before we talk of any repentance / I would do it all again / lose my way and fall again / they will never get what is inside of me / (vultures licking their lips) / step out of the womb right into the haze / reminded by scars / searching to no avail / conscience is a guess / endless funeral march / winded, wounded, weak / slaves raping slaves / persistence thinning out / stylized decadence / oceans of deceit / an urge with no name / pray for the heavens for what cannot be found / replacing facts with lies to fill in the gaps / time's taking its toll through uncertain shadows / what remains is contempt for a world that denies / sometimes it hurts so much that it doesn’t hurt at all / vortex spinning downwards / soul atrophies / purity's gone / feeding the disease / no questions, no reply, no tongue to speak / left all alone / this mind knows no hope / entries of confusion / nights stricken with regret / reasons in deletion / hanging by a thread / abundance seeking union with emptiness / pray to the heavens for what cannot be found to deliver you from the hell you created / remembering every second, every breath, every choked scream / with every move you're crawling around your own demise.
My love for Integrity is encoded in my DNA, weaved into the marrow of my bones.
What's my favourite Integrity song? How cruel! That's comparable to asking Qin Shi Huang which of his terracotta warriors he liked best. In its essence Integrity is intangible, incalculable, a thing to be felt not comprehended. Music and lyrics not written but forged. A melody of the heart invoking images that bypass your pre-frontal cortex and hit you where nightmares and dreams are made. Circumventing the usual pathways in your brain and going straight to your heart. “It is often in the work of genius that we recognize our own rejected thoughts.” Integrity mirrored them back to me with a welcome alienated majesty. They cast unflattering aspersions for a higher purpose – to inflame the mundane. Regular "extreme" music would catch fire by being in the mere proximity of it.
Just when I thought what punk, metal, and hardcore has to offer had reached its limits, Overkill Records released a record aptly titled Those Who Fear Tomorrow. 1993 brought the appropriate soundtrack to my likes, dislikes, insecurities, and triumphs. An introspective staredown into the abyss. Relief from a world that was barely to my liking. There was completeness in listening to it. Rejection of beauty and form. It changed my views in a myriad of ways. Truth transcending mere appearances. Integrity coined a new genre. Too abstract for popular taste and too rugged for the halls of academia. Exploration not idealization. Lyrics that continue to reveal themselves. There must be something in the water in Cleveland. It cannot all be possibly attributed to the magnetic pull of Lake Eerie. There is alchemy in it. Unstilted and feeling inevitable. If you look at Integrity’s heritage and return to the origins of its development, you can see how what Integrity started is now taken for granted. Like the use of sugar for cooking, which originated in the Arabic cuisine. The essence of art is that it can be made relevant at any time—no matter how it is interpreted. I predict that a band like Integrity and its heritage will stand its ground not unlike mathematics.
“Rhythm of Decline” was written to be a duet with Dwid Hellion and recorded in the wee hours in the middle of nowhere after a debauched night. Immediately after the recording was done, with throats still hoarse the sails were set to travel on to Antwerp. Diamond city. Dwid Hellion. In 2001 he had reinvented himself as a gothic Diamond Dave Lee Roth. Cool—he was in imminent danger of freezing in one spot yet gregarious. I first met Dwid in the early ‘90s. Before meeting him I expected him to be troubled, thoughtful, aggressive, and defying people to like him. He was all of that but also so much more. A blade that cuts at least two ways. His emissions—be it music, artwork, or lyrics–have been a constant course of inspiration ever since. A nimble and agile thinker with a tempestuous temperament who loves the jokes.
With Spiggotry and in a variety of incarnations, we have roamed across three continents— from bunkers in Belgium via both coasts in North America to onsens in Japan. Anyone who thinks that Vegas would be what it is (or anything at all) has something wrong with his medulla oblongata and needs a quart of iodine in their thyroid gland. Vegas started off as an homage to Integrity. Ah, resorting to French means wiggling out of something – an infatuation becomes an amour fou or, in our case here, an outrageous rip-off an homage. French is the language of diplomatic evasion and insincerité.
Dwid influenced me on many levels. He still does. Not softening with age but calcifying. He suggested to make my own records and offered help. That was a wonderful thing to do, as much as I didn't want to.
"Rhythm of Decline" is a nasty song. You could describe this song as a Jacobean revenge tragedy, but a tragedy needs a hero and this song does not have one – despite the protagonist being at his most down beat. The question is whether or not there is enough heft behind its nastiness to have it qualify as something worthwhile rather than just a gut-spilling outburst of anger and resentment. You be the judge.