Throw Me a Frickin' Label Hack: Whore of Bethlehem

Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack. WoB_logo_alpha

As we did last week, today we focus on a band that came to our attention at last month’s Maryland Deathfest.  Guitarist Phil King gets enthusiastic when talking about metal, specifically describing the ins and outs of his black-glazed death project Whore of Bethlehem.  The band consists of a handful of Texas extreme metal vets who come together to make a Christ-raping racket with hints of Behemoth and other death-heavies sprinkled over the top.  The band’s debut full-length, Upon Judas’ Throne, has been available digitally since May, and Whore of Bethlehem are gearing up for the album's physical release.

We’ve got a full album stream right here for you at the Deciblog, and while you listen you can get to know the guys via their thoughtful interview responses below.  Don’t mess with Texas!

Phil, what did you think of MDF? How much did you see, and what were your favorite performances? Have you come out for MDF in the past?

Phil: I really enjoyed MDF, and for me being able to see some of the classic metal bands like Candlemass and Asphyx was pretty amazing. Asphyx really blew me away live, just like Candlemass and many other bands. There were so many bands I went to go see, and certainly none of them disappointed.

Among my favorite performances were Asphyx, Candlemass, Agalloch, Mgla, Immolation, Inquisition, Taake, Tankard, and our good friends in War Master. Unfortunately the only stages I got to see were between Edison lot and Ram's Head Friday thru Sunday, so Ryan and I missed out on Crowbar for the pre show as well as Impaled and Visceral Disgorge over at the unofficial venue.

I've personally never been to a MDF in the past, and it was really awesome to see this one. Outside of the music it was great to see multiple labels, merch of all kinds, and the other metalheads from all over the world to talk to and do a little networking. I met up with my friend from Kylla Custom Rockwear, among many others. That's the best part about some of theses massive shows is being able to just hang out with others that love the music. Major musicians included.

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What do you think of the current metal scene in your area?

Ellis: The Austin and San Antonio metal scene are as healthy as ever, especially when it comes to extreme metal. There are metal shows almost every week, and the venues and people here are very receptive of the metal musicians

Phil: The local scene in Texas is alive and well. There are a large number of bands from all over the area, and a lot of them are well known. Obviously larger known Texas bands like Devourment, Imprecation, War Master, Infernal Dominion, and Head Crusher are here but there are a number of really solid up and coming talented bands that it's always a pleasure to share the stage with. Cleric from Dallas, Id from Austin, Flesh Hoarder from San Marcos, Vex from Austin, and Morgengrau from Austin among many others. There's no shortage of good metal that's for sure and people should take note!

What was it like recording this first complete full-length? Good experience? Rough? Weird?

Phil: Recording the first full length was actually pretty solid. While this is the first release for Whore of Bethlehem, many of us have played in other bands and done full length or EPs in the past. I personally have two solo projects, Brunanburh and Cocytus, which were home recorded and got me used to the process involved. Ryan and Rene both played in Scattered Remains, and Rene has done recordings with Disfigured, and Flesh Hoarder among others as well.

We've all been around the block a bit and this isn't our first band, for me however it certainly feels like the first band with all the right motivation and backing to really get things going somewhere real. It's a lot of hard work and takes more than one person to bring it all together, and we all work really well together with that in mind.

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Do WoB members have some favorite bands or musicians who inspire your direction?

Ellis: My favorite local Austin band is Id. They play extreme metal unlike any other band around, and their bassist Alex is inspiring and very tasteful with the parts he plays.

Phil: We all have a lot of similar, and yet very dissimilar musical tastes when it comes to inspiration. For me and my writing style for Whore of Bethlehem I pull a lot from Blood Bath, Immortal, Amon Amarth, and Behemoth as influences. Sounds almost like it wouldn't fit, but I believe we have a very organic blend between black metal and death metal in Whore of Bethlehem. Most of that is due to Ryan, as most of the songs of the debut album were written by him long before I joined the band. I added some flare when I joined, and helped round out the last few songs for the album.

Ryan: Every member certainly has their own unique tastes in music, but there were definitely a few important bands that heavily impacted our sound. Vader, Dissection, Angelcorpse, Disincarnate, Morbid Angel, Monstrosity, and Dark Funeral would be the big ones. My goal from day one was to combine my favorite elements of the early 90's death and black metal bands, which I feel comes across strongly on this album.

Your lyrics seem pretty vehemently anti-Christian. Is this a personal issue for you, or is it just a fitting theme for your musical style?

Phil: I can't speak to the rest of the band, but for me it's just fitting of the music. I'm not vehemently against anyone's personal beliefs and teachings, but I'm certainly not personally affiliated or a fan of religion. I can respect anyone’s faith and belief system as long as they can respect my lack thereof.

James: In Whore of Bethlehem we like to keep things dark, evil, and heavy. I personally have a distaste for religion in general (as do the rest of the members) and target Christianity more so because it is so prevalent here in the United States. Faith is for the weak minded who can't wrap their brains around the idea that one day they'll die and rot, period. We try to appeal to a crowd that can think for themselves, and aren't enslaved by the limitations and boundaries of organized religion. However, we aren't necessarily bound to that particular lyrical theme. We also have songs like “Castle of Meth”, which is about a drug induced nightmare. Or “Hideous Resurrection” which takes the zombie apocalypse route... Actually now that I think of it, that song is vehemently anti-Christian as well. \m/

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How did the artwork for Upon Judas’ Throne come about?

Ryan: The idea for the album cover was to come across as evil and brutal, but somehow try and be unique at the same time. We chose the title, "Upon Judas' Throne" because it holds a double meaning. On one end, it kind of glorifies Judas for betraying Jesus Christ. Also, the Judas chair was an instrument used for torture and execution hundreds of years ago. The person would be forced onto a single spike which would impale them through the vagina or the anus. I also believe that it was used primarily as a punishment for prostitutes. The woman on the chair is supposed to be the Virgin Mary, the "Whore of Bethlehem." We all thought it was clever, and Gwooki did a great job bringing it to life.

No matter how many times I see your band name, I always want to call the band Whore of Babylon… it’s a tough cultural idiom to overcome. Have you experienced these slips of the tongue before? What are your thoughts on your choice of band name?

Ellis: My mother actually posted "Whores" of Bethlehem on Facebook, and that one letter makes a world of difference *laughs*

Phil: I've personally never experienced this, but it does get a couple of odd looks from time to time. I think the name is great, and very befitting the material written, even though it may or may not be difficult at times to sell a t-shirt from time to time with the word Whore written on it.

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What are Whore of Bethlehem’s current and near-future plans?

Phil: At the moment we are keeping a steady stream of shows going, spreading from Texas shortly into other states with some big named bands in the local area. We have a self funded debut album , and we're planning to shop that around to any potential labels that may be interested while working on new material for the next album (we're about 4 songs deep on that one already).

The website is up and running at www.whoreofbethlehem.com, and we're working on a mini tour near the end of the year that will go up the mid west through Chicago and Wisconsin among other places. Make no mistake, the WoB train is moving and it's picking up a lot of momentum as it goes. Keep an eye out for us!

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