Timeghoul is the direct English translation of the word Zeitgeist. Zeitgeist means spirit of the age in German. This band was not a spirit of its age, yet it still captures a lot of what made death metal great back then. This band was founded in 1987 under the name Doom's Lyre and changed their name to Timeghoul in 1991. This band released 2 demo's under the Timeghoul name the first is Tumultuous Travelings in 1992 and the second Panaramic Twilight in 1994. After releasing these demo's they split up. A sad loss considering how far ahead of its time Timeghoul was.
The demo's of this band are unlike anything else you can find in death metal. Intricate melodies, dissonant lead guitar work, clean vocals over pummeling riffs, melodic melancholic guitar solo's and unusual lyrics. Pretty much everything you wouldn't expect in a death metal band is prevalent here. Yet this is 100% death metal. No technical wankery or any other kind of pretentious showing off. Everything is used to create a unique atmosphere. A bleak, gloomy and at times melancholic atmosphere. Every instrument is played perfectly for this feeling. There is nothing negative at all I can say about the instrumental aspect of this band. The only negative aspect is the sound quality. You are constantly reminded that these are demo's. No matter how well done the sound is for such a fact there is certainly room for improvement. I hope Timeghoul gets the same treatment as the recent Nirvana 2002 compilation for this reason.
If you ever wondered what the best soundtrack would be to an alien archaeologist finding the remains of the last human being and then finding out that humanity got extinct because of an alien invasion whom originally got on the earth after destroying another alien race on 1 of Saturn moon's and crashing in Yucatan with a meteor space vessel which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and the sinking of Atlantis after which the aliens stayed in the core of the earth gradually becoming stronger only to eventually invade and kill humanity, well then go listen to the song "Occurrence On Mimas" from the Tumultuous Travelings demo. The lyrics totally fit how the song is written and played.
In the end I can't really explain how the band sounds, obviously. The two demo's this band created are beyond anything you have ever heard before and maybe ever hear again. The absolute masterpieces that these demos are makes one wonder what could have happened if this band ever had released more. It's been only recently that Timeghoul has been rediscovered. Hopefully this will lead to a compilation with better sound quality and a reunion of Timeghoul. It's certainly something I hope for.
Now for the interview with Mike Stevens
First of all, I want to say thanks for this interview. Timeghoul has really grabbed my attention in the last year. I've rarely heard such a unique death metal band, and for me its one of metal's great losses that there never have been more than 2 demo's. However not everyone might know Timeghoul. So what was Timeghoul?
Timeghoul is a band created by Mike Stevens (myself) and Jeff Hayden. It began in 1987 as just two guitarists and some ideas. We were not great guitar players but we were both artists. We started making musical art before we even new how to play. Once we got a few songs we tried to find other members. We auditioned many drummers but most did not get our music, or wanted to play Slayer or Metallica covers. Finally, we met Tony Holman and everything just came together. He was not the greatest drummer but like us he was an artist and it worked out. Chad was friends with Tony and he gladly picked up the bass duties. All lyrics were written by Jeff, and in my opinion, would be interesting without the music. The first demo Tumultuous Travelings was definitely a work of art and I am proud to be apart of it.
What did you do before and during Timeghoul?
Timeghoul was the first band I was involved in and the one I most proud of. Sometime we would all go to record stores and check out the latest underground thrash and death metal releases or play dungeons and dragons. Jeff was usually the dungeon master.
What was your role in Timeghoul? Did you write a lot of material? Didn't Jeff write most of the stuff?
Jeff was the lyricist 100% and vocals, and did write a lot of the doom style riffs but I was very involved when it came to song writing. I wrote a lot of the melodies and strange chromatic passages that made us different at that time. We would improvise and come up with weird sounding passages and structure them in a song. Later on the compositions were more musically correct and Jeff had a lot to do with that. My influence is more prevalent on the first demo and is evident on the second even though I did not play on it. We were writing the material and had recorded some ruff drafts before I left.
What were the influences on Timeghoul?
We loved a lot of different music. We liked Celtic Frost, Kreator, Slayer, Metallica etc the list could go on forever it seems. All early death metal we enjoyed including, Suffocation, Atrocity, Morbid Angel, etc. I think we were more inspired to just do something different and extreme and maybe add some classical influence.
All the songs were written before the studio because it was expensive at that time to record music in a studio. We had limited time and money.
How did people react to Timeghoul?
Most underground tape traders loved it and there were a few death metal fans that were starving for a local band to support. I think some people got the music and loved it and others could have cared less.
How did live performances go?
Great, Jeff's voice live was something to behold by itself. Most shows had pretty good turnouts but there were a few that were like twenty people or less. We opened up for a few national acts but are best shows were really just local metalfests.
What was the greatest moment for you in Timeghoul?
Hearing Tumultuous Travelings (our first demo) for the first time or maybe our first show.
Why did you leave Timeghoul?
Basically Jeff graduated from Music College and wanted to be a composer and took over with his ideas leaving me with less influence musically. Our improvised jams became almost nonexistent and his composition became forefront. I got bored and one of my friends was trying to start a Christian band so I thought I would give it a try. I was also opposed to adding another guitarist. (This would mean 3 guitarists - tomcat ha) I don't regret quitting but I should have probably stood up and demanded my influence be brought back into the band but that was a long time ago it seems the band soon ended anyways.
Well, since some of my influence is on there I was looking forward to hearing it. I was impressed to say the least and love the demo still. Tony showed great improvement on drums and the guitarists who replaced me were amazing.
Why did Timeghoul break up?
Good question. I suspect it was Jeff's decision since he had become the chief songwriter.
How do you view Timeghoul today?
Well until about a year ago I figured it was my past and nobody really cared but while listing to last.fm and hearing the song "Infinity Coda" played and being totally surprised I found that some people care. It makes me feel good as an artist to have been apart of it.
Timeghoul has recently been rediscovered by a lot of younger and older metal fans, how does this make you feel?
That's great. That is why I am doing this interview is for those fans.
Does Timeghoul still impact your life today?
Not in any real important way. I still play guitar and possibly could do a project similar to Timeghoul but have only just begun and am not sure if I will have the time to really make it a real band. If I do finish a song or two I will post it somewhere on the web and it will be free most likely.
Are you still in touch with the other Timeghoul members?
Everyone but Jeff unfortunately. Tony has been in several bands and is in a band called Drag the Dead.
Any chance for a reunion?
There's always a chance but doubtful with original line up.
You play in the band Gigglefit. What kind of band is it?
Good question. Really it's just some friends of mine I used to work with acting goofy as hell playing there instruments. We play out locally and I just plug my guitar in a beat the hell out of it. It is not even close to being death metal but it is a lot of fun. Check out "System of Violence" on Youtube.com if ya want a laugh. We played live on an alternative radio station. And they didn't pull the plug surprisingly.
Is there anything else you are doing these days?
I'm thinking of doing a death metal project when I get time and putting some songs up on the web.
Has your view on art and music changed over the years?
Yes I have opened up a lot to other forms of music but still despise clones. Bands that sound like a carbon copy of someone else. I also have an ever-growing hatred of cover bands. So many guys my age think they are forced to play covers.
How do you view the current metal scene? I would personally say it's healthier right now than it has been in years.
There are so many labels on music and so many bands that it is becoming saturated. A lot of the bands sound the same.
Anything coming up in the future you are excited about music wise?
Actually I am looking forward to the new Cosmic Atrophy album. They have a Timeghoul sound at times.
I've found an old interview with Gordon Blodgett Do you have any comments on anything brought up in this interview?
This quote says it all: "love to record some more of Jeff's compositions." He was playing mostly what Jeff told him to play. Although he played it very well and is a great guitarist.
Thanks to all past and present fans of Timeghoul and may our music inspire you to create your own. Also if I get my hands on other recordings I will post them on last.fm.