When seven-string guitarist Álvaro Domene and alto saxophonist Álvaro Pérez met in Madrid, Spain in 2011, not only was the same level of passion and hunger for real, creative, and exploratory high-level collaborative music immediately evident, says Domene, having the same name, rather than being confusing, to us was kind of a strange cosmic coincidence because its not that common of a name.
When watching the trio on YouTube, the players really advertise their influences: leader/saxophonist Anton Ponomarev has the shaggy tresses of a seventies European free-jazzer; electric bassist Konstantin Korolev, tall, bald, and bearded, screams extreme metal; and drummer Andrey Kim, lanky and shirtless, recalls the glory days of eightiesnineties NYC hardcore.
Castrator is an all-woman death metal band founded in 2013 by bassist Robin Mazen and drummer Carolina Perez. The bands most recent album is the long-awaited full-length slab Defiled in Oblivion (Dark Descent Records), coming seven years after its No Victim debut EP. With a new lineup featuring guitarist Kimberly Orellana and vocalist Clarissa Badini, Defiled in Oblivion uses classic death metal brutality to explore injustices against women, historical atrocities, and other dark veins and includes a cover of Venoms "Countess Bathory." The Brooklyn Rail caught up with Mazen and Perez after they disembarked from the 70000 Tons of Metal floating festival.
Adding to the chiarascuro is that Johnston doesn't record under her own name but as various project monikers. The most recent is Midwife, while Sister Grotto was her "past, ambient-based project that lived from around 2013-2016." As with many artists, various external labels apply, yet fall short. Minimalism, shoegaze, even the dreaded singer-songwriter are there, but Johnston prefers her own term: heaven metal. "I think my project lives in a lot of different genre-spaces and can exist alongside almost any kind of music," she says. "I describe Midwife as heaven metal because it seemed fitting when other genre descriptions couldnt contain it...its ethereal and emotional yet its often about dark subject matter. I made up the genre to try to describe this cathartic interplay between worlds, angelic and devastating."