Infinity featuring the debut of the cover art in b/w was published as the back cover of gore/horror comic book Cadaver, issue # 1, by Fathom Press, in ’92′-93. Funny thing: the record company’s name (J.L. America) is misspelled.

The Morpheus Descends Ritual of Infinity cover art uses some rather unorthodox (for metal) color combinations. What inspired your choices here?

Yes, the issue of the cover has stirred as much hate, as it has admiration, and I think that’s the best thing you can hope for. The colors I chose WERE very strikingly different for what was happening with other illustrators at that time. (Or, for any time, really.) The painting was a combination of oil paint and Rotring dyes, and it strode counter to the monochromatic approach that most others were doing. When I look even now at a box full of CDs at a merch table, I am struck by how many generic looking, grey and black compositions I see. Most are great looking on their own, but a table full of them are monotonous, and do disservice to the music and bands. I knew Morpheus Descends weren’t going to be on MTV, any time soon, so their CD cover, love it or loathe it, had to nail you across the room.

You’ve just gone online. Are you offering other services to metal musicians? What other directions do you hope to take your art in?

I just finished designing the T-shirts and poster for the Stoner Hands of Doom fest, as well as the T-shirt for Argus’ upcoming European tour (I did all three of their album covers); I’m working on two new CD covers, for two new bands, The Swill, and Foghound; I will have art featured in the winter issue of Churn magazine (Issue # 11); I am designing and building the special effects props for an upcoming film named “Platypossum”; and I am masterminding a civic project that I have dubbed “Mobile Murals.” Watch for the cover I did for Ed (ex-Monster Magnet) Mundell’s next solo LP; it’s one of the greatest I’ve ever done. Check out my page at bradmooreartwizard.com, or hit me up on Facebook @ Brad Moore’s Illustration Station.

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Interview: NH of Heresiarch

heresiarch-waelwulfAn eruption has occurred within death metal over the past years where bands have been attracted to the linear phrasal riffing of old Incantation, Demoncy and Havohej and have hybridized it with the ripping war metal of Angelcorpse, Conqueror and Perdition Temple, producing a sound like the roar of battle from within a cavern.

Leading this charge is New Zealand’s Heresiarch, whose Hammer of Intransigence introduced a stunned world to this new assault two years ago. Currently, the band prepares to release its Waelwulf EP and embark on a new series of combative adventures to further saturate the world in its violence.

With this in mind, we pitched NH of Heresiarch a few questions about the band, its direction, and the volatile ferment of motivic forces that provide a warlike impetus that is able to avoid destroying itself. His answers, which demonstrate the raw visceral approach of both this style and its existential attitude, follow.

What made you choose to make the style of metal that you did?

It was the sound that resonated most with me and reflected what I wanted to present effectively.

Why was your US tour recently canceled?

Line-up issues have plagued the progress and possibilities of Heresiarch since the beginning and this was no exception.

The main priority currently is completing the album writing and then preparation for recording, touring will be re-addressed when it’s pertinent to.

You say that Heresiarch is “esoteric leaning.” What does that mean?

Heresiarch takes influence from several esoteric paths, the most noticeable being from Indo-European branches; the upcoming Waelwulf EP is heavily influenced by Anglo-Saxon and Germanic literature, warfare, symbolism and worldviews with my own interpretations.

How do you compose?

Central to Heresiarch are visions of war, death and victory, on a grand apocalyptic scale with the aim to reflect the dread, violence and atmosphere attributed to such themes.

There is minimal melodic motivation behind any of the writing and writing generally consists of bludgeoning the guitar to the aforementioned themes, from there the songs and riffs are refined and eventually materializes the atmosphere I aim to convey. If the song or the riffs do not reflect this they are discarded.

Do you write on guitar, bass or vocals?

Composition is primarily done with guitar but always with an idea of how everything else should go with it; drums, bass and both guitars are written close together to compliment and reinforce each other.

Vocals and lyrics are generally the last thing to come since the content is already decided on within the writing process.

Will you be recording more material as Heresiarch?

The Waelwulf EP has been recorded, I am yet to finish the vocals but it should be done in its entirety by the end of October.

I have been working on a full length which will be released by Dark Descent records; around 25 minutes of the album is written to date. The theme, composition and the general layout have been completed and it will be the most “complete” release from us.

In your view, what are the bands today to watch in the underground, meaning the people who produce interesting music (who cares if it’s “commercially successful”)?

Besides the obvious ones there is IMPETUOUS RITUAL and GRAVE UPHEAVAL (some of our closest allies) from Australia.

SABBATIC GOAT, SINISTROUS DIABOLUS, VASSAFOR are all worth listening to from New Zealand. VESICANT is a new band I am drumming in; there will be recordings of that in the next year. Also TREPANATION are a relatively new band taking an interesting direction with what I’ve heard of their new material and BLOOD OF THE MOON from NZ now have a lineup again.

Also check out PAROXSIHZEM and ADVERSARIAL from Canada, IMPOSER from Italy and GENOCIDE SHRINES from Sri Lanka.

Will you tell us which musical works were your biggest influences in creating Heresiarch?

CONQUEROR – War Cult Supremacy is the most essential album of this style in my opinion.

Besides that: Realm of Chaos by BOLT THROWER, Fallen Angel of Doom by BLASPHEMY as well as some classical such as Lizst, Wagner and Holst.

Your newest track, “Endethraest,” sounds familiar but I can’t place it. It’s highly rhythmic and military, like a real war being prepared. What influenced this?

The initial influence for the track originally stemmed from Gustav Holst’s “Mars Bringer of War.” It’s a good indication of the new direction Heresiarch is heading, with less regard for speed like on Hammer of Intransigence and a focus towards creating a dark, martial atmosphere.

Rumor has it that Heresiarch uses some members from Diocletian and Witchrist as session musicians. These bands are apparently part of a ‘Doom Cult’ which is trying to brand itself as a certain type of metal. Are you part of that movement, or heading in a different direction?

Heresiarch has no members of Diocletian or Witchrist present in the current line-up and we never have been a member of Doom Cult.

What’s next for Heresiarch?

The aforementioned album is intended to be released by Dark Descent Records in 2014. All further intentions will be announced when suitable.

You say the band is based around war, death and victory. Why do you choose these topics? What do you hope to express? Do you intend to create change in the world?

There is no “hope” to express anything, the music does the talking and is the expression itself.

War, death and victory are intrinsic to sound of Heresiarch. Rallying and petitioning for social change and conscience, like all the other meek, well-wishing egalitarian scum is irrelevant to us.

Do you think war metal carries with it a big of a stigma in that so many bands are seen as humorless and self-important?

Yes.

Do you think most people accept war as necessary, or think of it as an evil to be purged? Why or why not?

I don’t care what most people think or believe in.

Extreme ends always attract extreme people, usually regardless of goal, doctrine or outcome.

It looks like the old school metal has lost out to the metalcore/indie-metal types. Is there any hope of rolling back the clock and getting to the days of better music? How important is it when the majority takes over a genre or a country and turns it into the same old stuff?

It’s not important. The “majority” as you say will always manifest their interests in trivial activities, beliefs and art in one way or another.

I guess the next logical question is, if you have no notion or desire for changing the world, what is your purpose in creating the music of Heresiarch?

I lost interest in all facets of politics and society a long time ago and from a logical perspective, a Black/Death Metal band is the least likely candidate to rally the masses towards changing the world.

In some respects that attitude is militarized in Heresiarch as an expression of contempt and disgust for all morality, faith and social structures which is a valid view for one to hold in today’s world… Essentially Heresiarch exists because it needs to and when that need ceases, so will the band.

If you could change the world, in what direction would you take it?

It’d look like the gatefold of Hammer of Intransigence.

Do you identify with any belief system and, if none, what motivates you?

Ride the tiger…

Interview: Scalpel

scalpel-sorrow_and_skinWhen we encountered Boston band Scalpel, it was a breath of fresh air. While some of the frenetic post-’core deathgrind influences were present, this band made it clear through their songwriting that their hearts were in the older traditions of the underground.

In fact, their sound resembles a cross between a Unique Leader West Coast-style blasting percussive death metal band, and an East Coast outfit, like some of the Suffocation material from their live album era before they fully modernized. Scalpel bash out the intricate textural descents of percussive death metal on Sorrow and Skin, their opus coming out this month.

We were able to snag the band for a few questions and enjoyed their laconic but incisive answers.

How did Scalpel form, and how did your style evolve after that point?

Scalpel formed when Taylor Brennan and Manny Egbert met each other at guitar summer camp like good little childs. We started as a goregrind band with lots of Carcass style riffs before developing a more technical and brutal sound.

What would you identify as your influences, musically and in literature, film and non-fiction writing?

Musically, our influences are bands like Creedence Clearwater, Black Sabbath, Morbid Angel, Suffocation and Carcass. We all enjoy films such as Ip Man, Rambo, The Reanimator, and Clockwork Orange. We also love authors such as J.R.R Tolkien, Kurt Vonnegut and Hunter S. Thompson.

Your style seems to approximate a mixture of East Coast and West Coast death metal influences. Are you the crest of a new wave?

Yes, although we do not try to align ourselves with any other contemporary death metal bands, we do feel that we have a unique sound.

Where did you record Sorrow and Skin?

Sorrow and Skin was recorded at Q Division Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts. No metronomes were used in the recording of the album in order to produce a more organic sound.

To what degree do you take influence from “modern” styles of metal, specifically the post-2000 ones?

Mostly, the extremely quick tempos and incessant blast beats. Other than that, we stick to our roots.

Where do you hold on to older styles, and why?

Slam riffs, fuzzy production, and shrieking bluesy guitar solos are all elements reminiscent of older styles. We think it is better to draw influence from older groups and expand upon the foundations of death metal than to keep up with modern standards.

Will you be gracing us with your presence with a tour?

Yes, we hope to tour Europe in the future. We look forward to bringing our brand of Death Metal to a new audience as well as making friends in new places.

How do you compose these songs?

The songwriting process sets in much like an attack of diarrhea; an idea will hit Manny or Taylor, and it goes from there. The song starts usually in the form of death metal scatting (fa na na flum flum) and we finish each other’s song ideas and hash out the rest at practice.

What, in your view, is the “soul” of death metal?

Death metal serves the purpose of being a lens into the darkest side of humanity, and making light of the most disturbing things that humans can achieve. Without the outlet of Death Metal, the world would seem deceivingly positive.

Interview with Markus Stock of Empyrium

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The mysterious entity known as Empyrium has attracted its share of attention over the years by upholding the strongest nature-mystic tradition in metal, and dark ambient into which it migrated.

Like other nature mystics in metal, Empyrium expand the metal lexicon with lush dark organic soundscapes and dynamics that more represent the whims of nature than the mechanical sounds of city or ideology.

Into the Pantheon shows Empyrium in a live setting, both with a concert DVD and a documentary film made about the band and this event. Eagerly awaited by fans who remain loyal to this publicity-shy act, Into the Pantheon delivers a subtle but powerful live experience.

We were fortunate to be able to catch up with Markus Stock of Empyrium for a quick interview.

How did Empyrium come about? Did you have a concept when you went into this practice, or did it develop naturally?

When we started Empyrium back in 1993 we were just 15 year old kids and didn’t have a detailed plan or concept whatsoever at first. We just followed our heart and made music that came naturally to us…now, 20 years later, we still follow that rule, but of course we are much more experienced and skilled these days.

Were you influenced by past metal bands who’ve used acoustic instruments among the distorted guitars, like Cemetary and Pyogenesis?

Yeah, we were. I loved the first Pyogenesis MCD (on Osmose) when it came out. Big influences also were My Dying Bride, early Paradise Lost, very early Cradle Of Filth, Darkthrone and Emperor (especially their unbelievable split with Enslaved).

Some have hypothesized that metal is in a slump, and for it to break out, it’s going to need to get closer to genres like classical or folk music where there’s a greater range of instrument used, thus more musical possibilities. Did you have a similar idea in your own path?

Actually, no. Today I don’t view Empyrium as a Metal Band anymore. We have influences from many, many genres and styles of music. I think the whole “let’s mix our metal with folk/classical/hip-hop/funk/whatever” went a little overboard and today I enjoy Metal much more when it retains some purity of the genre. Nothin wrong with some classical elements or keyboards but the electric guitar and the pounding drums should be the centerpiece of a Metal Band.

Into the Pantheon is an immaculate concert with high technical performance but also emotional intensity. How did you practice for this? And how much did you just “wing it” to keep the mood strong?

We practiced alot. I wrote a score for each live musician involved so they could prepare themselve at home and then we rehearsed about a week in a smal venue that was rented for us. It was important to me to be well prepared.

Do you see an affinity between yourselves and other atmosphere based metal bands like Summoning?

Oh yes. I loved the whole Summoning stuff. I hear they made a new album I need to check that, though I find it hard to retain this kind of 90ies atmospheric today.

Most would identify your style as some kind of doom metal, like My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost, but at the pace of a funeral doom band, like Skepticism or Winter. What made you choose the tempi at which you play, and what does it suggest, artistically?

Like mentioned earlier I can see influences and similarities to bands like Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride in our very early works but Skepticism or Winter? Definitely no.

Empyrium has a reputation for being secretive. Are you secretive? If so, why?

No I am not. This is because we haven’t played live in more than 15 years of band history. But, I am not lurking in a cave, deep in the woods, pondering in solitude and silence over my future plans.

Metal bands seem to have this life cycle where they start out with fresh ideas, and then become more like their influences, then get big and quality plummets after that. Have you observed this? How will Empyrium beat this cycle?

We have actually finished a new album and with a break between the last album and this one of almost 10 years – believe me, if you follow your heart and do the music that comes out of you it will be fresh again.

In addition to the live concert, there was a DVD made about the band. How did this come about? What did you think of the final product?

I think it’s a nice addition to the live part of the DVD and was a lot of work. Personally I can’t see myself talking over such a long period of time but fans will definitely love the detail and the work that went into this documentay,

Once this DVD and documentary hit the stores, there’s going to be a reaction. How much does it influence you? Will it inspire you to tour, or release more music?

There will be no tour with Empyrium. A few selected live appearances but no tour. As mentioned earlier we have a new album in the pipeline to be released maybe early next year.

What are your non-musical influences? Are there works of art or literature that capture the vision you’re trying to create in sound?

Of course. Movies, literature, paintings – everything I consume inspires me. Nature and landscapes have always been a big influence on Empyrium. Past, present and future.

It must be challenging to integrate so many instruments and voices of such different loudness and timbre into your works. How do you compose your songs? Do you start with an idea, or a melody, or a riff?

It usually starts with just one theme – a small melody or a riff…from there we go and build up a song. With newer Empyrium material it’s is often that a song is based on one single theme and we go from there and build it up, let it collapse again, change small details etc. to make the theme work over the period of the song. You’ll hear that when the new album hits the streets.

In your view, what is heavy metal “about”? Does that change for doom metal?

Heavy Metal is about energy to me. Wild, touching, deep and archaic emotions at the same. As mentioned earlier, I don’t see Empyrium as a Metal band – we are more about the silence and the thoughts that come to you in silence. It’s much more introverted versus the the extroverted spirit of Metal.

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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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.

Interview with Strider of Inner Society

inner_societyInner Society covers metal of the past and present both in China and the world. Strider, the editor and progenitor of this project, took a few moments to speak with us about his role in music and the strength of metal that powers the blog.

How did you become a fan of heavy metal music, and what made you decide to take the next step to being active in the community?

A net friend introduced me to Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Burzum and other extreme metal bands during my first semester in college when I was just a mainstream alternative heavy music (like NIN and Tool) listener at the time. From then on I became a diehard metal fan.

I spent a lot of time surfing metal forums at the beginning of this process, debating about music and searching for anything I found interesting about metal. After listening to metal for about five years, and gaining skill at playing an instrument at the same time, I digested most of the big names in metal and became selective about what I heard. All those pop-song formulated and chord-based music are of little interest to me in the guidance of DLA and DMU.

At this point, I felt an urge to construct a community for all the people who like me have had enough of the dramatic modern music scene and instead want to study the heroic, narrative, anti-modernism nature of metal. Thus I created the blog.

China has been steadily increasing its numbers of metal bands. Do you think a distinct national sound is emerging? Or are there multiple national sounds (regional, like in the USA, or ethnic, like in Europe) appearing? Can you describe it, and mention how it pairs up with any belief systems that may have guided it?

Yes, bands like Zuriaake and its follower Deep Mountains had pioneered a sound that combines the Romantic side, more specifically the spirit in the Tang Dynasty poems and the landscape paintings of ancient China, with black metal.

Their usage of drumbeats are in the vein of court dances while the guitar sound resembles the overwhelming feelings of the misty Chinese mountain scenes. Together they provide a unique national metal sound that is very distinct from the average black metal bands.

But the problem is that these bands are at their core depressive or suicidal metal acts, which tosses decomposing chords and weepy riffs like an emo/screamo band would use into the songwriting mold of Burzum while lacking a valid direction. Basically they have nothing to say: they are aesthetically innovative but not transcendental.

Your blog, Inner Society, features an academic but practical look at the history of metal and its classic works. What are the advantages of this approach, in your view, relative to them more fan-based view that most sites take?

The fan-based metal sites are nightmares to me. They group all the people including the self-image-showcase hipsters into the same place in the name of metal. This lets everyone scream out their opinions no matter how foolish or worthless they are. Eventually this drowns the quality works in the sea of generic. That’s why I found DLA and DMU appealing at first place and ultimately created the counterpart in Chinese.

traditional_chinese_paintingDo you think metal music is in a slump? If so, how would it get out of this slump? What is it that makes the older metal stand out more, in the West at least, than the newer metal? Is there an idea, spirit or approach that works best?

Yes, metal music is dead at least on the surface of this planet. If it is to rise again the fans and the artists should learn to appreciate the consistency, integrity and artistic (as in classical music) approach that the older works endorse. Don’t lower standards if the music is not on par with the classic Burzum or Pestilence albums, because if we lower standards, metal will not be reborn; instead, we will get a wreck of clones and mainstream-absorbed rock star wannabes, and their popularity will drown out any quality metal that does birth itself.

What is it that makes the older metal stand out more, in the West at least, than the newer metal? Is there an idea, spirit or approach that works best?

There is an old saying in China: The times produce their heroes.

I think the same applies to the older metal bands. They had a broader space for development during the birth of underground metal. Based on the melody line oriented composition mode (the usage of movable power chords) and the barbaric image (anti-modernism) of the past metal genres, bands like Slayer, Sepultura, Possessed and Bathory simply took everything further. Ultimately, they pushed metal to a more extreme and more intricate height.

Whereas the newer bands are confronted with a highly commercialized metal scene, in which most of the people are looking for the metal version of rock music.Deep in their hearts, they know writing something as cryptic as the old classics would immediately cause them unpopular(at least it is so from the beginning). It feels like sail against the current.

In your view, is there something “ancient” about metal music that makes it so distinctive from every other pop genre? How would you characterize what you love about metal?

To me, the warlike guitar sound, orientation of melody lines and poetic structure of metal music are all inclined toward the ancient. Whereas other pop genres seems to be mostly about the celebration of modern world and modern lifestyles.

What I love about metal is that I think people can find the true beauty of our world through the abstract but reality-reflecting fantasy world that metal music creates in the absence of social pressure and the false values of our recent society. Metal culture is one of the few grounds nowadays that the hidden-reality-aware people can make use of to rebuild society from within, and that is definitely worth fighting for.

Visit Inner Society at www.innersociety.org.