Saturday, June 12, 2021

Interview with Erik Leviathan of Misanthropik Torment by Dave Wolff

Interview with Erik Leviathan of Misanthropik Torment

As every album by Misanthropik Torment does, your latest album “Murder is my Remedy” goes beyond traditional extreme metal into what many would consider uncomfortable territory.
“Murder is my Remedy” is by far the best work Misanthropik Torment has released. I myself do not feel as though it is considered uncomfortable territory. Some of the topics may be uncomfortable to most people, but these are topics that the world needs to face. Ignoring the issues will not make them go away. We make music that we ourselves want to hear. We are not trying to win any popularity contests, otherwise, we would have written something along the lines of Nickleback. Misanthropik Torment is meant to entice uncomfortable emotion; it’s meant to make the listener angry, to make them think deeper than what the leaders of this docile world would want them to. It’s time we all open our eyes and speak up.

Did you found Misanthropik Torment out of an urge to address uncomfortable subject matter through the medium of extreme metal?
I've always been in pursuit of a career in Extreme Metal. It’s always been my own personal therapy. What better way to address these uncomfortable topics to the world than Extreme Metal? I mean these topics are extreme so I think it fits. I'm sure that I am not the only musician who has addressed uncomfortable topics with their music. I mean the 80s were all about uncomfortable topics. Take Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime” for example or even the early 90s Korn albums. They were all about uncomfortable issues that as a society we all face. The problem is no one actually wants to face them. We all know they exist, but it’s just easier for most to turn the other way until it becomes their problem. And that is the problem.

What leads to people’s indifference about the issues you address? Do people think they can’t change anything for the better or not care as long as it doesn’t affect them?
That’s really a loaded question with many answers. The world has always had these issues. The problem is that most people have become complacent with these issues because they have been conditioned to believe that they can't do anything about them. So most believe it’s better to just not acknowledge the ugly truth. Some believe if they ignore it long enough it will go away and sadly that’s not the case. And I am here to put that ugly truth in everyone's face. I am here to make people face the demons of society. Everyone says they want to change the world. But you can't do that by not facing the ugly truth. And that truth is, most of society is just as sick as the filth that they rebuke.

Considering the personal nature of MT’s concept, was the band ever a solo vehicle for you or did you always intend to find like-minded members to work with?
Misanthropik Torment started out as a solo project. I collaborated with a band called Ritual Burning out of Chicago, Illinois. In early 2018 Misanthropik Torment's first single “The Devil Made Me Do It” was introduced to the world. Ritual Burning really liked the track and featured it on their album. The track itself was written about pedophile priests who were exonerated for their crimes claiming the devil made them do it. The point of the song is, could I kill them and claim the devil made me do it and be exonerated as well? Back on topic. Throughout the short time Misanthropik Torment has been in existence, I have gone through several lineup changes. I almost just accepted that I was going to be a solo artist forever. I would if that was my fate. I am an artist I have to create. However, I love being on stage and you can't do that alone.

What is the lineup of MT at the time of this writing? Was hiring other musicians a transition from writing and composing solo?
Josh Freeman and I wrote this album. At first, it was just us. After we released it, it got a lot of attention to the point we had to find other musicians. We knew this was something we had to perform live. I hated being a solo artist for many reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that most people in the metal scene do not take you seriously as a solo artist. And Misanthropik Torment has a message that needs to be taken seriously.

Are you seeking musicians through flier spreading or advertising on social media or both? Are you willing to settle for local musicians from your area or are you willing to work with musicians who can travel?
In the beginning, I searched high and low for local musicians for this project. Kentucky doesn't really have a huge death metal or extreme metal scene and the musicians who do play this genre are already in bands. So I had to step outside the box to find the musicians I have now. I'm pretty happy with who Misanthropik Torment is now. I don't foresee any lineup changes in the near future.

Where outside Kentucky did you go to complete the lineup? Who are the musicians in the band and how well do your work together writing and practicing?
Josh Freeman is from Alabama. We actually met through my label. Josh has his own project "There is only one Elvis" in early 2020 he had hired my company to promote his solo project. At that time I had gone from having a full band to being solo again myself so it was kind of perfect timing. After I heard his music I immediately wanted to work with him so I ran the idea of him coming on to Misanthropik Torment and he was definitely on board with the idea. For this album, Josh wrote all the music and then we went on a quest to find other musicians who could play the music that he wrote.
Our drummer Hector Del-Rosario is from Georgia. He and I met a couple years ago through an online metal club. So when I approached him with the idea of playing drums for Misanthropik Torment he was in. Mat and Phil had previously worked with Josh so it made sense to bring them on. The process of finding the right components for this machine has been quite a journey.

How much material do you have out to date? What topics has MT covered on past releases and what is covered on “Murder is my Remedy”?
Misanthropik Torment has ten albums out as of now. We are currently working on our second album as a band titled #KillYourLocalPedophile. Our previous albums are “Rebel Against The Establishment PBTTP”, “Purification”, “A Decade Of Endurance”, “The Black Death”, “May They Rot In Hell”, “The 10th Law”, “Misanthropik Tilbury”, “Down The Rabbit Hole Of All Plausibility” and “Murder Is My Remedy”. These albums cover topics of oppression from governments, how we as a society are spoon-fed what we should or should not believe. Basically, the division that is programmed into us all from the moment we learn to understand. Other topics are obviously about murdering the monsters of this world. Vigilante justice. Also, there is the need to cleanse me of the filth that I have spiritually accumulated over the years and to rid myself of this misanthropy. “Murder Is My Remedy” touches on my need my desire to eradicate this world of rapists and pedophiles. It also touches on topics about how everyone wants to rule the world of ignorance. Then there is a track that I felt the need to write that is just telling quite a few people off who seem to believe that what I stand for is a joke. As I said music is my therapeutic outlet.

Are all of Misanthropik Torment’s albums independently released, or are some of them being distributed through independent labels? How much of a task has it been to seek a steady label for distribution and promotion?
I had created my own label for distribution. Misanthropik Records Promotion and More LLC. So being able to get the music out there has never been an issue. However, there is only so far I can take this project on my own. And as crazy as this may sound, we want Misanthropik Torment to be as big as Cannibal Corpse one day. So we are looking for bigger labels However because of my harsh bluntness I have made most of social media hate me. So that is going to be an uphill battle considering that nowadays making it anywhere is more about winning a popularity contest than speaking the truth.

What resources did you found Misanthropik Records Promotion and More LLC on in the beginning? How much has the label grown since you started it?
Misanthropik Records Promotion and More LLC were formed with some pretty basic resources. I mean I had been doing everything myself from booking shows and tours to creating my own CDs and booklets etc. It wasn't really that hard to start the label. I had made a lot of good connections with all the right people both local and global. People supported what I was doing. Then there are also some who don't support what I am doing. But all in all my main resource is my willingness to step outside the box. In today's digital age one has to go about this industry in ways no one has thought of before.
Now three years later Misanthropik Records Promotion and More LLC is thriving as much as any small independent label can. We have taken a lot of hits for some reason other companies see us as a competitive entity, however, we don't view this as a competition. We are all racing towards the same end goal. I prefer to build bridges to keep the scene alive and undivided by egos and such.

Is Misanthropik Records mainly a vehicle for your band or are you interested in signing other bands from the US and abroad?
Misanthropik Records has twenty-seven bands that we have signed. We represent bands from all over the globe. Misanthropik Records has been a great vehicle for my own band, but like I say to every band on this label. We are a startup label. Our job is to get bands noticed by bigger labels than us. And that is what I want for every band including mine. Misanthropik Torment, we want to go the distance we want to reach the same level of success as Cannibal Corpse.

Name some of the bands on your label, the material they have out, and explain why you would recommend them to the readers.
One of my favorite bands on the Misanthropik Records roster is WhatDrivesTheWeak. These guys are very easy to work with. And they are super talented. Sometimes I sit back and ask myself why are these dudes on my label, they should be on Metal Blade or some other big label. I would recommend this band for anyone who enjoys brutal deathcore.

Give the readers some background information about WhatDrivesTheWeak, and how you signed them to your label. How much material do you handle from them?
WhatDrivesTheWeak is a super talented Deathcore band from Grayson Kentucky. These guys really wowed me with their album Lightbringer, when they first sent the album to me they were not signed to Misanthropik Records. In fact, it wasn't till a year later that they signed to the label. This band is one of the hardest-working bands that I have had the pleasure of working with and some of the coolest people that I am honored to call my friends. Right now they are in the process of finishing up their second album to be released through Misanthropik Records by the end of the year. So be on the lookout for that. Anyone who has not listened to their music all I can say is, well they should!

Name some of the other bands you would recommend from your label. Are you still seeking bands to sign?
My top five bands that I would recommend are WhatDrivesTheWeak, Ash to Dust, Shades of Raven, Wolfstar, December Screams Embers.
At this time Misanthropik Records Promotion and More LLC is not signing any new bands. The company took a huge hit with the Pandemic and now we are just trying to financially recover. For now, Misanthropik Records Promotion and More LLC is working as a Promotion and booking company until we can fully recover from 2020.

Are you in touch with independent labels from the States or other countries? Have you collaborated with any of those labels?
Nic Himes runs his label Skull Face Records out here in Kentucky. We did a compilation CD a couple years ago with bands from my label and his label. I also work with Envenomed Music from Ukraine. Really I will work with almost anyone. As I said before to me this is not a competition. I want to see us all succeed.

How many copies of the compilation were printed when it came out, and how much notice did it get your label and Skull Face Records?
There were only forty copies printed. It was a small run. Considering that we are two small local labels the notice was mostly from local artists.

Do you read newspapers or watch news programs to research your lyrics, or are other mediums at your disposal such as social media?
I don't need to. My inspiration comes from what I see in the world. How I feel about corruption and pedophiles. My own abuse as a child. All I need to do is remember.

Who writes your lyrics, and how often do they speak to your listeners that you know of?
I write all the lyrics. I feel as a vocalist it’s important to write your own lyrics. To mean that means you are real. When I find out a band that I like didn't even write their own songs I'm disappointed and I lose all respect for them. I write what I feel and how I view the world. I can't see myself singing someone else's songs and pretending to feel it as if the words were mine.
I speak with our listeners almost on a daily basis. We have a group on Facebook called Official Misanthropik Torment. Which I’m going to change the name of to Official Misanthropes because that's what we call our fans. Without the people who listen to our music, our message is muted. So being able to speak to them is very important to us.

Going by listener reactions and feedback, what feelings do your lyrics evoke about the state of the world? Do your listeners understand it’s to generate change for the better so to speak?
I’m really not sure if our listeners understand that the message of our music is meant to enlighten the world on specific issues. I think that most are just happy that someone is pointing out these issues. Someone is actually actively speaking up. I myself have had many conversations with some of the people who listen to our music. And it’s sad to say this but a lot of the people who enjoy our music have been abused. Some feel as though that we are giving them a voice. I can't take that type of credit. It feels good to know that our music evokes that type of emotion that people will reach out to us to share their story. But at the end of the day I’m just a guy who understands abuse because I have been abused. I'm not special.

You recently posted a topic on your Facebook profile about cancel culture and its effect on individual thought. How much of a problem do you see it becoming?
I like this question. It is one that everyone should be asking themselves.
I will say if my success in music depends upon me succumbing to the herd mentality then I’m not going to go very far. Cancel Culture is the worst thing that anyone could buy into. In this digital age, anyone can say anything about someone and the truth doesn't matter; the truth is made by how many people you can make believe you. And then there are the "I’m more connected than you” type people. No one’s career should be taken from them based on a popular opinion. Destroying people just because you don't like them is wrong. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is entitled to have their opinions. But nowadays someone's opinion if it’s not the popular opinion, it can be detrimental to their career. Just take a look at what's going on with Marilyn Manson, Jonny Depp, and Eminem. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Social media cannot be a courtroom and that is what is happening today. People need to make up their own minds and stop believing everything they read on Facebook or Google or whatever source of social media news they use.
I don't want to live in a society where it is ok to cancel someone based on what someone says about someone. It’s way too easy for people to use that type of thinking as a weapon when it’s not warranted.

This is a sensitive topic for certain, but how do you view the controversy surrounding David Ellefson of Megadeth?
There are a lot of rumors going around about this topic. I read somewhere that he had actually had a sexual relationship with an underage girl, then I read something about how she wasn't underage and everything was consensual. Honestly man I wasn't there so I don't know. But if this dude did some nasty shit with a kid he deserves to die in my opinion. But like I said I don't know what’s true. All I know is what I read and nowadays people are making all kinds of crap up about people. I grew up listening to Megadeth and it is a very sad day to see this type of thing happening. I feel disappointed and kind of let down by Dave Mustaine’s response to the issue. I feel like he himself has succumbed to the herd mentality of cancel culture. But as I said if Dave did do something with an underage girl then fuck him he needs to die. But I have also seen statements from the girl in question and it doesn't look like this is the case.

On this same subject, Sharon Osbourne was labeled a racist by association on TV’s The Talk; she since left the show and has been telling her side of it.
This is absolutely ridiculous. So what I'm getting from all of this is if I have a friend that happens to offend someone else by their opinion on a subject, even if I don't share their opinions I'm to be subjected to their punishment. Seriously what is the world coming to? Next thing you know people are going to be stoned because they lived next to someone the masses didn't like. I thought we did away with witch hunts and forced conversion a long time ago. People really need to step outside their little box. This is real life get over it. My opinion matters just as much as anyone else's. Just because I don't agree with someone or vice versa doesn't mean anything other than a disagreement. And furthermore, I fully support Sharon Osbourne.

Does the Sharon Osbourne issue reflect a growing trend of political correctness, or is it an excuse for people to ostracize others so they themselves can feel they belong?
Cancel Culture in my opinion is all about making others look bad, so the persecutors can look holier than thou. I mean it’s really no different than the fake religious people who go to church every Sunday and praise God in public yet molest their children or beat their wives behind closed doors. Cancel Culture is a modern-day witch trial. The sad part about this is everyone seems to be brainwashed into believing that they have to think a certain way and anything outside of that thinking is wrong. It really seems to me that history is repeating itself just with a different approach. But dictatorship is dictatorship no matter how you cut it slice it or dress it up to look pretty. No one seems to want to step outside the herd mentality and ask the questions that need to be asked. I mean wouldn't you think the world has more important serious issues to focus on? For example, there are over 5000 indigenous women who are murdered raped and never heard from again. 5000 missing murdered indigenous women and children a year go missing but no one is talking about that. No, they care more about Sharon Osbourne being friends with someone who may or may not be racist. Racism only exists because we the people continue to acknowledge that people have a different color of skin. Stop describing a person as black brown or white and see them as human we might get somewhere.

What have you read about cancel culture and Marilyn Manson, and what are your thoughts?
Marilyn Manson's label dropped him before any wrongdoing could have been proven. In my opinion that is wrong. We have all had relationships that have ended. Now I don't condone abuse of any kind but as an outsider looking in. It seems to me that this whole deal with Marilyn Manson right now can be chalked up to scorned exes who wanted something that they didn't get. It wasn't until after he got married that all this came out. I myself believe that this was a methodical plan involving Amber Heard and Evan Rachel Wood. But this is just my opinion from the extensive research I've done on the topic. Marilyn Manson has been a topic of controversy for years. So of course now that he has been accused of some monstrosities Cancel Culture would go after him. The key word here is accused. One thing people need to remember is an accusation is not proof! Yet he is suffering consequences before a trial has even taken place. I could talk about this all day but I think I've made my point.

A free hardcore show arranged by the owner of a local NYC newspaper The Shadow is under fire for supposedly misadvertising the bill. The stories are complicated but again people who were there are telling their side of it.
Just another example of the hierarchy trying to kill what we all love, with bullshit lies and doctored paperwork. Let me ask you this, having a concert during the pandemic is unsafe, yet people go to church every Sunday and congregate in close proximity. People shop in Walmart and every other major mall outlet in America. But those places are safe, right? So Covid only hangs out at metal shows? Give me a fucking break!
One thing I would like to add is I am all for people being held accountable for what they do. But before we can hold people accountable first we all need to hold ourselves accountable. And we have to prove what is being said beyond a shadow of a doubt. That is the American right to be innocent until proven guilty however our justice system is broken and I think Cancel Culture has taken advantage of the fact that people have lost faith in our broken system. Really who could blame them? Fix what's broken. Cancel Culture is not the answer.

Do you suspect cancel culture is a form of scapegoating others so people who are really guilty of something can hide their accountability? Marilyn Manson’s exes are examples.
In one of my earlier songs “We Must Kill Them” I touch on this topic, people being just as sick as the filth that they rebuke. Pointing the finger at someone else for their shortcomings or blatantly painting a picture of how appalling someone is to shame them or to cancel them so to speak. I find it interesting that people are actually buying into this type of behavior. In Marilyn Manson’s case, it’s not very difficult to paint that type of picture. I mean his form of art is to offend and make people see him as this Monstrous person. He pulls it off so well in his career that when these accusations came to light it was an automatic witch hunt no one cared about the facts. People need to be able to separate the man from the entertainer. It’s easy to point the finger at someone like Manson. But what about the priest who rapes children or your next-door neighbor who goes to church every Sunday and in the community is an all-around good guy but behind closed doors beats his wife and rapes his children. What about the devils you don't expect?

Is cancel culture something you have addresses or would address for Misanthropik Torment?
I've addressed this topic on a single I released as a tribute track for Marilyn Manson. I won't give this topic that much power as to continue to make music about it.

Is Misanthropik Torment planning to work on a new full length? What subject matter do you plan to address with it?
Misanthropik Torment is currently working on a new album, like with most of the albums this one will touch on the topic of being abused. But with this one, we want to take our listeners into the mind of a survivor. Basically describing the mental anguish and overcoming the demons so to speak. This album has a bold statement and will be called KillYourLocalPedophile. Here is the album cover if you want to print it.

How has the band gone about writing and arranging the songs on your new full length? Do you hope the new songs will convince people to think as much as those on your past releases?
KillYourLocalPedophile is going to blow minds and speakers! We are going pretty deep with the subject matter and Josh is just a musical genius. With each album, we hope to give our listeners something more to think about.

Have any new bands been signed to Misanthropik Records in 2021? Name some new releases the label will be coming out within this year’s remaining months.
Misanthropik Records is not signing any new bands. Upcoming releases for this year are from WhatDrivesTheWeak. Stay tuned for more information on this album in the next couple of months.

Have you considered or would you consider publishing a print zine or webzine to help promote Misanthropik Records bands?
We have considered this but at the moment recovering from the financial crisis from the Pandemic we don't have the time money nor the staff.

How do you intend to spread the word for Misanthropik Records and promote Misanthropik Torment on a larger scale in the future?
I just plan to keep doing what I'm doing. And pushing the bands. People seem to be noticing. So that is always good.

-Dave Wolff

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