By Jordan Mooney.
When you’re in this business, you begin working up a keen sense of what genre bands will loosely adhere to – all from title alone.
With that said, see if you can guess this one: Silpha and the Corpseboners.
That’s right. It’s time for another horror punk group, this time from our friends at Undead Artists, a label devoted to dark, scary and often bizarre punk and rock music. These fine ladies and gents are also responsible nowadays for keeping our good fiends Raizing Hell on a leash. Not an easy task, but a job somebody has to maintain. Even if it results in an occasional in-house dismemberment.
The very name of this band, really, should be enough for you. However, the band exceeds their own title tenfold – it’s a package full of surprises. Agony and Ecstasy isn’t a traditionally ‘punk’ album, nor is it truly traditional horror. I’d dare to say that the album doesn’t lay down in concrete what it’s trying be. It doesn’t lack identity – it’s more that the identity it carries doesn’t have much precedent. For the rapidly growing genre of horror punk, it proves to tread a fairly fresh territory.
Composing of an eclectic mixture of instruments, themes, ideas and rhythms, the album feels impressively liberated in its approach. Despite the often cruel, savage content that one would expect of the genre, the album doesn’t come off as threatening or elitist as it thunders along. It invites you to the party, surrounds you with horrors, and provides such an impressive variety that you can either sit down for the entire album or come back when it suits you.
People bang on and on about albums that rope you in to listen to the entire thing – but a lot can be said for the records that let you float in and out occasionally. The sort of album you can pluck tracks from and find just as fluent by themselves. There’s no forced narrative, here – it’s a catalyst of odd, often extreme tales of darkness – a sort of musical antagonistic anthology.
Starting with a dramatic, gothic and somewhat mournful introduction – telling the tale of thunder, lightning, the crashing of waves and the ghost of a maiden that inhabited the mansion in its midst, we’re introduced with a rather surprising juxtaposition. Linger a Little Longer is still very much a Corpseboners track, certainly. But the first half seems to be the preliminary haze – the distant arrival of a group not quite of this world. Almost graceful.
A (rather fittingly) lingering note then shatters into sharper, shorter and rather more traditional shouting bursts that give way into a surprisingly large scale, beautifully arranged and incredibly full record – that really seems to pull out every plug – and isn’t afraid to stick a tentacle into other genres along the way. ‘Erase Them!’ rather sporadically jumps into a bit of reggae. ‘Tombstone No. 10’ ventures into a jazzy bit of rockabilly. ‘Balladesque’ performs very much as the title suggests, and an interlude provides a surprisingly haunting music box melody surrounded by ravens and thunder.
It forms a bizarre, very loose and unbinding three act structure – it’s not directly enforced, and as previously stated you can dip into tracks at random and come out just as content as ever, but with a mirroring outro, ‘Linger No Longer’, the Interlude, the seemingly bizarre and eclectic mix of genres, styles, ideas and mindsets are seamlessly woven together. And suddenly, the album seems to beg for a visual medium to express itself more succinctly.
It ends up sounding in places like a rock and roll opera. In others, like your rather more ‘typical’ punk group. In any sense, it ends up like nothing we’ve quite heard before on ‘The Wall’ – and considering the vast array of horror punk musicians that we’ve covered on the Webzine, that’s quite a surprising accolade! While it may not be the highest form of art, nor sheer wunderkind material that will be lauded by critics for hundreds of years…it’s be one of the finest horror punk records we’ve heard in rather a while.
Loud, proud and constantly creative, Silpha and the Corpseboners’ debut LP forms another enviable addition to Cat on the Wall’s collection. The band themselves form a lovely, blood stained jewel in the crown of what Undead Artists have to offer. A hugely enjoyable record with a fantastic bit of work from every man, woman, ghoul and goblin involved.
We were lucky enough to get them tied up just long enough for an interview.
Cat on the Wall: Hello there, and welcome to Cat on the Wall! Please, introduce yourselves – and please keep any blood of off our nice new carpet!
Silpha Obscura: …Is the name of a tiny bug. Lovely creatures… One day, a young girl who liked to observe them was captured and never seen again.
Years later, a singing, female ghost joined the Corpseboners…
Dr.Horion: My name is Dr. Horion, and since the day my obsession with insects led me to persistent doom, I’ve been playing the bass guitar, and other instruments of torture and pain, in this little… ensemble of ours.
Manfred Von Körperteil: Yo, ‘sup. I’m Manfred von Körperteil, sorry about your carpet. I have pretty heavy bleeding hemorrhoids. When I don’t destroy my butthole, I play guitar once in a while.
COTW: So, Silpha and the Corpseboners…before we go any further, the obvious question is how did a band so…utterly eccentric start out? Where has it all come from? (Apart from a Graveyard!)
Manfred Von Körperteil: We started out from a graveyard (YOU LITERALLY WANTED ME TO DO THIS!). Plus we’re all mouthbreathers with stupid ideas. Except for our drummer who’s the only cool person in our band.
Dr.Horion: The real story of our band is so obscure that not even we dare to tell it…
Or maybe we’ve just forgotten it. It must have been some aeons ago.
All I know is that Duke Von Körperteil was a very good timbal player some hundred years ago. In fact, we had the honour to be part of the orchestra for the premiere of Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” back in 1850.
But, after that concert, Körperteil said to me that he had had his fill of Wagner, and wanted to start something new. “Sure”, said I, “What about Horror punk? I bet nobody has had that idea before.”
It turned out someone had. But that’s another… ugly story.
COTW: You’re with us today to talk about your album, Agony and Ecstacy – how would you describe it to the uninitiated?
Dr.Horion: It’s a horrorpunkish ride through our psychotic brains…. with all its ugliness and loveliness. But don’t expect true Horror Punk. Because it isn’t.
Manfred Von Körperteil: I would describe it as music.
COTW: The record – in every sense – is huge. Sixteen tracks, spanning multiple ideas and even splicing different genres into a Frankenstein’s monster. Is a recording of this scale to be expected of the usual Corpseboner fare, or is this a special occasion?
Silpha Obscura: Of course, not every record will be this long… but, the more agony we suffer, the more music will be produced. And mixing several genres, for us, can’t be avoided… because we all have very different influences. I think now and then it’s very important to break the existing rules of a music style in order to create something new.
Manfred Von Körperteil: It wasn’t big for us. What’s big for other people is small for us. The real challenge was to make the album small enough so that normal people could still understand it, without us coming across as megalomaniacs. We pretty much nailed it, especially that last part.
Dr.Horion: And the next release is already on its way: An Extended Player called “Cirque De Nuit“. Less tracks but more musical madness.
COTW: What went into the construction of such a vast record? Are there certain storylines or ideas that you feel are particularly worth mentioning? Perhaps personal experiences..?
Manfred Von Körperteil: You see, the thing is… my brain is slowly rotting away. I write some lyrics, and forget them right away, which is no problem. Because I’m not the singer anyway. I really would love to mention something, but I’m just too stupid for it. And when my bandmates try to give a sophisticated answer here, don’t believe them. They’re just as fucking stupid as I am.
Dr.Horion: The whole album is a triptych that’s split into three parts: Fear, love and death. And like the old triptych pictures one can find in churches, it wants to tell you three chapters of a truly epic story. Namely, that of agony and ecstasy, the two poles, between which what we call the “theatrum mundi” is taking place. The monstrous and grotesque farce… often referred to as life.
Silpha Obscura: Experiences! In order to keep a nice little girl out of prison, everything has to be told with a harmless record…You get what I’m trying to tell you here?!
Back to the concept: Fear. Love. Death. Everything might have started with love, but, afterwards, everything collapsed. Individual fears evolve.
You’ll try so many things to be loved again… but nothing works… Your love dies…And then you’ll die.
More fears… Falling into a vicious circle.
COTW: How was the process recording such an eclectic release? Did you find it difficult to put together such a large scale debut?
Silpha Obscura: Exhausting. Just exhausting. But a lot of fun to do!
In retrospect, I wish I had had more time to practice some of the melodies, though. I hadn’t that much experience of my range, and, for so many songs in so many different styles, this would have been very beneficial! All the same, it’s already amazing to see the progress since our last CD.
Manfred Von Körperteil: It was nice. And nah, it was a piece of cake. What does eclectic mean? Damn! You’re using huge words on such small minds!!
Dr.Horion: Of course a full length album means a lot of work, but, since we were recording it for ourselves, we had no real time limits, and full artistic freedom – which helped a lot to relax the whole recording process. At least a bit.
But that was absolutely obligatory. Because, if you put pressure on our decaying nerves, the result is a floor full of body parts. From four horrorpunks gone berserk.
On that note, you’d better keep on asking GOOD questions. Otherwise I can’t guarantee safety for your carpet. Von Körperteil is already trembling. I’m afraid it’s not his day today.
COTW: Was this your first experience recording a full album, or do all of you have a history in other groups?
Dr.Horion: Oh… well. Most of us have. More or less successful. But, back in the day, we made real horror music that no living creature could hear without losing its hearing. I think it’s more practical the way it is now….
Silpha Obscura: This is my first album. I did just an EP before!
Manfred Von Körperteil: For the three instrumentalists, it wasn’t the first album at all, we made some records before that…because we played in a band together since 1908. Dr. Horion fucked up the dates again! Silpha had to wait until she was cool enough to join us. She tried to enter the band in 1938 and we were just like “Nope still not cool enough”. That’s business.
COTW: You are of course part of Undead Artists – with Raizing Hell, whom we’ve met before, and other horror nasties such as The Bloodstrings, Strange Nocturnal and Thirteen Shots. Have you played with any of your labelmates? Perhaps a gigantic Undead Artists tour is due!
Dr.Horion: Unfortunately there’s no opportunity for such an event to date. But we are in touch with our beloved labelmates, and I can assure you that the future has some nice gruesome treats in store for you horror lovers out there.
Manfred Von Körperteil: No, we haven’t played with them yet, but it would be really awesome to change that! That’s a goddamn fucking good idea. Let’s see if destiny is willing to let us.
COTW: What are your personal influences that have driven Silpha and the Corpseboners – In terms of music, films, and other media, what do you feel has really built up your sound, look and themes?
Silpha Obscura: Me, personally? Just presenting the way I feel on the outside… in order to express myself, my anger, my fears. When it comes to music, I’d say The Misfits, Blitzkid, and Creepshow!
Manfred Von Körperteil: JESUS! That’s a lot of topics for one question! Okay, first, the music part. For me, there is a very high influence from Louis Armstrong, Lance Armstrong, Billie Joe Armstrong and Christina Aguilera. Now to the film part. I’m really into romantic comedy, such as Tokyo Gore Police, Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla and Staplerfahrer Klaus, but I also like really creepy and dense horror movies like 40 First Dates, Along Came Polly and Captain America. My look is mostly inspired by Sunny Leone and Dr. Horion (dayum he’s one sexy pal!). What is a ‘theme’? Damn it, you’re using complicated words again!
Dr.Horion: I take a lot of inspiration from old german silent movies (Nosferatu, Caligari, Dr.Faust and so on) and writers like Poe, Hoffmann, Kafka or Lovecraft.
I really like thrashy horror content with zombies and monsters and stuff, too. But for me, true fear comes from the darkest rifts of ones soul.
Musically, some great influences on me are Nick Cave, Black Sabbath, The Misfits and Blitzkid just to name a few.
COTW: We at Cat on the Wall have a love of ‘multimedia’ bands. Do you plan to go into the realms of comic books, short films, or do you prefer the idea of ‘just’ being a band with a few music videos?
Dr.Horion: I think Silpha & The Corpseboners is a multimedia band.
We try to design a record to be more than just noises in the dark, and we always start to create a visual concept for our records in very early stages of production. Our urge is to hold all artistic strings in our very own hands.
I know that Silpha designs characters and stories before she draws the illustrations for our releases, and I try to concept our music videos like I would concept short films.
So… we’re actually not that far away from films and graphic novels. The day may come when we find time and inclination to enter new artistic fields. Who knows?
Silpha Obscura: As I see myself as an artist, it would be great to work on comic books, etc. The graphics on Agony And Ecstasy were a lot of fun to draw, and there will be more material to come for sure. Just wait for our next EP coming out at the end of the year!
Manfred Von Körperteil: Well I want to get into the porn industry. I heard they search for guys with rotten brains. I guess you could call that short films? I try to keep them as artsy as possible. You know like “Fuck me in the ass!” and my answer would be “Why…?” That’s what people want to masturbate to!
COTW: That’s about everything! Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us – and please make sure you take any loose limbs with you on the way out. We hope to hear from you again very soon – but before you leave, any last words for your fans, your friends or even us?!
Dr.Horion: Thank you for having tea with us, always a pleasure. I hope these few stains on the carpet vanish with time…alas, I think we became a little incontinent over the past ten decades. Nevermind, be sure to keep an eye on us for we do a lot of gross stuff when unattended.
As for our fans, be fruitful and multiply.
Manfred Von Körperteil: Yeah, you’re fucking welcome. Keep my loose ‘limb’ as a token of my friendship… LOL. My last words to our friends and fans are: Kill yourselves. K thx bb!
Dr.Horion: Nevermind Körperteil. He really seems to have woken up on the wrong side of the casket…and should get back into it as fast as possible. I think his tranquilisers are starting to lose their effect…Or maybe he just isn’t used to such good looking interviewers!
Manfred Von Körperteil: Hahahahahaha!…Fuck you!
Agony and Ecstacy can be heard for free – and purchased – on Bandcamp right now! It gets a huge recommendation from us, and at £5.51 for 16 tracks is guaranteed to have at least something for even the dullest of listeners.
And while you’re here…well, you might as well go and make friends with them. Watch out for Körperteil. I hear he bites.