With bands like Liturgy and Wolves in the Throne Room nabbing headlines and igniting heated debates about authenticity, black metal is all the rage. It's also a conflicting period for James Brown III, the 39-year-old guitarist of savage, crusty L.A. black metal trio Harassor, who play at B.I.P. tonight.
"Part of the appeal for me has always kind of been the outsider status, the feeling that there was this secret world that I was a part of. That made it kind of special," Brown says. "Now it feels kind of like the secret's getting out."
Word is also starting to spread about Brown, a 20-year veteran of the scene. Last year Harassor released their self-titled debut on vinyl (Jason Roche named it the fifth best local metal album of the year) and Dais Records reissued a couple '90s demos Brown made under the name Lord Foul.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Brown first got into metal with the big four trash acts in the late '80s and formed a death metal band called Son of Dog. Tape trading sparked his interest in the burgeoning international black metal scene and led him to Von's Satanic Blood. "It really blew my mind and really kind of opened up new possibilities for that kind of music," he says.
In 1993 Brown rented a four-track for Lord Foul's first demo of harsh, messy black metal, Killing, Raping, Burning, which he recorded in his parent's house and self-released on cassette. In '94 he made The Devil's Advocate at an eight-track in a basement studio, but he didn't release it because his life took an unexpected turn. Son of Dog broke up, he dropped out of the University of Louisville, abandoned the metal scene and left for Alaska.
"I was getting into the rave culture," Brown says. "I started taking psychedelic stuff, and Alaska was kind of this vision quest."