Defenders of the Faithless

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Acheron is one of those bands that has been making quality death metal for a long time, yet has remained far underground. Whether due to the overtly Satanic/anti-religion themes – which I find odd, considering that this is death metal – or vocalist Vincent Crowley’s sometimes controversial views and comments (or, rightly or wrongly, the interpretations of such), Acheron has never gotten the level of acclaim that its peers have, yet continues to give the fans what they want. The Final Conflict: Last Days of God has been a long time coming, but it has been worth the wait. Released on Displeased Records, the album is proudly rooted in the old school with an organic sound (from Bill Korecky), beefy riffs, strong arrangements, and a songwriting approach that is pretty damn catchy (in a death metal sort of way). I spoke to Mr. Crowley by phone, but failed to ask him whether he rode his white horse or spoke to the dead. It’s still a good read though, helped in no small way by the guy’s affable nature and willingness to leave it all on the table.

It’s been six years since the last album. What’s been going on? Why the long period between releases?

Well, what happened was we were actually set. We just signed another contract with Black Lotus and we got the deal worked out and we were scheduling to record this album. That was like a little over five years ago. We were ready to go into the studio. Then they sent out a mass e-mail to all their bands saying they’re out of business and just went bankrupt and you guys are out of your contracts so you’re free to look elsewhere. Kyle [Severn] being in Incantation too… We just got to the point – and I’d been to that point before – where you just get sick of the industry. I don’t want to be in this for a business; I want to be in it for the music and enjoying making it. So we just said “Fuck it, let’s just do some shows and not worry about a label.” We did some shows where we played the entire Rites of the Black Mass album, the first one, live. We just kind of got lost in the time and kind of procrastinated a long time. Even getting the Displeased deal was all kind of a fluke because I had gotten a mass advertising e-mail and I remembered that label from back in the day too and was wondering if they’d be interested. I just sent them a fuckin’ e-mail saying we’re looking for a new label and would they be interested. Then boom! They jumped on it right away so we went with that. We weren’t looking for labels; it just kind of came to us by accident.

Were you involved in any other projects other than Acheron or anything in music to keep you busy?

We were doing the Wolfen Society thing, but that was prior; we hadn’t done shit with it since then. We’ve been just doing a lot of writing and shit like that. But as a band, no. It’s not like we practice several times a week or something. We get together on the weekends to practice and work on stuff, just trying to get back in the frame of mind of wanting to do this again and we finally did, so now we’re just going for broke.

A lot of these songs you’ve had for a while then; and of course “Blood Oath” is a re-recording.

Yeah. Actually half the album was written when I was still back in Tampa and that was 10 years ago. I get people saying “Man, you’ve got some old school feel.” I hope so, I wrote half of them 10 years ago [laughs]. But it’s just been a procrastination thing. When we did the last album, Rebirth, we just decided to write stuff from scratch instead of taking stuff I had already written. So this stuff has been on the backburner for a while and we were real anxious to get it out.

You’ve enlisted Ash Thomas too, who is a great guitarist and his work with Estuary is phenomenal.

Absolutely. He’s not actually a member, but he helped on the album and he actually filled in for our second guitar player to do some shows and when we went to Brazil he filled in too. He worked out so well so we said “Dude, you know most of these songs on the album. Do you want to play on the album?” And he was all for it. It worked out really good. He’s a killer guitar player! He’s very professional too. Out of all the albums I’ve ever recorded I have to say that this album went the smoothest and is the tightest we’ve ever done.

You can hear that. It sounds great too. Bill Korecky’s production is so natural, as it always is.

He did a great job with that for sure.

How was the experience in Brazil? South American death metal fans are some of the best in the world.

We got kind of lucky because we got to play with Grave and they’re one of my favorite death metal bands. We were supposed to do three shows and ended up doing two because our plane got fucked up in New York. But the two shows we played went really well and the guys from Grave are great guys and we had a really good time.

There is something about those Latin American fans. They are serious, serious fans of true death metal.

All the Latin countries, man, it seems like the spirit is always there. They’ve got the same hip hop shit here and there, but in the States it seems like whatever is the fad is dominating and we metal people are kind of like in the cracks. Over there you walk down the street it’s not uncommon for you to see someone with an Emperor shirt or even a spiked wristband or something. It’s pretty cool.

Incantation just flew down there to play at a fest in Columbia.

It’s funny because Kyle did that show with them and they hadn’t practiced and Kyle said everything just clicked over there. I was like “You guys have some balls to play for 2,000 people after not even practicing.”

This is a concept album. You wrote the story of it in the booklet, the final battle where the three major white light religions finally meet their demise.

I wrote a lot of these songs before, but I had the concept right after we did the Those who have Risen album, which came out in ’98. So this concept has been a long time coming. A friend of mine said that with all the shit happening today that you should have recorded it back then and people would be freaking out now [laughs]. It’s like the [Wolfen] Society has been around since the beginning of organized religion and everybody gets a little bit of power so not just one religion takes over, but it gets to the point where these religions are getting too out of hand, so they have to manipulate the slaughter of each of them by their own hand, while they sit back and wait for the deal to be sealed so they can take the reins. But as far as the concept thing goes, I’ve always admired King Diamond for that. To be able to tell the story and keep it going and maintain it with the music without it sounding forced. What I tried to do with this album is that all the songs can be listened to by themselves, even though they’re all part of the story. You don’t have to have the other songs to enjoy a single song.

I recently read a review in a major metal magazine that ripped the new album, saying that the Satanic lyrics were stupid, while not spending much time at all discussing the music. But this is death metal, right?

That’s what you get sometimes. You get some people that say the lyrics are weird or stupid and you get some people that say these are totally out of control. It depends on who is listening to it, what they’re into, what their beliefs are. Usually when people are ripping on the lyrics they’re not really into that kind of shit anyway. I know for a fact that as the writer that I put time into the concept and if somebody wants to make a comment like that it’s fine, but as far as reviews go I couldn’t give a fuck about it because I’m recording the music for the people that buy the albums, not the people that probably wouldn’t even listen to them in the first fuckin’ place. A lot of those people are too busy being up Dimmu Borgir’s ass. I really don’t give a fuck. I’ve seen reviews that link me to the Church of Satan. Well guess what asshole, I haven’t been a member of the Church of Satan for fuckin’ 10 years, so nice job doing the research on your review [laughs].

You’ve had some issues over the years with symbolism and misinterpretations of the lyrics.

Well, we like to instigate a lot of stuff. We’ve always used symbols that aren’t politically correct or whatever. And I’ve always said I don’t give a fuck about politics and I don’t discriminate; I think everybody’s a fuckin’ asshole. Don’t call me a racist and if I want to use certain symbols on a shirt, fuck you I will. It’s Satanic supremacy, not white supremacy and stuff like that. I just don’t like to follow those guidelines where everyone is so fuckin’ afraid to not stay within the lines.  I think it gets to the point where these symbols are just symbols of like power or death or destruction, warfare, and chaos. That’s all, and a lot of fans never get so deep into the whole political aspect of it anyway.

I know you get inundated with these questions, but since you touched on it, I’ll follow up. Ever since you left the Church of Satan you’ve basically considered yourself heathen, rather than Satanic.

Yeah, people can call me a Satanist or whatever, but the whole idea of heathens is about being away from the whole white light religious thing and doing something out there. I totally live my life, without trying to, by 90 percent of what the Satanic Bible does. It’s pretty much common sense to me. When I left the Church of Satan there was a reason for it. That’s another thing where people try to make up all these rumors. Basically, the reason for me leaving was that I saw a bunch of fuckin’ idiots on line getting Church of Satan cards, being on these message boards acting like they’re 12 and saying shit about who’s a Satanist and who’s a poser and all that crap. I did not want to be a part of that shit. When it gets to the point where it becomes almost comical, I don’t want to deal with it anymore. Some people took offense because I had a lot of friends in the Church, like I was stabbing them in the back for quitting. I was like “Hey, I don’t have a problem with you guys; I just don’t want to be hooked into any organization,” especially where I’d be representing these fuckheads on line. Some people understood, some people didn’t. After LaVey died and a new surge of members started coming in I wasn’t too impressed with a lot of them.

You basically live a philosophy based on the self.

Absolutely. I’m still very much into the occult, I’m still very much into Satanic philosophies. That’s another thing I would say now that I’ve kind of changed my tune is that I won’t consider Satanism a religion. I consider it more of a philosophy. I know people are fighting trying to make it an accepted religion, but I don’t think they should. I think it’s just common sense, it’s a philosophy. There’s no god, so why the hell would you want to make it a religion?

Getting back to the album though, you make it a point to enunciate the words when you sing, yet it is still a death metal vocal. That’s part of what makes these songs memorable.

I do kind of an experiment on every album. We were in the studio and I was talking to Bill and suggested hat I do it this way because this is the way I feel natural doing it. I get emotion when I do it. So I did a take and Bill said if you want people to believe what you’re saying, then go that route because that’s exactly what fuckin’ needs to be done. Kyle and them came in and checked it out and they thought that’s exactly what I needed to do too because you hear the sincerity; it’s not like your trying to force yourself to sound a certain way. That’s the way it ended up and I’m really pleased with that. Anti-God, Anti-Christ was kind of close to those kinds of vocals. These are a little bit more aggressive than those, but when you write lyrics you want people to understand them. You can sing along with the chorus when you can understand them. I love the guttural stuff and the heavy shit too, but bands I’ve been a big fan of like the old Deicide or old Morbid Angel you could understand every mother fuckin’ word they were saying.

And there is a lot of friggin’ groove on this album.

Yeah, and it’s also funny because when we get bashed in reviews they usually always bash the writing. I have never ever said that we were some technical fuckin’ metal band and if anybody knows me as a person or knows my influences, it’s Bathory, Venom, Sodom, Kreator… My whole thing in writing a song is that the riffs are catchy and memorable instead of all this melodic shit throughout the whole thing, which is alright for some people, but for me I would rather get into the groove or the fuckin’ rhythm than like “Wow, did you hear that little offbeat thing” or some shit. It’s kind of like the old punk theory; write a song with the meat and potatoes that you can get right to and eat. You don’t have to put little spices all over the place. I understand that some people want all that extra shit. We just want to get to the meat of stuff and just shove it down your throat and make it funny that you’re actually humming something like “Godless (We are Gods)” [laughs].

These are still relatively dynamic songs though. It’s not like verse-chorus-verse and you’re done in three minutes either. It’s a balance.

Right, right. I guess that’s where Sabbath has been like my number one fuckin’ band since elementary school. I think that’s a perfect example of a band that can write different riffs and not be too simplistic, but enough to keep your interest throughout the song. With my writing I try to keep that flow, but so there is some dynamics here and there so you’re not hearing the same kind of flow the whole time. I don’t want the whole song to be fuckin’ blasts or doomy all the way through. It needs to be a rollercoaster ride; up and down.

Now that you’ve written the story of the last days of god, what will you have for the next album?

We’re writing stuff for the next album already and it’s just going to be dark topics. It’s not just going to be just Satanic stuff. I have a new song about a blood fetish called “Crimson Heroin,” so it’s not anything really to do with Satan or Jesus shit or whatever. If people are a fan of the band they have to understand that as an artist we’ve got to kind of change up stuff. Some people that listen to The Final Conflict… will say “Oh, they’re still doing the Satanic and blasphemous thing.” But read the lyrics and you won’t read the word “Satan” in anything. I did that on purpose because I want this to be understood that this society doesn’t want religion to basically take over everything. Believe me, I try not to rehash stuff.

If you listened to what everyone else said all the time, then you probably wouldn’t be playing death metal.

Absolutely. But the whole idea is whatever I feel that’s interesting to write about.

Will you be doing a video for the album?

Yeah, we’re doing one for “I am Heathen” in a couple of weeks. A friend of ours has been doing local bands here. We’re renting a venue to do some of the live stuff, then we’re going to go to a couple of other different places and videotape the story scenes. At first the song sound almost too catchy, but it’s ended up being the biggest song on the whole fuckin’ album.

It seems like the last few years the old school has become new again for a lot of people. Old school death metal in particular has found a new generation of fans and bands. I would think that this is a good thing for Acheron.

I noticed on our Myspace a lot of younger kids have been joining up. It’s kind of cool to see a 16 year old wearing a Venom shirt. It’s fuckin’ awesome! Realistically, I’ve always tried to keep updated on the up and coming or the popular bands just to see what the fuck is happening out there. Dude, the last fuckin’ 10 years I’ve not really heard a lot of good shit. It’s good musicianship, but it’s not been anything that’s really grabbed me by the balls. It’s kind of sad with bands out there playing this thing, I guess you call it screamo. Well, yeah, they’re playing aggressive music and I guess that’s cool. But you’re being aggressive and you’re singing about you girlfriend leaving you. Fuck that, who gives a shit? Write it like a death metal band; kill the bitch and bury her in your backyard [laughs].



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