An Interview With Misanthropy Legion Vocalist Joe Aversario
New Jersey based two man black metal group Misanthropy Legion released their first full length album "Eidolon" last year after releasing three previous demos. The band's vocalist and guitar player Joe Aversario spoke with me about his feelings on the state of black metal, fans preconceived notions about the differences among sub-genres, and the new band he is now apart of.
xFiruath: I understand that Misanthropy Legion is currently a two piece outfit. How did the members meet up and decide to form a band?
Joe: We are currently a two piece and we started a two piece. I approached Itay (Misanthropy Legion’s drummer) in 2005 about starting the band, he came in on drums. We only really had several bassists who were along for different portions of the band. Ultimately though we reverted back to two-piece, not for any particular reason, probably mainly because we live pretty close and it was always easier to just jam with two people anyway.
xFiruath: With your current line-up are you still able to do live shows?
Joe: Yeah we’ve done quite a few shows as a two piece that, at least I’ve been told, were pretty good. We just ran my guitar though multiple amps to blow up the sound a little. Playing with one other guy in a band is actually pretty sweet though, there’s never a fear of having to listen around for mistakes because there’s only two of us.
xFiruath: How has the reception been for your music in the local area, and what is the black metal scene like there overall?
Joe: Super average, no black metal scene exists there. I like to think we’re a pretty blendy band as far as black metal, but there aren’t even any average bands around to even notice the difference.
xFiruath: I’ve seen several reviewers use the phrase “New Jersey Black Metal” to describe your sound. Is this a phrase you guys use to describe yourself, and how exactly is it different from any other type of black metal?
Joe: We literally just called it that for no reason. We figured geographic description gives people an idea where the sound is coming from, we live in central jersey so it was a semi/moderately logical tag. I would say NJBM, as it is reflected through Misanthropy Legion, is different from other black metal because we stopped taking ourselves way too seriously. Even if our music is fucking super misanthropic and extremely abrasive, doesn’t change the fact that we’re pretty mellow, sociable guys. It’s stupid to pretend to be all fucking anti-social and depressed and dark and all the other horseshit that people associate with black metal. We’re fucking depressed guys a lot of the time too, but I don’t know about you, but depression fucking blows so we actually try to not be depressed, which is another thing that makes Misanthropy Legion and NJBM different, by being social and engaging people. It’s no fun to play a show to a crowd full of people and say nothing to them.
xFiruath: Tell me about the recording for “Eidolon.” Where did you record and was it a self-produced album?
Joe: Eidolon was sweet, we see it as the crown jewel of Legion because it’s got songs that were written throughout a huge time period, so it was a cool thing for us. Recording was really cool, we laid down the drums with our buddies in A Lesser Evil, at A Lesser Evil studios, and then I recorded the guitars, bass, and vocals through Itay’s setup. We self-produced and self-funded it, but we ran out of money so it’s not technically available yet. Although if you ask nice we’ll probably give it to you.
xFiruath: How is “Eidolon” different from your previous demos you released?
Joe: We really don’t see it as too different from “Alal,” which was the EP we did prior. A lot of my writing is very similar. I guess technical differences though, we finally got good drum quality, the guitars and bass were mixed very well, obviously I would say that, and we didn’t use any effects on my vocals, everything I did was just dry screaming into a mic. My throat did actually bleed too, so I think it’s authentic. We actually recorded all of the vocals in one day, when I think back, 14 tracks, man. Shit hurt.
xFiruath: What do the lyrics on “Eidolon” deal with, and who writes the lyrics for the songs?
Joe: I write ‘em and have always been writing them. Itay’s helped a lot of times though, too. If I could just use themes to describe the lyrical eras of Legion. We went from songs about very cheesy violent things, yeah necrophilia, to psycho depression stuff, “Anti-Human” is a great example, or “Emptiness and Void,” to occult to occult philosophy in a sense. “Eidolon” had a lot of songs about different things. There were some tunes about mortality, nothing in particular about it, just about the nature of mortality I guess, a lot of satanic stuff. “Nymphomaniac” was based off a Thus Spoke Zarathustra image that I tweaked out, “Leviathan Arise” is about summoning the Leviathan to fucking eat everyone. The songs kinda get cooler as we go on.
xFiruath: Now that “Eidolon” is out what’s in store for Misanthropy Legion in the near future?
Joe: Well, we’ve gotten very mixed reviews about Eidolon. We really love it, but I don’t think we have an audience yet so we’re not really pushing for much right now. We’re just gonna let it sit and see what happens with Legion. We started another cool band that we’ve been putting a lot of time into, so in terms of my creative efforts they’re honestly not focused entirely on Misanthropy Legion right now. We’ll probably put something together over the summer though, so maybe lookout for cool demo tracks in the eventual future, if not go listen to Burden.
xFiruath: You seem to have pretty strong feelings about black metal. How do you feel about the state of the black metal genre today compared to when it started?
Joe: I wasn’t really there when it started so I can’t say too much about then other than comparing what I’ve read to now. I think early black metal was one of the coolest strains of extreme metal. Even though there are tons of sweet more recent black metal bands, I can’t take them nearly as seriously as the lunatics who put together Deathcrush. I feel like Black Metal now isn’t moved nearly as strongly by an ideology as it once was. Satanism, sure, but we’ve done that too and it’s played out. I think Black Metal now as a scene is way melodramatic, and I might go so far as to blame the popularization of the internet for causing the costume party to be so popular. I concocted an experiment to test my feelings about the black metal scene recently. I’m sure you might’ve read somewhere about our “hardcore” influence. I like a lot of hardcore, and I predicted a lot of people, just by seeing that tag at the top of our stupid fucking MySpace page, would be turned off by the band. Additionally I expected people to be double critical of the music because of it. Based on what I’ve observed, I see a lot of the black metal scene like this: “A new band is only cool if it passes a number of tests, all can be done through the internet, too, because no one in Black Metal wants to play shows and hangout. First thing is the guys in the band have to have long hair, presumably because guys with short hair aren’t serious about metal? There can’t be any photos of the band members being regular people, audible vocals are absolutely not cool, and breakdowns aren’t cool.” That’s what I’ve observed, and its super lame. The reactions I got to the hardcore tag told me a lot about the mindset of black metal listeners, the open-minded ones liked the experiment and the close-minded ones erased it from the list immediately. So stupid. Honestly I’ve met a ton of really sweet people in and through black metal, and I value the people who are really dedicated to it, but were not gonna take it anymore. I don’t really like having to fit a rigid mold to be taken seriously. This experiment is partly why we started Burden and became traitors of metal; we’re into extreme stuff and like to make extreme music, so why would we want to make it within one genre. One genre isn’t heavy enough for us right now I guess. We play so much louder now than when we started Legion.
xFiruath: What albums or bands are you personally listening to most often these days?
Joe: I’ve been listening to a shit ton of Disrupt this week. I got a sweet bootleg with a ton of recordings off of split 7”s. As far as what I listen to on a monthly basis, it’s pretty much down to Mayhem, Discharge, Sacrilege’s first two 12”s, Absu, Hellhammer/morbid tales era Celtic Frost, old Slayer only up to Haunting the Chapel, Disrupt, Napalm Death, Inquisition, Darkthrone new and old, Cryptopsy, old fucking Morbid Angel , some Pestilence, and a decent amount of Zoroaster. For the record I think “Tara” by Absu is the best 2000’s black metal album. Every song on that thing Is incredible.
xFiruath: That’s all my questions. Is there anything else you’d like to discuss that I didn’t bring up?
Joe: I tried to incorporate it into some of my other answers, so not really. Thank you for offering me an opportunity to rant and make my band even less popular. But seriously though thanks for the interview! Misanthropy Legion is far from broken up, and will most likely make a return, but until then if you like to party and go fast, I would point you Burden.
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