Monday, December 15, 2008

Gestalt

My journey through Scandinavia is coming to a close. It was memorable, to say the least. At this point it is easier to let the photos tell the story.


The owner's identity should be obvious - Oslo, Dec.2.08

Neseblod Records, Oslo, Dec.3.08

Watain - Uppsala, Dec.6.08

KK of Destroyer 666 at Necromorbus Studio, Dec.7.08

Pantheon I rehearsal, Dec.9.08

Proper use for a church - Dante's Metal Bar, Helsinki, Dec.13.08

Antti Boman - Helsinki, Dec.14.08

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Early Mourning


I smell. I smell like zombie vomit. I smell like I shit my pants and then died. I smell like Watain. The creeping red odor of the bunker has attached itself to my hair, skin, clothes, and everything else I own. I'm not sure if Ravn will let me back into his place when I return to Oslo. I made my bed and agreed to lay in it, but I really cannot believe how bad I smell right now. It's the worst I've ever smelled in my life. Everyone who caught a whiff of me on the city train reacted with distaste or upset and some confusion as to the odor's origin. Someone had a dog on there and it wouldn't leave me alone. I have become an unwitting harbinger of Watain in my journey to Uppsala; I am now their stench-bearer and I leave a trail of olfactory evil behind me. I have to admit that being caught in this miasma has been giving me alternate waves of amusement and an unease that could pave the way to panic. I think this is the true nature of death – alternately absurd and terrifying in equal measures. People on this train car are starting to freak out. Good thing I'm getting off.

Now at the central station. I tried to look around for some dryer sheets, Febreez, or something else to stem the putrescence but the grocery stores here don't seem to carry anything like that. I hope I don't get kicked off the train. I am actually feeling a bit self-conscious; back home, this would be totally hilarious but here I feel like a scumbag amongst all these well-dressed and well-bred people. Even the Mcdonald's servers are slender blond angels sent from Heaven to serve us our Big Macs.

Maybe this is part of what motivates Watain; they come from a place where everyone is shiny, groomed, and good-looking, and they factor that into their rejection of the world at large. To be an odious freak in America is commonplace, but here it is a statement. All I know is that they are the antithesis of what I see in the people of Sweden.

5pm. I got a nice hotel room up the street from the venue and took a shower. I couldn't take it any more. I also got a bottle of Oust and sprayed it liberally on my clothes. The thermals are toast. I have to rinse them out. I have another clean shirt but that's it. We'll see if the Indian restaurant across the street can stand me. The show starts in 3 hours. It promises to be great and insane, and I am looking forward to seeing a lot of friends. More tomorrow.

To Sleep With Evil


Friday, 12.5.08, Watain bunker, Stockholm – It smells bad down here. Really bad. Watain is gearing up for their 10th anniversary show tomorrow and they are stepping up the offal to match the occasion. They removed most of the actual offending pieces, but there's still a lot of grue-covered skulls everywhere, and there is no real ventilation at all. Erik warned me that he woke up vomiting this morning but I decided to stay here anyway. I am tired of moving from place to place for the moment and I have been supplied with a comfortable bed so it is fine for now. This is a special day for Watain and since they went so far as to include me I might as well embrace the entire experience from start to finish. Maybe I'll wake up to a breakfast of vomit myself, but so far so good. I will breathe deep of death and see where it takes me in my sleep tonight.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Belfast Outrage

Teloch is sneaky with the camera. So much the better.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Simulacrum

Recent remnants:

Wrath - Austin, Tx, 10.11.08


Sanguine has a drink - London, 11.1.08

Gaahl sends the horns, Newport 11.22.08

Read this to summon Cthulhu.

Today's Black Metal concert comes with a salad and soup of the day.

King ov Hell - Birmingham, 11.30.08

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Londone


Late on this; I spent the last day getting settled in here in Oslo. London was a long day but proved to be a good time. We got into town from Birmingham late Saturday night and then were out to Camden Town by noon. This wasn't really ideal as we ended up having to stash our gear and sit on it at the Camden Underworld for almost four hours. Sanguine and I took turns watching the pile of bags and guitars. When I ventured out I mostly saw endless stores piled high with vinyl trenchcoats, pre-fab punk gear, and New Rock boots. Anyone looking to pose out on short notice would be all set in this neighborhood. The street market was actually quite an experience with exotic cuisines served by every stripe of Asian mainlander imaginable. The gray and rain did much to reinforce the Blade Runner feeling of it all. Eventually we were met by Paul of Arcane Productions and trekked down to the Purple Turtle. It was a longer walk than we expected, and it meant having to set down our gear and rest periodically, which was sort of comical (in retrospect). The venue was a nice place and the opening bands of Niroth, Eastern Front, and Skaldic Curse were all agreeable. We ended up with 75 people in attendance, which was to our satisfaction considering Satyricon played two nights before and the Cradle of Filth/Gorgoroth show was the next evening. We played well and even ran into a couple of people we met at the Arnhem Metal Meeting exactly a year before. It was a fine way to close the tour. Sanguine and I stayed at a hostel down the street and were kept awake by another guest who moaned and talked in his sleep. Irritating to say the least. We parted ways at the tube station and I went to the airport to go to Oslo. The weird and funny part of that ride was that there were (predictably) many Norwegians on the flight. It was general seating and while I was in the 3rd row by myself I was categorically avoided. They wouldn't even look at me. I can't know for certain but I was still dressed in tour mode and it seemed like they knew what I was about. Either way, I got the extra space.

Ravn and Seidemann of 1349 are graciously hosting me during my time in Norway and I then I will go to Stockholm for Watain's 10th anniversary show at week's end. There may be no time for further entries but some additional photos will be forthcoming. Thanks to all who came to the shows and to Gorgoroth and their outstanding crew. We will return to finish the job on the mainland dates as soon as we can.


In Longing Spirit


Oof. I am tired. I was up until 7am talking with Gaahl. He kept pouring me wine through the course of our conversation and I ended up drinking a lot more than I had planned (which started out as not at all). Gaahl was very complimentary to Sanguine about his vocal performance last night, and King pointed out that these sorts of compliments were rare. It was nice to hear his efforts praised in that fashion. I finally slept and had a lot of weird dreams and woke up at 1:30pm feeling very unrested. Birmingham is a tough looking city and it was again cold and wet when we arrived. The venue was called The Asylum and it was actually a really nice place with an adjoining rehearsal space building that set us up with coffee, tea, and a place to hang out for a little while. The show felt very anti-climactic in a lot of ways; it was nothing compared to the raw electricity of Leeds the night before, and the turn-out was not as big. It was the standard 100 heads, give or take, but the room was large and it made the crowd seem thin. We played a razor-sharp set to a moderately good response, a lot of people were taking photos. When Gorgoroth went on the room ignited and they owned the crowd from beginning to end. It was a good time. Then came the part we always hate- the farewells. We had just gotten to know this band and its crew, all of whom we enjoyed thoroughly. There was the shared sentiment that it was too soon for us to leave and that it felt strange that we would not continue with them on their tour with Cradle of Filth. Once again, I am pleased to say that this tour, while short, was another great experience for AVRS. We presented well on all fronts and made a lot of new friends in the process. As I have affirmed many times before, I wouldn't trade this for anything.

Coda- we received a lot of email leading up to this tour regarding our opinions of Gorgoroth and Gaahl. While I still decline to comment on any of that directly, I will say that Gaahl, King, and the band as a whole were professional, dedicated, and they treated us with respect and esteem. We are not taking sides on their legal situation, but it would be very disingenuous of me to say that we did not enjoy our time on the road. If we have the chance, we will appear with them again regardless of the disputed name.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

If It's Leeds, We Can Kill It


There was nothing to indicate that tonight's show was going to be anything other than a nightmare. It was mean cold from the time of our arrival and the club management at Rio's were real scumbags and basically attempted to extort money from the tour package for standard amenities. They didn't have anyone present to help cart all the gear up the stairs and they jerked us around about just about everything. Combined with another night of low presales, we weren't looking forward to the show in any respect. Gorgoroth had a lot of problems with sound check so the whole show started almost an hour late and we all had to cut our sets shorter. Rio's is one of those clubs that turns into a disco room the minute the live show is over, so we had a tight cut off time. We were feeling hurried and reticent to face what we expected would be a thin audience. Imagine my surprise when we marched out on stage to a full house. We ended up bashing out a superb set and the crowd carried our energy with no reservations. It was brilliant, plain and simple. Gaahl said that he enjoyed the particularly angry sound we had tonight. I cannot count the times we came into a situation like this where we were expecting nothing but letdowns and it turned into an excellent evening. All the same, it's not a lot of fun getting to that point. Gorgoroth went over huge but due to the time constraints of the club they had to play a truncated set. This went over badly with some punters in attendance and they gathered outside in an angry cluster demanding answers. They finally realized Gorgoroth wasn't about to answer for it and took off.Take it up with Rio's, kiddos. We're in the center of a large club district so I wandered up the street and ended up being stopped here and there by random folks who wanted to quiz me about where I was from and the like. I'm always wary in places like this; it's hard to tell if it is a ruse for a mugging or some other hooliganism. I ended up getting some of the most disgusting kebab ever and then hung out on the icy bus with various band personnel. It was not an easy night, but it was a good one in the end.


PS We ended up trapped in front of the venue by a car parked to close to the bus' front end. Iain of Artisian and The Carcass went out and tried to wrench it out of the way. The fact that they even managed to hoist it on their own was impressive. It still didn't grant us passage but finally the bemused owner showed up to move it. Not a moment too soon. This bus is getting pretty zoological with drunks now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Alive With Utter Contempt

Newport was a more of what I was expecting from Nottingham in terms of grime and drabness. The swampy rain didn't help things much, and I broke my promise to myself regarding going to sleep earlier as it was King's birthday and we ended staying up and listening to the brand new unfinished Gorgoroth album. So after a night of uneven sleep and anxious tour-related nightmares I woke up feeling pretty rotten. Fortunately there was a very good cafe next to the venue with a wide array of food. The Carcass, King, and I all had chocolate shakes. The backstage was truly weird- it was up two flights of stairs that looked like a set up for a Chevy Chase pratfall; the staircase was utterly dark until the second landing was reached at which time a motion sensitive light came on. I was expecting someone to fall in the course of the night but it didn't happen. The stairs led to a rooftop patio that was covered in a mess of tarps that recalled “28 Days Later” (much like the town itself), and then led into a second floor kitchen and sitting room. the whole place struck me like a squat. It was musty and cold. There was also an unattended dark bedroom on the third floor that had no working light and seemed to resonate with some sort of unnameable menace. I stepped into the center of the room, closed my eyes, and was overtaken by a dark vibration that made the floor seem to shift and gave me vertigo. I stumbled out with a terrible nausea that did not abate until I made it back down to the kitchen. No vacancy.

The turnout was actually just fine despite the low presales. I wish I could say the same about our set. I don't like to be one of those musicians who forever bemoans performances but in this case we had a hard time in large part due to the overloud drum monitor. The Carcass couldn't hear anything because his ear was being blasted apart by the volume so we had a few moments where we felt completely lost in the weeds. The audience wasn't bothered by it so in the end it mattered little. We signed a few posters and met even more adherents of “Homecoming's March”. It seems we need to think about reincorporating some of those songs back into our set. Gorgoroth was good tonight, but they remain pretty consistent from one night to the next. Back on the bus now. Everyone has their laptops out because we're still getting a signal from the club. Sleeping soon- the jet lag doesn't want to let go.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Knotted Ham


Despite the descriptions of Nottingham being a post-nuclear version of Sao Paulo populated exclusively by chuds, I found the city center to be vibrant and well-appointed. I wish more American cities had town squares flanked with venerable buildings; it is a great way to get an impression of a place. The Rock Bar was actually a huge and good-looking establishment with I think 3 venues of various sizes inside. There were service tunnels and hallways that connected everything so it was easy to move around from room to room. The attendance for the show was actually just fine- over 100 people. However, they were one of those odd crowds that mostly stand there and stare and then give a cheer at the end of each song as if there was a lit “applause” sign on the wall. No matter- they were all up front and watched us play a good set so it is not as if our time was wasted. I am not staying up until morning again tonight. It's hard not to want to stay up in the front of the bus and talk to Gaahl. His life has been interesting to say the least. The Carcass seems to be completely healthy again, which gives us all the idea that something in his house is the cause of his illness. He'll have a lot of investigating to do when he gets home. We have our London transportation secured so finally I can stop making frantic phone calls and emails. We did not want to have to spend the night in a train station with a pile of gear. My lower back is on fire. My bunk and I cannot reach accord for whatever reason and I awaken with knots in my spine that show me no quarter come show time or load out.

Redeemed

Glasgow turned out to be a great show. We ended up doing “Vomitorium Angelis” with no vocals due to a technical issue with the microphone but then went on to play an otherwise vicious set to a very good crowd. This was a well-needed win on our part. The first three shows are usually somewhat hectic for us because we are still warming to our set and there are so many new variables to absorb. This club should have been called Sweaty's Room of Sticky and Wet Surfaces; loading out was gross. In any case, I was glad for tonight. We enjoyed having the people of Glasgow yelling at us instead of nearby us. It seems like the 3-day doldrums are just a fact of life at the start of any tour, but I'm glad they are behind us.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Scottish Hell (?)

We got across on the ferry to Scotland with no trouble. Leading up to that Sanguine, Paul of Zeb Crowe and I stayed up until 6am talking with Gaahl again. He has a sage and almost shamanic countenance that make time slip by in the course of the conversation. I am starting to realize why bands on tour tend to drink so much- there are intervals where everyone is packed on the bus for hours at a time with nowhere to go and the imperative to keep one's wits drops to nothing. I'm fine with good conversation and sleep myself. The brakes on the bus weren't working right so we ended up in a garage to have them adjusted. We grabbed a dubious burger at a neighboring stand served by a friendly Scotsman and now we are headed in to Glasgow to park at the club. The sun went down at 3:45pm so I guess I have a lot more of that to anticipate in Scandinavia. I think I'm still on a US sleeping schedule so I'll have to break it once I hit Oslo. Now in Glasgow - Merel, Garguf, Sanguine, and I decided to check out the city and have some dinner. It was a good time out and nice to have a chance to walk around. This seems like a nice city, though I'm told Edinburgh is even better. It definitely has more of a pulse compared to the post-combat austerity of Belfast. This tour is a sacrifice for us in some ways in that there is very little money in it. We are glad for the opportunity and experience of it all but this type of outing is not without its challenges and the price of even simple sundries is really expensive at the moment.

Now- stayed near the bus all night. People in Glasgow tend to yell a lot. Gaahl drank four bottles of champagne and six tall cans of beer and was still standing. We're in the club in Glasgow now, no idea how it will go. I had to rearrange our passage to London and it is kind of a mess at the moment. The uncertainty is unwelcome.

Protest and Survive


Belfast turned out to be a good show despite the disgusting wet weather. I came into the venue desperate for food and Jennifer the promoter was kind enough to drive me into town to McDonald's (this is desperation in a nutshell). On the way in she pointed out many sites of “the troubles” in Belfast and as we arrive in the city center I learned that the main open air market used to have armed guards and security checkpoints just to go shopping. The tension of those years was not evident as I went in to order food, but it is hard to imagine living like that for any reason, much less because of internecine Christian fanaticism. Speaking of which, we did indeed see the promised protesters with their signs and bullhorns across the street from the venue. I went out to take a photo but the promoters asked me not to engage them in any fashion. I was disappointed, but I supposed it did seem ill-advised to stir up that kind of craziness. Luckily Teloch was sneakier than I and got a shot of them. They sang, they chanted, they prayed, and then they vanished in the painfully cold rain. It seemed that God had better things to do tonight. This was underlined by the fact that as one of the congregation attempted to leave on his bike he completely wiped out on the wet pavement.

The show itself was well-attended, we were well received, and our sound and performance was easily the best so far. Gorgoroth had a good night too, but we were all surprised at the lack of sales despite all the positive response. The rest of the evening went smoothly and we're once again ensconced on the bus and hanging out. We have a day off tomorrow in order to ferry the bus to Scotland. It is just as well, as a Monday night show in Glasgow sounds like an abysmal proposition. Truth be told, our tour manager Jay advised that while the Ireland shows had strong presales the UK dates are pretty soft thus far. I hope that doesn't remain the case as the only thing worse than playing total shitholes (as I have been warned is the case) is playing empty total shitholes.


Later - a friend of the opening band Zebadiah Crowe helped us load out and for his trouble managed to slash his thumb wide open. He was taken onto the bus and Gaahl ended up attending to him with bandages and black pepper. I think it made the kid's night to have the front man of Gorgoroth serving as the attending physician. On to Scotland tomorrow. Posting is hard to do at the moment so it looks like I will be a day behind going forward.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wine and Death


Cork was more locked in than Dublin. We were playing a much smaller venue with a smaller stage, but this inevitably suits us much better. I don't know why this is the case, but so be it. I slept pretty terribly. The bus bunks are actually something to get used to (they are much like coffins), and a water bottle in mine ended up leaking on my bed in the night and I woke to a cold dampness that left me uncomfortable. Before the show started we endeavored to put up our banner, which ended up meaning we had to get Gorgoroth's banner first. The stage was small and the only ladder was like something out of the Flintstones. It was a struggle but finally they went up. We dragged our banner across the ocean so we might as well use it. We sold a fair amount of merchandise and this time we started later and had more time to properly prepare so the stress levels were far less. The set was good I suppose; about halfway through The Carcass had no monitors and we ended up getting severely lost in the middle of 'Serpent Recoil' and mangling it beyond recognition. The crowd was forgiving, however, and we ended up finishing well despite flying without radar. One guy came over and said he found out about us because Ross of Immolation wore our shirt on the new Cannibal Corpse DVD. That's another one we owe him. Gorgoroth was of course well-liked and I had to laugh when the audience chanted “GAR-GER-OTH! GAR-GER-OTH!” in true Irish glory.

Afterwards, it got claustrophobic and hectic as the backstage room got jammed up with fans and promoter friends. Ultimately I went ahead and took a shower in the adjoining bathroom and for a moment I was away in the temple of my head again. This district is full of chavs and we were accosted by a couple who blathered to us about copping drugs. We remained aloof and they moved on. Horrid people. Not much else of interest happened as of this writing. We're on the bus and will remain so until morning. There's a lot of intermittent shouting along this street, and I want no part of it. It seems knifey and stabby around here and the only people I want to talk to are in here anyway. The lack of wireless access is irritating though.

Sanguine and I stayed up late talking with Gaahl. He is a wine connoisseur and discussed the fine points of wine making and matching wine to meals. We also got into talking about how paganism and Satanism reconcile and the traditions of death in Viking culture. Morning now (or 1pm actually), and we are in Belfast. Apparently the concert was mentioned on the local news and much was made about the tour package's lack of Christian convictions. Belfast is the home of religious violence for Europe, and while their rage between each other seems to have quieted as of late we could easily serve as a common enemy. We'll find out soon enough.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Into the Black Pool

The stakes of this tour are already higher than usual. The Carcass has been fighting a persistent and grievous intestinal infection that has plagued him since before we performed in Los Angeles (which, if you refer back, was not all that recently). We weren't even sure if he was going to be able to board the plane, as a visit to the emergency room seemed possible. This problem seems to hit him in waves; he will feel fine then awful, then fine again. The vector is still unknown but it does not seem to be contagious as no one around him is sick. Suffice it to say this is of great concern to us. I think he will be able to perform with no problem as our sets are short, but it is not a good tiding for the start of a tour.
We stayed with Darragh Invictus and Alan of Primordial's house. They set us up well in the den and we ended up sleeping the better part of yesterday away. Darragh took us into town for a drink and then I tried to eat a Shepherd's pie in a hurry and scorched the inside of my mouth. We got back and stayed up late with Alan and talked about the fading health of metal and its implications. The exchange rate for us is already proving to be murderous, Effectively we have to operate on a standard where everything costs double and just in cab transport from the airport and to the venue we have been all but skinned alive. Tonight we will be on the bus and the plan is to avoid any extra expenditures until tour's end. I will still have two weeks vacation in Scandinavia post tour and I must conserve funds as much as possible. Still, it was frustrating to go to two record stores here in Dublin and not really even be able to look at anything due to the cost. A Brazilian friend Tiago is currently living in Dublin and he took us around a bit.. It is great to see him and as of tonight he will be the first person to see us perform on three continents. Right now we're at the venue. The Carcass is sleeping and Sanguine and I are getting ready for a sound check. The Gorgoroth crew seems accommodating and I expect we'll all get along well. My right knee has been inflamed and all the stairs here at the Button Factory are not offering any help. Am I the only one who feels anxious the first night of a tour? We've done this enough times now but it never changes. I tend to overthink the details and get caught up in minutia. I supposed it is better than being caught unprepared, but still I'd like to be able to breathe easier. I'm sure that will come about two days from the end.
Later- the show went well overall. The whole thing started ridiculously early so we felt a bit hurried putting on our gear. We got the usual reaction from the crowd where they were attentive but mostly new to us so they mostly stood up front and stared. Still, it was not a bad show by any means. The Carcass did fine and the set itself was solid. We thankfully sold a respectable amount of merchandise which will help us keep moving in the days ahead. After our set we were met by a guy who had been a fan of ours since our proper inception. He pulled up his shirt to display his dedication:
It is very difficult to explain what it means to know that your work reached someone so completely that he wants to carry it around for the rest of his life. The photo speaks for itself but it goes without saying we were honored. Homecoming's March has left its stain. 
Edit: 4/2/10 - I usually never do this, but I don't want to forget it one day: The back stage at the Button Factory was underneath the main room and it had a bathroom that was directly one floor below the stage. It was a unique experience to shower while Gorgoroth performed a song from Pentagram right over my head. This is the kind of experience only a tour can offer.
Now- in a truck stop outside of Dublin with Gaahl and the Gorgoroth guitarists. The bus is very nice and a novel experience for us as until now we have always used vans (or planes) to get around. We're already enjoying the band's company; it's a good sign when you're having a laugh with people you met only hours before.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Carnage in the Temple of the Damned


"Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off--then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball." - Herman Melville, Moby Dick

I am pleased to be unfettered once more. No obligations except the days ahead, which even at their most trying moments will outshine any day of prosaic "real life" that remains difficult to escape altogether.

The Jonestown mass suicide happened 30 years ago today. Pity that such events are so infrequent. Reverend Jones had it all figured out - make yourself God and then slay the faithful. It is straight out of the Septuagint. Soon we will bring the same threats of fire and damnation to many new congregations, but there will be no salvation.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Exhibit A

Averse Sefira - live in Austin Oct.11.08

Thanks to Head ov Metal for the images.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

ADESTE FIDELIS - Live in TX/UK

Two more propaganda pieces:


Saturday, October 11th
AVERSE SEFIRA
HOD
NODENS
Bat Castle,
Mortality

Room 710- Austin, Tx.


This is the last US show for Averse Sefira in 2008. This will also be the last Texas show for many moons, so to everyone local who asked when the band is playing again- THIS IS IT. Come witness a blistering lineup replete with AVRS as the worship-made-weapon, whetted and deadly in anticipation of their tour with Gorgoroth!

Also...
Sunday, November 30th
Arcane Promotions presents:
AVERSE SEFIRA
Skaldic Curse
Eastern Front
Niroth
The Purple Turtle- Camden, London UK
Tickets are on sale now through Ticketweb.uk



Thursday, September 18, 2008

Under the Sign of Hell Revisited


Along with the current UK incursion, Averse Sefira will strike London in a headlining appearance. Here is the updated listing:

November

21 - (IE) Button Factory Dublin
22 - (IE) An Cuiscin Cork
23 - (IE) The Limelight Belfast
25 - (UK) Ivory Black Glasgow
26 - (UK) Rock city Nottingham
27 - (UK) TJ's Live music Newport
28 - (UK) Rio's Leeds
29 - (UK) Thr Asylum Birmingham
30 - (UK) The Purple Turtle, London (Averse Sefira headlining date, support bands TBA)

These are 100% confirmed, do not heed any cancellation rumors.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vomitorium Los Angelis

Friday - As expected, our expedition to The Angels was an improvement over our previous experiences; the weird curse it seemed to visit on us was lifted. The flight out was without incident, and we were met by Sherman of the long-running thrash band Insecticide at the airport. He had a converted short bus (insert the obvious "how appropriate" joke here) that had been stripped of its seats and replaced with easy chairs and a couch. It reminded me of The Road Warrior with Sherman in the role of the Gyro Captain and it was strangely reassuring. We went on to collect our rented gear and then proceeded on a protracted Friday afternoon drive from El Segundo to Pomona. LA is second only to Sao Paulo in terms of gridlock and the length of time it take to get from one place to another. The ride seemed like it took forever.

Once in Pomona, we checked into the hotel and rested while listening to a stray copy of the new Metallica album. It's terrible. They recycle riffs from as far back as Master of Puppets and then meander through the rest with Hetfield's tone-deaf wailing and Lynard Skynard parroting. I haven't liked that band since 1989, so there's no love lost. We then went to the venue, which was basically a strip mall moose lodge with a bar and dance floor. Our new label-mates Sothis were there, and they assisted by lending us their amps for our set. I could lie and say that the turnout was great but unfortunately it was thin. The LA suburbs are basically remote outposts where only the locals show up, and our show was no exception. Those in attendance were enthusiastic, so it was not a total loss. The bigger problem was the PA and stage mix which turned our performance into an aural abbattoir with the three of us butchering the songs due to a complete inability to hear one another. That might be overstating it a bit; we played reasonably well given the circumstances but despite our best efforts it still sounded like shit. Vlad the promoter was unhappy with the PA situation as well but we had higher hopes for the Black Castle the following night. In any event, we talked to people afterward and they were downright charitable about the set so we took it in stride. Sherman drove us back to the hotel and was in general very accommodating in serving as our driver and self-appointed roadie.

Saturday - The next day we slept in late as none of us had any sleep on Thursday night in preparation for the very early morning flight. Vlad drove us to our hotel in West Hollywood (The Saharan, which is next to the notorious Seventh Veil strip club - both are featured in the video for Mötley Crüe's "Girls Girls Girls"). It sounds more dangerous than it is- the room was clean and comfortable and the surrounding area was relatively stable. I took the walk down to In-N-Out for my beloved "animal style" burger, and I was struck to see that neighboring Hollywood High School was taken over by local teens who were thrashing like crazy with their skateboards all over the landings and stairs. It looked like something out of a Tony Hawk game, and it was hard to believe that the cops would not chase them off due to property damage or potential lawsuits. It was something of a throwback to better times in America - thin, active kids and a permissive place for them to have some fun without being yelled at and driven back to their homes to play Xbox forever after.

We went to a grocery store across the street from the hotel, and the city did not fail to put on a show for us. As we came outside, three police cars were blocking up the lane and we quickly realized that the officers were out with guns drawn on a large Hummer. The driver exited gingerly with his hands up while the cops screamed, "GITONNAGROUN! GITONNAGROUN!" in tandem. LAPD lives for this moment. The whole thing seemed so much like a television show that we glanced around to see if there was a film crew present (there wasn't). Later, Sherman and the Gyrobus arrived to take us to the show. He declined to take the highway for fear of more traffic snarls, so we drove down the whole of La Brea Boulevard and actually saw quite a wide sampling of the city. Sherman has lived in LA all his life so he pointed out many places of interest from where famous people lived and movies were filmed. There were sites like the tattoo shop where that semi-fat rocker chick hosts a television show and the Jim Henson studios featuring a giant Kermit the Frog statue, and then we blasted through a panoply of neighborhoods that featured a variety of ethnicities, interesting landmarks, and varying degrees of urban decay until we finally arrived at the club deep in the heart of the dreaded South Central LA.The Black Castle itself was a perfectly fine venue with plenty of space and a good sized stage. It would be an ideal metal venue anywhere else, but the common refrain of the attendees was that the area was extremely dangerous. Sanguine and I could not really figure that out, since we stood out in front of the club throughout the night and the street itself was just a low-end shithole commercial district like every other low-end shithole commercial district that we've played in any number of major US cities. There were no signs of violence or apparent gang activity at all, but it seems like the location was a deterrent for some as the turnout again was below expectation (though not like Pomona by any stretch). Interestingly, many people who showed up weren't even from Los Angeles but from the San Diego area where we had that crushingly awesome show last February. It was validating to think that we made enough of an impression that anyone would drive two hours into an urban war zone to see us. Our friends Morgan (whose photos appear below) and Jessica of Nuclear Blast (and also of Texas) showed up and we were pleased to see them. We sold some merchandise though it seems that bootleg shirt penetration is total in this region; I'd never seen so many Finnish black metal shirts in one place.


We finally moved to the back stage to prepare for the show and about half the people in attendance were back there as well, which is true to form for this town. There was one guy who had a black gym bag full of LPs for sale or trade and he was also sporting a monstrous and bloody razor gash down his arm that looked like a diagram of the San Andreas fault (as The Carcass described it). Chris Hatewar was also present and he gave us some DVDs of live footage from our previous California appearances. We finally took the stage under a phalanx of well-applied red lights that were tempered with white ones for a somber effect. We launched into "Vomitorum Angelis" as our opener and from there we did not miss a note. The stage sound was completely coherent, and we were able to perform with full force unto a willing audience. The Carcass also pulled some wild stunts including accidentally breaking a stick and then continuing to play the blast beat with the broken handle end. His performance was bestial and flashy, and before long many up front were chanting his praises. Sanguine and I were in the perfect mode where our minds are tethered and we can anticipate each other with utter clarity. This is when the entity called Averse Sefira manifests and rises like a black shadow over us, and in these moments we do not falter. When it was over we were met with praise and a few overwhelming hosannas but soon enough everyone seemed to scatter. Nobody wants to hang around South Central after midnight I guess. We packed up into the Gyrobus and saw the glitz and excess of a Saturday night in LA while bathed in the bus' dreamy blue interior lights.



Sunday- The Carcass was tired and stayed in while Sanguine and I decided to explore West Hollywood. We ended up walking many blocks up Hollywood Boulevard and checked out the myriad rock shops along with the endless parade of nubile girls armed with warhead tits and armor-piercing nipples. This town has truly cornered that market. We made it over to the well-stocked Amoeba records and furrowed our brows at much of what passes for extreme metal these days. I found a used and seldom-seen copy of Mercyless' Coloured Funeral on CD as well as the original soundtrack to Apocalypse Now. I also managed to find a great leather vest on the boulevard, which for some reason is not easy to do in Texas. Despite a pleasant breeze, the sun started to have its way with us by 4pm so we took a short rest and then proceeded down La Brea for more browsing. At some point we came across a small, 1950s-era garden apartment complex that I was sure was the residence of James Ellroy when he was a child. We had no way to be certain, but Sanguine and I are both avid fans of his books so we strolled through just in case. We finally decided that we needed to see the Sunset Strip proper, so after some deliberation we waited until nightfall and set out for the Rainbow Room. As promised by the doorman of one of a dozen strip clubs we passed, it was almost an hour walk. We also ended up passing a lot of cool stores we would have liked to visit including a dedicated Mesa/Boogie dealership, and we cursed ourselves for walking the wrong direction earlier in the day. Despite the ever-present smog there was an almost ominous looking mansion in the hills above us with spot lights and purple and red underlighting that made it look as though it was suspended in the night sky like some kind of wizard's castle. Nobody we asked had any idea what it was. One random guy we asked was walking the same direction and he ended up latching onto us. It was a little odd, and I thought before long he would ask for money or drugs but he ultimately did neither. We passed the Chateau Marmonde that Jim Morrison helped make famous, and there was some big time celebrity junket going on. The amusing part was that an older couple stepped out of a car at the entrance and had dozens of photographers shooting them, and we couldn't begin to guess who they were. They looked wealthy so that was probably sufficient to be a big deal around there.


Many paces later we arrived at the Rainbow Room, which among other things is Lemmy Kilmeister's home away from home, but we decided not to go in. Five dollars just to cross the threshold? Go to hell. I think Motorhead is still on tour anyway. We grabbed a cab for the ride back and laughed at ourselves when it took the driver seven minutes to get us back to the Saharan. The hotel itself was leaking stuck-up looking club chicks from its rooms as we walked up the stairs. Women like that all look like robots to me - generic and manufactured. The next morning Sherman came out to get us and took us over to his neck of the woods in Manhattan Beach. It was well kept and pretty, and it seemed a world away from the rest of the city. We had a hearty meal of Mexican food at a local favorite walk-in diner and then walked out onto the beach at the bottom of the hill. It was nice to visit a beach that wasn't jammed with idiots and for the first time ever I touched the waters of the Pacific Ocean. It was somewhat undercut by the fact that I managed to step in some well-hidden tar that embedded itself in the track of my boot like the most noxious hellborn chewing gum ever. From there, we went straight to the airport and returned home without notable issues.

So to the curious- we liked Los Angeles this time. It wasn't as aupicious as our high-profile package tours but at the same time we still enjoyed ourselves, the city, and the people we met. Everyone was very good to us and we will not forget it. Thanks to Vlad, Jose, and Absolute Void, Chris and IIKRANEOS, Chris Hatewar, bands Necrite & Ent, and a huge vote of thanks to Sherman Insecticide for making the entire thing go. As always, see you next time.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Forest for the Trees



The above video is an excerpt from an upcoming film project called "A Year at the Wheel". It reached a lot of people in a short amount of time, and it has also generated many comments and questions. A recurring observation was that we seem to have a binary outlook of the nature of Christianity. I responded to this in a different forum, but it seemed worth posting here as well. It is true that many Christians in the past (and the present) have contributed to the world. The difference is that these people are/were smart and talented regardless of their religious leanings. Christianity in the 21st century has, by and large, continued to be a default ad hominem mechanism for people who are neither smart nor talented. And historically, now and as always, Christianity has been the impetus for the destruction of reason and culture in the west. It encourages war, overpopulation, fear, and a consumptive brand of commerce. Most people subscribe to this religion because they are afraid of death (and life as well). It is sometimes hard to face the idea that we may well be alone, or that there is no grandfatherly figure in the clouds who watches out for us and wants us to win the lottery or survive cancer.

People are increasingly threatened by strong opinions and straight talk, but we see little point in choosing our words based on whether or not anyone agrees or if it means one less person might buy our albums. Safe and crowd-pleasing outlooks are for politicians.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Anticipation & Hindsight


I was asked today why Averse Sefira agreed to return to Los Angeles for two shows in light of my indictment of the city in previous entries. I write this journal as a record of events at the time of their occurrence, which to me is the only way to convey my perceptions in an honest fashion. As such, I do not retract anything I have said in that regard but that does not mean I am unwilling to revisit the city under different circumstances and have my mind changed in the process. If anything, I should acknowledge that I have painted Los Angeles with a broad brush and perhaps that was unfair; my only real impression of LA is the Sunset Strip, a place that has nothing in common with our interests. Previously we performed in large commercial venues that were glitzy and expensive and not appropriate for bands like ours. This isn't a comment on anyone's efforts in terms of booking, but sometimes what is good for the whole of a tour package is not ideal for a band alone and this cannot always be remedied. This time we will perform on our own terms in dedicated venues. We expect it to be a completely different scenario, and it seems certain that we will come away with better impressions overall. In any event, we chose to do these shows in good faith and we are looking forward to them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Stand Up For Art

I usually avoid topics of conventional politics, but this issue came to me by Jos A. Smith and it is of great importance to anyone who creates art or cares about protecting it. You can read about it here but in short:

  •  The Orphan Works Act of 2008 defines an 'orphan work' as any copyrighted work whose author any infringer says he is unable to locate with what the infringer himself decides has been a 'reasonably diligent search.' In a radical departure from existing copyright law and business practice, the U.S. Copyright Office has proposed that Congress grant such infringers freedom to ignore the rights of the author and use the work for any purpose, including commercial usage. In the case of visual art, the word 'author' means 'artist.'
  • The bill would substantially limit the copyright holder's ability to recover financially or protect the work, even if the work was registered with the U.S. Copyright Office prior to infringement.
  • The bill has a disproportionate impact on visual artists because it is common for an artist's work to be published without credit lines or because credit lines can be removed by others for feckless or unscrupulous reasons. This is especially true of art published in the Internet Age.
  • The Orphan Works Act would force artists to risk their lives' work to subsidize the start-up ventures of private, profit making registries, using untested image recognition technology and untried business models. These models would inevitably favor the aggregation of images into corporate databases over the licensing of copyrights by the lone artists who create the art.

  • So basically this means that any dishonest sleaze can knowingly steal an image from the internet or wherever else and claim that, duh, he couldn't find any name or proof of ownership so that's why he should have the legal right to use the collected paintings of the Renaissance on the vinyl version of his rehearsal demo (limited to 200 copies! KVLT!). This is basically good news for thieves and bootleggers, and a nightmare for everyone who produces visual art of any kind. I'm not a big believer in petitions since I think politicians do whatever they like and would prefer that we all die of cancer (but still pay taxes in the meantime, of course) but in this case I would like to invite you to please sign one of the many petitions listed here, or if you're in Europe go here.

    There are ones for visual artists, illustrators, and photographers, among others. Sign one even if you don't fit a specific category- it still matters. 




    Friday, June 13, 2008

    The Language of Sigils

    Averse Sefira is mentioned in the unlikely venue of the MTV Newroom as part of a promotional entry entitled Top 10 Most Illegible Metal Logos, which is far from the first time our insignia has been the object of curiosity. It is interesting that anyone would think Sanguine designed it for any sort of practical readability. The words are there for those who wish to see them, but the intention was to have a battle standard and an representative mark that embodies our work. Sigils are concise ways to bind meaning, and often they are keys to realms in which their creators marshal energy and inspiration. Witnesses of death metal's heyday know what the Trifixion means when they see it; our logo is no different. This is why no matter how many times the name of Averse Sefira is printed in a conventional form, this logo will always be present. The meaning and the mantle are one and the same - a matrix for form and chaos.

    Sunday, June 8, 2008

    Indelible

    In the course of our travels, we have met a small but dedicated selection of fans who feel that Homecoming's March will always stand as our single best effort. Apparently there are some who feel especially strongly in this belief. Hail.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Incestuous

    As some of you have noticed, this blog is often a vehicle for the endeavors of friends and peers as much as it is one for AVRS. Accordingly, I would like to call attention to Seldon Hunt's work and his blog that resides here. Seldon is responsible for the new Averse Sefira shirt and a ton of other fantastic eye-killing efforts. And to help with the repeated, "Where did you get that?" question, the Warrior death masks can be found at this location. Both sites are also linked for easy reference.

    PS I initially neglected to include our masterful album designer Valnoir in this entry. He is the part of the dangerous terrorist outfit Metastazis and his work is here.

    Thursday, April 24, 2008

    A Familiar Visage

    This arrived yesterday, shrouded in cerecloth. It is an effigy amidst the ashes; a dying god coming into human flesh. I will wait patiently for the eyes to open.

    Wednesday, April 9, 2008

    Epitaph

    And like a thunderclap it was over. Tom G. Fischer's departure/disbanding of Celtic Frost has reverberated through the metal community, and though it is already "old news" it still merits attention. While I want to believe that declaring them officially dead is premature I can only rely on the regrettable facts as presented. Much like life itself, a band can end suddenly and without a sense of closure. It could be argued that Frost's departure yielded a satisfactory denouement by redeeming their controversial legacy with a truly strong album. Monotheist was what most everyone (including Tom, per his own journal) expected to be a new monument rather than the final cenotaph.

    It is not my place to speculate on the reasons why Celtic Frost fractured once again, but let us not forget that the band was always fraught with adversity from its inception. Tom's efforts to propel the band forward often struck me as Melvillian; he was another Ahab hunting his own elusive white whale. Thus it is all the more poignant to think that he had finally captured the beast through Monotheist, but only then to see it fall back into the cold darkness. I enjoyed having elder statesmen among us again; for too long we have endured something of a headless movement with many of the old guard selling out, walking away, or leaving this world altogether. It was galvanizing to have Celtic Frost step forth and take up the flag once more and on their own terms no less. The fact that they did it at all is amazing given the way it ended the first time around. Moreover, Tom in particular deserves all the credit in the world for embracing so many of the bands that grew out of his legacy. Try giving your album to someone like Kerry King and see how well it goes.

    The short version is that I wish it did not have to be this way. And maybe it won't be forever. I get no sense that Tom is going to summarily abandon metal in the wake of this, so it seems that waiting patiently is the only choice we have. Still, I was ready for more from the mighty Frost and it seems that this day may never arrive.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2008

    For the Record

    The fact that this entry is even necessary is outrageous but somehow my previous entry drew the ire of Terese of Scarab Productions and she has since been stoking internet gossip against Averse Sefira and Watain in an attempt to make us look bad. I stand by my writing as an accurate and reasonably objective account of the event, and every effort was made to prevent the airing of dirty laundry or unfavorable portrayals of anyone involved. On the contrary, I meant the whole of the article as a positive appraisal. This was unfortunately lost on Terese due to some circumstances during the show for which she felt aggrieved and it seems that my estimation of the situation was not slanted sufficiently in her favor (i.e. I did not editorialize either way and I will not do so at this point either). I am disgusted to think that a promoter would be so unprofessional in venting these complaints on a message board aimed at teenagers rather than taking it up with the bands directly. At this point the issues in question are now mired in hearsay, gossip, and distortion of facts:

    For the record we are not at odds with Cephalic Carnage and we never were. The bad exchange I described earlier was an isolated incident not even connected to our band, and as I also mentioned the issue was dropped. They kept in the spirit of competing with us and Watain, as I have since heard that they lampooned both of us on stage during their set. We take no exception to that, in part because it seems they saw the line-up situation for what it was and answered to it in their own fashion. People love conflict, and while I know it would be more exciting to think that we are now arch-enemies this is simply not the case.

    This is the only time I will ever use this space for rebuttals or clarifications but when we and our friends are facing slander that is in part based on something that was featured in these pages, I think it is only appropriate to keep a response close to the source.

    Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Old friends & new wounds

    Last Friday we were flown in to Calgary, Alberta, to play an exclusive engagement with Watain and Cephalic Carnage. Despite the dubious nature of this combination we were pleased to be reunited with Watain. I myself had seen them on various occasions over the last couple of years but we had not performed with them since our now infamous Stellar Descension Infernal tour of 2003. The flight was uneventful though it dragged a bit but we were literally waved through customs (ruefully so, as we would have brought more merchandise had we known) and soon acquired by Terese from Scarab Productions. She took us to a four-star hotel in the center of the city and I confess we were taken aback by the accommodations. We are not exactly strangers to nice hotels, but to have a promoter provide us with such luxury was definitely a first. Watain had arrived earlier that day, which we discovered since every airport security agent we met had commented on them. They tend to attract attention wherever they go. After a savory meal in Chinatown, we discovered that the band had the room adjacent to ours so before long we were in their suite and catching up. Soon after there was a knock at the door and guitarist Set answered to find the lead singer of Cephalic Carnage and a roadie. They invited themselves in and began making overtures to us about partying and smoking pot with them. Mere minutes before they arrived we had all been discussing the incongruous choice of this act as the other headliner, and we also wondered why they were set to go on last. We also resolved that since we and Watain played back to back, we would deliver a unified front on stage and leave Cephalic with no way to compete. With that in mind, Watain politely declined the offer of drugs and invited the duo to leave but they did not seem to take a hint and seemed puzzled at the idea that people might actually be tired and want to go to bed. Guitarist P. of Watain, ever the diplomat, stood up and stated that he'd smoke with them even though he did not like their band. Instantly the mood changed and our festive new friends were suddenly not interested in a good time. "Well fuck you then," snapped the singer, "I don't like your band either!" They left the room and P. followed them in an attempt to explain that there was not a problem but that he was just being honest, etc. The Cephalic people weren't having it as most Americans are deeply threatened by directness, particularly the European variety. Set became agitated and also walked into the hall and for a moment I expected beatings to commence. More fuck-you-mans mingled with Set's sharp and snakelike tone but no violence occured. Set and P. returned to the room with many choice comments about "life metal" bands.

    The Carcass had his own room and had gone straight to bed upon arrival and soon a very drunk P. insisted to see him. It was 3am but Sanguine and I felt that an ambush was in order so we led the sotted Swede down to his room and let him announce himself first with tentative knocking, and then with punches and kicks that we feared would raise alarm. Finally the door was opened a crack and P. burst into the room and grappled wildly with a startled and bleary Carcass. This is how he says hello. They are both large men, and as they pitched about the room we laughed but also wondered if all the expensive furniture would survive. Ultimately order was restored and more proper greetings were proffered. Generally everything P. says is offensive and hilarious, and his deadpan delivery only furthers this so we were sufficiently amused by the time we led him back to his room and then promptly passed out in ours.


    Saturday - we slept in late and took our time getting ready. After a hearty meal at the downstairs Irish pub, Terese arrived and drove us to the venue which was a ballroom on the University of Calgary campus. The night before there had been some predictions on whether or not Cephalic Carnage would attempt to sabotage Watain or simply start a fight. Based on what I knew of that band's reputation, I advised that nothing like that would likely happen. Sound check was a bit rocky as the ballroom (as usual) was a mess of booming sound, and despite our best efforts to communicate our needs with the monitor levels nothing sounded right when we left the stage. From there we mostly stayed in the backstage area with Watain and talked while E. Watain and roadie Johan assembled a bone mic stand from the bones of local roadkill. Watain's bassist had been detained in Germany so once again E. would be handling bass and vocal duties.


    Everyone in the Swedish outfit was jetlagged, so drummer H. slept on a couch and P. ended up repeatedly vomiting in the adjacent restroom with accompanying heaves that sounded like they were coming from the very depths of his soul. The show had been on for a couple of hours at this point and I stuck my head out to get a new Watain shirt among other things. I was surprised to find that all of the shirts they printed were already sold out, save for the display shirt which I promptly grabbed. It turns out we did almost as well with our shirts and CDs, with only a couple of size XLs left over at the end (only Americans seem to need that size). I also managed to locate our old ally Sabazios Diabolus of Lust and the guys from Weapon, with whom I was until then unacquainted. The promoter had ordained that no animal matter would be allowed in the venue due to insurance reasons, so Watain would have their most sanitary show in some time (relatively speaking, anyway- all of their gear and guitars were encased in dried and scabrous blood from many previous performances). Cephalic Carnage also arrived and were not confrontational with anyone, so the unpleasantness of the previous evening was left behind.

    After the local support acts had finished I and my bandmates headed to the stage only to find that the stage crew was moving and all but disassembling the drum kit to center it on the large rear riser. The Carcass had to intervene before his trigger module was damaged, and the whole ordeal set us back on on schedule by almost twenty minutes. We finally took the stage as the first of the headliners and were met with much headbanging and pit acrobatics upon commencement. The audience was great throughout, though our sound was still strange and uncomfortable and we simply could not hear each other. There were a couple of near-miss moments that we soldiered through, and while it was not anything discernible to the audience it hampered our ability to go full-throttle at points. Nevertheless, the set was a success despite the extra work it demanded.

    Watain hit the stage with full regalia including banners with attached chains and their famous inverted crosses. Their sound was as odd as ours, and it seemed that they had to approach the lack of audible drums with a similar degree of caution. There were a few places early on where it seemed like the performance was about to slip off the rails, but they quickly got things back under control. Their response was predictably great and they played well overall. E. actually tossed the bass aside on the closing song and his subsequent attack of the microphone injected a more venomous energy into the performance. I see now why he prefers to perform this way. Earlier we had all been discussing how sometimes when the circumstances leading up to a performance are too comfortable it leads to a degree of malaise. We are all used to having to drag gear around and sit in a van or an alley waiting to play, and the quality of our current surroundings may have disarmed us. I also cannot discount the inherent exhaustion of international travel and P.'s green-faced discomfort leading up to their set. The fact that they still presented with their usual degree of conviction was admirable indeed. The other strange aspect of both sets was that we all felt like we were playing on an unmoored boat. I cannot better describe this except that Sanguine and Set both complained of dizziness as they moved about the stage, and H. and The Carcass were both made nauseous from the wobbly instability of the drum riser. In any event, the final outcome was still a positive one for both bands.


    The end of the evening was not the outrageous finale I expected; Watain was very tired and E. stated that while he was fine to spend more time with us he wanted to otherwise be out of reach. There was a small party for the bands and crew down the hall from our respective rooms and while Sanguine and I visited briefly with the guys from Warmarch, The Carcass and the Scandis stayed out of sight. We joined them presently and ended up staying up almost until dawn despite our blistering fatigue. It had been five years since my bandmates had seen anyone in Watain, so we were anxious to log a few hours together before leaving the next morning. We did exactly that at 10am and unfortunately missed Sabazios Diabolus' offer of meeting for breakfast as well. Once again we feel the sting of a one-off show in that we have to leave too quickly and there is so little time to spend with friends.

    The past couple of months have felt like another period of growth for me in terms of my passion for metal in general. It is barely April and already it has been a fantastic year for Averse Sefira. To commemorate this, I decided to once again make my flesh a panegyric to our work and enlisted the help of the masterful Jonzig to this end.

    The Body says, 'It is only through Me that you are realized. I am that which makes you known...' -Sanguine Mapsama

    Block not my path! You futile walls of flesh and blood. For I have seen your structure clear and I know where to stab. - E. Watain


    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    One Thousand Three Hundred and Forty-nine


    So I did something I never thought I would ever do, which is to attend the South by Southwest music conference (SXSW for those “in the know”). This is a huge event for Austin, and we in AVRS have categorically avoided it as it is crowded, expensive, and mostly designed for industry folks and hipster parasites. However, 1349 was slated to fly in from Norway to play two shows over the weekend so we were not about to miss out on their performances or company. Things started off a bit rocky as only Chris, the band's sound engineer, arrived on the expected day. Through a flurry of text messages we discovered that the band had been delayed in Holland. Sanguine and The Carcass were also out of pocket at this interval so Chris and I decided to venture over to the free afternoon showcase with Enslaved and Motorhead. We arrived at 11:30am to a line of people that stretched around the block. Put a sign up that says “Motorhead” and “free” on it, and hordes of punkers, rockers, bikers, burnouts, and skeezy already drunk chicks will beat a path to your door. Chris and I marched past everyone and got our VIP passes at the front gates. Membership has its privileges. The temperature was a convenient record high of 90 degrees so we sat at a picnic table in the rear of the open-air venue and talked for a while. Then the first band came on with a terrible and booming stage mix and played unintelligibly for twenty minutes. Enslaved was supposed to be next so I walked up to the front only to see the band striking their gear. It turns out they had just performed, though the sound rendered them unrecognizable. No matter, they would play two more shows tomorrow.

    Napalm Death was up next and I have decided that this band is like finding something long rotten in the back of your refrigerator- once it was good, but it then becomes forgotten and then an unpleasant surprise when you next encounter it. The band's sound was even more horrid than Enslaved's (I guess this is what a free show sounds like) and their performance was stale and tired. Barney Greenway gimped around the stage like a doofus and Mitch and Shane look like they stood too close to an open flame. I was wondering how old the band was when Barney answered my question in his slurry Birmingham accent- 27 years old. That's awful. They don't have a single founding member left in the band so does that even count? And the last time I liked anything they did was 17 years ago. They went on to illustrate my point by crash-landing their tiresome cover of “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” as their closer and left the stage to a smattering of applause. By the time Motorhead came on Chris and I were melting and the sound had not improved at all. We ended up with Jessica from Nuclear Blast and decided to walk over to the Metal Maniacs party in a club on Sixth Street. It was dark and cool and there were plenty of refreshing beverages, though not much else in the way of anything interesting. Some people came up and said hello, though generally I go undetected when I am in street clothes. I picked up multiple free copies of the new Metal Maniacs which features an Averse Sefira interview. I get sick of buying magazines that feature us so it was a nice change to get a handful of them for nothing.

    Chris and I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and then we were joined by Erika for dinner. Finally we got confirmation of 1349's arrival. They missed their connecting flight in Houston as well so they had to be rerouted up to Dallas and then to Austin. Sanguine and their SXSW host Renee went to get them at the airport and brought them to the festival registration office five minutes before it closed. The guys looked obliterated from their thirty hours of travel, so we managed to find a club that served food and got them some dinner. A few people recognized them and said hello but we were mostly incognito. More amusing was how many times I was mistaken for a member of the band as well. Afterwards we went over to the Relapse showcase and Erika and I sat on the curb because we did not want to pay to see High on Fire (painfully boring) or Municipal Waste (a party band cash-in for kids too young to remember DRI). We ultimately got the band over to Renee's house and then went home for a few hours of sleep.


    1349 was set to play both an afternoon and evening showcase with Enslaved so I caught up with the guys at the dubious looking Vice Magazine venue, which was a vacant lot in an east side ghetto. We stood around talking and watching the stage be built while trying to grab as much shade as possible. I talked a bit with Ivar from Enslaved and told him about how early on his band helped convince my band that longer songs were the way to go. So you can blame them for that. Sound checks did not seem to be on the menu so I took the band over to the Averse Sefira practice space so they could have a proper rehearsal with their relatively new session drummer Madz. It was low-key but a good time. I joked about how we could now brag that we had a Norwegian black metal act in our room, and Archaeon commented on how he felt that the fixation on their nationality with US fans was really strange and awkward to him. I found this interesting and wondered if this perception was widely held among the Scandi bands. We closed out the session with an impromptu version of Celtic Frost's “The Usurper” with Ravn on drums and myself doing vocals; it was fun and I wish we had recorded it but such is the double-edged sword of spontaneity.


    Afterwards, we went back to the walk-in kiln that was the Vice venue along with Sanguine and The Carcass. When we arrived it was still about 4pm (1349 was slated to play at 7) and a repulsive and noisy ensemble band was on stage. There were at least fifteen idiots up there with random instruments, all of whom were wearing hippie face paint, ridiculous outfits, and porno mustaches (except for the girls who were just sallow and asexually ugly). It looked like “Up With People” except with hepatitus C. It did not bode well that the crowd was eating it up. The audience was mostly comprised of random losers who look like they stole their clothes out of Goodwill dumpsters, so my expectations for Enslaved and 1349's sets were low. I hoped a regiment of black-shirted hessians would roll in like a thunderhead but the chances seemed remote as the second show of the night was downtown at a dedicated metal venue. There was not much impetus for a self-respecting metalhead to come to the shit side of town and bake his brain while standing amongst pop culture run-off. 

    Herein is the great danger that black metal faces circa 2008- hipsters have discovered us. They think what we do is novel and “crazy” and being able to tell people that they listen to “church-burning Norwegian Black Metal” is another way for them to show off just how different and radical they are from the mainstream. They do not care about our message or motives, but rather how evil we are and how many people we might have killed. These people are the worst thing to happen to the underground in years, even moreso than Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir. They want to co-opt black metal and make it just another brand of alternative music. They want to wear our scary looking t-shirts with their horn-rimmed glasses and skateboarding shoes. They want to use us as a conversation piece and a fashion statement. We cannot allow this. I want to encourage all who read this to take action against these useless sacks of shit. Do not let them in. If they try to talk to you about metal, ignore them, spit on them, or tell them to fuck themselves. If you see them at a show, especially in the pit, then hit them as hard as you can. Hurt them. Let them know they are hated and unwelcome. Make it clear that we are not here to be a punchline or a fucking cartoon. We need to get hard on the outside world again, and these fools are an easy target. They cannot fight back and they don't have money for lawsuits, so harm them with impunity. We are evil indeed, and we should show them what it truly means.

    Diatribes aside, Ravn was anxious and disarmed because his stage bag had been lost in the midst of the band's multiple airline reroutes. His spikes, paint, and boots were all in his luggage so he only had the clothes he wore on the plane. We remedied this with my lending him all of my gear, and fortunately we are the same relative size so everything fit pretty well. I was planning on watching Enslaved's set, but Ravn bade me to come into the dressing room with the band to assist him so I proceeded inside. The backstage was a small alcove off an indoor stage and it was steamy and unventilated. There was another extremely obnoxious hipster band performing just on the other side of the curtain; it seems the current big thing in indie music is to have a band made up of a keyboardist, a very gay and nasal vocalist, and a remedial drummer. Seidemann made repeated chair-throwing gestures at the stage, and the band was collectively imbued with a contentious air for the coming set. The heat of the room required several reapplications of corpse paint as it was melting off like cake frosting in an oven, but finally the band was ready for battle. It was humorous because Ravn paints his arms and hands as well so by the time I had finished assisting him, everything I owned had smears of white and black on them. It was not unlike dealing with the tar baby of southern mythology. They took the stage at dusk to a handful of stalwarts and then a scattered yard of the aforementioned hated. 

    I stayed behind the barricade as I was planning to assist Archaeon with his torch for firebreathing, but I watched as the moron contingent ran around the audience like monkeys and continually threw half empty cans of beer into the air and a couple at the stage. I wanted very much to run out and start hitting people but security for this show was supplied by the Austin police department, and assault charges do not appeal to me. Aside from the relatively dismal crowd the stage sound was once again a nightmare despite Chris' best efforts and the band was hard-pressed to wring anything good out of it. Ravn demonstrated command presence as always, though it was obvious that he was not pleased with the circumstances. A further insult came when they played through the 8pm neighborhood curfew and then suddenly the stage volume was cut in half by the police. Ultimately the whole thing was a fiasco and I was furious to think that our friends had half-killed themselves to come here for this lunacy. Archaeon also passed on the fire-breathing, and I was glad because it would have been to an undeserving audience.

    We went into the backstage and everyone sat quietly for some time. The next show at Red 7 was in two hours and only about five blocks away so there was no reason to hurry. Also, the band decided to not remove their paint since the other venue had no backstage at all. Ravn drank his usual bottle of Jagermeister which not only helps his voice but seems to add to the darkness in his eyes, but he was noticeably sagging from jet-lag and perhaps some frustration over the show. After a time we shuttled everyone down to the next gig, and Erika's car ended up with Ravn's paint all over the armrests, dashboard, and passenger door (she has since decided she is going to leave it there). I went in ahead of the band along with Sanguine and Chris and was relieved to see that the club was full and a majority of those in attendance were actual metal fans. I went back out to the car and rousted a now-sleeping Ravn and led the band through the back door and onto the stage. I am pleased to say that this performance obliterated any memory of the previous show, as 1349 reacted to the receptive crowd with fury and conviction. Ravn in particular delivered one of his most feral performances to date as he wheeled around the stage and all but attacked the audience. He also reached into the crowd to grab various hands and ended up thrashing one kid around like a piñata. He did the same thing to me and nearly dislocated my arm with a devil's strength. 

    It was a caustic combination of barbarism and Morrisonian (as in Jim) dramatism that set the room ablaze and scored many points for the case of black metal. I more or less missed Enslaved for a third time when I left to let 1349 into the car, but I caught the last of their set and it paled in comparison to the onslaught that preceded it. Once it was over and the troupe had all but entombed our car in makeup wipes (Ravn tried to wipe a smear of his paint from my forehead and ended up adding another couple of layers to it) we then stood in back of the club while they talked to fans and industry people. A few individuals also approached Sanguine and myself with praise for our new album, which was of course appreciated.

    Four hours of sleep later we rendezvoused with the band again and took them out for breakfast at a good local Mexican place called Polvo's. We talked and joked, and I was glad to see that the guys were satisfied with how things turned out. It was a shame that they had to leave so quickly though, as they were only in country for a day and a half. Ravn graciously bought everyone's breakfast, and then we fruitlessly helped them shop for boots at a few local western outlets. They required the extremely pointy style of cowboy boot and it seems that those are not in demand these days. They had better luck at Guitar Center since European money is so painfully strong against the US dollar. We then took everyone to the airport and said our reluctant farewells with the consolation that we will inevitably meet again in the months to come since being labelmates helps insure such things.

    Once again there was triumph in the face of adversity, and once again I find myself restless and excited about performing. It is a good thing that we have a show with Watain this weekend to scratch that itch. With every show and the surrounding experiences I feel that I come away with a better understanding of what it is I am doing in metal. This time I was reminded that this music is a force unto itself that cannot be stymied by bad luck or bad people. We all share this fire and it would take the world's end to extinguish it. Also I still like being a fan and a confidante of other bands as much as I enjoy having my own band, so I was grateful for the opportunity to assist 1349 in their quixotic journey to play one of the most ghastly festivals I have ever witnessed. I am glad it happened but I also hope they and other friends of ours come to Austin under other circumstances in the future, because I really do not want to do SXSW again.