The unofficial dissertation of Terminatryx

Paul Blom, guitarist/bass player/keyboard ninja and programmer, always had a clear vision for his band Terminatryx – he never doubted his efforts and it has paid off.

I’ve been keeping in contact with Blom for the past two years for an article on the roots of heavy metal in South Africa. Unfortunately, the article got lost in a pile on an Editor’s desk and only made publication in the latter of 2013. Since then, Blom and I have discussed his musical projects, specifically Terminatryx.

In 2002, Blom walked out on a growing pop culture and laid out the foundations on what is a developing alternative scene. His eclectic persona made way for a band that combines science fiction, horror, hard rock and electronic music. This infusion was grand, almost improbable and definitely too far out for a fresh post-millennial South African market. Yet, a minority of alternative fans found solace in Terminatryx’s existence. Despite the messy politics of the music industry, Terminatryx evolved and pushed through. Their fans grew, their performances made news and they are now established figures. Of course, nothing like this happens overnight – it took Terminatryx twelve years of dedicated hustle.

Hustle. This word conjures images of rappers and hip-hop moguls counting money in a dark dingy smoke-filled basement. The truth is most people hustle, and they do it in daylight in public spaces. In other words – they work tremendously hard. Terminatryx have put in the hours too. They have seen many South African bands walk-on and walk-off. They have made many mistakes as a band and learned what works and what should be thrown away. They also know that this is their way of expressing their art. As most individuals find out, being in a creative industry is not easy. I get the idea that most individuals think being in an artistic business is all about building new structures and walls. I disagree. For me, art is about breaking and dissecting everything in order to reassemble new perspectives.

For Blom and fellow band members, that is exactly what happened. Blom took a gamble in the early 90’s to live his heavy metal dream with South Africa’s most influential metal band, Voice Of Destruction (V.O.D). A German label plucked V.O.D from their hometown in South Africa and set-up tours around Europe with like-minded bands such as Katatonia and In The Woods. Soon after, Blom decided to take a detour and began creating art [Terminatryx] by taking everything that he had learned to be everything that he can be.

In any band, communication is pivotal. The relationship between Blom and Terminatryx vocalist, Sonja Ruppersberg, has always been smooth and co-operative. Both their personalities seem to compliment musically – perhaps it has something to do with their ten years and counting of matrimonial bliss.

Personal life aside, Ruppersberg is the face of Terminatryx. In the early years of South Africa’s music scene, women in metal were pushed and nudged out of the way but Ruppersberg stood up and stood out. Her clean vocals contrast her macabre characters. If there is one thing that you can take from this band is that they don’t emulate any specific style. The same goes for Ruppersberg’s vocals – best described as stagnated silk. The lyrics penned by Ruppersberg occupy dark spaces and exude dark emotions. She is a Goth at heart but Terminatryx do well to blend all those influences in and create something original.

Originality in the music business is debatable. If you listen to Terminatryx, you can play a game of ‘spot the influence’ but here is the thing, it’s a mixed bag of indulgent killer metal. Mind you, quality indulgent metal. All of this is evident on the latest offering from the band which is entitled “Shadow”. Throughout the preview of the album, I had to keep reminding myself that this is a South African band. The level of professionalism is outstanding, the production quality is excellent and I fail to see the blurry line between home-grown metal and international metal. It feels like Terminatryx have broken the glass ceiling and joined international standards. A glance at the album’s special guests and album mixing credits can tell you that South Africa’s alternative music veterans played a major role in getting Terminatryx to this level. It’s easy for me to label those credited as ‘alternative music veterans’ but in South Africa, these are the people who roll rocks up mountains so that up-and-coming bands have clear pathways to walk on.

The guitarist of Terminatryx, Patrick Davidson, can be added to the above list of ‘alternative music veterans’. Not only are his musical skills on par since joining Terminatryx in 2008 but so is his passion for all things heavy metal. Davidson is involved with much of what we know as the Cape Town metal scene.

Tangent aside, the crucial addition to Terminatryx is drummer Ronnie Belcher. Belcher has been involved with the band since its core inception and has a number of side-projects that utilise his visual and musical talents.

The last unofficial band member is not a musician. Nor does he work in the sound production department. I liken him to a young Ross Halfin. If you don’t know who that is, I suggest you leave the room. What Dr-Benway has done for Terminatryx is more or less the same of what Derek Riggs did for Iron Maiden. Of course, the difference here is everything is in a smaller budget and scale. Dr-Benway (Thomas Dorman) is a professional photographer that indulges in the macabre, avant-garde and degenerate art. He has contributed his lens to many of Terminatryx’s shoots, concepts and as of late their “Shadow” album artwork. You may have noticed I introduced him as the Riggs of the band. Without his input, I might have given Terminatryx nothing but a passing glance at the record store. I imagine that this may be true with most new listeners. There is something about the manner that Dr-Benway uses to portray Rupperbserg on this album. There is a hint of science fiction marries Greek mythology but there is this ‘otherness’ too. It stands out in a pile of South African albums and it most certainly has sexual characteristics. After all, no matter how hard you try to deny it, sex sells.

The biggest question is will Terminatryx’s “Shadow” sell a good number on the South African market?

In my mind, “Shadow” rates on the high-end of quality. Its opening industrial metal tracks are reminiscent of earlier Terminatryx albums but this time there are encapsulating guitar solos and less prolonged electronic efforts. I’m particularly fond of the title track and its haunting mimics. The whole album seems balanced and the lyrics are very deep creating that tense atmosphere. There are a few embellished riffs and sounds although none of the tracks stand empty.

Terminatryx’s pinnacle coincides with a number of exciting metal events in South Africa. The band will join heavy weights Belphegor, Septic Flesh, Alestorm, Fleshgod Apocalypse and V.O.D at Witchfest in April 2015. Prior to that, I know that Terminatryx has been confirmed for Metal4Africa Winterfest 2014.

Now that’s what I call hustle.

 

 

 

 

Somewhere In Time

Parental advisory ruined my life. So, it’s not as extreme as I make it out to be but anything marked “Explicit” and “Parental Advisory” on an album automatically registered as getting in trouble with my Mom or Dad. My parents were strict with me while growing up, always sneaking a peek into my latest entertainment purchases. Hell broke loose when I was a teen and purchased an Evanescence album. Can you imagine if they saw my Dimmu Borgir collection? Lucky for me, pirated albums didn’t get any fancier than a blank disc in a transparent cover.

If I could turn back time, I would ask my parents to read Full Metal Parenting. Now that is…kvelt! [Kudos Craig and Matt!]

Craig Hayes from Full Metal Parenting, a music journalist and New-Zealand metalhead hopped on board to chat about Iron Maiden.

Source: Wikipedia

If you had to give a guest lecture on Iron Maiden, what would your lesson plan highlights be?

Well, you’ve come to the right place with that question, because I have a great deal of experience in delivering lectures about Iron Maiden. Admittedly, all of those lectures have been entirely unsolicited, and delivered to the disinterested parties who made the mistake of sitting down with me for a cup of tea, but any rant about Iron Maiden that I get involved in always comes back to the point that the band’s early years really define what it means to have a staggering work ethic.

I mean, look at Iron Maiden’s first ten gospels. You’ve got, The Soundhouse Tapes, Iron Maiden, Killers, Maiden Japan, The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Live After Death, Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. All of those are 100%, no-holes-barred, classic metal. BUT, more importantly, Iron Maiden delivered those albums in a scant eight years. There are few bands that could ever claim to have issued such a consistently solid and highly influential series of releases in such a short amount of time. Amen.

Think of those songwriting sessions. I mean, the pressure on the band must have been fucking enormous. And yet, one after another, it was a classic release, filled with timeless tunes, over and over again. That’s a phenomenal achievement. Obviously, some supposed fans might argue that a few of those releases aren’t worthy of canonising; but they’d be wrong. To my ears, each of those releases makes for a perfect snapshot of metal’s progression through the 1980s. From it’s fiery NWOBHM beginnings, through to more sophisticated pomp.

That’s all impressive enough, but then Iron Maiden’s early years have another accomplished element too. Think of all the shows the band played as well. They jetted off for something like eight world tours in as many years, once the band really kicked off. When Di’Anno shuffled off, and the Reverend Dickinson stepped up to the mic, there was a huge increase in the number of dates being played too. Iron Maiden were hugely ambitious, and hungry to spread the word, and if you combine all of Iron Maiden’s live shows with their first eight years of recordings, then that all makes for a formidable and awe-inspiring picture. Name me another band that’s done that? (Well, don’t. I mean, there probably is one. But lets not spoil this sermon with logic.)

Obviously, Iron Maiden paid for all that sustained pressure. The Iron Maiden juggernaut derailed when No Prayer for the Dying turned up in 1990, and we don’t need to talk about what happened with that Bayley fellow turned up; except to say the band deserved to get crucified for the dire albums they produced. But, even so, that doesn’t diminish what the Iron Maiden achieved in those first eight years. That’s where Iron Maiden made their name as a band for the people, because they understood that hype and bluster may be fun, but ultimately it’s meaningless. Straight-up, no bullshit deliverance on stage and on record is what counts, and that’s exactly what you got with Iron Maiden in their first eight years of recording.

2.What Iron Maiden track/artwork/album converted you to a die-hard fan?

I wouldn’t say any single track converted me into a die-fan, although hearing songs like “Revelations”, “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” for the first time pretty much blew my teenage mind. More than anything, I’d say it was the Live After Death album that truly secured my fandom. I remember buying the LP, and just devouring it. The band were honed to a razor’s edge after months of touring, so the songs on the album capture a critical moment in time for the band, and they obviously play a critical part of its attraction too. However, it’s really the entire package that sealed it for me.

Everything about the album was/is amazing. It had great artwork and photos, and it came with this fantastic insert that listed every tiny production detail about the band’s World Slavery Tour too. That insert was just nerd heaven for me. Still is, to be honest. I love that totally geeky side that Iron Maiden brings out in me. Live After Death is easily my favourite live album of all time, and I own multiple copies of it, in multiple formats. I’ve got all of Iron Maiden’s official live albums, and loads of bootlegs too, but none are better than Live After Death.

3. It goes without saying that Derek Riggs is an integral part of Iron Iron Maiden’s development. Which is your favourite art piece and why? Also, do you think Iron Maiden has given Riggs fair credit over the years?

My favourite piece of artwork from Riggs is the Somewhere in Time cover. I don’t know if that’s his best work or not, but I was 15 years old when Somewhere in Time was released, and super obsessed with album artwork in general, so it was the perfect album cover at the perfect time, for me. It was also the first Iron Maiden cover that made me realise how many background hints and tiny referencing details Riggs dropped into his work. Of course, that meant I went back and looked at all of Iron Maiden’s other covers for other hidden treasures, so I’d have to say, in many ways, Somewhere in Time really sealed my love of intricate album art.

Now, have Iron Maiden given Riggs fair credit? Well, I guess you’re talking about all the hoo-ha with Riggs not continuing on with Iron Maiden to this day. That’s a tricky question. Iron Maiden are inseparable from Riggs. He provided the band with all its iconic artwork, and, of course, he created Eddie, one of metal’s most enduring figureheads. I can’t even imagine how many t-shirts Iron Maiden have sold because of Riggs, and we’ll never know how Iron Maiden would have fared without Riggs’ artwork being such key marketing point for the band. I mean, Riggs artwork was directly responsible for me picking up my first Iron Maiden album, before I’d even heard a note of the band, and I bet that’s the same for a million other fans too.

So, yeah, I think we would all agree that Riggs did play an important part in Iron Maiden’s success. However, at the end of the day, it is the music industry. I do have sympathy for Riggs, but he also made his career off of Iron Maiden, and it wasn’t like he was writing the songs or doing all the work of touring the world like the band was. So, you might ask, aside from reimbursing him fairly for his time and efforts, what does the band owe him? Riggs is a commercial artist, Iron Maiden has always been a commercial entity, and commercial deals go sour all the time. Iron Maiden spent decades promoting Riggs’ artwork on a HUGE stage. Riggs has a legacy, and it’s one that’s been respected and loved by millions of fans across the years and all over the world. He wouldn’t have that without Iron Maiden.

4. As a philosophy academic, do you see a correlation between Iron Maiden and British idealism?

I did study philosophy at university, for a number of years, but I’m definitely not an academic in any way, shape, or form. Also, my speciality areas of philosophical inquiry were in human rights and gender and sexuality studies, rather than any examination of traditional discourses. So, in all honesty, my knowledge of British Idealism is probably not much more than you’d pick up from a cursory glance at Wikipedia.

I mean, sure, Iron Maiden are a quintessential British metal band, home and hearth and all that jazz, so if that’s idealism, I guess they fit the bill in that regard. But, if you want to have a discussion about Iron Maiden in relation to my area of study, we could have a ball chatting about the band’s spandex years; although, maybe best to save that for another time.

I think if you were looking at Iron Maiden through a philosophical lens, then there’s lot about the band that goes much deeper than their working-class roots or aesthetic would imply at the outset. Off the top of my head, and I think this is something most Iron Maiden fans would share, is that the band really taught me a lot about history, religion, different cultures, war, and politics. I’m probably not the only teenager that turned in school assignments directly referencing what I’d learnt about from an Iron Maiden song; hell, I did that at university too. They’re definitely a very philosophical band, both broadly in their subject matter, and in the way the band members are just exploring what life means through their art. So, yeah, as a philosophical tool, or educational asset, I think Iron Maiden’s discography should occupy a place in every school’s curriculum!

5. Iron Maiden have sold more than 75 million records worldwide and counting. Which album would you (happily) be buried with?

Live After Death. The first Iron Maiden album that I really connected with, and the one I’ll take to the grave. Of course, even though I know one life is all we get, there’s also that slither of hope that I will be bursting out of my grave like Eddie does on the cover too.

(Lav: I think we need to talk about lecture posts for Craig Hayes, he has some golden points.)

 

 

Vinyl, Tea, Magazine

SAM_0847

What could Iron Maiden, Iron Fist magazine and a tea cup possibly have in common?

It’s all made in Britain and it’s all smooth entertainment.

How is a tea cup entertaining? Well, I found this Royal Malvern tea cup at an auction and watched older folks stumble to place a bid. So precious just like my Iron Maiden vinyl.

In fact, Iron Maiden may have influenced several thousand people to pick up a music instrument or create their own zombies. This blog is a bit of a quirk but I want to start conversations with the ten of you that read it so I decided to throw some questions to Iron Maiden fans. 

Julian Emdon (Videographer and long-time metalhead):
 
If I could give a lecture about Iron Maiden to a junior class, my lesson plan would be:
 
Start out with the first 2 albums with vocalist Paul Di’Anno, how they had an almost ‘punk’ attitude combined with progressive metal. Then explain how with the introduction of vocalist Bruce Dickinson the sound became more anthem-like and suited for the stadium. I would explain their brilliant use of the twin harmonised guitar, and emphasis of bass guitar brought forward in the mix. I would definitely go into how important the imagery and album artwork is, and the lyrical themes of history and cinematic horror.

I became an Iron Maiden die-hard fan because:
 
 I was a fan of the artwork before I was a fan of the music, seeing my uncle’s Maiden posters in his bedroom as a child. It was only as a teenager that I discovered that it was actually a band! My uncle gave me his collection of tapes, all the albums up to ‘Somewhere in Time’. The song ‘Powerslave’ had the biggest impact on me, turning me into a die-hard fan. That album, ‘Killers’ and ‘Piece of Mind’ became my favourite albums. 
 
As someone who works in the artistic field, Iron maiden influenced me by:
 

I would say Maiden was one of the main reasons I picked up guitar. The driving, ‘controlled abandon’ of the music and themes of fantasy in the lyrics were major influences on my personality. In fact, after the discovery of Maiden’s music at age 12 I would say my entire personality changed to what it is now. I would also spend a lot of time drawing monsters in the style of Eddie, the Iron Maiden mascot. In no time at all I had turned my two close friends onto Iron Maiden, who in same ways became even more rabid in their fandom than myself!

 
My favourite album is:
 
Piece  of Mind. As a whole the album is just brilliant, and it contains a lot of my most favourite Maiden songs.

Edward Banchs (Heavy Metal Writer and long-time metalhead)

If I could give a lecture about Iron Maiden to a junior class, my lesson plan would be:
 
I would tell them that they are awesome, though this reminds me of the time I worked as a substitute teacher and I did explain to a group of students that I loved Iron Maiden. I am convinced they did not believe me, so it goes. I would tell a Junior High class of the connection that their music gives to people all over the world, which is something not many pop stars in the US can brag about. A pure genuine connection that is carried throughout their live performances. Almost as if we are in a trance, we all sing, we all hum and we all make sure the band hears us. Name another act who has their guitar solos hummed back to them while they are being performed live? You cannot! Their music is not negative, it is a glimpse into history, and modern themes involving everything from science fiction to the dangers of nuclear war. It is no nonsense music, with powerful melodies and a connection to fans that is beyond powerful. Plus, I would tell them about Ed Force One, I suppose middle school students would get a kick out of that. 
 
I became an Iron Maiden die-hard fan because:
 
My first Iron Maiden record was “No Prayer For the Dying.” It was given to me by a cousin who I guess was not enjoying the record. The songs, ‘Tailgunner’ and ‘Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter’ were stuck in my head for days. As a middle school student myself, I did not think it would get any better. Well, then I discovered their back catalogue! Life got much, much better.
 
It goes without saying that Derek Riggs is an integral part of Iron Maiden’s development and here is why:
 
Powerslave. I drink my morning and evening coffee from a coffee mug with the Powerslave album cover. It rules. I was quite disappointed when I could not find the right size canvas Vans (slip-on) with that album cover. Occasionally I still get on the web and look for those shows, and that prestigious Maiden tee; blue, with the Powerslave cover and Iron Maiden in gold. The shirt exists, I have seen it, and I will make anyone a fair deal with anyone for that tee shirt! I love that album, and that cover just gets me excited. It never gets old. And Riggs deserves more credit. Their imagery, and Eddie have perhaps more to do with their success than they would ever acknowledge. 
 
Also, the Trooper. Before I left for graduate school in the UK, my mother (who makes the best cakes ever!), baked me a cake for a personal going away party and she was awesome enough to decorate the cake with the Trooper album cover. It tasted better than it looked, and it looked AWESOME! (And yes, there are Trooper slip-on Vans too, I would love to own them as well.)
 Iron Maiden has a bit of influence on me when:
 
I do listen to them when I’m writing, so perhaps. 
 
From an academic point of view, here is what I think of the correlation between Iron Maiden and British idealism:
 
Though I will not claim to be an expert on British idealism, I can see a strong correlation. They are proud of where they are from and it is reflected heavily in their lyrics and their artwork. 
 
Hey, Julian and Edward! Cheers for the Iron Maiden support.
 
So, what’s precious to you?
 
– Lav
 

 

 

The Music Journalism Deception

A brief history here: I spent 12 months learning the basics of journalism at the prestigious Rhodes University. I passed my exams with a 72% average but that score was not good enough. I didn’t make the cut for the next journalism year and was asked to choose another degree or another University. So, I spent four years doing the former as an English major and learning about journalism (especially music journalism) in my free time.

Then blogs started popping up like mushrooms. Almost everyone I know has a blog.

That is where the problem lies.

Everyone has a blog. Suddenly, “everyone” is a writer.

Four years of studying the ‘art’ of writing in the English language counts for nothing because “everyone” is now a writer.

At one stage, I thought I could be a music journalist like a less romanticised version of William from Almost Famous. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one with such ideas. A lot of Williams started popping out making their début on music based websites. Some of these music journalists are excellent and continue to be. As for the rest of the music journalists, I question their motives.

Unfortunately, music journalism is dying while some argue it’s dead. Either way, it’s becoming a black hole of absolute nonsense.There is a lack of integrity, professionalism and comprehension in the current music journalism market. The tweets that prompted this blog post are from @noyokono:

@noyokono: It’s so nice when reviewers summarize a band’s Wikipedia entry in the opening paragraph.

@noyokono: If a reviewer has no real history with a band, no connection to its lengthy story, why pretend? Why not just focus on the music?

@noyokono: What surprises me is that editors at reputable publications let this sort of shit go on, unchecked. Do they think their readers are idiots?

@noyokono: I don’t expect a writer to do weeks of research for an 800 word review. But summarizing Wikipedia gives me no reason to keep reading.

@noyokono: REMEMBER: Music criticism is a dying form so if you’re going to be a critic make sure you’re making a worthwhile contribution.

All the above are absolute valid points. Take note, rookie music bloggers and wannabe Williams. I might have copied a line or used Wikipedia but I learned the hard way. My friend and fellow music journalist @MarkAngelBrandt has identified 3 problems in the alternative music journalism department. 1) The same bands are covered year in and year out – which is boring. 2) Lack of standards across music based websites that recycle half-baked articles. 3) People are no longer inspired by journalism any more because content is no longer engaging. Mark wants to change that and has something in the works but I am inclined to keep hush about it. (You could always speak to Mark to find out)

I should point out that music journalism is an art! Not everyone is good at it and not everyone can make a living from it but we can talk about it and learn from there.

What is there to learn in music journalism? A lot. As @sethw mentioned: If you think there’s nothing left to teach, remember there are people that still ask “what’s a latté?” at Starbucks.

– Lav

 

Oh No! It’s me again.

I’m trying to purchase a domain but that involved starting a Paypal account which seems to be taking a while to verify. I cannot wait much more…I just want to “blog”.

I left blogging for a while. I went back to school and got that all important certificate. I decided to travel and explore. I tried to blog again but it was a monumental fail so I disappeared into a sea of ties and collars in office blocks.

Then I opened my web browser and found myself reading this paragraph repeatedly.

“The economy has rescinded the simple offer of “Do what you’re told, play it safe, and you can make a living.” Making a living is now harder than ever. The alternatives are up to you.” – The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin

I walked out on the uncomfortable ties and collars in office blocks scenario much to the dismay of close family. I lost a lot of friends. I might have lost a lot of respect and I most certainly lost a stable bank balance. Though, the one thing that I did not lose was my dedication to art.

Unfortunately, I cannot draw. My high school teacher reassured me of that. Art (to me) is anything and everything that lights a passion in one’s heart. What is your art? My art revolves around words.

I like words. I also happen to like heavy metal music. The other two things that I like are vintage pieces and travelling without a map.

This is what the blog is all about. I’m taking all of my “likes” combining it and sending it out to the Universe. What will come out of it – I will never know. What I simply hope to do is … start a conversation.

Lav

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Air Guitar

This teeny tiny blog started in 2009 but the first words of steel were written on 15 November 2010.
Since it’s inception; I have reviewed, interviewed and wrote about heavy metal music and it’s culture. I have also been fortunate enough to meet some incredible people (offline and online) along the way! I took a break from writing on this blog between December 2012 and October 2013 to travel and explore my heritage. Here I am today, back at where I started.

Before I get on with more metal musings, I want to thank the writers, photographers, PR folks and countless of awesome Metalheads for keeping the music scene alive. It’s amazing what we do for the things we love.

Happy Birthday Air Guitar Blog. Let’s get the ball rolling for 2014.

Yours in metal,


 

REVIEW: ING (SOUTH AFRICA)

ING – INGQUISITION


In South Africa, the bloody-mindlessness of politics is rife. Ask any citizen to explain the political dilemmas and you will get a list beyond infinity but ask any citizen to explain what they are doing to stop the political quandary – you won’t get any answers except a blank gaze and a mumble.
This is where the complainING stops and the investigatING starts. ING are one of the first South African English bands that address their lyrics directly to the political affairs of the nation. The Cape Town based band warped, bended and blended the local diplomacy with the familiar skills of thrash metal to create something undeniably unique. Today, 29 September 2012, marks the official release of ING’s second full-length album entitled Ingquisition.
The guitars and bass, aptly played by Darren Webb and Henk Kruger, screech and squeal with headbanging riffs on Ingquisition while the drummer, Marius Theron, compliment the not so clean singing vocalist and guitarist, Bryan Villain. Some tracks unfold with prowess and energy while other tracks feature infamous Cabinet voice samples. The highly charged atmosphere of the album is consistent and subsequently there are no breaks for a sweet melody or a lacklustre chug. The highlight tracks of Ingquisition are “Julius”, “Satan Rules”, “Ingquisition” and “My Way Or The Die Way”. A sense of the band’s enterprise comes through on the highlighted tracks and immediately the listener is drawn into the raw energy and can comprehend the theme of the lyrics. Villain’s vocals are not entirely clean singing but hold enough rhythm and vigour as well as a bit of a tainted South African accent. The high-quality production values really make Ingquisition the topping of blood on snow. It is independently produced with super studio clarity and razor precision is placed on composition and beat.
After a few spins of the thirteen track album, the impressive satire and skill of ING is apparent. The corners of a few tracks blend a little too much but the breakdowns add some fine stylistic variation. Each instrument is heard and what truly stands out is that no instrument is superior to the other. Furthermore, the track list runs fluidly and ING’s cut-out-the-fat approach to making an album is thoroughly pleasing.
What problems do I have with Ingquisition? None.
You can find ING on Facebook and on Twitter and on Reverbnation.

THIS IS MY METAL LIFE: BETH WINEGARNER

BETH WINEGARNER

Picture taken by  Carrie Breinholt

Beth Winegarner, writer, novelist, poet, mother, and proud Heavy Metal lover chats to Air Guitar about women in metal, backward messages and what the journalism field really is all about.  

Let me first ask you, how and why did you get into journalism?

I was excruciatingly shy when I was young – to the point where I couldn’t actually read or speak out loud if a teacher called on me in class. My parents tried several things to help me overcome my anxiety, including spelling bees and learning the violin, which required me to perform for small audiences, but it continued to be really difficult.
Around 13, I discovered writing. I started keeping journals and I wrote poems, and in the process I realized I had this really amazing, safe way of communicating my thoughts and feelings. I could bypass my shyness.
Then, in high school, I started taking journalism classes, which meant working on the school paper. I wrote articles, helped with page design, edited other people’s work, and discovered that I was good at it. This was the latter part of high school, when the pressure was on to figure out what I’d like to study in college and pursue as a career. I loved writing so much, and journalism seemed like a smart way to use that passion and skill in a way that could support me financially. Of course, back then, I had no idea that the journalism industry might change so dramatically in the next 20 years!
You have written for many magazines, webzines and you are the author of several books – is there ever time that you feel ‘burnt out’? If so, how do you overcome it?

It’s pretty rare that I feel burnt out, which assures me that journalism was the right path. I’ve had periods working for daily newspapers when I would get tired, or I was working on a series of stories that I wasn’t so passionate about. But I get a lot of sustenance from journalism: the process of discovering facts and ideas, interviewing people and gathering information, and turning all that into something that’s helpful to readers. There’s so much variety to the work, it’s tough to get bored or stuck in a rut.
Early on, I did get burnt out when I was trying to make it as a music writer – I had to write so much about bands that didn’t matter to me, and I also discovered that I can’t stand reviewing live concerts. I’ve gotten back into music writing now, but in a much more selective way that feels more sustainable to me.
 
I have read many of your recent articles but the one I always come back to is the superbly expressed “The Heavy Metal Witch Hunt Lives On” which was written for Popmatters. Why did you opt to write that article and what were your thoughts when doing so?

I’m so glad you liked it! In the course of blogging about metal regularly, I started to discover metal bands in other parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, where playing in a metal band can be a very risky proposition. I’d grown up during the PMRC years in America, and I knew how ridiculous it was when powerful people called heavy metal “evil.” But I thought the world had moved past it – and here were all these examples that proved it hadn’t.
I was impressed by how dedicated those musicians were to creating and performing heavy metal music, even though it could get them harassed, arrested, or tortured. Emos and metalheads in Iraq were even recently killed. I wish their societies could make room for them. But their dedication says something important about heavy metal in general, and what it means to the people who love it. People who love metal love it fiercely, and that’s something people worldwide need to recognize.
In your blog, Backward Messages, you debunk negative portrayals of teen interests and culture. Where did the concept of the blog come about and what has the reaction been like from parents and society?

Between 2007 and 2010 I wrote a book for parents about all the most controversial teen interests – violent video games, paganism, and heavy metal, and so on. Once I finished the book, I wanted to keep writing about those topics while I shopped for a publisher, so I started the blog.
I had originally hoped that the blog would be a resource for the parents of teenagers, but I’m discovering that the parents of teenagers don’t seek out parenting advice or resources online; I don’t know why. I know lots of folks with teenagers, and certainly some of them struggle with the challenges of parenting, but they seem to go it alone.
Still, the blog gets plenty of traffic – predominantly from people who are keyed into a particular issue. For example, goths comment on the posts I write related to goth culture. Or, if I write about a recent crime, friends of the suspect or victim will find my posts in a Google search and come over to talk about it. 
I’ve had quite a few commenters who thought I was totally off my rocker for arguing that these various influences can actually be good for kids. But I’ve also had plenty more who thank me for posting about a particular issue that’s dear to them, because it’s rare to find someone who says, yes, Satanism can be safe and healthy! Or, don’t worry about your kid playing Skyrim – unless it’s for 48 hours straight, without getting up to pee!
Throughout your work, you are very strong and consistent in your discussions and arguments. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned as a journalist?

It’s funny that you say that, because when I am making arguments or stating my opinions, I don’t consider that work “journalism.” It’s based on similar research techniques, but for the most part, I feel that opinions don’t belong in journalism; it’s a reporter’s duty to collect and report the facts and let the reader make up his or her own mind.
But there are definitely times to show a side of the story that hasn’t been told, to provide a kind of balance. In part, we need that because some journalists aren’t doing their duty to remain as objective as possible. It’s not just that they’re telling only one side, but they’re reporting faulty and poorly researched information, and even injecting their own (incorrect) speculation into their articles.
That said, I think the most important thing I’ve discovered has nothing to do with objectivity. As I said, I’m shy, so it took me a long time to work up the nerve to ask the kinds of questions that reporters really need to ask – the pointed questions about topics their sources would rather not talk about. In everyday life, we’re discouraged from asking those questions, because it’s considered rude. But when you’re a reporter, it’s your job to ask. And, some of the time, no matter what you ask, people will answer. Or, the worst they’ll say is “I won’t answer that.” But you have to ask. You have to be brave enough to ask.
“Women in metal” is an on-going topic and a lot of writers, feminists and musicians are giving crude sexist metal men the middle-finger to defend the gender inequality. Can you please elaborate on such?

This is such a rich topic, and really tough to summarize, in part because it’s an ongoing conversation in the metal community. Each time it comes up, people evolve a little bit.
First, I don’t think the metal community – and especially individual metalheads – are intentionally sexist. There are plenty who accept women as equals, whether it’s in the audience, onstage, or elsewhere. And there are others who believe they see women as equals; they may act in ways that say otherwise, but they don’t realize they’re doing it. However, metal as a culture is a branch off of mainstream society, and mainstream society still favors men and male power. Plus, metal in particular is founded in expressions of darkness, power, and aggression – qualities society normally sees as “masculine.” Once we can really embrace those qualities in women, I think we’ll find a more balanced place for women in the culture.
Women have always been part of metal culture, and their numbers seem to be increasing. With that comes both friction – as women make space for themselves and define, both privately and publicly, what it means to be a female metalhead – and acceptance, as others get used to their presence. Unfortunately, many times women’s presence is sexualized in a way that men’s isn’t (such as with Revolver’s “Hottest Chicks in Metal” issues), or women are  treated as a novelty (as with Decibel’s recent “Women in Metal” issue). The natural opposite is a “Men in Metal” issue, and when you devote one issue to women, you suggest that the rest are overly devoted to men.
At some point, I’d like to see women treated simply as part of the fabric of metal culture. We don’t need to be pointed out. We don’t need to be elevated. We just need to be included in the same way that men are. It needs to be clearer that we’re into the music for the same reasons as men. But that hasn’t happened yet, and that’s why the conversation is still happening.
 As a busy writer, poet, family giver and proud Metalhead – what do you do for relaxation?

Well, I’m not very good at relaxing, let’s just get that out of the way! But when I want to take a break from writing, working, or parenting, I tend to make a beeline for the computer – just to chat with friends, read blogs, or see what other people are up to on Facebook and Twitter. I also love to cook, and in particular I love to bake breads and desserts. I read a fair amount, and of course I listen to music as often as possible. Music really helps me recalibrate and return to centre.
 Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment? Perhaps, there are plans for a new novel?

Well, I freelance for local (San Francisco) newspapers, so I’m always juggling a few different projects. Right now I’m finishing up a cover story for the SF Weekly that should be published in early October, on the topic of same-sex marriage. I’m also researching another long-form piece, but I haven’t started pitching it yet, so I don’t want to give too much away. I will say that it relates to metal, and that I hope to sell it to a national (non-metal) magazine. That one, if it works out, could become another book down the road. I’m extremely excited about my research, so I’d love it if someone gave me the space to write about it.
You can find Beth Winegarner on Twitter and on her official webpage and Backward Messages.

GHOST CULT MAGAZINE



GHOST CULT

Air Guitar Blog had a chat with Raymond Westland about the launch of a new rock and metal digital magazine called Ghost Cult. Air Guitar grilled the Chief Editor about it being “another metal magazine” but Ghost Cult is set to be in a premium class. 

Ghost Cult is a hybrid webzine and digi-mag with an outlook on forward thinking rock and metal. Could you elaborate on “forward thinking rock and metal’?
Generally speaking many bands within the rock and metal scene tend to be quite conservative as far experimentation and adding new flavours to their style goes. I can perfectly understand that, because the list of failed experimental train wrecks is endless with the latest Morbid Angel record being the most recent example. Not to mention the Lulu album by Metallica and Lou Reed. Having said that there are also bands who like to evolve and experiment with new sounds and influences. Those are the bands that keep the metal genre alive as a whole. As a person I like to discover new things, so there you go.

Does that mean there will be more emphasis on up and coming bands (underground) and less emphasis on commercial music?
I find the term “commercial music” quite a contradiction seen within the metal context. For all intents and purposes metal still isn’t pop music. I prefer the term “mainstream metal” and those are the bands that get enough exposure in metal media, so I feel there’s lot to be gained to give high quality up and coming bands in the spotlight with Ghost Cult , although one or two mainstream metal acts may slip through, because we’re fans.
As you mentioned, there is a lot to be gained by giving high quality up and coming bands exposure, who are Ghost Cult’s primary target audience?
Hard to say really, but I think everyone with a passion for high quality metal and good writing will enjoy Ghost Cult. In my (humble) opinion the GC writing crew consist of some of the best writers and reviewers out there, personally selected by yours truly!

I expect nothing less but how does Ghost Cult differ from other webzines especially ones that you have previously worked on?
In many respects Ghost Cult is evolution of sorts of what I’ve done and worked on before. The thing that will set us apart is the fact that we combine the best aspects of a digital magazine and a webzine and the fact that we have an very skilled and talented designer in the person of David Alexandre. He’s the one that really brings Ghost Cult alive

Ghost Cult is an overhaul of Scratch The Surface webzine. Staff has changed and a new blueprint was made. Can you tell us a bit about the new team?
The writing crew consists mostly of people I worked previously with Alternative Matter (now defunct) and Thisisnotascene.com, plus some people that were recommended to me. The editorial staff consists of Chris Wright (PR/content editor), David Alexandre (designer/senior editor), Pete Ringmaster (content editor) and yours truly as chief editor. We have the skills and experience to bring Ghost Cult to the next level.

The Ghost Cult tagline is “Spirit of Metal”. How do you as the Chief Editor define that?
Well, “Spirit” is obviously connected with “Ghost” and “Cult”. What the “Spirit of Metal” means differs from each person. For me it means a sense of freedom to do what you like to do without being too concerned with fitting in a certain mould or form. As much as I hate to admit it, metal in itself is in many regards a bulwark of conservatism with all types of ludicrous social conventions and rules. I want Ghost Cult to be a gathering for free spirited people who enjoy all sorts of different music and bands without any prejudice

I like that last statement. In terms of “Global Metal”, how will Ghost Cult embrace the foreign scenes?

Ghost Cult has writers from Canada, US, UK, South Africa and even Australia, so we’re not really concerned with borders, nationalities or so-called “foreign scenes”. All we care about is high quality music, so it doesn’t matter from which continent or country a band comes from.

When can we expect the first Ghost Cult issue?
When all goes well, the first issue will appear on October first. Without giving too much you can expect interviews with Enslaved, Katatonia, Kontinuum, Zatokrev, Winterfylleth and a host of others. Check http://www.ghostcultmag.com/ for updates and all!

How can contributors and artists contact Ghost Cult?

There will be a contact address on the Ghost Cult website as soon as it’s ready; in the mean time people can drop me a line at HomeNucleonics [at] gmail [dot] com
Do you have any last words?

Thank you very much for this opportunity and all join the Ghost Cult

Thank you, Ray!

THIS IS MY METAL LIFE: SABRINA RAMDOYAL

SABRINA RAMDOYAL

Photo Taken By: Michelle Murphy http://www.mootography.com/
SABRINA RAMDOYAL

Photographer, Artist and Proud Metalhead Sabrina Ramdoyal shares the highs and lows of being a a music photographer, the Slipknot moment that changed her life and Bloodstock Festival 2012!
Please [CLICK HEREto access Sabrina Ramdoyal’s portfolio.

Let me first ask you, how and why did you get into music photography?
In 2007, I completed an honours degree in Psychology & Counselling Studies. To get a job within the industry would take a further seven to ten years. So, being very distant towards my job goal, I was very fascinated with Art Therapy from my studies. I love Art and I’ve used it as a means, along with metal music, to control my hectic mind. It was one day I was with my partner, now of six years, I told him my experiences and showed my Art. I questioned if I should take up a course in Art and Design to expand on my interest. He simply said to follow my dreams and he’ll support me along the way. So, after learning the many art forms within the course for one year and gaining a Merit after completing my final major project specialising in Fine Art & Photography [I used a digital camera]. The tutors and the examining board expressed, however, I was of Distinction level and they’ve said to take my talents further as it shouldn’t go to waste. I got a job after the course and with the money I’ve saved up, I’ve got a ticket to see one of the incredible gigs of my life – Slipknot, Machine Head & Children of Bodom on 9th December 2008. It was the song “Prosthetics” of Slipknot’s set that clicked [no pun intended] “I could have captured that moment with my camera”. After the show … well, I let you fill in the blanks from there! 
How would you describe your photography style?
As a wise photographer once said to me, there are no rights and wrongs, but as long you feel it is a great picture that meets the client’s requirements, it is a job well done. Coming from a self-taught background for nearly four years, my photographic style tends to change within time by techniques I gained through many assignments I’ve done. It could be a little alteration in my editing, an interesting method from a professional photographer being put into practice or whilst being on a photo shoot. I make sure the final product is authentic to the eye, but adding my own flair. It expands on my creativity and confidence in my work. The last thing you want your work to be is the same.
Your credits range from Soundshock, Ed Stone Rockwear, Punk Star (UK) and your photo work has featured in Metal Hammer as well as Roadrunner Records (UK) – what keeps you going?
With those achievements alone, I wouldn’t have thought my work would be recognised with some of the top names. Although I have a long way to go until I know I have reached that level of success, the amount of support since starting have been nothing more than delightful.
As a freelance photographer – what are the highs and lows of the job?
As you can see, there are many great things when doing this. You gain access to some of your favourite gigs and festivals; your work is recognised by potential clients and most of all, you get to have the time of your life being involved in the music scene. You meet new people and it is your chance to shine through networking with other professionals. Recently, I had two photography students from Canada and England to interview me as part of their reports as I’m one of the reasons why they started photography. Even when I am asked to do an assignment by one of my clients is a high in itself!
But, as someone greatly put it, it is a luxury lifestyle through minimum wage. Photography is an expensive job and as technology advances, you can’t do the job without raking a fortune on the latest equipment. Unless you’re working for a major magazine or you’re contracted with a client, it doesn’t pay your bills. Sometimes, you don’t know when your next assignment will be, so you have to find your own means of work. When all the fun and games are over, you will be constantly editing, networking and promoting your recent assignments to the world. It takes a lot out of your body and mind.
Recently, you were at Bloodstock Festival – please do give us some feedback.
I’ll be honoured to! I photographed the almighty Bloodstock Festival 2012 for two clients. One is coverage for my music website This Is Not A Scene and I had two photo shoots to promote a great clothing apparel Ed Stone Rockwear. So, prioritising the many bands playing across three stages to organising times for the clients’ photo shoots was a challenge worth achieving. On the first day of shooting, I had an accident in which stopped my workflow. But the amount of support I got from the photographers on the weekend was tremendous. They made sure I was okay, if I needed help and I could use their laptops if I was struggling to transfer work. I’ve seen through the weekend that the media are a very tight community striving to give it our all to make Bloodstock Festival one of a kind. The people ranging from The Noise Cartel PR, record companies, the management, the sponsors, the security, the fans and many more have been immaculate. In the end, with the intense work, it wouldn’t be complete without the memories. The music, stints on stage, laughs, an incident involving sleeping on the job, duck pout pictures and witnessing a sourball challenge balanced the chaos. It was a great festival with like-minded people with the same passion and I would it all over again!
Your portfolio has amazing shots from Spires to Lamb of God! What has been your most memorable assignment to date?
Thank you for great words on my photography! This is a tough one as each assignment is memorable to me in some way! The one that sticks to mind was when I was asked by my editors of This Is Not A Scene to be their photographer for Sonisphere Festival 2011 across all stages. This was my first ever festival to document and as you would expect, I was as nervous as anything! As the weekend went by, I became comfortable in my own skin. The moment when it finally hit me was on that heavy raining Sunday night whilst singing to every word to the emotionally-charged Slipknot stage set dedicated to the late great bassist Paul Gray. It made me realise “Wait, I was in the photopit photographing all of The Big Four [Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica], including legends Diamond Head! I photographed the British icons Motorhead! Holy Hell, I was …” It was at that point where I have something to prove in my work. I’ve worked very hard on getting to that stage [sorry about the pun] and to work alongside the professionals. I’ve met some great people and I’ve learnt so much just from that weekend. That gave me the insight that I shouldn’t quit after this.
What do you think of the rock/metal music photography industry at the moment and where do you see it 5 years from now?
So far, I hadn’t seen any problems as there are many new photographers wanting to do this and they have the same level of passion for the music in this line of work, apart from photo releases being used to some bands’ shows. I can’t exactly provide an answer as I don’t know what will happen in the next five years. As long as everyone supports each other and don’t get ahead of themselves, and then it will be good.
Is it true that you are from the gorgeous island called Mauritius but the United Kingdom is your home?

Well, it’s my parents who are from Mauritius. I was born in London, but I have lived in Manchester since the age of two. Learning from my parents of how life in a tiny island is difficult and to see how they’ve worked from the bottom of the gutter to where they are now, I am absolutely grateful to learn not to complain of what we have in this day and age! That gives me strength to work harder.
Apart from photography, what are your hobbies and interests?
Well, I keep my ideas flowing by going to Art galleries and being constantly inspired through the many aspects of life. I make sure it is all recorded in a diary of some kind, just in case of a photo shoot! I love going to gigs, whether I photograph or just being a punter. Since doing Zumba for a couple of years, it’s becoming a nice way to release some pent-up energy and keep healthy. With all the work, spending time with your loved ones is a great way to treat the soul. You need that to keep you going and sane more than anything. Every now and again, I like to go to a comedy show. I rarely watch TV but I do watch Metalocalypse, Robot Chicken and TV series The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Spartacus, and Game Of Thrones. I need to catch a few more! Who says photographers are boring, eh?
As a metalhead, do you have any must-have albums picked out for 2012?
As a proud metalhead for over eleven years, I’ve been confronted with many recognised and new artists with their blasts of metal. This year is no exception. Recent records released from artists like Katatonia, Testament, Gojira, Kreator, Moonspell, Anathema, Ihsahn, Cannibal Corpse and Devin Townsend Project shows how great 2012 is shaping. There are new bands like Alcest, Aborted, Mark Tremonti and Storm Corrosion in line too. There are artists from the local and UK scene such as Triaxis, Saturnian, Savage Messiah, Orange Goblin and Oaf as they are fast becoming just as great as some of the major bands. My Dying Bride, Stone Sour, Cradle Of Filth and Sylosis are the last bands of this year to check out too! I am going to have a difficult time choosing my best records of 2012! I can’t wait what 2013 will bring to us in metal!
What advice would you give to up-and-coming photography journalists?
All advice is based on experience I’ve been through and seen. Beware as it is a lot to take in. Document a music scene that you are comfortable in and support it. Bands work tirelessly for great music and they need your support for exposure to the public. You won’t get any attention with potential clients without a body of work. There are social media sites to reveal your adventures. Create a website and blog for your work. It is essential to have business cards and nowadays, an iPad on the go. Expect the work to be voluntary as you don’t get into major publications that easily. Once you get an assignment to document a gig by applying to a music publication, remember the rules of the photopit – respect the people involved and do not give others a hard time. They were once like you. Be wary of crowdsurfers and drinks that may come over the barrier as you will get a few knocks.  I’ve seen professionals go underappreciated whilst “fauxtographers” get more attention. It is a tough world out there so it is very important to stand out from the crowd with your own photographic style. Never copy or steal from others as there will be consequences. You’ll get critics assessing your work and even you can be your own worst critic. Ask the professionals for advice. I ask for constructive criticism so I’m aware of what to do for improvement for future assignments. You never know the accidents you may encounter so, it is important to have financial support in order to pay for your equipment and insure them.
With all of the advice, it all comes down to two imperative points if you decide to become a music journalist. The first is practice. That’s where all of the mentioned will fall into place. And the second is being careful once you take this profession. As AC/DC famously said “It’s a long to the top if you wanna rock and roll.” Don’t take it very lightly because it will be a journey of tears, tantrums and long hours if you want to succeed.
Are there any last words that you would like to add?
Remember, as an Artist, appreciate your work, embrace your achievements and learn from your mistakes. I am sure you have made some at one point. I have had mine and I’ve learned, hence I am carrying on loving what I do. Only you need to prove that you’re worthy of this. Be fearless and show other competitors that you are the competition.
Thank You Sabrina! Please [CLICK HERE] to access Sabrina Ramdoyal’s portfolio. You can catch Sabrina on TWITTER