Interview with Balan from Palace of Worms – Bay Area Black Metal

I spoke with Balan from Palace of Worms and we covered near death experiences, Catholicism, isolationist angry loners, synthetic humans and much more – read on

* Your latest album “The Ladder” came out on Broken Limbs records this year? How did that deal come about?
Getting hooked up with Broken Limbs happened quite easily and naturally.  I just emailed Peter and asked him if he wanted to release my record and after hearing it he said yes.   I was actually pretty surprised it happened that fast since finding labels is usually quite an ordeal.  I’ve been lucky.

* You were with the Flenser Records for a long time, how do you find working with Broken Limbs vs The Flenser
I was with The Flenser from the beginning and “The Forgotten” was the flagship release for the label so working with Jonathan was definitely a process from the ground up.  Even in its embryonic phase though Jonathan did a good job with his releases.  Peter’s label was already pretty established by the time I came into contact with him so he already had an audience and a solid identity for his label.  Peter is the fucking man.  His attention to detail and work ethic regarding his releases is phenomenal.  He promotes well and the record looked and sounded great.  I was looking for a diverse label after parting with The Flenser, but also a label that still released heavy music.  Glad I ran across BLR .

* Jonathan the Flenser founder is well known in the Bay Area – how did you meet him? and any stories about him you can share?
I met Jonathan at a show at a now defunct venue called Anne’s Social Club around 2008.  I was strange; one of my long time friends had a college class with Jon and had gotten to talking to him about music.  Jon told him he was starting a label and my friend passed the first Palace demo (The Decaying Despot) off to him.  I guess he liked it enough (I have no idea why) to want to release my next album which I had already started working on and wanted to meet me.  The pieces kind of just fell together and we ended up meeting at this show.  A pretty boring story but shortly after The Flenser released my album “The Forgotten”,  its first.  Jonathan worked as a bartender as his day (night?) job and I’m sure he grew tired of watching me get drunk and talk shit to the patrons of his club.  I’m afraid most of the stories about us revolve around me embarrassing him by being a mess.

* There is a great legacy of one man BM bands from Mortiis, Burzum to Xasthur and Leviathan why do you think we see so many good solo artists in the Black metal scene? (say as opposed to the death metal scene)
I guess there is just more of a “tradition” of solo Black Metal artists opposed to other types of metal.  The idea had already been represented by many artists by the turn of the century and it in some ways has become an unfavorable stereotype in the genre. Aside from the fact that the technology to create a professional sounding record in your bedroom is available readily to anyone with a couple hundred bucks I think that maybe the isolationist, angry loner aesthetic of Black Metal appeals to the aspiring solo musician.  As far as myself goes, I tried for a long time to find other people who wanted to create this type of music but in the end I just said fuck it, I’ll just do it myself.  Even to this day I think “well maybe if I get other band members the performances would be better, the drums would be better, etc” but Palace Of Worms at this point is so deeply tied into my psyche and its creation process so reliant on my own work ethic quirks I don’t think bringing anyone else into it would really result in something that I’d be happy with.  I have guest contributions here and there but the central vision I cannot compromise.

* What is the recording process like for you? Do you start with a guitar riff and build from there?
Yeah usually I start with the guitar.  Sometimes I’ll lay down some improvisational drums and build the song around that framework.  Other times I’ll sit down at the keyboard and play out the melodies.  It all depends on the moment and what I have readily available when that moment comes.

* Lyrically you cover a lot of stuff (at least it seems to me) on death, judgment, the rottenness of humankind etc – what draws you to the subjects and are you like this in “real life too? Or are you a happy go lucky type of guy outside of the band?
Death and judgment are definitely big themes that I like to work with and interest me.  I grew up in a pretty strict Roman Catholic family, and while I myself don’t believe in a all seeing, knowing God the imagery of Catholicism definitely stuck with me.  How could it not when it basically beaten into me?  Deliverance and damnation in my mind are much more personal.  Not so much about this generalized pentanence than about wrapping up the loose ends in your life.  As far the humankind goes, there is absolutely nothing kind about it.  I’ve come to accept this in my adulthood instead of writing in a perpetual existential spasm of horror.  People suck and I spend way too much time thinking about it in my daily life so I try to avoid the standard “angry at the world” lyrics these days. Usually the rotten person who I end up writing about is myself.  Most of my lyrics are about my collapsing temple and my burning altar.  I know that my time is short and my days are numbered.  I’m trying my best to overcome my demons because I don’t want the unknown night that we all have to face to descend while I’m still holding on to the meaningless things.  The demons will just tear your life away if you hold on.

* Have you had any near death experiences in your live?
Hmmm,  nothing like the traditional near death type stuff like a tunnel of light, etc but about 12 years ago I had this infection which went to my brain and my roommate found me blacked out on the floor and rushed me to the hospital where I ended up waiting like 3 hours with a 106 degree fever.  I was hallucinating all kinds of crazy things like scenes from that George Clooney movie “Syriana” playing out before me in the hospital waiting room but it was all hellish and twisted.  Finally they noticed me slumped over and muttering to myself and finally gave me some care.  That was horrible and I’m sure if anymore time had passed I would’ve died.  I was literally cooking in my own body.

* Do you feel our consciousness lives on after these bodies die?
Yes I think in one form or another.  Energy never really dies it just transforms.  I probably would’ve balked at the idea in my more nihilistic days but I’d like to think consciousness continues in a different form.

* What are your thoughts on blending the human mind/consciousness with synthetic bodies to extend the life span of humans?
I think it would be an abomination.  Life is not meant to be eternal.  We are already living way too long as a species and shit is getting fucked up as a result of it.  One of these days soon a virus or bacteria resistant to anti bodies is going to wipe us all out and maybe for the better.  We have forsaken the natural world for one of artificiality.  We worship this artificiality instead of the world that created us.  We want our bodies to be anything except what was given to us and we will twist ourselves into unnatural shapes through surgery and science in order to fit whatever bullshit standard  our peers currently consider beauty and value.  When we die our bodies belong in the dust and our minds will be set free.

* How does your work as Palace of worms differ from the other bands you are involved in?
The neurotic freak outs are private affairs and I don’t have to deal with garbage shows and unreliable band mates. I can control every aspect of the production, artwork, layout, etc.  This would never be possible in a democratic band situation.

* The Ladder made a lot of “best of 2016” lists this year – were you pleased with all of these results?
I’m surprised that people liked it that much.  I am not a good judge of my own work.  I can’t even listen to it once its done.  It just makes me cringe.  But yeah, I’m glad someone got something out of it.

* Do you see yourself touring (in the traditional sense) at any time in the future? Or would you prefer to just do special events? I saw Mortiis in 1999 on the Stargate tour and it was him behind chicken wire (blues brothers style) and he basically performed the entire album to DAT tape with full nose, ears and bat wings to me sometimes “events” can be more special that traditional drums/bass /guitar/singer tours.
Well I’m actually in the process of teaching the live band a set of songs right now.  The goal at this point would be to do a few small shows locally and then do a small west coast tour in the late summer with my friend’s band Ehecatl.  Touring the states really sucks but touring Europe would be rad if I somehow would be able to set that up.  I am jealous of you seeing Mortiis on that tour.  The Stargate is his best record!

* The Bay Area has had such a strong music scene for so long now – is there something in the water there? How do so many artists make it work when the cost of living there is one of the highest in the entire country?
Its getting harder and harder to make music and art here.  The Bay Area has a long history of producing great art and music but it has not been very friendly to artists since at least 1997 during the first dot com boom.  Now its even worse and you can’t even find a place in Oakland for a decent price.  Warehouses are a big part of the East Bay music scene and since the Ghost Ship fire the city has been coming down really hard on DIY venues and kicking people out.  Then after the artists have been booted out the real estate companies swoop in and turn the warehouses into overpriced condos.  Noise ordinances have also been hurting venues because of Techie yuppie fucks who have permanently sandy assholes don’t like people enjoying music that isn’t The Black Keys in “their neighborhoods”.

* What can we expect from Palace of Worms in 2017?
A split with the amazing one man Black Metal band from Indiana Ecferus which should be out at the end of the winter and another split with 3 other great Bay Area metal bands that will come out as a super limited 12″ self release available only through the bands.  All this in addition to the debut of the live band should make 2017 a very busy year for POW.

* Any final words to friends, fans and family?
Instead of slashing my wrists, I just write a bunch of really crummy songs. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

Interview with Enthauptung – Atmospheric Black Metal from Buffalo

I recently spoke with  Daniel from Enthauptung we talked about all sorts of cool shit, Astral Projection, The Adirondack Mountain range in upstate New York and playing gigs in abandoned grain silos – read on

* So one of the toughest things most bands find is coming up with a cool band name since most of the good ones are “already taken”. If I am not mistaken Enthauptung means Decapitation or decapitated? How did you come up with the name?
You are correct that Enthauptung means decapitation, in german. The idea to use this as our band name was brought forth by a former member whom discovered the word whilst studying music by a German composer known as Arnold Schönberg. We enjoy the aesthetic of Enthauptung, feeling it fits well with the trend in black metal to have a name of foreign origin and of difficult pronunciation. We use Enthauptung simply as a name, and not for the meaning of beheading. We don’t want people thinking it’s used for the sake of titling ourselves after decapitation, so we don’t discuss the origin of the name unless asked.

* You guys play a nice blend of Atmospheric Black metal, I like it a lot – how did you guys end up creating music like that ? I mean did you start by listening to Slipknot and Metallica as your gate way bands and soon found yourselves immersed in DSBM? or was there one person in the band who led the charge musically or?
Oh man… talking about where our sound came from could take me all day, I’ll try to answer efficiently. Our style is a powerful blend of everyone who has contributed to our creative process. I started this band with some college peers when I was an undergrad, inspired deeply by USBM bands such as Krallice and Wolves in the Throne Room. Simultaneously, our drummer at the time and I were playing tech death metal on the side. Through this we brought in Joe who currently plays guitar with us. The death metal wasn’t really going anywhere so we decided to focus strictly on black metal. However, the roots in tech death spurred lots of the characteristics that define us such as odd time/rhythm patterns, intricate harmonies, and scarce repetition. We have gone through quite a few lineup changes but I am incredibly grateful and fortunate to have always surrounded myself with superb musicians. Our current line up is the best I could ever imagine it being and all of us are strongly contributing to the creative process. Joe and I both have backgrounds in jazz, Jason is clearly very well disciplined and trained in theory, and Derrick is questionably superhuman considering how great he is as a self taught drummer. Derrick has yet to record with us and we are extremely excited to do so. All of us have backgrounds and interests in a wide range of metal subgenres, and other genres as well (jazz, post rock, folk…). We choose to play atmospheric black metal with this eclectic background in mind which contributes to our uniqueness.

* How was the recording process for the album Adirondack and were you guys happy with the entire process and finished outcome?
Adirondack was self recorded and produced at Joe’s personal studio. We did a great job with it and are extremely satisfied; however, naturally we have our gripes with it. A few drum parts were conceived on the fly, vocals were all recorded in one day on a thrown out voice, and the time to mix and master was rushed based on deadlines. I think most listeners would never notice or complain, but we as the creators will always look back on it lingering on what we should have done differently.

* You guys sing about some pretty bleak subjects..what inspires your lyric writing?
The themes of my lyrics have ranged over time, from depression and negative emotions early on, to themes on dreaming and psychedelic experiences, to concepts on fantasy, desire, and the unknown. One thing that remains constant is that the lyrics will always be a reflection of myself, my emotions, and my experiences. I’ll never waste time singing about idiology, religion, or social commentary.

* Songs like distortions in space (from your last EP A forming Void) seem to me to be about astral projection? If so do you practice? Any weird experiences with it?
You are close there. Inducing altered dream states and dream journaling have been massive influences on me, and generate a strong sense of imagination and creativity. I’ve written lyrics about Astral projection, and I practice AP alongside lucid dreaming. Distortions in space; however, is about a salvia trip I had when I was younger. It was a very traumatizing hallucination, but also incredibly eye opening. Circadian/Petrichor are songs about lucid dreaming and AP. The lyrics to circadian that are printed in the Paths Forgotten insert are directly extracted from a lucid dreaming experience I had where I was alone in a desolate landscape coated in pine trees and standing knee deep in snow. Despite alone and in the cold, I felt at peace. It was absurdly realistic, I recall the setting vividly to this day. I didn’t want to wake up, and after I woke up I thought about it all day… I just wanted to go back.

* What do you think has been the biggest change in Black metal in the last 15 years?
Black metal can be pretty sounding  nowadays. Debatably…

* You guys are all the way up in Buffalo right? (To be honest at first I thought you guys were from some weird little mountain town in the Adirondacks – that would have been cool too) How’s the scene in Buffalo? do you find you play more Canadian shows than NY state shows?
I WISH we could live in the Adirondacks. Unfortunately the Adirondacks don’t have concert venues. Or jobs. Enthauptung is based out of Buffalo, though I moved to Maryland for a valuable job opportunity, a decision I’ve been fighting to come to terms with. The buffalo scene is small but close knit, and some of my best friends I’ll ever have are a part of the scene there. Partnering up with Rochester, we’ve got tons of talent and a lot of great people who are all friends with one another. We don’t get huge shows or massive headliners, but we get intimate crowds and plenty of talented acts visiting our DIY venues. Lastly, Enthauptung has never played in Canada, nobody has ever reached out to us. We’d love to though.

* What’s been the best gig you guys have played to date? and why was it?
Our album release for Adirondack. It was surreal… Through a lucky set of circumstances we were able to set up a show inside an abandoned grain factory, and had bands play inside a (150 foot?) tall concrete grain silo. It was November. It was cold. It was dark. It was windy and we didn’t have much shelter from the increasing winds, but we did have bonfires and crockpots filled with chili. We lit the pitch black interior with candles and dark red/blue stage lights. It was the single most raw and DIY shit I’ll ever see in my life. When we were loading in, my friend placed a snare down and gave it one hit inside the silo and it reverberated for perhaps 10 seconds, shooting chills up my spine, letting me know we were about to experience something insane. At the end of our set during an encore, the winds picked up to violent levels as it began hailing while we concluded our set with circadian. Candles and empty beer cans flew all around us as we collectively realized we had summoned a fucking hurricane.

* Do you have any plans for touring – either the US or Europe or like many BM bands do you just plan to play “events”?
We would like to tour, yes. I believe in 2018 we will have had time to spread more word and expand our network such that we can set one up. It will happen one day, I won’t allow myself to have it not happen.

* Have the band played NYC before? if so how was it? I presume you guys have all visited NYC in the past?
We have never played NYC. Comparing ourselves to a few of the bands in Brooklyn, I think we’d be received well there. I cant speak on behalf of the other members, but I have a love hate relationship with NYC. None the less I’d love to experience playing out there and channel the energy of such a large, exciting area into our performance.

* What can we expect musically for the next album?
We are halfway through writing a new album. Our next album will follow the same trend our previous releases have followed; a continued expansion towards a better version of what we already do. Faster playing, better harmonies, more eclectic, better production… We are not changing our style, nor or we capping out our capability. We are just continuing to produce a better version of what we already do.

* Any final words? Shout outs to friends and family?
I firstly want to thank you for reaching out to us for this. It means a lot to underground musicians every time someone new takes interest to what they do. I secondly want to give a shout out to people who still take the time to listen to 10+ minute songs in full. Desire for instant gratification is all too common these days, and if you are taking the time to listen to our extensive songs in full I hope you find it rewarding.

Interview with Khemmis – Colorado Doomed rock ‘n’ roll

Decibel magazine’s album of the year winners Khemmis spoke to me about murder hotels in Vegas, winning album of the year, Colorado’s legal weed and much more – read on:

* First off congratulation on having album of the year in Decibel magazine – how did that feel? shock? validation?

Both. We were all very proud of the album, but we were definitely shocked to be at the top of such an amazing list with so many tremendous records and bands. Anyone who plays in a band will tell you that there are a lot of personal sacrifices and compromises to be made along the way, so having our names grace the pages of Decibel is very validating.

* Did you know when writing and recording the Hunted that you had something special on your hands?

It was definitely special to us. In our minds we had made an album that we enjoyed playing and listening to, and we did it together. The fact that it speaks to other people is icing on the cake. Dan (bass) was a bit concerned that, because the album lacked a focus on some of the stoner elements found on Absolution, we may lose some fans along the way. The other guys were more confident that other people would dig it. Regardless of any doubts we may have had, we never contemplated doing anything other than evolving into what you hear on Hunted.

* You guys call yourself Doom Rock N Roll – when I listen to your album I hear Sabbath, Candlemass, St Vitus, Traditional metal plus heavy bands like Yob and Pallbearer..which came first? Your traditional metal influences or did you start off with bands like Pallbearer and discover bands like Thin Lizzy later?

Though Black Sabbath predates the Doom label, they are generally considered the godfathers of the genre. Candlemass and St. Vitus are both known as doom bands too, though we understand the ambiguity in such labels. We’ve all been influenced by those classic Doom lords, but we’ve never had a conversation about wanting to sound like them or newer bands like Pallbearer. More directly, a shared love for Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Sleep and Yob are the cornerstones of this band.

* Lyrics to your songs are pretty dark and dismal but you guys seem pretty well adjusted and fun loving..what’s the trick between striking a balance between the two?

We don’t believe that having fun and being well adjusted precludes having a dark side. In fact, people without a dark side, probably aren’t very functional, as they’re denying a natural part of their being. Our music allows us to achieve balance by being an outlet for us to discuss those things that can consume our thoughts or haunt us; we can exercise our fears, pain, and frustrations.

* Khemmis is an Egyptian city right? have any of the band visited there? Would you guys like to play there as a band or just visit as tourists? I know guys like Nader Sadek are trying their best to make Cairo a destination point for touring metal bands but I fear that with the way the religious right are there playing any form of metal will soon be illegal!

Khemmis is the Greek name for an ancient Egyptian city that was the birthplace of Horus. It is generally believed that the current city of Akhmim is the descendant of that place. The mythology of the city is interesting, but none of us have visited. There are so many places in the world we’d love to play, we’re sure Egypt would be a great addition to that list.

* Your previous album Absolution was done with 20 buck spin as well. How did the deal with 20 buck spin come about?

Zach (drums) had a relationship with the label through his previous band, Vasaeleth; 20 Buck Spin put out a couple of their albums on vinyl. Zach planted the seed of working together while we were recording, and, once the album was finished, Dave (of 20BS) was the first person we sent it to. Zach really trusted and respected 20 Buck Spin, so we were all excited when they agreed to release the album.

* I know there was a cassette release of The Hunted as well – does it surprise you that cassettes have made such a “come back” especially in the underground metal scene?

It is surprising, though we all understand the nostalgia to some degree. We also understand the desire for bands to get their music down on physical media, and cassettes are still an inexpensive way to do that. For us, cassettes were never something we planned on doing, but we’re glad it makes some people happy to have them.

* Hailing from Colorado how do you feel the legal weed ruling has impacted the local scene? Has it made things better or worse?

No impact. The people who smoke weed and like stoner rock have always smoked weed and liked stoner rock. No fewer or more people come to shows or play in bands in Colorado as a result of legalized weed, at least not in our world. Snoop Dogg probably visits more often than he used to. Maybe hippie jam band weirdos have been affected, but if it has affected the metal scene in Denver, it’d be hard to prove.

* What does everyone do for day jobs? Is the plan to go full time with the band or would you rather keep it a passion as opposed to a career?

Although there is nothing we love more than playing music, we all knew that the band would take a place behind our families and career aspirations. Ben and Phil are PhD candidates; teaching, researching, and working on their doctorates. Zach is the talented head brewer at a great Denver brewery. Dan is a project manager and engineer on large scale commercial and infrastructure projects. Though we never intended to be a touring band, we’re all willing to make reasonable compromises in our work and home lives to explore unique and exciting opportunities.

* What’s been your favorite cities to play when on tour?

We’ve had varied responses in most of the places we’ve played more than once. For instance, the first time through Sacramento was a bummer, that last time was great. Despite the insane heat, Phoenix has always been pretty good to us. LA has been fun too; our friend Mike is a great host.

* What’s been the worst city and why?

Vegas. The show we were told we’d have was never was a real thing, and the show we ended up with was a mess. We sold no merch and played in front of 3 (very nice) people. We couldn’t find an affordable hotel in the whole city, and we got paid with an 18” cheese pizza. On the way out of Vegas, in search of reasonably priced accommodations, the only vacancy we could find was a murder room full of blood and feces (like blood spatter on the walls and beds). We ended up driving through the night to Phoenix.

* Any places you guys have yet to play that are on your bucket list? South America? Russia? New Zealand? that type of thing

Those all sound good. I think we’d be satisfied with a string of successful European dates at this point. One or two cool fests on that side of the pond would be ideal.

* You guys are playing Psycho Las Vegas in 2017 are there any bands on the bill there that you are looking forward to catching?

Yes… all of them. It’s an incredible lineup. It’s kind of hard to imagine how we’re going to be able to take it all in. It wasn’t easy for us to make it happen, but we’re glad we could be part of such a great event.

* Any final words to your fans?

We are very grateful for all the support we’ve received. The folks who come to the shows and pump their fists, or sing along, or even just share an encouraging word, really make this experience an enjoyable one for us. In 2017, we’re playing more shows outside of Denver than ever before, so we hope to meet many more of you good people on the road.

Interview with Cepheide – Atmospheric French Black Metal

I am a little late in the game picking up on French Black Metal band Cepheide. I actually bought their 2015 release Respire on a recommendation from the guys at 20 buck spin. I soon found myself playing their album daily – so you know the score I had to find out more about these guys. So I talked to Gaetan ( Vocals & Guitars ) and Hugo ( Bass) to find out more about them

* During the glory days of Death metal – you had world class bands coming out of all of the Uk and Europe except for France – they never really got Death metal fully at the time (thats not to say you didn’t have many fans there then) however in my opinion French Black metal you guys, Deathspell Omega, Alcest, etc are all world class – why do you think the French embraced black metal more than Death metal?

G: It might be more about culture than ability. Unlike Death Metal, that strives for efficiency, be it on a technical level or in the universe around it (cover art, band names…), the Black Metal themes often have a romantic touch, in the lyrics and in the way it sounds. In its history, France has had a lot of great authors, poets, which has been an inspiration for many bands (using poems as lyrics, as track titles…). It might cause a higher natural sensibility to Black Metal than it would be for Death Metal. That being said, I find it difficult to speak about an entire musical genre in a general way, but I think our culture has a lot to do here.

* You guys are a 3 piece – I find many 3 piece bands to be more “tight” than bands that have 4 or more members, was this a conscious decision ? or do you plan to add more guitarists? keyboards later?

G: There is no definite state regarding the line-up. During the demo, we didn’t think bass was required because we were looking for a specific sound. While we work on our new album and for lives, we replaced a guitar with a bass, because it gives our sound more amplitude, and it fits our new tracks better. We might decide to bring in another guitar if necessary, however keyboards are not part of my musical culture nor my writing process.

* How did you discover Black Metal? What are your favorite Black metal bands?

G: I discovered black metal rather late, around 18 years old. It first was a way of expressing myself on a musical level, then it somehow turned into a way of life. Being more sensitive to long pieces, I’m mostly into Atmospheric BM (Yellow Eyes, FellVoices, Ars Diavoli, Sun Worship, Ash borer … )

H: I discovered black metal through the post-rock/shoegaze side of Alcest, but it took me a while to actually dive more into that scene. It’s quite recently that I really started to listen and enjoy it. I’m quite a fan of the Atmospheric/Post BM bands that combine the beauty and melancholy of Post-Rock/Shoegaze and combine it with the rawness of Black Metal.

* Can you tell me much about the Paris Black metal scene? Are there other cities in France known for good black metal scenes?

G: To be honest,I don’t know if there really a Black Metal scene in Paris, or anywhere else in France. To me, there are great bands, but not as a collective.

* You guys play Paris a fair bit – what has been your favorite Cepheide show so far?

G: Each concert has it specificities. For instance, our live wit Scattered Purgatory and Heimatlos was very intense because we were playing new tracks, and really wanted to do something new. Our last show was heavily symbolic for me because we were playing with Hexis, a band I’ve been following for many years and that I went to see live a few years ago. I think each concert is different, and we chose not to play too often, so that we can offer something new at each show. This makes all concerts unique.

H: The concert with Scattered Purgatory and Heimatloss was my first with Cepheide, so I guess it’s special for me. But also, as a band, it was the beginning of something new for us.

* Have you played other countries yet? If not what countries are you looking forward to playing?

G: At the moment, we only played in France, but have some opportunities abroad for the year to come, mostly in central Europe. Since we don’t want to play too often, we select our dates with care.

H: I’d love to play in Estonia because I lived then for a couple years.

* I know you guys are working on a new album – what is the recording process like for Cepheide? Do you record in the traditional way like a recording studio , like a rock n roll band or do you use computers ? please explain

G: We do the recording ourselves. First we do a rough recording to be able to take a step back, then we record one instrument at a time in our rehearsal studio. We mostly try not to denature the sounds during the recording, so that it’s as similar as what was intended during the writing.

* When can we expect a release of the new album?

G: It should be out next Summer (2017)

* And what can we expect to hear musically on the new songs?

G: There’s a real evolution compared to the EP, both on the format and in the sound. It will be a full album of 5 or 6 tracks, of 7 to 15 minutes each. A bit less minimalistic in the structures, a bit more aggressive. We’re trying for each tracks to have its own identity, and are taking risks to challenge our way of playing and writing.

* Your Respire Ep release painted dark moods to me – what is your inspiration in writing songs? Do you have a process? Do you start with say a guitar riff or drum pattern or something else?

G: There’s no clear source of inspiration per-se. We wanted to do a 2 tracks piece, that would be a whole both in the music and the lyrics. The rest came itself. The writing often comes from a guitar melody, that evolves as we play it together.

* Any final words to your fans?

G: We’re really impressed to see the support and interest people have in Cepheide everyday, and we truly appreciate it. We’re putting a lot of efforts into our next release, and are really eager to release it to you! We do hope that you’ll still enjoy our take on Black Metal! And as a small extra info, the album is called “Saudade”

Interview with Inter Arma – “The worst band from Richmond, VA…EVER.”

I recently interviewed drummer TJ from the Richmond Based Death / Sludge / Black metal band Inter Arma here is what he had to say

* Richmond has a long history of great metal bands coming out of there – why do you think that is?
Richmond is very much so a transient city. Hardly anyone who lives here is actually born and raised here, myself included. A lot of imported talent.

* You have done a couple of releases on Relapse now – How did your deal with those guys come about and how do they compare as a label versus the indie labels you were on before hand and your self released stuff?
A friend of a friend of a friend gave someone at Relapse an as of that point unmixed copy of Sky Burial and they got in touch with us from there. Relapse is great. They’re good people and treat us well. They’re a little bit larger label and have their fingers in a few more pies so the exposure is a little bit better there.

* Paradise Gallows is one of my favorite records of 2016 such a great mix of doom, death, sludge, black metal – how do you guys write songs is it just Trey or Steve that come up with riffs or does everyone bring some thing to the party?
Everyone brings in ideas and riffs and we just pound em’ out in the bandroom. As far as the mixture of genres, that’s never a premeditated thing. If it sounds good and it feels good we run with it.

* Some of your song writing covers Post Apocalyptic themes – do you think that our society has a chance of carrying on or do you believe we need a major reset like a new black plague or Zombie Apocalypse to “cleanse the earth?”
Even with the recent “changing of the guards”, I think life will go on and I don’t believe any real change will happen. The rich will continue to get richer and the poor will still write heavy metal records.

* What sort of movies do you guys watch to gain inspiration for your music?
I enjoy movies in a different capacity. To me, they’re an escape for 1-2 hours. I can’t remember ever walking away from a movie and feeling inspired other than watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and wanting to party.

* Staying with the post apocalyptic theme – the band name means “in times of war” right? Who came up with the name and what were they trying to convey by calling yourselves Inter Arma?
The name comes from the latin phrase “inter arma enin silent leges” which translates to “in times of war the law falls silent”. As far as who came up with the name… I have no idea. It’s between two past members and they still argue over it.

* Some of your songs have an almost trippy / psychedelic feel to them – do any of the band use psychedelics and if so what ones do they prefer Mushrooms? Acid? Ayahuasca? DMT?
I plead the fifth

* What was it like touring with Carcass and Deafheaven – what was your biggest “take away’ from working with both bands?
I wouldn’t necessarily say we learned anything other than both bands are filled with wonderful human beings and we learned to love Jagermeister.

* How well are you guys received in Europe? I know some US bands can’t get arrested here in the US and are loved in Europe and some bands do amazing in the US and the Europeans don’t want to know..where do you guys fall on this?
Europeans seem to dig us and I’d even go as far as saying that they’re a little more understanding of this slightly odd type of music that we’re playing.

* Which countries have you guys yet to play and which ones are you dying to hit? South America? Australia? Korea? etc
If there’s a country we haven’t played yet then we want to play it. Hell, we want to go back and play all the countries we’ve already played as well. Specifically, I’d like to play in the U.S.S.R.

* What can we expect new from Inter Arma? More touring? New Album?
Taking the holidays, playing a 10th anniversary show in February then hitting the road again.

* Any shout outs of final words?
Keep on rocking in the free world!

-T.J.

Interview with Cardinal Wyrm – Bay Area Doom

Been listening to these guys since their  album Black Hole Gods (2014) and figured it was time to do an interview with them. Here we go
Where does the band name come from?

PRANJAL TIWARI: It’s derived from the Wyrm Mythos works of the occultist, hallucinogenicist, obliteratus, and former British colonial functionary Godwinson Asquith Stanley. Who was once my next-door neighbor.

NATHAN A. VERRILL: Some people say Stanley was a curious fellow of many, many words.  Some say old G.A. can be seen sometimes, only at dusk, walking hooded and silent in the darkness.

What bands influenced you guys growing up?

PRANJAL: We’re all born in the 60s and 70s so maybe that will give you an idea. Up to a certain point it was whatever was on the radio or whatever you could get your hands on at the local store. In my teenage years I got into metal and punk but I’m pretty sure the first LP I owned was the Muppets doing Saturday Night Fever. I definitely think you can hear the influence of ‘Rubber Duckie’ and ‘C is for Cookie’ on our new record.

LEILA ABDUL-RAUF: I started playing guitar at age 13 and played in my first band when I was 15 but I had already at that point been playing trumpet for several years in the jazz, marching and concert bands in my school, so I had a strong classical foundation. I was exposed to all kinds of music as a small child – not just western pop and classical music, or underground western music, but also music my family played in the house from the Arab and Asian world. I had a religious upbringing (or at least my family tried!) and was surrounded by sounds of Quran recitals and calls to prayer, which definitely informed my musicality. Because of the diverse background I had from birth, I can’t really sum up my influences in a handful of artists!

NATHAN: I sang in choir and played cello as a child.  I picked up guitar at a similar age to Leila. I am influenced by so many people who’ve written or played western classical music, jazz, free improvisation, metal, gospel, punk, ambient and experimental electronic music, country, hip hop.  I’m sure Pranjal would agree that Animal of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem were crucial influences on not only future drummers but anyone who wanted to bring unbound exuberance to music.  And we all knew the direct line that could be drawn from Cookie Monster to Napalm Death and other death metal bands to follow.  And we saw that it was good.

Was it always your plan to sing and play drums or were you just going to sing until you guys “found the right person” to front the band?

PRANJAL: In the original Cardinal Wyrm lineup, I was playing bass and signing. Drums have always been my main instrument in terms of experience, though. When we parted ways with LK who was playing drums in the original lineup, I decided to take over and play drums and sing. I figured if Phil Collins and Don Henley could do it, so could I!

NATHAN: Pranjal was playing drums with me on guitar/bass in our pre/proto-Cardinal Wyrm two-piece lineup. The shift of instruments after LK’s departure felt like a welcome return home. When Pranjal then added singing to playing, it was like the clouds parted and the hand of Kelly Keagy reached down through the blinding light above to place his hand on our foreheads and give us His holy blessings.

You guys sing about depression and the occult a fair bit – Are you singing from personal experience?

PRANJAL: We try to evoke what is inside us through our songs, and the lyrics are a big part of that. Though the specific focus of the lyrics can vary from story-telling (as in “After the Dry Years” or “Grave Passage”) to straight descriptions of incidents such as in (“Dreams of Teeth” or “Ruin”), at the core of it the subject matter has dealt with the sense of wandering, being between worlds, being lost and not belonging anywhere. I think we all have personal experience with this in our lives. The occult stuff when it appears in our music is reflective of the desperate search for meaning, of grasping at straws, trying to find something to cling on to, a thread that will show you the way, a resonance that will orient you on a path. This has mixed results, both for the characters in the stories we tell in our songs, and for us personally.

NATHAN: We’ve known some dark times whose tentacles still sneak through our music.  Do we sing from personal experience about the occult?  I can only say, “JQ’GP’VH USEB N’DRACRO FL’WYM STI!”

Leila is in about 50 other bay area bands – how did you convince her to sing and play bass for you guys?

LEILA: It’s really just five bands – if you include my solo project too – and CW is a great band so it didn’t take much to convince me! I can’t think of any other band out there right now that sounds like us.

PRANJAL: Leila used to play with us doing live backing vocals on a few songs before she joined on bass, and she even joined us on our Southwest tour in that capacity. We’ve all known each other and played music together for a while and so when we needed a bass player we made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. Well, didn’t refuse. Thankfully.

NATHAN: Pranjal and I have known them Vastums for several years, both bands having done time in different rehearsal rooms in the same building in the Tenderloin District in Downtown San Francisco. We’ve since all departed for Oakland, CA. Over the last couple of years, I’ve played music and provided visuals for Leila’s solo project.  I’m very happy that she’s been able to join us in this band and share her unique and considerable talents with us. This is dope.

The entire Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the entire USA right now. that said why do you think there are so many good bands coming out of the bay Area right now? Usually you find a strong scene where the cost of living isn’t so harsh, Seattle in the 90s, Richmond VA anytime, NYC in the 70s etc.

LEILA: The bay area has had a solid underground music scene for decades. Certain underground scenes grew and shrunk and then grew again over time, but I think the solid foundation made over the many decades has had long lasting effects, even in the face of the worst gentrification we’ve ever seen. Unlike most areas of the U.S., the bay area also has rent control, which is the only reason why artists who have been living here for a long time are still able to afford to live here, myself included.

PRANJAL: I mean the cost of living in SF and Oakland used to be much lower too, and the hyper-gentrification we’ve seen lately has really only been in the last few years. In general I think you’ll find the underground music scene in the Bay Area is made up of people who have been here a while and have the networks to be able to survive in such an expensive area – friend or family connections for example, knowing who to contact for a room in a house or for work, or maybe they’ve lived in their apartment for a while and have rent control and / or know their landlords. It’d be a very difficult place to move to right now without those connections. That said, there’s still a lot of great bands from out here and a healthy music scene in 2016 – thanks to a lot of people who work very hard to keep it that way.

NATHAN: The recent fire and tragic deaths of over 36 people, friends and family in our extended community, at the Ghost Ship Warehouse in Oakland, CA was horrific.  It also illustrates in many ways where we are at now. This was a hazardous space similar to those most of us in the metal, punk, goth, electronic and experimental scenes have had to play at various times all of our working lives. If you are a musician or an artist, a writer, etc., a content creator and not a large shareholder in one of the top transnational media corporations, odds are you are struggling and planning your next inevitable move as your current niche habitat gets (once again) gentrified and you are priced out. In general, all of us who get our money to live from our actual work and not from dividends have the same problems.  We struggle to be fed, clothed and housed. We struggle to have and maintain “public” places that we can meet, commune, celebrate, and feel safe and support each other, especially if we are a person of color and/or a member of the LGTBQ community. Meanwhile, the CEOs of crony capitalism continue to try to drain the last drops of blood from us to sell for a dollar. We are nothing without the support of those we love, of our friends and of our communities.
cardinal-wyrm-castaway-souls-cover

Black Hole gods was one of my favorite records of 2014 – how would you say the band’s sound progressed over the next 2 releases?

PRANJAL: Thanks! There’s only been one record since “Black Hole Gods,” which is called “Cast Away Souls” and came out in October 2016 through Svart Records. I think the new record takes some more risks and branches out in some different directions to Black Hole Gods. To use the respective imagery of the albums, Cast Away Souls is less cosmic, and more like drifting on a river through dream islands encountering various tales and beasts along the way. There are plans for a split 7″ with our Finnish buddies Mansion either in December or in early 2017 which I think branches out even further than the new record does. A sign of things to come, perhaps.

NATHAN: We’ve had a steady path of growth and development between our albums as well.  After we released our first album “Another Holy Trinity,” we released a single, “The Persecuted Crone,” which remains one of my favorite songs to date. Prior to the release of our second album we released a cover of Rudimentary Peni song “The Enlightened Dreamer” that for the first time revealed some of our maybe hidden post-punk influences.  We had the opportunity prior, to the release of our latest album, to contribute a Bathory cover, “Enter the Eternal Fire,” to a local compilation.  We were able to refine what we learned on “Black Hole Gods” on this single release.  We’re currently writing towards our next release and we hope to deliver an even more focused yet diverse, intense, and likely, very weird experience.

How did your record deal with Svart Records come about?

PRANJAL: We released Black Hole Gods digitally in 2014, in order to have something to show labels who might be interested in releasing a physical copy of the album. After many months of reaching out and trying to elicit a response from anyone (it’s tough these days to even hear back from labels) Svart eventually contacted us saying they wanted to work with us. Being big fans of their work and their releases, we were very excited to get to work with them.

NATHAN:  We had an enthusiastic response to and many kind words spoken about Black Hole Gods that brought us to Svart’s attention. We were glad for the opportunity to release BHG as a double gatefold LP.

How much touring have you guys done to date? (I know you did a South west tour a few years back and I THINK you might have done the north west too)

PRANJAL: Not as much as we’d like is the short answer. I’d love to tour more, within the US and beyond, but it’s been a challenge to organize anything more than a short tour with all our differing responsibilities and schedules. We hope to go on at least a Pacific Northwest tour with ‘Cast Away Souls’ and I’d love to do the East Coast if we’re able.

Any good tour stories you can share?

PRANJAL: Jesus, there was that one-man power-electronics guy whose show involved him screaming “REQUIEM!” and masturbating furiously to remixed speeches from the Albanian communist dictator Enver Hoxha. What name did that guy go by again? Bread And Cervix or something like that? Anyway, this all happened while some sort of stuffed animal wolf / chicken puppet thing suspended from a wire flew about him on stage chasing a fucking dreamcatcher. I mean is that even a story or just a mental image, and one you didn’t need? Makes you think.

NATHAN: It DOES.

What’s been the best gig to date?

LEILA: For me it’s a toss-up between my first CW show as bassist (I played several CW shows before that as just a guest vocalist) at Katakombes in Montreal for Grimposium 2015 and at the Oakland Metro with Wrekmeister Harmonies and Bell Witch.

PRANJAL: That first Montreal gig was amazing for sure. I think I’ll always remember playing with the legendary Hobbs Angel of Death and seeing Peter Hobbs himself banging his head in the front and later coming up to me saying he really liked our set. Surreal.

NATHAN:  I love playing live and look forward to ever improving and feeling like the next gig will be our best gig to date.

As an Indian guy playing metal – have you any ambitions to take the band to India? From my limited knowledge, provinces like Bangalore are metal mad with potential audiences of over 90 million people.

PRANJAL: Well I should clarify that though I’m about as ethnically Indian as you can get, I have never lived in India, I was born and raised elsewhere. It would be an amazing thing to take the band there, though. There’s obviously a ‘going back to your roots’ sort of appeal to me, but beyond that the underground music scene over there seems to be pretty healthy these days like you say. I’d love to go there and check it out and to bring Cardinal Wyrm there would be a dream come true.

LEILA: That would be amazing if we went to India or anywhere in Asia for that matter.

Are there Any touring goals you guys want to aim for? Examples: Wacken Germany? Hole in the Sky Norway etc.

LEILA: A Europe tour around Roadburn would be great for us.

PRANJAL: Yes! A European tour around Roadburn would be awesome. There are also a bunch of other excellent festivals out that way – Doom Over Leipzig, Doom Over London, Mangualde in Portugal, Eistnaflug in Iceland just to name a few. I’d also love to go to Mexico as well as South America. Those parts of the world in particular because we’ve had a lot of support from Mexico and many countries in Europe and South America – much more so than in the US I’d say – and I’d love to be able to play for people live there.

NATHAN: Europe has been good to the band and I’d love the opportunity to play all of those places and events. In addition to those more earth-bound goals, I wouldn’t mind a gig on the International Space Station. Or Mars. Or to place ourselves onstage in a dingy bar of some other more habitable and friendly planet with fewer racist, authoritarian, homophobic pricks ruling over the real estate. This planet is a bit shit these days, innit? ONWARD.

Thanks for the great interview guys and hope to see you on the East Coast sometime soon!

check out Castaway Souls here:

Interview with IK from Afar – Atmospheric Black Metal from New Jersey

I’ve been listening to the Afar album on Bandcamp a lot lately. So I need to know more about Afar. Here’s the interview with main man IK.
 
* So you’re a one man project? How did this come about – were you inspired by other 1 man black metal bands Burzum, Xasthur, Leviathan etc or after doing the whole “democratic” band thing you prefer to work alone?
A long time ago, I started a black metal project Necrofog that didn’t quite take off. It was a side project of mine, and I kept writing little by little for it. Over time the genres I was focused on also evolved, until I started another personal project – both (https://both.bandcamp.com/) – which was dedicated to electronic, shoegaze, and post-rock styles. For quite a while my black metal project was inactive, until one night (10/12/2013) when Abazagorath, Dethroned Emperor, and Bible Thumper played in New Brunswick and I realized I have been disconnected from my black metal roots far too long! At that show was also Pete Lloyd, who agreed right there to record my new album at his studio – One Stone Recording & Mastering (http://onestonerecording.com/). Afar is currently still my personal project, but I wouldn’t be opposed to involving more people in the future to collaborate and play shows with!
 
* Since you have done both which do you prefer and why?
I don’t know if I could say I prefer one-man projects or group bands, since you really get different things out of them. With full bands, I love playing shows and interacting with the other members and the audience. Live shows have such a powerful energy that cannot be compared! At the same time, recording music that is completely written by you is very rewarding as well. You never have to consider running a particular “troubling” riff by the other members – you just do it. And you are sort of forced to fix any issues you have with a song on your own – really connecting with the music through the process. I could never say “this part here will be fine for now, [other member] will come up with something better later”. Some songs on Selfless were written as early as 2006, so I cannot stress how satisfying it is to finally release them.
 
* What was the recording process like for you with Selfless?
When Pete and I decided to start recording Selfless, I knew I was in the right hands. I felt right at home recording drums, guitar, bass, vocals… Pete really understood what I was going for stylistically and knew how I wanted each instrument to sound – even when I couldn’t explain it myself! This way I was able to focus more on performance and let him make it shine. The recording process took over two years, mostly because at the time I just started my Master’s program while working full time, so finding time for music got much harder. Later on, I was also offered to join Windfaerer on guitar – truly an honor. Although it took a while to put the album together, I wouldn’t change a thing!
afar-itay-keren
 
* Did you start start with specific riffs and guitar licks or was it more trying to create separate moods / soundscapes?
For me, the writing process did vary slightly between songs and over time. In the past, I wrote an entire song over 1-2 nights on guitar, then wrote lyrics that fit the mood of the song – of imagery that came to me while listening to the instrumental track. However, when I wrote “Healing”, I was first inspired to write the lyrics and then the guitar parts came naturally afterwards. For every piece of Selfless, I let the inspiration flow whenever it did. If I didn’t feel a particular song one day, I set it aside until it felt right. I never wanted to force the music together because it wouldn’t be as intimate and true if it was just a collection of riffs.
 
* Does the name Afar have any special meaning?
Afar, besides meaning “from a distance”, in Hebrew it also means “ashes”. It is the notion of spiritual and physical distance, and a general disconnect. You could interpret that it is the balance between what is and isn’t there. I feel that the name carries the deeper meaning and dark undertone that fits the music well.
 
* Misanthropy Legion was a band that covered Occult themes and Northern Myst covered more “back to Nature” themes – what themes do you tackle with Afar?
In Afar, I take a personal approach to the lyrical themes, including tragic loss of family, self-doubt and insanity, sense of loss of friendship, loneliness of immigration, and mourning and acceptance of failed relationships. I would also like to make a side note that despite the direct occult themes in Misanthropy Legion, it was a very personal project lyrically, and carries the same deeper meaning as Afar.
 
* Tsalmaveth is the Hebrew word for darkness OR death – how do you use it in the song of the same name?
Correct, Tsalmaveth means “shadow of death”. Tsalmaveth is a “nod” to Necrofog, as a kind of acknowledgement and farewell to my older self. The song itself plays with the theme of survival versus death, and equates it to ignorance versus awareness. It is about how sometimes we prefer to ignore facts in order to stay happy and “survive”.
 
* Did you do much touring in your previous bands? and do you have any plans to play live as Afar?
With Misanthropy Legion, we mostly played locally in New Jersey and New York in smaller venues. When Joe and I started Burden, Tom joined us and we started playing quite a bit in the basements of New Brunswick – those were some of the best shows I ever played! The most touring I have done so far has been with Windfaerer – from New York to Maryland and everywhere in between. We plan to keep touring and go even farther in 2017 – I can’t wait hit the road with my boys! With Afar, I currently have no plans of touring, but I know I have an amazing crew of session members available once it happens! I would love to see an Afar tour happen someday.
 
* What future plans do you have for the Project? further albums? lives shows? alone with backing tracks or a full band?
A new Afar album is most definitely in the works. I intend on writing it through mid-2017 and hopefully start recording later that year. I plan on getting more session members involved for the next album, and possibly adding full members for writing and recording as well. I will say, I am so grateful for the responses I received for Selfless so far – they are definitely adding fuel to my fire!
 
Any shout outs or final words?
I just wanted to thank you for listening to my album, and for taking the time to learn more about me and the project! I love the blog, there are tons of excellent bands featured here – I’m honored to be one of them. Looking forward to seeing Bruder Des Lichts grow!
I.K.
 
Thanks for your time
 
Alex

Afar – Selfless (Full Album) Atmospheric Black Metal

I like these guys, playing the album in the office a fair bit lately

Atmospheric Black metal with a splash of shoe gaze, from New Jersey. Released October 19, 2016

Tracklist:

0:00 Healing
9:46 Cascading Shadows
18:01 Tsalmaveth
29:02 Endless Path
33:52 Aerial Discord
39:02 Beckoned into Fog
46:34 Twelve

Selfless was written and recorded by I.K.
Guest vocals on Beckoned Into Fog by J. Aversario and M. Goncalves.
Engineered and mastered by Peter Lloyd in One Stone Recording & Mastering 2014-2016.
Cover photography by Peter Lloyd, design & layout by M. Goncalves,
inside cover art by Eden Lustig.
Photography for this site by Peter Lloyd.

Interview with Throaat – Brooklyn Metal Mentalists

I have seen Throaat play out in NYC a bunch of times in the last few years mainly at St Vitus and Lucky 13 and they never disappoint. I wanted to know more about the band and spoke with singer Impurifier Vilethroaat to get the down lo. Here we go

* So you guys have been going for a couple of years now – how did the
band come about?

Around November 2012 I started writing songs for a new project. I
wanted to be doing music much more raw and primitive than what I had
been doing before. So I started looking for people to play with by
placing some Craigslist ads because I didnt want to play with anyone I
already knew. It only sort of ended up that way, but those were the
beginnings.

* Growing up what were your musical influences? (I am guessing someone
is a huge Hellhammer fan)

At some point, maybe I was 6 or 7, I inherited my older brother’s
Black Sabbath Paranoid/Iron Maiden Number of the Beast cassette tape.
I was transfixed! Especially by the Sabbath side. Every instrument and
lyric seemed to speak to me, or even make me feel like I was in a
trance. Really powerful shit!

I was a little kid when 80’s heavy metal was blowing up, so I feel
fortunate to have been exposed to it during those formulative years.

I think I first heard black metal in the early or mid 90’s, I had this
compilation that had all second wave bands. In the 90’s I was also
getting into a lot of avant garde and “world” music. Stuff that had
nothing to do with metal but that has had a really lasting influence
on how I perceive sound.

Around 1994 I started getting very deeply into Mercyful Fate. In 1998
I even saw them play once while on LSD! In the late 90’s I got heavily
into Celtic Frost (To Mega Therion was first for me, then Morbid
Tales). When I first heard it I felt like I could really relate to it,
in that they were pulling off sounds that I was searching for in my
own material, but they were doing it so damn well, it was a real eye
opener. And yeah around that time I first heard Hellhammer as well, I
got the Apocalyptic Raids cd and heard a few other things. I thought
it was great but to me nothing could touch Frost, especially To Mega
Therion!

I’m into a lot of other kinds of music like psych, punk, goth, death
rock, krautrock, prog etc but that’s my deal growing up with metal.
Nowadays I also spend a lot of time seeking out unfamiliar or obscure
music, Im always trying to find some hidden perpective on sound that
might open up my mind in some way.

* Have you always been a drummer/singer – I imagine its got to be
pretty hard especially for the style of metal you play – was there
ever any plans to have some one else drum for you?

I started playing music a long time ago but drums are the instrument
I’ve played the least in my life. I never really played drums before
Throaat, just a little bit of tapping around on the kit when the real
drummer in whatever band it was went out to take a leak or sell some
weed to someone. I always played guitar or bass. I had taken some
piano and voice lessons during high school. I figure as long as you
understand rhythm and can produce a sound on an instrument, like how
to make the different notes, it’s not too hard to get into playing it.
I mean, you don’t have to know EVERYTHING about an instrument to just
make up some wicked parts for a song right? So when Throaat started to
come together, I knew I wanted to do the vocals and figured the
fastest way to becoming a “real band” was to pick up the drums; so
there would be a drummer from the start, however amateurish or
primitive it might be. I wanted to do something new and in an
unsophisticated style so it seemed like the way to go.

Throaat has seen some lineup changes recently, and each time there was
a change, the question comes up about whether or not I should switch
to another instrument. I really like playing drums though so I’m going
to stick with it. Also I think it would change the sound of the band
pretty drastically with a different drummer, unless he happened to
play with the same shitty pizzazz as I do, but that would be hard to
find! If there were an ad it would have to say something like SHITTY
DRUMMER WANTED. BUT NOT TOO SHITTY!

We did do a one-off show not too long ago where I played bass and did
the vocals, our bass player at that time played the drums and our
guitar player did his guitar thing. We called it Taorrh. There was a
booking conflict so we decided to switch it up for that one night. Our
friends from the killer band Conqueror Worm were in town on tour and
played that night as well.

* Right now the NYC metal scene is pretty concentrated in Brooklyn –
any thoughts on why Brooklyn and not say Queens or the Bronx?

Seems to me there are a ton of bands in Queens and the Bronx. I
recognize some typical aesthetic differences between bands from
Brooklyn vs other parts of NYC but I’m not sure I could elucidate what
those differences are without turning into a grumpy bastard.

* What’s your favorite place to play in NYC? Lucky 13? Vitus?

We’ve done plenty of shows at both places. Lately we’ve been playing
at Lucky 13 more, I love that place. Vitus is great too. We also
played at The Acheron a lot before it closed. I also like playing at
The Gutter.

* Is everyone born and raised in Brooklyn? if not where are they from?

I was but the other folks in the band (both past and present) come
from other locales. Native Brooklynites are somewhat rare in the music
scene here.

* You guys have done a bunch of demos and EPs – any plans for a full length?

Yeah in fact we have a full length LP called Reflections in Darkness
that was completed not too long ago. We’re figuring out a label
situation now but for some reason I’ve been extremely lazy about
making it happen. I think I got a little bit of burnout when finishing
off the record and needed a break. The business part of music isnt
exactly fun.

Since then we also finished a split 7” EP with a band from Lexington,
KY called Apocryphal Revelation. We each have about 7 minutes, for us
it’s two songs (“The Tannery” and “Purify Salem’s Lot”) and for them
it’s one song (“Graveyard Torment”). We are seeking a label for that
right now too.

* What’s been the best show you guys have played to date?

HMMM good question. I think maybe my favorite Throaat show ever was at
the September 2015 Wings of Metal Festival in Montreal. Another
favorite was opening for Venom, Inc. at Saint Vitus not too long ago.
They were amazing, really exactly what you’d want to see in a Venom
show.

* Have you done much touring in the USA? If not are there plans to for
the future?

We have been around a bit, and we absolutely have plans to continue
that. I’d like to get out to the west coast in 2017, we havent been
there as a band yet. Same deal with Europe, with some luck maybe we
can make it happen.

* What’s the best part of being in a metal band from NYC?

I find it really tricky being in a band here. The scene is probably
much more cutthroat (no pun intended) than many cities. Also everyone
has to work insane hours to make ends meet or is just broke all the
time.

On a positive (and music fan-based) note, something I enjoy about
being here is that so many great bands come here to play shows. Like
Manila Road. Or Nifelheim. Those were two of the greatest shows I’ve
ever seen.

* As a metal fan what’s your favorite format – for me day time at work
its Spotify/bandcamp/youtube and vinyl at night

I would say my listening habits are similar. When I want to feel what
I’m listening to it’ll need to be on vinyl. Cassette would work for
that too but my only cassette player is my trusty 4 track recorder.

Cheers, Alex. Thanks for the interview.

check out their Blackspeed EP here:

Interview with Atrament D-beat Bay Area Black Metal

I first heard of these guys via the good people at Broken Limbs Records – I loved their sound and  wanted to know more about the band and what they were all about. Big thanks to Mattia and Chad for the interview.

* Does the band name have any meaning – who came up with the band name?
 Chad: Atrament is completely black, the blackest black, none more black. I think Mattia found the word and then we all decided it would be the best fit.
Mattia: yeah I can’t recall where I heard it but when I did it stuck. It was evil sounding in my head. I did some more research on its meaning and found out it also actually means ‘blackener’ – or anything that turns things black, like a die or black stain. The word ‘atrocity’ also comes from the word ‘atrament’. So, we all thought it stuck with the band’s reckless ‘mission’ pretty well.
* You guys do the perfect mix of dbeat and black metal – Were you guys crusty kids who got into metal or metal guys who discovered Discharge? 
 Chad: Crust to Metal
Mattia: Tough question, I’ve always liked punk and metal equally for as long as I can recall. I’ve known Iron Maiden longer than I have Discharge, so I guess metal to punk…
* What would you say are your biggest musical influences?
 Chad: Pete Sandoval during the early years of Morbid Angel. His drumming on Terrorizer’s World Downfall is untouchable. The Ramones, Discharge
Mattia: Filthy and heavy as fuck punk. The brutal stuff. Bands like Discharge, GISM, and Doom. The ‘metal’ sounds coming out of the music is just the inevitable consequence of just wanting to provoke widespread terror. That’s where stuff like Darkthrone, Beherit, Extreme Noise Terror, early Napalm Death and Dismember also play their precious role.
* There seems to be so many great bands coming out of the whole Bay Area these days – why do you think that is?
 Chad: Who knows…
Mattia: Perhaps a close knit community of musicians who share ideas and inspire and influence each other in positive ways….
* I know Chad used to drum for Vastum – anybody else have any bands outside of Atrament
 Chad: Necrot, Rude, Mortuous, Caffa, Disinihibition
Mattia: I’m aso in Abstracter. James, our guitarist, also plays bass in Abstracter. He used to be in Black September and Moral Void when he was still living in Chicago.
* How did the band come together?
 Chad: Mattia was responsible for getting everyone to jam. The first practice was pretty cool. The music naturally formed and we kept meeting up to practice.
Mattia: I wanted to play in a really angry and heavy punk band that played in the d-beat style, so I put an ad on Craigslist. James had just moved here to the Bay Area from Chicago and of course had to quit Moral Void to relocate, so was looking to also play hardcore in the darker vein as was Moral Void. He replied to my ad and sent me his recorded riffs. I thought he had some killer stuff going on.  We immediately realized we were on the same page, so we set out to find a rhythm section. Chad is a friend from great Bay Area bands like Necrot etc. and a sick drummer. I knew was also  into D-beat and crust punk, so it was a no brainer decision to try to ‘lure’ him into Atrament. I sent him James’ ideas and asked him if he’d be down to drum for the new project and he was down. Sam once jammed with my other band Abstracter, and although then he could not join full time I was very impressed with this skills, so when Atrament needed a bass player he was the number choice on my mind, so I invited him to play bass for us. Thankfully, this time around he had more free time on his plate. So here we are.
atrament-cover
* I got my vinyl from the label Broken Limbs – how did that deal come about?
 Mattia: I liked Pete’s releases by Krieg, Cara Heir, Unsacred, Venowl, Lithotome, Human Bodies etc, so I sent him the record when it was done and asked if he’d be interested, and I guess he was! At the same time we asked Mike from Argento Records in the Netherlands if he’d like to handle a European version and he was down as well, so ‘Eternal Downfall’ turned out to be a co-release between Broken Limbs and Argento.
* You guys recorded the album at the infamous Earhammer studios – how was the whole recording process for you guys?
 Chad: The recording went well. Got the drums tracked in five hours. We were definitely ready to record. It was one of the quickest recording sessions I have done.
* What’s been the biggest gig you guys have played to date?
 Chad: I think it was our first show at the old Oakland Metro. Pale Chalice, False, and Gloam.
* Have you done much touring and if not was that intentional or are plans still in the works?
 Chad: We are all so busy in other bands and we work full time so it’s hard for our schedules to sync up. We definitely want to tour. Most likely when we finish writing the second record we will do a west coast tour.
* Have any of the band played NYC before? If so how does the scene compare to Oakland?
 Chad: I played NYC in May. I have a few friends out there (Trenchgrinder, Skullshitter). The night Necrot played it was Mother’s Day so only a handful of people showed up to The Acheron. Everyone in NYC i met during my stay was really cool! Cheers!
Mattia: I’ve toured Europe and the Southeastern United States with Abstracter, but never on the East Coast. One day hopefully!
* Any shout outs to friends? families? bands?
 Chad: Thank you to my friends and family for their continued support throughout the years. Slayer
Mattia: Our friends at Ghost Town Brewing for letting us rehearse at their warehouse for free!

 

Check out their latest album here: