Hellish Torment

Hellish Torment (Black Metal) - Michigan

-Interview- (7/5/24)
1. How did you get started with music and how did you develop your sound? How did the name "Hellish Torment" come about and is there any meaning to it?

I started playing guitar when I was 13, I am not sure when my guitar player and drummer started their honing their craft but my drummer is much older than me and has been playing for at least 30 years. Our guitar player however is the youngest in the band. He originally joined when we started the band 8 years ago and he was 18, I was 29 at the time. My guitar playing is highly influenced by melodic death metal, thrash, black metal and power metal bands.

Our name, we just started writing down every cool sounding name that we thought of. We had some really great ones written down like Grim Prophecy, Conjured Demon, Christ aborted, and many others that I can't remember but the list has disappeared. Most names were taken but I found some great bands when checking to see which names were taken. However not all were great. Hellish Torment just came to be when I decided to put a word after hellish. There was only one other band that released music under that name but nothing more than a demo in the 80s. However after we became a little public that we are a band another Hellish Torment has popped up I think out of the UK. Completely different band in every way. I think we are already dominating the global metal scene over them with our Hellish Torment.

2. What do you want people to take away from your music?

For our music I would like for people to say fuck Christianity. The U.S. seems to have Christian radicals taking over the government and are changing laws to benefit themselves and seem to want to make all other religions or lack of religion illegal. Fuck that. They can shove their religion up their asses and leave the rest of us alone.

3. How would you describe your sound to the average listener?

Our sound for the average listener, catchy fast paced riffs and arpeggios with some melodic and neoclassical guitar solos, screeching black metal vocals, blast beats and fast double bass drumming, topped off with some lyrics to offend those who worship god.

4. Who are three bands you’d like to tour with?

Three bands that I would like to tour with would be Abbath, Kalmah and Exmortus. I know, only Abbath does black metal. But Kalmah is one of my favorites and I have built a friendship with Exmortus over the years so a tour with them would be a lot of fun.

5. What's your thoughts on AI generated music?

For AI generated music, I'm not paying attention to it and don't plan to listen to it. It seems like something I am more likely to hear in commercials and be music I don't care about. The metal community seems to be very against it so I doubt it would get pushed onto us without somebody pointing out that it's AI. And if it is AI and nobody tells us, it wouldn't take people long to figure it out as most metalheads like to see bands play live. How will the AI bands trick us into thinking they are real, with holograms?

6. What’s your take on the current state of Metal?

My take on the current state of metal. It's a mixed bag as to how I feel. On one end of it we are seeing bands combining all sorts of genres to create a new sound, a lot of pop influence in those bands. I think names of new genres should be used to address a lot of these bands. I don't care for a lot of it. But then we have newer bands like Beast In Black bringing in other influences into power metal like hair metal and synth wave or kind of some 80s pop. I really like what they do because they make their mixed bag work really well.

I also think that North America is starting to get better festivals which is really nice especially for those who can't afford to travel to Europe for festivals. Prog Power USA, Maryland Deathfest and 70000 Tons Of Metal have been doing it for quite a while now. But now there is also Hell's Heroes, The Hyperspace Metal Festival, Psycho Las Vegas (but will that come back?), and Full Terror Assault. I'm glad that the one day touring festivals have kind of died out in favor of festivals that take on a few days and give you longer sets of the bands.

7. What’s the current music scene like there in Michigan?

The current music scene in Michigan is looking really well actually, I can't believe I am saying that. For a long time from when I graduated highschool up until the pandemic my side of the state was seriously dominated by metalcore, deathcore or "scene" bands. It seemed like during that time my generation was the one starting bands with people in their late teens to early 30s and none of them had guitar players with a lot of talent. They were fine with only playing slow riffs of just open notes. And then if there was a band with some good guitar playing they lacked in something else, usually vocals. I once saw a band that would have been a great thrash band. But they had the wrong vocalist. The guy just did these really lame cleans and unimpressive growls. I told one of them they needed a new singer. He responded "we don't care, he brings the girls to the show". Meanwhile this guy looked like he was in his 30s and the only girl there was the one selling their merch and looked like she could have still been in highschool. But it seems like all of those musicians hit a point where they just gave up because none of them were getting anywhere. Still Remains was the one exception at one point but they actually and some talent. The other bands, they knew what they wanted but couldn't deliver.

As for now my band is finally out on the scene along with a new blackened death metal band in my city called The Black Temple. There are a couple more around Kalamazoo like Goat Blood Fetish and Project Apocalypse. We also have a new thrash metal band in my city called Chain Ripper. That band even got Wraith to play in a small bar in my city last year. And most shockingly is we have been getting some bigger names in black metal actually come here this year such as 1349 and Morbikon. These shows were packed with people. 5 years ago there would have been 10-30 at one of these shows. I am thanking gen z for this. The new generation that is now old enough to go into bars has better taste in metal than the millennials here. And the east side of Michigan has always been good as far as I know. I still go there a lot for shows to see.

8. What’s your take on the royalties that streaming services pay out to artists?

I think royalties on streaming services are a joke. My band is completely independent and we haven't made shit. I have paid a few PR companies now to help us market our music. One of the last ones I hired a couple of months ago seemed to have a stronger emphasis on Spotify playlists. Yet it didn't do much for us financially and I'm not really sure that is what helps bands get noticed. Sure we can pop up on people's playlists, but I think we are still a society that likes to take recommendations. On my TikTok channel I do quick little review of obscure bands and people love my channel for that. TikTok I think is probably where we have gained most of our fans besides our music videos on YouTube which have gotten people's attention. And in the 2 years since we first put music onto streaming services up until now, we have only made $5. I think I am doing better for us by travelling to different parts of the world and advertising us in person at shows and festivals. I even bring merch with me to sell but I am also handing out sample copies of our album.

9. What’s next for Hellish Torment?

Next for us is getting more active with playing shows. We haven't done much all year because I have been working so hard on getting the album finished, marketing and doing everything that a label would do for us out of my own pocket and doing it during all of my free time in the day when I am not at work. As of right now I am trying to get a small tour together that will happen around Halloween. I will reveal details about that once I get all of the shows booked. And we want to do more touring too.

10. Any shoutouts?

I would like to give shoutouts to some of the bands in my state who have been supporting us, ObsElite, The Black Temple, Chain Ripper, Flesh For The Beast, Goat Blood Fetish, Baazlvaat, and Mortal Disguise.