Flesh, the S&M-gear clad vocalist for Detroit’s black metal deviants Divine Ecstasy, is apparently a man of few words. In fact, aside from perhaps one interview subject who shall remain nameless (but whose name rhymes with ‘Ring Fuzzo’) I think I inadvertently pissed off with one of my first questions, Flesh may be the least chatty musician I’ve ever interviewed. On the one hand, this surprises me a bit. I mean, this is the poster that comes with the Iron Bonehead reissue of the band’s self-titled demo. Dude doesn’t exactly seem like a shrinking violet, you know?
At the same time, though, it totally makes sense that he’s not exactly the talkative type. Strange Passions will be Divine Ecstasy’s second release in the last six months, following their self-titled demo that dropped back in February. Those two releases combined contain less than 35 minutes worth of music, but Divine Ecstasy is definitely one of those ‘quality over quantity’ type of bands. Eight songs – that’s their entire recorded output. Based on those eight songs, however, they’re easily one of the most promising young black metal bands in the US: raw, primal, and oozing with the sort of sexuality you probably need a tetanus shot before attempting at home.
Since we’ve all had our shots, we’re thrilled to be streaming Divine Ecstasy’s debut MLP Strange Passions in full here today at the Vault, and if you like your black metal lo-fi, primitive, and filthy, you’re going to find a lot to like here. Honestly, I’m generally the last person to tell someone to judge something based on its title, but “Taste the Demon Seed,” the closing track on Strange Passions, really sums up the entire EP – and I’ll leave you to figure out exactly what I mean by that.
Strange Passions will be available on August 10 from Iron Bonehead (find their webstore here), but you can stream it in its entirety right now, exclusively at the Vault. Make sure you have protection, and then check it out, along with my conversation with Flesh, below.
Indy Metal Vault: So first off, thanks for the interview. I really liked the self-titled demo you released back in February, but Strange Passions seems like a different beast entirely – much more primitive sounding than the demo. I’m not sure, though, if I get that from of the songs themselves or because of the differences in the sound. Since the EP is coming out less than six months after the demo, do the songs on both all date from roughly the same time period, or did you write some/all of the tracks on Strange Passions after the demo came out?
Flesh: First of all, thanks a lot for the kind words. The EP was recorded right after the tape, and there’s no different studio set up or anything like that. We constantly write and record.
IMV: Divine Ecstasy is from Detroit, which is a city that has definitely seen better days: economic collapse, population decline, urban decay, one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation, and now bankruptcy. Of course, it’s damn near impossible to guess how old any of you are from a single grainy promo picture, but you all look to be on the younger side. How well do any of you remember Detroit before the auto industry crisis hit and the city really fell on hard times? What kind of effect (if any) does the environment of Detroit have on your music?
F: We’re definitely not old enough to remember the decline of the auto industry that hit its peak with the 1967 riots. Yes, Detroit is indeed RoboCop land, but that’s most of the midwest. Look at places like Flint, Gary, etc. The middle class is a concept from the past. Not too many can support a family with regular employment.
IMV: The Detroit metal ‘scene’ (I hate that word, but can never think of a decent alternative) has also seen better days, at least in terms of bands with any sort of national profile. In the last ten years, the only new band I can think of that’s come out of Detroit and made any kind of impact is Temple of Void. The handful of others I can think of—The Black Dahlia Murder, Acid Witch, Child Bite—have all been around much longer than that. What is the Detroit metal underground like these days?
F: I tend to stay at home a lot, but bands worth mentioning are Nuke, Acid Witch and Shitfucker.
IMV: I rarely ask about the origin of band names, but given your use of fetishistic imagery and the mix of sex and Satan in your lyrics, my curiosity got the better of me here. Did you choose the name Divine Ecstasy as a perversion of sorts on the idea of religious ecstasy – dancing uncontrollably, speaking in tongues, so-called ‘holy laughter,’ seeing visions, etc.?
F: Yes, we draw parallels between total religious fervor and perverse sexuality. People get their kicks in all kinds of different ways, but we, unlike Christians, don’t hurt people with our way of living.
IMV: Speaking of the lyrics and imagery, there’s something that strikes me as different about the way you use them compared to other bands who’ve attempted the same things. Belphegor did the S&M and Satan thing on Bondage Goat Zombie, but I thought it was kind of cheesy. Midnight has a lot of satanic sex in their lyrics, but they mostly sound immature. Your music, though, seems to be more closely aligned in spirit with something like Bathory’s “Woman of Dark Desires,” but with your own twist on it. What initially drew the band to those images and themes?
F: Honestly we don’t have many occult themes in our music. Its mostly secretly socio-political mixed in with some sleaze and lust. The latter is about feeling free and unhinged when it comes to sexuality. Don’t hold back and you will find yourself reaching true divine ecstasy.
IMV: I mentioned this in the first question, but I want to circle back around to the differences in sound between Divine Ecstasy and Strange Passions. Both sound raw, but he guitars and bass really dominate on the demo, while the drums and vocals are much more forward in the mix on Strange Passions. How different was the recording process for each?
F: The recording process was literally the same. Recorded and mixed the same, on the same Cubase project even, haha.
IMV: If I’m not mistaken, you originally self-released the Divine Ecstasy demo on digital/tape yourselves in early February, and then Iron Bonehead (who are also releasing Strange Passions) picked it up and reissued it in April. How did that come about? Had you been in contact with the label at all before that, or did you get signed based on the strength of those two songs?
F: Yes that’s correct; basically we put ourselves out there and Iron Bonehead liked what they heard and showed great friendliness and enthusiasm.
IMV: In your lone, grainy promo photo I mentioned a few questions back, you’re pictured in his fetish gear, and the other three members—drummer Pain, bassist Temptation, and guitarist Exxxtazy—are all posing shirtless in their bullet belts and spikes. Not that unusual for a black metal band, except that Temptation happens to be female. It completely fits with who Divine Ecstasy seem to be as a band, and it doesn’t strike me as being exploitative or overly sexualized. However, it still seems like kind of a bold move. What made you decide to approach the promo pic in that manner? Have you gotten any pushback or criticism anywhere because of it?
F: There hasn’t been any criticism of the band photos yet. Let’s face it, it’s hard to offend people in the black metal scene. We’re not going for shock value, we just didn’t want her to be left out. I think a completely naked band photo would fit in with the bands theme. Or maybe have an orgy or something.
IMV: So what’s next for Divine Ecstasy? Are you a band that plays live very often? Or, given the quick succession in which your first two releases came out, are you already working on the next one?
F: Yes, we are always working on new material. Inspiration has been high, so that’s a great motivator to stay active. Music is a great way to combat depression.
IMV: Thanks again for being willing to answer a few questions. I like to leave the final word to the artists – anything else you want to add?
F: We like to hear what people think of our record, so don’t be shy to write or order records from us. Thanks a lot for taking the time to give us exposure.