Hammer of Metal
CoC Interviews Gene Palubicki of Angelcorpse
by: Adam Wasylyk
Impressing those of us from CoC who were in attendance at this year's Michigan Metal Fest with the band's TWO ravenous live sets, Angelcorpse devastate both in the flesh and on disc, as evidenced by their Osmose debut _Hammer of Gods_. Boasting influences such as Possessed, Bathory, and Morbid Angel, a retro feel permeates Angelcorpse's music -- but rather than exploit it, they've built it into their own sound and have created some raging black/death metal that other bands can only dream of comparing to. I had the pleasure of talking at length with guitarist Gene Palubicki about Angelcorpse and all that is metal. What made this chat so enjoyable was not only Gene's honesty but also his evident love for metal. Immerse yourself in the experience that is Angelcorpse.

CoC: So Angelcorpse was formed as a result of the demise of Order From Chaos?

Gene Palubicki: Myself and the bass player/vocalist from that band [Pete Helmkamp] got together because I had known him for several years prior to their break-up, since about 1991. When he told me that their band was going to be finished, for the longest time I thought it would be great to have him as a vocalist in a band. When the opportunity came up, I started talking to him about it. I moved from Minnesota down to Kansas City, where we started working on some material, and that's how it all started.

CoC: Why did Order from Chaos break up, and how do you think both bands compare musically?

GP: There were some eternal problems. I guess their guitar player wanted to quit the band and start up a side project he was working on. He wasn't really interested in what Order from Chaos was doing. That's what probably led to the break up: everybody's ideas didn't work together anymore. [As for comparisons,] aside from the fact that it's death metal, I think the actual song structures and writing are almost unrelated. Because for Order from Chaos, most of the music was written by the guitar player, and since that person is not in Angelcorpse, there's really no comparison at all, aside from the fact that it's death metal. [For] anyone who's into Order from Chaos, the only thing they could relate to is that it's the same vocalist. I mean, musically we're far more fast and brutal.

CoC: When you formed Angelcorpse, what were the philosophies and expectations behind the band's creation?

GP: What we wanted to do is what we've always enjoyed: to create pure metal. In this case, pure death metal, death/thrash, black/death, because that's where we've always come from. We listen to a lot of the older albums -- like, myself, I think [albums] like Possessed's _Seven Churches_ are still some of the most stand-out albums to this day. That stuff was pure metal. It had nothing to do with trends. What we're doing is pure metal as well, and I think what we're creating is just metal for the sake of metal. Pure brutality, craziness, lead guitar solos and stuff. A lot of bands these days almost try to stamp out what metal really started out with, with bands like Judas Priest with the dual lead guitar attack, and they've just tried to turn it into grinding sludge that has nothing to do with what metal really is. And I think that's what we're trying to re-birth with Angelcorpse: the real heavy metal.

CoC: Why do you think that bands have moved away from the lead guitar approach to metal?

GP: I think that during the late 80s there was a lot of the guitar hero metal that started to come out, bands like Cacophony and others, and after a while the lead guitar got to be seen as cheese. And a lot of bands, like even before the death metal explosion, had already begun to move away from the idea of doing leads or any of that. I don't know, I think with so many people going with the anti-trend to make things more dirty, like back with grind bands like Carcass and early Napalm Death stuff, it was like the really hardcore/punk stuff started to cross over with thrash metal and created this real anti-musical sludge, and the real element of metal began to be lost. As it became more refined, metal basically just lost its sight and became more of a grind thing.

CoC: I noticed a strong _Altars of Madness_-era Morbid Angel influence on _Hammer of Gods_. Are they a band that have influenced Angelcorpse?

GP: Yeah, I think especially their album _Altars of Madness_. When that album came out it was one of the most stand-out albums during that time, because there weren't really any bands that were mixing blast beats and super-speed with any kind of sensibility at all. Plus, they had the kind of energy of some of the more early Slayer material, or Possessed, for that matter. So that really stood out as a great metal album. And keeping the tradition of dual lead guitar attack and all that, it's perfect.

CoC: How did you come to sign to Osmose Productions?

GP: We did a four-track demo tape to showcase some of the songs that we had at the time. And we sent a tape to Osmose, just seeing if they would like to do distribution of the demo tape, but when Herve heard the tape he called us up immediately almost, and he wanted to sign the band. We did the demo tape, and two weeks later we were being sent a contract, so we really had no circulation in the underground at the time we were signed.

CoC: What are your thoughts on the label's roster of bands?

GP: A lot of the newer stuff that's coming out on the label I could disagree with. This whole retro thing I think is kind of becoming a really bad trend. I think some of the bands that I totally distaste are probably Inferno and um....

CoC: Bewitched?

GP: Yeah, Bewitched. I mean, anybody who's really into the style that they're trying to portray is going to listen to the originators that do those albums anyway. I mean, why listen to Inferno when you could listen to _Endless Pain_ [by Kreator] or _Inferal Overkill_ by Destruction? Those albums are still alive and well, so we don't need a copy. [Finally someone with the guts to say it like it is. -- Adam] They're not doing any justice to those albums by ripping them off. I mean, unless the bands are doing it as a joke.. And if people are happy with that and they want to make metal a joke, they can have it, but I don't want any part of that.

CoC: So you're basically saying it's okay to use influences from the past, but it's wrong to rip them off?

GP: An influence means that you understood something that somebody's done and you've incorporated it into what you do, not just ripping it off. It's like you've learned how somebody did something, and you take that knowledge and you apply it to what you know and make your own creation out of it. To just copy what someone else has done, it's missing creation. Which means it's just weak.

CoC: What's your view of the opening of Osmose's American office? Do you think it'll help the state of black metal in North America?

GP: I think so, since most of the black metal stuff from Europe has only had distribution here through mail order. The fact that you would be able to go to a store and perhaps find a black metal album, I think that's a plus. As far as the American market, the prices would be cheaper, no import prices and no waiting [for shipping, etc.]. It'll take some time for the label to get itself organized over here, but probably within a year's time it should start to rear its head.

CoC: So will _Hammer of Gods_ get this domestic treatment?

GP: Yeah, there's going to be twelve releases that will be the first batch, and the re-mastered version of _Hammer of Gods_ will be one of them. It's going to have two bonus tracks, a couple of cover songs. It'll have covers of Possessed's "Burning in Hell" and Kreator's "Pleasure to Kill".

CoC: I saw you guys at the Michigan Metal Fest, when you played twice to make up for the absence of Absu, and I must say I was very impressed. Describe what an Angelcorpse live set is like.

GP: PURE DIABOLIC CHAOS! We try to present something to look at. At that show, for example, there would be like ten bands that would play that you wouldn't really watch but you'd hear. Because if you looked at the stage there was nothing to see. It was just bands going through the motions, nothing exciting. Nothing very metal about the whole thing. The whole thing about metal is it's supposed to grab people's attention. It's not supposed to be something you just stare at and say "whatever" and just wait for the next band to come up afterwards. We try to make something so that there's actually reason to watch what's going on on the stage. It's like with leads -- one guy on one side of the stage breaks off into some total craziness, when all of a sudden the people watching the show can actually look and see what's going on on another part of the stage. Then the other guy goes into some crazy part. It's basically to have action going on while you're playing. And since we play so incredibly fast anyway, there's always going to be some kind of action going on, and we never slow down. That's just not our thing.

CoC: What did you think of the Milwaukee Metal Fest?

GP: It was a pretty good show, but there was a lot of the same, a lot of bands sounding alike. I think that's where we really stood out at that show. There was no other band at that show that sounded even remotely close to what we were doing.

CoC: Of the two festivals, was there one that you enjoyed more, or did they compare pretty closely?

GP: Aside from the fact that the Milwaukee deal was a lot bigger and there was a lot more people there, I'd have to say the Milwaukee show was better. There actually seemed to be people at the Milwaukee show who were familiar with us; we got a fair crowd response. But at the Michigan show I don't think anyone knew who the fuck we were! <laughs>

CoC: Something that caught my eye at your Michigan show was your other guitarist Bill [Taylor, ex/Xenomorph]. As I was watching him on stage, I noticed that his arms appeared to be cut up. Does he do that sort of thing?

GP: Yeah, he does that.

CoC: So he's into self-mutilation?

GP: Yeah.

CoC: What are your thoughts on that?

GP: Well, myself, I don't really practice that kind of thing. But I guess each one of us in this band are into their own individual thing. You can kind of tell -- I mean, aside from the fact that now all three of us actually have shaved heads -- by looking at each of us on stage, we don't have any kind of unified look. Each one of us are in our own little world while we're out there, which I think is cool, instead of looking like robots.

CoC: Are you one who subscribes to the belief that keyboards and female vocals don't belong in black metal, or do you think that they can be used efficiently to create atmosphere?

GP: The whole thing with keyboards and female vocals seems like more of something that's attributed to gothic style music, as it originally was. With something ambient like Dead Can Dance, music like that looks great with female vocals. But when it's crossed over into metal, that's all it really is -- it's a cross-over. It's not pure. Obviously, in a way I'm wrong by saying that, because a lot of bands that do that, crossing metal with gothic influences and keyboards and female vocals, seem to be doing very successfully. But in my opinion, since I like things to be pure with art, I think it degenerates old genres. Because, I mean, people who are really going to be into the metal stuff aren't really going to like the keyboards and female vocals. But then you got people that are into gothic, romantic, dark ambient music that are going to hear the stuff, and the metal that's going to be in the music they're not going to like. But there's this new fan base that's around nowadays that actually does like that stuff -- but I really, to say the least, don't tolerate it.

CoC: _Hammer of Gods_ has been out for quite a while, so I'm sure you guys have a good amount of new material already.

GP: Yeah, at the end of October we're going into the studio to record the new album.

CoC: Is there a title for it yet?

GP: Oh yeah. The new album is called _Exterminate_.

CoC: How does it compare to the material off _Hammer of Gods_?

GP: It's definitely in the same vein as _Hammer of Gods_, but there's a lot more emphasis on the speed element. This [new] album's got a lot more really brutal double bass and a lot more blasting. It's going to be faster. Other than that, I guess anybody who liked or hated our first album is probably going to have a more extreme reaction to this new album. We're definitely going to have a lot better production on this new album: we're going to Morrisound Studios down in Tampa to record the new one.

CoC: Where was _Hammer of Gods_ recorded, by the way?

GP: _Hammer of Gods_ was recorded in a local studio here in Kansas City, and in the end we were kind of unhappy with the way it came out. The engineer didn't really know what it was that we wanted, and we weren't very experienced working in a real studio at all ourselves, so the production is really lacking on _Hammer of Gods_ in hindsight. I mean, it's still a very brutal album, and we still like all the songs and we'll play them all live, but I think the first album leaves a lot to be desired as far as the kind of sound that we wanted. This new album is really going to let people know what it is that we're all about.

CoC: Finally, what do you think the future holds for Angelcorpse?

GP: Ideally, I hope that we can continue to do a lot more albums and get some good tours and stuff so we can get this stuff out. I really want to get people back into the pure metal thing. I want to get this stuff in the limelight. There's going to be a lot of great albums in the near future. I mean, just in the beginning of '98 the new Morbid Angel album is going to be absolutely killer. I just really want people to get back into what is the essence of death metal. The whole gothic and romanticism thing, it has nothing to do with metal. Death metal is supposed to be about violence, brutality and vengeance, and I want to get that spirit back into people's hearts.

(article submitted 17/11/1997)

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10/12/1999 P Schwarz Angelcorpse: Relentless Angelic Cadavers
8/4/2007 J Montague 4 Angelcorpse - Of Lucifer and Lightning
3/13/2001 P Schwarz 8 Angelcorpse - Iron, Blood and Blasphemy
12/9/1999 P Azevedo 8 Angelcorpse - The Inexorable
9/1/1998 P Schwarz 9 Angelcorpse - Exterminate
2/4/1997 S Hoeltzel 8 Angelcorpse - Hammer of Gods
1/15/2000 P Azevedo Marduk / Angelcorpse / Enthroned Night of the Living Corpses
1/15/2000 M Noll Cannibal Corpse / Marduk / Angelcorpse / Aeternus / Defleshed Two Corpses, One God and No Flesh
6/7/1998 P Schwarz Immortal / Angelcorpse / Desecration London's Underworld Holocaust
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