Is it possible for a band to take its work a little too seriously? Can the love of eyeliner and theatrical stage attire be pushed past the point of no return? And most importantly, does this make for good music? These are some of the questions I’m left to ponder over a cup of coffee (black, of course) after listening to Beseech’s My Darkness, Darkness (Despotz Records).
And I know the metal genre as a whole is a bit ridiculous. After all I’m a 29-year-old man with a college degree whose wardrobe is made up mostly of black shirts. I willingly own a denim vest with more patches on it than the average Nascar driver.
However, Beseech seem to operate on a level where ridiculous and deadly serious function as one. Just look at the album title, My Darkness, Darkness. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like something scribbled in the back of a Mead notebook by a 14-year-old goth kid.
And their biggest problem is its inability to move past the ho-hum goth numbers. ‘Mr. Uninvited,’ its title-track and ‘Atmosphere’ are virtually interchangeable and I don’t mean that in a good way. For most of its running time Beseech is confined to muddy tempos, subdued guitar parts, all the while vocalist Klas Bohlin dominates the mix with his weird Christian Bale as Batman whisper-mumble. The most criminal aspect of this record is the underuse of second singer Angelina Sahlgren. We only get brief glimpses of Sahlgren’s range on ‘Beating Pulse’ and ‘The Ingredients.’ Sahlgren’s turns add some color to the drab musical canvas.
‘One Last Call’ has the band finally finds release from its songwriting restrictions as does the unexpected (but totally rad) Highwaymen cover ‘Highwayman.’
Metal is a business that’s always existed on the border of parody, especially when you decide to throw in some of that goth seasoning. Not every band has to go the Type O Negative route and play it tongue in cheek (although it paid dividends for them). Katatonia and Moonspell have had long careers accented by classic albums, but they always relied on the songs. Beseech doesn’t quite have them here.
Emerging from a sea of black t-shirts, Jason Keyser of Originfinds me standing mid-way through the venue’s pre open-door line.
“Oh, good it’s not a video recording,” Keyser says as we make our way around the corner to a quiet side of the street.
As we set down our gear on the sidewalk, Keyser greets wallet-chain wearing kids who recognize him.
“No, but this way, you can pose in the photos and fluff-out your hair,” I remark between his handshakes with fans.
“I’d rather you Photoshop me a lot,” he says as the crowd thins. “Give me a glow.”
Lindsay O’Connor of Ghost Cult with Jason Keyser of Origin. Photo credit by William Williams
Although Keyser and crew are about halfway through their co-headlining slot on the Devastation Across the Nation US tour, he looks rested and already illuminated, so I skirt the suggestion.
“Tony Lazaro said it best: ‘I feel like an old carnie in an old circus,’” Keyser quips, referring to a remark the Vital Remains guitarist made while Origin toured with the band in 2011. Lazaro parlayed the jest while standing at his band’s merch table as he watched young kids run amuck. “There’s a new generation of fans, and we’re still holding on,” Keyser says. “But [Origin guitarist and vocalist] Paul Ryan is the only original member, and he’s still just as young at heart as you can imagine; it’s adorable—he’s a lifer!”
Although there are newer generations of Metal fans taking to the scene, Origin remains one of the well-respected staples, lauded for their blast-beat blitzkriegs and searing technicality. And while Origin isn’t touring in support of anything necessarily “new,” the band’s last album, Omnipresent (Nuclear Blast), remains innovative and relevant.
“We’re lucky we’re not big enough that we have to cater to a certain look or style,” Keyser says. “People still seem to dig it, dig what we do. It keeps it fresh. Our last album, [Omnipresent] was a little different from the last one before it, but how ever we’re feeling is how we express ourselves.”
Origin, by Susanne A. Maathuis
Would you ever take fans for a loop and put out a Funeral Doom album?
“Yeah, maybe—why not? Omnipresent featured a straight-up circle-pit, Thrash-Metal song, as well as a Black Metal song, so maybe we’ll put out an Origin Sludge album—slow it all down by 100 percent.”
Do you give a shit about what your fans think?
“If we could have sold out, we would have sold out a long time ago—I guess we are one of those bands that doesn’t “care” about what fans think, because if we did we’d be “selling out.”
I don’t think about it specifically like that, but…hmm, now that you broke it down, I’m going to have to think about it. “
Do you have plans for a follow-up to Omnipresent?
“After we’re done with the tour, we’ll have a lot of time off, and we’ll start pounding out a new [album] in early spring [next year].”
Now a-days, you have to keep pumping out albums to stay relevant—
There are some bands, however, that take a long time to put out an album, like Meshuggah.
“Meshuggah makes way more money than we do—we don’t have that luxury!
It is good to stay relevant; there’s a weird time period before the next album becomes a comeback—like, you have to put out new music before two years or after six, otherwise you’re lost in the abyss.
As far as a new album, though, I’m the last person whose input gets put in that consideration—my role comes last in that.”
Other than this tour, what do you have in the hopper you’re looking forward to?
“The tour is halfway done—I’m excited about it being all the way done, actually!
Ideally, we’ll be playing South America, and we’ll be playing a festival in South Africa too—I’m basically using the band as an excuse to travel around the world—good work if you can get it!”
Keyser and I make invisible oranges, before he disappears back into the club. Doors open, and my buddy and I make our way inside. We see Keyser sitting at the Origin merch table, fashioning a quiet grin, arms folded as he observes a carnival of young fans collecting in throngs before him.
Origin continues to co-headline the Devastation Across the Nation tour with Krisiun, and with supporting acts Aeon, Alterbeast, Soreption, and Ingested. The band is planning to head to the studio next year, so be on the look out for more information on their forthcoming activities online here: