Interview: Berial of Betrayer

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Back in the hazy 1990s, many of us encountered a band from Poland who in the wake of Vader had been signed to Nuclear Blast and distributed in the United States. This band was Betrayer and the album Calamity, a work of high-speed metal in the Slayer-influenced style of Vader but also going in its own direction including a prescient use of melody, anticipating where death metal would go in the next decade. After two decades, Betrayer has returned with a split 7″ that is turning some heads for its aggressive integration of old school speed metal and death metal styles. We were fortunate to be able to sit down with mastermind Berial over a cup of hot blood and discuss Betrayer and the exciting possibility of new material…

When was Betrayer formed? How many demos did you put out? How did you get signed to Nuclear Blast?

Betrayer was formed in 1989 as a thrash metal quartet and as such, in 1990, recorded its first demo “Forbidden Personality.”

The same year there was a change in the line-up. I joined the band as a new bass guitar player shortly after splitting with my previous band Slaughter. I also took over the space behind a microphone. Since then Betrayer started drifting towards stronger and more extreme sounds. That was a turning-point and the beginning of a new era for the band.

Consequently in 1991 Betrayer released their second demo “Necronomical Exmortis”. It happened to be the real killer those days. One of the biggest metal magazines of that time in Poland, Thrash’em All,ranked it second in the category “Album of the Year.” Betrayer hit #4 in “Band of the Year” category. To this day the release is regarded as one of the milestones for Polish death metal music. This is how, I guess, we got signed to Nuclear Blast… Hard work, great gigs, loads of enthusiasm and energy with remarkable music art on top…

Where was “Calamity” recorded, and were these new songs or songs from the demos? What were your musical influences at the time?

Our debut full album Calamity was recorded at Modern Sound Studio in Gdynia, Poland. It was the best option at that time. Really modern and open for new trends in music so most of the reputable bands in Poland cooperated with them. “Necronomical Exmortis” was made in CCS Studio in Warsaw, which was the choice of many Polish stars, not only those in the metal stream. That was the first experience of working with a professional studio and the first official release for Betrayer. “Forbidden Personality” was different, more of amateur and self-made production.

Influences? Everyone had their own and not all were strictly death metal ones. All of them put together, however, made us what we happened to be…

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Was it difficult to record and release at that time, just a few years after the political changes in Poland?

I don’t know if that was more difficult than today. I do not even know if political changes had anything to do with those difficulties. Those were different times, times of rebellion and discovering new options and possibilities. Metal underground, and actually all music underground in general, was strong and buoyant in Poland at that time. With Calamity which turned to be a milestone in Polish death metal history, were lucky to be on the top of the ladder, arm in arm with another polish legend, Vader, when the changes turned to be in favor of the musical revolution which opened new horizons and roads of going worldwide.

Finally we were able to spread the power of Polish extreme music all over the world. This also gave us the opportunity to share stages with bands like Morbid Angel, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, Death and too many others to count… Fantastic times!!!

Has Betrayer been on hold since that time, and are there are any other recordings people outside of Poland have missed out on?

We split up in 1994 shortly after releasing our debut album. It was nothing but a huge disappointment for us and the crowd of metalheads devoted to Betrayer. Only years later we learned that Betrayer had been well noticed in so many corners of the world. Instead of going on tour promoting such a great album as Calamity really was and pushing forward, we fucked it up. What a waste… Personal shit, you know… but it’s too late to moan now, isn’t it? I was so pissed off and consequently totally dispirited that I decided to stay away from the stage. In 2012, after nearly eighteen years of non-existence, demons of my inner self decided to remind me who I am and what I live for. There was no other option… Betrayer had to come back to life… and no, you didn’t miss any new recordings, except the split you know of.

You recently released a split with Neolith. What was it like recording this? Why release now?

From the very beginning we didn’t want to built our resurrection on the old stuff so instead of brushing up the songs from the past we decided to concentrate on making completely new material and release a new album. We didn’t want to, however, wait too long to announce to the world that we are back on the road. That’s why we decided to release one of the new tracks on the split. Same was with live appeariances. Initially we planned to do so after releasing the new album but for aforementioned reasons as well as unstoppable craving for going onstage we had to change the assumptions. In summer 2013, Betrayer appeared at Ragnarock Open Air Festival in Germany followed by a series of gigs around Poland. Obviously next to the new songs we performed some of the old ones too. The feedback was so great that in 2014 we were invited to play as a main support for a death metal legend Obituary in the only concert in Poland. Really good feeling and immense motivation, you know.

The Betrayer track on the Neolith split, “Beware,” shows more of an aggressive style and speed metal influence, with less death metal of the fast strumming variety. What motivated this change? Does this show a new direction in your music?

I wouldn’t say that there is a distinct change in Betrayer’s music in general. “Beware” is a song I would put somewhere between Calamity and the earlier “Necronomical Exmortis” demo, and I agree it’s kinda melodic at moments. The split features “Beware” just because this was the only song that we had ready to go at time the opportunity to release came. You might notice that it was not even finally mastered. Be forewarned that this song does not give justice to the whole new stuff …so do not be misled! Betrayer definitely stayed faithful to the death metal genre! You will see it yourself soon!

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The question everyone is dying to know… (a) Will there be another Betrayer album? (b) are there any negotiations to re-release Calamity so a new generation can discover it?

Sure it will! I’m proud to announce that our new album Infernum In Terra will be released on March 18th, 2015! The music was mastered in Hertz Studio which cooperated with such bands as Vader, Behemoth, Decapitated or Hate in the past… and I tell you, this is a real good piece of death metal, no doubt about it! We are exteremely satisfied and hope you will be too… and yes, Calamity will also be re-released, just a little bit later! Sounds good, doesn’t it? It looks like it’s gonna be a good year for Betrayer.

How do you describe the music of Betrayer? When you write music, what ideas do you aim for?

Well, it’s the same old Betrayer I reckon. Maybe a bit heavier but still drifting on the old school death metal wave. This is deeply rooted in our mentality and our hearts and truly defines the way we live, think, feel and create at the moment.

Ideas? Hmm, pretty same as before. Music, you know, is the way to express yourself with some kind of ecstasy which you try to give away and infect others with it. When it comes to lyrics and the message, it’s kind of my personal thoughts and feelings about the systems that our existence is implicated in. Especially the religious one, full of contradictions and hypocrisy… you might say “nothing new” but in that context Polish society is deeply premised on that. All this blind glorification of the institution of the Catholic Church as well as other creeds makes me sick and contemptuous. This is what I mainly speak out against.

It seems that everyone knows Poland these days with Vader, Graveland and Behemoth having become popular. What else are we missing out on? You can include both musical and non-musical items!

Oh,yes… Vader… indisputable pillar of the Polish death metal scene! I happened to be the part of the crew for a short period of time back in the 90s. Behemoth… yes, no doubt about it… true gods on the firmament of black metal music world! I’m not too familiar with Graveland, but talking about the extreme music stuff you missed out at least astonishing Decapitated to start with or Hate…

How should people learn more about Betrayer and your own personal (Berial) musical projects? Where do they go to hear the music and keep track of news from the band?

Definitely by reaching our albums and staying tuned to all oncoming news on our web page or facebook profile. There are no other projects in my life at the moment. Betrayer is the only and one that gives me strength and makes me survive in this world of misery.

I’m pleased to hear that in the past we were noticed and are still remembered in the United States with the real hope that we will keep it this way and be honoured to visit your vast lands in future!

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Interview: Bruce Lamont of Led Zeppelin 2, Corrections House and Yakuza

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Some time ago, musicians from the Chicago area gathered to form a tribute to Led Zeppelin. Instead of creating a new band to imitate the sound, they created a stage show called “Led Zeppelin 2” and tour with it playing the songs of classic Led Zeppelin, which along with the UK heavy guitar rock (The Who, Cream, The Kinks) who predated it was an influence on the early days of metal both through progressive bands like King Crimson and Jethro Tull, and directly on Black Sabbath, a contemporary.

Vocalist Bruce Lamont, who also performs with Corrections House and Yakuza, was kind enough to give us some time to ask him questions about his musical past and the influence Led Zeppelin had and continues to have on heavy metal and heavy music in general. Take it away, Bruce…

You’re currently touring with Led Zeppelin 2. How’s that going? Is this harder than touring with Yakuza, Corrections House, Bloodiest or any of the other bands you’ve been in? What’s different?

Led Zeppelin 2 is a more of a musical theater production: a stage show with costumes, lighting and musical actors. It’s not harder than touring with the other bands, just different. So far 2015 has been going well for the Zep2 show. We have had some good crowds and folks seem to be enjoying themselves.

You’re known for a modern metal background and yet here you are lending your talents to 1970s songs. Have Led Zeppelin always been an influence for you? How did that influence show up in your music?

Led Zeppelin has been in and out of my life since the days of WLS radio here in Chicago. They played Zep tunes long before I even knew who Led Zeppelin was. As far as a creative influence, I appreciate all the musical corners they have touched. From blistering hard rock, to blues-influenced songs, to the acoustic numbers and even dabbling in synth music in the later years. The willingness to push themselves to the extent they did is what I took from them.

In your view, what musical style or genre are bands like Yakuza and Corrections House? What would you say were the primary musical influences on those bands? Do you think they’re closer to metal or hardcore?

I am never one to settle comfortably into any type of label when describing the music from any of the bands i play in. Is their some metal elements to both bands mentioned? Yes. Hardcore? Somewhat. But also many other definable and indefinable sounds come to mind.

What do you think has changed in metal, on a musical and not aesthetic (production, vocal tone, guitar sound, distortion type) level, since the 1970s? Since the early 1990s?

Musically, 70s metal was more recognizably derived from, say, electric blues or the pop rock n roll formula with a little touch of the psychedelic (with just had a harder, heavier edge). This evolved rather quickly even by the end of the 70s with punk rock coming at the same time the name of the game became “speed.” This evolution excelled rapidly through the 1980s.

By the 90s that blues structure from the early 70s could barely be heard, but the speed, intensity and the heavy went into the most extreme ether. I mean compare Suffocation to Budgie. Wow, what a leap ha! As far as modern metal goes, many of the sub-genres that were firmly established in the 90s still exist (even some from the 70s have been brought back around and there are hybrids of both etc., etc.) and by all indications we are at a time where the lines are being blurred now more than ever.

Bands today are bringing in elements from all over the sonic map, keeping the heavy but embracing styles and sounds generally found outside of the metal world and from that many bands have a more realized sound that’s all their own. I like it.

How did you get into music, and what inspired you to take the path that led to Yakuza and Corrections House? Does this inspiration also lead to being in Led Zeppelin 2?

In a nutshell…I listened to the radio quite a bit as a young kid (as I mentioned Zeppelin was one of my favorites). I asked my mother for a guitar but instead was enrolled in school music programs. I first played the viola, then started on the tenor saxophone at age 9. I became a metal junkie in my early teens; got a guitar and played a bit. I started working at an independent record store during my junior year of high school. This opened my world up and I began listening to all sorts of music.

After high school I started playing in bands. In the mid 90s I picked the saxophone back up and went to a ton of jazz/improvisational shows at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. At the same time I heard bands like Neurosis and Meshuggah and wanted to get into something that was heavy but had room to reach beyond the heavy. I joined Yakuza in 2000. Within a year I played my first show with what would become Led Zeppelin 2. There ya have it. Full Circle.

How was the Houston show? I’m told Houston is a flat, hot, humid city filled with Californians who think the houses are cheap and are willing to overlook the roaches, snakes and mosquitoes for 2300 calorie diner plates. What as your impression of Houston?

Houston is huge for us. It was one of the first places we played outside of Chicago and has always been great. Killer crowds, killer energy. Gotta love that.

Interview with A.V. of Dead Congregation

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Back in 2012, I conducted an interview with one of the new “morbid wave” death/black metal bands who focus on atmosphere instead of pure riff acrobatics and internal contrast. These bands, borrowing widely from Incantation and Blasphemy, create a rushing wave of darkness that drones into extended mood pieces immersing the listener in a hopeless morbidity. Guitarist A.V. answered my questions…

What was your primary goal since the beginning that you set out to emanate with Dead Congregation and how do you think the band stands compared to other contemporaries of this style? Do you think Dead Congregation has carved its mark in the underground as an entity to be reckoned with?

Our time has been extremely limited in the past couple of years so we don’t really do interviews anymore, this one is of the new exceptions. Our goal was will always be to feed the fire of creation we have in us as artists and channel all that inspiration in the shape of compositions and ultimately recordings. Once our songs are recorded the way we have conceived them then it’s out of our hands. We’re not after world domination and other vanity-driven goals. We’re not the ones who should say what makes us different from our peers but it definitely seems that we have a stronger following than most.

Your debut album Grave of the Archangels received quite a bit of attention from the underground/extreme metal community when it was released in 2008; how important was the distribution of the album and what are your thoughts on all the constructive feedback concerning it? I gather you must be more than content with the good promotion endowed by NWN?

In reality there was no promotion at all from either the band or the label. NWN has a strong name in the underground and many people follow what that label does but none of us have ever sent out any promos or placed adds on related press and such. Apart from some selective gigs that we do most of the attention we’ve received is gained by ‘word of mouth’ in the underground. I guess when the material is strong it will find its way to surface sooner or later. Although we were extremely confident about the quality of our recording we didn’t really expect to receive so much feedback and sell so many copies.

Before the debut, you released the mini-album called Purifying Consecrated Ground which was released under Konqueror Records. What can you tell us about this rather obscure label and how you got in contact with them? How many copies and formats were printed of this release and what are your feelings regarding it on the present day? Has the style changed much at all between the two releases?

Konqueror Records got in touch with us in regards to our previous band Nuclear Winter and they wanted to sign us for an album. We explained that Nuclear Winter was laid to rest and we had a new band working on new material and they trusted us enough to offer a deal without listening a demo from Dead Congregation. We will always be grateful to them for releasing the first ever Dead Congregation recording and meeting all our demands with success. After that initial version there have been a lot of re-releases: CASSETTE version (Nuclear Winter Records, 515 copies and counting), 10”MLP (Necrocosm Records, 666 copies), MCD Digipack (Enucleation Records, 1000 copies), 12”MLP (NWN!, 1000 copies), 12”MLP (NWN! tour edition, 250 copies), 12”MLP Picture Disc (NWN!, 200 copies), MCD re-release with altered design (Nuclear Winter Records, 500 copies). We’re still proud of it as a recording, looking back you always find things you could have done differently/better yet it still represents the band at that time and some of the compositions in there are of the strongest we’ve done, in my opinion. The style is the same, yet we took it a few steps further for the album in the sense that we have a more personal sound on the full length.

Music-wise, what are to you the most essential aspects for a death metal band? Some say it’s the rhythm of the guitars, some say it’s the drum beat, and others say it’s the vocals… Maybe it’s a bit of everything? How do you manage do create such a morose atmosphere with your music?

I think it’s the feeling and atmosphere above all. The same riff can sound completely different if you alter important factors such us sound, drumming, the way you hit the chords on the guitar and many more. But in the end it’s all about the atmosphere a recording creates, if it doesn’t ooze of death and morbidity then it shouldn’t be labeled as Death Metal simply because the vocals are distorted and the drums are fast.

Many say that black and death metal must remain as subversive as possible or else it loses touch with its primary essence; what are your thoughts on that? Would you consider a band a sellout if they signed to a big label like Nuclear Blast?

It’s hard to say because in the old days all bands were on major labels without compromising their integrity and some bands still manage to do it. It has to do with how focused you are and what your goals have been from the beginning as spoken earlier. If a band feels like a label is trying to make them deviate from their initial goal then it’s up to the band to decide if they want to stick with that label or not. Truth is that on big labels you get to have less artistic freedom and it’s one of the reasons why we’ve rejected all offers from big labels but I’ll never judge another band for wanting to get ‘big’ and sign to a big label. If that’s what they want it’s fine by me, they do their thing, we do our thing.

What inspired the name DEAD CONGREGATION? I think it articulates your music rather well.

Thank you, we think so too. It’s a song title from our previous band Nuclear Winter and it seemed very appropriate as the moniker of the new incarnation.

Just how important is artistic appeal for you? Does aesthetics play a big role in your music? If Black and Death Metal doesn’t classify as art, then what is it?

Aesthetics are very important as long as they serve a purpose. If they complement the album as a whole and work hand in hand with the music and lyrics then I’m definitely all for good artwork and design. The problem is that many bands focus on that too much and forget the essence which is music above all. They try to hide their mediocre albums behind fancy illustrations and 20-page booklets for the vinyl edition. Same goes for ‘die hard’ versions of albums by bands that can barely sell 300 copies of a release. So yes, in some cases it is important when it’s done by bands who actually have to offer something substantial but a dirty whore will always remain one even if you dress her up in the most expensive clothes if you know what I mean.

As a counterpoint to great aesthetics I have to mention albums like Deicide’s debut that were badly designed, yet that eliminated none of the greatness of the album after all.

What would be the perfect depiction for your sound and what would you like for the listener to feel while he/she is listening to your music?

There are no fancy terms to describe our music, it’s just darkened Death Metal the way we perceive it as true.

I’m curious about the split you did with Germany’s Hatespawn and how you got in contact with the band. What do you think about their demo, “Ascent From The Kingdom Below”?

Hmm, can’t remember if it was us who asked them to join us for the split release or the other way around. We definitely admire Hatespawn’s body of work collectively otherwise we’d never have agreed to do a split release with them.

How important is it for a band like yourself to do a split with bands with whom you share a common vision? I personally don’t think it would suite your band very well to do a split with an ordinary thrash or punk act. I mean, your music is dark and evokes an atmosphere of pure morbidity, thus I think its obligatory for a band of your nature to do a split with bands, who, more-or-less, have the same ideals as you; do you agree? I guess it’s a controversial subject to dive into.

As I said above, we do find it important that bands who are featured in split releases share common grounds in vision, ideology, aesthetics, etc. Diversity is definitely accepted on music itself, as long as there’s similar ideals behind both bands. For example we don’t sound anything like Teitanblood or Katharsis but we’d gladly do a split with those bands because we know they’re like-minded people and our general perception of death/black metal is very similar. The same goes for gigs, when we are asked to play live we always check if the other bands on the billing have similar values as us, at least the majority of them.

How has the current economic climate in your Country affected you personally and what do you think are the possibilities of the situation improving soon?

It affects everyone in Greece more or less but I can’t complain, I’m a fighter and I’ll always find a way to get by even under harder circumstances. I’m not too optimistic about the economy improving soon since we’re governed by idiots and incompetent politicians who don’t care about the country’s prosperity.

What would it really take for human beings to change or do you think we are incapable of such?

The human race is the definition of a parasite, especially in these days of materialistic values. The majority of people’s actions are driven by selfish intentions and very few see the big picture and how every action has a consequence that might back fire on you in the end. It will take some very dramatic change in our lives before we have our wake-up call and then it will be too late.

From one point of view that’s good because the weak will be weeded out, however leeches and parasites always have a way of surviving also so there’s no hope for mankind after all.

Which 5 albums would you consider as the pinnacle of death metal and why?

That’s very hard to limit to only 5 albums but some of the most important in the sense that they shaped entire scenes are:

  • Morbid Angel – Abominations of Desolation / Altars of Madness
  • Immolation – Dawn of Possession
  • Death – Scream Bloody Gore
  • Entombed / Nihilist – early material
  • Malevolent Creation – The Ten Commandments (because it’s one of my fave albums of all time regardless of genres)

With which bands have you played live with, and what would you consider as one of your most worthwhile moments as far as playing live? Are there any interesting stories you can perhaps share with us? What about alcohol, does that play a factor at your shows or do you try to keep things as professional and tight as possible?

We have shared the stage with too many bands to be mentioned here but the truth is that personally I always enjoy it more when we play with buddies and allies of ours such as Grave Miasma, Cruciamentum, Drowned, Archgoat, Kaamos, Antaeus etc, than playing with bigger bands and/or big festivals. The atmosphere and vibes are a lot better when you play with like minded people as said before. A recent gig that was very close to perfect from all aspects was when we played with Sadistic Intent and Nocturnal Vomit some months ago.

We’re not heavy drinkers at all, we always have a few drinks but never to the point of being drunk out of our minds. It’s how we are as people and it doesn’t have to do with wanting to be ‘professional’ or ‘tight’.

Is there anything else you’d like to disclose before we close this interrogation? Maybe you can tell us what to expect from your death-coven in the future?

Our next album is entirely composed and we hope to record it on the early months of 2013, we just need to find some time between gigs and focus on that. We already recorded a 3-song demo in August and it sounds pretty massive without even mixing it so we’ll have a similar recording approach for the album which is basically: record everything as good as you can without correcting mistakes because you’re only human and you can’t fake to be something better than you are and most importantly IGNORE everything that the sound engineer says because he’s just a tool and his recommendations just slow you down and make you go in circles before you’ll end up in your initial approach anyway, haha.

All Hails, see you on the road sometime!

Interview with Viranesir

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Some weeks ago we received a letter from a band called Viranesir who informed us both that they were creating metal music and that they faced a good deal of pushback for their treatment of controversial topics. Since 2014 is the year of political speech control, corruption and controversy, I wrote them asking if they would conduct a brief interview with us. From that arose this dialogue with Viranesir from Turkey…

“Sublimation is a great mystery.” — C. G. Jung

When did Viranesir start and who are the personnel? What musical influences inspired its creation? What does the name mean?

Viranesir started out in 2013 when I created it to score my first feature length film “Drink From The Fountain Of Uncertainty.” I remember it being initially on my thoughts for longer out of the influence that Quorthon made Quorthon as a creatively fuelling side project to Bathory and I wanted to do one for YAYLA, and with “Drink From The Fountain Of Uncertainty” came the opportunity.

Personnel are myself, Merdumgiriz and Ruhanathanas. We switch instruments and styles very frequently but its usually Merdumgiriz on drums, myself on guitar/vox and Ruhan on synth/vox. Musically speaking some common bands that all our current members enjoy in our blood orgies include Abruptum, Haus Arafna, early John Frusciante, Ildjarn-Nidhogg, early Deathspell Omega, G.G. Allin, Til Det Bergens Skyggene, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Poesie Noire. All of which I think to some extent can be traced as influences on our current and future discography. The name comes from where Musician ends up in “Drink From The Fountain Of Uncertainty” on his solipsistic quest for his personal redemption. The place he ends up is Viranşehir (means ruined city); we manipulated it as Viranesir (ruined slave).

From what I have seen, Raping Lesbians For Freedom is some kind of Swiftian satire. What are you satirizing with this album and its provocative title?

I haven’t heard Jonathan Swift’s name since grade school. Anyhow, before anything, I’d like to get some shit straight, we ain’t racist (we were all born into “hard to find more worthless” races), sexist (one of us is a female and all of us are bi) nor do we hold any “political” views (not in the sense that most mean). We hold the opinion that everyone in society is responsible for all the suffering in the world, therefore we kind of confess for others through this album. And yeah, we are bullies, genociders, rapists, murderers and animal torturers because someone committing that shit no matter when or where or who makes me as a human being responsible so long as I live.

I don’t think wearing El Che wristbands, mate calling in LGBTI parades or fighting for justice on the internet saves me from the fact that I am, like everybody else, a scum of this universe. All our hands are perpetually bloodstained in my book and metal and punk are among the most noble, healthy and effective mediums for expressing the heaviness of that burden through psychological sublimation, even raising awareness. But the political correct “authorities” are currently trying to sterilize these mediums so that their warzone is more of a fairytale. Well, we’ll rape their lesbian souls until they scream as their own sex!

Funny threats aside, I do not have a problem with these fascists under liberal skin until their elaborate self-contradiction becomes a means for oppression. I am and have been fed up with issues of freedom of speech. Especially from people who do not feel any responsibility for the suffering of mankind. Hypocritical educated pieces of shit who are deep racists, sexists, animal murderers, child abusers and torturers hiding behind so called racial sensitivities, feminism, vegetarianism, making children, naming, excluding in all its perverse forms; subliminally abusing the individualistic and promoting what they claim to fight against. Most artists who tackle these hard subjects directly are tired of dying for these people’s piece of shit sins as they have a good time in their festivals of peace as they exclude our “politically incorrect” work with their guilt propaganda and subliminal calls to censorship.

Wake up! People are murdering each other at family dinner tables everyday as they raise future killers by taking out their anger for their husbands on their children. We are the future of these very children and we need to take out our criminal intentions on songs we sing not your privileged lesbian assess. These mothers who raise us are the “politically correct” most of us worship. Why are they “politically correct”? I think it is because that is their confession booth in which they wash the blood of their hands with holy water. Well, nothing wrong with that except when they fuck with our temples in which we work with the blood through albums we make and sing about murder and abuse and rape, a more direct way of getting rid of the stench of blood that our, and their hands are painted with. Well, it pleases me that so far they have the right and tools to tell me that I am an inconsiderate up to no good piece of shit as I have the right to make this album. What a wonderful world.

How much does provoking the ire of religious people factor into your artistic work? Does it matter which religion?

I fucking hate the mainstream religions (jewism, footsmellam, gayristianity, atheism, nationalism), for the facts that most of their followers seem to A. otherise evil B. seek extension. Also, in footsmellam it seems the trend of using murder as a means of communication is at its peak, therefore I’d rather they all be degraded & destroyed as your rapper president suggests. With my music, I don’t want to merely provoke the ire of religious people because it is no different than kicking a huge dog. To make something happen with religion, I’d more so want to provoke the so-called “irreligious” people into acting like and realizing that they are the religious scum that they strive to fight against, and help them and myself craft more effective solutions.

In my opinion everybody is religious in that they form some sort of worldview that makes them relate to this uncertain existence and form a kind of “certainty matrix” through their vague and often highly distorted collection of memories. A matrix that tells them that if what they do in life brings them “success,” then the next unknown (eventually death) might not actually be unconquerable after all. Practicing their religion everyday through believing blindly in saying, doing and justifying things that make them feel good no matter how self-conflicting and half-thought they may be. It is a shame to admit that the mainstream religious are the ones who actually “in theory” submit to this tragedy. However, this does not at all mean that I respect or enjoy mainstream religious people. I just think it would be wise not to “otherise” in fighting against the tyranny of religion, because after all, it is a cheap weapon used by “pure religious radicalism” which is achieved exactly through fighting through otherising (see ISIS, Nazi Germs, guerilla, crusaders, Hollywood). And that is what most of us seem to do, however fighting without otherising can be achieved for example through discussion and self-criticism, which is only possible through total freedom of speech.

All religions, including in the cosmology sections of the most grimoires of Satanism that I became acquainted with (for example in their interpretation of the monarchic one God) have otherised and not considered the fact that the air we breathe is stenched with disparity yet we strive for unity. Of course Satanism (especially blended with quality black metal) is different in that it is an anti-religion and turning the spiritual theory on its head; in my interpretation and opinion, it is the gateway to a slightly more advanced cosmology and anti-belief system in that it is rooted in the depths of the human psyche and works with our need for certainty in a completely perverted manner especially in its alchemy of evil (that is why we formed Blliigghhtted).

Can you tell us where you are located? Are there any particular challenges about being a metal band, and having freedom of speech, there?

We are currently located in Istanbul/Turkey. No challenge whatsoever being a metal band and it gets me more pussy than most other countries I’ve lived in (Canada, America, England). I also run a record label here (www.merdumgiriz.org), my cheap ass fellow countrymen love us but never support us by buying our products, but its okay, at least they don’t behead us like the footsmellic sons of bitches they could have been. In terms of speech, there are no bigger issues than most of the west because we don’t have much of the idiocy called political correctness (Ruhan can often be seen around Turkey wearing a huge Swastika Mahakali shirt without getting any shit except from loser European tourists), however we have religious correctness to some extent, but not much.

I can actually say that between the respectable bigotries of the west and of east, Turkey is a calm little freedom center. Except if your speech is politically inclined; the only problem here is that if the government sees you as a threat, they will incarnate you. They are far from seeing Viranesir as a threat yet, which is our luck. Where fine art can go is way beyond the capacity of politics, and I am interested in such extremes that I can never even get close through politics. Yeah, yeah I know that I am actually sort of political even in saying that, but the particular challenge here that I am talking about would be to say shit about our government, certain political parties and its handsome leaders, a certain genocide, our blissful religion, our beautiful race and stuff, which except for footsmellam, I don’t really give two fucks to say anything about. Also, if I did, they might block access to DMU, which they do for many sites including all porn sites and many political sites. They got people on the tax-funded payroll searching and blocking “inappropriate” sites all day long.

It seems to me that freedom of speech is a bit of a paradox. Each society wants people to be able to express ideas, but does not want to be overwhelmed with speech for speech’s sake, which may not be relevant, true or important. How do we decide which speech is valuable, and which is not?

I contrarily think that society subliminally wants to be overwhelmed with speech for speech’s sake for a greater purpose, that is the reason for the blooming of social media. In my view speech is therapy, and the ejaculation of the unconscious; it is very healthy and to me, should definitely be totally set free.

For a merrier world, “no one should have to fear saying anything”. Since in my opinion deep inside society is aware of this, through saying a whole lot of nothing on twitter and facebook (and building a collective consciousness), it is getting ready for the future, which I feel is total freedom of speech. It is only a matter of time until we are all able to say many currently unimaginable things anywhere without getting treated as we are actually doing them.

Saying something is very important; for it is a lengthy and complex phase of contemplation (which inevitably leads to discussion, collective consideration and most importantly relief) before eventually doing it (except if you get in trouble for merely saying it) that most people skip. Saying something opens it up for contemplation and in my view, every speech is valuable; from the seemingly petty half-thought footsmellic rant of Arabic sand [redacted] to the meowing of a cat to a brain-dead high school girls vlog about relationships to a man-hating feminists blog entry on censorship to Quebecois peasants swearing disgusting French to each other in an alley way to Marxist-Lenninist bullshit preached by people who’ve never seen a socialist country to Schopenhauer’s aphorisms to spiritually enlightening Dissection lyrics. Something is to be learnt from all of them through interpretation and although many utterances can lead to unpleasant outcomes, it is the individual and the individual alone who should decide for what they should say. Irrelevant, untrue, unimportant, seemingly dangerous and/or extreme; I do not think prohibiting or censoring any sort of speech will get us anything but perpetual inner pain, stagnation and destructive destruction.

I’ve been told by others that Viranesir often gets compared to Anal Cunt, G.G. Allin and Impaled Nazarene, all of whom were very provocative. Do you see any commonality there?

I see much commonality, and personally feel that we have similar viewpoints for psychological sublimation in art. They too do not deny the blood on their hands and celebrate the fact that they are as human beings, no different than footsmellic arab murderers, rapists, torturers, bigots, animals, idiots. Viranesir, along with all those bands and many more all celebrate our impurity to be able to live with ourselves, unlike the hypocritical so called democratic bullies who not only otherise what they name to be evil and escape from their mental responsibilities, but condemn the ones who don’t as being extremists to raise hate for what they don’t understand. Speech can be beyond choosing sides or naming good & bad or love & hate.

Everybody is capable of bearing love and hate for the same thing, and they often do. Just as everything has the quality of bearing both good and evil qualities that also depend greatly on how one perceives them. Most things I do stem from the interaction of my emotions when I come in contact with these things that I bear conflicting feelings upon. When I say I hate something, I often mean I love it and vice versa. For example I can write a song saying “I love animal torture and taking advantage of women”. Although I “hate” both things in theory, I often use money to put a beast that I otherwise couldn’t have gotten closer than the eye can see to my plate, oh and I excuse the fact that it gets transcendent torture beforehand. Even if I think I don’t do it, I give money to restaurants that do it, or have friends who do it not if I let them pump their semen up my ass.

I also often use beer, money, my artistic projects and patience to insert my penis into some female vagina. Even if I don’t do it I give money to bars that it is being done in or have friends who do it not if I let them do it to me. I am with the thought that rather than denying the fact that I directly or indirectly participate in these tribal transactions through glamorous theatrics like vegetarianism and feminism and temporarily calm my conflicting soul until I bump into the next tragedy that reminds my unconscious that I am self-contradicting, why not sing about them in a more direct manner and rid myself off of the illusion that I can be consistent and just when what I am made of is inconsistent and unjust? To the party concerned, through direct speech and sublimation in art, perhaps I can say what most leave unsaid, grant relief, and raise more awareness and some real shame than to protest against this shit by guilt propaganda and trying to ban it, totally degrading free will and sense of responsibility. In other words, degrading my own humanity just like the mainstream religious scum.

Does Viranesir have previous albums? What were those like? Were they concept albums like Raping Lesbians for Freedom?

Our previous albums Kill Your Repulsive Child, Shoot On Mom’s Corpse and Fountain Of Uncertainty as their titles might suggest are all concept albums in my opinion. Kill Your Repulsive Child is our first venture into psychedelic synthpunk. It is a very personal album in that it is directly about my life, but very vaguely put together and useful for free interpretation. The music is crazy psychotic drumming mixed with schizophrenic vocals and chaotic fat synths. Shoot On Mom’s Corpse is the same thing, and is the continuation of the trilogy started with Kill Your Repulsive Child, however, it is better produced and both lyrically and compositionally way more concise. There is going to be a “father” album to conclude the synthpunk trilogy, which is very different and way grander than the other two.

All these three albums are based on my short story called Axiom Rotting, which as I said, is directly about mein leben. is a whole different thing; it is made solely by me as the music of the musician character in my film Drink From The Fountain Of Uncertainty which is a character based on me. It is a very dark sort of experimental metal with synths; way thicker produced than all other Viranesir albums. Me, me, me yes it’s all about me and know-it-all it may sound, I personally think that anyone claiming that anything that they do is not ALL about themselves are at best self-deceiving hypocrites no different than vegan bitches swallowing the cum of their McDonald’s consuming lovers.

As I understand it, “Raping Lesbians for Freedom” is based on a text that you and/or other band members wrote, and the characters in that text become voice actors on the album. What’s it like to write an album based on dystopian fiction that you’ve written?

Some weeks back Viranesir had a quarrel with Polish tourists who insisted Ruhan took off her swastika shirt. Ruhan was in shock trying to explain that it was ceremonial and stuff whilst a bitch in their group was screaming “Take it off, take it off” at the same time all of the others shouting how their Jewish grandparents died or got saved from the genocide and stuff while a Kurdish fag on the street joined their side and started cursing us for being Nazis. I basically stood between them and Ruhan and calmly improvised what would become the song titles.

I mirrored what I interpreted as their indirect anger and became their mouth to say what I understood they really wanted to say from their tone. After I said, “Don’t be a fascist and tell us what to do” to the slut, they magically stopped. Other than their following us for a while, no side breached the speech barrier and it was all good. Afterword we had a blast dancing in a superb club that night, then we went back home. We discussed what happened again and Ruh just uttered, “Political correctness is European ignorance” and exited the house. Merdumgiriz & me booked a studio and started recording the event as actors in a play. Re-interpreted the beautiful chaotic disparity that different races, thoughts and sexes bloomed as they came together that night into music and words. The outcome is a beautiful alchemical artifact of centuries old subdued hatred into rock music. All made possible through freedom of speech and sublimation of civilized people. I quite often do these kinds of things for creativity and it is safe to say that my life has become an album based on dystopian fiction that I’m constantly writing.

What do you hope the reaction will be? If people are interested in what you are doing, where do they go to see more?

The reaction will come from both sides, the rowdy, beer drinking have a laughers might love it for its psycho-ness, freeness and the raw music, while the educated elitist other might hate it for its uneducated music and political incorrectness and lack of sensitivity towards victims of rape, genocide, abuse and murder, which they will presume I have no experience of. I personally find both to be equally uninteresting reactions from a society that smells like the area between my balls and ass when it thickens with greasy filth as I lock myself home for days to write new music and screenplays while I jack off with cheap lubricants all day long. The reactions I care about will come from people who sit down and take a moment to interpret what I do into thoughts that I couldn’t have conjured by myself; negative or positive.

That is what art deserves, not “hahaha you guys are psychos”s or political piece of shit correctness, sensitivity or censorship or anything political. Where politics (social hypocrisy) is not enough to calm human soul that is where fine art comes to aid. I would hope to have intellectual, lofty, philosophical and existential conversations on evil about my album with people who don’t use “like” as punctuation marks and their Majors in Philosophy as proof of legitimacy. That was a joke, come as you are, as you were and chances are you will find me one surprisingly kind son of a bitch!

If people are interested in what I am doing, they shall go to:

To buy hand-made CDs and shirts:

All you need is serotonin.

Interview with Utvara of Zloslut

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Serbian black metal band Zloslut has created some of the more interesting music to emerge from the underground of late and stand on the verge of releasin their second album, U Transu Sa Nepoznatim Siluetama in spring 2015. Main composer Utvara took some time to talk with us about the upcoming album and future of this innovative act…

What first attracted you to black metal music?

I would say it’s atmosphere, and its attitude toward all opposition.

What does black metal music communicate, represent or have as a value?

This depend from person to person, band to band and from era to era of the genre itself.

For me black metal represents all negation that “normal” people can’t stand. Primitivism with a way and a goal.

Its value was lost long ago. There are some good bands today of course! Even if I didn’t have the chance to experience black metal in the 90s, I can feel that it is not now what it was intended to be, judging by people who been through it, interviews and some well-documented movies.

Are you the sole creator of Zloslut? How did you decide to go ahead with this “lineup”?

Yes, Zloslut is me, Utvara.

The faithful individuals that follow me on shows are live session members.

You write and sing in your native language. Why did you make the choice to do this and not just use English, German and Norwegian like most black metal now?

I do this because I live in Serbia currently and I think it is an opportunity to know another language than English.

Many bands sing in English; I think it’s more original to sing in your native language, other then English if you have that privilege.

For those who don’t know that language, it will give them an esoteric feeling. As it gives me too when I listen to some Norwegian, Polish, German bands…

Zloslut have songs in English (three on the demo, one of them was re-recorded, it’s “Abyss of Eternal Deception” the track that closed the EP “Pustoš i prevare izgubljenih duša”) and two in French (one on the demo, and one other that was on the split “Anti-Human Manifest” with the song “Le Tonneau De La Haine,” with the text of Charles Baudelaire from Les Fleurs du Mals).

But I’m pretty sure that a musician who speaks several languages will agree with me that it depends from song to song.

Some sound better in English, but some must be in their native language because of its uniqueness.

Are you self-releasing your work as Dark Chants productions? Why this route and not another label?

Yes. Why? Because today anyone can be a label and many of them don’t take this work seriously. I have a problem with trusting a guy who runs a label on the other side of the planet. I don’t want someone to release my work and make a mistake. So I prefer to carry that burden myself.

I feel more safer when I do the work. I would rather support a mistake made by myself than by somebody else. The day I would let someone do that work is the day I will sign to a serious label who knows how things must be, but I have not had that chance yet.

What would you say inspires your songwriting, as in topics or emotions?

It depends; I guess that the lifestyle has a big impact in the work of a one man band.

The majority of my days are passed in reading, listening to music, and playing instruments. I’m not an “evil misanthropic” guy… It’s just that I enjoy times of loneliness. The feeling of melancholy gives me a lot of inspiration to write lyrics, music…

Or I let the intuition guide me. More people should try that, it’s amazing!

Too many bands today want to be like their idol, or for example the Disney band Watain. This brings us back to the second question, haha.

You’re about to release a new album, U Transu Sa Nepoznatim Siluetama available in 2015. How will this differ from your past work?

A lot. I think that this album is what I wanted to make since the creation of Zloslut, but couldn’t because of many obstacles, such as maturity, money, time and countless other factors.

Basically, everything is how I imagined it, so I think this album is the stamp of Zloslut, until further work.

This is definitely the most mature album and songs I’ve ever made.
I’m generally very negative when I make something. I always think that it should be otherwise, but I didn’t let that feeling overtake me.

What other styles or ideas influence you outside of black metal? How much does the history and current social/political/economic situation in your nation influence your thinking?

Literature (especially poetry), classical music…

I don’t let politics affect me in my musical world. I have some political opinions about Europe which are extreme for some people I believe. But I prefer to keep that for myself.

I don’t want to mix politics with my music, because they don’t have a connecting point. It’s pointless. Even if I love some bands that have some connections with politics.

What bands primarily influenced your basic style, and has this changed for U Transu Sa Nepoznatim Siluetama?

The bands that influenced me for Zloslut have not really changed since I created it.

When it comes to black metal, bands that influenced me the most were Burzum, Judas Iscariot, Taake, Peste Noire, Inquisition, Drudkh, Urfaust…

And I can’t hide my appreciation for the Finnish black metal scene. Almost all of them have something melancholic in their sounds… So Baptism, Sargeist, Noenum, Satanic Warmaster, Nattfog, Horna… I think that today they are the bearers of the “black metal flag.”

But the band that made my path into metal was Iron Maiden, and still today after more than fifteen years, I listen to them everyday at least once.

Classical music is also tied to me since I was a child. I was in music school for seven or eight years as a kid.

I love minimalistic pianist such as Philip Glass, Eric Satie (but just a few composition from him), but also the famous Tchaikovsky, Strauss…

And from time to time I like to put some OI Punk bands in the player, simple riffs, nervous voice with good messages.

Where did you record this latest album, and what techniques did you use? What were your goals for the sound/production of the music?

It was recorded in Belgrade, Serbia. I wanted something between crystal clear and raw sound, how to say, to keep the atmospheric spirit of Black Metal.

I’m not a gearhead, to be honest, I’m more into music creation. Knowledge of technical sound production was never my interest (until recently). I leave that to the producers in general, in this case for this album was Nemanja Krneta (a.k.a. Zlorog). I tell him what I want, and then we together explore all the possibilities.

And I’m very happy with how everything turned out.

How do you compose? Do you start with a riff, an idea, an emotion or something else? How do you link together your riffs?

Oh, this depends from track to track, generally with a riff, then I slowly start to create a text, and then assemble everything until it sounds well-arranged for my taste.

What comes next for Zloslut? Will you tour, or record again?

Well after U Transu Sa Nepoznatim Siluetama will be released around spring 2015 we plan to tour in Europe to promote the new album. We have some offers, but much more details will come after the release see the light… And maybe some summer festivals.

For more recording, definitely I have some ideas, but nothing for 2015, since I really want to promote the album as it should be.
I don’t want to drown the fans with many albums, EPs, splits, singles etc…

Interview with Jerry Warden of the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame

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We last talked to Jerry Warden when he announced his intention to create a Heavy Metal Hall of Fame in Arlington, Texas. He took a few moments to grant us an interview and reveal the plan, along with details about his past band Warlock and Texas metal.

You founded Warlock with your brother and two members of what would eventually be Rigor Mortis. What did Warlock sound like? Why do you think it achieved such legendary status in the Texas metal scene?

Originally, we were clueless kids/young men with a love for metal. We played cover songs of the NWOBHM bands and other heavy fare of the time. We didn’t write originals until Rick began to blossom as a song writer.

Recently, members of Warlock have restored the band and plan to release material from the demos. What can you tell us about this?

We played our reunion show at Diamond Jim’s Saloon in Arlington on Sat., Aug. 2 of this year and play on NYE at The Boiler Room in Deep Ellum. We combined the 1986 recording with one song from the 1985 recording and Kerry Crafton mastered the final product.

Do you think Warlock will write and release new material?

We have completed two new songs, “Rubber Bullets” and “Devil Dance” and will continue to write and rehearse for the foreseeable future. “Walking Plague” was recorded by Gammacide but was written by Warlock and we never recorded the song. We intend to record “Walking Plague” and several new songs next year for a 2015 release.

After Warlock, members went on to Rigor Mortis and Gammacide, which were bands from the newer style of metal at the time. How do you think these bands influenced Texas metal? Was their style a natural outgrowth of where Warlock had been heading?

“Walking Plague” and “Gutter Rats” were Warlock songs. Gammacide was a direct outgrowth of Warlock whereas Casey and Harden met Mike and he took them down a different metal path.

Do you think it’s possible to be a metalhead for your whole life and never get bored? Should metal be designed for people beyond their teenage and early 20s years?

Fortunately, I’m a simpleton, a meat and potatoes metalhead. Some mention the word shallow and I’ve been accused by more than one person of failing to “grow up” but I still love metal music. I listen to the hard rock of my youth to the current sounds of Ancient Instinct by Primordius and a whole helluva lot in the middle. I love the lifestyle, too. I get excited for the first cold night of each Fall to wear my leather jacket. Metal music has grown from a community to a family with many positive results. You see a growing number of benefit shows each year for different brothers and sisters but metal continues to provide an edge for the old and clueless as well as the young and clueless.

Your newest project is a “Heavy Metal Hall of Fame.” What gave you the idea for this? Why now?

The Heavy Metal Hall of Fame (MHOF) is overdue at this point. The idea originated from the lack of respect shown to metal music by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RHOF) but, as our community or family evolves, we need a place of our own regardless of any outside factors including the RHOF.

How do you intend to get funding for the “Heavy Metal Hall of Fame”? Will it be a physical museum that charges admission? What are you going to put in the gift shop?

Our major form of funding will derive from grants. We will have a brick and mortar version of the Hall in Arlington, Texas. We should have the grant money in place to lease a building next year. Within 5 to 10 years, we should have the money to construct our own building.

What bands do you think were essential components of the Texas metal scene? Did they all get discovered and accepted, like Pantera and others did?

You’ve gotta begin at the beginning with Warlock, Pantera, Rigor Mortis, Helstar, Watchtower and Militia but gotta mention dead horse, Gammacide, Rotting Corpse, Arcane, Morbid Scream, Absu, Blaspherian, HOD, Shawn Whitaker, SA Slayer, Solitude, Aska, Primordius, etc. The list of bands who were and are essential components of the Texas metal scene should never end.

With Warlock returning and the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame, do you see yourself re-living your youth, or simply doing things you wanted to do the first time? Was there some moment in the past where things did not work out, that you’ve now managed to get past?

The Heavy Metal HOF is a natural progression for me in life. Rick Perry left Warbeast and asked me to reform Warlock with him. Rick Perry defined heavy guitar in the D/FW Metalplex as well as around Texas and the rest of the world. I am honored and very fortunate to share the same work space as Rick and very lucky to share a band with Clay McCarty & Randy Cooke.

Who do you feel is the audience for the Heavy Metal Hall of Fame, or the typical person you imagine will visit, and what do you think it will be like for them? How would it have felt to a 16 year old version of yourself?

I believe metal music transcends the generations and expect to see metalheads of all ages at the Hall. I believe we still have the same excitement within us as the 16 year old metalhead. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, as adults, we’ve learned to contain our excitement.

Interview with Abscession

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We have kept our eye on Swedish death metal style band Abscession who make a somewhat modern version of the classic sound of bands like Entombed and Cemetary. Their first album Grave Offerings touches down early in 2015, and has already generated interest and criticism in the metal community. We were fortunate to be able to chat with the two active members of Abscession, Thomas and Skaldir, about the band and its music.

When did Abscession form? Why did you choose the name that you did?

Skaldir: We formed in 2009 and it was important to us to choose a one word band name. Since almost every word is taken by some metal band by now, it wasn’t easy. The name also should have a classy feel. Brutal and concise. We all had bands before. Personally I had my first band in 1992, which played some kind of melodic Doom never heard before and after. I started playing piano and then later also tried guitar.

Thomas: I’ve been in various bands since the mid nineties both as a guitarist and as a vocalist. I’m a pretty lousy guitar player though so nowadays I tend to focus on the vocals. I’m also active in blackened death act Throne of Heresy, and have been in Zombie Destrüktion since 2002 together with Markus Porsklev who also plays the drums on Grave Offerings.

Your style runs the gamut from old school heavy metal through 1990s Swedish death metal and perhaps beyond. What are your current influences? Have these changed over time?

Skaldir: For me there are always some records that never get old. The first stuff I liked as a teenager, like DEATH, HELLOWEEN, EDGE OF SANITY. But I listen to a lot of different music from AOR, Progressive Rock to Death metal. And even if I have a lot of favs from the early 90s, there are happily also some new albums that can excite me from time to time.

Thomas: Well, I find it interesting to mix things up a bit and I like lots of different music. My death metal influences are mainly from Swedish style death like EDGE OF SANITY, BLOODBATH etc but I also enjoy more progressive stuff like OPETH. I always like stuff that has hooks in it but which also grows on you with every listen. I think maybe that’s where our death ‘n roll-style influences come from, since I really like that kind of stuff when it’s done in moderation. But then there’s a whole range of bands outside the realm of death metal that influence me in different ways. Everything from classic IRON MAIDEN to FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM have had a huge impact on the way I write lyrics for example.

Where did you record Grave Offerings and how did you achieve the sound you did? Was it to your satisfaction? Would you do anything differently next time?

Skaldir: Since I am a sound engineer most of the recording was done at Studio Kalthallen.

Thomas recorded his vocals himself, and everything was mixed in my studio in the end. We decided to let Dan Swanö do the mastering.

It is a classic BOSS HM-2 guitar sound. That is a distortion pedal a lot of people will know from ENTOMBED. Actually I used two and combined two different stages of distortion and mic’ed the cabinet with three microphones. I am pretty happy with the sound, but I think next time I will rather mix a “normal” distortion” in to a HM-2 distortion.

Are the members of Abscession full-time musicians, or is this a “spare time” project?

Thomas: We’ve all got other jobs outside of the music since it’s not something we can really live on (yet…). But we’re all dedicated to this art form and see it as something more than a part time project — it’s been a part of all our lives for many years and makes us who we are.

Why, do you think, is Swedish metal 1985-1995 so legendary? Even though that was two decades ago?

Skaldir: I think it was a good time for metal in general. People just did what they liked and a lot of new genres were founded. Those old bands didn’t exactly play perfectly and the sound also wasn’t perfect at all. But it was unique and it was something never heard before. Doing something new these days isn’t so easy.

Thomas: Sweden has been a big music nation for decades with everything from ABBA to Europe paving the way. A lot of people growing up back then learned to play instruments in school and of course it all helped to pave the way for successful metal bands. Even if they didn’t play perfectly there was something experimental and organic over the music from that time which also made it interesting to listen to.

Did you ever consider composing in a newer style of metal, like metalcore or “melodic metal”? What do you think is different between those styles and the classic underground Swedish metal sound?

Skaldir: I would say we are a rather melodic Death Metal band. The style we play at the moment is exactly what we want to play, and maybe the only thing we are good at. It’s not like we want to copy the old bands, but it is just our thing to sound that way. We will develop within the sound.

Thomas: Well, I think it’s always difficult and often unnecessary to brand everything within preconceived genres. I can’t remember a single discussion over the years where we’ve said “we’re gonna play within this or this genre.” We’ve written the songs we’d like to hear ourselves within our own capacity and it’s some kind of death metal. So no, we never sat down and considered writing metalcore or melodic death, even though our songs ended up having some melodies in them. I still wouldn’t brand it melodeath since we’re nowhere in the vicinity of IN FLAMES or other melodic death bands.

How do you compose songs? Do you start with a melody, a riff, an idea, a visual concept or something else?

Skaldir: I wrote a lot of riffs on my classical guitar here when I felt like writing riffs. Then later I thought about which riffs to combine. Normally you start with one riff and the rest just happens and you just know what has to come next and how you arrange it. At least that is how it is for me.

Later Thomas will listen to the song, and the mood of the song will inspire him to write lyrics.

Thomas: Yeah, Skaldir’s music sort of paves the way for the lyrics. I often have themes or ideas in my head that I wanna write about, but I never really know where to start. But usually after a few listens to a song I find a lyric rhythm and just start putting words in there that fit with the theme I want for the song. Sometimes it becomes clear very quickly but other times the lyrics takes on a life of their own.

For example The song “Plague Bearer” on Grave Offerings was supposed to be a really rotten track about a plague victim but ended up being an allegorical and anti-religious text instead. And to be honest, it’s a much better text now than it would have been if I had stuck to the original idea.

Where do you feel your demo “Death Incarnate” and Grave Offerings differ?

Skaldir: I think having a more technical drummer on Grave Offerings is the biggest difference to the demo. The songwriting is still pretty simple with the same trademarks the demo has.

Thomas: I think we’ve sort of found our path. A three track cassette like Death Incarnate can’t show the full range of a band’s sound as well as an album. And Skaldir has worked a lot with the overall production so it all sounds fucking great!

Grave Offerings is your first signing to a label. How is that working out? What do you plan for the future? Is there a tour in the works?

Skaldir: Well the demo tape was also released by a label. Suffer Productions is a small underground label though. Final Gate is a bit bigger, but still underground. We just signed for one album and will see what will happens next. So far we are pretty happy.

Thomas: Even though the current deal is for one album only I feel confident our next release will be a label release as well. We’re actually already working on the next album so no matter if there’s a label or not, ABSCESSION will go on. As far as tours go we’re not planning anything yet, even though we’d like to at some point in the future.

If people like what they hear, where should they go to learn more about Abscession? Are the demos still available? Do you think you’ll ever tour UK or USA?

Thomas: I actually don’t know if there are any demo tapes left, maybe Suffer Productions have a few but I doubt it. There are probably some underground metal webshops that would consider trading or selling it if you look hard enough.

But it’s also available as a digital release on our bandcamp. In this digital world we’re of course also present on facebook/abscession.

That’s probably the best way to learn more about us. As for touring the UK or the US, who knows… I guess we’ll have to wait and see how big the demand is once the album is released in early 2015!

Interview with techno-slam-deathcore band Cuff

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The metal scene is not a static thing. It goes on, and you either participate or accept it as is. For this reason, many of us are looking into newer styles of metal.

Cuff combine Cryptopsy-inspired deathcore with slam and a Voivod-inspired technological fascination. Comprised of only two guys, Bob Shaw (vocals) and Zach Smith (all instruments), this band has bashed out an incredible number of albums.

Zach Smith took the time between beard agriculture and research of tortures to answer our questions:

You’re a two-person band with one person doing all vocals and the other doing all instrumentals. How does that work out? Do you collaborate on the songwriting or contribute roles as you can?

Mostly the songs are written by me, with input from Bob as to where or how the song structures should be. I think it works well the way we do things, at least it’s worked for the last 8 years We both write the lyrics , so it’s pretty equal what we do as a band.

As a Canadian band, you have a rich history to live up to… including both Cryptopsy, for your general musicality, and Voivod or Dead Brain Cells perhaps for the sci-fi lyrics. What made you choose to go in this direction?

It was an obvious choice to us to go with the sci-fi stuff, it felt like it matched the music and tone of the band perfectly.

The French metal scene is amazing, we made a trip out to Montreal last year and were met with open arms by some of the coolest fans/bands on the planet.

As for our influences I think we borrow more from American brutal death metal than anything Canadian, but Cryptopsy is an obvious candidate for an influence.

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Inevitably your album will be compared with West Coast technical gore-grind but other influences seem to be there. I hear Cannibal Corpse, and notice at least one of y’all wearing a Dying Fetus tshirt. Can you tell us what your other influences were?

My influences vary between styles of music, anything from Zeppelin to the Beatles and back to Devourment. It’s a whole mish-mash of interesting things indeed! Bob’s influences include of course Dying Fetus along with Wormed and Jenovavirus.

Transient Suffering Through the Ergosphere is your third album. What were the other two like? Is there a continuing storyline between them? If so, what part does this third album tell?

Well actually it’s our 8th full length and 24th release in total!

The album is a continuation from our last album from Gore House Productions called Forced Human Sacrifice to the New Gods of Earth. We have plans for a third album in the storyline somewhere down the road but try and keep that between us!

With only two men in the band, it doesn’t seem like you would have the advantage of being able to jam on this material. How do you compose? Are mathematical formulas, laser pointers and graph paper involved?

Lots of riffs and demos in the recording process, and we rehearse with our drum machine named Montgomery a few times a month. We’ve played live with a lot of bands as well over the years. Almost played with the legendary Anal Cunt but Seth had to kick the bucket right before the show was drawing near!

How do you describe the music you make?

Our music, to me, is organized chaos. It has a real dark vibe to it that stands out among other little things like sound design and song structure. We’re heavily influenced by Jenovavirus, Dying Fetus and Devourment mostly for their ‘slam’ elements.

Can you tell us about recording this album? Was it a challenge, where did you do it, and did you achieve the sound you wanted? Were there any production hacks necessary to make that come about?

We recorded it in a little building down the street from our houses with a good friend of ours Ken Coul.

The studio is called Black Cloud Recording Studio and we did get the sound we were looking for and more. It’s our best sounding album to date with the most crushing slams and fastest grinds we’ve written. No frilly production was used other than amp presets and some reverb. It’s all natural!

What’s next for Cuff?

An EP, a new full length, new merch and definitely a tour are sometime in the near future. We really need to get out there to our friends across the world (and also to please our label GHP! Haha).

All in all, we’re keeping busy and that’s what matters.

You can check us out on Facebook and our Bigcartel sites.

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Interview: Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone

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Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone is Associate Professor of Anthropology, and Curator of the McClure Archives and University Museum, at the University of Central Missouri. She specializes in the study of gender and sexuality in music scenes, and also works as in textile curation and preventive conservation.

Dr. Clifford-Napoleone also curates the largest collections of Middle Eastern traditional material culture in America. She is also a lifelong metal fan and one of the founders of the International Society for Metal Music Studies. She lives in rural Missouri with her wife, three dogs, and a very large collection of industrial metal.

We were lucky to get a few words with Dr. Clifford-Napoleone on the topic of metal and its relation to power and her study area of specialty.

You are an anthropologist. What drew you to this discipline?

I got into anthropology as a young child. I used to pretend I was Howard Carter in King Tut’s tomb! I started volunteering at a museum, working for an anthropologist, when I was a freshman in high school. I planned on being an archaeologist, but I didn’t like the excavations as much as the lab work. Then I started working in material culture studies and ethnography, and everything just clicked. I love the way that anthropology teaches us how to be more human, to revel in diversity as our biological imperative, to really see the world for the enormous ball of complexity that it is.

What is the anthropological perspective on heavy metal? Has this been enhanced by your own personal knowledge of and enjoyment of this genre?

Lots of folks might think anthropology and heavy metal is an odd fit, but actually anthropologists have worked on topics in heavy metal for a long time. Jeremy Wallach, one of the founders of metal studies, is a cultural anthropologist working on heavy metal in Indonesia. Sam Dunn, whom I am sure many of your readers know from his films, is an anthropologist from Canada. There are many others. For an anthropologist, all aspects of human life are considered both unique and important. That extends to heavy metal as well, and anthropologists who work on heavy metal topics discuss is cultural, social, artistic and sonic effects in all sorts of ways. As to your second question, the answer is a resounding yes. I tell my own students that they will always be successful if their career engages them in things they are passionate about. I love heavy metal, and my passion for heavy metal is absolutely part of my ability to think, talk and write about metal as an anthropologist.

You’ve got a book coming out in 2014 about queer fans in heavy metal. Can you tell me more about what’s going to be in it?

My book on queer fans (Queerness in Heavy Metal: Metal Bent, to be published by Routledge and released in February 2015) is the result of seven years of work talking to queer fans, and researching the influence of queer performers and lyrics on heavy metal scenes. My book includes a lot of material about the role queerness played, and continues to play, in heavy metal. That includes the information I received from over 500 self-identified queer fans who took my online survey, and dozens that participated in individual interviews with me. I see my work as transdisciplinary- anthropology certainly, but also metal studies, ethnomusicology, cultural studies, gender and sexuality. I’m trying to make the case the metal is inherently a queer institution.

How do you study queer fans of heavy metal? What kind of barriers do you face in trying to contact them, learn about them and so on?

Queer fans of heavy metal are more connected than you might think. There are a handful of active discussion groups, listservs and websites devoted to queer fans of heavy metal, as well as some Facebook groups and blogs. As a queer metal fan myself, I was already a member of a lot of those groups. Once I started posting the link to the survey online, queer fans just sent it out to other lists, groups, and folks that they knew. I’ve also posted it on my blog and website, and always talk about it when I give lectures or papers at conferences. Because my survey is anonymous, queer fans feel pretty comfortable telling me exactly what they think too. I ended up with information from queer fans from six continents and 39 countries.

Rob Halford is generally credited with heavy metal’s imagery of leather clothing, whips, motorcyles and studded leather belts. In one VH1 documentary I watched (yes a very credible source!) one of the pundits credited this imagery to the gay community in London in the 1970s. In your view, is this correct? Has heavy metal appropriated most of its image from the gay community?

In my opinion, there is absolutely no doubt that Halford started that trend, and even less doubt that it came from the gay leather community. This is one of the things I discuss in detail in my book. Did earlier metal acts wear leather jackets? Sure, taken either from post-World War II bomber jacket style, or late 1960s leather belted coats, or even from the post-war motorcycle culture in America and the Rockers in the UK. The problem is, if you take an image of Halford premiering his leather look, and set it side-by-side with Sabbath or Motorhead or even Blue Cheer, you’ll see that Halford’s leather is entirely different. Ozzy wore striped bell bottom jeams and a brown belted coat for many of their early appearances. Even Alice Cooper wore bell bottoms and white clothes on stage until Halford picked up a whip. If you take that same iconic image of Halford’s leather look and set it next to images from gay leather culture, you have an exact match. Rob Halford has, over the years, given some different statements on whether he identified with leather culture or not, but that’s where the look came from. What I find interesting is not only that heavy metal style comes from gay leather culture, but how heavy metal also appropriated the masculinity that came with that and then pretended that didn’t happen. If you really think about it, if we push masculinity to its limits can we get any more masculine than muscular leather men who only have sex with other men? Funny that heavy metal keeps trying to refashion that as straight male masculinity, when it never was.

Other than overlap between members, what do you think are the similarities between the heavy metal experience and the gay experience? Are both outsider groups, thus privy to certain knowledge that the socially accepted cannot perceive, or is it something else?

I can tell you one thing for certain- the queer fans I’ve spoken with see and feel an overlap. One fan called this feeling “outsider togetherness,” this idea that queer metal fans are outsiders in two overlapping worlds. The similarities between these overlapping outsider worlds are the kinds of similarities that anthropologists see in most marginalized groups: a coded language, symbols that mean something specific that people who are not outsiders do not understand, certain styles, and particular ways of using space. For example, let’s consider the dog collar, a popular accessory in heavy metal and punk scenes. I remember in the 1980s, we all did odd jobs around my neighborhood so we could buy studded dog collars at pet stores to look tough. I had a leather studded collar that I actually took off my dog to wear, and I equated it with being tough and being metal. That was the symbol of being a metal chick. Now, many years later, I know that people in BDSM relationships refer to certain submissives as being “collared” or “under the collar.” For BDSM-identified folks, seeing someone in a leather vest and a collar might mean something much more complex than just “I’m a tough metal chick.” The coded ways of existing in marginalized groups is complex insider knowledge, and for queer fans of heavy metal, even more complex because you can see where the codes overlap.

You also have expertise in textiles and their conservation. Are there any parallels you can draw between the conservation of textiles and the conservation of a culture or art form? What about a lifestyle?

Conservation is a big and tricky word. The idea is that you are preventing further damage, keeping something safe for perpetuity. As a museum curator, I work with textiles so that future generations can access them, study them, and perhaps understand something about the people who used them. I think that, in some way, we are always involved in the act of conserving our culture, whether that be lifestyles or arts or anything else. We record our music, we photograph things that signal our interests, we hand down important belongings- even the selfie that we see so often in social media is an example of conserving yourself, your life. How often do you tell a story about yourself, post a pic of your dinner or your beer on Facebook, post your music and art to the web so that others can rip, save or archive it? I think that for me, and speaking as a museum curator, the biggest conservation challenge is a digital one. It will be interesting to see what is actually conserved from an increasingly digital world. After all, how many emails do we actually print to save for some future archive?

Conserving a lifestyle or an art form is difficult. As an anthropologist, I think it might even be impossible. You cannot stop change. Human beings change, their environment changes, societies expand and contract. Art objects, recordings or paintings or quilts, we can conserve those. But conserving a lifestyle suggests we can trap humans in time like ancient insects encased in amber. And we can’t. Even if we could, I’m not sure we should. Heavy metal, as a subculture and an assemblage of scenes, has so many artifacts to leave behind: sounds, styles, film, images, on and on. But conserving the actual feeling of standing on a floor with a thousand other metalheads, blast beats shaking your bones, heads banging in rhythm? I don’t think we could conserve that any more than we could conserve our other feelings. Heavy metal has to change too, it is a human movement.

In a blog post, you mention studying the connections between leather and metal communities. What kind of connections are these? How do we observe them?

The connections are long-standing and quite deep. The first gay rights organization chartered in the United States was a leather motorcycle club, The Satyrs. Young metalheads, and later industrial and goth metal fans, found themselves welcomed in leather bars, clubs and parties where their tastes in style were not seen as threatening. After Halford premiered his leather look the ties became even more solid: metal performers donning leather gear, leather organizations using metal imagery and language, even the appearance of metal tracks at leather bars and parties. I think the key to observing them, however, is to know the history of leather-identified people in the western world. Leather-identified folks have been vilified and stereotyped for decades, both people in the queer communities and people form the straight communities. If you really want to understand those connections, you have to engage with leather culture in a new way. A visit to the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago is a great start, I can never thank the staff there enough for everything they do for the leather community and its history. My week there as Visiting Scholar was one of the most important intellectual periods of my career.

You refer to metal as a “transitory space.” What defines a transitory space? What can be done in a transitory space that can’t be done in a regular cultural/artistic space?

Transitory essentially means temporary, almost an ethereal space that will only be there for a blink in time. If we think about metal concerts, for example, I think we see a good example. Imagine a concert experience you’ve had: the sound, the crowd, the music in your ears and the bass thumping in your bones. But when the concert ends, the metal space evaporates. The memory of it sits in your brain and your bones, but the next concert will be nothing like the one before. Transitory spaces provide a place for playing with the rules, because it is all going up in smoke anyway. I went to a Killswitch Engage show last year, and down in the mosh pit was a very tall, extremely muscular guy in a Little Bo Peep outfit. He was moshing with ferocity, with his bonnet on and his lace skirts flapping away. Am I going to see that at every show? Hell no, I’ve been going to shows for 25 years and that’s my first Bo Peep in the moshpit. Did I see that, hear it, feel it the same way as the guy standing next to me? Not even possible, I have no idea what he was thinking about Bo Peep. And when the show was over, Bo Peep was gone. You can’t play like that in a permanent space. If I showed up at the office tomorrow in a Bo Peep outfit, I’d be sent home.

For many years I’ve considered metal to be music dedicated to power, where most other music is dedicated to satiation. Do you see power as important in metal? How do power, sex and attitudes toward gender reveal themselves?

Power is such a slippery concept, isn’t it. Power over what, or who? Empowered or powerful? I agree, I think metal is about power. But I also think metal is about the brutality of life, about survival no matter how bloody the battle. Power in metal is so much about metal as a home for outsiders, a place where those of us who feel like we don’t fit (for whatever reason) find a place where the extremity of the sound matches the extremity of our experiences. It is a power that really refuses to bow to authority, and a bodily refusal at that since metal is so physical. So in metal we’re not really saying “I’m in power, I will tell you what to do,” we’re saying, “I’m a survivor, you can’t tell me what to do.” There’s a fascinating dynamic in there. Sex and gender, especially for people whose bodies, desires and orientations don’t fit what mainstream authority says is acceptable, fits in that conception of power. It’s my body, you can’t tell me what to do with it. I’ve read a lot online recently suggesting that hyperfeminine women in metal were anti-feminist too, and I don’t agree. Third wave feminism is right in line with the thinking about power in metal. There’s very little difference between “you can’t tell me what to do” and “get your laws off my body.” For queer folks, the power in metal also means that your refusal to bow to authority might mean losing family, friends, being isolated, and for intersex and trans folks the very real fight against a world that demands you act your body. Imagine the bodily refusal, the physical power in that individual act. This is sonic power too. You hear a song that empowers you, and it travels with you in your ears, in your memory, in your tissues. You see a show that empowers you, and the sight is branded on your brain.

In addition to your book, you’re fully active in the academic community including supporting metal. What’s ahead for you?

A lot. I’m giving one of the keynote lectures at the Metal and Cultural Impact conference in Ohio this November, and then getting ready for the Metal, Markets and Materials international conference in Helsinki in June 2015. I’m Treasurer for the International Society for Metal Music Studies, and we’re going to have a busy year getting membership systems rolling and the first issue of the journal Metal Music Studies out to the world. I’ve also got some essays in a couple of forthcoming collections, one based on the presentations at the Cologne conference in 2008, and another from the meeting in Puerto Rico last March. I’m lucky, I get to spend part of my day working with the smartest metal intellectuals on Earth, bringing metal studies to the masses. I’ve also got a second book on the way soon, the publication of my doctoral dissertation on sexuality in jazz scene Kansas City before World War II.

Do you think academia’s expanding focus on metal has brought more light to outsider communities? What do you think is responsible for the post-2006 relatively large expansion in metal and academia?

I think outsider communities are always going to be outside in some way. In truth, several of us who identify as metal scholars talk about our concerns in bringing academic attention to metal. But let’s face it, metal has always received a lot of attention, and not always positive. And it survives, maybe better than it ever has before, and still just as outsider as always. If we can survive Tipper Gore and Hot Topic, then metal will be just fine. I do think that the academic work on metal will bring better, more focused attention to metal scenes and fans, instead of the tired old stereotypes. As for the increased attention, that’s the work of a core of brilliant metalhead folks who are teaching, writing, and thinking about heavy metal in academic terms.

Can you tell us about your own history with metal? How did you get involved? Were you a fan first, or a researcher first?

Definitely a fan first. I started listening to metal as a kid growing up in west Texas. In my mixed-race and working class neighborhood you listened to three things: metal, country, and pop music from Mexico. I grew up listening to a tossed salad of Sabbath, Bob Wills and Menudo. First metal record I “owned” (I bootlegged it from the radio) was Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots.” Then I got an 8-track of Iron Butterfly’s “In A Gadda Da Vida,” it was 1979 and my mom got it for me at a garage sale, I was 5. It was all downhill after that. I was a big-haired 80s glam band girl in the 80s, with posters of Motley Crue on the wall, and I have Tipper Gore to thank for turning me on to Judas Priest. By the mid to late 1990s I was a Rivethead, and I still love industrial and industrial goth metal. I started reading academic work about metal when I was in graduate school in the late 1990s. By the time I was done with my dissertation, I knew I wanted to devote my research to heavy metal.

Metal folks always want to know what you’re into now. I like my metal heavy, weapons grade plutonium heavy. I’m not much for thrash and speed metal. A good sludge album, a heavy shoegaze record, something dark and funereal- that’s what I prefer. I also listen to records by bands with openly queer members, and a ton of classic NWOBHM. Priest is my favorite band of all time. Last show I went to was Killswitch Engage, and my next three shows are Motley Crue’s farewell, Joan Jett and then Judas Priest’s latest tour. And my favorite recording right now? Torche’s Leather Feather.

Interview: Question

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Question come from Querétaro, Mexico and create technical death metal in a combination of old school styles. Their debut album Doomed Passages saw release through Chaos Records in early June. Question deliver a very spacious style of death metal reminiscent of The Chasm with some Finnish touches. The guitarist, Rodrigo, agreed to talk to us about the band.

Question caught my eye as an unusual name for a death metal band. What made you choose this name?

“Question” is a name which is coherent with the philosophy of the band and the lyrics; it’s consistent with the context that we want to portray. A friend came with the idea and we thought it fit perfectly with the music that we were composing at the time. It’s not surprising that some think it is a weird or dumb name; you’ll always find people that keep looking for the most rude or evil names, but I think that has become a weak point with the past of the years in the metal scene.

I detect a strong Finnish death metal influence on Doomed Passages. Would I be correct?

Well, we are fans of some early Finnish death metal bands; also we listen to some contemporary bands that have been spreading rottenness lately. However, it’s more appropriate to say that we’re heavily influenced by obscure death metal in general; Mexico has a lot of obscure metal bands and some of them are big influences for us. Also, besides metal, we listen to a lot of punk, progressive rock, etc.

What drove you to create death metal?

Curiosity. In terms of composition death metal has a very vast spectrum of possibilities and we all are very into obscure, heavy and strange stuff, not just music, also books, films, so I guess it’s natural to feel a tendency to create and play this kind of tunes.

Is art separate from entertainment or are they one in the same?

I’m afraid I’ve never established a delimited frontier between these two concepts; any attempt to be objective will fail, however I can resume my thoughts with the following: many expressions of art can be entertaining, but entertainment mostly lacks art. Art is an intimate vision of an artist, and sometimes the vision is shared with some people. In contrast, entertainment is made for the masses, is a guided story that leads to a guided conclusion. Art is more subjective, it makes you think what you’ve experienced.

Tell me about the recording process of Doomed Passages.

We recorded the album in April 2013 at Oz Recording Studios in Mexico City. The process lasted five days and it was the first time for the actual lineup to record something. All went well, the studio is amazing, and we had a really good time, although the mixing and mastering process was more exhausting, as we couldn’t make a connection with Roberto Granados. I think the result is good.

What does the artwork on Doomed Passages signify and how does it tie into what is being expressed musically?

Hector and I wrote a couple of ideas for the artwork based on the lyrics and the band’s philosophy. We send this to Arturo Vargas and he came with this spectral vision that became the cover of our first album. The significance is relative; art should not be restricted to a single interpretation.