Witching Metal Webzine

Witching Metal Webzine

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Inquisition Interview

Witching Metal: Hails Dagon! To start this interview off, why don’t you tell us a bit about Inquisition? Just some background information on who is in the band, what bands you and Incubus have played with in the past, what Inquisition has released over the years, how the band was formed and anything else you find relevant.

Dagon: From 1983 to 1996 I lived in Colombia, South America where half of my family is from and it was there where I discovered metal music at the young age of 13. After learning to play guitar, by the age of 14 I had some bands, none worth mentioning… by the age of 17 in 1989 Inquisition formed. It was like a different band, it was a Thrash Metal band, a very aggressive one especially live and I released two demos in that style dating 1990 and 1993.

I eventually broke away from that style and moved Inquisition into a darker arena, the members I had were not sharing the same tastes at the time and did not care for this musical and ideological “shift”, myself feeling very strong about this I asked the members to leave, I basically gathered my things and decided to move back to the United States in 1996 and start my life and Inquisition all over again.

I met quickly with a drummer when I arrived in Seattle whom I had met through Odin of Moribund Records, Tom Stevens (Incubus), who also had been playing drums for many years in everything from old school hardcore to Death Metal bands like Blood Ritual from Seattle. The chemistry was there, it worked and here we are 16 years and 5 albums later and moving forward as the same two piece that started in ’96.

WM: How would you describe Inquisitions unique sound to someone who has not heard your music before?

Dagon:  Somber, powerful, majestic… raw and bold to the taste with a polished finish in the end. The vocals are invocative, spoken, never trying to dominate the song, they simply set a mood of serenity with a reptilian tone.

I would tell anyone who is expecting traditional Black metal to not keep their expectations high because Inquisition will never meet those expectations. We will either be below them or far above them, we are a love it or hate it band.

We make effort to bring something new to the table and give you an experience. If you don’t find that experience on your first tries you just might find it later and that is why many label us as a “grower”… that fine drink that tasted like shit before but eventually you learned it was something special.

WM: Why did you choose to change direction from the more thrash influenced material present on your early releases to the ritualistic black metal Inquisition is now known for?

Dagon:  Change is the only thing constant and the reason is nature tries to improve itself while changing. In Black metal almost anything goes musically speaking, there are no barriers. If you try to blast beat in Thrash Metal purists will question it for example. Black Metal is where pushing the limits, and more, is the very essence of its existence. This is what I wanted, a place in music where everything mas accepted so long it was done tastefully and with maximum meaning. I could identify with it and wanted it, Black Metal, obscurity, occultism, Satanism in general on a spiritual level to label it so and beyond that I was seeking a genre where music was beyond the rock and roll spirit. 

WM: What ideals are behind the music Inquisition produces? Judging by the song titles, lyrics and artwork; one would assume a Satanic and/or Occult agenda, could you go into a bit of detail behind your theological inspirations?

Dagon: The spirit of nature and the astral plane. Whenever you question why we are here, I seek the answer through deep thought and try to make sense of it and sing about it. Everyone from the Egyptians and Sumerians, to the ancient Greeks and Native Americans questioned this, why we are here and what role does nature and the cosmos play for us. I cannot clearly explain in a logical context what our topics are because they are questions I have yet to answer, but I will leave you with the fact that everything we sing about is adoration for the unseen, the forces of nature and the cosmic forces that are constant and destroy while they also create. Who are we amongst this cycle and war between the forces of black holes and expansions of multiverses?

I hope my metaphors guided you into somewhat of an idea.

WM: Expanding on my previous question, what musical influences have an effect on how you go about writing music for Inquistion? What type of music do you listen to on a regular basis?

Dagon: I listen to allot of Old Tangerine Dream, their music from 1969 to 1976 grabs me like nothing can in Metal. I have been listening to them since the 70’s when my older brother was playing the album “Stratosphere” all the time. Michael Jarre, his two classics that need no mention here are also playing through my devices allot. I think this is where the repetitiveness and ritual aspect of Inquisition comes from.

Dead Can Dance, basically every single album possesses me. It is some of the most beautiful music ever made in modern times, they do it right.

Music from the Gothic period to the end of the Baroque encompasses my favorite music. It is here where everything I write and feel come from. This is where the most mystical, dark and yet beautiful music comes from… in my world. No amplifiers needed, no distortion needed, no screaming needed… subtle beauty is the beast and as a musician I owe everything we do to the masters of the old past of early Europe. To keep the answer simple I will not mention any particular composers.

When it comes to Metal music, who inspired me so much have been AC/DC because of the guitar work, stripped down “basic” playing with incredible tone, but behind this simplicity comes the ability to make it work just right. To start with a million ideas and strip everything down to the point where minimum is maximum is something I adore and AC/DC are in a clear first place when it comes to this approach I apply myself. Early Kreator, early Sodom and Bathory and into the 90’s bands like early Immortal and Graveland inspired me very much.

WM: Why did you choose to name your band Inquisition? Does the word hold any particular meaning to you?

Dagon: I primarily chose this name because of the era it comes from and because of what was behind the entire institution. Dark Ages, mass execution, mass torture, genocide in general and the struggle to dominate a continent through a religious institution is a classic example of the beast in man.

WM: Do you feel Inquisition has “progressed” or “evolved” musically since your beginnings way back in the late 80s? If so, how?

Dagon: Good question because I always choose the word “evolve”. Basically you can still hear the old Inquisition in the framework of the current Inquisition. Most of what would have been palm muted on the guitars in the old days is open tremolo picked chords today, blast beats now versus half of that before, power chords then and power chords now but with more minors tucked away in there keeping the mood nostalgic. It’s like taking a Thrash Metal song and “blackening” it… that’s what Inquisition is.

WM: How did you come up with the idea to use the ritualistic “chant” like vocals that serve, along with the interesting guitar work, to set Inquisition apart from the black metal pack?

Dagon: There are multiple reasons behind this. The main reason is I tried on demo #3 (Incense of Rest) the screaming style and later realized I wanted something more mystical, by mystical I mean a voice that was not a primary focus and that sort of sat in the back ground quietly not drawing too much attention to itself… if that makes sense.

I thought this out over a course of time, how to sound, how to do it and what tone did I want so it simply didn’t sound average. But I clearly remember one day in April ’96 sitting in a camping trailer out in the woods, only having my guitar and a cassette recorder on batteries experimenting and finally finding “the” voice. It was a bit different but quite grim, a bit like old Tormentor or Root. 

I later moved into an apartment and being I could not be so loud at night I began recording my riffs and vocals at low levels… it was then when I noticed that this style of vocals at lower levels, performed quietly would suit the music just the way I wanted it to and conveyed the message and essence perfectly to my taste without ever thinking, for a second, that it would be one of – if not – the most controversial thing I could have done.

As for the guitar work in response to the second part of the question. I never wanted thin and bright guitars like the type that were being used in most Black Metal of the day. I always wanted a thick and heavy sounding guitar to back up those subtle vocals creating a contrast. I aimed for a heavy and strong tremolo picked style with heavy gauged strings and tuned down to D while also applying some basics of classical guitar I learned for five years. Basically this combination of important techniques used in Thrash Metal, Death Metal and Classical guitar combined into one mass. One thing you don’t see and realize you hear is, I play hard, very hard, heavy picking at all times and at times creating dynamics on the opposite end of the spectrum by picking very lightly to add some dynamics, this is done mostly more now than before but in general this is what you are hearing.

 WM: Another thing I have noticed about Inquisition is that you are one of few black metal bands who continue to use corpse paint whilst many other bands have abandoned its use. What does the paint symbolize to you and why do you continue to use it?

Dagon: If we stop using it I would hate to have to tell you we stopped using it because everyone now uses it or removing it is the thing to do now.

My favorite part of the face paint is knowing it no longer holds shock value. It should not have shock value and it should not be a distraction from what matters most which is the music and the mood you are trying to lead listeners into.

The face paint is an aid to eliminate the “you” and bring out the inner self for reasons of heightening the spirit. It is an ancient practice, if not a pre historic practice always done before battles and rituals or on occasions of great importance and a brilliant idea to have brought into Black Metal because it enhances the mood of the performer, it wipes away the personal connection between you and the listener as your face is no longer “there” and gives the musician a moment to transcend into the mood right before stepping onto stage.

WM: Why does Inquisition choose to work as a two-piece? This seems rather unusual in the case of a band that regularly tours and plays live. Do you feel the practice of only having two members in the band affects the sound in a positive or negative way, if any way at all?

Dagon: It has been very positive and this is why we choose to continue this way. The simple answer is “it works” and “it is not broken so why fix it”?

The details are that we had a bass player for 3 months; he had some personal issues that became conflictive with the band. Unfortunately we had to continue without him and after a while of not having a bass player and not even being interested in finding one since there were none in our area we could relate to, I figured if we sound good in a rehearsal room we could sound even better live as a two piece. We tried it and it worked, we tried it again and it worked. We went to Europe in 2001 as a two piece and it worked well… so, why not continue this way and so we did.

I like the bass; it is a vital part of music. However, you can exist without one. What I mean by that is that if your style allows for it, you can exist without a bass. Our first full length album has a bass; you don’t even notice it, because our style allows for it not even being there.

I actually have a demo of our latest album with every song having a bass line because I wrote bass for the album to see if we should do it. The verdict was that we sounded different and not different–good, rather different in a way we did not like it, and yes I wrote very good bass lines yet we still felt the same way some bands would feel if they were to add a keyboard to their music.

At the end of the day, what adds to the Inquisition sound is the fact that we are a two piece on and off the stage. Remember what I said earlier, anything can be done musically in Black Metal as long as it is done tastefully. I respect bass, I cannot imagine allot of music without low bass lines… just remember, my guitar style incorporates bass lines in at least the guitar lines so there are some bass melodies most of the time.

WM: Does Inquisition often perform live shows? What can one expect upon attending one of these?

Dagon: We perform allot, every month we are somewhere performing. We enjoy it, that’s why we do it so much. I feel music is best understood when the artist is there in front of the listener executing a song they have listened to at home multiple times. Unfortunately shows are not the best atmosphere for listening to music, but we have to come to accept the fact that these are modern times when Metal shows are not going to be in castles and caves.

What to expect from us live? A quick 60 minutes of transcendental and ritualistic Black Metal while offering the most head banging you may ever do at a Black Metal show. We keep things mystical but we never leave out groove, we want to move you spiritually and physically.

WM: What short and long term goals are planned for the future of Inquisition? Are there any plans to tour, or perhaps work on a new release? I know you’ll be touring Australia next week, playing a couple of shows with Vomitor and also headlining the Friday and Saturday nights of the Evil Invaders festival next week, a weekend which I am really looking forward to, what are your thoughts regarding this tour and festival?
Dagon: I definitely cannot wait to hear Vomitor. Believe me, if I am saying that it is because I truly mean it.

I know the Australian scene well when it comes to bands and its role in music. What I also know is your bands are absolutely violent, catchy and perform from the heart with allot of passion. That says allot about the people down there and what’s in your water. That being said my conclusion is that Inquisition will fit right in. This is our first time there and it’s a special trip for sure. I am glad this happened now while having 5 albums and not before, this enables us to offer you a great set list.

Next year we will have a new album out. Season of Mist Records signed us and will be the label releasing it worldwide, not just in their territory. We have already made some progress with new songs, working slowly, carefully, methodically while inspiration leads us.

Sometime after Fall we will be closing the chapter of the “Ominous Doctrines…” world touring, take a break, get the album finished, enter the studio and wait for its release while giving the scene a break from Inquisition. Once the next album is out, tours will have been booked for 2013 and we go from there. We want to grow in a healthy way by pushing the limits more and more and we want to leave a good name in Black Metal before we stop doing this one day, we cannot do that if we don’t work hard at it. That’s the future you have asked me about.

WM: Thank you for taking the time to complete this interview. Any last words?

Dagon: This was a good opportunity to bring readers into our world for a brief moment and introduce them lightly to our activity. To the readers: support your local promoter, this really is no easy task for them and in turn we will leave you with an experience. We are not out to make history, but we definitely will take you places through the spells. Enter the cult.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Svart Guder Interview

Svart Guder is a two-piece black metal band from Canada. I sat down yesterday and had a chat with one of their members, Thayne.

Witching Metal: Greetings Thayne! Before we get right into this interview could you please give myself and the readers a bit of background info on your band Svart Guder? Just the basics for now; who’s in the band? What have you released so far? How was the band formed? Etc.

Thayne: Since we reformed it is now currently myself (Bass and vocals) and guitar player Adam, we are choosing to stay a two man act for this release and probably after it, too. For drums we will be using a drum program. So far we have done one release which was a two track demo; we had started a second one but that was scratched when we went on hold in November. Svart Guder was founded by myself and our old guitar player after we tried doing a failed pagan black metal band that we never recorded, so, instead we started Svart Guder to play a more rough sound than what our failed project was aiming for.

WM: You mentioned the band going on hold, why did you choose to go on hiatus back in November? Since you also said Svart Guder is a departure from your previous pagan black metal influenced project, could you please tell us what influences you musically when writing for Svart Guder?

Thayne: We chose to go on hiatus due to lack of writing and loss of our drummer. We originally were going to return back in January but that just never happened so I reformed it with Adam instead of the other member at the time, Doug. Some of the influences are Weapon, Australia's Erebus Enthroned, Burzum of course, Inquisition, Taake, Satanic Warmaster, Falkenbach is an influence I have brought with me from the failed pagan black metal project, early Darkthrone also has a definite influence.

WM: Is there any particular ideal or agenda behind your motivation to write music? Why have you chosen the name Svart Guder to represent what you play? Does it hold any special meaning to you? What do the words actually mean?

Thayne: We write music because both of us have a love for our instruments, a burning desire to write black metal and keep the black flame burning so to say. As for the name being of Norwegian heritage and growing up learning Norwegian I wanted my band to have a name as such. The words themselves simply mean Black Gods.

WM: On your previous demo, which you showed me last year, you showcased a very raw and chaotic black metal sound, will future releases have a similar sound or do you plan to “progress”, so to speak?

Thayne: We are going to continue with a very raw and chaotic sound with maybe a change in vocal style since the previous release but from our current stand point we are going to continue the same style of raw chaotic black metal we were playing a year ago.

WM: What else can we expect from the upcoming album? Have you planned a title yet or completed any songs?

Thayne: We are currently writing the album. I can tell you that we are going to do around 5 songs with an intro and outro. The album will be entitled Forest of the Black Gods.

WM: Aside from the upcoming album, what other goals does Svart Guder hope to achieve in the future? Are there plans to ever play live? What about future releases aside from the album? Do you plan on releasing some merchandise to accompany the album? Have you received any label interest yet?

Thayne: Currently we aren’t looking to do shows but who knows what the future will tell. We hope to do a split some time soon. We are planning on doing some shirts for the album maybe like a package deal, ya know? We did receive interest from the first demo a year ago so lets hope the new one will spark some more.

WM: Thank you for the interview. Do you have any last words for myself or the readers?

Thayne: Thank you for speaking with us Wayde. Remember to support your local metal bands and keep the flame burning!

Reveal – Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth

Reveal is a band from Sweden who play black/thrash with a heavy dose of traditional metal and rock’n’roll influences thrown in. Their music also carries a strange and subtle psychedelic vibe not usually present in this type of music. “Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth” is their debut album and only release so far. It was released on LP back in March last year by High Roller Records but has recently been rereleased on CD by Invictus Productions.

This is a really fun and unpredictable album to listen to. The band mostly sticks to a mid-paced black/thrash sound not unlike what the pre-Tiamat band, Treblinka, displayed on their demos, but occasionally tinges of psychedelic rock appear, as evidenced on the title track and “Murderer”. 

Running only for 29 minutes, “Nocturne…” has given Reveal a chance to showcase their unique take on an often overdone style without overstaying their welcome. The production is decent and allows you to hear everything clearly and giving each instrument a chance to shine. 

There’s only so much I can say about “Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth”, but given that these Swedes are apparently only in their late teens/early twenties, I would definitely tag Reveal as a band to watch out for. These young men have shown a lot of potential without saying too much too soon with this album.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mongrel’s Cross - The Sins of Aquarius

Mongrel’s Cross is a three-piece black/thrash band who I got into when I found a promo CD of theirs stuffed into my pocket after a drunken night last year with no recollection whatsoever of how I came into possession of this disc. Their style is pretty straightforward black/thrash, obviously influenced by other Australian bands such as; Gospel of the Horns, Vomitor, Assaulter, Nocturnal Graves and Deströyer 666. They have just dropped the CD release of their debut album “The Sins of Aquarius” on Hells Headbangers, apparently to be followed by the vinyl release in July. They’ve also recently put out a split with Innsmouth, which I’ve yet to hear.

The first thing that someone who has heard “Whoresanna” or their demo will notice is that the band sound a lot more tight and have added in a prominent death metal influence and a few epic metal tinges into their rough and raw black/thrash formula, proving this album to be a very interesting ride. A lot of the stuff present on their early releases is still there; heavy and evil thrashing riffs, snarling vocals full of attitude and the punky drumming that drives everything along at just the right pace. The rough and raw feel is still there, it’s just slightly buried under a semi-evolved approach, which suits the band surprisingly well. I really wasn’t expecting the sound to change much on the full length, but I’m certainly not disappointed.

The production job isn’t too different from the “Whoresanna” 7inch in terms of how the mix sounds; just cleaned up a bit, as you would expect on a full length release. The songs themselves are excellent, showcasing some of the bands strongest writing to date. The standouts, for me, are; “Rabid Inception”, “Lead them from the Promised Land” and “Indulge the Temple”. 

With releases like “The Sins of Aquarius”, the new Gospel of the Horns EP and the recently recorded, soon to be released album from Hellbringer, who needs fuckin' useless retro thrash?


Monday, May 28, 2012

Inverloch - Dusk | Subside

So-called “funeral” doom has never really been my style of doom metal, as I always found it really difficult to get into and preferred more straightforward traditional doom and death/doom bands; however, there are a couple of bands that have caught my attention in this style. Namely: Winter, Mournful Congregation, Evoken and diSEMBOWELMENT. Unfortunately, I never really got into diSEMBOWELMENT until well after they split up. Luckily for people like me, a couple of former members recently formed a “continuation” band of sorts, known briefly as d.USK, playing live sets of old diSEMBOWELMENT tunes, and now d.USK has finally evolved into a full fledged project under the name Inverloch. “Dusk | Subside” is their first EP, which was recently released on Relapse Records.

diSEMBOWELMENT originally caught my attention due to the strong elements of death metal and grindcore mixed in with their extremely slow doom metal styling. There was just something about that strange and eclectic mixing of genres that really grabbed and moved me. “Transcendence into the Peripheral” will always stand tall as one of the most monumental and importantly influential metal albums. Inverloch basically picks up where diSEMBOWELMENT left off; playing some of the most crushingly devastating music I have ever laid ears upon.

The music on “Dusk | Subside” is pretty much everything you would expect given the history of the band members; absolutely soul crushingly heavy, very atmospheric and dark and shockingly varied in style. Beginning with utter silence leading into some beautiful clean guitar which builds up to absolute chaotic madness and then slowing down to a total crawl, “Within Frozen Beauty” is the best track to be found on this EP and perfectly descriptive of Inverloch’s general sound. “The Menin Road” is very different, focusing mostly on atmosphere and featuring only one riff and seemingly random shrieks in the background, leaving this as my least favourite song on here. “Shadows of the Flame” follows a similar path to the opening track and exhibits a few subtle progressive elements, which I’d like to hear more of on future songs.

There really isn’t much else to say about this three track EP that runs for just over 22 minutes, but I think I can safely say that fans of diSEMBOWELMENT won’t be disappointed at all when they get around to checking out Inverloch, and I think it is a most fitting continuation of their legendary doom metal legacy.


Ectovoid – Fractured in the Timeless Abyss

Polish based Hellthrasher Productions has to be one of the busiest labels I’ve come across. Nearly every month they’re working on putting out and promoting a new release! Their latest offering is the debut album by Ectovoid; a death metal band hailing from Alabama, of all places.
Ectovoid plays a raw, cryptic and atmospheric form of death metal, taking heavy influence from classic old-school bands such as Immolation and Autopsy and mixing it in with a bit of European black metal and a sprinkling of Finnish death metal, then, shrouding it all under a murky and dense atmosphere in a similar fashion to bands like Portal, Ritual Necromancy, Eskhaton and the like. There’s a lot going on in this record and it will probably take most listeners a few listens to digest everything. You’ve got some dirty sludgy riffs mixed in with some black metal-ish tremolo sections, death/doom passages, mid-paced parts that resemble early Autopsy and some real dark and primitive moments as well. Lyrically the band focus on space, dreams, transcendence and abysmal darkness, the music fits these themes rather well.

The production is surprisingly clean for something so enshrouded in darkness, but somehow it works and doesn’t really affect the atmosphere in a negative manner. I personally would like to hear them try something a bit darker sounding on future releases, but time will tell what the band decides to do. The songs themselves work best as a whole unit of work, rather than individual tracks to put on to a mixtape, with no one particular song standing out above the consistency. Luckily, though, “Fractured…” is entertaining enough throughout the full 40 minute running time that it’s not difficult to sit through and soak in the whole thing at once. 

It is really refreshing to hear something that’s not just straight ripping off Entombed, Dismember and Grave or Incantation/Immolation and/or Autopsy for a change. It’s not about to top “Contragenesis” as my favourite death metal release from the first half of this year, but it certainly comes close in terms of quality and enjoyment.

If you haven’t looked into any Hellthrasher releases yet, I would strongly recommend starting with “Fractured in the Timeless Abyss” as this is best album they have put out so far.


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Heathendom- The Symbolist

I picked this gem out a few days ago and I must say: I'm really liking the direction of heavy metal bands lately. Heathendom is a power/doom band hailing from the nation of Greece and they released their sophomore album, The Symbolist back in 2011. The Muses certainly chose these guys, as they live up to their ancient Greek potential in terms of music.

It's a perfect blend of doom and power metal, much like In Solitude's ramped up version of dark and evil. There are lots of evil and dissonant overtones, it reminds me of a Candlemass album in certain parts. The vocals go from a high wail to slight growls under neath the singing and everything in between. King Diamond and Geoff Tate would be proud. The guitars have doom riffs and the more uptempo riffs, along with the intermingling of evil and diminished scales to give that eerie overtone.

The subject matter of the songs are more philosophical and deep, not to be unexpected from a band from Athens, Greece (philosophy was pretty much invented there). Really, some of the song titles are: "The Concept of Reason", "Prescience of the End", and"Endistancement of the Null Position" (I didn't even know that was a word). However, I don't think it should shun away those that like more simple songs as the vocal lines are just as great to listen to as the rest of the music, who reads the damn lyrics anyways?

There's not much of a variety between the songs, they all border around the same structure and style, but I can't really complain. The title track and "Black Euphoria" are among my favorites, the title track has some of the most epic falsettos I've heard in a long time.

If you're looking for stuff that's in the Mercyful Fate vein but with more doomy aspects, then you've found it. It's melodic, but it's still evil and heavy enough to scare your grandmother or your father's uptight girlfriend (teehee).

Gitchoo sum!