The Veil Of Secrecy cover art unveiled.

Posted in Deranged Doodlings, Mala Suerte, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 7, 2012 by backstabbath

From Mala Suerte/Uzala split 7".Finally, after many hours of stress and extreme scrutiny, I finally finished the artwork for our side of the upcoming Uzala/Mala Suerte split 7″ which will soon be released by Arizona based King Of The Monsters Records. Our side will feature an older song which we used to play live quite a bit called “The Veil Of Secrecy”. The track was recorded quite some time ago around February and March of 2010 and we planned to release it back then but every band we contacted about doing it with ended up passing for one reason or another. As far as I’m concerned, everything worked out for the best, because after all but forgetting about the recording and resigning it to the vaults, Uzala agreed to team up with us for this release. And I couldn’t be any more pleased with the results, especially considering the haunting quality and monstrous power of their track, “Burned”.

Once plans were made to release “The Veil Of Secrecy” as part of a split 7″  I drew up a pencil sketch for a wraparound cover of two opposing groups of praying monks perpetually leering at each other from their respective sides of the record sleeve. Once Uzala came on board I figured that they’d probably end up using their own design, especially considering the tremendous amount of in-house talent they already possessed in vocalist/guitarist, Darcy Nutt. After receiving an e-mail from Darcy with an attached rough pencil sketch of the artwork for their side, I knew I had my work cut out for me. Even at this early stage, her rendering of goat-footed Pan, god of the wild, playing his flute while surrounded by curling clouds of smoke was truly amazing and inspired. I still haven’t seen the completed drawing but I am sure my haphazard scribblings will pale in comparison to the visual elegance of her finished piece.

After being unable to properly mentally conceptualize a suitable counterpoint or companion piece to Darcy’s Pan, I somewhat reluctantly abandoned the idea of creating an image that would somehow tie in symbolically and/or symmetrically with hers. Instead, I opted to focus on trying to convey the lyrical content of our song in a manner that is fantastical and somewhat esoteric while remaining visually arresting. My initial idea was to have a central figure which appeared to be  your average run-of-the -mill politician/banker/evil/elite/scumbag type holding up either a mask with some sort of blank stare or false smile, or of the type worn at a masquerade ball, in a vain yet not altogether sincere attempt at concealing his true visage, which is ultimately betrayed by the peculiar horns protruding from atop his head. This central figure would be standing in front of a closed curtain or veil which on the insert image or reverse sleeve would be open revealing the robotic masses herded like cattle marching on a road to ruin toward their inevitable death and destruction, brought on by their “benevolent” leader/controller/master who has now removed the mask revealing his true goatish and infernal identity. After creating a thumb sketch of this initial idea and actually trying to draw a much larger version of it, I realized that the proposed image for the inner sleeve would ultimately prove to be much more visually compelling than what was planned for the front so I dropped that concept and tried to think of an idea that would incorporate some of those same themes, but in one image rather than two. In the final drawing I changed the evil corporate master/ruler  into his figuratively true identity of the grim reaper, and the road to ruin and destruction is now a stairway to the mountains of madness. Rather than trying to explain the imagery here, I’ll allow the lyrics to speak for themselves:

The Veil Of Secrecy

The road to utopia is paved                                                                                                                                   With the bones and blood of the common man

On the broken backs of the enslaved

Destiny is shaped by a hidden hand

That controls the fate of all nations

Novus Ordo Seclorum

 

Pull back the veil of secrecy

From this global conspiracy

Expose this occult mystery

On which has formed our history

 

Through manipulation and control

Of the largest corporate entities

The world’s banks and our economies

Entertainment and technology

They regulate our base necessities

Yet somehow we’re still too blind to see

 

Pull back the veil of secrecy

Of this global conspiracy

Subvert this evil treachery

To preserve all life and liberty

 

Rise against those who wish to rule you

Stand and fight those that would subdue you

Open your eyes to what transpires

Crush their system, purge it with fire

 

Down with the Rockefellers

Death to the Bilderbergers

Destroy the Rothschild’s rule

And end the Federal Reserve

 

A Hell Broth of Sonic Sorcery, or The Incestuous Nature of The Capitol City’s Metal Scene

Posted in flyers, Mala Suerte with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2012 by backstabbath

Tomorrow night we’ll be playing at the Taj Mahal of Austin’s live music venues: Headhunters. This place is definitely not for the claustrophobic or faint of heart and even less so on this particular evening, as eight different bands of metallic bent will be piling into this cavernous club with the full intent of out-heavying all other contenders on the bill. If cramped quarters, drunken revelry and maximum volume aren’t your thing,  you are well advised to steer clear. For those of you who can deal with the extremely cozy quarters and ear-splitting volume then checking out this bill just may prove to be worthwhile, as quite the eclectic array of ponderously leaden sounds will be on display. Everything from doom, thrash, death, crust, psych, traditional metal and even some good ol’ hardcore will be represented at some point before the last riff has been played and final shot of liquor has been consumed.

For the uninitiated I’ll give a few brief thoughts regarding the bands on the bill.

Whenever someone asks me about The Blood Royale I always want to say they sound like Motorhead meets Discharge. I’ve never really listened to Discharge so what the hell do I know? I do know that The Blood Royale are oppresively heavy and infectiously catchy and they put on a hell of a show. They play regionally constantly so all of you locals probably know this already.

Curse The Heavens mix up epic metallic compositions with the filth-ridden angst that comes from their old-school hardcore origins and produce a sound that, to my ears, is quite unlike anything else in the Capitol City. These guys have been slogging it out in the trenches here for quite some time to very little fanfare. They deserve your attention and support.

The Well are quite possibly the band most likely to have a derisive eye cast in their direction from the most “cult” and “true” of the metal faithful in attendance, but I also suspect that they may also win over quite a few converts and provide a much needed breath of fresh air to the nights heavier-than-thou proceedings. Don’t get me wrong, because there is plenty of heft and weight to their Pentagram-inspired delivery and the dueling vocals of guitarist, Ian Graham, and bassist, Lisa Alley, are an especially nice touch. Check out their version of Pink Floyd’s “Lucifer Sam”.

Aside from old-school death I am not really much of a fan of this genre anymore, especially with regards to the modern ultra-technical bands that dominate today’s scene. For my money, Entombed, Autopsy, Asphyx, and Bolt Thrower are where it’s at.  That being said, I did enjoy Demontuary the last time I saw them at The Scoot Inn. They played a tight and technical set that was not without catchy hooks. They certainly had the most memorable onstage moment of the night when their Satan-praising lead vocalist quit the band mid-set and threw his beer at their guitarist for proclaiming that “Satan sucks”. Very metal indeed.

I have yet to catch the remaining acts live so I don’t have too much to say, but what the hell…

According to what I’ve read and heard about Witches Mark, they produce a stylistic mix of traditional metal and only the “purest” of its sub-genres . I recently heard their cover of  “Solitude” by Candlemass and I must say that it was not too shabby. I am looking forward to catching them in action

The Cruxiter Facebook page describes them as being “Traditional Hard Rock/Heavy Metal From Texas USA”. Fair enough. I have also heard good things about them from very reliable sources so get down early enough to catch their set. They go on at 9:30.

The ridiculous band name of the evening award goes to (drum roll, please)….ASS! I showed the flyer to a co-worker and she thought the name was cool, so maybe it’s just me. I was, after all, a member of a band called Bukakke at one point fer chrissakes, so who am I to judge? I hated that band name too, by the way. Apparently ASS is a crossover thrash band from College Station. I was weened on the stuff so I will certainly give them a go. Hopefully it’s not the trite party thrash that all the kiddies have their skinny jeans all in a bunch over. We shall have to wait and see…

If you are reading this blog then you more than likely already know what Mala Suerte sounds like so I’ll leave it at that.

After making the above flyer for this show and looking and the bands on the bill I got to thinking about all the performing bands that have shared or do share band members. The Blood Royale’s drummer, John Petri, played drums for Mala Suerte for many years up until about a year ago and he and their guitarist, Tim Corken, played togther and moved from Iowa while playing in a noisy metal/rock outfit called Gutbucket. Additionally, their lead-guitarist, JT Smith, also shares duties in local trio Dixie Witch and Houston’s The Drunks. As mentioned above, our guitarist, David Guerrero, and I were also in a band with Tim and John called Bukakke. We played quite a few shows and even recorded a rough 4 song EP which unfortunately, due in part to shoddy recording quality and the band’s implosion, never saw the light of day. Dave and I also jammed briefly with guitarist John Alaniz and drummer Tony Degon in a pre-Curse The Heavens incarnation. A few songs were written but no live shows or recording ever came to fruition.
Witches Mark stick-man, Scott Palmer, also manned the drum stool for Demontuary and he, together with Demontuary guitarist, Steve Perez, were also in two other metal ensembles together, namely Of The Fallen and Hollow Point. Witches Mark’s  bassist, Andy Gonzalez, will be performing double duty as he also handles the low end in show openers Cruxiter as well. I’m not exactly sure what this says about the state of the Austin metal scene. Are we a bunch of prolific fuckers that have too much creativity to let out, or are we just an incestuous bunch of bickering bastards that just can’t seem to get along with one another? As is usually the case, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Either way, I think the metal scene is certainly starting to pick up some steam and is beginning to produce bands of a more varied and diverse nature than ever before.

Anyway, if you see me at the show come and say hello. I’ll be the thirsty guy at the bar. Prost!

Too much Doom for one room.

Posted in flyers, Mala Suerte with tags , , , , , , , on May 24, 2012 by backstabbath

Thursday, June 7th fast approaches  and I look forward to this date with much anticipation, for we will be sharing the stage with one of my current favorite up-and-coming doom ensembles, Uzala. Much like fellow acts Blood Ceremony and Jex Thoth,  this Boise, ID. gloom troupe traffics in the same sort of Sabbathian riff-magick, albeit with a much more somber and crusty vibe. Where, with the aforementioned groups, their more throwback sounds conjure up images of pagan hippies dancing sky-clad under an autumn moon as the smell of incense fills the night air, Uzala’s brand of musical misanthropy brings to mind things less fanciful and more tangibly corrupted and profane. While the hippies dance the night away in a secluded glen, not far away in the midst of  cold giant monoliths of concrete and steel, the city dwellers go about their daily rituals of misery, dejection, despair, and death. Filth and misfortune reign supreme. One thing that really sets Uzala apart from those two slightly more established acts is the dichotomy between vocalist/guitarist Darcy Nutt’s melodically morose, siren of despair doom wailings and the old-school death metal, straight from the grave and fresh from the tomb gravel gurglings  of vocalist/guitarist Chad Remains. Just when you think you have them figured out, they’ll change gears on you and send you reeling down another crooked path or spiralling out of control and headlong into more psychotic soundscapes of psychedelic sludge. Uzala will be on tour starting today (May 24th) and will be out on the road until June 13th. Come out and help make their Austin stop a memorable one.

Also on this bill is local combo, Communion, which features within their ranks, ex-The Roller drummer, Jeremy Jenkins. I caught them live last weekend and they delivered a short set of very ambient, yet minimalist drone/psych. I look forward to seeing further shows as their sound continues to progress and evolve.

Mala Suerte is teaming up with Uzala for an upcoming split 7″ which is set to be released on King Of The Monsters Records really soon. The Mala Suerte track is a song we recorded quite some time ago with our previous drummer, John Petri, entitled “The Veil Of Secrecy“. Those of you that saw us live before Dave rejoined the band may remember the song as we did perform it a few times. The Uzala track is for a song called “Burned” which I just recently heard the mastered version of, and it sounds absolutely crushing! As a matter of fact, I should be finishing up the artwork for our side of this split rather than sitting in front of this computer so I am out of here. I’ll post more information regarding this release really soon.

March Madness during SXSW…or why I am such an asshole. (Day 1)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on April 12, 2012 by backstabbath

Once again, as Austinites, we survived another yearly invasion of hipster hordes and industry blowhards as they descended upon our fair city with their skinny jeans, man-purses and entirely overblown senses of self-importance. Normally I look forward to SXSW because there is usually quite a variety of different musical acts that I am excited about catching live. This year, however, left me feeling a little bit underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, as there were some good acts in attendance this year, but many of the showcasing bands, especially those of the metal genre, have played here several times already or do so with such regularity that it made it difficult for me to get too overjoyed. In 2010 SXSW brought us Voivod and last year delivered Saint Vitus and Pentagram. So what incredible acts were in store for us this year? Job For A Cowboy, Devil Driver, and Impending Doom! Oh boy!

With all the hype and hoopla that SXSW has managed to generate over the years it seems only natural that the festivities gradually begin to start sooner and encompass more days than before. What used to span only a few days has now begun to take over the entire week and this year it was certainly more apparent than ever. On Sunday, March 11th immediately after band practice, Vincent and I decided, since it was an incredibly beautiful day, to walk downtown and check out the scenery…er, douchebaggery. Seriously, what reason could there possibly be for so many men to be walking around with purses? What could they possibly need to carry around that they cannot fit into their pockets? More hair product and a couple of changes of clothes? Ten more pairs of skinny jeans? My mind recoils in horror at the thought. The only person that has ever looked cool with a purse is Indiana Jones, but he fought the fucking nazis fer chrissakes…and he had to have somewhere to put that goddamn golden Fertility Idol that he snaked from the Chachapoyan temple before being chased by that giant boulder in Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Initially, my plan was to head downtown to Headhunters later that night for the Ossuary Industries showcase, but since my friends in San Antonio sludge band, Pillcrusher, informed me that they had to drop off of the bill at the last-minute, the idea of witnessing a whole night of brutal death metal seemed like more than my already volume-damaged hearing could handle. After walking by Headhunters to survey the scene of black-attired longhairs, Vincent and I milled around for a bit on Red River and then made our way towards 6th Street. Just outside of the old Emo’s location we were stopped by a girl holding a stack of flyers. “Do you guys like metal?”, she glibly inquired. To which her friend retorted, “They ARE metal!” Once on 6th, I ate a hotdog and we decided that it was time to quench our ever-increasing thirst. If we were going to subject ourselves to the onslaught of the hipper than thou throng then many cold libations were definitely well in order. We opted for the decidedly unhip surroundings of the Dirty Dog Bar due in no small part to the fact that there was no cover charge to enter said establishment, but after a couple of beers and several minutes of gratingly mind-numbing modern metal miasma we hastily opted to depart the premises. Next up was Bull McCabe’s Irish Pub. We figured we’d have a couple more brews here and since we were only two bars away from Headhunters it would be the ideal spot to meet up with the two Pillcrusher members that still chose to make the trip to Austin for their label showcase. After a quick text message we were joined by Pillcrusher bassist, Marilyn, vocalist, Beer Reebs, and our mutual friend, Jaylen. Hugs and verbal jabs were exchanged and before long a general agreement was reached to repair to other more happening digs.

Apparently, those more happening surroundings happened to be found at The Jackalope on 6th. This place is a good spot for hipsters and punk rockers to converge and make fun of each others hairstyles, and there is usually a fair amount of lovely young ladies in attendance, though I am far from being hip or punk enough for it to make any difference. After a couple more drinks Vincent decided to call it quits for the evening, as he had to work early the next day, and not long after Jaylen decided to return to Headhunters for a good ol’ ear-raping.  I walked with her back to Headhunters and decided that the $10.00 cover was more than I wanted to pay for a night of blast-beats, buzzsaw guitars, and pig squeals, so I opted instead for the show at across the street and a couple of bars over at Beerland.

My good friend and guitarist/vocalist for The Blood Royale, Tim Corken, was working the door at Beerland so I talked to him a bit before venturing inside. Apparently, since I was too drunk to remember and I was primarily there just to check out the band Entropist, the bill consisted of Immerse, Entropist, Fed of Me, and Adamastor. I don’t know anything about the other three bands so therefore I have nothing more to say about them. Once inside I had just enough time to order a beer and a shot for myself and Tim before Entropist started their set. I believe that this was their second live performance and for such a new band they did a fine job. In contrast to the extreme and unrelenting brutality that was on display across the street, Entropist displayed a much more old-school approach to their death metal and it showed in their very riff oriented style of writing. Vocalist, Oscar Martinez, delivered the death proclamations competently and guitarist, James Hardin, is an excellent lead player, though I think his guitar was a bit too loud in the mix. All in all I was fairly impressed with the band and I will definitely try catch them again at some point when I am less inebriated.

Finally, after Entropist’s set I retired directly across the street to Valhalla for last call. After chatting with my friend Mel over a beer it was time to head out the door. A few people did come over for a bit of after hours festivities before I finally called it a night. It was going to be a long week and I definitely needed some rest. Though, as I expected, I was going to be getting very little of it.

Dark Sonic Rituals

Posted in flyers, Mala Suerte, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2012 by backstabbath

It has been a while since we’ve ventured outside of Austin for any live performances so next weekend we’ll be headed South for a two-day excursion. On Friday, March 30th we’ll be playing at Nightrocker Live in San Antonio with fellow Austin bands Ancient VVisdom, Watching The Moon, and Curse The Heavens along with Venomous Maximus from Houston, TX. San Antonio has always been somewhat hit or miss for us as far as live shows are concerned so if you live in the area please help us spread the word. This should ultimately prove to be an interesting show as all the bands on the bill have quite varied styles and will provide their own separate take on the dark sonic arts.The following day on Saturday, March 31st we’ll be joining Curse The Heavens for our first ever gig in Corpus Christi, TX. at TFC Rehearsal Studios. Also on the line-up are locals, Bertha and Prison Moon from ATX. We are really looking forward to playing for and meeting a lot of new people on this jaunt, so as I stated before please help us spread the word. We’ll see you all next weekend!

Deranged Doodlings: Universevil

Posted in Deranged Doodlings with tags , , , , , on February 25, 2012 by backstabbath

When Maligno bassist, Marco Gil, asked me to do the cover artwork for their second LP, Universevil, I was certainly thrilled, as I’ve never taken the opportunity, with the exception of the Caustic Death demo tape, to provide my own visual interpretation of another bands sonic creation. The band wanted me to create an image that reflected their Mexican heritage and they wanted something akin to 70s-era prog rock album art which would visually encapsulate their lyrical ideas and capture the overall sound and vibe of the music contained within. Marco sent me a package with some demo recordings of some of the tracks that were to be on the recording along with the lyrics to all the songs. For inspiration he also enclosed a small book of  illustrations and engravings by popular Mexican artist, Jose Guadalupe Posada, and I quickly got to work.

After listening to the CD of recordings and reading the song lyrics I began to formulate ideas for the cover image. I began by drawing a small thumbnail sketch which I usually do for most of the bigger or more elaborate pieces that I create. One of the songs on the album is called Son Of Tlalocanso I decided to make Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain, fertility, and water, the central image and focal point of the cover. Though, after a bit of thought, since Maligno is a metal band and since I am a morbid bastard, I decided it would be cool to incorporate Mictlantecuhtli, the Aztec god of the dead and king of Mictlan, the lowest and northernmost section of the underworld, into it is well. As you can see in the final finished drawing I went ahead and split the main figure into two opposing halves, one representing fertility and the other representing death in an attempt to employ the old mystical symbolism of duality and the harmony of opposites. If you look at the upturned hand of Tlaloc on the right you can see the attached umbilical cord which leads to the floating fetus of the son of Tlalocan. On the right half, Mictlantecuhtli is crushing the head of a man in professional attire which is a reference to the song Dirty Black Suit  and it’s lyrical denunciations of  corporate greed, deceitful masters, and “bullshit bastards”. The ancient god of death has returned to reap his just rewards on the the evil conqueror that vanquished his people oh so long ago.

Now, I’m not too sure if this is what the band had in mind with the song Golden Demons  but I took the title as a metaphor for that wonderfully decadent elixir of life which I like to imbibe more often than most health professionals would probably recommend, and added the little gleeful mephistophelean reveler with upturned goblet down in the lower left-hand side of the drawing. Believe me, I’ve hung out with the Maligno boys enough times to know that they are not averse to the practice of consuming copious amounts of the sacred brew, so I feel that this choice of imagery was certainly apropos. Just opposite the golden demon you’ll notice the flaming witch of the album’s opening track The Red Witch. I was pleasantly surprised after initially viewing the video for this track to see that some ideas taken from my artwork were actually included within! For the cover’s background, two flaming suns for the song Two Sons can be seen behind the central figure, illuminating the whole joyous scene. And finally, to tie this album together with it’s predecessor, I borrowed the skull from that LP’s front cover which you can see there at the very bottom. Unfortunately, due to deadline restraints, I didn’t get to add as much detail and shading as I would have liked, but the band was more than pleased with the end result. Ultimately though, the experience of trying to visually capture the aural mood of a band which I thoroughly respect and enjoy proved to very rewarding and enjoyable and I look forward to more opportunities to do so again.

Deranged Doodlings

Posted in Deranged Doodlings with tags , , , , , , on February 12, 2012 by backstabbath

Okay, fellow freaks and mutations, in addition to my miscellaneous mental meanderings I figured I’d use this blog as a platform to showcase some of my various doodles and scribblings. I chose the above irreligious drawing as my first choice for display here simply because it was one of the few that I’ve done that would actually fit in my home scanner. This drawing was done for use on a flyer for a show that Mala Suerte played at Emo’s with Buzzov*en. I can’t really remember what I was thinking of doing at the time but as is often the case when I’m at a loss for what to draw, I consulted one of the many books in my library for inspiration. In my copy of “The Christian World” edited by Geoffrey Barraclough I came across a detail from  Lucas Cranach the Elder’s The Trinity which pictures the Father as ruler of the universe, the Son as sacrificial victim, and the Holy Ghost as a dove. I copied a lot of the basic image but obviously I had to change things around to make it a bit more profane, so I changed the Ol’ Bearded One into Death himself with skeletal hands gently massaging the shoulders of Christ. I also changed the dove into the Masonic two-headed eagle and in keeping with that theme, added the all-seeing eye, checkerboard pattern, and sun and moon symbolism. After looking at both the original painting and my bastardized desecration, I’m not sure which is more morbid.