Monday, April 16, 2018

EP Review: GAPANG Mabagal, Mabigat At Madumi (Mindplight Recordings) by Dave Wolff

GAPANG
Mindplight Recordings (Manila, Philippines)
Place of origin: Philippines
Genre: Doom/sludge metal 
Release date: April 1, 2018
Listening to this EP for the first time, my initial reaction is most American fans of doom, stoner and sludge haven’t heard it played quite like this. Being that Gapang is from the Philippines, they pursue their craft with an increased amount of diligence and passion compared to bands from this side of the ocean. If you thought The Obsessed were heavy you need to listen to Mabagal, Mabigat At Madumi as it may well inspire you to rethink your definitions. Even if you’re well versed with the countless subgenres of doom metal, Gapang has the potential to blow many of the bands you know out of the water. Checking this out may even give you a sudden keenness for doom if you weren’t previously a fan. The EP was released by Mindplight Recordings, an indie label headed by Joy Legason who is bassist and vocalist for the band. These songs are louder, harder, raunchier and just plain uglier than the most caustic doom from elsewhere. Their severity responds to “a country’s strife from the mud-brained leaders that leeched the people dry”. By the time the EP ends you’ll feel you’ve been dragged through the most poverty-stricken areas of the band’s hometown and not look at doom exactly the same way. The band makes a convincing argument that doom bands don’t have to refine their style but can go in the opposite direction by infusing additional grime and grit, and your listeners will appreciate your effort. Mabagal, Mabigat At Madumi likewise argues you can unite different levels of ambience from different subgenres of doom and make it work. Blues and early grunge are mixed with catchy riffs, gratuitous distortion, agonizingly slow dirge sections, atmosphere, clean and dirty vocals to create what could become an entirely new subgenre if allowed to develop naturally. Each song is a massive earthquake, each note is an emission from a blast furnace, each drum hit is a punch to the head, each vocal line is wholehearted and all-consuming in its veracity. Back in 2002 I saw a Brazilian movie called City Of God and remember it to this day for its brutal realism. This is one EP that would have fit into the movie’s soundtrack without trying. Do yourself a favor and contact this band for information about their work. -Dave Wolff

Band lineup:
Joy Legason: Bass, vocals
Jon Estrada: Guitars
Jay Jumawan: Guitars
JayDee Calinawan: Drums

Track list:
1. Gin Bulag Swing
2. Mudd
3. Neverhide

Friday, April 13, 2018

Artist Review: X-PLYCIT by Devin Joseph Meaney

Place of origin: Cape Breton Island, Canada
Genre: Rap, hip hop
Over the last few years, I have really been getting involved with a bunch more rap music than I have in the past. In my younger years, I would mostly listen to extreme forms of metal, punk rock and various different styles of grind and gore. I would like to think my acceptance of different styles of music has really grown over time, and because of that I have been noticing a myriad of talented artists from my local area that I would not have paid much attention to before. One of these artists is the local rapper X-Plycit. Tonight I have spent some time listening to different songs from X-plycit. The songs that I have been listening to range from 2015 to 2018. Not to say that she had no talent when she started, but she clearly has improved within only a few short years. The production quality of her recent tracks are highly professional and her timing and flow is on point. Her attitude appears to be totally in your face, but she acts so without coming off as cocky or ignorant. Besides, if you are talented and you know it, shouldn't you show it? like a bong rip after a bad day at work, X-Plycit puts me in a positive mood and I suggest anyone interested in this genre of music sincerely checks her music out. This is not the rapper you knew from high school who rapped for quarters and the rest of your Pepsi; this is some really talented shit. Just fucking listen to it, she makes Cape Breton look good. -Devin Joseph Meaney

Thursday, April 12, 2018

EP Review: GUNGNIR Ragnarök (Metal Throne Productions/Mercyful Hell Productions) by Dave Wolff

Ragnarök
Metal Throne Productions (CD)
Mercyful Hell Productions (cassette)
Place of origin: Athens, Greece
Genre: Viking black metal
Release date: February 16, 2018
Gungnir was founded in October 2016 by Nick “Yngve” Samios who was the drummer of Mortuus Sum when I interviewed him for that band back in February of 2015. It doesn’t seem that long since that interview was conducted but time flies I guess. Other bands he has been involved in are Dismal Chant, Flames, Deviser, Sirius, AfterBlood and Abvulabashy as guitarist. Samios and I have discussed the ongoing presence of occult and satanic themes in extreme metal, which he said will continue to thrive. However on their debut EP Ragnarök the band draws from themes of Norse seafarers favored by Norwegians Enslaved and Swedish bands like Bathory and Amon Amarth. Specifically they draw from the ancient sagas and myths of Norse mythology and medieval Icelandic literary works known as the Eddas. You would have to correspond with the band for further elucidation, and what the folklore means to them. Still I trust this is not a band that is relying too heavily on labels to spread their message or going out of their way to be “kvlt.” The band is named after the fabled spear of Odin (sometimes known as the Spear of Heaven), said to have been forged from Uru metal, a substance unique to the Asgardian Dimension. While avoiding labels the band does bring a rough-hewn, unprocessed disposition to their music and by first impressions you can tell they conducted a healthy amount of research for their lyrics and concept. The heated battle scene of “Intro” enhances the acerbic guitar sound and gruff vocals sustained throughout, and Fenrir the fourth track shows the band have skill at handling the war metal sound and making it their own. The bass isn’t drowned out as it can occasionally be on a band’s debut recording. The drums tended to sound too thin for the recording, but the percussion is as sturdy as the songwriting and does a lot to propel the songs forward with consistent temperament. The raven symbolism of “Outro” fits as it apparently symbolized Odin’s relationship with Huginn and Muninn. Ragnarök is worth checking out if you still listen to the Norwegian and Swedish bands of the 1990s. -Dave Wolff

Band lineup:
Ithonas: Vocals
Jim Havok: Bass, guitars, keyboards, vocals
Yngve: guitars, drums, vocals

Track list:
1. Intro
2. Our Swords For Thor
3. The Wanderer
4. Fenrir
5. Outro


Sunday, April 8, 2018

EP Review: SLAUGHTER THRONE Wrath Of An Ancient Darkness (Independent) by Dave Wolff

Wrath Of An Ancient Darkness
Independent
Place of origin: Leeds/Halifax, England
Genre: Black/thrash/death metal
Released on digital format July 16, 2014
Passed on to me by former lead guitarist Andy Horry, Wrath Of An Ancient Darkness was Slaughter Throne’s only EP release before they disbanded u 2015. Before that they released a single of two songs from this EP;  as to whether copies are still available you'd have to ask him. Horry is the producer of the Tourmaline Films documentary British Black Metal: The Extreme Underground and runs the webzine/Facebook group Being With Life - Spiritual Growth and Expression for which I was recently interviewed. He has also begun contributing poems to this zine last month. Horry’s documentary is an exposé of a black metal scene in the United Kingdom which after twenty-plus years is finally starting to discover its voice in terms of aesthetics, musical direction and its stance on religion and the UK's pagan history. Slaughter Throne’s part in this scene is short lived but nonetheless important. Not only for establishing that not every new English band is a direct copy of the others, but also for the bands spawning solid releases without having to rely on blanket terms like “kvlt” and “tr00” as many bands of the black metal genre seem to be doing. In the old days you knew what the term "true Norwegian black metal" meant. I'm no expert but now there are too many labels floating around to describe a band's music. The new bands from the UK are making a name for themselves by virtue of their imagination and musicianship, owing nothing to the controversy surrounding the genre in the 90s or a need to measure up to older bands. Any band can advertise themselves as "kvlt" but Slaughter Throne’s EP speaks for itself. They do a really good job crossing over black and death metal, adding old school thrash when the need arises, tightening up the places where the genres meet. Listening to the first song Black Forest I was increasingly taken with their ability to combine dissonant chords with the crunch and anticipation-building songwriting thrash metal bands exhibited in the 80s. The song sounds like a distinguished choice to open their set with for its steady buildup, and while the anticipation mounts you can see the band playing it onstage. Later in the song there is a slow section with DM riffing and BM lead guitars. Wrath Of An Ancient Darkness and Baptizo De Sanguis are more attentive to the death metal influences though the abrasive distortion sustains their influence in black metal. Altar Of The Black Goat starts with pounding drums that lead into a purely apocalyptic black/war metal sound. The vocal delivery is strongest in this song, especially toward the end with its repeated line "we are the army of Satan" and chilling whispers in the fade out. I can’t say Slaughter Throne did anything that hadn’t been tried, but their arrangements are well thought out., The band more than make do with the influences at their disposal and I would have liked to hear what came of it if they had stayed together to record more material. If you haven’t watched Horry’s documentary yet I’d suggest checking it out and searching for the bands' Youtube profiles and official sites. Vocalist Adam Langton has since joined the Leeds band Deus Vermin and recently released a two-track EP with them. -Dave Wolff

Band lineup:
Adam Langton: Vocals
Andy Horry: Lead guitars
Liam Lowther: Rhythm guitars
Brant Hall: Bass
Stephen Wilkinson: Drums

Track list:
1. Black Forest
2. Wrath of an Ancient Darkness
3. Baptizo de Sanguis
4. Altar of the Black Goat


Band Interview: KEITH DOOM & THE WRECKING CREW


Photo by Ray Auffrey
Interview with Nathan Hines of KEITH DOOM AND THE WRECKING CREW

You have been lead vocalist of Keith Doom & The Wrecking Crew since 2014. Have you fronted the same lineup since then? How well has the band grown to work together?
We’ve had a few lineup changes since the beginning. We were originally a four piece comprised of me (vocals), Cyrus Orkish-Robertson (guitar), Kenzie Cameron (drums) and Tanner Leudy (bass). We soon added Shane Wilkie who had been playing in some local acts at the time (Sins Of The Father and Stepwise). We planned from before our first show to add Shane but needed to work on tightening up a bit and getting established. So once Shane was added, Tanner joined Cyrus on guitar and we did the five piece thing for a little while. Cyrus was a bit younger than us and once he graduated high school he moved to Halifax to continue his schooling. We played as a four piece when he was away and a five piece when he was home. We found it difficult to write new material so we had a mutual parting with Cyrus. A few years down the line we had the same with our original drummer Kenzie. A long time friend and bass player for locals The Wazzo Adam Lemoine stepped up on drums and we have been steady with this lineup since. Our band functions exceptionally well because we are on the same page as to the sound and feel of the music. We take care of different aspects as far as the industry side of things, but when it’s time to deliver the music we bring something unique to the table.

The band mixes a vintage punk sound with a modern taste. What does this entail? What is the era of punk you consider to be the vintage era?
We like to think we take the core elements of punk from the 70s and early 80s and add influences from various subgenres that exploded on to the scene over the years: crust, hardcore etc. We mostly keep the songs short and sweet, and some have a grindy/metallic undertone. We want to keep our listeners interested track to track and to us that means exploring all the sounds of punk rock.

The meaning of punk has changed many times over the years. What is the band’s definition of punk, collectively and individually?
To me vintage punk is 70's/80's punk, when the genre was being cracked open. Mostly the regions I truly consider hold a place for vintage punk would be England and the West/East coast of the US. But there is so much from all over the world, it’s impossible to narrow it down to certain sections. I can't speak for the rest of the band, but to me and I would assume them punk is about doing what you do, not doing things to please others, just doing what you want. Whether dressing a certain way, writing a certain way, or just being an individual. The music is a mutual thing among "punks", and I think the attitude will always be present in a world that has so much negativity, corruption and greed.

So the debate over whether punk started in the U.S. or England isn’t a concern for you?
As far as where it took off I could care less. That might be because I’m from Eastern Canada. Though there were punk bands in this area as far back as the 70s it wasn't some explosion that left a mark on our scene like London, California or New York.

You could say punk also started in Chicago with Death, who started around the same time as the Ramones and the Sex Pistols.
Death is an amazing act who helped evolve the sound. Same with The Stooges and MC5,. But punk really started to shape up with the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. There has been "punk" sounding music since the 50s as far as I am concerned, with Eddie Cochrane leading the way for ripping rock n roll. But it all comes down to who influenced core bands when it was established. Cream helped shape the heavy rock sound that would eventually become metal. But Sabbath, Judas Priest, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Rainbow laid the groundwork for metal riffs and lyrical themes. Death unfortunately don't get the recognition they deserve but they are definitely one of the earliest punk acts.

Another band was active around the same time period, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Pure Hell, who the Bad Brains cited as an early influence. Their only full length Noise Addiction was delayed for almost thirty years before it was released in 2005.
I have not heard about Pure Hell but would definitely be interested in listening. It’s always interesting hearing rare gems and hearing what mainstay artists from the 70's and 80s were listening to.

While searching Youtube I heard of older punk bands with female vocalists such as The Accident, The Maneaters, and Wilma And The Wilbers, and singers like Rosa Yemen and Kate Fagan. How important do you deem social media making these clips available?
I used to dig very deep into Youtube to find obscure music of folk, metal and punk. A few "rare" bands I found that stuck with me were Crushed Butler, DMZ, Swamp Rats, Crime, The Real Kids, The Punks, Debris etc. They had wonderful full lengths while others only had a song or two. My main knowledge of "obscure" music stems to proto-metal in the 60's and 70's. I was heavily engaged in Blogspot and Wordpress pages around 2008-2010 to dig up any proto-metal and proto-punk I could get my hands on. Where my taste was limited I loved the early beginnings. Around fifteen and sixteen I started dipping into hardcore and thrash metal and the rest is history. There aren’t many genres I won't dive into if it interests me. Social media is extremely important. Unless you lived where they were from at the time you would have had no idea they existed. Now they are just a few clicks away and I think that is amazing for underground music.

Where else can people find rare bands from the 60s to the present day?
Not too many places. A lot of these records are hard to come by. I work at a record store and rarely catch something rare. Occasionally I will crate dig and buy lesser known rock bands, but as far as anything super innovative not too often.

How many local mom and pop stores are in your area? Name some rarities you managed to find while crate digging?
Aside from flea markets, garage sales or thrift shops we only have one dedicated record store, Atomic Records And Collectibles. The store is just about to turn three in June and I'm happy we can sustain it. The owner Tom is good to our local scene allowing us to hold all-age shows of all genres and even supporting charity show events. Random gems I found there are Rammer: Rammer EP, Bobby Whitlock’s self-titled album and Rick Derringer’s live album from 1977.

I’ve been hearing that the world of extreme metal has become oversaturated due to social media and there are more bands than people can keep up with. Do you see this happening? Is there still room for originality?
People’s definitions of extreme metal vary so some may find bands untrue to the nature of extreme music. Those sites have a mass abundance of extreme music, and it’s a genre that can be produced fairly simply so a lot of bands and projects post demos and EPs constantly. I think the genre still has room for originality; it’s up to the artists to bring it in.

Do you feel punk is timelier than ever? If so, is this reflected in the band’s lyrics?
It might not be more timely than the 80s, but it definitely is more relevant than ten years ago, with arguably some of the most hated political happenings in a long time. Lyrically we try to escape from writing political or opinionated songs in general, but we certainly have songs that will be recorded for our next release, which will hopefully be started in the late spring or early summer. We tend to write about random and sometimes fictional content. Our song Goth Kids deals with how the general public calls any abrasive music goth, emo or screamo even if it’s not any of those genres. Nascar Racing is about smoking cigs and somebody owing you twenty dollars. We have been known to write a dis-track or two.

Punk has expanded into many different subgenres including straight edge, vegan, electro punk, pop punk, anarcho-punk and so on. Is this a benefit or a detriment?
Many people hate subgenres because they think it hurts a genre. I love being able to use a subgenre to explain a sound or theme. I think it is good because it makes it easier for listeners to weed out bands or sounds they dislike. I don't like much power metal, but if I thought all metal was like power metal I would disregard the genre entirely. But where I know there are many different sub-genres to check out I feel more inclined to do so.

Why is any form of abrasive music labeled by the public? Does your song Goth Kids also deal with people who take it at face value without making distinctions?
Punk, metal or any "extreme" music will always be looked down on by mainstream media. People who follow that bullshit don't want to think for themselves, so listening to mega produced radio pop and watching Fox News is their cup of tea. I say listening to death metal and reading zines are my cup of tea. So many people think all these genres are senseless screaming with no talent. I don't care if somebody doesn't like the music, but don't try and lump it into one big ball. Anybody who actually cares should understand every genre has its place whether they like it or not.

It’s not difficult to find websites and videos explaining how diverse extreme music is. I’ve seen videos about the different vocal styles in death metal and the physical discipline needed for them. And sites listing the vast number of subgenres of death, black and doom metal etc.
I think talented artists exploring different genres is a great opportunity for sub-genres to expand. Some bands and artists come in and lay groundwork for a certain sound. It might fall flat giving the genre no credibility but when the right bands step up it causes a flux of other artists exploring the sounds and styles. To me that’s important for extreme music.

Do you consider overt political statements in punk still relevant in today’s political climate? For example there has been a lot of division among Americans following the last presidential election. Are any newer bands reflecting this?
I think it will always be relevant. Today’s political climate is heated. As far as bands utilizing this in their lyrics I’m not too sure, but I know bands like Jesus Piece touch on the struggles of oppression and such. I’m sure lots of bands use this as a platform but I haven't found them yet.

Who are Jesus Pierce and how do they reflect on society in their lyrics?
Jesus Piece are a newer hardcore band with a heavy sound. They write lyrics regarding the current political state and how people of color are treated poorly. The front man, being a person of color, is driven by that. I very much support their messages. Try out the song Oppressor for example.

Back to your reference of dis songs, who in particular has been the subject of said pieces?
Our dis tracks range in variety. "Asshats" is about people who wear Bass-Pro Shop hats but don't fish (of course we don't really care what you wear, haha). "Dead-Byrds" is about the local Cape Breton acts Frigged (formerly Dead Skanks) and our current drummer's old band The Wazzo. Both bands are our close friends, and as I said band mates now, so most of the time we are just picking to pick. We find these songs resonate with the crowd because everybody around here sort of gets the joke.

Is punk more about the image or the message?
It’s more about your viewpoint to me. It’s to fit the image and uphold something gimmicky for fans I suppose, such as the slightly comedic aspect of our band. But overall it boils down to how you are as a person, your views or the message you are spreading.

How much material does the band have out to date? Discuss your most recent release and how much promotion has gone into it since it was made available?
We have two EPs, "Potholes" and "Malt Water Party" and one full length "Total Expendable". We released the album last June with a big local show featuring the local bands Frigged! and The Shithawks. Since then we have had steady album sales at events. We try and give as many underground stations and even record stores promotional copies. The album clocks in at about eleven minutes, so we play the entire thing during our sets, haha. We are writing our second full length, aiming for at least fifteen minutes this time, haha. "Total Expendable" has a different sound overall than the two other releases. We sort of ditched the rock n roll vibe we had and became much more aggressive sounding. The next release will expand on that.

Are the band personal friends with Frigged! and The Shithawks? How often have you performed with them?
We are close friends with them. Easily some of my best friends from before our band began. We have played countless shows with them, being that this is a small scene.

How do you account for your releases for being brief in length? Has dropping that rock vibe made major changes to your sound?
We understand some people wouldn't understand why our album was so short, but we recorded everything we wanted and just didn't add any filler crap. Some of my favorite punk albums of all time are very short. Dropping the rock vibe significantly changed our sound. First we sounded like Misfits and The Stooges; now we sound crusty and metallic. But we make sure to keep a touch of groove to draw people who otherwise may avoid heavy music.

What songs on your current releases have the most well written lyrics to date?
I suppose that’s up to the listener. Some songs have funny/dumb lyrics but the story behind them is relatable. Crosseyed deals with media propaganda and blurring the lines on what’s true and false, and has more of a serious undertone.

How soon do you expect the next full length to come out, and how aggressively do you plan to promote it?
We hopefully plan to start late summer on production. We wll be promoting the hell out of it through various formats and advertisements. 

-Dave Wolff

Artist Interview: JEREMY KIRCHNER (ABSTRACT MAELSTROM)

Interview with artist JEREMY KIRCHNER (ABSTRACT MAELSTROM)

How long has your Facebook community page Abstract Maelstrom been active? How much traffic does it usually get?
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me and giving me an opportunity to speak about Abstract Maelstrom. I started Abstract Maelstrom in June of 2017 as a way to showcase and promote my artwork, but I would eventually like to branch out and showcase artwork from others. I've been fascinated with abstractions since I was in grade school. Everyone in my class was assigned an artist from history and I was assigned Jackson Pollock. We were supposed to study them and try to do a painting in a similar style. His method of throwing paint at the canvas went against everything we were traditionally taught, and it made me look at art in a completely new way. I've been hooked ever since!

When basing your first painting on Pollock’s, how much of your vision did you see? How much did this inspire you?
When I did the first painting I had no clue how to start replicating his process, so I just picked a couple of colors I really liked and began using a brush to splash it at the canvas. Slowly as I began to put certain colors in certain places I gained an understanding of how to layer the paint in a way that was appealing to me. With abstract art it's hard sometimes to start with a vision in your head of how the final product will come out. There's a level of chaos involved where you're just painting on feel and making changes on the fly until you feel you're done. I felt a wave of inspiration after this because I began to look at art differently. It wasn't about trying to get as close to a realistic representation of something as it was just trying to create something visually appealing to me. Once that idea clicked in my head I was off and running. I think I honestly went through three to four entire sketchbooks, just of abstract splatter paintings. Sometimes it was very minimalist with only a couple brush strokes or splashes here and there; other times the page would be a maelstrom of different colors and stuff everywhere. That's where I came up with the idea for the name Abstract Maelstrom.

What spoke to you about Pollock’s approach to painting? Did you study more of his work after your class assignment?
I think the thing that was most appealing to me about Pollock's method of painting was that it was controlled chaos. You would have control of the brush and the paint, but you're not trying to specifically control what the paint does after you throw it towards the canvas. It's a carefree and worry less form of painting, which up to that point I had found to be a source of anxiety for me. I couldn't get my figures to look right, or things to look how I wanted them to in my head and I would regularly grow frustrated with my paintings.
I studied some of Pollock's work for a while after we were done with the class assignment and that's when I started to really learn more about the man behind the paintings. I began looking at the school library and eventually branched out into looking for information about him at the local town library. I got out books and tried to learn more about his creative process and what made his art so unique and creative. I learned about quite a few other artists during this period, Salvador Dali being one of the ones I continue to be fascinated with to this day.

Which books about Pollock’s career were especially informative about his background?
I can't recall the names of the books I had gotten on him. It's been 17-18 years since that class. There are a few documentaries out I have watched on him as an adult that were quite interesting. Most are available on YouTube and other free video platforms. While he was definitely the inspiration for the initial push to begin painting there is so much great art and talented artists out there it's hard to showcase just one I pulled from. That's part of the creative push that keeps me going on a regular basis, talking to other creators and picking their brains.

Which documentaries about Pollock would you recommend for their information?
I don't think I watched too many documentaries and the names escape me. It's been years and it's hard to recall, but I am pretty sure one of them was from the late 80's. It had a lot of interviews with his friends and other people that knew him along with footage of him painting from way back. There's another one that came out later on I watched called "Who the #$%@ is Jackson Pollock" that I found particularly interesting.

When did you discover Dali’s paintings, and what fascinated you? Did you do as much research on him as on Pollock?
It must have been eighth or ninth grade when I discovered Dali's paintings. His style of combining realistic characters and items with surreal landscapes and mixing it all together really blew my mind. I had went through a period of stagnation artistically beforehand and his works along with a few other artists, one of which a local artist named Thomas Small really helped me get back into the creative mindset. I definitely didn't do as much research on Dali as I did with Pollock mostly because it wasn't a requirement for an assignment but his style is something that inspires me. I wish that I had the ability to translate my thoughts into artwork as well he was able to. I think for now I will stick with what I do best!

Do you feel fortunate about being opened to new ways of viewing art?
I do feel fortunate that my mind was opened to new artistic concepts. It's always good to be able to see things in a new light; sometimes it can open doorways that you didn't know existed. I love things that help me to look at anything from music, to art, to movies in a new and interesting light.

Who else has helped you to view painting and artwork from different perspectives?
My parents have been influential and encouraging throughout the process. I went through a long break from the age of thirteen to around twenty five. I have met a lot of artists online who have been supportive. I think the main thing that has given me new perspectives is the internet. There are so many places to view art and share creations online that it's easy to widen your horizons. It's tempting to get into a coasting mentality when it comes to creating things; you want to stay in that comfort zone but when you look at what other people are making and how they are doing it can be an eye opening experience.

How well known is Thomas Small as a local artist? Can people find his work on the net?
Thomas Small has been a friend of mine for the past fifteen years, and he's quite well known as a local artist around central Ohio. He has done concept art for card games and mural paintings in local businesses, and commissioned artwork for various individuals. He's always pushed me to be artistic and express myself through various mediums whether music or art. People can check his work out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ThomatorrArt.

Was Thomas Small’s inspiration on you conscious or something that rubbed off on you?
I think that his inspiration was in large part to the fact that we spent much of our teenage years hanging out together and he would always be sketching out these insane characters and scenery. His work is based on mostly fantasy subjects, but he does psychedelic scenery work and quite a bit of costume and weapons making. We would just spend hours hanging out in my jam room, I'd be playing guitar and he would draw a sketch based on something we were discussing and I would try to fit the theme musically. Those are some of my fondest memories from my teens. He was one of the people who kind of gave me the push to get back into painting as I'd been focused more on my music for a while beforehand.

When did you first meet Small, and what did you and he have in common?
I met Tom when I was roughly fourteen through a mutual friend. It's funny because when we first met we didn't get along and it was only after we both had a bit of a falling out with the mutual friend that we started to hang out more and became good friends. We got along because we were both really into extreme music and RPG games. We still are to this day. Stuff like Kataklysm, Jungle Rot, Libido Airbag, Slayer, and many others were the soundtrack to our teenage years.

What card games has Small designed for? Are his art commissions often in demand?
He hand drew every character and background for the locally based Imperia 13 card game. I know he does concept work for various places but it's so hard to pinpoint because he's done so much art. To my knowledge his work has always been met favorably, people rarely commission him from word of mouth without seeing his art somewhere first so most people know his stylistic choices. He's done some large murals for local gyms as well as painting anything he can get his hands on!

Is the Imperia 13 card game held at a specific location?
I can only give the readers vague information on Imperia 13 since I wasn't directly involved with it. I just talked to Thomas while it was going on and seen him working on it. It's based out of Columbus, Ohio. I think most of the packs for the game they sell are located in game shops there. I do believe that's where most of the games are held.

Did you and Small ever consider collaborating together?
We are actually talking about doing a collaboration now! It's definitely still a possibility. We discussed using my art for a background and allowing him to draw characters and detail work over that. We're both so busy with work schedules and other things that it unfortunately hasn't happened yet.

Why did you choose Abstract Maelstrom to name your Facebook community? Does the title give viewers more of an idea of what they’ll see?
I chose Abstract Maelstrom because I felt like the name represented the chaos and lack of control in the style of paintings I do. It's about creating something beautiful through a lack of control. Abstract for the style of art I do and want to promote actively on the page and Maelstrom because it's a plethora of mediums and different techniques. I would love for the community to grow into a churning mass of talented abstract artists sharing their works and information together and building something that extends beyond all of us!

How much of your work is posted at Abstract Maelstrom, and how much feedback does it receive?
I currently have about twenty unique pieces posted right now. I like to share a lot of work in progress; pictures and things of that nature. I have gotten great feedback from various people and especially artists like Thomas Small. The art community is accepting and open to experimentation and everyone can find their niche. While my fan base is still relatively small I do my best to grow the community and to make my followers feel they're a part of something bigger.

How actively do you promote Abstract Maelstrom? Do you invite artists to promote there?
I promote Abstract Maelstrom quite a bit. I try to post there as often as I can; normally things like work in progress pictures or things like that. I haven't gotten to a point where I have a lot of other artists contributing at the moment but I'm working on growing the community and showcasing other talented abstract artists from across the country and perhaps even across the globe!

Who are the U.S. and overseas artists you help promote? Do you usually contact them through Facebook?
At the moment I'm the only artist I actively promote through Facebook or in general. I'm trying to build the community at the moment and link in with other artists who might be interested in being promoted! I'm hoping that interviews like this one will help with exposure. You never know, maybe someone reading this would like to be featured! I use Facebook the most because it's the one that I'm most familiar with, but I do use Instagram quite a bit.

Do you intend your paintings to make a statement, or do you improvise and see how they turn out when completed?
Aside from the color scheme, normally I have no idea what I'm going for when I start painting. There will be times when I have kind of a vague outline of shapes or designs in my head but for the most part I just like to throw on music and paint intuitively. I feel like when I think about what I'm doing too much that's when I mess pieces up or I'm not happy with the finished product. I use art as a form of meditation it's something to focus in on and forget about all the other stuff going on in my life.

What do you listen to while painting? Do different genres inspire you in different ways?
I normally listen to instrumental rock/electronic music when I'm painting. I think the rhythm of the music definitely inspires me in different ways. I like to listen to really chilled out electronic stuff when I'm focusing intently on something because for some reason the lower tempos help me get into the zone. I listen to extreme metal when I'm doing splatter art because it can encapsulate the energy into the piece itself. Anything from Slayer to Nine Inch Nails.

Do you think many painters are inspired by bands? As some people still think extreme metal is a bad influence, how do you prove them wrong?
I would imagine a lot of different artists use music for inspiration. I find it hard to create anything unless I've got music on! Extreme music gets a bad rap but it's expressing emotions and feelings that people deal with day to day. Personally I've found extreme music to be cathartic and it allows me a channel to vent otherwise negative emotions and allow them to turn into something positive. There will be times when I'm really stressed or I've had a bad day and I'll throw on some Pig Destroyer or Napalm Death and just throw paint around for a couple hours and when I'm done I feel like I've done a week’s worth of meditation.

Having listened to extreme metal for so long, how many similarities do you see between metal and art in terms of challenging established perceptions?
The metal and art worlds are alike in the smashing of societal normalcy. There's such a loyalty among metal heads for certain genres in the same way there are artists who prefer specific mediums/styles. Metal is one of the only genres of music that I really feel I can express the full gambit of human emotions. Everything from anger, hatred, loathing and despair to love, heartache and other concepts. Art is the same way in that you can express practically anything that you can conceive. You're only limited by the talent you have to express that through your works. This is what makes both art and metal music so special to me personally because I feel like there's kind of a taboo for expressing certain emotions or feeling certain ways. We tiptoe in society around those subjects when in reality we need more time focusing on how we cope with them.

Does confronting society with its dark side lead to change for the better? If you think it does, what examples of it have you seen of it happening?
I personally think that at a societal and individual level that confronting darkness is always the best way to grow and move forward. There is a huge tendency among human beings to avoid things that cause us pain or discomfort but in many ways it can be our greatest sources of learning. Take physical fitness for example, it's almost always uncomfortable but the benefits greatly outweigh the pain you have to endure to receive them yet many people avoid working out for that reason alone. I also firmly believe this is why we are taught to never discuss politics and religion because we still haven't worked out a way to peacefully discuss those things without resorting to violence. I really don't like the term ‘dark side’ though since it sort of downplays the inherent role that negative emotions and feelings play in humanity. The duality of life is what gives it meaning. Our lives wouldn't mean as much if we never died. Love wouldn't mean as much if you have never experienced loneliness. We stray away from these dark places in our conversations and art because we don't like the way they make us feel because we aren't used to being confronted with them. For that exact reason I believe it leads to change for better. Anytime you're uncomfortable mentally there is room for growth.

Regarding the discussion of politics and religion and resorting to violence, social media in some ways has become a battleground between people who can’t seem to resolve differing opinions. How much of an issue do you consider this at present?
I think that a difference in opinions is a great thing when it can lead to a better understand for both parties involved but I also believe that voicing deliberate nonsensical or "troll" standpoints is a big problem in online forums. There's nothing wrong with having differing opinions but not being able to resolve to allows others to have opinions different than yours is a crazy idea! We live in a country built upon freedom and if we don't have the freedom to express individuality in our own thoughts and opinions then we have nothing. I think that the inability to accept this is what resorts people to violence because they don't know how to rationally cope with concepts they don't agree with.

Do you have an official site to feature your work? Do you promote it as actively as you promote Abstract Maelstrom?
I don't have an official website but I am going to be starting one here soon. For the moment I do most of my posting through Instagram, on Facebook and through my Etsy page. I promote my Etsy page most actively since that's the page where I have all the available paintings up for sale but I do most of the sales through Facebook and word of mouth.

How well does Instagram showcase your work for a social media outlet?
Instagram seems to be a great outlet for photo/video based mediums. I'm still relatively new to it as well but it's been extremely helpful in finding other artists! I have only recently started to promote myself as a artist but there's lots of support and other extremely talented artists on there.

How reasonably do you charge on Etsy? Has it been easy to conduct orders online?
I charge on all of my art based on the material cost and the labor costs involved to keep the prices reasonable for most people. One of the main issues I have with art is that sometimes there is a thick air of pretentious value to pieces. Not to say I don't understand having an emotional connection to your pieces, or the works themselves taking longer and costing more, but the idea of charging thousands of dollars for a piece of art rubs me the wrong way. I want to help make abstract art more available for people and priced well enough for them to own some if they would like. It's been invaluable what the internet has done as far as marketing and outreach for me. I've sold paintings overseas to a few places now and made friends I would have never been able to before. It's one of the greatest inventions of my lifetime despite all the issues that come along with the web.

Some artists promote their work by featuring them in videos on Youtube and other channels. Is this something you have considered doing?
I have considered doing videos but I am less experienced in that medium of recording. I think that for artists it can be a amazing way to showcase the methodology of your art and to share techniques and skills with other people. I've given a lot of thought to the idea of doing time lapse videos for the paintings since it might be a boring watch otherwise.

What resources do you have at your disposal to make a time lapse video, and how much creativity do your resources allow for?
I have a video camera and some basic editing software on my computer right now but I'm looking into investing in better equipment for filming my artistic processes as well as taking higher quality pictures. I think I'm only limited at the moment by my imagination mostly though, there are tons of free resources and video software out there I just have to research and find one suitable for the task I have in mind.

Do you appear at local science fiction, fantasy or horror conventions to promote your work?
I haven't appeared at any conventions yet, that's actually a really good idea! I've mostly tried to promote my art through word of mouth in person and online. I'm working on getting to know many other people in the community but this is something I've wanted to do for a while now. I put it off mostly because I have always viewed my art through a very subjective lens and never valued it as highly as other people's work. I think that every artist is that way. Sometimes when we're done creating we're so ready to create more that we never take the time to appreciate our own work.

Are there any conventions held near you, where you would consider appearing?
There's a ton of conventions in Columbus, Ohio but I haven't paid much attention to those that are open to artists. I know there's plenty of conventions since a lot of my friends actively go to them. I think my art would go with a psychedelic/hippy convention or maybe an art specific convention if they have those! I don't necessarily have a target audience; I think that anyone who looks at my art is the audience! Since I don't have a typical subject for my art, it can speak to a wide range of people.

Name some Columbus conventions where you would appear to promote your work.
I can't name any specific conventions off the top of my head, I'm a bit of a introvert so large gatherings like conventions aren't places where I tend to do my best. I prefer small intimate environments like local art shows and other small scale art exhibitions. It would be for a number of reasons, the main one right now is building connections in the community and meeting other like-minded people. It is always nice to bounce ideas off others and talk about things you enjoy with art and other subjects.

Have you done research on the internet to find out of state conventions to visit?
I haven’t done much research about conventions, that's an interesting idea. I will admit I have a tendency to be an introvert and a hermit unless I'm forced out of my shell. I tend to just focus on creating my works in solitude and then sharing them later in person or online. It would do me quite a bit of good to get out and communicate with other artists and creators in person.

Do you have connections who would help you get a dealer’s table at a local convention?
I don't have any connections in that aspect yet either but I'm working my way into that. Making connections hasn't really been a focus for me at all up to this point. Creating art has sort of been cathartic for me in many aspects of life and I have only recently allowed people to see that side of me. I'm hoping that through interviews like this and word of mouth though I can find like-minded people who enjoy artistic endeavors as much as I do!

What sort of projects and collaborations do you have planned for the months to come, besides your planned collab with Thomas Small?
Other than the upcoming collaboration with Tom I don't have too many things in the works other than new paintings! I am admittedly am a bit too introverted when it comes to branching out and collaborating on things but I hope that in time more people will see the artistic style I have and want to work together to get more abstract art out there to the world!

How would you like to be remembered as the artist in the distant future?
Just being remembered to me is a great honor, when we are dead and gone all we have is the impact we left on those who live on and the words and thoughts they have about us. I would be happy just to be remembered at all.


-Dave Wolff

Friday, April 6, 2018

Video Review: INTROSPECTION Cultural War by Dave Wolff

Cultural War
From their 2016 full length Anthropophagic Father
Place of origin: Brazil
Genre: Death/black metal
Release date: October 17, 2016
Cultural War is the first official video to promote Anthropophagic Father, the year and a half old full length from introspection. For what people would consider an amateur production job, it makes its point about human nature’s belligerent, warlike side, with nary an effort to lessen its impact or make it more comfortable to watch. Many Hollywood movies about war, regardless of the time they’re set in, are accompanied by poignant soundtracks intended to make you feel a certain way about what you see on the screen. Introspection’s method is somewhat similar, but they don’t filter the images through mournful compositions, ultimately softening the message. Their style of death metal lays bare the horrors of wartime, presenting the idea that destruction and suffering come from warfare, especially where matters of conquest and domination are concerned. This idea was driven home in the literary classics Animal Farm and 1984. The film and TV adaptations of the latter reinforced it with visions of a dystopian future in which war was waged to waste the products of human labor and deliberately stagnate humanity to maintain power. The Cultural War video struck me as having a similar premise, showing the practices of war remain consistent, whether waged low tech or high tech. The grainy black and white scenes of the band performing fits archived films of several wars from throughout the twentieth century. They could have detached themselves from those images, but instead opted not to present them as most documentarians would, from outside looking in. The presentation they chose brings the reality of war much closer to home, without distractions. It’s a bare bones statement that doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to saying what they want to say. Introspection plan to release a new album, entitled Nihilistic Hatred, this year. -Dave Wolff

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Zine Interview: METALEGION MAGAZINE

Interview with Ricardo Azevedo of METALEGION MAGAZINE

Metalegion Magazine is described as the culmination of thirty years of direct music influence, as an everyday listener, and presents opportunities for staff members as well as the editor to air their views and become more involved in the music industry. How much have you seen over the last three decades and what inspired you to start the publication?
I guess I can say that the inspiration to create something like Metalegion comes mostly from the zine scene of the 90’s. Despite the major differences between the cut and paste zine format of the late 80’s, early 90’s and the professional printed concept behind Metalegion, there is much of the drive and contribution spirit embodied within Metalegion’s pages.
Much has changed on the scene since I started listening to metal back in 1987/88. Nowadays everything is available as products for immediate consumption… back then there wasn’t the possibility to check hundreds of new bands via Youtube, suggestions were given by friends and tapes recorded as well as radio shows. Music was slowly absorbed and albums played dozens of times in a row.
I witnessed the ascension and fall of a few trends as well as digital transformation (which is still happening). Nevertheless the second wave of the black metal scene had a major impact, probably because I was older at that time (seventeen) and more interested in discovering new bands and scenes. The events in Norway were seen globally as something to fear and worship and made a huge impact in everyone back then…

How actively were you involved in tape and zine trading in the late 1980s and early 1990s? How much easier was it to absorb music in those days, before the social media age?
I guess my tape and zine trading was more reflected on my group of friends at the time who were mostly metalheads. I was not one of those guys who were in correspondence with people all around the world and trading, I was more into buying demos and zines and then spread it with friends. People back then had radio shows (like Lança Chamas ou Caminhos de Ferro, two iconic Portuguese programs) and small zines that introduced the fans to new bands and albums. It was not very easy to buy records if you were not living in a city like Lisbon for instance, the fans had to go to specific stores to buy imported vinyl or order it through mail order services. This new generation that is taking full advantage of all the social media networks and Youtube certainly has an easy task in finding new bands and share things with each other. However, I believe that the magic of playing a record hundreds of times, almost until the needle of your turntable was almost ruined, was what made bands and music so special at least for me. One of my first vinyl records was Fatal Portrait by King Diamond bought a few years after its release and I remember playing it repeatedly. I was probably around thirteen or fourteen years old and I had to save money for several weeks to buy it.

Did you correspond with fans outside your country? How many local bands from other countries did you hear of?
I remember buying and trading demos locally from bands like Germany’s Desaster, Portugal’s Firstborn Evil or the Czech Republic’s Forgotten Silence for instance but also trading video tapes from booklet gigs with a guy from Lisbon.

How many stores and mail order resources existed in your area at the time of your introduction to underground music? What stores do you know of that still deal in vinyl?
I discovered the underground in the early 90’s; until then I got to know bands through my brother, cousin and friends as well as radio shows. In my area there weren’t many stores available, most of them dealt with all sorts of music with smaller metal sections. The only one that started dealing with Metal was Carbono in Amadora, which was only a few km from my house. The mail order scene was probably in its peak with Portuguese metal labels having mail order services running as well as smaller distros appearing. I do remember asking catalogues and be amazed with the quantity of bands that existed out of my realm. Most stores that existed in the late 80’s and early 90’s are closed by now, but the good thing is that people and labels that still exist had the guts to open stores and stay open until now. Vinyl is available in most stores; it seems that nowadays everybody is into vinyl again. Still I remember a period when people were selling their collections to stores like Carbono and I could buy used stuff quite cheap. The good old days!

Name some stores that remain open to this day. How do you account for vinyl retaining popularity among metal fans?
I guess Carbono is one of the oldest still around. It existed since the late 90’s and I keep buying stuff there, mostly vinyl. I guess the fact that labels started having limited vinyl editions brought back some old vinyl fans as well as created curiosity in the younger fans since vinyl is nowadays seen as a prime product. I guess it was a response from the music business to take back some of the control in sales but I’m almost sure it will be a cyclical thing, like all trends.

Do you see people reading physical fanzines today, even when there are more webzines and ezines circulating online? Why do you think people still prefer reading zines they can hold in their hands rather than go on the internet?
There are still people that prefer reading a nice zine or magazine on the toilet, hahaha. I do not want to call the printed media a dying breed but there are obvious concerns and problems, especially because as you stated, people are often getting their information on the internet. Still, nothing can surpass the smell of a freshly printed magazine (I love the smell of napalm in the morning…), the reading, the glossy paper and above all good features. I guess both worlds can cope and complement together, although the printed media needs to bring something extra to the table in order to survive. For instance, I see the guys of Decibel Magazine having a vinyl offered with each issue, which is a tremendous idea, or Legacy magazine being released with hundreds of pages and offering two CDs. There is also a new trend starting that is old zines gathering all their issues and releasing a book with almost an historic approach, which is really cool to see all those interviews printed originally in the 80’s with bands that are now quite big.

What physical zines are the longest running and most widely read in your country? Which do you read most often?
The zine scene as we knew it in the 80’s, 90’s is dead. I don’t know any zine that lasted from that era. We have a couple of magazines like Loud (the longest running metal magazine from Portugal) and Ultraje besides zines like Horrores Nocturnos. At the moment I’m not remembering any others. We had a prolific scene in the old days with zines like Abismo, Rites Of Eleusis, Fenix, Hallucination Or Horns but none of them survived. During the 90’s zines like Slayer, Voices From The Darkside or Tales Of The Macabre from Norway and Germany probably had a major impact on me and I always wanted to create a similar project.

In what ways were Slayer, Voices From The Darkside and Tales Of The Macabre an influence on you? Was it the layout, the choice of bands or the content?
I guess it was all those elements. They all featured a great selection of bands accompanied with professional printing and a layout faithful to the whole zine scene. These were editors that back in early 90’s interviewed bands like Emperor, Kreator, Bolt Thrower, Bulldozer, Ancient Rites, Immortal, Behemoth, Marduk and so on in their early stages. The fact of witnessing their own evolution created some sort of bond with those bands. Still as I said, here in Portugal we also had a prolific zine scene in late 80s and early 90s where many of those bands were interviewed. I believe there were amazing zines all over the world and everybody simply wanted to express their own passion for metal by talking about it.

Has the internet made for more online radio programs for people to listen to?
I guess the internet led people not to be restrained solely on stuff from your area. Fans now have a bigger picture and everything is available with a single mouse click. Nowadays I hardly listen to any radio shows since I receive most stuff directly from labels and I do not feel the need to listen to a show to hear new or soon to be released stuff. When I’m not checking out a new album I usually like to pick an old vinyl and play it on my stereo, I guess I’m a nostalgic kind of guy!

What releases have you recently ordered from independent labels that are worth mentioning?
Recently I bought the double gatefold 2017 reissue version of “To Mega Therion” from Celtic Frost which includes an extensive booklet with photos and lyrics. This was something that I was looking after for some time since I only had the CD version of the album and the original vinyl edition was too expensive for me. ‘Where Greater Men Have Fallen’ from Primordial and ‘Warmaster’ from Bolt Thrower comes also to mind, both in double gatefold editions. As I said earlier I’m mostly in buying vinyl.

Black metal’s second wave made an impression on many people outside Scandinavia. This led to something of a rivalry between fans of the genre and death metal fans. Was this as much of a concern to you or did you not pay attention to it?
Not really. I usually don’t give a damn about what other people say or think about, still back in the 90’s everybody was into Black metal (younger and older metal fans) and bands were more enthusiastic on their interviews with bold statements and acts being made. I guess Black metal took the whole satanic phenomenon that already existed in metal and tried to push the limits sometimes to the point of being and sounding ridiculous. But there were some amazing records being released, like “In the Nightside Eclipse”, “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” or “Hvis Lyset tar Oss” and that was for me the most important thing rather than paying attention to bullshit between fans or bands. Still these sort of rumours are nothing else.

People today still claim that heavy metal is a phase and eventually grown out of. However many of us grew with the bands of their youth as they progressed and matured musically.
If you change your music focus, I guess you were never really into it. This is probably the only thing I can say about that. Sure, you can stop listening to it, wives usually have something to say concerning that, hahaha. But once you’re a metal head you will never cease to be one, even if you have a nine to five job, kids or whatever. I have listened to metal for thirty years and it’s kind of cool to see all those bands I discovered on the 80’s like Kreator, Sodom, Slayer, Manowar, Iron Maiden are still going strong. On the other hand, I have already witnessed the fall of many idols and good bands.

How is your determination to grow with the bands you listened to in your youth reflected in Metalegion Magazine?
Despite being an effort of all contributors and open to suggestions, I guess my musical taste is fully reflected in Metalegion. I grew up listening mostly to death, thrash and black metal, so it will be primarily those styles featured on the magazine. But I also like less common music, that’s why if you check our first issue you will see Lamia Vox featured, which is a Russian dark ambient music project that completely overwhelmed me with their 2013 album “Sigillum Diaboli”.

Who is on the staff of Metalegion Magazine? How long did it take to put a staff together in the beginning?
We have staff from all corners of the world; USA, Germany and Canada to Eslovenia and Chile to name a few. The staff are mostly are into reviews, interviews, articles, live reports and that kind of stuff. It has been a growing and developing process, and we are all doing this just for the passion of giving opinions about metal. We all have full or part time jobs, some even attend universities. I guess it’s a constant struggle to find the time to spend on Metalegion and in the end I’m truly grateful to all of them.

Name some of the staff from different countries and describe their responsibilities. How do you balance producing the magazine with your personal lives?
Let’s see, I’m going to stand out just a few. We have contributors from Germany, like Estelle and Felix. Estelle is an enthusiastic metalhead, she currently produces entertaining interviews and some reviews, Felix is mostly into reviewing releases and has a long metal background. We have Rodrigo from Chile who also contributed in the past to a Chilean magazine, and handles reviews. From the USA we have a couple of fundamental writers, like Jeff who interviewed Immolation and Mortem in a past issue. Arjun mainly reviews, Cult is literally a Swiss knife always willing to help. Currently working on China, but originally from the UK we have Edmund, also full of ideas and besides doing interviews and reviews just started the crucial role of reviewing the texts. Nenad from Eslovenia who always meets deadlines no matter how big his task is. We all have problems; we are regular people with full or part-time jobs, kids, wives or taking degrees in university or whatever. I guess what drives us all is our passion for metal, nevertheless our personal lives should always be a priority. It’s not easy to balance everything when you have a full time job and kids to raise like some of us have, this means many hours per week with just a few hours of sleep.

Did distribution of the magazine grow from its first issue to its latest issue?
I haven’t been running Metalegion for that long, just a couple of years. It started around 2015 and things have slowly progressed from there. We are currently working on our third issue and focused on delivering three issues per year. Let’s see what 2018 brings to us. We are still building a strong and reliable distribution network and using social media also to grab the fans attention.

Are you looking for labels or distros to help distribute Metalegion outside your country?
I see Metalegion as an international magazine that can and should be read by fans from all corners of the world. The decision to write in English is based on that concept, English is a global language and nowadays everybody speaks at least a little, it’s a bit like music, universal.

Have you made contact with anyone who would be interested in helping distribute the magazine?
The magazine is being spread in countries like Malaysia, Mexico, Spain, France and USA to state just a few. Nevertheless, the metal scene is so extensive I feel we need all the help we can get. The more the better. We are always looking for either small distros or exclusive distribution deals. The problem with distributors is, when buying small quantities they will face expensive shipping rates because we are talking about a magazine that has more than 90 pages with a sampler CD. Even so, we are having so much support from the fans and a large chunk of sales are direct sales to fans across the globe.

How do you advertise for staff writers? Do you print announcements or contact people through email and social media?
We have a constant post on our website where people can apply. When I sometimes find really talented people that might be suitable for the job I got in touch directly. The internet is full of hardworking fans with the passion we all have. But it’s not an easy task I must state, because in the end it’s all about hard work and to spend your time writing. We all have jobs, universities, kids or whatever, and finding the right people with free time and willing to contribute isn’t always easy.

What is your approach to interviewing? How do you decide on bands to interview?
Interviews are usually based on the latest release of a band. The selection of bands to be featured on the magazine depends solely on the impact a specific release had on me. Usually when making interviews I try to focus the conversation around their latest release, for obvious reasons, as well as exploring some interesting aspects that the musician might reveal during or chat. Sometimes we must “read between the lines”… if you want to have some exclusive statements but it’s not always an easy task I must confess.

Do you approach bands for interviews or are you approached by bands? How often do you find something particularly interesting interviewing?
I usually approach bands I like after hearing their releases but I’m also approached, not only for interviews, but also reviews or some sort of feature on the magazine. Of course it’s impossible to feature everything I like, or believe deserves to be highlighted. With reviews now, everything is supplied digitally and I guess I can speak for everybody in the media world. Magazines are flooded with those submissions. Nowadays bands or labels can simply upload their work on the internet and spread it to magazines at a smaller cost or none whatsoever. I can’t imagine the 80’s when vinyl promos had to be shipped worldwide by labels, the massive cost that an operation of that kind would be.
People with a connection with Metal usually like to talk about it, whether it’s a band, zine editor or a cover artist for instance. I always try to take something from each interview, of course there are people that like to expand their answers and bring precious curiosities to an interview while others simply stick with basic replies. When you have to answer questions all day; and this happens to more known bands, you will most likely end up not being stimulated by journalists when the same questions are asked over and over.

Do you make an effort to write questions unique to your interviewees, that other zine editors don’t usually think of?
I always try to do homework before an interview. Interviews with established bands are probably easier because there usually are more topics or curiosities to talk about. Even though we are talking about music and it’s impossible to not go around the same topics, you can have a different approach to the same themes. But in the end if the interview is centered on a new release you will have similar answers.

What bands provided the magazine with the most engaging interviews? What were their most interesting aspects?
That’s a hard one… In our latest issue we had for instance Rolf from Running Wild expanding the topic about how the band started, his passion for pirates and the topics of some songs. Immolation was a great feature, having Ross Dolan unveiling their latest album “Atonement” and showing some of their social and political concerns. John from Devourer gave also a very honest and down to earth interview where we talked about his drug addiction and how he was compelled by the Swedish authorities to get clean… There are too many to mention…

What sort of information do you think is important for your readers to be exposed to?
I guess everybody is seeking different things. Some want to discover new bands; the sampler CD and the review section might be the best place. Others love to discover all types of detail about a specific band, things that they didn’t know about or just information about their upcoming or latest album. I don’t think there is a pattern.

Do you interview zine editors as much as you interview bands? How many zines have you supported through Metalegion?
I’m actually thinking about it for an upcoming issue of the magazine. There are several possibilities but at the moment I’m not going to reveal anything. I’m trying to broaden the focus on the magazine and not solely feature band interviews, but have other features and interviews with all sorts of people connected to the scene. This is truly a possibility for the future.

Do graphic artists contribute their work to the magazine? Or are you seeking any?
We currently don’t have anyone assigned for that task as until now it has not been necessary. But I feel some opportunities may appear, especially because we always want to develop and insert different content and that might do the job. Do you know anyone that might want to contribute? (laughs).

What bands have you included on sampler CDs? Have any been discovered through the magazine?
We have just done one sampler CD so far. Nevertheless, this was one of the developments we wanted to introduce for the magazine. It was only accomplished in the previous issue, which is still an enormous deed considering we have released two issues. I guess it is still too soon for this to happen. Most bands featured on the CD already had record deals, so most of them were already “discovered”. Our first sampler featured songs from Devourer, Desert Near The End, Stormzone, Septik Onslaught, Wacht, The Hole, Cranial Carnage, Bloodphemy and Cauterization to name a few.

Who are you planning to feature in the next issue of Metalegion? How soon do you expect it to be released?
We are actually working on it and it’s scheduled to be released in late April or early May. I don’t want to divulge any names yet, but I can say that it’s an issue packed with both mainstream and underground bands, mostly of more extreme metal styles.

Would you like Portuguese extreme metal to become more well known across the world? Would you ever consider an exclusive feature on the scene in Portugal?
I guess it’s the desire of everyone involved in the Portuguese scene. We are a small country so I’m not sure how big things can turn out. Perhaps if we had other well-known bands on the same level as Moonspell for instance things would grow faster/ Still we have quite a few bigger names signed with cult labels like Osmose Productions or Folter Records: Corpus Christii, Filii Nigrantium Infernalium or The Ominous Circle for instance. We also have Decayed, Sacred Sin, Ramp, Tarantula and Grog to state a few who have been around for quite some time. Thanks to the effort of a few individuals, we have good bands visiting our country quite often nowadays, and gigs spread all around our country not to mention bigger and better festivals, like SWR Barroselas Metalfest, Moita metal fest, Santa Maria Summer Fest, XXXapada na Tromba or Vagos Metal fest. Probably things would become bigger if the Portuguese had a stronger economy similar to other European countries where people would get fair wages, giving them the possibility to spend money on records, gigs, magazines or whatever. And exclusive feature on the Portuguese scene is also on the table for coming issues, we will see what the future unveils.

Would you also like Metalegion to be more directly involved in Portuguese metal fests?
For now, I’m focused solely on the magazine and trying to push things further, content wise. Nevertheless, I see Metalegion as an international magazine available to worldwide fans. That’s probably why our focus is not on a specific scene or country. Still I try to support and be involved even if sometimes it’s just like any metal fan, by buying tickets and spreading word.

If Metalegion became a major publication like Terrorizer and Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, would you feel fulfilled as an editor?
Sure why not?! Even if we are trying to carve our own path. I’ve been following Terrorizer since probably their first issues from 1994-1995. Despite not buying it very frequently nowadays, it’s one of those magazines I witnessed the development and perseverance of since I had a subscription back then. Their selection of bands nowadays might not appeal to everyone but the truth is, they are one of the longest running printed magazines that are still active, and that should mean something. I have a few old issues of BW&BK; those magazines contributed to the development of the scene. But I still believe BW&BK is nowadays only an online magazine, right? I definitely have many references from the mainstream and underground sides of media and Metalegion might be se blending both worlds. Let’s see what the future reserves for us…


-Dave Wolff