Trevor McLave of Dublin act Coldwar is certainly a distinctive-looking frontman, after all – having your head and face tattooed is a look that most would consider striking. His tattoos are lent an extra frisson by being made up largely of intricate swastika patterns and when a number of poorly informed and sensationalist articles relating to his appearance surfaced on the internet last week, I caught up with him to get his reaction and more importantly… to get the lowdown on Coldwar’s soon to be released fourth album, Pantheist. I met Trevor in Dublin on Good Friday, a day in Ireland on which an outdated law prohibiting the sale of alcohol is still in place. Luckily, both myself and Trevor have taken the precaution of stashing some booze from the night before. I start by asking him about the recent articles on and which were focused on his distinctive appearance.


“The article on  was brought to my attention during the week and my first thought was that it was uninformed and clumsily written,” he says. “At the very least, they could have done a Google search and got something to back up what they were talking about. They could have contacted me and I would have been happy to talk to them – they didn’t even get my name right! If they took a look at our website, it would have been immediately apparent what we’re about and that our lyrics deal mostly with liberation from oppressive regimes. If I could sum up the tone of those articles, I’d call them uninformed attempts to suppress expression – that seems like a pretty fascist pursuit to me.”


I ask Trevor to explain to me his motivations in adorning his skin so heavily with possibly the most controversial symbol in the Western world. He’s more than willing to oblige. “The word ‘swastika’ is one used to denote the tetraskelion (or four-armed) shape. It has appeared in the art of numerous cultures around the world – on Greek vases, on Celtic Ogham stones, in Indian Brahmic art and in the art of the Hopi tribe of Northern Arizona, to cite a few examples. In all of these cases, it is a positive symbol meaning luck, life and fertility. The Nazi ‘hackenkreuz’ version of the swastika is the symbol of a party which lasted roughly 15 years. My aim is to restore to the symbol its pre-Nazi positive symbolism. I’m one of a number of people involved with The Gentle Swastika collective, a movement in the tattoo community which has this as its aim.” The hacks over at Metalsucks and Metal Injection suggest that Trevor was motivated by attention-seeking or just plain old stupidity. “Well, I heard recently about a girl who passed out in a tattoo parlour and woke up with 56 stars tattooed on her face. I’m not like her,” he laughs. “It’s been a progressive thing for me and I’m happy with my ink – it makes it interesting when I’m shaving, haha! It’s my face and I’ll do what I want with it. The bottom line is that my tattoos are about me rather than the band as a whole.”



With all of that out of the way, we progress to talking about Coldwar’s imminent fourth full-length “Pantheist”, due to be released via Candlelight records on April 28. “I think this album is very different to what we’ve done previously”, he begins. “We seem to be categorized by many as Death metal, probably because of my vocals. But to be honest, none of us listen to much Death Metal. We have elements of grind too, but we played Obscene Extreme in the Czech Republic last year and we were slow and laid-back compared to a lot of the bands there! I don’t really care for the limitations of strict genre definitions. We try to avoid pre-conceived notions of what we’re going to do before we hit the rehearsal room. We try to take an idea or life event and make music and lyrics to fit that. For example, our guitarist Paul was in Phuket when the tsunami hit and the track ‘Mazu Awakens’ on the new album is about that. We tried to find words and music to fit that horror. To my mind, this album has more ambience and atmosphere than anything we’ve done before – we’ve added more ambient parts to accentuate the intensity. But we’ll always keep it dark, noisy and heavy.”


Ultimately, Trevor is unfazed by the recent negative attention his appearance has drawn: “Our promo track from the new album, ‘Ether Child’ has gotten a lot more hits since my face has been on trial, haha! This publicity probably couldn’t have come at a better time.”


Coldwar play Dublin’s Voodoo Lounge on Saturday, April 26th.


Check out ‘Ether Child’ from their forthcoming album Pantheist here:



Liam Cannon is a Dublin-based writer, and the newest member of our online team.

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