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Abysmal Dawn, or when I am more excited about an opening band than a headliner

Tomorrow night, Oct. 7, the infamous Deicide plays at Empire in Springfield, Virginia. The other bands in the lineup include Inquisition, Carach Angren, Septicflesh and Abysmal Dawn, along with some local death metal bands, such as Tortile. Of these, I am particularly excited to see Abysmal Dawn.

I first caught Abysmal Dawn in December 2011 when Sonar was still a club in Baltimore. They opened for German tech death band Obscura. I saw them again with Origin at The Ottobar. Technical death metal is something that I choose carefully, and Abysmal Dawn fits all my criteria. The lyrics are smart. The melodies are memorable. The rhythms are driving but also have something of a swing to them. And Abysmal Dawn’s stage performance is engaging, thanks, in part, to their front man and chief songwriter Charles Elliott, who challenges the audience with his expert guitar shreddery and intense gaze.  Abysmal Dawn has a new album coming out, “Obsolescence,” and Charles replied via email to a few quick questions about the new record and touring. Here’s the transcript.

Charles Elliott of Abysmal Dawn @Sonar Dec. 2011

Charles Elliott of Abysmal Dawn @Sonar Dec. 2011

Hi Charles, it’s been a long time since we have heard anything from you or Abysmal Dawn. I know you did a stellar job in your role on the North American Death to All tour. But musically, what else has been going on in your life since the release of “Leveling the Plane of Existence”?
Well, the making of our new album “Obsolescence” took up most of the time in my life for the past year and a half or so. Musically I haven’t been up to much else since BEREFT is on hold as well. BEREFT is my doom band with a couple of other well known musicians. We released an album in 2012 but since then we’ve been on hiatus.

The video for “In Service of Time” surfaced about a year ago. Why did that video take so long to complete?
It was self-financed but it was also done using a lot of favors. Aside from all the sets and actors you see all the green screen CGI shit took forever. We were just in over our heads. We plan on being a little more to the point this time.

How are you feeling about the upcoming tour with Deicide and others? I am particularly curious to see what Carach Angren sounds like live. What about you? Anything you are especially looking forward to with this unusual lineup?

I’m excited to hit the road again with some great bands. Nothing against Carach Angren, but I’m not really familiar with them. I’m sure we’ll have some great times together though. I’m just excited to be touring again and playing for people. That’s what I love most about being in a band and I’ve missed that.

I am excited to hear the new album. I see that former-Obscura guitarist Christian Muenzner has a guest spot on the new record, as does Bobby Koelble who performed on Death’s Symbolic. Who else is performing on the new album? And who will be going out on the road with you?
Those were the only two guests on the album. Other than that it’s just the band and they’ll be hitting the road with me as is customary for bands to do haha.

Tell me about the songwriting process this time. And where are you deriving the themes?
It’s a very personal record for me, but then again so were the last two. With each album though I feel it draws more from my life experiences. This one has maybe one song based lyrically in science fiction, the rest is social commentary and existentialism.

What challenges have you faced that have put so much time between this new album and the last?
Our drummer moved up north about 6 hours away, so that was a tough one to work around. I basically just bought a new computer, recording software and improved on my drum programming skills to make the best of things. That wasn’t fun but the songs might sound more thought out because of it. Of course, Scott added his flavor and made the songs better in the end. We sort of recorded when we had the free time and studios were free as well. With the budget we had, and how we write, it was the only was to make it happen. My mother passed away during the recording process as well and that wasn’t easy for me.

What’s next after the US tour?
Not sure yet but probably another US tour and possibly a run in Europe.

Do you have any other projects brewing?
Not really. As I said, Bereft is sort of on hold. Sacha from Intronaut is totally focused on their new album and touring and now I’m going to be promoting the new Abysmal Dawn record. Maybe we’ll do another album some day but not anytime soon.

Anything else you want people to know about you or Abysmal Dawn?
“Obsolescence” comes out on October 27. I hope your readers enjoy the album and pick up a copy. Support the music you love!

Check out a video of a track from the new Abysmal Dawn album.

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Krisiun stops twice nearby on Destruction tour

Brasil’s Krisiun, one of the hardest working bands in death metal, is on the road again, if they ever even left. (They didn’t.) Krisiun will start a tour  with the almighty German thrashers Destruction on March 14 and will be appearing at two venues within a reasonable driving distance from Baltimore: at Empire in Springfield, Virginia on March 20 and at Mojo 13 in Wilmington, Delaware on March 21.  You will see them with North Carolina’s Widow for the first part of this tour and then they will  be joined by the delightful Exmortus of California for the latter half. You can see all the dates here.

In May 2013, I sat down with Moyses Kolesne before Krisiun played a show at Baltimore’s Metro Gallery. Yes, this interview was conducted nearly a year ago. I have been holding onto it until now, for just such an occasion as this — a new tour– which was bound to happen sooner or later with these guys! Still, I don’t typically like to hold on to an interview this long. We met at The Club Charles and  tried to chat over the sound of the jukebox. Later that night, they tore through their set, which included a good mix of old and newer tracks. I remember that it was immediately after Maryland Deathfest and everyone in attendance at the show was a bit exhausted.

Krisiun formed in 1990 when brothers  Alex Camargo [Vocal/Bass],  Moyses Kolesne [Guitar] and Max Kolesne [Drums] were just teens. Since then, they have steadily  amassed rabidly devoted fans across the world. There are few bands who tour as frequently and who remain as rooted to their musical origins, to their country and to their fanbase as Krisiun.  They are also super humble and down-to-earth people, who are willing to kick back with their fans from the mosh pit, as well as go home once in a while to see their mother. Alex uses his mother’s last name, by the way.

Fangirl photo with Moyses Kolesne.

Fangirl photo with Moyses Kolesne of Krisiun.

In this interview, Moyses discusses what it is like to be in a band for more than 20 years with his brothers and about sticking with their label, Century Media, for just as long. He also talks about their devotion to extreme music and to an organic sound, he reminds me that black metal is older in Brazil than in Norway, and he remembers their big break at the Milwaukee metal fest. There is mention of possibility of a new record in the works and he talks about some of the fests they will play (or now have played) in 2013.

During the interview Moyses said something that I think perfectly sums up the work ethic and humility of Krisiun:

“The people that are are down there in the mosh pit and the ones on stage, they are the same. Both are part of the show. Without each other, they are nothing.”

More people in metal should think this way.  Moyses also offers some inspiration and insight for struggling musicians who are impatient about having to be out on the road and sleeping in vans for years before they find success. After all, he’s been doing it for 20 years so he should know what he is talking about! I hope you enjoy listening to this interview as much as I enjoyed recording it. It begins with me asking Moyses about what it’s like to be in a band with one’s  brothers. Click here to listen.

Don’t miss Krisiun and Destruction out on the road.

Marduk brings black metal juggernaut to Empire

Marduk and friends played Empire in Springfield, Virginia on February 20. Here are my general impressions of this crushing juggernaut of sound that is probably coming to a town near you.

First off, it was grim and frostbitten outside and waiting in line for even two minutes was excruciating. I got in line at about 5:45 and doors did not open until after 6 p.m. Strangely, the first band had already started playing to a practically empty room. Empire, why do you do this stupid shit?

The first group Helgardh are from Bluefield, West Virginia. They performed in full corpse paint and presented very traditional old school style black metal. They sounded solid, especially the vocals, and I would have been happy to have seen their entire set. I didn’t notice any merchandise or demos at the merch table. But since they are regional, it’s likely I will get another chance to see them.

Next up was Deathwolf from Sweden, founded by Marduk’s Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson  who plays bass for this group. Musically the group was entertaining but I found the songs uninspired. I felt like I was watching a really competent biker bar band that might appear on an episode of Sons of Anarchy. The vocals were really strong though. Unfortunately, I was just not into the genre they were playing. They did seem to have a small following in the audience.

The Foreshadowing, a gothic metal group from Italy took the stage next, after what seemed like an unnecessarily long sound check. Again, the musicianship was excellent, but if I want to listen to the black metal version of Depeche Mode I will just listen to…um, no…I will just listen to Depeche Mode.  This band’s work has been nominated for all kinds of awards, so apparently people like them, but I find it incredibly hard to comment on a band that did not excite me. If I met them, I would say, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Inquisition from Colombia/Seattle was the main reason I drove 70 + miles in rush hour traffic to this show on a weekday night, and I was very excited to see them perform. They did not disappoint. There is something hypnotic about the way the drums, Dagon’s guitar and his reptilian-affected vocals come together, and I think the rest of the audience could feel it. I had watched several YouTube videos of live Inquisition shows and none that remember can capture the real deal. They sounded great, they looked great and they got everyone revved up! They played one of my favorite songs, Cosmic Invocation Rites. Evening complete.

Portugal’s Moonspell like to sing about werewolves, apparently.  At one point, I think the singer howled. I don’t know, whatever they were singing about, I thought they were really good. They also fall roughly into the category of gothic metal, but they exude so much aggression and power that it feels more like melodic black metal to me. The band interacted well with the audience, who seemed to love them. I would go see them again.

Marduk arrived on stage about 30 minutes later than the set times indicated, which made me realize that I was not going to be able to stay for their entire set.  (Some people have to work in the morning.)  The last (and first) time I saw Marduk was at the former Sonar in Baltimore. During that show, which was held on a Saturday night, the entire room was packed and quickly turned into a mosh pit. This show seemed to lack that level of vigor. Should we expect black metallaers to throw down on any night of the week? Heck it was only 11 p.m.  There was some moshing, but for the most part the audience was pretty inert. I think, although I obviously can’t get inside his head, that vocalist Daniel “Mortuus” Rostén was really frustrated by the lethargy. At one point I felt like he was chastising the audience for not being more metal or something.  At any rate, the sound for Marduk was horrible compared to how it had been for the other bands. From where I was standing I could  hear the bass and drums pretty well but the vocals were overwhelming. I could not hear Morgan at all, which was why I love Marduk.  So I moved to his side of the room. Better, but still pretty bad. So sad, I was. I can always listen to them on CD.

This was the very first day of Marduk’s second North American trip in support of their latest recording Serpent Sermon. I know the first few shows of a long tour are kind of like dress rehearsals, a chance to work out all the kinks and get things right for “more important” shows like Saturday night’s appearance in New York.  Still I thought all the bands brought their A-game to  Empire. I was annoyed that the sound didn’t work out for Marduk and was only just a little bored by a couple of the bands I wasn’t into. But at least I finally got to see Inquisition, who blew my mind, and I enjoyed Moonspell, who played the Barge to Hell cruise last December.

The rest of the dates for Marduk’s tour are listed below. After that, they take a little break and start their summer shows in Europe.

February 21 Poughkeepsie, NY @ The Chance
February 22 Worcester, MA @ The Palladium
February 23 New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
February 24 Montreal, QC @ Club Soda
February 25 Toronto, ON @ Wreck Room
February 26 Millvale, PA @ Mr. Small’s Theatre
February 27 Chicago, IL @ Reggie’s
February 28 Saint Paul, MN @ Station 4
March 1 Winnipeg, MB @ Osborne Village Inn
March 2 Regina, SK @ The Exchange
March 3 Edmonton, AB @ Pawn Shop
March 4 Calgary, AB @ TBC
March 5 Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw Theatre
March 6 Seattle, WA @ Studio Seven
March 7 Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theatre
March 8 Oakland, CA @ Oakland Opera House
March 9 Los Angeles, CA @ The Vex
March 10 Tempe, AZ @ 910 Live
March 11 Albuquerque, NM @ TBC
March 12 Dallas, TX @ Tomcats West
March 13 San Antonio, TX @ Korova
March 15 Fort Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
March 16 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade

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