Archive for the interview Category

Interview with Akitsa

Posted in Akitsa, black metal, interview with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

For over 10 years now, Canadian black metal band Akitsa has been been crafting their unique style of eclectic punkish black metal.  Their newest album “Au crépuscule de l’espérance,” the first in four years, continues their unpredictable and unique approach to heavy music.  Pantheon performs an interview with Akitsa member O.T. to gain a deeper knowledge of their sound.

Akitsa’s new album “Au crépuscule de l’espérance” has just been released.  Are you pleased with the result?

Yes, we are pleased with the final result of the album. It possesses the deepest, most sincere lyrics we’ve ever written. Musically, it is evolving toward new ground while retaining the fundamental roots of Akitsa.

The lyrics of Loyauté and Vers La Mort seem to be both prideful and courageous, such as “Prends garde! La peur amène le déshonneur” (Beware! Fear brings dishonor).  Are these the types of lyrical themes that Akitsa typically wishes to address?  What else do you write about when creating lyrics for Akitsa?

“Loyauté” is about standing tall with your head high in any situation. Even in defeat, don’t act cowardly. Stay true to what you are. So yes, it’s about courage and pride. “Vers la mort’’ is about death.

It is noted that the lyrics for La Voix Brutale were borrowed from the poet Albert Lozeau.  Why did you choose to use this poem and do you often draw from poetry and/or literature when writing the lyrics and music for Akitsa?

This text from Lozeau is amazingly crude. It also reflects the overall mood of “Au crépuscule de l’espérance”. “Don’t wish, be not or from bones and flesh and have no remorse.” This is the only text we’ve borrowed from what I can recall. Our lyrics come as Akitsa does; we don’t rely on any specific thoughts when we create.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it sounds as if the audio quality changes from song to song on Akitsa albums.  Are all of the songs on Akitsa albums recorded at the same time and with the same equipment?

The songs were sporadically recorded at different time periods. This should explain the changes and variation in our sound as the settings were changed for each composition in order to reflect the exact sonic essence we were looking for. We normally use the same equipment every single time. Almost all of our recordings were made using an old 4-track that I have owned for years.

I see that you commented on the black metal scene back in an older interview, circa 2001/2.  But being that it is nearly a decade later, I’m curious as to what your thoughts are on the current black metal scene.

To be totally honest, I don’t believe that there is any scene right now. The state of black metal has changed enormously in the past decade, and it has evolved into something huge. Nowadays there are so many subdivisions of the genre and strangers who do not fully understand the basic spirit of black metal. It’s definitely impossible to talk about a single scene. Everyone is doing whatever they want on their own.

Have either members of Akitsa had any formal training in music or are you self-taught?

Néant is self-taught while I had some formal Piano classes at a very young age.

In your opinion, what is the best live show that you’ve ever played?

The New York City concert was our best.

Does Akitsa have plans to tour any time soon?

There are no plans as of right now, but we will see what the future holds.

What do you do outside of Akitsa?

We live our lives.

What are some of your favorite albums of all time?

This is a hard question and it could go on forever, I’ll name the few that come across my mind right now:

Absurd “Facta Loquuntur” and “Asgardsrei”, Arkona “Imperium”, Boyd Rice and Friends “Music, Martinis and Misanthropy”, Behexen “My Soul for His Glory”, Bethlehem “Dark Metal” and “Dictius Te Necare”, Brighter Death Now “Necrose Evangelicum” and “Innerwar”, Burzum “Det Som Engang Var”,“Hvist Lyset Tar Oss” and “Filosofem”, Darkthrone “A Blaze in the Northern Sky”, “Under a Funeral Moon”, “Transilvanian Hunger” and “Panzerfaust”, Deathspell Omega “Inquisitors of Satan”, Disembowelment “Transcendence into the Peripheral”, Genocide Organ “Remember”, Gontyna Kry “Welowie”, Ildjarn “Strength and Anger”, In the Woods… “Heart of the Ages”, Kaosritual “Svøpt Morgenrød”, Katharsis “666” and “Kruzifixxion”, Mayhem “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, Monumentum “In Absentia Christi”, NON “Blood and Flame”, “In the Shadow of the Sword”, “Might” and “God and Beast”, Peste Noire “Ballade cuntre lo Anemi Francor”, Rotting Christ “Thy Mighty Contract”, S.V.E.S.T. “Urfaust”, Samael “Worship Him”, “Blood Ritual” and “Ceremony of Opposites”, Varathron “His Majesty at the Swamp”, Veles “Night on the Bare Mountain” and “Black Hateful Metal”… The list could go on.

Thanks a lot for the interview, O.T..  Do you have anything that you would like to promote? Feel free!

Our new album is available right now on cassette and CD. Visit www.t-d-g.net to get your copy. Thanks for this interview.

 

Max

Advertisements

Wind of the Black Mountains – Interview with Tim Sever

Posted in black metal, interview, Uncategorized, Wind of the Black Mountains with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Here we present an interview with Tim Sever of the long-standing American black metal outfit Wind of the Black Mountains.


Good day to you, Tim.  How are you?

I’ve been good, busy as always it seems.

It’s been a whole 8 years since the last WOTBM album.  Is anything in the works?

Xaphan (Wastelander, SUmmon, Dark Psychosis) and I have an mcd recorded for Moribund that has been in the mixing process for quite some time now. After Tchort passed, Nunrapist (Cemetary Desecrator) had some old guitar and vocal tracks that he had rough recordings of from Tchort, we cleaned them up a bit and added what we thought needed to be added to make them full songs. I’m still not sure when this will be finished and sent to Moribund, but as soon as it is, it will be a day for us to celebrate. It’s definitely been a big pain and a very long wait.

Tchort, (of whom I must express my condolences of his passing), seems to have been the founding member of the band.  Why did he split from the band in 2001?

Tchort was definitely the sole and founding member of WOTBM. Unfortunately he also had his own demons that always kept him from doing more than he was capable of. I had went to visit friends in New Mexico for a couple weeks in 2001. Upon my return I had a lot of messages from concerned friends telling me Tchort had sold every part of his equipment to satisfy his addictions, which included guitars, cabinets, pedals, everything. When I got ahold of him about it, he informed me he couldn’t do it anymore, that he wanted to get his life straightened out for himself and his newly born son. He also expressed that he didn’t want WOTBM to be killed off and he wanted me to keep it going. The unfortunate thing with this was I’ve always kept myself busy with live bands as well as my kids, thus leaving WOTBM somewhat on the back burner, working on it when I had the chance.

Your first album, Sing Thou Unholy Servants, seems to have a much slower and ritualistic feel.  Your second album changes the style a bit by adding an element of speed and taking away some of the more experimental moments.  Was there a reason behind this slight stylistic change and did it have anything to do with the departure of Tchort the prior year?

There was no real reason for the change in styles, it just happened. As to where Tchort did everything by himself for the first album, he had a lot of time to go in and expirement whenever the opportunity arose. After he asked me to join him in doing this, we started getting a lot more of a full band feeling to it, plus, he always expressed he didn’t think a lot of songs on Sing Thou Unholy Servants would be able to be pulled off in a live setting. We wanted to play out live and with all the songs we had written after that album, we were able to do that. We would add live members to our ranks to be able to do shows here and there, but a lot of the shows we did, we did as a 2-piece.

Can you explain the album art for both of the full lengths?

The artwork for STUS I can’t explain too much about due to the fact that Tchort had picked that out before I was in the band. As for Black Sun Shall Rise, we searched and searched for artwork without knowing yet what the album would be called. We found the artwork and realised it went well with some of our lyrics, and we believed it also represented some of the inner demons that we are all controlled by, hence the reason for the male on the cover having his arms bound behind him with the temptations of life being there in front of him and him not being able to resist them. As for the new album, I believe the artwork and title Summoned by Shadows is pretty self explanatory. It shows a man walking into a forest with a demon hiding in the shadows. This title also goes well with Tchort’s passing as he was definitely drawn by his own shadows.

Is the unreleased album “The Return of Ancient One” supposed to be a full-length?  I have read that it was meant to be released back in 2002, but it still has not seen the light of day.  Will this ever be released?

Unfortunately, the material that was going to be used for this album was never recorded is now long gone with Tchort’s passing. Some of the riffs on Summoned by Shadows will be represented here, but as a whole, those songs are gone forever since they were never recorded. We wanted to make sure that everything recorded for WOTBM has Tchort’s preformances on it. After the Summoned by Shadows mcd is released, This band will be put to rest unless I miraculously dig up some more of Tchort’s works which I don’t see happening.

What are some of your primary influences?

Myself and Tchort pretty much listened to everything from old school black metal, death metal, and the early German thrash  bands. I also listen to a lot of the old east-coast hardcore and such.

Does Wind Of The Black Mountains play live?

Tchort and i played a few shows with just the two of us, but we also did many shows where we recruited live members. Past live members included Nunrapist (Cemetary Desecrator), Azazel (Left Hand Trinity), and Lord Nuzzi (Serpent Crown).

Do you find that the black metal scene is still going strong?

I believe it is, some of the bands are getting a lot more exposure out there now than what could have been fathomed years ago. The lines have become so dilluted now though, and it seems that if a band will throw on some corpse paint just to be labeled black metal and follow a lot of the trendy aspects of it. Unfortunately, unless you’re one of the old school bands that started out doing this 20 years ago (give or take a year or two), the shock value it used to hold has been lost.

What are some of your favorite albums of all time?

I could probably be here all day doing this. Like I said before, I have quite the diverse liking for a lot of extreme musics. Some of the earlier bands that got me into this that I can still listen to to this day are the obvious like Venom’s Black Metal, Celtic Frost’s Into Mega Therion, onto bands like Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Possessed, Sodom, Kreator of course. And then into bands like Behemoth or the old hardcore bands like Agnostic Front, Sick of it All, or what have you. It’s so hard for me to talk about favorite albums, styles, or even bands, cause each band and each album bring their own thing to it and all of them have certain aspects I like more or less than other recordings from the same bands.

Do you have anything that you’d like to add or promote?

I would definitely like to thank you, Max, for showing your support and interest in WOTBM. Hopefully the new album will be out soon through Moribund. Also, please check out my main live band, Genocya. We put a lot of the elements from the bands I’ve listed in this interview into our music, and we’ll be having a new cd out very soon. Thanks a ton!!

Thanks so much, Tim!

-Max

Interview with Dave Murray (The Deserts of Traun, Estradasphere)

Posted in Estradasphere, interview, Sculptured, The Deserts of Traun, Tholus, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

When did the idea to create the grand “Deserts of Traun” project first come to you?

It was a project started in the mid 90’s actually. We performed each piece of the trilogy one time only and made demos. There was art being projected above us as well. After Estradasphere I felt compelled to do something ‘solo’ that i could be as proud of, so I put my mind to re making the project and taking it from demo form to an actual record.

Can you explain the concept/story of Deserts of Traun?

It’s changed in order to fit what was possible recording-wise. In fact, I’ve changed it a third time and that’s why I am calling it version 3. Version 3 is a science fiction story with a lot of detective elements. The concept itself is about using music as the only vehicle for broadcasting a story. You have to use your imagination while the music hints at things. It’s very nebulous and since a musical story has a different pace then a written one (which has far more control) the object is just to allude to story.

Why did you decide to release Part III: Lilac Moon, before Parts 1 and 2?

Well, I set out to make a condensed ‘best of’ “The Deserts of Traun.” Then as I was fitting things together and including new material like “The Black Metal Princess” I felt that there was in fact a new story brewing and it sounded like a final chapter to me. That’s all.

It states on your website that the final installment “Version III” of the Deserts of Traun saga is going to be released this year.  What happened to Version II?  And will this year’s release be the definitive and complete result of the Deserts of Traun story/project?

Version 1 was the originals with Alfred (Daedelus), Joe, and myself in the mid 90’s. Version 2 (the Lilac Moon era) will remain unfinished, I guess, or will be absorbed by Version 3 which is what I am working on. The reason I am not finishing Version 2 and calling it there is because all the new material I wrote was not fitting the story I had outlined with Lilac Moon. I tore my hair out trying to arrange it but in the end I decided that the music would be better if I had somewhat more freedom to rehash the story and reorder/repurpose the music. The music is the most important part, so in order to bring the entire, final Traun to life I have put together a new storyline to follow. It’s a very difficult job trying to create a workable story from your complex and somewhat non negotiable musical score (if I can call it that).

How difficult is it to try to tell a story without the use of lyrics?  The music on Lilac Moon is superb at creating images and conveying feelings.  Is this something that you aim for intentionally?

I aim for it and it always nice to know that it works sometimes. Under a microscope the story kind of sucks on its own, it has holes and problems. Paul McKee and I have talked about adapting it to a real animated movie – but to do so would require a rewrite on its own to hold up traditionally. However non-traditionally, since it’s really just an add-on feature to the music, I don’t worry about it. It’s loose, it’s mostly about bullet point events, emotions and motive etc… that can actually pass as a story hinted at by the music.

The cover art for Lilac Moon is excellent.  How does it tie in with the story?  Will you return to Colby Bluth for future artworks?

The cover art is from the scene/track “The Desert of Traun” where the main character is crossing the blue desert on lizard back to the elevator in the distance. Colby is a friend and talented artist and I will definitely be working with him for the Version 3 stuff.

It seems that the animated trailer for the project by Colby Bluth is currently offline.  What was the purpose of this trailer and will it be coming back?

Just found out myself – I’ll email him and find out.

(Editor’s note:  After the interview, the editors found the animated trailer on youtube.  It can be viewed below.  Enjoy!)

Why did you split from Extradasphere in 2002?

The main reason is I didn’t like touring the way we were, and I needed to be more responsible with my finances. At that time it was not possible to create a safe and manageable business with them and I had bills to pay. Needless to say I didn’t like this and it led to non-cozy feelings.

What was it like working with Don Anderson and crew on Sculptured’s ‘Embodiment’?  Do you find that your eclectic styles mixed well?

It was great – professional and fun. He just gave me the stuff and basically I wrote and recorded the drums and sent them back. That’s all. Nice, great guy. Yes, I thought the styles worked well.

It seems that Tholus was originally the project of Mike Johnson and you were drumming for the band.  It’s my understanding that when Mike was unable to finish working on the project, you picked up where he left off and assembled an entire lineup.  Was this a one-time thing just to finish the album or is Tholus alive and planning another album?

Pretty much. I picked up where he left off – even though it was his music – because I had put a lot of time into the drums and actually had recorded them. I couldn’t bear to let the ball drop on this so I painstakingly got other people to finish the parts. It was a one-time thing – but Mike has mentioned he is working on new stuff. If it happens great – if not then that is OK too. I feel satisfied with Tholus and that part of my musical history with him.

You are one of the few musicians who truly creates a sound that cannot be classified into any set genre.  Do you find it difficult to work with other musicians/labels because of this style?  How do you think the listeners usually respond?

To me – post-Estradasphere – it seems normal to try new things by mixing up genres. I’m surprised I don’t see more of it still. But YES. It is nearly impossible to market because the industry is set to standards/genre. I couldn’t get Traun signed anywhere although the people at the label liked the music.

Is there any genre of music that you enjoy playing the most?

Death metal and jazz or fusion.

You seem to have a very broad taste in music.  What types of music do you listen to?  And what are some of your favorite bands/artists?

Meshuggah, Cynic, Dimmu, 80’s music. I do have a varied taste. I like the differences in musical genres and what they offer to the imagination. People usually can’t take my itunes library shuffle without becoming distracted or getting a surreal look on their face.

http://notdavemurray.com/

http://traun.notdavemurray.com/

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!

http://www.myspace.com/acheron

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 Gibson.com

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.


Interview with Shaxul – A Life Force of the French Black Metal Scene

Posted in Annthennath, Arphaxat, black metal, French black metal, Hirilorn, interview, Manzer, metal interview, Shaxul with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

Shaxul, a French metal musician, has had a place in the black metal scene for nearly 15 years now.  Starting in the epic band Hirilorn, he then founded Deathspell Omega in 1998.  Musical differences caused Shaxul to leave the band and pursue a different route.  Since then, he has been extremely busy with his record labels and multiple musical projects including Annthennath, Manzer, and Arphaxat.  Kindly, Shaxul agreed to answer some questions about his musical career.  Interview performed by Max.

-How does the song-writing process occur for Annthennath?

N°6 (guitar) writes the riffs and structures. Lyshd sometimes does it as well but it’s mainly N°6. Then the remaining musicians (Welkin on bass, Thyr on drums and myself on vocals) work on their own parts. I am responsible for all lyrics and concepts.

-I see that there are multiple releases planned for 2010.  Are there two full lengths and a split coming?  What can you tell us about these?

We are close to FROSTMOON ECLIPSE musically and they are friends so we wanted to do a split 7″EP with them. I came up with the idea of writing an exclusive song by each band which theme is infanticide as a natural selection. It should be available soon through REGIMENTAL Records (USA). I will release a CD through my own label ARMEE DE LA MORT Records, it will consist of 3 new tracks with a concept about nothingness, and several rare and exclusive songs so yes, it will be a full length when it comes to the duration but our real first album will be released by PICTONIAN Records, a local label run by a friend. The album is called “States Of Liberating Departure” and it features 8 tracks. It has just been mixed and mastered and I can’t tell you how much I am impressed with the result! I think this album will blow everyone away.


-Does Annthennath play live shows?

No, we are a studio band. We live quite far from each other for various reasons, we’re all very busy with other projects, and some members don’t like to play live so all this means we are not a live band. All in all, it is a part of our misanthropic concept. Personally I like playing live but I have another band for that, called MANZER.

-Regarding your now-defunct band Hirilorn, can you clarify the reason behind the break-up?

Sînn and Yohann became really too open-minded for me and Hasjarl. They were listening to many non-Metal shit, they took part in some stupid modern HardCore bands, Sînn sold his Metal collection to buy Electro/Indus shit, etc… We couldn’t stand this situation anymore. We suggested them to become session members only but as we expected it, they denied the offer and the band was dead…

-Do you foresee Hirilorn ever reforming?

It is absolutely impossible. The other 3 members don’t give a shit about HIRILORN, I don’t see them for 8 to 11 years and I simply hate them hehe…  Remember that I left them in bad terms. And I couldn’t reform the band with other members because there was a special unity between us back then, something that couldn’t be done again. Nowadays most bands reforming are very bad and it would be a shame and insult if HIRILORN would be a part of this circus.

-Prophetic Tales of Armageddon was never released until now.  Are all of the planned songs from that album on the new 2xLP?

Yes, they are all on this double LP. It has never been released before because unfortunately the band split up before recording the album. But I managed to find some decent recordings from rehearsals we made in 1999. They were good enough to be released on noble vinyl format. It is the ultimate testament of HIRILORN.

-Manzer is another one of your projects.  It seems to have a really old school feel to it, especially with your vocals.  It’s really reminding me of proto-black metal bands from the 80s.  What type of sound are you going for with Manzer?

I hate the “proto-Black” word, it’s mainly used by newcomers without knowledge about the Metal history, and VENOM are the creators of Black Metal, it is one of our biggest influence. So we are Black Metal, that’s all. Read old SLAYER mags for example and you’ll notice that the words Black Metal were used very often. Our main influences are VENOM, ABIGAIL, SABBAT, KILLERS, ATOMIZER, IMPALED NAZARENE, JAN DO FIAO, BATHORY, NME, BULLDOZER… We also want to show that Black Metal is not only the stupid norsecore style that so many people dig nowadays. We respect the roots of Metal and it is a tribute. We show we can do a traditional style with our own identity.

-Arphaxat is a duo with you on drums and bass and Draken on vocals.  What is the reason behind utilizing a no-guitar approach?

The reason is very simple: we can’t play this fukking instrument hahaha! We wanted to create a project together and we thought that using bass parts with a big distortion instead of the usual six-strings electric guitar would be OK. And it works, at least we’re satisfied with the shit we succeeded to create hehe…

-All of your musical projects (unless I’m missing some), seem to be rooted in the black metal style.  Do you foresee yourself ever playing in a separate sub-genre of metal or another genre of music?

Yes, I could play in other styles of Metal (as long as it’s traditional and not modern shitty sub-genres). It’s just that destiny made that I only played in Black Metal bands… Maybe one day I could play something else but my bands are very different from one to another so it’s really not an issue. I would like to find time to record something with traditional instruments from all over the world, nothing Metal here but it would be very special for me, the problem is that I don’t have the time for that and Metal will remain a priority for sure.

-How has your label Legion of Death Records been going?

It is going well since early 2001! This week I will unleash my 38th production, EXORDIUM MORS 7″EP from New Zealand.

-Is there a reason that you tend to sign bands that are not European?

Of course, it is the concept of my label. In Europe things are very easy when it comes to getting record deals. In some underrated or unknown places, it is very difficult. It’s a bit easier nowadays but back then it was a fukked up situation, really. I wanted to help the valuable bands in these distant countries. Though I always supported valuable European bands as well, by the way I have created a parallel label last year, called ARMEE DE LA MORT Records. It is mainly to support underrated bands from the French regions.

-What do you foresee for the future of black metal or just metal in general?

Metal will never die! People should be more underground to keep real Metal alive and they should have the balls to boycott all trends. But there’s nothing we can do, except supporting the real Metal spirit. I can mainly speak for myself and I will be Metal til death. This is the most important to me, I will never betray my thoughts.

-How would you describe the black metal scene in France right now?

It is getting better. To be honest I hated it during many years. Some years ago I discovered some bands with the correct attitude and tastes. And I want to support them with ARMEE DE LA MORT Records. I have already released 3 Black Metal albums, by FUNERAILLE, CARNYX and ANKRISMAH. Get them if you want to know what real Black Metal from France is all about. Nothing to do with the trendy ones that many non-French people seems to hail.

-What albums have you been listening to as of late?

As I run a label, I receive lots of new records all the time. And they are the ones I listen to. So for example, last week I listened a lot to NECROWRETCH, RESUSCITATION, TUDOR, COMBAT NOISE, INFERNAL CURSE, AFFLICTIS LENTAE, DEIPHAGO, CURSED NIHIL, ZÜÜL, etc… But of course I pick up an older record from time to time!

-What are some of your overall favorite albums?

It is extremely difficult to answer this question as there are so many but I can mention VENOM “Black Metal”, SABBAT “Envenom”, IRON MAIDEN “Powerslave”, SADISTIK EXEKUTION “The Magus”, MANILLA ROAD “Crystal Logic”, SARCOFAGO “INRI”, MASSACRA “Enjoy the violence”, SLAYER “Reign in blood”, etc…

-Any closing remarks or things you’d like to promote?  Thank you so much for the interview!

Not that I want to promote anything but I encourage everyone to check my webshop with tons of true underground Metal stuffs! That’s all, so 666 thanxxx to you for the support!!! My contacts:

LEGION OF DEATH Records / ARMEE DE LA MORT Records

WebSite + WebShop : www.legionofdeathrecords.com

E-mail : shaxul@orange.fr

MSN : shaxul666@hotmail.fr

Snail Mail : LOD Records / BP 21 / 86210 Bonneuil-Matours / France.

ACHERON Interview

Posted in Acheron, death metal, interview with tags , , on January 2, 2010 by GRAMPS Pantheon

And thusly we begin!  Here is the highlight of our first issue: our interview with the Ohio-based death metal band Acheron.  This was transcribed from a 35 minute audio interview recorded at their show in Madison, WI this past November.  Enjoy!

-Max

Acheron 1

Acheron 2

Acheron 3