Anthony Kaoteon speaks to Zero Tolerance scribe Paul Castles about his extraordinary journey from the Middle East into the realms of extreme music and how he plans to juggle his challenging new solo venture Death Tribe alongside his already established group, Kaoteon.

ZT: Hi Anthony, congratulations on the Death Tribe album, Beyond Pain & Pleasure – A Desert Experiment. How are you feeling about it now that it’s finally released?
Thanks Paul, I am glad the music is finally out for people and it is getting such a good reception. I hope people enjoy it and share it with their circle of metal friends so that the message and sound are spread. It is a lot of effort for a musician to compose, work with other musician, enter a studio, mix, master, create artwork and finally put an album together so this alone is an achievement by itself.

ZT: I believe you had been working on these songs for some time?
It is a yes and a no… I had a lot of riffs lying in the drawer which never fit Kaoteon’s sound but I loved them. The idea of Death Tribe came along in 2015 which gave all these riffs a chance to come back to life and become this monster of a diverse album Beyond Pain and Pleasure: A Desert Experiment.

ZT: Just explain the studio arrangement?
There was not one studio as I worked with different musicians and had to jump between studios based on the geographical region they are in and limited budgets! The biggest impact on sound was the mixing by Karim Sinno from The Audioloft in Baabda, Lebanon and mastering by Mike from Rogue Planet Mastering in New York.

ZT: Were there any elements of the recording that proved particularly troublesome?
Not really, the musicians I worked with are all better than me on their instruments as well as the engineers. I might have good ideas as a songwriter but what brings the record together is this level of professionalism carried by the musicians.

ZT: Although you are a solo performer you hooked up with a couple of friends on this release – drummer Mattias Landes (Dark Fortress) and bassist Linus Klausenitzer (Obscura). Just outline your friendship with them.
Linus and I have three albums together so far, it all started with Death Tribe honestly before even composing and releasing Kaoteon’s Damnatio Memoriae which won the Global Metal Awards from Metal Hammer’s Golden Gods in 2018. It all started as session work which developed into a friendship that we celebrate often these days in several occasions.

ZT: Did they actually work alongside you in the studio?
Not really, we worked overseas. I would send the riffs with a lot of WhatsApp voice clips on ideas, beats, rhythms and what I think. They would take the essence of those elements and drop back some improved ideas and then we either lock them in or exchange more ideas until it is settled – it was definitely a pleasure.

ZT: And you also hooked up with singers from backgrounds similar to your own.
Yes, Dubai allowed me to meet a lot of struggling musicians from the near east that love the music and try to break into the noise with the little support they can find in such a region where metal has no outlets or any kind of support. There was a music event organised by a friend from Iran called Gorgin Asadi where he would ask musicians from the region to get together and play cover songs for their favourite artists under a series of events called Desert Experiment which inspired me to put together a varied line up and create my own Desert Experiment.

ZT: There’s a lot of anger and raw emotion wrapped up in these songs – I assume at least some of this stems from growing up in a place as troubled as Beirut?
Beirut socio-political problems definitely fuels any soul in so many ways as it is in the centre of all troubled issues in the world. I happen to be born north of Occupied Palestine, The Zionists, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, to the East – I have Syria, Iraq and Iran, to the north – I got Turkey and Russia. I must say I learned more than three lives fold about a whole lot of cultures but being the smallest country with a whole lot of influence from the outside that divides us into fragments and each fragment is deeming itself a nation, as per the words of the great Gibran Khalil Gibran, is not the healthiest environment to live in.

ZT: The contrast to your lifestyle now in the Netherlands must be hard to digest at times?
Not really, Lebanon with all its problems has everything that Europe has to offer so nothing is relatively new except the consistency of the offer, the equality and peace of mind that you don’t have to work hard to secure but it is a birth right and it will not change tomorrow. In a nutshell, it is good to know that you will not be discriminated based on religion, race or ideology but rather appreciated for your differences.

ZT: Do you see your long-term future in The Netherlands now?
I am still new here and I came here as I was headhunted as a knowledge migrant for my working skills but if The Netherlands offers me a good stable future then I will look forward to make it my home.

ZT: You must still follow the fortunes of countries in the Middle East?
I do not really do that. I check on family and friends but I have long felt a sense that I got nothing left in that part of the world as it has long abandoned me. I love the land but the people drifted into a place where I really do not understand. I wish them the best, I hope they can find peace, I somehow dream of a future where they will let go of all the labeling and look forward to a united solution but I have my doubts.

ZT: How much exposure did you have to extreme music growing up?
I think because of the scarcity of extreme music in Lebanon. We were listening to anything we could get our hands on and then you would end up building a network that has a huge network of albums and music that was quite fascinating and by 1996/8. Everyone was downloading music from mIRC and sharing it on tapes and CDs to spread the word. It was very special.

ZT: Can you name some of the bands who you first really admired and helped shape your future in music?
To name a few, I could definitely mention Slayer, Bathory, Emperor, Mayhem, Satyricon, Megadeth, amongst others.

ZT: Can you just explain how your journey led you to Dubai. Did you not find some of that nation’s restrictions difficult or did you find the freedom to create music there.
In contrast to what many people believe, Dubai is quite open minded to diversity in music and cultures. There are a lot of negative things that are matched with positive things at the same time. If it weren’t for Dubai, I would have never had access to good music equipment for instance. Bands like Hate Eternal, Obscura, Septic Flesh, Motorhead, Metallica, Sepultura and Mayhem performed live in Dubai. There is not one place with all the positive in the world and there is definitely huge things that need fixing there but beside having a very small metal scene and being far from festivals and concerts. I do not see Dubai as an obstacle for creating music.

ZT: Some readers will know you through your work with Kaoteon. How are things going with that band?
Kaoteon has been an ongoing force since I created it in 1998 and although things didn’t happen frequently to the many reasons I need a book to explain between war, bombs, poverty, changing countries and all that. The last album Damnatio Memoriae put a solid mark for us on the map of extreme metal world where we worked with Fredrik from Marduk on drums, won awards and got a lot of positive feedback which translated to great sales. Today, we finished the mastering of the follow up album and we have Adrian Erlandsson from At The Gates on drums as well as Linus on bass again – the new album artwork is in the making and we are so excited to bringing to life so that the fans can enjoy it soon.

ZT: So for the future will you juggle Kaoteon alongside Death Tribe? Will Death Tribe be able to perform live?
Kaoteon is my main full metal jacket. Death Tribe is the special artillery which I use in special missions. Performing live depends on the event, organisers and bands on the roster as the most important for a person with a struggling passport as my own is to stay successful in my day job that is so separate from metal to ensure that I can earn the money in a foreign country to be able to compose, record and deliver music to the world that will hopefully make history.

ZT: Many thanks for your time, Anthony
Cheers to you, ZT staff and everyone who gave me 36 minutes of their time to check Death Tribe’s release. m/

Thanks for dropping in!

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