Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bahimiron... Interview and Review



Texas’ Bahimiron recently released “Southern Nihilizm”, another impressive release from Moribund Cult Records. I had a chance to question drummer Blaash about Bahimiron…

1) Tell us about the black metal scene in Texas.

Blaash – It didn’t really evolve I’d say until the late 90s, though we’ve always had a strong satanic death metal scene in the state I believe… I recall a few bands trying to incorporate black metal (like IMPRECATION) into death metal, or a full out black assault like CEREMONY (I think they were also in Mexico at the time), but besides ABSU, black metal did not really take form in Texas until a bit closer to 00… THORNSPAWN, led by Blackthorn started notoriety with the Sacrifice of the Nazarene Child show – that spawned I believe around 98 or 99 (I’ve been to handful of them), and I believe that did a lot to conjure interest in black metal, as well as the overall finality of the US catching on to what had started overseas in the early 90s.. As of now, you have larger truncheons like the AVERSE SEFIRA horde bringing the banner of Texas hate to several continents, and a phalanx of bands that spew from Texas (such as OBEISANCE, PYRE, DEMON HAMMER, KATHONIK (rip), ADUMUS, TO SCALE THE THRONE, GOLGOTHA, BLASPHERIAN (more satanic death, though).. and a horde or two more that I have probably forgotten…

Interviewer: See Encyclopaedia Metallum for further information...


2) Does the fact that Texas is overrun with christians/ Republicans have an impact upon your music?

Blaash – depends what kind of xtians…, the nice xtians that beat their wives, rape their daughters, go to church and ask for forgiveness from god – they’re funny folks. Makes good television if you ask me – televangelists I believe they call themselves… lessee.. republicans…, they start wars... and encourage the death penalty…, none of that happens to bother my person, though I can’t speak for the band…, anything leading to derisive demise is the work of the devil, even if they want to think they’re xtian, or republican, or whatever.

Short answer – the religious/political nature does not bother me as much as say when I run into bible thumpers here in Arizona, or when I was living in Norway and I ran into some Real Christians. Those mutherfuckers felt the need to step up and start preachin’ – the hypocrites know to keep their goddamn mouths shut, coz heh, they’re just as bad as the rest of us, they just want to be on television.

3) Do you encounter any hostility from the christians/ Republicans in Texas (or anywhere else for that matter)?

Blaash – I’ve encountered hostility from authorities, i.e. fuggers with badges and guns. I don’t know what their political, economic/socio demographic sphere may be, but I definitely had issues with them. The others in Bahimiron may have had rougher times then me, though…

4) “Southern Nihilizm” seems to be influenced by early Bathory and other first wave acts. Would you say that assessment is accurate?

Blaash – I don’t think so…, Krag Daggon, our guitarist, wrote all the guitar parts (minus war whiskey sodomy), and then we as a band battered those riffs into the spewed songs that are now embodied on the CD. I can agree that perhaps they are ‘simple’, as is BATHORY, but that is the only correlation I would find.

5) Alcoholic rage combined with war is fertile ground for lyrical and thematic inspiration. Tell us how these themes come together in Bahimiron’s music.

Blaash – we’re drunk, violent and bitter – and to boot, we’re from Texas, the goddamn fuggin’ hottest place I can think of, barring standing out in 125 degree weather here in goddamn Phoenix – that’s inspiration for ya…, but if you actually read the lyrics, you will see that they are severely demented diatribes conjured from satanic violence that emits from Grimlord – he is solely responsible for lyrics…

6) Awhile back, Bahimiron did a split with Sargeist. Tell us about that endeavor.

Blaash – we’re fuggin’ proud to have done it.


7) What future touring plans are in the works for Bahimiron?

Blaash – not many I’m afraid, we live in different states right now, and playing cohesively for multiple days could pose problems…

8) Describe Bahimiron in a live setting.

Blaash – very simple – we emit negative energy through our music – nothing too fancy – what you see is what you get – motivated individuals bent on hellish manifestation – not a whole bunch of dead animals, nekkid chix, or gallons of goat blood… just straight up fuggin’ black metal.

9) Although “Southern Nihilizm” was recently released, what plans are in the works for a future album?

Blaash – Grimlord and Krag have both sent some first fusillades of guitar riffs to the Arizona compound…, so ideas are a’churning.

10) Would JenOside care to comment about being a female musician in a blackened war machine?

Blaash – she has stated previously that there is no need to comment – her involvement goes back to early 90s in Europe’s extreme scene, and I doubt many can say the same, though its not something she advertises.

Thanks for your time.

Whiskey vomits – Blaash on behalf of Bahimiron

Here is my review of Bahimiron...

Bahimiron- Southern Nihilizm

(Moribund Cult)

Rancid, raw black metal with no frills is the bread and butter, if you will, of Bahimiron, a USBM band based in Texas and now releasing their second full-length, entitled “Southern Nihilizm”, on Moribund Cult. Consisting of fast riffing, a prominent bass, all out blasts with some mid-paced tempo thrown in at just the right moments, and, notably, soaring rasps that ebb and flow between a high pitch and a full throated roar, Bahimiron hit all of the requisite signatures of the genre with considerable gusto and enthusiasm.

There’s nothing terribly original about “Southern Nihilizm”, but that doesn’t really matter as Bahimiron’s intent is to flatten the listener with an all out black metal assault; nothing more, nothing less. Since this is all done very well, that’s just fine with me as “Southern Nihilizm” blows through an approach somewhat reminiscent of Bathory’s first couple of full lengths with a bit of a more mature approach and touches of droning atmosphere. In addition, there are a few weird, unsettling moments of horribly twisted, distorted riffs and even some bizarre solos set against a backdrop of dirges that make “Southern Nihilizm” particularly effective. Combine those touches with well done, fast riffing on top of effective songwriting, and Bahimiron make a strong statement for USBM supremacy with “Southern Nihilizm”.
Moribund Cult once again has dug up an American black metal gem with Bahimiron. “Southern Nihilizm” is highly recommended.

Sorry, song removed.

Interestingly, a recent blurb appeared on ABC News.com about a recent concert occurring in Baghdad. The band performing was Brutal Impact (pics swiped from ABC News)...



Saturday, October 25, 2008

Empire Auriga... Interview and Review



Recently, I’ve reviewed a number of releases from Moribund Cult Records. One act that particularly piqued my interest was Empire Auriga, a duo from Lansing, Michigan that play a unique combination of industrial and black metal, resulting in memorable, bleak soundscapes. I also had the opportunity to question Boethius, a member of Empire Auriga.

Empire Auriga Interview

1. Briefly describe the history of Empire Auriga. Did the band members play in more traditional black metal projects prior to Empire Auriga?

We had met a number of years before and partook in a project which was named, "The Hearing Blood". It was very inspired by Ulver, in particular the Bergtatt album. It was a strange and foresty project and it went very well, but we were all really wanting to do some different things, so we moved on for a while. The Hearing Blood name was given to a new project by another member of the old project. It all gets convoluted and hard to follow. Basically there is a small group of us from the mid-Michigan area who all play in each others’ projects and start various bands together. It ranges from Empire Auriga to nasty black thrash to bizarre folk music tales... whatever. We jokingly refer to ourselves as the MMMM, the Mid Michigan Metal Militia. But anyhow, a few years post-Hearing Blood and 90000065b asked me if I wanted to do some vocals on an industrial type of project. We toyed with a number of different sounds before the draw of droning black space captured our interests and we've really enjoyed that sound so far.

2. I am intrigued by your choice of project name. Tell me how the name Empire Auriga came about?

To be truthful, it was inspired by Fenriz and his mighty Empire Algol from the Neptune Towers albums. Neptune Towers is some godly fucking music. When we thought we might go more industrial we had some other names, but they were all pretty crappy and not worth mention.

3. What role, if any, does astronomy play in your thematic and lyrical content?

None. The name was chosen as a means by which we could convey the idea that the events in the lyrics are taking place in a real portion of space, but in a time and space that is removed beyond current memory. That, and I'm generally fascinated by space and the overwhelming power of it's presence.

4. Your band’s information lists two members. Describe each member’s role, if you would, in the project.

As Boethius I am mostly just there for vocals and lyrics. I help with the general structure of each song, but 90000065b writes almost all of the riffs and beats and effects. Once he has a couple of them which go together very well then we get together and try to make a cohesive song out of it. Occasionally he writes all on his own, and we acquire the help of Gestalt when possible. Gestalt is not entirely reliable, but when he does show up and lend his ideas they are often quite genius and we are thankful for his contributions. His role in the second album may well be expanded quite some bit.

5. Do you characterize Empire Auriga as black metal, or something more (or less, for that matter)? Why or why not?

I try not to characterize it as much of anything. Black metal has been and likely always will be a primary influence and factor in what I do. There are purists and there are "experimentalists" but I really don't care how you try to classifiy it because as long as something has its roots in blackmetal you can always recognize that bleak and lost feeling of emptiness. The feeling of the void that blackmetal produces is something that I hope my music never loses.

6. What musical influences are present in the music of Empire Auriga?

At the time we wrote Auriga Dying both Burzum and Summoning were large in our minds. We were always trying to get the epic sweeping feeling that Summoning so often achieves with great success. Burzum's Filosofem was an album of astounding foresight on the part of Varg. He took blackmetal to the next logical step before anybody else could even begin to envision it. Also present in our music is influence from Vangelis, Xasthur, Fripp, Eno, Tangerine Dream, Darkthrone, Popol Vuh, Mayhem, Taake, Gorgoroth, Lustmord, Pink Floyd, Sombrous... the list could go on and on and on....

7. Any plans to play in a live setting?

No. Much of the point behind Empire Auriga is to try to put your mind into a place which it cannot be in any other way. No experience, natural or otherwise, can do for the mind what a pure ethereal and space bending musical journey can do. I love music because of it's ability to cause one to travel in the mind and a live show of Empire Auriga would completely destroy any chance we have of conveying that feeling to the listener. Aside from that, there are only two of us and too many parts to play, if we could ever even remember one riff.

8. How does Michigan’s decaying economic climate contribute, if at all, to the themes of Empire Auriga?

Well, economic decay is certainly an inescapable aspect of life right now. I never really thought of it as something that helped to propel music along, but on the Sodom DVD Tom Angelripper was talking about how destitute his hometown was when he was growing up and how he thinks that had a lot to do with so much good thrash coming out of Germany at the time. Maybe he has something there and maybe that is part of why so many good things have come out of Michigan recently. All of that theoretical junk aside, I am greatly inspired by the ideals of personal freedom and anti-state thought. I'm not sure that this has to do with Michigan in particular (In fact, I myself am now in Boston), but the ideas of freedom and self-sufficiency are pretty core to my beliefs. Of course, this all gets back to religion as a crutch and government as a crutch and how you need to stand for yourself and not all this other stupid shit of politicians and messiahs. Use your brain and think for yourself! So, I suppose, yes, this does come through in the lyrics for Auriga and the sense of retalliation and fight that I hope the songs convey. Empire Auriga has been a place of oppression for eons and the townspeople are taking to the pitchforks!

9. Do you have any affiliations with other bands from the Michigan scene?

I mentioned above that Empire Auriga really came from a small group of us all playing in different projects together. Some are mere basement wailings and some are a bit more involved and real, but here is a short list of our musical attempts: Sauron (Witches Brew), Quintessence, Araphat, Elsewhere, Wastelander, The Hearing Blood, Carnage Bastards, ROT, and I could go on. Doomy G. Blackthrash from Sauron has been doing some work with Nocturnal Fear as well. Summon are also from Michigan and we've been in contact with them for some years now. Michigan is a good metal place. Boston fucking sucks for metal.

10. How did your partnership with Moribund Cult Records come about?

We sent out a bunch of promo type things and got responses from a couple labels, one of which we signed to. Then, Moribund contacted us a couple months later and we couldn't sign with them because we had already signed at the other place. Well, two fucking years went by and the first label never did release us, but we were under contract and kept waiting and waiting. Finally, we talked them into breaking the contract and letting us go, at which point we were able to go back to Moribund and ask if they still wanted us. Obviously, it all worked out and there are no hard feelings with the previous label, just caused things to be a little extra delayed. We are very happy with Moribund so far.

Here is my orignal review of "Auriga Dying"...

Empire Auriga- Auriga Dying

(Moribund Cult)

Anything with references to astronomy in metal, especially black metal, is going to get my interest, so I was naturally intrigued by the debut full-length from Empire Auriga, a duo from Lansing, Michigan. Entitled “Auriga Dying” on the ever-reliable Moribund Cult, Empire Auriga’s debut consists of strange, ambient black metal with a nice combination of dreamlike drone and some harsh, almost industrial soundscapes, sailing along a nightmarish base.

A kaleidoscope of decay consisting of muted vocalizations that range from a disinterested, banal tone to rasps that fade to the background, and programming, the promo material is quite vague with regards to the instrumentation arising from Empire Auriga. However, quite notably, a definite organic sound arises from the composition and nicely avoids the pitfalls of synthesized ambient soundscapes; that is, sounding far too mechanized. Throughout my initial listens of “Auriga Dying”, not once was I given the impression that I was listening to anything but traditional instrumentation with a few effects. In addition, although quite dreamlike in certain parts, the inclusion and variation of harsh sounds are nicely incorporated into “Auriga Dying”, resulting in a fresh, original, and interesting listening experience.

If not well done, this sort of black metal can get a bit monotonous (to that end, there’s not much in the way of tempo variation, though), but “Auriga Dying” has varying compositions spaced out over 37 minutes and 7 tracks to hold your interest. To those with an interest in blackened drone, Empire Auriga comes highly recommended and I look forward to future releases...

Sorry, song removed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Watain!!



Bands: Watain, Withered, Book of Black Earth, Sothis, Winterthrall, and Gravehill

Venue: The Knitting Factory, Hollywood, California

Date: October 18, 2008.

I’m resigned to the fact that a Gaahl-fronted Gorgoroth probably will never grace the shores of the United States; however, getting an opportunity to see black metal masters Watain in concert comes close in terms of experience. Naturally, I trekked out to the Knitting Factory for the second time in two weeks for yet another monstrous bill, this time a six-band marathon headlined by Watain.

Four local bands kicked things off with Gravehill, an old school death metal act, going first. Decked out in bullet belts, spikes, masks, and so on, these guys were highly entertaining and came across as a version of old Sodom with a great deal of energy, enthusiasm, and even some humor. Gravehill are definitely a band to check out further. Next up were Winterthrall, an uneven band playing blastbeat driven black metal, but with no theatrics whatsoever. Not bad, but not all that great, either.

Next up were local heroes Sothis, a symphonic black metal act perhaps on the verge of hitting it big. Although I was less than enamored with their debut full-length “De Oppresso Liber”, their performance was slick, professional, and impressive. Much better than the last time that I saw them, and I may be becoming convinced.

Book of Black Earth from Seattle were next and I was very much looking forward to checking out this up and coming band, a band with which I am not familiar. Frankly, they kicked some serious ass with awesome drumming from Joe Axler and well written songs. Yes, I’m going to get a hold of their latest full-length, “Horoskopus”.

Withered from Atlanta were up next, another act with which I’m not familiar, but had been hearing great things about. Unfortunately, they did not go over very well in a live setting and the crowd seemed to become bored with them rapidly. That’s too bad, because underneath a wall of noise seemed to be some quirky songwriting with nuance that just didn’t seem to translate, at least this night. I’m reserving judgment on Withered until I’ve had a chance to hear their latest full-length, entitled “Folie Circulaire”.

As entertaining as the opening acts were, everyone was there to see Watain, plain and simple. The first thing noticeable prior to the opening of the stage curtain is the palpable stench. Upon opening, the stage is fully dressed with huge inverted crosses, candles, bones, animal heads on pikes, you name it. Fully decked out in corpsepaint, Watain storms the stage with energy and blows through a highly theatrical, visually entertaining set. Ultimately, Watain were as I expected, and I went away exhausted and satisfied after a six-hour marathon evening.

Oh, and the Knitting Factory’s bathroom was as I feared.

Special thanks to Dave Brenner.

The pictures...

Gravehill





Sothis





Watain







The t-shirt haul...



The video...

Gravehill



Sothis



Book of Black Earth



Watain



Thursday, October 16, 2008

Check This Out...

A monstrous Halloween night... thinking about hitting both!



and...



Now, this is the following evening (I like Nokturne better than Nocturnal Fear, though)...



Who the Hell is Hate War Productions?!

And, then...



Can you just imagine the t-shirt haul?!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Nachtmystium and Wolves In The Throne Room... sponsored by Scion?!



Much discussion has occurred elsewhere regarding the unusual occurrence of a free, underground black metal concert being sponsored by a car manufacturer. However, there was no way that I was going to pass up the opportunity to see probably the two most dynamic bands working in the USBM underground today (arguments begin) on the same bill; that is, Wolves In The Throne Room and Nachtmystium. "Two Hunters" was my album of the year in 2007 and "Assassins, Black Meddle Part I" is making a strong case for this year's best album, so I headed out to the Knitting Factory for a highly anticipated show.

Given that the show was free and corporate sponsored, I sort of half expected company representatives to be working the crowd, giving Power Point Presentations, handing out business cards, promotional items, etc. Thankfully, that did not occur and, other than a brief mention of Scion from the concert's promoter, Church of the 8th Day, in between bands, you'd have never have known that the show had any affiliation to Scion whatsoever.

At any rate, Wolves In The Throne Room took the stage as a quartet and proceeded through a 40+ minute set consisting of four songs. Beginning with a deep hum of harmonics, the stage is darkened as Wolves... play with primal ferocity as a wall of sound washed over the audience. No slamming occurred during the set and, other than some muted headbanging, the crowd was mostly silent. Huge applause erupted at the conclusion of each song, however, as everyone just soaked up the experience. The closer was "I Will Lay Down My Bones Among The Rocks And Roots" in its entirety. The band walked off stage to a wall of harmonics, only briefly acknowledging the appreciative crowd.

Nachtmystium appeared after a short changeover and proceeded through a great set with a rawer sound than that present on "Assassins...". Mostly hitting material from that album as well as "Instinct: Decay" and "Eulogy IV", Nachtmystium played with a high amount of energy. The crowd responded in kind with a huge pit opening up, especially during the closer, a rousing rendition of "I Kill Everything That I Fuck" by G.G. Allin.

The usual pictures (shockingly, I did not buy a t-shirt)...

Wolves In The Throne Room





Nachtmystium





The video...

Wolves In The Throne Room



Nachtmystium





Next...

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Brief Blast: Lord Belial "The Black Curse"



Lord Belial- The Black Curse

Regain Records

Another promo finds its way to me after being covered by Crin at Live 4 Metal. This time around, it's "The Black Curse" by Lord Belial, a solid, if second tier, symphonic black metal act that has been quite prolific of late. "The Black Curse", released on Regain Records, is the band's eighth full-length since the band's inception in 1992, and is the quick follow up to last year's "Revelation- The Seventh Seal".

I haven't paid too much attention to Lord Belial over the years, mostly just hearing the odd song or two once in a while. Nothing done by the band has really stuck with me. However, I was rather surprised to find a nice mix of raw brutality and melodic, symphonic touches on "The Black Curse" that never seem to descend into mediocrity or tedium.

Although well produced with thundering depth, the guitars on "The Black Curse" retain a raw edge that give "The Black Curse" a, dare I say it, rather unique sound. In addition, the songs are catchy and well-written, and I would conclude that Lord Belial have delivered a very solid album, indeed.

You can read Crin's original review here.

Due to the symptoms of "life intrudes", I've had to skip a few shows lately. However, these are definitely on my list...