Monday, May 10, 2021

Full Length Review: Plaguewielder "Covenant Death" (Disorder Recordings) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Plaguewielder
Location: Ohio
Country: USA
Genre: Blackened sludge
Full Length: Covenant Death
Format: Digital album, digipak CD
Label: Disorder Recordings
Release date: April 2, 2021
What’s going on all, I’m back with another album review. Welcome to COVENANT DEATH by Plague Wielder!
So what I have in front of you today is an 8 track machine of an album featuring a lot of different elements (which I’ll get to in a bit) and with pacing not like much I’ve heard this year, it really sets itself apart as a record you could ultimately benefit from listening to in a closed space with some good quality headphones.
Let’s talk the ‘music’ itself.
On the genre it’s described as ‘Blackened Sludge’ which actually got me excited to experiment with but because of this album's unusual pacing and stylistic choices it has a variety of sounds and influences that (for me) range between:
-Black Metal
-Noise
-Sludge
-Ambient
-Metalcore
See, the first few songs of the album set up a more Metalcore sound with the mid to higher screams, the catchy and infectious guitar riffs, the intricate pattern of the drums and the generous use of the bass.
For me it’s in the third song and beyond where the true ‘Blackened Sludge’ comes into play, kind of caught me off guard to be honest but regardless those heavy trademark sludge instrumentation seeps through and the screams begin to take form in a lower register and the louder more technical aspect bares its face!
The Production
As I stated above, the first few songs took the context out but with the remaining six songs doing the album justice it’s really only a minor complaint in the ‘fluency’ department. I sat at the start that this is an album that would be best enjoyed in an isolated headspace because it has this strong ‘depth’ about it sonically that’s hard to pinpoint.
The music itself feels alive and emotional, it feels like you would be disrespecting the soul of the album by listening to it in a casual manner and so to truly understand the magic I highly recommend you either invest in your best headphones or be alone to pay attention to the sounds, lyrics and patterns presented!
In closing, a solid and almost ominous record but in the best way possible, it’s heavy, loud and gracious all at the same time. Go check these guys out and go support them at the links below!
-Corban Skipwith

Lineup:
Bryce Seditz: Guitar, vocals, engineer
Jeff Wilson: Bass, synth, additional guitars, engineer
Tim Roberts: Drums

Track list:
1. To Dance With Wolves
2. At Night They Roam
3. A Death That Knows No End
4. One With The Shadows
5. Covenant Death
6. CRGP
7. Black Mysticism
8. Forever We Shall Be



Saturday, May 8, 2021

Full Length Review: Kenny McCormick "Alien" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Artist: Kenny McCormick
Location: Meura
Country: Germany
Genre: Progressive metal
Full Length: Alien
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: April 4, 2021
Kenny McCormick is a German musician who for four or five years has been perfecting what he calls his “progressive alien space metal”. What do we have here? Another label in an ocean of them? There’s a seemingly infinite amount of them already. What sounds like yet another subgenral classification which will only further complicate the genre as a whole is really the sole means of describing a style fast becoming unique to him. One you can instantly recognize as being his. “Alien” is McCormick’s third full length (following 2018’s “Zenturies” and 2017’s “Event Horizon”) and reaches a near-flawless equilibrium between melodic death metal, progressive metal and progressive rock without a single impression of being a forced crossover or unnecessarily nimble-fingered. The atmosphere, the subtleties in musicianship, the time changes, the occasional dissonant chords and the subtle shades of early grunge and funk are enough to place you into a trance akin to an abduction by an extraterrestrial species. “Alien” is not like something released by Voivod or Sear Bliss but features dark and mysterious qualities in its own right. The Rush/Marillion prog-rock elements of the songs make the album much less rough-edged while contributing to its ambiance. All the songs recorded here are without lyrics or vocals, and this development leaves it to you to decide what epic tale is unfolding, what happens in its course and how (and where) it ultimately concludes. The brief introduction in the first song “Contact” provides a start to the narrative, but interpretation is mostly left open as to what’s next. Whether it turns out like the movie “Alien,” “Close Encounters” or “Independence Day” depends on your imagination. References to several classic sci fi movies seem to be made here, so this can as easily be a synthesis of several of those films. The final track “0100000101001100010010010100010101001110” with its 50s/60s sci fi theme and electronic sounds gives you something of an idea, but is still vague enough to let you decide. There’s even a reference to H.P. Lovecraft giving “Alien” darker, more sinister overtones. McCormick’s style of composing is also such that extended listening may produce an awareness you’re being hypnotized by this album’s overt and indistinct nuances. –Dave Wolff

Track list:
1. Contact
2. Alien
3. Monolith
4. Close Encounters Of The Fifth Kind
5. Paradigm Shift
6. Silent Observer
7. The Shadow Out Of Time
8. Type Omega-Minus
9. Star Atlas
10. Metaphor
11. 0100000101001100010010010100010101001110

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Full Length Review: Steel Bearing Hand "Slay In Hell" (Carbonized Records) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Steel Bearing Hand
Location: Dallas, Texas
Country: USA
Genre: Death/thrash metal
Full Length: Slay In Hell
Format: Digital, CD, cassette/digital
Release date: April 2, 2021
What’s good everyone, I’m back and it’s ALBUM REVIEW TIME again! I love listening to and discovering new bands and artists all around the world and this band is definitely no exception. SLAY IN HELL by Steel Bearing Hand.
So, this is the latest album by Thrash/Doom metal band Steel Bearing Hand released April 2 this year.
After listening to this record a few things came into my mind. First of all the production and vibe. What we have here is a 90’s blend of early Death Metal (think more towards early Cannibal Corpse, Venom, etc) and modern-day Doom/Sludge metal components all combined into one extraordinary project.
I compare this more to the 90’s era of Death Metal because this album doesn’t feature that prominent heavy bass or extremely distorted instrumentation but more just focusing on technicality and precision above all else.
This album is packed with shredding guitar that could melt your face off if you’re not careful, I would say this is 40% Vocals 60% guitar. Solo’s and riffs can be found around almost every corner and it’s all the better for it.
What’s also prominent is the fantastic use of drums and the complex patents and rhythms that prove just how talented this band really is.
This album features six tracks and with them, their own individual pacing and sonic journey told within the songs, the final track ‘Ensanguined’ which sits at 12:31 seconds is a behemoth of a track, one that reminds me a lot of the final track of the band Nails’ 2016 album ‘You Will Never Be One Of Us’ with the track ‘They Come Crawling Back’ at the beginning of the track I could swear they even share the same chord progressions which were exciting for me to hear.
But just like the Nails song this outro track also provides that same methodical, tortuous aura and arrangements to stun your soul with! It does a fantastic job of building up the tension minute by minute only to have the final few minutes ride on some truly haunting notes and riffs.
For a project that’s only six tracks this album does a marvelous job at portraying the ‘religious apocalyptic’ narrative and the use of the instrumentation and choice of sound and production was great, you really couldn’t ask for a better Thrash/Doom fusion if you tried!
So as always, go support, subscribe, and stream these guys!
Link below to follow them and let’s get them viral!

Lineup:
Wyatt Burton: Vocals, lead guitars
Parker Turney: Guitars
Chris Bonner: Bass
Anthony Vallejo: Drums

Track list:
1. Command of the Infernal Exarch
2. Lich Gate
3. Tombspawn
4. Per Tenebras Ad Lucem
5. 'Til Death and Beyond
6. Ensanguined


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Interview with Altara Blakthorne of Blackened Horde Zine by Dave Wolff

Interview with Altara Blakthorne of Blackened Horde Zine

From what I gather Blackened Horde Zine was on hiatus but you recently restarted it with several new interviews.
Blackened Horde Zine first started as a print zine under another name, then it was changed to a website. I am still re-vamping the zine in trying to find reviewers who are willing to donate their time and opinions in doing some reviews.

What is the purpose of Blackened Horde Zine and what genres does it cover? How widespread is your readership?
The purpose of Blackened Horde is to help promote local and underground bands. They work hard and all deserve to be recognized for their talent. We cover all genres in the Extreme Metal era. Anything from Black Metal to Thrash Metal. I do have another zine that handles all other genres. We are world-widespread, so all countries and then some.

For what reasons did you decide to exclusively cover extreme metal in the zine? How many subgenres has it supported altogether?
Living in Florida which was labeled as “the death metal capital of the world” is why I decided to do Extreme Metal genres. I couldn't even guess an exact number of subgenres; probably around twenty or so.

Did you start the zine independently or with staff members helping you out?
I started it all myself, however, I have always had people doing the album reviews. The main reason for this is conflict. If I didn't like a band but they were friends I didn't want there to be tension in the friendship.

What was your zine first named, and how many issues were printed and released? How long was it on hold and what made you decide to bring it back online?
The printed zine had the embarrassing name of “The Vampiress Chronicles”. There were probably about ten to fifteen issues. I'm not sure exactly how long it was on hold but it was many, many years.

How many copies did you press of each issue of the zine when it was The Vampiress Chronicles? Are any older issues still available?
Not too many actually. It was basically printed on an order basis. And I do believe I may have some of those interviews on my website under “Ancient Interviews”. There are no printed copies except mine that I will always keep. I am thinking about taking it apart to laminate the pages so they don't get ruined.

How many staff writers/contributors worked on The Vampiress Chronicles with you? Did any of them express interest in resuming for Blackened Horde or did you restart from scratch?
I had probably three reviewers for TVC and I was the only interviewer. However, an ex-boyfriend did one interview because he was living with this other band and he thought it would be fun. One of the reviewers did come over to BHZ until he didn't have the time.

We know about Cannibal Corpse and Deicide, but did Blackened Horde cover local Florida bands who weren’t noticed as much by major independent labels?
We have covered Florida bands. Some are bands people know and some are bands people don't.

What lesser-known Florida bands have been featured in reviews and interviews? Is the death metal scene there as active as it was when it started?
Some of the Florida bands were: Impurity, Burning Fair Verona, Armageddon III, Faethom, Markradonn, and many more. The Death Metal scene is definitely still active however with the Covid situation a lot of bands are kinda on hold or not playing live as much.

Going by all the subgenres you listen to, are there still bands expanding the range of extreme metal as a whole, or do most of the bands you’ve heard sound like bands from the 1990s?
I think some of the bands from the 90's were better than and some of the bands now are better. It all depends on the bands. Nowadays they are exploring more options and adding different things into the mix.

Do you also cover black metal and other subgenres of metal in your zine?
Black metal is my favorite in the extreme metal genre. I even did an interview with Boddel from Gorgoroth before his passing. Which I will always keep in the current interview section. You can listen to it here: http://blackenedhorde.com/gorgoroth. If a band is extreme metal they will be added to BHZ, if they are not they will go in my other zine Crimson Moon. That way no one gets turned down.

How much has Blackened Horde’s readership increased since it became an online zine? How long did it take to build the website and is it on your own internet host?
Well, it has definitely gotten a lot more attention. I get emails all the time from bands and labels. My ex did the original setup (coding) for the website. But the input in it was all done by me which took a very long time. Months even. I wanted it to be very well implemented so it was easy for readers to navigate.

Who are some of the bands featured in the Ancient Interviews section? And the bands you have interviewed more recently?
The bands there are Angelkill, Corpsevomit, Fleshgrind, Num Skull, and others. The most recent are Adragard, Messora, Brzask and Goddess.

Do you prefer doing interviews where a band gives brief, to the point answers or interviews where a band gives longer, more detailed answers?
When a band gives short answers to every single question it makes the readers feel like they are rushing through it so they don't want to bother. With that being said some answers will be short.

I saw you post videos on the site as well as reviews, band bios, and interviews. Does this help increase the traffic?
The videos and bios, I am not sure if they increase traffic but I figured it is a good way for people to know a little more about the band and even hear them.

In addition to promotional videos, have you considered posting bands’ Youtube, Bandcamp, and Spotify links?
As for the links, I do add links at the end of the interviews to places people can find out about the bands if they are provided or can be found.

Have you met any writers or prospective writers interested in reviewing for the zine?
I do have some people who are interested in writing reviews. And I am always happy to have more so if anyone out there is interested please email me at summon@blackenedhorde.com. Of course, I will always miss my greatest reviewer of all, Pagan.

Who was Pagan and how actively was she involved with Blackened Horde Zine?
Pagan was a girl I knew from the U.K. and she was an awesome reviewer. She would even send over stuff I didn't send her to add into BHZ. Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer a few years ago. I miss her a lot.

Are you still involved with the radio program you’re doing for Blackened Horde? How long has that show been online to date? Has the staff at the zine also been involved in it?
Unfortunately, the radio station is not live due to circumstances. One is the company that broadcasted the stream no longer exists. And my ex put that up and I'm not sure who else to go with anymore. However, I do keep the website up in case I ever can get it up and running again.
No one from the zine got involved in the radio station since they were not local and I wasn't gonna leave the computer vulnerable to hackers. But I did have a local friend who used to come over and do a radio show sometimes. Great night of metal and Jack Daniels for us both.

What company broadcasted the stream, and how visible was the link or website for listeners to tune into? Was it live at that time or prerecorded?
It’s been so long that I can't remember the name of the company that supported the live stream. It was live and ran 24/7 unless the power or internet was out. The stream was right on the main page so people can get to it when they open the webpage. There were some pre-recorded shows uploaded.

Who was the friend you worked on the show with, and how would a typical session go? Did you ever consider hosting it solo or would you have to work with a second DJ?
My friend that did some show with me was a guy named David. He used that DJ name of Bonechild. We would just play random shit, whatever he wanted to play. However, I did have many shows I hosted. The certain show had a certain type of genre to follow.

What genre or genres were normally spotlighted on Blackened Horde Radio? Who were some of the bands Bonechild would play on the show?
Blackened Horde Radio featured many genres from Extreme Metal, Classic Rock, Hair Metal, Rock, Metal, Punk, Alternative, Grunge, Industrial, Unsigned, and Local bands and anything in between those lines. Bonechild would play a lot of the Florida extreme Metal bands and the popular ones like Cannibal Corpse and Deicide.

How many underground/unsigned bands were aired on the show, bands you couldn’t hear on other programs?
It really depended on the show for how many underground bands were played. I had a show just for underground bands. So however long the show was for it would play that many. I miss doing the shows.

Were any live performances aired on the show, or would you consider airing live shows if you were to start it up again?
Live shows wouldn't really be possible unless I got a bigger studio with more room. However, I have done a live interview with a band in the studio before.

Who was the band you interviewed live and when was the interview conducted? Would you do more live interviews today if you had the opportunity?
The band was called Vital Pain, which no longer exists. I have done others via Skype. I don't do them like that anymore either due to my schedule and the bands' schedule. But if I could I would.

How long have you worked for Crimson Moon Zine and how much does its format differ from Blackened Horde? Was anyone publishing it before you joined or is it yours?
Crimson Moon Zine only started maybe ten years ago. It's always been online, never a printed zine. No one published before me I started it. The format is any genre in the Rock/Metal categories, but no extreme Metal.

When was the latest issue of Crimson Moon released online, and what bands were interviewed?
There aren't any issues per se of Crimson Moon Zine. It's all under the same format as BHZ where it has “Current Interviews” and “Older Interviews” tabs. However, I recently did two interviews with bands Fore and Ted Axe. But as for older interviews for CMZ I have done Dream Aria, Killerfix, Lestat, Savage, Thirty Silver, Widows, and many more.

Does Crimson Moon have a staff of any kind or are you seeking writers to contribute as well as to Blackened Horde?
Well right now I have two writers interested in doing reviews however I have to go through files to see which is Crimson Moon material and which is Blackened Horde material.

Are you getting offers to write reviews or interviews for other webzines in recent months? Or are Blackened Horde and Crimson Moon your sole publications at present?
I always get emails from bands and labels for interviews and reviews. It's a never-ending process. And then sometimes I will contact a band.

What genres have you not covered in your zines, that you would consider expanding to in the future?
I think we covered every that I would cover between both zines. Its all in the Rock and Metal eras. We will never cover rap or pop types of genres because the readers wouldn't care.


-Dave Wolff

Interview with makeup artist and goth model Chinzyllah by Dave Wolff

Interview with makeup artist and goth model Chinzyllah

Asphyxium Zine: Your Instagram profile partly describes you as a “darkly inclined makeup enthusiast”. Can you elaborate on what such a statement is intended to mean?
Chinzyllah: For me, being darkly inclined is defined by one’s passionate connection to the darker aspects of life. I’m sure many would immediately identify me as a goth, but I prefer not to be limited to only one hue of darkness. I also draw much of my inspiration from the black metal musical genre. I’ve classified myself as a makeup enthusiast rather than a makeup artist, as I lack the formal training that’s usually required. Furthermore, I’ve never considered myself to be worthy of being recognized as a legitimate artist of any kind. Perhaps I’m more humble than what is healthy, but I just don’t agree with being appraised at a high value.”

Asphyxium Zine: Which of life’s darker aspects do you feel a connection with, and where does the passion for these connections come from? Did you feel these connections from a young age or did they develop over time?
Chinzyllah: The darkest aspect of life is death itself, as that is where life as we currently know it ends. There have been numerous occasions, mostly throughout my teenage years, where being smitten by death’s eternal embrace was almost fatal. I’ve felt the longing for death to claim my life since the age of twelve, which is also another way of saying that I’ve been coping with severe depression for about thirteen years. In saying that, I suppose my passion for life’s ultimate hue of darkness is sourced by my ever-evolving battle with depression.

Asphyxium Zine: Goth and black metal has more connotations today than in the past. These include a wider spectrum of colors, albeit all darker. How many different aspects of these aesthetics are you drawing from and/or creating?
Chinzyllah: For me, inspiration is born from a multitude of avenues that extend beyond musical genres or subcultural themes. Honestly, most of my creations start without blueprints; I just start mixing the ingredients on my face and allow nature to take its course until I deem it finished. Viewing the results of my efforts, some may find that hard to believe but it’s the absolute truth.

Asphyxium Zine: Are you a long time listener of black metal or did you discover it in later years? Is there any particular subgenre of black metal you resonate with? How many similarities, musical and/or visual, do you see between black metal and goth?
Chinzyllah: My ears tasted black metal for the very first time during my high school years, so I’ve been a listener of the genre for about a decade or so now. As a teenager, I decided that I wanted to practice LaVeyan Satanism to rebel against my Christian upbringing, Upon making this decision, I started doing research on Satanic worship music. During the Christian sermon structure, the musical component was always captivating for me. That being said, I just couldn’t envision a religion without music as I’d previously known music’s integral role within Christianity. Not long after beginning my search for Satan-praising musicians, I first happened upon Gorgoroth and was not disappointed with what I’d heard. Moving forward, there isn’t a black metal subgenre that I favour more over others; I enjoy just about anyone in the genre besides Burzum. I’ve personally never recognized any similarities between black metal and goth, as they are two entirely different entities both musically and aesthetically.

Asphyxium Zine: How much of your innermost emotions can you channel into your work without revealing too much of it? Where do you have to draw the line?
Chinzyllah: The amount of inward thoughts and emotions that I express through makeup is virtually limitless. Placing a cap on the emotional value of my looks hasn’t felt necessary, not yet anyway. I may not consider myself good enough to be dubbed as a “true” artist, but I recognize that whatever I create evokes a unique response from each viewer much like art does. Among my current viewership, accurate readings of what internal processes I’m externalizing through makeup has been an infrequent occurrence. With that in mind, expressing my true self with this particular method doesn’t make me feel vulnerable. Most don’t really pick up on how influential my subconscious is on my hand during each brushstroke, so there’s little concern for being too revealing.

Asphyxium Zine: Does improvising your designs without blueprints or pre-planning give you more room for expression? Is it too much for some to handle if they’re unfamiliar with black metal or goth?
Chinzyllah: Although it may not be the best approach for those with limited patience, it absolutely provides me with the freedom to authentically express myself. On average, the assemblage time for my makeup alone usually takes anywhere between two to four hours which has definitely helped with improving my patience over the years. As for my chosen presentation being too intense for some, that can be immediately confirmed by having me enter the local grocery store in my full form. I was born and raised within a small tourist town, so I’m sure you can imagine the many gawks and fearful mutterings I often receive based upon their beliefs in highly inaccurate stereotypes.

Asphyxium Zine: What about your Christian upbringing did you most want to rebel against? Are you still in that frame of mind or do you feel you have grown on your own terms since then?
Chinzyllah: As your typical angsty teenager, I just really wanted to rebel against my parents and their predetermined destiny for my life which had no consideration for the person I truly am. Looking back, nothing healthy ever came from trying to be one with their god growing up. My mother would regularly claim that I wouldn’t have had so many struggles in life had I just given Jesus more room within my heart and mind. Meanwhile, the large religious target placed upon my back during childhood predisposed me to over a decade’s worth of bullying and almost led me into a dysfunctional marriage years later. Although these negative experiences were indeed painful, I don’t think I’d be as well-equipped for life had it not been for those growing pains.

Asphyxium Zine: What kind of stereotypes have you dealt with, and how did religion play into them? In what ways was the left hand path an answer when it came to choosing your own path?
Chinzyllah: I’ve been met with several stereotypes throughout my existence, the most common being the goth stereotype. People who aren’t even vaguely familiar with the gothic subculture really let their ignorance shine through, when they make the assumption that I’m inherently evil due to the dark elements I adorn myself with. I understand that some folks are well-intended and are just trying to compliment my sense of style the way they know best; so I try to remain respectful in hopes of debunking that stereotype’s validity. When you throw religion into the mix, it becomes much more tiresome for me to acknowledge as most religious folk have perceived me as a missionary’s conquest. Venturing down the left path was necessary for my journey of self-discovery, it’s also what saved my life in a way. If I’d remained on the Christian road that I was brought up on, I don’t believe I would’ve been able to accept myself for who I truly am or feel anything besides shame.

Asphyxium Zine: How important a role, if any, do the mediums of music and film play in your self-expression?
Chinzyllah: Honestly, I’m not a huge movie buff. When the mood strikes, I enjoy classic horror films and well as select modern film series like Lord Of The Rings and Underworld. With how little I watch movies, or even just general television, I can’t say that the film industry has had a significant role in my daily life or the way I choose to express myself. On the other hand, music has definitely played a major role in my form of self-expression and shall continue to until there’s nothing left for me to express. When the music stops, so do I. Creating anything without the musical accompaniment to fuel me throughout the creative process, would be comparable to going on a deep sea dive without a breathing apparatus.


-Dave Wolff

Interview with Corban Skipwith of Relentless Reviews with Corbz by Dave Wolff

Interview with Corban Skipwith 
of Relentless Reviews with Corbz

You post music reviews at your Facebook group “Relentless Reviews With Corbz”. Were your earliest reviews of artists you were friends with or artists you found online?
Since I was young I’ve had this obsession with music. I always thought it was normal to study, learn and binge listen to music all day but I soon found out it wasn’t. I started actually three to four years ago just because I knew so much I thought why not!
My first attempt was called “Kaioken’s Knowledge Knock Outs” and the reviews I did were short and really bad. I cringe when I look back at them. Justin Hunte formerly of HipHopDx and The Needle Drop’s Anthony Fantano inspired me. To be honest, when I first started with my amateur take on reviews I was just reviewing the albums Anthony Fantano covered, so essentially I started off as a hack, haha.

Was “Kaioken’s Knowledge Knock Outs” on Facebook or was there an official website?
It was just random posts I made to my Facebook. I’m glad I never made that go viral! Haha.

When did you start “Relentless Reviews With Corbz” and how actively did you promote it?
I don’t remember, but the original name for the current group was “Kaioken’s Musical Debates and Reviews”; something like that. Then it was changed to what you see now.

How extensive was your study of music, and how did it help to satisfy your obsession with it?
I never actually had any official extensive study. All the knowledge I’ve acquired was from self-study, researching different artists and genres, taking time out to watch interviews and listen to new music to broaden my horizon!

How many genres were you studying before you became interested in reviewing? Where were most of the interviews you watched, and what pointers did you pick up from them?
I studied all genres, but the two genres I started off loving was Hip Hop and Heavy Metal. I guess watching various channels and interviews I picked up small stuff like: interesting questions, ability to keep the conversation going, room set up etc.

Were the channels you watched mostly on Youtube and other platforms like Facebook and Reverbnation? Where did you read the interviews you researched?
Yeah, mainly on YouTube. I use to watch everything from behind the scenes footage, interviews, Q and A’s, etc.
The one interview that stood out most to me was this interview with Dani Filth (Cradle of Filth) regarding his latest album (at the time) “Darkly Darkly Venus Aversa”. As the album is focused on the demon Lilith who in some variations of the bible is considered to be “the snake” that convinced Eve to eat the apple and cast her and Adam out of the Garden of Eden.
Anyway, Dani Filth described the album, “Lilith is such an interesting character, in fact religion as a whole is such a fun fairytale”.

Are you self-educated as a writer, or did your formal education in high school and college have a part in it?
I am self-educated, though I excelled in literature in high school which led to my passion for writing reviews down the line.

Who were the authors you were studying most often while taking literature in high school? Where did you make the connection between reading and reviewing?
None specifically. In literature we would write poetry, and the two poets I remember being fixated on most was the lead singer of the Finnish band HIM, Ville Valo, and the lead singer of UK band Cradle Of Filth, Dani Filth. Their various takes on dark poetry fascinated me most and the later one helped me learn new words as that band often uses complicated words.

How many poems did you compose in high school? Do you still have any of them in your possession?
I actually had a whole folder of dark poetry and rap lyrics. If I remember correctly it was all super moody, depressing, purposely controversial content as I was fighting a lot of emotional issues at the time and writing was my escape. I think it’s under my bed somewhere actually, haha.

Any examples of lyrics Ville Valo and Dani Filth wrote that you found inspirational, or do you generally appreciate all of their work?
From HIM it was: “The kiss of vanity blessed me with a spiritual murder/Fed the gods of war insatiable/Your home is where the dark is, I should have told her/Embraced the fire indestructible”. From Cradle Of Filth it was actually the whole song “The Cult of Venus Aversa”, the intro track to their album of the same name.

How did your professors respond to you presenting metal lyrics? Were the songs you shared taken seriously or was there bias to overcome?
I remember the one time I showed the HIM lyrics specifically to one of my teachers she was just confused and didn’t understand it at all. But I remember when I had to write a poem about this book for school the teacher Mr. Davidson said to me, “This wasn’t the format of poetry I was looking for but you have a rare writing talent that not many people in the world have.” I still remember those words to this day, haha.

Did you always want to write exclusively about music, or were there other mediums you were interested in at any point?
This was actually my last option, I originally wanted to be a rapper or a producer. But when that fell short I realized the only thing I was ever good at was writing so I decided to take my knowledge and my literature skills and start writing reviews!

How do you think you would have fared as a rapper if you had pursued it?
I always wonder this, and I feel I would have done horribly. I can only seem to think of one or two creative ideas at a time and I’m super inconsistent on any real material, haha.

Was writing poems ever an option when you were considering long term careers?
No, not really. It was only ever a hobby for me.

How cathartic was it to write the lyrics you preserved in your folder? How do you feel looking back on them now?
I was born into a religious Mormon household so to hear such passive atheism coming from my favorite singer at the time was crazy! Haha. I feel quite cringy to be honest, some of them I think were pretty cool, but a lot were dumb and over the top.
In fact I was so out of touch with reality that one time during this math test I had with this teacher I couldn’t stand I write down absolutely ridiculous nonsense in the answers like “go kill yourself” or “satan is king” which ended up getting me expelled if I’m not mistaken. I was really messed up back then and I’m just happy I grew into my love for writing and turned it into something proper.

How much of an impact did your Mormon upbringing have on you, and why did you feel you needed to rebel? In what ways did that rebellion shape who you are?
It had a massive impact on me, I mean don’t get me wrong it taught me a whole lot of useful stuff like how to tie a tie, wear a suit, how to be polite, manners etc and there were tons of extra-curricular activities that I really enjoyed.
But for me the toughest part was the censorship of everything, I mean we weren’t even allowed to watch ‘The Simpsons’ growing up let alone South Park or Family Guy.
If it had swearing we had to turn it off, so I had many clashes as a teenager with my music and especially as a moody teenager trying to piss off my parents so my music was extra explicit it’s was just a tough time for me (musically) at least.
But now as I’m older, Me and mum and dad have a super strong relationship and I just don’t bring up music with swearing to them or if I write a review or do an interview with someone with heavy swearing I just tell them beforehand not to tune in or read it, haha.

Were Justin Hunte and Anthony Fantano people you knew personally or artists you admired before you started reviewing?
Unfortunately, I had never met them. To me they were and still are rock stars in their own right and I still hope to meet them one day down the line!

You cover rap and metal on your Facebook profile. Since the late 80s/early 90s rap and metal have often crossed over (Anthrax and Public Enemy, Biohazard and Cypress Hill, Slayer and Ice T etc). Do you consider the two genres compatible?
I definitely think they can be! My top picks are normally Run DMC/Aerosmith – “Walk This Way” and Jay Z/Linkin Park – “Numb Encore”. I feel they showcase the best of both!

What about the way rap lyrics are penned speak to you? Are they similar to lyrics by metal bands?
I’m more fascinated by the wordplay aspect of rap. How many words can they fit to one sentence, how complicated can they make it? How creative? There are just so many ways a rapper can manipulate and work the lyrics; with Metal I’m always interested in the story aspect.
What kind of overall story or vibe can they give off? Cradle Of Filth did an excellent job at conceptual albums by telling these fairytale like fantasy stories in the albums with every song building the narrative stronger! HIM had the best “vibe” incorporated what they dubbed as “Love Metal” by making a name for themselves with moody, larger than life goth ballads. They really spoke to me with how much emotion was made in each song.

How do listeners of rap and metal respond to your reviews? Do you think you’re bridging the gap between both “camps”?
I feel they are very positive! When I write a metal review I tag and share it to all metal communities, but since my group is filled with a mixed bag of tastes you get the occasional reaction or share on a post that differs from their own personal taste! I chalk it down to out of support for my writing, but they could just like to be diverse so there’s that possibility.

Can metal and rap cross over today as when those songs by Run DMC/Aerosmith and Jay Z/Linkin Park were recorded?
I believe it can more than ever! I mean look at artists like Ghostmane, Scarlxrd and Denzel Curry to name a few who are making a career combining the two styles in various ways and it works! Plus you have the “Soundcloud era” of music which often features metal and hip hop influences!

Who are some of the artists you recently reviewed for your profile, and how much notice have the reviews gotten since they’ve been posted?
There was this one duo called Brick Da Foundation. I reviewed their album “Bell X Brick”. After a few days of the review being out, they said, their album appeared on the Apple Music charts! Not sure how much I had to do with that, but they seem to think it was a lot so I’ll take the compliment haha.

Have you considered starting a blog to post your reviews, and possibly expanding to interviewing bands and artists there?
I’m working on a podcast with a close friend who’s also a rapper, so there’s that. But I’m not sure yet I’m always down for anything!

Is there anything you can reveal to the readers about the podcast you’re working on? Is this podcast streaming now or is there a launch date? How did you come up with the idea and what will be aired on it?
At the moment not really, it’s really super into it. All I can say is that it will be featuring a guy called Bailey McLean. He’s a hip hop artist that goes by the name “Bayza” who is an Australian hip hop artist on the rise and a close friend of mine!

How well known a rap artist is Bayza in his home country? Are there sizable rap scenes over there?
Not too well known yet, but big things are on the rise for sure! It definitely has a cult following the Australian Hip Hop Scene, if I had to compare the sound it would be a combination of West Coast production mixed with UK Grime vocal performances. Definitely an acquired taste.

Which internet platforms are you considering airing the podcast on?
That I’m not sure of yet, we will have to wait and see!

Though writing poems was a hobby, if you were to start again, would you consider publishing them in a book or magazine?
Yes, I don’t see why not! If they were good enough, I haven’t tried writing poetry in a while but I’ve always had this concept for a book with this premise: A mysterious foreign man visits a town and comes across a woman who has a whole lot of troubles in her life, and he makes it so that she vents to him and he acts like her psychologist. After every session he converts her troubles into a musical overture, then at the end of the book he presents to the whole town his grant musical overture representing her life, troubles and redemption!

Do you ever think you would start writing that novel you described? Do you know of any publishing companies you would take the finished book to?
I hope I have the opportunity in the future, I would currently say it’s just a pipe dream but I never know what the future holds! And no I haven’t thought that far ahead with it.

You told me recently you’re writing an article to land a position with a major music magazine. Is there anything you can fill the readers in on about this?
Yes! Well I have the possible opportunity to be a freelancer for Rolling Stone Magazine if I can nail this article. It’s a big order but all I can do is put my best foot forward and see what happens!


-Dave Wolff

Monday, May 3, 2021

Full Length Reviews: Misanthropik Torment "Murder Is My Remedy" (Misanthropik Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Misanthropik Torment
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Country: USA
Genre: Blackened death metal
Full Length: Murder Is My Remedy
Format: Digital, vinyl, limited edition CD
Label: Misanthropik Records
Release date: April 1, 2021
Misanthropik Torment is a blackened death metal band founded and fronted by The Leviathan, and to say his music is something the faint of heart and faint of mind should avoid is a massive understatement. MT personifies brutal vengeance and the destruction of human vileness while seeking to educate through the chaos theory, demonstrating how it functions on societal and mental levels. It demonstrates what happens to one’s mental capacity when one is “pushed too far”, requiring thought and meditation as much as a visceral response. The Leviathan’s newest release “Murder Is My Remedy” is as much a call to thought as action, which should possibly be locked away in a vault for its potential to destroy society. Misanthropik Torment’s early material from 2019 was extremely raw and abrasive, apparently intended as a representation of the disorder resulting from propositional incongruity and cognitive dissonance. I’d guess this is where the “seething hatred for the sickness of humanity” theme comes from, the idea that people present an image of being enlightened while behaving in a predatory manner. Expressed in The Leviathan’s early work for MT as an assault on your senses much akin to this cognitive dissonance, this project may be too much to stomach even for fans of the most extreme of extreme music. But its way of addressing human nature is intelligent in its own way though this may not be apparent by first impressions. From 2019 to 2020 to 2021 MT has become more refined and sophisticated as The Leviathan has experimented with tighter songwriting, more precise musicianship, more complex song structure, melodic rhythms, and experimentation with keyboards but there is still something raw and dangerous about it. To “better yourself” philosophically would defeat the purpose, so as much as Misanthropik Torment has matured as musicians and songwriters he has also decided to head in the opposite direction philosophically and conceptually. Keeping their older raw black/death metal influences and the tight crunch and grind added there are some hints of influence in Pantera and the bands that came after them. It may not be completely safe for consumption but it will alter your perception of the world if you allow it to. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Erick Leviathan: Vocals
Josh Freeman: Guitars
James Pasini: Bass
Hector (The Beast): Drums

Track list:
1. Purge
2. Misanthropik Mind
3. King Of Fools
4. M.I.M.R.
5. Sadistic State Of Mind
6. Zero Fucks
7. Benighted & Death
8. The Victim Has Died

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Full Length Review: NoisePoetNobody "Insanity Mirror" (Scry Recordings) by Corban Skipwith

Band: NoisePoetNobody
Location: Seattle, Washington
Country: USA
Genre: Dark ambient, experimental, drone
Full Length: Insanity Mirror
Format: Digital album
Label: Scry Recordings
Release date: April 2, 2021
It’s 8:42pm here in Melbourne Australia, just about to knock off for the night but not before a long-awaited album review so for all of you here is another Bandcamp representative.
*INSANITY MIRROR* by ‘NoisePoetNobody’.
So this is the latest project by experimental artist ‘NoisePoetNobody’. A reoccurring trend for me these days is discovering new artists by the day and this is definitely one of those times, I’ve had no prior knowledge of this person leading up to this album and I’m all the better for it because the best way I can describe this 6 track project is ‘an experience’.
So first off this album flows all together in one, from the opening track to the last minute of the finale it all comes together as one ‘streaming’ piece of music with each song containing its own little waves and bumps along the continuous path that is this album.
To me this feels similar to an album like ‘Rainbow Mirror’ by Prurient in the context of every song is unique but forms together as one sonic consciousness if you will keeping your mind focused and entranced the entire ride. If you were to blend Drone Metal and Noise this would be the result, it’s very bare in its presentation with very minimal production and sounds used throughout the run time but that’s obviously an intentional move by the man to keep the album feeling ‘raw’ and ‘uncomfortable’ giving it that extra ‘awe’ factor so to speak.
With no words or vocal samples, this thing is definitely a go-to for the Drone fans out there, although there isn’t too much grand instrumentation or larger than life choir backgrounds or intense apocalyptic vibes going around it’s still quite the journey, more custom to an indie sound with its use of the ‘less is more’ practice coming into play.
Look, if you’re looking for the most groundbreaking and Sky splitting Drone/Experimental albums this probably won’t do you justice, but what it will deliver is a creative use of the minimalistic tendencies and sound palettes, provides the listener with a creative take on dark ambient music that is equal parts interesting and nerve-racking.
I’ll link the Bandcamp down below, please go support the guy! He’s doing a great job and I’m excited to see what’s to come next from him!
https://noisepoetnobody1.bandcamp.com/album/insanity-mirror. –Corban Skipwith

Lineup:
Casey Chittenden Jones: All instruments

Track list:
1. can't see it now
2. blind light box
3. look at this view
4. your other image
5. ugly bent reflection
6. zero focus angle


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Full Length Review: Bones Of The Earth "II. Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown" (Independent) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Bones Of The Earth
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Country: USA
Genre: Doom/sludge/stoner metal
Full Length: II. Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown
Format: CD, tape dad cassette
Label: Independent
Release date: April 2, 2021
What’s going on everyone!
It’s *METAL TIME* again! And I think it’s time to take it back to a genre I haven’t covered much on here so without any more wasting time, Bones Of The Earth “II. Eternal Meditations of a Deathless Crown”.
So this is the latest album by Bones Of The Earth who is a new band I’ve discovered and I’m all the better for it!
Because among these six tracks you have quite the interesting blend of Sludge Metal/Groove Metal.
So, what they have going on is an album with incredible pacing combining the slow moving elements of Sludge with the also commonly slow elements of Groove to find that little sweet spot in the middle.
Most songs feature these heavy-handed but melodic guitar progressions and methodical drum patterns to sync, some songs would just feature mainly instrumental before any words kick in which gives more of a ‘Progressive’ metal feel I suppose but the sound and production incorporated give it that strong sludge, an apocalyptic vibe that bands such as ‘Eyehategod’, ‘Acidbath’ and early ‘Swans’ are used to its awesome!
Another element of the music is the vocals! With the main singer sounding like his own combination of Phil Anselmo and Henry Rollins. You have that strong in-your-face attitude that both attribute to but also that heavy punk flair that Rollins brings combined with the relentlessness that Phil possessed so all in all a fascinating mixture to have on the record but it works! The more I listen to this project, the more it hits me how well it’s constructed based on all the elements coming together as one!
For a band I just recently discovered, they are really good! They do a great job bringing back to life a prominently lost genre and upgrading it to fit the modern era with heavier instrumentation, devastating vocal performances, and more!
If you’re looking for a consistent, good time then these guys are for you! The link will be below and make sure you go support them!

Lineup:
Raif Box: Bass, vocals
Erik Ebsen: Guitar
Cody Martin: Drums, vocals

Track list:
1. Decline
2. Machine Rising
3. Peaceseeker
4. Inoperable
5. The Empire Never Ended
6. Reclamation


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Full Length Review: Juha Jyrkäs "Sydämeni kuusipuulle" (Earth and Sky Productions) by Dave Wolff

Artist: Juha Jyrkäs
Location: Helinski
Country: Finland
Genre: Kantele folk metal
Format: Digital album, limited edition CD
Label: Earth and Sky Productions
Release date: February 12, 2021
Imagine pagan and folk metal entirely recorded with traditional instruments, and this is what to expect from Juha Jyrkäs’ debut “Sydämeni kuusipuulle”. Jyrkäs is a musician and author from Helinski, Finland who has written short stories, novels and lyrics for the Finnish folk metal band Korpiklaani (Clan of the Wilderness) from 2006 to 2012. For him, the most convincing way to sustain Finland’s cultural origins is to forego writing and composing modern instruments in favor of with the kantele, a traditional Finnish instrument dating 1000 to 2000 years. With the gusli (Russia), the kokle (Latvia) and the kankles (Lithuania) it belongs to the zither instruments of the Baltic Psaltery. Unsure as I am that Jyrkäs is the first musician to record in this manner (who knows how many others are doing so), he is expanding on material extreme metal bands recorded with multi-stringed electric guitars and bass, presenting opportunities for new, over-and-above songwriting techniques. When I listened I got the feeling I get from Loreena McKennitt’s “The Mummer’s Dance” or Sarah Brightman’s “Harem”. Is it metal or world music? In the end it doesn’t seem to matter.You may forget this album has anything whatsoever to do with underground metal as it sounds like an altogether different style of music. If you really become immersed you may find yourself leaving the modern world behind to a distant period when these instruments were first constructed. The ambience created between them and the other instruments employed in this recording (such as jouhikko, bagpipe, saz, mouth harp and various percussion instruments) feels like another world where there’s no compression, iPods or even electronic keyboards. I mean the album was recorded with modern equipment but Aslak Tolonen who did recording, sound engineering, mixing and mastering gave the album enough atmosphere and resonance to make it a macrocosm akin to a piece of history carefully preserved and unaltered by modern sensibilities. One that feels real as opposed to a museum exhibit. “Sydämeni kuusipuulle” goes beyond genre classification; it’s art. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Juha Jyrkäs: Vocals, electric kantele, bass kantele
Pekka Konkela; Percussion
Hittavainen: Violin in “Tulisydän” and “Honkajuurella Asunto”, Estonian bagpipe, saz, mouth harp and backing vocals in “Voimaa”
Milla Asikainen: vocals in “Hämärästä Aamunkoihin”, “Korpien Kutsu”, “Tulisydän” and “Honkajuurella Asunto”
Tero Kalliomäki: Electric jouhikko in “Otson Voima”, “Korpien Kutsu” and “Juhlapäivä”
Gorba The Cat: Purring in “Otson Voima”, “Korpien Kutsu” and “Juhlapäivä”
Avdakeja Andzhigatova: Vocals in Kamass language in “Juhlapäivä”

Track list:
1. Poimotus
2. Kymmenen Kyrvän Nimeä
3. Otson Voima
4. Hämärästä Aamunkoihin
5. Manalan Valtikka
6. Korpien Kutsu
7. Nuole Mua
8. Voimaa
9. Tulisydän
10. Honkajuurella Asunto
11. Juhlapäivä

Monday, April 26, 2021

Full Length Review: Sylvatica "Ashes and Snow" Format: (Satanath Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Sylvatica
Location: Aarhus, Midtjylland / Nyborg/Odense, Syddanmark
Country: Denmark
Genre: Melodic Death/Folk Metal
Full Length: Ashes and Snow
Format: Digital album, compact disc
Label: Satanath Records
Release date: April 20, 2021
While searching Satanath Records’ Bandcamp profile I hoped I stumbled across something worthwhile with Sylvatica’s sophomore full length. What I found was melodic, heroic, and extremely caustic; something like old Amorphis but with twice the conviction and technical capabilities, with some Amon Amarth and Enslaved poured into the cauldron. I got the impression of setting sail through an endless landscape of icebergs, watching the sky, the horizon, and even the water catch fire in the wake of your sailing vessel. The carefully thought out, meticulously arranged, classically tinged intro promises a memorable collection of tracks on the way. “Ashes and Snow” doesn’t disappoint as its consistent heaviness and relentless drumming add infinite weight to its classical and folk/pagan/symphonic elements. It’s a marriage made this side of Valhalla that’s not too overbearing for the unprepared metal fan who hadn’t expected such crushing songs. Sylvatica travels all the way back to 1994/95 and develops the density and thickness of progressive death metal as well as its atmosphere and proficient melody. The deep, guttural, and higher-pitched vocal fry are more than suitable for an album like this, fulfilling the role of a berserker captain leading his throng (represented by the melodic backing vocals) into battle, and the guitar solos are enough to stimulate listeners of Yngwie Malmsteen. All these fundamentals are properly layered and granted as they need to be, coming across as natural results of the songwriting. For a band’s second album, “Ashes and Snow” is presented as a masterpiece, and it’s more than worth a chance if you’re looking for music that’s simultaneously heavy and epic. –Dave Wolff

Lineup:
Jardén Schlesinger: Vocals, guitars
Christian Christiansen: Guitars
Thomas Haxen: Bass, backing vocals
Jacques Harm Brandt Hauge: Drums

Track list:
1. Daybreak Ashes and Snow
2. Pillars of Light
3. Creation
4. Cosmic Strings
5. Helios
6. Halls of Extinction

EP Review: Darsombra "Call The Doctor / Nightgarden" (Independent) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Darsombra
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Country; USA
Genre: Trans-apocalyptic galaxy rock
EP: Call The Doctor / Nightgarden
Format: Digital album
Label: Independent
Release date: April 2, 2021
What’s going on all, I’m back again with another album review!
This time around I’ve discovered one of the most unusual bands yet, and that band is none other than Darsombra and their exclusive EP (that will later be a double album), ”Call The Doctor/Nightgarden”.
So, as with all new music the album cover and track titles can only do so much in helping guess what the album is going to sound or feel like, I’ve heard brutal albums with plain or peaceful album covers, then mellow albums carrying the most disturbing of images it’s all relative and today neither the album cover nor tracklist could have prepared me for what I heard.
For started the first track ‘Call The Doctor’ which is over 14 minutes long has this strange fusion of electronic and Progressive Metal. The best way I could describe it is what would have happened if you combined Daft Punk with someone like Porcupine Tree.
It’s gone the one and only spoken lyrics which is ‘Call The Doctor’ said in this real 80’s Synth Pop style with it almost auto-tuned and lingering in the background.
There are a lot of interesting elements such as the constant guitar riff combined with the future introduction to the electronic elements spoken about earlier, you’ve also got some strange vocal harmonies making the ‘ooooo’ and ‘eeee’ sounds in between certain parts of the song.
The next track ‘Nightgarden’ I feel and the stronger emphasis on the electro/synth sounds as it started off with this prominent Synth chord that follows the track as the guitar follows with stronger and longer riffs and solos.
What’s interesting about this track besides the occasional use of sparkle sounds is at the end there’s this 1 minute lingering of owls in the night, when I was listening to this album I was walking my dog at night so it wasn’t the best time to hear this sound and maybe it wasn’t done on purpose probably just forgot to trim the end of that looping sound effect, or maybe it was I’m not sure either way I can safely say it’s got a strong ‘ambient’ quality to the song, has a more consistent vibe than the first track and it makes you feel like your in a psychedelic experience (someone has to give this a try and see).
Overall, a very creative two tracks, and as said above it’s apparently meant to be a part of a bigger double album and if each track on this album is as long as these two then that will make for quite the lengthy but surely immersive experience!
Link above if you want to go support them! They definitely deserve it! –Corban Skipwith

Lineup:
Brian Daniloski
Ann Everton

Track list:
1. Call The Doctor (Sun Side)
2. Nightgarden (Moon Side)


Friday, April 23, 2021

Single Review: Desaster "Learn To Love The Void" (Metal Blade Records) by Corban Skipwith

Band: Desaster
Location: Koblenz, Rhineland-Palatinate
Country: Germany
Genre: Black/death/thrash metal
Single: Learn To Love The Void
From their upcoming full length “Churches Without Saints” to be released on Metal Blade Records June 4, 2021
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release date: April 13, 2021
What’s going on everyone I’m back with another absolute banger!
This time it comes from the band ‘Desaster’ and the track is ‘Learn To Love The Void’.
I’ll tell you now, as with all new bands I discover I never know what to expect in terms of sound, deliver, performance etc but I can tell you now what I WASN’T EXPECTING was a Death/Thrash Metal fusion that would blow me away!
First of all the vocal performances are insane in the best way possible! The vocalist brings out the best in the track with his ‘mad’ delivery of psychotic laughed and maniac and depraved screaming and death growls! It really helps you stay invested in the track the whole way through and leaves you wanting more!
The next thing great about this song is the instrumentation! Combining the elements of Death Metal and Thrash metal it’s the kind of sound that would give early run Cannibal Corpse a run for their money!
So all together with the key elements of
-Fast and Heavy instrumentation
-Monstrous vocal performances
-Killer production and tempo
It all makes up for one of the most exciting and blood pumping metal songs I’ve heard all year!
If you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend you do so! Great job guys! –Corban Skipwith

Lineup:
Sataniac: Vocals
Infernal: Guitars
Odin: Bass
Hont: Drums


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Single Review: Auld "Hollow Mews" (Eschatonic Records) by Ashara Armand

Band: Auld
Location: Canberra
Country: Australia
Genre: Folk black metal
Single: Hollow Mews
From their upcoming EP “...of Petrichor and I” to be released on Eschatonic Records May 5, 2021
Format: Digital, streaming
Label: Eschatonic Records
Release date: April 15, 2019
I will not bullshit you. Everyone has a reason to write a song. Everyone has a reason to write anything, basically. We all have those moments where we want to write something and get it out of our system. The words itself sound like an outcry. You can feel the tension in the writing. You can feel that someone was trying to get something off of the chest. This is a band that I never heard of before. I have always been hesitant to listen to new music. If it's not something that I'm really pulled into by hearing the first few chords. I was surprised. I didn't think I would like it. But I do. We have come to a point that during this pandemic we have to try new things, despite our opinions. Despite any opinion from any individual. When you go through a phase of self-discovery, go through the self-discovery of finding music. They say music cures the soul.
Having your own soundtrack is important. Does it matter what song it is, as long as it sounds good? As long as it's for the moment that you find yourself in a deep hole and that one song gets you out of it. It inspires you to uplift yourself. Maybe this is a song that you go to that you are experiencing grief or anger. You just want to throw things. You want to hear breaking glass. Sometimes you need a fantastic scream. Not everything has to be negative. Society takes music to a different aspect sometimes. It will get misconstrued. People's opinions take a different turn. It's because they want something to complain about. That's the actual reality. It's always about something, but they don't like or what they don't understand. It's not really about understanding for the reason of someone's artistic value or their Vibes. It's because they wanted to write it and they wanted to get something out there. It was because at the moment it sounds good. Sometimes your hand leads you across the paper and the words just pour out. It's better to pour out than be missed. I think you should get that one moment of creativity you just have to run with it you have to go with it in order to really feel. The inspiration inside of you.
Sometimes the pain is the best inspiration. When you feel voiceless, the only thing you can do is write things down because you are your only Outlet, the book in your hand is the only out like you have to keep from screaming. Or lashing out at somebody. But this is my opinion. You can take it how you want it. It really doesn't matter. It's what your perception really tells you. You can listen to the song in form of an opinion all your own. No one is holding a knife to your neck. Listen to it.
I am grateful that I came across this song. Teaches me about somebody else's methods. This tiny piece has potential. It's a respectable piece. It has menacing vibes. But who doesn't like that type of shit nowadays? I hope you like the song. I wish the band all the success in the world. They have an extreme amount of talent. –Ashara Armand

Lineup:
Daniel Weber
Arron O’Cearbhaill
Joshua Smith-Roberts
Craig Novak

Interview with Ted Axe by Dave Wolff

Interview with Ted Axe by Dave Wolff

Your first band The Action has been referred to as Canada’s first punk band, and opened for The Ramones and The Stranglers getting a great deal of press. They’re also said to have imploded after releasing one EP. Do you sometimes regret this band didn’t achieve greater success?
Every day! But they say the first sign of aging is when your dreams turn to regrets. I am focused on the future and not the past. In terms of recognition, I am sure it would've helped me open doors in the music industry afterwards. I was also hell-bent on self-destruction at the time though so I think the success I craved would've gone straight to my head which was already too big trying to prove I was a punk. Got no time for regrets! I am one of the only ones from that time doing something new.

You have been referred to as a provocateur in zines and webzines. What is your personal definition of this term? Do you feel there remains a need for one?
A provocateur is someone who provokes. I am a performer that excites rather than incites. I am an entertainer who entertains, who puts on a show. I have new songs but my influences are from The Golden Age of Rock and Roll. My fangs call me The “Count of Rock” and I am bringing back the rock and roll fantasy. In the early days of The Action, I fancied myself the Malcolm McLaren of Canada and fed the press what they wanted to hear. It brought people to the gigs. Everyone wanted to see the crazy stage antics of Ted Axe! Is there a need for a provocateur now? Well, music is stale. Rock is dead. There needs to be Ted Axe the provocateur to bring it back to life.

What is killing true rock in the mainstream and how would Ted Axe repair the damage?
6/If we listen to what is on the radio, we hear music. Rap that used to be dangerous when it first started is bland and artificial and cliché. What lies at the bottom of the mainstream is crap. Everybody wants to be a singer and everyone now has the power to be a celebrity. Look at the term influencers and how they have millions of followers and do even public meet n greets. Only problem in they can't have an invisible face tune with them so their fans become disenfranchised once they see what they really look like. Then the “influencer” will get plastic surgery, filler etc to make them look more the way they do on Instagram and tic toc. Rock has faded into the nostalgia radio playlists and metal has taken its place. It all depends on an individual's definition of ''true rock''. Metal has become boring though (to me I'm saying) with the usual cliché guitar sound and white faces, Satanic fonts and occult symbols ext. What is true rock besides Ted Axe? Iggy when he was in The Stooges, The New York Dolls, MC5, Alice Cooper when he was with The Alice Cooper Band before “Welcome to My Nightmare”. The Sex Pistols who's demo was produced by Chris Spedding who did my demo in LA in the 90s. And many more of course but all from that era. Digital recording killed Rock many years ago and that's why I recorded “Sex, Horror, Violence” on two inch tape in an all analog studio ion a Neve board. Ted Axe is already changing all the boredom with “Sex, Horror, Violence”. My producer is on the same page musically so it worked out. I do all the guitar work on the album and played all the bass and drums on the track “Heaven” which was the first track we recorded at the studio. I play Ted Axe right down to the hilt. Black nail polish, half-cocked top-hat, black leather trench coat and Cuban high-heeled beetle boots .Raccoon eyes and sometimes dried blood purple gothic lipstick. The Count of Rock has risen.

What was punk when you started your musical career, and how many changes has it undergone since then? Was The Action actually the first punk band from Canada or were there others? How did Canadian punk differ from the US and England?
I went to London in '76.It was the start of Punk and it was extreme! (The beginning of any movement is extreme) King's Road, once the promenade of long-haired satin-clothed 70's rock stars, had given way to tribes of leather-jacketed punks with multi-colored patches of close-cropped hair and Mohawks. It was the actuality of the song Diamond Dogs by David Bowie. There was only one of club that had punk bands-The Oxford Club and I saw The Vibrators open for The Jamir was violent. I went to the loo and there was skinhead with a trench coat and a nazi armband who started singing “Surf City USA” when he saw my Peter Frampton-like blond curls. The Damned had “New Rose” on the radio. It was the first Punk song on the radio. It was mostly a very young male audience and they would be slam dancing and pogoing up near the stage. The first punks however did not wear leather jackets but instead they wore long Teddy Boy jackets. London was long overdue for a change. I went through my money fast and the Gibson Les Paul Jr I brought with me got nicked right away. “Why did ya come here Mate?” the taxi driver asked me on the way from the airport to the hotel. Every second bloke plays guitar!'' he said. I starved on a diet of beer, English Acid and Hovis and Drippins (a mealy English bread and bacon grease) ending up in a squat in Sheppard's Bush with some insane methadone addicts and a craggy bearded long-hair with an advanced case psoriasis who insisted on getting me in a headlock every time he saw me. If you put a piece of hash under your pillow, it would be gone in the morning. I sold my stereo to get back to Canada and joined The Action. There was no punk scene in Canada that I was aware of at the time. I invited the TV stations down to our practice place (affectionately known as “The Pit” and I made sure there was ton of garbage on the ground for them to wade through. We had a couple of groupies watching and I bought fake blood for them to spew out of their mouths during our song “Do The Strangle”. That night we were on the 6 PM news in the nation's capital. It was a laff watching myself giving the finger to the cameras as I mugged for the press. When we played rednecks had no idea what to do or how to react! They had heard that to dump beer on us and spit was the thing to do and they did not know how to react to our songs with titles like “TVs on the Blink” and “Do The Strangle”. We played a high school in the sticks on Halloween and I called the papers to exaggerate my stage antics. The next day the lurid headline screamed “Obscene Action Raise School's Ire!” We were starting to get known. There were other bands starting but they didn't start to make a noise until 1977 and mostly all were in Toronto. We were the first. We came out of Ottawa, the very dull capital city and seat of government. The only true punk scene as far as I could see was the one I had witnessed in London. We were the house band at The Rotters Den in Ottawa that started to develop a punk scene but kids would be driven there by their parents and bring punk clothes in a bag and get dressed and made up in the bathroom. In Toronto, Crash and Burn started and more punk bands started. The US had a similar punk start, mostly copying the UK one. The Ramones were like The Beach Boys on speed and when they played in London every future punk star was in the audiences.

What were your experiences sharing the stage with The Ramones and The Stranglers at the beginning of their careers? When you performed with those bands, did you have a feeling it was the beginning of something that would have such an impact?
When we opened for the North American debut performance of The Stranglers at a High School in Ottawa, one could sense the adrenaline in the crowd. We promptly nicked all their beer from their dressing room while they were onstage and their road manger was not amused! I remember that we tuned their guitar for them before they went on. We got signed to a small label that actually put a logo of a safety pin on the sleeve of our EP which we told them to take off. That pioneered EP format in Canada and it was the size of an album but was meant to be played at 45 RPM and a lot of people played it a 33! When we got the Ramones tour we started in Flint Michigan. Joey at one point near the end of their set lost his voice and mimed the words while DD sang lead. Johnny was a task master and mean to the others. He was the leader. I learned from him about focus while on stage. Most everyone in the audience thought they were brothers. I had the sense of more insanity happening near the stage it was all poseur-like compared to The UK scene. Joey had OCD; a lot of people don't know. I never thought of it having an impact on the world like it did as I was drinking all the time and would go off like a rocket on stage!

After The Action disbanded, what made you want to continue writing and recording as an artist? How long did it take you to found another band?
After The Action, I moved to Toronto in the back of a Taxi cab with my cat and girlfriend for 100 dollars cab fare. We got a place next to insane asylum because of the cheap rent and I started the band Khroma Key with my girlfriend. We were a duo. I finally could write new stuff and it came out like sped up Bowie and became more like Bauhaus as it got darker towards the end. It was the 80s but the stuff I was writing was pretty sophisticated. I called it Cryptic Funk. At one point I remember going to CBS Records and meeting an A&R guy who said that my girlfriend sounded too angry and that she should sing more like Madonna. It only took a year before we were playing out in the clubs and now Punk was pretty much over. Again however, the scene in Canada was a pale comparison to the 80s scene in London. Canada is a copycat nation. There is an old joke that goes something like...How many Torontonians does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Four...Three to screw it in and one to go to New York to make sure it's done properly! Canada eats it's young. You need to be successful in America before you get respect or taken seriously otherwise they will ignore you and back then at least you had to go gold in Canada to even be released in The States.

Punk may have ended in the mainstream in the 80s, or became new wave, but it remained underground to the present. How did Khroma Key sustain punk as you remember it?
Khroma-Key was all about style. We looked good, very high quiffs (courtesy of Final Net Extra Super hold), tight pleathure jackets and cheekbone city. Having virtually no money meant no food and a quarter ounce of Hash + we would snort diet pills which was like cheap speed.(uppers).The music was brash but original and did not follow the cliché 80's drum machine, synth and Bowie wannabe vocal. I sounded very punk whether we were doing pseudo-mid-eastern 60's like secret agent riffs on a cheap guitar or playing African fela Kuti Manu Dubango like cryptic funk riffs. We both shared the vocals as a duo and I remember an A&R guy from CBC Records who came to see us asked why does she have to be so angry...she should sound more like Madonna.(Probably because “she” could never hear the monitors) but Toronto was very industrial back in 1981 and bleak... and tough. We were constantly berated and in some instances attacked by rednecks and college jocks at night for the way we looked. I was attacked on the last crowded subway home from a show and no one did anything. My lyrics were all different depending on each theme but I remember my song Alienation in which I referred to us as “We the wretched of your nation have no homes except some trip/ Alienation where we kiss”. It was all very romantic and Parissien chic punky sophistication. We didn't dress up. We lived i.e. hated our new home and longed to go to New York or Europe. We found Toronto to be too dull and provincial. We didn't relate. We were not ambitious and we were kinda anti-social. It was more important to be different from everyone else and we also didn't like the Canuck music industry. We were rebels without a cause you might say but beautiful rebels.

Many clubs that hosted punk had to call it a day because of rising rent or Covid. But as a result, bands have gone DIY with free internet streaming. Is this relatively the same in Canada?
I myself have not done a live stream. I think they make an artist look bad. The ones I have seen from homes... well who wants to see the singer/band in their living rooms standing stationary on his carpet. With one camera angle, there is a lack of production value. They bore me and I don't think they work for Ted Axe. I have my own fog machine affectionately dubbed “Sparky” that I take with me to every show and our light guy uses horror-flick lighting to get “The Count of Rock” ambiance and dark vampire atmosphere. The clubs here have now been prohibited to do live streaming because of a brutal resurgence of the pandemic. What good is a concert without an audience reacting though really? I think getting people to pay to view these events is a rip off.

How much or little has the club closings been a detriment to independent music? What would remedy the situation of there being fewer places to play?
Clubs closing means fewer places to play and it has had a huge impact on the scene here. Today the government doc just issued a statement saying that outdoors is a very hard place to catch this so I would have to say outdoor festivals. But again contagion risks go up with crowds and rock festivals. It is a very hard thing to monitor especially with drugs and alcohol fueling crowds.

How often has the band gotten to perform amid the Covid restrictions of the past two years?
We have not played since March 2020.I am getting antsy being off stage but have still played my Dambouke mid-eastern drum in the park all through the winter which is like performing in a sense. It has also afforded me a spiritual yet musical outlet.

Where was your band most often playing before the Covid outbreak? Was your draw increasing each time you performed?
The Ted Axe Band started playing out in Feb 2019 at The Opera House, perhaps Toronto's oldest and one of its most prolific venues. Like an old Opera House (I saw Gary Numan there), it suited the Vampire vibe. There are some vids of this show up. We had a tremendous crowd and we were opening for 3 tributes. People were blown away as they all thought we'd been playing for years together. Starting somewhat tentatively, I soon took control of the show once I felt that surge of energy coming back to me from the audience who totally got into i.e. then started playing a lot at a club that has a lot of these tribute acts play. The crowd is mostly into classic Rock and Heavy Metal. My music, one DJ told me, has almost created its own genre but I disagree. To me it is just dark hard rock. It has turned out to be perfect for this massive club and its clientele....Mostly blue collar long haired rockers and their girlfriends. It's kinda Neanderthal but no one said Rock is pretty. Reminds me of the 70s in fact except they are all a bit older now! We have opened for all these tributes and when This American band with the makeup came around-Wed 13, we were a natural support for them. So now having paid our dues, we are moving to play support for original recording acts like Wednesday 13 who are a bit Mansonish. In Toronto, I have the only band like mine. I am influenced by Alice except I am cuter according to my Fangs. Which is what our draw has been growing steadily. I have about 5000 Ted Axe Fangs in my Ted Axe Fangs Group on Facebook and 1000 in my new Ted Axe Band Fan Club. This is constantly growing and the two groups are mostly all female. My Daddy always told me “Just sing to the ladies and you'll be alright!”

Flash forward to the formation of your solo project and the making of your debut album. Firstly were there any specific happenings in your life that were an inspiration to the lyrics? Did the lyrics come first or the songs you composed?
Music always comes first...a riff. The riff is crucial. I have a review by a magazine that says “Riffs that kill. Looks that thrill”-BallBuster Magazine. I am all about the riff and with all the good ones taken, it’s not that easy to come up with a great original riff. Then a chorus and I like bridges and/or middle 8s so that comes third in the process. Then a few words here and there which may lead to a story which will take me to a chorus and bridge and an outro. I like recording on cassette tape (if it was good enough for John Lennon, it works for me).Words are scrawled almost in shorthand on paper and of course editing and re-editing those first ideas without losing the crux or watering it down. Inspiration comes from different places. If we look at the songs on the album...“Get Out of Rehab” (perhaps the hit of the album as proven by its popularity with DJs and fans on radio) it is about a dude I met in the park I live near that is close to the areas main rehab. This guy had escaped that morning and he had a case of beer early on Sunday morning. He walked up to me as I was playing my Djembe drum in the park and sat down next to me. I sensed he was harmless (but I do get some crazies playing my drum in a public park at strange hours) and he told me he got fed up because they did not allow him to smoke cigarettes) so he flew the coup. Well the second line of the tune mentions this and so it goes on and the conversation, (at least that which I could remember although I jotted it all down when I got home that day) comes out in the verses. Also the possible danger is captured in the song. “Death Us Do Apart” (Both “Rehab” and “Death Us Do Apart” are videos on Youtube) is a song about marriage gone bad and uses the vows of marriage as its main theme. In it the bride “wears a smile”, because she knows she has trapped the groom in the institution of holy matrimony. Nuthin At All is about an ex bandmate and ''My Own Worst Nightmare'' is self-descriptive and “Hurt People” is about someone who is hurt who in turn hurts other people. “I Don't Want To” is self-descriptive and again the song is a situation I have lived through repeatedly. “Mother's Day” is about my brutally abusive and cruel mother (God rest her unforgiving soul) and “Heaven” is a song about someone missing someone who has passed. Once walking past a newspaper box in downtown Toronto years and years ago, a headline glared out at me from the front page- “Sex, Horror, Violence.” It screamed and I always remembered that as those three words touch are most base emotions. I used a few stories I'd head on the news recently and I became the killer in the car about to commit a serious crime. TMI means too much information and describes an ex co-worker I had major problems with and who eventually got me fired. (I have had a terrible time working in strait jobs) until of course before I became rich and famous.

Were the musicians you worked on the album with people you worked with previously, or did you find them while seeking a new band to record with?
I finally got a band to perform the album onstage, it was through a bassist who works in a high profile Kiss tribute band (who has since left) and he introduced me to Toronto drummer Stefan Ford who was working with Toronto's main Ozzy Osbourne tribute. It went on like that and now I have Marcel LaFluer on lead guitar who has been around since 1979 and who I have known for years. Bassist Corrado Bartolo and Rhythm/lead guitarist “Jules” Julio Biafore are the new guys and have only done two shows with the band before the plague. We were able to play frequently in 2019 and in Jan, Feb and March 2020 and then everything stopped. I have hit on a great way to play in front of massive audiences and that is to be the support for the city's biggest tribute bands. We have opened for Kiss, Motley Crue, Guns n Roses, Thin Lizzy, Megadeth and Ozzy tributes to name a few. The audiences have loved us and dug the tunes! Is this Punk? you might ask...having an original band open for tribute bands...well I think it is because we come out and hit hard with mid-tempo rockers that bulldoze the crowd into submission and we get huge audiences and paid well unlike other original bands who have to settle for whatever the cat drags in playing in rooms that may not have the large stages or lights and sound needed to put a band over.

Talk about the making of your two promotional videos. Who filmed and produced them, where were the locations, what equipment was used etc.
'I wanted to do a video for “Get Out of Rehab”. I did not have a band in place yet. I just looked for people who were offering their services online and found one guy whose stuff I liked more than any of the others. He had experience and he was in his late twenties, early thirties. He shot it on his phone! I shot it in our rehearsal space. It’s just me and my reflection which actually makes it look like two people. Of course we are all two people...the “normal” one and the addiction. During editing the videographer was a whiz kid...fast and we edited in McDonald’s burger joint in China Town. The whole thing and process is so punk because of all this and because it cost 100 dollars plus 40$ for the room! For ''Death Us Do Apart'' I put a different ad in and again I chose someone who was not from here...a Polish cat Michael Novalski. We shot on his tiny vintage video camera in a large graveyard on a beautiful spring day. With no band or extras, the inhabitants of the graveyard and all their graves lent a certain beautiful and gothic ambiance to the video. “Get Out of Rehab” was black and white and “Death Us Do Apart” is colour. We edited on his phone just like “Rehab” was edited. I kept on pushing him to use as many creative edits and wild effects and at one point in the vid, I am singing and shape-shifting at the same time. It’s like taking acid for 3 and a half minutes. Total cost-$350. Its guerilla warfare and videos are not about the money but about the creativity. I really don't like typical videos with a model ext...So cliché or all slow motion...again so overused in rap and rock. So the dark rehearsal space with its staircases, hallways and mirrors in a sense became Rehab and the graveyard became a symbol for the institution of marriage!

Where have you posted your videos and how has the response been since they were premiered?
“Death Us Do Apart” - https://youtu.be/ftNWtz9RP5Y
“Get Out of Rehab” - https://youtu.be/t4g9MHfknv0
Fangtastic response. Reviewed in England positively on a British video review show and a ton of views each.I still love watching both and would not have done anything differently.Videos are ridiculously expensive and they do not have to be. My videos are a testament to this. This is the crux of today’s Instastar mentality. How many of the new crop of pop stars and so called influencers actually have true rockstar charisma. The kind that drew us to Bowie, Hendrix, Morrison? You can have a ton of likes but that does not mean anything anymore. We live in a world where Madonna's daughter showing her armpit hair in a selfie with her increasingly bizarre-looking mother makes world news and anything Kardashian supercedes the most urgent world events on the news.

Are you planning to produce more videos from “Sex, Horror, Violence” in the coming months? If so, what songs are you considering?
I have been looking at “My Own Worst Nightmare” for the next video which I am already doing pre-production on. It will be completely different than the last two.

What ideas do you have in mind for the “My Own Worst Nightmare” video? How will it differ from your last two videos?
I wish I could divulge the concept but that would be telling and my Fangs would not want me to let it out of the coffin yet! It is going to be a Nightmare! It will be more surreal and there will be a cast of characters.

Are there any established underground/independent labels interested in signing you, or do you prefer to keep promoting your work independently for the time being?
We have been scouted at our last show by a great label that wants to see more. We can't wait for these lockdowns to lift so we can get back at tithe involvement with a heavy label can greatly boost your visibility so I am interested in signing with another label.

For future releases, would you consider basing lyrics on bigger world events as well as personal experiences? How do you think your audience would respond to this?
My next release will feature my new recording “Will We Get Out Of Here” which is about this current plague but also about a toxic relationship at the same time. My audience will love this song as it is very moving and shows a different side and voice of Ted Axe. However, it does rock hard! It will be on the new “Count Of Rock” album that we will resume work on asap!

How soon do you expect the next full length to be released? Will this also be in digital format or are you also planning to release it on CD?
As soon as I can safely get back into the analog studio with my producer and the studio owner I will resume recording. There are four tracks already done and just need vocals and a mix. I have been writing new material and there will six more tunes as well as the four I have done tracks for already. It will be called ''The Count of Rock'' and signifies the merging of image and songs. I would love to say I anticipate a Halloween 2021 release but can't speculate what will happen here in Canada in the coming months. It’s a tough position to be in but also one that gives me recording to look forward to when this surging is over. I have been keeping track of my band's vaccination progress as well as that of my recording team because am focused on the future. CDs, shirts and decals are all in the plans as well as vinyl.

What kind of an impression do you want to leave on the punk and heavy rock worlds? Do you see yourself eventually leaving this impression in the long haul?
I am just starting to see the potential and the effect my album “Sex, Horror, Violence” and my new album “The Count Of Rock” could have on the rock world. Right now, I just thank today for being alive! We are in the middle of a deadly pandemic that civilization has not seen the likes of for quite some time. Every day I tell myself to C'mon try a little harder...nothing is forever. I have been going through a phase in which I just wanted to get it heard by as many as possible and have them make their own minds up if they like it. Success means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To one person getting 1000 streams on their Spotify will be the single greatest day of their lives. I would love to have that ''gone but never forgotten'' thing but who does anymore? The way you talked about my album in your review reinstated things I hoped someone would see in it and for that I thank you. I felt like a god damned prophet after reading it! We would all want to leave a lasting impression on our worlds. You, on the world of writing no doubt and me on the worlds of music, art and poetry but isn't it better to be remembered for positive virtues as a decent human being? One who's made a difference where it counts...with helping animals and all living things rather than destroying. I am not satisfied with my current status in the rock world if that's what you’re asking but then who is? I have heard a famous person say that they were happier before they were famous. You can't be popular all the time. When they asked Freddie Mercury how he'd like to be remembered, he simply said “I'll be gone...what do I care?”

With his new self-release SEX, HORROR, VIOLENCE produced by Rob Sanzo (Sum 41), and mastered by LA Rock icon, Jack Atlantis, Ted is getting world-wide radio-play and recognition. He is currently performing dates in Canada and The US with his new band-Corrado Bartolo-Bass, Stefan Ford-Drums, Marcel LaFleur-Lead Guitar and Julio Biafore - Rhythm Guitar.
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Video for “Get Out of Rehab” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4g9MHfknv0
Video for “Death Us Do Part” - hhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftNWtz9RP5Y
"Riffs that kill combined with a look that thrills are a no better way to describe Ted Axe. A seasoned Veteran who has trekked the world and accumulated an outstanding list of accomplishments in the process that will make even the harshest of Critics say 'Wow!'" - Now Magazine

-Dave Wolff