Interview: A.A. Nemtheanga (Blood Revolt)

Indoctrine, the virgin offering from one of the most intriguing of Profound Lore’s wide-ranging stable of artists, has been one of the most controversial releases of the year. The brainchild of Alan Averill (better known as A.A. Nemtheanga), C. Ross, and James Read, Blood Revolt is much more than the sum of its creators’ other bands – and, in a way, much deadlier. This three-headed beast leads its victims through hell and throws them back, gasping and shaken, out into reality. An interview with Averill drew us deeper into the world of Indoctrine, shed some light on this unsettling creation, and left room for further speculation.

— Kim Kelly

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Your lyrics in Primordial are deeply emotional, touching upon historical and personal themes. In Blood Revolt, you are doing something else entirely – narrating a story from a first-person perspective, the perspective of a man on the brink of madness. Was it difficult to switch gears, or was it a welcome challenge?

I don’t think they are really that different, seeing as both bands are very much rooted in the “real”, and the here and now. Neither band is romantic or fantastic; Blood Revolt is just a different angle. Everything is a challenge, but I knew I needed to find a different voice, even if some of the themes cross over here and there.

Did you find yourself being sucked into the character as you wrote and sang his diary?

Of course, you have to try and become what you write about, to feel something for the character. You could turn on the news any single given day and find our character shooting up a schoolyard, bombing a polling station, whatever. There is no fantasy involved in Blood Revolt, just absolute grim reality.

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It is rare, in a time when metal seems to have lost its bite, its darkness, its honesty, to come across something like this. The music complements the lyrics and vocal approach while at the same time subverting it. Clean, sometimes wild vocals overtop pounding war drums and frantic, brutal riffs? Nothing sounds like this – nothing. When you were working to write and arrange the album, did you envision it turning out like this?

Of course, I’m not interested in doing something run of the mill or average. What would be the point in aspiring to that? I knew the three of us were more than competent in making an album like we have done. It’s not such a crazy theory, really, putting clean vocals over this kind of wargrind, but for some reason no one has ever done it before, and, yes, you are right, nothing sounds like this. Indoctrine is a very Machiavellian sort of record – it inspires fear, instead of immediate affinity. A listener is more likely to get cold chills down his spine than to tap his foot upon a first listen. A party record, this is not.

“Indoctrine”

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Was it your intent to invoke this sort of reaction?

Again, of course. The whole point is to provoke some kind of reaction, to initiate a response, even if it’s confusion or disgust with the themes or the overall sound. As you said rightly before, metal has lost its teeth; it’s become safe and redundant, at least in the mainstream. OK, I’m under no illusions, this is not going to sell that much, and it will no doubt get some bad reviews from morons without the headspace to understand it. But all this is positive at least for me. Blood Revolt should inspire devotion, awe, or even hatred and disgust.

It would have been easy for the three of you to churn out a run-of-the-mill war metal album and get all the messageboard kids excited. Instead, you broke new ground at the potential risk of alienating your fans. Blood Revolt has garnered a wide range of reactions, from hugely positive to absolutely appalled (or, in the case of some reviews, missed the point entirely). Are you pleased with this division of opinion?

Of course some people have missed the point. Listen, if you are too stupid to realize that even if you don’t like what Blood Revolt is doing, to understand that it is original… and in a world of imitators, that should be praised. Like this Decibel review, such stupidity. But let’s make it clear: you might not like what Blood Revolt is, but to not be clever enough to see its worth, you shouldn’t be writing reviews in the first place. However, I’m glad in a way. It’s not for everyone. Sure, it would have been easier to get a Moyen cover and sing about goats in gas masks or whatever cartoon shit passes for extremity these days. But what would be the point in that? Blood Revolt is genuinely extreme in every sense.

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Can you describe your experiences in Canada during the mixing process for the album? What kind of area were you staying in?

Nanton, Alberta: small town, nice people, good atmosphere. Saw some great prairie folk and drank some rhye. We worked hard and all gelled together. Way better than laying down vocals on my own in my room on my laptop. We had to get that band feeling.

What were your interactions like with C. Ross and J. Read? One can only assume that tossing three intense artistic personalities in one room and then trying to agree on a finished product was an interesting experience.

I think people forget Primordial and Axis of Advance/Revenge are closer than you might think, at least in attitude and not compromising, so it was easy for us to find a common goal in what we were doing, musically and aesthetically. You work hard and push yourself to get results, and when it’s done, of course you kick back and hang out.

You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you see no reason not to continue making music with this project, and would like to plan some live performances as well. Have you given any thought to the next story you’d like to tell, or how you would like a Blood Revolt performance to unfold?

We are talking about doing some gigs in 2011 when our schedules are clear. Of course, Blood Revolt can continue. What the next installment will be, I’m not sure yet. We are looking into having projections, screens, and the story when we play if time/money allows.

Besides Primordial and Blood Revolt, you’re also involved in a Bathory tribute called Twilight of the Gods with a laundry list of metal notables. Why Bathory?

Of course, Bathory is close to my heart and influenced me more than any other band. The idea came last year. I was talking to my friend about how cool it would be if Primordial would put together a Bathory show. And this, of course, was never going to happen, so I put the band together. It’s working out well, and so far the people who have come down have enjoyed it. It’s just a tribute, nothing more and nothing less, helping keep some great music alive. Most of the people who have criticized it haven’t come down to see it. Acta non verba.

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Another of your endeavors, Poison Tongue Records, recently signed two bands to its roster. Besides Portrait and Darkest Era, what current bands are you really into right now?

No, those two bands are direct signings to Metal Blade, actually. I’m working A&R for Blade directly, aside from the imprint. Current underground bands? Deströyer 666, Repugnant, Ghost, Razor of Occam, Enforcer, Weapon, Grave Miasma, The Devil’s Blood, Funeral Mist, loads more…

How do you occupy your time when you’re not working on musical endeavors?

I’ve always got something to do, usually to do with music. I’ve always got lots of things going on, whether rehearsing, touring, writing, DJing or whatever…

From what I’m told, the Dublin scene (and Irish scene in general) is very small, but has produced some great bands. From your experience as someone who’s been a part of that scene for years, who do you see as the most promising bands to have emerged in the past few years?

The scene is small, and most of the cornerstones, if we shall call them that, are people who’ve been around for the guts of 20 years. Very few new bands have come up through the ranks and really shaken the foundations, as it were. A few decent bands, but if you really want to check out the scene and what Ireland has to offer, go to www.metalireland.com.

The last words are yours.

Art is rebellion, culture is resistance

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