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.