Tuesday, April 17, 2007

D'enouement - One last triumph

Albuquerque could not have been a better send-off. There were almost 200 in attendance, on a Monday night no less, and it was one of the best audiences of the tour. There is no greater sense of validation than to play your music and have an entire room headbanging in unison. The rest of the show was excellent as well, with each band garnering cheers and horns held high. Goatwhore laid down a massive set, which was punctuated by the requisite end of the tour prank. Blake, Sanguine, The Carcass, and I entombed Ben in silly string on Goatwhore's last song. The crowd loved it, and the ever-professional Ben didn't miss a beat and kept on screaming while looking like the bride of Swamp Thing (NOTE: if you were at this show and have pictures, please contact us). He is a wily bastard, though, and apparently got wind of our plot beforehand. After our set he managed to break into our van, thanks in part to us foolishly leaving a window cracked, and spent half an hour rifling through our gear looking for the string cans. When he could not find them, he took our guitars and hid them in his trailer instead. Sanguine and I realized this at the end of the night when we noticed the large unoccupied space in the back of our van. We didn't panic, but we walked in and out of the club for a few minutes in confusion while trying to locate the missing cases. Ben finally came laughing and admonishing us that we shouldn't leave our windows open. Lesson learned - Ben Goatwhore is not someone with whom to mess. It was worth it any case.

1349's set was the final, fatal blow that signalled the end of the tour like a massive black flag. They were clearly enjoying the response, as Ravn was more outgoing with the audience than usual and the entire unit played especially hard. They also made a good show of ignoring the gay beefcake photos that Chris taped to their monitors. Averse Sefira and Nachtmystium were out in force in the pit and occasionally on the heads and shoulders of the crowd. And then it was over. The Hellfire Revival Tour (as I've chosen to call it) is now at a close, and we are sad to see it go. We couldn't have asked for a better maiden voyage of the US - a proper Black Metal tour, and a successful one at that. Everyone involved agrees that we couldn't have had a better lineup in terms of bands and the people behind them. We will be fortunate to have a strong dynamic like this again, though we will make a point of playing with all three bands whenever a new opportunity arises.

So for now we bid farewell to the Numbers, the Whores, and the Mysties, and in the meantime we will be grateful for the experience and the new alliances. As for this blog, it will remain intact with new entries attached to events of interest surrounding Averse Sefira. Keep watching.

Thanks to everyone who attended the shows and made this tour such a triumph. We will meet again.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Finale- the pain of disengagement

Tempe was a good show. There were plenty of people, as well as friends with exciting names like Jenocide, Nuclear Blaash, and The Fatherland Almighty. We sounded and played much better than the previous couple of nights thanks in part to an intelligible stage sound, and I've decided that Californians are the only ones who don't understand that concept. We spent time afterwards with aforementioned comrades, as well as many gracious attendees who offered praise and congratulations. Tempe seems to be a friendly place, and we look forward to returning again.

The pangs of the impending end of the tour seem to be setting in amongst us all, as there was even more camaraderie between the bands than usual (or "bro-mance" as Nathan Goatwhore puts it). There will be madness tonight for certain, regardless of how the show itself goes. We had just enough time to forge bonds and friendships, and it makes our separation more poignant. Fortunately, we are assured to see 1349 again as we are label mates and very interested in further outings together, and Nachtmystium and Goatwhore are active as well so I do not doubt that our paths will cross again. Come to think of it, I don't think we could avoid playing more shows with Goatwhore if we tried. They are literally on every tour there is at the moment.

More on Tempe- it was another night that belonged to Goatwhore. Ben and Sammy were in rare form, and they admonished the crowd with vitriolic statements about the old ways of metal and the failings of the new bands and their fans. Damn right. They pummelled the crowd with their onslaught and left everyone breathless and tired. The downside was that 1349's subsequent performance hemorhaged attendees until a rather sparse group of fans remained. It was no fault of the band, and being that it was a Sunday night people likely needed to get home for work the next day, but how often does a town get a show from a good Norwegian Black Metal band? Please refer to my previous entry about Americans being slaves for more on this topic.

We are still a few hours away from Albuquerque. I expect there will be much to report tomorrow. The claws of the dreaded "Road AIDS" are digging into me rather hard at the moment. I would very much like to stop coughing up radioactive green phlegm.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The meditation of water

My divinations regarding Corona served me well, as it was indeed a better night for us than L.A. The sound on stage was still lousy, and we could not hear our vocals at all. What does a sound man think it means when we say, "More vocals in the monitor," three times? In any case, the audience was great; it is always a good sign when people call out song titles they want to hear. Afterwards, we were met by our friends Nadja and Heather who had recently defected from Texas to California. It had been a while, and we ended up spending the rest of the show talking outside, though a persistent and growing smell of death in the parking lot forced us to relocate to the confines of our van. It was a nice change of pace, however, with friendly and relaxed conversation replacing a noisy and crowded room.

This morning- we awoke in Palm Springs after fleeing the exterior of the LA sprawl and went to a truck stop to clean up. Showers actually hold a great deal of ritual significance for me, as they are meditative and allow me to readily acheive the alpha state. The hot water rushing over the top of my head creates a sense of doors opening in my mind, and my creative thinking is often at its peak in these moments. Many elements featured in our music and visuals were born in this sanctum, the place of white noise and warmth. The reason I discuss this here is because many have asked us what methods or rituals we use in the creation of our music. There are many, of course, but I find this to be the most direct and immediate method, one that anyone can easily engage. It is surprisingly easy to begin, and even small measures may yield large results. Find something that allows you to roam and banish the left side of your mind for a moment, something that distracts just enough that you unwittingly find yourself keenly focused. You may be surprised at the results.

Two shows left and we are not anxious to see it end. It feels like we needed more, perhaps an additional week or so. Then again, if all goes according to plan we may find ourselves on the road far more than we ever expected or even wanted. Bring forth that day, we are ready.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hollywood Babylon

Los Angeles comes at you fast. It is ground zero for the industry side of American heavy metal, and it is also a place of insular, self congratulating pretentiousness mixed with an utter lack of shame and a desperate craving for debauchery. Even if you are not using drugs, the sheer volume of people and excess will make it seem so. Motley Crue were not exaggerating.

We started the day early, having driven through eye-wreckingly bright Las Vegas and the subsequent wastes of Death Valley the night before. Manson country. Cool. Earlier, we stopped about 45 miles before Las Vegas in the blackness of the unlit interstate and marvelled at the stars covering the vault of the sky. Then Sanguine pointed southward towards the orange glow on the horizon and referred to it as the Mordor-like lights of Vegas. It was fitting indeed. Once we reunited with Goatwhore in Barstow, we then followed them out through Pasadena to visit the Moser Custom Shop. Neal Moser and his wife Earleen cordially received us, and Neal showed us around his workshop and let us ogle the several body blanks he had prepared for production. It wasn't too long before we found ourselves sitting down with Earleen to set up an endorsement for new guitars. We were excited as we had been interested in Mosers for some time and it is also our first proper endorsement ever. Sanguine left with a vicious-looking red and black Bastard V, and I put in an order for an Arachnid bass that will arrive at month's end. L.A. proved to be the land of milk and honey for 1349 and Goatwhore as well, as Sammy Goatwhore came to the evening's show with sharp looking new Coffin Cases and some Framus amplifiers. Archaeon of 1349 went out to the Jackson custom shop and came back with a very nice Jackson V via his artist's discount, and we all stood around congratulating each other and celebrating our spoils of the day.

There was an air of high energy surrounding the show. The Knitting Factory was one block away from Grauman's Chinese Theater and there were throngs of people on the streets. The Carcass and I walked over to look at the theater and I got mistaken for Alexi Laiho (as usual). By the time we had finished milling around there was a long line of black tshirts snaking around the side of the mall. Dozens of people were waiting to see the show, and the word later was that the show had in fact sold out. All the bands were excited at the prospect of a packed house, but Friday the 13th apparently did not wish to let us pass unhindered. When Averse Sefira hit the stage there were several techincal problems including a failure with our intro music, a hideous stage sound, and random things like the stage curtain accidentally being lowered in the middle of a song. By all accounts we did well and the response from the crowd was good, but distractions like that make a set into work and we felt like we could have done much better. It was also maddening to think that Topeka, Kansas, had a superior monitoring system than one at a high-end Los Angeles venue. Past that, the rest of the show was fun, wild and nearly overwhelming in places. There were industry people all over the backstage along with many random and sometimes irritating hangers-on, and we talked to those of interest to us and ignored the rest. Akhenaten of Judas Iscariot made a surprise appearance, and we were glad to see him again. We met a porn starlet named Tera Wray who was eagerly flashing her breasts at everyone and in the interim stopped to tell me that she liked my eyes. Oases of niceties in a desert of iniquity, I suppose. In the meantime Jasmin St. Clair (of Coffin Cases and also of the infamy of having fucked 400 guys in one day on film) got into some kind of altercation with Nathan Goatwhore and ended up slapping him. Things were about to boil over between Goatwhore and the LA contingents but clearer heads finally prevailed, though the twitching in Ben's neck afterwards pointed towards the subverting of considerable anger.

1349 destroyed tonight. They had the audience whipped into a frenzy throughout, and the final bringdown was when they played an encore in true LA fashion. The truth is that they actually forgot to play one song so returned to the stage to peform it, because in point of fact they have been militant about not doing encores. Regardless, it was fitting for the occasion and even I could not resist rushing across the stage and leaping into the crowd to bathe in the chaos.

Three more shows to go. We are in Corona now, I think this one will be a better one for us. I do not know why it seems so, but I have long given up on questioning such things.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Long live the Pandemonium Empire

Denver was not particularly good for us. We were very distracted due to the fact that our roadie left the tour abruptly
and without warning. His only explanation was that he "wasn't having any fun". Touring is not a vacation, and I am endlessly confounded by the indolence I see in some people on the road. We certainly are not the first band to have a crew member abandon a tour, but this is a lesson to us. We will not count on anyone offering to go with us as a favor. From here on, it will be all business wherein we will pay someone for the work and hopefully have less worries. As it stands this is but a small impediment. We will not be stopped. The agenda is all, this is not about fun, and anyone who cannot understand that should get out of our way. A better turn of events came when we ended up staying in 1349's motel room and talking about the nature of Black Metal until 4am. I hate to overstate it, but getting to know this band has been immensely rewarding for us. I think in the end the biggest allure of touring for us is meeting other bands and forging new alliances. We are very fortunate indeed.

Now- heading towards Las Vegas to catch up with Goatwhore. We have an audience with Neal Moser in California tomorrow, so we cannot tarry. The drive through Colorado and Utah was a feast for the eyes, with the snowcapped mountains and painted canyons. Sanguine put it best when he said that America is a pretty country, it is just the people who ruin it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Need I remind you who the headliner is?

We have grown considerably in the course of this tour. 1349 and Goatwhore in particular have been good teachers and we in turn have been willing students. It is rarely a question of being sat down and told how to do something, but rather a holistic exchange of ideas and methods. There are already plans in our cabal to upgrade equipment now that we will have a touring schedule that demands it and the means to acquire the ordinance, and I am particularly pleased with Stormbringer's new tone which I have dubbed the "Seidemann sound" after the man himself. It served me well last night; we sound far more massive than ever before. None of this means we could not fend for ourselves before. On the contrary, we've done just that for a solid decade with notable success. But we would be foolish to ignore the chance to expand on our approach and become more competetive in the process. Also, this tour has given us much to consider in terms of where we are and what we wish to make of ourselves as we go forward. Watching 1349's masterful performance every night is definitely food for thought. Their presence on stage is practiced and effective, as well as convincingly grim (there's that word again, and yes it is appropriate). With just a week left on the road, I am already not looking forward to saying goodbye.

In the heart of the enemy

Kansas is wretched. It is flat, featureless, and worst of all deeply Christian. Topeka was a grudging journey in the interest of not having to drive straight to Denver and lose a payday in the process. However, I am finally learning that when it comes to touring there is no telling how good or bad a show will be, and Topeka proved to be full of surprises. There were only about sixty people but their reaction made it feel like the room was packed. Everyone was up front with fists in the air and remarkably our performance was one of the best of the tour. This is the kind of communion we seek with every audience - message sent, message received. One unexpected consequence was being approached by a rather attractive girl who took my arm and began licking and sucking the spikes on my gauntlet. That was a new one for me, and I was so surprised that I didn't quite know what to do. As she took a particularly sharp spine into her mouth I became alarmed and warned her to be careful. She snapped her head up with a fiery look and pulled me forward by my shirt. "You're the one who needs to be careful," she said with a lacivious snarl. She roughly clasped my head in both hands, pushed her body against me, pressed her forehead to mine and hissed, "Welcome to the Bible Belt, baby." Then she walked away. For all the dogma, self-righteousness, and insane moral standards of this region, they cannot protect their daughters from us. We are the slow acting poison, the enemy within. We achieve victory, one soul at a time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

It takes a tour package to tune a bass amp

I was the unwitting center of attention during the St. Paul soundcheck. Since I can no longer adjust my bass amplifier properly I am utilizing my SansAmp DI box instead of my normal Line 6 stompbox. I never used this device for a live performance before, so I resorted to reading the instruction manual and hooking it up during 1349's sound check. Ravn shot me sneering grins while the band ran through the song. "You have to read those," he jeered. However, once the sound check was over a spontaenous round table occured around me. Nate Goatwhore, Seidemann, and Ravn all poked at the buttons and turned the knobs while I played my bass. There was a lot of "No, no, it needs to be this way," and the like. We ultimately got a good sound that worked surprisingly well for me when we hit the stage that night. Thanks guys.

As for the show itself, St. Paul was a northern inferno. Various friends were in attendance and I was pleased that we turned in a good performance for them. Tonight's highlight was an attendee who began shouting for our song Deathymn two songs into the set. When we initally planned our set list for this tour, The Carcass made a case for having alternates ready, since he was sure somebody would want to hear Deathymn among others. A point in his favor, and we grimly obliged the request last night. It was a fiery version of the song, and the crowd responded in kind, wih lots of Norse hair flying in all directions. It was an excellent time, I hope we return to the area soon.

Today we finally broke our bad habit of tardiness. It is 2pm and we are in Topeka on schedule.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Among Godz

We performed in the presence of a titan last night. Tom G. Fischer (nee Warrior) and his fiance Tammy made a surprise appearance at the show in Mokena last night. Celtic Frost is set to embark on another US tour and Tom was already in the area. At the end of the night I went over to say hello as we had met before, however briefly, in San Antonio a few months back. He was cordial and friendly, but he also radiated an etherial presence that was both fascinating and intimidating. I walked the couple up to our well-guarded backstage area, and at the door the security guard hedged on allowing them in. It was somewhat surreal to hear myself saying, "This is Tom from Celtic Frost, I assure you it's ok!" The guard relented and we proceeded to 1349's room. Before I left the friends to their revelry, I took a moment to tell Tom how I held Monotheist in the highest regard and that his detractors were idiots. He seemed genuinely touched and shook my hand, and I went on my way. In the end, I and my band mates are still fans ourselves. I can't imagine performing in a band such as this if the music was no longer exciting to me. The show itself was good, with the exception of my awful bass sound on stage. Through some still undetermined mishap, all the tuning knobs on my bass amplifier were sheared off and now I cannot adjust the tones to any real degree. I will have to do some emergency surgery on it tonight, though that will once again be rushed as we are late in arriving as before. That needs to stop.

Sunday, April 8, 2007


Running late today. It is five hours to Mokena and we woke up late. Apparently the doors are at 5pm for this show, and as of this writing it is 1:20pm. I hope we make it. We finally escaped the clutches of the snow, so we can now resume driving at unsafe speeds.

One forgotten detail from last post- all the cops in Rouyn Nouranda are hessians. They came to check on the party at the bar that night, and it turns out they had a band of their own. Goatwhore sold them shirts. Goatwhore sells everyone shirts. The next morning we were blasting out of the city and were stopped by a highway patrolman. It was a 50km zone and I was going 100. He asked us our business and we identified the band. After he returned my ID he told us he had a doom/death band as well, though sadly the name escapes me. He let us go without any fuss. Quebec is a utopia.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

When the burn sets in

Cold. Cold, tired, and very fucking sick of cigarette smoke. We played a walk-in ashtray called the Jigsaw here in Parma (which is just a euphemism for Cleveland as far as I can tell). It is stuffy and smelly. Ravn and Sanguine are both suffering from voice strain, and Ravn specifically designated the backstage as no smoking to little avail. Maybe we should have shoved wet rags under the door. A large and malevolent cold front has joined the tour package, and we have been driving in snow since Rouyn Nouranda with no relief in sight. It is nerve-wracking and tedious. It also doesn't help that I didn't really anticipate any of this and did not bring the according gloves and jacket. This tour is teaching me several lessons regrading preparedness. Flashback to Rouyn Nouranda 3 days ago- the show was well-attended by hessian kids of all ages from the local community. They were not too familiar with us but they gamely started pits and chanted at all the right parts. The reaction was worth the long and somewhat treacherous drive. Once Goatwhore hit the stage the audience was at fever pitch, with continuous pit action including several young girls. The only disconcerting part was noticing that nobody stopped moving even when the music stopped. It quickly became clear that cocaine has a large foothold in this town, as there is plenty of oil industry money to fuel it. This was something of an ugly revelation to me. Are there any regions in the world that remain unspoiled by modern excesses? The answer remained no as the night went on. An after party was held at a local pub and while some of us, myself included, caught up on sleep others got rip-roaring drunk and acquired local groupies for foreign relations at the town's 4-star hotel. The van is currently a very cold place to sleep and all of us now have coughs on that account.

Toronto was thermonuclear. We played to about 500 at the Opera House and it seems that we were not forgotten since our last visit. People spilled over the barricades in front of the stage, and there was plenty of wildness out on the floor beyond. This could possibly be the best show of the entire tour, with NYC a close second. We have eight more shows to go, so we could yet be surprised (L.A., we're looking in your direction). We are starting to feel fatigued and compromised. Toronto is usually where we finish in our outings to Canada, so the idea of two more weeks to go has a daunting feel at present. Miss Barbra Fisch hosted us at a local bar for her metal DJ outing, then put us up for the night in her warehouse apartment. I slept while Sanguine and our roadie Dylan stayed up with her to drink wine and watch horror movies. It is always a comfort to have friends who offer safe haven.

Cold. Cold, tired, and ready to leave Parma. The crowd tonight was attentive but muted. My guess is that it is a product of the ennui and malaise that comes with living in Ohio.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Short of the mark

Montreal was a disappointment, especially in light of the high anticipation we had for it. When we started at 7pm, it was to an empty room. The Foufounes is a large club, and everyone who came to the show was still downstairs. About three songs in we accumulated an audience, though they were somewhat withdrawn and static throughout. The other bands got about the same reception. It was very dismaying, given our standing affection for this city. The highlight of the show was seeing our long-time friends from Nefastus Dies and Unquintessence, along with Calamity and Thorn who have supported us for years. Sometimes it only the people we know that make a show worthwhile.

Later- Rouyn Noranda is an eight hour drive into the northern frontierland, so we decided to carvan together for safety and efficiency. We struck out directly after the Montreal show and into the wet and snowy darkness of the Quebec forests. Goatwhore was blasting down the road with no intention of stopping, leaving 1349 to break off to sleep barely two hours after we began. They are currently separated from the rest of the caravan, hopefully all is well. We finally came to rest at a truck stop near the edge of a national park, which people warned was three hours of no gas stations or aid of any kind. The diner here has masterful poutine, and we ate plenty of it before continuing through the land of trees and frozen lakes. The excitement continued as we went on with someone in a minivan wiping out in front of us and coming to rest upside down. Other cars on the road stopped immediately and the man climbed out apparently unharmed. We drove on with increased vigilance.

On Evil

The dog was tied to a post by his leash outside a shopping center. His fur was soaked and he shivered uncontrollably. It was 27F with high winds and wet sticky snow and the dog cast about desperately, looking with a pleading face at people entering and leaving the mall. The look in his eyes was too much to ignore. I walked over to him and untied his leash. He seemed confused and frightened as I coaxed him into the entryway and retied him to a nearby door away from the wind and snow. As I did so, I felt a disgusted rage towards the dog's owner (a shop attendant informed me it was some horrid woman who had gone into the dollar store) but there was little more I could do. Taking the dog with me was not an option, though had I been at home it would have been a given.

The nature of Evil is so poorly understood, particularly in the context of Black Metal and its forebears. The spectators have incredibly misgiven ideas about what makes one Evil and what behavior reflects it. Evil and cruelty are two different things, though they are constantly confused. A violent man is generally not so much Evil as he is angry at whatever pain life has delivered unto him. Being Evil does not mean to be without passion or compassion, but rather to have those qualities and motivations on one's own terms rather than having them mandated by society or the church. Evil means we are masters of our own destiny. Evil is the courage to demand absolute measures to make this world one in which we wish to live. Evil is a rejection of moralism and post-moralism, and an adaption of a mixed code of conduct that may seem outwardly inconsistent but internally coherent. Evil is to choose the dark rather than to accept the light. We can smile, laugh, and even love, and this does not invalidate our nature. We find meaning in dark places and in dark practices. If this was not true then we would not make this music. Our passions show in our art and Evil is the fuel that drives it, the prime motivator.

I reached out in kindness to an animal yesterday, and some would say this contradicts the idea of being Evil. They know nothing. They are not of us.

Nebular Raven's Springtime

Quebec City was a hard drive, as it was almost 10 hours up the road from New York. We drove through the night and then early morning and made it through the border with no problem. It is the small details of touring that make for sometimes surreal and memorable moments. 1349 caught up with us in the immigration office and as each member was cleared to leave they got up and walked out the door, grinning in triumph and blowing kisses to us. I imagine this is the only time the Canadian customs office featured so much laughter. Back on the road, it was snowing and the ground was covered with wet slush which made for more difficult driving in a city that is very old and very hard to navigate. We eventually blundered our way to L'Anti, though Nachtmytium was once again badly lost and barely made it in time to set up the backline equipment. Preparing under that kind of duress is never welcome, but we managed to rise to the occasion and meet the welcoming throng full-throttle. Sanguine is ill and his voice is compromised, but he still made a masterful showing as always.

Afterwards, we went to a local rock bar near our hotel and engaged in some rounds of foosball. Nate Goatwhore challenged me and Ben took great delight in watching me destroy him. He is an amazing provocateur, and his boisterous cries of,"Ohhhhh man! Lookit that shot!" made an already heated match into pandemonium.


Late on updates. There was few opportunities to access the terminal until now. For those who are keeping score:

Bedford, NH - This was a large and somewhat strange place as it was a live venue attached to a strip club attached to what seemed to be a hotel, though nobody who worked at the venue would admit that it was indeed a hotel and 1349 made an unsucessful attempt to book a room for the night. Everyone acted like they didn't know what a full 1/3 of the venue's property was for. Nefarious. The show was once again a success, with all bands turning out strong performances. A highlight of the evening was a reunion with our old comrade Evan Goathammer who had defected to the east from Texas some years before. He was a witness to the infancy of Averse Sefira, and it was gratifying to us that he was able to see how far we had come in the meantime.

New York - BB King's was crushing. Attendance was strong, and the response was fervent. The facility was of course very high-end, and between the light show and expert sound supplied by Chris from 1349 our set was massive and "rock star", which was a nice exception to the relatively clandestine settings we've seen until now. Ross and Bob of Immolation were present among other friends and it was an honor to finally perform a show for them in their city. There was much camaraderie and some depravity in the backstage afterwards. It was a good night.