Demilich and Averse Sefira in Texas

Demilich, Averse Sefira, Biolich, Abythos, Sothis, To Scale the Throne and Spliteye
June 3-4, 2006
The Backroom, Austin, Texas
Walter’s on Washington, Houston, Texas

To love something is to love the world enough to believe in love, and to sacrifice all future delights which could prove an obstacle to the beloved. Underground metal — or rather the artistic music within that genre which seeks to expand knowledge and experience instead of pleasing the Crowd with novel interpretations of what they already know — is a work of love. The Demilich/Averse Sefira shows in Texas were such a heroic undertaking.

With minimal funds for promotion, and a style that can both be recognized as technical yet does not fit into the “technical” vibe of jazzy death/prog rock, both bands undertook a journey of reconstructing an underground where the label underground has come to mean something as typecast and invariant as mainstream pop music. Because most people in metal are already invested in this predictable cycle of purchase impulse and reward, many of those already in the “underground” not only ignored but actively opposed this attempt to resurrect the better values of black and death metal’s vital years.

AUSTIN

Spliteye took the stage early and, entirely professionally, banged out their blend of old school death metal and nu-metal hitch beats to a few stalwarts. They were followed by Texas black metal band Abythos, who made wholly derivative sound that was musically competent but expressed nothing but the desire to be in a band, and California act Sothis, who fused Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth in a rock style. Sothis brought a trailer of equipment including extra amplifiers, three keyboards, guitar processors, and the like, which naturally blew the power system and shortened their set to three songs. After them came New York avant-grind band Biolich, who apparently began life as a Demilich cover band but now creates songs that hybridize Napalm Death, Neurosis, Godflesh and indie/avantgarde rock.

After a prolonged and somewhat futile sound check (the Backroom is built on an ancient Indian burial ground whose time/space distortion renders any sound system incomprehensible), Averse Sefira smashed out a set of five songs from Tetragrammatical Astygmata and three from their first two albums. Facing a tough re-integration for their first show of the Texas mini-tour, the band became cohesive on the third song but played a looser, noisier set that was reminiscent of early Voivod covering Immortal. Averse Sefira played nearly nonstop, the stage rattling with the pulse of their drummer’s battery, and provoked an excited crowd response. The looser rhythms gave the band a chance to work its stage presence, pushing the warriors in full regalia (spikes, leather, bullet belts, corpsepaint) nearly into the crowd. Among those who could understand compound sentences response was favorable.

Local luminaries from Masochism, Cthonian Appanage, Acerbus and Vex appeared during the Averse Sefira set, as did promoters from Extreme Texas Metal and Morbid Thoughts Records. There was a biker conference in town so several of these showed up determined to demonstrate that bikers are just as stupid as the rest of the population and thus worthy of assimilation into mainstream culture. Members of the crowd who were fond of one or another of the opening bands, adhering to the cognitive dissonance that supposes that bigger bands oppress smaller bands and that is the only reason smaller bands are openers and not headliners, stood back with disgruntled faces and drank $4 beers. No one noticed the whining, and by the time most observed the above, Demilich were doing their sound check and taking the stage.

Two things are immediately observable from Demilich live: the integral synchronization of five musicians through difficult material, and the sleepy-eyed offhandedly casual presence of frontman Antti Boman, who burped and gurgled like a demonic frog throughout the performance. Although Boman unites the action, the martial presence that leads it is the industrial/jazz hybrid drumming of Mikko Virnes. Although original bassist Ville Koistinen was absent, the low-end complement of Corpse (his day job is in Deathchain) thrust the music forward with the pulsing, visually dramatic attack found in bands like Motorhead or Suffocation, which enhanced the abstract tendencies of this music with an earthy, sensual grounding. It drove forward like metal, cycled in on its harmonies like jazz, and migrated between ideas like classical. This aspect of the music of Demilich suggests not only the potential seen by original death metal musicians, but calls to mind a time when most death metal bands were distinctive not because they sought a way to “be different” but because each had its own concept of reality and had crafted a musical style to express it. At the end of the set, diehard Demilich fans were satiatedly exhausted and the Crowd at the bar remained baffled and unsure of socially approved response. Thumbs up from this reviewer.

HOUSTON

The nation’s fourth-largest city is known for its Los Angeles-style layout, having grown entirely after the advent of the personal car and the warehouse-style suburbs that boxily fringe the rotted core of unskilled labor that is the inner city. Consequently, any event requires travel, and to unite Hessians from the city wide requires good publicity, yet there’s no agency for such things. With the demise of the independent record store thanks to a shrinking profit margin and rising Internet file-sharing, there are few places to post fliers where metalheads will see them, and the magazine Rivethead is no longer in print so there’s no news source. Our L.A. Weekly-themed paper, the Houston Press, is expensive advertising for underground shows. And local bands? William Burroughs noted that “itinerant short con and carny hipsters have burned down the croakers of Texas,” and it’s not much different in metal: our scenes are cannibalistic. Each band self-promotes so aggressively that its only sense of community is as a means to that end, and thus plenty of lip service to “scene unity” occurs but no one takes the simple step of supporting only bands of quality. It’s either all or nothing. Because of this intense Balkanization of fans, each local band has its cadre of people who can be conned into coming to the show and for this reason each metal show in Houston has more bands than a compilation and the same 83 grubby people attend. The venue treated this performance like a local show, called the usual people, opened the bar and left it at that, so attendance was poor. To their credit, both headlining bands performed as if they were at Carnegie Hall and ignored the fact that this giant city produced only a few attendees.

The lineup was much the same as in Austin except with the addition of To Scale the Throne, a local band who throw in pieces of Emperor, Satyricon, Grand Belial’s Key and Cradle of Filth but play music that fits the patterns of punk hardcore: verse, chorus, breakdown, reprise. It wasn’t good; it wasn’t bad: it wasn’t important. This reviewer caught Biolich in Houston. Their performance was professional. The music can be described as modern hardcore with infusions of indie rock, early grindcore and drone. Two major factors influence appreciation of this performance. First, one cannot take a technique-oriented approach to producing art, because art is a communication between artist and audience in a way that is both entertaining and profound; the artist must have something to say, and use technique to that end, because making art on the basis of technique alone produces a uniform texture of affect on the audience. Next, one must realize that when emo and hardcore merged, they created a style of music based on skipping the path to a destination for cyclic demonstration of that destination’s importance, resulting in music without suspense or adventure. Ultimately, it drifted into “safe” territory both ideologically and musically, and reduced its own importance. With this in mind, it is clear that while Biolich are musically adept and have pushed many boundaries of technique, their songs remain unconvincing. The suspended rhythmic hook of progressive hardcore rapidly starts to resemble the bounce of nu-metal, and the jumble of styles creates a neurosis of inspecific contextual framing. Elements of this music were quite good, including the crisp but jubilant drumming and experimentation beyond obvious harmonics extending to Godflesh-like implied melodies via drone. If this reviewer had any advice, it’s this: stop trying to shock or stimulate, chuck all the grindcore parts, and finish the songs you started on the indie parts, because that is where this music really shines. As it was presented, the music seemed promising but insubstantial although the professionalism of band and stage show were appreciated.

Since the venue was in a Beirut-style urban meltdown area of Houston and the audience paltry, this show felt entirely like an underground chamber music event during the Inquisition. A city oblivious went on watching overtime repeat “Friends” episodes and buying furniture at Ikea while an exceptional and artistic performance graced its sonic topography and one of the most amazing metal performances to ever grace the city tore apart the night. Averse Sefira took to the stage first without pretense and lanced ears with a fast, accurate and yet impassioned version of their setlist from the previous night, with the addition of “Detonation” in the middle. Touches of improvisation in vocals and stringed instruments created an organic specificity to the music which belonged to that night alone, and the energy level remained high as the music moved between different moods. What distinguishes this band is their willingness to write passionate melodies and put them in songs that uphold all of the savagery and feral wisdom of heavy metal, and this came through in a mesmerizing forty-five minutes of complex but intuition-friendly music. Those who were present exchanged glances as if to say “How did we get this lucky?” and several longtime observers commented on how effective this band is in a smaller setting. If you missed it, punch yourself in the face.

Demilich assembled onstage and, exchanging a glance, launched into their set like a machine firing in the mist and frost of a neglected morning. Utilizing three guitarists, their brand of technical death metal relies on complement more than a continued layer technique, with each instrument presenting a different view of the whole and then achieving synchronization over the course of songs. Stringed voices peel off and converge, then take on parts of the whole much as earth and sky are required for a horizon. One guitarist, sds, plays chords underlying the melodic lead riffing which is exchanged between two lead rhythm guitars harmonizing while Boman’s belching underscores the rigid yet engaging percussion. The setlist was the same except for a new song (title unknown) which veered between peaks and valleys of tone with sweetened acid melodic differential between riffs, producing an aura of instability yet deliberation. The lead rhythm guitar of Aki Hytönen was as exactingly precise as it was freespirited, and often melted off into solos both chaotic and commenting on the sonic landscape beneath. Like evolution viewed through geographic time, the band fell off and reunited with a depth of harmony that caused the entire club to resonate with the distinctive symbolism of geometry. A drained audience filtered into humid darkness after a set demanding of both listener and band; it was probably the most technically impressive performance of mainstream music this reviewer has seen (jazz itself, while requiring one basic skill, does so at the expense of reasoned composition, and soon approximates a mean without dramatic fluctuation in intensity). Did you miss it? Punch self in face.

Luminaries from abroad and local dotted the crowd: Cynicalkontinual, Keltic Myth, g0sp-hell, Gestalt, Lyle from Brooklyn and one guy from Hellwitch who demonstrated the importance of having a video camera where Children of Bodom is concerned. There was a sense of privilege and fortunate accident for all who witnessed this unique performance, and an unsettling feeling that perhaps Houston has some inner fracture which prevents its metalheads from recognizing the musical (but not “scene points”) importance of such a gathering.

OBSERVATIONS

As metal is a hybrid, made half of ancient belief and filled in with modern popular art, its artists are suspended between getting the attention of “the community” and expressing something of that which is eternally metal, namely the worship of raw power and realism in a human world of sentiment which avoids it. Most of its artists convert this into a sterile emotion which like the receptacle tip of a condomn catches anger and neutralizes it, but the best escape this mould. However, repetition does not enhance a genre but makes it prone to erosion, since repeated structures fall in a row when the same force is applied to them. Ask all the hardcore punk fans who, after “equalizing” the genre into a participation-fest, were stunned when it evaporated overnight because no one could any longer tell the difference between bands. “The community” is its own worst enemy, and far from being manipulated by a twisted controller, it is driven by the desires of individuals who, when enough join in, drown out any clear voices with the distorted murmur of a mass.

Thus for those who seek quality music, it is more important to assess the music itself than to care about the most popular pundits, because these people are walking brainstems who repeat in “unique” ways what others have said and quickly run the genre into uniformity. This form of informational entropy seems important when it’s new, and is hard to distinguish because the bands in question will probably be able to play their instruments just fine, but have nothing to say. The musics that exemplify the opposite tendency, which is for the few realistic and yet imaginative artists to create works which will be praised years on by listeners baffled as to why more people did not “get it,” are ignored — for now. Yet we are all familiar with the old refrain that it was better back in the formative years, and all of the bands now lack something the founding bands did not. They are more distinctive in using different instruments, mixing in different styles, or having “unique” appearances, and they’re musically far more competent, but there’s a question as to what the music means. Interestingly, this blight is shared across literature and music and visual art at this time, suggesting that a combination of populist “entertainment” and a lack of comprehension of meaning itself among artists, has obliterated not only quality but the valuable tenet of having something to express in art among these contemporaries. Self-importance of the artist, and preaching to the converted through “safe” ideologies, has produced music that repeats its own premises instead of discovering not new but experience-laden ground; these songs and stories tell us nothing other than to sit quietly and imbibe the cliches and commonly-held truths of a culture that, lacking an integral component, derives its knowledge from paid entertainment that appeals to the broadest possible group. Could it be a sign of the decline?

It is no surprise then that it is neutral art, whether we call it bourgeois or suburban or plebeian, because we learn nothing from it except a unique combination of aesthetic values. Paintings do not touch our souls, but they match our towels and perhaps are calibrated according to the paint colors for sale at our local malls. Music is background to television watching or work, and cannot be unsettling or educational or evocative or provocative, no matter how many obscene or blasphemous elements it uses. How many of those kids chanting “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” along with Rage Against the Machine actually did anything about it? It’s false art, propaganda and degenerates rapidly. Art like the actual underground nurtures what is true and denigrates the false through a representation of experience and wisdom, and never comes full circle to its premise like postmodern art. It takes one through a wandering route to a new place that is also familiar with the old, with its origin… we can only praise those who are slowly but embitteredly learning that there are no new truths, only new statements of eternal truths, and that our entire detour into “progress” in music has been on the surface/aesthetic level and has resulted in empty, pointless, interchangeable “art.”

Bands:
Demilich
Averse Sefira

Promoters:
Morbid Thoughts
Extreme Texas Metal

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Averse Sefira, Images of Violence, Devourment, Pleasant Valley, Insidious Decrepancy, Hatchetwork and Scattered Remains in Austin, Texas

Averse Sefira, Images of Violence, Devourment, Pleasant Valley, Insidious Decrepancy, Hatchetwork and Scattered Remains
March 11, 2006
Redrum, 401 Sabine Street
Austin, Texas

The Texas metal underground has historically been a divisive place: too many bands wanting to be number one and not helping others, so that there are infinite favorites but no greats. With the return of Averse Sefira to Texas after a long absence, a resurgence in confidence is seen in Texas metal. Not only has collaboration come to visit, but the community seems hungry for a few talented acts to represent a scene that was once overburdened with also-rans. This change in attitude is fortunate, because at this show not only did long-running Texas black metal legends Averse Sefira showcase a resilient and enduring sound, but also local death metal upstarts Images of Violence demonstrated the power and synchronicity of their new lineup.

After opening sets by Hatchetwork and Scattered Remains, one-man death metal machine Insidious Decrepancy banged out a set accompanied by drum machine. His music knows two modes of thought: first, a thunderous chromatic rhythmicism reminiscent of the elements of Morpheus Descends that inspired NYDM legends Suffocation, and second a fastpicked scattering of notes with minor key melodic implications in the style of technical death metal bands like Necrophagist or Martyr. The music is easy to listen to and gratifying in its old school attitude, yet seems to make no clear or forceful statement, even if in form – including vocals, guitar and the nonintrusive drum machine – it is highly polished. After this came Pleasant Valley, who craft a style of death metal that varies its consistency-heavy riffs with breaks and interludes that seem inspired by “found sounds” music in their attempt to mimic daily life. It was hard to figure where this band was going with their music or what was the desired content of articulation, but they were faithfully attended by a small crowd.

Images of Violence took the stage next. Fronted by local tattoo legend Jonzig and supported by former Acerbus battery expert Larry “The Professor” Jackson, this band have come together from the primitive death metal of their origins. Riffs flow smoothly together and those of little impact, the space-holding chorded disorder that many death metal bands use to connect disparate statements, have been dropped entirely. With new guitarist Dauber filling riffs with varied texture, including strumming speeds that would be oppositional to the motion of riff except for the high degree of internal counterpoint to the riff permitting parallax motion, Images of Violence have become more ambitious in addition to closing gaps in the conceptualization and execution of songs. They sound like an updated version of Montrosity that thanks to Larry’s percussion is able to stack rhythmic breakdowns in a constructive manner; other influences would be a smattering of Suffocation in the corrugated internals of riffs that are on the surface basic patterns that by virtue of simplicity and boldness demand attention, and a sense of progressive melody in guitar fills, perhaps Pestilence or Gorguts. The essence of this music is an old school roar like Obituary or Malevolent Creation, but bleeding from within is a desire for a voice that speaks all languages in the experience of death metal, and the result is an articulate band that sacrifices none of the pleasures or impact of the germinal form of death metal.

In the short break that followed, most of the attendees of this show coalesced back onto the floor, watching the stage. Averse Sefira is not a band that permits fence-sitting; people tend to follow them religiously or despise them with ornery ecclesiastical passion, but tonight there was a sense of appreciation for these musicians who braved public disapproval of black metal in the early days and in its later days, endured being lost in the masses of nearly identical bands who like spawning salmon recorded demos and, stranded up a stream they could not navigate, died. Averse Sefira outlasted them all and recently released a triumphant third album that capitalizes on their technical skill and spirited, occult vision of metal as an art form (and not simply entertainment, like a video game or sitcom). The club darkened suddenly after a cursory soundcheck. Concentration broadcast from three sets of eyes, and an introduction composed of opposites, the sonorous and the abrasively rhythmic, the ancient and the modern, the smooth and the dispersed, filled the room. It was followed by a sudden attack. Being a three-piece, this band requires each member to fill sonic territory like an occupying chieftain, and after two songs and an improvised speech on the heroic values potentially accessible to the Texas scene, the band tore into the rest of their set like a marathon runner escaping sodomitic jailers. The highly specialized application of guitar and bass came together, and arch-drum veteran The Carcass (also of Death of Millions and Show Me on the Doll) held back his legendary energy in order to fit into the contours of each song. Guitarist Sanguine A. Nocturne channeled the spirit of deceased Voivod guitarist Denis d’Amour by wrestling with lushy discordant noise and messy squealing harmony, but he used this mess surgically by applying it in counterpoint to his more emphatic playing, which smoothly synchronized to the rigid rhythmic structures supporting it. The result was an impressive hybrid of Immortal‘s triumphant romanticism and the lost wanderings in violent wastelands portrayed by Morbid Angel, with influences from throughout metal’s developing lineage. The collected experience of these band members, including for nearly a decade of death metal and radio presentation before Averse Sefira, gave them the confidence to pull off a performance that did not just “nail it” but was able to flex some muscles in the process and give depth to this experience. None of this was lost on the Averse Sefira diehards in the crowd, who lost it somewhere during the first song and probably did not regain mental stability until late the next day.

The crowd was respectful of this act who have bravely and steadfastly worked their way up the black metal food chain without compromising their ideals for anyone, or backing down from their high ideals of what makes excellent, enduring art. Interestingly, the audience of this show were mostly older, a fact given context by the emo-core and ambient alternative stoner grunge zydeco blaring from nearby clubs like Emo’s and The Velveeta Room: the horde of clueless kids who will find something to champion for their years between 18 and twenty-five have moved on, finding black metal to be less pleasurable than the next trend. These people bloated black metal in a situation reminiscent of microcosmic imitation of human behavior; they discover a good thing, and finding that people want it and people wanting it mean power, distill it into a basic but accessible experience and then flood it with wanton, careless, selfish people, at which point it collapses into a polluted ruin. Such behavior was more common five years ago but now has mostly run its course, since the imitators brought in so many bands that they diluted quality down to the level of mainstream radio rock, at which point most people who could pass the GED were heading away from black metal as a genre. Although this situation is still rampant, wiser heads have prevailed, and the ranks have thinned alongside the hairlines as the black metal generation has grown up and maintained the faith while the trendfollowers have scattered like their own vapid thoughts. Those who attended this show saw how this historical process affects bands through the newfound diligence of the crowd and the way that the few drunken failures who did turn up were rebuffed, quietly, as one might purposefully ignore a homeless person at a eugenics conference. Respect was given where deserved more than before, and this bodes well for the Texas scene not only recovering from black metal’s latefound popularity but getting over its carny hipsterism that caused problems for bands in the 1980s, as anyone who remembers dead horse deconstructing can attest.

Devourment played last with a style of disconnected technical metal that is both intriguing and completely visible as the bare bones of a simple animal: no matter how intricate some of the riffs will get, these songs like those of chug-metal veterans Skinless plod along with the aim of gratifying a primitive groove instead of shocking us through transition and layering as all the great bands in the style did. Although one of their guitarists came from legends Imprecation, it’s doubtful that this band will be anywhere near that important.

For some this was a first introduction to the Redrum club, which is a nice enough place built like conventional Austin housing on a raised platform over a winding polluted stream ridden with trash. Its airconditioning was insufficient, its bar lavish, its sounds system not just competent but endowed with a sound engineer who was dedicated to finding a representative sound for each band and watching over them during the show. The setup was more professional than past metal shows, and while it didn’t change the agenda of the bands onstage, it did make it easier to witness. It is no wonder that more Austin shows are going to Redrum than other venues. Thanks to the labor of several different entities, the entire show fit well into this kind of casual professionalism, and endowed the fans of these older but increasingly valid styles with a varied and yet consistently powerful concert experience.

Bands:
Devourment
Images of Violence
Pleasant Valley
Insidious Decrepancy
Averse Sefira

Promoters:
Redrum Club
Extreme Texas Metal

Media:
Averse Sefira video Live in Quebec (WMV) 

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Interview: Cory Allen (Acerbus)

Acerbus have for some time been the enigma of the Texas scene: music that takes the furthest extension of death metal extremity known to humanity, the technical deathgrind genre, and expands it with a progressive and conceptually advanced edge that leaves most typical listeners of any genre standing open-mouthed. Well-versed in conventional music, Acerbus are exploring for new ground, and we were lucky to be able to talk to guitarist Cory during a break from his rocket science experiments. “Can the man behind the mask answer a few questions?”

What do you see as the distinction between art and entertainment, if one exists?

I definitely think a dichotomy between art and entertainment exists. I believe that art is a mental expression through your physical self, releasing any number of emotions, creative ideas, or in some cases rather scientific musical ideologies based on charted biological responsive “information.” I believe that entertainment is more based around the ever-popular biological survival ticket, or the dollar. Entertainment is something that 47-year-old men sit around in boardrooms concocting trying to blend the perfect ideas to entertain the masses and rake in an easy 1.5 billion in 2 weeks. You know, prime time television shows, game shows, reality shows, family movies, blockbusters, etcetera.

Do you believe art begins as a conception independent of its medium, or is it strictly configurations within the medium that inspire an aesthetic appreciation?

I believe that this varies from individual artist to individual artist. Speaking personally it’s a mixture of the two. Without a doubt it’s more of an inspired aesthetic appreciation and vision yet independent conceptualism does play its roll in some of my song writing. As in extremely awkward things that related none what so ever, not even related percussivly to music induces a spawning of musical ideas.

Do you think it’s possible that a band make significant art with only a handful of power chords?

It all depends on your definition of “art”. It’s like a space-time continuum paradox similar to Schrodinger’s Cat or Einstein’s mouse. I mean, the most beautiful and amazing piece of art to me could be garbage to you, so it’s possible or impossible depending on your perception of what art is. Short answer Yes with a capital N and long answer No with a capital Y.

Are emotions part of the logical process of the mind in your opinion, or are they of the mind?

I think that emotions are stuck somewhere in our time-evolved mammalian primitive minds. They are thoughts that cause nothing more that problems and weakness yet they are necessary so that the human DNA strand will survive and not kill itself off. It was VERY smart and sneaky of our DNA strands to slip that anti self-destruct mechanism into our biological programming.

Are you a materialist (no other words besides this one) or do you have any forms of transcendent mystical belief?

In no way am I a materialist. I do have what I believe is a very open minded transcendent belief. A belief really consisting nothing more that knowing that there are an infinite amount of possibilities and a complete void of fact behind any of them. Even if there were “facts” remember what a very smart man once said, “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Marijuana seems to be a divine substance to many. So you think this is an accident of nature, something we’ve conditioned ourselves to find, or an accidental property of the substance – or another possibility?

I was actually discussing this yesterday. Once again, there are millions of scenarios containing endless amounts of speculation within each but I will tell you about an interesting theory that I had on the subject. Say the earth is a living organism. Thriving physically and possessing an extremely advanced consciousness that of which is beyond our imaginations or comprehension, i.e., growing wood on its surface for its experiment “humans” to use to build devices to help them live easier therefore longer. It distanced itself the seemingly PERFECT distance from the sun so with its what we see as annual rotation calculated its experiment could live comfortably under the climate conditions. Basically, the miracle plant is just another thing that the earth has grown for us as it watched its experiment get more and more hostile toward one another and boxed into ridiculously small reality tunnels. The growing of the plant by the earth provides its experiment with calmness, happiness, heightened physical pleasure and expanded thinking modulation to help shatter some of those miniscule sized reality tunnels that the humans that are too scared of their own existence want you to reside in forever. But hey, it actually doesn’t sound that far from the truth does it? (You know you read too much philosophy when you answer a question with a question! HA!)

What would your ideal lifestyles be, if you were exempted from the problems of resource scarcity?

I would begin by eliminating 90% of the population, which would be a huge step in the right direction of an ideal lifestyle. Other than that, all I would really yearn for is to be alone in a huge building consisting of a giant music and book library, a state of the art professional studio and a musical instrument library consisting of every instrument in existence. I suppose a gigantic INSIDE pool heated to 98 degrees would be in order as well. I love water. Looking at it, being in it (when it’s clean), drinking it, and thinking about it. It’s pretty amazing to me. It’s the mystery substance!

Do you think some bands are better at aesthetics than music, and should be lauded for opening doors that musically competent descendants will explore? (Think: Venom)

My answer to that question is a rather repugnant one in that I do not approve of artists that rely strictly on aesthetics because 9 times out of 10 that reeks of gimmick. Yet as you noted bands of that illustration have opened doors for artists who have created relevant and meaningful art. Therefore, I think that the grandfather artist (ones of aesthetic dependence) should not be glorified simply due to the fact that their gimmicky “act” unbeknownst to them happened to influence an artist of substance to create something momentous.

What do you see as the ideological, musical and social roots of the death metal movement?

I think that bands such as Deicide, Suffocation, Carcass, Morbid Angel (barf), and Napalm Death fundamentally established the foundation of the death metal movement. Actually, I think almost every new band’s ideologies and “social” roots (not something I enjoy at all in the death metal world) are still somehow based and JUDGED (its VERY harsh these days) on what thoughts the revolutionaries first had. It’s as if these bands created a steel mold for the rules of the genre and all that really happens even after 10 years of existence is bands just filling that mold and ever so slightly expanding on it. That’s definitely something I try to focus on during song writing, to try something new for the genre, and by new I don’t necessarily mean undistorted jazzy fills and adagiated bridges but just in a compositional manner or how the over all conception of the endless possibilities of an instrument are conceived. I think that some people that have yet to get up and peek out of the top of that mold that they’ve been sitting in the bottom of for the last few years will be jaded by this but I think the genre will dry up, get old and fizzle out if some people don’t start having an open mind about the genre’s amazing possibilities and its future and if someone doesn’t have the gallantry to take a chance on expanding the genres limits. You know you can only eat your favorite food everyday for lunch for so many years before it become bland and uninteresting. Music needs spicing up ever so often just like food.

In your opinion, what are the primary musical differences in form between black metal and death metal?

First, touching lightly on the more prominent definitions of the metal genre, and what I would look at as somewhat stating the obvious to any competent individual, I think that DM’s energy is generally fueled more by gore and technicality and BM’s energy is usually fueled more by rage (as blind and unguided as it may be sometimes). The vocal style usually sticks out like a sore thumb as DM vocals prefer the guttural growls or pig noises and BM vocals usual prescribe to the high screechy or I just slammed my genitals in a sliding glass door vocal style. BM guitars are generally consisted of standard tunings, which goes along with the high screechy vocals, where DM bands enjoy the tuned down sound (which in my opinion has become rather ridiculous these days. ACERBUS tunes to CFA#D#GC which is two full steps down on each string and that isn’t really considered that low in comparison to some bands in modern times), once again the deep guitars are coinciding with the vocal style.

Now to get slightly more in depth with my segregation descriptions, I will try to expand more. The musical stylings that I hear in BM songs are primarily composed of mutated minor chords. Quite often I find BM bands utilizing natural minor chords, which lacks a major seventh. While “eerie” or “whiney” sounding it provides no real power or emphasis to the root note of the chord. Harmonic and Melodic minor chords are intermingled with the natural minors to provide power and still retain a “dark” sound. These Harmonic and Melodic minor chords are used to strengthen the minor keys, there for giving way for some dark powerful sounding riffing. As far as an individual riffing style I think audibly there is an obvious sound that is generally more “open” and “breathing” even a somewhat dissonant and definitely more disharmonious sound with a tendency to move in shapes and patterns based on a full note chord to a two and a half step dropped minor chord reverting to the previous full chord with a slight half step rise minor alteration then reverting back to a lower minor chord plus and uncontrolled arpeggiation to follow with implied and increased attack to end and finally execute one performance of a riff. As far as a BM orchestration goes, I think BM focuses more on long-winded repetitious movements using the vocal pattern as lead point of which to follow and adhere to, almost defined as a somewhat deranged classical definition of the term symphony.

I think that the majority of death metal band’s riffing focuses on using diatonic chords intermingled with modulated minor pentatonic single notes tremolo picked scales to provide a constantly powerful, even, and bludgeoning barrage of whole note patterns and movements. Unlike BM, DM bands are not partial to letting songs “breath” or become “dissonant”. DM bands are usual very heavily infatuated with a song structure that has no musical “holes”, or a lack of sonic intensity at anytime in anyway. Unfortunately, I think during composition a lot of DM bands lose sight of the meaning behind the word orchestration. Ive noticed that a lot of DM bands just seem like the write 50 riffs, put them into a hat and randomly pull them out in no order yet string them all together using drums fills.

Today there are plenty of modest and worthy laboreres among scholars, too, who are happy in their little nooks; and because they are happy there, they sometimes demand rather immodestly that one ought to be content with things today, generally — especially in the domain of science, where so much that is useful remains to be done. I am not denying that; the last thing I want is to destroy the pleasure these honest workers take in their craft: for I approve of their work. But that one works rigorously in the science and that there are contented workers certainly does not prove that science as a whole poesses a goal, a will, an ideal, or the passion of a great faith. The opposite is the case, to repeat: where it is not the latest expression of the ascetic ideal–and the exceptions are too rare, noble, and atypical to refute the genreal proposition–science today is a hiding place for every kind of discontent, disbelief, gnawing worm, despectio sui, bad conscience–it is the unrest of the lack of ideals, the suffering from the lack of any great love, the discontent in the face of involuntary contentment.

– F.W. Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals

Is there such a thing as musical novelty? (a combination of notes striking or distinctive for purely musical reasons, with no other implications) or do you attribute what is commonly identified as such as being more of a stylistic novelty?

Yes, but I don’t think it is as much a musical novelty as it is a programmed effect that has thwarted us as time and “standards” have evolved. It’s almost more of a comforting thing to the ears of the close-minded more than a stylistic redundancy. Over time people have been “programmed” to recognize what sounds “correct” and “incorrect” in music, and really all other aspects of life as well. It’s quite a shame but its true. Certain progressions of musical notes or chords have been labeled “incorrect” because to most people they sound “ugly” (minor chords, several notes played at once which are out of key with on another), while others are considered beautiful (whole note chords, several notes played in octave). They both sound beautiful to me, just different. Who are we to say that certain notes grouped together are right or wrong? My interpretation of this ridiculous dilemma is that it clearly seems as if this musical decision coincides with the rest of general human ideology. Humans are always trying to label “beautiful” or “normal” people/animals good and “ugly” or “different” people/animals bad. This reflects onto all aspects of general human thinking so why not let it bleed into music as well? We are brainwashed into thinking that what is disharmonious is “bad” and what is harmonious is “good”. Some people might think its preposterous for me to make a statement such as this but I think its preposterous for people to be trapped in a musical box which has been assembled by their “peers” and guaranteed by record labels which focus on the business of music rather than the music of music.

In ancient Greece, poetry was considered incomplete without accompanying music which united the significance of the words with the significance of certain tones and musical shapes. Is there any relevance of this idea today?

I think so. Music completes life. Certain songs complete and are appropriate for every, and any occasion. The choice of this music is, of course, up to the individual and will never be the exact same for any two people. I’m generally awake 19 or 20 hours every day and there is literally no more than two hours or so of my day, everyday, that is void of music. Working in a music store definitely contributes to my habits.

What inspired you about the deathgrind genre, or was it a culmination of other influences?

It has been countless influences, and the influences that influenced the people that influenced me. As Einstein said, you must honor the gift of evolution that is life, which has been worked on diligently for millions of years. People often tend to look that fact of existence over. I try to take the same approach to music, it seems like great men in the past have already done all of the really hard things in music for me and I think that now, anyone who picks up a musical instrument is on easy street in comparison to these previous achievements. Do you know off the top of your head who invented the first sound recording device?

I will try and stop from getting to far away from the question at hand and get back to my most prominent influences. I guess in the very beginning, 6 years ago, when I was 14 years old and had picked up a guitar for the first time, I was worshiping 3 bands. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Primus, and Deicide. I loved the sound experimentation and groundbreaking abstracting of music that Hendrix had, I loved the sense of humor and unconventuallity of Primus, and the aggression and technicality of Deicide. Those are the bands that made me want to pick up a guitar and that eventually drove me to create a band of my own that I wanted to contain all of the things that drew me to my early influences, in one single band. Now days the only thing that REALLY inspires me is avant-garde classical composers, i.e., Philip Glass, John Cage, Steve Reich, Kronos Quartet, ect.

What do you normally listen to in your time off from being death metal terrorists?

Actually, I enjoy listening to almost every genre of music. I really like Modern Psychedelic music, tons of obscure Classical composures, truck loads of Jazz and all of its sub-genres, of course Metal, Electronic music, Meditation music, Noise artists, and International (there are some really amazing eastern musicians). The list really has no end. What I’m listening to from each genre always changes but I can give you some things that are currently finding their way off the shelf into my CD player.

Kronos Quartet – “Black Angels”
Tan Dun – “Ghost Opera”
Suffocation – “Peirced from Within” and “Effigy of the Forgotten”
Jonas Hellborg/Shawn Lane/Jim Sipe – “Personae” and “Zenhouse”
Uncle Moe’s Space Ranch – “self-titled”
Clinic – “Walking with Thee”
Godspeed You Black Emperor – “Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven”
Philip Glass “Glassworks”
John Cage “The Seasons” (Margaret Leng Tan’s toy piano piece is amazing!)
Flaming Lips – “Soft Bulletin” and “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots”
Autechre – “Gantz Graf” and “Tri Repeatae”
Gyorgy Ligeti – “Ligeti Project II”
Medeski Martin and Wood – “The Dropper” and “Uninvisible”
John Zorn/Mike Patton – “Hemophiliac”
Pat Martino – “Live at Yoshi’s”
John Adams “Naive and Sentimental Music”
Primus “Pork Soda” and “Sailing the Seas of Cheese”
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – “Body and Soul”
Anoushka Shankar – “self-titled”

That’s what ive listened to heavily this week, but like I said the list is ever changing and I have a ton of CDs or so, so I’m always listening to something different.

Is there such a thing as political ideas expressed in art, or do you see there being a necessary connection between political ideas -> social ideas -> perceptive concepts?

There are political ideas expressed in art and rightfully so. Political ideas need expressing so why not use one of the most affective methods of convoying ideas as your medium?

I know you bastards read philosophy; what are your favorites? What did they express that was not seen articulated elsewhere?

Yes indeed. I guess a few favorites are Friedrich Nietzsche’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra”, Immanuel Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason” (if you can make it through this book, read it again and ponder each line he writes, as each sentence holds at least a paragraph’s worth of metaphorical ideology. I own the Cambridge edition, it is abridged appropriately and edited in a way which makes the text easier {well I should say possible for most people to understand} for those who haven’t taken a Kantian philosophy course.), and while it is sort of a culmination of such topics as physics, philosophy, non-Aristotelian logic and semantics, I enjoy Alfred Korzybski’s “Science and Sanity.” I enjoy most titles by Robert Anton Wilson dealing with philosophy/consciousness expanding. While I believe most of his books are nothing more than other peoples’ ideas funneled down and regurgitated so people with “lesser intellectuality” can understand them and begin the process of consciousness expanding. Normally I would disagree with this method of funneling information/writing but he actually notes when he is taking from someone else’s thoughts or literature so that makes it valid in my eyes. His books are fun to read, he makes good points and has a great sense of humor. Stephen Hawking’s book, “A Brief History of Time” is good for the most part. I could go on forever here but I will list another good one, Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.” To answer your second part to this question would be a whole other interview. The ideas expressed in these books that were not articulated elsewhere are so deep, vast and lengthy that a summarization of all of these individual ideas within a few pathetic sentences typed by myself, to me, would be an insult to the writers who I look at as some of the intellectual iron men of writing. Although, I believe a quick summary to someone who is interested and has never read or heard of any of these books is due. As basic and stripped down as it can be put, the over all point of all of these books is to force the reader to look at life in a different light. Metaphorically speaking, your mind is like a parachute. Closed you will die, open it will save your life and you will float above as you watch the others hit the ground screaming.

In spiritual practice, which is more important: coherence with natural schema of patterning, or symbolic adherence to human desires?

I think both are equally unimportant. Both are nothing more than a subconscious choice that is made of how a person perceives and interprets his/her own reality based on how their brain programs cropped and filed away the information of spirituality that has been directed to them and imprinted in their brains based on what experiences and information (or misinformation, really) they happen to come in contact with during their life that has consequently shaped their perception and beliefs according to these random events.

What do you think about Falun Gong?

From what I have read or been told about falun gong it’s really nothing more than Chinese yoga for people whose reality is based on pseudoscience. I know it involves physical postures accompanied by mediation which will supposedly promote mental/spiritual well being. I read an article in a magazine once with the “leader” stating by mastering falun gong you can obtain such metaphysical abilities as levitation and other supernatural powers. In my eyes, falun gong is as ridiculous as any other type or brand of a spiritual salvation that is defined by one living person (on an upside, at least their “leader” isn’t fictitious). Master Li, the “leader”, is the only person who can define the ways of F.G. therefore the ideology immediately causes me to burst into laughter and look at F.G. as nothing more than another man (Li) who is probably semi-intellectual who uses shills to control the minds of the mentally weak and needy. To me, the idea that a carbon based life form is to be looked at as a bringer of salvation is hilarious, pathetic and simultaneously horrifying in the fact that there are about 2 million people in the world that prescribe to the theory of falun gong. It’s a shame our species has bred beings that believe one of their own kind could be their bringer of salvation and are so mentally weak and distorted that they are sucked into a thin, as in lacking of content and containing no scientific relevance, vision of salvation in hopes of obtaining “supernatural” powers for no more than time and a likely weekly fee. I think the first step in demystifying any method that promises to bring salvation is if biological survival tickets (money) fit into the equation. I would imagine that a being that brings salvation would not be of biological content therefore would have an absent need for our (note the first word after the parenthesis) biological survival tickets.

Do you have any opinions of pornography? Do you feel it turns humans into symbolic structures in the same way religion does?

I think pornography is humorous. Not really from the point of view of the female who is baring her hide but from the male’s perspective. I think guys and women alike who enjoy pornography are either not aware of certain aspects of their existence or the worse scenario, are aware yet don’t care. Males tend to drool, stew, fantasize and obsess over pictures of naked females and critique their body in comparison to their personal preferences. Here is where the humor comes in. What males don’t realize whilst they enjoy porno is all they are doing is acting as the primates that they are, filled with a genetic structure that does not want to die out therefore possesses the constant need and want to reproduce. For example, when a guy says, “that bitch is hot”, unbeknownst to him he is thinking “the fat distribution and reproductive organs of the opposite sex in my sight seem extremely healthy and from what I’m perceiving visually has the ability to provide extremely healthy children for me.” When a guy looks at a pair of naked breasts he quivers, when in actuality that thought of lust running through his mind is nothing more that his deeply rooted and distilled thought that these mammary glands (plump breasts) will provide perfect sustenance for his offspring therefore promoting the longevity of his DNA strand, which is the most important aspect of a living organism. Apply this ideology to all other focuses of lust and there is a similar truth such as above behind each one. Peacocks spread their feathers to show the females the array of colors and the amount and fullness that their feathers possess which is a trait of a healthy male that in turn attracts the female, just as the human male works out, combs his hair, and wears becoming clothing etcetera, to attract the female. Unfortunately cars, money and so on are signs of power and well being which also attracts the human female. This is where the humor in pornography lies for me. When some pathetic male is gawking at or masturbating to a photo of a naked women he has no idea he is simply bleeding for his master, the DNA strand that is programmed to reproduce at all costs. Just as it is stereotypical for a male to feel and act “Zen-like” and feel necessary to reminisce of his previous nights copulative affairs with other males. He is satisfied physically that he has fulfilled his biological purpose in life and must tell the other males in his “tribe” of his affairs to gain a top dog status. Watching or hearing of these events provide me with endless laughter and entertainment; therefore the idea of pornography is extraordinarily humorous to me.

Another counsel of prudence and self-defense is to react as rarely as possible, and to avoid situations and relationships that would condemn one to suspend, as it were, one’s “freedom” and initiative and to become a mere reagent. As a parable I choose asociation with books. Scholars who at bottom do little nowadays but thumb books–philologists, at a moderate estimate, about 200 a day–ultimately lose entirely their capacity to think for themselves. When they don’t thumb, they don’t think. They respond to a stimulus (a thought they have read) whenever they think–in the end, they do not but react. Scholars spend all of their energies on Yes and NO, on criticism of what others have thought–they themselves no longer think.

The instinct of self-defense has become worn-out in them; otherwise they would resist books. The scholar –a decadent.

I have seen this with my own eyes: gifted natures with a generous and free disposition, “read to ruin” in their thirties — merely matches that one has to strike to make them emit sparks — “thoughts.”

Early in the morning, when day breaks, when all is fresh, in the dawn of one’s strength — to read a book at such a time is simply depraved!

– F.W. Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals

What activities do you have outside of music?

I don’t do a lot that doesn’t relate to music in some way. I enjoy drawing, writing text in a style I call “metaphilosophtry”, which is a mixture of metaphor, philosophy and poetry. I love reading philosophy, physics, and psychology books and really enjoy psychotropic experiences. Not sleeping much and drinking lots of coffee fits in there. I rarely go “out” as I hate loud noises (yes I know its sort of contradictory to being in a band but loud music is the only loud noises that are enjoyable to me) or being around people. Other than that there isn’t much I do that doesn’t have to do with music in some way or another.

What do you do to relax and have fun?

Well, there is the obvious, I play in Acerbus, I write music at my home and record various guitar or keyboard pieces on my digital studio. I try and have an intellectually stimulating conversation with someone every now and then. I’m quite the hermit and often refer to myself as a “misanthropic nihilistic introvert”. I love studying and thinking about the psychology involved with musical notes and progressions and I suppose the previous question will answer the rest.

If music is a language, what distinguishes certain pieces as impressive relates to the poetic content they express. Is there a difference between content and form in music?

I definitely think that certain progressions or orchestrations in musical notes, patterns of notes or chords will draw out certain emotions or trigger thought patterns that are unique to each listener. This is where my main interest in music lies. With every piece of music I write I keep in mind how it (the piece) will affect the listener on individual levels as well as in cohesion with the rest of the composed piece. I hope this is subconsciously apparent to people who listen to Acerbus. When people come to me after our shows they will tell me that we just sound “different” and that they cant quite place their finger on what it is but we just sound “different” to them. Hopefully this is a result of my psychological study of music at play since I write music utilizing certain aspects and attacking the listener’s ear in such a way that their brain cant help but to register these sounds on their musical spectrum as “new”, hence people telling me Acerbus just sounds “different” to them. Hopefully this method is at play but one can never be absolutely sure.

What’s wrong with humanity?

Do you want me to write a 2000 page essay here? I’ll give it to you as stripped down as possible. Humans have “evolved” to a biological life form that holds horrible traits called narcissism, ego, deceitfulness and personal dogma. America has arrived at a point where everything is based on biological survival tickets (money) and milking and flexing the primitive aspects of humans for all that their worth. Everyone in America (99%) has the mindset as follows: me first, I’m right you’re wrong, I am not successful without loads of money, I must outdo everyone else in the world on every level to retain top dog status, I’m the most important being on the face of this planet that would shrivel and die if I were to cease to exist. It’s sad really because life would be grand if everyone would drop all of this self important hogwash and read a book about, or at least an introduction to non-Aristotelian thought. Unfortunately, this will never happen so I say it would be in our best interests as a species to destroy all existing political and social parties and try to start over again with an actual democracy instead of one that spoon feeds its residents the illusion of freedom, the illusion of choice and the illusion of safety.

if you could be one non-human species (imagine reincarnation or other “magical” occurrence) what would it be?

I’d settle on being a viperfish. There are amazing and undiscovered things in the deep sea that would provide an infinite amount of eye candy for me as I enjoy looking at things and pondering on them. Having photophores that cause light to emanate from your body using bioluminescence would be amazingly amusing. Knowing reality as an air breathing life form would make living underwater very interesting. As an added bonus viperfish are extremely gnarly looking so that is a definite plus for me as well.

Which book would you most likely have written, not being already given to a career in musicianship?

Without a doubt I would have written, “Prometheus Rising” by Robert Anton Wilson. It’s a great book that anyone on any intellectual level can understand that will help him or her expand his or her reality tunnel resulting in higher intelligence, understanding of their self and others and awareness of one’s own biological nature and an introduction to the ways brain programs work. All things I think humanity could use sorely at this current time.

What do you think of the Austin scene? Do you think a city’s collective attitude determines what music will emerge?

I’ve gotten asked this question EVERY interview I have ever done since Austin has the reputation for being the “live music capitol of the world”, which is total bullshit (there is probably at least 200 bands that play in clubs all over Austin every night, it doesn’t mean that they have any real musical substance to them), so forgive me for not elaborating in great lengths one this one. Let me say this, we play a lot of out of town shows and most of the people that are into underground metal in Austin are in bands. I think the attitude of a city has little effect on what bands will emerge. I see where bands from certain areas have certain “sounds” but I think that is probably just a factor due to a psychosomatic suggestion that bands from certain cities hold a certain sound that must be emulated. I’m sure bands from the same areas experienced the same influences and I would imagine that would have something to do with it as well.

Do you see yourselves as expressing the ideas of your environment, or reacting to those ideas? (not to be confused with reactionary opposition, or an emotional/irrational response of rejection)

I guess I create music based on my influences, perceptions of what I think is musically divine, my own thoughts and on what ways I think that music can and needs to evolve.

Do you plan to have a family and “normal” life, if the opportunity rises?

No. An American “normal” life is nothing more than the lowest common denominator.

When you are playing, do you visualize the difference between the shapes you are touching/pressing on the fretboard, or do you have another method of preparing for the radical sweeping fretruns that seem to be easy for you?

This is a hard question to answer, but I will do my best. I hope my response remains coherent to everyone because I know exactly what I’m talking about but it’s difficult to put certain brain/body functions in to text form. When playing I visualize geometric patterns on the fretboard that are segregated in a grid-like pattern (as in each fret contains 6 lines which can be looked at in cohesion with all others as a giant piece of graph paper, each line holds a tone and is programmed into my brain accordingly) with the boundaries for each possible note change being each fret and string. This method of playing is extremely critical during my four fingered tapping solos. Most times when I play I do it in a sort of subconscious manner, I just kind of let me hands go to work. The best comparison is typing on a computer keyboard; each key is assigned a certain character just as each string is assigned a different note. Certain words you type, after typing them a few times become natural and this allows you to type in a fluid and fast way. This is just like how I play guitar. After I write a guitar riff the hand movements that are necessary to create the sound of the riff become like a stamp. Once it’s forged all you have to do is apply it and its there in perfect relief. The assemblage of many riffs, rhythm, transitional or lead, form together as one giant hand pattern or in other words about 40 different “riffs” or stamps compiled will create one giant “stamp” or song. I think that is the best I can explain it. I hope it made sense.

When you interact with normal people, how much do you self-censor what you’re going to say?

Unfortunately I do. I don’t censor what is considered “foul” language but I majorly censor what I would like to say intellectually. While people are talking they generally want their opinion to be heard and they don’t want to feel inferior. If I say something to someone that is what I consider a slightly deep thought, people will most times not understand you and think your just trying to be a “know it all”. So whilst in conversation with people whether it is friends or strangers I just strip down what I’m thinking so everyone understands and no one feels left out forcing them to lie their way through a topic since humans can’t stand admitting to not knowing something. I consider doing this a social Valium, but I never said I had the best social skills.

If you make people feel that they know something, they will adore you, if you make people realize they know nothing, they will loathe you.

What does Acerbus do to prepare for a concert?

We all stretch our muscles, tune our instruments, and arrive at a mentally self-confident state of readiness. Larry prescribes to the athletic abstinence of all physical indulgences theory for several weeks before any show or recording. I suppose that is all.

Have any labels woken up and signed you yet?

No. I have sent promotional packages to countless labels but every response I have gotten has been that we are too “extreme” or “out there” to bring in a large quantity of sales therefore the labels are unwilling to take a chance. I guess I’m out of touch with the metal community because I thought in the early nineties when Suffocation, Carcass and Deicide were breaking new ground being as extreme as possible was the name of the game. I don’t mean this in an egotistical way at all but I’m not worried: I know we will get signed eventually its just a matter of when and who is willing to take a chance.

What do you see as the primary differences between classical music and jazz?

Another essay style answer is in order here but I’ll try and keep it to a few sentences. This will probably only be funny to 1 out of 10,000 people but here it goes… I’ll try and be “the minimalist” while answering this question about classical music. HAHAHA! Man that’s funny in a cheesy way! Anyway, most Classical music is very refined and often referred to as “educated” music that is based on theory and what is “correct” (except for my favorites), while jazz is a style of music, while still well refined, is characterized by improvisation and experimentation. Hopefully everyone reading this already knows this fact but the alternate definition to the word “jazz” is miscellaneous or unspecified things. There we go, short and sweet and without speculation as promised.

What are the most significant musical innovations in the last fifty years, in your opinion?

This is another hard question to answer, but I’ll give you the most prominent things that stick out in my mind. The invention of several instruments (electronic and others) has done music well. The fact that in the last 20 years musical genres seem to have been mixed up a lot more. Unfortunately, this genre mixing has not been good all the way around but it has produced a few gems. It’s like mixing paint colors together, if you do it right you get vibrant unique colors. If you do it wrong you get brown. I can tell you some artists that I think have really pushed the limits of music as a whole in the last 50 years. Philip Glass (whom I happen to be listening to as I answer this interview), Steve Reich, Jimi Hendrix, John Cage, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, John Zorn, Primus, John Coltrane, Black Sabbath, Thelonious Monk and the Kronos Quartet. These are just a few but I think that they have all have had a profound impact on music over the last 50 years.

Do you feel ambient music brings any theoretical change or alterations in form to popular music, and, if so, what do they signify in the mental processes of artists in this time?

Slightly, and by that I mean everything has an effect on everything. Any slight alteration or event will affect an infinite number of reactions that will cause change throughout the world. Introducing new musical ideas or genres will work in an identical fashion.

Is history cyclic, linear, or linear within cyclic? Please explain.

The thought of history being cyclic is not feasible to me. Charting reoccurring events and loosely comparing them to more recent events suggesting the idea that history is cyclic is very similar to people who believe in psychics or faith healers. Weak-mindedness and deluding myself into believing coinciding similar facts cause factual relevance in certain events is not something I’m a fan of. Believing that history is linear within cyclic patterns sounds like someone who is one the edge a cliff preparing to jump off but just can’t quite do it yet. I think history is linear and I think people that believe history is cyclic could probably be diagnosed with infophobia and need to get hobbies, try pseudoscience it will be right up your alley.

How do you reconcile the view that art is a matter of individual interpretation (#2) with the idea that all listeners are affected similarly by certain musical combinations (#1)?

A sense of relief falls upon me to discover that the perceiver asks for further information on questions that have what could be seen as contradictorily answers. I will attempt an explanation using metaphor with promises that my answer remains coherent. Imagine bottles of paint and a mixing palette. Each base color in the each bottle (red, green, blue, yellow) is pure and unaltered such as an un-interpreted message to your brain. Any disturbance to this pure thought or “pure color” (which represents and un-interpreted brain message) will cause the same amount of change to the final interpreted message (“mixed primary paint colors” or a thought that has been altered by your minds own personal perception. ) in the outcome. So, the fact that I stated that “art is a matter of individual interpretation”, resembles how everyone’s “final perception” or, a thought that has gone through your brain programs thus the outcome will vary based upon each individual’s “reality tunnel” or, the way they perceive reality. Now, when I say “all listeners are affected similarly by certain musical combinations” I mean that if I can find musical combinations that actually change the original unperceived signal (which is the same for everyone), then the outcome will be slightly different, yet different in the same way for everyone. I will explain again in a different manner to promote the illumination of my point. Imagine having 10 painters that are all using the same paint bottles. You tell them to mix the colors on their own palettes and to each paint a landscape. Therefore, each painter s final picture will be different based upon his or her perception of a landscape. Now to change each painter’s painting without changing their interpretation of the landscape we would change the base colors from red, blue, yellow and green to black, purple, orange and brown which would cause the same change to each painters painting without changing their perception of their landscape.

There’s too much to talk about, and I’ll keep asking questions forever. Is there anything else you’d like to add for benefit of broadcast to the world?

Thank you for reading the entire interview, I’m glad you made it all the way through! Thanks to SRP for writing an interview that owns questions of substance and once again I appreciate anyone spending the time to read this. Anyone should feel free to contact me if they wish: Acerbus@angelfire.com

Thanks Again for your time!

Cory

-ACERBUS-

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Acerbus in Austin, Texas

Acerbus
November 19, 2001
Metro Club
Austin, TX

Acerbus took to the stage tonight preceded and followed by local acts tangentially related to the demanding and asocial sounds of technical death/grind. Inspired by bands such as Suffocation and Pyaemia to instill further intricacy and complexity of communication within extreme metal, Acerbus stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the more recognized bands from United Guttural and Unique Leader labels. Their songs are mostly intricate lead finger patterning stitching brief integrations of harmony into place and driving the unceasing rhythmic variation and pummeling that is their trademark. Characteristically unaffected and professionally self-criticial about their instrumentalism, Acerbus battered their audience with seven originals, including one new song and six older ones played seemingly faster than the demo from which they are taken, culminating with a cover of “Angel of Death” by Slayer for which Doni of Vesperian Sorrow chimed in on vocals. This event was held at one of the nicer clubs to ever have a metal show in Austin, the Metro on 6th street. If you missed it, do I have to be the one to tell you that you screwed up?

Bands:
Acerbus

Promotors:
Metro Club

 

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Interview: Sanguine A. Nocturne and Wrath Satariel Diabolus (Averse Sefira)

Among the bands who originate from areas outside of Northern Europe, there are few as controversial and yet artistically rewarding as Austin, TX’s Averse Sefira. Having their genesis in the era before credulous emulators gagged the black metal community with sound-alike hardcore music dressed up as black metal, Averse Sefira create black metal art in the older style, inspired by Norse and Brazilian black metal from the late 1980s and early 1990s, which puts them at odds with most of their contemporaries who like to make the more generic, less musically-complex “black metal” that has become popular in the years since 1999. Undaunted, the warriors of Averse Sefira have forged ahead on a path of creating mystical, sublime, and unrepentantly vicious metal music which is closer to its influences than competitors.

Additional guest interview questions here, courtesy of Tyler Gebar.

What drew you to black metal and not jazz or punk or ambient or baroque, or more properly stated, what drew you to black metal more than these other forms (thus forced a decision)?

SANGUINE: I have always felt called to Metal and I have always had a sound in my head that I have pursued since I was able that became clearer to me, held meaning and expression the closer I came to Black Metal. It was a journey through the initial fallout of the Genrefication, a journey through Thrash Metal and Speed Metal, Death Metal and Grindcore until one day I was played Black Metal. Then it became clear, an epiphany if you will. I understood the Sound. As I immersed myself in the Sound I began to read and understand the meaning contained within the Sound. That meaning was what I had within me my whole life. Nothing else in music that I have explored has ever merged the Within and the Sound in such union. Classical, ambient and industrial for me are close runner-ups in achieving the union, but there are mindsets within those forms that I find alien and incomprehensible, just as devotees from those camps often never understand the Hessian completely.

Averse Sefira is one of a half-handful of north american bands who create something other than three-chord punk disguised as black metal. What drives you to take a mental vision and project it through music, instead of creating a variant on known musical patterns? How did you collaborate on this vision, and what was the course of its evolution?

WRATH: In regards to initial architecture very little was based on anything else besides instinct. Sanguine and I were ardent followers of metal in general and accordingly we endeavored in what seemed correct and effective at the time. Very often people ask about our affinity for Voivod, which I find interesting considering they were not an influence at all. Most listeners hear an odd timing structure or a false stop in metal and they immediately reference the more technical bands when in truth our chief influence was Immolation in regards to structures. Even with that in mind I do not feel we share a sound in common. Sanguine learned to play traditional folk guitar long before he played extreme music, and both of us had an affinity for classical music as well. I think our decision to draw upon a wide palette of influences rather than aspire to be a variant of one specific band our style gave us a foundation that allowed for continuing innovation and exploration. I don’t quite understand the desire to be a band that is a blatant reiteration of another established act whose work will always remain superior. Why not just be a cover band? It involves less initial planning and more immediate gratification (such as it is). I savour the idea that we are rarely dismissed as sounding like any one band. If you read our reviews, we are compared to Immortal, Voivod, Marduk, Immolation, and everything in between. To address the “three-chord punk” aspect, this seems to be a symptom of minimalism being mistaken for an elementary approach. The two are anything but synonymous yet it opens the door for uninspired amateurism, most of which is thankfully and quickly ignored and abandoned.

How was the energy that inspired you to become formative in Averse Sefira different from other energies you had felt?

SANGUINE: Black Metal is like lightning striking you, the resultant chemical and electrical disruptions alter perceptions and break down barriers between the Terrestrial, the Celestial and the Void. Averse Sefira being an eruptive living presence is a magnification of these disruptions. It becomes a symbiotic relationship sometimes guiding, sometimes being guided.

When did you first get into music, and what are your memories of what attracted you to it? Also, when did you first hear metal and what did you like about it? What was the progress of your moving from outside to inside the genre, as first a fan and then a musician?

WRATH: My first interest in music was classical, from when I was about three years of age. Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bare Mountain” was a genius work that first sparked my appetite for “evil” music. Beethoven and Mozart were also standards, along with Alice Cooper. By about 1986, however, I was anxious to find something more—by this point I was an angry, hyperactive, hormone-addled youth who still wasn’t even old enough to drive. This was the point when Metallica, DRI, Anthrax, Celtic Frost, Slayer, Sodom, Bathory, and Iron Maiden began to match much of “the noise inside my head” (to paraphrase our ever-trenchant guitarist). Here was music that had spirit, conviction, aggression, and, oddly enough, hope. Thus I discovered a paradigm that became a soundtrack for the years ahead, years which continue forward even now. I was a mere fan until I was fifteen, and then I took the plunge and began to learn guitar. Our first band formed before any of us were truly proficient but there was much in the way of raw talent.

In time every moment is conditioned by the previous one. Here the ground or reason of being, as the law of succession, is so simple because time has only one dimension; consequently in it there cannot be any diversity or multiplicity of relations. Every moment is conditioned by the previous one; only through that predecessor can this moment be reached. It is only insofar as that other was and has elapsed. All counting depends on this nexus of the parts of time, and its words serve merelyt o mark the single stages of succession; consequently, the whole of arithmetic depends on it, a science that teaches absolutely nothing but methodical abbreviations of counting. Each number presupposes the preceding numbers as the grounds or reasons of its being; I can reach ten only by going through all the preceding numbers; and only by virtue of this insight into the ground of being, do I know where there are ten, so are there eight, six, four.

– Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason

What music besides black metal inspires you most profoundly?

SANGUINE: Primitive chants from earlier times and Classical music. At extremes, these two forms are radical expressions of the Void. Music is a sensual and encompassing experience. The most meaningful displays of it envelop the listener causing a bubble of separate reality to form. This subset of reality wires into every fibre of being and folds the dimensions of existence until the intersection of the mundane intrudes at the end.

What attracts you to a band first – is it instrumental aspects, textural aspects (vocals, tone) or structural?

WRATH: It really depends. Often it is a combination of the elements, though I am quite a seeker of unique and convincing vocal styles. This is how I got into Antaeus, Old Wainds, Funeral Mist (the vocals on their latest are unreal), and even Immortal actually. I like bands that right upon first listen come across as a sum of their parts. This is in the end how ensemble music is intended.

What do you believe is the root of artistic conception? (examples: some say it is simply recontextualizing two forms not normally superimposed upon one another, and that this is the root of all creativity; others say it is simply a sound; some argue the mechanism is understood first; all may be explaining their own phenomenon without getting close to an objective theory)

SANGUINE: For me the root of artistic conception is the expression of the DDIIVVIINNEE. For those who cannot get around such a word being used, insert “the Void.” The artist is called or taps into the Void and finds continual ways to channel and express it. This expression can come in the form of straight religious contextualization or it can be channeled through ideology; although there is much evidence to support a feedback loop between the two (ideology vectoring religion, religion vectoring ideology.)

Music is formed of sound, art of visual impulse, warfare of the physical and words of the abstract; what realization impelled you to join all four disciplines in your artistic concept?

WRATH: From the band’s inception it seemed that total committal and immersion in the art was the only option. We have always prided ourselves in our conceptual completeness. Different facets of this paradigm are expressed in different venues as the visual design and auditory aspects predominate the albums themselves, while the physical component only writhes and poisons in a live setting. This is a form of psychic alchemy; we combine the needed elements to devise something precious and otherwise unattainable.

In music, does the recognition of signal define form, or does form define signal? Could this be a matter of approach, or is it hardwired into human consciousness?

SANGUINE: The answer lies somewhere in between. Developing children across the world will exhibit “music making” or “songwriting” occurrences in an informal manner. They explore rhythm making and melody often without initiation by the parent or group or exposure to more formal musical induction. At some point, all that is naturally occurring within our primal systems, gets written over when someone sits us down and says “this is what music is.” The conditionings leafed over what exists within us takes over and for the most part we become dependant on approach.

In chaos theory we speak of dimensionality as levels of abstraction of repetition of detail; it works in a similar way to computer compression algorithms, which note repeated patterns and assign them a token which takes up less space than the original pattern. Usually the patterns being compressed or abstracted are organized around divisions into two, as for every recognizable thing it can fragment into two halves or recombine a self and an other. How do you think this applies to methods in black metal songwriting for getting closer to a dominant theme or melody without repeating it?

SANGUINE: Humans individually exist within an internal matrix of approaches, thoughts, attitudes, and emotions, all converging and swirling at different points, creating strange relationships and associations along the way. (Not to mention how the act in groups or modify their behaviour based on who they are in contact with at any given moment.) They seem to gravitate towards twos and fours. This might explain the confusing numbers of meat attracted to the binary morality of desert religions. There is something internally pleasing about these even numbers. Conventional 2/4, 4/4 time signatures dominate most song structures and are easily grasped by the Passives and is easily wielded by those seeking conveyance on as broad a band (even if selective) as possible. Perhaps it forms a silent mnemonic system that reinforces the themes?

Music writing seems to be tied inextricably to Newton, in that if something goes up, it must come down (or vice versa.) There is also a high instance of “riff A goes three times and on the fourth time put in riff B.” The only beings that have come near to writing music interwoven with Quantum Physics are Acerbus. I am amazed that people are even able to write music at all, and I have no idea how they do it. I operate with modular components that I call “sets.” A set is usually two or more riffs that compliment each other in somewhat of a logical fashion, there is a great deal of the process based on that great unquantifable: “feeling.” Being modular, these components can be dropped in anywhere in a song and form the basic themes for the composition. They can repeat any number of times with variation imposed as required, say when the song is approaching summation, set A returns, but is played backwards, lower, whathaveyou.

I also think of the songs relative to the shapes that the themes form around. Things like StiGr.39s or the distorted bones of a skinned xtain, celestials on fire, these images are evocative in translation to musical form. One thing I am experimenting with is structuring sets akin to DNA constructions: riff sets on the guitar forming one helical half combining with riff sets on the bass forming the other helical half and the drums acting as sugars linking it all together. Perhaps the construction of an automaton or golem is also an appropriate metaphor: part is bone, part is muscle, part is flesh and part is the electricity powering it. Something that the occult bands often aspire to, or should, is to try and capture in music the essence of what they are summoning/conjuring/opening, not just play Rock and say that it is the embodiment of ritual. Although again, that would explain the obsession with twos and fours… Black Metal is after all, Black Magic but music.

The first time I came to men I committed the folly of hermits, the great folly: I stood in the market place. And as I spoke to all, I spoke to none. But in the evening, tightrope walkers and corpses were my companions; and I myself was almost a corpse. But with the new morning a new truth came to me: I learned to say, “Of what concern to me are market and mob and mob noise and long mob ears?”

You higher men, learn this from me: in the market place nobody believes in higher men. And if you want to speak there, very well! But the mob blinks: “We are all equal.”

“You higher men” – thus blinks the mob – “there are no higher men, we are all equal, man is man; before God we are all equal.”

Before God! But now this god has died. And before the mob we do not want to be equal. You higher men, go away from the market place!

– F.W. Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Do you think that the pre-1996 (Nordic) blackmetal bands held this view? If so, was it their primary view – a summation of their beliefs – or one of the symbols they used to communicate their beliefs?

WRATH: In the time of their greatness, I believe the seminal acts of the region followed these ideals indeed. Regardless, it was their promotion of such things that spoke to us and inspired us to make our own bid as a band. I agree that much of the message was symbolic. The traditional idea of music in general is using art to convey meaning. At their best, the “black circle” bands were very effective in marrying these elements. It is the model under which we have laboured since our inception- symbols standing for greater motives.

How does nature respond to change, in your broad and esoteric experience?

SANGUINE: Nature adapts and ultimately overcomes and destroys, albeit very slowly. Witness the grass growing up from underneath sidewalks, or the tree that has grown over the gravestone. Nature has a much longer longevity than humanity and thus can act at its leisure. Humanity is doomed to scurry around trying to kill immortality in pursuit of its own immortality.

Why are there suddenly so many black metal bands? (this question dates from 1998)

WRATH: The simplest answer seems to be that it has become a trend, though I think a more accurate answer is that more than ever people justify themselves by the attention they get from others. We live in a society full of reality TV shows and we watch complete morons blunder into pseudo-celebrity. A large problem with the current underground (and again I refer mostly to the internet scene) is that everyone claims to be a society-loathing misanthrope who has no interest in the world at large, but then an alarming majority of these people demonstrate just how much the culture they deride has gotten to them. I am constantly amazed at how often I encounter christianized mentalities and the thin rationalizations used to justify them. Getting back to the main point, nobody in metal is interested in making music for oneself anymore. It becomes a process of picking a recombinant band name, writing some recombinant songs, then imploring people to buy a copy of your brand new CD-R. As a side note, I would really be impressed to see a new Black Metal band who went to the trouble to print cassettes and include an inlay card if anything because it would prove that they cared about making an effort.

Although Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” is arguably more musically conventional than Darkthrone’s “Transylvanian Hunger,” both possess a spirit that is difficult to quantify in the typing that allows us to divide genre and lineage in popular music. What is this essential quality and why is it that some bands have it and others do not, to varying degrees?

SANGUINE: The Void calls to some and the others simply see what the chosen do and mimic it thinking that they bear truth as well. Both albums represent the moment of death for Black Metal in triumphant explosion, an attempt to shut off Black Metal from those who would soil what it offers. The gate was never fully sealed and Black Metal and the Void continue to call and pull a select few to it. There are those that hear the call more clearly, it remains one of those “unquantifiables.”

The bottom line is that bands with severity of conviction are closer to the Void than bands that want conviction or claim to have it because someone else says they do. The “I don’t know what art is but I know what I like” argument raises its head, although in this case it becomes something along the lines of “explaining why one band channels the Void and another one does not is difficult to quantify, the surety lies in the listen, how the space between the solar plexus feels when the album begins to turn.” Once again, “feeling” is important. Feeling and conviction. To borrow from MkM, what is projected in your art must come from every fibre of you being, it has to be your essence, you have to vomit it out for all to see.

The philosopher F.W. Nietzsche posited that western society is collapsing under a wave of liberalization that began with the adoption of Christianity by the Roman empire, a wave that has continued into the secular sector. Where do you think the original black metal impetus in Norway stood in regards to this issue, and where does black metal now stand regarding it? What is your personal view of Nietzsche’s summation?

WRATH: So few people are savvy enough to recognize that christianity is a way of thinking, now more than ever. One can still be christianized and never say a prayer, set foot in a church, or even believe in Jehova. It is christian to demand that everyone be treated with the same regard and merit even when it is unwarranted. It is christian to rationalize behavior that stands in flagrant opposition with professed beliefs, the most common example in the underground being anti-christian yet having a christian significant other (most guys take what they can get without question). It is christian to compromise even when it is clear that the ends will not justify the means. Whether or not the Norse bands were truly adherent in their ideals, their music and words stood firmly against this. Too few really read Euronymous’ mission statement and understood its intent. The Norwegian movement was meant to put a stop to the open door policy of the current scene and implement a new variation that was not intended for everyone. Here again we return to the idea of elitism and why it is so necessary. As previously addressed, the traditional underground still holds these values closely for good or ill, as it is often rigorous to do so when glad-handing scensters continue to get in the way. I agree with Nietzsche’s outlook in this regard; it is particularly true in the US where christian sentiments have long subverted more sensible and functional means and values. Things here no longer run smoothly, as “being fair” or worrying about “people’s feelings” undermines common sense when it comes to getting anything accomplished. Conversely, the whole model is illusory in that so few who enforce these conventions truly believe in them. They assume the person next to them does, however, and thus they adopt a position that will ensure the least amount of judgment or sanctions. This, in its most rudimentary sense, is Christianity- servility for the promise of a nebulous reward.

You were one of the first people in America to embrace black metal, at a time when most metalheads still referred to black metal as “faggot music.” What vision did you grasp that others could not see?

WRATH: More correctly, I like to think I was part of a handful of people in the US to first tout Black Metal in a public forum, mine being a radio show. I did indeed hear many “faggot music” comments (and still do, interestingly enough). As we have since established in this discourse, what enthralled me was a combination of the projected ethos, the aesthetic, and the overall atmosphere that permeated the classic recordings. I saw it as a new renaissance, a step forward, and our best hope for revitalizing a stagnant underground (which, for what it’s worth, happened to a point) . Then again, I always preferred Deicide and Morbid Angel to Suffocation or Cannibal Corpse so it is fair to say that conviction and innovation always got my attention.

I know you’re aware of occult, philosophical and musical leanings of many cultures. In your cross-cultural studies, what common threads have you found that are most applicable to the formation of human ideals?

SANGUINE: There are universal occurrences of a pantheon of gods tied to the cycles of Nature and the machinations of the Universe. There are many universal occurrences of guidelines for living, set up along the lines of balancing “virtues” and “taboos;” these idealy would ensure the survival of the society if adhered to. Societies themselves almost universally had classes for priests, classes for warriors, classes for merchants and artisans, farmers and so on. Everyone had a place and was essential to maintaining continuance. If you were not part of the society, you were the sacrifice that kept the sun rising and the next cycle beginning. These days, society is not going to collapse if you eat pork, or foods that are specially prepared. These days, there is not always a place for people. These days the divisions between tribes are being purposely blurred so that everyone thinks that everyone is the same, everyone can be anything they want. These days everyone seems content to be useless.

What do you think is the major difference between first-wave Norwegian black metal and the current crop of worldwide “BM”?

WRATH: When the Norwegian scene was unearthed they were not a part of a worldwide movement or an internet community. It was a question of standing on merit, talent, and vision. Very few of the bands forming now have this spirit, but then again they no longer need it. Black Metal, particularly in the states, has become a very tolerant and coddling entity. Ten years ago, legitimacy was not about how long one had been visiting a metal message board. At this point it is simpler for someone to simply announce that he has a band and wait for the accolades to roll in, rather than working towards something that stands as an accomplishment unto itself. The Emperor wears no clothes, and has not for some time now. Many would be surprised at my involvement with other projects, bands, and entities in the underground. My name is always present but there is no need to call additional attention to myself. I am proud of what I contribute and this is more than enough, and if there are praises to receive then I want to know I have rightly earned them rather than assume I deserved them before the fact.

The one most relevant [cultural factor] here is language. In general, scientific discourse adopts as its ideal univocality — one word, one meaning. Closely related to this goal is the belief that a language exists, or can be forged, that is purely instrumental. Clearly and unambiguously, it will communicate to the world what the speaker or writer intends to say. Roland Barthes (Rustle) has ironically called this the belief that science can own a slave language, docile and obedient to its demands. Anyone who has seriously studied how language works is aware, however, that it shapes even as it articulates thought. There is now an impressive body of work exploring how metaphors, narrative patterns, rhetorical structures, syntax, and semantic fields affect scientific discourse and thought…language is not a passive instrument but an active engagement with a vital medium that has its own currents, resistances, subversions, enablings, pathways, blockages. As soon as discovery is communicated through language, it is also constituted by language.

– N. Katherine Hayles, Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science p. 5 (1991)

Backing up a bit, in the mid-1980s Bathory and Celtic Frost stunned the world with a form of metal that was both the simplest yet created, in terms of its basic and grinding power chord riffs, and most complex, in that it staged itself like an opera, unifying a visual presentation with a concept with a musical form. This is similar to the use of music in ancient Greece, where it was believed that music by itself, without an accompanying storyline and theatrical presentation, was only partially complete. What do you think brought this view back into the intellectual currency of the West?

WRATH: It seems that those individuals grew up with a healthy fascination for their origins and heritage and quickly realized that this existence was no longer within reach as it had been long-erased industry and judeo-christian mores. What better way to resurrect mythos and wonder than by projecting it through infectious yet markedly aggressive music? For our brand of art to carry any real value it must convey meaning. In our case, the personas and music we have devised are much larger than ourselves; Averse Sefira is an entity in its own right. Immersion is what makes the music live, what makes a spindly guy in a bullet belt into a fire-breathing demon called Quorthon or a tow-headed nice guy longhair into a guitar-shredding grunt machine called Tom G. Warrior. Art is meaning, anything else is just entertainment. The earliest purveyors of this genre understood this and they insisted on creating something that transcended the workaday existence and the conventions of the world they were forced into despite their desires for more and better ways of being. This is why Averse Sefira will always appear in paint and spikes, we will always strive for involved design and presentation, we will always be all-inclusive in our presentation. Music is the foundation but in Black Metal aesthetic will always be important, no matter how minimalist it may be. Those who claim to play Black Metal but still don’t understand this paradigm should form AC/DC tribute bands and play onstage in street clothes.

I understand that unlike many black metallers, you embrace both higher education and a personal sense of honor. How does this jive with the post-1996 attitude of many fans and third-string musicians that black metal should be about “total darkness and hate, and total suicidal agony”?

WRATH: Black Metal should be about total darkness and hate, etc, etc, but perhaps not in such absolute terms. It is fine to tout such ideas assuming one understands why it matters. The problem is that most of the individuals who are quick to assert these concepts do so in lieu of anything productive or artistic. Any coward and/or moron can regurgitate “widely accepted” platitudes as an excuse to not bring anything useful to the table. Fatalism is easy because it negates accountability, and in the interim ideals like honor, fortitude, imagination, conviction, and solidarity fall by the wayside. The result is that those who speak loud and offer little have begun to overrun the movement. They have plenty of empty rhetoric, and somehow this saves them from being singled out and isolated from the beginning. It is a symptom of the 21st century that the lowest common denominator defines the trajectory of things, and it seems that Black Metal is not immune. For our part, the aforementioned “strength and honor” aspects of this music are what make it worthwhile. Those we know and respect in this movement also believe and practice within this paradigm, and accordingly they are the ones we call allies. All others should be honest with themselves and return to listening to hardcore.

What was the best part of college?

SANGUINE: I think the best part of college is the appreciation one gains ex post facto for how much was truly useless and how they would do things differently. It is kind of bittersweet, the experience. I enjoyed it but in hindsight it was not unlike a rodeo with textbooks. There is a great destruction involved on many levels.

It seems to me that death metal started with grand ambitions (Altars Of Madness, Legion) and then lapsed into the same mindless three-chord bashing that has always characterized bad metal bands; black metal was a breath of fresh air, but now so many of these bands have adopted the cloak of “Transilvanian Hunger” and are doing the same thing. What engenders this cycle? Should it be “stopped”?

WRATH: It seems so many people have looked at a band like Darkthrone and believed that the key to the music was to keep it one-dimensional. They never realized that in minimalism it is often implication that completes intent. Why is “Transylvanian Hunger” brilliant while some other three-chord album is not? This is when the esoteric takes hold and makes what would have otherwise been a repetitive and poorly produced album into a seminal work. However, when other bands ape this approach the results are transparent and poorly produced albums, period. You will not encounter many individuals who are willing to invest the time in finding their own voices and sharpening their crafts. We live in a twenty-four hour society where everything must be fast-tracked and brought to market while the commodities are hot, hot, hot! Thus we witness and endless parade of idiots who think that they need to commit their Black Metal band to CD-R tomorrow, and Darkthrone isn’t hard to mimic, so why not do that? Our drummer actually summed it up best when he observed that while most everything on the first Deicide album is easy to play, he never could have thought up any of it. It’s no surprise that Emperor turned around and alienated all the aspiring imitators with “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk”. They wanted to be sure to shut the door on that kind of thing. So, for a short answer yes it should be stopped. I also think Darkthrone should stop grandstanding and find something else to do.

What do you think is the lineage of black metal, and what are its major influences outside of the genre (or even outside music)?

SANGUINE: Do you remember the time, before the Great Generefication, when it was ALL METAL? At some point, someone said, “THAT’s Speed Metal, THAT’s Death Metal, THAT’s Thrash Metal, this new stuff’s called Grindcore,” and in the murky depths of fanzinedom, some one said, “Sodom, Venom, Bathory, Sarcofago, Pentagram, Beherit, Blasphemy, Mystifier, Master’s Hammer, These guys are BLACK METAL! (Well, these are the guys that were doing Black Metal originally; Immortal, Darkthrone, Bvrzvm, Emporer, Mayhem, THESE guys are {True!} BLACK METAL!”

“Why is this Black Metal? What makes it so?” the Incredulous asked.

“Because it’s SATANIC!” the Generifier said.

“So that makes Decide, Morbid Angel, Incantation, ad nauseum, Black Metal bands.”

“Oh no! They are Death Metal bands! They have a more chromatic chord base, double bass blasts and low, growling vocals.”

“Ah! So what make these new bands (that are Satanic/coming out of Scandinavia) Black Metal?”

“The guitars are more melodic, they blast with a single kick, and the vocals are pitched higher. And they have paint and spikes and burn churches some of them. The Death Metal guys wear jeans and sneakers, ‘jogging suits’ and look like everybody at shows”

“I see, so it is an aesthetics and form delineation that makes something Black Metal and not Death Metal.”

“No, it is also their ideology, these guys are warring against Christianity, they are searching for their lost Viking roots, blah, blah, blah.”

“So how can you play Black Metal then Don Diego?”

“Because I and my band are hailing Satan and writing songs about Satan’s triumph over the Earth and killing christians.”

And so on. I agree with that theory: that what everyone initially agreed quantified and qualified a band as Black Metal was a Satanic theme, concept or aesthetic. When the whole Norway/Sweden/Finland “scenes” erupted, that same Satanic element was very strong. At some point this split and fractured; varicose offshoots running amok touting National Socialism, Medieval Satanism, Paganism, Vampirism, Genocide, Nihilism, Forests, Misty Fog, etc; one could graph the ebbs and flows. Some of these arteries have hardened and with every form, conventions solidify and one can now safely describe bands by “they sound like.”

And at this point it all really matters not at all. The lineage of Black Metal is well known as legend with even the wettest behind the ears able quote from “Lords of Chaos:”

“Once upon a time, there was Euronymous, Dead and Count Grishnack. Dead begat the germ that is Black Metal. Euronymous became jealous and killed Dead for this germ [er, ah he committed suicide.] Count Grishnack killed Euronymous for, well perhaps just to get the next phase going.”

IF that is so and Grishnack burned the chruches to wake up Norwegians, perhaps Euronymous’ death was to awaken Hessians, get them thinking about what this is really about.

The great majority of them, the ones that “made the Metal community at large aware of Black Metal,” I still want to feel that they believed in something, that they adhered to an ideology. I want to think that they weren’t just doing it as a joke and now they can go back to their Nine Inch Nails. Many have abandoned what they initially raised high banners in the name of, and many still raise high banners so long as they look right and play music that sounds ‘just like _____!’ It seems like so many have lost their faith, for Metal has its religious qualities, that one can wonder sometimes if there has ever been any meaning to this music, this form. The fact that there are some adherents, some faithful still out there, that to me will point to a common truth wherefrom this movement sprang from. The lineage of Black Metal is now legend, and I feel that it is served better in this manner. Where it is going, what is done with it to keep it vital, thriving and mutating, is of the utmost importance.

Movements pushing ideologies have crept in through Metal, the fanbase appearing as an untapped resource that many would like to exploit, be it financial, material, physical, political, religious. Movements within Metal have arisen and now seek to creep outward, to effect and depose the JCI society that seeks to ruin and despoil what is being accomplished. There is a great war of hearts and minds being waged by those who want to keep Metal regarded as “frivolous.”

There are important leaps in meta-philosophy and meta-culture being made by enclaves of Hessian think tanks. I say it “meta-” because unfortunately such efforts will never be recognized as “legitimate” by the current JCI society. Hessians, as a meta-culture, truly global and post-moral, operate in a closed system making plans for what should promise to be a better future; unfortunately, this knowledge will always be suppressed and disregarded, “the rants and ravings of fringe elements and radicals.” Such accusations are made still, mostly by an unwashed mass with the mean age of 20. The potential within these nay-sayers is still there but still suffer from the conditioned thought of the society around us. Ten plus years ago, I think that Hessians were not as accomplished thinkers as they are today. Ten plus years ago, the message put forth was “Party! Let’s get out our aggression {until we cave to society’s demands!} Oh shit, there might be nuclear war! That’s bad!” Today, the message has changed: “Society is broken and must be set on fire. From the ashes we can rebuild and move forward in a more productive manner, but doing so requires the fetters and fears that bind us be cast aside so that we can act beyond the constraints of morality, act unhindered.”

American society has never fully accepted evolution as a theory, where Europe seems more scientific in outlook. Does this affect cultural and personal views of metal music, art and how to make it?

WRATH: American society has never fully evolved either, so how would we begin to grasp such theories? Of course our remedial culture stunts creation of art just as European culture propagates it. If you look around you, the American underground has all but succeeded in turning US Black Metal right back into Death Metal. What does that tell you? This is why the European bands and their mentality appeal to us. We have further cultivated a sense of this in our travels and travails in that region, and sometimes I cannot believe we are still on the same planet. Some have asserted that we wish we were a European band and all I can say is that they have been paying attention.

360.00 Universe itself is simultaneously unthinkable. You cannot think about the Universe sum-totally except as a scenario. Therefore, for further examination and comprehension, you need a thinkable set, or first subdivision of Universe, into our systems.
362.00 Our original definition of Universe is a finite but nonsimultaneously occurring aggregate of all human experiences, which is, therefore, a nonceptual total Universe. It is logical to proceed from this definition to discover the patterning characteristics of the first conceptual division of Universe into a structural system. After we subdivide Universe into systems, we will make further reductions into basic even experiences and to quantum units. We will then come to the realization that all structuring can be identified in terms of tetrahedra and of topology.

– Buckminster Fuller, Synergetics

Do you watch television and/or movies?

SANGUINE: No TV. I would like to still watch movies, but I feel great pressure from within to make better use of my time and life’s energy, so I generally abstain.

People have accused you of being an elitist. How do you answer that? Also, what is your feeling on the similarities and differences between “musical elitism,” or really elitist meritocracy based on personal artistic output, and an enlightened sense of anti-social Darwinism?

WRATH: Those who feel I am an elitist are usually standards-bereft bottom feeders who are beneath me. Is this not for what Black Metal was intended? The modern iteration of this genre was a reaction to Death Metal’s increasing lack of ethos and liberalized sensibilities. Decrying elitism is yet another facet of our tailspin into the lowest common denominator. Musically and socially, elitism is more necessary than ever yet there are so few genuine adherents to this mindset. Most people would prefer to be hypocrites or apologists rather than invest in the rigors of aspiring to something better. It is not a question of perfection, it is a question of consistency. It is no coincidence that as a band our appeal is selective, as this is what elitism requires. Pleasing everyone is for the MP3 bands of the world.

What technological development of the last 30 years do you fear the most?

SANGUINE: Microwaves, anything that disrupts the body’s electrical systems.

How does religion and/or popular social views affect the composition of music?

WRATH: It seems to drive quite a few bands to trivial output. Again, as mentioned previously the biggest problem with the metal underground right now is the social aspect. Bands want attention and validation more than they want to set artistic goals these days. This is definitely putting the cart before the horse, but that is to be expected in the post-MTV generation. Simply having a band is never enough. When we began Averse Sefira, we never had the slightest inkling that it would become something about which anyone beside ourselves would care. Witness the fact that we ultimately released our first album on our own after rejecting a few thin label offers. For us it was never about acceptance or popularity, and even now we are often surprised and even skeptical of the response we get from listeners. Purely artistic goals are increasingly uncommon in metal, and in part I would agree that society is to blame. In terms of religion’s effect, please refer to my earlier comments on chrisitianized people in metal.

Do you think digital computers provide any models, fragmentary or mimetic, of human consciousness?

SANGUINE: Yes, in that they both have to be programmed and once programmed, there is a great chance for corruption, viruses and crashing.

Some have said the Christian vision of the “soul” is nothing more than the ego yearning to assert itself despite mortality. Do you think this is true? The ego is also paradoxical, in that it is both useful and, if too much of it occurs, destructive. Is there a general principle that can be derived from this?

WRATH: I think the soul is the navigator of the physical body, but as such when the physical meets the end the navigator is extinguished as well. Were this not true then we would not grieve so when those close to us die. What difference does it make if there is an afterlife or not- we are here now. All I know is that dualists forever debunk their own assertions in their failure to deal with death in ways that do not involve fear or grief. What is there to mourn if another life directly awaits on the other side?

The soul seems to be the sum of its parts, both tangible and intangible. One part cannot exist without the other. In terms of ego, you are correct that it is both an asset and a liability. I myself have ego to spare and I find it can lead to garnering great friends as well as bitter (if completely ineffective) enemies. In the more traditional sense, too much responding to drives, desires, and needs leads to both excess and even chaos. Chaos is sometimes good and necessary, but it is well advised to be aware of your own role in its midst.

As humanity poisons Earth, it may be necessary to engage in space travel where individuals will not only be cut off from the world for journeys taking most of their natural lives, but also will be cut off from any kind of parent culture as it disintegrates while they are in space. If these space travelers wrote philosophy or music, what ideas do you think would be emphasized?

SANGUINE: Unfortunately I think they would try to keep the ideal of “goD” going as long as they could. There would also be a biological push to replicate in as many and different combinations as possible so as to ensure genetic existence. To this, all conventions of matriarchy/patriarchy would have to dissolve and notions of conventional pair bonds would have to be cast aside. Everyone would have to breed with everyone else, the idea being that “the best and brightest” have been evaluated and chosen as such “the species” (or amalgamation thereof) would survive and promulgate. Given the limited supplies and space restrictions of a space going vessel, birth cycles would have to be regulated. A new culture would rise and the aspects of it, philosophy, music, etc, would have to revolve on the axis of breeding, “what are we going to do when we land?” and Christmas…

In many ways, Americans are shown by media archetypes how to grow up very quickly on the outside, leaving the structure behind emotions and logic relatively unformed. What do you think are the benefits of this form of extended youth?

SANGUINE: On one hand, delayed development benefits those that will have a greater purpose the close Geburah comes. These will be prepared to pilot the new society towards the halls of tomorrow. Extended youth on the other hand hinders those that embrace the nailed son of monkeys and pigs, for these, there is constant forward pressure into the meatgrinder of JCI society. Things of status are sought and warred over, devotion becomes measured by the material. They squander their youth early in a mad rush for adulthood and when they arrive, they have transfusions of bitterness, guilt, and hate to replace all that once was within them.

Nietzsche also spoke of “eternal return,” or the concept that our lives are lived once and a representation of eternity in the human consciousness would be a perpetual cycling of the memories of that life — this vision was offered in direct contrast to the christian vision of a single life followed by an eternal life of stasis in pleasure. In this writing, the battlelines were drawn between those who believed in another world – the dualists – and those who believed the present was all that existed and thus real-world achievements were more important than symbolic or religious assertions. Do you think this is accurate and on which side of the equation do you fall?

SANGUINE: If we reoccur eternally along the same path, with everything up to the revelation being eternally fixed and immutable, would it matter? The transition between cessation and genesis would necessarily cause the memories and experiences of the same former existence to be wiped away; there would be no acknowledgement of what is already known. The burden of such retention would begin to wear upon the bearer to the point that and endless suicide loop could very well mutate. Nature after all abhors not only vacuums, but closed systems. Until it breaks however, it would be fantastic.

WRATH: I would agree this is fairly accurate, discounting the idiots who say, “well I dunno” when confronted with questions about the meaning of life. I fall very strictly into the latter category, in that I believe the only guarantee we have in the course of existence is that we are living on this plane and we have a certain limited amount of time to make the most of it. This is a shared idea within the band, which is why we do things like abandon gainful employment in the name of touring, etc. I believe one simply cannot put a price on life experience.

Do you believe in the soul?

SANGUINE: After a fashion, yes. I also believe in a spirit. I think these are component parts that make humanity somewhat different from other meat. Not better, but different.

Do any higher powers exist for you?

SANGUINE: Sometimes.

There are a great many matrices and states (altered or not, conscious and unconscious) that interconnect and overlap within and without a single human at any given time. At least there are for myself. Think about how often there are three songs playing in your head while you are driving almost from rote while mentally composing an essay or letter and carrying out a conversation, all on three hours of sleep. And you still marvel at sunlight drifting through clouds. There are multiple attitudes and thoughts you have towards a group of people or a single person, friend, enemy that you have when alone. These same orbits change when interacting with that person or when you are part of your own circle. They change again when you are forced into a job and a group of people that you have nothing in common with, save civility. All this to say that there are many levels of existence, the stark material cannot be the sole.

Egalitarianism and the soul are argued by some to be necessarily codependent concepts. can you explain your views on this subject?

SANGUINE: They want all things to be equal because they want everyone’s soul to be equal, important, and matter just as much as everyone else’s. The glorious truth is that not everyone makes an equal contribution, not even those who contribute a great deal, thinking that it is quality not quantity that matters, makes them a “better” person (but only to themselves, not in the sense that they are above anyone else!). The glorious truth is that not everyone matters. The glorious truth is that 5.9 billion souls are in need of immediate harvesting and those that are left will just have to figure out how it really works.

Many have for years stereotyped metalheads to me as angry, socially abusive people obsessed with negativity and rejection, usually from reasons of low self-esteem. Another variant of this behavior is that at a party, often the loudest people are the ones with the greatest need to make their presence known. I never believed this, although I noted many people who fit this description in the metal community; however, it seemed that post-1998 this percentage exploded and most of the smart people attracted by the promise of early modern black metal (1990-1996 Scandinavia) left the genre. Is this consistent with your experience? Why do you think this trend has come about?

WRATH: I wouldn’t say the smart people are all gone, they just have better things to do than argue about Sabbat with tech-school dropouts. I think one of the most damaging aspects to the genre was the way nearly all of the Norwegian front-runner bands managed about two worthwhile albums apiece and then launched into tangential bids for commercial success. Credibility was compromised, populism took hold, and kids who wanted something more radical than mallcore crept in. At this point it seems that we have too many people who were supposed to have been listening to Iron Maiden and playing Dungeons & Dragons coming in and acting as self-appointed authorities on all things black and evil. Most of them are wounded, stupid, aimless, talentless, or all of the aforementioned. Refer to my comments about not qualifying oneself before demanding patronage. This doesn’t apply to the European scene as much — their dead weight is harder to readily identify and a few among them have proven to be ingenious frauds. At least they try harder.

What Texas bands do you enjoy?

SANGUINE: Acerbus and Absu. I also enjoy former greats such as deadhorse, Rigor Mortis and Pain Teens.

Our entire historical cycle comes many years after the fragmentation of the Greco-Roman empires, but if looked at in the whole, is a progression from simple melodic lines to a sense of absolute melodic freedom; if looked at from a meta-level, it is a progression from music being symbolic of an artistic process (e.g. applied in theatre as did the Greeks) to music being symbolic of itself, at which point it communicates nothing other than what is inherent in the notes themselves. Clearly to the Greeks this would have been degenerate; the question is whether the cycle comes around to what they discovered, in which musical devices are fully known and thus the only question is how to use music as a language – which of course, requires the language _describe something_. How do you think black metal fits into this?

WRATH: It seems that much of Black Metal, indeed in the way our band crafts songs, falls into the “dissonant, smaller pieces” category. In our work, the music is definitely treated as language, though I don’t agree that all bands have a handle on this aspect of the creative process and as such we have the degenerate examples of music that is symbolic of itself. It is no coincidence that we are forever asked, “What are your lyrics about? What is the concept about?” Our goal from day one was to commute ideas through musical structures otherwise what is the point? It is not unlike the difference between talking simply to do so or talking to communicate an idea. In Black Metal the wheat is easily separated from the chaff when a band is asked in an interview to discuss their message or intent. When the answer is the standard vulgar, all-capitals diatribe against christians, society, and any band with musical value then it is clear they are not about communicating actual ideas. This is serviceable for the purposes of novelty but it will not endure, nor will it garner the type of audience worth having. I think that at its best Black Metal communicates volumes of ideas, both universal and esoteric. Consider a song like “I am the Black Wizards” and its portent; this genre offers so much opportunity for transcendent ideas and ways to express them. The palette is incredibly broad and thus ideas of alienation, misanthropy, aspiration, passion, hatred, and wonder have been aired in ways unheard of in any other musical form. The important commonality is that all the best bands set out to communicate. Think about Emperor at the end of their career- what is it that they were trying to say then, other than they wanted to cease? The Greeks definitely knew what made art significant, to be sure.

If you could fight in any war, which would it be?

SANGUINE: I am torn between WWII and Vietnam. WWII was the last great war of the old ways; the heroic ideal as I identify it today was at its peak in so far as its iteration in that age. Vietnam is the first modern war and there is still much to be learned from it. Vietnam was the war that reminded Amerika of its guerilla warfare heritage still struggling to implement lessons learned in a recent past. WWII hearkens back to better times; Vietnam can teach lessons for our current paths.

Do you believe the universe created itself, emerged from a precursor state or was synthesized by a mechanism not describable in causal states of any kind thus far known?

SANGUINE: The recent detection of polarized echoes from the Big Bang seem to indicate that the Universe was born out of an indescribable mechanism, however there had to be some sort of existence of the raw potentials for such genesis. Endless feedback and circular scenarios.

What do you think is next for black metal: will it continue on essentially a linear developmental curve, or will it mutate into another genre? Will it ever reclaim its original intensity?

WRATH: That is a truly difficult question. The issue at hand is that there are two undergrounds- the traditional and genuine, and then the loud and posturing popularity contest that has risen to the surface like a bloated corpse. With this disparity in mind, it becomes hard to predict much of anything. Many bands are still holding the banner of the “old ways” high, and these are the bands with whom we align ourselves. Perhaps the illegitimate side will mutate, considering their brand of “black metal” is effectively old death metal and NWOBHM. The simplest way to describe it all is that the underground went back underground, and as such the intensity and passion was never truly lost. It has become more incumbent upon us all to keep the best our genre has to offer away from those who would malign and misappropriate it. These days I hesitate to discuss bands I enjoy in public forums as I fear it further spoon-feeds the novelty-seekers and arrivists.

For some, there are two kinds of art: one that describes or laments the current world, and another that brings forth a heroic spirit of change and/or rearrangement of mental processing through which the user then sees the world. Which of these is your preferred mode of artistic cognition?

SANGUINE: That which inspires transformations within and without. There is too much “art” that is just “there;” purposeless, useless but for the mercy of the meat that embraces it as “valuable.” To them, everything is equal.

Black metal has become redundant both ideologically and musically in recent years. Many would say that ideology, or perhaps the pretentious portrayal of a facade, has become more important to black metal musicians than injecting the true spirit of their unique perceptions into the raw force of music that they craft. Do you believe that this is true, and if so, to what do you attribute this decline?

WRATH: I would say this is as true as not. That is a slippery idea because it is subjective. Some bands present with concepts and music that demonstrate their lack of understanding, but at the same time they believe in it so would that count as a facade? My standing complaint is that only a small portion of bands bother to fully understand the nature of the art before forming their own bands and then propagating their mistaken interpretations. Sanguine and I were metalheads since the mid-80s and still we took our time in forming Averse Sefira because we wanted to do it right and not have an early career that was riddled with missteps. So in regards to this decline you mention it seems that the urgency of getting on the bandwagon is probably the biggest culprit.

The song structure of your music often bears similarities to the thematic writing of classical composers. Do you enjoy classical and romanticist composers, and how do they influence your work?

We enjoy it very much. Classical music was some of the first music to which I ever actively listened, starting at about age three. Sanguine is actually an even more avid fan than I, and he attends concerts regularly (which is something I need to get back to doing myself). He also listens to a lot of film soundtracks that have orchestral arrangements. Beethoven, Wagner, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, and Mozart are all part of our musical landscape. Much of our arrangements, particularly on the last two albums, have been written with this paradigm in mind. It seems that black metal draws upon classical much more than other forms of extreme music.

I have read in past interviews that your albums “Homecoming’s March” and “Battle’s Clarion” form a complex narration of mysticism inspired by material found in Kabbalic mythology. The albums seemed to interpret the exile of certain sefira from the realm of god, who rebelled against their creator in the ultimate act of attaining freedom (correct me if I am dead wrong on this). To be honest, I have yet to discover how “Tetragrammatical Astygmata “and “Advent Parallax” fit into this plot line. Do these albums continue the conceptual leanings of your early releases?

Interesting question, I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. For one interpretation of the first two albums, I don’t think you’re wrong. Initially, all the albums were to fall under an umbrella of themes, with multiple trails of thought weaving together (linked together songs, placement of songs, embedded shallow numerology) to allow every song to have a place in a “correct order.” As evolution has occurred, progression taken place and gateways passed through, old forms have been shed in favor of a refinement of original purpose.

Conceptually, the key themes from the first two albums are the same as the key themes of the latter two albums, just dressed differently. Creation springs from destruction in an endless cycle until the cycle is broken. The celestial becomes the terrestrial as the flesh melts away and becomes spirit. The “I” at whatever level of consciousness(es), must come to grips with the process of change and the consequences of transformation. Shaatialn.

Whereas “Tetragrammatical Astygmata” found beauty in the roar of the infernal; the dissonance seems to have been restrained upon “Advent Parallax”. However, the anthemic melodies paint broader strokes, and are much more pronounced. Was this a calculated progression, or did the change occur naturally?

The vibrations of “Tetragrammatical Astygmata” reflected the flesh while describing the spirit. “Advent Parallax” vibrates the spirit while reflecting the flesh. There was hidden purpose in the intertwining of these frequencies, a purpose not yet revealed. There was a natural calculation that produced progression. It’s all part of chasing the dragon. The dragon is either caught and the last seal of understanding is broken and there is nothing left to accomplish or the pursuer is broken in the pursuit, devoured by the dragon and there is nothing left to accomplish. In the end, there is only the void. Only death is real. Thyapihlon.

What particular forces introduced you to the metal genre, and what were your initial reactions to it?

I was driven by “the noise inside my head” as Sanguine has always called it. I started at post-infancy with a fixation on bombastic classical music and Alice Cooper (more for his aesthetic than anything else) and then moved on to progressively louder and scarier things. Actually, I was still very young when Motley Crue broke out with “Shout at the Devil”, and I flatly rejected it because they looked like ugly girls and it struck me as gross and stupid. Thrash and proto-death/black reached me more immediately, however, and so I quickly became an adherent to all the well-known acts like Sodom, Celtic Frost, Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Voivod, etc. Right about this time I realized that this music was all I really ever wanted out of life. It was not just music but a way of being. I have a lot more to show for myself than just metal, but without it my reality would be a much blander and unexciting one.

Several people seem to recognize that the filth of the human race is clogging the pores of our land, and in effect devouring the environment at an agonizing pace. How do you feel about environmental concerns, and those who advocate major change in order to stabilize the planet? Also, do you feel a deeper bond with nature than most around you?

Eliminating two-thirds of humankind from the globe would be a good start. I myself refuse to breed and I wish more people felt the same. I have an appreciation for nature, yes, though I would be lying if I said I had a deeper bond. I spend most of my time in cities as this is where most of my necessary doings occur.

A splurge question, if I may. Reality is said to be the perception of your surroundings through your senses. However, the same stimulus can be interpreted in a vastly different manner by the individual than that of their peers. Do you believe that what the senses experience is subjective, that these experiences define reality, and if so, how do you believe one must measure the validity of their actions?

I suppose due to our exploration of metaphysics Averse Sefira invites many existential questions. I believe in the idea of a consensus reality where everyone can agree on certain perceptions that are known to be true- the sky is blue, the sun is hot, we need air to breathe, etc. Of course past this consensus there are many vastly different realities in which people live, some to their own delusion and detriment. But I would not agree that reality is wholly subjective any more than its governing factors of time and space.

In conclusion, are there any particular words of wisdom or notification that you would like to impart upon your fans who frequent this website?

I’ll take the opportunity to announce that “Advent Parallax” will soon be out on LP through The Ajna Offensive. Support this excellent label. Also, www.josasmith.com is where one should go to see the works of Jos A. Smith, as his work adorns the cover of “Advent Parallax”.

The Egyptian Culture is an embodiment of care – which is the spiritual counterpoise of distance – care for the future expressed in the choice of granite or basalt as the craftsman’s materials, in the chiselled archives, in the elaborate administrative system, in the net of irrigation works.

Contrast with this the fact, symbolically of the highest importance and unparalleled in art-history, that the Hellenes, thought they had before their eyes the works of the Mycenaen Age and their land was only too rich in stone, deliberately reverted to wood; hence the absence of architectural remains of the period 1200-600. The Egyptian plant-column was from the outset of stone, whereas the Doric column was wooden, a clear indication of the intense antipathy of the Classical soul towards duration.

– Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West

All photos copyright © Averse Sefira and Noektrymn.de.

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Drug use in heavy metal

This article is the screed on drugs in heavy metal which I wish someone had handed to me when I was less experienced. Specifically, it is not what I did get handed, which was propaganda from either side. The conservative side, namely all those who believed society still had a culture and values in common, said “don’t do drugs” but couldn’t explain why, resorting to shock tactics that made you think the instant you puffed a joint you’d die; when that didn’t happen, the whole house of cards fell apart and all their propaganda actually inverted in value. The leftist side, comprised of all Hollywood and entertainment figures and most of my teachers, said that drugs wouldn’t hurt you and it was a lifestyle choice, do it if you want.

Neither gave what was needed: an accurate depiction of how drugs are used, and the effects both long-term and short-term. Metal emerged from popular music, borrowing the instrumentation and roles of rock music, which is commercial society’s way of inducting teenagers into adult consumerist life: define yourself by buying things. As a result, it inherits the ego-mania and external focus of rock music, which includes people rebelling by taking drugs. There are also some who take some drugs for the “mind liberation” capabilities ascribed to those substances. However, most are just trying to grow up, and for them partying, sex, and learning to be a consumer are vital nodal points in that process.

Much as defining ourselves through external adornments is a problem for metal, as it encourages dishonest promotion of crap music, defining ourselves by drug use is also an error. If you approach the drug question, do so from a clarity of mind. It will not make you cool or uncool. It will not reveal the secrets of the universe, but will also not obscure them. It will not clarify your philosophical positions, but also will not muddy them. It is like anything else, a detail that without corresponding architectonic details, remains without context and with minor influence on your life, excepting biological impact.

First, we should look at drug use as character definition, and next consider the biological factors.

Most people who approach the drug issue will try to convince you that it’s like religious people versus atheism, or conservatives versus liberals. You either believe the world has an objective purpose, and so you’re against drugs, or you’re with the chaos, freedom, individualism, irony and rebellion program, and you believe life has no purpose except whatever you decide to make of it. While most people fit into these categories, we must remember that categories are imposed, and that they describe one trait of multiples rather than a single, objectively-defining trait. So you’ve got NSBM fans smoking pot and liberal straight-edgers. Drug use does not define your political identity.

Furthermore, it only marginally influences your social prestige. I’d estimate that most drug users at college are secretly insecure and socially-awkward people who see drug use, like politics or flagrant sexuality, as a way to gain more social power. You start smoking dope and you have an instant social group. But a social group of confused people in transition is probably not going to last, nor will you get over your fears of your social abilities. Further, some of the most popular people at colleges neither take drugs nor drink. They merely socialize. More power to them for taking the direct route to the answer they needed.

Finally, it will not create character for you. If you romanticize the derangement of the senses, remember that drugs cannot teach you what you need to know to appreciate derangement of the senses, and uneducated intoxication is basically just being wasted. It will not make you into William S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Jim Morrison or Paul Ledney. You do not automatically embark on a Journey to the End of the Night because you laid hands on some drugs. That’s a reversed logic consumerist mentality, where purchasing the tool makes you a user of it. You wouldn’t expect to become Andres Segovia just by buying an expensive guitar, would you? Neither should you expect drugs to make your character for you.

But mostly, when thinking of the external effects of drugs, think like a metalhead. Other than biological factors, it’s not going to do anything of substance (no pun intended) for you or against you. It’s going to be another experience. Do you want this experience? If you have doubts, I urge you to cherish your innocence. Stay in a world where hallucinations only occur when you have a fever, and where your most urgent need is food or a bathroom. Innocence keeps cynicism about life itself at bay and helps you see the potential in the wholesome, simple and ever-present joys of life, like family and having some career, hobby or calling that fulfills you. Losing innocence and gaining cynicism distances you from that potential, or at least delays it by what looks to me (anecdotally) as a decade at a minimum. If you have innocence, and like your life, and have a decent grasp of philosophy, there is nothing drugs will teach you except to lose a little bit of that innocence.

Biologically, drugs are a mixed bag. Injecting clean heroin with a clean needle and doing a good job of it will cause you zero health problems, literally. Marijuana leaves more resin in your lungs but that resin departs more easily than the gluey tobacco resin that can helpfully bond cancers into your tissues. Cocaine makes your heart race and you might forget to eat, but unless you go hog-wild, you’re probably going to be OK. LSD may fry brain cells; it appears to vary between individuals. MDMA/Ecstasy and methamphetamine clearly do fry brain cells in everyone.

Many anti-drug pamphlets talk about the secondary problems of drugs, like you deciding to peddle your genitals/ass in order to buy more, or committing crimes, or arrest, or the people you’re going to hang around with. These are biological consequences as well, and while we can be witty moderns and divorce our consideration of these from consideration of drugs, I think that’s illusory. Drugs become part of a lifestyle. If you take something regularly, you have to be able to afford it and to find someone to sell it to you, so it’s at the very least like taking on a hobby. It will take time to do correctly. You may go to jail and be sodomized. If you are very susceptible to addictive substances, recognize that the instant you go into debt and can’t stop taking the substance, you are either going to become a drug dealer or prostitute. It happens every day and while some escape, they’re never the same again. More than denting their innocence, they’ve fractured it. You see a lot of people who end up alone, in their 40s and 50s, stringy and somewhat blown out, because of their hard-partying lifestyles. Are you ready to commit to that future? If you’re still thinking maybe you’d like to have something other than a drug or lifestyle choice be what fulfills you, be wary.

Many musicians will note this fact: drugs have destroyed more careers than they’ve enhanced. For every pothead Kurt Cobain or Jimi Hendrix, there are 4,096 guys who can play guitar really well but between working at Wal-Mart, affording drugs and staying out of jail, they never managed to launch that career. Oh well — drugs will teach you quickly that life doesn’t give a damn if you blow your brains out or go invent a cure for cancer. You are the only one in the driver’s seat, much like humanity is the only master of its fate, and you are the only one who can make that choice for good or ill. Life is like an open field. You will walk through and feel just fine, even if your next step is coming down on a mine or you’re about to have the time of your life. Fun things can be destructive. Miserable things can be rewarding. And vice versa. There are no simple rules here except pay attention to the obvious: drugs will take time, effort, and will make social and biological changes to your life. If your goal is to be a musician, you probably want to spend that time practicing instead.

All of that being said, what is the role of drugs in metal? This is unclear and like the debate over atheism/agnosticism, can never be proven. Some of metal’s most powerful people, like Suffocation and Morbid Angel, launched their careers in a haze of drugs — but they also worked very hard to get where they are. Others, like Dave Mustaine, got kicked out of better bands (Metallica) for violent alcoholism and then spent the next ten years doing insane amounts of dangerous drugs, to the detriment of their careers and personal lives. Metal people have lost girlfriends, wives, band members and friends because their drug habits were more important than other aspects of their lives. They have also made great art when their music was more important than their drug habits and other aspects of their lives.

In the 1980s, many metalheads and metal bands were enamored of methamphetamine (crystal meth, speed). Twenty years later, we can see the negative consequences clearly. Any time you run into someone missing front teeth — speedy drugs, like a huge dose of caffeine, make your mind “speed up” and so reality goes more quickly and seems more easy to master, leading to enhanced ego and loss of fear; however, a consequence is that you grind your teeth — who has trouble sleeping through a night and possibly has very tough, almost bleached skin, you’ve run into one of these meth experiments. Meth fries brain cells and specifically roasts serotonin receptors, making it difficult to maintain energy or a state of rest. After seeing early casualties, many metalheads switched to cocaine, which is safer but can make you behave like a personal injury lawyer. Of note is that each generation has to re-learn this knowledge. In the 1960s, speed casualties were well-known, but the only people who talked about drugs were either cops or those who kept taking drugs. The cops were ignored because they became propagandists, and those who kept taking drugs were hard-pressed to say bad things about drugs as a genre. Your generation, whenever it is, will also suffer for a lack of information because your peers will be too lazy to look up and parse any actual information and will prefer propaganda, because it fits what they want to hear.

The stereotype of metalheads since the black metal days has been of people who do not take drugs, or if they do, limit themselves to smoking marijuana and drinking beer. From a biological perspective, this is not a big strain on your body. Alcohol is probably the more dangerous of the two. While marijuana can disrupt your ability to have a regular appetite, mess with your hormones a bit, and possibly make you a bit lazy, it’s also unlikely to do anything more than that. Cognitive slowdowns reverse when use is discontinued, and your lungs clean up rapidly. Whether for these reasons or for the wide variation in use, from a simple buzz to a complex hallucination, marijuana seems preferred by hessians. Anecdotally, the best hallucinations I have experienced have been from high doses of marijuana in a clear mind, usually bolstered by caffeine and a small amount of tobacco in the bong. LSD hallucinations are more mechanical and while psilocybin produces the most intense hallucinations, they are often incoherent, like watching a television channel tuned to the neurotic chaos of someone caught between worlds. Marijuana could be considered two different drugs, from the different strains (“races”) of marijuana: the more body-intensive sativa, and the more mind-intensive indica. Everywhere I have been where there have been hessians, marijuana consumption has been occurring.

Yet on the flip side, a good many metalheads will have nothing to do with any drugs, including alcohol and cigarettes. It’s harder to find examples here because people who don’t need drugs rarely shout out loud about it. However, if bands like Immolation and Burzum appeal to you, you know of powerful metal acts that avoided drugs entirely. If you think clearly from cause to effect, you will realize that to achieve transcendent states of mind or be good at your instruments, you must go through certain thought processes. Even if drugs aid these, the fact is that they must happen in your mind, and since your mind exists without drugs, you can make them happen without drugs — and you don’t incur the slowdowns of hangovers, buying drugs, dodging cops, getting anally violated in jail, etc. If you think backward, you see someone else taking drugs and then succeeding, and as a result assume that the drugs caused the success, when there’s only a marginal correlation, since five hundred of his buddies are still living in dingy apartments, high as lords but no further along in what would really fulfill them in life, such as having a band of artistic prominence even if unnoticed by most people.

The question of drugs for a new metalhead is complicated in the USA and Europe by the near-complete breakdown of the family. If you’re lucky enough to have two parents consistently, they’re busy working — and when they’re home, they launch into escapism like TV, mass religion, buying stuff, and the kind of useless but well-meaning projects that only dying wealthy nations can invent. With role models like that, drugs appear to be an alternate form of this escapism, and so seem palatable not only because they’re rebellious but also because they are a parentally-sanctioned behavior.

As mentioned above, you get either a pro-drug message or an anti-drug message, because the messager wants the problem — the question of whether drugs are good, whether they’re controlling you, whether you’ll give a damn — to just go away, and so they concoct some statement that because it seems simple, appears to a be a highest level abstraction of the question, but is in fact just a partial truth. Highest level abstractions are things like “the universe re-organizes energy and matter to produce information, allowing it to become more efficient and thus grow” but partial truths are things like “don’t masturbate because it’ll put hair on your palms.”

Parents in this day and age, beset by doubt and swarmed with bad data from careers and politics and a dysfunctional culture, want to tell you something simple and get the problem off their desks. It’s our shame as a culture that when kids ask — or indirectly ask, by probing, which allows an adolescent to preserve aloofness while getting answers — for vital information on drugs, sex, etc. that parents in lieu of analyzing the issue give them some pithy half-truth that’s the epistemological equivalent of FUCK OFF.

And sometimes, drugs are the answer. Anyone who tells you that marijuana is not a blast is probably on the cheap drugs. Clearly mushrooms are more shamanistic than fun. In the right context, either drug can be a conduit to some useful revelations. On the other hand, that conduit isn’t needed. Music can sound awesome under the influence of marijuana; on the converse, bad music can sound a lot more awesome than it is. Many of us have in the past loved our drugs, but as time went on, we observed how many people around us lost momentum to their lives because they were focused on the method of feeling good, instead of building the structure to their lives that made them feel good. Method of feeling good = jogging or taking drugs; building the structure to life that makes goodfeel = accomplishment, family, learning, discipline, spirituality, eternal things that change how you choose to spend your time and the results of it. Feelgood methods are palliative care, or addressing symptoms without finding a way to hit the cause. Re-structuring life can change some of the cause (you can’t change the fact you live in a dying time when idiots rule). It’s the same mistake parents, teachers and cops make when they assume kids take drugs and become possessed by evil, when the more complex and less popular truth is that kids get bored and ape their parents’ own detachment from reality, but use drugs, and that’s the possession of evil. First comes alienation with life, then comes compensation (a form of cognitive dissonance not unlike morality): if I can’t enjoy life, I can make my brain happy with drugs, and maybe that will “be enough.”

There’s a parallel to life here. If we make our primary goal to avoid conflict as someone might get hurt, we have to compromise ideals to include everyone’s divergent opinion, so we don’t initiate conflict with them. This means we always get the lowest common denominator in every situation. If we make our primary goal into our primary goal, which is the achievement of some act or another, we will come into conflict with others but will get a fuller, more complete vision of whatever it is we’re trying to accomplish. Drugs are in a way like conflict avoidance: instead of facing life warts and all, we lubricate it with alcohol or drugs or cigarettes, and make it more palatable. But in turn, this obscures from us what we really find fascinating and troubling in life, and so like kids on antidepressants, we miss the lows and then later find out we missed the highs. Much later, as Paul Di’Anno of Iron Maiden found out after he left the band due to drug problems and only a decade later got his head on straight to find his career had passed him by.

As far as metal culture: does it endorse drug use? Metal culture endorses realism. That’s the point, not some pithy partial truth to make you feel better.

Christian Holocaust Dope Brownies

Ingredients

1 egg
1 cup milk
1.5 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 sticks butter
7/8 ounce Cannabis Sativa (about $120 for quality)
1/8 ounce Cannabis Indica (about $60 for quality)
1/2 tsp baking soda

Ghee

Put butter in medium saucepan and heat until thoroughly melted. Stir, remove from heat, and let sit for a half hour (use this time to prepare marijuana). There will be sticky, gummy stuff on the top, silty gunk on the bottom, and clean oil in the middle. Skim off the gunk, pour the oil into a clean container, and dump the silt over the balcony. Clean saucepan and pour oil into it, then heat to medium. De-seed and de-stem the Sativa and grind or food process it into the smallest bits imaginable. Generally, dry Indica (portions of older bags: ask roommates) is best; remove stems and reduce to powder. Put Indica and Sativa in heated oil and keep it on low medium, stirring regularly but not frequently, for another half-hour. Your oil will now be green. Some like to remove the vegetable material of the weed at this point, but it is not necessary.

Batter

Dump sugar into the heated pot-ghee. Stir in carefully until melted. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa powder, then when mixture is cool, blend in the egg. Add flour and milk, stir, then add baking soda. Stir thoroughly, as distributing this baking soda is how you get fluffy brownies that don’t have pockets of bitter taste. When mixture is uniform, place in 9×12 inch pan greased with butter.

Cook

Pre-heat oven to 350 (generally, a light goes on when heating, and the first time it goes off after you’ve heated the oven means it’s ready). Slide in the pan on the middle rail, so to enable convection, and cook for twenty to twenty-five minutes. You will have to estimate here, as some batches in some ovens take longer or shorter. When a knife inserted into the brownies comes out clean (no sticky black gunk on it) you know the brownies are thoroughly cooked. Remove and serve (a dozen is optimal dosage).

It is advisable to have nothing planned for the rest of the day. The experience is like a very subtle version of a half-hit of acid or half-ounce of quality psilocybin mushrooms.

How to take a bong hit

Rips are a Jamaican invention that combines the European fondness for smoking dope with tobacco for the hippie fondness of using a bong. They originated, ironically, in the rave community where people sought a greater high. California college students revolutionized the bong by using it not for slow inhalation but for a tightly-packed wad of smoke taken quickly, which maximizes the impact of the high by making it come on more quickly. Jamaican slow-smoking, when adapted to this practice, equals a rip.

Requirements

2 ft glass bong
.3g Cannabis Indica (do not use street Sativa)
.1g quality tobacco (from British not American cigarettes)

Pulverize your indica and mix the tobacco in the smallest shreds possible with it. For beginners, “blonde” or light-colored tobacco is recommended. Pack all of this in the bowl. If bong does not have fresh water, use fresh cool but not cold water. To ignite this, you’re going to need something that produces a large powerful flame, preferrably burning wood. If you use a match, use kitchen matches and burn them off while rotating them for about two seconds to make sure you get none of the sulfur in your hit.

Stages of a Rip

  1. FillingMove the burning match over the bowl in a circular motion while inhaling slowly and steadily. You want to use as little of your lung capacity as possible. You are drawing a slow draft of air, slow like doom metal, through the weed to get it ablaze and to fill the tube of the bong with densely compacted smoke.
  2. RippingTake a deep breath on top of whatever smoke you’ve already taken, then exhale completely. Remove the bowl or onstop the carb and inhale that compacted tower of smoke in a single breath, under a second in length (you should not pause more than three seconds between filling the tube and ripping it; the smoke gets stale and harsh). With any remaining lung capacity, take in fresh air, and then hold the hit for a full three seconds. Exhale completely. Watch clocks melt and fish fly, etc.

Preparing Yourself

If you are not a weekend partier but a psychedelic warrior, try this: get caught up on your sleep, and sleep at least eight hours. Get up early on a sunny day. Pour yourself a large glass (1 liter) of water, and down it. Have a healthy breakfast (actually, fortified cereal is the best: large amounts of B-series vitamins), and then munching down some candied ginger. Then drink 2-4 cups of the stiffest coffee you can stand. Next, knuckle shot (quickly drink) a pony of hard liquor, preferrably vodka. Finally, drink another large tumbler of water and run around the block. Your blood will be thin and moving quickly, your brain will be bolstered by caffeine and alcohol, and your general health will support you as you venture on this journey. To cap it off, retreat to a safe, comfortable, familiar place, munch 1 mushroom cap if you have it, and then take 5-10 rips in rapid succession as described above. During the most formative years of my life, I often began days this way.

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