Interview with Phil Fascania By Mike Exley

Phil Fasciana from Malevolent Creation talks to Mike Exley about ‘Warkult’, the weather and the tremendous consistency now being shown by one of America’s most enduring Death Metal bands.

It hasn’t been long since Malevolent Creation graced the pages of the magazine you’re now holding in your computer’s internet world, but it’s been a busy period for Phil Fasciana and his metal crew who have been hard at work working new album ‘Warkult’ around the festivals, in dispute with a Polish company (Metal Mind) over a very ‘unauthorized’ DVD release, reaching the goal of releasing their own DVD product and talking to the huge network that is the metal underground about their future plans, whilst still breathing hard from ‘The Will To Kill’ which was only released in 2002. I reckon Phil and company would much rather be busy though? Phil is busy preparing for yet another visit to Europe to take the new album to the masses – in league with vocalist Kyle Symons, guitarist Rob Barrett, bassist Gordon Simms and the returning octopus that is drummer Dave Culross; but he’s over the moon with the reaction to ‘Warkult’ and hoping that, this time the wheels of the promoter / band relationship will be a bit smoother than when the band last graced European shores in June.

Phil. ‘I have to say a big thank you firstly to some of the people we met last time in Europe because our relationship with our booking agents (Metallysee) was a fucking nightmare come true right then.’

What happened to you on the fateful trip to the UK? (The band were due in town for a show with Mantas). You were victims of our infamous weather, I believe; (A storm in the North Sea kept the band on a ferry for over 10 hours)?

Phil. ‘Shit happens sometimes. I mean, we were able to keep the promoter in touch with what was going on but that storm cost us a lot of money and, of course, meant we missed a killer show in London. While we were boarding the rain and wind started to get almost as heavy as our music and an hour and a half into the crossing you guys over there closed all the ports. Shit. Mother nature was one angry lady that day – nothing ever seems to go right for us. We’re planning to come back in early 2005 though, so we hope we can make up for it.’

Let’s get on to the new album ‘Warkult’ now, which is now pretty well bedded down. Tell us a bit about the process of recording – who contributed to the how the songs developed, what your mindset was around the overall style of the record, etc?

Phil. ‘Well, it was a bit of a roller coaster ride, but it seemed to work out OK, you know. Basically, we wrote the album in eight weeks and recorded and mixed it in 10 nights. That may sound madness, but we purposefully put pressure on ourselves to see if we could write an album with quality songs in such a short time. We’d written one of our previous albums – “Retribution” (1992) in only six weeks and recorded and mixed it in 5 days, so we knew it could be done, but the main question we had to answer for ourselves was, would it retain the same raw, exciting feel? It really surprised me, actually. Rob and I wrote most of the songs here at my house, just sitting on the couch doing bong hits!! I wrote a few, Rob did his, then we wrote stuff with Gordon (b) as well, and honestly, we really didn’t know how the material would work out. We then had only six rehearsals, and set to work on the recording…but it does have that rawness and, it proves that we can still do it. Death Metal is still running through our cold veins after all these years (or is that beers, I don’t know, ha! ha!).’ ‘I doubt we’ll use the same formula again, it was pretty stressful, but we’re very proud of the album. It’s very Malevolent and very consistent.’

There appears to be quite a natural shift from ‘The Will To Kill’ to ‘Warkult’, more so than in other periods of the band’s history – would that have anything to do with the strength of the understanding that has obviously come into the band during those two releases? You’ve kept the same producer – Jean Francois Degenais – and that seems to have helped the continuity?

Phil. ‘Yeah, undoubtedly. We’ve had the same song writing team now since 1997 and the addition of Kyle and the work of Jean Francois has given the band a lot more confidence to strive for consistency. Our drummer Dave obviously came back in to the line up in 2003, and that has really put us back on the top of our game, but it comes down to just feeling that you’re not restricted in what you can do. We’re definitely not limited musically, and that’s killer. The band just sounds so amazing these days. We’re planning on using Jean Francois for the next album too, though we may have that mixed by Andy Sneap. Nuclear Blast seem to think it’s a good idea for us, and I must admit, I agree. Andy did a crushing job on the last Exodus album ‘Tempo Of The Damned’, so I know how good he is, but I know that the next album (our 10th full length record) will have to be the heaviest thing we’ve ever recorded because, it might well be the last one. I know, that sounds a bit scary, but we’ve been together since 1987 and I don’t know how much heavier we can possibly get?? We’ll have to see what happens??’

I was reading the other day about another Hateplow release, the band that features virtually all of MC including Dave Culross. Were you particularly aware that you had to strive for a particular identity for ‘Warkult’ given that the Hateplow would follow very closely on its heels?

Phil. ‘No, not really. We don’t really want Hate Plow to sound anything like Malevolent. There’s no Death Metal riffs or double bass, just full throttle grind!! You’re right, we are going to record the new Hate Plow before the end of the year and it should be out in early 2005, yes. It should have been sooner, but we’ve been way too busy with Malevolent to really give it fair attention. We’re going to start recording in a few months and I personally think it will be different to the last two Hate Plow releases, you know? It will be full on grindcore, as I said, and Kyle has already told me that his vocals are going to be very Lee Dorrian-ish – old Napalm Death style!! Certainly no Malevolent similarities there!’

The live arena has been very important to your band over the years but you’re now exploiting it in a big way – with your first official live DVD – reputedly a 3-disc affair. Can you give us more details of that? Release date, title, etc.

Phil. ‘Well, we’re still putting that together, so I can’t say how it will pan out just yet. We’re playing some festivals in Portugal and Germany in the next week or two and we might put some of that on there, so I’ll let you know. It’s a difficult project to call; because we’ve never had anything like this out and we want it to cover the entire career of the band, with a lot of the really crazy shit from the beginning as well as the new stuff, it has to be very well thought out.’

There is of course, this live ‘bootleg’ DVD(“Created Live”) out on Metal Mind, Poland which wasn’t sanctioned by the band – has there been any further developments on that. I haven’t seen it, but quite why was it so bad – In a territory like that; surely any promotional material can be useful?

Phil. ‘Well, it’s just that it wasn’t sanctioned by the band, really. It’s actually pretty cool to watch and was a great show, but it was released without our permission and we still want to sue those assholes. We’re really pissed off about it, not only because we had to pick up copies, actually buy them ourselves, to see what the kids were watching and what they were bringing us to sign when we were out in Europe in June, but also, because this is ripping us off. It’s released illegally, we’ll never see a penny from it and it’s cashing in on our name!!’

‘It’s bullshit. I mean, there’s a right way to do this stuff, ask permission! That’s one of the reasons we want to do our own official DVD, release something special for the fans and get a lot of really cool stuff on there which many may not have heard. It’s hard to believe that a real company involved with underground music (such as Metal Mind claim they are) would go behind a band’s back and steal from them? I always believed that the underground scene was about helping other bands and each other to preserve this music and its fans. Metal Mind has no right to do this to people, it’s illegal and it’s wrong!!’

Talking about the ‘underground scene’, I just wondered what the band’s opinion is on the James Murphy tribute to Chuck Schuldiner and the legacy Chuck has left to the music you play. The ‘Within The Mind’ album will reportedly feature Dave (Culross) alongside your old singer Brett Hoffman?

Phil. ‘I think it’s a great project. Dave just did the drum tracks for four of the songs a few days ago, but as for hearing that Brett might be on it, I doubt that will happen. We couldn’t get that guy to sing on his own songs, in his own band, so I don’t see how or why he should do it for someone else. He hasn’t sung anything since the last show he did with us in Europe back in 2000. I think it would be hilarious to hear him try to sing a Death song – I hope James can get him to actually do it! Brett’s never owned a Death album and is not familiar with any of their music, so I would really love to hear how that might sound. He’s the laziest person I have ever met in my life and if he won’t even sing his own songs, then I really can’t see him singing someone else’s. That would involve work, and any kind of labour (mental or physical) would be just too much for that piece of shit!’

Getting back to ‘Warkult’ – there’s much of the furious stuff we know you for but there’s also a lot of control – ‘Section 8’ and ‘On Grounds Of Battle’ being two I picked out. Rob and yourself divided up a lot of the initial writing, as you mentioned but whose personality is shown there?

Phil. ‘Well, the two songs you’re on about are actually mine, but they’re just in there because they’re more mid paced, very heavy but also more melodic sounding than some of the rest. We really wanted to mix it up this time and use some different drum tempos that we hadn’t used for a while. With the rawness and pace of the recording, we could have made the album a blur of speed from beginning to end, but that gets pretty boring both for us and the listener, so there had to be a little light and shade, variety to keep it interesting.’

And the title – ‘Warkult’?  At first, an obvious title given the current situations in Afghanistan and Iraq?

Phil. ‘Well, not entirely. Every album we release has a lot of reference to war because it’s something that is very real and something we’re all into reading about and learning more about. The subject fits fit our music and lyrics very well and with this album we wanted it to be entirely about the history of war throughout the ages, not just in the present day. It’s not an album about the war between Iraq and the US, but there are two songs that make reference to it. So hopefully, not as obvious as your question implies, ha! ha!’

Now, there’s a cover on the album – Hobbs Angel Of Death ‘Jack The Ripper’. It’s not an instant well-known song to cover?

Phil. ‘No, and that’s exactly why. We recorded the song because we knew of it’s rare, cult status. Hobbs Angel Of Death released their album back in 1987, and it wasn’t really that famous but it had a great impression on me and I’ve always wanted to cover a song from it. (I’ve still got an old Metal Forces where I interviewed the man himself, too!! - Mike) I bought the album in 1988 and have always felt that we sounded a bit like that back when we started (1987). When we recorded our first demo, I really related to the Slayer-ish, Kreator, Destruction influences that kinda shone through on the record – those were my favourite bands of the era… Many people actually think it’s a Malevolent song when they hear it. We just beefed it up a bit and added some fast double bass to give it that Malevolent twist!! I’d love those guys to hear it actually!’

The last question surrounds your label situation – Nuclear Blast have obviously released ‘Warkult’ and, as you mentioned earlier, continue to be very supportive of Malevolent, but as you have your own label Arctic Music, have you ever thought of bringing everything in house under one roof?

Phil. ‘No, not really. Nuclear Blast have never shown interest in working with my label, Arctic Music, so we are purely signed to Nuclear Blast worldwide. Arctic Music is not big enough for a band like Malevolent, really. We really need the extra help getting the records in the stores and with the promotion, and only an established label like Nuclear Blast can provide that. Arctic is doing pretty well these days, we just tied up a good distribution deal with Caroline here in the US, but as far as Malevolent goes we’ll still be on Nuclear Blast.’

Well, Phil, you’ve been very demonstrative once again, and I wish you luck with the DVD when it does finally hit the shelves, but is there anything else you’d like to add?

Phil. ‘Just to thank everyone and let everyone know to check out ‘Warkult’ – it’s a war set to music!!! We’ll be back in the UK. as soon as we can to kill all, and we look forward to seeing all our friends. Cheers!!

I really can’t add anything to that. Check out ‘Warkult’. It’s a rollickingly great Death Metal assault with precision that is to be fully applauded. Roll on number ten!!

Good luck with this lot ! Regards.


Note from the Editor: Thanx a lot Mike for the Interview and to Phil for answering the question's.

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