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Minions! We did an interview with The RAz, guitarist and vocalist of Graveyard/Kuafor Cengiz. Graveyard is a band from New York. They call their music “political death noise“, which is an unholy blend of death metal, black metal, thrash metal and grindcore. We started the interview with the mandatory Corona virus question. Then, RAz explained the concept behind their 2nd studio album, called The Sixth Extinction:
“The 6th Extinction was released on 13th of March 2020. The idea came actually after we mixed the last album, Opus V and our guitarist Custodian Killer had said: I wanna talk about Extinction. And if you listen to Opus V, we have a song called Ecological Collapse. When we started the beginning of what this idea of The 6th Extinction...and basically what we are talking is the end of the anthropocentric age on this planet due to the result of human intervention of nature, pollution. So we decided to just write an album which would show the progression from where we are right now up till the very end where there’s no life on the planet.” The story of the album is explained in stages: “We started the album strangely...Custodian Killer he plays with harmonic piano kind of guitar mix and we start about the Earth being what it is, the place of subsistence and life and mankind goes on this earth and starts to mutilate itself. And we talk about the insanity of it all as the man starts to become more and more powerful on the Earth, using materials to his own gains to consume and ravage the earth, which we see as being obscene, basically. Not giving back to nature but taking from nature. Not giving back at all. So we have this song called It is all Obscene. We talk about money then, and Money is a Virus, and how the fallacy of neoliberal economics and the system….And then we talk about USA is Dead which is funny ‘cause I have cut the video from the whole movie we made. And a lot of people came back to me and said: USA was dead about 10 years ago. (laughs) And after that we have a song called Denial which again we have a video cut out from the movie and that’s basically all the people on the top of this whole system running the world, are basically just saying: look, we are making money out of this whole situation so if we say yes, there’s a problem, about how we are living, and how the things are going on the earth, then they gonna lose the money so they deny that situation so they said, this whole thing about global warming that you told me about it’s a lie, it’s not real. It’s not happening. It’s just natural happening. And then of course when you deny, deny, deny, then the reality happens. And we have a song called Panic and Terror. And you can see with this whole virus happening now…and this is nothing. I mean if you figure out what’s gonna happen when food stops and shortages happen. And after that there’s a song called Martial Law is Nationwide which means they put the martial law to affect and keep everything under control. It’s fun ‘cause what we like about the album is that we went from standard tuning and now we moved up to lower, tuned down guitars to C. And we got to this song 6th Extinction which opens up the second half of the release. And it talks about systems collapsing and climate changing. So after that, the song Climate Shift, which is about the change in climate and which makes life unbearable on earth. Followed up by the song Mole People which is like the last survivors on earth. These are the people like, who are really the ultra rich, that could afford bunkers. Their life of course is nothing because there is nothing left of earth to live on. So it’s pretty miserable existence. Followed up by Hellstorms which means the atmosphere is gone and the planet is rained on by meteors. There’s no atmosphere to burn everything up. And then of course, Irreversible Annihilation…Everything is gone basically, the planet is gone next to human race. And Rapture of Fire and Last Extinction which means there’s no more life to be on this planet so The 6th extinction was the last extinction. There’s nothing left. So it’s a very happy kind of musical writing here.”
Then, The RAz talked about the album title The 6th Extinction and the Anthropocene. He also explained the term that labels his music as “political death noise“: “Everybody makes their own kind of branded metal. Graveyard has been around since 1991. And we back then used to call it political death noise because there’s a lot of noise and especially nowadays in the world, on TV and media devices. Now it’s just normalized, it’s just LOUD and we want to make that music that we make LOUD and overbearing. A lot of people don’t like it, that’s good. And basically it toned a lot of political things which so how corrupt these fuckers are and how all they thing about are themselves, their advantage. We conquer this country, we take resources from here. We subjugate these people. And this kind of inhumanity on the Earth which Graveyard is totally against… Graveyard is saying look, the day is gonna come when you gonna come to the graveyard. You will be dust. There’s nothing left of you. And don’t you open your eyes and see this is not worth it.”
After that, The RAz talked about the formation of Graveyard. He also had his radio show called Powersurge FM that he ran up until 1990, when he decided to form the band. And of course, the radio station was named after the infamous Overkill song of the same name. One of his listeners was Custodian Killer, who joined the band as a guitarist. He also recalled having a contest for tickets for the A Day of Death festival, October 20th 1990, featuring legendary bands such as: Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, Immolation, Autopsy, Goreaphobia, Mortician, Radiation Sickness, Lucifer’s Sickness (all on the same bill!). He then talked about Graveyard’s first 1992 demo, Slabfest. When asked about the influences, he named Tommy T. Baron of Coroner. He also stated that he likes a lot of international music even though he is from the US. Some of the bands he mentioned are Possessed, Holy Terror, Voivod, Dorcal Atlantica, Sepultura, Sarcofago, Bulldozer, Artillery, Oz (Finland). Then, he talked about the 1993 demo Vacation Dinner at the Morgue and shared a hilarious story behind the album title and the artwork. He described this demo as pre-suicidal black metal, death metal. He also talked about 1998 demo Philosophies of Reality and Displaced Souls.
The RAz also talked about living in Turkey and Romania. And he also shared some details about Romanian and Turkish metal scenes. He also discussed Graveyard’s first full length album Opus V. You can read our review of this super raw masterpiece here! RAz stated that Lemmy’s death made him reunite with Custodian Killer to write their first studio album. He also explained some of the lyrics from Opus V album where he connected the rise of Trump with the rise of Hitler.
When asked to compare Opus V with the latest album, The 6th Extinction, RAz stated: “You can say Opus V was more melodic....When we did The 6th Extinction we said, well we are talking about the extinction. We are talking about the grave. And the grave is the end. Even worse than the grave would be the extinction of the whole entire planet. So how do you put that to a sound? We said ok, it’s gotta go from bad to worse.. to extinction. So we also had to prove, to make that sound that ways as well to get worse. We downtuned the guitars to sound as heavy, darker. We can’t really have kind of like of melodic stuff there, ‘cause it’s really the end of the planet. So it’s gotta have the-end-of-the-planetary sound. We tried to achieve that with The 6th Extinction with that kind of idea going into the music.”
Graveyard also released a movie for The 6th Extinction which you can watch here. RAz also discussed about it in details. Then, our talk shifted towards RAz’s time in Romania. Back there he had a band called Black Church with Roxanne Constantine on the keyboards, a Romanian who ended up playing with the Canadian band Quo Vadis. She was also briefly a member of the legendary Canadian dissonant death metal band called Negativa with Luc Lemay and Steeve Hurdle on guitars. She was a vocalist in the band for a while but never recorded anything with Luc and Big Steeve. RAz also recalled discovering Negura Bunget in Romania. Then, RAz talked about being a metalhead in Turkey and touched on heavy metal scene in countries like Iran, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. He shared a crazy story about Sodom + Pungent Stench show in Turkey.
After that, RAz talked about his radio station show Powersurge FM. And the way he sings Overkill’s “Powersurge” made my day LOL! He mentioned some of the bands he interviewed back in the day. Some of them are: Possessed, Celtic Frost, Venom, Coroner, Voivod, Death Angel, Chuck Schuldiner of Death (RIP). Would love to hear that interview! He said that he got the lyrics for each song from the Scream Bloody Gore album, even though you couldn't have them on vinyl back in 1987-1988. He also recalled seeing Chuck Schuldiner backstage at Dynamo festival in 1998. RAz made a profound statement about Chuck Schuldiner’s legacy and his death: “The contribution that guy has made for metal and what he’s done for the underground metal scene is enormous. It’s sad the way he passed away and how he had no money and the US healthcare system didn’t really help him out because he didin’t have enough money to pay for his treatment and stuff. I think that shit has to be called out and people have to say why the fuck is this going on like this? ‘Cause people say, it’s the greatest healthcare system in the world. Fuck you man! Chuck Schuldiner is proof that it’s not.”
Then our discussion turned towards the evil and satanic stuff in metal and RAz shared his few cents on Jonas Akerlund’s Lords of Chaos movie. He also recalled a funny story regarding Keith Deen (RIP) of Holy Terror. After that, he talked about the shows he saw in the 80s such as Iron Maiden + Queensryche, Death, Ozzy Osbourne, Coroner, Possessed, Dark Angel, Crumbsuckers, Ludichrist, Megadeth during Peace Sells tour. RAz also recalled how crazy the New York shows were back isn the day. RAz talked about Destruction + Cro Mags show in New York where metalheads were beaten by skinheads and Schmier wanted to cancel the show because of that. His Schmier impression is priceless LOL!
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Order Graveyard's The 6th Extinction album: https://graveyardthe6thextinction.bandcamp.com/releases
Graveyard facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PHILOSOPHIESOFTHEREALITY/
The 6th Extinction movie: https://www.facebook.com/PHILOSOPHIESOFTHEREALITY/videos/142694653762062/
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