Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ones That Got Away: Lost Interviews

Over the several years that I was a DJ for Malicious Intent, I conducted as many interviews as I had time for and have posted almost all of them on here. Unfortunately, there are some that I either lost, conducted live on-air and didn't record, or found the audio to be too garbled (ESPECIALLY with my DragonForce interview). It sucks because some of the interviews were great, including the first interview I ever did-- with Justin Broadrick while he was touring with Jesu (Isis supporting) 5 years ago or so. Anyway, besides the Justin Broadrick interview, the ones that got away include:
Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal)
Karl Sanders
Derek Sherinian

Freddy Lim (Chthonic)
John Kevill (Warbringer)



There are also a couple interviews that I've recorded but have just been too lazy to put up here, namely the one with Jason Decay of Cauldron (which was split into two parts and is overall pretty messy, long story). I'll try and put them up later.

As a bonus, here are the questions for my Burzum interview that I spent like 4 hours trying to come up with, but ended up not working out for some reason. I'm actually pretty proud of these questions, and would legitimately like to know the answers to some of them, so if you're an interviewer and you read a question that you think is a good one, feel free to steal it and use it if you end up interviewing Mr. Vikernes...I doubt I'll have the chance again. I was really excited too (mostly because I wanted to know how his rpg was coming along!).

Malicious Intent's Official Burzum Interview That Didn't Make It:

Mr. Vikernes, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. I apologize in advance for my lengthy questions, as well as if there are any you find irrelevant or impertinent to the subject at hand (your new album, "Fallen")...or maybe just find to be a waste of your time. Also, you may notice that many of my questions are based on answers you've given in other interviews. I don't mean to do this, but I've found this method to be much better in creating questions than coming up with original ones on my own since almost everything I could think of ended up being already answered by you in earlier interviews!

*I read in a recent interview you did for the blog Invisible Oranges that what you hoped to accomplish with "Fallen" was to "make an album you could listen to without growing tired of it." That was almost a month ago, and since then I'm sure you've conducted dozens of other interviews answering question after question about this album. How has this album fared o far in that respect? Are you still hungry to discuss "Fallen", or do you believe you've essentially discussed this album to death and are ready to move on to a new project? For what it's worth, I feel that this album is very powerful (I actually found myself more drawn to "Fallen" rather than "Belus, although "Belus" of course was excellent as well) and I don't see myself growing tired of it any time soon.

*You've stated in various interviews that you spend much of your time listening to and/or working on unfinished Burzum tracks. I'm curious as to whether or not these "unfinished tracks" were songs that were all going to go on "Fallen", or if you're ALREADY working on another album?? Obviously, in the past you've had enough time to probably compose material that could fill up 20 albums or more, but how much material have you written exactly up to this point?

*In that same interview with Invisible Oranges, you acknowledged that death is a dominant theme in "Fallen", but it is only part of an "eternal cycle". If that also reflects your personal beliefs on the concepts of life, death, and rebirth, what do you feel about the "end of the world", or rather, when our planet decides to "rid herself of us" as you stated in your recent interview with MetalKings.com? Is humanity to be reborn anew, or do you feel we will be replaced with a new lifeform altogether and this "eternal cycle" shall continue?

*In a recent interview with MetalSucks.net you stated that you had to censor yourself a bit in order to not be too "politically incorrect". Why? As an artist who is constantly courting controversy, I found this to be an interesting choice.

*In the same interview, you also stated that "innovation, creativity, and lunacy go hand in hand". I know that you were speaking about our neanderthal-human origins, but I also found it to be a relevant statement regarding the mixed blessing (or, perhaps, more appropriately, the "double-edged sword") of being a writer. Your thoughts on this? On a seperate note, I mean no disrespect in asking this, but have YOU ever questioned your sanity while laboring over your music, or felt you may be going mad? The music of Burzum can be quite intense at times...

*While every song off of "Fallen" is intriguing in its own way, after reading many interviews you've done I haven't found much information about the last track, "Til Hel Og Tilbake Igjen". Forgive me if I'm way off the mark, but is this inspired by ancient Norwegian/European folk music, or is it completely from your own imagination? It's definitely eerie and perfect to listen to in complete darkness, which I suppose accurately evokes the "essence" of the theme (to Hel and back again). It's definitely unlike anything I've heard before, let alone from Burzum!

*Lyrically, these recent Burzum albums involve mythology, paganism, death, etc. While it's understandable that your Tolkien-inspired lyrics from your older albums haven't resurfaced, is there a chance that you will ever return to these themes on future albums, or has your interest in Tolkien waned over the years? Also, are you familiar with the works of George R.R. Martin (dubbed by some as the "American Tolkien")?

*Are you the sole member behind Byelobog Productions? I can't find much information on it besides it being Burzum's current record label. Also, are there any plans for Byelobog to expand its roster, or will it always be a "Burzum-only" label?

*It's clear that you're an extremely busy man these days, and it seems as if Burzum is your main priority right now. However, I know that you have other projects right now, such as your new (completed?) book "Sorcery and Religion in Scandinavia", as well as another book about the early days of Burzum (according to an excerpt from an April 2009 interview you did with the magazine Dagbladet). As a huge fan of role-playing games, however, I was very surprised and excited to see that you had stated in that same interview that you were working on your very own RPG (as well as some fantasy and science fiction books!). Would you care to give us any details on this RPG project? Is it similar to Dungeons and Dragons (sword & sorcery), Star Trek (sci-fi), or something else? Perhaps the first-ever black metal RPG? ;)

*Thank you so much again for taking the time to answer these questions. I wish you good luck in the future with Burzum and your writing! Any last words?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Music Recommendations for the Open-Minded Metalhead

My friend once told me that he met someone at a show who only listens to Death Metal, but not just that-he only listens to Death Metal that MAKES him feel dead. Depending on how you feel about that will probably indicate how you feel about this statement: I consider myself an open-minded metalhead. In my approximately 15 years in listening to metal, I've expanded my tastes to other types of music including folk, jazz, alternative country, and indie rock amongst others. I don't think this fact makes me any less of a metalhead, nor does it make me a "hipster" (note: if someone were to actually call me a hipster, I would abandon my pacifist ideals faster than you can say "That's ironic"). After all this exposure to other types of music, I'm still happy to say that I would rather listen to a mediocre metal band than a mediocre band from almost any other type of music (meaning, that metal is still my favorite type of music). However, I think any metalhead being honest with him or herself would have to acknowledge that metal, no matter what subgenre, offers only a limited palette on the emotional spectrum. If you are satisfied by said palette, then more power to you! If not, then I can provide some suggestions for metalheads looking to branch out:

Leonard Cohen
Often erroneously lauded as "The Canadian Bob Dylan" for his expert storytelling, Cohen is far from Dylan in almost every conceivable way...OK fine, he's like Dylan's sad bastard fifth cousin. Leonard Cohen has written some of the darkest music in mainstream folk music, covering topics of suicide, infidelity, love, death, and religion amongst others. He most famously composed the tune "Hallelujah". While that song has been covered to death, his vast career has much more to offer than that. His lamenting, untrained voice and intimately personal lyrics is what first attracted me to him and allows his music to come through without pretense. Instead, his music evokes a feeling of very real human fragility and vulnerability.

Recommendations: "Songs of Love and Hate" and "Songs of Leonard Cohen"

Probably the most obvious choice in my list. Of all of the non-metal bands that get mentioned as influences for metal bands, Swans may be the name most often dropped, and for good reason. They are often claimed to be the progenitors to Post-Metal and Industrial Metal, while also greatly contributing to the beginnings of Gothic Metal. Swans began their career in the early 80s as part of the No-Wave New York scene. Their early sound was bleak and unforgiving. Their songs were often slow, dissonant, and metallic with Michael Gira's uncompromising baritone howl expressing perspectives of abstract violence, sexuality, and identity. Later, Swans refined their sound through a number of different musical transitions including Gothic music ("White Light from The Mouth of Infinity") and experimenting with found sounds ("Soundtracks for the Blind"). Luckily, Swans has reformed with their newest album "My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky" which matches the quality of the earlier material, with more orchestrated aspects.

Recommendations: I personally prefer their mid-late period, basically "White Light..." and on, highlights being "The Great Annihilator" and "Soundtracks for the Blind", but "Children of God" is also quite good. Check out their early material for more challenging aural experiences. Also, I would recommend checking out Michael Gira's other band, Angels of Light, which has a more folky sound heavily influenced by...you guessed it, Leonard Cohen.

90s Post-Hardcore and Math/Noise Rock
It was hard to pick one band out of one of my favorite periods/styles of music, but for me, bands like Polvo, Chavez, Drive Like Jehu, Jawbox, Jesus Lizard, Castor, Fugazi, Shiner, and Hum have made some of my favorite music...ever. It's incredibly unfair to lump all of these bands together because they all sound so different from one another. What most of these bands have in common is noisy, guitar-driven rock/punk music with whacky song structures and time signatures, but still retaining some sense of melody beneath the maelstrom. This balance between dissonance and melody is something I've striven for in my own music writing for years. Many of these bands would go onto influence the Noisecore of the late 90s and early 00s.

Recommendations: "Better Days Will Haunt You" by Chavez, "Yank Crime" by Drive Like Jehu, "Lula Divina" by Shiner, "Today's Active Lifestyles" by Polvo, "In on the Killtaker" by Fugazi, "Goat" by Jesus Lizard; and for those willing to endure a bit of "emo" vocal stylings, "Downward is Heavenward" by Hum and "s/t" by Castor.

King Crimson
For me, most progressive rock is just far too pompous, melodramatic, and even worse-cheesy. King Crimson is the only progressive rock band that I have consistently listened to and I can safely acknowledge them as one of my favorite bands without blushing. What makes them different than most progressive rock bands is, at least in their early period, they had a darker sound with minor third chord changes, flat fifths, and heavy metal-like distortion. Guitarist/songwriter Robert Fripp has always employed the most impressive musicians in King Crimson, not to mention Fripp himself who is widely considered one of the best guitarists of all time. King Crimson has gone through so many musical transitions it's hard not to find at least ONE album you like in their catalogue. I think most metalheads would prefer their early period, but I prefer their "new wave" period, with the apex of that being "Discipline".

Recommendations: "Red", Larks' Tongues in Aspic", and "Discipline"

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum
I purposefully put Sleepytime Gorilla Museum here on the list because they are actually heavily influenced by King Crimson. As a warning, I'll just say that these guys are fucking weird. As an example, one of their albums is based around a fictional political dialogue between The Futurists and The Unabomber. Not exactly your normal concept album, but interesting nonetheless. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (SGM) combine a penchant for industrial noise, progressive rock, and avant-garde classical music into some truly whacked out compositions. They've mentioned in interviews that the way they generally construct songs is by having one person in the band make some "noise", and then the other members add their own parts. This often ends up in a polyrhythmic cacophony, but there is usually off-kilter melody lurking beneath the maelstrom of dissonance. Besides all of that, they are masters of dynamic shifts. Hearing is truly believing.

Recommendations: "Of Natural History" and "In Glorious Times"

Chelsea Wolfe
Chelsea Wolfe has been making some waves lately. She plays a dark, brooding form of folk and dirge blues usually accompanied by a piano or a guitar. She just released a new album called "Ἀποκάλυψις" which translates to Apocalypse. I really don't that much about her, but she has a beautifully haunting style, which sometimes can be downright frightening. She has also covered one of Burzum's more kvlt numbers, "Black Spell of Destruction".

Recommendations: "Ἀποκάλυψις"

Dax Riggs
Some of Chelsea Wolfe's material reminds me of Dax Riggs in a way...er, maybe that's the other way around. For those that don't know, Dax Riggs is the former lead singer of NOLA heroes Acid Bath. After the unfortunate demise of said band, Dax has forged a solo career as a dirge/neo blues rock phenom. The subject matter of his lyrics are still quite dark, covering subjects like suicide, death, Satan, and the like. The image that his music brings to mind is the dark underworld of New Orleans, or the backwoods swamps of rural Louisiana. Dirty and dark.

Recommendations: "Say Goodnight to the World"

Killing Joke
Killing Joke has been around for ages and is still producing good music. Not only that, but they have been highly influential on bands like Napalm Death, Nachtmystium, Behemoth, and even Metallica to name a few. They are considered to be one of the progenitors of Industrial Rock and Metal. Much of their music is often simple punk/metal riffs set with a driving rhythm section, noisy or melodic synthesizers, and of course, Jaz Coleman's recognizable snarl. Coleman's lyrics often deal with the negative side of the human experience covering themes like greed and religion. However, don't dismiss Killing Joke for their perceived simplicity or their use of synthesizers. Their cold, calculating execution is like that of a serial killer: exact and without remorse.

Recommendations: "Extremities, Dirt, and Various Repressed Emotions", "Killing Joke", and "Hosannas from the Basements of Hell"

For Metalheads into bands with electronic elements, I would recommend the more-often-than-not cold sounds of Venetian Snares or Autechre. If you're interested in some darker post-punk you have bands like Joy Division, Bauhaus, and early Cure.