Raw Power is Coming to America Again! Why So Glum Chum?

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews, tours On: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

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In addition to holding the illustrious (or dubious) honour of being one of my personal favourite bands of all time, Italy’s Raw Power is undoubtedly one of the most enduring and consistent hardcore punk bands to emerge from the world of hardcore punk. They formed in 1981 (with roots going back to the late 70s), have eleven awesome full-lengths comprising their extensive discography (yes, even Too Tough to Burn has its latent charm), have weathered unexpected popularity, sinking obscurity, personal tragedy and gone through more ex-members than dudes sitting on the roof of the 3:45 from Mumbai to New Delhi. Their latest album is called Tired and Furious and in issue #115 (which you can order here), you can read an engaging story penned by Adem Tepedelen investigating the perpetual issue the band has had in being too metal for the punks and too punk for the metal heads. The band has also been mentioned at various points on the blog as well: here, here and here.

It seems that slotting into neat categories hasn’t been the only problem that’s plagued the Reggio Emilia ragers. I’ve always maintained that Raw Power got the short end of the stick when it came to the business side of things and the following interview with vocalist Mauro Codeluppi, which was supposed to be a little chat promoting their upcoming east coast tour, only confirms the ongoing and frustrating reality that the band has dealt with since the mid-80s when the Screams from the Gutter and After Your Brain albums and the Wop Hour EP were selling five figures apiece. Read on and discover what’s really behind Tired and Furious’ jams like “Things are Bad,” “Stabbed in the Back,” “Enough is Enough” and, of course, the title track.

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OK, I’ve got a story for you. I’ve been a huge fan of the band since I was a kid, but had never seen you live. Last year, when you guys toured the American mid-west and were playing Detroit, I happened to be on tour myself. I was a few hours away, so I took a day off from the tour I was on to fly to Detroit where I made the questionable move of wandering around the city all day until the show, all so I could finally see you guys live.
[Seeming either totally nonplussed or scared shitless by my borderline stalking behaviour] Hmm, OK. Hopefully we weren’t that bad.

Nah, man. It was great and something to scratch off the bucket list. Throughout the 90s you toured the US pretty regularly, then there was a gap and now you’re back for a second time in two years…
Well, actually since my brother [original guitarist, Giuseppe Codeluppi] died in 2002, we’ve been back almost every year since 2004.

Oh, OK…Really? But most of those have been just a couple weeks, correct? Have you been looking to do longer tours?
Yeah, yeah, most of them have been two weeks, definitely less than 20 days. Probably the last seven or eight years, most of the tours we’ve done have been on the west coast, up and down between Seattle and San Diego. Sometimes we’ll get out to Reno, but it’s mostly up and down like this. Last year, we did the mid-west just because we were going into the studio in Wisconsin to record Tired and Furious and that was the first time we had done that in many years. This year, we’re pretty much only doing the east coast for a change. But between 2004 up until now we’ve probably been back every year, not that anybody knows, but we have been.

That was going to be my next question. I didn’t know you’d visited the states so regularly and I consider myself a big fan.
It’s mainly because between the bands that tour with us, the organisers of the shows and us, we’re all coming from the small-time world of organisation or whatever. We’ve done shows with the Pyrate Punx [a coalition of punks from different cities that have set-up a network to put on shows, events and tours]; they’ve done two or three tours for us and they’re spreading all over the states and are even in Europe where they have a base in a few cities in Germany and England. They’re going to be involved in a couple of the shows this year. They’ve been very good for us, but unless you’re one of their circle, it’s difficult to go into or find out about one of their places. So, it’s difficult for, say, “normal” people to know about those shows and they tend to have the same group of people going to their shows. Then, the other people who organise shows and tours are very small agencies and seem to have the sort of mentality where they have a year to organise something, but don’t actually start doing anything until two weeks before you get there, so most of the shows aren’t advertised and no one knows until it’s too late.

You’re doing this year’s tour with Wartorn again, right?
Yeah, this one should be good. Last year we toured with them and it went very well. [Wartorn vocalist] Eric is really good and there’s no messing around with him, so this year should be very good. On paper, it’s looking like it will be one of the best things we’ll have ever done in years.

Last year, part of the time you were over here was spent recording the new record. Are you doing something similar again?
No, this year the first show is on August the 2nd and the last is on the 16th and there are shows every day. This is just going to be a normal tour.

There’s a song on Mine to Kill – I can’t remember the title – where you sing about touring hazards like shitty cops, crappy clubs, shady promoters and so on. Are you still dealing with all the same stuff from that song these days?
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know which song you mean, I can’t remember the title either [laughs]. Nothing’s really changed and things are more or less the same. It’s a bit better for us because years ago, until we met up with Wartorn, either we shared a van with another band or started renting vans and doing our own thing, stopping when we wanted to stop, drive when we wanted to drive. Last year was one of the first times we had somebody drive for us and everything was organised properly.

If the situation is still the same after so many years…
…Why do we do it? [laughs]

Well yeah, but also, how frustrated do you get in doing it? Maybe it’s because you’re only doing it a couple weeks a year and you’re not doing it enough that it’s going to piss you off too much? But if that sort of thing was going on eight months a year…
Ah, no. I wouldn’t do it then. A band like Wartorn does it all year; they tour all year around. Two weeks in a van is all right. Three weeks is stretching it. I couldn’t live like that. It’s not too frustrating because we already know that this is how it is going to be and nobody makes us do it. It’s not a job and it’s not like if we don’t do this, we’re not going to eat or whatever. To me, it’s a couple of weeks off work and instead of going away on holiday with the family, I go away and do what I want. We’ve gone past the time where we thought something big could ever happen with this band and the whole idea that maybe we’ll hit it this year. If it was going to happen, it would have happened 20 years ago, it’s not going to happen now. So now, it’s just time off and having fun for a couple of weeks.

Touring the states and Canada is notoriously difficult compared to a lot of Europe. Is touring and playing shows in Europe any different for you guys?
No, more or less it’s the same thing. The problem with Raw Power is that a lot of people will call us when they need a band with a “name” who will play for pretty cheap. Because we’ve been around for a long time, when someone does a festival with all these old timers they think about us because they can get us for a little money. That happens a lot in Europe and Italy and I guess that happens in the states as well. We keep going back to the states though, because I love it there. I like it more than Europe and Italy. Although, if you look at the money situation, it’d make more sense to stay in Italy because we don’t have to fly anywhere; we can drive four or five, eight hours at the most and make more money than going to the states or Europe. It’s the opposite here; there are hundreds of American bands that come to Europe because they get paid lots of money and they get treated a lot better. If you put it all together, the labels we’ve worked with have never invested any money because they didn’t have any money, and we couldn’t tour extensively because we didn’t have the money. It’s a combination of lots of things and we’ve never had the chance to put them all together properly. We’re just lucky people keep calling us back anyway.

Despite everything you’ve just told me, have you noticed an increase in interest in the band with 1) the internet and 2) people looking back and discovering the old-school and original bands?
Yes. With Facebook and the internet in general, we’ve been quite lucky. The 90s was probably the worst time for this kind of music. With the coming of the internet and in the last few years, bands like us have picked up and have almost been reborn. We still have all the old people – people who are like my age – who knew us already anyway, and they’re bringing their kids and their kids will bring their friends. Some other people find us on Facebook, see our videos on YouTube and get to know us that way. Technology has definitely been in our favour. We would have probably carried on playing shows here in Italy and the odd show here and there in Europe because they know us, but other opportunities have come up through the internet and changed things quite a lot. But that’s been in general; I’ve seen a lot of bands going down, down, down in popularity, then all of a sudden they’re back and selling out big shows. It if wasn’t for people being made aware they were still around, no one would know about it.

I know Fuck Off and Die Records has reissued the early demos and You are the Victim. I’ve heard a rumour they might be reissuing all of your albums. Is that the case?
All of them? I don’t know. They’ve done the early stuff and they started working on Screams from the Gutter, again and then they’ll be doing After Your Brain, which they just re-mastered and it sounds good. Very good! The original sounds like shit compared to it. There’s stuff on the new version that you couldn’t even hear on the original; it’s like they’ve brought back parts of the songs that have never been heard. For the other ones, I don’t know what they’re going to do, but they’re not going to work on the more recent stuff.

That’s funny they’re doing Screams from the Gutter and After Your Brain because it’s always been super-easy to find those two albums. On the flipside, I’ve never even seen Fight or Resuscitate anywhere.
It’s the same thing in Europe. There are people who are still stuck to the first two albums and don’t realise that’s not all we’ve done. They still think we have two or three albums, not 14 or 15 or whatever we have. Maybe we have too many and that’s the problem? [laughs]

One of the things I’ve always found most frustrating about being a Raw Power fan is watching all this awesome music and potential languish because you’ve never had a decent team working behind the scenes for you. Do you ever think about what might have been?
At the beginning, or maybe from about 1984-86, probably the main people to blame for not having done much were ourselves. If there’s someone to blame personally, it’s probably me out of everyone. In the first couple of years, we had a chance to move towards bigger things and for one reason or another, we didn’t. We had a label in New York asking us to sign up with them for a couple of years and we didn’t. That was because in 1984-85, I was doing everything for the band. Because I was the only one who could speak English, I was the tour manager, the driver, the translator and singing as well. But because we were there to have a good time anyway, everyone was always going off to party here, there and all over the place [laughs], and I was always the one to stay back and look after the interests of the band while everyone else pissed around. After a bit, if you’re not the official tour manager, you just get fed up being the band babysitter. So, a couple times we had meetings set up with a label in New York and no one wanted to go, so I didn’t go either and that was it, they signed someone else. That happened twice; you’re really lucky if it happens once and if it happens twice in the same place two years running, you can’t blame anyone else. I know that part of the problem was also that we were living quite well in Italy. It wasn’t like “we have no money, our life is shit, this is our big chance and we have to do this.” Our lives here were quite good and it wasn’t a live or die situation. Why should we stay in America for so long and eat burgers all day when, instead, I can be at home with my mom cooking pasta for me [laughs]. In the end, we put all these things together, we didn’t go to those meetings and here we still are now. After that, it was like, ‘oh well, let’s carry on and just have fun.’ Unless a miracle happens, this is how it is.

So Raw Power is the ultimate lifelong hobby?
Oh yeah, definitely. It was always like that anyway. In the beginning, it was a hobby; we were all young and if anything happened we’d figure out what to do at the time. In the last ten or so years, it’s had to be. When you look at how much we make, we have to look at it like a hobby-plus-holiday. If we’re lucky, we get to go to new places we haven’t been and it’s still cheaper than paying to go somewhere on purpose. Ultimately, we’re actually saving money.

Have you been to all the places you’re playing on this tour?
We have been to all of the cities, but some we haven’t been to in a long time and I don’t think we’ve been to any of the actual clubs. In 30 years we’ve done all the main cities, but there are places I can’t wait to get back to. For the first time in many years, we’re going to Austin and I can’t wait because it’s very lovely there. New York is another place we haven’t been in a long time. In the past, we’ve done well in these cities, but I don’t know what’s going to happen now.

Well, that’s about it. Thanks for taking the time to do this and good luck with the tour.
Well, thank you for calling. One day, I hope we play somewhere nearer to you so you don’t have to fly to see us again. We need more people like you.

Well, maybe, but I don’t know if the world does.
[Laughter]

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Raw Power homepage

Tombs’ Mike Hill: Hot Coffee Machine

By: mr ed Posted in: exclusive, featured, interviews On: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

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Because Tombs frontman Mike Hill loves work and HATES sleep, he recently started his own company, Savage Gold Coffee, in an effort to completely eradicate the latter from everyone’s life. Their inaugural brew, Savage Gold Prime, is available for order here now. While presumably starin’ at the walls, Hill gave us the scoop.

I’m guessing you are a daily coffee drinker, correct?

Mike Hill: Absolutely. Yeah, I’m a huge fan of coffee, and for most of my life I’ve been a huge fan of coffee. It’s sort of synonymous with a lot of the activities that I do, you know, as far as… I’ve always pounded coffee when we’re driving across the country, I’m always drinking coffee during band practice. To me, coffee always sort of is synonymous with our activity, so that’s where I guess the connection, I guess, started.

What do you look for, in particular, in a cup of coffee? I’m guessing that you’re a guy who’s into richer, darker blends, not the weak stuff.

No, I like it all, actually. Sometimes, I definitely like the bolder flavors, but also I like lighter coffee as well. I mean, if I’m in the sort of mood for a lighter coffee, I’ll go with that. I like a wide variety of different flavors: you know, espresso, you know, the South American beans vs. the African beans, all that sort of stuff. But specifically some of the things that I’m really interested in are organic and fair-trade and. And relying on consumption, I usually stay with those varieties of coffee.

So, tell me about the experience brewing coffee. I mean, had you had any experience with that up to a point, up to this point?

No, and like everything else in my life, I just jump in and try to do it.

How did you figure this out?

Actually, Jesse Daino, the guy who used to be the drummer with Ed Gein, he runs a coffee operation up in Syracuse. And he and I have been sort of consulting on this whole thing for like the last six months or so. He has been my guru in the coffee-roasting business, and he’s kind of helped me get a source of beans and, you know, pointed me in the right direction as far as doing things cost-effectively and yet still maintaining quality. So, he’s really been my point man on that, and I owe a lot to him for sharing his knowledge.

Are you physically involved in the roasting process? Or is he kind of handling the back-end stuff like that?

Yeah, actually Jesse’s handling the back end. He’s got four guys that he has under him who are roastmasters, and we specifically figured out what the roast profile is, and he’s been handling all of that to date. But down the line my future plan is to actually get my own roasting facility and start doing different beans, different varieties of coffee, but still keeping the Savage Gold Prime coming from Jesse.

So, how much preliminary work have you done on being able to get your own facilities and start that arm yourself?

Well, I’m actually looking at doing it, looking at what the requirements are, because you have a certain requirements for the machine, you have a certain gas requirement that you need for those things that run on gas. So, actually trying to find like a physical location in New York City is starting to become very difficult. And I’m looking actually up the Hudson for the possibility of relocating everything up there and opening up a facility.

Do you have any aspirations to do a retail coffee shop along with this, too?

I don’t see myself actually ever working behind the counter of a retail coffee establishment. [Laughs]

So, tell us about the Savage Gold Prime blend. It’s an Ethiopian coffee, right?

Well, it’s not a blend. It’s this whole… the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, and that, you know, it’s coming from a farmers’ co-op in Ethiopia, it’s harvested between 6,000 and 6,500 feet above sea level and it’s wet-processed, and that sort of cuts down on the mold and toxin content of the coffee. Because a lot of the sort of lower-quality coffee that you may run into will run the risk of having molds or toxins growing inside of them. So, that sort of angle is what I’ve been looking at, you know, trying to keep pure, organic, fair-trade… you know, that sort of trip is definitely part of my whole plan with the business.

What do you think of people who put cream and sugar in their coffee?

I think they’re not drinking coffee. I’m sort of against sugar in general. But, you know, you wanna put cream in your coffee, that’s your thing, man. I would never stand in anyone’s way of expressing themselves. So, I mean, if that’s how you want to express yourself, I say go for it. But you will never catch me putting cream or sugar in my coffee.

It’s a desperate moment. You’re on tour and there are only two coffee choices available to you: Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. Where are you going?

I would go with Starbucks. Though I never drink Starbucks at home, I oftentimes find myself in line at Starbucks on tour. Dunkin Donuts is just unacceptable to me.

You are a noted Henry Rollins enthusiast. Henry Rollins is a noted coffee enthusiast. Are you going to send him a bag of Savage Gold Prime or what?

You know, I thought… that sort of idea has been posed to me by a couple different people. I just feel like it’d be a little corny sending Henry Rollins a bag of coffee, you know? But then again, you never know.

There’s also a Savage Gold beer as a result of a collaboration with Tired Hands Brewing. Decibel hasn’t tasted it, so tell us about it.

Ben [Brand], our bass player, was really the point man on that.  He lives in Philadelphia, and Tired Hands is located in Ardmore, which is a neighborhood, I guess, in Philadelphia. And, you know, Ben is a beer enthusiast and knows a lot about that whole process, and he just talked to Jean [Broillet IV], the owner, and [Ben] was like, “Hey, you know, do you have any interest in doing a Tombs beer?” And Jean was like, “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. You can all come out and it would be a really cool thing to do at the brewery here,” and then sort of independently, I guess, he’d been aware of the coffee company and, literally, as we speak during this interview, it’s less than a month since it’s been available, since I launched the website and the store and all that sort of stuff. So, Jean asked Ben if I would be interested in providing a pound of coffee for him to use, you know, extract into yet a second brew. So, there’s actually Savage Gold, and then there’s the Savage Gold Prime brew, which has coffee in it.

So, have you tried the beer?

Yeah, I have. I mean, I’m not a huge drinker, but I’ve sampled it, and it’s pretty tasty.

The alcohol content in it is pretty modest, which I think is cool. It’s not a beer that is gonna get you hammered after a couple sips. Do you generally prefer that kinda stuff when you have a beer?

I just like to go full-on, man. If I’m gonna drink a beer, I want something with a lot of alcohol in it.

So, we’ve got Savage Gold beer. We’ve got Savage Gold Prime coffee. When can we expect Savage Gold energy drink?

Never. That stuff is poison, honestly. There will definitely be more different types of beans available. There’ll be some more products on the site. I’m looking into do other nutrition and health-related stuff on the site. And also there’ll be some merchandise, some T-shirts and stuff like that. Mugs, you know, travel mugs, which are very useful. I find myself traveling a lot and I always like to bring my own coffee with me because I’m very particular about that sort of stuff, so having a nice travel mug with that killer Savage Gold emblem on it, I think, would be a cool travel accessory for a lot of people.

Decibrity Playlist: Misery Index

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

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Misery Index is no stranger to these playlists. In fact, we were in the midst of winter 2013 when bassist/vocalist Jason Netherton regaled us with “bleak tunes that recall those snowbound blizzards from yesteryear.” This time around, guitarist Mark Kloeppel went in a totally different direction to get you in the know about “hard” jams. We’ll let him take things from here: “‘Hard’ is a special set of subtly nuanced cross-genre aesthetic characteristics within extreme music that may be a little elusive to the untrained ear. Basically, we are talking about ignorant, pounding grooves that might make you want to destroy a room or get in a street fight.” Still curious? Check out the 10 tunes below. Just know that Kloeppel’s not the first to make a Wendy’s reference around these parts — that’s how hard we roll at the Deciblog.

After perusing his selections, you can pick up a copy of Misery Index’s fifth full-length, The Killing Gods, here.

Rattenfänger’s “Clausae Patent” (from 2012′s Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum)
Hardest shit ever! Rattenfänger, a side project of our label mates Drudkh, is quintessentially “hard”. Being hard is a subtle thing, as the music evokes in the listener a notion that talented musicians are utilizing a kind of elective ignorance as a purposive composition method. Listen to how the “thrash” beat mid-song sounds just a little to slow. That would be a big no-no for a band attempting to use a beat like that for its original purpose. To play a fast style beat too slow, in this case, is purposive ignorance. Now that is hard!

Goatwhore’s “FBS” (from 2014′s Constricting Rage Of The Merciless)
Goatwhore? More like GoatwHARD. Bands have influences, and Goatwhore’s influence is Celtic Frost, unabashedly deathrolling Warrior after Warrior-style riff. [Guitarist] Sammy [Duet] just doesn’t give a F, and not giving a F is what being hard is all about. That’s not to say Sammy doesn’t have his own style. That dude has written the most rocking riffs I can remember, and his style is distinct. But the Frost is strong in this one, as is the Priest. I digress. On a song with a title like this, you might expect the meaning of the FBS acronym to be repeatedly rammed down your god-fearing throat. Nope. [Vocalist Ben] Falgoust only gives it to you one time mid-song. Hard!

Portal’s “Curtain” (from 2013′s Vexovoid)
Ah, Portal…the big “F you” to computer-perfect precise death metal. It’s almost as if the song was written for the video, which sets nice imagery to visually imagine their other songs. By totally ignoring any sort of trendy standard, these fellas put the clock faces and robes on and put the darkness in you…hard!

Hate Eternal’s “I, Monarch” (from 2005′s I, Monarch)
[Erik] Rutan [guitarist/vocalist] is no slouch. But what does one do when he’s already conquered the throne of the king of all kings? Punch you in the face with tyrannical, narcissistic rage, that’s what! Hate Eternal has put out great tunes before and since this record. For me, this one just happens to be the hardest!

Fulgora’s “Risen” (from 2013′s Risen/Artifice EP)
Better go to Wendy’s and get yourself a Frosty, because you’re going to need it after a track this hard! For me, it’s like VOD went deathgrind. I don’t include Fulgora because our drummer Adam [Jarvis] happens to be in the band. Rather, the riffs these dudes are churning out are next level. This is legit harshcore!

Xibalba’s “Cold” (from 2012′s Hasta La Muerte)
In a world of hipster-djenty-quirky-vegan-douchey “metal”, it’s refreshing to see a band slam liquor and pork chops and then bring the pound cakes. Thank you Xibalba…for being hard!

Dying Fetus’s “Subjected To A Beating” (from 2012′s Reign Supreme)
If you were to sit down with [vocalist/guitarist] John Gallagher for five minutes with a guitar, he would proceed to write more pummeling catchy riffs than you could in five years. This song and album is right up there with the “classic” material. And yeah, I did do some vocals on this track, but that’s not why it’s on the list. It’s on the list for riff número uno in the song. So hard!

Magrudergrind’s “Bridge Burner” (from 2009′s Magrudergrind)
I don’t think you can get much harder than “Bridge Burner”. The main riff is like getting curbed over and over again. I was a little bummed when [drummer] Chris [Moore] left this band. Those chops! That groove! That über-funked-in-the-pocket blast! I thought it was going to be all over. But the dudes pressed on strong, and still bring the pound cakes and the super grind…hard! Definitely your new favorite band, if they aren’t already.

Infestdead’s “JesuSatan” (from 1999′s JesuSatan)
The end of this song makes me want to punch every pony at the petting zoo. This is a drum machine project Dan Swanö used to figure out how to use a Mac to record for the first time. The riffs are spontaneous and pummeling. This is my absolute favorite record from Dan. Every single riff is catchy, rife with ignorance, and, most importantly…hard.

Machine Head’s “Davidian” (from 1994′s Burn My Eyes)
Don’t you even start to talk shit right now. I know, the same guy that was in Vio-lence could be seen sporting a scencester sideways cap and bandana like in some alternative monthly, and uniform code metal attire in your typical Euro metal mag in the same month. I know. Let’s not even begin to talk about the “Red” album or how this video looks for that matter. Victim of the times, victim of the times. This song, though…you cannot tell me, for one instant, that when you hear “Let freedom ring with a shotgun blast” that you don’t want to punch the person standing next you. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s hard.

So, class, hopefully you have a better understanding of what “hard” is all about. Then again, maybe you don’t. Either way, go support your local record shop, and pick up some hard jams. Might I suggest Misery Index’s The Killing Gods be your first choice. Shameless plug. Go hard or go home.

*Photo by Alyssa Lorenzon

**Pick up a copy of The Killing Gods here

***For past Decibrity entries, click here

Die With Scars: Mike Hill On Fight Club

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, gnarly one-offs On: Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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This week brought the news that a Fight Club sequel (in comic book form) is forthcoming. We aren’t sure if this will work out for the best but it seemed like an ideal time to revisit a book and movie that inspired many.

Mike Hill of Tombs has embraced the book’s underlying ideal: that you need to create something worth living outside of consumer culture. Hill is certainly doing that: he is the frontman of Tombs, who released the excellent album Savage Gold this summer; he recently started a coffee company of the same name (it’s delicious) and he practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. Read his thoughts below.

I remember sitting in the theater in 1999 watching David Fincher’s Fight Club thinking that after a decade of acquiescing to the marginalization of many of the baser male qualities by our PC overlords, it was finally cool to be a guy again. In the film, men congregated in dark basements to beat each other up and live in a self-contained world attacking society. I reveled in the celebration of fighting, destruction and mayhem.

Prior to seeing the film, I worked security at a nightclub in Boston; the job entailed standing around all night with a mag light while drunk rich kids drank themselves into oblivion. It added to my cynical worldview. One of my coworkers mentioned a book called Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk and described it as a study in “bottoming out” — returning to a zero state so that society could be rebuilt.

Aside from being an entertaining, well-shot and well-acted piece of turn-of-the-millennium art, the film deals with regaining balance after living in a dehumanizing world whose ultimate goal is to reduce us to mindless consumers. In the opening scenes, we find our nameless protagonist working a modern office job, unable to sleep and sinking into depression and existential malaise. Director David Fincher does a great job illustrating the dull hammer of life in modern, urban culture; the idea that our lives are a meaningless string of events that put us on a rapidly accelerating path towards death without actually living. We empathize with the character and the grinding sameness of his life: try to sleep, go to work, consume, exist and ultimately perish. To compensate for the emptiness, he spends his time studying mail-order catalogs making impulse buys, becoming enslaved to the “IKEA nesting instinct.”

Enter Tyler Durden, the nameless protagonist’s alter ego. Initially, we are led to believe that he is a real person, someone that he met on one of his endless business trips — a “single-serving friend.” Tyler is everything the protagonist isn’t: strong, charismatic, confident and most importantly, free in a way that isn’t possible for him if he remains on his current trajectory. The famous Einstein quote “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” comes to mind. Tyler Durden is the extreme condition; the catalyst that forces true change.

Fighting is one of the most extreme, visceral things that you can engage in. The Buddhists speak about “being in the moment.” Fighting places you in the moment, every time, connected to the physical world. Connecting to the physical world, breaking away from the world of abstraction, is what the nameless protagonist needs. That first fight, on the first night is where the nameless protagonist faces his own limitations and transcends them. He forces change by blowing up his condo and all of his material possessions, including his DKNY shoes, CK shirts, AX ties and engages in a mission of bottoming out.

There are many references to “hitting bottom” and “letting go” in the film. During the Project Mayhem phase, the recruits are confined to a Spartan list of possessions, only what is absolutely necessary for their missions against property and the material world. The Buddhists hypothesize that one of the primary roots of suffering is attachment to the world of property; this concept is in direct conflict with consumer society. All of this letting go and bottoming out is the move to break away from possessions and gravitate toward a more balanced life. During one of the Tyler Durden’s monologues, he speaks about walking through the remains of our modern world and wearing leather clothes that will last for the rest of your life. There is the implication of a return to a hunter-gatherer based society, a move away from the unsustainable modern world.

Human physiology hasn’t changed since our days as nomadic hunter-gatherers. We are the same creatures that would walk miles a day, covering vast distances chasing down animals for survival. It was a life and death struggle. The onset of agriculture and the industrial revolution propelled us into the world of desk jobs, televisions and deep fried food. It is believed that much of the depression and neurotic behavior rampant in modern society is caused by chronic stress that arises from not exercising fight or flight instincts that are still very much part of our psyche. The nameless protagonist reflects on the early fights in a monologue and states that you weren’t alive like you were while fighting and nothing was solved after the conflicts. Fight Club was to recapture the hunter-gatherer nature, to break away from the roles that society placed us in.

The end game is Project Mayhem, a group of spiritual commandos whose ultimate goal is to manifest Tyler’s dream of bottoming out. Tyler’s objective is to bring down the financial institutions that hold our debts; the collapse of financial history or, as he puts it “one step closer to economic equilibrium.” Without debt, we can all explore the limitless possibility that is our birthright.

In the final scenes, there is the realization that Tyler Durden is just a reflection of the nameless protagonist; a necessary phantom that pushed him to change. The nameless protagonist shoots himself in the head to put closure on his former life, destroying the Tyler Durden manifestation and steps into a new phase of his existence.

Our day to day lives dictate that we log in a certain amount of time doing something that may or may not satisfy us so that a number increases in an account somewhere. Something like getting punched in the face is a real thing that is absolute. It exists. Everything else can be changed.

Black Anvil Joins Lineup for Decibel 10th Anniversary Show at Saint Vitus!

By: andrew Posted in: breaking newz, featured On: Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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It’s like eight zillion degrees in Philly today, so in the spirit of delusional wishful thinking, we’re telling ourselves that October 18 is riiiiiiiiight around the corner. October 18, of course, being the date of our “Decibel Takes Manhattan (and Brooklyn)” 10th anniversary shows, in which we’ll be wearing light jackets and merrily thrashing our way through Manhattan’s Best Buy Theater (for Amon Amarth, Sabaton and Vallenfyre) and Brooklyn’s Saint Vitus Bar (for Evoken and Skeletonwitch).

If you’re sharing the same it’ll-be-frostbitten-soon fantasy, we just put a cherry on top. In addition to Evoken and Skeletonwitch, we’re pleased to announce that the mighty Black Anvil will be fucking shit up at Vitus as well! The hometown black/thrash merchants are one of the most ambitious subgenre-jugglers in the underground, and should fit perfectly between Evoken’s crushing doom hymns and Skeletonwitch’s runamok thrash.

Okay, enough fucking around. Get your Saint Vitus show tickets here, and Best Buy tickets here.

Sucker For Punishment: Le Doom

By: Adrien Begrand Posted in: featured On: Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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It’s a fairly eventful week, thanks in large part to Season of Mist and Prosthetic using this week as a dumping ground for several new releases. Considering next week is a bit on the slower side, wouldn’t it have been a better idea to spread things around more? Give an album a chance to stand out more as opposed to simply being lost in the shuffle this week, perhaps? But if that’s how they want it, fine, let those albums be overshadowed by superb new records by a French doom band, veteran American thrashers, and a German dark folk act. Either way, the variety in this week’s stack of a dozen or so albums is fun. 

Bastard Feast, Osculum Infame (Season Of Mist): The Portland band formerly known as Elitist throws a little bit of everything at the listener on its tremendous second album – death, black, doom, hardcore – and it leaves an immediate, lasting impression too, as every aspect of that sound is given a chance to stand out. It’s eclectic, but not sloppy in the least, a very well constructed hybrid style that feels credible, somehow unique, and most importantly, makes you feel like running through a brick wall. Preview and purchase via Bandcamp.

Corrupt Moral Altar, Mechanical Tides (Season Of Mist): Specializing in the more coherent side of grindcore that Brutal Truth used to do so well, this Liverpool foursome tosses in aspects of sludge and straightforward hardcore into the mix as well, resulting in a sound that swings as mightily as it pulverizes. It’s a raucous debut by a band worth keeping your eye on.

Empyrium, The Turn of the Tides (Prophecy): The ‘90s-early-2000s output of the German dark folk duo was such a huge influence on the likes of Neige (Alcest) and Fursy Teyssier (Les Discrets) that not only did singer/multi-instrumentalist Markus Stock work with both musicians in the studio, but he included them as part of the supporting band at Empyrium’s first public performance in 2012. In turn, you can feel the influence of Neige and Teyssier on Empyrium’s first album in more than a decade, as waves of black metal offer a spellbinding contrast to the hushed, ornate sounds created by Stock and pianist Thomas Helm. In addition, this album was recorded completely on the fly, tracks laid down as soon as they were composed, so an unmistakable air of spontaneity breathes life into this music, which otherwise might have felt too rigid had the band put too much analysis into it. Featuring such beautifully melancholy tracks as “Dead Winter Ways” and “In the Gutter of the Spring” but ending on a refreshingly optimistic note on the title track, this album is a wonderful, pleasant surprise.

Fallujah, The Flesh Prevails (Unique Leader): Now that Origin has boldly backed away from the unbearably loud extreme metal production they helped popularized by working with Colin Marston, one of the best metal producers in the business, it now has me wishing that everyone else would take that tasteful approach to recording. Including Fallujah, who in more capable hands would have put out one of the year’s finest progressive metal albums, but instead have created a record with a sound so overbearingly brickwalled that all dynamics in the songwriting, of which there are plenty, are ruined. There’s no room for the music to breathe, thanks to a constant barrage of rattling kick beats and drum fills that overwhelm the music, which is often striking and creative. I’m usually pretty forgiving when it comes to album production, but this is one instance where a potentially excellent album is yet another victim to the loudness wars.

Fozzy, Do You Wanna Start A War (Century Media): When the best song on the album is a by-the-book cover of ABBA’s “SOS”, you’re in deep, deep trouble. WTF, Y2J?

King of Asgard, Karg (Metal Blade): Look, guys, Amon Amarth is the gold standard of Viking-themed death metal. If you’re going to do what Amon Amarth does, you had better be able to match the masters step for step instead of putting out a pale imitation like this.

Monarch, Sabbracadaver (Profound Lore): Ever since the Dead Men tell No Tales compilation showed up in my mailbox back in 2007, I’ve been oddly intrigued by this French band, whose take on the dronier side of doom has always been a little left of center. Led by vocalist Emilie Bresson and guitarist Shiran Kaïdine, Monarch has slowly evolved into a completely original entity on its last few albums, starting with 2010’s Sabbat Noir, through 2012’s remarkable Omens, and now with Sabbracadaver, which is arguably their strongest work to date. As usual, the pace is deliberately slow, allowing atmospheric ambient parts to work their hypnotic magic, but once the three songs do kick in, they display a knack for melody underneath the distortion and ferocity. At the forefront, as always, is Bresson, who turns in an astonishing, bipolar vocal performance, veering from whispered introspection, to tortured singing, to moments of blinding rage. This music envelops rather than assaults, and in the end its effect is far more lasting as a result. Listen and purchase via Bandcamp.

Mutilation Rites, Harbinger (Prosthetic): The Brooklyn band gets a fair amount of press, being based in the epicenter of music hype and all, but while it’s easy for anyone who lives elsewhere to roll their eyes at yet another black metal band from Brooklyn attracting attention from the music media, you have to admit these guys deliver. It’s all fairly rote black metal, but what sets the band apart is the clear chemistry among the four members, as they lock themselves into some awfully wicked grooves, often stopping on a dime and shifting from black metal to rampaging, High on Fire-style fury. Dan Lake premiered the album here last week, and you should totally give it a listen.

Overkill, White Devil Armory (eOne): It’s not as if Overkill ever did anything but sound like Overkill, churning out their distinct brand of thrash metal for 30-odd years, but something’s happened to the Jersey veterans recently, as their last three albums have been among the fieriest of their long career. Album number 17 is especially strong, built around rampaging riffs, featuring D.D. Verni’s distinct bass sound, and of course highlighted by Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth, whose trademark snarl sounds even more maniacal than usual. On an album loaded with tunes guaranteed to please longtime fans, “King of the Rat Bastards” ranks as the best, instantly hooky and full of piss and vinegar. It’s always great to have old standbys like Overkill around making consistently good music, but metal is a lot better off when they’re making great music, and this record is loaded with it.

Rage Nucleaire, Black Storm of Violence (Season Of Mist): The great Lord Worm is rivaled only by Atilla Csihar when it comes to making extreme metal vocals into a bizarre art form, and he is the driving force once again on Rage Nucleaire’s second album. Like 2012’s Unrelenting Fucking Hatred, Black Storm of Violence once again offers a throttling hybrid of black metal and industrial, the controlled chaos of which is an appropriate backdrop against which for Lord Worm to spew his mangled, twisted screams. Of course, the man is a master wordsmith, and his lyrics are as poetically depraved as ever: “Your screaming is music: sing to me; Sing your pain with funeral shrieks.” Beautiful.

Schammasch, Contradiction (Prosthetic): All this time I thought this band’s name was some silly way of making the word “smash” even more metal. SCHAMMASCH!!! But no, apparently there was a fella named Šamaš, who was a Babylonian sun god or something to that effect. Similarly, the music is less silly, and more serious and adventurous, a stirring combination of the massive-sounding, blasphemous gravity of Behemoth and the experimental tendencies of Deathspell Omega. Which is all well and good, but by the time you get into the second half of this double album, the sprawling ten-minute tracks start to lose their appeal. Though there are several strong moments – the title track, for one – a “less is more” approach would have made a much stronger impact.

Trudger, Dormiveglia (Church of Fuck): Straightforward yet excellently done sludge metal, this British band’s debut album has a way of sneaking up on you, sly melodies creeping into the music like a splash of color on a monochrome landscape. There are times where the guys are a little too derivative of Remission-era Mastodon, but a track like “Barren Grey” adds a welcome touch of doom and gloom reminiscent more of sooty Northern England than muggy Georgia. Preview and purchase via Bandcamp.

Not metal, but worth hearing:

The Raveonettes, Pe’ahi (The Beat Dies): The Danish duo doesn’t exactly have the kind of indie cachet they might have had more than a decade ago, which is unfortunate as they’ve been putting out some sterling albums as of late. Bolstered by the presence of Justin Meldal-Johnsen, one of the best producers working today, Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo sound even dreamier than ever, their hazy indie pop awash in luxurious waves of distortion. The Jesus & Mary Chain element is always present in the Raveonettes’ music, but there’s a strong modern touch similar to the swooning shoegazey modern rock of M83 – another of Meldal-Johnsen’s collaborators – and songs like “Z-boys”, “Killer in the Streets”, and “Summer’s End” gracefully explode, shimmering like the sun bouncing off the ocean.

Follow me on Twitter at @basementgalaxy

TRACK PREMIERE: Kaine’s “The Wanderer”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: exclusive, featured, listen On: Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

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Their name is Kaine and the song is called “The Wanderer,” so the nerd in me wants to say that this UK band named themselves after the  classic TV series Kung Fu – but their name is spelled differently and also they look like they are about 16 and oh God I’m old. Anyway, there’s some serious classic metal thunder going on here. Young or not, Kaine have clearly studied under the Masters of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. You can check out what they have going on with our premiere of “The Wanderer.”


***The Waystone comes out on August 1. You can order it here.

Get Sinister: Exclusive A389 Mixtape Stream/Contest!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: contest, featured, free On: Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

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A389 Recordings is the most dangerous record label in America, period.

Those who doubt it will have a tough time accounting for the 2014 A389 Digital Mixtape/Sampler, an utter beast of a collection featuring fifty-plus salvos from such sinister extreme music heavyweights such as Integrity, Bloodlet, Ringworm, Weekend Nachos, The Black Dahlia Murder, Iron Reagan, and Noisem, alongside a slew of newer/lesser known future levelers.

Decibel is proud to not only host the exclusive stream of the mix below, but also to offer up ultra sick A389 PrizePacks to the five readers who leave the most entertaining/inventive comments below regarding a new band they discovered via the mix.

Everyone else, head over to the A389 webstore where all orders are 25 percent off this week with the following code: A3892014MIXTAPE. (All Bandcamp downloads are set to free/pay what you want for the week as well…)

Also, see the flyer above for info on a tremendous A389 sideshow happening this weekend in Philly.

Tracklisting after the jump…

Choke On A Gloriously “Bitter Pill”: Exclusive Overkill Premiere!

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, videos On: Monday, July 21st, 2014

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Overkill has been on an absolute tear since Ironbound (2010), and the unrelenting down n’ dirty thrash of the band’s latest excellent sneering scream from the gutter White Devil Armoryout tomorrow! — ably proves this string of second — third? — wind triumphs is no fluke.

Which is why it is such a great honor to debut the video for “Bitter Pill” below…

Enjoy! Previous video for “Armorist” after the jump.

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Morean and V. Santura (Dark Fortress) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, July 21st, 2014

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** Germany’s Dark Fortress have plied black metal’s murky, obsidian-colored waters for the better part of 20 years. In that time, they’ve crafted seven full-length, all of which have gone on to acclaim and recognition. Unlike most bands, Dark Fortress haven’t played it easy across their varied discography. They’ve experimented, tried new ways to mold the dark into their own visage, and have, largely, come out the other end an eviler, cleverer entity. This plays into new full-length Venereal Dawn. Easily the group’s most accomplished album, Venereal Dawn fits somewhere between Mayhem, Triptykon—guitarist V. Santura is a contributing member—, and, well, Dark Fortress.

Twenty years? What does that mean to Dark Fortress having survived for two decades?
Morean: It just shows how old and how stubborn we are. I guess it’s in our Bavarian blood to hang on to things.
V. Santura: This is a difficult question and maybe I wouldn’t emphasize the fact that we already exist since 20 years too much, makes us look older than we actually are. Asvargr founded the band back then with our old vocalist Azathoth and from the early days it is only Asvargr left in the band. So, for us others the band feels younger, but it speaks for our stamina, idealism (and yes) stubbornness that we are still around. And also that we still really enjoy this band.

How is Dark Fortress a different band now than you were in 2001 on the Tales from Eternal Dusk full-length?
V. Santura: After the recordings for Tales…, which took place in summer 2000, there was a major turning point in the band, because within a few months with Seraph, Draug and myself three new members joined the band. Since then this “second” line-up of Dark Fortress proved to be very stable with the exception that Azathoth and Dark Fortress parted ways in 2007, but Morean established himself extremely quickly as the new face and frontman of the band. I couldn’t imagine Dark Fortress without him now, and it is almost seven years now and three albums together. Of course, the “daily routine” of the band also changed a lot since 2001. Back then we were all living in the same area, rehearsed regularly once or twice a week, arranged a lot of songs together and were still a rather unknown band in the underground. Now, one third of the band lives in the Netherlands, so regular weekly rehearsing is impossible nowadays, so when we get together it is always for special purposes, but then it is super intense.

Venereal Dawn is quite an album title. Tell us where it first came to Dark Fortress and what it means.
Morean: I was ready to start writing my concept and lyrics in 2011. Traveling in Mexico, I was reading Stephen R. Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever again at the time, and was fascinated by the idea of sunlight becoming something that actively and drastically twists and mutates the world. Simultaneously, the ancient lands of Oaxaca and the mind-boggling skies over it that particular day left me spiritually impressed and inspired; something got triggered in my mind and I started seeing scenes like from a movie, heard music, there came a story, images… It had nothing to do with Mexico and not even with Donaldson too much, but sometimes there is this moment that you know something wants to create itself. It can be quite unstoppable. “Venereal Dawn” and “Betrayal And Vengeance” came as titles to me that very moment. We had about 10 good options at the end how we’d call the album, and funny that it came back to the very first words I had written for it. “Venereal” originally just means “pertaining to Venus”, but in daily use it has another connotation: Venus is the goddess of love and beauty, very seductive and elevated, but in reality it is a hellish planet where nothing from this earth can survive. In the term “venereal disease”, it implies a disease that consumes you from the inside. We thought “Venereal Dawn” is an apt title for the similarly two-sided story of this album.

It’s a concept album in nine chapters. Tell us about the concept.
Morean: It centers around the idea of living light; the confrontation of our world with beings whose body is mere quantum quivering, but who possess sentience, intelligence and a long history. The scenario is that the sun has acquired a new character which deforms and perverts all life on the planet. The only way people can protect themselves fleetingly is to anoint their skin with living blood. This has brought down civilization. The protagonist is one of those human sacrifices left to be devoured by those beings. Halfway through the album, the focus shifts from the outside world to internal experience. The story of his and mankind’s demise and transfiguration becomes one of deep spiritual upheaval and catharsis, to the backdrop of a grotesque and extremely hostile world. I’m not sure why I can’t seem to avoid those two elements, dying worlds and spiritual transformation. In that sense the departure point might be similar to other albums we made. However, this time I was interested in the human implications of going through such a process. In a way, the external story is just the images my particular mind created around what I felt when I delved into my own abyss and astral adventures when writing the words. In that sense I hope the album is more than just a story; the emotions and visions we put into it are very real, and left me rather shaken at times. So it’s not just science fiction; I see it as a morbid parabola on things hidden deep inside us.

Was there a particular magic moment—something that said, “Yes! This is our path forward”—for the band while writing Venereal Dawn?
Morean: I guess the song writing session in January 2013 was what finally broke the dam. We had a bunch of loose songs before that, but somehow it always struggled to find a center. We got together every day for a week, everybody bringing their ideas to the table. Then Santura and Seraph jammed out Santura’s ideas in a few intense sessions spread over months, and all of a sudden there was too much stuff! Santura has these periods, when the world leaves him alone for just a little while, that all of a sudden you get five mp3s and there is an album on the table… and suddenly it’s rolling.

You’ve spoken about the album writing process. How’d you finally find time to put it all together?
Morean: Santura has a lot to say about this, I guess. In fact, we worked on it whenever we could in the last three years, many hours went into this album. But the crunch time, once recordings started, was a combination of comparing agendas (and despairing), and Santura finding the time, since he was busy with it full time for months on end. We were annoyed of course that we had to postpone the release again, from early to later 2014, but it was good that we had some time for the finishing touches after Santura delivered the new Triptykon album. Once again, the devil is in the details in this one.
V. Santura: I don’t have to add much to Morean’s explanations here actually. After those songwriting sessions in January 2013 it was clear to me that we would be able to record a complete album somewhere in 2013, because we broke the levee creatively. In the next few months I kept on working on further ideas and had some jam and arranging sessions especially with Seraph and Asvargr, so we decided to produce the album in October and November. The original plan was to record and also mix and master the album within those two months. Usually this should be more than sufficient, but especially during the guitar recordings I got lost in my own world and again I was simultaneously rehearsing with Triptykon for Melana Chasmata. Towards the end of November we basically had everything recorded but I had to admit that I just couldn’t pull of the mix anymore at that time. So we had to cancel our first deadline and postpone the mix for a while until I was finally having time and energy for this again. It sucked that we had to postpone the album, but in the end it was the only right decision, so I could put as much time and love for details into it as I wanted and this way I am super satisfied and happy with the final result. I think I was only once about that satisfied with a Dark Fortress album directly after it was finished.

Dark Fortress are known for doing different cover songs. Katatonia and Angelo Badalamenti. Any covers on Venereal Dawn?
Morean: Not on the album, but we did record a cover of Shining’s “Besvikelsens Dystra Monotoni” a few years ago, which is now floating around in our ether with the other songs we wrote and recorded for the album. So, we hope to be able to release an EP with more material not too long after Venereal Dawn.

How was the studio experience this time around? I gather there was a lot of soul searching given time and professional constraints.
Morean: I don’t know how Santura doesn’t go crazy during his months of production, but I always enjoy screaming at him for hours on end. [Laughs] It felt it took forever, and we kept re-doing and tweaking the smallest details till the last second. But I enjoyed every moment, we had deep conversations and good food, and time to really focus. It was extremely exciting to witness these songs coming to life.
V. Santura: Well, I was running out of time and energy during the first mix (as described before) and I got too fucking self-critical with the guitar recordings at a certain time which was a little counterproductive, but other than that the studio sessions were great. This time we used an external studio with a big room for the drum recordings and this was a really interesting experience. It was our explicit aim to achieve a very natural, but still aggressive drum sound. I know, it is kind of en vogue to sound like a ’70s band nowadays, and the other extreme is to have totally quantized, triggered-to-death plastic drums. Personally, I don’t like either of these extremes and we tried to achieve a good compromise between a natural classic rock and a modern metal production. Also, every song in the album has its very own identity and so each song had to be treated very differently the way it was recorded, produced and mixed. Also, we never put so much time in the vocal recordings and arrangements and I think you can hear that. The most important thing to me was to capture the emotions that are within the songs in the right way and emphasize them.

Name five German black metal bands—other than yourselves—that deserve a name drop.
Morean: Haradwaith, Farsot, Secrets Of The Moon, Eudaimony, Lunar Aurora.
V. Santura: Ascension, Secrets of the Moon, Sonic Reign, Katharsis, Farsot

What is black metal to Dark Fortress?
Morean: The musical expression of emotional abysses.
V. Santura: The musical expression of emotional abysses. P.S. Is Dark Fortress still black metal? Or are we far beyond that?

** Dark Fortress’ new album, Venereal Dawn, is out September 1st on Century Media Records. Pre-orders are not yet available, but click this link (HERE) to get back catalog titles like Ylem and Eidolon.