Where The Slime Lives Volume Two: Extrreeeeme Depression!
, August 4th, 2010 07:33
It's the second metal column from our Jenn Selby, who interviews Pombagira and pays tribute to the late Daniel Krauss of Admiral Angry. Live photos by Al Overdrive
Hello and welcome to the second edition of Where The Slime Live: a monthly column exclusively dedicated to the very best new, underground, and largely uncovered extreme metal nasties, bought to you by your ever-disgruntled servants of Baphomet - the House of Blackfrost - and delivered through the medium of me, Jenn Selby, literary purveyor of all things fowl and downright aurally disgusting.
When we're not sitting around dressed as David Bowie, preparing Blackfrost's magic canapés and listening to Materialschlacht's Wetten Bass... on repeat, you can find us scouring the bargain bins in a dimly lit corner of a Camden record store, flicking through pile after pile of Rage Against The Machine cast-offs and bad mid-90s thrash rejects in a bid to find that horrific EP or those razor-raw demos, wrongly cast aside by an all-too-quick-to-dismiss hack who - through his thick-rimmed spectacles - failed to see the shiny side of these polished-until-gleaming musical turds.
Or, if that proves fruitless, we'll stop pretending to be Helloween, screaming at namby festival goers and demanding they retire to Mr Torture's tent for "the real main event" to turn our attentions towards the internet, using a variety of virtual tools to insure that no stone is left unturned, no necro-salacious-squirrel-core left unlistened to, no faeces left unsmeared as we attempt to address the philosophical question: where exactly do the slime live?
This month, we've turned our ruthless interrogations towards a bowl-plunging genre that has divided the House of Blackfrost almost as much as it's carved up the metal community. In fact, doom now has so many guises, we're not even sure what it is anymore - an identity crisis trickle that became a stream and then a river in the HoB, flushing out our bedrooms, over-watering our basil plants and disbanding our unit into three separate characters of hate, misery, and haemorrhoids.
First we have Skeletor. He's the hot-box hero who prefers to stew in his own juices, philosophising about the reliability of walls ("no matter what happens, you can always be sure that the wall exists. Trust in the wall. The wall is strong for you...") and ninja spinning to the thunderous down-tune of Ahab and Shrinebuilder (with a slice of retro action creeping up - much like his inevitable come-down - from the likes of Black Sabbath, Trouble and Pentagram).
Then there's General Blackfrost. He's one dark fucker with a penchant for misery, pain, anal and renaissance art. Naturally, his evening consists of red wine, cry-wanking, My Dying Bride, and Monotheist-era Celtic Frost. This isn't to say he doesn't cross swords with more groove-laden fare from time to time, but, most often, he prefers to plunge his dagger into bloodier wounds than your average riff-a-second stoner gash.
Then there's me - the hick - currently wading through a sea of beards and bleary eyes to catch one of my filthy sludge favourites bust open a colon or two on stage at the Camden Underworld. Weedeater have been polluting my listening space for several years: first, with their throat-grating debut album ... And Justice For Y'all; later on, with their third offering, God Luck and Good Speed (and, I predict, again with the release of their eagerly anticipated forth record Jason... The Dragon, which is due for release later this year). See it's the richer, bluesier tones that strike a chord with me. It's something about those whisky-worn vocals, that groove-laden, southern-fried sound that moves me in genuine, melancholic ways that other forms of doom do not.
Quite often, it appears the Americans have the upper hand when it comes to the slow stuff: tonight's bill is a great example, reading like a head bangers travel brochure with sets from Californian stoner-troop Saviours and thundering two-piece Black Cobra (also from California) supporting a beastly montage of classics from Dixie and co (who live in a swamp, probably). And then there's opening act Pombagira - the British power-duo who not only draw more of a crowd to this evening's event with their drawn-out mantra of crust-encased doom than the two support acts put together, but they also manage to come through on top, both technically and in sheer, meaty, crushing volume - despite the fact there's two of them, and one's a g..g..g... girl(!!!!!!!!).
If you've been knocking about on the London underground circuit for long enough (and I don't mean taking the Northern Line to work in the morning, Dad) chances are you'll already know how awesome this drums-and-guitar two-piece are. Chances also are that, even if you are that guy with the Ayat demo stapled to your nutsack, you haven't heard much from them about their monstrous new album Baron Citadel: a four-track, 75-minute epic due for release at the beginning of September. We got the exclusive first word from guitarist and frontman Pete (and also did a little bit of introducing for those of you who aren't already acquainted). Here's what he had to say about voodoo magic, being married to your drummer, and why doom's not all about bass guitar:
Your band name derives from the Afro-Brazilian religion of Quimbanda, which is quite an unusual thing to focus on. Can you explain a little bit about the religion, what it means to you personally, and why you chose it as a point of reference for your band?
Pete: Carolyn originally chose the name Pombagira because it keyed into our mutual interest with Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Brazilian religions. The principle interest derives from the iconography of the religion. Many [of those] religions came about by subsuming their African spirituality and replacing it with a veneer of Catholic hagiography. This alteration in religious motifs was in response to slavery and the faith of Roman Catholic enterprise to convert their "pagan" slaves. Quimbanda is unusual because it intensifies the sense of otherness or difference by using satanic imagery. It would be wrong to assume however that exu or his consort Pombagira, even though they are depicted as devils, relate to contemporary western representations of satanism as exhibited by black metal. As a guide on how to deal with everyday pressures, Pombagira should be regarded as a source for change, promising fortune with one hand while bringing misfortune with the other. The dual composure of loyalty and treachery for us reflects the inconsistencies of everyday life practices. Pombagira is one way of getting a handle on the depth of meaning found within the existential.
Do you practice, or is it just an interest?
P: Well I've been to Haiti and have participated in vodoo ceremonies while there, and I have since my teens been interested in occultism.
You used to be in a grind band. Can you tell me a bit about that?
P: Yes, well I've been in a few. I started playing in 1985 when I formed Azag-thoth, and this came to prominence in 1987 when Shane Embury from Napalm Death joined the band. We recorded one demo entitled Shredded Flesh, which a few years was released as a split 12" with the first Terrorizer demo on the other side. In the early 90s I started Scaplock, this was a political grind band. That came to an end in 2002, after which I formed Flyblown, a full on crust d-beat band this lasted until around 2007. It was then we started Pombagira.
Why did you decide to make like Dorian and Broadrick and slow the fook down? Age? Haemorrhoids?
P: Good question. It wasn't as if I didn't listen to sludge because from the start I was into bands such as Melvins and Confessor. I wasn't really into trad-doom, the only exception being Candlemass. I admit I was a later bloomer when it comes to Electric Wizard, while Cathedral I have never liked. I always preferred it with Lee singing in Napalm. And yet my record collection reflects a long passion with Kraut-rock, 60s psychedelia, and early British rock. I've listened to this material since 1975, and I had always fancied slowing down and seeing what I could write. Sleep has always been a big influence and this I used as my touchstone for what Pombagira was going to be. I have to say that has changed since becoming a two piece and realising we don't need to be confined.
You and your drummer Caroline are a couple, correct?
P: Yes that's right, we were married last year in the states.
How does that work out for you? Are there many arguments? Divorce-threats? Broken crockery?
P: Ha ha ha, yeah it works well. We get upset with one another when we write because we have such strong opinions, but we always result in something that is better than either one of us. It's a tension I could do without and yet it produces such a vast range of creativity that I can't do without it either. We don't really argue about music. Carolyn was always far more into doom than I was, and yet our tastes have merged with me bringing the old records into her world, which is largely made up of the new.
A lot of people have the perception that doom is all about the bass. How, as a two-piece of guitars and drums, do you compensate for this?
P: We are all about the bass, but it's a range of frequencies that we play with by using a number of vintage amps simultaneously. We use bass cabs and we tune to A. If there is a compensation then this is it. Down-tuned and on any night a usual array of six amps being run at once, although we actually have more amps than we can run live because we aren't big enough to play venues that can accommodate ten amps.
You've got a new album due out. What are we all to expect from it?
P: Well I'm not sure how to describe it. It's certainly a development on Black Axis Abraxas, and it reflects my interest in 60s psychedelia. I think the songs are sharper and more precise than before. It's heavy but considered at the same time. I really believe people will be blown away when they hear Baron Citadel. There are four songs, two eight-minute songs, one 24-minute song, and one 30-minute song. Yep, it's epic...
Is there a concept or theme at work here? What message, if there is one, are you trying to convey?
P: Baron Citadel is our reference to Baron Samedhi and Carrefour Lord of the crossroads. These songs detail the opening gambit for initiation into an esoteric order. They refer to my experiences as a founder and practitioner of the dragon's column, an organisation that included the late sorcerous magister Andrew Chumbley. As with many of our songs, these songs detail in poetic license the nights spent in the woods calling the elder Gods. They are meant to evoke a particular time and place.
Does it differ hugely from your last two outputs?
P: The difference is quite dramatic. Of course it is still Pombagira and we have particular Pombagira [bowel] movements, but what is different are the harmonies and the reflective [back] passages within the songs. It traverses the highs and lows of emotion and provides solace from the gathering storm of mundanity that is so emblematic of modern day life.
Talk us through the recording process...When did you record it? Did you use any special equipment or did you just keep it really raw?
P: We recorded Baron Citadel in January at Leeders Farm. This was our second attempt because we tried to record at Chuckalumba but we came away with nothing that we could actually after nine days of being there. It was the biggest waste of money for all parties concerned. So we stripped it back, recorded the songs together with me running four amps that were divided between two rooms. In the first take we used two Sunn model ts, a 200 watt Sound City and an 120 watt impact by status. We then re-amped the clean signal that was recorded as a DI through a Laney Klipp and a Simms Watts. We are really happy with it now that Gomez from Orgone Mastering had a go at it. It shines and it destroys.
When are we to expect a release, and where can our readers get hold of a copy?
P: The release date has yet to be decided but it will be at the beginning of September. Label? Well we are doing a co-release between our label Black Axis Records and Mordgrimm records that recently released Dragged Into Sunlight's first album. We are currently trying to get a distribution deal with SRD, but if that falls through then we will sell it on line through the Black Axis Records and Mordgrimm Records websites.
Pombagira are a fine example of what I like to call a ‘power duo', pertaining to the fact that for two people, you make a hell of a lot of (good) noise. Are there any power duos you think our readers should check out?
P: For us the main power duo that needs greater attention is Eagle Twin from the US. Lovely guys and they bring a very early Melvins feel which we are totally in love with.
But before we let yet another pair of Yanks steal our unusually patriotic thunder, let us turn your ever-meandering attentions towards another up-and-coming Brit-doom act, albeit one of the new "Satan's cool, let's all get isosceles beards, Burzum tattoos, black geek spectacles and skin-tight Electric Wizard T-shirts" wave. Brighton-based five-piece * Sloath *(not to be confused with the extremely awesome but markedly AMERICAN doom band Sloth or Stateside stoner-sludge behemoths The Abominable Iron Sloth have been crawling along their monotonous, fuzz-hearty branch towards critical recognition since the summer of 2007, and have supported some of the most respected names in the doomisphere, including the colossal Acid Mother Temple, the ever-hypnotic Om and plain fucking weird noise troupe White Mice.
Now, they've got a furry little self-titled something of their own to share with the world, which they've released in an ever-retro vinyl-only format through Riot Season. And it's well worth the plastic it's scratched into, too. In true doom style, the three tracks are split into two, 11-minute, looping, feed-back drenched stumbles home, and one, huge, weed-infused 22-minute epic. But it's not until you've finally found the much-fumbled-for key hole and gotten through the door that you park your rear on the metaphorical psych sofa, roll up a blunt, and immerse yourself in the blissed-out, never-ending post-metal after party that is Please Maintain, which is every bit as Intronaut as it is Harvey Milk, and every bit as soothing and medicinal as its predecessors are so deliberately mundane.
hat's more, the band aren't sitting around moaning about downloading, but instead focusing this potentially self-bloating energy towards making their product, y'know, SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY WANT TO BUY. Not only do you get a beautifully-printed sleeve rammed with awesome tunes, but Riot Season will also send you a digital copy, so you can listen on the go as well. A great British band, with a great attitude. You can't say fairer than that. Show some support for your fellow countrymen, and grab a copy here.
And if it wasn't for this one band, whose message, legacy, and unbeatable anguish could go on to be sold in a novel's worth, let alone in two paragraphs, my list of great British underground doomsters would probably go on to include Dead Existence, The Wounded Kings, Dragged Into Sunlight and Trippy Wicked among others. But such is the strength of this recently-released, last ever output by Californian noise-doomsters Admiral Angry, that despite their very American roots, we just couldn't ignore them.
The Admiral Daniel Krauss - guitarist and driving force - wrote all of the band's material, and worked relentlessly to create this seething, buzzing, dystopian mass of pain, rage and mental torment, despite his on-going battle with Cystic Fibrosis - a life-shortening, genetic illness that causes progressive disability, extreme pain and early death. However, Daniel still managed to put out a handful of splits, release a tremendous full-length, Buster, in 2008, create art work for the likes of label mates Black Sheep Wall, and wedge a touring schedule inbetween - all of which he pulled off with every success.
Sadly, Daniel passed away during February 2009, but not before he had mapped out A Fire To Burn Down The World: a one-track, 30-minute EP designed to "punish you for all the bad things you did in your bedroom." As a tribute to the late Daniel Krauss, the remaining band members recorded the piece last summer, and finally released it via Shelsmusic back in May. And by God we're glad they did. Without wanting to dig too far into the parallels, this wonderful, aching, torturous track drags you down into bleak, despondent nothingness with maddening screams, feed-back-heavy riffs, and calamitous, tune-plummeting, break-downs which are, one can only imagine, every bit as drawn-out, extreme and painful as the physical torment Daniel himself suffered during his short time on earth.
Most people fail to accomplish even half of what Daniel did in just a quarter of his lifespan, and for his bravery, and his unquestionable, unavoidable talent, he will always be remembered. We're not going to get any more Bob Geldof than that, except to say that each and every penny of profit made from A Fire... and Buster goes towards the Cystic Fibrosis Fund, which works to improve the quality of life for thousands of suffers. Show us a band that have done more and are doing more than this one (and actually make good music- Chthonic don't count) and I'll show you the finger.
So back away from the torrent, you selfish git, and buy your copy here: it's worth every penny and more.
On a lighter note...
Ever thought doom was just one gigantic, sprawling hardcore breakdown?
Well, General Blackfrost and Skeletor most certainly did, which is why, on an extremely sparse Friday evening two years ago, they made this fan video for progressive Nordic doom crew Ahab. On discovering this masterpiece floating around on Youtube, Ahab LOL'D so hard they decided to plaster it all over the walls of their website and myspace pages as an unofficial release.
Oh the mirth, THE MIRTH!
Talking of spoof vids, the guys behind this plucky internet star, Talanas, are releasing a rather spiffing three-track EP called Reason And Abstract on Saturday. If you love progressive death metal in the vain of Akercocke and Opeth, you might well be in luck with this promising first release from the London-based five-piece.
Until next time...