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Transgressive interview (03/2023)

With: Alicia Cordisco
Conducted by: RaduP (e-mail)
Published: 30.03.2023

Band profile:


Alicia Cordisco is a musician I've initially encountered from her huge contribution to Judicator, one that brought it close to the top of my favorite power metal bands (as seen here). In the meantime she left the band, revived Project: Roenwolfe, a brand of power metal that's blended with thrash, and also started a very politically outspoken thrash band called Transgressive, one whose EPs we covered in our Clandestine Cuts series, and whose full-length debut I very much enjoyed. Naturally I wanted to know a bit more about the entire thing, so I shot Alicia an email with some questions. Here's how it went.

R: I haven’t found a queerer thrash metal band than Transgressive. You might have a better overview than I do, but has queerness ever been a topic before in a genre as heavily political as thrash metal?

A: There was a Kreator song about queer rights! But as far as queer artists goes, I'm not familiar with any thrash artists, and I'm sure that's just due to my own ignorance. Most of the queer artists I know and love play hardcore/metalcore, punk, black metal, death metal, etc. G.L.O.S.S. is probably my favorite example of explicitly queer music and a huge influence on me – certainly their brand of hardcore punk is very close to thrash.

It’s obvious from how political Transgressive is that you’re not shy about speaking your mind about the issues that affect you. How do you find a balance between the focus on the message and the focus on the music as the vessel of the message?

A: It's an interesting question when you are intentionally focused on a vocal performance and lyrical message. I'd say compared to my other work, I let my rhythm guitar sit back a bit in this project so that I could focus on my vocals more, and also give Leona and Josh more room to show off their talents. Thrash is obviously riff focused as a genre, so it's not gone by any means, but if you compare to my power/thrash band there's obviously a lot more intricacy and focus on the rhythm guitar in that band.

R: How much humor can you inject into art about a very serious topic?

A: As long as you are punching up, not down, I think humor, and even irreverent humor has a place—definitely in satire. I think some of the humor I put into Transgressive is lost on certain people, but there is de finitely a decent use of irony, sarcasm, etc where appropriate. “Landlord Liquifier” is meant to be absurd and tongue in cheek. Wouldn't you know it, my view on landlords is more nuanced than 'Wouldn't it be funny if we threw them in a pool of lava?' But exaggerations and absurdities like that convey the point in a different way than being straight faced, and I enjoy that sometimes. Certainly, it's a very common convention of thrash metal.

R: What’s a sensible way to approach humor about the trans experience, when said “humor” has mostly been used to invalidate trans people?

A: Great question. I think a big part of it is just letting trans people be the funny ones. I see well meaning allies try to co-opt our humor and shitposting sometimes and it comes off very cringe. I'm thankful for the support and the buddy buddy nature of it, but it hits different when a cis person tries to be humorous in the way trans people are. If cis people are going to be humorous about trans experience, my suggestion would be to target bigots, politicians etc, from their own perspective. I've seen a few comedian do this quite successfully and it's honestly very wholesome when done well!

R: Do you think Slavoj Žižek would enjoy your music?

A: I imagine it would be similar to when Frank Herbert got a letter from Iron Maiden and wrote back that it was horrible noise and he didn't appreciate being associated with them. Lol.

R: Both Project: Roenwolfe and Transgressive seem to have had some short hiatus/split up periods according to Metal Archives. Can you tell us what was the cause for each of them?

A: Transgressive had a minor blip because we didn't originally plan to do anything after the first EP and I didn't think I wanted to continue. After some support of my friends and inner circle of musicians and a random jolt of inspiration, we decided to continue. Project: Roenwolfe had a split because I was very busy in Judicator and Patrick was very busy in life. I had left the band and he attempted to continue it and played live quite a bit, but ultimately didn't pan out. When things got a little more cleared up for both of us we originally discussed doing a new band, but ultimately the material (Edge Of Saturn – 2021) felt right at home in Project: Roenwolfe.

R: I have seen a fair share of metal done by trans women and non-binary folk, but I don’t think I can name any trans man musician. I have been informed that all trans musicians know each other, so surely you might be of help.

A: See that's a great example of being humorous as a cis person! Leaning into that ongoing joke that we all know each other and being self aware about how people ask that. Most would ask that question with zero sense of humor or irony. Gave me a good chuckle! I do in fact know trans men in music – here's a real fun one fronted by a trans man – queer ska.

R: When have you resigned yourself to the fact that a whole bunch of the interview questions that you’re gonna get are gonna be about being trans?

A: With Transgressive I expect it since it's such a big part of the band and something I intentionally want to speak about through it. It barely comes up in my other work, typically. My experience might be different though than others because I've been an active musician with a healthy amount of press long since before I came out. Not sure how much that affects it.

R: Let’s switch away from the trans topic for a second. You’re also a communist. Why do you hate America?

A: Does anyone truly love The United States? Even the hyper-patriotic conservatives sure seem to hate... you know, basically everyone that lives here, even people like them. I love the people of every country, including those that would imagine themselves my enemy. The proletariat all deserve liberation from tyranny, Imperialism, colonialism, etc regardless of their own individual views. I believe firmly in restorative justice... and also firmly in self defense. But back to your question, the United States is quite literally built on genocide and slavery, and that violence is upheld to this day through its capitalist, imperialist system. And it isn't just about injustice here – the US has been key in dismantling leftism across the world for 100 years now, and the overexploitation of the global south. We may not be the only country with blood on its hands, but we certainly are making a play for being the #1 contender.

R: I’m someone from the Eastern Bloc, and here people, especially the older ones, have had some nasty experiences with communism. Knowing full well the shitstorm this will start in the comments, how do we reconcile communism’s historical authoritarian applications?

A: It's important to realize this incredibly complex question would likely need a novel to answer it completely. Fortunately, Michael Parenti has written several excellent novels on exactly this subject and I recommend anyone who wants to genuinely learn the nuances of it check out his work—if you've already made your mind up though, I can't really help you. For my money, and I am certainly not a political expert, the truth of the matter is a stateless communism can't exist in this world as long as capitalism and Imperialism do. You would need a post-scarcity society... which, good luck, honestly. Even if major leftist revolutions occurred in multiple countries, they would still most likely take the form of socialist states that we've seen in the past, rather than utopian ideas of communist or anarchist end states. So what that means is, despite that socialism and communism in the old day lifted multiple countries out of poverty, and drastically improved the lives of 100's of millions of people, they were also susceptible to the the very intentional sabotage of the capitalist west, driving once socialist states like Russia, China, Korea, etc into different forms of authoritarianism, to the point where today they don't look drastically different from the US itself and are communist in name only. As long as capitalism exists, any socialist, communist, or truly leftist country would have to have a state structure, hierarchy, and defense against this--lest they end up like the Paris Commune--and they would be at odds with capitalism. Unfortunately in the case of our world, capitalism essentially won against all major budding socialist/communist states of the 19th century. To maybe address the nature of the question you asked better, it is extremely tragic that people suffered in these countries and these events, but they suffered due to capitalist and western interference and their states reactions against that. As we all continue to suffer under similar circumstance today.

I also will say I believe in leftist cooperation. There are many types of communists. And while I largely identify with much of Marxism/Leninism and even Maoism, I believe a truly ideal leftist future would not look like any of these. It would be something new built on multiple aspects and ideologies of the past. I try not to subscribe wholesale to a belief dogmatically, but understand situationally where they apply, how they compliment each other, and the merits of avoiding leftist infighting for the sake of working towards a better future, even if we can't define 1:1 every bit of what that future may be. Even if that future never comes, even if it's hopeless, I still believe in working for better and helping the people around us. We're alive, for now, and we have lives to live. The important thing is no matter what atrocities are occurring, that we take care of our communities, our friends, and our families, and we view the whole world as our neighbor and don't leave anyone behind—all of us or none of us. Kindness carries all through even the darkest of times. And that matters to me more than any singular political belief. I don't raise money for trans rights because I'm a communist, or anarchist, or socialist. I try to raise money, make queer art, voice messages of solidarity, oppose oppressive ideologies, etc because it helps people, and helping people is the right thing to do. Direct action will always matter more than political theory in my book.

R: Having played quite a few of metal’s subgenres, I don’t think it’s a surprise that you chose thrash as your vessel for your most political project. Outside of the lineage of each subgenre, why do you think each subgenre works better at being political than others? And why do you think black metal is the one that is most divided between the political extremes?

A: Black metal is an inherently divisive genre. The point of it, for many, was to be extremely counter cultural, to cause shock, and to oppose more conventional forms of metal music. You can see this in the very nature of the music, especially second wave, in how it is played, produced, presented—almost completely antithetical to the technical and progressive and highly musical directions thrash and death metal were going at the time. Why is it so divided? Because what I just said about it is vague as hell—it could mean anything. There is a leftist version of that, and there is a reactionary/right wing version of that. And we've seen many examples of both. I think this is why there is a specifically Nazi element in black metal and NSBM exists as a sub genre. But I also think this is why RABM exists. I'm not a black metal person, but I do think this is a unique trait of black metal. This is quite different than ay thrash and punk where right wing ideologies simply do not fit in (despite that some exists) because punk—which also heavily influenced thrash—was born very specifically into leftist, particularly anarchist, ideas. The specificity of punk and thrash limited the window of entry by reactionaries. Or say trad and power where the major focus has been to be escapist and focus on fantastical elements or celebrations of heavy metal itself. Black metal is so much more nebulous in its counter-cultural structure, and people from every walk of life have filled its borders, for better and for worse.

Personally, I would not expect to see me play black metal earnestly any time soon, and I'm not a huge fan in general although there is a bit I enjoy. Much respect and love to my MANY friends that do play and love it though. I'll keep holding down the fort in thrash, doom, and heavy/power instead. When I think metal, I think Judas fucking Priest and I'm not changing... ever.

R: I feel like I focused a bit too much on the “trans” part of your trans woman identity and not enough on the actual “woman” part. A lot of metal’s relationship with womanhood was pretty complicated, from often feeling like a boy’s club, or one where metal that is more emotional (see HIM) would make it seen as “metal for girls”, or one where sex appeal is still seen as one of a woman musician’s significant qualities (see numerous mentions on Maria Brink’s Wikipedia page about being voted among the “hottest chicks in metal”, no mentions about her vocal styles), or the entire distinction of female-fronted metal. How have you viewed both in the past and since being openly a woman in metal?

A: The term 'female-fronted metal' is outdated, sexist, and functionally useless. It thrives on the understanding of a period where women-in-metal was highly exploitative. I won't list of the cliches—we know them—and I'm glad to see it's considered very cringe for people to lean into that these days. While I won't say things are on an even footing, it seems progress has moved quit far for the acceptance of cis, straight, white women in metal to be more empowered and accepted and on equal footing with their male peers in both industry and audience acceptance. However, all things being intersectional, we still have a long way to go as a medium for the acceptance of women of color, especially Black and Indigenous women, who are numerous in our ranks if you just pay attention, but get barely a percentage of the opportunities, visibility, and credit. Same applies to queer—especially trans—women although that can be applied to men and non-binary folks as well and is not just an issue of women in metal. The point is intersectional focus is needed in all directions, and we have a long way to go for equality in metal—but things are different now than when I was a kid, and I'd like to think for the better. I'd like to see that continue. And if we could also focus on more than just vocalists that wouldn't hurt too!!

R: New Project: Roenwolfe when??

A: June 2nd via Syrup Moose records! Pre-orders go live 3/31!

R: Anything else you'd like to add?

A: Thank you so much for the interview! This was a fun one!

Posted on 30.03.2023 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.

Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 39   Visited by: 340 users
09.04.2023 - 09:50
X-Ray Rod
Written by Ivy Patterns on 08.04.2023 at 19:37
Welp, at least we know who the commie sympathizers are in this thread.

Would you be so kind as to pointing them out for me, then?
Because the people who have been most involved in this thread (including nikarg, Starvynth, musclassia and Zαforαs) have all said that they are not communists and/or that they heavily disapprove of several points made by the musician interviewed.
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29
Like you could kiss my ass
Written by Milena on 20.06.2012 at 10:49
Rod, let me love you.
09.04.2023 - 15:53
Troy Killjoy
Not to sound like I'm issuing a backhanded compliment, but this is the most interesting interview you've done, Radu. It was thought-provoking and engaging and you can tell Cordisco enjoyed taking part in it.

All I will add to this is that I listened to a couple tracks and it gave me the immediate impression that the emphasis of this project is focused on political messages rather than the quality of music, which is unsurprising given how radical her views are. She even claims as much when referencing the rhythm guitar. Unless she can strike a balance between what she wants to say and how she wants to say it, I don't think there's anything here for me.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."
09.04.2023 - 17:27
SoUnDs LiKe PoP

Written by RaduP on 09.04.2023 at 09:35

Written by SoUnDs LiKe PoP on 09.04.2023 at 02:36

At least they are better than Reddit or other sites where disagreeing with mods is a bannable offense.

As hot as the debate here is, I'm glad things were still kept civil. No throwing insults around, no person being transphobic towards the interviewee. The banhammer is reserved for worse offenses.

Metal is a difficult topic to moderate. You have bands that are extremely blasphemous (particularly anti-Christian), songs about raping corpses and butchering babies, etc. I do think that there are massive double standards around the whole "Nazi" thing, but aside from that, metalheads of all political orientations are generally pretty civil and level-headed compared to what you'd find in other corners of the internet.
I lift weights and listen to metal
10.04.2023 - 04:24
i c deaf people
Written by mz on 07.04.2023 at 21:50

I've been a member of this website for almost 15 years now, and have never violated any of the community rules. I consider it my duty to respect the rule of a forum that provides services to me for me. However, I do not think that means I have no right to suggest some modifications.

And that's exactly why I quoted you.
I value your opinion because you have high moral standards and you seem to be frank and truthful person. These are basic requirements for a reasonable discussion, which not everyone has.
You're of course welcome to make suggestions. However, your complaints about the deletion of the Silencer profile did not sound like a well-intentioned suggestion for improvement, but rather a lack of understanding of one of the basic rules of this site.

Written by mz on 07.04.2023 at 21:50
I guess you consider glorifying Mao different from glorifying his actions then. […] I'd just add that a person loving Stalin or Mao also cant claim that they disapprove of the dictatorship they made, and the killing process they managed.

Please read the interview and my comment again, but carefully. No one in this thread has glorified Mao, no one has claimed to love Stalin or Mao, and absolutely no one has tried to justify their cruelties.

Written by mz on 07.04.2023 at 21:50
This here I think is the fundamental difference between us. When it comes to politics, consequences outweigh intentions by a large margin for me.

And exactly therein lies your error in reasoning, because with National Socialism intention and consequence are identical with each other. Both in practice and in theory, National Socialism is synonymous with the extermination of the Jews. This is not an intended or unintended concomitant, it's the ultimate goal ("Endlösung") of Nazism. There is no philosophical underpinning to National Socialism that can be interpreted differently or that would lead to a different result in practice. National Socialism was racism, is racism, and always will be racism. That is an indisputable fact.

You cannot imagine that a communist form of society, which focuses on the well-being of the whole people, is actually enforceable - and neither can I. But Alicia Cordisco can imagine it. You equate her naivety with the atrocities of communist leaders from the past. You might as well make the claim that every Christian automatically approves of the Crusades, the Inquisition, and witch burnings.

Talking about intentions... Do you really want to insinuate Cordisco that she - just like Mao, Lenin, and Stalin - would destroy human lives just to enforce her ideological conviction?

For the record, this is what she actually said:

The important thing is no matter what atrocities are occurring, that we take care of our communities, our friends, and our families, and we view the whole world as our neighbor and don't leave anyone behind—all of us or none of us. Kindness carries all through even the darkest of times. And that matters to me more than any singular political belief. I don't raise money for trans rights because I'm a communist, or anarchist, or socialist. I try to raise money, make queer art, voice messages of solidarity, oppose oppressive ideologies, etc because it helps people, and helping people is the right thing to do. Direct action will always matter more than political theory in my book.

I cannot spot the slightest malicious intent or any threat in these words.

Written by mz on 07.04.2023 at 21:50
Oh man, I guess this boils down to the environments each of us gets its media/ news/ etc from.
My intake comes mostly from the English-speaking world, so I might be blinded to the holocaust deniers from European Union and especially Germany.
I do not know any person denying Holocaust that is not considered a pure crackpot and/or a genuinely evil person. The same cant be said about the victims of communism: Noam Chomsky is the intellectual and academic hero for much of the left and wrote a whole goddamn book denying the Cambodian genocide. I'd genuinely like to read about parallel cases denying the holocaust that receive similar treatment so please give me some names.

This is wrong on so many levels that I don't even know where to begin.

Let's start with the obvious: Holocaust denial is not a current German or an exclusively European problem, but an old and worldwide phenomenon.
In all German-speaking countries, but also in 14 other European countries and in Canada, Holocaust denial is considered a criminal offense. Despite this, there are at least 20 books, dozens of academic papers, several documentaries and hundreds of YouTube videos and websites devoted exclusively to the subject of denying or distorting the Holocaust, minimizing the number of victims and calling the gas chambers of the concentration camps a myth. Most of it was published in the English-speaking world, because in the US and UK Holocaust denial is not prosecuted.

Did you really mean to say that you primarily rely on English news sources, but you are not aware of the vast extent of Holocaust denial? Well, then that's just bizarre.

So, here's the link to an (incomplete) list of about 250 well-known Holocaust deniers, including renowned scientists, several best-selling authors, university professors of all fields of knowledge, musicians, actors, comedians, journalists, lawyers, judges, a former beauty queen, a porn actress, high-ranking politicians and diplomats, sociologists, historians, state-sponsored organizations, recognized philosophers, religious leaders and church dignitaries - and several heads of state.

Does the name Bobby Fischer ring a bell? Well, for most people he was not a crackpot, but a genius grandmaster and the World Chess Champion from 1972-1975. That he was also a Holocaust denier is just a footnote in his biography. The list linked above is packed with "normal" people like him.

Your assertion that all Holocaust deniers are considered to be nutcases by most of society has no ground. Fact is, many people don't even know that Holocaust denial is still a world-wide movement with thousands of supporters, probably even more.

Do you really want to claim that there's a halfway comparable, current movement that downplays the atrocities of communist tyranny?
Then please prove it.

That you cite Noam Chomsky, of all people, as an example of a denier of communist cruelties baffles me, to say the least. This "intellectual and academic hero for much of the left", as you call him, is nothing but a hypocrite in my eyes. His statements on Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, based on sloppy research and ideological bias, caused quite a scandal in large parts of the Western world and even 20 years later he still had to justify himself in this regard and relativize old claims. The same applies to his assessment of the genocides in the Bosnian war, which he does not recognize as such.

However, it's almost amusing that Chomsky was close friends with Holocaust denier Serge Thion, that he signed a petition in defense of the free speech of French neo-Nazi Robert Faurisson (also a Holocaust denier), and that he publicly expressed solidarity with Vincent Reynouard (Holocaust denier #3).
Seriously, you absolutely should do better research and broaden your sources of information. If Chomsky is your best example for left-wing fueled historical distortion, then you're rendering your complete chain of arguments ad absurdum.

Written by mz on 07.04.2023 at 21:50
Similarly, please refer to the debate between Sartre and Camus, where Sarte, one of the most "respected" intellectuals of the 20 century to this day, supports the violence of Stalin, as “terror becomes revolutionary justice”, This is of course not exactly denying the victim of communism, it is justifying the killings, which is even worse.
Interestingly, Sarte won a Nobel prize in literature. Compare his status and the treatment he receives to this day to that of another Nobel prize winner, James Watson, who has been rightly shunned by much of the scientific world and the media because of his racist views. There is no world in which claiming a race is less intelligent than another is worse than actually supporting the mass killing of millions. If the case of these two guys is not indicative of the double standard, then I'm not sure what the double standard means.

This is again a very strange argument, as Sartre was a fierce critic of Stalinism since the Hungarian Uprising, and yet he was criticized from both the right and the left at almost every time of his political activity. Since I don't have the slightest sympathy for Sartre for various reasons, I honestly don't care at all which groups consider him a respected intellectual.
The fact that he was awarded a Nobel Prize (which, by the way, he never accepted) is also irrelevant to me, and it's completely irrelevant to this discussion.
That the homophobic racist James Watson received a Nobel Prize 60 years ago would be interesting if it had been a Nobel Prize for moral sense and ethical behaviour - but it was a Nobel Prize in Medicine. Since subject-specific intelligence is not a panacea for racism, this too has very little to do with the subject at hand.

I honestly don't know what you're even trying to accomplish.
What do all these people, born on average a hundred years ago, who have never played in any metal band and whom Radu will therefore never interview, have to do with the double standards you accuse Metal Storm of?
signatures = SPAM
10.04.2023 - 12:12

Hey Radu, Noam Chomsky interview when?
10.04.2023 - 12:23
Written by nikarg on 10.04.2023 at 12:12

Hey Radu, Noam Chomsky interview when?

Ask SSUS to contact his agent.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
26.04.2023 - 14:16
I'm sure glad that I stayed out of this discussion. Entertaining interview, even if I don't agree with basically everything in it, even more entertaining comments.
27.04.2023 - 21:11
Written by nikarg on 10.04.2023 at 12:12

Hey Radu, Noam Chomsky interview when?

Now THAT would be fascinating.
28.04.2023 - 13:19
Written by Daniell on 27.04.2023 at 21:11

Written by nikarg on 10.04.2023 at 12:12

Hey Radu, Noam Chomsky interview when?

Now THAT would be fascinating.

Hey Noah, I haven't read ANY of your books. If you could get any living director to direct a movie based on one of your books, who would it be?
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?

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