Malevolently Plowing Forward
CoC talks to Phil Fasciana of Malevolent Creation and Hate Plow
by: Henry Akeley

He's made some mistakes, he's had to pay for them, and now he's pissed. He's "On a drunken frenzy," he's got "One leg to kick your ass..." and now he's even got his own death metal theme song, thanks to the new Malevolent Creation CD that bears his name: _Joe Black_.

Given that much, you can probably guess what my first question was when I sat down recently to talk with guitarist Phil Fasciana about the death metal juggernaut that is Malevolent Creation - and about Phil's new side project Hate Plow as well. But if you're anything like me, you'll be quite surprised to hear the answer to the question: Is Joe Black a real person?

"<Laughs> Yeah, it is. It's Jay's father, man!" He's referring to Jason Blachowicz, Malevolent Creation bassist and vocalist. "See, Jason's last name is Blachowicz, but his father goes by 'Joe Black' <laughs>." Phil's got quite the story about this guy, too - but since I hate to kick ol' Joe while he's down, I'm not going to get into the details here. Besides, you can pretty much figure out the whole deal by reading the lyrics to the song. Suffice it to say, as Phil laughingly puts it at one point, "It's fucked up!"

Anyway, not only are Malevolent Creation the first death metal band that I know of who've written a song about a member's dad - they're also the first to offer up techno (!) re-mixes of tracks off a straight death metal album. (I don't quite count Fear Factory in that category.) _JB_ contains three such re-mixes of songs from _Eternal_, and I asked Phil where the band got the idea to do this. Are Malevolent Creation closet ravers, or what?

Phil laughs: "No, man! The thing is, we had nothing to do with it! The guy that recorded the guitars, bass, and vocals for our album, my friend Erich [Wytell], he's into shit like that, and he kept on saying how he wanted to re-mix some of the songs and turn 'em into dance songs!! <laughs> And we were just like, 'Whatever,' you know? He didn't have time to do it right away when we did the album, but over the course of like six months he ended up doing those re-mixes. We never even knew what they were gonna sound like. And you know, when we heard 'em, man, we were just dying, because it was just so fucking weird."

Obviously, though, the question is: did the guys -like- the re-mixes? Phil laughs again: "I don't know, man, I like 'em, kinda, 'cause they're just crazy sounding, man!" I told him that although I really had no idea what to expect before I actually heard the things, I ended up liking them too. They definitely have a way of growing on you. "I know, it does! A lot of people that hear it go 'Holy shit, dude, I actually like your band now!!' <laughs> We'll probably do something different like that again, maybe try to make it a little heavier."

It was a good thing to hear that the band has such plans for the future... or -any- plans for the future, given that rumors of a possible breakup were circulating after the band cut short one of their recent tours. "Yeah, it got a little fucking funky, man. <laughs> Our singer got arrested and shit - it was just really bad. Everyone was drinking a little too much, everyone was fighting, and shit wasn't going right, man. It just got a little out of control, so everybody just went 'Fuck this - let's get outta here.' <laughs>"

The band now has a steady line-up, though, and is planning to enter the studio to record their next full-length effort around the end of July. However, there has been one change in membership since _Eternal_ was recorded: Phil, Jason, and second guitarist Jon Rubin are now joined by drummer Derek, who replaces Dave Culross. "The dude is way sicker than our last drummer," Phil says. Before his try-out, Phil warned him that if he couldn't play the drum parts to _Eternal_ he'd get the thumbs-down within five minutes - but Derek was unfazed. "He goes 'Dude, I warm up to that album - don't even worry about it.' <laughs> He came down here, and just totally blew us away, man, just played all the songs on _Eternal_ fucking sicker than we've ever heard 'em. So after about five minutes with him, we went 'You're in!' And the guy's killer, man."

The band is looking to get their next album recorded soon, then tour as much as possible to support it. Writing for the new release is pretty much completed, and I asked Phil how the new stuff will sound compared to _Eternal_. "It's different, for sure," Phil says. "There's a lot less speed. It's not like doomy or anything, but there's more rhythmic beats, stuff like that. And we tuned down to B for a few songs. I mean, there's still some fast shit, you know - it's still fast, man. And the drumming - this is gonna be a real good drumming album. Hopefully everything will come out produced right and everything, the way we need it to be."

How much older Malevolent material can we expect to show up in their live set when they hit the road? "We're gonna be doing a lot of it, man. We'll probably do like five songs from the first album, five from _Retribution_. We do maybe one or two, possibly three off _Stillborn_. But see, we mix it up every time. Every night, we play a lot off _Eternal_, and we'll probably whip "Joe Black" into the set, maybe "Self-Important Freak" [both off _JB_], and whatever new stuff, you know. And we'll probably throw in a couple new ones to freak people out."

Malevolent Creation is definitely a revitalized band, coming back with two really strong releases after _Stillborn_ - which a lot of people, myself included, regarded as an incredibly weak follow-up to their crushing second album _Retribution_. It turns out that Phil hates that album, too! "It was a nightmare. The drummer couldn't do the drum tracks right; the production sounded funky; Brett [Hoffman, ex-vocalist]'s voice was cashed; no one was into it. I was like 'Holy shit - this is a nightmare!!'" During the studio sessions for that album, Phil says, "I thought I was gonna fucking die man, I swear to God, I couldn't handle it. It was the worst experience of my life. It was brutal, and in the end result, it still sounded like shit. <laughs> I wish we could have totally done that whole thing another time, a little later in a different studio. It was fucked up, period. It was just a bad time, bad timing, man. Everybody's personal shit was interfering with the band - no one was even into it. I was the only one that had anything going on, and even my life was all fucked up, too! <laughs> It was a nightmare, man."

Of course, Phil will be entering the studio again with Malevolent before the summer is over. And not only that: he also plans to record an album soon with his side project Hate Plow. (In fact, the album will have to be recorded very soon, since drummer Crazy Larry is in trouble with the law.) I asked Phil what sort of variation on the brutal musical style we can expect to hear from them. "Hate Plow's coming out a lot more hardcore sounding - but not like hardcore New York style, or whatever, except maybe a little bit here and there. It's got really deep, brutal vocals, and it's really fast. <laughs> It's crazy, man!"

Elaborating a bit, Phil says "It's all mixed-up sounding! There's a lot of grinding, man - but it's good, it's not noise. It's really good, man, and we're hoping that everything comes out well when we record it. We'll be going to a nice studio, so it should sound really good. The demo we did sounds awesome!" In fact, a bit of a clue to their sound can be found right up front on Malevolent's _JB_ release. "You know, 'Joe Black' and 'Self-Important Freak' are Hate Plow songs," Phil tells me. "They were on the first demo that me and Rob [Barret, of Cannibal Corpse] and Crazy Larry did. That was the first version of Hate Plow."

That version of Hate Plow no longer exists, though. Rob, who had been playing guitars and handling vocal duties, eventually drifted away from the band, leaving Phil as the lone guitarist and making room for new singer Kyle Steinens. According to Phil, Kyle's vocals have to be heard to be believed. "This guy just came to our warehouse one night, and we knew he sings for this other band [Florida act Sickness]. We were jamming Malevolent, and Jason didn't show up, and we wanted to do the songs with vocals. He's like, 'Oh, dude, I know all the lyrics to the Malevolent songs.' So he started singing 'em, and we went 'Holy shit!!' We heard his voice and went 'Dude! My God! Fuck Rob - let's get this guy singing for Hate Plow!'" In addition to Phil, Kyle, and Crazy Larry, the band is now rounded out by Tim Scott (ex-Revenant) on bass.

So both Hate Plow and Malevolent Creation will be recording and releasing new material before too long. In the meantime, though, Phil has some friendly advice for fans: "Go look into _Joe Black_. You better buy it, or Joe Black'll come and get you too. <laughs> So look out, man - if a guy with one leg starts chasing you, run for your life!"

(article submitted 17/7/1996)

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