Sunday Old School: Black Metal History Month Part 2. Blasphemy
Black Metal History Month is up and running once again, covering some of the darkest and most brutal bands to ever lace up a pair of boots. It's a genre often associated with the freezing cold, in part due to the barren tone and unforgiving nature of the music, but also due to many of the genre's most famous (or rather infamous) bands such as Mayhem, Emperor and Burzum originating in Norway, while other bands like Dissection and Impaled Nazarene also hail from cold countries such as Sweden and Finland respectively. Today we'll be looking at another group from one of the world's chillier nations, though this time on the other side of the Atlantic, as Sunday Old School travels to Canada to take a look at what is perhaps North America's best black metal band, Blasphemy.
Blasphemy were formed in 1984 in Vancouver, British Columbia by childhood friends Sean Stone and Gerry Buhl, adopting the respective monikers of 3 Black Hearts of Damnation and Impurity and Nocturnal Grave Desecrator and Black Winds. They were joined in their pursuit by guitarist Geoff Drakes, AKA Caller of the Storms, before adding a second guitar player the following year in the guise of Blake Cromwell, who took on the name Black Priest of the 7 Satanic Blood Rituals. The group started out covering songs by the likes of Sodom, Slayer and Bathory and immediately made a name for themselves when they began performing live, as according to Black Hearts, the show caused a riot in the streets, a factor in the group being blacklisted from Vancouver along with too many fights breaking out at shows.
Despite their fearsome reputation, Blasphemy were able to enter the studio and record their first demo, "Blood Upon the Altar," which was made available in 1989. The demo was extremely popular among the underground, resulting in two boxes full of fan mail, though it was to be their only recording with Black Priest, who was replaced the same year with Marco Banco, who like the other members, took on a (arguably overlong) pseudonym, calling himself The Traditional Sodomizer of the Goddess of Perversity.
After performing a show in San Francisco, California, the band traveled to Los Angeles and Anaheim to meet with friends and buy some music from a company named Wild Rags, who had a copy of the "Blood Upon the Altar" demo, leading to a discussion between the two parties over a record deal. Though Wild Rags said that the band would only receive $1 for every album sold, (the band claims they didn't even receive that,) an agreement was struck and in 1990, Blasphemy released their debut full length album, "Fallen Angel of Doom." Much like the preceding demo, the album garnered an almost universally positive response from fans of extreme music and has been cited as a major influence on the war metal style.
Once again, Blasphemy were forced into a lineup change after releasing a record, first by bringing back Black Priests and then by replacing him once more with Ace Gustapo Necrosleezer and Vaginal Commands, by which time writing for their sophomore full length had already commenced. Not wanting to work with Wild Rags again, the group struck up contact with Osmose Productions, who sent the band thousands of dollars to record their second album, "Gods Of War," which was released in 1993. It was an interesting album, displaying a more refined approach to song writing while also attempting to be even more brutal than the previous release. Since it only clocked in at twenty minutes, most if not all of the editions of the album also featured the "Blood Upon the Altar" demo.
The positive reception of the album and growing credibility of the band led to them taking part in the legendary "Fuck Christ" tour with two of black metal's most respected names, Immortal and Rotting Christ. Following the tour however, the band became largely inactive after Black Hearts caused a disturbance on a plane, knocking out a police officer and being jailed. As a result, Blasphemy didn't perform again until 1999, during which time they also began writing new material, though to date, this has not surfaced on a studio recording.
The band released their first live album, "Live Ritual – Friday the 13th," in 2001, initially on vinyl before a CD release came the next year. Another long period of inactivity followed before Blasphemy returned to the stage in 2009 and have since continued to perform sporadically, releasing their second live album, "Desecration of São Paulo - Live in Brazilian Ritual Third Attack" only last year, sparking rumours that the band are finally ready to record and release new music. Whether this happens or not, Blasphemy remain an important name in the history of black metal, particularly in the North American scene and one which all fans of the genre simply must check out.
Blasphemy - "Blood Upon the Altar"
Blasphemy - "Ritual"
Blasphemy - "Winds of the Black Gods / Fallen Angel of Doom"
Blasphemy - "Blasphemous Attack"
Blasphemy - "Emperor Of The Black Abyss"
Blasphemy - "Necrosadist"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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