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The Obliterate Plague, Iconoclast Contra


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With so many events and concerts taking up this weekend, I decided that we should so something different. --- Not like I was avoiding any of the major events happening around the valley, but there comes a point where shows get so much press that going off to cover it seems almost lazy because most of the work has been done for you. So rather than do the obvious, we're gonna take a darker turn.


We haven't really done anything with black or death metal in a while, so this past Saturday we hit up Bar Deluxe as visiting Ritual Combat droped into town, backed up by local bands The Obliterate Plague and Iconoclast Contra. Today we're talking with the two local groups, along with more than 150 blood-soaked photos for you to check out over here.

The Obliterate Plague (Clif Davis, Alex Jorgenson and Mike Evinger)


Gavin:  Hey Alex! First off, tell us a little about yourselves.

Alex:  I guess were just a few metalhead dudes creating sick music and perhaps opening some minds with what we are trying to do.

Gavin:  What first got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Alex:  My mother was always digging a lot good bands from the '60s and '70s like The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles, etc. and she always played it really loud on the eight-track machine while cleaning the house. It definitely had a very huge effect on me. At age 11 or so I remember being very inspired by Angus Young from ACDC, who was always running around everywhere like some frenzied schoolkid. I thought it was awesome that he had all this crazy energy. I decided this was what I wanted to do. Soon afterward I discovered great bands like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dio, Kiss, Metallica, which evolved into more extreme stuff like Deicide, Slayer, Death, Morbid Angel, Sepultura, and I just dived further down the rabbit hole of heavy music from there.


Gavin:  How did you originally form The Obliterate Plague?

Alex:  I formed the band with our original drummer Alex Gomez (Yaotl Mictlan, Ibex Throne, The Pagan Dead, Incendiant) around fall of 1999 out of a shared obsession for black and death metal music. I don’t think we had much desire for much other than just playing sick music, trying to pick up women, and getting loaded all the time. Those were my usual activities anyway.

Gavin:  When you started up in 2000, how was it for you playing dark/black metal around the scene at a time when stuff like “alternative metal” and nu-metal were at their peak?

Alex: I didn't really pay much attention to that stuff at the time. I was just at a point where I realized the mainstream had nothing to offer. Instead of listening to whatever was hip on the radio, I would just listen to classical stations. We only played underground shows with our friends' bands, like house shows, desert shows, all ages venues with the exception of a few out of town shows, like Milwaukee Metalfest in 2001 and Denver in 2002, as we were way too young to play the bars at the time.


Gavin:  Over the years, you've had several lineup changes to where now the original looks and sounds nothing like the current. How has it been for you adapting to those changes over the years and keeping the band going?

Alex: I have to admit I have quite an ego problem. It’s not something I am very proud of, but in some cases it has been necessary. Over the years this may have made a few people think I was hard to work with which is probably very true. In some cases, former members worked really well with us and in some cases not. Some people just weren’t able to commit due to work, families, other musical commitments, so they just needed to move on or we needed to move on without them. I eventually became used to it, because after so many different lineups and people coming and going, it finally just got a bit old teaching the same songs to different people. We took some time off in 2008 and 2009 and became active again last year. It turned out not everyone was able to do the band again, so we just decided to keep it simple and remain as a three piece. It's working out fine this way and we are still good friends with all the previous members of the band. There’s no bad blood at all.

Gavin:  How did you meet each other and one by one come together to form the current incarnation of the group?

Alex: Mike Evinger and I have been good friends since the high school. Mike joined the band in 2001, and we met Clif Davis at the end of 2003 when we had a local gig with his band at the time, Incendiant. A few months later after Alex Gomez left the band, Clif joined on drums and we just moved forward right away. Throughout the next few years, we had two different guitarists (Tony Hayden and Jason Heckenliable) off and on through 2004 through 2009.


Gavin:  You've recorded material over the years: Summoning Of The Dark Lords, The Eternal Conquest, you did a split album with SIN... but I read that you've called all these works “unsatisfactory.” Can you give us some detail as to why and what you think of the band's catalog as a whole now?

Alex: Almost all of the material we have recorded has been very unsatisfactory, mainly due to low production value and not enough time and money invested into making a quality product. Summoning of the dark lords  came out decent, but not satisfactory to say the least. For the recordings that came afterward (The Eternal Conquest EP in 2003 and The SIN split in 2006) we weren’t really in a good financial situation to finance recording ourselves. We ended up working with some friends who were willing to help us out for alcohol or very low rates. Being very naive about it back then, I guess we got what we paid for which was basically nothing. As of 2011, I feel that our current material is the strongest that it has ever been. The songs are still very dark, while remaining brutal and intense, which is the way it should be. Our older material still represents something very special for me. It was a time where songs came together extremely fast with tons of darkness and aggression. I think we still represent those same elements today, but were obviously better musicians.

Gavin:  What's your take on the metal scene today compared to how it was when you first started?

Alex: The scene in the states was a lot more underground when we started. No one really took American Black Metal seriously at the time at all. We weren’t really black metal, but we were still an extreme band.  We were all just a bunch of crazy maniacs worshiping  Bathory, Deicide, Mayhem, and Morbid Angel. If I remember correctly, the only bands around were us, Ibex Throne, Yaotl Mictlan, Cynical Eye, Minion, Necropsy and Promiscous from Ogden, and a few others I can't remember for shit. Those were pretty special times.


Gavin:  At last I checked, you were gearing up to record the long awaited full-length album. What's the current status on that, and when do you expect to release it?

Alex: We just finished pre-production for our album Striga Moon, which is about six years overdue. We are preparing to start recording late spring and hopefully have the album available by the fall/winter.

Gavin:  Going local for a bit, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Alex: Seems a lot different and overloaded with hipsters. I guess that's normal. Hipsters don't bother me too much, I just think they are silly. Luckily, there are still a lot of good bands, and I think its killer like bands like Sub Rosa and Eagle Twin are getting more attention. The new Sub Rosa album is great. Doom Metal became really big here, which is pretty weird. I didn't expect that at all. I guess it is pretty huge everywhere these days.


Gavin:  Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

Alex: Eradicate all of the scumbag promoters that screw over all of the bands for one. Seems like a no-brainer, but people are so oblivious that they keep falling into that same cycle of shit. Local bands just get used and tossed under the rug. I believe it’s caused by the flawed social system that just breeds capitalist arrogance, but that is a whole different story.

Gavin:  Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

Alex: I have a really bizarre taste in music that I have developed over the years. I love metal and it’s in my blood, but I go crazy after a while if I am not expanding my horizons. Lately I have been enjoying stuff like Primordial, Sigh, Asobi Seksu, Unearthly Trance, Gravecode Nebula, Yaotl Mictlan, Jonneine Zapata, Virus, Sub Rosa, Evoken, Krohm, Worm Ouroboros, Nader Sadek , Devin Townsend Project and just about anything else that is dark and weird.


Gavin:  What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how its affects local musicians?

Alex: I appreciate that KRCL does good stuff for the local scene here. "Maximum Distortion" plays some local heavy music, and then I hear other good local bands on there from time to time. I know some clubs are trying to utilize online radio to promote some bands. I am not sure how effective it is, but I think any promotion is good promotion.

Gavin: What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and a music lovers?

Alex: Well, I think it has pros and cons. I think it is important to support the bands as much as possible because sometimes they really don’t get a ton of support from their labels and they are sacrificing their art by touring and releasing music. The pros would be that it gives you an opportunity to preview music and not waste money on something you will hate later on. It can also be good word of mouth to spread music to people which leads to more circulation of music to the people, hence sparking interest in more people buying music. Do I care how it affects the music industry? Not really, because it’s just the same corporate douchebags trying to make extreme amounts of money and it’s the bands doing a lot of work and their efforts being exploited. Who draws the line and where? I have no idea. I guess it is just based on perspective. DIY is becoming more normal these days and it is probably the way of the future.


Gavin:  What can we expect from you guys over the rest of this year?

Alex: The band will be coming to its end once the album is done. We have a few other releases planned for next year and then we will have one final farewell gig coming up in the late summer/fall. From there, all of us are moving on to other things. I am not sure if there will be a return for us or not, but the future is undetermined, so who knows.

Gavin:  Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Alex: I’ve been doing a band since last year called Moon Of Delirium current and former members of Gravecode Nebula and Disemballerina. MOD is something I have intended to do for a while as something in a bit of a new direction. It’s more of a limitless approach to music that I have been coming up with the last few years and its turning out to be very exciting. We will be making our first live appearance June 10 at The Urban Lounge for SLUG Localized with IX Zealot and Beyond this Flesh. Clif is has another band Trigon Aion which is a really killer Death Metal/Black Metal band with members of Imprison the flesh and Incendiant and then Mike has a new band with our old guitarist Jason Heckenliable and former members of Mindlock called Blood Purge. Check those bands out!

Iconoclast Contra

Gavin:  Hey LD! First off, tell us a little about yourself.

LD:  What to tell you about myself? Well I’m an asshole, a big one, more so than most. Ask anyone around town! I have a shitty reputation with the right people and a good reputation with the wrong sorts. I’m an audio terrorist, not a musician, and I hate just about everyone I know and don’t know for that matter.

Gavin:  What first got you interested in music, and who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

LD:  I was interested in music and more specifically the guitar at a very early age, as far as I can remember. I have a wide, varied taste in music but predominately I have planted my flag in the underground extreme metal spectrum, playing mostly black metal but also some death, thrash and doom metal. Growing up the albums that I listened to and formed a lot of what I wanted to do range from stuff like Death - Scream Bloody Gore, to Morbid Angel’s Altars of Madness, Slayer – Hell Awaits, Celtic Frost – Morbid Tales, Venom – Welcome to Hell, Bathory – Blood Fire Death, Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Beherit – Drawing Down the Moon, Darkthrone – A Blaze in the Northern Sky and Sarcofago – INRI and the first five Sodom releases, so on, so on, yada yada, ad nauseaum die die die die die kill kill kill kill etc. The list goes on and on. I am barely scratching the surface.


Gavin:  How did you all get together to form Iconoclast Contra?

LD:  In 2007, when Ibex Throne called it quits, myself and Zodiac decided we wanted to play more like First Wave Black Metal (Hellhammer, Blasphemy, Bathory, Profanatica, Sodom, etc.) and abandon almost every influence from Norwegian Black Metal, but we retain like the True Mayhem and early Darkthrone sounds only first few albums/releases. The musicians we collaborated with were perfect for this group. Literally the room exploded and we knew we had captured lightning in the bottle.

Gavin:  With all of you coming from different established groups, how was it initially mixing rock genres and creating this brand new sound that wasn't like the rest?

LD:  Well we are all from extreme metal backgrounds more or less. I can’t say there was anything difficult about the early stages of this group. It all went fairly smoothly and was much to our own satisfaction, really fucking heavy, fast, over the top and such, just what we like.


Gavin:  I know you get compared to and asked a lot about Ibex Throne. How hard has it been trying to separate yourselves in the public eye from a band with that kind of following?

LD:  We don’t get compared too closely with Ibex Throne in a musical sense, and definitely not in an ideological sense. A lot of things are different such as the tuning, the drum style, the lyrical content, the music itself is more in the realm of Black War Metal (Blasphemy, Beherit, Profanatica, etc.), where Ibex Throne I think was written and influenced a lot more by Norwegian Black Metal, like old Emperor, Mayhem, Darkthrone, as well as other obscure groups like Vlad Tepes and Mutiilation. Sometimes Ibex Throne would be heavy like Order From Chaos or Beherit, but not often. I think the biggest thing it shares is both bands love for a thrashy riff and sounding nasty and ugly. That’s really all I hear, and of course a big difference is that we don’t do too many blast beats much with this band. The riffs don’t sound the same to me or the vocals either.

Gavin:  Last year you released the full-length album Combat Is The Voice Of The Heathen. What was it like recording that album, and what issues did you have to deal with along the way?

LD:  The recording went really smooth. From what I remember, it did anyways. We had a lot of setbacks like nowhere to rehearse and no equipment for while, but luckily we were able to overcome those obstacles and get well rehearsed and write for this album for a good year straight or so. We did play some gigs in that time too and there were a few that really kicked our ass into high gear.


Gavin:  What made you decide to release it on Red Light Sound, and how had it been working with them and having the record on a local label?

LD:  I don’t want to sound too negative, but the plan didn’t really work out as well as each party had initially hoped for. We have broken from Red Light to re-release our record on Strong Survive Records and the album is set to be out soon on proper CD and LP formats. T-shirts will still be made available from Red Light still though as well as record distribution.

Gavin:  What did you think of the reception and attention the album got when it finally came out?

LD:  I think the initial response has been mostly positive but not on the scale it should be. This is another reason we have decided to work with another label. Nothing personal, just what is best for our group’s music reaching the right sort and as many people as possible.


Gavin:  How has it been for you bringing the live shows you've been known for back to an audience that's kinda shifted tastes over the past few years?

LD:  The audience in SLC is always enthusiastic, and some come and some go, but we initially find playing for everyone here pretty rewarding. We have some good comrades and fellow musicians we enjoy playing with.

Gavin:  I read you were going to do a 7” split with Ritual Combat. How's that coming along, and are there any other recordings we can look forward to?

LD:  Well, we want to do this and it has been proposed, but we still need to work out some details with the label we want to do this with too. In fact we decided it might be better to do a 10". I think such a release of two bands such as ours on one release demands more than one song a piece, at least two or three!!


Gavin:  Are you looking at any plans for touring or sticking to Utah for now?

LD:  We’ve played out of state a few times, we just go where we can when we can. No plans right now to speak of other than we might play Reno pretty soon this summer, possibly.

Gavin:  Moving onto state-wide stuff, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

LD:  Good thing is that there are more people taking it a lot more seriously than in the past and the crowds are good people that show up. Venues are more open now to booking shows locally which help make the show more professional in a sense. The negative is the usual shit: stupid bands, stupid people, stupid venues, stupid promoters!


Gavin:  Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?

LD:  I’m not interested in the “local scene” enough to devote time to its growth as its own entity. I just do what I do and the local scene can fuck off for all I care, especially bands/people I don’t support or care about. Everything that might put Salt Lake City on the map nationally or whatever, is a byproduct and tenuous. I’m just here to torment.

Gavin:  Not including yourselves, who are your favorite acts in the scene right now?

LD:  I don’t believe in name-dropping local bands because I’m not into the idea of promoting anyone else when they can do it themselves. So let’s just put it this way; there are great bands here and if they see me at more than one of their shows, or ask them to play with my bands, then that ultimately means I like their band. If I only go to one and that’s it, then I probably, more than likely, think they stink and should at least kill themselves.


Gavin:  What's your opinion on the current airplay on community radio and how its affects local musicians?

LD:  Almost nonexistent, at least for our sort of music we play.

Gavin:  What do you think of file sharing these days, both as musicians and a music lovers?

LD:  It’s shitty for musicians trying to make a living or any sort of financial gain from their music they work hard to write, record and release. As a music fan it feeds the voracious and wide appetite one might have for music. Overall I prefer to buy vinyl though. I have an iPod, but I’d rather have the record in my hand. CDs are collecting dust more or less. I was thinking of selling off my collection soon.


Gavin:  What can we expect from you guys over the rest of this year?

LD:  A lot of pain, violence, drinking, jail time, bleeding, hating just about everyone in sight! Loudness, chaos, and total devastation!

Gavin:  Is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

LD:  Buy our record from Strong Survive. TRUST NO ONE! Keep the old feeling of underground metal and spirit alive! FOAD.

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