Phil "Land Phil" Hall has had the type of varied career in the metal world that most artists dream of.
Long-time bassist for crossover-thrash mainstays Municipal Waste, creative force behind ganja-themed death metal slayers Cannabis Corpse, and key cog in speed-driven Iron Reagan, Hall has flexed plenty of muscles in his time.
Now he’s adding black metal artist to his heavy bingo card.
Hall, alongside longtime bandmate and drummer Dave Witte (Municipal Waste, Discordance Axis) and vocalist Mathias "Vreth" Lillmåns (Finntroll, …And Oceans) released their debut album as Morbikon, Ov Mournful Twilight, earlier this fall through Tankcrimes, paying homage to Scandinavia's second wave of black metal, and melodic death metal scene of the 90s.
“That's what I got into first,” Hall shared of his love of bands like Emperor and Immortal in a recent sitdown with Metal Injection. “You know, I found out about the first wave of black metal later, but I had friends in high school and middle school that were into Emperor and Immortal. I was exposed to those things first. So that's really what left an impression on me, that feeling that I had first getting into metal and listening to those bands and how dynamic and crazy those records were from start to finish.
“You know, at the time I'd only heard like Cannibal Corpse or something, so once I heard all these other elements added, it blew my mind. It's like, Oh yeah, you can do whatever you want with extreme metal. You don't have to stick to just guitars and drums and you can do anything you want. There's no limits. So that's the fun part about black metal, you can really go all out with anything you can really think of."
For Hall, who takes a hands on approach to the bulk of his artistic endeavors, enlisting Finntroll ace Vreth happened by fateful happenstance.
“At the time I was also working on my animation project for Morbikon, and I had seen that Finntroll had also released this animated video and that's what kind of got them on my radar. And Finntroll has really good music. Some people might get thrown by the name and sort of the ears and the thing that they do, but they have some pretty solid black metal tunes," Hall explains.
"But anyway, that cartoon, I saw it, and then he came up on my social media feed just randomly, and I was like, Oh, well, maybe I should ask him to record the vocals for this record. And he got right back to me, and once he found out Dave Witte was involved he was into it. And what he delivered was great.
"You know, me and my co-writer had already written the vocal patterns and the lyrics, and he just kind of rerecorded that. But he did also add his own flair to certain things and his own ideas. So I'm thankful for his involvement with the project because his vocals are great.”
While Municipal Waste remain a touring juggernaut, Hall shares that he’d love to perform live with Morbikon in the not-too-distant future, with both Vreth and Dave Witte enthusiastic about the idea.
“I’m trying to get the live band together for Morbikon,” he shared. “I've got some great musicians lined up and Dave Witte is on board. So we'll try to get some shows together. We really want to make sure that we deliver the goods on that. And I believe we can. It'll be fun to challenge ourselves and play songs that are seven minutes long.”
Hot on the heels of the release of their seventh studio album Electrified Brain, Municipal Waste hits the road this winter with metal vets High On Fire, continuing their impressive run of mixing it up with varied artists on tour.
“We can play metal shows and we can also do like punk rock shows and hardcore shows. That's one of the great parts about Municipal Waste for sure,” Hall shared. “We'll be the most metal band at Punk Rock Bowling, or we'll be the most hardcore band at some death metal festival or something, you know? So it's a great musical genre. It's just diverse. You can do whatever you want.”
Though the band’s most recent record remains firmly in view, Hall took a moment to reflect on the 15th anniversary of Municipal Waste’s breakthrough third studio album The Art of Partying.
“You know, things were starting to happen with Municipal Waste at that time, and The Art of Partying was definitely the record that everything felt like pedal to the metal. You know, we had a lot of success with Hazardous Mutation before that. But then once The Art of Partying came out, I feel like things started really happening.”
And of course a one-on-one with Hall wouldn’t be complete without status updates on the raddest reefer monsters of Cannabis Corpse.
“Yeah, I'm kicking around some ideas,” Hall shared of his dope-death hybrid, whose last studio album dropped in 2019. “It's something that's close to me. It's also another baby of mine. And I'm sure in the future I'll get around to writing another brutal death metal album.
"But at the present moment my focus is more on Morbikon and playing shows with Municipal Waste and we also put out that record this year. There's always things to do, always things happening. So I'm sure I'll find some free time eventually to fire it up again.”
As for crossover thrash supergroup Iron Reagan, Hall had little in the way of an update to the radio-silence surrounding the band since early 2020, when bassist Rob Skotis was ejected from the group due to allegations of predatory behavior.
“Everything's pretty quiet on that front at the moment. I don't really have any news to give you on that front,” Hall admits, agreeing that the band provided some kick-ass moments across their existence to this point. “Yeah, It was a good time. We did that band for about six years. And we were fortunate enough to have a lot of great opportunities, and it was a good time.”
Whether thrashing with Municipal Waste, shredding with Cannabis Corpse or bringing the blackness with Morbikon, Hall is most content when diving into the art of creation.
“I just love making music and writing and creating new albums is my favorite part about being in a band,” he says honestly. “Working with Tony [Foresta] for all these years, he definitely has particular things that he's into. And so I try to sort of create the vibes that he designs. And with Cannabis Corpse, that was really me just trying to make the most brutal thing I could, and with the weed imagery.
“I thought that adding the weed element to the theme and to the name would just make it different from all the death metal bands out there. I thought to myself I could name it something that's typical and it would just get lumped into the gigantic ever growing pile of death metal bands out there. But naming it Cannabis Corpse would kind of just make people look at it twice, maybe. But with Morbikon I'm glad to start a new thing and it feels real fresh. And to me it's just bright and shiny and new.”
Catch Municipal Waste on tour with High On Fire, Gel, and Early Moods this December
12/1 Hampton Beach, NH – Wally’s
12/2 Brattleboro, VT – The Stone Church
12/3 Hartford, CT – The Webster Theater
12/4 Patchogue, NY – 89 North
12/6 Asbury Park, NJ – House of Independents
12/7 Mechanicsville, PA – Lovedraft’s Brewing Co
12/8 Virginia Beach, VA – Elevation 27
12/9 Greenville, NC – The State Theatre
12/10 Columbia, SC – The Senate
12/11 Tampa, FL – The Orpheum