Archive for April, 2010

Acheron (RIP) – Interview

Posted in Acheron, death metal, interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

In light of Acheron’s recent break-up, we have decided to reprint the interview we performed with them last year.  Formed in 1988, Acheron has been a seminal act within the death metal scene.  Acheron was known for their outspoken Satanism and their no-bullshit approach to the death metal sound.  A farewell tour has been announced, though.  So, don’t miss your chance to see them live!  And without further adieu, here is the interview in its entirety.  RIP ACHERON

Members of the Pantheon crew (Max, Adam, and Ryan) interviewed Vincent Crowley and Kyle Severn of the legendary death metal band Acheron this past November at their show in Madison with Cardiac Arrest and Myiasis. Transcribed from audio interview.

M: I heard that your new album The Final Conflict – Last Days of God is a concept album. What’s the basic story or message behind the album?  And have you ever done a concept album before?

V: Basically, it’s about a new age where all the major religions, which we call the holy trinity – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity – have been in control for so long.  We try to show their true hypocrisy. And there’s a secret society which has throughout the years been keeping [opposition] at bay to [consolidate their power]. So they feel it’s time to just let [the other religions] fight amongst themselves and get rid of them in a lower arena.

We’ve done a concept before.  The first album we did was called The Rites of the Black Mass and that was of the actual black mass. We also did an album called Those Who Have Risen which is concept of the group called Hekal Tiamat which is a temple of the vampire. It explains what vampirism stems from.

A: What were your primary influences for this concept?  I mean, it’s a pretty epic concept…what did you draw from to come up with this idea and put it all down?

(Some talking between Vincent/Kyle)…Life!  Everything around us.

V: I actually started writing some of the songs 10 years ago after the Those Who Have Risen album.  And I just felt the tension, ya know?  We kinda put this on the backburner and I moved up to Columbus.  And then, when 9/11 hit, it was like…wow, I should’ve put this album out a couple years ago!  And that’s kinda the basis of that.  When 9/11 came along, how many people really even looked and saw people who were Islamic around very much?  You very rarely would see that.  Now it’s like, every street corner. It’s almost funny because I think people are so politically correct that they don’t want to associate Islam with the “bad” Islam.  The fact is, religion is poisonous.  And we let it poison us.

K: …uh…Yeah! (everyone laughs) We did a big interview for a DVD recently and that’s become somewhat of a dumb joke between us.  He (Vincent) goes off on something then it goes to me and I’m just like…”yeah.”  It’s like, what else do I say, you know?  (Laughs)

M: For your new album, the cover has this creature on it. What is that, a Cerberus? Is there some symbolism in that?

V: Yeah, absolutely. The three-headed wolf is the beast that destroys the religions.  If you notice on the cover, each head has a collar with the religious symbol around it and there’s an “X” through each one.  The 6’s on the head represent the beast destroying it.  The Cerberus… it’s ironic, we weren’t going for that. It’s ironic with Acheron being a Greek mythological region. But, it just fits.  It works real well.

K: (pause)…Uh…yep.. (everyone laughs)

M: I noticed your first 4 albums have an intro every track.  What was the reasoning behind that and why have you stopped doing that?

V: The original reasoning behind the intros was to get that ritualistic feeling and the atmosphere. But the fact is, a lot of metalheads want the meat right away.  They want the punch in the face.  So, even though I wanted to get the occult feel to it, we thought okay, we did this for 10 years…let’s do something else.

K:  We also didn’t want to change the style except to bring a little more agressiveness. After we did the Wolfen Society side project, which just kinda balls-out/in your face, we wanted to make the band more “meat and potatoes,” thrashy, aggressive. That’s more of my style.  I don’t play all that fancy drum shit.

V: (laughs) He does, he just won’t admit it. If you just listen to the new style, we have a lot of elements from the past albums. We have sporadically added keys. The first decade was more of the ritualistic part of Acheron, this is more of the philosophy: the more Satanic, in-your-face lifestyle.

A: You guys took 6 years between albums. What was going on in those 6 years that made you decide to release the album after all that time?

V: (to Kyle) You can answer this.  I hate talking about record labels…

K: There was no plan to take that long of a break. Black Lotus had us for 3 records. When we did Rebirth we already had around 75% of The Final Conflict written and done. Then Black Lotus had problems and they folded.  They didn’t tell us right away.  And finally they’re like “well, we’re done, we’re not a label anymore” and we’re like fuck, you know?  Now we gotta search. Nobody was interested. We weren’t asking for a ton of money.  But, we need the recording costs taken care of and expenses and whatnot. And nobody was willing to fork out any money. This is right at the time the digital shit was hittin’ real hard and record labels were taking a hit. It wasn’t til we were like, well let’s just demo it and shop it around. That sparked some interest. That showed the style that we were going for. I think the demo did its job. We did get kinda lazy, but I mean we got discouraged a little bit. We think Rebirth was a good record and it didn’t have any US distribution.

M:  None??

K:  Naw, not like it was supposed to. Black Lotus was going under; we didn’t know that, so everything just started funneling out. We tried to get on some tours and properly do the touring for it. We went to Poland for that record but really minimal stuff. It was just kind of a bummer. And I was real busy with Incantation, you know, shit I was doing Funerus at the time too. It’s just we wanted to do it, but not go out and lose our asses. We’re not a new band that can afford to go out and do that.  I’m not doing that for free.

V:  In the end, it paid off because we were more pissed.  (laughs) We went in there, we had the right attitude, we had a label…

M: So, you could kind of fuse that anger into the album?

V: Yeah absolutely. It’s funny, people listen to Rebirth and then the new album and people say “wow, I like this new one better!”  And Kyle and I think Rebirth is a good album, too!  But there’s just something about this new one that punches you in the face. Maybe it was taking a little bit of time and not letting the industry dilute what we really thought about the metal scene.

M:  So you mentioned that you didn’t have any US distribution. This is interesting considering that you’re a US band.  Do you find that you have a better audience, especially live, overseas than you do here?

V:  Absolutely. You find our stuff in obscure mom and pop places or catalogs. It’s hard to get that push in the states. Most of us have always been bigger in Europe and other countries.

K:  This record should help close that gap between now and the next record. This record was released on Displeased… come to find out they don’t really have US distribution either. So, we think ok, your album sells the most in the first 30 days after release, even in the first three months and it’s like fuck, there’s no US sales. And when we’re getting tons of mail from people saying that they’ve gotta pay an outrageous import price to get it from Displeased, we can’t have this again.

V: We purposely talked to Ibex Moon about doing a license deal and we’re sweetening the package. I mean, our fans are gonna get a cheap price for a lot of stuff.  I think that really shows that we’re not doing this for a bunch of money. We’re trying to get it out to our people. We’re trying to do it so we can go do tours. Bookers at clubs want to see it in stores. Plain and simple.

K: Being that Ibex has a good US distribution, we figured that’s what we need to get it out there. So like you said, to sweeten the deal we went ahead and shot a video and we added over an hour’s worth of video footage on the making of the record. Everything from in the studio and then some interview stuff.  We threw in some live shows that we did from Brazil too.  That’ll be available for the first 1000 pressings. The preorder is on the 10th of November and the release date is the 23rd.  But we’re working on doing some full tours, just trying to do some long weekends and hitting some festivals.

V: We really need to get the fans to be proactive. They gotta start talking to the magazines, they gotta start talking to the clubs and saying they want us.  We played Chicago last night and I talked to a lot of people that were like “Why have you never been here? We want you to come”.  Well, you’ve gotta tell people you want us to come.  It has to be the whole support system like it was back in the day. Morbid Angel and Napalm Death…they didn’t just become as big as they were due to nothing.  It was a very close-knit network of people in the scene that didn’t do it for money, they did it because they love metal. We have to bring that back.

K: And the bands gotta work together. Cardiac Arrest is doing these dates with us and they’re fucking good guys.

M: Yeah, they sound damn good!

(Unbeknownst to the interviewers, the drummer for Cardiac Arrest has been sitting behind us.)

V: The drummer is very sexy. (everyone laughs)

K: Oh yeah, look at that sexy guy.  And he loves Jesus!  (he’s wearing an “I love Jesus” shirt).

M: I’m pretty young.  How is the scene back then compared to how it is now?  Is it a lot shittier now?

V: When we liked a band and wanted to get in touch with them, we had to physically write them.  If you liked a European band, you had to write a letter, send it, and wait for a response. If someone wrote you, you had to give them all of your information.  It became more of a personal thing.  It wasn’t just “buy our cd.”  Where now, it’s like you could communicate with us, but it’s more like “I can talk to this guy in a second.”  There’s no personal touch to things anymore.  To this day, if a band comes out with something, I want the cd.  I want the lyrics.  I want the photos.  Now we get fans going, “the album rules! we downloaded it for free!” (everyone laughs) It’s like ”uh, thanks man!”  I understand people are low on money and stuff.  But every cd that you don’t buy that you like, there’s the chance that that band won’t record again because the label will say “you’re not selling albums, you’re not gonna do another album”  I’m not saying you shouldn’t check it out and see if you like it, but if you do, buy it!  If you really like it then support those bands.  Because this ain’t no money making machine, its something that you do from the heart.  We’d rather play in front of 20 hardcore fans than a bunch of trendy guys that don’t even know who the hell we are.  Sometimes that’s hard to do.

K: But at the same time, I love playing for new kids who don’t know who the hell we are though too and then they end up liking us.

M: To kinda transform their taste?

K: Yeah, it’s what every band shoots for.


V: We played in Columbus recently and we see these young kids doing some “kung fu theatre” and it’s like what the hell’s going on here? (everyone laughs)  And it’s like, well they’re getting into it so whatever.  And we got the one’s on the side who are just watching and its like “as long you guys don’t fight each other and just watch the show, it’s cool.”

K: I guess to answer your question, the scene goes in circles through different eras.  I mean, we’re talking when the band started in the late 80s, that’s 20 years ago.  A lot has changed over the times.  I didn’t even start playing until the early 90s, 91/92 myself and that’s when death metal was really friggin big.  All the Swedish bands were getting super popular, the bands from the new york/new jersey area, and all the florida death metal scene.  It was just friggin huge.  It was just a wave from everywhere.  It was really strong until the mid to later 90s and then the black metal trend kinda came in, still a big scene, but it hurt the death metal scene a little bit.  Then you get in the 2000s and it seems like its gonna come back and its still not bad.  I really think people are fucking lazy sitting in front of the computer.  I personally think too many people are sitting around jerking off to porn.

V: Hey!  There’s a time and a place!  (everyone laughs)

K:  Well, wait till you come home from the show or something.  At least go out and try to get laid and maybe pick up a metal chick.  We know there’s probably not chicks but at least try you know.  (everyone laughs).  That’s the thing, incentive is out the fucking window.

V: There just needs to be a unity.  There needs to be support for this music.  And the fact is that years ago, people listened to our type of stuff.  And they were like, this shit is intense, this is like bizarre, this is over the top.   It’s not like we’re playing Winger and all of a sudden, 20 years later, they’re going “God, theyr’e wusses over here.”  We can still stand up next to these new guys.  It’s not like we’re not hitting everyone in the face just like everyone else is.  And I don’t mind the newer bands, I just don’t like trends.  I don’t like it when one sound comes out and 15 bands are just the same thing.  That’s just what I don’t like. But if you like metal, you like fucking metal, go out and go to the shows, you know?

A:  I know it’s kinda early and the album just came out, but is there anything in the works yet?  Do you guys know what your plans are for the next year/two years.

V: Well, I’m going to India and I’m gonna help out the homeless people…  (he and everyone laughs).  Did you actually believe that?  No, we’re actually working on new stuff right now.  Our goal is….sometime next year?

K: Well, we have touring plans for the spring of next year.  There’s a possible European tour in Feb/March and a states tour after that.  So, we really hope that happens.  We have been writing new stuff and we have a few new things.  It would really be nice to at least be demoing a good portion of the record by summertime of next year.  To get in the studio in the fall, we’d really have to be busy writing over the summer.  It could be possible to do a Spring release.  If we could at least get a Fall of 2011 release, we’d have to record early in that year or the end of next year.  But we need to set a goal and be like okay, this is our deadline.  We don’t really work like that, but we don’t want to waste the years.

V:  There will not be a 6 year wait.

K: Yeah, that’s for sure.  I mean we already got a few tunes and Vince has got a lot of riffs.  I’ve just been busy with a lot of stuff.  We just don’t get to practice that often.  But when we do, we try to make the most of it.

M: Concerning your side project, Wolfen Society, I noticed you haven’t released anything in that for 8 years or something.  And it says on Metal Archives that it’s still active.  Is that true?  Do you guys have any plans to continue with that at all?

V:  We’ve been talking about this for 10 years.  You know, Ahriman is doing Dark Funeral.  He’s been busy.  And Ricktor, our guitar player, is in prison right now.  (laughs)  He’ll be out in 6 months.  Actually, right before he went in he told me, “when I get out, we gotta do the new Wolfen Society!”  Would we do it again? I’d be up for it.  But we’ve been saying that for the last…6 years on and off.  I don’t see it happening, but who knows?

K:  It’s gonna take the initiative for those guys to really step up because there’s a lot of talk.  The only reason it happened in the first place is because of Vince.  Vince contacted everybody.  We were all into it, the timing worked out.  And we made it happen.  Stuff was already written for the most part.  You know, with Ahriman, Ricktor and Thomas, those guys just added their own personal touches.  But the structures, me and Vince got down.  We just feel if we did it again and we wrote the structures, it would just sound like Acheron.  You know, at one point, some tracks on the latest record were originally meant to be Wolfen Societys songs.  Until we realized that was kinda the direction we want Acheron to go.  So, if we do a new Wolfen album, we want some riffs, some structures from Ahriman.  It’d be friggin great because I’d like to hear something not black metal written by him, something that would fit more with Wolfen.  Wolfen is more death metal I  guess.

V: Ahriman is a death metal fan. He’s not like one of these black metal people who only listen to black metal.

K:  But, he really contributed good with his black metal style of playing.  It was really cool the way he added it over the stuff that Vince wrote.  So really, I just need him to write something and send it to us.

V: I guess the best thing to say is it ain’t going to be the same EP we did.  It’s going to be a whole different thing.

K: Yeah, it’s a project.  We’ll make whatever the hell we want.  If we wanted to come out with a friggin country album…little Johnny Rebel or something.  (everyone laughs)  It would be cool, but will it happen?  Probably not?  I’m down for it.  I know Vince is down for it, but Ahriman’s in Sweden.

M:  Yeah, I was just going to ask how it was working with a guy from Sweden.

K: He flew over and stayed with us a couple times, same with Tommy.  We all just put our own money and time into it, just to get together.  We’re all friends.  It was cool.

V:  Riktor and Tommy, they’re in the hellfire club.  They’re from Wisconsin, originally.  So, they had a trip too.  Its not like it was down the street, it took a lot of effort just to do that little EP.

V: And with the budget labels give nowadays…

K:  Unless we could hook up something with Regain.  I mean, they’re dishing out some money.  Throw us some airfare and studio costs, and we’ll take care of everything else.  Screw it, fly me to Sweden, I’ll take a vacation.

M:  What are you guys listening to, out of curiosity?

K: The Born again demos.  Black Sabbath, born again.  Unreleased track and the unmixed versions of that record.  That’s what we were listening to on the way here today.  Love that shit.

I just listen to everything I grew up on.  We listen to a variety of stuff, old school rock and roll, heavy metal.  ZZ top…

V:  I like everything from death metal to classical to southern rock, which Kyle loves me playing.  Old school outlaw country we love that.

M:  You guys fans of Bathory at all?

V: Oh yeah, of course.  Bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost, Destruction, Kreator, Sodom, Hellhammer, that’s what I grew up on.  Venom was like the whole beginning of everything for me.  Death, I still listen to them just as much as I did back when I was a kid.

M: That just reminded me, didn’t Richard Christy drum for you guys at one point?

V: He played on an album actually. He played on our ‘Antigod, Antichrist’ album.

M: Have you been keeping up with his Howard Stern things?

K: We talk to him.

V: Yeah, not saying we approve…(laughs)

K: Myself, I’ve personally known Richard for a long long time, back when he lived in Springfield, Missouri.  It’s just cool that he’s doing what he wants to do.  Back then he was living in his warehouse playing in Public Assassin.  Then he made the move to Florida, jammed with Acheron, and jammed with a bunch of bands.  Then he got Death and then he kept progressing and he always did little movie skits.  Always was into those parodies, and he loved doing that shit.

V:  One thing about Richard, too, I have to tell this story…this is a classic story.  He is so down to earth, the nicest guy, and he’s a brutal drummer.  We did a tour with Dark Funeral in Mexico.  He’s going to love that I’m telling this…what he does on Howard Stern ain’t gonna match it.  I was in the back with the Dark Funeral guys and he was up with the keyboardist at the time, Aaron, and they’re talking.  We were all just talking in the back, drinking and shit.  Richard just stands up and goes, “Well its official!” And we’re like, “What Richard?”  And he goes “I just shit my pants!”  Ahriman goes “Is he joking?” [Richard’s] like “I thought I was gonna fart, but it came out all mushy.”  That tells you Richard in a nutshell.

M:  I think that’s a pretty good ending right there!  Thanks a lot guys.

V:  Buy the album!

Nachtmystium Album Teaser – “No Funeral”

Posted in Nachtmystium, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

For the last few albums, Nachtmystium has somehow managed to embrace their influences of psychedelic and post-rock without totally abandoning their black metal roots. Enter “No Funeral,” their newly released track. With a synthesizer lick that is literally endless, grizzly black metal vocals, and industrial metal tendencies, “No Funeral” is one hell of a track. If this is any indicator of how fantastic Nachtmystium’s new album “Addicts: Black Meddle II” is going to be, then this June will be a fine time to be a Nachtmystium fan. – Cameron Davis

Click Here to Listen to “No Funeral”

Enslaved Studio Updates

Posted in black metal, Enslaved, progressive rock with tags , , on April 10, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

After receiving critical acclaim for their last opus “Vertebrae,” Enslaved is back with a new unnamed album. Since late January, Enslaved has been hard at work and kind enough to present fans with not one, but three studio updates. Each update contains hints as to the fluid approach Enslaved is taking with this exciting new release.

Mind you, these updates are not one-dimensional. Ivar and the Enslaved gang also include other interesting tidbits regarding their album art, birthday parties, and “behind the scenes” filming. Check this stuff out, because it is thoroughly good. – Cameron Davis

Click here to read all three Enslaved studio updates

Two Mini Reviews

Posted in black metal, death metal, immolation, metal reviews, satyricon with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Satyricon – The Age of Nero

Satyricon’s latest release, The Age of Nero, presents a solid take on modern blackened metal. From the lo-fi black metal of their early work, Satyricon has adopted a more rock beat and clean sound. Although a continuation of Satyricon’s departure from the growling discordance of pure black metal, The Age of Nero nonetheless presents a decent piece of Norwegian metal.

The album opens with “Commando”, a pulsing, chugging song that holds strong but fails to especially impress. Get past this somewhat weak opening and you’ll find some excellent metal to be had on this album. “The Wolfpack,” “Die By My Hand,” and “Black Crow on a Tombstone” show Frost’s drumming ability, throwing out a heavy, fast beat reminiscent of early Satyricon and Gorgoroth. Satyr strums out a solid cascade of guitar riffing, cranking the music into epic swells and falls. With “My Skin is Cold,” the duo presents a taste of a more traditional melancholy, a feel of something a bit more black. The medieval vibes of earlier works come into play strongly in “The Sign of the Trident” and “Den Siste,” echoing the rhythmic feel of “Angstridden” and other older work.

Though by no means a return to old school black metal, Satyricon has produced a respectable piece of metal in a vein entirely their own. They play with a more marketable, cleaner sound to be sure- but nonetheless put forth a potent piece of very heavy music.  The Age of Nero is above all else a solid, well-wrought album, a redemption from the lows of Now, Diabolical that hearkens to roots and affirms Satyricon’s place in the continuing evolution of metal. -Reis Galvan

Immolation – Majesty and Decay

This was my first foray into all things “Immolated” and I have to say I’m impressed. My initial vibe from this band was a subtle mix of Domination-era Morbid Angel (i.e. “Where the Slime Live”) and Celtic Frost, though I’m certain their influences run closer to the latter. After a prerequisite atmospheric intro track, “The Purge” produces some of the best lyrical/ vocal offerings I’ve heard since Death’s “Living Monstrosity.” Seriously, check this shit out: “ More and more, / growing and growing / Spreading and spreading, / taking and ruining / The CANCER is growing, / the CANCER is spreading.” If that’s not enough for you, “A Token of Malice” and “Majesty and Decay” absolutely kill due to an astonishing amount of   guitar-induced metallic oppression. This album is definitely worth checking out.-Cameron Davis

Interview with Cynic

Posted in Cynic, interview, metal interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Paul Masvidal is the founding member and vocalist/guitarist of the progressive metal band Cynic.  Since the inception of Cynic in 1987, Paul has been fusing the influence of his eclectic taste in music with his obvious musical talents to push the boundaries of metal music.  Max performed an interview with him to gain more insight into Cynic’s sound.

Courtesy of

I’m here with Paul from Cynic.  We’re at the Chicago leg of Cynic’s tour with Devin Townsend, Between the Buried and Me, and Scale the Summit.  On both of your albums, Traced in Air and Focus, you make use of that vocoder, pseudo-alien voice.  Is there a certain feel you’re going for when you use that voice?

Yeah.  I think originally the decision to do that back in the day was that I was insecure as a singer.  It was a combination of feeling that I didn’t really like how my natural voice sounded and could hide behind this alien voice.  But also, it ended up making a lot of sense once we got into it.  It added this sci-fi, kinda modern quality to the music and the whole vibe that worked.  I didn’t want a traditional melodic voice.  I was thinking of something just…different, but I didn’t know what that was.  And then over the years, since Focus and [moving] into Traced in Air and through numerous other projects, I think I learned how to essentially sing and found my voice.  So, the Traced in Air voice became like a 50% human, 50% android thing.  And it seems like it’s going more and more human.  We just did an EP and I did it all clean vocals.  So, it’s just kinda morphing.  But I think there is a trademark-y quality to that voice that’s part of Cynic’s sound.  It’ll always kinda be integrated, it’s just a question of how much.  Because on the first record there’s no human, it’s just completely android.  Which at times is cool, but it’s limiting if you really want to sing.  Because the technology isn’t there yet where, if you really kinda get into it, it doesn’t track great, y’know.  Especially in a live context.  So, I’m kinda trying to find that middle ground where I can still touch on that color and have that vibe going but also be able to free it up and have a more organic voice too.

-You mentioned that your new EP is all clean vocals.  Are you finding then that you’ll eventual move towards purely human vocals on all of your future recordings?

Yeah, who knows?  I mean, it’s funny that although there’s this human voice happening on the new stuff [the EP], it’s like…sci-fi/prog/folk.  It still sounds really modern and interesting.  But I think it has to do with the melodies and harmonies.  You start realizing that it’s the vibe vs. just an effect.  It’s almost like you don’t want to rely on the effect for anything.  The music has got to feel that way first.  But I dont know, we’ll see.  I’m sure there’ll still be some of it, it’s just that it’s one of those things that keeps evolving.  I find that I’m refining it constantly.  But it is kinda part of Cynic’s thing, it’s just figuring out how it works in the context of new material.

So, with both of Cynic’s albums you guys used Robert Venosa for the artwork.  Does his artwork mirror the subject matter of the lyrics and/or the music itself?

Well, since I was an adolescent, I’ve kinda been obsessed with Venosa.  I used to buy postcards and posters of his work from a little esoteric bookstore where I grew up on Miami.  And, it was one of those things where it just resonated with me.  It made a lot of sense what he’s doing.  It’s like one of those artists that you see their work and you just connect with it immediately; it just speaks to you.  I’d had that feeling with him since I was really young.  So, when we finally got signed to Roadrunner in the early 90s, we basically had an option to get artwork.  So, I contacted his publisher and they said to just call him directly, which I was shocked about because I thought he was some dude that like lived 100 years ago or something.  I didn’t even know he was a human, it was just really trippy.  It turned out that he was this really sweet guy who turned into this mentor, kinda friend for me.  To this day, we talk regularly and have a good friendship.  I almost feel like I’ve been trying to capture what he’s doing in his paintings sonically from day one.  How do I get it to sound like this? What this looks like, what this feels like. Y’know? (laughs) To me, it’s all the same thing really.  It’s just a different form.  The expression is the same.  Yeah, there is just some innate connection that’s really deep with Venosa that feels really pure.  And that’s why we go to it, it just kinda resonates.

Are you spiritual in any way?  On the newer album you include mantras and “om”s. Does this reflect your personal beliefs and convictions?

Since the Focus days, I’ve been actively meditating.  Just kinda, doing the work.  Trying to unearth all of the monsters and look at them and befriend them.  And at the same time, kind of just understand who I am and who we are in the greater sense…as a planet, as a species and then getting beyond that, just as a collective really.  I’ve been on the path a long time.  I would say Buddhism has definitely been the route for about 10 years now.  Yeah, it’s really kinda one of those things where as an artist your lyrics are an extension of your life and what you do.  It seems like if Traced in Air is more an earth-human struggle concept vs the first album when I was really new to all the stuff and I was really young and more innocent.  It seems like it’s gotten more intense and real in terms of what I’m getting at.  I’m getting closer to the core of something.  But, it never ends.  We’re on this journey forever or at least as long as we’re alive here.  It’s not about getting anywhere, it’s just about showing up for what’s happening.  So, that’s kinda the trick I think.  Just being present, being here.

-A somewhat less intense question now.  What have you been listening to as of late?  And what are some of your overall favorite artists?

God, I’m all over the place.  I’m a huge Radiohead fan.  I like this kinda slowcore group that I discovered recently from Iceland called múm.  They’re really great.  I also like Mew, another cool group.  Sigur Rós.  I like a lot of experimental stuff, in terms of poppier styles.  Fusion and Jazz, like the guitar player Ben Monder of New York, Pat Metheny, Allan Holdsworth, a lot of fusion guys.  I guess I haven’t been too keen on a lot of metal lately.  It just seems like it’s been more experimental rock.  We’ve been there for a long time.  It’s funny how we listen to a bunch of different stuff, but somehow the music comes out pretty heavy.  But I think it makes for more original and interesting music because you’re pulling from many different reference points.

-I was here last year when you guys played with Meshuggah.  The Cynic fans were of course very receptive, but there were a few Meshuggah fans heckling you.  Being that you guys are so different and diverse, does that happen a lot?  What goes through your head when something like that occurs?

Well, it’s funny because the little bit that may happen these days is nothing compared to what we experienced when we first started.  When you’re touring with a group like Cannibal Corpse in the early 90s, that was rough man.  Especially with this music, it was like no one got it.  It’s like what’re you guys doing, man?  This is not cool.  Clean parts?  Melodic vocals?  I mean, we even had a chick growling and playing keyboards.  And there were just no women in the scene, you know (laughs).  So, the whole thing was breaking all the rules in a sense.  I think in these extreme genres, you’re gonna get people that are fixed and don’t want to see things differently.  They just want to see things the way they imagine them to be.  I think the last time that happened, when I even heard them, because I usually don’t even hear them since there’s so much going on, I think I just said: someone give that person a hug.  You know?  They just want to be heard.  It’s like the class clown saying “pay attention to me!!!”  It’s kind of one of those things that I don’t take personally, it has nothing to do with us really.  It’s their stuff you know? (laughs)  I pretty much ignore it most of the time.

-It seems like people just don’t like to see music progress sometimes.

Yeah, I think it’s hard for people to be challenged a lot of times.  When you see an artist that’s maybe leaving the boundaries of what you’re familiar with.  It’s just not comfortable for some people.  Like, “Wait, that’s not cool.  You can’t act this way.  This genre should be this way!”  Which is really everything that we’re against.  We’ve always been about pushing the envelope and leaving the safety zones.  I think that’s the duty of any artist.  We’re here to bring something new to the table, it’s too easy to rip people off.    But, I think it’s one of those things where everyone has their own journey and process and we’re just trying to be on ours, regardless.

2nd Issue Cover

Posted in amesoeurs, Burzum, Issue Cover, Master's Hammer, Middle Eastern Metal, prog promulgation, Shaxul with tags , , , on April 4, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Here is the cover of the 2nd issue.  Created by friend Marina Kozak.  Shirts of this to come?  I think so!

Master’s Hammer – “Mantras” review

Posted in album review, avant-garde, black metal, experimental, Master's Hammer, metal reviews, progressive black metal, progressive metal with tags , , , , , , , on April 2, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

When the news of a new Master’s Hammer album broke last year, I was more than a little excited.  Their 1991 classic Ritual had already turned me into a Master’s Hammer fanboy, so the prospect of a new masterpiece had me eagerly looking forward to Mantras.  Being that their catalogue is ripe with innovation and experimentation, it comes as no surprise that Mantras continues in this genre-defying fashion.

“Typograf” starts the album off strongly with explosive energy, a simple yet brutal riff, and atmospheric guitar solos.  The next few songs follow in a similar fashion, including simple (and dare I say, predictable) guitar riffs combined with a dash of guitar or keyboard oddity.  If I had to pick a low point in the album, it would be these few songs.  Moments of glory shine through when they break from their traditional old-era riffs and throw something odd into the mix.

Luckily, beginning with “Bodhi,” Master’s Hammer begins to fully explore these experimental tendencies that were only hinted at in the prior tracks.  The songs are not as heavy, with many arguably not even being metal, let alone black metal.  However, I embrace their heavy usage of diverse keyboard sounds, nearly danceable beats, and odd song structures because it’s simply a joy to listen!  The songs all continue in this fashion, except for a cover of their old song “Jáma Pekel.”  However, even this track isn’t spared from the album’s weirdness due to its incredibly funky keyboard solo near the end.

Mantras has been a very difficult album for me.  When I first heard the samples offered on their website, I was ready for a new classic.  Does this album reach that status?  The stumbling in a few songs early-on does not help its case. However, it contains so many eccentricities and new sounds that my perception of the album is constantly changing. Who knows?  Perhaps the future will be kind to this unique piece of work. -Max