Decibrity Playlist: Mutilation Rites

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, July 31st, 2014

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Mutilation Rites’ last record, Empyrean, landed on our top 40 records of 2012. To these ears, however, the group’s new LP tops that effort and so we’ve been playing it on a near daily basis since it dropped last week (Daniel Lake also streamed the whole thing here earlier this month). Since the Brooklynites just finished up an East Coast jaunt, we figured we’d check in with bassist Ryan Jones about what he and his bandmates spin in the van while on the road (we’re really going to start a book of these soon). Not surprisingly, his picks span the musical spectrum. Be sure to pick up a copy of Harbinger here.

Eyehategod’s “Anxiety Hangover” (from 1996′s Dopesick)
Because I usually have one. Eyehategod is a staple in our van and this is one that creeps into the mix often.

Dispirit’s “Ixtab’s Lure” (from 2010′s Rehearsal At Oboroten demo)
This is good for a post-show drive on a shitty rainy night when everyone else is passed out and it’s just you and the road. This song weaves you down a murky path to hell.

Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman” (from 1968′s Devil Got My Woman
Distorted guitars and pummeling drums can get tiring on tour. This is a different kind of heavy that no screaming can conjure.

Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass’s “Spanish Flea” (from 1965′s !!Going Places!!)
We listen to this song in the van to take a mental vacation. To a place where the water is clear, the linens are clean and the children are happy.

Abominable Putridity’s “Skin Removal” (from 2007′s In The End Of Human Existence)
Somebody better call the Slambulance!

Motörhead’s “Born To Raise Hell” (from 1993′s Bastards)
This is the anthem to get us in the mood for the after-party.

Tangorodrim’s “Horror” (from 2002′s Those Who Unleashed)
Israeli Hellhammer worship! Self-described “alcoholic black metal”, these guys would apparently get completely shitfaced and loosely write songs. It’s like they wrote music just for me. They changed drummers after this album and then released a more focused album, but I prefer the earlier material.

The Yellow River Boys’ “Hot Piss” (from 2013′s Urinal St. Station)
Good old fashioned American rock ‘n’ roll!

Blasphemophagher’s “Chaostorm Of Atomization” (from 2011′s The III Command of the Absolute Chaos)
Italian war metal freaks, this is the opening track on their most recent full-length. After a stereotypical metal album intro, complete with computer game Doom samples of demons and fireballs shooting, the song starts with riffs that go straight for the jugular. A band with significantly more clarity in production than most muddy and hissed Blasphemy worship bands, this album is one of my more recent favorites.

Vordr’s “Rhythm Of The Storms” (from 2004′s I)
Finnish ignorance. A slightly more audible Ildjarn, these guys are the kings of the monkey beat. Some people get turned off by the tortured vocals, but I love early Burzum and don’t find these vocals nearly as offensive as that or Silencer or any of that other goofy DSBM people get down with.

*Pick up a copy of Harbinger here.

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

STREAMING: Bastard Of The Skies and Grimpen Mire

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, listen On: Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

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For your streaming pleasure this Wednesday, the Deciblog presents a British sludge noise vs. doom knife fight courtesy of the Bastard of The Skies and Grimpen Mire joint LP from Future Noise Recordings.

Bastard Of The Skies, last heard from two years ago on their LP Tarnation, do their damage via monster riffs touched with attitude. Grimpen Mire has just three songs on their side of the split — so we’re streaming a third — and it’s all doom and darkness.

All seven songs were recorded at Bastard guitarist/vocalist Matt Richardson’s Full Stack Studio and mastered by James Plotkin (OLD, Khanate, Khlyst). Michael Cowell’ designed the artwork. You can order the limited release LP here. Enjoy.

Sucker For Punishment: I Got Hurt Feelings

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

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Extreme metal bands withholding lyrics is commonplace, something we writers have learned to constantly deal with, to the point now that even though we’re never given the complete album experience, it’s pretty much taken for granted that we have to give readers an even and thorough assessment of a record even though we have literally no idea what so many of these bands are screeching and hollering about. When bands withhold lyrics from the actual album that’s released, however, it always strikes me as particularly odd.

Extremity in metal includes lyrical topics, and in black metal the level of introspection and cathartic anguish in lyrics is commonplace, but at the same time, for a genre so bent on strength and bravado, ironically there’s a strong sense of insecurity when an artist refuses to print the lyrics to his or her songs. The fact that they’re screaming these words in a manner that’s impossible to comprehend what’s being said serves the same purpose as a security blanket: they’re emoting, baring their soul, but keeping audiences at an arm’s length. In a way that refusal to go all-in defeats the purpose of metal music. Metal is supposed to be an all-or-nothing genre, is it not?

Besides, what these metal bands are doing is nothing new at all; “dark night of the soul” songs and albums have been a huge part of popular music for eons. If Sinatra, Dylan, Nick Drake, Willie Nelson, Fleetwood Mac, Springsteen, Tori Amos, Beck, even Bon Iver have the guts to engage in such a public form of bloodletting, why don’t some extreme metal artists show similar courage? Yes, those songs mean a lot to you and represent truly painful moments in your life, but if those people went all-in, 100 percent, on a much more public stage, why can’t you do the same to the couple thousand that will buy your album? Instead, they scream away, emoting yet never fully communicating. Yes, part of the appeal of the music is to hear that anguish in those tortured screams, but to do so without providing lyrics feels like a cop-out, an easy way out to avoid confronting what people have to say about your art. Diffidence masked as “enigmatic”.

Anyway, those thoughts ran through my mind as I took in the latest album by Austin Lunn’s black metal project Panopticon, which, as you might have guessed, will not come with any lyrics. Which is perfectly fine, I’ve been dealing with that shtick for so long that it’s water off a duck’s back. And besides, Lunn is such a supreme talent that it’s easy to focus on the music of Panopticon, which is consistently a cut above all black metal coming out of America these days. 2012’s Kentucky was the most inventive American extreme metal album since Cobalt’s Gin three years earlier, a watershed moment that saw Lunn combining raw, melodic black metal with bluegrass and folk music and themes that delved into the cultural history of the region, and the way he made something so incongruous feel so seamless, so unabashedly soulful, was a marvel.

Although the follow-up Roads to the North (Bindrune) offers no new invention, simply following the same rustic path as Kentucky, it further refines that sound to the point where listeners are just thrilled to hear Lunn combine those two sides of his artistic persona so vividly. This time around, the sound is expanded in graceful fashion, most beautifully on the three-part suite “The Longest Road”, which serves as the album’s centerpiece. Over the course of nearly 20 minutes the music ebbs and flows gracefully between bluegrass, black metal, and even progressive metal, the harshness of acoustic folk and blasting extremity giving way to more contemplative, ambient moments reminiscent of Isis and Godspeed You! Black Emperor and more gothic, “blackened doom” moments reminiscent of Woods of Ypres. The composition, the musical aspect of it anyway, is a masterstroke by Lunn, produced beautifully by the great Colin Marston.

Bookended by tracks that also rank among Lunn’s very finest work, including the epics “Where Mountains Pierce the Sky” and “Chase the Grain”, Roads to the North might not feel as groundbreaking as the Harlan County USA-inspired Kentucky did, but it proves the last record was no novelty, but rather another sublime and powerful statement by a vital artist. However, if Lunn, who is an undeniably eloquent lyricist, ever makes these new lyrics available for all to see, this album will feel even more towering than it already does. There’s no shame in giving your listeners the complete, unfettered package. If Frank was still around he’d tell some extreme metalers to man the hell up.

Here’s what’s also out this week.

Abolition A.D., After Death Before Chaos (Pulverised): Hailing from Singapore, this band’s debut album is a very adept blend of sludge, doom, and crust punk, the variation in tempo making for some very effective variety. Black Breath one minute, St. Vitus the next, Asphyx the next. Robust and very disciplined, and not above tossing a little melody in here and there, this is well worth checking out. Preview and purchase via Bandcamp.

AOV, Act of Violence (Inverse): This Finnish band focuses on the more modern, “extreme” form of thrash, integrating elements of death metal into the arrangements, and nails it on this very surprising debut. As strong as the faster moments are on the album, the real strength lies in the more mid-paced material like “Surrounded By Concrete”, which is built around some very robust rhythm guitar riffs and fluid, Testament-style grooves. It’s a fresh, energetic take on a familiar formula, and deserves to be heard.

Device, Device (self-released): My weakness for bands that replicate that brief period of Canadian melodic heavy metal from 1982 to 1986 borders on obsession, but I can’t help it, when I hear bands that capture that quirky Banzai/Attic-era sound, my ears perk up. Vancouver band Device – not to be confused with David Draiman’s alt-metal side project – capture that sound well on this fun debut. Stylistically it runs the gamut from UFO worship (“Don’t Mess With Texas”) to NWOBHM co-option (“Lost My Soul”) to speed metal (“Enemy’s Blood”) to more progressive doom material (“The Devil and the Shoemaker”), but the trio does a good job keeping it all from flying off the handle, with bassist Marc LeBlanc providing great melodic vocals punctuated by some truly hair-raising screams. Fans of classic heavy metal will get a big charge out of this. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Fungonewrong, Fungonewrong (Legend Group): Give this knuckle-dragging nu-metal band credit, it actually sounds like all they’ve ever heard are Limp Bizkit and Slipknot albums, and if anything their music faithfully adheres to that sound. An hey, they even have a silly ‘90s metal gimmick too, although wearing paper bags on your head is clearly scraping the bottom of that barrel.

Invidiosus, Malignant Universe (Tridroid): This death/grind hybrid is plenty intense and intricate, but it’s a testament to this Minnesota band’s smarts that the songs are always mindful of the fact that you’ve got to have a hook, and there are some sneaky ones on this debut. This is a record fans of The Black Dahlia Murder and that ilk should check out. Besides, any album that includes a sample from Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist is fine by me.

Sacrificio, Sacrificio (Iron Bonehead): The Spanish band’s debut album bored me to tears, that is until the aptly titled song “Sacrificio” came on, an absolutely wicked blast of Venom/Sarcofago filth, featuring a nasty groove that grabs you immediately and keeps you riveted. Sadly the rest of the album immediately reverts to sloppy, chaotic death metal, devoid of personality and competence. But at least we had those nice few minutes, I guess, metal band and critic passing each other like two ships in the night.

Taatsi, Amidst the Trees (Forever Plagued): Repetitive, hypnotic atmospheric black metal from Finland, keyboards and guitar duking it out atop drum machine, plenty of forest and fog evocation, mournful melodies, the odd acoustic interlude, silly troll-sounding vocals. Neither bracing nor haunting. Just there, the ennui fading only on the superb last track “Hunts in the Night’s Mind”, a fleeting glimpse of what might’ve been.

Unbreakable, Knockout (Dark Star): These preening, camera-mugging German kids come across as goofy in their video, but the music is a very surprising, not to mention deft co-option of that early-‘80s Scorpions AOR sound, with simple, polite guitar riffs accentuated by exceptionally strong vocal melodies. Unlike The Darkness, who did it all with a wink, Unbreakable is straight-faced on mild, pleasant rockers like “Rock the Nightlife” and power ballads like “Come Back to Me”, producer Herman Rarebell (that’s right, the old Scorps drummer) doing a very good job keeping this album sonically and musically consistent. The novelty of “Crazy Cat Lady” aside, this is quite a pleasant surprise.

Not metal, but worth hearing:

The Muffs, Whoop Dee Doo (Cherry Red/Burger): For those too young to remember, The Muffs were one of those early-‘90s major label powerpop/punk curiosities from back in the Alternative Nation day, led by the irrepressible singer-songwriter Kim Shattuck. Responsible for such whimsical little tunes as “Lucky Guy”, “Everywhere I Go”, and “Sad Tomorrow”, The Muffs never set the music world on fire, but they could always be counted on for a good album loaded with witty pop tunes. The band had been dormant, new music-wise, for the past decade, with Shattuck briefly returning to the public eye last year during her ill-fated stint with the Pixies, but The Muffs’ spirited sixth album is a wonderful return to the form of 20 years ago, “Like You Don’t See Me”, “Take a Take a Me”, and “Cheezy” leading the way with their Beatles-esque rock ‘n’ roll, Shattuck’s inebriated-sounding snarl lending the music that distinct charm so many of us know so well, not realizing how much we missed it.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy

VIDEO PREMIERE: Eluveitie’s “Call of the Mountain”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, videos On: Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

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Folk metal, fuck yeah. You know what I like about the video for Eluveitie’s “Call of the Mountain?” Lots of nature. You don’t need crappy CG for your video when you have the beautiful wintry landscapes of Switzerland. I guess there is also a dude with a harp and some woman standing on top of a mountain (although if she’s the one that’s calling, does that make her the mountain?). But man, in the middle of this sweltering summer, that mountain’s call seems pretty irresistible to me. Cool down and get your pagan on with our premiere of the video below.

***Origins comes out August 1 on Nuclear Blast. You can stream the whole thing for free right now here and preorder it here. In the meantime, check out their website and follow them on Facebook.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Device (CA)’s “Miracle Metal”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, free, listen On: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

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No, not THAT Device. This Device is from Canada, which instantly makes them 1000% cooler. Featuring noted metal scribe Kyle Harcott putting his money where his mouth is (or drumstick holding/typing hands) and a sweet space station album cover from up-and-coming designer Brandon Duncan, Device go decidedly old-school. Not just the usual touchstones like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, though; they put their knowledge of deep metal cuts to use, at times reminding listener of Manilla Road or Cirith Ungol. Their album came out last Saturday, and the whole thing is streaming on Bandcamp. As a special treat to Decibel readers, though, they’ve decided to offer their track “Miracle Metal” as a free download. Grab it below, and when you like what you hear, go buy the whole thing and support a band called Device that ISN’T terrible.

***Device is out now; download it or order the CD here.

The Phantom of the Paradise is Back!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

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Never thought I’d get to meet the devil
Never thought I’d meet him face to face
Heard he always worked alone, that he seldom wrote or used a phone
So I walked right up to meet him at his place

Two years before unleashing Carrie on the world in 1976, Brian DePalma concocted the profoundly weird, unabashedly flamboyant horror-flick-meets-rock-opera romp Phantom of the Paradise — a brilliant film as gleefully deranged as it is slyly subversive and featuring myriad aesthetic wonders and narrative oddities…including — though hardly limited to! — a performance that provides the bridge between KISS and Dead-esque corpsepaint as well as a live “ritual” that out-Watains Watain…

Phantom tells the story of Winslow Leach, a young starry-eyed composer struggling to garner some attention for his cantata inspired by the life of Faust. (You see where this is heading…) Alas, Leach falls victim to flattery and does the one thing worse than selling his soul to the Devil — he signs an extremely lopsided recording contract with Swan, minion of Hell, CEO of Death Records, and proprietor of the soon-to-be-opened Paradise rock club.

Still, at first all Leach’s dreams appear to be coming true — his work is being produced, and he meets a sweet and alluring singer boasting a magnificent set of pipes who seems at least as interested in him as his work. But soon Leach finds himself on the outside looking in as Swan’s machine works to pervert his artistic vision and steal his lady. And when he tries to regain some semblance of control, Swan has him framed for smack and sent to Sing Sing where his teeth are replaced with metal in a pilot program designed to prevent gingivitis (!) Driven mad by a boy-ish band version of his song on the prison radio, Leach escapes prison and breaks into Death Records HQ. Unfortunately, a not-too-smooth attempt at sabotage gets poor Leach’s head cranked in a record press and, left for dead, the broken and disfigured man sneaks off to the Paradise where he plots his revenge as the Phantom.

The trailblazers over at Scream Factory were kind enough to send Decibel a copy of the upcoming Phantom of the Paradise deluxe reissue — out next week — and, lord, is it a thing of beauty! The high-def transfer of the film is gorgeous; the extensive interviews with DePalma, composer/star Paul Williams, and actress Jessica Harper (Suspiria), among many others, are entertaining and edifying; and the doc on the making of the film — “Paradise Regained” — is something else.

This classic is about to expand its cult, as well it should.

After the jump, a clip from the film via Scream Factory and the official trailer…

Bad Mojo: Death Curse Premiere!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen On: Monday, July 28th, 2014

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So…here’s one of those times when you actually can go ahead and judge an album by its cover: Friday the 13th obsessives Death Curse play nasty, fuzzy, stripped down death n’ roll and the band isn’t really isn’t inclined to do fuck-all to pretty it up for anyone outside the horror metal cult.

We’ve got an exclusive track from the upcoming debut on Razorback Records later this year.

Get grimy or get scared — the choice is yours!

In other Razorback news, the second issue of the label’s horror culture mag Evilspeak is out now. Our review of the first issue lives here.

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Ihsahn (Emperor) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, July 28th, 2014

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** Hall of Famers Emperor are celebrating the 20th anniversary of black metal classic, In the Nightside Eclipse. As part of our journalistic duties, we couldn’t pass up a chance to talk to icon/good guy Ihsahn about two decades of black fucking metal and why this time Emperor are taking the stage with them to the grave.

What prompted you to re-start Emperor this time? Sure, In the Nightside Eclipse is celebrating two decades. And you’ve got Faust and Trym back as well.
Ihsahn: When we started doing this again—rehearsing—it was about the time I released by previous [solo] album. Not sure if you heard that, but it’s kind of experimental, but it comes from a very primal place inside. It’s very connected to the old-school black metal atmosphere. Even though musically they’re different, they come from a similar place. Having done that album it was pretty easy to get into the old songs again. With the lineup it’s the same as last time, except we had Faust on drums, which is working out really well. That was criteria to do this. I didn’t want repeat what we had done in 2006-2007. Just run through the whole album, preferably with Faust on drums, if you know what I mean. Trym has a different style from Faust. He [Trym] has a tendency to speed everything up. [Laughs] It’s nice to play the songs as they are on the album again. There’s a lot small details that Faust does that Trym didn’t do.

You didn’t tour much in the early ’90s. You had one tour—the UK tour with Cradle of Filth, if I’m not mistaken.
Ihsahn: Our UK tour was pretty much it apart from a few shows in Norway. That was pretty much it. Back in those days touring wasn’t really done in Norwegian black metal. There wasn’t a sketch. There was no second album, do a European tour, do the third album, do a European and US tour. None of that. It wasn’t organized like that back then.

Well, it wasn’t a cool thing to do for black metal back then either. Touring was a “life metal” job, even though Immortal and Marduk toured.
Ihsahn: It didn’t have the same priority. To me personally, it’s always been that way. I’ve only done a few shows considering I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. [Laughs]

Why is that, looking back on your time in Emperor?
Ihsahn: Well, I was a bit put off by the first European and US tours we did. I enjoyed playing the shows, but everything else around it… life on the road isn’t cut out for me. The tours were badly organized. There were drunken people everywhere. All the technical issues. It wears you out. Over the years, I picked up touring with my solo stuff. It’s not that I don’t like playing live though. I just prefer doing creative work in the studio. So, these last few years where I’ve been with Leprous as my backing band have been great. We only do like 8-10 shows per year. That’s best of both worlds for me.

Does nostalgia play into your recent live performances?
Ihsahn: No, not really. [Laughs] Nostalgia is something you have to be very aware of. When you’re playing a show—and I think most artist relate to this—you can’t really think about much. You’re just in your environment playing. When you start to think about too much that’s when you start to screw up. You have to be in the moment. At that point, it doesn’t really matter what the songs are.

In the Nightside Eclipse has a very special place in many hearts. Hearing these songs live again is important to people.
Ihsahn: I can relate to albums I grew up listening to that did something special for me. Like with Iron Maiden. It’s only then you can really connect. That’s when nostalgia hits. I mean if you listen to an album in your teens and suddenly you hear the album again years later, you can remember the smells, the thoughts, the places you hadn’t thought about in, say, 15 years. As people, we connect very strongly to music. I think we store music memories in a different way. Music, as an art form, is an abstract thing. It’s up to the listener to fill in the blanks to make it meaningful. Going back to not being too conscious while playing the songs, the audience is the opposite. They’re coming to see us because they have a strong connection to the music. This is a kind of music you can’t pull off just technically. It’s not that technical. It has to have an edge to it. An atmosphere to it. People aren’t easily fooled if you aren’t coming from an honest place with this type of music.

Keyboards weren’t exclusive to Emperor. But, I think, Emperor used the instrument more effectively than others. Why did you use keyboards as a scaping device?
Ihsahn: That was a result of our previous bands. Me and Samoth had our own bands prior to Emperor. In those bands, we had keyboards. I started out on keyboard when I was 6 or 7. I didn’t start playing electric guitar until I was 10 or 11. Emperor started out as a back-to-basics extreme black metal band with no keyboards. More of a punk attitude. As soon as that became a priority for our projects we started to add in the elements from our previous bands. I have to admit, as much as we listened to black metal, we listened to a lot of soundtracks. Horror movie soundtracks. Inspiration came from these big, grandiose, larger-than-life sounds. The orchestral parts added impact to our music. A lot of extreme metal is one-dimensional. There are no dynamics. I won’t say it’s boring, but it’s just full-on aggression. Black metal, as opposed to death metal, has more emotional depth. The vocal style and the music can be expressed without being too technical. It’s almost romantically melancholic. There’s a wider span in a way. I always missed that in extreme music. So, that’s why I wanted to put in layers of keyboards. Whatever to create swells in our music.

How old were you when you recorded In the Nightside Eclipse?
Ihsahn: By the time we got to record it I was 17.

Late teens. Most guys that age are out chasing girls, drinking beer, trying to find their place in this world. You were creating a black metal landmark.
Ihsahn: [Laughs] Well, we did that too. We were pretty normal in that sense. I do remember when we recorded the album, some of the other guys got to go to the pub. They were a bit older. People ask me that all the time. I remember that so well. The guys got to go to this rock pub in Bergen, where we recorded the album. I was kicked out the first night ’cause I wasn’t 18. So, I stayed in the studio with Pytten [aka Eirik Hundvin], doing vocals, keyboard layers, lead guitars while the other guys went to the pub. That spurred me on to the whole studio passion thing. [Laughs] But, remember, we were deep into this. It was a very strong subculture with very few people involved.

I always wondered why everyone went to Pytten early on.
Ihsahn: It was just that he did the Burzum stuff. The Immortal records. He did the Mayhem record. It was one of those studios that had good references. It was like the Florida studio that had all the death metal bands. Morrisound. Pytten isn’t a metalhead though. At all. [Laughs] He did country records. A lot of people remember him as a host of a youth program in Norway in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s. A lot of the black metal bands were teenagers, with hard empathies and sympathies, extreme philosophies, ways we looked at the world. He had absolutely no problem with that. He treated us a young people. With respect. He took us 100 percent seriously. But he understood we were young. He understood what we wanted to achieve. He understood that we wanted this sound, drenched in reverb with explosions going on. He was very open-minded. He still is. People his age are normally put off by what we stood for and would be much more moralistic about the bands and the guys in the bands. At the time, because we had such extreme views, we were confronted as adults. He managed to see through all that. He was a friend and a collaborator.

You were, as your solo debut correctly called, adversaries. Enemies of the state, so to speak.
Ihsahn: [Laughs] You’re right. The more we were confronted and the more opposition we faced, we had two choices: fall over or use it as more fuel. It was fuel for the fire for us. Peoples’ strong reaction to us meant we had impact. It underlined the differences between us and them.

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Do you ever look back at the promo photos you took in the early ‘90s and laugh? Taken out of context they look a bit strange.
Ihsahn: Having done this for such a long time, the pictures go along with the album covers. You get used to them. It’s not like they pop up after 20 years and you’ve forgotten them. They are part of us. I still remember our mindset. At the time, we felt perfectly comfortable wearing make-up and dressing up for the photo sessions. Obviously, the mystique we were able to create back then you can’t do today. The Internet is everywhere. Sure, people then thought it was ridiculous too. Most of the magazines—at the time of Eclipse and Anthems—thought we were absolute idiots. The music was crap. Now, I see Eclipse next to Black Sabbath as “important albums” in the same magazines. It’s interesting and absurd to see how public opinion changes.

Time changes everything.
Ihsahn: It’s like that with all subgenres and subcultures. Eventually, they’re accepted.

Tattoos are good example. For years, tattoos meant you were an ex-convict, in the Navy, a biker, a drug addict, or someone who had a really terrible life history. Now, tattoos are everywhere.
Ihsahn: I see that in the small town I live in. I feel like my wife and I are the special ones now. We don’t have tattoos. [Laughs] I’m rather happy I don’t have the tattoos I wanted when I was 17.

Right. Like a huge Baphomet on your chest. Or a pentagram on your back.
Ihsahn: More or less. You’re spot on. [Laughs]

Why didn’t you get tattoos? I don’t have them either, which is probably tied to my strong sense of regret.
Ihsahn: Well, my parents basically told me I could get my driver’s license—the money for it—if I didn’t get tattooed back then. And there you have it. If I wanted to drive I couldn’t have tattoos. [Laughs]

OK, any chance of doing a US tour?
Ihsahn: With this lineup we didn’t bother getting work visas. The last reunion was without Samoth. Now, with Faust, it would be very far-fetched. You probably know why it wouldn’t work. [Laughs] It would be stressful to everyone. There’d be a lot of disappointment, I think. It would be great though. When we announced the shows last year, our manager had to turn down 60 offers. He’s now turned down over 100 offers. We got an offer to tour with Slayer and Marilyn Manson in 2007. Our record company wanted us to do it. So, it’s been no secret I’ve been reluctant to do the reunion again. I’m 38 now. I don’t want to message to be, “I give up. I can’t do anything new. So, I’ll just play the old classics.” I don’t want to be that guy. I mean, in 2006 we set out to do one show. We ended up doing much more than that. We want to keep this run short but sweet. Special. It’s been 20 years since Eclipse. Let’s celebrate that and move forward.

I think it’s pretty incredible Emperor gave you a career. That Emperor remains close to people is remarkable.
Ihsahn: It’s a huge privilege. Me and Samoth talk about this all the time. When me and Samoth started Emperor in ’91 and even when we recorded Eclipse, we had absolutely no commercial thoughts. At all. Making a living out of this wasn’t in our thoughts. Twenty years later, we played to 50,000 people at Hellfest. After, we grabbed a few beers and watched Black Sabbath. That’s not a bad day on the job is it? [Laughs] It’s pretty weird seeing the Emperor logo next to Black Sabbath and Aerosmith. Huge bands. We feel privileged, really. At the same time, we’re down to earth. We take it for what it is and to enjoy the moment. We want to respect our audience. They’ve made all this possible by keeping us in mind. When we quit in 2001 we were uncompromising. In all my career I’ve never compromised. I’ve been able to say “no” to anything I want. That makes me feel much better about what I’ve done and what I do today.

** Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse is out now as a remastered digibook and 2xLP. It’s available HERE. Chances are you already have it, but if you don’t, well, you’re missing out on a black metal great.

STREAMING: Saturn “So, You Have Chosen Death”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Friday, July 25th, 2014

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Retro is cool. Retro is where the girls are at. Retro is where the dollars are at. If you’re retro, you’ve got it made. Unless you’re in the business of retro heavy metal. Then, you just get the girls. Just ask Swedes Saturn. With just a few strums of their throwback axes and bygone haircuts, they hook in the ladies. Actually, we have no idea about their womanizing abilities. But we do know the Swedes take heavy metal back to when it was pure and good. No frills or GI Joe jumpsuits or Superhero Monster cover art. Saturn let the music and cool persona do all the talking.

“We’re trying to not copy anything but of course we’re influenced by the music that we love,” says guitarist Robin Tidebrink. “It’s as simple as trying to create music that we would like to listen to ourselves. We are keeping it true and simple. Don’t make things harder just for the sake of it! If a track that we’re satisfied with just clocks in at 2 minutes, we keep it that way. We don’t have any rules or any templates to adhere to. We recorded everything except vocals live at the same time, so what you hear is what you get on a live show. If people love guitar and bass-driven heavy metal from the 70s and mix it with blues and thrash, they are going to love what we do. Be prepared for heavy metal, blues rock and many great guitar riffs along with unique vocals!”

And, folks, that’s exactly what you have with “So, You Have Chosen Death”. It’s Friday, too. So, pop open a cold one, crank up the volume and ride off into the weekend sunset with Saturn. That’s what we’re doing.

** Saturn’s new album, Ascending (Live in Space), is out August 5th on Rise Above Records. Pre-orders are available HERE if you need a good ole dose of traditional Swedish heavy metal.

Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack (NOISE Edition II): Christopher S. Feltner

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, July 25th, 2014

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It’s been a good month for celebrating the noisier side of the extremely extreme.  All good things must end… though it’s hard to believe that we won’t be revisiting gritty, shadowy, unfettered sound in the future, if only here on the Deciblog.

To round out the month of noise, we spoke to Virginia-based Christopher S. Feltner about his own journey through recordings and performance.  While he is most certainly an engaged musician, we have mostly encountered his live physical performance work, which uses ugly sound as merely a bed for off-putting stage action while wearing an uncomfortable (for the audience) clash of garments.  We have witnessed Feltner, head and face gauzily covered, stalk a room with a knife whose sharpness is demonstrated by shoving it into a wooden table; the knife is then used to slash a mouth-sized wound into the facial shroud, then forced between Feltner’s lips.  The audience sat utterly transfixed, stunned as red liquid streamed from Feltner’s face, wondering whether it was all part of the act or if he was shedding real blood in front of them.

While the anguish Feltner channels is real, he also makes easy conversation and is straightforward about his artistic interests.  Below is a sample of his recorded output, as well as a brief interview and a video sample of a Philadelphia performance.

It’s almost August, but that’s okay – keep it noisy if you want to!

Can you describe how your musical interests (d)evolved toward working with noise?

Aggressive music has always been appealing to me. From age 14, I have played in punk, metal, and hardcore bands. I saw a music review for Wolf Eyes’ Burned Mind in a magazine. The review didn’t really interest me as much as the photos that were included: members head banging and going nuts with instrumentation that I couldn’t imagine being heavy. I picked up the album, and fell down the rabbit hole.

Did your interest in music/noise lead you to performance art, or did that develop separately?

My interest in performance art started about two years ago. I saw Gerritt Wittmer and Paul Knowles perform in Baltimore, and it opened another door that I didn’t know was there. Their performance mixed a subtle, but strong, physical presence with a noise composition. Before that, I had always thought of noise and performance art as separate entities. Since then, I have come across other artists that mix noise/sound and performance art, masterfully, like Olivier de Sagazan, and Yann Marrusich.

What do you see as the connection between the sound involved in your performances and the physical aspects? Does either one feel more important or require more of your attention than the other?

The connection between the sound, and the physicality, is 100% intentional. Sometimes I want the sound to be the dominant presence; sometimes, the opposite. It all depends on the concept of what I’m performing, the performance space, and how much control I have over the lighting in the room.

I don’t consider one to be more important from a creative aspect. But, in my opinion, if you’re going to be performing live, then there should be a solid physical presence. Nothing turns me off more than people staring at a laptop, or standing still, turning knobs the whole time.

What is your performance experience like? How widely have you performed (geographically) and at what kinds of shows?

This is my sixth year performing solo work. I have performed in 18 or 19 states, at this point, and multiple times. I have performed in a lot of different types of spaces: bars, clubs, houses, galleries, DIY performance spaces, schools, residential treatment center, museum… I have opened for Melt-Banana in a popular DC club, and I have played for 10 people in a kitchen in North Carolina.

What are your current sources of inspiration for your noise/performance work?

Films are a constant source of inspiration for me. David Lynch’s films, in particular. Unusual paintings and photography also charge me. My faith in Christ. The human condition. It all plays a part. I have noticed that the longer I do this, the less inspired I am by specific artists.

Can you talk about the first noise or performance piece you completed that you felt really proud of?

The first noise piece I had completed that I felt really proud of was the first Kingdom of Sharks album, “ALPHA/OMEGA.” The release was my audible interpretation of what creation would sound like in the book of Genesis, and then of Revelation. It was my first attempt at a full release, and, even now, it still holds up.

The first performance piece that I was proud of was one I made based on my dog. He started having severe seizures, and it was really sad to see how helpless and confused the episodes made him, and how much of a toll they took on his health. The performance is on YouTube. I did the performance in Philadelphia at Common Circuit Fest.

You’ve said that people tend not to talk to you after performances. Can you talk about some counterexamples – people who have been really enthusiastic with you after experiencing your work?

If people are used to unusual performances, they tend to be the ones who will talk more. The problem is, they want to talk immediately following the performance which is the worst time for me. It takes some time to get back to normal after. I try to be friendly, and answer questions, but I’m not quite there yet. The more intense the performance is, the more time I need after to myself.

I had a guy who was working on a documentary of performances at this space outside of DC wanting to ask me all of these questions right after a rough performance. Then, he wanted me to fill out and sign this permission form. It was really bad timing.

In Hildebran, NC, as soon as I stopped the performance, two people immediately wanted to know what my influences were. That was very strange, and unexpected to me.

Have you worked with more or less the same set of props/clothing in your various performances, or have you accumulated/changed these over time?

Before mixing more performance-based elements into what I do, I dressed as I normally would. Once I started performing under my own name vs. the Kingdom of Sharks moniker, I began dressing in white button-up shirt, black tie, pants, socks, and dress shoes. Then, for some performances, I began using the white head covering in addition to the outfit. Now, at times, I’ll alternate a black head covering, and dark green button-up shirt.

The clothing, and the variance in the use of the head covering, is all intentional, and depends on what I’m performing.

Do you have any go-to instruments or materials you like to use when recording, or is it different all the time?

Honestly, it all depends on the concept, or approach, for the album. I use my voice in most of my recordings. Sometimes it sounds like I’m using other things when it’s just vocal-based. Didgerdoo is something I have used multiple times. Those are really the only two things I have used the most. I was just talking to my brother-in-sound, Guillermo Pizarro, about new recording ideas. I have 10 different concepts/approaches ready to go when I’m ready.

How and why did SEVEN1878 get started?  What goals do you have for the imprint?

SEVEN1878 was just a name I put on a former project of mine, Spoken War. I wanted to do a small label of some sort but I didn’t have the time, or much focus at the time. Then, it became a blog promoting interesting art. Fast forward seven years later, it is a modest label imprint that has put out releases by myself, and several others; it a music blog with reviews and interviews with experimental-based artists; and, it is a show organizing entity.

My goals as an imprint is to present experimental expression to as many people as are willing to give it a chance. Much like I fell into the rabbit hole of this world of sound, I’m hoping to do the same for others.

Check out more noise insanity by Feltner and his conspirators at the SEVEN1878 webpage, Feltner’s direct page, and at his music blog.

Also, don’t miss a similarly riveting interview conducted by TMaFLH alumnus Guillermo Pizarro.