As an idea for a new column on The Blog of Doom, I thought it would be fun to ask some metal musicians to choose their ultimate 8-10 song playlist and provide a bit of commentary on each choice. First up is Doc, the drummer for Swedish doomsters Below, who just released their debut album Across The Dark River in April. Unsurpisingly, Doc’s list is heavy on Swedish bands and Mercyful Fate, a combination from which Below clearly get their sound. He does have a couple of curveballs in there, though.
Editor’s Notes: I think we can all agree that Doc knocked this idea out of the park and I hope you readers enjoyed this list as much as I did. I’m going to try to make this a regular column here on The Blog of Doom. I’m interested in reader submissions as well as those from artists. Doom on. -JO
Cincinnati's prolific (and underrated) doom scene has produced a ton of memorable bands over the years. One of the heaviest bands around, Beneath Oblivion, has been lurking in the underground since 2000. With a couple of albums under their belts and a handful of EPs and demos, Beneath Oblivion is ramping things up this Summer, opening for doom masters Agalloch and Inter Arma over the next couple of months. I recently caught up with Scotty Simpson to get the details behind the heaviest band in town.
How would you describe your sound?
Scott Simpson: I would describe our sound as a cross-section of a whole bunch of different heavy (not just 'heavy' in the metal sense) influences that come from inside and out.. The ugly things in life as well and the parts which are quite beautiful always find ways to transpose themselves into the art.. We've never tried to go for any certain kind of sound and I think it shows when I watch a lot of bands who play it safe by doing something which easily fits into a certain niche or genre, or even worse, when I hear a band clone themselves after another band's sound that was achieved 5, 10, or 20 years ago.. I've never been into it for that reason, because I'd rather we pave our own way and be known for that than to be the fun band everyone wants to see because they are good at ripping off Electric Wizard, Sleep, or Kyuss and drawing big crowds because of it.
How did you get into doom and who are some of your influences?
SS: I'd say our influences are anything heavy, aggressive (unless it's immature or overly machismo aggression, I can't much relate to that anymore), and almost anything that can make a man cry.. I feel as though I take more influence from literature, cinema, art, NPR and the everyday world around me than I do from other bands when it comes to Beneath Oblivion. When it comes to musical influence I have all of my old metal, punk, rock n roll, country, rhythm & blues favorites I listen to, and I stay fairly privy to the new releases that come out, though I rarely hear anything that inspires me, but it does happen.. and of course when on tour I encounter all kinds of incredible bands through the underground that barely anybody knows about.. Those bands tend to be the real deal.
How did I get into doom? I suppose it started with Black Sabbath when I was a kid because they were so much darker, depressive, and downtuned than anything else I'd ever heard, and then I heard Cathedral and it went from there.. I was into all kinds of European doom, American sludge, slowed down crust, hardcore, and death metal.. I realized I was always listening to Morbid Angel because they were slower and smarter than their peers, and so I caught the 'doom bug' in a big way.. getting into the Euro bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema, Candlemass led to gothy doom, then to funeral doom bands like Skepticism, Esoteric, and Thergothon, and then I started listening to more American bands and discovered the 'crust-core' as they used to call it (i.e. Grief, Eyehategod, Buzzov-en) and I kept finding more drone, noise, minimalist sub-genres and other kinds of avant-garde sounds which made me wonder why on earth everyone is trying to copy someone else when the possibilities are endless as far as I can see them.
How long has Beneath Oblivion been around? Have you had a pretty stable lineup over the years?
SS: I started jamming with one of my best friends I met at the University of Cincinnati as soon as I moved to Cincy in 2000. I was way into Type O Negative, but I didn't know about Moonspell, Tiamat, or Katatonia, and I certainly wasn't aware of Thergothon yet, or any of the raw-trance one man black metal bands. I started learning about more 'stoner' bands that sounded like descendants of Black Sabbath, and I was hooked. This was when I started to go down the rabbit hole and find out about new sub genres of metal and hardcore I'd never heard of, but what grabbed me most was the slow and heavy, emotional music I kept finding out about.. mostly it was the depressing doom and gloom bands from Finland. I decided if I was going to jam with anybody I might as well be making music to record and send out for tape trades with other bands and zines in the underground.. It wasn't until 2003 that the name Beneath Oblivion came along. Neal Hunter (Mollusk/ex-Sabre/ex-Highgate) joined in on bass for a while, left the band, and then came back a couple of times, but ultimately wanted to start his own band, so he left for good. My friend Jon "Animal" Martin did the smart thing and left the band to concentrate on his degree, but I wanted to keep it going and so I recorded the Melancholy demo with my friend Jared on drums and myself playing the guitars, bass, and vocals.. This demo was burnt to CDR and passed out to everyone who would take it, and mailed all over the world to different bands, publications, and underground enthusiasts. At the time it didn't seem like it was making much of a difference, but years later I started hearing back from a whole bunch of people who dug it. Jay Waller who played in Highgate, Lysera, Hentai Lacerater, Mard, John Bender, Elusive Travel and tons of other bands around Dayton/Cincy joined on bass around this time. Allen later joined on drums for a while, but it didn't quite work out as our lives were fairly turbulent in those times and none of us owned a drum kit; Animal came back to the band and we recorded Existence Without Purpose, but Animal really didn't have time to be in a band. Then Nate Bidwell joined the band at the suggestion of Greg from Highgate in 2006; which is when Beneath Oblivion finally had a fairly stable band lineup.. So there's a long winded answer to your question. Fast forward a few years, a few releases, a couple of tours, etc to 2010 and that's when Allen Scott (Thorns of the Carrion) joined the band on second guitar to bring in a whole other level of heaviness. Beneath Oblivion and Jay Waller parted ways for a whole host of unfortunate reasons, and Keith Messerle (Bog) joined the band.. Thus having the Beneath Oblivion line-up we all now know. Cash Nickle has been the roadie, mascot, and all around whipping boy since the band started playing in clubs around 2005.
How many albums do you have out now and how have those been received?
SS: Existence Without Purpose (2006) and From Man to Dust (2011) are the only releases which qualify as full-length albums, but we also have a few split releases on 10" and 7" records, we have a couple EPs, and a cassette release out there somewhere. I couldn't tell you how people have received them, because frankly I don't care... We'd still be doing this all the same. Some people love it, some people hate it; some people love the music but hate the vocals, some people love the vocals but hate the music, some people just love the samples, and some people say they'd love it if the music wasn't so long; but clearly those people just don't get it or they are lazy reviewers.. I mean, who listens to doom metal while they are in a hurry? Get real high, turn up the music real loud, turn out the lights, lay down and get lost in it. You'll know what it’s all about.
How extensive is your touring background? Do you have any ridiculous tour stories?
SS: We tour whenever we are able to. Usually only a couple or few weeks every year, and lots of little weekend jaunts around the Midwest. None of us does this for a living because it's very hard to play extreme music for money. I'm sure I don't need to explain much further than that because if it was all about money I'd do something else. As far as ridiculous stories one of my favorites was in Salt Lake Shitty when we stayed at some skuzzy hotel with hookers and junkies all over the place. Keith and Allen were propositioned by a prostitute named Jojo, but instead of telling her to go away, they continued talking about classical literature. They asked her if she'd ever read any Herman Hesse and she said she'd never made it past 8th grade. She got frustrated and walked away. That's the first story that comes to mind.
What is your gear setup looking like these days? Has that changed much over the years?
SS: I use a Laney GH-100L for amplification and a full-stack of old 5150 4x12 cabinets.. when playing in town somewhere big I tend to bring the full rig which also includes an a/b-y switched Peavey 2x15 w/ a 200 watt SWR bass amp for an extra layer of sludge and low end to my side of the stage. My gear has changed a bit over time, by getting more massive, but now I can't even fit everything in the van so I can only use everything when it's local. I've been using the same Les Paul for at least 6 years now, and occasionally I use a Fender Tele.. I think next I'd like to add a 4x10 or even an 8x10 cab to my rig if space wasn't an issue. Louder is better than good.
How does the Beneath Oblivion songwriting process generally work?
SS: We all write the songs. Sometimes together, and sometimes on our own, most of the time it's two of us working the riffs, and then it's all 4 of us working it into a song with patterns and changes. Either way they always change very much over the first month or two of the song's life cycle.
Do you have any writing/recording or touring plans lined up?
SS: We have a whole bunch of new material ready to record and we have a whole bunch of half written songs lying around. However it will be a little while before there is another full-length record.. We can make another record that will crush everything on From Man to Dust, but we're happy writing songs and putting them out on 7" and 10" records, cassettes and EPs right now.. A full-length album is imminent, but it's got to be something massive that holds its own and makes all of the other metal albums look weak. Because we figure there's no point in putting out something lackluster. We've got tour stuff in the works but it's far too soon to announce yet. Within the next year we have plans to play overseas, but that too is not ready to be posted either.
Anything else you'd like to add?
SS: I'd like to say thanks for your patience and correspondence, Joe. We've been super busy trying to get all of the new songs down. We have a couple of local shows coming up, mostly we tend to play in Columbus it would seem, from the last year's track record, but now there's one at Southgate House Revival on June 22 with Agalloch and there's a show on July 21st at the Drinkery with Inter Arma.
Editor's Notes: Huge thanks to Scott for taking time out of his busy writing schedule to give us some insight into the Beneath Oblivion camp. Looking forward to checking these guys out again soon. -JO
Following their breakthrough 2013 EP, Slovenian doom band Mist are headed out on a short run of European tour dates. I caught up with the band prior to the tour to get the latest from the Mist camp.
How did you get into doom?
Neza: I was listening to Candlemass many years ago already, but I didn't know it was called anything other than just ''metal''. Then I found out about more bands from my friends, went to Hammer Of Doom Festival and it bewitched me.
Ema: A few years back I started listening to Candlemass and got hooked right away, and of course I've loved Black Sabbath since forever. The real plunge into doom started when we formed the band Mist and Neža, who is a big doom fan, showed us some more bands like Saint Vitus, Pentagram, and others. It was love at first listen.
Who are some of your main influences?
Ema: We actually come from different musical backgrounds so there is a bit of everything. We didn't want to follow a certain genre, we just started making music and discovered ourselves in doom. Of course, we do find inspiration in music, I would say that the most influential bands are Candlemass, Pentagram and Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats.
Nina, Neza, Mihaela: Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Pentagram, Blood Ceremony, Saint Vitus, Coven, Jex Thoth.
How did the band come together?
Nina: Me and my best friend Mihaela were talking about it and decided to give it a shot. We met Ema at Metelkova (a street in Ljubljana where metalheads hang out a lot), and then we found Neža via the internet.
Neza: The other Nina (our lead guitarist) joined about a year later. An acquaintance recommended us to contact her, since she had already played in a couple of bands before. She's not playing with us at the moment because she is focused on her family, but hopefully she's coming back soon.
What is the heavy metal scene like in Slovenia?
Neza: It's very small and everybody mostly knows each other. We're the only doom band at the moment and the first Slovenian ''traditional'' doom band. Other metal genres are more popular here; thrash, heavy, death, black. There are plenty of gigs with local bands in Slovenia but they tend to clash a lot. Not so many visitors show up as a consequence. Bigger, commercial tours like Thrashfest and Paganfest are much more successful and we also have an annual metal festival called MetalDays (formerly MetalCamp).
Have you had any problems with people dismissing Mist as a gimmick band due the all-female lineup?
Ema: Yes we have, but I believe we have proved with the release of our demo and our live performances that it's all about the music. We never dress provocatively or emphasize that we are an all girl band. It just happened and we are happy it turned out this way since we have become really good friends and love creating music together.
Neza: People are often positively surprised after they hear our demo or see us live. They come up to us and say they expected us to be ''worse''. I'm pretty sure it's because we're all girls.
When and where did you record your 2013 demo?
Ema: We recorded the demo in our rehearsal room with the help of Anze Cucek who recorded it and Benjamin Kic who also helped with the recording and did the mix.
Were you surprised by the international recognition that the demo received?
Ema: Yes, we were completely blown away! Our friend and promoter,Bojan Bidovc, sent out emails announcing the demo release and at the time we didn't think much of it. But the feedback was amazing and we are really grateful.
Do you have any plans to record a full-length album soon?
Ema: We hope we can release an album or at least an EP by the end of the year. We are working on the material and we hope to start preparing for the studio in the summer. We have gotten great feedback on the new songs which we are already playing live so we are excited to record them and show them to the world.
Who are some of your favorite current artists, doom or otherwise?
Nina: My favorite doom bands are Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Avatarium, Candlemass and Electric Wizard, yet I also like thrash like Teleport, Voivod and Anthrax.
Ema: Ever since we played with Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats I have been in love with their music; I listen to them all the time. Apart from them, I have recently discovered Witchburn and love the energy in their music.
Neza: Pagan Altar, Jex Thoth, Enforcer, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Mount Salem, Blood Ceremony, Atlantean Kodex.
Mihaela: Death, Confessor, Candlemass, Pentagram, Jex Thoth, Slayer, Voivod, Obscura.
What’s one piece of gear that you couldn’t live without?
Neza: My bass guitar.
Ema: Definitely my Peavey Valveking 100 amp. I love the crunchy sound and I take it everywhere.
Nina: I couldn't live without a chocolate microphone, if I had one. Haha.
Mihaela: My drumsticks.
What are you looking forward to on your upcoming tour?
Nina: A lot of stage experience and travelling. Meeting other bands and supporting them.
Ema: Playing in the Netherlands and Belgium is a great opportunity to show our music to fellow doomers and feel the doom scene up there. We are also looking forward to having a great time and seeing Cauchemar play, since we are big fans of their work.
Neza: Meeting new people and old friends, getting a taste of the doom scene in other countries, playing with Cauchemar.
Do you have any crazy tour stories?
Nina: I tried to professionally open a bottle of sparkling wine for James Riviera (Helstar) in backstage, but there was too much pressure and it exploded. Just the cork, the bottle was fine.
Neza: Hanging out with Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats after our gig in Vienna was really cool. The details aren't to be made public, hehe.
Ema: Since this is our first (mini) tour I'm sure we will have quite a few such stories when we come back!
Hot on the heels of this week's tour announcements, Dustin Hill, the creative voice behind Portland stoner rockers Black Pussy, checks in to give us the story behind his band, updates on the new record and future plans.
How did the band come together?
Dustin Hill: After 6 years of revolving members, cosmic forces lead the current line up to come together and commit fully to the idea and art. Combined with eagerness to tour and the love of marijuana, we all have boarded the rocket ship with a no return home ticket.
Where did the band name come from?
DH: If Tarantino was forming a band, what would he name it? Partial credit goes to The Rolling Stones for their song “Brown Sugar.” The song title was allegedly first dubbed “Black Pussy,” but, as rumor has it, their record label made them change it to something a little more accessible. The true inspiration for the name spawns from the simple fact that it is Rock and Roll in a sexy 70's style that isn't represented in today's music.
How would you describe your sound to the uninitiated?
DH: Farrah Fawcett, topless, riding shotgun in a '73 Mach 1 with Steve Mcqueen at the wheel in a haze of marijuana flying down a two lane blacktop.
How did you end up touring with Vista Chino and what did that mean for a young band?
DH: Last March Brant produced our upcoming new album, Less Info More Mojo, which began the relationship that landed us the support slot for Vista Chino's North American tour. It was an amazing experience that made us realize the value of a well paired bill.
Do you have any stories from that tour that you’d care to share?
DH: Road stories stay on the road, but Come to a show and say "Hi". We'd love to chat and create new stories along the journey. Providing you are not law enforcement…
Who (or what) are some of your main influences?
DH: High life, Weed, and Taquerias.
How is the new record coming along?
DH: Less Info More Mojo is fully completed, we're now looking for the right label family that wants to be part of this project.
How does the new record compare to your previous release, On Blonde?
DH: I think of recordings as artistic snapshots of that moment in time. Both On Blonde and Less Info More Mojo represent the sound and vision I strive for, but with Less Info More Mojo I had a band and that adds more personality and life versus me playing all the instruments. Plus Brant Bjork produced it, so you can feel his spirit in it as well.
How does the song writing process work for Black Pussy?
DH: I describe songwriting as meditation. I really more try to clear my mind and songs kinda just get beamed into me. Songs are like children, they are birthed, independent and come into being on their own; I’m just responsible for raising them.
What kind of gear are you using these days, live and in-studio?
DH: Full vintage 60's and 70's SUNN live backline… any vintage gear with mojo.
What's next for Black Pussy?
DH: Embarking on a North American tour this summer with Gypsyhawk (5/17-6/12) and Mothership (6/13-7/20) with shows rolling in daily through August and September.
Editor's Notes: Thank you, Dustin, for taking time out of your schedule to give us the low down on the Black Pussy camp. For my Tri-State readers, be sure to mark your calendars for 6/5 (Mad Frog) and 6/19 (Southgate House) and catch this awesome retro band live. -JO
San Francisco occult metal band Castle is set to release their third album, Under Siege, next week (5/20) on Prosthetic Records. The trio just wrapped up a European run and they are set to embark on a U.S. tour later this week. I recently caught up with guitarist Mat Davis to get the scoop on the tour and the new record, which I'll be reviewing here on The Blog of Doom later this week.
How is the tour going so far?
Mat Davis: The tour was fantastic – just wrapped up the last show a couple days ago. We played Desertfest Berlin which was amazing and a slew of other shows with some killer bands and great crowds. It was also a blast playing most of the new album live.
What’s the most underrated thing about touring Europe? Overrated?
MD: I don’t know about underrated and overrated but overall touring Europe is great. There’s a built-in system, from renting vans and drivers, good promoters, bars with accommodations and not to mention very generous catering so it tends to be a little easier than touring in the States on that level. Maybe one drawback is breakfast – it’s hard to find a nice hot breakfast in Europe!
Tell me a little bit about the new record, Under Siege. Where did you record and who did you work with? What kind of gear did you use on the album?
MD: We did most of the bed tracks in Oakland at Sharkbite Studios, where we recorded our last record Blacklands. After about a week of working there we moved the sessions up to Portland and finished the overdubs and mixing at Everything Hz which is the studio our producer, Billy Anderson, has up there. We keep the gear pretty straight forward – you know basically our live backline which right now is Marshall JCM 2000 which has been heavily modded and an Ampeg SVT. For some of the overdubs we got into some other amps – most notably some custom Hovercraft stuff – which sounds awesome. I like a lot of the guitar sound to come from my guitar anyways – an old 72 Les Paul with p90’s – so it’s best to keep it simple to get that tone. A lot of the solos were done using my back up guitar which is loaded with a Lace Nitro in the bridge pick up and a Lace Hemi in the neck pick up.
Do you generally enter the studio with finished songs or do you hash them out in the studio?
MD: Our songs are fully demoed before we go in to record. For me to be able to accomplish that much guitar tracking in the studio in such a short amount of time there has to be a lot of preproduction which is how we look at the demos. Mapping out the instrumentation and tracking – that kind of thing.
How does Under Siege compare to your previous albums, sonically and thematically?
MD: Sonically I’m really happy with it – it’s got great tone and has some crispness which we wanted this time… it’s a little more metallic sounding which suits the songs on the record. As for the theme that was an ongoing things as we wrote the songs and put together the album and art concepts. Basically we used the labyrinth myth and the concept of mazes, real and imagined to not only lend a visual but in a way with the arrangement of the songs.
How have the early reactions to Under Siege been so far?
MD: So far they’ve been amazing. We never know what to expect – you know I feel like we’re not rehashing anything from our last record or the record before that – it’s a new sound for us. That’s what we try to do – move forward, so that also brings about an unknown when you factor in people’s reactions. Especially if they have expectations of what your record should sound like but so far the record has been met with some real appreciation which is great.
The Under Siege cover art is striking. How did that come into play?
MD: Denis also did the Blacklands cover and he was at the top of the wish list to design Under Siege. We were lucky he was available and also very interested right from the initial conversation regarding the labyrinth concept that we wanted to work with visually. He had been doing his own studies on the Greek myths and legends of the labyrinth so for him I think the piece was a culmination of a few years of research and to hear him talk about the symbology involved is a treat. We hope to release something soon that will have some added features, like for instance Denis’s added comments and explanations on the artwork… maybe in a video or something.
What bands are you currently listening to? Who are some of your all-time favorites?
MD: I don’t listen to a lot of music while we’re writing and recording so it’s been awhile but over the last month on tour we had the opportunity to get into some bands that we were touring with. Conan from the UK, who have a new record out that sounds great, and also The Graviators from Sweden were very cool. Also enjoyed Kongh from Sweden and were blown away by Gonga when we played with them, another UK band.
Anything else that you’d like to add?
MD: See you on the road!
Castle Tour Dates:
5/15 Glendale, CA – The Complex
5/16 San Diego, CA – The Tower Bar
5/17 Las Vegas, NV – The Dive
5/18 Tempe, AZ – 51 West
5/19 Albuquerque, NM – Launch Pad
5/20 Dallas, TX – Three Links
5/21 Austin, TX – Beerland
5/22 Houston, TX – Mangos
5/25 Orlando, FL – Backbooth
5/26 Pembroke Pines, FL – Talent Farm
5/27 Jacksonville, FL – Atticus Bar
5/28 Atlanta, GA – Drunken Unicorn
5/31 Brooklyn, NY – Acheron
6/1 Boston, MA – Great Scott
6/2 Burlington, VT – TBA
6/3 Cleveland, OH – Now That’s Class
6/4 Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge
6/5 St. Louis, MO – Fubar
6/6 Lawrence, KS – Jackpot
6/8 Salt Lake City, UT – Lo Fi Cafe
6/10 San Francisco, CA – Knockout
Editor's Notes: Huge thanks to Mat for taking some time between tours to give me some fantastic answers. As I said, I'll be reviewing Under Siege later this week, but I urge you all to have a listen before then. It's a really fantastic record. -JO
A few months back, I stopped by Backstage Café in Covington to check out a random metal show. One of the early bands on the bill was Dismemberment, a blackened thrash band hailing from Laurelville, OH, which isn't far from where the Blogger of Doom grew up. Naturally, that piqued my interest. It turns out that Dismemberment was in the midst of a three night run with the mighty Skeletonwitch and took a detour through Covington on a night off. I couldn't have been more impressed with the live show and I've been eagerly awaiting a full-length release ever since. That wait is nearly over, as Dismemberment is set to release Embrace the Dark next Tuesday (4/29) on Horror Pain Gore Death Records. From what I've heard so far, the album is one of the essential metal releases of 2014. The quartet is proving once again that Ohio has somehow become ground zero for American heavy metal. I recently had a chat with Dismemberment bassist J.D. Henderly to get the scoop on the recent Dismemberment news.
How did Dismemberment come together and how long have you been at it?
J.D. Henderly: Luke (Shively, guitars/vocals) and Jake (Shively, guitars) formed Dismemberment in early 2010 while Taylor (Emerine, drums) and myself were playing in Butchered Remains. Taylor had jammed with them a handful of times and told me I had to come down and check it out, so we showed up and played an early version of “Possessed” and I was immediately hooked. We've been at it pretty steadily ever since and have been lucky enough to share the stage with a pretty large amount of incredible acts. Hard to believe it's been four years.
When and where did you record the new record?
JD: We recorded Embrace The Dark at Club Sandwich in Columbus, OH with Travis Lautenschlager. It was an awesome experience all around. Travis is great to work with and he tossed in some killer ideas as well. As far as the bass went, I basically just brought in my rig that I always play with live and let him tweak it and dial it in his own way. We ended up with the best tone I've ever had hands down. I believe Travis deemed it "nasty chainsaw bass". After laying the tracks down there, we sent the record to Joel Grind to mix and then Dan Randall at Mammoth Sound for mastering. We are all super grateful for everyone's hard work and contributions. It came out sounding way more killer than I could have imagined.
What kind of gear did you use on the new album?
JD: I used a 70's Aims Jazz bass copy through a DOD FX80-B Compressor Sustainer which ran into a Traynor TS50-B powering a Peavy 410 TX as well as a custom 1x15" cab. Oh, and a Boss TU-3 tuner.
How have you been received so far on your series of mini-tours?
JD: It's gone pretty well so far. We've met some awesome people and seen some killer acts. Stayed in some nasty hotels; one with a mystery boot print on the wall and another with some questionable sheets. Detroit was really cool, as was Ft. Wayne and Covington. Got to stop by Niagara Falls after we played in Buffalo, where Jake and I found ourselves driving the promoter's van 30 minutes to our hotel to grab the keys to the trailer we had left behind. All in all it's been amazing.
Who are some of your main influences?
JD: For me definitely Steve DiGiorgio and Kelly Conlon for their works with Death. DiGiorgio is unreal in his creativity and Conlon has some of the most intelligent bass lines I have ever heard on the Symbolic record. Tone-wise I kinda try to shoot somewhere between Land Phil from Municipal Waste and Lemmy. I also draw a little bit from Jeff Matz of High on Fire and Dan Maines of Clutch.
Who are you currently listening to?
JD: The past couple days I've been listening to Clutch's new one, Earth Rocker, which is quickly becoming one of my favorites from them, Municipal Waste's Massive Aggressive, Carcass's Surgical Steel, which is fucking killer, and a bit of Revocation here and there, Existence Is Futile and Chaos Of Forms.
Editor's Notes: Big thanks to J.D. for taking some time to speak with us here at The Blog of Doom. To hear some tracks off of Embrace the Dark, check out Dismemberment's bandcamp page at the link below. Pre-orders of Embrace the Dark are available now. - JO
Widely considered the pioneers of the doom metal scene, Saint Vitus are currently slated to celebrate their 35th Anniversary with a US tour that kicks off next month. 35 years of sustained success in the metal underground, especially for a US band, is a major accomplishment. We all need to take a moment this weekend to listen to the Vitus and appreciate everything they've done for doom over the years (I'm currently blasting the 1984 self-titled album). I recently caught up with founding guitarist Dave Chandler to discuss the band's success and future plans, among other things.
First off, congratulations on making it to 35 years! Other than personnel changes, what’s the biggest difference between Saint Vitus then and Saint Vitus now?
Dave Chandler: Back when we started playing we were the only ones, so the majority of the heavy metal audience didn't care about Doom. All that has changed drastically - making it easier for a band like us to play for a broader audience.
To what do attribute the band’s longevity?
DC: To the fans and I guess the fact that we've never really changed much. When we retired in 1995 Doom metal started happening and people started listening. When we came back in 2003, younger people already knew about us and had been keeping us alive.
How has the doom scene changed in the last 35 years?
DC: There was no scene when we started, but the few people that came to see us were our age or older. Now, there are all generations coming to the shows.
Who are you favorite current doom bands?
DC: I'm still old school.
Besides doom, what are you currently listening to?
DC: Zodiac (from Australia), Red Fang, Pink, Patti Smith, and Wall of Voodoo.
What can fans expect from Vitus on the upcoming tour?
DC: A bludgeoning.
What kind of guitars, amps and pedals are you using live these days?
DC: Schecter guitars, Marshall amps, and whatever pedals I can find that work.
What’s next for Saint Vitus?
DC: After we finish the upcoming U.S. tour there's a possibility of South America, but we're definitely taking the 35th Anniversary to Europe for about six weeks in the fall.
Recently while scrolling through the Twitter feed, I began to notice some wild, brutal, sexy pictures of one of a kind, custom, heavy metal clothing for women. I have to admit it took me a few days to put it all together and come to the realization that all of these outstanding pieces were the work of one artist, namely Rebecca Conrad, who operates an Etsy shop called Hell Couture. Obviously, I had to get in touch with Ms. Conrad to find out more.
How did you get started in fashion?
Rebecca Conrad: I started cutting up band shirts for myself many years ago in high school just out of necessity because I wanted my band t-shirts to fit. I'm old; back then I was hard pressed to find shirts of my favorite bands at all, let alone any that would fit me. Years later, I opened an etsy shop on a whim just to see if anything would sell, never expecting it to take off as well as it did. It was definitely never anything I thought about as a child or even when I went to college. I only began to take it seriously after I started Hell Couture.
When did you start Hell Couture?
Do you have any formal fashion training?
RC: None at all; I'm 100% self-taught.
So is Hell Couture your full-time job now or just a hobby?
RC: It's my full time and only job.
Are you still repurposing band t-shirts, or do you start from scratch now?
RC: For Hell Couture I just repurpose existing band t-shirts. I buy the t-shirts and basically use them as fabric along with other materials depending on what I'm making it into. I have another website (aulendil.com) where I make clothing that is not centered around a t-shirt (with the exception of personal collaborations I do with certain artists from time to time, which I feature on both sites), but I rarely have time to work on those items or that site with HC being so busy.
Do you find that most of your customers are ladies, or is it mostly guys buying gifts for their gals?
RC: It is mostly girls, but I do have a handful of steady male customers buying clothes for their girlfriends.
Have any bands approached you about featuring your items at their merch booths, or do you still only sell online?
RC: Yes. I'm always flattered by the offer but ultimately it doesn't make a whole lot of sense when we begin to hash the details out for a number of reasons. However, I'm very lucky to have the encouragement and support of a great deal of the bands represented on Hell Couture. It's been a completely unexpected honor that so many of the artists whom I am a fan of would be so kind and complimentary.
Are you a heavy metal fan yourself, or is that just your target base?
RC: Of course. I would never make something representing a band I did not support or was not personally a fan of.
Who are some of your all-time favorite metal bands?
RC: Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, W.A.S.P., Burzum, Gorgoroth, Sargeist, Horna, Judas Priest, Musta Surma, Satanic Warmaster, Goatmoon, Graveland, Judas Iscariot, Katharsis....I'll stop there or this could become an incredibly long answer. Who are you listening to these days?
RC: The new Sargeist is a masterpiece, as expected. Cosmic Church's Ylitsys, Harvest's Forgotten Vampyres of The Melancholic Night, Hoath's Codex II: Kether and Cultes Des Ghoules' Henbane are all records I apparently need to listen to 300 times in a row once I put them on, these days.
Editor's Notes: Thank you, Rebecca, for taking time out of your busy Hell Couture schedule to provide some insight into your work for The Blog of Doom! You are certainly doing your part to make the world a more metal place. For those of you interested in Rebecca's designs, please check out the links below. New designs are posted frequently on Twitter. - JO
I get a lot of doom metal albums coming across my desk these days, which I guess is bound to happen when you operate a website called The Blog of Doom. Some of the records are good, most of them are great, and then you have the rare release that pushes the boundaries of doom, forces me to pay 100% attention and ends up in my car stereo for a solid week or more. That's exactly what happened when I received a copy of Beyond Shades, the debut album from Ukranian doom lords Crypt of Silence. With their progressive mix of doom and death metal, these young Ukranians have created something so fresh and powerful and unique that I just had to find out more. I managed to track down Crypt of Silence frontman Mikhael Graver for an interview.
How did you get into doom and who are your influences?
Mikhael Graver: Hello! First of all, music is a voice of the soul. We tried different styles and genres but death-doom became the best tool to express our thoughts and emotions. Of course we do not put any boundaries on our work. In future, we will combine our style with a bit of post rock, atmospheric black metal, and funeral doom. But our main direction in music, we believe, stays the same. There is a lot of great music that inspires us and has some influence on our creativity. Mostly our Influences are Mourning Beloveth, Esoteric, Saturnus, Mournful Congregation, My Dying Bride, Pantheist, Shape of Despair and many others.
What are you currently listening to?
MG: Tastes differ. We listen Behemoth, Lifelover, God is an Astronaut, Tool, Hypocrisy, Death, Enslaved, Amon Amarth. From old school we like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Joy Division, Pink Floyd, Candlemass, Black Sabbath, etc.
Where and when did you record Beyond Shades?
MG: The work on our album began on summer 2013. As it was our first experience, not all things worked out as we planned. The mastering was done by Yevgeny Semenov , the great sound manager from Slow Burn Records studios. He has made monumental efforts to make our album as it sounds now.
What kind of gear are you using on the album?
MG: We used Mesa Boogie, Marshall preamps for guitars and Hiwatt for bass, SansAmp tech 21 guitar pedals and Meinl cymbals.
How did the band get started?
MG: It was created in 2009 by me - Mikhael Graver (Bass Guitar, Vox) and Igor Kim (Rhythm Guitar) as a studio project "Duskart". After recording "Shadows at the wall", the single, at home studio in 2010, we made decision to invite Roman Komyati (Solo Guitar), Andriy Buchinskiy (Drums) and change our musical direction from studio project with dirt/black/drone doom metal to the full value band with more expressive Classic Doom/Death sound. After such huge changes the band decided to change its name to "Crypt Of Silence". In 2011, Igor left the band and became our manager. His position was occupied by Volodymyr Mukha, but not for a long time. A few months later, he left too. Since then and up to the present, the band's rhythm guitarist is Roman Kharandyuk.
How do you keep track of all of the parts in your 10+ minute songs?
MG: It is not as difficult as it seems. We think that songs must be complete in musical and lyrical sense. And when we feel that a song is complete and it brings the necessary semantic weight, we stop, no matter how long it is. If you are putting your soul into work there is no any difficulties at all. And fifteen minutes for a track is not a limit for our band. And in next album we will prove that.
Is there a big doom scene, or metal scene in general, in Ukraine?
MG: There are a lot of good and interesting bands and projects in Ukraine. For example, Nokturnal Mortum, Kroda, Drudkh, Flashgore, Stoned Jesus. But Doom scene in Ukraine is not so developed, compared to other countries.
Do you have any tour plans coming up?
MG: We participate in a couple performances in Ukraine. Also we are looking forward to start European tour but it is not so easy for a young doom metal band.
What's next for Crypt of Silence?
MG: We are going to release at least two albums in future. This summer we are getting to work on our next album; it will be released in 2015. There is a lot of work to be done. Crypt of Silence is a young band, we are continuously working on new content and looking for opportunities to show what we have already made.
Editor's Notes: Big thanks to Mikhael for taking some time to give us some excellent insights into his band's history and vision. I'll publish a full review of Beyond Shades as soon as possible, but in the meantime you can check out Crypt of Silence via the link below. Hopefully these guys can get out on tour soon and spread their work to the masses. -JO
Fresh off of their first European tour, Cincinnati rockers Valley of the Sun recently released their long awaited debut full length album, Electric Talons of the Thunderhawk, on Fuzzorama Records. Cincinnati residents can pick up the new album this Friday, 4/4 at the Valley of the Sun record release show at Northside Tavern with special guests Electric Citizen. That's going to be a killer show, right? I recently had a chat with the VotS guys to check in on the album, tour, and future plans.
First off, welcome home! How was the European tour? Anything crazy to report?
AARON: The tour was great, we got to play a variety of different types of venues. We were also fortunate to meet all sorts of awesome new people in cities and countries we'd never been to before and make some great new friendships. It was also cool to be able to play our music and get some of the best reactions we ever have in front of a crowd. We're thankful to Truckfighters and White Miles for having us along.
RYAN M: Europe was insane, beautiful and delicious. My brain and spirit have been forever altered by the experience. The culture of live music over there is unreal. The people are so kind and the clubs are amazing.
How would you describe your sound to the uninitiated?
RYAN M: High Gravity, Imperial Rock and Roll. We're three dudes who play the shit out of our instruments and get off on it.
AARON: I would describe VOTS as a loud rock band. There's elements of stoner rock, punk rock, classic rock......I think there's also a difference between describing us on record and us live.
Who are some of your influences and who are you listening to these days?
RYAN F: Guitarists who inspire me are Jimi Hendrix, Alvin Lee, Josh Homme and Django, of course! Vocal inspiration comes from Chris Cornell, Josh Homme, Scott Weiland and John Garcia.
RYAN M: Anything with a killer bass player. Led Zep to Vince Guaraldi Trio. Rush, Yes, Sabbath, Tool…I like bands that are tight and play with time. I also love straight up raw rock and roll and have been digging all the rock records by Boris lately.
AARON: I have the same influences every other rock drummer has: John Bonham, Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, maybe a touch of Tommy Lee, but I also take inspiration from more modern players like Jorma Vik and Dave Grohl. My personal listening is sort of varied. I can tell you the 5 albums I had on repeat during this tour; Florence and the Machine - Ceremonials, Red Fang - Whales and Leeches, Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe, and Royal Thunder - CVI.
You have a new record out on Fuzzorama Records. Can you describe the recording experience for us?
AARON: This record was recorded at Nada Studio in New Windsor, NY. It's the same studio and producer as The Sayings of the Seers from 2011. It was a pretty standard recording experience: we stayed 7 nights in a murder hotel, 7 nights in a business class hotel, 10 hour studio days, falling asleep to "Predator". I usually use a house studio kit to record but this time I took my personal kit, a Tama Starclassic Bubinga and a mish mash of different cymbals.
RYAN M: Recording was a whirlwind. We busted the album out in two weeks among various injuries, bad weather, illnesses, shady hotel rooms, hilarious late nights and lots of hot wings. I used my Fender TB1200 bass rig with a handful of effects and a 4003 Rickenbacker to cut the bass tracks.
RYAN F: Hiwatt DR103 and DR504, Sovtek MIG 100, Marshall JCM800, Gibson Les Paul Standard, Gibson SG Standard, Boss OC-2, Crybaby and, of course, Green Sovtek/EH BIG MUFF.
How did valley of the sun come together?
AARON: I had spent a couple of years trying to get something going but was having a tough time. I had emailed Ryan F. and a guy named Chris Owens who were both previously in a band called Blacklight Barbarian. I dug what they did so when their band broke up I got in touch to see if either of them would be into starting something new. They were both down so we got together and jammed. About that time a guitarist I had been playing with on and off named Casey Beagle got in touch and we had him out. That was the Mark I lineup of VotS. Long story short, both Chris and Casey left the band and we picked up Ryan McAllister and kept moving forward.
Cincinnati has seen a resurgence of loud, heavy rock bands recently. To what do you attribute this rock revival?
AARON: I don't know but it rules. The new Mangrenade track has me super excited to hear the rest of their new album. It's really just cool to have such an amazing group of bands to get to play shows with. I think Cincinnati is luckier than most in regards to its local rock scene.
RYAN M: First of all, I fucking love all the rock in this town these days. I'm not sure what to attribute it to exactly. If I had to wager a guess I would say it might have something to do with people needing some kind of musical release. People's tastes swing like a pendulum but I think a lot of us are always looking for a rowdy good time. To me that’s what rock and roll is regardless of whatever the genre du jour is at a given time.
What's the best thing about living in Cincinnati?
RYAN M: I love the people in this town, the food and the local beer.
AARON: For me the best thing is its geographic location. I love being so close to so many cool cities: it's not a far drive to Columbus, Indy, Louisville, Chicago---so yeah, my favorite thing about Cincinnati is being able to get out of it fairly easily…haha.
What's next for Valley of the Sun?
AARON: Hopefully more of Europe if we're lucky.
RYAN M: Shows, writing a new record, eating a lot of tacos.
Editor's Notes: Huge thanks to Ryan, Ryan, and Aaron for taking time out of their busy schedules to answer some questions for us here. Click on the links above to check out the new album and don't forget to check out Valley of the Sun this Friday at Northside Tavern if you're going to be in the Cincinnati area. These guys absolutely destroy on stage. - JO