sunnuntai 11. marraskuuta 2012

Anniversary of sort...

I started this blog on 11/11/11, as I thought The Serpent Bearer #2 was nearing completion. Well, the Black Sabbath reunion that was announced this time last year didn't exactly happen either. Not much has happened since Tuesday when I declared the phase as 27/33. (Actually it's 28/33, but that's semantics, innit?) So this will take a while, but it'll be worth it in the end.

(The painting on the left is a commissioned piece by Ismo Meinander.)

tiistai 6. marraskuuta 2012

Shining - Death Unlimited

To be honest, there’s no excuse for the long hiatus I’ve taken from updating this blog. Yes, the death metal behemoth collaboration Serpentscope #2 was published a while, and yes, I’ve been slowly but steadily compiling material for The Serpent Bearer #2 as well. Right now, TSB #2 is in phase 27/33. Also, there’s no great wisdom behind returning with a Shining interview except that they just released a new album called Redefining Darkness. The interview below was done in the wake of their fifth full-length album Halmstad. Which just happens to be their best one to date, and the only one I still actually own. I totally love the bluesy guitar leads, the fantastic groove, the acoustic parts, the Moonlight Sonata interlude... Kvarforth's ughs are also darn convincing on this one. Just listen to Låt Oss Ta Allt Från Varandra or Neka Morgondagen, for example.

"Death Unlimited"
An interview with Niklas Kvarforth of Shining
Originally published in, April 2007.

During the years Shining has evolved musically to a direction I find more and more interesting. One could perhaps say that Shining today is more original and more accessible than your first recorded efforts. Has this evolution been a conscious one, are you consciously thriving to make Shining (self-destruction in audial form) more popular, so that it would hurt as many people as possible?

- I've always strived for evolution, as there is no reason in stagnating and I would never repeat myself by recording yet another "Livets Ändhållplats" or do something like that just to remain on the "safe" side, however, I also feel that there's quite a natural progression between all our albums. If you compare our second album to our third for example, or our third to our fourth that matter the "jump" doesn't feel that much exhagerated really. I have always had bigger plans for this band than just remaining in a state where we cannot reach more than a couple of thousand buyers you know, ok, so if the new album has reached, let's say 10.000 copies by now, and might even end up at 30.000 copies I still want more. It's not a quest for fame or anything like that, and most who have followed our career should know that, it's a mere question of reaching a larger amount of people who are willing to swallow my words and that way, give birth to as many future psychopaths and madmen as possible. 

I understand that you take it as a great honour if a person commits suicide under the influence of your music. But isn’t such a person (“Shining made me do it“) just plain weak, and might as well have committed suicide because his mother didn’t hug him enough?

- Of course I take honour in having people taking things that far as really ending their very own lives because of my work, any artist thinks the same, even though they might reverse their pride in media because of the controversy in drags along. It's the ultimate ego-trip I guess for any artist to have anyone outside of his/her own life taking his/her work so seriously that they actually act out of it. Nevertheless, concerning the topic suicide and whether it's an act out of weakness or strength, well, that varies. Once a person is being displayed a raw darkness they've probably never felt going through their system before, an easy way out could be found reliefing at the very moment, and yes that is definitely a act of weakness. Yet, if someone chooses to end his/her life because they, for instance, feel they have nothing more to give and that all their earthly errands have all been accomplished, then I would say it's an act out of strength. But I see where you going, and I agree, someone who kills himself because of my work is probably doing it out of weakness, yet, that's what Shining is here for, giving you the answer to your question, helping you taking that very last step of yours.

People who commit suicide always have their own reasons for doing it, but the bottom line is that they want to escape this world. Nevertheless, there are DIFFERENT reasons. Dissection’s Jon Nödtveidt thought that he’d accomplished all that he wanted to accomplish in this world. Then there are the usual “my girlfriend left me and I don’t want to live anymore“ kind of reasons. Do you think there are on the one hand “more honourable“ and on the other hand “more cowardly“ reasons for suicide? In other words, does it matter why one kills himself?

- As said above, the act of for example Jon Nødtveidt, I would consider an act out of strength and I find it truly refreshing that someone takes his mission and meaning that seriously, which I know he did, and also know most of the others who claim to be sincere with their intentions don't. In the end, it does not matter why and who dies really, it is all nothing but flesh in the end. However, my deep respect to Jon Nødveidt whom I had some contact with but unfortunately didn't have the time nor chance of getting to know better, and thank you for the magnificent "Reinkaos" album you, along with Davide and the others managed to produce as your last statement, might come as a surprise to many, but I actually consider that album the absolute highlight of last year, all categories.

Suicide is of course a rather common theme in metal music, and not just in the more extreme forms of metal, such as black and death metal. Bands like the Finnish Sentenced made a whole lot of songs about suicide, but they did so tongue-in-cheek, in a cathartic sort of fashion according to their own statements. Also, Ozzy Osbourne has explained that he hopes that his track “Suicide Solution“ gives strength to all people who think about committing suicide or have had people close to them committing suicide. I mean, there are probably people in the world who get this kind of strength from Shining’s music, and without your music they’d probably have committed suicide already. What do you think about this?

- I am fully aware of that for example, a person who have gone through alot of tough shit throughout their lives, thus having a bit of life-experience to carry on their shoulders, probably can find some sort of relief in the work I publish, however, I have never aimed towards this particular group of people. Shining have always had it's primary target set on the fan who does not apprecitate himself/herself, the fan who rely on ignorance and the fan who want something to rebel with against their parents. Why? Because this group are swallowing each word I, the emissary, am spewing out of my mouth, trying to act like me, feeding on my self-destructive and suicidal ideals which in the end WILL fuck them up. Because if you reach out for the darkness long enough, it will eventually swallow you, and so it does, or the person who have been infuenced by my work react in a more primitive way by hurting themselves and others, thus, creating a chain of reactions which probably drags a few more candidates along, prooving my point. I was nearly giving up my work a couple of years ago as I saw no reaction of such a nature, but I have been blind all the time as there are actually alot of people who I have inspired along the way, and it just keeps growing and growing.

The coin/term “suicidal black metal“ is pretty damn clever, because, as opposed to “dark metal“ these days, suicidal BM seems to sell more. Also, admit it or not (and intentional or not), the news about your alleged suicide and the controversial Halmstad gig were nothing short of an ingenious marketing strategy. You must be happy that suicide and sickness sell? What’s your attitude towards material good, money and so on?

- The only thing that saddens me really about this sub-genre I coincidentelly created back in 1996 is that most of the people who claim to perform this brand have completely misunderstood what my intentions were. Shining has never been about self-pity or fucking madeup anxiety, Shining has always been about extracting and glorifying the very core of negativity and force-feeding it to the listener.

- My "dissapearance" was not meant as a promotional strategy though, as it was a matter of me leaving everything and everyone behind instead of dying there on the spot, things were really bad then, and I didn't have any contact with anyone from my past whatsoever which obviously resulted in wild speculations. The actual "death" was never stated, but simply made up by media and each single black metal kidde with an access to a computer and some forum urls you know. The Halmstad gig wasn't really that extreme as media says it was, I mean, we've had gigs that have been three times worse, yet I guess when we hit the headlines all over sweden everyone knew that promotion as such can't be bought with money so, it was quite good that happened. As you say, suicide and sickness sells, ain't life grand? Currently, I have no place to live and I have barely any money to buy food and so on, and I got rid of all my earthly possessions before I left sweden, so I guess that answers your last question?

Many bands using the coin “suicidal black metal“ have drifted pretty far from BLACK metal, both musically and ideologically. What is the BLACK ingredient in Shining, what does Satan represent to you? Are self-mutilation and suicide somehow connected to your idea of religion, for example? What is your opinion about ritualistic self-mutilation, and is the idea of bleeding for Him in any way related to yourself?

- To begin with, the black metal scene doesn't interest me at all, and I can easily say I lost most of my interest many years ago when I realized there wasn't much action taking place with the exception for a few induviduals who took things "too far", you know. Don't get me wrong, it is when things are taken too far it starts getting interesting yet, I couldn't stand working in an enviroment where basically everyone just pretend. I stopped referring Shining to being a black metal band many years ago as well, because of what I said prior, and yes, in my point of view black metal should be performed by fanatic, homicidal devil-worshippers who live and breath through the Lord, doing his biddings on earth, and yet again, there are perhaps 5-10 acts out there doing that. I, on the other hand have no interest in discussing my religious self in magazines, interviews or anything connected to Shining overall really as I don't find it being a part of either what I do with this band or suitable as I am the only one in the band who actually have any "higher" beliefs concerning the matter.

There are ‘beautiful’ melodies, harmonies and themes on the new album (for example, the calm acoustic guitar and piano passages and many beautiful lead melodies). Do you see them as being beautiful? What do you see as beauty in this world, in general?

- I have always incorporated these elements in my music, but yes, they certainly do come through even more with this album, something which wasn't intentional, any music I write for Shining is never intentional, but this time around it came out that way. What you clearly can recognize when listening to the album though is that very particular, eerie Shining vibe going on, you know, you hear that this is Shining when the first chord opens the album. Back to your question, of course one could consider certain parts as beautiful, macabre, evil whatever, it's all in the eye of the beholder, or ears. It's just a matter of how fucked up you are I guess. What I consider as being beautiful varies from day to day, I can see beauty in drinking the urine of a woman from her nylonclothed feet one day, whilst the other I can see beauty in a decapitation. Everything varies from day to day.

What about having other people in the band in general? Shining is pretty much embodied in Kvarforth, Shining is your vision. How do you feel about involving other people in concretizing this vision, are they just a necessary evil or indeed help you to make Shining better and more damaging to the outsiders, in other words, listeners of Shining?

- Shining has, as you said, always been a portrait of Kvarforth, or at least of the most damanged parts of his psyche, others are still merely considered as being tools I use in order to perfectionize my vision. Without them, Shining would however never be able to play live for example, but then again, they are all replacable and I guess that's why I've had so many members throughout the years. What usually happens is that I have someone getting involved with the band, sharing my vision, or at least pretending too, and after some time has passed and these tools have been playing with the darkness for a while, they all of a sudden realize that it's not a game and either run for their lives or gets swallowed by the the great abyss they have dared staring right into. Now, I have a rather satisfying line-up behind my back so I am actually thinking of trying to let them contribute on the next album, just see where that would lead us, we'll just have to wait and see.  

In some interview I read that two of your current (at that time, at least) musical favourites were Coldplay and Kent. Kent I can understand, because they’re pretty melancholic and all, but what about Coldplay and their green humane, pro-life values? Or do you think that a person can listen to and like a band, but doesn’t necessarily have to support the message they’re conveying with the music? For instance, do you think that by buying a Coldplay album, you’re supporting their humane values?

- I can "enjoy" whatever music I find appealing, no matter what the message behind might be, as in the case of Coldplay with their disgusting green, humane mission. For example, one of my favourite records of all time, at least the A-side that is as the B-side tend to get a bit too much, is the christmas album by swedish singer Carola, a twisted, fanatic christian life-lover really, but for me this very recording brings out the absolute and definite darkness within. There is darkness to be found everywhere, you just have to dig deep enough and you can actually find that Carola can provoke the same atmosphere as let's say Burzum. As in the end it's all about atmosphere, right? 

Black metal of today is pretty much characterised by limited ‘kvlt’ releases, as if DEATH would come in limited edition!! Not that I think you’re in the least interested in the state of BM today, but what do you think about the idea of having limited releases?

- Man, that was the best expression I've heard in years! As if DEATH would come in a limited edition! I will steal that and use it for my own perverse purpose. Limiting your releases is quite stupid actually, at least according to me, but when it comes to for example a vinyl edition of a record you have already pressed in 20.000 copies on CD, then why not? I can assure you that 95% of the people who are buying the vinyl editions aren't listening to them but rather collecting them and showing them to their likewise stupid friends at parties, and what's the point of having something you don't use? Okay, I used to collect various things in the past but the problem with this is that it becomes an obsession after a while and you will wind up having your entire life based around some materialistic bullshit, something I made sure never again to repeat when I got rid off all my earthly goods. Back to the question, I see no reason in not limited certain releases to please these vultures and selling a few more couple of thousand units, as in the end, the money comes this way, not that way which means I can invest into something useful.

You hate life in all its perverse forms, but you also support and encourage the perversity in people. You must, then, love your hate, because that’s one of the key things that fuels you and Shining, right?

- Yes, it all becomes a paradox, as being oppossed life, meaning nature, people and even yourself. But it is also, as you say, the paradox it self that fuels the machinery as the paradox is a rather painful one, hating oneself, oppossing oneself, and yet trying to find strength enough to reverse these primitive emotions.

Do you think it would be ironic if you died from receiving a fractured skull after slipping in the shower?

- I'll answer this question in a few minutes, I have to go and have a shower.

Any last words / message to Shining fans in Finland, feel free to state it here.

- Black metal kiddies, remember... Death does not come in a limited edition.

Thank you very much for the interview!

- Thank you, actually, this is the best interview I've had the pleasure of answering along the entire promotional campaign.

keskiviikko 18. heinäkuuta 2012

Serpentscope #2 OUT NOW!

I trust the flyer and the front page do all the necessary talking. Order your copy NOW from the address above. Thank you.

perjantai 29. kesäkuuta 2012

Portal - The Horror!

As the release of Serpentscope TWO is getting closer, I thought it'd be a good time to publish my last remaining interview from issue ONE. Looking back, I still love all the bands I interviewed for that issue, so it's been a pleasure presenting the interviews online. Fittingly, the portal between issues ONE and TWO is served by - yes! - Portal. Damn would I like to witness this band live!
"The Horror!"
An interview with Illogium of Portal
Originally published in Serpentscope #1, October 2009.

"Weird, original, at times even technical death metal" wouldn't probably sell you on Portal. But what if I told you that these mad Australians are compelling like a combination Morbid Angel and Thergothon. Those two fit, because the feeling here is decidedly Lovecraftian but with what feels like less words. Unlike the labyrinths and catacombs of our beloved Howard Phillips, the looming depths of Portal don't take some dozen pages to manifest. Rather, it's like the last words of Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, or Apocalypse Now, if you will: "The horror! The horror!"

During the last 25 years death metal has come to mean certain things in terms of both music and aesthetics. Portal keeps to some of those, but simultaneously steps over those genre conventions. In a way it feels that Portal's expression apparently comes from "nowhere," as though only driven by the concept and aesthetics of death (metal), but not usual genre gimmicks. It is here that the illogical becomes logical, so lead guitarist Illogium, in your opinion, would Portal sound the way it does if it weren't for the past 25 years of death metal tradition?
- Probably not, but it is in other artforms such as literature, paintings and film which spawned the actual feeling of the occult cinematic, panorama's in our music. Death Metal made in the 80's and 90's had a massive imprint on us as musicians, you can forget any Death Metal recorded in the last 10 years having any influence on Portal.
- We had appreciated and still do appreciate Heavy Metal, Speed Metal, Black Metal and Death Metal since childhood.

Portal feels both otherwordly and earthy at the same time. By no means are they a paradox, though, as is best evinced by their second album Outre'. Besides being the proverbial tunnel at the end of the light, Outre' might just be one of the very few albums which, despite being at times technical, doesn't fall into the traps of narcissism or self-indulgence. So how does it make you feel as a part of the creation process, for example, when you're writing and rehearsing the songs? In other words, would you please describe the state you’re in when you’re writing and rehearsing with Portal? I believe that you've played or still play in other, perhaps "more normal" bands, so what do you think are the biggest differences between Portal and other bands you've played in?
- When writing I can explain the feeling as hysterical when we know we've tapped into something exciting for us, rehearsing them is more of a trance like lucid state where the refining of said discovery becomes interesting.
- Speaking for myself, I have only ever recorded/played live in a very Occult Death Metal band and a Black Metal band, a few other members play in very warped and evil Death Metal bands presently.

Warped is a word one could definitely use with Portal as well. In a number of interviews (e.g. Nordic Vision #02), a kind of possession takes hold when Illogium is dealing with Portal. One just needs - in whatever order - to sit down, take a deep breath and listen to a song like Abysmill. I truly doubt that a John Smith would be able to provide his listeners with as horrific a glimpse of the abyss. When asked about his history with Portal, a certain member of Cauldron Black Ram said in this very zine that "None of us are in Portal though. In fact no-one is in Portal." At times I tend to get the same feeling: that no-one is in Portal. Metaphors and anecdotes aside, using pseudonyms probably helps Portal to get to a somewhat unconventional state of mind. But how conscious is the writing process with Portal?
- It is partly calculated when we decide to piece the organisms together and create the time signatures, but even that feels like a haze comes over us during the process.
- When we are just bringing sounds out of the guitars in the first stages of writing, that is unconscious creativity, seeing through another eye in my mind so to speak, a lot of the music sections are snippets of what I witness and will never sound close to the first time played, I have to come back down to make a conscious decision to repeat it otherwise I would just keep going on and on...

Granted, Portal has songs, not just subterranean jam sessions. The songs are complex and amoeba-like, sometimes even fairly technical, yet in no way is there a hint of egotism in the aura of the band. How important is it for you to keep egos out of Portal?
- We encourage the ego if it flows in the same direction therefore creating one. There is more than enough rewarding experience from creating this artform.

How do you see yourself and especially those musicians that are not full members - are you/they mere vehicles/tools/medium for a greater will or something?
- I have my tunnel mind and if others are travelling in the same way it will work, so far The Curator and Aphotic have stuck with it for years, they are consistant and stubborn also. We each have our own specialities and fields which are brought to Portal and it works well, I would say that Ignis Fatuus who has performed 3 shows with us and played on Swarth will be in it for the long run, as he has the same ideals.
- On Outre' we were lucky to have Monocular and Elsewhere play on the album and it made it really special sounding, they have been friends of ours for years but unfortunately they live too far away to make anything permanent happen, we are extemely happy with the members we are working with now.
- Past members who don't need mentioning were indeed apart of the greater will.

Ex-drummer Monocular does indeed deserve a mentioning for his work on Outre'. His ritualistic and doomful tom roll-fueled signatures are one key element that make the album different from basically any other album recorded in the 00's. Actually, make that any other metal album ever recorded. One way to describe Portal, then, is to use the word/concept Ancient in the sense that T. Ketola uses it in Dauthus ‘zine (#3 Appendix): "Listening to the doomy end parts of "Sudden Combustion“ on the Corpse Molestation demo ’92, I get to think this is old material – not ten or a dozen years, but thousands of years – it is the primordial breath of Tiamat’s demons." Do you ever get the feeling that Portal is about communing with and channeling, for lack of a better term, some kind of primordial energies?
- Definitely, there are no words for the human tongue to decribe this. It comes from deep within sick negativity.

So put that in a needle and stick it in your arm! Indeed, it would probably be anyone's first guess that without substance use it's impossible to attain such trance-like states. However, according to Illogium, he "can't recall anything special about any substance that may have been taken."

If we use the "ends of the scales" metaphor yet again, Portal's music sounds both progressive and regressive (yes, very relative terms) at the same time. If we then think of music as a journey, it would seem that Portal is headed toward primitive/primordial ritualistic pounding, which some people might consider a state of regression. How does Illogium see their development from Seepia to Outre’ and beyond – where is Portal heading?
- The problem with Death Metal is that it has lost its feeling and has become about level of skill and speed, we're interested in creating an atmosphere where you forget that it's actually created on instruments at all, the development from Seepia to Outre' is exactly that - a development for our ideal atmosphere. We're heading into more poisonous worlds but with even more potency, bands fall into a trap of trying to outdo themselves, when all that should matter is idealism and the piece of art at hand for the time.

In one interview – Nordic Vision #02 from late 2008 – Illogium stated that "Metal instruments are very limited in this way," referring to the fact that it’s not very common in rock and metal that the music ends up surprising you when you’re done working on it. How would he, then, elaborate on the limited quality of metal instruments? I mean, what is the biggest challenge they present to an artist in terms of achieving his musical/artistic aims? This is of course a hypothetical question, but how do you think a different selection of instruments would change the essence of Portal?
- We're forever attempting to imitate orchestral symphonies, we would like the opportunity to manipulate Horns, Strings and Percussion sections.

Third album Swarth is going to be released in October. Based on the sample track Larvae currently available on Portal's Myspace the album doesn't yet indulge Illogium's craving for classical instruments, but what it does is make Portal's attack more in-your-face than on either of its predecessors. What kind of initial aims did you have for the album? Can you tell anything concrete that you did to achieve even more "looming and depth," to quote you from the Nordic Vision interview once again?
- The initial aim for Swarth was to make the art even more direct, more so that our music can be heard far clearer than before, this has been achieved, and I must state that the guitar tone is fantastic. More Looming and Depth was achieved by using 8-string guitars with more depth of scale and submergence, the drumming is more spiraling and heavy.

As has been discussed in this very zine even, in recent years more and more death/black metal bands have been focusing on the occult, the image, the ideology and the lyrics. In other words, Lovecraftian themes aren't exactly in vogue when it comes to underground death/black metal. We shouldn't forget, though, that Portal isn't just any Lovecraft-inspired band nor do the Lovecraft influences in any be all and end all way define the band. Notwithstanding, one could say that with certain bands the obsession in the occult has gone too long already in that they're not giving any value to the true power, energy and Magick of Death Metal that originally spawned the genre through bands like Possessed and Mantas? What do you think, is there something in the very early death metal recordings that simply can't be amplified or made more powerful?

- I believe those bands were spawned at a very special time, the energy and aura was not a conscious premeditated motive, it was all in the flow of discovery, nowadays bands attempt to sound like the old classic bands and try to capture that same spirit instead of their own, I believe that retreading steps cannot wield as much power as the originators for certain. Magick in art is beyond consciousness or calculation. And then you have a plethora of bands using the Occult for aesthetic and yet fail to capture its prescence on the music itself.

Even Illogium has sometimes used the words "magical garbs" and "horror rituals" to refer to the band's attire and live gigs respectively. As said, those are pretty powerful words that are these days used anything but sparingly by black/death metal bands... How would you define magic and ritual in Portal's context?

- Indeed powerful affimations. These terms define the state of mind we enter during a performance, it is a ritual because we summon an energy that only we can summon and as we rarely play live it is very rewarding.

- The magic is our own and I can only describe it as an invisible unwritten force.

What about extremity, then. As you say above, all too many black/death metal bands are just trying to outdo themselves with speed, skill and so on. What does the word extreme bring to your mind these days as regards music? In what respect, if any, do you see Portal as extreme music?

- The bands I am referring to above... I would not call extreme in any way, shape or form, playing fast and technical in that style sounds well executed, tight and pretty and usually with a gay production with drum triggers etc (VOMIT).

- Extreme Metal should be ugly and horrible and in this way I would call Portal Extreme Death Metal! We are into something deeper than just trying to impress people with however many notes or beats per second, if we create a simple structure and really delve into the way it moves then that is what is important. The ultimate extreme music was created by Sadistik Exekution years ago, pure kaos and madness in every facet of the band.

I’d like to conclude with a favourite quote of mine from William Blake’s "Marriage of Heaven and Hell": "Good is the passive that obeys Reason: Evil is the active springing from Energy." To what extent, and at which stages, does reason come into play with Portal?

- Not reason, just total freedom to explore and contain the unbalanced.

tiistai 29. toukokuuta 2012

Watain - The Hollow World

I think it was in an interview with the Danish Evilution zine that Erik Danielsson stated that Black Metal and DVDs don't really match. About six years later, the latest drop from the grail that is Watain is precisely that - a live DVD. Not just any DVD, you might argue, but still a DVD. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to bitch about the band changing their mind and evolving. I for one respect Watain for following the path they've been called to follow.

However, there have been some things in Watain that I haven't been able to take at face value. But what appear to be commissioned and rather everyday photo shoots, awkward autograph sessions or plastic collector sets, are part of the holistic ritual for the members of Watain. And for anyone who might argue that, Danielsson is willing to expand his idea of a ritual to include beating up a journalist in the back alleys of Helsinki.

"The Hollow World"
An interview with Erik Danielsson of Watain
Originally published in, June 2010.

In a couple of earlier interviews you’ve spoken about “the trinity” of releases, the idea that many bands first put out three classic/great albums and then start to wind down somewhat. How did you make sure that Watain wouldn’t take the wrong path on your fourth album?

- The first three albums of Watain can be seen as a foundation, the completed triangle of Watain. We needed three albums to explore our own ability, to know ourselves and to erect our temple. A temple which stood ready with Sworn to the Dark, and that we can now use for what we came here to do; the Devil’s work. We have always aimed for being able to perform music and art with enough dignity to be linked with the power of our gods. This takes time, devotion and determination. As far as I am concerned, it took me three albums.

- The reason I can see for many bands loosing it around their third album is that the first phase of a band usually represent a vortex of energy and creativity, of emotions that demand to be expressed. For many artists, the end of that phase means arriving to a point of repetition, of stagnation or, in the worst case, to be drained of inspiration. Needless to say, it did not work that way for us.

The working title for Sworn to the Dark was No Return. What was the working title for Lawless Darkness and how did it guide your way through the writing and recording process this time around?

- There was no such working title I think, and neither was “No Return” really a lodestar as such. The way we compose is far more chaotic, like adding ingredients to a cauldron in which hell itself must eventually boil. Experimentation and experience in excess...

How much of a parallel is there between shedding skin musically, and the understanding that a Satanist will, little by little, destroy the restrains encoded in his human body? I mean, does Watain’s musical development necessitate religious/spiritual development?

- That parallel is constant and could not be anything else, since Watain has always been an outlet for our own spiritual experience and belief. Our own spiritual progression is always the reason for any relevant progression within the band, as an artistic outlet for the same.

You’ve stated in interviews pretty much from the beginning that bands like Metallica and Death SS, rather than usual suspects such as Darkthrone, are more of an influence on your work in Watain. Listening to some of the tracks on Lawless Darkness, I think that at times the Metallica influence comes through more than ever before. Would you tend to agree?

- Yes there might be a stronger traditional metal element to Lawless Darkness, which is nothing strange to me really. That aspect has always been a big part of our lives and it would be strange if it at some point did not show in our work as artist, considering how personal Watain is to us.

- However, to me Watain will always be a Black Metal band per se. The difference between a regular Heavy Metal band and us is that while they try to hide – or are unaware of – the fact that the Devil speaks through their music, while we are open about it.

There are definitely some soul-grabbing melodies on Lawless Darkness, especially on the closing track Waters of Ain. On the classic Metallica albums, one could pretty much memorize and sing along even the guitar solos, and I think that it’s the same with some of Watain’s most touching moments. What is the inner feeling like in studio or, especially, on stage, when this kind of melodies start playing? (I reckon you haven’t yet played Waters of Ain live, but there are earlier Watain songs and melodies that have a similar effect for me at least, The Serpent’s Chalice, for example.)

- Yes, I know the parts you are refering to, and they are indeed special. On Lawless Darkness we have got closer to the formula of creating them, and this is something we will always be striving for; Timeless music, worthy enough to place upon the altar of the Gods.
- The reactions in the studio are the same as those of any sane person hearing them; solemn delight, outbursts of madness, tears of pride, the urge to praise Satan.

In Sweden Rock Magazine you said that Waters of Ain is your “begravningslåt,” which obviously speaks volumes about the personal importance of the song. If you were to die tomorrow, would you be satisfied with the way Watain ended with Lawless Darkness?

- Yes, I’d say I would. But on the other hand I would have been “satisfied” if we ended with Sworn to the Dark as well, since we always give our everything. All I can say is that there are still an abyss to discover within Watain, that still yearns to be expressed through us, and that we still yearn to express. Many depths are yet to be ventured...

To what extent are you interested in leaving a legacy with Watain? I mean, what would it mean to you if Watain would be recognised alongside the likes of Mayhem, Celtic Frost and even Slayer one day?

- As far as I am concerned, Watain is already a legacy on it’s own. To us it has become a brotherhood, a holy mission and the very center of everything that Black Metal ever meant to us. If other people will look upon the band like that in the future, that would mean they reached an understanding similar to ours. But understanding of other people has never been our goal in the first place, and neither something we have been regularly blessed with, so to us it matters little. This is not a popularity contest, it is the relentless transcendence of the Devil’s sons.

Another question about the worldly dimension of things. You’ve stated that if people want to see the works of Satan in this world, all they need to do is look around, look to covetous world leaders and natural disasters. I can understand the natural disaster part, but have some difficulty with the world leaders part. After all, they’re mostly driven by very mundane desires like money and fame. How do these “vices” represent the transcendent nature of Satan?

- Sometimes I really regret even opening my mouth about these kind of things, because to speak about the nature of religion to people who are either non-religious or even anti-religious, is truly throwing pearls for swine. It is like trying to explain color to the colorblind. Singing songs for the deaf. Who then happily nod in confusion and misunderstanding.

- Of course it is not the mundane, pathethic desires of the puppets of the earth that i refer to when I speak of the manifestation of Satanic energy. “World leaders” equal “worms” to me, and there is as much of Satan in them as there is in my coffee. What I am refering to is of course the glowing dominance of true Tyrants and Executioners of history, the great white-eyed butcherers of mankind, who, in the name of religion, ideology or whatever it might have been, have carried out the Devil’s work. When the lust for dominance and will to eliminate your foes is driven to such degree that it reaches godlike qualities, then you can see the Devil shine in the eyes.

You state that rather than seeing people’s souls being fed with plastic shit culture, you prefer filling people’s souls with blood. How does a box set limited to 1,000 copies including a black candle fill souls with blood?

- Your childish and arrogant description of the Lawless Darkness box does not deserve an answer other than “Fuck You”. But, doing my best to ignore your inborn finnish stupidity, i’ll try to explain, as I would explain it to any child; Metal thrives on quality, determination, vision and strength. This is what I refered to as “blood”. Metal is however broken down and made insipid by unintelligence, weakness and lack of vision. This is what I refer to as “plastic shit culture”. You, and many other individuals and bands constituting todays scene, represent the latter. We, Watain, represent the first. The Lawless Darkness box is an attempt to bring about quality, thoughtfulness and artistic vision. The ideas behind the contents of the box are many and intricate, and I would gladly have explained them if you would not have revealed your lack of respect in the question. People who fail to see the value of this release are too caught up in their own false metal world where things such as box sets equals attempts to make money and satisfy collectors. But that is your ignorant and self-reflecting conception of things, not ours.

In the midst of soundchecks, traveling, the Bathory cover gig and exclusive photo sessions for Sweden Rock Magazine, Zero Tolerance and what not, so it would probably be easy to let it all go and just ride the wave of routine. Also, no matter how holistic the nature of Watain is, things like exclusive photo sessions could be seen as extracurricular activity at best. To what extent are you willing to serve the needs of, say, music magazines? In other words, can you justify things like the exclusive photo sessions to yourself on a deeper (spiritual) level?

- Everything we do with Watain, be it a photosession or beating up a journalist in a back-alley of Helsinki, is an extent of our artistic (=spiritual) expression. We would not do a photo-session if we did not have an idea for it or did not feel like it. However, we have many ideas, and we often feel like having them manifested. That is why we have a band, to be able to manifest our artistic ideas, no matter what they be. Without magazines wanting to publish photos, labels wanting to release albums, and magazines wanting to do interviews, the ability to have our ideas carried out and take their toll would be rather limited.

Is the path to world domination paved with good intentions?

- Not as far as I can see.

I was reading a slightly older Watain interview in Close-Up Magazine, where you talked the incidence that you’d had after the photo session for that interview. That is, when you were walking through the town after the photo shoot in your full gear and smeared with blood, you referred to the people’s (non-)reaction in the lines that even though people see a demon walking on the street, they don’t react, because “det blir på något sätt för mycket att ta in.” Do you ever get that same sense when you’re playing live, that even for the people who come to see you live, it’s somehow too much for them to take?

- The live shows is yet another outlet which we use to make the fire within our hearts come alive and manifest upon this earth. This is why they become very powerful experiences. To me this is nothing strange, Black Metal the way we perform it is very powerful and should not be underestimated. It has the power to alter ones state of mind and body and should not be approached lightly. I have seen people vomiting and crying during our performances. I respect their reactions fully, because at least they have been opening themselves enough to take in our art! I much rather shake hand with someone who has tears in the eyes after a concert, than some proud idiot who was too narrowminded and stupid to realize what was going on. Watain is a band for those who want something more than a regular concert experience, for the people who live and breath for the passion and the fire contained in the heart of the genre, the very fire of Satan.

If there’s anything you’d like to add, feel free to do so here. Thank you very much for the interview!

- Fuck you.

perjantai 18. toukokuuta 2012

Averse Sefira - All Fled, All Done

Averse Sefira is no more. Founded in 1996, the band recently decided to fold after releasing four full-length albums, the latest of which was Advent Parallax from 2008. This interview was done in the wake of that same release. While I've seldom listened to the band's records in the past four years, I remember being totally blown away by Tetragrammatical Astygmata when it came out. Will probably have to check tomorrow if it has stood the test of time, although I'm somewhat discouraged by the double-10" format already. Anyway, here's to Averse Sefira! 

"All Fled, All Done"
Interview with Wrath of Averse Sefira.
Originally published in, March 2008.

How would you go about introducing Averse Sefira to a person who’s already well acquainted with black metal? What does Averse Sefira mean to you personally?

- Averse Sefira is the path to the void, a key to finding divinity within the self, the means to the end. It can sometimes serve as black metal for those who do not like black metal, or else as a key to truly understanding the nature of the art. We are black metal and in the end this is enough.

The US has of course had its share of black metal bands (at least) from the days of Von, Profanatica etc. onwards, but with Leviathan, Xasthur et al. in recent years, there’s been an excess of (mostly one-man) BM bands from the States. Bands like Averse Sefira, Krieg and Absu, however, would seem to share a closer affinity with European bands – because of your dealings with Ajna, you’ve even been considered one band in the “elite” orthodox movement. Anyway, what are your thoughts on the current USBM bands if you compare them to European ones?

- Are we considered elite? I have no way to evaluate such things. But you are right, we are much more firmly aligned with the European movement because our sensibilities and goals resonate with many of those bands. We have been asked repeatedly about the USBM movement and I hate discussing it because to me it draws a distinction between us and the rest of the world. We do not identify with any one location. Wherever our work reaches like minds then we are home. We are also often asked about the one-man acts in the US, and all I can say is that this is not what propels the movement forward. Burzum was effective because Varg was proactive. He did not play live but his impact was certainly broad in drawing an unprecedented amount of attention to the genre through his actions. In general I find that one-man acts are problematic because they operate without the checks and balances of other members and as such the content tends to be random and meandering. Some like that kind of thing, but I am not one of them. I prefer clear intent and obvious termination points in my music.

In an interview with Dragonland from 2003 you stated that European black metal scene owes a lot to the European cultural heritage, whereas there’s no such backdrop for American bands. If you still hold this opinion, would you care to elaborate on it a bit... Do you mean that such cultural heritage “gave birth” to the BM scene in a way, or was BM more an anti-movement against the culture this heritage had brought about?

- I would say it is a little of both. Europe has a vast history and it engenders art and culture that is unparalleled in the rest of the world. Black metal could be viewed as a reaction to this heritage in some ways but look at any band that had something intriguing to offer and the mark of their forebears are obvious. Propensity for music and art are inborn like anything else, so it stands to reason that a land with a lot of history would continue to produce people to whom those gifts come very naturally.

I’ve read some of your tour blogs from the current tour with Rotting Christ, Immolation and Belphegor, and it would seem the saying “no-one’s a prophet in his own land” at least partly holds true with Averse Sefira. With this tour now (almost) over, is it ever a reality shock to go back home after a month’s touring? Would you please give our readers an anecdote or two from the recent tour?

- I wouldn't say that the above adage really applies. We are still working to establish ourselves in the US since we did not have the means or desire to do so until we began working with Candlelight. There are still a large number of people who do not know us here. That, and we cannot be on a line-up with three veteran bands with multiple releases on large labels and expect to dominate. Do not misunderstand my journals; we did well for ourselves in the end but it took a lot more work to win people over than it did for the other acts. This will hopefully change quickly as our level of exposure grows but we acknowledge that there is still more work ahead of us. As for the tour itself, I was reluctant to see it end but at the same time it was actually a relief to get off the road so I could deal with the bronchitis I acquired. I like being at home for the comforts it offers but I also like being on the road for the experiences it brings. I do not have all that many anecdotes from the road as most everything was orderly and the bands were generally well-behaved. I will allow that one of the rites of passage for this outing was to walk in on Serpenth from Belphegor with whatever girl he was with on any given evening. Most everyone managed to do this at least once by the end of the run.

I also understand you walked away from a decent job to go on this tour with Averse Sefira, which is an obvious sign of dedication. Now, hypothetically, if your bandmates would land in the same situation, with a tour just around the corner, would you expect them to do the same thing?

- Of course, and they have done so multiple times. We have all repeatedly sacrificed our livelihoods in the name of this band and we will continue to do so. Jobs are a way to keep food on the table and nothing more.

How do you perceive touring and live gigs in general – its pros and cons? How does touring help you achieve what you aspire for with Averse Sefira? Has it become a mere tool of attracting new listeners (not that there’s anything wrong with that), or are you still able to avoid it getting too much a routine to play live night after night? I mean, for many people a black metal concert is at best a ritual, something that takes the audience (and the band, of course) to the earlier days of man when ritual and music were something totally inseparable from life.

- The pros of touring are mainly getting to be friends with other great bands and meeting a lot of interesting people. The cons are when some shows turn out poorly and the constant exhaustion that comes with being on the road. Touring is also not the best way on earth to make money. At worst it is a way to raise awareness of of our work, and at best it is a ritual communion with those who already know us or those who wish to be indoctrinated. Every show is different, and when it the circumstances are ideal there is nothing routine about any of it. We prefer the nights that wage chaos and create a sense that things may become completely untethered from rational behavior both on ours and the audience's behalf. This is when the ritual exists- when the message sent is the message received and those in attendance are within our thrall.

I don’t want to put you in a bad position, nor am I trying to encourage you to badmouth any of the persons you’ve toured with, so please consider this a more general question... How do rock ‘n roll lifestyle and black metal go together?

- I guess it depends on what you mean by “rock n roll lifestyle”. If you mean sex and drugs I think that those elements are universal in all permutations of rock and metal music. I am ambivalent about both since when I am on tour the journey and the mission are my preoccupations. Some bands could argue that sex and drugs are part of black metal in keeping with indulgence and depravity, but personally I have no interest in such things. Whether or not that makes me more legitimate is of course a matter of opinion. Then again I know many excellent BM bands who drink and philander like the world is about to end so I suppose you'll have to draw your own conclusions.

Let’s talk about your brand new album, Advent Parallax, which is your first album for Candlelight Records. All the earlier Averse Sefira albums, I understand, were more lyric-dictated, but the new album is different in that respect. What lead to such a decision and how did it affect the process of spawning an album? For example, did you ever feel the lyric-dictated approach was somehow limiting or restricting you?

- In the case of Advent Parallax the music came before they lyrics which never happened before in our writing process. The effect was a more holistic approach to writing the music as we did not have a specific lyrical structure to guide us. This taught us some new things in terms of what we are capable of as a band, but in some ways it also made the process more difficult than it would have been otherwise. We will take what we learned and put it to good use but I still expect that the lyrics will continue to chart the course for the music in future works.

You even stated something in the lines that without lyrics you would be somewhat lost as to where to go with the music. What showed you the way through the process this time with the change in the role of the lyrics?

- We still had all the concepts for the album present so it was not like we were without some plan of action. As I said before, we ended up with a more open-ended process that admittedly helped bring in some ideas that might have otherwise been discarded. The issue here is that all of our albums are chapters in a long story. We are a concept band and accordingly we must have those concepts in place before we can create anything new.

The lyrics on Advent Parallax, especially, would seem to be very interesting and really just demand further study. One of the most interesting songs, in my humble opinion, is Viral Kinesis with its solar/fire references and (should I say) illuminated imagery. I think most listeners, like myself, would consider your lyrics to fall into the “intellectual” BM lyrics category. One thing is for sure; the lyrics challenge the listener. How does this affect, in your opinion, the bond between the band and the audience in a live situation? I mean, it’s probably easier to get the audience “involved” with more straightforward lyrics about anti-christianity, or something.

- Averse Sefira has never been a “Satan vomits on you” band and we never will be. We realize that quite a bit of what we do will not be readily absorbed and that some people simply will not rise to the challenge, but we cannot do it any other way, even if it means confounding people at shows. This has become ever more apparent to us after having to open for Belphegor for a month. We write what speaks to us and to do anything else would be disingenuous. We would rather be true to ourselves than pander to an audience with something that is obviously not of us. Also, since when is the nature of mysticism supposed to be transparent and easy to digest? Those who wish to understand are obligated to look deeper and find the meaning within. This to me is what makes our music valuable. We meet fans who tell us what they gleaned from our albums and it is striking how once they manage to reach that point of comprehension then they are able to understand it as we do. And our performances are every bit as violent as our more, shall we say “direct” counterparts, so this covers the necessary distance when it comes to connecting with our audiences.

One of the readings for the title of the album Advent Parallax is that of new beginning, the eve of something new, a new angle to approach things or something in those lines. In your opinion, besides the change in the role of lyrics, has your approach on Averse Sefira changed significantly - since the beginning of the band or since the Tetragrammatical... album, in particular? What about your approach on things ”beyond” Averse Sefira?

- Congratulations! You are the first interviewer who got the meaning of the album's title. But I would not say that we have changed significantly as a band, nor was the title pointing to anything like that. Our concepts and lyrics are multi-faceted and so many meanings can be found within them, but once we decided on Advent Parallax as the title we knew it was the right mission statement for the album. This is in part because we released it on Candlelight which was of course a large step forward for Averse Sefira, and in that regard the title's meaning points not so much to a change in our part but how we would be perceived by the larger metal community. This is of course the most convenient explanation. The more involved meaning comes through the lyrics themselves. Some of our fans might protest (and indeed, a few already have) but to me everything we have done since the first demo has been a direct and logical progression. At this point there are many who insist that we have our own sound, and I tend to agree. Advent Parallax is actually a direct continuation of Tetragrammatical Astygmata and our next album will be a direct continuation of Advent Parallax. As for my approach on things beyond the band, I don't quite know how to answer that except that in many ways I feel relatively unchanged since I first entered the world. I'm a little taller these days, though.

Even though you used Necromorbus again as the producer, as you did with Tetragrammatical Astygmata, the sound is somewhat different. More refined, I’d dare say. I can’t make just comparison for the sound, though, ’cause I have Tetragrammatical only on vinyl, but the sound on Advent Parallax would seem to be sharper, colder and – for the lack of a better word – cleaner. At the same time it is further from the “usual” Necromorbus sound, which I think is a good thing, even though I really love his production-style. Again, was this a deliberate choice, and how would you compare the recording sessions of Advent... and Tetragrammatical...?

- I would agree with your assessment of the sound difference between the albums. Tore [Necromorbus] has recently produced a handful of albums with a warmer and more ”modern” sound and he wanted to see how it would work with our new material and we agreed to try it that way. I am quite satisfied with the results; we did not want to simply do another version of Tetragrammatical. I expect the next album will also have its own sound as well. This keeps things compelling to the listener, or at least to me. And I agree that Tore did a good job in giving us our own soundscape for this album in particular. Then again, there are always morons who will insist until the sun burns out that everything we do sounds like Funeral Mist just because we have Necromorbus producing us.

I’m sorry to go this much back in time, but in an interview from 2001 (Ablaze) you stated that ”There is no prerequisite creativity or inspiration in simply being violent or brutal. For us it is a necessary adjunct, a turbulent foundation used to craft something larger, more spiritual.” I think this is still very well put. I’d dare to say many black metal fans/bands would object to the idea of black metal (and the ideas/ideology behind it) being constructive rather than just destructive. I mean, rather than just being about smashing icons, it’s about reaching enlightenment, for example. How do you see the idea of destructiveness/constructiveness as regards black metal and Satanism?

- Your research is thorough. And what I said was not so much meant as a plea for constructiveness in black metal as much as a refinement of intent. Averse Sefira has always been about building monuments to ourselves and to black metal itself. Even the early works of Immortal, Mayhem, Emperor, or even Burzum would not be regarded as destructive. On the contrary, it is perfectly easy to extol the greatness of evil assuming you understand evil in the first place. We were  compelled to create a black metal band because we were inspired by the way this music communicates ideas and meaning. Much of death metal (at the time, in particular) was stale to us because it was exclusively destructive and offered little outside of fatalism. It is a mistake to confuse constructiveness with positivity; evil itself is a construct of the human conciousness. Who are we to deny it?

How do you see the black metal canon and specifically the recent occultistic/spiritual movement? Do you think such themes and lifestyle are something new (in these proportions and in “media coverage” at least) in black metal, or is this movement more about taking black metal back to where it should all start?

- It is interesting to think that after all these years the genre has finally caught up to us. We were dealing in magickal systems while most bands were focused on Satanism, Nazism, or Nordic themes. Now we are suddenly seeing album after album full of references to hermetic systems and Qaballistiv imagery, along with employment of Enochian texts and the like. I am not suggesting we invented any of this but I can remember a time when we were relatively unique in that regard. I do not have a problem with more bands embracing these elements of course, as long as it is not treated like another trend. Even if it is we will still remain the same after everyone has discarded it. That aside, I would like to recommend that your readers investigate the first Mortuus album, “De Contemplada Morte”. It is one of the best albums from the “new breed” of occult black metal bands.

Alright, we’ve reached the end this time. Any last words you want to shout out to the Finnish fans?

- Yes- listen to more Demilich! And hopefully we will visit your land sooner than later. 

lauantai 28. huhtikuuta 2012

Ignivomous - Death Metal Fundamentalism

In my humble opinion, Ignivomous' 2007 demo Path of Attrition is one of the finest death metal demos of the new millennium. I don't recall what got me to buy the demo in the first place, as I don't remember hearing any advance tracks from it, but what I do remember is that the tape really took me by storm right off the bat. Frankly, I wasn't happy with the 2009 full-length Death Transmutation, but luckily we now have the fresh Contragenesis full-length to obliterate that disappointment, as you can hear yourself. Some really fucking nasty and vicious death metal right there! Bearing in mind that Klemi also interviewed Ignivomous for his Kaleidoscope 'zine, t's fitting to publish this intie now that we're only lay-out short of completing Serpentscope #2. In DIY zine world it might still take a while, though.

"Death Metal Fundamentalism"
Interview with Jael Edwards of Ignivomous.
Originally published in The Serpent Bearer I, March 2008.

The life expectancy of a good new death metal band isn’t very high these days. Every time a new deathstar sparks off in the metal skyline, it dies out as quickly as it came to being. Well, too quickly anyway. And yes, I’m still lamenting the deaths of Sweden’s Kaamos and Repugnant! So here we have Australia’s daredevils Ignivomous who are a new promising death metal band, and still have a good seven years to go if they too opt for a premature burial at the tender age of eight.

As far as metal music goes, Australia is primarily known for its many war metal groups. Ignivomous, however, are closer to pure death metal in the vein of Blasphemy, Incantation, Bolt Thrower, Grave and so on. In fact, the band has made a conscious decision to “maintain a purity of focus and avoid genre cross-pollination” in their music. What would bassist/vocalist Jael Edwards say to people who think this makes Ignivomous musically unambitious and narrow-minded?
– To put it bluntly, I would say they’re incorrect. For many, perhaps due to some hidden insecurity or desire to gain “legitimate” acceptance outside the underground, musical progression and ambition seems to encompass incorporating as many non-metal influences as possible, starts Jael and has me nodding fervently.
– But personally, I think working within a certain degree of stylistic limitation is better as it makes you, as a musician, work harder on creating something which somehow shows both your acknowledgement of and challenge to the conventions of the genre. The great composers wrote within the context of stylistically fixed concepts like the sonata or symphony, but we don’t criticise them for being less creative than some freeform jazz-improv piece which lacks discipline and internal cohesion.

– Anyway, we write the way we do because collectively it’s our interpretation of all the elements we worship in the DM albums we found so inspiring and which there isn’t a lot of going around these days. Death Metal fundamentalism? I don’t know…

I certainly hope there would be more of that going on. What everyone seems to think is fundamental in Australian metal, however, are the three letters W, A and R, and those usually boil down to savage blackened thrash metal. When speaking of Australian metal, we seldom hear of anything else than war metal. And when we hear someone talking about war metal, it usually alludes to the authentic Australian sort. Come to think of it, “Swedish war metal” just doesn’t sound right, does it.
– Yes, Australia – land of beer-soaked Battle-Jackets and Bullet belts. There is an element in which, due to the sheer size of the country, it’s more accurate to talk about regional scenes in Australia, but there is a sort of national metalhead type I guess, offers Jael.
– On one hand there is the sort of drunken maniac side and on the other a pretty pronounced broody introspective side born out of the intense isolation and boredom of living on the edge of the world. People have this impression of Australia as very scenic but everyone I know grew up in a concrete wasteland remarkable because it is so totally featureless and flat. Melbourne is a fairly gritty industrial city for the most part – think big areas of decaying warehouses rather than nice beaches and coral reefs. I think a lot of the character of Australian metal grew out of that sense of being in the middle of nowhere – the combination of drunken irreverence with neurotic obsession with morbid subjects. On that level, I think Ignivomous members are fairly “Australian” in person at least. Straight-up but pretty eccentric.


Many metal fans consider mainstream attraction the worst thing that has happened to metal in recent years, as though you couldn’t or shouldn’t like a band thousands of other people like. As far as I’m concerned, the worst thing that’s happened to metal are the polished crossover bands that make use of a metal-like riffing technique. And by the way, I’m not only referring to all those sugary American metal boy bands out there, because there are others. And they’re even worse. You know, the bands that sound easily categorizable and straightforward enough, but can’t be put in one box or another in the end. What I’m arguing here is that, in my opinion, purity does indeed have intrinsic value in metal! Or what say you, Jael?
– I agree totally, both on a level of aesthetics and music. The things which drew me to metal in the first place certainly aren’t represented by suburban hardcore kids singing about how mum doesn’t love them enough. It’s totally alien to me, and the people it attracts I’m happy to avoid.
– Outside of our own music, I’m fairly broad in my tastes with respect to genre, but fairly narrow in terms of atmosphere – I like a lot of military industrial, power electronics, neo-folk etc. Even within metal I like a fair few “left-field” acts. But I think the unifying feature is that they share a quality of being powerful and evocative, and an aesthetic sense drawing on horror, madness, tragedy etc.
– So for me, it’s more important that there is that dark feeling to metal, and other music I like tends to be the same. Which is why for example I think Sol Invictus is heavier than any of those bands you refer to, despite the fact that one uses all the surface trappings of metal and the other is all acoustic. Passion and integrity go further than loudness and teen angst for me anyway, retorts Jael.

Believe you me, I’m not saying that openmindedness and metal are mutually exclusive. I mean, we do have fairly convincing statements from the other end of the scales as well, like that from the founder of Australia’s Atomizer, Jason Healey, who said in Oaken Throne zine #2 that “to limit yourself is boring. I think that to exist within some predetermined confines is even more tedious. If your favourite band is Possessed and your goal is to work within the confines of what they created, why bother?” How about you Jael, would you say this is what you’re doing in a way, taking someone else’s musical vision and putting your name on it? How would you define “progress” in the case of death metal and Ignivomous?
– I guess this is putting the case from the other angle. Anyway, death metal is a fairly broad genre – there is a lot of rich ground which hasn’t been repeated ad nauseam. What we’ve interpreted our standpoint to be is to channel the FEELING death metal gave us in those early days, not to mimic or plagiarise our forebears. So on that level our progression will be to become more adept at our songwriting to nail that ratio between aggressive fast riffs, slow doomy parts and lead work that combine to create that sensation classic DM always gave us – dread and violence intertwined.
– At any rate, although I enjoyed Heresy Zine when it was going, I’ve never been an Atomizer fan.

Fair enough. What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “progressive death metal” uttered out loud?
– As long as the word “Pestilence” is uttered next I can let it pass. Otherwise I get mental images of beardy guys in shorts and sandals playing 10-string basses and have to go put on VON to recover, serves Jael.

Rest assured, Ignivomous aren’t progressive death metal. Starting from a good classical death metal moniker Ignivomous, which means “vomiting fire,” the band has every intention to strike a chord with those who still enjoy their death metal straight up. Like Jael says, the name already “conjures images of a violent eruption of fire from the subterranean depths, or perhaps huge cannons or something.” The band states on their Myspace site that what they recognize as death metal should be “devoid of influences from grind, slam and gore.”
– In terms of what I like in DM, it’s about the churning hellish atmosphere – the sense of being alternately nailed into the ground and filled with unholy power, declares Jael when asked to give his opinion of what mentally and psychologically defines death metal.

It is the opinion of many that death metal is meant to praise death, because without death there would be no real life, thus praising death is praising life – “to welcome death is to embrace life.” Others elucidate that dealing with topics most people would consider ghastly and brutal makes you more aware of what a human essentially is – a beast, an animal striving for survival. This in turn helps you to a better understanding of yourself. Of course this line of reasoning could be continued to more elaborate, intellectual and abstract ideas. In broad terms, Jael is happy to accept my summary of the meanings of death metal on the ideological and lyrical levels.
– That’s a very good summary. I like the old idea of “Momento Mori” – small macabre items kept on a scholar’s desk to remind him that death laughs at his pride, concurs Jael before falling into a rant about the current state of the human beast.
– I’ve always been fascinated by the human beast “in extremis” – the bizarre highs and lows that human psychology can bring people to. The idea of Hubris – the pride which leads to being humbled by the gods – seems to apply to all the idealists who pledge belief to progress, equality etc. Day by day, as the world reverts to a regime of naked force and gross sensuality their treasured belief in the holy nature of man as a spiritual being is becoming a laughing-stock. The more people have tried to impose utopia the more brutal the outcome has become, as any number of “Year Zero” experiments throughout the twentieth century have bourne witness to. The degree to which this is tragic, or to be exact any more tragic than the rest of human history with its sowing the fields with salt and carrying off the women into slavery, is dependant on how much you believe in the idea that we are any less barbaric than our forefathers.
– A sane man, in my view anyway, must build the bridge between his capacity for brutality and creation – ideally anyway, destruction can be a purging and cathartic instinct. There is a quote from a play about the Marquis De Sade by Peter Weiss I like – “Man is by nature a destroyer, but if he destroys and does not enjoy it, he becomes a machine.” We exist in a situation which is inherently destructive, by our very being, yet so many people cling to the illusion that their token efforts constitute sainthood. That while being a leech every bit as bloated and filthy as any other, in kind despite differences in degree, making token gestures aimed at moral superiority as much as any real effect, that they aren’t drowning in the same sewer as the rest of us.

– So, in answer, what the interpretation of death metal I carry with me is, it’s that idea of radical Nihilism. A reduction of all moral categories to the level of first principles, the first principle of human existance, as history bears out, being violence in attack and defense. In death metal, black metal and the darker end of industrial music you see a desire to confront that human abyss, purge all the hypocrisy and idiocy of the modern world – more often than not it’s a sort of morbid twitch, a Nihilistic urge to destroy which goes nowhere. Even in itself that’s something valuable I think. But often it’s used as a starting point for a person to build something useful for themselves in terms of their personal development.and as the saying goes, a house built on sand will fall, a house built on rock will endure. To start from the observation of the human being being a beast of conflict can only be healthier than assuming an artificial benevolence, concludes Jael.


As I already mentioned Atomizer, and since we’re talking about the ideological side of death metal, I have to bring up the Atomizer song title When I Die, I Wanna Die Violently. Would Jael agree with the line “What could be more mundane than dying of old age”? Or to paraphrase one of the few stand-up comedians I’ve ever found entertaining, George Carlin: “Die big! You don’t wanna just pass away. You don’t wanna end up a euphemism.”
– Maybe dying choking on vomit (Cant dust for vomit!), cracking your head on the pavement in a street brawl, car crash... all the metal clichés. It’s romantic enough to imagine some sort of heroic last stand situation, but what are the odds? Goes back to the idea of death metal as realism – all the people I’ve known to die violently didn’t have any sort of Manowar moment – they bled to death on the pavement or in the back of an ambulance going in and out of conciousness. Mundane because they didn’t finish whatever it was they were working on – uncompleted masterpieces are mundane!
– Personally, I think being a bizarre old eccentric would be pretty cool. Some gnarled old greybeard living off in the hills in a ricketty tower full of books, that’ll be me, sketches Jael.

So I take it that Ignivomous aren’t going away anytime soon either. Besides proving themselves