Beherit renews black metal with “Celebrate the Dead”

After a new genre establishes itself, bands try to stand out by either mixing other genres into their music or to expand upon the original idea, increasing its complexity and depth.

Beherit launches itself into this conflict first with the triumphant Engram, which connected the generations of black metal in a concept album that paid tribute to the past while evolving it into a new form, and now with the fertile landscape of ideas Celebrate the Dead.

This vinyl release contains two songs, a version of “Demon Advance” which is mostly faithful to the version on Engram. Some areas have less distortion, and the overall sound is a bit more raw and offhand, which gives this track a slightly different atmosphere.

“Celebrate the Dead” is another story. This lengthy (16:18) track shows Beherit experimenting with a fusion between ambient music, electro-acoustic, black metal and classical forms. Like most artists of statute, the composers behind Beherit know how to separate aesthetics (surface) from composition (structure and melody). As a result, while this track is a blueprint for an ambient or dubstep song played as if it were a metal one, it reaches for the greater objective of finding a mutual language among these music types.

While popular music (pop, rock, rap, blues, jazz, disco) songs vary wildly on the surface they rely on very similar underlying structures. These structures are based on cycles, or the back-and-forth between a verse and a chorus with a few detours to keep it interesting. The purpose of music in these genres is to equalize song structure so that surface traits, like using a flute or recording underwater, stand out and become interesting.

In narrative music (metal, classical, some ambient, electronica and electro-acoustic acts) the surfaces tend to be similar across songs and albums, but underlying song structure changes to fit the topic of each song. Riffs expand upon the context of previous riffs and force re-interpretation of both, expanding the storyline just as how each new clue in a mystery changes the direction of the book.

These are more like poems than cyclic sonic wallpaper or droning consistency; in fact what makes them great is that they’re inconsistent and based on change, not maintenance of a moment. This fits with the purpose of these genres, which is to show a change in character through the course of a journey or experience, so that the starting point is different from the end, and the people involved have a new strength or vision. They emphasize the difference between the start of a journey and its end, but also the many different types of journeys.

“Celebrate the Dead” shows Beherit deciding how to integrate these two types. It wants the ritual power of black metal and its own vision of occult dubstep or electro-acoustic ceremonial music, but with the ambient version comes a dose of the cyclic and layered that excludes the narrative. Beherit tries to keep the sense of the unique journey which is inherent to black metal, and enwrap it in the layered ambient approach, and as a result produces music that is every bit as much ritual as early black metal.

The song migrates through three major movements, in which pairs of riffs transfer potential energy between each other as layers of drums, vocals, samples and keyboards are applied to build an intense tapestry of hanging sound, complete with sonic breaks and metal-style interludes. The result is a deepening experience but in its non-linearity it loses the epic power of metal’s ability to tell a tale, which is what Beherit changed with their music for the Engram LP. On that album, the narrative wins out and the layering circular style is brought in slowly.

This is rough listening. In part because this is a demo of the laptop-and-guitar type, which means that it’s not so much an organic sound as a pastiche of recorded and generated sounds. However, what will throw most people off are the vocals which are fragile and yet shamanistic, in what music reviewers call “accessible” but is more likely an experiment in the deliberately immature, unformed and intellectually curious sound that diverse musicians such as Roky Erickson and Absurd have made popular. These are the anti-slick, and while hipster pop has ruined “accessible,” their child-like honesty gives them a weight that no polished vocal could achieve.

What is most impressive about this release is that it is a pathway to future development for metal. The best of the genre, like the first Enslaved album or the longer Burzum works, tended toward a type of ambient music that used guitars but did not fall into the loop-pattern of popular music, instead preferring the epic storytelling of metal and classical. Black metal backed down from the challenge offered by albums like Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and instead became a plaything, a hybrid of either indie-rock (“post-black-metal”) or a darker form of punk (“black crust”,”war metal”).

Beherit turned black metal back toward a sensible path with Engram, which cited forms and styles from the past (some in tribute to Venom and Bathory, from the sound of them) but worked those into a concept album that ended in the meditative “Demon Advance.” To include the ambitious “Celebrate the Dead” in the same album might have made it lopsided, but in this sample track we see a possibility of metal guitars and dynamic acoustics existing in a narrative style.

This release will not make it past the enthusiasts and diehards who are curious about what the most fertile minds in black metal are thinking for the future. This is a shame, as all metal musicians should study this work to find a pathway out of the current rock-style slump that grips metal, and also to find a new inspiration for connection to the ancient ways of both metal and music from time immemorial.

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The Dark End metal show

DJ Cherrysthorne brings you the Dark End metal show and The Metal Trip show every week at the following times:

  • The DarkEnd Metal Show ( Tuesdays 7-9pm EST)
    Thrash, speed, power, doom, black thrash and all kinds of 80’s metal
  • The Metal Trip Show ( Mondays 10-Midnight EST)
    Atmospheric ambient metal, progressive rock and metal, and very dark doom.

Listen to Core of Destruction radio via javascript or winamp MP3 stream.

If you want your band or advertisement on the show, mail to:

CherrysThorne
501 Omar Drive
Killeen, TX 76542
cherrysthorne -at- gmail.com

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Interview: Ray Miller (Adversary/Metal Curse)

Some people exist as unsung pillars of the underground, and Ray Miller of death metal band Adversary is one of them. First, he started up a zine called Metal Curse that is widely regarded as one of the few quality death metal magazines extant today; next, he began selling death and black metal through his label Cursed Productions, which has also released quality demo compilations from bands such as Varathron and Deceased. Finally, he’s in a death metal band called Adversary which could be described as a more late-night-radio American version of Asphyx. We caught up with him at his country villa in Chingadosmujeres, Mexico, as the first shots of a revolution rang out in the street.

When did ADVERSARY begin?
Just a little over five years ago, in May of 1994. Jack Botos (guitar) and I are two of the original founding members. Our drummer, Bob Burns, is fairly new – he’s been damned with us for about a year-and-a-half.

What’s the distribution of the creative work in songwriting, lyrics, artwork, and concept/pot smoking?
Anyway, in the beginning we had another guitarist, Thom Benford, and he wrote a couple riffs back then. But since he quit (before our first demo was released), Jack and I have written all the music and lyrics. However, when Ed was still in the band (on keyboards and drum programming – before we had a human drummer, of course), he created all the drum and keyboard arrangements. How that would work is that Jack or I would present some riffs, or sometimes a “complete” song (the riffs in the “right” order – we sort of tweaked stuff a lot as we worked on it, so a “finished” song would probably still mutate somewhat), and Ed would listen to us play it a few times and get some ideas.

Then we’d record the riffs on my 4-track, and Ed would work out the programming at home, and at the next practice maybe have something we could play along with. Now that Bob is in the band, we just show him a riff, and he starts playing behind it. Right before Ed quit (he got married…), he had written a few really great riffs for a new song, but we decided to not use them after he left. Not that we parted on bad terms, or anything of the sort.

metal curse magazine has been a longstanding feature of the black and death metal undergroundAs far as the artwork goes for the band, it’s been different on every release. On our new demo-CD, We Must Be In Hell, Bob brought over few books of photos and paintings, and we basically swiped one. I altered the colors and so on, and did the actual layout myself. I’ve done CD packaging designs for a few underground labels, in addition to my own releases on Cursed Productions.

I also publish a zine called Metal Curse, and Bob has done 99% of the art for that for the last several issues.

Concept… Well, I suppose our general sound was more or less my idea, being inspired by “simple” Death Metal such as MASSACRE, ASPHYX, (early) GRAVE, UNLEASHED, IMPETIGO, (early) DEATH, AUTOPSY, and onward into countless others. Of course Jack has done his fair share (or more) to shape our sound since. And now, with Bob, we have the added power of human drumming, but we have also lost our keyboards.

So, I suppose our sound is almost constantly evolving, but still hopefully memorable Death Metal. If that’s what you mean by “concept” at all…

As for pot smoking, I leave that to Jack. I don’t smoke, or even drink unless it’s a “special occasion.” So, Jack gets my share. Bob has been known to partake every now and then, too.

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to teach him to hold in higher regard those who think alike than those who think differently.
– F.W. Nietzsche

adversary are a band of much potential in the old school simple doomy death metal style, like an american asphyx with Are you guys touring?
I wish! That’s exactly what we would love to do, but Cursed Productions is too small to support it. That’s one of the reasons we would like to get signed to a larger label: So we can go out and see the world. And the sluts, of course. We do have some shows lined up during the summer, and there is a really slim possibility of us going to Brazil to play some shows with some bands (NERVOCHAOS and INSANITY) on Muvuca Records.

What kind of instruments do you play, and why?
I have a Washburn bass, and a Fender Bassman amp. I like my Washburn because it does not have all that “active electronics” bullshit. It’s old, but I’m attached to it. And speaking of old, my Bassman is nice and fuzzy, and I really like that sound. I think it adds a lot more depth to our live sound than a clean bass tone would. However, when we recorded our debut album, _The Winter’s Harvest_, I was talked into plugging directly into the board, and got a really clear “Steve Harris” kind of sound. That works pretty well for IRON MAIDEN, but I think it made the album sound more “clean” than it should have. Well, and the keyboards and drum machine also added to the “clean” sound… Believe me, I learned my lesson about that, and will stick with my “warm” Bassman sound form now on.

Jack has had a couple different guitars over the years, and he just got a new one. I think he may finally be satisfied with the guitar, but now he’s looking for a bigger, meaner amp.

And my drum knowledge is pathetic, so all I know about Bob’s kit, is that it’s like nuclear explosions going off whenever he hits the snare.

Do you feel it matters, or matters only for aesthetic (“sound” quality, texture, timbre, “feel”) qualities?
What else would it matter? Just to be like B.B. King and his beloved guitar? No, I’m not that attached to any equipment I own, so if I could afford to get a bass and amp that I thought sounded better, I would. But “sounding better” is obviously extremely subjective, and after many years of using this same gear (I’ve had it and been in bands for a lot longer than ADVERSARY has been around), I guess I’m so used to it, that I’m not sure what would sound better. So, maybe I *am* a little like B.B. after all.

The Christian resolution to make the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.
– F.W. Nietzsche

What are you guys like outside of the band? Do you suffer under the Judeo-Christian pestilence known as “day jobs”? Tattoos? Historical heroes?
Bob and Jack do have “day jobs,” but my full time job is running my label, Cursed Productions. It may seem odd, but none of us have any tattoos. I think we may be the only ink-free Death Metal band in the world! I’m not sure I really have any heroes other than the guys in MOTORHEAD. And, as my pal Psycho would say, “the guy who invented lesbian pornography.”

scheitan is the hebrew/jewish god known as adversary, and is the ancestor of the morally sanitized christian satanIs the ADVERSARY eponym an identification with Satan, the “adversary” of ancient Hebrew religion?
YES! Thank you. You are exactly the second person to ever ask me that. I had thought it was odd that no one had snatched up the name before us, but I guess not many people understand what it means.

What do you see as the difference between Jewish, Christian, Islamic and Buddhist views of “evil”/”suffering”?
I’m not really well enough versed in Islam and Buddhism to answer that. So, what I’ll do instead is say that mainstream (x-tian at least) religions seem to think that a lot of natural behavior should be considered “evil,” and that seems crazy to me. Fucking, well that’s evil. Killing, no matter what the situation, that’s evil too.

What forms of art, ideas, or actions inspired the inception of your artwork?
Early Death Metal, of course. But also other music, such as MOTORHEAD, VENOM, SLAYER (I believe that you consider them to be a Death Metal band, but that’s open to debate, if you ask me), ACCEPT, DEAD KENNEDYS… Non mainstream music in general. And I suppose that honestly, everything I’ve ever heard has inspired me in some way. Maybe not always in a positive way, though. I also read whenever I can, and have certainly been inspired by the authors I like, such as Charles Bukowski, Henry Miller, Vladimir Nabokov, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, William S. Burroughs, Douglas Adams, to name just a very, very few. Plus, as geeky as it might sound, Godzilla movies. I’ve always been a huge fan (excepting the dismal TriStar attempt of last summer) of Godzilla and his monstrous pals. And, horror movies. Zombies, especially, seem to grab my interest. I appreciate the special effects, and I suppose like the thrill.

Do you consider your music a form of “art” (the academic definition, not the trendy one)?
Certainly.

What motive inspires your art?
To create something that will outlast us.To, in sort of a Shakespearean sense, live forever. The hope that someday we might be a source of inspiration for others to creatively express what they feel.And to one day take over for MOTORHEAD as the best, most respected, band in the world.

Or maybe just to meet chicks and take over the world.

drugs are a lot of fun, but they can TAKE OVER YOUR LIFE... be carefulDo you think drugs help/hinder art?
I can’t really answer that, since I don’t use any drugs. But I do think that drugs can be used as a tool to possibly help with creativity. However, they can also be detrimental. As I said, I think they’re a tool, and should be used as such, if at all.

Does religion help/etc?
Well, it sure seems like a lot of Extreme Metal bands these days rely on religious (or more accurately, anti-religious) themes in their lyrics, so I guess it helps them in that way. I think that organized religion is a great way to oppress and control the masses, so it “helps” us by giving us a focus on one of society’s problems: it’s easier to be a sheep than to accept responsibility for your own actions, think for yourself, and be your own person.

Of course, x-tian religions love to censor everything they can, from books to thoughts, so in that way, that kind of religion clearly hinders the creative process.

“They train them to drop fire on men… But they won’t let them write the word FUCK on their aeroplanes… Becuase it’s obscene!”
-Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now!

Violence?
I don’t know if violence has any affect on art, but I suppose that as a society becomes more and more violent, the art it as a whole produces will reflect that.

Television?
Most of what’s on broadcast television is extremely dumbed down, so that even the most idiotic Joe Sixpack will understand it, so generally I see TV as sort of a filter that removes most of what is interesting about life. Even worse when a movie is butchered so that it can be “safely” shown without “offending” anyone.

In your personal lives, how do you understand and respond to the presence of corporate control and material need?
Of course you do need to pay the bills, and obviously I like music and books, so I do my best to bring in cash, and spend it just as well. It would be nice to not have to worry about huge companies like Blockbuster having more than a little control in determining the content of the movies they carry, or Meijer driving all the mom and pop grocery stores out of business, but when faced with the decision of having enough to eat if I get the shit at Meijer, or going hungry from trying to support a local store, I must choose to eat.

What do you think of “jobs”?cursed productions has released many underground works and continues to operate as a death metal label and mail order of great promise
I don’t like them. I am lucky enough to be able to make a very modest living at doing something that I enjoy (Cursed Productions, Metal Curse, and ADVERSARY), but I do put in a lot more time at this than Jack and Bob do combined at their jobs. Sometimes, just for a second, I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to go work for someone else. Certainly it would be easier, and considerably less work. I could have more “free time” to read and relax. But at what cost? So I could go be a nameless cog in some huge machine that cares not at all about me, as I am utterly replacable? So I could “finally grow up and get a real job”? I don’t think so. To quote Jello Biafra, “I’d rather stay a child and keep my self respect, if being an adult means being like you.” But, then again, if one day Cursed Productions fails to provide me with enough to get by, I will be forced to take other actions. That’s not part of the Global Domination plan, though.

Do you blaspheme on a regular basis for dentological, aka done for the intensity of the action itself, reasons?
Maybe. It seems more appropriate to blaspheme for the reaction it generates in others, whether positive or negative, as both responces are extremely important at various times and in various situations. But just screaming “Fuck god!” in an empty room doens’t do much for me.

Are you moral? Do you believe in morality?
I suppose so, but I certainly have my own morality. What I think is “right and wrong” might not match up with what some people think. I’m fairly close to what LaVey says in the _Satanic Bible_ as far as morality is concerned.

Do you think ethics are separate from morals?
I hadn’t considered it before. Perhaps morals could be seen as a personal code of conduct, while ethics might be viewed as more of a code of conduct for groups or whole societies. Perhaps to remain with the given society, one would have to conform to the ethical “guidelines,” while still retaining his own personal morality that might only come into play in other societies or groups.

What is the most important factor for you in creating music that satisfies you at the deepest level?
Knowing that what we have created is honest and true to us.

If you met Jesus, what would you say?
“Until I see you turn this water into wine, you’re just a punk in sandals.”

Or, maybe upon seeing a “miracle” I couldn’t debunk, “Oh shit!”

Hitler?
If I were back in time, I might say, “Stay out of Russia.” But no matter when I saw him, I’d want to talk about eugenics. What else could you talk to Hitler about?

“God”?
Now that depends on what you mean by “God.” But, playing along for a moment, I’d ask why we exist, and what the purpose of the universe is.

friedrich nietzsche is considered by many to be the philosopher of metal Nietzsche?
Maybe I could get him and Hitler together, as the conversations would be pretty related.

Gandhi?
I’d tell him that passive resistance cannot always work.

Without music life would be a mistake.
-F.W. Nietzsche

How would you react if your daughter got breast implants?
Interesting. I’ll try to take this one seriously. From the perspective of a father, I don’t think I’d like it, but I would certainly have to have more information as to why she was doing it. Is it just the fact that she’s small chested and wants to fuck the football team, who will only fuck the big boobed cheerleaders, or does she think that she’ll be better able to control the weak sheep-wills of men and have legions to do her bidding? If she wants to get a boob job so that she can dominate the universe, then okay.

Do you feel society is evolved from the hominid state, aka “ape” social existence with inherent power games?
Evidently not. As George Carlin would say, “It’s the bigger dick policy at work. If they have bigger dicks, bomb them.”

Why do you feel that many experience a dark sense of foreboding regarding the millenium and significant times afterward, such as 2012?
Fear of the unknown, for one thing. And I don’t have to mention that most people are sheep, and that the media has been forcing “millennium fear” on everyone, so it’s only natural that the herd is worried about it. What’s significant about 2012?

2012 is the date the Mayan calendar “ends” an era, with the implication that what comes will be either total destruction or a new frontier. I however think it is the date when the genome of marijuana truly matures, and thus all earth will be unified in clouds of sweet smoke.
More like the number of bong hits you’ve taken during this interview!

Is ADVERSARY is exploring a new type of metal, and an old type of metal, like any other group of self-respecting artists in this age?
Yeah, it’s sort of like my taste in literature: mythological and postmodern.

A giant HAILS and BLACK VOMIT OF ETERNITY to the mighty ADVERSARY for this lengthy interview.Thank you for your time.
You’re welcome of course. I should really thank you for the interest in ADVERSARY.

…The one-eyed man will have one eye the stronger; the blind man will see deeper inwardly, and certainly hear better. To this extent, the famous theory of the survival of the fittest does not seem to me to be the only viewpoint from which to explain the progress of strengthening of a man or of a race.
– F.W. Nietzsche

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THRASH is not SPEED METAL

Mix together the early CIRCLE JERKS, early BLACK FLAG, MDC, MINOR THREAT, SSD, TERVEET K�DET, and GANG GREEN, and you have something approximating these DIRTY ROTTEN IMBECILES (so-called by their parents). What can I say–this is manic, intense, tight thrash with great lyrics, and I can’t wait till these Houston boys unleash themselves upon the rest of us deprived people. 22 songs.
-Tim Yohannan (from Maximum Rocknroll #5, March/April 1983)

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Big media behind Indie Metal takeover

Insightful commentary on those “Best of Metal 2011” lists:

I’ve begun to realize that most of the lists currently being published are also exercises in varying, and scalable degrees of exclusionism. I say this because in the past two years major non-metal/indie oriented media outlets have taken it upon themselves to declare to their reading audiences what is the Best Metal of the Year. I’m referring to websites such as NPR, Pitchfork Media, Spin, PopMatters, Stereogum, Noisecreep, Frontier Psychiatrist, etc…There are countless other minor non-metal oriented blogs and sites that have their own list up as well, and they all pretty much loosely mirror one of the examples posted above.

This is a curiously new phenomenon: ten, seven, even six or five years ago you wouldn’t find non-metal/indie media daring to touch the very idea of the “best metal” released in those years. The cynic in me wants to ask, “Did the hipsters get tired of all the garage-rock bands ironically limping around Brooklyn?” That is mean spirited I know, but part of me does wonder, how long will this new found interest last? First let me offer this: I am not attempting to argue that these sites have no business publishing best of metal year end lists, nor am I attempting to critically analyze their selections. Each of the writers of these lists have their own tastes, preferences, and the right to promote them…but after mulling these lists over for a few weeks and listening to most of the albums on them, one thing has become very clear to me: The most popular of these lists are created by a handful of very prolific writers/bloggers, and the rest stem from the templates laid out by said writers. In particular, the highly read and discussed lists from NPR’s Lars Gotrich and Pitchfork/Stereogum’s Brandon Stosuy are parroted throughout the blogosphere. In deserving respect to these two writers, they both offer their opinions with interesting takes and lucid arguments. I enjoy reading their stuff, and dislike having to single them out — however due to their popularity, I feel they are liable to be held to a higher standard.

Without delving too deeply into Gotrich and Stosuy’s lists, the most obviously striking things about them both is that they tend to lean heavily on the new crop of post-black metal bands. There are occasional death metal albums sprinkled throughout, the odd doom record, and a good bit of math-metal (I hate that label but its what everyone uses). Okay fine, I actually like a few of their selections as well, but here’s a question: Aren’t we missing something in terms of various other styles of metal? You’ll notice that traditional metal and power metal are noticeably absent from these lists. – The Metal Pigeon

That’s the point. These aren’t metal lists, they’re replacement metal. That is to say, indie metal is taking over with the support of Big Media.

Metal is undisciplined by commercial standards. It has a gauge of trueness of spirit. That makes it a hard product to sell. Rock music on the other hand is accepting, has no specific spirit other than ironic surliness and greed, and is universal and easy to make. The labels prefer to sell rock music.

As a result, they’ve invaded metal with the indie hipster crowd because indie-metal sells. It’s familiar like rock, but seen as “rebellious” like metal, so all the extremely ordinary people who work very hard to style themselves as extra-ordinary are in love with it.

It’s the perfect product.

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Metal: popular but lacking quality

Has metal traded its soul for its popularity with the “service industry” workers, a/k/a hipsters and indie rockers?

Metal today is probably the most popular its been since the 80’s with bands reaching “the charts” with more frequency, worldwide acceptance in mainstream culture (even hipsters and indie fruitcakes are into it nowadays), feature films and documentaries (The Story of Anvil, Metal: A Headbangers Journey, Hesher). The ability for bands to tour on this side of the globe when in past years they would never had gotten the chance because of lack of label support, the popularity of Metal festivals not only in Europe but now in the U.S. with MDF, Gathering of the Bestial Legion, CIM, 70000 of Metal and others. The involvement of major companies like Scion with the Scion Fest and all the shows they put on and a wider acceptance by major venues like HOB to host Metal shows.

Come to think about it, its a pretty good time to be a Metalhead these days.

On the flipside one can’t help but notice that a lot of what people call Metal these days is utter crap I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. A lot of the bands and music being churned out left and right is unoriginal and emotionless. It is more concerned with fashion and image than with creative riffs and memorable anthems. So much of what kids (old fart voice) listen to nowadays is so watered down,tepid and soulless. Its hard for me to find new bands have any of that spark that would get my heart racing…. memories of listening to Dismember’s Like an Ever Flowing Stream for the first time and headbanging nonstop because you couldn’t help but feel the music. – SDMETAL.org

He makes a good point. Click the link above to read the whole rant.

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