Words/Interview by Kelly Tee

L.A.S.H is a USBM vocalist who is busy working hard within a scene that is completely crushing it on all angles at the moment. I’m talking about the US Black Metal scene. With bestial sounds of war, low tuned guitars and vocals that resemble something inhuman – it is fast becoming a sound unto itself. I caught up with L.A.S.H who is the vocalist for the USBM projects Sangre de la Luna and Devouring Serpent for his very candid answers on  the USBM scene in general, his two said projects, geographic toxicity and future collaborations.  As for giving L.A.S.H the floor to complete this interview and after reading his response, well – knowing L.A.S.H to an extent, I would expect nothing less from him. Enjoy.

Hey L.A.S.H thank you for speaking with me. 2019 saw your release of Stirrings with your black metal band Sangre de la Luna and recently in April 2020, you released a single 'Plague of Modern Times' from your yet to be released Demo with your bestial black metal band Devouring Serpents. You are a busy man in the industry right now, however, tell me about your journey so far and how this all started for you as a black metal vocalist and musician?

Hails Kelly. I came upon punk and hardcore but got into extreme metal when my dad sent me to a Catholic school in Mexico when I was 14. Shit, that was 20 years ago which is kinda crazy to think about now. I moved back to the states in 2003 and decided I wanted to play bass for some reason, but never really found people who I clicked with and played in a bunch of shitty bands. Before I moved from Arizona I'd tried and failed at starting several projects because the people seemed to be more interested in partying and playing shows than writing good music. I'd pretty much given up on playing music until Vardlokker and I started hanging out regularly over beer and tacos.

Sangre de la Deluna is your black metal project – which you created with Vardlokker (Witchbones, Conduit Of Chaos, Dionysian Rites, Omnikinetic & Nexwomb), Your album Stirrings received great reviews.  What was it like doing this project together, given you guys are close mates and both share the same passion for this extreme art?  And can we expect more from this project?

We're very much on the same page when it comes to most things. We drank a shitload of heavy IPAs and stouts the entire time so my memory is a bit foggy but as I remember it the first two songs on Stirrings were demos for Witchbones that didn't quite fit with what he was doing. We had been getting beers at Imperial Taproom and Stella Taco, two places we both miss dearly and decided to give it a project a shot. The first two songs we dropped got a great response so we did a four more and that's Stirrings (look out for the repress on Expansion Abyss and Spawn Of Flesh soon).

We're going to start working on a full length soon.  I'm not going to say much about it currently as we're in the early stages but yeah, expect that and maybe a few more splits down the line.

Let's talk Devouring Serpents for a moment. You released your first single from your soon to be released demo, Plague Of Modern Times..which was a demolishing listen. Are you planning on teasing us with more single releases leading and when can we expect the Demo's release?

The demo tape is coming out on Red Door Records in July. Vardlokker is great with PR so I would imagine we will at some point haha.

Sangre de la Luna collaborated a split 'Northwest Winds Of Hostility' with Oppressive Descent, another deadly USBM DSBM solo project hailing from Portland. This was released in February 2020. How successful was this split for you all and how did this collaboration come to be?

Uh, funny story there. I had known Grond Nefarious from going to shows and had always gotten along with him, but it turns out we had been frequenting the same bar after work for years and when I finally went up and said hello we were drinking the same Hop Venom IPA with a Bullit Rye neat on the side combo. Vardlokker and Grond had been talking online but had never met in person, and I suggested we all go out for beers since we're all big craft beer nerds, and it just sort of happened.

The split itself was such a great contrast for me, even though Sangre de la Luna has depressive undertones, the contrast with your sound of total war, and Oppressive Desent's unrelenting Kvlt depressive sounds was the perfect match for this split. Will there be more work with Oppressive Desent's creator Grond Nefarious and yourself going into the future?

We felt it would be a great contrast. Yes, but probably not what you would imagine. More on that to come.

You are apart of some extreme torrential black metal.  How do you balance your time between these projects? And are there other projects you are dabbling in that we aren't aware of as yet?  (it's hard to keep up with you guys)

We don't play live or practice so that helps haha. I'm working on a death-doom project along the lines of old Peaceville stuff with Sean from Boethia/Desert Wastelands Productions that will hopefully be done by the fall. Also doing vocals for a black metal project with a good friend of mine in Seattle that's in the works.

We have spoken before about your music and how it is the sound of devastation and razor blades – with manic aggression and crushing soundscapes. Yet, your work is themed around a different type of struggle and warzone – can you please elaborate as to where the inspiration comes from for this type of sound and vocal fold conviction to create the pure annihilating ambiance within both Sangre de la Luna & Devouring Serpent?

Yeah, it's real life.

Like Mobb Deep said, "There's a war going on outside no man is safe from, you could run but you can't hide forever". Vardlokker and I both grew up in the LA area and the Sangre material was inspired by just how fucked up toxic the place it is.  Behind the glitz and glamour there's a lot of addiction, violence, dysfunction, and just overall disgusting shit.  That city breeds the shittiest people in every demographic (ever been to Glendale?) and I think it's awesome that the government is reopening LA because there are a lot of people in that city who are absolute wastes of oxygen and I can't wait to watch the plague ravage that city. I just hope Larry David gets out in time hahaha!

The reason we sound so fucking pissed is because we're not spoiled brats from Scandinavia writing lyrics about Tolkien. That shit fucking sucks.  Same with all those fucking lame suicidal "black metal" bands from first world countries who sound like The Cure with a retarded guy shrieking over it. Like aww, did you accidentally get addicted to Xanax?  Cry me a river, bitch.

So much black metal is just cosplay.  Just bratty kids who haven't seen real shit hailing Satan for attention.

There is such a saturation of incredible black metal/ death metal being released from all over the world, it's truly an endless void of great darkness, even in the US alone new artists are emerging left right and centre,  all of the great quality. This must make it hard as another emerging artist to get momentum with fans and within the industry? How have you tackled this? And are there any tips you can share for other artist storming into the scene?

I would agree with that.  It seems to be picking up even more now that we're all more or less stuck at home. Before that a ridiculous amount was coming out too.  I don't know how to answer that. I'm happy to talk to anyone and if I hear a release I like I try to reach out to the band and tell them I enjoyed it.  We usually hype each other's projects as well and the labels who have gotten involved lately, like Jems/Red Door/Blood Moon have all been great at helping us network. I guess don't be a fucking weirdo and just talk to people, fuck it.

Speaking of incredible black metal – the USBM scene at the moment is off its face. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, there seems to be a real movement within US black metal. It's authentic to its signature brutality and reaks of war, darkness, and pure desolation at time. There is zero façade, just musicians going for it. Is this a case of emerging USBM artists and bands inspiring off each other to create this now,  signature sound? And what are your thoughts on this movement?

I have always felt strongly that black metal has been improved by the new world.  Starting with Sarcofago, Von (the fucking GOAT, no pun intended), and Sadistik Exekution up through what's going on now, it's just always been more real. Again, probably because we're not a bunch of teenagers from Oslo who were born with silver spoons up our asses. 

Sarcofago grew up in the slums of Belo Horizonte, the same place as Sepultura.  Von sold drugs to pay for their first demo.  You would know all about SadEx I would imagine haha.  Varg's parents paid for his early music career.  Big fucking difference.

That shit band Wolves In The Throne Room is the closest I'm aware of to a black metal band being funded by their parents here hahaha.

What is your local extreme metal scene like there in Portland? And do you have plans to take Sangre de la Luna or Devouring Serpents to the stage at some point?

Before the plague, there were a lot of shows here. Lots of death metal for the most part, like Aenigmantium and Torture Rack.

I used to live walking distance from the Twilight Cafe, which is where the majority of shows would happen and it was always a good time.  Unfortunately, I got rather serious with work in the last year and missed a lot.  I think the last show I went to was American Nightmare and Ceremony, it had been a while since I'd been to a local metal show.  I was planning on going to see Mayhem and Orville Peck later on but those got canceled, unfortunately.

Probably not for Sangre since we would have to have like four other dudes to get the same sound as the recordings.  Devouring Serpent is a maybe, however our bass player lives in LA ironically so the logistics might be weird.  I'm not opposed to it if it was the right show but with travel restrictions and all that it probably won't be any time soon.

The USBM scene, particularly the underground scene – I've observed as being fairly tight-knit and very supportive of each other, its great to see. How has this supportive scene helped you as an artist?

We've got a lot of support from our friends in general.  The Lost Hours is a funeral doom band from Atlanta and The Infamous Gehenna from Reno who was very supportive right off the bat, check them out.  But yeah, in general, I've noticed there's a group of us who tend to support each other and I do appreciate that.

Speaking of collaborations into the future – are there any more you can hint to us about?

Just the two projects I mentioned earlier.  No names yet.  I'm sure I'll get bored and start a few other things at some point, I'll keep you posted.

I'm guessing you have a great appreciation of all types of music outside of black metal. Therefore, what are some of your favourite styles of music, and do any of these styles play a part in the music you create and how?

Yeah.  I still listen to a ton of hardcore like Integrity, Ringworm, The Infamous Gehenna, Blinded By Faith, and that sort of thing, power violence/sludge/hardcore like Despise You, Crossed Out, No Comment, Noothgrush, Eyehategod, Dystopia, etc. As far as non-heavy stuff, I like a lot of rap, Kevin Gates is a recent favorite.  I grew up on oldies and Motown and that stuff always has a special place in my heart, can't fuck with Sam Cooke.  And of course goth shit like Sisters Of Mercy and Christian Death. New Bomb Turks and The Hellacopters have been getting a lot of play around here lately. Lots of Latin music and Orville Peck too haha.

I guess it helps in the sense that I'm coming from a different place than someone who just listens to black metal.  Based on the reaction it seems like we're doing something right.

L.A.S.H I appreciate you doing this interview with me.  I ask you, what is next for you?

Well thanks for taking the time to interview me.  My day job in the business consulting world is picking back up so I'm not sure how much time or energy I'll have to devote to music for the near future.  I also took up skateboarding again so I've been enjoying the lack of cops around and skating anywhere I want. 

If there is anything else you would like to say to those reading this interview, please do – you have the floor?

Thanks for the support.

I'm not sure how to end this so I'm just going to go off, you're probably going to regret giving me the floor haha.

I want to take a special moment to shout out to the "Black Metal Warriors Against Christ" out there who weirdly have the same phobias and creepy nationalist values as the Evangelical Christians who are ruining this country.  Fuck you, and your cousin -  fucking losers.

You're just as bad as the Christians you claim to hate and you probably think blue lives matter too, you fucking bootlickers.  I'd say go die in a fire but living with that extra chromosome is probably punishment enough. 

If you think Hitler (a Catholic) would approve of black metal or any subculture you're a fucking idiot and you are lying to yourself.  I'm not the first one to say this, Jon Nodtveidt spoke out against the same shit when he was alive saying fascism is for cowards and sheep, and he was fucking right.

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