Sunday 30 October 2011

Interview with Jon Stenson of Black Magic

Last weekend's second annual Live Evil not only lived up to expectation, but also the heights of last year's bar-raising weekender. One of the many bands who excelled were a yong band from the mountains of Norway called, simply, Black Magic. I heard them first when they were still a black metal band back in 2008, but their 2010 demo Reap Of Evil really made me think this band could become something special. I contacted the band's chief songwriter, Jon Stenson, about an interview last year and, kind as he was, he was too nervous to do one as he had never done one before.

Fast forward to October 2011 and I managed to get not one, but two out of him - one before the fest and one after - so technically I gave him his first and second interview, but whatever, here is an alamgamtion of both. By the way, Jon is like Daniel LaRusso or something and had the most PMA of anyone ever to land in London for the first time with nowhere to crash. He is a bona fide metal apprentice worthy of claiming the throne one day.

AFITFOG: Jon san! How was it traveling to London? I hear you have a great fear of flying.
It's just the classic 'nowhere to escape' reason. But I can tell you what you do when you hate flying - you realise the drinks are free, you drink them, accept death, and listen to Heavy Load.

Haha, okay. Did you enjoy your first time playing in London?
I did, yeah. Playing in London was actually a dream come true, couldn't be more happy about getting that opportunity. And although my playing was a little more shabby than I would want it to be, I think we put on a good show. Free beer, nice people and good music—couldn't ask for more. We all had a blast.

You started the show standing on some amp covers, what was that all about?
The boxes were there to make us feel like metal gods. Being big Judas Priest fans and watching old Slayer clips from 83, we just had to do it.

Did you have a decent place to crash in the end?
Haha, I was actually kicked out of the "hostel" the other guys were staying at after only a couple of hours sleep on a bean bag. Angry, drunk, and confused, I was heading towards the airport when I suddenly realised that we hadn't played the show yet, hahaha.

HAHA! No WAY, dude, that is incredible. So what did you do?
I found my way back to Camden Town and bought a fake Casio watch. It's really nice.

Wow, unorthodox, but effective, especially if it has a date display function. So let's backtrack a little. Let's talk about the band's origin.
In 2006 I had an old band which Cato of Deathhammer liked and when I went down to the south to visit a girl in his town I contacted him. We met up and jammed and listened to music—it was the first time I'd heard Bonded by Blood—and we decided to form Black Magic.

So Exodus had a profound effect on you then?
Ah, no, we listened to lots of different stuff. The Black Magic you hear today is more influenced by heavy metal and old Slayer, compared to the Reap Of Evil demo.

Yes, I was going to say. That is very much black metal-influenced, then the second demo is thrashier, yet the new material is more heavy/speed metal-based.
Reap Of Evil was more influenced by Hellhammer and Sabbat, but of course it had some elements of heavy metal to it as well. "Voodoo Curse" is probably a good song to describe our current sound.

So how long did the writing process for the album take and are you using any of the demo tracks for it?

A lot of the riffs are old from 2007 and up 'til now.

And it's coming out on Dying Victims?

Yeah, I think Florian [Grill] is tired of waiting, but it will be ready pretty soon...

So tell me, you compose all the tracks yourself and then have Sadomancer of Deathhammer record drums and Salsten, also of Deathhammer, join live?
Yeah, I compose the tracks. Sadomancer has made two riffs for the new album, though, but Salsten refuses to record bass because he thinks I'm better at it, haha. But yeah, me and Sadomancer write the lyrics and he plays the drums too.

Nice. He is a wizard that guy. A true master of evil.
Ha ha, the master of evil lives in our minds and the wizard holds the key to our music.

Profound. So, aside form Judas Priest videos, what else inspires the sound and lyrics of Black Magic?
SHOW NO MERCY! Iron Maiden too. Satan, I guess. I really don't think people will hear all my influences but I get inspired by bands like Camel and Rainbow, anything really, not just the riffs but different "moods".

So will there be a tour of any sort after the album's release?
There will be no one to tour for because once they hear our album they will be dead, ha ha ha [evil laughter]. The people of London and around the world better be there when we play!

Nice. Thanks again Jon-san, you are soon to be the master, not the apprentice.

Jon was kind enough to let me post last year's pretty much already classic demo for all of you who missed out on the cassette. This is from Jon's .wma files, so they sound a little better than the tape-rip I made so I could use "Possessed" for my end of year mix, last year. It also includes a little bonus track not found on the tape, but I did include it on last week's Live Evil Mix, namely "Voodoo Curse" which, for me, is simply fucking incredible. I must've played this almost a 100 times since he sent it to me last year. Can't wait for the fucking record!

Black Magic (Norway) Reap Of Evil (2010)
1.The Ritual/Night of Mayhem
3.Embraced by the Occult
4.Voodoo Curse (Bonus Track)


Friday 28 October 2011

The Return... Live Evil Pre-Show Shirts

I'm not sure how many of you made the pilgrimage to London last weekend for, not only Live Evil, but for the pre-show, but those of you who did will know how killer a weekend it was from Deathhammer, who opened proceedings at the pre-show, to Aura Noir, who closed the festival on Sunday night. Thanks to all the bands, Marek and Mark, and all deathpipers. Can't wait for next year!

Anyway, I had some shirts printed up for the pre-show, limited to 20 pieces for each band, all with the same backprint. The Deathhammer and Nekromantheon ones sold out on the night, but I have 5 Large and 5 XL Occvlta shirts left. If you would like one please leave your email address, location, and size in the comments box and I will email you a total. Shirts are £12, plus postage, which will be £4 in the UK, £8 to Europe, £10 worldwide. Don't ask me for the other two because they are all gone and I am not reprinting more cos that would be lame.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

A Fist In The Face Of God presents... Live Evil Mix 2011

Yes folks, it is finally that time again—the return of Live Evil. In case you don't already know, Live Evil is a two-day metal festival held at Camden's Underworld showcasing bands from AFITFOG mixmaker Fenriz' Band Of The Week blog picks. The festival is in its second year and has again managed to come up with a hellwarming line-up, featuring many past AFITFOG interviewees. Some of the bands are relatively unknown, so, like last year, I decided to do a mix—in order of how the bands will appear at the festival—for your listening pleasure. Words from festival organisers Mark Lewis and Marek Steven after this.

So the plans are finished, the t-shirts and zines are printed and the bands are getting on their planes. The EVIL stress that is organising a festival is nearly over. Soon we will get to see some of the best metal in the world rip The Underworld to shreds.

None of this is possible without Fenriz and all the bands and friends who help us each year. Using the Darkthrone 'Band of the Week' choices as the basis of this is such a great leveller - we're guaranteed only the best no-bullshit metal. You can't fake it! Fenriz listens to more music than anyone and it's his integrity and taste that are the key factors.

So a massive thanks to all the bands who agreed to play Live Evil 2011 and to Dylan for the mix. We strongly advise you to check out these classic and new bands...

And there are still a few tickets left so get a taste of the best heavy music in the world at the weekend, all are welcome. It will be the best weekend of metal in UK for 20 years! No shit!

To international underground... "Destroy their modern metal and bang your fucking heads!"

Mark Lewis & Marek Steven



1. Age Of Taurus (England) "Unto the Hour of the Dead" (2010)
2. Witchgrave (Sweden) "Satanic Slut" (2010)
3. Maim (Sweden) "Evil Smell of Death" (2011)
4. Ravens Creed (England) "Stampede of Skeletons" (2011)
5. Em Ruínas (Brazil) "Morbid Pits" (2010)
6. Jaguar (England) "Stormchild" (1981)
7. In Solitude (Sweden) "Witches Sabbath" (2008)
8. Pagan Altar (England) "The Lords of Hypocrisy" (2004)


9. Revenge (Greece) "Jesus on the Cross" (2008)
10. Cruel Force (Germany) "Forces of Hades" (2010)
11. Black Magic (Norway) "Voodoo Curse" (2009)
12. Morbus Chron (Sweden) "Deformtion of the Dark Matter" (2011)
13. Bunker 66 (Italy) "Metal Redentor" (2010)
14. Antichrist (Sweden) "Victims of the Blade" (2011)
15. Elixir (England) "Treachery (Ride Like the Wind)" (1985)
16. Aura Noir (Norway) "Sulphur Void" (2005)


Thanks to Fenriz for all his dedication keeping Band Of The Week/underground metal alive, to both Marek And Mark for all their hard work organising everything, to all the bands for playing, and to Marek for helping me out with five of the tracks for the mix.

And don't forget the pre-show at the Old Blue Last. I have done some VERY LIMITED shirts for the show, so don't be late.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Interview with Antichrist

Militia of Cake

Sweden's Antichrist are not only one of the finest thrash metal acts in the world today, but over the course of their existence they've also been the most difficult thrash metal band in the world to track down, mainly due to their refusal to exist on the internet. When regular AFITFOG mixmaker Fenriz tipped me off about them back in 2009, I ordered their Crushing Metal Tape demo, but it wasn't until I got hold of their second demo last year that the obsession began.

I originally tried to contact them via the address in the first demo in order to obtain the second, but got no reply. Noticing a different email address in the second demo, which I finally tracked down, I tried again and again got no reply. Then eventually when they did respond, I sent questions, but they didn't reply to them. So, I decided to take the law into my own hands and went to Gothenburg last weekend to see them play an insane show at their album launch party at Truckstop Alaska, a crazy little venue in an industrial area of Gothenburg whose clientele looked like the band shots of every good 80s metal record there is.

I sat down with band members Sven, Anton—above, after face-planting into their cake – yes, elusive thrash metal bands eat cake too—and Gabbe some time in the day leading up to this while they were busy setting up the stage and smoking a lot of weed.

AFITFOG: So, tell me how Antichrist were formed.
We met at a Destruction concert at a festival in Sweden called Gates Of Metal. That's when me and Steken [Anton, the singer] decided to start a band – a thrash metal band – cos this is what we were listening to at the time.

What year was this?
Sven: 2005, I think. It was a very messy show, but it was a very good show either way. So we decided to start a speed/thrash metal band, but we were both drummers so we didn't know what to do. We decided if we ever found a guitarist that I would do the drums and he would do the vocals. Then we met Gobbe, I already knew Filip from school – me and him were playing in a band called Eviscerated, Gabbe joined Eviscerated, and after that we decided to start Antichrist. This was probably 2007. In 2008, we recorded Crushing Metal Tape and in 2009 we released it.
This was around the time of the first Muskelrock. I don't think we sold anything 'til Muskelrock. We had it recorded but were like, "What will we do with it now?"
Sven: Also, we in Eviscerated had recorded some material back in 2007 as well that never was released due to some problems with the recording and shit and this led to the band collapsing. Blood Harvest was gonna release it but they didn't like the down-tuned guitars/production, even though it was supposed to sound like that. This all lead to the death of Eviscerated, so we concentrated on Antichrist instead. Weirdly, though, Rodrigo at Blood Harvest released the first Antichrist tape on Zombie Ritual Tapes. We also sent it to the Hellish Crossfire guys and they sent it to their friend Melle, who has this little label called Home Taping Cruelties and he said he wanted to release it as well. He knew Steffen from High Rollers, who eventually signed us.
Gabbe: He [Melle] really helped us a lot, he is very dedicated.
Sven: He also wants to release this lost Eviscerated demo too, which is probably something we should do anyway.

Was the popularity of the demo the reason you recorded the second demo, Put To Death?
Yeah, kinda. At the first gig when we were selling the demos, we had some new songs. People hadn't even heard the songs from the first demo and yet we were playing stuff from the second demo. No one had heard of us but we had two demos out, haha.

But they old sold out, right, with two pressings of each?
Sven: Yeah, there's two pressing of each. [This leads to much debate between the three band members, to which an answer is not known how many pressings of each demo] Basically, we don't really know how many there is, of each edition, etc.

How was Raging Death festival?
It was okay. It was cold. We slept in a fucking basement with cockroaches, piss on the mattresses, sperm on the mattresses, haha, shit everywhere. It was really fucking disgusting, haha. It was so cold and everyone got sick.
Anton: The day after, when Morbid Insulter arrived to the basement, I had pissed in, like, a paper bag and there was piss everywhere.
Sven: There was beer everywhere too, we were drinking like hell.
Anton: They were just like "Oh fuck". They couldn't sleep there because of us.
Sven: It was truly disgusting before we got there anyway.

Who did the drawings on the demo covers, inlays, shirts, etc?
His name is David Herrerías, he's from Mexico but lives in Gothenburg. He's an insane guy but a great artist.

Let's talk about the record then. How was the recording of it?
The production is "the way it is". We had a lot of problems with the technology in the studio, ha.
Anton: Killing technology!
Sven: I don't know how it got to sound how it does, but we got to a point where we had to decide on the sound cause we had too many sounds in mind.

Nah, it sounds great. Did you have an album in mind that you wanted the sound to relate to?
I think the problem was that we had so many albums in mind.

What albums?
Every thrash metal album? Haha.
Gabbe: Stuff like Beyond The Gates and Kill 'Em All.
Sven: Also Ride The Lightning. At first, we wanted that kind of production – really fucking dark and heavy. But then, we started leaning towards this really weird Beyond The Gates production. I think we are really happy with the sound now.
Gabbe: We used some really weird stuff when recording. We used my Soviet amp, it has a special sound.
Sven: For this recording it was the first time we were able to do exactly what we wanted. Even if we had problems, the demos were way more low-budget.
Gabbe: When we were recording the first demo we just took the first sound we got, we didn't have a clue. We just recorded it in our rehearsal place, a very small basement at a friend's apartment.

Let's talk about the cover art of Forbidden World. It's handpainted, right?
Yeah, no stupid computers.
Sven: A friend of ours, Chris, who is guitarist of Eviscerated, painted it. It is huge, like 1.5 metres wide. An oil painting probably? So if you look at the vinyl you can probably see some brushstrokes.
Gabbe: I saw on the internet, when the artwork was released, that some people we like, "It's a shame, they must've used a computer", or something, ha ha.

Was it inspired by anything in particular?
Movies and other covers, I guess.
Gabbe: We wanted it to look like a cheap 80s cover.
Sven: Like a lot of stuff on that Mausoleum label.
Anton: Meat Loaf!

What about the logo change?
Sven: We had a friend make us a logo that we thought would look cool in 3D, cos we knew that hand would be grabbing the logo. I think we'll have a handpainted logo on every album. Maybe they'll look the same, maybe they'll be different.

What about Live Evil festival?
It is gonna be great, we can't wait.
Sven: Everyone who went last year said it was a great fucking festival, a lot of fun.
Anton: Most of the bands are from Norway or Sweden and we all pretty much know each other.
Sven: Yeah, so it's gonna be like big family, haha. We don't really intend to sleep, so some shit is gonna happen!

It will be killer, for sure. I like the website, by the way.
Informative and simple. Anton made it.
Anton: I couldn't do better, so… Haha.

So, how come no MySpace?
You get spam all the time, it's really difficult to actually do something on there, and everyone is trying to be friends with everyone and people are saying shit like, "wish you a rocking weekend", etc. It's lame.
Anton: The sound quality is terrible too. Worse than YouTube.

Have you started writing any new material yet?
We are writing some stuff yeah, maybe for an EP. We are talking about doing some mini-compilation, I guess. We haven't really spoken to everyone yet, but maybe with the Death Storm dudes.

So what about your other bands then?
Gabbe: For a pretty long period of time now we have been busy with Antichrist, but maybe if we have time we will see.
Anton: It takes time to record a demo with a side project, you know.

You got a tour lined up?
We want to, of course.
Sven: We may just buy a bus and book our own tour. Some friends of ours are in a grind band and they go away for weeks, months on end, booking their own shows. We want to play live, a lot.
Gabbe: That's the main reason we have a band, we love to play live.
Sven: It's always a blast! Free beer? Hell yeah.

Antichrist's Forbidden World is out Friday on vinyl and CD from High Rollers Records. It is easily my album of the year so far, so go buy it and come see them play at Live Evil the weekend after next or perish in flames. The choice is a simple one.

Don't forget the pre-show too at our own Old Blue Last next Friday. It is going to be 1986 in there.

Friday 7 October 2011

A Fist in the Face of God presents... Sounds From The Compound, Vol. III

It has been a slight rotation of the moon since I last spilled more ancient blood on the altar of metal, but guess what? I have another mix—this time of a more mixed variety, with metal from every decade since the 60s, except for the 90s—courtesy of Tom Swine of Bristol black speed metal trio—he calls it "grinding pain metal' or 'tough street metal"—Salute. That's a picture of him getting down and dirty for the never-to-be-released-even-on-DVD remake of Cobra. Words from the man after I shut the fuck up.
So I guess the diehard posse are probably familiar with almost every track on this new mix but that's not the point RIGHT!!!
This is a mix full of the real deal, stuff I love to listen to in the Salute compound whilst smashing beers and writing riffs/looking at vinyl!

Black Magic and Bunker are on there for all who are going to LIVE EVIL ROUND 2! See you in hell...

Alright, ready? Let it loose!
1. Savage (England) "Let it Loose" (1983)
2. Oz (Finland) "Free Me, Leave Me" (1983)
3. Death (USA) "You're a Prisoner" (1974)
4. Widow (England) "Devil's Disciple" (1984)
5. Black Magic (Norway) "The Ritual/Night of Mayhem" (2010)
6. Warfare (England) "Dance of the Dead" (1984)
7. Bunker 66 (Italy) "Blasphemous Ignorance" (2010)
8. Hell Darkness (Israel) "Heartfelt" (2009)
9. Arson Anthem (USA) "Crippled Life" (2010)
10. Can (Germany) "Sing Swan Song" (1972)
11. Flower Travellin' Band (Japan) "Kamikaze" (1972)
12. Leaf Hound (England) "Stagnant Pool" (1971)
13. Steppenwolf (Canada/USA) "The Ostrich" (1968)
14. Sam Gopal (England) "Grass" (1969)
15. Black Sabbath (England) "Falling Off the Edge of the World" (1981)
Sounds From The Compound, Vol. I
Sounds From The Compound, Vol. II