Kat Gillham is without a doubt one of the hardest working musicians on the UK extreme metal underground. Through her work with doomy death metallers Uncoffined and death-crust band Winds Of Genocide as well as her newer bands Enshroudment and Lucifers Chalice, she has played a big part in various extreme metal scenes. We had a chat with Kat to hear all about her current bands and what they are up to, how she got into extreme music, her time with previous bands Morstice and Blessed Realm, her favourite ever gigs and much, much more in an expansive talk. I’d like to thank Kat for taking the time to answer so many questions and for her very informative answers.
Check out her bands here
How did you get into extreme music in the first place and what music were you listening to when you discovered it?
I first discovered extreme music in 1990 aged 13/14 years old, I started off listening to the usual culprits at the time, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica, Anthrax but soon quickly started being exposed to bands such as Exodus, Overkill, Candlemass, King Diamond, Venom, Hallows Eve, Holy Terror etc via schoolfriends who did me C-90 cassette tapes with albums by those bands on them aswell as a Speed Kills album on vinyl that my sisters ex boyfriend gave me and my younger brother which first introduced me properly to bands such as Possessed, Bathory, Agent Steel, Death Angel, Dark Angel, Sacrilege, Death, Onslaught etc… that fuelled an insatiable hunger to delve deeper into the heavier end of the metal/music scene and I was soon discovering Kreator, early Celtic Frost and very crucially death metal and grind via record stores, the original Grindcrusher compilation (my first introduction to Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Terrorizer, Repulsion, Carcass etc)… I started getting obsessed with pretty much anything on labels such as Roadrunner, Under One Flag, Noise Records, Earache then a little later Nuclear Blast, Century Media etc… but by early 1992 I was fully obsessed by death metal scene and started delving into the true underground scene and became very active in the death metal underground scene via tape trading, buying demos, buying zines, writing/sending letters via snail mail which led me to forming my old death metal band Morstice age 15 in summer 1992.
Who are some of your influences?
Personally? So many bands have influenced me in various ways, all of the above mentioned bands as they opened up new gateways into the extreme metal/music scene for me.
Plus bands such as Obituary, Deicide, Entombed, Dismember, Grave, Unleashed, Sepultura, Sodom, Merciless, Hellhammer, Winter, Saint Vitus, early Cathedral, Trouble, Pentagram (US), Revelation, The Obsessed, Solitude Aeturnus, Autopsy, early Anathema, early Paradise Lost, early My Dying Bride, early Darkthrone, early Impaled Nazarene, Voivod, early At The Gates, early Dissection, early Eucharist, Amebix, Anti-Cimex, Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade, Disfear, Discharge, Doom, Integrity, Skitsystem, Mercyful Fate, Dream Death, early Penance, Witchfinder General etc… all have had a profound effect and influence on me in various ways and along with the bands mentioned in my previous answer first introduced me to new exciting styles of music when I was younger… the Swedish, Finnish, USA, European death metal scenes in general have been a huge collective influence.
The new Uncoffined album Ceremonies Of Morbidity came out last year. How has the reaction to the album been?
So far the reaction has been great and very positive overall, the album has got quite a few very good reviews and the feedback from fans and peers alike has been so awesome so I’m very happy about that as we spent A LOT of time and effort making this album become a reality and poured so much personal passion into it which I hope comes across to people when they listen to it.
How did the recording of the album go?
Very smoothly overall, we didn’t have to retake too much overall and we got the 5 songs recorded musically (drums, guitars, bass) in one day with the lead parts and vocals being recorded over an extra couple of studio sessions. As with any recording there was a few testing times with some parts but they got ironed out and sorted pretty quickly.
We were very well rehearsed by the time we hit the studio and had been crafting, honing and refining the songs over a period of a few years before entering the studio which I think is a very important factor in making a studio recording go relatively smooth!
You have some great horror film samples on the album. Can you tell us a bit about them and which films they’re from?
Yes. The title track “Ceremonies Of Morbidity” is about ritual satanic sacrifice, witchcraft and clandestine black masses and is based on the film “Horror Hotel” a.k.a. City Of The Dead which features Christopher Lee and has a fascinating plot, a young female student travels to the fictional Massachusetts town of Whitewood to do some research into witchcraft. She finds the town occupied by the reincarnation of an infamous witch who was burned at the stake in the 17th century. To sustain her immortality, virgins must be sacrificed to the witch every year – and this year, the student is the chosen victim. The samples before and after the song are from that film.
“Plague Of the Uncoffined” is based on “Night Of The Living Dead”, another film I have been a huge fan of for years and there is samples from the film.
“Ill Omens Of Death And Disease” opens with a sample from the old 70’s Spanish horror film Tombs Of The Blind Dead and is about a sinister local folklore/ghost story about a headless horseman and black horse which according to legend rose up from a pond in the middle of a village near to where I grew up each time death or severe illness was to befall a villager, they would rise out of the pond in the early hours and could be seen or heard slowly clip clopping and moving through the village forewarning of impending death and/or disease before the horse with the headless rider disappeared back into the pond (which has long since been covered over.) A story that has fascinated me since I was a child.
“The Horrors Of Highgate” opens up with a sample from the old 70’s hammer horror film Twins Of Evil and is about various ghost stories/legends that are attached to Highgate Cemetery in North London including The infamous Highgate Vampire which was rumoured to be lurking amongst the overgrown graves of Highgate back in the 60’s/70’s, there was various apparent sightings of it back then when the place was untendered. The lyrics also reference various other ghost stories of Highgate cemetery in general, including those of the mournful phantom tolling bells that have been heard ringing from the disused chapel in one part of the cemetery in the middle of the night.
The song “Awakened From Their Dormant Slumber” is based on the old early 1980’s Italian horror film “The Zombie Dead” a.k.a Burial Ground and “Nights Of Terror” released in 1981.
A scientist studying an ancient crypt near a grand mansion accidentally unleashes an evil curse. The curse reanimates the dead buried in the area and the zombies devour the scientist and the skeletal ghouls kill other visitors to the mansion leaving a trail of blood and terror in their wake.
A truly creepy and sinister horror film about undead bloodthirsty zombie monks which I just had to write a song about and they are some of the most ghoulish looking zombies I have seen in a film.
The lyrics are soley based on this film and all samples in that song are taken from that film.
What are some of your favourite horror films of all time?
Any old Hammer Horror films like those already mentioned plus The Devil Rides Out, Plague Of The Zombies, Taste The Blood Of Dracula, Scars Of Dracula, The Vampire Lovers, Lust For A Vampire, Kiss Of The Vampire, Masque Of The Red Death, Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb, Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb, Curse Of The Werewolf, Rasputin The Mad Monk, Nosferatu, Blood On Satan’s Claw, The Evil Of Frankenstein, Satanic Rites Of Dracula etc…
It definitely was a challenge at first but now I am very much used to doing both at the same time live and in rehearsals, I like having the control of both the drums and vocals in Uncoffined and really enjoy handling both.
How would you describe the music of Uncoffined?
DOOM METAL OF DEATH!!
What music were you listening to while you were making Ceremonies Of Morbidity?
Well what influenced it musically was the total doom of early Trouble, 80’s Candlemass, Early Cathedral, Early Penance, Early Revelation, Early Black Sabbath, Winter, Early Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, Early Paradise Lost, Eternal Darkness, Thy Grief Eternal, early Solitude Aeturnus etc…
Have Uncoffined got any upcoming live dates?
Yes, Newcastle April 23rd with Solothus (Finland), Live Burial and more, it will be our first gig in 2 years and the first time playing some new album material live in front of people!
Hopefully more live dates will follow later in the year, I really want to get out there again and spread our satanic doom sermons to various crowds and cities across the UK and beyond.
Are there any plans for Winds Of Genocide to follow up Usurping The Throne Of Disease?
Yes, some new material is written and we will be working on more new material over the coming months. I already have a title for the next album aswell as quite a few definete new lyrical ideas and song titles.
What about live dates?
Yes, June with Warwound (featuring members/ex members of The Varukers, Sacrilege, Discharge, The Vile etc…) and Burning Flag in Gateshead, near Newcastle Upon Tyne but that’s the only confirmed show for Winds Of Genocide at the moment.
Scandinavian käng/d beat/crust punk like Wolfpack, Wolfbrigade, Anti-Cimex, Skitsystem, Disfear, Martyrdöd, Bombanfall, Avskum, Totalitär etc.. Swedish death metal like early Dismember, early Entombed, early Unleashed, UK crust/punk like Discharge, Amebix, Doom, Disgust, ENT, Deviated Instinct etc… USA crust/punk like Masskontroll, Poison Idea, World Burns To Death, Tragedy, Consume, Severed Head Of State, Sanctum, Hellshock etc…
Black metal such as early Bathory Hellhammer, Early Darkthrone, early Mayhem, early Impaled Nazarene etc… old thrash like early Kreator, early Sodom etc… Japanese crust/punk like Framtid, Reality Crisis etc…
Can you tell us a bit about Enshroudment, another band you play in?
Enshroudment is a new band I do drums and main vocals in and is a doom/death band heavily influenced by the 90’s output of early Anathema, early My Dying Bride, Thergothon, Morgion, Evoken etc… sounds like it should have been released on Peaceville Records in the early-mid 90’s!! Very heavy, mostly slow funereal doom/death.
Will Enshroudment be releasing any new material or playing live soon?
We have an EP written musically and plan to record later this year. Live shows should follow yes.
What about Lucifers Chalice. Can you tell us about that band and what you do in the band?
Lucifer’s Chalice worships at the musical altar of early Iron Maiden, early Mercyful Fate, Witchfinder General, Angel Witch, early Omen, NWOBHM ’79-’84 in general.
Our debut studio recording “The Pact” will be released digitally soon featuring 4 tracks (in just over 35 minutes) of epic sinister heavy metal darkness with tales of black mass rituals, satanic rites, demonic possession and darkness, death and blood curdling horror!
How would you describe the music of Lucifers Chalice?
Sinister Heavy Metal Darkness.
With being in many bands, is it difficult to split your time to dedicate to each band and how do you maintain that?
No it works out fine right now, different bands take priority at different times depends on what is happening with each band at a certain time.
Would you or have you done a gig where Uncoffined, Winds Of Genocide, Enshoudment and Lucifers Chalice have all played or a combination of two or three of your bands?
Probably not! I have done 2 rehearsals in the same day with a combination of some of those bands but never played a gig with any 2 if the bands on the same bill, but never say never!!! It might end up happening one day!
Have you got any other bands or plans for more or are you fine with just the four?!
Four is quite enough at the moment!
Do you have fond memories of your time with Blessed Realm and could you tell us a bit about your time in the band?
Yes I most definetly do, the 90’s underground doom scene was a very cool and exciting thing to be a part of, the UK scene only consisted of a handful or so of doom bands formed by die hard doomheads out of pure passion for the music and genre, there really was no bandwagon to jump on back then. The UK, European, Scandinavian, Japanese and USA Doom scenes of those times were really great, Eastern USA had a great doom scene back then in Maryland and the German underground doom scene was also very strong too, as was the Swedish doom scene.
I toured Europe with Blessed Realm and we played in Germany, Austria and France(Paris) back in 1996 which was quite an experience! We also played live in England with bands such as Cathedral, Iron Monkey, Solstice, Mourn back then aswell as finding ourselves on quite a few HC orientated bills much like what happened to Saint Vitus in their SST days, quite a few of the local shows we did back then were with HCpunk bands. We always seemed to go down very well with those crowds though!!
Blessed Realm were a heavy doom band. How did you get into doom?
I first got into doom via Trouble, Candlemass then the Dark Passages Vol 1 compilation released by Rise Above in 1991, early Cathedral, Winter, Pentagram, Solitude Aeturnus and The Obsessed in the early 90’s. The Dark Passages comp introduced me to some of the more underground obscure doom bands such as Revelation, Penance, Stillborn and Count Raven. A definte hugely important gateway album into the doom scene for myself and quite a few others.
Your first band was Morstice who recorded two demos. Was there ever any talk of doing an album with the band?
Yes there was, a guy who worked for Peaceville/Deaf Recs at the time actually expressed a strong interest in releasing a Morstice full length album but it wasn’t meant to be, inner band turmoil and a lack of interest in continuing in the death metal scene and a pursuit other music styles and life choices put that band into an early grave.
Do you remember the first gig you ever played with Morstice?
Yes it was here in Durham City in March 1993 at a local Rowing Club, I was 16 years old.
Do you have great memories of those times when you were first starting out?
Yes totally, very exciting times to be involved in the death metal scene/underground. Such exciting times, as a young kid coming home from school literally everyday to be met by a pile of letters and packages was like death metal christmas! I would sit in my bedroom for HOURS constantly listening to death metal via tape trades, vinyl, CD and write letters, read zines, look through fliers… I was like a fucking sponge, just ABSORBING EVERYTHING DEATH METAL!!
How do you feel that the extreme music scene has changed since the Morstice days?
Well the internet and social media has changed the music scene in so many ways. Back then EVERYTHING was done much slower via snail mail or phone calls!! It’s definetly easier to spread your band name and music faster and more quickly these days.
Do you think that social media is a good thing for bands or can it get a bit out of control?
Yes definetly, it’s a very good and effective way of promoting your music and releases to a huge amount of people across the world in one go! Back in the early 90’s word of new recordings/releases was spread via fliers, print zines, tape trading etc so the pace of self promotion was much slower than it is these days.
Do you think that the death metal and black metal scenes are still as vibrant and exciting today as they were in the early 90s?
In some ways yes, theres quite a lot of very cool and great new death metal bands and some cool new black metal bands that have came onto the scene in more recent years but theres also a lot of mediocrity out there again in both the death and black metal scenes.
Back in the early 90’s the death metal scene was just developing and expanding so I definetly think overall it was more exciting back in the early 90’s, same goes for the black metal scene.
You’re also a massive hardcore/crossover/crust punk/D-beat fan. Who are some of your favourite bands and albums from those genres and how did you get into the music?
Wolfpack – “A New Dawn Fades”
Wolfpack – “Lycanthro Punk”
Wolfbrigade – “In Darkness You Feel No Regrets”
Amebix – “Arise”
Discharge – “Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing”
Anti-Cimex -“Scandinavian Jawbreaker”
Anti-Cimex – “Absolut Country Of Sweden”.
Disfear – “Everyday Slaughter”
Disfear -“Soul Scars”
Disfear – “Misanthropic Generation”
Sanctum -“On The Horizon”
Masskontroll -“Will You Ever Learn?”
Disgust -“Brutality Of War”
Doom – “Total Doom”
Doom – “Fuck Peaceville”
Totalitar – “Ni Måste Bort”
Hellkrusher – “Wasteland”
Extinction Of Mankind -“The Nightmare Seconds….
Deviated Instinct – “Gutteral Breath”
Deviated Instinct – “Rock ‘N’ Roll Conformity”
Loud Pipes -“The Downhill Blues”
Skitsystem – Gra Värld/Svarta Tankar
Skitsystem – “Stigmata”
Poison Idea -“Feel The Darkness”
World Burns To Death -“Totalitarian Sodomy”
Integrity -“Those Who Fear Tomorrow”
Nausea – “Extinction”. Sheer Terror – “Just Can’t Hate Enough” Cro-Mags “Best Wishes” Meanwhile – “Same Shit, New Millennium. Meanwhile – “The Road To Hell” Driller Killer – “Reality Bites” Dischange – “Seeing Feeling Bleeding”
Those are some crust/punk albums I love off the top of my head. I first got into crust/punk via friends who were in the death metal band Malediction aswell as the guys in a crust band my younger brother used to play drums in called Embittered and a few other people back then in the early-mid 90’s.
Was there ever animosity (not the COC album!) between Metalheads and hardcore etc fans that you witnessed? I have always been a fan of all the genres and couldn’t see that much difference especially sonically only that it was great music but have seen some division in the past.
I saw some altercations between local metalheads and HCPunks in the early 90’s at local club nights but I always hung out and was friendly with people in both the metal scene and HCPunk scene due to my younger brothers active involvement in the early-mid 90’s HC/Crust/Punk scene. But I used to go to straight edge HC show, crust punk shows, black metal gigs, death metal gigs and doom gigs back then and felt very comfortable at all and never got any shit for being a long haired metalhead at a SXE HC or crust punk gig for example.
What’s your top 3 hardcore, top 3 crossover and top 3 crust punk/D-Beat records of all time?
HC – Integrity – “Those Who Fear Tomorrow”
Poison Idea -“Fear The Darkness”
Black Flag -“My War”
Amebix – “Arise”
Anti-Cimex -“Scandinavian Jawbreaker”
Wolfpack -“A New Dawn Fades”
English Dogs -“Forward Into Battle”
DRI -“Thrash Zone”
What are your most memorable experiences that have happened at one of your bands gigs?
Playing in foreign countries and opening for some bands that influenced us and that I’ve loved for years are some of the most special and memorable moments
Where would you love to do a gig that you haven’t already?
USA, Sweden and Japan.
What was the first gig you ever attended?
Megadeth at Newcastle City Hall, 1991 aged 15. My Dad took me!
What are some of the best gigs you’ve ever been to?
Solitude Aeturnus/Revelation/Dawn Of Winter – Stuttgart, Germany, May 1995
Cathedral/Crowbar – Stuttgart, Germany November 1995
Cathedral/Brutal Truth/Electric Wizard – London Marquee May 1995
Cathedral/Mourn/Electric Wizard – Bradford, Dec ’94
Spirit Caravan – Nottingham and Bradford 1999
Spirit Caravan – Nottingham and Newcastle – 2000
Entombed – Stockholm, Sweden November 2000
Entombed, Vomitory, Merciless, Driller Killer, Lord Belial @ a festival in Forshaga, Sweden August 1999
Entombed/Napalm Death – Newcastle ’93
Voivod – Newcastle ’95
Death – Bradford ’93
Napalm Death/Obituary/Dismember – Bradford May ’92.
Motörhead – Newcastle 2010 and 2011
Poison Idea – Gateshead 2015 and 2016
EYEHATEGOD – Bradford 2002
Kreator – Stuttgart, Germany 1995
Day Of Death Fest, London December 1992 featuring My Dying Bride, Anathema, Decomposed, Cradle Of Filth, Incarcerated, Solstice, Chorus Of Ruin and more.
Anathema – Bradford ’92
Drop Dead/Doom/Voorhees and more Bradford ’95
Embittered/Wartorn/Voorhees – Liverpool ’94
Anathema/Ironside – Bradford ’93
Iron Monkey/Dystopia – Nottingham August ’97
Iron Monkey/Blessed Realm -Stockton ’98
Cathedral/Mourn/Orange Goblin/Blessed Realm – Bradford ’96
Emperor/Cradle Of Filth – Bradford August ’93
Dark Angel, Overkill, Nuclear Assault @ Bloodstock 2015.
Slayer – Newcastle ’91
Megadeth – Newcastle ’92
At The Gates – Bradford ’93
At The Gates/Dissection – Newcastle Feburary ’96
Paradise Lost – Newcastle ’92
Satan – Newcastle, 2016
Blitzkrieg – Spennymoor(my home town) 2015 and x2 in 2016
Extreme Noise Terror – Bradford ’97
Morbid Angel – Newcastle ’95
Skitsystem – Bradford ’96
Asphyx – London 2015
Vomitory/Deranged – Bradford ’98
Vomitory/Deranged – Bradford ’99.
Pentagram – London 2012
St Vitus – Newcastle 2013
Are some off the top of my head!
Is there anyone you missed out on seeing that you would have loved to?
Trouble, The Obsessed, Anti-Cimex, Bolt Thrower, Wolfpack/Wolfbrigade, Winter, Celtic Frost, Amebix are some I’d love to see live.
You also work as a music journalist. Who has been the best person you have ever interviewed?
I’ve interviewed some great people but interviewing Karl Willetts (Memoriam, ex Bolt Thrower) twice in the same year for different magazines is a definete highlight, also Abaddon (Venom), Tom G Warrior, Marc Grewe (Morgoth) x2, Rob Miller (Tau Cross, ex Amebix), Gene Hoglan (Dark Angel, Death etc), Chris Reifert (Autopsy) are all standouts. Some of those interviews haven’t been printed yet but soon will be!
Waking up to an email from Tom G Warrior one day with interview answers for example definitely made my day!!!
Who would you most like to interview?
Lemmy but that isn’t gonna happen now unfortunately.
Messiah Marcolin or Leif Edling too.
What are you listening to at the moment?
So much stuff!!!
Dream Death – Dissemination
Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder
Discharge – End Of Days
Soulburn – Earthless Pagan Spirit
Heavydeath – In Circles We Die
Cauchemar – Chapelle Ardente
Minotaur Head – Minotaur Head
Serpent – Trinity
BAT – Wings of Chains
Gehennah – Too Loud To live, Too Drunk To Die
Church Of Misery – And Then There Were None
Vanhelgd – Temple Of Phobos
Sacred Steel – Heavy Metal Sacrifice
Head Of The Demon – Sathanas Trismegisto
The Temple – Forevermourn
Ursut – Köp Dig Lycklig
Age Of Woe – An Ill Wind Blowing
Halshug – Sort Sind
Ringworm – Snake Church
Asphyx – Incoming Death
Gatecreeper – Sonoran Deprevation
Spirit Adrift – Chained To Oblivion
Naevus – Heavy Burden
Diavolus – You Lived Now Die
Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign
Victims – Sirens
Paranoid – Satayagraha
Abigail The Final Damnation
Memoriam – For The Fallen
Condenados – The Tree Of Death
Extinction Of Mankind – Storm Of Resentment
What new bands can you recommend to us?
Anguish, Black Oath, Spell, Candle, Wretch, Age Of Woe, Minotaur Head, Halshug, Gatecreeper, Spirit Adrift, Paranoid, Iron Void, Live Burial, Vulture, Diabolic Night, Vornth, Black Tomb, Geist, Tomb Mold, Insulters, The Fog, Coltsblood, Horrified, Magic Circle, Fatalist, Bonehunter, Condenados, Entrapment, Bestial Raids, Death Worship, Demon Head, Sunlights Bane, The Temple, Heavydeath.
Tough question I know but if you had to choose then what would be your top five albums of all time?
Trouble – Psalm 9
Iron Maiden – Powerslave
Winter – Into Darkness
Celtic Frost – To Mega Therion
Metallica – Kill ‘Em All.
What are your plans for the rest of the year”?
Get drunk and conjure up more doom, heavy metal and death crust darkness!!!