Beyond the Great Vast Forest – An interview with Transilvania – February 2020 AB

“Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own will.” This is how Dracula welcomed his guest, Jonathan Harker, in his Transylvanian castle.

I also bid you welcome to my zine. And as my guests, I invite you to read the below interview I did recently with Possessor from the Austrian black metal band Transilvania. “For the dead travel fast”.

1. I will start with the obvious question first. Why did you choose the name Transilvania in the first place? What is the relation between your music and the mystical land beyond the forest?

Possessor: First of all we want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to reveal more details of our past, current and future paths. After the separation of our drummer during the Old Skull era, we were forced to continue under a new name. We chose this name because almost everybody associates something dark and evil with this. And I guess this is what a name is supposed to be: a warning or an invitation.

2. Why do you think Transylvania (the land) fascinated so many metal bands and musicians (e.g. Iron Maiden, Dead & Mayhem, Jon Nödtveidt & Dissection, Watain etc)? What makes it so special to the metal music? Have you ever been there?

It’s pretty easy to explain why so many musicians were inspired by this land. First, you have the romantic aspect caused by Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula which brought vampires back to a mainstream audience. Second, and more important for metal music, were the tales of Vlad the Impaler which affected the lyrics of musicians you named. And third, and for us the reason why we still engage with this topic, is something you can hardly find any information on the internet: ancient tales and rites which are still told and celebrated by the citizens of Transylvania today. We are going to sing about one of them on our upcoming album for example. Regarding your question if we have ever been in Transylvania, we have never been there as band (which is a pity) but hopefully we can make it there on our first tour.

3. Before Transilvania, you’ve done your apprenticeship in Epidermis and Old Skull. What was the reason for starting it all over with Transilvania? Why not continuing with Old Skull, as the band was really promising?

Both bands were founded in the early days of our musical being. During this time we were dealing with a lot of different influences and besides that, all of us were pretty young back then. Olfpulsus and I just wanted to evolve in a new direction and Old Skull was more like a prototype of Transilvania. You could say that Transilvania is somehow the result of both of our previous bands.

Transilvania The Night of Nights album cover

4. On Transilvania’s debut album, “The Night of Nights”, you have used a track from Old Skull’s demo “Summon the Ancient Lords”. Why did you pick “Ghosts Along the Candles” in particular and not another one, for example? (By the way, that demo is fantastic and needs a tape repress!).

“Ghosts Along the Candles” was the last song we wrote for the “Summon the Ancient Lords“ EP and was the first song that gave us this special dark Transilvania-feeling during writing it and playing it live, so we thought it would fit perfectly as some kind of transition and token of our past.
There is actually a tape version of “Summon the Ancient Lords“ available through the label Ropes & Bones.

5. Even though Transilvania‘s music can be defined as black metal, one can very easily detect various styles mixed together and thrown in the cauldron (heavy, speed, thrash). What bands do/did inspire you and how would you describe the band’s creating process?

Most of our influences are changing from time to time which one will also be able to hear on our second album. However, bands or albums like Mayhem’s “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas“, Dissection’s “The Somberlain“, Morbid Angel’s “Altars of Madness“ or Tormentor’s “Anno Domini“ are still and will always be our biggest influences.

6. Your lyrics talk about witches, Erzsebet Bathory the mighty blood countess, vampirism and other occult related topics. How important are the folklore and the legends in Transilvania‘s universe? Are there any interesting legends in your area?

Old legends and tales are the main topic of our lyrics and take over a huge part of what Transilvania is about. There are quite a lot of dark and creepy tales around Innsbruck. One of our new songs, which also is the most complex song we ever wrote so far is about a well-known legend in the alpine area.

7. The music on your recordings is savage and “chaotic” (in a good way), which creates a creepy atmosphere for the listener. Possessor’s voice is wild and sometimes sounds truly “possessed”, as if Renfield himself was doing the lead vocals. How did you come up with such atypical vocal lines?

Guess we are constructing the lyrics like most of the NWOBHM bands did back in the days, but pronouncing them in a darker, second wave of Black Metal way. This would probably describe the atypical vocals best.

8. If the band were active during the mid-80s era, in what country/region would you have liked to live and play?

Because we feel attracted to more than just one scene, it’s hard to say. Two of our favorites would be the Ruhr area with the base for a more aggressive style and the coming up of the first few Florida Death Metal bands while they still played in a more satanic and dirty way.

9. If you were to do a cover (for your live set or for a tribute album), what band (or song) would you choose and why?

We usually don’t cover other songs very often, but if we do, it will be something untypical for our genre.

10. Can you please explain the title of your first album? I am really curious to find out more of what this “Night of Nights” is actually about. Since it is divided in two parts, “Post Meridiam” and “Ante Meridiam”, can we say that this is more like a concept album?

Yes, you can say that. Every song stands for one hour and the whole album guides you from dusk till dawn and is split up right on midnight into these two parts.

11. Later this year you will release your 2nd album, “Of Seep and Death”. What can we expect from this sophomore release? Will it be in the same vein as your previous works, or you will bring new elements to the table? Are you also planning a European tour in support of the new release? (Maybe visit Hungary as well?)

You can definitely expect a more aggressive and darker songwriting. Our new guitarist Desolator brought some great new elements into our riff style which opened other doors for us. So far we got booked for a few shows around Europe but don’t have any plans for a concrete tour right now. However, if someone is interested, drop us a line, we are ready to kill!

12. Speaking of touring, where does Transilvania feel at ease the most, in the studio, or on stage? Have you gone on tour in support of “The Night of Nights”?

To be honest, both situations are challenging and exciting by its own. It can be a long and hard journey from writing songs to hearing the first master of your record. We are still a small band which has to organize everything by ourselves for shows. But we don’t want to complain about all the struggles, you are also sharing a lot of good and strong moments both being in the studio and on stage.

Transilvania band photo
Transilvania band photo

13. In recent years lots of black metal bands have incorporated elements from other genres in their music, so several styles emerged: black/thrash, heavy/black, speed/black etc. Why do you think this resurgence of the ’80s-like bands is so successful?

There are quite a lot of reasons why so many came back to these simple, but strong aesthetics. The most controversial one is of course the internet. Since the coming up of platforms like Youtube, Bandcamp, Spotify etc. it has never been easier to find new and old bands, or to promote you own music, all within seconds. In the past few years more and more people found a connection to this kind of music. Most of the underground festivals became larger and larger and are sold out very quickly. Even the biggest magazines of metal music now are reporting about the underground scene constantly.

14. Riding on the back of Satan’s Stallion. Can Black Metal exist without Satan? That is the question. But also, where do you think is the thin line between those who “practice what they preach” and those who just use the satanic/occult symbolism without going deeper on the (left hand) path?

The question should be „Can Black Metal exist without darkness, evilness and the beauty of melancholy“ – it doesn’t really matter how you call it, it rather depends on for what you stand for as an artist. Black Metal is probably the most multi-faced genre of metal music the past 30 years and it still hasn’t stopped growing by now.

Many bands don’t worship Satan in any kind of way, but address other, even deeper and darker topics than the typical LaVeyan Satanism. You can easily figure out what a band or artist is about by reading through a whole booklet while listening the album. Some of them have really reached certain levels of knowledge in the pandemonium of awareness. And some just use the known symbols to express their point against the mainstream society. Additionally you have to count in the musical aspect too. For example: would you want to listen to a band in the style of Blasphemy, Proclamation and Bestial Warlust with themes about the melancholic landscapes of their home country?

In our case we mostly had to deal with the fact that the devil already was set into the philosophical role as the eternal antagonist and seducer in those tales. In our lyrics we changed the perspective and saw us as the evil itself which commits murder and other abominations. All in all, there is no static line in Black Metal. The art is to combine the lyrics with music in the most creative way and the attempt to catch the listeners deepest fears and emotions.

15. Until now all your records have been released in various formats, including tape and LP (hope that will be the case with “Of Sleep and Death” as well) Are you guys collectors? What formats do you prefer the most?

Vinyl! No other format has reached the magnificent sound of a vinyl. We don’t see us as die-hard collectors, but some treasures can be found in our living rooms.

With this we have reached the end of this journey. Thank you for the time you took to answer these questions. Looking forward for the new album and hope to see you guys in Budapest. The last words belong to you.

We thank you for the great and thought-provoking questions. Someone has done his homework well, haha. Hopefully we were able to give you a small insight of what Transilvania is about. Right now we are focused on the work of our upcoming album, but we would really appreciate an invitation to Budapest. Our bloodlust is longing for Eastern Europe!

Band contact:

https://www.facebook.com/transilvaniaaustria

 

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