Interview: Lord Worm of Rage Nucléaire

Sometimes, acting on the right impulse at the right time can create a legacy. For Lord Worm—better known to his English-tutoring students as Dan Greening—it took just one album to become a legend: None So Vile, Cryptopsy’s 1996 sophomore effort. Though Worm delivered strong performances on two other Cryptopsy albums, his alcohol-fueled NSV sessions made an epochal splash. When I think of someone “raving and gibbering,” I think of Worm’s opening lines from “Crown of Horns”.

After almost five years away from metal, Lord Worm has returned with a new band. Rage Nucléaire, which also features Alvater of fellow Canadians Frozen Shadows plus Swedish drum phenom Fredrik Widigs, is a considerable shift for him. Their debut album Unrelenting Fucking Hatred delivers fuzzy, Emperor-influenced black metal at unbelievable speeds. Worm has altered his delivery accordingly, though his lurid lyrics and wry humor remain.

We caught up with Lord Worm by e-mail during the lead-up to Unrelenting Fucking Hatred’s American release (November 6, via Season of Mist). You can stream the entire album at Hails and Horns.

— Doug Moore

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Rage Nucléaire’s promo materials suggest that the project was conceived 12 years ago (in 2000), but Unrelenting Fucking Hatred is its first official release. How did the band come together?

Dark Rage and Alvater started doing this in their quiet moments, as an experiment-cum-project that was initially not really supposed to go anywhere; it was more of a private thing. As time went by and things took shape, it seems they realized they had something, so Alvater began to shop the idea around and eventually called me, ostensibly to do a 4-song demo. More time passed, and the three of us had other commitments that needed seeing to first, and it wasn’t till July 2011 that I went in for the first time to see if I could actually do Black Metal, rather than just listen to it, and I must say, the thing had grown way beyond the demo stage.

Did you set out with a stylistic or thematic framework in mind, or did the project evolve more organically?

The evolution has been organic, as you so rightly put it, but there has been a constant theme throughout the oeuvre, that of KILL-HATE-WAR-VIOLENCE. People who give this more than a cursory listen will note that every song has its own very distinct identity, with easily identifiable moments or themes or moods; this has persisted into the second album. But the one thing that unites them is that recurring KILL-HATE-WAR-VIOLENCE ambience.

During your second stint with Cryptopsy, you mentioned in interviews that you love black metal, but that you weren’t interested in pursuing a black metal project because of your other commitments. When did you decide to pursue the genre more seriously?

My Cryptopsy days had to run their course before I could even think of doing anything else, but once it was over, I found myself teaching full-time for a few years before I got the call from Alvater. He’s one of the only people I would even have considered working with in the BM genre, because let’s face it, when you do something like this, it has to be with people you trust.

Your vocal approach in Rage Nucléaire is considerably different from the one you used with Cryptopsy. How did you develop your new tone? Did you have a model or models in mind?

I’ll admit, I was a bit leery of trying it out at first, as it was something I’d only experimented with on Once Was Not but I didn’t want to go with that style. I thought a cross between Ur Profanum (Argar) and Mika Luttinen (Impaled Nazarene) might work. From the first song (“Violence Is Golden” which was the first one I recorded), we saw that that was the way to go.

You’ve also mentioned in previous interviews that it took you some time to rebuild your voice between your first and second periods as a Cryptopsy member. How long did it take you to master your voice again for the Rage Nucléaire sessions?

As it turns out, the week that I was supposed to start recording, I got a call from Flo, who asked me to do “Benedictine Convulsions” at the Heavy MTL MetalFest, so I had to postpone my first RN session to do some Cryptopsy. The following week, I did “Violence Is Golden,” just as you hear it on the album. My chops came back rather quickly, it seems.

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Rage Nucléaire – “Violence Is Golden”

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Your vocal tracks are generally rhythmically looser and more impressionistic than those of many extreme metal vocalists, especially in death metal. How did you settle on this approach? Was it a conscious choice?

That actually dates back to Necrosis days, as even then I felt that music should be felt, not simply performed metronomically. When I’ve got a grip on my mic, I feel everything I spew out, and if it’s somewhat loose, well that just goes with the territory.

The lyrics for “The Gift of the Furnace” are written from the perspective of the perpetrators of the Holocaust. You’ve said that Rage Nucléaire is not a racist or Nazi-sympathetic band. Are you concerned that these lyrics might be misinterpreted, as Tom Araya’s lyrics for “Angel of Death” have been?

Actually, the perspective in that one is pretty loose (since we’re discussing things that are “loose”): part of it is from the perpetrators’ P.O.V., and part is simply descriptive, albeit from a conjectural viewpoint. I get misinterpreted fairly often, which is one reason I craft my lyrics the way I do, with multiple meanings and vivid imagery, so that nothing can ever be nailed down as definite. Every line is pregnant with ideas; ephemeral, yet full. I believe in the “show, don’t tell” method of writing, so characterizing certain things from a moral standpoint is a waste of everyone’s time.

“Endziel” is built largely around a chess metaphor, but one particular lyric caught my eye: ‘This is Manson’s “Helter Skelter” / on an altogether different scale”. As I understand it, Charlie Manson used the term “Helter Skelter” as shorthand for the apocalyptic race war that he believed would ultimately break out in the United States. Can you elaborate on this line?

Manson tried to set off that race war, but look where it got him. Looking at things simply, I could have used a checkers metaphor (“le rouge et le noir”: the red and the black), but I wanted something with more ‘zazz to it; chess just fits the bill. The black/white chessboard is a scaled-down version of Manson’s fantasy.

What do you think of Cryptopsy’s material since your departure from the band? Does Matt McGachy sit well with you as a vocalist?

Let us ignore that album [presumably The Unspoken King, Cryptopsy’s widely-panned 2008 effort. – Ed.] and concentrate instead on the new stuff; the new Cryptopsy is quite good, harkening back to Blasphemy Made Flesh days, but with a 2012 upgrade. I like Matt, both as a person, and as a performer; I think he’s done a fine job, especially in a live context. He does his own thing, and he does it well.

You’ve mentioned before that your departure from Cryptopsy was largely the product of illnesses you contracted while touring with the band. Does Rage Nucléaire intend to play live or tour?

While it’s true that I managed to contract double pneumonia on a few tours (I kept going anyway, but the antibiotics really cut into my drinking), I actually left by mutual agreement. Flo (along with the rest of the band, I guess) and I figured I was better off leaving, so that both camps could get on with what they wanted to do and not have musical differences get in the way. Rage Nucléaire will play live, here and there, if we get the right shows—major metal festivals, big shows, whatever. We are, to a man, mired in our non-musical commitments—job, family, and like that. We won’t not play, but we will have to be selective.

You’re already working on a second Rage Nucléaire album. When do you expect to release it?

Late 2013/early 2014, we figure. It will stand up next to Unrelenting Fucking Hatred, never fear.