Streaming: Steve Von Till’s 2000 Debut, As the Crow Flies

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, May 17th, 2013

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The man-boys in Converge suggest we shouldn’t have any heroes.  Ironic, that, since they qualify as heroes themselves.  Another hero whose deeds we love to celebrate is Neurosis vocalist/guitarist Steve Von Till.  The man has helped guide the forces of nature his band channels into masterpieces of world-ending ferocity, and this alone makes him an astonishing example for musicians and artists of all strains.  But the recordings that have endeared him to yours truly fall under his name alone.

The first time I heard As the Crow Flies, Mr. Von Till’s debut solo album, I didn’t know what to make of it.  Not because it was quiet and unterrifying; I listen to a lot of simple, melodic music, so I had no high metal horse to come down from.   The dream-state undulations, the nocturnal, misty quality of each song left me without specific moments to grasp and anchor myself.  It took a few more listens before the record became one of my favorite listening experiences that I have gone back to frequently over the last decade.  Subsequent solo albums If I Should Fall to the Field and A Grave is a Grim Horse have had different but no less addictive impact.

Now, Neurot Recordings is re-releasing that first solo record, and we at Decibel are bringing it to you in full right here on the Deciblog.  We got a chance to speak to Steve about his recollections involving the songs’ creation, which you can also read below the album stream.  [Note:  Steve's comments appear basically as they were spoken, while the writer's questions were cleaned up significantly to sound less like he was a drooling sycophant.]

First, what do you recall about the way As the Crow Flies came together?  How were you feeling about that material at the time?

In some ways I think I fell into making a solo record by default or happenstance rather than design.  I had no idea I was recording one until I had a majority of the material.  I had been collecting home recording gear for several years before that and was living in an apartment on the ground floor of a 1900 Victorian in San Francisco.  It was a noisy place to live, so I would wait until my housemates were asleep and the streets were quiet, and with a half-inch 8-track tape machine and couple shitty microphones I just started putting down these ideas.  I didn’t know what they were.  Some of them sat for a couple years, some of them sat for only a few months before I realized, if I look back at all these reels of tape that aren’t ideas I was hashing out for Neurosis or Tribes of Neurot, I’ve got this strange grouping of songs that seem to fit together.  [They’re] more melancholy, acoustic, quiet recordings; “while the rest of the world is sleeping” kind of material.  Once I realized that it was a collection, then I had to decide, “I guess I’m going to release this under my own name.”  It’s something I never thought I would do.  It didn’t seem important.  But I think the music ended up demanding it.  With the help of a couple friends I threw together some mixes and finished some pieces up… I can’t recall exactly, I probably wrote an additional piece or two once I realized I was actually writing a record.

When I put it out there, it was actually quite terrifying in some ways because it was unlike Neurosis, where I have a bunch of brothers by my side and we all have each other’s backs and make a shitload of noise and cover up all the insecurity of being exposed out there on a limb.  It was the beginning of something which I realized was a life-long quest, to also be able to craft emotionally powerful songs, that are not part of the epic bombast of Neurosis but actually concise tight pieces that still evoke strong emotion and put the listener in a place.  I guess, primarily, it’s something that I needed to express, something that was calling out for release. 

So you knew when you were writing the songs that they weren’t ideas for Neurosis or for Tribes of Neurot, but it didn’t occur to you that it would become a solo thing?

Not at all, not back then.

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In the Decibel cover article on Neurosis [Dec. 2012, #98], you characterized your old Neurosis material by saying:  “Proud of what it was, but glad we’re past that.”  Do you feel the same way about your solo music, or does it have a different quality for you?

I try to always look forward.  I always hope and believe and trust that my best work is still ahead of me.  I can always hear the growing pains through each stage, whenever I look back.  I hear decisions I would never make now.  Not to say I’m not proud of it.  I’m totally proud of it, and I think the music, of all the things I’ve been blessed to be part of, continues to stand on its own and has its place in the world.  But I don’t think I had found my voice or craft quite at that point, at least not as much as I think it evolved in the following couple solo releases.  [On those records] I had a chance to work more by design rather than accident.  After the first one then it was like, alright, I have a solo project now.

So with the later solo recordings, did you feel that you were able to work with more intention, knowing more where you were headed?

Somewhat.  Definitely more than the first one.  I mean, I’m always open to destroying things and changing things and I try not to limit the vision or the scope of what something will become until it takes form.  So in that way it’s similar to that first process, just with more conscious effort.  They’re still based on home recording, for the most part, and intimate recording settings.  I have a studio at home and I hash out ideas and when I feel the inspiration I can go try things, and destroy them or put them away for later.  But it definitely wells up and then all of a sudden starts flowing out.  That’s for any project.  Ideas sit and gel and nag at the back of the mind and then at some point they just start vomiting forth.

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I spoke to Scott Kelly last year, and he told me that he compartmentalizes what he writes, so he always knows which project he’s writing for when he works on an idea.  Do you feel that way?

I’d say I agree with him.  There’s definitely different mindsets.  Neurosis isn’t really written [like anything else].  You can bash around some ideas by yourself, but it’s the mystery and magic of everybody destroying it, deconstructing it and adding to it – everybody bringing their strengths to the table.  That gives it life.  With Harvestman, it’s more like turning on all the equipment and see where we land.  With this, it’s more songcraft, which in some ways is a challenge because I didn’t grow up writing songs.  I wouldn’t call what Neurosis makes “songs”.  They’re more like these moving pieces.  You don’t ever have to repeat something, there’s no verse-chorus scenario.  While it’s definitely not conventional or traditional – and it’s probably the same for Scott, too – we definitely have a huge place in our hearts for the great songwriters that have moved us, be they country or folk, rock or punk or whatever.  That whole idea of crafting something that can be as moving [while being] quiet as other things can be loud.  It’s a challenge we felt the need to meet.

As the Crow Flies seems very simplistic at first listen, but there really are layers of instruments at times.  Was that something that you envisioned, or did you just have other musicians try some things out?

It happened in such a variety of ways on the different recordings.  I definitely remember recording “We All Fall”.  I don’t even know if I had my 8-track at that point, that might have been 4-track cassette.  I didn’t have a mike stand, so I had a crappy mike duct taped to a guitar stand in front of me sitting on my bed, and I had a Radio Shack PZM microphone balanced on my knee for the guitar track.  And that just kind of became the whole song, there with those couple of mikes.

For a small period of time I played with the folks in Amber Asylum, and “Twice Born” was a song I actually wrote when I was playing with them, and we performed it live a few times.  So that one had kind of a feeling of having worked it out with other musicians, and I recorded it with them.  At the time, they were doing some other recording and that song just sat on tape for a while.

Most of them, I probably just put down the guitar and the vocal, and then if I heard something, I tried it.  There’s probably a synthesizer on one song, just a drone, or a simple piano.  I didn’t have a lot of gear, I wasn’t at a proper studio, but someone left an electric piano at my house so that ended up on a song.  I had the strings [played by the women of Amber Asylum] brought in because they’d worked on the other song pretty well.  Those ladies were players, they knew how to interpret the song, so I just gave it to them and they knew what to do.  But most of it was just the guitar and the voice, and the words, trying to find a trance state in that simple space.  It was definitely primitive recording.  I’m glad it turned out, and [Jeff] Byrd was able to mix it and make it sound like a cohesive album. 

My first impression of the album came from listening to “Midheaven”, the one MP3 file posted on the Neurot Recordings website [and still is].  Was there a reason that song was chosen to represent the album in that way?

Can’t remember.  I listened to it the other day because I had to pick different songs to split the sides for the vinyl, since it won’t be in the same sequence –  I don’t usually like to go back and listen but I was forced to sit and kind of vibe on it for a little bit – and maybe I was thinking that was the darkest and most… not that any of it’s aggressive… but that has a certain…

Edge to it?

Yeah, so maybe my thoughts at the time were, if I was trying to invite people who had no idea what to expect from a member of Neurosis doing solo work and they’re about to be stunned with some acoustic music [laughs], maybe I thought that was a lead-in to it, but I really can’t recall.

When, in the lifespan of the Neurot label, was As the Crow Flies released?

Right in the beginning.  That was number six, NR6.  The only things before that were the things we started the label with, which was Souls at Zero and Enemy of the Sun reissues.  We skipped NR1 for when we got Pain of Mind together, and NR2 for whenever we get Word As Law together.  We skipped them just to save a spot for our stuff to be in sequence all in the beginning.  [Crow] came out the same time as the Galloping Coroners, a Hungarian band that we put out.  They were the first non-Neurosis releases, Galloping Coroners and my solo record.

What was the drive behind starting the Neurot label, and what do you feel the effects have been?

The drive was, initially, to simply create our own home that would be our home forever, and that we would eventually be able to bring everything back to the source.  After the first few releases, we had the idea of following in some of our heroes footsteps, some of the great labels we grew up with – SST, Touch & Go, Dischord – and maybe we could find likeminded artists and create a bigger community for otherwise outsider music.  [We wanted to release] stuff that has some emotional intensity and some unspoken spiritual connection that’s all tied together, some sort of unifying force.  We just started out with the obvious thing:  people that were inspiring and around us, [our] friends.  We were going to do it totally different [from] any sort of scene pigeonholing people, and you can see pretty clearly by the Neurot catalog that we’re all over the map in our tastes and appreciation of emotionally intense music, whether it be ambiance or experimental or heavy.  And now it’s just to continue to provide a viable platform for intense musical vision, to work with people we want to work with.  It almost goes back to the old school values of buying the art straight from the craftsperson.  It seems different ‘cause they’re mostly pieces of plastic, but [it’s all about] getting the music straight from the artist.  [We’re] working with distributors and PR companies that aren’t part of the business of music, that aren’t part of the corporate world.  They’re truly in it for the love and the right reasons.

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Old School Hardcore Thursdays with AC4. This Week: Visual Aggression

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, lists, uncategorized, videos On: Thursday, May 16th, 2013

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Today marks the final installment of Old School hardcore Thrusdays with the members Umea throwback punks, AC4. Check out parts one and two, if you should so desire. This week, I asked bassist Christoffer Jonsson and guitarist Karl Backman to list off the albums they spent as much time longingly staring at back in the day as much as they did listened to.

Top Five Old School HC Album Covers
Karl:
Exploited – Troops Of Tomorrow
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Fallout – Home Killed Mea
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Disorder – Perdition (8 songs on a 12″ is sort of an album)
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ANTI – I Dont Want To Die In Your War
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TST – TST (the first LP)
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Christoffer 138:
Poison Idea – Feel the Darkness
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SS Decontrol – The Kids Will Have Their Say
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Cro-Mags – The Age of Quarrel
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GISM – Detestastion
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Anti Cimex – Raped Ass (5 songs on a 7″ is sort of an album)
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Young Wasteners – We Got Ways
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And here’s AC4′s latest video for “Curva del Diablo”:

CONTEST: Win Tickets to See Fight Amp in Philly!

By: zach.smith Posted in: contest, featured On: Thursday, May 16th, 2013

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Want to know how excited Fight Amp is to be playing its first hometown show of the year? So excited that my fellow South Jerseyans decided to give away a pair of tickets to their May 28th show at Philadelphia’s Kung Fu Necktie and asked us to help. Oh, did we mention that the evening will also features the likes of Weedeater, Old Wounds and Philadelphia’s own Serpent Throne? Nah, you didn’t need any more convincing.

To be eligible to win, all you have to do is email fightampcontest@gmail.com with your favorite story about/experience with any of the bands on the bill. Entries are due no later than a week from today (that would be May 23rd). You should also, you know, be able to make it to the City of Brotherly Love on the 28th.

The band will choose the winner itself and get in touch with you so that it can put you on the guest list plus one. It’s that simple. And since second place is the first loser, the runner up will get a download code for Fight Amp’s last record, Birth Control.

Not feeling lucky? Buy a ticket here.

Check out more about the show here, pick up a copy of its latest record, Birth Control, over at Translation Loss and dig Fight Amp’s great taste in tunes here.

The Ghosts Of Metal Past: Of fate, friendship and fast food

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews, tv On: Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

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We remember the folks who were around when we started listening to metal. One of the people I have a vivid memory of is my old friend Robert Dyer: a wild haired guitar aficionado that sat next to me in many a math class during our four years at a parochial prep school. Robert often watched in horror as I attacked my desk with a high school issue compass, which the TSA would classify as a weapon today.

Robert was unforgettable: he was shy but incredibly warm and good-natured and had a wonderfully dry sense of humor. He was also one of the few guys who learned how to play guitar instead of just talking about how cool it would be to shred. We had many conversations about the brilliance of Ace Frehley – who was charting a solo career – and shared the early Metallica albums. Robert was way more into classical and proggy stuff; I liked and still appreciate more extreme fare. So Robert never ran with Slayer and Venom quite like I did, or got into Darkthrone later down the road. Stratovarius and Malmsteen? That’s his speed.

What was important is that we were fans, and friends. When many of our high school classmates were singularly focused on college and futures as bankers or attorneys, we talked about records. It’s nice to find the people who share your passions. One of our passions was metal. It certainly wasn’t geometry.

Perhaps my greatest memory of Robert was when he played the high school talent show. As you have surmised Robert’s last name is Dyer. His band’s name: Dyers Eve. Pretty much everyone thought it was a take off on his last name; those in the know immediately picked up the Metallica reference from …And Justice For All. Like the double entendres in AC/DC songs, it worked well regardless of interpretation. Robert didn’t win the talent show; it was probably a Tone Loc imitator. But I sure as shit don’t remember anyone else who played.

I’ve always wondered what happened to my old friend Robert, and if he was doing well. I’m happy to report that he is. Through the visionary power known as the Internet I learned that Robert now has a bustling practice as a fast food reviewer on YouTube. He’s reviewed every product that public health advocates have warned you about, and done so with gusto.

His reviews are getting noticed: Robert’s channel has close to 200,000 views at this writing, and many of his commenters are return visitors. I don’t know how anyone could see his droll but often spot on reviews and not envision him on television so if we have any connected readers please forward them the link. But focusing on fast food would short-change Robert; he’s recorded and released an album; run for office (as a Republican) in Montgomery County, Maryland (where he can verbally joust with the best of them) and started a websites to showcase local businesses. We both agree that life hasn’t turned out quite like we expected (Robert’s a Republican for starters) but Robert has made the most of the mixed bag we all receive. So, I decided to e-mail my old friend and see if he’d be up to talk and allow me to record it. And he was more than game.

Jeff Hanneman’s passing was a stark reminder that life is often shorter than we’d like. This conversation happened weeks before Hanneman’s death but seems especially poignant given that he was one of the icons of our youth. Remember your old friends and don’t be afraid to reconnect. So ladies and gentlemen – welcome, WELCOME – my old friend Robert to the Deciblog.

Robert was even cool enough to run out to Barnes and Noble and grab a copy of Decibel. We begin this week’s blog post with Robert’s new video review of our magazine. My favorite part: his aside that Barney Greenway must mean business because he has a rotary phone. Hey Robert, you need to subscribe and get a copy of Albert’s book, too!

How much of a run did you make at the musical career after we graduated from high school?

I did go on to college and I was totally focused on being a professional recording artist and breaking into the business. It was more challenging than I expected. It seemed like if you didn’t have connections, you were on your own. I always did home recordings and I did some studio recordings in the mid-90s that I shopped around record labels. I got sidelined for a few years in the mid-90s when I had wrist surgery. Since I recovered I haven’t had any problems. I finally figured out I would just finance my own independent recordings. I put out a record called Out For Revenge in 2000. At the same time I majored in Latin American history at the University of Maryland. I had the opportunity to specialize and I picked the field because it interested me.

Did you keep up with metal in the 90s?

The funny thing was that once we got to the Nirvana years the guitar magazines all switched over to grunge or alternative. So I just cancelled my subscriptions! I was listening to some of the names that went forward like Yngwie Malmsteen and George Lynch. Dokken got back together at one point, I think. I would listen to a lot of things from the small labels. I just kept listening to bands I liked from 80s. I haven’t been great at keeping up but, ultimately, I’ve found that I always go back to the 70s and 80s. The music was better.

We both loved Metallica although we could never get you fully on the Slayer train. What did you think of the path Metallica took? Of course, your band’s name was Dyers Eve.

Their career never matched the first three albums. I think a lot of artists have that period where they just make classic material and have classic performances, then never match that package again. But I do think they’ve done good stuff. They had some good stuff on the most recent albums but it doesn’t feel the same. If I was going to tell someone the Metallica albums to get it would be the first three. Master Of Puppets has it all: production, sound, songwriting. Even …And Justice For All was a little too dry for me. I like the big sound.

The whole thing with the band name Dyers Eve was funny. I dropped an apostrophe to make sure people understood but no one did!

Decibel covers some of the extreme ends of metal – black metal, death metal, grindcore. Did you ever sample that music?

It just depends on the sound of the band. In the early years of high school you remember I listened to a lot of hardcore and punk. I did listen to more speed metal but I never had a collection of those genres. I will listen to any type of metal but I tend to prefer things in a minor key. If there’s a really heavy band that has a classical influence and a dramatic sound then I probably will listen to it no matter the genre.

That probably explains why we could never get you into Venom.

Yeah (laughs). I was a big fan of Megadeth. But for some reason I never got into some of the contemporaries. I tend to prefer more of that Euro metal sound, even things like the Scorpions. Megadeth certainly has minor key scales. That’s probably why I didn’t like bands that are heavy for the sake of heavy.

So, how did you end up doing fast food reviews online? You have more than 150,000 page views on YouTube.

I’ve always liked American food and fast food. A lot of the food available now wasn’t available where and when we grew up. I’ve always been a fan of McDonalds and Burger King. So, basically, what I did was share my passions. People really seem to like the food reviews. I did an unboxing of the McDonalds Angus burger and I got more hits than ever. That’s gone over 10,000 and it’s probably more now. At the time I was getting 100 views or less per video. This December I started to do a Christmas countdown with Christmas related food. And in between that McDonalds put out a lot of new products. The fast food reviews got the most views by far so I gave them more emphasis. It seems to be what people want to see.

When you hear about fast food in our culture it’s like Michael Bloomberg trying to cap soda sizes. Or you hear about calorie counts or the downsides. But you celebrate it.

There’s definitely an element of my personal philosophy in there about what government should be telling us about what to eat and drink. The hypocrisy that goes on is funny. Beyonce recently endorsed Pepsi and I didn’t hear a lot of criticism. And I think she was part of some campaign about healthy eating – it was “Let’s Move” or something. I’m not suggesting people go out and drink galloons of soda. But I think it’s funny how they can talk about how sodas are killing kids and then endorse Pepsi. I don’t see anything wrong with fast food as an option. There’s certainly a lot of elitism toward people who don’t have a lot of money and eat it. I just don’t think government has any place in what people can eat and drink and restricting it.

I have to ask you, though: how do you eat this food and stay healthy? You look pretty much the same, which is a good thing.

I think because I do the videos people think I eat fast food 24-7. I actually eat a lot less fast food than you would think. For all my personal opinions I hardly drink any soda at all. For the last ten plus years I’ve worked out pretty much every day. So that’s part of why I’ve never seen these things as a health crisis. I eat it in moderation as part of a balanced diet and I exercise every day.

I just think it would be funny if someone recognized you at the gym and was like “what is this guy doing here?”

I do a lot on my own, actually. I walk three or four miles a day. I have some weights and I put my own routine together. It’s really helped me. When I ran for office I had to go to thousands of doors and it was second nature because I do so much walking. If a person sticks on a regular regimen there’s no reason they can’t sample what I review.

How do you go about selecting food to review? There were certain things I didn’t even know I existed like onion ring potato chips.

My interest in fast foods and snacks is the same as the other guy. Anything with bacon really jumps out at me. I like things that are unusual or decadent. Sometimes, that’s part of the appeal. Wendy’s had something called the “Baconator” that was so over-the-top. I just look for things I think I would enjoy eating.

Many bloggers and video critics end up getting courted by major brands. People like you now have as much of a voice as the major critics.

Well, there are also some people on YouTube that take an elitist, condescending approach to fast food. They’ll talk about how it’s a horrible product that’s horrible for us but let’s try it, anyway. I just take the products at face value. I don’t think anyone would claim their burger is as good as a steak or lobster. I do find that some things offered by fast food – when they get it right — can be as good as anything put out by a restaurant. I try to offer an alternative to the tired old critics or the hipsters. I’m just an average guy who appreciates fast food and American food and will give an honest review.

I remember when we were growing up we were besieged with messages about how awful metal is. Yet a few decades later I can email you out the blue and we start a conversation like no time has passed. I have to think there’s a magic to the music. Once you are part of the community you are part of it for life.

That’s definitely true. It’s like you just walked down the hallway and started talking to me at school. Metal fans tend to be – even if they don’t realize it –more creative and intellectual and think through the big issues. Behind the volume, metal dating back to Sabbath has been about the average person trying to wrap their mind around huge issues like war, ethics and political ideologies. You don’t get that listening to a boy band. When you are part of the community –even if you just think it’s something rebellious — you are subconsciously thinking about the big questions that face everyone. All of the controversy and fears people had about metal, look, we turned out fine! We’re upstanding members of the community.

Our high school teachers would probably be proud of this conversation.

Yup (laughs). The things we’re doing aren’t what some people would think come from a steady diet of heavy metal listening. You’re writing. I’m doing things in the community – not just running for office but also working as an advocate for the disabled. Fans of heavy metal tend to be very engaged with the world around them.

Does this mean I can show up unannounced at your house with a six-pack and a dozen Cool Ranch Dorito Tacos?

(Laughs). Why don’t we wait until they make a taco based on the Jumpin’ Jacks Dorito?

*****

Follow all of Robert Dyer’s reviews — subscribe to his YouTube channel.

Richard Christy (Majestic Loincloth) interviewed

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

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OK, where’d this come from? Majestic Loincloth’s been in the works for a while, right?
Richard Christy: Yes, I actually filmed Majestic Loincloth as a low budget live action film with all my metalhead drinking buddies back in Florida in 2002 and 2003. I’d gather everyone together on a Sunday, buy a case of beer, and we’d act like idiots wearing Viking outfits and film it. I actually made several full-length films with all my buddies for fun from 1994-2004; you can see them all on my Youtube Channel if you search Richard Christy’s Channel on Youtube. My plan for Majestic Loincloth was for it to be a full-length hour and a half movie, but when I moved to NYC in 2004 the film was put on hold. After about five years I decided to put the footage I had filmed on Youtube (you can still see it there). It got a great response and Chris Prynoski from Titmouse Animation saw it and thought it would make a great cartoon!

So, wait, what’s the premise? I didn’t know Heavy Metal Viking Rock Opera Homoerotic Medieval Animated Musical Cinema was a film genre.
Richard Christy: Well, it’s a film genre now! I’m hoping that in 50 years Heavy Metal Viking Rock Opera Homoerotic Medieval Animated Musical Cinema will be as popular of a genre as Romantic Comedy. Majestic Loincloth is basically a blend of my love of comedy, horror, heavy metal, and homoerotic humor. The plot (if you call it that) revolves around the studly hero Gunnar Steedhorn, victorious leader of Studland. When the evil jerk Orloff the Gravedigger starts reeking havoc in Studland and kills Gunnar’s son, it is time for Gunnar to exact revenge on that dirtwad.

How’d Titmouse come on board as animators?
Richard Christy: I’ve known Chris Prynoski from Titmouse for quite a few years. I did some voices on a Metalocalypse episode called “Dethgov,” which was super-exciting for me because I’m a huge fan of that show. One of my characters is a redneck driving a truck at the beginning of the episode, look it up if you get the chance, it’s a hilarious episode! Titmouse does the animation for Metalocalypse and they also animated an amazing show on Disney XD called Motorcity. I did the voice of Junior for that show too, so Chris and I have had an awesome working relationship for a while now. We have a very similar sense of humor so Chris and Titmouse were the perfect people to bring this cartoon to life.

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There’s a marriage of styles on here. Animation and live action. Was that the idea from the start or did that come with “learnings,” as they say?
Richard Christy: Yes that was the idea from the start. Chris Prynoski is such a visionary and he had the awesome idea of mixing animation and live action and making the whole cartoon look like a hilarious acid trip. We actually filmed a lot of the green screen footage for the first episode about four years ago when I was about 50 pounds heavier, so it’s funny for me to watch the footage now and I love telling people that I gained 50 pounds for my role in Majestic Loincloth! Dicko Mather is an amazing animator who directed Majestic Loincloth and he also had so many funny ideas about using green screen to enhance Majestic Loincloth so I also have to give him huge thanks for his hilarious ideas for Majestic Loincloth.

Same with the Rugburn Channel. Did that come with the Chris Prynoski connection or from your links at Howard/Sirius?
Richard Christy: Yes that came from the Chris Prynoski connection. The Rugburn Channel has so much amazing content and great cartoons like Apollo Gauntlet, Dogsnack, and Axe Cop and I think it’s such an honor to be a part of the channel. I highly recommend that people subscribe to the Rugburn Channel because they have some amazing animation and hilarious content on there.

Any chance of Majestic Loincloth hitting Adult Swim? They air outlandish shit.
Richard Christy: That would certainly be awesome. I’m a huge Adult Swim fan so that would be super cool. Either way, I’m just so excited that this cartoon has been brought to life by Chris and Titmouse and our amazing director Dicko Mather. This is something that’s been in the works for about 11 years now and I can’t believe that it’s actually a full 10 episode cartoon series now. I’m just so happy that people can go onto the Rugburn Channel on Youtube and watch this silly creation that I thunk up 11 years ago.

So, you also write the music. What comes first: the music or the animation?
Richard Christy: The music, which I actually wrote with my buddy Jason Suecof from my band Charred Walls of the Damned. We wrote the music back when I lived in Florida and he was the perfect person to write the music for Majestic Loincloth with because he has a very silly sense of humor just like me. Jason has an amazing ear for melody and catchiness and we worked really hard to make these songs super-catchy and funny. I wrote all of the lyrics and story, and just tried to move the story along while also being silly and funny. Once the songs were totally finished and I had a full script to go along with each episode, that’s when the animation began. I totally trust Chris and Dicko and I told them to animate the series without showing me anything because I wanted to watch the final product and be surprised just like everyone else who watches it on the Rugburn Channel for the first time every other Thursday when new episodes come out!

And the writing is brilliant. Dumb but brilliant. What’s it like writing a Majestic Loincloth epi? I can imagine dick diagrams, fart puffs, and other juvenile shit on your whiteboard.
Richard Christy: Thank you so much! The reviews and comments on each Youtube page for each episode have been so positive and supportive which I’m really psyched about. I have a very childish and dumb sense of humor so I’m so glad that there are people out there who feel the same! When writing each episode I would first type out a skeleton of the script with the basic premise, then I would read the script along with the music and try to fit the story to the music. It probably took about seven rewrites for each episode before I felt like the story and the music flowed together really well and made a catchy song that also moved the story along.

Who is Viking Gunnar Steedhorn?
Richard Christy: He’s the studliest man in Studland and the hero of Majestic Loincloth. The look of Gunnar Steedhorn is based on a character I did in a cheesy low budget movie that I filmed in 1997 called T.-B.A.C.K. The Bare Assed Carnal Knight. You can look it up on Youtube on my Youtube Channel. I wanted Gunnar Steedhorn to be a lovable, studly buffoon. He has a heart of gold but he’s a little too full of himself and he does a lot of dumb things that get him into bad situations. Chris and Dicko did an amazing job of making the cartoon Gunnar Steedhorn look hilarious just like the live action Gunnar Steedhorn in the Majestic Loincloth short film that I did.

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And why is Orloff the Gravedigger such an ass?
Richard Christy: He can’t really help it because he’s a demon, and the only friendly demon that I know of is the one in that cheesy 80’s movie My Demon Lover (the most unrealistic demon ever), all other demons are jerks. Although Orloff is evil, he does have a fun side and loves to pull pranks and goof off, which I think makes him pretty likeable. He’s kind of like Ogre in Revenge of the Nerds, loveable but a dickweed at the same time. What really set off Orloff though is when Gunnar Steedhorn’s son Oliver started dating Orloff’s grandmother. Orloff couldn’t stand the thought of a young man banging his grandma, so he had to kill Oliver, which in turn set off Oliver’s dad Gunnar, and in turn created chaos in Studland.

You have 10 epis scheduled for Season 1. What’s the reality of a Season 2?
Richard Christy: I have my fingers crossed! I would love for Majestic Loincloth to continue. I already have Season 2 kinda mapped out just in case, so I really hope this happens. I even have a couple of songs written for Season 2 just in case. If there’s a demand for it and if people would love to see the story continue then there’s a good chance that there will be a Season 2. I’ve already had a lot of friends and metal heads tell me that they’d love to be a part of Season 2 if there is one so the pressure is on me! I would love to continue this because it’s been a blast working on Season 1 of Majestic Loincloth! It looks like we’re also going to release all of the music for Majestic Loincloth as an album after all 10 episodes are out so if the album does really well then there’s a good chance we’ll bring back another season, so I’m really hoping everyone out there checks out and enjoys the animated buffoonery known as Majestic Loincloth! Cheers!

Majestic Loincloth, Episode 1. HERE.

Majestic Loincloth, Episode 2. HERE.

Majestic Loincloth, Episode 3. HERE.

Majestic Loincloth, Episode 4. HERE.

Caught in a Moshpit Tragedy

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, free, listen On: Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Courtesy of http://www.doomcrustpunk.com

You like free stuff? Of course you like free stuff. Free stuff is pretty punk rock (not that I would know; I look like I should be listening to Coldplay or The National). Moshpit Tragedy have a whole slew of awesome crust, punk, hardcore, and grind, all available for “name your price” on Bandcamp or for free download from their website. You can explore killer releases from Total Fucking Destruction, Agrimonia, and Filthpact on your own time. This particular post is going to focus on the educational side of their program: reissues and compilations of three portentously-named, Hall Of Fame (or at least Lazarus Pit)-worthy bands, all of which should help you figure out exactly what the hell crust punk is. (Just click “download” on the Bandcamp widgets to, well, download the record.)

Doom – 25 Years of Crust

Not actually a doom metal band! I understand how that could be confusing, but I’m pretty sure these guys got to the name first. Although it’s hard to say that 15 tracks covering a quarter-century of recordings from a punk band that put out a LOT of material could be anywhere close to definitive, this is a pretty solid cross-section of Doom’s output. The band personally picked their most representative songs from various splits, compilations, EP’s, and full-lengths. While the recording quality varies significantly, the Discharge-inspired blasts of filth don’t. Political activists against your ears, Doom helped form the shape of punk to come – and they’ve been kicking it over since.

Misery – 20 Years of Misery

Another name I bet some Finnish funeral haunter would kill for, Misery (from Minneapolis) take a comparatively subtle approach to their crust. Whereas Doom plow ahead endlessly, driven by D beats and righteous anger, Misery take a lot of cues from outside styles – the apocalyptic postpunk of Killing Joke, Venom’s quasi-competent NWOBHM. There’s even stuff on here that sounds like Godflesh! Still punk, mind you, but with a much more pronounced metal influence. Honestly, that makes this compilation a much more dynamic listen, even if the band themselves haven’t wound up on quite as many back patches. Whether or not that Twin Cities were this hellish in the 80s, Misery make a pretty convincing argument that the metropolis was, in fact, south of heaven.

Phobia – Means of Existence

The sole nutcase on Encyclopedia Metallum who reviewed Phobia’s full-length debut claims that this is crust punk, not grindcore. He is wrong. So very wrong. Yes, there are some sections where the songs slow down to Discharge speeds, but otherwise it’s blast beats and shrieks all the way. Not that that’s a bad thing. Orange County’s finest grinder collective did get more intense later on, but this 1998 release may have been their most listenable moment. They did a fantastic job of combining the melodic brutality of crust with the high-speed suicide of grind. Despite signing with Relapse later on (and putting out some pretty fine albums), Means of Existence proves that, even in punk, variety ain’t a bad thing.

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Stream new Lair of the Minotaur

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

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Superlative sludge thrashers Lair of the Minotaur recently burst back out of the infernal regions brandishing the sick (and extremely limited) new seven-inch single Godslayer.

This morning guitarist/vocalist Steve Rathbone  chats with Decibel about the latter while we stream the former — the band’s first new material since the excellent Evil Power full-length in 2010.

What should people know about the Godslayer EP? How’re things, generally, in the Lair these days?

Rathbone: This is our ten year anniversary. We wanted to release something cool for the die-hards. The seven-inch is limited edition of three hundred, hand numbered. Just like our original demo we recorded in 2003. We got Tom Denney to do the cover art — the artist for Carnage, Ultimate Destroyer and the 2003 Demo. The new material is unrelenting heavy fucking metal. Just like the other stuff. Always working on new material, no deadlines set.We have been taking a break from touring. We have gotten many offers for tours and shows, but we have been declining them for a while now. We just wanted to take some time off to pursue other things. The new EP and the shows we just played have been like a break from the break. You never know though, we might show up at a fest here or there down the road.

Follow Lair of the Minotaur on Facebook.

INTERVIEW: Author Dayal Patterson on Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: featured, interviews On: Monday, May 13th, 2013

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A couple of weeks ago we told you that UK writer Dayal Patterson had finished off a 600-page history of black metal, Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult, a book that aimed to peel the corpsepaint off black metal’s sensationalist public image and look at how it started and how it got to where it is today. Evolution of the Cult is now available for pre-order here at a discounted price. Well here’s author Dayal on what it’s like trying to piece together the scene’s chaotic history without sexing up the controversy and focusing on the music.

Firstly, here’s something to set the mood . . .

STREAMING: Sight of Emptiness “Paradox”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Monday, May 13th, 2013

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Sight of Emptiness are the first melodic death metal act from Costa Rica. The six-piece are currently shopping their recently completed album, Instincts, to interested labels. Guest appearances include Christian Älvestam (AtomaA, Miseration), Glen Drover (Megadeth), Ralph Santolla (ex-Deicide, ex-Obituary), Ole Halvard Sveen (Lengsel), Whitfield Crane (Ugly Kid Joe), and the Costa Rican Minister of Culture, Manuel Obregón.

Introduce Sight of Emptiness to the world, please.
SoE: At the very beginning (2005), there was just Eduardo on vocals and Rod on drums making plans and coming up with a suitable name for the project. It all started as the first ever melodic death metal band in our country, influenced mostly by European bands. We evolve with every following release and lineup change to a sound that we consider our own. Rafael (guitar) and Esteban (bass) entered to write and release the second record (Absolution of Humanity – 2010) and finally, Andrés (guitar) & Gabriel (electronics) are the newest addition to the band. We all gave our best to write our 3rd and soon to be release new album Instincts. So far, we have been able to play in all sorts of venues and events in our homeland, anything from bars, small clubs to big festivals, stadiums and sharing the stage with Megadeth, At The Gates, Amon Amarth, Accept, Obituary and Living Sacrifice. We also played in Europe, including Bloodstock Open Air UK in 2007 (main stage) and 2012. Other memorable dates include venues at UK, Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Honduras and Nicaragua, and we are really hungry for more.

All of your albums are self-released. Is that more necessity than label interest or is there a bit of uncertainty towards Costa Rican metal bands from metal labels?
SoE: I guess all of the above. We understand that currently there are no Costa Rican bands signed to a major international metal label, so there are no precedents whatsoever and we might be perceived as a gamble. With record sales dropping in the digital era it is understandable how labels have to be hesitant, so we´ll just keep working harder and harder, because we are aware that we still have a lot to prove. We remain very positive, believing that some of them may come to realize the true value of this band when they clear their minds of any pre conceived notions, and give a fair chance to this new album, and let their ears find out the potential that a top Swedish producer and very well-known singers and guitar players from U.S., Sweden and Norway already felt on these new songs. This album has a 100 percent professional production and it was financed with great sacrifice by us, thanks to the unexpected great sales of the previous two albums, merchandise and tickets to our shows, so we can’t help but wonder what would happen to this new album with the right label handling promotion and distribution. We are sure that even Sepultura struggled more than other bands just for being from Brazil at the beginning, but they were able to prove to right the A&R who signed them and after that their uncommon nationality for a metal band became a very positive thing.

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Tell us about “Paradox.” Sounds more developed than your previous material.
SoE: The evolution of “Paradox” and the rest of the songs on our new album are the result of bringing on board an experienced Swedish producer (Thomas “Plec” Johansson) to take this to a new level. On the second album, we started to stretch our boundaries and add everyone’s influences. Now on our third album Instincts, with the current lineup, we decided not to care about genres and just focus on quality songwriting more than ever to find our musical personality. We are still a metal band and always will be, but we will leave tags and genres for music critics.

I hear the Costa Rican Minister of Culture, Manuel Obregón, plays on it. How’d you get Mr. Obregón involved?
SoE: The piano and Marimba you hear at the end was his contribution to this song. It all started at the backstage of a festival we played in early 2012 that included rock, funk, salsa, and pop bands. We were the only metal act and after our set he came to congratulate us. The best thing was that he proved to be really open-minded and admitted not knowing or understanding much about metal, but when he saw us play he perceived great musicianship and energy. We were so honored and humbled by his words that we kept in touch after that and when the invitation came, he accepted. There’s a beautiful Central American ethnic rhythm known as Tambito, and we decided to include it in “Paradox,” for it was one of the very first songs to be written for this album. It was an amazing and satisfying experience to get to play and record with him. Words can’t describe how pleased we are with the outcome.

When does the new full-length drop? How can metalheads get it?
SoE: The master of the album is ready, as well as the artwork; we are working on two new professional videos as we speak and on lots of other cool stuff to make sure we can deliver a great product to everybody interested in checking out a hard working band with a unique and solid sound, that doesn’t follow any trends or is afraid to experiment with different sounds. Get in touch with us if you are interested in releasing the album, signing the band, or booking shows. You won’t regret it. We won’t let you down. Anyways, if we don’t hear from anybody in a certain period of time, we would go ahead as usual and release it ourselves as professional as we can and make sure to cover the whole word through our official store on www.sightofemptiness.com.

** Sight of Emptiness’ new album, Instincts, is out soon via the band’s own distro channels if they don’t get a label deal. It’ll be available HERE shortly in such an event.

** Visit and LIKE Sight of Emptiness on Facebook. Click HERE.

Tales From the Metalnomicon: Marc Ciccarone of Blood Bound Books

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, lists On: Friday, May 10th, 2013

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Welcome to Tales From the Metalnomicon, a new twice-monthly column delving into the surprisingly vast world of heavy metal-tinged/inspired literature and metalhead authors…

Blood Bound Books first came to the Metalnomicon’s attention via Rock ‘N’ Roll is Dead: Dark Tales Inspired by Music — an exquisitely depraved, cleverly devised anthology which is not only dedicated to the immortal Ronnie James Dio, but also opens with a story based on one of the man’s greatest anthems, “The Last in Line” (!) Turns out the collection isn’t the only thing the gore-festooned underground publishing house has done right, either: Fans of hyper-charged, boundary-pushing extreme literature will find much to sate their fiendish appetites in releases such as American Guignol, Scarecrow, D.O.A. Extreme Horror, Blood Rites, and the Night Terrors series.

We asked Blood Bound Books owner/stalwart Metal Militiaman Marc Ciccarone to provide us a little insight into how he came to interweave his dual passions so impressively, a request he graciously obliges below alongside a list of five origin stories for chapters from Rock ‘N’ Roll is Dead. So crank some Dio and read on…

Lying, dying, screaming in pain,
Begging, pleading, bullets drop like rain.
Minds explode, pain sheers through your brain,
Radical amputation, this is insane…