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,

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.

Hornwood Fell – My Body, My Time

You should start your journey with the second track “Her Name” which has vocals that remind me of a spirit being summoned to speak warnings, or of a mystic uttering in trance.  Without further delay, let me list a stream of it for you.

At times, I am reminded of experimental Voivod, which is quite pleasing.  This is my first venture into Hornwood Fell, but I am impressed enough to seek out their earlier albums.  I had to enlist a friend to obtain this one directly from the label because no merchant near me had any information for getting it into the stores, and the Internet options were bare.  I am sure that this has been corrected since those days. I had a promotional version and wanted to show my support with an actual purchase, as I do with every band that has made music that affected me.