Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Full Length Review: Sundrifter "An Earlier Time" (Small Stone Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Sundrifter
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Country: USA
Genre: Desert rock
Full length: An Earlier Time
Format: Digital, CD, vinyl
Label: Small Stone Records
Release date: February 16, 2024
With the release of their third album "An Earlier Time", Sundrifter captures the feeling of reviving an ancient civilization that had some metaphysical connection to the stars that modern civilizations cannot comprehend.
The civilization that existed in the distant past was reduced to ashes by some unspoken apocalyptic event, but its essence remained, not quite forgotten by the descendants of the people who had lived there and preserved all it was over many centuries.
Featuring psychedelic post rock, early grunge and doom metal, this coalescence of sounds unifies the tribal and spiritual attributes of the civilization, venerating its gods in a similar manner as tribal cultures on this world that preserve their history through chronicled accounts and spoken tales.
With each chord progression, bass note, drum hit, and incorporeal vocalz, the band seems to celebrate this not-quite-forgotten culture whose knowledge was passed on to our tribal societies. In the manner of many thrash, death, and black metal bands, Sundrifter extend their musicianship far beyond their influences and previous recordings, conjuring prodigious songwriting and expansive soundscapes.
People whose tastes are variegated between Black Sabbath, St. Vitus, Hum, Soundgarden, Radiohead and Alice In Chains should find a great deal to immerse themselves in from "An Earlier Time" as each song is like its own contained universe with such massive feelings it’s hard to believe they’re created by three musicians. In this sense they're comparable to Jimi Hendrix Experience and Rush.
"Begin Again" is one of the tracks that most potently reflects a reawakening of something old and sacred as well as their galactic connection. It was released as an advance single, and vocalist/guitarist Craig Peura describes it as a representation of confronting one's failures and overcoming them. Bassist Paul Gaughran describes it as incorporating all the musical and non-musical influences that have contributed to "An Earlier Time" becoming a monumental representation of the direction on which Sundrifter intends to travel.
With this album, Sundrifter reaches farther reaches in the cosmos than you’d expect, and you’re given a high so natural and genuine that it is not even necessary to ingest any psychoactive substances to alter your state of mind. –Dave Wolff

Craig Peura: Vocals, guitar
Paul Gaughran: Bass
Patrick Queenan: Drums

Track list:
1. Limitless
2. Space Exploration
3. Nuclear Sacrifice
4. Prehistoric Liftoff
5. Begin Again
6. Want You Home
7. Final Chance
8. Last Transmission

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Interview with Dr. Luna of Antania by Dave Wolff

Interview with Dr. Luna of Antania by Dave Wolff

When Antania formed from the remnants of Luna 13, how did you come to name yourselves after the goddess Hecate and devise the Slayer comparison?
I (Dr Luna) have been an avid devotee of the Dark Goddess since my late teens. I started invoking her while living in India. So the name Antania, a title of hers, seemed fitting. Our first publicist, Selena Fragassi titled my work in bass music as “the bass music scene’s Slayer”.

How did you become interested in invoking Hecate while you were in India, and what were the circumstances that led you to journey there in the first place?
I went to India directly after high school after being diagnosed with an enlarged heart. I heard about ayurveda and I believed it could help my health. I got invoked with Aghora's Kali worship and I felt so connected to it. I started going to India all the time and spent most of my time there practicing Ayurveda and worshiping Kali. Before my guru died, he asked me to westernize my Aghoric path so I shifted from Kali to Hecate.

Tell a little about New York's Temple of Hecate and how you got involved with them? What is the nature of your involvement with this group?
My day job is, I write books about the occult and have books out about Hecate. I have been working with dark paganism for years. I was initiated into the Temple of Hecate as a third degree high priest in 2022.

How long did you study the occult before you were initiated as a third degree high priest?
I have been heavily into the occult since high school. Music and the dark side of occult are my passion.

How many books have you published about Hecate to date, and how much research did you undertake while writing them? In addition to Hecate, what other subjects have you published your books on? Is there a website where people can learn a little about them?
Two books on Hecate. “Hecate: Death, Transition and Spiritual Mastery” and “Hecate II, The Awakening of Hydra”. “Hecate II” has a forward by Twin Peaks’ Sheryl Lee. I also have two books out about an ancient Astrology system used by Alexander the Great. Amazon is the best place to find them.

How extensive was your research on Alexander the Great's ancient Astrology system while you were writing about it?
Interesting to note that Indian professors seem to know a lot more about Hellenistic mysticism then the west. I was handed the book “The Javanataka” at in Indian library and translated the science of it out of sheer boredom, not knowing that had never been done before. My book “Asterian Astrology, The List System of Alexander the Great” has my translation in the front and the actual “Yavanajataka” in the back. Alexander the Great had a much bigger influence on the East then the West.

What was the length of time it took you to translate “The Javanataka”? How extensive was your research in compiling and writing “Asterian Astrology”?
It’s would have been a real challenge if I don’t have the education that I had with Vedic Astrology. I was well versed in Vedic and that made the translation pretty smooth.

Do you offer “Asterian Astrology” exclusively online or is it also available in print? Is it available for purchase online or in any local or major bookstores?
“Asterian Astrology” is available in print via Tara Press. It’s in most book stores.

What are some of the differences between the astrology represented in “Asterian Astrology” and contemporary astrology?
Contemporary or western astrology is a fluke. It’s 24 degrees off the constellations. The zodiac in the sky moves 1 degree every 72 years. Catholicism made observing the stars illegal 2000 years ago so the tropical astrology is stuck with alignments that no longer connect to the starts above. All ancients used Sidereal astrology.

There has been an availability of “Asterian Astrology” since 2010. What has been the response to the publication since it was released?
The publishing industry won’t allow Sidereal to succeed because Tropical makes 56 million dollars a year. Yet Asterian astrology has a huge underground following and is the chosen system of innumerable celebrities in Hollywood.

Who in Hollywood, that you are aware of, has adapted Asterian astrology as an alternative to more widely known systems?
Chelsea Handler, Rashida Jones, Drena Dinero, Meghan McCain, Regina Hall and Sheryl Lee are just a few. Several I cannot mention.

Do you have experience playing in bands before Antania? What genres did they cover and what was their level of activity locally? What point in your career did you realize you wanted to pursue a different path?
I was in the band Kill The Gods in high school and had some moderate success in that band as a bass player. I fell ill at the age of eighteen, ended up leaving music and moving to India to repair my health. I started playing synthesizers while living in India and started creating the sound of Bass Metal at that time. I saw “The Prodigy” perform in London and came up with the idea to do a black metal version of them and that solidified what I do now.

In what ways did you develop black/doom bass in order to stand out in the local/underground music industry? Could you tell the readers how Antania has grown since it was founded?
I knew from playing synthesizers that I could create one of the heaviest sounds out there. You have to see us live to feel how much power comes off this sound I created. Antania is one of the heaviest projects on Lucifer’s green earth. I love seeing faces when just two people walk on stage and Metalheads will be like “this can’t be that heavy because there are only two of them” and when the sound hits, mouths drop. Antania is a monster.

In order to achieve the sound you desired, how much experimentation did you undertake? Did Luna 13 have any impact on your experimenting?
Luna 13 is when I was able through trial and error create the sound of bass metal that I so desired. Almost as soon as I perfected it, Luna 13 was over. The final and most perfected vision was meant for Antania.

In order to achieve your desired sound, what equipment do you use? Was finding equipment that worked for you as important to your experimentation as trying out different sounds?
Yes! I use plug-ins over massive and so forth. Plug-ins are how I create this sound. I also purposely use older equipment to generate my desired sound. I use a Yamaha drum machine to create drums and a microbrute to create bass lines.

Tell the readers of how your collaboration with Erik Aircrag happened for your “Lividity” demo.
Luna 13 opened for Hocico twice and I came to really like Erk. Not only do I love the band Hocico, they were awesome to tour with. Erk and I would hang out and talk about spirituality and consciousness. He’s a super cool person. I asked if I could work with his voice and he sent me his vocals for Angels and Demons and I created the song around it.

Let us know how you came to work with Blackened Kali Mortem, and how well you work together when it comes to practicing, developing your sound, and thinking up ideas.
Kali Mortem was Luna 13’s photographer yet had some history with singing. Right after Luna 13 ended, she stepped in and became the singer for Antania. I already had several songs already written, she just had to step in and lay down vocals.

How long did it take Kali to adapt to your lyrics and sound? When she started working with you, how much singing experience did she have and how does that benefit your material?
She was a big fan of Luna 13 so she was well versed in the sound I created already. I am constantly writing music and lyrics so all she had to do was Create vocals around them. She adapted to playing live fast.

Name the songs you have written and describe how the music and lyrics complement one another.
I write everything at the moment. Kali does create her own vocal approached and really concentrated on the live shows the most. I believe she will contribute a lot more in the future. Yet I am one of those musicians that is constantly wrong and creating evil music. Occult Spirituality and music are my only interests. Music takes the lead as I firmly believe sound is the highest power.

With the signing of the digital distribution deal, how well known has The Triad Records helped the band become in Europe and elsewhere?
We love Triad and they helped us grow in Italy and surrounding countries. They got us in the main Italian magazines as well.

How has your sponsorship from Kat Percussion helped the band make a name for themselves?
It was as important as getting a record deal. I drop bass live and pound those industrial electronic drums. They saw me using all their stuff backwards live and decided to endorse me. It’s helped validate this type of bass metal I created.

In the past few years, at how many fests have you played and what has the response been like?
We headlined the Black Metal Mass in Oklahoma and played at the Mechanimus Festival in Seattle. We also just booked a huge festival in Portland, Oregon for 2025 this week. We have been well received everywhere. The sound and power of Antania is so unique it really blows people away. No video online can prepare you for how heavy our sound is live.

Since the start of your current tour in January, how have things been going for the band? In what parts of the world has the band appeared date, and where will you perform in the future?
We ended up having to cancel our Texas dates because we both got Covid opening for Trapt. We are getting ready to tour Europe for the first time. Here is our schedule at the moment. We have a west coast tour for July that we will be announcing.

03/16 Fitzgerald’s Bar-San Antonio, TX
03/18 RockHouse-El Paso, TX
04/30 Whisky Ago Go-Hollywood, CA

Support Psyclon Nine
05/18 Klub Pod Minoga-Poznań, Poland
05/20 Backstage Club-Munich, Germany
05/22 Kulttempel-Oberhausen, Germany
05/24 O'Sullivan's--Paris, France
05/26 Le Ferrailleur Nantes, France

What role has Kali played in contributing to the sound of the band during those performances? What are some of the most interesting tour stories you have to share?
Kali brings this very real black metal voice. It’s super original and contributes greatly to our sound. We were pulled over one time for driving with the car lit up with marijuana and let go by the police. This was in Ohio as well where their laws against marijuana are strict. We also played two venues where the song “In the Fire” leveled their sound system. We are pretty new so more stories are coming.

How has the response been to your new full-length album “The God Complex” since Triad released it last January? Has your video for the title track been successful in promoting it?
Yes. As a matter of fact we had a couple of managers interested in working with us because of it. We are making another video with Matt Zane.

In your experience, which songs recorded for “The God Complex” have shown the greatest rapport and potential for growth between you and Kali?
That’s the thing about being a duo, every song has a meaning. I think songs “August” which is the sixth song on the release, because Kali is born on August 6 and “D3D Solz” which has my favorite vocals on the release.

Are you planning to begin writing and composing new material as soon as possible? What are your plans for refining and developing your sound in the future?
I am constantly creating bass lines in my head and probably already have four or five songs already written. Yet we will take our time and support this release probably for a couple years but could easily see putting out an EP early next year.

-Dave Wolff

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Full Length Review: Lockdown "Step Over The Bodies" (Selfmaderecords LLC) by Dave Wolff

Band: Lockdown
Location: Manhattan, New York
Country: USA
Genre: Hardcore
Full length: Step Over The Bodies
Format: Digital album
Label: Selfmaderecords LLC (distributed by Earache Records Digital Distribution)
Release date: February 5, 2024
New York Hardcore has survived a great deal since it was founded in the early 1980s, and despite corporate greed and media spin in recent years, it is bigger than ever. That persistence of purpose on "Step over the Bodies" enables Lockdown to thrive and grow as it always has, with little to no assistance from the aboveground media.
"You say I'm simple, I say I'm pure" is a line from "Hard to the Core" that expresses the band's commitment to their roots and attitude. Their involvement with bands like Agnostic Front, Biohazard, Madball and Leeway, along with hiring former members of Bile, has led them to introduce industrial themes into their crossover of hardcore and metal.
Underlying every track appearing on "Step Over The Bodies" is a low, insinuating rumble. By nature it characterizes the dingy subways, gravelly streets and collectively shared outrage of a generation that perceives having been discarded, and perceives unanswered questions that persist in their relevance. Some bands achieve this sound with keyboards and synthesizers; Lockdown do so with their bass sound and the essence of industrial music conveyed from Bile.
Those undertones increase in intensity through the album, not overpowering from the outset but progressively grinding the listener by way of pertinacious energy, crunch, breakdowns and groove. Imagine Jamey Jasta and Hatebreed, but more incensed with reinforced heaviness, professionalism and conviction. The slightly mechanized production in the guitars adds the feel of a city increasingly cold and modern while the new buildings forget those on the bottom.
Everything that is happening around the band seems to have bolstered their resolve to air their disillusionment and be heard. In some ways, "Step over the Bodies" resembles a dystopian concept album, except that the dystopia is real and you’re thrust directly into the lead character’s point of view. You witness society becoming a dystopia firsthand. If, on the other hand, people believe punk and hardcore are about being angry at the world in which the music is produced, there is much to be angry about. And a positive outcome can be achieved by channeling the anger. –Dave Wolff

Eric Roi: Vocals
Jeff Lombardi: Guitar, vocals
Justin P. Flynn: Guitar
Lorenzo Golia: Bass
Robert Proimos: Drums

Track list:
1. Step Over The Bodies
2. Enlightenment
3. Trail Of Tears
4. Hard To The Core
5. Hatred
6. Human Racist
7. Blind Rage
8. Steadfast
9. Respect Collected
10. Duked
11. Won't See Me Comin
12. Eternal
13. My Side
14. Trail Of Tears (REMIX)
15. Hard To The Core (REMIX)

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Single Review: The D.O.O.D.: The Distinguished Order Of Disobedience "Subterfuge" (Selfmaderecords LLC) by Dave Wolff

Location: Sarasota, Florida
Country: USA
Genre: Melodic death metal, groove metal
Single: Subterfuge
Format: Digital track
Label: Selfmaderecords LLC (distributed by Earache Records Digital Distribution)
Release date: February 14, 2024
Erik Leviathan recommended this new single from The D.O.O.D. for an upcoming Valentine's Day review, the day of its release. As I was just beginning my interview with this band, I went back and listened to most of their full-length albums to get a feel of them. I favor “Playtime in the Apocalypse” the most for its criticism of religious intolerance in general and the Westboro Baptist Church in particular.
It is clear just from that album the band is not only feeling displeasure and ire toward this, but actively seek to inflame it through their song and lyric writing, encouraging listeners to join them in subvert people who adapt religion as a weapon, means of control or means of escalating hate. This subverting is not necessarily accomplished by violent acts, but by taking critical thinking to an extreme, as they do with their music.
This frame of mind can be perceived in “Subterfuge”, the follow-up to the single released on January 10. In a wide range of styles, from grindcore and goregrind to death metal and melodic death metal to groove metal and funk metal, The D.O.O.D. lingers in a steady state of density, building energy to evoke ire in anyone who takes the time to read the lyrics.
The song does not read as a diatribe against a single target, but rather as a statement against all forms of media and entertainment that encourage muteness and gratification without awareness, or lull people to accept the ways of the world without questioning it or speaking out. Not as a result of underdeveloped denial and reaction either, but rather as a result of experience, practical knowledge, and reason.
As the act of restarting your mind after removing it from the complacency that society seems to thrive on of late has become increasingly popular among bands, this is a band you may want to give a listen to. –Dave Wolff

Brian Monkeyboy: Vocals
Indiana: Guitar
Raymus: Guitar
Jonzey: Bass
Dogbite: Drums

Interview with David Uhrlaub A.k.a Dante DarkChilde of Hypnotic Subliminal Records by Dave Wolff

Photo by  R.J. Sloup
Interview with David Uhrlaub A.k.a Dante DarkChilde of Hypnotic Subliminal Records

You started Hypnotic Subliminal Records to reawaken your local goth scene and became a nonprofit label supporting about sixteen bands and giving them most of the live proceeds. Explain the label’s evolution?
I want to first give credit to its founder Sammy Devil aka Sammy D. He was the one who approached me to help him with this idea. He had noticed that the scene had died down and it was harder for the new goth bands or ones from the U.K. struggled to get hold and traction in the U.S.A. unless they had a label backing them, so he researched what it would take to make a label that didn't need to take the lion’s share from the bands, that we would promote, book, and have a gathered place to put them for others to find. Also how to have area directors that had connections to venues and other bands to open for those from the U.K. and those in the U.K. open for our American and Latin goth bands who we promote and book. I pitched the idea of expanding past just bands and D.J.s to artists, models, sideshow performers, burlesque and Cabaret groups. Sammy D already had our original sixteen bands gathered and our first area directors. He began the first tour for My Own Burial from Barcelona, Spain and brought them here. We never promised them what we couldn't deliver. We made sure they got all merchandise and 80% of the show. The area director kept 20% to some of our cost. We are not in it for the money, we are in it for the community. We are expanding into sideshow performers, models and artists that carry a gothic edge. We will promote their work and sites and book performances and festivals bringing all of the dark decadence of our world to the masses.

What was the goth scene’s level of activity before it started to wane? Did the labels that take the majority of profits from bands play a role? Did other factors contribute to the problem such as lack of advertising or high admission prices?
OK, so the Goth scene was a large community from the early 1990s to the early 2000s. It began its wane in, I would say, 2008. Don't get me wrong, there are still pockets and groups that are strong and out there, but instead of actual full blown goth clubs and gatherings there are some places that have a weekly or monthly goth night. Most of the time it seems that it is mostly DJs or can music playing on those nights, and often you don't see a lot of goth based bands local or otherwise playing in these venues. This seems to come from either the venues or the label charging exorbitant amounts either to the promoter or the booking agent to use their facility. That falls back onto the label due to the fact that it is the label that books and promotes, so it has to come out of the artist at 50%, up to 90% of what a band or entertainer makes. So only those that can pay get to play. Sadly that cuts the throat of great bands. Slowly they lose interest and fall to the wayside or end up only in their local scene. Sure you can put your music on streaming services but that does not provide the experience this generation craves. I do believe the high cost and take from the bands is what has caused a decline in the gothic subculture. As it is a music-based community it stagnated and needs new music and bands to help rejuvenate it. So I do believe the lack to properly promote and book and having to charge high admission prices has created a huge rift in keeping the gothic community alive and thriving. Alongside the elitist mentality that has formed within the community and the lack of wanting to evolve and grow makes it difficult for some of the younger generation goths to want to participate.

How much research did Sammy D conduct while preparing to form the label? What resources were at your disposal to build it from the ground up?
Sammy D, had done a lot of digging and research to see what was going to be needed, and he looked into how some of the groups in the U.K. got their scene to rejuvenate. That was by having people look for venues and bars that were struggling that we could utilize for new bands and places to create goth havens in. That would create a boost in their revenue and pull the goths out into one place to enjoy the scene as it should be in real life. Most of the goths are like bats, we are in some ways very social creatures and like to hang out in what I have begun to call colonies. We noticed these colonies tended to gather around bigger cities. Like in my area you will find pockets around Boise, Salt Lake City, Moscow, Lewiston, Portland, Seattle and many different areas in California. Then you have large areas with smaller pockets that tend to have a very clique-minded situation due to the fact that a lot of those areas are rural and spread at least two to four hours away from those larger colony areas. Often the cost of travel and ticket or cost of entry is not worth the drive, except for the larger label bands that are mainstream and well known. So with this knowledge in our hands we decided to see what we could do to bring new bands into the area and expand out to those smaller areas. This is why we like to create a tour with a U.K. based band instead of a singular show. The bigger areas help bring in larger crowds while the smaller areas provide more intimate venues to help move the bands into the larger colonies. What we like to do is an 80% plus all merchandise to the headliner, then 20% to the area director to help cover the cost of the venue and advertising they do for the band in their area, use our local music scene to bolster the shows and help our local bands with a little for their work. We like to keep our shows all-ages, unless otherwise specified, due to content or location (such as cabaret or adult-themed or a bar of course). What we had at our disposal to start was a simple website Sammy D created. He had already done the work for our first sixteen bands, then got the tour for My Own Burial going here. He reached out to me and tour area directors, and we got things rolling during this time. Sammy D for personal reasons handed the label over to me to take the helm and finish the My Own Burial tour. This was our first run at doing this, and it seems the label has gained some traction. Now I am planning to bring more into play over the next year to continue with Sammy D's legacy and continue to build and grow. And we did this on 150 dollars to start. I am planning to have a new website built by the beginning of March that will be under the name Hypnotic Subliminal Records and Nightside Entertainment, combining the music and entertainment aspects of the label.

For what reasons do you think goths gathered in big cities as well as rural areas? Where does the attraction lie in your view?
I think goths began to gather in larger cities because that is where they were able to find their niche close to where events were going on and a higher chance of finding a group to belong with. As I said, goths are a social group that is heavily music-based, and it is also human nature to like to be close to like-minded individuals. The ones in the more rural areas, I have found, seem to be the ones that either stayed because they have a tight knit group there or because they have work or other reasons they choose to stay outside of the bigger cities but will go to larger events or concerts nearby. I think the attraction truly lies in a social and financial aspect in that situation. I have a home group here in Pocatello, Idaho, friends and other people that are out of state and some that are across the world. I am in Pocatello because of my normal job. As for refueling the Goth scene throughout the U.S., yes that does include creating new communities and helping find new venues in places like New York and New Jersey. In New York I hope to work with already established groups with in the area as it seems to have a pretty solid community same with New Jersey, Colorado and other bigger areas. What I seek to do in those areas is bring new talent and find new talent in the goth scene and give them a taste of new bands and entertainers.

When you began signing and promoting bands, how long did it take to see results for your efforts?
With the My Own Burial tour it seems that there are more asking for another tour and what other shows or events that we might provide. So now I am in the stage that I am looking for new bands, area directors and venues to add to aid in refueling the gothic scene in areas throughout the United States. What we are doing seems to be ringing in a new era to the scene and helping to bring the new and old to common ground.

Does refueling the scenes include building communities in other areas such as the Bible Belt?
New bands and entertainers so that the community doesn't stagnate and continues to draw in to keep the communities fresh and break the gatekeeping within those communities. I plan to have the bands and entertainers stop in some of the smaller areas to create a movement again in those areas. And inspire the new generation to come out and get away from everything and make new groups and colonies that will help shape the next phase of the gothic world. As for the Bible Belt, I will still build there. If I can work around the religious aspects of Pocatello and southeast Idaho then I can take on the Bible Belt. Once you can bring in something like a local band they support, then bring in one of our bands and shows, it seems next thing you know people are talking and soon enough you see a goth in a church, then the church has bats in their belfries so to speak, and we end up with the pastor at a gothic ball. It is great when I see the ignorance of both groups melt away and both aspects appreciate each other.

What is the nature of the gatekeeping you mention having seen in some areas? What steps have you usually taken to lessen it?
Pretty much others saying you’re not a real goth or being nasty bullies to baby bats that are new to the subculture. So now I will take my moment on the proverbial soap box. To all the elitists out there, time to wake up and shut up. The gothic community is like the Visigoths, they helped fall the Western Roman Empire through art and free thinking. Wait, sound familiar like us? The gothic subculture fighting Rome, our music and fashion have influenced society’s music and fashion. We even inspired the emo scene subcultures. I really don't see why in some ways we hate our own children. We inspired some their music and their fashion. Even our own styles and tastes have spread from Victorian Goth to pastel goth. So in many ways we have success in what we have sought to do. We are found in every scene, we are found even in the corporate world, and even all of us are different in one fashion or another. You will find at least Paramore or Within Temptation, and on about every girl’s playlist you will find bands such as Type O Negative or one of our bands that happened to go mainstream on playlists… oh wait Marilyn Manson there you go right there. You find our fashion on runways all over the world and movies in theatres. So honestly gate keepers shut up, sit down, realize that we have done our job and help make sure our youth are not sucked into the trash of the community that seem to like to prey on the newbies. Introduce them to the seedier side of our community as in any other community, yes we have one. Do I like that fact? No. Can I do something about it? Yes, by working with the youngers and helping them navigate the scenes safely and leave that final choice to them. Usually I use a dose of education and snark to end a gatekeeper’s tirade.

Are there sufficient goth communities in Bible Belt states to form a larger community capable of maintaining contact with those in other states?
As for the Bible Belt, there are already gothic groups and of course the Vampire community that thrive. The only problem I have really seen in that area is the fracture and lack of willingness to work together at times within those larger groups. So I figure I will work with these groups to see if I can give them something to get behind rather than fight over. I also know the political garbage that can happen in these areas. It can be a challenge to navigate but I do believe this can be done. Our scene seems to be taking what I have begun to call the reawakening with Wednesday and other gothic toned shows. We are slowly coming back from the Columbine High fiasco where our community was harshly scapegoated by the media. It will take some time to get the scene unified again. But with great shows in some of the venues and maybe some of getting together and opening a few venues of our own to propagate our subculture and create a pipeline again, I believe that unification can happen. As for examples, there are resources out there for advertising such as New Goth City website and soon the website where those people could easily put their clubs and venues and shows etc. It is just about leveraging these resources. I plan on doing so in the upcoming year.

How much did media sensationalize the Columbine High incident to the point of prejudging the goth community who had nothing to do with it? How has goth positively influenced mainstream culture?
The Columbine incident was massively sensationalized with the gothic scene in its prime. All it took was the fact that these kids listened to Marilyn Manson as did most of the teenagers back then, wore all black and wore trench coats they labeled them as goth. In doing so it caused a pandemic of judgement and prejudice of kids that followed or were a part of the goth scene to include their friends, parents and even churches to even further push these kids away. It caused law enforcement to start to profile goths and make it hard for us to gather together and hang out in larger groups, thus making it difficult for events and goth based clubs to remain open, especially in smaller rural areas. It pushed the U.K. scene further from America. Even with all of that, we were still able to influence music and fashion, now even becoming a trend. We are starting to see a gothic renaissance form, with the Munsters movie, Wednesday and other gothic icons reemerging into the spotlight. Also we see the goth influence in a lot of the newer bands in dress or in musical inspiration. So in many ways we have paved the way for so many other alternative lifestyles to form, such as emo and scene and smaller subgroups that could all fit under the goth umbrella.

Are there other goth icons who cast the lifestyle in a more favorable light, besides Christina Ricci, Ditta Von Teese, Fairuza Balk, and WWE wrestler Paige? How do you see this contributing to a better understanding of goth?
You will find Jennifer Ortega, the newest incarnation of Wednesday Addams, and of course the upcoming new Crow movie with Bill Skarsgard as Eric Draven. These with the old ones such as Elvira and so many others have been well dug up by the new baby bats and we are starting to see an uprising not only in goth but in many other scenes the goth lifestyle had spearheaded. I see these individuals bringing an understanding of goth to the younger generation, and help the other alternative groups realize where their roots come from.

Who are some of the bands you have gotten in touch with lately, who are interested in working with you and being booked for performances?
The bands I am working with for shows are My Own Burial, Trobar De Morte, The Vaticants, The Acid Bats, Hideous Monster and others I am in negotiation with. On the entertainment aspect we will be getting Dead City Side Show and others to come and help bolster events. So instead of just a concert you get a show.

What led you to the bands you’re working with, and how strongly would you recommend them to newer fans? What’s currently available on the New Goth City website.
I was brought on to the label and Sammy D had me listen to the bands. I would recommend them to those coming into or already part of the gothic subculture. New Goth City was created by William Wells to help promote and tell people where shows are in the USA. it is a promotional tool for bands and events in the USA to help get information into the hands of fans of the subculture and help inform people of the groups out there working to make our scene just as strong as it was during the 1990s.

Can you tell the readers how well known you hope the label and website you are working with will become? In the future would you like to spearhead major music festivals and national broadcasts? Would you eventually want to involve gothic metal bands in your promotions?
I hope that our label and website becomes strong enough that not only pulls the goth but also the mainstream together and becomes a place respected for its shows and events, that we are the go-to name for events in the gothic community. Not only here in America but also the funnel for the U.K. goth scene to help influence the scenes of both areas. We do plan on spearheading major festivals and we are working now on our broadcasts for the Gothic scene. We want to include all gothic entertainment and bands within our label to help promote the scene as a whole, from the post-punk roots to the evolution of our music and fashion.

For your work and involvement in goth communities, how would you most like to be recognized and remembered?
Honestly how I want to be remembered is as a forerunner to keep our beautiful lifestyle alive, and someone that helped make the scene grow, helped bring it back to the frontlines and helped bring new bands to the scene.

-Dave Wolff

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Full Length Review: Archspire "Bleed the Future" (Season Of Mist) by Dave Wolff

Band: Archspire
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Country: Canada
Genre: Technical death metal
Full length: Bleed the Future
Format: Digital, CD, vinyl, black vinyl, green marbled vinyl
Release date: October 29, 2021
What is the frequency with which the term “world's fastest band” has been used to describe a band? I’m unable to provide an answer but Archspire is one of the worthiest contenders for that title. "Bleed the Future" is sufficiently explosive to leave Cryptopsy and Cattle Decapitation at the starting line. With the release of "Scum", a band called Napalm Death revolutionized extreme music, after which an endless succession of bands continued to push things further in noticeable increments. This band has been recording professionally since 2010 and has worked overtime to push it further than any technical death metal band has up to now.
The earliest material of Archspire, while seemingly fragmented and without direction, had the potential to become the sonic juggernaut it's on their way to becoming. Accelerated beyond human expectation, the percussion was accompanied by expert classically learned scales, mellifluous bass lines, and vocals as precise as they were ferocious. When resourceful songwriting and atmospheric passages surface recurrently without overstaying their welcome, what you have is likely to be the next pinnacle in death metal's evolution.
Over the years, Archspire has continued to preserve the musical foundations they have redesigned from album to album. Enhancing speed and mathematical precision, they enhanced every other aspect of their sound. Their classical elements grew more pronounced, paying more attention to the crunch and sweep picking added to the songwriting, their atmospheric sections became more complex, and their vocals adopted a meticulous cadence with as much in common with hip hop as with technical death metal.
“Bleed the Future” continues Archspire’s momentum, maximizing its proficiency to an unsparing, nearly overwhelming level. Whether it’s too excessive rests with how much of a proponent of technical DM one is. Until now, reactions have been not exactly been polarized but clearly mixed. In spite of this, this album is much lauded as the band stuck to their guns and intensified their vision even beyond their last album“Relentless Mutation” (2017), presenting everything in a more cohesive and less fragmented manner.
A tighter interaction between the band's technical presence and classical elements results in a more nuanced recording. In fact all the characteristics they’ve honed from the beginning operate as pieces of a completed puzzle depicting colossal scenery. Without doing anything other than perfecting what has already been established, Archspire naturally gravitates toward progressive death metal and ambient death metal. By maximizing what they have at their disposal, they've been able to successfully expand their borders.
Archspire is not only growing, they are blossoming into something magnificent and terrifying all at once. I vehemently recommend checking “Bleed the Future” out at least once. –Dave Wolff

Oliver Rae Aleron: Vocals
Dean Lamb: Guitars
Tobi Morelli: Guitars
Jared Smith: Bass
Spencer Prewett: Drums

Track list:
1. Drone Corpse Aviator
2. Golden Mouth of Ruin
3. Abandon the Linear
4. Bleed the Future
5. Drain of Incarnation
6. Acrid Canon
7. Reverie on the Onyx
8. A.U.M.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Interview with Kelvin Scott Frazier by Dave Wolff

Interview with Kelvin Scott Frazier by Dave Wolff

From what I heard, you were inspired to study vampirology, vampire folklore and the Vampyre Subculture after reading “Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today” by Katherine Ramsland. You were particularly fascinated by the interviews.
At the age of ten, I read “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and read it again in 2012. I read the first three books of Anne Rice’s (RIP) “Vampire Chronicles”, “Interview With The Vampire”, “The Vampire Lestat” & “Queen of the Damned” as an adolescent along with the Novel version of “The Lost Boys” (I saw the Movie too). Most of my guilty pleasure films are about Vampires. Ironically, Rosemary Sahjaza saw my book review of “Piercing the Darkness” and decided to get me published. I am excited and nervous at the same time.
As for the Vampyre Subculture, I made some friends over the years (House Kheperu) and they gave me a home along with people in the Left Hand Path.

What kind of occult/LHP organization is House Kheperu and how deeply involved are you with them? Does this group have origins in New York, or are they more widespread?
House Kheperu is about “Finding your own truth”. I went to their seminars in the past for many years to explore who and what I am. I am NOT a member of House Kheperu. I consider myself a Ronin in the Occult Community.
I am a Solitary, Lone Wolf, independent individual who respects other people’s freedom and organizations who does my own research and reading.
House Kheperu comes from Cleveland, Ohio. I’ve NEVER been to New York, but Vampyre Subculture is Worldwide if you know where to look.

What would be the definitions of terms such as Ronin and Lone Wolf, if they can be defined?
Originally, a Ronin is a Samurai who has no master and chooses to walk alone. In the Vampyre Subculture, a Vampyre who doesn’t belong in any household, or any group in the Vampyre Community.

Can you tell me the advantages and disadvantages of being a Ronin and/or a Lone Wolf?
The advantages I have is that I have real & true friends who stand by my side. The disadvantages is that I am alone because the Left Hand Path is a lonely path. However, if you have friends & allies, you are not lonely. As a Ronin and Lone Wolf, I choose to be alone to think and work alone.

What about your review of “Piercing the Darkness” caught Rosemary Sahjaza’s attention? How long have you been corresponding with her?
Rosemary Sahjaza told me she loved my review on “Piercing the Darkness” and she wanted me to get interviewed by an Alternative Magazine and it is my very first interview. It might have been three to four days or more. I am not sure. However, she is a sweetheart and a great friend. What inspired you to read Bram Stoker's “Dracula” at such a young age? What images were evoked in your mind both times you perused it?
The images evoked in my mind as a kid were that I wanted to be Dracula in my own way because I considered him to be a Hero and Antihero to me.
It hasn’t changed much that the Vampire was an Antihero to me even though I never knew what an Antihero was. I found Dracula fascinating as an Antihero more than a Villain.

Can you describe what the term “Antihero” means to you? In your opinion, what makes Dracula an interesting antihero rather than villain?
To me, An Antihero is an individual or a character who lacks the ways of the traditional hero. The Antihero expands in all genres.
I find Dracula in some adaptations as a Byronic Hero. A Byronic Hero is mysterious, darkly inclined yet alluring, and sometimes moody.
As an antihero, he is an individual who does things the traditional hero doesn’t do, and does things on his terms, no matter how terrible the problem is.

In what ways did Anne Rice's novels speak to you, as well as to so many others, when they were first published?
Lestat is a character I can understand because of his rebellious nature, and more. Also, I read “Morbius the Living Vampire” (Spider-Man), a Pseudo Vampire created by Science. It has been years since they were published, but I was an adolescent in the 1980s (I was born in 1972). I saw ”The Lost Boys” (1987) and read the novel version during that time. I was a huge fan because of the Punk style Vampires and the Soundtrack too. “Vamp” (Grace Jones) was hilarious.

What interviews in “Piercing the Darkness” particularly inspired you to research vampires and Vampyre Subculture in greater detail?
I don’t remember too much about the interviews, but the chapter “The Tao of the Vampire” spoke to me because I wanted to learn the ways of the Living Vampyre. From the TOV (Temple of the Vampire) and more. I desire to learn about the Living Vampyre from a Left Hand Path perspective.

Did you hear of Temple of the Vampire as a result of reading “The Tao of the Vampire”? In your opinion, what’s the most interesting thing about this group?
I read about Temple of the Vampire in a book called “The Vampire Book” by J. Gordon Melton when I was researching Vampyre Occult Movements. “The Tao of the Vampire” was the best thing that ever happened to me. The most interesting thing of this concept, some people can be Vampyres if they know to control their natures and their hunger. The ones who found themselves are the most beautiful and powerful individuals in their own right. Their knowledge and philosophies have made them more valuable on their own terms.

Do you know if "The Vampire Book" is still available? When it comes to the history of Vampyre Occult Movements, how knowledgeable would you consider J. Gordon Melton?
I do have a copy of the third edition of the “Vampire Book” and it might be on He has done a lot of research to this book. I read a few articles in the encyclopedia that intrigues me and it is fascinating. I remember him on the documentary “Vampires: Thirst for the Truth (1996).” I might read it again and do a review on this book in the future.

When it comes to covering vampire culture and lifestyle without stereotyping or distortion, how thorough is “Vampires: Thirst for the Truth (1996)”?
It was spectacular and specific even though it was 1996. I enjoyed the documentary then and I enjoy it in the present.

Did you discover the Left Hand Path around the same time as vampire lore and cinema? Where are the obvious connections?
I discovered Vampire Folklore & Cinema at the age of ten, yet I discovered Satanism in 1987-1988 when Geraldo Rivera (I loathe him) made a mock documentary called “Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground.” This made me explore the Left Hand Path much more. I got on the Left Hand Path in 1995 since I read Anton Szandor LaVey’s “The Satanic Bible”. I adopted other Philosophies to understand myself more (Satanism, Luciferianism & Sinisterism).
From my perspective, The Left Hand Path and Vampyre Subculture have some similarities, it depends on the individual. In my experience, I find Vampyrism and Left Hand Path are Dark Philosophies to a certain degree, yet Darkness DOES NOT EQUATE EVIL. In other words, it is up the individual’s ambitions if they want to combine Both philosophies.

If darkness is not equate evil, what is darkness to you as opposed to mainstream perceptions?
Darkness is a part of us, no matter anybody says because some people choose to deny it.
From my perspective, Darkness is the other half of the balance factor (Yin/Yang). Darkness can’t exist without the Light, they are opposites to each other. Basically, Embracing the Darkness will help the individual find the beauty in the Night and much more.
The Mainstream rejects Darkness because of Society’s obsession to the Light. Monotheism had a strong hand to People from keeping them away from the Darkness mostly through fear, shame & guilt. Using the concept of Good vs. Evil, needing a Savior to keep Individuals away from the Darkness, which is Wrong on so many levels. I believe in “to each their own” and individuals have a right to know who & what they are as a human being or more. Denying the Darkness will not make the individual whole, but Embracing the Darkness will make you whole.

I recall Geraldo Rivera’s documentary about so-called devil worshiping cults. It was an obvious attempt to increase ratings. Can you recall other details about the “satanic panic” generated by this show and others at the time?
Rivera and many others stereotyped Satanism based on what’s happening in the media, which are complete nonsense. They accuse us of Devil Worship, and other stuff I won’t repeat because it disgusts me. We don’t recruit others. This quote says it all:
“Satanists are born, not made.” ~Anton Szandor LaVey
It has been years since I watched this special and I respect the Left Hand Path philosophers rather than the so called experts because the “Experts” lie through their teeth to discredit Satanism, but Satanism is NOT going away. NEVER.

Furthermore, the media sensationalized murderers like Richard Ramirez and Ricky Kasso, who were painted as "typical Satanists". Is this another method of discrediting Satanism?
They are NOT Satanists because Ramirez, Kasso and many others like them are Criminals. They are a disgrace to Satanism.

How would you explain the differences between Satanism, Luciferianism and Sinisterism?
Satanism is a religion and philosophy founded by Anton Szandor LaVey (1930-1997) that is based on the teachings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand etc., with the use of Satan as an Archetype for the individual to express proudly from an Atheistic perspective. There is NO God, No Devil, etc., and Satanists are their own Gods.
Luciferianism is a religion that venerates Lucifer, but not in a Judeo-Christian sense because Lucifer is NOT the Devil. Lucifer is the Light Bringer that brings knowledge and true freedom to those who wanted it.
Some people think that Satan and Lucifer are the same being, but it is not. Mostly, through the propaganda of Monotheism, it has been going on for thousands of years. In Luciferianism, Some are atheists because of the Archetype aspect and some are theists because some believe is a real anthropological being or a God.
Sinisterism is a concept created by Thomas LeRoy of The Sect of the Horned God. Sinisterism is an Individual who walks the Left Hand Path on their own terms.

Can you provide additional information about Thomas LeRoy and The Sect of the Horned God; how long they’ve existed and their contributions to the occult world?
The Sect of the Horned God stared on November 1, 2011 as a Left Hand Path school of thought and knowledge. It is an educational system for the Left Hand Path that uses philosophy, mythology, psychology and occult research to teach and reach the goal of Self-Deification (Becoming our own God, Goddess, etc).

What was it about “The Satanic Bible” that appealed to you personally?
Anton Szandor LaVey’s “The Satanic Bible” was the most influential book and helped me to understand Satanism and the basics of the Left Hand Path. I read it in 1995, and embraced the philosophy along with other Left Hand Path philosophies. It has been 29 years since I’ve been on the Left Hand Path and I am proud of it.

What writings by Anton LaVey have you read altogether?
“The Satanic Bible” (1969), “The Satanic Witch” (1971), “The Satanic Rituals” (1972), “The Devil’s Notebook” (1992), “Satan Speaks” (1998).
I love the books by Anton Szandor LaVey because it is self-help for Satanists and people starting out of the Left Hand Path.

Since you’ve read all of Anton LaVey’s writings, aside from “The Satanic Bible”, which one did you find to be the most informative and why?
“The Devil’s Notebook”. The Reason why is that I enjoyed him telling his own truth in his own way. The topics range from Satanism and other subjects and doesn’t hold back.

My memory recalls that “The Devil's Notebook” covers a wide range of topics. Which of them struck you as the most personally relatable to you as a reader of left-hand path literature?
The Chapters in “The Devil’s Notebook called “By Any Other Name”; p. 33-34 “Nonconformity: Satanism’s Greatest Weapon”; p. 63-65. “How To Be God (Or The Devil)”; p. 66-67.

Certain genres have been targeted as being responsible for the negativity in the world. Do you think people who single them out are misinformed or intentionally spreading false information?
Most of the Great Works of Music has been accused of being the works of the Devil because of the jealousy of Mainstream Religions and So-Called Authoritarian Figures. The Tritone is considered the Devil’s Chord, which is used by many Classical Artists to Modern Rock and Metal Musicians. The atmosphere of the music is seductive and scary, depending on the individual. In other words, The Devil makes the best music.
The misinformed and the ignorant love to control the masses, but the individual finds their own way and judges for themselves.

Do you have any favorite bands you've been listening to a lot lately? How do they relate to you?
K.I.S.S., Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, Coven, Queen, Vixen, Winger, Evanescence, Cradle of Filth, Fastway (“Trick or Treat” Soundtrack 1986), Billy Idol, Lita Ford, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Warlock (Doro Pesch), INXS, Bauhaus, Bon Jovi, The Runaways, Fields of the Nephilim, Dark Funeral, Infected Rain, Within Temptation, Inkkubus Sukkubus, The Go-Gos, Faun, Butcher Babies, Gorgoroth, Celtic Frost, Tiamat, Nox Arcana, Anton Szandor LaVey, etc.
My list is extensive and most of my choices are Darkly Inclined, Gothic with Some Dark Classical. I do relate to them because I saw them within me when I Embraced the Darkness since I was nine and I did not realize it. I see myself in the music mostly understanding what the artist went through to a certain degree. In other words, my path was growing since this music came into my life and I never looked back.

There was a recent episode of “satanic panic” in Jackson, Tennessee when locals attempted to prevent a local metal festival from taking place (Tennessee Metal Devastation Music Fest 2023). Nevertheless, the organizers of the festival fought back and prevailed. They spread the word on social media and appeared on television, and the festival went ahead as planned. Why do you think some people are still afraid of metal and other genres of music today?
People are afraid of the unknown and the Devil makes the greatest music. They still accuse Metal and other music genres to be the work of the Devil. The Tritone or the Devil’s Note has been used for centuries since Classical music, Blues, Rock and Roll to Metal. Besides, the Devil will have his Due.

Give examples of songs of any genre that best utilized the Tritone, along with a brief description of the impact they had on you when you first heard them.
Primus’ “South Park” theme: I heard this theme so many times, but I never the tritone was in it until now. Great Theme.
“The Simpsons”: I watched the Simpsons until I stopped watching Television for over ten years in 2011. Very catchy.
“The Munsters”: I find the soundtrack great, but Season 2 was better.
“The Twilight Zone”: The theme was sublime to me over the years, but it was eerie as well. I enjoyed it.
Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People”: The Music was great and in your face.
The “Pink Panther” theme: Classical theme since my childhood throughout the years.
Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”: The music was everything, and it was a rocking masterpiece.
Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”: His Mastery on the Guitar is legendary and powerful when he used the tritone in his music.

Did you decide to become a vampire at a particular point, or does your research continue?
I never knew about the Vampyre Subculture until the early 1990s when “Vampire: The Masquerade” came out. However, I was fascinated with the terminology “Living Vampyre” when I was reading the Marvel Comic Series “Morbius: The Living Vampire” that was featured in Spider-Man in 1971. As an adolescent, I looked up the organization “Temple of the Vampire” but I never joined them; however, I kept researching Folkloric Vampires and the Vampire Subculture throughout the years. I read Michelle Belanger’s “The Psychic Vampire Codex” in the early 2000s, and I enjoyed it.
As a Vampyre, I prefer the terminology Living Vampyre because my studies are into the Left Hand Path philosophy and Sorcery. My research in the Vampire was since the age of nine, my Left Hand Path philosophies started in 1995, and it continues to the present into the future.

How helpful was “The Psychic Vampire Codex” to your studies?
It taught me about ethics, embracing who and what you are as a Vampyre, and honor yourself when it comes to your individual nature.

Are you familiar with The Satanic Temple or the documentary released in 2019 about them, “Hail Satan”? What do you think that they’re taking on fundamentalist Christian groups and the United States government?
I NEVER saw the documentary personally. The Satanic Temple is a different story all together. I am NOT a part of that group because my philosophy comes from Anton Szandor LaVey ( and it has been here longer than TST. If they wish to shake up the Religious Right, I don’t care. However, I wish they would do it differently.

Did “The Book of Secrets” by Temple House Sahjaza contribute to your understanding of vampire and Vampyre culture?
“The Book of Secrets” is a book I don’t have a copy of. However, House Sahjaza is unique in their own way, and their contributions are marvelous to describe. Vampire Folklore & Vampyre Subculture hold their own definitions and descriptions on what the Vampyre expresses about themselves and more.

With your years of study of Vampyres and the Left Hand Path, do you believe you’ve gained enough knowledge to write your own book or series of books? Would you be interested in writing about vampire lore or vampire cinema?
I wish. However, I still have a lot to learn before I write a book about my experiences. It is a maybe. The other topic is a maybe. The reason that everything I wanted to write has been done, and I want to be original with my writings.

Would you like to contribute in any other ways to occult communities locally, nationally and internationally?
I am not sure where to begin. I write book reviews on my Facebook page. I read, study, research and apply everything I learned to see what I can do.

-Dave Wolff

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Full Length Review: Die Entweihung "Hypnotic Dreams (Remastered Reissue 2023)" (Inverted Chalice Productions, Bál Records) by Dave Wolff

Project: Die Entweihung
Location: Haifa
Country: Israel
Genre: Blackened heavy metal
Format: Digital album, CD, cassette
Label: Inverted Chalice Productions (USA) (CD release, limited to 300 copies), Bál Records (Hungary) (cassette release, limited to 100 copies)
Release date: November 18, 2022
I noted in my review of "Strict Regime Country" last July that Denis Tereshenko has always composed music for Die Entweihung eclectically. From raw black metal with horror soundtrack overtones to experimental black/doom metal with elements of classic metal and progressive rock, Denis Tereshenko made slow but noticeable efforts to redefine his project and add more eccentricity to each of his recordings, resulting in a balance between accessibility and peculiarity.
Moving from raw to prog to crossing over several genres with an anarcho punk attitude on "Strict Regime Country", he follows up by revisiting the meticulous process by which he grew as a musician and songwriter. By adding glossiness to its coarse musicianship, the remastering of "Hypnotic Dreams" refines the original’s obscene crass quality. It may have appeared that the variations in temperament and atmosphere were disjointed, but with this version it becomes more apparent that the variations were intentionally disjointed in order to convey the state of mind Tereshenko intended to impart.
The remastered "Hypnotic Dreams" maintains that balance between accessibility and peculiarity. Refined professionalism combined with an uncultivated, primitive sound reminiscent of early 90s black metal. The orchestration and arrangement of the different parts, as well as the rawness and atmosphere counterpointing each other, give the latter influence new perspectives without rehashing them or making them sound stale. In some ways, it’s similar to albums recorded by Abruptum in the 1990s; hour-long ambient compositions with inconstant vibrations and violent overtones conveying unpredictability.
For one example, the electronic ambient sounds of "Hypnotic Dream", set the mood for Tereshenko's depiction of a search through the labyrinth of his soul. For something lost or yet to be discovered? While the answer is uncertain, the search grows colder and darker as the vocals hint the speaker's soul is already dead. The song transitions from raw and unforgiving to cold and atmospheric to raw and hypnotically repetitive while the ending suggests he is actually inside another's perception of his soul.
The song "Closer To..." and the instrumental "...The Madness" may portray pessimistic disillusionment, while "In Astral Sleep" might give the impression that the album depicts an unhopeful journey toward the only reward left for someone who lived a bleak, fatalistic life (death). By outward appearances, this would appear true. Under the surface, however, it can be viewed as an aphotic journey of self-discovery to confront negative conditions like self-delusion, mistakes, regrets, and uncertainty about one's own identity. This can be considered a darker interpretation of Trent Reznor's work for Nine Inch Nails.
Perhaps it is because of this that the polished bite, constant mood changes, and underlying flares of life are so poignant here. It's said that if you don't acknowledge something negative, you can’t resolve it. A key album in this project’s evolution, it is one of the first that presents the songs as a narrative, where the arrangements are equally important to the lyrics. Again, I’d recommend listening to as much of this project's entire discography as possible in order to understand the entire picture. –Dave Wolff

Denis Tereschenko: Vocals, all instruments

Track list:
1. Hypnotic Dream
2. Closer To...
3. ...The Madness
4. In Astral Sleep

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Interview with Chuck W. Chapman by Dave Wolff

Interview with Chuck W. Chapman by Dave Wolff

What are the members of your band, how long have you been working together, and what aspects of heavy rock do you draw from on stage and in your recordings?
Chuck W. Chapman: Lead vocals and guitar, Clark Bender: lead guitar and background vocals, Todd Duncan: bass guitar and background vocals, Joseph Tanay: drums.
This project was started in 2020. Joe and I had played in a couple of different bands together from 2005-2014 or so and Todd and I had been trying to start something before the pandemic shut the world down. I released a “solo” EP during 2020 and it picked up some traction, so decided to put a real band together. Clark joined us mid 2023.
We are all big Kiss fans and grew up in the 80’s, so the big rock shows of the 70s-80s really influenced us. I believe live music should be visual as well as audial. As far as recording, I like big and full sounding. That’s the hardest thing really, is to duplicate that live feel and energy on the recordings.

When you first took up the guitar as an instrument, which guitarists influenced you the most? Did you study with professional musicians or instructors or are you completely self-taught?
I’m completely self-taught. I locked myself in my room for a couple of weeks with The Ramones “Subterranean Jungle” and Twisted Sister’s “Stay Hungry” albums and didn’t come out until I could play every song on both records. Pretty much everything I’ve done since then is a variation of those two records, lol. My favorite guitarists are Ace Frehley, Gary Moore and maybe CC Deville. Since I’m primarily a singer and just a rhythm guitarist, I’m a big fan of Paul Stanley and Robin Zander’s guitar work as well.

Other than heavy rock music, are there other genres that inspire you when composing?
I’ll always have that punk influence as the first songs I learned to play were that genre. I also like the rawness, attitude, and the no frills style of punk music. My father was a big country music fan, so that was always in my house growing up. It probably had more effect on me than I realized or would like it to admit

How much do your punk and country influences reveal themselves when you compose songs?
It varies song to song. The punk influence I think shows a lot more often. I primarily play power chords because I not only learned that way, but I like the heaviness and the energy that comes from them. It also allows me to be more energetic onstage. Live is where the punk influence really shows. The country comes across more in my slow ballads, although I’d say they’re more southern rock than country.

When you started out, how long did it take you to find a full band, and what was your criteria for selecting musicians? Who were the musicians who influenced the other members of the band?
Originally, way back. I was just a singer. I picked up the guitar when I started writing songs because it was difficult to get my ideas across, so I learned to play myself primarily as a writing tool. Now, it’s become an extension of me and I feel awkward on stage without a guitar. Todd, like me, is a big Kiss, Ramones, Cheap Trick and Hanoi Rocks fan. When we met, it was like we had the exact same CD Collection. He’s a big fan of Pete Way and Bob Daisley. Joe lists The Beatles (who I also love), Eagles, ELO, and Styx among his favorite artists and influences, particularly Ringo Starr and Phil Ehart. Clark is a big Kiss and Ace fan as well.

Kiss was initially an underground band that achieved success on its own terms. Is that attitude still evident in heavy rock today?
I think it is, it’s just way harder to make it happen today. People don’t go out and support live music like they used to. People tend to find new music online instead of looking for it in a record store or a live venue. Half the time, people will add a song they like to their playlist and have no idea who the artist even is. It’s very hard to build a following that way. It’s also very impersonal. There’s lots of great things about the online availability of music, but there’s just as many bad things about it that hurt an artist as much as it helps them. We’re all tiny fish in a huge pond. Really hard to find new listeners and to stand out in the crowd.

As a result of social media and streaming sites, bands can increase their audience from country to country. However, in many cases, going to a show is more helpful to a band. What are some ways streaming negatively impacts local scenes? Would you be able to say the same for the scene you’re a part of?
I think the biggest thing is the anonymity of it. People hear songs they like and the download or add them to their playlist but they don't even know who the artist is. There's no real connection there. We've had great success being heard all over the world but no one really knows who we are or are invested in the band.
Would you be able to say the same for the scene you’re a part of? 100%. It's hard to get people out when they don't know who you are. Back when radio actually played new music and regional artists, they would promote who the artist was when they played a song and you'd develop a following thru that radio and sometimes TV connection. It's just not there anymore for independent artists.

I was wondering what your thoughts are on Kiss marketing avatar versions of themselves now that their "farewell tour" has ended. Many people think this shouldn't replace the live experience. How do you personally feel about this issue?
I’m a huge fan. I was in New York for the final shows. This is the connection that I was talking about that seems so hard for artists to have today. The feeling of being a fan of a band making you a part of something bigger than yourself and being a part of a tribe. That's what the Kiss Army is and what people who aren't part of that can't understand. I feel technology is making us lose that connection. I'm not sure how I feel about the avatars. Obviously, I want Kiss to continue in some form and their legacy will never die, but I'm not feeling the avatars right now. I'm trying to have an open mind and take a wait and see approach. I guess I need to see what the plans are for them. There's no way they could ever replace the live concert experience. Rock n roll is about that human element and those raw emotions we all feel. If technology replaces that, it'll never be the same. I hope we never lose the true power of rock n roll and live humans playing music on real instruments expressing real emotions.

At a time when artificial intelligence is at an all-time high, are human elements still a part of the band's music and lyrics? What are some of the feelings you convey through your music?
Without raw emotion and human feelings, music is pointless. Music, like all art, should touch you and make you feel something. I can't connect with a loop running over and over. To me, that takes the creative energy and element away and makes it a cold, soulless thing. I write real situations that I've been in or someone close to me has experienced. That human element of expressing the emotions that everyone feels brings the true connection of why you have "your song." That song speaks to you.

I once watched a video claiming most of the songs recorded by pop icons were written by the same producer. That video and another one I watched discussed how these songs sound very similar if not the same. In order to maintain originality and creativity, what can struggling artists and bands do?
I think you just have to be true to yourself. You don't do this to make money. That's a nice reward if you can make it happen, but art should feed the soul. If it can feed your stomach as well, that's a bonus.

As far as supporting live music in local scenes and at major rock and metal festivals, what can be done to improve the situation? Especially with outrageously high ticket prices for national and international acts. Would most people prefer to pay for a local band than pay three to five figures for a major concert?
I don't know. That's the dilemma. Nobody wants to let or help a band develop anymore. It's a catch 22. If you can't bring people, you can't get gigs but how will you ever be able to bring people if they never get to hear and see you? I would hope that promoters will realize at some point that they need to be including some new, unknown bands in these events to help build more audience for them.
I think that's the big ticket prices actually hurt smaller bands and hold us back from being able to advance up that ladder. People would rather pay $300 to be in the rafters to see the Eagles than pay $5 or $10 to see a great indie band from the front row. I remember searching out new music, whether it be going to clubs or sifting thru the record stores. That seems to be a lost passion. It's very frustrating. I know there is a lot of great indie music out here but very few people ever hear it. I always hear people saying there's no good new music but there is. You just have to look for it.

In every country there are fan run metal festivals as well as larger festivals like Wacken, Hellfest, Milwaukee Metal Fest and Decibel Metal & Beer Fest that give underground and unsigned bands a chance to be heard. How important do you feel these festivals are today? Has your band gotten a chance to play at one of these?
We haven’t gotten to play any of the big ones but are definitely up for it. I think these are really important as it’s one of the few ways for an original independent artist to reach large numbers of indie rock fans. Hopefully we’ll be doing a bunch of these soon.

Do you know of any festivals taking place locally or nationally where you might want to perform next year? How would appearing there be an improvement for the band after your local shows?
We’ve submitted for several, hopefully some of them will come thru. I want to put our music in front of as many people as possible. We've charted in the UK. That's one of the positive things the internet brings. It allows people that you may never get to play live for, the ability to hear and connect with your music. Nothing beats a live show experience, however. I hope that the live concert experience never goes away. I am concerned that it might. Hard to get younger fans out to see new original music. Festivals help do that.

Besides the factors we discussed, what are some other reasons you are concerned about the fading of the live experience?
It’s still the easiest way to connect with fans. People who only watch shows online or on YouTube or whatever just don't get the full experience. I still go to shows as often as I can. Again, just the real connection between the artist and the fan can only be found live. It's real easy to disconnect if everything is just virtual. Same reason I still prefer physical media. I've downloaded a few albums and I haven't noticed idea where they are. I can pull a CD or vinyl off the shelf any time and have more of a connection than pressing a button on a mouse.

I personally think there are far too many festivals of various sizes, with much more affordable tickets for the live experience to be replaced. It is also helping that social media and streaming sites show these festivals. Is your band streaming live shows on YouTube and other platforms?
I've streamed a few solo acoustic shows. I hope to do some full band shows this coming year.

As a result of playing out, how much new music have you discovered up until now? Any of it you deem worth mentioning here?
There are so many talented bands playing the underground club circuit. It’s a shame people don’t get out more and look for new music because there’s a ton of it out here.
We’ve become good friends with a band called Trailer Park Orchestra from Greensboro. We’ve played a lot of shows with them. Great band and cool guys. We opened a show for the Soap Girls, Pretty Ladies and an absolute trip to hang out with. Really too many to mention. Most of the bands are very cool. We’re all trying to accomplish the same things and most understand that.

In what venues has the band been performing lately? What has been the general response of fans who wish to hear live music?
Your normal bar and nightclub scene mostly. So far, we've hit South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. There are plans to add a few more states this year. The response has been phenomenal. We've made new fans everywhere we've been.

Where did you perform at the solo acoustic shows you are streaming? Would these be acoustic versions of your band's songs or songs you composed for playing on your own?
Just from my rehearsal room on Facebook Live and Youtube Live. There are acoustic versions of band songs, some of my older material and some of my favorite covers.

With regard to your available material, has the band built a loyal fanbase and an equally strong reputation by releasing and distributing your work independently?
We have people that buy everything we release. Music, merch, my books, you name it. Getting large numbers out to live shows is more challenging. People don't seem to go out as much as they used to. We have people that are at every show in their area, so it's building. Our streaming numbers have been really strong, so the music is getting heard. The first EP sold several hundred physical copies and been streamed 50,000 times or so. The last LP is already over half a million, so it's getting out there.

So the internet and social media are helping the band establish a name for themselves? Considering this, how important is it to you to still release your material in physical form?
Just the real connection. I can't sign a download, haha. The internet gets stuff out there, but too many times, people will download a song and not even bother to look who the artist is. You get lots of streams and downloads that way, but not as many fans. I like reading the liner notes, looking at the artwork, the music becomes a real, solid, tangible thing, not just something that exists in the nothingness of cyberspace.

What is the total amount of material that the band has released to date? If it all has been released on all formats, which format has received the biggest response?
This band has released a four song EP, “Girls and Cars and Things That Matter”, and a ten song LP, “Burn It Down”. The EP was on CD and digital and the LP was on vinyl, CD, and digital. Obviously the streaming numbers have been the largest cause that's the most readily available format, but the CDs have done really well at shows and the vinyl has done ok too. Vinyl is still kind of a niche thing but cool to have.

Where was recording, mixing and mastering done for the EP and full length done? Do you prefer working with professionals or is the band professional mixers and masterers in their own right?
The EP was actually recorded as demos about twelve years ago. During Covid, I came across the files and just tweaked a little in GarageBand and put it out there. It came out amazingly well, all things considered. “Burn It Down” was recorded at Studio 101 I. SC and then mixed in California by John Webster of Red Ryder, then mastered by Mike Schau, former guitarist for Thor. I was hooked up with John and Mike by my co-producer, and also Thor guitarist, Kevin Stuart Swain. Kevin is a great friend and has done so much to help me in my music career, I can’t think him enough.
I like to write and perform. I leave the mixing and mastering to the pros. Those guys are another level.

Among the songs on your EP and full-length, which best represents the band's evolution as musicians? When you perform live, which of them are most well received by your listeners?
I don’t know about evolution, but a few that I’m really proud of are “Everybody’s Broken” and “Fighting for My Life” from the “Girls and Cars” EP and “After The Fall”, “Words Get In The Way” and “We Got Mona Lisa” from “Burn It Down”. I think all those show my maturation as a songwriter, especially lyrically. I couldn’t have written any of those when o first started writing. When you perform live, which of them are most well received by your listeners? All those are live staples. “Fighting, Words”, “Everybody’s Broken”, and “Mona Lisa” all seem to strike chords with people.

In addition to the emotions you convey, do your lyrics reflect your experience as a band and your experience with the music industry that we’ve discussed?
I generally try to stick to human elements that most everyone can relate to and understand. The music, and entertainment industry in general, are their own beasts that people that haven’t been inside those bellies, really can’t understand. I do have a few references on the forthcoming record, but they’re not the main thrust of the song.

Regarding artwork, does the band design their own cover art or does it hire artists to do so? Who designed the artwork for both of your releases? In general, are you satisfied with the results?
I did the “Girls and Cars” cover. I used another artist’s photo and then modified it to work for the album. The second one, I did a really rough sketch and then had my friend, Patrick Rasmussen, who is a professional artist, do a painting of my concept. The third one, at this point I have designed and done the artwork but am still deciding if I will use my art or have someone like Patrick do their interpretation of it.
I’m very happy with both, I am never truly happy with anything creative I do, but I’ve learned to draw a line at picking stuff apart too much. As a whole, I’m pleased. Patrick’s work is amazing and if there’s anything that I’m unhappy with, it would definitely be in my communication, not in his rendering.

In 2024, do you plan to expand on the fan base you gained by singing with an independent label to further distribute your releases? Are there any other plans you have for this coming year?
This will be our first release with Self Made Records, so we’re really stoked about the potential for a wider audience. We hit four states last tour and we’re looking to at least double that this time.
We plan to play out as much as possible. Expand the brand and our fan base. I love playing new places and meeting new music lovers. I also have a short story being included in an anthology from my publisher, Black Bedsheet Books, and also should have a new book out by year’s end. I like staying busy.

-Dave Wolff