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Eén van de meest vermakelijke platen die ik in 2017 mocht bespreken, was zonder twijfel ’Death Is Proof Of Satan’s Power’ van het Amerikaanse horrordeath gezelschap Vaultwraith. Sterker nog, ik werd zo vrolijk van die release, dat ik dacht ”Kom, laten we die lui eens benaderen voor een interviewtje…” – en zo geschiede. Een gesprek met zangeres en tekstschrijfster Alucarda Bellows, over liefde voor muziek, metal, zelfspot, Oude en nieuwe horrorfilms (en kerst horror), King Diamond en de aankomende releases van Vaultwraith.

Door: Sicktus | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

Hi there! Can you start by introducing yourself / the band to our readers, and tell us something about the origins of the band?
I’m Alucarda Bellows, vocalist/lyricist/songwriter. The fellows of the band are The Warlock (guitars/bass/synths/main songwriter), Esteban Walpurgis (vocalist), and Baron Blood (bludgeoner of skins). Vaultwraith birthed into the world finally in 2016 when we began work on our debut album after many misfires as both bands AND what we intended to become a horror comic book. We all knew we wanted to construct a band incorporating the best elements of our influences and we set out to create a unique band. I think we have succeeded. I hope we have at least.

Thanks! Well, with that out of the way: congrats on ‘Death Is Proof Of Satan's Power’! I absolutely loved the album. I described it as “The Coffinshakers, Ghoul, Nunslaughter, Necrophagia having a bar brawl with ancient Candlemass, Autopsy and Celtic Frost, with Dario Argento directing the hell out of it and King Diamond in charge of stage props.” Just out of curiosity, would you say that is in a way accurate, recognizable, acceptable (or plain laughable)? And how have reactions been so far from the metal community / media?
Goddamn, that’s a great description of what we sound like and what we stand for. We’re huge fans of Candlemass, Celtic Frost, King Diamond, as well as fans of/friends with the guys in Nunslaughter, Necrophagia, and Autopsy. The Argento reference is much appreciated also as horror movies and horror culture play an obvious role in the lyrical inspiration and imagery. The bands I mentioned are some of the biggest influences on our sound and concepts as well as classic Metallica, Venom, Bathory, and Iron Maiden, and speaking for myself, my biggest vocal influence is Dead (Morbid/Mayhem). Quite a mix. As for the reactions to the album, all who have given feedback seem to genuinely enjoy what they hear. We’re very proud of our first effort and the response has been overwhelmingly inspiring for us. We’re already prepared to dish out our second offering...

Are you yourselves happy with the result?
Absolutely. It’s darker than many of my past bands, speaking for myself, and as I age I feel like my direction with things NEEDS to be more mature and dark. I’m sure I speak for everyone in the band when I say this. As for my lyrics, they are definitely on the Satanic side, but I'm an atheist. The occult and Satanism are what I'm drawn to write about most because it creates the best atmosphere.

I really like how you have been able to blend a ton of influences and turn it into a ghoulish, nightmarish, heavy metal infused rot’n’roll-ish take on death metal. To be honest, the album really brought a stupid grin to my oldschool death loving face. The groove, punch, atmosphere, yet also the raw and honest approach.... It is catchy and grimy at once. What was the sound you set out to achieve?
Yes, for sure! We all agreed the ingredients for a great album include fluctuating sounds with every song, but retaining the same vibe throughout, and to have the lyrics read like mini horror stories; that’s definitely the King Diamond influence. When I discovered King Diamond, I was really young. The first song I heard was ‘The Bell Witch’. It lured me in immediately because that was a legendary tale I heard throughout my childhood living in Kentucky and Tennessee. To later find out he was Danish and was writing about a local legend was so cool to me and it made me excited about the possibilities of storytelling with music. It was one of those pivotal moments in my life because I had just started writing songs on guitar and it set my path lyrically in a lot of ways. Hail the King!

It seems you take your music very seriously, but don’t take yourselves overly serious, if you know what I mean. Writing and recording awesome tracks is the goal, but there is room for some humour and self-mockery as well, is that a good description of your approach to music with Vaultwraith?
I’m a natural born smartass, and I think the others in the band can say the same for themselves, so yeah in some ways we like to take the piss out of everything, including ourselves at times. I hope to never be seen as goofy, gimmicky or overly "fun". It’s just us doing what we do. It is part of the formula I guess you could say, haha.

You’re all quite active in the metal scene, besides Vaultwraith a ton of other bands and running Razorback... Is metal almost like a fulltime job for you? Would you want to do this full time?
It’s definitely full-time and I’m thankful that I have the opportunity to indulge in my passions with making music and helping out other bands. It’s weird, in some ways I feel like I’m just getting started because I have so many ideas and goals that have yet to really take shape and form. 2018 will be a busy year, but I’m ready for the work and ready for other things to come my way. I, myself, am always ready to go – always ready to work. All of us in the band are.

Your album will be available on CD, tape and vinyl, which I love, especially the splatter vinyl. What is it that makes (extreme) metal still a genre where people want to own a hardcopy of their music, instead of just the digital download (legal or otherwise)? It is not just the oldschool fans that just keep on buying records, collecting them, supporting the bands and underground labels, but it is also – albeit on a smaller scale – the newer, younger fans, who have been raised in the digital age. Why do specifically those younger fans as well keep on buying the hardcopies, you think?
I feel like metal/extreme music is something that people connect with deeper than most other genres/sub-genres. These people aren’t casual listeners; these people are bonding with the sound, the messages conveyed, the imagery, the cathartic impetus of the artist, etc. I’m not saying one can’t connect with pop music or pop fans aren’t as ardent as metalheads, but it just seems like extreme music has a community of people who think similarly and are generally more sentimental than a casual listener who doesn’t understand the emotions and sentiment one feels with music. That’s just the way I see things. Plus, there are many people out there who love to collect and for them, tangible media is still part of their life, or if they’re young and never really experienced record store days they have that curiosity of what it was like to hunt down an album and to own it and hold it in their hands.

So let’s talk horror. It’s obviously a big theme, an influence even, for you guys. What do you think of the “modern” horror landscape? I for one am not a big fan... The remake of “It” got a lot of raving reviews, but I actually fell asleep during that one. Lots of tropes, clichés, but not in a good, self mocking way... Big budget does not a good movie make, I say. Have you seen any newer horror movies (or even remakes) out there that are actually worth watching?
For the longest time I shut out new horror movies because I didn’t want to waste my time. It seemed every single one I would give a chance I shut off, fell asleep, or just took the piss out of it, ha! I can name a few though from the early 2000’s that were pretty fucking cool (The Calling, Kolobos, and Session 9 to name a few). Lately though, I feel like enough time has gone by and people making horror movies want to go back to the oldschool way of doing things. I was in an anthology flick a few years ago (called Hi-8) and had the privilege to work with Donald Farmer (Savage Vengeance and Demon Queen), and the other filmmakers were oldschool directors doing things the oldschool way. That’s the shit I can dig. Also movies like The VVitch, a French movie called Raw, House Of The Devil, It Follows, and Julie Delpy’s The Countess were some KILLER choice cuts from the past decade. There are more titles that escape me right now.

And if we go back to the oldschool side of things: do you prefer the old Hammer House Of Horror movies, or are you more a Troma / splatter / sexploitation type? Or perhaps the Italian 70’s horror?
I like it all, but have to be in a certain mood for the goofy shit. About 95% of the time I’m throwing on some classic Spanish, French, and Italian fare. I've always, ALWAYS loved foreign movies of all genres. I’m a huge fan of Walerian Borowczyk, so lately I’ve been indulging in his works Immoral Tales, The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll And Miss Osbourne, and The Beast – filthy, erotic sophistication if you will, haha! I totally dig sexploitation and all other exploitation films. Speaking of, it’s about time to bust out my Black Emanuelle box sets for viewing.

Bonus question: what is your favourite Troma movie? And screw it, it’s Christmas(sacre) season, what are some (let’s say 5) of the best or most enjoyable horror flicks ever, that our readers should plan of watching during this Helliday season? I’m gonna guess that ‘Baron Blood’ is a contender here...
My favourite Troma flick is Class of Nuke’em High, but Toxic Avenger is so goddamn close behind. It’s almost like you could watch them back to back as one long movie, ha! Christmas movies I can actually go on and on about. Obviously Silent Night, Deadly Night 1 & 2 are the top contenders, but if you want a killer performance and a disturbing character study Christmas Evil is the best (John Waters’ favourite, and stars Fiona Apple’s dad) right next to the original 1974 Black Christmas. If you’re wanting to take the piss, Jack Frost (the Mutant Killer Snowman) from 1997 is a hilarious horror-comedy that I watch every year. Never gets old. Gotta love Don’t Open Til Christmas though it’s a fuckin’ mess, but hey that’s what weed is for. Silent Night, Bloody Night is another great classic I’ve always dug, and of course gotta keep the tradition of the first segment in Tales from the Crypt (1972) with Joan Collins called All Through the House...

And just for fun: best King Diamond album ever? It’s gotta be ‘Them’, ofcorpse, right? Would you be open to doing a King Diamond cover and if so, which would be your favourite?
‘Them’ is CLASSIC, dude! Again, reminds me of the urban legends and folklore tales we would tell each other growing up in the backwoods of Kentucky. The vibe through that album is perfection. Damn, as for a cover song I think we would all have to agree on ‘Sleepless Nights’ though there are so many! As much as I would love to break out my clean vocals on that, we would definitely have to keep it death metal vocals for Vaultwraith. That’s something that will be consistent with us.

Ok, back to Vaultwraith, with this being the first album, what can we expect from Vaultwraith in the (near) future? Any more recordings planned, be it full-length, 7”/EP or split? I really love the EP format, would be cool to see you guys do one in the near future!
We have two 7” releases lined up – one with Nunslaughter (Turanian Honour Productions) and the other with Crucified Mortals (Selfmadegod Records), also a split cassette release with the band Mangler (Von Frost Records), and we’re finishing up work on our second full-length album, yet to be titled. We’re staying busy and I love it! I feel privileged everyday that I have work constantly lined up.

Any touring planned, as of yet? Would be awesome to have you guys play the Netherlands Deathfest!
It would be amazing to tour but that’s not in any plans as of yet. I enjoy playing live and it’s been a while since I’ve been on stage, but for me it’s always been about recording. I love the creating, writing and recording process. Being around a ton of people is hard for me. I’m pretty aloof so to be in the belly of a “scene” is not really my thing. I’m sure the others in the band can concur and say it’s not really for them either, but if presented the offer we wouldn’t turn it down and I would be honoured to meet people who dig us.

As we talked about earlier, you are all pretty active in other bands, projects, any news regarding those bands you’d like to share with our readers?
I’m currently wrapping up my second full-length album for my band Cauldron Burial with my new drummer Gregg Swine (Swine Infection/Twist Ending/Lincoln Love Log). I worked with him before when we did Twist Ending together with Stevo. He digs on the same black metal that I do and he's into the same raw, primitive ways of recording like I am, so it makes sense that we stuck working together on something. I was fuckin' bummed when Wayne bowed out of the band, but I totally understand he was doing his thing with his other bands.
It’s been interesting working on two full-lengths at the same time, but the dynamic of the bands are very different so I’ve been able to put 100% focus into each project. This new Cauldron Burial album is much more black metal than the debut which was a mix of black/death. I’m really excited to finally finish this album and get it out there. Definitely looking to start on the third album not too far into 2018. I have some other things coming together for next year too, yet to be announced.
Surgikill is still active. Not too sure about the second album, but we’ll see what 2018 brings for us. I'm about to write a set of lyrics for a new 7" song and then we'll be laying down some vocal tracks soon after.

Alright, that wraps it up. Any last words? Since this interview is also a promotional vehicle for you guys, please feel free to mention anything I might have missed and you want to have in the interview. I will try to work it in somewhere above.
Thanks so much for the interview, and thanks to all who have checked out and supported Vaultwraith and/or our other endeavors. We bow to you! Cheers! Hails!

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