Thursday, May 31, 2018

Band Interview: RITUAL SERVANT

RITUAL SERVANT
Interview with Patrick Best

Christian heavy metal (also referred to as white metal) began in the mid 1980s with bands like Stryper and Trouble. How widespread has the genre become in thirty-plus years? What do you think accounts for its growth in popularity?
As far as its growth in popularity, we are very new to the whole CM scene. I can't speak for the band in general, but in my opinion and from what I have seen, it has been in a decline since the late 90's. Christian metal was much more marketable and widespread in the 80's and early 90's from what I have researched because there was no internet and people supported live music way more. I think more so however that its steady decline has been from artists watering down their lyrics and focusing on God's wrath of the Old Testament more than faith, renewal and Christ's love for all. Due to this I think fans have crossed over to the Christian Rock, Contemporary and Worship music genre, which is mainstream and huge right now. People have been in struggle over the moral decay and depravity of this fallen world and are in need of so much love and hope right now and those genres in that scene inspire that in the lyrics and music. Sadly so much hate and violence has been generated and associated with metal that a lot of CM fans have gravitated towards a more positive and peaceful musical atmosphere and left the metal world.

I’ve noticed how often religion in general is used an excuse to control and propagate fear and hatred, especially in the last ten years. Does this contribute to the social decay in the U.S. and the world in general? What is Ritual Servant’s role in reaction to this?
I think pride and power overall lead to this type of fear and corruption which rallies hate. As far as religion, I personally believe true Christianity as Christ's teachings demonstrate, to be a relationship, not a religion. Religion seeks to control and manipulate, but Christ presents freewill; the ability to choose your own path for every person, and on the flip side His unconditional love for all, where none are unworthy. No matter what we may think we have done or not done, we are all still welcome at God's table. Sadly because all belief systems are exercised by humans and we are all flawed, none will ever get it right, but that's the whole reason Christ died for us and took our place on the cross. He knew we would never get it right, but with Christ living in us and through us, we can truly live and accomplish His work and our purpose while we are here on earth.

Christ is also said to have said something along the lines of “my father’s mansion has many halls.” Would you say this applies to belief systems other than Christianity?
The actual verses are John 14:2-3 and Jesus speaks of rooms not halls. As far as other belief systems, my answer is best explained by what Jesus said to Thomas and the disciples in John 14. "In my Father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you may be also." -John 14: 2-3 "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." -John 14:6

What are the worst examples of religion used to manipulate and control? One example I thought of is the intolerance practiced by the Westboro Baptist Church. Do you consider them a religious group or a cult? What is your view toward religious cults?
As a Christian I am not out to talk negatively about any group or religious cult. Sadly some use fear as a way to control or spark hate. We will all be judged one day for every idle word that we have ever spoken and only God is allowed to judge the hearts of others. I think this verse says it best referring to the woman that was about to be stoned for adultery by the scribes and Pharisees in the book of John. "And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” -John 8:7

Some people think Christian metal is wrong because the lyrics are at odds with what is termed ‘the devil’s music.’
Personally I think music is an art and expression of feelings. There's no definitive sound, "Christian" or "Devil" by the music alone. To me the lyrics personify and embody the content and message suggestion of the music. The lyrics lead way to the labeling of the music created and what message it's trying to convey. Without lyrics how would anyone know what music was specifically branded when it came to "Christian" or "Devil" music? These days even the lyrics of some are so watered down and hidden behind the music it’s hard to determine even what the band has labeled themselves. I think artists are worried about pigeon-holing themselves into a corner and limiting their audience so most leave it open to listener interpretation. As the vocalist, I specifically wanted the Christian label because that is my heart and the music is completely Scripture-based so there's no misinterpreting the allegiance to Christ. Even the back of our shirts say, "Scripture-based - Christ Exalted - Metal Gospel." Personally to me being lukewarm is a waste of time. You are either hot or cold in your beliefs. Believers have become so obsessed with John 3:16 that they forget or don't know about Revelations 3:16.... "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth."

When did you discover Christian themed metal and what about it inspired you? What led you to start a band of your own?
I actually didn't really discover Christian metal until after I started Ritual Servant. It was then after a couple of months of releasing our first two tracks did the labels start taking an interest in what we were doing and contacted us about releasing a full record. I began to do some research on the labels and started checking out their rosters and what bands were sounding like on their respected labels. I started Ritual Servant not because of Christian metal, but because I had decided to lay down my secular lifestyle with the band I was in previously and totally surrender and re-dedicate my life to Christ, but this time fully, meaning my music too. I wanted to give back the gifts the Holy Spirit had given me and one of them was influence and teaching through music.

Was it relatively easy to find band members to work with after you started? What is the lineup at this point?
Finding band members kinda fell right into place. I first asked Seth, my drummer, to join because we both had felt in the past we would work together on something in the future because of our styles and personalities. He, ironically, was leaving the band he was in so it was totally set up by God. Then when we were recording the first two tracks, our producer Brian asked to play bass on the project, so there again it fell into place. Then I thought of Charley because he's such an incredible guitarist and I had met and become friends with him a few years back when I lived in North Carolina. I knew his style would fit perfect with the sound and writing Seth and I were doing and as a true blessing, it was a spot on match. My other friend Johnny, who also lives in North Carolina, was a musician and producer and with a studio and has been recording all of Charley's solos on the songs we've collaborated on.

Is Ritual Servant the first band you all have worked in together? How long were you musicians before the lineup solidified and how well do you function as a band?
Ritual Servant is our first band collaboration together. We are all seasoned-musicians. So far the writing process has been extremely productive and satisfying. Let’s hope and pray for more!

How many labels expressed interest in helping promote Ritual Servant after you released your earliest material?
We had three labels contact us after the first two songs were on Bandcamp and had been made to lyric videos on our Youtube channel. Then four more hit us up after our EP - 777 - was released.

Who were the labels that contacted the band after the release of your two songs and debut EP? Which of them had a release and distribution deal that would benefit all involved? How many labels have you heard of that support Christian metal?
Due to professionalism and the good chance we will work with one or more of these labels, until we announce our partnership, we would like to keep things quiet. From what I have come across not too many. I would say there are about maybe ten I know by name. That's not to say other independent labels wouldn't support a Christian act. We were asked by a label in Italy that was secular to sign as a Christian act so I think it all depends on if they like your presentation and feel you are marketable.

How long was it before you began corresponding with members of other Christian bands? From your experience writing other bands, is the community generally accepting of Ritual Servant?
We had immediate response from other members of Christian and secular bands when our first single SEVEN TRUMPETS was released back in fall of 2016. Since then we have had steady support from many artists and members of bands. It has been a real blessing for us so far to be backed and stood behind the way we have from our fans. All glory to God.

What were the lyrics of Seven Trumpets written about? Where did the inspiration come from? How much have your lyrics improved from the release of Seven Trumpets to the release of 777?
All RS lyrics are Scripture-based. SEVEN TRUMPETS is based on the book of Revelations and the Second Coming of Christ. It was the second song I wrote when I decided to start a CM band back in December of 2016. I wrote the SACRIFICE first right before Christmas and SEVEN TRUMPETS right before New Year’s. Seth and I decided however to release SEVEN TRUMPETS first because we felt it was a song that would grab everyone right out of the opening.....and it did. It’s our most watched lyric video so far...

Name some of the bands who got in touch with you and have extended support to Ritual Servant. Do you see any collaborations such as split releases happening between you and those bands?
We haven't reached out to many bands for help or to do split releases etc. We have purely concentrated on getting God's word out by releasing a single at a time and focused on writing and recording the full eight songs to put out a physical copy hopefully this summer. After we sign and release, we would love to collaborate with different metal bands interested and do some live festival gigs.

How much has releasing material independently helped the band get word around so far? What social media sites have been most beneficial?
So far, releasing the music a song at a time has really been incredible. At first we released digitally and with lyric videos the first two tracks - THE SACRIFICE and SEVEN TRUMPETS. We knew we wanted to do an EP and we needed a third track so 4 months later we released THE JUST and did the lyric video for it. We then 2 months later released all 3 as an EP titled 777.
We were asked by a label to sign and release the EP as a physical copy, but we felt it would be a better choice to wait until we had a full album together for the physical copy. Later, I started becoming convinced by the Holy Spirit to release each song as a single as we finished them so that we could continue to get God's word out and at the same time give our audience something to look forward to instead of having them wait a year or so for the full album and lose our momentum and contact with the fans. This choice has worked out incredibly well for us.
Our four sites are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Bandcamp. Bandcamp has been a great digital platform for us to share the music with people and had been very successful so far. We have been very blessed from our listeners and audience's support. Thank you everyone and all glory to God.

Name some of the metal fests held near you, where you have considered making appearances. Are there local venues where the band have performed of late?
We haven't talked about fests or concentrated on anything other than recording and releasing the music. All of us have been very busy in our personal lives and we feel if God wants us to tour or play live, once this record is done and out, He will make it happen. Right now we just feel blessed that we are able to write, record and release music for His glory and whatever plan He has for it will be revealed to us when He is ready. Get ready for more music and the full album! All glory to our Lord.

How soon does the band plan to start writing material for a new release?
We released digitally our debut EP - 777 - in June of 2017. We then have released 2 singles since then digitally and plan on releasing more as we get them recorded as individual singles. Then when we have all eight songs released digitally on our Bandcamp platform, we will release a physical copy for all the fans that have been asking, hopefully through a label with overseas distribution, since our biggest fan base is in Brazil and Ecuador.


-Dave Wolff

Video Review: THE CHRIS CYANIDE BASS SOLO PROJECT 8 String Bee Sting by Dave Wolff

8 String Bee Sting (Official music video)
Place of origin: New Rochelle, New York, USA
Genre: Prog rock, heavy metal, industrial
Shot and edited by M. O'Neill.
Special thanks to Alen Petrovic
Release date: October 1, 2017
This is the new solo project from Chris Cyanide, who has worked with several local acts through the years and is still working to generate a buzz around Long Island and upstate NY. His project’s first promotional video was made for a song called PsychVamp; it was more of an introductory clip to showcase his musicianship. It can be found at Cyanide’s Youtube profile with live videos and promotional stuff. If you like cover bands (I personally don’t care for them, with few exceptions), there are several clips of a Black Sabbath tribute called Covered In Black. From what I understand the bass is difficult to play. I have seen an increasing number of videos featuring bass artists that establish the instrument as an integral part of a band’s sound. Geddy Lee, Joey DeMaio, Peter Steele and other musicians pushed this envelope for years. Today bassists carry it further in inventive ways. This is happening not just in progressive rock but in extreme metal, especially death metal. I admit at first I wasn’t feeling 8 String Bee Sting as much as I first listened to it. But additional listens to this and other Youtube videos something started to take root. Cyanide writes and performs instrumental compositions accompanied by drum programming; this arrangement is where the prog/metal/industrial angle comes from. Keyboards, synthesizers and effects serve to enhance the bass lines just enough for additional push. The formula is well improved in his live performances, with ambience and heaviness. In this video the programming sounds thinner but a few beats complement the bass lines nicely. Cyanide uses an eight string custom bass in this piece; from watching him in the video he handles it like a four-string and channels much concentration into his lines. The song is accompanied by a series of seemingly unrelated images. One shot of a masked Cyanide performing in a graveyard is followed by another of him preparing to eat a bowl of nails. I would guess this represents the effort he is making to pull his influences into a cohesive shape, to find his niche in the growing number of solo bassists making independent videos. The bee imagery seems to be about his claiming center stage after many years of playing in bands and showing what he is capable of as a solo musician. The project’s Facebook profile hosts some more live clips as well as rehearsal videos. Check them out and see what you think of them. -Dave Wolff

Monday, May 28, 2018

Full Length Review: JEREMY VOID Irrelevant Discourse (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Independent
Place of origin: Rutland, Vermont, USA
Genre: Spoken word
Release date: April 13, 2017
Irrelevant Discourse is a poetry album from the mind of a poet, artist, novelist and owner of Chaos Writing who has written fifteen books in his career. This is his third recorded collection of poems since 2016, the first two being Absurd Nihilism and Word Vomit. As they say, the thoughts Jeremy Void captures on paper and record, based on the experiences of his life, are not for the faint hearted or sensitive minded. His is the voice of the agonized, the confused, the disordered, the desperate, the depressed, the disturbed, and the near insane. His verses have been described as amazing, deviant and devastating. He is said to deliver them as a kamikaze pilot and with a certain brilliance you have to search for with an objective, observant effort to discover the truth of his existence. Understanding what he is trying to communicate to the listener just might lead to discovering the reality of human existence, if you are not part of the part of the world that hides the most lurid characteristics of human nature from itself. If you thought the diatribes of Lydia Lunch and Diamanda Galas are intense you need to listen to the fierceness and vehemence of this collection of prose. Void recites with a stream of consciousness more like an all-out assault on your sense of self-awareness, and if you’re unprepared you may find your world view is not exactly the same as before you listened. If you prefer to read the poems Void submitted to this zine you’ll have an idea what to expect from this recording. Still, his work is all the more effective when you hear them as he envisioned them. These poems are not only assaults on your mind, they are assaults on your soul. Inner conflict and introspection become one and the same the more you experience his recitals. Void uses repetition to drive his point home about love, fear, hate, life, death, alienation, addiction, meaningless sex, destitution, emptiness, regret and self-destruction as well as the judgmental, pseudo-intellectual selfishness of others disguised as moral prerogatives. There are no efforts to whitewash the concepts described above or lessen their impact. They are just slammed into your head with inexorable force, unappeasable in their desire to consume you. It’s hard to choose any single poem as an example as each of them hit you with such force you’ll feel you’ve lived through these experiences firsthand. Really the only way to completely understand his message. -Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Broken
2. I begin to notice
3. PANIC || a t t a c k
4. In a New City
5. The Crazy
6. A Thorn in My Mind
7. Let me dream if I want to
8. Collateral Damage
9. Come Be Androgynous with Me
10. L-U-V
11. Talking
12. That which shall not be named
13. Evacuate!
14. The Siren's Song
15. Don't go into the light!
16. Self-Destruct
17. Timeless Indecisions
18. United We Divide
19. Soundly I lie awake
20. When the Night Comes Alive
21. Collateral Damage, the alternate version (featuring Gregory Higgins)

Friday, May 25, 2018

Full Length Review: GEISTERFELS La névrose de la pierre (Six Raw Records) by Dave Wolff

La névrose de la pierre
Place of origin: France
Genre: Medieval Black metal
Available in CD, streaming and digital format
Release date: October 31, 2017
A concept about a French poet in the nineteenth century is always agreeable, especially in the field of black metal. It’s an imaginative idea to have this poet traveling the Rhine and Mosel valleys and encountering the ruins of castles in his journey. The comparisons the band draw between the scenery and the sorrows of modern times is just as conceptually inventive for a black metal act. This overview made me wish the lyrics were included on this album’s Bandcamp and Youtube links, the storyline sounded that prepossessing to me. It’s yet another concept the genre needs to expand on the power of one individual’s imagination. Geisterfels was founded in 2013 by a French composer and lyricist Céline Rosenheim aka Nebel; with the help of Aharon (Griffon) and Aldébaran (Darkenhöld) she spawns a celebration of ancient history you should hearken to. Besides validating black metal in general it helps establish French black metal as its own being, distinguishable from the scenes in Norway, England et cetera. It strives to stand out as much musically as lyrically. The guitars and lead vocals lend much to the band’s raw sound as it’s explored here, Aldébaran’s chord progressions construct pagan themes that work well with the rasping, alkaline vocal style of Aharon. Most striking is how the progressions transition unpredictably, giving the songs viridity and originality. This occurs during most of time changes and likewise within the blast sections. The band also has a heavu-duty rhythm section, with a prominent bass sound somewhat likened to Steve Harris and percussion providing many fills with the primal blast beats. The atmosphere plays a compelling role here, surfacing at inopportune moments as if presenting something rare and antiquated found by the nameless poet wayfaring through France. This especially keeps the listener in touch with the concept around which the lyrics are built. An essential release, particularly if you’re into extreme metal and poetry. -Dave Wolff

Band lineup:
Nebel: Composition, lyrics
Aharon: Vocals
Aldébaran: All instruments

Track list:
1. Les ruines du castel
2. La sentinelle du Rhin
3. Im Nebel
4. Il neige sur l'Eltz
5. Geisterfels
6. Der Tod und die schwarze Gräfin
7. La chapelle recousue
8. Puis vint la chute


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

EP Review: CONFESSOR AD Too Late To Pray (Nihilistic Holocaust)

Too Late To Pray
Place of origin: Strasbourg, France
Genre: Black/death metal
Release date: March 5, 2018
I’m definitely not hearing the most original death/black metal of the year here. However the French band Confessor AD composed an excellent EP with dark elements, thrash elements and roots in death and black metal from the 90s. They have many influences musically speaking, and I’m sure their melodic guitar riffs are not casual. I like Too Late To Pray because it sounds direct and crude; the real essence of underground metal. For a strange reason they have moments where the guitar riffs remind me of the old Spanish gods Canker: furious death metal with technical touches and extremely solid bass lines. This is another killer production from the French label Nihilistic Holocaust, which is well known for good young metal bands around the globe. This EP production has many good points for an extreme metal act. Just listen to the middle section of “Silent War”. But it also has many mistakes (some drum tempos and guitar harmonies are not well executed) here and there. It’s nothing that a few hours behind rehearsal room doors can’t fix. so no worries. Keep an eye out for this band and support the underground! -Victor Varas

Track list:
1. Deafening Confession
2. Haunting Enemies
3. Hipster Killer
4. Silent War
5. Endless Night

Full Length Review: KRYPTS Remnants of Expansion (Dark Descent Records) by Victor Varas

Remnants of Expansion
Dark Descent Records (Colorado, USA)
Place of origin: Finland
Genre: Doom/death metal
Release date: October 28, 2016
This is a gem from 2016. If you are old school you should know today’s classic death metal scene in north Europe is as healthy as it was 25 years ago. Coming from Finland, the filthy entity Krypts has been active since 2008 and was formed with people from bands like The Beheading, Gorephilia, and Hooded Menace. Jesus, what a mix of putrid brains! This is nothing but a dark piece of doomed death metal, highly rooted in horrid atmosphere, abyssal gutturals and dense guitar riffs. All the tracks are seriously dark and morbid, with slow tempo sections and oppressive lines. For some moments, simplicity plays into this album musically. But this band knows the meaning of sinister sounds, and compose gloomy tracks. You will find significant compositions forged in tight guitars, much of these are refinement of doom/death metal, with real knowledge of both genres. Krypts has given the world their own style since their 2009 debut demo. It’s the purest essence of doom/death metal that will drive you to the limits of sanity, and blast your speakers at the same time. -Victor Varas

Band lineup:
Antti Kotiranta: vocals, bass
Ville Snicker: guitars
Jukka Aho: guitars
Otso Ukkonen: drums

Track list:
1. Arrow of Entropy
2. The Withering Titan
3. Remnants of Expansion
4. Entrailed to the Breaking Wheel
5. Transfixed

Monday, May 21, 2018

Full Length Review: ZWAREMACHINE Be A Light (Phage Tapes) by Dave Wolff

Be A Light
Place of origin: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Genre: Industrial, cyber, darkwave
Format: CD/Cassette/Digital
Release date: April 11, 2018
The three musicians comprising Zwaremachine (Mach FoX, Adam01, Ryan Ruckus) have been composing since the early 2010s. I’ve heard different descriptions of them from various sources, including industrial, cyber, ebm, darkwave, dark experimental, dark and futuristic and Minimal Hypnotic Industrial Body Music (this last has to be the most convincing when it comes to outlining their music). Even stranger is their bio statement: “dark and dangerous individuals known for various stunts including walking through walls, time-shifting, and designing futuristic sonic weaponry.” The band write and compose almost exclusively with keyboards and electronic instruments, with minimal use of string instruments, and some of the things they do as a three man band might even make Rush back up a step and go “holy shit...” I get the feeling from my research that their mystique relies heavily on their live performances, and you have to see them to fully appreciate their concept. Be A Light is a lengthy release from this project, with seven original tracks and twice as many remixes. If you’re enthusiastic in a grand manner about darkwave and industrial, there are different interpretations of the original songs drawing from seemingly inexhaustible sources. As you listen you begin to consider how many sections in each track would be more compelling accompanied by visuals presented in their shows. I visited their official website to look for promotional videos, and found four. Watching the videos; DRKNRG, Person To Person, Person To Person (Paul Birken Remix), Be A Light (ENDIF Remix); I see how the cyber-psychedelic visuals reinforce the songs. Each promotional video has different effects, which would all be engaging if displayed on TV monitors or a screen positioned behind the band. The video for Person To Person (Paul Birken Remix) is a futuristic simulation or an exercise in virtual reality I found to be comparable to the sci fi noir of The Terminator, Aliens and Blade Runner. As a science fiction fan this video most deeply resonated with me. The remix adds dimensions I wouldn’t have expected to find. Be A Light (ENDIF Remix) is simultaneously cyber, bleak and trippy, offering the listener a natural high without the chemicals. Those two remixes made me want to listen to the others, and I generally like the remixes of the songs more than the inceptive versions. While I have delved into techno and industrial on and off for many years, this album may well inspire me to seek out more albums of those genres. -Dave Wolff

Band lineup:
Mach FoX - vocals/programming/visuals
Adam01 - synthesizer
Ryan Ruckus - electronic percussion

Track list:
1. Pulse
2. Our Revenge
3. Be A Light
4. IEYEI
5. Another Way
6. DRKNRG
7. Person To Person
8. Our Revenge (IWMF Remix)
9. Be A Light (Audiocentesis Remix)
10. IEYEI (Planktoon Remix)
11. Another Way (Thosquanta Remix)
12. Person To Person (TIMMYtheTAPEWORM P2PonPCP Remix)
13. Our Revenge (The Manitou Neon Acid Remix)
14. Be A Light (Lawless 388 Remix)
15. Another Way (Dirty Mckenzie Remix)
16. Another Way (Severin24 Remix)
17. Be A Light (Roughhausen Remix)
18. Be A Light (DDD Single Battalion Remix)
19. Be A Light (ENDIF Remix)
20. Person To Person (Paul Birken Remix)
21. Person To Person (Planktoon Remix)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Article: 'Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Cover Ups' by Roberta Downing

Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Cover Ups
Article by Roberta Downing, May 18, 2018

Long before the #MeToo campaign and women marching on stairs to stand up for their rights to be treated fairly, the Catholic Church in Rome had already become the world’s most notorious pedophile rings in history. The abuse can be traced as far back as the 1950’s but it wasn’t until the 1980’s that silence was broken by the parents and child victims and began telling their stories that were inflicted upon them by priests, bishops and cardinals. There is no way of knowing if these practices were occurring prior to the 1950’s.
The most horrifying aspect is that every Pope that held office since that time has covered these crimes up by moving priests and bishops to other parishes around the world. Paying bribes to the families and victims to keep their mouths shut in order to salvage the “good” reputation of the Holy Roman Church. The pontiffs even went as far as to conceal the crimes or outright deny them without any punishment given to the sex offenders.
It could not be truer that power is absolute corruption. Nowhere is this seen in covering up the sex crimes while continuing their crimes against women, specifically sex prior to marriage, birth control and abortion- all of which do nothing but suppress women and bolster men into believing that men are just not accountable for their actions.
Recently the Karadima case won some notoriety in forcing Pope Francis to take action and since then, yesterday 34 Chilian Bishops resign over even more sex scandals. Francis talks a good game however he has not brought the perpetrators to legal justice and it seems as if he will continue the same lack of action as the former pontiffs in doing nothing but protecting the predators.
It is time for the people to make a stand and hold the Church, the Pontiffs, and the predators responsible and demand that those who have been found guilty within the Church of such crimes be legally arrested outside of the church where they can stand trial in a real court of law for their crimes. How long must our children must be put at risk by the Church? Isn’t it bad enough that our children are put at risk every day by the pedophiles in our own communities?
If women can stand up and say “Me Too”, if Corey Feldman can stand up and say there are pedophile rings in Hollywood, if women and march up the stairs at entertainment events to show solidarity and demand equal rights, why then do we not do the same to take the abusive powers of a corrupted church away and force them to submit to the laws of man and furthermore, force them to stop picking and choosing which biblical laws best suit them rather than holding them to each and every word of their biblical scriptures?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Poet Interview: STEVEN MICHAEL PAPE (third interview)

Interview with poet STEVEN MICHAEL PAPE

You are releasing a new anthology of poems in 2018. Is there anything you can reveal about it before it comes out?
The new book contains over fifty poems touching on subjects like homelessness, gang culture, poverty and other issues in society today. There are also a few nature-themed poems that touch on the various seasons and how they make me feel. The book should be out in June or July; the book itself is complete and I'm waiting on a cover being painted and designed by my friend Tim Bennett. I've seen an example of what he's working on and it's a great, strong themed cover.

In our last interview a year ago you mentioned your previous collections are being favorably reviewed. Are those still being discovered by reviewers today?
I still have people mentioning them, who discovered them either through others or chanced upon a copy in a library somewhere.

What is the title of your new anthology? How did you go about choosing a title that would reflect on the included poems?
The title is 'A Weapon Called The Word.' It was taken from the opening poem, one of the first I wrote. It’s kind of a play on words as it fits in with several poems and represents the strength words can have if used correctly.

How do you define the correct use of words in relation to your writing? Does putting it into practice result in more effective verses?
If for example I'm using a word that isn't used regularly I will research the word, how it can be used so that I'm not making mistakes or using the word out of context. Practice does help. I'm better at fitting words into poems than earlier books and poems. With this book the poems seemed to flow well and weren't difficult to write or organize.

Did it take as much time to write and compile poems for A Weapon Called The Word as your previous anthologies? Your older books cover similar subjects as your new project. Are your new poems approaching the topics differently?
I started writing the poems for this new collection just before 'Life In The Past Frame' was released. So it was about a year in the writing, but they were only rough drafts and ideas. I had to collect everything and start the editing process. Some of the subjects I've written about previously may be revisited, but this is in no way a rehashing of past poems. My poems reflect society and it changes from each book. For example knife crimes and homelessness have risen since my last book in 2017, so this is something I wanted to write about. I like to try different approaches with my writing. Some poems might rhyme while others have more dialogue.

Did your research you based your work on come from newspapers and/or the internet? Since Trump was elected president in the U.S. there has been speculation of war in the news. Is the threat of war a concern in England, or is it mostly viewed as media spin?
I don't read newspapers so some have been articles on the internet, radio news reports etc. If you are writing factually you need to research and make sure you are putting in the relevant facts or terminology. I think the only way Trump has affected English society is that no one seems to like him very much and views him as a fake politician. I suppose there's always a threat but I still believe the media manipulates what they want us to believe.

How much did you revise your new collection of poems before you were finally satisfied?
I tend to first write rough drafts of the poems then do the proper editing, changing lines and words around so it depends on the poem. I've been lucky to have an editor (Rose Terranova Cirigliano) who is able to transfer these into the book and change any that I might want doing. Along the way I've taken some poems out and replaced them with stronger ones.

Has Rose Terranova Cirigliano edited your anthologies since you began publishing or is the arrangement recent? How much does having an editor help your publishing?
This is the first time I've worked with her. I had an editor several years ago for 21st Century Wasteland, Lewis Crystal, who sadly passed away a year after the book’s release. Rose took over the job of publishing an anthology book called FM that Lewis started so I’ve known her for years. She's a great editor, she goes with ideas and imagination to create aspects of this book that look professional and well planned out. Having a good editor takes a huge strain of a writer as they input and change the poems if requested and offer support and advice.

How much experience did Cirigliano have at editing prior to you working together? How much format editing has she done for A Weapon Called The Word?
Rose has a wealth of experience in editing. She's a retired teacher so she understands the beauty words can offer, the power they can attract. She's been editing FM anthology for a long time and she's edited quite a lot of other books for poets and writers. In A Weapon Called The Word I sent her the contents list, then the first ten edited poems and continued that way. I was open to her ideas and she came up with some clever editing, a nice introduction piece well written and other little touches.

How many ideas did Cirigliano contribute to the layout while she was editing?
So many! From the introduction piece to the layout. I'd sent her the contents list how I wanted it to be. Throughout the book we both had ideas. One of mine was to ask certain people to do reviews as blurbs and two starting pages so it draws the reader in. I have some nice words written by several people who know my work and several by people whose work I admire. Like Alan G Parker who has written several books on Sid Vicious and Steve Ignorant the ex-Crass frontman kindly sent a few nice words after I sent him a selection from the book.

How many books has Alan G. Parker written about Sid Vicious? How would you rate the research he did on the Sex Pistols bassist? Would there ever be a collaborative effort between you and he?
Alan has written Sid’s Way, No One Is Innocent and Vicious: Too Fast To Live. He did Satellite: Sex Pistols and also wrote and directed Who Killed Nancy. Alan did a great job researching Sid, from his early years, school records and talking to those who knew him. A collaboration is not in the cards as Alan directs more these days than writes.

Did Parker do a good job putting Who Killed Nancy together? I’ve read Vicious: Too Fast To Live and I found it to have some interesting theories. What are your thoughts on the Vicious/Spungen incident if you have read the book and seen the movie?
He did an amazing job visiting places in New York. It’s a great piece of work. My thoughts on the Vicious/Spungen theory are that Nancy was killed by someone else who she let into Room 100. There are witnesses interviewed in Parker’s film who state Vicious was unconscious on the bed after taking Tuinol tablets when they visited. Sid and Nancy had a substantial amount of money from gigs Sid had done so I think this was the reason for a struggle which Nancy died as a result of. Sid was a convenient suspect for the police as it was an open and shut case in their opinion.

Where in the book are you placing the blurbs? Some authors place them on the back cover and others place them on the first pages before the actual text. Where do you think is the most fitting place where readers will notice them?
I'm putting reviews on the back cover and on the first pages. I think on the back cover is effective as the reader can get a genuine feel of what the book is about from others perspective, reviews before the text should hopefully further confirm that.

How much feedback have your collections received from the English punk scenes and punk scenes in other countries in the past year? If you’ve been corresponding with punks outside of England, do fans generally relate to your books in similar ways?
I guess punk fans in the U.K might like the more political poems but I couldn't really say as I've not had much contact. There is an author who has been working on a book about Sid for years. I've corresponded with him and sent him a poem I did about Sid last year that might hopefully be included in his book.

Who is the author you submitted your poem about Sid Vicious to, and how long have you been corresponding with him? Has he been publishing for a long time? If so, how many publications does he have out?
The author is Brett Dunford. He’s been researching the book and writing it for four years. He released a documentary called, 'Sad Vacation' a few years ago that I have yet to see. I've only just started corresponding with him. We had a great online chat about Sid and he's sending me the first chapter of his upcoming book to read shortly.

Tim Bennett has designed cover art for 21st Century Wasteland, Observations With Half Closed Eyes and A Closed Mind Is An Open Trap. Does his latest piece for you show how comfortable he has become representing your poems?
Tim kindly offered to design the cover for this new book after I sent him a selection of poems. He choose one called 'This Is England' as the inspiration for the cover. His cover art always touches on the poems inside and this new cover is some amazing work.

How would you describe the piece Bennett designed for This Is England, and what aspects of the poem does he capture?
Bennett's artwork, without giving too much away, encapsulates the England poem and others. There are subtle references in the piece that the reader after studying the poems will be able to relate to.

How do your nature themed poems fit with your poems about homelessness, poverty and gang culture? Were they written as a counterpoint to your grittier verses?
I've always been interested in Nature, the changing seasons, the beauty that can be found. I don't want my books to just reflect the darker sides of society; I want to mix that in by saying that there is calmness in Nature. It lightens the book and shows that life isn't always about the problems in society.

With the current state of the world there is a need for escape of one kind or another, no matter how brief. Do your poems based on nature help serve this purpose?
Nature poems are nice to write, there's a feeling of lightness when writing them especially if you are outside and picking up on the smells, noises etc. Some of the poems in this book have touched on despair, so to write a poem or a selection based on Nature is a good way for me to get back to basics, touch Nature and see the beauty there. There's the dark in poetry but also the light.

When writing poems that reflect society in a dark manner, how much can your writing impact you to the point where you have to create a balance?
Poems that reflect on issues like homelessness or deaths aren't always pleasant to write about, though when I highlighted these poems via Facebook before I put them in the book the response was good. I distance myself after the poem is written, and tend to write poems of a lighter tone to break up the subject matter expressed in the emotional poems.

Have your reality based poems or your nature based poems gotten more favorable responses since you started previewing A Weapon Called The Word on Facebook? Or does it depend on each poem?
I think it depends on the poem but when a book is imminent I get more responses with the nature themed work. People still seem to prefer society based poems as they can hopefully relate to them but it depends on people’s preferences.

Name some new poems you are previewing on Facebook and explain why you chose them?
Poems previewed there's been quite a few 'A Strange Little Town' was one I felt people of my hometown would relate to and luckily it was well received. Others were, 'Death Of A Homeless Man', 'Silent Snow' 'Small Town Solidarity' and one called 'Gentleman Ged' about a man I knew briefly for about a year who sadly passed away. I wrote and sent the poem to his family, and they asked if it could be read out at his funeral service which it was. I'm currently setting up an author page on Facebook to help promote this book and others. And I'm planning on doing competitions, giveaways etc. It all helps promotion. It's good for people to leave reviews and it will have a direct link to Amazon.

What sort of competitions and giveaways are you planning to host? Will you be conducting it through Facebook?
I have a few things planned. Some are a surprise and will be totally different but I'll also do the like, comment share kind of thing and pick a name out at random. So most of it will be via Facebook.

Are you considering other social media platforms besides Facebook to promote the release of A Weapon Called The Word?
I'm planning on articles/advertising via the local press who have published my poems in their paper. I'm also hoping to branch out and get the book in several shops in my town so it's easily accessible if people want a copy. Even though it will be available via Amazon I find not many people tend to purchase it from this outlet. I'm hoping this might change with this book. I'd like to see it chart for poetry best-sellers that would be nice.

Are you still seeking major publishing companies to distribute your books, or are you still self-published and satisfied with independent companies?
If a company approached me I'd be interested as it would reach a bigger audience. I still enjoy the D.I.Y ethic with self-publishing; the freedom, no deadlines and doing my own promotion, covers etc. It's still fun for me writing and publishing new books so why it continues being so, I'll continue regardless.

Would you be interested in writing about underground scenes in other countries as your career progresses? What besides nature would you also consider basing poems on?
Everything's possible and writable when proper research is done. I wouldn't mind one day writing childrens’ poems and putting them in a book. That would be fun.


-Dave Wolff

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Single Review: CROONA Killing Me Again (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Killing Me Again
Independent
Place of origin: Gothenburg, Sweden
Genre: Experimental/harsh electro/industrial
Release date: March 19, 2018
Frederick Croona started this project three years ago as an experiment in mixing industrial, trance, electro and what is called futurepop. It mustn’t have been long before he discovered endless territories to move into, since his experimenting progressed to three full lengths and new material on the way. This includes a single released in March, marking his evolution as a musician, songwriter and composer. Croona has made occasional changes to his approach, but makes a point of staying away from labels such as aggropop while keeping a bellicose, rapacious edge. Most of the harshness exists in the vocals, percussion and keyboard effects driving the three versions of Killing Me Again appearing on this single. It’s a few steps ahead of 80s proto-techno, and a few steps away from Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie. Images coming to my mind with the remixes include long forgotten computer machinery described in John W. Campbell’s 1934 science fiction tale Twilight. Twilight is a particularly tragic tale, as computer technology completely wipes out all human ambition in the distant future. It seems to fit the sense of overwhelmed suffocation of the lyrics. Other images will come to the minds of listeners, as some may prefer particular remixes over others. There is much room to choose the way each track is reinterpreted. My own favorite remix is the first, not just for its catchiness and commercial potential but for the most diverse instruments and sounds. The song becomes a mural of infinite textures, with sufficient guitars for techno-metal fans. The second emphasizes clean electronics, and the third sounds composed under more somber a mood with organic percussion, harsher synths and more distortion. I would have to say this remix is my second favorite of the three. You can hear this release and the three full lengths at Croona’s profile at Bandcamp. -Dave Wolff

Band lineup:
Frederick Croona: All instruments

Track list:
1. Killing Me Again
2. Killing Me Again (Aliennation Remix)
3. Killing Me Again (Kounter Mezhure Remix)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Full Length Review: SKINLESS Savagery (Relapse Records) by Dave Wolff

Savagery
Place of origin: Glens Falls, New York, USA
Genre: Brutal death metal
Recorded by Tom Case, Doomsday Bunker Studio, New York, USA and Dave Otero, Flatline Audio, Colorado, USA
Cover art by Jesse Levitt
Available on LP, CD and digital format
Release date: May 11, 2018
For a band that traveled a long journey from the first wave of New York death metal to worldwide renown, having started out by independently releasing demos and appearing on splits release by obscure indie labels, Skinless achieved it through a long line of demos, EPs, videos, splits and full lengths and live appearances with Morbid Angel, Mortician, Suffocation, Dying Fetus, Six Feet Under, Deicide, Immolation, Entombed, Vader, Cattle Decapitation and Grave not to mention the likes of Slayer, Pantera, Exodus and Overkill. Their last full length Only The Ruthless Remain garnered high praise from Terrorizer, Decibel and Metal Sucks who were already praising Savagery before it was even released. They write, “[Savagery] seems designed to cave the listener’s skull in with all the dignified grace of being beaten to death with a hammer.” To me it must be a sledgehammer or even a jackhammer since it feels so as I listen. Keeping at it since 1992 with backbreaking work, unceasing devotion to all things brutal and extensive performing, the band prove as many others have that death metal will always be strong while having something to offer you still can’t find anywhere aboveground. Some similarities to Carcass (Reek Of Putrefaction, Symphones Of Sickness) can be found here with some atmospheric guitars, shades of goregrind, menacing songwriting, precise musicianship and production that is dark, thick and sufficiently balanced to project the technical blast, crunch, bludgeoning drums and guttural vocals directly into your brain. The slam and groove Skinless bring to the table is written so well into the material it sounds natural with the time changes and melodies written in. Holding tight to their old school theme, Skinless are capable of holding their own alongside the newer DM bands of the 2010s by experience alone. From what I read of the lyrics I ascertain their message also reflects early death metal, pointing out how blind obedience leads to mass dumbing down, to premature expiration and ultimately everlasting condemnation of the soul. Relapse Records has been releasing albums by Skinless since 2001; Foreshadowing Our Demise, From Sacrifice To Survival and Trample The Weak, Hurdle The Dead; and I would advise you to check those out as well as Savagery. -Dave Wolff

Band lineup:
Sherwood Webber: vocals
Noah Carpenter: guitars
Dave Matthews: guitars
Joe Keyser: bass
Bob Beaulac: drums

Track list:
1. Savagery
2. Siege Engine
3. Skull Session
4. Reversal Of Fortune
5. Exacting Revenge
6. Medieval
7. Line Of Dissent
8. Cruel Blade Of The Guillotine
9. The Hordes
10. High Rate Extinction (Bonus Track)

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Poem: 'Swiftness' by Alison Stone

Swiftness
by Alison Stone

If you can’t be wise,
be fast. No cheetah stews
in indecision. Even mouse and newt
know when to feint,
then skedaddle toward some fine
elsewhere. Stay nimble. Sift
through your habits before they stif-
fen. Unclench your fists.
What you can’t change, witness.
Be the sun on its bright race west –
unstoppable, burning with news.