My latest interview … Gaerea. Atmospheric black metal from Italy.
Metal has a whole plethora of subgenres, ranging from radio-tolerated acts like Metallica and Disturbed, to the extreme. On the dark end of Maine’s metal spectrum, we have Sacrichrist, an extreme/black metal band. Aggressive, unapologetic, and brutal, black metal, for those who don’t know, goes hand in hand with cold, wintery landscapes, bleak northern forests, and, well, cold. Maine’s black metal scene may be small, but the musicians and bands can hold their own. Here’s a look at Sacrichrist, a black metal band out of Central Maine.
Sacrichrist has only two members. Brian Von Damage plays drums, occasional bass, vocals, and handles sampling. Naythen “the Beast” Wilson plays guitar, bass, and some vocals. (Note: according to their band bio, he is also prone to heart attacks and getting dust in his eye.)
Sacrichrist formed in 2009, playing upstairs at Brian’s house. “We actually de-evolved,” Brian says. “That’s why we play nontraditional raw black metal.”
Officially, the band traces their musical lineage back to black metal classics like Darkthrone and Venom.
Drummer/Vocalist Brian got an early start playing. “I carried a snare drum/stand (hard cased) two miles to school every day back and forth. I started in fifth grade. I banged on anything I could get my hands on before that, but that’s when I really started playing traditionally.”
Brian was heavily influenced by classic black metal and extreme metal. His list of influential albums is fairly lengthy. “Bathory – The Return, Sarcophago– I.N.R.I., Darkthrone – Hate Them\Sardonic Wrath (those two albums are connected, they confirm this on the new commentary for Hate Them), Paragon Impure – To Gaius (for the delivery of Agrippina), Pest (from Germany) – Vado Mori, Satanic Warmaster – Nachzehrer, Xasthur – Telepathic With The Deceased, Horna- Sotahuuto, Leviathan – Howl Mockery at the Cross, Lord – Hell’s F*cking Metal, Ruins – Baptized in Hell, Inquisition – Obscure Verses For The Multiverse (my best black metal album of 2013), and Deadhole– The Curse of the Ghoul.” Brian’s top black metal bands are Xasthur, Darkthrone, Sarcophago, Bathory and Venom.
His non-musical inspirations also tend towards the darker edge of art and/or entertainment. “Comics from the 80’s, 80’s gore cinema, Gorezone Magazine, Fangoria Magazine, Jim Goad’s Answer Me zine. Skating and Satan, because they go hand and hoof. Faces of Death, Banned From TV. The act of building anything from nothing into something.”
“I first started playing music in the late 70’s when I was a toddler,” Naythen says. “Piano on my mother’s lap as she played. Started taking music very seriously in about 1983, when I started bass.”
An extremely talented and versatile guitarist, Naythen has definitely developed a unique style and often works in atonal or nontraditional structures. His solo work was the focus of a recent documentary, the Continuous Echo.
“My solo material does crossover into my material with Sacrichrist,” Naythen explains, “because all my music is bound together by my Satanic beliefs. No matter what style of music I make, it is for the same drive, the same purpose, the same primitive force that is my creator.” Naythen lists the albums that were the biggest influence on him as Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Darkthrone – Transylvanian, Watain – Lawless Darkness, and Hellhammer – Apocalyptic Raids. His top five black metal bands of all time are Darkthrone, Dissection, Watain, Celtic Frost and Mayhem.
He is also influenced by other factors, aside from music. “Many things inspire me,” he explains. “Family, ancestry, death, misery, collections, automation, regal ties, science, bettering one’s self. I live for feeling uncomfortable, for being put on the spot. Instantaneous creation.”
Living in the Pine Tree State does have an effect on the music Sacrichrist creates. “I think it does definitely,” Brian says. “But a lot of drumming is rooted in tribal nature.
“If you take the sounds away from the forest, the forest will die.”
Naythen agrees. “The state of Maine does influence my playing; the dreary, rugged terrain, my Native American roots and my upbringing all play a giant role in how I approach my instruments.”
“We face the same challenges most bands face,” Brian says. “But, Maine is a large state with a small population. So the distance this creates is a challenge. Weather/extreme cold can be a challenge too, I suppose. Who hasn’t had a snow storm in Maine destroy their plans?”
Sacrichrist’s focus is mainly on recording. Their goals for the near future are clear, as Brian explains. “We want to finish 14 minutes’ worth of material into a cohesive 7-inch 45rpm record that’s worth putting out and do 500 of those. A possible split release with other USA and perhaps Canadian black metal bands has been talked about via social media. We’re hopeful.”
Brian describes their songwriting process as pretty quick. “It’s just based on us getting together and hashing our ideas out into a cohesive song structure drum and guitar-wise. We then overlay bass. Then I take a week to write to it. I do the lead vocals, and lastly, Naythen does the backups.”
The band is appreciative of the support they have received, as Brian explains. “We’d like to say thanks also to the other bands that have supported us. Putrid Christ (MI), Ominous Grim (CA), Lurid Reign (Alberta, Canada), Marakadon (FL) Distorted Strings of Doom (NY), Shaved Christ and Harsh Words (GA), Inverticrux (NH) Graveside Service (RI), as well as Exalted Woe Records (FL). Thanks to Zach and Buzz from Metal Devastation Radio.com for playing us. Extra special worship to the Face of Sacrichrist, the artists: Chris Grondin from Nightmare Force, NEV from Gruesome Graphx, and Dan from Dan’s Putrid Art.”
Capture The Sun
Capture The Sun is yet another outstanding band from Maine. Based around the Old Town area, this four-piece is pushing boundaries of genre and form. They’re particularly unique in that they are an instrumental band, and do not fit neatly into any genre or subgenre of music. We interviewed the band; the answers below incorporate input from all members.
Capture the Sun is definitely unique in being an instrumental band. Was that the plan all along, or something that happened along the way?
That was the plan from day one. We wanted to do something different than what was going on in the Maine scene at the time, as well as challenge ourselves with writing expressive music without the aid of words while still remaining technical and interesting to the listener.
What are your musical influences?
We all have a wide range of influences, but artists we enjoy as a band are many. We’re influenced by bands like Scale the Summit, Pelican, Animals as Leaders, Cloudkicker, Tera Melos, Intronaut, and Cynic, as well as jazz artists such as Dave Brubeck and Allan Holdsworth. We gather a lot of inspiration from life and things that happen to us as well.
How did CTS form?
We formed a few years back at the University of Maine in Orono. Three of us had all met at the end of a school year and all hit it off pretty much instantly. Over that next summer one of our guitarists started to get really into prog-rock and prog-metal, and hatched the idea of starting a band in that vein. The other two were already in a pretty well-off band in the Bangor area, but liked the idea of starting a proggy side project, so we started shooting ideas, riffs, and song parts back and forth via the internet. By the next semester at the University, we had one song done, and a few others roughly sketched out, but not finished. The afore-mentioned band the others were in broke up, so Capture the Sun became everybody’s main musical focus. We started practicing without a bassist, and even played a few shows that way, but soon decided it was the final element we were lacking. We asked a few people who we knew played bass, and a fellow music major at the University made the cut. That settled our final four piece form that we’re in today.
Playing live as an instrumental band has got to be challenging. I saw you recently in Windsor and was quite impressed. What do you feel are the benefits and drawbacks of not having a singer?
Three of the four of us hold degrees in music, and we’re all just a bunch of gigantic music nerds, so one of the biggest advantages is that we get to really focus on the music, and not hold back on all of our respective instruments. Lots of bands with singers tend to dial it back a bit when the vocals are happening as to not clutter up their mix too much, and have to try and leave space for when the instruments can shine in each song. It’s a lot of fun to be going all-out on your instrument for long stretches of time (for us, at least).
A drawback is that not having a singer tends to alienate a lot of potential listeners, so getting people’s attention is a bit harder than a band with a vocalist. That can also be helpful, though, as it makes us stand out from the crowd a little bit.
Another thing we deal with a lot is people asking what our songs are about. People ask us this all the time, and some people have a hard time it, for some reason. This is always our response:
None of our songs have definitive meanings or themes, and the possible meaning of each song is completely left up to the listener. Music is an extremely personal thing, and people project their emotions onto songs, which is how we as an audience come up with “happy”, “sad”, “angry”, etc songs. So, if somebody feels overwhelming happiness when listening to our music, that is intended just as much as if somebody else felt unparalleled anger from the same song. If somebody imagines a cinematic storyline of somebody climbing a mountain, or having an epic sea adventure, then that is what we intended, as long as the listener gets something out of the song.
How would you classify your sound?
That’s a tough one to answer, because we play a pretty diverse range of styles, even in the course of one song. Some things we’ve been labeled as by fans:
- Instrumental Progressive Metal (the label we tend to apply most often)
- Technical Speed-Doom
- Technical Progressive Post-Jazz Core
- The metal band that people who don’t like metal like
Of course, some of those are silly, but they actually do a pretty good job at describing us. So, really, it can be more effective for somebody to listen to our music and try to decide what we play for themselves, rather than have us try and tell them.
How do you feel you are evolving as a band?
We’re always changing, be it our writing styles, playing style, or even changing personally, and that reflects quite a bit in the music. Our writing style is becoming more fluent, and we’re finding “our sound” now, if you will. There is also quite a bit more communal contribution on each song, instead of one member writing an entire song and everybody else learning it. People who have known us since our start have said that they really like the direction we’re heading in, and so do we.
How long have you all been playing?
Kyle (guitar) – 11 Years
James (guitar) – 8 years
Justin (drums) – 8 years
Sean (bass) – 2 years on bass, but started as a child on classical string instruments
What do you think of the Maine music scene?
The Maine music scene is great if you know where to look. There are a lot of great bands that are waiting to be found, no matter the genre you’re into, and sites like Bandcamp are great for finding new local music. Some can be harder to find, such as metal and hardcore bands, due to the fact that Maine is such a folk-music driven state, but even just going out to local shows can surprise you with the amount of talent this state has.
The scene is also growing, which is super cool. There was a period a few years back that looked fairly bleak, especially in the Bangor area, but everybody is starting to poke their heads back out, again. There is a new place in Bangor that is acting as a pretty active venue, and there are new bands coming out of the woodwork at a pretty surprising rate. It’s really cool to see.
Capture the Sun is currently writing their next album, as well as playing shows around the New England area. Follow them online at their website or facebook. They can also be found on bandcamp, where you can find their album and all subsequent releases free.
Chaos Machine is yet another example of a Maine metal band that crushes! A progressive/thrash metal band based in Old Town, these guys will make you pay attention. We spoke to drummer/vocalist Ryan Porter and got a bit of background on the band.
How did Chaos Machine form?
Jon, Jamie and myself, (Ryan P.), formed in the fall of 2009, after jamming together for a little while. We had put together a few songs while still looking for a vocalist and a bass player. We found our previous vocalist a short time later and began adding vocals to the few songs that we had. We were still having trouble finding a bass player that was dependable, reliable, and had their own gear. After numerous tryouts, we finally filled that void with Ryan St. Laurent, a.k.a. (R2), in the fall of 2010. Finally, we had the full lineup we were looking for, and started writing more songs. And in May of 2010, we had our first show together.
What are your favorite songs to play live?
Ryan: With Stasis In Mind, Bleed Out, Apartment 213, This Is Hate
R2: With Stasis In Mind, Bleed Out
Jamie: Bleed Out
Jon: With Stasis In Mind, Bleed Out
Wes: With Stasis In Mind and Apartment 213
What are your influences?
Ryan: The list could go on and on, but some of the top ones would be, SLAYER, Chimaira, Threat Signal, Nothingface, Whitechapel, Meshuggah, Lamb of God, and so many more…..
R2: Metallica/Megadeth, Fear Factory, Lamb Of God, Jesse Leach-era Killswitch.
Jamie: I grew up on Metallica, and Megadeth. My current favorites would be Revocation, Jeff Loomis, Scar Symmetry, and Protest the Hero.
Jon: Rush, Dream Theatre, Testament, Slayer, Whitechapel, and Jeff Loomis just to name a few.
Wes: Michael Jackson, BTBAM, Dream Theater and King Crimson
What inspires you?
Ryan: The thought of making music and having people/fans like it puts a grin on my face. I’ve personally wanted to do this for years, and now finally getting the chance to do so is beyond exciting. Having people saying they like what we are doing, attending our shows, buying our merch, anything they can do to contribute . . . Such a great feeling!
R2: The thrill of playing live, seeing and hearing people’s reaction to our music and live shows.
Jamie: Watching musicians who have both mastered their instruments and love what they do, and let it show in their live performance.
Jon: Coming up with a catchy guitar riff that will grab people’s attention. Listening to technical/well- structured songs and learning by them to apply it to our own unique style of music.
Wes: As cliché as it may sound, my band is my inspiration. I’ve never had the pleasure of working with a more talented group of individuals. They blow my mind.
What was the best show you’ve ever seen?
Ryan: SLAYER/Slipknot @ The Maine Metal Meltdown
Jamie: Lamb of God and Devil Driver
Wes: Mr. Bungle
How long have you all played together?
This current line-up has been together since February 2011, when we added Wes to the band. He was filling in on a few shows we had lined up that our previous singer couldn’t make. Our previous singer wasn’t working out and we needed to find someone else. He came forth without us asking, saying that he wanted first refusal to be in this band! He was really just what we were looking for in a vocalist, but we didn’t want to ask him to join full-time as he was already in another band at that time.
Describe Chaos Machine in three words.
Original. Determined. Heavy.
We’re pretty far up north here … do you think being in a somewhat isolated region is a good thing in some ways?
My initial reaction to this was NO! But … the more I thought of it, it does have its benefits. Being so far up north and out of the way, and basically with Canada and the Atlantic Ocean surrounding most of this state, it’s definitely harder for people not from the area to notice you as much. We are secluded in a sense. Facebook and other online sites are really helping us out. Sure, the metal scene around here is really pretty slim compared to places further south, such as Massachusetts, New York, and other heavily-populated areas, but I think where those areas have so many bands there, it’s maybe a little harder for someone in that area to get noticed and more attention to “Their” band because it is so flooded. I guess at least here, there is really a handful of bands compared to hundreds of bands in those areas, so it kind of makes the bands here stand out more, since we are less populated.
Where can we find Chaos Machine?
You can find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/chaosmachineband or www.reverbnation.com/chaosmachineband We will be having some shows in the near future, so be sure and check us out. We always post to our facebook page to what we have going on!
We would like to take the time and say thank you to Our City Radio for doing this interview with us. A pleasure indeed!
Ryan St. Laurent (R2)-Bass/Vocals