Chris "Lazarus OMG" Krovatin is the author of two young adult novels, Heavy Metal & You and Venomous. He is currently working on multiple new writing projects, as well as new material with his local New York metal band Flaming Tusk. He is a freelance writer for Revolver and generally comes off as a good-natured pain in everyone's collective ass.
Hi, hello, 911? Oh God, finally. Uh. Not too good, actually. Well, my wife was just bitten in the throat by this…person. I could've sworn he was missing his intestines—well, not missing, they were everywhere, but they weren't…he was sick. He looked sick. Anyway. She stopped moving a few minutes ago, and it sounds like the guy who bit her has a couple of friends with him, and none of them sound too happy that there's a door between us. Does this have anything to do with all these sirens and that big billow of smoke coming from downtown—wait, hold on. My wife just got up. Honey? You okay?
The dead rising from their graves and attacking the living is one of the oldest stories mankind has to offer. Death is the ultimate destination, and the idea of someone, or some thing in a human body, returning from it suggests to us that all bets are off, here comes the end. And while most metalheads have dreamed of the day they can grab a machete and take on the silent majority, let's not forget that the gore-soaked end of days is going to be a serious bummer. So here to help you weigh your options—and they're growing slimmer with each victim—is my list of the Six Most and Least Metal Things About the Zombie Apocalypse.
The Six Most Metal Things About the Zombie Apocalypse:
1) Wholesale murder! Zombies are like Nazis—no one's going to miss 'em, and they're good for not much other than being butchered. Ever wanted to exercise your scarier side? Now's your chance.
2) The downfall of society! Mankind is sick—with greed, with ignorance, with distraction. And nothing gets everyone back on the same page like a horde of ravenous corpses. In a few minutes, your checking account is going to be the last thing on your mind.
3) Death metal will become culturally significant! One of the chief arguments against death metal is that it's just a bunch of violent fantasies. In the zombie apocalypse, violence is reality, at all times. Here they come—someone cue up "Death Walking Terror."
4) Everyday access to deadly weapons! When the panic breaks out and people are doing everything they can not to be eaten, no one will care if you toss a TV through a gun store window and grab an AK. In fact, they'll probably be relieved. Oh, thank God—a man with a huge gun.
5) The chance to murder the people you hate! That teacher who tormented you all through high school? That boss who loved humiliating you in front of everyone? They're all here. And now it's legal to put an axe through their head.
6) Repopulating the earth! Hey, you know how you said you wouldn't sleep with me if I was the last living man on the planet? Well, guess what?
The Six Least Metal Things About the Zombie Apocalypse:
1) No weed! Aw, does it suck to have to wait for your dealer to swing by? Trust me, you'll remember it fondly when you're scoping the horde for a walking corpse in tie-dye whose pockets you can search. There! The fat one in the beads!
2) No new tunes! We'll all be a little too busy to be writing music, and while death metal may be culturally relevant, you just know the zombie war will result in a lot of acoustic let's-never-forget crap.
3) Uninhibited natural selection! The law of the jungle dictates that only the strong will survive. And that doesn't mean strong-willed. That jock from high school? He made it out. And he's a decorated war hero.
4) Death is boring! There was a time when brutal murder was an exciting thing, the kind of idea that could spawn an amazing title track. But much like chocolate or tequila, too much can put you off. Ugh, Jesus, not more unholy carnage. Someone just put some fucking Portishead on.
5) Sexiness no longer exists! Sure, there'll be a burst of instinct-spawned fucking when the panic first sets in, but after that, it's just nightmares and the scent of stinking flesh. You nuzzle your girl's hair and all you smell is decayed eyelid. Gross.
6) The clean-up! The good news is, the human race overcame its undead attackers. The bad news is that there are now mountains of corpses everywhere. Here's a pitchfork.
Chris Krovatin is the author of two young adult novels, Heavy Metal & Youand Venomous. He is currently working on multiple new writing projects, as well as new material with his local New York metal band Flaming Tusk for which he goes by the name Stolas Trephinator. He is a freelance writer forRevolver and generally comes off as a good-natured pain in everyone's collective ass.
Blackest evening to you all, succubi and frost-warriors, and welcome to this year's Grimmy Awards. I'm your host, Stolas Trephinator. We've got a spectacular night planned for you here at the Bergen Best Western. There'll be animal sacrifices, human sacrifices, human-on-animal sacrifices, and of course, loads of unholy musical warfare.
As we all know, the Grimmys celebrates those artists in death and black metal who have proven themselves true soldiers in Night's Army. We here in the Black Circle feel that in a genre of music so plagued by weekender dickheads, poser assholes, and prophets of false metal, it's our duty to take a moment and honor those who use their extreme music, public persona, and capacity for blasphemy to leave a smoldering hoofprint on the face of music. Without these artists, metal music would descend into a mall-friendly Hell of crushed velvet jacket-wearing assholes and jewelry-obsessed mall metallers. Fie on it, we say! Metal is war, and extremity is our weapon.
We ask award-winners to refrain from weeping openly, as that is some total poser shit, and we had trouble cleaning the greasepaint off of the podium last year. We'd like to thank Gaahl for the pickled herring. And now…this year's Grimmy Awards!
Grimmest Album: Ash Pool, For Which He Plies the Lash – New York's own Ash Pool win this one with their bleak and melodic epic of darkness and domination. With it's moaned vocals and strung-out guitars, this album brings that old-school Scandinavian pitch-burble like none other.
Most Virulent Hatred of Humankind: Misery Index, Heirs to Thievery – Old-school death metal fans rejoiced in 2010 to hear this vicious slab of utter misanthropy. We like our death metal like our women—fast, violent, and full of unspeakable hatred.
Finest Return to Form: 1349, Demonoir – After ill-advisedly experimenting in ambient drone music on their last album, 1349 returned with their frostiest aural assault to date. Obviously, Ravn & Co. got their shit together.
Darkest Use of Horns: Sigh, Scenes From Hell – Like a brass band caught in the maw of the Warbeast of Ur, Sigh's explosive use of horn and saxophone only furthers their sonic insanity. Hail to Japan, weirdest of metal nations!
Most Diabolical Live Band: Watain –This Swedish three-piece take the time to kill pigeons and drench themselves in their blood before a show. That's the kind of honest depravity that a lot of corpse-painters could learn from. Hail Satan!
Most Terrifying New Talent: Wormrot – For many, 2010 was an introduction to Singapore's chief merchants of mind-ravaging grindcore. Their upcoming full-length, Dirge, is easily one of our most anticipated albums of 2011. One expects it will sound like a poorly-cut snuff film.
Most Genuine Devil Worship: Electric Wizard – Something about Electric Wizard's weed-heavy Lovecraft-inspired Satanism seems perfectly genuine. Though their music is slow, their power is strong.
Loudest Laugher in the Face of Death: Nergal of Behemoth – The frontman to Poland's foremost blackened death merchants overcame bone marrow cancer this year. One assumes it's hard to wrestle the grim reaper in a vinyl dress, but hey, I'm not Nergal.
Sickest Chemical Dependency: Nachtmystium – Any suburban jackass can declare themselves grim. It takes true warriors of the abyss to get totally strung out on coke and become one of the biggest touring bands in metal. Hail.
Unholiest Comback: Autopsy – With their five-song EP, The Tomb Within, Autopsy introduced the youngsters of today to a brand doom-hued brutality thought lost by many metal scholars.
Lifetime Achievement: Tom Gabriel Fischer – For his work in Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, and Triptykon, the Warrior himself earns our eternal respect. May all of the forces of Hell treat him as god and king. UGH!
Biggest Asshole: Varg Vikernes – I don't believe this, again?
Lamb of God skinsman Chris Adler has been blowing the minds of drummers and layman fans alike for 12 years with his technically astonishing and intricate parts. In addition to his accomplishments as a musician, starting with the band's thrashier early days under the moniker Burn the Priest, he's always had a passion for finding and listening to new music. The self-described perfectionist recently decided to take on the arduous task of starting a record label, ReThink Records, with his band's manager, Larry Mazer. Here, he fills us in on his new record label and the groove-metal gurus' plans for 2011. Stay tuned for part two of the interview, where Adler talks about his upcoming drum clinic tour and his new book.
REVOLVER When can we expect a new Lamb of God album? Have you started writing yet?
CHRIS ADLER I know that there's a lot of material that the guitar players have already demoed and put down in our little basement studios. I've heard some of it. It's really cool and very different. It reminds me of when we were Burn the Priest, a lot of the bands we'd play with had this kind of big sound. It's going to be interesting. But as of right now we still haven't started getting together at all with trying to rip it apart and put it back together the way we do with the band. So it's really hard to tell what's going to come of it. But the plan is to work on it throughout this year and try to have things in a row by the end of the year.
So it should be released early next year?
If not before. Certainly, I think we want to have the year at home, record the album at home, and be active again in 2012. And we would need certainly a new album to start up again, so that is the plan. The goal after these three years was to really get some time to ourselves and with our families. So everyone is very happy about doing another one, and we're excited about doing it. But I think right now we're enjoying the time at home.
It seems like you're keeping busy in your time off, especially now with ReThink Records. Was a record label something you've always wanted to do?
It's definitely something I've always wanted to do. I've always been a fan of different kinds of music. I spend a lot of time listening to music, trying to find new bands. And in my experience in my band, I've met some of the best people in the industry. And if I can be a part of somebody doing what they want to do, almost like a facilitator, and put these two parties together, great! It's obviously not a great time to start a label, but I'm not starting it to make a million dollars. I'm starting it to have fun, sign some cool stuff, and put people together.
On this first release we're doing, Josh Wilbur, the producer that did our last Lamb of God record and looks to be doing the follow up, his brother is in a band from Maine [Too Late the Hero]. And obviously Josh is their biggest fan and biggest supporter. And he got me up there to see them, and they were a great band. Josh made a great record with us. It's in production right now. It's an amazing record for both of those guys. And I know it's going to be, for their audience, a wildly popular record. The next one I might want to be a purposefully underproduced black-metal noise record that I find or something else. I'm not looking to find pop artists or anything like that. It's just going to be kind of a fun way to keep my hands dirty with music and get talented people together.
What was the hardest thing about starting a label?
I think it certainly would have been a lot harder if my partner, the band's manager, and myself had not been around the block so many times. And just kind of knowing how the industry works and what to avoid and all that stuff. So we kind of came out of the gate able to avoid some of the stuff that the novice might hit. But I guess for me the hardest thing, and still probably the hardest thing, is just perception and what people may write it off as or assume it is. I would guess that most people would assume it was some sort of proggy metal label with a bunch of weirdo drummers and stuff like that, where that's the last thing I want this to be. I want it to be all over the place. I hope that that assumption doesn't hurt any of the acts we end up signing. And that has yet to be seen. We're out of the gate pretty well, so we'll see what happens.
Interview by Cody Thomas
What do you get when you give a legendary Norwegian black metal artist and veritable extreme music tastemaker free reign to curate a heavy metal festival? You get Live Evil: a weekend of sonic brutality from underground bands handpicked by Darkthrone's Fenriz.
The festival jumps off on October 23 in the northern London neighborhood of Camden and boasts "the truest cutting edge black metal, thrash, speed, death, heavy metal, metal punk and doom for two-days of no-bullshit, real metal carnage."
But how did this festival come together…and how did anyone manage to get the staunchly independent Fenriz to participate? The idea was hatched by organizers Marek Steven and Mark Lewis, two metal fans who approached Fenriz with cautious optimism.
"We tried not to get our hopes up, because apparently Fenriz declines a lot of offers," says Steven. "But I guess he saw that our idea was a very good one and was based on the best intentions."
The gist of Steven and Lewis' pitch to Fenriz was that he would build the feastival's lineup from bands he'd personally featured on his "Band of the Week" MySpace blog—like Obliteration, Angel Witch, Natur and Sonic Ritual—and he wouldn't be required to attend.
The result is a festival that features "intelligent, talented musicians who truly understand the history of heavy metal and thus play quality material that will take the genre forward," says Steven.
After we found out about this festival in our recent interview with Fenriz, we booked our tickets (sweet!) and then decided to reach out to the festival founders to dig into the details of Live Evil.
In the following interview, Steven discusses what's involved in pulling off this kind of show, the status of the U.K. metal scene and the future of his one-of-a-kind festival. —Henry Yuan
When did you get the idea to start this festival?
MAREK STEVEN My Live Evil partner Mark Lewis had the idea and approached me sometime in 2009 to see if I wanted to help. Obviously, I thought it was genius to use Fenriz's "Band of the Week" choices as the basis of a festival. The whole thing instantly made complete sense and we were planning it excitedly even then. I wasn't that surprised that he said yes though, as the idea is a very good one and is based on the best intentions. Indeed, the whole thing has been very smooth and easy really. It just feels right. I was lucky enough to hang out with Fenriz and the Obliteration/Nekromantheon guys for one drunken evening in Koboltn [Norway, their hometown] and I was so unbelievably inspired by Fenriz and the whole scene after that. I was massively dedicated before, but after that hilarious, stimulating and inspiring evening I feel like it's my life's work now! Integrity is the key word for me. "Destroy their modern metal and bang your fucking head!"
What was the selection process like? There were tons of bands to choose from…
STEVEN Yeah, it was a little random at first, as we didn't realize who would be up for it. We probably offered too much money at the beginning, as well. [laughs] But we did handpick some of our favorites. Basically, you can't go wrong with the "Band of the Week" choices. I am ecstatic with the bands we have…I can't believe it. I'm particularly happy with the multiple nations that are represented and the breadth of sounds, too. There are obviously stacks of bands like Midnight, Bastard Priest, In Solitude, Em Ruinas and shitloads more that we would've loved to have put on but we are already talking about 2011 and 2012 so hold that evil thought!
Live Evil seems to be as much a celebration of pure, underground music as it is a metal festival. Would you agree with this statement?
STEVEN Yeah I would agree! It's a really great community spirit between all the bands. It's very positive and very exciting to be involved and to help it prosper. The fact that the majority of this great music is truly underground is a cool thing, but also a sad indictment of the state of the heavy music scene currently.
In a way, I like the fact it's mostly underground but I don't believe in "keeping it for myself." I want these bands to be successful on their own terms and I want people to stop listening to shitty hardcore and weak modern metal. That's what I have been fighting for all my life and I've become more proactive in the last five years or so. I can't believe how long we have had to endure bad music.
Does London have a strong metal scene? What makes London the ideal place for this festival and not Oslo, for instance?
STEVEN I hate being negative—especially in print—but the U.K. metal scene isn't the finest in the world currently. I've been doing monthly metal nights for almost four years and I just about manage to get enough good bands. Things are changing, though. In the last year or two, suddenly there have been some really goods bands coming through and we have great bands around that spawned in the late Eighties like Electric Wizard and Ramesses. Generally, we just seem to be 5-10 years behind Europe and North America. Everyone was playing bad hardcore, then sludgy hardcore and I guess Nineties-style thrash. We're just not hip! We rip off U.S. bands five years after it's gone stale. So maybe that is why London is the right place to bring this quality and forward-thinking festival that's inspired from one of Oslo's sons. Norway obviously has some incredible bands but I was struck by how big modern hardcore was and still is there. Metal is around you a lot more than in other places, but it's still underground to a degree.
Which bands are you most looking forward to see?
STEVEN Predictably, I'm going to say that I want to see all the bands equally but it's actually true. I expect to enjoy every set massively. I guess Angel Witch will be the highlight for a lot of people, especially now with Bill Steer [of Carcass] on second guitar! They are amazing live right now and they still sound so fucking perfect—it's insane how good they sound. Them and Vulcano are the perfect "daddies" of the event because neither band has ever sold out or become "modern." I've pretty much worn out the Ghost and Natur demos in the past year so I am very excited to see those two bands. Deathhammer, Nekromantheon and Korgull the Exterminator are arguably three of the finest thrash/black/whatever bands on the planet right now. I could go on and on. We have no weak bands! That's the amazing thing.
Are there any last words you'd like to share?
STEVEN Read the Darkthrone "Band of the Week" blog! And please tell people about this event. It's a great celebration of real metal and we want the right people to be aware of it so they don't regret missing it in the future! There are still some tickets left.
From left: Gottfrid Åhman, Emil Svensson, Mary Goore and Adam Zaars
"When we started out in 1998, death metal bands all had the same 'macho' and 'brutal' feeling: thick beards, huge guys, shaved heads, seven-string guitars…it was so bad that it was unbelievable," says Repugnant's sole original member and principle songwriter Mary Goore.
One listen to Repugnant's now-classic death metal album Epitome of Darkness—the band's sole full-length album released posthumously in 2006—and you will hear a band that was far detached from the extreme metal sounds of the time.
"Of all the bands I like in death and thrash metal, there is very little macho," continues Goore. "There was only one good album in 1998: Mortem's The Devil Speaks in Tongues. I hated every single thing in the universe because every band had that horrible sound."
After releasing a handful of demos, splits and extended plays, Repugnant called it quits in 2004. Epitome of Darkness, which was completed prior to the band's breakup, finally saw the light of day two years later and became the definitive death metal primer for young, up-and-comers who wanted to follow in the same morbid path. Now, Goore is back and he's brought with him a fresh new line-up for Repugnant. Along with newly recruited guitarist Adam Zaars (who also plays in Enforcer and Tribulation), Goore is joined by drummer Emil Svensson of Degial and Graveless and Gottfrid Åhman of In Solitude and Invidious.
While MetalKult was at the Hole in the Sky festival in Bergen, Norway, we got a chance to catch up with Goore and his death metal misfits. In the following interview, we discussed the resurrection of Repugnant, death metal in the Nineties, ingredients for the perfect death metal album and the future of the band. —Henry Yuan
Repugnant were officially put to rest in 2004, but you've recently resurrected the band. Why get back together now?
MARY GOORE It's not so much of a "get together" as it is just starting from scratch. I had to assemble a new group together. Two years ago, Erik [Danielsson] from Watain asked me to get the original lineup back together to play their 10th anniversary show. We formed in 1998 so it would be our anniversary, as well. I had toyed with the idea of putting the band back together around the same time, so I felt it was honorable, suitable and probable. However, the other guys in the band didn't want anything to do with it so I had to decline. Granted, they had other things going on, such as Dismember and General Surgery, but I was pretty sad that [Repugnant] was neglected so easily.
I just wanted to play [Epitome of Darkness], a few EP songs and finally tie the knot on Repugnant. The album has been out for some time and we didn't play a show to support. There was no promotion for Epitome and we had a lot of material that we never played live.
As time went by, I was getting a lot of show offers. Around New Year of this year, I just went, "Man, I'm turning down a lot of shows I want to play. I want to do them!" The feeling that I had when I broke up the band wasn't even in my head anymore. If the old guys didn't want to do this, why not try this with new people instead? Why stay negative about the old days? There are so many people out there now. I just wanted to find something positive, and I found these guys.
How did you go about finding the new band members? Were there any special qualities that you needed?
GOORE Well, we're an "old school" band so I needed to look for people with a similar mindset. There are so many different kinds of musicians in extreme metal that it was necessary to find people who share the same reference points in music, and not just extreme metal. Of course, you have to be
into your Seven Churches and your Hell Awaits, but you also need to have so many other special elements that isn't as obvious and that excludes a lot of people. That includes people who are too technical and not too technical. You just needed to have something special.
I spoke to Erik, again, and I asked him for some advice. I haven't been current in the scene in a long time. He knew what I wanted in terms of musicians, and the first person he suggested was Adam [Zaars].
Repugnant are credited for kick-starting the "old school" death metal scene in Sweden. Today, it seems like there are new "old school" bands popping up every week. How do you feel about the renewed interest in classic death metal?
GOORE It feels really complimenting when people credit Repugnant for kick-starting a new interest in this style. It's really flattering. Back in 2004, we weren't as requested but now we're able to get the chance to play places like Hole in the Sky, Germany [Hell's Pleasure Fest] and London [Armageddon Festival]. If you put everything into your band—hard work, dedication, your emotions—it will demand feedback. And you will get it.
As for this movement, I really enjoy it. Bands like Tribulation and Invidious are really special and they are taking the style further. Now that I'm catching up with the scene, I'm finding out bands who've only been around for five years and are making a name for themselves as being "old school." Death's [1988 album] Leprosy is old school!
Why do you think many younger kids are turned on to the old-sounding death metal records instead of the more modern ones?
GOORE What makes me love the albums in this genre is the adolescence in them. They're angry, and I use the word angry and not brutal. Brutal is more of a feeling a grown man wants to achieve. Look at a band like Morbid Angel. There was this very carefree anger to them when they came out, like a little kid throwing fits. Later in the Nineties, death metal just got more brutal and I couldn't connect with it. I'm not saying this kind of metal should be restricted to a certain age, but there should be a kind of adolescent naivety in order to make this music effective.
I found an extreme difference in what I liked and what was going on in extreme metal at the time. I wanted to sound like the first Necrophagia album [1987's Season of the Dead], you know? I wanted to sound extremely and utterly evil but not sound humorous. There is nothing humorous about Necrophagia's first album. I worship the feeling of being a boy in a room covered in posters and trading tapes. That is the feeling I worship in death metal: the whole innocence in being young. I don't feel at home with most things outside of that territory.
Gottfrid and Adam, you guys grew up in a time when the extreme metal scene was in a confused state. How did you start to get into the more underground extreme bands?
ADAM ZAARS The confusion in the metal scene never hit me because at the time I was too young to know what was going on in the scene. It was just about Kiss and Iron Maiden to me. I guess it just evolved from that into Dark Angel and Morbid Angel. I never got into Children of Bodom or whatever. I'm not saying I wasn't aware of them, since people around me listened to them, but it just never appealed to me, or any of us. We were only surrounded by the good stuff since we were too young to catch on to anything else. The singer of Tribulation actually showed me Scream Bloody Gore, and it was on. The eeriness of the intro really grabbed me. It was like a horror movie—the best horror movie I had seen but in sound.
GOTTFRID ÅHMAN I remember listening to Entombed for the first time. When you're 12 years old and you hear this kind of extreme music for the first time, it just gets you. I can't describe it. It's a weird and powerful feeling.
GOORE One cool thing I noticed is that we all got into the same records at the same age, but of course at different times. This elaborates on what I said earlier about the youthful aggression we all have. I don't want to say that there is a time frame for death metal, like you'll get too old for it at a certain age. I'm saying death metal will mean a lot to you from a certain age. There's a certain charm to it. Let's not forget that Possessed was started by a bunch of guys in high school!
What makes death metal death metal?
ZAARS The one thing I have to point out is what connects all of us in Repugnant: we listen to other types of music. We can put on an ABBA album and really enjoy it. It's so important for anyone that plays music to listen to a lot of music in order to understand a song's depth and substance. This goes for death metal, as well.
ÅHMAN Yeah, I mean, even Possessed didn't just come from nothing. They had their influences rooted in rock. A good death metal song has all the parts like a good rock song. Death metal isn't just death metal. If a death metal band is solely influenced by death metal music, then their songs lose all focus. It becomes one-dimensional.
ZAARS I read somewhere about our gig in London and the person wrote seeing us was like seeing a mixture of the Misfits and Guns n' Roses playing death metal. That guy really put the pin on the donkey, y'know?
ÅHMAN A good death metal album is a catchy one. Sometimes it's catchier than ABBA! Death metal stems from catchy music.
GOORE Death metal needs to be written like a cinematic score. The human mind absorbs everything in a cinematic structure. I mean, we're all captivated by engaging movies and the music plays a big role in that. Even though it's "extreme" music, there still has to be that dramatic structure to lure the listener. It's still music and it needs to give you a feeling, whether it makes you dance or headbang. So many bands miss the catchy part. They can nail the sound and the lyrics about gore and Satan but they completely miss the songs.
ÅHMAN A band can listen to Alters of Madness a thousand times and they will never succeed in sounding anything like it because Morbid Angel never listened to Alters of Madness when they wrote it. Those bands fail to reach into the core of Morbid Angel or Alters of Madness. They don't understand a single thing.
What's next for Repugnant? Are there any plans for a new album?
GOORE Well, we're gonna record a new album. That and Maryland Deathfest is the future for now. Hopefully we'll be doing festivals all over the place. The new record should be really fun to record due to the dynamic new line-up. As you know, I hate the times we're living in. With that said, I feel that with the next album, there are plenty of things to explore in death metal.
I haven't listened to extreme music in a very long time and having listened to some things recently, I find that there are still new things to do. Although we will still play "old school" death metal, we can bring it to new territories. I think there's a place for new Repugnant. I'm sure we will go about death metal a little different than most other bands in this genre.
Photo by Jenny Cowan
As many of you true death metal fanatics know by now, the highly influential Bay Area masters of gore, Autopsy, are back from the dead and out to slaughter us once again. After spending 15 years in the grave, Autopsy—drummer/vocalist Chris Reifert and guitarists Eric Cutler and Danny Coralles—have returned in 2010 and made select live appearances around the world, including Norway's Hole in the Sky festival.
The band, which now includes former Abscess bassist Joe Trevisano, isn't settling for a half-assed nostalgia trip. Together with Peaceville, Autopsy have just unleashed an EP of brand-new music entitled The Tomb Within. The five-track, 20-minute disc is pure Autopsy: old-school death metal that focuses on gore, guts and, most importantly, death. Cuts like the title track, "My Corpse Shall Rise" and "Human Genocide" are the band at its most frantic, while "Seven Skulls" and "Mutant Village" possess Autopy's signature doomed, twisted death metal. Reifert's vocals are as sick and brutal as ever, while Cutler and Coralles' unorthodox riffing and Trevisano's thick bass lines compliment the horror-filled atmosphere.
On the final night of Bergen, Norway's Hole in the Sky festival, MetalKult sat down with the death metal legends before they hit the stage to talk a bit about their triumphant return, the upcoming documentary and the future of Autopsy. —Henry Yuan
Maryland Deathfest was Autopsy's first show back. How did that go?
DANNY CORALLES It was great. I fuckin' love MDF, man. The crowd ruled and welcomed us back with fists raised. We had a great time. I almost died by drinking too much the first night. [laughs] Other than that, we had a killer time!
Why did Dan Lilker [Brutal Truth, Nuclear Assault, Crucifist, Venmous Concept, among countless others] play bass and not Joe?
CHRIS REIFERT We were looking for an outside party for these select shows and Dan was an obvious choice. He's a great guy and a ripping player. It was that easy. When we were booked for Maryland, Abscess was still going and we didn't want to tell Clint or Joe to play bass. We wanted someone outside of the circle. Dan's fulfilling his obligation for us now and then Joe will be with us full-time.
Your headline appearance at Germany's Party.San Open Air festival marks Autopsy's return to Europe. How was that experience like? Do you remember your last visit to Europe as Autopsy?
CORALLES Party.San was full of mud, rain and beer. It was just wet but was still great. The crowd was awesome! We were on a giant stage and there was fire shooting out. I wasn't warned to not step past the monitor and
be burnt to death so that was an interesting experience.
ERIC CUTLER The experience of going to Europe then and now is very similar. Europeans were very into metal music, and they still are but on a grander scale. The festivals have gotten bigger from the last time we were here.
CORALLES And a whole new generation of kids are into this now so it felt like nothing has changed!
REIFERT It felt like time stood still. [laughs] And you had the old farts, too, so it was awesome all across the board.
Tonight's your first time playing in Norway. Were there any bands that you were really stoked to see?
REIFERT Fuck, man, the line-up is just great. Cathedral, Triptykon, Nunslaughter, Obituary…
CORALLES Obliteration, who we just saw and killed it…
CUTLER Pretty much every band! The atmosphere here is awesome, man. Everybody here is ready to see a great metal show. It's just great.
The band's newest EP, The Tomb Within [Peaceville], features all-new Autopsy music. Was it difficult to get back into writing for Autopsy after doing Abscess for the past 15 years?
REIFERT It was simple. It didn't feel awkward or anything like that at all. We were stoked and the songs just came out. It was just easy to be ourselves, you know? We didn't want to change or be modern. We're Autopsy, so it's going to sound like the same old stuff.
CUTLER We wanted to make sure that we had something new and fresh to bring out, as well. We didn't want to just live the old times.
A documentary DVD is also in the works. Can you talk a bit about it?
REIFERT For sure! We're pretty much done being filmed. We're going to get some footage of tonight and that'll be that. It's basically at the point where everything's gotta be assembled and edited. It's going to be a double disc DVD set: the first disc is a full-length documentary and the second disc will be performance footage. There's gonna be a ton of stuff to watch and you'll be sick to death of us once you're done watching it.
CUTLER There's going to be a history of the band, interviews and studio and rehearsal footage of when we did The Tomb Within. And it will be entitled Born Undead. The art's gonna be done by Kip Matthew, the guy who did the Severed Survival and Acts of the Unspeakable artwork plus our killer backdrop.
There are a lot of younger bands today that cite Autopsy as a major influence on their sound. What inspires Autopsy's twisted riffs?
CORALLES Our twisted minds, I guess. [laughs]
REIFERT [laughs] Yeah, that's perfect. We don't try to sound like anything. We just write whatever comes out of us.
What's next for Autopsy? Can fans expect a full tour?
CUTLER I don't know about a full tour, but we will play more shows. We're going to do more shows next year than this year, where we only did three. What's next is our EP, The Tomb Within, and we'll be working on a new album in the beginning of 2011, which will be called Macabre Eternal. After that, we'll hit the road and do some shows. I doubt we'll do a full tour, though.
REIFERT We have enough to keep busy with anyway so it's very unlikely we'll do a full tour.
CUTLER Now, if Venom wants to do a tour, we might consider it. [laughs]
The headbanging legends in Slayer have had a rollercoaster of a 2010. Hell, one doesn't even headbang anymore. After releasing World Painted Blood last year, the band had planned an epic tour this year, which they sidelined due to vocalist-bassist Tom Araya needing surgery for chronic back pain. The frontman was back onstage by mid-summer—even if he wasn't headbanging—and, with that, the group began hitting high after high.
First, it rekindled its relationship with fellow thrashers Megadeth, and toured with the group in the U.S. Then, Slayer joined Megadeth, Anthrax, and Metallica for a string of European festivals showcasing the Big Four of Thrash. (All of the bands played a rendition of Diamond Head and Metallica staple "Am I Evil?" in Sofia, Bulgaria, for a live broadcast, but drummer Dave Lombardo was the only Slayer member to participate. Warner Bros. is releasing a DVD of the shows on November 2.) They then headlined the massive Wacken Fest in front of 10s of thousands of metalheads, and now they're heading back out with Megadeth and Anthrax on the Jägermeister Musictour, which kicks off today.
If that wasn't enough career highs, next year marks the 30th anniversary of Slayer. In celebration, the band is putting out a couple of retrospective box sets this year: the Slayer Live DVD 3-Pack, out now, contains 1995's Live Intrusion, 2003's War at the Warfield, and 2004's Still Reigning, and the band's label, American Recordings, is reissuing all of the band's albums from Reign in Blood through World Painted Blood on high-quality vinyl as the box set The Vinyl Conflict. Revolver recently caught up with King, who spends his spare time (when he has spare time) raising snakes in Los Angeles, to look back on what's made Slayer so great.
REVOLVER What has the highlight of the year been for you so far?
KERRY KING Probably the Big Four shows, because going in, I didn't think it was as special as it ended up being. I thought it was gonna be really cool for the fans and kind of cool for me, but I had the time of my life. It was fun. Being a part of it made me realize how important that tour was.
Why didn't you play in the Big Four jam on "Am I Evil" at the end?
There's a damn good reason. It isn't too long an explanation. [Dave] Mustaine came to me that day and James [Hetfield] came to me that day saying, "Hey, it would be really cool if you played." I knew Jeff [Hanneman, Slayer guitarist] wouldn't do it, and I knew Tom wouldn't do it. And I also knew after we played that neither one of them would edit our video that was going to cinemas in a couple hours, so I told James and Mustaine both, "Listen, man. I've gotta edit our video before I can even think about playing with you guys." So the entire time of the set change between Slayer and Metallica, I was editing that video. I came running to the tuning room after I got done picking the songs, and they were already onstage.
And to make it an even better story, I found out at 1 a.m. the night prior, so I really had no chance to work on that stuff or anything. So I wanted to; it just couldn't happen. I've got a lot of flack for that but yeah, that's the story.
Next year is Slayer's 30th anniversary. What do you consider Slayer's biggest accomplishment to be?
Ha. Staying together for 30 years. [Laughs] That seems to be the thing that at the end of most bands: people think one's better than the other. Or, I can't get along with this guy today so fuck him, I'm leaving. At the end of the day, we've got this gig doing what we do and if I don't like somebody one day, hey, the next day, it's all new.
What is it about you four people, who have played together since high school, that keeps it going?
I think when you get older, realizing the fact that you don't have to be best friends. You don't have to hang out all the time. Usually we get home, and we scatter like cockroaches, and that's my best advice to anybody. [Laughs] Just going home and being you.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment outside of Slayer?
Keeping Slayer together for 30 years. [Laughs] Fuck, I don't know. That's been my life since I was a teenager, so there's not a whole lot going on. I've got a pretty decent reputation in the snake world. So I would say, just last season I produced the third of [one breed's] kind in the world.
What specific kind?
It's a morph of a jungle carpet python. It's called a super zebra. I still have the only one outside of Germany. So there's this one, and now the guy in Germany has produced two or three more. So I think there's six or seven [in the world]. But this is still the only one on this continent. So that's kind of an accomplishment.
They started out with what a jungle carpet python looks like, the zebra is a morph, and you've gotta breed a zebra to another to get what is called a super zebra. In the wild, that never would have happened. The odds of it happening are very slim.
What are you going to do with it?
Since that's the only one here, I could sell it for a ton of money. But I'm gonna keep it and grow it up and breed it with some other stuff.
Going back to Slayer. Since we're talking about your history, what was your first taste of success?
Maybe the first time somebody asked for an autograph. When you're not expecting it, that hits you off the wall.
And now you've probably signed millions.
Oh, I was out for two and a half hours running errands today and I signed a couple, took some pictures. [Laughs]
What's been your favorite rumor about Slayer over the years?
The beauty and fucking horror of the internet is information right away. If people see you doing anything, they just assume that's what you do. I've seen some site where people say what kind of car I have. Somebody might have seen me borrow somebody's truck and that's what they think I own. [Laughs] It's funny how people see something and they just put it on like it's the gospel. It's amazing. The internet's a great thing and it's also a fucking cancer.
What about the pre-internet era?
How do I put it? We're Nazi, fascist, satanist, and I'm sure there's a couple lines I'm forgetting.
Obviously you guys have debunked that over the years.
Oh, absolutely. But once people get an idea in their head, the hardest thing is talking them out of that idea.
Was playing "Angel of Death" ever a problem in Germany?
I don't think so. Maybe in the early days there might have been a little… I can't even remember, that's why I'm not commenting on it. People over there like the song because it's a cool song. For the longest time in the early days, they were more concerned with the "S" in Slayer, because it looked like a Nazi S. A couple times over there, we altered it a little bit in the beginning. It's morphed over the years to different ways we write it anyway. There's still the original one, but then there was that scratchy one that was less Nazi. That's not why we did it; we just thought it looked cool for that particular album. I think that was on the God Hates Us All album. The scratchy logo.
Well, was the original "S" in Slayer based on the SS?
I don't think so. I can't even remember who came up with it. I think it was our manager friend at the time. I don't even know if it was him and Lombardo working on it or how that came together. We ended up on that and I can't remember how.
I was looking at some early video and pictures of Slayer. You used to wear those big nail gauntlets. Did you ever have any problems with those?
Very early. It wasn't even an accident. When I used to have a cable, instead of being wireless, I got pulled into the crowd, when we used to get too close to the crowd anyway. I kind of went down—I didn't go down, I kind of landed on a knee. And I still had my guitar on, and I just kind of swung my arm to get people away from me, and they scattered like ants. [Laughs] I wasn't looking to hurt anybody, I just wanted to make sure I didn't get hurt.
Why did you want to reissue three of Slayer's DVDs recently?
I don't know. I don't understand that at all. [Laughs] I don't work with the record company. The one I was talking about for years and years and years was Live Intrusion. I couldn't understand why that wasn't a DVD. Me suggesting that seven, eight years ago, whenever that was, it morphed into all three in one pack. I'm sure it's just record-company positioning, saying, "Here, get all three at once, and here's this cool pack."
Did you rewatch any of them?
No, they came out since I've been on tour. I wanna see Live Intrusion, because I haven't seen it in years.
What were some of the moments over the years where you felt you were doing something special?
Probably the first time we played what was Download, what was Donnington [in the U.K.]. I think the first time we played it, it still was Donnington. Being a kid, growing up with the European mags, you just have an idea of what it might be. You have no idea what it really was, because nothing here is anything like it. So I think we did that in '94. I think Metallica was on the show, too. But it was our first time. I think it was [drummer Paul] Bostaph's second or third performance, of all things, and it was just awesome. We performed really well. It was one of those ones you just look back and say, "Man, I'm glad that was a good one."
The Big Four thing, that was really cool, like we touched on. The downpoint, probably this year, was waiting for Tom to get done with his surgery, because we had six, seven months off. We're usually used to touring. And I had this great idea of writing half a record during those six, seven months, but it just turned into a party. There was no guitar to be played.
How is Tom doing now?
Tom's good. He's not headbanging, but he's doing his gig really awesome and sounds great, so that's all you can ask of him.
You've mentioned the Big Four a few times, what is your relationship with Metallica like these days?
It's better than it's ever been. Not that we had any beefs with each other. Oddly enough we just completely ran in different circles. I went into this tour not really thinking Metallica were my friends. I've known Trujillo since Suicidal, and I speak to Lars off and on, historically, but leaving this tour I feel like they're all my friends. I feel bad I didn't get to play "Am I Evil?" but I had a good time. When time allowed, I would go into Lars' World—you know, the little section right behind where he plays—and me and Dave would be back there watching the show. I got to see it there three nights out of the six or seven, and it was just fun.
Have you talked about the possibility of doing it in the U.S.?
Every chance I get. [Laughs]
Were Metallica originally supposed to be on the upcoming shows with Megadeth and Anthrax?
When Anthrax got brought up for the second leg, I'm like, "I'm into it." I said, "I just don't want it to have any adverse effects on the Big Four coming here." I was assured it wouldn't, so we'll see how that goes.
You're playing Seasons in the Abyss on the Jägermeister tour, and last time you did that tour, you played Reign in Blood. Why won't you be playing South of Heaven in your classic album tours?
Well, that's definitely my least favorite of the three. One of those songs on there, "Cleanse the Soul," I hate that fuckin' song. There's a Priest song on there ["Dissident Agressor"], which I love, but I don't think that condones redoing a record, because you have a cover, for one, and a song that I, for one, hate and I think Hanneman hates as well. I think that was one that just slipped through the fuckin' sifter. Like, whoops, shouldn't have recorded that one. [Laughs]
What is your favorite Slayer record looking back?
Historically Reign in Blood, without a doubt. And I think the new one is the most complete since the late '80s. I like everything we've done this decade, definitely, but I think each one has gotten a little better.
Speaking of, you also have that vinyl box set coming out. How involved in that were you?
More so. We had some artwork to pick from. They had some stupid name for it in the beginning, like—this may not be it but it was equally as dumb—The Vinyl Collection: American Recordings, or something retarded like that. I'm like, "Man, this ain't the fuckin' Eagles. We've gotta have something cool." They kept busting my balls on tour, and I said, "Give me a second. Let me hang out at the bar one night and think about it and I'll come up with something great." And that's what happened. Two days later, I wrote back, The Vinyl Conflict, and everybody loved it. Definitely gives it a Slayer vibe, you know?
Obviously "vinyl" is a play on "final." Do you see an end in sight for Slayer?
I don't know. Not for myself. I feel great. I wouldn't know what else to do. There's four people involved, so everybody's got their own opinion about what the future holds. I don't wanna give false information and say, "Hey, we're gonna play 'til we're 50 years in the business." [Laughs] But I'm gonna be around for a while, regardless of what I do. And if you ever speak to the other dudes, maybe find out. [Laughs]
In Solitude 2010: (from left) Niklas Lindström, Uno Bruniusson, Pelle "Hornper" Åhman, Gottfrid Åhman and Henrik Palm
The definition of "Black Metal" is an often debated topic amongst metal fans worldwide. Is it defined by the music alone? Or does black metal transcend musical boundaries and need to be defined by its feeling instead?
Gottfrid Åhman, bassist for Sweden's In Solitude, takes a pragmatic stance when it comes to defining his music, and black metal.
"We want to play dark music, and the easiest way to do that is to play 'black metal,' " says Åhman. But the bassist isn't content with simply strumming off a few minor chords to achieve his goal. "I think it's too easy to do that," he says. "I want to capture the dark feelings in a heavy metal context."
Of course, "blackened" heavy metal is nothing new. Legendary Danish metal band Mercyful Fate kick-started this back in the early-Eighties. However, it is rarer for metal bands today to find this evil feeling in a "classic" style. Since the early-Nineties, black metal was transformed by a few Norwegian bands, such as Burzum and Darkthrone (who created black metal's second wave), and in their wake hundreds of bands launched and played music with the same sinister feeling and in the same sonic parameters.
With their 2008 self-titled debut full-length (via High Roller Records), In Solitude—also featuring drummer Uno Bruniusson, singer (and Gottfrid's brother) Pelle "Hornper" Åhman, guitarist Niklas Lindström and newly recruited guitarist (and Sonic Ritual frontman) Henrik Palm—have merged the old-school black metal energy with the spirit of true heavy metal.
In Solitude's exploration of black metal results in haunting vocal and guitar melodies, epic song arrangements and an overall eeriness that grabs the listener by the throat, while they hail heavy metal's forefathers—from Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath to Candlemass and King Diamond—through a myriad of epic riffs, stellar musicianship and driving, to-the-point grooves.
During MetalKult's recent trip to Bergen's Hole in the Sky festival, we caught up with Palm and Åhman (the latter was also performing at the festival with Swedish death metal masters Repugnant) to talk about their beginnings in Uppsala, Sweden, "dark" sonic aspirations and what the future has in store for them. —Henry Yuan
For those who might not be familiar with In Solitude, can you give a brief history of the band?
GOTTFRID ÅHMAN Me, Niklas [Lindström, guitar] and Uno [Bruniusson, drums] first began playing together around 2002. Then Pelle [Åhman, singer] joined the band about a year later. There's not much that happened, really. We just changed a few guitar players and explored ways of writing music together. At one point, we all felt it was most natural to do what we do today.
Was there a specific moment that made you guys play the style which you do today?
ÅHMAN It's hard to answer because we didn't start a band and say
, "Let's play heavy metal." We started playing together when we were, like, 12. We just said, let's start a band and play together. We've always listened to [heavy metal] but when we formed the band, we were exploring different things to play. Our first song was a kind of punk rock song and our second song was this Iron Maiden-type song. Then we started doing more progressive stuff when we learned how to play, but we didn't feel comfortable playing that stuff. After writing about 20 songs, it turned out that "The Seventh Ghost" and "Kathedral" [which are both featured in the band's self-titled debut album] was the most natural for us. It felt good.
Henrik, you're filling in for the recently departed guitarist Mattias Gustavsson. How'd you hook up with these guys? Is this a permanent thing? How's it like working with the band so far?
HENRIK PALM Yeah, this is a permanent thing. I've already known Gottfrid because we were in kind of a grindcore band together. We both share similar views on music and especially how to write music, which is evident when we're working on the new [In Solitude] songs. It's easy because we think the same. The music basically writes itself.
Working with In Solitude has been perfect. I also play in Sonic Ritual, where I sing as well, but I'm not a singer—I'm a guitar player. It just feels natural to just play the guitar and not worry about singing. I'm able to explore my guitar playing a lot more now. Songwriting has been really great, especially with Gottfrid.
ÅHMAN When Mattias decided to leave the band, we were very shocked. About half an hour after he left at rehearsal, we just asked ourselves, what are we going to do? We were in a bit of a panic.
PALM I actually called Gottfrid that night to talk about some other things, like setting up a show with Sonic Ritual in Uppsala.
ÅHMAN And the first thing I said during the phone call was, our guitarist left the band.
PALM I just replied with, I can play guitar. That's how it started. It was very easy, and very strange.
I'd like to focus on your hometown, Uppsala, for a moment. There seems to be a very strong connection between the bands from there, with many people playing in multiple bands. What makes the metal scene so strong there?
ÅHMAN I have thought a lot about this, actually. Uppsala is not a big city, but it's not a small one, either. It's a…mediocre city. [laughs] I think as teenagers, we just needed to do something. We needed something to do so we can get out and not be stuck in here forever. Don't get me wrong: I love Uppsala. However, I just don't want to live a normal life. You know, start a family and work a job…it's depressing, really.
There's also not much to do. We don't get many shows and there aren't any record stores left anymore. There are many bands, even though they are all small bands. We all play music. When it comes to bands like In Solitude, Degial, Invidious and Waster, we are people who take our music very seriously. I'm not saying that we are the absolute best bands in the world. We all want to be. I don't know what it is, but I feel a strong and direct connection between our music and our city.
Your eponymous debut LP has been making the rounds in the heavy metal underground to much success [having since sold out twice, with a third repress in the works]. How do you feel about this?
ÅHMAN I don't know. When it comes to a label like High Roller Records, they already have customers that will simply buy everything. I think any band on that label will have their records sold. I don't know what to say, really. It's the perfect label if you like music and it's an easy way to get your name out there, you know?
I think people are liking what they are hearing. At least, there is a very…strong reaction. People don't seem to see In Solitude as a mediocre metal band. There have been bad reactions, as well. Well…it's just been good. [laughs]
What makes In Solitude stand out from the other heavy metal bands out there now? What makes your sound?
PALM Well for me, I think it's the darkness. You don't feel like you're just listening to music.
ÅHMAN Yeah, I think we do things that other people don't. For me, I like to put up some boundaries. Like, I want this be a heavy metal band. When I see a movie or a television series like Twin Peaks, which I've been obsessed with this year, I just want to capture that feeling by playing music like Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden. I want to use the heavy metal and rock music thinking with dark feelings.
Do you guys also spend the time to work on visuals, like stage visuals, to create a dark atmosphere when playing live?
PALM No. It just comes naturally. We never really talk about what we do on stage. We may talk about intros and things like that…
ÅHMAN Nothing is really planned. Nothing is rehearsed. We never plan what we do on stage. Pelle never plans what he will say in between songs.
PALM We did a gig in Denmark—which I thought sucked—that was indoors, but all of the doors were open so the daylight outside came in. Everyone who was there said it was great because there was still such a heavy darkness while we were playing. They felt the darkness. [laughs]
ÅHMAN So I guess we succeeded in what we want to do live. [laughs]
Around the time Earache Records released their Heavy Metal Killers compilation, there seemed to be a huge resurgence in the interest of old-school heavy metal. Why do you think this particular style of metal is "coming back," so to speak?
ÅHMAN I do feel that people are getting more interested in classic heavy metal but when people talk about this new "wave" of Swedish bands, I can only think of, like, five bands.
PALM Five bands from Sweden isn't much at all, and not all of the five are good, either. I don't see us as being a part of a wave.
ÅHMAN I don't have contacts in the USA, but I do talk to people in big places like Germany. I know that in Europe, classic heavy metal is growing bigger and bigger. It's not just a fad. I know that this will still be popular in five years. At least some of the bands will still be.
PALM It's like that. Some bands jump on the bandwagon and there will always be bands that are genuine.
You guys performed a new song, entitled "Demons," at Germany's Hell's Pleasure Festival. Is a new album currently in the works? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
PALM When we rehearse, we talk about a lot of other stuff besides the music. Like, we talk about Italy very often—specifically Italian horror. There's a new song that we wrote with an "Italian" feeling. We have another song that we're working on that's fairly long with an outro that has a Twin Peaks feeling.
ÅHMAN It actually starts out like a classic rock song.
PALM We mention the songs by the feelings because that's what we want to achieve and put in a heavy metal context. I just like how the new songs are kind of straightforward heavy metal, but there are parts where it just sounds…
PALM Yeah, exactly. Twisted and wicked. "Demons" is a good song that explains what we're trying to do.
ÅHMAN And when it comes to song structures and melodies, the album will be very varied, though the songs will be together in a single line. But yeah, "Demons" is a good idea of what the album will sound like.
What's in store for In Solitude in the near future?
PALM We are recording the new album in November with Fred Estby, who is the former drummer of Dismember.
ÅHMAN The album will hopefully come out in March. Then after that, we just want to get out and play as much as possible. We have a tour in the spring and festivals in the summer. We're not thinking ahead of more than one year. Hopefully there will be another tour in the autumn.
PALM Our goal is to just tour all the time.