Interview with Dallas Smith of Barghest
Barghest are a black metal band from Baton Rouge, La who are playing in Monroe this weekend with The Flying Humanoids and Sheeple. I took this opportunity to do a short q&a with singer/guitarist Dallas Smith to find out a little more about them. You can check their music out on Facebook or Bandcamp.
Being from south Louisiana, the sludge metal capital of the world, how did you come to discover black metal?
Around high school, I started to get more and more into obscure bands. It didn’t necessarily need to be the most extreme material I could find but it had to convey a certain atmosphere and emotion. It started with death metal like Incantation and Morbid Angel then I got really into doom. Not so much the traditional stuff but bands like Evoken and especially old My Dying Bride. It wasn’t until I really started to delve into black metal that I truly found what I had been searching for. The music really struck a chord with how I felt and listening to it became a therapeutic and incredibly cathartic experience.
What made you want to create a band like Barghest, and what bands would you say are the most influential on your sound?
Contrary to what people think, it was never really the Norwegian bands that we were into so much as it was the American, Swedish and Finnish scenes. It was much more Demoncy, Arckanum and Behexen than it was Burzum or Emperor. Also, while we do consider ourselves a black metal band first and foremost, there is an undeniable death metal influence on our sound and the new material sees us finally bringing out our doom metal side as well.
Black metal originated in the frostbitten woods of Norway and has since exploded in the US in places like Portland, Chicago, and New York. Do you feel that the sweltering, oppressive humidity of the south is just as conducive to making this type of music as places with colder climates?
Absolutely, I think that both your music and yourself are products of your environment. The smothering humidity and sprawling chemical wastelands of Southern Louisiana are just as oppressive as the northern cold, if not more so. It’s incredibly cliche to equate black metal with the cold. It was an integral part of the 2nd wave bands for sure, but to me and many others, it goes far beyond snow and ice.
This month, you guys released your split ep with False and it’s been getting rave reviews. How did you hook up with them?
Basically we are label mates and thought it would make for an interesting pairing within the same genre. Two bands from opposite ends of the black metal spectrum.
You guys have undergone a few lineup changes since you recorded that ep, right?
We are on or third drummer since recording those songs. Other than that, we made the decision that I will be playing guitar as well as doing vocals. While I have contributed guitar in the past, this is now permanent and has definitely changed the writing style and musical direction a bit.
Will you be working on a new full length with the new lineup any time soon?
We are actually writing a new album as we speak. As I said, it will certainly be a somewhat new direction and I think we have grown as a band substantially. Quite honestly, while we love the tracks on the new split, they were somewhat the beginning and end to a chapter of the band. “Shifting Sands” is arguably my favorite track of ours that has been released so far and is also the first song we ever wrote. The other track, “Inhuman Hatred” was the last unreleased song from our original line up and a very rough recording at that… With that said, we felt it needed to be heard. The contrasting vibes of the two tracks is unmistakable. While we certainly wont ever have a production that is even remotely “clean”, for the new album we will go for a little more clarity this time around. This is for no other reason than wanting all the dynamics and little nuances added to be clear and apparent. Make no mistake, Barghest will always be a raw black metal band.
For people that have not seen Barghest before, or even people who’ve never seen a black metal band live, what would you say they should expect from your live show?
I’ll say this: If you hear the term “black metal” and you come to see us expecting corpse paint and elaborate stage props for the novelty factor, you may be disappointed. We are incredibly passionate about our music and believe it speaks for itself. Basically, we have no desire to conform to a preconceived image of any kind. Expect abrasiveness and expect hatred and disdain conveyed through sound.
Will you guys be doing a full tour any time soon?
That’s something we have been working on for quite sometime and only recently has it become truly feasible. Stay tuned.
Finally, if you could have written any song ever, what would it be?
Once again, another ridiculously hard question. Without thinking too much, maybe “Black Sabbath” by Black Sabbath. If you’re going to pick a song, why not pick the one that started it all, right?