Hi guys, welcome. It’s a pleasure to welcome yet another killer Canadian band on our pages. How is the band doing after some months since the release of your second album? What will you listen to while answering my questions by the way?
Cheers! We’re grateful for any zine that is willing to promote our filth. Begrime Exemious is doing quite well, and keeping busier than ever. The release of 'Visions of the Scourge' back in April of 2012 certainly kept us busy throughout the year, as we toured West Canada, played some wicked festivals, as well as supporting bands touring through Edmonton. Right now we’re just finishing the mixing process of an upcoming mLP and are working on a couple more songs to record for an upcoming 7”EP. As for what I’m listening to at the moment of responding to this interview, I (being D. Orthner, guitarist) just threw on Knelt Rote’s new LP, 'Trespass'.
Ok, I won’t skip the usual bio question, as Begrime Exemious are still not to renown inside our frontiers. So, I’d like to know how exactly the band formed. Most of you come from other pretty established Canadian bands but, was Begrime Exemious your real first band, or did it start as some kind of “all-star” project? What was the primordial idea and influences when you created the band?
Begrime formed in late 2005 by guitarist (and later vocalist) B. Symic. We all had varying experience in other bands, such as Ouroboros, Death Toll Rising, and Slit Wrist Society. As for me, Begrime was the first “real” band I played in (“real” meaning playing gigs and recording). Anyway, B. Symic got us all together and we aimed to create black/death metal that was really riff oriented. I recall getting a vibe akin to bands like Grand Belial’s Key, Immolation, Darkthrone and Sarcofago when I started jamming with the rest of the guys. At first we were only jamming once a week, but after a month or two of that, we started to schedule more jams throughout the week, as we were all really digging the sounds we were creating. After the first demo, I started adding my influences into the tracks, such as Incantation, Autopsy, Voivod, Carcass, and Order From Chaos, and that definitely became more apparent after I switched from bass to guitar.
After a demo, a single and an EP, you released your first album on Dark Descent, 'Impending Funeral Of man', which received pretty good reactions and comments. Did this recording definitely boost Begrime Exemious reputation across your country? How much did the situation of the band change after that release?
I think “Impending Funeral of Man” helped us get beyond that whole “demo band” stage, as most people are inclined to check out a band’s full length than just an EP or a demo. I honestly think the touring we did to support that record drew more attention to us than the actual record itself. I think if we didn’t rush the recording and mixing of it, it would’ve had a much bigger impact. Alas, some people really dig it. The recording of the debut almost broke the band up, actually. First, B. Symic (who was strictly doing vocals at this time) had already told us he wouldn’t be able to commit to the band after the album due to family matters. Our bassist, A. Rintoul, quit right after the recordings, and then we lost our second guitarist B. Harbak after the tour for that record. I should note that we are all on great terms with each other these days, despite the rushed atmosphere of that LP. With three members of the band quitting, it was uncertain if we’d stay together, but we did manage to get our original vocalist B. Leland back in the band before the tour, a live bassist for the tour, and then our current bassist T. McClellund joined us on a full time basis right after. I’m definitely glad we made it through that turmoil, no doubt!
I'm a bit confused with your line-up when it comes to this new album and current state of the band, as it seems your current singer is not the same person who recorded the album but the one who recorded all your releases except for a n unreleased demo from 2007 which was recently re-released under a split with Nuclearhammer by Dark Descent. Can you please explain us all this a bit?
Ah, yes, our band history is certainly confusing. Our current vocalist, B. Leland, actually sang on our first two demos (the second of which you correctly mentioned was released as the split with Nuclearhammer), but quit at the end of 2007. Our original guitarist, B. Symic, took over the vocalist spot for the next releases as he was suffering from tendonitis which rendered him unable to play guitar at the speed required. As I mentioned before, Symic quit right after the recording of “Impending Funeral of Man”, and we were rejoined by Leland in the vocal department. However, at the end of 2010, he ran into some auxiliary legal trouble which put him in prison. All we could do at the time was write and record what was to be “Visions of the Scourge”. Without a vocalist, we decided to get Symic to lend us his voice as a session musician. I had to handle both guitars and vocals for most of our live shows in 2011 and 2012. As of now, Leland is our fulltime vocalist once again, and you will hear him on our upcoming releases for 2013. The current line up is: B. Leland (vox), D. Orthner (guitar), F. Thibaudeau (guitar), T. McClellund (bass), and L. Norland (drums).
So, focusing on “Visions Of The Scourge” now, I must admit I was pretty astonished with this second album, as it shows a huge step when it comes to writing skills and playing abilities compared to the first one. I still find the same influences basis your first album had but, as I mentioned on my review, I hear some more “exotic” guitar details in the melodies this time which definitely make it sound more personal, as well as more varied songs with Thrash, Punk and Doom influences all over. Your impressions about this? Did you clearly want to write a record which sounded more than ever to Begrime Exemious, with all your different influences and facets?
There were many key differences in regards to how we wrote and recorded both full lengths. The most obvious one is the fact that we had a new bassist and I was the only guitar player on “Visions of the Scourge”. T. McClellund’s writing style was very much in tune with what I was coming up with at the time – tremolo death metal, quick punk and thrash parts, creepy black metal, and some crushing doom. My lead playing got a lot better and I just let myself play without getting really methodical on the actual lead phrasing. Second, we opted to go back to our DIY roots in recording, with drummer L. Norland engineering the whole thing, and myself taking over the mixing duties. At the end of the day, I feel this record was right in line with what we wanted to do, and we let ourselves display more influences throughout.
Could we say this recording kind of summarizes what extreme Metal meant in the late eighties/first nineties, with a current approach sound-wise and intensity-wise?
That is very much an accurate statement. Most of our favourite bands are from that era, so it’s really no surprise. We’ve always wanted our music to sound intense and dangerous, and do what we have to in order to keep it that way. I feel a lot of modern bands forget what makes metal dangerous, and just aren’t very interesting, where as we take what we like best out of both metal and punk to make something that’s brutal and worth coming to see live.
Reading the lyrics of the new tracks I found a very dark and horrific kind of atmospheres which made me think of some Lovecraft like ambiances, with a closer approach to dark and horror literature than some more philosophical/occult/warlike approach we usually find on bands of your kind. Which influences would you mention when speaking of the lyrical side of Begrime Exemious? Does the band still reflect any kind of feelings/ideas connected to the reality of its members?
I’m the worst person to ask about the lyrical content of the band, as I don’t really write much of them at all. The lyrics on the last album were written mostly by Symic with a couple tracks being written by McClellund. We aim to have lyrics that conjure up a similar atmosphere to the music. There are definitely some personal demons released in the words of our lyrics, which just make the vocal performances that much more savage. We’re all into movies and literature based around apocalyptic, dystopian, and overall dark themes, but no specific piece of work has dictated our lyrical direction.
What or who does “the scourge” represent in the global concept of this album, in case there is any?
The “scourge” is simply mankind’s inevitable downfall. We’re scourging ourselves. We do this with politics, media, religion, etc without really thinking of long standing effects. Humans are vile beings that often act without considering consequences. I don’t know exactly what the scourge will entail, whether we nuke ourselves, dry up our natural resources, or just over populate ourselves to the saturation, but we are all aware that this planet is being raped every day, and that it won’t stand for it forever. As I mentioned, much of our lyrics are based on apocalyptic themes, and it’s pretty obvious with all our release titles (“Set Ablaze the Kingdom of Abraham”, “Impending Funeral of Man”, “Visions of the Scourge”) that we’re anticipating total doom.
Do you think a band needs to speak about reality or very deep and intellectually high subjects to be taken seriously? I mean, after years listening to Metal I don't take very seriously bands deeply into plain Gore or Satanism which are just full of topics, and I love to find a good historical, political or occult foundations in bands I like, but the main thing still should be that the musicians reflect the kind of atmospheres or images their music provides them. What's your opinion?
The music will always be the main thing for me, as it can say more than any amount of words. There are bands like Autopsy, for example, whose lyrics are juvenile, perverted, and all around vile. But they fucking rule, and I will gladly be screaming lyrics like “I’m a fucking shit eater” whenever I listen to them. I definitely can appreciate a lyricist who puts a lot of thought and really has something to say, but it really all depends on how they are saying it. For example, say a band is really heavily opinionated on a topic, to the point where each song is a lyrical essay. At that point, I feel that person should try to find a better literary format for that (like a zine or book), and focus on what word combinations are going to catch their listener. Sometimes simple lyrics are so effective because a short combination of words is far more memorable than huge paragraphs of rantings. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s got to be – effective – and to achieve that, one must combine their inner most thoughts with just the right words.
For the artwork of the new album you worked with Dennis Thomson, and I think the result looks simply awesome. I especially liked the fact you used a black and white version of the drawing, which makes it rawer and close to old comics like Conan. Did you prefer something closer to the musical approach of the new recording? Am I wrong if I find some relation between the cover and “The Vault of Ancient Bone & Poison Saliva” lyrics? Would you like to see it released on vinyl to see that cool cover on a bigger scale?
Dennis has been doing artwork for us since the “Set Ablaze the Kingdom of Abraham” EP, and we’ve always felt his art goes hand in hand with our music. He captures that evil, unsettling vibe that our music represents so well. It’s honestly by pure coincidence how well it fits, as we didn’t show him any lyrics. I don’t even recall if he asked us for any specific themes on “Scourge” but either way, he nailed it. We really would love to see this album released on vinyl, which I’ll touch on a bit more in the next question. The art definitely will look incredible in a larger format!
As I mentioned on my review, I have a polarized opinion about the production of “Visions Of The Scourge”, as on one hand I like that raw and live-like sound it has, which fits perfectly with the new tracks, but on the other I definitely think the songs could sound much more powerful and heavy with a different mix/mastering. What’s your opinion about this according to the idea you had for this recording? Will you keep working following this rawer way in the future?
“Visions of the Scourge” is a pretty raw album, and that’s entirely my fault. At the beginning of 2011, I started to get into recording my own projects and friends’ bands, but none were as complex as Begrime, so when it came time for me to mix the record, it was pretty overwhelming. I did my best, and I think it turned out pretty decent – you can hear all the instruments, but the guitar tone is not what I wanted nor am I really a huge fan of it. Since then, I’ve done a lot more recording with other bands, and I’ve read a lot of literature on the art of mixing. As a result, our latest recording session we did just recently has a far superior mix. The drums are loud, the bass is heavy, and the guitars are crushing. It is, without a doubt, the best sounding recording we’ve done to date. With this increased awareness of proper mixing technique, I’ve since gone back to the “Scourge” album and have been remixing it for its imminent vinyl release in 2013. I can’t reveal much about that now, but I know people are going to be blown away at how much better these tracks sound.
The album includes a hidden track which is none but Death’s “Evil Dead”. Why did you choose that song and not another one? What does that band represent for Begrime Exemious's members? And why did you prefer to include it as a hidden track?
Previous guitarist B. Harbak started playing it at jam one day and we ended up learning it. It’s a simple song but it’s really fast and fun as hell to play. We’re all fans of Death (and Chris Reifert, especially), so it just seemed like a cool idea. For me, Death was one of the first death metal bands I ever heard as a teenager, so there’s that nostalgia factor too. We chose to make it a hidden track just to surprise people. It’s not the main focus of the record, but anyone who’d listen to it would find it.
As I find both a Canadian and Australian influence on Begrime Exemious, I’d like to set a choosing game for you with Oceanic and Canadian bands. Please let me know the reason of your elections:
- Sacrifice or Mortal Sin: Sacrifice, as I love the first two LPs and I’m not familiar with Mortal Sin.
- Infernal Majesty or Slaughter Lord: Tough! I have to go with Infernal Majesty on this one, I’ve been a fan for much longer and they just have more material to sink my teeth into.
- Blasphemy or Sadistik Exekution: Blasphemy , the classic Canadian black metal demons. These guys sure blew me away in high school.
- Conqueror or Bestial Warlust: Conqueror, I’ve been a fan for much longer, same deal as above.
- Axis Of Advance or Deströyer 666: Another really tough one! As much as I love AoA, I just can’t say no to “Unchain the Wolves”.
- Tyrants Blood or Razor Of Occam: Tyrants Blood because they are such fun dudes to play with.
- Revenge or Diocletian: Revenge used to jam in our space for a year and are the masters of savage black metal, but Diocletian’s riffs are so much more distinguishable that as a guitarist I have to pick them.
- Portal or Mitochondrion: Both awesome bands, Mitochondrion is one of the best out here, but I’m pretty sure they’re really into Portal, so I’ve gotta go with the Aussies here.
- Antediluvian or Impetuous Ritual: ANTE-FUCKING-DILUVIAN - and not because we share a bassist. Legitimately, they are the heaviest band out here, and bizarre as fuck.
- Radioactive Vomit or Heresiarch: I’ve only heard the latest releases by both bands, and only a couple of times, so I can’t really choose at this point.
Canada always had a small but very strong scene, with bands of unsurpassed brilliance, which was very important in the eighties but lost its greatness during the nineties except for some technical Death Metal bands like Gorguts, Cryptopsy, Kataklysm or Neuraxis and Ross Bay cult. But since some years ago the flame seems to burn again with furious energy and your country produced lots of interesting acts in different genres from Crust and Grind to Black and Death Metal. What's the reason such a generational relief appeared? Do you think it would have been possible if those incestuous scenes like the ones we can find in Edmonton (A.M.S.G., Antediluvian, Weapon, ...), Toronto (Adversarial, Nuclearhammer, Paroxsihzem …), Quebec (Forteresse, Csejthe, Brume d'Automne, Monarque ...) or Halifax (Contagium, Napalm Raid, Concrete Asylum, Life Chain ...) hadn't appeared?
Canada, despite its size which makes touring a pain in the ass, has some incredible bands, no question. There are still some notable releases throughout the years, but perhaps the reason there’s so much more now is due to the internet (easier to promote and hook up shows), and home recording technology. I definitely feel that incestuous scenes are important for kick starting a city’s scene up. Look at Sweden in the late 80’s/early 90’s. You had all these groups of kids playing in each other’s bands, and eventually it just inspired other people to get involved. It’s no different here in that regard. A group of friends make a band or two, and end up meeting more musicians, who create more bands, and you just keep connecting the dots between them all. I love our diverse metal/punk scene in Canada, and it’s only going to get better.
You've been playing live with lots of bands, especially on mini tours across Canada, and it seems you don't mind playing with Death, Black or Thrash Metal bands as well as Crust, Grind or Sludge ones. Is the Canadian scene very open when it comes to scenes crossover and gigs/fests with a lot of styles mixed? What kind of people was more receptive to your music?
First, I love playing with a diverse selection of bands. If we were to play with only death metal or only crust punk bands, I could see that getting a bit tiresome, especially if we did that on tour or just here in Edmonton. Doing this has helped us achieve a wider fan base, as our music incorporates a lot of elements from these styles. That being said, there are still clique scenes within, and people who will only go to shows if it’s a specific genre. It’s really hard to say who would dig our music more, as we’ve played tons of basement shows for crust punks who go off, and we’ve played to festival crowds with metalheads going nuts. That’s good though, that means we’re transcending the barrier.
Before closing the interview, could you please let us know what’s happening next in Begrime Exemious fields? Have you started writing new songs? Any new recording on the horizon? Any possibility to have you on European ground spreading your plague?
2013 is going to be a huge year for us. We just finished recording and are wrapping up the mixing process for an upcoming mLP on Dark Descent Records. It features 5 new songs plus a cover. We recorded some additional songs in that session that will emerge as well. In addition to this, we’re going to do a 7” EP for a new Canadian label called Fuel Injected Records that should be out in the spring. A tape or two may spring up from all this activity - we’ll see when we get there. We plan on touring the west coast USA/Canada as well as the prairies here in Canada. One day we’ll have to get our asses out to Europe and cast our filth out there. We do things in steps and try to make each year better than the one before with each tour/recording cycle. So far, I think we’ve done pretty well with that!
Thanks a lot for your time answering my questions, and good luck for the coming future. Last words are yours.
Cheers, and thank you for an interview with well researched questions! Any readers who would like to get in touch with us can drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We cannot wait to unleash our latest filth in 2013!
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.