Allow me to introduce you to Josh Mason, a metal guitarist from Rochester, NY. He’s a very passionate and eclectic musician, a huge benefactor to multiple local music scenes, and a model metal citizen to boot. If you’re an avid metal show-goer in Western New York, you’ve probably seen him shredding and windmilling on stage with folk metal sensations, Throne of Wilderness, industrial metal cyber warriors, Soul Reactor, or symphonic black metallers from Middle Earth, Nazgul! But if for some reason, you’ve managed to miss all three of these acts on your metal radar, I’m fairly certain that at the very least, you’ve seen Mr. Mason’s handy work floating around your local venues in the form of band merchandise. In addition to perpetuating WNY’s pool of talented metal acts, he also offers cheap high quality screen prints to his fellow musicians, allowing his steely-eyed comrades to flood their fans with patches and shirts without paying an arm and a leg. Long story short, Josh is quite an asset to have, because let’s face it- As underground metal musicians, we’re all broke, we’re all hungry for shows, merch and fans, and we’re all guilty of paying out of pocket to make our bands work, making every day we work in our scene a labor of love and not profit.
But enough about the local scene struggle. Right now, my goal is to focus on Josh’s own personal labor of love, Rochester, NY’s Nazgul (symphonic black metal straight from the Black Speech of Tolkien’s fantastical creatures of darkness). I caught up with him recently to do an interview about the band. Here it is:
Mike Marlinski: For those who aren’t caught up on their Tolkien, where does your name come from?
Josh Mason: Nazgûl comes from JRR Tolkien’s book series, The Lord of the Rings. They are the 9 kings of ancient times who fell and became servants of the Dark Lord. Now they hunt the hobbits to return the one ring to their master Sauron. Nazgûl directly translates to “Ring Wraith” from one of Tolkien’s languages known as “Black Speech”, which itself was an evil corruption of the language of the elves in his fictional universe.
Mike Marlinski: How would you describe your music to new listeners?
Josh Mason: Our roots lie firmly in symphonic black metal. We try to push the limits of this groundwork by combining elements from some of our favorite bands (like Arcturus, Wintersun, etc.) as well as the varying writing styles of our members.
MM: Are there any common lyrical themes?
JM: Themes vary based on what story we are trying to tell. Some about gruesome death, human sacrifice, along with Lord of the Rings and other works of art we’ve been inspired by. We try not to limit our subject matter, but many have themes of otherworldly horror, space exploration, science fiction, human fallibility and tendency to commit evil, and, of course, epic fantasy.
MM: Does the band have an overall message?
JM: The nine are coming…
MM: Who are your musical influences?
JM: We very much enjoy avant-garde bands as well as more symphonic and technical elements found in acts such as Arcturus, Unexpect, Wintersun, Mirrorthrone, and many more.
MM: Do all of you have one or more musical influence in common?
JM: Yes, though we are each interested in a variety of bands and genres, and there are a handful we like in common, we all tend to listen to dark sounding black metal, folk music, and, of course, avant-garde and experimental music.
MM: What can we expect from the next record?
JM: This next album is actually taking Nazgûl to another realm. We have always had a dark black metal feel to our music with epic orchestral background. But this next one is taking that to the next level. Completely experimental, chaotic, and just down right different from what we have had in the past. We are very excited for it!
MM: Can you recall the first song or band that got you into metal?
JM: Crazy Train. That was the first metal song that caught my attention. Then I heard Randy Rhoads do an extended solo for the song “Suicide Solution” on a live album. It was that moment that I decided to play guitar. Then my parents got me Master of Puppets for Christmas, and it escalated from there.
So, there you have it! Are you sold yet? Would you like a live Nazgul experience? Well, it just so happens that Josh is putting on a little event in Rochester called “WraithFest”. It’s happening at Monty’s Crown on June 6. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/458118584338708/
Also, take a listen to Nazgul’s newest album, Absolute Zero and expect a review from us soon!
Here are some contact links to get you started with your Nazgul experience!
Well, that’s all I have for now. I need to return to Mordor before Sauron starts to miss my spectacular company! Cheers, mates!
– Mike Marlinski