Vocalist and guitarist M.
Live interview with Lady Kat Chaos, Lori DeLuca and guest Astarothria Myurr
January 13, 2016
Lady Kat Chaos: Hails M.! I hope you’re having Great New Year thus far. It’s been a busy New Year for you, you’ve played two shows; January 2, 2016 with Monsignor Meth, Horrible Earth, HepaTagua, Gowl, Gorepedo at Ralphs Rock Diner in Worcester, MA and January 8th at O'Briens with Vivisepultre and Aversed. What other shows do you have currently lined up?
Ashen Wings: Yeah, it was a pretty crazy beginning of the year with two shows that fast. They went quite well though. The next show we have lined up is Feb 19th. It will be nice to have a slight break in that time frame. I'm sure we'll have more shows coming in the spring. There's talk of playing a show with Sorrowseed at some point. But that's all we've got planned so far. We really want to see if we can nail down some time to write, but things have been hectic with life outside this project.
Lady Kat Chaos: Indeed, sometimes a good opportunity can arise and you don't want to turn away a good show. December of 2015, you also performed a show and proceeds were going to Sancta Maria women's homeless shelter in Boston. Are you a supporter of given back to your own community?
Ashen Wings: That's a tough one for me. Personally, I think it is a good idea to do these things, but I don't participate very much on my end. I think the others in the band can be more involved in this aspect. I have spent a lot of my time away from being involved in anything for quite a while and it's a very different experience to get involved with any community of this caliber.
Lady Kat Chaos: Being that you've hidden yourself and not involved within the underground scene as far as socializing at shows and attending shows for a few years. Do you feel it’s difficult to communicate in person with other bands and fans since you preferred for many years to associate with your own inner circle?
Ashen Wings: Yeah, it's very difficult. We get very positive reactions, J.M. and Meraxes have talked with quite a few fans. Meraxes is certainly the far more sociable one in the project and it's really good he's involved in that capacity. I'll talk to a few people at the shows we play and there are some local bands we are getting know a lot better, which is nice in many ways. But it's all very counter to how I've engaged metal, especially Black Metal for most of my life.
Astarothria Myurr (Hellbrats Zine): Some have a lack of understanding about Black Metal live stage performance. I have read reviews in the past that they tend to say that band is boring on stage, hence I don’t think the reviewer truly understand the stage atmosphere. Care to baroque to those who don’t get it?
Ashen Wings: I sort of lean on the realm of not being sure Black Metal was ever intended to be performed live. So, it's sort of an anti-performance in many ways. I remember a lot of comments in the old days akin to "this is like people attending a mass worshipping some band" and it was not meant as a kind remark, instead to show this as a sort of similarity to Christianity. I think this was back at the time of Black Metal vs. Death Metal. One of the problems Black Metal has in its design is its supposed to have a sort of ice cold droning feel behind the music. If you really like the genre, it translates well live, since you expect a less than exciting stage performance. This music isn't designed to be a catchy experience for people to mosh to or have a lot of "fun" at. In practice this isn't exactly how it plays out live depending on my audience, but the music isn't really designed around pleasing a crowd.
Astarothria Myurr: I’ve haven’t seen Ashen Wings perform live yet, do you have a commanding stage manifestation?
Ashen Wings: Probably. I mostly just stand there and do my thing. A lot of this is related to the fact that I have to sing and play at the same time, so it takes a lot of concentration to do that for me.
Astarothria Myurr: You mentioned Sorrowseed earlier. Have you ever had a discussion about doing a tour together?
Ashen Wings: Not a tour or anything, but definitely playing shows in the area. It's tough for Ashen Wings to do a real tour because of the way our jobs work. But someday maybe we will consider doing this. I feel we really need a full-length out and ready before we can even consider this kind of question.
Lady Kat Chaos: At least from my experience I can say that, although bands from diverse genres will perform together at festivals and most of the time they will overall have friendly relationship with each other but they do not stand for any nonsense or bullshit when it comes to shielding their musical identity. Has anyone ever approached you after a live show and you had to defend your bands creations or what about a review that you felt was inequitable?
Ashen Wings: I don't think we've had a bad response to what we perform. I mean, if people don't like us, people usually don't come out say "you suck". At least I've never observed that in our local scene. The most you'll get is "it's not really my thing" or someting like that. Which is fine. This is art and not everyone is going to like your particular art. For our area, I think we are a somewhat unusual project with a Black/Death blend rooted out of the Polish style, but people seem to enjoy it. As for reviews I don't think I've seen too many out there. But I'm sure that will change once we get a full-length together. As someone who dos reviews, I definitely understand that not everyone is going to enjoy everything I do.
Lady Kat Chaos: Indeed, Ashed Wings has been receiving a great deal of positive feedback and other hordes have been speaking of your live shows. Do you attend the full show?
Ashen Wings: Yes, at least I always try to. There has only been one show that I wasn't able to fully attend and we had to get there late because of schedules not lining up correctly. I usually don't leave early either, unless I'm not feeling that well. I remember I had to play a show with a bad cold one time and I stayed as long as I could put up with, but eventually I ended up leaving early because of it.
Lori DeLuca: Do you play any covers? How many gigs did you play? With which band would you like to tour?
Ashen Wings: The only cover we've played so far is "Carnal" by Vader. A lot of this was motivated by filling out the necessary time for a live set list when the band first started. We talk about cover possibilities all the time, but lately we just focus on writing new material. Though, we are likely going to cover "Forging Towards the Sunset" by Anaal Nathrakh in the near future. This is the only one that we've really discussed doing seriously. I actually have no idea how many gigs we've played so far... after a while I just lost count, but it's not like we've played that many... we might be near the 20 mark. I don't really have any strong opinions on who I'd want to tour with. There are a lot of bands I would like to work with, but I think a lot of those on my list don't really fit with Ashen Wings. There are also a lot of bands I, realistically, don't think we'd ever get to play with, such as Trauma or Endstille. I don't see them coming to the US any time soon for a tour, nor do I see us touring Poland or Germany anytime soon.
Lady Kat Chaos: How did you become interested in Metal, particularly Black Metal? Is it part of your identity/lifestyle? Are there any interesting stories that come to mind?
Ashen Wings: Hah, I don't know if I have any interesting stories. When I was growing up I feel like I was always searching for more extreme forms of metal. Back in the mid-90's Death Metal was getting quite popular and the storm of Black Metal was just starting to come over to the U.S. So, when I was in grade school I found some early Thrash bands through my cousin who was a little older and was also into music. While I enjoyed bands like Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth etc. they just paled in comparison when I eventually found Death Metal. Hilariously, a lot of exposure came from music videos aired on Beavis & Butt-Head, a favorite show for many boys in middle school. But they seriously aired videos from Morbid Angel, Carcass, and Entombed and it was through there that I finally started looking around for more music at my local record shops. I found all these bands I heard in the music videos and bands like Suffocation. So, I started getting a sense for what extreme metal looked like, then Century Black started bringing over the Black Metal and I bought a copy of "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas" when it finally made it to the U.S. I think my musical life changed there. Inside the CD's, as many people will remember was that little order form to get more music from the label, so from that order form I picked up releases by Emperor, Arcturus, Satyricon and many more and I've followed the Black Metal genre ever since.
I think Black Metal really ended up being part of my identity in a lot of ways. It's a very introspective genre and that's something that really works for me. I think the approach to the philosophy and genre over the years has matured a lot more, but then again, we aren't in our teens lashing out at society like the early days.
Lady Kat Chaos: Not only thru little order forms but I would find out about bands who would distribute their tapes through Fanzines, tape traders, bands, promoters, record stores, mini flyers in other bands tapes or mailed out press-kits, people handing out mixed tapes at shows, let’s not forget about word of mouth and so forth. Do you still do mail orders? What companies do you order from or do you order directly from the band?
Ashen Wings: There were a couple good distros in my area in the 90's like Lost Disciple Records and Dark Symphonies. They would setup at shows a lot and that's one of the major ways I was able to track down a lot of material. I also ordered from Necropolis Records, Full Moon Productions, and Red Stream regularly in the 90's. Back then I relied on them to get stuff from the international labels. I remember it was always a big deal when one of those labels got an order from No Colours or Folter Records in stock! Actually... I think that's still kind of a big deal today, at least for me haha. Today I still do mail order... or whatever the online equivalent is and it's not unusual for me to do some big orders overseas. I do try to order directly from the band if that's an option, but most of the time it's easier to order from a distro/record label. There's a number of companies I try to follow, like Witching Hour Productions, Pagan Records, No-Colours, Folter Records, Tour de Garde, Sepulchral Productions, Ossuaire Records, Humanity's Plague Productions, Seance Records, and there's probably more I'm sadly forgetting about. In addition to being great record labels with great releases all these labels have wonderful distros!
Astarothria Myurr: While reading your response a few questions has stimulated my thoughts, therefore, I will ask the next of my questions in parts. Do you still have your 80's and early 90's tape collection? What about vinyl records? CD’s?
Ashen Wings: Yeah, I still have some of my old tapes. I did eventually replace some of the releases with CD's as that became the major part of my collection. So, my collecting policy on tape and vinyl is that, I usually only buy those if it is the only option I have. I tend to prefer CD's mostly because of ease of storage and ease of listening (i.e. listening in the car). Plus... vinyl tends to be on the more expensive side, so while it has it's own merits as a format, I think I end up saving more money by collecting this way. This means I can get into more bands, which I don't think anyone would complain about.
Lady Kat Chaos: Did you ever own an 8-track tape or even a 45” record?
Ashen Wings: I have never owned an 8-track... I think that was a bit before my time. I do remember have 45's when I was really little though. But it wasn't too long after a while that the cassette tape came into existence and then everything just converted to that in the 80's.
Lori DeLuca: What would be your oldest cassette tape and your most recent you would have in your collection?
Ashen Wings: My oldest cassette is probably Metallica's "Master of Puppets"... well in terms of my purchasing, because I think I got "Ride the Lightning" and "Kill 'em All" after the fact. I'm trying to remember back that far, because I also have the Star Wars soundtracks on tape and the Aliens soundtrack on tape too! I'm actually not sure which came first. The most recent tape additions are the demo from Vermont's Contempt and the latest Evilfeast promo from 2015. Although someone did just sell the first Lunar Aurora demo to me, but that isn't in my hands yet.
Lady Kat Chaos: Compact cassettes came in two forms, one that included content as a pre-recorded cassette, or as fully recordable "blank" cassette. Many would purchase blank cassettes to make mixed tapes by recording songs off the radio, copying songs off different tapes, which this term is mixed tapes. Also, many bands would record themselves live from a radio and release it a demo tape. Soon cassette tapes started to replace stereo 8-track cartridges. Have you ever thought of recording live on a cassette tape while having a rehearsal?
Nah, I've never thought about doing that. That kind of gear is really hard to come by today as well. I used to record all my material onto a four track when I was younger. I think I ended up recording 9 albums worth of content and would put these out on demo tapes... that I was way too shy to distribute anyway. I eventually started making demo CD's when CDRW's came into existence, again, was pretty shy about doing all that stuff. But I did put out a couple on an old friends DIY label.
Lady Kat Chaos: Many are going back to the roots for releasing on a cassette tape. Are you glad to see many underground bands are going back to these roots? Do you like the sound better on a tape?
Ever since I moved I haven't been setup to actually listen to tapes too well, so I can't really listen to my new tapes on a stereo like I used to. I think the tape format is just an interesting thing, especially with how you have to layout a booklet. I don't think they sound better or worse than other formats. I'm not sure I'm such an audiophile to declare one format sounding the best ever like I see some collector's do. To me, they all have their merits and downsides. Though since I've started collecting, CD's have been my favorite more because of ease of use, I think, than anything else. I mean, modern cars don't even come with tape decks anymore.
Astarothria Myurr: How many hours can a cassette tape hold of music?
Ashen Wings: Depends on the tape. I remember you could find tapes that would hold up to 120 mins. I think these are the kinds of tape my Moonblood rehearsals are on, since things like Rehearsal 10 or 11 are quite long. I can't remember if I saw anything longer than that... at least not commercially available when I was recording on a four track and buying blank tapes at local department stores.
Lady Kat Chaos: I feel a history lesson will be spewing about cassette tapes, compact cassette, tape, cassette, audio cassette, and musicassette (MC), which ever term individuals feel like calling it.
Lori DeLuca: I would use cassettes that gave me about an hour worth because you would get 30 minutes on each side.
Lady Kat Chaos: Actually, there were several tape lengths. The C46 would have about 23 minutes per side, the 60 played 30 minutes per side, you also had 60, C90, C120 and it’s not hard to figure out how long each side was. Simple math. But I remember when TDK came out with the C180 and honest it was not great. The tape was way too thin and would snap faster after a few plays. To me it also made the sound quality suffer.
Lady Kat Chaos: I learned at early age by my father how to splice a tape to fix it even if some music would get cut off for a few seconds. Did it ever piss you off when your tape got eaten up?
Ashen Wings: I only ever had a couple tapes get eaten, and luckily they were just mix tapes I had made personally for my own listening. None of my demos have been eaten, but I've since backed up everything on mp3 format and these days I mostly listen to tapes in this fashion, especially if it's a demo tape. Having a tape get eaten is infuriating, same with scratching a record or CD.
Astarothria Myurr: What would be a good tape length for bands to record on today? What lengths do you feel comfortable releasing your music on?
Ashen Wings: Honestly, I just purchased whatever tapes I could find, these were not things I could buy easily when I wanted to do the demo rehearsal we made. That was more in homage to things that Moonblood had done in the past, as well as many other bands and I also wanted to include some rarities that I had on my harddrive from over ten years ago in some cases. I think the length of the tape should be dictated on how long your music is, if you buy 120 min tapes to record 20 mins of music then that's annoying to deal with.
Astarothria Myurr: How do they last for?
Ashen Wings: That depends on how well you take care of your player and tapes. I've had tapes from the 80's that still play fine for me. The blank tapes a lot of demos are made on don't have the same level of quality though, so those can degrade over time. Kind of like CDr's aren't as high quality as pressed CD's.
Lady Kat Chaos: Take good care of them and they would last a life time. In the 1970’s both cassettes and LP records were the two main resources for prerecorded music, until 2000’s when CDs started to become one of the main formats for music. Now, it’s mainly about digital, in which I dislike not the same as having it in your hands. Do you like this digital moment?
Ashen Wings: I think the CD format really took on fully in '96, that's when everything started to convert. I like the access I have to international music in the digital age. It really is much better than in the 90's when I was blindly buying material without hearing it. Now, I can almost always sample a band before I buy their album. With so many bands and so many releases out there, it's important for me to buy music I will listen to more than once these days. The quality is much better now compared to when things first started. Now it's not uncommon to have music compressed to 320kbps. It's still not as good as a CD or tape in quality, especially for the more raw projects, but it's a hell of a lot better than 128kbps when things first started out.
Astarothria Myurr: What were the greatest moments about going to a record store? Do they still exist in your area?
Ashen Wings: For me, the greatest thing was being able to get the music right away. As someone that had to always special order everything from various parts of the country or overseas, there's a, sort of, special excitement about being able to listen to your purchase as soon as you leave the parking lot! Today when I import out of countries like Russia it can seriously take a month to arrive at my door. This length of wait is not that uncommon.
Astarothria Myurr: This show that you speak of Beavis & Butt-Head and even Headbangers Ball, which today many will have no idea what either one of them were. If you were to do a short written piece about this metal history what would you say about them both?
Ashen Wings: The Beavis & Butt-Head part was sort of funny for getting introduced to this kind of music, mainly because everything about that was centered around making fun of it. However, Mike Judge's opinion on Death Metal wasn't enough to sway my enjoyment the first time I saw it! I never watched Headbangers Ball much, I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that at this point I had gotten extremely into Black Metal, and there were very few Black Metal bands that had videos, so there was a very slim chance they would ever play them.
Astarothria Myurr: What was the main reason for you to experiment so much with the music, even including your vocals?
Ashen Wings: In the newer material we're working on I feel like there's a bit of a higher degree of experimentation as we try to blend certain material together. I think the EP was a bit more straight forward and not too different from what is already out there. I always try to do vocal performances that are a bit more varied and interesting. I think there are too many bands out there that just have a very monotone type of vocal performance. I don't hate this or anything, as I love lots of bands that do this, but for me, I always appreciated the bands that could deliver a much more dynamic vocal experience and I try to do that.
Astarothria Myurr: Would you say that Mayhem "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas" was the first band who started it all for you? Would you say that they are true Norwegian black metal forefathers?
Ashen Wings: I think that album really started my keen interest in Black Metal, that's for sure. I had been searching for a sound that really matched my...ideal, I want to say and on a personal level Black Metal really achieves that better than any genre. Mayhem is certainly one of the major forerunners. I think them and Thorns really invented the guitar concepts that became prevalent in the modern style.
Astarothria Myurr: Explain what entails about you lashing out about the society in your teen years?
Ashen Wings: That had more to do with the church burnings and violence of the early 90's. A lot of these guys are in their 30's and 40's now, some even in their 50's and that kind of action is not something people my age really bother with anymore. I mean, regardless if you want to see churches burnt to the ground or not, it's something you are not likely to do when you're older.
Lori DeLuca: Although, I have been into rock and metal for a very long time and also an old schooler, one style of metal most would feel that Black and Death Metal has a completely different approach and vibe. Because both vocals can be hard to follow, do you feel that some don’t pay attention to the lyrics one sings?
Astarothria Myurr: Lryics are important. I enjoy reading them if they are available. Do you read other band lyrics?
Ashen Wings: Yeah, I don't think a lot of people pay attention to lyrics. I, honestly, don't anymore. I used to read the lyric books when I was younger, but now I find I rarely ever do this anymore. Perhaps at this point I don't think anyone has anything new to say. Honestly, I have nothing new to say and I'm not sure how important it is I even bother writing lyrics for anything. Who cares what I have to say anyway?
Lady Kat Chaos: In October of 2014, you released your first single, “Tearing Flesh from Angels”, did you receive a good response?
Ashen Wings: I'm not sure, Meraxes is the one who set that up. I think that was more to test out how bandcamp would work because none of us had ever used it before and we weren't sure how the format would play out. We wanted to make our tape and EP available for people to order shortly after that, so I guess he made a single. Meraxes wrote that song anyway, so he would know more about it.
Lady Kat Chaos: These days do you feel it’s safer to release a single to see where it will lead you in the underground scene and see if others would accept it before putting a full demo, EP or album?
Ashen Wings: No, I never listen to singles. I think singles are a waste of time if you release one seriously and we'll probably never do that kind of thing again if it's up to me.
Astarothria Myurr: What inspired you to write this song?
Ashen Wings: I think the song is heavily influenced by Dark Funeral, which is a band Meraxes likes a lot and that is where he drew his inspiration. Lyrically I tried to write something that matched up with that inspiration.
Lori DeLuca: Do you like Thrash Metal today?
Ashen Wings: It depends, I tend to like Thrash blended with another genre like Black or Death Metal. I prefer harsh vocals over clean, so I like it when bands do that. For example, I really enjoyed the first Ketzer album.
Lady Kat Chaos: I remember the days of listening to Thrash Metal and Death metal. When Black Metal first started many were calling black metal "fake" and yet I began to embrace it. Do you feel that a lot has changed within the Black Metal scene do you think it is less controversial these days?
Ashen Wings: I remember when the term "norsecore" was thrown around a lot! Do you remember that one? In retrospect this kind of made sense with the constant blasting, so it did feel similar to Grind from those old days. I don't know if it's less controversial today... As hundreds upon hundreds of bands come into existence, I think it has merely become common. It's not rare to hear a viscous wall of sound while a drummer blasts away at his kit with some guy screaming about Satan. Even though this sound is more common, I still enjoy it and I can still find merit in a lot of modern and newer bands.
I think the biggest change has come with attitude. A lot of the people in my generation don't really care about being the "biggest" or the "most true", we just are. The world is messed up enough and our inspiration to reflect that through art is really where a lot of us are coming from today. I don't think people need to burn churches anymore to get certain ideas and messages across. I think they made for an interesting gesture in their specific time, as "this is the resistance to religion." I'd like to hope that all of us understand that burning religious symbols is merely symbolic and it is not something that erodes an ideology. In order to do that you need to have far more convincing arguments. Forcing someone to your way of thinking through "fear" is ultimately meaningless, because you haven't convinced them to change their ideas, you merely convinced them they are afraid of you. This seems to be the concept of the early fight against Christianity, but I think it has matured a lot beyond that. Even though these tactics may appear effective in a short term basis, I don't believe they are sustainable, which is why you don't see such things done that much anymore. Also, I think these tactics of fear mongering is someting religions often use to ensnare their followers, so I'd like to think we are a little better than them. I think Black Metal has also begun to work beyond Christianity and reject a lot of the religions the world over as well, which makes sense.
Lady Kat Chaos: A few would call it "Norsecore" but it was barely used. Many didn't know what to make of it either. Even today the most credit the term "black metal" goes to Venom, because of their release of the album by the same name. Hence, there were other versions and secular ideas long before that. Around 84' many were starting to get into Bathory and Celtic Frost and people were stating they were occultist of evil hell. lol Many also felt that Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey are prominent figures in the Black Metal scene, what are your thoughts?
Ashen Wings: Yeah, and if we look back at history I think Black Metal was originally supposed to really follow that Venom style. I mean, just looking at something like "Deathcrush" and that doesn't sound anything like what modern Black Metal became in the 90's. I think the style changed and the name just stuck. Now a lot of people are very angry about that, but I think that's what ultimately happened.
As far as those two guys are concerned, I think Crowley has influenced the scene more. I mean, I'll see some LaVey stuff show up in USBM, but it was pretty well known in the 90's that the European scene really rejected him and his version of Satanism. The occult stuff, like what Crowley was more into has really taken off more though. I think a lot of bands deviate from his original stuff and draw from other areas for inspiration. However, I kind of look at occult topics to being similar to any other religious or spiritual idea... I'm very dismissive of these things today.
Lady Kat Chaos: As you have begun to be frivolous, today, there are many different religions and cultures creating Black Metal music. Do you reject any of these bands or do you not pay any attention what path they follow?
Ashen Wings: I definitely care if a band is religious or not, I've always been like this. These Christian people performing someting like "Black Metal" just sounds silly. They have no passion for the art form anyway, they can't. While, I was into the occult side of Black Metal years ago, I'm starting to dislike this current trend. I think it's a good backdrop and perhaps makes for a decent historical metaphor in fighting religions... but bands are getting really into this stuff. A lot of the occult practices are even rooted in ancient Hebrew stories. Stuff that was rejected by the greater canon of their religious texts. So, I question how demonic a band really can be when crying out for "Adonai" or "El Shaddai"... which are names for God and often invoked in the ritual occult. In any event a lot of this stuff is all made up fantasy to me. I don't know, even though I do enjoy the music some of these bands put out, it's a bit harder to stomach the nonsense sometimes. I tend to prefer when things are used more for artistic metaphor against the major religions of the world than someone trying to explain their beliefs to me. To my mind, the greatest threat and insult to any belief or deity would be in not believing in any of them. I mean, what is worse the person who allies themselves with Satan, which affirms the existence of God or the person who says, "neither of these things actually exist". As a believer, I would think the latter is far more insulting and concerning.
Astarothria Myurr: I don’t think it has to do with how old one is because there are many from each generation who would like to be well-known and hence you have those who just glad to be heard. Do you feel that some individuals fear those in the Black Metal and Death Metal scene and how so?
Ashen Wings: I'm not sure. It depends on where you're coming from I guess. I imagine deeply religious people should find these kinds of things quite fearful, especially with the idea that there's this whole music genre dedicated to opposing you. I would imagine that to be unsettling for people.
Astarothria Myurr: Do you find war paint or corpse paint symbolic in the Black Metal Scene? Why do you feel that some have stopped using this image as well?
Ashen Wings: I think corpse paint has always stood as a symbol and it really helps generate a good atmosphere. I think there are bands that do this especially well and their imagery really mirrors the music perfectly. It also helps us disassociate with the human aspect behind the music, as they rarely look human anymore. This is an aspect that I like quite a lot because it allows the listener to engage the music at a slightly different level. In some ways, I think some people have stopped doing it simply to change things up a little bit. The practice is far more prevalent in Europe and it's really in the US that it is not used very often. In some ways, for me, it's merely something I don't feel like taking the time to do.
Astarothria Myurr: What are your thoughts about bands now wearing different types of mask, for an example a band like Ghost?
Ashen Wings: I think the mask thing is a little weird. I think the only issue I have in my head, is that I can't get the image of Nu-Metal bands out of my mind when I see this thing show up... so I think whatever imagery is intended by this bands is kind of ruined for me. I don't really see this taking off in a grander sense though.
Lady Kat Chaos: What do you think is the difference in the North American Black Metal scene as compared to the European? Do think many bands in the European are more coherent in their idealization of pagan beliefs?
Ashen Wings: When it comes to the belief end of things, I don't think we're that different anymore, but maybe I shouldn't opine since I haven't followed many others in USBM over the years. There have been some good bands, but even today I still get the majority of my music from Europe and Canada. There's just something about the music coming from there that strikes a chord with me that a lot of USBM doesn't. I mean, if I had to hypothesize it may come from the differing in roots as musicians growing up. You hear this slight difference in sound when you listen to, say, German Thrash vs. U.S. That difference in tone, or song structure or whatever it is really affects me as a listener. At least, I hope that made some sense... it's very hard to qualify in words.
Lady Kat Chaos: Many have felt that in the USA Black Metal scene that most are caught in the image, lack in the ideological and some feel that many USA bands in the Black Metal scene suck. What USA bands have impressed you over the years?
Ashen Wings: Now, I'm not really sure it was lack of ideology that was a problem for US bands. I know a lot of people out there that can hate Christianity just as hard as anyone from Europe. I think my issue is more the "feel" of the music. I don't think they're really caught in the image, I think it has more to do with the way a lot of new bands are coming into the scene today. A lot of new bands today have a lot of baggage to work through, meaning they have a lot of influences to sort through before they can really sort out their own particular sound. So, a lot of times I'll get a debut album from a band and they sound just like this other band I heard in the late 90's or something. That's fine, if they sound good it's good, but a lot of times it's the 3rd album where a band starts to come into their own sound. So, you just have to be a bit more patient today. A lot of people don't like this and I think the need for instant gratification has gotten worse in our culture, so this works against new bands. This is kind of a shame, because I feel like every musician goes through this. Mayhem's original sound wasn't what we heard on "De Mysteriis dom Sathanas", so why do we expect it from new bands today?
Anyway, a recent discovery on my end has been the band Fin. Their prior albums were okay, but the latest one, "The Furrows of Tradition" they put out was very very good. So good, in fact, that it will surely hit my top 10 when I finally publish that on my 'zines page. The latest album from Panopticon, "Autumn Eternal," actually did something for me in the Atmospheric Black Metal genre. Now, I haven't liked any of the prior Panopticon albums, but he really sorted out his sound really well on that album and there were only a couple parts I didn't enjoy. But for the most part it was quite a welcome change!
Lady Kat Chaos: With your observation, what image do you feel they are lacking and haven’t grasped on?
Ashen Wings: It's not really image. It's more the way the songs are approached. There's something in the way they arrange things like guitar tone that must put me off. It's like that really subtle difference between the German Thrash tone and the American.
Astarothria Myurr: But any band will create similar or somewhat different within their music because of their own roots they have grown up on. Do you feel if a black metal band adds death and thrash metal roots have also lost the vibe and feel and aren’t sure which genre they truly want to be?
Ashen Wings: I'm not sure it's about knowing which genre as it's taking all these influences and figuring out a way to blend them together in a cohesive manner. In a sense, you want to create a sound built on those before, but also have the blending be different enough that you stand out as a band. Rather than say, rote copying a particular Darkthrone album. I think that's more what I mean by trying to write new material in this world and trying to find a sound that is unique to you.
Lady Kat Chaos: What waves of Black Metal do appreciate the most?
Ashen Wings: I think I can find appreciation in most eras of Black Metal. The early 90's are special in their own way and then the late 90's has their charm... although I think in the late 90's there were problems with the sheer volume of bands available. Not everything was spectacularly well done and in the late 90's is when you started to find generic projects popping up. I'm not sure this marred the era entirely, but it made it harder to find the gems. In the 2000's I think people just got used to this new fact of the genre and now we just deal with it generally. I am really impressed with how long the genre has stood and how fresh and new some things can still sound today. That really says something about the truly creative people out there, far better than I could ever be at any rate.
Lady Kat Chaos: Speaking of influences some bands that is listed in Ashen Wings band page are as follows: Anaal Nathrakh, Funeral Mist, Vader, Dark Funeral, Behemoth, Mgła, Deathspell Omega, Nomad, Decapitated, Marduk, Trauma, and Drudkh (to name a few), but what guitarist or vocalist has influenced you most?
Ashen Wings: For guitarists.... I mean, we have to consider the era. In the early days of playing guitar I was heavily influenced by Snorre Ruch of Thorns and both guitarists in Emperor. Satyr was another major favorite of mine as well. These days I seem to listen to bands like Annthennath, Kältetod (especially the album "Reue"), Peste Noire, Forteresse, Csejthe, and things like that a lot. I think they all do very interesting things with their composing style. Mgła is a band I've followed ever since their participation in the "Crushing the Holy Trinity" split, so that should give you some idea of their influence on my work over the years. Naturally Kriegsmaschine comes into play as well. For me, I think Hate Forest is more influential than Drudkh, but the other guys like Drudkh quite a bit.
Otto Kinzel IV Hey dude. You guys had a great song on the 27 Tons of Metal New England comp. Which I was lucky enough to help produce with Bill & Lisa Richards. It was the first time I ever heard you guys & I was immediately impressed!
Lady Kat Chaos: Great comp indeed! Since Otto, mentioned the comp, do you feel that it has helped you with getting more notice within the underground? Thus far you also have two releases, a demo tape and an EP and also a single which were all released in 2014. The demo tape is called “Devourer” and is from your rehearsal recordings, and the EP is called “Echoes of Carnage” which is a studio quality re-recording of your demo tape. What changes have you made between the two?
Ashen Wings: Between "Devourer" and "Echoes of Carnage" the only difference in songs is recording quality. I think we ended up finishing the "Echoes of Carnage" EP a lot faster than we anticipated. For whatever reason I thought we'd have to wait till Spring 2015 to put that out, but we cranked through it pretty fast.
Lady Kat Chaos: Your first demo, “Devourer” was released on November 15th, 2014 on cassette. Opening up with a dark intro, how important do you feel an intro is on a release?
Ashen Wings: I don't think they're that important. I'm not sure we'll even put one on the full-length, but we haven't even discussed that yet. I'll have to take a long look at how the songs wind up being arranged. Sometimes an intro is a good idea to lay the foundations of atmosphere for the album that is about to be experienced, but sometimes it is a good idea to just get on with the music. A boring intro can really hurt an album and be annoying, so if what you're making doesn't call for much of an intro then you should stay away from them.
Astarothria Myurr: One of the best demos that I have heard in 2014. Vocals that brings you deep into an abyss that you don’t want to come out of, soaring guitar riffs creating a blasphemous sensation making your heart beat off its pattern, thunderous drums striking you down like a bolt of lightning penetrating right to bones, while the bass follows the aftershock. What was the inspiration behind the following songs “Cancerous Bones”, “Devastate the Palaces” and “Firerealm”, which these three songs standout in my mind at the moment?
Ashen Wings: "Cancerous Bones" I wanted something really inspired by the catchiness of Vader and it's really turning into one of the songs we always play live. The riffs on there are very high energy and I wanted something that would work well in a live setting, which I think that song does. "Devastate the Palaces" is a very old Death Metal song I wrote in the early 2000's. We've toyed with adding it into the Ashen Wings fold, but who knows if that will ever come to be. I actually don't remember the inspiration behind that song. "Firerealm" was born out of a project I was working on with my friend who is now in Pathos Sutra. That song became "The Great Devourer" and "Firerealm" is the original version of the song, but this is very different from what it ended up becoming.
Lady Kat Chaos: “The Great Devourer” appears on both sides of this release. What was your reasoning behind this?
Ashen Wings: One is the rehearsal recording from 2014 and the B-side version is an old studio recording made before Ashen Wings even existed. My friend Sean and I were intending to do our own project called Adversarian, but life and time made this hard to work out. I really did like the song, so when I was asked to participate in Ashen Wings, I proposed adding it to our setlist and the other guys loved it, so here it is in its slighlty re-arranged form.
Lady Kat Chaos: As many know I am not a huge fan of cover songs, but you did a great job with, Vader’s “Carnal”. How did you feel this would make a great ending song for side A?
Ashen Wings: Thanks, I think a lot of the other material is heavily rooted in the Polish Death Metal style, so ending with "Carnal" made a lot of sense. Since we wanted it in our set list we had to keep the choice on the shorter side, but it's a song I have always loved ever since I saw Vader on their "Black to the Blind" tour.
Lady Kat Chaos: Which are you favorite songs off this demo that you enjoy playing live?
Ashen Wings: "Cancerous Bones" is one of our favorites to play by far. We've used it as a closer for quite some time, but we're thinking about changing up our set list now. I actually quite enjoyed "Carrion Eater", because the chorus sounds really good in a Khold kind of way.
Astarothria Myurr: It was a short run with only having 66 copies. How fast did it sell out?
Ashen Wings: It didn't, we still have a lot of copies. I think it will be a while before we sell out of all these tapes, to be honest.
Lady Kat Chaos: When creating your EP “Echoes of Carnage”, did you choose the songs most of your friends and fans enjoyed who were unable to get a copy of your demo? Is this CD still available?
Ashen Wings: The EP is still, sort of available,we've been trying to make more from time to time as people order them. When we get a properly pressed full-length, we'll probably stop making the EP and leave bandcamp as the only way to get it.
Lori DeLuca: One day do you hope other bands will follow in your footsteps?
Ashen Wings: I'm not sure what I would say to other bands coming up. I actually got into a conversation about this recently in terms of giving advice. Aside from luck being a massive factor the most you can do is work on things the best you can. We are very fortunate to find a group of people that want to play this music together, many musicians out there are not lucky in these regards, especially when it comes to playing some variant of Black Metal in my area. Music is an extremely subjective realm in which to work and as soon as you step on stage people will judge you. If you're not convincing enough or sound good enough it can really hurt people's perceptions. I think we can bring a serious and convincing way about our sound to the stage, which people respond to favorably. I'm not sure how much someone can really "practice" this kind of a thing. I know I did not. It's just something I've seen other musicians do when I attended shows growing up. I really appreciated the serious approach to their craft and the lack of a "stage show", which was very counterintuitive to a live setting. It was like a giant middle finger to all the pomp of the popular 80's style. I mean, sure you'd have some of the bands do corpse paint, but they didn't do much beyond that. They kind of just stood on stage and let the music speak for itself and that's what I try to do as well.
Lady Kat Chaos: When speaking of perceptions of a band. There will be times where a band is better off in the studio compared to a live setting and vice-versa. How do you try to maintain the same for both?
Ashen Wings: We'll see how that holds up on the full-length. For me, when I am writing Ashen Wings material, I am trying to design material that will work well in a live setting. This is a very different intention when I write for my studio projects. If the material translates to a studio setting nicely, all the better. I think the new songs will work well in a studio, much better than what is on the EP even. With sounding good live, I think it just comes down to sheer practice. We practice quite a bit.
Astarothria Myurr: How do you feel about theatrical stage settings or props?
Ashen Wings: I wouldn't use them for anything, but I prefer more of a minimalist approach to things. If someone's music is actually really enhanced by this stuff then they should use it. I've seen bands that go for theatrics and that's all they had, because the music didn't do much. Other times bands will add a little something to their stage set, not much, but it really makes the experience a lot more engrossing. This is how it was seeing Sortilegia live.
Lady Kat Chaos: Mgła did the split 'Crushing the Holy Trinity 'with Clandestine Blaze, Deathspell Omega, Musta Surma, Stabat Mater and Exordium in 2005. I have noticed that their full length 'Exercises in Futility' released last year most will say it was one of the best albums released. Yet, now many are just finding about them. Are you a fan of Polish Black Metal scene?
Ashen Wings: I'm a huge fan of the Polish Black and Death metal scene. The Ashen Wings sound is really drawn mostly from that region. But I'll go after bands as well-known as Infernal War to as obscure as Pustota as far as my interests go in Poland. I try to follow their scene as closely as I can from this far away. Anyway, even though I didn't think "Exercises in Futility" wasn't as good as "With Hearts Towards None", I really think it's about time Mgła got the recognition they are getting. They're an extremely hard working band and very good at their art and concepts, so it's very well deserved. I've had the pleasure of seeing them live twice and both times were spectacular.
Lady Kat Chaos: Do you create mainly on acoustic 12 strings? And speaking of creating you have been working on your debut album since last year. How is the process coming a long? Have you decided on a title or is it still being thought about?
Ashen Wings: I mostly create music on an electric guitar. I've never owned an acoustic, sadly. Often times I just play the electric without amplification and write music that way. We've been working on trying to write for a while. I had to record a full-length for a different project over the past few months and with how often Ashen Wings plays live, it's been very difficult to find time to write. Now that my recording process is completed, I'm hoping we can focus on writing our own music a bit more. Half the new songs don't even have titles or lyrics yet, so I'm not even at the album title stage. The only thing working in that department is an overarching concept to the lyrics.
Astarothria Myurr: Will this be a concept album or is it too early to tell?
Ashen Wings: I don't think it will be a full on concept album like some bands put together. I think this will be more of a growing theme throughout the lyrics, rather than having a full story being told as each track goes on.
Lady Kat Chaos: When composing your music over a certain time, do you feel you have evoked the right feelings with your musical compositions?
Ashen Wings: Not always. Ashen Wings writes considerably faster than I'm used to and a lot of times I feel that things can get a little clunky with the way evoke certain atmospheres. The real question I often have as a writer is whether or not there is a certain charm in that? Is that a feature or would it be better to write a far more cohesively flowing album or song? As a writer I'm extremely concerned with the way music flows from one track to the next or within a song. I'm trying to get better at harnessing this power, but it is very difficult and often I feel like an amateur crafting thing so messily. But perhaps that chaotic structure is something of a boon for Ashen Wings. It certainly feels that the riffs I write vs. what Meraxes writes can be at odds with each other, but perhaps that conflict is a good thing.
Astarothria Myurr: Are you more comfortable writing riffs in the veins of Death Metal or Black Metal more?
Ashen Wings: I am definitely more comfortable writing Black Metal. I find it hard to write Death Metal riffs, despite what the song "Cancerous Bones" might have you believe with it's main riff. Sometimes, I feel I have to pull back with the Black Metal parts, such as if I write something that is more fitting for a more raw styled Black Metal song, which is a vein Ashen Wings doesn't really write in.
Lady Kat Chaos: When it comes to writing new material for different projects, do you ever find it difficult to choose which riff will go to what project? And indeed we will not discuss your other project nor shall it be asked of you by others.
Ashen Wings: Yeah, there are not enough details ready for the other project yet. So, perhaps another day when I know more about it. Sometimes it's very difficult to write for the two. Some of the riffs in Ashen Wings almost certainly belong in the other, but we wound up incorporating them into Ashen Wings instead. Mostly because they are good riffs, but I didn't know where to take the other project just yet. I have more direction now in that regards, so it's getting easier to separate them. It helps if you have a distinct vision in mind for your sound, but Ashen Wings is such an amalgamation of sounds and influences that it's a little hard at this stage to see where things should go. We're running into that 3rd album problem I referenced above.
Lady Kat Chaos: At times it can be difficult to create a new opus. Do you ever get frustrated and walk away from it for a few weeks?
Ashen Wings: Absolutely. I definitely take a step away from things. We've actually written quite a few riffs that we have no idea what to do with them. They're good riffs, but they just don't really fit anywhere. Maybe someday we will reconcile the problem, but I don't see it coming up anytime soon. All I know, is I feel like we're writing as a more cohesive unit, so that's a very good thing. For me, the time I really need to step away from music is after recording an album. The recording process usually makes me really dislike what we work on, because I have to listen to the songs over and over too much. So, I spend a few weeks away from music as a whole and then I come back to what we made and think "hey, this actually isn't too bad!"
Lady Kat Chaos: With a mixture of death metal, black metal and including atmospheric regime. Can you tell the reason for showing such diversity within your releases and do you feel it’s more accepted compared to back in the days because both scenes were once divided?
Ashen Wings: To me, the scenes weren't divided for very long. I mean, if you think about when the current style of Black Metal came into existence it was only a few years later that Necrophobic hit the world with this style. I think the Death Metal vs. Black Metal is more accepted today... then again I don't think it was ever an issue in the U.S. like it was in Europe. The early Norwegian scene, at least, really had it out for Death Metal calling it things like "Life Metal", but at the end of the day I'm still going to listen to Vader and Suffocation etc. I think this was always more accepted out in the US. Now Black/Death is just a style that has existed so long that no one seems to really care anymore. You even have Norwegian greats like Gehenna releasing albums like "Murder", so I don't think anyone cares anymore.
Lady Kat Chaos: I still see a good handful who will not accept it.
Ashen Wings: That's fine, they don't have to, the music isn't being made for them specifically anyway. I mean, if someone is so arrogant as to think a band writes music just for them, they're just crazy.
Astarothria Myurr: Have you ever written a riff and then tried to play it backwards to see what it would sound like?
Ashen Wings: Certainly, when I was recording a guitar line on my four track back in high school I played the tape backwards and used it in one of my early demos. But that's going back to like... 1996 maybe?
Lady Kat Chaos: A brief history. . . Ashen Wings, was thought about 2013, when both J.M. (drummer) and Meraxes (lead guitarist) decided to create a death metal side project. In 2015 Rahovart filled the bass position (now left and have a new bassist, but with you M. joining in 2014 as the vocalist and rhythm guitarist, do you feel because of your black metal background the direction of Ashen Wings changed to blackened death metal band?
Ashen Wings: I don't think my involvement is what changed it. Meraxes and J.M. are pretty influenced by things like Behemoth and Azerath's style, so that was already there. We've just tried to blend my writing style into the project. On the EP most of the songs are either composed by me or Meraxes individually. The only one I think is a true joint effort is "Carrion Eater". All the other songs might have a single riff contribution from the other guitarist, but the other songs definitely have a primary author in my mind. The new material we're writing is very different from the EP. It's got a certain atmosphere and quality to the material that just feels different for me.
Lori DeLuca: How did you come up with your bands name?
Ashen Wings: The band name came out of a song title, actually. We had songs, we had lyrics, but we had no band name. One of the songs we had was called "Ashen Wings" and Meraxes came to practice one day and said "you know, that actually might make for a good band name". So, we checked around the internet to see if anyone had a name like that already, and no one did! Lucky for us. All of us tend to prefer one word names for things, but sadly in today's age, just about all the good single word names for metal bands are taken!
Astarothria Myurr: By all means brother, I mean no denigrate, but many lately have been using their magic names for their personal name. I am honestly intrigued with yours, “M.”. There can be many different meanings that comes into mind such as “M.” is the thirteenth letter of the alphabet, The 13th in a series, in mathematics terms million, Roman numeral 1000, measure, medium, mass, meter), a symbol of magnetization, general Physics (mutual inductance), in chemistry (chem molar), majesty, metal, medievil, and even also in astronomy which it’s also listed in numerical system that has been cluster with Hercules. Would you care to share how your name about or will it remain a mystery? Do you think that some may confuse you with M. from Mgla?
Ashen Wings: I hadn't considered the possibility for confusion, but the M. stands for Metatron. Which came out of an interest in the ancient stories of the Middle East. I was really into the history of things like Sumer when I was in school. Anyway, where most bands often take the names of demons, when I was reading stories in the Bible you come across this term "Seraphim" and often these are thought of as angels. But in further looking into the lore of things, they are actually giant fiery serpents... so like the common images of Satan as the grand dragon, I thought this would be an interesting choice. Metatron is also called the scribe of God, and there is even a legend of him sitting on the throne of God, in which the teller exclaims "there is more than one God in heaven." I thought this was a wonderful thing, because it undermines the concepts of monotheism so heavily. Perhaps choosing such a name for myself is a bit of arrogance, but my intention wasn't to proclaim myself as God over others... at least outside of the notion that we are, all of us, our own gods, in the sense that we are the ones responsible for our own lives. I'm not so into these things today, but that is where the name comes from. That was over ten years ago and I'm not sure changing my pseudonym would be all that worth it. Shortening it to M. has more to do with my disinterest in the implications the name brings up, but I have already published under this name... so changing it now seems like a poor idea. I don't know, I am still on the fence about the whole thing, to be perfectly honest.
Lady Kat Chaos: I know you need to head out and I thank you for this interview. Any last comments you like to make before I lock you out of my hellish throne?
Ashen Wings: Yeah, I think you will always have some division, but in the grand scheme I don't think people worry about it so much. I guess, all I can say is thanks for having me and thanks to anyone that gives Ashen Wings a chance. Have a good night.