Sunday, October 30, 2016

EP Review: ILLUM ADORA Son Of Dawn

ILLUM ADORA
Son Of Dawn
Kneel Before the Master's Throne Records
Koblenz, Germany’s Illum Adora began in 2011 as a one-man project after Hurricane Hellfucker’s previous band Zarathustra fell into slumber. After a few years it became a full band that experienced some lineup changes before settling into a three piece with guitarist Profanator and drummer M. Marax. Preceding their debut EP are two demos (2015’s Begotten and 2016’s Unchained From Slavery), the occult/satanic philosophy Hellfucker imagined for the concept and the tagline he adapted for the band, Non Serviam Black Metal. The idea according to the official bio is to place more emphasis on songwriting than a polished production job. Before I started listening to the EP I wondered how he intended to approach the songwriting over shine approach, given the number of raw and cult black metal bands that surfaced around the world since 1995. From the first track there are raw overtones similar to Arckanum, as the instruments are recorded clearly enough that the results aren’t over-distorted. Most of the songwriting is standard occult black metal but there is a sense of conviction and honesty as Hellfucker and his band seek to tear your immortal soul from your body and devour it with a single swallow. The tracks sound given a minimal amount of echo to suggest the timeless theme of black metal, performed with some chaotic license while remaining tight overall. The vocals most reminded me of Arckanum, but aside from this there is improvement from what I heard of their demos production-wise. Illum Adora also make use of guitar harmonies, time changes, drum accents, feedback, effects and perhaps even hints of classic metal at times. The cover art shows the band take their occult theme seriously and it resonates as being deeply personal. Son Of Dawn is a well-grounded start to the band’s recording career. If you live to give the devil his due this is a band you should be checking out. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Son of Dawn
2. Eyes of the Scythe Wielder
3. In Hideous Blasphemy
4. The Suffering of Affliction

Judith by M Teresa Clayton: Chapter Twenty-Five

JUDITH by M Teresa Clayton
Chapter Twenty-Five
The mirror never sees itself. The reflection never is itself.
And since you know you cannot see yourself,
so well as by reflection, I, your glass,
will modestly discover to yourself,
that of yourself which you yet know not of.
-William Shakespeare
“Miss Burton? This is Doctor Reynolds, he will be taking over your care now.” The nurse was new and I hadn’t paid much attention to her badge to get her name.
“How long has she been this way?” He asked.
“It’s been twelve years, Doctor.” She reported.
“Has she ever spoken or given any indication she understands?” He continued.
“Nothing, except the hairbrush, sir” She answered. “She becomes uncontrollably violent if someone touches the hairbrush.”
“Why is that? Does anyone know?” He stepped to the side of the bed and lifted my wrist to take my pulse.
“The reports stated that the apartment was a mess.” the nurse explained. “Two men in the kitchen were found dead and mutilated. The woman was covered in blood and the boyfriend had her blanket around him, tucked at his chin, holding a stuffed bunny.”
“What does that have to do with the hairbrush?” the doctor asked again.
“Miss Burton was covered in her own mother’s blood and from the looks of it – was responsible for her death. It was hard to tell for sure. The mother had cuts all over her hands and Miss Burton, here – well, she almost severed her own hand in the process. They found her singing some lullaby and brushing her mother’s matted hair. She wouldn’t let go of it when the paramedics got there and it has stayed with her all these years. Seems to be important to her; she is very protective of it.”
“She never confessed? Did the boyfriend give a statement?”
“No sir. I believe his name was Ross Truxton if memory serves me right. It was in all the papers. They say he died a week or so after… heart-attack or something.”
“And, they never found out what really happened?” The doctor placed his clipboard in it’s holder on the far wall.
He reached over as if he were going to pick up the brush and stopped short. Instead, he walked over without saying a word and knelt down so we were face to face.
He was handsome. Not your underwear model kind of handsome – but a clean-cut good ‘ol boy kind of good looking.
“Lily, my name is Dr. Reynolds, but I want you to call me Dr. George – okay? We can be friends.”
Shhh. Don’t say a word. Close your eyes and we’ll make him go away.
“I can help you if you’ll let me,” He continued.
You can help yourself to a hand-job Dock-tor! Jacking off is the safest bet; won’t cost you a thing, least of all your life.
“Yes, Doctor George. I’d like to be your friend.” My hushed voice seemed so detached. After so many years of silence, it feels strange to speak for the first time since that horrible night.
“I’ll do my best to help you Lily.” He smiled a beautiful smile and winked. “Would you like for me to brush your hair?”
“Please. And, if you don’t mind… would you please bring me a mirror?”
If I make the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And the lips more scarlet,
Or ask if all be right
From mirror after mirror,
No vanity’s displayed:
I’m looking for the face I had
Before the world was made.
-W.B. Yeats

Saturday, October 29, 2016

CD Review: THEM Sweet Hollow

THEM
Sweet Hollow
Empire Records
Back in May I reviewed the advance promo for this full length entitled Fear Them. It had three tracks to appear on the concept album Sweet Hollow: Forever Burns, Dead of Night and Blood From Blood. As I stated in that review, Them began as a King Diamond tribute band that eventually gravitated toward composing original material. I remember being grateful to hear this since there are far too many tribute bands around, and not as much room for originals. Now I’m even more grateful since in the process of writing their own songs Them has become a musical juggernaut of sorts, combining several subgenres and raising the “epic” bar significantly. Being that Troy Norr and Cold Steel made a comeback in 2013 with American Idle, the recognition that album received still scratches the surface of the potential of his new band. Them is an “all star” ensemble comprised by members of Cold Steel, Mike Le Pond’s Silent Assassins, Suffocation, Lanfear and Sylencer. Together they create a conceptual recording that few Long Island bands have yet to reach, perhaps with the exception of MaelstroM with the songs they are working on for their upcoming full length (three of those songs are available on their EP It Was Predestined). There is a healthy buzz going around about Sweet Hollow and having heard it for my own edification I am truly awed. The concept it is built around is making its presence known in time for Halloween. It’s based on an actual location in Long Island said to be haunted by the spirit of a young girl named Mary (to read about this urban legend do a Google search or two). The narrative takes place is October 1890, a year after the Hawthorne family moved to Mt. Misery in Long Island. What to expect as it progresses is a concoction of graveyards, black magic, vengeful spirits, scared townspeople, possession, murder, and most notably a local carnival and its host, the German born Klaus Konig Fossor who is an integral character. The tale is so well thought out with such a surprise twist ending I prefer not to ruin any of the developments for you. This is a dark world you mist explore on your own. I can say you won’t regret taking the time. By far one of metal’s finest moments of 2016, music wise and story wise. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Rebirth
2. Forever Burns
3. Down the Road to Misery
4. Ghost in the Graveyard
5. The Quiet Room
6. Dead of Night
7. FestEvil
8. The Crimson Corpse
9. Blood From Blood
10. The Harrowing Road to Hollow
11. Salve
12. When the Clock Struck Twelve

CD Review: NORTHERN CROWN The Others

NORTHERN CROWN
The Others
Independent
This was a surprise! Again, a band I'd heard nothing of previously, to be fair this is their debut album after having released an EP a couple of years previous. This album contains some very accomplished songwriting and musicianship for a debut album so I’m not sure if the members have had previous bands or not but either way what you have here is a very easy to listen to slab of music.
The bands website and promo describe them as "doom" but I have to say I wouldn't agree with them on that. There are some slow chuggy doom parts but it's a hard one to categorize as it fits within the traditional metal and prog genres with hints of black metal, maybe it has a more 'goth' feel to it. They might even be considered the Pink Floyd of heavy metal. Categorizations aside, the songs themselves tend to be on the longer end of the scale with some great metal riffs and some very trance inducing soundscapes utilizing keyboards and other instruments rather well also utilizing some aspects of electronic music and some very tasty clean melodic moments... It makes for great chill out music, great for listening to in the dark or falling asleep to. The riffage while slow is never boring, there are many trance like parts invoking images of ancient Rome, or Sumerian/Middle eastern passages where the guitars/keys/wind instruments mix together perfectly. The vocals are simply superb, solid metal clean vocals (to my ears reminiscent of john bush from Anthrax) with a hint of power metal and occasional death metal moments. Over all it suits the production of this album and the mood they are trying to create. The lads have succeeded in creating something special here and they should feel proud of themselves! I really hope this release raises the band into the next level of contenders for the metal throne.
Who would this appeal to? I'd suggest fans of Tiamat, Opeth, Type O Negative and the more abstract moments of Rotting Christ and in some parts the more orchestrated moments of Bathory and Pink Floyd... which I know is a hard range to mentally grasp but I guess the only way to understand it is to go to the bands website and give it a listen. -Reggae

Track list:
1. With Malicious Eye
2. Surreality (The Tell-Tale Mind)
3. No One Came To Mourn Me
4. Apostate
5. A Pox Upon Your House
6. Les Autres

Friday, October 28, 2016

Fiction: Trick-or-Treat by Christina Bergling

Trick-or-Treat
Fiction by Christina Bergling
Also posted at Fiery Pen: The Horror Writing of Christina Bergling

As the sun retreated from the sky and the last rays of light died in the air, Marla’s small body began to materialize on top of the cracked asphalt. Her hips appeared first, the round bulbs of her pelvis spiraling out of obscurity as spinal vertebrae sprouted to climb up to her shoulders and bare skull. The tiny skeleton curled on the street in the fetal position, with her eye socket rooted to ground.
The skeletal fingertips twitched and jerked against the rough blacktop as the skull softly swayed side to side. As the bones began to animate, muscle and flesh blossomed along their edges like moss, overtaking the form as veins and arteries snaked up through the tissue. Hair budded from the fresh scalp until the wily mass of strands draped over Marla’s little shoulders.
Within seconds of dusk, the entire child body returned to the street, complete with the torn clothes. She lifted her head slowly from the pavement, her ejected eye clinging to the ground before popping up to dangle along her shredded cheek. Her right hand flopped half detached as it dropped from her bloody forearm. She stood on crooked legs with flaps of flesh shaved down and hanging over her knees.
Marla stood straight in her broken body, eye wagging with each movement, under the growing moonlight. The headlights of a large truck blazed up over her. She turned the eye still in her head to the vehicle before it drove through her in a swirling puff of steam. The edges of her form wavered before snapping back into shape.
Marla turned unaffected by the truck driving through her, or the staggered series of cars that followed. She moved instinctively to the southwest corner just as she did every year. She stepped onto the curb, with one shoe on and one bare, scraped foot, as the contorted figure of her mother shambled toward her through the streetlight.
Abigail’s head cocked at an extreme angle, and her spine warped in sympathy. Blood had poured from her gaping headwound, drenching her face and clothes in a waterfall of red. Her feet splayed out in divergent directions, causing her to hobble even slower than the twisted corpse of her daughter.
“Hello, my beautiful girl,” Abigail whispered in a rasp as she wrapped her arms around her shattered child. “Welcome to our night.”
“I missed you, Mommy,” Marla said as she cuddled into her mother’s blood-soaked sweater.
“I missed you, beautiful.”
Abigail took Marla’s destroyed face in her hands, allowing the suspended eyeball to roll along her palm. Marla smiled sweetly with the facial muscles she had left.
“Don’t look at me like that, Mommy.”
“I’m sorry, baby. If I had known you hadn’t buckled your seatbelt, I would have never left the parking lot.”
“You don’t have to say that every year, Mommy.”
“You just had to get a new costume that night.”
“The one I had looked stupid.”
“No, it didn’t, but I wanted you to have a good Halloween.
“It’s OK, Mommy. We can have another good Halloween tonight.”
“What should we do tonight?”
“I want to go see Daddy and Jakey.”
“No, baby. We don’t go see them.”
“Why not?”
“The same as every year. We don’t know how long it has been. It would make me sad to go and see Jake all grown up or your daddy as a grandpa.”
“It hasn’t been that long. Jakey will still be little. Just like when we left.”
“We don’t know that, Marla. We don’t go see them. Now, come now. Let’s do something fun.”
“Can we borrow bodies?” Marla perked up, and the tear in her cheek deepened as she grinned.
“Oh, that sounds like fun. What do you want to do with them?”
“I want to go trick-or-treating! But, this year, I want to be the momma and you be the kid.”
“Are you sure? It’s way more fun to be the kid.”
“No. It’s better to be the grown up.”
“That’s what all kids think. Until they become grown ups. But I suppose you never have to worry about that.”
“I still want to be the momma.”
“OK, baby, you can be the momma. You can even pick the bodies.”
“Yay!”
Marla leaped in excitement then took her mother’s hand in her attached arm, her other hand waggling loosely on threads of traumatized flesh. The two mangled forms moved unseen through the darkness as scurrying trick-or-treaters began to flood the streets.
Marla let her eye move over each group of figures in the night. The child body would have to be young to still have an adult escort. She watched a parade of tiny princesses march down the sidewalk, mothers snapping pictures with their phones like paparazzi. She looked over a group of unchaperoned tweens running by giggling under their masks.
Finally, she caught sight of a young boy marching down the street. He smiled euphorically under his pirate’s eyepatch, swinging a hefty bucket of candy at his side. Behind him, his mother weaved absentmindedly as her eyes fixated down on the glowing screen of her phone. She gripped a large travel coffee mug tightly with the other hand, taking compulsive sips every couple steps.
“Them,” Marla said, pointing confidently, knowing the living could not see her.
“The pirate and his mom?”
Marla nodded enthusiastically, her hanging eye bouncing up and down.
“Well, I’ve never been a pirate before,” Abigail laughed. “OK, darling, you know what to do.”
Marla stepped in the path of the distracted mother and placed her palms together out in front of her. As the woman turned Marla’s fingertips into mist, Marla swung her arms, as if swimming in the water, and dove right into the mother’s chest. Somewhere behind her, Abigail did the same to the young pirate.
“This feels weird, Mommy…I mean, son,” Marla said moving her arms in the strange new skin.
The living flesh felt awkward, heavy, confining. Marla and Abigail took a moment to shift and fidget, finding their bearings locked back under the bars of the bones. Marla took an awkward step forward and nearly toppled over. She realigned herself over her feet and brought the hefty cup to her lips. The acidic taste of the liquid bit her tongue, and she immediately spat it out.
“Eeww! What is this?” Marla held the cup out to her mother in the pirate costume.
Abigail reached the young boys hand’s forward and took a sip.
“Oh,” Abigail said, knowingly. “That is not coffee at all. That’s wine.”
“Wine? Why would she have wine in a coffee mug?”
“Because being the kid is more fun, dear,” Abigail laughed.
The two moved forward in staggering steps until walking became more familiar. With each passing house, they moved more naturally until they strode like all the other living people. They approached the next house with the porch light on and hesitated at the base of the driveway.
“What is it?” Marla asked, awkwardly juggling the coffee mug and oversized smartphone.
“I haven’t trick-or-treated in decades. Even in decades when I was alive. I’m nervous, I think.”
“That’s silly, Mommy. Son. Just go up there; ring the bell; and say, ‘Trick or treat!’”
“OK, I’m going.”
“What do I do?”
“While I trick-or-treat?”
“Yeah.”
“Nothing.”
“Nothing?”
“Yes. You follow me and stand here waiting for me. That’s it. Just don’t drink that cup. You’re having enough trouble walking in that body already.”
“Maybe the kid does have all the fun.”
“Told you.”
Marla watched her mother toddle up the concrete in the little pirate body and stood drumming her fingers on the cup she was not supposed to drink. When Abigail disappeared around the edge of the house, Marla took a deep sip on defiant principle then winced as it burned down her throat and pooled heat in her stomach.
Marla would never grow up to understand adults.
She turned the cup over and dumped the wine in the street. The red liquid looked just like all the blood that had poured out from her head when she went careening through the windshield so many Halloweens ago.
“That was weird,” Abigail laughed as she skipped back with a heavier bucket.
They moved house to house, repeating the same pattern around dark, curved blocks. With each stop, Marla grew more anxious. She tapped the mother’s toe on the hard ground. She crossed her arms and wished she knew how to operate the phone she shoved into her back pocket. Other children began to grow scarce on the street.
“I think that’s enough now, Mommy,” Marla said. “I mean, son.”
“Oh, come on. I can get this kid even more candy. Look at all the porch lights on that street.”
“No, I don’t want to anymore.”
“Not having any fun, beautiful?”
“Next year, I want to be the kid again.”
“I thought you might say that.”
Abigail smiled and took Marla’s hand, strange in the reversal of the angle.
“Well, let’s go put them back where we got them, and we’ll have a little time before our night is over,” Abigail said.
They walked the borrowed bodies back along their meandering trail to the driveway where they started. Marla drew her energy toward her center then thrust it upward. As she appeared wispy and disfigured again beside the mother, she felt herself expand into the freedom outside of the flesh. She watched the mother return to the surface disoriented, looking confused at the empty coffee mug in her hand.
Taking her mother’s ghostly hand once more, Marla followed her through the quieting streets. Jack o’lanterns flickered with dying candles on the porches. Music thumped out from lingering Halloween parties. The light air would have been crisp and the leaves would have crunched under their footsteps if they could feel either.
Abigail led Marla back to her spot in the middle of the intersection. She did not think of the way she could hear the front end of her car collapse or the way she saw the body of her child go flying past her head and through the windshield. She never saw Marla’s actual body on the street; she never left the driver seat.
“Are you ready to sleep, darling?” Abigail said.
“Yes, Mommy. It was a good Halloween.”
Marla crouched down on the pavement and lined herself up just as she had materialized, still clinging to her mother’s hand like an afterthought.
“Yes, it was, but next year, you can be the kid again.”
“Sounds good, Mommy. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, beautiful. I’ll see you next year.”
Abigail bent down and pressed her lips to her daughter’s cracked forehead, even as the cars continued to drive through and over them. Before Marla turned to plant her eye socket back on the pavement, she watched her mother hobble away into the night, back to her place. With each step, a layer disintegrated from Abigail’s form, as if she was melting into wisps in the air. Marla faded too. She felt herself shedding coherency until she dropped her head, and they both blew away before the sun pierced the sky.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

CD Review: V/A Metal Scrap Compilation #9

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Metal Scrap Compilation #9 "Witchery Flames Of Underground Lust"
Metal Scrap Records
Metal Scrap Records is a Ukraine independent label run by Alexander Kondyuk who manages Total Metal Records and Another Side Records. I examined the official site showcasing all three labels Kondyuk has his act together. Metal Scrap, Total Metal and Another Side are to the Ukraine what Metal Blade and Relapse are to the States. Total Metal is furthermore involved in promotion, distribution and booking performances. If you’re new to Kondyuk’s activities you should explore website because he’ll likely be a vital underground force in the near future. Metal Scrap is supporting its myriad of artists on Bandcamp. With previews of new releases the ninth volume of its compilation series is streamed in its entirety. At close to 80 minutes, there are artists from the Ukraine, the States, Greece, Italy, Israel, Poland, Russia and Australia featured. Like all worthwhile compilations it’s well rounded and gives you a good idea how diverse the label is. Each song is something different to subsist on, from traditional metal to thrash and power metal to black and death metal to Viking to industrial to groove. With Halloween around the corner, Druknroll’s The Loop Of World Creation constructs an appropriate motif to start the compilation off. The keyboard introduction got me thinking of Mike Myers in Carpenter’s 1978 film walking the streets searching for a home to terrorize. Many keyboards are added to enhance the verses and choruses of this song and do a fine job. The same can be said for Hortus Anime’s Ungrateful Fate for its subtle keyboard additions, especially those underscoring the Metallica/Iron Maiden inspired guitar interlude. This is a strange addition to black metal but it seems to work. And there was Brokdar’s Lycanthropy, an inventive black/death metal selection with a piano introduction, slightly dissonant guitars and creepy guitar solos. What really grew on me was the in-the-hands-of-the-fans philosophy uniting all the artists who submitted material to this compilation. Yet again, listening felt as if it was 1996 or 1997 as these bands had the same deviceful hunger as bands did in those days. Aeternus Prophet, One Step Beyond, Phantasmal, Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus, Grenouer and Divine Weep are good examples of this label’s underground stance. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Druknroll - The Loop of World Creation
2. Psychophobia - The Fall
3. Aeternus Prophet - White Rot of Missing Thoughts
4. Hortus Animae - Ungrateful Fate
5. Sabotage - Don't Panic
6. Estate - Hero
7. One Step Beyond - Enlightenment
8. Brokdar - Lycanthropy
9. Phantasmal - Specter of Death
10. Sunlight - Struggle for Deliverance
11. Dark Morok - Night of the Shadows
12. Nihilistinen Barbaarisuus - The Child Must Die
13. Strident - Final Warhead Blast
14. Xpus - Primordial Evil Essence
15. Grenouer - No Sense Aligned
16. Divine Weep - Age of the Immortal
17. Ungrace - Dead Ugly Hearts

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Band Interview: THREE SIXES (Kill)

THREE SIXES
Interview with Kill

Tell the readers how you got involved with Three Sixes. Were you previously acquainted with Damien LaVey or did you hear he was seeking new members and audition?
I had moved from Las Vegas to California in late 2000. I wanted to find the right fit for a group that had a solid background and was not exactly a start-up group. I put an ad out looking for a group and had different bands reply. Damien invited me in to audition after meeting and getting a disc for me to practice. I think I was working as a manager at Mars Music in Santa Ana at the time. He was a super cool dude and very upbeat. So I headed down with my stack, Les Paul in hand, to Francisco Studios in lovely Vernon, California, to audition for Three Sixes. Damien will tell the story WAY better then I will, but I roll in, and he asks me which song I learned. I reply "the first one, of course". I didn't have time to learn all the songs on the disc, but I figured I would nail this one. The audition went well, and soon after I was asked to join the band. It was a good chemistry. I felt they were a little too basic as far as the riffs went, but I knew I could contribute with what I brought to the table. I think I was really eager to get back on stage, as I knew Damien was too, and I booked us a show at the XTreme Motocross Festival in Irvine, California. It was us, a bunch of other bands I can't remember, and the dudes from Metal Mulisha. So from then on, the core of the Three Sixes songwriting team was established. The friendship, loyalty and honesty shows between Damien and myself with what we created (along with producer Marko Olson) on Know God, No Peace. Never been prouder of myself or the evolution of Three Sixes.

How did you know that chemistry existed during your rehearsal? How did your playing enhance the band when you tried out for them?\
I wasn't the most talented guitarist they tried out, but I damn sure was the baddest motherfucker they had auditioned to that point. No doubt. It was a good vibe in there, and they seemed very chill.

What had you been doing in Las Vegas before your move? Had you been searching for bands to join there?
I had been playing solo acoustic gigs, studying International Business at UNLV (where Coach John Robinson seemed to want me to play linebacker even though I was in my mid 20s).

How long has music been important in your life, and when did you decide to seriously pursue it as a career?
I had a promising baseball future ahead of me when I was growing up outside of Atlanta. What changed everything was seeing Pantera play at the Fox Theater when I was sixteen. Wow... Dimebag just made it seem like the best thing in the world to be on stage, and since I would like to think I'm an entertainer at heart... it made complete sense. I remember turning to my friend and saying "I wanna do THAT!” Baseball took a seat on the bench and although I already had this bad ass Harmony Explorer, I needed to play more. After a short stint in rehab, I hooked up with my buddy Ryan Wexler, and August Dawn was born. I grew up around Rich Ward and Bonz from Stuck Mojo, and I felt honored that Rich shared with me the news that they had signed with Century Media before going public with it. I still look up to him as a guitarist, although we don't talk much anymore. Ahh the good ol' Waffle House across the street from me.

How do you account for Dimebag and Pantera having that much of an impact on your career choice?
It just really hit me in the soft spot of my heart, witnessing how much passion and intensity one could have playing in a band. He really was able to connect with the crowd just using his six string. I've seen videos of Stevie Ray Vaughn doing just that too. I had the opportunity to meet Dime outside of a show setting... did a shot of Jager with him and was able to have a moment I'll never forget.

What was it like to meet in person someone you admired as much as Dimebag?
As much as I admired him just as a balls out guitarist - the dude was gold personally. He was cordial, welcoming to everyone. Called everyone bro or sister, no matter what race, creed or culture they were. Fucking LOVED that. Good soul. I don't believe the bullshit from Anselmo's mouth, this guy was a good fucking dude.

How long were you with August Dawn? Did you perform often and record a few albums with them?
That was my first band. Our first show was at the Wreck Room down by Georgia Tech with a band called Crawlspace, which ended up evolving into Sevendust. Good times. We we're awful, I am pretty sure.

How “green” were you as a musician with August Dawn? What sort of a learning experience was that band?
I learned how to play guitar by just reading tabs and listening to CDs over and over. I figured my ear was decent, and for some reason I keep pretty good time for a guitarist. I had a really old wooden metronome you see sitting on top of pianos and such. I was "green", yes, but I didn't give a fuck. I learned to play in drop-D tuning, so I'll play chords with one finger anyway. We were all young, and just piecing songs together. I had a blast though, and I have those three dudes still on my Facebook account, I keep in touch. Ryan and I talk regularly.

Whose CDs and tablatures did you refer to while learning guitar? Were there bands you listened to often?
I think the obligatory stuff: Led Zeppelin, Pantera, Metallica, Megadeth, John Sykes. I was into everything when I was younger. Metal, rap, pop, whatever sounded good. Never been much for country, but I do appreciate some of the better guitar players.

Did your education as a guitarist include learning to play solos as well as chord progressions?
All rhythm, all the time. Solos I learned just because I had to, or I made my own transposition of the original in a song. Jimi Hendrix said it best: "The world is full of lead guitar players, but the rhythm is the thing". I think he said it. Well, fuck it. I don't care if he did. It sounds like a great quote.

How did your solo playing grow from your learning rhythm guitar? Has Jimi Hendrix been influential on you?
I wouldn't say Hendrix was "influential" to me. He was very much out there, and groundbreaking at that. I enjoy his stuff, but not to the point of obsession. Nah, my solo playing still sucks haha!

Does being self-educated as a guitarist give you more room to invent your own style?
I think so, but I believe it limits me, at least on the basis of talent. I think I am a hell of a songwriter, but I am not a very good player. This convo tends to go in circles, but I just always feel lacking in the talent of playing the guitar.

What were you doing in Las Vegas before moving to California? What led to you working at Mars Music in Santa Ana?
I was a student at UNLV, and working as an assistant Dept. Manager at Mars Music in Las Vegas. Anyone who was in the industry in Vegas were at Guitar Center, Mars, Cowtown or various indie stores. We had a tight knit scene there. I was one of the guitarists in Conflict Of Interest, but we had disbanded and grown apart. Aside from doing acoustic gigs, I also contributed to an album by Zero Fingers, featuring Jazz Bender and Sean Whitcomb. Great guys, great vibe.

How many indie stores were around at the time and how tightly knit was the scene among the outlets you mentioned?
Criminal Records down at Little 5 Points in Atlanta was the place to be. Criminal Records was a retail record store, CDs, cassettes, and plenty of room for band flyers, posters and whatnot. Criminal was a good place to post band flyers and "musician wanted" ads, etc. It was located where the trains and Marta buses came together. HUB to get anywhere downtown.

Tell the readers some more about Conflict Of Interest and the Zero Fingers album you contributed to. How active was COI and what did you contribute to the full length?
Not too much to reveal on this one, COI never recorded a full length. I think we just played more shows then any frigging band in Vegas. We were definitely battle tested as far as showmanship. Our old drummer is in jail for murder now, too. With Zero Fingers, I don't even know if the album saw the light of day but man was it fun to play on it.

Are you still in touch with Jazz Bender and Sean Whitcomb of Zero Fingers? Are they involved in any new projects?
Don't speak much to Jazz; just got back in touch with him via Facebook recently. He's always been a great showman, and an exceptional songwriter. Sean is performing in a stage show of sorts in Deadwood, South Dakota. He plays music and entertains the masses that come to visit the old ghost town. Truly one of the best human beings I've ever met, and a hell of a musician.

What appealed to you about Three Sixes’ music and made you want to work with them professionally? How do your personal tastes in music fit with the band?
First off, I didn't really dig the Satan stuff, I found it humorous. But what made a HUGE difference was the loyalty to heavy music that Damien had. His drive, passion, organization and persistence go unrivaled in this industry. Any Three Sixes fan will know and agree with that. I really loved the fact that there were no fucks to give, whatsoever, from the very beginning. We have a very cohesive, loyal relationship when it comes to songwriting and structure. We respect each other greatly, and it shows with the chemistry we had. When we went on hiatus after our self-titled CD (with Paint it Black, Holy Man and Hell's Home), we both thought we were done. I was in talks with Barry Squier about working with other groups, and my Son was born, and getting interest from In This Moment (pre-Century Media) and Cold as far as being a replacement. I ended up doing a "pseudo-group" full length with A New Vice, produced by Ron Welty from The Offspring. We had a great CD, mainstream alternative, solid songwriting from Sash Kuzma (one of the top songwriters in Europe right now), Bryan Robidart, Kelly Hurst and Mike Crisis (later replaced by Matt Caskitt). Fun times, good shows, mini-tour, and outstanding reception from the public. Honestly though, my heart was and will always be heavy music. Metal, thrash, sludgy shit. Sevendust, Acacia Strain, Volumes, Bury Your Dead, Pantera, Stuck Mojo, Mudvayne, Godhead, Northlane, Pig Named Jodi, Face Down, Amos Lee, Fun, Pink, The Weeknd, Steve Poltz, Jewel, Sepultura and Soulfly, Snot, Death By Stereo, Helmet, Def Leppard, Slipknot, In Urgency, American Murder/Epidemic, Zakk Wylde and BLS, Jimi Hendrix, Al Di Meola, Dream Theater, Rodrigo y Gabriela, C.O.C., Frozen Sun, Hatebreed, Jay Z, hed(pe), Michael Ward, Anthrax, Run DMC, NWA, Suicidal Tendencies. In my eyes, Machine Head and Sevendust can do no wrong. Machine Head is getting better and it's scary how amazing and evolved they are as songwriters. My fave singer songwriter is Ben Harper. I apologize for anyone I might have left out. I really do have a lot of friends in the industry and love them all. But... I play and write for my favorite band, Three Sixes.

What about Ben Harper’s songwriting most speaks to you? Describe your experiences meeting him in person?
I think it's his ability to tell a story and be honest, not contriving anything just for the sake of the song. He's also one of the coolest guys I have ever met in my life. Just a good soul. I've only really "met" Ben at the Gibson trailer at NAMM one year. I've seen him a few times and just did the wave or nod and he's always smiled back, but that's the extent of it. His stories are all personal experiences from what I gather. Blessed to Be a Witness is still one of my fave songs. I am not religious whatsoever, but his gospel type writing is outstanding.

How did A New Vice form while you were on hiatus from Three Sixes? How many shows did they perform altogether?
A New Vice was put together by Ron Welty from the Offspring. It was his lovechild, bred from a mix of different genres of local and international talent. Bryan Robidart and Mike Crisis from Device (later replaced by Matt Caskitt), Kelly Hurst on bass, and top European singer and writer Sash Kuzma. The music was well received and we had a string of decent shows, along with radio airplay in various markets. While it was fun to put together a mainstream project for sheer profit potential, my heart was obviously with Three Sixes. We played various venues when Three Sixes was on hiatus (and even at the start of our recording), including the headlining slots at House of Blues, but I don't recall all the places at which we performed.

Describe the full length released by A New Vice. How much press did it receive? Name some stations that provided airplay.
From what I remember, it was well received by peers and press, but a little too grassroots for me. Something like that - recorded and made to market and sell - should have been, but wasn't. It might have been just two or three of us that were really focused on other things, and not wanting to put in the full effort that it deserved. I know I made it clear from the get-go that A New Vice was a side thing for me, even though I dedicated myself to the recording and performances that transpired. Didn't sign up to hand out flyers. I can't recall the actual call letters, but city-wise: LA, Jacksonville, FL, Las Vegas and San Fran. Ron Welty played a part in getting us on.

Do you have an easy time finding a balance between being a full time musician and a family man?
Well, I'm not a full time musician, just dedicated. I have a Real Estate business in Jacksonville, Florida, in addition to some acting roles. With regards to being a family man, my Son's Mom and I are divorced, but remain close. She's an amazing Mom, and I'm so proud to have such a badass kid in Dominic. He is an exceptional, super intelligent young man, and has unlimited potential in life. I am honored to be his Father. Hope he will take a bit more interest in music and martial arts!

Recount what you remember from playing the XTreme Motocross Festival in Irvine. Describe the weather and the atmosphere generated by the attendees. Did the audience respond to your set in way that bolstered your drive?
I definitely think it was a learning experience for us all. Damien forgot to come in at the beginning of the verse for Lord of the Dead, and I know I made a few mistakes, I'm sure the bass player was all over the place. This was after a really bad soundcheck - they couldn't get out samples to run clean thru the PA. Haha. It was fun though. We had a weird crowd watching us while the dudes from Metal Mulisha were flying thru the air.

Is Xtreme Motorcross a yearly festival? Would you want to perform there again? Are there other festival you would like to visit?
I really have no idea about the XTreme festival anymore. As far as other festivals I would like to perform at: Dynamo Open Air, Bloodstock, Hellfest, Wacken, Milwaukee Metal Fest. I'm down for anything as long as we get a place to shit, shower and shave.

Describe your practice and recording sessions with Damien and Three Sixes while you worked on the full length?
The recording of Know God, No Peace was a deep, lengthy process that tested our loyalty, friendship and perseverance (sp?) I bow in honor to Damien and Marko, as they worked - day in and day out - on the entire process. Whether it was tracking drums, guitars, working on the mixes. We all knew this was a guitar driven album, and knowing they both had my back, I felt assured that my tracks would best represent the songs. I was working as an actor in the film industry. Backing up in time, we started the process quite a while ago. Damien and I had already put together Lead Winged Angel, and played it live a few times along with Whiskey, our former bass player. We hit some walls with what we wanted to do, and then came the explosion of musical diarrhea, proceeding after we decided to make the most brutal, honest album we could. We were out of fucks to give and had nothing to lose at that point.

Having recorded full length releases together, does the band prefer working with outside parties or working independently?
I'm sure we would love to have Taylor Swift or Celine Dion swing by for some guest vocals. We've done everything independently to this point, let's see what the future holds. 

How much work did you see Damien and Marko put into the full length during the recording sessions?
Know God, No Peace wouldn't have become a reality if it wasn't for Damien and Marko. They were literally there through the whole process. During recording, mixing, mastering, whatever. Can't give them enough credit for that...

Did you appear in any promotional videos by the band, such as Lead Winged Angel? How would you rate that video production-wise?
I was in the official video for Lead Winged Angel, but as far as promotional videos, I can't recall. Maybe my amazing glutes made an appearance?

How much of a hand did you have in Three Sixes’ cover of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck? Describe the creative input you had.
For the most part, Marko is the end all be all of how that song came to the table. We all thought it was a great idea, as we love the original. All I did was do what I do best: play tight ass rhythm tracks, and act like I know what I am doing when it comes to playing a guitar solo (or two).


-Dave Wolff