Interview with Morgengrau

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Morgengrau rose from the ashes of underground metal and resurrected the ancient ways of old school death metal, hailing back to the 1980s and its fertile ferment of fusion between speed metal, death metal and the various hybrids. Sounding in part like a late 1980s speed/death album and in part like a crushing death metal venture from 1992, Morgengrau carry on the tradition of death metal and give it their own unique stamp.

Extrinsic Pathway is the band’s first full-length release and hits the stores on April 2, 2013. This album features all of what you might expect from older death metal, but also keeps true to its own vision of what the future and the past should hold in common. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to speak to Erika, Morgengrau‘s guitarist/vocalist, about the nature of death metal and where Morgengrau fits into this complex formula.

What made you enjoy death metal, and want to be in a death metal band?

The ferocity of death metal has had me since I first heard bands like Possessed, Malevolent Creation and Cannibal Corpse. While I’ve drifted in and out of enjoying other genres, death metal has been a constant. It speaks to me at a deep, intrinsic level more so than any other musical form. I think it’s natural for humans to create more of the things they love. This is certainly my story. I’m not looking to reinvent the genre or forge brave new paths into the realms of extreme music. Morgengrau is about writing songs springing from the dark places inside us, songs we identify with and enjoy hearing and playing.

Can you tell us a bit about the musical history of the band members? Who plays what and where are they from?

We’re all lifer metalheads, with some of us farther along the road than the others. Multigenerational, shall we say. I’m the oldest with the most bands and experience under my belt. I’m also the only non-native Texan in the band. For those who don’t know, I started out in 1995 up in the Boston, MA area singing for neoclassic group Autumn Tears. Kind of a bizarre beginning, now that I look back on it. Since then I’ve worked my way through progressively heavier projects: Ignitor, Bracaglia, sessioning for Vesperian Sorrow and regularly playing in Drifter, an Iron Maiden tribute. In Morgengrau, I’ve finally created the right band for me where I have full creative control and leadership. This is the first band in which I’ve done more than vocals. Learning to play guitar and sing has been quite the learning experience for me.

The others have had shorter but more focused careers. Reba drummed for a technical death metal band called Manifestation for about 5 years; Jake played bass with avant garde black metallers Humut Tabal and now plays in Plutonian Shore, a very traditional black metal band based in San Antonio. Morgengrau is Nick’s first band.

You list Asphyx, Pestilence and Immolation as influences for at least how you want the album to sound. But there’s a lot more influence in there, ranging all over the place. Can you tell us what else influences you?

I’m terrible at describing my own music; I use what others say they hear to describe it. A number of reviews so far have mentioned it as having “progressive” elements which is a shock — I don’t like progressive metal and certainly wasn’t aiming for that. Simply proves how everyone experiences music a different way. For me, it is what it is. I listen to a lot of Immolation and Finnish death metal like Torture Killer, Winterwolf and Demigod. That definitely lends a flavor, however, I’m acutely aware of avoiding becoming a clone. Morgengrau needs to stand on its own. When I write, I think about what attracts me to certain songs verses what repels me. What works, what doesn’t work. Why do I go back to certain songs time and again? What makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck?

How long has Morgengrau been around? How did you all find each other? Is it hard to find people who want to be in old school bands, as opposed to the new school styled ones?

Morgengrau officially formed in July 2010. Reba and I had been jamming cover tunes for a while and asked Jake to join us in the summer. Very quickly, we realized we made a good a unit. I’ve known Reba since ’04 when I met her at an Ignitor show. I prefer to hang out with guys, but when I saw Reba banging her head like a maniac, I knew we’d be friends. I met Nick in 2009 at a Belphegor show, and Jake shortly after. They were both going to school in San Antonio at that time. The whole process of coming together was inspiring, as it seemed ridiculous at first for a 40 year old to be asking 20 year olds to join a band, yet it worked amazingly well. There’s a whole group of young kids in Texas who are into old school metal for all the right reasons. Unlike when I lived up Northeast, down here I’m surrounded by musicians with whom I can connect and trust. I’m very particular about who I’ll have in my band. No drama or critical life dysfunctions. I’ve been in bands with that and it’s the worst. No thanks.

Extrinsic Pathway suggests someone reaching out, or finding a way through life that’s outside of the internal dialogue of a human being. Is this a concept song or album? Can you tell us what it’s about?

The inspiration came from Reba, who mentioned the phrase after hearing it in class. It’s a medical term — part of the blood clotting process triggered by outside damage to a vessel. I realized it could be used to describe walking the Left Hand Path. Most of us who walk it have been damaged or driven to the dark side in some way. It’s our way of protecting and defending against that unwanted outside insult. We’re all hurtling towards our own personal armageddon. You must ask yourself – “When the time comes, will I go standing and proud, or mewling and crawling on my belly like most everyone else?” Walking the Left is my way of embracing and preparing for that ending, however it comes. That awareness gives me incredible focus and strength. My bandmates feel similarly, in their own ways. The concept should ring true with other listeners, I imagine.

The cover of Sepultura “Inner Self” is phenomenal. You’ve also covered Pestilence and Asphyx. Why these three? Why did you pick “Inner Self”? Is it a “message thing”?

Thanks for the compliment. Before we started writing original material, like most bands we jammed a lot of cover tunes. Asphyx‘s music is simple, catchy and easy to play. I’d not played guitar for almost 20 years so when I picked it back up in 2009, I needed something fun with which to brush off the dust.

Pestilence is my favorite death metal band of all time. Consuming Impulse will be forever timeless. Sepultura wasn’t on the roster until Jake, Nick and Reba started banging out “Inner Self” at the end of practices just for fun. We weren’t planning to make part of our repertoire but it quickly stuck. The song means a lot to Jake, as more than any of us, he’s experienced a coalescence of self over the last few years. When we first met, he was unsure of his path, figuratively dipping his toe into the Acheron, while still clinging to old beliefs. We’ve watched him shed his weak skin for a more confident hide, to begin living a life beholden to none but him. What a pleasure it has been, watching his transformation. It’s one of the reasons why he handles vocals on “Inner Self” — that is his song, in many ways.

The first half of Extrinsic Pathway shows what seems to me is an affinity for mid- to late-1980s speed metal type stuff, which Sepultura and Slayer overlap, since they’re sort of half-death/half-speed. What do you think it is about that time period that’s so appealing, both to Morgengrau and the rest of us out here?

It’s a time of life thing. The late 80s were when I, as a teenager, truly found who I wanted to be as a musician. The riffs and sounds of that time are permanently imprinted in my psyche. This was the Buffalo scene at its heyday, so everything was about Slayer, Sepultura, Death, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and Obituary. That time was truly magic. The ferocity of this new music was withering. I remember going with my boyfriend to Mark “Psycho” Abrams’ house to get a copy of Deicide‘s debut album which we’d won from his radioshow. We sat in the car after getting it, holding it, mute, afraid of it. Same thing with Morbid Angel‘s Altars of Madness. Music of such incredible intensity, that went straight to my core, ripped my soul out then fed it back to me, bloody and shredded. If I can capture even an nth of that feeling in my songs, I’ll consider myself successful. I want a young person to hear Morgengrau and feel something of that same, frothing insanity which marked all our days back then. There will never be another time like it.

It sounds like a conscious effort was made to vary up song structure and offer different conclusions to riffs so that each song grows a bit. What appeals to you about this idea?

That’s just good songwriting. It’s easy to write a bunch of singular riffs and stitch them together like a patchwork quilt. Some people love that kind of music but personally, I hate it. It feels like a epileptic fit. Songs have to flow. The transitions need to make sense. Dynamic is critical, otherwise the ear goes numb. Let’s not forget the importance of the concept of “hook.” If you can’t keep the main riff in your head after the song is over, it might as well not even exist. Bands get all wrapped up writing these complex, super fast, theory-based riffs to prove their musicianmanship. That does not a good song make — those tunes never sound like anything other than WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP WHOMP in the typical shitty live setting. All I want is for the interested to get our music on first listen, so they come back for more.

Can you tell us where you produced this album, and how was your first time as a band in a studio? What techniques did you use to get that nice thick early 1990s sound?

Two words about studio time: fucking hell.

To elaborate: We recorded at Amplitude Media here in Austin. It was close and flexible, which in the end was fortunate as we didn’t move along nearly as fast as expected. I’d never recorded anything from the ground up. Reba had one demo under her belt. Nick and Jake – no experience to speak of. We got the click track going and off we went… into the sterile land of first album territory where the fan reaction is, “What the fuck happened? The demo was so ferocious!” I instantly understood how that happens — you think the “right way” is to record to a click and you’ve NEVER EVER used one in practice, so that click sucks all the life out of the songs. So… no click. Sure there’s some timing stuff here and there, but the songs sound alive, and that’s the key.

Four rhythm tracks with my Mesa cabinet double miked got us that fat sound. We used a Rectifier Roadster and a custom Brugera for amplification. All those tracks took a long time. It was very taxing — I’m certainly not a one take kind of player.

Everyone had their own personal freakout moment during recording. Rather unifying, in the end. The day I had mine it was hot (it was a good 108º outside, probably 90º in the studio), I’d had a long, shitty day at work and had received some rather horrible personal news a few days before. I sat down with the guitar to start on rhythm track 3 for “Antithetical,” sweat was pouring down the back of my neck and my arms and an ant was walking up the neck of my guitar. I just about started screaming. I wanted nothing more than to quit. But how could I? I had three other people believing that I could do it, that this would happen. So I shoved the panic down, ignored the ant and the sweat, and got it done.

Once we got to vocals, things smoothed out. Reba floored us with her backing tracks. She has a hell of a voice! On “Extrinsic Pathway,” “Antithetical,” and “Polymorphic”, that really deep roar under mine is her. The day she cut her tracks will forever remain one of my fondest memories. There she was in the isolation room, all 5’4″ of her, never having recorded vocals before, and suddenly this enormous demonic roar coming pouring out of the monitors and knocks us all off the couch. Jake was just open-mouthed. At that point, I started laughing and could not stop. It was such an amazing moment. What a hidden talent she has.

We mixed and mastered with Devo Andersson and Endarker Studio. Devo’s a friend whose work I hold in high regard. Mixing from a distance was challenging but worth it. There was no way I was going to let everyone’s blood, sweat, and almost-tears be wasted by cheaping out on the final stages. We finished the album late, vastly overbudget, way stressed out and exhausted… and it was worth every penny, minute, and ounce of energy.

What’s next for Morgengrau? I know that most of your team have other projects, both musical and otherwise. Are you going to tour? Gig around Austin, TX, which I believe is your homebase? Sacrifice goats to the Dark Lord Ba’al and His Legions of Necrocaprous Antagonists?

Hipster abuse. Shameless self promotion. Spamming teh Interwebz. Cat memes — ok, just kidding. We’re going to play as many strategically important shows as possible. There are gigs in San Antonio and Houston booked, then we’re heading to NYC to play Martyrdoom in June. I have to give thanks to Vinny and Signature Riff for such an amazing opportunity — we are so excited! Touring is definitely on the wish list, but with our various job schedules, might be tough. Never say never, though. One thing I will avoid is overplaying — we see that so much in TX. There’s always that one band that’s on every goddamned bill. After six months, nobody cares. It’s important to keep anticipation up. New material is in the works, and we continue to work on stage presentation. If you’re going to do it, do it big and do right, and with passion.

Do you think old school death metal is returning? Other than technique, what makes OSDM different from “modern” death metal, metalcore, deathcore, indie-metal, post-metal and bounce metal?

You forgot crabcore. I’ll tell you, the day someone sent me that Attack Attack video at work I nearly had to go into the bathroom and drown myself in the toilet. That’s METAL? And those are MEN? I’ve got more testosterone in my wizened left ovary than all five of them combined. WHAT HAPPENED?

I think old school DM is already back. Bands like Funebrarum, Disma, Cruciamentum and War Master are merely a few of the great examples of new death metal done the right way. It helps the old greats are still around with more enthusiasm than ever — last night, I saw Imprecation, Master and Incantation — that’s about 100 years of death metal experience rolled up into one show. Immolation‘s new album sounds like it’s going to be killer.

What makes it different? Shit, where to begin? Good songwriting. No jerking off on the fretboard. Solos that complement the music, even if they’re only five notes. Lyrical focus on destruction, the occult, anti-Christian sentiments, war, suffering, darkness. Musicians who would sooner kill themselves than get on stage wearing a white belt. Long hair or no hair, nothing in between. Pointy guitars. Blood, our own or yours, we don’t care. Steaks and hamburgers, none of that vegan shit. Going on stage blind because you’d sooner die than play wearing your glasses. Songs that generate circle pits. Self-knowledge. Willingness to sacrifice all. Passion without drama. Lifetime commitment. Honesty.

I could talk your ear off, but you probably need that ear for the next album. I appreciate the time you put into this and know our readers will as well.

I’ve always got an ear for DeathMetal.org. Thank you, Brett and your readers, for the support. Come walk the Extrinsic Pathway with us… Hail Metal, hail Death!

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Suffocation release European tour dates

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Explosive death metal band turned modern metal experimenters Suffocation take to the stages of Europe again this summer, playing the following dates:

  • 13th May 2013: London (UK) @ O2 Academy Islington
  • 14th May 2013: Brighton (UK) @ Audio
  • 15th May 2013: Manchester (UK) @ NQ Live
  • 16th May 2013: Dublin (IRE) @ The Pint
  • 17th May 2013: Glasgow (UK) @ Classic Grand
  • 18th May 2013: Plymouth (UK) @ White Rabbit
  • 19th May 2013: Nantes (FRA) @ Ferrailleur
  • 20th May 2013: Paris (FRA) @ Glazart
  • 21st May 2013: Rotterdam (NET) @ Baroeg
  • 22nd May 2013: Copenhagen (DEN) @ Pumpehuset
  • 26th May 2013: Helsinki (FIN) @ Nosturi
  • 29th May 2013: Berlin (GER) @ Lido
  • 30th May 2013: Krakow (POL) @ Kwadrat
  • 1st June 2013: Leipzig (GER) @ Conne Island
  • 3rd June 2013: Vienna (AUT) @ Viper Room
  • 4th June 2013: Ljubljana (SLO) @ Gala Hala
  • 5th June 2013: Bologna (ITA) @ Freakout
  • 6th June 2013: Rome (ITA) @ Traffic Live
  • 7th June 2013: Aarau (CH) @ Kiff
  • 8th June 2013: Munich (GER) @ Backstage
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Interview with Birth AD

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Whenever society gets too complacent and considers itself to be a success, Birth AD pops up out of a nearby container and reminds it that civilization is failing, most people are idiots and we’re probably all doomed. The difference is that Birth AD is funny and has good music, while just about anyone else criticizing society is a bore.

Coming to us from Austin, TX, Birth AD is a continuation of the crossover movement called thrash from back in the 1980s; if you remember how everyone and their brother wore a DRI shirt when they went to the skate park, you remember this movement. It was a cross between hardcore songs and metal riffs, and the result was unique and spoke clearly to the fears of the age.

While there have always been retro-bands looking back toward this style, Birth AD took up the style while looking forward, and have carried it into a new dimension of what it always could become. We’re very fortunate to have Jeff AD to speak with today.

What were your influences in formulating your style, and how did you update it without having it be assimilated by newer forms of music?

There aren’t any new entries that motivated me, it was all the classics. SOD, DRI, Dr. Know, Fearless Iranians From Hell, Cro-Mags, Nuclear Assault, and other usual suspects were touchstones. I willfully refused to let my material reflect any late-model sounds. Why would I? I was there when the sound was at its peak (admittedly I wasn’t even a teenager yet, but it still counts).

I felt like a lot of bands from that period had one really crucial album and then fizzled or stumbled. Bands like SOD and the Cro-Mags were effectively lightning in a bottle in that they each made one massively influential album and then fell apart. There was so much potential, so much more to be said, and I wanted to create something that was a direct continuation of those great releases, free from the adulterants of current conventions. Crossover is a very specific hybrid, and a band simply cannot invoke the term without cultivating a handful of necessary elements.

You’re about to launch your first full-length album, I Blame You, on Dark Descent sub-label Unspeakable Axe records. Can you tell us what’s going to be on the album?

We pulled a Dealin’ With It and re-recorded the entire EP, along with several new songs. Alex Perialas helmed the recording at his world-famous (and gold record laden) studio, Pyramid Sound in Ithaca, New York. We recorded in January 2012, so it has sat in stasis for a bit while we figured out where to put it. Part of this was because I wanted to work with Alex without exception, and January was the time he had available. It’s a good thing we did it when we did, as he subsequently got into a property battle with the city and the whole endeavor would have been shot to hell.

What do you think makes a great crossover thrash album or song?

It has to be memorable and catchy while communicating a coherent idea. DRI was my primary model because they were always good at writing clever lyrics that sent clear and pointed messages. It also helps to be succinct. If you make it past the four-minute mark, you’re doing it wrong.

Why do you think there’s so much interest now in older styles of metal?

It’s natural to look back on 40 years of metal and its variants and wanting to explore it all, especially if you were too young to take part the first time around. In a way, this phenomenon benefits Birth AD quite well, because we’re a new band with an old sound that younger fans can claim as their own. Outside of that, pretty much everything good in the genre has effectively been done, so it’s hard to re-invent the wheel. I don’t blame anyone for wanting to stick with the known quantities to ensure their money is well spent.

When are you guys going to finally dig up Cryptic Slaughter and Fearless Iranians From Hell, and do a tour with them and DRI?

We’ve played with DRI before, which was a massively good time. As for Fearless and Cryptic, I’ll get back to you on that once I get the time machine operational. Can you imagine what it would be like if hessians harnessed time travel? “We’ve got a Celtic Frost concert in 1986 to see, we’ll kill Hitler later!”

Why do you think “crossover” thrash arose when it did?

I think it was because so many metal band and hardcore bands liked each other’s stuff and it became imperative for a middle ground to be created. SOD was effectively a one-off tribute to bands like Dr. Know and Agnostic Front, but they ended up sparking a whole new phenomenon because their musicianship was so elevated and the production was so good. In any event, it needed to happen, but after that most bands involved went fully into the metal end of things and lost the punk and hardcore elements that made it qualify as crossover. Birth AD was created in the name of preserving that rarefied sound without the inevitable departures made by our forebears.

How influential do you think “crossover” thrash was on genres like death metal and black metal?

That’s a revealing question in that I don’t think it had much impact at all. Death metal bands were more influenced by proper speed metal like Slayer and Dark Angel, while Black Metal was influenced by the European groups like Celtic Frost, Venom, Bathory, et al. Those bands deal in fantasy and the abstract, while thrash is steeped in the rigors of daily life. Crossover is something of a specialized entry, much like a cheetah in that it really gets the job done in one very specific way.

What’s next for Birth AD?

I’m going to be a grandstanding pain in the ass about this album and see where it takes us. I want to tour and spread the word. I think the time is right. In the meantime, I’ll be causing problems and beating up on hipsters as usual. I urge everyone to do the same.

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Remains – …Of Death

remains-of_deathOld school death metal requires technique, content and discipline to rise above the norm. Technique itself makes the music “sound” like old school, but without content, it rarely holds together.

The hardest part however is the self-discipline to edit the material until all the riffs work together, like an internal conversation within each song, so that the songs are both memorable and have enough labyrinthine changes to be interesting.

Mexico’s Remains create music in the old school death metal style straight out of 1992 when bands were first exploring adding more complexity without adding needless technicality; this release is musically competent, played tightly and without glitching in its conception, but it also stays away from throwing technique into the mix where there’s not something being said by the songwriting itself.

Using the school of heavy muted riff played against fast-picked open phrases that made bands as diverse as Therion and Monstrosity powerful, Remains pit detuned rhythm riffs against soaring melodies and from this clash create compelling songs. Sometimes the riffs get slightly bouncy but this is offset by a tendency toward a dark churn and mutation so that the song stays focused.

Over the length of this album, Remains visit a number of older metal styles including the melodic metal style of later Swedish death metal, but the majority of the material is old school death metal with basic riffing in complex arrangements designed to draw the listener into a morbid place and then make them enjoy it.

…Of Death is like reading an H.P. Lovecraft story where the characters are stuck in some terrible situation, and yet the reader wants to be there, to fight it out and survive along with them. In that sensation, this album demonstrates the power of old school death metal as an imaginative device, and presents one of the best examples of intelligent OSDM seen in recent years.


Free download offered by the band: Remains – …Of Death

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Interview with Bloodsoaked

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Starting as a one-man band back in 2006, Bloodsoaked released two more albums of fast but explosive death metal and now are planning to unleash their fourth album, Devouring Abomination. Much like the earlier albums, this is ripping Morbid Angel/Vader style material with a tendency to use choppy riffs to accent it.

While many death metal bands have pursued a tendency to cluster riffs and detours onto their music, Bloodsoaked is about driving home a point. Fast riffs pick up a theme, which then starts to be clipped and chopped as it rockets home to percussive conclusions. Riffs tend to be cyclic with variations, making each song easy to appreciate but hiding a few surprises in the wings.

Bloodsoaked is streaming their full albums on their Stereokiller website, but the wait for Devouring Abomination has just begun. The band will be on tour in Europe starting in April, but then will return to unleash their latest platter of eviscerating death metal.

We were fortunate to get an audience with Pete Hasselbrack from Bloodsoaked, who gave the following interview in the midst of planning for the upcoming assault known as Devouring Abomination.

You’ve got an upcoming album called Devouring Abomination. How do you think this album is different from your earlier work, The Death of Hope, Sadistic Deeds, and Brutally Butchered?

I would say the new music is similar as the last albums. I’ve gotten better as a song writer over the years and have a new guitarist (Joseph) that is also giving some new inspiration. Bloodsoaked always has and all ways will be pretty straight forward Death Metal with catchy choruses and the new album will be the same. The new album will only be an EP and it’ll be released along with a Bloodsoaked DVD as well with some live footage, interviews, studio, recording, song writing and more.

How did you produce this album, and how much time did you spend in the studio? Do you think production is important for death metal, especially the brutal death metal style?

The songs for the new album are still being worked on and finished so there is no studio time put into the new album as of yet. I have recorded some demo material, one of the demo songs we just released online called “Devouring.” It’s a rough demo version but thought it was good enough to share. Yes, production in Death Metal is just as important as any other style of music if not more. Trying to get everything in extreme music to sound cohesive can be tough sometimes so a killer mix/master really can help. Production in Death Metal keeps getting better and better all the time.

Bloodsoaked will be going on tour to support Devouring Abomination. What are your thoughts going into this tour?

Yeah, we are going on a ten-day tour of Germany, Netherlands and Poland in less than two weeks. We are very excited to be going back overseas, we were overseas this past November for ten days and we’re hoping to have another successful tour. We have 4 great support bands (SHORT FUSE, PSYCHIATRIC REGURGITATION, BLACK MASS and HATE STORM ANNIHILATION) going with us to make this a 100% USA band tour coming to Europe.

How would you describe your music to others? “Brutal Death Metal” doesn’t seem to describe the range of your music, which is also noticeably different from other brutal death metal bands. What made you decide to take this particular approach to creating death metal?

“Brutal” has some many meanings in Death Metal; I have always described Bloodsoaked as “100% pure Death Metal, nothing more, nothing less.” I grew up on the old school Death Metal when bands had choruses that people could sing along too so I am all about the catchy chorus in Bloodsoaked’s music. I try to write songs and not Death Metal music.

You’ve released a demo version of the song “Devouring.” How different do you think the album version will be? Is there often a big difference between your demo material and the album version?

The music itself is pretty close to the final version but the vocals will be much better on the final version. The vocals were recorded with my home studio equipment and not very well. The final version will be more polished and cleaned up a bit with a proper mix/master.

What do you think has changed in your outlook toward death metal, and how you create death metal, over the years?

Death Metal hasn’t changed to much in the past 20 years; while drummers might have gotten faster, the overall music is still the same as it should be. This is Death Metal and meant to be underground; it was never meant to be popular and I hope it never will be.

Who would you identify as the biggest innovators and founding acts of the brutal death metal style?

All the old school bands: Possessed, Death, Obituary, Carcass, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse, Pestilence, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation, Sepultura and so on.

Some people criticize lyrics about death, violence, war and carnage as being without purpose. What do you hope to communicate with your lyrics? How do you contrast that to what (for example) Carcass and Suffocation communicate?

Bloodsoaked lyrics has always been about killing, gore and anti-religion and always will be. Death Metal is extreme so extreme lyrics should go with it. Having lyrics about love or how beautiful the day is in a Death Metal song just wouldn’t fit; if people don’t like the lyrics go listen to something else.

What are your hopes for the future? In five years, where do you want Bloodsoaked to be, and what do you think your music will sound like?

I’m happy where Bloodsoaked is right now. I have accomplished more things than 99% of the Death Metal bands out there so if it was to all end now I would be ok with it. I’m not sure how much further I can take Bloodsoaked and still have a full time job. Five, ten or fifteen years from now Bloodsoaked’s music will still sound the same and that’s a good thing.

Bloodsoaked – Rotting in Europe 2013 Tour

  • April 5 – Görlitz (Ger) – Vierradenmühle
  • April 6 – Warsaw (Pl) – Klub Progresja
  • April 7 – Poznan (Pl) – Klub u Bazyla
  • April 8 – Amsterdam (Nl) – The Cave
  • April 9 – Winschoten (Nl) – Boelie’s Pub
  • April 10 – Arnhem (Nl) – Willemeen
  • April 11 – Hamburg (Ger) – Bambi Galore
  • April 12 – Freiberg (Ger) – Train Control
  • April 13 – Weißenfels (Ger) – Schlosskeller
  • April 14 – Cottbus (Ger) – La Casa

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David Parland 1970-2013

david_parlandAccording to Wikipedia and internet sages, David Parland (Necrophobic, Dark Funeral, Infernal) has died at the age of 42 on March 19, 2013.

Parland was a founding member of Swedish melodic death metal band Necrophobic whose album The Nocturnal Silence proved that death metal could be both musically erudite and intense, and opened the doors to many others who wanted to make elegant music in a time when most wanted chromatic brutality.

From Necrophobic, Parland went on to start Dark Funeral and make a melodic and essentialist version of black metal that later worked more occult heavy metal into the mix. After that, he joined Infernal and developed their unique style of intensely violent music.

With the passing of Mr. Parland, death metal loses a talented musician and someone whose forward momentum launched more vital projects than most can dream of. It is hope that his legacy will not be forgotten.

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Integrity – Those Who Fear Tomorrow

integrity-those_who_fear_tomorrowIn the early 1980s, punks had a wary attitude toward metal because they saw it as commercializing their music. As I finally get around to hearing Integrity’s Those Who Fear Tomorrow, I see their point, although it’s not an important one.

Merging punk and metal, Integrity add faster riffing and more complex song structures, as well as lead guitar noodling and a vocal attack that sounds like it is designed to be a more extreme version of the “Age of Quarrel” vocals from the Cro-Mags. It ends up sounding like something Phillip Anselmo could have used as his blueprint for his vocals with Pantera, in that it adds more of the confrontational shouted and chanted vocals and de-emphasizes anything like singing.

Staccato riffing with the choppy-edged sound of muted strum down-picking in the style of speed metal rounds out the package. Integrity likes to add broad spaces in their songs, such they hit with a riff and vocal attack, then pull back vocals and downplay instrumentation so there’s a pocket that draws in our attention. It is catchy but its repeated use lessens its effectiveness.

While there is probably nothing to be feared from commercialization here, as it makes for songs with more hook and polish, it is also in a genre different from punk and metal. These songs mostly follow pop song format, are mostly hook, and lose the total alienation of punk and the transcendental imagination of metal. For a hard rock or pop punk listen however, it’s a channel of rage that many will find appealing.

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Interview with Imprecation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Von – Dark Gods: Seven Billion Slaves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Civilization accepts death metal

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

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

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

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

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

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