Monday, October 31, 2022

Full Length Review: Wax Mekanix "Mobocracy (Deluxe Edition)" (Electric Talon Records) by Dave Wolff

Artist: Wax Mekanix
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Country: USA
Genre: Rock
Full length: Mobocracy (Deluxe Edition)
Format: Digital, CD
Label: Electric Talon Records (USA)
Release date: October 28, 2022
It would be an oversimplification to say Wax Mekanix is a well-rounded musician, but his work is deeper and more complex. Playing by the same set of rules while drawing from this genre today and that genre tomorrow is too easy. And it seems Wax Mekanix is aesthetically beyond this mindset.
While 80s rock bands jumped on the bandwagon of playing acoustic sets, Wax Mekanix creates something diverse to the point of schizophrenia and manages to hold it all together. I honestly hoped I wasn't going to be disappointed by another collection of generic, uninspired rock songs when this album started. I was relieved to discover this wasn’t the case with the beginning of the second track.
An expanded reissue of his album “Mobocracy”, “Mobocracy (Deluxe Edition)” is a labyrinth of 70s and 80s rock, folk, industrial, tribal, Native American, country and western, early metal, early grunge and early punk a la Iggy, Bowie and Lou Reed. As KMFDM are to industrial, Sam Astaroth is to rap metal and Bergfried are to folk metal, Wax Mekanix are to modern rock in equal quantities.
Unlike many hard rock bands of the latter half of the 1980s, they disregard the rulebook and produce something that's in no way paint-by-numbers. Every rule is thrown out the window and new standards are established where anything can enhance his core style.
Depending on the song, the lead vocals and production are as flexible as the musicianship, and even the mellowest compositions are given a harder edge, taking them beyond the accessibility constraints artists had to keep in mind. Native American and tribal influences are prevalent to various levels, giving the material a massive boost of heaviness. A sense of foreboding is present in the atmosphere that is unusual for a hard rock album and thus refreshing.
Due to the risks Wax Mekanix takes, I expect more people will become familiar with him. –Dave Wolff

Wax Mekanix: Lead and backing vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, drums, percussion (tracks 1-6)
Lectriq: Backing vocals, percussion (tracks 1-6)
Brandon Yeagley: Backing vocals (tracks 1-6)
Chris Bishop: Electric and acoustic guitars (tracks 2, 3, 6)
Tom Altman: Guitar, bass (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5)
Wendell PoPs Sewell: Guitar, bass (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5)
John Hazel: Guitar, bass (track 4)
Raje Shwari: Backing vocals (track 3)
M11SON: Backing vocals (track 2)
Tommy Conwell: Backing vocals (track 2)
Nataliya Odud: Backing vocals (track 2)
Eli Goldman: Backing Vocals (track 2)

Track list:
1. Blood in My Eyes
2. Victorious
3. All Freaks
4. Mad World
5. Ghostland
6. Black
7. Head
8. Manchester Strawberry Blonde
9. Freak Boutique
10. All Freaks (Acoustic Demo)
11. Black (Blue Oak Mix)
12. Bloodshed (Electric Demo)
13. Mad World (Zeuss Mix)
14. Victorious (Acoustic Demo)
15. Bloodshed (Acoustic Demo)
16. Victorious (Radio Version)

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Full Length Review: Liber Null "For Whom Is The Night" (Immortal Frost Productions) by Gene Olivarri

Band: Liber Null
Country: Netherlands, Italy
Genre: Black metal
Full Length: For Whom Is The Night
Format: Digital, jewel case CD, standard black vinyl, opaque gold vinyl, transparent ultra clear/black & white insomnia vinyl
Label: Immortal Frost Productions
Release date: June 24, 2022
Tonight's chopping block is Liber Null album “For Whom Is The Night”. The music on this album is a sonic bang of tempos with twists with such heavy damaging attacks in so many ways. The vocals are strong very haunting perfectly done with tons of power. The bass really sticks out very well it has such a full tone the drums are so great on this release such mind-blowing percussion and percussionist behind this band. Liber Null is such a talented band they can wear many haunting faces with their music I can not wait to hear more of this band all in all I give this release 5 outta 10 you will not be disappointed at all with this band go out and buy this release. –Gene Olivarri

Psaalm: Vocals
Ades: Guitars, Bass
Thorns: Drums

Track list:
1. Nocturnal Craft
2. Hexenblood Vessel
3. Gandreidh
4. Mercy As A Blade
5. To Death's Light
6. They Listen In

Friday, October 21, 2022

Film review: Hellraiser (2022) by Gene Olivarri

With Odessa A’zion, Jamie Clayton, Adam Faison
Directed by David Bruckner
Written by Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski, David S. Goyer
Based on “The Hellbound Heart” by Clive Barker
Distributed by Hulu
20th Century Studios, 247Hub, Phantom Four Films, Spyglass Media Group
Released September-October 2022
As we all know, Doug Bradley's Pinhead has always been the staple of this franchise for decades. This new adaptation of Pinhead is played by trans actress Jaime Clayton, which is great since this way it will bring us closer to Clive Barker's book. Well visually yes but the new Pinhead was PERFECT in the visual sense. Her character lacked fear and mercy. The Cenobites looked and were very amazing; I loved the new puzzle box but it LACKED GORE!!!!!!!!!!! The reason I say this is because there was nothing innovative with the kills in this movie like the ones of the past. C'mon Hulu we’re in 2022 soon to be in 2023; give us some good kills and give us something to talk about here. The main actress Riley played by Odessa A'zion was so-so. She and her boyfriend find the puzzle box in a safe and later in the movie her boyfriend is in cahoots with Mr. Voight. Mr. Voight does Pinhead’s bidding and gets tricked which this character Mr. Voight becomes the most interesting and best part out of the entire film at the end.
This was just a small step above the last Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie. Which isn’t saying much. I loved the first three Hellraiser movies; I personally can do without the rest. This Pinhead though is not good. Pinhead is not scary and I'm hoping for better movies to come. All and all I give this 3 blood drops outta 10. –Gene Olivarri

Monday, October 17, 2022

Interview with Mitch Sigge of Priorities by Dave Wolff

Interview with Mitch Sigge of Priorities by Dave Wolff

Since its release your two track compilation “Medusa” and “If I Believed” has been described as crushing, promising and laying bare broken dreams for the listener. Are you satisfied with the press so far?
Mitch Sigge (vocals): The press we have been getting on the two track has been amazing. When I was writing lyrics to these songs I honestly never thought they would see the light of day, I wrote the lyrics for these songs when I was in a really dark place, but it always nice to hear when some people come up and say that they connected with the lyrics. It really warms my heart to see these two songs do so well, it still blows my mind the reception we have received from them.

What are those two tracks written about, and looking back, what about them do you think has personally spoken to your listeners and reviewers?
The two tracks were centered on how to deal with being in a toxic relationship, whether it is a relegation ship, friendship or family member. They also speak about the aftermath of breaking free from such a bad environment and trying to find who you are again. This is something I think a lot of people have dealt with in some form or another so I think that’s what people seem to connect with.

Did you first think the two track would not be received as well because the personal and dark nature of those songs? How cathartic was writing them?
It was super cathartic to get everything off my chest. It’s not that I don’t think they were going to be received well, it was more that when I was writing these lyrics it was just an outlet for me to be open with myself. I just never thought they would ever actually become songs or even be something I would release.

Those songs sound like a far cry from the machismo and/or badassery metal has been known for. Were you concerned with them being labeled overly sensitive or did you write what you felt, judgment be damned?
I find it almost like therapy to write songs that mean something to mean and help me work through what’s happening in my life at that point in time.

How much do you see metal, metalcore and underground music taking more of a turn toward the subject matter you opted for?
I’ve seen it be more and more common for bands to talk about the subject of mental health and being honest with themselves. As much as I love songs about killing demons and the eventual uprising of the machines, I do appreciate seeing bands connecting with their audience on an emotional level as well.

How often do you notice bands writing more personal lyrics? In what ways does this undermine preconceptions of metalcore?
We actually see it a lot more these days than you’d think. Some vocalists are a lot more metaphorical than I am. Which is an awesome way to get what you’re trying to say across without being so straightforward.

Who are some of the lyricists in metalcore you admire? Provide some examples of their lyrics if you can?
The lyricist I admire most would be Caleb Shomo from Beartooth. You can hear in his lyrics and as the albums have progressed through his career that he’s not afraid to talk about his insecurities and the way his mental state is from album to album.

Can you provide us with some examples of Caleb Shomo’s self-expression through his lyrics? How have his lyrics progressed as Beartooth progressed musically?
You can sorta hear within his lyrics the change in his mental state over the years, with older songs like “In Between” and “I Have a Problem” where he hits on his depression and alcoholism with lyrics like “life’s so dark when every day is a struggle, why go out to see the world on fire” and “substance therapy never set me free”.
Continue on to his newer stuff from the album “Below” which was written during Covid, I think he really encapsulates how we were all feeling during that time. Below is a dark album but it makes sense for the time it was written in.
Now just hearing Beartooth’s new song “Riptide” and follow Caleb’s journey of self-improvement with lyrics like “full of excuses for why too long, don’t wanna sing another hopeless song”. It’s a hard hitting so with a positive spin on it, which is different for them, but it does show his mental health improvement after coming out of Covid and working to better himself. It’s really inspiring to me.

How deep seated was the connection people had with your two track? Did they connect with your songs in different ways or were the connections mostly similar?
It’s only been a few people that have come up here and there, but it seems to be that people connect with the honesty behind the two songs. If our songs help people when they are having a hard time then that’s more than I could ever ask for.

When you started in Priorities did you have the idea of writing songs that honestly convey how people feel in detrimental situations? How does metalcore fit this?
When Priorities first started I was the guitarist, so I had the lyrics to these songs but no intention of using them. Eventually I ended up on vocals coz it was easier to find a guitarist than a vocalist and I figured I would just learn in the job. I think a lot of people go through really rough times and just bottle all that emotion up, I am one of them. So I think metal and metalcore really helps relieve all of that bottled up emotion, whether it be moshing, singing or screaming at the top of your lungs.

It’s a known stereotype that vocals in metal and metalcore are just screaming and yelling, in spite of the amount of vocalists who with melodic voices. Do you have a special technique for your singing so as not to damage your vocal cords?
I 100% started with the Youtube videos and learning how to use my diaphragm. I started were everyone did with trying to emulate my favourite vocalists and constantly blowing my voice out. The best piece of advice I heard was that, your voice is unique to you so learn how far you can push yourself without it hurting and then learn how to get deeper or higher or pitch it in a way from there. I am by no means a fantastic vocalist, and I’m still constantly working to get better.

What vocal coaches were you watching while working on your metalcore vocals? Which of them offered the best advice on how to use the proper parts of your body so you don’t damage anything else?
I watched a bit of Melissa Cross I believe her name is. She was an opera coach turned screaming coach. And then just various Youtubers that all have their little techniques and pieces of advice as to not hurt yourself when screaming. Mostly I have a few friends that scream as well, so taking their advice on board is always helpful.

Did you purchase Melissa Cross’ DVD “The Zen of Screaming”? Voice Hacks is a worthwhile Youtube channel as it extensively covers different vocal approaches. Who else have you seen at Youtube?
I didn’t purchase “The Zen of Screaming”; I got what I could from Youtube and some bits and pieces from some friends. It’s was super useful. I’ve seen a handful of other people on Youtube, I do forget the name of them though. The best bit of advice I got was, your voice is your own and you have to find where you sit comfortably first and then learn to expand from there.

Do you know enough about vocalizing to open your own tutorial profile at Youtube if you wanted to? Or is there more work you need to do on your voice?
I think I know enough to give tips here and there but nowhere near enough to start my own. I’m still learning as well.

Who is working with you in Priorities? Is this the first job of the other members or have any of them been involved in other bands? If it’s the latter, how does their experience contribute to the band’s sound? In what ways does your style of playing fit with theirs?
The boys are all absolute legends. All of them bring their own unique flair to the tracks. We have all played in bands previously. Me and Alan were in a hardcore punk band together, Dean was in more of a skate punk band with screams, and Sando playing in a sick metalcore band back in the day. Dan hasn’t played in band prior to this but he is an amazing guitarist none the less.

How experienced at performing and recording are the band’s other members? Are everyone in the band metalcore fans or do they also incorporate other genres?
All the other band members have played live and recorded at some point before, some more than others, but everyone in the band is very confident with their instrument and all of them are fantastic to play alongside. All of us have known each other for quite some time out side of the band as well. So we really are just a big group of mates having fun and playing music. I think it shows when we play live as there can be a fair bit of banter in between songs.

How much easier does knowing one another help you work together, record and perform live as a band?
It makes writing and recording a lot easier, coz we find we bounce off of each other really well. As for playing on stage, it makes it more fun coz we all get along and we get to do dumb banter and run around like idiots.

Are “Medusa” and “If I Believed” the only songs you’ve completed writing and arranging to date, or are there more you’re working on?
We have actually just released a third single that came out on the 16th of September called “No Gods No Kings”. We are super stoked with this song and we have a five track EP that will be coming out soon. Just putting the last pieces together.

What is “No Gods No Kings” about and was it recorded by the same process as your previous singles? How well has it been received since it came out and where can it be heard?
“No Gods No Kings” is about recognizing that you are being controlled by someone else that may or may not have the best intentions for you, and dealing with the outcome of overcoming that control. It’s littered with video game references from “Bioshock”, which the game story wise actually deals with a similar issue. It’s seems to be received really well. It’s definitely my favourite song we have released so far.

Were there other sources of inspiration for “No Gods No Kings” besides “Bioshock”? Such as movies or literature for example? How do the lyrics differ from your previous material?
I’d say other sources would be just conversations I’ve had with friends and family, just hearing people’s stories of having to rebuild themselves after a bad break up or being in a toxic environment and finally getting away from it.

Anything you want to share about the conversations you’ve based “No Gods No Kings” on, if it’s not too personal? How much did you hear about people rebuilding themselves?
As far as stuff I’m comfortable with sharing, I was in a fairly abusive relationship and even with my friends and family telling me I had to get out of it, I was under the impression that everything was fine. I didn’t listen to people that were just looking out for me because I thought this person had my best interests at heart. Which turned out to not be true. It was a very one sided relationship and I was being manipulated every step of the way. I had friends in similar places but I feel it’s not my place to tell their stories on a public platform.

What can you share about the EP you’re currently working on? How much of it is completed and how much has yet to be wrapped up? What is the subject matter like?
The EP is called “Human After All”. The tracks are all along a similar line of dealing with depression and anxiety, but from different angles. Like “Broken Glass” is more about being in the thick of it and how it can affect you mentally. Whereas “If I Believed” is dealing with the aftermath of everything and not knowing what to do with yourself, feeling hopeless and lost and like the world is against you, and having to face it all on your own. The EP will be out on the 21st of October.

Is this EP going to be self-produced or are you working with professionals to help improve your sound from your previous material? Is it at a studio or the band’s home studio?
Yeah the EP is entirely self-produced, our drummer Sando has his own business call ‘Blast Amp’ and he has done all of our stuff. The studio is at his place and it is also our practice space so that really helps with everything to. In the sense of being able to come up with random riffs when we are writing and immediately record it.

How about a label to release “Human After All” on? Are you seeking a release deal to distribute it or are you opting to release and distribute it independently?
This one is going to be an independent release. We haven’t even really thought about labels at this point in time.

How much do you expect to continue improving lyrically as well as musically, making your lyrics deeper and more meaningful to your supporters?
I always feel I’m progressing lyrically and the boys are always doing an amazing job writing the music, we’re are starting to explore a slightly different sound with some of the newer stuff we are writing but that won’t be ready for a while.

What do you want to see Priorities accomplish career wise? What would the band need to do to see it happen?
Career wise we all love playing shows and writing so it’s kinda just never ending. We all get together every week to practice and record and talk about how we can improve our show to make it more entertaining. We all want to take this as far as it will go. I’d personally love to do some more interstate show or even end up on a tour, but we will see what happens as things go.

-Dave Wolff

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Poem: "Black Star" by Alison Stone

Black Star
Alison Stone

Final London weeks
dancing to Heroes
with my lover
in a nightclub’s fractured light,
as our skin shimmered, bodies ached --
Though nothing can drive them away --
it seemed that Bowie
beat them for us,
his odd eyes
commanding time, transforming
just one day
into a type of forever.

Poem: "Remember when" by Jeremy Void

Remember when
Jeremy Void

Remember when
we had lives
and we could go out
into the world
and live them

Remember when there
was a pandemic
and our lives were halted
and everyone everywhere
got locked inside
for as long as I can remember

Remember when they
poked us with
a needle so that
everything could go back
to normal but still
with realistic wariness
because socializing has become
alien and I can’t remember
any of my friends’ names
or faces
or interests
or anything

and now I stare out my window
wanting to leave my home
just for an evening
but I forgot how to
go outside
and I’m scared of everything
and everyone
and I feel hopeless
and alienated
and I forgot how to be
an actual human being
I’ve always been

an anxious person
but now it’s worse

Remember when they told us
the world was ending and I
believed them
and now they say
the world is back to normal
but I know it’s all a setup
because it hasn’t ended fast enough
but I believe

it already has
We’re all just too dumb and stubborn
to see it for

Poem: "Rebel Against The Establishment Power Belongs To The People" by Erik Leviathan

Rebel Against The Establishment Power Belongs To The People
Erik Leviathan

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 you pay a terrible cost
All is lost you pay a terrible cost
All is lost you 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? see less

all rights reserved

Poem: "Flowered Moon" by Sky Claudette Soto

Flowered Moon
Sky Claudette Soto

I look up to see a Flowered moon painted of blood visually and esoterically full and bright as I peer unto portals opening up .. spirits walk on through, in a luminous of ways about the night reflecting over the rivers waters as a shimmering rain falls, onto stones...resembling stoned pavers splashing up against iridescent waters...while Dragonflies and hummingbirds, fly by, tellable in every way and in every light.... a sweet mist billows onward below a beaming light from the grounds near the rivers tide, clearin thine spirits soul ... while mullein sits as tall as a bodied soul waiting... waiting to be picked from the grounds vessels up.

First American Publishing rights only, Copyright and written by Sky Claudette Soto

Poem: "Legacy Dichotomy" by Tanner Reiss

Legacy Dichotomy
Tanner Reiss

When your time for life comes to end, what is it you wish to leave behind? What shall be signed as your legacy? What memories will fill your embassy? Are you sure you are ready to answer the question truthfully?

If so, you must face the dichotomy of your own mortality. For there is no one more versed then yee to command the course, yet, it is thy who shall demand the final verse. I, not a friend, not a lover, not your brother nor your sister. I am the creature that pens the final ledger.

A hellacious monster whose laugh echos off every chamber. An internal neighbour who discarded their disclaimer. Yes, your legacy, as important as it may be, may be written as fiction. Offering no chance of correction or even inspection.

Graded not by prosperity, not by property, not by materialistic claims. Not by fame, not by name, not by corporate gains. I care not for your social media trends nor your broken-hearted romantic friends. For legacy depends on actions taken when the audience ends. How will your legacy appear in retrospection?

When your time for life comes to end, what is it you wish to leave behind? What shall be signed as your legacy? What memories will fill your embassy? Are you sure you are ready to answer the question truthfully? Be warned, take careful concern not to answer in tom foolery. May I remind you, I am the ultimate psychological bully?

Shall we begin your legacy?

April 10, 2022

Poem: "Enslaved" by Steven Michael Pape

©® Steven Michael Pape 2022

Enslaved by this poison,
That once made you whole
Now lying in despair,
As it sucks out your soul.

The pin prick reality,
Blackened spoon dream
Laid out on the table,
Your own alter scene.

Friends don't recognize,
What you've become.
The choices you've made,
Cannot be undone.

Track marks run deep,
Like old railway lines
As you cover your hands,
And try to disguise.

Poisoned blood in your veins,
A deadly connection
A waxwork appearance,
In your complexion.

When the saviour does come,
It's so silent, not loud
As you sit in despair,
Hoping to be found.

Your voice echoes out,
Speakers so old
Turning the sunshine,
Into an encompassing cold.

And in the old photos,
The despair sits in your eyes
As you pray for salvation,
For that final sunrise.

A man in the box,
Flowers surround
As your words are read,
Each line so profound.

For Layne Staley (1967-2002)

Poem: "Ingurgitation!" by Rich Orth

Rich Orth

Conspicuously absent
Consent denied
Reigns upon
Skeletal remains
As madman calculates
Conceptual manifestations
In peripheral truths
Unread daemon's manuscript
Each word personifies
Deifies... conscription
As rust upon shackles
Stripped away
Loosens lock
As keys open truths
Muting... removing
privatized excuses
As death ceases to soothe
Rectitude t'is vacancy
As winterkill
T'is finality of seasons
Of reasons... known and unknown
Confounded ...unfounded
Civics of civility
Not so cryptic

Poem: "Heroin" by Robert McDermott

Robert McDermott

Insidious thief

Stealing from family
To get their daily


Another overdose
Comes so close

Mother weeps before sleep
Stashes her keep

Heads nodding
Feet plodding

All 3 brothers gone
With needles in their arms

I didn't need a revelation
To resist temptation

No urge
For that scourge

Poem: "Shadowland (Life in the shadows)" by Jerry Langdon

Shadowland (Life in the shadows)
(C) Jerry Langdon 2022

Here in the darkness I stare through pools;
Upon a world where light rules.
From a land weaved from shadows,
Where naught but despair grows;
Naught more than grieving sorrows.
I watch these passing until the shutters close.
Ghosts to my world, phantoms of feelings unknown.
For here I am ever only alone.
I peer into these reflections of dream
That are disturbed as my tears stream.
What I wouldn't give to learn to feel
What it's like in a world where I might heal.
Where light .... Oh light, is more than a fancy;
More than these rippled pools of fantasy.

Poem: "The Long Good-Bye" by M Teresa Clayton

The Long Good-Bye
M Teresa Clayton

Where does the time go?
The moments, not so long ago
When I could feel your gentle sigh
Whilst seconds flash and quickly die

Soon lost in moment’s afterglow
Are taken with your gentle sigh

Where does the time go?
We barely said our first hello
When I could have asked the question, why?
Whilst youth was still the sweetest lie

A truth I chose to never know
Buried ‘neath that question, why?

Where does the time go?
The hours seem to ebb and flow
Life is good whilst tide is high
Before we thirst; left parched and dry

Caught in memory’s undertow
Pulled under when the tide is high

Where does the time go?
Blown adrift, the winds of woe
Darkened corners as day turns nigh
I’ve lost my love, gone by and by

Years rush on as the days move slow
And the rhythm of my breath draws nigh

Where does the time go?
Wishing never made it so
Never had the chance to say good-bye
Nor pause to hear your cool reply

Tis’ true we reap the crop we sow
Laid barren now, the whispered long good-bye.

Poem: "I’m Not Dancing With That Bitch Any More" by Judge Santiago Burdon

I’m Not Dancing With That Bitch Any More
Judge Santiago Burdon

First time that I met her, I never had a suspicion, when I loved her, she always made me feel so fine, she'd habitually leave me wanting more, then I'd find myself begging back at her door, I'm not dancing with that bitch any more.
Every time I saw my face in the mirror, making love to those little white lines, I never thought I was losing control, she did my thinking for me, but now I know, I'm not dancing with that bitch any more.
There was nothing pure in her driven snow, just a whiter shade of darkness, where I betrayed my shadow, she choreographed every move I made, I’d perform for her my spastic ballet, I'm not dancing with that bitch any more.
I was ready to sell my soul for her, if I could find me a buyer, I spent my friends for the lies she told, I just couldn't deny her, she had me under her thumb, my legs could move but I couldn't run, I'm not dancing with that bitch any more.

Poem: "The Rabbit Hole (Not Even One)" by James Kenneth Blaylock

The Rabbit Hole (Not Even One)
James Kenneth Blaylock, 10-5-22

I miss you, all those long
years between us, gone

I thought you were so strong,
but you were just hanging on

drugs and alcohol covered,
your wounds, no recovery…

you chose to go on downward,
the rabbit hole goes and goes

a slow suicide, but suicide,
walks beside not even one

Writer’s note: Written for no one,
yet, written for anyone, everyone

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Interview with Vadim Kotov of Renunciation by Dave Wolff

Interview with Vadim Kotov of Renunciation by Dave Wolff

As latecomers to Russian extreme metal, Renunciation formed in 2019 after extensive experience as musicians. This band was formed with the intention of combining various subgenres of metal, especially death metal and black metal. In your compositions, what elements of each genre do you mix and how far back does the band's experience go?
All musicians in Renunciation have more than ten years of band experience and our vocalist Demether began his music career back in the last century, he performed in dozens of bands. The band members played everything from alternative rock to brutal death metal. As regards mixing of styles, for example, we use technical death metal riffing and arrangements over black metal harmonies, it's different from what most death-black metal bands do. You will rarely hear shredding 250+ bpm 16th notes in such music. Also, our chord progressions are often more prog than extreme metal. Moreover, some people see elements of thrash metal and even grindcore in our music. Indeed, some of our riffs are inspired by bands like Sepultura or Napalm Death. It turns out that the label 'melodic black/technical death' is just a simplification but we never intended to do a musical revolution and create a whole unique genre. We just play what we like and don't limit ourselves to clichés and standards.

What inspired you to name the band Renunciation? Is there a meaning the name is meant to put across?
We searched for a word that contains great rebellious potential and is at the same time not too forthright or hackneyed. And of course, this word should have reflected the lyrical concept of the band: rethinking and denial of metaphysical ideas and thought patterns that spoil our consciousness.

Have the members of Renunciation experimented with extreme music before, or is what you’re doing a new approach? How do you make Renunciation unique among other bands in your country?
The musical backbone of Renunciation is from two brothers, Alexey and Vadim, who play also in the technical/progressive death metal band Humaniac for ten years. And the approach in both bands can be called systematic chaos (hello to Dream Theater). The main difference is that in Humaniac chaos>system, in Renunciation it is backward, the system is over chaos, and every song can be called a calculated construction. And this is what distinguishes Renunciation not only from other Russian bands but from most bands all over the world (how often do you hear about calculation and rationality in interviews?). Every note or stroke in our songs exists according to an inner logic that connects seemingly dissimilar elements. It doesn't mean that Renunciation’s music is artificial or soulless. Any cool song in any style is logically perfect, the matter is how this logic is achieved. Most musicians rely on feelings and consistency is a consequence. But we go the other way, first of all, we use logic and the emotional intensity comes after. And we are sure this approach has a right to exist: for example, Rachmaninoff or Beethoven used a lot of rational thinking while composing. It would be ideal to combine logical and emotional approaches and we strive for it. Also, to prove our statement about the uniqueness of Renunciation we can say that targeting in social media was a real challenge for us. Although our music consists of well-known elements, we couldn't find anything that sounds likewise. In Russia for sure.

Name some of the bands you were involved in before Renunciation was formed. Can any albums, EPs, or singles by those bands be found on the web?
The Kotov brothers (Alexey and Vadim) play in the technical/progressive/symphonic death metal band Humaniac, songwriting approach in Renunciation and Humaniac is similar. Polina's main project now is Blackthorn, a quite well-known all-female extreme metal band, and Instorm (melodic death metal). Demether played in dozens of bands, most actual of which are Zmey Gorynych (folk metal/deathcore) and БѢСЪ (Bes, pagan black metal). We'll share only Bandcamp links, all these bands are rather active on the internet and their other stuff can be easily found.

How do you and the band distinguish technical/progressive death metal from brutal death metal?
In theory, we see technicality, progressiveness, and brutality as independent characteristics, that can be mixed in any proportion and there are no borders between them, they are just on different coordinate axes. But only in theory, I repeat, in practice, it's not that simple. I think the main difference between progressive/technical and brutal death metal that we see now is that in the first genre tonal approach is widely used, and in the second one music is more modal (sorry for being nerdy). In other words, progressive/technical death metal bands often utilize 'regular' chord progressions that can be acknowledged even by non-metalheads and sound harmonic despite of complexity. Brutal death metal guys use this much less often, their music is based on weird scales (often simple chromatic), that sound absolutely cacophonic to unprepared listeners (for prepared often too). But of course, there are exceptions to this explanation.

How do you balance inner logic and rationality when composing by the process you described?
We always look at the final result, how it sounds and how the people will perceive it, Renunciation doesn't want to be ‘only for internal use’. We have rather big life and music experience and take care of many aspects from listeners’ point of view. In any case, that's what we're aiming for, but of course, we have a lot to work on. And we are waiting for feedback on our album, criticism is crucial for becoming better.

How do you tell criticism that’s genuinely constructive from criticism designed to slam what you’re doing without understanding?
Of course, we don't have a standard working algorithm, but what we pay attention to is the manner of speech, how deep the person understands such music (this is of course personal value judgment), and how detailed and reasonable the criticism is. Minimum useful conclusions can be drawn from phrases like "Sorry, I don't like this".

Is there any musical or aesthetic similarity between Renunciation and Dream Theater?
Reference to Dream Theater in one of our previous answers was just because of their album title, Systematic Chaos. As regards DT itself, they of course made an impression on us at one time: for example, our guitarist shredding style is under the strong influence of John Petrucci. Personally I (Vadim Kotov) still listen to them (even to new stuff), but when it comes to aesthetics... let's answer this way: we are an extreme metal band, we are 100% on the dark side, Dream Theater is definitely not.

What led to the band deciding to write in such a meticulous way and stand out from other bands in Russia? Did you see some sort of stagnation in extreme music at the time? Or were there too many bands that sounded similar due to streaming platforms?
It happened just naturally, there was no intention to do it in a way nobody does. Only many years later we realized that our approach is very different from what others do. But, as we said, there was no conscious decision to do something very special and in a special way. As regards the extreme music, we don't think that there's stagnation right now. If you compare the heaviest bands in 1981 and in 1991 and then the heaviest bands in 2012 and 2022, it would be obvious that the evolution of metal nowadays goes much slower than several decades ago, but such jumps as in the 80's cannot appear constantly. We see many experiments and attempts to extend the borders of the genre now. Will it cause significant changes and shifts or not - let's wait and see. And that all to the third question: yes, there are many similar-sounding bands now (not only because of streaming platforms), but the number of bands has also increased. And there came into sight more interesting bands too. How has the percentage of 'good' or 'bad' bands changed? It's hard to say, let it to the researchers of the future.

How is underground music in Russia viewed in Russian society? I’ve heard of punk bands having to leave the country due to their lyrics. Do metal bands have the same experiences?
Almost all styles except pop music, hip-hop, and old school Russian rock are underground in Russia today. Metal music especially. Despite the relative success that some Russian metal bands have gained in the world (Arkona for example), heavy metal here is considered something strange and outdated: in stupid TV parodies, metalheads always appear as weird guys with unwashed hair in Metallica T-shirts and leather pants. Philistine ideas about this culture remain at the level of the 90s. Apparently, the situation with other styles like electronic music or indie rock is similar. That's one of the reasons why the underground has almost no problems with police and FSB (Russian FBI) - they are just not interested in us, we are too minor for them. Unless it's not about the drugs...
There were some conflicts with Christian activists and petty tyrant local officials, but these cases remain episodic. We can expect the situation to become worse because of the war in Ukraine, but we don't see any reprisals against musicians so far, only sporadic restrictions to perform specific songs appear sometimes. As regards punks that had to leave Russia: as far as I know, the only one who emigrated was the guy from Тараканы! (The Cockroaches), and it was his deliberate decision. I didn't think I'd ever say this, but our authorities are now quite tolerant of dissent.

Describe the conflicts the band had with Christian activists and local officials. In what ways has the Ukraine war affected the band?
Specifically, our band had no conflicts with Christian activists or authorities. Speaking of others, there was a trial against Pussy Riot, who were imprisoned for their dance in a temple, but it was long ago and they can hardly be called musicians. Nowadays the only problems the bands can face are activists with placards near the venue and some talks with the police. Very rarely you can be banned from performing some songs with extremist or abusive lyrics by the tribunal's decision. As regards Ukraine, it's much harder to ship merch and to do money transactions now. Also, targeting in social media became very ineffective. But we will surely find a solution.

Besides the subject matter you hinted at, has Renunciation written any lyrics about the incidents we discussed happening in Russia? Also, do you think media in other countries accurately describes said events concerning Pussy Riot and The Cockroaches?
It doesn't correspond to our lyrical concept. Singing about current social or political events - in our case this would look like a cheap and inappropriate attempt to hype, we are not punks nor Roger Waters. As for the situation with the mentioned bands, I didn't follow foreign media in this case. I don't think that these events seriously affected the attitude towards Russia in the world.

Why do you think that attitudes toward metal and other forms of underground music have remained the same in Russia for so long?
Contemporary Western music was really popular in Russia after the fall of the iron curtain, in the late 80's and 90's, metal of course too, and all the stereotypes are inherited from this period because it was the only time when underground received coverage in mass media and on TV. Then, when capitalist paradise never came, interest in 'peregrin' culture subsided, and only styles with a focus on lyrics remained really popular (majority of people in Russia always thought that lyrics are more important than the music itself). Moreover, hip-hop received governmental support in the 00's. That's how it is in general terms, without digging into historical details.

You mentioned something about the rethinking and denial of metaphysical ideas and thought patterns. What did you mean by this and how did you come up with this concept for your lyrics?
It may sound vague, but the themes we cover in our songs are quite specific: criticism of monotheism (not only organized religion) and anthropocentrism, rethinking the concepts of Satan and evil, unveiling some logical misconceptions (for example, many people think that atheism is believing in that there's no god. In fact atheism is about not believing in god, that's a big difference). The songs in Russian are about more down-to-earth things like fate and personal choice. As regards the concept in general, we all like the idea that science and occultism may be united in the future when there will be a breakthrough in neurobiology. That's why we show a 'more scientific' approach to classical black metal themes in our lyrics.

In 2020 you released two versions of your EP “The Terminal Archetype”, one with vocals and one without. What shaped your decision to release it in two formats?
It's a common practice now, isn't it? We immodestly think that our music is quite intense and interesting even without vocals. Anyway, we released the instrumental version only on platforms, where our main fan base is.

“The Terminal Archetype” contains two previously released singles, “Arrogance of Worms” and “Deliverance From God”. Were those songs meant to preview your EP when they came out?
Sure, plus we wanted to test our stuff and see the audience's reaction. As a result, the EP versions of these songs differ from the singles ones, we have upgraded some riffs.

What are your personal views about monotheism, satanism, atheism, and anthropocentrism, and what aspects of those views you hold are specifically discussed in your songs?
To be brief, we are against monotheism in all its manifestations. And also against theistic satanism and the idea that Satan is an 'evil' god and needs worshipping. Atheism - that's ok, but it's just a point of view, that's not enough to form an ideology. If someone really wants to know our views better, he can just read the lyrics, it's quite concrete.

How are your attitudes concerning fate vs personal choice expressed by the band? Why do you think people hold such a strong belief in fate as opposed to taking responsibility to make personal choices?
We don't believe in predestination and think that anyone has a choice in any situation. It doesn't mean that the choices are equally reasonable, but any choice is your responsibility. And of course, this is unacceptable for the majority because it needs to be 100% honest and even merciless with yourself.

What connections do you see between science and occultism? In what ways will a future breakthrough in neurobiology help to unite the two?
The main problem is that magic and occultism refers to subjective experience that cannot be reproduced in an experiment. They deal mostly with subconsciousness, a very poorly understood part of our psyche. Probably studies in neurobiology will change it and help to interpret personal experience and make it look more scientific. Or the opposite, issues with interpretation will lead to changes in epistemology.

Which of your songs most accurately put across your religious (or non-religious) views?
Probably “Deliverance from God” and “Empty Hell for Empty Shells” from the upcoming album. Verses in the last one contain many statements to think about. Also, we note that none of us consider ourselves satanists and there is no overtly satanic propaganda in our songs.

Is the band gaining more of a following outside Russia? Which countries have you been reaching through social media and streaming sites?
We are happy with listeners from all countries and did social media campaigns to cover the whole world. Our band is still small and we don't think that we have countries with big fan bases outside Russia, but we do ship merch and CDs and get positive comments from all over the world: Australia, USA, France etc. We hope that connection with them won't be lost in these difficult times.

Is it becoming harder to ship merch outside your country these days?
Shipping in several countries is almost impossible now. In some, it is much more expensive, but we don't feel that we are isolated from the world. Anyway, we here in Russia are used to overcoming obstacles and restrictions.

Is there subject matter you haven’t included in your lyrics that you would be interested in writing about for future releases?
A difficult question, we'll think about it later. Although I write the major part of the lyrics, I don't like it too much. Probably lyrics for new releases will mostly be written by our vocalist Demether. This could lead to some shifts in lyric themes, but that's okay; we are musicians, not preachers or ideologists.

Tell the readers about your most recent single and the new album you’re working on? Will the new single also be included on the album?
The upcoming album continues the course taken on the EP: a combination of elements from different heavy metal subgenres but without being totally avant-garde and experimental. This record will be more complex than the EP but also more solid at the same time. And the single from the LP called "To Separate the Soul from Flesh" is a good example of what has been said: this is our longest song with some insane guitar parts but also with a clear structure.

This far you have released all your material independently. Are you seeking a label to distribute your upcoming album to wider audiences? Are any labels interested at this point?
We have released the EP via the Portuguese label Brutal Cave, and the album will be out with help of the Russian label Sound Age. But both contracts are just revenue-sharing agreements with limited distribution, we are too underground to be signed on more favorable terms now. But we plan to dedicate more time to the band to make Renunciation, not just a side-project. I hope this will help us to get better contract offers too.

Is there anything else you want to plug on the band’s behalf before signing off?
Thanks for the interview and unfeigned interest in us and our music. Hope you'll like our new album and see that even in Evil Empire there are people passionate about extreme music.

-Dave Wolff

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

EP Review: Renunciation "The Terminal Archetype" (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Location: Moscow
Country: Russia
Genre: Death/black metal
Format: Digital, CD
Label: Brutal Cave (Portugal)
Release date: August 14, 2020
Recently, this Russian band contacted me about reviewing their material. Before checking out this EP on Bandcamp, I had never heard of them, but now I'm getting hooked pretty fast.
The fretwork on Renunciation sounds like a manic hybrid of Kreator, Death, and Cryptopsy, which can easily challenge many hard rock and classically trained guitarists if not outright put them to shame. The 2020 EP “The Terminal Archetype” combines black, death, and thrash metal with symphonic metal, grindcore, and several other underground genres layer by layer. Even though these are all well-defined genres, the band arranges their songs unhindered by expectations or restrictions, proving yet again that going outside aggressive/extreme music is not the only way to avoid limitations.
“The Terminal Archetype”, which includes two previously released singles as well as three new tracks, will obliterate your brain cells if it doesn't completely wear you out first. In the studio, Renunciation arranged their songs during intensive practice sessions, and delivered them like they knew exactly what they were doing. The combination of thrash undertones with death metal arrangements and black metal harmonies could end up a mess, but Renunciation pulls it off like they know exactly what they're doing. While the band formed in 2019, they play like they've been around for years.
The first thing that places Renunciation in a category by themselves is the brief piano instrumental “When There’s No One to Fear the Night” which has mournful vibes similar to My Dying Bride and Anathema, but with atmospheric keyboards likened to Emperor and Sirius suggesting something sinister looming over the immediate horizon. A moment later, “Deliverance From God” opens with a sound somewhat reminiscent of Mayhem that recurs throughout. Over a relentless thrash beat, blazing riffs jam 16th notes, and unapologetically fast and intense lead guitars match this unadulterated intensity and speed.
All the parts of this song are so tightly anchored that you wonder how they managed it. Over the years, the band members have played in several bands, so people can understand the experience that enabled them to write songs in such a manner as they do. Similarly, the title track with “Arrogance of Worms” and “Threshold (The Threshold)” grow even more intense and eclectic with each passing moment, almost reaching inhuman levels.
Lyrically Renunciation explores religion, non-religion, fate vs free will and science in a way that’s personal to them and reveals massive amounts of soul searching, observations about the world around them and study of human nature. As a result, the band's verses are as intelligent as the musicianship is progressive, and the band cannot be accused of lashing out at society and religion like young high school students, as many metal bands are wrongly categorized as doing.
For an official debut release, “The Terminal Archetype” comes closer to musical perfection than most debut releases, and things can only improve for them with time. Renunciation is certainly a band to watch for toward the end of 2022 and beyond. The band likewise released an instrumental version of this EP. It can be streamed at Bandcamp along with their most recent single “To Separate the Soul from Flesh”. –Dave Wolff

Demether Grail: Vocals
Alexey Kotov: Guitars
Vadim Kotov: Bass
Polina Archangelskaya: Drums

Track list:
1. When There’s No One to Fear the Night
2. Deliverance from God
3. The Terminal Archetype
4. Arrogance of Worms
5. Порог (The Threshold)