I like to discover new bands which really have that special something, like essence or personality. And if they add something of their own to the music, well, that works for the better. This is what happened with Liber Null, a new band which I discovered last year, after they released their first full length “I – The Serpent” through the French label Osmose Productions. I liked that album instantly, because of the atmosphere and the power contained on those 6 songs. (listen to the title track and you’ll be amazed).
I was very curious to find out more about this new band so I asked Psaalm (vocals) and Ades (guitars and bass) if they wanted to answer some of my questions. Below is the result, which sheds a bit of light in this darkness that is Liber Null. Enjoy!
Liber Null appears for the first time in Scrolls of Darmoth and I thank you very much for accepting this interview. Last year you have released your first full length and I’m really curious to find out more about this album and what’s behind the band’s concept. Here we go:
1. Why the need for another black metal group? What has Liber Null to offer in this already saturated extreme musical scene?
Psaalm: We did not think about “offering” and we do not care about the saturation of the scene. Me and Ades have been in contact for several years, I always respected him as a talented guitarist and thought that gathering our common visions of Black Metal could have created something new, something worth the effort. The goal of crafting new art is the “need” you’ve asked about.
2. Liber Null was formed last year and in November you released the first full length via Osmose. This album was a big, pleasant surprise, but it came out of the blue, so to speak. What were your expectations regarding the band and the reception of the album by the media and public, considered you did not follow the “traditional” way of releasing a demo or a 7” EP before the album came out?
Psaalm: Me and Thorns already worked with Osmose Productions with bands such as Frostmoon Eclipse and Fides Inversa. We greatly admire the work of Hervé Herbaut through the years in helping Black Metal to shape itself as we know it today and so, when the album was ready, it was our first choice to propose it to him. Osmose is treating us amazingly, and we look forward to a long collaboration.
3. If the other two band members (Thorns and Psaalm) are already quite known due to their activity in Frostmoon Eclipse and other bands, you seem to be a bit of a mystery. Who exactly is Ades and what is his musical background?
Ades: ah well, I listen to and play music. You would think this is a given, if not an understatement for someone in a band, but you would be surprised at the amount of “musicians” who do very little of that. What I mean is that I listen with keen ears to music as a whole and try to take out of it its brilliance and translate it into what is useful to me. You might find a fantastic sequence or structure in the least expected song categories. I never saw myself as an artist but rather an artisan: I create musical structures which I deem solid and the more the tools I have at my disposal, the more sophisticated the result will be without losing the integrity of the structure itself. To bring this into Liber Null, I have a fluid approach that takes from many genres I appreciate, I strongly believe in challenging the dogma and I try to hint it in the musical message. Obviously, this band is a joint venture of talents and the musical message, whilst still strongly bearing my mark, has to be agreed upon by everyone and thus it falls into a somewhat more rigid grid.
4. I can guess where the band name comes from, but can you please provide more details about the concept of Liber Null and the message contained on “I – The Serpent”? By the way, the lyrical concept is amazing. Who’s in charge with writing the lyrics?
Psaalm: I wrote the lyrics for “I – The Serpent”, but the whole concept is something that goes beyond me and channels the common vision of all the band into words. I’m not used to explain the lyrics, as a prose would not give justice to them and feel a bit too “scholastic”. Suffice to say that the whole lyrical work is about defiance against dogmas and chains, through one’s ascension to spiritual enlightenment.
5. “Nothing is true. Everything is permitted”. How does this concept apply for Liber Null and its music?
Ades: I might have previously answered that. Black Metal is idiosyncratic in the respect it fiercely challenges dogmas to the point that it reaches dogmatic from the other side. Obviously, we do play a certain genre, which means the music has to tick certain boxes but I always try to impress some groove into the songs, and you do not hear that too often into more canonic releases. It is a conscious choice and my subtle middle finger to a musical status quo. Nothing, not even what I do is sacred, and for the message that we are driving, everything is permitted, so long as the message stays intelligible.
6. The whole structure of the album is very interesting. From the diabolical beauty of the slow and atmospheric passages to the vicious frenzy and violence of the fast parts, this record truly is a black diamond. It is quite rare for such a release to overwhelm you these days, when so many records come out one after another, so please tell me who shaped the shapeless forms and how these songs came into being the way they have? How long did the writing process take for Liber Null?
Ades: I did, but with strong collaboration from all other members, especially Psaalm. I created the songs and songs were discussed and rearranged where it was felt I swayed too much from the path. Luckily we understand each other very well in words and the whole process was and is pretty seamless. How they came to be? Well I sat down for a good amount of time and hacked at the shapeless until it made sense. Like I said before, I do not listen to just one thing so it will never sound like just one thing. Where would the Chaos be in that otherwise?
7. Is “I – The Serpent” a concept album in any way? What correlation exists (if any) between the cover and inside content (music and lyrics)?
Psaalm: I can’t say this is a proper concept album. All the lyrics have a common factor that I explained you before, but each song has its own meaning and purpose that goes together with the music. Songs like “The Unrepenting Son” and “The Heretic’s Tongue” depict the act of spiritual defiance, while other tracks as “Unholy Cosmogony” deal with the transformation of the I into a reflection of the light bearer Himself. About the cover, it comes from a drawing by a talented German artist which I contacted: the imagery hidden in it points the whole concept towards the earthen level of existence, where true divinity hides.
8. The term “occult” has lost all its hidden meanings during these past years, due to the plethora of bands/publications/record labels/fans who have abused it, distorting its very substance. But in the end, many of those bands will come out empty handed, because they will not acquire the true sense of what they used/talked about/dealt with. How can you describe the visual imagery of Liber Null, with skulls, candles, horns etc, the entire paraphernalia of a real black metal band? Aren’t you afraid that by using these traditional symbols your message will be somehow lost and people will stop seeing it as it actually is?
Psaalm: The word “occult” will never lose any meaning. Not certainly because of bands using or misusing concepts having this word as main vector. I have been part of the Black Metal scene since more than 15 years but still I find it difficult to judge or point the finger against musicians that may or may not give a meaning to their music or their opuses. The scene is saturated, yes. Is this a problem? Well, I don’t think so. If you take a look at the main underground black metal festivals, it’s always the same bands on stage, because that’s where the quality lies, and people is musically educated enough to know what to focus on. If a person, or a band, feel the urge to create something that is meaningless to me or to many, let them follow their paths no matter what. Time is an unrivaled judge. Regarding the symbols that can be found on our debut album’s artwork, they are there for a reason and they could not be replaced by something more “graphically appealing”. Black Metal has its own pillars, and it’s good to challenge them as it is good to respect them.
9. Black metal has changed a lot since the 1990s and apparently it changes all time. Some have claimed that black metal has died, some still support this underground current. How do you see Liber Null in this context, does the band belong in a certain movement or scene?
Psaalm: Black Metal is not dead, of this I’m certain. On the contrary, it is now more alive then ever. There has been a certain evolution from the rebellious, savage beginnings to a dimension where the artists have gained a certain knowledge – or at least the WILL to obtain it – of the Left Hand Path as an instrument to channel Black Metal into a new shape, a sort of “soundtrack” for the occultist. I find this extremely sensed, as Black Metal cannot exist without a real, deep meaning; the exact contrary of pointless commercial sellout projects proposing ex-fashion models and old recycled so called “pioneers” of the scene. We do not need this.
10. Have you ever considered touring as well, or this group will be strictly a studio project? It would be very interesting to listen to your songs live, they can send a special message, if one is keen enough to observe it.
Ades: Geography is presently not on our side but I yes, this will be played live. I personally do not envision anything less than powerful and sonically ferocious when this will happen.
11. Music has always been known to be a powerful tool which, when striking the right chord, can trigger a spiritual, even religious experience. Are you trying to trigger that chord in your audience with Liber Null’s music? And if that happens, would you consider that your goal (as a musician and as a band) has been reached, so to speak?
Ades: nothing religious, no. Spiritual, maybe, but I challenge anyone to define what spiritual actually means without giving follow to dozens of other question. Move them? Yes. Be it tears, rage, animosity, melancholy, indifference…it is frankly irrelevant to me. We are putting Chaos on stage, and Chaos has no purpose if not Chaos itself. Anything else would be voiding our message of any validity.
Well, it seems we have arrived at the end of this interview. I thank you again for accepting this. Since my guests have the last words, please feel free to add something more.
Psaalm: thank you for your time and support. To those interested into Liber Null, be sure visiting our Fb profile http://www.facebook.com/libernull or Osmose Productions official website http://www.osmoseproductions.com .
All is Chaos.
Photo credits go to Liber Null.