For those of you who don't know, Barghest is a black metal band from Louisiana, featuring members of doom heavyweights Thou amongst their ranks. As my review of their new album will tell you, don't expect anything pretty or shimmery to come from these folks. Vocalist Dallas Smith offers insight into Barghest's existence and his thoughts on Barghest's place in the US black metal scene.
Hey Dallas, thanks so much for the interview!
My pleasure. Thanks for the oppurtunity to spread the word of Barghest.
Tell us a little about Barghest: the band's inception, focus, et cetera.
The Band formed in 2006 in Baton Rouge, La. Since the inception, the only focus was to create the aural manifestation of hatred and disdain. Violent and unsettling.. Grotesque and raw.
The "Practice" mp3s that have been floating around the internet have more in common with...I don't want to say "depressive" black metal, but more on the melancholic side, whereas the official "Barghest" release on Big Mountain Tapes and Gilead is much more fierce, twisted, and angry. What caused this directional change?
Well to be honest, it was the product of a young band finding its way. Those tracks did have a sort of melancholy atmosphere, as you stated. I think through that dark and mournful sound ,we eventually found the anger and hatred to finally be able to start creating what we felt inside of us all along.
There hasn't been much news about your solo project Arcane Burial, which has yet to release anything physically. Is the project still alive and, if so, are there any future plans for it?
It is very much still alive, just on a lenghtly hiatus. I have been devoting most of my time to Barghest and my other band Nemain. The tracks on the Barghest debut are quite old at this point and we have been in serious writing mode. Regardless, I still have lots of material that I am working on getting released when the time is right.
With your guitarist Matthew Thudium in the prolific and ever-touring Thou, does this affect the amount of time you would rather spend on Barghest? What are the intra-band dynamics like with one of your guitarists gone so often?
Honestly, it doesnt affect the band very much from a writing standpoint. Matthew and myself both help write riffs but the majority of the writing is done by Jason.
Your vocal style is very distinct - are there any black metal vocalists you might try to emulate? What metal vocalists do you admire or revere?
Unlike a guitar player or a drummer, there is no real way to emulate your favorite musicians if you are a vocalist. Its such a personal thing and only you can sound like you. With a conventional instrument you are able to learn techniques and ways to emulate your favorite players sound. With your voice it isnt really possible to do that. Having said that, I really dont try and sound like anyone else. I just know the feelings that im trying to convey through my voice and do my best to make that happen.
As for vocalists that I admire within black metal, I think Hoath Torog (Sargeist, Behexen) is my personal favorite. Outside Black Metal and even extreme metal in general, guys like Dave Vincent, Mikeal Akerfeldt, Jon Nodveidt, Aaron Stainthorpe, Danny Cavanaugh and Layne Staley are all favorites.
People normally read about Louisiana sludge and doom bands, but what is the black metal scene like?
I'm not sure Louisiana HAS a Black Metal scene. There are only a handful of bands doing anything remotely Black Metal influenced. Theres of course Goatwhore and very few others.
What are your thoughts on the current US black metal scene?
I have always been proud of USBM. It seems to be looked down upon but no one can deny bands like Demoncy, Grand Belial's Key and Absu. Unfortunately, the vast majority of "black metal" from the states these days is absolute shit. Its primarily bands of Pelican fans that heard Wolves in The Throne Room a few years ago and decided Black Metal was the thing to do. Not my thing...
Any closing thoughts?
Look for our debut LP on Gilead Media very shortly. Also look for new releases in the not so distant future. Were also planning a very special tour by the end of the year. Support real USBM.