Monday, May 6, 2019

Interview with Kelly Tee of KELLY TEE BLACK METAL REVIEWS by Dave Wolff

Interview with Kelly Tee of KELLY TEE BLACK METAL REVIEWS

You have a Facebook community page where you review underground bands and their releases. How long has this page been active since it started? How detailed and informative would you say your reviews are?
I started this page about 4 months ago. My personal page was basically drenched with Black Metal, and an American Metal Publication noticed that and gave me the idea and opportunity to start to review some of the underground bands, particularly here in Australia. As time went on, I ventured away from them and started my own page where I now do the reviews direct to my page and the bands can share those reviews from there. I'm pretty excited to be able to show off so many of the great Extreme and Black Metal bands from Australia to the people who follow my page, who are from all over the globe, particularly the US, South America, Europe, and Asia. I'm excited to have hit over 5.1k followers now. The more throats I have to shove Black Metal down, the better!

How often do you post new material on your community page and what genres of underground music do you cover?
I do weekly video reviews on my page, where I talk about the band's latest release. The main focus is of course Black Metal and in particular Black Metal in Australia, because it is a thing here, a big thing and the bands that produce Black Metal in my country are a force. I love Metal through and through, therefore every second week I do a 3 album review with bands of all genres, Black, Death, Thrash – as long as its extreme, original and creative I'm happy to put it out there and show everyone what the band has and often these will include international bands signed and unsigned. I don't want to exclude any band, but it does help if the Metal kicks me in the guts hard! That's when my excitement shows and people see my Metal appetite.

What do you most appreciate about having your own community page? Are you working in other mediums besides video?
I like using the video medium for reviews because people tend to appreciate the passion I have for these bands and their music and obviously, that shows in the videos. I also write and do interviews for a few Black Metal & Heavy Metal Webzines and a Printed Magazine. I love to do reviews this way too because it allows me to be more expressive and eloquent with my words, so to have both verbal and written reviews going on is fun and gives the people a different side of me each time.

What do you look for in a band, and how do you go about describing bands when you write about them? How much do your readers appreciate your work?
Generally, I focus on the music that has been made by the band however it is important for me to recognize the talent behind the music so I always ensure I introduce the band first; their names and their role in the band, and a little bit of background and of course what is on their agenda post their latest release. The reviews I do aren't technical, I'm not interested in using bombast to impress. My reviews are raw and full of feeling based on what I felt when I heard the music as well as what listeners can expect and I like to often throw in some Lyric readings too, that is important for me to do and recognize the hard work and emotion that these band put into their tracks. I just explain things my way, it's fairly no frills. I love getting feedback from the metal Gods and Goddesses on my page, who heed my advice and listen to the bands for themselves, I love it when my music taste aligns with the people watching the reviews. It makes me so happy.

Name the bands you have taken the time to review for your community page, and bands you plan to review in the near future.
So many bands! I have been doing reviews every weekend since November 2018, and now included in that is a 3 album review every second week. Some fantastic Australian bands I have had been lucky enough to review and see live too are Abstract The Light, Christ Dismembered, Rise Of Avernus, Inhuman Remnants, Diabolic Rites, Block The Sun, Blodmane, Puncture Wound, Deadspace, Hybrid Nightmares, Ascensions Fall to name a few, and I have some great bands coming up such as In The Burial and Altar Defecation. I have also reviewed some brutal bands from overseas such as Katarsis Tenebris Satans Taint, Hunab Ku, Dark Reverence, I want to mention them all but there are lots, however I can say this; each band I have reviewed I have believed in and they have moved me in the best Heavy Metal way.

When you started reviewing bands on Facebook, did you expect to gain such a huge following?
I've been taken aback by the response I have had; I truly didn't expect it because…well, I'm just me haha. Everyone is very encouraging and positive toward my review process, and I must admit I was expecting a little bit of negativity just because that can often happen when people put themselves out there. To date though, I've had nothing but support and encouragement, which is great. I love that people look forward to the weekly video reviews and are keen to metal discovery with me. That is what my page is all about. Metal discovery! Particularly Black Metal of course.

Did you achieve this listenership by word of mouth, advertising on the internet or both?
Initially, I had a lot of like-minded metalheads on my personal page, who would interact with me in regards to my Black Metal posts and so I brought a lot of those great people over to my public page when I started it, which was super cool having those friends there right from the start. People often share my reviews in Metal groups as well as on their own personal pages, which I appreciate so much. The more exposure for the bands I'm reviewing the better. Currently, I don't advertise my page, it's been more through word of mouth and people stumbling across my videos. The Australian and International bands have been so good with me and often recommend me to other bands in their area. It's like we are all supporting each other, it's great.

I've interviewed metal fans from Australia who felt that extreme music from that country doesn't receive as much attention as scenes in other countries (England, Norway, the US, etc). Are you making an effort to change that for the better?
I think that is changing, I think people are recognizing how great Australian Extreme metal is and no doubt Social Media is helping that too with all the Metal pages active and people posting their Metal shares. I see so many Australian bands being shared on those pages, it's great.
I'm very focused on Australian Black, Death & Extreme Metal. I'm just doing my small part to help put them on the global Metal Map. They deserve to be there. Aussie metal is unique, obscure, raw and down to earth. I listen to a lot of Metal and I do strongly believe that Australia is producing some of the best Metal in the world right now. There is something big going on here and I'm all about making sure people know about it. I love when a friend from the US or South America etc become a big fan of some of these Aussie Metal bands I'm sharing. It's great that I can help entice people to give them a go and take a listen for themselves.

What fanzines and webzines from Australia do you deem worth mentioning for their dedication and knowledge of the scene?
I think any Metal Webzine that is promoting good metal and putting signed and unsigned bands out there is worth mentioning for sure, we have some great Webzines here such as Metal Roos, Hysteria Mag, The Metal Review and the mighty Metal AF is not far off completing its facelift and will be relaunching soon, which is exciting. The Metal scene in Australia is all very supportive and see each other as family – not competition.

How much effort do Metal Roos, Hysteria Mag, The Metal Review and Metal AF put into their reviews and interviews so readers get to know the bands they cover?
I guess it depends on the person doing the reviews and interviews. I like to do my homework; I listen hard to the music and take notes as I go as far as my album reviews go. When it comes to interviews, I do my research and try and create questions which are tailored specifically to the band and/or the artist. I try to ask questions that can draw out the best information, and give the artist room to move within those questions. The Webzines make these reviews and interviews look aesthetically great with photos and fonts etc. They do a great job publishing. They work hard to promote up and coming gigs, new bands, well-known bands, Australian and international bands and I’m happy to be working with these guys (I don't work with Hysteria Mag, but I think they are a great publication and I love going on there to have a look around).

What speaks to you about black metal? Do you mostly like bands from a specific country or does it depend on the band?
So many elements of Black Metal speak to me. I find such beauty in the darkness of a lot of the lyrical content of Black Metal, sadness and emotion and aggression of the riffs and drum tracks and of course those addictive gutturals and shrieks/yells. It's the overall atmosphere Black Metal creates that draws me in. It's a very powerful form of Metal.
Of course Australian Black Metal bands are some of my favourites, however, I am partial to Finnish Black Metal – they really don't give a fuck and just go for it, they are kinda crazy in their music and I love it. Of course, the Norwegians bring the Kvlt however there are such great things coming out of so many countries, New Zealand, Greece, Germany, Poland, Brazil, France, and Asia, etc, Asia is a force in the Black Metal Sub-genre too. Surrender Of Divinity out of Thailand is one of my favourite Black Metal bands.

How much diversity do you see in black metal on a worldwide scale, after it has grown since the 80s and 90s? And as for the vocals, how much talent do you see it takes to sustain vocals that fit the songs? There are instructional videos on Youtube by trained professionals showing how to use your vocal cords properly, such as VoiceHacks. Do you get a chance to watch them?
I think there is huge diversity now within Black Metal, we have some deadly Black Metal and Blackened Extreme Metal bands fronted by some exceptionally talented and fierce woman, such as Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Altar Defecation, In The Burial, and Cultus Profano to name some. There is also diversity of origin too, as previously mentioned we have some fantastic Black Metal coming out of all corners of the globe. It is no longer confined to Scandinavia and each country brings its own special darkness and inspiration different from the cold dark days of Norway. It’s exciting!
I'm not a vocalist, if I were to sing, I would clear a room fast! However, I do think it takes a lot of skill and practice to be able to produce low gutturals to smash people in the face with, likewise with those hellish shrieks. I don’t think this is just something anyone can do and do well, even if they learn how to. There is “good at it”, and there is “REALLY good at it” Black Metal vocalists. I haven't watched those YouTube videos, however, just through talking to friends of mine who are in Black Metal and Death Metal bands, and who have some of the best vocals I've heard, this takes years of practice and they all have naturally fantastic clean vocals to knock your socks off too. It truly is a gift, skill and talent combined.
A good Black Metal vocalist to me, puts their heart and soul bloodied on the plate for us to eat! They put in every ounce of emotion and scary element they can conjure and this is what makes the hairs stand up on our arms. They do it with conviction, and this moves the listener.

Some people complain that the Kvlt tag is overused in black metal. Do you think it has become so? How do you tell the difference between bands who are sincere or not when using that label?
I think Trve Kvlt labelling is necessary as it translates a style of Black Metal from the Norwegian Second Wave movement, which still has its place today. There are Black Metal bands starting out today that aim for that Kvlt sound and look.
I guess if a band put together compositions of extremely experimental melodic and symphonic Black Metal and labelled it Kvlt, fans might question whether or not that band actually understood what being Kvlt meant. Normally the listener labels the band Kvlt. The bands themselves not so much but they either are or they aren’t, it comes down to their sound and imagery.
I associate Kvlt with a certain sound, which is generally raw, dirty, underproduced, nasty, moody, and secular sounding, and their appearance will be that of evil corpse paint and spikes!
Any band producing Black Metal is sincere, whether it is Kvlt, Avant Garde, crossing Black with other extreme genres etc. Sincere because they are moving in a direction they feel best for them, to show off their artistic vision in music.

What do you think of black/death metal crossover? Have you listened to any good black/death bands lately?
I love it when genres cross over and given that Black & Death are two of my favourite styles of Metal, hearing these two elements together is bliss for me.
I think that more and more bands are experimenting and not wanting to stay within one specific genre. They might not do it entirely throughout their career however might try it on for size here and there and why not. Avid fans of either genre might not like that but I think it's great.
Some of my favourites are Behemoth, of course, Anaal Nathrakh, Angelcorpse, Belphegor, Goatwhore, Vesania (when they were together, Tomasz's vocals are killer) and Naglaa would be my picks for Black/Death Metal bands. I have reviewed some great lesser known Black Death bands too such as Meadows End, and have some great Black Death reviews coming up, so watch out for those.

Did you see the movie Lords Of Chaos? Do you consider it an accurate portrayal of the scene in Norway or Hollywood bullshit?
I haven't yet, and that is mostly because I can be rather misanthropic and unless it's a Metal Concert I often hate crowds & often I find watching films in the cinemas distracting (too many talkers and chip packets rustling haha). I will watch it though when it comes out on DVD. From what I have read, it is only loosely based on the Mayhem story, so I am not going to be watching it expecting a Documentary style movie. I'm sure some elements of the story will be based on truth. I do prefer to watch Black Metal Documentaries, there are some great ones around such as Until The Light Takes Us, Metal: A Headbangers’ Journey, Black Hearts and Black Metal Satanica to name a few. If people are chasing the real story of the first and second wave Black Metal culture, controversy and scene, I recommend watching these.

What do you look for in a documentary when it comes to finding one that is indepth and does not condescend the viewers?
I prefer the documentaries that are narrated by the bands themselves. Documentaries that focus on other elements of Black Metal aside from the early 90s infamous controversy of church burnings and murder is always good too. Yes, that is a big part of Black Metal history, however, Black Metal is so much more than that, and there are some great documentaries that focus more on the great side of the culture, what it means to people and why people are attracted to the darkness and intensity of it all.

The 2008 Sam Dunn (Metal: A Headbangers’ Journey, Shredders of Metal TV series) documentary Global Metal explores underground metal as a worldwide phenomenon. Have you also seen this film? Do you think there need to be more projects like it?
Ahhh yes, this one I have seen and enjoyed it. Given that this was released over ten years, it would be great to see something more recently put together, particularly because Extreme Metal genres seem to have become more popular since then (dare I say this, and I have opinions on this too but maybe that's for another time to go further into that lol).
There are documentaries that do delve into the underground metal phenomenon, however possibly not quite as deep as Shredders Of Metal did, however given all the Political Correctness that is now being forced onto people in the music industry, and particularly Black Metal at the moment, it's probably timely that another project is created to explain why these sub-genres should still have the freedom to move in any direction the artist feels the need to move in. Black Metal isn't meant to be nice, happy or friendly, and unfortunately there are so many who lack understanding of this, and therefore are trying to change it and tighten the artistic parameters. We can't let that happen. Ever.

There was another movie made in 2013 called Metalhead, with Thora Bjorg Helga as a disillusioned kid who starts a band to find her own identity as a human being. Did you see this movie, and if so what did you think of it?
I haven't seen this movie, nor heard of it until now, However, I did just quickly Google it, and it looks interesting and given it's an Icelandic movie, I'm sure it has a great quirkiness to it. It's on my list now.

Generally, is image or ability most important to a band? Or do image and ability both have their respective place?
Ability. The image is only aesthetics. I throw my own style of corpse paint on at times to put up a post about an up and coming review, however, I can't sing to save my life and have very limited instrument ability lol. My point is, the image doesn't make you talented, although I recognize it is a huge part of the culture.
I saw Emperor recently in Sydney and they were as Black and brutal as ever and performed without their signature corpse paint. They blew the crowd away due to their sheer talent and savagery. I think that image can enhance the mood and darkness to the music but it isn't the be all and end all.
I am partial to a Black Metal band with Corpse paint though or Death Metal bands that drown themselves in blood and show violent imagery. For me, it just adds that shock factor and creates an additional vibe or mood. However most of us listen in our headphones and don't see a film clip in front of us at the time, so take all that imagery away and the ability is what counts.

For your knowledge of extreme metal, you have a down to earth, open and honest approach to reviewing as opposed to doing fluff reviews. Do you receive positive feedback for this?
I am just being myself when I do these reviews and it comes from the pits of my gut and the bottom of my black heart. I have truly been moved by all the Metal albums that I've reviewed. I'm not a critic, I have no interest in being one. I will never rip apart someone's hard work, their passion and be a wanker in that way by pulling their art apart in a review. However, I do not review music that doesn't smash my emotions hard and/or makes me feel all sorts of Metal Hell – therefore, the albums I review I've thoroughly and properly loved. It's very cool to get feedback, I have people say to me that they like seeing my passion and my excitement in the video reviews. There is no doubt I do get excited and tongue-tied haha. I have a lot of fun doing these reviews, and giving people a visual of how much the music has moved me is maybe a little bit niche. I get a lot of great feedback on the bands I review, it is great to know these reviews aren't done in vain.

Do you feel your presentation allows your viewers to connect with you on a one to one basis?
I do believe my video reviews make it more personal. People see my personality and my nature via the video reviews, as well as my passion and excitement for the albums as well as my geeky uncool side too, haha. I try to respond to all comments and I really love when people want to have a conversation with me around Metal. I'm always up for that. It's my favourite thing to discuss.
I once did live review feeds however, I stopped doing that because people would be commenting while I was reviewing and I felt as if I was ignoring them. I felt rude doing that. Video reviews are the go for me. I can post them up, people can comment and I can reply accordingly and converse after the review is done, and get their thoughts on the music.

Do you or have you in the past written reviews for fanzines or webzines? If so, name some of the publications you write for.
Currently I write reviews and interviews for This Is Black Metal, The Metal Review, The Metal Mag, Metal AF, and Metal Roos. All great Metal Webzines.

Are you meeting new bands and readers through the zines you’re contributing interviews and reviews to? Do you still seek out new writing jobs to expand your readership?
I probably meet new bands more through my page and video reviews. Bands will contact me saying they saw my review and ask if I'd be keen to review their album, which is great. Also via word of mouth from other bands who I have previously reviewed. Some bands' I have met through my written reviews and interviews for certain Webzines.
I'll never close off any networking opportunities with other Webzines or Magazines, it’s just more at time thing now for me. For now, I'm busy trying to contribute to my own page, and the Webzines and Mags I'm already writing for. I work full time too - so I do all this in my spare time, but it’s a great thing to do in my spare time that is for sure.

Have you considered interviewing bands on video in addition to reviewing their albums? Or specialty videos highlighting underground scenes in specific countries (Australia, Norway, Mexico, Russia etc)?
I am starting to do more and more interviews, which is exciting for me, with some big names too, not just within Australia. I have had a few of those artist's request video reviews, so I will certainly do that for them. This is something I have talked about with some of the Black Metal bands from Australia too just to mix it up a bit instead of written reviews. I'm not closing my mind to anything, my cogs are always turning as to how I can create difference and keep things interesting.

How much have you branched out on your own terms since you started reviewing? Do your new ideas include reviewing performances, documentaries, and movies like those we've discussed in this interview?
I've pretty much been on my own terms since I started, I do the reviews how I see fit and as for contributing to Webzines, and Magazines I do this when I can as well and they are all understanding of that. I would love to churn a lot more than I already do, however with family and my career, it isn't always easy.
I have done some written reviews on gigs, and often when I do go to gigs, I'll jump on and do a quick video telling everyone how brilliant and epic the concert was. If I’ve attended an International band concert, a well-known, I always focus more on the support acts. They are usually very deadly Aussie Metal acts; some I may never have heard of. I like to do this even if I'm a little deaf and maybe dodgy from gig wine but people catch me on a high from the concert.
At this stage, I haven't looked to reviewing documentaries and/or movies, although it has been previously suggested to me and I have it in the back of my mind. For now, I'll focus on album reviews for bands.

Do you plan to eventually launch a Website and correspond with underground labels (Metal Blade, Relapse, Nuclear Blast, etc)? Would you like to become more well known as a reviewer and see more Australian bands gain worldwide recognition?
That most certainly is in my broader plan yes. It would be so great to network with those labels. The reason why I started these reviews was to try and help put these amazing Australian Black Metal and Extreme Metal bands out there a bit more. They deserve worldwide recognition and have seriously got so much to offer the Metal world. If more people see my reviews, read my interviews and read my written reviews than that's great for the bands.
I did trial share one of my recent video reviews to other Metal groups, knowing I would probably have to prepare for some negativity and sure enough it did come “don’t give up your day job” lol "oh you are fake, you don't even look metal" I never understood that by the way, hahaha. Metal is passion to me, not fashion. Anyways, off topic there. I'll continue to keep sharing though and suck the insults up, in the hope to gain a larger community on my page. There are so many more Australian bands to proudly show off as well as some fantastic international artists. I feel as if the tin can is only just opening. I can't wait to discover them all and share with everyone.

-Dave Wolff

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