Monday, October 19, 2009

Nocturnus/Morbid Angel/After Death's Mike Browning

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."
Guy he is talking to: "Uh.... welcome to Olive Garden. How many people in your party?"
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!


"BC/AD": Before Christ - I ruled the land! After death - I will rule once again!!

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!!!

OK, so maybe Mike is a little weird. But it could be a zillion times weirder/more embarrassing- just ask Evil D.

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.

Classic, hilarious Nocturnus segment from "Hard N Heavy Grindcore" video. I love the part where the keyboardist talks about "thrashing where he's at" (1:20) and at 2:15 where they give advice to young bands who are thinking about moving to Florida to be closer to the epicenter of the scene.

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 was in one of the crashed alien ships that he found 'The Key' that was the finishing piece to make his time machine work"

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.

Lord Browning sits atop his throne while he prepares a fiendish scheme to rape himself once he has his time machine back (it's been kind of sputtering lately when idling, probably just the O2 sensor)

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.

All goes well until :45 or so, then oh boy... the wheels fall right off the wagon. Then at 1:35 he starts talking about his Quake clan and you just want to hide out of vicarious embarrassment.

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!

Can you imagine how amazing it would be to live next to this, then find out it belonged to Mike Browning?! My mind would explode, like if I saw Glen Benton buying Little League outfits for his kids.

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 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"

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!!!

This song is the origin of the "Nocturnus time machine" meme:

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.


  1. Hey guys,
    Funny that you finally intervied Mike for the site! Since August I have been meaing to mention that I referred him to the site when I saw him in Tampa!
    My band which is more of the death punk variety, was opening for Christian Death in Tampa. And we were scheduled to play at 10 PM! So the band returns from our hotel to the club 20 mins early and I walk in the door and Mike is sitting at a pool table near the front door with a female friend.
    He was no more than 10 feet from me and where my drums were on the stage as I had to play on an angle...
    The whole time I kept playing and looking at him, thinking "how fucking crazy is this as I used to love Incubus, along with Nocturnus whom he also played with...
    I have met Mike a few times over the past 15 years when I would drive to Tampa for some metal or punk show, you can always count on seeing him around...hes a true scenester and hes always been cool!
    So anyways...after we were done and I loaded out my drums, I approached him and told him all about MI and your post on him, and I gave him the URL for the site! His female friend said she had seen it!
    Anyways, cool interview, Mike deserves some credit, unlike that asshole David Stubnig AKA Vincent, who was also in attendance!

  2. Classic post! Well, I don't know what to say, it's all perfect...hail Evil Mike!

  3. The only way this interview could have been better is if it were a video and both you and Mike were wearing headset microphones.

    There is a Nocturnus section at this chain electronics store in my city. It only has CD -- "The Key" -- but it's still hilarious/awesome to see "NOCTURNUS" written on CD divider.

  4. On the second video, 3 out of 5 members can be seen wearing thier own band shirt! How could they...

  5. Listening to Nocturnus @work right now, stumbling upon this... Great!

  6. "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"

    MI just beat the internet.

  7. ah man. It's so good to get to meet and listen to the man himself. I've shown quite a few people this album and it is pretty badass, ill put it on when i go running sometimes.

    Off subject, you know how vince neil has those stupid "motley cruise" vacation packages he hocks on vh1, why doesn't norwegian cruise lines have some sort of black metal cruise to the frozen north, and habe black metal bands perform on the tour. People would pay for cruise that included a buffet AND Gorgoroth!

  8. cool dude ,How about giving him his own section on MI some fucked up sci fi shit is never wrong!

    "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"

    fucking awesome this is so hilarious give the man space for this!

  9. Mike is a cool guy, definitely INTO his music, still faithful to what he was. The kind of guy who would still answer snail mail interviews like he did back in the good ole dayz ! Not some big-headed asshole like the guys he used to play with !

    You rule, Mike ! Nocturnus has always been a fave band of mine ! I got hooked listening to Grindcrusher as well !!!

  10. This was the awesomest read. Getting to ask Mike Brown what he would destroy if he had access to his own Nocturnus Time Machine = the best question ever

  11. Find the "key", use the time machine and re-do your interview with him. You have finally had your chance to interview your God and you have failed.

    Basically, he destroyed the MI manger.

  12. Weird you should post this now. I woke up with my boyfriend on Saturday and said to him "Did I ask you who wuld win in a fight between David Vincent and Mike Browning?" He said no and so it turned out I dreamt I had asked him and in the dream I considered David Vincent's pubes as a deciding factor. I then discussed the fantasy fight with him but I think he switched off.

    Awesome interview. Mike seems like a "chill bro". He's actually got his head screwed on, unlike most metallers. I need to listen to 'The Key' again...and check out After Death.

  13. Sarge, I gotta say I'm disappointed. You have sullied your personal brand by delivering a product beneath market / stockholder expectations.

    You failed to:
    - inquire about the sixth dimension revealed in the cover posted here

    - investigate and analyze the intention and ramifications of Nocturnus-style keyboards in post-iron curtain Russian metal

    - maximize audience involvement and synergize cross-market opportunities by asking how Mr. Browning would improve Waking the Cadaver, or if he would just sick his droids on them

    - use the phrase "computer summons ancient evil"

    Needless to say we will be disusing this at length at the next shareholder meeting.

  14. Matt-

    Please accept my apologies for underdelivering vs the expectations of key stakeholders across the board. Rest assured that I will take appropriate action to ensure that we meet forecasts for the next quarter and beyond.


    Sgt D

  15. I feel like we have finally reached our intended purpose in this blog...i mean, where do we go from here? i love that he has a sense of humor about the whole thing...i mean, he's nutty for sure....but the fact that he played along with the "things i would do if i had access to the Noct time machine" question makes me ok in my book. Hoooray!

  16. Awesome work as always, Sarge. Not much for rape jokes, but otherwise this was a hilarious and interesting read. Much thanks for the linkage to both ICDT and my interview...I think the latter is the only thing I ever beat this blog to, and the only thing mine has that yours doesn't is more nerdy sci-fi/video game references!

  17. Oh come on... I agree that rape jokes are a no-no, but self-rape jokes are a little different, don't you think??

  18. I confess, I've never heard about Nocturnus before I started reading MI (yeah, I'm a poser, sue me). Mike sounds like an interesting guy and now I am curious to listen to his band.
    About Trey...oh my God, that was...just was terrible. WHERE IS TYRA BANKS WHEN WE NEED HER? She could teach him how to smize, pose...everything. Trey, I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you! How dare you!

  19. I have really enjoyied reading your well written article. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!me

  20. What a pair of posers,you both referred to Droid Sector as 'Enter the Droids'.Lawls jk,but still,I think Mike Davis deserved far more credit than browning.Nocturnus rules..but...Thresholds for the blimmin' win!

  21. These kind of post are always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find many good point here in the post, writing is simply great, thank you for the post

  22. mike browning(morbid angel//nocturnus/ a of the most talanted drums/vocals musician.hardly in magazines.sadcase of heroes should get the torch.those scandenivian blackmetal are too overhyped.your stuff which much more creative,quality.i was eightyears old.mike browning defintenily get my all time musician awards.or grammy!

  23. Feeling glad to see your video clips , Awesome .