Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.
Blood of Martyrs was first conceived in 2001 while I (Markus) was playing in a couple other Chicago bands. I kept writing material that was simply too extreme and technical to fit into the format of my other projects, but was nonetheless very vital and real to me.
I knew that someday this music would have its day, but I didn't know when.
In 2006 I began playing with Chris Wozniak (Drums, Lair of the Minotaur), and we quickly assembled a set of material which we then recorded. This was our first release 'Ex Nihilo' (2007).
Blood of Martyrs played a handful of shows between 2006 - 2008, but our obligations to other bands (Woz to Lair of the Minotaur, myself to Nachtmystium) prevented us from ever assembling a full-time rehearsing band.
Instead, we were lucky enough to enlist the talents of Paul DiPego (Bass, Salt of the Earth) and William Amaya (Vocals) to flesh out our live sound as session members.
Currently I am lucky enough to have an absolutely incredible band that can not only play the earlier material, but also the increasingly more demanding material I am writing now.
Barret Baumgart is an inhumanly powerful drummer, and Andrew Lincoln is one of the best bass players I've ever played with. The two of them have been playing together for almost ten years, and together they are an absolutely epic rhythm section. They not only have the chops to play blisteringly fast and harsh metal, but they also have the depth and restraint to control the dynamics of a piece and really provide a platform for me to launch my ideas from.
Ryan Bartek is filling in the second guitar spot, and is making a tremendous effort to learn all the ridiculous guitar parts I've written. Having a second guitarist in the band for the first time has been interesting, as it has forced me to write alternate guitar parts for every song; it's almost like I've written every song twice now.
I myself write all the music and lyrics, play all guitars in the studio, and lead guitar live. I have also handled all the vocals on our recordings, and may begin to be the live vocalist as well.
How would you describe your style? Which bands influenced your music?
Our style is perhaps best described as 'Blackened Psychosis'...my influences are pretty varied: early Voivod, Bathory, early Enslaved, Incantation, King Crimson, Sun Ra, Celtic Frost, Disembowelment, GodspeedYou!BlackEmperor, and Beherit come to mind.
Why should a metalhead buy your demos/albums?
Any metalhead who values creative metal that bows to no trends and follows no guide but its own inner voice will enjoy Blood of Martyrs.
There is everything from raging black metal psychosis to ethereal psychedelia, slow and morose doom to crushing walls of feedback. It's metal as fuck, and doesn't really care what anyone else thinks.
What have you released so far and how were your releases received by the public/media?
So far there have been two official blood of Martyrs releases, 'Ex Nihilo' (2007) was a full length album made up of equal parts metal and electro-acoustic improvisation (ie; improvised sound scapes). 'Ex Nihilo' was self-released in a run of only 300, and sold out quickly at Blood of Martyrs gigs and also while Woz and I were on tour with our other bands.
January 1st will see the release of 'Even the Dead Long for Spring', a 4 song ep that was originally just a rehearsal recording. That ep will eventually come out on Lundr Records as a split with Wheels Within Wheels, but until then we are self-releasing a limited number to be sold at shows and and given away to friends.
As far as how these recordings have been received by the public - many people have come up to me and told me they were impressed with the material and playing on Ex Nihilo, and I expect the same will be true when 'Even the Dead...' is released.
But as far as reviews, etc...I can only say that after my experiences in various bands that have chosen the path of commercial success over that of honest expression (ie;'selling out'), I have taken an intentionally low profile approach with Blood of Martyrs. I have not, until now, made any attempt to have any public face with this band; I have kept it entirely free from the bullshit of the 'scene' and the idiocy of both neophyte hipsters and small minded black metal fanboys.
So bottom line - I don't really know what people think of it. And I don't really care.
Do you play live as well? How's your live activity so far?
Blood of Martyrs is now, for the first time, a true band with a full time lineup and regular rehearsals. We have shows booked in January, and have already been confirmed for the Northwest Black circle Festival in May. Other than that, we are planning a DIY, punk style tour of Europe in the summer; basically strapping our guitars onto our backpacks and being crusty metal road warriors.
What sould labels/zines/promoters know about your band? Why should they be interested in it?
No label / zine / or promoter should know or care anything about us unless they are prepared to open their minds to some uncompromising and unusual sounds and ideas.
We are not really interested in being too popular with promoters, labels, and their ilk. We will continue to exist as a self-sustaining entity in the underground, unless a truly sympathetic person or organization decides to play our game, by our rules.
We are willing to work with these entities, but only if they appreciate and respect the integrity of our vision in its totality
What plans do you have for the near future as a band?
As far as any pressing agenda Blood of Martyrs may have, it is essentially a three-fold.
First, I plan to record another album with the new lineup. The new material has advanced far beyond the early material both in terms of complexity and sheer brutality. Also, the new lineup is truly something special - the musical chemistry that exists between us needs to be captured 'on tape'.
Secondly, Blood of Martyrs is preparing to play some shows here in the Northwest in the next few weeks. I also mentioned previously that we are playing the Northwest Black Circle Festival in May, and planning a European tour for the summer.
The third prong of out attack is to grow and strengthen our community in the underground metal / anarchist scene.
We strive to be not only a band, but
also disseminators of knowlegde, builders of community, expanders of minds, harbingers of the Awakening.
We are the Warrior Priests of Eschaton, and our work is just beginning.
Where can we listen to your band and where can we buy your stuff?
It will be hard to find any of our material in physical form, as it has all been extremely limited.
Anyone interested in hearing the material we have recorded up to this date can find it several places online.
I strongly encourage taking advantage of the free downloads I have made available at lastfm.com; most everything is there, free for the taking.
Thanks to Pest for this amazing series of interviews with truly underground bands; this work is what keeps the Underground alive and vital.
If there is an overarching impression we, as a band, wish to leave, it is of a vast and bleak post-apocalyptic wasteland, whose forbidding expanse nonetheless holds untold secrets and unworldly beauty for those intrepid enough to open there minds to the Unknown. Godhood awaits those who are willing to stand naked and unafraid, and leap into the Void. step into the Darkness - and embrace the Light...they are one and the same