Death Metal Underground

Twilight – III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb

March 18, 2014 –

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Commercial black metal. Oh dear.

Advertising agencies would like us to believe that Twilight is a “black metal supergroup”; but looking at the list of musicians involved, there isn’t much to do with black metal, let alone a noteworthy record within that genre. If there was a desire to be accurate, the band would be billed as “a group of musicians without much in common, to whom we rented a studio and told them to make something that we could promote”. It’s here the band succeeds…but not anywhere else.

The only thing (fit for print) in my mind while listening to this was: “How long does it take for something experimental to become established and lethargic?” Really, there is nothing new on this album. Noise rock was done in the 80s, stoner rock spawned as well, caveman moshcore flourished in the 90s, and linear, monotonous, American “black metal” has insulted eardrums for over a decade. We all know what these genres sound like. Mashing them together and adding constipated vocals does not constitute a new art form. It is not experimental or new. Nor is it worth releasing.

The most disheartening aspect of this release is that most of the musicians involved are talented to above-average degrees. Unfortunately, none of it comes through on this release. They (and us) would be better served heightening their unique take on their own art form, instead of limply moving to this unremarkable, bland middle-ground…but that doesn’t pay the bills.

The funderground evaporates and metal goes underground

January 16, 2014 –

the-day-the-earth-stood-still

Blue skied days make me think of aliens landing amongst us like in the old science fiction films. Except this time, the aliens are disappointed in what they find. “We have analyzed your transmissions,” the vocoded digi-translator says. “We are hoping to contact the people of Aurelius, Plato, Nietzsche and the first Morbid Angel album.”

Sadly there is no one here who can help them. The old Romans are dead, the ancient Greeks long gone, even the days when philosophers wrote about real topics are over, and Morbid Angel have ventured on to different goals and styles. If the aliens came looking for old school death metal, they’d find themselves presented with over a million options, very few of which resembled the glory of what once was.

This leads us to the interesting question: what causes some human endeavor, whether a civilization or a culture or death metal, to collapse? Nietzsche believed the answer to be nihilism; Joseph Tainter thinks it is when groups find diminishing marginal returns in self-organization; Aurelius saw a failure of spirit as the cause. When I was less experienced, I would have agreed with Nietzsche or Tainter that an internal/external source was the cause; the more I’ve seen, the closer I veer toward Aurelius’ view which is that things die when their spirit dies.

In metal, we’ve had a great spiritual death for quite a long time now. Death metal and black metal produced a huge backlog of technique, imagery, creativity and complexity between 1984 and 1994, but then pretty much faded away. In their place first came imitators, then metalcore, and now the emo/indie/gaze crowd of “post-metal” types who are making the same music that was popular back in the late 1980s. History has reversed itself as it always does when collapse comes to town.

Erik Danielsson of erstwhile black metal band and now happy melodic heavy metal band Watain offered his own vision of how this inversion occurs:

I think that throughout the course of history, there have always been very few bands that have been able to live up to my standards, at least of black metal… Then there are thousands and thousands of misrepresentations and misconceptions of it. But true and genuine black metal is always something that will always be a minority in the music scene. A small minority even.

Then there’s all these people that kind of want to… It’s just like punk, you know? You have a few real punk bands, and you have a thousand bands that try to do the same thing, but fail because they don’t have the right spirit and they don’t really believe in it. But at the same time, it fascinates a lot of people, because it is an extreme way of expression, and it is controversial, and it’s therefore also popular and people are fascinated by it.

That’s why it’s also so often, like with other forms of extreme art, whatever it may be, that’s why it’s also so often misused, and just even commercialised, just for the sake of that, horror sells. And extreme metal sells, controversy sells, and that’s why there’s so many charlatans in this kind of music.

He makes a good point but it’s not the whole story. At some point, the genre was stronger and had a higher ratio of actual black metal to imitators. What is an imitator? Someone who adopts the surface appearance of some other thing without understanding its spirit, inner structure, values or motivations. Why do imitators do it? For the social value; that’s all imitation can deliver. If you imitate something, you can sell it, achieve popularity, or even just have some rationalization for your lifestyle and a way to spend your time that you feel doesn’t make you look like a complete l00zer to your friends.

This makes the original ideals of black metal look smarter than they seemed at the same. “No more, no core, no fun and no trends” is an anti-social statement, meaning that it is designed to block the passage of metal into a social movement. As discussed in Until the Light Takes Us, the decay of meaning is inevitable once power passes from the innovators to the art shop displays, poseurs, political types and record label tyrants.

Luckily, there’s also good news. hybrid indie/metal band Twilight is calling it quits:

Black metal supergroup Twilight welcomed a new member in the middle of 2012: Thurston Moore. “We’re not coming together to make music,” Moore said then of the group. “We’re joining forces to destroy all rational thought.”

Unfortunately, the band itself has also imploded. With news of their new album—III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb, out March 18 in North American and March 17 in Europe through Century Media—comes the announcement that Twilight has broken up. The album will be their last.

I will never be happy for anything that inconveniences Imperial of Krieg in any way, as he carried the black metal flag at a time when the USBM underground had declared itself dead fetus and put up the banner of failure. I also have no enmity for Thurston Moore, who was quite a gregarious and interesting fellow when I met him, or any of the other musicians in Twilight. They’re just trying to have careers. However, they were also symbolic of the downfall of underground metal in that they symbolized its acceptance by the indie rock hierarchy.

The thing about rebels is that they either fail and are destroyed in anonymity, or they become the new Establishment. Since most people love a chance to believe that their problems are caused by oppression, not their own poor life choices, revolutions are very popular; just about everyone loves one, except the cynical and flatulent elderly. Thus as a revolutionary you have a better than average chance but, if you succeed, you live to become that against which new generations revolt. First country, blues, jazz and rock were a revolution against established music, then punk was a revolution against popular music. Then indie was a revolution against punk.

Black metal, like heavy metal before it, was a revolution against the mentality of revolution. It was “heavy” in that instead of promising flowers, love and peace — all appearances, all social things — it promised darkness, warfare, conflict and predation. Metal has always been the music that says our problems cannot be solved by appearances and must be addressed by dealing with reality itself, which is the one thing that most people never want to do.

The message of metal is never initially popular. What is popular is the perception of metalheads being “outside” the social system, and thus able to perceive a truth and enjoy a freedom that those inside cannot. This makes those inside want to emulate the outsiders, but they do so only in appearance, resulting in them making imitations that have the spirit, values, goals and internal structure of the inside. Thus, the independent truth is dragged down into a morass of conformity and the same failed thinking that it tried to escape.

Krieg announces release of Transient in 2014

September 9, 2013 –
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imperial-kriegThe next Krieg full length will be titled Transient and will be recorded in 2014, according to Krieg frontman Imperial. The new album will be 40-50 minutes long, “with some return to the old Krieg style in the sense that there will be a lot of very aggressive parts and a fair amount of samples.”

Transient will also blend in more influences from strange industrial projects, nothing you can dance to obviously, but the feeling you get from certain Coil, Whitehouse, and Controlled Bleeding recordings as well as a strong push into the more crusty rock n roll moments from the last three records.

Active since the middle 1990s, Krieg pioneered a unique sound of semi-improvisational and chaotic New World black metal that took many influences from violent and disoriented punk music and merged them with the minimalistic black metal of Darkthrone and Havohej. Recently, Krieg has been incorporating more post-metal influences in their music with The Isolationist, the record releases in 2010.

“It’s going to be a strange beast for sure, as always uncomfortable and hopefully challenging to the listener. We will be recording the majority at a different studio than we’ve used previously as to try to bring a newer feeling to the overall recording,” said Imperial.

Krieg to re-issue Blue Miasma with original, heavier mix

May 10, 2013 –

krieg-blue_miasmaAccording to frontman Imperial, Krieg have unearthed the original recordings of the Blue Miasma album, without samples, and are going to use this heavier mix for the re-issue of the album. Imperial mentioned this in a Facebook post detailing the discovery.

Imperial said, “The original unmastered with no samples mix of Blue Miasma has been unearthed thanks to Jeff Marcheski and will have some minor additions to it for the reissue of the album. This original mix was heavier and dirtier than the one that got released and, to me at least, sounds better.”

While the original Krieg release was improvisational chaotic black metal, the band had drifted into more modern metal influenced styles over the past decade as Imperial and other members collaborated with indie-rock-hybrid black metal bands and took influences from the experience. The latest developments are part of an ongoing arc back toward traditionalist black metal ethos for this band.

Interview: Dyingnysus

April 10, 2013 –

Icontra3I would assume that living in Salt Lake City, Utah would drive one mad. I’ve spent some time there last year, but I wouldn’t be able to maintain my sanity living around Mormons. Salt Lake City also has restrictions on alcohol content, with most beers having 3.2%. One way around such an obstacle is to sneak onto Hill Air Force Base (granted, if you have a military ID) and utilize one of their shoppettes to obtain normal booze. In my scenario of having a moody woman dictating my time while there, much booze was consumed. At least the mountains in the area are beautiful and I had the opportunity to go hiking away from the dreadful Mormons.

During my stay there I was acquainted with Dyingnysus from the bands Iconoclast Contra, Gravecode Nebula, Odium Totus, Krieg and others. I was invited to go to the recording session for the Odium Totus EP Nullam Congue Nihil, but I was unable to attend (conflict: moody woman mentioned in the previous paragraph). However, Mr. Dyingnysus sent me the cd after it was finished and the final product is quite good. It’s a nice strain of meditative black metal with a rather militant concept behind it.

After hearing this release I figured that it’d be suiting to pick Dyingnysus’ brain about his exploits.

Howdy Dyingnysus. Thank you for your time. First I’d like to inquire about the city that you reside in. How horrible is it to live in Salt Lake City being that it’s the Mormon capital? Is Black Metal well accepted there? What about the lackluster alcohol content in beer? Do you disappear to the mountains or salt flats when the Mormons drain you of your sanity? Or do you wage war with them?

Howdy to you as well and thank you for your time and efforts with the interview. Well, to start off obviously living in a place like Salt Lake City presents certain challenges that can seem difficult to handle. I know some folks who cannot whatsoever and have fled and never looked back. I’ve grown up in Southern California personally, so I know what else is out there of course, and of course I have come to realize in my travels just how really different Salt Lake is from other cities in the country. Honestly the reason why I stay here, well besides the obvious; family/friends, work and the bands etc, but there is some other reasons, cost of living is reasonable, I don’t have to worry about traffic, crime or other things I consider in other bigger cities to be quite substandard; the absence of ghetto’s/projects here is a big plus. I mean we have shitty neighborhoods but nothing like what you see in other cities. The liquor laws are a bit strange here, I’ll explain. The beer alcohol content is 3.2% by volume per can (which Utah is not the only one with 3.2% beer, there are 18 what they call “controlled liquor states” out there). So, in other states they measure by weight and if you were to measure Utah beer by weight it is actually 4.3% per can. Our local micro brews here are quite good too. All in all the beer is not as drastically weak as people are lead to believe. I mean you can get drunk drinking it. Another quirky thing is that if you want to get hard liquor or an out of state style beer, you have to visit a Utah State Liquor store and the prices are marked up quite a bit, especially on brands like Jack Daniels etc. Plus they close early, around 10pm and are closed Sunday, although you can visit a bar to get a strong drink on Sunday, last call is 1 am.

I don’t have too many dealings with Mormons or LDS people as you would think really, a lot of them live out in the suburbs and I live in the city, which only the wealthy Mormons live around the Salt Lake City proper really. I mean yes, they are all over the place though, and you’ll see them that is for sure. They are some of the most diluted happy go lucky idiots I have ever had witness to. I mainly just steer clear and don’t care to engage them often, or at least seek to. It is strange living in a religious capital at times, but that being said, I think if anything it benefits the music as we really have something to rally against. You are right in some of your assumptions that it can make you fairly agitated and pissed off to deal with the LDS influence and church here and some of the other quirks. I do not seek direct aggravated confrontation with Mormons typically like I said but I do try to make them uncomfortable in public, like in social situations hahah, that’s really about it. Black Metal is not a huge part of the music scene here really too much, and there have been bands come and go over the years. Still there is a small, albeit dedicated scene.

Congratulations on your Odium Totus EP Nullam Congue Nihil. I was rather enthralled by it when I first heard it during my commute to work. How did the concept of this project start? What are your goals? 

Thank you, it is much appreciated! I’m pleased you were able to get a good connection with the music even whilst doing an activity we all do mostly every day, the morning commute! Odium Totus pretty much came into existence after a few rehearsals with the drummer Rick and me in May of 2011. At that point I believe we were at an impasse with other bands we were playing in, so the idea to just start something new seemed intriguing and I had some material that was sort of in the back of my mind and I also wanted to play in a band that owed more stylistically to the traditional black metal I grew up with, but also mixing in some of my more untypical influences, which basically includes a lot of classic, psychedelic, progressive and death rock stuff. I was also interested to start singing in a band as well, because I had a ton of lyrics written that I never got to use for anything and that sort of kicked the whole thing off more or less. Soon after these initial rehearsals we had gotten a few songs written. At this point my wife Kate joined on rhythm guitar and our bassist Micah as well. Overall goals are to keep playing live shows, and in fact taking our music to the people and to be a tight live band is a actually a very big goal as well as develop some more visual aspects to the show and to keep challenging ourselves to come up with darker more spacey tripped out music. Other goals include more shows; especially in other cities, more new music and records etc. We’ll see where the road takes us basically!

I noticed that the riffs on the EP are somewhat primitive, but have a meditative quality to them. How did you approach the song compositions?

I like that you take notice of that particular approach, in so much as keeping things simple in a sense. It is usually the best way for me to compose riffs on the guitar keeping that principle in mind. I think when you are more concerned with virtuosity as opposed to the moods and feelings that you are trying to convey with your music, the more the music loses that sort of atmosphere. So with that in mind, a lot of our riffs seem pretty straightforward in some respects yes. I mean, typically I just pick up a guitar and start strumming chords, sometimes I have an idea I am trying to get out of my head, but sometimes not, and whatever seems to work; if something particularly catches my ear I’ll file away for use in a song we are starting or working on etc. If it doesn’t seem ready though but has some quality I still think is worth pursuing, then I’ll work on it some more. Typically I will have at least 2-3 riffs prepared, before I work with our drummer. Although in some cases I have brought in fully written songs. Now at this point, usually it’s just me and the drummer at first to write the core of the song and then we bring in the rhythm section and flesh it out more. Some of the riffs come from that process as well, improvised or on the spot.

As of the genesis of this band, I have written a good deal of the guitar riffs, although our drummer is starting to come up with more in the newer material, which is always welcome. I am a very willing collaborator with the other people I play music with. I do not always want to be the one writing etc. I think the meditative quality you speak of comes from some of the stranger chords I am using these days, certain jazz chords as well as ideas in chords that were used by some bands in the 60’s and 70’s. You notice that in those decades, bands like Pink Floyd, King Crimson or Hawkwind for example had to figure out a way to build a big space with their music with the limited boundaries of the equipment they were using. Now you can have a lot of that with a push of a button, but we try to approach it the way those bands did. It seems you just do that by layering the instruments in such a way that it comes across strong and full of dense atmosphere. Of course a lot of echo/delay helps too don’t get me wrong!


I sense a rather nihilistic underpinning in Odium Totus. What are your thoughts on Nihilism? Do you think metal is the best weapon to encompass nihilistic themes?

odium totus2Oh for certain, there is a common theme along anything I do creatively and Nihilism is always at the heart of it. It’s hard to characterize my thoughts on Nihilism in a sense, since when you think of it as a concept, it’s hard to wrap your head around really overall as it is quite multi-faceted. Does Nihilism mean for some people that, anything goes? For certain it does, and does it also mean that you do not believe in one simple tangible thing? Possibly!

I think one of the facets of Nihilism I value the most is that is pretty open ended and doesn’t need answers unto itself to be defined. I was talking with someone about how it is pretty hard to offend me deeply and truly, I mean other than my own petty selfish things that I get offended about, but I mean on a much larger scale with I guess just existence in general and the bullshit we have to deal with day to day. I don’t get too offended by the actions of a great number of people, past and present. Sure, I can certainly laugh or be disgusted with the absurdity and effrontery of such things, but usually I just shake my head though. It’s like the only way to keep my sanity, because if I started to care too deeply or to take it all at face value like many do, I’d go absolutely fucking nuts! That also helps in regards to people around me; I don’t care too deeply for what other people think of my outlooks and such, just as I don’t really care too much for theirs a lot of the time.

Philosophically, Nihilism is rooted in skepticism overall. For some, it means a total break from what is real or not real for that matter. Truth is not an absolute. So that part of it appeals to me too. When considering a Nihilistic view point in society, meaning all structures, organizations, whether they are religious or socio-political in nature are meaningless, or at least are rejected outright, that is kind of like a comfort in a way too ya know? It’s basically saying fuck everything, and everyone! No one has gotten it right. Also you can come at Nihilism from a destructive angle as well, like senseless destruction is considered to be nihilistic in nature right? At least we are kind instructed to think that way. Overall, it’s stark, strong and its cold, it’s really almost too realistic, without caring about reality. It’s really the only salvation for humanity, and thus, not a salvation in itself at all. Why care? Why concern ourselves with Utopian discourse? There is no point. I certainly do think that any sort of thoughtful music can convey Nihilistic messages and musings, philosophically or hatefully in the manner. Whether it be metal/rock, blues/jazz, classical, noise/electronic music, (I omit popular, hip hop and modern country music as I think it is counter-productive to include them as musical art forms).

You’ve done session work with Krieg. How would you define the American Black Metal scene? Which are your favorite bands? 

I have done several live performances with Neill and Krieg now yes, even a short tour down the west coast (which Odium Totus did some dates as well) but no recordings yet, we are working on that, eventually we will do a EP. Hmmm, hard to define the scene overall, as some days I don’t even care to be associated with it. I don’t look at “American Black Metal” as phenomena stylistically unto itself as you could with say Norwegian or Finnish Black Metal for example etc. Still, it doesn’t matter on a level to me, when some people are interested in saying “the scene.” Really, truthfully, like everything in America, it is but a melting pot, a hodge-podge of several different musical styles, death, thrash, doom, heavy metal. It all came from Europe first, the basic heavy metal right? That much is true! That is what I find pretty ironic is that the Europeans, the British especially, took all this great music that was originated in American heritage and folk tradition, and just fed it back to us a little heavier and with fuzz pedals! It all comes from old Country, Jazz, and the Blues right? The rock and roll, and metal music, the blues especially was the catalyst for all of that music. The first doom metal is the blues jack, and that is the truth. Anyhow, bands I like from America (and none of these are blues and/or neo-psychedelic bands) are (the) Krieg, Ritual Combat, Nightbringer, Evoken, Grave Ritual, Velnias, Icon Of Phobos, Kommandant and many others. I can’t keep going on naming bands, because someone gets offended if I miss them. I’m sure I’ll lose friends all the time, so sad really (yes, being sarcastic)


odium totus1Your other band Iconoclast Contra is reminiscent of War Metal more than Black Metal. Which genre is it? How would you place in juxtaposition the themes displayed to your personal beliefs? Do you believe humanity is worthy of extinguishing through war? If so, why?

As of now, I have resigned with Iconoclast Contra. We can get into all the reasons why, but it is nothing sensational, I just lost interest in participating, and truth be told it really wasn’t active enough to keep me interested anymore. Musically you are right; it is the war metal sound, with elements of thrash/death stuff. While a lot of that music is great and I dig a lot of bands of that style no doubt, it’s just not what I am into playing anymore. I just think I am more partial to playing my best when I do stuff like Odium Totus or the other band I am in, Gravecode Nebula, which is like the music that I think identifies me personally much better. The whole concept and ideas with Iconoclast Contra, for my part certainly, was a sort of heretical diatribe against humanity, and cleansing humanity with destruction, total and utter destruction, which goes back to a lot of the nihilistic beliefs and outlooks I possess.

As for humanity being extinguished completely? I think a catastrophic event is necessary and around the corner probably! War is probably what will happen, but be it war, or more of a natural phenomenon as long as it has the chance kick human beings back into their place or to eradicate them completely I’m fine with it if that is how it goes down, nothing can prevent the end of something if it is set in motion to happen. I will say that it would certainly make us more respectable beings if we survived a great catastrophe I would think, can’t be certain on that either though. Time will tell.

You previously played with Ibex Throne and released two albums. Why did the project stop? Was there a line-up issue, or did you conceptualize something new that you wanted to unleash? The original vocalist of Ibex Throne killed himself. Did this change your outlook on the band?

Ibex Throne was my first main band that really consumed a large part of my life (little shy of 10 years) we released two demos, and two albums. It was like my boot camp and where I cut my teeth ya know? The group towards the end was musically and ideologically/philosophically all pointing to different directions, and to me, it was time to move on especially. I didn’t have anything more to offer those guys, and vice versa. It wasn’t personal issues that came into it too much; I mean not that I can say. I think we all were just tired of that band. It was good while it lasted, and there were some memorable times for certain. I don’t care to comment too much on details of the member who committed suicide. It’s very old news for me now, and I’ve moved on. I will just say that it didn’t affect the band with our music or lyrics at any point, we never used it is a selling point and/or gimmick, and it is not in any way a reason as to why we are not together now; he killed himself very early on in the beginning of the group when we are all very young.

What’s ahead for your projects in the near future? Will Odium Totus come out with a full-length album?

Gravecode Nebula has an album coming out on Baneful Genesis Records this year called “Sempiternal Void.” We also are playing the Denver Doom Fest III in Colorado with tons of killer bands, and I think after that, it will either cease to exist or continue to create, I can’t say as of now. Odium Totus has time booked in May to record for a 7” EP called Let It All End. We hope to have released this summer, which will feature two new songs. Right now we are currently working on a full length record as well, we have about 3-4 songs in the works, and 3-4 on the way after that and we are currently on hiatus from live shows so we can focus on songwriting and rehearsals for the next few months, then it is back to the stage this summer, looking to get some shows setup right now, you can always keep an eye on our exploits via our Facebook pages:

Odium Totus

Gravecode Nebula

Thank you for answering our questions. Anything else that you’d like to share?

Hey no problem, thanks for taking the time to prepare an interview for us, we appreciate the support and the chance to spread some awareness about Odium Totus, Gravecode Nebula and The Flying Burrito Brothers etc. Keep an eye out for more new records, and more shows from Odium Totus, we will be coming to play near you, in the near future! You can fucking god damn well be assured of that!! Diehard and kill!