Bestial Warlust III
by Niklas Göransson
Power of death, strength from hell: in 1995, Blood & Valour became the anvil on which Bestial Warlust forged a legacy. Over the following two years, amid chaos as intense as their music, the band disintegrated on the cusp of unleashing Satan’s Fist.
MARCUS HELLCUNT: There was a bit of a lull after Keith left BESTIAL WARLUST. Joe had some ideas floating around, but the band clearly lost some of that spark I felt during the “Vengeance War…” era. I mean, I was still excited and wanted to keep going. We recorded a demo that was good but a bit lacking in ferocity.
JOE SKULLFUCKER: I think Phil – or Fiend of the Deep – had only been on bass for about a month before we recorded the demo in early ‘95. He’s such a professional that he nailed it straight away. And Jordy Battleslaughter did a good job too, but maybe we didn’t have the same guitar chemistry as KK and I. Battleslaughter came from a death metal band that sounded quite far from what we were trying to do.
The band’s new bass player, Fiend of the Deep, had previously played with classic Aussie thrashers HOBBS’ ANGEL OF DEATH. Replacing KK Warslut on guitar was Jordy Battleslaughter from ENTASIS – the same band BESTIAL WARLUST poached Hellcunt from a year earlier.
DAMON BLOODSTORM: Every member of ENTASIS got stolen by other bands. The vocalist joined BLOOD DUSTER and Hellcunt and Battleslaughter went to BESTIAL WARLUST. The main dude got really angry – the poor fucker had no band anymore. In fact, he was so upset that he quit playing music.
HELLCUNT: Actually, he’s been talking online recently about reforming the band. It’s like, ‘Nah, not gonna happen, mate.’ The reason why Tony left ENTASIS for BLOOD DUSTER and I for BESTIAL was because we were given an ultimatum: one band or the other. So, I said, ‘Well, fuck you then.’ Tony made the same choice. As did Jordy.
BLOODSTORM: There was a different vibe after KK left, but we were back on track – headed in a slightly new direction. The main core of brutality was still in place, yet the aggressive feel had changed. It’s hard to explain, but his absence was definitely noticeable. Phil was a great friend and had a lot of ideas for how to do stuff; he showed us many elements we could inject into our music to promote that older ‘I don’t give a fuck’ feel. Still, it wasn’t the same journey.
HELLCUNT: Yeah, it felt different. But with Phil and Jordy in the band, things were going really well for a while. Phil was great – he’d been in heaps of bands before. MASS CONFUSION, HOBBS’, and so on.
SKULLFUCKER: I took a year off work to write all the music for our second album; that’s a lot of income lost. I had to eat pasta and baked beans for twelve months. My trade is as an electrician, but I’ve always considered myself a musician first and foremost. So, I quit my full-time job and went with an employment agency, which meant I could work perhaps one day every two weeks just to bring in some money. I spent a lot of time at the flat in St Kilda that I shared with Damon Bloodstorm. I had a multitrack studio in my bedroom, so I could come up with riffs and arrangements and then record them. Many of these songs remain unreleased to this day.
BLOODSTORM: Skullfucker wrote a lot of riffs at home. We practised in the lounge room while drinking beers. Once we were drunk, Joe would record the riffs on his four-tracker. We’d listen and say, ‘Oh, we should change that.’ So, you could say that I had a lot of involvement in creating those songs. He’d present a riff, and I’d say, ‘Nah, let’s do something better’ or ‘something more like this’. Joe wrote lyrics, I’d write lyrics, and then we put ’em all together. I used to work on vocal arrangements, structuring the words to fit the song better. I did a lot of lyrics with him but never got any credit – but who cares, right? Who gives a shit.
SKULLFUCKER: Hellcunt lived fifty kilometres away from us, so I would record two rhythm tracks and guitar leads and then send him the tape via post. After he’d listened, we met up – often alone – to rehearse and get the material down. Then, we’d gather the whole band and hammer out the song with the lyrics. That’s how the writing process took place.
“Blood & Valour” was recorded at Studio 001 in August 1995. The riffs are similar to its predecessor, but the constant slides and bends coupled with an ultra-distorted guitar sound are gone. It’s also far less droning and shrill and somewhat more headbanging-oriented, with songs like “Legion of Wrath”.
HELLCUNT: That was pretty much Joe’s style and influences. “Legion of Wrath” was intended to be like an anthem-sort-of-headbanging song. That was done purposely. I had plenty of input on the drumbeats on the second album; I felt more comfortable with that.
SKULLFUCKER: Yeah, I cut out some of those chaotic guitar bits from the record, but I’d still like to think there are a lot of licks and other guitar parts. I do like “Blood & Valour”; I think it’s a great record, personally. But it’s not as brazen as “Vengeance War ’till Death”. It’s not as uncompromising and unrelenting.
BLOODSTORM: It had nothing to do with Warslut’s departure. “Blood & Valour” was… not solely, but to a large degree inspired by BATHORY – especially “Under the Sign of the Black Mark”. You can hear some traces of early BATHORY, like the mid-paced catchy influences. We wanted something sort of direct but slightly different, and I think we got what we wanted. Some people liked it; others did not.
CHRIS CORPSEMOLESTER: I didn’t keep in touch with the guys once I left Australia. I mean, back then, there was no way of communicating besides hand-written letters. When I returned, I contacted Daniel at Modern Invasion: ‘Oh, you’re not gonna gimme any money, but can I at least have a copy of the record I played on?’ So, he sent me “Vengeance War ’till Death”, plus a “Blood & Valour” CD. That would’ve been the first time I heard it. I didn’t think much of it; I remember that much. I doubt I’ve ever listened to it all the way through.
KK WARSLUT: Musically, “Blood & Valour” was more proficient in terms of songwriting, but it never really grabbed me. Uh, I dunno how to put my finger on it; obviously, I could be biased in favour of “Vengeance…” in many respects. I’m not sure what it is. But even when you talk to BESTIAL fans – people who actually like this stuff – they always go on about the first album. I doubt I possess the musical theory to unravel that mystery, but something was lacking. The production, maybe?
SKULLFUCKER: I’d found a different engineer: Mark Ingram. He was very confident but had a different vision and approach than Phil Pomeroy, who did “Vengeance War ’till Death”. See, BESTIAL WARLUST always recorded live. Obviously, I did my solos separately – same with the vocals – but the rhythm parts were tracked live. Pomeroy was constantly going, ‘No, no! Again.’ After doing the second straight take that was spot on, we’d all look at each other, but he wouldn’t even give us a chance to hear it. On the other hand, if we told Ingram, ‘We fucking think we nailed it’, he’d say, ‘Come in and listen.’ That was a big difference.
How did this affect the music?
SKULLFUCKER: Well, it was frustrating working with Pomeroy because when you have five guys in a studio playing fucking fast death metal for four minutes straight, and then this fucker tells you, ‘Do another take!’ for the ninth time – it doesn’t get better, you know, it gets worse and worse. So, I think it worked better with Mark Ingram. I’m sure Keith would agree, seeing as how he recorded “Unchain the Wolves” with him.
HELLCUNT: I hate recording, full stop. I think the second time around felt a bit more relaxed because we’d been through the motions with the first album. We knew what we were in for. I think we rehearsed more for “Vengeance…” though.
BLOODSTORM: Pomeroy wasn’t a famous engineer, but Mark Ingram had worked with multimillion-dollar pop bands. We came across him off a recommendation. We didn’t seek him out specifically – he just happened to be available. It was a different engineer than on “Vengeance…” but the same studio: same desk, same equipment, same atmosphere. We also had more involvement in the sound to guide him where we wanted it to go.
One of the songs, “Within the Storm”, is instrumental – an uncommon choice for this genre.
SKULLFUCKER: It was just something I’d always wanted to do. I don’t know – maybe it’s a MAIDEN influence? No, wait; I know where it’s from. Before leaving America, I played with a band, and the last person we brought in was the singer. Until that point, we’d been playing all our songs as instrumentals. I liked it because with the music separated from vocals and lyrics, they had to be interesting enough to keep you engaged. And I hope we did that with “Within the Storm”.
What was the point of that fake fade-out towards the end?
SKULLFUCKER: What was the point of it? Oh, man. This is a question I thought I would’ve been asked several times, but I’m telling you right now: you’re the first person to ever ask me about this. Well, the song is called “Within the Storm”, right? And like we just said, there are no lyrics or vocals; you only have the song title. I wanted the listening experience to be as if you’re in the storm, so to speak. After the fade-out at the end, it fades back in – the same way the wind moves, which is why storms are so unpredictable. That’s why it comes back at you. Coupled with Marcus’ work on the china, it’s just a perfect ending.
HELLCUNT: The china is the loudest, most bombastic-sounding cymbal. So, we used that to create a swishy sort of swirl – just to tie in with the storm feel.
What happened to the bullet beat?
– I didn’t use the bullet beat on the second BESTIAL album. Or in ANATOMY. However, I later did a slower version with GOSPEL OF THE HORNS and DECREPIT SOUL. I’ve since gone flat-out with it in VOMITOR – Rob loves it. Hardly surprising, considering how close he and KK were back then.
While far from tame, the lyrics aren’t quite as over-the-top and murderous. Songs like “…’ Till the End” are not especially sinister at all.
SKULLFUCKER: As I recall, I co-wrote that one with Damon. I don’t know… I can’t say he wrote most of those lyrics. Um, I helped out with a few. I believe Damon was credited with them. It wasn’t consciously supposed to be some great departure; we didn’t decide to be less vicious or more vicious.
BLOODSTORM: We were guiding the lyrics in the direction of warrior-like fantasy, such as Conan the Barbarian. The warrior ethos was a big inspiration. It’s not about anything we previously did; we wanted a concept of the self as a warrior, which suited our music much better. We still had elements of previous lyrics but in a more conscious way. So, at the end of the day, it was barbarism.
SKULLFUCKER: “Orgy of Souls” was meant as a continuation of “Heathens” from the first album – like a second crazy and equally debauched ritual. I’d read a book about the Greek god Dionysius before writing “Heathens”, so that was the inspiration. I think I charged the lyrics up a bit to be a little eviler.
Towards the end of the year, Fiend of the Deep left and was replaced by Andrew Necrofiend of ABOMINATOR – a relatively new band featuring drummer Chris Volcano, who played on the demo and first album of DESTRÖYER 666.
DAMON: ABOMINATOR? Great band. Excellent. We knew Chris Volcano very well, and Andrew was their guitarist. I asked him, ‘Look, would you like to play bass?’ So, Andrew came over to our flat – he lived just down the road – and learned all the songs in one day. But he was also still doing ABOMINATOR. BESTIAL was a good way to get Andrew more exposure because no one knew him back then. He wrote some fucking killer songs and riffs; he was a good inspiration to us as well.
The year before, ABOMINATOR had released their first demo, “Barbarian War Worship”. Some would argue that the material sounds like a catchier version of “Vengeance War ‘Till Death”.
SKULLFUCKER: Um, I would say there are definite influences. But he’s got his own style, Andrew from ABOMINATOR. Yeah, that would be my answer.
With this line-up, BESTIAL WARLUST played Metal for the Brain – an annual festival in the nation’s capital, Canberra.
SKULLFUCKER: Oh, it was great – huge turnout. Metal for the Brain was organised by someone from ARMOURED ANGEL. They actually asked us to headline, but we declined. After discussing it as a band, we swapped places with DAMAGED and played second to last so we could have a drink and party afterwards. I think that’s the only time BESTIAL WARLUST played in Canberra.
HELLCUNT: Metal for the Brain was the biggest underground festival that Australia has ever had; it usually got about two thousand people, and that’s pretty big by Aussie standards. We got a shit review from that one, though.
BLOODSTORM: I’d say it was another show where a lot of people didn’t know us and weren’t expecting what we did. Like, ‘What the fuck is this?’ But many who were there could get into it.
A few weeks later, BESTIAL WARLUST recorded the song “Beerz and Blood” for “Headbangers Against Disco Vol. 1” – a split EP with SABBAT, GEHENNAH, and INFERNÖ.
SKULLFUCKER: I was approached by Primitive Art Productions from Sweden about appearing on the split. Then I asked the rest of the guys, and we decided to do it. Remember how I mentioned earlier that I had a multitrack studio? That’s how we recorded it – which was not a good move. I wasn’t at all happy with my efforts. Still to this day, I wish we’d spent a few hundred dollars on a professional studio.
BLOODSTORM: We did it at home on Joe’s four-tracker. The guitars were recorded in his bedroom, the drums in another room, and my vocals in the lounge. What? Nah, the neighbours didn’t say a word. Down next to us lived a bunch of crazy lesbians who didn’t know what the fuck was going on. And below us were some other losers, so I guess it didn’t bother them. But yeah, we did it and then mixed everything. We had to do it sneakily, without Modern Invasion finding out, which meant we couldn’t promote the split once it was out.
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