Birds Of A Feather Sing Death Metal Together
Band Photo: Hatebeak (?)
The following article has been written for SFGate.com:
They are Blake, Mark and Waldo. A couple of years ago, they got together and formed a heavy metal band. This spring, they released their first record, "Beak of Putrefaction."
Blake and Mark play guitar and drums. Waldo provides the ear-bleeding screeches and satanic-sounding growls. A heavy metal prodigy, Waldo is only 15 years old. That's not all. He is also covered with feathers.
Meet Hatebeak, the world's first death metal band whose lead singer is a parrot.
Blake and Mark are Baltimore-area audio engineers in their 20s who prefer not to reveal their last names ("for the mystery, you know," explains Blake). After they came up with the idea for Hatebeak, a fellow metal lover and bird owner provided Waldo, a Congo African Grey.
How Waldo's vocals are integrated with Hatebeak's paint-peeling guitars and frantic drumming is a "trade secret," said Blake. However, one could reasonably surmise it begins with setting up a microphone in the bird room and hoping for the best.
Hatebeak does not tour. "We don't play live," Blake hastened to reassure his interviewer. "It would be absolute torture for the bird to experience decibels at those levels."
So, Hatebeak is a studio project only, in the tradition of Steely Dan except with unintelligible lyrics and no melody at three times the volume.
Blake will allow that "Waldo is the only vocalist for Hatebeak. He does parrot noises and also says some words."
Of course, those words are obliterated in the final product, with Waldo being a heavy metal parrot.
When he isn't recording, Waldo enjoys whistling "The Andy Griffith Show" theme song and mimicking a ringing telephone.
A tribute album, sort of, "Beak of Putrefaction" features three parrot- fronted songs on a clear-vinyl 45. The title cut is a nod to the Carcass classic, "Reek of Putrefaction." "God of Empty Nest" is named after Morbid Angel's "God of Emptiness." The third song is a bonus track called "Seeds of Destruction." The flip side contains two instrumentals by a human-only band called Longmont Potion Castle.
"Putrefaction" is moving briskly, according to Reptilian Records, an underground record store in Baltimore and Hatebeak's label. The first 500 records already have been snapped up by an adoring public, or at least lots of people with $5 to spend on a bird singing heavy metal. A second pressing, is also flying off the Web site (www.reptilianrecords.com/reptilian/hatebeek.html), according to Reptilian Records chief executive officer ChrisX.
"When the idea for Hatebeak hatched, I admit I was skeptical," said ChrisX. "But now that it has taken flight, I believe Hatebeak will soar to new heights, making Waldo the parrot as popular as all the other birdbrained pop stars out there." ChrisX described Hatebeak's style as "nest crushing."
Critics agree. The Aquarius Records new-arrivals list called Hatebeak "furious and blasting death metal." The "evil squawks" are "completely and stupidly brilliant."
Chris Okon of San Francisco, a cockatiel owner and Hatebeak fan, described the group's sound as "a jackhammer being ground in a compactor." She likes that "the artists seem to respect the ancient, raptor-reptilian roots of parrots."
Pretty heady stuff for a band just starting out. But don't expect Blake, Mark or Waldo to sit around preening. (Well, maybe Waldo.) Not ones to rest on their eggshells, they already are hard at work on a second record, this one with a group called Caninus, whose lead singers are dogs.
"I have met the Caninus people, and they are very nice," said Blake. "Caninus is very pro-animal rights. However, I've never met the dogs."
Eventually, Hatebeak hopes to record enough songs to fill a CD. In the meantime, the band is not trying to convey any particular message, said Blake.
"The only goal of Hatebeak really is to raise the bar as far as extreme music goes," he said modestly. "Many bands have come before us and played an extreme form of music, and this was my way of taking it up a notch."
Heaven forbid that Hatebeak should become mainstream, lest the overexposure dull cutting-edge metal. But if it does cross over, you just might find yourself humming along to Hatebeak's latest tune, "Bird Bites, Dog Cries," on the radio someday.
Then, as Reptilian's ChrisX warns, you will not be able to dodge "the talons of hate" of Hatebeak. "You can run, but you cannot fly."
Source: SF Gate
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