Fourteen Metal/Black Metal Favorites @ Amoeba Music
1) Deathspell Omega Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum: Chaining The Katechon (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
2) Horna Sanojesi Aarelle (Debemur Morti)
3) Old Wainds Death Nord Kult (Debemur Morti)
4) Darkthrone Dark Thrones & Black Flags (Peaceville)
5) Ofermod Tiamtu (Norma Evangelium Diaboli)
6) Bahimiron Southern Nihilizm (Moribund Records)
7) Satyricon Age Of Nero (Koch Records)
8) Taake Taake (Century Media)
9) Cattle Decapitation The Harvest Floor (Metal Blade)
10) Khold Hundre ar gammal (Candlelight Records)
11) Capricorns River, Bear Your Bones (Rise Above Records)
12) Enslaved Vertabrae (Nuclear Blast)
13) Cannibal Corpse Evisceration Plague (Metal Blade)
14) Cynic Traced in Air (Season Of Mist)
The above list of fourteen metal/black metal releases (not in any particular order) popular with Amoeba folks is culled from the current Spring/Summer 2009 Music We Like booklet regularly published by Amoeba Music and available for free at each Amoeba Music store. The first listed release, Veritas Diaboli Manet in Aeternum: Chaining the Katechon, is a split EP by French bands released December 2008. The title Veritas Diabolo Manet in Aeternum is a work of two French black metal bands: Deathspell Omega (Chaining the Katechon) and S.V.E.S.T. (Le Diable est ma Raison).
For whatever reason Europe seems to have produced an unusually large proportion of all the black metal groups out there. The second release on the list above is no exception. Finland's Horna are one of Scandinavia's finest black metal bands. Since forming back in the early '90's they have consistantly produced some killer music including their late 2008 album Sanojesi Aarelle on Debemur Morti Productions. Other popular metal acts at Amoeba include Norway's Enslaved and their 2008 album Vertabrae on Nuclear Blast, and Cattle Decapitation's Metal Blade release The Harvest Floor. See the video of the album track "Regret & The Grave" by the fine San Diego band from this 2009 release below.
Cattle Decapitation "Regret & The Grave" from Metal Blade album The Harvest Floor
Formed six years ago, Ohio band Skeletonwitch specialize in death/black/speed/thrash metal, although they disdain labels, and have built a strong following for their melodic take on this dark style of metal. Comprised of Nate Garnett (guitar), Scott Hedrick (guitar), Chance Garnett (vocals), Derrick Nau (drums), and Evan Linger (bass), the group are currently up in Seattle finishing up work on their next album and preparing to kick off a 16-date July US tour along with Saviours and Trap Them, with the first date in Seattle coming up in a few days. The tour arrives in the Bay Area this coming weekend for two shows and the following week in Los Angeles and Southern Cali for several more.
Late last night, after wrapping up a mixing session in the Seattle, WA studio, I caught up with the band's guitarist Scott Hedrick to ask him about his band, the Ohio scene, the state of heavy metal, particularly black metal in 2009, and what to expect at Skeletonwitch's upcoming tour. Here is the Amoeblog interview.
Amoeblog: What's going on with the new tour and the studio sessions up in Seattle?
Scott Hedrick: The tour kicks off this Thursday, the 9th, in Seattle. We've spent the last couple of weeks in Seattle recording our new album Breathing the Fire with Jack Endino. It will be released in mid-October.
Amoeblog: Your style is sort of a new spin on the traditional dark metal, right? How would you describe what makes Skeletonwitch unique?
Scott Hedrick: We just play what we like and don't worry about terms or labels. When we do a black metal tour we're referred to as "Black Metal Band Skeletonwitch." Then when we toured with Dying Fetus, we were known as "Death Metal Band Skeletonwitch." To paraphrase an old Motorhead quote,"Thing-metal, trash can-metal, what's-it metal...it's all really rock'n roll!"
Amoeblog: For someone like myself, who knows little about Ohio, how important was Athens, OH to the formation of your group? I have heard that there are lots of dark and heavy groups coming out of Ohio.
Scott Hedrick: Athens is your stereotypical liberal college town, which means that there are a lot of supporters of music and the arts in general. You often see the same people at punk shows, bluegrass shows, metal shows and indie/garage rock shows. So Athens is important in the support that is provided. When we started there really wasn't a "larger" or "more successful" metal band to follow. We just loved playing metal.
Amoeblog: Some members of Skeletonwitch were in other groups before you guys formed, right?
Scott Hedrick: Nate was in another metal metal band, Serkesoron, and Derrick, our drummer, was in a punk/hardcore band called We March.
Amoeblog: Why do you think that black metal, while incredibly popular on an underground level with so many different groups out there actively making music and touring like yourselves, remains below the radar?
Scott Hedrick: I guess some things are meant to stay underground, though that also depends on what your definition of below the radar is. Your standard metal fare isn't exactly calculated toward the masses, so you have to be digging a little deeper to get into black metal.
Amoeblog: Is death metal by its very nature designed to stay underground and feared by parents?
Scott Hedrick: Have you seen the cover of [Cannibal Corpse's] Butchered at Birth? It's part of the appeal.
Amoeblog: How are the two other groups on tour with you?
Scott Hedrick: We are already friends with both bands. It's much more exciting to have a diverse line up and it's even better when those bands are good dudes and aren't scared to party.
Amoeblog: What can people in the Bay Area or Southern Cali expect at your upcoming shows this week and next week?
Scott Hedrick: Amps and hair. Also some drums and evil.*
Amoeblog: Anything you wish to add?
Scott Hedrick: Thanks to everyone who has supported Skeletonwitch in any way. It's truly appreciated. Check out our new album, Breathing the Fire, due out in October!!
Skeletonwitch, Saviours, Trap Them, along with Parasitic Skies and Unrestrained (this date only) play 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley on Saturday, July 11th. 7:30pm door. All ages. $10.
Skeletonwitch, Saviours, and Trap Them play at Thee Parkside at 1600 17th Street in San Francisco on Sunday, July 12th at 8pm. All ages. $10.
All three bands will play the at the Downtown Brew in San Luis Obispo on July 13th, at the Knitting Factory in LA on July 16th, and at Che Cafe in San Diego on July 17th. For full current US tour listings and other info on the band, hit up Skeletonwitch's MySpace.
Skeletonwitch "Beyond the Permafrost" live @ Mojo 13 in Wilmington, Delaware, July 2008.
And finally, I leave you with this Monday's metal headbanging air guitar clip of the week. Titled Headbanging while making fire and originally posted last year by Canadian YouTuber esy87, the clip was recorded at Algonquin Park by the lake with the two participants hearing the inaudible metal music coming from a headset close to the pair but out of range of the camera mic. esy87 writes in the video description that, "For natural perservation of the vid we didn't edit it to put the song on it, but for ppl interested it was 'Decade of Therion' from Behemoth." The video for this song is also included below, should you care to beat match it with the air-guitar version.
Metal Headbanger/Air-Guitar Clip Of The Week
Behemoth - "Decade of Therion"