Memoirs of each album, demo, EP or single I've worked on between 2005 and 2018, with a brief introduction outlining some other musical endeavors between 1996 and 2004.
When MORBID DARKNESS went tits up in mid-late 1996 I initially continued writing sporadically, jammed with friends and my sister Jessica (RIP 1978-2018) and went about life to the best of my ability. Business as usual, I suppose, although things anew were afoot and changes were on the wind. The years end was a segue into probably the darkest period of my life. No one needs to know every trivial detail about this period...the usual themes were present, such as family problems and ailing loved ones. My main issue was of an insidious nature. I recall once telling my sister while on a walk one day that I thought my spirit had died. I felt like a shell whose soul had faded into near non-existence. Situations...circumstances... A real need to wake the fuck up and do some soul searching. Eventually the groove widened again and I was able to skip along with relative happiness. Closure was perhaps a big thing; it always seems to be, really, for any matter in life.
Musically, I began jamming quite regularly with Jeremy and Chris, among others (RIP Shale Simpson). By late 1998 I had enough income moving in to buy a 4 track tape recorder (ending a 3 year affair with my uncle Colin's AKAI reel-to-reel) as well as some other much needed gear. In my spare time I worked on scouring my archives and finding anything worth documenting so as to inventory my body of musical work with MD as well as my personal music from 1988-1998, pet-naming it the 'Decade Project'. This was part of the closure I spoke of earlier. I also wrote a lot of new stuff, mostly passages but a few full songs as well. The mix of casual jamming and writing/recording at home continued up until about mid-2000. For a stretch here I worked mostly alone, eventually conceiving a solid solo Metal project called DROL. I recorded various rough incomplete demos for this act as well as for another less heavy venture called godSHAVEthequeen from between 2001 and 2004. Everything was instrumental and mainly it all served as practice for my chops on the guitar and drums as well as a cusp of transitioning from my 4-track analog recordings to digital computer based multi-tracking.
Throughout this period of my life my contact with Clayton was mainly non-existent though but a few brief encounters. He had taken a near-deadly hit in the spring of 1998. I went to see him in the hospital, though he was unconscious at the time. We had a few brief phone conversations some time after. Months later I received a letter and a Sony 90 tape with KREATOR's 'Cause For Conflict' and IMPALED NAZARENE's 'Latex Cult' on the B-side. It was a dreary affair, what happened that year, yet like as in many things life just fell back into place and moved onward. When I decided to make the Decade Project a serious personal commitment I asked Clayton to join me. I got no reply from him, I assumed he'd given up on the past and eventually I decided to forego the project for that reason among others. Give up on the past and move forward. Like I said, we crossed paths a couple of other times but it wasn't until after my father's death in spring 2004 that I heard from him again on purpose. From there we talked more regularly but, as you'll read in future posts, the dynamics of our relationship would never truly change...a lot of roller-coaster action. In these many years we have had really kick-ass times and connected as friends on many key things and then bouts of really shitty times when the mere though of him invoked the most insipid dread. I think we've buried any hatchets regarding our past conflicts. And now we are on peaceful terms but the prospect of ever doing anything musical together is implausible.
In the summer of 2004, after a few trying months of grieving, Jeremy and Kasey Klassen stopped by my house with a proposal to start up a proper band. I accepted, and most of the remainder of the year was spend bonding, writing, jamming and drinking with these guys, and Chris Wynne as well, who came in on bass guitar initially. Jeremy left at the end of 2004 to work up north but not before we managed to record our first demo as PERPETUANCE. Upon his departure, I was left with some time to work on a new project...
Back in the fall of 1999 I had hatched a scheme to work on something very dark and heavy, besides the Decade Project at the time. Though I had written bits of songs throughout the years since that point the project hadn't yet seen the full light of day. I decided now would be the time to make it happen as I had a few months before Jeremy's return in the spring of 2005. I dubbed it GODCURSED, which was one of a shitload of names rejected by the boys when we were trying to decide on a band name for PERPETUANCE.
After recording the PERPETUANCE demo, I began writing for a second demo. The 2 songs which comprise the GODCUSED 2004 Demo are in fact 2 of these songs. I decided to use them for this new project of mine and so began the preproduction for what would become my first solo album, 'Domain', in 2005.
And this is where my upcoming series of accounts or memoirs regarding all my self-produced/self-released projects from 2005-2018 will begin. Enjoy.
Chris Shaver, September 15, 2018
1. Crawling God
2. Where The Wraith Awaits
3. Needle Eye
5. Dead Of Winter
6. Spurning The Cross
7. The Gift Of Tongues
8. Dread Realm
9. As The Moon I Haunt You
11. Danse Macabre
Recorded December 2004-March 2005 @ DeciBelaire by Chris Shaver.
Chris Shaver - All Instruments.
Artwork by Chris Shaver.
In 1999, whilst working on the Decade Project, I felt a sense of longing for the lost material I had written for what was to be the second MORBID DARKNESS demo, 'Enter The 7th Sacrificial Domain' back in 1992. I had remembered a handful of riffs and because all the writing tapes were destroyed many years before I had no real references to revise and potentially record them for inclusion on the Decade Project - which, incidentally, was the revision and re-recording of all released and unreleased MORBID DARKNESS demos from 1989-1995. As I conceived my new and yet unnamed project I kept at the forefront of my mind the need to shed light on this forlorn body of music and write anew using it solely as my inspiration. At the time the farthest I got with any full composition was what would become 'Crawling God'. The project went on the back burner along with the Decade Project when it became apparent that I was loosing steam over the whole thing.
Fast forward to late 2004, as my previously conceived project was gaining momentum to becoming a reality. Named GODCURSED (I should have really called it 'Curse God', as that was the true idea behind the name, not 'Cursed By God'), I began the work on 'Domain' in the form of some pre-production in December 2004.
On the technical side of things, I had been using Steinberg recording software (thanks Chris Wynne) for 6 or so months but my meager 2 input M-Audio USB soundcard presented more than a few obstacles, primarily while tracking drums. In the end, my signal chain was as follows: 2 overhead Samson pencil condensers in a stereo pattern as well as 3 tom mics (1970s/80s era tape recorder microphones - very trashy) were run through Kasey's Mackie mixer and the stereo out went into my M-Audio Duo. As opposed to running the whole kit through the mixer, which could have been done, I opted to send the snare and kick mic signals (via a Shure 58-copy and an Optimus omni-directional dynamic, respectively) to my Yamaha MTX-4 and from there into my Mini Disc recorder component unit, each panned hard left and right so I could play them back on to the software as separate tracks and sync them up afterwards using audio cues. It worked great and allowed me to really manipulate the sounds for both the snare and kick drums.
Guitars were run from my Peavey Studio Pro 112 with a Boss MT-2 pedal directly to the Duo. I was obsessed with the guitar sound I had developed back in '99 while dreaming up this yet unborn project. It was loosely based mainly on two albums I loved: SLAUGHTER's 'Strappado' and ASSASSIN's 'Interstellar Experience'. The general 'chainsaw' attributes came through and it worked well enough. I wasn't inherently playing a lot of guitar solos at this time and sadly this is evident here. However, I did a lot of layering and this makes up for that shortcoming in my mind when I listen to the album today. I had no bass guitar. So I tracked clean guitar "bass" parts in the neck pickup position (for fatter tone) and later manipulated these tracks with some pitch shifting plugins. It worked well, I think, though the bass parts aren't way up front anyway. Vocals were something I hadn't done literally for years. I sang through one of my pencil condensers. I remember that editing the vocal tracks was the biggest shit-show about this whole album. All production came to a close in late March, early April 2005.
Some songs were brand new, written during production, some had a few old riffs and were added on during production and some were near finished older compositions. I was going for a dark and sinister vibe as that was the one present in the 'ET7SD' material from '92. Lyrical themes were right in line with that.
The artwork was some photo manipulation stuff of my own face and the row of trees on my grandma's property set in winter with the eastern mountains in the background. This was a concept which hearkened back to my memories of winter '91/'92 when I would walk to my mother's house on some Friday nights. My mental state at that time was dark and brooding indeed. There is also a nod to a feeling that 'something' was sometimes felt to be watching us (Clayton and myself) during the summer of '91 and 'its' origin seemed to be from the direction of those very mountains and trees in the photos I used. It all seemed very fitting with the overall dark vibe of the music.
I initially released a bunch of labelled CDR's, mainly to friends and acquaintances before eventually releasing it digitally on Garageband. PERPETUANCE had regrouped by this time, with a new moniker DEVILUTION and though my solo project would lie dormant for a while it was just as well. Being in an actual band, though not without its moments of frustration and occasional annoyances, was giving me new perspectives on music in general. I learned more about guitar playing in a year being in the company of Chris Wynne, a very gifted player, than in my whole life up til then. Besides all that, it was good to have camaraderie with some good blokes again and I really do treasure a lot of those memories we shared together. We had also brought in Quin Cormier (RIP) to play bass allowing Chris to share guitar duties with me and show off his soloing talents. We played some gigs and wrote a bunch more songs and then after New Year 2006 things went quiet yet again.
The main take away from 'Domain' was that I had finally self-produced and released a proper complete album, something I had aspired to achieve since the days just before MORBID DARKNESS became a ghost and which I nearly did achieve in 2002/2003 with DROL. I'm never satisfied, though, and I consider each project to be a prerequisite to another.
Chris Shaver, September 15, 2018
1. Morgenrot (Intro)
2. The Lord Of Flies
4. Lake Of Blood
5. A Darkness Behind The Son
6. Past Life Strife
8. On Crimson Winds
9. The Dying Light
10. Symbol For Sickness
11. Enter The Last Sleep
Recorded December 2006-October 2007 @ S8N8M by Chris Shaver.
Chris Shaver - All Instruments.
Andrea Miron - Guest Vocals on 'Past Life Strife'.
Artwork by Chris Shaver.
I began working on the second GODCURSED album in late spring 2005, virtually right after releasing 'Domain' to the world. It came in small increments. I began with some preproduction using my Pearl kit for the last time before selling it to Jeremy (due to monetary issues...). I couldn't seem to find my groove. I had initially planned to record a 3 volume set of albums called 'Edicius' and most of the material was already written or at least partly written, spanning back a few years. I allotted about a half of the playlist slots for brand new material but most of the new stuff I was writing went to DEVILUTION. I abandoned the 'Edicius' idea fairly quickly into production and decided to save it for when I had the time to focus on it more clearly. Besides, I had no drum kit now, and at this point I didn't know anything about midi or DAW drum machines.
In fall 2005 after playing a handful of gigs with DEVILUTION things got a bit quiet again. At this point I was obsessively 'remixing' and 'remastering' the 'Domain' album in my spare time. The original mix, in my ears, in my studio with my fat ass 'studio monitors' was a transcending experience in audio. However, in my inexperience, there were frequencies which were too high in the mix for variable outside audio sources. During early fall I distinctly recall hanging out at a rural farmhouse bonfire with the band and some mutual friends. One of them was blasting a mix CD or perhaps an iPod through their booming car stereo while all of us stood around a rather impressive bonfire drinking beers and shooting the shit. At some point a very familiar intro began to play and I soon realized it was 'Dread Realm' from the album. I was a bit embarrassed when the main song started and all I could hear, drowning out virtually everything else in the mix, was this obtusely sub bass driven kick drum signal. Buddy had some serious sub action going on in his car stereo and it couldn't have showed any more than in this atrocious mix. No one else seemed to mind too much but I was nearly unable to focus on anything else but that goddamned kick drum pounding away in the misty night until at last the song ended and I could again think straight. The next morning I began on my obsessive conquest to make that mix right.
Fast forward a couple of months and it was announced that as a surprise to a friend of ours on his birthday, which was on New Years Eve, we would play at his party at a local hall which would be rented for the night. So began the rehearsals for that affair and the subsequent gig which followed. It was certainly great to be back in the action after a brief dry spell but as quickly as it was rekindled the fire was extinguished. I don't know the exact reasons but suddenly we weren't jamming anymore. Part of it was not having a proper rehearsal space during the winter months and I suppose another part of it was people doing other things, etc. I remember writing a couple of new songs at the very beginning of 2006 and rough demoing them to play for the band. Then it was off to Mexico in January for 10 days and when I returned DEVILUTION was in hiatus mode again. So I used this down time to get going on the next GODCURSED album.
My sister Jessica, who had been having some issues, had lived with us for a while and by this time was clearly developing Huntington's Disease. I didn't have the nerve to say anything about it to anyone. I don't know if she knew herself but I had my suspicions. In the spring of 2006 we had come to a point where we could no longer have her at the house. It was a sad reality but there was too much animosity and discomfort to bare any longer. It was also sad when she finally found a seedy unit in Vernon in a shady area of town and we had to let her go it alone. This worried me to no end and we came to visit as much as we could to ensure some of those lowlife leeches from the area weren't getting their fangs in her. I came across as a blunt and threatening character to some of them and they usually dispersed when we would arrive. Jessica, after all, was a tough person and she got along pretty well by herself. This eased my mind to a certain degree but I knew things would eventually get worse for her in other ways.
At some point I began to lose a lot of weight and this among other menacing symptoms lead me to believe that I had become diabetic. A trip to my family doctor and a quicker trip to the emergency room at the VJH would confirm this suspicion. Good old type 1, which sometimes had reared its ugly head in both my mother's and father's side of the family. I did not despair, but in fact tried to see any positives that I could. Music helped, I must say, and as long as I would stay busy with music and writing and being productive I could keep my mind from lapsing into any self pity which may arise from this situation.
For most of early-mid 2006 I wrote snippets of songs and at some point Clayton and I got back into talking and occasionally we would casually hang out somewhere and talk for hours and hours. It became evident that we were both interested in doing something new with MORBID DARKNESS. We had a rekindled passion when Dale Roy of Autopsy Kitchen Records issued select '94 material on a 7" vinyl in late '04 or early '05. Clayton hadn't been in possession of a guitar for years so we decided his contributions would solely be in the vocal department. I wrote from early summer 2006 until early February 2007 giving him copies of the rough demos as they were completed throughout that time. I had become mildly proficient in using the Steinberg LM 7 drum machine which I had started using out of necessity and honestly some of these songs were sounding really good to me. I had never seen any lyrics written or any real concepts or proof thereof on paper during this whole time, though I seem to recall Clayton talking about doing a song called 'Disciples Of Power', which would have been a nod the Canadian band of the same name and which we both had loved since the early days. I secretly hated the idea, simply because of how it was presented to me and the reminiscent undertones which were akin to those of 1996 when everything about the band had to be rooted in the past... I wanted to say fuck the past and lets focus on right now and on future efforts. I kept quiet and decided to see how things would play out on their own.
So in February 2007, after not hearing from him for a few weeks I received a most unusual email, which triggered an email piss fight which ended in a rift, again. I won't get into specifics because I don't want to pull such things out of the ground but we were at odds and though this type of thing always sucked, I was blessed to have already begun production on 'Past Life Strife', the new GODCURSED album. Due to the stagnant vibes I was getting from Clayton in the latter part of 2006, I decided to go forth with GODCURSED as I knew this MORBID DARKNESS thing was never going to materialize...also reminiscent of all those times in the past.
I was using all plugins in my DAW to develop my guitar sound for all the MD demos I had written and tracked as well as all the spring 2006 snippets I had written so it was a natural assumption that I would use the same set up for the album. I also had no drum kit and the LM 7 samples were not sonically pleasing to me. I had no triggering capabilities so I decided to map out all the drums using the LM-7, exporting each drum voice in its own mix and using the wave-forms I put back into the session as visual reference to drop in audio samples I had recorded in early fall 2005 on the old Pearl kit up at the rehearsal studio (the 'barn' at Jeremy's house). What a tedious fucking affair this was. Each sample I dropped in had to be manipulated so as to exhibit the proper accent and feel. It took hours to re-sample a basic track. But I had no kit and I wasn't about to sit around for 3 years until I could afford one, as money was tight at this point in time. It was that or use the midi, simple as that.
Production went on casually into the summer of '07 and by this time I knew the MD album was a no-go. I utilized 3 of those MD tracks I wrote and a couple of the DEVILUTION tracks which I felt were being unused at this point for that project. I had tracked some older songs which I decided wouldn't make the album so these songs made great alternates. I had my girl Andrea sing for a section of the title track which turned out great and provided a bit of an elevated emotional sting which that track needed (it was written about my father's suicide, loosely). Guitar solos were also quite evident on this release and what was on the first album a darker, more death metal sound this time around became more thrashy and melodic in nature. As well, my vocal approach was one more akin to that of Francis M. Howard of OPPROBRIUM/INCUBUS.
At some point in the summer of 2007 Jeremy and Kasey who were living together at the time came around with another nudge at band-talk. A young upstart bassist by the name of Jesse Valstar had expressed an interest in jamming with us. So began a new project called HYBRIDS OF EXILE. We developed some new songs, incorporated a few old ones and began playing gigs that fall. I was nearly finished the GODCURSED album at this point and decided to get it out before things got too heavy with HOE. I released it digitally via KIAC, or the IAC website which was an indy radio site, sort of an early version of something like Bandcamp. Myspace? Garageband? I can't remember if I was still dealing with these platforms to release a full album or not.
HOE was gaining momentum and we kept on it, eventually recording a 6 track demo over the winter of 2007/2008. I felt great doing this again, though a gnawing need to continue GODCURSED despite HOE's busy schedule made for a real lack of free time. Nonetheless, I kept it going and 2008 would bring about a third album...eventually.
Chris Shaver, November 4, 2018
1. Sumerian Nights
2. Crudus Pro Diabolus
3. The Blood Door
4. Ancient Death
5. Forest Of Bone And Flesh
6. Piercing The Armor Of God
8. The Crusade Of Pain
9. Razor Key
10. Haussibut Arise
11. Sorrow In Frost
12. Black Metal Blade
13. (Reprise) The Blood Door/God Is Dead
Recorded July-August 2008 @ Redrum by Chris Shaver.
Chris Shaver - All Instruments.
Artwork by Chris Shaver.
I began writing new material after the HOE demo was done, at least after my contributions for the production were complete. For a change, I found myself most inspired after midnight…after coming home from the late shifts at my work. I continued for a few weeks using some plugins for the guitar sounds and the trusty LM-7 for rough beats…the same scenario I used while writing for Past Life Strife and the downed MD album. Once the HOE demo was mixed we got back to regular jamming and writing new material and for much of the spring and summer of ’08 we were playing shows locally and really having a spanking time.
Sometime in the summer, Jeremy decided to move on, though he graciously offered to play double duty with his new outfit, Cold Driven – which he played with before we first formed Perpetuance. I think by this time things in the band were fizzling out and perhaps it was a mutual feeling of monotony amongst us all. It must have been because in July I began full tilt on production for album #3, ‘The Blood Door’.
I decided to utilize my old songs from mid-late ’06 which were supposed to be used for the MD album. I also decided to re-record Sorrow In Frost, which I had originally penned and demoed in early 1992 as ‘The Ascending Sorrow/The Ascending Frost’ and a 1995 track called ‘Black Metal Blade’. This gave me a very full length album and I hurriedly tracked all the guitar parts with vigour in the first few weeks. The first 2 tracks after the intro (Sumerian Nights) were connected when I demoed them back in February and the couple of tracks I intended to follow them up with sort of connected quite well so I decided to make the album seamless. Why? I don’t really know. I know I wanted to do something different and bold. It seemed (pardon the pun) like a great idea at the time.
I tracked the guitars with a split signal directly from my amp into a DI box with an amp/stack emulator. I decided not to resample all the drums as I had with PLS. I didn’t have the patience this time around and I was kind of digging the crappy drum sound of the scratch tracks I had put together as reference. Instead, I kept all the snare, kick and tom tracks and resampled the hats, cymbals and ride. I don’t love it but it was what I had to do and that is often my modus operandi. The vocals were a nightmare. I had at this point developed an infected sebaceous cyst on my back and it was fucking sore. Initial antibiotics failed to do anything and this was all during the vocal sessions. Soon after, nature took its course and the motherfucker exploded (I will spare the grizzly details) just in time for mixdowns. I was still using an ancient IBM at this point and too many plugins, not to mention the 70 minutes of waveforms strung together in one session, were bogging it down – even after the many renderings. I opted to slam a hard compressor on ‘em, giving them a distorted feature (I remixed the album in 2009 for release on CD-R and reduced the abrasive sound of these vocals substantially, fyi). I don’t love this either but my deadline was the end of August. I think I was trying to beat Metallica’s release date for Death Magnetic…for some reason.
I released it digitally on IAC again amidst some questionable self-promotion (I will include a slideshow of those ads eventually) and once it was released I immediately went on to some writing sessions with Chris Wynne again as we had all sort of wanted to continue HOE after all. We had auditioned a new drummer (Todd Anker) but it all just didn’t seem to be meant to be. I found myself with a lot of time. At some point I quite literally thought that was it for GODCURSED. Was it a lack of enthusiasm? A lack of inspiration? I think I needed a break and in a lot of ways I did take one…always writing but not really thinking about the next album.
Eventually I’d begin toying with the idea of re-recording a bunch of old MD songs. I always felt that so many of those songs were left half-baked…really only demoed in somewhat of an incomplete state, in my mind at least. In December my inner workings would see me beginning this new album, or as I saw it at the time a ‘tribute’, as I would go on as GODCURSED after all.
Chris Shaver, December 9, 2018