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Xasthur go from black metal to black mellow

Tuesday 06th, December 2016 / 14:43
By Johnny Papan

VANCOUVER — “Our lives and our minds should want change, even if we think we aren’t ready.” Scott Conner, the mysterious frontman who obscures his face with a patterned bandana, has been the core songwriter and instrumentalist of Xasthur since its inception in 1996. Originally a black-metal outfit, the formerly corpse-painted artist delivered guttural guitar riffs, heavy blast-beating drums, and ghoulish screeching vocals for nearly 15 years, before putting an end to the act in 2010. “I made a few too many black metal records,” Conner explains about his musical transition from black metal to an unconventionally dark acoustic sound. “I reached my limit and then some.”

In 2011, Conner began recording acoustic music as Nocturnal Poisoning with current Xasthur bandmate Chris Hernandez. Blending elements of bluegrass, folk, and a plethora of genres, the duo released three hauntingly mellow albums – Doomgrass, Other Worlds of the Mind, and A Misleading Reality. For five years, these albums went mostly unheard.

In 2015, Xasthur was revived with the lineup of Conner, Hernandez, and bassist Rachel Roomian. Agonizing screams and electric guitars would not be packaged in this deal, however. Instead, Xasthur would continue to explore ideologies from the now-defunct Nocturnal Poisoning, further developing its signature acoustic sound. “I think bands and musicians owe it to their listeners to do something new; reinvent a sound or style instead of giving them the same one, challenge them a bit,” Conner exclaims in regards to how old-school Xasthur fans might react to new material. “If they’re looking for something different, I think this would be it.”

Conner was asked if making music as Xasthur again has differently influenced new material. “In my own subconscious, possibly,” he responds. “Some have said the music has been getting slightly darker these days, and the lyrics too. That’s fine, as long as the music and lyrics are naturally coming to me.” Conner also praises his bandmates and their contribution. “They both work just as hard as I do. I really trust their judgement on bass and vocals. They make it very interesting.” Xasthur released their first acoustic album Subject to Change in March 2016.

Much like their album title suggests, Xasthur are subjects of change. They look to make a new mark on another end of the musical spectrum, fulfilling their artistic freedoms. When asked if Xasthur may ever return to black metal, Scott’s response was brass: “I cannot express a goddamn thing playing black metal.” ‘Nuff said.

Xasthur performs at the Media Club on December 12th.

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  • Ronald Armand Andruchuk

    The article is not completely accurate. I played drums on the first album and I also created the artwork for “Other Worlds of the Mind”. This was when Scott was living with us here in Rhode Island. I feel that “Other Worlds…” in particular was the best Xasthur album thus far. That is not a biased choice just because I was a part of it. I just really happen to like how that one came to light. I would have enjoyed contributing drums and percussion on the other albums but things, ideas and people change. Around that time Scott also played bass on a few albums for my band, GRAVESIDESERVICE. I tried my best with helping create the artwork for, “Portal of Sorrow” and “Nightmares at Dawn”. If anyone needs any artwork for any of their upcoming releases you can contact me. Unfortunately, since I live in a remote part of the United States and I dont have many connections, I have to throw myself out there to try to get some music related work. Feel free to contact me if you need any artwork for your band or project. I am pretty open to most genres and most styles. Send some ideas. Who knows… Maybe we can work on creating some interesting new ideas..