Thursday, 21 September 2017
BLACK ANVIL INTERVIEW - MAJESTIC MALEVOLENCE.
New York black metal horde Black Anvil unleashed their 4th full length album "As Was" earlier in the year once again via Relapse Records, this latest opus sees a band truly coming into their own sound wise, it is malevolently majestic and is a more diverse musical beast than it's predecessors and one which has grown a couple more heads.
"As Was" may be their most refined, progressive and mature sounding album to date but it still packs a very potent and powerful punch. The band are currentl;y touring throughout Europe in support of the latest opus and will also soon embark on a second trek in the states as support to Mayhem with fellow new yorkers Immolation also on the tour package. We caught up with vocalist/bassist P.D. to find out more.
Your latest album was recently unleashed - what can the readers expect from this latest full length Black Anvil offering? How would you describe it/sum it up in your own words?.
It's sometimes hard for me to put it into words. I end up saying some pretty generic shit. But, this record was a huge leap forward for us in many ways. At times it's simpler musically. I think it's important when you can find a way to take some simple ideas that a million people have created/recreated etc, and still make it special or "different". We took some chances & did what we wanted to do & are very proud across the boards with the end result. So what to expect? Expect our best.
Please introduce the line up. You underwent a line up changed a little while ago. Long term guitarist Gary Bennett was replaced by Travis Bacon? Why did Gary leave and how did you end up finding Travis? What qualities do you feel he has brought into the band as a musician?
The band is, Raeph on drums. He's been my right hand man alongside Gary for many years now. Sos on guitar. He joined during the writing of Hail Death as we needed to step up & be able to write broader. So a second guitarist was mandatory. Sos is a beast. On top of that, he came into our world & naturally became a part of this brotherhood we got goin on here. That was huge cause we as people sorta tend to stick together & are not always accepting of new faces. Being able to consider him a brother is an honor. Last year, Gary decided to step down from the band. His mind/heart wasn't in it & while we were writing As Was in the early stages, he expressed this all & it went down. There's many personal aspects of it & there were some ups & downs, end of the day tho, that's my guy, and in this case blood is thicker than water. So, we had to accept goodbye. We also could not let this break us. As it is a big hit to lose a brother like this. Enter Travis. Travis has filled in for Gary on some tours. We've known each other some years so, it made sense he becomes a part of this. He made this whole transition seamless & kept the morale up.
Where was the album recorded and why did you use the locations and people you chose to record at/with? What do you feel they brought into the album recording?
We recorded the record in Queens, NY with Colin Marston at his studio, Menegrath. Mixing & Mastering was handled by Tore Stjerna in Stockholm, Sweden at Necromorbus Studio. We initially wanted to get Tore over here to make the whole thing but, schedules were a bit scattered & we had to do it this was in pieces which initially, the thought was rather frightening. How do you spend this time with someone to make this, and express feelings via email & just pass it to someone & put all your trust in this person?? Colin has an amazing studio & the setting/vibe was really perfect for us. Tore, is a master at his craft. There's many records of his I love for all different reasons. Yet, not one of them sound anything as I imagined this would. He completely blew us away, keeping OUR sound, which is some real NY shit, through his eyes. It's really perfect & beyond the expectations we had.
The production is very powerful, sharp and refined but organic what did you want to achieve with the sound on the new album? What was your aim?
That was exactly our aim, and exactly what we achieved. Our demos always have this "mystery" to them, it's cause they're done mad ghetto, and there's this magic that never translates when a professional makes it into a record. Which is cool, cause we're always happy with our end results, but I knew Tore would understand what I meant when i explained this to him.
What formats is it available on? How did the deal with Relapse initially come about in the first place? Are you satisfied with their work so far.
It's available on CD/LP & digitally. Relapse was the first label to show interest in us. The first record was released on Reflections/Monumentum based out of The Netherlands via our close friend. Relapse soon after expressed wanting to re-release it here and sign us. Relapse has quite a back catalog & it made complete sense to sign with them.
What inspired the album title "As Was"?
The last record was Hail Death, and the conversation was, "what comes after death?" And "As Was" was simply stated in my car by Raeph. It made so much sense. To us it represents primordial chaos. And returning to form/nothing.
Tell us about the cover art concept?
This sigil was created for us by Valnoir of Metastazis, Paris.
What subjects made you want to put pen to paper lyrically for the new opus?
It's always something. There's a duality to the words, it can be something as simple as "Yo, this dudes wack" in the sense of a hip hop diss track. Or someone or something sets us off & inspires a song. So with that basic flame in mind, how do we make it ours & beyond the surface of something which in the grand scheme means nothing & turn it into something holy? And that's where it always takes a new form & can have dual meaning. It's not hard to read between the lines.
In your opinion what are the significant differences in the material on the new album compared to the previous one?
Well, it's always us. We just grow in different ways. I think this sounds like Black Anvil. Just grown a bit more, and way more focused.
Do you feel like there has been much of a progression and evolution in terms of songwriting?
Absolutely. If we're not doing that, what's the point? We should always be challenging ourselves in this sense. Also, it should not be a "challenge", if that makes sense. I feel we've definitely created something of our own & something original.
Theres a good mix of raging aggression and more toned down atmospheric passages with quite a few riff and tempo changes throughout - what kind of vibe were you aiming to create?
There was no direct aim. Other than being creative & letting everything breathe & develop.
There is quite a few clean vocals mixed in with the scathing screams which makes for a striking contrast...why did you decide to go for a mix of styles so prominently this time around?
Yeah, there was a conscious effort as we went along. Some parts of songs we felt just required it. If we're hearing a melody or harmony, why not add it? Why limit ourselves.
How did the album material come together from when you started the writing process?
Well, with Gary leaving early on, it put some pressure on us. He was checked out & it was apparent. Therefore the writing can't continue that way. So, without revealing all that much as it's not super exciting, we buckled down & put our hearts into it until it felt complete.
What made you want to play the style of music you play with Black Anvil? What helped to fuel and shape the bands overall sound?
A huge inspiration to start this band was Celtic Frost reforming & reinventing themselves. It was also a time when our other projects were coming to an end, and we always wanted to do something in this regard. There are many things that inspire us non music related as well. Every day life, spirituality, many things come into play & we needed a vehicle to express these feelings.
Why this band name? Where does it originate from? What does it represent to you? Please tell us about why you settled on it.
Gary coined it. He just said "what about Black Anvil" with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest in mind. As simple as it was, we also found it to be effective.
Black Anvil is very active as a live entity? Do you plan to go out and play live much in support of the album? Any tours lined up? What can crowds expect from a Black Anvil live performance?
Yes, we plan on coming to Europe in the fall, as well as another US run following that.
You recently toured with Mayhem across the states, how was that experience? Any anecdotes of standout memories from that tour you'd like to share?
Nothing worth the mention, it was a very successful tour for us. The vibe between the bands was perfect. All respect each others privacy which is important. No bullshit.
What is your opinon on the current black metal scene both domestically and internationally? Any bands out there that you feel a particular affinity with? Tell us about the NYBM scene.
I don't really have that much of an opinion. Every move everyone makes someone has an opinion & is offended & it's pretty embarrassing & not the reason I was drawn to this from the beginning. So, the state of the scene is whatever. Well focus on ourselves & our brother bands. There's a good handful of bands we've bonded with over the years, Urfaust being one of the most important. Terratur Possessions record label being another entity if great importance. There are strong bonds beyond the music here.
The members of the band originate from the NYHC and crustpunk scene, a few various members having spent time in HC legends Kill Your Idols for example aswell as live duties for Cro-Mags, how were you first exposed to black metal and what was it about the music etc that initially struck a chord with you?
We all grew up in NYC. Which now is almost a rarity. But we got into hardcore through metal. We vary in age, Raeph being the oldest. He'll be 48. I'll be 40. Sos & Travis are luckily younger haha. But all the same background. I've been exposed to Black Metal for years. The usual suspects did the job there. Venom, Bathory, Mercyful Fate. Metal magazines lent a hand. Raeph also lent a huge hand to me, sort of fitting in as an older brother taking me under his wing. I think I was 15 when I met him? He's responsible for opening my mind a lot & always pushing me. Of course metal in general was attractive, but, for example, the darker the imagery, the more allure. I've always personally been attracted to these "darker" things, religious elements etc.
Have you recieved any negative responses from elite black metal fans due to your HC background or have most people in BM generally been open minded towards you?
Of course, there's always someone with a big mouth that wants to run it. Usually it's someone that doesn't know the history of our old band, the history of us as individuals, where we're from & who we are. So, gotta let that shit roll off. We're the ones out here doin this shit, they're the ones hating on a message board. So, we're generally unaffected. There have been times where we took matters into our own hands & had to shut some shit down when it got too personal. So we take it as it comes.
Would you say "As Was" really sees Black Anvil coming into it's own sound wise and is the most unique sounding album you've done thus far? Where do you see your sound progressing from here on?
I do think this 110%. Like I've said, we're not breaking ground like seeing Jimi Hendrix for the first time, BUT, we definitely have something that stands on its own & isn't comparable to much. You'd think naturally, we continue & get more melodic? But, it's really unanswerable at the moment. Who knows where we are mentally when we write the next record. It's anyone's guess. But it WILL sound like us, and it will grow in some other fucked up direction just as it's done thus far.
The last words are yours...