Applications Engineer // Bachelor's degree in Computer Science
In the office, you're known to blast black metal through your headphones while you work. How would you describe black metal to someone who is unfamiliar with the genre?
Black metal is the most diverse genre of music on the planet. It’s easier to think that it’s just fast tremolo picking and screams based on the classics but there are so many styles that fall under black metal, it’s hard to just describe it to someone. One person’s idea of black metal will completely differ from another person’s idea of black metal. Black metal can be abrasive (and offensive), it can be atmospheric, it can be beautiful, or it could be all of the above and more.
What black metal artists would you recommend to someone who's trying to expand their music library?
Anything from Finland is always a good choice. Sargeist’s “Let the Devil In” may be one of my favorite albums of all time; it’s sure to get your feet tapping. Some other legendary Finnish bands include Horna, Satanic Warmaster, Beherit, Behexen, and Archgoat.
My favorite band without question is Inquisition, a 2-piece band from Colombia (and later, Washington). They can produce more sound than anyone would think possible for just two people. Dagon, their frontman, has an endless supply of what are some of the best riffs to see the light of day (and the dark of night). Their vocals oftentimes resemble a frog croak which sets them apart from most other black metal acts but also makes it hard for a casual listener to pick up. Most people might think, “What the hell is this?”
For the sake of accessibility (and some classics), I would suggest Immortal’s “At the Heart of Winter”, Windir’s “1184”, Dissection’s “Storm of the Light’s Bane”, Emperor’s “In the Nightside Eclipse”, Wolves in the Throne Room’s “Two Hunters”, and Agalloch’s “The Mantle”.
Tell me about your band, Lichborne!
An old friend from middle school reached out to me about starting a band in 2014. We happened to have a friend that was a really good guitarist and got him to join up, but on bass while the friend that originally reached out to me played guitar (this was a mistake). So we started writing some stuff here and there. I think it was some sort of “alternative” metal at the time and oh boy did it suck.
Anyways, we found a drummer that would play with us and we ended up great friends (I even lived with him, his uncle, and his aunt during the summer between school semesters). We practiced a bunch and had a full setlist but at some point the bassist, drummer, and I all agreed that the songs just sucked. We didn’t want to play them anymore, so we went to the guitarist's house and politely fired him and started a new project together.
That’s when things started to really kick off. We immediately started writing some heavier material. It was along the lines of death and thrash metal. The drummer’s uncle ended up picking up bass for us while the bassist switched to guitar. Once we had multiple songs written and rehearsed, we took on the journey of home recording. It was a long, hard road but we learned how to record and produce music on our own. We got all of our songs recorded until we once again said to ourselves, “this sucks”. The songs weren’t bad, the recordings weren’t bad; they were just immature in a way. I don’t think they reflected how much we had grown as musicians in that time so we inevitably scrapped them.
During that time we had really started to get deep into black metal and knew that it was the genre we wanted to call home. So we set out to record a new set of songs to begin our black metal journey. We wrote and recorded 4 original songs and 1 cover for the eventual release of our self-titled EP in 2017. I also picked up guitar during this time and ended up contributing to two of those songs. These were the best songs we had written yet, we would happily jam those songs on car rides nonstop without getting tired of them (the true test of a song’s worth).
We started writing a full-length album as a follow-up of the EP. Our EP was more along the lines of just straight black metal, no real subgenre or niche. We had a good mix of that in the full-length but it was evident that our newer material was much more misanthropic and depressive. We released three singles and caught the attention of a new, budding label for a limited run of 25 tapes, all of which sold! We also got contacted by a label for CD distribution, so I have about 300 CDs sitting around too. So with that, we released the full-length and got really great feedback.
So would you say that Lichborne is disbanded at this point or are you just on a hiatus?
In black metal it’s really common that a band consists of one person, especially for depressive black metal. So it’s not really disbanded and it’s not really on hiatus. The music will just come naturally with no rush. I finished “As the Rain Fades” after 6+ months of writing so no telling when the next song will get done.
Besides guitar, do you play any other instruments?
In Lichborne, I was originally just the vocalist. So I do all the screams and growls, etc. That’s probably my main talent whereas I picked up guitar out of necessity (and enjoyed it). Skills on the guitar carry over to bass, so I can play that too. I also currently program drums. Ideally, I’ll learn to play actual drums too.
Has Lichborne played any gigs around town?
Nope. We’ve never played live and since it’s a solo act now, I probably never will. I would like to, but it’s not necessarily a priority right now.
Where can our readers listen to and buy your music?
Bandcamp has the highest streaming quality, so I would always suggest it. They also do Bandcamp Fridays where they waive all fees, meaning all money you spend goes straight to the artist (even though my music is free).
Like the rest of our coworkers, you're into gaming. Can you remember the first games you played that really sparked your love for gaming? Has your interest in genres changed over time?
I started gaming with the Super Nintendo and the Nintendo 64. I remember playing Battletoads Double Dragon and titles like Banjo Kazooie, Super Mario 64, etc. Growing up, we had a desktop with Windows 95 on it and I remember playing Spider-Man Cartoon Maker as a really young kid. Gaming was a large part of my life essentially since I can remember.
My cousin was also an avid gamer so I inevitably picked up a lot of preferences from him. We eventually upgraded our desktop and I picked up Runescape after seeing my cousin playing it. I sunk tons of hours into that game fishing, woodcutting, clicking on stuff, and ultimately just wasting my time.
At some point I hopped off of Runescape and started playing Socom 2 on the Playstation 2. For those that don’t know, Socom 1 & Socom 2 were and still are the pioneers/innovators of online team-based shooters. To this day, Socom 2 is still the best online shooter I have ever played in my life. Nothing even comes close to touching it. Most people didn't even know that you could play Playstation 2 games online and it even had voice chat if you had a microphone. It was way, way, way, waaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ahead of its time. But unfortunately, I was late to the party and the developers eventually moved onto their later Socom titles that just weren’t as good. Support was basically abandoned and cheaters ran amok, eventually imploding the community that couldn’t get enough of the game.
Once that happened, I played a little bit more Runescape and then moved onto World of Warcraft, a game that would inevitably become my entire adolescence (and early adulthood). I started playing WoW at maybe 11 years old and am still playing it today although not as frequently. I’m currently 25 years old, almost 26, meaning I have played WoW for approximately 15 years (over half of my existence). I have made a ton of friends across the world on that game and still play with the same group that I played with more than 10 years ago.
There were some other games sprinkled throughout, but the next notable title that ate a lot of my time and ultimately dragged me off of WoW was Rust, a multiplayer survival game. Rust is probably the most high maintenance, hardcore, and unforgiving game known to man. The premise is that you wake up on a beach with nothing but a rock. You need to gather resources, build shelter, and ultimately survive as you progress technologically. There are other players in the same situation as you and since you are on the internet, not all of them are nice. In fact, most of them are probably the most toxic people you will ever meet. All they want is to see you fail. Whether you’re online or if you’ve logged out for the night, your base is still there on the server and players can attempt to raid it. This means that they will ultimately attempt to blow your house to smithereens and steal everything you spent hours building up. And of course, you can return the favor, which is where the fun begins. Building up from primitive tools to having explosives and assault rifles is the name of the game and it takes a ton of time and dedication. This is what led me to waste about 2800 hours of my life.
Now out of school and working full-time, there isn’t as much time for these high maintenance games that are essentially jobs themselves. Instead, I play more casual titles with quicker game modes such as Warzone.
Lastly, I've been told that you want to add a Cockatoo to your ever-growing family of pets. How was that idea spawned?
When I briefly lived with my drummer, his aunt, and his uncle during the summers, they had an Umbrella Cockatoo named Ollie. He was crazy, he screamed a lot, he was high maintenance, and he was a sweetheart. He really liked me a lot, to the point where I would wake up with bird talons standing on my head. As crazy as they are, cockatoos are extremely sweet, affectionate birds that develop an incredibly deep bond with their caretakers. They’re intelligent and can potentially live for around 70 years, making them an ideal lifetime companion.