A quarter century of grassroots dedication … Thus Defiled
“In Aberdeen, our primary venue right now is a place called Musical Vision. It’s a rehearsal room and it’s got a 40-person capacity – and it’s usually the same 40 people that turn up. Then last weekend we played in Romania and there was like 100 or 200 people there, it was a pretty daunting experience, playing with a bunch of huge bands like Necrophobic. Well,” he corrects himself, “huge bands for the underground metal scene.”
“It’s got to be a hobby,” says Marek Steven. “Most of the bands are happy just to get a record label to pay for printing their album, get a percentage of sales or get given 50 or 100 copies to sell on the road. You’re paying for rehearsals every week, you’ve got to buy equipment. Touring in the UK’s a nightmare – you’re sleeping on floors, and lucky if you sell some T-shirts and break even. It’s very DIY. People do it because they just want to play.”
And that’s the thing. For all the shoestring budgets and day jobs, the complaints about the lack of venues in Britain or hipsters co-opting the scene, everyone I speak to is wildly enthusiastic about the health of underground metal. The way it keeps shifting and changing, how it encompasses a teeming multiplicity of styles, or the return of printed fanzines called things like Bardo Methodology or Becoming the Forest, the latter the work of a visual artist called Una Hamilton Helle, which explores “how the aesthetic and philosophy of black metal has become entangled with the topography of the northern hemisphere’s abundance of dense spruce forests”.
The list of great bands I’m told to listen to is endless – Live Burial, Wytch Hazel, Insurgency, De Profundis, Eliminator – while Crypt of the Wizard appears to be burgeoning. They’re launching a label to release an album by Ghold: “An experimental sludge band,” enthuses Charlie, “really heavy, a fucking difficult band.” And they have other plans for expansion. “People keep coming in and saying there’s nothing like this shop in the north,” he says. “So we’ve had this idea to build a mini, mobile record shop and take it on tour.” Do they have any particular vehicle in mind? “We’re looking at hearses at the moment.”