From Sweden comes a new band, called Malakhim, Satan’s messenger. In 2017 they released Demo I, a fantastic demo tape containing 3 songs of wicked black metal (review can be found here), so I was curious to find out more about what’s behind this band. E (vocals) was kind enough to answer my questions. Enjoy!
I. Originally, in the Hebrew Bible, a Mal’akh was an angel, a messenger of God. Whose messengers are you and what is your aim? What do you want to express with your music and lyrics, now when so much has been already said and done?
Correct, and in our case the interpretation should be a bit more ambiguous. Whom do we speak of? Satan. Simply put. Malakhim is an expression of urges and ideas that somehow isn’t always easy to explain. Suffice to say that its our creative outlet, and we pour whatever impulses and ideas we get in the creative process into the vessel that makes up the band.
You’re right, a lot has already been said and done, and we’re not going out there with some fresh new mission or pretending to bring something unique. We’ve decided to create our art because we wanted to create our art.
Several months ago, before the release of Sektarism‘s latest album “La Mort de L’Infidèle” I sent Eklezjas’tik BerZerK an invitation for an interview. Fortunately, he agreed to answer my questions so what you have here is final result: a very interesting discussion about his bands, his projects, Les Apôtres de L’Ignominie, religion, faith etc. A truly complex character with a strong and interesting point of view. Enjoy the reading and listen to the music.
1. “La Mort de L’Infidèle”, the second Sektarism album has just been released. You have taken some time to write and compose this material. How do you see it, compared to the other Sektarism works, what have been the reactions so far? Can this album take the band one step further on its evolution scale, has it crossed any boundaries?
“La Mort de l’Infidèle” is for us a satisfying opus in many ways: lyrically, musically, visually, everything about this release gives us a feeling of self-accomplishment. The process of live recording was more successfully mastered than before. It’s a logical evolution, a step in the direction we intended. We have achieved our goals and our views and now aim to do even better with the net album to come, “Fils de Dieu”. Maybe quite differently, you will see…
2. As usual, on the new album there are only 3 tracks, which last for almost an hour. This has become some sort of a trademark for Sektarism and I really like that. Instead of a regular album with multiple songs, you chose right from the start to have very few, but long tracks. Why is that? Do you fell that less is good and can create and maintain a certain atmosphere on the record?
Absolutely, or at least it’s the way that fits our own sensibility and expression. To each his own but we feel at ease with long pieces of music. This song format has many advantages, the first being giving room for the text to live and resonate. It can spread itself across the whole song and take its time to wield its effects. Same for the music: long songs are of course better to generate a trance. Sektarism’s music is a demanding one even if it something sounds simple and repetitive: it needs attention; you definitively have to focus entirely on it.
3. Until now, in 10 years of activity, Sektarism has released a handful of splits and EPs, but only 2 full lengths. Why did you choose this slow approach, was it intentional?
More or less. Bear in mind that we also have other involvements in Malhkebre and other projects (Malekhamoves, Obscurantist and now Faction Senestre) and our labels, Necrocosm Productions/Battleskr’s Records to run. So we cannot always give all the time needed for Sektarism or another project, and some years are more dedicated specifically to one or another. We may have two Sektarism albums available (plus another to come soon), but only one Malhkebre LP released yet! Anyway it’s better to be patient and let things come in time needed.
4. For the Sektarism releases and live appearances you use many Christian elements: Latin expressions, symbols, even outfits. Why is Christianity such a big influence on you?
Simply because we were born and live in a country with 2000 years of Christian beliefs and culture. We may reject it but it forms the background we come from anyway. We were raised with it to the point it melted with our perception of things. For young European it’s logical to figure the face of the Nazarene when questioning ourselves about the Divine. Nothing more logical then to turn all the Christian regalia upside-down in a great reversion of things, and pervert it in the name of the Devil and Ignominy.
5. Speaking of live shows – from what I’ve seen on YouTube, a Sektarism performance is much more than a simple concert. It’s a religious ceremony, a live, ritualistic manifestation of faith, in which the band actually practice what they preach. Many bands of today claim they do the same thing, but very few can actually match this intensity you achieve on stage. How can your ritual be so real, after all? How do you prepare for such a powerful representation?
You nailed it: we do prepare ourselves before, and it makes a huge difference. I can’t speak for all the other bands and how do they cope with the act of playing live, but I’ve witnessed some of them who came onstage as if they were just going to play thrash metal. They had no kind of specific preparation whatsoever excepted for the make-up. No meditation, no group nor personal conditioning, nothing. Honestly, I’ve seen some mainstream rock bands taking it more seriously than some “religious” or “occult” bands who had no idea whatsoever of what they were about to do, except lightning candles and playing boring riffs. And that’s the point: when you’re honest with yourself, when you have enough of insight about who you are and what you do, you naturally do what you’re supposed to, fully, honestly.
6. I know that at some point you had a small tour outside France with Malhkebre, while with Sektarism you played only once abroad, at Speyer Grey Mass in Germany (correct please if I’m wrong). Why is that, is it because you only sing in French and this can prevent other audiences to receive the true message of your music?
I don’t believe so. We have the expectation that -even if lyrics are of a primordial importance- our music speaks for itself and anybody could get it regardless of his/her ability to understand French. We talk about trance here, of a wordless communication, something that is addressed directly to the lower part of the subconscious… it really has nothing to do with a human language. Somehow we could yield the same effects by chanting in English or Latin: of course every language has its own rhythm, sonorities and scansion, but we seek something more atavistic here. The Devil speaks in every tongues.
7. Together with other bands – Darvulia, Malhkebre and Sektarism- you founded “Les Apôtres de L’Ignominie” (The Apostles of Ignominy), which is some sort of a congregation. What is the purpose of this small group? I have read the statements on the websites affiliated to it (http://obscurantist.org and http://www.theapostlesofignominy.org) , but I want to hear it from you. What do you want to achieve with this?
Spreading our philosophy and views using different mediums, congregating people of interest, joining forces to express ourselves more easily, exchange ideas and concepts… it’s interesting to act as a kind of “inner circle”, Black Arts should not be limited to a solitary experience. After all the shit world of the 21st century is based upon individualism and the tearing down of all forms of solidarities, that’s the way the liberal dictatorship imposes its laws and erases the desire of resistance in us. Union around common values and ideals is a source of strength. Victory will be reached with armies, not isolated fighters.
8. Besides Sektarism, you also play in two other bands, which have a different musical approach but share the same ideology. Malhkebre plays nihilistic black metal while Malekhamoves deals with death metal. Which one of these bands is closer to your heart and how do you manage to split between them? Is Sektarism the one who requires the most attention, so to speak?
None of them benefits of any favor or preference, all are considered equally, yet we spent less time working on Malekhamoves (for now… beware!), and lately Sektarism was given more focus. But it will change, as some plans are about to spawn both regarding Malhkebre and Malekhamoves.
9. In Sektarism you are not using lyrics, like most of the bands do. Instead you use prayers, litanies and other psalms to declare your never ending love for the Lord. The musical instruments are just the tools which help you create and reach this fantastic sense of religious ecstasy. How do you, as a band, manage to write these hymns? How much is spontaneity/improvisation and how much is programmed during a recording?
Improvisation is a key element, it’s the pillar of our method. Last and soon-to-come albums were recorded live, based on improvisations around pre-worked themes. We always take the final result as a surprise, as we can’t predict how it will sound. It’s a whole process engaging creativity and personal involvement, obviously you don’t put yourself in the same mood when you’re about to record improvised music that riffs and structures written and worked previously over and over again. We aim to work with a living matter, something not entirely under our control that can either blow us away or bring our hopes down. Difficulty and challenge, putting ourselves out of a comfort zone is stimulating, and here insight and humility are required.
10. Necrocosm Productions and Battlesk’rs Productions are two other entities which you deal with. The first one is an online distro while the other is a well-known underground label, which has released over the years jewels from famous French bands like Antaeus, Darvulia, Aosoth, Temple of Baal, Malhkebre, Osculum Infame etc. How hard is to run a label/distro these days, when more and more people have stopped buying music. Do you feel like this is still worth it?
It still is, but it is certainly as difficult and demanding as before, maybe even more. People still buy music, at least in the niche of extreme metal where the material format is still appreciated and seek. But consuming trends have changed, and we note that people can become more and more exacting. Some online selling sites have a specialty of hard-to-please customers who are more into collecting objects that praising music. Putting aside second-hand (and even sometimes first-hand) prices that get to a delirious level, people there will promptly argue of any hour of delay, invisible scratch or whatever fantasy their mania drives them to. It’s often both surreal and painful to deal with such wannabee specialists, but alas it’s a population we cannot avoid.
11. What are religion and true devotion for you? How would you explain this desire to believe blindly, without a physical proof, rejecting all the scientifically theories which prove that God did not create this world and, even more, that God cannot be real?
True devotion is two-faced, both a strength or a weakness whether you ultimately believe in your own possibilities of expect another entity to do the work for you. We placed our lives and ideals under the mark of the Devil, this does not necessarily mean we renounce all forms of will. Spirituality is foremost an open door to questions, doubts and experience, not an abandon of intellect. About the concept of blind desire, it holds another paradox: as said above it is not a defeat of the will and intellect, but it generally proceed from a personal experience that can be wordless. Something things we live cannot be analyzed, rationalized and theorized, you have to accept them as they are.
But of course the common denominator of a large part of humanity is herd mentality and fear of experience, so it’s easy for some to dwell in the comfort a secured worldview based on bigotry and superstition. Better to leave it aside, as it is a loss of time. More interesting for me is the assurance some will get in hiding themselves behind scientific concepts they don’t understand better than a regular Jew understands the mysteries of the Kabbalah, accept them to structure their worldview giving blind confidence to more educated people who know for them, think that everything can be reduced to particles and numbers with no insight whatsoever concerning what atoms are made of and how many paradoxes it holds, but eventually proclaim they are rational spirits. You may reject the idea of God as the impossibility of something of unknown nature that you can’t see, can’t touch, can’t measure or weight but which can shape and structure the universe and interact with it… but what about cold dark matter then? As you pinned it out, we only have scientific theories. And none of them radically dismiss the possibility of “something else”. Ostracizing this very idea for the sake of science without any material proof nor will to discuss and confront views is the mark of blind faith and intolerance, not science. A reasonable spirit is open to every possibility without admitting definitely one or another.
12. Human beings had always sought refuge in religion. They have believed in a higher power out of fear, guilt or credulity since the birth of man. As I can accept someone’s need to believe in something, I do not understand the religious fervor or the bigotry. Why do you think a person can suddenly transform from a normal being into a religious fanatic? What can trigger such a radical change in someone’s life? When is the line between belief and fanaticism crossed?
I strongly disagree with the systematic assimilation of belief to “fear, guilt or credulity”. If these concepts are indeed the marks of bigotry and fanaticism, they do not match with the general depiction of spirituality. Moreover, they reek too much of judeo-abrahamic devotion to fit with more ancient or foreign forms of beliefs. Ancient pagan cults are generally devoid of any form of guilt from men towards the Gods as it is a monotheistic invention. Same for credulity which results more of a modern, preposterous, Christian point of view upon these cults than a spiritual and historical fact. Reducing the concept of God(s) to an omnipotent super-entity, be it to worship or to contradict it, is having a childish and limited conception of divinity and subsequently what spirituality is about.
As for the rise of fanaticism we face nowadays, it’s pretty hard to set general explanations as each spiritual path is a personal one and each individual will have different reasons to throw himself in the waters of extremism. But observing the slow process of rottenness our civilization is facing, the way everything sacred is despised and ridiculed, how the human potential is each and every day teared down to an unprecedented alienating low makes me wonder how can the individuals don’t revolt more than that. We have integrated the motto “don’t bite the hand that feeds” to the point of guilt that we willingly accept every form of poison this hand gives us. So it’s quite surprising there are not more terrorists and extremists, maybe things will change…
13. There exists on YouTube a silent documentary, “Into Great Silence”, about the everyday life of some French monks. It’s very interesting and it has such a “primitive” message. At some point in the movie this line comes up: “Tu m’as séduit, O, Seigneur et moi, je me suis laissé séduit”, which really gave me goose bumps. What do you think of this phrase, can this be a true manifest of the Apostles of Ignominy? Is this the quintessence of belief?
It indeed looks like the quintessence of holy revelation, an intimate meeting with the Lord that breaks into one’s soul. I believe one is seduced because it already had in him the seed, even without knowing it. It’s a mystery how can revelation happen, as it works in different ways for each one to be touched. Every member of the Apostles has its own path, his own history, and came to belief in a personal way. You have to be confident, let go your past certitudes, and walk forth.
14. Would you consider spending some time in a monastery, just to immerse yourself in the way of life of the “holy”, to better absorb the ways of the “enemy”? Somebody once said that in order “to know your enemy, you must become your enemy”. Do you agree with this?
Solitude is a fundamental help for any kind of meditation and inner inquest (even if it’s not mandatory as group meditation are of common use in certain traditions like Zen or Lamaism). But yes, taking a time of reclusion is something a practitioner is supposed to do from time to time, both as a challenge (to set yourself apart of all mundane comfort and temptations for a while) and a tool for meditation and insight. Living such an experience in a monastery could be of great interest in term of practice, like being forced to observe rules of discipline silence etc. but I don’t see the point of doing it in the larger field of a war against Christianity: we are not fighting against a bunch of solitary monks in their abbey but against a whole society and its morals. We wage our war in the cities, thus I’m not sure we would have relevant things to learn from this kind of enemy.
15. In my country (which is also a very religious country by the way), during the big religious ceremonies, men and women, both young and old, are trampling each other and fighting (to death) to be the first to kiss the holy relics of a so-called saint. What is inside these people’s minds, by doing this they’ll be granted a place in heaven? Or is it because people still like to be led like cattle and this imaginary, spiritual “freedom” is actually what they look for?
What is beside their mind is up to each individual. As for the rest such crowd frenzy is common in sacred and mundane fields, you have the same with hooliganism for example. Why do people kill each other during a fucking football match? Isn’t that even more meaningless than killing for God? At least religious fanaticism is based on a larger and more promising world-view than what the UEFA has to offer. From an opponent’s perspective, I’m mostly intrigued and fascinated by the power resulting from such an egregore you describe in your question. This is the most important thing to experience.
16. Also, in some regions (not necessarily remote or rural) we can still encounter cases like the one described in the “Over the Hills” book and movie. (An epileptic young girl was tied to a cross for 3 days with no food and water while other nuns and the local priest performed several exorcisms on her because they thought she was possessed. This brutal treatment led to her death and they were eventually accused and convicted for murder). How can that be possible in the 21st century?
The human brain hasn’t evolved that much last centuries, and education and scientific knowledge never were of great power to prevent men to perpetrate to most horrid of atrocities, so why would such kind of things not existing in the 20th or 21st century? Your question seems a bit too optimistic concerning humanity if you allow me to say so. Please remember than the worst genocides, be it in Europe or in Rwanda, were organized and perpetrated under the monitoring of clever, educated and rational minds with the complicity of masses having access to education and knowledge. Such things will certainly become rarer with time, but never disappear. Such is human nature.
17. Humanity is a huge paradox: while these days technology and science are sky rocketing, human life regresses slowly but surely. On one hand we don’t know how to speak/write in our own language anymore, we become alienated and estranged because of all the gadgets and social media crap and on the other hand there’ s this religious virus which still poisons the minds of many half-wits (beati pauperes). What we’ll be the outcome, what we’ll eventually happen? How long will religion exist before people will finally realize how dangerous it is?
Religion will forever exist in one form or another in the human psyche. It has always been in here and forever will. It will change, take all possible shapes, but never leave our brains and heart. If it will, then we will no longer be humans. And maybe then will we stop being so dangerous, as it is us and not religion in itself that bear the seed of murder and destruction.
18. Huysmans once said in his masterpiece “Là-Bas” that “Worshiping the Devil is no more insane than worshiping god…it is precisely at the moment when positivism is at its high-water mark that mysticism stirs into life and the follies of occultism begin”. Was he right?
In some ways yes, obvious to say that you can get access to a larger frame when you break the barriers of Manicheism and duality. You can have to engage yourself in a one-sided faith and push it to its logical limits before acknowledge the existence first of these boundaries and second of their human origin. It’s a popular credo in modern black metal to bow to a theist conception of Satan – and subsequently of God. Or to claim to do so, not that much people are genuine believers. The theist representation of the Devil serves a great purpose, as it enhance the extremism of some individuals. Again, pushing yourself to a far distant and extreme limit. But it’s only the first part of the journey then you can switch to a different perception of things, see them as more subtle than they look at first, and ultimately accept the dissolution of previous spiritual landmarks for something more uncertain. It’s a personal and fully subjective point of view, not all the Apostles would agree with it maybe, but it’s also our strength to doubt and discuss. The mysteries of a real Revelation are maybe not to be discovered in this human world. We dwell in a dark maze of ignorance were spirituality is a mere feeble candle. The real flame is to be ignited in yourself.
France has developed over the years a strong and serious scene when it comes to black metal. I won’t mention the already famous LLN here, but bands like Antaeus, Temple of Baal, Malhkebre, Osculum Infame, Darvulia, Christicide etc have managed to spread the venom for quite some time now. VI is no newcomer to the scene, even though in 10 years of activity they have only released only one studio album, the magnificent De Preastigiis Angelorum (Agonia Records, 2015).
In order to find out more about this band which I really appreciate, I asked the main composer INRVI some questions. Here are his replies:
1. How did the idea of the three way split released by Agonia Records earlier this March come to mind? The result is really impressive as each band comes with a new and very powerful track. Whose idea was to put Temple of Baal, The Order of Apollyon and VI on the same record?
Because The Order of Apollyon just signed a deal with Agonia. BST wanted to officially celebrate this the best way possible.
2. VI’s first EP (De Praestigiis Daemonum) was re-released by Agonia Records in 2017 with a different cover and a different sound. Why this need to re-release so quickly such an already impressive debut? Were you not happy at all with the way the Art of Propaganda LP release turned out?
I was really happy with the Art of Propaganda release, but he released only 500 copies. Due to the fast selling of the “Angelorum” album, I thought it would be a good idea to re release it for its 10 years, to make sure the new fans would find one for their collection.
3. Are the names of your 2 LP’s “De Praestigiis Daemonum” and “De Praestigiis Angelorum” a hint to Johannes Wier’s workings? They sound very much like the name of some Middle Ages grimoires, bound in human flesh and written in blood. Are the 2 releases somehow connected, like some sort of concept albums?
Those two albums are indeed connected. But they have absolutely nothing related to Wier’s book ( which I didn’t read by the way ).
4. The lyrics on “Par le jugement causé par ses poisons” really struck a chord in me. Do you think that all men who have started to rebel against the cosmic order and liberate themselves from the chains which have encircled them have deceived their maker/creator? Will these beings go to hell, instead of reaching the heavens? Will the Lord eventually punish them for their acts?
I think you misunderstood the lyric.Even if I know you have a perfect french comprehension, I have to admit those are tricky.
We are a deception since day one. Our nature isn’t suitable to his will. He got it pretty fast and never stopped challenging us, fails after fails. All these threats didn’t put an end to our disobedience. Then, liberate yourself as none of us was supposed to reach heavens.
5. What has inspired you to write those texts? They cannot be called “lyrics” but rather deep, philosophical, religious statements. Where did you get your inspiration from? Also, one of VI’s characteristics is the length of the song names. They rather look like psalms from a holy book than regular song titles, why did you choose them to be like this? Or “somebody” else made that choice for you?
I guess, taking religious class too seriously during all my childhood fucked up my mind. I’ve developed a real fear of Death and what’s beyond. Writing that kind of lyric helps me to convince myself to reduce that fear.
Most of the people don’t read lyrics but they can read a song title. Mine are a kind of a résumé of the lyrics.
It’s just a hint to understand the whole ambiance and get deeper into the music.
6. Don’t you fear that singing in French reduces the impact of the lyrics since not many listeners are able to understand the essence of your message? I mean VI’s words and song titles are some of the most interesting in this whole black metal scene where so many bands are either singing about oriental/eastern magick, traditions and deities or about “Hollywood” devil worship. Isn’t it a pity that their message doesn’t reach all those who listen?
French definitely reduces the impact of the lyrics. But I’ve never felt the need to expose my point of view to the whole world. Those lyrics are a personal psychological treatment. I could have hidden them from the booklet but, fearing of loosing my mind, it is necessary to be able to put my eyes on them whenever I need to.
7. The French extreme scene has turned out to be quite a “smart” one, as many bands with strong individuals with very interesting (religious) points of view are still lurking in this hazy underground. Not to mention that many of those bands also share their members, creating some sort of “incestuous” relationship. Where does VI stand in this scene, do you feel like “you belong”?
As an individual, many people know me for being a part of Aosoth, so I guess I belong to the scene I mean, Aosoth isn’t the biggest black metal band but we did a quite few things. Considering VI, I have no idea. I don’t speak or ask about this project. I can’t tell.
8. Besides VI you also play(ed) in other well-known bands, like Aosoth and Antaeus. I assume VI is your main project, but how difficult is it to keep these bands away from each other, so to speak? It took 8 years to release your first full length, was it because the lack of time or you just wanted the whole process to come naturally?
Yes, VI is my main project. It took so long because I wanted this to be exactly as I expected it to be. The lack of time and motivation are also responsible for the late.
I Just played live few years with Antaeus. One or two rehearsals before a gig and we were good to go. Aosoth, I only compose the bass lines, which is not so complicated. I usually compose the day of the recording. And same, one or two rehearsals before a gig. To be clear, those two bands weren’t time consuming.
9. When did you realize that you were different than many other people and that your views were completely in opposition with what the majority was thinking and doing? What exactly triggered this change, this rebellion? When did you start to fully walk on this (left) path?
I’m not different to other people, or we all are.
10. What does a (catholic or orthodox) church mean to you? Do you see it as a place of absolution/seclusion/ or just as a place of idolatry and fake worship? Is it still the “house” of God, or that expression has lost its true meaning? I’m asking you this because that chorus at the end of “Il n’y a pas de repos ni le jour ni la nuit…” is absolutely splendid and if you hear it in a small church, you would definitely be mesmerized.
I use to go quite often visiting churches, cathedrals and other religious monuments all over the world. It appeases me. I feel comfortable in there. Religious chants, inseparable from the church, has been one of the biggest influence of my music.
11. The name of the band is taken after the sixth trumpet of revelation. What does this particular trumpet signify to you and why is it so important, compared to the other trumpets described in the Book of Revelation? How strong an influence can the Bible and Christianity be when it comes to black metal? I really think that without religion black metal will no longer exist, since they are so strongly connected.
The 6th one, is the last one to date. We’re are still waiting for the 7th as the real final crime of God against humanity. Between those to melodies, we are supposed to live in a “fear&love” relationship with him. I won’t play that sick game. It just reminds me how threats are useless and rare are the ones who get back after you. It’s one more aggressive attitude against you.The kind you shouldn’t ignore but the kind you shouldn’t let govern your life. I won’t let anything or anyone trying to stop me following my quests.
Religion has / had its influences on black metal. But times have changed. So many things today have the power to piss you off that I’m not sure black metal needs religion to survive.
The hate and the violence have no boundaries. You have plenty of ways or reason to express it, music is one of mine.
12. You said in an interview that VI will never play live, and I totally respect that choice. Unlike other groups, I really don’t think VI’s music would have been suitable for a live setting, especially when the audience is made of idiotic morons. On the other hand, you played live with Antaeus and even toured with Aosoth. Were those concerts/tours an enjoyable experience or you prefer the solitude of the recording studio? Does someone become a true musician only after playing live?
I really enjoyed all the things we’ve done with those two bands as a live musician. Touring, playing all of the world, being surrounded by people you deeply respect. Living what a lot would have dreamed of. Yeah, I’ll do it again if I could. Considering VI, when it’s recorded I need to pass over it and go on and, on the opposite, I feel absolutely no need to present myself on stage under that banner. But yeah, I love recording stuff in studio.
13. Speaking of concerts, Aosoth was supposed to play at the Rites of the Black Mass in October but something happened along the way and that show was cancelled. Can you tell me exactly what triggered the band’s withdrawal from the festival’s line-up?
No, I can’t really tell.
14. In the already mentioned bands you play bass guitar but in VI you play guitars and also do the vocals (and you do it really well, if you ask me). Some musicians have difficulties when playing a different instrument than the one they’re used to regularly so how does it feel when you are the main composer/writer/player and everything is coming out according to your own visions and wishes?
I’m a guitar player since a long time, I had to play bass when we couldn’t afford a bass player for our first european tour in 2010. Bass is known to be very simple in our kind of music, it doesn’t take too long for a guitar player to handle it. And, yes, being in control of almost everything during the composition and recording is a great sensation when all is finished.
15. We have arrived at the end of this interview. First of all, INRVI, I want to thank you for accepting this encounter, it’s been a pleasure. Second of all, as my guest, you have the last words to close this. A bientôt !
A bientôt l’ami, j’essaierai de venir te voir dans ton pays, si j’arrive à trouver le temps.
Formorket features for the very first (and also the last) time in the Scrolls Of Darmoth pages. S, the band’s mastermind will guide us on a small journey through time, revealing some of the band’s secrets ( and not only). Here we go:
1. First of all, tell me please what has been going on in the Formorket camp recently, because in the past years you have been quite silent. What can you tell us about the newly released second album?
S: It is just a while ago when things started to built up again from their pieces. We were never an active band and we never acted like that. Formorket was always a particular representation of things we were inspired by in Black Metal. Its presence is also quite unexpected at this time of flight. We experienced a lot during these cursed years but there was no real reason to step out of the motionless shape. This band was settled in the shadows. Our semi-nonexistence was overwhelming for me but we felt things must be declared crystal clear. Once we decided that we will kill our past we also sorted out that it will be done as a self definition of a lifeless form. As a final wish we wanted to focus our blackened spirits and return back to the roots.
This was the one and only inspiration for the last album of Formorket as we were so devoted by starting our own fires. It was spontaneous and raw at each level of degrees. Following our inside phantoms there was everything settled as well as our hungry passion to the early days of Black Metal. We’ve written all music and lyrics in July 2017 and immediately after this intense songwriting timeframe we were already in the studio to record the album on its entire. There was no time to linger. On-demand and inspired decisions lead by the inner flames did their sinister job during the minimalistic postprocessing period as well. Everything heard and seen are formed by our hands. And as there are no words left, we are eagerly wait our final hours…
2. On the 18th of August, you will participate at the 9th edition of the now famous Inner Awakening Festival, which will be held in Budapest. As far as I know, you haven’t played live in ages. What does this performance mean to you and how do you approach it?
S: Our last appearance on stage and in all forms will be at the ninth Inner Awakening Festival. The circle will be broken that night when we poison the waters live as a final wish. It is going to be the third gig during the fourteen years. In 2016 when our end was already carved into stones we returned back and with an ex temporal lineup we marched the night with Age of Agony.
The most important for us is to destroy our surface to the public and do the opposite in our inverse shape. This show will be the crown of our Death, and our words will be the prayer at the dying flesh of the band. On stage for that hour we will dance with the shadows at the most complete cast and this will lead us through the dreadful hour. It means everything and nothing at the same time.
3. Formorket is not the typical metal band which rehearses, signs a contract with a label, releases an album or a single, goes on a tour and then repeats the cycle over and over again.
Instead you took the other approach: the minimalistic “hiding in the shadows” of your own peace (piece) of mind. Has this way of doing things your way been a fruitful one? Are you happy with how the band evolved in these 14 of activity?
S:Formorket shall be considered as a regressive band so to say. It has its own inevitable walk back in the time for its reason. Therefore it couldn’t be that type of bands since its very early days. We moved when we wanted to and we all kept our past in the mist as you said. Looking back to Black Metal as a primary influence was always the same thing that it was then and now for me in heart. It was always a regression, our monument to a movement of something magical, unseen and untold. Being initiated into the black metal was the entry point of this band. There is no joy or will to success but the unfolding darkest threads are. I can’t imagine this to happen otherwise.
Our fourteen years on the scene was more like a constant inactivity. We appeared when it was time and returned almost immediately. Waves emerged at the most suitable momentum, and these were ours. Now our returning to this while is more intense than ever and we celebrate Death with this until it takes. Our world under the banner of falling will collapse so soon.
4. Many may wonder why, after such a long pause (10 years after your 1st full length and 7 from the Ep), you have decided to release one more album and then call it quits in a grandiose way, on stage at Inner Awakening. What was the main reason behind this decision and how hard was it for you to take it? After all, you have invested a lot of blood and sweat into this band and the disbanding announcement came out quite unexpectedly.
S: The sequence of milestones we march through are heavily bundled together. When we confirmed our last rite we also felt that it shouldn’t be a nostalgic and calm return but condign to what we did and so actual. It was yet untold and we had no space to really underline we want to express with our devotion. How else could it happen? We are deliberately destroying ourselves on stage as well as channeling a nameless power from an unknown source which consumes us. The only difference finally is that it is going to be unhealed.
I’ve never counted the effort I spent on anything. When a certain decision is made, I hardly look back, I am too headstrong to appeal. Instead of seeing me personally falling ill I poison myself!!! It is not a point how much did it cost, it is unimportant how many hours did it take because Death does not count these either! Nonexistence always engaged us so well and finally we are complete to step far beyond the thresholds…
5. Besides Formorket, you and Ga’eheln are active in another great band, Svoid, which even if has its roots in black metal, has a quite different approach than Formorket. How did you cope with this duality, this difference between the 2 bands and the 2 genres they play? But is it about genres and styles, or about the inner fire which is strong enough to burn with multiple flames?
S: Even they have strong similarities we always had a completely different space in our heart to approach them individually. Both have an extrinsic platform, certain levels of freedom and core, the essence itself. When Svoid was expanded from the roots of Formorket, the main reason to differentiate them was the known boundaries of its progression. And this is how they oppose. The limitless, timeless floating is exactly the negated I always wanted to express with Formorket.
All factors and concepts of the spirit and how we interpret these all meet at a point, but how particularly we experience them and transform into something we’ve built are really different things. Therefore the separation itself is not an issue at all. I have only one inner fire that will set me as a person free from everything surrounding me. Both bands are perfect examples at a point. At the very end they are inevitable sources of searching which is aimless without finding.
6. The Formorket sophomore album has an aura of the glorious past around it. A past which is terribly missed by some, mimicked by others, but nevertheless invoked quite seldom when it comes to black metal. Your decision to disband Formorket and the feeling of old this new album has go hand in hand? Is this your tribute to some great times which will never happen again?
S:Formorket was always in respect of a dark past which changed this world. I feel very strongly about what was it all about. Overall it was a short time frame and also a delicate substance which reached its Death fast. There is no need to achieve this. Increasing its depth is no longer possible. With Formorket we raised a cenotaph for the early age of Black Metal. This is a howl to the great and primordial times. As you already pointed out, we lit the torches of Formorket so rarely. It was almost eons ago when “Cult of Generis” was released and a return into the haze followed its path. How others phrase Black Metal has nothing to do with my motivation, but upholding this level of isolation must be considered as declaration as well. Outfit-only approach, patterns, entertainment and fashion estranges me so well and instead of taking part of it I set back. It’s a pathway towards liberation at so many levels and there is no need to be affected by anyone else from the outside world which is false.
7. Listening to the 7 tracks, I couldn’t help to notice the raw, but good sound which emanates all along the 30 minutes. How were you able to invoke so many ghosts from the past on such a short notice?
S: I felt so close to this album and its songwriting phase from the very beginning. It was spontaneous and just in time. When I started to play some riffs it was already a result and the essence of all of my meditations and certain foundations I am into for so many years in mind and spirit. First it was a walk into something invisible as we never did anything similar before in terms of creative process. It was expanding firmly and the only thing we did is to follow its extent. The songs and their structure outlined based on our inspirations during these rehearsals so we were able to draw the context and its boundary for every single track well and detailed. It was a creative flow but it doesn’t mean that it is the same every time we set up like this. Sometimes I feel empty but at its purity it is so heartening to experience.
8. I was blown by the production this album has. While still “primitive and pagan”, you somehow managed to capture your very soul into this record, making the songs very organic and very much alive. How on earth could that happen and what special tricks did you use, if any? Was it magic?
S: From the first second we knew already how it should sound like. We used our instruments, infrastructure and knowledge for everything we did on this record. We also went back so much in time during the recording process. For me using tools only which are available is literally overwhelming. There was no trick at all when we shaped the sound, it was relied more on what we did and knew already about it by heart. The production, mixing and mastering was also something we were responsible for, which simplified our assignment so much. We kept everything closest to the core intentionally. We are both creative elements and working together is built on a clear understanding of each other for a long time.
9. Once the festival is over, Formorket will cease to be. Is it hard to think at it that way, or you’re satisfied with what happened during this period of 14 years?
S: It is a declaration already. The last chapter we are out with reflects that and it is marvelous to capture in mind. I am not sure whether I can describe it that much as I feel like. What we did so far are manifested through us as artists and our various interpretation is going to lead us far beyond. For this we are ready and what we have already behind the surface shall and will be kept apart from Formorket. It is singularity.
10. In the late 90’s and the early 2000’s, the black metal scene was saturated with new bands which tried to copy the ones before them. Many of the old bands were trying to reinvent themselves, some succeeded, some didn’t. Then came the “religious black metal” phase, which reignited the old flame and from there on, to this day, the scene has been invaded by a myriad of occult bands and musicians, one more “evil and satanic” than the other. Don’t get me wrong, among this huge number of copycat bands, there are still some, both old and new, who really make a difference. But as a musician who has been a part of this scene for quite a long time, how do you see what’s going on these days, do you feel you can still identify yourself with this movement, or the magic has been dead for quite some time now?
S: I relate myself so much to the aspiration I feel about the magic of Black Metal. It is a major influence, an attitude if you like. But the relentlessness I am using as a key motivator is not something which is unique in this genre. Each time and age had and still have their own venom and potential to stay and keep outside. Marching by my lurking will is more important than the templates that the scene means today. It suits more to destroy everything at its top. I am not in charge, I have nothing to match with. I have more to tell through this link we established than through under the weight of other pressures from the outer space. It is very simple and straightforward which has nothing to do with me in the scene. Instead of probing I break down the chains and secure the point of entry and no return on all degrees. This is how it becomes no holds barred.
We have reached the end of the journey, both with this interview and with Formorket. I want to thank you for your time and for the willingness to share your thoughts with me. I really hope that the last chapter of Formorket will be memorable. As always, as a guest, you have the last words:
S: Oppose to go on wild as this world turns out of itself.
Since I put my hands on Bathsheba‘s latest release I thought about making an interview with them. I was so much into the music and the atmosphere present on Servus that first I wrote a review for it and then I wanted to know more about the band and how this cursed piece of art came into being. Then, all of a sudden, strange things happened in my life and Servus became my companion for many darkened days and nights. It’s music has cured me and infected me at the same time, so addicted I was with this vinyl which I span many many times.
When asking Bathseba if they wanted to do this interview, Michelle (vocals) accepted instantly. I sent her my questions, fearing they will not be good enough. But when she sent me the replies, I was amazed by her answers. I can honestly say that this interview is one of the most personal and in depth encounters I have ever had with a musician/band, since the beginning of ScrollsofDarmoth.
Read the interview, press the “Play” button and immerse yourselves in the magic that is “Servus“. Enjoy!!
1. Bathsheba appeared as if out of nowhere, first with a demo (Demo MMXIV), then with the MLP (“The Sleeping Gods”) and this year with this impressive album. Please tell me how you guys decided to start this band and what were your expectations, if you had any, concerning the band, the scene etc.?
M: End 2013 Jelle called me to ask if I was interested in making a band with him. He was thinking Pallbearer, Wounded Kings etc. He had a friend, Dwight, who would be playing guitar. I am not really into that kind of music but I know how open minded Jelle is and what a great person and drummer he is too. I know him from the tour we did (Grand Magus, Sardonis, Serpentcult) in 2008. So I was up for it. We started rehearsing early 2014. Raf was a friend of mine and he was immediately up for it too when we asked him. So Jelle and Dwight were more into the traditional doom while I was heading for a sludge black metal direction. So I guess we made a good compromise! Our expectations were just to have fun but do it well and see what would come on our road. We had open minds about it and although we were realistic we also had dreams.
2. What does Bathsheba mean to you, how would you describe this band to someone who doesn’t know you at all? An alien, for example 🙂
M: Good question. I would say that BATHSHEBA is the embodiment of the musical expression, emotions and thoughts of four different individuals. BATHSHEBA is inspired by burden and frustration and thus carries that sound with it. But with that it also carries the beauty of darkness, if you listen well. It’s not for all but either you get it, or you don’t.
3. The album name and the cover are quite simple but eloquent. What’s the connection between “Servus” and the woman on the cover? Does it have something to do with religion?
M: Servus means slave in Latin and refers mainly to the enslavement of life’s suffering. Being completely crushed under that weight and unable to move forward or backward, therefore you have to surrender at a certain point. The character on the cover is praying, suffering and loses herself. When losing yourself you can get lost very far. You can find yourself again or versions of yourself that are either beautiful or unbearably monstrous. You can look at it from a very earthly point of view but also a religious and even an esoteric one. The artwork was done by Olivier Lomer (www.dissolvtion.com) whom you might know from the bands Emptiness and Enthroned. I explained a bit what I wanted and we let him work his magic. He was spot on I think. He also has a very particular own style which I adore.
4. Besides the music, I find the lyrics on “Servus” very powerful and extremely well written. They have an “occult”, almost religious touch, but they do not carry an “open” evil message, it’s rather concealed and can only be discovered by reading between the lines. Since I assume you are the one in charge with writing them, please tell me where did you get the inspiration from when you wrote them?
M: You describe it very well. The inspiration is mainly from life, death, pain, suffering, that sort of emotions and personal experiences. But I am very much inspired by a book called ‘The Story of my Heart’ from Richard Jefferies who was a naturalistic writer and brought out this book in 1882. We have something in common: We look at people/situations/… in that naturalistic way. As if it were water, fire, trees, air,.. How life is made, how we are made. I understand life better that way. For instance if you are blocked in your emotions it means you are like dry earth. Unmovable and unable to grow anything in it. And you need either air to make things lighter or water to make things moldable and softer. Everything that happens in life you can somehow draw back to basic elements and that makes everything more simple. I always look to closely, make everything too complicated so this is a good help to me. I am also inspired by Solomon’s writings. They are about more esoteric subjects that live in the spirit world. You can draw that back too, just the other way around. When you take things that are bigger than you and look how those forces work and place yourself in a bigger sphere somehow. That was the biggest influence; to take that higher force that is much more than you and place yourself in perspective with it. It makes you feel small and insignificant while on the other hand the burden and bleakness on earth feel unbearable.
5. If we look at the patterns, doom metal is the privilege of male singers but recently many female fronted bands have appeared on the firmament. But unlike most of these bands (which are great, if you ask me), you took a different, heavier approach. Your style is closer to bands like Shape of Despair, rather than Blood Ceremony, for example. Was it planned from the start to play this sort of cursed doom?
M: Yes exactly. I’m glad you say that. I was never interested in making that doomy occult rock. It’s well done but it doesn’t grab me. It doesn’t touch me in the way that I want. I told that when I entered the band that this occult rock would never be a thing for me. I have to feel it, in my bones and I apparently can only be touched by more heavy, obscure or avant-garde music. It doesn’t always have to be heavy to be heavy if you get me. But I very often find music too happy in my ears and then you lost me. To name some musicians or bands that really touch me; Bethlehem, Ved Buens Ende, Dodheimsgard, Sigur Ros, Thom Yorke, Ennio Morricone, Arvo Pärt, …
6. Initially there were 2 guitar players in Bathsheba, but now there’s only Dwight. Do you think that adding another guitar to back Dwight up might make the sound heavier, or are you happy with how things are going right now?
M: We are sometimes still having that discussion. I prefer to stay as we are because it works. Another person would somehow always be ‘the one who joined’. I prefer small groups and practically it’s easier to have fewer people, also don’t like people in general. I’m very fond of the line up now and I hate change. But I am only 1/4th of the band of course. I would love to have a dear friend of mine, who is a great musician, to play with us for a gig or add some guitars on a song. Maybe for the recordings we will add some extra’s but I don’t think we will have a 5th fixed member.
7. Your voice is really special, allowing you to switch between a harsh, sometimes “schizophrenic” tone to a clear one in the blink of an eye. How hard it is to take care of it, do you practice any special exercises to protect it?
M: It’s not hard to switch for me between these voices. I feel the need to try new things and go further so I think it would be good to protect my voice better and to have some kind of ritual to practice and so preserve health for my vocal chords. On the other hand I hope I won’t lose that spontaneity that helps me in making vocal lines.
8. For those who did not have the chance to see Bathsheba live yet, tell me what does a concert represent for you? From what I saw on YouTube, you seem to be in a very special mood while playing, like someone else is taking over your body as you perform. Do you do something special to get into that trance-like state or it just comes naturally? How much does a show consume you?
M: The live atmosphere is described as ‘introvert, aggressive and full of frustration’ and I think that covers it well. I feel there is something inside that needs to get out. I don’t really think about what I’m doing at that moment. It’s not a performance as in I haven’t prepared it. It’s more a spontaneous process and I like to keep it that way. Playing live takes much from me because It’s a fight against keeping things inside and letting things go. I love it as well because it takes off some pressure. After a show I am really not in a communicative state and I preferably just go home or to a hotel to get back to a better state of mind. I tend to move in a certain way it seems. It just comes, I can’t just stand still. I have to feel it. I suppose in a way it’s a bit of a trance when you just surrender to that moment. I hope I can surrender more and more.
9. What kind of books do you read? Do you draw your inspiration also from literature? Have you read “Bruges la Morte”, by Georges Rodenbach?
M: That sounds like an interesting book. I have to say I don’t like to read romans. I prefer to read about history, space, nature etc. To name some books that inspire me: “The story of my Heart” by Richard Jefferies which I mentioned before, I love to read “The Book of Lies” by Crowley, I am very much inspired by “Compendium for Ritual Plants” from Marcel De Cleene and Marie Claire Lejeune. This last book is actually a book about herbs. In this book the medical purpose of plants is described. But also the traditions and rituals that came with those herbs. I love books like “The Bible through Judas Eyes”, books about Nostradamus,… When writing music or lyrics I sometimes just looks through my books of minerals, plants or mushrooms to help me make words clearer.
10. What is music for Michelle Nocon and how would you describe it? Did it change your life?
M: There are two things in life that drive me. That’s not love or friendship, money or health. It’s music and nature. I’m not a social person. Either I’m doing music, or I am in nature. There is nothing else for me here. Music definitely changed my life. It always understood me as I understood it. It can make my mood swing in just a second. It brings out the best in me and the worse. It heals me and kills me at the same time and it’s therefore my biggest addiction. I don’t need to be famous or big, I just need to be free and free to make the music I want to make. All the rest that comes with it is trivial.
11. The spoken intro and outro of Servus are very interesting, they both express an anti-religious statement, so to speak. Is Bathsheba’s message the same?
M: Thanks for bringing that up. I can’t really say we have a message. We don’t make music to get a message across but rather to express ourselves. When that gets picked up by someone, that is great of course. It’s more an expression of the bleakness of life. You can believe in anything you want, or in nothing. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Life is suffering to me. I can pray to a god or pray to a demon, believe in nothing at all or believe in some afterlife and karma. It is what it is, indifferent to what I believe or feel. On the other hand I do believe we can somehow create our own reality. But we don’t seem to do very well. So the suffering is on.
12. Since I bought the vinyl, I listen to it on repeat, it is unbelievably addictive. Did you summon Bathsheba during the recordings so she might conquer the hearts of all men? Are you happy with the way this album turned out?
M: Thank you so much! I think I did summon something when making the demo. It felt like something inside me changed when I was making this album. And I am very grateful for that. That something changed me, matured me, beat me, cured me. And I hope it beats the shit out of you all, cures all of you and then beats the hell out of you again. Because that’s how it should be. I think music should really touch a person. I am not a person that is satisfied or happy about things I do. I am not someone who easily says I liked what I did. But I am kind of proud of this album. It’s the first album that I can listen to, the first time I like my voice and I unleashed something inside of me that I know can grow even further. And I hope we can keep growing as much and wide as we can.
13. “Ain Soph”, the second track, stands out from the other songs, mainly because of the very cool blast beats and of that psychedelic saxophone. Who came up with the idea of having these 2 (atypical) elements in your music?
M: I wished for a black metal vibe somewhere on the album and at a point they send me a first try out version of Ain Soph. So I was in for it and immediately made a vocal line on it. Then when the song was “ready” we found there was something lacking on that particular part in the song. So I started looking for samples and thought a crazy freejazz sax sample would be great. Then Jelle said it would be cool to have a real sax player. Then I remembered I knew Peter Verdonck (Wound Collector) and he once said he really wanted to do something together musically because he loved what I had done with Serpentcult. So I thought I’d give it a try and ask him. He was immediately up for it. In the studio when Peter tried his crazy sax solo’s we were all so enthusiast. He had 3 different versions for the two solo’s. He recorded every part in one hit and we chose the one we liked best together.
14. Who exactly is “your ” Satan you talk about in the “Manifest”? Is it your own Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hide?
M: Exactly. You could say that two bad sides of yourself are having a duel. It doesn’t matter what you chose and where you turn, you somehow always do bad. You’re somehow always confronted with that evil. I also had a relation that was quit destructive at that time so my inner world was somehow reflected in that relation.
15. Speaking of “Manifest”, I know it’s not you who played it, but how did Dwight conceive that beautiful guitar solo? It is absolutely haunting and it gives the song a superb feeling of loss and despair.
M: That song goes way back. It was already on the demo in 2014 but it got a serious upgrade. The guys were jamming that ending until they had a structure but in meanwhile Dwight was doing a solo and he just made it as long as he needed it to be. So we let him do his thing and then they worked around his solo with the structure. Dwight got inspired by the main musical theme of the song which has that feeling of loss and despair but also something majestic about it.
16. Your last name reads the same even backwards, like a magick word. Does it have a special meaning or it’s just pure coincidence?
M: The C of Christ in the middle! I’m the chosen one apparently. It’s my dad’s family name but since I don’t have any connection to my family I’m seriously thinking of changing my name. I love the thought of not belonging anywhere.
It seems like we have reached the end of this interview. Thank you so much, Michelle, for accepting this, it really means a lot to me. I wish you all the best, both on a personal and professional level and who knows, maybe one day soon I’ll see you guys play live somewhere. As always, I leave the last words to you:
M: Thank you so much Matei for giving us the opportunity to tell more about the band, our music and ourselves. Come say hello if we cross each other. I would like to express my gratitude and may that nihilism take you.
Quite a long time has passed since the last feature was published in Scrolls of Darmoth. Many events took place, some of them of great importance on a political level (at least for some of my fellow Romanians) and the others which were strictly related to my personal life. Overall, these events prevented me to write/create anything. In other words I lost the inspiration for a while. There’s no point of writing something just for the sake of it, when all you have in your mind are empty spaces.
I had this interview in mind after writing the review for the album “Pledge Nothing but Flesh“, but I could not compose the questions anymore. So I decided to wait and let things fall back into their own pieces again and last week the muse came back with the stolen inspiration. I was finally able to send the questions over to the Irish band Scáth Na Déithe, who, through the voice of Cathal Hughes, was very kind to answer them.
I thank them for the interview and I urge you to listen to the album first, then read the interview. You’ll learn many interesting things about this band and the country it comes from. Crack open a cold one and enjoy the reading.
Hi Cathal, apologies for the lateness of this interview. I wish it were ready sooner, but independent issues prevented me from finishing the questions in due time. First of all, thank you for accepting this interview for Scrolls of Darmoth and second, congratulations for the impressive album that is ‘Pledge Nothing but Flesh’, which was released one month ago. Let’s roll!
SoD: I have to ask this question, as I am extremely curious. What does Scath Na Deithe mean in the Irish language and who exactly are you guys? Please introduce the band a bit to our readers.
CH: Scáth Na Déithe roughly translates into English as ‘The Shadow of the Gods’. We wanted a name that would reflect our intent to take a large influence from Irish folklore and traditions. There are two of us in the band, myself Cathal Hughes and Stephen Todd. I live in a small village in the north of Dublin called Rush and Stephen is from Co. Tyrone.
SoD: Scath Na Deithe is a young band, but the music on your releases begs to differ. Did you guys spend your “apprenticeship” in other bands, or this is your first and most serious project you have been involved in?
CH: We have both been involved in numerous projects; we came to know each other through playing shows together in different bands. We have both released music with other projects in the past so we have had a lot of experience in writing and recording music, but this is the first band were we have created music together.
SoD: Until now you have released a demo tape (“The Horrors of Old” in 2015) and the first full length, “Pledge Nothing but Flesh”, which came out in January 2017. Both releases are DYI, independent. Why is that? Is it easier that way or it’s difficult to find a decent label willing to support a young band these days?
CH: The EP was released independently because it was the very first material we were releasing so we were planning on attracting the attention of labels with that release. We had some offers for cassette releases but they ended up falling through, so we self-released a limited cassette edition of the EP last year. We tried to gather some label interest for the release of “Pledge Nothing but Flesh” but we didn’t receive any offers that were well suited to us. We have since confirmed that a cassette version of “Pledge Nothing but Flesh” will be released this March on Metal Defiance Productions. We purposely take an extremely DIY approach to the recording and mixing of our albums. We do this because I really feel that we require a very specific type of production to reinforce the feel and aesthetic of our music.
SoD: Your music is not something which I can call happy nor very easy to listen to. On both your releases you have created a suffocating, sinister and addictive atmosphere which the listener can easily be sucked into, if not careful. Where does your inspiration come from? Is it something related to the famous bleak Irish weather, is it the world you live in or it’s just you, as persons?
CH: It comes from many places, but yes for sure the darkness of the Irish weather and the landscape we live in have a huge impact on the music we write. The main source of inspiration for the actual music itself is very hard to pin down, I would say I am moved to write music by books I read, the images or feelings they can evoke, more so than by listening to music. Of course listening to extreme forms of metal have a direct impact on what we write, but rather than being able to list off a few bands that we are trying to emulate, it is very much the mindset that listening to extreme metal pulls you into that inspires me to write.
SoD: Besides the 2 instrumentals, the 4 songs on “Pledge Nothing but Flesh” are very long, lasting more than 10 minutes each. I don’t think that their length is an enemy here, because the despair which permeates from those tracks cannot be unfolded in just a few minutes. Was this something you planned from the beginning, or it just happened in the process of writing and then you decided to go with the flow, so to speak?
CH: From the start our goal for this album was to have long track lengths for the exact reason you mention, the type of atmosphere and emotions we are trying to convey can’t be properly expressed in shorter songs. I treat the arrangement of a song like a story, it should rise and fall, take you on a journey through different emotions. Our vision for how the album should progress was clear while it was being written, it is an album of two halves, the first half is meant to convey pure rage and aggression, and the second half to be more somber and reflective. The second instrumental track is there to give contrast to the harsh tracks that go before, to give the listener a brief departure from the weight of the oppressive atmosphere of the music, and to lead you into the second half of the album.
SoD: While the vocals have a very death metal vibe, the riffs and the drumming combine genres, reminding me of Dead Congregation mixed with Ataraxie and with a serious touch of black metal. What music are you guys listening to, when not involved in Scath Na Deithe? Do you listen to (extreme) metal at all?
CH: I am a huge fan of Dead Congregation so thank you for the comparison. Yes, we mostly listen to extreme metal, lately I have been listening to the “Hero” album by Bolzer, Kyrpts, Imha Tarikat, the new Teitanblood EP, The Ruins of Beverast and the latest Blaze of Perdition album. We both listen to a lot of the same bands when it comes to extreme forms of metal.
SoD: The fact that this album has been mastered in the famous Necromorbus Studios (Watain, Armagedda, Funeral Mist and many other great bands) could have enhanced the sinister atmosphere contained on this record?
CH: Absolutely, Tore did an amazing job mastering the album and got us the exact result we had hoped for. He has done great work for so many amazing bands so we were very excited to have him master our album. It was his work for Tribulation that attracted our attention initially.
SoD: While reading the lyrics from “Pledge Nothing but Flesh”, I could not help to notice the topics have nothing to do with the occult, devil worship and other subjects one can find in so many songs/albums these days. Instead, they are more anti life, so to speak, like each of the 4 tracks is a hymn to death and what lies beyond. Why did you choose this lyrical approach and who’s in charge with writing the lyrics and the music?
CH: I write the music and lyrics, which are greatly inspired by Irish folk stories and traditions, but rather than simply recount what happens in these tales I want to channel the emotions they convey or the lessons they teach, and apply their imagery to create a world of our own within the lyrics. For example, the song ‘This Unrecognized Disease’ is inspired by the true story of a woman called Bridget Cleary, who is often referred to as the last witch to be burned in Ireland, but the term ‘witch’ is a misleading take on what happened to her. Her tragic story is entwined with the Irish fairy traditions, and the very real fear and superstition that people in Ireland held about the fairies. I won’t go into the details of what happened to her here, but I would really encourage people to research her story themselves. For the lyrics inspired by this story I wanted to imagine the overwhelming fear and isolation she must have felt in her final days of life, and try to convey these emotions in the lyrics.
SoD: In the past years, the Irish scene has seen quite a revival, when it comes to extreme metal bands. (Zom, Vircolac, Coscradh, Malthusian, just to mention a few). Where do you see Scath Na Deithe in this picture? Do you feel like you belong?
CH: The Irish scene has seen an explosion of bands making a name for themselves, both at home and internationally. It’s not really up to us if people decide to hold our music in the same regard as those bands, but I hope that we will carve out our own place among the well regarded Irish extreme metal acts. As it stands currently for such a small country and small metal scene all the bands really do have their own distinct sound and approach to their craft, and I do feel that we can make that same claim about ourselves, in that sense I would say we belong.
SoD: Last year, you were supposed to play at the Dark Arts Festival, but eventually that did not happen, as I have mistakenly mentioned in the review I wrote for “Pledge Nothing but Flesh” (apologies for that misleading info). Do you have a live line-up, can we expect some concerts or even a small tour in the future, in support of the new album? Or you are not that much into touring and you just want to keep it as simple as possible, with only a couple of local shows?
CH: We have never ruled out live shows and we had a full line-up prepared for that show but we were unable to play due to the same reason we are not able to commit to live shows at present; it is simply work commitments that are getting in the way, which unfortunately can’t be helped.
SoD: The cover of “Pledge Nothing but Flesh” was done by Luciana Nedelea (Luciana Nedelea Art) and it turned out amazingly great. I think that drawing suits the whole concept of the album extremely well. How did you get in touch with Luciana, after all?
CH: I had seen some of her art being shared on social media and had been an admirer of her work for some time. We contacted her directly and explained the general concept behind each song and sent her over all the lyrics, that was the only direction we gave her. We wanted to see what the reading the lyrics would inspire her to create and were blown away from the very first idea she sent back to us. She really understood what we were trying to create through our music and was able to represent it perfectly in her art. She is truly an amazing artist, an absolute professional to work with, and we cannot recommend her highly enough.
SoD: Officially Scath Na Deithe is a duo. How hard or how easy is for you guys to write, record and play the music in this format? Have you considered adding another member to the ranks, or you’re happy with the way things are going right now?
CH: Writing the songs comes relatively easy to us, considering their length. We usually focus on one song per rehearsal and at the end of that rehearsal record ourselves playing the song start to finish so when we came back to rehearse a song before recording it for the album we would be certain of what we had decided on playing. We had a potential bass player but he was unable to commit so we decided to go ahead as a duo, for recording this isn’t an issue for us.
SoD: There is a strange noise which connects the first track, the instrumental “Si Gaoithe”, to the final part of “Search Unending”, the last song on the album. I am almost sure I can hear someone’s footsteps slowly walking, but where exactly, I don’t know. I find this idea of linking the 1st and last song very original and interesting, it’s like an ouroboros is connecting the dots on this album and completes the circle. Was that something intentional, or it’s only my imagination playing tricks on me?
CH: Yes, you are correct, we wanted the album’s end to be linked back to the beginning, completing the journey. The sound is actually supposed to represent someone working in a field. The title ‘Sí Gaoithe’ translates as ‘fairy wind’. I should probably clarify that the Irish fairies are nothing like the nice, kindly creatures that the word is usually associated with, the word fairy was placed by English speakers on what the Irish called the Sídhe. They are extremely dangerous and had inhabited Ireland long before people had, until they were forced to live beneath the earth. The tradition of the fairy wind is that people who would stay out late working their fields would be swept up in a great wind and carried away to the other world were the Sídhe lived and a changeling would be left in their place to torment their family. As I mentioned before, these superstitions were taken very seriously in rural Ireland and there are many recorded cases of people, both adults and children, being killed because they were believed to be a fairy who took the place of a real person. So the sound you are asking about is there to represent someone out working alone who is swept up by this fairy wind and taken through the journey of the album before returning to were they had begun.
SoD: It seems we have already reached the end of this interview. I want to thank you again for your time and as usual, my guests have the last words. Feel free to add whatever you like. Cheers!!
CH: Thank you for taking the time to compose these questions and a massive thank you to anyone who has listened to our music or supported us in any way. Sláinte!
To find out more about the band and their releases, visit their Bandcamp and Facebook pages.
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.