Monthly Archives: August 2013

Black Witchery forges on with blasphemous new axeman

Under the name Black Witchery, vocalist/bassist Impurath and his horde have been offering up some of the most aggressive, brutal and primitive black metal on the American scene since 1999. This month, the group reconfigured their lineup with a new man on guitar. They continue to play one-off shows and fests across the country, including one coming up August 31 at St. Vitus in Brooklyn and the now sold out Cathedral of the Black Goat Metal Festival September 20-21) in Chicago.

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Impurath of Black Witchery. Photo by Mary Spiro

Black Witchery holds nothing back in performance, putting forth a total aural and visual onslaught of unrelenting rhythms, pounding bass and uncompromising riffs punctuated by occasional murderous solos all draped in an aura of misery and darkness. Songs are simple, but not simplistic, with highly structured, albeit repetitive, progressions.

Other black metal bands spin webs of melodic atmosphere, while Black Witchery’s atmosphere emerges as it hammers your brain into submission with an iron fist of rage. The growling vocals spew forth in synchrony with the drums, as the bass and guitar mirror one another in chugging harmony.

Black Witchery is not a band for everyone, not even every black metal fan, but listening to one of their albums or watching them live could leave you a changed person. They are among the harshest sounding bands that I enjoy.  I find something new every time I listen to one of their studio recordings, and live performances are always captivating and strangely hypnotic.

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New Black Witchery guitarist Alal’Xhaasztur playing with Hellvetron. Photo by Goddess Sioux

I was able to catch up with Impurath shortly after their recent personnel change. The group’s long-time guitarist, Tregenda, was moving on, in what I determined from talking with Impurath to be a mutual and amicable decision among members (so shut down the rumor mill). Axe duties have been passed on to multi-instrumentalist Alal’Xhaasztur from Nyogthaeblisz, Hellvetron and Nexul, hereby appropriately referred to as A.X., who will perform at the NY show this weekend.

In our email exchange, Impurath discusses these changes, the state of black metal and what’s coming up for Black Witchery.  Here is the result of our email Q & A:

Tell me about the current lineup.

Black Witchery’s current lineup is myself, Impurath – Bass and Malicious voice of SATAN, Vaz- Death hammer apocalypse, and A.X of Nyogthaeblisz/Hellvetron/Nexul, who has recently joined as blood axe domination. I would also recommend those other bands of A.X., as they are some of the best and darkest black/death chaos created on U.S. soil for many years. Also Perdition Temple and Amputator (Canada/USA) are worth a mention and are a fist in the face of the pathetic black metal scene of today. Also, Vaz is currently death hammer maniac for Blasphemy.

What are your current recording plans? Any new records in the works? And for what label?

We will release a split with REVENGE and a live and rehearsal LP/CD on Nuclear War Now! productions as the next strikes of BLACK WITCHERY.

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Vaz of Black Witchery. Photo by Mary Spiro

Why is it important for your band members to maintain some level of anonymity?

The very essence of the word Occult is the answer to that question. Anonymity is important for any band if there is any honor within them. I detest most pathetic vermin who exist on this planet and only associate myself with a few individuals with whom we have had contact for years.

Would BW want to do an extended tour? And if so, with whom would you like to play?

Blasphemy , Revenge, Antediluvian, Nyogthaeblisz, Hellvetron, Archgoat, Ride for Revenge, Drowned, Immolation, Negative Plane, Blasphemous Witchcraft, Denial of God, Sadomator, etc. Any bands for whom we share a great respect and that I would like to witness repeatedly.

I notice that the band’s sound has remained consistently raw and primitive from album to album. How do you maintain this? And why do you choose to do so?

Our aim is to make each release as extreme as possible.

Lyrically, how has the band evolved over time? What themes or topics remain important to you?

Lyrics are always based on darkness, evil and blasphemous hatred, desecration, rituals, etc.

What is your opinion of American black metal? How do you feel about the state of black metal in general worldwide?

I don’t care about it. We continue on our path and ignore the external factors.

What are some American black metal bands you respect/admire?

Nyogthaeblisz, Hellvetron, Negative Plane, Nexul, and Black Funeral to name a couple of the best ones.

Who are your favorite groups to listen to?

The ones I mentioned above and many others like Antediluvian, Impetuous Ritual, Disma, Portal, Demonomancy (Italy) , old Beherit, Black Feast (Finland), Sect Pig, Pseudogod, etc.

What do you hope that people experience when they see your live show?

Pain and horror, fear, disharmony, chaos, intimidation….

How did you become a musician?

I’m not a musician but a vessel for the voice of SATAN.

What was the first band you remember listening to that got you excited about music? About metal?

Mercyful Fate Melissa and Seven Churches Possessed, Bathory, Celtic frost , etc

What are all the instruments you can play?

Bass

Tell me about your song writing process.

Usually envisioned in mind first…

Is there anything else you think people should know about Black Witchery?

Expect no mercy on the next BLACK WITCHERY releases…

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Here are two previous posts written about Black Witchery for Metallomusikum.com

Countdown to MDF X: Black Witchery

Oasis de Satanas in which a black metal festival is held in a Latin disco

Horde of the Eclipse: blackened impurity from central PA

Friday night I ventured into the darkened back room at Guido’s Speakeasy in Frederick to see/hear Dweller in the Valley, Sloth Herder and Horde of the Eclipse. These three are among my favorite local black metal bands and so to have them all together was a treat. Today, I want to talk a little about Horde of the Eclipse, an atmospheric black metal band from Harrisburg, PA, and I am long overdue in writing about them.

Horde of the Eclipse (Photo provided by band)

Horde of the Eclipse (Photo provided by band)

I first saw Horde of the Eclipse in the cellar of a tattoo shop in Chambersburg, PA. That was a weird little show. The Guido’s show was also kind of weird: minimal lighting, no AC to speak of and a small but devoted crowd. I suppose that’s what you might expect at a black metal show in Frederick.

But even in that tiny room, Horde sounded really good. These guys capture some of the best elements of black metal bands I love, which include Abigail Williams, Agalloch, Setherial and even Horna and Xasthur. The melodies soar and are sometimes enhanced by keyboards, the rhythms are complex and varied (i.e., not just unrelenting blast beats), and the guitars shred. Max Shoop’s vocals are raw and visceral. It’s sometimes hard to believe that those hellish sounds are coming out of his wiry frame.

The songwriting with this band is superior, and every song possesses interesting, memorable melodies and transitions that range from thrashy rocking parts to lush meditative sections. Everything they’ve recorded is on BandCamp, so I encourage you to follow the direction this band is heading. Download it, most of it is free or name your own price. A split with Sloth Herder is in the works, so I will be looking for that.

I think Horde of the Eclipse could be a very big band, that is, in an underground black metal sort of way. Maybe they need a little more time to “ripen” and more time to make the right connections that will position them in front of the right audiences to make that happen. Until then, I will make every attempt to see them when they play.

Horde of the Eclipse is Max Shoop: Vocals/Guitar; Andy Sheaffer: Guitar; Keith Loboda: Bass/Backing Vocals; and Lucas Sweger: Drums.

Check out the gallery I shot (in near darkness) below:

Websites from The Ocean Collective to soothe your brain

I am super tired today. I have gone to or watched shows nearly every night this week since Sunday. I have had less than 5 hours of sleep each night and have worked each day. I am going to a show tonight and also Saturday night. I am going to die. 

Thankfully it is Friday. And thankfully the following mind soothing band websites for The Ocean Collective still exist. Go ahead, just let them run.  Click on a link if you want and see what happens. 

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Why you might want to check out Summer Slaughter

I typically would not attend a festival tour like Summer Slaughter, but this year’s lineup caught my eye. Many of my favorite groups were playing including The Ocean, Revocation, Animals as Leaders and The Dillinger Escape Plan. This same lineup probably infuriated long-time followers of this fest, which since 2001 has featured more traditional death metal groups (Necrophagist, Suffocation, The Black Dahlia Murder, Cannibal Corpse). In fact, I KNOW many of them were disappointed as was evidenced by comments on all the social media sites.

About a year and a half ago I became acquainted with the members of post-metal group The Ocean, and they were kind enough to comp me and a plus one into the show in Philly at the Trocadero. In hindsight, we should have also rearranged our schedules to hit the fest stop in Silver Spring or figured out how to go to The Ocean’s headlining show at Saint Vitus on August 6. The festival set times were way too short, and it’s always better when you can see your favorite bands play a full set.

We arrived at the “Troc,” which is located in the heart of Philly’s Chinatown, while Aeon was playing. I am not a huge fan of Rings of Saturn and am not familiar with Thy Art is Murder, so we did not rush to get to the show at doors. We actually encountered Luc Hess and Jonathan Nido from The Ocean on the street and chatted with them on the sidewalk out front.

The Troc is an old theatre, very ornate inside with lots of gilding and a wrap-around balcony (21+ only) with cushioned seating. The venue has some dumb policies such as there is no re-entry after 6 p.m. except for smokers 21+.  So while a beautiful day and fresh air beckoned outside between sets, we were trapped inside a paint-encrusted monstrosity that smelled of pizza and hot dogs with about 1,000 people for the next five or more hours. Ugh,

Aeon represented more or less what past fests have been about: straight ahead dead metal. There was a good deal of crowd surfing. I am not super familiar with their work, but they were fun to watch.

Revocation owned their 25 minutes in the spotlight. David Davidson is a masterful technical death metal guitarist with an extremely solid band alongside him. I don’t know what’s not to love. Their songs are memorable and their playing unequalled. They looked like they were having fun as well, which makes a world of difference when you are watching a band.

Next up, were my friends The Ocean. They are still riding high off of excellent reviews and reaction to their latest recording Pelagial. But when the average running time of one of your songs is 10 minutes, it is extremely difficult to assemble a cohesive set into 25 minutes. Somehow, they managed. Vocalist Loïc Rosetti trusts the crowd so much that he took two graceful swan dives off the stage into their waiting arms. Robin Staps leads a team of pros here and, while I could tell that some die-hard death metal members of the audience were unmoved, Ocean devotees were very excited and wishing for more when their aggressive set concluded.

I completely sat out the sets of Cattle Decapitation and most of Norma Jean. I could hear them though, of course, because I could not get further away than the  lobby. They were okay, but just not my thing.

Then Periphery took the stage. Now, first let me say something about Periphery’s merch table. They had all these different t-shirts designs (there are tons more on their website) referencing inside jokes I couldn’t figure out or just spoofing other commercial logos.  There is one with comedian David Cross (as Todd Margaret, maybe?). Two mocked black metal band logos, and that irked me (because as a devotee of black metal, of course, it would). I have this hypothesis that the more different t-shirt designs a band has, the more terrible they are likely to sound. But I have seen Periphery before, so I was confused because I generally consider them to be interesting and talented. I was even more confused when they started their set with what sounded like the “bounce” of nu-metal. As their set wore on, they returned  more to how I remember them sounding, which I will describe as Meshuggah-esque. But maybe this band has just gone in a direction I don’t care for.

Then came Animals As Leaders, another band I have enjoyed seeing before and for whom I have great respect.  No surprises here. An exciting, clean and tight performance with lots of visual enhancements to make it trippy. They ended with CAFO, the song that sort of propelled this group into the metal public’s eye. Music like this is technically beautiful, but I think best sampled in small doses since its frenetic pace can be overwhelming after a while. Forty minutes was about right for them.

Speaking of frenetic, let’s talk about our headliner, The Dillinger Escape Plan. After all this time, I had never seen them live. Or maybe I was afraid to see them based on the rumors that I had heard. I was told they put on an “energetic” show. That’s so much of an understatement. I watched one guitarist nearly tumble backward off of an amplifier during the first song.  Later Greg Puciato lept from the upper balcony about 12 feet down into the swirling mass of humanity that made up the audience, He apparently does this all the time. I know he has done far worse. At least he didn’t take a dump on the stage. Not this time, anyway.

I concluded that, while the band sounded really great live and Puciato’s voice carried beautifully even above the chaos, the REAL reason people go to see TDEP is to take bets on which member of the band will die first during a live show. Greg has already “died” once before, and I am sure he will give himself the opportunity to do it for real at some point in the future. The game the audience plays when they come to a TDEP performance is to guess in which song someone will be mortally wounded.  (My bet is on “43% Burnt” ) They keep you coming back to their shows until it finally happens. I am so glad I finally got to witness this madness live, and I will be back, but only if I can watch from a safe distant.

Overall, the Summer Slaughter tour was a good fit for my ears and eyes. Though if this franchise built its reputation upon a death metal landscape, then they have certainly strayed from that path.

There are still several dates left in this tour if you want to join in the fun. They are listed here. My photos are below. No photo pass, just snaps from the Lumix here.

Maryland Deathfest 2014 early-bird tickets go on sale Aug. 7

mdflogoHey folks. If you have not noticed this update from Maryland Deathfest, here is the latest on those early-bird tickets. Copied and pasted:

Early-Bird tickets will go on sale August 7 at 3pm EST. Cost will be $199 and these tickets will be good for all days/bands/venues. This is a special offer, only 150 will be sold! General Admission tickets for all 4 individual days as well as multi-day ticket packages will go on sale sometime in October, after the full line-up has been announced, so don’t panic if you miss out on the early-bird special!

All confirmed bands are listed below. Click on any bands name for more information on the artists.

If you think this website looks unfinished, well…that’s because it’s not done yet!! We are still working on features, functionality, and style, so please bear with us while we work to make your Maryland Deathfest experience better!

Check out our FAQ before contacting us with any questions you might have.

NOTE: Early-Bird tickets will not be mailed until sometime in October.

I have not decided what I plan to do yet. But I sure hope the MDF servers are ready to handle the onslaught when ticket sales begin.

Confirmed bands so far include:

At the Gates

Gorguts

Taake

Excruciating Terror

Bongripper

Sólstafir

Diocletian

Mgla

Hemdale

The MDF website is here.

Help Us Raise $250,000 Dollars For Bolt Thrower to Play My Daughter’s Birthday Party

Tyranny of Tradition takes an artful stab at our current culture of crowd-funded musical projects….with hilarious results. And really, how much DO you think it would cost to get Bolt Thrower to play a child’s birthday party? I swear, they’d probably do it.

The Tyranny of Tradition

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We have always been a Bolt Thrower family.  Many of our happiest, most memorable times have been spent listening to their music.  Whether it was me soothing my son on his first trip to the dentist by playing him all of “In Battle There Is No Law” or my wife and I making the long car trips from Atlanta to Minnesota go by quicker by singing “Cenotaph” with them, Bolt Thrower have almost been like relatives.  This is why, on my daughter Jo-Anne Bench Spillett’s sixth birthday, we’d like to hire Bolt Thrower to play the party.

However, as you probably have figured out, hiring a death metal band to fly from England to Atlanta to play can be expensive.  My wife and I talked about how to make it happen financially, but short of working nine more jobs and selling the platinum grill I had made during my brief…

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(the) Melvins up close and personal

I know (the) Melvins play like one million shows a year, but other than the madness that was their performance at Maryland Deathfest, I have not seen this band up close. The Ottobar was the place to be for that Friday night. I’d worked a full day and still wearing my dress from work but decide to go anyway.

The place was packed! So despite the fact that (the) Melvins play a lot of shows all over the place all the time, they also still draw the numbers. I am not sure it was a complete sell out but it was very close.

I loved seeing them in a smaller venue, despite the close quarters with so many people. I loved drummers times two. This show was part of their 30th anniversary tour. I am sure Buzz Osborne never imagined that he’d still be playing in a band he started just out of high school. But then again, maybe that is exactly what he envisioned. By the way, Buzz and I are the same age, which somehow makes me feel more alive.

Here are some photos I snapped and one of me with King Buzzo himself.

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