For nearly two decades, The Sixth Chamber has been gracing the metal music scene with heavy riffs, mesmerizing rhythms and haunting lyrics that transport listeners to a dark, mythological realm. The band’s sound delivers an intoxicating blend of 70s rock, psychedelia and goth metal interspersed with exotic embellishments. I got to see these self-declared “denizens of otherworldly realms” perform live recently at the iconic Rainbow Bar & Grill on the Sunset Strip for an energy-fueled show.
One of the endearing qualities of this West Hollywood venue is the intimacy of the space. Live entertainment takes place on the upper level of the establishment, a haven welcoming all creatures of the night. I perched myself in a corner overlooking the stage, which gave a fantastic view of the band and their set-up. On this night, The Sixth Chamber was joined by lauded keyboardist Alan St. John who’s known for his work with Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop.
The reverberation of guitars, drums and synths filled the room as they began to play the first song of the night, “This Hallowed Chamber,” which is newer material the band’s been working on. Front man and founder of the group, Rahne Pistor, led the way with vocals. Draped in black with an all-seeing third eye drawn on his forehead, he exuded quite the stage presence. His voice possesses a quality that brought to mind David Bowie and even Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters of Mercy. It’s a sound that captures the macabre nature of the music—dark and evocative.
The momentum of the performance escalated with each track. In addition to pieces such as “Walpurgis Night,” which emitted absolute vampiric vibes, they also played “Entrance to the Cold Waste.” Pistor began by reading from a scroll that warned of the perils of a far-off, mythical land, then the rock n’ roll commenced. The group filmed a video for this song, which I recommend you all to check out. It features belly dancer and goth model Mahafsoun and Stanton LaVey, grandson of Church of Satan creator Anton LaVey.
The band mates jammed so well together, and I can’t emphasize enough how each member collectively created a dynamic atmosphere pleasing to any metal head and nocturnal being alike.
In the following interview with Rahne Pistor, the lead vocalist was gracious enough to give an inside look into the mysteries of The Sixth Chamber.
Q: I read that the band’s name was inspired by William Blake’s poem “The Marriage of Heaven & Hell” in which the sixth chamber is described as a library filled with books. What convinced you that the moniker “The Sixth Chamber” would best represent the group’s aesthetic?
A: The band name was chosen from my personal interpretation of a passage in 18th-century British artist and mystic William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.” In my view, The Sixth Chamber is the library in Hell where all of the world’s deepest secrets are kept. I also liked the idea of ghostly, echo-filled ancient chamber with all of its spectral history and looming apparitions that seem to linger through its hallowed halls. Occasionally we are able to closely match the original vision I had for the band in sound, with slow, haunting and hypnotic songs like “Jump Into the Flames” and the soon to be recorded “Blood of the Prophet”.
Q: Continuing with how literature has influenced the band, looking through the lyrics, they read like poems. One track named “Paradise Lost” made me immediately think of John Milton who, interestingly enough, Blake admired. Where do you find inspiration when writing songs?
A: “Paradise Lost” is an early Sixth Chamber track from 2003 from our first full length album Crippled Souls, that was unavailable for many years but now available on all the usual places people get music. When I first wrote the song, I got accused of stealing the title from the band Paradise Lost. I had never heard of that band back then when I wrote it! And of course I actually stole it from Milton not from the band! Not that it matters, but just to clarify for accuracy’s sake where and how the theft occurred, haha.
I sometimes get inspiration for songs from gothic literature like Poe or Lovecraft or Walpole. I recently wrote a song inspired by Bram Stoker and John William Polidori and the related vampire lore which seems to be a new crowd favorite when we play it live. However, my lyrics can be inspired by just about anything and then I tend to dress them up in a phantasmic, escapist sort of fashion.
There’s a really deep sounding song by the band Cream called “We’re Going Wrong” that seems like a sorrowful analysis of the world condition and that perhaps it addresses some of the weightier aspects of the human plight, that just leaves the listener with a colossal sense of awe. One time an interviewer asked Jack Bruce what the song was about, and he was like, oh it was just about an argument with my girlfriend I had one day. Which shows you can really get inspiration for a song from anywhere, even in mundane things, and where you decide to take it is what defines you as an artist. Also, I’ll let out a secret that many writers can attest to. There are several people in my sphere whom I’ve met over the years that have songs about them, at least in a composite sense, and don’t even know it!
Q: So, let’s talk about The Sixth Chamber’s sound. Who have been some of your greatest influences musically?
A: I think knowledge of music history and influences are good just as a skeletal structure or the basic outline of a road map for artists. It’s crucial to find your own original voice if your music is gonna be anything special.
Off the top of my head bands that I view as monumental in my development include Candlemass, Type O Negative, Christian Death, Shadow Project, Danzig, Black Sabbath, Dead Can Dance, Rainbow, Uriah Heep, Iron Butterfly, Cream, Mountain, Deep Purple, 1960s and 1970s David Bowie and Moonspell. My friend described The Sixth Chamber as Dead Can Dance meets ZZ Top. I’m not sure how accurate that is but I had to laugh really hard when I heard that one!
Q: You play the guitar and do vocals. How did you get your start in the rock music scene?
A: I grew up as a little kid in New Jersey hearing metal and classic rock on the radio. Then as a teen I was a punk rocker and wound up playing bass for a while with The Undead, which is the band Bobby Steele led after he was kicked out of The Misfits. It was a really transformative experience, we played CBGB and places around New York and New Jersey. After that I moved to Los Angeles and formed The Sixth Chamber. We played our first show live on KXLU in 2002 and then the next night opened for Saccharine Trust and the Chuck Dukowski Sextet at now-defunct venue called the Westchester Grille.
Q: On the band’s YouTube channel, the video for the track “Into the Unknown” features footage from your trip to Egypt, which looks amazing! What prompted you to make that voyage, besides the incredible ancient pyramids?
A: I have a years-long history of traveling to exotic world locations with one of the primary purposes being to explore ancient ruins and culture. I went to Egypt to learn more about the ancient Egyptian pantheon, pay homage to the ancient mythic deities of Egypt and explore the thousands-year-old Egyptian mysteries. I am also very interested in Egyptian music and belly dance and saw some truly incredible performances by both widely known and little-known acts.
I started in Cairo and went to ancient Memphis, Saqqara, Djoser and Abu Sir. I was able to visit 18 different pyramids and then travel to Luxor, Aswan and all the way down the Nile to the colossal Ramses temple at Abu Simbel. Luxor was truly astounding, with the gargantuan Karnak and Luxor Temples, the Valley of the Kings and scattered underground tombs and the various magical temple outposts such as Medinet Habu and Deir el-Medina. I got at least one song written out of the experience, a new track called “Necropolis” that we are looking forward to recording soon.
Q: What projects and/or appearances does The Sixth Chamber have planned next?
A: Starting to track some of the above-mentioned songs, writing new songs and playing selective gigs, special events and festivals that are worthy of the decades-long soul-wrenching efforts we put into our music and our craft.
Missed your chance to witness this last show? The band will be performing next on April 17th at Runway 24L Lounge in Hawthorne, California, as part of the 420 Shock Glam Goth Show. Get details here.
Plus, find out about upcoming shows at Rainbow Bar & Grill at their official website.