Friday, April 23, 2010

WULF'S Ten Favorite Metal Albums of All Time

I really can't make a "Top Ten" list because it's just too damn hard! I had a difficult time as it was coming up with this list...

Also, I noticed when writing this post that most of the albums that are my favorite aren't necessarily the best album of a given band, but they mean more to me than the alleged "classics". You'll see what I mean in my post. Also, I noticed that my favorite albums were indeed the ones with the highest "nostalgia value" for me...classics that got me into metal in the first place. While there's no "Painkiller" or "Rust in Peace", the following albums are absolute classics in my mind, which, I believe, is kind of the point Judge Dredd was trying to make in organizing us to do these posts in the first place.

So here we go! In no particular order...

Enthrone Darkness Triumphant
- Dimmu Borgir

What a killer album! I know this sounds kind of pathetic and sad, but one of the best memories in my life was when I was like 16 and I had gotten really stoned, and I was listening to this CD on my headphones and drawing Dungeons and Dragons maps on graph paper in my room...I hate to say it, but it was some of the most fun I've ever had in my life. This was probably the first real metal band I ever checked out (back when they were still semi-underground circa 2001), and it was this album that proved to me that metal was the best music in the world. Yeah, "EDT" is incredibly cheesy, but at 16 I totally ate this shit up. I never got into the whole Satanism thing myself, but I was relatively fanatical when it came to this band...being pretty cheap, I never actually bought this album, but I did download every Dimmu Borgir song and video that I could find on Kazaa (yup, fucking KAZAA!). I guess I just really dug their sound, especially Stian Aarstad's haunting keyboard lines, the beautiful yet aggressive melodies, the frantic drumming, awesome song titles like "A Succubus in Rapture"...I could go on and on.

Still Life - Opeth

I had a tough time choosing between this album and Orchid, but I decided to choose Still Life. While I think it's definitely not their best album, I love it the most for a number of reasons. For one, it's the first album I ever heard of theirs. I remember first hearing them at a buddy's house when I was about 15 or so...we were taking a break from playing Dungeons and Dragons (haha it's seriously not all I did in high school, I swear) and my buddy Tony handed me some headphones and was like, "Dude...listen to this shit." Tony had been pretty influential in getting me into metal, being one of a few friends to introduce me to the likes of In Flames, Emperor, and Dream Theater, and so at this point he knew Opeth would blow my dick off, which they did. I remember for my 16th birthday making my parents take me to Kansas City to see Brotherhood of the Wolf (I don't remember why it was just my parents and me, maybe it was a school night or something) as it wasn't playing in Lawrence, and since my mom had also special-ordered me this CD from Hastings for my birthday I listened to the whole thing on the way to the movie and on the way back just went so well the movie too, the medieval atmosphere, the beautiful acoustic passages, the rage in Mikael Åkerfeldt's harsh vocals, and the cool lyrics that went along with the album's storyline. At the time I had never heard anything like Still Life, and Opeth continues to be one of my favorite metal bands.

Whoracle - In Flames

The first metal show I ever went to was at the Bottleneck in Lawrence with In Flames, Killswitch Engage, Sentenced, and Dark Tranquillity. What's funny is that I remember being overall pretty disappointed with In Flames' performance...even though I was 16 I could still tell when a band just wasn't putting forth much effort in their stage performance...I'm pretty sure the band was moderately trashed and probably burned out on touring, whereas Killswitch Engage really opened my eyes as to what an American metal band was capable of (of course, this was in 2002 when they were still relatively underground). In Flames had also just farted out Reroute to Remain and Anders had decided it would be a great idea to get dreadlocks, and so clearly the band was on the decline anyway but I was still expecting to see a quality performance that equally matched the quality shit that I was hearing on their albums, Whoracle being my favorite. When I first heard this album, I had never heard anything like it...MELODIC death metal?! The genre has become pretty lame nowadays, but in the early 2000s this shit was essential, and I would make the argument that it completely revived and rejuvenated the dying underground metal scene...for better or for worse. To me, this album had pretty much what I was looking for in a metal band-- memorable, passionate melodies, an aggressive atmosphere, cryptic lyrics...this baby's got it! Also, the instrumental title track goes great with Dungeons and Dragons! I remember one time we must have listened to that song like 30 times in a row when it was the background music to a boss fight during one of our games. Good shit!

Terria - Devin Townsend

This is one of my favorite metal albums of all time because it's one of the most beautiful, but also terrifying albums I've ever heard. I know that's a pretty melodramatic statement to make, but if you haven't heard this album it's difficult for me to describe in would be as if someone were to try to explain what being on psychedelic mushrooms is like or something. Speaking of which, this album is pretty out there...Devin Townsend has definitely done his fair share of crazy drugs, and this album is clearly a product of those experiences. On the one hand, some of the songs are really calm and introspective, like "Down and Under", whereas on the other hand some of the songs are absolutely demented, like "Earth Day" and "Olives". Gene Hoglan's drumming is top-notch as always, Devin Townsend's reverb-drenched guitar playing creates some truly rich, almost "otherworldly" atmospherics. While I don't feel like I completely connect with all of the songs on this album, I still find Terria to be somewhat of a personal album for me in terms of the lyrics and the overall listening experience.

The Bleeding
- Cannibal Corpse

Originally, I had "Follow the Reaper" by Children of Bodom on here, but decided to change it to Cannibal Corpse. Anyway, The Bleeding is one of my favorite death metal albums of all time because not only does it have two of my favorite death metal songs ever, "Staring Through the Eyes of the Dead" and "Stripped, Raped, and Strangled", but also it's because of this album that led me to really dig groovy, brutal death metal...especially slam death metal like Devourment and Cemetery Rapist (thank you Metal Inquisition!). I enjoy pretty much all of Cannibal Corpse's releases, but it's this one that sticks out to me the most. While I'm kind of undecided on the whole Chris Barnes vs. Corpsegrinder debate, I feel like this is probably Chris Barnes' best performance. While it's not the most technical or brutal death metal release out there, it's my favorite.

Kings of Metal
- Manowar

Honestly, what is there to say about Manowar that hasn't already been said? While I love almost every Manowar album, this one is my favorite of theirs and one of my favorite metal albums ever. Essentially, it's the ultimate metal album-- it's ridiculously epic, unashamedly cheesy, misogynistic, idiotic, and a hell of a lot of fun. Lyrically, they've got everything covered as well! Epic battles, motorcycles, sex slaves, violence, poser-disposing, it's all here folks! Hell, there's even a cover of "Flight of the Bumblebee"...performed on the bass guitar. WHY!?
Absolutely essential. I can't believe there are people out there who claim to like metal but aren't Manowar fans. Give me a fucking break.

Dusk and Her Embrace - Cradle of Filth

I really, REALLY hate to admit it, but I love this album. I'm not the hugest Cradle of Filth fan, but holy shit does this album rule! Yeah, Dani Filth's vocals can get annoying at times, and Nicholas Barker's drums sound laughably weak, but still, this album is an undeniable classic and one of my favorites. I really didn't want to put this album on here because Cradle of Filth come with so much baggage and the band has some of the most irritating fans in the underground metal scene, but if I didn't include it on here this list wouldn't be complete. Also, since I'm laying all my cards on the table, I might as well come out and admit that Dani Filth's lyrics are pretty fucking cool on this album. While he's known for being one of the scene's better lyricists, I feel like it's with this album that Filth is at his Lovecraftian best. While it would be too much to say that he's a modern-day Edgar Allen Poe, check out this album to see what I mean. Besides cool lyrics, for their time Cradle of Filth were actually pretty ballsy to put out albums like this...their flamboyant, "gothic" approach to black metal pissed off a lot of the kvlt elitists. While I may get shit for this, I'm proud to say that I'm a big fan of this and other early Cradle of Filth material.

- Moonsorrow

When I first heard this album I just about shit my pants. I had never heard metal so epic, majestic, and adventurous before. While Emperor also could definitely fit this criteria, the thing that got me with Moonsorrow was that it wasn't "evil-sounding"...dark, maybe, but clearly these guys were singing about forests and barbarians, not Satan and cosmic chaos like Emperor and the other black metal bands during this time. That was another thing, also...Moonsorrow aren't a black metal band, so when I heard it I wasn't sure how to describe it. It certainly wasn't black metal or power metal, and yet it seemed to almost fuse those two genres together into something that was incredibly atmospheric, epic, and grandiose, without coming off as too cheesy or goofy. Nowadays, these Epic Viking/Folk Metal bands are everywhere, but when I first heard this album in 2004 I knew that this style was going to be explode and I couldn't wait!

Prowler in the Yard - Pig Destroyer

Originally, I was going to put Blood on Ice by Bathory on here but I decided to replace it with this album. While grindcore isn't my favorite genre of metal, when it's done right it can be absolutely killer and that's how I feel about Prowler in the Yard. The first time I ever read about this album was in Ill Literature, the first metal magazine I ever was the last issue too. I remember staying up all night pouring over the articles and circling all the reviews of albums that I thought sounded cool. It was by doing this that I found out about Agalloch, Ancient Rites, Katatonia, Marduk, and, of course, Pig Destroyer. At first Prowler in the Yard didn't really sound like my style...back then, if it didn't have atmospheric keyboards or wasn't about wizards or some shit I wouldn't bother to check it out. Also, I couldn't figure out why the band didn't have a bassist! Anyway, when I finally got around to checking this album out I realized the error of my ways. Yeah, I was impressed by the frantic drumming and J.R. Hayes' howling vocals, but what really got me were the lyrics. As a high school kid I was pretty blown away...he was singing about some pretty intense, nightmarish shit. I thought the storyline was pretty cool too, and I loved going on Darklyrics and analyzing the lyrics. With the creepy storyline, dark atmosphere, and some of the most intense grind I've ever heard, this album is definitely one of my all time favorites.

Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk
- Emperor

I hate to copy off Judge Dredd, but I'd be lying if I said this wasn't one of my favorite metal albums of all time. I'm not going to say much about this album just because I feel like Judge Dredd put it pretty well in the previous post. If you want insane, majestic, intense symphonic black metal, this is the ultimate album. On a side note, Emperor is probably my favorite metal band name of all time, so it's cool that they happen to also be one of my favorite metal bands.

So there you have it! Since Judge Dredd listed his top ten favorite metal albums of 2009, I think I'll do the same!
In no particular order:

"Cosmogenesis" - Obscura
"The Voice of Steel" - Nokturnal Mortum
"Crack the Skye" - Mastodon
"Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With the Stars" - Blut Aus Nord
"S/T" - Amesoeurs
"Ballade cuntre lo Anemi Francor" - Peste Noire
"Tormentizer" - Torment
"Goi, Rode, Goi!" - Arkona
"Across the Dark" - Insomnium
"Privilegivm" - Secrets of the Moon


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Judge Dredd's Top 10 Metal Albums of All Time

I think a good way to introduce ourselves and establish all of our specific tastes in metal by providing the list of our top 10 favorite metal albums of all time and the reasons behind the choices. Although I will always be a metal fan, there are a comparatively small number of bands and albums that I thoroughly enjoy, thus, my namesake. I've found that bands that have an overall distinct and interesting sound (particularly with the guitar work) generally win my blackened heart. I also have a very liberal opinion on what should and should not be considered "metal". Without further ado, here is my top 10 in no particular order:

Master of Puppets, Metallica The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
This was the first real metal album I got into when I was about twelve years old. I didn't listen to anything else for months. I still think that this album is comprised of some of the best musicianship and compositional work of any metal album to date. If you haven't heard this album, you don't listen to metal. Despite Metallica's on and off again relationship with the metal brethren, this is an undeniable classic.

Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, EmperorThe image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
While most Black Metal albums at the time were focused on atmospheric grimness, Emperor was all about atmospheric majesty. For me this album represents the ultimate in Second Wave Black Metal atmospherics and musicianship. Simply put, "Anthems..." was a dark spiritual journey in which you were just as involved in the story as the character that Ihsahn seems to be speaking through. In my eyes, this album completely left all Second Wave Black Metal in the dust and it STILL kicks most bands' asses all over the place to this very day.

Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire and Demise, EmperorThe image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
What a mind fuck of an album. The jazz inflections are more off the wall, the compositions more layered and complex, but somehow, the songs were more succinct. Only Emperor could pull off a stunt like this, and still be highly respected by 90% of the metal community. Some say they were at their most pretentious with this album, but I think they were simply at their most adventurous. An excellent swan song.

Black Seeds of Vengeance, NileThe image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
At the time I don't think I had heard anything so technically ravaging as "Black Seeds...". Like "Master of Puppets", everything else failed in comparison to me for a couple of months. Hell, I even heard "Human" and "Operation: Mindcrime" for the first times around the time I heard "Black Seeds..."and those two albums just collected dust for a while. I love albums where each song retains a unique overall structure, and this is definitely one of them. I haven't really kept up with Nile, but I think this will forever be their masterpiece. (And fuck you to everyone, because I LOVED "In Their Darkened Shrines")

City, Strapping Young LadThe image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
From the packaging, to the music and lyrics, this album is all about human life being inundated with a globalized and technological world-and the paranoia and existentialism associated with it. I consider this album the sine qua non of Industrial Metal (eat your heart out, Fear Factory). Features the Mastermind Metal Mad Scientist, Hevy Devy, at his most profound and most cathartic, destroying all others in his path. It was as if Devin was saying, "Hello, modernized world, and behold your waste."

Focus, CynicThe image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
"The future is now!" proclaimed Cynic! one listened. Somewhere on Youtube, one can view performances of Cynic from the early 90s opening up for Cannibal Corpse and hear the crowd booing them. Needless to say, Cynic wasn't the most popular Death Metal band at that time. Way ahead of their time, they incorporated elements of jazz fusion, King Crimson-like polyrhythms, and...a robotic voice all under the guise of Death Metal. Misunderstood by most, Cynic's "Focus" is the black sheep of the early 90s American Death Metal scene, and still one of my favorite albums after first hearing it 10 years ago.

The Inalienable Dreamless, Discordance Axis The Inalienable Dreamless cover (Click to see larger picture)
I know it's been said before, but to me, this was and is grind perfection. They never sounded like any grind band in existence. Jon Chang's lyrics were abstract, introspective, and brilliantly literate. Rob Marton's guitar playing had a huge impact on me for a period of time. It was twisted and angular with definite comparisons to Voivod, but it did have a great off-kilter and endearing sense of melody to it. Additionally I feel almost every song was really distinct from the next, which is pretty remarkable considering not many grind bands can ever accomplish that. Finally, all I have to say is, "Motherfuckin' Dave Witte!"

My Arms, Your Hearse, OpethThe image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
If ever a band captured the notions of Romantic Literature (Poe, Shelley, Rimbaud, et al.) so genuinely and perfectly, it was Opeth with "My Arms, Your Hearse". Told from the point of view of a man who dies, becomes a ghost, and haunts his lover with great suspicion, "MAYH" captured the dark emotions of loss and despair that those long dead authors played with. What really did me in were the acoustic passages. Not only were Akerfeldt's acoustic licks top notch for a metal guitarist, but he was able to switch from one of the most demonic Death Metal growls known to man, to one of the sweetest singing voices (like honey, I tell ya). An excellent narrative with some of my favorite lyrics, songs, and musicianship, "MAYH" will make you cry.

Calculating Infinity, The Dillinger Escape Plan
Being the fan of Noisecore that I am, this is the album I hold all others against. While many extreme music bands adopt an arbitrarily aggressive sound, there was something very pure and unadulterated about DEP's particular brand of aggression on "Calculating Infinity". I mean, I literally thought these guys should be institutionalized. What really got me at the time were all the jazz breaks, and it they weren't just thrown in for good measure, they ACTUALLY fit into the song. Furthermore, there are some down right CATCHY parts throughout the maelstrom of dissonant and dizzying mathematical genius. Some people argue that, at its most basic level, metal represents the conflict between chaos and order, and there may be no better example than "Calculating Infinity".

Oceanic, IsisThe image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Of the albums on my list, I don't think any is more aptly named than "Oceanic". To me, this is the album where Isis really broke out of their Neurosis-loving shell. Appropriately named, because at times, it really did feel like waves pummeling against you. It was and still is that heavy today. Not only musically, but emotionally as well. What I also really loved about this album, is how organic it sounded. Most metal bands have such a central focus on being "brutal" or "technical" that they lose focus of the fact that each instrument is working towards a common goal of expressing one musical entity. For lack of a better phrase, Isis came together to ebb and flow like the ocean on this album.

Just for shits and giggles, here are my top 10 metal albums from '09:

Houses of the Unholy, Church of Misery
The Voice of Steel, Nokturnal Mortum
Crack the Skye, Mastodon
Blue Record, Baroness
Cosmogenesis, Obscura
OX, Coalesce
All Shall Fall, Immortal
Black Cascade, Wolves in the Throne Room
s/t, Amesoeurs
Ballade cuntre lo Anemi francor, Peste Noire

s/t, Absu
Evangelion, Behemoth
Memoria Vetusta II: Dialogue With the Stars, Blut Aus Nord

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Interview with David White of Heathen!!

NO, this isn't an interview with the dude from Disturbed!! He's David White, vocalist for the newly-reformed, legendary Bay Area thrash band Heathen! David was nice enough to take time out of his day to catch up with us on what's been going on as of late with the band.
I should also preface this interview with a bit on Heathen's back story up until now: Basically, the band broke up in 1993 after putting out two very well-received albums ("Breaking the Silence" in 1987 and "Victims of Deception" in 1991), but decided to briefly reform for a one-off appearance at The Thrash of the Titans concert, a benefit concert for Chuck Billy (Testament) who was battling cancer at the time. Presumably, this reunion went over really well, and the band decided to officially reform, release some older previously-unfinished material, tour, and release a brand new album called "The Evolution of Chaos." If you like thrash you should check it out, you definitely won't be disappointed!

This phone interview was taken on April 2, 2010.

WULF: So I'm pretty ashamed to admit this, but (although) I'm pretty young, relatively speaking, I've been a metal maniac for years and I still had never checked out you guys until I got your CD in the mail for my radio show, and granted, I'm not that old, but I'm still pretty embarrassed (that I've never checked you guys out) given the band's history. You're probably sick of talking about this, but what was it like jamming with your former bandmates when the band reformed? Had you kept in contact with the others during the split?

DAVID: For the most part we all kept in touch. We hadn't seen Yaz (Mike "Yaz" Jastremski), our bass player, in awhile. And he was actually out there working pretty hard, so when we were offered to the Thrash of the Titans show and were trying to get the band back together to do that we tried to get ahold of Yaz. He seemed to be (inaudible) into it but was drinking pretty heavily at that time. But Lee (Altus, guitar) and I kept in pretty good contact, and then Ira Black (guitar) who was in the band when we split back in '93 was playing with Vicious Rumors at the time so we had called him to see if he wanted to do it because we had just planned on doing the Thrash of the Titans show (just) as like a one off thing. We didn't know that we were going to continue. We were just trying to do a good thing for a friend.

WULF: So what was it like jamming with the former bandmates again and preparing for the show?

DAVID: It was like riding a bike.

WULF: Oh really?

DAVID: Yeah, pretty much. Yaz was pretty out of practice (though).

WULF: Everything just kind of fell back into place then?

DAVID: Yeah, totally.

WULF: That's awesome, man. OK, so onto the new album-- it's killer, I was blown away. I didn't realize that the band was pretty legendary stuff, I looked you guys up on the internet and was like "oh my gosh!" I this album will make a lot of critics' and magazines' top albums-of-the-year lists. I have a tough time choosing which song is my favorite, but I really love "Controlled by Chaos," and "No Stone Unturned." How has the reception been so far for "The Evolution of Chaos" on your end?

DAVID: It's been really, really good as far as press and different people that I've talked to. We're getting ready to go on tour at the end of this month and we'll really see the impact on how it (goes over with the fans), with the whole dynamic with the free downloading with people going to those sites where they can just take the music for free definitely has chopped our record sales in half, you know?

WULF: Right, right. It's definitely a plague, I would say, as far as (negatively affecting) sales. (As for the reception on my end) from what I've played on my show, people have liked it a lot. Anyway, which would you say is your personal favorite track on the album, or which track do you feel at least turned out the best?

DAVID: Well, I have two favorites. "No Stone Unturned" is my probably my most favorite, and then I also like "Fade Away". I think all the songs are killer. I'm really happy with everything. I think because there's so much going on, and there are so many different aspects to the songs, I'm pretty pleased.

WULF: Yeah, it's really epic. With the whole album, I was like "holy shit!" Was there a track that you would say was more difficult or challenging than the others? I would guess "No Stone Unturned" just because it's 11 minutes long, but what do you think?

DAVID: Hmmm...that's a good question. Actually, I think "Controlled by Chaos" was one of the difficult ones. Kragen (Lum, guitar), actually (wrote) the music and lyrics for that song...but I wasn't real sure about this (certain) melody, or how the lyrics went with the music and we laid that down and went over it but it wasn't really there, and then it was a matter of, "OK...? Uhhhhh...", you know?
And so I thought, "well, you know what? I need to redo it. I need to rewrite it." And so right in the middle of recording I had to take it home and do homework, and (then) bring it back and throw ideas out (as to how it should be recorded) and move it around. And now it's so fresh that I still listen to it today and wonder how it sounds.
You know what I mean? Because it's just one of those songs that it feels so new that you have your doubts, like "is this good? Where we did that, was that cool?"
So it's been really nice because a lot of people really like that song, and so I'm so happy that I rewrote it because I think that it's better than it was.

WULF: Right. Yeah, it's one of my favorite songs on the album. I know that it's probably hard because I know musicians who find it really hard to look at their work objectively, especially when you record you do stuff over and over again, and so that's really interesting. Anyway, you mentioned the lyrics...I was wondering, I wasn't sure who wrote the lyrics. I'm assuming that you wrote the lyrics but I was wondering about that. Who wrote the lyrics? Also, I don't want to ask like, "what's the whole album mean?" sort of thing, because I think it's up to the listener to interpret (the songs), but I wanted to know if you would say if it's correct that the record is a concept album?

DAVID: Well I write pretty much most of the lyrics on all the records but I'm always open for help and if people have ideas and everything like that then that's fine with me. Generally, everyone else is working on the music and they're writing that kind of stuff, but Kragen wrote three songs for the record and he wrote lyrics for two (songs), and he's the one who wrote lyrics to "Undone", which I liked the lyrics to and I think the melody he wrote was really cool, so we definitely stuck with that. I worked with him a little bit in the studio (on it), but it was definitely a strong song. But everything except for "Undone" I wrote, and (for) "Bloodkult", Jon Torres, our bass player, wrote the music for that, and he wrote lyrics because he had an idea and then Kragen tried to rewrite them and he needed some help. I took the basic idea for the chorus on "Bloodkvlt" and then I rewrote the whole song. We combined their ideas and mine so it made sense. But the other question was "is it a concept record?" You know, I don't think it was set out to be, but I think there's definitely a concept there, there's definitely a soul because all the songs tie together in one way or another so it just sort of ended up (that way). It wasn't our intention.

WULF: I see. Because (I got that impression while) reading the lyrics and looking at the album art, which I would describe as fantastically depressing.
But it's really cool. I actually live with my parents right now while I'm going to school, and my mom saw the album cover and was like "that's pretty depressing."
And I was like, "yeah, but it's also kind of awesome, too."

DAVID: For the first couple albums I had a vision for the covers and have been able to relate that to (inaudible), but for this one I just really didn't have one, and actually it was Kragen who came up with the title of the record from taking all the lyrics that I wrote. So we sent Travis Smith the artist some tracks and sent him all the lyrics, so that's what happened. That's what turned out. And it was kind of like "well...OK...?"
We were all blown away, we were like, "wow! That works!"

WULF: I'm pretty into post-apocalyptic shit and ruined cities and the evolution of man falling off (the thing), it was just really cool. But anyway, according to your Myspace you're about to go on tour in Europe. You guys have obviously been around for awhile, not including when you guys were on hiatus, but I was wondering if you guys have ever toured or played in Europe before, and where would you say is your favorite place to play in Europe, or America or anywhere? Who has the craziest fans?

DAVID: (laughs) Well we've been to Europe several times. We just went to Japan for the first time back in September. But in Europe I think the craziest fans were in Glasgow, Scotland--

WULF: (laughs) Really?

DAVID: Yeah, they were just unbelievable. And then in Barcelona, Spain, the fans were crazy. And then in Germany, Hamburg was really good but it was Berlin (that was really crazy). The first time we played there, there was this club and it was a three-story building, and they had the metal club downstairs and it held about 3000 people and it had like a jazz club on the second floor and a disco club up on the top floor.

WULF: (laughs) That's really weird! That's awesome though.

DAVID: Yeah, but everyone comes in the same door!

WULF: Oh, cool! So it's kind of a melting pot there, initially.

DAVID: Yeah, but they all go to their respective places, wherever their interest is. We were playing with Sepultura and we always had a barricade, and that this show we didn't and it was a low stage, and it was very much like (the kind of place) where kids were flying off the stage and stage-diving and the whole bit.

WULF: I know that it might be kind of annoying for (bands when) kids are running around on stage but I prefer the lower stage and stuff like that just because generally it makes the show more crazy.

DAVID: I don't get annoyed by it at all, just as long as (they don't interfere with the music). Guitar players get annoyed if like their pedal board gets stepped on a chord gets pulled out or something like that but other than that we just feed off of it, we love it.

WULF: Well, especially for like, thrash, you know? That kind of crazy show definitely makes the show awesome. So anyway, just a couple more questions because I know you're probably really busy, but are there any plans for a US tour coming up?

DAVID: Well, we're trying right now. We're trying to put something together, we're just trying to get everybody's of our guitar players actually plays in Exodus, and they've been pretty busy, I think he just got home from being out on the Megadeth tour. (inaudible) We're also going to shoot the band portion for our video for "Dying Season", and that will be the first time that we've gotten together (since making the new album), and then we're gonna rehearse on Sunday for this European tour, and we're looking for a good supporting role for a tour in the States. So we just want to be strategic...we definitely want to get out and play in the stages, but we want to make sure that we have a strong presence here, you know?

WULF: Yeah, definitely. I think it's going to be awesome. A lot of bands don't make it through the Kansas City area. Bands come through here sometimes but it's not like Chicago or something like that. Any chance you get if you want to come through here, that would be awesome.

DAVID: Well that would be great, but there's got to be enough kids, a place to play, and the kids gotta support when the bands come around.

WULF: I know a lot of times it's not up to the bands anyway about where they're going and stuff.

DAVID: Yeah, the booking agencies and stuff they're looking at spots where the clubs are saying, "yeah, we want to have Heathen here, and we want to make sure that they make enough money to come through and if we do have a fan base and if kids will want to come.

WULF: Definitely, man. OK, so my last question is has there been any plans to record another album or a DVD or anything like that?

DAVID: Well (with) the DVD stuff, we've got a whole bunch of stuff and we're trying to put all that together, but we have a multi-album deal so there will definitely be another Heathen record, but right now we're just concentrating on pushing (the new album) as much as possible and everybody's sort of riding the calm right now.

WULF: OK! I was really blown away by this new album, I can't wait to check out the older albums! Well that's all the questions I have, Dave, thanks so much for talking to me, it's been an honor and a great interview, so thank you.

DAVID: Cool, thanks (Wulf)!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Interview with Jesse Leach of The Empire Shall Fall!!

This phone interview was conducted on April 1st, 2010.

The Empire Shall Fall Official Myspace:

This was a cool interview, as Jesse was a really nice guy and seemed genuinely enthused about me liking his new band. The interview went really well, Jesse was very talkative (as you can tell in his responses to my questions) but at times it was kind of a challenge to try and figure out what he was saying as I typed this up. Oh, and I also don't know why I had told him I'd seen Valient Thorr live twice...I've only seen them once.

WULF: I'd like to start off (by saying) I'm very, very impressed with this new album. Before preparing for this interview, I (still) hadn't heard Seemless...I had heard OF (them) obviously, but for some reason I was expecting for the Empire Shall Fall to (be) just straight-up metalcore or hardcore, and so needless to say I was really surprised when I heard this album just because I'm most familiar with your work on "Alive or Just Breathing". Anyway, how has the reception been so far on your end?

JESSE: It's been great, man. I think some people are a little surprised, other people just sort of expected it from me, which is really sweet of them, but overall the press has been great and people are really digging it which is pretty (good) for an independent band, for sure.

WULF: That's awesome man! Like I said before, I really enjoyed this new album. Everything from the kind of ethereal sound on "Awaken" to the sludgy ending on "Lords of War". I just really enjoyed (the whole album). How would you describe the recording process for this album?

JESSE: (laughs) The recording process was tedious. We did everything ourselves. We did the drums in a professional studio (because) you can't really do drums on your own (inaudible), but other than that it was done between different people's houses and I had to travel (inaudible) to do vocals, so it just took a long time to come together because you know, we're funding it on our own and (inaudible) but (with) the end results, we all sat back and were like "this is crazy, we accomplished what we set out to do". It's a great feeling. As far as the creative flow, I would go into the studio and do a couple of takes and that was it, and on other days I would spend a good three or four hours just looking at the takes trying to get the best one.

WULF: Oh, wow! That kind of leads into my next sub-question-- what would you say is your favorite track on the album, or which do you feel at least turned out the best in your opinion?

JESSE: Yeah, that's a tough question. I think that they're all cool to play and they're all important but if I were to choose one...probably "Our Own" which is the second-to-last track on the record. For me it just shows a little more diversity and I think it hints at the direction we may be heading. Just for me I love brutal music, I love when it's heavy, but there's got to be an underlying melody to it to kind of like...catch you, and I think "Our Own" does it really well. It's really heavy but there's melody all over the place and we mix indie rock, punk with metal, hardcore, and even (we've even got) some ambient thing going on if you listen to the guitar work and vocals. I think that song and "Awaken", the first track off the record, are really sort of the direction we're heading in.

WULF: Well since you were talking about taking a few hours to try and get the right take for some song, what would you say then was the track you had the most difficulty with recording, or the most challenging?

JESSE: Hmmm...let me think. Probably "We the People" because it's such a long song and there's different kinds of vocals on it, and I really wanted to make sure that the vocals were coming out a certain way. For those people who don't know, if you read the lyrics it's a very political song but I've actually based it on a few historical events which will remain nameless because I really like for people to interpret lyrics on their own. The song is meant to be metaphorical, just literal so I think that one lyrically and vocally are the hardest just because I was trying to achieve like almost a Bob Dylan-style of writing. I think I may have gotten a little too literal in that song, (inaudible) but it was a tough track for me.

WULF: Lyrically I can definitely where you're coming from, for sure. But anyway, when I was doing some research for this interview when I was preparing the questions, I saw that on your Myspace and on Wikipedia it says that the band originates from Boston, but also Rhode Island--

JESSE: And New York.

WULF: Where would you say (the band is from)? Like, all those places? If the band had to have (a definitive origin), what city would you say, or was it just all over the map?

JESSE: Definitely Providence, Rhode Island was where the band started and where most of the original members were from, but we have since added a guitar player and switched a drummer...but everyone originally is from Providence, Rhode Island, as far as core location where we started.

WULF: Yeah, it's kind of a technical question but I was just curious.

JESSE: Yeah, our guitarist now lives in Virginia, so it's even more crazy. We're everywhere!

WULF: Well thank God for the internet!

JESSE: Yeah! Thank God for Gmail!

WULF: OK, so I know you must get asked this all the time about your voice, but when I was listening to this album, it's pretty obvious, but I noticed that you do some pretty crazy vocal style change-ups-- the clean singing, low death metal growls..."Voices Forming Weapons" comes to mind, especially (with those styles), so how do you keep your voice in such good shape so that you can do it night after night on tour?

JESSE: Well, I mean, that's definitely something from years of doing this, but I think the biggest thing for me was back in my Killswitch days. I didn't have a really good handle on my voice...the emotion was there and people were digging it, but the technique was lacking severely and I'd go hoarse after three or four shows. For me it was sort of a matter of stepping back, studying the voice a little bit on my own, trying out different things, and I would say honestly the breaking point where I really started to feel like I had figured my voice out was two years ago recording with my buddy Adam from Killswitch Engage...we recorded a record together tentatively called The Times of Grace, and we just spent a lot of time in the studio doing five, six, seven hours sessions nonstop. He really taught me a lot about my voice...the guy's a genius and he really helped me along with where to put my voice. So that's definitely the kickoff, and then just playing a bunch of shows with The Empire Shall Fall really helped me figure it out. I think any singer needs to realize if you're doing aggressive music you need to have confidence with it, you need to have technique and you need to make sure that your emotions aren't getting in the way of your voice, so that you're always keeping relaxed enough to hit those notes and to hit those screams without putting pressure (on) and damaging your vocal chords. It definitely is an art form. It took me a long time to figure that out.

WULF: Well yeah, because I'm a vocalist, not for any serious band or anything like that, just for fun with my friends playing music, but that's definitely really helpful advice for sure.

JESSE: I don't know if I can advertise it (on here) but I don't care-- there's a CD you can pick up off the internet, there's a booklet that comes with it, called "The Vocal Release," at, and that helped me out a taught me a lot about myself and different warm-ups and warm-downs and whatnot to do. Between that and I took a couple lessons from Melissa Cross who's a great vocal trainer, but I think a lot of it is knowing your body, knowing your voice. Your instrument is your entire body so it takes you a long time for your brain to catch up with that. A guitar player sits at practice and does scales, you gotta do the same thing with your voice. It's a little different (though), it's not just scales, there's a certain amount of pressure and tension that you need to keep up and making sure the voice is vertical from the diaphragm out to the top of your mouth without all that constriction and stuff.

WULF: Yeah, that's what I hear a lot. Singing from the diaphragm, for sure. OK, so only a couple more questions because I know we're kind of running out of time here, but OK so I watched both of the music videos for "Lords of War" and "Awaken", and for the "Lords of War" video I watched the behind the scenes also, and it looked cold--

JESSE: Oh yeah, it was really, really cold.

WULF: Well it looked like it could have been a lot of fun too, so how was it really?

JESSE: We're a band of brothers for sure, we've played a lot of shows together this past year and we've definitely taken a lot of bad situations and made them good, so I think that that's important, you know, a positive mental attitude and (inaudible), but for that video shoot it was literally nine, ten degrees (farenheit) out, and we were about a half-mile out in the woods away from any shelter or anything like that, so that was a challenge but I'm a total pyromaniac when it comes to bonfires and stuff like that, so we (started one), made sure the flames were nice and big, we (had) hot coffee in the truck, and our spirits were high and we love what we do and I think that comes across (in the video), that kept us going. That was a long shoot, we shot till the sun came down, and a huge snowstorm was falling in during the shooting too the risk of sounding cheesy it was kind of a magical thing with the snow and the fire in the background and a couple of guys, our crew, who were friends of ours who helped us out with the video, everyone was just excited to do it so it kind of turned into a little adventure.

WULF: Yeah, especially with the behind-the-scenes (video) it seemed like you guys were having a lot of fun out there.

JESSE: We usually do when we get together.

WULF: The first thing I thought of when I saw the woods was black metal videos even though obviously you guys aren't a black metal band.

JESSE: Nice!

WULF: But I was really glad to see that you guys had amps out there because a lot of times I see music videos out in the woods with bands playing, you've got the drum set but usually the guitar player's playing the guitar but there's no amp or anything so it doesn't look very realistic, so this looked cool because it looked kind of like a generator show or something, it was really neat. Anyway, a couple more questions really fast, I know that you're a seasoned veteran when it comes to touring and playing a bunch of shows, but where would you say is your favorite place to play on, what city or town? Or who at least has the craziest fans?

JESSE: Well, that's a toss-up...I would say Texas has crazy fans, California has some crazy fans, North Carolina has some crazy fans, definitely those three places. For every tour I've been on the people there are not only huge, crazy fans but they're very supportive and very loving. I get a lot of love when I come to Texas. New Orleans too, when we played in New Orleans that was incredible, we had a blast. We get a lot of love from New Orleans, and that was an experience, especially seeing the damage of Katrina. We went there a year after it happened and we saw the FEMA trailers everywhere-- the city had just dusted itself off and just got back up and it was really inspiring.

WULF: When you say North Carolina are you talking about the Winston-Salem area?

JESSE: No, Asheville. Winston-Salem was good too though, but (Asheville) was just off the beaten path. North Carolina definitely shows a lot of love, man.

WULF: Cool! What would you say is the craziest band you've ever been on tour with, besides yourselves of course?

JESSE: On tour with? Let's see...I would have to say most of the bands I've toured with have been really good dudes, although some of the most fun (was with) Valient Thorr! Those guys were awesome! Really good guys, but they're straight out of like a comic book or something, they're characters. They're a mixture of like the MC5, Motörhead, and...they were just a lot of fun. The way they talked about their band, they said they were from the planet Venus, they had a whole story to them and they stuck with it, man! And they went absolutely nuts live! They're one of the coolest bands to watch live. Make sure to take the chance to check them out, they're an experience for sure.

WULF: I've seen them twice, actually...yeah, they're nuts. I can totally see where you're coming from.

JESSE: They're rock and roll, man. They're no joke. They're not posers at all. That's exactly who they are, man.

WULF: OK, so lastly, plans for the future. I know that your album has just come out, I'm assuming that you guys are going to tour or have been touring, and so any plans for future recordings or maybe a DVD, anything like that? What's going on?

JESSE: Actually, all that. The only thing that's tough for us is touring right commit to leaving our jobs, and some of us are in school. So, touring may not happen for awhile. But we're definitely playing regionally, and we're definitely (playing shows) on weekends, we've started working on new material, we're actually getting ready to shoot another video, and we've got enough footage from shows and behind the scenes to make a really killer DVD so that will probably be within the next year or so. We're an independent band and we do everything ourselves so it's really cool man.

WULF: That's awesome. Definitely if you get the chance and you come through the Midwest, don't forget about us in Kansas City. (laughs) I know not a lot of bands come through here but we'd love to see you, for sure. Thank you so much for talking to me, this was a great interview.

JESSE: I appreciate it, man.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Interview with Gen from The Genitorturers!!

Phone interview taken on March 4, 2010.


WULF: I'm not the hugest fan of industrial music (but) I do enjoy the new album...a lot actually. Also, I hadn't ever heard your music before just because I'd never really bothered to check it out just because I wasn't so into industrial, so when I received the new album needless to say I was pleasantly surprised. Anyway, to start off with, what is your personal favorite track on this new album? Or which track do you feel turned out the best?

GEN: For me, I'd say my two favorites on the record would be the opening track "Revolution" only because it kind of sets the tone for kind of how I feel about being in the music industry for a certain amount of time and wanting to put a boot in someone's ass.
And also just kind of watching what I've seen happen in the music industry over a certain number of years and feeling like there is and needs to be a revolution when it comes to music. And then also I think "Confessions Of A Blackheart" just because it's really off-the-wall and unique and it was a hell of a lot of fun for me to produce.

WULF: Oh, awesome!

GEN: Yeah, I'm doing all the vocals, and it's a pretty odd song, it's very eclectic. So those are two that I think are very different, (and those) would be my two favorites.

WULF: So would you say that was maybe also the most difficult track to record, or which would you say was the most difficult (to record), or was there any difficulty?

GEN: I would tell you this-- the most challenging from a vocal standpoint was "Revolution" because I wanted to make sure that there was just an intense amount of energy and angst in that song and I can honestly say that I put every ounce of my soul and being into putting forth that energy. I probably did more takes on "Revolution" than any other song I've ever done in my life because I was sitting there with David, Evil D, who co-produced the record for me and he was like "nope! Not good enough! C'mon! You can do it!" He literally got me so pissed off that finally I (was like) "WHOAAAAAHHHHH!!!" and there's this scream in the middle and I think I (just) about blew my lung sacs out because I was so pissed off.

WULF: Oh my gosh. Yeah, I can definitely understand.

GEN: But it sounds great, you know?

WULF: So when you say Evil D, you're talking about David Vincent, that's your husband right?

GEN: Yes.

WULF: So he kind of pissed you off when you were trying to do it over and over?

GEN: Well on that song we recorded those vocals in our studio and he was producing the vocals on that and I'm happy that he did it, he really held my feet to the fire and said "nope! Come on!" Let's put it this way, he's heard me scream at him enough that he knows what I'm capable of and I think he wanted to pull all that out of me to get that true anger, so he was good at it.

WULF: That's really funny, that's awesome though. You can definitely tell when listening to it.

GEN: Yeah.

WULF: So I was looking on your Myspace and it looks like you guys are about to go on tour, right?

GEN: We're heading on down to Australia and New Zealand in a month. It's just so fun because we we went there a couple years ago and just had a blast. The people are great, the fans are great, and it's just an amazing part of the planet to get to visit.

WULF: I'm jealous, especially to be in a band going down there. I've never been to Australia. Do you prefer to tour in the US or do you prefer other parts of the world like abroad or Australia, or is it just different?

GEN: It's kind of different. It's always an adventure to go to different countries. I don't know if you've ever watched that show that NOFX had called Backstage Passport and they were going to all these weird countries and all the funny experiences they would have. It was just really funny. There's an element of that when you do travel. You're using different gear and it's a challenge. I think that for me in terms of putting on maybe the best shows production-wise is always going to be in The States because (I've got) a little bit more control over having my props and all of my clothes and bells and whistles we take with us for our live show.

WULF: So where is your personal favorite place to play? Who has the craziest Genitorturer fans?

GEN: Oh man, that's a tough one. I guess places in Europe...when it comes to metal fans especially in Europe, (goths), they live this scene. They really are passionate about it. I will say that the kind of fan element I've experienced probably the most intense situations maybe in Japan though.

WULF: Really?

GEN: Yeah, our label even said "fans will be waiting for you when you get off the plane." I'm like, "what!?" And they waited for us, and then they followed us in this big entourage to our hotel and camped outside of our hotel, and I'd probably say that's the only time in my life that I felt like I was Madonna or The Beatles or something. It's crazy, you know?

WULF: Wow! Yeah, that's awesome though. I wasn't even thinking about (Japan), especially for metal, industrial, hard rock stuff I was thinking Germany or Norway, Sweden, stuff like that, but Japan? That's really interesting.

GEN: Well the thing that's interesting about Japan too is they have such a (wide variety of fans). When you go to a show (in Japan) you've got rock fans, punk fans, industrial fans, metal fans, and they all go to the same show. So it's not as separated in terms of genres, being genre specific. I consider us a genre-defying band because we have electronic elements, we have industrial elements but we're really essentially a brutal rock band, you know?

WULF: Yeah, for sure. That's why I was surprised when I heard the album because while there's definitely industrial elements, I was thinking it was just going to be pure industrial, (and that's fine, it's just not exactly my style so that's why when I heard the album I was like, "Oh! This isn't really what I expected" so I thought that was pretty cool. So what are your plans for the future after this tour? Are you going to put out maybe another DVD or maybe (go on) a US tour?

GEN: Well we've got a couple different things that we're doing concurrently with the release of this record. One that's really cool is that we are doing a series of limited-edition vinyl releases with the record.

WULF: Oh, cool!

GEN: Our first one that we did that came out right before the record was the "Cum Junkie" 7-inch. We're doing a series of 7-inches and let's just say that each one of them is very unique, very collectible, and...very special!

WULF: (laughs) ...OK!

GEN: The "Cum Junkie" one has got this gatefold fold-out of these very bizarre photos...I don't want to go into details, (inaudible), but let's just put it this way-- it's on clear vinyl, it's white and blood-spattered.

WULF: Uh-oh!

GEN: Use your imagination.

WULF: OK, I was going to say, especially for the "Cum Junkie" 7-inch, I was like "do I want to ask?"

GEN: And each one of the 7-inches has a full package to it that is really over-the-top, each concept is really unique in itself, and each one comes with a little crackerjack prize. "Cum Junkie" came with a little lollipop-colored condom with our logo on it

WULF: Oh, cool! That's awesome!

GEN: Each one has a special surprise that people get, it's kind of fun.

WULF: OK, cool. That's definitely creative as well and so that's awesome. Speaking of which, I've read that your live shows are visually pretty crazy, I've seen pictures, so is this going to be the case then for this upcoming tour in Australia?

GEN: Oh yeah, I mean, when we put together an album it's the new chapter in an ongoing story, so what our long term fans get about Genitorturers is the fact that from our first album "120 Days" we kind of started this storyline that we then bring to life onstage a la Alice Cooper, King Diamond, (that kind of thing). It's a thrill, we have characters that appear, live actors, video that goes along with the show that I interact with...more than just seeing five guys with t-shirts, basically. Pretty damn sexy show, I've got some hot bitches up there.

WULF: OK, alright, alright!
Any plans for doing anymore video game soundtracks? I read that you guys did music for True Crime: Streets of LA and the Vampire: Bloodlines game. Any more plans for doing anymore video games stuff?

GEN: Absolutely. We've got songs from "Blackheart Revolution" that have been submitted that look like they've been accepted to a couple of very, very exciting games. I can't say what they are yet, but it's going to be really, really cool.

WULF: I'll keep my eyes open for that. That's awesome, congratulations for that also. Also, I wanted to know, kind of an topic question, but do you play video games?

GEN: Do I play them? Not really. I'm somebody that doesn't have a lot of patience to sit and do that...I feel guilty.
I feel like I should be doing something productive, I know that sounds funny but...I can enjoy them, I can see how anything that's escapist like that I think is pretty cool and interesting especially when it's a healthy way of exercising your brain and being creative at the same time so I can kind of see the merit in it, for sure.

WULF: Especially with some video games like World of Warcraft or something where you're just sitting there.

GEN: Right.

WULF: (For) my last question, I was going to try and stay away from the topic of Morbid Angel, but I was wondering if there was any chance of you guest-starring on the new Morbid Angel album or anything like that?

GEN: I don't know, I mean, it's kind of one of those things (where) if I was asked to do that or there was a call for female vocals somewhere maybe it could make sense but you know, it's such a different thing and when David is in that realm it's very specific actually. They are in the studio doing the new Morbid Angel record right now and I'm really excited about it, I think their fans are just going to love it and I think even Genitorturers fans are really going to like this record too.

WULF: OK, cool, so some crossover there then?

GEN: It's just going to really be groundbreaking. They're masters of what they do and their craft, and they tend to push the envelope and push the genre because the genre needs to be pushed. (You) can only play the same four riffs and the same five blastbeats several different ways before (it gets old), and one thing about Morbid Angel that I like, because I am a fan of the band, is the fact that most death metal bands try to play at 11 the whole time, (and) if you play on 11 (the whole time) you'll never feel like it's 11 after three songs. Morbid Angel are masters of dynamics as well and having those ebbs and flows, and I think that's what makes them special. I think that's one of the things Dave and I both really think are important about putting out a good album versus just a collection of songs, is the fact that I think we like to take our fans on a journey so that when you put on a record and listen to it (in a more old-school way) from start to finish, if you do that you really get this whole artistic vision.

WULF: That's how I prefer to listen to albums too. And that's also, to tie back in with the Genitorturers, why the albums are more concept albums then, like with "120 Days" and stuff?

GEN: Exactly! And it's also because of the fact that in telling a story one of the reasons why we're a cross-genre band and we always have been is because to tell a good story you need to have different elements, (in order) to create a good story you need to have ebbs and flows and dynamics and to do that you can't just be, "well, we're just going to play this one style." I've never felt locked into having to do anything in the Genitorturers. I think that we are really mavericks in that regard, that we just don't give a fuck about what people think, we do what we do and here's what it is, and if you like it, you like it, and we know that we like the record and it tells a great story.

WULF: Yeah, yeah, for sure! Well that's awesome! That's all the questions I have for you but I just want to end by saying thank you so much for speaking with me, taking the time to talk to me, it's been an honor, and good luck on the road, have a blast in Australia and be safe.

GEN: Great! And we'll be putting our new US tour dates up soon and we'll (be heading) your direction between August and October.

WULF: Yeah, Kansas City or Lawrence! I'm in Lawrence but Kansas City will probably be a little more likely. I'm sure you guys have been to this area before but--

GEN: We've played in Lawrence and Kansas City plenty of times, and it's always a great show there.

WULF: Awesome! Well I'm going to keep an eye out for you, for sure.

GEN: Cool! Alright man, thank you very much.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Interview with Bruce Fitzhugh of Living Sacrifice!!

Phone interview taken on February 26, 2010.

Living Sacrifice Official Myspace:

WULF: First, it's a pleasure talking to you. I'm a big fan of this new album and I'd like to say that my favorite track off this new album is probably "Nietzsche's Madness".

BRUCE: Oh, nice!

WULF: Because not only is it a good song but I like the title and I find the lyrics to be really interesting.

BRUCE: Right on.

WULF: What would you say is your favorite track on this album, or which track do you feel turned out the best?

BRUCE: Man, I really like (inaudible), I also really like the first track "Overkill Exposure" and I like "Rules of Engagement", I like "Unfit to Live" a lot. I want to play those tunes. Right now we're just playing "Nietzsche's Madness" on the road and "Rules of Engagement", but hopefully we'll work in several of the new tracks soon.

WULF: OK, awesome. Are you in South Carolina right now actually, for your tour?

BRUCE: Yeah, we're gonna be in Columbia tonight and we're actually just driving there now.

WULF: Right on. You're on the road right now?


WULF: Which track do you feel was the most difficult to record for "The Infinite Order", or did you have any trouble recording the album at all?

BRUCE: I don't feel like any one track was difficult, but one of the last tracks on the record, "Apostasy", took a bit of its original form it was a lot more straightforward (but) then we got the idea to add some orchestration to it (and) acoustic guitar, and I think it really came out nice but before (inaudible) it had a completely different intro riff and was real straightforward, but now it's got a lot of different things happening in it and I like it a lot.

WULF: Yeah, if I had to guess I would have said "The Apostasy" just because there's a lot going on in there (but) that's interesting, I didn't know that.

BRUCE: Yeah, we got together with a friend of ours who just does orchestration, that's all he does (and) he kind of worked on some parts with us.

WULF: Yeah, I actually saw that in the liner notes. What was his name again?

BRUCE: His name is Chris Dauphin.

WULF: Right, right...OK. Yeah, there's a lot of guests on the album too which I thought was really cool. So as I understand, Living Sacrifice was broken up for a time and unfortunately I'm still a bit unfamiliar with the band so forgive me if this is a dumb question but was it awkward with former bandmates again or were you on good terms with everybody during the split?

BRUCE: We were on great terms! We were all still talking, getting along, all that stuff. There was no problem whatsoever, it was a lot of fun to get back together and start working on stuff.

WULF: Cool, because I was going to say it sounds like it, the album's great. So what was it like working with producer Jeremiah Scott? He's in Destroy Destroy Destroy right?

BRUCE: Yeah, he plays guitar for that band, and he's awesome. He's a good friend of ours. We've been working with him for quite awhile now. He actually recorded some tracks in 2005 for us for like a "best of..." thing that the record label put out. Before that I had worked with him on a record for a band called The Showdown that I was producing and he engineered. He's developed really really well as a producer and he went above and beyond getting it done. We took part of his studio to Arkansas to record and brought it back up to Nashville. He's awesome.

WULF: Yeah that's interesting because when I saw that I was like "wait a second!" because Destroy Destroy Destroy is a little different (of a) band than Living Sacrifice, so I thought that was pretty cool.

BRUCE: Yeah, well he wasn't super-active in that band when we started working together. I really knew him as an engineer first in his band since they've been signed and started doing more and more on that level but they're a great band... they're awesome.

WULF: Yeah, I enjoy them for sure. I was a big fan of "Battle Sluts".
So you guys are on tour right now, how's the tour going?

BRUCE: It's going good. We are kind of working it down towards the last week of it but so far it's been killer. We're out with War of Ages, Shai Hulud, Lionheart who (are) on Stillborn Records, and another band called The Great Commission. Each date's been interesting, each date's been really cool. The fans have been super receptive, and also we've been picking up new fans.

WULF: Yeah, well, I'm one of 'em! I'd heard of you guys before but I had never actually checked you out and so when I got this new album I really liked it.

BRUCE: Cool! So this is the first record you're hearing from us, huh?

WULF: It is, I know you guys have been around for awhile's kind of embarrassing for me.

BRUCE: Oh dude, understandable. Our labels have been smaller and sometimes our distribution was not always there but (inaudible). Hopefully this record will get out there way, way more than the previous ones, but it's definitely been a long time, you know? I also don't know what you were doing 10 years ago.

WULF: Yeah, I wasn't into metal 10 years ago...10 years ago I was listening to Korn and Limp Bizkit.

BRUCE: As were most people!

WULF: That's why it's great to talk to you guys because you guys have been around for a long time, you're legends in the death metal scene and it was great to see that you guys had gotten back together. But anyway, I digress. What is (personally) your favorite place to play on tour? Do you have a favorite city to play that's consistently awesome?

BRUCE: Dallas has always been awesome, Minneapolis, Columbus, Ohio, those have all been great markets for us. We like playing at home in Little Rock. I'm in Nashville, Tennessee now and I'm really enjoying playing there as well. We kicked off this tour in Nashville and it was a great show.

WULF: How come you don't have a Southern accent? (That's) what I want to know!

BRUCE: (laughs) It comes out every now and then but I think I'm too hoarse to have it right now.

WULF: Oh OK I understand.
My Dad's from Georgia and he's got a pretty heavy accent.

BRUCE: Nice! You're not very close to Atlanta though, are you?

WULF: Well, my Dad's from Augusta but I'm in Lawrence, Kansas.

BRUCE: Oh that's right, OK.

WULF: I go down there all the time so I'm pretty familiar with the South. I like Tennessee. I've only been to Fayetteville, Arkansas, I haven't been to Little Rock, but I liked Fayetteville a lot. But anyway, what are Living Sacrifice's plans for the future? Are you guys planning on putting out another album or maybe a DVD or anything?

BRUCE: We're definitely going to be working on a new record and that may come out next year, we'll see. And then (we're just going to) get out there and play a little bit. We're not road dogs like we used to (be) as we all have families and stuff like that. We're friends with a ton of bands just for being around forever and hopefully we'll be able to get out there and do some stuff.

WULF: OK! Maybe plans for a DVD or anything?

BRUCE: Yeah, yeah! We actually have one that's in the works. Hopefully that will happen!

WULF: Well I've been on a real big "metal DVD" kick lately so I can't get enough of 'em, I always gotta ask...especially (since I live) in Kansas. You guys actually came through here a little while ago but unfortunately I couldn't make it, but I wanted to say thank you for coming through this area, not a lot of bands come through here, so it means a lot when bands do make it. Thank you again. Hopefully you guys will come back through here soon, I'll be able to make it this time. I'm really busy with school and stuff and so it's kicking my ass.

BRUCE: OK! Absolutely! Next time we come through we'll try to make that happen.

WULF: I was trying to avoid talking about the personal beliefs of the band just because I'm sure that you guys are sick of talking about it but I couldn't resist asking you's kind of off-topic a little bit, but (it's) something that I find to be kind of a weird phenomenon in the metal scene, and that is christian black metal. I know that you guys early on probably experienced the sort of "eyebrow-raising" of being a (christian death metal band), and so I didn't know...what's your opinion on christian black metal? Do you listen to christian black metal or black metal at all or anything?

BRUCE: You know man, I don't listen to regular black metal otherwise, so I don't have much of an opinion either way on christian black metal, so... it's just something I've never really gotten into so I'm definitely out of the loop when it comes to that.

WULF: Because you see a lot of debates going on in forums and stuff as far as like...if it can actually exist or you know, that sort of thing, so I didn't know if you had an opinion or not on the subject.

BRUCE: Yeah, not really.

WULF: OK, that's cool man. Well finally, my last question before I go. It's kind of a wild card, but are you guys ever going to go back to the old (hairstyles)?

BRUCE: (laughs) Dude, I have no idea.

WULF: It was just kind of a joke question.

BRUCE: Yeah, yeah. I grew my hair out again maybe 5 years ago My hair hasn't really thinned or anything, it's just not like it was when I was a teenager or my early 20s, so basically my wife said to me "yeah, it's not"

WULF: I think it's cool man! But yeah, I'm sure on the road too having long hair is kind of a pain in the ass.

BRUCE: Yeah.

WULF: Well anyway, that's all the questions I have for you man. Thank you so much, (again,) it's an honor to talk to you, you guys are legends, so thank you again for taking the time to talk to me.

BRUCE: Thank you (Wulf)! Appreciate it dude!

WULF: Be safe on the road, have a great show tonight.

BRUCE: Will do.

Interview with Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste!!

Official Myspace:

This was a phone interview taken in Autumn, 2009.

WULF: So I understand that you're back at home now in Richmond?

TONY: Yeah.

WULF: Is it nice to be back or are you really itching to get back on the road?

TONY: It's great! I've only been here for a little over a week and I'm leaving Monday to go down to Florida to do some shows with my other band.

WULF: Yeah, I was on actually a little bit ago and I noticed that you play in another band? Is it not a metal band?

TONY: It's kind of like a hardcore band. 80's hardcore, kind of like (inaudible) and Dag Nasty, The Descendants, stuff like that.

WULF: What's it called?

TONY: It's called No Friends. Yeah, we just started and we just did an LP that came out on No Idea Records. Whenever I'm off the waste tour I just go down there and write songs and practice with them.

WULF: So I'm assuming that you guys obviously do a lot of partying and stuff like that on the road, but do you do that at home or do you just find yourself relaxing and saving all your energy for the road?

TONY: I think I party more when I'm at home than I do on tour.

WULF: Really?

TONY: Touring is so stressful and strenuous, and the traveling is pretty crazy. Especially when you're on the road for five weeks, you can't really get too rowdy or you're going to A- blow your voice out, or (B-) just get sick, you know? It sucks when you're out for like three or four weeks and getting the flue, man.
I gotta pace myself on the road nowadays.

WULF: Especially for Municipal Waste, I could see that would really be shitty if you've got the flue or something and meanwhile you've gotta conjure up some energy to put on a good, energetic show. That would be awful.

TONY: Yeah, our live shows are pretty energetic and it takes a lot of out of us. You can't really slack on that, you know? You don't want people who payed to see your band watch you suck because you got too drunk the night before.

WULF: Yeah, leave that for the fans I guess.

TONY: Yeah, we'll bring the party, you guys do that and we'll watch.

WULF: So what's your favorite city or location to play would you say?

TONY: Kansas City man!

WULF: Yeah right!
Actually, everybody that I've talked to consistently says Montreal, which is random.

TONY: Montreal...we've actually had some really cool shows there. We haven't played there as much as I'd have liked to but...I don't know man, usually the Bay Area, we've had the rowdiest shows out there but now it's starting to be like London...London's really crazy. Belgium's getting really wild. We just hit Eastern Europe and that was the first time we ever went over there and the crowd was so crazy and they were just (all about) what we were doing, singing along to all the words and beating the hell out of each other. It's cool man, so I can't really say. Each show is special in their own way, I know that sounds kind of like a parent saying something like that, but it really is.

WULF: Yeah, actually I had just read in Decibel about you guys playing Norway and that you burned a miniature church on stage or something? How did that go over with everybody?

TONY: I didn't realize it, but apparently after we left it was all over the news there. Yeah, we didn't make a big deal out of it just because of the church burnings there or whatever, we just thought it would be funny. I mean, nobody in the crowd was flicking us off or (anything), I mean everybody was laughing 'cuz I mean it was pretty ridiculous...burning a church, you know? It made the news and people were pissed off about it so I guess we did a good job.

WULF: I was actually in class, and right before class started I was reading Decibel and I read that thing about you guys and I actually laughed out loud. Especially since Varg just got out of prison and all that shit and so I didn't know if people were gonna be all like "Oh! What the fuck!"

TONY: We didn't realize it was going to be like a big deal in the news or anything. We were just doing it because Kylesa was there and we wanted to make them laugh. We've been friends with them for years and they were playing with us.

WULF: Yeah, they're really cool. I had never really checked them out before but I got to see them when they came through here with Mastodon, and it was a really fun show.

TONY: Cool.

WULF: But anyway, on to the new album. I'm a big fan of "Hazardous Mutation" and "The Art of Partying", and I really really enjoyed "Massive Aggressive" a lot.

TONY: Awesome! That's great, thank you.

WULF: I'm a metal magazine/online (metal news) junkie and I guess you guys (were on) the cover of Terrorizer a couple of months ago, so congratulations on that. I read in the interview that you guys wanted to tone down the whole "party-thrash" theme I guess so as not to be kind of stuck in a genre or label.

TONY: Yeah, I think it was a smart thing to do.

WULF: Yeah, I agree for sure. You don't want to be labeled a gimmick or whatever and with this new album, I mean, all the albums are good, but this new album I really felt was cool because it had the same energy and all that but I felt it would maybe change the vibe of the live show, maybe? Just because you guys are trying to be at least a little more serious musically or whatever.

TONY: Well, "The Art of Partying" was a breakthrough album for us, and for a lot of people that was the first album they heard from us.

WULF: Yeah, that was mine.

TONY: Yeah, and they didn't realize we had stuff before that and so doing "The Art of Partying", when we wrote it we wanted it (to be) a concept album about partying, like the "Reign in Blood" of party albums. That album broke us through, and a lot of people heard that and thought that's just all the band (was about), that's all we do. Like every song is about that, which is the case on that album but it's definitely a lot more. When we finished recording the album we were going to have this pulverizing set where we were going to play like 19 songs without talking and just crush the audience and be all serious. We did that for three shows and we were like "this is not us...this is not fun." I just didn't feel like I was being myself, so we ended up just doing like we normally do, playing our songs and talking to the audience.

WULF: Having a good time, yeah.

TONY: Yeah.

WULF: The sub-question to that would be-- how sick of talking about retro thrash and stuff are you guys?

TONY: I'm pretty over it. I was actually sick of it from the last record.
Everybody was like "how does it (feel to be) the forebearers of this new genre?" And it's like, "well, I don't really want to be that."

WULF: Yeah, that sucks.

TONY: And it's like... we've been doing this for nine years, you know? We were doing it before the "Thrash Revival", before that phrase was even invented. We were doing it. I don't know. It gets old. I'd rather (talk) about other stuff.

WULF: Yeah, I understand. I mean you read the interviews and you're like "oh, God, these guys...these poor dudes." 'Cuz you know, the music is a lot different, at least to me, than the the music in the retro-thrash scene, or whatever and you guys just kind of got lumped in somehow.

TONY: Yeah you know, I think a lot of those bands will die off in a few years and I think the really good ones are the ones that are true and stick around and last.

WULF: Get their shit together and evolve, yeah. So one of the catchiest songs I think I've heard this year is definitely "Wrong Answer". I like a lot of the songs on the album a lot, but "Wrong Answer" is the single and you (have) guys got a video for it which is pretty badass also. It looks like you guys had a lot of fun making the video, and so this might be kind of a naive question but as fun as it looked filming it was it stressful at all making it or was there (any) behind the scenes drama or technical difficulty or anything like that?

TONY: It wasn't really was kind of stressful because we had the concept idea for the video but we didn't really know what we were doing. We went up there a day before and then the director kind of discussed what we wanted. Each band member made their own costumes, like that whole thing I was wearing, I totally made that myself, like I rented the tuxedo.

WULF: Oh, I didn't know that! That's cool.

TONY: Yeah, everyone made their own costumes. The girl in the video is actually Ryan's girlfriend. It's all us in the video and the one thing that we didn't really know what we were going to do was how we were going to kill each member, so we kind of just threw all that together. It was a little stressful but it was fun, it was really hot and ugh! We were in this warehouse, without AC and we just stopped for five minutes and (would) be in front of the fan cooling down because we had the stupid costumes on and they (were) really hot.

WULF: Yeah because looking at it, I didn't know if meanwhile you guys were like "fuck!" But I guess you guys were just really hot, but that's cool though.

TONY: Yeah, it was really hot that day.

WULF: So with "Massive Aggressive", what was the most difficult track for you guys to record, would you say?

TONY: The hardest song Dave nailed on the first take, I think it was "Upside Down Church", maybe? It was weird, he nailed one of the songs on the first take and we were like "damn!" But you know, we were pretty prepared...there wasn't anything that we really were stuck on, everyone just kind of bullied through the tracks. I have problems singing because I got sick, of course, it was the winter and my throat got all funky so I had to like take it a little easier right off the bat because I didn't want to blow my voice out, so that was pretty difficult but just trying to keep my voice healthy was the hardest thing for me at least.

WULF: Well it's good that you guys got through it and you didn't blow out your voice or anything.

TONY: It came out good, I'm happy with it.

WULF: Yeah, I think it sounds really good.

TONY: Zeuss, the producer, pushed us pretty hard.

WULF: Oh yeah, he produced "Art of Partying" didn't he?

TONY: Yeah, he did the last two records.

WULF: What would you say is your personal favorite track on this album?

TONY: Oooo. "Masked by Delirium" and I think "Wrong Answer" are my two favorites on there. And "Acid Sentence" too. My favorite to play live is "Acid Sentence" because it just pulverizes the audience, everyone goes crazy when we play that song!

WULF: Yeah it sucks, because the past couple of times you guys have been through I've missed it every time and so it sucks because I've heard the live show is a lot of fun, so I wanted to say that if you guys get the chance, try to come through Kansas City or Lawrence or something because we'd love to have you, for sure.

TONY: I want to, but on this tour I don't think we are.

WULF: Yeah, I don't think you guys are either. The Midwest is like, you's not the greatest scene in the world, it's the middle of nowhere, so I don't really blame bands when they don't really want to come around here.

TONY: We had a really good show in Kansas City with Gwar.

WULF: Yeah that was the first time I heard of you guys, actually. It was a little while ago.

TONY: We had the flu that night though, everyone in the band. So we were so exhausted after we played I remember we turned the lights off in our dress room and everyone just laid there, totally sick with the flu.

WULF: Oh, that's shitty!

TONY: It was brutal man, and that was my first time in Kansas City and I was really stoked to get there, and then everyone got nailed (with the flu), everyone on the tour got that illness.

WULF: That sucks, yeah you wanted to go get some barbecue or something like that?
So, my last question-- any plans for the future or a DVD or anything like that?

TONY: Right now we're planning on doing the few tours we're doing, a full US tour and we're doing a Europe tour, and after that Brazil...a lot of touring, and the plans for a DVD, actually, me and Ryan the guitar player have been stockpiling footage over the past nine years and we have some really hilarious stuff.

WULF: Nine years?! Holy shit!

TONY: We got stuff to do the DVD, we just gotta find a person to look through all that shit and figure out what's good and what's not.

WULF: Especially since bands don't really come through here that much and I feel like Youtube doesn't really do bands justice as far as the quality being shitty and stuff, I like DVDs. I'm looking forward to that for sure.

TONY: Yeah who knows, it might come out in five years from now.

WULF: Well that's all the questions I have Tony, thanks so much giving me a call and taking time out of your day.

TONY: Glad I finally got ahold of ya.

WULF: Well, you take care and hopefully one of these days we'll be seeing you in Kansas City or Lawrence or something like that.

TONY: Definitely, thanks a lot.