Interview with Agamoth from Abgott

UK black metal band Abgott played at the Hammerfest 2010 and recently played at the Deathfest 2010 (that featured bands such as Brujeria, Immolation and Singapore’s very own Wormrot). Clarence recently got the chance to talk to Agamoth, vocalist and guitarist of Abgott.

Hi Agamoth, thank you for taking the time off for this email interview.

I am so sorry it took so long, but I am busy recording music with my other project “Headspin” (thrash metal from Norway, it is formed by Obsidian C. on guitar, Wizzak on bass and Vyl on drums from Keep of Kalessin and me as singer) and working on releases and sick sounds magazine (magazine for extreme metal guitarist, bassist and drummers)

First and foremost, could you give us a brief introduction on Abgott?

Sure, Abgott started in 1997 in Italy, but the project wasn’t working there so after recording a demo few splits and a debut album, I moved to London, in 2001, and here is where I found far more fortune, so I released 3 albums “Fizala”, “Artefact of Madness” and “Godfather in Black”, alongside with several compilations and lots of tours.

Abgott was previously based in Italy, but the band is now based in London. Were there any reasons for the change in location?

Well I wasn’t happy with the Italian scene and the over complicated difficulties I had to face even for doing a small show, without considering the high expensive prices to pay to play and all the terrible things promoters do put you through everytime I was trying to achieve something. Plus honestly Italy hasn’t got a scene at all, I saw bands coming and going in less than a week. It was a trend situation down there and I cannot stand people following trends. Metal is a way of living not a trend!!!!

London has far more metal attitude then any other country on this planet! Plus I grow up with NWOBHM, so of course I wanted to be part of it and live it and just be in it!

Agamoth – Abgott

What was the scene like in Italy in the 90s when you first formed Abgott? Was it hard to find a decent metal label over there?

As I said it was really horrible, and still it is! Metal labels in Italy? Hahaha is like trying to find an oasis in the Sahara… Hahahaha sorry, but Italy is considered the third world of metal music.

Let’s talk a bit about the band’s lyrical contents. With song titles like “Horror” and “Sentenced to Suffer” on the album “Godfather in Black”, where do you draw your inspirations from?

Well lyrically I’ve changed subject every album I did record, with the first album I was more into the traditional vein of black metal, so lyrics were around the mith of Vlad the impaler the countess of bathory the ancient gods, the persistent shadow of death. Then with Fizala, I released a concept album on the mith of chthulu and its pantheon from the point of view of Aleister Crowley… So the whole album is a musical translation of the necronomicon. With the Artefact of Madness I explicitly spoke of inner sickness, sexual distortion, mental issues and the destructive power of human beings. With Godfather in Black instead I concentrated on the subject of mafia, not in metal way, but in a proper lived way, obviously from the point of view of the killer not the victim. The inspiration came from the over abused term of black metal mafia, sorry they don’t even know what mafia is! Tracks like horror are inspired by the Italian band goblin, they used to play all the sound tracks of my favourite horror movies, so I wanted to pay tribute to them, with the track sentenced to suffer I point out to one of my ex that has been the most utter wicked person ever and really got on my nerves, so I sentenced her to be herself for ever, cause that way she will suffer forever hahahahaha!

Abgott played at the Bloodstock Open Air Festival this year. How the reception and what was the experience like?

Well it was amazing our first official UK festival a proper real to the core metal fest, I met Mille Petrozza /Kreator, one of my heroes… It was fantastic to be part of that! We had 2000 crazy people in front of our stage (it was the 3rd stage, quite small but really metal) and we managed to keep them there while Blind Guardian was playing main stage… So I was really happy of the achievement. That has been an experience hard to beat.

I happened to come across a video of the band playing an acoustic set on Bloodstock as well, was it the band’s idea or was it yours?

Hahahah noooooo that was Jeagermeister idea a very funny set, but well received and very popular after few mistakes from Abgott side hahahahaha, it was good fun and I loved it!

I recently had a listen to “Godfather in Black” and realized that it has a much cleaner and some thrash influenced riffs compared to “Artefact of Madness”, which I personally thought is a step up for the band. Anything that we can expect for the follow up to “Godfather in Black”?

Yes I wanted a more clear record for Abgott, not the usual messy black metal album, where u cannot hear the solos or the intricate part performed, that has taken ages to learn. So I stepped back to the roots of metal and recorded Godfather in Black as clean, as loud and as evil as I could. Highlighting all the guitar work bass vocals and drums madness. Next I don’t know it is too early to figure out what’s next, as we are right now still busy promoting godfather, but yes we started already composing for the following album….

What’s the plan for Abgott in 2010? Any plans of touring Asia?

Abgott 2010 is based on live shows as many as possible…we are doing any UK metal festival we got booked till next September, plus we planning 2 tours in UK and EU and eventually in USA, as we are releasing artefact and godfather under license with blood eagle records from Chicago, owned by Michael Eisenhower from Evil Incarnate. Asia is my personal dream, but unless we find a promoter ready to support us, it won’t be easy to achieve it! Though I am sure I will come along in Singapore as tourist next year, I think your country is amazing!

Any parting words for metal fans in Singapore?

Believe in the dream, if you feel the buzz for metal and you feel you want to live it and stand and support it, then don’t anything stop you going for it! Live the dream and work hard to realize it, because dreams do come true if you want them band enough!

Thank you once again for taking time off to do this email interview with us. The crew from Heavy Metal Tribune would like to wish you and the band success in the upcoming tour!

Hail to thee all brothers total support and endless respect to you all

Abgott on MySpace
Official website

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Clarence Chong

Views from the Pit: Black Revelations 2010

It’s often difficult to write reviews for gigs where there are bands that are perhaps not up to par with the rest of the lineup, but fortunately this one is going to be easy for me.

Black Revelations 2010 was held yesterday at Home Club, organized by Trippy Factory, a gig organizer for indie and metal music.

The crew was there around 3.30pm, had a nice little chat with people from the Thai black metal band Dei Tetra and subsequently headed down for a round of coffee and BAK CHOR MEE! (Which they found pretty good!)

At 6:30pm, doors were finally open and the first band was up, after a 1 hour delay. But it was all worth it as opener Hallow were all prepared to rock the house. Playing a style of hard rock/heavy metal, they were just a taste of what was to come after them. I particular liked how the vocalist utilized a harmonizer to create harmonizing for his vocals at certain parts of the song, though it provided somewhat of a comical relief when he forgot to turn it off when talking to the crowd (which definitely wasn’t a bad thing!). One thing that I noticed though was how much gain there was on the guitarist’s tone while on rhythm and it made their songs pretty hard to follow (since I’m pretty much a guitar person), though the solos were extremely clear and addictive!

Evil Singing Pandas were up after Hallow, featuring gig organizer Remy. ESP got me especially curious after the first few songs that I heard from them, their Year of the Metal Tiger MCD (which is unfortunately not for sale according to Remy, for the physical edition). They played music in the vein of old school rock and heavy metal, including a cover from Led Zeppelin. I loved how Remy moved to the music he was playing, displaying his enthusiasm and his passion throughout his set. The drummer also showed his versatility through fusing Bossanova beats into one of the songs. They ended their set with another (instrumental) cover from viking/death metal band, Mithotyn. To the blank faces when Remy announced that it was going to be a cover from Mithotyn, Remy says, “well, screw you very much!”

Right after ESP, G.O.D. was up. Having been in existence for around 5 years, G.O.D. definitely had the charisma to pull off a good show. This was when the first signs of life among the crowd became apparent, with people starting to move to the front of the stage as the band was setting up. With the first note struck, heads started banging and hair started flying all over the place. Have to say that I was impressed with vocalist and guitarist Calvin’s vocals, who’s growls and shrieks stayed very constant throughout the set.

At the end of G.O.D.’s set, we spied a silver man going up on stage, who turned out to be axe-wielder for Deus ex Machina, Ryan. With Mithun not in Singapore, they had a session vocalist to stand in. Ryan’s stage (or off-stage?) antics certainly raised many eyebrows (or perhaps I just haven’t been to enough DEM gigs). Halfway through the set, he asked the audience in front of him to “siam”, leaving us to wonder what was going on. He then proceeded to jump into the audience and pretty much stayed there for most of the set. Though his constantly unpredictably swinging headstock certainly posed a threat to the audiences’ faces, the crowd certainly enjoyed what they saw.

Finally, Thai black metal band Dei Tetra took the stage. I have to say the band looks totally different on-stage with their corpse paint and off-stage. Emperor Viperon and King Aboroth had blood constantly spewing out of their mouths throughout their set, while vocalist Countess Asithara charms the audience with her shrieky vocals and headbanging, and her reminder for the crowd that “if your heads are still on your shoulders, I want you to all headbang till they are not on your shoulders anymore!” Perhaps the highest point of their set was their cover of One by One, when King Aboroth and Countess Asithara switched roles, him taking over vocals and her taking over bass (which definitely reminded me of ChthoniC’s Doris!). It was overheard that this song is a special one, just for the crowd at Singapore!

Rudra took the stage next. Starting with the crowd favourite, Aryaputra, was definitely a right choice as the instant the first note was struck, heads once again started banging. They played a selection of songs throughout their discography, including an as-of-yet titled track from their upcoming album, Brahmavidya: Immortal I. When it was drawing to a close frontman Kathir asked the soundman if they had time for more than 1 last song. The exchange was hilarious and provided much entertainment to the crowd:

Kathir: “Soundman, how many songs do we have left to play?”
Soundman shows a single finger, showing that they only had time for 1 last song.
Kathir to soundman: “Are you sure we only have 1 song left?”
Soundman nods his head.
Kathir to soundman: “Can we negotiate?”
Soundman shakes his head.

Kathir bargains anyway, asking for 3 more songs with the soundman initially insisting that they could play 2 songs at max, but finally gave in for them to play 3 last songs. The highlight was probably the last track, where Kathir gave the crowd a choice between The Pathless Path to the Knowable Unknown or Aham Brahmasmi (to which the crowd picked Pathless Path, of course!).

Lastly, we had death metal band Absence of the Sacred take the stage. Initially it was a shitty turnout since it was already getting late and the crowds went out after Rudra’s set. But when they launched into their first song, Era of the Apostate, crowds started pouring in from the outside. Let’s face it, their set wasn’t exactly excellent though the musicians on stage were definitely good. Somehow frontman Mike almost always faces technical problems for the gigs that I attend (the last time it was at the Soundcrusher gig at House of Rock). Towards the end of their second song and halfway through their third song, his guitar suddenly went off. However, the crowd response was extremely supportive, headbanging and throwing horns throughout to show their support. I have to say though, I preferred it when the vocals on the track which he had to only do vocals when the guitar was down. They played 2 new songs and also threw in a cover which the crowd thoroughly enjoyed.

Overall this gig has been a pleasant experience, one of the better ones at a nice and decent pub venue. Special thanks to Dei Tetra who were extremely nice people and for the nice chat and complimentary autographed copies of the El Fuego EP to the crew.

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Interview with Mike Priest (Absence of the Sacred, Hell’s Labyrinth)

Known to most in the Singapore metal community as the frontman of death metal band Absence of the Sacred, Mike Priest is also the owner of metal concept store Hell’s Labyrinth and a designer. In this interview, he talks to us about his band’s music and issues and views as a designer and an owner of a metal record store in Singapore.

Hi Mike, thank you for granting us this opportunity to conduct the interview with you. Without further ado, let’s start with the interview. Give us a brief introduction of yourself.

I’m Mike and I currently co-own Hell’s Labyrinth (Metal Record Store and Design Studio) in Singapore. I do vocals/guitars for ABSENCE OF THE SACRED as well.

Hell’s Labyrinth

As a metal record store owner, what are some of the difficulties that you have encountered?

I started the store not because of financial gain (I still have yet to garner back my total capital), but more of interest and passion in the music. I have encountered slanderers and backstabbers and people who just want to hop in the bandwagon and get some of the ‘thunder’ associated with having a metal record store. You generally have to deal with some below-the-belt politics (a.k.a. nonsense) and unwanted attention.

How did the idea of being the owner of a metal record store owner come about?

I wanted to make a centre for real Metallers to congregate, exchange information, promote their shows and purchase what they want; a place to promote the Metal culture exclusively and incite unity amongst musicians and fans. It has succeeded to some level; however there are those who come in with an arrogant perspective and spoil things for everyone.

Hell’s Labyrinth recently started dealing in the guitar business, bringing in Radix guitars. What was it that made you decide to start dealing with guitars, and why Radix guitars over the other more notable brands in the metal genre (e.g. Jackson, Ibanez)?

We are just experimenting with the idea. We aren’t going to be a full-blown guitar shop as there are many saturating the market at the moment. Our guitar technician, Morgan, will be handling all the guitar sales. It was more of his idea than ours. I just gave the go-ahead for him to start up doing sales of guitars in the store. There will be pedals and strings sold in the store soon as well.

You are also one of the founders of the band, Absence of the Sacred. The first album, Atrocities that Birthed Abominations featured a pretty raw sound to it, while the sophomore effort, Era of the Apostate had a more polished sound, both in terms of musicality and production quality. Was that a natural transition or was it an intentional move?

I am the sole founder of Absence Of The Sacred. I formed it and wrote all the music and lyrics right from the start of the band until now. It’s all in the album credits. Hans (drums/keys) was the first member to join Absence Of The Sacred, thus by default, the co-founder. He did contribute good ideas and did great work during his time in A.O.T.S. and there is no doubt about that.

‘Atrocities…’ was our first album and we were not as experienced as we could have been at that time to record a full-length album. It was definitely a less-polished album and raw in many aspects compared to ‘Era…’ but that gives it that ‘first album’ charm and quality to it. ‘Era…’ was more polished due to our maturity as a band and that we had Mike Kalember step in to contribute to producing the audio quality of the album. Musically, most of the songs from ‘Era…’ were written before ‘Atrocities…’ was written. Only the self-titled track and ‘These Hollow Graves’ were written after ‘Atrocities…’ to complete ‘Era…’ as a full-length album.

What can fans of Absence of the Sacred expect from the upcoming album, Come Hither O Herald of Death?

They can expect a more technical, progressive and brutal elements in this album. This is our best work to date, so expect nothing less.

We notice that there are a number of prominent international musicians featured on the upcoming album, with the most notable being Kevin Talley (DAATH, ex-Dying Fetus, ex-Chimaira) on drums. How did that come about?

I want this album to be the best that we’ve ever done, so we needed to kick everything up a notch. I contacted Kevin Talley as I enjoy the albums he did with DAATH, DYING FETUS and MISERY INDEX. He heard some samples and agreed to play on our album for a nominal fee. His work is spectacular on this album, to say the least. He really brings the album forward with unbelievable tightness in his playing. CJ Kao (CHTHONIC), Rigel Walshe (DAWN OF AZAZEL) and Byron (SPEARHEAD) all did great on their guest spots, lending their skills to give this album some added flavour. They are competent and talented musicians and I’m open-minded to what they could do with some of our material, and I haven’t been disappointed so far.

With a new band logo, does it represent a new direction that the band is heading towards?

We needed a change, and it does represent what our direction is heading towards. It is a rebirth of the band with a new concept and matured musicality.

You have performed overseas with Absence of the Sacred and Impiety, what is the crowd like overseas compared to Singapore?

It really depends on where you play around the globe. For Absence Of The Sacred, the crowd in Thailand is amazing and wild as hell. We played in Chiang Mai and in Bangkok, and both areas were not disappointing at all! With Impiety, we had venues sold out and packed to see us play, places in France and Italy and the UK. Polish crowds were really violent and crazy, Italians were headbanging like crazy, Germans were screaming and lifting their beers, etc. The response was great generally. There are some venues with a shit crowd like in Holland and Sweden, but that’s normal when you tour. You can’t get a crowd every single day of the week especially when you perform on a Monday or Tuesday, or when the promoter does not do his job.

As a metal store owner and a musician, what is your take on music downloading? Seeing that the internet acts as a two-sided blade, being a tool that spreads words of new bands but also being one for people to acquire music illegally, is it really detrimental to the music industry?

Downloading music illegally is fine if you just want to check out the album if it is worthwhile to be purchased. If you dislike the music, delete it. If you like it, buy it. It is just a simple act of courtesy to the bands who work hard to get their music out. There are many people who just download without any responsibility and that does cost the music industry. Generally real music fans will buy the albums of their favourite bands regardless of whether they have already downloaded the music or not. The rest are just casual listeners who wouldn’t even buy the album in the first place because it is ‘too expensive’ for their wallet or they are just not into it as much as others think they are.

We understand that you are also a graphic designer, with part of your portfolio being the album art and design of Rudra’s Brahmavidya: Transcendental I and Draconis Infernum’s Death in my Veins. How did the idea of being a designer for bands’ albums come about?

I wanted to give something back to the Metal community, that’s why I charge inexpensively for quality graphic design for Metal bands. To sum it up: Somebody had to do it, why not me.

What is the thought process you go through when designing album art for a band? Are you very restricted by bands’ requests and requirements?

I will have to listen to the music and discuss the concept and theme of the band and the release. These are key factors to match the music with the artwork. I am only restricted by bands who demand unrealistic expectations with a really tiny budget. My hard work and time gets poured into designing the artwork and I do this besides managing the store and my band. I do value my time, and I do not entertain bombastic requests with a ridiculous budget.

Any parting words for aspiring bands and designers out there?

You should do what you love, and you should do it well.

On behalf of Heavy Metal Tribune, thank you once again for the interview. We’ll see you at the upcoming Black Revelations gig!

Absence of the Sacred will be playing at the Black Revelations 2010 gig next Saturday (17th April 2010) along with Dei Tetra and Rudra. Their album, Come Hither O Herald Of Death will be released this year.

Absence of the Sacred on MySpace and Facebook.

Current merchandise/releases:
Deadening the Dispirited (2005)
Atrocities that Birthed Abominations (2006)
Promo 2007 (EP)
Era of the Apostate (2008)

Hell’s Labyrinth is located at:
Peninsula Shopping Centre
3 Coleman Street
Hell’s Labyrinth on MySpace and Facebook.

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Album Review: Dei Tetra – In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas

Dei Tetra [THAILAND]
In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas
Black metal

In Nomine Dei Nostri Satanas is Thai black metal band Dei Tetra’s first demo, released in 2009.

The 2 tracks on this demo that clocks at under 6 minutes encompass the basis of Dei Tetra’s music – raw, fast and aggressive black metal.

The music is unrelenting, hardly allowing the listener for a break throughout the 5 and a half minute of onslaught. Countess Asithara adds a unique touch to the music with her high pitched, shrieky vocals (who said females can’t front black metal bands?), which definitely makes Dei Tetra’s music much more memorable.

Overall, the music is enjoyable, though on the first track, Morph & Manifest, the guitars tend to get pretty messy halfway through the song. Production quality of the album is very raw, just like how a black metal record is supposed to be.

Judging from the quality of the output as the band’s debut release, Dei Tetra is definitely a band to look out for. Recommended for fans of old school black metal bands like Satanic Warmaster and Sargeist.

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Hong Rui

Views from the Pit: Misery Index

America’s leading death metal/grindcore band “Misery Index” was here in Singapore for its South-East Asia Touring on 9 April 2010 @ Substation. Our editor, Clarence, had the extreme privilege to catch their performance live for the first time.

The editor reached the venue around 6.30 pm, where the crowd was being greeted by the Cynical Sounds Crew. It was only around 8pm when the crowd was allowed to start entering the venue. The gig was kicked off by the opening band, Singapore’s very own death metal veteran Itnos, a very kick ass & tight set they performed showcasing some of their new original from their upcoming EP. They also covered songs from death metal legends Death and Carcass.

After a half an hour set by Itnos comes the headlining band Misery Index. The crowd was greeted by guitarist and vocalist “Mark Kloeppel”, although it’s a pity I didn’t get manage to get a hold of their set list for the night.

The band managed to played songs from albums like Retaliate, Discordia and Traitors. One of the definite highlight from the gig, personally will be the new song from their upcoming new album, Heirs To Thievery which Mark claimed to be one of the fastest song ever written by the band.

Another highlight of the gig was definitely the encore when the crowd turned crazy with the last two songs being played by the band, with all the headbanging and circle pits that were formed.

And lastly the editor managed to congratulate all of the Misery Index members for their successful show in Singapore and also had one of the albums autographed as well. The editor would also like to personally thank Zul of Cynical Sounds for organizing such as awesome show for that night!

The editor with guitarist Sparky Voyles

©2010 Heavy Metal Tribune | Clarence

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