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INTERVIEW: Just Dave from Portland crust kings Nux Vomica on punks, preachers and 24/7 anxiety

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, April 14th, 2014

NUX VOMICA

Melodic death metal, crust, d-beat, black metal, doom, post-metal . . . It doesn’t really matter how you label Nux Vomica because it’s pretty much impossible to adequately describe their wayfaring sound in terms of genre alone. Yeah we went for crust in this headline, but that was more of a convenient adjective, headline shorthand, and in no way intended to be a definitive adjective. Feel free to designate your own generic handle of choice. It doesn’t really matter. Nux Vomica is band that exists defined only by their own internal logic.

They formed in Baltimore, back in 2003, before relocating to Portland, Oregon. Originally, Nux Vomica was a side interest while the band concentrated on Wake Up On Fire. Nux Vomica was meant to be a pared down beast, a project, quite distinct from Wake Up On Fire’s doom, sludge ‘n’ crust. So says their press release anyhow. But their first record in five years, the self-titled Nux Vomica, suggests that whatever their original intent, Nux Vomica was always going to outgrow anyone’s expectations of where their sound could possibly go. Vocalist Just Dave is the first to admit that they don’t have a plan, never had a plan, and that the band just write what they write.

“It’s like we got a band together with a basic idea that we wanted to play heavy music,” he says. “We just started putting ideas together. The world in general influenced us to have a band like this.”

But even for a band rooted in the extreme metal/punk underground, the result is iconoclastic. Crust punk was never meant to be extended into twenty-minute songs, but Nux Vomica augment their apocalyptic sound on a whim and don’t stop writing until the song is through. Maybe the safest way to describe them is that they are a bunch of punks who play metal, underground polyglots who are as likely to mine Second Wave BM for inspiration as they are Crass or Mob 47. But truly the only way to truly get a hand on them is to spin their record and figure it out as you go.

Nux Vomica is out now on Relapse Records. Here is Just Dave on the making of the album, and how they chanced upon a sound that just kept on growing.

You started writing for this record years ago but they are only appearing on wax now; did that long gestation period contribute to their length?
“Well it was like a long time ago. We started writing these songs a long time ago. I think it was as far back as 2008. I think there was a shift from playing raging, fast songs to just expanding everything and making the songs bigger. We just kept going with that and ended up with this song eventually being 25 minutes long! It was really weird. We were almost laughing, like how did that happen? And we trimmed it down to 19 minutes for the LP. You can’t even fit 25 minutes on the side of a record. I don’t know [why], we just wrote songs as they came to us and that’s how long they ended up being, and it wasn’t planned out in any way at all. It just worked out that way.”

Considering that every change, especially in the more physical, heavier parts needs to be bang on, there must have been endless eye-watering discussions on how to take the songs forward.
“Yeah, you’re completely right. Ha! There was tons of discussion. That’s why it took so long to get this out—that’s part of the reason. We have lots of conversations about how every little part of a song goes, especially transitions between parts. We’ll sit there and work on a transition that is sometimes like 30 seconds, or just a really, really short transition between two parts to try and make it blend together and not have this thing where one part stops and the next riff starts and the next part starts. Instead of smashing all those parts together we try to make them morph together, and I think that was a huge part of having these songs long, and having them be cohesive.

Did you feel like you had the luxury of time? Hypothetically, if you only had a few months of being together or say a month where you were all available to write and record, how different would the record be?
“There is no way these songs could have happened that fast. I’m sure we could do something if we had a couple of months but once we had written all these songs, and pretty much while we were recording them when we wrote another whole group of songs, probably about three or four songs that were a lot more thrashy and raging, a little bit shorter. We were definitely wanting to take it in another direction because we wrote all these long songs, but it made for a good album, I think. It works as an album; we’re album writers, I guess.”

Which is good to hear in this day and age, as a lot of people are of the opinion that the album format is dead.
“Oh yeah, we’re definitely album people, for sure. I’ve noticed there are still some younger people that have this album mentality, too. I think there are a lot, but the consumers of music don’t seem to give too much of a crap about whether they have a whole album or not. The people who make music do want to make an album still. It seems like that to me.”

I guess it’s all part of getting into the practice space or wherever to write, and you’re all in the same headspace where you are not really done until the ideas are out and explored.
“Yeah, we don’t usually have a plan. We just like writing stuff and then later figure out how to put it to an album or whatever. We have another song that we put on a seven-inch that was definitely a bit different to these three songs. It would have been weird to have that song on the album. Also, we would have had to put out a double LP probably, if there was any more music on it.”

Where do you get your melodic sensibilities from?
“I definitely need to say that I don’t really write the music, so I’m really speaking for other people when I’m talking about the music, but I can definitely say that we listen to so much music. We have the most eclectic music tastes. It is really hard to tell people what we listen to and what we are influenced by; it’s like everything you can you can think of, all genres of music, pop music, metal, anything . . . Hip-hop, the Grateful Dead. Like one of us actually likes The Grateful Dead. It’s just like we slam all these things together and try to put something out that is this original sound. We won’t even think that much about whether people will like it; we want to have our own sound. I think that is the main thing, and to be satisfied ourselves in playing music.”

Yeah, you can hear all sorts in there; of course you can hear the black and death metal, crust punk and hardcore, but there’s even a hint of new wave and post-punk melodies in there too.
“Definitely. This thing that we’ve got going on, especially with everything being so dark, coming from the punk scene it’s like we’ve got this sense of ‘We’re all in this together.’ All these people that believe in something, and even though we are not necessarily out there—we’re not like as ‘punk’ or activist as we used to be, for sure, but we have this ingrained mentality that we are fighting for something together, and that is kinda hopeful. Like, you put all these dark themes out there and hope that people relate to it because if they relate to it they feel better, and it isn’t actually that dark when you think about it in that way. I don’t know if I’m talking about the music any more.”

Yeah, like a problem shared is a problem halved. It’s kind of funny; when you research a band you can go off on weird tangents, and here are Nux Vomica and you take your name from a medicinal cure-all that alleviates the symptom of pretty much everything from emotional stress to constipation.
“Haha, and hangovers.”

How do you feel when you play this music?
“Drained. It’s funny, I don’t think that we were thinking about that so much when we named the band but band names affect how the band acts, and I definitely feel that. It’s in the back of my head sometimes. We are friends with this band Drunken Boat and I think that they were all worse alcoholics when they were in that band, just because their name is Drunken Boat. And our band is called Nux Vomica and it’s like this big release, and I definitely think about that. It’s funny. My favorite shows I play are when we’re connecting with someone, like in a room full of our close friends, or if it’s just like people relating to us, coming up to us and telling us how they feel about the band; that’s the best shit.”

It feels like you are expressing an anxiety that seems to be ever-attendant in modern life. I mean, I don’t know about you but I am anxious all the time for no real good reason. It’s like our resting state is anxious, and what this album does really well is somehow articulate that anxiety.
“That’s really cool. But I get that all the time, anxiety. I wake up in bed and can’t fall back asleep because I’m so full of anxiety. I don’t even know why. And that makes total sense—I never thought about that in relation to the record until now but you’re right.”

There have been doomsayers throughout every period in history but in this day and age it is almost impossible to ignore them and really hard to be an optimist.
“I’ve got a lot of lyrics about that kind of stuff on the newer songs that we haven’t recorded or done anything with. That Choked at the Roots song is talking a lot about how got the way we are as a species. It’s talked about so much—comedians, movies, mainstream pop stars even sing about this sort of stuff. It’s everywhere, this doomsday outlook. And there is always something; in the year 2000 they thought the world was going to end; 2012, they thought the world was going to end, and there is going to be another one. I don’t know when the next the-world-is-going-to-end time is; I haven’t heard about it but somebody’s planning it, y’know what I mean!”

Somebody is no doubt shooting the documentary about it now, with an authoritative panel of talking heads doing a convincing job of spelling out our fate. This is the sort of thing that Nux Vomica might sample though. You’ve sampled a variety of dark texts; like Equus when you were doing Wake Up On Fire.
“Oh yeah! Equus. I had never even heard of Equus, and somebody took me to see the play (somebody knew somebody in the play so we went and saw it). I was really into it, then I read it. I didn’t know there was a movie from the ‘70s. I watched that and the guy who wrote that play [Peter Shaffer] was the brother of the guy who wrote The Wicker Man [Anthony Shaffer]. It was like, ‘Oh my God!’ All those connections blew my mind. But that’s how Equus ended up on there. There is a lot of psychological stuff going on in Wake Up On Fire and that song, [a lot of of] getting into people’s heads.”

Of all of your samples, Jesus Camp must be the most disturbing.
“We watched that movie on tour and decided to sample it. We watched it on tour and then we were in the studio—also on tour, it might even have been the same tour. We went and rented the movie and brought it into the studio and said, ‘We wanna us samples from this!’ It happened real quick. There is a lot of crazy samples that we’ve used that I don’t even know because Danny found a lot of those samples, like on the end of Sanity is for the Passive. I’m not even sure where they came from. They are really disturbing.”

It’s disturbing watching the conviction with how those evangelical Holy Joes give it up and lay into a bunch of kids with total abandon. It’s terrifying to witness.
“It is disturbing. I dunno, they really, really believe what they are saying. It’s intense, and it’s dark; things like preachers, that’s a dark world to me.”

It feels like you’re witnessing a warping of the human spirit.
“I think I feel that way about a lot of religion, a warping of the human spirit.”

Do you think that in this day and age, with the instant access to different subcultures and subgenres of underground music, that music and culture is less tribal?
“Less tribalism? I don’t know. It’s hard to say, ‘cos some places—everywhere is a little different. In this town, full of this really, really vast, sprawling music scene—it’s huge—I definitely feel a connection with my punk scene in Portland. We are all pretty close. Like we found out that somebody had cancer so there were like five benefit shows, so much stuff going on, and it’s like it’s this girl that I know really well though we don’t hang around that much, so of course we’re going to help out. But, at the same time, across town there is this other punk scene I don’t know anything about, and I might go to some punk show and see a lot of those people there, and I might give them a head nod and say hi, but you go to some small town it’s like they are in it to win it. [Tribalism] still exists. That tribalism existed before anyone called it punk rock; it was just people that found each other, who understood each other because they liked the same stuff and had the same beliefs. They just weren’t called punks; there were art communities; there were like beatniks; the hippies that weren’t idiots and were actually trying to do something! It’s always going to be around, it just might not always be punk. A lot of people don’t understand what punk is; it’s just another thing you can be. When you are in high school you can be a punk, be skater or a raver or something. People who really feel it? They still exist. I guess I just feel like the tribalism is still around but it is fighting to exist.”

Punk can be a contrary and troublesome beast though. The ethic can be alluring, but then there’s a real creative conservatism—prevalent throughout so many niche subcultures—that kind of roots it in something that’s aesthetically safe.
“Oh God yeah. Well I think the punk scene evolved into where the music became extremely conservative. Like there are always rules! I am in this other band, and we pretty much just call ourselves a rock ‘n’ roll band but we are pretty punk. We’re just a raging rock ‘n’ roll band, just more of a fun band really, and people are like, ‘Are you like a punk band or a metal band?’ And I’m like, ‘No. We are not punk or metal. Too many rules.’ That was my answer: there are too many fucking rules! I’m not punk. I’m not metal. We don’t need all these rules. That’s kinda how I look at the whole thing. The crust scene is where I think there are way too many rules. It’s like there are so many rules that it is not punk any more; it’s just like this genre of music where people are singing about brutal shit and how bad the government is. I dunno. And there has to be a certain look and sound to all of it unless it is not crust or d-beat.”

You mentioned unrecorded music, there; do you have a lot of music leftover that might give you an idea of where you will take your sound next?
“It’s hard to say because, first of all, we haven’t practised in a year, literally. We played a show a year ago, almost to the date, and we’re gonna meet up on Monday [today] to figure out what we are doing next. Meanwhile, we’ve got about four new songs that we’ve already been playing a lot; we’ve already toured on these other songs. One of those was a Wake Up On Fire cover that Wake Up On Fire never released and we re-did with different words and stripped down a lot of the extra drumming. So hopefully we’ll record this stuff. All of it is more on the thrashier side except for the Wake Up On Fire cover. All of it goes into really fast metal and d-beat parts but one of them is really, really lyric-heavy. It is crammed with lyrics. I would say all of them are all shorter than the songs on the LP; I guess that was more of a planned thing. We just wanted to write some ragers. But they all venture off in all different directions too. There is definitely a lot of double-bass [drumming] going on.”

It sounds healthy to have a year off, but it must seem weird not only to be talking about songs that were done so long ago but to contemplate the prospect of getting back in a room together to take it forward again.
It’s going to be weird to get back into it, for sure, but we definitely needed a break. Every band needs a break. It wasn’t making all of us happy to keep doing this and one of us had a kid. We all have other bands that we are having a lot of fun with—and good bands, too. I think I really like all of our other bands a lot! It’s a good thing they got to happen. But now that this album is out we really have got to revisit all of this and figure out what we are doing. We definitely wanna play a few more shows and maybe take it from there, maybe become one of those bands that just play a couple of big shows a year. If it was up to me we would just go on tour for three months . . . But I don’t have a kid though. I think that we are finally going to be a band again, in a different way, for a while, and see where that goes. I am really pushing to record. I hate when a band stops playing and doesn’t’ record their newest stuff; it’s always a little bit of a tragic thing. I’ve been in a couple of bands that have done that, like we wrote our best music and the band broke up and we never recorded it. It kills me!”

**Nux Vomica on Facebook
**Relapse Records Nux Vomica store

Interview with Thou’s Andy Gibbs and Bryan Funck

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews, tours On: Thursday, April 10th, 2014

deciblog - thou logo

Baton Rouge doom/sludge prolific over-achievers, Thou has returned from an almost unheard of (for them, anyway) two years of silence as far as releases are concerned with their latest and greatest full-length, Heathen. We recently sent guitarist Andy Gibbs and vocalist Bryan Funck a bunch of questions to respond to via email. It would appear they approach interviews with the same prolific depth as they do everything else. So, I’ll shut the hell up so you can read all about everything that’s going on with Thou in the here-and-now.

First off, what do we need to know about the history of Thou that hasn’t been driven into the ground in other interviews? As time has passed, have you come to any realisations about how your early days as a band has impacted how you go about existing as a band in the present?
Andy: I don’t think we have a particularly interesting back story, honestly. We’re just another group of 20-and-30-something year-old dudes who practice in a dirty, cramped practice space. I do think that our semi-rigorous practice schedule in the early days did us a lot of good in terms of figuring out what we wanted to sound like. We started out with a more post-rock-y sound and very quickly got heavier and heavier. And certainly I think that [bassist] Mitch [Wells], [guitarist] Matthew [Thudium] and I playing music together for so long has streamlined the creative process in a positive way.
Bryan: Aside from Barghest, Thou is really the only band any of us have been in that has gotten a bit of notoriety and became fairly serious. So, there are a lot of areas of learning and growth we’ve blundered through along the way – a lot of aesthetic and identity experimentation. Sometimes I wish I had a clearer idea of how far this band would go, so I could’ve kept things more coherent. I love when bands have such a strict aesthetic that you can immediately identify their record or show flyer. “Oh, this is Iron Lung. This is Crass. This is Celeste. This is Pity Sex.” On the other hand, I’m glad we didn’t pigeon-hole ourselves to any particular approach, be it music, artwork, content or whatever. We still have some willingness to approach things in new ways and that flexibility is really important to us these days, especially, with Andy living in Oakland and Mitch about to move to San Diego. I think if we had been married to only doing things one way, those moves would have killed us. As far as artwork goes, originally, I was trying to fit that “bat logo” onto everything we did. I had this idea that it would be something like our Darkthrone logo. The first few releases also had some typical, boring band tropes: track list on the back, who played in the band, our website, etc. I’m glad it didn’t take me too long to figure out that stuff like that is just filler taking up valuable real estate and contributes to a general band ego that I find useless and self destructive. I think a lot of people think of our art as “woodcuts,” but we seem a little all over the place from my perspective. And there have definitely been a few art and layout choices I’ve regretted. Mostly minor stuff that no one cares about, but things I obsess about when I look at records or can’t sleep at night. I guess we can always do endless represses till I get it right. Sometimes I think we shouldn’t have done so many splits, spreading the material out so much. I feel like we could have been choosier with some of the bands and labels we worked with. It probably would’ve made sense to bite off a chunk of the Rendon songs for a full length or bigger EP between Peasant and Summit. I think a bunch of those songs could have fit together and made a coherent album. We’re a little pickier now when we do splits, but we’re still way into doing them. These days, I think we aim a little higher with the experimentation, letting the split dictate the style or direction we want to take the songs. I think we’ve gained a good bit of focus over the last few years, as far as the writing goes. Then again, sometimes you have to go where the song takes you instead of trying to fit it into the box you want. That’s usually how we end up shaving things down these days. That’s certainly why we have a whole EP worth of songs from the Heathen session that we all really liked but just weren’t fitting within the scope of that record.

How has having a couple members spread around the country affected life in and for Thou?
Andy: As of now, I’m the only one living outside of Louisiana (Mitch is scheduled to move later this year), but we’ve been dealing with it pretty effectively, I’d say. The rest of the band practices regularly without me and when I come to town we get things done pretty quickly. Aside from writing and practicing, the financial burden of figuring out how to cover my plane ticket expenses is a pain that I don’t see going away too soon.
Bryan: We still have some Heathen burnout at the moment, so it’s a little hard to tell, but it’s seemed to have slowed down the writing tremendously. We’re trying to figure out how to approach writing with one of the main authors one the other side of the country. It’s definitely made touring a lot harder. The financial constraints we were already dealing with have sky rocketed. We have to do lots of extra planning and take more time off work than we’d like, even for shorter trips that would’ve been really easy for us to do in the past. Other than that, it’s fine. Me and the three guys in Baton Rouge have been keeping busy with regular practices, re-learning a ton of older songs and playing around with various covers. So, there’s a lot of maintenance and regrouping happening. We had a few months of stagnation after we recorded Heathen, but I think we’re on the right track now.

deciblog - thou live

I noticed that as part of the PR for Heathen that, in addition to the usual metal-centric suspects, that NPR streamed the new album. What are your thoughts on these non-traditional outlets showing interest in a style of music as impenetrable to the mainstream as yours? And how did a band as noisy and miserable sounding as Thou even come to their attention and consideration in the first place?
Andy: People who are into “extreme” music are getting older and finding jobs in the “grown-up” world, so it’s pretty normal that someone who works at NPR is into our type of music. Still, I don’t think they’ll be having us on All Things Considered or Fresh Air any time soon. I’m still waiting for Democracy Now! to get in touch, though.
Bryan: We hooked up with NPR after we saw that first Body thing they did for All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood. Adam Barlett from Gilead Media reached out to Lars, who’s a bit younger and comes from the DC punk scene, to see if they would want to do anything with Summit. And they did the “First Listen.” I don’t think music that’s as long-winded as ours, or any music with screaming is going to go very far in the mainstream, but we’re not particularly concerned with that. I love that NPR and outlets like that have taken an interest in some harsher music. I’d love to see more folks around who practice critical thinking and aren’t embroiled in any scene politics.

Was the sound you’ve carved out for yourselves over the years something you pointedly went towards playing, or was the sludge/doom/whatever something you fell into serendipitously? How difficult is it to summon those demons so as to write such punishing odes?
Andy: Not that difficult, to me at least. At this point, when I’m coming up with riffs it’s not a very emotional process. I’m more just fucking around until something sounds good. The emotion comes later when we’re playing live or recording and I’m reflecting more on what I wrote and how it fits in the larger context of our band. But as far as the sound is concerned, we’ve definitely been on a straight-ahead course towards heavier and heavier songs from the inception of the band to the present, though we’ve never really seemed to fit too easily into the whole doom/sludge world of H.P. Lovecraft and pentagrams. While I think our inclination towards “doom” is deliberate, I think that our sound has changed pretty organically, and we’re really just playing what we think sounds interesting instead of what sounds brutal enough or whatever.
Bryan: Before I joined the band, they were doing more of a Pelican/Isis post-rock thing. I think after they wrote that first batch of songs, they started fooling around with lower tunings and wrote “Fucking Chained to the Bottom of the Ocean.” All the Tyrant songs sprung from that first one. I joined Thou after all the music for Tyrant had already been recorded and Matthew’s vocal tracks somehow got erased. So when I stepped in, it was already headed in a heavier direction. We’ve always talked about how we don’t want to be one of those bands that eventually loses all of their heaviness and only writes really mellow songs. That being said, we’re really taken with the idea of exploring different styles while still retaining the sound or feeling we identify as ‘Thou,’ which I think relies more on a sense of melancholia than it does, “br00tal,” heavy riffs. We have plans for doing a lot more acoustic and pretty/quiet songs. But I doubt we’ll ever totally drop the harshness associated with our music. And, unless the world and everyone in it changes drastically, I don’t think we’ll ever have a rough time writing sad/angry/exxxtreme songs.

How did you managed to maintain such a prolific period of releases from 2008-2012 without burning yourselves, and the various labels you worked with, out? Or is that heavy release schedule what contributed to the comparatively lengthy gap leading up to Heathen? Do you think you’re going to be heading back into the direction of releasing shit-tons of material or is life and all that life stuff making you take a second look at Thou’s amounts of activity?
Andy: We really only look so prolific on paper. In reality, we wrote a big chunk of songs after Peasant and recorded them in a marathon recording session. The songs were then dispersed among a bunch of different splits. And from then on, each of our recording sessions have been dual-purposed. With Summit, for instance, we recorded a handful of other songs that were used for different EPs and some other odds and ends. Ditto with basically every other one of our records to date. We actually just did a catch-all recording session in November. The gap leading up to Heathen had a few catalysts: we had a long period of inactivity after our European tour in 2012 because I traveled for a bit and then moved across the country; also some of the material recorded during the Heathen sessions got pushed back in terms of release dates; and then Heathen itself got pushed back a few times, so we could get the mixes and the layout squared away. And even now we’ve had to push back the US vinyl release because the test presses weren’t sounding right! So it’s been a comedy of errors. I think our release schedule will slow down, but I’m sure we’ll manage to release at least a couple records every year. We are doing a bit more touring than we’d originally planned, but with Mitch moving later this year I’m not sure if that’ll continue. We’re really just taking people up on their offers at the moment, whether its bands we like touring with or fests we want to play.
Bryan: These guys had spent a year writing and recording Tyrant before I joined the band and slapped my ramshackle vocals and mealy-mouthed lyrics over their hard work. So that one shouldn’t even count. Half the Oakland Singles songs were also written before I came on board. We kind of sped through writing and recording Peasant, for better or worse. The Rendon Singles stuff was a pretty good chunk. We just hit a good spurt of writing, started going in some new directions musically, and came up with a few long songs. Summit and the stuff we did with that had a lot of starts and stops, a few different spurts. Songs got scrapped or totally re-worked. We wrote the last couple of songs for that record the week before we went into the studio. It was pretty stressful. And then [drummer] Josh [Nee] joined right after that record, and brought in this renewed energy that led to the To the Chaos Wizard Youth stuff. It never really seems that drastic from our point of view because we’ll have a few songs for a while that we play, then we write a few more and on and on. There were definitely times when we’d ramp up the pressure to get a release done in time for a tour or whatever. But then again, there were also plenty of deadlines we missed because we just couldn’t produce the material, or something didn’t come out quite right, there was some technical issue or someone else flaked on us. I’m not really sure how things will pan out over the next few years as far as output goes. We’ve been a little burnt out from the Heathen, Sacrifice, and Released from Love stuff. If we weren’t having practices to get ready for all these tours, we’d maybe be working on some new stuff. Right now, we’re focusing on Heathen and old songs for the March and April tours. When we get home, we’ll have about two months to pull together some very basic ideas for the second collaboration with The Body. The July tour will mostly be collaboration sets, and we’ll be recording the second record with them about halfway in, once we get up to Providence. After the July tour, we’ll probably take a couple of weeks to recoup then start digging into the various new ideas we have. If inspiration strikes us, we might get a spurt of material, but there’s no telling. After we recorded To the Chaos Wizard Youth, we spent a couple of months working on a Fiona Apple tribute. That got put on hold, and we started writing for the Cower split. I think we spent a good month or two banging our heads against the wall on that one till we finally hit our stride and banged out a handful of songs we were happy with. We’re always really ambitious in the brainstorming stage, but we’re also fine with shelving or abandoning a song or idea if it’s not working or doesn’t meet our standards. We definitely won’t be touring too much over the next few years. We’re not living on the streets or squatting, but none of us are really well-off financially. It’s pretty hard for some of us to even miss out on work, let alone save up the money we need now to make tours happen. The April and July tours we’re doing are going to be pretty rough. As of right now, we’re not looking to do anything else till April or July of next year, and that will probably be out to Europe for no more than a few weeks. Life stuff is definitely a huge factor for us, juggling all our other responsibilities, significant others, family, bands, shows, volunteer projects, work. We’re all in our late 20s and early 30s, so those things have definitely started to pile up.

Ok, Heathen. Did you have any specific goals about what you wanted to achieve going into the writing and recording of the album? Mistakes you wanted to avoid, stuff you wanted to deliberately experiment with, anything in particular you wanted to do differently or the same as past recordings, etc.? How did the actual recording of the album differ from other studio experiences?
Andy: I would say this is our most calculated album to date, for sure. Ever since we recorded Summit I feel like we’ve got more and more anal about the way the records sound, especially the full-lengths. I went into the recording sessions expecting to have a very intense few days of meticulous nit-picking and marathon overdub sessions, but it actually went very smoothly, mostly due to our recording-wizard James Whitten. The process was very similar to everything we’ve recorded Summit-and-beyond, since we’ve used the same studio every time and James knows exactly what we’re going for. We usually have a little chat beforehand about what kind of tone we want to get and all that, so we’re all on the same page. We were definitely looking to experiment more with clean parts and less ‘metal’ stuff, most of which found its way onto the album via interludes. I think in the future we’ll work more on incorporating that stuff into the songs themselves. At this point, I’m not worried about us sounding heavy enough, so my attention is on other things. I guess in the earlier days of the band I felt like we had to constantly throw in the heaviest riffs we could muster, and now I just want to come up with interesting melodies and mess with walls of feedback. Overall, my goal was to come out with the most cohesive-sounding album we could, and in that I feel pretty good about the job we did.
Bryan: I think like most musicians, we wanted this record to be better than the last one. I’m really proud of Summit, but it just wasn’t as expansive as I had hoped it would be. If we hadn’t had other records on our plate at the time, we probably could’ve included “Voices in the Wilderness” and “Bonnet Carré” on that record. Then again, if we had included those songs (which we had written earlier on), we wouldn’t have had the pressure on us to write “Grissecon” or “Another World is Inevitable.” Regardless, to me, all of those songs, even though they fit together, still sound like they could’ve used a little more refining – either in the studio or the practice space. The only other goal we were really married to was getting across the lyrical themes of nature and physicality. After Matthew and I had a long talk about his ideas for “Free Will,” I expanded those ideas to include the need for prescient experience and active participation. Sound-wise, Matthew had written “Free Will” pretty early on to set the tone for things. So we had a pretty clear idea of where we wanted to go. At some point, when things were looking a little bleaker with the amount of songs that were coming together, we talked about doing some black metal stuff on here and having one side of the record be Heathen and the other side as Magus. But I think towards the end of writing we dropped that thought because we knew we had almost too much stuff for a singularly-themed record, plus all the black metal ideas had been mangled into other things. We also talked about having all the interludes early on. We wanted to have little bits tying all the songs together into one, big piece, but also write these little parts that could almost stand alone as their own songs. We talked about having some electronic pieces, drone and noise stuff, just whatever we could think of. It ended up being just a few guitar things and the long ambient piece we tied into “Immorality Dictates,” but I’m really happy with all those songs, and I’m definitely hoping we can do more of that in the future. I think the biggest thing we wanted to avoid with this record was having the same level of stress we did just before we recorded Summit. We didn’t quite succeed on that end, but we definitely made some small steps towards improvement. Really, we had a big chunk of the material pretty close to being done before the last week of rehearsals. It was more a matter or fleshing some songs out and tightening things up to our standards. “Ode to Physical Pain” was the biggest writing project we had in that last push, and I was probably more than a little annoying about us finishing that one. I just loved that first riff. It’s probably my favorite thing Matthew has ever written. The actual recording was pretty typical for us. We spent a day or two tracking with The Body for the collaboration, then two days of tracking Heathen and the EP tracks, maybe a day of just overdubs, all of that at the Living Room in Algiers. We did some of the guitar overdubs and most of the vocals at James Whitten’s space. The recording got a little hairy with people’s work schedules. I think we’ll probably all try to free up more time on the next one, so there’s less down time and we can do more with the studio. The only real difference with this recording is that we were all a lot more locked in with James on this one, as far as getting the sounds we wanted, ideas for overdubs, stuff like that. James Whitten is essentially the sixth member of Thou at this point. I’m not sure we would sound anywhere near as good as we do on the records without him.

deciblog - thou_concertpic

Were you able to consciously say at any point in the creation process that, “Yes, this particular current event/album we were listening to/this relationship I’m in/kick ass amp I bought/financial hardship I suffered/etc. has contributed to the direction of Heathen”?
Andy: Yes and no. Obviously, no one creates in a vacuum, but like I mentioned earlier, the emotional content is something I usually reflect on after the writing is done. It’s weird because my feelings about a song are sometimes totally different from the lyrical content. “Feral Faun” for instance: we played that song live for the first time the day before I moved out of New Orleans, and I was going through a lot complex emotions about leaving all my friends behind and all that, so to me that song is forever tied to that feeling regardless of what the song is actually about.
Bryan: I’m of the mind that all of your life experiences add up to who you are at any given point. But lyrically with Heathen, I definitely wasn’t focused on a singular issue; with each song I was just trying to dig into the minutiae of the broader themes of the record, but those were all still pretty general ideas—accessing the wildness within our beings that is restrained by society; opening ourselves to nature and the physical world; our insignificance within the larger context of the universe; the usefulness of pleasure and pain. I tried to tackle all of these things from the culmination of my life, thoughts, and hopes—rather than restricting the lens to a singular experience. I feel like that limitation would have been the antithesis of Heathen: all experience has some value and can be useful.

How would you characterise Heathen against previous full-lengths or those EP/split releases you’ve found Thou fans gravitating towards as most popular or definitive?
Andy: I think this is definitely some of our more accessible material, despite the lengthy song times. We’ve taken to saving our more abrasive stuff for EPs/splits and focusing on melody for the full-lengths. I think anyone who thinks Summit is our best album is going to love Heathen. And anyone who thinks Summit is the worst should just wait a little while until the next batch of stuff comes out!
Bryan: To be honest, I’m still amazed that people like our band at all, so I can’t really speak to what’s popular. I’m really proud of Summit, but I’ve always felt like it got an inordinate amount of attention and acclaim compared to our other releases. I definitely think that Heathen is by far the best thing we’ve written so far. Is it the definitive Thou release? I think we used a lot of our usual tricks, as far as riffs and melody and song structures. So in that sense, it’s very prototypical for us. But I also feel like we still have a lot more to offer in some other, more drastic directions. Regardless of how the record ends up being received, we’re all really happy with it, and I feel like it’s raised the bar for us on the next record.

There’s a quote on the Gilead press page that goes a little like so: “RIYL: Nature, the sensual world, sexual decadence, pain and ecstasy, actively experiencing the present…” Discuss.
Bryan: I wrote that out of frustrated boredom with those stupid one-sheet recommendation listings I see all the time. Admittedly, I understand the usefulness of the shorthand, but most of those things are hilarious if not completely wack-a-doo. I just wanted something that clearly stated the thematic elements of our record without falling into the hyperbole of a poorly written record review or the laziness of musical cross comparisons.

Judging by your website’s exhaustive listing of all your songs/lyrics, I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and assume lyrics aren’t something created as an afterthought. In that case, how would you say Heathen differs thematically and/or lyrically from other works? Did you find that being as prolific as you were for a few years made it increasingly difficult to come up with unique twists on those topics which interest you, or even fresh topics to focus on? Were you ever guilty of repeating yourself, subconsciously or not?
Bryan: Writing lyrics is my only real job in the band, so I definitely take some time. I’m not sure how this one compares lyrically to the other stuff. I’m happy with everything. I’m sure there’s my usual enormous helping of hyperbole and melodrama. There are definitely metaphors and images I find myself constantly coming back to. It would be funny to do a word count of the lyrics and see how many times I use variations of fire, ocean, night, death, etc. Hopefully, I’m putting some unique spin on the more typical metal tropes. I’m not really overly concerned with revisiting a topic. I feel like if I’m writing about something again it’s usually because I have more to say or a different way to say it. I think the world we live in is a bottomless well of topics for me to write sad or angry songs about. So I’m not too worried about running out of source material any time soon. I have an overactive imagination and a big mouth in general, so I could probably talk endlessly about most things. I’m a Pisces. Heathen, and the next big record Magus, are meant to be deeper explorations of the hopeful vision of Summit. Each record is meant to tackle one extreme of the dual-natured individual it might take to actualize that concept. Magus is going to be about the ethereal – theory, history, philosophy, magick – while Heathen is about the physical world, the senses and active experience,

deciblog - thou cover

What’s the who/what/where/when/why and how behind the cover image? I’m tempted to say that the image doesn’t fit in with the path of highly-detailed, ornate, almost woodcut/early industrial age-looking images you’ve used with many of your covers, but then again, it’s not like every cover has looked like To Carry a Stone and Dwell in the Darkness… Anyway, what gives?
Bryan: The woman on the cover of the CD is Julia Prinsep Jackson as “La Santa Julia” by Julia Margaret Cameron from 1867. I feel like those Cameron images are actually a lot closer to the woodcut stuff we use; it all has the same medieval, magickal, old world feel to me. I was just looking for something that had the same sort of hopeful-yet-despondent feel as the images from the Summit CD, but also looked markedly different.

Thou’s website is at noladiy.org/thou/. You can easily spend hours reading lyrics, reading updates and downloading their discography free of charge!

Thou on Bandcamp.

Regardless of who’s living where, they aren’t going to be home much in the next couple of months. Here’s where they will be:
*West Coast with CLOUD RAT*
04.11.14 – Champaign at Error Records (702 S. Neil Street) at seven pm with Weekend Nachos, Enabler, Northless, Angry Gods, and Doomsayer // Skeletal Lightning Fest
04.12.14 – Iowa City (matinee) at Public Space One with Darsombra and Aseethe
04.12.14 – Omaha at The Westwing at ten pm (301 S 38th Avenue)
04.13.14 – Denver at Mutiny Information Cafe (2 S. Broadway) at nine pm with Primitive Man and Swells
04.14.14 – Billings at Black Sparrow Tattoo Club (1940 Grand Ave) at seven pm with Show for Nobody
04.15.14 – Seattle with Ô Paon and Samothrace at Blacklodge at nine pm
04.16.14 – Olympia (matinee) at Ralph House (407 Fairview Street SE) at one pm with Reivers and Hysterics
04.16.14 – Portland at Slabtown (1033 NW 16th Ave.) at eight pm with Ô Paon and Druden
04.17.14 – Portland (matinee) at 10128 NE Pacific Street at one pm with Reivers and Contempt
04.17.14 – Salem at Wisp House (805 Church Street) at seven pm with Hell and OSS
04.18.14 – Sacramento (matinee) at Oak Park Boiz House (3644 1st Avenue) at twelve pm with Tom Hanx
04.18.14 – Berkeley at 924 Gilman Street at seven pm with Negative Standards, Sutekh Hexen, Ragana, and Ritual Control
04.19.14 – Santa Cruz (matinee) at Streetlight Records (939 Pacific Avenue) at three pm
04.19.14 – San Francisco at The Lab (2948 16th Street) at seven pm with Kowloon Walled City
04.20.14 – Oakland (matinee) at Toys in Babeland at three pm with Reivers
04.20.14 – San Jose at San Jose Rock Shop (30 N. 3rd Street) at seven pm with Folivore
04.21.14 – San Luis Obispo (matinee) at Frankie Teardrops (759 Francis Avenue) at two pm with Agowilt
04.21.14 – Goleta at Hard to Find (7190 Hollister Ave) at seven pm with Dangers
04.22.14 – Pomona (matinee) at Aladdin Jr. II (296 W. 2nd Street) with Trapped Within Burning Machinery
04.22.14 – San Diego at Che Cafe at seven pm with Dangers
04.23.14 – Riverside (matinee) at Blood Orange at twelve pm with Moxiebeat
04.23.14 – Los Angeles at the Echo (1820 Sunset Blvd.) at eight pm with Dangers
04.24.14 – Phoenix (matinee) at Wallstreet at three pm with Dross and Funerary
04.24.14 – Flagstaff at The Hive at nine pm with Swamp Wolf and Seas Will Rise
04.25.14 – Albuquerque at Gasworks (2429 Quincy Street NE) at seven pm with Bathhouse and Predatory Light
04.26.14 – Dallas at Taqueria Perditos (4910 Capitol Ave) at nine pm with Orgullo Primitivo, Terminator 2, and Pissed Grave
04.27.14 – New Orleans at Mudlark Theatre at seven pm with Bitchface

*East Coast and Midwest collaboration tour with THE BODY*
06.27.14 – write/practice
06.28.14 – write/practice
06.29.14 – write/practice
06.30.14 – Baton Rouge
07.01.14 – Birmingham at The Forge (5505 1st Avenue) at seven pm with Lume
07.02.14 – Greensboro at Legitimate Business
07.03.14 – Richmond (matinee) at Empire the Bar at two pm
07.03.14 – DC
07.04.14 – Baltimore (matinee) at Sidebar (218 E. Lexington Street) at noon with Curse
07.04.14 – Philadelphia with Hirs, Pissgrave, and Backslider
07.05.14 – Jersey City (matinee) at WFMU (43 Montgomery Street)
07.05.14 – New York (matinee) at ABC No Rio
07.05.14 – New York
07.06.14 – New London (matinee) at The Orphanage (300 State Street) at one pm with Empty Vessels and Snow Orphan
07.06.14 – Amherst with Rozamov
07.07.14 – Boston with Curmudgeon
07.08.14 – Providence at Machines with Magnets
07.09.14 – write/record in Providence
07.10.14 – write/record in Providence
07.11.14 – write/record in Providence
07.12.14 – Syracuse with Bleak and Blood Sun Circle
07.13.14 – Pittsburgh at The Shop
07.14.14 – Detroit at Trumbullplex (4230 Common Wealth) at seven pm
07.15.14 – Grand Rapids
07.16.14 – Michigan City at Carbon Room (9833 W 300 N) at eight pm with Angry Gods
07.17.14 – Chicago at Club Rectum with Ash Borer and Hell
07.18.14 – Oshkosh (collaboration sets) at Masonic Center (204 Washington) at five pm with Ash Borer, Hell, Inter Arma, Protestant, and Oozing Wound // Gilead Fest
07.19.14 – Oshkosh (Body solo) at Masonic Center (204 Washington) two pm with Bastard Sapling, Mutilation Rites, Kowloon Walled City, Geryon, False, Sea of Bones, Owlfood, Hexer // Gilead Fest
07.20.14 – Oshkosh (Thou solo) Masonic Center (204 Washington) at one pm with Barghest, Loss, Uzala, Lychgate, Seidr, Generation of Vipers, Alraune, and Northless // Gilead Fest
07.21.14 – drive home

Read ‘em and weep: Will Lindsay of Indian gives us his all-time on-tour reading list

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, March 24th, 2014

Indian

Chicago’s Indian are presently hauling their blackhearted nihilism across the tarmac of the UK and Europe in support of the Decibel-approved From all Purity. It’s a sick record from disturbed men, maybe more noisy, more off-the-chain than anything they’ve cut to record before, and if your record collection exists primarily to harsh your mellow (which, y’know, is a safe assumption since your browsing habits have landed you here) you’d do well to visit the Relapse store and click the ADD TO CART button. You do the necessary and order From All Purity here.

But while we’ve got Indian safely packed into a van eating up the road miles for the greater glory of blackened sludge-doom-noise-whatever-you-want-to-call-it, we pressed vocalist/guitarist Will Lindsay on the books that keep him sane or thereabouts on the road and this is what he told us.

FYODOR DOSTOEVSKY — Notes from the Underground (1864)
Will Lindsay: “Notes from the Underground was the first book of his that I read. I came across it in the early to mid-90s. The publishing company Dover did these thrift editions, and they were all like classic books that were one to three dollars, and you’d see them everywhere. They’d be at major book stores, used book stores. There was a radical leftist book store in Eugene, Oregon, called Hungry Head, and they had a whole selection of them, too. I kinda just bought it on a whim. It was 99 cents so I figured I couldn’t really go wrong with it. It’s just over a hundred pages, and it’s written in a first-person narrative. It’s divided into two sections: the first section is the narrator weighing out his philosophy, I suppose; and the second half of the book is a scene that takes place with him and a group of people. The whole book is amazing. The first half of the book is what I guess really resonated with me. When you open the book, the first lines—it depends on the translation, and I might be paraphrasing slightly—read, ‘I’m a sick man. I’m an unattractive man.’ It’s just a really powerful opener. One of the driving points of that book is the divine right to act against one’s own self interest.”

GITTA SERENY — Into that Darkness(1974) / Albert Speer: His Battle with the Truth (1995)
Will Lindsay: “My friend Peter Sotos turned me onto Gitta Sereny. There are two books that she wrote that I am really into. I’m really into World War II history, which in one of the first conversations I had with Pete that came up, and he asked me if I had ever read Gitta Sereny. I said I hadn’t—but I saw later that he had referenced her in some of his writings. She was originally Hungarian and grew up in Austria. She was living in Austria at the time of the Anschluss; she was a teenager, and she ended up fleeing to France and being part of the underground resistance there during the Nazi occupation. She finally had to flee France, through Spain and to the US. She went back to Germany right after the war ended and did a lot of work in the immediate post-war in West Germany, finding children that the Nazis had taken, eastern European children that they felt were sufficiently Aryan and put them in German homes. She had to find these children who often would think that they were German as they were brought up that way, take them away in the rare circumstances where she was able to find their real parents and send them back to Poland, Ukraine, or some of the Baltic States.
“She wrote these two incredible books. The first was called Into that Darkness, and she did something like 70 hours of prison interviews with Franz Stangl, who was the commandent of Treblinka. Stangl fled after the war through Italy and through the Vatican to Syria, and then to Brazil, and was arrested and extradited back to West Germany, and got a life sentence for it. She interviewed him in prison and it was all about his early life, his times in the concentration camps. He was also part of the Nazi euthanasia program in 1940/41, and the last interview she did with him was the first and only time in his life that he ever admitted his culpability in his role in the Holocaust. He died 19 hours after the last interview, kinda out of nowhere—he died of a heart attack. I love Germany. It is one of my favorite countries in Europe. I have a lot of friends there and when you travel through it, it is really hard to believe it is only 70 years ago. It is such recent history and it’s really hard to keep it in mind sometimes. I know William Shirer argued that it couldn’t have happened anywhere other than Germany in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich but I don’t agree with that. It’s apples and oranges in a sense, but you look at what people were doing in Stalinist Russia; I mean, people were doing terrible things. Russia under Stalinism was just awful and it couldn’t have happened without the active participation of millions of normal citizens. The other book was a biography of Albert Speer; she lived with him on and off for a number of years—I could go off on that one for a long time, too. They are both very interesting even if you are not into WWII/Holocaust history. It’s worth anybody’s time to seek them out.”

H.L. Mencken — Anything [A Mencken Chrestomathy: His Own Selection of His Choicest Writing available here is a good place to start (1982)]
Will Lindsay: “Most of the stuff I’ve read is collections so maybe with this one I won’t be so book-specific as I am author-specific—H.L. Mencken was an American journalist from Baltimore. He edited a magazine called The American Mercury for a while in the 1920s. He was very contrarian. He never shied away from saying what he had on his mind; he was very straight in his opinions. He caught a lot of grief because he was pro-German during World War I, and he had a really hard time to get him to stray away from his pro-German tendencies, even during World War II. Part of it was an ethnic thing for him; I don’t remember his specific lineage but there was definitely a lot of German in his family history. Most of what I’ve read about him has been in the context of The American Mercury and his writings. I read a biography of him a few years back. He caught a lot of grief; it was the standard accusations people throw around, eg. he wasn’t patriotic, he wasn’t this or that. Part of his thing was that he wasn’t the biggest fan of democracy to begin with. I think that he viewed democracy as a failed experiment. But he was contrarian on a lot of other things, too, I mean his critics at the time would have had plenty of ammunition. He covered the Scopes “Monkey” Trial; he thought the whole thing was absurd—it was absurd. I wouldn’t say he was an agent provocateur, just ‘cos the insinuation that he was some ulterior motives; he was just a contrarian, and he didn’t shy away from expressing an unpopular opinion.”

MARQUIS DE SADE — Justine, or The Misfortune of Virtue (1791)
Will Lindsay: “I’m reading this one right now. I’m not even all the way through it but I can’t believe I have never read it before. These two girls are orphaned and one of them, Justine, is a most pious, pure religious girl, and her sister, Juliette . . . Her sister Juliette just isn’t. We’ll say that. They go their separate ways and Juliette becomes a prostitute, steals when it is convenient to her, when it’s going to be of benefit to her. She lies and has a wonderful, prosperous life. She does really well for herself. Justine is pious and pure and just suffers one misfortune after the next. The premise of the book—and I’ve only gotten through the first section of it—I mean, the title just kinda sums it up, The Misfortune of Virtue. She falls into all these unfortunate situations where she’s raped, where people are trying to force her to commit murder. But in between all the violence in the story she is trying to argue with her assailants. At least for me and my interpretation of the book; the violence is really an aside, that it’s debating the merits of virtue and where virtue is going to get you. Part of De Sade’s whole thing was that virtue and piety was a weakness. He certainly had a low opinion of religion. I just recently read 120 Days of Sodom too. It was a great book but I am enjoying Justine even more. He wrote 120 Days of Sodom when he was locked up in the Bastille, and basically what little I know of him we are talking graphic sexuality, and I think he was probably writing something more to jerk off to while he was in prison. There is certainly more too it than just that, but . . . It’s interesting. He smuggled some of that out but he also hid some of it in the Bastille. It wasn’t discovered until after he died. He went to his grave thinking it was lost forever. He had to publish Justine anonymously, and even denied that he was the author.”

James O. Long and Thomas E. Gaddis — Panzram: A Journal of Murder (2002)
Will Lindsay: “All five of these books, I’m not sure if they are the most influential books in my life but they were the first ones that came to mind, I guess, so clearly they must have had some sort of impact. I can’t remember the author’s name off the top of my head but it’s a book called Panzram. It is about an American serial killer who was born in the late 1800s, in Minnesota, and one of the things I found really amazing about the book was that Carl Panzram had no real friends, or anything like that. He didn’t make a friend until near the end of his life, and it was one of his prison guards. He wrote out his life story and gave all the sheets to this prison guard to smuggle out. This would have been in the late 1920s or early ‘30s. It was right around when the American Stock Market crashed. This book is interspersed with his own personal writings, and he goes all the way from his life up until the last jail sentence he did where he ended up being executed. He talks a little bit about his philosophy, and also has his letters that he sent to this guard, which are more or less the only letters that he sent aside from maybe working on subscriptions: when he got the death penalty, which he wanted, he discovered that there was an anti-death penalty group in America that was petitioning to have his sentence commuted to life in prison and he wrote just the most violent, brutal letter to them, protesting that they would not interfere and that he would get the sentence that he wanted. He wrote a letter to the President asking the same thing. He didn’t want any clemency. He was just incredibly violent, lacked any kind of morals.”

**Indian on Facebook

Go…Direct to Video: Andrew Bonazelli Speaks

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews On: Thursday, March 13th, 2014

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back into your favorite online bookseller…

DTV — the excellent rock ‘em, sock ‘em ode to the heyday of 80s larger-than-life action film excess and its absurdist/dehumanizing aftermath from Decibel Managing Editor & novelist Andrew Bonazelli — is back in a brand new edition, complete with its appropriately insane soundtrack.

Here’s the blurb:

In the mid-1990s, Burke Knox and Pierre-Georges Philippe were second only to Arnold and Sly on the action hero food chain. Today, they’re bloated punchlines pushing 50. Surviving an onslaught of personal and professional lows, the former rivals strike up an unlikely friendship. When a mysterious opportunity for a joint comeback arises, there are only three things for Burke and Pi-Gi to do: roundhouse fate in the jaw, bend its elbow 90 degrees the wrong way, and bring the pain Direct to Video.

And here is our conversation with the man himself…

So. Virtually every decent action yarn seems to kick off with either a murdered wife/girlfriend/mentor, a unacceptable no-honor-among-thieves double-cross, a ignoble past flashback that will require a present day righteous vengeance for atonement, or a hot aerobics instructor possessed by the spirit of an malevolent ninja. Does the DTV origin story meet any of those criteria?

The last one. But then I turned “hot aerobics instructor” into “chubby has-been action stars” and “the spirit of an evil ninja” into “crippling existential ennui.” The topless scenes left a lot to be desired, sadly.

Despite one of the aforementioned past-their-primers Burke Knox dubbing his remaining enthusiastic fans “everyday basement-dwelling orca” and “Sharpie-wielding Action Con mouth-breather,” the book is obviously a labor of love.

You know how everybody laughs at the Rocky IV montage(s) or the three or four wiseguy monologues they inexplicably give Seagal in Out for Justice? I watch that stuff and I’m like, Fuck yes, thank you. That’s how I interpreted it when I was a kid, at least — This fucking rules — and just because I’m an “adult” now doesn’t mean that anything’s really changed. I mean, I have like ten or twelve Criterion DVDs, but I don’t know that my taste is necessarily more refined today. The preponderance of irony and self-awareness in pop culture has inevitably kinda warped my perception of Van Damme — Pierre-Georges Philippe in the book — and Seagal — Burke Knox — but not that much. There are a lot of things they do onscreen that people find laughable, but I find endearing — not just JCVD’s ass shots. Really, DTV is more of a love letter to people who are obsessed with JCVD’s first seven-ish movies and Seagal’s first six than to action cinema at large.

Did you see delving into this subject matter as a way to justify your cultural adolescence?

I should probably be insulted by this question, but sure, I guess.

)

DTV feels to me like a bit of a departure in both tone and narrative from your first three books — a dark, harrowing vibe still colors the background, but there is also some inherent absurdism and comic relief in dealing with past their prime action stars and slimy managers, etcetera. Did your process — for lack of a better word — differ this time out?

Soldier Under Command: The Testimony of Stryper’s Michael Sweet

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews On: Thursday, March 6th, 2014

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So many bands give the devil all the glory
It’s hard to understand, we want to change the story
We want to rock one way, on and on…

Hard to believe nearly thirty years have passed since Stryper frontman Michael Sweet threw down that gauntlet with a crooning roar on the Yellow and Black Attack anthem “From Wrong to Right.” Crazier still, perhaps, that the band’s 2013 album No More Hell to Pay proved such a powerful slab of one-eye-on-the-divine glam thrash swagger — no half-hearted nostalgia cash-in here; just a vital, remarkably worthy successor to classic albums like Soldiers Under Command and To Hell with the Devil. It’s the sort of triumph that makes one wish some of these other eighties bands on the comeback trail would consider praying for a little guidance.

Amidst the chaos of putting the final touches on both an excellent new modern rock-tinged solo record (I’m Not Your Suicide) and an autobiography (Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed), Sweet was gracious enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to talk about the rigors and blessings of straddling the borderline between faith and heavy metal — arenas he has done so much to establish as not-so-mutually exclusive.

To say faith has been part of Stryper’s mission would be a massive understatement, but do you feel as if the process of composing and performing these songs over the years has deepened your own personal relationship with God?

Full circle, getting to this point? Yes. In between though? There were times when it had an opposite effect. There were times when I felt God wasn’t there and questioned whether there even was a God. When my wife was sick and dying of cancer, I was thinking, “Wow, we’ve devoted our lives to you, God — and this is what we get?” That was just what was going through my head at the time. Maybe that was selfish or whatever, but that’s just the truth of the matter. But to fast forward to today, having gone through all that, I do feel that it has strengthened and taken me much further in my faith. Absolutely.

It actually shows quite a bit of ethical fortitude and principle that you didn’t cash in on those doubts while you were having them — a Stryper-abandons-God! record would probably have earned you oodles of fawning press and a truckload of money!

[Laughs.] Well, we’ve kind of been there and done that. Maybe not to the extreme it could have been, but when we made the Against the Law album that was in some sense a “No God” album. Lyrically, it was still involving and including God, but at the same time our lifestyles didn’t portray that. We were bringing booze on the bus, girls on the bus. We were all of a sudden something other than what we had said we were for however many years. We were, in my view, perfect examples of hypocrisy. And we’ve all done that. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. We’re all sinners. But the thing about Stryper is, we’re in the public eye and we’re going to be held accountable by the public when we fall short. Honestly, I wish other bands were held accountable as much as we were.

Several years back, a friend of mine wrote a book entitled In Defense of Hypocrisy, wherein he argued, to be kind of unfairly reductive, that it was better to set a high standard and fall short than to have no standards and say, “Well, at least I’m not a hypocrite!”

Hollywood Babylon: Paul Masvidal’s Life in LA

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs, interviews, listen On: Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

JimCarrey-PaulMasvidal

Few people have a professional circle that includes Chris Barnes and Alex Webster, sexy pop starlet Terri Nunn and global film star Jim Carrey. One of them is Decibel Hall Of Fame inductee Paul Masvidal (enshrined with his Cynic bandmates for Focus). When Cynic fell apart in the mid-90s, Masvidal relocated to Los Angeles, where he has steadily built a career that includes songwriting, studio work and, most recently, working with Jim Carrey on the children’s book How Roland Rolls (check out a video of work on the book). The same curiosity that propelled Masvidal’s work in Cynic has made him an in-demand Hollywood talent.

Masvidal talked to us from LA about his life in the dream factory. After the conversation, check out a sampler of Masvidal’s film work. You can preorder Cynic’s new album Kindly Bent To Free Us in every format imaginable.

When did you start writing music for Hollywood projects?

I moved here in 1996. I was a student at Musician’s Institute. A faculty member knew Terri Nunn from Berlin, the pop band from the 80s. She played her some stuff I was doing and Terri loved it. That was my big welcome to LA moment. Suddenly, I was writing songs with Terri Nunn. The big leap into TV work was a neighbor who lived next to my brother’s apartment building. She was a junior agent at CAA and is now an agent. She worked with film and TV composers. I approached her and said I wanted to get my foot in the door. She hooked me up with one of her clients. At first I was getting coffee but after he learned I had chops and could play he brought me in as a musician. Pretty soon, I was immersed in session work for network TV.

Did you know all the 80s Berlin tunes like “Metro” and “Sex”?

And “Take My Breath Away,” that was a huge one and was in Top Gun. I was hanging out with Terri and even though I wasn’t a huge Berlin fan we ended up recording three tunes. I thought she had a cool record that was sort of spiritual, electronic pop before Madonna did it. But it never came out. It got shelved. She stayed in the world of nostalgia. It’s a shame because I thought what we were doing was strong. But when you have that much success sometimes you’re afraid of going out there again.

And a song like “Take My Breath Away” can probably pay your bills for life

Kind of, although (Giorgio) Moroder wrote that song. He wrote stuff for Donna Summer and Motown. I think he got most of the money but the performance royalty was substantial. It was on the radio 24-7 for a year.

Did you play her any Cynic material?

I don’t think so. When I moved here Cynic was gone. It was a past life I wasn’t trying to revisit. It ended in such a sad way. I didn’t even want to tell anyone. I wanted to shut down that part of my past because it was painful and anticlimactic. We tried and it was so hard that we broke up. There was no love out there. I’d been doing Cynic since I was in high school and didn’t know anything else. So I had to rediscover who I was without the band. Cynic wasn’t even really in my language until 2006.

So, like a lot of people you came to Los Angeles to reinvent yourself.

I had a brother here and I came out here to go to school. I finished all my core classes at UCLA. One summer I went to Musician’s Institute and auditioned because there was a jazz teacher I liked. They gave me a full scholarship. That sort of said the town was embracing me. I took it as a green light to move. Having a brother here was helpful because I lived with him and was able to transition. (Masvidal’s hometown) Miami is dominated by Latin music and hip hop and there isn’t much work there for musicians who have their head elsewhere. The pool was small compared to a place like LA. There is a tremendous amount of work here.

When you were transitioning to this new career was what you did in Cynic applicable?

Oh, totally. At the height of Focus we developed chops. That was the result of years of practicing. But I couldn’t do a real world application of my knowledge until I was thrown charts and was forced out of my comfort zone. The unorthodox world of Cynic led to all this stuff. A guy I worked for at one point actually told me I was overqualified for the job. But it was cool he understood the value of underground music. Our music was never easy to play and having that ability on your instrument will help you elsewhere.

When you work with other people on film projects it’s about helping them realize their vision. How do you do that and remain true to yourself as a musician?

It depends on the job. I’m so self indulgent with Cynic that I love being a side guy under someone’s wing or serving their muse. It lets me wear different hats. Jim Carrey is a master and a comedic genius and it was incredible to just be in his presence. I was more than happy to just help make him happy.

Can you tell us more about the project?

I’m the music director of an organization called GATES, which is the Global Alliance For Transformational Entertainment. Carrey and (author) Eckhart Tolle are two of the big names behind it. It’s an organization that’s trying to provide a new language for Hollywood media. The guy who started it has known Jim for a long time. He called and asked if I was interested. Next thing you know, I’m working with Jim day in and day out. It was an incredible experience. As an artist he works on a level that I’ve never witnessed. He’s present and engaged and a true improviser and can channel his innate talent in a way no one else I’ve met can. It was a life-altering journey.

Did you talk at all about death metal?

Not much. We’ve met a few times in other contexts. Early on, I said some old friends of mine were in your first film. Ace Ventura was now over 20 years ago. He found it funny. I know he has eclectic taste. I think his heart is more into classic rock. But I know it was really cool for Cannibal to get that. It changed their whole trajectory and they’ve been permanently associated with that movie. It shifted everything for them.

So you didn’t get to ask if he got the Torture LP.

(Laughs). No, we didn’t get into any of that. I think he is very open and curious. He obviously knew about my past. When we met to talk about the children’s book I played him some new Cynic stiff. He was curious and excited to hear it.

It’s interesting that Cannibal appeared in Ace Ventura considering that Jim removed himself from promoting Kick Ass 2. Yet his film was indirectly responsible for launching one of the biggest death metal bands ever.

What spoke to him about Cannibal, if I understand it correctly, is that it’s so over the top it’s hilarious. If you don’t take it very seriously it’s hilarious. That’s what Jim saw: it’s so extreme I can make it hilarious. The scene is so fun and Cannibal became this pop culture death metal staple. The guys in Cannibal aren’t like these Scandinavian people being evil in real life – they just happen to write crazy shit.

A lot of people criticize Hollywood but it sounds like it’s been a positive experience for you.

Hollywood gets a bad rap for materialism and glamour and all that nonsense. At the root of it this town thrives with creative output. The standard of artistry is so high. There is something sad about people that come here and try to make it, the fame seekers. But behind the vanity people that come here there’s this insane and creative underbelly that drives the town: writers, musicians, artists, painters and illustrators. I think it’s so inspiring. So many people want an opportunity to get their vision across. It’s one of the few places where a freak like me can come from an unorthodox place and make it a career. If you have something to say and talent you can go a long way.

Decibel Exclusive: Read a Jack Grisham short story

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: exclusive, featured On: Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

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T.S.O.L. vocalist, author and provocateur Jack Grisham has visited the land of the extremely extreme several times in the past year or so. He wrote a moving tribute to Jeff Hanneman in our memorial issue last July. In August, he joined the Deciblog for a career-spanning interview where he talked about the classic Dance With Me, his memoir An American Demon and his second life as a writer.

Decibel is now teaming with Mr. Grisham and Punk Hostage Press for an exclusive read of his short story “I Love A Parade,” part of the collection Untamed. There have been some nips and tucks in the second edition, which you can order here.

Grisham just announced the upcoming publication of Code Blue: A Love Story, a book based partially on the T.S.O.L. ode to necrophilia that you all know and love. It will be released in a limited run of 500 copies.

On July 4th, Main Street was transformed into a traveling zoo. Great helium animals marched past the windows of his apartment near the corner. He resided on the 4th floor, which gave him a perfect angle to view the beasts of the parade as they passed by. Today was his favorite day of the year. The crowds outside had swelled so that he was almost able to feel their touch—their joy and their Independence Day spirit climbing up toward his heart—almost. When was the last time someone had bothered to come upstairs and knock on his door? The manager of the building had been up some two months ago, but he wasn’t sure if that counted—although, hand delivering a “raise of rent” notice was a very thoughtful gesture. The phone hadn’t rung either. The last call was from his ex-wife’s new “friend” telling him that if he didn’t stop harassing her, a restraining order would be issued. He wasn’t harassing, he just wanted to set things straight, and the fact that she hadn’t called him herself had given him some hope that maybe she still cared enough to continue—of course, that hope was gone now. Their marriage was no better than last year’s streamers—colorful paper ropes, so promising and so beautiful, only to be swept into the gutter and dispatched to the trash.

He looked out the window as a large Sponge Bob floated merrily by. He enjoyed Bob’s cartoons, although he was surprised that the character, traveling down the street, was moving in an orderly fashion; the sponge was, after all, a bit unruly. The thought made him smile.

He’d recently purchased a length of rope and he’d coiled it neatly on the dining room table. It was a strong, thin piece of cut mountain climbing cord—a touch expensive, but worth it, if it didn’t break. He picked up the rope, got down on his knees and wrapped one end around a solid oak leg of the table, and then he tied it off. It left him a length of about thirty-two feet, or the distance across his living room and two stories down; that is, if he was going to toss the rope from the window.

He walked into his bedroom and the pictures from last year’s vacation were still lying on the floor where he’d placed them. He’d laid the photos out as sort of a visual timeline, a map of a trip he’d taken to Big Sur with his ex-wife. He’d been imagining that if he could somehow walk down those frames, navigate the past, that he could bring her home and re-start their life together, but it hadn’t worked. The plan had seemed like it could’ve been successful or at least kind of successful after he’d had a few drinks, but in the morning it was nonsense.

And now, as he contemplated the futility of his existence, he remembered thinking that if he’d kept pictures since childhood—since his first day in the world—that maybe he could have removed a shot or two and been an entirely different man. What were they using to take photos back then, Polaroids? Huh. Even in 1970 they were beginning to lose touch with slow, meaningful, relationships. Everybody wanted fast—instant gratification—nobody wanted to work on anything anymore, really try before you cast something, or someone, aside. Even the parade had gotten quicker. Each year the long, winding, hang-on-to-the-tail-in-front chain had skipped by faster and shorter than before. It was sad.

There was a band going by in the street below. He listened as the sound came close, hung for a verse or two, and then moved on before the chorus. He wondered if the inflatable Sponge enjoyed this tune.

With purpose, he removed his clothes and looked at his reflection in the mirror. He wasn’t a bad looking man. He was tall, what some might consider handsome, and he still had a full head of thick brown hair, but inside he was through. If someone would have poked him, that is, if they had come close enough, his hard outer shell would have easily broken and the thick black gelatinous muck of defeat would have leaked from inside. Shit, he hadn’t thought of that. He hoped he fell clean—without a cut, he’d hate to ruin the parade by raining muck on the spectators.

How’d it go bad anyway, his marriage to Margaret? He’d been kind and gracious, loved her more than anyone ever could. She said he was angry, not at her—well, maybe once or twice at her—but at everything. It wasn’t true. Sure, he had the complaints of any man; why the fuck do they get this and I get that? What have I done to deserve the short end of the stick? Who are they to tell me what to do?

But was he angry? No, he was just tired of being pushed around, and there’s nothing wrong with having a healthy willingness to not be bullied or used by anyone.

He thought back to the day she’d left. He’d come home a touch late as usual, and he was tired, but not overly so. He walked in, the same as he did every night, but this time he walked into the feeling of nothing. She wasn’t there. There was no note; no explanation; no mess; she hardly took anything—some clothes and a photo of the two of them together, but the house had died. It was now the skin of a place that used to be lived in, and looking back, he realized that that small picture had held all the power. It was the heart of their home. A simple silver frame—four inches by six, which cradled a color photo of the two of them smiling and holding hands, and it was gone.

His eyes traveled the house searching for the things that could be removed without him knowing. There were paintings on the walls and knick-knacks on the shelves that he’d never miss. And the TV, crowding the living room, it could be gone for days without his awareness—that is, until he sat down to watch a show. The house was littered with items of no count—all worthless; but that photo, that innocuous little photo—he never even looked at it, but that was the thing he’d missed the minute it was gone. He wondered if the world would miss him, but he didn’t wonder long. He knew the small picture frame spot on the dresser, the one void of dust—Pledge-shiny waxed—held more power and created a deeper sense of loss than anything he would ever be capable of in his life. When he was removed he wouldn’t be missed.

He walked naked into the living room.

He pulled twice on the rope that he’d tied to the table—checked the security of his knot, and then he tied the other end about his neck. As he did so he looked out the window and directly into the eyes of a large pink ape. The wind turned the giant helium head in his direction and the beast’s eyes reflected nothing of him or the room. He had already disappeared as far as this monster was concerned, and if it showed any interest in him at all, it was probably as an apartment hunter looking for a safe place to store its deflated self. He walked to the window and opened it wide.

If it was loud before, it was now a thunderous din—laughter and goodwill rushed up from the street, jumped from the sash, and ran their rude notes across his body. Children screaming—joy-filled voices painfully forcing him to imagine sweet candy-coated smiles and dirty knee’d summer dreams. He closed his eyes and shook the thought from his head.

The rope was a touch rough around his throat so he untied it and went to find something soft to wear beneath. It might clutter the body, lose that dramatic “found nude” headline, but, chafing was chafing, and there was no reason to be uncomfortable.

He returned to his bedroom and noticed that his dresser was as it should be. He paused and listened to a tune from below. It was a parade song, nothing you’d ever listen to in the car, but every time he heard it, he enjoyed it more. Why couldn’t he be ready now, he thought, this would be a great piece to swing to; a real show-stopper, with a nice, tight, beat.

A few of Margaret’s things were left over from her departure, including a scarf that he’d found in the back seat of his car. He’d stowed it in a dresser drawer, the one he was opening now, and there it was, boldly lying across a row of neatly folded T-shirts. The scarf was a light sky-blue with bits of bright yellow and green. It was bright, too bright for this room, although he didn’t remember the colors standing out when she wore it—funny how things change. The scarf still smelled of her. He wondered why perfume stayed on clothes longer than it stayed on skin, and how, even washed, like his button-down grey shirt had been, perfume could stay unfaithfully familiar as it clung to cloth—and maybe, there was that, his infidelity, but he’d never been a one woman man, he’d always needed more—he couldn’t change that. Hell, he took her tears and her monthly moods, why couldn’t she accept him?

Wild horns brayed crazily outside—a gang of clowns was below—reckless, crowding the street, dancing and honking, frightening the children. He pulled the window closed for a second, and as wood touched sill, he shut his eyes and remembered an unpleasant time—a car ride with Margaret that had gone sour. What was she trying to say as he yelled at her—her voice silent—tear-touched lips talking without sound while the horns from the cars behind pushed his rage? She was mute, but the man behind, that fool in the first car—the crying pussy, screaming as he was pulled through his window and beaten down in the street; he was heard. What nerve, telling him to move on, and those others, those horn honking pricks, the ones who hastily reversed their cars as he came toward them, they weren’t silent. And he was sorry, as he climbed back in his car, carrying with him the aggression of the moment. Yes, he’d shoved her. Yes, she hit hard enough to be knocked out, but it was really just a push that had gotten out of control, and if the window and the door jam hadn’t been there to so rudely stop her head, things would’ve been fine.

The clowns moved down the street, and except for the occasional brassy squeal that they’d left behind, they were quickly forgotten. He tied Margaret’s silk scarf around his neck and then gently laid the rope upon it. Ahhhhhh, that was better, and the knot probably had a smarter look, not being laid on bare skin. He coiled the rope in his hand and then climbed up to the window and worked his way into a sitting position on the sill. There he was, feeling the breeze and noticing that bare rumps were not made for rough sills. He dangled his legs over the unknowing crowd. He was in no hurry. When it was his turn to march, he would.

A gentle helium beast rounded the corner—a cartoon bear that he failed to recognize. It took up quite a bit of street as it lumbered and danced in a non-threatening bear-type manner. That was Margaret’s pet name for him—’Bear.’ Yes, bears could be like this one, smiling, toddling giant cuteness down city streets, or, they could be like other bears, like he was sometimes.

He let the rope drop.

It took a clear fall, not tangling itself on any poles or parapets, and then he leaned forward with his hands at his side. He’d let the happy bear have its day, take its turn in the sun, and then he’d jump during the next band.

After a momentary stall—something wasn’t moving on the corner of Main and 12th—the parade rolled on. The gentle bear rambled down the block, and the One-hundred and Eleventh Street School Band came along below his window. They were wonderful—black and purple uniforms, orange plumed feather hats.

He pushed out from the sill.

He was without weight, or worry, for a distance of thirty-two feet and then the rope came to an abrupt end. His head snapped back with a loud, clean pop. He bounced once or twice and then came to rest. Beautiful green and sky-blue colored streamers fell from the roof and hung festively over his body—a perfect match for the scarf.

And as he died his legs twitched in time with the band.

Professor Death Metal Strikes Back

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

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Not long ago we introduced you to Concordia University professor/extreme music lifer Vivek Venkatesh. Today the man we affectionately call “Professor Death Metal” graciously gives us a sneak peak at “From Pride to Prejudice to Shame: Multiple Facets of the Black Metal Scene within and without Online Environments,” a chapter he co-authored with professor Jeff Podoshen, journalist David Perri and researcher Kathryn Urbaniak for a larger research collection entitled Educational, Psychological and Behavioral Consideration in Niche Online Communities.

The chapter, Venkatesh tells Decibel, “explores how black metal scene members manifest the tensions between their personal and communal identities, as well as how they negotiate the propagation of racism and xenophobia, both within and without online environments. Our chapter builds on sociological, psychological, and consumer culture-oriented research we have been conducting on the black metal scene. We draw on data from online forums, observations at several concerts and festivals in North America and Europe, interviews with black metal artists and fans, as well as personal, written reflections from Perri, an extreme metal music journalist who has struggled to find a balance between his appreciation of black metal music and some of the
overt racism and violence propagated in the scene.”

Here, for your edification, is an excerpt…

Our data point to converging physical and metaphysical conceptions of black metal amongst scene members, with commonalities including solitude, cold, forests, and obscurity. Overwhelmingly, the representation and propagation of the individual is of paramount importance to the black metal credo. Netnographic observations provide confirmation of the care with which fans point out how black metal relates to their character and personality. Forum members spoke of the spiritual aspects of listening to black metal, and deriving individual meaning from the music and lyrics, which, as explained in one entry, “… are difficult to put into words.” Posters and bloggers referred to the “elitist” nature of black metal; one such poster made constant mention of “elite members… of a black metal army.”

Interviewees also mentioned being reticent about discussing their conceptions of black metal with other black metal fans and referred to confrontations with other self-proclaimed black metal fans. Some interview participants, like Yasin (pseudonym), took black metal to task for being “a pretentious imagery of anger driven by despair.” Like many other interviewees and posters, Yasin pointed out that the affectations and theatrics of black metal have become too commonplace and contort the true meaning of black metal; Yasin also made reference to a distinct preference for enjoying black metal in solitude, as opposed to in groups. Our data also show that despite an allusion to a collective of black metal fans, black metal identities are intended to be discussed at the level of the individual, and only amongst a chosen, elite few. As co-author on this chapter, David Perri, who is a music writer specialising in extreme metal and a long-standing black metal fan, put it in an interview when asked about whether there were any absolute truths in black metal: “I guess the absolute truth is that not everybody gets this. I’m not being elitist, or [a] snob like ‘you don’t deserve to listen to this, there [are] only 10 people on this planet that should listen to this album,’ … it’s just [that] there might genuinely only be 10 people on this planet who get this… I don’t think the rest of the world understand this… so maybe that’s the absolute truth. It’s very few people who are actually going to get this… and that’s OK.”

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Decibel’s most anticipated albums of 2014: The unauthorised Deciblog addendum

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, lists On: Monday, January 6th, 2014

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Consider this here, folks, as an unofficial, off-the-cuff (read: poorly researched and impulsive) addendum to Decibel #112’s Top 20 2014 preview. This being the Internet, consider the following dispatch to be largely free of firm facts such as album/song titles, empirical data (release dates), and official words to corroborate our conjecture as to when said albums will appear and—perhaps more crucially—what they will sound like. Now, no doubt primed from issue #112’s forecast of box office releases from blue-chip heavyweights such as Behemoth, Napalm Death, Mastodon and Triptykon, make sure you spare some of your disposable income for the following fistful of metal . . .

CORPSESSED
TITLE: ABYSMAL THRESHOLDS
LABEL: DARK DESCENT
RELEASE DATE: Feb 4th
Pre-order here

Another slice of unrelenting morbidity from Finland, Corpsessed’s debut LP is the year’s first essential death metal release. Anyone who enjoys the sort of necrotic register the likes of Krypts and Vorum occupy should be able to get down to Jyri Lustig and Matti Mäkelä’s decomposed riff-work. Abysmal Threshold’s is full of harrowing tracks—but perhaps the atonal doom-death epic “Necrosophic Chaneling” is already a highlight, an epic that winds itself into to weird chaotic blasts and guitars that pay little heed to one other; they just seem to coalesce around Niko Matilainen’s leonine roar. Awesome stuff.

MITOCHONDRION
TITLE: TBA
LABEL PROFOUND LORE/DARK DESCENT
RELEASE DATE: SUMMER (Maybe)

Whatever Vancouver’s most vitriolic do next, it is most likely to pull death metal through the wormhole and change its physiology entirely. Once refracted through their tortured consciousness, genres don’t really mean much, as their gravitational pull hauls in elements of black metal and outré metal in a chaotic sound that could really only be theirs. They have already sounded a warning of where their sound will go next—a few months ago we posted the demo for “Writhen unto Abraxas” right here on the Deciblog. Who knows when album number three will be released but if they had demo tracks ready back in November, an early summer release could be on the cards. Here’s hoping. Catch them in action at MDF 2014.

TEITANBLOOD
TITLE: DEATH (TBA)
LABEL: NORMA EVANGELIUM DIABOLI
RELEASE DATE: SUMMER (TBA)

It has been almost four years since Spain’s premiere black/death metal kvtlists released their debut full-length, Seven Chalices, with only two tracks released across two EPs in the meantime. Yeah, sure, those tracks were real epics, but considering just months after the release of Seven Chalices guitarist/vocalist Nsk was telling Voices of the Darkside that there was material already written, this album has been a long time coming. Details at the moment are sketchy. Indeed, you could file this under unsubstantiated rumor, but TeitanBlood.com sends you to a holding page marked “Death”, and check this out on Norma Evangelium Diaboli’s homepage . . . Something is going to drop, but whether it is an album or another EP, time will tell.

DEAD CONGREGATION
TITLE: TBA
LABEL: NUCLEAR WAR NOW! PRODUCTIONS
RELEASE DATE: SPRING

Speaking of bands who have fallen off the radar and into the fathomless sink-hole of inactivity, Greek old-school death metallers Dead Congregation have been conspicuous by their absence since 2008 debut, Graves of the Archangels. Given that it was a record of perfectly pitched old-school putrescence, gore-hounds, rivethounds and death heads the world were jonesing for new material as soon as it dropped. None came. But lo, their Facebook page posted some tantalizing art emblazoned with “2014 The fall is imminent . . .” meaning that, surely, the wait could be over.

ANAAL NATHRAKH
TITLE: TBA
LABEL: TBA
RELEASE DATE: SPRING

Mick Kenney announced yesterday that a new Nathrakh album is in gestation and heralded its development with a picture of a whole bunch of potential songtitles. Sure, some of them will no doubt change before the release is firmed up and finalized, but we kinda hope they call the album Txtbook Nathrakh. But then Crust Necro sounds pretty catchy too. “The soundtrack for Armageddon, the audial essence of evil, hatred and violence, the true spirit of necro taken to its musical extremes . . . ” Anaal Nathrakh have yet to welch on their mission statement, even though Mick Kenney has now swapped the bleak, concrete grey of Birmingham, England, for the sunshine of California. But then Dave Hunt’s disposition and necro-throat is never going to lend itself to surf-pop and vocal harmonies. Don’t expect Pet Sounds.
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Celebrate 10 years of Seventh Rule by winning all their records

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: contest, featured On: Monday, December 23rd, 2013

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What with a holiday season to service and a ten-year anniversary to celebrate, the good people of Seventh Rule Recordings have doubled down on the good cheer and offered you the chance to win their entire vinyl discography in their 10 Year Glitch Prize Package

Says a dispatch from Seventh Rule’s Portland HQ: “Seventh Rule has been around for 10 Years now, and its been a beautiful blur. We’ve seen highs and lows, but are happy and thankful to all the people who continue to support us through the years. Such a milestone deserves a contest of epic proportions…”

Now, they didn’t have to do this to make us love them. Over the last ten years Seventh Rule have built such a reputation for putting out antisocial, disquieting and unique records from the likes of Indian, Batillus, Author & Punisher and Atriarch, that their name is a guarantee of quality.

More than half these records are now out-of-print, all of them are pretty awesome; some are already classics in the extreme metal pantheon . . . Or certainly neo-classics; The Unquiet Sky, for sure, Furnace and Forever the End to name just three.

**To win, email your name and address to tenyearglitch@seventhrule.com before midnight PST, Dec 31st. If your name comes out the hat, you get one each of these:

Sweet Cobra – Praise LP (Red Vinyl)
Akimbo – Elephantine LP (180G Vinyl)
Buried At Sea – She Lived For Others But Died For Us | Single Sided / Etched LP (Swirl Grey Vinyl)
INDIAN – The Unquiet Sky 2xLP (BLOOD RED#11 and EASTER YELLOW#2 AsideBside Vinyl)
The Makai – The End Of All You Know LP (Grey Marble Vinyl)
INDIAN – Slights and Abuse LP (Coke Bottle Clear Vinyl)
INDIAN – The Sycophant LP (Bloody Sun Vinyl)
Sweet Cobra – Bottom Feeder | Single Sided / Etched LP (Black Vinyl)
Wetnurse – Invisible City 2xLP (#7 Green / Black Splatter Vinyl)
Light Yourself On Fire – Intimacy LP (Yellow / Black Nuclear Style Vinyl)
Millions – Gather Scatter LP (Crystal Clear Vinyl)
Coffinworm – When All Became None LP (Bong Load Green Vinyl)
The Swan King – Eyes Like Knives LP (180G Vinyl)
BATILLUS – Furnace LP (180G Vinyl)
Atriarch – Forever The End LP ( Crypt White Marbled Vinyl)
Thergothon – Stream From The Heavens (Reissue) LP (180G Orange Vinyl)
Wizard Rifle – Speak Loud Say Nothing LP (Vinyl Bong Random Colored Vinyl)
Author & Punisher – Ursus Americanus LP (Grey And White Marbled Vinyl)
Stoneburner – Sickness Will Pass LP (Blood Marbled Vinyl)
Atriarch – Ritual Of Passing LP (Rozz Williams Red Vinyl)
Author & Punisher – Women & Children LP (White #1 with Black Splatter Vinyl)
Gnaw – Horrible Chamber LP (SILVER P19 with RED#3 Haze Vinyl)

Ts and Cs as follows: Only one entry per person and use a valid email address so they can actually send you the records, oh, and Seventh Rule will cover shipping charges.

In the meantime, you might want to get a little present to yourself and visit the Seventh Rule webstore; it is running a 33 per cent off offer. Just use coupon code “10YRFTW” at the checkout.

May the odds be forever in your favour.

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