Though he first appeared on the underground music map via his bass work for Florida grind greats Assück, Pete Jay moved to the West Coast back in the mid-'90s determined to start a new band. Pete would go on to form blackQueen, but it wasn't that easy at first, according to the guitarist/vocalist. "I was mostly going to garage punk shows, and I didn't know alot of people so I asked many questions about where the metal was."
Once Pete began to connect with people in the San Francisco underground music scene, he immersed himself within it all. "I used to go see live music at least 3 times a week," he says. "In 1997 or so, John Cobbett and Aesop Dekker—who later founded Ludicra—informed me that they were putting on a weekly metal night at the Covered Wagon Saloon called Lucifer's Hammer. Of course, I was overjoyed and was there every Tuesday to see metal bands of all kinds and hear metal DJing. It became a real thing very quickly, lots of great music was heard and many lasting friendships were born there. Many of the bands that i would see all the time there later became very prominent forces in heavy music, bands like Asunder, Weakling, Impaled, Exhumed, Lost Goat, Slough Feg, Hammers of Misfortune, the list goes on and on. blackQueen's first show was also Ludicra's first show."
Formed in 1998, blackQueen is based out of Seattle these days, and the group is gearing up for the release of their fourth studio album, The Destructive Cycle. No Echo is psyched to bring you the premiere of “Calefactorum Occulta," a track from the record that also features former Assück vocalist Paul Pavlovich:
"'Calefactorum Occulta' represents the element of fire, and in direct translation means 'the hidden heat' or 'hidden fire,'" Pete says about the track. "In alchemy, heat is a reference to focused mental power. You must generate heat to channel your focused energy somewhere in it's most powerful form, thereby maximizing your potential. The hidden part refers to how it is not immediately an apparent thing and therefore can be passed off by those of ignorance and poor faith as being something without substance. Esoteric practices were often kept hidden so that only people with the proper mental and emotional character would be able to use, inherit and appreciate them.
"The song is pretty much all about how this heat can transmute darkness into light, and how these practices have evolved throughout history, and not just for humanity, but on a cosmic scale. As for why Paul sang on specific songs, there wasn't really a reason other than those tracks needed something powerful outside our realm. Same reason why Wrest [Lurker of Chalice, Leviathan] sings on the final track, it's just felt like those songs needed a broader element and quintessence that they ended up providing."
With blackQueen, there’s always been a very strong visual component to everything the band does—whether that’s record art or the short film they made back in 2013. I ask Pete to tell me a bit about that and what the group did this time around with The Destructive Cycle. "Well, blackQueen conceptually was always a visual journey. I was really inspired by Dario Argento's Suspiria, a good example. There you have lots of stunning colors, amazing soundtrack that inspires something terrible and unknown, and always keeps you on the edge. That was what I wanted to do, create heavy music that reflected these elements, to create an atmosphere of excitement and chaos, but also to keep it really fun, as if every day was Halloween, which of course for me it is.
"With The Destructive Cycle, we are calling up the Taoist 5 elemental cycle of destruction, which in turn leads to creation. Each element has a corresponding organ in the human body, and also a technique in martial arts, and planet in the cosmos. It transcends everything. I chose this concept for this album, where each song represents an element placed in the proper order of the cycle, and that is reflected in the lyrical content, because I feel that human beings are destroying more than they ever have, and this will ultimately lead to their destruction. And destruction will then give birth to creation, even if it has nothing to do with humanity and it's reckless egotism. This album is heavily inspired by the knowledge I've gained from the 10 years I've put into studying Taoist martial arts, specifically the sword, visiting sacred sites in the Wudang Mountains of China, and my time as a student of modern hermetic alchemy.
We contracted Jef Whitehead to paint the cover of the album [seen above], which I helped with the art direction, because we felt that he is artistically in line with creating things that are unconventional, yet deeply esoteric. We couldn't be happier with how this album has come out both visually and conceptually."
The Destructive Cycle will see CD and digital release on Nov. 22nd, with the vinyl to see release in January. Find pre-orders for all formats on Bandcamp.