Two icons of rock music who barely need an introduction are John Paul Jones and Thurston Moore. Jones of Led Zeppelin and Them Crooked Vultures fame and Moore, best known for Sonic Youth and black metal supergroup Twilight will hold a one-off concert in London at 100 Club, on 28th of March. They will be joined by acclaimed Jazz drummer Steve Noble. Dubbed in a post to Jones’s page, “A unique musical meeting of three of the most inventive performers of our time.” The event is a fundraiser to benefit [London radio station] Resonance FM. Tickets at the link below. Continue reading
Ghost Cult once again brings you “End Of Year” lists, memories, and other shenanigans from our favorite bands, partners, music industry peers, and other folks we respect across the world. Kicking things off Chris Gareth, guitarist of Upcdownc’ shares his Top 10 Albums Of 2017.Continue reading
He was so deeply huddled under a blanket that it took a while to locate the source of the voice hollering my name. Eytan Wineapple, curator of the rumbling beast that was the NOIZ All-Dayer, initially celebrated its second incarnation looking like death warmed up. After a long couple of days, with Wineapple escorting eventual headliners Dukatalon to Sheffield and back, they eventually bedded down in today’s venue. “They got here around 3 a.m., and I tucked them all in!” joked Rebellion manager and event collaborator Hayley. Five minutes later, the flat-capped Wineapple was bounding around like a madman: putting to serious shame Ghost Cult’s scribe who, twelve hours later, and still nearly three hours from the denouement, interviewed said host in a rather weary and addled fashion…
NOIZ is not your average festival. Displays of album-style art and guitars in various stages of completion (one of which is raffled off later in the day) stand beside the S.O.P.H.I.E. merch stall in the upper level of the club-style venue. A dedicated handful, meanwhile, witness the pulverising Industria of openers Khost: looking for all the world like a couple of local scallies bumbling about on a stage, yet laying waste with a mystical power which deserved a better slot and much more attention. The Birmingham duo’s ambient, crushing set, its implosive chords and guttural scours blending with a wonderful and passionate line in Middle-Eastern vocal samples, ended bang on time: a courtesy that some of the festival’s other performers could have tried harder to match.
Neill Jameson of Krieg is one of the more fascinating people you will ever come across. Outspoken, articulate, philosophical, funny, and mild-mannered could all describe the man based on meeting him say, if you bumped into him at the bookstore or record shop. However, anyone witnessing him perform or create music, has a very different image in their mind. As one of the most important figures in the USBM scene, he clearly is more about “the work” and not about the accolades. In an exclusive interview with Ghost Cult’s Hillarie Jason, Neill discusses some changes going on in his life, the next Krieg album due in 2016, his thoughts on coping with mental illness, and other topics.
Neill recently moved to Virginia from southern New Jersey, and we opened things up by discussing how that is affecting the creation of a next Krieg album.
“Virginia is a nice change from Jersey in a lot of ways but mostly it’s just been a much needed change in my life that I’m hoping continues to stay positive. Plus I’m fortunate to live in a city that has a good music scene so there’s always something to look forward to.”
“Having a different place to work through ideas always helps. I have a lot of different places I haven’t explored yet but I’m able to take long walks that ease my mind and let me think through the ideas I want to convey with this next record, both sonically and lyrically.”
The forthcoming new Krieg album, entitled Guilt is due in 2016. It promises the progression of Krieg’s growth from Transient (Candlelight), which was definitely a different animal sonically than Isolationist (also Candlelight) was. So should we assume that Guilt will be just as different? “Yeah, we’re going to get together to start putting it together after the new year. There’s been less time between the two so I imagine there’s going to be more similarities between those two than there was between Isolationist and Transient. But I’m more inspired this time around by hardcore and crust than even the last one so there’s probably going to be a strong emphasis on that, without the shitty tough guy posturing.”
Speaking of shitty tough guys, Neill has commentated on the foibles of such men in the metal scene in his occasional op-ed series for Decibel Magazine. He was equally praised and condemned by keyboard warriors regarding his past observations on bigotry, chauvinism, and elitism in metal. We asked how he dealt with the praise and backlash:
“I’m happy to have some kind of platform to speak out about stupidity in general, be it about stupid shit like horse masks and chicken costumes or the heavier stuff I’ve dealt with the last few columns. I’m also very used to people talking shit about me on the internet so this isn’t anything new nor will it be something that goes away. So I don’t particularly care one way or the other. I’m not interested in being a social justice warrior nor do I think censorship in case someone’s fucking feelings get hurt is a good idea. I’m all in favor of freedom of speech and expression but I’m also aware those come with consequences, an idea not a lot of these dry dicks hollering at me while their mothers are upstairs drinking away the memory of having a failure of a child can seem to grasp. But I’ve spent long enough being a shithead myself so now’s my chance to atone a bit I guess.”
Neill has been candid about his struggles with mental illness publicly and in past interviews. So much so that it may have paved the way for a public discussion in the music community on these topics, since a lot of heavy music imagery and lyrics focuses on madness. We asked what, if anything if the underground music community can do to break the stigmas attached to mental illness, bipolar disorder, etc.?
“Odd you bring that up right now. Yesterday I made the decision after five years off to go back on meds to treat my bi-polar depression and anxiety. I was going to try to use my writing to document the experience and try to follow in a lot of people’s footsteps and keep the dialogue about mental illness in music and art in general open and flowing. There’s less of a stigma to it now than ten years ago, but also everyone’s doctor has them on something for shit they probably don’t even need treatment for and that’s what kept me from being on them for so long, it had stopped making a difference and I felt the whole thing was a fucking sham, I still do for the most part, but I’m also at a place in my life where I know I need help otherwise I’m going to fucking ruin things for myself which I almost did when I did Blue Miasma and again after The Isolationist and I want to see if exploring this will somehow be beneficial to myself and maybe others through sharing the experience.”
Neil is well known for a slew of collaborative projects and split releases. We wondered if it’s easier to run your own band with no interference: “I don’t just have myself to think about anymore, that’s a big part of it. A lot of people who suffer from these conditions aren’t aware how it affects those close to them, I have been aware for a long time and that’s where the “guilt complex” comes in but it’s been recently that I’ve decided it’s not a cycle I want to keep reliving. It doesn’t add to my “creativity” or anything positive.”
“The collaborations I do have each been so entirely different that I focus on them more as a way to learn new methods and techniques from other artists and how to incorporate them into my own music. So they’re entirely different experiences to me so I can’t say if one is necessarily easier than the other.”
On working with working with Thurston Moore (in Twilight):
“One of the most valuable learning experiences I’ve ever had. Plus he’s such an open and excited collaborator that it made what we were doing all the more vivid and dynamic. I would love for the chance to work with him again on something.”
“As opposed to other previous Twilight members, two in particular, who just dialed it in and sat back to collect praise and whatever money was available.”
Krieg recently left Candlelight Records and signed with Profound Lore Records: “Jef Whitehead brought up that we were about to be released from our Candlelight contract to Chris Bruni and it went from there. I’ve had contact with Chris since he wrote for Metal Maniacs and I’m a big fan of some of the bands on his label, and also just how he has built an empire with his own two hands in the image of exactly how he wants it to go. I look forward to causing the label to lose a lot of money and respect worldwide with this next record.”
In general Neill has had a fairly prolific couple of years. What is his regular creative process like or does he prefer to work project to project?
“It’s sporadic. For most of this year I barely picked up a guitar or wrote any lyrics. Other times it’s like I can’t turn it off. I don’t know what causes this to happen, it’s like the seasons change. It’s always been like this.”
“I could sit and force it but you can tell when I do that. I’d rather just let it come naturally.”
Commenting further on the release date: “Sometime next year. Same with the split with Integrity.
The split’s been recorded for about a year and is the best song we’ve ever recorded and the general basis for the next record so they tie in nicely with each other.”
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“We haven’t been doing any interviews, so it’s a miracle it’s been getting out there at all. Europe seems to be latching on to this record, so that is good.”
These are the first words Stavros Giannoplous said to me concerning the just released final album from bleak black metal super-group Twilight, III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb (Century Media). In addition to Stavros, the group is made up of underground metal luminaries like Wrest (Jeff Whitehead, of Leviathan, Lurker Of Chalice) Imperial (Neill Jameson) (Krieg, N.I.L.) and Sanford Parker (Corrections House, Minsk, Nachtmystium, Buried At Sea) and alt-rock legend Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth, Chelsea Light Moving). Steve was on tour with his main band, The Atlas Moth, but took time to chat with Ghost Cult back stage at The Sinclair, in Cambridge MA. He talked about the difficulty in finishing the album, some drama going on in the band, the idea of a whether a super-group can really work in this day and age, and working with Thurston Moore.
Right off the bat, he first touched on why Twilight is ending:
“The reason this is the final record is with all the negative shit that’s going down with Blake (Judd), I think it’s just best. Me and Jeff, Sanford and Neill are all really close friends. I have seen everyone, all but Jeff on this tour and we wanted to continue to make music. But at this point we are just mired in bullshit. Also before we started this band, before I even became involved with it there were no movies with sparkly vampires (laughs). Shit’s changed and it’s for the best. I was in Philadelphia just 48 hours ago and we were talking about doing something else eventually, so there is always a door open to work with Neill, Jeff, and Sanford again, just not under this name. We definitely won’t call it Twilight. I wouldn’t say its the total end of the band, but the end of this chapter with this band. We we very adamant about cutting the ties. Especially since Blake isn’t even on this last record.
Pulling no punches, Stavros gave us an inside view of the events leading up to Blake’s departure from the group and the aftermath of trying to finish the record without him:
He brought in a couple of songs, but once everything went down, that was it. It was two songs and they made up a very short amount of the record. We were just, not wanting to deal with this anymore. He had pulled some really backhanded shit, and I won’t go into the details. The songs he brought in, we got rid of them and made it known that this was it. He’s got problems. Unfortunately at some point or another when you end up in a scenario when you are constantly getting shit on, whether it’s on purpose or not, or just happenstance, it doesn’t matter that someone is just fucked up. At some point or another, no matter how much you care about a person, you can’t deal with them business wise. When I met Blake, he was not as nearly as fucked up as he is now. People change that way. I absolutely wish him the best, and good luck to him.
We mused about the notion that by nature super-groups are not really meant to last. Stavros argued that it depends on the collection of artists in question:
“Look at even Down, right? That band put out one of the best fucking records I have ever heard in my entire life to this fucking day, and what did it take, 7-8 years before they ever put out another record. It was a while. It kind of all depends on the timing, I guess. With this particular group, there isn’t a live presence to our band, nor will there never will be. So I just can’t see it being in the forefront in out minds. See Imperial does stuff all the time. Sanford does production all day long, and also he has Corrections House now, which is almost like a full time band now. This is something like the flip side with a so called super-group where Corrections House can work. That is one of those things for instance for Bruce, where Yakuza and Bloodiest don’t work all the time. Sanford doesn’t have a full-time band. And both EyeHateGod and Neurosis tour limitedly. So these guys, that is the other side of coin of the super-group story. Like “Oh! Something like this works, because we had some free time.” Or we happen to have some free time. So for Twilight, particularly for our group, inevitably it would get longer between records, or maybe even never have another one. You never know.”
Since most of the remaining members of the group live far from each other in some cases, we asked about the creative process and how the tracking was all done: “Jeff was living in Chicago at the time, so he and I wrote the bulk of the record together. Actually all the guitar riffs that weren’t Thurston’s, were written by me and Jeff. And you know…we just added on top of it and added on top of it, and added on top of it. It’s much different than a band that is just in one studio. Thurston came in and did his parts. We could do all kinds of looping and other crazy shit. All of the sudden someone is banging on a jug of water, which is cool. The two records that we did together, we just settled into a certain vibe. That is just how it works. That is how we write music for that band. It kind of showed. The song structures definitely vary throughout any of the Twilight records, and we were pretty loose form wise, and we definitely got experimental with the writing.”
Century Media is doing a very nice, limited digipack release of the album along with other formats. We asked about the value of limited edition releases, and if other versions will be forthcoming.
“The vinyl is out. You know honestly as far as I know, there will only be the digipack and the vinyl forever. Because I didn’t do any more layout work than that. At the time everything was going down with Blake, everyone was mad at each other, not particularly us at each other, but more all of us at Blake. really. And so when that started happening, everyone stopped giving a fuck. And then our relationship with the A & R guy fell apart, so I had to take control of everything business wise and then I got busy with some other business opportunities too. I really didn’t have much help. And I didn’t really want to take the time to put together a booklet for a record that everyone had checked out on, since everyone was so mad. So there is not going to be more a limited release than there is now, but knowing Century Media, they will keep it in print anyway.”
Sometimes in the business of music the challenges come from outside of the band too, as Stavros learned: “I’ve always done all the business for The Atlas Moth. But this is like a machine. It’s the five of us, a well-oiled machine working together, grooving together and sharing the responsibilities together. I am not running the show here by any means. We’ve all worked our way up together, so we know how the inner workings of the band goes. But all of the sudden when it comes to being voted in as the guy to handle stuff, someone already had their hands in the pot mixing things up before me. So I was the guy that almost had to come in and clean it up. It was definitely a bit much for me, and I was already dealing with a ton of crap. The Atlas Moth will always be my first and foremost priority. So I was doing countless, worthless hours dealing with bullshit, doing stuff for a record no one seemingly gave a fuck about. I’m really happy everything came together, and we are all really proud of it. But at the same time, under the circumstances, you can hate something! (laughs) The things that bring up memories from the record, man, that could really piss you off. But in hindsight we are all still really stoked on it now that we’ve gotten a little hindsight. It’s been almost two years since we recorded it.”
One of the real bright spots of the record was working with Moore. Not only did the mainstream media latch on to the notion of him joining the band, the band was equally intrigued about working with him. A seemingly random sequence of events led to their collaboration:
“He came in for the second half of the session. We did two sessions and he came in for the second week. The Sonic Youth sound guy worked with Sanford in his studio in Chicago. He told us Thurston was really into black metal. This was around the time of the second record. And we said “Send some of this stuff to Thurston Moore and see what he thinks about it. And see if we wants to do a record with us.” And he did! (laughs) And I was like “Well I’ll be damned!” (laughs) “We’d better write a brand new Twilight record!” He was incredible. He was super rad to work with. He was totally mellow and great to work with. He totally knew his black metal. It was fucking awesome to be able to write a record with that dude. And also to watch him play and get that much closer to someone with a unique style, it was awesome. He was super awesome to work with. We talked about including him for future sessions, which I would love. He is just a music library. He is fucking incredible. I don’t know how that guy puts it all together in his head. He’s something else man!”
Keith “Keefy” Chachkes
Twilight has released a stunning effort in III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb; but that’s the good news. The bad news is it is also their last release.
III: Beneath Trident’s Tomb (Century Media) is a grand swan song of noisy, yet tasty and sludgy riffs, in a raw wall of sound courtesy of producer/guitarist/keyboardist Sanford Parker (Minsk, Corrections House). This is further enhanced by the addition of a guitarist who is known for making musical noise an art form – Thurston Moore – yes, of Sonic Youth. It may seem to be an odd pairing, but it does work, and it should. Sonic Youth carved their niche as avant-garde musicians with little regard for things such as standard tunings and playing it safe, and Twilight is cut from the same cloth…albeit the darker, more tattered edge of it.
Moore is but another notch in the belt of a band that has culled quite a roster of musicians over its 14-year existence. The lineup for this final release is rounded out by vocalist N. Imperial (Krieg), co-founder/drummer/bassist/vocalist Wrest (Leviathan), guitarist/vocalist Stavros Giannopoulos (The Atlas Moth/Chrome Waves). Their performances are as good as expected, but this record overall appears to be a cross between their 2005 self-titled release with its aggression and Black Metal lo-fi trappings, and their 2010 release Monument to Time End‘s gaze-y leanings.
‘Lungs’ opens the record with Black Metal screams through Parker’s atmospheric production and grinding riffage. ‘Oh Wretched Son’ is dissonant and driving, successfully combining Noise Rock with Death Metal. ‘Swarming Funeral Mass’ is a doomy affair, starting off sparse but later filling up like an angry well complete with metallic banging effects and dual screams. ‘Seek No Shelter Fevered Ones’ also starts of quiet but very quickly rears up into a powerful beast of a mid-tempo song. ‘A Flood of Eyes’ reminds me very much of Neurosis overall, which is never a bad thing, then it cranks up the Thrash, brings in the barreling double-bass and then brings it down to a mid-tempo trot, resulting in a very cool musical ride. ‘Below Lights’ closes out the record, starting out as a creepy industrial song, and ending as a very creepy Industrial/Death Metal hybrid that would the perfect soundtrack to the kind of nightmare that wakes you up in the middle of the night and prevents you from going back to sleep.
There is not a lot of speed on this record, but what it lacks in speed and blast beats it more than makes up for it in sheer intensity. There is a weight to this record that is palpable, and practically visual. It is very easy to allow your mind to go to very dark places as this insidious soundtrack blares itself into the cracks of your subconscious.
Sonically broad, cold and uncomfortable, calling it Black Metal is not completely accurate. Other Metal genres snake in and out, such as doom, thrash and death. “Experimental” is a word that I do not like to use because it implies a hesitation or an uncertainty. That is not the feeling I get from listening to this record. It is a carefully crafted slab of Metal that is intended to be powerful and unsettling, and it succeeds at both. To get the best idea of what you are in for, picture Tombs at its bleakest, or Neurosis Nat its angriest.
Co-founder Blake Judd (Nachtmystium) appears to have been involved with the writing and development of this record, but left prior to its release. Perhaps this ended a band whose existence was as unpredictable and shrouded in mystery as the music itself. It may never be clear whether Twilight was a black metal supergroup, a kult collaboration, a label-commissioned project or the madness of one man with friends who understood it. Whatever they were, they leave as an enigma with a righteous stain of sound to mark their departure into the ether.
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