From Up on the Sun's "Fire Marshall Beck" rant in 2007 to praise of his project Staren Black in 2010, the relationship between the New Times and local metal figure Marshall "Fucking" Beck has always been, um, "complicated."
Certain members of the New Times staff -- past and present -- think he's pompous and hotheaded or just plain full of shit. For his part, he makes no bones about it: He definitely thinks New Times is full of shit and inefficiently covers the local metal scene.
"The New Times has been, to me, like a psychotic girlfriend that I hate but still love to fuck," explains Beck.
But whether you hate him and love us or hate us and love him (or hate both him and us), the back-and-forth between Beck and the press has always been entertaining. Even when it hasn't focused on the music -- and by the way, Beck's latest release, The Final Solution: The Final Rebellion, released on March 19 by his band Reign of Vengeance, is a great slab of heavy metal. The record deserves as much attention as Beck as garnered in the 10 years he's served as a force to be reckoned with in the local metal scene, hosting and promoting numerous Valley shows, working as the lead singer in several metal bands (notably, Rebirth -- focused on the '90s groove metal sound -- and Reign of Vengeance, whose howling, in-your-face metal has been labeled everything from misogynistic to mythological).
Depending on whom you ask in the metal scene, Beck's reputation is either that of a passionate diehard or that of a cantankerous loudmouth. He's known for having vocal opinions on . . . just about everything, and he's rarely one to bite his tongue.
"The local metal scene is pathetic. It's bullshit. It's profane," Beck says. "I hope that it dies out completely. Only after complete and total death can something be reborn or reforged."
Still, with The Final Solution: The Final Rebellion, he's more content to make a musical statement that a metal-scene one. It's a concept album, rendered in a horror-oriented death metal format, inspired by his interest in the "systems and studies of the 'Illumed.'" A press release states:
"With the age of Osiris and Isis ended, the New World Age (Order) of Horus shall bring forth a world of peace that shall last throughout the remaining Aeons of time. The second form of Atlantis shall rise forth and bring with it ONLY the enlightened and illuminated individuals. However, with every revolution there is always ascension. Therefore, in order for ITS quest for world peace to be completed there must first be a massive internment and conflagration/decontamination of the flesh from those that refuse its faith. Reign of Vengeance's The Final Solution: The Final Rebellion focuses on the cause and unraveling of this conflict . . . But, do not worry common civilians; this EP is all just a work of fiction . . . Sleep well."
The album consists of just six songs with titles like "Fuck the Recession: Kill Those Who Caused It," "Amassing Towards Truth," and "The Grand Hetacomb." It comprises metal anthems that are aggressive, domineering, and hopeful all at the same time. Since the album was recorded using musicians at different locations throughout the country (including Tim Gibson, who has done guitar works for artists like Brad Paisley and Kelly Clarkson), it took longer than Beck wanted to get the album out, about a year.
"Between all of us file bouncing and idea-trading for the music, the process became very tedious," Beck says. "Next time, we will definitely all meet up in person and write/record/grind it out in a week or two."
When it comes to how people interpret the songs, Beck feels as though it's up to the listener to research and figure it out on their own.
"The answers are out there in plain sight if one is looking in the correct direction," he says. "They then can smash through and reveal the mysteries for themselves."
Despite his outrageous persona, I've met metalheads much more prima donna-ish than Beck, most of whom are also a lot less talented. Sure, he bitches a lot about the local metal scene, especially for someone who has so ardently supported it for so long, but that's the man's way. With his new album, he's been spending as much time studying "secret societies" as much as local metal message boards and Facebook event pages, and he's just as just as willing to criticize his own work as he is that of others.
"Within the past year, I have been invited to look upon the inner workings of certain circles, the beliefs of these circles, their goals, as well as their religion," Beck says. "Although musically, this album took a great deal of effort and time, almost a year for six songs, lyrically I would say it is my most uncreative piece of work yet. I have been instructed as to what I could and could not write about and what the penalties for writing about certain topics would be if I put them out into mass distribution. This is why the 'elitist box sets' [expanded versions of the album which can only be purchased directly from the band members] are more or less a private collection that are much more detailed than are the regular mass distributed product."
Of course, it's one thing to write about the occult and mythology, and another to allude to super-secret societies, forbidden literature, and how everything we've ever been taught in school has been bullshit. Beck is cagey about his beliefs and what constitutes the "fiction" of his work and what he actually believes. At least I got him to classify his own music a little bit.
"I make metal and do not constrict myself to the narrow and small-minded thinking of sub-genres," Beck says. "If a song needs a certain type of riffing, screaming, singing, growling, or instrumental performance, then the song gets that. To put a limit on oneself musically or even in life is pathetic, weak and small."
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As for all this secret society stuff? Certainly, Beck's believes regarding that will only further his "complicated" role in the Phoenix metal community, right?
"As far as the literature and 'The Guy': I cannot talk about that kind of information at this time," Beck says. "For the record, we never had that conversation."