Decibrity Playlist: Saint Vitus Bar

By: zach.smith Posted in: featured, interviews, listen, lists On: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

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If you live anywhere near NYC and love extreme music, hopefully you’ve had a chance to check out Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn. Once you find and step through the black doored entrance, not only does the front bar offer a wide variety of drafts and specials, but the back room hosts some of the best shows the city has to offer (Goatwhore played earlier this week, Nails headlines tomorrow). Once the show’s over and last call hits, it’s high time for everyone to hit the old dusty trail…that is, unless you’re an owner–two of the three also happen to be in Primitive Weapons–in which case it’s time to put on some tunes.

As co-owner Arthur Shepherd tells us, “The process of closing up after a busy night at a rock bar/venue on the outskirts of the world’s hippest neighborhood is a very personal experience strictly dictated by the whims of the employees who have most likely been there for over 12 hours. We like to create a playlist that encourages even the most oblivious of late night customers to realize that their night here at our bar is now over. Because we are inundated with the heavy and loud on a daily basis, we naturally tend to lean towards the mellower side of life in these situations, but there are different techniques. Back in the day at our other jobs, before metal became cool again, we would often put on extreme stuff like Deathspell Omega to get people out, but that began to backfire as trends changed. These days I go for a gradual change. Drunk people hate to think, so you start with prog rock, move to the yacht, and finish with Beatle solo work (or related/soundalikes such as Badfinger or Emitt Rhodes). You can also just go for shock value…say Assück straight into the Indigo Girls. Regardless, this list represents the most common musings of the weekend staff.”

You can check out a calendar of upcoming shows here and feel free to listen along here. Lest we forget to mention, if running a bar wasn’t cool enough, Shepard and company also started Sacrament Music.

Yes–Tales From Topographic Oceans (1973)
Yes’s “Changes” (from 1983′s 90125)
My favorite band of all time, Yes, is my only true religion. Luckily I have fellow progressive rock fans employed at the bar to join me and savor in this grandeur. “Close to the Edge” is a good starter, but there is nothing like a song off of Tales From Topographic Oceans to really drive the point home to the drunken masses. The classic Yes moment is [co-owner] George [Souleidis] and I arguing at 5am over the time signature of the opening of “Changes” off of 90215. It’s a part George! There’s no specific time signature. Well, I guess there has to be a time signature.

talesYes - 90125 (1983)

Pink Floyd–The Final Cut (1983)
Floyd is sheer perfection. A few of the employees and I bonded on the very controversial (at least amongst fans) The Final Cut LP, so that one is a common, albeit a very, very melancholy, choice. The place is usually empty by the time we get to “When the Tigers Broke Free”, a track about the death of Roger Waters’ father in WWII that was added to the remaster/reissue in later years. I could talk about the importance of Pink Floyd for hours and usually do at 5am. Customers should consider themselves lucky to be gone already.

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Rush’s “The Big Money” (from 1985′s Power Windows)
Those who have experienced a true Rush-a-thon at Vitus should consider themselves blessed. Where else outside of Canada can you drink shitty canned beer and listen to the greatest rock trio of all time? If this goes on during closing, it’s usually strictly for my listening pleasure. I prefer ’80s Rush when working. Closing up while listening to “The Big Money” just makes sense. I never smile, but George has always said that the easiest way to make me happy is put on Rush. It also scares any and all females out of the bar.

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Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” (from 1972′s Can’t Buy A Thrill)
Let’s set sail. Onto the Yacht! This is an old tradition for us. I love Steely Dan. Every song is brilliant. I like to play the “who played on this song?” game. If I gotta pick one, it’s “Do It Again”. The yacht rock delves into all sorts of ’70s greatness. I guess Hall & Oates and The Doobies need a shout out as well.

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Paul McCartney’s “Another Day” (1971)
In my very strong opinion, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath invented every musical genre by 1972–the only thing that changed was technology. Let’s face it, McCartney created pop music. He created it, rewrote it and reinvented it through out his career. I’m a big fan of the song “Another Day”, which was a leftover from the Let It Be sessions. It has six choruses and it’s classic story telling McCartney. Mundane, everyday life in post war Britain never sounded so timeless. We have been through every phase: Harrison, Lennon, Badfinger, ELO, Emmit Rhodes, you name it. Deep, late night conversations about the songwriting nuances of the masters is fuckload of fun.

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Runner Up:

Roy Harper–Stormcock (1971)
It’s folk, it’s prog, it’s got Jimmy Page all over it. ‘Nuff said. Listen to it.

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*Check out more about Saint Vitus Bar here.

**We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:

Coliseum
Woe
Anciients
Soilwork (Dirk Verbeuren) (Björn Strid)
Intronaut
BATILLUS
Inter Arma
Helen Money
Misery Index
Ancient VVisdom
Holy Grail
Rotten Sound
Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2)
Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2)
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Early Graves
All That Remains
Bison B.C.
A Life Once Lost
Fight Amp
Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander)
Vision of Disorder
Grave
Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Dawnbringer
Ufomammut
Shadows Fall
Horseback
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Torche
“Best of” Meshuggah
Astra
Pallbearer
Barren Earth
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)

Jim Van Bebber on Metal, Part 2

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

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Jim Van Bebber’s audacious underground masterpiece The Manson Family recently finished its first proper domestic screening run in a decade. The following is the second half of our lengthy interview with the underground director (read the first half here). In this installment: rejection in Hollywood, Philip Anselmo and modern music.

*****

When did you decide to move to Los Angeles?

Let me tell this to you straight. Any filmmaker, if you are in Peru or in Las Vegas, you want to go to Hollywood and try. Everyone wants to throw their shit up against the wall. I thought I was worthy (laughs). Old Jimmy Van Bebber is coming out, what do you think of that! Well, they didn’t think too much, to put it mildly (loud laughter). The whole time I was there was torture. It was terrible. Finally, I wised up and realized I could do the hamster wheel my whole life or control my own shit like I used to. So I decided to go back to shooting my own films.

Did you get any meetings or did your films just scare the shit out of people?

I had plenty of meetings with would-be agents and they all were terrified. Everyone was fucking terrified. They thought I was a bomb and just didn’t know what the fuck to do with me. The only friend I had in town was Sage Stallone. Thankfully, he had my back a lot of the time. Otherwise, I would not have lasted as long as I did.

Do you remember any meetings that were a complete disaster?

Plenty, which do you want to discuss?

The worst?

There was one meeting with a Paradigm agent. This guy had my tape. I said ‘hey how’s is going?’ And he said ‘Jim? I didn’t know what was going to walk through the door.’ (loud laughter). I knew it was over then. Whatever. What a fuckhead. Fuck em’ all. They haven’t even seen the cusp, y’know what I mean?

In the 90s bands like Carcass, who are completely rooted in the underground, were signed to major labels. It didn’t go well either.

I’m not going to wait for people to catch up just like Carcass. Hey, do you want to talk about Philip (Anselmo)?

Sure.

Well, Decibel is the last heavy metal mag in America, goddamit. So you are the only people I will talk to about Philip.

Tell me about your relationship.

We met around 1994. A director hooked us up and put us together. He invested in my movie and after that he was just the best friend. Pantera would come around and I’d get on the bus with them. He’d be like “bring your toothbrush, motherfucker.” I’d stay out with them for two to three weeks. He gave me shots to direct every band he ever did. I love the guy. He’s a trusted friend. He really kicked it in on The Manson Family. He gave me like 80 percent of the music.

What’s the status of your cut of the Down tour video?

I made my version which I call the director’s cut, which has leaked around. But guitarists sometimes think they are a better Orson Welles than you are. So they recut the motherfucking thing. The version that is out there sucks. Pepper (Keenan) had his own editors. Look, man, my version rocks. If you want to see Down in Europe in 2006 find the bootleg.

What are you listening to lately? Black metal?

(laughs loudly). What am I listening to these days? A lot of Cream, Vanilla Fudge and The Grateful Dead. I don’t pay attention to the new guys except for Phil’s shit. He’s the last Mohican. Is anyone good? Not really. It’s pretty frightening. It’s crap to the point where it kills you and you don’t want to listen. Maybe I’m not listening hard enough because I end up going back to Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix.

What’s happening with the documentary on your life? (Diary of A Deadbeat)

I think it will be finished sometime this summer. I have no control over it. I did my piece and I showed up and yelled and cursed.

What was it like to have your life under a microscope?

Anyone who wants to know about my shit – it’s available. Just Google my name. You have to live with knowing where you fucked up. But hey man, this is the life I’ve chosen.

I think the world needs your crazy vision.

I can’t wait for you to see Gator Green, brother.

Listen to Pig Destroyer’s Flexi From the 100th Issue Show

By: andrew Posted in: featured, flexi disc, gnarly one-offs On: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

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If you didn’t make it out to Philly for our much-ballyhooed (BALLYHOOED, I TELL YOU) 100th Issue Show, you didn’t get a free, limited-edition flexi from that evening’s penultimate performers, the mighty Pig Destroyer. Silver lining: It’s now streaming right here for your listening pleasure. See, even though you were too cheap and lame to be there for the show of the millennium, we extend our pity in the form of total awesomeness. You’re welcome.

Even though that slice of rare grind goodness isn’t available for purchase, you can still commemorate the 100th Issue Show with our very, very Decibel (i.e. arcane and smart-assed) limited edition shirt. There aren’t many left, so hit it now. You need a new look for MDF anyway.

Life to False Metal 2: Live Falser

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, listen On: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

hexvessel - pic by Samu Salovaara

It’s been a few months, I’ve posted about appropriately metal things – I’ve earned myself a break from the death metal mines. Luckily for you, the three people that don’t close the page when they see my byline, some of the stuff I listen to when I’m giving my ears a break is just close enough to what this magazine covers to warrant a mention. Here are some of my current favorites.

Barn Owl – V (Thrill Jockey)

I tackled these guys’ last descent into droning madness in the pages of the magazine, but since then they’ve left the desolate plains of earth and launched themselves into the void. This is what I imagine it sounds like when you’re trying to fall asleep on one of the giant spacecraft in the Alien universe: all pulsing engines, the empty roar of space, the faraway ambient sounds of a Hollywood composer foretelling your doom. They call it “doom dub,” but that’s not quite right. I think “cosmic horror” sums it up better: when you stare into the abyss, sometimes it’s hard to tell if the abyss is staring back or if you’re just starting to go crazy. Pretty grim, but in a strangely relaxing way.

Buy it here!

Circle – Six Day Run (Ektro)

Circle have released approximately a thousand things since their formation 22 years ago, but they live in Finland – what else do they have to do but record music and drink to heroic excess? Their material ranges from hard-edged post-rock to driving Krautrock jams, and their latest EP definitely falls into the latter category. The soundtrack to a short film documenting an attempt by runners to see how many miles they can log on a one-mile circular (appropriate!) track over the course of six sleepless days, the relentless rhythm and intense guitar make the film seem way more exciting than it probably is. At the very least, they lock into the insane focus of the participants. Load this onto your iPod and play on repeat at the gym! You’ll still be a pussy compared to the marathon men, but it’ll at least make your ellipticals feel more badass.

Buy it here!

Hexvessel – The Iron Marsh (Svart)

Finnish forest folk! Whatever that is, these dudes dig Satan and non-guitar stringed instruments, so I’m down. I think it’s basically their way of saying that this is throwback late 60s/early 70s psychedelia, reminiscent of early Pink Floyd or Coven. Guest singers from like-minded metal-adjacent bands Purson and Blood Ceremony give this a little more credibility (and some welcome estrogen), plus there’s a Yoko Ono cover just to confuse you. It’s a mini CD, so it can only soundtrack a fairly short pagan ritual. You may wonder how many more soundtracks to archaic pagan nature rituals you really need. Well, turns out you need another one!

Buy it here!

EXCLUSIVE: Vektor-Scion A/V video premiere

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews, tv On: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

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So, this is pretty cool.

Decibel has teamed with Scion A/V to offer our fine blog readers the first peek at a new interview and performance video featuring sci-fi metallers Vektor. The footage was shot during the recent Scion A/V Earache Records showcase.

Per what you’d expect from Scion A/V the video is immaculately shot and produced. The exclusive premier is available below. You can also download a new Vektor EP via Scion A/V.

Get in touch with Vektor.

“Bloody ‘ells!”: Cauldron Tour Diary Part 1

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: diary, featured On: Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Jacuzzi

We asked Toronto’s premiere purveyors of “true, unadulterated heavy metal” Cauldron to keep tabs on the havoc and devastation left behind in the wake of the band’s epic America’s Lost tour and dudes did not disappoint with the diary below.

Remaining tour dates are listed at post’s end. Purchase Cauldron’s excellent Tomorrow’s Lost here.

David “Rock” Feinstein

We kicked off the tour with a stop at Hollywood Restaurant in Cortland, New York — sort of a tradition for us at this point as we stop in everytime we’re passing by. The food is excellent but the main reason we go there is because we’re big fans of The Rods and David ‘Rock’ Feinstein owns the place. Five minutes into our meal the man himself pulls up a chair and starts shooting the shit with us and sharing some cool stories. David said that the meal was on the house and proceeded to give us the royal tour of his studio, gear and the Rods rehearsal space and loaded us up with some cool merch. Rad time, thanks so much David, the night lives to rock!

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Ian’s Ritual Start of Tour Hangover

Upon arrival in Brooklyn we met up with our host, Nick and got some serious drinking done. He took us to a bar down the street called The Levee with a four-dollar drink special that included one Carling and one shot of Jameson. After a thousand of those we called it a night. Ian was so hungover the next day that we thought he might die. He didn’t drag his raggedy ass out of bed until five minutes before we had to get on stage. Anyway, it turns out that Ian was only having his ritual beginning of tour hangover. On every tour, he makes sure to be incredibly hungover after the first night so that from then on, he wakes up feeling healthy and hangover free after a night of debauchery.
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Diamond Head Pt. 1

BLACK METAL: EVOLUTION OF THE CULT AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER

By: jonathan.horsley Posted in: breaking newz, featured On: Monday, April 29th, 2013

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Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult is a 600-page book by UK author Dayal Patterson that delves deep into the history and development of black metal as an art form and a culture. It is released on November 13th, but is now available to pre-order from Amazon at a discounted price.

Published via Feral House, . . . Evolution of the Cult is as comprehensive a take on the black metal scene as you will find. There are already some superlative books published on black metal—Lords of Chaos, immediately springs to mind (hey, whatever became of that LoC movie?), but also Black Metal: Beyond the Darkness, the highfaluting Hideous Gnosis . . ., and True Norwegian Black Metal, a showcase for Pete Beste’s photography. But none have documented the genre so comprehensively, with such detail.

As the official Facebook page says, “It captures the progress of the genre, from its infancy in the early eighties through to its resurrection in the nineties and onwards to the fascinating scene we see today. Combining interviews with the key individuals involved with editorial insight and iconic photography this epic tome examines the artistic, musical, spiritual development of the genre and the creative work, ideologies and often colourful lives of some of its most significant bands.”

The interview list is exhaustive [see bottom for a sample], and the crypt has been raided for a number of unpublished images, including some of Deathcrush-era Mayhem.

Anyone who has picked up any UK metal mags over the past few years would recognise Dayal’s writing. And anyone who has ran into him at a gig over the past few years will recognise the burden of putting together a phone-book sized history of a metal subgenre that has thrived on half-truths, legend and scandal. Said burden could have—should have turned Dayal all shades of Senator Palpatine, but it looks like it has gone to press just in time.

Pre-order it here for 16 bucks.

**Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult on Facebook
**Feral House publishing

**One long interview list . . . Alan ‘AA Nemtheanga’ Averill (Primordial)
Attila Csihar (Mayhem / Tormentor)
Benny ‘Cerastes’ (Mysticum)
Christophe Szpajdel (Designer for Emperor, Graveland etc)
Conrad ‘Cronos’ Lant (Venom)
Dani Filth (Cradle Of Filth)
Edmond ‘Hupogrammos’ Karban (Negura Bunget)
Eirik ‘Pytten’ Hundvin (Producer for Emperor, Gorgoroth, Mayhem)
Fabban ‘Malfeitor’ (Aborym)
Frank ‘The Watcher’ Allain (Fen)
František Štorm (Master’s Hammer)
George ‘Magus Daoloth’ Zacharopoulos (Rotting Christ / Necromantia)
Gerald ‘Black Winds’ (Blasphemy)
Greg ‘Damien’ Moffit (Cradle Of Filth)
Gylve ‘Fenriz’ Nagell (Darkthrone / Dødheimsgard / Isengard / Storm)
Hans ‘Mortuus’ Rostén (Marduk / Funeral Mist)
Håvard ‘Mortiis’ Ellefsen(Emperor)
Ian ‘Tjodalv’ Åkesson (Dimmu Borgir)
Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved)
Jarle ‘Hvall’ Kvåle (Windir / Vreid)
Jason ‘Venien’ Ventura (VON)
Jon ‘Metallion’ Kristiansen (Slayer Mag / Head Not Found Records)
Jonas ‘B’ Bergqvist (Lifelover)
Jonas Åkerlund (Bathory)
Jørn ‘Necrobutcher’ Stubberud (Mayhem / Kvikksølvguttene)
Jorn Tunsberg (Old Funeral / Immortal / Hades)
Kai ‘Trym’ Mosaker (Emperor / Enslaved)
Kim ‘( )’ Carlsson(Lifelover)
Kim ‘King Diamond’ Petersen (Mercyful Fate)
Kjetil ‘Manheim’ (Mayhem)
Kjetil Grutle (Enslaved)
Kristian ‘Gaahl’ Espedal (Trelldom / Gorgoroth / Gaahlskag)
Kristoffer ‘Garm’ Rygg (Arcturus / Ulver)
Lee Barrett (Candlelight Records)
Marko ‘Holocausto’ Laiho (Beherit)
Michael ‘Vorph’ Locher (Samael)
Mikko Aspa (Clandestine Blaze)
Mirai Kawashima (Sigh)
Morgan ‘Evil’ Hakkansson (Marduk / Abruptum)
Niklas Kvarforth (Shining)
Ole ‘Apollyon’ Moe (Aura Noir / Dødheimsgard / Immortal)
Paul Ryan (Cradle Of Filth)
Peter Tagtgren (Producer for Dimmu Borgir, Marduk)
Preben ‘Prime Evil’ (Mysticum, Aborym)
Rob ‘Darken’ Fudali (Graveland / Infernum)
Robin ‘Graves’ Eaglestone (Cradle Of Filth)
Robin ‘Mean’ Malmberg (Mysticum)
Roger ‘Infernus’ Tiegs (Gorgoroth / Borknagar)
Rune ‘Blasphemer’ Eriksen (Mayhem / Aura Noir)
Saint Vincent (Blacklodge)
Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ)
Shawn ‘Goat’ Calizo (VON)
Simen ‘ICS Vortex’ Hestnæs (Arcturus / Dimmu Borgir)
Snorre Ruch (Stigma Diabolicum / Thorns / Mayhem)
Steffen ‘Dolgar’ Simestad (Gehenna)
Svein Egil Hatlevik (Fleurety / Dødheimsgard)
Sven ‘Silenoz’ Kopperud (Dimmu Borgir)
Sven-Erik ‘Maniac’ Kristiansen (Mayhem)
Terje ‘Tchort’ Vik Schei (Emperor / Carpathian Forest)
Thomas ‘Pest’ Kronenes (Gorgoroth)
Tom ‘King’ Visnes (Gorgoroth / Ov Hell)
Tom ‘Warrior’ Fischer (Hellhammer / Celtic Frost)
Tomas ‘Samoth’ Haugen (Thou Shalt Suffer / Emperor)
Tor-Helge ‘Cernunnus’ Skei (Manes)
Vegard ‘Ihsahn’ Tveiten (Emperor / Thou Shalt Suffer)
Ville ‘Shatraug’ Pystynen (Horna / Behexen)
Willy ‘Meyhna’ch’ Rousell (Mutiilation)
Yusaf ‘Vicotnik’ Parvez (Dødheimsgard)
Zhema Rodero (Vulcano)

STREAMING: Ramming Speed “Grinding Dissent”

By: Chris D. Posted in: featured, listen On: Monday, April 29th, 2013

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The last time we had our balls in the same pool as Boston-based thrashers Ramming Speed was a long time ago. They were guest blogging about dive bars (HERE) and we were tickled florescent green. Since then, Ramming Speed have visited more dive bars, helped jean-jacketed heshers snap a neck or two, signed to Prosthetic Records, and, surprisingly enough, crafted the follow-up to 2008′s Brainwreck full-length.

Titled Doomed To Destroy, Destined To Die and tracked by Converge studio wizard Kurt Ballou, Ramming Speed’s second will catapult them from cult, from-the-corner thrash act to recognized purveyors of NWOBHM/grind hybrid. If you haven’t heard the Beantown beatnuts, picture DRI covering Napalm Death (early) or Repulsion doing Iron Maiden (early) interpretive runs. Or, just be floored by it and screw our feeble attempts to connect speculative dots.

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“We are incredibly excited to finally announce that we’ve signed on with Prosthetic Records,” Jonah Livingston says via a Prosthetic Records press release, “a label whose roster proves it’s dedication to all facets of heavy music. While our band has been extremely lucky to work with labels like Tankcrimes and Brutal Panda, this is an incredible opportunity and we’re ready for the step forward! See you on the road!”

** Ramming Speed’s new album, Doomed to Destroy, Destined To Die, is out June 25th, 2013.

Tales From the Metalnomicon: Do You Have Anything to Declare?

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, interviews On: Friday, April 26th, 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…

No fences, no borders. Free movement for all…It’s about fucking time to treat people with respect.

So railed Propagandhi on the incendiary Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes track “Fuck the Border,” but as those who delve into the compulsively readable, endlessly fascinating new book Do You Have Anything to Declare? will quickly learn, whatever conceptual merits that song may or may not possess, those lines are no closer to becoming a reality today than they were back in ’01 — and may very well be considerably further away. Within its pages veteran music journalist/Decibel mainstay Kevin Stewart-Panko and “Vitriol Records head honcho/rent-a-guitarist” Justin Smith glean the best, baddest, and ugliest border crossing stories from more than seventy-five touring bands and musicians, including the Dillinger Escape Plan, Fear Factory, Atheist, Zoroaster, Tomas Lindberg, and Rich Hoak.

It’s an eye-opening, engrossing, funny, scary, gritty, perspective-shifting reading experience — essential, really, for any connoisseur of underground music, gut-level geopolitics, or, more generally, sacrificial tribulation.

Last week Stewart-Panko and Smith were gracious enough to submit to the following short Metalnomicon grilling…

How long was this idea of exploring band border war stories percolating before you realized it might have the makings of a full-blown book?

KEVIN STEWART-PANKO: I actually tell the story of what finally cemented the idea of doing this as a book. It’s in the first chapter and involves myself, fellow metal hack Jay Gorania and Cephalic Carnage’s John Merryman shooting the shit about the band’s border experiences while driving through Texas. That was 2010. But I guess this sort of thing has been something in the back of my mind most of my life. I’m mulatto — my father is a lily-white Canadian farm boy and my mom is dark-like-night, straight outta da Caribbean — and growing up I experienced a lot of fucked up, ignorant shit while crossing the border into the U.S. with my parents. We’d get a shit-ton of attitude from border guards about the whole mixed marriage thing and their racially mixed offspring on a far-too regular basis. Sure, a mixed marriage may have been a lot rarer in the late 70s and 80s, but you can’t tell me you’ve never watched the fucking Jeffersons! More than a handful of times while going from Canada to the U.S., my brother and I have been asked straight up if my parents were actually my parents. Chronicling something pertaining to border crossing was probably something that was bound to come out of me at some point and it’s probably no surprise that it came out in the context of music and touring.

JUSTIN SMITH: The idea [for me] began in the summer of 2010 while I was touring in Canada. Kevin and I spoke in Toronto about the mayhem and aggravation involved in crossing the border and some of the problems we had dealt with a few years prior…The conversation eventually turned into this project and, through a lot of seemingly fruitless activity, a book.

There are a ton of great/insane stories in here. Were you surprised by the eagerness of various musicians to participate?

KSP: I can’t say I was surprised at all. Talk to any touring musician or listen on the periphery to the conversation between a bunch of bands and that’s one topic that will generally come up. A lot of people were more than happy to share their stories and were pretty surprised no one had done something like this before.

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Was there any particular story early on that made you think, “Yeah, we’re actually onto something here”?

Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack: Belgium’s Humanity Defiled

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Friday, April 26th, 2013

Humanity Defiled playing pic

 Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack.

Humanity Defiled writing pic

Oh death metal, how sweet the sound.  Such an overplayed style should be stale, uninteresting and increasingly disappointing.  And sometimes it is.  Not Belgian solo project Humanity Defiled, though.  The sick death grooves that plow through Circling the Drain prove again that doom-struck horror remains rich with rhythmic possibilities, tone depth and skillful aggression.  Anybody can write jaded lyrics about bled-dry topics:  hate, war, depression, Satan.  But HD’s Iwein Denayer pours a very personal dark brew from his throat and instruments, since he works daily with people who have a  tough time just making it through each oppressive hour of a life they reject.  His work transforms his music into an expression of pain and grief, not simply an outlet for unbridled youthful energy that so many bland bands communicate.  Everything on the album vibrates on a terrifying and cathartic level, but definitely check out the centerpiece “Exit?”.  The darkness will enfold you.  Hopefully you will live more forcefully in its embrace.

Below you can hear the whole album, and you can read Denayer’s thoughtful responses to Decibel‘s questions.  And, hey, if you’re into Dutch, you can check out an interview he did with FM Brussels here.  I don’t have a clue what’s going on there, but everybody involved sounds excited to be there.  Celebrate death metal!

(close-up photo above by Lore Basyn)

 

How long have you been playing music? 

My first experience with music was at a local music academy, when I was 12. I did my first year of musical theory but it was a disaster. My end grade was 1/20. I was frustrated because I really wanted to play an instrument. But it was, again, lessons and boring theory. Until then, the only instrument I was allowed to play was the triangle. Because I was that bad. I quit after that first year.

I started playing guitar when I was 14. I was quickly bored with chords, so I started playing by ear. After two years I played along with music, without tabs or notes.  I was in my first band when I was 19. Not long after that, I was in a metalcore band (the good mid-90’s kinda metalcore), an old school hardcore band and a deathgrind band.  The band I loved the most [that I played in] was Time Out (the old school band). We recorded 3 demos and played a decent amount of shows.

But after being in bands, I wanted to do something on my own. It was then I decided to risk it. I wanted to go somewhere with my musical ideas. The past years I invested in a modest home ‘studio’ (nothing fancy). The first project I started was Doodsangst – lo-fi instrumental black metal, inspired by Flemish folk tales. A 4-track demo was recorded. I got some really bad reviews and some good ones on that demo. Love-it-or-hate-it, I guess.

How did you get so comfortable with all of the instruments you play/program?

I guess I went through a natural evolution while playing guitar. I always followed my soul. I never learned chords and I’m too lazy to read tabs. I play with my ears and heart, not my brains. When I play or record music, I want it to be something that comes naturally. I don’t know, but I think other musicians would see me as a bit of a weird one. Most of the songs I record are finished on one evening, on-the-fly if you like. For instance: I recorded the intro on “Exit?” on one evening. The [next] evening I did the rest. When I record, I tend to be a maniac about it. When someone’s disturbing me while I record, I get angry. [I] need to be alone. That’s when I feel most comfortable. When not recording, I’m a friendly, positive guy, though.

For Doodsangst, I also recorded some keyboard stuff. It was my first time, but it all came out naturally. Humanity Defiled was the first project where I recorded all bass parts playing with my fingers, instead of a plectrum. The most important thing for me, is that I record when I feel the time is right for it. I think that’s why I’m pretty comfortable playing instruments. On Circling the Drain there’s also parts where I improvised while recording. All the lead parts were done like that. I don’t write songs or structures before recording. When I’m ready, I switch on my recording gear and go for it. Maybe that’s the reason why it sounds comfortable…

What albums or musicians inspired you to put together the Humanity Defiled project?

I strongly believe in DIY ethic. Maybe the biggest inspiration is the hardcore scene. I recently saw the Boston Hardcore DVD (xxxAll Agesxxx – I’m a big Boston Hardcore fan) and when I see the story told there, I feel home immediately. That’s the way we did it when we started those hardcore bands. Record on our own, make our own flyers, organize our own shows.  Other than that, there have been a lot of people telling me to simply do my own thing. That’s what I did.  I don’t tend to think of other bands while or before I’m recording. It’s just me and my ideas. Sure, it’s impossible to block out influences. But I certainly don’t think consciously of bands or albums.

I’ve always been a big fan of Disembodied (RIP). They were (and still are) the band that, for me personally, embody (no pun intended) the whole process of putting emotion into music. I finally saw them live, a few years ago at Ieperfest and I was ecstatic. One of the most memorable shows I witnessed. I think they unavoidably inspired me.

You’ve said that making music is a necessity for you.  Can you talk about what you mean by that?

I need to because it’s a kind of therapy for me. It gets me over things. My day job is really intense. I’m a counselor at an independent youth centre and I see a lot of youngsters dealing with heavy stuff. Suicide and depression are #1 right now. I recently lost someone whom I was counseling. Even with years experience, you take something like that with you. So, it gets translated into a song.  There are evenings where I just can’t resist the urge to record. I have to or I won’t be able to sleep. And then, of course, I have to finish the song.

Where and when did you record the album?

The first song on Circling the Drain was recorded on the 30th of October, 2012. From then on, I recorded when I had the time. I did everything at home. From the first riff to the last minute of mastering. Always evenings/nights. During the day, I work and there’s also family life. I’m married and we have two kids. Family and work always get priority. Also, my job is no 9-to-5 one. We also work on some evenings and weekends, luckily not that much.

You have recorded a bunch of short songs, and then there’s “Exit?” at 9 minutes.  How does that song differ in its focus and intent from the other songs?

“Exit?” is the song where the most heart and soul went into. At work, we were confronted with a seemingly endless stream of youngsters in a crisis and with suicidal thoughts.  2012 was a year full of suicides in my private life. My neighbor, a friend… I was surrounded by the stuff. At a certain point, it really got to me and I recorded “Exit?”.  Two weeks after I recorded the song, a young girl I saw at work committed suicide. It was a strange twist of fate.

The reason why the song is that long is because I liked to match structure and lyrical content. It’s about someone who struggles with suicidal tendencies. It’s about doubt, failure, desperation but also hope, light and courage. I tried to show how this struggle takes up a lot of time and energy. I’m not able to put this into a 3-minute rager.

Do you have any favorite non-extreme music that you’re listening to these days?

I’m listening a lot to Dax Riggs, Trixie Whitley and the new Antimatter now. All three of those singers have a unique voice and put their souls into their songs. I also listen to trance from time to time. Almost all the stuff Mike Dierickx puts out is fantastic.

Besides music, how do you spend your time?

I spend a lot of time with my wife and kids. When not busy with family or music, I like to read a good book, watch British comedy and play a good PC game (because consoles are for wimps and posers). I’m on Bioshock Infinite now, as a way of conquering the recording-cold-turkey.

What plans do you have for your music in the future?

I’m planning a new Doodsangst release in the following year. It first was planned for early 2013, but then Humanity Defiled got in the way. After recording the first self-titled song, I went on to record more songs and before I knew, a full album was finished.  Nothing is certain, though. Things don’t always turn out the way I want them to. And maybe that’s just fine.