So, as a supplement, here are a few choice exchanges from our interviews with Gravecode Nebula/Iconoclast Contra, Yaotl Mictlan and The Pagan Dead. We begin with Gravecode/Iconoclast members Zodiac and Dying commenting on the Norwegian black metal scene and its most notorious exploits--how it all pertains to them, and what tactics they endorse in their philosophical war against religious and corporate horseshit. Following this, Yaotl Mictlan expands on their Aztec aesthetic while The Pagan Dead weighs in on magic with a ek'.
City Weekly: Have you ever burned a church?
Zodiac: Come on.
Dying: Even if we did...
Zodiac: ...we're not gonna admit it in City Weekly. There have been attempts--not by anybody I know personally, but I know that there have been church vandalisms, shit like that.
Dying: Yeah, we encourage all of that.
Zodiac: We encourage it--but you know, I'm not gonna incriminate myself in fuckin' City Weekly... It's something that we do encourage; it is. We're tryin' to hold that old militant fuckin' feeling.
Dying: The whole thing with black metal, there's no positive message... It's not about power. It's a warfare, is what it is. A philosophical war.
CW: Have you ever killed a rival musician in hopes that your musicianship or magic would vastly improve?
Dying: No. We don't waste time bitchin' about other bands. I mean, obviously, with all the Norway stuff, that was inspiring. And we like those stories and that attitude, but you know, we like to do what we do; we don't really play to the stereotypical view of what's been sensationalized. The people I'd rather kill are not other musicians. It would be people, leaders of various organized [religions] that infringe upon our--not everybody's religious. And the problem with people that aren't religious is they're not very vocal. People who are? That's all they talk about. And I would kill them first, if I was to kill anyone.
My dream is to someday--I've talked to [Zodiac] about this--is, if I get some kind of terminal illness, when my time's up, is to go hold Temple Square hostage with some assault rifles and some well-placed C-4 charges. [laughter]
Zodiac: Let's hope for cancer.
Dying: Well, I quit smoking so maybe that's just my subconscious saying that. I probably wouldn't be able to go through with it, being firmly grounded in reality, at least.
CW: A band member blows his head off. You discover him. Do you take pictures and use it as an album cover?
Zodiac: I wouldn't, just for the fact that it's been done before. But one of the original singers of Ibex killed himself. It was very shocking, because we were kids--teenagers--and it was our first friend that killed himself after the whole black metal scene. It's like he found out about it--I'm not sure if exactly...
Dying: Yeah, we don't think that was why.
Zodiac: But the fact that it did happen, you know, was kind of interesting. You know, 'cause it's like seeing death, that close--we didn't see his body or anything, but that was just how close we were. Fuckin' three or four days before that, we were fuckin' screamin' fuckin' "Mandatory Suicide"--we were doin' Slayer covers at that time--in each other's face. So in actuality, the last thing I ever said to him was screamin' fuckin' "suicide" right in his fuckin' face. It kinda messed with me a little bit, but death is probably the best part of life.
Dying: The ultimate, inevitable part of life. And another thing, having that happen, and knowing about how other bands have used that as a selling point, we've kinda refrained from that because he wasn't with the band very long. It wasn't an ideological thing. It wasn't for the scene; it wasn't a black metal suicide. I think he was just depressed, and why exploit that? It's not his fault. It's just genetics.
Viva La Raza!
Yaotl Mictlan explains their Mesoamerican take on black metal.
City Weekly: What, to you, is the musical definition of “black metal?”
Yaotl: Specifically to Yaotl Mictlan, it is a medium in which it can transport the listener to an ancient Mesoamerican battle scene or inspire our listener to be proud of who they are since our lyrics are about Mesoamerican cultures like the Aztecs, Mayans, and other indigenous peoples of Latin America.
Black metal is our choice in music, but every band has its uniqueness. Yaotl Mictlan integrated indigenous music like flutes, drums, Mexica tree seed shakers, rain sticks, Mayan trumpets with black metal, creating a unique sound.
CW: What is the philosophical definition? Is there any validity to the actions of the black metal bands from Norway?
Yaotl: Yaotl Mictlan's goals and views are very different; ours are about rescuing musical indigenous traditions while telling about our ancient believes rituals, culture, and traditions.
Our philosophical existence is to spark an interest in Latino youth about where they come from so they can resolve their insecurities as the majority uses us as scapegoats and move on to be proud of who we are.
Yaotl Mictlan's lyrics are about Mesoamerican cultures and we sing in Spanish and a bit of Aztec and Mayan languages.
Oh, Oh, Oh, It's Magick
The Pagan Dead singer/upright bass player Hades on how his band fits into, and differs from, black metal--and defines magick.
City Weekly: How do you define black metal?
Hades: To me, black metal is a form of music which invokes the primal instincts of mankind, it awakens the primeval within us, not dissimilar from many magickal practices. The philosophical definition was best said by Ibex Throne: "Black metal is warfare, not music!"
CW: It appears that all of the bands endeavor to be unique while keeping roots in traditional black metal.
Hades: For the Pagan Dead, I wouldn’t say that our roots are in black metal. We formed mainly as a psychobilly band with occult influences and some metal influences. Our sound arose from these elements. And we embraced it.
Musically, we differ in several ways from other bands. We incorporate the stand-up bass, which is mostly unheard of in metal. We have elements of surf, psychobilly and diverse forms of metal. The main difference, philosophically, is The Pagan Dead--especially [lately], focuses primarily on magick [Note: the ek' comes from occultist Aleister Crowley, who wanted to set his practices apart from the rabbit-in-the-hat magicians] for lyrical content.
Hades: Our philosophy, even with magick, is to teach or inspire people to try and look into religion further and see the ... esoteric meaning behind the anti-Christian message. And, hopefully, getting people into ceremonial magick and to not believe in religion credulously, to actually study their history and learn about what their religion actually is. Magick obviously has a connection with religion and the two go hand-in-hand as far as you can trace history. With some ancient cultures, like the Egyptians, there wasn’t a significant difference from Christianity. [But the real difference] is that religion is like supplicating yourself to a higher power. Magick is trying to control those powers.
With our anti-religion songs, we’re more anti-organized religion—stuff like the Mormon church.
On November 17, The Pagan Dead performs with Sacrificial Slaughter at Bar Deluxe, commemorating TPD’s 10th anniversary.
Iconoclast Contra opens for Watain, Goatwhore and Black Anvil at Club Vegas on November 11.
Yaotl Mictlan's album Dentro del Manto Gris de Chaac, is out now on major metal label Candlelight Records (Zyklon, Emperor, Ihsahn).