Thanks For Asking

5 June 2012 | 12:52 pm | Mark Hebblewhite

We’re about to get a taste of America’s black metal underground in the form of Seattle’s bleakest duo Inquisition. Mark Hebblewhite tracks down guitarist Dagon and finds out that Australian metal is revered worldwide.

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"It might surprise you but I know a lot about Australian metal,” says Inquisition guitarist Dagon. “And I'm not just talking about AC/DC, who are one of my favourite bands, I'm talking about Mortal Sin, Hobbs' Angel Of Death, Destroyer 666 – Australia has always had so much to offer the metal world.”

Dagon is particularly enthusiastic about Australia's much-lauded blackened thrash scene, which is currently undergoing something of a renaissance thanks to the likes of Assaulter, Vomitor and Gospel Of The Horns. “The Australian metal underground has a real passion to it that makes it stand out from every other country in the world. Those bands are very important to black metal and Inquisition in particular. The rawer side of the thrash metal scene – Sodom, Bestial Warlust, Venom – serves as the 'heavy metal' foundation for us black metal guys. Inquisition in the very early days was a hundred per cent thrash metal band.”

Inquisition are part of a flourishing American black metal scene that has produced bands like Wolves In The Throne Room, who have somehow managed to attract outside attention to a style of music that has long been the preserve of a small audience. But is talk of an 'American black metal scene' a misnomer? Do Inquisition feel they have anything in common with, say, Krallice or indeed the hipster-approved Wolves In The Throne Room?

“There is such a wide range of styles here that the only way we can call some of these bands 'black metal' is in a very broad sense. Not all of what people call American black metal is to my taste, or even relates to what Inquisition is doing, but that doesn't mean I can't respect them for what they're doing. The black metal scene here is continually evolving and overall I think that's a good thing. As far as my band goes I think the older American black metal bands [like] Profanatica and Demoncy are far more important.”

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So does he believe that the term 'black metal' shouldn't be bandied about so freely? “I'd never sit there and say to people 'you have to do this, you have to do that, you have to sound this way, you have to look this way if you want to be considered black metal' – then, no I wouldn't. But at the same time I think that metal is more than just a musical genre and, just like being in the military, the uniform represents something and I think it's good to have a respect for the music. I know there are people out there that just treat black metal as music – something to get drunk to – and that's fine, it's their choice to do that. But for other people it represents something far more extreme and that needs to be respected as well.”

Talking of extremity, for years Inquisition have been dogged by claims that they are political extremists – a so-called right-wing National Socialist black metal band. Far from shying away from the controversy Dagon is keen to set some things straight for the Australian metal community. “There are truths and there are lies. And the biggest lie is that we're a National Socialist black metal band. I want to categorically state that we are not!

“Basically, it's a case of guilt by association. We were on a label that was directly associated with that style and we have in the past played with some bands that were part of that scene. I think the most useful way to explain the whole thing is to use the parallel of Slayer. Back in the day lots of bands didn't want to tour with them because of their imagery. We all know how ridiculous that was, and quite frankly I think our situation has been blown way out of proportion and things have got just as ridiculous.”