How many extreme-minded riff lovers do you think headed to the Deciblog today for a treatise on classical piano composition? Not the standard purview of a magazine proclaiming the virtues of black-thrashing terror, I’ll grant you, but this spring Forbidden Records has brought us an album that, by all outward signs, should be a lo-fi Satanic hymnal but turns out to be 45 minutes of haunting, apocalyptic dirges for piano (and very occasional ambient flourishes). The project is called Goatcraft, a disturbing moniker – does it refer to the craft of building goats from other raw materials, or creating new exciting forms out of goats? – which would have trouble getting any more workmanlike in its appreciation of the dark arts. The album is called All For Naught – again, none more nihilistic. The cover art lays Old English font text over a black and white sketch of a lone goat atop craggy nighttime peaks. The promotional materials call the genre “necroclassical”. There are songs with titles like “Call Me Judas”, “Infinite Death”, and “Vestibule to the Abyss” (and, er, “Goats Will Riot”). The pianist making all the ebony (and ivory) racket is called Lonegoat. Lonegoat is from Texas. Okay, that last bit doesn’t quite spell frosty darkness, but Absu hails from the Lone Star abyss and you accept that just fine.
Enough trying to convince you that Goatcraft belong here. All For Naught is simply engaging music, layered with cascading (not Cascadian) melodies, persistent rhythm structures and dark tones. What initially sounds like the overenthusiastic pounding of a keyboardist who just hasn’t gotten around to learning the guitar yet opens up over the course of its dozen tracks to reveal an accomplished musician with a taste for majestic horror. I have a few piano-playing acquaintances with no interest in extreme metal who reluctantly gave All For Naught a shot, and they were very complimentary of what they heard. “I listened to that CD last night,” one such doubter told me in a low voice, all dry and grudging skepticism. “It was actually really good.”
The album is streaming at Bandcamp, and you can hear it right here from the Deciblog. We’d love to hear what other web-connected metal maniacs think of this music. Enjoy your very non-metal day!
I don’t exactly remember how I stumbled across Greenvans, but if Andrew Reitz had been offering the use of 15-passenger vans at affordable rates exclusively to touring bands, it would have made my touring life a fuck of a lot easier. I would have avoided doing month long tours in minivans out of necessity, for one thing. It’s about time there was a service that won’t nickel and dime you on milage or tear you a new one via claims of mandatory daily insurance, like most conventional vehicle renters, and actually understands a touring band’s needs, unlike most conventional vehicle renters. If you’re in a band and don’t already own your own touring chariot, here’s an introductory interview with your new best friend.
How did you get started in the van rental business? What were your humble beginnings like and how are things different today?
To be honest, Greenvans started out accidentally. In 2007, I bought a van and trailer for my band’s first full US tour (this was the band that eventually became Defeater). We toured for two months, it was a mild success, and then like every band that buys a van thinking they are going to tour all the time, I was left with a van sitting unused in my driveway. I thought about renting it out to bands, but I wasn’t comfortable letting strangers drive my baby. A few months later some friends in a band called I Rise were in a bind, they desperately needed a van, and I desperately needed some extra cash. I rented them my van for two weeks, and that was the beginning of Greenvans. My friend Anthony and I got together and started brainstorming about the possibility of starting a business around what was such an obvious need in a market that we both understood. We both had toured, so we knew first hand that finding affordable transportation as young band was next to impossible. We wanted to offer a service that so many bands needed but didn’t have access to because so few companies understood or cared about the needs of a touring band. From there it was a slow, uphill battle as we grew from one van, to two, to three, etc. We made a ton of mistakes early on, but learned important lessons that shaped the way our business works today. I wouldn’t say that it’s EASY now, but we have certainly gotten better at what we do. The only thing that’s different now is that we’re not fighting an uphill battle every day, only a few days a week.
Do you “get in the van” (c’mon, you knew it was coming!) much yourself anymore?
Haha, yeah. I get in the van whenever I have to. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to go on tour anymore, but whenever a van needs to get delivered to a customer and there’s nobody else around to do it, I have no reservations about putting on some music and cranking out a cannonball overnight drive. Anthony and I have made A LOT of trips across the country in the last 6 years for Greenvans. Some fun, some not so fun, but those trips always leave us with good stories.
Is there a story behind how you ended up with the name Greenvans?
We started out renting biodiesel and veggie oil vans, so we were primarily a “green” company. The first van that I bought was a diesel van I had converted to run on Waste Vegetable Oil. The original idea for the business came from renting WVO vans to bands so they could save money on fuel and take part in an eco-conscious initiative. Since then we’ve had to grow our fleet beyond just diesel vans and incorporate gas vans because of the demand. A lot of bands do prefer the basic gas option and we can charge a much lower rental rate for them.
What sort of client range do you have? By that, I mean who are some of the bigger names that have used Greenvans?
We work with everybody from small local bands doing weekend runs to full time touring bands. Every Time I Die, Terror, Parkway Drive, The Joy Formidable, H20, Unearth, Shadows Fall, The Chariot are some of the bigger bands that have rented vans from us. Oh….and Snoop Dogg. Not even kidding.
What does a band that isn’t based in proximity to your Massachusetts homebase have to do if they’d like to rent from you? I noticed you have a new location on the west coast. Any plan to get into the Midwest so as to cover as much of the country as possible?
We do whatever we can to make rentals work for bands who aren’t close to Boston. We’ll deliver a van anywhere….obviously the further you get from us the more expensive it gets, but we try to keep our delivery rates as low as possible. As long as we get fuel, tolls, transportation for the driver, and the driver’s pay covered, we’ll get a van to you. We just opened up a west coast office in Huntington Beach, CA this year thanks to our friend Chris at No Sleep Records. He’s been kind enough to let us share some of his office and parking lot space, though I’m sure he’s regretting it now that we’re actually using it. Chicago is on our radar for our next location, but we’re still a year or two away from making that happen.
What happens in cases where bands from other countries rent your vans? Do you have a staff of drivers on hand to drive bands who need help behind the wheel?
We don’t have a “staff” of drivers on hand, but we’re fortunate enough to be in a circle of friends that have a lot of tour experience. We have SO many friends that spend their lives on the road in bands, as TMs, merch dudes, drivers, whatever, and they are always eager to find other touring opportunities. I don’t have a hard time finding drivers for international bands. We don’t require all international bands to hire drivers, but it usually ends up being the easiest option. Sorting insurance can be a little difficult and expensive, but we know how to get it done if we have to.
What sort of maintenance do you have to perform on the vans in your fleet? Is there a certain scheduled point you take a van out of commission? What happens to the vans you no longer rent out?
Maintenance and safety are our most important concerns. We’re VERY serious about keeping our vans in excellent mechanical condition because bands have a high expectation for safety and reliability. Our shop spends most of its time (and our money!) on tires, brakes, oil and fluid changes, front end work, etc. All normal wear and tear items, but we also do more serious engine and transmission work from time to time to keep our vans lasting as long as possible. We usually run them to 150,000 or 200,000 miles before we take them off the road, at which point we either sell them at auction or to local dealers. Obviously things happen on the road, but one of those things that we’ve learned to deal with over the years, and have gotten quite good at, is going above and beyond to make sure bands don’t miss shows when something goes wrong. We’ve been in business for just over 6 years, probably logged well over 2 million miles on all of our vans total in that time, and I think only 5 shows have been missed because of mechanical problem. If a van breaks down and I have to put a band in a limo because it’s the only vehicle I can find to get them to their show, I’m going to do that. (and, yeah, I have.)
Obviously, Greenvans is different from the major name rental companies. But what makes Greenvans different from other indie companies?
There aren’t a lot of other independent companies that do what we do….honestly because it’s difficult, it’s expensive and it’s risky, but regardless, we LOVE what we do. I think I’m constantly toeing the line between being a small business owner trying to make a living, and a dude that used to be in a struggling band that wants to help other dudes in struggling bands. I couldn’t tell you specifically what makes us different from other rental companies in the music business, but compared to some of the standard rental companies out there I like to think that our customer service and the relationships we build with bands is what sets us apart. I enjoy interacting with bands, and I take great personal satisfaction when a tour goes well, and when something goes wrong that I can’t fix in a way that the band is happy with, I’m pretty disappointed, and that’s what drives me to be better at my job. My outlook on band life and touring is that successful bands put together good teams: They have managers, labels, booking agents, merch companies, etc that handle a lot of the hard work that goes into growing a band. I see Greenvans as part of that team for most of our customers, and it’s an important element that a lot of bands overlook. We’re really good at dealing with tour transportation, so it’s fun for us to be a part of a group of talented individuals working hard for something they believe in.
What vans/trailers do you have available in your rental fleet? I notice you have diesel and waste vegetable oil rentals available in addition to standard gasoline vans? How popular are you finding these alternatives to be?
All of our vans are Ford E350 15-passenger vans. We have a few trailers, 5×8, 6×10, and 6×12 sizes. The majority of our vans now are regular gasoline vans because Ford stopped making vans with diesel motors, so we started buying newer (2011, 2012) model year gas vans while we wait for Ford to reintroduce the diesel motor in it’s new models. We do still have a few diesel/biodiesel/waste vegetable oil vans that we rent out as well. These are good alternatives for bands that want to stick with an environmental initiative as well as save money on fuel on long trips. It’s not an option for everybody, most bands just want your basic, most familiar Ford 15-passenger gas van and above all else they want to spend as little as possible.
I also noticed you have a sponsorship option at reduced rates. Please describe what’s going on there?
The sponsorship program was a way for us to get creative in figuring out how to reduce our rental rates while still covering our operating costs. We partner up with various music industry related companies and wrap some of our vans with their ads. The companies get great exposure on the road and at shows, use the vans for their own events throughout the year, and in exchange bands can rent these vans for lower rates than the standard unwrapped vans. GHS Strings, Jensen Loudspeakers, Amplified Parts, Clayton Custom Pics are a couple of the companies we work with to keep our rental rates low for bands.
Without naming names (unless you’d like to), describe the worst condition one of your vans has ever been brought back in? Describe the biggest rental nightmare you’ve had to deal with? What happens in cases like these?
One of the biggest rental nightmares I’ve ever dealt with was a band that decided to leave a van at the Milwaukee airport without telling me….even though it was supposed to be returned to New York about 4 days earlier. I had one of our guys on his way down to meet the band and pickup the van. The band’s manager called about an hour before the meeting time and said they were stuck in a blizzard in Canada. Ok. That’s fine. Maybe it would have been cool if you called to tell us this earlier, but it is what it is. My dude headed home, I lined up another friend in New York to pick up later. So a day goes by, haven’t heard from them. I call the band, I call their manager, no answers. Two days later I got their manager’s assistant on the phone and he’s like “oh, are you calling to schedule the pickup in Milwaukee?” Um, no dude, I’m calling to find out where my van is cause it’s 2 days late and you’re supposed to be in New York, not Milwaukee. The assistant is just like “oh, yeah, the tour ends in Milwaukee, so that’s where the band is flying out of and that’s where we need the van picked up.” I have a momentary panic attack thinking I royally screwed this one up, so I go back through my email, I look at the routing they gave me, I check, check and double check all the rental dates that were confirmed, look at the contract, the invoice. Nope. I’m right, a one-way rental to Milwaukee was never discussed. These dudes basically stole my van for 4 days and just thought it would teleport itself back to Boston. I have to get somebody to fly to Milwaukee on a day notice and drive almost halfway across the country. When I sent the manager an invoice for the $1500 or so that it cost to retrieve, he emailed me all bent about how high the price for the pickup was and if there was anything I could do to give him a better deal. Needless to say I billed his card and wrote him a very friendly email explaining that he was an idiot.
What sort of goals do you have for the future of Greenvans?
We want to get better at what we do every day. Our biggest goal is to continue to grow our fleet and our brand name, but it’s most important for us to do that without sacrificing the level of customer service and attention to our customers that I think defines Greenvans. As long as we keep making progress and growing our company without losing sight of our original motivations, then we’re headed in the right direction.
By: dB_admin Posted in: featured, toursOn: Thursday, June 6th, 2013
by Kim Kelly
We’ve got a super-short drive today, so we wasted as much time as possible before hopping back in the van and firing up The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Josh brought along a bunch of brainless DVDs, so between those and Michael’s unwavering dedication to picking on Josh, it went quickly. Richmond is a great city and tons of awesome people call it home, so we were all really looking forward to the show, especially since hometown hessians Battlemaster were due to play. We killed off some time with gargantuan milkshakes and a badly needed Kroger run (we were all on the brink of scurvy), then sluggishly hauled everything through Strange Matter’s heavily-stickered doors and into a towering inferno. Summer in Richmond is no joke, and the lack of air conditioning dragged morale down a few notches (though we were very grateful for the healthy food they kindly stuffed down our grease-slicked gullets).
Lord Mantis hadn’t been able to squeeze onto the bill, so they were watching hockey somewhere near Philly while Cobalt carried on their Virginia campaign. A new local black metal band called Crater opened and Asheville’s Shadow of the Destroyer pummeled punters with a blast of cold, abrasive black metal before Battlemaster took the stage. Andy Horn is one of metal’s best frontmen, and his band’s bizarre world mix of sci-fi, fantasy and epic nerdery, coupled with blistering black/thrash, is always a joy to witness. The crowd ate it up, but thinned out as it got later and later. Technical difficulties plagued the somber acoustic interlude “Throat” and threw things off course for a few minutes, but the band quickly recovered, and the remainder of the performance went off without a hitch. We crashed at Tim from Forcefield Records’ place, ensconced in a circle of oscillating fans.
Phil ended up in the backseat with Michael and I today, and felt comfortable enough by now to open up about his job and his life with the Army. He’s a very private person, so details are unnecessary, but suffice it to say, he’s seen some insanely brutal shit and been through unfathomably intense experiences, especially during his time as an Army scout in Iraq. Phil’s a genuinely nice, respectful, trustworthy guy, and fixating upon his military career does him a disservice; his reluctance to talk about those things in interviews or to fans makes sense. He did mention, grinning, that he likes to blast Angelcorpse and Krisiun at his soldiers during training to keep them rattled, but beyond that, seems to keep his metal and military lives very much separated.
Now that he’s back stateside, he works as a drill sergeant. He wakes up at 3 a.m. every day, spends every waking hour making life miserable for new recruits, breaking them down and building them back up, turning snot-nosed high school kids into war machines. He’s done with work at 10:30 p.m., goes home to spend time with his family, then gets up and does it all over again. It’s a small miracle that he was able to take time off to do this tour; he put in the request three months prior, and is headed back to Georgia to get ready for work Monday morning. Half-joking, I asked him when he has time to sleep. “I, uh… don’t.” He was serious. As he said, his entire life is “family, music, Army.” There’s not much room for anything else, and that he’s carved out this week’s worth of time speaks volumes about the depth of his commitment to Cobalt. He keeps saying how humbled and appreciative he is that people care enough about their music to come and watch them play, but that he isn’t really enjoying the act of touring. You can tell that all he really wants is to be home with his wife and his Vlad Tepes records, but instead he’s here. One hopes that their fans can appreciate that kind of sacrifice, if nothing else.
He changed the subject soon enough, anyway, and just like that, we were back to chattering about farts and black metal. Baltimore traffic slows us down, then DC traffic does a real number on us, so we rolled up later than expected… to absolutely no consequence. The other bands were still loading in as we arrived, and the show itself didn’t end up starting ’til late, since “punk time” is alive and well in West Philadelphia. The Millcreek Tavern was an odd choice for this show, but we got to see the best new band in Philly, Hivelords, smear a gnarly blend of whacked-out doom and filthy black metal all over the joint, and a decent number of diehards stayed out to rage ‘til nearly 2 a.m. The band has really gelled by now, and seem totally comfortable onstage; it’s a shame I’ve got to leave them tomorrow, because those NYC dates will undoubtedly be the best yet.
Judging from what Phil’s said, this will be Cobalt’s first and last tour, so if you missed them this past week, you missed them forever. Cut ‘em loose, and watch ‘em fly.
While bands seem to really like doing these playlists, there is one theme that has become prevalent over the last 18 months: what gets listened to in the van while on tour. We’ve had the likes of Ufomammut, Intronaut, BATILLUS, Anciients and Kowloon Walled City (Side A of their list being my personal favorite) tell us about what helps them get through endless drives in what I can only imagine are constant tests of patience and endurance. As this week’s guest demonstrates yet again, what gets jammed in the van can sometimes be what you least expect. Fresh off the release of his band’s sophomore record Bloodlines, guitarist Joshua Durocher-Jones of Rhode Island’s Howl filled us in on what (at least musically) helps the quintet cope on the road. Feel free to listen along here.
The Atlas Moth–An Ache For The Distance (2011)
Our buds in The Moth are some of the best tourmates you can ask for and An Ache for the Distance is an utter masterpiece. It is so well written, layered and heavy, with the just the right amount of psych to really let you zone out and melt into the dash while driving through the middle of the country. To paraphrase from the title tack, we follow the open road.
Neil Young–After The Gold Rush (1970)
I am a giant Neil Yong fan and had a hard time picking one of his records because his discography has so many different styles and moods that you can always find one that fits your current state. That being said, there is something truly special about putting this record on first thing in the morning as you are about drive down the highway for hours on end.
The Fucking Champs–VI (2007)
This is another band whose entire catalog I worship. Their songwriting and use of harmonies have been major influences on my guitar playing over the years and their choices in tone and production continue to blow me away. Time flies on the road when you have a Champs anthem up all the way!
Ginuwine–Greatest Hits (2006)
[Vocalist/guitarist] Vincent [Hausman] picked up this CD along with D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar at Earshot Records in Charleston, South Carolina when our iPod tape adapter died. Sometimes you need to unwind after a long metal show and there is no better way to get everyone in the van feeling super smooth and sexy than putting on “Pony” and “In Those Jeans”, which just so happen to be back to back on this compilation. It may be possible that these were the only albums played in the van for the two days straight when we were on the hunt for a new adapter.
At The Gates–Slaughter Of The Soul (1995)
What can anyone possibly say about this album that hasn’t been said before? Without a doubt, the greatest melodic death metal record of all time gets many rotations in the Howl camp.
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats–Blood Lust (2011)
I found out about these guys and their first record not too long before our Spring tour and was excited to share it with the rest of the band. Their creepy vibe and incredibly catchy riff writing won the van over and Blood Lust was requested over and over again. I cannot wait for the new album Mind Control to drop as I’m sure we will be blasting it all summer on tour!
High On Fire–Blessed Black Wings (2005)
Never have we met a HOF album we didn’t like, but for whatever reason Blessed Black Wings is the perfect storm of pure fucking metal. From start to finish Matt Pike destroys his fret board and Steve Albini’s production works so well for this set of songs. When this hits the stereo there is no head left unbanged.
Taylor Swift–Red (2012)
Disposable female pop stars are a huge guilty pleasure of mine and Taylor Swift’s most recent album Red is filled with giant pop hooks. When I’m in the driver’s seat and controlling the iPod, I love to torture the rest of the dudes with a few tracks.
Crowbar–Sever The Wicked Hand (2011)
It was an absolute honor to open for Crowbar on the first Metalliance tour in 2011, and the monster that is Sever the Wicked Hand was brand new at the time. We would be moshing the van to it by day while watching Kirk and the boys blow our minds with jams like “The Cemetery Angels” night after night. It was the last tour we went on before locking ourselves in the basement to write Bloodlines and watching their crushing set for a month definitely impacted the writing sessions in the heaviest way possible.
Judas Priest–Painkiller (1990)
Of course every metal band blasts Priest, Maiden and Sabbath in the van and I don’t need to explain why. But it is also important to be well-versed in the classics because you never know when you might be confronted post-show by a venue’s Heavy Metal Karaoke. After downing a few pitchers, our own Timmy St. Amour has been known to bring the house down with his spot on Halford.
By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, listenOn: Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
For your streaming pleasure this Wednesday we have a new song from the Finnish black metal band Sacrilegious Impalement. It’s a smoker in 1349 fashion.
Stream “Down For Grim Lord” below and get in touch with the band here. Lux Infera is available from Woodcut Records.
More on the band, in their own words:
Formed: 2005 AMSG, in Lahti, FINLAND by Impaler Von Bastard.
First exhale was done in 2006 when Total Annihilation demo was released. Soon after that demo quickly sold out the band recorded their storming self-titled mini-album in 2007. 2008 saw the release of the misanthropic 7″ EP World in Ashes. In 2009, the band released their first full-length album Cultus Nex, which gained a lot of attention among the people over the world following underground black metal. In 2011, the band released the follow-up album, II – Exalted Spectres, which was once again a great proof of their increasingly stronger path.
In 2013, it will be time for the pearly gates to be punished again by an unholy pact with Woodcut Records, and yet another stab in the eyes of the holy, the third full-length Sacrilegious Impalement album, III – Lux Infera (which stands for “The Light of Those Down Below, the Dead”). Like a fist from Hell up the arse of the “king” up high, 9 songs from beyond the dormant realms to scar angels in their graves.
In spite of several changes in lineup within these years, Sacrilegious Impalement have grown stronger every year and through every release. The band’s rows contains or has seen members from Evil Angel, Exordium, Neutron Hammer, The Crescent, Urn, and Vitsaus among others, but the core of Sacrilegious Impalement is Von Bastard (guitars, main songwriting), Tooloud (bass), Revenant (drums) and the new vocalist/lyricist Wrathprayer. Known for their intense and fierce live rituals, Sacrilegious Impalement have played live in several notable shows, like in 2010 replacing Marduk as the headlining act at Firebox Metal Fest III, Armageddon fest (Lawless Darkness record release show) in London with Watain, Von, Nifelheim, Repugnant, etc., a tour with Finnish legends Black Crucifixion, and more many more to come.
I think I’ve said it before and I think I’ll have to say it again. Black metal, on the Deciblog, isn’t represented fairly. Why? I’ll leave that question up for Lord Belial (or one of his cronies) to answer. Nevertheless, the Deciblog needs more black. Whether it’s shiny black, flat black, or none more black, times like these—hot, humid, summer shit—need more fuel to Hell’s eternally burning fire. To help the Deciblog descend into the depths of darkness, we’ve enlisted Sweden’s Pest. Fresh off a one-album stint on Season of Mist, the Swedes have returned with full force on Poland’s Agonia Records.
New long-player, The Crowning Horror, is a spiked fist to the cross. While previous efforts recalled some of metal’s finest (Bathory, Celtic Frost, Kreator), The Crowning Horror plays the retro card with caution. It’s for certain a casket full of reckless abandon, but it’s not subservient to the gods of yesteryear. It has a presence. Like Watain. Like Tribulation. Only not like either band at all. Pest is direct. Ten merciless tracks of death, destruction, and leather. Burnin’ leather.
Some say Hump Day sucks. Not at the Deciblog. Hump Day is Pest. And Pest is Hump Day. Viva death! Viva Pest!
** Pest’s new album, The Crowning Horror, is out June 18th on Agonia Records. It’s available HERE. Or, find yourself shackled to a church pew with Torn Flesh’s Crux of the Mosh playing on endless repeat.
By: dB_admin Posted in: featured, toursOn: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
by Kim Kelly
As far as American black metal goes, Cobalt have got the market cornered on that classic “convoluted, vaguely threatening backstory” angle. The Colorado duo emerged in 2003 after the demise of Phil McSorley’s solo project, Grimness Enshroud, and quickly armed themselves with a sparse but jaw-dropping catalog. Through Cobalt’s raw, artful compositions and tendency to lay bare their own faults and demons, the concept of “war metal” finally shed its inherent flaws and became tangible, far removed from gas masks and goat worship. Their music’s visceral, innovative appeal won over underground ‘heads and critics alike, and at the height of the well-deserved furor over 2009’s masterful Gin, they disappeared. Multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder relocated to Brooklyn, whilst vocalist, lyricist and sometimes guitarist McSorley, an Army sergeant, shipped off to Iraq. All remained quiet on the Cobalt front until a few months ago. Panties were twisted, eyebrows were raised, and “Order Now” buttons were feverishly clicked as news of their first ever tour spread like wildfire, and a handful of dates popped up around their Maryland Deathfest performance. Once the dust from that already legendary gig had cleared, I hopped in the van Almost Famous-style to sling their merch, document the proceedings and keep the boys from killing each other.
It’s the first day of tour, and everyone is hung over except Josh Lozano, the straight-edge ’90s throwback (and Fashion Week/Man’s Gin/FAMILY member) who’s filling in on guitar. MDF is a cruel mistress at the best of times, and the usual pre-tour organizational scrum is hitting us hard. After a failed pub visit, misplaced equipment and some goat stew, we’re finally all present and accounted for, and are on our way to Pittsburgh’s Smiling Moose. There are five of us crammed into the van they’d rented from Batillus’ Fade Kainer, plus all manner of gear, backpacks and Josh’s seemingly endless supply of granola bars. He and Mutilation Rites’ Michael Dimmett (who’s filling in on bass) spend the next four hours bickering, while Erik and Phil hunker down up front with some Profanatica CDs and a Boyd Rice biography. A backseat viewing of The Waterboy commences, and, for now, peace reigns.
There are a lot of disparate personalities involved in this run, but somehow it works. Erik Wunder is always smiling and seems over the moon to be reunited with his oldest friend, Phil, who is unfailingly friendly and polite, if a bit reserved and wary. Josh is goofy and endearingly Eeyore-esque, which gives Michael, who’s armed with a rapier wit, churlish disposition and seasoned DIY background, plenty of ammunition for backseat squabbling. Everyone else has done time on the road before, but for Phil, this is his first touring experience and a rare vacation from his grueling military duties. While he’s unquestionably a billion times tougher than any of us will ever be, it’s very different from his regimented schedule – after all, deriving order from chaos is the name of the game – but he seems up for the challenge.
The Smiling Moose is a small club at the top of a rather intimidating flight of stairs. The promoter, a nice young dude named Jon, helped us haul everything up and apologized profusely for the lack of drink tickets, then Lord Mantis rolled up and tour started feeling like tour. The show went well; despite the Melvins’ playing across town, there was a respectable amount of people there to be happily harangued by Lord Mantis’ disgusting black tar sludge and McSorley’s manic, blood-smeared attack. Someone unsuccessfully offered me heroin, but besides that, it was a pretty sober night. The first of many broken microphone stands was left behind as we loaded out into the rain and dithered over sleeping arrangements. A Primanti Bros run was deemed essential, and, bellies groaning, a jumble of us packed into the Chicago dudes’ hotel room and got snuggly. Phil stretched out on the floor while the rest of us figured out how to fit six people into two beds and a rollaway camp bed. We already smell terrible.
Hot dogs, an honest-to-fuck beer cave (!), and Lord Mantis’ ritualistic bestowal of the storied “poop shirt” upon Erik and Phil started off Day 2 on a high note. Michael won’t shut up about how awesome the Ethiopian food is at the Harrisonburg venue, the Blue Nile. The rest of us are skeptical, but it turns out he was right (I’m a five-year-old and demurred, but everyone else licked the communal plate clean). A few tense moments erupted after Erik discovered he’d lost his bag somewhere; the grinding stress of touring has a knack of magnifying little problems into BIG FUCKING PROBLEMS, but everything sorted itself out eventually. The venue was small but welcoming, as was the audience itself, and the bill for tonight was stacked sky-high. Earthling and Inter Arma both kill it, of course, and while the crowd seemed confused during Lord Mantis’ set (what about a scruffy tattooed beast-man snarling “I smell your pussy” is hard to understand?), the troops rallied for Cobalt. Erik’s love of Tool is becoming more and more obvious as he loosens up behind the kit. The band’s getting tighter, and more comfortable. The machine’s clanking into gear. There’s blood in the air tonight.
The scabs on Phil’s forehead get gnarlier every day, and another microphone stand bites the dust. Watching him onstage in tiny venues like this is exhilarating, and a bit frightening; he radiates tension, visibly grappling with his own rage and hate, clutching at his head and screaming at the sky like it’s listening.
Rumors of a party and promises of a place to crash found us chasing our own tails across town. We ultimately escaped the stoned confusion of it all to beat a hasty retreat to Waffle House and cram into another cheap hotel room. Seven bodies, one room, and a lot of dirty socks is either the premise for the lamest porno ever…or a Cobalt/Lord Mantis slumber party.
Your friends at Decibel have teamed up with A Pale Horse Named Death to entertain you this summer. We’ll be hosting a blog series for the next five weeks detailing production of a video for their new album Lay My Soul To Waste and premiering the “DMSLT” video at the end.
In the first installment, video director Aaron Beaucher gives us the story behind the project. Images follow after the post. Enjoy and get in touch with the band here.
When I was first approached by A Pale Horse Named Death (APHND) to conceive some ideas for a music video for their sophomore release Lay My Soul to Waste, I was pleasantly surprised by their openness and collaborative spirit. Thanks to an introduction made by a mutual friend, APHND frontman Sal Abruscato contacted me early one Saturday morning to discuss the video project, and I was really relieved to learn how down-to-earth and real he was. He was very open about his artistic perspective, which helped to round out some of my ideas for how to visually convey the story of the song. As a fan of Sal’s work with Life of Agony, I knew I wanted to shoot a dynamic performance piece, and Sal was intrigued by the stop-motion animation that permeates our studio’s website at neo-pangea.com, so he wanted to include animation in this video.
We talked about a few tracks on the album and decided to shoot “DMSLT” so that we would be able to enhance the live performance footage with animated effects in time to align with the release of the track. The song has a heavy focus on personal demons, the world around us being total shit, and wanting to end it all. Lyrically, it’s very bold, so I wanted to take a more metaphoric, subtle approach to the theme visually. Without giving too much away, the concept involves taking key points within the edit that we will print out and reshoot using chemicals, then reapplying them as overlays on the footage – something we will definitely document in greater detail in later posts.
The band had a bit of a long haul down to Philly for the shoot, but they came ready to rock. Matt Brown wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and help out with sound on the set to get things just right. APHND is definitely a blue-collar, hard-working band, and once the music started blasting and cameras started to roll, they really came alive.
A lot of great digital camera technology has developed during the past decade. I have been shooting primarily with a Canon EOS 7D for the past few years, and we used it for a majority of our shots. Since GoPro cameras are so small and mountable, we did some creative mounting and captured some great footage from guitar necks and cymbal stands. Johnny kept knocking the card out of one of the GoPros we mounted on the snare, so I had to risk losing a finger by holding it in my hand.
By noon, the guys had switched from coffee to Pabst Blue Ribbon, and we had gone from tripods to handheld cameras for the remainder of the shoot. By the end of the day, I think the guys were glad to see the crew sweating just as much as they were. Be sure to check back next week for another glimpse behind the horse!
We asked Toronto’s premiere purveyors of “true, unadulterated heavy metal” Cauldron to keep tabs on the havoc and devastation left in the wake of the band’s epic America’s Lost tour and dudes did not disappoint. Part I lives here. Part II is posted below. Purchase the excellent Tomorrow’s Lost here. A handful of remaining dates are posted at the end of this entry.
Carrying on from the first half of our adventure, Cauldron set its sights on Western Canada and the United States. While en route to Edmonton we stopped to gas up in Lashburn, Saskatchewan. We piled out of the van and were met by a couple standing outside the station, smoking. Using their powers of observation they asked us one of the daily questions we received all tour — Are you guys in a band? Other questions frequently asked — Have you ever watched trailer park boys? Have you seen the movies Fubar and Fubar 2? Did you know that you’re really tall? Anyway, we decided to have a little fun and replied with a round of sarcastic No’s. The lady was persistent and kept asking what our band was called. Ian turned around and barked “Nocturnal Mortuary!!!” which nearly knocked her backwards. Mildly annoyed she said, “You guys are lying to me! You guys are playing in Edmonton tonight aren’t you? Well so are we” — they happened to be in a band, too — “and we’re gonna tell our friends not to go see you play.” To which Jason replied “Good ’cause we’re sold out anyway!” Then we drove off before they could cut our break lines.
Lantern are a two-man death metal band from Kuopio, Finland, whose debut LP, Below, is the sort of warped and twisted 40-minute head-trip that should be mother’s milk to all those Decibangers who were weaned on the impenetrable darkness of bands such as Demilich and Demigod. Formed by a surprisingly mellow dude with a a reassuringly brutal nom de guerre , Cruciatus, with Necrophilos on vocals, Lantern are old-school in ethos, with the necro atmosphere always trumping the brutality of the jam. But don’t mistake Lantern for some by-the-numbers NWOSDM revivalist act.
Taking cues from ’70s prog, Cruciatus isn’t afraid to take Lantern off-piste, with weird atonal passages and half-riffs that mutate over the course of a seven-minute song. There are hooks, then moments where Below sounds like the haunted cousin of Deicide’s Legion. Below is released on June 25th through Dark Descent. Check it out below.
Here is the Lantern’s keeper of the flame, creator-in-chief Cruciatus on the making of Below.
This is your first full-length record, and judging from your Subterranean Effulgence EP, Lantern’s sound has become more epic and more abstract.
I know! Subterranean Effulgence was more like this compilation of so-called neat tracks but this is like all greenery and rambling, like you said, very epic, almost like one 40-minute long song. I don’t know—it just turned out like that, naturally, and I thought that people might think that it is too weird for an album but so far the response has been pretty nice.
Better being too weird than too normal. But the name, Lantern, is abstract in itself: How did you come up with it?
I dislike all those very brutal names, and I wanted to give the listener something to think about; Lantern has all these different philosophical meanings, like illuminating the darkness and all that. It just sounded right, at the start when I cam up with that name, and at the moment that I came up with the name I came up with the logo and everything just clicked.
The name can be as weird as you like so long as it looks good as a logo, right? But the philosophical meanings behind it, do they allude to the fact that lanterns are only used in the darkness and even then hardly light things up that much—there is plenty that is left in the darkness. Is that alluding to the music itself, that a lot of it leaves something to the imagination.
Yeah, you understood it correctly. It’s not like showing everything immediately; it’s about shedding the horror slowly and what’s half-hidden in the darkness.
Cruciatus and Necrophilus’ pre-Lantern DM band, Cacodaemon:
How would you put Lantern into context with Cacodaemon? Does this feel like it’s completely a different beast, musically and thematically? Yeah, I think of Cacodaemon as an apprenticeship of sorts. It was much more chaotic than Lantern. Lantern is more subtle . . . Or you could even say sophisticated. I don’t know, maybe it is more controlled nowadays; it is not as rowdy. When I ended Cacodaemon and started with Lantern I didn’t actually know what sort of music would come out of this. We jammed out the first demo in the studio, and I didn’t know how our vocalist would sound with all of this. You know the fourth song on the album, “Manifesting Shambolic Aura”? That was the first Lantern song ever written, and that was literally chanted out; I just had a few ideas, everything came together naturally.
Does that one have special significance to you?
Yeah, I guess so. The name Lantern is mentioned in the lyrics, and it started it all. It was a manifesto for my musical continuation, uhh, so to say.
It sounds like genres outside of metal have as much of an influence on Lantern as traditional death metal.
Yeah, strangely enough, ‘70s progressive rock started to creep in to my composing when I started with Lantern. That’s one of the notable influences. And with Lantern, I let all these maybe stranger influences run a bit more freely than before. I didn’t really Cacodaemon was more old-school and traditional; Lantern isn’t bound to anything. I do whatever I want, and that’s where the Lantern sound comes from.
Which bands in particular were influencing you? Mercyful Fate have always been important, and from the progressive side, you could say that Camel, even Yes, and bands like that—usually, the influence is compositional, like how you can do things differently. It’s not like it’s a direct progressive rock influence but more about how you can compose it . . .
What’s the writing process like? Usually it’s very slow. I write some riffs and take it from there. I’ll return to them and decide what’s good, what’s bad, and usually I’ll write the lyrics at the end. I write it all myself, at least for now. Our rhythm guitarist who plays at our gigs [St. Belial] offered to give me some riffs but maybe that’s a project for the future, I don’t know. I’m such a dictator; I like doing things by myself, and Necrophilus let’s me do all the work for him! Before this interview, I was writing some new riffs, and usually I have these song titles or themes that I write in my notebook, and build the atmosphere around them, sometimes just a couple of words that inspire me, and usually Lantern songs take about half a year to be completed but some of these songs came together in a day, like “Demons in my Room”. I have been recording everything myself but I have been thinking about getting some help [with the production] because it is a pain in the ass to compose, record and mix everything yourself.
It might start with a riff, or those ideas—the themes, key words—that you put down in your notebook, but with Lantern, is the emphasis more on the atmosphere of the song than the actual physical riff?
Yeah, I’ve said on many occasions that atmosphere comes first and foremost to me in music, sometimes at the expense of the riffs. To create the proper atmosphere is the key thing to Lantern’s music.
Most death metal bands champion the riff over everything else, and you’re kind of the opposite. Are you comfortable with being labelled a death metal band?
Hmm, yeah, it’s mostly death metal. But it has so many black metal elements as well, so it’s hard to tell. But I guess it’s okay to label us a death metal band, most of the time. It’s a tough one . . .
But it doesn’t matter so much anyway. Do you find that with extreme music the boundaries are coming down?
Yeah. Actually, someone said a huge compliment on Facebook, just a few weeks ago, saying that Lantern sounds like some of the bands from the early ‘90s, like when the boundaries were really thin and you didn’t care if you were black metal or death metal, you just played good music and that was all that counted. I think that was a really good compliment, to say that we were returning to the age where it doesn’t matter which category you belonged to. I guess it doesn’t matter as much any more.
Who has been exciting you lately in metal? Desolate Shrine are absolutely fucking great. Finnish friends’ bands, you get to follow them really closely. But I’ve been listening to Aesoth and Ascension, and some of these black metal acts are really exciting. I’ve discovered black metal again. I’m trying to think who else—Horrendous, their album, The Chills was absolutely brilliant. Black metal has shown more potential for me recently than say a few years ago. I was on hiatus from black metal for some time, and concentrated on death metal more. I don’t know if there is a renaissance going on but there are a shit-load of good bands. The scene is definitely not dying.
You’ve played a few live shows now, how does it feel to bring Lantern to the stage? It’s really great, actually, and we want to play much more, and maybe outside Finland if that is possible. We’ve played four times now and it’s progressing. I think we’re becoming a really good live band, like some songs are much better live than on the recording, especially with the EP songs, like “Revert the Living into Death”, you really want to start banging your head in rehearsals when you are playing that end part. When we started I had no opinion on whether we should play live or not, but after a few years we just started having this idea that we should play live. We didn’t originally design Lantern to be a live band; we just wanted to record something and try some things out.
Has it helped you that it’s taken you a bit of time to get this album out? Has it helped you develop your sound?
Yeah, it’s been very important. Like I say, the first demo was almost half improvised—that was like a testing ground—and the EP was maybe closer to our sound on Below but the album’s sound determined what Lantern was going to be. We wouldn’t have been Lantern if we had recorded an album in the first two years, I guess. We had to have those four years before we started to record the album. It was vital, I’d say.
Lantern sound like a band who will change with each release. What would you like to add to your sound?
The thing with Lantern’s music, and hopefully the listener will think so too, is that we haven’t repeated ourselves. The songs are different, and I’d like to continue that. I’d like each song to be different, and it feels like that trend is continuing with the new stuff and with the new writing. It will be different but still Lantern.
The way you finish the album, with the epic “From the Ruins”, suggests that you’re going to open it up and go even more epic in the future.
Yeah, I have some seven-minute songs coming up, so I think that is going to be a standard length for Lantern’s music. But still, “From the Ruins” is on a different level. That is a very special Lantern song. I like to give the songs a bit of air, and I still improvise in the studio. I let them grow once I’ve finished the drum tracks, when I’ve finished the guitar tracks, and I may not have a complete song when I enter the studio so there is always the space for jamming out.
What is it that binds Finnish death metal together? If there is one quality consistent with Finnish DM bands is that, more or less, they’ve got their own sound.
There’s something in that drinking water, and Demilich come from the same town as us, and Antti is a brilliant friend of ours. Everyone says Lantern sound quite different but the same on other levels. We’re doing things our own way, and that’s the key element of Finnish death metal, at least for the old bands and the new old-school bands, like Desolate Shrine and all of these bands.
There is a lot of mysticism in the lyrics—what themes did you want to express? Well in death metal, usually people write lyrics about killing and all this gore, but I think death and dying and killing are three different things. What inspires me most is my near-death experience from 1999. I almost died of hyperthermia, and that’s a really personal experience for me and I started to think about death differently. And I dunno, I’m trying to express that through music. But it’s not all serious pondering about death. Some of the lyrics are like old Italo horror writing, or H.P. Lovecraft-type horror.
How near was near death? I’d say I was an inch before from being ready to die. My body temperature was at the limit for surviving. But, yeah, I was young back then and you can get a little bit [stupid] . . . It had something to do with alcohol. We were just hanging out with some friends and I passed out, and they didn’t help me as much as I should have, and luckily I survived . . . And hopefully learned my lesson.
Do you have any theories about what happens after death? I believe that it doesn’t end here, like life is something that the human doesn’t understand, all of theses planes of existence. I think that death is more than just the decaying. But I don’t know what that is, like I say the human mind can’t comprehend everything.
Did it change your perspective on life? I guess so, it is one of those things that I cannot express in words directly, but I think that I have been thinking quite differently about existence after that. I think spirituality in the music is important because it is a grounding for yourself to contemplate things, and think about life and death and even understand somethings about yourself through writing your own music. That happens to me occasionally, like I’ll write some strange lyrics and then understand the meaning of them a few years later.