lauantai 24. joulukuuta 2011
Deadlines and zines don’t really match, and occasionally it’s the same with deadlines and (death) metal albums. While the second Necros Christos album doesn’t compare to Sadistic Intent’s debut album, it did arrive one and a half years behind its original release date of 9/9/09. For me, the album itself was a slight disappointment with perhaps too many slow songs for my taste. At any rate, 73 minutes of doomy death metal is quite a dose to take.
I thought today was the most fitting day to publish a Necros Christos interview, so here you go.
"From the Kingly Womba"
An interview with Mors Dalos Ra of Necros Christos.
Originally published in Imperiumi.net, March 2011.
Salâm! Even though Triune Impurity Rites was not your normal debut album that is merely a compilation of older demo-era songs, it did include several songs from your demos. How much different was the writing process now that you could start from a clean table?
- Salam Antti. Actually, the plan was to use at least one old song for Doom of the Occult as well which would have been Baptized by the black Urine of the Deceased. I had come up with a totally new arrangement, but luckily, we decided to go for new tracks only. Most of the album material came as a constant flow over the past years, so it would have been an unacceptable interruption to use older songs this time though.
I reckon the first release date for Doom of the Occult was set for 9/9/09, which would've been a great date symbolically, but in the end we didn't get the new album until more than a year later. Now that the album is done, however, what is the topmost feeling after a consuming process? Relief?
- Yes indeed, relief and feeling totally exhausted. The recording sessions seemed to have no fucking end and as soon as we had finished a song, another important detail emerged. ”Shit, we have to do this as well...”, ”Fuck, the bell is missing here and we still need the organ introduction for the choir...” etc., etc. Honestly, I had even more ideas in mind as for example a sitar which should do some fill-ins in Pyramid of Shakti Love, but we had to get the record out as we were far beyond our deadline and working under pressure just forced us to focus on the most important details instead of getting lost in our own inspirations and visions.
As much as I think Doom of the Occult is an improvement on Triune Impurity Rites as a whole, at first I was slightly disappointed that stylistically it was pretty much the same as the debut. On further listening it reveals some intricate stylistic differences, such as the slightly slower tempo in the songs, certain arrangements and the somewhat different (and in my opinion better and more profound) gates and temples. But in the very least the albums are constructed in a similar way, nine ”proper” songs, 23 tracks overall. How would you comment on the biggest differences between the two albums?
- Oh, honestly, I think that even Metal-wise, it differs a lot from TIR. We adapted more techniques as power chords and palm mute riffs which simply cannot be found on TIR where we used tons of single note riffs mostly. Also, nearly every song from our first album was in the same key to reach this mantra-like flow. On DOTO, we changed keys all the time and build far greater, monumental arrangements while not getting back to the same song structure all the time. Overall, the concept is even more over the top than that of TIR.
- The new record is built over the 9-branched candelabrum the Jews use for Chanukka, although the content on Doom... should not be linked with that special event in Jewish history. The candelabrum works as an architectonic form of getting the mass together with every Metal song representing one of the 9 flames of Necros Christos dominum. Hearing those flames means bringing this entity to rise from its shadowed tomb and soon the world shall know what Doom of the Occult is all about ...
And as a continuation to the previous question: unlike for most bands, the shape and form of the album – the way it's constructed and built – seems to be of great significance to Necros Christos. I'm assuming you've built the album like this to serve a spiritual function, but how important actually is this form for you?
- As you can imagine, it’s all and everything. Necros Christos never was meant to release ordinary (Death) Metal albums only, even our demos were different from what the standard listener was used to be...
Necros Christos songs and the album concepts (the form!) are very carefully arranged, which is pretty rare for a death metal band. In fact, I think it borders on feeling controlled in some respects. Nasko of Teitanblood had this to say about the need for control or the lack thereof in death metal: ”The idea of controlled Death Metal sounds like a gentle and affectionate Rapist.” Would you say Necros Christos is controlled in any sense of the word?
- It’s both, controlled in music, arrangement and structure, uncontrolled it its spiritual path and what powers it invokes...
As different Necros Christos and Teitanblood are, you also share some common ground, in my opinion. However, one aspect that makes you very different is the aspect of musicianship and professionalism. We know that you, among other things, teach guitar. I guess it’s obvious how the gates and temples are affected by your theoretical knowledge and experience of different sorts of music, but how are the death metal songs affected by it? Have you ever considered that knowledge a limitation when composing such instinctual music as death metal?
- None of the songs nor the gates had been affected by my theoretical knowledge. I never would compose like ”Oh, the verse is in b flat so the bridge must rise to the dominat being in F” or things like that, everything appears as a constant flow of melodies, harmonies, and riffs. Teitanblood and Necros Christos indeed share a lot of things spiritually as Nasko belongs to my closest friends since the very early years of NC.
I promise this is the last Teitanblood reference ... I think one important thing that Necros Christos shares with TTNBLD is the way your song titles and lyrics have a sort of two-way appeal. Songs like Necromantique Nun or Impure Burials Prevail, for example, can appeal on a more primitive/carnal (or tangible/concrete) level but they also reveal something deeper. It's hard to explain, but I hope you understand what I'm getting at. Would you say it is important for you to show both sides to what you do: the theory and the practice?
- I know exactly what you mean when talking about a rather profound lyric and then using a title as Necromantique Nun. But we should not forget that this is Heavy Metal my friend and no matter how well thought-out or intellectual the lyric would be, those songs are meant to be played live and should be remembered. A more or less simple title can be way more effective and intoxicating as opposed to using the highest English grammar... At least this is my opinion.
I guess you were one of the influential bands when it comes to calling live gigs as ”rituals.” Suffice to say, this term is being used very lightly in the metal context these days. How would you define magic and ritual in the context of Necros Christos? And has the meaning of those two changed during the existence of NC?
- No, no changes at all. Our magic is based and rooted in our music. Our sermons are the rituals of past, present and future who give birth to the grand Necros Christos.
I was intrigued by the magical garbs you sported at your Helsinki show last year. They made me think of the East, the Orient, Voodoo... All sorts of things that aren't Western. In fact, as effective as the reverend outfits from a couple of year ago were, I get to think that these new ones suit the big picture of Necros Christos better. They somehow reflect the growth and conceptual development that you've made from Triune Impurity Rites to Doom of the Occult. How would you comment?
- Precisely Antti, and thanks a lot for noticing. My own ritual garment for example is originally from Turkey and I was blown away when I found it. Regarding the big Middle Eastern influence the album has, it for sure goes hand in hand with the music. By the way, I doubt there are many people as you who seem to like those garments, I can imagine that this is another thing (alongside all the acoustic music we deliver) that is way too much for the ordinary Death Metal disciple to take, haha.
This development sees Necros Christos to certain extent abandon Biblical references (the more obvious references anyway – Christ is barely mentioned, for example!) and push the necromantic aspect more to the front. That's a very basic (perhaps somewhat base) summary of how I see the lyrical development from TIR to DotO. Earlier in the interview we discussed the biggest musical differences between TIR and DotO, but how would you characterise the differences in the conceptual/lyrical approach between the two albums?
- Interesting question, although the biblical references are still there when talking about Necromantique Nun and Invoked from Carrion Slumber. Both deal with the dark tale of the witch of En-Dor (1. Samuel 28, 7–13), who seemed to haunt tombs and summoned up the dead in ancient Palestine. May you read:
“Then said Saul unto his servants, seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and inquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at En-Dor … and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night ...Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? … and she cried with a loud voice … And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? ... I saw Gods ascending out of the earth.”
- Regarding the middle flame, the titles says it all I guess with Doom of Kali Ma, Pyramid of Shakti Love and Flame of Master Shiva. This massive opus even features more Indian words than English due to the incredible help with translation of Kunal Choksi from Diabolical Conquest India. The last four tracks of the record deal with ancient Egypt, its rites of death and the secret mysteries of the Pharaonic soul.
Alright, then a totally different kind of question: a year or two ago there were some talks about releasing the Necros Christos demos on vinyl. Is this still a work in progress or have you abandoned the idea entirely?
- I see no need to do so. We have just released a fantastic album, who needs the old demos anyway?
And then the last epic question is about .... death. A quote from a TIR review (in Oaken Throne 'zine #6) reads: ”Rather than inspiring a frenzied state, however, TIR's ritual libation slowly hypnotizes the listener with seductive, sometimes gruesome, but utterly intoxicating funerary notes. Here, death is not the violent and murderous end described by so many DM bands, but a prolonged transitional state: death as dormancy, quietus.” (I get what the reviewer is saying, though, as this reminds me of some of the riffs in Invoked from Carrion Slumber, for example.) As I was reading that the other day, I got to thinking about what CCOTN from Grave Miasma said about death: ”There is more spirit and life in the remains of a mummified corpse than any modern interpretation of living.” So what is death, is it eternal sleep/dormancy, just a transition or something else?
- In my own complex tangle of belief, death functions as an inversed birth. A gate to a state of amorphous dwelling far beyond the spiritual laws of this world. Death is not the end, it’s the beginning of something man is unable to explain. Let me quote Schwaller de Lubicz here: ”Death is a return to the causal state.” (from ”The Egyptian Miracle”) Beyond the unholy grave is where we all go...
Alright, that's all my questions. Thank you very much for your time and effort!
- Thanks a lot Antti and all hails to Finland.
The grand Necros Christos bestoweth its blessings unto you,
mors dalos ra
perjantai 23. joulukuuta 2011
Two to three years seems to be a natural cycle between albums for most bands. I've learnt that much these past few months publishing old interviews from 2008 and 2009 only to realise the bands in question have just released new albums. Embrace of Thorns' new album is entitled Praying for Absolution. And as you can hear for yourself, while the album's not a masterpiece, the best songs there are still pretty darn convincing.
An interview with Archfiend DevilPig of Embrace of Thorns.
Originally published in Serpentscope I, October 2009.
“The bird is struggling out of the egg. The egg is the world. Whoever wants to be born must first destroy a world.” (Herman Hesse, Demian)
What of death/black metal embryos, then? Do we expect them to destroy metaphorically the world of black/death metal tradition we’ve come to love? Do we expect them to be antagonists or to comply with practically every aspect of the tradition? Is this conformity or totalitarianism? Should the bands that see tradition as limitation be told to kindly fuck off? Talk about a rhetorical question...
Talk about the embryo that was to become death/black metal, then. Bestial in its very origin, death/black metal has lately seen a growing emphasis on the more primitive/primordial aspects that lately got washed under a wave of theology and philosophy. These days “Bestial Metal” - the term dubbed by Zero Tolerance writer Nathan T Birk - is applied to a huge number of death/black metal bands. What is bestiality for Embrace of Thorns’ Archfiend DevilPig and how does that come through in his music and actions?
- Bestial metal, yes I found out about that term recently. Bestiality is for us to channel impurity, filth and utter darkness into music. Of course the way can vary from band to band, even early Sodom were bestial and filthy back in the day. It all has to do with certain feelings that music creates. It can be only violence or it can be amplified by a certain aura, we use some oppressive and suffocating elements in our material, I have noticed that our stuff has a growing impact, one can fully envision our stuff after some listens. As far as actions are concerned, well we abstain from the lowest common denominator herd, metal or non metal, but don’t expect us bragging about certain actions, no blatant words here, sometimes silence is deafening.
- After all we lead our lifes and we are not kids anymore…
For a scene so keen on laying waste to others, we seem to be less eager to see our own destruction. The aforementioned subgenre-of-sorts might be seen as the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the strictness of both image and music. It’s definitely a metal subgenre where the role of tradition in how new bands take their form is huge. How do you see the relation between the likes of Blasphemy, Beherit, Von and, say, Varathron on the one hand, and Embrace of Thorns on the other hand? Do you think you owe something to these legends?
- It should be this way, if the persons behind are serious and conscious then it’s even better. Yes I agree it carries the torch of an extreme metal tradition from the early 80ies, namely from Bathory, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Possessed, Slayer, Venom up to Sarcofago, Blasphemy and Beherit. I think that we somehow continue the work of the bands you mentioned, and yes we owe a lot to all of our influences, old school metal is the finest agenda when it comes to getting influenced and in terms of playing an instrument or presenting a band. I admit that we are more fans than musicians so our case is pretty much that we try to do justice to early speed/thrash/death/black metal icons and then to add our own elements. Yet I think that the fanaticism of the UG bands is bigger nowadays, back then everyone was trying to break through the mainstream, in our times staying UG is a choice not a result…
How would you describe the meaning and power of this kind of image to you personally?
- It’s intense. It carries a magic, an obscurity, it’s so mystical, of course when I started getting in touch with those bands it was more intense but it’s still great, I think that this imagery, even if it’s getting a bit trendy, is a fist in the face of all lifemetallers and mainstream clowns. When strong music carries the proper image then it’s pure magic, mind altering…
Strong, magical, mind-altering – now there are powerful words for you. In all honesty, though, for me those three concepts have always been subordinate to one thing: intensity. And don’t you dare mistake intensity for mere speed or heaviness. A band may very well be intense and penetrating in 25 bpm. Although much of the Atonement Ritual album, the latest Embrace of Thorns output, employs a somewhat higher tempo, the album all but loses its intensity in the more mid-tempo songs such as the ominous Venom in Veins. Atonement Ritual also boasts some simple yet effective melodies and leads, which make songs like Perdition Hammer definite growers. These elements may not earn Embrace of Thorns the evanescent privilege of originality, but they sure make the band stand up from the masses of bestial death/black metal. The band bio reads: “Inspired by the real forces of demonic, morbid and obscure black/death metal Embrace of Thorns create their own soundscapes of chaos and destruction.” Firstly, is there anything constructive for you in Embrace of Thorns and its aims? Secondly, in your opinion, what makes these soundscapes of chaos and destruction your own?
- I think that despite our influences and overall references what you get from Embrace of Thorns is something quite different than a mere bestial clone. We have worked hard towards this direction and we shall dismiss any possible weak riff or arrangement. Yes I think that our aims are constructive, otherwise there would be no band and this interview as well. Personally I wouldn’t get used to playing in a generic/hobby oriented band, I have been in shitty bands and it hurts when you are the only conscious member in such formations.
- A constructive aim, for example, is to escalate upwards in terms of quality, not to plagiarize, to try and to create something that you will be proud of for the years to come, to leave a legacy, if it’s possible nowadays…
TO CONTEMPLATE THE RUINS OF MEN
Another thing that is closely linked to this kind of music is the sort of language that Embrace of Thorns use in the song titles and lyrics. The rhetoric used is fairly traditional, but do you think that it has a saturation point of sort - that those words and expressions can in time come redundant and empty?
- They might, in some cases, but it always shows. In our case the lyrics can be pretty unpredictable, the first album was more hateful and the second is more spiritual, no matter how redundant the lyric lines might be, they should always evoke certain feelings, and the lyrics should be cleverly written and dark as the mouth of abyss. I’m in favour of Euronymous’ quotes, evil words fit evil music, there’s no need for crossover stuff. I will never claim that all bands in the genre hand in powerful texts but most of them serve the purpose even if their lyrics are naïve.
In both Atonement Ritual and the band’s earlier material there are at times references to sexual imagery - for example, Impure Orgasm, Ceremonial Rites of Fornication and The Virtuous Whore. Again, this is not unusual to this kind of black metal, as there have been an incredible number of bands that have utilised similar imagery. In your opinion, what makes this kind of music so disposed and open to sexual imagery? Can the music itself be sexualised?
- Impure Orgasm is a reference to Nemesis of Impurity, a story too personal to be revealed, Ceremonial Rites is about a goetia mass, and has tantric magic references too, and finally Virtuous Whore is a mockery of virgin mary, quite a lot of influences here. Well yes I think there’s room for sexual imagery in satanic music, since sexuality represents the freedom of flesh and spirit, so it’s downright satanic reference. The difference of this imagery when compared to the cheap porn/gore lyrics of some bands should be obvious. I don’t agree with the denial of carnality that some bands propagate.
Yet another traditional aspect that Embrace of Thorns chose to stand fast with was hiring Chris Moyen to craft the art for the Atonement Ritual album. One could see beheading Christ, which is the act depicted on the album cover, as “atonement,” i.e. payback/revenge of sorts. So do you think Christ could - metaphorically - ever lose his head too many times, or do you think that the power/energy in this central image will last forever?
- “Atonement” and its meanings can be interpreted in countless ways: atonement for the suffering, betrayal, an accomplishment, the destruction of a living scourge, atonement against certain weak ideals and lifestyles. As long as there is established religion of any kind this symbol will be targeted by bands and maybe not only bands, and vice versa. As long as Man is frail and feeble, he will lean towards religion, and if the materialistic spirit of the last decades couldn’t eradicate religion, nothing will. We among others shall remain claiming that the individual can rise from its frail self and transform into a god, sort of a god. In fact black metal kinda needs religion, for obvious reasons. There will never be a campaign or a beat up your local priest crusade. The satanic ways are individualistic. And how the fuck could they be, “black metal socialism” or what?
Did I hear someone shout “Social Darwinism”? On the cover of their 2004 demo The Inevitable Twilight of the Judeochristian Lie, Embrace of Thorns labelled themselves “Raw Nietzchean Black Metal.” Where do you stand as regards anti-christianity, nihilism and satanism - which of these concepts comes closest to representing you?
- Nietzsche’s greatest offering to philosophy was/is the strife for self enlightenment, improvement, with self godhood as the final goal, I still embrace this philosophy. Overall I think that the satanic philosophy is quite close to representing me, I think the previous answers clearly portray what I/we stand for.
In an interview with Zero Tolerance (#30) Archfiend DevilPig states that: “I always thought that the genuine dark undercurrent within this band was / is more important than the music itself.” Besides music, then, what functions does the band fulfill in his life? What is Embrace of Thorns besides music?
- Fuckin’ completion, pleasure and satisfaction, by playing this kind of stuff I feed the ominous winds of my soul and body. Embrace of Thorns is 50 % of my life, and a high priority in other bandmembers’ lives, consider that we are not a touring band. Besides music, Embrace of Thorns could be described as a vision and a vessel towards spheres unknown and mysterious. Essence through spiritual and musical darkness. I think that with each of our works we have sunk deeper to the core of darkness and pure evil and this is something not related to music. In contrast to several bands that have grown milder we have become more fanatical and more conscious towards our desired direction: Total darkness.
In the same interview he also concludes that “I think we have at least one good album to deliver after Atonement Ritual, but after all, I'm lead by some demons.” It’s healthy to read something like this, when so many bands don’t evidently realise when their time is up. But now that the man has promised us at least one good album after Atonement Ritual, how does he plan to execute it?
- I think it’s healthy to know when you need to stop, and this is something that new bands within this subgenre seem to realize. Most of the new bands are quite old in age, conscious fans and will never live off of their music, thus they do this thing because they really adore it, therefore they will not, I hope, leave it dragging in the mud. We all need to understand that this music is a burner. It’s a music of huge efforts and questionable accomplishments. I feel that we have accomplished an “artistic“ success, and I’m happy with this result, I think that Atonement Ritual is not a cheap album, its flames are evergrowing and omnidevouring. When this flame, this current, this wholeistic process ceases, then it’s time to depart. We don’t intend to become cult icons or statues or symbols of a genre and we won’t shove uninspired music to people’s ears. As for the next album, I don’t have a clue, there are no plans or schedules involved, my instinct tells me that we are able to satisfy ourselves for at least one more time… Our goal is to record an album more malicious more cathartic and more serpentine than Atonement Ritual.