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Finsternis BIO (The Long Version) As told by Anreischken the bassist and wheel man

Posted at 02:12 PM on June 14, 2009

Finsternis in German means “darkness, obscurity, or gloom”. It is the ugly sister of the more literal “dunkelheit”. Finsternis was also a Black/Doom Metal band that existed from the years 1998 to 2001 and was based out of no other place than Waco Texas.

It all started when Nettie Davis, and I were playing in a band called Dark Embrace, also out of Waco. Nettie had moved there from San Antonio and I had strolled in from Living in Richmond, Virginia. It was fucked up from the beginning because I had just turned 24 when I auditioned for the singing spot in that band. The rest of the band was all 15 and 16 years old. I was just looking for someone to jam with, having been displaced from my old Death Rock band called Dead All Day.

The music was all over the place, we played Slayer, Venom, Black Sabbath and our own breed of frenetic, Texas bar metal. Nonetheless, Dark Embrace became a functional working band and after serious paring down of members was just me on bass and vocals, Nettie on guitar and the drummer, John so it was easy to divide up the money we made playing all the shitty halls and bars in Central Texas. Playing in a band with Nettie was crazy because we would have to dodge the TABC at shows and sneak her past the cops every time we came home from a gig because she was underage. We lied about her age, actually both of their ages, until John turned 18.

It was in the midst of all this lying, gigging and beer smuggling that I ran into this raggedy blackmetal band from Kerrville called Dreadmoon. Their singer, who called himself “Vitzel”, left a message on my answering machine after reading an article about D/E in a local ‘zine. He was into doing some shows together so I met up with him at Cricket’s Grill with some of the other guys from Dreadmoon. As it turns out, we both have a taste for German beer and used to live in Europe so we got along well and over the course of the night got thoroughly hammered.

I woke up the next day with a hangover and a really rough jambox recording of Dreadmoon, who had no musical direction to speak of and notably no bass player. But I dug it. It was raw and nasty and the people playing clearly didn’t give a fuck if it was. Looking back, they actually sounded a lot like Ulver, who I also like.

I didn’t know the difference between Black Metal and Black Pudding. At the time, I had lost my taste for Death Metal, except for the occasional bout of Entombed. Everything that happened in that genre since the second or third Deicide album was totally lost on me. I had no Idea about all the shit that went on in Norway and other places in the early 1990s. If you had asked me about Black Metal, I would have probably said something about Venom’s seminal album of the same name.

Dreadmoon had gone back to Kerrville and Vitzel was bored so I invited him to practice. At that point in time, Dark Embrace was a 4-piece band with a second guitarist. The drummer was bugging me about singing Death Metal and I didn’t want to do it. When Vitzel showed up I gave him the mic and after a couple of sessions he took over the job of singing, or screaming, rather where I still sang the songs where actual singing was required. It was completely retarded but it was the action that eventually led to the Finsternis line-up.

On the way to a gig, I was driving the van, John was in his truck with the drums and Vitzel and Nettie were in the back of the van with the amps. I knew something was up when they stopped passing me the bottle of Port we were sharing. They ended up hooking up from there on out. It was ironic, because my soon-to-be ex-wife and others had accused me of screwing Nettie and no one could see past the fact that our relationship had always been nothing more than guitarist/bassist.

Long story-short, after John found out about Vitzel and Nettie Dark Embrace became a soap opera and I bailed out. We soon were all out of a band. My friendship with Vitzel continued and soon he was living with Nettie so we three ended up spending a lot of time together. We ended up banging out a couple of really fucked up blackmetal sounding songs in between drinking and going out in the woods and fighting with swords. What we ended up with was called “Seven Bridges” and was about 15 minutes long.

We all got together several times to work on “the Seven Bridges Project” and decided that maybe it was time to form a band. I now had a house worth practicing in but we needed a drummer. Enter my brother, Clayton, known as Kuester in Finsternis lore. As it turned out, we needed a drummer and his country and his country and western band needed a bass player. I decided to take one for the team and I ended up having to play some country while Clay jammed on the Seven Bridges opus. Luckily the country band folded. Clay was stuck with us and I wasn’t stuck learning boring country bass lines.

Seven Bridges ended up turning into 3 songs, Resounding, The Journey and Halls of the Wicked and “The Project” ended up being called Finsternis. I chose the name. Having grown up in Germany and loving the German language despite not speaking it very well, I thought “Finsternis” described us perfectly. The band agreed.

Finsternis Part 2

Waco is a horrible place to be a band. It is an even more horrible place to listen to bands. Waco has a reputation throughout Texas and elsewhere as a place that spawns bands with virtually no musical substance at all. The greatest compliment a band from Waco can have is, “You don’t sound like you’re from here.” In other words, Waco’s scene isn’t much different from any other.

At the time Finsternis was formed, Waco was even less informed about blackmetal than I was. Having been suppressed for years by the cruelty and avarice of the Baptists, Waco was cut off from modern music, especially metal and consistently remained buried 20 years in the past.

When Finsternis started doing shows in the area, we knew there was going to be a problem. The bands we played with were the embodiment of the aforementioned sophomoric clusterfuck of nonsense and we knew we had to do something to separate ourselves. We already had put ourselves out there as something new. We played a style no one else was playing; we hit the stage in corpse paint and carried weapons around. At every show, there was the mead. Vitzel’s brother taught us how to brew mead; the honey wine favored by the Vikings and complete with drinking horns and loud oaths to Odin, became part of the show. At every Finsternis show, there was a lot of drinking and we soon got a reputation for drinking bars dry. For a brief period, we got many shows with other bands because we were something of a curiosity.

The great division began at an outdoor gig called “Rockstock” in Waco. Rockstock was the wet dream of some big extravaganza of Waco bands, blah, blah, blah. They made the mistake of inviting us. We agreed to play on the condition that we would not play in the daylight. Finsternis would not hit the stage until the sun set. The people who arranged the show agreed but since they were high most of the time, they forgot this. More on that later.

The guys arranging the gig were actually adept enough to con the local radio station into airing commercials for the show. On the way to work, I started hearing commercials, which made it sound like a big deal. One day I got a call from the radio station that, we and a couple of the other bands were supposed to do an interview.

All of the bands showed up on time. Finsternis showed up in full blackmetal regalia. Everything including the swords. The other bands just showed up in street clothes. We made fun of the whole event. I threatened to barbecue peoples’ children on the air and the DJ ate it up like a free buffet. To the chagrin of the other participants, Finsternis was the topic of discussion for the entire interview.

The next day on the way to work, I noticed that our tune, Halls of the Wicked, was now the music bed for the commercials and the announcer now put a lot more gusto in announcing FINSTERNIS as one of the bands. It was like blah, blah, blah FINSTERNIS and don’t forget about FINSTERNIS oh yeah and there are these other guys.

We had already pissed everyone off and we hadn’t even played yet.

We arrived at the show at sundown. Several people had recognized the van and followed us in yelling and screaming. The guy at the stage was pissed. “You guys were supposed to go on at 8:00”

“Hel no.” I told him. “Listen, I said not before sundown. I told you we’d be there at 8:30 and here we are. Are we playing or what?” Now most people don’t get away with giving an organizer attitude like that but the sad reality was that now there was all this anticipation about us being there so we more or less had the guy pigeon-holed.

He told us to set up, so we did. We set up torches and played 4 songs, including a cover of “Paint it Black” by the rolling Stones, done Death Metal style. People went absolutely apeshit. Finsternis made the show that day and after that we had for the most part, earned the enmity of all the local bands. We were simply the only band there that had a show. Everyone else relied on the fact that most of the audience was made up of their dope smoking friends. We did not have that so we had to put on a show.

By this time, I learned that what this place needed was a villain. All of the bands there in Waco had the “Hey, let’s all be buddies and smoke dope together” attitude. Typical scenester bullshit you would find anywhere. Finsternis had to be the band to call bullshit on all that bullshit and stick the middle finger in everyone’s face. We just happened to have the right chemistry of people that was perfect for that very thing.

It wasn’t hard to have an attitude when you already want to blaze everyone around you with a machinegun and kick the leftover parts like a soccer ball (or football as the rest of the world calls it). Our jobs were shit, our houses were shit, and in the case of Kuester and me, our wives were shit. We played hard, we drank hard and then we’d get the practice swords out and beat the crap out of each other. Nettie hit me in the groin more than once, I stomped Vitzel’s foot hard enough for us to have to perform emergency surgery (I and Kuester held him down while he slugged whiskey and Nettie cut into him with a razor). I bloodied Nettie’s nose and Vitzel busted her lip. The next day at work, she was asked if her boyfriend was hitting her. I am not sure how she answered that.

The bulk of Finsternis shows at this point were out of town. We played several clubs in San Antonio and there were always the occasional revels with Dreadmoon. I was Dreadmoon’s unofficial bass player when we would get together for some insane bonfires that resembled more of a Viking Blot with metal music than a show. In time, Dreadmoon got their own bassist and the groups really took their own direction. Dreadmoon still sounded like Ulver and they started attracting a lot of Nazi skinheads, and militia types, which made for some bizarre meetings. Their singer’s house was raided by the ATF and there was a guy who I am sure was a federal rat perpetrating a metal dude hanging around.

Finsternis kept to its purpose, which was to establish a haunting, mystical blend of music that both welcomed and defied the ideas of blackmetal and the way metal was constructed in general. Most of the people who reviewed Finsternis never did get this, hearing only a song or reading our bio. Seven Bridges became “Eine Finster Nachtmusik” a 25-minute opus of continually changing phrases. Metal written like classical music. This was Finsternis in 2000, a rough and ready chamber orchestra with a screaming vocal and chainsaw guitar.

Finsternis History Part 3

The rift had grown between the rest of the local scene and the villains known as Finsternis. We were a not-so-local band that did most of our shows out of town. Eine Finster Nachtmusik was known more in Denmark than in Texas, thanks to the recent Internet explosion. As the group’s de facto propaganda minister, I usually handled that area. Even foreign dignitaries were unsafe from our villainy. More on that later.

After Rockstock, there became in the minds of some local bands the need to proclaim themselves as “Extreme Metal”. The one actual rock radio station in Waco had shirked the Baptist authority enough to play modern rock, so the Denizens were now forced to realize that Black Sabbath was old news and that there were new musical ideas out there. Most latched onto the so-called nu-metal and began to emulate the personas of those bands. I guess that was “Extreme” to them. I thought it was gay.

The rift was completely dug in 2001. I guess the planets had aligned on the side of misery and hatred. We got a call from a new local venue (these open and close in Waco all the time. It usually starts out with “dude we need a scene” and ends when they realize the only scene in Waco is the other 10 guys in bands and they want everything for free). Anyway, we took the show because they gave us $300. It was our first in Waco in awhile and was to be our last for even longer for reasons I will soon explain.

We assembled and laid out the plans. We all hated Waco. WE REALLY HATED WACO. We had to do something to make it obvious what we thought of Waco, the scene, and the completely big gay mess. Everyone called him or herself extreme now and could make the claim because we were not around to call bullshit on it. Now we could and we were going to call it. Big time.

One problem we always had was the fact that we were always stuck playing with a bunch of nu-metal retards. This time, we had an ace in the hole. Dreadmoon. They had gotten organized enough to play shows as a band rather than a weird, sacrilegious performance art. We knew that if we told Dax, their leader and front man that we were going to do fucked up shit, he would do his best to take it all to the next level.

Nettie and I made 400 flyers and handed them out. Waco was about to have its first and, as far as I know, last blackmetal show.

I went to Wal-Mart and bought a pig’s head and some cow hearts. I even found a brain, which I originally planned to eat with some scrambled eggs but later donated to the cause. Nettie and I later went to a local dog food factory and bought a large bucket of cow blood. I was not sure what we were going to do with this stuff yet, but it really had potential. Dax called and told us he had a pig head too. You gotta have pig heads to do a good blackmetal show.

The day of the show came and we loaded in. People were showing up and everyone seemed to be in good spirits. That lasted until Dreadmoon’s Nazi flags went up and the skinheads and the straight-arm salutes and the weapons… Holy Shit.

As Dreadmoon played we all drank. My horn was being passed around and between the two bands and a few others 5 gallons of mead disappeared along with numerous beers. By the time Dreadmoon finished, the scene had degenerated into a Dante’s Inferno of crust and filth that even I could not have planned. The pig heads had been chopped up with axes and swords and we were kicking them around like footballs. The Nazis had everyone pissed off and simultaneously wanting to fight but afraid to move. The club owner was hiding. Everyone with the bands was in corpse paint so it was as if the Huns had invaded and taken over.

Then we went on. Vitzel walked out onto the stage as we played with the brains in his hand. He took a bite of the raw brains and threw the rest at the crowd. Who thought it was funny until they realized those were real brains. As we played our sloppy-drunk set the crowd seemed to relax a bit, until I let loose. The bucket of blood and beef parts had turned to jelly and as I held notes on my bass, I began to pick up chunks and hurl them into the crowd. They reveled in it for about three seconds. Then the smell of putrefied blood hit and people began to vomit right there on the floor. When I was out of ammo, I kicked the bucket into the crowd, who had backed WAY off. It bounced across the floor, blood going everywhere.

Drunken idiots were still sliding around in the gore, carrying pig heads, and throwing up. We played our set as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.

By the end of our set, the club was empty save for the two bands. The blood had coated the floor and been tracked all over the club. The bathroom had been destroyed so people had pissed and shit all over the place like animals. It smelled like death. There was vomit, blood piss and shit everywhere. Holes were bashed into the walls. Some chick was walking around saying she was raped (this turned out to be bullshit, thank the Gods) There were junkies fallen over and shooting up in the bathroom, which was also full of blood, piss and shit.

We started out at a blackmetal show and ended up being G.G. Allin back from the dead.

After collecting our money (Yes, we got $300 for that) we left the scene and I spent the remainder of the evening in my underwear in Vitzel and Nettie’s front yard getting the blood washed off, having taken the worst of it. Ever seen the movie “Carrie”? I pretty much looked like Carrie at the prom after they dumped the blood on her.

The club never recovered, always smelled like death and eventually shut down. Our gear never really got the stench out of it either. I found a chunk of guts in the pick-up hole in that bass 4 years later, no shit. We never did another show with Dreadmoon. We just were not about the Nazi thing.

I am proud to say, however, that we were now officially the enemy of literally every scenester band in Waco. None of them ever put “Extreme Metal” on a flyer again either. “Extreme Metal” was something none of them ever wanted to experience again.

Eine Finster Nachtmusik completely sold out of the local record store. I guess there is no such thing as bad publicity. It was later re-released by “Profane/Regimental Records” and after selling out once again, went out of print forever.

This was definitely the end of Finsternis ever being invited to play anywhere in Waco, but not the end of Finsternis.

Finsternis History Part 4

After the infamous “pig show”, we went on a bit of a hiatus. Actually, we did not do a show for 5 months. The funny part was that no one would stop talking about it (and no one did for about 4 years). At the time, Nettie and I worked as assistant managers in a Hastings record store while we went to school. She was working on a music performance degree and I had gone back to school for music management.

Often, at the record store, we worked the checkout lines. Since we always performed and appeared in corpse paint as Finsternis, we had the humorous pleasure of being able to strike up conversations with customers about the band without them having any idea to whom they were talking. We saw quite a few copies of Eine Finster Nachtmusik make the way through the checkout lines. Always we would ask the customers what they thought of Finsternis.

We got a lot of “I don’t know, I just heard they were totally insane.” Once again, no such thing as bad publicity. Naturally, we fed the hype from the retail front. “Oh yeah, they’re fuckin’ nuts! Good thing you bought that CD, I think they’ve been banned.”

The most die-hard Finsternis fans who ever lived were the Borski brothers, 3 of them total. I knew, the oldest, Joel and the second, Chris were into us. One day their mother went through the lines with the youngest brother, who must have been 10 years old. He was buying a Crazy Town CD and I poked fun at him for it.

His little smart ass snaps at me, “Oh yeah? What do you listen to?”

“Metal mostly.” I now realized that he had no idea who I was, though his mother knew me by way of Joel.

The kid cracks back, “Oh yeah? Ever heard of Finsternis?” He even pronounced it right. I could not believe he was calling me out by the name of my own band.

I laughed aloud, “Boy, I AM Finsternis!” and he looked at me as if I was crazy and then it dawned on him who I was. I don’t think Joel ever stopped giving him shit about that.

When we finally resurfaced, we had changed both as individuals and as a band. We had a conclave and once again figured out what we needed to do. We had to finish our full length, for one. Our set was now about 50 minutes long and we needed to record a new CD. Eine Finster Nachtmusik no longer represented us, and despite its resurgence thanks to the Internet, we had to admit it was not the quality we wanted.

We also needed to start playing again, but this time, instead of proving how nasty we could be (Gods know we had that in spades), we needed to remind everyone that we could play and create a good show. We still did not give a rat’s ass about the scene. We wanted out own scene, where we decided where we played and who we played with.

The three main vehicles for this were Joel Borski, a long time friend and fan who had become quite an accomplished bass player and now had his own band, club SNAFU, a dive in Waco where I had the job of bouncer/doorman (ironic I would end up protecting a club after being known for destroying them). However, as I said, we had changed. I had quit smoking, put on some weight and gotten into weight training, swimming and running so I was a lot more fit and looked more like a healthy headbanger than a pissed-off drug addict. The third thing was demons.

I guess this would be a good time to talk about demons. Some sort of evil spirit plagued Finsternis throughout its life. Actually, this started as far back as Dark Embrace, but got more vicious during the Finsternis days. This was not surprising, considering we were an engine for negative thought and energy.

Whatever the Hell followed us around would throw amplifiers, injure club owners and I am more than certain, burned down a club in San Antonio where we were supposed to play. Any club where we applied to play that refused us would close in 6 weeks or so due to some bizarre circumstance. At one point we were so sure that demons were following us, we built a Talking Spirit Board (Ouija for you laypersons) and attempted to make contact. No luck with that, though we did have some strange experiences with the board.

At our return to the living world, the demons were back with a vengeance. Hastings had started allowing bands to play on Fridays and since Nettie and I were working, there incognito we booked a show for ourselves. Thanks to Joel, we had another band that would always open for us and not ask questions. Another local band, Doom Caravan invited them to the gig somehow, but we let it ride. More bands, more attention. We found a good soundman with a PA and made all the other bands pony up to hire him. We were at a loss on where to draw all the power for this, but the crafty sound man found an outlet on the huge metal pole that held the giant light-up Hastings sign on Valley Mills Drive. All day long, everything was groovy and the bands played without a hitch.

Finsternis was a better-equipped, slicker package of music than ever before. We had fire cans and tons of candles to light the stage. 5 months in the woodshed had us playing tighter than ever and we had all upgraded our equipment since we started getting ready to lay down the full-length. We had new songs to share and even some new clothes for the stage. We were ready!

Our set lasted exactly 20 minutes. Call it overloading a circuit. Call it demons. Mid-way through Halls of the Wicked, the power to the entire shopping center went out. My bass was suddenly no longer making noise. I checked the bass, the cord, and my amp. The light was out. I checked the plug and the power strip was dead. Kuester stopped playing his drums about that time and we all looked around. I looked up at the Hastings sign. Black. I unplugged my bass and walked out to the crowd.

I pointed up, “We killed it!” I announced. The crowd cheered!

Hundreds of people showed up. They were all drinking. Now the parking lot was trashed. The shopping center was without power for an entire day after that. The sign failed to work for nearly 3 years. We had totally blown it to HELL! Hastings did not let any bands play there for a year until the store manager finally quit.

Instead of coming out cleaner and meaner, we were the same old Finsternis. We put on a hell of a show, pissed everyone off and ruined the hopes and dreams of all the other bands by destroying a potential venue. Once again we strutted off as if it didn’t mean shit all the while wondering if we were going to be sued or go to jail.

It was great to be back.

Finsternis History Part 5

SNAFU was the perfect name for a home base for a band like Finsternis. SNAFU, for the uninitiated, is a quasi-military acronym for Situation Normal All Fucked Up. As I mentioned before, I started working there in late 2001 as the bouncer. As it so happened, I was also the guy in charge of collecting the cover at the door when bands played.

SNAFU hosted all sorts of bands, from punk to jazz and damn near everything else except for rap. Sometime in 2002, after the owner and I got to be friends, I inquired about having Finsternis play a show there. We had once again been exiled from Waco but played nearby in other towns and I thought this would be an opportunity.

Now the full-length album was done and though we had not released it, we had made a stack of promo CDs to give away. The songs were well played and we had put a little more money behind the production so we actually had an adequate master recording.

Still, it did not represent us as well as we had hoped, but the beauty if Finsternis was always the atmosphere of chaos and panic that we created when we played live. Something like that really cannot be packed onto a CD. You could not be hit with the heat from me spitting fire or sprayed in the face when I spit blood or quaff a horn of mead with the band while you listen to a CD, well that part a few people did at our houses but not everyone could. Still, it was an adequate master and good metal.

Gerard, the owner of SNAFU asked what kind of band we were. Good question. Finsternis was not really a blackmetal band, though the influence was clear. We were not doom or death metal. One reviewer described us as “Epic Viking metal with a hymnal atmosphere” or something like that.

“We’re heavy metal.” I said.

“How heavy are you?” He asked, “Do you scream all the time?”

“Yeah, we scream, but we also growl and chant.” I had to add, “We get pretty rowdy. We wave swords around and stuff.”

“That’s crazy.” He replied. “Let me hear it.”

I played it and he liked the sounds. “Does your audience drink?”

One thing I learned from working the bar was that club owners really do not give a rat’s ass what your band sounds like. If you are terrible, they just go outside. What they want is a crowd who buys lots and lots of beer. Beer sales make bar owners happy. Period.

Luckily, that was no problem with us. The band usually drank enough for everyone by themselves. Everything after that was gravy.

“Yeah our crowds drink,” I said. “And if they slack off we’ll make them drink more!”

In June of 2002, Finsternis played at SNAFU and brought along Joel’s band, Morgatory and Doom Caravan. As soon as the announcement was made that we were playing, people started calling Gerard and telling him that we were Nazis and that we were going to destroy his bar. It was an action we anticipated. We had received hate mail, death threats and even virus attacks on our website (thwarted thanks to our crafty webmaster Bill). Religious wackos mailed hate mail and pamphlets to us and I had to remind a couple of people that we were ready to fight if they wanted. I even challenged a guy to a duel with pistols after he accused me of making out with his wife at a show. I do not recall doing any such thing. However, he sniveled away so I called him a coward and a poltroon and we heard no more of that nonsense. (That kind of shit would only happen with a band like Finsternis).

Finsternis had nothing to worry about. Our houses were full of weapons. We had swords and we knew how to use them. I even taught knife-fighting drills to the band when we would go out and fight. We had shotguns, assault rifles, and bolt-action rifles with scopes, bows and pistols. You could have featured Finsternis in Soldier of Fortune magazine.

Yep, makes me proud to be an American. The Second Amendment was in full effect, a “well-regulated militia”. Our right to keep and Bear Arms would not be infringed and we would fuck your shit up.

I explained to Gerard that we would not trash his bar and that the guys calling him were haters who were jealous because they could not play a show with us. I do not think he believed me but he let us play anyway.

The crowd at that show was amazing! People responded to our announcement like roaches coming out of the woodwork. The bar was full to capacity and I had to work the door while the opening bands played because we had to let one person in as another left so as not to violate the fire code. It was easy to divvy up the pay because most of the door was in my pocket when we hit the stage. We also had T-shirts to sell now, which makes a big difference in the size of a metal band’s coffers!

It was not our rowdiest show but a good one and we got united with some old friends. There was Brandon, former lead singer of Doom Caravan, Fat Jenk, who now wails for Subterranean Fecal Root and even John, former drummer for Dark Embrace. I think a lot of people showed up to see if we were going to do something fucked up again but whatever, I’ll take it. The important thing was we got to play our whole set, plus an encore, nothing exploded or got pissed on and Gerard invited us back and did not fire me. He actually remarked that our crowd was well behaved and was not shy about drinking. Well-behaved? How not Finsternis! At least the drinking part was still spot on.

Finsternis History Part 666-Denouement

In the end, Finsternis was not destroyed by its’ enemies, unless you consider real life your enemy. Maybe we did. Club SNAFU stayed home to Finsternis until its last show on Halloween 2002.

The place was once again packed to the gills. Finsternis on Halloween, what could beat that? We had the mead going in full force, the entire audience was dressed as corpses. No other band I know ever accomplished that since the advent of blackmetal in Norway! We had our old friends Morgatory and Doom Caravan and added Angie Norman’s old band Grimloc to the night’s line up, which played a cover of The Misfits’ “Halloween” to get things started. Very Nice. I announced all the bands up until Finsternis.

We hit the stage with fog machines and burning candles as usual but this time, the blood was back. Luckily, it was fake blood this time that I had made at home. When I first swilled it out of my chalice and let it pour down my white shirt (which stayed white for about 3 minutes) the crowd withdrew. They remembered. But what? No foul smell? No pigs?

Once they realized the blood was fake, they lined up and let me spit it right into their faces. I was a veritable fountain of gore once again, but somehow now it was acceptable. The Halloween show 2002 was finally the Finsternis that it should be, and it was over.

Fuck it, man. If you are going to bail, do it at your most badass.

Real life ended up getting the best of us. We finished school, started getting real jobs that let us move out of our shitholes but unfortunately away from each other. It is as simple as that. You get an opportunity to not have to eat shit for breakfast anymore and you take it. We were always mercenaries but never soldiers.

If Finsternis had continued we would be a dark metal Super group by now, like Dimmu or Cradle of Filth with album covers that have holograms and shiny glittery stuff that costs thousands of dollars. That would also be really fucking gay. I’d rather people remember Eine Finster Nachtmusik, the fray of the pig show and standing face to face on the floor with me when I spit blood into their mouth.

As for the full length, I still have it, unreleased as before. Maybe death is not the end.

Black Fucken Metal

We all wore the uniform full time back then. We had to. Waco had no blackmetal band before us and few fans that represented it. With Finsternis, we made it a point to wear the uniform. Black pants, black boots, black shirts, leather jackets, trench coats or cloaks. In other places, that sort of thing is moot but in a Baptist shit-kicker town like Waco, it was fucking heresy! The more people gave us fucked up looks and the more rejected by everyone we were, the more of a badge of honor it was to stick the finger in their face. When people saw us they knew exactly who the fuck we were. The only difference is we did not wear corpse paint unless we were appearing as a band.

I am always the type to not give a shit what people want. If everyone else had been wearing blackmetal gear, I would have made it a point to wear a white Mickey Mouse T-shirt and dare anyone to say shit about it. I also did not give a fuck how long my hair was. I let my bass speak for me in Dead All Day and I’d grow my hair until it started pissing me off then I’d shave my head, military style and start all over. In Dark Embrace John and Nettie bugged, me about growing it out so much I finally did, and as of this writing, I still have not cut it off. I have been tempted though.

With metal, you are out of uniform if your hair is anything in between long or shaved to the skin. I seriously thought about shaving it, but then I would have to put corpse paint over my whole head and I would look like an egg with a face drawn on it.

The entire effect worked well for Finsternis. It gained us notoriety and once again set us apart from other bands. We were free to go incognito on days when we were not meeting. Even then, it was obvious we were into something fucked up, except for Kuester who kept his head shaved and mostly wore his work shirts (which his work gave him for free so he took full advantage).

I speak of it as a uniform because it is. There was even a quasi-military way that we behaved. Blackmetallers and we were no exception, often refer to each other as “Warrior” and greet each other with “Hail!” like Roman Centurions. They often add titles of nobility to their name like “Count”, “Graf”, or “Lord”. You do not see many Dukes or Earls though. I guess Lord Luftkrankheit sounds cooler than Earl of Airsickness does. Wherever we went, we always walked shoulder to shoulder, in ranks. I do not think we consciously did it this way but nonetheless it was so. When five or six of us marched in ranks people just got the hell out of the way, sort of like the French surrendering to the Germans as they marched under the Arc De Triumph. If it was just one of us alone we just got looked at like we were diseased or had been in a terrible accident. When we were en masse, mothers picked up their kids and bolted for the door.

There was one exception to this, the incident I refer to as “the brave little Christian” incident. Sometime in 2000 Finsternis and Dreadmoon were hanging out down in Kerrville for one of our revels and after sleeping it off, we packed into the van and went down the hill to a restaurant for breakfast. We always ate pretty well because we all liked food as much as we did drinking, so when we had food it was usually an event and we acted much in the manner of Visigoth warlords at court. At the restaurant, there were probably 12 of us, all decked out in the usual uniform. As we ate our breakfast, this girl gets up from a table where she and four guys were sitting and makes a direct line towards us.

No one had to tell me why she was doing this, because I had seen it before. Usually, Christians like to get you alone to preach and try to convert you. Most of the time they bring backup, especially if the person they are trying to convert looks hostile. We were not only hostile but busy being feasting Visigoths and This chick walked into the middle of us and introduced herself.

I spoke first, “Hey there.” I looked her in the face. “I know what you are doing, but you really shouldn’t do that with us.”

She looked right past me and pointed to Dax’s t-shirt, which featured Judas Iscariot, a one-man blackmetal project that we liked. Still do actually.

“Do you know who Judas Iscariot was?” she asked Dax.

In the most condescending tone I have ever heard, Dax replies. ”Why, yes, he’s the disciple that betrayed Jesus.”

Not sensing (or choosing to ignore) Dax’s sarcasm, She asked something else to the effect of why we would like someone who betrayed Jesus. Had she asked me, I would have gone into some Gnostic diatribe, but she had asked Dax instead. I had said my bit and had gone back to slopping up the blood from my raw steak with a pancake. AAAAaarg! Address the wench, Count Sarrick, whilst I eat my bloody pancake!

“Because one day the forces of darkness, will unite with the gods of our ancient pagan ancestors, destroy Christianity and bring heaven down in flames.”

And there was much rejoicing.

The girl burst into tears and fled back to her table. We fully expected a row but her male counterparts were not as brave as she was. I have to give her props for walking into the hornet’s nest like that, but she is going to need thicker skin if she wants to deal with Visigoths.

The blackmetal religious connection is atypical of other extreme music styles. Death Metal guys are usually just your average beer drinking, pot smoking headbangers. They just wrote more morbid and morose lyrics for shock effect. Blackmetallers always seem to evoke some type of spiritual significance to their music and focus more on haunting and ambient sounds, at least traditionally. By the time I got into blackmetal, it had already turned into such a muddle of influence that it no longer made any sense. As it was explained to me, though, you had two factions, the Satanists and the Norsemen. All blackmetal was essentially designed to invoke chaos and spew hatred against the God of Christianity and some bands remained exclusive to this purpose and like Death Metal, used Satan as a symbol of reproach. Some players actually got into Luciferianism and other misanthropic religions. Others sought out regional or ancestral gods and goddesses and developed a new litany of neopagan spirituality, similar to what I originally encountered with Dreadmoon; bonfires, blots, hails to Freya and Odin. Other groups swung toward Celtic and even Sumerian themes. Somewhere in the middle were Vampires, werewolves, trolls and other creatures of fancy. It was sort of like Bram Stoker and Tolkien on methamphetamine. Finsternis lyrics bore similarity to all of that but they read a lot more like Beowulf than the Satanic Bible. Hence, we described ourselves as Epic, haunting blackmetal.

By the end of Finsternis’ reign of terror, blackmetal was a little more understood by at least the metal folk although the guys out wearing black now were a bunch of sissies (someone on this site referred to them as “mall Goths” and that have about got it right). When the Visigoths known as Finsternis parted ways, there were bands coming out with the sounds of Doom and Death Metal, following carefully the path we so wantonly scorched in the earth. Just like in History, after the Goths sacked Rome, the Western Roman Empire became everybody’s bitch. Likewise, after Finsternis sacked Waco, other warriors began to band. As of this writing, though, there has been no other blackmetal band in that city.

As you know, Finsternis DID finally release Sea of Blood. It is now available from Killers by Trade Publishing. Old Warriors never die!