Serpent Venom Interview: “This is the easiest band I’ve ever been in.”


Serpent Venom

Doom metal at times can be very serious business, however Serpent Venom – who deliver a thick and filthy doseage of Electric Wizard meets Saint Vitus – may just win the prize for the friendliest guys in metal. After they put on a thunderous and crushing show at Hammerfest V, clearly having fun onstage, I caught up with Gaz and Nick to discuss Sabbath, influences and playing with legends…

First of all, would you like to say who you are and what you do in Serpent Venom.

GAZ: Sure, yeah. I’m Gaz and I do vocals in Serpent Venom.
NICK: I’m Nick and I apparently play bass.

I kind of wanted to get a backstory of the band, like how did you all get together, meet up and form the band, all that kind of stuff.

GAZ: Paul, our drummer, met up with a guy called Pete, they were jamming in band called Orpheus Child quite a long time ago. They had a bass player called Tas, who left to join Electric Wizard. All his friends, they were doing that for a while, I was friends with Paul. Tas left, Paul basically phoned me up and said, do you fancy coming in and having a jam with us.  I was like, yeah that would be great! We did that for a while… we needed a bass player, but we’d known Nick for a while through various gigs and things like that, and seen him about, having beers and stuff, and a mutual friend of ours basically put us in contact with him and me and Nick met up. I gave him like a CD of the stuff and said come down and try, and basically that was that. We recorded an album, Pete then left to move to America, then we got Roland in, who I used to be in a band with as well, a band called Sloth – again a guy we’ve all known for years and that sort of got us to where we are now.
NICK: We got off the plane after going on tour across Europe and we were all standing there at Gatwick Airport, going; ‘that felt really fucking cool… So, do you fancy rehearsing next week?’ And he was like, ‘…yeah’. And there we go! [Laughs]
GAZ: Yeah, we all had common interests and stuff, and I hadn’t been doing anything for a long time. I always was kinda talking to Paul about doing a band that sounded like a fucking dirty Pentagram, sorta stuff, and you know, he was like, well I’m in this band…
NICK: Yeah, again, I got a fucking phonecall from Paul saying, ‘are you up for playing in a band?’ And I’m like, I grew up watching these guys play in other bands, and I was like… yeah, of course I fucking will! I mean, I’m a guitar player by trade – played extreme metal – and I thought, well, I can’t be arsed to play that anymore, and [he] said, do you want to play in a doom band? Of course I wanna play in a doom band. And I’d been arsing around on bass in a pisstake death metal band for a while, and yeah… it was nice, these guys set me up for it. Me and Gaz went down the pub and that was it really; we started rehearsing after, didn’t we?
GAZ: Yeah, we did, yeah. That’s how it all sort of happened.

Just mingling in the circles then.

NICK: Yeah, I mean we all kind of knew each other really.
GAZ: Doom scene really, doom gigs, mutual friends…
NICK: Yeah, doing doom gigs and meeting friends and stuff.
GAZ: Everyone knows everyone really.

It’s pretty good in London with the doom scene then?

GAZ: It is! Everybody seems to know everybody, yeah.
NICK: Yeah, and if you don’t know someone; they know someone you know.
GAZ: It’s kinda handy!
NICK: It’s sorta like: ‘OH! You’re so-and-so’s mate in…’ and yeah, ‘the one who pissed themselves at fucking Cathedral and Electric Wizard’, ‘yeah, that’s right’. It’s cool, we have a good laugh, we get on really well. Just four idiots having a laugh, playing noisy music and doing alright, really…
GAZ: Yeah, it’s not bad, not bad at all…
NICK: For fuck’s sakes, we’re here. [Laughs]

Listening to your music you’re obviously influenced by Saint Vitus, I was wondering how excited you are to be playing alongside them?

GAZ: Something I never thought… I mean, we’re on different stages, but even to be on the same bill as them, on the same day…
NICK: We wouldn’t have given a shit if we were on a different day!
GAZ: Exactly, just to be on the same fucking poster with them is an honour. Candlemass, again, and Angel Witch as well…
NICK: Everybody’s playing really… they’re all names, it’s wow!
GAZ: Never thought that would happen, I mean, I was lucky enough – years ago – to play with Spirit Caravan with my old band and it still blows me away. Y’know, but yeah! [Laughs] I’m at a loss of words for this bit… fanboy worship, I suppose.
NICK: Yeah, but the minute you lose that grounding, you might as well put your instruments down and fuck off really. We’re just human beings playing music for entertainment and we’re doing it for a laugh, for ourselves, and to be able to do it here, or anywhere! We build up friendships with all the bands we play with, great guys, y’know, Conan, Undersmile, Black Magician, Grimpen Mire… all of these guys we jam with and we always get on with them and we always become friends: it just goes to show it’s the best scene in the world.
GAZ: The whole scene in England at the moment is really healthy, there’s so many good bands. There’s another band, Atragon from Edinburgh, who we played with last night… they just come out crushing.
NICK: Blinding… well worth checking out.
GAZ: Bast we played with as well…
NICK: They’re fucking awesome.
GAZ: There’s so many to mention at the moment.
NICK: There are these hated bands for some reason, people just don’t quite get them, and it’s like, we get them involved in shows with us because then people will watch them, y’know… they’re stunning. Simply stunning. There’s loads of bands – millions, hundreds – everyone we’ve played with has been great.
GAZ: It’s just brilliant.
NICK: Christ, we’re just idiot fanboys and we love it. [Laughs]

Well it’s good you get to play alongside personal heroes…

GAZ: It is, we love it. Y’know, when you’re a kid listening to stuff like “Born Too Late” or “Hallow’s Victim” [Saint Vitus albums], you never imagine that one day you’ll be on the same bill as them.
NICK: Even for me with the noisy stuff, we got to play a show with Voivod, and I love Voivod – and so does Roland – and we were both like, ‘Oh my god, we’re playing with Voivod… but we’re opening up for them, and Doom as well, oh my fucking god’. Crust punk legends!
GAZ: I was on a honeymoon and got a text in Mexico from them saying, ‘We got a gig when you come back’. I was like, ‘Oh yeah, who with?’ and it was like…
NICK: Voivod and Doom! [Laughs]
GAZ: I nearly fell over the balcony! [Laughs]
NICK: It was fucking killer mate, y’know, it was just a stroke of luck really. It was Roland’s other band, End Of Level Boss, couldn’t do it, they had some conflicting trouble with members living in other places, couldn’t fly down from Scotland and Harry, their singer, just said, ‘Put them on! They’re a good London band!’ And we did, we played, we were like, fuck… we’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder with heroes. It never gets old. [Laughs] Never gets old!


I was just wondering what other influences you have, in and outside of music.

GAZ: I dunno really, generally a lot of it is the doom stuff, for me and Nick, we watch a lot of horror films and stuff like that. I read a lot of historical books and stuff like that, about the old battles of years ago, the brutal kind of fucking slaying people and stuff like that, and old kings…
NICK: It’s ok, he is sane, he is sane.
GAZ: Y’know, there’s all that…

I’m sure Kerry King does that as well anyway.

GAZ: Yeah, exactly.
NICK: He’s sorta on the naughty side with some of his flags and memorabilia, him and Jeff [Hanneman], dodgy fuckers!
GAZ: I think with regards to lyrics, I generally try… I mean, I try to veer off the horror thing because a lot of people are doing that, and I kind of look at the human mind. Sometimes I think real-life can be a little bit more scarier than fiction sometimes, y’know, with people going mental and doing fucking mad stuff. That’s what I kinda try to go towards now, especially on the lyrical side, definitely.
NICK: Certainly with doom as well, it is particularly miserable music, and I think a lot of the time… me personally, I dunno, correct me if I’m wrong Gaz, but I think lyrically it’s all metaphors for stuff that is perhaps experienced.
GAZ: Yeah, absolutely.
NICK: You got the blatancy of Born Too Late and Dying Inside, y’know, it’s about getting the piss taken out of you for being who you are and being a chronic alchi and stuff like that. But some of the stories that Gaz is telling I sometimes think, I know what’s going on in his life and stuff, and I think he’s drawing on that experience and put it into a story, and people will look at that – as with any doom lyrics – they’ll pull their own interpretation out of it.

People can relate.

GAZ: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
NICK: That’s what I do with fucking songs, I mean, Lord Vicar wrote a song called Endless November and it’s the most sorrowful fucking song in the world.
GAZ: One of my favourite songs by them I think.
NICK: Yeah! It’s just an acoustic number they did and listening to it back, its like, that fucked me up. I got really drunk and tearful one night, and Gaz is the same.
GAZ: I don’t want to get too morbid on it, but my old man passed away when that album came out and I remember that song really hit a chord with me, y’know? Lyrically and the atmosphere of the whole thing… things like that, I think, in doom, there’s so much emotion in it. It can touch you man.
NICK: Music in general, everybody’s got a favourite song for a sneaky little reason – it’s not just a riff where you’re like “WHEY” and banging your head like a nutter to Slayer or Morbid Angel or whatever. But there’s something there just grabs you and that is what drew me to listening to all this stuff, and the fact that I get to play this and make it all up as well is really cool, certainly with the level of people I’m with as well… I mean fucking hell, the guys I’m a band with, amazing. Me and Roland knock riffs off of each other: I’ll play a riff and he’ll say, ‘yeah, that’s quite good’, and I’m like, nod of approval, ‘yay, I like that, wicked!’; then he’ll play something and I’ll be like, ‘fuck’. Then we tie them into the new stuff and it’s amazing, y’know. It’s such a pleasure to bounce ideas off of everybody and have this situation…
GAZ: Yeah, this is the easiest band I’ve ever been in. [Laughs] There’s never any conflict or anything.
NICK: We’ve all been there and done it, we’ve experienced it.
GAZ: We sometimes bang heads over certain riffs and what have you but generally we’re all in it for the greater good.
NICK: There for the craic and the craic’s good.
GAZ: Exactly.
NICK: We all like a beverage and a laugh… and we’re very silly. [Laughs] The most silly, idiot doom band ever. We’re not My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost, just walk around moping, we’re actually quite up-beat and take the piss out of everybody and ourselves all the time.

That’s kinda what I think: Eyehategod are quite heavy and doomy, but at the same time, they have riffs you just want to get drunk to.

GAZ: Absolutely, absolutely.
NICK: It fires you up, yeah.
GAZ: Definitely, definitely man.
NICK: I love that.

Those are the best riffs!

GAZ: Yeah, the riffs just make you wanna sit there and drink yourself into oblivion are kinda the best riffs I think. [Laughs]
NICK: Pretty much, yeah. Or you just slap it on in the car and put your foot down and drive into a bridge or something for a laugh.
GAZ: Or make you want to slow down to a complete stop and just fuck everyone else off. [Laughs]
NICK: Yeah, I guess you could do that! [Laughs] Yeah, put You Suffer from Napalm Death – WURGH! – just slam your brakes on right in the middle of rush hour traffic… doesn’t make any sense, but you know, anyway… [Laughs]

Serpent Venom

2013 is going to be a big year for doom metal because of the return of Black Sabbath and the new album. Are you excited or nervous about the new album? I noticed you’re [Nick] wearing a “No Bill! No Sabbath!” shirt.

NICK: I think… yes, I was wearing that because I really think they should have sorted the fucking… whatever’s behind the scenes is driving them, it sounds so financial, it’s unreal; ‘Well, y’know you’re not writing riffs so you’re getting less’, so the whole percentages thing… whatever disagreements they have over that, I think they’ve been through too much, as friends.

They’ve been together their whole lives.

NICK: In and out. Remember when they got together and they just banged music because they wanted to? Forget all of the fucking money and the accolades, this, that and the other: you’re the biggest rock band in the history, invented heavy metal and invented a whole new fucking genre with doom. Remember you are four friends; just get over that shit and play, because you’re friends. So yeah, it’s a shame. The album’s gonna turn out and sound nice, I mean for fuck’s sake, who’s playing on it!
GAZ: Yeah, I’m sure it will be great.
NICK: Three out of four ain’t fucking bad. [Tony] Iommi’s the king of riffs. Oz[zy] might not have the same voice, when you think of the 80s, but give him a fucking chance. I’ve softened my attitude a little bit, well, it’s not going to be shit, is it? They’re gonna make sure it’s not shit, and the production is not going to be shit either, but… I would like to have his [Bill Ward] name on there just because I’m a silly fanboy dick, y’know.

Well, he was one of the original members.

NICK: Of course. Y’know, he had that jazz foot thing going on with his drumming, that slight swing where it’s not really swinging, the band used to thrive on it immensely, y’know, obviously… that, to me, was is the Sabbath stuff – sure, I loved the Dio stuff as well, a new era, and he’s my favourite singer of all time – but when you have that announcement, 11/11/11, Sabbath are back together, you think ‘fuck, they’re gonna give it one’. And certainly with Iommi’s health the way it is, it’s all up in the air, it’s all a big secret as to how he’s getting on. The swansong of that band in their later years, or their autumn years, as a band, it should be all four of them, for me. I don’t know. It’s very selfish, but I’m allowed to be a little bit selfish I suppose.
GAZ: We were talking about it on the way up in the van, about that…
NICK: It’s a shame. But they’re not gonna get anyone older in, are they? They’re gonna get somebody that suits them and where they are musically now. So… I’m looking forward to hearing it, but there’s a small evil part of me looking forward to saying, ‘Ha! It’s not Bill’, y’know.

It’s not the complete thing.

NICK: It doesn’t matter, they’re complete fucking legends and they can do what the fuck they like, y’know, I’ll still lap it up. A lot of albums people don’t necessarily like, that Sabbath have produced, I still like, because I’m a complete fanboy dick. Y’know, they can’t do wrong as far as I’m concerned, y’know… any more than some silly Metallica fan will love “St. Anger” because ‘IT’S METALLICA WHO DID IT’; even though it’s the biggest pile of shit in the world. Well… they topped that with “Lulu” didn’t they?

Yeah, they really set the bar on that one…

NICK: [Laughs] Massively.
GAZ: [Laughs] Massively.

Well, who else are you excited to see? Obviously Saint Vitus, Candlemass…

GAZ: We’ve literally not been here long, we got here – we were driving up from London – just before Undersmile went on, so saw them.  We kinda clashed with Angel Witch, which I kinda would have like to see, but it’s a bit, you know…  I guess it would be Candlemass and Saint Vitus really! [Laughs] Because we haven’t had any time.
NICK: Again, Angel Witch, going back to the friend thing, it was bloody Will [Palmer] and Bill [Steer], alright fellas! [Laughs]
GAZ: Couple of our mates in there, so it would have been nice but it’s one of those things, you know… we’ve been running to and forth, we haven’t really been here. I’m not sure if Napalm Death have played yet?

No, they’re the last band because Sodom got moved earlier.

GAZ: I’m looking forward to seeing them then, yeah.
NICK: Fuck yeah, man. We’ll go see the legends we want to see.
GAZ: I’ve not seen them for a few years.
NICK: We’ll see whatever really.

Just wander through…

NICK: Yeah.
GAZ: I’m a bit gutted that Sodom were clashing with us as well.
NICK: They were meant to be on quite late, weren’t they?
GAZ: I was like, it’ll be 4 o’clock in the morning and we can have a few beers with them, but…
NICK: Or we’d probably just wave our hands at them while laying on the floor, arseholed. Just, ‘Whey! Sodom!’
GAZ: Safe.
NICK: Yeah, well… we’ll probably still scream that anyway… Yeah, Napalm Death, certainly. I’m a bit gutted that I missed Enslaved the other day because we were playing last night in London – I would love to see them. I like extreme metal anyway.
GAZ: Lifer yesterday…
NICK: Oh god, yeah! Just look at the line-up, it’s bizarre… that we’re sorta playing it. [Laughs]
GAZ: It’s a bit weird, ain’t it!

Just sinking in now then?

NICK: Yeah! Well, we’ve finished now so we can just go and relax and got nothing to do but get pissed and have a laugh.

That’s cool! Well, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans, in Wales or whatever?

NICK: Oh yeah, we’d like to come here and play!
GAZ: Yeah, definitely!
NICK: If there’s like some promoters that are interested in doom stuff for some venues, you can have us, get in contact, yeah.
GAZ: Anyone who’s happy to watch us, we’re more than happy to jump in the van and come up, absolutely.
NICK: Do a string of dates. We mainly manage ourselves pretty much anyway – we do a bit with Future Noise and stuff – so get in contact with us, our email is quite easily available. We’d love to come and do some doom gigs with some local bands or bring some friends with us, like Conan and stuff. We can always sort it out.
GAZ: Earls Of Mars as well, I’d like to mention them.
NICK: Oh man! Absolutely!
GAZ: Have you heard them?

No, I haven’t.

GAZ: Earls Of Mars, crazy, but probably one of the best bands I’ve seen and heard in a long time.
NICK: If you get a load of horror DVDs and epileptics and nutters, and stick them all in a washing machine, that’s kind of what you’ll get onstage. They are mental.
GAZ: Yeah.

I’ll have to check them out.

NICK: Definitely worth it; stunningly well live. It’s nice to have a mixed bill where you get a bit of everything, I think.

That’s what’s great about this festival, you get those different types.

GAZ: Exactly. I think sometimes when you get a bill where every band sounds the same, it can be a little tedious. Sometimes you need a bit of diversity. A band you’ve maybe never heard before or a band you’ve never been fussed about before, then you see them live and it’s like, ‘fucking hell’. That’s what you want, definitely.
NICK: I think we find that all the time with everyone we play with really, we’re always pleasantly surprised with the bands we end up on bills with. Christ, the level of fucking playing is unbelievable in the underground, everyone’s just giving it their all, all their guns, ‘This is us! Let’s do it!’. You can’t get better than that, and that’s why particularly the scene we’re involved in and particulatly the bands we play with, they’re all…
GAZ: Very strong at the moment, very strong.
NICK: It’s immensely strong and it’s well up there with the rest of the world, isn’t it?
GAZ: It’s a pleasure to be a part of it. Definitely.

Well, it was nice talking to you guys.

GAZ: Well, thank you, thanks for taking the time!
NICK:  Thank you!

Serpent Venom‘s debut album, “Carnal Altar”, is out now on The Church Within Records.

Interview by RichReviewz

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Winterfylleth Interview: “If you want to look at people wearing corpse paint, then don’t come watch a Winterfylleth show.”


Winterfylleth

In recent years, black metal has seen a popular renewal in the UK, and one of the many bands pushing its harsh sound is Manchester’s Winterfylleth – mixing a progressive black metal sound with heavy folk vibes, thus creating a unique and refined brand of BM. Before the band hit the stage at Hammerfest V, I managed to talk to Chris Naughton about influences, corpsepaint and remembering your roots…

First of all, would you like to introduce yourself and say what you do in Winterfylleth?

Sure, it’s Chris Naughton and I play guitar and do lead vocals in Winterfylleth.

So, have you played Hammerfest before?

No, never played Hammerfest before, played other festivals but never had the chance to come to this festival… so looking forward to having the opportunity to play next to Burger King, that’s a life-time ambition achieved right there, I think [laughs]. We played this ATP festival a couple of years ago, similar kind of set up to this, kind of holiday park. It sounds a sorta bit bent at first, doesn’t it? But it’s quite a nice thing when you get here, like there’s food for everybody – catering facilities and great big venues – and everybody gets to stay in a nice shack every night, so it’s good [laughs].

I know you’re touring with Enslaved, and you’ve only just arrived here, but I was wondering if there was anybody you’re looking forward to seeing tonight?

Erm… not really. I mean, we’ve missed all the bands we wanted to see today and we’re also touring with Ancient Ascendant; they’re great, we saw them last night. I was looking forward to seeing Enslaved again but we got here late and it’s been a bit of a mess about. Nobody else really, all the stuff I wanna see is on tomorrow. The bands – for me, today – is not what I want to watch, so…

Who would you like to see tomorrow, if you had the opportunity?

I’d like to see Candlemass, Napalm [Death], Saint Vitus, Angel Witch, all that sorta stuff – it’s much more what we’re up for. But it’s good to be here and it’s good to play alongside Enslaved again and just some of the smaller bands – we’re quite good friends with this band called Triaxis from South Wales, I wanted to catch them but we arrived hours after they finished, so… it’s been a messy day, so y’know… I just wanna get drunk [laughs].

They [Triaxis] had a good reaction though!

Yeah, they’re a good band! They recorded with this guy called Chris Fielding, who we record with, and he’s produced an album for them, and they’re starting to get an influence that’s absolutely positive for them, y’know, quite DIY roots, building a name of their own and they’ve not had the support of a label up to this point, so they’re getting their name out there and playing lots of shows, doing really well for themselves. It’s great to see people still do that and get to this level.

Especially in this digital age.

Yeah, completely. I think there’s too many folks downloading and all that sort of stuff… it does my head in man, but like, it is what it is and you have to adapt to it. A lot of people buy t-shirts these days rather than buying CDs, so that’s how bands make their money.

Vinyl’s making a comeback too.

I think so, yeah.

Winterfylleth

I noticed on your official website that you describe yourselves as “English Heritage Black Metal”, I was just wondering what that might specifically entail, musically or lyrically.

Well, I think it started as a kind of like a buzzy term really to sort of say we aren’t Norwegian black metal, that we aren’t Scandinavian or we aren’t USBM [United States Black Metal] or whatever. I think we’ve always wanted to… yeah, we all love black metal, but we’ve always wanted to do something that was our own. I’m not suggesting we’re reinventing the wheel because we’re not, it’s a black metal band, we’ve done songs in the spirit of that sort of stuff. I just think we try to put a uniquely, hopefully, English twist and talk about, well, stories of England and the British Isles and stuff that matters to us. Actually, y’know, the front cover of our new album is probably taken nearer to here than anywhere else, up in Snowdonia… so, it’s not specifically just about England but the British Isles and our collective history as a sort of… lump of land [laughs].

Yeah, there’s a lot of Celtic…

Of course, yeah. I think we haven’t delved into all that sort of stuff maybe as much, but y’know, we’re only three albums into our tenure as a band.

The fourth album is still yet to come.

Yeah, the third album has only just been out, whatever it is now… four or five months? We’re still kind of getting it out there and touring that; that’s why we’re touring with Enslaved and its come at the right time for us. So yeah, fantastic for us to be able to come out here and play some new songs for people and hopefully a few older ones and see a few heads banging.

Play the classics.

Well, do we have classics songs yet? I don’t think so.

Maybe, give it another year.

[Laughs]

Well, related to that question: is there anyone else you consider to be in the same vein as what you’re trying to do? I know you’re good friends with Wodensthrone…

That’s right, yeah. Erm… there’s bands in a similar vein. I think the British, English, UK and Ireland scene at the moment is really kind of fruitful, there’s lots and lots of great bands coming out on the scene. I think everyone’s kind of coming from a similar perspective but everyone’s got their own take on it. We’re friends with quite a few of the great bands coming out of England, so y’know, Wodensthrone obviously, as you mentioned, they’re a little more Pagan, kinda bit more specific with their themes as opposed to like A Forest Of Stars, who are a bit more about the Victoriana and the occult, trance-mediums and bit more kind of obscure. Then you’ve got bands like Fen, a bit more Earth and nature, and then bands like Cnoc An Tursa from Scotland who are more about Scottish history, poetry, heritage, all that kind of stuff. So there’s this vein of bands coming out of England which are really great and got a similar vibe. I suppose maybe what we do differently – although I can’t speak for those other bands – but what we’ve tried to do with our stuff is mention the history and heritage that we think are interesting but also to link them to, I dunno, having a social undercurrent, I suppose, and stuff that actually resonates with people and means something other than singing about beer and losing your girlfriend and “eee-yeeer”… That’s fine, but it’s not what we want to do, we want to do something a bit more sincere and a bit more meaningful, so I think a lot of the English bands – Irish bands as well, like Alter Plagues and all that sort of stuff – there’s a real kind of sincerity and uniqueness about what they’re all doing, and it all stems from their relationship with where they’re from, their culture, their stories as opposed to trying to be a Norwegian band from England, you know what I mean, trying to sing songs about satan. It’s taking things on one step, maybe, and making it into something that’s relevant to us and not a parody of what lots of other bands have done before – content-wise at least. I’m sure there’s musical crossovers, but you know…

That kind of leads to another thing I was wondering about with Norwegian black metal: they’re heavy on the make-up, spikes and the leather, I was wondering because you don’t look like you play black metal, you’re quite casual in comparison to the Norwegian black metallers. What are your thoughts on the whole make-up and that stuff?

Well, I mean… from my perspective, I think that those guys created that look and that emotion and those sort of visuals as a reaction to their scene, to their social or musical or political or whatever kind of struggles they were going through at the time, and rebelling against death metal and all that sorta stuff… looking at the dead, and they were creating something new from it. I think it’s been done to death a lot, and I think for us to try and create something and pen it as English black metal, it makes no sense to me to parody early-90s black metal when we are [a] 2013 English black metal and we’re writing songs about our own experience, our own social/political problems, our own…

Environment?

Environment, heritage, yeah… our own stories. It didn’t make sense to us to panda-up. I think that was their reaction to their situation; I think ours was to be a bit more… I dunno. It’s less visual image in that sense to me, I think the music is supposed to speak for itself: we dress quite plain onstage, jeans and black shirts, ‘cause it’s not about ‘Oh, they look evil and they’re wearing spikes’, because our music isn’t necessarily about being evil, it’s about challenging peoples thought processes and making people think differently about social situations or social pressures. So for us to dress up like Norwegians from the 90s it doesn’t make sense to me, that’s why we stay clear of it. I don’t necessarily hate other bands doing it but y’know… we aren’t singing about satan, we’re not evil. We’re people who care about who we are, where we’re from and our environment and macro-political stuff that’s affecting everybody and I think there’s lots of apathy within people; and think that if you don’t have somebody who’s prepared or willing to sort of say stuff to challenge peoples’ opinions that perhaps we have and hopefully continue to do through the stuff that we write, then why are you doing it? There’s lots and lots of metal bands that do it for the wrong reasons and just want to be in a band as opposed to having something to say and I think it’s really important to have something to say.

I guess the image distracts from the message a little bit.

I suppose, but you know, it’s not something that’s ever been super important to me. I think when you look at other bands like Enslaved, [they] don’t really have an ‘image’, they’re just guys in plain shirts and jeans who play amazing emotional music and has a real atmosphere to it that a lot of bands can’t create; and I hope we try and do something in our own way that’s similar to that. So, if you want to look at people wearing corpse paint, then don’t come watch a Winterfylleth show. If you want to hear music that’s atmospheric and hopefully affects you, then absolutely come and see Winterfylleth. That’s what we’re trying to do, so that’s why we don’t wear corpsepaint.

Winterfylleth

Another thing I was wondering about: You can hear a lot of influences outside of black metal, like in Mam Tor there’s quite a thrashy intro, I thought anyway, and you have an acoustic sets in your music, and sometimes doomy as well. What are your biggest influences outside of black metal?

Well, I can only really speak for me, obviously the other guys have got quite a wide spectrum of musical interests, but at the heart of it all we’re all just fans of extreme metal. Death, black and doom… I’m a big fan of ambient and drone and stuff like that, easy sort of stuff. One of my close friends runs Coldspring Records, sort of noisy-ambient-doom, weird black ambient – there is loads of stuff with bands like Inade, Sleep Research Facility, Merzbow, Zorn, Z’ev and stuff like that. I think, for me, that’s where a lot of my influences come from. Doomy-wise, we were in a doom band before we started Winterfylleth, in Atavist – we did five or six releases with that, I suppose some of that crept in a bit in the early days when we were finding our way with what Winterfylleth. We all love stuff from the whole spectrum of doom, from guys like Saint Vitus right through to the extremes of Evoken or Indesinence or like Esoteric, and stuff inbetween. I suppose in that sense we’ve got a broad range of metal that we draw on, I mean, it tends to be in the more extreme realms of things, more kind of… I dunno, underground maybe? But we’ve still got love for the things like Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Judas Priest

You can’t forget the classics.

Yeah, I think if you do then you forget what these guys are doing. Like you hear these kids talking, going, “Oh, if only Black Sabbath recorded with modern production”, and you’re like… I know what you’re trying to say, you wanted to sound really punchy and massive, but you have to understand that these guys were paving the way…

It was modern back then!

Yeah, exactly!  And try judging [after] having heard the latest Metallica album. These guys are the forefathers of it and you have to appreciate where it comes from and how you’ve got to where you are now from there.

They are the band that created “Kill ‘Em All”, so…

Yeah, exactly.

I heard that you hold down regular jobs as well as being in the band, I was just wondering if it’s safe to say what you do, or is it all secret?

It’s not secret, but it’s not important either, what we do… I dunno, I heard a great interview that Alan Averill from Primordial gave once, just sort of saying, do I really need to know that Ted from Darkthrone is a postman? No. All you need to know is that when the four of us come together outside our regular lives – we’re Winterfylleth and we bring the music that you hopefully love on the records and that’s why you stand in front of us, y’know. I don’t think many bands can make it in the modern world without having worked, so… yeah, we do work.

Yeah, Darkthrone hold down regular jobs.

Yeah, exactly, I think a lot of bands do. I think you have to. It is what it is, but I think we spend so much time thinking about this band that it’s almost the thing we love to do outside the need to eat and have a roof over your head and all that sort of stuff.

You recorded the last album in Wales; was that a joint decision by you all and how was that experience with recording?

Well, we recorded our last three releases in Wales actually, in a place called Foel Studios. It’s great, it’s done by Dave Anderson who used to be in Hawkwind and The Groundhogs and also Amon Duul II, there’s a real heritage in Dave, he bought the studio in the 70s, it’s in a place called Llanfair Caereinion – if you put a pin prick in the middle of Wales, in the middle of all the fields, it’s basically there. It’s like a 30-minute drive from the nearest shop, it’s great. He’s converted this old, massive barn outside it and two big properties that he owns, the studio’s all in there… lots of bands have recorded there, Napalm [Death], all that sort of stuff. The engineer Chris, really, was why we went there. We were quite friendly with this band Ingested from Manchester, quite slammy-death stuff, a couple of them used to be in Annotations Of An Autopsy – not music we’re necessarily or particularly love, but you know, they’re a great set of lads and they had a really good experience recording with Chris, so we fancied having a go with Chris. We started working with him and became really close friends, don’t think we trust anyone else to get the essence of what our albums sound like. It’s difficult, when you find someone you love working with it’s very difficult to try somebody else because…

… to go away from that.

Yeah, I suppose it’s the element of maybe getting a slightly different sound for the next record or doing something else and moving forward, but Chris captures this sort of organic, flowing – I use the word loosely – spiritual element we have to the albums.

It does show on the albums.

We’re really happy with that, that’s why we keep going there, because he’s the engineer there. He’s moved studios now, started his own studio, so it might be that we’ll follow him to his new place in the future.

So we can expect the new Winterfylleth there then?

Yeah, well we’ve already written about half of it, and we’ve recorded an EP that’s coming out inbetween on Seasons Of Mist, a split with… well, it’s like a folk compilation so we’ve done three folk songs. Its traditional English folk songs, done our own style, and one of the guys from the Ukrainian band Drudkh – he’s organised it. It’s gonna feature bands like Kampfar, I think Sólstafir are doing it, I’m not 100% though. A big compilation of like six or seven bands doing their own versions of folk songs from their own countries, and coming out at some point this year whenever everyone gets together with it and then we’ll start writing what will become the fourth album.

Yeah, well, that was my next question to be honest.

Yes, there will be a fourth album.

There will be a fourth album then, that’s good! Well, that’s pretty much it really, it was nice talking to you.

Thank you, you too.


Winterfylleth
‘s latest album, “The Threnody of Triumph”, is out now on Candlelight Records.

Interview by RichReviewz.

Album Review: Pissed Jeans ‘Honeys’


Pissed Jeans – Honeys
Genre: Noise Rock/Punk

Label: Sub-Pop

Pissed Jeans are a band whose sound is as dirty and self-depreciating as their name, and lash out a ridiculously even drunker and disorderly version of punk that can be traced back to The Jesus Lizard. Despite the noisy nature of their music, Pissed Jeans manage to fuse a good dose of catchiness into their sound. “Honeys” is their fourth album and their third on the legendary Sub Pop label.

The Pennsylvanian quartet have been around for nine years now and have released an incredibly impressive collection of albums so far, especially with their addictive last release “King Of Jeans”. However, there’s a change that becomes abundantly clear on “Honeys” within the first few tracks; the dry sarcastic and dire commentary that was signature to their sound has warped into a more seething and more dangerous level aggression. The band are still easily identifiable, this is not a big change, you’re not not going to recognise this as a Pissed Jeans album, but it does feel a more daring and angsty then previous efforts, which becomes clear with the first track alone.

Bathroom Laughter is an absolute drunken battering ram with it’s rumbling bass and opening drum roll, just before the vocals and guitars join in on the punk goodness. The track just brings forward a side you don’t often see with Pissed Jeans; there’s no sense of parody or joking cynicism but straight-up muddy punk aggression. The second track, Chain Worker, sort of follows suit but let’s up by slowing the tempo down to a hangover inspiring pace. Plus, the track is basically driven by vocals and bass alone for the most part while backed with fizzying feedback. Drums come in only on slamming injections like a fist banging on a table during a heated argument, which adds to the complete poisonous feel of the track, along with lines like “”My chain provides me with safety / So it always knows where I am”.

However, the ending of Chain Worker morphs into Romanticize Me, which sounds like the usual Pissed Jeans with a particularly strong Iggy Pop vibe with its playfulness. Their’ usual sarcasm returns with lines like “So you waited wondering when I’d wake up / When it comes to sleeping I’m a talented man” and the chorus “Take all my faults and twist them in your hand / ‘Til I look like a sweet and thoughtful man / Ro-man-tuh-cize me”, which just inspires you to pull some snotty David Yow moves.

Vain In Costume ups the ante further by pushing the pace faster and an overall catchier sound, especially with the jumpy verse riff.  Simply put, it would fit in perfectly on “King Of Jeans”. You’re Different (In Person) is full of frustration and disgust, sounding like a bad turn in a night full of alcohol, especially with the gravelly moaned vocals during the frothing build-up sections. Aside from the chorus “You’re different in person / I’m different in person”, the track does prove a little forgettable.

Perhaps the downright funniest track of the album is Cafeteria Food, which is just a ridiculously dryly delivered monologue of an office workers despise for his project manager and a broker, and his joy in hearing of their deaths. The lyrics are just jaw-droppingly cruel with the likes of “One day I’ll get a message waiting at my desk / I’ll take the time to open it and feel it remove my stress / People walkin’ round looking sorry / Someone even cried / I’ll be feeling rosy / Because you’re dead, you died”. It’s just so monotonely delivered with the vocals and lazily-strummed guitar and bass, you can’t just help burst out in laughter at how brutally honest and common these feelings probably are in urban workplaces.

Something About Mrs. Johnson is simply a noisey interlude with a demo-sounding riff played going through effects, as well as some Lightning Bolt-esque distorted vocals of ramblings and la-la-las. Male Gaze, like You’re Different, is slightly forgettable and never really brings a catchy or infectious moment through it’s acidic attitude – it feels like something is about to come at you through the whole song but never really steps forward at the opportunity. Cathouse tests the water more, providing a more memorable riff, but again feels slightly ‘filler’ in comparison to some of the earlier tracks, but does feature a pretty neat (and short) guitar solo.

Loubs has, dare I say it, a Queens Of The Stone Age feel with its mid-paced grooving feel: even vocalist Matt Korvette sounds borderline sleazy (with a touch of nonchalant satire) in delivery as well as lyrically. It’s also the longest song at 4.51 minutes long, and does feel it – not in a negative way; but in comparison with the rest of the album rarely reaching 3 minutes, it’s pretty lengthy. Health Plan kicks some spark back into the album with an adrenaline rush of relentless drums and fast guitars, while humorous lines like “Yeah, that’s why I don’t do it / I stay away from doctors / No I’m serious man, I’m not an idiot / I stay away from doctors” being barked at you, it’s just completely entertaining.

Closing track Teenage Adult just falls short of the 4-minute mark and just contains a guitar riff that would, in form of a human face, be the drunken, snarling image of Russell Crowe. The band just pound on at a sluggish pace while Matt does his signature snarling vocals… which is just about it for the track, feeling like a slight let-down as an album finisher.

That said, “Honeys” is a solid release. Perhaps it’s not as fulfilling all-round as “King Of Jeans” was, but it’s still pretty decent. The portion of humour that has always existed in Pissed Jeans’ music has definitely decreased as a result of the bitterness and envy in their sound being more prominent, but the album has its noise-punk bangers. While some tracks can be considered fillers, there’s still plenty that hook you in with a catchy riff and melody or with simply humorous lyrics. Pissed Jeans fans should have no problems with this.

7/10
Favourite tracks: Cafeteria FoodBathroom LaughterRomanticize Me.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Live Review: Deftones – 19th February 2013 @ O2 Academy, Birmingham


It’s hard to believe that it’s been around three years since Deftones last graced the UK with a tour (rather than lone festival appearances) and judging by the eager queue that forms outside the O2 Academy in Birmingham on that very cold night, it’s been long awaited by many fans.

The mixed crowd alone says a lot about Deftones: 40-year-old punks, young couples folded around each other, long-haired metal fans, a few indie kids sprinkled here and there – all show how diverse the Deftones crowd is and proves that the band doesn’t cater to any one stereotype alone. So then it’s no surprise that the support acts for the night represent the band’s range in both musical styles and tastes.

First up was London’s Three Trapped Tigers; a synth-heavy post-rock band who rely more on electronics than the regular band set-up, and are made up by Tom Rogerson on keyboards and vocals, Matt Calvert on guitar and synths/electronics and Adam Betts on drums. As the trio cover so much ground between them instrumentally, it became clear that they were practically glued to their positions because of it. Although completely understandable, it just didn’t bring the potentially excitable atmosphere as their music indicated at times, which was a shame. In fact, it was perhaps drummer Betts who was the most entertaining due to his frantic flurries during the up-tempo phases. While the set was enjoyable, it didn’t really leave much of an impact personally, yet it seemed that I was alone due to the positive cheers they had between songs.

Next up was California’s post-hardcore outfit letlive. If you’ve been paying any sort of attention to the band over the last year or two, you’ll know that letlive. have whipped up a dedicated cult-like following in the underground via their energetic and highly talked about shows – so much so that the band seem to be nearing mainstream success for it. Any negative connotations you might apply to that sentence would be ill-set however, because letlive. aren’t Mumford & Sons; but a raging beast frothing at the mouth for a feast.

‘Tired’ doesn’t seem to run in Jason Butler’s vocabulary as the frontman pounces across the stage, arms swinging, and apt to leave the microphone in his mouth as he screams to the ceiling. Guitarists Jeff Sahyoun and Jean Nascimento, along with bassist Ryan Johnson, aren’t far behind as they swing their axes while jumping around the stage without missing a note. The band proved that they were right for this tour and probably bagged themselves a bigger fanbase in Birmingham, which is well deserved after the performance they gave.

Finally, after several chants of increasing impatience and thirst, Deftones humbly straddled onstage to a roar of gleeful cheers and wasted little time before hammering into Diamond Eyes, the crowd instantly turning into one big a shuffling battlefield. Chino’s vocals held up remarkably well between the cleans and screams and the whole band were precise and executed it well, which went for the whole set.

The crowd was, to put it bluntly, fucking crazy throughout and only let up a little during the softer moments in the set (which were gifts after being almost crushed on more than one occasion) where the crowd sang in unison instead; which felt magical with the lightshow flowing over us. Chino was pretty fun inbetween songs too, casually interacting with the crowd and the rest of the band (particularly with bassist Sergio Vega, who had his name chanted a few times and looked like he was in his natural environment onstage). The band just seemed at their happiest and closest at this point in their history.

And despite supporting their latest release, “Koi No Yokan”, they only played a couple of tracks from the album (a ‘couple’ being Poltergeist, RosemaryEntombedTempest and Swerve City) and featured a larger number of fan favourites from other albums: “White Pony” made its appearance through PassengerChange (In The House Of Flies)Feiticeira; “Around The Fur” with Dai The Flu (dedicated to original bassist Chi Cheung), My Own Summer (Shove It), Headup and Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away); “Diamond Eyes” via SextapeRocket Skates and CMND/CTRL; the self-titled with Bloody Cape; and “Adrenaline” with Engine No.9 and 7 Words as the encore – the latter of the two being especially brutal to witness.

Needless to say (and unsurprisingly) Deftones killed it and gave more than what the ticket price was worth. By the amount of grinning, sweaty faces I saw once the lights came back on, I think you’d be lucky to find anyone who’d disagree.

Simply unmissable.

Review by Rich Reviewz

Grammy Nominations – The Expected and the Unexpected


The nominations for the 2013 Grammy Awards are officially in, and although most of the names on the various lists were already seen as shoe-ins, there were a few surprises here and there.  Taylor Swift and LL Cool J delivered the news via a series of awkwardly staged dialogues, but in the end we got the information we needed… though some of it was better news than others.

Perhaps no one was surprised that Justin Bieber didn’t get any nominations – no one but his manager, that is.  Scooter Braun took to Twitter after the ceremony was over, saying that he felt his client deserved to be recognized, and that he thought the Grammy board “blew it on this one.”

Nicki Minaj was likely also shocked that her album didn’t get any Grammy love this year.  It was a huge commercial success and full of catchy singles, but for some reason it just didn’t grab the attention of the voting committee.

Some, though, have commented that the exclusion of the darlings of cheap radio pop indicates that the music industry is finally waking up and seeing where the real talent is.  The nominee lists in many of the categories were rock– and alternative-heavy, with a strong leaning toward the folk and Americana side of the spectrum.  Gotye, Ed Sheeran, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Jack White all got nominations, and even Bjork managed to pick up a nod in the Alternative Music category.

Others, however, raked in nomination after nomination.  Six seemed to be the number of the night, with Frank Ocean, Fun. Mumford & Sons, Jay-Z, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, and Kanye West all pulling in six nominations each.  Fun. seemed particularly surprised by their success, even though they were told ahead of time that they were strong favorites to get nominated in several categories.  They weren’t sure whether to believe the hype, so they stopped listening to any rumors about the Grammys weeks ago, and described their reaction to the news as “emotional.”

Of course those who were surprised by the nominations should know by now that this is only the beginning – the 2013 Grammy Awards will air on February 10, and there are sure to be some upsets and triumphs on the night.