The latest in a tireless flurry of Vegas obscurities, Stlth Panzer finds two of the strongest and most interesting tracks in the band's history committed to an attractive lathe-cut 7" square. I was immediately intrigued by the cold, industrialized aesthetic of the title track—its customarily obfuscated vocals absolutely buried amidst powerfully chugging rhythms. And then there's the crawling, ominous dissonance and tribal percussion of "Cavity" (appearing on Bandcamp under the alternate title—as usual—"Laid Insignificant"). This plodding, midpaced slog has become quite possibly my favorite Vegas track to date:
My physical copy of Stlth Panzer has yet to arrive, so I can't speak to its unique packaging. Nor can I encourage you to purchase: limited to a mere 20 copies—perhaps a few more as a special "band-only" edition—they're already long gone. Having been responsible for a number of the rarest of the rare entries in the Vegas canon, I decided to chat with The Final Judgment Records for some background information regarding the label's activities...
I've been aware of and interested in your efforts for years now, but due to various amalgams of time and circumstance, I've acquired very little of your output to date. You first started The Process Zine back in 2011, releasing six issues over the course of about four years. Talk about your experiences with the zine and how that all took shape in the earlier years.
I was first introduced to The Process Church of the Final Judgment through a used CD by Length of Time, which I bought at a hardcore/punk show in my hometown around 2001, I guess. The booklet had a note that the album was dedicated to the works of The Process Church and Charles Manson. Back then, there was only one person in Poland interested in such topics—a now famous tattoo artist living in Germany. It took me a lot of time to get my hands on the first books and written material concerning the topic, and nowadays most of this stuff is extremely easily accessible. Throughout the years, I met one Ph.D. scholar digging into the mysteries of The Process and he told me that one of the U.S. universities has a room filled with original paraphernalia—I hope there's a chance to see it one day.
Looking back, I think there were a few elements that resulted in producing the zine:
- I was living in a poor, post-industrial region of Poland and helped the socially excluded back to work. Poverty, mental illness, ex-convicts, and depression were my daily bread.
- I read lots of occult-related books, but missed something more regular and old-fashioned/paper-based.
- Ideas that I wanted to share with the outside world while being born and raised in a very Catholic country.
This all led me to the conclusion that a zine was the best form of putting my thoughts into action. I've always been pretty good at writing—a few publications of a general/work-related nature here and there, as well as a regular blog—and this seemed like a nice way of spending free time. If you had a chance to see the first issue, you know it was extremely terrible when it comes to design and layout. I did everything in a Word document and then printed it. The first run had around 30 or 50 copies, interviews with Integrity and Length of Time, as well as some thoughts on Satanism. Although terribly-designed, it sold out in the blink of an eye and was my first contact with like-minded people from other countries (I stay in touch with most of them until today).
The next issues were better in terms of layout—and content as well, I guess. I interviewed lots of interesting people, made friends, and traded a lot. These six issues had many different variants as well—of limited quantity—the nicest one being #1 and #2 in a cotton bag.
What's the status of the zine now? It seems like it drifted off after The Final Judgment Records took form.
You're absolutely right. The zine is now defunct. I called it quits after six issues. I guess the form and the content came to an end, I said most of the things I wanted to say and interviewed most of the people I wanted to talk with (what has never finalized were Kickback, Robert N. Taylor, Funkadelic, and Charles Manson). I had a break and came up with the idea of starting The Final Judgment Records.
Having been produced in quite limited numbers, the first five issues of The Process Zine were at one point compiled into an equally limited book. Could you ever foresee revisiting something like that to include all six issues?
Honestly, I do think about it from time to time, but producing a book in a limited quantity (up to 50) is pretty expensive and extremely time-consuming. This may materialize at some point if there's enough interest.
The Final Judgment Records kicked off toward the end of 2015. How did this branch of your output come to pass?
That's quite a nice story. I got married in July of 2015 and went on holiday to Italy with my wife to celebrate it. Before leaving Poland, I did some Vegas pins and sent some to T, which he liked and replied with the idea of me releasing a Vegas musical performance in a physical copy. This was my first release: a zine on Vegas and the V.eritas E.nquesta G.uerra A.rratum S.anctuarium CD (20 copies).
Thus far the label has only worked with Vegas and By the Spirits. I know that to some degree it's obvious, but I'd be curious to hear you discuss what it was about these two artists that captured your interest to the point of wanting to release their music through your own label?
Vegas, the man behind the myth, remains one of my favorite pillars of the musical layer within the Holy Terror-esque sound. "Cure My Heart From Beating" is an absolute masterpiece, moving me to a place where my head bangs the invisible walls to silence the endless nightmare. Teaming up with T in our past, present, and future enterprises is an honor.
By the Spirits is a friend of mine from Poland who picked up the guitar, went into the woods, and praised what is sacred to him. The demo helped to open some doors, so I'm happy about it. He's going to have more releases soon, so I suggest to follow his Facebook page.
Handsomely-packaged, ultra-limited edition releases come at a cost, but despite that, The Final Judgment Records has garnered a bit of a built-in audience. Dealing with an average of maybe 20 copies per release, the items can occasionally be nearly sold out by the time the pre-orders become public knowledge. Do you see yourself as intentionally catering more to the diehard collectors, and/or have you ever considered issuing slightly larger pressings to better meet demand?
Thank you for the kind words, Andrew. Well, this is a two-sided answer: on the one hand, I'd like my releases to meet the demand of the select group of people that has been following my endeavors since the very beginning and award them with very limited/hard to get items. The other side is more pragmatic: being a one-man army, it's a bit problematic (when it comes to financing my releases) to do more copies. I guess 20 - 30 would be the standard at the moment.
Due to the "secretive" nature of your work, it's perhaps too soon to tell, but at one point on Facebook you had mentioned that this year would see some new names brought into The Final Judgment Records fold. Is there anything you can share about forthcoming releases, etc.?
The "new names" issue is in progress, so I'd rather keep it in the dark, at least for the time being. What I can tell you is, as you've seen yourself, Vegas has recorded enough musical pieces to fill a long-playing album. The trip to Helsinki through three countries in September of 2016 to witness one of the very few Vegas live acts resulted in a bond between Finland and Poland. This said, you might expect some news from the combined forces of The Final Judgment Records and the Judas Chair Collective in the coming future.
The Final Judgment Records' releases are all very much out of print. Attempting to keep up on Facebook may or may not aid in your potential opportunities to obtain such assets in the future...