Friday, October 30, 2009
Dressing up as a black metal douche for halloween? I know what you're thinking "Nicolas Cage's son has now been doing it year-round for some time now!" Well, you're partially right...but that doesn't negate the appeal that such a costume may have for the masses. As such, I now introduce you all to the first official black metal costume ever (I think), as seen at a local costume shop by close friend of the blog (sup Marns!).
Yes, it's true. You can even buy it at Target.
In honor of halloween, please check out these two clips from Metal Inquisition's favorite zombie movie ever...death metal zombies. See them here, and here.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Metal brothers and sisters, we've lost one of our own. The devil himself, in the form of throat cancer, has taken one of our most beautiful angels. Chuck Biscuits, one of the sickest drummers, doodlers, and cereal collectors to ever live has died.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Okay, so he flubs a few notes, and has one of the chords wrong on the main riff...but check out his commitment to the tune. I mean, the guy has an Ipod on a strap strictly for the purposes of practicing. I think he'd be a great addition.
This guy is a winner all the way. Rumor has it, he can crabwalk even better than Robert Trujillo, and he can do so in 7" heels. Beat that!
This girl is proof that the level of musicianship amongst today's youngsters has risen so far it's not even funny. When I was in a grindcore band, anyone who could play a simple blast beat for about ten seconds, or do pinch harmonics was a god. Jesus, times have changed.
Being gay AND Filipino must be super hard...just ask Kirk Hammett, he's already lost most of his hair due to the stress of living that way.
Friday, October 23, 2009
If you're a regular reader of this blog then you've probably realized by now that we're not exactly huge fans of contemporary music. With the exception of Sergeant D most of us here at Metal Inquisition stopped caring about new music right around the time Danzig released Blackacidevil. The fact of the matter is that, for the most part, new music--in particular new metal--sucks. I've tried to keep up with some of my favorite older bands and check out new ones, but nine times out of ten it leads to nothing but disappointment. It's for this simple reason that you're most likely to catch Lucho and I fighting over the ipod in his BMW with him wanting to listen to Steely Dan and me wanting to listen to Skrewdriver. From time to time, however, to my complete and total amazement a new band will come along and blow my mind to pieces. The most recent example of this that I can think of is the Australian black/death metal hybrid mindfuck that is Portal. They released their first album back in 2003 and have since then released two more albums, each better than the last, which leads me to their most recent album and masterpiece, Swarth, which was just released earlier this week by Profound Lore.
Maybe my expectations are just incredibly low now because of how shitty most new metal albums are, but of the handful of new albums I've heard this year Swarth is far and away the best. I haven't been this excited about a new album since Decrepit Birth's Diminishing Between Worlds, and I think Swarth might even end up surpassing that album's awesomeness. I'm not a poet, but I'll do my best to describe the music on Swarth--it's bleak, dense, twisted, and fucking heavy. It's one of the most unique and legitimately unsettling records I've heard in a long, long time. You can barely even make out what's going on musically; it's a whirlwind of sound threatening to collapse at any moment, but Portal somehow manages to hold it together long enough to create this ferocious and suffocating wall of sound that relentlessly marches on for a solid forty minutes. Words fail me at a time like this so if you've been as bored with recent metal releases as I've been then I highly suggest checking out Swarth and Portal's two previous albums.
Oh, and in case you've never seen what Portal looks like here's a couple of photos to pique your interest.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
If you are a decent human being, you say stuff like "Look, I have a great sense of humor, but some things just aren't funny. For example, I really didn't appreciate it when Guttermouth made fun of Siberian-American Huskies. How insensitive!! Another thing that's simply off-limits is cancer. This terrible disease kills over 500,000 Americans every year, and I can't think of anything worse than trivializing the impact it has on our way of life- not just as Americans, but as human beings! How dare you mock me for calling off of work on Tuesday to get an anal cancer exam!!"
Fortunately for you, I am only a marginally decent human being, so I present to you a video in which Peter Criss reveals that he had BREAST CANCER lolololololol!!! It's almost as funny as Seth Putman's sidesplitting overdose/suicide fail a few years back!
Anyway, enjoy- and here's hoping Gene Simmons gets struck by lighting!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Mike Browning is a good poser test: Anybody who knows their shit will quickly tell you about Mike's role in shaping early Florida death metal. A founding member of Morbid Angel, he made his biggest contribution with Nocturnus. We make a lot of Nocturnus jokes, but trust me that we are all huge Nocturnus fans. I first heard them in 1991 or so on the legendary Earche comp "Grindcrusher" when their track "BC/AD" completely blew me away. I stuck with them and became a huge fan by the time I was out of high school. Lucho, Krusher, Awakening, me, and the other kids in our circle of weirdos who grew up listening to Youth of Today and Terrorizer literally talked about Nocurnus for fucking hours when we hung out. In particular I remember around 97 or 98, me and this one dude Vince (where are you broseph??) geeking out on "The Key"and making "WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" noises at each other like the the keyboards on "Lake of Fire."
In contrast to many of his contemporaries (for instance the other dudes from Morbid Angel), who are complete fucking wingnuts, Mike seems like a cool, down-to-earth guy that doesn't take himself too seriously. That's a welcome change of pace, since there are way too many people who were in far less important bands who have their head completely up their own ass.
Washed up a-hole: "Do you know who I am?!?! I played bass in ROTTREVORE, you insolent fuck! Now kiss my pinkie and I'll forgive you."You don't hear his name nearly as much as you should these days, so we are super stoked to have Mike on Metal Inquisition!
Guy he is talking to: "Uh.... welcome to Olive Garden. How many people in your party?"
You made quite a mark on the death metal landscape in the 90s, but many of us lost track of you after that. What are you up to these days, both musically and otherwise? What do you do for a living?
Right now my band After Death is mixing a bunch of new songs we just recorded. There are 5 new songs and we rerecorded one off of our last Retronomicon CD and just for the fuck of it we recorded 2 old Morbid Angel songs Chapel of Ghouls(with The Invocation) and Angel of Disease from the Abominations of Desolation album, close to how they were done back in 1986, but still with some new elements as well. The last time we recorded was back in 2006, so we are way past due for some new material to be released! We also did a tour last October of Europe as After Death playing Nocturnus songs from The Key, which went over pretty well, so we may do that again sometime soon. Other than that I just work a regular day job for the water department in Tampa and work on my newest project a 1957 Chevy Bel Air that has become a fucking money pit, but it does haul ass!
Nocturnus was pretty out there for the early 90s. How did people react when you first came out? How does that differ from how people would react now, in a world where we've heard enough blast beats and sweep picking to sink a battleship?
The reactions were pretty good actually. I think because of The Science of Horror demo being heavier and less technical than The Key was, helped us to kind of break into a new style of death metal without going to far over the people's heads. But yeah today we might just have been the band of the week for the fucking sheeple that say they are death metal fans! Peoples attention spans these days are about as long as their dicks! And their attitudes are bigger!!!
Are you familiar with the popular death metal band Nile? They have a lot of songs about having sex with mummies, pet sphinxes, and other weird Egyptian stuff. You had a mummy on the cover of your 7" many years before Nile came out, how do you feel about them stealing your gimmick?
Well we did use some Egyptian themes way before Nile, but actually I didn't play on that 7" you mentioned, that was after I left the band. My band After Death does a lot more Egyptian themed music now, but we don't sound anything like Nile. Our style of lyrics is also more about the magick and rituals that the Ancient Egyptians used. And we have a full time keyboard player, so we can make the whole song have more atmosphere instead of just an intro.
Aside from mummies, Nocturnus' lyrics referenced all kinds of crazy shit like crystal balls, spaceships, droids, and so forth. Where did you come up with that stuff? Specifically, can you tell me what "Enter The Droids" is about?
In the beginning Nocturnus was mostly occult oriented lyrics, but when Mike Davis joined the band and started writing and had some lyrical ideas it turned more into sci-fi type stuff, so I mixed his ideas with mine and it came out to be some pretty crazy shit that I ended up writing about. The Key was pretty much a concept album about a guy going back in time and destroying Jesus Christ and taking over the world with future technology that he brought back with him.
It didn't really start as a concept album though, but as we kept writing songs they started to fit together like a puzzle and kind of ended up as a story, but each song could still stand on it's own. Enter The Droids was the part of the story where alien droid ships started attacking the Earth and the main character retreated to a cave where he built the time machine and it was in one of the crashed alien ships that he found "The Key" that was the finishing piece to make his time machine work.
Here on Metal Inquisition, we like to joke about "the Nocturnus time machine." For example, we have a whole section dedicated to "things I would destroy if I had access to the Nocturnus time machine." We also came up with a concept for scale models of the time machine. What would you do if you actually had access to the time machine you wrote about on "The Key"? I think I would go back in time to when I was a child and rape myself.
Man do you want me to make a fucking list or what!!! Hell there are tons of things I would go back and change if I had a time machine, especially some of the chicks I have met and had relationships with, that would probably be first on my list!!! I think some sweet revenge would be nice too for people that have wronged me, that's always nice to think about as well!!!
But why rape yourself when you can go back a bit farther and rape your mom and actually create yourself by raping your mom, now that's a fucking idea there!!! Maybe that will be my next concept album, so don't go stealing my idea like everyone else does!
If you were 20 years old today and starting a band, what would it sound like? What would your personal brand be?
I think I would have to say it might sound like After Death does now, pretty much I have always wanted to do atmospheric sounding occult metal! But if I was 20 again I don't know if I would have the discipline for it the way the world is today, but I would probably still make the same stupid mistakes anyway because I haven't changed much since then.
You know the guys in Morbid Angel well, right? Please watch this video of Trey Azagthoth hosting "Headbanger's Ball" and tell us what you think is going through his head. Other than, "I feel like the biggest fucking asshole on the planet."
What's funny is I knew Trey was going to be on Headbanger's Ball, so I actually saw that episode when it first aired and from knowing him all these years it was pretty much exactly what I expected to happen!!! I doubt he will ever try that one again!!!
Back in the day, it was mindblowing for someone to be able to play a blast beat, double bass, or tremolo riff at all. In retrospect, most of the musicianship was pretty amateurish by today's standards. As someone who was in one of the most technical, innovative bands of the 90s, how does it make you feel that these days every 16 year-old asshole kid can play sick blasts, sweep picked arpeggios, and 250 bpm double bass when people like you struggled so hard at pioneering these techniques?
It is all pretty relative because back then people thought that what we were doing was mind blowing and now I see these kids playing twice as fast and not even breaking a sweat. I think because the kids these days are brought up on this stuff and didn't have to progress into it or create it, that they come from a different mindset. Only problem is not a one of them have any originality, they all want and do sound like someone else and even worse is they want to be that way! There is no more originality anymore, so maybe it all has been done!
When I listen to Nocturnus, I always have a visual in my head to go along with the song. For example, "Empire of The Sands" reminds me of the Jawas in "Star Wars." Did you have any visuals in mind when you were writing them? If so, share the one that you think would be most surprising to us.
The whole goal of Nocturnus was to create an atmosphere with the music and lyrics together and this has always been what I would consider success over making money, not that making money is bad, but to me this is the greatest compliment someone can say about my music. When I write the lyrics, usually the whole idea pops into my head with a title that sums it up and I have a visual of the whole song like a movie playing out inside my head so at that point the lyrics start flowing sometimes so fast I can hardly write them down before I forget them. I usually have to find a paper and pen right away and end up writing the whole song in less than 10 minutes!
I would say as far as Nocturnus it would probably be Destroying The Manger, where I see this guy kicking the stable door down wearing some kind of a futuristic space suit and just blasting away Joseph, Mary and the 3 wise men and then saving the baby Jesus in his little manger for last as he starts laughing hysterically maybe with a cigar in his mouth like a true superhero would and just blasts the whole manger to smithereens!!! It would make a great movie don't ya think!!!
ENTER THE DROIDS / Cybernetic cralts approaching / Through skies lit with fusion discharge / Androids from the gamma quadrant / Moving at the speed of death / Now the human race is so vulnerable / Invasion set for attack / "Enter the Droids" / Command-Mission-Destroy-Planet-Three-From-Their sun / Caught within my tractor beam / Bringing the craft to me / Disable the robot for my own use / to aid my escape / Fleets of ships are now arriving,overtaking / Physical evasion is my only demise / Left to me for my survival / Gaining data from their system,overriding / To complete my invention,the time machine / Only question is"will it function"?
Pretend you get to write the metal history books. What would you like people to remember about you and your work?
Well I have never claimed to be some kind of an amazing musician, so more than anything I would want to be remembered as the one and only Mike Browning!
More info: After Death on MySpace, Mike Browning's MySpace, Nocturnus on Encyclopaedia Metallum. Also check out this 2008 interview with Mike courtesy of I Could Die Tomorrow. After Death is currently finishing up a new album, which we'll post about when it's done- stay tuned.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Cameron Argon, better known as Big Chocolate, is the brains behind Disfiguring The Goddess, as well as a whole bunch of other projects that he will explain below. Aside from being quit arguable the best guttural death metal vocalist on the face of the planet, he honestly seems like a really good, sweet dude in a way that you just don't see very often in metal (unless it's, you know... on Solid State). Definitely check him out on Myspace and Youtube, whether you need him to fill on for DJ AM in your Crazy Town cover or produce the next hella mass tight wigger slam joint for you and your crew. No homo, but I really, really appreciate coming across someone who can make the most brutal, crushing guttural slamz on Earth yet hasn't had their spirits crushing by life along the way After all, I'm betting 0/2 on those counts!
For any of our readers who are unfortunate enough not to be familiar with you and your work, please introduce yourself in whatever way you would like. Since I'm almost twice your age, does this interview feel like you are being cornered by your "cool uncle" at a family gathering? Don't worry, I won't tell you about how "I'm into that shit too" and start talking to you about how I listened to White Zombie in high school as proof.
Of course mate. Well, my name is Cameron Argon and I just turned 19. Big Chocolate is the name I use for my music. It’s kinda a joke name... no real meaning behind it, but I do love good chocolate.
Not at all, I’m pretty real with all ages... and I currently live with one of my Uncles so... uncle figures are like.... My key strong point.... (Sarcasm)
Aside from your various music projects, what are you doing with yourself these days? You graduated from high school in 2008, right? What do you see yourself doing for a career?
2009. I’m a freshmen in comminity colledge because I was too focused on making music in high school and not enough on learning my chemistry vocab to pull a GPA high enough to get into out of state school. Haha! I’m studying criminal justice because It’s a real hands on field, and that’s where i’m more interested. I’m doing it basically as a fall back plan if I can’t support myself though music later in life. I think being on a S.W.A.T. team would be pretty dream like for me also, always been a big fan of guns.
It seems like being an 18 year-old kid who's way into death metal is working out pretty well for you! When I was an 18 year-old kid who was way into death metal, it mostly meant that I spent Saturday nights sitting at my parents' house by myself playing Super Metroid and listening to Napalm Death. On the other hand, you not only went to prom, but took a super cute girl; you've been to Russia to play with Abominable Putridity, and have many fans on the internets- for example this little hottie who left you a "marry me" comment. What the fuck is up with that?! I hate you.
Haha! it’s not like I was any different. Couple buddies and a good ol scary horror video game was pretty typical during high school. I never really got into high school drama or partying so it was either kicking back with some friends or making music in my room. My senior year I got some decks and starting Djing parties, that was a TON of fun because I was able to go to parties and not feel like I was wasting my time because I was making music and entertaining. I never really liked High School events too much, but I was pretty friendly and a constant “go-getter”. I won homecoming king, but didn’t go to the dance afterwards. I was pretty impressed with myself about my date because I didn’t know how I pulled that off. Haha!
Russia, was the most intense time of my life. The whole trip was so surreal to me, I couldn’t believe I was in russia to play music. Dream come true. My Mom almost died from worrying too much, but still, best thing to ever happen to me. Hahaha!!!! DoN’t H8 ThE pLayA H8 tHe GaMe!!
I feel like I have no idea what Kids These Days are into, and if *I* don't, then I am 10000% certain that none of the other old people who read our blog do either. What are some of your favorite bands, either those who influence you as a musician or otherwise? Were you ever into punk or hardcore? Just out of curiosity, tell me three bands that best embody "punk" to you.
Some of my favorite bands and musicians are The Police, Moby, Hate Eternal, Radiohead, Bjork, Devourment, and a few others. I draw a lot of influence from these bands and plenty others as well as the motivation fans, friends, and family give me. And you can’t mention motivation with out mentioning Leroy Smith, The Motivator or Michael Jordan. I listened to punk for a while, I mostly listened to the crust/grind/powerviolence side of it though, a lot of resistant culture, witch hunt, phobia, dystopia, phobia.
I listen to more of the thrash/hardcore compared to the beatdown xhardcorex. Bands that best embody “punk” to me are defiantly not rancid, sex pistols, and nofx. Punks one of those things where it should be kept underground, and if it isn’t, it’s not punk. BUT OH WELL. I don’t really care to much about all that jazz or being “punk as fuck”.
Most of us know you for your various metal projects, but you are something of a slam wigger Renaissance man: you also make beats, wreck shit on the wheels of steel, and record bands. How did you end up getting into hip hop, and how does that fit into the Big Chocolate "things that I spend my time on" mix? What do people in the metal scene think of your b-boy alter ego?
Beats are pretty fun, I don’t make them as much as I used to, but it’s a way to connect with other musicians and expand boundaries. I’ve worked with far more hip hop artist than I have with death metal bands. I really like a few underground acts, but i’m not like the guru on underground hip hop.... Yadda ming? Underground is usually better than the mainstream because it’s almost always 100% for the music. When artist get signed, they start changing their sound for the labels. Of course that’s not always the case though. Prime example of a label puppet, Lil wayne. I won’t name any Death Metal puppets because i’m not that kinda guy. I don’t really care what other people think, I do it for fun and for me.
You have heard the term "wigger slam" before as a way of describing bands like Infernal Revulsion, Soils of Fate, Disconformity, and of course Abominable Putridity. What are your thoughts on this term? What is the most wiggerish thing about the guys in Abominable Putridity? Do they prefer to be called "riggers"?
I think it’s a pretty funny term. I usually use the term “Bro” instead though, haha! A “bro” is more classifiable by attitude over look though for me. In Russia, they call bro’s “Beadlow” Of course it’s not spelt like that, but that’s how it sounds. So every scene has it’s hand full of “bros” The guys in AP were not really stereotypical at all. Pretty normal dudes, didn’t really dress to fit any kind of look. Andrew had some pretty cool tattoos but that’s kinda it. I’m a huge Disconformity fan, straight forward brutal slams.
I showed some of your videos to this indie girl I know, and she pointed out that you smile and laugh a lot in them. You seem to be having a lot of fun with this, which is awesome because it should be fun. Why are metal fans so fucking serious all the time? Will you your youthful enthusiasm for life be snuffed out like mine was by years of crushing disappointments, heartbreak, and humiliation, or will your comfortable upper middle class upbringing keep you safe from that?
I do music for one reason: It’s fun. I have no idea why metal fans are always so serous. Haha, no I don’t think i’ll ever loose it. I try to keep a good straight head and a good attitude about life. I’m pretty stoic in my view points but keeping a good friendly mindset.
On that note, please read our post about "regretcore" and share your thoughts. What do you think your life will be like when you're 31? As someone who seems like a stable, solid dude, what advice do you have for people like me and my friends who clearly have limited life skills? When you read the lyrics to a song like "One With The Underdogs" by Terror, what goes through your head?
Haha, I think a better term for Regretcore is growing up. When i’m 31... I’ll hopefully be doing something I love doing and passionate about. I’d be cool to have wife that I trust and love and a few little camerons running around... But that’s what everyone kinda shoots for. I don’t know, I’d rather play out my life and live in today rather in tomorrow or yesterday. Perfect life motto: Do what you love, love what you do. Well the lyrics are pretty straight forward. He didn’t have the best upbringing. but he realizes it and beat it.
I think it's pretty awesome that you seem to get along well with your family. One of your videos that I like best is the one where you scare your sister, then your mom comes and yells at you. It's legitimately, non-ironically cute! In the comments, some dickbag said "Who are those dousches that come in and yell at you," and you replied "those "dousches" are my parents.. asshole... " I don't mean to get too personal, but how do your parents feel about all your musical projects given that they seem pretty normal and you do shit that is extreme even by the standards of underground metal? Many people say that one of the defining characteristics of your generation is that you are "friends with your parents" in a way that is definitely not true of Gen X- do you think that's accurate?
Family first, than friends, than... relationship problems. My family means a lot to me and we are pretty dang close. Oh man, funny story about that video. It was on thanksgiving and everyone was getting ready. It takes me like 4 minutes to get ready after i’ve showered, I put on a shirt and a button down. So I was bored and trying to trick my mom with the maze game and film her with built in camera on my computer. Buuuut my determined sister wanted to give it her best. (she’s the kinda girl who takes on any challenge, and gets unreal scores on pocket games like solitaire). Me scaring her pretty much ruined our thanksgiving because of the awkward tensions between me and my sister, little did anyone know... I filmed it and uploaded it to youtube and families across the world were watching her get scared.
She came home to her myspace covered in comments with people telling her that her video was so funny.... Ohhhh man. Sooo funny. They show a great deal of support, they like my “Efficient” project much more than my Death Metal though. haha! ehhh, yes and no... I have friends who are best friends with their parents and friends who completely hate their parents.
WTF is this business?
Haha! Some fellers that have some huge problem with me. The videos and myspace of those guys are pretty funny, like they really go a longgggg ways to show how much they disagree with everything I can ever do. I could understand being called out by like... a big time guy in the business, but he would just be an asshole then... calling out people making who are just making music... These guys just kinda creep me out from time to time with their obsessive negative reaction to me. I’d put my skills against theirs any day.
I write a lot about scene kids, which makes our readers angry and confused because unlike me, they are threatened by new things. I think one of the things that's hardest for them to digest is that scene culture is such a disparate mishmash of references from other subcultures, but done in a way that's completely effortless and authentic. For example, BrokeNCYDE draw from crunk rap, screamo, trance, and deathcore, to which old people reply "Wait, wait- you can't do THAT!!" Or how scene kids wear Hollister like it's their job- that seems insane to people who grew up in a time where wearing a mainstream brand like that would be considered treason if you listened to metal or hardcore. You're another example in that you play some of the most ass-raping slam metal on the planet, yet wear non-ironic Wu Tang shirts, spin drum-n-bass, and went to prom with a hot girl. What does this all mean? Is everybody in your generation a walking mashup or what? Why are old people like me so confused and upset by this?
HAHAHAHAHA!! so happy you brought up BrokeNCYDE. My buddy and I made a joke/mocking project called The Mercury Drug where we use auto tune, talk about sluts, use hardstyle breakdowns and continue with silly outfits. I just do whatever I want. I don’t really like fallowing fads or clicks. I just do what I want to do, I play what I want to play, I dress how I want to dress. I’m pretty “whatevs” on the whole subject.
Finally, we would like your help deciding which of these bands is the biggest bunch of wiggers. Please watch the following videos and give us your thoughts on eacg in a couple sentences, then choose one "winner."
Fury of V "Do Or Die"
Despised Icon "Day of Mourning"
I miss the healing process...
Mordred "Every Day's A Holiday"
What the heck?... No seriously... CrAzY bReAkS from the random Run-DMC cat... Not really.
Winds of Plague "The Impaler"
Life ain’t nothing but bitches an money.....uh... Wait.... Never mind, Lets go cleanse azeroth of orcs with an double sided two handed axe (+ 22 to Agility; +4 Deffense; 2% chance to cast Thunder Bolt) (...?)
Thug life? No, wait???... Whaaatt.......?
The winner is Rehh Dog “Why Must I Cry”
Thanks for your time! Please add/plug/say anything else you would like to add! Oh, one last question: Why don't you wear a puffy vest like Johnny Plague??
Sorry if I have bad grammer, I didn’t reread what I’ve written... Thanks for the intie and thanks for the support mate!
And I have no idea... i’d probably feel goofy.
Disfiguring the Goddess
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I know that making fun of Italian metal is easy. It's like when the two inbred main characters have sex with the retarded girl in Gummo. It's almost too easy, but I just can't help myself. See, a while back the Sarge introduced us to the world of budget slam metal, perhaps best exemplified by Artery Eruption, and now I'd like to introduce you to the kings of budget Italian power metal--Kaledon. These Roman warriors have displayed an undying allegiance to all things lo-fi and low-budget that has left them unchallenged atop the steaming pile of shit that is budget Italian power metal.
Here we see the crowd (all two of them) going wild as Kaledon performs their smash hit "Spirit of the Dragon." A force of nature, Kaledon is best experienced live as the sheer sonic force of their performances have been credited with causing at least a half dozen suicides across the Lazio region.
This reminds me of the kind of picture I would expect to see hanging up in the dining room of any number of my Italian family members. You see Italian dining rooms are not actually meant for dining, they're more for show. That's where you display all the wonderful useless shit you got at your wedding 30 years ago like your gigantic china closet filled with fine china you never use--you know, the good stuff--along with your crystal and your special silverware (the kind that's actually made of silver). You'll usually also find an enormous dining table covered in a gawdy white lace tablecloth some grandmother spent a lifetime making. If your Italian family is anything like mine then the dining table chairs are probably hermetically sealed in plastic and will never be exposed to the elements. And no matter how big of a loser he may be, an Italian mother will always be proud of her son because he is her pride and joy and so she will have several photo albums worth of embarassing pictures of him and she will gladly display a picture from his first communion right next to the picture he took with his friends out near the Roman Aqueduct while dressed like a gang of child molesting Renaissance fairies in a gigantic gold plated frame. Mama is especially proud of that 12 inch boner you're smuggling in your leather pants.
More often than not "serious musicians" are all business, but not the ragazzi of Kaledon! It's refreshing to see that the boys can just as easily spend a day relaxing in the studio, joking around and having a good time instead of spending hours carefully trimming their facial hair while their little sister repeatedly bangs on the bathroom door because she has to pee and dad yells to finish jerking off and get out of the bathroom because he has to take a shit.
One thing you could never accuse Kaledon of doing is progressing. Just look at the cover of their debut album, Legend of the Forgotten Reign - Chapter 1: The Destruction.
Now take a look at the cover of their most recent album, 2008's Legend of the Forgotten Reign - Chapter 5: A New Era Begins.
From the unforgettable amateur paintbrush to the utterly forgettable amateur computer illustration, Kaledon is never content to rest on their laurels. They've never let their complete and utter lack of talent stop them before so why start now?
I'd like to leave you with what I think is the most compelling piece of evidence in the case for Kaledon's budget Italian power metal supremacy--the music video for their hit single "The New Kingdom." I could spend days tearing apart every frame, but instead let me just point out how proud they are of their packages as we once again see a band member proudly displaying his manhood in his way-too-tight white linen pants. It's impossible not to notice the tremendously low production values of this video, but it's obvious that the men of Kaledon make up for what they lack financially with their boundless enthusiasm for their horrible music. It's hard not to admire that kind of dedication. Against all odds and good sense, Kaledon endures and to that I must say--forza, Kaledon!
As an added bonus for our Italian speaking readers enjoy this equally retarded parody video:
Monday, October 12, 2009
In case you don’t know who Ula is, let me give you the quick and skinny. Besides being an awesome human being, Ula has cut his teeth on some serious metal for years. Regarded as one the few honest and dedicated devotees of metal working in the business, he joined the ranks of Century Media Records back in the summer of ’94, this after extensive metal fandom that’ll make you’re head spin – read on for proof. He’s spent some serious time at the CM U.S. office before heading over seas to spearhead metal on European shores out of the CM German office.
One tiny, highly specialized niche Ula bore witness to – and helped mold – was Century Black, which was Century Media’s grab for black metal glory around the mid-late 90s. Although short lived, I’ve always viewed it as an unsung player in the proliferation of black metal, for better or worse, around the globe. (Sorry for the length, besides being a metal dork, I'm also a metal fan. Thanks for indulging me...)
So how did Century Black come about?
Ula: The credit for that comes down to Rayshele Teige, who was doing promotion for Century Media at the time and who was the person responsible for pushing Robert Kampf (one of the owners of CM) to do a black metal imprint, and she first started by pushing him to release the Mayhem album "De Mysteriis...". A good choice, to be sure, and it took a while to get out in the States because of delays getting things going, getting permission from Voices Of Wonder and working out the licensing details, etc., but she really pushed to make that happen and it worked. Not long after that she got Robert to release the Arcturus debut full-length "Aspera Hiems Simfonia", and so they worked out that licensing deal too.
(No joke, Century Media Record's entry on Wikipedia calls their Century Black imprint the 'Miramax Films of black metal...' I wish I could take credit for that analogy.)
Rayshele was really the driving force behind the black metal titles, and I think she coined the label imprint name as well. Once the floodgates started opening, so to speak, with so many titles being made available for licensing in the States, since so many albums were released in Europe only back then, it just took a life of its own.
Can you explain the state of Century Media at the time? From what I hear, around 96/97 – the main time of ‘Century Black’ - it was pretty bare as bones.
Ula: It was definitely bare bones. I started with CM in the summer of '94 and it was about seven other people working there in the US. The office was on Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica, in a pretty drab office space. There was one of the owners working there, the accountant, a radio guy, Rayshele working promotion along with another girl, and a guy doing retail. At the time I started, I came in to do promotion as well, and at the same time a guy came in to do A&R for the States, and they also hired a warehouse guy. The second promo girl left, and they replaced the retail guy, and then hired a label manager. But generally you were looking at around 7 or 8 people back then, and so everyone was multitasking like mad.
The German office was the founding office back in ’88 and so that was running quite smoothly; the US office opened in late 1990 and it took quite a few years, and quite a few combinations of people, until things balanced out by the latter part of the ‘90s. If you compare that with how it was about 6 years later, when there were 30 people on staff in Germany and over 40 in the States, it was completely different. So yeah, if you contrast that when I began, when there was no mailorder or distro, no real warehouse (just an office room), and no website or e-mail address, it was pretty sparse in those days.
So when you joined CM and there was no website or email address for the label; I bet it leant a more "underground" feel and mystique to the music without the internet, versus today where Hot Topic goth-core kids wear 'The Joker' make up and are considered black metal.
Ula: Oh fuck yeah. It was such a weird time looking back to how it was then, especially since it wasn't that long ago, which goes to show you how fast technology has developed. You'd have bands that would sell 10,000 copies solely by word-of-mouth, and when I say "word-of-mouth", I mean literally, one person talking to another, face-to-face or on the phone with someone. Chain stores didn't carry metal back then, period.
You were happy if you could get into the bigger indies like Newbury Comics, and you just tried to sell to mom-and-pops, and there weren't as many distros or mailorders then either, but you tried to cover those all too. So when Century Black had new titles out, you just tried to make sure that Necropolis, Full Moon and Red Stream took copies, as even Relapse wasn't carrying black metal back then. Mailorder also wasn't nearly as prevalent, since it was really, really hard to get the word out. You didn't have a webshop, everyone had 56K dial-up modems at best, and so you tried to get word out there through the fanzines, distro booths and keeping a mailing list and mailorder catalog that you'd send direct to everyone a few times a year. When you saw someone with a cool shirt, or holding a cool album in a shop, you'd talk to them -- I made a lot of my best friends through common interests in music.
But now, as you said, you can probably get a Multiilation longsleeve or an Abruptum hoodie at Hot Topic or whatever. Okay, maybe not quite, but you know what I mean! Just finding records back then was such an event, but I loved it. It would sometimes take me two years, no joke, to find a rare album that had horrible distribution, but man, what a feeling when you had it in your hands. The death of independent and especially used record stores has really sucked, that used to be my primary reason for traveling. I remember going to Gothenberg in '93, opening up a phonebook at the train station, and asking people walking by what the word for "records" was in Swedish so I could look up all the stores, mark them on a map, and go hunting all day long. And later that day, I had Eucharist "A Velvet Creation" and At The Gates "Gardens Of Grief" in my hands... and when I bought the At The Gates, it was Tompa who sold it to me, working behind the counter at Dolores Records... holy shit!
(Life existed before 'Slaughter of the Soul')
I used to do that to every city I went to... and I know I had a lot of friends doing the same. There's probably not a single record I couldn't find now in 5 minutes on the web if I feel like paying enough money, short of some overpriced rare vinyl, but even that comes up with regularity. I miss "the chase" aspect of it, really... instant gratification is nice sometimes, but it makes you lazy too.
Back to Century Black for a minute: the line-up of black metal acts, looking back, is quite impressive, with many of the band's being in the pantheon of black metal, who sought out these artists for this imprint?
Ula: Once again I'd point to Rayshele, and Robert was living in Germany so he was also keeping his eyes open for whatever new was available and interesting (this was around the dawn of the Internet, so info was scarce, you really had to actively seek things out on your own or have someone send something your way). I remember Robert pushing for a long time to get the first Opeth album, "Orchid", and it took a long, long time to make that happen with Candlelight. I don't think Rayshele was quite as into Opeth, but it wasn't really what you would call 'troo kvlt' black metal either, so that's understandable. But when that finally came together and CM got the rights for that, it was great, although when it was released the few people that knew about the band already had the import, and basically nobody else cared. It took a long time and a lot of convincing to sell that band on people, but by the time they finally played the US (at the Milwaukee Metalfest around '98, I think, when "Still Life" was out in Europe) they had a pretty good fan base going already. And once you got one or two bands licensed, and other labels heard you were paying advances and accounting regularly for those titles, it became a lot easier to do the rest. The real keystone band around that time, of course, was Emperor. Rayshele was really into the band and used to talk to the guys regularly, and so Robert also dealt out with Candlelight that CM would get the rights to the Emperor titles as well, starting with the "Hordane's Land" split EP with Enslaved, followed up shortly by "In The Nightside Eclipse", and they sold a few thousand to begin with but it also took a while for people to take notice.
Did you personally deal with any of these artists? If so, who and what was it like?
Ula: Rayshele was the one dealing with the ‘true’ black metallers, so she was regularly talking to Hellhammer from Mayhem, Ihsahn and Samoth from Emperor, Garm from Arcturus and Ulver, etc. I knew of black metal but the ideology and a lot of the bands were new to me in that pre-Internet era, I remember going to Oslo for one day while in Europe back in ’93 and Varg was on the front page of all the Norwegian newspapers as he’d just been sentenced to prison, but I’d only heard a few of the bands when I started at CM. I remember picking up a fanzine that was sitting in the office filing cabinets, and there was an interview with Hellhammer from Mayhem, and he closed the interview by saying, “Black metal for white people!” And that was when I thought, “Huh, maybe I don’t really need to deal with these guys.” So Rayshele kept up the personal contacts, and when she was no longer with the label, around ’97 or so, I was already dealing with a couple of the guys, like Samoth, Satyr and a few others. By then I was starting to get a bit into licensing and the contractual side of things, and so I worked out a couple of the deals, like dealing with Avantgarde to release the Mayhem “Live In Leipzig” album along with two Katatonia records and Ophthalamia, and I was doing purchasing for the mail-order so I was working with a lot of those labels, from US ones like Necropolis, Breath Of Night and Full Moon Productions to the overseas ones like Moonfog, Head Not Found / Deathlike Silence, Hot, Avantgarde, Osmose, etc. I think a lot of those guys in the scene did and said things they regretted soon thereafter, and I don’t mean so much the multiple stabbings and church-burnings, but even just some of the right-wing affiliation, ego and imagery. They were all kids when they started out, basically, and as they got a bit older, most of them grew up. Some didn’t, but most did.
Please dish on any funny/amusing 'Hedwig And The Angry Inch' moments from this time period, the bands or the Century Black imprint.
Ula: Well, I still remember when Moonspell were in their demo days, they got a fax from Mortiis, who was in Emperor at the time, I think. Mortiis was threatening them, calling them the word that rhymes with ‘diggers’, putting a cute little swastika at the bottom and saying, “Heil Hitler” as a postscript. I still have a copy of that fax, and this is from a dude that would later go on to play industrial rock while wearing elf ears. I think if 1995 Mortiis could have time-travelled to 2003, he would have murdered himself.
Well, the most embarrassing thing that probably happened was the initial CD pressing of the Emperor/Enslaved split CD, which had the very cool and eerie Gustav Dore work “The Vision Of Death” on the front, but due to a color-separation film fuck-up it came out not in black but in bright pink. Try explaining that to the band. Then there were Ulver, who after two brilliant albums of folk/black metal, signed to CM, at which time everyone expected them to go even more commercial than they were before. Instead, they gave us “Nattens Madrigal”, one of the most primal records you could imagine, and they did tell us they recorded the album outdoors in the woods, and also that they scrapped the initial recording session because it came out “too good”. The other fiasco of sorts was the Malicious Records saga, where I worked out a deal with the German guy, Gerrit, who owned the label, and we worked out a decent advance payment for him too, in order to get the US rights for the whole catalog. We finished the deal and I told him in order to pay him, he needed to send us an invoice with his bank info. He just couldn’t seem to do that even though it was a fair bit of money, and I reminded him several times, but he just didn’t manage to send one. In the meantime, several of the bands got wind of the fact that we were about to release those albums in the States, and they let us know they’d never gotten paid a dime from the guy, and that he no longer had the rights to those albums, so we managed to cancel the Mortiis, Vond and Zyklon-B releases, but by then we already had the other 8 printed and being sold, which was records by Aura Noir, Borknagar, Dodheimsgard and Gorgoroth. The very lucky part is that we had never sent Gerrit a penny since he never sent that invoice through, so we were able to work out direct deals with most of the bands to pay them. If we had already sent the money to the guy, the bands would have been completely screwed. So the lesson I learned from that is, just because someone says they have the rights to something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. Even better, that guy would reach out to me every year or so, asking when he was going to get his money, so I had to tell him, “You’d better talk to your bands.”
What sort of wrapped this whole time period together was The Firestarter compilation in ‘97, featuring very prominent acts of the second wave of black metal, however this comp seems to get no love or at least little recognition, why do you think that is?
Ula: Probably because I put it together, ha ha ha. I think it came a bit late to really be considered groundbreaking, as the die had already been cast with things like the “Nordic Metal” comp that Necropolis had released. But the comp did pretty well, actually, and it was a baby of mine, so I tried to make something cool out of it.
The name came about from a fax I got from Samoth, about some interviews or whatever, and at the bottom he wrote, as a joke, “I’m a firestarter…”, after the Prodigy song that was big at the time. I thought that was pretty clever, and I told him I wanted to use it as the name of a black metal comp, which he was OK with. Travis Smith did a great job with the artwork, and that one was one of his earlier works before the Opeths and Katatonias of the world started calling him, and it was the idea for us to release it cheaply, just to be a fan-friendly, zero-profit item that would hopefully introduce people to some new bands. CM sold over 20,000 of them in the end, and it was in shops for about $5 or from the mailorder for just $2, so I think a cool-looking package with some good bands at a cheap price made it irresistible to a lot of people. Weirdly enough I’ve had a lot of people tell me they got introduced to a few bands through that comp, as CM was doing the cheap label sampler “Identity” back then, and so I wanted to do the more extreme version. My favorite part was that I wanted to include the long wood match in the spine, and we found out it was both possible and affordable, so the first few thousand came with that match. OK, maybe it’s not as cool as the Zippo with the Burzum CD, but fuck it, even those cost you like $50 to buy one back in '93, so for a $2 price tag it was as good as we could manage!
Nowadays black metal seems to have a much more cheesy stigma attached to it, with elaborate corpse paint, glamour shot photos, etc. How would you compare and contrast the current acts to those at the time?
Ula: The glamour shots definitely leave me cold, I have never been a guy who got into bands with an image, unless your ‘image’ was wearing jeans and T-shirts. I think the initial wave had such a strong impact because it was raw, primal and done on a budget, all of which normally adds up to a kind of intensity that just can’t be matched. Some of the band photos now look like they must be airbrushed, or when you have Dimmu Borgir spending like $8,000 on a photo shoot complete with gothic nurses and naked chicks on dog chains, you know you’re a long, long way from their Fimbulwinter roots. But I blame that on Cradle Of Filth more than anything, ever since the release of their first album they were always one of the top-selling bands, and the more polished their image became, the more people bought into it. That, in turn, seemed to influence Dimmu and all the others, and when you look at pictures of the current bands, even those that have been around for a while like Dark Funeral, it’s hardly spontaneous, everything looks perfectly placed.
Some of those vintage photos were done in 5 minutes, you can tell, so even if they look a bit goofy, they seem a lot more sincere than some guys who are polishing up their nail wristbands and are worried if their shin plates will stand out properly against the ambient backlight. But what’s impressive to see is how far the US has come, as in the mid-‘90s, US black metal was, to almost everyone concerned, a joke. You had a few bands trying to make something happen, but even Havohej and Sarcophagus (who have one of the best bad band photos ever, just check Metal Archives) and the rest were just not being taken seriously. Then again, the thinking at the time was that if it didn’t come from Scandinavia, it probably wasn’t worth listening to, and bands like Enthroned were using selling points like, “Norwegian black metal from Belgium”, which always made me laugh. Flash forward 10 years, and it’s a totally different ballgame, and I’m glad to see that the US have come up with some very solid and often experimental black metal bands, and I’m amazed at how many one-man bedroom projects have taken lives of their own.
You brought up a good point. Don't you find it interesting that with black metal, for once it seemed that there was a trend going geographically "backwards"? I mean, instead of Europe catching on to what's popular in the U.S. three to five years later (with the UK being of course a little ahead of the curve) the music which was happening in the early 90s took three to five years to saturate enough to wake American audiences up to this music?
Ula: I guess it's just a matter of where that sound originates from. A lot of trends -- and a lot of bad trends, too -- originated in the States and spread outward, but there were some specific genre examples where the US was last to join the party. I think of punk rock from England in the '70s, black metal as you said, and probably the next example after that would be the Swedish death metal scene and how that wound up crossing over to US metalcore where you had pudgy short-haired dudes from Nebraska forcing pit-friendly breakdowns into the middle of At The Gates riffs. Americans are always reluctant to admit that someone else thought of something first that's better, but hey, sometimes you can't deny what's good. I mean, fried chicken and cheeseburgers are fine, but I'll take good Mexican food over that any day, you know?
Nowadays, black metal has changed a great deal and only Naglfar and Dark Fortress remain as relevant acts of the genre on CM. Is there really just not too much money to be made back on black metal like there use to be?
Ula: "Back on black" metal, I see what you did there, ha ha. I'm not even sure you would consider Naglfar wholly a black metal band, to me it's just Naglfar, they're their own beast, and few people would consider Old Man's Child a black metal band too. I think there were so many labels that specialized in those bands in the meantime that most of the larger indies just couldn't maintain a credible foothold. I mean, if you're looking for credibility, how can a label like Century Media, with bands like Lacuna Coil or Suicide Silence, have the same credibility as a NoEvDia, Drakkar and the likes? Forget it. You can't have everything. I'm sure there's still money to be made on black metal or else most of the labels wouldn't touch it, but let's face it, for labels there's not a lot of money to be made on most music these days. If you want to make money in music, you'd better be involved in touring, merch or maybe publishing. And for black metal, I think merch and maybe vinyl are probably the only two things that consistently bring the bands some beer money, since a lot of them don't really tour much anyway.
What was ultimately Century Black's undoing?
Ula: I think the brand got stretched too far, I don’t even remember all of the records that got tagged as Century Black releases, but I remember it was used on a couple releases that you could only call black metal if you really broadened the definition of what black metal was. And I believe the last batch of Century Black releases were from the Malicious catalog, which as I explained was a nightmare and which seriously dragged on for years. A lot of those bands also moved on from what they were doing musically to other styles, or diminished the black metal elements in their music, either as their interests took hold elsewhere or in some cases they just evolved musically and didn’t wish to be pinned down anymore playing as fast as they humanly could on a shoestring budget in Grieghallen Studios.
Any other humorous or noteworthy stories from this imprint or era?
Ula: Well, it’s been printed a few times how pissed off Opeth were that we put the band logo on the front cover of the “Orchid” and “Morningrise” albums, but it was also pretty apparent at the time that since nobody in the States really knew who they were in ’96, the records just wouldn’t have sold well without a band name on the front, as we just didn’t even think some of the store clerks would be astute enough to figure out where the albums would go. Maybe that was artistically wrong and nowadays you could do a clear, see-through sticker with the logo on top of the jewel-case, but back then the options were more limited, and the band got over it, and the records did pretty well in the end, so it’s another case of art versus commerce, ha ha.
("Wait, wait, wait... I know it's 1996 and our second record JUST came out and no one really knows who we are, but still, putting our name on our album cover just screams 'Sell out!'")
There were a couple records that very nearly got released via Century Black, but fell apart at the last minute, like the first two Cradle Of Filth releases, “The Principle Of Evil Made Flesh” and “Vempire”, and also the Burzum “Aske” album (CM even had promo CD sleeves printed up before a last-minute snafu with Misanthropy Records axed the deal). As a personal experience, I definitely remember the 1998 Milwaukee Metalfest, which was the live US debut for Emperor. They had previously insisted that they use their own keyboard live, so they had it shipped over ahead of the show, and was brought to the venue along with the band. They got through customs with a letter I had written saying they were going to play a benefit show for Jeff Becerra of Possessed, which thankfully worked, as the band weren’t getting paid enough to afford work visas, and we were worried that Samoth’s record would cause problems but we could only cross our fingers and hope. Everything worked out short of Alver’s bass getting damaged on the flight (he found a replacement), and the band were in good spirits. About 45 minutes before they had to play, Samoth realized he needed batteries for some gear, so I hauled ass out of the venue, we tracked down some batteries at a nearby market, and ran back in time… no sooner did I hand the batteries over, with minutes to spare, that their keyboard player, Charmand Grimloch, just realized the keyboard he’d brought over wouldn’t function without a Europe-to-US power converter. I ran into all the dressing rooms, stumbling in on guys like Sodom and Destruction in various states of undress, frantically asking for a power converter. Either the bands didn’t have one, or they weren’t about to loan one to Emperor, but I came up empty-handed (and this was pre-cell phones, of course) and it was already time for the band to hit the stage. So it dawned on Charmand that they’d be playing without him and that he’d flown all the way over for nothing. He was just standing on the side of the stage, frustrated beyond belief, and so during the first song he just ran out and stage-dove over the security barrier into the audience. In retrospect, it’s amazing the show even happened, and that 4/5 of them got to play that day.
So to wrap up, please list your top five CM release of all time and your top five black metal albums (can be CM or not) of all time…
Ula: Okay, let me think about that. Top 5 CM, in no order: Samael "Ceremony Of Opposites", Strapping Young Lad "City", Only Living Witness "Innocents", Bloodbath "Resurrection Through Carnage" and either Morgoth "Odium" or Nevermore "Dreaming Neon Black". If The Gathering put out a comp of the best of the Anneke years I'd be all over that shit too. My top 5 black metal records: Ulver "Bergtatt", Satyricon "Nemesis Divina", Immortal "At The Heart Of Winter", Arcturus "Aspera Hiems Simfonia" and Emperor "Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk". Runner-ups for me would be Dissection "Storm..." and Watain "Casus Luciferi". What can I say, I like the melodic stuff more than the "grim holocaust attakk" stuff, but fuck it, I'm old and I think I'm right, ha ha.