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......::::GRETHOR (USA)::::......
Date: 18th, October 2013
(Answers by Anthony - Drums & Marcus - Vocals )

This is a very interesting and informative Interview I made with GRETHOR. a very dedicated and passionate black death metal band from The States. The chance is yours!  

1. GRETHOR Started back in 2007 from the ashes of doom and death metal bands, could you enlighten us about your very first days and how difficult was to establish your band? 

Well, we began with members of the now defunct band Kaemon. They were an old school heavy metal band, and Willy Rivera was the driving forve behind it. He is also the guitarist for the Doom band LORD. The American incarnation, that is. Bobby and I were in a Death Metal band called Deathmask. We were having lineup problems in Deathmask as well, so Willy came to us with the prospect of playing Black Metal that hearkened back to the early days of Venom, Bathory, and Celtic Frost. Mixed with a bit of Darkthrone, and you had our first incarnation. It was raw as hell, and alienated pretty much anyone who wasn't a big fan of that era. We played a handful of shows, and the response was surprisingly good. Our first show was at a place called KC's Music Alley, and we couldn't hear each other worth a damn, and it was waaaaaaaay off time. People came up to us afterward and told us how Black Metal it was and how awesome it was, but we laughed our asses off. 

We did a couple of gigs in Richmond with the Symphonic Black Metal band Cult Of Discordia, but after we recorded, we put the project on hiatus, as Deathmask was sort of evolving into a Black Death band, and Kaemon had been ramping up their gigs and recording as well, and Deathmask was in constant flux before it dissolved shortly after. Bobby and I had been more interested in incorporating Black Metal, or just doing our own version of it. So, we decided to revive Grethor. We had been in contact with Sam Mortenson, who had been the drummer for the local band Apothys, and he and their former bassist, Nick Kuhn, began songwriting and recording with us. Sam's drumming and influence kind of made it more of a post - Black Metal project. We continued that direction, but Sam suddenly quit, and Nick  continued with his career in law enforcement. 

It was a huge pain in the ass. We must've talked to about 5 different drummers, all of them sending out feelers, but none of them committing to it, just deciding to continue with their own projects, which is cool, and commendable, really. So, in 2011 I just put it out there on Facebook, and Tony answered it. I gave him my number and then we talked, and then sent him some tracks. He put some drum parts on it, and Bobby and I were excited because we finally had our guy. So, we began the search for other people. We had been through a lot trying to find people, so we wanted to make sure we had the people who understood our enthusiasm to keep this alive. We had a couple of people drop out, but around the fall of last year we finally had it solidified with Andy McComas on rhythm guitar and Nick Rothe on bass. This is the lineup that has taken us further than we had gone before, and helped us form the sound we really envisioned. 

Whew. That was long.   

2. I have read you defined a solid line-up only until 2012, did the several line-up changes affected your regular evolution?

Yes. Our original incarnation was just raw. We had the stage names and corpse paint as well. Nothing like that was around here at the time. We liked it that way. In 08 - '10 we were a bit more post - Black Metal, it was just what came from the members we had, their influences were heard in that sound. 

From '11 on, the more aggressive elements were added in. Bobby and I listen to Thrash and Death Metal as well, so we don't really care about following a textbook on Black Metal. 

3. You play a sort of raw black metal with a dose of dirty death metal riffs and some funeral elements. What is the best way to describe your music and compositions?

If someone were to ask if it is Black Metal, we would say yes. If they asked us if it were Death Metal, we'd say yes. 

So much has already been done. And done well. Black Metal is evolving, and the purists that were the sort of guardians of the fanbase are sort of being weeded out. The bigotry that American BM had been facing is fading away as well. Part of any evolution is the melding of influences of other genres. Any great art is a result of that cross - pollenation. 

We don't create music in tribute of the band we listen to, and we listen to so many genres of it. I know I love early In Flames and the old Gothenburg scene, not just Black Metal, though it probably comprises 60%of my metal collection. Oh, and I know we all love Portal and Gorguts as well.

I dunno, man. I think we just wanna create provocative music while still kicking ass. 

4. Let´s concentrate in the lyrical aspect and concept of the band, you seems to be very atttacted by cosmic/astrological science, aside from other concepts such as fantasy and science fiction. Could you explain us more in detail about this?

I write the lyrics, and I tend to write about whatever I am thinking of at the time. I grew up in a Mormon family, and the Mormon outlook of the world was never something I had felt a part of. I never really believed it, so when I was on my own, I completely freed myself of it, and never looked back. 

I have always liked science fiction. I grew up on comic books and Star Trek. In fact, our band name is derived from Klingon lore. That was Bobby's idea, by the way. 

It is their Niflheim, and Fek'lhr is their Loki. In Star Trek, society has learned that the only way to continue the human journey, they must come together and unite for the common cause of that progression. Capitalism, religion, and nationalism are viewed as selfish and destructive forces in human nature, and the causes of endless war. Man must seek the stars. He must become a part of a greater universe. He must rid himself of the notion that an invisible hand that guides him and the narcissistic belief that some sort of superbeing has this plan exclusively for each individual, and forsakes the desires and survival of other humans because they are somehow lesser beings. 

In essence, this was how I began to view religion, and began to understand many of the people who subscribed to this idea of exceptionalist ego. They were somehow chosen, so they had concluded, out of their own Calvinistic (and even xenophobic) view that they were somehow superior people, worthy of god, and anyone else was filth, or subhuman. Fear becomes the governing instinct. Fear of other processes of thought, and the shutting out of critical thinking. In American politics, which is muddled with religious zealotry, this is evident in modern neoconservatism. And, to round out my critique, I will also say I have heard its paranoia in some other metal musicians of late, which I wish they would rid themselves of. It leads to totalitarianism. Period. 

Now, the other aspects are influenced by books I had read when I was younger, and they run the gamut of Sigmund Freud, Frederic Nietzche, Charles Darwin, and Carl Sagan. These were the building blocks of human understanding, of superconsciousness that people are just beginning to accept, not just a 2, 000 yr old book. 

My lyrics are also a sort of observation of what I see in American society now. I hear Metal bands all the time saying they don't welcome sociopolitical lyrical influence. They are already hypocrites. They are also terribly misinformed. Slayer, Metallica, Testament, and many of the bands before us took those stances. They were influenced by the California punk scene, and over on the East Coast the punks and metalheads weren't united in the 80's, and the snobbery sort of continues now, on both sides. 

When you take a stand against a public institution like religion, you take a political stance. That doesn't mean you have to say in your lyrics "Hey, fuck you, Tea Party!". No, you can make it relate to many different things. For instance, a society that fears and crucifies its intellectuals is not a worthy one, which is what I wanted to convey in "Hypatia", and that attitude had her killed. 

We will only achieve greatness when we free ourselves of our fears of the unknown. The stars await us. 

5. Are you planning to release some full length soon? Got a positive feedback to your EP so far?

Oh, yeah. We have. I credit Bill and Johnn for their work in recording and mastering us. Johnn made sure we had an edge, the guitars like buzzsaws, and it's polarizing. It is a great foundation to the notion that we will not follow a set of rules. 

And, yes, we are writing material for the full length. We are taking our time, not too much, but we want to make sure we push our ideas forward. We want to set ourselves apart. We want to stick out. 

6. Your music, in my opinion, is very suitable as a soundtrack for a film, so if there would be the case, what kind of topic it would be and tell me if you have been thinking on making some video clip anytime?

Man. Yeah, we are heavily influenced by film soundtracks. John Williams, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, Henry Mancini, etc, etc. Oh, and Basil Poleidoris's "Conan The Barbarian", of course. They help the filmmaker tell his story, they are the stories on their own. I love film, I am still pretty heavily involved in it myself. 

Yeah, I have been talking to my filmmaker friends. Many of them don't listen to metal, but their perspective due to that is actually welcome, their notions of the music is not preconceived. I always think of a post - apocalyptic society that must reforge itself when I think of theme the would encapsulate it. The idea of destroying itself to begin anew. That might be a bit expensive to produce, though. 

7. What could you tell us about your live shows, is there serious opportunities to play concerts in your area? What about the local scene?

There are a few. We have been impressed with local support, really. We have played with a lot of good bands, and I couldn't be happier with what we have evolved into as a scene. I think the attention to the area will shift. There is a lot of good metal here, and the support is fiercely loyal. Yeah, there are the more elitist venues like 9:30 ( Yeah, I said it) or the Birchmere, or Wolf Trap, but the metal shows have constant draw, and a growing fanbase in smaller venues. DC used to be a punk haven, but extreme metal seems to have taken over. 

8. Before of the end, could you mention some of your fave albums you have been listening lately?

1) Vallendusk "Black Clouds Gathering" 

2) The Forsaken "Beyond Redemption" 

3) Portal "Vexovoid" 

4) Gorguts "Colored Sands" 

5) Enthroned "Obsidium"

9. Ok guys, that's all for now. The last words is yours.

ANTHONY: Thanks for having us. A big thanks to everyone who have supported us in any way, shape, or form. Visit us at grethor.bandcamp.com and we hope you enjoy the blasphemy.

MARCUS: We appreciate the support and actually welcome the attention we have been receiving of late. It has been hard work and sometimes even attrition it bring you this music, but it just keeps getting better, and we are only beginning the sort of crusade it has become. Thank you very much for your support.

 

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