In front of a four-piece band—two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer—a man growls into a microphone. He wears only a diaper and a pair of angel wings. Across his chest the word “slut” is scrawled.
The scene, from a year-old video of a show by metal band Qarin, may be the key to understanding the band.
“I like to be in a diaper or a thong when I’m on stage, just because it adds to the horror,” said vocalist Divah.
The band has also performed wearing prom dresses and dressed as zombies. One show climaxed with Divah smashing a pumpkin filled with stage blood. While not every Qarin show features bizarre stage gimmicks—those are just for special occasions—these examples do bear out bassist Adam Weisshar’s proclamation that “there’s no point in lighting up a stage unless it’s going to be completely engulfed in fire.”
He means “fire” metaphorically, I think.
In the band’s bio on ReverbNation, they make the bold assertion that they intend “to bring the passion and party back into metal.” The claim seems like easily dismissible self-promotion—the sort of pabulum musicians resort to when they have to say something about themselves. But it turns out they really mean it. When asked when exactly the “passion and party” left, they actually have some answers.
“When every metal song you hear on the radio screams about ’my girlfriend left me, and I lost my shoes’,” said Weisshar.
Divah claimed the fun left when metal splintered into endless subgenres.
“We all decided that our subgenre—thrash or death or black metal or nu metal or post-hardcore or whatever—is the best one. So the fun’s gone.”
If competition between these various factions has led to the stultification of heavy metal, the makeup of Qarin is itself a response to this problem.
Drummer Theadore Poundcake and guitarist Aaron Canon were formerly in Ethereal Reaping, whose three-guitar, two-vocalist—one male, one female—configuration created a grandiose, epic sound.
Guitarist Justin Martinez was a member of Dr. Mengele, a band he described as gritty “slasher metal.”
“Lots of blood,” Poundcake elaborated.
Weisshar and Divah were both in Miscreated, which Divah claimed was an alternative rock band that incorporated elements of nu metal.
“I grew up on the East Coast, so I was very influenced by the East Coast hard core and metalcore scene,” said Divah. So somehow we find a way to bring all those pieces into one orgasmic sound.”
These pieces aren’t really disparate. Still, Qarin easily moves from a slow tempo section with soaring melodies to fast thrash with growling vocals.
“When it’s melodic, we want to take you up to the apex of heaven, and when it’s brutal, we want to take you to the depths of hell, kind of like a roller coaster,” said Divah. Roller coasters don’t build themselves, however. Likewise, the kind of exhilaration the members of Qarin want to experience and share with their audiences can only occur through a disciplined approach to their music.
“If I can’t play a show, I want to record,” Weisshar explained. If I can’t record, I want to practice. If I can’t practice, I want to play a show.”
“Music is something I do beyond the menial, pissant job I do,” said Canon. When I go in the studio, when I go on stage, all that goes away, and I can just have that release of having a good time.”
“And helping other people who are listening do the same thing,” said Divah.