Posts Tagged ‘Interview’

I reviewed the newest EP from British black metallers Hex Morbidity recently, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a chat with Jarod, the mastermind behind this cold hearted black project. We talked about his band, the melancholic nature of British black metal and how not sounding like your influences can be a good thing…

So where did the genesis of Hex Morbidity come from? Who are the main influences?

Hex Morbidity began as my own project which I formally started very early in 2013. I got a line-up together but I wasn’t satisfied with it so this slowly disintegrated before we started playing shows. Hex now exists as a one-man band but I am currently making it into a live act and have found a guitarist and am looking for bassist and a drummer. There are no big influences because I never wanted to sound like my favourite bands; I want to do something different. Of course I have influences though, off the top of my head they would be Genesis, My Dying Bride, Burzum, Eastern Front, Hecate Enthroned, At The Gates, Winterfylleth, Death…

Is there a particular theme to Hex Morbidity’s work?

I see Hex Morbidity as a kind of personal outlet- the lyrics are all based on my own experiences, intentions or expressions and the music works along with that. There is no ‘concept’ to the band though in the same way that other acts have a novelty.

Is there anything you feel about Hex Morbidity’s music that is particularly British? British black metal seems to have a rich and diverse scene, where do you think Hex Morbidity fit in?

I think a lot of my influences are British. Musically, I’m inspired by a lot of the British traditional metal bands and the extreme underground of the early 90s. Lyrically, I’m inspired by British poets and authors, particularly of the romantic movement. You’re correct that British BM is a rich scene. Hex Morbidity sounds more melancholic, more emotion led but also wild and unpredictable too. I think too many bands that I listen too nowadays sound so similar and on auto-pilot- Hex Morbidity isn’t like that.

You mentioned My Dying Bride as an influence, and British poets and the romantic movement as a lyrical influence. MDB are at times one of the bleakest bands out there, yet I don’t feel they get as much credit as an influence as they deserve. What is it about the British psyche that can conjure up this melancholy?
I think it’s just part of the national character to be a little pessimistic and to have a dark sense of humour. I wouldn’t say I’m a miserable person, but I am attracted to melancholy and I find it much more satisfying, and also more natural, to write darker songs and lyrics.

As a black metal musician, is there pressure for your sound to be a certain way, or does the genre allow you to interpret it freely?

I don’t feel any constrains because I don’t consider myself a black metal musician. I just write the music I want to write and play, and that seems to fit the black metal genre more than others. I never try to make music which deliberately fits into any category

Is the desire to ‘not sound like anyone else’ been a conscious decision, or just how the music of Hex Morbidity took its course? A lot of musicians try to create their own unique identity, but fail to do so. Is it difficult to be unique in this modern world of oversaturation?

I would say it is a somewhat conscious decision to sound different, because I am sick of hearing bands who do nothing new. Originality in this day and age is very hard though, and obviously Hex Morbidity is not creating a new genre or anything like that, but I feel that my music has it’s own sound and it’s own identity and I’m happy with that.I wouldn’t be satisfied by just copying other people’s style, whereas some people are. I hope to develop aesthetics further when it comes to live shows.

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Where is the next path for Hex Morbidity, more music, live performances?

My main goal now is to finish the live line-up and play some shows and then record some more material, but I’d like to work with a producer next time to get a new creative input.

How is your local scene, is there a thirst for black metal in particular?

I’ve recently moved to London, so yes the black metal scene is very good. Not a lot of the bands are from here, but they all travel from across England to play here and there are good gigs on all the time and a couple of promoters who do a great job putting on good nights.

Who are the best black metal bands frpm the UK in your experience? Are there any up and comers we need to keep an eye on?
 
Live the best bands are Ethereal, Eastern Front and Stahlsarg, but these aren’t my favourites to listen to on record. For my money, Old Corpse has been the most exciting band in the British underground for years and they still are.
Will the development of Hex Morbidity as a live entity affect the song writing? Is it likely to become a full band for studio purposes as well as as a live prospect?
On first thoughts I wanted to still write everything myself, but the guitarist who has unofficially joined (announcement coming soon) has given me some ideas to work with already so I would say I am more open to collaboration. I don’t think Hex will ever become the kind of band that writes songs by jamming in the rehearsal room though. In terms of studio work I still like to play everything myself but I’m sure there are drummers out there who would do a better job recording than me. If a guitarist has written a solo or a keyboardist an intro, I think it adds more flavour to the music if they play it themselves too.
Be sure to get yourselves a copy of Hex Morbidity’s excellent self titled EP now, available at their Bandcamp page below.

https://hexmorbidity.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HexMorbidity/

For those who don’t know Abaddon, you are missing out on one of India’s newest and most impressive bands. You can read my review of their debut EP ‘Son of Hell here: https://thoseonceloyal.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/review-abaddon-son-of-hell/

I spoke to rhythm guitarist Naag Bharath at length about ‘Son of Hell’, who they take influence from and how they fit in with the emerging Indian metal scene. We ended up in a long conversation about bands we both like and recommendations for us both to check out. He’s a cool guy, and even disappeared halfway through to go and support a local band who I’ve since been told to check out. A true metal supporter!

Abaddon - Logo

So how long have Abaddon been in existence?

NB: For a little over 3 years, we just finished 3 years last December.

What was the idea behind the band, was it just to play music or is there a message to be sent?

NB: At the roots it’s basically our love for the music and how it has helped us and connected to us that led us to form the band, so that we can keep playing the music we love. It also became a way for us to put out all our thoughts and frustrations with all the shit going on around.So it’s both, to play metal and send across our message with it too.

India seems to be churning out these high quality bands with a lot of anger at the moment. Are there a lot of problems there?

NB: Of course, there are a lot of problems here. Religious hypocrites, sleazy politicians, governments looting away our money, stupid laws limiting recreation etc. I guess all these are not very different from the problems in other places, its just what we as humans have become. Metal personally helps give the extra aggression needed to go on everyday, because the modern “Bollywood” music here just doesn’t do the job!

Metal is still really underground in India isn’t it? Are there any big bands, even hard rock, or is it all very much hidden from society?

NB: Yeah, its still underground here, although there have been bands here from the late 80s/early 90s and maybe even earlier. There are many big metal bands here, a lot of them even having played outside India. And there are other non-metal bands which are pretty popular too, it’s mostly Rock, fusion and that kind of stuff which can get some popularity. And there are some rock bands who are actually really good at what they do and are pretty popular too.

Your brand of thrash is obviously a more underground sound. Who are your main influences?

NB: We are mainly influenced by Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slayer, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Overkill, Kreator, Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Sodom, Testament etc

Yeah, there’s definitely an early Iron Maiden sound about your stuff. What was the recording like for Son of Hell?

NB: The recording was done in one full day, around 8 to 9 hours. It was the first time we ever got into a studio and actually recorded anything, so it was a good experience. It was also frustrating at times when one of us fucked up in between and we had to start recording all the way from the top again, as this was basically a live recording. But we did have fun recording this.

Naag went off at this point to see Threidony, a local thrash band, and we picked it up again the next day:

Hey man. How was the gig?

NB: The gig was awesome man! Good sound, good music and the place was packed!

Excellent. So there must be a good following for metal in India. Are there a lot of gig opportunities?

NB: Yeah, there is a good following all around but most of it is from the big cities and metros. It would be very rare to find a metalhead in a small town because there might not be much exposure. There are a fair amount of gigs that keep happening, things are actually getting better by the day. But there are also dry spells sometimes

It’s obviously a very fertile scene. Every time I hear of a new band, I’m straight in there. There’s a passion for metal in India that I love. Have you got more material in the pipeline? What’s next for Abaddon?

NB: Definitely! And all the local bands here who’ve been around from a long time, when the scene wasn’t as fertile as it is now, have played a very important role. We have no new material yet, although we are working on writing new stuff.

Is it more of the same or is your sound evolving in anyway?

NB: Too early to say right now because we haven’t jammed or worked on it yet. But it could evolve a bit and we look forward to something more improvised and better than what we have done.

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How has the reaction been to Son of Hell? I’ve been spinning it a lot recently.

NB: We’ve had a pretty good reaction so far. We’ve heard some good things about it and gotten some constructive feedback too! Really nice to know you liked our music. What did you like best about it and what did you not like about it?

I think it’s got a really honest feel about it, an old school vibe. I mean my review was glowing like, but I mean it. I think the opener is strong, and I also really enjoy Bullet Eye.

NB: Considering our influences and ideas, we’ve worked on getting an old school vibe on it. Thank you for the feedback!

And there you have it. Our conversation then delved into bands from India that I should listen to, and bands that I know that Naag should listen to etc. The band are great, and deserve your support. ‘Son of Hell’ is available here: http://tometal.com/store/cds/abaddon-india-son-of-hell-cd/

 

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Greek death metallers Abyssus have dropped their debut record ‘Into the Abyss’ and it is a fine slab of Floridian death metal worship. I spoke with vocalist Kostas Analytis about death metal, history and economic crises.

Tell us a little bit about how Abyssus got started?

The band formed back in 2011 by me as an one-man band with guests and session musicians. After the release of “MONARCH TO THE KINGDOM OF THE DEAD” debut E.P., Panos “s.k.” Gkourmpaliotis (guitars) joined the band. It was about time for the group to have a solid and full-time line-up. Through many members arrivals and departures the band played some live shows and recorded few split releases (“NO LIFE IN THE COFFIN” with legendary NOCTURNAL VOMIT in 2013, “FROM THE ABYSS RAISED THE MORBID” with veterans MORBIDER in 2014 and “OBSCURE” with SLAKTGRAV in 2014). The songs included in the split with MORBIDER were remixed and re-mastered to be released as a tape – E.P. called “SUMMON THE DEAD”. At last Kostas Ragiadakos (bass) joined the band and all together entered the studio for releasing “INTO THE ABYSS”.

How do you see Abyssus as part of the Greek scene? It’s always seemed like more of an esoteric set up, what with Septicflesh and Rotting Christ, yet your death metal seems relatively straight forward?

Actually, the underground scene here in Greece is on fire, in all the genres of metal! Too many releases, too many great albums! Well, bands like SEPTIC FLESH and ROTTING CHRIST has opened the doors for Greek metal as they became succesful and popular and we should thank them for that, all the bands here in Greece. I don’t really like the Septicflesh style and as for Rotting Christ, they’re a band from which I really adore some old albums!

So where do Abyssus’s main influences come? I hear a lot of Obituary in your sound.

I will say that maybe its my voice that reminds more Van Drunen, Tardy and the singer of Viogression, the more sludging death metal vocals. Of course Obituary is a great influence but also Death, Asphyx, Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Autopsy, all those legendary bands that born and serve the genre with respect and passion!

Abyssus - Photo

Has there been a renaissance in death metal recently? There’s a huge amount of quality bands coming out of the woodwork with great records

I see the stream of great releases coming out one after another and I honestly like it as the classic death metal sound was about extinct. I feel sorry but I don’t really enjoy the brutal death metal things, slam, guttural vocals… I respect them but its not death metal to my ears, not as death metal must be played!

Does the band have a concept behind the artwork or lyrics?

For the artwork it is said and agreed in the band that it must always been in the death metal way, painted inspired and dedicated to the gold death metal age 1988-1995! We use to cooperate with some great artists such as Cesar Valladares who is responsible for many new releases in death metal, Costin Chioreanu who works with bands such as Grave, At the Gates and many more and of course Aggeliki Koliaki who is always there for us offering her great art!

For the lyrics now, as all the lyrics is my work, is not a main concept but I won’t write something for zombies and the undead. Such themes inspire me with other bands I am in, such as Cryptic Realms. In Abyssus I write for war, as a watcher of the pain and terror it causes, for social oppression, for the end of the world but also for historical events or personalities. so in this album “Enthrone the Insane” was inspired by the Roman emperor Nero (37-68 A.C.) “Across the Fields of Death” was inspired by the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava (Crimean War) between France and Great Britain against Russia (October 25th, 1854) “Visions of Eternal Pain” was inspired by the paranoid bombing of Piraeus from the allies (January 11th, 1944).

Is history an important influence then? I mean Greece has obviously one of the worlds most ancient cultures, is that part and parcel of what Abyssus is about?

Although I really love reading Greek history, I have to admit that I wouldn’t like to be based on such concept except from special occasions. Its very easy to be judged for ethnicism and such things and believe me we are far out of such things.

Abyssus - Into the Abyss

You raise a good point; does being a Greek metal band mean people have certain perceptions you have to break? I mean sometimes you find if one band from any particular country sounds a particularly way, all are expected to be similar

Yes I understand your question, like the Gothenburg scene with all those melodic “death metal” bands. Well, I don’t believe such thing occurs here in Greece. Of course for black metal Rotting Christ was more than just an influence but is the only example. In the Greek death metal scene that is not happening, there are too many bands with different sounds, listen to our friends Necrorgasm, Alter Self, Blessed by Perversion, The Psalm… totally different groups in every sector, production, attitude etc.

That’s good, sounds like the scene is very healthy. Have the economic problems in Greece recently made it hard for bands? Do less people come to live shows, buy records etc?

The economic crisis is binding our life in every single moment of our daily race and day by day the things became worse. Unemployment, capital controls…total decline. That scenery has affected the scene also, difficult to record a new release, difficult to organize or go to live shows etc. But we are still trying to do our best and maybe due to those problems the scene will become more strong and united.

Do a lot of bigger metal bands come to Greece often? Is there the opportunities for support slots, tours etc?

Well the cost for a band when its on European tour to come to Greece then go for example to Switzerland, its much bigger due to the position of Greece in the world map. and for Greek bands to go abroad, that’s why Suicidal Angels moved to Germany permanently. Well, there is always opportunities but most of all its P.R., I hope we soon have the chance as ABYSSUS to open for a big band. with my other band Soulskinner last Wednesday, we were the opening act for GRAVE/MALEVOLENT CREATION, Panos, the guitarist in the past has opened for MAYHEM with an old band which was involved in.

What’s the next stage of Abyssus? How has the feedback been on Into the Abyss? Are there more records or EPs in the pipeline?

Well, the basic is to have as much income we can from INTO THE ABYSS for getting as fast as we can in the studio for the next album! The feedback is great, from fans and from zines and our label is very pleased for the release. Very soon, the album will be released on tape and a split-tape with SLAUGHTERDAY (gr) will be released too, before 2016. With the new year, a compilation called “ONCE ENTOMBED” will be released and will contain everything we have ever recorded until ‘INTO THE ABYSS”, released and unreleased. Also a split tape with BLESSED BY PERVESION and around March a four way split surprise on 7”!

So are tapes the new fashion or is there good reason to use them?

I really love them! I was raised up with tape trading and I don’t really appreciate the download things… of course YouTube and Bandcamp help us to get in touch with new bands but these must be just a tool. I buy albums as much as I can in any form and special underground things. I don’t know if it is fashion but we do it with full love and respect to this form and for the newcomers to learn.

Is there anything else you want to add for people who maybe don’t know you or for your supporters?

I just have to invite people a trip in death metal with “Into the Abyss”, give the album the opportunity and I am sure they won’t regret it. For the supporters that we will do everything to play live shows into Greece and if it could be possible to travel abroad! We are already composing new stuff and there will be no one left unhappy!

 

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Heathen Beast have become, for me, a big favourite. This year’s ‘Trident’ release collects together their three EPs into a single CD release, and you can watch their progression from raw black metal act into something more sophisticated and more socially aware. I spoke to Carvaka Samkhya about how Heathen Beast came about, their message and how their Indian heritage affects the band’s output.

Tell us a little bit about Heathen Beast, the influences and concept behind it

CS: We are a collective from India and we are atheistic in nature.We believe in no god and no religion and we sing about things that are relevant to our country and culture. Musically we try and bring in more Indian sounds because it’s who we are. The concept is to make great music and spread a meaningful message, which is religion is the root cause of all evil. We remain anonymous.

Is it more difficult to be an atheistic band in a country like India? The West has kind of lost their dominant respect for religion these days, but spirituality and religion is still very important in your country

CS: Not really because in India metal is very underground and unless it’s into mainstream culture no one will care.

It’s just because you’ve kept your anonymity, I assumed your lyrical themes may have caused you problems. I take it there is a lot of religious collisions in India? I’ve read a lot about issues in Kashmir etc

CS: No it’s because we are a metal band and no one cares the uneducated masses of this country have no interest in metal and our kind of music isn’t plastered in the papers but yes if tomorrow some paper printed our stuff on their front page it would be a problem. There is a lot of religious clashes in India. Many times things are happening in small towns and villages and they don’t even get reported also at times the media will sensationalize a small incident and give it a communal edge. Politicians are famous for doing that too.

Yeah I’ve been reading about Modi and his hardline Hindu government. Even though you’re atheistic, does the spiritual history of India affect how you write? You use native instrumentation and discuss cultural events, is it important that Heathen Beast still be seen as part of Indian culture? In the same way that Norwegian pagan bands celebrate their own country’s history while railing against the crimes of religion?

CS: yes for us it made no sense to copy the Norwegians. We of course took our inspiration fro the Norwegian greats of black metal because that inspired us musically but it make no sense to copy them stylistically or lyrically even.

Where do the musical influences for Heathen Beast come from? Which bands were key reference points when you started?

CS: Emperor, Darkthrone, Immortal, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir, Old Man’s Child, Mayhem. But it is life and our country that inspires us, our hatred for religion and the concept of god.

Heathen Beast - Trident

After I reviewed Trident, I went straight online and ordered a copy. Have you had a lot of good feedback both at home and further afield?

CS: thank you so much. whatever feedback we have got has been great so far. We don’t play live and it’s not so easy to spread your music these days but for us we are okay with going slow and steady. We anyway release our material slow and in 3 song EP formats. There are too many bands right now and everyone is just fighting for the attention of the fans.

Yeah there’s a lot of over saturation in all types of metal, and even if your material is great you can still get lost in the mix. There’s a lot of great metal coming out of India at the moment, has there been a catalyst for that recently, or has it always been there?

CS: No since actually in the late 80s and early 90s there were some bands like Postmark, Millennium and Dying Embrace who had releases and in fact Millennium was even having a video on MTV at that time. Then in the late 90s and early 2000s bands like Threnody, Mindsnare, Kryptos, Demonic Resurrection, PDV, Acrid Semblance and all these bands started playing and spearheading the movement of original music when the audience was wanting covers. The by the time of say 2005-2008 most bands were writing material from the start itself. So around 2010 we formed and it was natural to write our own music.

Demonic Resurrection were the first band I really heard from India. Has their success brought more of a spotlight on music from your area of the world do you think?

CS: maybe a little bit, they are a very big band, they have played lots of shows in Europe, them and also Kryptos and now even Gutslit. So I think all these bands touring is definitely bringing some attention to the scene

Where do you see the scene in India heading? Is it going to move from strength to strength, or is this ‘burn fast burn bright’ at the moment? Bands like yours have the quality to stay in people’s minds, but what of others?

CS: like every single scene in the world there are good bands and not so good bands. So in India as the scene gets more and more crowded bands will work harder and write better music to stand out so it will become good. So we think it will only get more amazing!

You have a lot of great bands there already, is there any that haven’t got much attention yet that the Killchain should investigate?

There are so many! I think most of them are now signing up with Kunal (Transcending Obscurity label head) so he will send you their stuff!

Haha yeah he sends me a lot. Well thanks a lot for doing this with me, is there anything else you want to add or say?

just want to say thank you to all those who support us and those who like our music. Hailz!!! \m/

Aberdonian one man black/speed metaller Hellripper is my new favourite band. Not in a long time have I heard a demo recording that I’ve kept coming back to as much as this. Channelling vintage Sodom, what’s not to like? I chatted with James McBain, the Hellripper himself, to find out what goes into the process behind this year’s sleeper hit.
Tell us a little bit about the formation of Hellripper, what was the genesis of it?
I started Hellripper simply because I couldn’t find other musicians in my area that were interested in playing this kind of music. I had the idea to do this back in 2012 or so and wrote some songs back then but I never got around to actually releasing anything until just recently.

What’s your history in metal, what got you into it in the first place?

I think the first “proper” metal band I heard and loved was Iron Maiden which must have been when I was about 10 or something. It was when I saw the video for ‘Run to the Hills’ on TV which prompted me to buy ‘The Number of the Beast’ and ‘Powerslave’. Soon after this, I discovered thrash metal and recall buying ‘Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?’ and ‘…And Justice For All’, both of which are still big influences on me.

Hellripper is clearly influenced by the 80s speed/black metal crossovers like Sodom and early Bathory, but which other bands are important to Hellripper’s sound?

 Sodom and Bathory are definite influences on the sound I am going for. Sabbat from Japan are also a very big influence on the sound. Similar old-school bands such as the obvious Venom and Motorhead play a big part on how the music sounds. The influences are not limited to the old-school though as bands such as Midnight and Enforcer are favourites of mine. Hardcore punk, crust and thrash metal are also a big part of Hellripper’s sound.

I reviewed the Manifestation of Evil, your debut EP, a while back here at The Killchain, how has it been received in the general scene? Personally I thought it was fucking killer.

Thanks for the positive words on the EP, I am glad you enjoy it! From what I have seen so far, the response has been very positive which I am of course very pleased about!
Where do you get your lyrical inspiration from?
The whole speed/thrash metal thing lends itself well to horror imagery so I tend to write things in that vein. The lyrics usually come from stuff I have read or have seen on TV etc. I usually write the music first, then think of a fitting title to the music and then write lyrics based on the title.
How is your local scene, are there a lot of bands around there for gigs?
The local scene in Aberdeen at the moment is very good and still it is constantly improving. There are a variety of genres represented by the scene here from punk to doom to powerviolence and there are some excellent bands of all styles. The great thing about the metal and punk scene in Aberdeen is that gigs often do not just stick to having one style of music represented. For example, you could have a punk band, a death metal band and a sludge band playing at the same gig which for a fan of all of the genres like I am is brilliant.

What’s the next step for Hellripper? I hear you have a split coming up, any information you can give us on that?

At the moment I have 2 splits planned, however I don’t want to say anything about these until they are confirmed. For these planned splits, 4 new songs have been written as well as a cover song which if these splits do not go ahead will be released anyway in some other form. I currently have a few more songs written that will be released at some point whether they be as part of an EP or as part of a split etc. I am also currently in the middle of the writing process for the first album.
You covered Rats of Reality’s song ‘Armed with the End’ recently, is the hardcore/crust punk scene something that influences your style?
I am also a part of Rats of Reality so the Hellripper version ‘Armed With the End’ is just a slight reworking of the song that was released on the first Rats of Reality EP. I have always felt that song would fit Hellripper’s style and thought it would be a fun idea to “cover” it in a slightly thrashier/blackened vein. To answer your question, yes hardcore and crust are a big part of my style and that probably shows more in Rats of Reality, however bands such as Discharge, (newer) Darkthrone, Amebix and Anti Cimex are huge influences on the style of Hellripper and I guess that’s where some of the simplicity comes from.

Is there a chance we’ll be getting to see Hellripper on the stage sometime soon or is it to be a studio project?

I am hoping to take Hellripper to the stage in the future. I have been talking with a few friends who may be interested in being part of it, however for the moment it is still a studio project.

Finally, if you have anything else to add in here, feel free! Thanks for talking to us

Thanks for taking the time to listen to the EP! Like the Facebook page for updates and check out ‘The Manifestation of Evil’ on bandcamp. http://www.facebook.com/Hellripper1 http://www.hellripper.bandcamp.com

Chiral became a great discovery for me last year. I really got into their Abisso demo thanks to Steve at Sixsixsix Music recommending it to me, and have since followed them very closely. Mainman Teo has graciously answered some of my questions about the band, metal in general and the Italian scene.

Hi Teo, thanks for doing this for me!

Hey Sandy, it’s a pleasure to be interviewed by you.

What’s your history in the metal scene? Which bands got you really interested?

Oh, I see we start nicely. That’s the first time that someone asks me these questions.
So, if I can say that I have a real history in the metal scene probably everything started the first time I listened to Opeth’s ‘Master’s Apprentices’. It was probably 2006, when I was 15. At that time I had never heard nothing like growls and double kick drums. I was definitely struck by them. And after that my interest in extreme metal music grew exponentially…and is still growing impressively, and it probably won’t never stop!

So I said Opeth caught me at the very beginning. But other bands that helped me get inside the extreme metal world were: Shape of Despair, Cynic, Death, Bloodbath and The Black Dahlia Murder.

Where did the genesis for Chiral come from?

I started with Chiral in February 2014 when I released my demo “Winter Eternal”. All the tracks in the demo were recorded between October and December 2013, but at that time I wasn’t sure what I was gonna do with these recordings, not yet. And the name takes inspiration from the TV series “Breaking Bad”.

What is the main lyrical and musical inspirations behind Chiral?

Lyrically I’m inspired mostly by my life, my fears and my thoughts. Musically I’ve wide inspirations. They go from classic Swedish death metal to atmospheric black metal, from electronic music to fusion. But my major influences probably are Opeth, Wolves In The Throne Room, The Pat Metheny Group, Dissection and Porcupine Tree (early years).

You’re a one man project, does that make life easier or harder as a recording artist?
Well, of course it could be harder when you have to record each and every part on your own. But you know what, I’m happy this way because I have the ultimate freedom to work over my music. And if I do something good it’s my credit, but in the case I do shitty things well, there’s no one to blame but me.

I’ve been a big fan of yours since your Abisso demo came out, has your songwriting methods changed since your original demo? It’s a lot different from your 20 minute track from your HaatE split?

I won’t say that my songwriting method has changed. You know, I don’t have a precise “modus operandi”, I like working in different ways each time.
For example, Abisso was written and recorded entirely before I got any lyrics. All the music were already stuck into my brain, and when it came to record the instruments I knew already what to do, precisely. Then I wrote the lyrics afterwards, shaping them to the music. For example “Everblack Fields of Nightside”, the one included in the split with HaatE, things have been quite different. I started working on a single synth riff, and I built the whole track from there.
I was recording each riff and part when it came to my mind. It has been a sort of work in progress. Nothing were set in stone and every idea I had could be a good point to work on and elaborate new ideas, riffs, melodies and loops. And yes, there’re a lot of loops and samples in that song.

You’re rereleasing Abisso with two new tracks, tell us about that, what’s the newer material like?
Yes, Abisso it’s going to be out with two new songs. The first one, called “Atto Finale: Di Notte, Cielo e Solitudine” it’s going to be the final act of the Abisso concept. A song I left behind in the original tracklist of the demo, but I decided to include in this ultimate release because, you know, I needed a sense of closure towards this album. That track is a long mid-paced suite. With a lot of synth stuff, and it could kind of remind you the track I included in the split with HaatE.

The other one is a bonus track, and it has nothing to do with the album concept. This song is called “Death’s Dominion” and I released it as a digital-only single on my Bandcamp page. (https://chiral27.bandcamp.com/track/deaths-dominion) This song has been written in the very beginning of 2014, when I was still working on my first demo “Winter Eternal”. This is my personal tribute to the amazing Swedish death metal scene.

Your split with HaatE was a meeting of two very distinctive styles, is the whole dark ambient scene something you’re a fan of?

Honestly? No I’m not. Hahaha
I mean, I like some ambient stuff and I love certain ambient releases, but most of them really bore me. You know, too often the “ambient” label is simply an excuse to throw away awful and senseless music, this is just my opinion of course. Otherwise some ambient releases are simply unbelievable. Like some Solar Fields’ works, latest Wolves in The Throne Room album and the ambient records crafted by Ulver or Lustre for example. Yeah, that’s the ambient music I’m a fan of.

Are there any good underground Italian bands that the rest of us should know about?
I’m not listening to many Italian acts these days, but if you ask for a suggestion and you want to know a bunch of bands from Italy, these are my favourites. The ones you must know.
– Chaos Plague (amazing prog death metal, they’re going to release their first full-length).
– Earth And Pillars (a brand new act that has crafted a rather good atmospheric black metal record).
– Solitude Project (depressive black rock/metal, check their split with Vita Odiosa).
– Korrigans (folk/black metal, their “Ferocior Ad Rebellandum” album is astonishing).
– Monumentum (you probably already know this one, a pillar of Italian dark music).
– Ornaments (instrumental sludge/doom, probably my fav Italian band).

Ok, that’s it. Hope I suggested you something you would enjoy.

When you’re not doing metal, what do you like doing in your spare time?
Well, more than a half of my day is spent working. I work as lathe turner. In my free time I like watching movies, hiking and drinking beer with friends. Especially I love dark beers. And of course I also listen to tons of music.

You recently did a kick ass cover of Emperor’s Toward the Patheon for a cover compilation. Will it see the light of day sometime soon?
Thanks, yes I did that cover and I enjoyed a lot recording that amazing Emperor’s masterpiece. But unfortunately I think that this compilation thing just failed. I don’t know how and why but the person who was arranging the comp just…disappeared. That’s a shame.

You are part of The Somber Lane Blog, tell me how that came about?

Yes, I started “The Somber Lane” with my fellow Andrea “Rizzo” who shares with me a great passion for music. We both love discover underground artists and bands and share them with our friends. So we decided to start this little blog to do so.

We try to be very professional in running “The Somber Lane” because we firmly think that this is the only way we can emerge amongst a ton of other blogs and also as a form of respect towards the artists we get in touch with.

So, if you feel to take a look at our small “somber” blog, follow this link then: https://somberlanemusic.wordpress.com/

Finally, please use this space to plug your band, your blog or anything else you want!
Ok, thanks. So, if anyone would like to follow my projects these are the main links you have to reach out:
Chiral website: http://chiralitaly.wix.com/chiral
Chiral Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChiralItaly
Chiral Bandcamp: https://chiral27.bandcamp.com

The Somber Lane blog: https://somberlanemusic.wordpress.com/

Cheers man, appreciate your time!
Thanks a lot Sandy, and great work with your blog!

Hey Matt, thanks for finding time to talk with us here at the Killchain. First of all, what is the overriding message behind Witchclan and their music?

Hey Sandy. Thanks for having me. Okay so the main message behind Witchclan is basically to think for yourself and not to fall into the trap of following an organised religion. Religion is the root of all evil, a world without it would be a far better world. All the lyrics are really just anti-religion.

What’s your background in metal, either listening to or playing?

I got into the heavier side of music at a young age in 1987 when I discovered Guns n’ Roses. That was a life changer for me as a young lad, and it quickly led onto discovering Alice Cooper, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden… I then got into Thrash, bands like Nuclear Assault and Metallica but it wasn’t until I bought Hell Awaits in 1989 that the whole game changed for me. From that point it was always about what I could find next that was heavier and faster. In 1991 I discovered Bolt Thrower and got really into death metal. That was my thing for quite some time until I came across Samael’s ‘Worship Him’ and Darkthrone’s ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’. Black metal felt so much colder and atmospheric, a totally different ball game to the more pollished death metal I’d been used to.

I joined Witchclan in 1993 on vocals and we released two demo tapes that year. There were a load of line up changes and lots happened over the next couple of years and the band split in 1995.

That same year I formed a Punk band called Meg doing vocals and guitar but the band split up the following year. I didn’t play in any other bands for the next 15 or so years until I reformed Witchclan in 2009 as a solo project. I released a demo tape in 2010 called ‘Descend Into Darkness’ and then another demo tape the following year which led onto the debut album ‘Misanthropist’ which was released through Darkness Shade Records here in the UK.

In 2012 I formed a new solo band called Deadman’s Blood which is more of a death metal band, in the style of the late 80’s and early 90’s Swedish scene. I released a demo CD called ‘Tales From The Darkside’. This CD got the attention of Kam Lee (Bone Gnawer, ex-Massacre etc) and he played both the bands regularly on his radio show. He ended up doing guest vocals along with Mike Browning (After Death, ex-Morbid Angel etc) on the 2012 CD release ‘Product of a Deranged Mind’.

Last year saw the release of the new Witchclan album ‘The Dark Binding’ which was released on Darkness Shade Records here in the UK and Elvester Records in the U.S That ‘s pretty much my musical history to date.

Which bands provide the main influences for Witchclan’s style? I sense some classic metal underneath the blackness.

Well you’d be right about the classic metal influence, but it’s not actually intentional. I listen to loads of different stuff, and subconsciously I suppose a lot of that rubs of on the style of writing. There’s a lot of galloping style riffs on both albums, which nod in the direction of traditional heavy metal and some early thrash.
I suppose the main bands that are an obvious influence on my writing style would be early Bathory, old Burzum, old Darkthrone and Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult.

What are your main lyrical themes on ‘The Dark Binding’?

This time around I actually wrote a lot of lyrics heavily based on the Necronomicon. Although I wouldn’t consider it a concept album as such, it does kind of tell the story of a young female Occultist who goes deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole until she is ultmately consumed by the darkness and she goes insane. It’s an interesting story – she begins well but it goes down hill fast.

What are the best and worst parts of being a solo artist behind a project like Witchclan?

There are no worst parts. Being the only member means that I have full control over everything – even down to the art and logo design, the whole lot is my own creation. I can record when I want, I can practice when I want and there’s nobody to argue with. It’s a long process but the end result is worth it. I make the music I would want to listen to as well – so for me it’s the perfect set up.
I have two children, a wife and a full time job as well as a few other responsibilites so I have the fit the bands around my personal life, not the other way around.

Are there any future plans to make Witchclan more of a band capable of touring, or is it likely to remain a studio based project for the foreseeable future?

It will alwasy be a one man studio band. That will never change, for the reasons I mentioned a moment ago and also the fact that I don’t work well with other people. I’m a control freak and I have to have everything done my way. It’s my way or not at all. I’m selfish about the band, but it’s my creation so I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone.

How hard is it for a one man metal band to stand out in the modern underground scene? Have you experienced problems with being noticed and/or being respected?

Not really, if anything I think I’ve got more respect because of the fact that I do everything on the album – even the mixing and production. It’s a long hard process and I think people recognise and appreciate that.
As far as standing out goes – the metal scene of today is so saturated with bands everywhere that it’s always going to be hard not to miss something good. I dare say there are loads of good bands out there that I’ve never heard of, just like loads of people will never have heard about Witchclan or Deadman’s Blood.

When can we expect the next release from Witchclan, and what is it likely to be?

Well I think there’s going to be an exclusive song on a split release with a couple of other UK bands like Heaven Abhorred and Hex Morbidity – that will be out sometime this year. Then as far as a new album goes, I will be concentrating on something new from Deadman’s Blood this year and then Witchclan will come the following year. I try to do one band one year, and the other one the year after so that I keep everything consistant and relevant.

Finally, thanks for talking to us and do you have any recommendations for bands for us to check out here at the Killchain?

Thanks Sandy. I suppose that some of the newer bands worth checking out would be Heaven Abhorred, Hex Morbidity, Old Corpse Road and also a great Thrash band from Norway called Tonic Breed.
Thanks again for the interview. The Dark Binding is available now via http://www.witchclan.co.uk

Wow. I mean wow. I hoped this day would come, that my writing got me the chance to speak to someone that I respect as an artist and am a big fan of musically but I didn’t really think it would. I leapt at the chance to interview Sami Albert Hynninen, a man whose rich and iconic voice adorned one of my top ten favourite doom records of all time, ‘II: Crush the Insects;’. Thank you Sleeping Shaman for affording me this privilege. I just hope I did it justice.

Originally posted here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/interviews/r-z/sami-albert-hynninen-sandy-williamson-quizzes-the-opium-warlord/

Hey man, thanks for giving us the time to speak to you, and personally I’m honoured to interview you as I was and still am a huge Reverend Bizarre fan! First off, what are Opium Warlords up to at the moment?

Hello Sandy! Thanks for having me here! At the moment I am still doing the promotional work – meaning these interviews – for Taste My Sword Of Understanding, but the next album is constantly in my thoughts.

Is there new material in the pipeline after this new record, or will there be a break? I know some bands can be hyper productive!

We have already been working on the next Opium Warlords album, but because of all the other things, which have kept me occupied, it has been ”sleeping” for a while. I hope to return to it when the winter comes, and when I am, at least partially, done with some other projects; Spiritus Mortis album, Tähtiportti album, and Azrael Rising compilation.

I know exactly how the next SIX Opium Warlords albums will be. All the music, and lyrics have been written, and also sleeve designs are clear in my mind. Actually, even after these six records, I have many others ready to go. So, there will be no time for breaks! But, as I suffered from severe burn out for many years, I now try to learn to take some things bit more easy, and to get some rest when ever I can. I was very close to being institutionalized, but that was also because of some other troubles.

If it sounds strange that I have so many albums just waiting to be recorded, I would like to point out, that it was like this with Reverend Bizarre also. I have never been in a situation of ”what will I do now?”.

Your newest release ‘Taste My Sword of Understanding’ is almost the most accessible record that Opium Warlords have done, the term being relative of course. Did that come naturally or was it a deliberate direction?

I agree! This is almost as soft and smooth, and conventional, as it will get with Opium Warlords.

Already when we did the debut album in 2009, I knew that Taste My Sword Of Understanding would follow it – and it was recorded in 2010! – but then, because of certain things, We Meditate Under The Pussy In The Sky came out of the blue in between. Otherwise I have been following the original plan. I have in my mind a much longer continuation of records, which together build a larger creation – so there is an exact place for each record to appear.

This may sound like a deliberate business type of thing, but actually it is all very natural, and strictly bound to the artistic construction. I just happen to have all of this material, and very clear vision of everything. It won’t follow any easy to listen – hard to get – easy to listen – hard to get -pattern, but I do try to help the audience a little bit to go through all of this music, so these more listener-friendly records will be placed every now and then to the discography. I do not have any motivation to try to make things as hard as possible for the audience, like I maybe sometimes did with some other bands.

Of  course during these past long years, some of the songs, and records, have shifted places, and some material has been added or dropped out, but basically the plan is rather strict.

Taste My Sword… is very different from what you’ve done with Reverend Bizarre in the past, was that a conscious decision to step away from what you were known for, to break out of a comfort zone?

This ”different” material existed already before Reverend Bizarre. It has been with me all these years, but Reverend Bizarre – which originally was just a side-project, to all the avantgarde and crossover stuff I was doing in general, – became so big, that it took over everything else, consuming all of my time. Not until I started The Puritan in 2006, I was able to do these different things again. Now with Opium Warlords I have, in many ways, returned to what I started in the early 90′s.

But I am never on a comfort zone! I always go forward with everything. It was like this also with Reverend Bizarre. We did not make the things easy for us.

Opium Warlords seem to take influence from so many places; be it epic doom, ambient or noise, even elements of black metal. Which bands have cast the longest shadow over ‘Taste My Sword’?

I do not think that Opium Warlords is clearly connected to anything. It is just music that I have kept hearing inside of my mind. It goes deeply into my own life; especially memories of my childhood, and things like that. Of course you can hear elements of black metal, ambient, and so on, but I do not have any particular artists that I would really try to follow when working with Opium Warlords. Quite opposite! Sometimes I wish we would have some references in the studio, to make few things bit easier, but we have none.

But when it comes to my love for minimalism and repetition – two key elements in my music – I am able to give you a few names. Those who, one at a time, introduced me deeper and deeper to that world, were Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Death Trip, Circle, Godflesh, Arvo Pärt, Helmet, The Wedding Present, Bauhaus, Joy Division, Tony Conrad, Saint Vitus, NON, and also the Sisters of Mercy. Bit later my passion became more full with Burzum, Skullflower, The Ramones, The Fall, Suicide, DAF, Ildjarn, The Stooges, Loop and Von.

Maybe I forgot something crucial, but here they basically are, and I guess I do somehow ”associate” with these, even when my own music, with its bombastic, or ”epic” – as you say – qualities, and psychedelic rock softness, is quite far from any of them.

Mahavishnu Orchestra, with their repetitive structures, and this certain sound, comes quite close to some of my works, but then again, their very complex solo elements are very far from my slugpaced compositions. One album that also has to be mentioned  here is Coroner’s experimental masterpiece Mental Vortex. Back in 1991, it had a huge impact on my future music to take the turn towards unconventional forms.

When it comes to slowness, which many seem to think to be another main element in my works – I do not necessarily agree, as it is not about slowness, but intensity – I had this taste for slower music already years before I, in the early 90′s, found about the genre ”doom metal”. So, the  idea of slowness did not come to my music originally from actual doom metal, even when it became stronger because of that, but quite contrary, this fascination of mine was the reason for me to get interested in the doom-tradition in the first place.

The whole idea of a genre of bands intentionally playing really slow music, was – especially in the prime years of some really fast stuff – something so surreal and ”fucked up”, that it hit me really hard, while at the same time matching with my taste for  low-speed moments. For similar reasons of ”surrealism” I, much later, got into primitive black metal.

Basically, almost everything that forces me to ask the question ”WHY?”, has something interesting in it. It was already there in my first serious initiations to the music; the cold, almost hostile atmosphere in the pop music of The Human League and Kim Wilde, and the arrogance of W.A.S.P., Venom, Motörhead and  Alice Cooper Group.

‘Taste My Sword…’ is an uncomfortable album in many ways, both in atmosphere and in lyrical content. It comes across as very melancholic in places. What inspired you during the writing?

It is bit hard to say, as I have had this album with me for so long time, and it is already four years since it was recorded.

Almost all of the compositions existed, together as an album, already in 2002, and the lyrics came before and after it, one by one. The only answer I can give, is that the life itself inspired me. Everything in this album is real and true, even when veiled in symbolism and metaphors. I do not write pure fiction. Everything is connected to what I feel, or experience, or see around me. I live a very solitary life, without many social activities, almost completely isolated from the human world. In this solitude I inhabit my own inner world. All my music and lyrics, and art, already exists there. My job is to make it exist to others too, as it is the only way for me to become free of all of this material, which often feels like a burden to me.

The record has many standout moments, particularly the crush of ‘Mount Meru’ and the ritualistic ambience of ‘The Solar Burial’. Is there any song on the album that you particularly enjoy more than the others?

I don’t think it is fair to lift up any song from the entirety they together build, and I do not particularly ”enjoy” my own music – as I never listen to it after the hard work of mixing and mastering is over – but In Melancholy Moonless Acheron is perhaps the ”heaviest” of all of those songs, when it comes to the subject matter, and the essence. It is so ”private” and real that it is almost unbearable to me. I am happy I was able to record it. But then again, I am happy that we were able to finish this whole album!

You haven’t played live for a number of years, but will we get to see Opium Warlords as a live entity someday? Perhaps at something like Roadburn?

We were asked to play at Roadburn after the first album came out, and for sure it would be the best place for Opium Warlords to do the first ever show, but I am afraid my days as a live-musician are over. It is already hard enough for me to deal with all the everyday things, like going out to buy some food. I can’t see myself standing in front of an audience anymore. I do not have any self-confidence left – execept when producing my music, which is something I KNOW I can do!

Then again the last gigs I ever did, were so chaotic, that it almost became dangerous to me, and to all the others too. I am happy I was able to go through them without ending up in a hospital or a jail. Well, actually I kind of ended up in a hospital though, as I had to go and get several anti-rabies injections, and go through electrocardiography tests, and get some new medication, after the last ever trip I made with a band. My health just collapsed!

Because of all of this I had to make  a conscious decision to give up playing gigs. Not that I would be missing those times.

However, I have NOT made a decision of not bringing Opium Warlords ever to the stage though. Maybe some miracle happens, and I become bit better, and find time and money, and interest to put together a live show, but when thinking about it right now, I do not really see it coming. I am happy with forgetting the songs after they have been recorded, and I do not miss playing with other people again.

You’ve been part of many bands over the years, which holds the fondest memories for you? I know for me, I first heard Reverend Bizarre on ‘II: Crush the Insects’ and I was spellbound. ‘The Devil Rides Out’ is still one of my favourite songs.

I am glad to hear that it is your favourite! It is one of  my own favourites in Reverend Bizarre material.

I guess the fondest memories I have of some of the better times with The Candles Burning Blue, Reverend Bizarre’s strange trip to USA, and the final gigs in Europe and Finland, the earliest times with The Puritan, Werwolf Lodge gigs, and now, the studio work with Taste My Sword Of Understanding. There have been great studiosessions with all of the bands I have been in – especially the purifying outbursts with Armanenschaft, Azrael Rising and March 15 – but the good atmosphere of the latest Opium Warlords sessions is completely new thing to me, who have been used to rather rough situations. I am still in control, but my dictatorship, and sadism has become lesser.

Was it surreal getting a number one record in your homeland with a 16 minute track? That would never happen in the UK!

It was surreal to get that number two with Slave of Satan first. I got the phone call of its chart position while walking alone in the woods, close to my mother’s house, checking out the horrible disaster the approaching motorway project had caused to the environment. Hearing those unexpected, unbelievable news, surrounded by that sad landscape of destruction and rape, was like being in a strange dream. It felt really surreal! Slave of Satan is probably the longest top 5 single ever – being exactly as long as a record can officially be to still fall into the category of ”single” – and should have been reported to that Guinness book. I would love to be there with Napalm Death and Manowar!

When Teutonic Witch hit the number one, it did not feel so strange anymore. We were almost used to that, and after those, we started to have chart position with all of our last records. Each of the splits where there in top 10, and So Long Suckers was number six on the album chart, I think, but Finland is a very small country, so the sales were still minimal, and we got no money from all of this extravaganza.

But, yes, it was surreal and funny! For that brief moment we were a poisoned  arrow in the world of the record business, among those household mainstream names.

Does living in Finland or being Finnish bring anything unique to how you write music? There are so many excellent Finnish metal musicians, there must be something in the water!

I am unable to say as I have nothing to compare it with; I have always been a Finnish, living here, but sometimes I wonder how it would have been, if I had been born in New York, or San Francisco, or London, or English countryside, or Berlin, or Tokyo, or living in any of these places right now. If I would have been living in some big city, many things would have been easier for me, as I really do not fit in too well with a small town atmosphere. In a bigger place there would have been more ways for me to fit in, but maybe I would have also become more similar to all the others. Now here in Finland, in this shithole town, I never felt to fit in to anything, and my own inner world grew stonger and stronger. I have always been a loner, and I have been beaten up here many times. I know I am hated, and laughed at. All of this can be heard in my music. My music resonates Lohja.

Now when I am getting bit older, I often feel this strange longing to some other life; why did I end up here, into this life? Why could not I live the life of David Bowie, or Jimmy Page, or Mike Patton. Why can’t I live like Sting, somewhere there in Highgate? I am tired with all of the hardship, and depression, and minimal record sales, and paranoia, and OCD, and everything. But obviously my destiny was to become this sub-marginal underground musician; with those few records once there in the Finnish top ten hah hah! I will never see the places I wanted to see.

Talking about Finland; the cliché is that because of the short summer, and very long, and dark winter – fortunately for me as I am not a summer man –  we would have all of these angry and depressed metal musicians, but then again, most of the Finnish musicians just follow what bands in USA, UK, or Germany have done before them, so I am not sure what is the truth behind all of these myths, and I am not even convinced about the excellency of the Finnish metal musicians. However, we DO have some bands here that really have done something special, something ”Finnish”… Terveet Kädet, Sielun Veljet, Mana Mana, Radiopuhelimet, Circle, early Unholy, Beherit, Noitalinna Huraa!, Nekro-Torso, Tasavallan Presidentti, Smack, Panasonic… and Hurriganes!

Thank you for your time, do you have any final words for our readers?

Thank you for this chance to be here, and greetings to the readers too!!! I hope some of you  out there got curious enough to check out some of my records! In 2014 records have come out with Opium Warlords, Azrael Rising, March 15, Tähtiportti. And more will follow! Take it easy, and take care!

I had the pleasure of interviewing The Wizard from Rhode Island’s heaviest sons, Pilgrim after reviewing their latest record, ‘Void Worship’. Originally published here at the Sleeping Shaman: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/interviews/g-q/pilgrim-sandy-williamson-questions-founding-member-the-wizard/

 

Where did the idea for Pilgrim come together?

I started Pilgrim back in 2011. The original concept of the band was to mix my worship of doom metal with my worship of fantasy games and role-playing. I always felt like the way fantasy was represented in metal was not exactly the way I thought it should be in my head. It started strictly as a recording project, but it quickly turned into a live band when I asked Krolg to play drums.

What is the doom scene in Rhode Island like, and is there anything specific about the state that led you to creating Pilgrim’s style?

There’s not too much doom metal in Rhode Island. There’s us and our friends in Balam and that’s about it, at least for the style of doom that we enjoy. The scene has grown quite a bit though. A doom metal show in Rhode Island is ALWAYS sold out, whether it’s in Providence or not. I’m quite pleased with the scene here now.

I’m not really sure that anything about Rhode Island has influenced our music. I didn’t even know that HP Lovecraft had anything to do with Rhode Island until I was a young adult. If Pilgrim was Rhode Island inspired, all the songs would probably be quahogs and sail boats.

‘Misery Wizard’ was very well regarded when it was released in 2012, did this create pressure for the second record?

There was massive pressure on ourselves to not fuck up the actual recording quality of the record. We were quite unhappy with how our sound came across on the first record and were HELLBENT on making sure that our new record was one of the heaviest things people ever heard in their lives. Krolg and I find the first record to be quite embarrassing now sonically. We can barely listen to it.

Many doom bands can share such similar traits and styles that a new band can become lost in the mix, no matter how good they are. Has it been difficult to ‘breakout’ and become a unique entity?

I don’t think so. Originality and uniqueness is something that we wholeheartedly represent as people. We absolutely loath unoriginal music. It’s such a waste in our eyes. There’s a difference between worship and utter unchecked plagiarism.

Did becoming a duo affect the recording process for the new record?

No. Although we credited Count Elric on bass guitar on the first record, he never actually played on it. I played bass for that record as well. So it was pretty much exactly the same experience tracking wise. The major differences were that we worked very closely and intently on the sonic quality of the record, something that we neglected horribly on the first one.

Onto ‘Void Worship’. There’s something inherently dark about it, an ominous vibe permeates each song. What were the main inspirations for it?

It’s simply our second record. There was no crazy concept or planned goal for this record (other than being heavy and awesome). It’s just a collection of songs, the next chapter in our musical pilgrimage. A lot of the material is actually old material from before Misery Wizard that I recorded, forgot about, and then rediscovered.

The lyrics themes are a bit private, but I think anyone with a keen mind can figure out what the songs are about if they listen closely enough.

Is there any band who inspire your style of playing more than others? I feel that you could be spiritual successors to Cathedral, you have the same eccentric, dragging groove that they had.

Thanks! I think a massive amount of initial inspiration for Pilgrim came from Sleep and Electric Wizard. Electric Wizard warped my fucking mind. That band changed who I am and who I will always be. Quite brutal. Eventually, the mighty Reverend Bizarre became my #1 inspiration as far as the style of doom that I loved. Slow, crawling, epic, expansive, but not cheesy.

You recently played with Mount Salem in Chicago, one of my own new favourite bands. Is there any bands you’ve toured with who you’d recommend people to check out, and is there anyone you’d like to share a stage with?

The best tour we ever did was with Windhand, but everyone knows who they are now! Some extremely excellent bands we’ve played with that I recommend are Druglord, Natur, Balam, Ice Dragon, The Wounded Kings, and Sinister Haze, just to name a few.

We’re really hoping to share the stage with Conan or Bongripper sometime soon.

If you could sell the idea, the concept of Pilgrim in one sentence, what would it be?

Fuck, I can’t. Something about heaviness and wizards, whatever.

Thanks for the interview and please use this space for any final words…

Take drugs, worship Satan, reject reality.

This was originately posted here: http://www.thesleepingshaman.com/interviews/g-q/mount-salem-sandy-williamson-interviews-vocalist-organist-emily-kopplin/

Mount Salem are not just another occult doom band with a female vocalist to add to the growing pile. Their debut record ‘Endless’ is a stunning collaboration between doom and psychedelic rock, and displays a remarkable maturity for a band so new. I got the chance to interview vocalist and organist Emily Kopplin about just how the band came to be the new guiding light in doom. On a personal note, this was a huge honour for me as I’ve found their debut record to be an early contender for my favourite record this year. It’s soulful, epic and beautifully presented.

Hey Emily, thanks for giving us time to interview you. First off, what are the band up to today?

I wish I could say we were up to something exciting, but the four of us will be working our respective jobs today. It’s Friday though so I can’t complain!

Mount Salem were formed in 2012, which dark cosmic forces brought the band together?

We have been friends for a few years, the guys build and ride vintage motorcycles and have a shop together. We’ve all been in bands over the years but never together. They were talking about getting together to jam and were interested in trying different instruments from what they used to play. Kyle (guitar) used to play drums, Cody (drums) used to play guitar, and Mark (bass) also used to play drums. Kyle was originally going to do vocals, but I was sitting in on a practice one day trying to help him write vocal melodies and they just let me do it instead.

Your new EP ‘Endless’ was originally self-released, and is being re-released by Metal Blade, how did that come about?

We originally released ‘Endless’ over a year ago with six songs. It was recorded shortly after we started playing together, before we had even played a live show, and those were the first batch of songs we had written. When Metal Blade approached us and expressed interest in rereleasing it as a full length we were stoked because that was a chance for us to go back in the studio and record two additional tracks. It was nice to have a few new songs to choose from this time around so we added ‘The Tower’. There’s an instrumental track on the album called ‘Mescaline’ that we’d always wanted to expand on and create a full song so we wrote ‘Mescaline II’. It was nice to breathe some new life into the EP and we’re happy that it’s getting more exposure than we could have done with it on our own.

As a metal band, is signing to such a legendary label a dream come true? Does it present you with additional pressure about your forthcoming music?

It’s definitely a huge honour to be welcomed onto the Metal Blade roster alongside some legendary artists. Working with them has been a great experience so far and we’re grateful for all the doors that have opened because of it. I think any pressure we’d feel about recording the next album will be more about pleasing the fans of this current album rather than trying to stack up with our peers.

I reviewed ‘Endless’ for The Sleeping Shaman, and I must tell you, it’s got to have been one of my favourite records of the past few months, who or what were your main inspirations while writing it?

That rules, thanks so much. We’ve all got different tastes in music and I think everyone’s individual influences shine through a little. Mark is typically the one more into the heavy side of things, Kyle and Cody like the bluesy psychedelic aspect, and I like the melodic and dynamic aspects of song writing. We’re all obviously influenced by 70s rock & roll though.

Do you feel that it’ll be difficult to stand out amongst the vast legions of Jex Thoth and The Devil’s Blood clones that have appeared over the past few years? I’m of the opinion that your material is strong and that your probably one of the best vocalists of that style, but what do you think?

Although there are a lot of bands popping up that are playing music in the same vein as us, we don’t really focus on setting ourselves apart. We just focus on writing music that we enjoy jamming and hope other people enjoy listening to. I think part of the reason people like what we do is because you can tell we’re not trying too hard, we write simple songs that get the point across.

What impressed me a lot about ‘Endless’ was it’s ‘less is more’ approach. You guys seem to take a more straightforward approach, and it works so well. The addition of the organ gives you that extra little bit of churchyard occultist feeling, but you use it subtly and sparingly. Was this a conscious decision or did it appear naturally?

Like I said earlier, most of those songs on the album are a display of our first efforts at songwriting together so I think that’s where that raw, basic feel comes from. I didn’t want the use of the organ to be the main focus and come through abrasively in the recordings. I like to use it as more of a complimentary accent to the songs rather than the meat and potatoes.

What are your future plans for Mount Salem? Will we be seeing a debut LP sometime soon, and possibly some more extensive touring now that you have Metal Blade behind you? I’m kind of hoping you make it to the UK sometime in the near future because I’d like to be front and centre!

We’ll definitely be recording a follow up after this Summer. We’ve been writing some killer new stuff so I can’t wait to have it recorded. We’ll be touring the US in May then hitting Europe in the Fall so keep an eye out for dates! It will be my first time overseas so that’s something I’m really looking forward to.

Thanks for the interview, have you got any final words for those who are maybe just finding out about the band?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and possibly taking even more time to listen to our music, we hope to see you out on the road!

HAIL SALEM