Sanctus Bellum: Nothing Certain But Metal And Taxes
What fuels heavy metal music? Some might say the Armageddon that is flirting with our world; others, watching the machinations of craven political and religious leaders. We, however, can testify that some of the best music comes from artists suffering for much more personal reasons.
Photos courtesy of Sanctus Bellum Sanctus Bellum at Denton's 35 Conferette in March
Ben Yaker, the leader of Houston's Sanctus Bellum, an exciting new metal band that played Denton's 35 Conferette this spring and hits Rudyard's Friday, wrote some of the darkest riffs to "Shoggoth's Ascent," the gripping opener of their debut CD, in the midst of studying for the bar exam.
He passed it, by the way, on the first try, showing that some demons were exorcised (or maybe compactly piped into the music).
Onstage, the band runs like clockwork, just like the IRS. But there's more than just precision: There's a camaraderie they came by honestly. The members of Sanctus Bellum are friends, and save one, coworkers at a day job. At a tax firm.
Guitarists Jan Kimmel and Maruice Eggenschwiler also work at the firm, in sales, and are joined at the hip onstage. Their riffs dovetail seamlessly, elevating the music to new heights. Maybe the daytime connection aids the nighttime, when the amps are cranked up?
"There's nothing more metal than a tax lawyer," laughs Justin Waggoner, the band's vocalist and the sole non-tax-firm worker.
That really could be the catchphrase for the band. Rocks Off met them one evening after practice at Waggoner's place, over a shot of Old Smuggler's scotch, soon after they had returned from Denton. Having that swill apparently is their après-practice ritual ("There's nothing more metal than shitty scotch," Waggoner cracks), but their practice pad is elegantly appointed thanks to Julie Waggoner who, if she isn't in interior design, ought to be.
She's given credit in the liner notes of their CD, whose cover art is by the infamous Santos. Waggoner, also lead singer for stoner-rock band Mr. Plow, snagged permission to use Kurt Vonnegut's artwork on one of their CDs.
"And then...he died," Waggoner jokes, living up to the first syllable of his last name.
Waggoner himself is a lawyer, and has done appellate work, which lends itself to yet another axiom: There's nothing more metal than an appellate lawyer?