Interview with Sergei Pismeny (Evil’s Best Writer)

MER: Hello Sergei, thank you for your time on taking this interview for Metal Express Radio, as a representative of the Israeli Metal scene. How are you these days?

Sergei: Hi! Thank YOU for interviewing me, it’s an honor for me to have this interview!
I’m fine, thanks! Currently I’m busy studying and working on the next issue of my printed fanzine “Evil’s Best#3 – The Third of the Storms” and listening to tons of new killer albums I recently got from some cool bands and labels. And most important – growing my hair!

MER: As a representative of the Israeli local Metal scene, do you think this scene is thriving? Has it begun reaching the European or American statuses / standards regarding bands, gigs and label signings?

Sergei: Let’s not forget that Israel is not as big as the USA or any big European country, where Metal is much bigger, but anyway – it’s not thriving. There are just a few local bands here that are signed with foreign labels, there are only 3 local Metal labels that hardly have any local bands signed (Raven Music – Arallu, Total Rust – local “The Knell” + foreign Doom-oriented bands, Absolute Hell – absolutely new label (from Hell!) with just 1 album in the releases catalog so far), the majority of bands exist just until their members begin their military service and most of them don’t even release a single demo before breaking up.
When it comes to gigs though, I think that the situation is pretty good, since usually you can see a couple of hundreds of people who come to support local bands and sometimes even close to 1,000 people who come to see the biggest local acts, such as Salem and Orphaned Land! Many famous foreign bands have to perform many times in front of much smaller crowds in Europe and the US!

MER: The first thing that the foreign artists and Metalheads mention to me is that the Israeli scene is very extreme. Black / Death / Core Metal are the ruling sub-genres while backing out the ancient Metal subgenres of Heavy / Glam / Power and Thrash. Why does this phenomenon occur in Israel? Do you think the Israeli Metal fan is close minded?

Sergei: I think that it’s simply because the Israeli Metal scene has no “roots” of its own, which means that there was never any process of Metal subgenres’ gradual development here. While other countries have their traditional Heavy Metal bands from the 80’s, old Speed/Thrash bands and the likes, the first local Metal band that started to play original stuff was Salem, which used to play some of the most extreme music EVER (not only for that time!) since it was formed in 1985! As sad as it gets – the only Israeli Heavy Metal band that actually released a full length album is Stella Marris, while the debut local Thrash and Power Metal full length albums are yet to be released! It’s a mystery for me, to tell you the truth! Everyday life in a country like Israel is the ultimate inspiration for writing awesome Thrash Metal in my opinion! Terror, religion, hypocrite politicians – it’s all here FOR REAL!
I don’t think that it’s a matter of how close minded or open minded an Israeli Metal fan is, but just a matter of how bad his taste in music is 😉

MER: Do you think that this phenomenon is driving off more Traditional Metal acts from abroad and thus extending the clutches of the extreme Metal scene that inspires more extreme foreign acts to visit Israel?

Sergei: Most probably yes, but it’s not only because of the Traditional Metal band’s decisions, but also because of what the local promoters decide to do. In a recent interview with Bruce Dickinson, who comes here once a few weeks as a pilot, he said that Iron Maiden doesn’t come to perform here just because there were not enough people who came to their gigs when they came here in 1996. And since there’s a big demand for extreme Metal here, of course it makes more sense to arrange some extreme band’s performances here in Israel. But let’s not neglect the fact that many bands refuse to come here just because they’re afraid of getting killed in an act of terror, no matter how METAL and tough-looking they are. It’s also very complicated, expensive and risky (from the financial point of view) to bring such a big band as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest here with all their equipment, so it’s clear why the local promoters prefer the “safer” option of bringing one or another non-Traditional Metal bands to perform here.
And since those who come here usually enjoy playing in front of the local crowd – it makes even more sense to bring them back again and again. Considering the fact that the majority of the local Metal crowd consists of teenagers who come and go – it doesn’t even seem too repetitive and boring for them to see the same bands coming to perform here once a few years, since most of them stop listening to this music in between these shows.

MER: Do you think there is a way to balance between the sub-genres of Metal in Israel in order to make the scene more accessible to new / old Metalheads? Will it make it bigger than ever? If there is a way, what are the steps to do it?

Sergei: You may call me a pessimist if you want, but the correct word is “realist”, and that’s why I think that it would be naive to expect for the balance you’re asking about to occur. Stella Maris is not the only local Heavy Metal band that released full length albums, but also the only one of its kind that exists for two decades already, while Thrash bands usually come and go without even releasing a demo and the majority of local Heavy Metal bands are just those who form in order to play Iron Maiden covers, just as it probably used to be more than 25 years ago… There will be a change if many bands here start to play traditional stuff, but it doesn’t seem that it’s going to happen in the near future, unfortunately…

MER: With your experience, are there chances for an Israeli Metal group to succeed in its local scene or should they try their best to get out of there and try their luck abroad?

Sergei: Well, personally I’ve never played in a band that either succeeded much while staying in Israel or thanks for leaving this country, but I think that there are two local bands that proved that it doesn’t matter WHERE YOU ARE FROM, but WHAT MUSIC YOU PLAY. On the one hand – Melechesh left the country and now have a contract with Nuclear Blast, after having released 3 successful albums through Osmose (similarly to Immortal!), while on the second hand – Orphaned Land are very big and well known worldwide as well, despite the fact that they still live in Israel and probably always will! Another interesting example is Tangorodrim, who are hardly known to anyone in Israel, despite having released 4 albums during 12 years of (desecrating the) existence, the last 2 of which were released through no less than the American “Southern Lord” label. And they have never even played a single live performance! So it’s all in the attitude and not necessarily in the location in my opinion…

MER: The magazine “Evil’s Best” is your own enterprise. Is it like any other magazine we know like Metal Hammer, Terrorizer and others or does it offer more to the Israeli Metal fan? Do you think that It will make a change?

Sergei: Yeah, it’s written and released by me and it’s an absolutely independent mag! I have little in common with big mags like Metal Hammer or Terrorizer, but rather maybe the cult Norwegian “Slayer” mag! The difference is pretty obvious, since Evil’s Best is not written for making profit, it’s black/white and not colored, the paper is not glossy and most of the bands are far from being nearly as famous as the ones you can read about in bigger magazines.
My aim is not to write more reviews about albums that get released by very famous bands, that get reviewed by countless bigger print and e-zines, but to support the less famous, but not less talented, underground acts. It’s not that I do it for the sake of writing about the underground intentionally, it’s just because I think that the difference between a famous and an infamous band doesn’t have to be a question of who plays better music, but who has a contract with a major label. And while the once great Heavy/Thrash/Death Metal bands usually play stuff that sounds like utter crap to my ears nowadays, I prefer to stick to their old classics and listen to new bands that sound nearly as great as the 80’s-early 90’s once great bands.
I’m not trying to compete with any other mag but just to put my personal tastes and opinions on paper. I’m not trying to satisfy any local or foreign reader’s needs, so if anyone decides that he doesn’t need a copy of “Evil’s Best” – that’s totally fine with me! But so far – both the local bangers who have never held a D.I.Y. underground Metal fanzine in their hands before purchasing a copy of “Evil’s Best” and the +/-40 year old Metal Maniacs who discovered bands like Kreator and Possessed through such fanzines in the past, told me that they like it a lot and already wait for the next issue and that’s what really matters to me! I’m also really glad that some readers told me that my reviews led them to reconsider their will to check out one or another band that they didn’t think was worth checking out, but they were really glad to discover that those bands actually rule!
I am trying to make it as varied as possible, so you can find both debut interviews of very young bands and an old (never published before) interview with Ancient Rites from 2001, not talking about the ex-Immortal bass player, Iscariah’s current project “Dead To This World”, or the ex-NECROVORE’s 6 string desecrator’s new band “Hod”! I’m also writing about local bands, as long as I like their music and attitude. There aren’t many of them and I’m very selective when it comes to a band asking me to write about them. There’s also some “variety” in the content when it comes to genres (from traditional Heavy Metal to Tank-like devastating Old-School Metal of Death, through aggressive Old-School Thrash and relentless Black/Thrash), but it’s just because I’m obsessed by all these genres and not for the sake of making it look more varied for the so-called “open minded” ones.
Time will tell whether it’s going to change anything or not, but even if it doesn’t – I can say that I made my (Evil’s) best in order to expose those who do give a damn about what I call TRUE METAL to many great bands!

MER: What are your plans for the future for “Evil’s Best”? Do you think about making it much larger than today?

Sergei: My plans are just to keep writing about bands and albums that I like. Nothing more, nothing less! The zine is distributed worldwide and can be ordered through great, supportive underground Metal labels like HELL’S HEADBANGERS, NUCLEAR WAR NOW! PRODS. and PLANET METAL in the USA, LEGION OF DEATH Records in France, WITCHHAMMER in Thailand, KURAVILU in Chile and soon to be available through some Germaniac labels as well. I’m really satisfied with the fact that many Headbangers worldwide can order their copies without paying a fortune for the shipping, so I can say that the bigger part of my goals concerning the zine is already achieved. If there will be a bigger demand for it – I don’t mind making bigger print runs, since I want the information featured in the zine to be available to any Metal worshipper who wishes to read it. Making it strictly limited and later sold out and hard to find is not my goal, I’m not releasing it for the sake of “having released a KVLT zine”!
BUT content-wise – I’m not going to change it. I’ll never write about bands I dislike and disrespect just for the sake of turning my hobby into a soulless business! As for the design – it will always remain black/white, I will always use cover artworks drawn by the mighty Milovan Novakovic from Montenegro, and as long as I’m alive enough to bang my head to either Iron Maiden or Necrovore – it’s gonna stay 666% METAL TO THE PAPERCLIP! Well, maybe I will use paperclips made of STEEL for the upcoming issues, but that’s the only possible change 😉

MER: Now for some personal info. Who is Sergei Pismeny? How long have you been connected to Metal? What subgenres are the ones ruling your CD collection? Are you a part of a local Metal band?

Sergei: I’m the black vomit of Hell! Hahaha!!! Now, seriously, I am a 22 year old Headbanger, originally born in the Ukraine. Since the age of 4-5 I got into old Soviet Rock bands and at the age of 15 I sold my soul to Heavy fuckin’ Metal with balls! So I’m into Metal for 7.5 years, though sometimes I have a feeling that this music has been following me since day one 😉 I finished the army half a year ago and now I’m starting to study, so hopefully in the future I’ll also be an electric-engineer…
CD’s? They don’t rule my vinyl collection, which is my favorite format, but as long as I can get one or another release for a reasonable price only on CD or tape – I’m not the retard collectionner(d) who will avoid getting an opportunity to have a good album only because of any sort of degenerate anti-this or that format ideology!
When it comes to genres – I can’t say what I have less and what more, but my collection consists of classic Heavy Metal bands, such as my favorite ever… Iron Maiden/Manowar/Judas Priest/Saxon stuff, Germaniac & South American bestial Thrash like Kreator (R.I.P. 1985-1990, All hail PLEASURE TO KILL!!!), early Sepultura & Sarcofago, Blackened Thrash like Gehennah & Nocturnal Breed, forefathers of Black Metal like Venom (!), EARLY Sodom and HELLHAMMER (!!!), and skull-splitting ancient Death Metal, such as Death’s first 2 albums, Van-Drunen-era Pestilence and of corpse the decrepit Swedish Armageddon-like Death Metal in the vein of Entombed’s debut!!! When it comes to tapes – those are usually demos of nowaday bands that play in the same vein as the bands that I mentioned before… Sorry for mentioning all these albums, I always get excited when it comes to talking about albums/demos/EP’s I like, Hahaha!
Apart from a retarded joke “ultra-brutal copro/death/gore/grind” project COPROPHAGIA that’s existed since 2003, I have some musical project that I’m working on right now, where I’m trying to play bass (it would be an exaggeration to say that I PLAY it, haha!) and spit some words of blasphemy, but it’s way too early to announce anything about it. When the time is right, this piece of Venom, Hellhammer and the likes worship project with a G.G. Allin’s attitude will be published, but I can’t say when it’s going to happen yet.

MER: Where do you think Metal is heading today? Will it succeed again like in its glory days of the 1980s? What particular sub-genre do you think is the most dominant in comparison to the others?

Sergei: I think that Metal today is better than it was in the crappy 90’s, since there are many EXCELLENT bands in the underground nowadays, but even though Thrash is big again. I find it really sad that the bands that get contracts with big labels like Nuclear Blast and Metal Blade are usually boring and mediocre, while the better bands don’t get what they deserve. It’s not that the bands who got less recognition in the 80’s were necessarily worse than the famous bands, but they were still more famous and really good bands than now in the 80’s in my opinion. But with all the so-called “progress” that means a dumb mixture of genres, there’s nothing left in common between what the modern so-called “Metal” bands play and what METAL is.
When it comes to the countless useless reunions, I don’t think the fact that many once great bands reunite in order to play their old music and make some easy cash (despite not being in that mood for many years) has much to do with turning Metal as great and as famous as in the glorious 80’s…
Most dominant METAL subgenre? I’m not really aware of what’s in season nowadays and I don’t care about it at all, but I guess it’s the same useless melodic black and death pseudo-metal and retarded I-have-no-idea-what-the-Hell-it-is-core. Trends change, that’s why nu-“metal” is not as big today as it used to be a few years ago for example.

MER: What is your most important message to the Metal world?

Sergei: It’s really hard to decide between “UP THE IRONS!” and “Only Death is Real…”, but since I already mentioned both – I’ll just say “LONG LIVE THE LOUD!” and that it’s no one else besides us, METALHEADS, who keep Metal alive, so keep supporting True Metal no matter what! Keep buying records/tapes/CD’s/merch and bang your heads until you’re dead to real music (not mp3, unless the original is mega-rare!). Oh, and last but not least – don’t do drugs (leave them to posers…)!

MER: Sergei , thanks a lot for taking this interview with Metal Express Radio, I wish you the best of luck with Evil’s Best and the promotion of local and foreign bands in Israel.

Sergei: Thanks A LOT again, Lior! It was a real pleasure to get the opportunity to express my Metalized thoughts here! Stay Metal, never surrender!


  • Lior Stein

    Lior was a reviewer, DJ and host for our Thrash Metal segment called Terror Zone, based out of Haifa, Israel. He attributes his love of Metal to his father, who got him into bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, Boston, and Queen. When he was in junior high he got his first Iron Maiden CD, The Number Of The Beast. That's how he started his own collection of albums. Also, he's the guitarist, vocalist and founder of the Thrash Metal band Switchblade. Most of his musical influences come from Metal Church, Vicious Rumors, Overkill, and Annihilator.

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