MedioXcore: Allowing Your Interests To Be Your Inspiration

I Climbed Into A Big Van Full Of Stuff And Headed To Vermont With Black Metal Band Hæthen Earlier This Month And Got To See Firsthand What They’re Passionate About.


As stated above, I kicked off the month of May in a van full of gear on a nine-hour drive to beautiful Vermont with Southern NJ/Philly area black metal band Hæthen. Not a terrible way to start, am I right?

They were to play graduation weekend at Sterling College—their drummer Richard being alumni—which was a strange fit, admitted by all, but they were welcomed nonetheless. While he reconnected with friends and professors he hadn’t seen in a while, guitarist/vocalist John and guitarist Adam spoke about sleeping in the lean-tos in one of the campus’ fields and hiking through the woods the next day. Me, I took it all in. I was just along for the ride. It was a new place for me, and I tried to get to know and understand it as best I could—though there’s a lot in them there woods.

When people who don’t really know anything about the genre hear “black metal” they often think of terrifying dudes screaming about death and dying and human sacrifice and whatnot. And while sometimes, yes, that is definitely the case, that is not what this band is about.

I’m still an outsider to this scene and probably in some respects to this band, as well. They’ve been playing together “for like…10 years” and they have their own moral code and way of living and creating, from what I understand so far. They are calculated in the ways they operate, and smart in the ways they write and play. Heavy in all the right ways, but with something very rooted yet very delicate lying underneath. I spent four nights and three days with them and I still don’t know how to accurately describe it. I’m trying my best.

Those familiar with the genre know immediately within the first few notes that these guys know their shit. Thick and haunting, with lyrics about…nature? Yep. Very well worded songs that feature a stunning vocabulary and writing process about being super-consciously in tune with the earth. And if you think that’s lame, you can crank it up to maximum volume and just let your idiot ears bleed about it.

Because you can’t write raw and honest if you’re not writing about what you know, what you’re above-all-passionate about. This is true of every subject of every song of every music genre ever. The songs that matter, and then still matter decades later, are the ones written by people who felt them in their stomachs, hearts, and at the backs of their teeth on nights when they didn’t know if the sentiment could ever actually survive outside of their heads.

Feel free to quote me on that.

These guys thrive in the wilderness. Sleeping on forest floors, identifying birds from yards away with binoculars, finding wildflowers amidst fallen branches and dead leaves. I’m learning a lot. We even climbed down a fucking mountain to get to a bonfire. (See also: I climbed down a fucking mountain in ’90s heeled combat boots and didn’t die trying to get to a bonfire.)

It was a celebration at Sterling that weekend. On a previous trip, they began realizing the concept for an album that was worked on intensely and is to be released this summer. I’ve been privileged with some of their original notes from that trip, and I’m just going to paste them verbatim so that you can understand what I mean, when I ramble about passion and verbiage and the importance of intimately knowing your subject matter.

“So images and vast shapes of insurmountable fortitude invade a once lost mind. And to recreate the wonder of monolithic crescent peaks basking in the sun-born first rays, the task will be immense. As all great feats and displays of human achievement can only be measured by the sum of the struggle and the desire to overcome, this forthcoming creation of Hæthen will be a testament of will, demonstrating the spiritual journey one experiences while walking through roaring forests of desolation; beneath growth that remains unsurpassed. And it is upon this sacred soil that one feels the will embodied within the infinitude of all infinities—all is possible when one sees possibility as a reflection of the source.”

That’s some pretty deep, soulful shit—and that’s how it should be. If more people weren’t afraid to let their real selves come through in their music, we’d all be muttering, “They have no idea what they’re fucking talking about” under our breath to our radios a lot less.

You like crystals? Awesome. Tell me all about how amethyst keeps nightmares away and how quartz stores energy. I wanna know. You like giraffes? Write a concept album from the point of view of a giraffe bred into captivity who knows nothing but the zoo he was born in, and what he speculates is beyond those gates. Make it soul-crushingly sad. Win a Grammy with it.

Because I promise you, being honest with yourself and your work pays off. When I interviewed Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen a few years ago, he said, “I have never once lied in a song.” They haven’t been a band for 30+ years for no friggin’ reason. I’m just saying. You don’t have to believe me. (You don’t have to be successful, either.)

Bottom line is, if you’re a hardworking individual in a band with other hardworking individuals who care about the work they produce and representing themselves accurately within it, you need to play to your strengths. And your strengths, friends, are the things you care most about in life.

Hæthen agonized over this upcoming record, and it’s something they can be proud of. It was done on their own terms, and it showcases all of their unique talents.

“Atop a precipice of mica schist in the Green Mountains of Vermont, we sat and conversed over ideas for an upcoming record. It was less than 50 miles (as the crow flies) to the still snow covered peak of Mt. Washington, a summit to which our gaze was fixed, through an uninhibited view across eastern Vermont into New Hampshire. A broad winged hawk could easily travel from our perch to the snow summit in less than a day’s travel, but for us, it would involve a retreat into the valley and the crossing of many miles before an eventual climb to the apex. Ideas of metaphorical hills and valleys would take musical shape in the following years.”—More from their personal notes.

The culmination of everything is an album that was eventually recorded in a funeral home in south Philadelphia that truly encompasses and radiates all that they’re about. And after nearly a year of recording, mixing, and mastering, it’s finally ready to be released this summer on Fallen Empire Records, a label from NJ that specializes in black metal and has a following that crosses oceans to places I can’t even pronounce. A tour will follow in autumn and I hope I’ll be able to report on that as well.

It’s important that you understand how capable you are; it’s not easy to achieve, but it shouldn’t be. It’s doable. The tools are already within you. Use ‘em, ya dummy.

As always, I am forever searching for input, advice, and questions. Feel free to get in touch with me here: