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Abazagorath rekindling the black flame of American black metal

Although many look to Scandinavia for “trve” black metal, the Americas have always played a role in the propagation of this extreme musical subgenre.  Abazagorath, from New Jersery, have reigned as pioneers of the USBM aesthetic  since 1995. Hey, New Jersey is not frostbitten, but it certainly can be very grim.

Over the years, Abazagorath (which I believe is pronounced Ah-BAZ-ah-goh-rahth) has remained close to their satanic roots, keeping alive themes noted in their public biography:  “war, melancholy, darkness, evil, the occult and death.” They eschew the pagan or shoegaze-y approach that many so-called American black or “blackened” bands seem to be using these days,  and that’s a good thing. There is nothing more satisfying to my ears than the pure, unadulterated sound of raw, unrestrained hatred channelled into musical form. Abazagorath is visceral. Even some of the more melodic passages of their songs are hate-filled.

abaz-logoLast fall, the group put out a five song self-titled EP which you can listen to/buy on BandCamp here. Prior to that, they had three songs on a split with Blood Storm. But their last full-length album has not been since Sacraments of the Final Atrocity in 2004. Abazagorath is about to change that with a new album, The Satanic Verses, on Negativity Records out this fall. They claim this new recording “may deliver their most controversial and blasphemous release yet.”

I interviewed Warhead, drummer and vocalist for Abazagorath, via email. Below is the transcript of that Q & A.  Come see Abazagorath in Wheaton, Md. on Saturday, Aug 24 at Sergio’s Place, where they will be performing with Isenblast, Nachzehrer, Haethen and Death Shroud.  Facebook event page is here. They also have other dates this fall such as Philly, Chicago, Boston and others, so it is best to check their Facebook page for the specifics on those shows.

What is the current lineup of Abazagorath?

The demonic entities known as Abazagorath consist of Warhead (drums, vocals) Maelstrom (guitar, vocals and studio bass) Ciemnosc (guitar, synths and studio bass).

Tell me about your song writing process.

Well, the last two recordings Maelstrom demoed the music with a drum machine and sent it to me. I would then listen to it, and play to the music through headphones adding my own drum style and Warhead flavor. Ciemnosc was then taught the material and given free range to add harmonies, solos, etc. Once everyone knew what they were playing, we would then begin our live rehearsals getting the material tight and ready to record.

What is your opinion of the current state of black metal in the world and also specifically in the US? For example, who do you admire/respect among the American black metal bands?

I believe nowadays that we are over saturated with a lot of bands claiming to be black metal. I hear a lot of garbage being released from people’s home computers that just sucks. I have also seen some local bands caring more about dressing up rather than the actual music (which pisses me off). With that being said, there are some newer bands I do enjoy such as Nachzehrer, Abysmal Gates, Ptahil, One Master, Haethen, Ritual Chamber and Dethroned Emperor to name a few. When I first started Abazagorath there were only a handful of USBM bands so I respect all my old school war brothers and sisters who have been at it as long as me such as Absu, Bloodstorm, Krieg, Demoncy, Kult Ov Azazel, Famine, Inquisition, Summon,Manticore, Grand Belials Key, Teratism, Necrovore, Demonic Christ, Engorge, Black Witchery, Judas Iscariot, Krohm and Nachtmystium.

What is your opinion of the trend in what some are calling “hipster black metal” that includes bands like Liturgy or Deafheaven (who are getting a lot of attention right now)?

Here is my opinion, I don’t give a fuck. My goal is to keep Abazagorath running at full potential and keep putting out releases each one better than the next. I have no time to worry about what attention other bands are getting. The true diehards know what USBM is. (Several who are from MD\VA area and always shown Abazagorath support).

From your discography, which recording (EP or full length or whatever) are you most proud of and why?

Honestly, I am proud of every single release Abazagorath has put out over the years. I started this band because when I began playing music I wanted to create something I wanted to hear, luckily every member who has been part of this disease known as Abazagorath has agreed. So each release is a combination of each member’s feelings at that time.

You only have two full-lengths to your credit. What are your plans for another full-length recording? And what label will you be on?

True we only have two full lengths to our credit, but we have released numerous EP’S and splits throughout our entire career.10 brand new hymns have just been recorded and are being mixed as we speak. Entitled “The Satanic Verses” this may be our most controversial and blasphemous release yet due out later this year on Negativity Records. An epic concept album based on the satanic temptation of the Islamic prophet Mohammad. (Writer’s note: Warhead is specifically referring to the Salman Rushdie book by the same name.)

Where do you go for musical inspiration? For example, do you get ideas from books, movies, other styles of music etc.?

Previous releases were definitely inspired by books and movies, but I always go back to my old school roots for musical inspiration with bands like Kreator, Sodom, Venom, Death, Slayer, and Celtic Frost. But since I have no time for movies or books anymore all of my musical inspirations have come from everyday life and people with a little Sativa\ Indica help.

How important are theatrics, corpse paint, candles and atmosphere to your performance?

Although I would not mind to play with some kind of fire live if possible, you will not get any stage show from Abazagorath. What you see is what you get: no corpse paint, religious articles or bullshit chatter in between songs. Once you get blasted with our live assault of pure mayhem theatrics are not needed.

What do you want people who see/hear you to feel or experience when they see your show?

We are a Black metal band I don’t give a fuck what people feel, this band was started to play music we enjoy. Now if you enjoy it cool. Guaranteed the crowd will be left with wanting more Abazagorath and hopefully the crowd leaves with feelings of loneliness and depression.

What do you hope to accomplish with this current tour?

The goal of this upcoming tour is to promote the new album and to play some states we have not been to before; it’s time to spread this cancer known as Abazagorath away from the north east.

Over your nearly 20-year history, what have been some of your most memorable moments as a band? And why?

Unfortunately most of our memorable moments were never good things that I can remember. They usually involved lots of alcohol, a beat down with fellow war brothers Summon, car accidents, drugs, a NYC public access TV appearance, and finally jail. (Writer’s Note: Sounds like I need to do some follow-up questions here when I see them in  August!)

Who would you love to share the stage with?

VENOM of course

What’s next for Abazagorath? For the rest of the year? For next year?

Abazagorath has begun writing our next album already, and for the rest of the year our plan is to play our already confirmed dates Philly, MD, NY, CT, MA and for our first time ever Columbus OH and Chicago. For 2014 we will focus on getting another album recorded and I have already been approached by numerous promoters who want to see Abazagorath on the left coast\ mid-west. There have also been talks about an Abazagorath\ Kommandant split as well.

Is there anything else you want people to know?

The new album “The Satanic Verses” will be out later this year on Negativity records. If you are looking for show dates, news merchandise check out our Reverbnation and Facebook pages. Hails and Horns. AS DARKNESS FALLS WE ARISE.


Nachzehrer: wicked good black metal from Boston

This week I decided to spend my local show dollars on a black metal show at The Sidebar Tavern, featuring Boston band Nachzehrer. I did not know too much about this band but had listened to them a bit after stumbling across a news item some weeks ago about the singer in the band being detained on a train platform because of his bullet belt. (Apparently there really are fashion police out there.)

Anyway, The Sidebar, which is now under new ownership, has been booking some great shows lately, perhaps in an effort (consciously or not) to fill the void left by the demise of another smallish venue the Talking Head Club. So naturally, if they are going to go to the trouble to book some black metal, I am going to go despite having to get up for work early the next morning.

The other bands that played deserve separate blog posts so I won’t go into much detail about them here. But I will mention that  the bill also included Wolfnuke (black metal from Hagerstown, Md.), At the Graves (ambient blackened doom from Baltimore), and Necropsy (Baltimore death thrash).

So back to Nachzehrer. According to the Wiki, a Nachzehrer is a vampire that devours its family and sometimes itself. We all have one of these in our family I am sure. The particular iteration of the band I saw had drums, guitar, bass and vocals, though their Facebook page lists an additional guitarist.

I am a lousy show reviewer, I must admit, mostly because I am more of less caught up in the moment and not taking notes or anything. But here’s my impression of this group.

Overall the songs are solid, semi-melodic traditional black metal. The drummer and bassist are completely in sync with one another, providing a solid head-banging foundation. Riding atop the bassline are some searing guitar melodies, threatening. The effect is punishing and raw, which is exactly how black metal should sound.  The songs mirror the structure of everything you would call “TRVE” black metal. Sometimes the tremolo guitar picking even reminded me of my beloved Tsjuder, minus the breakneck speed metal pace.

Nachzehrer’s vocals, unlike traditional black metal singing, are more in the grindcore style. Anytime a singer stands out in front of a band and is as physically active as Nachzehrer’s singer is, it reminds me of grindcore. That is not a bad thing, it just is what is it. Obviously if you were listening to the music on a CD or otherwise, this would not be an issue.

Unfortunately, the band did not have any CD or tapes available.  Many of their songs are uploaded on their Facebook page if you want to check them out. I did get a t-shirt.

Nachzehrer produced some brutal tunes and got the small audience revved up. I am glad they were able to stop by Baltimore on their mini-tour this week.  Hopefully, they will come back again and bring a full-length recording.

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