Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"Chaos, Darkness & Emptiness" by Bane - REVIEW

While I expected Bane to sound similar to other Serbian black metal bands such as May Result and the Stone, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this album. This is by far one of the best melodic black metal albums I’ve heard this year, and I could definitely see this band doing well for themselves on the international level.

What struck me as most memorable about this album was the atmosphere, as it wasn’t just “grim and frostbitten” all the way through like so many other albums of the genre. Bane balance things out very well, whether it’s the feeling of forgotten majesty in slower songs such as “The Haunting Presence”, the icy melodies of “Pandemonium” and “Inherited Infection”, or the creepy, carnival-like overtones of “Abhorrence”. Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that those of you who are allergic to cheesy keyboards need not fear, as keyboards on this album are used sparsely and only in intro tracks (like in the awesome, early-era Mortiis-esque “Awakening of the Evil Spirits”, and “Dysthymia”, which recalls Ildjarn‘s ambient stuff). The ominous acoustic guitar melody in "Lost Shadows" is a nice touch as well, as it only further reinforces the album's atmosphere and also provides a brief break from the intensity.

While the songs are catchy, dark, and pretty much all you can ask for in a melodic black metal album, it’s worth calling attention to both the high-quality production and musicianship on this album as well. The guitar playing is flawless, the solos are classy, and the drums are top-notch, without sounding fake or over-produced. The vocals also suit the music quite well, as Branislav’s death metal growl and Khargash’s black metal rasp compliment each other perfectly and give the music another dimension. I could definitely see both black and death metal fans digging this album. It’s also good to see high-quality metal like this coming out of Serbia, as I’m not too familiar with what the metal scene is like there, but if Bane is any indication of the overall quality of the Serbian underground, then I’m excited to see what else this scene has in store for us.

When I first gave “Chaos, Darkness, & Emptiness” a listen I felt that I was listening to a Dimmu Borgir knockoff, and while I’m assuming that Dimmu is a huge influence on these guys, Bane definitely has enough of its own character to separate itself from the imitators. This and Istapp’s debut album earlier this year are, for me, some of the best melodic black metal to come out in 2010. I would definitely recommend this album for fans of Dimmu Borgir, Catamenia, Dissection, Old Man’s Child, etc.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The State of Metal 2010: Judge Dredd's Dreaded Top 10

Overall, I unfortunately don't think this was a very strong year for metal when considering how colossal the last few years of the decade have been as far as supplying great and innovative releases. However, there is certainly hope with a number of bands releasing their debuts. Some of these debuts made my top ten (Humo del Cairo, Kvelertak) while some didn't quite make it, but whose future work is bound to produce "Dredd's Dreaded Top Ten" results (Castevet, Coffinworm). Speaking of, Profound Lore is hands down the metal record label of the year in this man's humble opinion. Profound Lore had some great releases from Agalloch, Coffinworm, Castevet, and Dawnbringer among others.

I think the greatest part of the year in metal would be the fact that already established artists were able to push their sound even more and experiment, experiment, experiment. Bands like Nachtmystium, Ihsahn, and The Dillinger Escape Plan pushed the envelope even further than they had in the past with their own music. Bands like Drudkh, Alcest, and Lantlos continue to push the preconceived boundaries of black metal...or even post-black metal. And you know...Deathspell Omega is just Deathspell Omega.

Speaking of (again), the French metal scene continues to go only from strength to strength with new releases from Alcest, Deathspell Omega, Les Discrets...although I suppose the new Blut Aus Nord was a bit disappointing.

The most disappointing aspect of the year for me was the so called resurgence of Southern, sludge-inspired metal-specifically that of the Georgian scene. After absolutely essential releases from both Baroness and Mastodon last year, I had high hopes for that of bands like Kylesa and Black Tusk among many others. However, there seems to be a contrived sound and aesthetic that all these bands are gunning for. Now compare that to the heyday of the NOLA scene when each major player had their very own style, though uniquely "NOLA" all the same (compare Soilent Green to EyeHateGod to Down to Crowbar and you'll know what I mean...and that's even when most of those bands shared members ). Furthermore, ALL THESE NEW SOUTHERN METAL BANDS HAVE ARTWORK BY JOHN BAIZLEY THAT LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME, which also makes it at times impossible to aesthetically distinguish the bands.

From my perspective, and despite how inane this may sound, the theme of this year is one of growth. Most of the albums listed below took time to grow on me. It may be my high expectations I've honed and developed for metal over the years, or it may just be because of a few bands I adore decided to step out of their comfort zones, which in turn forced me to step out of mine.

So here it is. Judge Dredd's Dreaded Top 10 of 2010:

1. "Paracletus" by Deathspell Omega
2. "Addicts: Black Meddle Pt. 2" by Nachtmystium
3. "Axioma Ethica Odini" by Enslaved
4. "s/t" by Kvelertak
5. "Nucleus" by Dawnbringer
6. "s/t" by Humo del Cairo
7. "Option Paralysis" by The Dillinger Escape Plan
8. "The Tenant" by Ludicra
9. ".Neon" by Lantlos
10. "After" by Ihsahn

Honorable Mentions (in order):
"Majesty and Decay" by Immolation
"Mounds of Ash" by Castevet
"Marrow of the Spirit" by Agalloch
"When All Became None" by Coffinworm
"Songs for Singles" by Torche
"Mechanize" by Fear Factory
"Handful of Stars" by Drudkh
"Belus" by Burzum

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Deathspell Omega: Les Mystères De Satan

With the release of their newest album, "Paracletus" ("Comforter" or "Holy Spirit" in Greek), Deathspell Omega has completed it's unholy trilogy of Satanic spiritual awakening which includes albums "Si Monumentum Requires, Circumspice" ("If you seek his monument, look around you" in Latin) and "Fas-Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum" ("By Divine Law, go you Cursed, into the Eternal Fire" in Latin).

The band has essentially created their own mythology within the metal underground by shrouding themselves in mystery (they have done just a handful of interviews, never play live, and have never revealed their true identities). As one might imagine, this has not only created a lot of (well deserved) hype, but also put the focus completely on the music as well as the concepts behind the music.

The primary lyrical concept behind their music is humankind's metaphysical relationship between "Satan" and "God". Their faith is what I would characterize as the most in depth Satanic philosophy in metal. They claim to practice a style of Orthodox Satanism with a heavy emphasis on the metaphysical. Despite the inherent contradiction of the name, they claim that the word "Orthodox" simply implies their acknowledging Satan as being of "divine essence":

"Let me say though that the main implication of the word "orthodox" in this context is a proud statement of the recognition of Satan being of divine essence, of the location of Devilworship on a religious and metaphysical level. The easy escape of using the word ideology instead of confronting oneself with the real challenges only portrays the terribly low level on which the major current of 'Satanism' is crawling.

Taken literally, the "orthodox" in Orthodox Satanism would imply that there is already a generally accepted canon of Satanic doctrine. In reality there is no standard Satanic doctrine, and it appears as if DsO reject the teachings of Anton Lavey, and therefore his infamous "Satanic Bible" which many take as the codified, universal explanation of Satanic ritual and practice. Instead, the members of DsO have taken influence by not only the Bible and other Judeo-Christian texts, but also texts as wide ranging as the writings of post-surrealist George Bataille to those of centuries-old Gnostic prophet, Mani. One could argue that there is really no other Black Metal band that has as in depth a grasp on their Satanic ideology, philosophy, and/or belief.

It appears as though the members of DsO are forging their own style of Satanism and they are using their own music as a catalyst to chronicle their spiritual journey. In other words, their music IS the journey:

"Professing a belief, or rather describing the different stones that pave the road on the quest that true faith implies, is synonymous with being active, it witnesses of spiritual evolution, of gains and of losses."

Additionally, as mentioned earlier, their music has been void of individual ego by choosing not to reveal their true identities. When asked why DsO choose to remain so mysterious, "they" answered somewhat esoterically:

"First and foremost, we want to avoid at all costs this very human illusion of being important and gladly leave these fifteen minutes of fame, as Warhol brilliantly put it, to whoever wants them. In regard to what we are trying to understand and dare to praise despite the immense restrictions of human understanding, we are nothing."

Within the interpersonal framework of a band, there is always individual ego involved.
The fact that they choose not to reveal their individual identities in some ways allows the music to develop a stronger identity of its own. However, if you remove the public existence of any said individual egos, and in some ways ignore the "human illusion of being important", the music, in a way, develops it's own identity. This is not to say that the music is "humanized" as a result. In the case of DsO's very inhuman and other-worldly style, the listener is discouraged from humanizing the music. Therefore, coming full circle, the identity that DsO's music develops, is that of their Satanic spiritual journey.

Now it should be said that at least a part of DsO's notoriety is due to the hype that surrounds the band. One has to take into account only the breadth of their concept, complexity of their lyrics, and caliber of musicianship to know that the hype is indeed warranted.

So I implore you, reader: join DsO, and take the journey into the everlasting fire.

- Judge Dredd

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Interview with Patrick Mameli of Pestilence!!

Phone interview conducted on May 18, 2010.

WULF: Alright, so first of all I'd like to start off by saying it's an honor to talk to you. While I wasn't into metal when your last album came out, before your breakup, I've been checking you guys out now for awhile now and I really, really like your stuff. I really like the new album too. It's awesome, it's very brutal, but I was very surprised when I first heard it considering the experimental nature of your albums before the breakup. So I'd like to start off by saying that it's been a little over a year since "Resurrection Macabre" has come out, and over the course of this past year, how has the reaction been from fans and critics on your end?

PATRICK: Well, actually, I'd have to say it was like...mixed. (There were) mixed feelings because when you are in a band you want to create the best music you can, and it's a little child. It's what you think is best. It's the best stuff you think you are coming up with. On the other hand, with the following that we have, the fans that have been there since day 1, there's two camps. There's the "Martin van Drunen and 'Consuming Impulse'" camp, and then you have the "Testimony of the Ancients" camp with me on vocals, and then there's the 15-year gap. And then we come out with our new album, and it was difficult because a lot of people were comparing it to the newer previous material and then when you have two camps you can't really please everybody. So that's difficult, but I think that we succeeded in grasping the best of the Pestilence style and taking it a step further.

WULF: Yeah, sort of evolved a little bit then? I'd say I'm in both camps, I love the brutality of the album, but while I like experimental metal and all of that like from "Spheres" and "Testimony of the Ancients", I really like "Consuming Impulse" and so for this album it was totally cool that it was really brutal and groove-y, kind of juxtaposed with (more), kind of technical parts. But anyway the tracks that I've played most on my radio show are "Dehydrated II" and "Devouring Frenzy". Especially because "Dehydrated", the first one, is one of my favorite songs by you guys. So is there a particular track that stands out as your favorite on this album?

PATRICK: Well, that's difficult because I want to top every song, so every song is kind of special to me but it almost seems that some of the songs that work in the studio really well don't work as well live. We have a great response on the song "Resurrection Macabre" itself, because it's slow and doomy and people want to bang their heads to it, so that gives you a great feeling but I definitely must say that I like "Hate Suicide" a lot because there's a lot of stuff happening in the song, the things that we like in music, it's got the blasts, it's got the "eerie", it's got the chunkiness, it's got the octave chords that get pushed around a lot, so it's difficult but I think I like "Hate Suicide" a lot.

WULF: Cool, man. I pretty much liked all the songs, I thought they were really good and I've given them a lot of airplay. So my next question-- this might be kind of a dumb question, but when you were in the studio, I know you guys are very technically-proficient players but was there a track that was more difficult than the others to record or write during the writing process?

PATRICK: Actually, no, it was like riding a bike. We kind of wanted to do it the easy way, we don't write songs to make it difficult for ourselves or to show off how technical we are. We wanted to do it with chemistry, and the whole thing with "Resurrection Macabre" was that I kind of had an idea of how the songs should sound but we never practiced. We never practiced before when we entered the studio. That was the first time that people got the chance to get into the songs and I brought my files with the ghost guitars on it, left and right, and a click track, and I just offered the guys a great opportunity to be as creative as possible so in other words, I didn't know what to expect and the guys didn't know what to expect. Of course they heard some stuff and little things here and there that I sent and said "OK, could you guys sound a little bit like that?" But when everything came together it was an amazing experience, it had lots of wild moments because like I said we hadn't practiced before so this was the first time we played those songs for everybody and when they put all the tracks together the monster came to life, and it was beyond my expectations, definitely.

WULF: Hence the title, "Resurrection Macabre"?

PATRICK: There you go.

WULF: That's cool man. So you worked with producer Jacob Hansen, and I was just wondering since I like to know "behind the scenes" types of stuff, how was he as a producer? What was it like working with him?

PATRICK: Very, very laid-back. (He's a) very laid-back person and he knows his stuff. He's got a very great ear. Although, it was kind of a clinical situation, because we didn't we have so much time. We had to do the whole album in two weeks. So when Peter Wildoer (drums) came in, he recorded drum tracks and then went off, and then Tony Choy (bass) (came in), so it's like one after another, and I would just be recording my guitar parts in another room all by myself. So that is kind of a clinical approach to everything and like I said, it really worked. We played many gigs with this lineup, with Tony Choy and Peter, and it sounded just awesome. It's kind of weird to be coming over to the States with a new lineup performing songs from the Resurrection album, but it's going to be awesome. We have a (new) great drummer now (Yuma Van Eekelen), this guy so is so fast with his double bass and he blasts like the real, single-footed blasts, like Derry Roddy. I've got Jeroen (Paul Thesseling) back up on bass, like he did on the "Spheres" album, so it's almost 75% like the original lineup.

WULF: That's awesome man. I'm sure old-school fans and new fans are also really excited to see that as well. Congratulations on that! When you talked about the US tour, that's actually what I want to talk about next. So congratulations on this upcoming tour, that's really badass. Now just out of curiosity, I know you that guys have come here before, to North America, is that right?


WULF: Now when was the last time you actually did tour here, though? Was it for the "Spheres" album?

PATRICK: No, I don't think so. I think it was for the "Testimony" album. We toured a bunch of times with Death. We did a small European tour but it was kind of a bad time for us because we were in the midst of splitting up with Roadracer (Records) and nobody dug the "Spheres" album so not too many people would show up or they would really want to hear those old songs and we just wanted to fuck the relationship up with Roadracer so we just went in a different direction. That went OK for us, but we were really frustrated at that time with the whole music industry, but it was our own mistake trying to combine metal and jazz and stuff like that. Bands like Atheist, they do that too, but they started doing that, man. We started as a death metal band, leading to that stuff, so that was our mistake. I think that the "Resurrection Macabre", if we would have come out with it after "Testimony of the Ancients" we would have been way bigger.

WULF: Well you know, it's funny, in hindsight I know you probably hear this all the time about how the experimental "Spheres" and stuff like that was awesome, even if people at the time didn't dig it or whatever, but honestly man, the first Pestilence album I ever heard was "Spheres" and I thought it was really cool, so then to go from that to "Resurrection Macabre" I thought was really awesome because I like both of them. But anyway, yeah so when you did the last tour here, based on that experience, is there a city here in particular that you look especially forward to playing in? I'm assuming besides the Maryland Deathfest, because that's going to be awesome.

PATRICK: Yeah, that's going to be one of our highlights as the start of the tour, so it's crazy to start off with something like that. But we have fond memories of lots of cities that we went through, but not one really in particular because we had so many great moments in so many amazing cities. But Houston was awesome.

WULF: Houston?

PATRICK: Yeah, man! Houston was awesome because fans are crazy but also like Mexico, Tijuana, that was crazy, but also New York because that was crazy, it was snowing and that was a crazy time. But there are too many to name because the US is such a beautiful and great country and to have so many've got the great countryside. I love Florida, I love L.A., I love the's just crazy. Too many different options there, you know?

WULF: Yeah, and the different states and regions kind of have their own character too, because we're pretty big, but I see what you're saying. That's really cool, man. Alright, so for plans for Pestilence's future, I know that there's this tour, and then it looks like you guys are going to be playing some dates in Europe after that, but what I want to know is, and I'm sorry if you've talked about this before in other interviews and I've missed it, but are there plans for a new Pestilence album or EP on the way or anything like that?

PATRICK: Well actually, I have, like, five songs written already.

WULF: Really?

PATRICK: Yeah. Like I said, it's like riding a bike, but we want to top all our previous material so this album's going to be even more crazy, if I put those five songs already in perspective. The album will be recorded I think in September, and (released) in February. It will be called "Doctrine", and it's going to be sick, it's going to be something that is different from all the other Pestilence albums. So one never knows what to expect.

WULF: (laughs) Yeah, cool man! So you said you're going in in September, and it will be out by February of 2011?


WULF: Awesome, man! Just in time for my birthday! (laughs) Alright! So I don't know if this is too far ahead or anything, but are we ever going to be able to see a Pestilence DVD or anything like that?

PATRICK: Well, actually what is going to happen is that we are going to try to bring that out ourselves and sell it (on) our official website because there will be so much footage and nowadays everybody can record in HD-

WULF: With YouTube and stuff like that.

PATRICK: Yeah, we'll edit it ourselves and come up with a nice, nice DVD for y'all.

WULF: Oh, cool man! I'm really into metal DVDs, especially because I'm in the Midwest and not a lot of shows come through here. So we have to drive a lot, and sometimes I can't make it. So this is kind of a way for me to get at least part of that concert experience. Now, I know that we're running out of time here and you've probably got other interviews and stuff, just two really quick questions...are there any future plans for the band C-187? Is that still going on?

PATRICK: No, that's not going on. When I started that project I thought that that was going to blow up a lot, so that was my thing, so that was my thing, and in the end it only sold, like, a thousand copies. So most people bashed it because it was kind of promoted as "ex-Death, ex-Pestilence", so people (inaudible), I had to get that music out of my system, I guess, but recording with Sean Reinert (Cynic, Death), that was amazing. So for me, that was enough. When I was doing interviews for C-187 everyone kept asking about Pestilence so I just went back to the good ol' roots and that's when (inaudible) and resurrecting Pestilence.

WULF: Awesome. Well I mean, that's cool too, but I'm sorry C-187 didn't turn out the way you wanted it to, but then again it's good to see that Pestilence is back too, so, I guess I can't explain. (laughs) So, my last question, this is just a question based just on my own curiosity, just because I like to know, but of all your tours that you've gone on with Pestilence, is there a certain band in particular that stands out to you as like, the craziest, just behind the scenes? Like, dudes that are the most wild, or out of control?

PATRICK: Well, I haven't been in the scene for many years and so I would not know, but I know that when we were growing up and listening to good ol' Napalm Death, with Mick Harris on drums, he would take a shit in the shower and (inaudible). (laughs) And, of course, our great, great friend G.G. Allin is like...he's a goner but-

WULF: You knew G.G. Allin?!

PATRICK: Oh yeah, dude. I didn't know him personally, but I knew of him.

WULF: Yeah, that guy was nuts. Yeah, I was just curious, I like to know the behind the scenes stuff, so...anyway man, that's all the questions I have for you. I know you have other interviews so I'd just like to say that it's been an honor to talk to you and I wish you the best of luck on this North American tour here.

PATRICK: Thank you so much, and hopefully we'll get a chance to say hi to each other and shake some hands and drink some beer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Interview with Elctrikchair!!

Interview conducted outside Duffy's in Lawrence, KS, on May 14, 2010.

WULF: So! You guys have just put out "Xenophobia". New album. What I'd like to say is congratulations on doing all that, and while I follow a basic outline to my interviews because I'm pretty inexperienced, you can feel free to deviate (from my questions), do whatever you want. So, what I'd like to say is-- basic starter question, how has the reception been so far on your end for this album?

BOBBY: Fantastic. It's been selling out of FYE, sold out of, sold out of Tower Records, sold out of Angelo's in Denver, Colorado, selling out of Best Buy, selling out of Amazon, it's been good. Really good reaction.

ANDY: And especially where we're living, every single store sold out of (it), and each store had twenty copies each.

BOBBY: Hastings sold out in the first week.

ANDY: So the album is surprisingly doing a lot better than I expected, honestly. Without any promotion or help. We're finally getting promotion on the new record, we're going to be in the next issue of Hails and Horns, coming out June 23. Maris the Great did a review, and he also...killed us (laughs)

KENNETH: Basically we got covered in a bunch of meat and stage blood and it was a fun experience. (laughs)

WULF: I saw that! That's awesome.

BOBBY: He made me lay in the snow, that kind of sucked. (laughs) "Lay in the snow while I kick dust on you!" "This better be worth it, Maris!" (laughs) But he made me the cover boy so I can't bitch.

WULF: That's awesome. I did read that interview, it was very entertaining. So, for this new album, I would like to ask, while I enjoyed (all) of the tracks, I really liked (the obvious highlights) which I would say are "Xenophobia" and "Celebrity Media Whore"... you guys can answer this each individually or whatever, but what would you say would be your (personal) favorite tracks for the album?

BOBBY: Of course you point at me first. (laughs) Strangely enough my favorite to listen to is "Dark Crystal". And the reason why is that even though we do that weird, odd hardcore breakdown at the end, the way we did it was so Mr. Bungle-y I loved it. (laughs) I just loved it.

KENNETH: I'd say my favorite is "Celebrity Media Whore". It's very catchy, it's got a good groove to it, I just love it.

ANDY: (For me) it's kind of a cross between several different songs. I would have to say my favorite is, out of all of them, "Blackened War", the oldest out of that whole bunch. We've actually had "Blackened War" since the "Citicorps" age. What happened was we did a lot of changes on the record to update the song. Another one is actually "Crossroads". A lot of people will be surprised I picked that one because that (one) was our more mainstream-sounding song. The reason why I picked that one is because it was about my friend who died in a car accident many years (ago). It bothered me for several years until I finally actually had the balls to write a song about it. (laughs)

WULF: I'm sorry to hear that your friend died.

ANDY: Thank you.

WULF:, if I were to say there was a particularly difficult track to record on this album...not that I'm doubting your proficiency as musicians or anything like that, but was there a track that you guys felt, individually or otherwise, particularly hard to nail in the studio?

BOBBY: "Xenophobia".

KENNETH: Absolutely "Xenophobia".

WULF: Why?

BOBBY: The time changes. It goes from 8/4 to 4/4, it's at 400 beats-per-minute, and just in general to nail that eight-minute song in one take was a bitch. (laughs)

KENNETH: Yeah, it's tough.

ANDY: I would have to say "End of the World Watcher", surprisingly. You'd think that song's easy, but we had to do some interesting split-tracks in order to get the riff down, which was weird because I've never had to do a split-track before! (laughs) What it was was Eric Graves came up with a new technique because he's using pro-tools and he showed (us) new ways of making sure the riff will come out cleaner and I looked at him like he was on drugs when he asked me to do some of this stuff but I was like, "alright...". But I listened to him because a great mind will craft a great record and that's pretty much how we follow our formulas. We want the producers to help us craft the right record. Maybe what I think is right may not be what he (thinks) is right. He was on Prosthetic Records, he was in The Esoteric. I would say he would know more about what is going to sell out there than someone like me. So he showed us how to craft this record pretty proficiently, and I felt "Into the World Watcher" was the one song he showed us how to craft properly, and it took a long time to actually get that song done. It took about a month to do that song.

WULF: So more about the album. When I interviewed you for the radio show, which was not recorded, the album was kind of a concept album lyrically. Is that true?

ANDY: That is very true. Basically what starts off as a black plague...well, first it starts off with just the intro, which is "Revelation 9", which is basically starting off with the beginning...creation, whatever. Hot lava flowing everywhere. And then it skips ahead to the Dark Ages. We're talking about the Black Plague...the Bubonic Plague killing off everybody, destroying everything. Satan running rampant, owning the human race, which actually proves his dominance over God. That's what we wanted. Then it shows the progression to "Celebrity Media Whore"...false idols, not in the Christian sense, but we follow any type of false being whether it's Jesus Christ--

KENNETH: Paris Hilton.

ANDY: Paris Hilton, which is the modern Jesus, in my opinion. The story is about a girl who they grabbed out of high school and turned into a major star. Gave her everything...the typical story. She ends up becoming a crack whore at the end of the video, and dies of a heroin overdose. So we show the progression from there. Then by "Xenophobia", it skips to another story, where a kid, who is supposedly the Antichrist, is being hunted down by a bunch of Christians. What happens is that he lashes out and kills all the Christians that were going after him. It's basically like a fantasy story, kind of like the Blaxploitation films that they had back in the day where they showed black superheroes, like Supafly and stuff like that, destroying their white adversaries and showing black liberation. It's kind of in the same light, except it's atheist/Satanic liberation.

BOBBY: There's a point to all the time changes in "Xenophobia". All those weird jazz runs and all of that...that represents this kid's mind. He's going insane. And the "Xe-No!" (part) of "Xenophobia", those are representing stab wounds from it.

ANDY: And so basically we're telling a story from that...then, chapter five. This is "Blackened War". This is where we decided to start the concept because that song was actually a political song talking about the Iraq War originally. We changed up the lyrics and we talked about the War of Armageddon instead. Where everybody is against everybody, nuclear bombs are going off, everyone getting sick, getting destroyed. Diseases running rampant, and famine...everything. So basically everything's just chaotic. Then you've got "End of the World Watcher", which is basically the beginning of everything. This is about the year 2012. Now, granted, in my real-life thinking, I know I shouldn't even be saying this...I don't believe the world is going to end in 2012, but I know it's kind of a cool concept. (laughs) So what we did was link up with Phil Webb. He has muscular dystrophy. He's actually one of the head captains of the New York Death Militia in Nebraska. He helped write the lyrics to that song. He was showing us a lot of political concepts of destruction and chaos, and what we did is use his writings and incorporate (them into our songs). So we actually had help from Phil Webb because I promised him I would make sure to get one of his lyrics on one of our tracks and I'll go ahead and throw my input in there, that way it's still Elctrikchair's and I still have my writing credentials because I've got a weird thing about other people writing my music and lyrics for me. (laughs) At the very end, the last chapter, is "Dark Crystal". "Dark Crystal" was basically where the meteor comes. We make it sound all happy and make it sound more Avenged Sevenfold-y...I know I hate to use that term because it kills all of our metal credibility but the reason why I made it sound so happy is because everybody's dying. It's like a total contradiction. So everyone's getting fucking killed by this big ol' meteor, but it's--

BOBBY: It's ending the chaos.

ANDY: It's ending the chaos, so it's like a calm. So the final breakdown...the reason why we use the breakdown, was to show the final destruction. The world's dying. It's over.

BOBBY: The meteor just hit. The screaming represents everybody just screaming. We're thinking about doing a video of it where at the very end, right as we do the breakdown, we're disintegrating ourselves, but we're still playing the song and it will be a nice concept.

ANDY: That was basically supposed to be the end of the album. What we ended up doing was add a couple of tracks. The progressive jazz song, "Homeless", was actually supposed to be on "Citicorps", previously. We did not put it on there for the political content, because we already got enough heat for that last record, and it actually got pulled from shelves for attacking George W. Bush. We got blatantly attacked a terrorist band for calling him a stupid fuck, basically. (laughs)

BOBBY: On the front cover, I blatantly put George Bush with glowing eyes burning the Constitution. You couldn't get anymore blatant than that. (laughs)

ANDY: And as former punk rockers from back in the day we've always had a political concept. I've been around the crust punk scene...I'm talking about legitimate punk rock, not "Johnny Punk-Rocker" who wore Blink-182 (shirts). Blink-182 is not a punk band by the way. (laughs) Anyway, we ended up with the last song, "Crossroads". The reason why we made it such a long epic was because I promised the (family of the friend that died) that...well, what happened was that he was drunk driving and hit a cow, got decapitated. It bothered me for several years after the fact. I had a hard time dealing with that, because I actually lived with the guy. He was my roommate in school when I was going to Colorado State University at the time. That weekend we wore black armbands for his death. A lot of people thought a band-mate died but the one thing I regret is that we were supposed to do a show but it got jacked-up and he didn't get a chance to see us. I've been living with that for a long time, so we ended up writing "Crossroads" and making it really special to honor his family, so I put a little cheesy lyrics in there talking about skateboarding (and stuff). I talked about stuff that he liked to do, and I left myself out of that song. But it was really tough to deal with the whole thing, so it was my way of coping with it. Kind of like my final goodbye. So that's why with the album, if you guys order it through any type of distro or whatever, you'll see a dedication to my buddy Josh. And every year when the anniversary (of his death) comes up I write on his Facebook wall. He's still got it up, his family looks at it pretty (regularly), so I had a hard time dealing with that whole thing. There was a big funeral down in Trinidad, Colorado and if it wasn't for his death the metal show down there (on the radio) would have never happened. I put together a radio program as a dedication to his life and that's how that song kind of got started. So it was kind of in a way bringing metal to a smaller town, and I thought that was pretty cool. But that's why that song is so special. The last song we did "Remember the Fallen", I'm a huge German thrash fan and--

WULF: A Sodom cover.

ANDY: Oh, I love Sodom dude. We wanted to do it justice, I felt the Dark Funeral version wasn't very good in my personal opinion. A lot of people are going to stab me once they see this written. (laughs)

BOBBY: No, no, just the Gaahl fans and the Dark Funeral fans.

ANDY: I mean, I love black metal, don't get me wrong, but I wanted to make sure I did the song justice, so that was the key and so we just went ahead and threw that in as a bonus track.

WULF: OK, well I guess that covers the whole album then. If anybody doesn't have any final comments (I'll move on). So for future plans, then, you guys have talked about this being the only Kansas appearance you guys will be playing for your upcoming tour. Would you like to talk about that?

ANDY: With the upcoming tour we're going to start off here, but right now we're taking it slow because there's going to be a lot of breaks in between, just to get stuff together before the big summer tour. In the next two weeks we're going to be playing the El Diablo Metal Fest with Zombie Hate Brigade, they're on Crash Records.

BOBBY: It's the biggest metal fest in New Mexico, period.

WULF: Cool.

ANDY: So we're going to be going down there for that, and then we're going to come home for a couple weeks because I've got some (University of Kansas) stuff I've got to take care of. But then we're going to be hitting the road with the Exmortus guys and Witchaven. And we'll be jumping off to Bakersfield (California) and doing some shows out in California and we're going to be going all the way up into Vancouver, Canada and then just kind of going around the upper west coast of Canada and then sink back down and end the tour in Arizona. We're actually going to start the tour in Arizona and just kind of (go from there). We did a special show tonight because Bob's graduating from high school so we did this special show as an "invite-only" show. Basically it was a fun, party show for you guys. The bands were all good tonight and I really enjoyed everything.

BOBBY: This actually beat out my birthday show last year. We brought in bands from Colorado and bands from Omaha (Nebraska), we had the fire marshal shut down the Boobie Trap because it just got that full. I had more fun at this show.

ANDY: And it's funny too because originally we booked that show for Avenger of Blood. They broke up right before that show happened.

BOBBY: So we decided, "why don't we have Bob just pick his favorite bands we've played with over the years?" So I literally called them all up, one by one, and said, "get your asses down here, we're playing at the 'Trap, it's going to be sold out, get down here!" (laughs)

ANDY: And so we ensured that everyone was going to enjoy themselves.

WULF: Good! Well, OK, so if I'm not mistaken then, you guys have planned out a video now for "Celebrity Media Whore"?

ANDY: What we're going to do is hire an actress to (play) the "Teenage Mistress", is what we call her. Basically the queen damsel-in-distress that dies in a bloody mess. (laughs)

BOBBY: Basically, the Lindsay Lohan type of figure.

ANDY: Except she dies. (laughs) What we're going to do is to make it special we're going to shoot it at Oldfather (Studios), just because I want it done by local guys. We're actually going to have film majors do it, get them started. Since we got the slot on MTV 2's Headbanger's Ball to do this, we want to do it more independently. The problem was that we had a few lineup changes. We were actually supposed to have this done back in January. We didn't do it because we lost our guitar player and I don't even want to talk about what happened to our bass player because it's not appropriate for me to express what happened to him.

KENNETH: We had a keyboard player for awhile.

ANDY: And she didn't work out, so we ended up moving Ken off of keyboards (and on to bass).

KENNETH: I had been playing keyboards, so I moved on to play bass.

WULF: OK, now, just as a side-note, a sub-question, was it difficult to move from keyboards to bass? Not to doubt your bass-playing skills--

KENNETH: No, it wasn't because I also play guitar and to learn it on keyboards I learned the guitar parts as well, so I know the guitar parts, the bass parts, and the keyboard parts.

WULF: Interesting. Now to get close to the end here, is there a particular city that you guys enjoy playing more than others? Who has the craziest Elctrikchair fans, would you say?

BOBBY: Oh, Wisconsin. We got the wall of death going, they stopped the show. (laughs)

WULF: Wisconsin, where?

BOBBY: Milwaukee. We got the wall of death going during "Xenophobia", I think someone Youtube'd it and put it online. It got so out of hand they stopped it because the guard-rail snapped.

ANDY: I'm going to have to say New York City. CBGB's. It was weird because at the time we were doing the whole "New Generation of Thrash" thing, during the "Citicorps" era. We were transferring over still. We were melodic death, then we kept flirting with thrash still. We had a bunch of actual, straight up New York hardcore kids show up.

BOBBY: We have a lot of FSU fans out there. A lot of FSU fans.

ANDY: We never figured out why because we were never, like, a hardcore band. Not even remotely close, but what I felt was cool was that they created this thing called "harshing". They were literally jumping off the stage while hardcore dancing and moshing at the same time. They were beating the shit out of each other, like cage fighting, a guy who broke his nose put it back into place. That was probably the most violent pit, to this day.

BOBBY: The stage was collapsing. I got hit by a tooth. They were jumping on the sound system. It was some crazy shit, and this place was packed like a sardine can, so I'm going, "if I die, at least it will be worth it!" (laughs) Henry Rollins would be proud. (laughs)

ANDY: That was the one highlight in our career that we actually got to embrace the venue that pretty much birthed rock 'n' roll that mattered. That's what I call it. I don't say just, "metal, punk, whatever". It all came from that club.

BOBBY: This was the venue that when we found out we were playing there, Andy and I looked at each other and we acted like a couple of teenage school girls.

ANDY: I'd waited my whole career to play there. If Elctrikchair just failed after that, I'd die a happy man. That's all I wanted.

BOBBY: That's really what kicked it off to take this even more seriously than we already were. After that, we looked at each other like "what else can we do?" Next goal? Wacken. (laughs)

WULF: That would be badass, for sure. OK, I have two more questions to ask. Who is the craziest band that you've ever toured with, or who is the craziest band you've played with behind the scenes?

ANDY: That's a tough one. I would have to say...oh God...

WULF: Feel free to say why or not (laughs)

ANDY: Dundee Strangler or...I would have to say...what was the other band that was all jacked up? Throwing beer bottles in the back...what were they called? I'm drawing a blank...Stillborn Portrait. They were literally doping up before every show (laughs).

BOBBY: That band disappeared in the middle of the tour. It was kind of like, "uhhh...OK?" (laughs)

ANDY: Yeah, no one knows what happened, they just kind of dropped off, out of nowhere.

WULF: Crazy dudes, huh? What was this band called?

ANDY: Stillborn Portrait. Out of San Francisco. They're just very bad drug addicts, but Dundee (Strangler) was crazier because we went to Perkins and they were throwing glasses and food at each was ridiculous. I've never seen anything like it.

BOBBY: It was one of those, "we don't know that band" moments. (laughs)

WULF: Now my last question is, before I take any more of your time, you guys are going on tour...I want to know if there are any plans for your future, besides your music video? As far as new music goes, what's going to happen?

ANDY: Actually, I can answer this question probably better than anybody else. We're going in a very new direction on this (next) album. On "Xenophobia" we wanted to showcase every aspect of our many notes we can throw into a song, out fast we can play. On this new album we're going to emphasize slower tempos. We're going to emphasize the doom metal aspect of our career. We flirted with it tonight. We jammed it (out) a little bit. But it's only going to be for a couple tracks. We're still going to keep the traditional Elctrikchair sound, we're not going to forget who we are. We know who we are, and so we're going to continue doing what we're doing, but at the same time we're going to add new elements. On my own end I've been listening to a lot of Amorphis and Anathema.

WULF: Old or new Amorphis and Anathema?

ANDY: With Anathema, I would have to say more old, because they're straight up doom/sludge. Also I would say new Amorphis, on the other end, because they're more progressive, they dropped the death metal element, except on "Silent Waters".

BOBBY: Theme-wise, we're getting a little more experimental. This is going to be based on the human mind and how it slowly goes insane.

ANDY: We're doing more concepts. I feel that the band is talented enough to pull off actual concepts, we're telling stories now. I want people to pay that ten dollars and realize that they're getting their money's worth. I don't want cheap songs on the next record, I want masterpieces. If it's not a masterpiece, it doesn't belong on that record. That's how I feel about it and that's how it's going to be. You know deep down not everyone's not going to like what you're doing, but at the same time you've got to be satisfied knowing in your mind that it was worth every penny that you put into it.

WULF: Alright, well I think that about does it! Would anyone like to add anything otherwise?

ANDY: I'd like to thank our fans, over the years, who have come and gone. We respect you guys. The fans are the one's who make the band, hands down.

BOBBY: I want to give a shout-out to one of my friends over the years who supported me when we were playing to the sound guy. Not the people that come back and turn around and go "oh you're big now, I'm your best friend!" No, I'm talking the legitimate people, the die-hards. And they still follow us, to this day I get phone calls every day from them. I've got to thank them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Interview with Erik Danielsson of Watain!!

I should preface this post with somewhat of a warning-- it's not a very good all. While it's clear that Erik was fucking around with me by being creepy and weird, unfortunately for me I was like a deer in the headlights. Since I've never been in this situation before I wasn't quite sure how to handle it, so this is definitely the weirdest and most awkward interview I've ever done. Also, throughout most of the interview there were these strange noises that made Erik sound like he was speaking to me from another dimension...bizarre electronic screeches, white noise, etc.
It's also difficult to transcribe this interview because it's a challenge sometimes to make out exactly what Erik is saying, so in order to really do this interview justice I should probably just upload the audio so you all can hear it for yourselves...however, since I'm pretty damn lazy that will probably never happen, so unfortunately you're going to be stuck with this for now.

Phone interview conducted on May 12, 2010.

(high-pitched weird noises start)
WULF: Alright, so I'd like to start off by saying your new album is excellent. We were lucky enough to get a digital promo copy via Season of Mist, and when we listened to it we were blown away.

ERIK: ...Blown away...

WULF: I'm sorry?

ERIK: ...Blown away...

WULF: Yeah. Um...for those who have heard the album on your end how has the reception been so far?

ERIK: They've been blown away...

WULF: They've been blown away? That's awesome. Most of the songs are very aggressive but my particular favorites are "Death's Cold Dark" and "Wolves Curse", because the atmosphere I feel is perfect. Do you have a particular song that stands out to you, or a particular favorite track on the album?


WULF: No? Um...I have a question about "Wolves Curse", there--

ERIK: (interrupting) What!?

WULF: The samples in "Wolves Curse", did you record those yourself or did you find them out a film or something?

ERIK: (inaudible)

WULF: Did you have difficulties while in the studio recording or are there any songs that you or the rest of the band had difficulty nailing down while in the studio?

ERIK: ...No. (inaudible)

WULF: I see. The uh--

ERIK: There are no (inaudible) around here, (Wulf). (inaudible)

WULF: The cover art for "Lawless Darkness" reminds me of something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story. As I understand, the art is by Zbigniew Bielak--
(shrill electronic feedback interrupts me)
Is he a personal friend of the band?

ERIK: What?!

WULF: Is the artist Zbigniew Bielak a personal friend of the band, or did he have any inspirations for his art besides your music?


WULF: I see.

ERIK: I'm sorry, will you repeat that question?

WULF: I was wondering, since I saw the cover for "Lawless Darkness"--

(more shrill feedback interrupts me)
It reminded me of something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story, so I was wondering if the artist Zbigniew Bielak--

ERIK: (interrupting, inaudible, more shrill feedback)

WULF: As I understand it, you're about to come to America to play Maryland Deathfest, and it looks like you're going to play a bunch of festivals in Europe.

ERIK: (inaudible, abrasive feedback continues)

WULF: What's all that's noise?

ERIK: (inaudible)

WULF: Your band is rehearsing?

ERIK: No. Sorry, what's the question?

WULF: OK, so my next question is, as I understand it, you guys are covered in animal blood when you perform live. I was curious, does this ever call into question any your own health's safety or anything?

ERIK: What?!

WULF: I mean, do you guys ever get sick from covering yourselves in animal blood?

ERIK: You're breaking up...

WULF: I said, do you guys ever get sick from covering yourselves in animal blood or anything? Isn't that kind of dangerous?

(screeching feedback continues for a bit)

ERIK: Wait a second (Wulf)
(feedback now stops)
...and the band is done. They're going to rehearse. Wait a second.

WULF: Are you guys in the middle of rehearsing right now?

ERIK: Always, always, always (Wulf), always.

WULF: (laughs) OK, so I was wondering, since you guys are always covered in blood when you play live, I was wondering is that dangerous or anything to your health?

ERIK: (a pause) Of course. What do you mean?

WULF: I mean, have any of you ever gotten really sick or had to go to the hospital because of it?

ERIK: No. The people that are not of the Devil get sick and go to the hospital all the time. That's fine, and how it should be.

WULF: I see.

ERIK: We like it when people go to the hospital...a lot.

WULF: (laughs) I see. You've been doing a lot of touring and have been around now for more than a decade. It's obvious that you guys have gained quite a reputation as being very prominent in the metal scene as being one of the most extreme black metal bands on Earth. So I was wondering if this will ever be captured in a live DVD of yours or anything?

ERIK: No, fuck DVD's. I mean, fuck that, you know? I mean, even fuck talking about it because I'm so fucking tired (of talking about it), like, "yeah, we're these extreme guys", yeah, so what? You know, let us be that. I don't like to talk about it, I like to be it, you know? If you please.

WULF: I understand.

ERIK: This is not some sensational shock value band, you can go to Gwar or Dark Funeral for that, you know? Fuck it. That's not what we're here for, you know?

WULF: I understand. So earlier I asked you a question and I'm not sure if you heard me or not, but it was about the "Lawless Darkness" album art because it reminds me of something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story.

ERIK: Well I gave you an answer, didn't you hear it?

WULF: I didn't hear it very well, no.

ERIK: That's because what I was trying to say can really not be put into words. I was trying to express it with feedback and noise because that's pretty much the only thing I can reasonably say about it.

WULF: So that's what that was all about earlier?

ERIK: Well, this whole interview is about Watain so that's what all the answers are about as well.

WULF: (laughs) Well, I must say it is by far the most interesting interview I've ever done. I haven't done many, but it's definitely very interesting so I think you succeeded in that.

ERIK: We succeed in everything, (Wulf). I'm just answering your questions, so you can give yourself a big fat clap on the shoulder.

WULF: Well thanks. That's pretty much all the questions I had, just right there.

ERIK: Mmm. There you have it. Now you can die a peaceful death, seeing that you've got the answer to every question in your life that you ever needed answered.

WULF: (laughs) That's true.

ERIK: I'm happy for you, (Wulf). I look forward to that day myself.

WULF: (laughs) Hopefully I'll be seeing you guys sometime when you come on tour if you ever make it out to the Midwest.

ERIK: Mmm. I'm sure we will.

WULF: I wait for you.

ERIK: When you least expect it.

WULF: (laughs) Alright, well enjoy the Maryland Deathfest and best of luck to you all on the road.

ERIK: Yeah, watch it. That's all I can say.

WULF: (laughs) Thanks. Have a wonderful (time with) the rest of rehearsing, and enjoy the rest of your day.

ERIK: Yeah.

WULF: Thanks.

ERIK: All of my love to you, (Wulf).

WULF: Thank you. All of my love to you as well.

ERIK: Bye-bye.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tales from the Grim North

Hails metalheads of the Southern Prairies! I write to you from a land far to the north, beyond the great vast forest of the Pacific Northwest and the majestic, snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. The land here is both grim and epic-- mist swirls around the forest-covered mountains, the smell of the sea is ever-present, and it is not uncommon to spot a soaring bald eagle or hear a harsh shriek of a raven or crow echo among the trees while adventuring in the wild outside of the village.

While I am here to visit my family, in order to help pay for travelling expenses I have acquired a job at a local tavern, serving the finest food and drink in town. Currently, the tavern music consists of only indie-rock and other types of musical nonsense, but I am working on changing this very soon. They believe that metal has no place in their establishment. Bah! They shall see their patronage triple (at least!) when people passing by hear the hallowed songs of glory and adventure emanating from within! By Varg Vikernes' facial scar, I will spread the gospel of metal to this town, even if it is to be the death of me!

I trust my co-DJs are continuing to provide quality aural destruction in my absence, but make no mistake...I am still in the game! Right now I am in the process of attempting to acquire some air-time up here on Sitka's community radio, so expect more news on this in the future!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Metal Nostradamus: The Shape of Metal to Come

I've never portrayed myself as a soothsayer, nor even as a Nostradamus impersonator, but I feel as though I have somewhat of a good prediction of what the next "big thing" in metal will be. That "next big thing" is going to be Post-Death Metal and I will tell you why.

For years we have been inundated with countless Death Metal (DM) bands looking to top each other in speed, brutality, and technicality. Multitudes of Cannibal Corpse clones have practically overtaken the metal globe. Needless to say, we're at a point now where the DM scene has become oversaturated with unoriginal mindlessness. Especially with the last decade lacking any real creative leaps and bounds (save for a few bands), DM definitely needs a place to go.

As a sidenote, I hate to sound so negative, because there are still some Death Metal bands of the last few years that I think are doing interesting work. Some that I have enjoyed immensely have been Obscura, Nile, Immolation, and Necrophagist (and from more than a few years ago, Gorguts...though keep reading to see and hear the new news on Gorguts). Besides Nile and Gorguts, it may be arguable that none of these bands are doing anything completely original, but they are certainly building on a an already established foundation.

In the past decade, we saw the emergence of Post-Metal (with the likes of Neurosis, Isis, and Pelican) and Post-Black metal (Wolves in the Throne Room, Altar of Plagues, and Velvet Cocoon). In the case of the former and in some ways the latter, many of their musical ideas originate with Post-Rock pioneers in the 90s. Bands like Slint, Tortoise, Mogwai were/are called Post-Rock because they completely tore apart the rulebook for Rock. These bands ignored the standard organization of the rock song and replaced it with a honed sense of dynamics, put a focus on atmospherics (sometimes over musicianship), and completely disregarded vocals (with some exceptions). The difference between Post-Rock and Post-Metal/Black Metal is that the Post-Rock pioneers were re-writing the rules whereas the Post-Metallers were just merely taking influence from these re-written rules.

Now that that history lesson is out of the way, let's take the focus back to DM. It is my forethought that DM will take a turn for the experimental, and I don't mean a new Cynic album. There are two bands I think whom are dabbling with what I might consider Post-Death Metal. These two bands are Portal and Impetuous Ritual. The fact that they currently share members may not be too surprising. Neither band has really re-written the rulebook for DM as far as I'm concerned, but they are certainly interrogating it. Each band has sort of an other worldly, lurching sound to their particular brand of Death Metal. In a sense, they create a sort of wall of sound wherein the atmospherics are more important than what is necessarily actually being played.

I think of all the sub-genres of metal, DM may one that is the most conservative musically, and by that, I mean the least willing to experiment. I can't really offer a reason for this, but I might speculate that there is simply no room for experimentation since DM is so extreme in terms of speed, brutality, and technicality. Every minute of every song is filled with 1000 brutal chromatic chord progressions at 300 BPM. There is certainly a formula and most bands stick to it (a)religiously.

What it comes down to is that DM bands have taken the sub-genre to its logical extreme in terms of the three characteristics I previously mentioned. Now is the time is ripe for DM bands to drop some acid and get a little fucking weird.

I can already hear it...a brutal slam death metal breakdown sandwiching a complete wash of downtuned improvised noise, the slow buildup of a death metal riff from near silence coupled with electronic glitches gradually interweaving in amongst themselves, and an uncomfortable black drone underneath/over a bomb blast...

Thus spake the prophet!

-Judge Dredd


Just thought you should know... >:)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview with Misha "Bulb" Mansoor of Periphery!!

Periphery Official Myspace:

Phone interview conducted on May 12, 2010.

WULF: To start off with, I know you guys have probably heard this like, a million times, but your new album is amazing. It's completely nuts.

MISHA: Oh, dude, thank you so much! I'm so glad that you like it!

WULF: I don't know if it's too much for me to say "I've never heard anything like it before" but I feel it's really unique.

MISHA: Thank you, dude.

WULF: Anyway, I'd like to know how the reception is for this new album on your end.

MISHA: You know, it's good, but I don't know...I always feel like I'm looking out for and trying to find the bad reviews because I like to torture myself. I've invested a large part of myself into this album for the last five years and I've put so much into it. I don't know, I like seeing good reviews, but I prefer honest ones. There's definitely people who dislike it or who dislike aspects of with any art form that's to be expected. Sometimes I find reviews (where) people dislike it and they say why, and it's like "alright, fair enough." But sometimes I see reviews and I'm just like, "dude, did you even listen to our album?"
And so, I'm kind of ready for it. But overall I'd say the response has actually been really good, or a lot better than I expected it to be, because I was kind of nervous.

WULF: The first time I actually ever heard about you guys before we got your CD was through MetalSucks and I guess that's kind of coincided with this album, because I've been reading about you guys there and we've got your CD, and so...anyway, I was looking at your Myspace and is it true that you guys have three guitarists in your band?

MISHA: We have three guitarists in the band, yes.

WULF: Yeah, because I saw that in the lineup and I wasn't sure if one guy was (just a touring guitarist). I was wondering (though), doesn't that ever get confusing in the studio or live? Your songs are pretty technical and crazy...

MISHA: Well, here's the way the works-- it just so happened that I wrote the grand majority of the songs on the album, I wrote all of them except for the last song, "Racecar", which I wrote with Jake (Bowen, guitar), and so when writing by myself or with Jake we just tend to write for the sake of writing good songs, and not so much thinking about how we're going to do it live, and since the beginning it's always posed a problem when we've played with two guitars for a brief period, we were always like "wow, we have to keep cutting parts out that are kind of essential", and we can't ever really get the full sound. We write with so many layers, and even with three guitarists there are a bunch of times when it's not enough and we're deleting this or integrating backing tracks because we tend to compose more when we're writing and not really thinking, like, limitations, or how we're going to do (it) live, it's like, "well, we'll figure that out later." And so that necessitated three guitars, because at least (with) three guitars we can get all the cool-looking and sounding riffs out and all the riffy-riffs out in front, and then leave the more ambient, backing track stuff for the backing tracks when we do integrate those. And now that we don't have backing tracks at least we're not compromised severely by having two guitars, so it's always been sort of a thing we have to do out of necessity from the beginning.

WULF: When you guys are playing live, I'm assuming that you've got one guy holding down the rhythm while the other two are doing harmonies and stuff, or--

MISHA: Well, we usually split it up. Having written my parts, I usually like to play a lot of the rhythm parts because they're more fun, and I play my leads. It's the same with Jake on the stuff that he's written. But when it's my stuff I like to split it up, like, everybody has lead parts, everybody has rhythm parts, everybody has clean and ambient parts. I want it to kind of seem like everybody is a lead and rhythm guitarist and split it up as evenly as possible. It's always changing, depending on the song. On one song, it may look like Jake or Alex is actually the lead guitarist of the band, and I kind of like that. And on other songs one of us will each have a lead part, for example.

WULF: So you're all doing lead guitar stuff and rhythm at some points too?

MISHA: Yeah, we're all doing everything.

WULF: That's cool man, I like that. I was surprised when I heard it too because from the way it was described to me I thought it would sound a little bit different. It's pretty aggressive stuff but also (with) both the harsh and clean singing it's also really passionate, and I think when you said "layers", that was a good word because there's a lot going on in the songs. Is there a favorite track in particular that you have for the album? I really like "The Walk", just because the guitar atmospherics are really cool, and the drums are crazy with the rhythms. Is there a particular track that you like, then?

MISHA: There is! I'm really, really proud of "Racecar", the album closer, for a few reasons. One, it's the one song that sort of encapsulates exactly our (sound). Maybe the only reason it can is because it's fifteen minutes long and can go through all the sort of moods that we go through, but also because it's the only song on the album that I wrote with someone else, and as much as I've been writing everything myself, that's not something that I plan on doing forever and I really do enjoy writing with other band members, and that's always something that we will do more of when we all have more free time.
Especially when that's the main limitation. But it was a lot of fun to write that song, and it came out just right, I think, and I'm really proud of that, so that's probably my favorite one at the moment. One thing that's interesting that I've noticed, when you were asking earlier about how (the album) has been received and all that, is one thing that makes me happy, and as subjective as music is and everything, I've definitely noticed that everybody's favorite song is a different song, which makes me really happy, personally. Because I really don't like it when one song gets more attention than the next, and I don't know, maybe it's because they're all like my babies and I want them all to be loved equally, or something. But it's like, ("Icarus Lives!") got a lot of attention, that's our single and there's a video for that, but I don't necessarily think it's our best song. I think it's very catchy and very good at grabbing people right off the bat, but it's interesting to see how, when people sit down with the album, they'll pick two or three of their favorites off the album, and it's always different, to the point where every song is someone's favorite song, which makes me very happy.

WULF: Yeah, it's not like there's just this one song and then people feel like the rest are filler.

MISHA: Like, "why did you put that on the album?! Nobody likes it!"
But (for our album), it's not just that somebody likes it but it's somebody's favorite song, which (would have) made a big difference if we had not put it on the album. That's something that makes me really happy, and I was interested in seeing what your song would be, and "The Walk" is kind of off-the-wall for me, especially because it's one of the older songs on the album, that song is so boring to me now.
It's five years old, it's naturally (that way). But I'm really happy that you like it, I really am.

WULF: Because I'm always kind of curious as to how things go on in the studio, since the last track is so long, would you say, then, that it was the most difficult track you guys had (during) recording or was there (another) track in particular that was hard to nail?

MISHA: That was definitely one of the hardest songs to write vocals for. I think "Buttersnips"...that was a very hard song to get the vocals right on, but I mean, they were all very hard. "Ow My Feelings" took a lot of work with the vocals. It was mainly the vocals because the songs themselves had already been written and tracking them went pretty fast, that didn't take too long. Writing "Racecar" was actually extremely easy and that's maybe why I like it so much, because it was the first time I wrote a full song with Jake, and we didn't know the song was going to be 15 minutes long. We were just writing riffs together. It was just ideas and ideas and ideas and ideas, and we had like three sessions three days in a row and (during) the first session we did about 6 minutes of the song, and (during) the second session I did 4 or 5 minutes by myself, and (during) the third session we wrote the last bit of the song. We just kept on having ways to bring back themes and make it cohesive, but (also) make it longer. We never (meant) to write a song that long, it's kind of crazy to have a song that long but it just sort of ended up being that way.

WULF: Yeah, sometimes some songs just (get written that way).

MISHA: That's why some songs on our album are 3 minutes long, and one is 15 because when we feel the song is done, and we're out of riffs, and we're like "yeah, we said what needs to be said," everything that can be said musically and lyrically, then we're like "alright, it's done."

WULF: That's awesome, man. Just out of curiosity, who wrote the lyrics to the album? Was it you, or was it Spencer, or--

MISHA: No, it was kind of everybody. Some were written by our second singer, Casey (Sabol), some were written by Chris (Barretto), our third singer, and some were written by Spencer. Some were written by our bassist, Tom (Murphy), who actually wrote a lot of the vocal parts. The only thing I didn't do was the vocals. Those were produced and engineered by Spencer's friend, Matt. There's a real sort of amalgamation of all these ideas and efforts that hopefully came out somewhat cohesively...I think it did.

WULF: Yeah, it's great, man. So you guys are about to go to Australia, and did you say that it was tonight that you were leaving or tomorrow?

MISHA: No, we're leaving tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon.

WULF: Wow, that's crazy, man! I'm assuming that you guys have not been to Australia before, like, to play.

MISHA: No, we've never really left the country other than Canada, as far as (together as) a band. I've been to Australia in the past but (have) never gone there to tour or anything like that.

WULF: Well, I just want to say congratulations on that. Also, I've heard that Australia, especially for the metal scene or the extreme music scene, can be kind of crazy. Speaking of touring in the United States, what city would you say has been the craziest, as far as craziest Periphery fans?

MISHA: Honestly, Canada's been really good to us. That's why I'm kind of excited about Australia because I've heard that their fans are kind of crazy like that because they feel like they don't get American bands that often, and Australian fans are even more so desperate (than Canadian fans) for those bands. But I'm expecting the crowds to be kind of crazy there too. But yeah, Toronto and Montreal have been pretty cool. In Oshawa, Ontario, we played this, tiny, tiny venue, but kids were going crazy there! And L.A. is always great to us. California in general is really good to us. I don't know, usually we do better in major markets. I'm trying to memory is so bad. I do remember the Canadian shows being particularly intense, and the fans are intense there. They're really into the bands, I like it. And all of my friends who have toured in Australia talk about how great fans in Australia are. I really can't wait to go down there and meet them.

WULF: Yeah, I'm sure you guys are really pumped. You guys are going with Dillinger Escape Plan, have you talked to them yet? I don't know if they've been down to Australia yet, but if they have, have have they said anything about it?

MISHA: I'm sure they've been to Australia before. Dillinger has been one of my favorite bands in the world forever, so on a personal level that's kind of one of my bucket list items, right there, that I can check off. It's kind of a dream come true, I can't really believe that it's happening, it's like too much. I've just sort of resigned myself to not thinking about it. But yeah, it's going to be crazy. I'm just so honored to be able (to go on tour with them), it's going to be fun to see them every night. Maylene and the Sons of Disaster is also on this tour. I haven't really checked them out but I heard their music at some point and I really dug it, and I knew I really dug it because I didn't know who it was and I was like, "whoa! Who is this?" And (my bandmates) were like, "that's the band we're going to be touring with!" And I'm like, "Oh, that's great!"

WULF: Yeah, it's really rockin' stuff. But yeah, we've been fans of Dillinger for a while and so I'm pretty jealous. I'm not even in a band but it's still pretty cool.
But OK, my last question is a question I always like to ask bands-- who would you say, as far as tours that you've done, is the craziest band that you've ever toured with?

MISHA: Craziest? Like in what sense?

WULF: Craziest, like, maybe not necessarily onstage, but like behind the scenes. Like, wild dudes or just really wacky or whatever.

MISHA: know what? I think I might have to disappoint you with that because all the bands that we've toured with have been pretty chill, man. I think for the most part, maybe it's the kind of music we play or the kind of tours that we go on, but we've just had the best luck, we end up loving all the bands that we go on tour with.

WULF: No crazy black metal bands or anything?

MISHA: No! They're all chill, really easy-going dudes, so it's like...they might party, but even when they party it's kind of in a chill way and they have a good time and don't go "rock-'n'-roll crazy". And plus, I don't know, maybe it's because we're a little bit older, we're all like (in our mid-20's), but for me personally, partying and going crazy kind of lost its charm a few years ago. So now I just kind of like to take it easy and have a good time, or just like, sleep and relax.
So I'm sorry to disappoint, but maybe it's just my bad memory.

WULF: Well you keep on talking about your bad memory and I was thinking maybe it was due to other things or something!

MISHA: No, it's my bad memory...or maybe we had such a crazy with some band that I forgot it all, drank it away.
But honestly, most of the bands that we tour with, a fair bit of them smoke a lot of weed, and if you smoke weed you're kind of chill, you're not really going nuts. So maybe we need to tour with some bands that do a lot of coke or something, then we can get some crazy stories.
No, but we've just been really lucky in that sense because we like bands that are chill, like us, so we've always had the best time on tour with all the bands, we got along great with everyone, and maybe that doesn't make for crazy stories but (we've made) good friendships and had good times.

WULF: Yeah, I didn't necessarily need to hear any crazy stories or anything, so that's a totally valid answer too, because it's just a little more relaxed and the stereotype on the road is that it can be crazy or whatever, so this is cool too. It's a little different.

MISHA: Well I'm sure it can (get a little crazy), but I mean, you gotta remember, we're a bunch of dorky musicians who play progressive metal, we're not rock 'n' roll, man.
We're not sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. I mean, even if we wanted to be, it just wouldn't be there. You could just come to our show and ask us about our gear and we love it. That's kind of our scene, that's kind of what it's always been and kind of what I'm expecting it to be, but if shit goes on I'm down to see it! But I'm happy with whatever I can get.

WULF: Well, that's cool too, man. Anyway, that's all the questions I've got for you, so I just want to end by saying thanks for taking the time to talk to me--

MISHA: Thank you for interviewing us, man! We really appreciate it.