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Monday, October 23, 2017

Solar-Mass Interview


The Solar-Mass band bio opens with "Just as a prehistoric universe exploded into being like a hell storm of raging chaos, so too the sounds of SOLAR MASS leap into existence in the present era before you with five new songs in random acts of ferocious violence across a broad spectrum of sub-genres to escape the mediocrity of the governing Magian death-cult." and continues in that tone without providing any more clarity about them.    No doubt that was how the band  intended it i.e. So that the listener/reader is left to create their own image of what Solar-Mass is rather than it being spoonfed to them. 
What I can tell you though, is that this band is a project put together by Diocletian mainman B.S (Guitars). It's mainly New Zealand based, with W.B on drums and international  vocal contributions from M.K.  Unlike the war chaos noise that Diocletian make, Solar-Mass is more like a dirty pissed off version of early Voivod.   This interview was completed by both B.S and M.K. 

1]. Throughout your "Pseudomorphosis" demo ep, there seems to be a chronological theme that runs from the scientific detailing of the birth of our universe, through to a dystopian science fiction picture of a distant future. In your words, can you describe what you see is happening in these lyrics.

The theme of the demo is just a taster of a possible full length album and is written in a chronological order as you have pointed out, but there is room to expand on this concept with extra material between the existing songs before the epilogue ‘Heat Death’. The story actually starts before the beginning of the universe as outlined in the prologue ‘Arc Furnace’ which along with the epilogue will be included in a lyric sheet at a later date on the cd and ep formats. Having said that, there is no commitment to create a ‘concept album’ as such, and each song works just as well as a standalone output.

Each song lyric could be seen as a retelling of the same story on a different scale coming together in the same time line as part of a single epic tale. Whether it’s the timeline of the universe, the evolution of a collective species, or the human experience of the individual there are similar archetypal themes interwoven from microcosm to macrocosm played out in the ‘space drama’. Think of each song as being a tendril replicated on an ever-expanding fractal image, all melded into a singular event: existence, and in this case the demo which is Pseudomorphosis.

Although there is no doubt in my mind that the bulk of the lyrics are indeed a work of science fiction / fantasy there is no allusion to Isaac Newton’s “That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below.” Pseudoscience is a poignantly tiresome affair, and it would be deemed too lazy and somewhat wishy-washy to write anything other than short stories based on reality with at least some semblance to actual science and real events from the past and present, and from the basis of this to then be able to determine a probable outcome for a future both near and far, whether they come across as dystopian or not.

Listen to 'Pseudomorphosis' in it's entirety below

2]. The scientific terminology used in the first half of the release seems to be particularly detailed and specific. I don't imagine that it's been inspired by Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson's version of 'Cosmos' alone. What is your particular interest in this area? Where did you acquire said depth of knowledge in it? Why did you choose it as a theme to base your lyrics?

All the lyrics from beginning to end are based exclusively on Western thought and the European experience. The non-fiction scientific components of the lyrics are derived from a multitude of sources on the topic of cosmology and astrophysics: drawn from a collection of text book literature, scientific journals, periodicals, and of course articles found on the internet over many years from being an armchair enthusiast of not just quantum-mechanics, but also Jungian psychology, ancient and modern history, geo-politics, Western philosophy and much more.

Included in the lyrics are references to Graeco-Roman mythology which playfully allude (for the sake of the developing storyline) that there might be something more subjective going on than a merely straightforward cut-and-dry scientific interpretation for the origins of the universe. This is not to suggest the origin of space-time is the net result of some kind of creationist theory: it just points out that science does not (or cannot) factor in the events prior to the ‘Big Bang’ as they have no observational consequences, and are therefore omitted from relativity calculations.

The human condition is more comfortable with the idea that nothing is left to chance and that there is a pre-deterministic governing (yet invisible) hand controlling man’s destiny. In believing so he has himself created a world subject to delusion born of fear and loneliness in the emptiness of a compassionless and unforgiving, non-sentient outer-space.

As the story develops, we find this collective personality trait turns out to be mankind’s Achilles’ heel, and out from this malady an alien species parasitically has moved in to capitalise on this pronounced character flaw of humanity, adopting the role of a benevolent and wisened invisible hand like some sort of Wizard of Oz mercantile huckster who in a rather Mephistophelian modus-operandi sets about selling the Emperor his new clothes!

There is no common ground with token ‘celebrity chefs’ like Sagan or deGrasse Tyson. The lyrics are especially not interested in facilitating the fantasies and delusions of mentally deficient SJW’s who are more concerned about manipulating fact through “critical theory” and directing the narrative through their “social sciences”. On the contrary, the lyrics are more akin to the spirit of Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Right Stuff’; they are a celebration of the spirit of mankind’s endeavours and achievements as documented by Charles Murray in his work ‘Human Accomplishment: The Pursuit of Excellence in the Arts and Sciences, 800 B.C. to 1950’.

The lyrics relate a story which expounds certain ‘inconvenient truths’, demanding the audience face up to the sometimes cruel reality of life where there will be times when they will be confronted by awkward facts which often do not sit comfortable with the current narrative peddled to the mindset of ‘the many’, and too bad if the coldness of maths offends them: logos is based on pure scientific evidence, and if a conclusion is unpopular with the values of contemporary society, then that society should know it will be better off accepting the truth even if the medicine is a bitter pill to swallow. In the world of Solar-Mass 2 + 2 still equals 4.


3]. Let’s talk about the music itself now. I gave the 1992 ‘Entropy - Paths To The Underworld, Rebirth To The Afterlife’ demo a listen recently and, although the overall style was different, I was surprised at the number of similarities between that recording and what you are doing now with Solar Mass. Obviously two of you were in Entropy, so I’m wondering if this was an unconscious coincidence or intentional continuation? How do you see what you are doing now in comparison with what you were doing together 25 odd years ago?

It is not a continuation. Speaking for myself I think Solar-Mass is more of an ambitious entity than anything I have been involved with beforehand. The people from back then were all pulling in different directions and only the two of us from that era had any interest in metal per se. The other guys were becoming increasingly more interested in making music of an inferior quality and ended up failures performing in alternative music groups which never amounted to anything of merit. It wasn’t uncommon to see this kind of thing happening a lot back in the early 1990’s: with heavy metal under attack by the music moguls most signed and unsigned acts scrambled about trying to jump on the latest bandwagon, selling out any integrity they once may have thought they possessed.


Our musical influences are drawn from many different sub-genres of metal, so we are not limited to one particular type of sound and because of this you will hear within our forthcoming arsenal a mixture of “Heavy, Black, Doom, Death and Speed Metal”, although perhaps this will become more evident after we have released more material for comparison.

We are continually experimenting with different types of hardware with an aim to develop a sound that will be quite unique to our band. We are using equipment some of which was built as early as in the 1970’s, and other stuff which is state of the art technology. Solar-Mass is primarily a studio band so we will be exploring both new and old techniques of engineering and production to be able to deliver the perfect aural experience for the heavy metal connoisseur so that they may enjoy our music in the highest fidelity afforded. Ultimately, we wish to transport the listener to a different world where the only restrictions set are the limitations imposed upon us by the financial constraints of production juxtaposed against the boundaries defined by the listener’s own imagination.

Have a listen to an Entropy tune and decide for yourself


4]. After playing in much more extreme bands, what was the inspiration, at least on the demo to create more traditional and musical/accessible/listenable heavy metal? Also, you mentioned that Solar Mass is “primarily a studio band”. Knowing that one of you lives a long way outside of New Zealand, what creative advantages and disadvantages does this present? Will Solar Mass appear in a live setting at any stage?

Solar-Mass is deliberately counter-extreme in the sense we are reclaiming heavy metal music back from the punks who co-opted the term as far back as the late 80’s. We can’t sit back and watch the metal genre continue to be hijacked to promote the ‘hardcore’ nonsense that is being peddled as ‘extreme metal’ these days to an unsuspecting younger audience. We’re most certainly not a ‘retro band’ either: We are simply playing music we have a direct connection to – no more cultural appropriation! We are taking back what is rightfully ours in the first place. No more ‘extreme metal’: We are an ultra-metal band.

It’s too early to rule out the possibility of any live performances after releasing a full-length album’s worth of songs, but it has to be said I couldn’t imagine performing without the pomp and pageantry of an over-the-top stage set with a dedicated mixing desk engineer who knows the music well enough to be able to cue effects and deliver the sound as heard on a studio production. A live show would have to be just that: a show. If it’s going to be live, then there should be more on offer than just us playing a live set in a small venue using the house pa. It would need to be a spectacle like something Roger Dean came up with for a stage set for Yes back in the day. I guess we will be waiting quite a while then before anything like that happens anytime fast.

There is no advantage of band-members living in different parts of the world. Things would move along a lot quicker and ideas would be freely exchanged much easier over lunch and a beer. There is no substitute to a band bonding in person. It is easier to express and discuss ideas when you are in the same space for a long period of time. Back in the early 1990’s we would live and rehearse in the same house. Quite often we would pick up instruments and jam in the early hours of the morning without causing a nuisance to anybody because we lived in a derelict industrial estate in an old corner-shop next door to a funeral home. These days with one bloke in Croatia, another living in Britain and the remainder of the band in New Zealand it would be difficult to exist without the luxury of IT.


5]. Without spending too much time and space on it, you mentioned Diocletian. Could you briefly explain where things are at with it at the moment?


Sure, I'm working with a new drummer, writing new material along with rehearsing old material for a return to the live arena. In addition to this we have a new bassist who is another veteran to this music. Around the time of our operation California Death Fest, Diocletian's line up and new record label will be revealed. Ill also consider releasing an online audio demonstration of Repel the Attack which we recorded in studio a couple months ago.

A shot of the new Diocletian line up playing California Death Fest 2017

6]. You’ve employed the art of Rok for the cover of "Pseudomorphosis". What instruction did you give him when you commissioned him to do the cover? What has he added of his own that might be different to what you anticipated? Is his art or theme something you intend continue with on future releases? I believe that the vinyl version of "Pseudomorphosis” will have different art again. What will that be?


We wanted the subjects in the artwork to reflect a cold and sinister atmosphere. The machinery, weaponry and space-crafts are enhanced with bio-mechanoid features to draw attention to the insinuation of a collective consciousness, or hive mind mentality in the antagonist psyche of the Magian race of aliens, in contrast to the more individualistic yet unified-by-a-common-will personality of the protagonist Faustian anti-heroes whom also project a similar sinister uniformity. The Faustian personality type has been moved to evolve into a less compassionate AI like organism, seeing as it was the more matriarchal and altruistic tendencies of his species which made him vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation by the parasitic insectoid Magian foe in the first place. The style of art gives an impression where you are not quite sure what time or era this is all taking place in: it could look like a mediaeval painting with knights in armor fighting against demonic forces, or it could look like a futuristic scene, but really it is all these things – the archetypal myth, the enduring legend is the same: past present and future. At some point, we will explore different artists’ interpretations of the Solar-Mass universe to further illustrate the ongoing and growing themes with new releases.

The Pseudomorphosis cassette.  Vinyl edition due out sometime in 2018 on Iron Bonehead.

7]. I suspect that this has been touched on in one of your earlier answers. On the back flap of the ‘Pseudomorphosis’ cassette cover there is what appears to be a selection of lyrics that says: Biological warfare of “impoverished weak” / We will send them to a watery grave / “Refugees” in retreat!!! / Iron Fortress, Death’s Head bristling with sharpened steel..

What are you attempting to convey with this passage of text? What do you anticipate the reader/listener may interpret from it?

The lyric alludes to one of many warfare tactics to subdue an enemy through the use of psy-op’s. Not all war is fought across trenches on the battlefield with fighting soldier’s pitted mano a mano, and often the deadlier of weapons in the armory is psychological warfare. It is the Trojan Horse of Greek antiquity, the Al-Taqiyya Fi Al-Islam as practiced in the Moslem world, the Black Propaganda that comes out of the War Office, or the ‘fake news’ perpetuated by the Lügenpresse. In conjunction with the psychological assault (which could be also described as a form of chemical warfare seeing as it is the manipulation of hormones controlling the way a target cogitates toward one or many possible opinions on a particular matter) there is also the use of biological warfare so that not only is the victim subdued and confused by the hi-jacked internal chemistry of his being, but he is now, after being softened-up, subjugated to and overwhelmed by biological toxins in the form of infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi all intent on his destruction.

It’s that pathological altruism, that utopian-cosmopolitan belief in miscegenation which has been the Achille’s Heel of Europa and Western Civilisation from the outset. It is the key tool which has helped the West’s enemies in the past be it the opening of the Gates of Toledo in 712 AD, the breaching of the walls of Constantinople in 1453 AD, the ushering in of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 AD, and to the more recent and manufactured so-called ‘European migrant crisis’ in 2015 AD. First comes the psychological warfare followed up by biological warfare. It’s like an end-user clicking on dodgy link in spam mail.


The consequence of altruism is displacement and replacement of the host demographic by introduced alien cultures and foreign bodies. This all happens right under the nose of the ‘everyman’ over a period of just a few generations. He is content his problems are being taken care of so he can return to his spiritual disintegration in the form of beer consumption, Saturday-night football games, pornography, and Hollywood consumerism which tirelessly chip away at his genetic make-up reducing the common man into a dumbed down controllable automaton, all in the name of equality, social justice and “smash the system”. In cybernetic terms the OS has been completely compromised by a computer virus: malware, browser hijacker, directory/file system/cluster virus, memory resident virus, overwrite virus, Trojan.

The lyric provides a ‘futuristic’ scenario where a set of programs have been implemented to firewall the system from malicious parasites of self-replicating “worms” hell-bent on consuming bandwidth, corrupting/modifying files and causing disruption by increasing network traffic. It is the power to will which provides an anti-virus antidote in the form of an iron fortress defence shield around the host computer, human body, sovereign nation, etc. which actively roots out encrypted viruses, polymorphic and metamorphic codes by means of interrogation by Inquisition, screening, scanning, etc... Here we are talking about sending in an elite squad of heuristic AI storm trooper algorithms to systematically and aggressively seek and destroy viral signatures without causing serious problems as a result of false positives during discrimination processes. System back-ups and physical virus removal from the host with surgical precision and then the creation of identity isolation and protectionism after re-installation and a re-boot to further creates a barrier to future-proof against more attacks – All analogous and allegorical to the ‘self-defence of the individual’ and the ‘foreign defence policy of a nation’.


8].  I understand that Solar Mass drummer, Will Bellerby did more than play drums on "Pseudomorphosis"? Can you talk about his contribution as well as how he may be involved in the future. Just out of interest, what is the status of his other band ‘Skuldom’ at the moment?

W.B also played the majority of lead guitar on the recording. After 'Pseudomorphosis' sessions, we changed the way we formulated the rest of the new material with W.B playing lead guitar as well, this dual role allows us to create more dynamic elements to the Solarmass writing process by being 'alive' when we are working on it rather than how i wrote the older material, which was having to work out both guitars from one individual perspective, giving less dimension. There is no other band for W.B at this point in time.

9]. What are your future plans for Solar Mass?

At this stage, I think we need to concentrate on releasing an interesting, if not exciting debut album for public consumption. Once we have that nailed we would like to see the debut distributed and promoted throughout the Western world to acquire a reasonable amount of feedback so we can analyse the data to market future releases. The output will be fed back into the creative loop like a Laplace transform so we can continue to enhance and refine the writing/production process, ensuring future content is one of top quality which conforms to the high caliber expectations serious heavy metal fans demand, without cucking-out to pressure from mainstream labels, magazines and social media platforms. I think there is much more scope to expand on the Solar-Mass universe, and maybe introduce some collateral and abstract concepts into the mix which ordinarily may not find their way into the science fiction genre. I would like to see the band develop into a musical version of the chronicled ‘Heavy Metal / Métal Hurlant’ magazine: Sci-fi, fantasy-horror, anti-establishment screaming-metal!

10]. Is there anything else you’d like to say in closing?


Thank you for providing thought provoking questions. For now, you can follow us here to keep up-to-date with news and merchandise offers: https://www.facebook.com/SSAMRALOS/ and always remember, Death to the Magian, transport them to Jupiter!




Monday, August 21, 2017

Obituary: Cleary West 1972 - 2017




Friday 18 August 2017, sadly saw the sudden passing of Cleary West, "Warfare Pulse Controller"of the Invercargill death metal band 'Hatred', of which he'd been bashing the drums for since it's formation in 1992.

I've had quite a bit to do with Cleary and his bandmates over the last 20 or so years. Particularly when I was bringing bands to tour NZ and would get Hatred open on the Invercargill or Dunedin dates. These included Brutal Truth, Pungent Stench (twice), Atomizer, Sticky Filth and numerous local bands.

Hatred in Wellington on their 2014 'Hikoi of Hatred' tour.   L to R Robbie, Cleary, Brady and Sam (RIP)

I, as well as the many who knew him, will miss him for his hardcase personality and hilarious grasp of Southland self-depreciating humour.
My fondest memory of Cleary though, was not so much a funny one, but a more of a heart warming moment.    Pungent Stench were playing the first night of their 2003 New Zealand tour in Invercargill at Tillermans. The show was packed with an enthusiastic audience who were stoked that an international underground metal band like them would come to play their town.  So much so was the disbelief, that the bar had been receiving calls to ask if it was the real Pungent Stench and not just a tribute band using the same name.  Stench blew the roof off that night and after about their second encore, I recall seeing Cleary jump up on the stage, grab the microphone and announce something along the lines of  "Hey everyone, these guys have come all the way from the other side of the world to play this kick ass show for us.  Let show them a big Invercargill round of appreciation!!!".  Which of course it was followed by, leading on to yet another encore and one of the longest (and best) sets Pungent Stench played on that tour.   I know that Martin, Alex & Mario from that line up of Pungent Stench, also felt this show to be a special stand out from all their years of touring and will be ensuring they get to read this.  

At the time of writing, the remaining members of Hatred, Robbie and Brady (Sadly bass player Sam also passed away from cancer in 2016), are feeling pretty broken up at the loss of their mate and have agreed that yours truly should write the initial version  of Cleary's obituary for the New Zealand metal community.   As I'm sure many of you who knew Cleary will have lots entertaining stories to tell to about him, I'd like to make this post a live document that can be added to over time as his friends and whanau remember or feel ready to share.  If you have something you'd like to add, leave it in the comments or pass it onto me via Brady or Robbie.  

Haere ra e hoa, kua haere ki tua o te ārai - Farewell to my friend, he's gone to the other side of the veil

Chris Rigby

Following is Cleary's death notice as it appeared in the 19 August 2017 edition of the Southland Times:
WEST, Cleary James:
2.3.1972 - 17.8.2017
"Warfare Pulse Controller". It is with a broken heart and a touch of anger that we have to announce the sudden passing of Cleary. Loved son of Westy, brother of Bert, Rhondda, Nikki, Mary, Paul, and Darren. Father of Araya and birth father of Khellsey-Anna, Kaytlin and Shayla Rose, step dad of Zhan'e, Annekea, and Jacob. "A Hatred Mate" of Rob Dog, Brady, and Sam. Loved uncle of Crofty, dear friend of Keita, a lover of all things music and our heart and a laugh for any and all. Funeral arrangements to be announced.
\../ BRUTAL HAILS \../No flowers please but Araya likes chocolate! Messages to 64 Price Street, Invercargill.
Avenal Park Funeral Home, Invercargill
03 2189021
F.D.A.N.Z.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Lock Up vocalist, Kevin Sharp passes brutal-as-fuck kidney stone!



In 1998, around the time details of Bill Clinton's cigar escapades were coming out, I found myself promoting a New Zealand tour for Brutal Truth.  It was the first time I'd ever done anything like that, so although the tour went pretty well, I didn't really know what I was doing and there were a few minor fuck ups along the way.   One said fuck up involved not properly organising accommodation in Palmerston North, resulting in us all having to sleep on the floor of the venue (The Stomach).   The next morning I recall looking over to see drummer, Rich Hoak waking up from under a bed he'd made from tour shirts he'd got out of the merch. Then becoming uncomfortably aware that, as some perverse form of punishment, Kevin Sharp's bare ass and balls were squatted, hovering less than two inches above my head from where I was lying!  
This morning I checked facebook to see his over night birth announcement (see above).
Being once so horribly close to the origin of the offending giblet, I pulled no punches in asking the hard questions in the post comments.

Subcide Webzine: Congratulations. Did that come out through the eye of your dick?

Kevin Sharp: It sure did... wonderful feeling

Subcide: How big? (The stone)

Kevin Sharp: 3/8"

Subcide: What does it smell like?

Kevin Sharp: to be honest - you've asked some pretty fucked up questions... but sort of that new stone smell

Subcide: Was there blood when you pissed it out?

Kevin Sharp: no.. when these things bang around on the inside... you bleed a little bit every time... I was half asleep when it launched... barely noticed... just heard it bounce in the bowl... stuck to the side... didn't even have to dig it out... got any more questions asshat?

Subcide: why yes I do, scrotum face. When it stuck to the side of the bowl, did you have to put your hand in with all your piss or did it stick above the waterline?

Kevin Sharp: above waterline

Subcide: what do you think it stuck to? How heavy is it?

Kevin Sharp: fuk my life you're annoying... no idea.. not heavy... sorta like coral

Subcide: Thank you. That will be all.

Kevin Sharp: you sure... I'm here all night wise guy

Subcide: Can I publish this as an interview on my blog?

Kevin Sharp: Chris Rigby, you really don't give up - tenacious twat

Subcide: I take that as a yes?

Kevin Sharp: of course... now fuck off...

Subcide: Good night and Thank you.

Kevin is currently lead vocalist for 'Lock Up', who will be touring Australia and New Zealand with Napalm Death and Brujeria this October.  You can find details for the Auckland show, Listen to the new Lock Up album 'Demonization' and see a close up of Quasimodo, all below. 




Quasimodo - close up

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Heresiarch interview


There hasn't been a new post here since May 2015 and I've been hassling N.H from Wellington New Zealand's Heresiarch to do an interview here since at least 2011.  So it's only appropriate that he gets to break the drought....

1) It’s been awhile since your 2014 Wælwulf ep. What’s been happening with Heresiarch since then?

After Wælwulf, we did shows in NZ and Black Conjuration IV Fest in Australia, at the time I was also doing drums and then bass for Vesicant. For 2015 we were inactive.

This year we recruited N.O on drums, now have J.B back in the lineup and for the first time have a lineup with all members in the same city. We've been working on new material for our full length since. Recently we recorded our track for the split with Genocide Shrines, Trepanation and Serpents Athirst which will be out on Dark Descent and Cyclopean Eye in 2017.

Wælwulf 7" cover
2) Having your line up all in the same city must be a significant change for you. What aspects do you think that does to enhance Heresiarch? If any, what were the advantages of the previous two lines ups that were national and then trans tasman?

Being able to regularly rehearse as a full band has further developed our music, the writing process and presentation of live material.

There were definite advantages in the previous recording lineups but they were independent of location... Each individual involved to date has made important contributions to the band with commitment, experience and musicianship.



3) How did this 4 way split come about? What was the deciding factor for the combination of bands? Tell us about your contribution toward it.

I've been in contact with Genocide Shrines before the "Devanation Monumentemples" EP was released in 2012, we have mutual respect for each other’s music and ideology.

I was in Sri Lanka recently and discussed with Genocide Shrines and Serpents Athirst members, we all agreed on the bands involved and labels to work with. Trepanation are also on board which are one of the best NZ band's today, the track they’ve recorded is pure savagery.

Each band will be contributing one new song to this release, our track represents how the new material for the coming album will sound.


Preview of the Heresiarch contribution to the split

4) Looking ahead from the split, what else is on the horizon for Heresiarch at the moment?

The priority for this year has been working on new material, we’re working on the last songs currently.

We recently played with Immolation at Valhalla in Wellington which was our first live appearance in over 2 years. In November/December we have gigs lined up with Trepanation in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch alongside some newer bands such as Desolation Horns and Exaltation. We’re discussing opportunities for next year but our focus is towards building the foundations for the new era of Heresiarch.


5) Tell us about this album. Please give an idea about lyrical and musical themes, titles, intended release date and anything else we could expect.


The title is Death Ordinance, it is being composed with a lyrical and musical narrative, similar to what was done with Wælwulf but further expanded.

Each song has a specific place in the album and is written accordingly, it’s important that the full length album is complete, rather than a collection of songs. Release dates will be given by Dark Descent when it is time to, our focus is on composing the material to reflect the vision rather than meeting an arbitrary deadline. One of the tracks features on the coming split and will give an indication.



6) So with ‘Death Ordinance’ being consistent with what we heard on the Wælwulf ep, can we expect to hear more of the dynamic, complex song writing such as that on the track ‘Endethraest’? Also will we see the artwork of Nick Keller again? If so what concept might that take?

The songs composed are more developed than previous material. The addition of C.S has contributed a new element of song writing which still reflects the sound or Heresiarch. The concept, theme and structure of the album is all planned, referenced and we are ensuring that each song composed reflects this.

We are likely to be working with a different artist for the album, our music and lyrics are very visual so the suitable artist will have plenty to draw influence from.

Nick Keller's gatefold inside cover art for the 2011 'Hammer of Intransigence' ep
7) Could you please expand on some of the lyrical themes contained on the Wælwulf ep and how they may be developing on future material?

Wælwulf took a different turn compositionally and lyrically to the previous releases, at the time I was the only member composing material and I drew on a lot more of my personal influences rather than musical.

There’s an atavistic narrative through the piece balancing primitivism and a more reflective underpinning philosophy. The lyrics draw influence from Germanic, specifically Anglo-Saxon historic and literary texts such as Brunaburh and Maldon. There’s allusions to Ragnarök\ Götterdämmerung, with an Anti-Theistic approach (murder of gods, rejection of hope, destiny and fate) as well as implications to the present.

That theme will be expanded on later as a "saga”, but won't be on the album. The album expands on the composition and flow found in Wælwulf, with each track having a specific purpose in the scheme of the album. This is why the Obsecrating, Hammer and Wælwulf were individual demos and EP's rather than recorded together as an album.


8) I guess that leads to a few questions. In your view, how do you see pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon history having implications in the present day? Where did you become interested in these things? Does this suggest that ideas for future Heresiarch EPs might be in their embryonic form?

Numerous historic texts are still applied to the present day which multitudes adhere to with mindless devotion. The lyrical content can draw influence from an event or text without specifically referring to it, there are parallels with multiple cultures and eras throughout history.

There’s no suggestion to foster spurious relationships with old gods and tribes, or escape reality and romanticise the past. Wælwulf recounts multiple references whilst having an application to the present, in mind, attitude and will.

The follow up to the album is already taking form. It will feature previous and unreleased material recorded as a cohesive release.
9) Tell us about the process or processes you use to write your music. What is working particularly well at the moment?

C.S and I consistently work on new material together as well as separately. We focus on each track\section of the album specifically, if something is more fitting elsewhere it will be designated so.

Each tracks place in the overall composition is specific and if it doesn’t reflect this, it is discarded, writing with a greater context in mind has worked well.




10) What aesthetic theme are you considering for your future live shows?

We will be building on what we’ve used previously with smoke, lighting and minimal “crowd pleasing” interaction. Creating an inclusive atmosphere does not reflect our music, in a live setting the listener should be able to experience this, rather than participate in a group activity. The audience should feel as though they are being watched just as much as the band.


11) You say you want "minimal crowd pleasing" in your live show and that you want the audience "to feel though they are being watched". How do you see your audience? If you don't want them to be pleased, for what reason should they come to see Heresiarch play live? 

Those familiar with our sound and releases should know what to expect, we’re not going to strike up conversations and share anecdotes between songs. The live atmosphere is a representation of the sound and vision of the band.



12) Do you have a set idea of what you’re aiming for with Heresiarch’s music? I mean, do you feel like you’re making that music right now? Or are you still exploring the path towards your end goal?

Yes, we are very specific with what we are working towards. The new material written is the best representation of the band musically and thematically and is the most purposeful manifestation of Heresiarch. Throughout each release the music and ideas have evolved while maintaining the underpinning identity of the band, the end goal is likely to evolve with time as well.


13) You’ve talked about influences, be they personal or musical, but what inspires you to keep pushing ahead with Heresiarch today?


We will continue forwards until there is nothing more to say/do, at this stage there is no conclusive end in sight. Even during periods of inactivity we have used the time to formulate and develop ideas for the future, those ideas give purpose and become the motive for continuing. If this changes, the band will cease.

Special thanks to Craig Hayes of Six Noises for his assistance with this interview.
 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Review: Malevolence - Relentless Entropy


I haven't felt much like writing over the past year or so.  Something I promised myself when I started this blog in 2010, was that I wouldn't allow it to become a burden like the old print version of 'Subcide Zine' did. As it happens, right now I'm feeling quite creative and motivated. There are a number of releases that have inspired me in the last while that I'd like to tell you all about. They may not be new as such, so if you have already heard them I encourage you to take another listen.  I've particularly enjoyed listening to and writing about this one.

Chris Rigby

Malevolence - Relentless Entropy (Self released)

Not so long ago I was checking out an old album by ‘Groinchurn’ called ‘Sixtimesnine'. ‘Groinchurn’ were a kick ass grindcore band from South Africa in the late 90s. When listening to it I thought "Man that was a great era for grindcore. Bands had started to develop musically. They were incorporating new diverse, intricate, interesting and engaging concepts into their music. The results being really enjoyable listening experiences." Brutal Truth were pioneers of this concept. Napalm Death had started to go down the same path and Nasum had just appeared on the scene. But where was this sound these days? Sure Napalm Death are still here and kicking ass. But Brutal Truth are over, as are Nasum, but why is there no one new doing this or developing it further?

As synchronicity would have it, after their 20+ years of existence 'Malevolence' come along with 'Relentless Entropy' to fill that gap. From start to finish it’s a consistent piece of modern grind art. It kicks off with 'Approaching Monster', an instrumental climbing intro which is later complimented by the album outro 'Retreating Monster', assumedly sequels to 'Passing Monster' from the 2007 EP ‘Eyes to See, Ears to Hear, Wrists to Slit’. ‘Approaching Monster’ leads directly into 'Digitize', a 1 min 49 second grinder focusing on our unavoidable existence of having our entire lives documented and tracked on line. Opening and closing with “Welcome unit, to the machine”, within Digitize we are issued with our serial number “3-4-4-4-8-4-9-3” which I’m pretty sure is also a clever reference to the guitar fret numbers of the riff beneath it. Then in the same tone we have 'Legalize', which talks about a dystopian future where food no longer grows and in order to survive, humanity must turn to cannibalism. Feeding on the vegetarians first, before farming thy neighbour. “The Adversary’ breaks the 3 minute mark for the first of only 2 times on ‘Relentless Entropy’. It also introduces the first section that could possibly be described as slower. The Adversary appears to be a character who is the “Anti-theist”, neither Christ nor Anti-Christ, they have come to free earth from the shackles of religion and to encourage humanity to “Think God out of existence”. ‘Transparent’, with its animosity toward the shallow nature of mainstream society, is the only song on the album where the music isn’t written by main man Daryl Tapsell, but by former second guitarist Nich Cunningham. Despite the different composer it still sits perfectly along with what sounds like a subtle nod to brutal truth played in reverse. The next 2 are short sub 1 minute grinders. The first is “Property of Satan” inspired by Daryl's tattoo.


Then we have the 23 second 'Butchered', which if I hadn’t read they lyric sheet I wouldn’t know was a personal tribute to the late Matt Hall, former vocalist of ‘Backyard Burial’, who in 2011 was “Butchered by a cunt!”


“Home brew Memories
BBQ smoking weed
Long nights of philosophy
Techniques of the scream
Mushroom recipes
Pros and cons of LSD
Some of what you were to me
Metal brother rest in piece”



'Bleed' tackles class warfare and highlights the fact that tory scum still bleed the same as you and I when you take their heads off. ‘Nothing and Nowhere’ reminds us that we’re all insignificant in the grand scheme of everything and explores the experimental grind style to a deeper level with its discordant chords riffs, before fading out slowly with various samples of scientific facts. 'Chased through the woods (with a rhyming dictionary)’ takes the piss out of immature gore themed death metal lyrics. All of which are of course rhymed. Track 11 '99942 Apophis' hits with a super heavy chaotic barrage, not unlike its namesake asteroid which is due to collide with earth on April 13, 2029. Apophis 99942 also is closest comparison to the war metal chaos that's currently coming out of New Zealand, and it comes nicely garnished with a sprig of vintage Morbid Angel. 'Human Suit’ has the most coherent lyrics/vocal and memorable chorus of the album, also the most catchy musically. It follows the life of a protagonist who becomes so disgusted with the human race they decide to murder it, finishing with themselves. ‘Idle hands' begins with a voice sample from the 1990/1 Ice T album ‘OG’ where Ice is introducing us to his new metal band ‘Body Count’. The song itself, the most straight forward metal tune, is a misanthropic view of someone who has sold their soul to their corporate job at the expense of everything else important. 'Life Machines’ is the album’s slowest and at 3:46min, longest tune. It begins with a creeping not-quite-doom riff, before ramping up the grind and death combo and Dives into slowness again briefly before finishing on an increasingly speed up War Pigs meets grindcore ending. ‘Life Machines’ spells out most directly the theme that’s been running right through ‘Relentless Entropy’ i.e. nothing we do in our lives will ever amount to anything of significance, we’re all getting older and we’re all going to die one day before eventually being forgotten. …Then the monster finally retreats wrapping up ‘Relentless Entropy’.

Malevolence have been around for over 20 years now, and constantly get better every time I hear them. ‘Relentless Entropy’ is testament to that. It has a simple Black and white cover - Just like the best grindcore albums. It’s held together with trade off vocals from rock solid ass player Julian (I’ve known this guy since 1998 and I still have no idea what his last name is), intense drumming from Ben (also skin pounder for Vassafor) and of course the stellar guitar work of Daryl. 

‘Relentless Entropy’ is modern technical grindcore at its best. It survives and grows upon multiple listens. It will be a treat to hear what level Malevolence elevate themselves to next!

It’s a grind album you should invest in! You can do that by going to www.malevolencenz.com and purchasing it in CD, Vinyl or digital form.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Carcass - An audio interview with Bill Steer


Carcass are about to play New Zealand for the third time since 1993 (the second time was in 2008). This time with Napalm Death. Thanks to Soundworks touring I was able to interview guitarist Bill Steer, via Skype.  Rather than transcribing the conversation, I've decided to let you hear the full audio complete with my baritone mumbling contrasted against Bill's clear english accent.  



This was actually the second time I've interviewed Bill.  You can read my first interview with him, which took place in Wellington late 1993, here: Subcide Zine #1


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Bulletbelt - Rise of the Banshee



Album Review: Bulletbelt - Rise of the Banshee (Headless Horseman)
by Mark Brooks

Author Disclaimer: I don’t normally write reviews on a regular basis, mostly due to the fact that I don’t have enough spare time to sit down and write them out. However, as soon as I heard the new BulletBelt album in its entirety, I knew that I had to review it. I hope that through my writing you can understand why.

The sound of a storm fast approaching, ominous hooves gallop in the distance - a rider fast approaches, bringing good news or ill omens? Before one can find out, their head is chopped off in a flurry of tight bass chops, caustic guitar licks, and pounding drums. Before the body does its last convulsion within death's grip, sepulchral acidic voices are heard announcing humanity's final doom.

This is the opening image that BulletBelt's second full-length album Rise of the Black Banshee invokes. A rip-roaring ride of first wave black thrash punk rock that should have plenty of cross-over appeal and is a strong contender for album of the year. 



For those who are unfamiliar with BulletBelt, they are a 5-piece "black-thrash" metal band from Wellington, New Zealand. The band features a slew of talented NZMetal musicians from other legendary NZMetal bands such as Backyard Burial, Demoniac, Karnage and Pervertor. The line-up is as follows: Steve Francis (drums), Ross Mallon (guitars), Tim Mekalick (bass), Ryan O’Leary (guitars) and newest addition Jolene Tempest (vocals).

I put “black-thrash” in quotation marks earlier because this album is not strictly “black-thrash.” BulletBelt have incorporated far more musical influences on this album than their last album Down in the Cold of the Grave, which sounded like a perfect hybrid of 80’s punk and thrash with early-mid 90’s Scandinavian black metal. They went in favour of a more first wave black metal sound like Venom or look to ‘modern’ bands like Midnight for example. The more rock or heavy metal influences come to the fore with tracks like ‘Deathgasm’ and ‘Murderer’s Collar.’ If the No Tag (NZ hardcore punk) ‘Mistaken Identity’ cover was an ode to the band’s punk roots on the last album, then The Nod (NZ heavy/thrash metal) cover of ‘Sniper’ fits in perfectly here to represent the band’s approach on the current album. Although the punk and strictly black metal roots of the band have been dialled down in favour of a wider heavy metal sound, these haven’t completely eroded away. Tracks like ‘Death Tinted Red’ and ‘Numbered Tomb’ feature a heavy dose of icy, blood-curdling Scandinavian black metal and the aforementioned ‘Deathgasm’ also features a healthy dose of punk-rock stomp. These influences, although reduced, turn up in other places, like the artwork.


 

In terms of the actual music itself, BulletBelt have shown a marked and more cohesive song-writing effort on this album in comparison to their previous work. It’s not as if the band has completely changed their sound, but rather has tinkered with it to get the songs to be at their tightest. Razor-sharp guitar riffs from Ross and Ryan not only bring the icy cold wrath accustomed to black metal’s overall sound but also add catchy hooks that get stuck in your head for days. This accompanied by Steve’s well timed cymbal work and chop blasts really add more punch to the already catchy guitar licks. Songs like ‘Tarawera (Burnt Spear)’ and the aforementioned ‘Numbered Tomb’ feature these techniques heavily. For me the real star of the album is Tim on bass; he really shows that just because you’re playing bass, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to just follow what the guitars are doing. Tracks like ‘Minnie Dean´, ‘Murderer’s Collar,’ and 'Death Tinted Red' really showcase Tim’s prominent bass work, adding that something extra. That extra layer really makes the songs great pieces of music to listen to.

If I had any criticisms about the music side of things, it would be the lack of guitar solos. Don't get me wrong, The Nod cover features a mind-blowing guitar solo from the original guitarist (of The Nod) and ‘Deathgasm’ also features a great solo but I feel that this type of music calls for more solos. In saying that however, these songs do have extremely catchy leads in place of solos like in 'Tarawera (Burnt Spear)' so it is an altogether minor quibble. Perhaps on their next album, at the song-writing stage they could find parts where a solo (or three) could be slotted in. 


Regarding the vocals, I was saddened to hear that Fergus (vocalist on Writhe and Ascend EP through to Down in the Cold of the Grave) had left and was curious to hear his replacement. Those that are familiar with Fergus' ear-splitting vocals will know it would be a hard task to match that impenetrable scream. Has Jolene effectively replaced Fergus? For me, the answer is yes and no. I have been a fan of Fergus’ ironclad vocals from the minute I heard them. However, there was not much dynamism or range to them – the only quality it lacked. Jolene’s vocals make up for this deficiency by adding flair, going into low snarls, attacking mid-range and screeching highs. The only issue is that they’re not quite as powerful as Fergus’. Then again, Fergus was a freak of nature.

Jolene's voice however, adds a venomous, acidic bite to the songs on the album rather than a skull-crushing tone like Fergus’ voice would. Instead of having your skull smashed apart with a sledgehammer you have the (more painful) acid flung in your face, slowly corroding through your skin, melting the bone until nothing remains but a smouldering pus-sack of flesh. It is hard to imagine how the album would have sounded if Fergus had remained. In any case, Jolene does a damn fine job of stamping her own mark onto BulletBelt’s carefully crafted and honed sound.


Another nice addition was the inclusion of guest vocalist Rigel Walshe, of Dawn of Azazel fame, on the track 'Numbered Tomb'. At first I wasn't sure if his vocals worked here as I'm not a fan of Shining (SWE) or Silencer and the guest vocal lines were definitely in this vein (they are interesting to hear at the very least if you're familiar with Dawn of Azazel’s usual vocal style). It has since grown on me and has become one of my favourite parts on the album. Furthermore, the inclusion of more backing vocals/gang vocals on the album, especially on the track 'Deathgasm,' was a welcome addition and one that was lacking in previous albums. I hope that these trends continue in their future material.

On the lyrical side of things, Rise of the Banshee could almost be considered a concept album of sorts. The album features a lot of lyrics focused on the dark, seedy underbelly in New Zealand’s culture/history. For those who don’t know, ‘Minnie Dean’ is about the child-killing woman of the same name who was the only woman to be given the death penalty in this country. ‘Tarawera (Burnt Spear)’ is about the volcanic eruption which claimed many lives and destroyed a cultural landmark, ‘The Pink and White Terraces,’ in 1886. ‘Deathgasm’ is the title song for an upcoming NZ horror/comedy film and so, I assume, the lyrics are based around the movie and its concepts. The other lyrics are more subtle in their meaning but still convey the inner dark nature of mankind. 


BulletBelt have decided not to use Nick Keller’s highly stylised art like in Down in the Cold of the Grave but instead have used the almost cartoonish art style from Scarecrowoven, who also did Steve’s heavy/power metal’s band Red Dawn’s latest EP ‘Ironhead.’ The result is a mixture of classic Mercyful Fate/King Diamond mixed with early AFI (back when if you were into hardcore, it was cool to like AFI) art. The result is analogous to their roots from punk through to heavy metal/first wave black metal and perfectly encompasses the album’s musical outlook and approach. 

The band recorded at STL where they have previously before, but this time they recorded and mixed on a vintage SSL 4000G board - the board itself coming from Peter Gabriel's 'Real World Studios' and has been used for bands like: King Crimson, The Cars, Robert Plant, etc. The result was then mastered overseas at 'The Boiler Room', Chicago. That alone should speak for itself. If not, this album has an excellent clarity to it where everything sounds perfectly balanced. My only comment would be if the guitars were a bit rougher sounding in tone. But what do I know, I’m just a filthy vocalist. 

In summary, this is an excellent album and the band should be proud of the amount of hard work and effort that has been put into making a great album filled with excellent musicianship. They’ve made an album that from the artwork through to the lyrics captured the intended approach and outlook of the band. They have once again set the bar high for themselves and for the NZMetal community and I am eager to see how they will overcome it with their future work.

For fans of the band already, you will love to hear the development and cohesiveness that the band has honed in on for this album. If you're new to the band, then it is a hell of an introduction that you're in for! Don't let Rise of the Black Banshee pass you by this year and get the album immediately. You will not be disappointed.

For fans of: Venom, Midnight, Nifelheim and first wave black metal/thrash metal.

Favourite track(s): Sniper (The Nod cover), Deathgasm

Rating: 9.8/10

To listen to and purchase 'Rise of the Banshee' explore the panel below