Armageddon of Winter of Apokalypse
April 17, 2005 By: Scott Alisoglu
Portland, Oregon’s Winter of Apokalypse
(WOA) had been waiting patiently in the dark, tucked away as Thy Infernal was leaving its bloody wake. When the mighty Thy Infernal took its last breath, WOA lunged and went for the jugular. Released on Moribund (also home to the late Thy Infernal), Solitary Winter Night is a superbly written and ferociously performed USBM album. Taking its inspiration from the old school Norwegian masters, a peerless composite of scalding guitars, organic drumming, misanthropic vocals, and chilling atmosphere, Solitary Winter Night is easily one of the best black metal releases I’ve heard so far this year. Drummer/vocalist Armageddon tells the tale.
Let’s start with the obvious first question, the demise of Thy Infernal. Take me through what happened.
Basically, one of our guitar players got tired of the whole thing and some other things. He got burned out on the whole Thy Infernal thing. We didn’t have a replacement for him and everybody else kind of did their own thing. Winter of Apokalypse was going on at the same time as Thy Infernal. Winter probably started in ’97 or so.
You were jamming as kind of a side project, but you hadn’t recorded anything, right?
No, we did a couple of rehearsal tapes, one of which got passed around and stuff. I kind of forgot about it. I started doing another demo and worked on it with some of the other people I was
jammin’ with. So finally like maybe two years ago, we started doing the songs again and recorded ‘em.
Thy Infernal was basically done and you decided to get rolling with this project again.
Yeah, there is no black metal in Portland, so we decided to do it again.
Was most of Solitary Winter Night already written? How long did it take you to pull all of this together?
Yeah, the majority of the stuff on Solitary Winter Night was written from ’97 to ’99 I would say. There were a few songs written in 2000, so it’s pretty old stuff.
Were you going for a certain style of black metal with
WOA, even in the early years? Do you feel as though you’ve set yourself apart from the Thy Infernal material, musically speaking? Clearly, you wanted it to be black metal.
The Thy Infernal stuff has more thrash and stuff like that. This time I wanted to do more of a black metal album.
Do you expect Thy Infernal fans to like Winter of
I do, yeah. I think that the Winter stuff is more of how I wanted Thy Infernal to be. The headbangin’ parts are still there, but it’s colder and grimmer.
You were going for more of a straight up apocalyptic (of course) and grim approach.
It’s the style of some of the black metal bands that you personally like.
Yeah, all the old Norwegian bands obviously. These days, it’s like Funeral Mist and Inquisition. That’s just what I think black metal should be.
Comparatively speaking, so far how has the experience with the two bands been? How has it differed?
We used to play a lot of shows with Thy Infernal and so far we’ve only played three times with Winter. People seem pretty into it. I’ve never heard anything bad I guess [laughs].
You’ve only played a few shows. Is that because you don’t have the time or you just haven’t gotten
We’re still having lineup issues. We’ve been without a bass player for a little while. We just haven’t gotten a chance to play and there aren’t really any bands up here to play with.
The bass player that split, did he play on Solitary Winter Night?
No, we got rid of Alkoholik. Right now, it’s just Fascist [guitars], Slut [guitars, ex-Thy Infernal], and Armageddon.
The band name fits so well to the music and the overall vibe of the group. Was that a name that came to you pretty quickly?
Kind of. Me and our old singer, Hell, would go hang out in the woods a lot and be writing stuff back years ago. It just kind of popped in my head and just fit.
The album to me is a case of all the elements coming together to make a complete package – the band name, the album title, the musical feel, the black and white cover…
Oh yeah, definitely. I was trying to capture the feeling that the old
| black metal albums gave me when I’d see ‘em or listen to ‘em. I just wanted this to be so focused and so black metal. Thy Infernal had so many other things going on that I just wanted this to be cold black metal.
Who is responsible for the artwork?
My ex-girlfriend actually drew that.
Does she want it back now?
No, she probably forgot about even doing that [laughs].
I love the sound mix on this one. You get a clear mix in that the guitar, bass, and drums are distinctive, yet it still sounds raw and menacing. That’s not always an easy thing to pull off with a black metal production.
One of my buddies has a studio, so we pretty much were able to spend as much time as we wanted on it. Actually, it was in my buddy’s basement. I wanted to get a really big sound - kind of clear, yet still raw. We’re pretty happy with the way it came out.
The arrangements don’t all run together either. You mix it up fairly well.
I want to keep things interesting. When I listen to some bands and it’s just blast beats for like 10 minutes, it’ll kind of put you to sleep.
You maintain that grim, kind of droning vibe without every song sounding the same.
Yeah, that’s what we tried to do. It kinda sucks when you listen to a record and every song sounds the same. We wanted to stay away from that kind of thing.
Specifically, “True Pagan Hearts” is a song that I think works exceptionally well the way it’s divided into multiple parts. You’ve got the first slower part with that creepy clean guitar part that then breaks into the savage gallop and then you kind of slow down again to a stomp.
That’s of my favorite songs too. It’s kind of weird how it worked out. I wasn’t like, “I want this kind of song here and this kind of song here.” It just kind of came together like that.
The statement on the back of the disc, “Pure Fucking Satanic Black Metal,” doesn’t leave much to the imagination as to what is in store for the listener, both lyrically and musically. You wear it like a scar.
Yeah. I just wanted to keep that feeling that I got from the old black metal albums, how over the top everything was. Just a stab in the face.
Is there more to the lyrics on songs like “Storming the Gates of Heaven” and “Black Metal of Death” than may be readily apparent or is it pretty much what you’d expect?
Yeah, it’s pretty straight up. My lyrically approach is pretty self-explanatory. There’s really no hidden meaning. We’ve been writing a lot of new stuff lately and Fascist has been writing all the lyrics, and they’re a little more out there.
What kind of comparisons have you been getting from people?
A lot of people are saying we’ve got the old school Norwegian vibe, like old Darkthrone and stuff like that.
You stuck with Moribund for the release of Solitary Winter Night. I’ve not run across a band yet that’s been displeased with Odin’s work.
Yeah. Even when I first started doing this again, I knew that I was going to do it with Odin. He’s one of the people that really wanted me to start doing this again. Odin is really
You’re happy with the exposure you’ve been getting, the press, etc.
You’re also in Lord Gore and Engorged. You like to mix it up then between the thrashy and death metal stuff and the black metal. That’s versatility.
Yeah, well I like all that shit. Pretty much all I do is drink and jam music, so I get a chance to play a lot of different things. And they’re all with different people. I’m the only link to all these bands, so it’s not completely incestuous.
Are any one of those bands doing more work than the others, like more touring?
Engorged and Lord Gore just got off a one week tour with Impaled down the West Coast and Engorged and Lord Gore are doing the Baltimore fest [Maryland Death Fest]. I guess Lord Gore is probably the most active of all three. We’ve got another Winter of Apokalypse record pretty much written already.
So when are you going to bust that one out?
I’m not sure. I’m going to start demoing once I get back from Baltimore and then we’re going to see what we want to do as far as recording. Probably in the next couple of months.
Really? This one just came out.
Yeah. The music was actually done for a while. We were just having problem after problem getting a cover. And finally, when my ex-girlfriend at the time drew it, we were like, “fuck it, let’s use it.”
You don’t see it as a problem having two albums out within the same year?
No. I recorded some extra songs during the Solitary sessions. We have three extra songs, one of which is going to be on the vinyl version. I wanted to record an EP and put it out right after the full-length because I just wanted Winter to be seen as a force. I didn’t want to be like a one-record wonder.
Once you find a bass player, are you going to try to get out there and do more touring?
I would like to. I’m waiting for the right opportunity to come. Odin is setting up tours right now. We might have been going out with God Dethroned, but I think that fell through. I haven’t heard anything about it lately. We’re definitely hoping to.
How free are you to tour extensively? I assume you’ve all got jobs too.
Yeah, I’m a butcher at one of the supermarkets here in town and they’re starting to get upset with me about my band schedule stuff. When I was getting hired, I told ‘em, so it’s like get used to it or fuck off. If they don’t give me any more slack, I’ll just tell ‘em to fuck off because this is what I’m here to do is play music.