Recently I sat down for a virtual chat with Larissa Glasser and Iron Megiddo (Megan Lowe), the co-founders of the black/dark/thrash/occult metal band Hekseri. The Boston, MA-based unit plays in an aggressively stripped-down style that should appeal to fans of bands like Mayhem, Venom and Sodom. In addition to playing in Hekseri, Ms. Glasser is the librarian for Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum and writes science fiction and horror. Megiddo currently resides in Bergen, Norway.
Alex S. Johnson: What were you doing before you met Megan?
Larissa Glasser: I was playing in a band and Meggido (Lowe) came in to work with us, and her playing style was much better aligned to the kind of metal I wanted to be playing, plus I could see she really knew her way around the fretboard so I realized, “I need to form a band with this person.” My own main influence is of course Venom.
AJ: I gather the kind of metal you wanted to be playing was less Iron Maiden and more down and dirty thrash?
LG: Actually my old band before Hekseri was more death metal, but it was losing me because the drummer was trying to tell me how and what to play on bass. When Meggido and I started Hekseri, at least I had some creative input. We both liked thrash and black metal. Our sound developed into Witching Metal over time.
Witching Metal is what Hekseri practices in response to the bullshit subjugation and scapegoating of women throughout history. Metal already thrives on rebellion, but we wanted to clearly define where we stand with our material–there are still issues of sexism and misogyny to be confronted in society and because the witch instills such fear and awe, especially today, I think it’s a powerful identity. We also mix our many literary and metallic influences into the Hekseri cauldron, so that is something else we offer. Keep in mind–the witch is also a healer. We certainly aren’t the only practitioners.
AJ: Could you tell me about your work as a writer of speculative fiction, and how that ties in with the music and lyrics of Hekseri?
AJ: You have a very gritty, old school black metal vocal style. What are some of your vocal influences?
Megiddo: In terms of influences, I definitely don’t consciously think about trying to sound like anyone in particular. I’ve noticed maybe that certain things sound like certain vocalists at times, but other than that I am sure it is all sub-or unconscious. I let my own convictions, feelings, impressions and dreams just possess me and whatever sounds come out, come out. In the context of Hekseri, I think that was still developing and with Witchblood my ability to “channel” has grown so much more. My favorite musician of all time must be Quorthon though, and I have perhaps been unconsciously affected by Proscriptor from Absu…
AJ: What do you love about Quorthon/Bathory?
Many things. I like the way he progressed throughout Bathory… not that he evolved for progression’s sake, but it was an authentic progression. First the visceral, more raw and primitive black thrash which eventually became black metal on Under the Sign of the Black Mark, then the so-called Viking metal which first began to arise with Blood Fire Death but really didn’t become full-fledged until Blood on Ice and Hammerheart, Twillight of the Gods. Quorthon was a musician who poured out what was in his soul, the most honest musician in heavy music that I can think of. Really, it just resonates with me, from the raw and primitive to the Viking metal that was more about him digging into his roots as a Scandinavian than about some cartoonish representation of vikings, which I think today’s Viking metal is about (which I do not listen to–the only Viking metal for me is Bathory). The musicians and groups which managed to get into the heart of what this is such as Mayhemic Truth/Morrigan (DE) and Stormheit (FI) that somehow have that Bathory “feel” and a bit of the sound though are authentic with their own vision, such as Stormheit’s very Finnish national romantic poetry as song lyrics on Chronicon Finlandae, this is closer to what Bathory was at the heart of the “Viking” era more so than things like Amon Amarth or whatever goes for “Viking” metal these days.
AJ: Let’s get down to Hekseri. how did the band come about? and what was the intent of the project?
M: The intent of the project was to play heavy metal. It took form as we went along
AJ: were there major bands that inspired the journey?
M: I remember the guitar that I had at the time, a Jackson Randy Rhoads soloist, I played a lot of Iron Maiden and a lot of riff based heavy metal with intricate solos. It wasn’t long after we started that the style of writing I had made it clear that we would be in a much more raw direction…also thanks to Larissa in part for inspiring that turn of direction and helping to influence my getting more into Venom and such things that are a lot less “refined.” I got more in touch with my Slayer side and we went with the faster the better, the more disgusting the better. But before we started up I was shooting for something more melodic. Speed and a dirty sound fit the attitude much better… I think we were and are angry people, ha ha. The world we live in is pretty ridiculous, or the modern society rather. When you just want to create and do something with your dreams and you have to work some soul numbing job and you see the idiocy that reigns.. when you are young, it pisses you off, just the way things are accepted to be. Perhaps it was an immature rage in my case in some ways, but it fueled the music and let’s face it, society is still fucked in countless ways.