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Friday, May 30, 2014

Review: Domains - Sinister Ceremonies

Another fine review from Mr. Mark Brooks...

Review: Domains - Sinister Ceremonies (The Sinister Flame)

It's unusual for me to write about any bands that aren't from New Zealand in an 'official' capacity but this band gave me an email and when they said they were from Spain, it piqued my interest. A country which has an enduring legacy around the world (using an example from my Filipeno ancestry where the Philippines was named after King Phillip II of Spain and I myself, retain some Spanish 'blood' especially with my mother's maiden name being 'Roxas' and all), yet their metal scene is practically unknown with only a handful of known bands (the gore-splattered Avulsed, the excellent but Swedish sounding Graveyard, the bestial Teitanblood and Blasphemy clones Proclamation being the only ones that seemed to have made some leeway globally). When I finally heard the CD though none of this mattered, I knew that I had to review this.

To start with, Domains are a relatively new death metal band. According to their Metal-archives, they've been around since 2005 but have just released their full-length 'Sinister Ceremonies' earlier this year. I for one, am glad that they didn't rush recording if this is the result.

I'll start with the music itself. Although this is a death metal record, it does borrow a lot of elements from black metal. This serves as an undercurrent to the 'brutal' (and I mean that as an adjective, not as a genre) death metal riffs and gives the riffs an edge of dark melody. This builds up the atmosphere to the songs that gives off a chilly, obscure and all together 'evil' sound to them (for instance check out the track 'Mastery' and those ending riffs, feel like you are sinking slowly into the pits of Hell). I know that it was seen 'in vogue' to bring evil atmosphere into a death metal record by either ripping off Incantation or doing the 'bestial' thing (much like their compatriots Teitanblood). You will find this isn't the case with Domains. This is a 'fresh' outlook on how to add atmosphere into your music and although it isn't completely reinventing the wheel or shattering conventions; it nevertheless feels like a breath of fresh air within the mortuary of extreme metal.

The band focuses on more tight mid-paced passages in their music, rather than complete doom, with some occasions that lead into fast parts, reminding me of Immolation. As expected from that statement, you get your blastbeats but these are used to accentuate the carefully honed song structure. The transitions between fast and mid-paced aren't 'unnatural' but flow smoothly, like destructive lava oozing from Earth's mantle. I mentioned earlier that the band uses black metal elements to accentuate their riffs but combining this with death metal riffage also brings about a level of melody and catchiness to the riffs; which the drums do well to also instil this in your mind by adding well-timed cymbal work, rolls and catchy beats to these riffs. It is easy to start humming the tune to 'Raped by Darkness', 'Eucharist of Relevance' or 'Crowned at Dusk' something that they share elements with German death metallers Necros Christos yet far less doomier.

Another thing they share with the aforementioned band is the lyrical themes and general philosophical outlook of the band. This isn't Occultism for Occultism's sake, but something that comes from a deep seated belief in the dark arts. The lyrics are well-written and well conceived. They aren't overly complex but not simple either, they are dark but not coming across as cheesy or non-genuine. You will have to buy the CD to read the lyrics since they don't seem to be up online (at least yet) but I feel as if they are an integral part to this band's vision and are ones that are just as well crafted and thought-out as their music.

The production is a little murky and dense but again this adds to the atmosphere of the album, rather than detract from it. The drums sound fantastic here with great reverb on the snare to really accentuate the atmospheric guitar riffs. The guitar riffs and bass sit well in the mix, neither clouding each other. Likewise, I like where the vocals sit - above the music and they did well with his voice to give it enough reverb without losing its bite. There may be some complaints that the guitar levels could be more 'bright' but I think that would be a foolish thought considering the obvious intentions of this album. It is meant to sound a little obscure, a little hidden...it gives the album an ambience that it has been recorded in a crypt rather than at a studio. 

Lastly, I will speak about the artwork and general layout of the CD. The artwork is killer in my mind, but then again I'm a sucker for the old school death metal art of old. It reminds me of the Finnish death legends like Demigod or early Sentenced. It works well to invoke in the listener's mind what the music is all about and the band's vision through their music. The inner layout is simple, curiously without a single band photo, but this aids to visual clarity rather than looking at a dense piece of work. 

Finally, there is not much I can fault this album on although as mentioned earlier - this debut album isn't likely to shatter conventions or reinvent the wheel. In saying that it is a very solid album which deserves to be on many 'top albums of the year' lists. I especially look forward to seeing what they come up with next and if it is even possible to top such a strong album. It'll be interesting to see what the next trend in death metal will be; we've had the Incantation death-doom trend and we've had countless Suffocation imitators, I sense the next trend will be a bunch of Immolation clones. Don't, under any circumstances, count Domains as one of them - their music is done with far more genuine purpose than those that will surely follow. If you're a fan of Immolation, Ascension, Necros Christos, Sonne Adam, Mortuary Drape or other dark, evil death/black metal bands (the way it should be really) then do not hesitate in picking this album up immediately. It will not disappoint. 

Standout track(s): Crowned at Dusk is a particular favorite but really this whole album is stellar.

Rating: 4.8/5

Contact info:
http://domainsofdeath.bandcamp.com/
http://www.domainsoftheendless.com/
domainsofdeath(at)gmail.com

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Review: Invertia - Another Scheme of the Wicked (Ohm Resistance)


Invertia - Another Scheme of the Wicked (Ohm Resistance


Invertia label themselves as Industrial/Black Metal, from New England, USA. Although an accurate title, I don’t think that description does them justice. There’s more to them than a pigeonhole marketing tag. Let this review speak to that.
‘Another Scheme of the Wicked’ is a five song mini album, with each track remixed at the end, bringing it to full album length. The music contained within could be described as bleak, angular shades of black and grey. Not unlike the creature on the cover art, which captures the feel of and almost describes the music of Invertia perfectly. 

This is particularly relevant in the opener 'The Sidewinder'. Which delves between moody discordant guitar strings, to black metal chaos and then industrial pulses. All laced together with misanthropic satanic voice samples.

Noticeable in the second track "Cross Eyed Christ" and again in the third "Void of Community", are angular, discordant rhythms that lock down with the programmed drums. In both of these songs, the main riffs smack you like a whip as it lashes out in time with the snare.

Track four "Hourglass Without Sand" starts out in a consistent tone to those previous, before being treated to a mid song interlude, which sounds like something off Beherit's "Drawing Down the Moon", performed after a nuclear apocalypse, in an abandoned power station.

The fifth and final non-remixed tune is "They're everywhere". It kicks in at an insane suffocating speed, before a vacuum briefly draws you up into the stratosphere only to drop you straight back into the blender to the manic chant of "jesus christ will set you free".

Now I’d like to throw in a thought. Whether Invertia choose to take it on board of course is up to them. Programmed drums/drum machines can do a whole raft things that a real drummer can't. By saying that I mean other that going inhumanly fast. There are is a limitless range of percussive sounds available that go way beyond that of a standard drum kit. I’d love for Invertia to embrace and explore that concept on their future recordings.

Now we get on to the remixes. First up is Justin Broadrick’s melodic ‘Jesu’ treatment of 'The Sidewinding'. A welcome oasis (the kind you find when lost in a desert, not the brit-pop band) like relief after the previous onslaught of harsh darkness. Justin really takes this somewhere else and turns it into his own song. He's done this and yet made it fit in comfortably with the rest of 'Another Scheme of the Wicked'. Good job!

This is followed by the ‘End.User’ remix of 'Chris Eyed Christ'. Opening with a fazed grinding bass sample, then layered with ominous floating keyboard and then Irregular off time percussion. Like the previous JKB remix, this takes the tune somewhere completely new. This track reminds me of the disjointed unorthodox feel of Mayhem’s ‘Ordo Ad Chao’.

The ‘TranZi3nT’ remix of 'Lack of Community' continues in a similar vein to the End.User mix, if not a tad less inspired. It does have some interesting hypnotic drone passages though.

The ‘Submerged’ remix feels less inspired, using predictable techno beats and sample loops from the song 'Hourglass Without Sand'. It would be my least favourite track on the album, but yet it still fits in consistently with everything around it.

Lastly, ‘R3TRD’ remix 'They're Everywhere' with pulsating rhythmic power-electronic style noise with bonus distortion on everything, accompanied by a slow simple hypnotic beat.

While all the remixes aren't perfect, they do display enough variety to make you feel as though you aren't listening to the original five songs over again. This of course serves the release well, as it sounds like a full album's worth of material.

Overall ‘Another Scheme of the Wicked’ is a fresh and rewarding listen. In my view, it explores new ground within the realms of extreme metal. If you enjoy metal that isn’t afraid to explore the territory of industrial electronics, this could be for you.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

NWONZHM Reviews: Fallen Order, Red Dawn and Stormforge

Posts here have become fewer and further between these past 12 to 18 months.  This has been mainly due to life getting in the way.  I've bought my own house, am enjoying spending more time with my daughter and have been working through some other quite serious self inflicted turmoil.  Things are stabilizing now though and there are a bits and pieces in the works. These include interviews with Impaled Nazarene, Diocletian, a bunch of reviews and of course the forever postponed Subcide Zine #4.  To tide you over until those things eventuate, Mark Brooks (aka Scourge Witchfvkker from Exordium Mors) has been good enough to pen the following reviews of recent releases by 3 New Zealand Heavy Metal bands, who play what he has labeled as NWONZHM.
 

FALLEN ORDER:

I wrote once that Red Dawn (featured below) could possibly be NZ's answer to 'Iced Earth' ; how crushingly wrong I was once I heard Fallen Order.


Fallen Order are a 5-piece Heavy/Power Metal band from Wellington, New Zealand and have self-released a brand new EP entitled 'The Age of Kings' (although Stormspell Records are releasing their own version for worldwide distribution). What you have here is not a band or release that is 'finding their sound' or 'learning the ropes' so to speak. They have stormed ahead with a fiery blaze of catchy infectious melodic metal that you can raise a fist (and beer) to.


I was immediately impressed by the solid quality of the production and the thought and creativity to make the songs flow well. If you don't believe me, listen for yourself on their bandcamp  (link provided below) especially on tracks 'Stand Together' and 'Falling Down’. The band focuses on making solid anthem-esque 'call to arms' tracks and this I think is their secret and separates them from the rest of the bands in the NWONZHM movement. You can't help but sing along and feel the urge to pound your fist along to the beat.


Hamish Murray is one damn impressive vocalist and you can hear this from the get-go of the EP. Singing mainly in the baritone range that would make Matt Barlow blush and then having the control over his voice to burst into powerful Halford screams - incredible. This is a vocalist who has a masterful control over his voice and it is hard to find anything negative about it. The leads are both tasteful, not overly 'wanky' and show the prowess of the guitarists involved. The bass and drums are both ever-present and sit nicely in the mix, neither of which over-powering the other instruments.


The presentation of the CD itself is simple but effective. This is after all, an EP showcasing the band's wares and not a full-blown full-length where I would expect a lot more effort on the layout. I do really like the artwork as simple as it is, it is eye-catching and whoever designed the layout/art for this EP should be commended.


My only criticism of this EP, is that it is an EP. I crave for more after it's finished, but of course this is a stepping stone to bigger and better things; and this can be assured of once this band gets more distribution on the international stage.


Standout track(s):


All of them are great but for me 'The Age of Kings' really stands out and represents  the band's outlook and sound.


For fans of: Iced Earth, Manowar, Judas Priest etc.


Rating: 4.5/5


Contact info:


contact(at)fallenorderband.com



RED DAWN:
Again, Wellington (New Zealand)'s 5 piece band, Red Dawn have unleashed another extremely professional-sounding EP (entitled 'Ironhead') of Thrashy Power/Heavy Metal for the masses to gorge on.
If you're familiar with  Red Dawn's previous EP 'World Eater' you know what to expect and the style of song-writing here is nothing too drastically different (in that it's Power/Heavy Metal with a definite thrash edge), however the 'Ironhead' EP differs not just in line-up changes but in the quality of song-writing and production.


The EP opens with the cranking of a motorcycle engine (which I suspect is the vocalist's Ed Hintz) and then the opening riffs of the title track. It is almost a signature of Red Dawn to have dual galloping guitar riffs and you can hear this throughout the EP. The song-writing has definitely become more tighter in comparison with the first EP and shows that the band have found 'their feet' in regards to song composition. The soaring vocals of Ed penetrate the listener and focuses on lyrics that are down-to-earth and give an element of realism to the band. I know it's 'kosher' that if you're in a  Power Metal band you have to have fantasy lyrics, but I'm glad that Red Dawn have avoided this for the most part (although there is a song about the excellent Welsh TV series 'The Prisoner').


Ed is a competent and strong vocalist especially with his mid-range and he can hold notes quite well; my only criticism would be that his falsetto screams are the weakest out of the three bands reviewed here. It's not a big deal when listening to the EP on its own but when in comparison with the other EPs, it is noticeable.  The leads produced by Andrew McGregor and Dan Hayston are simply put incredible. Red Dawn are a guitarists wet dream and if that is your thing, then I wouldn't hesitate in picking up this EP immediately. The production on here is a lot less 'dense' in comparison with the first EP, allowing room for the guitars to 'breathe' in amongst the ferocious bass licks and pounding drums.   Lastly, the bass and drum sound on this EP are also fantastic - I can only assume this is because the mastering was done offshore in New York at Masterdisk.


The artwork is incredible and was done by Scarecrowoven (http://scarecrowoven.com/). It's definitely a 'modern' looking piece of art but also feels like it could have come from the 80's also. I think that pretty much sums up Red Dawn succinctly both musically and visually.
Apart from the falsetto screams, my only other criticism would be the song 'Prisoner' which I feel doesn't quite work as well as the other songs. I understand that it is customary for a Power or Heavy Metal band to have a slow song or a ballad and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. I feel as if 'Prisoner' almost hits the mark but it isn't quite there yet. The fast galloping bits are great though and I'm anxious to hear a full-length with new material. Have a listen on their bandcamp below and let them know your thoughts!


Standout track(s):


There are some killer tracks on this but I have to say 'Death March of Bataan' sticks out for me I guess because it hails to my Filipino ancestry.


For fans of: Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Anthrax etc.


Rating: 4.5/5


Contact info:


info(at)reddawn.co.nz



STORMFORGE:


Epic Power Metal band 'Stormforge' come from Auckland, New Zealand and are a 5-piece band featuring past and present members of a myriad of NZMetal bands too numerous to go into in any depth here.  Their debut EP 'Sea of Stone' was released earlier this year to those that have been begging for a release since their inception.


Unlike Fallen Order or Red Dawn, Stormforge write epic songs usually around 6-9 minutes long. One may find this a problem, to maintain an audience's attention span (unless you're a Doom/Sludge listener where even 9 minutes is too short!) yet these songs are so well-composed, so majestic sounding that you don't want it to end once it hits the last track (which consequently, is also the title track).


Courtney O'Leary is no doubt the best clean vocalist this country has to offer, and this is proven time and time again on this EP. From soaring, searing wails to deadly falsetto screams and everything in between - he is an inspiration to a lowly Black/Death vocalist such as myself. You can tell that there has been endless hours of recording and mixing to get the vocal parts absolutely perfect for the CD. Speaking of inspiration earlier, if you're a budding guitarist then these guitar solos are pure masturbatory material. If you're Yngwie Malmsteen, then these solos are masturbatory material! They are executed flawlessly yet they melt your brain at how complex and technical they are.  The drums have similarly been captured quite well in the mix and are a highlight of the recording. I know that the drums in Power/Heavy Metal are often over-looked, they are usually used to provide the beat and not much else more. You will find that Antony Mifsud-Houghton is not one such drummer, providing an aggressive edge to his drumming not often seen in Power Metal. You can especially hear this on tracks 'As the Nightsky Burns' as well as the title track. The bass also sits nicely in the mix, although not as prominent as say Red Dawn's EP reviewed earlier.


The artwork for this is outstanding, I am of the understanding that it is digital but it looks hand painted! I hope to see even more epic artwork for a full-length album. The lyrics for this album also feature themes tied in with the epic artwork and ones that I can instantly gravitate towards. I know that I stated earlier that fantasy lyrics in Power Metal are a cliché but Stormforge's delivery of such subject matter are what stands-out. Tales of vengeance, retribution and battle-glory are interwoven with dark fantasy to make them both engaging and entertaining to the audience.
There are but a couple of criticisms I have with this EP, firstly -  the additional vocals and leads/solos should be more prominent in the mix and lastly, that is it only an EP! I know that's it's almost 30 minutes long, but it is simply not long enough. A full length is definitely what is needed from such an incredible act.


I know that I may be bias as I know the members personally, played bands with them, lived together etc. however out of all the bands of the NWONZHM, Stormforge are my favourite. I can only put this down to my taste in epic metal as a whole regardless of sub-genre. If you're a fan of more straight forward, fist-pounding metal than by all means check out the other bands reviewed here or Forsaken Age (another NWONZHM band not included in these series of reviews).


Standout track(s):


Really all of these songs rule but the ballad 'Death Sings in the Night' strikes a particular chord (and I usually hate metal ballads!). Whether I'm getting sappy as I get older or the fact that it features one of the best vocal performances I have ever heard out of Australasia (and maybe the world?)  and jaw-dropping guitar solos, I'll let you be the judge. Take a listen of their bandcamp (link below)  and let the band know which is your favourite!


For fans of: Blind Guardian, Iron Maiden, Helloween etc.


Rating: 4.7/5


Contact info:


      stormforgenz(at)gmail.com

Thank you again to Mark Brooks for authoring these fine reviews.  I would now like to close this article with the following personal message to the review subjects:

I want all 3 of you bands to look at me like I'm your wise old granddad. I want you to imagine I'm sitting in front of you in a throne like armchair, and you are all gathered around. Fallen Order to the right, Stormforge at the centre and Red Dawn to the left. Now imagine me saying this "I'm very proud of you all, and you've all done a wonderful job. But I want you to understand one thing - No matter how hard you try, you'll never be as good as Iron Maiden! That doesn't mean I want you to stop attempting to excel though! NO! I want you to keep trying to improve your selves! ...then and only then... ... Yes I'm looking at you in particular Courtney O'leary... Then you might just get to be as good as SAXON!"

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Malevolence interview



Malevolence have been a part of the Auckland and New Zealand underground Metal scene for over 20 years now. Playing a style which incorporates Death Metal, Grindcore and crusty punk, they have remained a strong and consistent throughout their existence. This interview is with Daryl Tapsell, the man who has been around since the beginning.

This interview has also been published at: www.13thfloor.co.nz 

1) Apart from yourself, what things have remained consistent in Malevolence since it's formation in 1992? What has changed since then that you didn't expect or intend for it to?


I think it has all changed since then. I started writing for Malevolence straight after Blackmass imploded (becoming Spine), and after 3 years of death metal, I wanted to do something with clean vox - kind of the heavy riffing and "tremming" of grind/death but with lyrics you could understand. Initially, (being young :)

I had this concept of extremely challenging and offensive lyrics that people would hear, rather than read on a lyric sheet. Unfortunately (being young :) I drifted off into other areas of lyrical content (naive metal style story-ish lyrics) so that concept never really saw the light of day. The band kind of fell apart in early 94 after a few gigs as the lead guitarist started getting into jazz and the bass player wanted to be more like Sepultura (as was the fashion at the time).

Julian joined in 1994 (answering a misprint ad in the Trade & Exchange for "Ass Player wanted") and brought the crusty punk side in to our sound, and I started reverting to my roots vocally - death growls and screams. It was an odd time in the Auckland scene (1994-98) as there were few (if any) active death metal bands - just a lot of Sepultura/Pantera style death/thrash. I joined a crust/grind band - Diswomble - which Julian was forming with some others guys, at the same time as he joined Malevolence, and the most active extreme scene was the punk scene at the time, so we ended up playing heaps of punk shows. There was a lot of cross over as heaps of the crust punks got were into grind (called "hardcore" back then before basketball shirt wearing straight edge breakdown fools took over the term :) and early death/black`metal (in fact the people I knew with the best collections of metal vinyl were punks!) This was the "Fuck The Lord" era for us - many ciders ago now :)

Members came and went, but I think everyone added to the evolution of the band. The core of Julian and myself is the constant throughout. When a guitarist left we became a 3 piece until a guitarist came along that we thought would add something, and when a drummer left we usually had a replacement within weeks, so the constant for me has been Malevolence in my life instead of the other way around. We have seldom had any downtime in the last 18 years :)

The lineup at the moment is the strongest by far with Ben joining in mid-late 2005. His approach to drumming is very complementary to the songs - relentless - and it drives us forward. I mentioned evolution earlier and I think that really typifies Malevolence. It has been a process of evolution - some mutations and evolutionary dead ends, but natural selection has pared it down to what it is now and we are stronger for it. We're about to release a new album and I think it captures that perfectly. 

Daryl - guitar and vocals

2) Which conveniently leads to the next question: Tell us about this new Album. What should people expect? What will it be called? How will people be able to get hold of it? Could you please name and describe a few of it's key tracks?

Well the new album has been in production since late 2010. It would have been out earlier but we recorded the first 8 tracks and it turned out to be 15 minutes long (first world grind problems). We had released 2 EPs prior to this so I wanted to do something that broke the 30 minute barrier. That meant writing new material and, due to our process, road-testing new material. I think its important to get the songs thoroughly "broken in" before recording - we are predominantly a live band after all, and to capture that sound we need to have played and developed those songs on stage. So it was all recorded in 3 sessions over late 2010 - Early 2012 and has ended up being 15 tracks and hitting the 30 min target. Mixing took more time to gel the 3 different sessions together sound-wise - it was recorded live to analogue tape so the basic rhythm tracks were slightly different for each session, depending on what mics I wanted to use on the day, but it has been completed for a while now and (at time of writing) we're just waiting on Grindhead in Sydney to release it. I've been a bit picky about the sound as I don't want a plastic "modern" sound to it, and I want dynamics in the recording (remember those albums that you could play on 10 and it didn't sound flat and crushed)

People should expect a recorded experience that captures our live sound - relentless, crushing and bleak. As one punter put it ..."like being attacked by a jaguar while someone throws drums at you" Key tracks eh... There are a range of songs on here mostly written since 2008. All first recordings except for "Bleed" which was originally on our Fuck the Lord re-release demo CD in 1999. It weirdly fits in well today though, being about global economic tyranny. The album opens with Digitize - our live opener after the intro "Approaching Monster" fades up. I guess I like the newer tracks on the album (don't you always though). "The Adversary" I am pretty happy with as it contains one of my favourite lines to sing "an anti-theist the antithesis of everything that you believe" - as you might guess it is a call to atheists to be more proactive and intolerant instead of reasonable. "Butchered" is a remembrance to Matt from Backyard Burial. I wrote it on the plane to his funeral. Chased Through The Woods (By a Rhyming Dictionary) is a piss-take of paint-by -numbers, juvenile Gore/Grind, which contains another favourite lyric "...Taped a glock, to my cock, nine millimetres in her box".

Mostly it is about futility in many forms. It's called Relentless Entropy which is a lyric from the penultimate song - "Life Machines".

It's out through Grindhead at some stage so I'm guessing it will be available through the online store www.grindheadrecords.com. Obviously at our shows as well on CD and I'm guessing other media as well. We'll probably hit the road on this one too depending on when it is released


3) You mentioned the late Matt "Blaps Warmonger" Hall and his band Backyard Burial, of whom Malevolence released a split album with. What would you like to tell us about Matt, your involvement with him and Backyard Burial? 

We had a pretty long involvement - Malevolence started doing the annual Punkfest in Wellington around 1996 so we became regular visitors to the Wellington scene. Ryan (from Backyard) was in a few punk bands as well, so I knew him through that scene (got to know him better when he hitched around the entire country for the Brutal Truth tour in 1998 - so did you I guess :). I have video footage of the first Backyard show I saw (in 1999 I think) at Thistle Hall on Cuba St in Wellington. I talked to Matt after the show and we kept in touch ever since. Obviously Backyard and Malevolence played a heap of shows together over the years. Matt and I also shared similar interests such as home brewing, recreational substance abuse and screaming, - he was generally a GC. He had a depth of character often missing in the metal scene. Just before his untimely demise he was coming up to Auckland regularly for work training so we'd always have catch up. You mentioned the Split CD which was pretty much his idea - 3 original songs + a live track + a cover each, and he thought of the image too - a grinder chewing into Aotearoa. The other members of Backyard are doing various projects at the moment too - well worth looking out for from what I've seen so far...


4) On your website (www.malevolencenz.com) you’ve made the entire Malevolence back catalogue available for download. If someone reading this who had never heard you before where to go there, what would you recommend they download first and why?

I recommend they download it all and decide what they like - I like it all but hear the parts that aren't quite where we wanted to be (if that makes sense). As i said earlier it has been evolving slowly over time, so if you want to hear us now, I'd recommend the new album (there are rough mixes of about half of it available on the site). We do resurrect the odd song from other albums live every now and then but we're not quite ready for the greatest hits tour :) We're still writing (in fact working on another EP right now) so we play the current stuff more than the back catalogue. I put the catalogue up after finding pirated copies of our stuff out there - I figure you might as well get it from us. Immediately after I did it I saw 3-4 blogs linking directly to it rather than going to some tedious download site.

We have always had a DIY attitude, probably fromour connection with the punk scene. I'm an audio engineer so the recording part just takes my time, Julz is a printer, and taught me to screen print back in the day so even before piracy we were giving away our product. To this day at shows/online our merch and cds are cheap - we don't have the same overheads as other bands so we generally have older CDs for $5 & T's for $25. We often play for expenses only and any profit simply goes back into the band - I read Fenriz explaining why they he still works at the Post Office in Oslo and he said he didn't want to live off music because he felt it would make him start writing for popularity and money rather than just doing what the fuck he wanted. I've always thought that was very cool.

Besides which it's almost impossible to live off original music in any genre in New Zealand - too small a population base. I've probably ranted way outside the bounds of where you were going with that question eh :)
Ben - Drums

5) Lets talk about your role as an Audio Engineer. You have your own “Back Door Studios” where you have recorded the like of Witchrist and Diocletian. You are also a tutor at an Audio engineering school and have been abused by Glen Benton from that shitty fuckin band Deicide. Tell us a bit about these things and any others worth speaking of. 

Well it is "Blackdoor Studio" - not quite ready for that name change yet :)

It harks back to the DIY ethic really - can't afford to go to a studio? I'll just do it myself and that's how it started. Blackdoor is my project studio (where all my money goes to die). I do tracking, mixing and mastering for various projects. The nice thing about having a project studio is I can pick and choose projects I want to work on rather than running a commercial operation. I do stuff outside the metal/punk genre but the majority of the projects I work on are in that vein. As an added bonus Malevolence use it for our practice space. I do work at a polytechnic running an audio engineering course by day and while I haven't personally been abused by Glen Benton (apart from having his awful bass playing inflicted on me:) I was abused along with every other sound tech on Deicide's tour through Australia and NZ. Apparently it's part of his act - like hating Christians - He doesn't really mean any of it :) It’s probably a metaphor...


6) When I first met you when Malevolence played support on the 98 NZ Brutal truth Tour, you were wearing Nuns habits and womens underwear on stage. What happened there? What are you stand out memories from that tour?

The nun's habit started as a drunken tour joke (that potentially went too far :)

On tour at Punkfest around 1996, a couple of us ended up drunk in a toy shop (as you do) on a Saturday afternoon (if I remember rightly there was a nephew's birthday or some such excuse). Weirdly we found two lycra costumes - a nun and a french maid. There was no other choice for us - we wore them out of the store and played in them for the rest of the tour - it just kind of escalated from there :) I liked the confusing imagery of a nun playing grind, and a guy playing extreme metal in drag :) and the softness of women's underwear :)

Actually I took the nun's habit out of the cupboard for Antichristchurch's Satanfest in 2003. In my defense - Birdflesh :) Speaking of which, if anyone has a copy of "Demo of Hell" I'd be keen for a copy - Had one courtesy of Kra'zine in the early 90's and someone nicked it - awesome demo…

Ahh the Brutal Truth tour - so many good memories. Good guys. They stayed at our house when we returned to Auckland and hung out having BBQ/booze times. I remember playing Palmerston North (at Stomach) and this crazy motherfucker in a wheelchair who spent the night rolling at full speed at the stage and diving at us while we played ,then launching himself back on to his chair in the pit amongst everyone else going crazy - I remember worrying at the time that he would get trampled to death - but he was invincible. I think we gave him a t-shirt after the show. 

I got the whole band to autograph odd things. I still have a copy of the book "deliverance" that is signed by Rich Hoak - I found out he was from Georgia so it seemed appropriate - he wrote "nice panties dude" - I was hoping for "squeal like a pig :) Dan lilker signed a poster I had of him just wearing cut offs on stage with Nuclear Assault (from "Power Metal" magazine) - everyone was giving him shit for it. I got Gurn to sign a toy plastic guitar that made really annoying sounds - but I ended up giving it to him to take home to his kids - I suspect he played it too much on the plane because the band split after that :) Speaking of autographs - Half of them couldn't be bothered doing signings so we all too turns pretending to be in Brutal Truth and signing shit randomly. Kevin was signing everything with "I (heart) cock - Bob Dylan" so that's a genuine Kevin Sharp. The funniest time was at Real Groovy where I was signing albums with Kevin (I think the rest of the band was in a van getting stoned as shit) and he signed someone's album and the guy said "What the fuck - you're not in Brutal Truth" to him. We just cracked up. 

There are a few photos on their" last" release "Goodbye Cruel World" - of course they have reformed now (no Gurn - might have been that plastic guitar)

That was a great tour...


7) There were a few other international tours where you played support after Brutal Truth. Care to mention a few low and highlights from those?

Well… Straight after Brutal Truth we toured the country again for the release of the first full length, "Almost Like Something Completely Sinister". Soon after that we toured with Impaled Nazarene. Again we wound up the tour at my house and several hours of brutal drinking occurred. Not too many memories of that tour worth sharing as it was very quick, - 2 shows really if I recollect correctly. I remember Mika, was involved in a car accident which soured his experience somewhat. After that we toured with Atomizer - (PS Caught up with Saundies in Melbourne last time we played there) which was a barrel of laughs through the country. We toured with Pungent Stench in 2003 as well, which was amazing for me - being a fan for so long and then getting to see them for a heap of shows. I think around that time we decided that other bands needed a chance to play shows :), and to be honest as much as I love touring and catching up with people on the road, there are only so many times you can tour NZ on the bones of your arse and see it as a good idea. So we scaled back the frequency of shows and tours. When Ben joined at the end of 2005, it gave us the chance to hold back and write some new material - we had gotten to the point where we were playing all the time, and maybe learning a new song every 3 months or so which gets very boring for us - I have quite a short attention span :). So not really answering your question - that is a lot of ground to cover. The "low-lights" are mostly forgotten (and as the old Tremeloes song says "even the bad times are good") and the highlights of touring is the process itself and the people you meet along the way - In fact the highlights would definitely be the people - We've made some good friends on the road.

What most people don't realize about touring is it has long periods of boredom - the show is 45 mins out of each 24 hour period. You just get up early, wait to get to the next venue, wait for soundcheck, wait to play, pack down, sleep, repeat. 
Julian - Ass player

8) You’ve played in a few other projects including Masters Of Metal, Black Metal Sabbath, and Diswomble. Can you please tell us about those. Are there any others to tell about?

Diswomble was the first side project, which happened soon after Julian joined the band, so round 1994. It was Julian's crust-grind band really, but at the time we were just thrashing around writing punk and drinking to much :) - Good times! At the time I was also in a band called Lagerwerfer, which was me and Spencer from "The Warners" doing some drunken drum machine stuff. Malevolence, Diswomble, Pig Benis and Lagerwerfer (or a combination of them) would often play shows together and we all knew each other and hung out so it was a cool little scene. There were other side projects like "2 Days Old" and "Jesus Fucked & The Latter Day Sluts" that lasted only a few shows. 

Prior to Masters of Metal, Spencer, Zakk and I were in a little holiday project band called "The Lucky Book Club" which was an idea that Devon from "All You Can Eat" came up with. Basically he was on holiday, and wanted to form a band and record a 7" in every country he was in. We wrote and recorded 4 songs but I don't know if they ever saw the light of day - I have a copy on cassette somewhere. After that the Book Club went back to our normal bands for a few years until 2003 when Spencer got in touch with me about drumming in Masters Of Metal - As it turned out Zakk was in it too so it was a bit like a reunion. Masters of Metal is really just a bunch of us playing 70's and 80's rock and metal - It's part comedy - as we dress up and act like we are playing arena shows, but we are quite serious about performing the music well and making sure people have a good time. We have pretty much limited it to a single show per year around Xmas.

Around 2003 Nich asked me to sing in his band, Prisondethfux, which at the time was him and Nathan (then of Backyard Burial), and programmed drums on a laptop. We only played a few sporadic shows, and put out an album "Drink It Down" as well as a few compilation appearances. Nich joined Malevolence on second guitar around then too. 

Black Metal Sabbath is an idea that Heath (Skuldom) had been talking about for a few years as a concept: Black Sabbath songs in the style of Norwegian Black Metal. Originally it consisted of me, Heath & Will from Skuldom, and Phil from Vassafor and we did one show and one rehearsal demo. Phil buggered off overseas, and we wanted to keep it going so we eventually recruited Kimball from Anno Domini Mortus, to take over on bass. We're thinking of putting together a show at the moment. 

I'm also currently in a punk rock "supergroup" called Scumbeat, which is me and Bev from Garagefodder on Guitars, Dave from Missing Teeth/ the murderchord on bass, and Boot from Sticky Filth on drums. 

I'm not the only one in side projects though - Ben is also in Vassafor. 

Julian may be the only sensible one among us these days - sticking to the one band :) 


9) A while ago you talked to me about the idea of re-recording some of your older tunes which are still crowd favorites in your live set. Could you tell us a bit about that and when we might see it? What other ideas or plans you have down the pipeline that we could look forward to? 

I have often thought that there are a few songs that developed further after we recorded them and it might be cool to re-record those songs but I am also wary of revisiting the past. We are always working on new material and it is always fun to record something fresh. So I think about it from time to time but I don’t know when or if it will happen. The latest incarnation of this idea is just choosing 2 or 3 songs to round out an EP.

Things in the pipeline? We are self-releasing “Relentless Entropy” on limited edition vinyl (just waiting on the test-pressing now) which is a nice way to end 2013. We are playing a festival in Wellington (Beyond The Black) for New Years, and opening for Primate at the end of January 2014. So more of the same really - more recording - more shows...


10) Any last comments?

Thanks for the interview and supporting the underground scene. See you on the road!