Megiddo interview from Qvadrivivm #2 (2000)
Christ Turned into Dust
Behind and after all the new age nostalgia, pining and avidity, the truth must be addressed: no matter what, the current overshadowers from Dimmu Borgir to The Sins Of Thy Beloved should not be entitled to aureoles of any kind, the least motive not being their dearth of experience. But that's just one consequence, or better, example of metal's decay. ChorazaiM of Canada's dearly held Megiddo is none of the same league. We summoned the man to join our abandonement, and it will remain for the future to see if the armoured words will make the superfluous ones bleed. Bring on the conservationists, lets cut down the trees. Timber.
To start from the beginning, why have we come along to this refurbishing situation? Why do we want to slay every black metal musician from the face of earth? Yes, I am asking you. I have my answer leaping hot-tempered like any television Reverend in my pocket, but to fill up to the job management brim, I am indeed asking you. Where did it go wrong? Who are we to blame? For my god's sake, seeing 13-year olds lecturing about black metal isn't rare of a sight in any proportions; not anymore, not in minimal annoyance.
ChorazaiM, respectively 30 years of life experience behind his back, becomes a member of the thus-far monologuesque discussion, "As it pertains to modern black metal exclusively, it all went terribly wrong starting with the Satan's Cheerleaders article in Spin magazine."
Burn Darcey Steinke at the stake.
"Before that point, black metal was still relatively underground, even if it was growing at a rather quick pace back then, but the above article really brought black metal to the attention of the masses - at least in North America - and that opened up the proverbial can of worms of which the results are still being felt today - such as labels being willing to sign any group of teenagers who happen to wear corpse paint and have the obligatory amount of medieval weaponry being displayed. But as far as younger kids listening to black metal, seeing themselves as authorities on it, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera... this is hardly a new phenomena: I myself was listening to this stuff by the age of 13 or 14, and I was also in my first band at 15 years of age. I think it has more to do with the level of enthusiasm one has - when you're young, everything seems to be a lot more vital - due to your own lack of experience, and so you tend to jump head-first into things, such as forming a band, or trying to become a walking, talking encyclopedia on black metal - there's nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but the problem is that a lot of the younger fans are blind to the fact that this isn't their phenomena - it's been going on for almost two decades, and no matter how much they want to believe this is something which belongs to them, they're merely the latest crop in a reaping that is decades old."
An issue attempts to rise here: if he, as firm as the previous answer was, really keeps well-balanced on tandem with the keys, then how (or rather why) has Megiddo kept waiting for itself for such a quantative amount of sand on the hourglass? Didn't black metal find Canada or didn't ChorazaiM find black metal? When pricks from Larry Lalonde to Satyr of Satyricon wanted to play, they didn't hesitate for fucking decades to get things going.
"The reason for this is because while I've been writing and working on Megiddo material for several years, it's only recently that I've actually allowed it to rise to the surface. Part of this was not within my control, such as the numerous technical problems I had getting the first demo recorded, but another part is the fact that I'm a perfectionist and I had no desire to release sub-standard product just to glorify my own ego, and I felt it far wiser a choice to release a quality product - even if it meant taking two years - versus releasing something which would prove to be an embarrassment to me further down the road...so it's neither a case of Canada finding black metal - we've had our fair share of bands over the ages, the most well known of which is probably Blasphemy - nor myself finding black metal - of which I've been listening to since the early 80s."
That's nice. Though the last one was moreso a rethoric question, mind you. Oh well.
Then why, why in the name of the Damned, 'Unholy Hateful Black Pentagram Metal'?
"Actually, it wasn't myself who came up with this particular slogan - it was coined by someone at Berzerkr zine reviewing the Hymns To The Apocalypse demo, and as I felt it was an appropriate description, I adopted it. I suppose some may find the term a bit overblown and perhaps even close to being parody-like, but one listen to Megiddo should dispell such myths instantly. I also feel that besides being a most fitting description, it helps to separate Megiddo from the numerous black metal bands out there - The term black metal has become so all-encompassing that it no longer has the same connotations it used to, and as I didn't want to be lumped in with a lot of what is termed black metal today, I chose to use 'Unholy Hateful Black Pentagram Metal' instead..."
Not too far off from the above, black metal's only a marginal subject on ChorazaiM's musical scope - biased or unbiased. Perhaps in two years a time he's already rehashing Helloween under the Megiddo monicker? The world has seen empires falling, dominions collapsing when then-former heavy metal heroes have begun to practise introspection and self-examination, causing light-weight - tension heavy-weight - nausea to their apparently non-existent fanbase. From riches to rags, that's one way to express it I guess.
"That is an impossible scenario as I would never allow Megiddo to stray so far off course. Being a fan first and foremost, I'm very familiar with the disappointment and disgust one feels when a once mighty band has a radical shift in direction - usually attributed to 'musical growth' - and ends up producing utter shite, and I would sooner disband than go down that road myself. If I ever felt the desire to produce something different from what Megiddo does now, I would simply start another project (which would almost be a novelty in itself considering how many of these so-called 'projects' sound like nothing more than inferior versions of the bands they shot off from to begin with)."
A novelty as in being something new? Oh please. Metal's already choking on these quagmire 'projects'. One positive side therein; these project want-ins seldom bother us for as long as the so-called real orchestras. 20 years is a long time for a useless band to churn out material for. To announce it once more, ChorazaiM speaks:
"Megiddo will only exist as long as I feel I can produce material at the same level of quality that I do now - after all, why continue on flogging a dead horse and releasing inferior product like so many of the greats from the past have done - I'd rather let Megiddo die an honourable death than simply become a 'paint by the numbers' affair, or even worse, release an equivalent to Cold Lake. As for trying to picture what I'll be doing when I reach my fifties - I've no idea, but anything is possible... look at Lemmy!"
I'd prefer not to.
"- I've only become active again in the underground in the last few years, having dropped out of it when the generic death metal of the late 80s forced me to lose all interest in it, but these days I do find myself once again spending quite a lot of time either answer mail, working on new material, or maintaining LARM (http://larm.cjb.net) - whether or not that makes me part of the underground or not is an individual judgment call I suppose..."
Yes, that LARM thing. Were it only the undersigned and the interviewee reading this interview later on I could maybe devote an ounce of something to foolness by spouting a little this and that about LARM - like why to keep those horridly blunt reviewers in the game - but for the most, I guess, this vague publication will be read by people who have no interest whatsoever in that. And please, partly accuse me of this, too.
Fluency in History
From a man akin to this easy-going Torontoan here - I believe 'mad Canadian' wouldn't be very fitting a description - in all likelihood, you're not to hear foul notations when it comes to the times of apparent grace, 1980s. That, of course, won't make him any more orthodox or correct than glib renaissance-trashers from A to Z, but at least he's been on the scene of the happening. Or, that's where he tries to lead us to anyway.
"I believe I first heard of Hellhammer through reviews of their demos in Metal Forces zine, and my logic was that anything which inspired such hatred from the reviewer must surely be worth checking out! So through tape trading I managed to get both their second demo as well as the Apocalyptic Raids ep, and those two items along with the first Bathory album and first Sodom ep really changed my entire view on what metal could achieve. Of course there were many other bands which also had an early influence on me, such as Venom, Destruction, et cetera, but it would take far too long to list them all, and it was really the unholy trinity of Hellhammer - Bathory - Sodom that forever forged my direction."
Now we're also able to reminisce the 90s as something dead stuck on a spear-head, and our black haired man is none different from the others, taking a gander as soon as I let him.
"The 90s had some great bands as well - do I really even need to bring up Darkthrone, Burzum, Countess, Ildjarn, etc.? - and these are the bands that helped inspire me to pick up my old guitar and start playing black metal again, after a very long hiatus, but their actual impact on the sound of Megiddo is minimal - what they helped bring out was the desire to once again write, and they influenced the aesthetics of the music to a lesser degree, but musically I think I share more common ground with the traditional/old school bands."
The guy even continues, 'now what if you could obtain a metal time machine, to what year would you travel?'
"Simple - 1984, and this time machine would preferably also be able to transport me to Germany as well, so that I could bask in the glory of seeing some of the greatest metal bands ever - namely Sodom, Destruction, Kreator, etc) live during their formative - and best - years..."
How cuddlesome, now he's already reminding Euronymous, 'The king of all chuffs, not by bad means'. If you could only snug in a few more 'sodoms', 'kreators', 'destructions' and 'the ancient ones'... Well yeah okay then, say.
Thus onwards, I believe that money does no good to anyone, the least for these 'ancient ones', who still, irony or double-irony, boasted in money.
"Money, as you said 'does no good to anyone', and therefore has no place in black metal as far as I'm concerned. Considering that black metal was never about big budget productions and was never meant for mass-consumption, there is no reason for bands to hold out for more lucrative contracts save for their own personal greed - and once greed becomes a factor in how you go about things, you cease to be a part of 'the underground' and become just another wheel in the machine of consumerism. This isn't to say that no black metal band should ever make money, but it should never enter into one's thinking - any profit made should be seen as a 'bonus', and not as an expected reward."
At this point it seems appropriate to say that the man's right. But isn't it that with the best of the bands the question has never risen to be worth enquiring? Who was to ask Mercyful Fate if they had earned stacks of dollars after the release of Don't Break The Oath? It's too obvious one placing things like that above for instance King's horrifyingly eerie lyrics would not be metal at heart, really. What there is to authoritative lyrics anyway? It's been seemingly easy for most of heavy metal's heroes, but it evidently can't be just a one-off 'no problem' thing. Especially with all these 'epic dragon metal' banners thrown across and back. The same goes for black metal - as in satanically oriented music - also.
"It has more to do with sincerity than authority in my opinion - if you're writing about something you feel strongly about, and you manage to stay within your own 'voice', then the lyrics will work - but if you try to write lyrics from a certain perspective or angle because it happens to be what's in vogue at the moment, you'll end up producing tripe. A lot of people complain about the over-usage of satanic imagery, and that it's been done to death, or that it doesn't really represent anything because Satan is a judeo-christian ideal, but those people are missing the point - overdone or not, if the emotions behind the lyrics are sincere, then why not employ the imagery? And are those who claim Satan and satanic lyrics, meaningless because it stems from the judeo-christian belief system, doing anything other than simply giving up an icon? Does hatred for christianity became any less ferocious when it's proclaimed under the name of Satan than it does when it's proclaimed under the name of Odhinn or any other icon? Black metal is meant to be anti-christian and satanic to begin with, so all of these pseudo black metal bands who prefer to sing about how lovely it might be to frolic in the meadowlands after the morning dew has fallen should coin themselves a new term and leave black metal to those who will stand firm as the vanguards of a new satanic age."
The Underground Pets
You know, I have just about everything against America. They probably hold the same grudge against me too, but that's something I don't bother to care for. Their music is somewhat of the worst calibre. A few good examples from the top of my mind ride Morbid Angel, Danzig, Autopsy, Death, Manowar and Deicide, but these bands have more or less started running low on gasoline after '90-'92. The bad examples are totally out of control and hence impossible to even start mentioning. There's little to hold the American flag high up again for, and even less when out-counting the likes of Novembers Doom, Agalloch, December Wolves, even Virgin Steele (disillusioned old chumps). No offense to anyone from Qvadrivivm reader Drew to Mr. Nieman of Eternal Frost, but I just find America too depressing. And please, do leave the US black metal out of discussion. Leave it.
I was incorrectly thinking ChorazaiM would have an idea on this, but I was wrong, or so it seems. An answer to one rubbish society-related question has been cut out of the way, if you're wondering.
"... As to why there aren't very many good American black metal bands - I disagree. I think there are quite a few good American bands, but they're relatively obscure as the only ones that seem to get any international recognition are the worthless bands that insincere labels have picked up in hopes of making a quick dollar off of, but I suppose that could be said of any country really."
Pardon me. I'll point out something he opinioned earlier on, in which I see a great deal of contradiction with what was said just now. On this light it comes out flurrying, this, relating to my question number 16: "Is it not a bit peculiar that no matter where we look upon on this world, every corner of the earth always regards it's scene as the best one? Friendship and relations have destroyed objectivity for good, it appears, and this holds pretty much everything inside: the bands, 'labels', zines... One would guess Megiddo has little to do with all this."
Spell me 'conflict' then, alongside these answering-lines: "... I would say that I'm in agreement with you that there seem to be a lot of people who suffer from this syndrome of flying a particular flag based more on friendships than musical validity, but those people would be fairly easy to spot I would wager - their bias would shine through their facades...""
I'm sorry, but I am a little more than confused now. Then, let me ask, what was the praising of the American black metal underground, if not just subjectivity up to a frightening par? I'll keep my stance nevertheless, until black metal equivalents to god's gifts from Winter to Massacre will appear. US black metal sucks goat balls to a very a high line - and I mean a VERY HIGH line.
Black metal went through an interesting metamorphosis a couple of years back; the bands became technical (sometimes overly so) and the ideology got totally lost. What does ChorazaiM have to say about this? Megiddo's quite a primitive band/project - and your vision seems to be on the healthy side of things - so, in conclusion, you're kind of walking against the scene.
"I suppose I'm going against the grain, but there has always been this seething underbelly of more primitive and traditional black metal going on - it's just not as well known. The ideology became lost because people were being exposed to black metal without having a real understanding of what it represents, and so they look at it in a very superficial way and say 'hey, it's just like death metal but with high pitched screechy vocals, and instead of singing about chopping people up or zombies rising from the dead, we'll sing about lesbian vampires and praise the mighty forest'. And now that this sort of stupidity is being labelled as black metal by equally uninformed fans who have only recently discovered this type of music, it's turned into a case of the blind leading the blind."
And, why did black metal become so technical after all? Some say 'twas because there were more bands and the competition was harder, but is that so, all in all?
"I don't believe it was competition that caused the rise in the technical playing level of black metal, no. Part of it could be attributed to the fact that a lot of these bands couldn't really play 'properly' when they started out, but with the passage of time they became more and more proficient, hence the music becoming more complex - the 'I do it because I can' syndrome. Another factor was that with the wide spread exposure of black metal, people who had previous experience and influences from other more technical genres have incorporated those elements into the music."
Speaking of it all day long, please tell me that there is no 'black metal scene' in Canada.
"There are other black metal bands in Canada, but whether or not this constitutes a 'scene' - especially considering the relatively small number of bands in such a large country - is rather debatable. I've heard of another black metal band in the same city I live in, but I've no desire to forge some sort of alliance based simply on geographical location."
... "In the name of musical honesty, I would sooner see myself working in a janitorial capacity rather than allow Megiddo to become compromised or another whored-out commodity of the consumer market"...
Being the impatient person I am, I was heedless enough to present some non-insightful questions, so say bye-bye to Vincent Crowley, Jon & Vlad, the immigrant situation in Canada, Unsung Heroes Records, Sadistik Exekution/Rok, darwinism in the evolution of Heavy Metal, zine editors and a lot of text in form of answers. And the man didn't even find words to phrase what he thinks being an oxymoron is like. Still, all's well that ends well.