Band – Live Suffer Die
Album – A Voice From Beyond Death
Country of Origin – USA/Canada
Genre – DSBM
Release Date – March 20, 2020
Label – Moribund Records
Author – Hayduke X
The album A Voice From Beyond Death is one of the most harrowing listening experiences I’ve ever had. The instrumentals are a maze that locks you in from start to finish, while the vocals are those of tortured souls chasing you through each twist and turn, snapping at your heels. It is with a great deal of pleasure that we bring you an exclusive track from this album entitled The Twin Witches of Ruin. I’ll let you get to the track right away, but scroll past it to read my review mixed with a really incredible interview with the vocalist Lörd Matzigkeitus. Trust me. The interview, at least, is worth it.
Photo Credits: Main Photo – Elizabeth O’Rourke; Lörd Matzigkeitus without corpsepaint – Kevin Eisenlord; Lörd Matzigkeitus in corpsepaint – selfshot; Lance Gifford – provided by Moribund Records.
I hear 14 voices, Each one sounds a lot like me.
A Voice From Beyond Death starts with a galloping drum beat, followed by a snarky guitar riff, followed by a shriek of despair, then whispers of madness. The opening track sets the tone for the album. Madness reigns supreme, and not the fake “Oh, I’m so crazy. Look at me type either.” The madness portrayed here carries the weight of visceral honesty. The vocals are what really carry this track. That’s not to say that the music isn’t well done. It really is. It may not be exceptionally complex in it’s spare, driven beauty, but the composition nears perfection is accomplishing what it needs to.
While the voices portrayed in the many different vocal styles featured on the track (all by Lörd Matzigkeitus of Thy Sepulchral Moon/The Black Sorcery/The Projectionist fame) weave through depression, grief, mania, paranoia, hatred, and more, the music is the deep current in the bleak, black sea. At about eight and a half minutes, the music kicks into overdrive, which feels like a crisis moment in the psyche of the protagonist, only to move back into the internal argument.
Lance Gifford, of Bitter Peace, was the creator of this project, including the music composition. For reasons explored in the interview woven into the tapestry of this feature, it is his last offering to us, the audience. Perhaps his most real and true offering. Let the voice of his music ring loud.
Hayduke X: Start at the beginning. Tell me about the genesis of this project, the permutations it went through, and how you got involved.
Lörd Matzigkeitus: Lance Gifford started this project with Vardan initially. His main band was Bitter Peace. He was going through a lot of personal torments and he wanted to use a DSBM project to expunge himself of it I believe
HX: So part of the purpose for him was a sense of catharsis then?
LM: Very much so… we will delve into that later… Vardan couldn’t fulfill his commitments to Live Suffer Die, so Lance sought out a singer who could portray the wide array of suffering he was going through. At the time in 2016, he’d spoken to me about it and I suggested mixing clean, tortured vocals with a broad spectrum of screams and shrill cries…to capture how he felt (and I as well, was going through a vicious break up myself)
HX: So, did this end up being catharsis for you as well?
LM: More than anything I’ve ever recorded…..you have to be unwell of mind to burst out those Nattramn-esque screams. The more we recorded them (at Soul December Studios) the more grief overwhelmed me. It was so loud and hitting the compressor so hard I had to lay down in the vocal booth just to get far enough away from the mic. My lung capacity is impressive… I’m 6’8” and what came out absolutely shook me. I remember being mentally and emotionally exhausted as I drove home from the studio. These were vocals that were pure expression. Not trying to sound “evil” or “metal” it was a sincerity of pain.
HX: Wow! It sounds like you really went through the ringer during the creation of this album on many levels. Did you find that going through the process of recording this helped you in the long run? Did it end up actually being cathartic?
LM: Helped me? I wouldn’t say that. I think invariably all the music I make is aimed at cathartic release of vast amount of depression and anger. There is a place for it… due to black Metal, I’d say I’m a functioning manic depressive.
HX: I will say that this album strikes me as incredibly visceral and real. I’m not generally much for DSBM, to be honest, but the strength of actual emotion on this album is incredibly gripping and intense. Do you think that’s typical of the style, DSBM in particular, that many involved use it to work through those sorts of emotions to allow themselves to function?
LM: I think DSBM has been diluted from the original intent which started as very sincere and gut wrenching. But with any piece of underground music that achieves a modicum of success, there will be those that parasitically latch onto it and the result is watering down the greatness of it.
HX: I would say that comment speaks to my experience with the genre. I have found much of it to be boring, or watered down, to use your expression. Perhaps the listener can tell the sincerity by how it affects them?
LM: I’m not sure about others. I’d venture to say pain is subjective. For some, making albums isn’t enough of a shield to face their demons.
HX: Yeah, I can see that. That’s a great metaphor. It’s a shield, but not a cure.
LM: I’d say true art is self-evident. Under the same context you’d be able to differentiate real coffee from decaf. It is…it’s a crutch. A scream in pain, not a surgery to repair.
The rips will ache to be sewn, And likely find no value enough for
DSBM. Depressive Suicidal Black Metal. According to rateyourmusic.com:
“Depressive black metal is a sub-genre of Black Metal which features an overall monotonous sound, repetitive and frequently droning guitars, apathetic drums, occasional minimalistic keyboards and atmospheric ambient passages.”
Through a surface listen, you could conclude that this description matches what is happening on A Voice From Beyond Death. There is certainly a monotony of sound which lulls you into some semblance of a trance-like state. Droning guitars? Check. Apathetic drums? Sure, sometimes, I guess. However, though many other DSBM projects I’ve tried do fit this general description, they also fit the following: boring and unimaginative. LSD is different. There is nothing boring here. Aspects such as the downright mean guitar in Fisted Aspiration of Sanctuary belie the possibility of ‘boring’. Gifford almost literally pulls his messed up hardwiring from his brain out for us all to examine. He spills every last dark emotion out through six strings and drum beats. He uses tension to ratchet up the foreboding, to create intensity that sits with you and festers long after the album ends. His pain rings so true that it is nigh impossible to be unaffected by this album.
HX: Well put. When we first connected, you indicated that there is a story behind this album. Would this be a good point to have you share that?
LM: Lance and I made this album in 2016. As I’d stated, we were both going through our personal hells. When I sent him the vocals, they were so manic and broad, from a whisper to a shrieking cry. It was difficult for him to mix because I was a lot more inexperienced with recording as I am now. So he worked at it for a while then got frustrated with it. He loved the vocals, but it was quite the challenge. During his efforts, the structure of his life fell apart and he had to move out of his family home. I’d check in with him, and had gotten the mix you hear now, working with Destroyer of Appalachian Noise Records….I tried to show him, but life was torturing him and he couldn’t focus on it….
HX: Just to clarify, the mix on the album was done by you and Destroyer of Appalachian Noise?
LM: Destroyer did the mix, based on my recommendations.
In May of 2019…after much silence, he reached out to me….
He said he wanted me to promise him I’d get the album finished and put out. No matter what. He then laid out how he’d had an irreconcilable fall out with his lady and that he was going to kill himself after his daughter’s wedding and honeymoon. He didn’t want to spoil her special occasion. I pleaded with him, consoled him and by the end of the conversation, Lance seemed OK. He died in September. Right after his daughter’s honeymoon, just as he’d said.
HX: Wow! That’s really intense.
LM: I approached Odin from Moribund Cult Records about this release when I found out Lance was gone. He and Odin has been friends 30 years and had tape traded in the late 80s. It seemed important to me that his friend be involved in what I believe was Lance’s final wish.
HX: What does it mean to you that this is coming to fruition? That the album is coming out as he wanted?
LM: I told Odin I didn’t want money at all. I wanted all proceeds to go to Lance’s family, so they could enjoy how much he loved music and that it could maybe bring them some solace. I signed a deal with Moribund to that effect. 100% of the royalties go to his family.
HX: That’s a beautiful thing to do. I’ll make sure to do my part by purchasing a copy as well.
LM: To me, it means just what I chose to call the album…”A Voice from Beyond Death.” A chance for Lance to serenade the world he left behind. It’s a remarkable piece of work, and as an artist, it is his final mark on the world. Listening to it causes me great personal pain, but I’m proud that I had a brief flicker of time where I made music with him.
HX: As I noted above, it is one of the most intense listening experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve been fairly obsessed with it and am listening as we talk here.
LM: I miss Lance and I know many around the underground metal community do too. It’s rare in its fragility inter-woven with might. The indomitable force of the human spirit.
HX: Do you think there’s any larger take away either for those suffering from mental illness or the people who are close to them?
LM: In some ways no… as someone who has suffered with depression/anhedonia all his life, it isolates you inside your mind. You could perhaps hear this album and think of it as a warning of sorts… but a life is yours to do what you wish. If it is garbage to you, then so be it. I work through it. I have goals I want to achieve. Namely the publication of the operettas I write for the Projectionist and the legacy of words I will leave behind for my children to read when I die.
Bruce Lee refers to life as a pebble dropped into a pond…the time during which it falls is a flicker, but the ripples echo through the ages. I hope the LSD album resonates with those that want to take their lives, and maybe helps them work through it as I do.
All spears are held with trembling as the gates are about to be kicked in.
Self Destruction Ritual seems familiar, in the first minute and a half. It took me some time to figure it out, but I finally did. It reminds me of God’s Going to Cut You Down by Johnny Cash, or more accurately, the Panzerfaust cover of said song. I’m not leveling an accusation of plagiarism here. They are far enough different as to be almost certainly coincidence. Even at that, it has as much to do with the texture of the track than anything else. I hope this comparison is recognized as the compliment it is meant to be, as the Cash track is one of the most gut-wrenchingly dark songs I know.
From that grim beginning, the track rolls into a groove, that picks up speed with all the menace of a Centurion sharpening his spear for the battle he must soon join…with you.
After six and a half minutes, the track passes, hangs in the balance, then drops back into the slow paced groove, the warrior circling again. This kind of build and tense, almost-release mirrors, in come ways, the cycles of depression that are all too typical in far too many. If Gifford meant to delve into the darkest recesses of mental illness and stretch it upon the rack of his guitar strings, then mission accomplished.
HX: The album starts with the track 14 Voices. On this track and throughout the album, your vocals go through many different styles, from shrieks, to rasps, to whispers, and more. Are all of the different styles meant to be representative of different voices speaking within our head? They almost seem like different personalities at times.
LM: Very much so. It is a place I frequent mentally where I can hear the calling of such conflicting voices. A committee sitting at a table in someone’s mind, bickering violently. I may not consider myself the best vocalist in black Metal, but I do pride myself on being among the most versatile. This is an expulsion of schizophrenic torture. The penultimate battle within. I wanted it to sound as it feels.
HX: Honestly, your vocals are incredible, not the least of which due to the versatility. How have you developed your vocal style? Or perhaps I should say styles? Do you have particular inspirations or influences?
LM: I just….don’t care if anything sounds “good” or “harsh”….. I just sing how the music makes me feel, irrespective of how anyone might approve or disapprove. I make the album I want on my wall, not the one I Hope praise falls on. I guess you could say, my voice has a liberty that comes from having no regard for anyone’s opinion.
HX: That must be freeing to be able to let go like that. I would think that’s an incredibly tough thing to do. Have you had any formal training?
LM: My vocal influences? Jim Morrison, Ian Curtis, Nattramn, Hat of Gorgoroth, Attila of Mayhem….Mark of the Devil from Cultes Des Ghoules
HX: That’s quite a varied list. Given the diversity of your vocals, that makes sense though.
LM: I have not. I do train myself. I sing in tune with keyboards. I practice manipulating inhaled vocals a lot. It’s surprisingly versatile and as a singer, if you get sick before a show, you can still perform inhales because you are sucking air into your lungs/throat not vise-versa.
HX: I understand that in addition to vocals, you wrote or co- wrote some of the lyrics.
LM: On the LSD album I wrote 3/5 lyrics. Normally I write all the lyrics in all my projects (I write an average 140-160 lyrics a year) But I felt in this case, Lance has some genuine emotions that I could really reflect on and do justice for.
HX: Which are his and which are yours?
LM: His are “14 Voices” and “Veins Wide Open”. Mine are “Twin Witches of Ruin”, “Fisted Aspirations of Sanctuary” and “Self-Destruction Fiend”. They all drive towards a common purpose though… they belong together.
HX: Yeah, I would agree with that. For the ones you wrote, did you write with the music already in hand or did you write the lyrics separate from music?
LM: Never. My whole music career it’s words first. I write freely without compromise for what I feel needs to be said. When music is put upon me, I choose the lyric based on how the notes make me feel, Then I force the words to fit, whether they want to or not.
HX: What is that process like, fitting the cadence of the words to the cadence of the music?
LM: For the Projectionist BM operas, I’ll actually ask my musicians to read the operetta and play to how the story affected them… but that’s a different story altogether.
I’ve been singing in metal bands since I was 18-19, it’s second nature to me. I can feel the changes happen as music unfolds…I just…know. So much so, that once I was asked to perform live vocals for a band I’d never heard before. I got up in a packed club and performed vocals based on lyrics I invented off the hip, with conviction… and no one knew it was my first time hearing those songs.
HX: Wow! That’s a pretty incredible story. Was that a one time thing, or did you do more with the band after that?
LM: Some photos from that show…the only show I’ve played without corpsepaint in 15 years. Just a one-time thing.
HX: Getting back to Live Suffer Die, your style for your lyrics is very poetic. What’s your writing process? Do you go through multiple drafts?
LM: I get up very early in the morning. I start work at 6:30 am, so I often arrive at work around 5:30 am to fabricate time in my day to write. I sit in my work truck, drink coffee and write whatever comes to mind that morning. Either from dreams or continuing the operetta I was working on the day before. My grammar is very good. I don’t use spellcheck, so if I revise anything, it’s only when I’m sending it to my muse that I notice anything off and correct on the spot. Very rare though. I certainly never do more than correct a single word. Same with recording vocals, the first take is always the most sincere. 99% of all my recorded vocals are first takes.
I am a poet. I’ve completed writings for my third book recently. I’ll be working closely with Moribund on releasing that.
HX: I’ll certainly watch for that. Are your prior two also available through Moribund or somewhere else?
LM: I’ve recently sent copies of my second book “Chapel of Astaroth” to Moribund Cult that will be available to fans. My first book “Catharsis Spoke her Virtuous Evil” is long since sold out.
Dread has barked sufficiently in stabbing modesty,…
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Enter guitar. Enter howls.
I honestly can’t decide which track is my favorite on the album, but Twin Witches of
Ruin is a strong contender (as well as the track we are streaming for you today). A slow burning heat crawls and creeps throughout this near ten minute masterpiece. Many emotions are found represented on A Voice From Beyond Death, but nowhere is a palpable rage felt so clearly than here. This is burning hatred that is so thick with venomous intent that it can be carved with a blade. The fire of destructive fury glows white hot with malevolent intent. The riffs are so simple, cycling through a repeated ominous build and release that never actually releases, that is until the end of the track. Twin Witches ends with a guitar solo that is almost triumphant, a puzzling part of the album, not least of which due to the fact that it fits so well.
HX: I’ll certainly watch for the Chapel of Astaroth to become available then. I’d like to talk specifically about the track Twin Witches of Ruin, which will be streaming with this interview. Do the Twin Witches represent anyone?
LM: The Twin Witches were two interlopers in my life back then which caused me much anguish and carved a rupture in my foundation at the time. I decided to render them as a metaphor, of witches luring the listener deep into a forest apart from what truly mattered to them. The final words were “swim to the moon, And leave this place”. A haunting cautionary tale of being swayed by wanton women.
HX: How do you feel about how this track turned out?
LM: I feel like Lance concocted a mesmerizing sweep which mirrors the alluring withdrawal into collapse. His guitars spoke more powerfully than my Catharsis. They seem symbiotic listening to it now, far away from the grief that inspired it. You can certainly feel at your core the sense of failure and self-hate inside it.
HX: Yeah, I agree that it’s very powerful. I was struck by the guitar solo at the end, which seemed out of character with the rest of the album, but yet didn’t seem out of place.
LM: I’m pleased that he should have the final word in the song. Perhaps it was intentionally left in a contemplative, sombre tone. That all mistakes ought a time of meditation afterward. His guitar achieves that.
HX: Do you have any other thoughts on Twin Witches? Anything I may have missed?
LM: Twin Witches of Ruin was my favorite lyric from that time frame. It is thorough in its revelation, the agony of seeing the ultimate flaw in one’s own character, and the pain of having your weakness lead you off that cliff. Considering all that transpired afterward, I’m grateful I survived those dark times. This song, is the musical equivalent to “Danger—DO NOT ENTER” flagging tape.
No longer a burden I care for, Veins wide open, Excuse the necessary mess.
After three tracks with lyrics written by Lörd Matzigkeitus, Veins Wide Open gives us Gifford’s final recorded lyrics, a fitting end to the tragedy represented by this album. Calmer, more peaceful, more contemplative, the music here is almost soothing, providing a gentle flow for the bilous tones of Lörd Matzigkeitus’ vocal articulation of Gifford’s manifesto of defeat. Listening to this, in light of the reality of the events surrounding this release, leave me utterly gutted. May Lance Gifford’s final musical statements live long and loud.
HX: How about a brief update on your other projects.
LM: The Projectionist proudly announced recently that we signed a multi-album deal with Moribund Cult to release the black metal operas I’ve written. “The Stench of Amalthia” will be delivered to print on February 4th for an April release. It’s follow-up “Matriarch of the First Drained Veins” is 80% complete, with some minor details and mixing to be done. I’m well ahead of our commitments there… The Black Sorcery will have our third full length recorded by fall of this year, and we are exploring label options at this time. Thy Sepulchral Moon has a split with Grizzly Fetish on the horizon, as well as we expect to record our first full length album this year. I’m also 50-60% complete recordings for the fourth Lörd Matzigkeitus solo album, which is a harsh-distorted violin based old school black metal album. The violin is, after all, the Devil’s true instrument. The third Sartoraaus album will see light on vinyl this year as well. Satan finds work for idle hands.
HX: Sounds like lots of good things happening on all fronts. Do you have any last thoughts to share on A Voice From Beyond Death as a whole? Any big picture things I’ve missed?
LM: This will be the only LIVE SUFFER DIE album. It marks the last gasp of Lance Gifford’s remarkable career in black metal and his most sincere effort. Let his voice ring out, that his death may not be an end to his story. May he rest in deep and dreaming peace and may our work on this record be Sanctuary unto you who need it
HX: A fitting final statement for this interview. Thank you so much for your time and for your incredible, in-depth answers.
LM: My pleasure. Thank you for your intelligent inquisition and the time spent listening to the music.
Biography: Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. Beginning in 2018, he also began writing for VM Metal Underground. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B Productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.