Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Interview with The Ace Drops by Dave Wolff

Interview with The Ace Drops by Dave Wolff

The Ace Drops members were all involved in several bands before crossing paths and deciding to work together. Does this help the band develop a unique thrash metal sound?
Emanuele "Izzy" Bonura (guitars, drum programming, arrangement, video editing): We knew each other since our early teenage years back when we were living in Sicily and were both part of a huge local metal scene. Our sound mainly developed from the mix of thrash guitar riffs from Riccardo (bass/vocals), arranged and composed by Emanuele (guitar/drum programming). Our experience relates especially to home-recording different facets of metal, as back in the day we didn’t have access to any sort of professional studio, and using a DAW as an integral part of the creative process. From the beginning we had a solid idea of the sound we were looking for.

If The Ace Drops members have worked with any bands previously, please let the readers know if their material is still available.
Riccardo Castiglione (vocals, bass, composer): Emanuele has been very active in many bands, such as Der Geist (Death metal), Trinakrius (Doom metal), Crimson Wind (Power metal), Anthirya (Gothic metal) and Lamiera (Thrash metal). I have worked with Sexual Thing (Hard n' heavy) and Screaming Eagle (tribute to Judas Priest), but we played together for Hooks (Thrash Metal). You can find songs from all of these bands on YouTube and Spotify.

What was the length of Hooks' active career? Can you tell me how this band started and why you decided to dissolve them?
EB: We formed as a group of friends wanting to make some noise, and played together for about nine months. We were very young and naive and were thinking more about partying and playing in underground gigs than professionally playing. The premature departure of one of the band members brought a sharp halt to the band and after that everyone moved to other projects.

Is thrash metal still popular in Italy and the UK, after a comeback in the 1990s and again in the 2010s?
RC: The UK has always been at the forefront of music, and there’s still a solid scene here in London that we hope to be a part of with time and effort. As for Italy, the past couple of years haven’t been kind to the metal scene, and unfortunately from 2012 onwards, we’ve seen a steep decline in metal gigs and the number of bands, especially in Sicily where we come from.

Did The Ace Drops relocate from Italy to the UK or were they always based there? What is the extent to which the band has received more publicity since the move?
EB: The band did form in the UK as a result of many recording sessions we had during the pandemic, and although we’re still in the very early stages, we have seen a very good reception to our music and a slowly growing fan base. We truly hope we can leverage the wider London audience and better reception to extreme music to make our music heard and have as much fun as we can!

What was the amount of record sessions that resulted in the formation of the Ace Drops? Are the arrangements between Riccardo and Emanuele still the same as they were at the beginning, and how many songs have been completed?
RC: We had quite a lot of recording sessions before, during and after the first lockdown, too many to be counted. As a result, we have completed about ten songs and, although the arrangement is usually solely Emanuele's duty, from time to time I give him some suggestions and ideas to make the song sound better. I'd say the balance between the two of us is 70% Emanuele and 30% myself.

Did you intend to set The Ace Drops apart from other bands in your country when you formed? Is there a meaning behind the name?
EB: We always strive for getting our own sound, for instance using a single coil telecaster for recording all guitars instead of the usual humbucker. The name is a word play on a Sicilian joke well known in our region, saying “the ace drops” in Sicilian: “l’assu cari” sound identical to “you must suck it”, where the “ace” we refer to is the ace of clubs in traditional Sicilian cards, you’ll see it included in the logo as a reminder of our origins.

What made you decide to make The Ace Drops a two-member project rather than a full band? Is it easier to write and rehearse when there are only two members?
RC: The band started as a passion project with the purpose of recording just a couple of songs, and later evolved into a more professional band, having a small creative core of the band makes it easier to meet and brainstorm ideas.

How many songs have been released to date and where can we hear them? Do you have a digital version, a video version, or both?
EB: So far only two out of ten songs have been released. They’re both available to listen to on the major music platforms, such as Youtube and Spotify, and they both come with a video. We're aiming to release these remaining songs over the next months, still with a lyric video.

What are the titles of those two songs the band has released so far and what inspired them?
RC: The two songs we released are “Curse of the Pharaoh” and “Zombie Hoard”. The lyrics came from a very free-flowing iterative process, we had a general idea of the theme and the story we wanted to tell for each song and we started writing down words and phrases which could fit well.

What are the themes of “Curse of the Pharaoh” and “Zombie Hoard”, and how did you approach developing the storylines?
RC: “Curse of the Pharaoh” is about how this tyrant pharaoh cursed his slaves in their afterlife, I came up with this theme because of the Egyptian-like sound of the riffs. As for “Zombie Hoard”, since I was a kid I always loved zombie movies, so I thought to tell a story about this guy who went on a mission during a zombie apocalypse.

Did the lyrics of "Curse of the Pharaoh" require any historical research?
EB: Not really. At no point we were trying to be historically accurate, we just wanted to tell the story we had in our heads and fit the tone of the music.

Do you remember the zombie apocalypse movies you watched most religiously as a kid? Which movies compare with "The Walking Dead" and its spin-off series?
RC: Unfortunately as a kid I couldn't get a hold of many zombie movies. Growing up I managed to watch a lot of them, like “Night of the Living Dead”, “28 Days Later” and “28 Weeks Later”. But in my opinion, none of them is nearly comparable to "Dawn of the Dead" by George Romero or the “Resident Evil” saga. They're definitely my favorites.

What about Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and “Resident Evil” appealed to you enough for you to still consider them relevant?
RC: Romero's “Dawn of the Dead” is actually the first horror movie I ever watched when I was six, and I totally fell in love with Peter's character. Fearless and always up for a zombie hunt. As for “Resident Evil”, I started playing the video-game series on the PS1, which led me to watch, appreciate and carve for more “Resident Evil” movies.

Who helped you film and produce the promotional videos for your songs? Are they professional companies or freelancers? How do the videos relate to the lyrics?
EB: The videos were both produced by myself and we didn't get any external help. The first video was more focused on the play through rather than the lyrics. As for “Zombie Hoard”, we tried to recreate the horror vibe using stock footage plus the drawings we commissioned to the Sicilian comic artist Ester Cardella.

Are you planning to release your unreleased songs as a full-length album or will they only be available as videos?
RC: We plan to release a couple of more songs with the same video-first format, as soon as we’ll have enough tracks recorded we plan to get all of them into a full length.

Why did The Ace Drops choose Ocularis Infernum for publicity and how have they helped the band grow?
RC: That was totally random, as I added Andred on Facebook. After a couple of chats, she asked me if we were willing to be part of her roster. Of course we accepted and, since then, our music has been aired on many radios spread all over the world. As you can imagine, her help for us is absolutely priceless.

When Andred started helping support the band, which radio stations did she shop your material to? How many responses are you getting to each of them?
RC: First of all, a big shout out to Andred of Ocularis Infernum Booking and promotion for having us be aired on many shows and Italian radio stations: Facciamo Valere Il Metallo Italiano (, Rock On (, The Night Of The Living Dead (, Heavy Metal Wave (, Power Of Metal (, Radio Terronia Rock (, Terremoto Hard 2.0 ( For the next radio season, our songs will be aired on many stations, both Italians and worldwide. So far, internationally speaking, our music has been aired in Australia on Ozzyrockradio - La Casa Del Rock ( and in Venezuela on Hell Radio ( Currently, with both songs we have received excellent feedback from listeners, but “Zombie Hoard” got a bigger response compared to “Curse of the Pharaoh”.

Is Ozzyrockradio and Hell Radio your first exposure outside Italy or have there been other opportunities? Where else would you like to be heard?
EB: These were our very first times being aired outside of Italy. We sure hope to share our music very soon in Canada, the U.S.A. and some European countries.

Did any of the net radio stations you mentioned feature live interviews with the band?
EB: We had some nice and fun interviews with Radio Terronia Rock and Rock On - Radio Punto Milano, and we plan to have many more in the future!

What are the band’s plans for the remainder of 2020 and beyond that? How soon do you plan to start writing and recording new material?
EB: We already have a few songs ready, we are just waiting for the appropriate time to release them and having fun with our crowd in 2022 and beyond.

-Dave Wolff

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Full Length Review: Sigh "Shiki" (Peaceville Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Sigh
Location: Tokyo
Country: Japan
Genre: Avant garde black metal
Full Length: Shiki
Format: Digital album
Label: Peaceville Records
Release date: August 26, 2022
The songwriting and musicianship of Sigh have been comparable to a celluloid nightmare crafted by an asylum inmate since the release of "Scorn Defeat" in 1993. With roots in early 90s black metal, they were progressive before the terms 'progressive' and 'black metal' were even conceived as terms that could be used together.
In the mid- to late 1990s, they spawned releases years ahead of their time, and should be considered milestones for their boundless imagination and painstaking effort. Featuring raw, unforgiving and dangerous elements close to the experimentation of the Beatles in the late 1960s, "Infidel Art", "Ghastly Funeral Theatre", "Hail Horror Hail" and "Scenario IV: Dread Dreams" were raw, unforgiving and dangerous. They personified the 'no rules' principle like no other band of their time.
It was clear from their debut album that the band already knew what they were capable of, and the soundtracks to their vision were just waiting to be created. The uninviting bite of early second wave black metal was also crucial to their self-regulated growth as it showed hints of the near-genius development they would achieve later in their recording career.
Many 'big name' underground bands are more consistent in releasing material, aiming to overwhelm the industry, but Sigh chose to take their time in the 2000s and 2010s, recording just seven full lengths that expanded their boundaries while offering a different theme for each release. Each of them showed greater emphasis on atmosphere, experimentation with prog, thrash, power, and classic metal, as well as elements that were intense, downright bizarre, and resounded of a serial killer planning his next move.
Sigh also developed a penchant for overlapping keyboard effects, arranging unexpected twists and turns, and varying themes from song to song. From beginning to end, they use jazz, classical, trip hop and especially soundtracks to create a deranged motif. "Shiki" brings this variety closer to exemplariness than ever before.
Through their long years of experimentation, Sigh maintained the heavy edge they established on their early albums. All this time the band hasn’t run out of steam and everything they’ve come out with proved successful with fans and critics. This tradition is consistent throughout "Shiki" and for that longtime fans won’t find it the slightest bit disappointing.
After twelve full lengths, Sigh continue to break the mold of extreme metal. Intensive planning, calculated songwriting, precise musicianship, catchy guitar riffs, frenetic percussion, lyrics rooted in Japanese occultism, and most importantly, a diversified genre exploration are all impressively displayed on "Shiki". In addition to having a different sound, each song also has a unique personality. The songs have the capacity to make you feel whatever emotion the band desires for you to feel. Just when you think you know what to expect the rug is pulled out from and they take you in another direction.
After a brief, decidedly creepy intro, they create a similar mood to Celtic Frost’s “Procreation (of the Wicked)” adding an equally creepy myriad of keyboards and vocals like rantings of a criminally disturbed individual. This is followed by a somber hymn to darkness and psychosis, followed in turn by similar vibes to Voivod and Amorphis, then another mood change resonating as tranquil yet foreboding. This is just the first two songs, and “Shiki” becomes progressively more experimental from there.
Throughout “Shiki” you get shades of the genres mentioned above, lyrics sung exclusively in Japanese, bass and drums as engaging and inventive as the guitars and keyboards, an emotional and psychological range from sensitive and empathetic to unbalanced and demoniacal, Middle Eastern ambiance, tribal elements, jazz, psychedelia, synthpop and quite possibly the widest range of instruments ever heard in black metal. And enough twists and turns to fascinate you and make you wonder how they pull it off.
Since Japan has contributed massive amounts of unique originality to underground music, from EZO to Masonna to Church Of Misery to Abigail to Boris and far beyond, it’s only natural that Sigh would emerge at the forefront of Japanese black metal and establish themselves as one of Japan’s committed, pioneering bands. With top notch delivery and production “Shiki” is so malicious, outlandish and erratic it will keep you coming back for more. Hands down it’s one of 2022’s finest metal albums. –Dave Wolff

Mirai Kawashima: Vocals, keyboards, flute, piccolo, clarinet, shakuhachi, hichiriki, shinobue, shamisen, taishōgoto, shruti box, vocoder, guitars
Dr. Mikannibal: Vocals, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone
Satoshi Fujinami: Bass
Frédéric Leclercq (guest musician): Guitars
Mike Heller (guest musician): Drums, bongos, bells

Track list:
1. Kuroi Inori
2. Kuroi Kage
3. Shoujahitsumetsu
4. Shikabane
5. Satsui - Geshi No Ato
6. Fuyu Ga Kuru
7. Shouku
8. Kuroi Kagami
9. Mayonaka No Kaii
10. Touji No Asa

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Interview with Dan Buckley of Year Of Confession by Dave Wolff

Interview with Dan Buckley of Year Of Confession by Dave Wolff

Your material has been uploaded to streaming sites after several years of hiatus and you have accepted an opening slot for Carnivore A.D. Can you let the readers know the details of this? Before your hiatus, how much music had you released and which songs did you upload after getting back together? Why did you decide to open for Carnivore?
We actually accepted the Carnivore show beforehand. The guys in YOC are like family. We are very close; we keep in touch in our personal lives because we have a very long history together as friends first. When I saw that the promoter was looking for another band to add to the bill, I suggested to him that I can look into getting the guys together. He was ecstatic about that, and it got me thinking, because I know our personal situations, that this could be a real possibility. We fell off the map for a while, taking care of our personal lives and whatnot. We stopped being able to play around the time we started making more of a name for ourselves. We wrote and recorded a bunch of music but released a demo, an EP, and a single, all before the “A Blood Decree” album. When we released “A Blood Decree” originally, streaming as we know it wasn’t really a thing. We needed to put a CD in somebody’s hand. So, in our opinion, it didn’t really get a fair shot to connect with people. After confirming with the others that we can make this show happen, we figured that we might as well let ABD be heard. We then put it out for streaming as a re-release with extra tracks on it. “A Blood Decree (Expanded Edition)” is available everywhere now. As far as Carnivore goes, we are absolute lovers of music in the truest sense. We have influences that are extremely vast, and we know our history. Not only are they such an important part of the hardcore music scene, but they are also a great band. Joe (our bassist) is originally from Brooklyn so it’s also kind of a cool full circle type of sentiment. This show, which is in November on Long Island, will provide us a chance to see people we haven’t in a long time. Friends, bands, and fans alike. We are looking forward to it.

At what Long Island venue is your upcoming show booked, and what do you anticipate the turnout will be like?
The upcoming show, scheduled for November 19th, 2022, is being held at Shakers in Oakdale NY. We’ll be playing with Carnivore A.D., our friends in Lockdown and The Great Lie, and the up-and-coming Sarcosuchas. I expect to see friends from the past showing up to support all of the artists that are performing and doing what they can to keep this scene alive. My hope is that it will be a mix of older and younger generations who come together as one solid force. I look forward to meeting them all and encourage everyone to be social and say hello! I anticipate a good time and I’m very happy to be involved again after being away for several years. Do you see more gatherings of older and newer fans at the shows you’ve been able to attend of late?
I actually have not been to a local show since well before the pandemic, but I have seen pictures and videos from some. It does seem to be happening to a certain degree. I hope I’m not wrong about that. I’m sure it’s not every show but I think it goes back to what you were saying about the scene picking up again. I see friends of ours that are still trucking along, playing with their respective bands, and I think that’s awesome. Summon The Plague and Monochromatic Black for example. They are very talented musicians and I’m glad to see them doing what they love to do.

Are Summon The Plague and Monochromatic Black streaming any material on the web? If so, where can their releases be found?
I know Monochromatic Black is on Spotify, I’m not sure if Summon The Plague has anything up just yet. I see videos that they post to Facebook though, they seem to be playing a lot of local shows and getting a good response. Both bands are extremely heavy sounding. If anyone is into that, I suggest looking into them.

How much has streaming helped increase your fan base since you uploaded “A Blood Decree (Expanded Edition)”? On what sites can people check it out?
In terms of increasing our fan base, it seems too early to tell. We have definitely turned some heads in our direction (which is nice) but what we are most pleased with so far is being able to reconnect with the fans we had already. A good amount of people liked our songs live but never got a chance to have the music. Right now, “A Blood Decree (Expanded Edition)” is available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, IHeartRadio, YouTube Music, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. All of these links and more can be found at, our official website.

In addition to digital, what other formats has "A Blood Decree" been released on? On the same subject, do any of the band members collect vinyl records?
When “A Blood Decree” was originally released, we had pressed three song sampler CDs that were handed out and the rest of the album was available for download. We got caught up in the middle of physical media and streaming around that time. It was really annoying to have to explain to people, but we did what we could. Our bassist (Joe Micolo) collects vinyl records. He has a pretty good amount of albums. There is something to be said for being able to hold an album, as I’m sure you know, even with CDs and cassettes. I would never rule out pressing something to vinyl. I think that would be really cool to have.

How many copies of your three-song sampler was the band able to move independently? Did the band also design cover art and packaging for it?
We only pressed 1000 of those CDs. Even though it was also available for download, we wanted to preserve some of them for the future. We moved almost all of them into the hands of others. Our artwork was conceptualized by us but made possible, designed, and carried out by Troy Wilkerson. Troy is a very talented artist and a very good friend of ours.

Has Troy Wilkerson designed cover art for many bands besides YOC? When you described the cover concept to him, how well did his work reflect what you wanted?
I’m not positive which ones or how many but I believe he has worked with others, especially by now. I wouldn’t doubt it at least. We did “A Blood Decree” and “Cycles Of Man” (our prior EP) with him so far. He’s fantastic at reflecting our ideas in his art. He has even come up with suggestions. The artwork for ABD was straight forward, just like the music in our opinion. Something simple and to the point was exactly what was needed. Cycles Of Man was a project and a half. The CD has an entire fold out mural type of thing, that he painted by hand first, based off of the concepts we were throwing at him. I have to give him credit for having patience. Haha.

For a time, the popularity of underground music was waning on Long Island. More recently it has made a comeback. How much more popular is it becoming again in your view? And what do you think of the idea of Carnivore reforming after Peter Steele passed away?
Personally, I think being able to hear Carnivore songs in a live setting still is great. To my knowledge, it’s a tribute situation comprised of original members and close friends that played in the same circle as them back in the day. I have yet to see them, but I would think they probably do it justice. Peter Steele was a very talented and influential figure, for them to honor him and respect his work like this is pretty cool.
As far as the Long Island underground scene is concerned, what I’ve seen on social media lately echoes what you are saying. For sure, it seemed a little bleak for a while. To make matters worse, we had a health crisis going on. Nobody was playing live for a bit. I do sometimes wonder though, maybe that lent itself to building up the music scene even more? Based on what I’ve seen on social media so far, a lot of younger people do seem to be very involved now again. It sort of reminds me of when my friends and I started going to local shows, which was predominately in the late 90s and early 2000’s. I just hope the message of unity and support can be sustained.

Were your friendships before the band started helpful in reviving your original lineup when you reformed?
We started in high school with our original drummer, Steve. We went through a lot of growth musically speaking, and we had a couple of different vocalists back then. We met John just after high school. He had never done vocals before but was determined. He was a natural and fit right in with what we wanted to do. Brian was a friend of ours for years before he joined the band. Steve eventually felt as if he went as far as he could and didn’t want to hold us back. Brian was our first phone call. We are all friends and music was always at the center of what we were doing. No amount of time can erode our commitment to each other. YOC is mostly a matter of availability for us exactly because we are such good friends. If there’s a way for us, it happens.

Did you have similar musical tastes when Year Of Confession formed or were your tastes divergent and in need of time to incorporate?
We had a lot of common ground, but I would say it was fairly different, especially when we were younger. We just wanted to play though and welcomed the diversity. We also discovered a lot of music together, which helped shape us. After a while, especially when Brian came into the picture, we homed in on and generated a more solid sound. Some songs took a lot more time to write than others (for several reasons) but once we hit a stride it was a quick process. After a while, you sort of learn how to write with each other. I like to think of it as if we are painting a picture. Even though we may like different colors, and use different brushes, we can all paint on the same canvas. We don’t exactly know what it will look like at the end, but we know for sure that it will be ours.

What styles of music did each of the members of YOC grow up with and contribute to your formula? In what ways does this make the band stand out as having their own sound?
We grew up with a lot of different music in our lives. Between the four of us, it ranges from all types of Rock and Metal to Industrial, Film Scores, Hardcore, and tons of subgenres across several decades. Brian is very much influenced by everything having to do with drums and the amount of bands he is familiar with is honestly staggering. Joe is probably the least mainstream music oriented of the group. Not to say he doesn’t like it; he just prefers music that is obscure. We were introduced to a lot of underground music because of him. John was into the typical big name metal bands from the 80’s and 90’s, as we all were. Those bands had a big influence on the way he writes lyrics. As for myself, I can usually hear those iconic 70’s rock bands coming through when I write but it’s influenced by the metal bands of our youth. I love writing stuff that has atmosphere, is organic sounding, and is held together with the tight interlocking sound of many 90’s metal bands. When we started discovering the underground hardcore scene of our era, that is what really solidified the band’s direction. We took what we were all about beforehand and started incorporating different types of grooves and obnoxious sounding chords. We focused more on the intensity of our music instead of the flare of our instruments. We try to always do what we feel is best for the song as a whole and feel strongly about YOC being its own entity.

If you were to describe organic sounding, what would you mean? What balance should a song or album have in terms of atmosphere?
It comes down to perspective I suppose, but for me “organic sounding” means truthful and natural. Truthful in terms of originality and not purposely mimicking another artist. Not to say you shouldn’t let your influences be noticed, I just love hearing stuff that is written or arranged uniquely. By natural I mean in terms of not forcing yourself to write a certain way but to try and let whatever it is reveal itself. When it comes to atmosphere, I think it’s important to keep the sentiment of the songs in mind as they progress. When I start writing anything, I purposely leave space in order to hear what the others do and then expand on it from there. If, down the line, I feel like the song needs some breathing room, I will try to create that. Likewise, that space can always be filled if necessary. I believe the same concept can be used for the layout of an album when you keep the listening experience in mind.

Is it better for underground bands to retain their heavy and caustic elements or become more experimental as they progress and grow? Or does it depend on each band’s situation?
All of the above. I’m a big proponent for experimenting and thinking outside of the box. That doesn’t necessarily mean less heavy though. To a degree, I like to hear bands mix things up. It keeps me from being bored. I don’t particularly care for an entire album of songs that sound exactly the same but if it’s all over the place, that doesn’t work for me either. How it unfolds should come down to each band’s situation and what they set out to do from the beginning. YOC has experimented a lot over the years. Most of our songs sound different from each other but still sound like Year Of Confession. I think anything that contributes to the communication of the song is at least worth considering.

Can you tell me which albums from any decade are close enough to the qualities you want in an album?
There’s a lot of great albums that come to mind for various reasons. This is a tough question for me, my mind is racing! I will try to narrow it down a little bit and stick to heavier genres. When it comes to the more well-known stuff, it’s hard for me to not say “Cowboys From Hell” or “Vulgar Display Of Power”. Those two albums were groundbreaking on so many levels and really showed the range the band had when it came to writing. “Urban Discipline” by Biohazard shows a lot of attitude as well, attitude is good. “Chaos A.D.” by Sepultura, “Symbolic” by Death, “Low” by Testament, FNM’s “Angel Dust” and “King For A Day” albums, even “Ænema” by Tool. The self-titled album and "Imprint" by Vision Of Disorder, “Process Of Self Development” by Candiria, “Stabbing The Drama” by Soilwork, and Led Zeppelin II, III, & IV. Some of the musicians who wrote this music are the reason I even wanted to play in the first place, but these iconic albums did have a huge impact on me. When I listen to an album, I want to hear something of substance, either through the lyrics or sonically. The most important takeaway for me is inspiration. If I ever do anything the slightest bit close to what these albums did for me, it would be a dream come true.

The majority of the underground albums you cited were released in the 1990s, if I understand you correctly. Are there any albums released since the 2000s that measure up to those older releases?
The 1990s were when I started discovering music that was considered to be more underground or in the hardcore scene. We were always showing up to local shows to support bands like Skycamefalling, Neck, R22, Overthrow, and Candiria. I would say that era is when underground music had the biggest impact on me. After that, we were mostly focused on supporting bands that we befriended and doing our own thing as well. There are later albums that I really like but it’s hard for me to say if they measure up or not. I like them all for mostly independent reasons and each show qualities that I love to hear. “Jupiter” by Cave In, “Jane Doe” by Converge, “Oceanic & Panopticon” by Isis, and “Spirals” by Blood Has Been Shed to name a few. Some of the more well-known stuff I’m into include albums by Shadows Fall, Every Time I Die, Blood Simple, Sevendust, Deftones, Periphery, Soilwork, and Meshuggah.

Likewise, you mention Led Zeppelin's second, third, and fourth albums. Who else from the classic rock era inspires you on the same level as underground bands? Do you know any bands from the early punk era?
When I was a young kid, I was listening to Led-Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Beatles, Van Halen, The Allman Brothers, Black Sabbath, etc. All of these bands have inspired me a great deal. Once I started getting into Metal, I was all about the “Big 4” and bands such as Iron Maiden, Sepultura, Testament, Pantera, and Fear Factory. I have a lot of respect for and have listened to some early era Punk bands such as The Clash, The Misfits, and Black Flag but I can’t personally say I’m as familiar with them. We did play a show with Gotham Road one time though. I don’t recall how that happened exactly, but I know John (our singer) was super excited about it. He was a little more into music of that nature.

How much input did each member of the band have writing and recording the material on your releases? Which of them do you think best represents your working together?
Each release thus far has a history behind it but I would say “A Blood Decree” is our most forward and matured writing of that era. It was a result of us stripping down our approach and focusing on being forceful in the face of adversity. We went through a lot of crap during that time and that was our way of hitting back at life. As for writing input, we had a process that became the norm. Joe or I would have a spark for a song and the other would fan the flame. Once Brian heard it he would work his magic and make us rethink what is possible. Usually by the time John got to it, it was almost done. We used that to our advantage because he was like an outside set of ears. When it came to lyrical content, we took turns offering up something we each needed to have a song about. It was like group therapy. John was always a good lyricist and excelled at writing loosely based on the topic. Sometimes it was purposely not so vague though. Like the title track “A Blood Decree” for example.

What is “A Blood Decree” about and how is it intended to be relevant to the genres you work within? Discuss some of the other songs on the album you deem worth mentioning?
“A Blood Decree” is a song about a very dark moment in my life. The lyrics were written as a gift from John to me and based off of about eight pages of notes that I wrote in order to not forget what had transpired. The guitar parts were meant to express the situation as well.
I dozed off one afternoon after coming home from work but not before letting my dog outside in the yard. When I awoke a little while later it was to the sound of several gun shots. I frantically searched and called for her to no avail. It seemed like forever, but I found her trying to get back under the fence to my yard. She was just sitting there motionless and that’s when I noticed a bullet hole in her chest. I got her back into my house and locked her into her crate. There was blood everywhere, I was actually slipping in it. What had happened was, she got into my back neighbor’s yard and out to the street. Someone over there called the police asking for animal control, but they sent an office anyway. When the cop showed up, the dog was scared and running around. The officer said he felt unsafe and fired 5 or 6 shots, one of which hit my dog. Then the police were at my front door bragging about how their guy “shot that dog dead”. This dog was an absolute sweetheart and never hurt anyone. The guy who called them even said that it was not necessary. I had to rush the dog to Long Island Veterinary Hospital where she almost died. The bullet missed her heart by a half inch. I had no money, so they worked out a deal. I got a second job and hand delivered thousands over the following ten months to pay for the surgery she needed. She survived and ABD was made. Our intention was to make people realize that music, like life, can be both beautiful and brutal at the same time.
Just a quick synopsis of some of the other songs on the album. All of which are based on real life events.
“Bring Me Back” - Finding that light to pull you out of the darkest place in your life.
“Withered” - A song about suicide and the destruction it brings to one’s family.
“We Will Overcome” - Positivity. Perseverance to achieve one’s dreams and goals. This song was written as a light to focus on.

On a personal note, did you manage to sue the officer who shot your dog? Which of your unmentioned songs, if any, deals with corruption in authority? What inspired the three songs you listed above?
I did not. I was young and didn’t realize what sort of recourse I might have had. It was a whole ordeal. I was ticketed and I had to appear in court. I basically had to fight for them to release her to me too. They deemed the dog legally “dangerous” because the officer discharged his firearm. The irony in that is astonishing. However, I just wanted her home, so I did whatever I needed to do. After that took place, I dedicated a lot of my time to learning about the stigma certain dogs received and why. I also got involved in advocacy related to rescue, proper responsibility, and treatment of APBTs.
“Bring Me Back” was inspired by a depressive state that John was going through and him having certain people in his life to help claw his way out. I think we have all been there at some point, I certainly have, so these lyrics are very relatable and can apply to anybody.
“Withered” was inspired by a real-life suicide and the devastation that it caused to a family. John has said “It was written from a place of anger and hurt and reflects that in its vision of the subject matter.”
“We Will Overcome” was a song written about our own band. The struggles we had in trying to get our music heard and the process of getting out to do what we love. It was the cultivation of our collective feelings towards that strive for success that we shared. We were each going through a lot around that time and this was a much-needed positive tone for us. The music for this song came together very quickly during rehearsal one night. I think we wrote 90 percent of it in about a half an hour.
YOC does not have a song that is specific to corruption in authority.

Do you think the lyrics to those songs are written in a way people who have had similar experiences can relate to?
Yes I do. That was the intention at least. We wanted our own experiences to be written about in a way that helped each of us but could also be applied to other situations. Everybody goes through their own turmoil in life. Sometimes you need to get that off your chest or hear words of encouragement. That is something that we whole heartedly believe in. We wrote the music that we needed. If somebody else can benefit just as much, all the better.

Tell the readers about the advocacy you're involved in. Are there any activities related to it?
The advocacy I’m involved with, which pertains to APBTs, basically boils down to being a good ambassador for the breed whenever possible. It’s a hot topic and I understand that not everyone will have the same perspective I do. Some have had very bad experiences and their opinions should not be discounted. The open dialogue, and understanding of the issue, is what I hope comes to light though. It’s very easy to see one of these dogs and think you should be scared of them. However, that is not the dog's fault. That is because we live in a world where news outlets sensationalize anything that involves them. I always say, you either hear of a “Dog attack” or a “Pit bull attack” as if they are two different things. To be clear, I don’t recommend putting your guard down with any animal, especially one that you are not familiar with. These dogs are not for everybody and that’s ok. In fact, I don’t want to see just anybody with them. They are smart, physically fit, and very capable in many aspects. They also have the reputation that now comes with them. That alone means it’s an added responsibility above most other breeds. Unfortunately, heartless people will exploit them to make money or show others they are some type of badass just by having them. These dogs are tortured, starved, physically manipulated, and fought (to the death in many cases) before being discarded. Many times, these dogs escape the horrible situation they are in or are thrown away like garbage before roaming the streets or going after somebody. It’s not right and it starts by being a responsible owner. I myself didn’t realize at the time that all of this was a thing. Jade, the one whom ABD was about, was a family dog. She was a puppy when I got her and it’s not like she came with instructions. I learned the hard way that they are judged and shunned by the public eye. It’s funny how they are known for being protective but they themselves need it just as much sometimes. I blame myself the most for what had happened, which is why I chose to save her at the cost of thousands that I didn’t have. Would it have happened the way it did though if she was a different breed? I don’t really think so.
My recommendation for anybody looking to get involved, or adopt, is to educate themselves and find a local rescue to follow. Rescues usually have activities and events that can be attended. Learn for yourself what the real story is behind this breed. Above all, be honest with yourself. Do you have the time, patience, and proper situation to go the extra mile with these dogs? It’s a lot of responsibility and it does no good if you can’t do well by them. The last Year Of Confession show was billed as a Positive Pit Bull Awareness event that we put together. We had “New York Bully Crew” down there and handed out information in support of the cause.

What was the turnout at the Positive Pit Bull Awareness event when you appeared there? If Covid restrictions should be lifted, do you think you’re play more shows like it?
The turnout for that show was very different actually. We booked it ourselves and since it was sort of a reunion show at the time, we purposely put other bands on that could benefit more from the exposure provided. We had people coming down who didn’t even listen to this type of music but wanted to show support. It was a little strange but very cool in a way. We probably could have had a larger turnout overall if we went about it differently but we have no problem falling on our sword for a good cause. We would love to play more shows like that whenever it’s feasible to do. Right now, we are focused on getting back in the loop more and getting reacquainted. There’s a good amount of local bands that I’m only now discovering. There’s also a ton of music that I feel like I missed out on, I’m adding stuff to my rotation often. This may take a while.

Who are the bands you’re discovering of late and getting reacquainted with?
There are some that I heard on Sirius XM over the past couple of years that I think are really good. A few that stand out for me are Spiritbox, Moon Tooth, and Slaughter To Prevail. I just started using Spotify when we uploaded our music, but I have been able to find some of the bands I’ve been hearing about through social media. Johnny Booth & Incendiary for example. I’ve been really into what I’m hearing from them and find it interesting. I get a Snapcase vibe from Incendiary which I think is awesome. I’ve been able to catch up a little with some releases by Cave In and I also just saw that Botch released a new single. That is pretty awesome.

Do you remember what program on Sirius XM played Spiritbox, Moon Tooth, and Slaughter To Prevail? Are these underground bands or bands that started underground and grew closer to the mainstream?
The station is called Liquid Metal, I’m not sure what program it was specifically. These bands started off as underground and have since become bigger or are already part of the mainstream scene now. They each show a lot of style and have a uniqueness about them that I enjoy hearing. Moon Tooth is from Long Island, which is pretty cool.

How much will Sirius XM, net radio and streaming play a part in underground music in the future? Where will YOC fit into this, do you think? Is there new material you’re working on that you plan to shop around?
In terms of access to music, streaming is a game changer. I think whether we like it or not it plays a very big part. There’s so much music in every genre that is available at the touch of a button now. It’s potentially more exposure but as always there are two sides to every coin. The industry seems to be putting a focus now on paid promotion. The music is there, but who will be able to find it without promotion? So that’s one tough thing. Same with social media. It seems like you can post stuff until the cows come home. Nobody will see it nowadays. In essence it gives the industry a different type of control. I don’t know to what extent Sirius XM will play but I have always thought it would be nice if they had an unsigned band segment that would bring light to underground artists. They seem to be focusing on bands that are starting to get huge or are already influential from the past. That’s important as well, don’t get me wrong. It would be nice though.
When it comes to Year Of Confession, we plan on taking advantage of streaming however we can and are finally getting our music out there. We were at a disadvantage beforehand because unless a local band was touring extensively or doing a ton of internet sales for some reason, it was much more difficult to share music. Streaming opens up a lot of possibilities. On and off during our hiatus, we have written stuff that was never recorded. Most of that has never been heard by anybody. We are tossing around the idea of recording those songs and releasing them at some point. In terms of completely new material, it’s hard to say what the future holds. None of us are against the idea, like I said earlier it’s just a matter of being able to. One thing I know for sure is that since picking my guitar back up for the show in November, I find myself naturally starting to write stuff. I suppose it depends on how things unfold going forward. Something is telling me that our work is not done, so if there are any fans of ours that are reading this, I would say definitely keep following us wherever you can. You never know.

John Alaia: Vocals
Dan Buckley: Guitars
Joseph J Micolo III: Bass
Brian Calhoun: Drums

-Dave Wolff

Friday, August 12, 2022

EP Review: Vulnificus "Invocation" (New Standard Elite) by Dave Wolff

Band: Vulnificus
Location: Indiana/Pennsylvania
Country: USA
Genre: Brutal death metal
Format: Digital, CD (sold out)
Label: New Standard Elite
Release date: June 10, 2022
Having listened to "Invocation", I'm convinced beyond doubt brutality is spelled V-U-L-N-I-F-I-C-U-S. Their debut EP "Innomination" caught my attention by accident last year and I thought they would take Indiana by storm and quickly wreak havoc across the country and far beyond. There is simply no subtlety or pleasantries in this pure, slamming, grinding, blasting, growling death metal. The impact the first death metal bands had is straightforwardly rekindled, evincing the band’s extensive experience as musicians.
Wilson Sherels is an Indiana based multi-instrumentalist who has done several solo projects including Epidermolysis, Rancorous, Urotherapy, Darkened Spawn, Pile Tub, Daraku Shita Kanjo, The Outer Tormentor and Endogenous Disconsolation. Eston Browne is a Pennsylvania based vocalist who has lent his abilities to Abolishing the Ignominious, Merciless Mutilation, Animals Killing People, Humanity Falls, Salö, Gigan and Kresil. Vulnificus is their first collaboration as a working unit and pooling their resources at Demolition Studios gives them a solid enough start as their respective talents seem to merge by character well.
“Invocation” is strictly for Mortician, Suffocation, Immolation, Blasphemy, Impetigo, Mystifier, Chainsaw Dissection and Deeds of Flesh enthusiasts in death metal fandom. Anyone else will most likely run screaming from the sheer bloodthirsty brutishness of this sophomore effort. Ultimately, this EP reminded me why I gravitated toward brutal death metal. A long story short, “Invocation” basically crushes. In spite of some minor flaws, the band deserves much admiration for their love of the genre.
A minor criticism concerns the guitars, which sound too distorted alongside the bass, drums, and vocals. Particularly because of the technical license they direct into their songwriting. Depending on how it’s mixed during production, the effect they appeared to be seeking may pass or fail. In the case of Napalm Death’s “Scum” it worked beautifully; it didn't work quite as well in the case of Sodom's "Obsessed by Cruelty" (although the production was deliberately sabotaged, but that’s another story).
It's not that I don’t find the guitar progressions awe-inspiring. It’s just that they could have served their purpose much more effectively with a cleaner sound. Wilson Sherels is an accomplished guitarist and bassist, and his drumming is first-rate when it comes to speed and accuracy. In the final product, his riffs should have been given more clarity so they didn't come across as blurry. As the bass lines tend to get buried under other instruments, they also could have been given a little more emphasis.
In my opinion, Eston Browne's vocals are some of the lowest pitched and brutish I've heard in death metal in a long time. So perfectly do they fit that they make Johan Bergström (Deranged) and Sherwood Webber (Skinless) sound tame. In archetypical death metal fashion he conveys a message of how low human hubris and self-righteousness drag the rest of us down as things stand. He exposes greed, intolerance, and inhumanity in his writing, showing how much worse humanity's ills have become over time.
It is evident that Vulnificus has the potential to become a dominant force in the world of death metal in the near future. As long as they tighten up their musical rapport, consolidate their studio skills, and improve their production, they are bound to make headlines. –Dave Wolff

Eston Browne: Vocals, lyrics
Wilson Sherels: All instruments

Track list:
1. The Viral Virus
2. Coerced Into Compliance
3. Instruments of Indiscrimination
4. Instigated Indignation
5. The Incredulous Invocation

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Full Length Review: Flagras "Lohe" (Sol/Deviant Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Flagras
Location: Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein
Country: Germany
Genre: Black metal
Full Length: Lohe
Format: Digital, digipak CD
Release date: February 22, 2022
This German black metal band released this album to follow their debut EP “Glut” from 2020. With bands like this I’m not surprised to hear the black metal industry in Germany is reaching its peak of activity. “Glut” established the band as having a massive sound full coldness, darkness and decay, something like the direction I would have expected Dark Throne to take after “A Blaze in the Northern Sky” and “Under a Funeral Moon”, or perhaps Satyricon after “Dark Medieval Times”. Still, “Lohe” bespeaks much more to them.
There are many newer black metal bands with different perspectives on how the early 90s sound would have evolved if other directions had been embarked upon. Flagras is one of those bands who keep the raw anti-professional approach to black metal and tweak it so it’s taken seriously, not written off as stagnant. “Lohe” offers experimental perceptions on this sound and how its certain other facets can be magnified to spawn something listeners wouldn’t have thought could be tried.
Flagras’ vitriolic, eroding guitars and unsympathetic vocals are an essentiality to their sound. Even so, such terms as “trve” and “kvlt” and the generic connotations sometimes accompanying them aren’t even taken into consideration here. For example, the atmosphere brought in is nuanced to the extent of being meticulously finespun, giving the surrounding comfortless lack of cheer a sort of conscious awareness, channeling the time tested idea that there are living entities in all that gloom, coming to life the moment things start.
Flagras work overtime to keep their formula simple while becoming something bigger than the sum of its parts. What may have ended up an unembellished recording was constructed into a panorama of textured resonance that’s aesthetically stunning and reaches the kind of ecstasy that’s usually associated with classical or opera, sans the supercilious loftiness that can go hand in hand with reaching this pinnacle. Ranging from seven and a half to ten and a half minutes, the songs provide much room for them to elaborate.
The most major change the band made between their debut EP and their debut full length is widening the production and atmosphere. “Glut” by comparison with “Lohe” had thinner production but the ideas they worked in made up for that. In the two years since the EP came out, Flagras is starting to become noticed for the vibrant melody and dimensional variety brought to their cold dissonance. With healthy doses of synthesizer joining the razor sharp guitars and bottomless bass, the band creates an impenetrable wall of sound that seems alive with the fires of hell, and horrid vocal shrieks like those of the devil himself.
While those synthesizers are low-key and understated they have a way of transforming the atmosphere into a quality as soaring as it is melancholy, as I indicated before metamorphosing absence of light into animated, flourishing quintessence of energy. The contrast between strings and percussion that kick your chest in and ambiance coming in separate vibrations come closer than ever to ecstatic resplendence. In the later songs Flagras even add shades of post black metal, giving them an avant garde distinction. If they were to continue experimenting this way I imagine their sound will continue to become even bigger and more grandiose.
If you’re looking for black metal bands who seek to break the mold of extreme music creating symphonies of desolation give Flagras a chance. “Lohe” is well worth the effort for putting across their collective vision. –Dave Wolff

L.V.: Vocals
Maldoror: Rhythm guitar
HxN: Lead guitar, synthesizer
Beta: Synthesizer
M.: Bass
Mnlths: Drums

Track list:
1. Crupta
2. Kairos
3. Toverie
4. Útiseta
5. Winternacht

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Full Length Review: Amon Amarth "The Great Heathen Army" (Metal Blade) by Dave Wolff

Band: Amon Amarth
Location: Stockholm
Country: Sweden
Genre: Melodic death metal
Full Length: The Great Heathen Army
Format: CD, digipak CD, digital, vinyl
Label: Metal Blade
Release date: August 5, 2022
If I recall correctly it was 2016 when I wrote about Amon Amarth. I was commenting on the tragic love story in "Jornsviking" which had just been released. Also their video for "Raise Your Horns". Despite not being a conceptual effort, "The Great Heathen Army" has a personal meaning for them because it was written and composed during the pandemic. The new album explores newer ideas about Viking cultural history, likening embodying the Viking warrior code to overcoming modern-day obstacles such as Covid's impact on the music industry.
While "Jornsviking" received mixed reactions from fans, Amon Amarth continued to mix things up on each album. 'The Great Heathen Army' explores uncharted territory for vocalist Johan Hegg. In the course of what seemed like a brief hiatus, a much longer hiatus allowed the band ample time to develop. Hegg's wife suggested researching more obscure aspects of Viking culture, and it turned out to be a balanced album between their usual formula and deeper concepts.
We have come to expect crushing heaviness from "The Great Heathen Army," and it is a little more melodious and polished this time around. The Swedish melodic death metal and Viking metal genres are rigid and well-defined; Hypocrisy, At The Gates and In Flames come to mind when it comes to formula; but a keen ear will detect some differences between this album and their earlier work. As a whole, it strikes me as a band making every effort to make their heavy qualities more accessible to a wider audience.
Andy Sneap who has worked in the studio with notable bands including Judas Priest, Megadeth, Opeth, Fear Factory, Dream Theater and Saxon was approached by Amon Amarth to helm the production. His experience worked at burnishing their sound and creating a consistency from the band’s origins in the Swedish sound to added shades of old school power metal (along the lines of Iron Maiden, Helloween and Metal Church). Conspicuous improvements are in “Heidrun”, “Saxons and Vikings” and “Skagul Rides with Me” with more depth and intricate musicianship accompanying the heaviness.
The changes most personal to Hegg and the band are “Get in the Ring” (not to be confused with Guns N Roses), “The Great Heathen Army” (based on the Great Heathen Army of 865) and “Find a Way or Make One”. In these Hegg employs Viking history and mythology as allegory for modern day topics. Again the Covid pandemic is among the most obvious. Despite how it affected the music industry, particularly the underground, in his words, “you can’t stop fighting just because there is something in your way”. For me, songs like “Dawn of Norsemen” exhibited the most balance between abrasive guitars and Smith-Murray lead harmonies.
Amon Amarth made three promotional videos for the new album; I’ll post them below this review so readers can watch for themselves. These videos are available for viewing at their official Youtube profile and information about each of them can be read there. One vid that stood out was “Find a Way or Make One”. Set in an office and worked on with a full professional crew, it exaggeratedly depicts stressful situations at the workplace and the frustrations they can create. Is music a healthy release for it? After everything is said and done I may well still agree with that point. –Dave Wolff

Johan Hegg: Vocals
Olavi Mikkonen: Guitar
Johan Söderberg: Guitar
Ted Lundström: Bass
Jocke Wallgren: Drums

Track list:
1. Get in the Ring
2. The Great Heathen Army
3. Heidrun
4. Oden Owns You All
5. Find a Way or Make One
6. Dawn of Norsemen
7. Saxons and Vikings
8. Skagul Rides with Me
9. The Serpent's Trail


Thursday, August 4, 2022

Full Length Review: Incantation "Tricennial of Blasphemy" (Relapse Records) by Dave Wolff

Band: Incantation
Location: Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Country: USA
Genre: Death metal
Format: Digital, CD, vinyl
Release date: July 28, 2022 (digital), October 7. 2022 (CD, vinyl)
There seems to be an eternity since Incantation was just another New York band playing darker, more extreme metal. Who would have thought that they would remain a major force in the death metal genre for over thirty years and influence generations of bands along the way? With Pyrexia, Mortician, Suffocation and Internal Bleeding they helped shape underground metal for years to come. On the Vile Ascension Summer Tour, Goatwhore, Bewitched, and Caveman Cult are accompanying them, and with their latest release “Tricennial of Blasphemy” we can relive their beginnings and look back on their history.
There are unreleased recordings, rare live tracks, compilation appearances, and songs from various seven-inch releases included on "Tricennial of Blasphemy". The most notable is a cover of "Hell Awaits" from the 2000 compilation "Gateway to Hell 2 - A Tribute to Slayer." In three decades founding member John McEntee’s vision slowly evolved from crude rhythms and sacrilegious occult themes to sophisticated lyrical concepts and innovative music that remained brutal while gaining depth, imagination and substance.
I heard of a growing trend in the recording industry towards mixing and mastering with compression with the expectation of getting a better sound. I may be off here, but “Tricennial of Blasphemy” sounds like Incantation choose instead to polish their material the old-school way. If so, this method has helped them to experiment with darker, more sepulchral ambiances while expanding on their central thrash and death metal influences. It also seems to be helping them maintain their unique essence, as can be heard in each track.
I was there when the first death metal bands appeared, and I’m well acquainted with the benefits of this approach. When everything isn't stretched to the point of breaking, you can appreciate the subtle nuances between instruments and vocals much more. As much as in the studio tracks you can hear it in the live shows from Switzerland, France and Ohio in the US. Some of the best horror movies have always been the indie features made without high tech equipment in the 80s. This principle also applies to the “organic” style of producing death metal as Incantation show on later albums like “Vanquish in Vengeance” and ”Sect of Vile Divinities”.
Incantation will stay fresh by building on what they had to work with at the beginning while we know what to expect from their album after all this time. This ensures consistency, progress, and proficient musicianship from musicians who are well versed in their field. -Dave Wolff

John McEntee: Guitar, vocals
Luke Shively: Guitar
Chuck Sherwood: Bass
Kyle Severn: Drums

Track list:
1. Pest Savagery
2. Ordained by Night's Will
3. Obelisk Reflection
4. Nefarious Warriors
5. Degeneration
6. Absolved in Blood
7. Scapegoat
8. Sacrificial Sanctification
9. Thieves of the Cloth
10. Exiling Righteousness
11. Hell Awaits
12. Horde of Bestial Flames
13. Ethereal Misery
14. Impending Diabolical Conquest
15. Forsaken Mourning of Angelic Anguish
16. Nocturnal Kingdom of Demonic Enlightenment
17. Subjugation Divine
18. Emaciated Holy Figure
19. Deliverance of Horrific Prophecies
20. Profanation
21. Intro-Entrantment of Evil
22. Eternal Torture
23. Devoured Death
24. Unholy Massacre
25. Oath of Armageddon (Live)
26. Portal Consecration (Live)
27. Impending Diabolical Conquest (Live)
28. From Hollow Sands (Live)
29. Iconoclasm of Catholicism (Live)
30. Absolved in Blood (Live)
31. Lead to Desolation (Live)

Interview with Erik Leviathan of Misanthropik Torment (second interview) by Dave Wolff

Interview with Erik Leviathan of Misanthropik Torment by Dave Wolff

Please share with the readers of Asphyxium what you've been doing since I interviewed you about a year ago. What is the current status of Misanthropik Torment and what are your other activities?
Since our last discussion I have once again become a solo artist. It seems to be what I am meant to be, all things considered. It is an uphill battle finding dedicated musicians and finding musicians who share my vision. I can't speak for others, however I honestly do not understand the reluctance others have when it comes to speaking the truth about our world. There are a lot of good bands out there and I'm not trying to shit on them, however most of their content is meaningless. Yes they sound good and their lyrics are ok. But as an artist I feel that all of us could use our talents to at least attempt to do something that may benefit the human race. I am by no means a Saint but the vision I have I find to be a worthy cause. Recently I have been hiring musicians from a company called Creative Commons to do all of my instrumental tracks so that I may fulfill my need to create and my desire to open the minds of those who are receptive to what I have to say. I am always met with adversity. I welcome it. It's ok.
The new track “Under Duress” is going to upset a lot of people simply because the cover art is the American flag on fire and displayed upside down. Most may not know this but when the flag is displayed upside down it is a sign of duress. I do not feel the need to explain why I feel our country and our world as a whole is in a state of duress. If one does not know this already then they may never know until it's too late.

When you approached musicians about joining your band, what were usually their reservations about what you wanted to say? In what ways do you believe your lyrics would lead to benefitting humanity?
Normally when I approach musicians about the topics I speak on I am met with things like, you shouldn't put politics in music or that's the wrong message to be sending or that my imagery is too offensive. Musicians I have worked with in the past end up leaving the band because they want to change the sound or they want to change the topics. I'm not really trying to change anything for the sake of fame or fitting in. I have something to say and I've done enough time I feel I have the right to say what I want to say. If what I'm saying is offensive then great it should be. I’ve said this before but no one should like anything about what I have to say. I guess a part of me hopes that I can start a movement of change a rebellion so to speak but I'm not delusional enough to believe that I myself am going to reach that many people with extreme metal. It's hard enough reaching the people that I have thus far. But one can hope for change.
I'm not sure if my lyrics can benefit humanity. I used to think that maybe I would have something to say that others would hear and maybe that would open their eyes and they might be receptive to Enlightenment. A lot of people seem to think I just talk about killing pedophiles that may not be a subject of Enlightenment but I've seen the way our Justice system fails so many survivors of sexual abuse. At the end of the day sex offenders cannot be cured it is a scientific fact that it is something in their brains. So just like a sociopath they will always do what they do. Therefore in my opinion they need to be put down like rabid dogs. However if you dig deeper into my older albums like R.A.T.E-POEWR-B.O.P. I speak on topics that could be beneficial to humanity if one would just digest the lyrics. A song in particular is “The Blueprint Façade” (lyrics below). I'm not saying that I can change the world but it seems that people have stopped caring about changing anything to the point that everyone or most everyone are complacent in being oppressed by every government. The tyrants have taken control and we are led around falling into their division plan. We are constantly at war with each other over anything that makes us different from one another. Our differences should bring us together not separate us. But hey who am I? I don't know anything I'm just an ex con.

With extreme metal becoming more widely accepted in the mainstream thanks to music television channels, do you think that gives you more of a chance to be heard? Or is there too much pressure from outside sources to tone your lyrics down?
I think that is a good thing that extreme metal is becoming more widely accepted, however because of that acceptance it has become more commercialized as well and that takes away from its authenticity. Metal was never supposed to be a multimillion dollar business, however corporate vampires have found a way to capitalize on musicians who just want to be heard. By extreme metal becoming commercialized this gives those who have the power to censor what an extreme metal artist has to say. I've seen it with several bands who would use their platform to speak out against injustice then the big companies come in and make them change their image and what they talk about to a more polished watered down type of metal. So I myself do not think that it being commercialized is a good thing.

Any examples you’ve seen of bands forced to tone down their “image” so they’d be more palatable to the masses?
There are many bands I have seen make subtle changes to their music and image so that they could be more palatable to the masses if you take a look at Marilyn Manson in the early 90s he was the king of controversy, then in 2007 his music became more about relationships. Everybody seems to love a good breakup song. But his music used to be something one could stand for. Especially with the album “Antichrist Superstar”. Another example is Whitechapel. Slayer was forced to put an alternate album cover on the “God Hates Us All” album due to the Catholic Church being so offended by the imagery of a bloody Bible with nails in it. There are many bands throughout the history of metal who have been forced into subtle changes to appease what fits the norm. Those who do not conform stay in the underground and are doomed to forever struggle to pay for their career.

What were the ways in which Whitechapel was pressed by critics and religious groups offended by what they wrote? Years after the 80s’ satanic panic, people might think there would be less intolerance about music. However, is it possible that the groups demonizing bands may have a vested interest?
Whitechapel’s music used to be geared more towards political corruption, and corruption in the music industry. However if you listen to their newer albums, they have completely switched their topics and their sound. I can only assume that they did so due to some backlash from their “Mark of the Blade” album.
In my opinion the only logical way to view the satanic panic of the 80s is a simple fear of losing control over the masses. Most bands who were persecuted for their imagery were not even really talking about Satan nor were they Satanists themselves. For example the band Kiss was widely protested against due to their wardrobe and face paint. The media tried to say that Kiss stood for Knights In Satan’s Service, however all of their songs were about love and rock and roll or sex. None of their songs had anything to do with the devil. Ozzy Osbourne was labeled the Prince Of Darkness and the media and religious fanatics tried to say his music was of the devil, however most of his songs were about rebelling against a tyrannical religious system that was speaking hatred and deceit. In my opinion their reasons for attacking these bands is that most of them are telling the truth that they don't want to be told. It’s a threat to their hold on people. What better way to control everyone than to make them believe in something that they need. If you can make someone believe in something with their whole being you can control them. They don't want anyone who has common sense to rattle that cage so they publicly put them on display as the enemy to detour people from listening to them. So yes I do believe there is a vested interest there.

Are more people seeing through the diversionary tactic religious groups are using to control the masses?
I think more people are starting to wake up, more so nowadays than ever before. The issue is, it's not the people who have the influence or the power to make any real changes.

There have been indications on the net that a second satanic panic is starting, one that seems even more intolerant than the panic of the 80s and 90s. Do you see any of those indications? One of the last prejudices people have that hinder true progress in the world.
I don't think that the satanic panic ever really left. People just got used to it. I do believe that it is becoming stronger and that's why people are starting to notice it again. The church is now starting to write laws for our country so that speaks volumes as to the so called separation of church and state. Next thing you know it's going to be a crime to speak against their fairy tale God.

Metal fests in the US and Europe seem to be a good choice for artists who do not conform to remain above water, thanks to the labels who help organize the events. Would you like Misanthropik Torment to perform at any of these events? Which ones?
I would love to have Misanthropik Torment on a festival, one in mind would be Wacken in Europe or even Metal in the Mountains in West Virginia. Really to me it doesn't matter; if there is a stage and I have a full band I'll perform almost anywhere.

What was the last metal fest you were able to attend? How large was the event and did it make you want to attend another one?
The last festival I attended was Mountains of Metal here in Kentucky. It was a nice event in the mountains of London Kentucky. I'd definitely go back.

Who appeared at Mountains of Metal and how much of a buzz was created for it in the weeks before it was held? How long has this fest been an item?
Mountains of Metal is a small underground festival put on by Mike Brewer. This festival's line up is made up of Kentucky’s local bands. When I went they had Left to the Wolves, Creature of Exile, Nekrowinter, Bastard Sons of a Judas Goat, Granshaw and about five other bands As far as a buzz, everyone local knows about it.

There is no doubt that the US is in bad shape, and has been for some time. There is growing concern not only here, but also in other countries. Are there personal concerns you have about that?
It's not just America that is in ruin. It’s the whole world. America however leads the world into the chaos we all face. My personal concerns are when the shit finally hits the fan what kind of future will our children have. I worry that our children will suffer tyranny like we never have before. I don't have all the answers but common sense dictates if something is wrong change it; do something different. Sure it may be hard at first but as humans we can adapt to the changes that need to be made in order for us to survive and find a sense of tranquility amongst each other.

Do you happen to have any thoughts about Putin and his meetings with Trump, etc?
My thoughts on the whole Putin and Trump meetings would probably get me in serious shit if I were someone with influence. However I am not so I think it's safe for me to say that I think the invasion of the Ukraine was planned as a distraction. I believe that Trump is just a big a tyrant as Putin and they both should be treated as war criminals. In my opinion those in power are allowing the insanity to continue so that they can further manipulate the masses and influence the sheep. The illusion of freedom is slowly being stripped away due to the atrocities that those in power allow to transpire. It's all misdirection to confuse and manipulate the people so that they may continue their strangle hold and keep their positions of power. I suggest everyone read a book titled “The 48 Laws of Power” by Robert Green. This book will teach you the ways of manipulation on a level that one would never even think to notice.

How timely did you find “The 48 Laws of Power” in relation to what’s currently happening in the world?
I read the 48 laws of power when I was in prison. I read the book because I was informed about how it breaks down basic human manipulation. I've always been curious about human behavior so I picked up the book and when I read it, it really opened up my eyes to the world around me. I find the tactics in this book to be on point with how our world leaders keep the masses in their place. I recommend everyone pick up a copy read it and open their eyes to the truth.

Can you tell me how you learned about Creative Commons and what they do? Are the musicians you found through them comfortable working with you?
Creative Commons is a company of instrumental musicians who make royalty free music for people to use for free. All one has to do is credit the artist channel so others know who did the music. The artists whom I have worked with don’t ask me about my lyrics. I think most are indifferent about what the instrumentals are used for.

Who are you working on your new material with? To your knowledge have any of those musicians worked for other bands before contacting you? Do they have any hand in the songwriting or are you teaching them the song arrangements?
Jonathan Nesbitt and I are working on a new album. Jonathan and I were very pleased with the sound of the last Misanthropik Torment album "KillYourLocalPedophile". We feel that the last album really hit what we were going for. We have a sound in mind and honestly Jonathan Nesbitt is the only musician I know who shares and supports my vision. I have a couple more tracks to finish with creative commons before I start tracking for the new album. But we are really stoked to take Misanthropik Torment to a new level. People are either going to love it or hate it there is no in-between when it comes to that.

How long has Jonathan Nesbitt worked in Misanthropik Torment with you, and how have you and he managed to work together and share the same ideas for so long?
Jonathan Nesbitt and I have worked together on and off since early 2019, and we work well together. We both enjoy Classic Death Metal and seem to share the same views. We honestly think that if someone is blind to the truth about our world today they are blind by choice because it's right there in our face every day. I honestly have no idea how anyone with half a brain could not notice it. Jonathan has a very unique style for Misanthropik Torment. His music really represents what Misanthropik Torment is. Which is Raw and Brutal. I've worked with a lot of other musicians and have dabbled with many different styles of Extreme metal though I am proud of every album. I feel that the albums with Jonathan are Misanthropik Torment's best work.

Which albums released by Misanthropik Torment that you and Nesbitt would consider to be the most professional and innovative?
The "Reincarnation" and "KillYourLocalPedophile" albums are some of our best work. I myself feel like the mix on those albums are some of the best mixes I have done. Musically Johnathan Nesbitt really delivers what those albums needed. The upcoming album we are working on is just going to take what we do to another level. I feel we get better every time we record.

In what ways are you and Nesbitt growing as musicians together?
Nesbitt and I bring the best out of each other creatively. It's hard to explain but his music brings out my best vocals and writing.

What inspired you to write “The Blueprint Façade” and what exactly did you intend to put across to people through the lyrics?
The Blueprint Façade written out of my disgust for bigotry, racial division, and the religious strangle hold that plagues humans who feel the need to believe in a God. I am by no means bashing anyone for what they choose to believe in, if that belief makes that person the best person they can be then cool. There is a lyric in the song that says wake up in the morning with your god. My meaning for this is, if everyone just woke up and didn't focus their energy on killing each other or hating or having animosity towards each other for their differences and they just focused in their beliefs and practiced what they preached then the world would endure less bloodshed. I also say in the song that the Government is not God. The reason I touch on this is because since the dawn of time Governments of one kind or another have used religious idealism to keep the masses separated and keep us pitted against each other. If we are all too busy fighting each other we don't have the ability to see who the real enemy is until it's too late. This track has multiple topic in it. I also speak on the racist nazis these people who carry on a meaningless race war spreading mindless hate. Most of them do not even know why they hate. They only hate because someone else told them to. It doesn't make sense to me. I mean life is hard enough, why complicate it with more war and more mindless hate?

How much does media have to do with the division you discuss in “The Blueprint Façade”?
The media has a big part in “The Blueprint Façade”. The media is just as guilty as the person committing the mindless acts that I speak on. Most people believe what the TV tells them and the media is just another tool used to divide humanity and spread disinformation.

During our previous interview, we discussed cancel culture and its potential impact. Since then, have you seen more instances of this?
Cancel culture has killed Marilyn Manson’s career along with Johnny Depp’s. Cancel culture has attacked Joe Rogan simply because they don't like what he has to say. I myself do not like or dislike Joe Rogan. I agree with some of what he has to say. But that's neither here nor there. It doesn't matter if anyone likes what anyone has to say. Everyone has a right to voice what they choose to voice. Just because one doesn't like it does not give anyone else the right to destroy their career. People try to cancel me all the time and I'm not even on a level of influence that what I have to say should matter at all to them the only reason I haven't been canceled I'd because I publish everything myself there are many people who continue to listen and as long as people are listening to the music I will continue making it.

I noticed you recently completed new Misanthropik Torment tracks. What are these songs about and where can interested parties find them? Anything else you’re working on?
There are five new tracks from Misanthropik Torment, well sort of new. “The Rage of Wrath”, “Under Duress”, “Oblivion”, “19 Children Dead (Fuck the Police)”, “Kill the Tyrant (Vladimir Putin)”. All of these tracks will be going on the album Under Duress. Which the cover art is of the American flag upside down and on fire. This is not a desecration of the flag by any means. It is a statement. When the flag is displayed upside down it is a sign of duress. These tracks talk about the state of our world and the state of America. All one needs to do to see what I am trying to convey is take a look around the world then read the lyrics to each track.
After the “Under Duress” album is finished Jonathan Nesbitt and I are working on another old school death metal album. I am also still writing my book “The Evolution of My Psychosis”. Anyone can find out more about Misanthropik Torment on our website.

-Dave Wolff

Music Created By Panos Karayannis
Band: Misanthropik Torment
Lyrics and Vocals Erick Leviathan Scarlet
Artwork Design: Erick Leviathan Scarlet
Computer Graphic Design: Claudiu Ciorbaru

Blindly following the masses will render you to being a mindless drone, leaving you with mindless hate. Mindless hate, breeds meaningless violence. Think for yourself, if you must hate, hate for your reasons, not someone else's.


Blindly you seek and destroy,
your disease is hereditary,
past down generation after generation
you mold, only listening to the words that they stated,
but did you, yourself ever stop to question why
you hated, or did they write that chapter for you too?


Nonsensical judgements
Divisions of importance
waging war built upon qualities
and characteristics


All is lost you pay a terrible cost
All is lost you pay a terrible cost
All is lost you pay a terrible cost

This separation of divinity, is kind of senseless to me
Wake up in the morning with your GOD.
Wake up in the morning with your GOD!

Nonsensical judgements
Divisions of importance
waging war built upon qualities
and characteristics
United we stand, divided they

If you think that I tell lies, I'll tell you once more the TRUTH is there before you, all one must do is OPEN YOUR EYES!!!!!!!

For we are all just searching for a sense of tranquility
yet we are walking through Satan's playground
and every path leads us into the unknown.


Face the DEMON
Face the ENEMY inside
you see these words they are not mine
they are of OUR DIVINE!

All is lost they pay a terrible cost
All is lost they pay a terrible cost
All is lost they pay a terrible cost

Face YOUR ENEMY inside
you see these words they are not mine
they are of the divine.

Wake up in the morning with your GOD
this separation of divinity
is kind of senseless to me
Wake up in the morning with your GOD.

Nonsensical judgements
Divisions of importance
waging war built upon qualities
and characteristics
United we stand, divided they

If you think that I tell lies, I'll tell you once more
Just open YOUR eyes

Blindly you seek and destroy,
your disease is hereditary,
past down generation after generation
you mold, only listening to the words that they stated,
but did you, yourself ever stop to question why
you hated, or did they write that chapter for you too?

From “Rebell Against The Establishment Power Belongs To The People, released December 12, 2018. All rights reserved.