Monday, July 30, 2018

Video Review: THE CROWN In The Name Of Death by Dave Wolff

In The Name Of Death
Official video from the album Cobra Speed Venom, released on Metal Blade Records March 16, 2018
Directed and produced by Kalle Johansson and Patrik Skoglow
Place of origin: Trollhättan, Sweden
Genre: Melodic death/thrash, death n roll
Release date: July 30, 2018
I’m listening to In The Name Of Death for the first time and immensely contented to hear The Crown are as lively and vigorous as they were on past full lengths The Burning (1995), Deathrace King (2000) and Possessed 13 (2003). The band formed in 1990, disbanded in 2004 and reformed in 2009. Cobra Speed Venom sees them broadening their range (joined by Alexander Bringsoniou on violin and cello and Kenan Avdic on synthesizer) while retaining the raw, bellicose sound they’re notorious for, This is the first promotional video promoting the band's new CD. The point is they’re not out to revolutionize underground music, but to scourge and shred anyone in their path. How convincingly do they pull it off? It depends on whether death n roll falls within your tastes. If it does, this song will accelerate your adrenaline to near impossible levels. The clip begins and ends with the atmosphere of a grindhouse horror movie, somewhat identical to Lucio Fulci’s 1979 video nasty Zombie, which continues to attract new fans. These sequences present a graveyard in an undisclosed location in which a hand digs from the earth, complete with a creepy keyboard soundtrack. Between them is a performance sequence featuring the band in a nameless venue as the track is dubbed over it. The live scene is professionally shot, black lit and purposefully edited with a grindhouse ambience as a small, rabid gathering responds to the energy they project from the stage. The band members appear comfortable with their instruments and with working together. Their concentration is on the song they’re playing and their fans, and there are no gratuitous close-ups. It’s a take on what it would be like if they appeared in a grindhouse movie. The cut back to the graveyard is short and sweet, implying the start of the zombie apocalypse. Check the video out and if you’re so inclined order the new album through Metal Blade. Updates can also be read at The Crown’s new official website. -Dave Wolff

Johan Lindstrand: Vocals
Marko Tervonen: Guitar
Robin Sörqvist: Lead guitar, backing vocals
Magnus Olsfelt: Bass
Henrik Axelsson: Drums

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Full Length Review: MORTUOUS Through Wilderness (Tankcrimes, Carbonized, Dawnbreed, Extremely Rotten) by Dave Wolff

Through Wilderness
Tankcrimes Records (North America - CD, limited LP, cassette, and digital format)
Carbonized Records (North America - CD, limited LP, cassette, and digital format)
Dawnbreed Records (Europe - LP and CD format)
Extremely Rotten Records (Europe - cassette format)
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Greg Wilkinson, Earhammer Studios, Oakland, California, USA\
Cover art by Marald Van Haasteren
Place of origin: San Jose, California, USA
Genre: Death metal
Release date: June 22, 2018
Having launched their quest for world domination in 2009, Mortuous are latecomers to brutal music. But its members have experience on their side, having worked in noted bands such as Exhumed, Repulsion and Necrot before forming this one. Pooling their experience was apparently the right decision for them. Their recently released album Through Wilderness has persuaded writers for established magazines like Revolver, Decibel, No Clean Singing, No Echo and Last Rites to join their cause and rave about them in print. Revolver for example had this to say: “Forget the morgue truck, the only thing needed to clean up the bodies after Through Wilderness is a dustbuster. Mortuous released a handful of demos before working on Through Wilderness and they have a grasp on what resonated with DM fans as early as 1988-89, when it was dark, dirty and aesthetically repulsive like most of the grindcore and proto-DM that lit a match to what’s now a worldwide bonfire. The spark that pushed the early bands to conquer the globe has been flawlessly preserved and cultivated on this album, with the same life and animation it had then. The similarities to Autopsy and Paradise Lost are the most obvious similarities, though from personal perspective I’d cite Napalm Death, Incantation and Necrophagia. Through Wilderness even begins with a similar tone to Necrophagia’s Season Of The Dead, with a tranquil acoustic guitar piece leading to something malevolent lurking around the corner. The time changes, percussion and lead guitars of the band members and guest musicians give the cuts intricacy and atmosphere as they fustigate your skull wreaking havoc with the grey mater inside. I altogether understand what Revolver magazine meant when describing Mortuous’ assault on all in its path, in which little is left for cleaning. Besides driving the guitars from behind, drummer Chad Gailey holds the material together no matter how many fills he adds to a verse. The vocals also show immense discipline as Mike Beams channels strength and power, projecting from deep inside his midsection. I imagine the band and the people they guested on this album must be in their forties by now. That they can sustain the level of intensity they do on Through Wilderness makes it a recommended listen. The band will tour the west coast in August; visit Earsplit PR for information as well as tour information for Corrosion Of Conformity, Neurot, Eyehategod and others. -Dave Wolff

Mike Beams: vocals, guitar
Colin Tarvin: guitar
Clint Roach: bass
Chad Gailey: drums

Guest appearances
Chris Reifert (Autopsy): Guest vocals on “The Dead Yet Dream” and “Anguish and Insanity”
Danny Coralles (Autopsy): Solo on “The Dead Yet Dream”
Derrel Houdashelt (ex- Exhumed): Solo on “Through Wilderness”
Teresa Wallace (Dreaming Dead): Flute on “Screaming Headless”

Track list:
1. Beyond Flesh
2. Bitterness
3. Crysalis Of Sorrow
4. The Dead Yet Dream
5. Anguish And Insanity
6. Through Wilderness
7. Prisoner Unto Past
8. Screaming Headless

Tribute to Drake Brewer (1996-2015) by Rich Orth

Tribute to Drake Brewer (July 26, 1996-August 7, 2015) by Rich Orth

Dearest Drake...I am a poet at a loss for words. We should be celebrating your 22nd BDAY. instead we will be commemorating the 3rd anniversary of your passing. I was so honored that you considered me your favorite poet. When you battled with I teacher to use my work as a Senior High project..I was humbled..that you got an A made me proud as hell! You had so much ambition and talent...I wish I had more of your writing to share.
Requiesce in pace my dear friend....See you on the other side Drake Brewer...Rich

Vicious Cycle!
by Drake Brewer

A silent whisper
Bound by the transverse opinion
Told like a chain letter
It's a vow unplanned to keep
The solitude we all once had is drained
Stolen by the mosquito of endless endeavors
But is there hope?
Will there ever be?
Like children of victimized by a plague
We cant find shelter
For in the back of our minds our fear grips us
Pulling atthe livelihood that once was whole
Beg for a relief
Plead for a better taste
The lust is gone and blood is all thats left
So kiss the assailant
And love the murderer
Then maybe things wont be so brutal
Maybe the end will be peaceful
But only some may know of the tails of the silent whisper
Only some may hold onto the chain letter
Ending the vicious cycle

Don't Have Time!
by Drake Brewer and Rich Orth

My depression runs deep
Feeding on years of hatred
Hating myself, detesting the world
Taking me as a joke tis a fool's choice
Invisible are scars littering my heart
How it still beats one wonders
How I still breathe... why I keep going
There's no justifying my actions
My story as told by me
Would make you falter ...
Your life's views, your perspective of me
would change
Call me an angel...say what you wildl
Angels though here for a reason
And I don't have time for that

Mend My Heart!
by Drake Brewer and Rich Orth

How can i say... that i want you to stay?
How can i implore you to never leave?
You were my best friend, but so much more
now idk as i stand outside your door.
Is this a dream or merely a sick joke?
God damn your reality...
I'm crying for help, pleading my heart be mended
help me fly, put a halo above my head
Just show me a sign,
I realize tomorrows are never promised...
so i live day to day
...once i had you.. now you simply walk and turn away
So give me a sign,
I'll follow this line, in hopes that ill wake from this nightmare

Darkness Brewing!
by Rich Orth
dedicated to Drake Brewer
would have been 22 7/26/2018
gone 3 yrs on 8/7/2018

What lies around the bend
What lies shall we defend
For in truth..
one merely portends...
Tis this Death..Finality?
Is there more..more ..more?
In this silence
where fields of bodies lie
Is horror truth?
What sanctifies??
Tis it visceral ?...
Tis, there sensibility?
As Earthly abomination
swallows personality
Regurgitating stupidity
to the masses
Fool's gold is serendipity
to the classless
What lies around the bend
What lies shall we defend
For in truth...
Many merely pretend
Evoking laughter and lies..
into abysmal nights
into submissive flight

Friday, July 27, 2018

EP Review: FILTHY TWOLIPS Puddletown U.S.A. EP (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Place of origin: Long Island, New York, USA
Genre: Punk
Recorded at The Oyster Ditch, Long Beach/Point Lookout, New York, USA
Recorded and mixed by Bootleg Gandhi
Guitar solos recorded in Houston, Texas, USA
Vocals on live demos recorded by McKlusky
Mastered by artificial intelligence at
Available at Itunes, Spotify, Amazon, Bandcamp, digital and limited edition CD formats
Release date: July 13, 2018
I was pleasantly surprised to learn punk was making a comeback on Long Island, and relieved to learn the comeback was something fleeting. So far it’s still underway, and as more LI bands surface and more bands travel from the city to the island to play, more clubs will hopefully become interested in booking more shows. Of course I am referring to punk that is bloody, sweaty and underground, as opposed to the screamo and pop punk we’ve heard on radio for a long time. I remember reviewing Filthy Twolips’ full length Complete Discography, a reissue of their debut EP and debut full length with bonus tracks, in 2016. Listening to it I heard they have more in common with bands that played the Sundance and Right Track Inn many years ago (you may have seen them when they joined Lynch Pigs and Murder Junkies in Bayshore in 2015. On their sixth and latest release, Puddletown U.S.A. EP they seem to have gotten even more bloody, sweaty and underground. It follows a cover of Misfits’ Some Kinda Hate released as a single this past February. The cover sounds closer to the original than it would have if recorded by a pop punk band. The guitars and bass have the attitude of the version the Misfits recorded for Static Age in ‘78, and the vocals capture the mood Glenn Danzig created. These releases are breaths of fresh air that came at the right time. Puddletown U.S.A. EP has that Long Island punk sound I remember from the old days, with some early California hardcore, NYHC and English Oi added. It’s extremely well rounded, and extremely brief with songs ranging from one to two minutes, so if you’re in a hurry you won’t spend a lot of time listening. The demo cuts are rawer than those recorded in the studio (even the acoustic version of The Children of Long Beach Don't Need Pornography/This XXX Movie is Not Pornography) and present a feeling of being there with the band while they practice. Do yourself a favor and support this band. -Dave Wolff

Bootleg Gandhi: Guitar, vocals
Wetsaw Bandit: Bass, vocals
Fil Coolins: Drums, vocals
Houston Chicago Erik From Northern New York: All guitar solos

Track list (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, digital format)
1. Beer Break (featuring Houston Chicago Erik from Northern New York)
2. Just the Goo
3. Midnight Sack
4. The Children of Long Beach Don't Need Pornography/This XXX Movie is Not Pornography

Track list (Bandcamp, CD format)
1. Beer Break (featuring Houston Chicago Erik from Northern New York)
2. Just the Goo
3. Midnight Sack
4. The Children of Long Beach Don't Need Pornography/This XXX Movie is Not Pornography
5. Beer Break (live demo featuring McKlusky)
6. Just the Goo (live demo featuring McKlusky)
7. Midnight Sack (live demo featuring McKlusky)
8. The Children of Long Beach Don't Need Pornography/This XXX Movie is Not Pornography (acoustic demo)

Interview with Dahl of FADING BLISS by Daniel M Ryan

Interview with Dahl of FADING BLISS

When did you start your band(s) / project(s) and how long have you been making music for?
We started Fading Bliss in 2009. Most of us have been active in other local bands before starting Fading Bliss, but we all are now fully focused on this one band.

If you had to describe the sound(s) to my readers what would you tell them to expect?
The first idea behind Fading Bliss was somehow to pay tribute to the godfathers of gothic / doom, so to bands like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Anathema, Tiamat, Theatre Of Tragedy and alikes. This old school basis is just perfect for us, as it mixes elements from the doom and death metal scene in a melancholic way. On this basis, we added female vocals, violin (on the first album), cello (on the second one) as well as some more progressive and / or funeral doom elements.

Is your music available on any merch format such as tape/cd/vinyl or digital medium? Where can listeners find it?
We self-released our first EP in 2011, on CD, in a nice digifile packaging. It’s nearly sold out, but if I’m right, some mailorders (Malpermesita, GS Productions…) should still have some copies.
From Illusion To Despair was released on Mighty Music, Denmark, in 2013. Again it was released in a very nice digipack. This album is still available too, from the band or through online mailorders. Some time ago, it was available on too…
Finally, our new album, Journeys In Solitude, has been released on May 5th, 2018. The first limited edition is a hand numbered digipack (first 50 copies come with a free patch). The regular cristal box CD should be released later this year, and hopefully a vinyl version should possibly be released during the first half of 2019.
Of course all these releases are available on most digital media.

If you had a choice of working with other artists who would they be and why? Any collabs at all in the past or lately?
The doom scene is a very friendly one, so it’s always nice to work with other people. On our first album, Paul Kuhr (Novembers Doom) took part to the last song, “A Walk Through Despair” and contributed with some theatrical vocals. Last year, William Nijhof (Faal) also joined us on stage for a very funeral version of “Chant de Ruines”. There are so many friends we’d like to involve in some way !

How has the reaction been so far to your music?
The reaction has mostly been positive so far… You know, if you enjoyed the metal of the 90’s, you could maybe like our music. The roots are still there, even if the influence range is wider and the production is more powerful.

What would you like done this year in your life may it be musical or personal.
Wow… That’s a really open question. It’s hard to give you only one answer, as we are 7 people in the band, with different lives and different aims. To my concern, of course I’d like to achieve many things on a familial and professional level, but I’m not sure that it would be of huge interest for your readers. On a musical point of view, I’d really like to go on with Fading Bliss, to keep on making music. As I’m a fan of split releases, I’d really like to release such a thing with Fading Bliss soon. But before that, hopefully the next album will be finished and we’ll have another opportunity to chat about it.

If there are bands that influenced over the years to make you want to become a musician in the first place, who are they?
Again, I can’t give you the names of the artists who influenced my 6 fellows. But I can easily give you the names of my fave vocalists : Tomi Koivusaari (Amorphis), Johan Endlund (Tiamat), Matti Tilaeus (Skepticism)…

If you had to describe the recording process of your music, how does it work best for you and what do you use?
We are old school guys, so we work like an old school band. Everything starts in the rehearsal room, most often with Olivier bringing riffs and new ideas on which the whole band can work. As soon as a song takes shape, we record a demo version of it in our home studio. This recording is of course basic, but it really helps us vocalists to work on the lyrics at home. When we have enough complete songs, we select those which will be professionally recorded. Up to now, we have recorded our 3 records at the Noise Factory Studio with Gérald Jans. It’s a very nice place, and Gérald is just the perfect sound engineer for us.

How long do you expect to make music for and what are your goals till the end of this year onto the next?
As I told you earlier, I really hope that the Fading Bliss adventure will go on and on. Before the end of 2018, we’d like to re-release the first EP as it is mostly sold out, probably release the second edition of the new album, and hopefully have the basis of the next album.

How important is your work to you and what do you want others to get out of it?
For me, music is just a matter of vibes and emotions. So it can’t work with everybody. I know it may sound a bit cliché, but we’ve put a lot of us in these songs, and we’ve tried to really make a music we could stand behind. So if you can feel the melancholy, or if you’re just nostalgic of the 90’s doom / death scene, give it a try.

How has gigging and touring have been on your band on the road? How is the fan reaction so far?
Fading Bliss is still a very small band coming from a very small country, and we don’t play that often, so I’m not sure we have fans. But we have played a few shows in Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Romania, Bulgaria, etc, and we got some very good responses from the audience. Hopefully we should play more next year.

Any last words for the readers of Autoeroticasphyxium zine ?
First of all, I’d like to thank you for this interview. Be sure that your support and interest is greatly appreciated. To your readers, I’d like to say : keep on supporting the metal scene in all possible ways. Keep on attending shows, keep on buying shirts, CDs, vinyls. Keep on following the bands you like on the social networks. You are the scene. Doooooom on!

-Daniel M Ryan

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Single Review: JAIME REGADAS Scarlet (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Place of origin: Liverpool, England, UK
Genre: Indie, alternative rock
Release date: July 23, 2018
Scarlet is the first single released by Jaime Regadas since Facing The Illusory Light was streamed on Youtube this past January. Again it’s an independent single without backing from a label or a PR team, relying on internet word of mouth. As I cover his work on a regular basis, I notice each of his releases have a different sound and prevailing mood. The prevailing mood of Scarlet relies on piano and vocals, with drums and keyboards briefly added. From my perspective it leans a closer to the somber compositions of Nine Inch Nails and Sisters Of Mercy, for the retreat and reclusion personified by the instruments and vocals. Going by the lyrics however, this piece is clearly not an exercise in mishap or self-pity. If you’re familiar with NIN and the Sisters you’re familiar with the enchantment and dark romance often associated with their songs (Type O Negative also merits acknowledgement in this department). Besides this there is commercial potential here, only not of the dumbed down, formulaic, radio friendly kind. Scarlet exhibits commercial potential without trying to or compromising the genuine feeling that would convince the listener to relate to long after a single is off the charts. And continuing to relate to the song would not in any way be for nostalgia. This owes as much to lyrics without repetition or bravado, instead conveying the desire to leave past mistakes and start over. The song is a process of rebirth, leaving it open for the listener to decide what happens after the leap of faith at the end. The journey gothic music personifies is mirrored by lines like “I need to be alone tonight/Cast the flame unto your heart/And I'm afraid I'll break it/Many I've broke before/yet this one knows that I can't take it.” This is a small sample of the lyrics’ poeticism that grows with each line. Following each line written is a profound experience, and every song Regadas writes and composes comes closer to art. This journey is much like the one in Scarlet. -Dave Wolff

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Article: 'WitchsFest 2018 Makes Magick in Manhattan' by Tony Sokol

WitchsFest 2018 Makes Magick in Manhattan
Article by Tony Sokol

A little bit of wind and the threat of rain didn't stop the cauldrons from boiling in New York City at the 7th Annual WitchsFest USA - A Pagan Street Faire. This year's summer event went on for two days in two locations. On Saturday, July 14th they filled Astor Place between Broadway and Lafayette Street with magic, music and dance. Mephistopheles may be a mouthful in Manhattan, according to Robert De Niro in Angel Heart, but on Sunday July 15th, the magicians cooked up Hell's Kitchen on West 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.
Tony Sokol with Lilith Dorsey and Louisa Knapp
"As a native New Yorker, the fact that WitchsFest takes place in Manhattan makes it all the more magickal," Lilith Dorsey told Autoeroticasphyxium zine. "The city has a unique power and majesty that you can see manifested in the people that make up this event, its amazing organizer Starr Ravenhawk, her wonderful staff comprised of people like Luna Rojas who always knows what to say and how to say it, and some of the best presenters, authors, and performers from around the world," Dorsey says.
Rev. Starr RavenHawk has been organizing and serving the New York City Pagan Community since 1995. She founded the NYC Wiccan Family Temple, and WFT Academy Of Pagan Studies and Dragan Academy in 2007. The intuitive witch, tarot advisor, candle therapist and spell crafter founded WitchsFest USA In 2012.
With Starr Ann Ravenhawk
"It's all about community," says the “Witch Queen of New York” Lady Rhea, who owns Magickal Realms in the Bronx, "bringing a sacred space with classes and entertainment for our people. Vendors get to promote their business and meet and greet. Different organizations get to share their information."
Rhea, who opened the legendary lower east side occult shop Enchantments with owner Lady Miw (aka Carol Bulzone) in 1982, after putting in time at Herman Slater’s Magickal Childe, has been "personally hosting the New York Pagan scene since the 1970s and have always been exhilarated in sharing my love for the craft." The Wiccan High Priestess is the author of the 2004 book The Enchanted Candle and The Enchanted Formulary: Blending Magickal Oils for Love, Prosperity, and Healing, which came out in September 2006.
Lady Rhea and Starr Ann Ravenhawk
"Every year is different, just like the magick of snowflakes no two the same," Lady Rhea says. "I did feel there were less people out of fear, because of the recent rash of open violence in large crowds throughout the country. It's just a theory of mine, no proof and no one declined to come due to that reason to my knowledge."
This year's event wasn't as marred by the protestations of a faithful few as last year's event. A mere handful showed up and, while they tried to infiltrate the vendors and speakers, occasionally taking credit for the wind, they quickly dissolved after snorting a few sprinkles of goofer dust, available surprisingly cheap at one of the stands.
"They do not bother me at all," Rhea says. "I simply do not care. They do not pay my bills nor will they embrace my faith and vice versa. They did draw people, though, so they were in a sense great advertisement."
WitchsFest embraces all faiths, mainstream and what is considered alternative, because alternate routes avoid dead ends. "The community was served by allowing us to come together at Witchsfest USA and show each other and the world that we are just as glorious and magickal during the day as we are at night," Dorsey told us. "By that I mean many of the traditions represented such as witchcraft, New Orleans voodoo, Haitian Vodou, and others were practices that were traditionally kept in secret or darkness, and while in many instances that was done for safety and security purposes, we are now able to show our ways in a glorious arena in public, quite literally in the street, with highly informative workshops, dazzling performances, and moving rituals."
Upon entering the charmed block, Dorsey, who I quoted in an article on the dark magic of Prince's Black Album, presented me with a devotional card. "Saint Prince," Lilith said. "It's still so hard for many of us to come to terms with the passing of Prince. He was an icon and an iconoclast, an inspiration and a true genius. In many spiritual traditions when someone great leaves this plane, their spirit lives on. This is certainly the case with Prince. When I heard of his passing, I immediately began to create an altar for him, with his pictures, his symbol, candles, and an over-abundance of purple glitter. I honor him and his powerful messages of love and acceptance that still inspire me today."
Dorsey is an expert practitioner of Haitian Vodou, New Orleans Voodoo, and Santeria, and a respected voice for Afro-Diasporan Pagan religions. She wrote the books Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism, Love Magic: Over 250 Spells and Potions for Getting it, Keeping it, and Making it Last and The African-American Ritual Cookbook. Dorsey directed the experimental documentary film Bodies of Water: Voodoo Identity and Tranceformation.
Tony Sokol and Rebeca Spirit
"I met Lilith Dorsey at HexFest 2015, she took me under her wing and has been guiding and teaching me since," says Rebeca Spirit, boss at Rebecca's Spirit. "Lilith teaches me how to work with Voodoo and to approach certain deity. Lilith is a great teacher who shares so much of her knowledge. She also encourages me to stretch past my ideas and try new things." Spirit, whose specialty is tarot and mediumship, is "in the process of learning about astrology and all the ways we are affected by the stars."
"We are so fortunate to have a huge community of witches, pagans, psychics, and spiritualists," says Spirit. "Being able to meet up for an amazing weekend of fun and community is such a blessing. It's easy to get wrapped up in the crazy of the world, so much going on causing such distress, and having the ability to 'check in' with our peers and friends is priceless. I personally am so grateful for the chance to spend just a small bit of time with such wonderfully magical beings."
"It felt like I was spending the weekend at the family’s vacation home," adds europa-C, an eclectic solitary witch, who is a first degree student at the WFT Academy Of Pagan Studies and Dragan Academy. "Cousins and aunts in the scorching hot sun preparing for a big feast. The Sun represents willpower, activity, and energy to us, and boy did I see a bunch of hard working old ladies. We call them the Chrone aka the wise. What a bunch of Wicked (cool) witches."
"This weekend's WitchsFest was amazing, and not just because of the food, music, weather or great products," says Rebecca Spirit. "But because of the community, and the people that were there."
Margot Day
"One of the many reason I return to WitchsFest every year is I always feel like I am returning home for a family picnic," agrees E. Massey, the High Priest of The Moonlit Grove, a local community of Witches and Pagans in Pennsylvania. "Growing up within the NYC community, in my 'little Witch' days, I knew many of the familiar faces seen throughout WitchsFest. What I love most about the NYC community is the unique and diverse dynamics of it. You meet people that are very traditional and others who walk their own path. Yet they are all there for the same reason, to experience the magick of community."
Nominated for the 2018 Witch Way Magazine Awards “Favorite Witch Teacher," surrealist artist E. Massey is the author of the book A Modern Witch's Curriculum, as well as Casting Creative Magickal Circles. "I have been a patron of WitchsFest USA since its start. However this was the first year I joined some of the most amazing speakers and teachers in the magickal community, not as patron but as a presenter. The decision to be a part of WitchsFest was due the release of my second book. Already having experienced its presence within the community, I knew it would the perfect event for me."
Massey, who is part of the Pennsylvania investigative group Paranormal Spirit Finders, has been a practicing Witch for over 20 years. Trained and initiated into the Gardnerian tradition when he was 13, and initiated in Santeria as a separate spiritual path, he is a medicine man who merges family's indigenous spiritualist with traditional Witchcraft. The performers merge music with magic. "I am a magical healer, as was my mom and my grandma before me," says Margot Day of Metamorph, which brings mysticism and mind-altering visuals to their tracks. "Channeling the music and singing in tongues, then organizing the chaos and capturing the essence, molding and melding with Kurtis Knight and offering our Metamorph music – an alchemy of sound to inspire and transform. We invite the listener to follow their hopes and dreams."
This is the first time Day has performed at the annual block party, but it's not her first time on the block. “I played in street festivals in the East Village with my band The Plague in the 1980s," says Day. "So with WitchsFest felt like I had come home to New York – home to so much wild gorgeous fabulous witchyness."

Article: 'Feathers and Knives' by Jillanna Babb

Feathers and Knives
Article by Jillanna Babb

I want to tell you about something that is helping me. Maybe someone needs this idea. If you have ever had self-destructive thoughts, whether you would ever act on those or not, please read.
I teach in dance the concept of replacing a habit with a new, intentional action. For example, if you have what we call a "concentration face" that comes over your visage during times of uncertainty, try to replace it with a smile or a wink or something else of your choosing. Eventually you will not have to think about this replacement of facial expression. Not only do you become more aware, but you escape self-conscious roadblocks by creating a chosen new habit. The expression of confusion can make you feel more lost, and also your audience feels and may feed this.
I have also applied and taught this concept for practice discipline and in getting rid of bad habits in daily life. For example: instead of lighting up a cigarette, practice your shimmy!
Most recently in my life, hard times have caused some self-destructive habits of the mind to increase. One of my regular attacks on myself is a visual imagining of cutting myself with a knife. I am not going to do this to my body, but my mind throws the image at me in times of distress. It is a disturbing flash of the mind that in the past has led to actual self-harm, and then just became an intermittent annoyance as I refused to act on it.
I have also learned through dance studies that visualization can trick the body and mind into thinking that what you visualize is real. Parts of the brain that react when you are actually doing what you imagine become activated the same as if it was really happening. This may be especially true of movement and visceral types of actions. It may be more true of dancers and other physically-focused people, but I think it exists in everyone to some degree.
I decided to try to help myself using this concept. I decided to replace the knife with a feather. Instead of cutting, I imagine sliding a feather across my skin. It is working. It feels better. It is subverting that negative self-attack, slowly but effectively. I do this all in my mind, because the impulse happens anywhere, and I do not even know the trigger every time.
Our bodies are innocent. Be kind to your animal. Take care. It will thank you. I did not even realize how much I was hurting myself until I began using a feather instead of a knife. I am grateful every time, and relieved. There is no escalation. There is only merciful recognition and calm introspection.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Interview with Gog of SUMMONER’S CIRCLE by Dave Wolff

Interview with Gog of SUMMONER’S CIRCLE

Your debut full length Tome was released June 1. What does it offer extreme music and how has fan response been?
Well, first off, the fan response has been phenomenal. Our existing fans, or as we call them Acolytes, have given us lots of positive feedback and are really enjoying the incantations that are new to them that they may not have heard us play live. Additionally, we are getting new Acolytes daily that are just now hearing about us thanks to the buzz from the album. The buzz has been beyond our expectations, with the album appealing to the metal masses as well as other musicians and critics.
As for what Tome offers extreme music … I think it offers the fans a chance to immerse themselves in the world created by our music and mythos and hopefully escape the harshness or blandness of reality for a bit. Our soundscapes are diverse and epic in scale and offer the listener the opportunity to discover new things upon repeat listens. So, if someone just wants something to band their head to, they can do that, but if they want more, there is plenty to discover.
Additionally, the mix of doom, death, black and prog metal we have puts us in a space where our sound seems to be fairly unique. You can piece together numerous influences while listening, but I feel like we have our own distinct sound.

Is the band formed of musicians who have worked in other band situations beforehand? What elements does each member bring to your style of “epic metal”?
Yes, all of us have played in other bands before and each of us brings myriad influences into the band musically. Absalon (guitar) has deep roots in doom and blues. Blind (throat and screams) is heavily influenced by Scandinavian melodic death like Scar Symmetry and Dark Tranquility. Y’takt (bass) is influenced by Rage Against the Machine, Marilyn Manson, etc. BG Scios (drums) brings in some of the more extreme metal influences mixed with a dose of Bill Ward. Hex (new synth and keys player) has very eclectic tastes and roots in prog, as did Sol, our previous keyboardist who played on Tome. As for myself, I think I bring a background of some classic metal and NWOBHM into the band, as well as heavy doses of Iommi, Candlemass and Alice Cooper.
So, with every band member a contributing writer, the sound that comes out in the end is definitely an amalgamation. In the end, it just sounds like Summoner’s Circle.

How did the band concoct the title “epic metal” and how well does it describe your sound as intended for your supporters?
I don’t remember which one of us first jokingly made the comparison of our songs to literary epics due to their length and subject matter. I do remember saying that it was a good fit, even considering today’s slang use of epic something that is huge, awesome or over the top. Big sound, long poetic stories and over the top stage show … it just seemed to fit the bill. I doubt that it’s an original moniker for metal genre because it seems that there are sub-genres on top of sub-genres now, but we feel it fits us well, especially seeing as it’s hard to place us in any single death/doom/black category.

How much of a process is it to fuse all the radically different influences you cited together?
It’s not very difficult at all. To be quite honest we don’t even think about it when we are writing. It’s just something that falls together organically as we progress.

So you would say it’s better for band members to do what comes naturally while working together rather than try to force something out just so they can talk about versatile they are?
I would say that’s what works best for us, and that’s what makes sense to me. Other bands may have different formulas they use when writing and arranging. In the end, if what comes out is good, then I suppose the method to get there isn’t so important. I think if the end product feels honest and captures the ear and emotions of the listeners, it all good.

Name some bands you know of that are unique without trying to be these days?
Oh man, that’s a tough question. I think Opeth is an example of a band that has continued to evolve their sound and grow over the years in such a way that their music remains unique, but the progression of the band feels very natural. It still feels like Opeth no matter what they write - no matter how different the style is. I think it’s this kind of approach that helps bands develop their own signature sound or style. If you’re too busy trying to sound like something or some band in-particular, then it might come off as derivative in the end.

There are some fans of extreme metal who think it’s all been done and there is little to no unique music coming out now. Do you think musicians and bands can still find a signature sound that differs from the others?
Of course. There are plenty of bands out there that may strive to follow a tried and true formula with their sound. For instance, we live in the Southeast US where bands like Pantera are royalty. There’s still a huge audience for that sound and there are lots of bands in the area write their original music in that style, intentionally or unintentionally. Proven success formula, big influence and lots of fans for that style – it all makes sense why that happens. Subsequently, it makes sense why folks may find lots of extreme music derivative.
It would seem to me that as a fan of music, if one found all the new music in their preferred genre to be derivative or repetitive, then it might be time to try listening to other styles of music for a while to expand their musical view, or, work a bit harder to uncover some of the hidden gems still at a local/unsigned level. There are lots of bands out there with very distinct and original sounds. You might have to work a little harder to find them, but they are out there.

What do you think of the addition of string instruments, traditional music (from each band’s home country), female vocals and folk influence in metal? Are some bands more proficient in that than others in your view?
We all love it, and there are too many bands to count that all do it well. We’ve talked about having actual strings on our next release (not synth strings), as well as a guest female vocalist for a few parts. We’ll see how the writing goes, but it’s something we’d like to incorporate in places for special/specific parts, etc.

What would you say to those who still consider extreme metal noise after how much it has progressed and grown?
It’s all good. Some folks are just never going to get it. Everyone has their opinions and if metal doesn’t float their boat then I hope they have music in their lives that they love and that elicits the kinds of emotions I feel when I listen to music. Music is a magical thing.

Why did Summoner’s Circle decide to name their fans Acolytes? What does the band offer them that differs from other bands, and how receptive have your listeners been?
By definition, an acolyte is a person assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession. It can also mean a follower, or assistant. With every event we play being a Summoning and blood ritual it makes sense that out fans join us in the ceremony and partake of the experience. Any acolyte that offers themselves as sacrifice or partakes in our marking ceremony during our song Become None, will then become a None – a being at one with the Void, tied to and held back by nothing. Our music video for Become None depicts a blood sacrifice and the becoming of a new None.
Acolyte or None, our Legions are growing, and our listeners are presented with the opportunity to join us in the world we create and become part of our mythos.

A promotional video for Tome, Become None, came out last November. Did making it available for viewing generate a sufficient buzz?
Absolutely. We felt it was important to get something out there to introduce us to the public before rolling out the entire album. Since we are a theatrical act, we wanted to put a video together that musically and visually captured the essence of who we are and what fans might expect when they see us live. We feel the video does a great job of that.
We are now putting together ideas for our next video, which we hope to shoot in the fall. One of the challenges of being a theatrical act is you always have to strive to one up yourself. So, we’re busy trying to come up with a story and concept that will do that.

Describe the concept and theatrics of the Become None video. Was it produced independently of did you work with outside parties?
The initial concept for the video was the brainchild of Blind. As for how it was put together, Blind and I created the storyboard and shot list, determining what shots were going to be over different sections of music. The sound engineer/producer of our album, Yanic Bercier from WaveTransform Studios, hooked us up with a filmmaker from Norway, Thomas Mortveit, that his band, Gone in April, was working with. Thomas came to states and we shot the video over a two-day span. Thomas is extremely creative and gave us lots of great ideas on how he could take the shots we outlined and make them even better. The end product turned out better than we could have imagined. We owe a great deal of thanks to both Yanic and Thomas for working with us and believing in the vision we have musically and theatrically. We are hoping we will get to work with Thomas again on the next video.

Is there a storyline in the Become None video? In what ways does it reflect the song’s lyrics?
Yes, there’s a definite storyline. A young girl visits her recently departed father’s estate, says her own special goodbyes and then begins to go through his things. It’s obvious that the girl and her father were not close. As she begins to box up his things she uncovers some hidden truths about her father when she digs up an old book and ritual dagger. Happenstance (or perhaps Fate) would have it that she accidentally cuts herself on the dagger and spills her blood onto the tome. From there, the Summoners and wretched ghouls are called forth from the darkness and proceed to scare/chase/herd the girl down into the basement where she in entranced by Blind and called forth into the circle to be sacrificed and reborn as a None. The song’s lyrics speak of learning the savage truth of light, giving up earthly doubt, emptying your soul and accepting the void and absence of anything that is a higher power designed to control or enslave you. Reborn with new dark knowledge, and with the assistance of The Six, what is next for the girl?

How many bands has Thomas worked with, and how did his experience help the band as you were working together?
Man, I don’t really know for sure. He has a lot of experience, and I know that while he was here in the States he worked with several other bands from our area in just a few weeks’ time. His ability to know what the shot is going to look like before he shoots it is uncanny and speaks to his experience level. We took lots of direction from him and he made numerous suggestions and tweaks to our proposed shot list that helped make the video into what it is. He is also very fun, laid back and has a sense of excitement and joy about what he is doing while he works. It was infectious and made a grueling shooting schedule much less stressful and much more enjoyable.

In what ways did Thomas’ approach to filming videos bring the band’s vision to the surface?
Well, he has exceptional editing and post production skills. His ability to select the right filter, or color saturation, or what have you, really makes the end product have polish and completes the story. The visuals match the tone of the music, not just in shot composition, but in how the scene finally looks - the mood. His cutting and editing choices follow suit - short shot vs long shot, etc. The dude is just good and we consider ourselves very lucky.

What ideas do you have in mind for your next planned promotional video? How will it stand out from your previous video?
It really depends on which song we decide to choose. We are thinking the next video will be for one of the harder-hitting tracks on the album like Worm Tunnel or Balrog General, both of which are crowd favorites. As for how it will stand out… well, it will definitely have its own unique story. That’s how we roll. I’m not sure we will ever have a music video that is solely performance.

Will you be hiring Thomas to work on the new video? If so, has he presented any ideas to you yet?
We certainly intend to, although we have not discussed any ideas with him.

Describe Tome to the readers, and how it expands on what is represented in your videos and onstage performances.
Tome is broken up into three books – The Book of Earth, The Book of the Void and The Book of Fire. The incantations that comprise each book have a feel about them that makes their placement into that book seem natural. The earthier sounding compositions are in The Book of Earth, etc.
We try to make each of our songs into a story with a matching soundscape that feeds and grows our Mythos. We are very conscious of the importance our lyrics and music play in the overall band image. The image feeds the music, the music feeds the image. It’s the whole serpent swallowing its own tail – a cyclical kind of thing.
From giant flesh eating worms, legions of wretched undead warriors summoned to do our bidding, and binding a minotaur to our will, to capturing the fire and fury of Balrog General to assist us in our quests, overthrowing the Overseer of a heinous construct and freeing his slaves and a tale about quest through the dark catacombs of a ruined temple … there is a great deal of fantasy and Lovecraftian cosmic-style horror in our work that we bring with us to the stage to live out the stories for our Acolytes. Finally, we bring the sacrifice depicted in our Become None video to the stage at every performance with a live human sacrifice and blood ritual. Always blood, always void, the light distorts truth and only in darkness is all revealed as it truly is.

Who in the band devised the concept of Tome and how long did it take to develop it?
Our previous keyboard player, Sol, came up with the idea of having separate books based on the music. I came up with the name Tome thinking about something that would hold multiple books or volumes therein. Being summoners, the idea of a magic tome of incantations with different chapters made sense. Everyone liked the idea so we rolled with it. To me, it just makes the final recording seem more like a finished product. As to how long it took… the concept itself didn’t take that long to develop. It was relatively quick as compared to the writing and recording process. The final artwork and packaging took about a month to finalize once we had all the photography in place.

How helpful was Sol’s input into the concept of the album? Was Sol okay with the band developing it after you parted company?
Sol contributed greatly to the album’s concept, writing and recording and they are still good friends with us. Because Sol recorded all the keyboard parts and did additional vocals on the album, its release provides all of us with a bit more closure to the situation than night have occurred otherwise had Sol left mid-project. We wish Sol a well journey, wherever it may lead.

Does the band have a new keyboard player at this point? How well has he adapted the songs you composed before he joined?
We welcomed Hex into the band officially a month or so ago. He was filling in on live shows for Sol for a month or two prior to that when the album was in the mixing phase. He’s a very talented musician, playing several instruments in addition to keys, and picked up all the material quickly. He’s now starting to add his own flare to some parts as he grows more comfortable with everything, but he’s doing so without changing the feel of the songs. Sol was helpful and showed Hex some of the trickier parts, so it’s been a smooth transition.

How many bands was Hex in before he joined Summoner’s Circle? In what ways does his ability to play more than one instrument help the band?
Hex was actively playing in like five or six other area bands when he started filling in with us, and still gigs with some of them as time allows - just local stuff and all kinds of different styles. He likes to stay busy. His ability to play different instruments certainly helps him when learning new material because he can just watch me play the guitar parts and pretty much learn the material that way. It also offers us some flexibility moving forward if we want to bring a third guitar part in live, or an acoustic, he’ll be able to handle stuff like that. As we continue writing new material, it will open up new options for us.

Does any of Hex’s other bands have anything out? Are those releases available for streaming?
A few of the other bands he’s played and recorded in are The Lucky Stripes (pop/rock), Jaystorm Project (funk/hiphop), Shaun Abbott (country).

How many chapters did Tome develop into once the band began working on the concept? How much of a process was it to interpret the concept through the writing process?
We finished up with the three chapters mentioned a little earlier – Book of Earth, Book of the Void and Book of Fire. Honestly, everything just fell into place very naturally for us in that regard and the compositions themselves fueled the naming of the books.
A couple of the longer songs like Temple of Suffering and Legion took longer for everyone to master, but that’s to be expected with more parts and variations, etc. The key is just being patient while you are showing the riffs or parts to the others while they are learning and creating their own parts to go with the riffs. I’m fortunate to be in a band with such talented and driven musicians who take their craft seriously. So, overall, I’d say it was an involved but fun process for me.

Where does Lovecraftian inspiration come into Tome? Which of Lovecraft’s published works remain relevant today?
Our first release, First Summoning, was very cosmic horror and Lovecraft inspired and the songs were, in my opinion, darker in tone. Tome is a bit more on the fantasy/blood magic side of the Summoner spectrum, but a track like Worm Tunnel still has a bit of the Lovecraft vibe to it. You can expect our next release to delve back into the dark world of cosmic horror a bit more. We are working on an overall theme for it already and it’s trending that way. It will be interesting to see where we’ll end up with it.
Much of Lovecraft’s work was fueled by his intense xenophobia. His fear of the unknown and unexplainable from other cultures, as well as their people, was represented by the unknown and unexplainable horrors he wrote about. Cultists and madmen from remote, primitive parts of the globe worshipping unknown gods and threatening established and civilized culture. An invasion of alien entities like the Mi-Go spreading their horror.… That kind of thing. I can definitely see a correlation to events going on in the world today, with fear of other cultures and religions growing ever more prevalent, and blind nationalism on the rise in many countries.
Fear of the unknown and unexplainable will always haunt us as a species, and that is why this kind of dark horror remains so powerful. A threat you cannot comprehend that brings chaos and madness to the world you know - it strikes against your primal survival instincts. For that reason alone, Lovecraft’s work will always remain relevant.

In what ways can your songs be considered reflections of the blind nationalism that has increased over the last few years?
Other than the aspect of writing about the horror of what lurks unknown in shadows, nothing. One of the many reasons Lovecraft’s writings remain relevant today is due to that, but we intend our music to be an escape for the listener. We hope it takes them away from the drudgery or worries of every day existence and lets them visit our realm of horror and fantasy to become part of our world for a while. We are purposefully apolitical and avoid writing about current earthly events because people are inundated with that via social media and the 24-hour news cycle.

Was First Summoning a demo or an EP, or what sort of a release was it? Are copies still available?
First Summoning was a four track EP we released in October of 2015 in concurrence with our very first show. We wanted to come out of the gate with music for the fans to purchase. It is still available for purchase through all the usual digital channels, and is also on Spotify, Bandcamp, etc. Additionally, we still sell physical copies at shows.

Was your debut performance meant to be a release party of sorts for First Summoning. How well was the show received?
Yes, it was. The show went about as good as a debut show can go. We had the venue filled and the crowd loved the music and stage show. It was an indication for us that people were hungry again for theatrics with their metal and that our concept was one that would work.

Describe the four songs you recorded for the EP and how they were written and composed. How many copies do you usually sell at each show?
The first piece, Ex Obscurum, is an intro with voice over telling of our beginnings. It sets the mood for what is to follow and provides the listener with some background about the lore of The Six.
Further Into Dis follows. It is a slow, doomy number, and is the first song we finished writing. Musically and lyrically this song is still a perfect introduction to what Summoner’s Circle is about. Classic doomy tri-tones give way to an up tempo 12-bar blues riff under the solo, plunging back into atonal wailing and doom -- The mixing of styles right out of the gate. One of my favorite things about this song is watching the live audience mosh to 12-bar blues… something I never thought I’d see in my life.
The Purifying Light Of Apophis is thematically one of my favorite songs. It is written from the perspective of an eternally old comet whose end mission is to crash into Earth and wipe it clean with cosmic fire. Apophis tells the story of loneliness, isolation and things it has witnessed as it has wandered the cosmos all building up to its great end. Musically a very atmospheric into gives way to a driving song that mirrors the wandering and ultimate great purpose of the comet.
The final song is Leviathan, Lord Of The Labyrinth. If we had a theme song, this would be it. It’s a crowd favorite, inspired by Lovecraft and the Hellraiser movies. It has a simple yet crushing main riff, crawling odd tempo parts, a huge hooky chorus and a very atmospheric clean section. It’s a big song, and the first real epic piece we wrote. In that way, it’s a very important song for us because it opened the door (or portal maybe) for the material that follows on Tome. It’s also my favorite song to play live.
The writing of these songs, like Tome, was very organic. Minus the intro piece, the songs were written in the order that appear on the EP, so you can see the evolution as we continued to expand our vision musically, becoming more ambitious with each piece we completed.
We certainly sell copies of it at every show and are on our third pressing of it.

If you’ve read The Hellbound Heart, the book Hellraiser was based on, how would you say it compares to the movies?
I have not read it, though it’s one I really ought to read. I’m currently binge reading The Expanse series, which is the book series (now up to seven books) that the TV show was made from. Great books if you dig sci-fi.

Do you see connections between Lovecraft’s writings and the Hellraiser movies? Where exactly do the two connect?
The most obvious connection, in my mind, is the shared theme that there is knowledge or there are things out there that if we were to truly get to understand, or experience them, will lead to madness or death. This stuff lies well outside of our realm of our existence and understanding and isn’t meant for our earthly fragile minds and bodies. Those whose pursuits push them too far pay the price.

On what streaming and purchase outlets does First Summoning get the most active response?
In general, we’ve always done very well with sales through Bandcamp. It’s a great site for folks who enjoy looking for new or more underground bands.

Who did the band approach for cover art and packaging for Tome? Being that it was your debut recording, what kind of an impression did you want to make?
We did all the art and photography ourselves with a booklet design/layout assist from my significant other. Blind is a talented photographer and I am a graphic designer, so we worked together on the concept and artwork. Since it is our debut full-length release we wanted to come out with a polished product that had the same epic vibe as the music. The weathered and bloodied book cover was a natural for the digi-pak cover and was inspired by the scene in the Become None video where the blood drips on the discovered magical tome. The booklet feel was inspired by our lore and the unknown realm of shadows the Summoners walk through. We wanted it to be something that fans would spend time with reading the lyrics, identifying with band members, and becoming part of our world while playing the music.

How long have you and Blind been doing graphic design and photography? Are you satisfied with the work you two did for the cover?
Many, many years for me as a professional graphic designer and art director. Same for Blind as a photographer. We are extremely happy with all the artwork and packaging for Tome. The cover, the booklet and the CD art itself all fit the aesthetic we are going for. That being said, there are many talented artists out there and we’d certainly be open to collaboration on future projects. For Tome, we chose to keep it all in house, so to speak.

Has Blind photographed for other bands before Summoner’s Circle? If so, which bands did he lend his talents to and for which albums?
He’s done photo work for a few area bands which were used for promotional shots, etc. He’s also done a good deal of fashion photography and event/concert photography. I know he did band photos for the local band Downslave, which they used on their last release.

Have you had bands approach you to design fliers or album covers? Or if it happened, would you take them up on it?
I’ve done event flyers and website design for bands and promoters in the past, but over the last few years I’ve mostly just focused on my own band’s efforts and I save the design work for the day gig. I don’t really market myself as a designer in the music community because I have an abundance of freelance work available to me through other channels that keeps me plenty busy. My first love and is my music. My design work is a means to and end and allows me to pursue my musical career.

What is some of the freelance work you have lined up at present?
Just some user experience and interface design for a couple of companies. Nothing music related.

Back to The Expanse, is that series speaking to you enough to make you consider basing a concept on it for the band?
It’s probably a little too straight sci-fi for a direct concept for an album, but there are themes that persist and unanswered questions in the series (without giving too much away for those reading the books or watching the show) that could certainly be used. Genetic experiments involving the proto-molecule and the use of an alien technology that is not truly understood both open the imagination up to all manner of cosmic horror related truths to be discovered.

Is there anything you have watched or read recently that you would consider for the concept of a future recording?
Nothing in particular. As I mentioned earlier, we have a broad concept established that we are building on, but it is still a work in progress. It’s going to be a totally separate concept from Tome, and I see it dealing with madness, cosmic horror and truths never meant to be understood by mortals. What unholiness will The Six summon and how will our lore build as we travel the cosmos in search of blood and knowledge? We shall see.

Is there anything more about the concept of the next album you can share in advance? How much work is needed for it?
We have a long way to go with it still. We have a few songs already in the works, but none completed yet. I feel like the overarching concept that will tie each of the songs together is established though, and I’m pretty excited about that.

What do you most want the band to accomplish musically and aesthetically? Is this goal attainable as it stands now?
We’d like to continue to grow as a band, writing new songs that evolve with us in addition to touring and playing festivals to grow our audience. I’d like to continue to make the stage show even more of a spectacle, which should be achievable as we progress. At this point its about growing the fan base and maximizing opportunities. A big short-term goal for us is to get to Europe and/or South America soon because we have a good number of fans in those places that are requesting us.
Thanks so much for the interview, and for the support.

-Dave Wolff