The Threshold of Pain – An Interview With american

Personally, I’m a sucker for blackened noise. It almost seems a natural evolution from the early ‘fuck you’ sonics of the old days of black metal, trying to find the harshest anti-music possible to represent the hatred and agony portrayed in the lyrical themes. What better than squeals of distorted feedback howling at the limits of human ear tolerance to carry on the legacy of pushing boundaries in search of audio evil? Well, here’s where american come smashing through the door with a rusty, disease covered chainsaw: Pushing the blueprint of black metal deep into industrial territory and experimenting further with each release, they’ve always been out to hurt you; but on the absolutely savage ‘Violate and Control’ (out through Sentient Ruin Laboratories/Fragile Branch/Shove Records) they’ve found a fresh new hell. The Leviathan-esque black is blacker, the sludge sludgier and the ever-increasing use of power electronics and soul raping distorted noise plunges everything to a depth so sadistic it should probably be kept away from animals and small children.

It’s an astonishing assault, seemingly laid out to inflict maximum cruelty upon the listener. Songs land like blows from an abusive partner; when you’re exhausted, broken and crying and think it simply can’t get any more punishing, it does. Oh, it does. There are brief moments of respite, great riffs break through the industrial chaos and the agony lets up for a nanosecond… But ultimately, this is pure suffering, emotional and physical.

Nothing can save you once you’re deep into the album, it demands your soul as payment at the very least. The beatings begin unchecked on 23rd June and in the meantime they’ve generously sat down with us to answer a few questions, hot on the heels of the premiere of opening track ‘Visions of Great Faith’ that’s scored an exclusive stream through Metal Injection. Go check that out here, and read on below.


Hi guys, sincerest thanks for your time. First, a little history: What’s the story behind american and why does it exist?

Jim: Thanks for talking with us – We met through mutual friends in high school. We wrote the first few songs under the “american” moniker 6 or 7 years ago with no intention of releasing them. I don’t think we even have the tracks anymore.

Mike: We just started recording songs for the sake of recording in high school and eventually we cranked out that first demo for the fun of it.

Your new album ‘Violate and Control’ will be released on 23 June, and I don’t think I’ve heard a more punishing release in a long time. How would you describe this release and its intentions?

J: ”Violate and Control” explores our influences outside of the black metal genre. We set out to make the record we’ve been wanting to hear but had never been recorded and released by anyone else.

The album feels like it somehow has much colder, harsher and more depraved blood running through it than its predecessor. Was this influenced by anything or simply a result of natural evolution in the creative process?

M: I’d say natural evolution. We wanted it to be heavier. 

J: Definitely heavier and something with a lot more impact. We challenged ourselves to create something a little more full and daunting, rather than just a second LP containing some songs we wrote over the last two years. I’d like to think we succeeded in doing that.

Do you feel the bleakness and negativity are a result of a mirror being held up to the external world and your environment, or is it more an expulsion of internal darkness?

M: Both.

J: american has always been and always will be self harm in the audio format for me.

How long did the writing and recording process take for this album, and do you have a particular favourite piece of gear you used to create it?

M: Way longer than the other releases. I’ve been using the same Jackson Rhoads for as long as we’ve been doing this so I’d say that’s my favorite piece of gear. 

J: We have a lot of gear and other random stuff lying around our space and it’s hard to say what was used where. I think my favorite piece of gear on the album is the sheet of metal sampled on the track Submission Psalm. As for the entire creative process for this record, the overall experience was pretty intense. The whole thing took a little under two years, and started right after the release of Coping With Loss. We experimented with sampling ourselves this time around and that was an interesting dynamic for us. 

The album is to be released on tape and vinyl through the excellent Sentient Ruin Laboratories. You seem to have a great relationship with them. At what point did they come into the picture and what drew you to each other?

M: M hit us up after hearing the demo and mentioned he was starting a label. I think we agreed after hearing the other tapes he wanted to release along with ours, at least that’s when I got on board. 

J: M believed in us for some reason. I’ll never understand why, but we appreciate everything he has done for us.

You guys have recently done an absolutely fucked up cover of Amebix – ‘Spoils of Victory’. Total savagery, I personally prefer it over the original and would love to hear you mutilate more classics. What originally drew you to choose this particular track, and do you have plans for any more covers in the future?

J: Sean at Cvlt Nation approached us about covering Spoils for a comp after another band had backed out. Writing that cover was tough because we actually lived about 200 hundred miles away from each other at the time and composed most of it over email and then recorded it in a friend’s basement in one night. In terms of covers in the future, we have a special plan we’re hard at work on.

 You seem to have a knack for discovering samples that plumb the very depths of human suffering then pairing them with annihilating sounds so soul-draining they crush any hope left in the listener; there’s one track in particular on this album that’s almost impossible to recover from once you’ve heard it. Where do you come across these samples, and how do you decide which ones are perfect for inclusion on the album?

J: To be honest, I just collect these things and store them away until I need them. Having a library like that is just really useful, especially for us, when it comes to staying on point with what we’re writing. Could never reveal where these things come from, though. That would ruin my fun.

Amidst the various other black/sludge/noise influences, in places I can hear definite Ministry vibes on this album. Are you guys fans? Are there any other artists you’ve been particularly inspired by that you’d recommend?

M: Yeah Ministry is sick. 

J: I’m a big fan of Ministry. Depeche Mode, FFH’s “Make Them Understand”, and most of the releases from the Australian label Fanaticism ( provided a lot of inspiration for me personally this time around.

Has american ever caved in some heads by performing live, or are there any future plans to subject audiences to that kind of sadistic onslaught?

M: Never have. I’d like to. 

J: We’re writing music that keeps getting more and more complicated to reproduce live. Someday we’ll do it. We only want people who share the same vision involved.

I find your discography, and even this album alone, becomes more intense as you travel through it. What’s next for the band, how far can you take this brand of audio agony?

M: Only time will tell. 

J: I’m sure it will only get worse from here.

Thanks again for your time, I look forward to you causing more misery. Any last words?

J: Paw aka øjeRum did the art for this record and he killed it. His music is beautiful too. 

Thanks for talking to us.


Pre-Order ‘Violate and Control’ through Sentient Ruin Laboratories (US) here, Shove Records (EU) here and Fragile Branch here.

Support american: 

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