Friday 25 February 2011

MASSEMORD – Sworn to the Black

From the depths of Poland’s Silesia comes the black metal bastard of Massemord. A band of attitude and nonconformism. Their two heavy strikes of albums – “Let the World Burn” (2007) and “The Whore of Hate” (2008) – chopped off the ears and carved out the eyes in a hyperblasting fashion of brutality. Their latest offering, released in late 2010, „The Madness Tongue Devouring Juices of Livid Hope” is a monstrous slab of drug overdose, hypnotic tempos and nihilism. Vocalist Namtar answered the questions about Massemord as well Furia, those black metal primitives whose line-up consists of four fifths of Massemord.

Your latest album „The Madness Tongue Devouring Juices of Livid Hope” is one 35-minute-long track. Is it a form of rejection of metal clichés and routines?
I didn't know there were any routines in metal. Maybe that's because I always liked „Deathcrush” and „Filosofem” at the same time. We don't do anything just for sake of it. We didn't want to piss off people on purpose. The form of the latest album came out naturally and it didn't take us a great deal of time to make it what it is. Our guitarist Nihil came up with the idea and we were blown away. The first listening was overwhelming. People see it as a manifesto, as a sort of provocation but it was only our state of mind in 2010. Our e-fans on the internet say that now it's hard to predict what we're going to do on the next album. No comment.
How did you manage not to play a single blast beat in more than half an hour?
Priest our drummer recorded the whole thing playing with just one hand. We had to cuff the other one to the radiator, so you can hear on the album that he’s fighting with it. There was a bet. He lost it so he had to accept the fact that he wouldn’t be showing off on this one. To give him some extra shit we fucked up the sound of his drums on purpose.

Have you already played „The Madness Tongue...” live in its entirety?
We're thinking about it but we're not sure that the world is ready yet. And there really aren’t enough drugs going around at the moment to take such a show, and even if we had the right resources we would probably use them ourselves and get fucked up to death.

Could you summarize Massemord's and Furia's 2010?
We were mainly under the influence of Basshunter last year. I think we didn't meet expectations with both bands, since we recorded stuff people hardly accepted. We gave blast beats a miss this time. The most sophisticated technique wasn't our goal either. We skipped the promo photo sessions again. The rest remained the same, just another year closer to death.

Can you actually speak about any sort of success in terms of such extreme bands as Massemord or Furia?
It's not up to me to estimate that. I don't really know what success means. Is it a couple of thousands of albums sold or listens on Those figures are an abstraction. If you check how many people come to our shows, our popularity is somehow countable but the result is pretty shitty. Success to me is artistic freedom. We don't give a toss about anything. We only care about what we want to do.

Does black metal allow that artistic freedom? Did you ever say during rehearsal: „this bit is not black metal enough, let's forget it”?
We have never done such a thing. It doesn't matter to us if our music isn't what black metal people generally expect. We don't lose any sleep over that. Anything we do, it's always going to be black metal. We're the apostles of the new religion, which is overcoming the limits and weaknesses of the social norms, standards and conventions that make us what we are. We have defined the barriers of what we do and it's a sort of our quasi-ideology.

Do you care about reviews and the press? Do you feel misunderstood?
We feel that constantly. We don't need to read any reviews to feel it. We have created a vehicle, which is going very fast and no one is able to keep up with us. It's sometimes even hard for us. We're chasing each other because we tend to easily go off and depart into absurdity. We are usually seen as icons or bored artists, but we don't care about any of that.

Massemord is almost ten years old. Are you slowly coming to an end with it?
Well, Massemord was formed around 2002, that was a big break, we got enlightened. Nihil had most of the rotten ideas in his head and they exploded. Everything we do is spontaneous and we don't store music. We write, play and record on the spot. It's all in the moment. We might be doing it until we shit ourselves or die.

Being a metal-head in conservative, catholic Poland was always tough. Did it change in the last ten years?
Fuck the metal-heads. I don't give a fuck about that. We tend not to be associated with any group or sub-culture since we don't identify with them. Metal-heads say one should be against the dogmas and the preaching of the priesthood, but look how serious and important it is for them to maintain the metal dress-code. It's ridiculous. If you stand for individuality, just be yourself – that's it. To make it clear: I'm for individualism but not for the tolerance of somebody else's individualism [laughing].

Gene Hoglan said drumming is mainly a mental, not a physical activity. How are you doing behind the drums in Furia?
I think he could use some physical exercises because his figure looks grotesque behind the drum set. Which doesn't change the fact that his skills rule and, compared to him, I'm only an average craftsman, a vocalist who was trying to kill time when the guitarists were boring me to death writing riffs. That was a couple of years ago and I'm still making a little progress from time to time. My drumming is quite shitty, so for me it's still 100% physical. It's a pleasant struggle against the weakness of my body.

It seems that Darkthrone are doing everything to put off as many listeners as possible with their latest offerings. Do you think people would still make a fuss about their newer records if it was some other band?
Since Immanuel Kant, it's a well-known fact that it's a subject who decides about the aesthetic value of the object. I don't care if people like the newer Darkthrone. I respect the guys for being against the trends, the clear production and being true to fake origins of black metal. On the other hand, I don't think Fenriz cares about messing with anybody. He just does what he feels like doing. But you're partly right – if not for the Darkthrone logo, their stuff would probably be forgotten the second it was released. The same story with Vader – it doesn't matter they have recorded the same album for the seventh time – people will still get really excited about it.

What records inspired Massemord?
There’s a ton of them. I could name hundreds literally. If you want me to give you a concrete answer, I'm going to say that the Norwegian scene was a big sick influence on us. Nihil and myself were devastated by „Nattestid Ser Porten Vid” [1999 album by Taake] and we were listening to it in almost the same place it was recorded.

You're involved in lots of bands. Do you have any spare time for a social life?
I don't have a regular job and have no family either, except for my far cousins from Finlandia and Russia. I'm not really that busy with the bands. Most of them don't consume so much time. I'm not chasing new projects, I'm not really writing any music and I don't need new friends. I like to do something cool but only if the people involved are representing what I respect.

Are there many underrated band on the Polish scene?
I would rather say there are lots of overrated ones. Metal-heads usually have shitty taste and they often don’t see the real value of music. Most of the bands have a PR specialist because it's publicity that counts. We don't give a toss. If they want to participate in such a scene they're free to do so but we're walking away from this. I'm not going to tell you what bands are underrated in my opinion because I don't want to promote anyone. Every band for themselves. They need to work hard and gain respect.

Does the industrial character of Silesia make an impact on your music?

It's hard to say but I'm sure everything we experience makes our music and lyrics the way they are. We're surrounded by the forests of factory chimneys, grey snow and environmental and social degradation. It's difficult not to be influenced by it. Silesia is important to us. It has chosen us. It wasn’t our decision. Coal mines, which are here in high numbers, make this place closer to hell and that might be the reason that Silesia is that way. Anyway, we hate the people from outside of Silesia.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

HOODED MENACE – Rituals of Doom

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the doomiest of them all? If the Magic Mirror knows what the game is all about, it shouldn’t be difficult for it to point to Hooded Menace. The lakes, woods, caves and graves of Finland where the Eyeless Horde lives are also home to the filthiest creation of extreme doom metal that the world was punished by in the last couple of years. Two gargantuan albums, “Fulfill the Curse” (2008) and “Never Cross the Dead” (2010), exterminated most of the potential competition with the outstanding style of their old school song-writing, horror-worship and crushing heaviness and groove. The band’s mastermind Lasse Pyykkö, who is absolutely no newcomer to metal, having been involved before in such groups as Phlegethon, Acid Witch or Vacant Coffin, talks about the reality of doom.

Doom metal is sometimes understood as a state of mind. What emotions and events drove you to the point where you created Hooded Menace?

Lasse: Simply the need to play something crushingly heavy and slow stuff led to the birth of Hooded Menace. I have always dug the rugged and forlorn vibe of doom. I craved to play some slow heavy stuff that oozes thick atmosphere and melts your face off. Not to forget good compositions... real songs.

Hooded Menace was formed in 2007 and it's a relatively young band. Did you have any basic ideas for its sound in your head for years before 2007?
Lasse: I guess the basic ideas have been hiding in the back of my brain for many years actually. A few riffs on "Fulfill the Curse" are taken from the songs I wrote for Phlegethon "Promo 95". If I had formed Hooded Menace say sometime in the 90's I don't think the compositions would have been much different. Candlemass, Paradise Lost, Autopsy... that's what I grew up with and that's definitely where I would have drawn the influences from if I had a death/doom band. Phlegethon had a little bit of these influences.

Hooded Menace artworks are top-notch. You take good care of the way your records and merch look. Who are you co-operating with on that matter?
Lasse: Thanks! We have been working with artists such as Putrid, Eric Engelmann, Rafal Kruszyk, Daniel Desecrator, Justin Bartlett, Adam Geyer, Daniel Devilish... It's really important to us to have a decent design for everything we put out. Good art belongs to good heavy metal. The art already creates a certain kind of atmosphere around the band. The artists we work with "get" what Hooded Menace are all about so working with them is easy.

Playing very fast blastbeats and breakdowns is naturally, physically difficult. Is playing very slow difficult too? Maybe it is, but in a different way?
Lasse: Yeah, in a different way... it can be a bit difficult for a band to hit the notes exactly at the same time at really slow tempos. It's easier to hear if you miss a note in doom than if you miss a note in grindcore. I'm not saying that it needs to be "perfect" but I like our songs pretty tight. Surely this is not music for players who want to go for crazy solos and drum fills and stuff like that just to show off. This needs a different kind of approach really. It's about real songs and the crushing weight of sound produced by a few guys playing together as a solid unit.
You started Phlegethon at the age of 14. How did it all happen? What was the main inspiration? Did you have a clue how to play?
Lasse: We were a bunch of kids into fast and heavy music. All of us had been playing instruments for some time already before forming the band. Bands like Slayer and Death were probably the most important to us at the beginning but of course there were others also such as Kreator, Sepultura, Coroner, Bathory, Sacrifice... Actually we did have a clue how to play and I guess we were pretty okay players for our own age.

You released „Visio Dei Beatifica”, your first Phlegethon demo in 1989. That was only a year after Darkthrone's first demo „Land of Frost”. Back in the day, did you know their records, were you in touch with them?
Lasse: I don't think we knew Darkthrone when we put out our first demo but of course very soon we would and did. The first Darkthrone stuff I heard was the "Cromlech" tape that Teemu (our contact guy back in the day) bought/traded from somewhere. As far as I remember we weren't in contact with Darkthrone at the time. "Cromlech" blew me away and I was really looking forward to their debut album and picked up "Soulside Journey" fresh from the print. Great album indeed. Very impressive and cool drumming from Fenriz and some awesome doomy moments also. I'd say you can hear a little bit of that early Darkthrone influence in Hooded Menace.

In Claws, you handle all the instruments including drums, guitar, bass and vocal duties. Are you that talented or didn't you want to bother finding anyone who's up to playing with you?
Lasse: I bought a new drum kit (I had sold the old kit years ago) a few years back, had fun playing and soon thought that maybe I should record an album and play all the instruments by myself. So I went for this really raw and ugly death metal solo project called Claws. I don´t regard myself as an "multi-instrumentalist" as I can play drums and guitar only. I'm not even that great a drummer, guitarist or vocalist but I knew I was good enough to handle everything in Claws. It was supposed to be really raw and a little bit of sloppiness wasn't going to bother me. The album and the 7" came out really cool so I'm happy I decided to go solo.

What is your favourite instrument? Which was the first one? Which one do you practice the most often?
Lasse: I write the songs on guitar so that's definitely my favourite instrument. An acoustic guitar was my first instrument. I don't practice actually. Well, before the Claws project I practiced drums a bit because I was horribly rusty. I learned guitar by writing songs basically. I never practiced scales or any of that boring stuff.

If you had to choose one movie, would it be „The Exorcist” or „Omen” and why?
Lasse: I like them both but I'll go with "The Exorcist". It's creepier and grosser. The soundtrack is killer too.

You have left Acid Witch. What's the history behind that band and why do you no longer participate?
Lasse: Dave formed Acid Witch sometime in 2007. At first he only had some instrumental tunes on Acid Witch myspace and I told him I liked what he had there. He liked the idea of getting someone to growl to his songs and the next thing I knew I was in the band. I left Acid Witch because I wanted to focus on my own bands. You know, Acid Witch is Dave's brainchild and he writes the music. I was "just" a singer. I guess I simply got a bit tired of singing the stuff. They also wanted to start playing gigs and that could not happen with me as I live in Finland and the rest of the guys are in the US. Now with Dave on vocals they sound just as good as ever. Actually I think Dave's vocals fit better to Acid Witch than mine.

Sweden has got Nihilist, Dismember, Entombed. Norway has got Mayhem, Darkthrone, Satyricon. What bands and what people were the most important to the Finnish metal scene in the early stages?
Lasse: Tapetraders like Luxi and Jami Lahtinen were active and significant characters in the scene. Also “Isten” mag needs to be mentioned. As for the important, early death metal bands, there was Funebre, Xysma (not really death metal but one of the most momentous bands in the scene) and Abhorrence. Soon Sentenced, Amorphis, Demigod and others followed. What was really cool back in the day was that the bands had their own individual sound. Everything was exciting and small... pretty much everyone knew each other and played with each other. Indeed, some unforgettable death metal was created during those early years in Finland. Late birds who missed those early days and are now in their mid-30's or something raving about how "real" and "by the book" their bands are make me laugh. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that more bands play "old school" metal but I don't get what all that loud mouthing is about. In my opinion, it only shows how uncertain these people are in fact.
Finland has popular bands such as Amorphis, Children of Bodom, Rotten Sound and Impaled Nazarene, but compared to Sweden or Norway the scene seems to be really small. How does it look from your perspective?
Lasse: I don't follow these things too much. But yeah I guess the Swedish scene is a bit bigger as it has always been, but Norway and Finland are pretty fifty-fifty. Maybe they have more black metal in Norway or at least they are more known for it, but we have more death metal in Finland. That's the impression I have got. Not that it matters to me though. Anyway in Finland metal is huge. A phenomenon... a folk music really. So kids are excited and encouraged to start metal bands, more gigs are arranged and so forth. Of course this spawns a lot of crap but there can always be a few diamonds among the garbage.

Friday 4 February 2011

RAFAL KRUSZYK – Death Metal Cult

The metal cover arts were always as important as the music itself. Images of suffering, horror, death and mutilation are just an inseparable part of the whole genre. Maybe a bit kitschy, but how awesome? Rafal Kruszyk from Poland is an underground graphic artist who has been haunting our eyes for some time now. His obsession with old school death metal, zombies and pure evil made him a recognizable producer of graphics for such killer bands as Hooded Menace, Interment or Nunslaughter to mention just a few. Rafal answers to a couple of short questions.
When did you start?
Rafal: I never wanted to be just a passive listener. I always wanted to do something more. I started drawing when I saw this "cover" generator in Photoshop and other shit. It all started around 2001. In the beginning I met Tom of Throneum and Time Before Time Records and I drew mostly for him. Later Nunslaughter came along and a lot of other underground bands. Apocalypse keeps going!

How do you work?
Rafal: I simply start with a piece of paper. Do a draft first with a set of fine-tip pens. Then scanning and the addition of a colour or two on the computer. I'm not an artist, just a death metal maniac! In general I specialize in raw and minimalistic artworks for EPs, splits, demos and t-shirts. I don't really like making complicated pictures for full-lengths as it is very time-consuming and I get bored very quickly.

What inspires you?
Rafal: I'm interested in many different things besides music. I draw for the metal scene so my inspiration can only be one thing and that’s METAL! Mainly the old raw stuff from the ‘80s and a whole load of other underground bands.

What bands have you drawn for?
Rafal: There is a lot of stuff but 99.99% of it is for death metal monstrosities like Cianide, Nunslaughter, Throneum, Hooded Menace, Maim, Interment, Regurgitate, Bonesaw, Coffins, Decrepitaph, Machetazo and many more. I can't stop! I'm addicted!

What bands would you love to draw for?

Rafal: For lots of new sick and obscene death metal bands, but also for some rock'n'roll bands in the vein of Zeke and Motörhead.
What graphic artists inspire you?
Rafal: Ed Repka for the best death metal artwork ever! I'm of course talking about „Scream Bloody Gore”! Also Matthew "Putrid" Carr mostly for his work for Hooded Menace, Anatomia, Nunlaughter and Impetigo – masterpieces! At this moment he's the best. Nicke Andersson and his pervert art from demo tapes and fliers when the Swedish scene was growing. Comic artists like Berni Wrightson, Mike Mignola, Paul Azaceta, Eduardo Risso or Shane Oakley. Once I was under the big influence of H.R.Giger and Zdzislaw Beksinski (R.I.P.) but with time my style has become simpler. However, I really appreciate those two artists.

Your top-three best cover-artworks ever?
Rafal: Three perfect records and three perfect covers that give atmosphere to the albums are: Death „Scream Bloody Gore”, Kreator „Pleasure to Kill” and Mercyful Fate „Don't Break the Oath”.

Lasse Pyykkö of Hooded Menace / Phlegethon / Vacant Coffin:
I don't remember exactly who contacted who first. The first thing Rafal drew for Hooded Menace was "The Chalice" design. It came out awesome. He has been drawing us a lot of art just for the fun of it as he's a fan of the band and obviously quite obsessed with expressing himself with all this grotesque illustration. Not only is he a great talent but also an easy-going and fun-to-work-with guy with great taste in music. If we collected all the Hooded Menace art together it'd be safe to say most of the stuff would be Rafal's work as he's been very productive and just possessed to draw! We've been lucky to have Rafal and all these other great artists and cool people working for us.

Johan Jansson of Interment / Centinex / Regurgitate:
A friend of mine, Andy from EveryDayHate Records, recommended Rafal to me. I contacted him to do the artwork for „Into the Crypts of Blasphemy” album and the final result kills! He has also done some cool Interment t-shirts. I really like his old school style with the skulls and zombies.

Elektrokutioner of Decrepitaph / Encoffination / Father Befouled:
We've worked with Rafal many times and he always does top notch quality work! Also, he gets art done in a timely manner too, which we really appreciate! We love working with him with Decrepitaph and I personally have worked with him on other projects too and he always provides just what we're looking for.


Check out more graphics by Rafal Kruszyk at