Written by: Sage
Title: Regress Zine Issue 2
Reviews: Durazis, Satanize / Black Cilice, Strongblood, Jackman, Church Whip, Ossea Cyphus / Accersitus, Smoke, Veld, Cirrhus / Eunuch, Wulkanaz, Uhl, Grinning Death’s Head, Sexdrome / Sump, Crooked Cross, Demonologists / Deathstench
Interviews: Vucub Cane, Sutekh Hexen, Nastran, One Tail One Head, Svartrit, Grave Miasma, Terence Hannum
The Regress Zine is a physical magazine brought to you by a relatively adumbral figure known to me only as KRS. In 2007, KRS (in partnership with “LJN”) had written a highly critical article for the original incarnation of Heathen Harvest entitled “Neofolk: Religion, Rebellion, Renewal.” This uniquely opinionated and criminally overlooked editorial that highlighted the stagnation that was taking place at the time in Neofolk, due in large part to the lack of evolution in the traditional themes present in the genre as well as the aversion of the genre as a whole to post-modern themes such as late-capitalism and hyper-reality, amongst others, and the problems associated therein. It’s with this said that, despite his anonymous nature, KRS has proven himself to have a philosophical, academic mind — something that most would agree is sorely needed in music journalism for the various underground genres that we represent, even if many, if not most, would probably not agree with his personal thoughts in “Neofolk: Religion, Rebellion, Renewal”. While Regress Zine opts to cover the world of Lo-fi black metal / black noise in place of the Neofolk of the aforementioned editorial, KRS’ dedication to intelligent journalism is still vehemently present in the questions that he poses in the various interviews found throughout the publication.
Artistically, the ‘zine is designed in a way that somewhat ironically mirrors the first sentence of the first interview: “Vucub Cane is an exceptionally crude and visceral black metal band that takes all the standards of a 1992 demo tape and turns it up 10x, producing blown out, noisy and absolutely brilliant results.” That is, in much the same way that KRS describes Vucub Cane, Regress Zine takes on an air of visually raw and crude noise in respect to the chaotic display of the articles, but it isn’t done in a distasteful manner. Rather, the blown-out imagery and turbulent presentation creates an intense, visually stimulating experience that is as interesting to step back and simply look at as it is to read on a focused level. Needless to say, much like the ’92 demo tape style that he mentioned, Regress Zine is a publication that heralds back to the DIY days of black metal in all of its lo-fi “cut and paste photocopy” glory. That isn’t to say that this ‘zine isn’t professional or durable though as a hard glossy cover envelopes and protects the pages inside.
The review portion of the Zine is a mere two pages and is structured to look like clipped portions from another publication (newspaper, etc). The first page is stylized in a way that some words are difficult to read, but not impossible. All reviews posted here are positive with the exception of one or two that could be perceived as neutral through short write-ups with vague / very generalized thoughts. Reviews are mostly positive due to the small space in which they have to be confined (in other words, why waste space on a bad record). The longer reviews are around 200 words in length, so there isn’t a great deal of personal insight put into them, but rather a detailed description of each release.
As with anything, some interviews are certainly better than others. The opening interview with Vucub Cane is written with questions that are loaded and ready for novel-like responses, however rather than go into much detail, Vucub Cane seems insistent on giving the typical vague answers that anyone would expect from a misanthropic-themed black metal project. There is a complete aversion to having any kind of thought that would seem human, outside of a generic answer to a question regarding his love of Mayan culture, and an answer that was actually fairly well done on his part for the last question, pretentious as it was. Nastran continues the vague theme with a very short answer to a loaded question regarding occult themes on “Markabah”, specifically due to it’s Hebrew titles. Though the project comes across as far more human/inviting in nature than the previous, it still suffers from lack of substantial explanations. It may seem strange to some that the one of the more interesting interviews found in the pages of Regress Zine’s second issue is from the only featured death metal project, Grave Miasma, whom not only admit their own humanity but also go into relative detail on personal spirituality as well as their esoteric nature. As an excerpt: “Regarding Occultism, the adage ‘know thyself’ has assumed a far more intrinsic foundation of which tenets of Tibetan, Sufi, Hindu mysticism found in some of their respective texts encircle a kabbalistic pillar.” In fact, some answers refer back to the aforementioned theme of postmodern philosophy in the project’s view that man has become lost in an illusory age of consumerism and the need for a ‘return to the basics’ through a cataclysm, economic or otherwise.
In fact, it’s at this point past Grave Miasma’s interview where the fruits of KRS’ labor become apparent with consecutive interviews with Sutekh Hexen, Svartrit, Terence Hannum and One Tail, One Head. Sutekh Hexen’s interview, especially, gives a deep insight into the personal life/thoughts of one of black metal / black noise’s apparently most authentic figures in Scott Miller whom, when asked a question on economic collapse / nihilism / environmental devastation goes on to answer in an incredibly honest and realistic fashion by looking past his own interests into the future lives of his daughters. In a bold moment of honest personal insight that is rarely seen in this corner of music, Miller says “…I do not want my kids to have to suffer underneath the weight of an oppressive structure of rules and lies, but at the same time I do not want them to have to enter adult life with the preconceived notion that we need to destroy the opposition and live life without the luxuries that have been offered through living in the United States…” This is paired with one of the more humorous moments in the ‘zine, when after a relatively long paragraph on the aforementioned subject, all that Miller’s project partner in Kevin Gan Yuen can muster is “That is an interesting observation.”
From here we move past Svartrit and his take on black metal and dark German Heathenism to Terence Hannum of Locrian. This is an interview which bravely moves beyond Hannum’s involvement in Locrian into his personal sphere of visual art and includes a three-page spread of his work. Hannum’s art focuses on the abstracted experience of the live performance setting as well as the various iconography that accompanies his specific realm of music in that setting. The interview is quite short at 5 questions and can be seen as kind of an introduction into Hannum’s personal artistic path as well as a short update on Locrian’s 7″ on Flingco Sound System and a small mention of “The Clearing” on Fan Death Records.
The last interview is easily the longest and most in-depth and is conducted with Norwegian black metal project One Tail, One Head, a name in obvious tribute to the concept of the Ouroboros. The interview is with the member J.E. whom is another one of those rare openly honest and genuine people in the world of black metal — a fact that is made evident through two sentences: “I always try to remind myself that I am young and inexperienced, that I do in reality know nothing. I think it is important to remain open-minded and try to look beyond the current.” He’s also certainly not afraid to give his opinions on subjects that some might find touchy, such as Christianity in Norway. Over a page of the ‘zine is dedicated to his answer concerning this one potent question and he tackles it carefully if not expertly, taking into account a wide range of other concepts that are intertwined before commenting on the fact that the ‘big picture’ is far wider than the scope of one religion in Norway at this point in history. He goes into detail beyond this subject into his thoughts on capitalism and the effects it has on local issues down to the most basic level such as the environment, food and craftsmanship. Frankly, this last interview alone is worth the price of admission. Sadly the Zine is already sold out. However, there should be a third issue available eventually, and if this issue is the standard on which future issues will be built, you should certainly keep an eye open.