Christgrinder Talks New EP "Smoke Crack, Worship Satan"
With tongues only partially planted in cheek, two man blackened death metal act Christgrinder has now dropped the new EP "Smoke Crack, Worship Satan." Members Baron Von Christgrinde and Cardinal Sinne conducted an interview with Metalunderground.com to discuss the new EP.
Commenting on the lyrical content and themes of the band, Cardinal Sinne chimed in, "I’m a firm believer that the best metal is well aware of how silly metal inherently is.... So where anti-religion crops up in our lyrics, although it’s delivered in a campy, amusing way, we take the underlying theme of the evil of religion seriously."
While explaining how the EP came about, the metallic heathens also discussed combining various influences into a single musical package, getting a crack-smoking pope onto a T-shirt, and the difficulties of finding musicians willing to play death metal in small towns.
xFiruath: Fill me in on the history of Christgrinder. When did the band get together and how do the members know each other?
Baron Von Christgrinde: I started the band on my own, after having written “Angelflesh Tapestry” and recording it in my friends bedroom. This was about 2 years ago now, though I had planned to start my own solo project for about a year before that. Initially I was intending to make a tech-death band, as that was the sort of thing I was mostly into at the time. For quite a while I didn't write any more material, but my taste in music developed, and I started listening to more black metal and crust/grind kinda stuff. After that I decided to change the sort of thing I was going to write, and invited The Cardinal to join. The Cardinal and I have known each other for quite some time now, and we've been in a couple of bands together before. We started a more traditional heavy metal band when we were younger, and over the years our musical tastes have developed together very closely, quite parallel to each other, so I figured he'd be an ideal addition for the band.
Cardinal Sinne: As the Baron says, I was invited to join once the idea of Christgrinder was already fully formed. We’re both from small towns where there are very few metalheads, and even fewer who are into extreme metal, so even if we hadn’t had the good fortune to have played together in bands before, his hand would have been forced into approaching me anyway as I was one of the only, if not the only, local bassists willing to play death metal.
xFiruath: In your own words what does Christgrinder sound like?
Baron: To someone well versed in various styles of metal, or of underground music in general, I'd say that the sound I'm trying to achieve is a meshing together of all the different castes of metal that I listen to. Whether or not it actually sounds like that, I cannot say... While I feel that our debut EP doesn't contain the variety of influence that I'm after, I feel that in future, the Christgrinder sound will contain more elements from post metal, doom, progressive metal, crust, grind, more ambient sorts of black metal and even drone. Or at least I hope to combine those sorts of influences into something to my liking. As for anyone not well versed in that sort of music, I would describe our sound as distinctly unpleasant.
Cardinal: Its blackened death metal. Though as my partner in krieg has mentioned we have a lot of influences outside of just black and death though that are cropping up in the newer songs that aren’t on “Smoke Crack, Worship Satan.” There were plenty of grind-y moments on that record, but some of the newer material has even more pronounced grind influences. There are also doomy songs cropping up; both groovy stonerish Electric Wizard type stuff and funereal dirges a la Ahab and Catacombs. At the risk of sounding like I’m just reeling off a list of genres, there’s a fair amount of blackened folk and thrash working its way in too. Both The Baron and I enjoy most forms of metal, so that comes out in the music we write. Why stick to one genre, when you can weave a richer and more musically interesting tapestry from several?
xFiruath: With a name like Christgrinder I expect it would be safe to say the band is generally opposed to Christianity or organized religion in general. Is it more of a general image thing or is the band focused on anti-religious themes?
Baron Von: It is indeed a safe bet to assume we're opposed to religion. Most of our material so far has revolved around anti-religious ideas, and freedom from religion is something both of us feel quite strongly about, though I don't take these ideas too seriously when I write about it, and I wouldn't say that it is our only focus point for future material.
Cardinal: It’s a bit of both. I’m a firm believer that the best metal is well aware of how silly metal inherently is; angry-man groove metal and deathcore that takes itself too seriously is kind of pathetic, so a lot of our material is very tongue in cheek. On the other hand, while we aren’t Satanists, we’re both studied anti-theists and very opposed to religion of any kind. So where anti-religion crops up in our lyrics, although it’s delivered in a campy, amusing way, we take the underlying theme of the evil of religion seriously. For example, we have a song called “Opening The Eye of Aisha,” which is about the consummation of the marriage of The Prophet Muhammad to his 9 year old wife Aisha. It’s delivered with all the amusing cartoon violence you’d expect a death metal band to include in a song about paedophilia. But the underlying theme of how horrific it is that Muslims are OK with a man in his fifties having sex with a child because of his “holiness” is also very present. Although as The Baron points out, anti-theism isn’t our sole lyrical theme.
xFiruath: Tell me about the writing for “Smoke Crack, Worship Satan.” How do you guys approach writing new music?
Baron: Initially I had written three songs for the EP, and asked The Cardinal to help me record them, track drums/bass etc. Since then we've written more material together, and I think the addition of his song writing has strengthened the EP greatly. How do we approach writing new music? I'm not sure really... Lately we get starting ideas for something we want to write, which might be a lyrical theme, a particular style or genre we want to experiment with, or even just a song title. Then we present additional ideas to each other and let it go naturally from there.
Cardinal: Most of the time we write separately, bring the music to each other and work on song structure together, then when it’s in it’s final form, I’ll knock out an arrangement in a sequencing program and that’s the final song, but we have on occasion written by playing together in the same room. I’m not much of a jammer though, so it’s rare for me that that feels “right.” Some of our best work has come from sessions like that though.
xFiruath: Who handled the artwork?
Baron: I believe that was The Cardinal and his brother. Except for the Christgrinder logo, which was designed by the great Christophe Szpajdel himself, for which I cannot thank him enough.
Cardinal: It was indeed my brother who created the stained glass window art. We had planned to have something more elaborate and amusing, namely the Pope, sprawled across his throne smoking crack and worshipping Satan, but for various reasons it didn’t come to fruition in time and that’s become the T-shirt design instead. We have the illustrator Sam Skinner to thank for that excellent piece of art. The logo itself was indeed by Christophe Szpajdel. We commissioned him to do a logo for us, and he said he liked our music so much that he’d do it for free. We were really honoured by that, because he’s the man behind Emperor and Wolves in The Throne Room’s logos (amongst others), and they’re some of our biggest influences.
xFiruath: Has Christgrinder been able to play live and do you have any live shows coming up soon?
Baron: I'm afraid we cannot play until we find a drummer, and we aren't too sure if we'll be able to get one anytime soon. While we'd love to play live and we're looking to do so as soon as possible, we're not holding our breath for that first show.
Cardinal: We’ve been offered a lot of gigs, including one in support of (Mick Harris’s project) Scorn, but sadly we’ve had to turn them all down. When we formed Christgrinder, it was a side-project for both of us, and because we never anticipated having to play live, we made the drums as ridiculous as we possibly could. As a result we’ve had a hell of a time finding a drummer. We’ve auditioned a lot, but no one seems to be able to play what they claim they can.
xFiruath: What’s your local metal scene like these days?
Baron: The Cardinal is quite involved in the Birmingham metal scene, which is actually going really strong. I'm not in regular attendance at the shows and gigs around there, but here in Stoke there's a few local bands who are pretty damn good considering the means they have available, though the scene is, in general, quite poor.
Cardinal: We both come from towns, Stafford and Stone respectively, so the music scene is subdued to say the least. There are a couple of pubs in Stafford that are happy to book extreme music, but the turnout is never amazing even with good promotion. There’s a lot of apathy towards live music here. That said the scene in Birmingham, which is my closest city is, as The Baron said thriving; there are plenty of great bands and dedicated venues making themselves known there.
xFiruath: Been to any great or crazy shows recently?
Baron: The latest great shows I've been to have been to see Church of Misery supporting Cathedral, where I was quite underwhelmed with Cathedral's performance, though Church of Misery was incredible. One of the heaviest live bands I've seen. The other was a Wolves in the Throne Room gig, which The Cardinal also attended, and I'm sure will agree was quite a show, if a little bit too short for my liking.
Cardinal: I saw Symphony X in May, at the Robin Hood 2 in Wolverhampton, and that was musically one of the best gigs I’ve been to. The band was flawless. Nothing else on my agenda ‘til Bloodstock in August. I’m really looking forward to seeing Immortal and of course Ihsahn, who’s one of my all time favourite artists. After that there’s Supersonic Festival with Wolves in The Throne Room again and Electric Wizard, and Damnation Festival with Ulver, so it looks to be a pretty good second half of the year, gig wise.
xFiruath: What bands/albums are you listening to?
Baron: Lately I've been listening to a lot of Burzum, since the release of the two new albums. I was concerned that they'd be as poor as the albums Varg released while he was still in prison, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that he's not lost his touch. That and the latest Deathspell Omega album have really been satisfying me in the way of black metal. Been playing a lot of Electric Wizard too. “Dopethrone” and “Come My Fanatics” are two of my most played albums this month.
Cardinal: The new Symphony X album, under my grim and frostbitten exterior I’m a huge prog and power metal fan. I’ve been engineering an album for another power metal band by the name of Dakesis lately, so I’ve been listening to a lot of them; they’re well worth checking out. On the more extreme side of things I’ve been revelling in Cancerous Womb, who are a death metal outfit from Scotland; very tongue in cheek and amusing, and the new Origin album, which if you ask me is hands down the best album of their career.
xFiruath: Are you involved with any other projects outside Christgrinder?
Baron: I'm in a post-rock band called This Sun No More. We manage to play live quite regularly at local places, and we'll be releasing our first EP soon. I've also been toying with a drone/doom/noise project by the name of "Bad Passage," though we're still barely off our feet, and we can't seem to decide which direction we're going to take the music in. Aside from that I plan to start a separate solo project at some unknown point in the future, of unknown genre, with unknown goals or direction... I just feel like I'd like to do something else at some point.
Cardinal: Nothing concrete for me. I do have a few plans, but they’re still too nebulous to be worth mentioning at this point. I often daydream while I’m at the day job about forming a power metal band called Battle-Phallus or perhaps Sex-Hammer and becoming a rock star.
xFiruath: Anything else you’d like to discuss?
Baron: Can't think of anything... Just want to say thanks to everyone who made the EP possible, and thanks to you for this interview.
Cardinal: What he said. Thanks a lot. Also, if there are any amazing and conveniently located drummers out there reading this, well…
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