Thank Thomas Thorn, and Ashencult & Jesse Pollock’s book
My feelings on magic:
I want to say this at the top because Other than those of musicians that have proven themselves to be horrible people, I don’t want to hurt any feelings on this show. Magic as it is traditionally understood rubs my deep rooted sense of cosmic nihilism and thoughts on man’s utter insignificance in the universe make it hard for me to accept that we as human beings have the ability to tap into unseen forces, or that any unseen entities would give a shit about anything we do. That said, I do not necessarily consider myself a skeptic. If there is any sense of cynicism, pretentiousness, or skepticism that comes through when I’m talking about any of this, know that it is not a reflection on anyone’s beliefs or abilities, it is a reflection on myself, my biases and bitterness, I want everyone who isn’t a fan of Ghost to feel welcome when they’re listening to this podcast so please know that any negativity is not deliberate or done with any malice.
I also want to apologize if anyone feels that we are misrepresenting their belief systems or ideologies. Please keep in mind that this is a Heavy Metal podcast, and our primary focus is on the music. I have tried to distill very complex ideologies into single paragraphs or less. I will be the first to admit that in that regard I have probably failed, but again know that this is done for the sake of time, and not a dismissal of anyone’s belief systems. If you feel I have fundamentally misrepresented a school of magick or philosophy you adhere to, please call us out, and I will gladly post any rebuttals to the website as part of the show notes.
Electric Hellfire Club – Burn, Baby Burn
Country: Kenosha, Wisconsin (Now based in Florida)
Years Active: 1991-2011, 2013-present
Released: October 25th, 1993
Label: Cleopatra Records
Studio: Smart Studios
Sabrina Satana – Bass, Dancer, Vocals (backing)
Thomas Thorn “Buck Ryder” – Vocals, Programming
Ronny Valeo – Guitars
Shane “Rev. Dr. Luv” Lassen – Keyboards
Richard Frost – Drums
Otto Maddix – Technical & Immoral Support
Brian Daly – Producer, Engineering
Thomas Thorn – Producer
Rev. Dr. Luv – Producer
Otto Maddix – Producer
Artwork: Thomas Thorn
It’s impossible to discuss the formation of Electric Hellfire Club without first discussing the career of Thomas Thorn. Thorn had started his musical career in some Wisconsin punk and post-punk bands before forming the influential Power Electronic’s band Slave State with his best friend Boris Dragos in 1987.
Slave State, though only releasing a single demo, 1988’s “Age of Man” the cassette had far reaching impact, having been cited by Godflesh founder Justin Broderick as a major inspiration, and Godflesh’s Slave State EP takes its name from the band.
The band moved to Chicago with the intention of getting signed with influential industrial label Wax Trax. While the band didn’t get signed, Thomas did get an offer to play keyboards in the band My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult for a tour.
During this time Boris took what was supposed to be a quick trip to California, but was involved in a bar fight and couldn’t leave the state until after the court date. However he began having thoughts of staying and he and Thomas would have several heated debates over the future of the band. Unfortunately discussions were cut short when Boris would take his own life before Thomas returned from the tour. .
Thomas stayed with Thrill Kill for a few years, leaving slightly before the release of their fourth album Sexplosion! Citing dissatisfaction with the direction the band was going in (they had ditched their Satanic imagery and integrated more disco into their sound) and some lingering desires to have his own creative project.
He was working on a solo project when he was contacted by Shane Lassen and Ronny Valeo to help them out with a band they were trying to get together. Thomas had met Shane & Ronny at various Thrill Kill shows, as they were fans of the band. Shane was also cousins with two notorious local punk rockers Dean and Don Lipke who Thomas knew from his hardcore days,which helped build an early connection between the trio Shane himself had been in several local Keno-core bands, a scene noted for it’s integration of glam rock influences into the sound and Ronny was one of two guitar players that had played on the influential and highly regarded Target: Earth album by progressive power metal band Screamer in 1988. Ronny also operated a record store called Grand Central with his brother.
The three got on so well that Thomas ditched the idea of a solo project in favor of forming an actual band with Ronny and Shane. They quickly added a drummer named Eric Petterson to their live shows. Eric was a teen drum prodigy that had started hanging out around Grand Central, and eventually became Ronny’s roommate. Ronny insisted that they audition him, and Thomas was impressed by his ability. Sabina joined soon after though she was initially just as a back-up singer and dancer before also taking bass duties. Eric was then replaced with Richard Frost shortly before the recording of the debut, due to a drug related falling out he had with Ronny.
During this period Thomas was living beneath Grand Central. Much of the material that ended up on BBB was written during this early period. The songs Incubus and Temple of Flesh which would later be released on the Kiss the Goat album were also written during this period, but were deliberately held back to avoid the dreaded “Sophmore slump”
The band had several major label offers, however they all requested the band turn down the satanic element of their sound, which they refused to do. They eventually assigned to Cleopatra, which had only been founded in 1992, but was already making a name for itself by signing and promoting a second wave of goth and industrial and providing a home for some of the more experimental New Wave holdovers from the 80’s
Smart Studios, was founded by Butch Vig and Steve Marker in 1983. Though located in Madison Wisconsin, it became a seminal studio for the noise and grunge of the early 90’s with Killdozer, The Smashing Pumpkins, L7, Tad Juster, and Nirvana all recording there. The studio would eventually be used by Vig and Marker’s own band Garbage.
At the time of EHC was in the studio, Butch had just returned from the Siamese Dream sessions in Atlanta. He was evidently instantly smitten with Sabina (despite being married) and asked her out several times. He was present during enough of the recording and offered enough input on the mix that Thomas states he could have given him a producer credit if he had been inclined.
On the subject of the mix Thomas stated that Ronny left the studio before we started mixing because he wanted to get Home to his teenage girlfriend. When he heard the mix of the album he was FURIOUS because the guitars were too low for his taste. The president of Cleopatra was soliciting opinions and played it for Klaus Larsen of Laetherstrip (a prominent Danish electronic artist) who supposedly said “Aaaghhh…too many guitar” in his thick Danish accent.
The mix was a point of contention when the album was released, industrial purists sharing Klaus’ sentiment on the guitars and metalheads complaining it was too low in the mix. Thomas points out that within a few years, this blend would be the status quo for industrial metal.
Producer Brian Daily would eventually be a staff producer for Smart, however sources indicate this began in 1994 so he may have still been a freelancer or a temp at this point. He would eventually go on to co-found DNA Music Labs and is a musician in his own right, playing in indie rock band Sunshine for the Blind (not to be confused with the goth band of the same name)
Thomas would say of Brian “Brian was a super nice guy. We recorded “Root of All Evil” (A song from their second album) with him at his home studio a month after the release of BBB. He had a studio in one bedroom of his house and a hole cut through the drywall so he could see you from the control room in the other bedroom. Brian screwed up the track markers on the first pressing of the cd…invocation and Age of Fire play as track one with no separation. If you find a copy of BBB with only 12 tracks instead of the 13 that are listed, that’s one of the first 3000.”
The mysterious Otto Mattix, credited on the album, is not the same Otto Mattix later credited on a TKK release.
Thomas did the artwork and stated that is was inspired (not suprisingly) by the norwegian church burnings of the time.
Well, I would first say that there’s no such thing as “LaVeyan Satanism”. He was the first to codify it. If it isn’t the philosophy Dr. LaVey defined, it’s not Satanism.
That being said, I am influenced by a lot of different philosophies. At the time I wrote the songs on BBB I was melding ideas from the Marquis DeSade, Nietzsche, Timothy Leary, Aleister Crowley, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Charles Manson, The Satanic Bible, and a handful of other sources while blending it with psychedelia, and all the while paying homage to black metal church burners in Scandinavia.
I owed allegiance to no single person or philosophy and shamelessly mixed a cocktail of “drugs, death and the devil” knowing full well that Anton LaVey said “no self-respecting Satanist would ever take a mind-altering substance”. When I met LaVey years later we even talked about that and he still asked me to accept the honor of CoS priesthood. At the end of the day, Satanism is about being true to yourself, not a bunch of rules in a book.
I will say that during my service in the EHC, I became increasingly angry, bitter, jaded, and ultimately broken. I was the archetypical man who “just wants to watch the world burn”. When I finally walked away from the smoldering wreckage of EHC, it took me ten years to heal and become whole.
As far as magic, I believe it’s both. I believe we can channel energy with our minds through proper ritual, but I also believe there are unseen external forces beyond explanation or understanding that we can interact with and occasionally employ to multiply our own energy. I don’t claim to have any explanations of how or answers of why, I just know what I’ve encountered, what I’ve experienced, and what works.
Blood of the Black Owl – A Banishing Ritual
Country: Seattle, Washington
Years Active: 2004-2005 (as Svart Ugle), 2005-present
Released: February 27th, 2010
Label: Bindrune Recordings
Chet W. Scott – All instruments, Ritual Elements
James Woodhead – Unknown
Unknown (Presumably Chet)
According to Chet, Blood of the Black Owl has it’s origins in 1991 when he heard Winter’s Into Darkness. He felt it expanded on and slowed down the sound of Celtic Frost, another band he was heavily influenced by and it is a sound he became obsessed with.
Chet would start working on some of the ideas that would eventually be worked into Blood of the Black Owl material as early as 1995. However several earlier projects would come earlier. Chet released material under the names Ruhr Hunter (later called Cycle of the Raven Talons, a post industrial project), Triage, The Elemental Chrysalis, and Your Cell: Yourself. He would also release material for future BOTBO member James Woodhead.
The most crucial musical endeavour leading up to BOTBO was called Svart Ugle, and was basically a predecessor to BOTBO, releasing a self titled EP/Demo in 2005. This was the first recordings of the material written in the mid-ninties. This EP would mark the first time Chet would have an album released by Bindrune Recordings, a Black, Doom, and Dark ambient label, that specializes in more experimental material.
The name change would occur in 2005. Their S/T debut, again consisting of material written much earlier, coming the same year, and the second album A Feral Spirit and a split w/ Bindrune labelmates Celestial following in 2008.
This album is a continuation of the evolution of sound, technically consisting of one song, and as the title implies is very much supposed to be a ritualistic exercise for Chet.
Chet’s beliefs come from two source. Native American traditions mixed with Heathenry.
I can’t find specific information on what tribes Chet has studied, so out of respect for him and the tribes themselves, I don’t want to presume he is taking note of any particular belief system, beyond mentioning the concepts of totems and Mother Earth & Father Sky. He does seem to be equally influenced by the Heathen movement, a modern interpretation of the traditions of Germanic pagans pre-Christianization. There is very limited documentation of what continental germanic traditions of the time. Though roman historians note the lack of high priests, and a pantheon of gods based around nature. It should be noted that “germanic” denotes the Norse traditions as well, which is far more well documented. Modern movements do there best to reconstruct the religion based on the surviving folklore, limited anecdotal and historical records. As such there is no real definitive doctrine for the religion, though it is generally polytheistic, and Animistic, meaning that it believes all things are imbued with individual spirits. It makes heavy use of rituals to connect with these natural spirits.
Haxxan – Loch Ness Rising
Country: Wellsville, Ohio
Years Active: 2011-present
Released: December 23rd, 2016
Label: Hells Headbangers Records
Studio: Thelema Studios
Shawn Slusarek – Guitars
Killjoy – Synthesizer, Vocals
Jake Arnette – Bass
Serge Streltsov – Drums
Killjoy – Producer
Grzegorz Kulawiak – Mixing, Mastering
Maxime Taccardi – Cover art
Cryptworm – Layout
Haxxan is really just Necrophagia. Necrophagia is an incredibly important band. They are one of the first death metal bands, having released their first material, a demo titled Death Is Fun in May 1984, the same year as Death (As Manta’s) Death by Metal EP and a year before the release of Seven Churches. They’re also notable for being from Ohio. They will probably be the crux of the Mid-western Death metal episode, whenever that arises.
With that said It should be noted that Jake and Serg were actually in Haxxan prior to being integrated into the Necrophagia lineup. Also notable is that Shawn & Serg swap roles for Haxxan, Shawn plays drums in Necrophagia and Serg Guitars.
Gregorz, the mixer and masterer is bassist in the polish symphonic black metal band Ravendusk, the cover artist Maxime Taccardi is a French painter, notable for often incorporating his own blood into his pieces, and is also a musician. He has contributed vocals to various projects, and has his own two man black/ambient project called K.F.R
The band represents Killjoy’s lifelong interest in Crowley’s work and life. The album name taking inspiration from Crowley’s time in Boleskine House, memorable for his attempt to perform a month’s long ceremony called the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage that is intended to put one in touch with their guardian angel. For a good representation of this ceremony check out the film A Dark Song.
Link to Crowley Timeline
Skyclad – A Burnt Offering for the Bone Idol
Country: Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Years Active: 1990-present
Released: April 8th, 1992
Label: Noise Records
Studio: Lynx Studios, Newcastle.
Graeme English – Bass, Guitars (classical)
Steve Ramsey – Guitars (lead), Guitars (12 string), Guitars (classical)
Keith Baxter – Drums, Percussion
Martin Walkyier – Vocals
Dave Pugh – Guitars (lead)
Fritha Jenkins – Violin, Mandolin, Keyboards, Vocals (backing)
Kevin Ridley – Producer, Mixing
Simon Osborne – Engineering
Karl-U. Walterbach – Executive producer
Andreas Marschall – Cover art
Skyclad is a supergroup of sorts. The idea for the group came from discussions between Martin Walkyier and Steve Ramsey. Martin had come from Sabbat and Steve from the band Satan, though they weren’t going by that name at the time, but more on that in a minute.
We discussed Sabbat in the concepts album episode, specifically what is considered their magnum opus Dreamweaver (Reflections of Our Yesterdays). The band had been in trouble for some time before this album’s release. They had signed to Noise Records because of their roster, against the wishes of pretty much everyone they knew that had read the contract.
The band had built up a respectable following, and were making a tiny bit of money from a steady stream of merchandise sales, but the label was completely disinterested in pushing them, and their management team seemed equally disinterested. To quote Martin “We had complete artistic freedom, but not for the right reasons. It was because they didn’t give a flying fuck.”
The lack of push was especially frustrating because of the band’s financial status. They were living off of government assistance at the time of the Dreamweaver sessions. There was also tension about the direction of the band. Martin wanted to take the band in a direction similar to what Skyclad would become, while guitarist Andy Seap wanted to make the band a more progressive thrash band.
While a progressive folk metal band isn’t really all that incompatible of a concept now, Martin who was also the band’s lyricist didn’t find his style compatible with the 11 minute Rush-esque songs Andy was writing for Dreamweaver.
The band broke up during the recording of the album, but came back together to complete it, and attempted to tour but the splintered again by 1990. Andy & Drummer Simon Fegus put a new version of the band together releasing a now out of print and disowned third album called Mourning has Broken.
While all this Sabbat business was going on Steve & Graeme were in a band called Pariah. Pariah released two albums in 1988 and 1989 before splitting up. Before this, the band was briefly called Blind Fury, and prior to that were the highly influential NWOBHM band Satan, known for their rather advanced (for the time) blend of speed and power metal. Whether you call the Blind Fury & Pariah era’s different bands, or just different names, is a matter of semantics, as Satan’s line up was never stable, save for Steve. though Graeme was a relative constant
Initially the talks were between Steve & Martin, and Graeme was brought in later. They used a drum machine to record their demo and were then signed to Noise.
I’m unsure if Martin returned to Noise because he was still under contract, or if it was a “the devil you know” situation. But Karl & Co. were apparently impressed with the demo and signed the band.
Teen prodigy drummer Keith Baxter was brought in, and this lineup recorded the band’s groundbreaking but thematically shaky debut The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth. That album has the touches of folk that would later be a cornerstone of Skyclad’s sound, but is more in line with traditional Thrash.
The band would commit more fully to the folk sound they explored on the debut, adding second guitarist Dave who had previously been in UK Thrash outfit D.A.M. and had been friends w/ Kevin and strings player Fritha Jenkins
Producer Kevin Ridley was the producer for the last Pariah album, but was well established by this having worked w/ Venom, Atomkraft and several lesser known UK metal acts. He would later be Skyclad’s guitarist and after Martin’s exit, their eventual vocalist.
Engineer Simon Osborne has no other metal credits, but is a well known engineer in the UK, most relevant to the hosts he worked prominently with Phil Collins and Sting.
The band would begin work on their third album Jonah’s Ark almost immediately after this.
Walkyier’s pagan beliefs seem to come from a multitude of services. Celtic & Anglo-Saxon paganism/polytheism, the concept of Wyrd being of particular note considering The Way of Wyrd: Tales of an Anglo-Saxon Sorcerer being the primary source for the Dreamweaver concept, Wyrd being an Anglo-Saxon belief roughly equatable to the concept of personal destiny. The name Skyclad, would also indicate some sort of influence from Wicca, as the term, though based on the alleged nudity of ancient witchcraft practitioners, has it’s origins in modern times. Much like the germanic pagan traditions in the modern era, the current practices are based on surviving folklore, anecdotal accounts by Romans and archeological evidence. Because of the multitude of modern branches of these religions and because of his interest in paganism as a broad topic, it’s impossible to know exactly what Martin’s personal philosophy is.
Nefilim – Zoon
Country: Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England
Years Active: 1992-1996
Released: April 22nd, 1996
Label: Beggars Banquent
Studio: Unknown, Possibly Carl’s home studio?
Cian Houchin -Bass, Programming (additional)
Simon Rippin – Drums
Paul Miles – Guitars
Carl McCoy – Vocals, Additional instruments, Lyrics
John Dent – Mastering
McCoy – Producer, Mixing
Sheer Faith – Images and Sleeve Artwork
Alison Fielding – Layout
Nefilim began when Carl McCoy left Fields of the Nephilim in 1991. While the specifics of his leaving have never been revealed, Carl did issue a statement in Melody Maker that year that he couldn’t work with the band’s management any longer. Peter Yates (Nephilim guitarist) echoed the sentiment, stating problems had been bubbling up since the recording of Elizium, and that had Carl not initiated the break up, the band would have.
The other members of Fields would recruit a singer named Andy Delany and continue on as Rubicon, while Carl would start recruiting musicians for a new Nephilim project. Initially there was an indication the new project would bear the full Fields of the Nephilim
The band would begin recording in 1993 even prior to the lineup being completely solidified a single song called Chaocracy was released on a Beggar’s group comp called Deafening Divinities With Aural Affinities. This song received mixed reactions from the Field’s fanbase.
With Cian, Paul and Simon in the band, they would perform some live gigs, one of which is bootlegged on a CD entitled Saturnalia. This live period marks the shift in sound to the full on Industrial/Death metal sound that would be found on record.
Cian had previously played in the Anarcho-Punk/metal band Legion Of Parasites, Paul had been in UK Punk band The Varukers and early recordings by thrash band Arbitrater and Simon was a relative newcomer
The recording of the album was completed very soon after this period. Masterer John Dent is probably best known for some early Girlschool recordings. He’s also worked with Cancer, Thor, and a guilty pleasure of Zach’s, Alien’s Cosmic Fantasy EP.
Sheer Faith is Carl’s graphics company, which has handled art for all his musical projects, but has created some artwork for other projects. I’m unsure if Carl himself designed the sleeve art or if it was a staff artist, as Carl primarily works in 3D art, and is known to be an early adopter and long time user of a program called LightWave 3D.
Layout artist Allison is the head of art for Beggar’s Group, a position she’s held since 1992. Since 2010 she has also been the creative director of Gas Associates.
Beggar’s Banquet had been Field’s label prior to the split as well. They are part of the larger Beggar’s Group which also contains the seminal goth/darkwave label 4AD, and punk/indie labels Rough Trade and Matador. Beggar’s Group is primarily known as a punk label. Which may explain their handling of Nefilim…
The label had evidently been a thorn in Carl’s side for the entire recording process, and for some reason they let the album sit on the shelf for almost 4 years before releasing it. Zach has absolutely no confirmation of this, but I have to wonder if they had backed Rubicon more than Nefilim for some reason, and withheld this release for their sake. It’s all speculation however it does seem to at least sort of fit the timeline, as Rubicon’s two albums were released in 1992 and 1995.
Despite the long delay the band was still together when the album was released, and a tour was launched however Carl would quit midway through it.
The label was quick to feed into the idea that Carl had left due to “mental problems” however Carl vehemently denied this, expressing that it was due to mounting frustrations with the label. It’s worth noting that his somewhat infamous absence from music, in the late 90’s is at least partially because of contract disputes, and not some self imposed exile.
After the breakup of Neflim, Paul and Simon would join goth rock band Sensorium. Paul would also briefly be a member of Stuka Squadron a war themed traditional heavy metal band, and Simon would be a member of goth/folk metal band Thanateros from 2008-2010. Cian would go on to form his own project Saints of Eden.
As far as the occult goes, Carl is delibertely reserved about his exact beliefs, and this is deliberate. While some of it is very much part of crafting his image, Carl believes that his spirituality is a deeply personal thing, and he seems more intent on expressing his various interests though music than pointing listeners to one particular belief set.
His beliefs could be compared to Chaos Magick in a sense, one of the principal tenets of Chaos magick is belief as a tool, and the flexibility of belief. Belief is seen as an extental force that can be tapped into. What this means is that the Chaos magician’s rites or rituals will often be a patchwork of various things, they may quote something from The Yellow King, then a psalm, then a buddhist mantra, then a phrase from a horror movie. This practice is called magical paradigm shifting.
The Nephilim song “Psychonaut” is named after a book by noted early Chaos magician Peter Carroll. The Chaos magick-esque disparity in Carl’s lyrics is evident as well. He will often reference Lovecraft, Crowley, Austin Osman Spare (who is often in the special thanks of Nephilim albums as AOS), within a single album, or even a single song. The previously mentioned Psychonaut for instance, references Carroll but features lyrics pulled from the Necronomicon.
Carl has also often referred to his performances as ritualistic in nature. He has stated that “ I go on stage and I pretty much empty my mind. If you asked me one of my lyrics before I walked on stage, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I go on completely straight, and I’ve always felt like I’m kind of channelling.”
This concept is again somewhat similar to the idea of gnosis in Chaos magick, in that the practitioner has to enter sort of an altered state to perform their rights.
If nothing else Carl embraces the idea that one’s beliefs should be deeply personal and individualistic for instance, in an interview with Ben Graham, Carl is asked about his presentation of the occult vs the black metal scene. He states that the more direct and anger based approach taken by black metal musicians differs from his own, and that he prefers to have the ideas enter the listener’s subconscious through suggestion. Though it should be noted he is humbled by black metal musicians citation of him as an influence, and seems to at least respect the music.
Zoon in particular is a concept album based on the book of Enoch, a (usually) non-canonical book of the bible that concerns the rebellion and subsequent fall of angels from heaven as well as the creation of the half human/half angel hybrids, the band’s namesake, The Nephilim. There is a website that breaks down and compares the lyrics to Zoon in depth and compares them to the Bible and the book of enoch which I will link in the show notes
The Christian themes in this album and elsewhere are probably inspired by Carl’s childhood. His mother was a member of a strict Chrisitan offshoot. I’ve seen one source say she was a Jehovah’s Witness, but Carl avoids directly naming her denomination in interviews.
Wolves in the Throne Room – Celestial Lineage
Country: Olympia, Washington
Years Active: 2002-present
Released: September 13th, 2011
Label: Southern Lord Recordings
Studio: Avast! (Some additional recording done at outside studios)
Aaron Weaver – Drums, Guitars, Percussion, Synth, Field Recordings
Nathan Weaver – Vocals, Guitars, Synth, Broken Mellotron, Field Recordings
Randall Dunn Producer, Recording, Mixing
Mell Dettmer Mastering
Alison Scarpulla – Photography (concepts & cover), Art Direction
Stephen Rudolph – Photography (concepts)
Faith Coloccia – Layout
Aaron Turner – Layout
The Weaver brothers are the only two constant members of Wolve’s in the Throne Room. Prior to that band’s formation they were in the hardcore band The Hoodwinks, where they seem to have met Olympia hardcore mainstay Joshua Plauge (he guested on one track of their 1999 release Stab! Stab! Stab!). I’m unsure if The Hoodwinks broke up or if the Weaver’s left, however they would join Josh in his new sci-fi hardcore band The Lords Of Lightspeed for that bands S/T album in 2001.
Wolves became the focus in 2002, the first demo’s arising in 2004 and 2005, before the debut Diadem of 12 Stars was released in 2006. 2007’s Two Hunters and 2009’s The Black Cascade would also precede this album, those later albums being considered the first two parts of a thematic trilogy
The album features notable guest work. Layout artists, Husband and wife team Aaron Turner & Faith Coloccia provide additional vocals. Aaron & Faith make up the drone/doom band House of Low Culture. Aaron is also known for his vocals in Old Man Gloom (Insert my His Gyro Gone Story here), Isis, and Lotus Eaters, and Faith is considered “The fifth beatle” of sorts for Pyramids. Also providing additional vocals is Jessika Kenney of the drone/doom band Asva.
Producer Randall Dunn performed Synthetizers, Organ, Percussion, Guitar on the album. Peter is the creative force behind modern classical group Master Musicians Of Bukkake. String player Timb Harris and additional guitarist Mily Burgess are also both also members of MMOB. Milky is also in Asva working with the previously mentioned Asva and House of Low Culture, as well as Boris, Sunn O)))), Kayo Dot, Lesbian and the relevent to our past episode he just worked on the new Myrkur album. He has also appeared on every Wolves release since Two Hunters
Percussionist Phil Petrocelli was in Sludge band 3D House of Beef and Black Noise Cannon, and has worked with Jesu in some context.
Masterer Mell Dettmer is essentially the Eddy Schreyer of the NOWABM and drone/doom world.
The album is their third on Southern Lord Records Greg Anderson’s influential experimental label. Greg himself is known for his work in Thorr’s Hammer, Sunn O))), and Goatsnake.
Discussion of tribalism, ecology as a philosophy, and their themes of satanism and norse mythology
Jacula – In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum
Country: Milan, Italy
Years Active: 1969-present
Released: 1969 (Allegedly)
Label: Gnome (Allegedly)
Studio: Gnome’s private studio (Allegedly)
Antonio Bartoccetti – guitar, bass guitar, vocals
Charles Tiring – keyboards
Doris Norton – drums, special effects, violin, flute, vocals
Franz Parthenzy – Medium
Colin Coldweis – Mixing
Allegedly the band has it’s origins in 1966, when fledging mystic Antonio met medium Franz Parthenzy in Milan. The two supposedly communed with dark forces and developed the 6 songs on the album based around melodies Franz received in a trance like state. They apparently had trouble finding musicians to play the music because it was “too sinister.”
They eventually settled on Doris Norton (Fiamma Dello Spirito) and 68 year old Charles Tiring. Charles age is important and we’ll see why in a minute.
Gnome Studio’s supposedly put out an extremely limited run of between 200-300 copies (again make note of that inconsistency) and they were primarily handed out to occult groups and spiritualist types.
The band’s second LP Tardo Pede In Magiam Versus was put out in 1972 on the equally obscure Roger’s label. Before the band would change names to Antonius Rex and continue to release albums in the 70’s. Doris is Antonio’s wife so this isn’t that odd, but again, make note of Charles.
The album was rediscovered by Black Widow Records, a speciality label that deals with obscure releases and put back into circulation in 2001.
The album became somewhat legendary in the blogosphere and music collector circles both for it’s apparent re-appearance out of nowhere, and because of it’s sound.
The album features a style of guitar work that would seem to have predicted the sound of black metal over 20 years before the height of that genre’s rise to power. It was heralded by some as a proto-metal classic, with others claiming Jacula “invented” black metal.
Here’s where the problems arise, as many on the internet have pointed out, the style of guitar playing is impossible. The technology that led to Black Metal’s distinctive sound simply did not exist in 1969. Rumors of a hoax began.
For his part Antonio claimed the album was “highly edited” and that the guitar parts and some samples had been added in for the re-release by the label. So there we go right? An obscure album that a dubious label had added guitar work to in order to generate buzz among the proto-metal faithful?
Not that simple. Because people began to look into the original version of the album and more problems arose. Through independent investigation, fans have determined that this album probably didn’t exist prior to 2001. Here’s the evidence against it:
Charles Tiring is probably a fictional person. He was allegedly almost 70 in 1969, and according to the band died under mysterious circumstances in 1979. Despite this he somehow managed to play on an Antonius Rex album in 1990. Which even if the death had been faked, would have made him 90+ years old.
No sources that aren’t Jacula liner notes mention a medium named Franz Pathensky existing in Milan
The album did not appear on any discography inserts for Antonius Rex, Doris’ solo work, etc. until after 2001.
There is no record of Gnome studios or Gnome the label ever existing
No copy has ever shown up for sale. While you may think “well only 300 were pressed” keep in mind that albums with far more limited releases show up all the time. For Instance one of the rarest albums of all time Dark’s “Rough Around the Edges” occasionally pops up for sale, and there are only about 50 copies of that ever made.
The second album is equally as hard to track down. The Roger’s only other release is by a band called The Roger’s and you can’t find so much as a picture of a copy of the album. Though the second album doesn’t contain the suspcious guitar elements, it seems highly possible that the entire existence of the band was concocted at the dawn of the aughts.
Antonio would indisputably release an album under the Jacula banner in 2011 called Pre Viam
Venenum – Trance of Death
Country: Schwabach, Bavaria
Years Active: 2008-present
Released: March 17th, 2017
Label: Sepulchral Voice Records
Studio: Tonstudio Katzer (Synths recorded at Occulta Templi Studio.)
H.L. (Malfeitor) – Songwriting (tracks 2, 3, 5)
F.J.L. (Aggressive Perfector) – Drums
P.T. (Patrick “Evil Possessor” Tauch) – Guitars
F.S.A. (Steve Disgust) – Vocals, Bass
D.P. (David Pscheidt) – Guitars, Keyboards
Romin Katzer – Recording, Mixing, Mastering
Timo Ketola – Cover
F.S.A – Logo
Venenum has it’s origins in 2008. It is a super group of sorts, all of the members have been involved in various other projects in Germany from the late 90’s to the mid 2000’s.
Notable projects for each member are as follows:
H.L. – Seeds of Hate, Nyktalgia, both black metal projects
F.J.L. – Division Speed (WWII themed Thrash) he is also the founder of small indie label Panzerkommando Records.
P.T. – Excoriate (Death), Hellish Crossfire (Thrash)
F.S.A. – a few demo projects.
D.P. – Obelyskkh (Stoner/Doom), Condemned System (Grindcore)
The band released a highly regarded self titled EP in 2011 and this album represent 6 years of constant work and evolution from there.
D.P is new to the project, previous to this H.L. had a more active role in the band, being the main guitar player for the band.
This is their first time working with Romin Katzer, he has limited credits, but he is the owner of the Tonstudio Katzer.
Artist Timo focuses on traditional forms of printing and woodcutting. He is often credited as Davthvs, and has worked with a shit ton of notable artists including Deathspell Omega, Dissection, Head of the Demon (From last episode), Marduk, Kaamos, Rotting Christ, Sunn O))), Watain, and designed the logo Opeth used in the mid 90s (specifically for Morning Rise & Still Life)
Watain – The Wild Hunt
Years Active: 1998-present
Released: August 16th, 2013
Label: Century Media Records
Necromorbus Studio, Stockholm
Blueflame Productions Studios, Uppsala
Studio 33, Toivala
Studio Sound, Kuopio
H. (Håkan Jonsson) – Drums
P. (Pelle Forsberg) – Guitars
E. (Erik Danielsson) – Bass, Vocals, Guitars
Tore Stjerna – Recording, Mixing
Zbigniew Bielak – Cover art
Erik Danielsson – Design
Watain is one of those bands I am confident we will get back to at a later date. If nothing else I’m sure we’ll revisit this era on a second-wave Black Metal episode somewhere down the line. So We’re going to stick to bare basics on history.
Erik was involved in a black metal band called Fucking Funeral from 1997-1998 before going on to form Watain.
Their first demo Fuck Your Jewish “God” was released the same year. They would find success and release a series of albums through the aughts. Their fourth album Lawless Darkness marked a particular high point for the band.
That album got the band a Swedish Grammy, a gold single, some notable festival appearances, and ultimately their first major label deal with Century Media Records, the influential label founded by Despair vocalist Robert Kampf that we discussed on the Thrash episode
The album marks a notable change in sound for Watain, they had previously been relative Black metal purists, and this album sees the band incorporate doom, traditional, prog and symphonic elements to their sound.
The choice of recording in multiple studios was a deliberate one, with the band feeling the lack of consistency and change of scenery adding a gypsy-esque quality to the albums atmosphere.
Second guitarist Set Teitan wrote the lyrics for the third track “Black Flames March” though he doesn’t appear to be present on the album itself
Tore is another returning figure, a multi-instrumentalist, and singer in his own right he is also the owner of Necrombus studios, and was even actually a live guitarist and bassist for Watain in their early years. He’s worked all their albums to date. He is a prominent masterer as well, and most relevant to us, he mastered Zud’s first album.
Artist Zbigniew Bielak is also a returning figure having worked on Watain’s last album as well, and has also worked with Absu, Behemoth, Mayhem, Vader, Paradise Lost, and *shudder* Ghost.
Despite the change in sound Watain remained committed to their legendary Theistic Satanism. Specifically the band is active in The Temple of the Black Light.
The temple focuses on a belief in Chaosophy. The central concept is that Chaos is the infinidimensional and pandimensional state, and that this is opposed to cosmology, which is limited to 3 dimensions and one linear time line. There are 11 anti-cosmic gods worshipped by the order: Moloch, Beelzebuth, Lucifuge Rofocale, Astaroth, Asmodeus, Belfegor, Baal, Adramelech, Lilith, Naamah and Satan. Together, they form Azerate, the 11-headed dragon of Chaos that burns holes in the barriers of the universe, allowing Chaos to flood through. There is also Tiamat, the being greater than a god.
The church’s beliefs are available online, and are somewhat easy to follow,it’s just very hard to paraphrase. Ritualism and magick is involved, primarily focused on the breakdown of the cosmic state of things, hense the anti-cosmic natures of the religion
One such ritual involved the spreading of pigs blood over an unsuspecting audience in 2014. Discuss
Dissection – The Somberlain
Country: Strömstad (early), Stockholm (later)
Years Active: 1991-present
Released: December 3rd, 1993
Label: No Fashion Records
Studio: Hellspawn/Unisound studios.
Jon Nödtveidt – Guitars, Vocals, Songwriting, Lyrics
John Zwetsloot – Guitars (rhythm, acoustic), Songwriting
Peter Palmdahl – Bass, Songwriting
Ole Öhman – Drums, Songwriting
Dissection – Production
Dan Swanö – Engineering (Also did the scream on track 1)
Necrolord – Cover Art
Dissection has it’s roots in a thrash band called Siren’s Call, that contained Jon N., Peter, and Ole. This band released a single demo in 1988 before splitting. Interestingly enough, Peter was actually the lead vocalist for the band, and bass duties were handled by Mäbe (Mattias Johansson).
Jon N., Mattias & Ole would move onto another thrash metal band Rabbit’s Carrot. Recording a demo in 1989 before Jon and Ole would leave to form Dissection. The band would carry on briefly without them and actually played at least one gig with Dissection in 1991.
This would be where Peter re-entered the picture. Despite the band forming in 1989, they don’t seem to have been the sole focus of the members, or at least Jon N. who would be in Death/Black band Satanized in 1991, and The Black Flame (now known as The Black) from 1992-1993. Satanized in particular is worth noting because it contained two future Dissection members, Johan Norman & Tobias Kellgren.
Dissection would release their first demo The Grief Prophecy in 1991. This demo would also be the first time Dissection would work w/ Necrolord. Necrolord is a prominent cover artist working w/ Tiamat, Therion, Wintersun, Black Dahlia Murder, Dark Funeral and Bathory. He is also a musician himself and is the guitarist and vocalist for Goth/Doom band Diabolique, he was formerly a member of Grotesque who will be mentioned later, and his own band Liers in Wait
After this John Z would officially join. Two more demo’s and a promo release would precede the album.
Brief moment of Dan Swano wanking
Dissection would release a second album Storm of the Light’s Bane that I assume we’ll get more into some other time, and at that time we’ll go more into Jon’s homophobia influenced murder of Josef ben Meddour.
Jon was an early member of the Temple of the Black Light, which we either have or will talk about more in depth w/ Watain but the following is a quote from Jon about the religion:
“MLO is a Chaos-Gnostic order, which seek the true light of Lucifer through the study, development and practice of all dark, gnostic and Satanic magical systems. Our goal is to create a synthesis between the dark traditions of all aeons, this way creating the occult keys that shall open the gates to the forthcoming endless dark aeon….To become a candidate one must first of all already be an Anti-cosmic Satanist and actively practicing black magician. He/She must wholeheartedly sympathize and share the misanthropic and anti-cosmic values of the order, and then be ready to dedicate his/her entire existence to following his/her true will in accordance to the dark gods. Becoming an initiate is a long and hard process and can take several years.”
Thy Darkened Shade – Liber Lvcifer I: Khem Sedjet
Country: Athens, Attica Greece
Years Active: 1999-present
Released: October 31st, 2014
Label: World Terror Committee
Studio: Woodshed Studios and Sitra Ahra Studios.
The A – Vocals
Semjaza – Guitars, Bass, Mantras
H.G. – Drums
Stamos Kolliousis – Co-producer
Semjaza – Producer
V. Santura – Producer, Mixing, Mastering
Thy Darkened Shade was formed in 1999. They appear to both member’s first major project, however Semjaza has been involved in several other black metal projects, including Nadiwrath, Acrimonious, The Ashes.
Drummer H.G. is Hannes Grossmann played on Necrophagist’s Epitaph album, that we discussed on the Grievances episode. He’s also formerly a member of Obscura. He is involved in several more current projects, perhaps most notably Blotted Science with Cannibal Corpse bassist Alex Webster and Watchtower/San Antonio Slayer guitarist Ron Jarzombek.
Track 1 features guest vocals by George Zacharopoulos a prominent Greek metal musician and producer credited w/ creating the Hellenic Sound. Hes’ worked with Necromantia, Rotting Christ, Thou Art Lord among others. I did have more info on George, so much in fact I think we’ll probably be doing a Greek Black/Death thing at some point with him being the lynch pin.
Producers Stamos & V. are both prominent figures in the metal scene. Stamos is the guitarist for Satan’s Wrath and V. is the guitarist/vocalist for Triptykon & Dark Fortess, along with having multiple behind the scenes credits.
World Terror Committee is Sven Zimper’s black metal specialty label. Sven is best known as the main creative force in Absurd
As for their occult leanings of the band, they two are anti-cosmic Luciferianists, they are members/co-founders of The Order of Promethean Fyre. Their cover artist Vamperess Imperium is also a member of the order. I believe she is in a relationship of some kind with Semjaza, as he referred to her as his Scarlet Woman a concept that I believe originates from Thelemic magick.
Therion – Sitra Ahra
Country: Stockholm, Sweden
Years Active: 1987-1988 (as Blitzkrieg), 1988 (as Megatherion), 1988-present
Released: September 17th, 2010
Label: Nuclear Blast
Studio: Polar Studio, Stockholm.
Christofer Johnsson – Guitars (rhythm), Keyboards
Thomas Vikström – Vocals (tenor)
Nalle Påhlsson – Bass
Christian Vidal – Guitars (lead)
Johan Kullberg – Drums
Christofer Johnsson – Producer
Lennart Östlund – Engineering, Mixing
Chris Laney – Engineering, Mixing (assistant)
George Marino – Mastering
Thomas Ewerhard – Cover art, Layout
Skipping the early history of the band because I’m sure we’ll get to it some other time, and also because functionally this is a different band. Therion’s core members parted ways in 2008. With only Christofer Johnsson remaining.
He would recruit Nalle and Johan that same year. Nalle had been a full time musician since the mid 80’s working with Sweedish teen idol Niclas Wahlgren, and pretty much constantly worked in rock and pop bands, including Treat, before making the switch to metal in the early aughts while Johan first rose to fame w/ power metal band Lion’s Share and had worked here and there with other bands up to this point.
The lineup would be completed by Christian who had worked in the Argentian hard rock band Cuero, released a solo album, and had toured with The Road Vultures, Eric Martin of Mr. Big fames touring band. & Thomas who had started out in AOR band Talk of the Town in the late 80’s, worked w/ Candlemass on their ill recieved Chapter VI album before finding success with Stormwind. He was involved in several other projects before joining Therion as well, including experience in musical theater.
Like most Therion albums are filled w/ guest musicians. The most noteworthy being:
Vocals: Petter Karlsson (Therion’s old drummer) and Thomas’s daughter Linnéa, and Michayah Belfagor, label owner of Left Light Emanations and vocalist in Nefandus, Offermod, & Serpent Noir & Snowy Shaw. The female vocals on the album are primarily done by Lori Lewis
Guitars: Waldemar Sorychta from Despair, and the groove metal band Grip Inc. With Dave Lombardo & producer Chris Laney who had worked w/ Nalle and Johan in a project called Animal.
Notice the mastering by George Marino, who we mentioned in the Thrash episode. It is notable that this would be one of his final projects before passing away from Lung Cancer in 2012. As we mentioned then, much like Eddy Schreyer, his name is going to come up again and again.
As is cover artist, german born, Thomas Ewerhard who has done a shit ton of work, and will undoubtedly be a name we mention again.
Polar Studio is a legendary studio founded by members of ABBA. Engineer Lennant is a staffer of the studio.
Christofer Johnsson belongs to an organization called Dragon Rouge. It is a school of philosophy that explores left hand path ideolgies and magick but does not limit itself to any particular religious doctrine. Rather it appears to see the adversarial figures in monotheistic religions as the more unique and intelligent figures, and therefore believes that salvation lies in following those figures paths, viewing them almost like Prometheus. They seem heavily influenced by Kabballah, and the name of this album actually is taken from that school, being synonymous with Qliphoth, the evil or impure spiritual forces.
Country: Athens, Attica
Years Active: 2003-present
Released: November 28th, 2012
Label: Agonia Records
Studio: Sitra Ahra and Unreal studios.
C. Docre – Drums
Semjaza 218 – Guitars, Bass
Cain Letifer – Guitars, Vocals
ar-Ra’d al-Iblis – Vocals, Lyrics
Semjaza 218 Recording, Mixing, Mastering
Kyle Fite – Artwork
Vamperess Imperium – Sigils, Layout
Most information covered in the Thy Darkened Shade section so only focusing on the member’s who aren’t in that band’s history:
Cain is in Serpent Noir w/ Therion guest vocalist Michayah Belfagor. He was also in the black metal band Acherontas, named after that bands lead singer who contributed guest vocals to this album. C. Dorce is also a former member of Acherontas.
ar-Ra, real name Carl Tiburtius Nordblom has been in several bands, most notably Matricide & Nightbringer
Note the returning presence of Sitra Ahra studios. Also shout out to Unreal studios for having the least pretentious About Me I’ve ever read from a newer studio.
The album is preceded by a demo and two EPs. As well as their previous full length Purulence
Country: Mora, Sweden
Years Active: 1992-present
Released: June 21st, 2008
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Studio: Sunlight Studio
Shamaatae – All instruments, Vocals
Set Teitan – Guitars, Vocals (Guest)
Tomas Skogsberg – Engineering, Mixing
Shamaatae – Producer
Shamaatae – Artwork
Shamaatae, real name Johan Lahger began his musical career in 1988 when at age 11 he began playing drums in a band called Conquest which would eventually morph into the previously mentioned band Grotesque. While Grotesque only recorded a few demos in their initial run, they are notable for being the first significant band of future At the Gates members Tomas Lindberg and Alf Svensson as well as Necrolord. Some of the members would also join Necrolord in his band Diabolique later on.
After he left Grotesque Shamaatae formed a tech death band called Disinterment that played a few gigs and supposedly recorded a demo before calling it quits.
Sometime after this he was briefly a member of another death metal band called Absorption. Arckanum would be founded in 1992, but he would be playing double duty as a member of Sorhin until 1995. These bands are notable for also counting Shamaatae’s brother Sataros as a member. He would play on some early Arckanum releases. There was also a mysterious member of the band named Loke Svarteld in 1993, but no record of who this actually was.
Arckanum would have a string of 3 studio albums between 1995 and 1998. At this point their label, Necropolis Records, an american specialty label that mainly focused on State Side distribution of foreign extreme metal went under. At this Time Arckanum would go on the back burner and Shammatae would focus more time on his work as an author.
His writing reflects his occult interests in Pan, Old Norse traditions, runic witchcraft and anti-cosmic Satanism/chaos-gnosticism. He seems particularly influenced by the THURSATRU TRADITION, a left hand path school of magic based primarily on Norse mythology.
Arckanum would still exist at this point releasing various EPs, splits, and comps. Shaammatae would also drum for The Hearsemen a more traditional rock band.
Eventually Arckanum would return to more prominence with the recording of this album. Now on French Black metal label Debemur Morti Productions, It would also mark the first time he worked at Sunlight Studio’s the legendary studio that is one of the cornerstones of the 90’s European extreme metal sound. Engineer Tomas is the studio founder.
Ashencult- Black Flame Gnosis
Country: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Years Active: At least 2012-present
Released: May 31st, 2012
Studio: Mark it Zero Recording Studios
E (Enrique Sagarnaga) – Drums
S (???) – Guitars
W (???) – Guitars
A (Algar) – Vocals
R (Shawn Riley) – Bass
D. – Recording
Alyssa Lorenzon – Artwork
Essentially turning everything over to Max, other than want to metnion Reek is now in Crypt Sermon, Shawn Riley was in Rumpelstilskin Grinder and that lyrics on track 5 were written by Master Motorsåg of Bestial Mockery
Kaamos – Lucifer Rising
Country: Stockholm, Sweden
Years Active: 1998-2006
Released: May 31st, 2012
Label: February 28th, 2005
Studio: Berno Studio
Chris Piss – Drums, Vocals
Konstantin Papavassilou – Guitars, Lyrics
Nicklas Eriksson – Guitars
Karl Envall – Vocals, Bass
Berno Paulsson – Recording, Mixing, Mastering
Ketoladog – Artwork, Cover art, Photography
Kaamo’s has it’s origins in a death/black metal band called Gods of Grief that contained members Konstantin and founding drummer Thomas Åberg. The would record a single demo in 1993 before they went on to form the more direct connection to Kaamos
This would be the melodic death band called A Mind Confused that existed from 1993-1998. This band contained Konstantin and Thomas as well as Nicklas & Johan. The band recorded a series of demos and a well received full length called Anarchos.
Other than second guitarist Richard Wyöni (Niklas was actually the bassist for A Mind Confused) the entire lineup transferred over to form Kaamo’s.
The band was formed in 1998, and started recording almost immediately. They had recorded a three track demo in 1999, and two of those songs were released as a limited 7” single. At this point founding Bassist and vocalist Johan Thörngren would leave the band. He went on to find greater success as a guitar player in the band Serpent Obscene. In 2000 Thomas would follow suite and leave going on to form Head of the Demon in 2012. I’m assuming the split with Thomas was amicable, at least with Konstantin because would also be a member of Head of the Demon.
The band would recruit early Repugnant members Christofer Barkensjö, the aforementioned Chris Piss, and Karl Envall to fill the vacancies.
This new lineup would lead to the Curse of Aeons demo in 2001 which led to a signing with Lee Barrett of Extreme Noise Terror fame’s label Candlelight Records.
With the help of Messiah Marcolin, they quickly recorded and released their self titled debut in 2002 and spent the next few years touring to promote it.
The band would record Lucifer Rising over the course of a year in spring 2003-2004 working with another Diabolique member Berno Paulsson, who is the studio’s namesake. Who has worked with a number of artists. Most relevant to our past episodes, he worked on The Quill’s debut.