Category Archives: Metal

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“Metal” refers to music that cannot easily be categorized, or that has no strong traits that are associated with any of the subcategories. It is thus simply called “metal” and if you don’t like it, your brain will auto-categorize it anyway,

Vanishing Kids

Interview with Nichole Drohomyreky and Jason Hartman conducted by Bill Zebub for the Grimoire of Exalted Deeds magazine.

Nichole, I must begin this interview by confessing how lost I have become in your voice.  I cannot compare you to anyone else.  You have truly developed a new style.  Is there anything that you would like to share about your approach?  

(Nichole)Thank you. I know my voice is not for everyone and I have a hard time hearing it myself… on voicemail, or even played back in the studio…But this body of music was a very cathartic experience for me to write. I hope the listener feels the experience too. It was a strange time for Jason and m moving back to Wisconsin from PDX and being new parents. A lot of emotion was flowing out of me, and may have inadvertently affected or cultivated the  style.  

The song “Heavy Dreamer” is magical.  I have listened to it fifteen times in a row and could have gone longer if I did not have to attend to some biological functions.  I think that it is impossible to tire of it.  I even daydream about it.  It’s impossible to ask just one question about it, so I hope that you don’t mind it taking up a larger portion of the interview.  Let’s begin with the singing.  Your voice invites me into the world of the song, and it really does feel like I am in another place.  Nichole, you guide me in with a an otherworldly voice, serene and wizened, and you launch into intense emotion.  It’s quite an experience to hear you.  You go up and down in feeling, and the melancholy parts are beautiful.  How did you come upon this mastery?  You sang to my soul.

(Nichole) Oh man that means a lot that you connected to this song. I love this song too, and its still super fun to perform. Oddly I wrote the chorus first on this one, which is in reverse of how I usually put songs together. I honestly don’t even remember how the “Child in Time” thing came into it. It’s been referenced much,almost comically, and I do love that song deeply, so it may have subconsciously snuck into the work. Another song that didn’t make the album was absolutely inspired by Deep Purple and not sure when we will release that one. I’m a sucker for a ballad and LOVE to write them. I could easily see myself releasing nothing but ballad albums. If I can keep the guys enlisted (laughs) The song is very personal but I really tried to open the lyrics to share with others to have their own experience. It was,however, inspired by my daughter, and the great love, admiration, and inspiration I have for her and her true spirit. It means a lot to hear that other’s are feeling deeply connected to it, as I, and the band do too. I have to give credit to Hart,our drummer, for writing the back up vocal production on this song, and Rachel Catherine Kent and I performed it on the recording. It’s lower in the mix and behind the main vocal, but when you hear it, it is quite lovely. Rachel Catherine Kent has been playing shows with us since the album’s release, which has been a thrill to hear that stuff live, and changed in a really great way. She sang in a band called ‘No Hoax‘ here in Madison and completely blew me away. The song would never be as majestic if it weren’t for the incredible guitars work of Jason -my favorite solo on the album, and the tasteful, skilled playing of Jerry Sofran and Hart A. Miller. Such a dream to play with such killer musicians.

Jason, the guitar in “Heavy Dreamer” is another spellbinding part.  The distortion is quite a deep fuzz, but is is also the playing that makes it seem like each strum of a chord is played like it is sound to be savored.  The chords also spring upon the vocals like a flourish meant to enhance all of the song elements.  It seems like this song was lovingly crafted.  What was in your mind?  Surely this was not meant to be simply a tune.  It feels like each part of the music was chosen to ensnare any person capable of deep emotion.

(Jason) Nikki deserves most of the credit on “Heavy Dreamer” the song AND the album. She wrote the majority of the songs. The song “Heavy Dreamer” was written by her on organ and synthesizer in its entirety before I added the guitar. So I had those instruments as a guide, as well as the vocal melody. So yes, the guitar is built around her ideas vocally/ musically/ emotionally. I usually have a lot of different ideas and try to incorporate the best ones. It is usually pretty easy to decide what to choose and Nikki generally likes my input. We have played together for so long and grown musically together in the same directions, it is sometimes uncanny. I tend to want to make things busier than needed at times and I’ve been working on simplifying, just using the necessary notes for maximum emotion. Nikki is also a busy player so we have to leave room for each other. Jerry Sofran (bass) and Hart Allan Miller (drums) laid back on this one and kept the rhythm section open which was needed for this I think. 

Would you like to talk about the production of the album?  I am specifically intrigued by the choices in modulation and echo.  I don’t dare guess whether you favor delay or reverb.  I’d also like to know how you achieved such dimension.

(Nichole) Our drummer Hart Allan Miller is a very talented engineer/ producer. We recorded the drum,some guitars, keys at a local studio called Blast House with Dustin Sisson, and the rest was done by Hart at his studio, “Nightmare House”. He engineered and produced the album with us. Also, Rachel Catherine Kent  performed some vocals on tracks, ‘Creation,” and ” Heavy Dreamer.” Jason and I have always been heavy effects users and I could literally drown in reverb and love it… interesting dilemma with sound engineers particularly at live shows! Hart worked relentlessly  on this album and I agree, his choices to feature certain instrumentation,like the keys and effects at times were very thoughtful and absolutely made a band as “dense” as ours have balance and not turn to mud. We’ve always went to expensive studios that were really over our heads and budgets really, so much was compromised. Dimension was honestly realized this time by the sheer work and dedication from Hart as an engineer and producer, but also we worked really long and hard on writing these songs too.

I noticed that the official videos show, shall we say, the band in sort of after-images, visual trails – this suits the psychedelic aspect, but is it a statement that the music is to be heard and for the sound to create the visuals?  I know that in my case, whether my eyes are open or close, I no longer see the earth when I listen to “Heavy Dreamer.”

(Nichole)I think that’s exactly how I feel about the videos. I want visual imagery and sound to come together to create an experience together, rather than they being separate which I think a lot of bands do with video -and can be done well, but I definitely prefer the more artful approach. We wanted darkness to meet beauty and largely I feel that came across. We ended up enlisting a very talented videographer, Aaron Hall, from Rockford, Illinois, who filmed and edited the videos. Aaron really brought the ideas to life, gorgeous footage, and incorporating very creative effects,. Was a thrill watching the ballet dancers, skaters, and transforming a warehouse, bedroom, and a roller rink into dreamy worlds. As an artist, having the ability to add imagery and movement to your sound is a thrilling and symbiotic concept.

I thought that your band was surely from another country.  Have you been told that you don’t sound American?  There is just too much creativity at work in your music.

(Nichole) (laughs) No. Well, at least don’t think so. I’ve definitely had people be off guard that we are from Wisconsin, but have not heard that before.

(Jason) I have heard that before. Even our bassist Jerry has said that was one of the things that drew him to us, that our sound was very un- American. Jerry is a fan of a lot of German music from the Kraut Rock of Amon Duul 2, Can, Neu , . as well as hard rockers The Scorpions, Accept to thrashers Kreator, Destruction as well as electronic music of Kraftwerk. A lot of great music from there. We targeted European record labels to release this album because we thought they might understand it or at least accept it as I think it is more open minded and creative over there in general. We ended up picking Svart out of Finland, an incredible and diverse label. We hope to get over there soon. 

Jason, I was surprised that you had known about me before this interview.  Are you surprised that I am not making any jokes?  Well, you know, as a reader of The Grimoire of Exalted Deeds, that I don’t joke with people when the music is vital, like in my King Diamond interviews.

(Jason) I am a reader of the Grimoire! Your questions and interaction have been so heartfelt that I felt no apprehension or worry about jokes! It’s part of the fun!

The keyboards sometimes are prominent, and sometimes drop in volume, which I think is cool.  It seems like each component in a song takes turns being accented, and of course, there is the mastery of the parts coming together to for greatest effect, building each other up.  Do you write songs almost like creating an adventure for the listener?

(Nichole) As a group, we all tried our best to write our parts thoughtfully, thus giving space when needed and vice versa. Laying back during solos and vocals et cetera. Jerry is a masterful bassist – always serving the song so beautifully, and Hart and Jason both shred and pull back when needed. Really was important to us and took awhile to construct and choose what should be highlighted at particular points in each song. 

I noticed that the album didn’t come with lyrics.  Is that intentional?  I wonder if it is a proclamation of art – that the listener should hear what he or she wants to perceive.

(Nichole) We did release the lyrics with the vinyl, but it’s funny you mention that, as I really did open my lyrics up in a more, deliberate and  broad way in hopes to share the experience with others. Still personal and abstract though.

VANISHING KIDS

It’s funny that even as I ask these questions, I can’t get ‘Heavy Dreamer” out of my mind.  I am working on a black metal documentary, and I am tempted to include an excerpt of that song.  I think that it is so incredible that it will turn on anyone, no matter what the clique or musical preferences are.  Have you noticed that your fans are diverse?  Are there any examples of people who surprised you when they revealed their appreciation?

(Nichole) I’ve not noticed a huge commonality with our fans yet, except that the most enthusiastic and passionate responses have been from men. I was hoping to reach more women, especially since I’m such an emotional creature I’ve actually been surprised by the metal following, as we’re not the most brutal band in the world (laughs). I and the band all have a nicely varied musical palette. We all do love metal though, and the Cure, and Pink Floyd, et cetera. so I greatly appreciate anyone who can see through the need to pigeonhole a sound and ‘genre-ify‘ it? Is that a word? We’ve always, as a band, sort of existed between worlds. We’re not metal enough, goth enough, psych, et cetera or too much in one way for others. So thank you to anyone who can just listen to it and appreciate it without needing to label it.

I want the world to know about you.  If I didn’t have a radio show and a magazine, I wonder if I would have discovered “Vanishing Kids.”  Your album is too important to die unknown.  What are some ways that I can help, and what challenges hurt your climb to the top?

(Nichole)Oh man, just truly listening and feeling the music means more than you’ll ever know. Our attention spans as a species are changing and people give music a 5-10 second chance on their crappy computer speakers. So many bands put so much heart, money, and time into their work and it’s literally just dismissed quickly. Remember the albums that we had to listen to over and over and then it hits you like a ton of bricks?! Certainly happened for me with bands like Sonic Youth, Voivod, and Rush…Or HAVING to actually go to a venue to check out a band. Please truly listen to music before dismissing it. Music is personal, and I promise you that I and my bandmates put our whole hearts and soul into what we do. To write and perform music is my most favorite thing in the world, next to my family. .If you are truly paying attention that is the greatest contribution. Spreading the word is greatly appreciated too, and check out a show in your area if you can. Its hard for us to tour and a big endeavor when we can make it happen – this,means a lot to see fans.

Plug any site or anything you wish. 

(Jason) You can get “Heavy Dreamer” at vanishingkids.bandcamp.com or at svartrecords.com   Although it is 90% sold out! I hope they repress. Nik and I are writing the new album currently and hope to have that recorded over the winter. Nik and I are also working on a more traditional 80’s hard rock EP under the name Diati. Also I wrote a song on the new Thor album “Hammer Of Justice.” The song is called “Wotan”. I played guitar, Nikki did back up vocals and our drummer Hart played drums, bass and recorded it. 

The Order of Israfel

Interview with Tom Sutton conducted by Bill Zebub for THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine

Israfel is an angel who has mastery of music.  In that sense, I can understand why the band uses the name.  Your riffs are quite tasty.  But is it not a strange choice to use the name of an angel, especially when the lyrics are sometimes demonic?

Yeah, there’s plenty of good old-fashioned satanic panic in the lyrics, for sure.  But the idea for the band was always that the music would ultimately be uplifting.  I wanted to share happiness with people, even if the music is presented in a melancholy way.  I think religious imagery always has a kind of majesty and weight, so I liked the idea of using the name of an angel for the band.  So far, all the songs have some kind of light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m not sure it will always be that way, but that’s the way it has been so far.

It may be none of my business, but wouldn’t your band be best suited to a label like Svart Records?  I love many of the albums on Napalm Records, but your classic riffing and vocals seem a tad out of place on that label.

My other band, Night Viper, actually did our first album on Svart.  Yeah, it would have been a good fit.  Napalm just expressed interest very early on, and we liked their approach, so we didn’t feel like we had to think much further than that.  Napalm have started really diversifying, though.  I think they want to be a label that covers a wide range of heavy music rather than just one or two styles.  They have released Candlemass albums, so there are other bands that we have things in common with on there.

Do you know Chritus from Goatess and Count Raven?  I am not sure why I am asking this.

Haha!  Yeah, we know him well.  We have played a couple of shows with Goatess.  He actually got on stage with us at our second show to do a cover of Candlemass‘Solitude’ along with Mappe from Candlemass.  My first exposure to Saint Vitus was actually the video clip for ‘Fear’ which was from the album Chritus is on.  That was Saint Vitus as far as I knew for a pretty long time.

Your band is not stoner doom, but some of the riffs flirt with that style.  I’d like to call you heavy metal because some of your songs remind you of how I felt when I first heard Black Sabbath.  Rather than ask you what your category is, because that is more for retailers than for music fans, I’d like to know what you are thinking when you create music.

It varies from song to song, I guess.  It depends what kind of feeling I get from the early riffs in a song.  Like, something that feels spiritual will lead me to think of some kind of lesson or message.  I’ll reach for something deep and universal.  Something that feels more cinematic will lead me in more of a narrative direction.  I always want each line of lyrics in the song to play its role in telling the story of that song, so I’m trying to make sure I’m disciplined about that rather than just throwing stuff in because it rhymes.  And then as we’re putting the details into the song, it’s about creating an interesting color palette for the ears and making it more exciting or giving it more atmosphere.

The vocals sometimes remind me of Jethro Tull.  I don’t mean that as an insult, or even as a comparison.  What I mean is that the vocal delivery seemed very good for storytelling, and your lyrics are of things happening, words of action.

Ah, thanks.  Our bass player loves Jethro Tull, and we even asked Ian Anderson to play flute on our second album, but he didn’t have time.  Kind of crazy that we even got a response.  Yeah, I think it’s great to engage the power of story-telling in songs, and in those cases it’s important to be able to hear what the singer is saying.  I’ve never written any short stories or whatever, but I love creating stories in songs.  Actually, ‘The Noctuus’ from the first album and ‘A Shadow In The Hills’ from the second are parts one and two of a single story.  I gotta come up with at least one more part now.  Can’t leave the story hanging! 

It’s cool how you have radio-length songs, like four minutes, and you also have a fifteen-minute song.  You also vary from upbeat to something more like a doom dirge.  Peter Steele would have called you “Schizo-phonic.”

Thanks.  It’s something that bothers me a bit with Sabbath-family bands these days.  They tend to pick one tempo or one vibe and then do that to death.  I find it really boring, actually.  The bands that established all this in the first place all had a lot of variety in their music.  From Black Sabbath to Cathedral to The Gates Of Slumber, all my favorite bands in this style knew how to use light and shade and dynamics.  I think it’s really important.

I’ve seen some live clips and it makes me envious of those who have been able to catch a show.  Is America not ready for you to do a headline tour?

Man, we’d be playing all the time if we could.  The fact is that all bands are at the mercy of how popular they are or aren’t, and whether or not booking agents are willing to put the time into booking tours for them and whether or not promoters in each city feel like they’ll make their money back.  We’ve been pretty lucky in Europe, touring with Pentagram, The Year Of The Goat, et cetera, but the costs involved in coming to the US when it’s hard to say that anyone would come up just don’t make it feasible yet.  I toured the U.S. once when I was in Church Of Misery, and it was one of the most fun tours I’ve ever done, so it would be fun to come back some time, for sure.

THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL

“The Vow” is quite chilling.   Your songs sometimes can be left to interpretation whether or not the band has occult inclination, but this track has strong words.  What effect has this had on fans who may not go this far into horror?

I’ve only ever heard one person outside of reviews talk about it.  She loved it at least.  I’ve never heard that anyone had a problem with it.  I’m just surprised that no-one has recognized it for what it is.  It’s from a film, actually.  The guy who produced the album set up the sound effects, and I recorded the dialogue.  It actually plays into the story of the song that follows it on the album, so I thought it would be cool.  I still like how it turned out.  Maybe I should do more spoken word!

“The Order of Israfel” makes me remember a time when bands sounded different from each other.  Do you think that it’s harder for a unique band to become known in a time when people seem to be in musical cliques?

Maybe, but bands that don’t have much personality only get so far.  They might find some kind of following, but people will always want something that stands out from the pack.  It’s nice that you think we sound a bit different from other bands.  I would hope so, but it’s hard to know about your own band, of course.

Metal bands demonstrate humor

You may have heard that some bands promote the pussification of metal. like BENIGHTED, which some people call “Be-Nutted” – but the following video shows metal people who have no fear of humor.

Please support bands that promote independence, not conformity and cowardice.

Pussification
Pussification

King Diamond – first interview with Bill Zebub

This is the first interview that Bill Zebub conducted with King Diamond, which was recorded on camcorder (lens cap was on – it was recorded this way because the audio was better quality than a micro-cassette). It was played on Bill Zebub’s college radio show.   This was done during the THEM tour and the interview was conducted backstage at a club in Brooklyn called “L’amour.”

Mercyful Fate


This transcription was included int the first issue of the Grimoire. Bill Zebub handed this issue to one of the guitar player’s of Deicide, and this is why Glen Benton told the tale of intimidating King Diamond on an airplane, which is stupid because the issue SPECIFIED that Kind Diamond didn’t say anything out of disrespect. Additionally, Glen Benton’s words, which I have on tape, didn’t depict an outright challenge to a fight, so I don’t know why he bragged as if there was some kind of gauntlet slapped – and Glen’s story indicated that it was the hulking guitar player who did the intimidating. But even if the guitar player were normal-sized, ganging up on someone, especially when there is no reason to start a fight, isn’t something that should be bragged about.

King Diamond
King Diamond

Are the rest of the members into Satanism the way that you are?

No. No.

Are you a card-carrying member of the Church of Satan?

Yeah.

What do you think of Deicide and their version of Satanism?

I haven’t heard the band. I think they’re portraying the old christian view of Satanism during the time of the Inquisition.

So you think that their image could hurt you?

It’s bad that people are discriminatin in a completely wrong way. They must be a christian band – putting out the christian word on what they think it’s all about. (THIS IS WHAT I PUT IN PARENTHESIS RIGHT AFTER THE STATEMENT – THIS WAS PRINTED, SO GLEN BENTON SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN UPSET – “When you read, it is easy to put emotion behind written words. King did not say this with anger or disgust. Nor did he issue challenge.”)

Did you have a Satanic wedding?

We had a civil wedding.

Do you remember the song “Burning the Cross” – there was a mysterious musician who played in it called Benet Peterson. Was that you, Kim Peterson?

No. Not at all. He was a man who was in the band for a short while.

Did you know that you have a backwards message on “Melissa?”

No. Tell me about it.

When you play the words “Satan’s Cross upon the wall” you hear “What message is this?”

Is that really what is says?

You didn’t plan that?

No. We always did it the right way. It would be stupid for us to try and put something in there when you played it backwards, because it’s all there. It’s all straightforward.

Some people criticize you for excluding Satan in your lyrics. Others say that your music isn’t heavy anymore. How do you feel about that?

People who know about Satanism also know that we have not excluded anything. We may have changed some of the words. We omitted “Satan” and “Lucifer” because many people got turned off as soon as they heard those words. They’d grown up hearing from christians that this is what Satanism is all about – killing babies, and stuff like that. “Satan” means “the powers of the unknown” and that’s very much what I’m singing about. I certainly don’t feel that I mellowed out in any way.

What made you decide to sing in falsetto?

The first band I was in – we did covers of bands like Deep Purple and Rainbow, and I had to strain the vocals a lot to hit those notes. I was not very good in the beginning, but a lot of hard practice made it easier for me. I learned how to use my stomach. It enabled me to hold the notes longer and make them cleaner, and all that. One day, a fan came up to me and said, “You should use your falsetto some more.” I didn’t know what the word meant. But I started to work on the high vocals a lot more.

DODECAHEDRON – Kwintessens (Season of Mist)

This is a deliciously demented album that should be heard at least once. I am providing a video clip that you should start hearing at the 1:08 mark if you are impatient, but let it ride out if you can.

The vocals make this much crazier than it would be if someone else performed, and I love the song so much that I would buy the album if it just contained this one tune. Beware! You might be charmed by it as I have been. I think that I have heard it 50 times in a row. I can’t get enough of the craziness.

I tested it by posting on my facebook page, and I am happy to report that people have almost immediately made purchases. Don’t let this masterpiece die the death of apathy.

ANTARKTIS – Ildlaante (Agonia)

This odd band, sometimes sludge, reminds me a little bit of Cultus Sanguine – but just a bit. Maybe it is the essence here and there, and maybe something that only I perceive.

I would like to call your attention to the video clip that I have snooped out. Put the cursor at the 7:32 mark and play from there. That particular segment of music should be the selling point for you. It is for me. I will trust that to be what pushes you toward a purchase.

THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL – Red Robes (Napalm Records)

Riffs as delicious as those from the early Black Sabbath era house singing from an older world. Listening to this album, as well as the previous ones, gives a feeling of great taste, a music to be savored.

THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL - Red Robes
THE ORDER OF ISRAFEL – Red Robes

The warmth of the guitar distortion is perfectly paired with the vocal style. There is no band like The Order of Israfel, but the music sounds familiar. I had to find a video clip to show you that my words are not lies, and you should be impressed by the quality of the band live. I long for the day when I can be a member of the audience, as will you if you consent to view.

WARREL DANE – Shadow Work (Century Media)

Listening to this album inflicts the same sadness as when I see “The Crow” because I know that this will be the last offering by the artist.  It is ironic that Warrel sings, “Mother is the Word for god” – a line from the movie “The Crow” (and it is sorrowfully coincidental that I recently met the writer of the graphic novel prior to hearing the song).

It is hard to hear “Kill me in my dreams” – I wonder if Warrel was conscious when he died.

The guitar on this album seems imitative of Jeff Loomis at times, a tad shameful, not so much for the mimicry, but because the style isn’t why I like the music – it is, and always was, Warrel’s voice that carried the tune.

There are some new approaches, however.

It doesn’t seem necessary to review this album – it will be heard out of respect, curiosity, or a friend’s insistence.

I am grateful that enough was salvaged to finish this final work. Another Great One is gone, and I  see no replacements for those we lost.  Farewell.

 

Nevermore interview with Warrel Dane

This interview was conducted on a camcorder years ago.  The reason why it surfaced in a mostly-unedited form here is to show another side of Warrel Dane.

Warrel Dane and Bill Zebub became friends after a fan of Bill’s showed Warrel Dane an issue of THE GRIMOIRE OF EXALTED DEEDS magazine that highly praised a Nevermore album during a tour.  Warrel and Bill’s fan exchanged contact information, and it was suggested that Warrel and Bill meet at a New Jersey venue, which was Obsessions in Randolph.

After that first meeting, the friendship and familiarity grew , and the comfort level is evident in this drunken interview.  There is a serious interview conducted a few months before Warrel’s death.  It was just 10 minutes or so, sort of as an antidote to the comical chats that were captured throughout the years.  There was to be a longer, interview during a future tour, but death prevented that.

Please enjoy this night of absurdity.  Bill Zebub was going to post it sooner, but he did not Warrel’s death to be the reason why people watched.  Watch this to see another side that only a friend, and a clown, like Bill Zebub brought out…. oh, yes, and the vodka.  Don’t forget the vodka.