Wednesday, February 18, 2015


ANTICHRIST MAGAZINE #13 (2013) English, 52 pages, A4 format, professionally printed, color cover, b/w pages plus Double CD Compilation.
Aleksandr Maksymov, P.O. Box 203, 91001 Luhansk, UKRAINE
This was once a photocopied/xerox zine and now they went more of a pro-printed as a magazine. This was a major change for them and its good to see them progress into something bigger. I haven't seen an issue running around since issue #7, which was an important issue because they started to write more in English. They layout is extremely neat and some contents are written in English. From my understanding it also came with a compilation but the copy I borrowed from my friend it was missing. The interviews were good. In this issue they interviewed: Blasphemy, Necros Christos, Nuclear, Cobra, Furze, Vomitor, Witching Hour, Unholyath, Funeral Winds, Repuked, Speedwolf and several others. A good length of reviews. -Lady Kat Chaos

Zine review: COMPENDIVM MALEFICARVM issue #9

COMPENDIVM MALEFICARVM 'ZINE #9 A4 format, photocopied, 60 B/W pages
Compendivm Maleficarvm fanzine # 9 (Bolivia) is an interesting fanzine that adds artwork from mystical ancient times and graphic revisions and flyers that added a nice touch of blasphemy. They cover a lot of bands bringing out their hidden talents through their interviews and reviews. Although, this fanzine is not written in English so it makes it harder to give a better review but the interviews looked thought-out and a good length of questions. Some interviews they have included: Lelahell (Algeria), Jahiliyyah (Bangladesh), Cruor (Brazil), Terra Caput Mundi (USA), Khristenn Corpse (Venezuela), Conrad (Barbados), unburied (Costa Rica), Mephisto Europe (Sweden), Asura (Italy), Prayer of the Dying (Malta), and Obscure Infinity (Germany). They review tapes, CD's, vinyl, and fanzines. Its complemented with many hours they've spent putting this printed fanzine together and it shows. -Lady Kat Chaos

Zine review: METAL HORDE Issue #15

METAL HORDE Issue #15: August 2014
Issue #15 is one of three editions of Metal Horde I received from editor/publisher Nuno Olivera via zine trade (with issue #14 and a special issue covering a recent metalfest. This “underground fanzine for metal maniacs” as stated on the cover is fully supportive of printed fanzines, encouraging people to buy zines in the editorial. Said editorial thanks the bands that sent them material to review for this issue besides demonstrating enthusiasm for supporting extreme metal from Sacred Steel to Obituary. The layout is strongly reminiscent of zines published in the late 80s, and the zine generally has the air of a staff that were fans of underground metal ever since that time. All the sections here are neatly organized, the interviews lengthy and detailed, the zine, album, demo, performance and movie reviews all concise and to the point. Besides Sacred Steel and Obituary you’ll find interviews with Aggressive Mutilator, Blackfinger, Enchantya, Sardonic Witchery, Speedtrap, Domains, Witches Brew, Terra Caput Mundi, Head: Stoned and Gang. Just a couple live reviews (Barroselas Metal Fest and Extreme Metal Attack) are run but they present an impression of having been there from a fan’s point of view. The film reviews seem to be of movies that were randomly chosen to watch and appealed to the writers. I would recommend this to anyone who likes reading articles that are both casual and informative. -Dave Wolff

Zine review: REBORN FROM ASHES Issue #8

Still more killer artwork adorns the front cover and inside of this zine, designed by editor and publisher Tony Juarez (yet another interviewee in Autoeroticasphyxium) with Adam Franke and Mark Riddick. In his editorial Juarez explains that he intended to take a break from publishing Reborn, but reconsidered and decided to publish another issue in 2014 besides a special issue dedicated to extreme metal from Mexico (to be released in 2015). It would be somewhat similar to the book Swedish Death Metal, only in fanzine form. This issue’s interviews are with Into Darkness from Italy, Rude from the States and R’Lyeh from Mexico. Plus a lengthy section of zine and CD reviews. Only three interviews are included in this issue but they are informative and cover much ground for the bands and have a feel of conversations taking place with each band member. The printing places more emphasis on the featured artwork and there is an advertisement added for Riddick and Riddickart. I personally look forward to the release of the special issue spotlighting Mexican metal and anticipate which bands will be reviewed and interviewed for that issue. -Dave Wolff


I received a copy of this zine from Roy who was publishing Trendcrusher zine when I first contacted him about a decade ago. We were out of touch for years but I found it refreshing that he is still involved in supporting bands after all this time. Like Trendcrusher, Underworld is based in the Philippines and a valid source of information when it comes to the deepest recesses of the underground of extreme metal. The editing could admittedly be a bit tighter, but the print quality is decent and introductory blurbs of varying length are included at the start of each interview. Issue five’s featured bands are Usul, Fester, Blastperversion, Morgengrau, Severance, Hate Beyond, Incapacitate, Mongrels Cross, Disfugurement, Nervecell, Hod and Warzy. Included with this issue is a CD compilation to provide a greater musical sense of the bands listed above. Including a compilation always helps you to understand where bands are coming from in their interviews. Some personal favorites are Fester’s “I’ll Hunt You Down,” Hod’s “Ritual Of Vengeance” and Hate Beyond’s “Assassin” though the entire CD is pure uncompromising underground madness and all the songs will shred you if you dare load this CD into your stereo. I’m hoping Roy continues supporting the underground for long to come. -Dave Wolff

Sunday, February 15, 2015

CD review: ZAUM Oracles by Reggae

I Hate Records
It was a pleasure to receive this one in the mail. I have to admit I was a little worried the band might be a “Nile” clone (I guess Nile have cornered the market on Egyptian mythology and anything with that imagery makes me immediately think this) but they are probably the polar opposite. Again this release brings to mind the early doom efforts of PENTAGRAM and ST. VITUS, but with a more arcane feel (hence the Egyptian theme I guess).
Musically and visually the two piece band, consisting of Kyle (vocals, bass, sitar and synths) and Christoper (drums) seem to fit in with a Middle Eastern theme running through the music and their cover imagery, it sits alongside with I Hate Records labelmates Burning Shadows, great analogue sounding production clear separation of the instruments and some very heavy but still quite groovy riffs… Some nice fuzz on the guitars and some genuinely great riffage. I’m not sure if the vocals are a bit out of key at times but they fit the music in the same way that Quorthon’s vocals fitted the music in Hammerheart era Bathory, where it left you with the feeling something’s not quite right in a few bits, but the general awesome-ness of the music makes up for this. The songs have a very coherent feel in much the same way as the Viking era of Bathory.
Overall an enjoyable listen and I for one, look forward to what these guys put out in the future! -Reggae

Thursday, February 12, 2015

CD review: WORSELDER MMXIV by Frank Garcia

Worselder is a five piece metal band from Pamiers, France. members are Vocals- Guillaume "Glen", Guitars- Yoric & James (Heckle & Jeckle of Metal), Bass, Backing vocals- Yannick, Drums- Mitch. Genre is described as a brutal mix of traditional Metal meets 90’s Hardcore type sounds-meets a Stoner in Thrash alley.
This is their self released EP MMXIV. It became available via their Bandcamp site on September 25 2014. Very good production quality. Punchy upfront drum sound, crunchy mid distortion guitar tones and solid bass tones. Vocals have a great range and are easy to understand, it was not difficult for me to comprehend all lyrics being expressed. One of the bands that come to my mind as i listen is early Flotsam and Jetsam No Place for Disgrace album. The first song The Sickening has a good build up with a memorable guitar riff leading the listener in. Not complex, just a good jam that anyone can easily get into. A solid blend of guitar harmonies in the middle with catchy solos. Home of The Grave, nice title and mesmerizing intro. One of the things that I enjoyed the most on this song were the intense bass lines, since the guitar riffing stayed on higher notes it was interesting to hear the how the bass lines build a solid rhythm to keep the songs intensity throughout from beginning to the end. The Haven is the last song, a good mix of groove metal and high singing. I can easily envision a good audience pumping their fist in the air to this track. Good verses and catchy chorus. Overall, a solid EP that can easily catch the ears of a vast group of people from old to young metalheads. The songs have a lot to offer from groove to heavy and catchy solos. I recommend it for fans of 80s to 90s metal bands but also transcending into some more modern metal riffing. Be sure to also check out their previous release "Where We Come From" from 2010 which is also available on their Bandcamp site for free. -Frank Garcia

CD review: WITCHTRAP Dark Millennium by Reggae

Dark Millennium
Hells Headbangers
Witchtrap is a South American band hailing from Columbia. I must confess to not having heard of the band before, but apparently they’ve just gone twenty years strong in the underground Colombian scene. By their own admission they never reached dizzying heights but just kept on playing thrash metal for no other reason than that’s what they wanted to do. This is not a standard album but just a collection of songs to celebrate their longevity. The guys are obviously true to the cause. This is straight down the line traditional death/thrash crossover, think Sodom (earlyish), Nifelheim or Piledriver and you’ve got a great idea where this sits. It is well recorded and executed thrash that pays homage to the roots of the genre
Will this win points for originality? Lord no! Will this get you drinking beer and thrashing around the lounge room in your stretch black denim jeans and bullet belt? YES! This is one release that shows that sometimes there is nothing wrong with just sticking to the roots of the music you love and letting it all hang out. I would go so far as to say a tribute to staying frozen in 1987 thrash
The lads have a great sense of the almighty riff and from start to finish this does not cease to entertain me. The musicianship would far surpass that of early Sepultura or Sodom, I would put them alongside Destruction and the crisp recording (which sits in polarity to that of the above mentioned genre leaders). -Reggae

CD review: V/A Operation Underground by Dave Wolff

Bluntface Records is a label and organization of sorts, founded by a ten-year veteran of the New England scene, Otto Kinzel. The bands he is dedicated to supporting are described as thinking left of center, wishing to create without mainstream restrictions of any kind and needing a forum to be heard on a grander scale. His label/organization welcomes artists who prefer quality over quantity and seeks connections with like-minded musicians. The label is home to a handful of bands so far; the calling cards for interested parties are the mottos “no pre-formulated requirements” and “no generic templates.” This 2013 compilation, available for streaming at the label’s official site, is a free and nonprofit means to provide exposure to bands of the ilk described above. A great number of death metal bands answered the call to appear on this compilation (featuring twenty-seven tracks in all) but this is not the only genre spotlighted and each moment gives you something different to experience. The larger-than-life Markradonn has a song included on this anthology, along with Inverticrux (formerly Vintage Flesh); I’ve been familiar with both these bands for some time before hearing this. I’m likewise being introduced to bands I wasn’t previously familiar with such as Sacrichrist, Abdicate, Critical Dismemberment, Green Army, Legion Of Wolves, Accursed Spawn and Goreality. All these bands sound chosen through a painstaking selection process of which would leave the longest lasting impression, based on their inventiveness and unique visions. This compilation proves that such a process can yield the most effective results and will reinforce your belief in quality underground music. -Dave Wolff

CD review: V/A Doomed And Stoned In Portland by Dave Wolff

The fanzine/radio station Doomed And Stoned promotes the local doom/stoner/sludge scene in the depths of Portland, Oregon, apparently extensive to the point of housing a great many performing artists. There is a grand total of seventy bands (all completely new to me) on this self-released compilation, so if you’re world weary and angst ridden and you have a couple hours’ free time this is the ideal collection of songs to let out your suppressed frustrations to. As I’m mostly unfamiliar with the Portland scene and disillusioned with the treatment that free expression has received since the turn of the millennium, I consider it a pleasant surprise to discover the number of active musicians involved in bands there. Doomed And Stoned is the brainchild of Billy Goat, your friendly neighborhood music dealer who seems to have his act together promoting these bands at home and outside Portland. The lengthy roster of tracks featured here contain the same underground motif as many comps of local New York bands (the punk compilation NY Thrash is one that comes to mind); people from the city or other locations such as Seattle and Boston might perceive the same vibes among the bands that submitted work for this undertaking. The range in influences varies from band to band; from thrashy with crunch and blast beats to classic Black Sabbath-ish blues to surreal to hypnotic stoner metal transporting you into the ether. This is more than worth checking out for representing the doom metal underground in Portland. -Dave Wolff

CD review: USUL Flames and Blasphemy by Reggae

Flames and Blasphemy
3rd Inferno Recordings
This is a one man solo project hailing from Asia (details seem to be intentionally vague) featuring the talents of one Mr. Unlight Warbringer. To my ears it fits loosely into a depressive black metal mold, some very nice and melodic guitar bits with the clean tones captured very well. I found when the composer steps on the distortion and its gets heavy the guitar tones become rather fuzzy, not sure if this is the desired effect or not but it makes the recording sound very “protools” like it was recorded in old mates’ bedroom, which is a shame cos the music is definitely of a quality to rise beyond the status it currently finds itself and really creates a bigger buzz about the band amongst the underground.
The tunes themselves are slow and trance inducing. Designed to capture the elements of solitude. Despite the above mentioned complaints about the guitar tone this was still rather enjoyable and its creator does have a great sense of melody, and despite the length of the songs the compositions never get boring.
The vocals are soaked in reverb and it back in the mix, an interesting effect too, gives it sort of another worldly feel and maybe allows it some accessibility to people who may not be fans of black metal. The lyrical content is blatantly black metal and it the lyrics I think do add to the trance like feeling of the recording as well.
Being a one man project I’m not sure if Mr. Warbringer can play drums as there seems to be little to no percussion on the album, (oddly enough, I didn’t notice this until a couple of songs into the recording) the acoustic guitar left to fill that end of the sound spectrum. In a strange way this adds to the feelings of desolation created in the sound.
Overall this is a pretty nifty little release and is reasonably original too, especially with the electric and acoustic guitars intertwining nicely to create some quite hypnotic little melodies. Overall an enjoyable and esoteric release, it won’t appeal to everyone but is worth the time to give a listen to and decide for yourself. -Reggae

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CD review: THE NAMELESS WRETCH What Are Heroes? by Dave Wolff

What Are Heroes?
Rusty Hack Saw
The Nameless Wretch is the musical project of Charlie Joseph Jack Kruger, author and reviewer for Influenced by the more experimental punk bands and similar artists of yesteryear (Bowie, Swans, Samhain, Fugazi etc.), What Are Heroes? is a nightmare cold emptiness that lasts for all eternity, Think of Celtic Frost on Monotheist and Katatonia on Last Fair Deal Gone Down and you’ll have an inkling of where their expertise lies and who this album should appeal to. Dark, grey, distant and depressive, this recording is not for the faint of heart or the easily bummed. But those of us with the fortitude to appreciate an artist’s vision of utter despair and hopelessness (with the awareness that it’s just a record) will find it highly entertaining giving it multiple listens. This is one of those sonic excursions where you can actually see the darkness opening up before you; nothing but rainclouds, empty terrain and leafless, lifeless tress like gravestones. All with the sensation that the memories of the people who lived and thrived here long ago are not completely faded, and are inviting you to spend some time with them… perhaps forever. The overlapping string instruments, percussion instruments and atmospheric effects play well off one another, contributing equally to the wasteland that is created from the darkened minds collaborating on this work. This full length and Of Beauty And Madness’ Litany are two of the year’s finest underground releases in this regard. I eagerly anticipate what’s to come next from this project. -Dave Wolff

CD review: TERMINATION FORCE Grind Thrashing Death by Tony "Reborn" Juarez

Grind Thrashing Death
You don't hear many new bands playing Death/Thrash the way they used to do back in the day. Most new bands either go fully Death Metal or fully Thrash Metal. TERMINATION FORCE is not exactly a new band, but they are a young band. They started a few years ago as CRUSHER, I believe playing the same style they do now. As CRUSHER, they released a couple demos, and then they changed their name to TERMINATION FORCE. Their album we are talking about, "Grind Thrashing Death," is the band's debut album, which includes all the songs from their first demo and a couple tracks from their second demo.
Their music is mostly fast, a few mid-paced parts, aggressive; their drumming is complex and energetic. They mix elements from bands such as DEMOLITION HAMMER, DECEASED, MORBID SAINT, DARK ANGEL, etc. There are also some Grindcore and Punk parts that remind me of NAPALM DEATH and CRYPTIC SLAUGHTER; some riffs a la SLAYER as well. It's very refreshing to listen to a band like TERMINATION FORCE, you'll never get bored listening to them (unless you listen to the album 100 times in a row, hahaha), because their style isn't monotonous at all; it's very versatile. I can picture one of their shows and see total chaos: non-stop mosh pit, stage diving and bodies flying everywhere.
When in doubt, just read the album title, and you will get an idea of what you are about to listen to.
TERMINATION FORCE is one of the bands to keep an eye on' I can wait to hear new stuff from these guys! -Tony "Reborn" Juarez

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

CD review: STRAIGHT HATE/SPEEDY GONZALEZ Born To Grind by Frank Garcia

Born To Grind
The band Straight Hate is a Metal, Hardcore, Grindcore project from Chełm, Lublin. Members include Kuba - vocals, Kamil - guitar, Przemek - bass, Radek - drums. Speedy Gonzales is a GRIND "assault" CORE band from Kediri, East Java - Indonesia. Members are Voxkill Throat: Strss Nvr. Guitar: Apix Kusumo Dirojo. Bass: Kimpul El Corazon and Blasting: Geoff Sunrise.
Born To Grind split tape with Speedy Gonzales released on September 2014. Excellent production. I expected to hear a raw and dirty mix but instead found a clear and solid mix. Punchy intense drums. Heavy distorted guitars with equal balance. Strong bass lines and raw low to mid/high vocals styles. The intensity and delivery stays consistent from the opening track to the last.
My first impression is, crushing and in your face delivery. It reminds me a lot of bands like Phobia, Napalm Death and Brutal Truth. Some of my favorite tracks would have to be Straight Hate-Bloodshot Eyes, I enjoy the low tuned riffing, it makes it really devastating and brutal, I also enjoy how well the grinding parts fit together it all the right moments. Speedy Gonzales-Penambang Pasir Bangsat, fast, straight to the point punk style assault. Speedy Gonzales-Facing The Death, the vocal interchange and subtle crazy samples make you want to slam in the mosh pit. Straight Hate, Sweet Carnage features some memorable riffs and has some crushing double bass kicks. In conclusion, a well-rounded release and combination of both groups fits together perfectly. -Frank Garcia

CD review: STERBENZEIT L'Oltrenotte by Frank Garcia

Sterbenzeit is a three piece black metal project based in Italy. Members are: Necromorg - guitars and vocals, Mistyr - drums Marfik - bass. Their current album L'Oltrenotte was released in 2013 under Immortal Frost Productions. The project started out as a solo experiment in 2006 and turned into a full band in 2009. Consisting of seven tracks and full color six panel booklet, it is a well-crafted piece of work. In terms of production, the first songs are crude in presentation but slowly progress as you listen to the album. Mid-distortion guitar tones and low mid-tone bass. Drums could be more upfront. All together it makes for a decent recording. The atmosphere contained in the album is dark and intense. All the lyrics are in Italian so I’m not sure exactly what is being said. Going on the music content, some of the more standout songs are Sorgiva with some memorable phrases. The intro for Nel Tramonto Discese Lo Sguardo is one of my favorites from this album. Deep and sorrowful, it reminds me of old Nortt or Nocturnal Depression. The bass lines in the song Teagonia are well thought out and are worth spinning several times. In conclusion, the album is worth exploring and shows they can play both fast, melodic at times and create an atmosphere of despair for most listeners. Be sure to also check the other two releases they have (Three Ways To Live In Pain released in 2009 and Werdet Leiden in 2010) to get a good perspective of their evolution. -Frank Garcia

Sunday, February 8, 2015

CD review: SEVERANCE Suffering In Humanity by Tony "Reborn" Juarez

Suffering In Humanity
Goregiastic Records
SEVERANCE has been in the game for a very long time; their humble beginnings go back to 1989 (around that time, very interesting things were happening in the metal world). They released 3 demos, a couple EP’s, and an album before this one. In fact, “Suffering in Humanity” was originally released in 2006, so this is a bit old. To be honest with you I've never heard any of their earlier stuff of their previous album, so I'm not sure how much their style has changed through the years. Their style in this album ranges from Brutal DM, Technical DM and old school DM; think of DEVOURMENT meets INCANTATION meets CANNIBAL CORPSE. If you guys remember, back in 2006 there were very few bands playing Death Metal the way they did back in the late 80’s-early 90’s. In this album, SEVERANCE were bringing the necro-Death Metal sound with tracks like “Consumed” and “Cleansed” and "Reborn Again".
This album features a new vocalist, Mike Mena; he is a very capable Death Metal vocalist and fits their style very well. This album features 12 tracks of brutal, heavy, dark, and memorable tracks. The last track is actually an outro that features a cello solo. There's also a cover of "Fatal Predictions" originally created by PENTAGRAM (Chile); this track does not sound much like the original, but I'm sure they wanted to do their own version. This CD also features a bonus video clip of "Consumed" that I'm sure you can watch on your computer.
The band is still active until today, I haven't hear any of their new stuff, but I'm sure if they put the same effort and passion as they did in this album, they won't disappoint you! -Tony "Reborn" Juarez

CD review: REQUIEM FOR OBLIVION Dark Tales Of Forgotten Mindscapes by Dave Wolff

Dark Tales Of Forgotten Mindscapes
Cedar Closet
To say Requiem For Oblivion is progressive extreme metal is an understatement. I suspect if I discussed all the progressive aspects of this band in detail, this review would be full article length and I’d still have more to say. At times they sound influenced by death metal; other times black metal, classic metal, Celtic metal, thrash, metalcore and classic rock comes to mind (Iron Maiden, Voivod, Immortal, My Dying Bride, Primordial, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath to name specific similarities), but even this can over-simplify matters. The pure thought channeled into this undertaking is far deeper, and another branching out has occurred in a musical field that’s already so diverse there are as many categories as there are bands nowadays. But again, categories don’t paint the complete picture if you don’t go into what makes a band stand out from all the others. If this band seems to be covering too much ground, the complexity isn’t much different from that of the human condition this album reflects. When a band cares enough to make this point, it warrants looking into their formula deeply if you’re prepared to face what awaits within. This concept album is a personalized tale, much like a metal opera, based on a founding member’s bout with addiction and depression, as stated on the band’s Bandcamp profile. From the sound of it, it was a lengthy and drawn out process to overcome and heal. It also must have been personal since the complete lyrics are not included with each track. Only a couple of lines present a taste of the lyrics penned for these songs, but they are written in an imaginative and poetic fashion. This writing style offers dimension to the musical range described above, making the songs with all their differing influences sound like the soundtrack to this personal journey. This is their first full-length and their third release after they released two EP’s in 2011 and 2013. -Dave Wolff

CD review: RECKLESS REDEMPTION Origin Of Destruction by Dave Wolff

Origin Of Destruction
Turkey Vulture Records
Reckless Redemption from Illinois have existed since February 2011 and are heavily influenced by metalcore bands that emerged in the 90s and 2000s such as Sevendust, Lamb Of God, KIllswitch Engage and Slipknot. Within those influences are some noticeable traces of classic thrash and guttural vocals somewhat likened to death metal. This is evident from the opener “Abyss” that starts with a somber theme that slowly moves toward heavier vibes, and “Blinded By Fear” and “Pure Hatred” with their technical similarities to 80s thrash. However the groove, crunch, harmonies and hooks on Origin Of Destruction are basically metalcore that should prove of value if you grew up with the bands Reckless Redemption cite as influences. Not to say it’s a run of the mill album in the slightest; the material is strong and full of controlled energy acknowledging its roots in no uncertain terms. And the more I heard in the songs, the more I wanted to hear as the track list went on. Many of the guitar progressions, the way they are written, channel energy toward making each track more personal to the listener while sustaining your attention throughout. -Dave Wolff

CD review: REALMBUILDER Blue Flame Cavalry by Dave Wolff

Blue Flame Cavalry
I Hate Records
The first time I listened to Blue Flame Cavalry I didn’t much care for it, mostly due to the vocals. Doing some research on the band and giving the album a second chance, it’s starting to grow on me musically. According to Antoine Richard of Metantoine’s Magickal Realm (his review of this album was part of my research); the New York band is comprised of a musician who also happens to be a music instructor and another who also is a filmmaker. Filmmaker/screenwriter/novelist Czar (drums, vocals) and music instructor J.H. Halberd (guitar, bass, keyboards, backing vocals etc.) set out to arrange this as a soundtrack of sorts. Released in 2013, Blue Flame Cavalry is their third full length following 2009’s Summon The Stone Throwers and 2011’s Foundations Of The Pale Architect. I’m not familiar with the band’s previous outings, nor do I like the lead vocals that much, but if you like Manowar you might find a lot appealing about this album. Although the production sounds of demo quality and doesn’t do enough justice to the musicianship there is a range of varying themes from heavy to tranquil to epic. Only four songs are included, the best of these being the title track which closes the album at over ten minutes, with some additional instruments by Halberd. I don’t consider Blue Flame Cavalry that bad now, though I still think they should work on their production and hire a vocalist as their third member. -Dave Wolff

Saturday, February 7, 2015

CD review: MORGENGRAU Extrinsic Pathway by Tony "Reborn" Juarez

Extrinsic Pathway
Blind God Records
If you by any chance have heard the band AUTUMN TEARS, you wouldn't believe that the same vocalist from that band is the same vocalist and frontwoman of MORGENGRAU. She also worked for the record label Dark Symphonies, was briefly with the Texan band HOD, and did vocals in two albums for IGNITOR. In a recent interview, Erika Swinnich stated that she wanted to go back to her Death Metal roots and play heavier, darker and more aggressive music; she was not completely satisfied playing with her previous bands.
In reality, when you hear a name like MONGENGRAU, you really don't expect nothing but an average band, some people probably wouldn't even give it a chance, but when you actually listen to this album, it will make your jaw hit the floor, no doubt about it! MORGENGRAU managed to create an album full of memorable Death Metal tunes (in the old fashioned way, of course) in the vein of bands like MORBID ANGEL, DEICIDE, IMMOLATION, SEPULTURA, ASPHYX, etc; the vocals are harsh-dry-aggressive, they remind me of a less chaotic version of Lori Bravo of NUCLEAR DEATH, but more straightforward Death Metal oriented as well.
The chemistry between the band members is impressive; the album is full of good quality riffs, nicely supported by a powerful wall of bass lines, demolishing drumming and spine chilling vocals.
There’s a cover of SEPULTURA’s “Inner Self”, but this is not a carbon copy of the same track, they play it on the own style, and it sounds heavier and rawer than the original.
As far as favorite tracks, it’s hard to choose, but I will go with “Antihetical”, “The White Death”, “Choking Grove” and “Polymorphic Communion.”
There are definitely no weak tracks in this album, every single one of them will hit you like a ton of bricks and pulverize your miserable souls. If you love Death Metal, especially the old fashioned way, then this could be the perfect ear-slaughter! -Tony "Reborn" Juarez

CD review: MERDARAHTA One by Frank Garcia

This band started in 2011 and has current and ex-members of Fuck The Facts, Winters In Osaka, The Sun Through A Telescope, Mekhaya and Black Oak Decline. They hail from Canada and genre is described as dark, noise, ambient. Line up: T. Das, M. Mongeon, l. Newton, M. Bourgon, M. Vilandré, M. Das, S. Choquette, D. Menard, M. Cleal, M. Raymond, A. Jennings.
The "One" album was self-released in 2013 comprised of twelve songs condensed into four. In terms of production, all the different instruments come through perfectly. Lots of string and keyboard effects. Drums are only heard on a few songs. The entire thing is instrumental, no vocals. If I had to choose which song made the best impression I would say its "Towers", dissonant guitar riffs make up most of it. It goes for over ten minutes and you could easily get lost in its trance. The songs Breathe which would be tracks eleven and twelve are epic, long and winding soundscapes like a journey to desolate lands.
In conclusion, if you like long doom eerie ambient sounds this would be for you, coming from a metal background, this album really does not do much for me, I have to be in the right mind set to truly enjoy it. I recommend it for fans of Doom, Ambient sounds. -Frank Garcia

Interview with Yngve of MORTUUS SUM by Dave Wolff

Interview with Yngve of MORTUUS SUM

What’s going on with the extreme metal scene in Greece these days? How active has Mortuus Sum been over there?
We have many death and black metal bands. There's no point to begin naming them, because I will possibly leave someone out. Especially the Hellenic black metal scene; I must say that it is one of the strongest scenes worldwide! Mortuus Sum is active regarding releases and stuff, but we are not active in gigs.

Even if you cannot name all the bands currently active in the scene, can you name some of the most well-known bands?
Well known bands... here we go... I will definitely mention Acherontas which is the leading occult black metal band in Greece, Chaosbaphomet and Empire Of The Moon, Funeral Storm, Revencult, Nadiwrath, Profane Prayer, Dizziness. There are so many bands. We need pages and pages to mention them all!

One band from Greece that many people in the States have heard of is Necromantia. Can you tell the readers how well known and respected that band has become in your home country since the 90s?
Necromantia is one of the first bands of the first wave of Hellenic black metal. They are widely respected and they are a huge influence for the scene. They are one of the few bands that managed to go abroad.

What can you say of the club scene nearest your location? How often can you attend shows and how large are the turnouts?
We have some nice clubs here in Athens like An Club, Gagarin 208, Kyttaro Club, Fuzz Club. I cannot attend many shows due to some financial problems, but concerning the turnout, here in Greece and especially in Athens, we can see something that I truly believe isn't happening anywhere else. Everyone comes for the headliner or their friends when they are playing as support acts and they they just leave! I mean, what the fuck! I ALWAYS go to a gig before it starts and I am leaving at the end! Is it so hard? You paid some money; why would you leave when your friends go offstage, or why snob the support acts and come in time for the headliner? Show some respect. I don't get it!

Who are Mortuus Sum’s founding members? How did the band begin and what led to you becoming strictly a studio band?
The band was created in 2002 by me and Auren, and we were called Panzerfaust. We wrote a couple of songs, never released them though and then we split up because I joined the army and Auren left for Sweden. In 2007 I reformed the band as Mortuus Sum and here we are. I kept Mortuus Sum as a studio band only, because we all live in different cities, so there is no way we can all meet and rehearse. Nevertheless, if something really good comes up, I will gather some session members and I will do a one-off gig or something. I have no idea what will happen in the future. At the moment I am pleased with things as they are.

In what ways has the band changed musically from the time you started as Panzerfaust to the time you reformed as Mortuus Sum?
When I started the band in 2002, the influences were mostly of Norwegian origin. When I reformed the band in 2007, Norwegian black metal remained as an influence, but some other elements were introduced. Nowadays, the band is more Swedish oriented, like Dark Funeral, Marduk, old Amon Amarth etc.

Black metal means different things to bands in different countries. What do you and Mortuus Sum consider “true black metal”?
I will answer on behalf of all the band members (at least I think we share common beliefs. Time to learn the truth! Hahaha). Black metal for Mortuus Sum is a way of life, a way of seeing things I life. It is attitude and the way of acting. Moreover, black metal is staying underground and staying true to your principles.

How often has Mortuus Sum been able to do one-off shows with session musicians? How many people would show up?
There is possibility to play one gig sometime next year for the first time ever! As for people showing up, I cannot tell you that. Sure I want to have a full house, but sometimes less is better. Better with some TRUE fans of the band, than people that are there just because they don't have anything better to do, if you get my point.

How many people do you know who are equally dedicated that they will stay for the entire bill at a local show?
I cannot indicate a certain number, but they are few.

Are there as many print fanzines and online webzines as there are bands in the Greek metal underground? If there are too many to mention, cite those most active and indicate how wide their distribution is?
There are more webzines than printed zines in Greece. The truth is to print one a zine editor needs some money, so most people go for the internet choice. The biggest printed zine is Metal Hammer. There was Metal Invader, but now it is a webzine. There are so many webzines and blogs that I couldn't possibly start mentioning. There is Greek Rebels webzine, Rock Hard; really too many to start listing.

So for many zine editors, hosting webzines is a means to save finances while reaching a wider readership?
A webzine is sometimes much cheaper than printing an actual zine. That way, they can spend more money in promoting the local scene, for example by boosting some posts or by buying merch from bands or by any other way.

Does Greece have many independent labels to help unsigned bands get word around, or do bands release their material independently? Are many Greek underground bands using social media to spread their work?
A little bit of both. There some independent labels that are doing nice jobs releasing material, but there are bands that choose the digital solution. I for one, have released some digital material with Mortuus Sum, but in the end I founded a label, so we are going to have only physical releases from now on.

How much material has been released digitally by Mortuus Sum? Can your material be heard on multiple websites? On which of the social networks you listed has the band received the biggest response?
We have released "Promo 2011" in digital format and then on limited CD-r, a split EP with Funeral Storm, called "Inverted God" in digital format and a split EP with Nattergal, called "Buried and Doomed in Misery" in digital format and on limited tape format as a re-release. Our songs can be heard on ReverbNation, BandCamp, SoundCloud and YouTube. The biggest response is coming from ReverbNation's link on our Facebook page.

List the tracks that appeared on Promo 2011 and explain how they represented the band when they were composed.
"Promo 2011" only contains one song, the band's name song that is, entitled "Mortuus Sum". It was the first song that was composed and recorded after the rebirth of the band in 2007. It was and still is a trademark song for us. It was the song that put us on the map. It means a lot for the band and for me in person.

Who penned the lyrics to your song “Mortuus Sum” and what was the inspiration behind them?
The lyrics were written by Morrigan, our lyricist at the time. The inspiration was a dream she had, but I don't really know more, as it was something personal.

Where are Funeral Storm and Nattergal from? How long have you been friends with those bands and what made you decide to release split EPs together?
Funeral Storm are from Hellas and Nattergal are from Mexico. We are friends for quite some time now and it was a physical progress to release something together.

What local independent labels do you know of that actively support underground bands from your country? Tell the readers about your independent label, and how you managed to found it with the finances at your disposal. Is this label meant to exclusively release Mortuus Sum material or are you likewise going to sign other bands?
Acherontas Promotions, III Damnation Productions, Floga Records and Fist Bang are some if the labels that are active in Greece. My label is called Verba Volant Records but it is not yet active. It will be active for all bands and not only Mortuus Sum, even though that Mortuus Sum are already in a label from Germany, called Apocalyptic Art.

Did you become acquainted with the staff of Apocalyptic Art while seeking labels to distribute your material? How much has this label helped to spread word about the band?
I found out this label when they released the first album by Dizziness, a black metal band I play for. We became friends and we closed the deal. Apocalyptic Art is an awesome label and the guy who runs it is one hell of a guy. He is very supportive and true underground!

How long has Dizziness been around? How active is this band next to Mortuus Sum?
Dizziness are around since 2008. They are more active than Mortuus Sum regarding the releases they have. I was a full member for them, but now I am a session drummer.

How do you plan to run your label Verba Volant while remaining active with Mortuus Sum?
I intend to run the label firstly for my bands, when I want to release an EP or something and when I have some money, I am going to work with other bands also.

What bands do you have in mind to work with once you start doing so for the label?
I will work with extreme bands mostly, but of course I will not refuse to release thrash metal or other genres also if it comes my way.

How widespread would you want to see Verba Volant records become when you start running the label full time?
I am not going for the big money, that's for sure. I will try to keep it underground and spread the word of tapes as much as I can.

We met and began corresponding through Kat of Obscure Chaos Fanzine. Did you and she meet while she was seeking bands to feature in her zine?
I have known Kat since 2011 if I remember well. I remember I saw a post of Obscure Chaos that time; I pressed "like" and we began talking. One thing led to another and here we are! She supports me in any way possible and there are not a lot of people doing that nowadays. She helps bands like no one and I must thank her for that!

How much effort have you and Kat channeled into supporting one another and helping spread word in Greece and the USA?
I don't think that you need a lot of effort. You just need to really want to do what you are doing. I really want to support Kat in what she is doing and so is she with my bands and with every other band and I totally respect her. Just believe and it can happen! Of course it is hard, but it is music. We live for it!

How many contacts have you made through Obscure Chaos since you and Kat began corresponding?
I made some connections with radio stations and webzines and they are all so supportive. There are people like you, that know how important the underground metal scene is and you are all doing your best to make it stand out! On behalf of the bands I play for, thank you for that!

Name the radio stations and webzines that are most actively corresponding with Mortuus Sum at this point?
At the moment, only you and Obscure Chaos Zine are actively corresponding with the band. Also Fury Brings Tears zine is mentioning Mortuus Sum quite often and I am eternally grateful to all of you.

Given a choice, do you prefer reading web zines or print zines for the information they provide on bands and labels?
Printed ones of course, but to tell the truth, a webzine is way easier to find and read. The printed zines though are something that I will never give away!

Are there any webzines you have been looking over of late?
Due to some personal issues, I don't have the time to look around. Things are going better though, so very soon I will be checking up on what's happening once more.

What do you plan to release next under the banner of Mortuus Sum?
We were supposed to release our first full album, entitled "Vargavinter" early this year, but due to some personal problems it will be delayed. We talked with Apocalyptic Art and we all agreed to release it later, but within this year. Apart from this, we are preparing something more, but it is not official yet. The only thing I can say is that it will be a huge thing for the band and a tribute to the Gods. 

Mortuus Sum

-Dave Wolff

Friday, February 6, 2015

Interview with Erik Martin of CRITICAL DISMEMBERMENT by Dave Wolff

Interview with Erik Martin of CRITICAL DISMEMBERMENT

Critical Dismemberment is described as an “internet death metal band” that was founded by you with Chase Fincher. So is your music exclusively available on the internet? Explain the reasons you arrived at this decision for the band.
For now, our music is exclusively on the internet. We are talking about making some physical copies of our debut release and possibly the EP we are working on now. When we started this project, it was just us messing around and making music we thought was badass and posting it pretty much everywhere. When we got approached to be on Operation: Underground, that's when things started to take off for us. So, unless some big time label picks us up, I think we will continue moving forward as an internet based band and try to legitimize it as a proper outlet for music and hopefully inspire more musicians, who are hundreds, if not thousands of miles away to create music together.

Which one of you thought up naming the band Critical Dismemberment Were there any specific influences for the band name or was it something you chose because it was an attention grabber?
It really came down to having something different and out of the norm. It obviously is an attention grabber and we have gotten some negativity from it. We've been told it's too long to be a band name or it's too much. We really don't care. The name came from a conversation I had with my best friend while he was at a concert. Long story short, he told me that if a man didn't stop hitting on his wife, he was going to critically dismember him. So, when we were coming up with names, that conversation came to mind, threw it out there and we both loved it and felt like it fit the sound we were going for. I think if we weren't called Critical Dismemberment, we were going to go with Cowards Blood, which doesn't have that "shock factor" that we currently have.

How long have you personally been listening to death metal? What made you decide you wanted to be a musician for a living?
My first experience with death metal was Slayer as a teenager; after that I was hooked. The first song I listened to was "South of Heaven". I instantly dove headfirst into the genre and never looked back. The idea of being a musician for a living has been with me since I was child. My earliest memories always revolved around music in some way; growing up, listening and having a deep love for music and creating it is something I work really hard at. I haven't made it my only job yet but that is definitely how I want it to end up.

What bands were you listening to religiously before you discovered Slayer? And what bands did you start seeking out once you became a death metaller? What do you look for when it comes to appreciating extreme music?
Before I found Slayer, it was Metallica, Motley Crue, basically anything 80s hair and 90s alternative. Bands like Soundgarden, Marilyn Manson and Korn. Once Slayer opened up the floodgates of extreme metal for me, it was bands like Morbid Angel, Dying Fetus, Exodus, and Testament. Basically anything that was heavy, fast. When it comes to extreme music I am sort of picky. I really like the bands that are all out heavy, but I also like the bands that write complicated music. Pianos, choirs and anything symphonic gets me real excited. I usually gravitate to the guys that are doing something real and unique or adding twists to death metal that you wouldn't think of. One band that has been a big influence on me this past year is Markradonn. I still remember the first time hearing them and being blown away with what they were writing. It’s bands like that that most interest me.

What about Markradonn spoke to you the first time you heard their material? How important do originality and creativity have in extreme music as it stands now?
Really the use of brass and timpani. Just the overall HUGE sound that was accomplished. Nobody ever thinks to combine the elements Markradonn does and continue to add to that sound. Every time I listen it’s like doing it all over again for the first time. There are so many bands that just emulate their favorite bands down to a tee just for the financial gain instead of the love of music. I honestly feel like both those concepts are lacking in today's scene. In the underground it’s not as bad, but once a band gets a little success and a little taste of the financial good life, it’s like they sacrifice what got them into that position on the first place. I could honestly care less if either of my bands "make it". I do not want to give up the sound of either, that we have worked tirelessly on, just for a little financial freedom. I think of more bands thought like that, it would be a different scene.

You are based in Arkansas and Chase Fincher is based in Missouri. Did you come into contact through the internet?  How did the two of you come to write material together using the net to correspond?
We did come in contact through the internet. We worked and released a song together called "One Up" and stayed in contact for about a year or so. After really doing nothing musically we decided, let's start an internet band and see what happens. If anything, it will be fun.

What is the story of you and Chase coming into contact through the net? Were you actively seeking musicians to work with at the time or just seeking new contacts to correspond and trade with? How long have you been working together?
Chase and I met through Facebook. It really was a chance meeting. He was doing his solo work in Elizabeth's Honor and I was the vocalist for another band and it just took off from there. We have been working together steadily since late winter/early spring of last year. It hasn't been long, which makes the small amount of success we have even more mind boggling, at least to us.

How much has social media helped metalheads connect over vast distances, and arrange working relationships involving trading and composing, since you became involved in the underground?

I honestly have seen a difference yet. People would rather have time in practice space, with their bandmates writing and recording when it comes to the composing aspect. On the other hand, it is almost an essential tool in today's world in order to connect and share music with other metalheads. That's not to say some bands aren't doing it the old school way by playing shows and doing it strictly by word of mouth, but social media has to at some point be a factor in getting your music shared and also reaching out for more opportunities if you want it to be a legitimate way to support yourself and your family.

Is word of mouth still an important factor in making a name for yourself and your band?
Signed or not you still have to take the business approach to things. You still have to promote yourself outside of label support or promotional companies/websites. For both Critical Dismemberment and Skin Drone, word of mouth has played a huge role in getting our music out there. We've been lucky enough to have a lot of people genuinely like what we are creating to help spread the word about us.

What band are you involved in locally? Do you remain active with them since forming Critical Dismemberment?
The only other band I'm in is Skin Drone with Otto Kinzel of Bluntface Records. I mutually split with the band I was in when Chase and I first met. They were located in Memphis; I just wasn't able to make band practice and they needed someone who could be there. It’s only about a three and a half hour drive from where I am, but my day job can be demanding.

Being that you and he are involved in an internet based band, is it easier to sustain Critical Dismemberment as a two piece project? What instruments do you and he handle while writing your material?
We feel it is easier to sustain it as just the two of us. We have talked about adding other members but ultimately decided since we are on the same page creatively, adding members is just adding more fuel to a fire that doesn't need it. We can accomplish what five to six piece bands in the same genre are doing. As for instruments, Chase handles guitars, bass, drum programming and synth. I do all the lyric writing and vocal performances. We have decided before starting on these new records to become more involved with each other’s duties. You will probably hear some guitar from me and a lot more symphonic elements that I have begun writing. You will also see more lyric contributions from Chase going forward as well. We would really like to write music where both of us are, equally involved in the writing process.

In addition to Markradonn, are there bands with similar symphonic elements that make you want to take a similar route?
Aberration Nexus, a one man symphonic black metal band manned by Chris Meyer. His writing style and the way he composes his orchestrations is nothing short of breathtaking. It is brutal yet beautiful all at the same time. He definitely lit the symphonic fire in my brain. There's also Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth. Behemoth in the early days played a small role in that mindset as well, but it was really Markradonn and Aberration Nexus that really inspired me to want to incorporate that sound into both bands. Being that Critical Dismemberment has taken more of a grind approach recently, it's easier to write and layer for Skin Drone, though you will hear the influence in both bands. Both Haniel and Chris, I hope, will have guest spots on the Critical Dismemberment full length; that's how much we respect those guys and the music they create.

How much time did working on and recording “One Up” take? How was your experience arranging it online?
The writing and recording process was pretty quick actually. We had far inferior equipment to what we have now and little knowledge on how to properly execute what we were trying to accomplish. It was definitely a learning experience writing and structuring music strictly through Facebook messenger and a few emails but we powered through. We actually not too long ago just found that song and it made us both cringe, it sounds so archaic compared to what we are able to do now.

How do you and Chase go about recording together? What programs do you and he use to share your ideas on the web?
The writing process we have is different but it works. It starts with an idea that one of us comes up with. We will work it out, usually over Facebook messenger, then Chase will musically work on it over the span of a week or so, depending on time and inspiration. I will write the lyrics to the vibe of what the song is giving off. Then, we record final takes and make small edits we deem necessary and then Chase will do his thing producing it. When it comes to sharing ideas, Dropbox and YouTube links for inspiration are our best friends. It sounds confusing, but we have written and recorded music this way for about a year now and have it down to a science. At first, it was difficult but once we got a solid routine it is something that we don't even think about anymore, we just do it.

In what ways have you improved your recording methods since the release of “One Up”?
The equipment we use is definitely a step up. We both have invested a lot in guitars, studios, and mics. Chase uses an eleven rack now, so he can fine tune his guitar tones. I went from a dynamic mic using a free Studio called Audacity to a full blown pro studio with a condenser mic and an audiobox. We just now have really figured out the ins and outs of our equipment and it has definitely made us better songwriters now that our equipment isn't holding us back. The biggest thing though is that Chase and I are very comfortable writing and recording together, we both know what the end result should sound like and what sound we are trying to accomplish.

As an increasing number of bands are building home studios and using internet equipment to record, will bands continue to record at traditional recording studios or will more bands follow suit to have more creative control over the work?
I would hope that bands would follow suit. The scene needs less bullshit and more artists. There is a lot of animosity in the metal world today. It seems like every week a member is leaving a band and has a confessional about how this member or that member sucks as a person or it was just one person running the show etc. I have an issue with this new trend of "Slayer vs Metallica" that social media seems to be doing constantly. Who cares if one band is better than the other? It should be about the love of the music, how the music speaks to you and makes you feel. There needs to be less hate, shit talking, egos and God complexes and more support and bands doing it for the live of the music instead of fortune and fame.

Those comparisons between bands has been going on since the 90s. Before that there were comparisons between “guitar gods” and endless debates over which guitarist is more proficient. What about the current Slayer vs Metallica trend do you object to?
It’s the competition that bleeds into the underground scene. Instead of us all supporting each other. It’s a constant competition of who is heavier, who is more brutal. We need to get to the point where everyone is supporting each other instead of competing with each other.

Have you had more experiences with mutual support between you and other bands, or have there been more instances where you dealt with bands who wanted to compete?
We actually have had a lot of mutual support with a lot of bands. We haven't really dealt with bands wanting to compete. The underground has let us in with wide open arms and called us its own. We are really lucky to have had the support that we have from all the various bands, blog's, and radio stations. Metal Devastation Radio owner Zach Moonshine gave us our first interview when we were practically unheard of in the scene, and we were the first band to get a second interview when our EP dropped. MDR has been huge in helping support us and growing our fan base. Another DJ is DJ Lunatic Fist, with just about every release from both bands, he's been there blasting the songs and has also played a significant role in our growth. I'm sure though, with the new direction Critical D is taking, we will probably get bashed and hated upon for using more electronic music and 8bit sounds in our music, but if we aren't pushing the boundaries as artists and doing something different, then there is no point in us even writing and releasing music. Pissing people off comes with that territory.

How did you come up with the idea to incorporate electronic music into your compositions? Is there a particular process you do this by?
I really didn't do it until Chase introduced me to it with Elizabeth's Honor. From there it was just getting as many plug ins as possible and seeing what happened through trial and error until we got the hang of writing good sounding electronic music that wasn't over the top or too much. We pay very close attention to how much goes in and that it is actually complementing a certain part of the song without just being thrown in there just because it sounded cool. There is no real cut and dry process to it. Normally Chase handles the majority of it and I'll program some choirs or fire up the keyboard and lay down some subtle organ tracks or weird ambience that fits. We have an in orthodox way of writing electronic music, but Chase does a damn good job of making it work.

What inspired the lyrical content of “One Up” and what did you make an effort to convey when writing it? What first interested you in being a lyricist?
Being that the song was heavily Nintendo core I decided to take an approach of, everyone's played super Mario brothers, we've all had one life left, there's that anxiety that comes along with it, but with the added twist of playing it in a sick game of Saw, like that last life is your life, if it ends, so do you. It was fun and a nice break from what I usually write. I found out I had a knack for writing poetry when I was in the fifth grade,  and wrote it and the occasional short story up until my sophomore year in high school. It was then that I was getting into really heavy, complex music and I found myself paying attention to the words more so than the music itself. So, I just started writing lyrics, which at first was just glorified poetry. I then found a book called "The Art of Great Lyric Writing" and it completely changed how I wrote lyrics and structured them, even down to writing songs that were purely metaphorical and the story telling side of lyric writing. There was a lot of time spent reading a dictionary and studying a thesaurus and just reading every type of book genre I could possibly get my hands on.

What sort of poetry and fiction were you writing from the fifth grade to high school? Who wrote and published The Art Of Great Lyric Writing and how did your writing improve after you read it?
Poetry was about anything and everything. I've always had a fascination with Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare, I studied everything I could about them and read everything I could that they wrote. When it came to short stories, in the early innocent years, it was about knights, or medieval war; some of it I don't even remember. As I grew older, the poetry got more personal and dark. I grew out of writing short stories. I had a real passion for the short and sweet poetry. Most of the time it was just metaphors for what I was going through in life, but every once and a awhile I could come with a poem that was something I just made up, and it usually was dark, sometimes violent, and just all around weird. The Art Of Writing Great Lyrics was written by Pamela Phillips Oland and was published by Allworth Press New York. She basically explains that it’s not about making your words rhyme; lyric writing is different than writing poems, and every good song has a beginning, middle, and end. It probably took me a year or so to break out of it but once I really started applying what I learned from that book to my lyrics they just took off. I try and make every song I write follow that formula, whether it be something personal or a song that is fictional. That book even breaks down why it is important to use some words and not others for song flow purposes or to not sound like an idiot. In a nutshell, it’s really a book for writing more mainstream music, but a lot of her techniques can be applied to this genre of music, you just have to put yourself out there and try things that no one else is doing.

I’ve interviewed quite a few people who cite Edgar Allan Poe as an inspiration of one sort or another. What sort of an inspiration has his work been for you? Are there any specific examples of his writing?
His work just spoke to me. It was everything I wanted to write laying there in front of me. The darkness, depression, helplessness, themes that I often write about. It would be an extreme sin for me to pick just one or two examples of his work. It all was an inspiration to me and still is to this day. Whenever I get writer’s block, I always read "The Fall Of The House Of Usher" or "The Raven" and that usually clears it pretty quick. It’s as though he always put himself in his stories; especially his detective stories. I in some way, shape or form have always done that thanks to him. You never know which parts are fiction and which are real life.

Would you ever consider setting one of Poe’s fiction pieces to a song? Deceased did so with “Dark Chiling Heartbeat” based on The Tell Tale Heart and they didn’t do too shabby a job.
I would love to do something to that effect, although it probably wouldn't fit with what Chase and I are writing. Our music is way too chaotic to get the point across in what Poe was accomplishing. If we were to ever slow down, I would like to set one to "The Masque Of The Red Death". I think a concept album telling each of the victims’ stories in the seven rooms would be an amazing feat to pull off, but like the Shakespearean concept, incredibly difficult to pull off, but it could be done. Who knows, maybe it will be another Skin Drone album to,o haha.

Was the phrasing William Shakespeare employed in his writing a help for you to improve your lyric writing?
It wasn't his phrasing as much as it was his storytelling. I remember reading Hamlet for the first time and thinking to myself, this would be a badass concept record. I enjoy his tragedies more than the others. It was the poetic darkness that really drew me in. His ability to make you feel happiness, and feel pain was a real inspiration when it came to lyric writing and something I still try to hone in. I want you to be pissed when I am, sad when I am. I want every listener to feel all the emotions I try to convey and perform in every song, it something that I work very hard to achieve in every song that ultimately makes a record. Shakespeare and his tragedies were a major influence on that style of writing for me.

A concept album based on Shakespeare’s writings has yet to be undertaken. Do you think such an endeavor could be pulled off? If Skin Drone was to attempt a concept album based on Shakespeare, which of his works do you imagine it would be based on?
I think it could, it would take a lot of meticulous planning and have to be well thought out to be executed probably. Nothing is impossible in music. You never know, it may be a future Skin Drone record, haha. It wouldn't be based on a singular work of his. It would most likely combine stories and characters using his stories and combining my own. I would probably link all of the characters we decided upon, like Macbeth/Romeo & Juliet and tastefully intertwine their stories to tell one big story while keeping their original stories in place. Then to add drama, incorporate small amounts of Hamlet and/or Othello. I would still maintain the tragedy elements of all their stories but add to it a lot. For example, make Romeo maybe suicidal from the get go, and deal with all the emotions and thoughts in his head. In the same story, Juliet only acts she falls in love with him in a secret plot to eventually murder him and use the original ending as her way of executing him, only her poison was just wine or something to that effect. The possibilities are endless, just getting all those thoughts into one focused idea and getting the music to help tell the story and have it all come out flawless would be a huge endeavor, but something that could be done. Just talking about it has given me a lot of ideas, I may actually pitch this to Otto, haha.

How much of a step forward in the evolution of extreme music would a Shakespearean concept album be? Would it inspire other bands to follow suit?

I'm sure it would be a small step forward in the extreme music world. Something other than blood, guts, murder, and Satan disemboweling people is always a step forward. I would hope that it would inspire bands to take risks, big or small to go outside the comfort zone or out of what is ordinary and be different and do something that has never been done without being scared of the consequences. So many bands are afraid of a negative comment or review, if Otto and I decide to move forward with that idea, I would hope to see more bands doing concept records, Shakespearian or not. Most of the lyrical content in today's extreme music, more so in the "mainstream" or well-known bands is almost always the same. It gets redundant and boring even if the musicianship is great. If writing a record like that is what it takes to start a revolution, or renaissance, even on a small scale, that would be extraordinary.

Explain how the band was approached to appear on Otto Kinzel’s Operation: Underground compilation.

We had already released The Seventh Trumpet Sounds and Room 911, and I had developed a friendship with Haniel Adhar Markradonn by this time. He messaged me one afternoon and said he and Otto were working on a compilation album and that we needed to be on it. From there we sent The Seventh Trumpet Sounds to Otto; he liked it and put us on. Otto also mixed and mastered that track as well. If it wasn't for Haniel believing we had what it takes to be put on the international underground stage, I highly doubt we would be where we are at without his and Otto's support and help guiding us through the underground. That album was HUGE for us to be a part of.

How long have you been friends with Haniel? How did you two first meet and how much support have you given one another?
Haniel and I have known each other for the better part of a year I would say. If I remember correctly we first met through Reverbnation and just kept tabs on each other for a while until we connected on Facebook. There has been a lot of mutual support between the both of us. We are always sharing each other’s music and helping spread the word. He is definitely one I am glad to have on my side and his help and guidance have been priceless.

What sort of guidance has Haniel offered you regarding working in bands for a living?

It’s been mostly how to be professional in a somewhat nonprofessional world. How to approach radio stations, blogs, zines etc. and not come off as a stuck up individual or band that seems like these people should listen to you just because you think you’re the best thing to happen to music. Staying humble is one of the best ways to circumvent that. We have also learned from him how to properly promote yourself and your music etc. I think the best shred of knowledge he gave us; and this was learned purely by just reading everything that he posts; is to not a give a damn about the haters and trash talk and focus on the music and creating it. You have to stand up for yourself in this business and defend your music to whomever doesn't get what you are trying to accomplish or create and if they still don't get it, move on from it. So, it really hasn't been on how to do music for a living, but more of a constant lesson in how to sustain success no matter the size, connect and maintain relationships with all the people in the scene that truly support the underground and the musicians in it.

As long as you’ve been actively playing in bands, have you noticed that remaining humble helps a band’s longevity?

No one wants to invest their hard earned money in douchebags and self-proclaimed kings of the scene. A couple bands can get away with it; Attila for example, Emmure (specifically Frankie) but nine times out of ten, just in a few of the local places here close, those bands didn't last as long as the ones that were constantly doing things for the fans. Everything from free shows, or if there was a cover, I've even seen some bands give merch away. The one thing I learned quickly was that without the fans, your band is nothing. Calling them out, ripping them off or throwing an Axl Rose fit will get you nowhere fast. Stay humble and your fans will help you reach the top. That's why I try and do the personal studio updates, the one on ones, and make the people who support us feel like family. To me, that's what they are, one huge extended metal family.

Describe the writing and recording process for The Seventh Trumpet Sounds and Room 911. Were these both full length releases for the band? What did Otto most appreciate about your material when you sent it to him?
The writing process was pretty simple on those songs. Chase already had written the songs a year or two prior; basically all we had to do was clean them up, change a few things and put lyrics and vocals to them. They both came together respectively in a matter of a week or two. Chase and I hit a stride pretty quick and the reception to Trumpets was huge. It was probably the most successful song we had written for any project. We followed that same formula with Room 911 and it took off as well, up until the release of The Paper Boy; they were our most popular songs. I remember when we and Otto were talking about first signing with Bluntface, he simply stated that Trumpets was badass. We were doing something different and worked really hard to achieve what we were writing. It was probably between him liking the material we were writing and the amount of creativity and time we spent on doing so.

How much additional exposure has Bluntface Records gotten the band since you and Otto began promoting one another?
Otto's been able to spread our name out there pretty far. We are still understanding the scope of how many people actually know who Critical D is outside of social media. The radio airplay and interviews with radio stations that would probably turn us away any other time has been invaluable. We've had people from many different countries email us and tell us they like what we are doing or just a simple, keep rocking love you guys type thing. We are definitely bigger than either Chase or I ever imagined starting out; we will probably never be able to repay Otto for all the time and energy he has put into the band and getting us out to as many people as possible. Without his help and guidance we certainly wouldn't be where we are today. I can say with certainty that Critical Dismemberment will be a Bluntface band for its entire existence. Otto believed in us when we were still really small and trying to figure out the scene and he has introduced to so many people, radio stations, other bands etc. His help in our growth and presence is priceless.

What radio stations in the States and worldwide have been airing the band since you and Otto hooked up?
Metal Devastation Radio has been a huge supporter. We just teamed up with Whatever Radio; they will start blasting our tunes shortly. Another couple of stations that have played us a lot is Rock Bandom Radio, Metal Thunder Radio and Metal Messiah Radio I believe. I am constantly networking with other stations. Each station has several DJs so we get put on a pretty regular rotation worldwide. That sort of ties into the people from all over emailing us showing support and asking when the next record is coming. Without those stations we definitely wouldn't have the fanbase we have now. Now more than ever, these radio stations are the new word of mouth, and it is very important to make long lasting relationships and show mutual support for them if you want to succeed.

Quote lyrics you have penned for Critical Dismemberment songs and explain the thought that went into them.
This is something I wouldn't normally do. I usually just let people in when I say this song is just personal, or this is me telling a story; this will be the first time delving into them publicly, haha. OK. There's a line in the song "Room 911" which is probably one of the most personal songs I have ever wrote and released. "The sun hits my skin, but I can barely feel it, they say it gets better, but I can hardly believe them". Those two lines right there tell the story of me being in an unhappy relationship and using prescription medication to deal with it. I had a severe addiction to hydrocodone and wrote that song at the height of it. It was such a relief to hear it, for every personal song like that I write. It’s like the final nail in that chapter of my life. Another set would be from Nightmares End, “Why are you scared to talk now? It’s never been a problem before... blood swirls in the drain, separation from life, you will never be the fucking same". This is me metaphorically saying, now that I'm clear headed, you don't want to put me through the hell you did, my feelings for you are dead, without me, life won't be the same. Nightmares End is the unsaid part two/finale of Room 911. It talks about me moving on not only with my addiction, but with that particular relationship. The only other personal son on that record was "The Seventh Trumpet Sounds". That song describes in detail what I see in a recurring nightmare. The part two to this song will actually be a Skin Drone song called “Revelation". I go through the apocalypse in this dream, seeing everything from angels and demons fighting to the devil himself feasting on the righteous. I felt like writing about it might help make it go away, so far no luck, the dreams aren't as frequent, but I still am haunted by it. The Damnation Of Elizabeth is just a story I made up. Since Chase’s solo act is called Elizabeth's Honor, I thought it would be cool to incorporate a song about a fictional character who is put to death for witchcraft only to come back from the dead and cause hell on earth. There will probably be one song about her on every record telling her story up until her ultimate destruction. Feel My Wrath And Tremble is another song about the apocalypse, one that is fictional and the unofficial prelude to Trumpets. When I first heard the riffs, the story came to mind of the forces of good and evil getting ready for the final battle and through that battle, the earth destroys everything, along with itself. It’s a weird concept, probably one that won’t be expanded upon in future records.

Did you have any legends or folklore in mind when you thought up the concept for The Damnation Of Elizabeth?
Really when I started writing it, the idea of the Salem witches came to mind. I found out a couple years ago that I am related to one of the Salem witches. I was always fascinated by the whole story and how they handled the punishment of them and the outrageous stories behind their crimes. I wanted to sort of blend that story with a bit of the occult and through death make her immortal with a weakness, like vampires. For future songs in the story, I will be doing a lot of research of the trials themselves, picking out certain judges for her to torture for sending her to her death and ultimate rebirth. There is a house in Salem that is notoriously haunted by a spirit who, if I remember correctly, was wrongfully accused and put to death for being a witch, I would like to include those feelings and that story into hers somehow. There are so many different possibilities and stories you could tell on the subject, it could be practically open ended, and so many different old legends and European folklores you could include in her story helping her cause mass destruction and vengeance. I haven't really mapped out her story to far, but I can promise it will be a roller coaster ride of blood, vengeance, anger and sorrow and eventually, her eternal destruction forever.

What publications about the Salem witch trials would you recommend in particular, for the information they provide the reader?

Through Google and if you can find a history book at your library. Since it really is based on occultism, it’s hard to find legitimate facts about the Salem witches without it being distorted in some sort of way. From what I've read and learned it’s a highly romanticized portion of history and you have to sift through a lot of BS to get real facts, which is why I decide to just make up a character and tell a story that is completely fictional. Almost everyone knows the history, so why not tell of the aftermath of a real witch. It’s a far more interesting story than ‘you're guilty, burn alive’.

In addition to those we discussed, are there other new ideas you have in mind for future recordings?
Being in the recording process, we are really focused on the task at hand. There are still songs that need to be fully written in order for me to come up with a story. With Skin Drone, we are leaning more towards the story that inspired Silence Of The Lambs, with the man who took way to much psychedelic drugs, ripped his face off and fed it to his dogs. There is also an idea floating around of telling the story of a fictional notorious serial killer who is female. I will probably do more writing with occult roots, like hauntings, demons, the battle of good versus evil (non-biblical) and possibly aliens, who knows. Half the time I have no idea what a song is going to be about until it is halfway finished musically. In Critical Dismemberment, we have the 8-bit album talking about the Nintendo and Sega characters from earlier, and the full length will more than likely be a personal record for both Chase and I. I would like to take some of the apocalyptic themes we have touched on in earlier songs and expand on them, but it’s the same situation as Skin Drone. Until I hear the music, I don't know what to say.

Critical Dismemberment

-Dave Wolff