‘They forced their way into native settlements, slaughtering everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen. They even laid wagers on whether they could manage to slice a man in two at a stroke, or cut an individual’s head from his body, or disembowel him with a single blow of their axes. They grabbed suckling infants by the feet and, ripping them from their mothers’ breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks. Others, laughing and joking all the while, threw them over their shoulders into a river, shouting: ‘Wriggle, you little perisher.’ They slaughtered anyone and everyone in their path, on occasion running through a mother and her baby with a single thrust of their swords. They spared no one, erecting especially wide gibbets on which they could string their victims up with their feet just off the ground and then burn them alive thirteen at a time, in honour of our Saviour and the twelve Apostles, or tie dry straw to their bodies and set fire to it. Some they chose to keep alive and simply cut their wrists, leaving their hands dangling, saying to them: ‘Take this letter’ – meaning that their sorry condition would act as a warning to those hiding in the hills. The way they normally dealt with the native leaders and nobles was to tie them to a kind of griddle consisting of sticks resting on pitchforks driven into the ground and then grill them over a slow fire, with the result that they howled in agony and despair as they died a lingering death.’
We we’re at my studio and I had asked Jackson where the name CASAS came from. His answer was one I wasn’t prepared for, and am still reeling to wrap my head around.
Doom Metal and Noise Collective, CASAS, was formed as Jackson Kovalchik’s guttural reaction to learning the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition in Hispaniola.
Jackson then proceeded to put me on to the story of Bartolomé de las Casas, a 16th-century Spanish clergy, who originally traveled to Hispaniola in support of Spanish occupation, but after “seeing here cruelty on a scale no living being has ever seen or expects to see,” Casas began advocating against the slavery of natives and eventually Africans as well.
The depiction of brutality that these nations faced was so vividly described in Casas’s writings that the fall out for me personally has been a massive questioning of the capability of humans, the existence of God and what role we all play in all of this.
Jackson’s reaction to years of study in this field has led to a mutli-layered reaction – emotionally, physically and psychologically within himself. Admist everything, Kovalchik also realized his own white privilege in regard to the situation, and was intent on being careful not to academize Hispaniola. Though it was still nessecary for Kovalchik to react, to express, to flush out and release all he was feeling. To be human, emphasize, bring awareness and accountalbilty to mass social injustice and terror, whether past or present, is not only necessary for us to heal, but for all of us to grow.
To me, Jackson Kovalchik, and the formation of CASAS, wasn’t an attempt to be an advocate to social justice, or a figurehead in any kind of human rights movement. It is simple empathy in its most natural state. A person disgusted with the darkest evils of mankind that needed to scream out, to release.
I don’t have the answers, but I do know that regardless of what you believe, release is necessary. And that is why CASAS is necessary.
Check out the video for their first single ‘Heavy Yoke They Wore’ below, full EP out July 1st.