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VASSAFOR walks an endless sinister path from unbeing to manifestation

Vassafor have been at the forefront of NZ Black Metal since their return in 2006 with the 7″ Southern Vassaforian Hell which was shortly followed up with self-titled EP Vassafor in 2007. Both releases broadened the band’s exposure and established them as fixtures within the underground. Since then, the output has been prolific with the release of several splits, a live album, and two acclaimed full lengths, the 2012 monolith Obsidian Codex and 2017’s Malediction.

Covenant caught up with the founder and creative conduit VK to discuss the history of the band, the driving purpose, and their forthcoming full length.

SINISTER ESSENCE

Founded in 1994, Vassafor has existed in numerous forms and iterations for over 25 years. 1997 saw the release of Demo I, subsequently after the band disappeared into obscurity and aether for a further 7 years.

“Those first demo songs were initially only shared with friends and allies as dubbed tapes. Then subsequently it got to people either we came in contact with or who were given it thru those already infected. Certainly, it was primitive and made with terrible gear, but it was an eruption of our ideas of BM that was already completely out of step with anyone around us. As for the break, it was only due to no other suitable members around me after DL and I were in different cities. Only a handful of people here in NZ seemed actually interested in non standard BM back then and half of us already hated each other. Not so different from today in some ways.”

Vassafor’s purpose is blunt and singular “To presence the sinister and venerate our Patron.” Driven as a conduit to and the fulfillment of sinister vision, the channels and methodologies for evocation have continued to evolve. VK recalls these foundations and the path tread thus far…

“Vassafor is still driven in the same direction as always, which is to be an offering and gateway/conduit, but it definitely has a more focused path now than any time previously. Like any art or skill, practice makes perfect. We are here to presence the sinister and do it as best we can.”

“From first encounter to today, the progress is clear and building on itself as an egregore gaining more and more mana as it is conjured from unbeing into reality, from the void-soaked sunya existing between the Aethyrs. It eternally IS, we just had to develop eyes to see and ears to hear.”

EMANATION AND CODEX

Delving further upon the discovery, inspiration and initiative which caused the band to materialise…

“I wanted to do my own thing not long after I first started playing in bands. Everything I wrote was Black Metal, but I was playing in a Death Metal band and a Rock band not a million miles away from Birthday Party type stuff. So even though I would write a bit in these bands, I was writing a lot of music which didn’t really suit the bands I was part of.

VK Recalls “People here in Auckland in the early 90s wanted to play like Carcass or a heavier thrash style for the most part. I was obsessed with the tapes that came via the mail and the BM records that would turn up in the record store in town that would stock extreme metal imports, and getting records like the Incubus 7” or the Necromantia, Samael, Masters Hammer LPs were massively influential in the early period of Vassafor for me and my bandmate DL who was literally the only other person in Auckland I knew into that style of dark, evil metal.

One of the defining characteristics Vassafor is their elaborate composition style. Typically drawing less from the conventional structure of modern music, their tracks are known to become formidable, manifold beasts changing and mutating throughout. VK considers the impact from atypical influences, how they have shaped his compositions and the organic metamorphosis Vassafor’s music has undergone as it forms and maintains its own identity.

“I’d grown up with classical music and 70s rock like King Crimson/ELP etc so I was familiar with symphonic length pieces of music or album tracks that might be 20 minutes long, and that was probably a subconscious influence on not having to be constricted by 3 min song lengths or a verse, chorus songwriting paradigm. But certainly currently, and for a long time, we have less external musical influences and more literary or artistic influences that refract internally to set tone or mood for material. If that makes sense.”

Divulging further on musical inspirations which serve the sinister purpose “Hard to separate myself to enough of a degree to answer accurately, but yeah, I think our roots are always fairly recognisable in our style of Black Metal. There’s always that primitivism of old (BM era) Darkthrone or Graveland or Beherit mixed with the pursuit of audial darkness and evil that can take us into many forms. So long as its sinister then it fits the Vassaforian paradigm.”

This dedication to the sinister reveals itself throughout Vassafor with a codified foundation established and fulfilled through music, lyrics and aesthetic. How important are those three elements to galvanise the creative process, presentation and essence?

“To me it’s of vital importance, if it’s your own paradigm that you are codifying. These 3 elements should be a reflection of the spirit of the band and should remain indivisible from it. That’s why when people think of bands “selling out” it generally is a band breaking their own covenant and rings false to people following the band.”

“As for Vassafor each are intertwined enough that a song can be started from any direction. It might be a song title or scrap of lyric, or a concept, or a chunk of music. 1 generally infuses the other if the ideas are strong enough to end up making it to song stage. Plenty of small chunks on rehearsal tapes of part songs of riffs or written lyrics that never developed into strong enough material to become a song. We usually throw away quite a large amount of material, if it doesn’t make the grade then we don’t save it for later, into the bin it goes.”

DIVINATION

Whilst intent has been singular with Vassafor, the bands delivery and tactics can vary to achieve this purpose, a rare feat to achieve whilst maintaining identity.

In May 2019 Vassafor commenced recording their 3rd album. Nearing completion, VK divulges on their forthcoming offering and provides pertinent details of what to expect.

“Yeah smashing through it now. There will be roughly 60 minutes of all new music. It will be released once again by Iron Bonehead who are the perfect label for us. There will be 6 main songs and a few intro and interlude pieces. We are at this time probably 2/3rds of the way through it all. We have a few outside allies involved in the record from the UK and Sweden that should change things up a bit.”

“I guess this record sounds more ancient than usual. The songs are perhaps a touch more primitive than usual in some respects and def more twisted in others. Probably more of our early influences like Temple of Full Moon/Polish BM style in places and in others quite old DM style. It should be completely out of step with current trend based cut ‘n’ paste, quantized click track, metal bullshit anyway!!”

With an impending album due from the eminent Iron Bonehead Productions in 2020, we asked what else lies ahead for Vassafor?

“Most important is the album. And doing a proper local ritual as opposed to gig in a bar supporting an international or whatever. Time for some Bones, Decay and Reverence the Vassaforian way…tentatively we are looking at early summer for it.”

EMANATION AND WILL

In 2016 Vassafor covered MZ.412 for Ancient Meat Revived, a tribute to seminal Death Industrial/Dark Ambient label Cold Meat Industry. Since, Vassafor was invited by the mastermind of that project to present an interpretation of Nordrvagr’s “At the Crossroads of Immortality” which featured on a collaborative album in May 2019

Whilst using disparate methods, it’s clear to see parallels between these entities and their respective genres.

“I’d like to think MZ.412 and Vassafor are essentially the same spirit via different instrumentation. Nordvargr is a total genius and it’s been great to strengthen ties with that conduit. I have always appreciated MZ.412 in particular from that wave of Cold Meat Industries and Death Industrial scene, but BP has come from that background rather than metal so has a much deeper appreciation for the musical sphere. He also has an industrial band he is part of currently that is working on material. That should be well worth checking out as the other guy he’s doing it with is a total maniac for that style as well.”

“These areas of Death Industrial and Black Metal seem to intersect especially when a dark spiritualism is involved. When looking at groups like Phurpa or Shibalba, they inhabit those same crossroads too.”

Audio engineering is another scope which VK operates within, covering his methods and criteria and the satisfaction of contributing to the achievement of a bands vision…

As for criteria for engineering in terms of mixing and mastering, it generally depends mostly on whether I enjoy the music or not, whether I consider it worthwhile & want to try and do what I can to help the vision of the band, but also of course if I have time. Lots of bands I say no to and even bands I’ll start working with and they start talking utter bullshit or want mainstream engineering and I suggest they use others. Plenty of other engineers for that kind of sound. I’m not interested in being associated with that kind of shit. Fuck that. And as a result I’m getting to work with many great bands that I’d be getting the record of anyway, but this way I get to help realize their vision properly. Some examples of recent mastering jobs I got to work on were the latest Hellvetron album and Tetragrammacide compilation LP. Both don’t want clean and nice standard mastering but for the right master to enhance the uniqueness of the bands. I’m totally into working with groups that want to forge their own path. Such as the latest Funereal Presence LP which was killer as he knew exactly what he was after, so I could help nail it down exactly in line with the initial vision. Very satisfying to get these records back and enjoy listening to them on my stereo.”

The involvement within these domains has provided exposure and insight to numerous countries, music and people. We asked VK where the vanguards were and thoughts on global Metal.

“I’ve been able to play a few places in South America and each one has been full of total fucking maniacs. Chile seems especially virulent, as it certainly seems like it has been for many years now. The crowds are absolute die hard metal beasts. Fucking hell, just the range of T-shirt’s in the crowds is fully mental and is full of ultra metal bands playing ugly as hell hateful shit. Perfect!”

“Seems like Asian crowds are super harsh and passionate as well. I’m into the Sri Lankan and Thai extreme metal scenes and looks like India is spawning some monster bands as well. I would really like to visit Japan to either or just see gigs there too…”

Considering the isolation of New Zealand, VK has been involved with several prominent bands within Black and Death Metal spheres across the globe as a live and recording artist. We discussed how these allegiances eventuated…

BLASPHEMY – “This year is my 10th year playing bass in Blasphemy. This came about during my tenure in Diocletian after I had worked out Weltering in Blood for a 7” we did and then sent copies to the Ross Bay Cult out of respect and heard back that they were into it and was in contact from then. Cut to 2009 and for whatever reason they were down to a 4 piece and had shows booked. Next thing I know I’m answering the War Command and rehearsing in Vancouver for a few weeks before Montreal and then Helsinki deathstrikes. And been there for most since.”

SINISTROUS DIABOLUS – “When I was younger, I would play in certain bands as a mercenary session player, but learned fairly early that I don’t belong on a stage if I don’t believe in the material I’m playing 100%. So the bands I’ve played for that I haven’t written or been part of are only bands I respect and will help out. An example is Sinistrous Diabolus who are our oldest and closest brother band to Vassafor. When/if asked to help with a live lineup I would always say yes to that without a second thought.”

TEMPLE NIGHTSIDE – “Since then I have been part of various bands but generally as a full member. One of those being Temple Nightside where I can focus on evil Death Metal guitar and not think of lyrics of vocals at all. TN is gearing up to record our next record which is the first to feature songwriting from all members of the band. So its been excellent going through the writing and demoing process of all the songs for the album. “


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CONSUMMATION seize power through a meticulous manifestation of Will

Consummation proliferated with vigour and malice from Brisbane, Australia in 2012 with their self-titled demo, followed up with several live appearances and then sporadically vanished into obscurity. This silence was not unproductive however, with the band continuing to solidify their craft in solitude …

The fruits of these endeavours were the 2017 Ritual Severance EP (Invictus Productions) followed by the full length album The Great Solar Hunter released June 2019 by Profound Lore Records.

We spoke with band founder Craig about catharsis through creation, underpinning philosophies, mythos, and literature which inspire the vision and future of the entity known as Consummation.


MANIFESTATION

– I discarded at least a dozen names between the project’s conception and the recording of the first demo.  The title Consummation came to me unexpectedly as an instantaneous thought one day followed by an instinctual resonance, that ‘knowing’ you get when you’ve got something right. The definition, ritual of completion, seemed a more than apt ethos to apply to this endeavour. First as a creative ethic and secondly for the personal catharsis that I am seeking through this project.

Prior to Consummation Craig was involved in several seminal bands within the Brisbane metal underground as a drummer. Upon founding the band his focus soon became inward, devoted solely to the pursuit of composing Consummation on guitar, driven by passion and the reward of the creative process.

– I started playing guitar not long after I began drumming and it wasn’t long before it took over as my main instrument. Originally, I think this had something to do with easier access, you can play a guitar until the small hours and not be inhibited by people within your proximity. Not only that but once you start creating riffs that you actually like it ignites a similar passion that’s experienced when you first start discovering bands in your early years. That’s the way of it for me at least. I’ve also found song writing to be the most rewarding aspect of being involved in music so the shift from drums to guitar was an inevitable one.

Existing as a way to “challenge myself creatively and to successfully create an amalgam of my favourite elements of extreme music.” Craig sheds light on the importance of sacrifice, challenges and having a creative outlet to deal with existential mundanity.

– First and foremost, I’d say it’s my own personal need to have a creative outlet. There’s a dull, grinding sense of ennui that grows into something much harder to tolerate when the creative aspect of living is ignored. Music is the only outlet I have found that can combat this ignoble sensation. Granted the countless hours of solitude while pursuing the creative process can bare its own rotten fruit, persistence through the chosen sacrifice can produce a satisfaction that can’t be found anywhere else. It’s a very good way to challenge the more base elements of your own nature.    

PHILOSOPHY

Considerable time and effort have gone into the crafting of Consummations sound, lyrics and objectives. Craig delves deeper into the philosophies that inspire the band, how they relate to and are reflected in his music and by extension his own life.

– As far as an overarching ethos goes, lyrically I tend to focus on subjects and themes that I’m exploring in my free time, whether it’s philosophy, mythology or religion. My greatest interest lies in the point where the three meet so this is generally the area that I try to operate in thematically.

– Books that I’m reading at the time directly influence the themes that are injected into Consummation’s music. I don’t really seek reading material out to try and find ideas as I maintain reading as a steady habit. Usually there are more ideas floating around in my head than the number of songs I have ready for application. You could say that this is the connection between the lyrics and my personal life.

Further delving into literature and philosophers which have influenced him – While not exclusive, Frederick Nietzsche, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell certainly played a heavy hand in influencing the themes for this album along with my own inclinations and tendencies. It wasn’t deliberate from the onset but reflecting on the thematic current that runs through the album – seeing as I’ve had to write about it in interviews after its release – it could certainly be said that at the core of each track you will find The Will to Power. By this I don’t mean some romantic, misconstrued perversion of the Overman – like what Elizabeth Förster helped introduce to Germany – but rather a strong sense of overcoming and expanding heavily laced with metaphor and sometimes, religious subtext.    

The title “The Great Solar Hunter” gives a strong sense of a timeless and universal archetype of heroism and conquest. This was further reflected in the artwork, lyrics and confirmed by Craig himself who details the nature of a hero as both a champion of life and death itself.

The Great Solar Hunter is actually a line taken out of Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, which is a phenomenal read for anyone interested in hero mythology. The song itself takes a look at the romanticised idea of the Hero archetype and the shift in paradigm when examining actual historical figures remembered as heroes. There is an inseparable relationship between the change that they bring and death on a large scale and yet mankind has always had an overwhelming affinity for these figures. To worship the hero is to also worship death, which is good and natural for some, but western culture definitely seems to shy away from this in modern times.

– Heavily inspired by the previously mentioned names, alongside particular religious texts, the album covers multiple topics that all relate to the shadow nature of man such as acquiring power through a developed capacity for suffering, self-initiation through individuation and ascension through violence (a topic already touched on in The Weightless Grip of Fire). As I mentioned above, these can all be viewed as thematic incarnations of the will to power.

SUBSTANCE & SUBJECT

Further expanding on the above, how do these philosophies correlate with the lyrics and the process of composing music with Consummation – which inspires which?

– I consider each track as an individual piece first and foremost. Once the songs have taken shape, I then consider their relationship with the others. How the material sits together will dictate how it gets released. Each song has to have its own flow first and then the songs are arranged in a way that allows the release to flow as a whole.

He further reiterates the importance of the music setting the direction and details the trials of creating lyrical concepts which reflect the music. 

– So, the music comes first and the lyrics second. I want each song to tell its own ‘musical narrative’ first and foremost, then the lyrical content is considered afterwards. The themes and lyrics present on album were given very careful consideration and presented one of the most challenging aspects of the album’s creation. Personally, I find extracting concepts from books or formulating an idea from knowledge acquired over the years to be a very natural thing. This can happen deliberately or unexpectedly when going about something mundane.

Drawing from the prose of other writers for inspiration was not without complications, especially in the initial approach. – Fleshing out an idea into a set of lyrics and moulding it in a way that will compliment an already existing song is quite a challenge for me seeing as I had very little experience with this at the time. In the beginning I was looking to poets like William Blake and Charles Baudelaire for inspiration, which actually proved to be a hindrance. Their command of language can cast a suffocating shadow over someone who is just starting out. In the end I decided to keep my mind away from the writing of others and just focus on fleshing out the concepts to the best of my ability. The end result was hardly poetic but it was something I was quite satisfied with.   

COMPOSITION

For Consummation, creating the foundational track is often a solitary endeavour of chasing an ever elusive “spark” of creativity and grasping it when it is attained with varying results. 

– I thrive on extended periods of solitude, especially when approaching the creative process so I’ve never really enjoyed trying to write material as a group. I find it can be frustrating, but I think a lot of this stems from my severe lack of musical knowledge. Most of the time, when writing, I’m fumbling around trying to find that ‘spark’ to kick off momentum. Sometimes this can take days and other times it can happen before I’ve even touched my guitar. Once it’s there I ride it out for as long as I can.

– Sometimes this spark can lead to an idea that becomes an entire song, for example Apotheoses was written from scratch in just a few days. However, most of the time a few segments come together and then I try and see where I can take them. Songs like the title track were written over a much longer period of time. There is material on the album that was written over 6 years ago. Once the songs are structurally sound, I hand them over to Joel and let him do whatever he wants to them. I have complete trust in his taste and ability.

REFORMATION

Despite tracks gestating for up to 6 years, Consummation had no releases between 2012-2017 and for a time it seemed to the outside world that the demo would be all that would materialise. Craig provides insights about the perceived silence from the band during these years.

– Fundamentally it was a lack of time and struggling to find the right line up. The demo was very easy to produce. There were no group rehearsals, no drummer and structurally, the material was a lot simpler. Most of the material for Ritual Severance was written shortly after the demo but I was heavily involved in Impetuous Ritual and several other projects at the time and we were also rehearsing with people who were involved in multiple other projects.

It became a massive struggle to get any momentum, so Joel and I decided to scale everything back to focus on writing and recording. I parted ways with the other bands I was involved in, invited Dave into the band to take care of the drumming, and then began focusing on recording the EP and completing the material set aside for The Great Solar Hunter.  

After suitable members had been identified and recruited, this new lineup would go on to form the basis for recording “Ritual Severance” and “The Great Solar Hunter”. 

Joel and I had worked together in other bands prior to Consummation. He stepped in to write and record the bass parts for the self-titled demo and has been involved ever since. Even though he isn’t involved in the initial writing phase, being as musically educated as he is, he brings a whole new layer to the music that I can’t find myself. His ear for detail compliments the music perfectly. 

Dave joined us after a couple of years of jamming and performing with a line up that never really worked out. The decision to disband the live line up and focus on recording material became glaringly obvious after a while. In that time we recorded and released both Ritual Severance and The Great Solar Hunter so now my focus has shifted back to taking this project live. I’m sorry to say that Joel won’t be joining us on stage as that’s not where his interest lies but rehearsals have begun and things are starting to take shape.

CONTINUITY, PROCESS,
& PRODUCTION

Listening to the EP and album consecutively, there seemed to be a current or continuation between both. The similarities were most notable with the endings of “Weightless Grip of Fire” from the EP and “Phosphor Libation” on the album. On whether this was an intentional recurrence or coincidental.

– Initially the EP material was intended for our first full length. The original plan was to go straight for an album after the demo, but things can change in the writing process. A lot of what is on The Great Solar Hunter existed before we recorded Ritual Severance but, to my ears, there was a bit of a gap between the older material and the new. We decided to split the material and do an EP first. This also gave us the opportunity to ‘test run’ the recording process seeing as we have a drummer that lives in a different city. 

Craig further states – any similarities weren’t necessarily deliberately intended but half of the album material was nearly going to be released alongside the EP tracks. There were two other songs recorded for the album that we decided to exclude because they didn’t sit well with the others. In retrospect we should have included these on Ritual Severance. Maybe they’ll see the light of day eventually, who knows?

Having members in different cities can have limitations, specifically with regards to recording. Whilst both Dave Haley (drums) and John Gossard (leads) are not strangers to this process, recording components independently has the potential of impacting the overall vision and output. Craig’s perspective on this recording process:

Both the album and Ritual Severance were recorded in the same fashion. We approached the recording of Ritual Severance as a kind of ‘warm up’ for the album. It would seem a little messy from the outside looking in, but it is a pretty straightforward process. The technology is there to be used if you’re willing. After the writing is done, everything is recorded as a demo and passed on to Dave who goes into the studio without us to record the drums. The drum tracks are passed back to Joel and I. We record all of our parts and hand the near finished songs over to John for him to add leads to. When all of that is done Joel and I will add the finishing touches. It’s rather mundane really, but it works for us.

Of note is the clarity and definition of this release whilst maintaining a sharp, harrowing, almost shrill and nightmarish tone. The bass sits in the back and reinforces the choral nature of the riffs, allowing room for the drums to dominate the centre, overall it comes through as heavily mid-focused. As such, there is not much of either “air” or “bottom end” to the release. This lends to a stifling atmosphere and an atypical sound for this style of music in reference to other bands as well as previous Consummation releases.

The end results proved satisfactory for the band, achieving a sound which was complimentary to the writing and vision.

– A lot of time and thought was put into crafting the guitar parts for this release. The majority of the sections on the album underwent a drawn out evolution from their more primitive inception. Joel also gave careful consideration to the underlying rhythm guitars and massively enhanced the underlying obscurity of a lot of these passages. We opted for clarity as a means to not obscure our efforts behind a murky production. It would have been a waste of carefully executed nuance. A small amount of pride could certainly be added to the reasoning along with straying from the expectation of bands who lean towards dissonance. 

Aside from the drums – which were recorded by Dave’s brother Joseph – and John’s leads, all the recording and mixing was handled in house by Joel. I sat on the side lines and observed for most of this process. We didn’t really start out with an end game in mind other than to create the album with the best tools at our disposal. Joel spent a long period of time mixing, trying to get the best outcome from what we had recorded. I believe he achieved this.

LIVE PRESENTATION

With the completion of their album and the foundation of a new line-up, Consummation can now direct their vision and will towards live audiences once again. Following years of reclusion and contemplation, what atmosphere and experience will the band look to convey?

Consummation hasn’t appeared on the stage for over four years now. There are many reasons for this, some being mundane and others having to do with what I mentioned previously – line up changes and juggling multiple bands etc. A decision was eventually made to put shows aside to allow us to focus solely on writing and recording an album. I can assure you that this is only temporary. Rehearsals have begun now that the album has seen the light of day. As far as future live performances go, all I’ll say is that I hope to deliver something honest that will do the songs justice.


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ANTICHRIST SIEGE MACHINE deliver a blasphemous call to arms with debut new track “Prime Mover” & exclusive interview

True to their name, Virginia black/death duo Antichrist Siege Machine has been carrying out iconoclastic raids upon the metal underground since their 2016 inception. Following several successful campaigns throughout the United States, their 2016 demo, EP Morbid Triumph, and last years Promo MMXVIII, they are now poised to unleash their debut full length album Schism Perpetration. The coming onslaught is due on LP by Stygian Black Hand and CD by Krucyator Production on August 24th.

Today Covenant premieres “Prime Mover” from the aforementioned Schism Perpetration – an album that sees the band exceed previous outputs with a more developed execution and sound, enhancing upon the barbarity of their formative releases.

From their foundation, there has been a singular purpose to Antichrist Siege Machine’s blunt force approach to music. We talk to drummer/vocalist SB about Antichrist Siege Machine’s past, their imminent album, and future strategems.


“ASM has been a project I wanted to form for many years but could not find a like-minded musician to write with. Z moved to Richmond and we immediately started working. We both wanted to create a sound channeling our influences and to bring an aggression not seen as often with modern acts,” states SB.

In addition to seminal bands in multiple destructive genres, he cites witnessing the destruction of surrounding natural resources, a scorn for religion, and the onset of wars as influences. Whilst many of the topics are not limited to specific events and instead focus on the phenomenon, ideas, and principles, they do draw from personal experience and observation. “As far as music influences, we draw from classic death metal, hardcore punk, and industrial music,” he continues. “We revere the progenitors of this genre: Conqueror, Archgoat, Proclamation, and others. For non-musical influences, I draw inspiration from atrocities committed by the Christian church and the onset of war. I work in land conservation and pull many themes from the carnage I see across Appalachia being perpetrated by monopolized power companies.”

Much of ASM’s material wrestles with ideas versus the recounting of specific periods in time. While something could have happened in 1138, it could also occur in 2020 because the mindset is still there. “As for me saying, ‘onset of wars’ I am referring to the moment or spark in which the flames of aggression burn. That moment is what I seek to draw attention to; not the following violence and not the carnage left over, but the catalyst that triggers the action,” SB states. “I can only draw from my personal experiences for ASM and those are somewhat unique at least among those I’ve encountered in aggressive music. Being raised in a highly sheltered environment sowed the seeds of dissension and rebellion much deeper than those of my peers. I grew to loathe the church and all its co-conspirators. ASM has given me a voice to criticize and blaspheme these crimes against humanity. Abuse is something many are forced to reckon with and I challenge the victims to viciously attack their abusers without mercy.”

Their lyrics draw from the themes mentioned with the execution of the music further sustained with inner conflict, aggression and scorn. “The driving forces behind ASM are warfare against Christianity and the triumph of secular will. Lyrics have taken on a deeper meaning as we have progressed. Initially, the drum parts dictated what the vocals would be as I wrote the words to fit within specific parameters,” he clarifies. “The band has refined this process through each release with growing importance, in itself creating the driving force behind the band.” SB also adds that, “now, ASM’s lyrics reflect much of my own inner conflict and aggression.”

Wielding aggression seems to function as an essential tool in ASM’s creative process. “Aggression is absolutely mandatory for ASM songs. We cannot create without it. Writing these songs requires being in a specific state of mind and if both of us are not there, we cannot work on the band.” Cultivating the mind-set to compose, so to speak. SB proclaims that, “it involves isolation and peace to channel it. Physical fitness is a big part of this band. In order to even be able to perform these songs live, I’ve had to adjust my own breathing habits while drumming and learn new techniques. Cardio is paramount.”

It doesn’t take long for SB to elucidate where exactly this eternal source of fury generates. “Through my work, I witness a lot of tragic sights regarding deforestation and destruction of open-space for human defilement. It is difficult to not become enraged at what this part of the country is undergoing.”

Being a two piece has benefited the band with forging their sound, the creative process, and playing live with minimal disadvantages. From this approach they are able to retain control over the vision without compromise, with an agreed singular purpose and organic writing process – further aiding their productivity. Reflecting upon this arrangement SB adds, “to us, the advantages greatly outweigh the limitations. We precisely target the sound ASM requires. Our writing process is fluid. The difficult part is that we are both involved in many other projects and unfortunately cannot practice very often.”

“Many of our songs have been written from the drums,” he mentions. “Z writes proper [stringed] parts to convey the violence inherent in the drumming. The rest of our songs are the result of collaborative efforts. When writing together we typically will create 15-20 minutes of chaos. The songs make themselves apparent and we split them into cohesive attacks.” In terms of taking this hellish sound to the live arena, he clarifies that, “ASM did not begin as an entity that would play live. It was after the large interest garnered with the 2016 demo that we decided to attempt to play the songs live. It took a little while for my body to adjust to drumming and singing, but now it is somewhat second nature. As far as future ambitions, we would like to continue to tour when able to and visit as many countries outside the United States as we can.”

Antichrist Siege Machine’s first album will be out very shortly, and clocking in at 29 minutes of raw barbaric black/death, it is a purposefully concise salvo. During the writing and recording process for Schism Perpetration, the importance of being selective with their material was paramount. “We felt we were able to convey our intention within that span of time. As far as future records are concerned, it will depend on the way we write the material. Much of Schism Perpetration was written in a short time and when we both feel inspired; we try to write as much as we can. We reject much more than we accept as far as songs go. They will be reworked many times before being performed live as ASM has a distinct sound. If a song sounds good to us but does not fit within ASM’s other material, it is often scrapped.”

Our writing process was somewhat protracted because our schedules didn’t permit us to meet as much as we had been able to,” SB recalls. A move that actually could have been a blessing in disguise, allowing the visionary to further delve into the topical inspiration for this release. “Since this album took much longer, much more time was spent constructing the message for Schism Perpetration,” he reveals. “I had the album title in my head two years ago. It came to me when studying the split within the Christian church in the 11th century. Much of the themes of this record have to do with spreading blasphemy and invoking righteous violence for one’s beliefs.

The album was once again recorded with the band’s trusted ally BQ, responsible for harnessing the Antichrist Siege Machine sound thus far. “He recorded Morbid Triumph and our 2018 promo tape. I have worked with him for many years and he understands what ASM is communicating. ZLAL of Heavy Breathing and Predation fame has also been a collaborator on every effort following our demo. He brings a vast knowledge of analog sound equipment and enables us to recreate the aggression of our live performances for the recorded tracks.”

The topic of spiritual zealotry is recurrent through history and as the band alluded to previously, but it is not limited to a specific time or historical circumstance. “Religious extremism is still driving much of the conflict seen in the world. Especially in the Middle East, we know that this violence will not cease in our lifetimes,” he deftly admits. With the growth of secularism within society, we’re genuinely curious if the phenomenon would cease or whether it is inherent to human nature, likely to be supplemented by a whole new beast of delusion. “America has been moving in a secular direction but people are still looking for ideologies to force upon others. I think religion will always be there. It may not be what we call ‘religion’ today, but, throughout time, it has proven to be a shapeshifter used by influential people to dominate the weak-minded. Some need to cling to religion for perceived salvation. Others need an entity to eternally wage warfare against. The duality of these things is what ASM seeks to identify. Without darkness there is no light.”

“I am apocalyptic despair and Utopian hope. I am you, therefore I kill”


Upcoming Shows: 
8/24 Richmond, VA record release show at Wonderland with Abysmal Lord and Vimur  
—–Tour with Bog Body—– 
8/25 Atlanta, GA at 529  
8/26 Gainesville, FL at Durty Nelly’s 
8/27 Charleston, SC at Big Gun 
8/28 Raleigh, NC at The Maywood 
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8/30 New York, NY at Union Pool with Impure, Ordeals, and Bog Body

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Review

ARES KINGDOM conjure the vitriol of their collective work on “By the Light of Their Destruction”

Harnessing the legacy of past and present potency, US Death\Thrash veterans Ares Kingdom return with their 4th and strongest album to date By the Light of Their Destruction. From the onset this album exudes power. Introduced with a cosmic soundscape, the exalted opening chords ring out of “The Hydra Void” shortly after. The track further affirms itself and sets the precedent for the album, unleashing ripping pace and delivery which continues throughout. Track by track the pulverising momentum charges forth, unrelenting until the trudging of “Allegory”.

Following the well positioned reprieve, the onslaught continues with the second half of the album pounding forth with renewed vigour. Expanding on the merciless atmosphere and further establishing dominance with standout tracks such as “The Bones of All Men” and “Iconologia”. In wake of the blazing trail lit throughout, the fire subsides much in the way it came, with the outro complimentary to the beginning.

The mix is well balanced overall with an emphasis on visceral aggression synonymous with their sound. Vicious call and response vocals seer, guitars gnash and mangle with precision, reinforced by the bass to create a dense and swamping atmosphere. The battering drums also stand out, with Mike Miller’s signature pinging snare and kick drums that actually register a bass frequency.

The tracks are well composed, expertly balancing blunt force riffing, entwined with lashes of melody and memorability reminiscent of genre stalwarts such as Slaughter Lord, Bolt Thrower and Ares Kingdom’s seminal forebears Order from Chaos. Whilst their songwriting prowess is firmly set in the old school, it isn’t at all reductive and retains a strong identity of its own.


Ares Kingdom have managed to accurately capture the spirit of Death/Thrash Metal with convincing prowess and assertiveness. There are no meaningless frills, convoluted, over-intellectualised pomp or need to please and impress the fickle. They achieve what they set out to do and present something that is intelligent, fiery and reeks of the confidence and surety that comes with experience. The result is one of the standout albums of this style in years past.


NUCLEAR WAR NOW! RECORDS shall be responsible for the release of this modern legendary release on all formats.

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