On Friday, June 10, come out to The Urban Lounge to give your aural senses a swift thrashing on all accounts. Prep your ears for the blackened atmospherics of Moon of Delirium and the rolling, uncontainable stomp of IX Zealot. The auditory assault launches at 10 p.m. with Beyond This Flesh, and $5 gets you in on the action.

IX Zealot
Dustin Black – Guitar/Vocals
Gavin Hoffman – Drums
Jeff Franson – Bass

“It’s officially pronounced ‘Ninth Zealot,’” says drummer Gavin Hoffman, referring to IX Zealot’s quasi-cryptic, numeral-ridden name, “but we’ve heard everything from ‘Icks Zealot’ to ‘Night Salad.’” While this simple misinterpretation may seem like a silly blunder, one can read it as a global metaphor for the band’s entire outlook. Where many artists will tirelessly tear their guts out (sometimes literally) in an attempt to be understood, IX Zealot couldn’t care less if you “get it” or not.

“I think art is sort of a selfish medium as far as expression,” says singer and guitarist Dustin Black. “We don’t play this type of music to garner an audience. We do it because we want to.”

Like an avalanche, IX Zealot had a slow beginning. The band existed conceptually for almost three years before officially forming in 2009 and was initially conceived as a five piece. However, after establishing a rudimentary foundation as a trio and several failed attempts to recruit new members, Black gave in to frustration and opted not to fix what wasn’t broken. The band has remained a trio, and the arrangement has worked well.
Crafting an ominous breed of sprawling noise that draws equally from both black and doom metal camps, IX Zealot produces a sound that can appeal to heavy music fans all across the board. Still, they’re hesitant to classify themselves into any one genre and they tend to operate outside of conventions.

“Genres are fucking stupid,” says Hoffman, an omnivorous type who’s drummed in various musical projects running the gamut from punk to metal and even jazz.

It’s the freedom, lack of inhibitions and versatility that have allowed IX Zealot to progress. Like an open wound left to fester, untended and uncontained, its presence slowly spreads, gaining new life and an infectious strength with each passing moment. All completely self-taught musicians, they’re perfectly content to labor over a single song for weeks at a time, allowing it to develop and evolve at its own pace.

Admittedly, the band is slow to write music, but it’s not for lack of drive or inspiration. A “touchy feely” songwriter with a background in hardcore, Black says that most songs begin as simple guitar riffs that simply “feel right.”

“If we wrote a song for every single riff that Dustin wrote, we’d have enough material for three full-length records,” says Hoffman. Instead, the trio chooses to follow each riff and let it take on a life of its own. Many will mutate into full-blown songs, but others will die out. It’s an organic process that requires them to delve into their music, pulling things out from beneath the surface. It’s a process of discovery, but it’s not pretentious tinkering or virtuosic masturbation. It’s a desire to work their songs into oblivion, to distend them to their absolute capacity and coax the right feeling from them.

“People tell us we have a very ‘nontraditional’ writing structure,” Black says. “I guess I’ll accept that, but I don’t really think about ‘structure’ or anything when I’m writing.”

Unconventionality notwithstanding, they are working toward a legitimate vinyl release, but it’s in the distant future and has no specific release date. Things generally work best for them in a no-pressure environment, and obligations like deadlines and show promoters only stifle the flow. They’ve become decidedly selective in how often they’ll play out. “I’ve been in bands where we would just take any show we were offered,” says Hoffman, shaking his head. “I don’t want to do that anymore.”

Still, they know their massive sound translates well in a live environment and have played a fistful of local shows, including a gig with Singaporean grindcore band Wormrot at Raunch Records last March. It’s a venue the band enjoys for its small size, diverse crowds and the sheer novelty of playing deafening music in an operational record store.

With no obligations and a wealth of synergistic spirit, the prospects are wide open and the mission is simple: to make music that is powerful, fully formed and to their own liking. “We’re not here to entertain people,” says Hoffman. “We make music on our own terms, and that’s the way I feel music should be done.”

Moon of Delirium
Alex Jorgenson – Guitar/Vocals
Russell Kummer – Drums
Melissa Collins – Cello
Helen Mehan – Bass

I’ve been granted the only seat in the small practice space, a rolling computer chair, and I feel a bit like a kindergarten teacher. It’s probably because everyone is seated on the floor around me, cross-legged, but I’m not positive. It’s an odd pre-pubescent flashback, but I’m not uncomfortable. In fact, having noted the crudely painted pentagram in the outside hallway, the Bathory poster on the wall and being just a little giddy from listening to Judas Priest’s live record on the drive up, a palpable excitement has risen in me.

We hit the standard metal topic of Iron Maiden and expound upon Alex Jorgenson’s and Melissa Collins’ mutual adoration for the group. We touch on Jorgenson’s “metal genesis,” which came as a youngster when two kids in Maiden shirts beat him up and took his lunch money. We discuss the band’s metal pedigrees, a lineup consisting of ex and current members of Obliterate Plague, Desolate Realm, Terra Noir, Grave Code Nebula and a host of others. However, I soon realize that despite my hankering to live out an obnoxious Headbanger’s Ball fantasy, pigeonholing Moon of Delirium as a metal band, even a black metal band, is rather shortsighted.

Moon of Delirium was formed in 2010 when Jorgenson and drummer Russell Kummer became burnt out on their musical endeavors at the time and the two got together to jam. Moon of Delirium was conceived as a departure from their past bands. “This band is unlike anything I’ve ever done before,” says Kummer.

Moon of Delirium has some sonic similarities to the atmospheric experimentation of obscure metal bands like Evoken and Primordial, but the band seeks inspiration from anywhere possible. “My influences are as diverse as ever. I used to make fun of The Cure,” Jorgenson says. “Now? Their darker albums are some of my favorites.” The addition of Collins, a classically trained cellist, has also helped them stylistically expand beyond the parameters of a niche genre.

It’s not just eclectic music that serves as an influence, though. Supernatural phenomena factor in as well. “I saw a UFO in South Salt Lake. I’ve seen it four times,” Collins says with a smirk but no traceable sarcasm. As the primary songwriter, Jorgenson identifies a childhood fascination with this type of paranormal activity as a profound lyrical inspiration. The band’s name is even a loose allusion to a recent Duncan Jones film in which an astronaut discovers he’s a clone in a terrifying conspiracy.

When pressed to define themselves, the band adopts the utilitarian term “dark metal” (referencing an EP by Bethlehem) to describe their sound—a sound geared toward evoking dark feelings, unsettling atmospherics and general eeriness, not headbanging or silly dress codes.

They hope to have their work released as soon as possible and are currently in the studio, recording a five-song EP. In fact, recording is top priority, and they have little desire to become a prominent live band. Essentially, they’re happy to create music that is to be experienced and digested, not moshed to.

Still, for a band pushing their own limits, they do hope to inspire their audience to follow suit and appeal to people outside of the usual metal crowd.

“People need to get out of their tunnel vision,” Kummer says, remarking on the restrictiveness of genres and labels. “If you like it, you like it. That’s all that matters.”

It all comes from a very sincere place, a desire to make something memorable. “I really enjoy anything that’s heavy, introspective and unique. That’s hard to come by these days,” says bassist Helen Mehan. “I hope the music we’re playing will be seen this way.” It’s a compelling line they straddle, producing music that is simultaneously formidable and intriguing.

I swivel in my rolling chair, taking a final look at the room: the drum kit, the cello case leaning against an amplifier, the smiling musicians seated Indian-style around me. I suppose I didn’t get the boisterous “hail Satan” metal interview I’d anticipated, but that’s OK. What I got was infinitely more substantial. Besides, now the band’s got me focused on more immediate matters. Something that’s bound to bother me on my long drive down I-15 South: UFOs … and whether or not I’m really a clone.

For an explosive and evocative night of the most bombastic proportions, come to The Urban Lounge on June 10, Moon of Delirium and IX Zealot will be dealing the blows at 10 p.m.