Monday, March 30, 2015
This is part of 2 of the interview with Seattle death metal veterans DRAWN AND QUARTERED. Thanks to guitarist Kelly for taking the time to do the interview in a serious way. Remember to read the first part posted below. It is a very interesting read! In this second part, Kelly continues the story of Drawn and Quartered, taking us back to the 90s in the Seattle metal underground. This is not the end of the interview. More is coming! -- -- Can you give us a bit of a landscape view of the metal scene in the early 90s in Seattle, as you experienced in the metal underground with your band? How was it different or the same as the late 80s? The early 90s are considered the golden age of death metal. Yet, I have never heard anyone explain the situation for death metal in Seattle in the early 90s, but you would be highly qualified to speak about it, correct? What was that like for you?
The metal scene for me went from huge shows at the Domes and Arenas in Washington, as a teenager to smaller more underground shows gradually, to the current level of pretty packed clubs is the best most bands in the underground are doing. As thrash and speed metal pushed aside power metal in the mid to late 80s local bands began to get a bit grittier, like METAL CHURCH. I lived south of Seattle, and was having to work by this time. And try to catch shows. I didn't have a band, really. I jammed a lot, and recorded, went to school, but I never saw grunge or death metal coming. In fact, grunge never REALLY existed. I guess a few crappy bands played in some scuzzy bars who were turned off by hearing power ballads by POISON and WHITESNAKE. Eventually a few them could cobble enough songs, and work long enough and hard enough to get something acceptable together and persevere long enough to become appreciated for getting better at what they were doing, and a lot of people were sick of power ballads, and spandex, and unattainable champagne and sports car rock MTV video era. People watched Friends, Frasier and Seinfeld, and sipped Lattes, pretty soon grunge is being referenced on Friends, and sold at the Bon! One video created an industry, and the rest got lumped in as grunge. Metal was non-existent in Seattle. Everyone was aware of it, influenced by it. But real metal was in the bars and finally small clubs, most with no stage or proper sound reinforcement. By the time I figured out what kind of music I wanted to play, I'd missed the boat. The thrash movement was fading. It was pretty small, anyway. Forced Entry. Nothing was happening. The situation was bleak. We'd go to the few shows that were starting to come through, but it was quite a few years until any of the original death metal bands got to Seattle. We were aware of it, we were writing, recording and performing it. No one really wanted to hear it. Odin [from Moribund Records] did his best, and made a lot of great releases, and some sold good. For me, the early 90s was a Golden Age of Death Metal. It is the time when I combined what I loved about underground music into my own vision, and have been inspired to create and continue for over 20 years. Of course, 20 years later, it is a reference point for underground music. But it is up to someone to preserve, improve upon and continue to evolve a pure version of this art form.
At the time it didn't seem like there were way too many bands doing this already. There seemed to be so many distinct ways of going about it. Nobody sounded the same, for long. Death metal was cool for about 3 years, but if you were cool around here in the mid to late nineties, you were into Black Metal. There were a few good Death Metal bands by 1996 when DRAWN AND QUARTERED began performing regularly. We were never quite with the trend of the moment. We just worked really hard for a long time on what were trying to do. I have some amazing rehearsal tapes. We made the DRAWN AND QUARTERED demo, that we put out from 1996-1997. We had a buddy record it, and only ended up with two rough mixes. The sound is horrible, but we never got to mix it properly before the guy disappeared. We started doing shows at every little dive bar in town. On our 3rd show ever we weaseled our way onto the bill featuring NAPALM DEATH and AT THE GATES in Seattle in 1996! We played an amazing set! The sound was great, we played brilliantly! Soon after we got the Obituary gig. And we opened for lots of shows that came to town in the mid to late 90s.
Going back even further in time. What kind of metal did you grow up with, as youth? Were you at all interested in the Seattle bands, like Metal Church and Queensryche? Were your parents into metal music? What kind of music were your friends into? I listened to the BEATLES, PINK FLOYD, JIMI HENDRIX, CLAPTON, LED ZEPPELIN, THE WHO, BLACK SABBATH and DEEP PURPLE. So That would have been my parents’ era, my dad had many of those records, also THE ROLLING STONES and many others, but they both had other musical tastes for the music of the times. A few years later when I'm into PRIEST and MAIDEN, and heavier stuff I did listen to and have seen METAL CHURCH. I love the first two records, for sure. I also like the first EP from QUEENSRYCHE. I was a singer in cover bands around then. My friends and listened to the SCORPIONS, DIO, JUDAS PRIEST, KROKUS, BLACK SABBATH, IRON MAIDEN, early DEF LEPPARD, ACCEPT, SAXON, DEEP PURPLE, OZZY OSBOURNE, ACDC, LED ZEPPELIN and RUSH. Later in high school came MOTORHEAD, METALLICA, RAVEN, ANTHRAX, SLAYER, MERCYFUL FATE/KING DIAMOND. I saw all those bands. POSSESSED and DEATH as well. VENOM, EXCITER, then DESTRUCTION, BATHORY, SODOM, and KREATOR. My friends were from a different era, they weren't keeping up, so I found new friends.
Drawn and Quartered In the state of Washington, death metal band Drawn and Quartered has been making music for a long time, going back to the early 1990s. The band is an important piece of the puzzle of underground metal in Washington. Metal Bulletin Zine’s interview with the band has a tremendous amount of history and information about the band and metal in this region. There will be several parts of the interview. This is part 1 for now. There’s more coming! www.facebook.com/drawnandquartered
Drawn and Quartered was formed in 1993 after bands like Butchery, Infester and Disbelief disbanded. Do you remember when those bands were formed, what was it that inspired you all to join bands in the first place, was it the late 80s? Were those three bands death metal?(guitarist) Kelly Shane Kuciemba answered on 3/28/15. DRAWN AND QUARTERED was one of several names the band was considering along with a few others such as MASOLEUM, ABORTUARY and SUFFOCATED CORPSE in 1995. The consensus within the band was our current bass player Jeff Smith needed to go, and we weren't going to be called PLAGUE BEARER going forward. Jeff was my friend. He was a skilled musician. But his personality rubbed some people the wrong way. PLAGUE BEARER was my vision. Jeff and I had been working on some projects in 1991-1992. On of them we stepped into became SEPTICEMIA. Although he wasn't asked back, I ended up helping shape some song ideas into what is kind of a legendary 7-song 4-track demo we called 'Eternal Suffering'. Legendary, in that it is so hilariously bad. The music is a bit under rehearsed, and the vocal performance/style has been subject to some scrutiny. I managed to creatively mix it and with a few effects, it is a good representation of our set. The band dissolved, mixes probably got tape-traded a little, but the demo was never released. In late summer of 1992 I began developing music and lyrics for a new band I named PLAGUE BEARER. I had a background in music, choir, theory, guitar, bass, piano, recording. I had grown up in the late 70s and early 80s. I loved rock music from the BEATLES, HENDRIX and CREAM. Later DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH. The NWoBHM inspired speed metal and thrash from the East Coast, Bay Area. MOTORHEAD must be mentioned. VENOM spawned from that, BATHORY took things to a new level with 'Under the Sign of the Black Mark'. What inspired me was what early POSSESSED, SLAYER and DEATH were doing. The doom of SABBATH. BOLT THROWER 'War Master' was big for me. The un-holy trinity for me was and still is; MORBID ANGEL 'Altars of madness', INCANTATION 'Onward to Golgotha', and IMMOLATION 'Dawn of Posession. The evolution of metal. I lived it. I saw it. For 10 years I lived for going to every show I could. Now, in 1992 I finally had the vision for my band. Inspired by all that came before, armed with years of music education, experience and devotion PLAGUE BEARER was born! Dave Procoppio and I became pretty good friends for a couple of years in the early 90s. Dave was dabbling with playing drums in various bands and I first met him at the Jam Box where we had rehearsed for a few months and recorded as SEPTICEMIA. We were hanging out listening to some PLAGUE BEARER rehearsals when his phone rang. Dave asks me if he should book PLAGUE BEARER for a show he was playing with his band DISBELIEF. INFESTER was also on the bill. I said yes. PLAGUE BEARER had been rehearsing for about two months before our first show. It's January 31st 1993. Superbowl Sunday. The show is at the Lake Union Pub tonight. The band decided to rehearse and then load out before the show. I also decided to swing by my friends Superbowl party. Free beer and food! Our rehearsal went pretty well. But after loading out of our rehearsal shed, loading in at the Pub, the day was starting to take a toll on me. By the time we went on I was a nervous wreck. This was my first full gig as a guitar player! I'd been in singer in high school in 1984 singing Priest, Zeppelin, Maiden and Sabbath. But I was shaking like leaf as Jeff is setting up a video camera on a tri-pod to record our performance. January 31st 1993. Superbowl Sunday. The very first performance of my new band, my vision. PLAGUE BEARER! We were abysmal. My knees were knocking together I was so nervous. I lost 5 gallons of sweat. My mom is there and can be heard cheering us on in the crowd, she has yet to see another of my performances live. Our drummer, Eric Brewer seems to have completely forgotten how the songs go. Of course, there is no stage, let alone monitors. The P.A. system was probably meant for community center bingo. Shalom is the vocalist. I'm not sure he ever had grasp of how the lyrics were intended to be phrased. Jeff seemed to be having fun. I remember DISBELIEF and INFESTER being really good. Odin from Moribund offered to distribute our demo tape. We recorded a demo, played 1 show, but my line-up dissolved a couple weeks later.
Monday, March 23, 2015
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015
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Friday, March 13, 2015
Renegade (Italy): Thunder Knows No Mercy (Pure Steel Records) Bands like Judas Priest, Primal Fear and HammerFall are the personification of heavy metal. That is, if someone wants a definition of heavy metal, it is not difficult to provide one. Listen to “Stained Class” or “Defenders of the Faith” or “Nuclear Fire” or “Glory to the Brave.” That is what traditional heavy metal is. Renegade is heavy metal. Renegade is a bunch of stubborn fanatics that has studied the sounds, songs, structures, tempos, traditions, solos, guitar work and vocals of heavy metal. Renegade says, “If you feel at home with heavy metal, give us a chance to show you what we can do for you.” In metal, if a band shows that they are serious students of the music and they can demonstrate that they have the whole package (talent, skill, desire), too, then that is when a band is worth your time and money. Renegade is not fooling around at all, and immediately comes across as seriously dedicated heavy metal played by a talented group. The first song, “Nobody Lives Forever” makes clear that the band means to capture the devoted listener of the style. This midtempo/uptempo song has everything you want in the style. Then, “The World Is Dying” follows up with a faster energy that establishes the muscle of Renegade. Now, comes the crucial question, “Ok, so the first few songs rock, but what about the rest of the album?” The album has eight songs, and at no time do I get the impression that there is one single filler track. All the songs sound like the band has worked on them a lot. In reality, the complete album sounds like they labored on every song. For me, this matter is very important because I don’t want to listen to some band that has two or three good songs, and then the rest of the album is a bunch of inferior songs. Isn’t that really what the listener wants? An album that shows dedication to the craft throughout, instead of half-hearted songs or a collection of half-done, hastily written songs; or, just as bad, a band with little talent and skill; attitude alone is not enough in heavy metal; you must have the skills. Renegade has been active since 2005 and with this album now has five albums in total. This is the first time that I hear this band’s music, and Renegade leaves a very good impression after listening to the album a few times. This is Renegade. This is heavy metal.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Posthum (Norway): The Black Northern Ritual (Indie Recordings) The 2012 album “Lights Out” showed that Posthum can play black metal, but it also demonstrated that the band wanted to move away from black metal, as if Posthum was somewhat uncomfortable with the category of black metal. Perhaps they were hesitant about certain things: How to play black metal if you are a Norwegian band and not be accused of copying the older generations? How to play black metal and find your own way within the genre? How to sound like Posthum; what exactly is the musical direction of Posthum? Whereas “Lights Out” sounded ambivalent about the band’s identity, there is one thing that you can take to the bank about Posthum and this new album “The Black Northern Ritual”: The band has found its black metal mojo and sounds positively rejuvenated. In the process, Posthum, as it turns out, does have something to offer to black metal listeners. The band sounds a lot more confident playing modern, part grip/part melodic uptempo black metal. From a metal perspective, these songs connect a lot faster with the listener. One no longer gets the feeling that Posthum is trying to get away from its heritage of metal. For instance, “Demon Black Skies” sounds close to necro, classic black metal, but there is a smidge of melancholic melodies at work, even with this headbanging tune. Then, on “To the Pits” the band expands its wings and we begin to hear in a more full way how Posthum utilizes the spiraling tremolo guitar work for the creation of melancholy, wrapped in black metal. Then, on a song like “Vinter” the tempo is slowed down to melancholy, depression black metal, which adds to the variety of moods that the band works with. Overall, this album sounds like Posthum has found its way of being black metal and still have the space to be Posthum. It is very pleasing to hear a Norwegian band making this type of album. The band is saying with this album, “Yes, Posthum is black metal.” I had the feeling that we might lose Posthum to “post-rock” or “post-metal,” and that years down the road we would find them making weird music of the abstract/absurdist kind. It’s nice to see Posthum stay metal and get more comfortable within its own skin and its own metal heritage. www.posthum.no www.indierecordings.no www.facebook.com/posthumofficial
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Ensiferum (Finland): One Man Army Ensiferum is “fun metal” in a way that other bands are not because the Finns seem unafraid to look like they are having fun. Some bands want to seem angry or depressed, but Ensiferum want none of that negative energy/posturing. Really, Ensiferum is rather intelligent in the way that they lead the listener to perceive the album. One of the smartest things about “One Man Army” is the sequence of the songs. Even though the band writes all sorts of songs, and stylistically, the band is all over the place, the band front loads the first half of the album with the faster, heavier, more direct songs, which makes the first half of the album something like “epic battle metal” along the lines of modern “melodic death metal.” That is not the whole story, though. There’s a lot more going on. The second half of the album brings out a veritable spectrum of metal. Power metal melodies, symphonic metal, “Viking metal,” ballads, covers, folk metal, Manowar-ish hymns, epic metal, melodic singing, country music and a bunch of other things come out the woodwork. It’s like Ensiferum has done two albums in one, or it’s like they are the ice cream man, all the flavors are guaranteed to satisfy, stop them when they’re passing by. Essentially, once the band has established the metal in the first half of the album, they feel free to explore, to have more fun, and do other things, and it does not sound as crazy as it looks on paper, like when I am explaining it. All of this goes to show how skilled these musicians really are, and how open-minded they are, and how much they like to have fun with their metal. Basically, Ensiferum is not for uptight snobs. Yes, go ahead and reach for the six-pack of O’Douls, fire up the grill for the soy sausages and party it up right! www.facebook.com/Ensiferum www.ensiferum.com www.metalblade.com Ensiferum "One Man Army" (OFFICIAL VIDEO) Ensiferum - Neito Pohjolan
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Friday, March 6, 2015
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015
just released March 3rd: "epic doom solo black metal" Lamentations of the Ashen - Hiraeth (Torpor Of The Persiflage) (2015)
The album is 4 songs and it is over an hour long. Yup, you do the math. Long songs. This is not for the casual listener. www.lamentationsoftheashen.bandcamp.com www.facebook.com/pages/Lamentations-Of-The-Ashen/168536829851639
In metal music the biggest posers are the band themselves. Metallica made a maximum effort to disqualify non-thrash bands from metal. As generally unpleasant people, they went around picking fights and calling other bands posers for not being thrash and not being heavy enough. Ok, yes, but rap rock somehow is superior or better or whatever to traditional heavy metal, correct? As anyone who has the "Garage Days" EP can see, the band in the 80s is flying high the flag of rap rock band Faith No More.