For those earnest followers of the French underground, Baise Ma Hache should be an act that needs no introduction. Like it or not, they have slowly but steadily developed their own unique approach towards BM — a well-balanced blend of groove and melodies, provoking lyrics and vocal executionwhile infusing that notorious and uncompromising hooligan spirit. Their fourth full-length Devotio was released earlier this year via Hammerbolt Productions. It’s, therefore, an honor to be able to have this very thoughtful conversation with John (Guitars, Bass, Drum Programming, and additional Vocals) on themes of album concept, war, philosophy, French BM, passion for motorcycles, and (unsurprisingly) Louis-Ferdinand Céline.
T： I like the oil painting cover of the 2018 album F.E.R.T very much. Why didn’t I continue to do the oil painting style album cover after that? Will I still consider doing this style of cover or inner page design? Of course, I also like DEVOTIO’s print-style cover very much — the scene of blowing the horn toward the Eiffel Tower seems more meaningful. Do these two paintings have any historical background? And who is the cover artist for F.E.R.T ?
John： The FERT cover has been done by Paolo Girardi, and the inner designs by our great friend Umberto D´Ottavio. For the Devotio album, we asked Umberto to make all our designs because he knows exactly what we want, and it’s easier to work with a friend with the same mindset. For each of our albums, we have always made sure that the designs were created in coherence with the different atmospheres that we developed over time.
FERT was a big shift in our way of working and in our music in general. It’s the first album that we mixed and mastered, it’s the first complete album with Hreidmarr (vocalist), and it’s the first album where we really took the time to compose, write and give a general coherence to the subject and to the form. this necessarily impacted the way we designed the cover. We wanted something barbaric and heroic, more developed and less dirty than the previous albums while taking up the codes of BMH and that’s how Thorwald (vocalist) came up with the idea of asking Paolo to paint a scene representing the ride of the Valkyries by adding motorcycles, guns, naked women and balaclavas.
For this one (FERT), we cannot really say that there is a historical will, but Devotio is another story: The cover takes up the legend of Roland and transcribes it in a kind of more or less near and dystopian future by once again taking up the codes of BMH. I will let you search on the internet for the exact details of the legend of Roland and Charlemagne because it is a very long story that I cannot simplify or translate into English.
T： Did the Russian-Ukrainian war have a big impact on France? Did it affect your personal life and your music career, and what are your thoughts on the war? Please share.
John： Yes, we can feel the impact of the war in France, but above all, these are relatively insignificant economic impacts compared to what the populations directly affected by the war experience.
I personally find that France and the European Union, in general, are only reaping what they have been sowing for decades by taking the Russians for fools. And I find it distressing to note that some are indignant at this conflict by drawing from it biases of confirmation that Putin is a bastard because all this is proof of it while they have been stoking these issues since the end of the USSR and in addition, not caring about other equally unfair and deadly conflicts that are taking place elsewhere but which do not bring any benefit to Europe or even worse would put them in an uncomfortable situation.
That being said, that in no way removes the atrocities suffered by the Ukrainians, and we cannot imagine what they are going through on a daily basis in view of our situation in France, which is rather comfortable in comparison.
We can debate for hours on who is right and what is right or wrong; we are far too badly placed to objectively realize what is going on down there. I find it very complicated to judge this kind of conflict without knowing precisely the history of the region concerned, the ins and outs, previous conflicts and everything that could play a role today. Still, when a person is attacked and defends their land, I would tend to side with it rather than the assailant.
T： Apart from metal, what other genres do you like to listen to, which ones inspire you, and can you recommend a favorite non-metal artist or album.
John: Thorwald and I have always listened to different styles of music, even if we have always listened more towards metal and rock in general. we have listened to a lot of Darkfolk and neofolk and more recently discovered country music after several visits to our friends, Wolves of Vinland, in Virginia.
When it comes to country music, people only see the clichés of the genre. The guys slicked back with deep voices, in white suits and cowboy hats, singing for housewives in need of romance. Or even worse! Rednecks who only talk about their huge trucks and how drunk they drive all night. In reality, there are many artists much more interesting than that, speaking of nihilism, of death, with a vision of life and existence much more developed than most of us. Thorwald said in an interview, I don’t remember the exact words, but he said that country music, in a way, is a stripped-down version of black metal. The terms discussed are substantially the same, and the energy that emanates from them is also very close. the only real difference is the form more than the content, and to give country music the advantage, there is something purer to express and transmit emotions with a guitar, four chords, and four verses than with six musicians, huge productions and ultra-technical eight-minute tracks. Sometimes simplicity is more important, and going back to the essence of what we are listening to can put a lot of things into perspective. Personally, I feel much more touched by someone who sincerely expresses his emotions in all simplicity than guys who cosplay and go to extremes to show how satanic they are but who probably wouldn’t assume it in front of their boss or their in-law’s families.
For a few years, I couldn’t stop listening to Townes Van Zandt. Seriously I think he’s one of the greatest artists of all time who never had the success he should have had. If you have the opportunity to listen to “Lungs, Waitin’ round to die, My proud mountains, Flying shoes and Nothing” by taking the time to listen to the lyrics, they are just masterpieces. I quote you these songs that come to mind, but in reality, his entire discography is incredible, and there are about twenty other songs to listen to, which are all worth it.
NK: How to look at the relationship between the state and the individual, as in the lyrics, what kind of ”state“ betrays the individual. And is your view of the nation, similar to Heidegger’s, a cultural community, or is it limited by the race itself?
John: This is a very difficult question to answer. I don’t know Heidegger well enough to rely on his work when answering you but to answer more simply, I would say that both have a certain importance and that nothing can be entirely black or entirely white.
I would say that to create a community in which all the members are not constantly at war, it is important that the members of this community share the same values, the same vision of the past, and the same vision of a common future in order to move forward hand in hand. I don’t think there is any fundamental importance attached to race here, but I find it hard to believe that a person born on the other side of the world, with a different history, a different culture, and a vision of the world shaped according to the geographical area where this person was born can have the same vision of the past and the future as a person born in France for example, even if it is not totally impossible.
This does not mean that one vision is better than another or that the community in which I grew up is better than another. It just means that there is a lot of possibility for different visions and that a single community cannot fit with the expectations of the whole world.
In conclusion, I think it is essential to create a community with people with common values, and most of the time, culture helps a lot to bring people together, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the only option.
T: Why does French black metal always sound like it has a similar vibe or similar roots? Do you draw on some traditional French folk music in it, or have you coincidentally developed a French style?
John: I think the language has a lot to do with it. The phrasing, flow, and pronunciations are very recognizable and instantly indicate to the listener that such or such band belongs to the French scene. Afterward, as in any scene, the different bands influence each other and create a coherent whole.
Some actually add elements of French folklore, others don’t, but as a scene, there is a common energy that gives direction without necessarily everyone facing the same thing.
Xuantong: French black metal music is very famous in the world. At the same time, there are also many fans of black metal in the French music scene. But why is there not as much or even so little French black metal music as you can see in most record stores in France? I didn’t even find once stuff released by BMH there. Does this have something to do with the image of French black metal in French society?
John:I think it mostly depends on what you mean by French Black Metal. There are a lot of mainstream bands that have a place in all the slightly specialized record stores, and it seems to work well. As for the more underground groups, they are also available at some even more specialized record stores, but they are not hard to find. Afterward, it is always possible to find a bit of everything from the different labels, and there are a lot of them.
I don’t think that in France, there is a real bad image of black metal or even of metal in general. Still, French black metal, as a scene and not generalist black metal played by French guys, remains an underground scene that is struggling to come out of its cave and which mainly interest passionate listeners.
As for BMH, the problem is more political and in France the opposition is very strong. When we approach terms that can be closely or remotely related to the far right, censorship comes to the fore very quickly. As soon as we talk about certain themes, like history, patriotism, European culture, etc… we are directly categorized and many doors allowing a certain visibility close. It’s unfortunate but that’s the game! I prefer to do what I want without worrying about the opinion of others rather than conforming to the expectations of the labels so as not to make them lose money or lose their visibility.
The fact is that every band that talks a bit too much about European culture, history, and critics of the modern world is categorized as nazi or nsbm…
Personally, I would tend to say that we are nationalists and anarchists and nostalgic for more traditional values and against the values imposed by the modern world.
As for white supremacism, I find it absurd to associate ourselves with that. To speak on my behalf, I sincerely do not believe that defending our own culture and history should be done at the expense of others’ culture and I have enormous respect for all cultures on earth. Simply, in view of what globalism tends to impose, to create a smooth world where no one would come from nowhere, and all people would only be good for consumption, I find it important to defend my culture against that.
In Europe, to think like that is directly to be categorized as white supremacists, but that’s a bit silly. I think we have to defend each of the cultures of this world and not let the different governments destroy them for their own benefit. But it is normal in a sense to defend your own culture while letting others take care of theirs.
T: Nowadays, China doesn‘t allow Chinese citizens to leave the country at will, nor does it allow foreign bands to play in the country, so we’ve only been able to watch domestic bands for almost three years, which is very hard for metal fans. And in an unnecessary anti-epidemic policy, China has kept Shanghai people from going out for three months, and there is always the risk of being quarantined and staying in hotels to pay for their own quarantine for about 7 or 14 days in their home country, so they can‘t properly travel to other parts of the country. The economy has also been driven down by this unnecessary policy, and people are very unfree, which used to be average, but now the people in power are even worse
Jon： I don’t like to talk about things I don’t actually know and to be honest I don’t know a lot about China, but for what you tell and what I heard, it’s sad to see such a big country, with a millennial history and such a great culture being crushed by a bad government
T: Post-colonialism and anti-Western centrism is indeed an important topic in non-developed countries; thank you for noticing this. For me, one cannot maintain an oppressed and angry attitude against the spread of universal values in New World countries just because one is an ancient civilization and is now on the periphery, knowing that there is always a reason why everyone seeks civilization away from feudal traditions. It is true that Western countries have aberrantly shaped Third World countries, but sometimes this idea can lead to reverse nationalism, and I see this in two ways. It’s good to celebrate one’s land and culture versus opposing modernity, and I enjoy reading similar works, such as those of Schelling, Herzen, and Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Its also nice to see that you’re willing to categorize the band as anarchist-leaning. I‘ve read your lyrics in the lyric book, and they’re very poetic, which is a genre I really like, and it‘s not easy to be lyrically and musically sophisticated at the same time, which is why I really like your band.
John： Theres one thing that interests me a lot. Have you read Celine in English translation or in Chinese? Céline probably is my favorite writer of all the times! But I’m actually septic that it can be read in another language than French… For the subjects hes talking about, and his reflections about the world, the war, the society etc… It could be read. Still, its impossible to translate his texts with the exact way he’s speaking. he uses slang that is very specific to a district of Paris and at a specific time, which makes his way of speaking extremely special, even for a Frenchman. I have nothing to add except that we no longer live in a community and have become egocentric. Therefore, everyone lives for their own comfort at all costs and is ready to sacrifice a complete society so as not to have to leave their own comfort. We have forgotten the values greater than our own life and lost what was sacred in death.
For the fact of being poetic and sophisticated at the same time, I think that is the great advantage of having very defined roles in a group and of less than two! Thorwald only has to think about lyrics and designs when working on an album and I only have to compose and record. Even if it may seem very limiting, in reality it is what allows us not to scatter and focus on what we do best each on our side and I think that helps us a lot. In addition, being extremely complementary in our lives, not only musically, the alchemy operates very easily and most of the time, the lyrics stick perfectly to my music. Often, in bands with 4 or 5 members, the creative process is very slowed down by the fact that everyone wants to put their stone to the building without making any concessions. In the end, they take a long time to just agree before they can really start working. In BMH, we trace our path independently of the other without thinking, but by confining ourselves to our own role,s and we always manage to come together at some point.
T: Voyage au bout de la Nuit has a Chinese translation. Due to cultural differences and language barriers, it is certainly not as interesting as the French original. When I learn some French in the future, I will definitely read it again in French, especially the slang that only exists in French and cannot be translated into Chinese. Paul Ricoeur used the term “résistance,” following psychoanalytic terminology, to refer to the insidious and cunning resistance to the trials of the foreign, which originated in the translated language.
The boundaries between semantic fields cannot be fully transferred from one language to another. In a word, the ideal of the ”perfect translation“ is abandoned. As with accepting a defect, only renunciation can help us withstand the impossibility of serving two masters, serving both the author and the reader.I think that Paul Ricoeur, the hermeneutics from your home country, has a very good understanding of translation.
T： You and Thorwald work together perfectly! And thanks again for accepting this interview!
As a genuine emboidement of tainted emotions and crimson surreality, the music of SLUTET has always been defying a rigid definition of set genres: a sonic ritual of dark magic shrouded with an acid mist, where whispers of an unknown goddess echoing in the air, narrating stories about rusty razors and bloodshed freedom — truly an existential poetry of love and beauty. In celebrating the vinyl release of SLUTET’s well-acclaimed debut full length, we had the honor to have this intensively detailed and personal conversation with the troubled souls behind this project, covering not only SLUTET, but the entire work of the End Commune as a collective, reflecting upon topics like wars, femininity, their obsession for Polish culture, and most imporatntly, free will and resistance.
We would humbly send to the End Commune our sincerest gratitude for offering such an in-depth and fantastic answers.
Interviewed by Aymparch
1. Greetings all and thanks for accepting this interview. How you guys doing lately? Still enjoying the feedback from SLUTET’s latest debut or already start to work on some new materials? Also, how does the pandemic situation over there in Sweden look like these days?
Malkus:I am doing great thank you. I’m currently living in a trailer outside a former cement factory, now a blacksmithing school, outside a small rural town so I barely notice the covid restrictions outside the fact that attending church has become near impossible. I am working on a solo side project. I do long to jam and hang out with my besties though.
Livrädd: Greetings! I’ ve personally been doing great lately. The full-length album was a huge, huge project for us amateurs to take on and it really was a pain in the ass to work with at several points. Finishing it was an emotional release and I am now in the phase of actually enjoying listening to it too, since I just passed through the phase of being tired of it. Creatively too I have experienced a release, after we cleared our part in the making of the album. Not at all channeled through the project Slutet though, but through other, new projects. I know, for me, this was the last thing I did with Slutet for a long time and we as a group have decided to put it on hold for a while. As for the pandemic situation, it doesn’t mind me that much, for the moment.
Rytterson: 2020 was what it was but things could always be so much worse. The pandemic situation in Sweden is pretty relaxed in terms of public regulations – mostly, we have only “health and safety recommendations” in place. At the same time, elderly corpses are mounting. I don’ t know what is going on anymore. It all bores me to death at this point. I haven’t read a coronavirus news story since last autumn, I guess. I can barely bother anymore… it went from exciting to worrying to tedious and plain annoying pretty damn fast.
With regards to what is happening in our camp, it is still a bit early to say; the situation is unclear even for us, but as Livrädd has stated, Slutet is taking an indefinite break. Over the lapse of the year 2020 we have barely been in our rehearsal bunker. We have recently started to descend there again, but we are not working on anything Slutet – rather, some side-project curiosities and some emerging, potentially new Endcommunean flagships are hammered and worked on down there. In reality, we could pace it up a lot if we wanted it. Apparently, we do not want to, since we do not. I guess 2020 has been a break for us and a moment of introspection with regards to the future of the End Commune, as well as a time for working on – and arranging – the physical releases for which we have patiently waited a long time:Begynnelsen vinyl release and Love & Beauty vinyl release will be, thus far, the crowning achievements of our little congregation, for sure.
2. According to MA and your official bandcamp page, SLUTET stands for “the end” in Swedish, and it makes me wonder which one came first in terms of the music project SLUTET itself or your collective The End Commune? What’s the artistic or philosophical purpose of creating both entities? Was SLUTET/The End Commune a vessel through which you are able to channel your thoughts and reflection?
Livrädd: Slutet as a band started in the brain of Rytterson and eventually became a real band. So, the band Slutet came first, and afterwards came The End Commune, I think. From my point of view I was, at the time, very eager to play in an emotion-driven band, fueled by drugs and strong friendship. But since we as a band spent a lot of spare time as friends, growing up together, it already from the beginning felt like something more than just a band, so the step to becoming a community felt natural. I also think that we as individuals were quite different in many ways, but still really enjoyed working as one entity, associating ourselves with each other, so forming a community was a good idea. In that way we could capture allour individual differences under one banner in a way that made sense. I also think we all had a strong desire to belong to something bigger – like classical adolescents – since Sweden and Uppsala does not really offer much of interest to be a part of. It all formed in the years after school and we were adolescents with no clue about how to live a proper life. But we aimed at God and had to invent that search for ourselves. Early on I remember picturing The End Commune like a shipway on which we together are building our own ark, ready to ship off as apocalypse approaches. Or as a lunatics monastery where we all were to spiritually grow before launching out to the real world again. It is a homemade initiation-ritual. Or Slutet is the initiation ritual, I would say, since it has an end and a beginning. The Commune is forever going, throwing us new ways to grow, new challenges and new crises. And to answer the last part of your question: no, not as much thoughts and reflections; for me, it was more about emotions and a certain attitude towards the world. But this is mainly because I have had nothing to do with the lyrics in Slutet.
Rytterson:Well, going back all the way to 2010-2011, the first name I had for the music project that would eventually morph into Slutet was Den FanatiskaKyrka av de Sista DagarsHeliga, which is pretentious, obsolete Swedish for “The Fanatical Church of the Holy End of Days”. Eventually this evolved into Slutet – den FanatiskaKyrka av de Sista Dagars Heliga (“Slutet – the Fanatical Church of the Holy End of Days). This concept later kind of split, evolved into two things, as I felt already by 2012 that I wanted to do more things than just having a rock band – various solo-projects coupled with other artistic pursuits (photography, painting, writing, sculpting, et cetera) I envisioned could find its place onto this platform, with the aid and commitment of talented friends around me. So, to answer your question more precisely: they were born at the same time, and have had their respective names since at least 2012, but were envisioned initially as the same thing. So, what is The End Commune today? Nothing more than it ever was: a platform made by a pack of friends wanting to express themselves. It is just a loosely tied art collective type operation; a few individuals writing, painting, making art, thinking about the mysteries of the human and of God and the world, and – of course – creating unhinged and honest music. On a perhaps more personal note, The End Commune is a kind of philosophical and artistic “universe” wherein I can do what seems appropriate in accord with my artistic self-becoming. My ambition with The End Commune is to expand it and make a completely self-reliable record label out of it. Potentially also some kind of book publishing thing. We will see. As for now, all it is, is some weirdoes – great friends and existential allies – doing music. It does not have to be any more pretentious or “sophisticated” than that.
3. The reason why I ask the last question is, in terms of SLUTET’ s music, you certainly process some seriously interesting characteristics: judging from your entire discography, the music styles are “all out of place” or should we put it more appropriately, an honest representation of “free expression” — some top-notched frantic melodies and absolutely badass riffs that one can hardly find in any other bands these days; another remarkable trait is your vocal styles: ranging from some really heart-wrenching deranged howls to pessimistic and often times “cinematic” monologues — probably the greatest feminine vocal styles I’ ve ever heard among black metal acts in terms of emotions and executions. So do you mind sharing some musical influences that really inspire the project SLUTET when it comes to composing styles?
Rytterson: We must bear in mind when addressing these topics that The End Commune was created not by artists but by a couple of kids who seemingly could not imagine life without expressing themselves. I do certainly not see myself as an artist, I am just some guy who needs to artistically express. It was in some sense a desperate attempt at mitigating existential and spiritual anxiety – that is how it felt for me. I needed to bleed blood – but also art. So yes, the term “free expression” sits at the very center of the whole Endcommunean project. When I was younger, I thought of this as cultural terrorism – we were not artists and there was, and is, an almost fanatical insistence on authenticity and “realness” within the Commune. Authenticity has been the keyword since day one. This naturally means we are free to be inspired and influenced by anything and everything we see appropriate for the particular project of the day. Back in the first era, 2010-2013, before we even rehearsed and the band was but a compulsory vision and a vivid day-dream in the back of my mind, the biggest direct musical influences were Master’s Hammer, Burzum, Siouxsie& the Banshees and various krautrock and free-folk projects, old and new, like Ash Ra Tempel, Furekaaben, Pärson Sound/International Harvester and Silvester Anfang/Sylvester Anfang II. Later, these more psychedelic influences fell away but are still quite evident on the demo tapes. And with the advent of the second guitarist in 2015, the music changed toward a more distinctly black metal-like sound, mostly due to the new guitarist’s faster, more melodic style of riffing, and because of the fact that our drummer – I – started learning, more or less, how to play fast drums (something I quite struggle with to this day, I might add, since I am lazy and not of the physical condition I could be). But I think since 2018, we have not been influenced concretely by any single band or bands – on Love & Beauty, European folk music of various kinds and an innate, creatively independent fire I think left far more of an imprint on the music than almost any black metal band ever could have. Black metal was only a kind of framework or context, a vague one at that, and not a source of inspiratory essence.
Malkus: when I started in Slutet and we started working on what would become Jihad, memories of my mother singing old Swedish folk lullabies resurfaced and the melodies sort of just infiltrated my guitar style unconsciously. I had never played that way before I joined Slutet.
Livrädd: As mentioned, we are all quite different as individuals, and our way to manage that during rehearsals and the creation of music is to just let everyone care for their own part. We almost never govern each other’s creative process. There is a total confidence in that every man and woman will do his or her part, not only fittingly, but in the best and most beautiful way possible. The result of that is a very wide range of musical styles and influences. The early Slutet had some clear krautrock influences. This was what we as a group used to listen to while hanging out. The Swedish band Pärson sound and Träd, GräsochStenar are some of the names I remember from that time. Before the last two albums (the ones with the new guitarist) I remember we cheering to the band Aryan Art and expressing the will to do something of that sort. You can hear that influence most prominently in “Sperm-Spitting Mouth” and “Indo-European Storm”. And YES! Dingir’ s vocals are, in my ears, one of the best examples of female vocals in black metal, hard rock, rock, pop, whatever. Her style of singing has made a great impact on my approach to music. Some of my favorite moments are “this is the birth-site of depravation…” on Raped Beauty Sleep and the ending on We Reap Our Crops. She was fucking great right from the start. This is, by the way, one thing I love with working with The End Commune. Both Rytterson and Dingir where practically new to their instruments when we started, and they had no background in music schools of any sort. As for me, I’ve grown up learning music in schools. The clash between our backgrounds were the absolutely best way to reinvent my creativity and joy for music. That naivety and ignorance to musical theory put emotions and the will to express oneself in the anteroom. That, I believe, is what makes Dingir’s vocals so interesting and dynamic.
4. Let’s talk about your first S/T compilation. Musically it’s one of the most unique black metal releases in my opinion, giving its weird mashup of a punkish second wave black metal riffing and a psychedelic acid storm of krautrock. It is also quite different from your later materials in terms of musical style and aesthetic —- a release more like being made by some Eastern European Krautrock maniacs on drugs who openly adore street punk. So how did the first three demos come out and why did you choose this particular style? Another thing drew my attention was the album cover —- depicting the Mesopotamian Lion-headed Eagle Anzû holding an AK and a Molotov cocktail in each hand — an aesthetic that will continue to stay prominent in your future releases and other projects. So why did you choose this picture and are there any symbolic meanings behind this image?
Livrädd: This is not my question to answer, but I will say something about it. From the start Black Metal was not in our minds at all. Doomsday Rock is what we called it. I didn’t like black metal at the time and I had a very strong feeling against double bass drumming.
Rytterson: The first three demo tapes were written in a time when I was a complete amateur about everything. Completely clueless I was with regards to how one normally goes about creating music. My love for music in general helped flavor these crude, early creations, and I had penetrated already quite deep into many different genres of music, but specifically I could mention a few acts…Burzum, Master’s Hammer, Silvester Anfang, Discharge, Anomie, Peste Noire, Katharsis, Siouxsie&theBanshees and Vissovasso (Crakk of Reveal’s early abomination) I remember all had a quite direct influence on the way I wanted my music to sound. The earliest riffs were written on an unplugged, untuned three-stringed bass guitar in my room in Vänge outside Uppsala around 2010, maybe even 2009. Later, in 2012 or so, I started creating the music only using tablature, which maybe could account for part of the peculiar sound on these songs. We started rehearsing it on September 1, 2013, and released then three demo tapes in 2014, all of whom were recorded completely by ourselves in our rehearsal rooms, mixed and “produced” at home, dubbed onto tape by hand in an old1980’s cassette deck, and also every cassette tape cover of all three demos is hand-drawn or otherwise handmade. As I previously noted, ideas of autonomy and authenticity – my existentialist virtues, really – was of huge importance in the early days. That is the way things still are, even though we now (since 2015) work with (independent) labels when it comes to the promotion, manufacture and distribution of physical releases, so I guess we are not entirely independent in every sense of the word. We are not as die-hard, radical and idealist as we were back in 2014 I guess.
With regards to the he Anzû bird: this lion-bird-human figure is in Sumerian and later Semitic (Akkado-Babylonian and Assyrian) mythology a lesser divinity of the pantheon, and is according to some accounts responsible for stealing the Tablet of Destinies from the Gods. The Tablet of Destinies was the stone-tablet upon which the fate of the world and all its subjects, humans or otherwise, were written down.Whoever owned it, controlled these destinies. The symbolism here is that Anzû is a re-conqueror of autonomy from the Gods, a kind of archetypal, Promethean figure if you will. I chose this mythological creature to symbolize(re-)discovery of self-determination and autonomy as opposed to merely following, like fish in a shoal, the natural or “expected” trajectory of your existence, whatever that may be. The symbolism here is very heavily existentialist. The AK-47 and the Molotov cocktail are added as more or less universally recognizable symbols of armed insurgency, the struggle for independence, revolutionary militias, asymmetrical guerilla warfare and stuff like that. Basically – in one word, symbols of resistance.
5. The label of “experimental music” could be somewhat misleading when it comes to black metal (or any subgenre): for me, there exist two kinds: one who use some easily-detected and deliberated attempts and experiment with all sorts of sounds and devices, the other is essentially some weird representations of something that’s hard to be put into an existing genre label — a music of free expression, and for me, the attitudes and styles in SLUTET and related projects definitely fit into the later. What are your thoughts on this idea of experimental music and when SLUTET was called out using such a label? Your passion for low-fi 80s synth and minimalistic ambience is also prominent in related projects like Lapis Lazuli, Loveboy, and RESILIENCE (and oh boy how great those two RESILIENCE demos sound). Do you mind elaborating upon those side projects and your “experiments” of synth in them? If or how do they relate to SLUTET and The End Commune as a whole?
Livrädd:I don’t recall others labeling Slutet as experimental. I thought that was our own doing, but I might be wrong. I like the idea of free expression in music. I like to be surprised and to hear something I have never heard before and for someone to invoke a new feeling never felt before through music.
Rytterson:Well, with regards to the label ‘experimental music’ there is not much to say. It is what it is. It is hard to make the case that anything TEC-related is not experimental, so I am fine with the epithet. After all, that is what we do.
With hand on my heart, I must say that Slutet was always meant to reach people. To communicate something. The “underground music for underground people” ethos, which is quite widespread in many circles, never applied to Slutet. I much enjoy when people recognize Slutet, comment on it, share their opinions on the material, etc. It is definitely a divisive project, I think. Either you get it or you don’t. That is my hope at least!
However, for the side projects, this has never been the case. I am very, very humble about them for the very reason that they were never exactly meant to be spread and listened to by other people in the first place. These small side-dishes never had that thing built into their original concepts. Not that I mind any attention I get from it, it is fun and humbling…but I just did never think anyone would quite notice them, given what they are, these side projects. They were always made for my own self-improvement and pleasure, I guess (I am talking about Loveboy, Lapis Lazuli and Resilience here, of which I am wholly responsible). I have no idea how to “properly” make music, I cannot handle a guitar, I am comically and completely clueless about musical theory, my drumming is 100% autodidact, etc… yet I have to make music, so I have to find other pathways and avenues so that I can actualize myself through my creativity. This is how I have felt for the last decade.
Loveboy started in the final weeks of 2016 when I had a terrible fever and tried to “mitigate” it with oxycodone and hashish. As a result, I laid in a couch for days on end, half feeling like shit and half feeling great. After listening to Born to Die by Lana Del Rey for possibly 24 hours straight – one of my favorite LP:s – while nodding, sliding back and forth between reality and fever-dreamlike states, I decided to finally make the effort and change it for something more ambient and atmospheric. I discovered that I could not quite find the perfect music for the occasion – Lustmord, Current93, Biosphere, GnawtheirTongues, Brian Eno, Trepaneringsritualen and RaisonD’Etre were all decent, good or even great – but contextually imperfect. This frustrated me to the very point that I simply decided to create it myself. I wanted to at least have a go at it, and if not for the quality of the musical output itself, then at least for the sake of creative pleasure and drug-fueled stimulation it would bring me. The days before, while in my oxycodone-and-fever-induced semi-coma I had binged 4 or 5 Ingmar Bergman films and was very influenced by them, moved by them; possibly spiritually motivated by them. The two themes merged together, atmospheric music and Ingmar Bergman, and I patched up a sound collage I could listen to while dwelling in the bed or the couch during the remainder of my fever-streak. I found it meaningful, fun and rewarding – so I continued. Making this stuff available publicly has not so much been motivated by exposure; rather, I am motivated to challenge myself and my self-image by putting it out, and being fine with people thinking it is mindless garbage. Sharing these things has more to do with thickening my own skin than it has chasing some kind of recognition or affirmation. And that is going great so far, I’ve learned a lot. So naturally, when the response comes back positive, it is very weird for me. It is great, I totally appreciate it, but it feels surreal. This was meant as my personal moody music and now it has even been released on tape. It is very humbling and nice. I am just trying to create atmospheres for myself, basically. Maybe I manage to be atmospheric to someone else as well? If that is the case – fine, good, jolly, nice.
Lapis Lazuli is a different story altogether, as is Resilience. Lapis Lazuli was born in the spring/summer of 2015 when I shared a house with Dingir and another woman, a stranger. What I had that summer was drugs, an unrelenting interest for the ancient near east (Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Levant/Phoenicia, Elam, Persia, etc.), and an old 1980’s Yamaha synthesizer I had gotten from my grandparents. I also had a lot of time. What I did not have, on the other side, was any kind of talent, skill or education in how to play the thing. I had basically never struck a single piano key before that, so it certainly is what it is. Again, creative desperation had to suffice for skill and musical ability. Back in late 2013 I had a brief and problematic incursion into academia, lasting for about 4 months – I briefly studied Akkadian and the cultures of the ancient near east. I dropped mostly due to social and psychological reasons, and not at all out of disinterest; I was miserable about it, but the passion for the subject itself was never faltering. I still listen to this stuff even though I regularly cringe at how painfully sloppy and amateurish it all is. For some reason, however, it is a great source of personal nostalgia and sometimes I even think it is good music in its own right.
The Resilience project is, once again, more of the same. I have a total lack of any kind of “conventional” musical skill and ability, yet I know I have so many riffs and melodies in me. They have to come out somehow. Therefore, Resilience exists. It is all made in a tiny freeware called Tabit – a super-basic tablature software – and edited in the equally free Audacity. The concept of Resilience is a zealous adulation of the Kurdish resistance struggle against Turkey and – back then – the Islamic State. It is very fun and stimulating for me.
All these side projects, and the other ones of which I am not responsible, such as Albaslï, make up a great core of what The End Commune really is. A congregation of friends expressing themselves freely. Nothing more, nothing less. And every single release always speaks for itself; there is no central agenda, no ideology or anything like that. Individual projects and releases can always proclaim various loyalties and affiliations, but the End Commune as such will never stand behind any of them.
6. In 2017 you guys released Jihad, an ep that’s quite different from your previous materials and much more leaning towards some “standard raw black metal”, even though some of the trancy psychedelic elements and weird samples still exist. What was the reason behind this style shift? Was the replacement of previous guitarist a central reason? I also wonder what was that long narrative in the second track (was it in Swedish?) One can also easily notice that a passion for the Near East culture has been another central theme in all of your projects, especially in SLUTET and RESILIENCE. You’ve spoken about this a little about this passion on Lapis Lazuli’s bandcamp page, do you mind elaborate upon this a little more? How important does the Near East mean to The End Commune and why?
Livrädd: Much of the change in style can be attributed to the exchange of guitarist and the creative process which followed along. This new guitarist wrote all the riffs and I guess it leaned towards black metal because he enjoyed it and because our drummer had reached a point in his drumming skills where he could play a lot faster. We also shared the interest in black metal and a lot of late night conversations where characterized by reverence for good black metal and having a good laugh at poor attempts at black metal. The Near-East is interesting because it is such a historical and cultural hot spot for the human race and will so continue to be in the future. Much is circulating here. Everyone wants it in some way or another. It’ s like a sacred battleground.
Malkus: after some time after I joined, I was granted the honor of writing almost all riffs so yes, I think it was a major influence on the sound changing. But as I saidbefore, my guitar style changed dramatically and mysteriously when I joined Slutet. Iguess also we all wanted to play faster – because we could. I think the east is interestingbecause large parts of it have not been raped by post-enlightenment shit. Living in themodern and spiritually corrupt west I think we turn east to look for somethingauthentic. Personally, I found the eastern Orthodox church thank God. And I have tosay that Slutet played a part in my journey towards God.
Rytterson:You have already yourself answered the question – the change of guitarist I would say, by far, impacted that stylistic change the most. Generally, we diversified the creative process starting from ca 2016-2017 onward to include all band members –in contrast, all three demo tapes had been written and arranged by a single member of the band. Our new guitarist, Malkus9 as he is called, had a more aggressive and fast way of playing the guitar. That affected the whole sound a lot.
That talking in the middle of “Goddess of Paradox” is indeed in the Swedish language but what exactly is being said is a mystery even to me, and arguably, even to our vocalist herself. Frantic, improvised or semi-improvised talking made its way both onto the “O Ziemia!” demo as well as on the “Jihad” EP. So, to answer your question – who knows what is being said there. I, for sure, do not.
The near eastern thematic, its aesthetics and all references to it, are not a complicated matter at all. I am simply very, very interested in it (and to some extent, I cannot fully explain why).First of all, the End Commune is in no way, shape or form dependent on the near eastern theme.It just came to develop that way organically, naturally. I hold the ever-beautiful Inanna as a serious avatar of the Divine; I adore her. She is, and has been, important. I believe she exists, but not in the way you and I exist. She first found me in my late teens – probably through Pazuzu (indeed, how many young boys have not initially cultivated an interest in the Sumerian and Semitic mythologies of Mesopotamia by way of Pazuzu, the coolest demon-figure of them all? It seems almost unavoidable, being a young man, being a fan of death- and black metal and finding one’s way to Pazuzu). I guess that is where the ball started rolling for me as well. And the ball rolled to the degree to which I enrolled for Near Eastern Studies at Uppsala University in the autumn of 2013, as I previously mentioned. I hated academia and I hated the university. I felt seriously uncomfortable there. I had grievous psycho-spiritual problems and I ended up panickingly running from the classroom, never to come back. Don’t get me wrong: I loved what I studied or tried to study. I hated everything else about it. The hallways of academia seem suffocating and oppressive to me. That was 2013, and my interest in the mytho-religious, linguistic-cultural and geopolitical history of the near east (ancient as well as contemporary) hasn’t faltered since – quite the opposite. There is always something happening there. The cultural spheres of Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia, Near East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa are immensely fascinating to me – meaning, roughly speaking, the Aryan, Caucasian, Turkic and Semitic worlds. Sometimes I think of human civilization as one long, single, deep, profound breath, with the Euphrates and the Tigris as nostrils. From there, civilization is breathed out, and when time comes, into there it shall again be breathed in; ended; collapsed. There is an epicentral quality to that place. But I guess that is no wonder when you have Tiamat herself dwelling on the bottom somewhere down there in the Persian Gulf. Sometimes she shakes and roars in her sleep – can you verily blame her? – so I think a bit of surface irritation, so to speak, is to be expected. How can a whole region of the world be expected to live up to standards of peace, unity, prosperity or tranquility when the very soil of it rests on the back of the scaled Mother herself? There’ s something for you to think about.
7. Before we get into your latest SLUTET debut, I just want to talk a little bit more about another project of your circle — namely Loveboy — a cinematic collage of minimalistic soundscape, or PASSIONOISE in your own words. Most releases of this project were dedicated to WW2 and old Eastern European cinemas, especially about those fought on the Eastern front by Polish troops. You mentioned the Polish film OstatniEtap and how it impacted you with its depiction of those sufferings in Aushwitz. Drawing upon your other two RESILIENCE releases that dedicated to those fought during the ISIS war, what does war mean to you and what message are you trying to convey with those Loveboy and RESILIENCE releases that dedicated to Polish and Kurds accordingly? Also, how important is film to you personally? You mention that one of your life goal is to learn Polish in order to watch Żuławski’s Na SrebrnymGlobie while capturing all of its fantastic details — why Poland tho? Also a bonus question, what are some other films you enjoy watching while on drugs?
Livrädd: Not my question to answer but Na SrebrnymGlobie is one of the best movies ever made. Gaspar Noe’s movies is fun and terrifying on drugs. And Sergei Parajanov – his movies are perfectly paced for a drug like cannabis and the pictures are like mesmerizing paintings.
Rytterson:War means a lot to me. But let me point out very clearly… let me be clear and honest: I have never made any kind of military service or training otherwise; I have never held an actual weapon, let alone fired one; I have never been in any real combat, armed or unarmed, and I would never, by the grace of God, lie or try to deceive my fellow man on these grounds for the sake of clout or some otherwise credential. I have immense respect and admiration for those who serve and I – quite self-loathingly – compare myself to these men and women on a daily basis. On negative days, I despise myself for not having done what they have done, and for complaining about problems a soldier would see as luxury. On positive days, however, my heroes and heroines of war instill me with a great inspiration more than some self-belittling shame.
I think war defines the human condition. I do not necessarily mean war only in the practical “real-world” sense of bombs, Kalashnikovs and grenades but also in an allegorical, poetic, spiritual and psychological manner. For many years now, one of my main interests has been to try to penetrate the psychological, philosophical, theological and phenomenological implications of war, genocide and atrocity. And what I have concluded is that there presents itself a phenomenological barrier to suffering here – why I am so interested in it. War.
You have to be there to know what it means. I have read so many words about war, I have thought so many thoughts about it. Yet, in a spiritual and phenomenological, ultimatelyhuman sense, I am farther from it than I have ever been. War is a court of God. War brings out goodness, virtue, malevolence and sin in their very crystalline forms. War brings out the very best and the very worst in people. War extracts essences from humanity – secretions of evil and virtue, of extraordinary excellence and of bottomless selfishness and cowardice. Of good and of bad and everything in between. But no matter how morally obvious the acts of evil become, or how the deeds of heroic men and women are impossible to close one’s eyes to, we must remember that war is also the ultimate arena of ambiguity and moral contradiction, and many acts we think of as evil and repugnantly reprehensible in civil life, might very well be acts of tragedy, survival and desperation in war. This creates a moral landscape upon where, by every second, the whole of the human condition explodes and implodes… which makes it almost indecipherable, literally speaking.
There is a burning spiritual core to every war. Martyrdom, heroism, sacrifice. Malevolence, suffering, cruelty. Sheer, burning, racial hatreds… the will to exterminate the enemy down to his very last daughter. Yes, there is a phenomenological barrier of suffering, desperation and anguish. You have to feel it in order to even vaguely understand what it does to people. Every attempt of understanding becomes theorizing and intellectualizing – not experiencing, living, feeling.
If man’ s emotions, by some metaphysical principle, are to be thought of as sacred in their own right… I mean, intrinsically… then surely war is the natural Church of this world. War is a mirror on which man reflects his and her true capacities. War is a place where God and Devil are both very present. In war, people do things we think of as impossible in civil life. Indeed, on a battlefield, many a modern, young westerner would weep for his or her mother after some 30 seconds or less; me included. We do not know a single thing about it, especially here in Sweden. People perform acts of literally incomprehensible malevolence but at the same time, in the same wars, people perform acts of literally incomprehensible heroism. And I can not get that out of my head.
I am periodically consumed by the study of what I would indeed call the most concentrated, intense, destructive, sadistic, malevolent, brutal and apocalyptic inferno man has ever created for himself, which was the eastern front in World War II. The eastern front was spread out across the north-eastern parts of Europe as constituted by Poland, the Baltic States, Belarus, Ukraine and the westernmost parts of European Russia. This defined geographical region between 1941 and 1945 is the definition of hell on earth. I struggle to come up with a single example of historical events that could with some justice be spoken about in the same breath as this pivotal event in world history. Only the conquests of the Japanese Empire in the late 1930s and early 1940’s could, with some measure of integrity, be compared to it (I think I do not have to tell someone like you about this) – ironically, these two different hells were contemporaneous in time, but not co-orchestrated – which is quite insane when you think about it. And I can not stop thinking about these matters. I am not saying that the level of savagery and sadism had never reached such levels before World War II or even since – that would be a very arrogant thing of me to say. Man is a master of cruelty, suffering, agony, humiliation, dehumanization: the Siege of Baghdad of 1258; the Circassian extermination of the 1860’s; the Turkish genocides of the late Ottoman period; the Spanish-Portuguese, and later, English-American pacification of the Americas; the Arab slave trade, late 1970’s Cambodia; Holodomor, Gulag &1920’s-1930’s Soviet Union, the conquests of the Bronze Age Assyrians, European colonialism in places like South Africa, Namibia, and the Congo, the Liberian Civil Wars, etc… the list goes on and on and on… but what I am suggesting is that nowhere in space and time did it come together in such a monumental way as in east Asia and north-eastern Europe during the World War Two time period.
The consistency of it, the death toll of it, the levels of industrialization and sophistication behind it. The systematized campaigns of extermination sustained over such lengthy periods of time and to such intense degrees of zeal and fervent ardor. What a fucking time to be alive, it must have been. I am ranting here, but you asked me to speak about war and I often find it quite hard to limit myself and stop talking about it. Especially the Holocaust and World War II.
“Why Poland tho?”. I am not sure why my passions for this country and its people and language are so deep. It is mysterious, to some degree. But a great contributing factor is the role Poland played in the World War II. Extremely underappreciated for their sacrifice, forgotten and betrayed by their closest allies and locked then behind the Iron Curtain at Stalin’s behest. Let me tell you: between January 1941 and the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, the Polish underground stopped one in eight Wehrmacht transports from reaching the eastern front. In 1944, the Armia Krajowa was estimated to house upwards of 400,000 to 600,000 members, which made it Europe’s foremost underground military resistance organization in terms of numbers. The Armia Krawoja (Home Army),through their government-in-exile-sanctioned Żegota network, saved more Polish Jews from the Holocaust than any other allied organization (the governments of France, Great Britain and the United States included; they did not do shit). Amongst many operations of assassination, sabotage, and outright military engagement with both the SS and German army (prominent examples include the Operacja Główki – assassination raids on SS top officials – and the Akcja Burza and Zamość military uprisings), arguably the most famous of these operations was what came to be the largest event of resistance in all of occupied Europe: on August 1, 1944, at 17:00 hours, the Warsaw Uprising commenced. This fight for integrity and self-determination was fueled by the bitterest fires of anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet resentments, and it was a doomed fight, yet it was fought. 10 men would pay the price of hanging for the ripping down of a Swastika flag in the Polish capital and Varsovians often woke up with fresh corpses hanging from the light-posts along their streets. Children, women, men, elderly folks laid executed in gutters, tremendous atrocities were perpetrated (Wola comes to mind here) –Warsaw was officially out of wooden coffins already after the first months of German occupation. People were burned alive, whipped and beaten to torturous deaths, labored to collapse…. but they continued digging their trenches, building their barricades… especially in the latter days, mass rapes were perpetrated by the penal battalions of the SS; children starved en masse and cannibalism has been spoken about. Matricide, patricide, all human decadence, theft, murder for food – it all became common; children carried hand-guns and were couriers for the Underground – and they were executed on the very same grounds as their parents! No mercy!
For every resistance member indentified, whole families were exterminated. Yet – the underground persisted its courageous and insane fight for survival. What must be remembered is that the Armia Krajowa and its tributary and auxiliary allies were to a large part only anti-Nazi but they were also staunchly anti-Soviet. For this reason, the fight for freedom persisted after the war had ended – by nationalist heroes, their blood and iron shining in the sun of what was true to them!
What happened in Poland (but absolutely not exclusively in Poland) during those cursed years in general – and during those 63 days of rebellion in particular – is literally beyond our comprehension I think. We can not cross the phenomenological barrier of suffering here; suffering like this must be truly felt in order to be truly understood, and I claim no insight in the trepidations, angsts and torments of the combatants and of the civilian victims of this apocalyptic terror – 90% of Warsaw was razed to the ground by the Nazi regime – but I claim empathy with them, I salute the remembrance of them, and I hold them as heroes and martyrs of the Divine Struggle! Therefore, again, I wish not to paint my homagewith a brush of shallow and lazily appropriating glorification of some past event, but I pay my dues to the very human realities of it: I try to establish a connection with the ones who waded through the sewers and lived months and months down there in the excremental sludge of a nation on its knees but still spitting upward… I pay my dues to the girls and boys losing their mothers to traumatic rape and their fathers to the grinding death of the frontlines, but yet persisting in the cultivation of the unbreakable spirit of resilience! Heroic self-defense! and I pay my dues to the young men storming the enemy with not even a rifle in their courageous but trembling hands!
Long live the Peasant Battalion! Love live the Sophie Battalion! And long live Henryk Dobrzański! And Bór-Komorowski! And Anna Smoleńska … I hope you have found peace: the Kotwica is burning in my flesh – it remembers you forever. And this is the reason I dedicate so much of my works to Poland, why I love the Polish spirit so much. I find something in Poland I do not find in Sweden anymore, and it moves me to the point of wanting to make music in honor of it.
And even though World War Two is the mother of all wars, it certainly does not take such a monolith to evoke the human emotions and conditions of what I am talking about: between ca 2013 and 2016 I was very, very into the Syrian Civil War, especially the Islamic State. It exhilarated me so much when they managed to chase out the national army of Iraq from Mosul in the summer of 2014. I have had an interest in terrorism, riots, rebellions, uprisings, violent zeal and militarism in general, and the Islamic State were undeniably masters of it at one point in time. There is a discarded Loveboy creation from, I think, early 2017 which is rather glorifying of the Islamic State. I have since deleted it. As much as I was a fucked up young man at that time, my heart has always been for good rather than for evil, so I decided I wanted to make something celebrating their mortal enemies instead. I totally support PKK, YPG/J and the rest of it. But do not make some mistake or take something for granted – ideologically, I do not support them. I dislike all ideologies and want nothing to do with them, except for studying them historically – perhaps. I strongly dislike all kinds of active political engagement. ALL politics. Take it away from me; do not bother me with it. Politics and ideology have a rancid, foul smell I want none of. It can very well poison both my flesh and my mind, if it gets too close to my being. I support the PKK not because I like their democratic pseudo-Marxist federalism or condone that political system, because I do not; I do not know enough about it and I honestly do not care about it. What I do, however, care a lot about is the strong hearts of men and women fighting for what they believe in: their blood, their soil, their God…
Most people just want to live, that is true – I would count myself amongst them. But in retrospect, who do we honor? The one saying“let’s hide and be quiet; I do not want to die” or the ones saying“this is my land and I will not go without a fight” ? We all have pity for the former, but we do not really feel pity for the latter. It is not pity we feel over the latter – it is reverence. And in that very reverence, a world of art opens itself to me.
8. So finally we are here, Love & Beauty, your first and latest full length, and holy shit what a groundbreaking release it is: not only the best and most mature release among your entire discography but probably one of the most innovative and emotionally intricate releases in black metal history. I’m still haunted till this day by the main riffs of Sperm-Spitting Mouth and Indo-European Storm, especially when those melodies of triumph and melancholie surge right after those nostalgic samples in the third track. Also your trademarked style of a post-punk/psychedelic blending of black metal is also prominent in this album’s title track, let alone the always brilliantly-executioner vocals. I also can’t help but notice a distinct sense of fury in this release, giving how “in-your-face” the overall writing styles look. Do you mind sharing some back stories of this release, how was it written and recorded, which came first in terms of lyrics/themes and music, and how important it stands in the life of SLUTET? Also I’m particularly curious about those samples you use in this one: I think in the beginning of the 1st and 3rd track there’re some monologues in Swedish, a Polish folk song at the end of the 1st track, and another English monologue in the mid of the 3rd track. Where did you get those samples? Are they from some old films? Why did you choose to incorporate them into this album?
Malkus:I only wrote the riffs in our rehearsing space. I am unable to write Slutet riffs without my comrades. From my point of view the making of the album was plain hard work combined with a regrettable consumption of drugs and alcohol. The process was for the most part me coming up with riffs and the other guys saying yay or nay – then we mixed and matched the riffs to make songs, added the vocals and rehearsed for hours and hours. Then discussing (me bitching and whining), arguing and adjusting until it sounded good. This whole cacophony was recorded during a cocaine fueled weekend. We shot the cover for the album, and the band pictures, that same weekend.
Livrädd: First of all, thank you for that review! This album is the pinnacle in the life of Slutet. It is what we aimed for from the start. The process of making the album was three years long and it was, as mentioned, very painful and burdensome at times. Basically, the writing process was our guitarist presenting a new riff. Then we played it and came up with some ideas together on how it may develop and such. Then we pressured our guitarist until he came up with a new riff on spot. We played it, came up with new conceptual ideas on development, structure and such, and then repeat. I know this process have been especially painful for our guitarist and vocalist. The vocalist apparently had nothing to do for the wholesome of the rehearsals than to just stand-by and wait for a new riff to emerge, and the guitarist obviously had a lot of pressure. But it was a way that worked evidently. The pressure on the guitarist was good in the end because he has the nerves and psyche to really perform under those circumstances. Mediocrity was not an option so he had to push himself to his limits. Meanwhile, Dingir wrote the lyrics which was basically a poetic short-story and which was later cut up and adapted to the music. The themes were developing along the way. “Hurricane Ingrid” and “Indo-European Storm” are concepts mainly derived from the sound of the music – how it sounded to us. “Uppsala” was a concept we thought about a long time and was the result of us wanting to do a kind of homage to the city and our time in it, while at the same time mocking it. “Love and Beauty” was also an early theme which felt natural from the start. It’s an honest declaration of what we strive for in life. And though we also thrive on hate and ugliness, the choice on focusing on love and beauty is to go against the expected black metal output.
Rytterson: The riff always comes first. We started rehearsing directly after we had recorded Jihad – around New Year’s Eve of 2016/17 – and concluded the creative process of it by the summer of 2019. With the official vinyl edition releasing more or less at the same time as this interview – February 2021 – it is safe to say it took a while to get the album out. As per usual, we had no idea what it would become once we started working on it. Lyrics emerge and develop gradually and, to a large degree, organically within and without the rehearsal. The songs only had working titles for the longest time (“Sperm-Spitting Mouth” was called “Kött” – which means “flesh” or “meat” – until at least early 2019); the title track was called “Ninkilim” for quite a while, etc. Basically, we focused 100% on the music and the lyrics until 2019, when talks of cover imagery, aesthetics, song titles, release forms, etc., were initially spoken of. And I can tell you where the samples come from: the outro on “Sperm-Spitting Mouth” comes from a traditional Siberian-Russian folk tune, “Age-Old Pines Above the Shusha”, from an album of such music arranged and directed by Vladimir Chirkov and released in the Soviet Union back in 1969. Outstanding music; simply amazing. The English sample in the middle of Indo-European Storm comes from a Syrian terrorist or freedom-fighter, hero or murderer – whatever you prefer. The ending of the title track is a manipulated sample of some Russian Orthodox praying and “The Gloomy Ride…” contains some excerpts from a Kazakh film. “Indo-European Storm” consists of “agricultural noise”, traditional Swedish cattle-calls and that kind of stuff.
9. It seems that you’ve been constantly exploring the topic of feminine power in the context of Near East mythology/history. The album cover of Jihad (whom does it depict? Since it also showed up in the background of your official blog) and its second track that dedicated to Inanna/Tiamat, the fifth track of Love & Beauty is also an otherworldly piano ambience dedicated to Tahmirih/Tomyris, all of these keep me wondering the role of those female deities/heroines in your music and what are you trying to evoke through their image and stories? Does it have certain symbolic undertones associated with, let’s say, will and freedom?
Rytterson:Yes, you are quite right in your observation – however, I can not fully explain why. I have always found tremendous inspiration and power in the most ideal, potent and healthy forms of both gender’s roles. As much as I am a fan of positive masculinity – in fact, I almost worship it (with emphasis on almost) – I am equally an admirer of its respective femininity. I do not know why exactly but I continuously seek out female characters in history. I try to find them: sometimes they are very obvious and widely recognized, and sometimes they are ignored or overlooked; sometimes they are purposely smeared, belittled and ridiculed by the fellow man, and sometimes they are glorified, acknowledged and celebrated. For the most part, their historical reputation notwithstanding, they are very interesting.
The woman on the cover of “Jihad” – a bit counter-intuitively – has nothing to do with Islam. She is Queen Lakhsmibai, the Rani of Jhansi, a region in northern India. She played a pivotal role in the Hindu rebellion of 1857 against the British Raj, and subsequently became a powerful symbol of Indian nationalism and anti-imperialist resistance. Women waging war – hell, even leading whole armies – in places and times where such conduct were more or less unheard of (as it obviously is, even to this modern day) or even blatantly unacceptable, ridiculous to the social order – always fascinated me. They still do. From Veleda of the Bucteri to Dihya of the Berbers, to Ching Shih of the oriental oceans and semi-mythical figures like Arawelo of the Somali lands. Semiramis, Æthelflæd and – of course – Tomyris. I am extremely fascinated with the large chunks of women serving in various resistance movements of the World War II as well as in various anti-colonial wars of independence ever since.
I am not sure any of this rambling has answered your question, but I think my obsessive passions for armed resistance, uprisings and the ever-so-human strife for national, personal, religious and ethnic dignity has a lot to do with it. The love of freedom, the sacrifice and martyrdom, the strife and war and discipline; courage, bravery, zeal in battle… that is where I put the essential core of human excellence. And when there is that gender dynamic thrown into the mix, things become very interesting very fast.
I believe bad men dislikes and wants to make life difficult for women. I think evil men wants to destroy women. I think resentful, pathetic men wants to see women fail and hurt, and I think bad women wants the same for men: I think evil, hurt, unhappy or otherwise unhealthy women wants to hurt men – and vice versa. I think resentful, pathetic women wants to destroy and shame men. Bad women and bad men war each-other. I think men and women with spiteful characters strive to divide the genders, sow discord between them. However, I think good women and good men – healthy, God-fearing people – have always loved each other, conspired with each-other, survived with each-other, needed each-other…I think man and woman wants to become strong together in the face of darkness, trial and challenge. I think extreme situations can absolutely corrupt and make vicious the relationship between man and woman – or pressure it into a great, enduring diamond. And none of these realities become ever clearer than they do become in war. It may well bring tears to my eyes, the idea of man and woman, back-to-back, fighting an invading army. In that, there is such profound beauty, and on so many different levels.
For many of them, I feel a kind of love through time and space, and that is not only toward the soldiers and the military commanders. A woman does not have to kill or command others do so, in order for her to win my allegorical heart. Women like Hildegard of Bingen, Christine de Pizan, En’heduanna, Edith Södergran, Anna Świrszczyńska, Edith Stein, ZiviaLubetkin, Mirabai, Lal Ded, Lepa Radic, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, Irena Sendler, Rabia of Basra, Elisabeth Hesselblad, Catherine the Great – I can continue all day long. Some are fierce warriors, some others, poets, nurses, mothers, artists. Even contemporary she-wolves like Valentina Shevchenko and Malala Yousafzai impact my soul to a significant degree. If they can do what they do, what does that tell me of my own capabilities and expectations on myself? If I can harness but a tenth of the courage and integrity of someone like Yousafzai then I am on a good path in life. However, this is not to say that great women in any way are more important than great men – I can, with ease, do a similar list of personal heroes amongst men – but since your question revolved around femininity and women, I want to focus on that.
So, yes. The answer to your question is yes, it has a lot to do with notions of will and freedom.
10. Judging from some of your other releases and your regular posts on the End Commune blog, it occurs to me that existentialism is another topic you love to contemplate upon. How important is this topic mean to you personally and artistically? Why bother writing down all those personal reflections (some of them are serious and others read like random thoughts) on your blog, what’s the purpose behind this? Also to you guys personally, what is the meaning and passion of your life? Is it music? Poetry? Readings? Or films maybe? What do you think of the idea of indulgence and its relationship with the Human nature, especially giving the context of the current global pandemic?
Malkus:Indulgence is gay and bad for human nature. Asceticism is the way to go. My purpose now is to grow in Christ and lift heavier and bigger things until I canphysically wrestle the Nephilim.
Rytterson: Existentialism (in its religious incarnations – fuck the French), to me, is the undeniable metaphysical substrate on which the whole of the human condition rests and from which it sucks its essential nutrience.
With regards to the blogpost entries – I cannot stop writing them down, to tell you the truth. I write and write and hopefully at the end they come about as some sort of coherent literary work. The blog is a diary more than anything else. I don’t really think twice or even care about the idea that anyone is reading it. It would be very humbling if people did, but that just a space I use; a digital note-book. All the various texts found there are interwoven into larger pieces of work. However, 2020 has been a very dry year for me in terms of writing, but it is still an inseparable part of who I am. I have to write, I have done it more or less seriously since at least 2012 – I think I would go insane otherwise, in some way or another. I remember writing death and black metal lyrics many years before I even had the merest thought of being in a band. I remember clearly one of the first I wrote, it was called “Eaters of the Dead” and I was 12 years old, back in 2004.
The purpose behind it is, I guess, to try to make sense of things, to carve myself a path through existence, to catalogue and organize my philosophies, values, ideas and reflections. It is a matter of personal artistic, poetic and spiritual development, and it can be a source of great recreation for me. And to me personally, the question “what is the meaning of life?” is philosophically, intellectually invalid – I am glad you preface it by asking what it is to us personally, instead of inquiring about some intrinsical, fundamental, objective meaning. I think it is a great arrogance of man to extoll that there is in fact something as objective, intrinsic meaning. Meaning-in-itself. I believe in universal human meanings, but no intrinsic Meaning. That is not to say that I deny it or even argue against it – it does not mean that at all. This does not necessarily equal value nihilism in my view, and it does certainly not oppose the concepts and realities of religions and God and all of its mysteries and transcendencies. All I am saying is that only God knows of such things and we should keep our tongues in check – and think twice about it – when going about extolling such grandiose proclamations of ultimate truth. Let us remember that we are human and, as such, painfully limited in our perceptions of the otherworld(s). That being said, I am a fervent believer in Truth. Do not mistake for a second that this is some post-modern Frenchie relativism – it is not. I believe wholeheartedly in Truth and Reality. These things, the way I see them, are not relative. On earth, in the material realm, there is a lot of unshakeable truths governing all of its realities. All I am saying is that no man or woman – no human being – is in any place to propagate moral and metaphysical commandments with a bravado of certainty (yet I hear it all the time). I totally respect believing there is an intrinsic truth beyond the material one, but I need humility when it comes down to knowing about it. Only divine revelation may grant any human being such insight. And I personally think there is a Truth, but we can merely approximate it to the very best of our human cognitive, intellectual and spiritual faculties. In fact, accepting God as reality, to me, is accepting the fact of these limitations. I immediately become suspicious when hearing people talk with such clarity and confidence about what God truly is and what the fundamental meaning of existence truly is. The meaning of my life is to become as powerful, competent and spiritually and physically healthy as is possible – with God, virtue and discipline as stars of guidance in the sky. Music, poetry, knowledge, beauty, exercise, prayer, friendship, love, hard work, discipline… all of these things are but tools in the toolbox, and they are sacred as such – but they are not intrinsical meanings in their own rights. That is my sense of it, at least. Humility afore the Great Mystery and the voluntary exploration and adoration of it – that is the central virtue of mankind, and I guess, as such, it is the closest we can come to the deduction of any kind of fundamental meaning in existence.
11. Alright, have you guys already started working on some future materials? What can we expect from SLUTET and the End Commune in 2021? Also I notice on your bandcamp page there’s one Southern Spruce single scheduled to be released and it seems like a new project, am I correct? Mind sharing some hints about this single as well?
Livrädd: You can expect nothing from Slutet except from the upcoming vinyl releases. There will be a lot of other projects though. I feel the need to compensate for the extremely slow and winding creative process natural for Slutet by just releasing whatever comes to mind, with less pretensions and after-thought than earlier. Southern Spruce is one side-project (not necessarily complying to aforementioned creative process) of them and by the time this is published I suspect that the first single is already released. S. S. is a very personal project based on past escapades. For me, it’s a therapeutic attempt to reconcile with all the fucked up things I and we’ve done in the past. To really suck it in and learn every lesson it has to offer. But also, just for remembrance and reverence of the past.
Rytterson: By the time this interview will be made public, Southern Spruce are in the midst of releasing its debut piece of music – a7” single called “Make Persia Great Again”. This is a quite old project – Southern Spruce splintered off of Slutet in 2015.It is the punkier, more to-the-point material originally written for Slutet but deemed not entirely appropriate to be recorded and released under the original moniker. We briefly started rehearsing this back in 2015 as well, but the rehearsing and writing of “Jihad” put it on ice, and we only revived the project in October 2020. After the debut 7”, a 12” full length LP will follow in the second half of the year. It will be called “Weird Moons Over Uppsala” and it is a testament and homage to our youth, drawing from experiences, life stories and memories from between 2010 and 2016. It is a way for us to say goodbye to our youth and adolescence – hello adulthood. But more on that later.
12. Thanks again for accepting this interview. We really appreciate your time here. Lets end this one with one of our records’ tradition – What are your favorite booze that you might want to recommend to our readers in China? Anyway, our best wishes to your life and looking forward to more materials from the End Commune! Stay safe and take care out there. Cheers!
Malkus:No thank you sir! Makers mark is my favorite Bourbon otherwise 3,5 beers
are great and mandatory Swedish tradition. God bless.
Livrädd: Swedish Vodka “Renat” or “Explorer”, served ice cold.
Rytterson:I do not generally recommend booze but if you have to drink alcohol, then Swedish, Finnish, Polish or Russian vodka is the only worthwhile option. Everything else is FALSE.
On a more serious note, thank you for your interest. Every single new Chinese person exposed to The End Commune is a huge victory in and of itself. China needs The End Commune.
As ferocious surges of sound bursting from the heart of the ancient rainforest, this Brazilian one-man project named Kaatayra has been impressing the underground with his innovative writing styles that transcend genre boundaries. Conceptually focusing on an inward exploration of the primal heartbeats and their conflicts with the modern world, while magically blending the traditional folk elements and electronic music with atmospheric black metal, Kaatayra has proved itself as one of the most unique bands out there that you just have to give it a listen. We had the pleasure to converse with Caio Lemos, the man behind this project, over the band’s discorgraphy and influences, as well as his personal philosophical view regarding nature, traditions, and the pandemic’s impact on them both.
Interviewed by Aymparch
Thanks again for accepting this interview Caio Lemos. How you doing these days and how does the current pandemic situation in Brazil look like? What kind of impact does it create upon your personal life and music?
Caio Lemos: Thanks for the invitation! Well, the situation in Brazil is definitely not good. The first thing that comes to my mind is thoughts ofdisapproval and dissatisfaction with the way Bolsonaro has handled and continues to deal with Pandemic. In my view his actions as the president made situation worse for Brazil. This situation, as in many other countries, is very serious, not only does he disregard his public speeches, but also the federal government did not take effective measures to reduce the impacts. And nowadays he neither encourages vaccination nor talks about its importance, stating things like “Vaccine anyone you want” instead of understanding that this is a matter of public health and responsibility for the lives of others. But I think Bolsonaro is not the only problem that has to be fought. It is as if the pandemic situation benefits who has already power, the system and it courses, the interest of the rich. The problematization of the poor is welcomed by the maintenance of the capitalist logic. Bolsonaro endorses it.
This whole situation and following the political situation in Brazil can drives one crazy. It affects my sanity. A little while ago, I stayed away from news and I haven’t been following closely to be able to rest a little from this melancholy that springs up. I don’t think it’s the ideal attitude, but that’s what I need to do now as personal life is already too much to deal with.
About making music, I would say that everything I feel and think at the moment affects the way I compose and what I write in the lyrics. So, indirectly, this situation affected the composition of the last album, I felt not only the will, but the need to use music to help my spirit feel better.
As an unforeseen tide of cleansing bursting from the mystic sea of trees from Brazilian rainforest, Kaatayra’s first two exceptional full lengths are arguably one of the most exciting discoveries in terms of extreme metal that year. So could you share with us the initial reason you create Kaatayra and the reason of keeping it as an one-man project? What’s the meaning behind the band name “Kaatayra”?
Caio Lemos: I was in a period of life that I was trying to improve my mental and physical health after a difficult period. I sought this by connecting with nature, whatever that means. But, to be more specific: taking walks in the woods, trails to waterfalls, eating better and spending more time next to the green.Today I see that it was a search to find some spiritual meaning in anything that exists. My disbelief, lack of faith and skepticism had already hurt me a lot. But, for a long time I was like this and to be honest still am. But the journey of search was a good thing to do. This movement of meeting with nature, being close to it, is the thing that most makes me feel good in that “spiritual” sense.
Human-animal is a very crazy thing to be, to witness. Sometimes I feel that every day I have small existential crises of not having overcome just the fact of existing, of the universe existing. It is beautiful at times and terrifying at other times. But, it is not frightening when I am alone in the woods, in silence. No music or books, just breathing and thinking what has to be thought. Kaatayra, for the most part, is about these things, so I think it was a way to celebrate nature as I was every connected with it. But, nowadays, I don’t feel the need to always be talking about the natural. I will always let it be spontaneous, that’s why I believe it will always be a project isolated from other people. I want to let it be an honest project coming from my body and mind naturally, without different interferences.
Kaatayra is kind of a made-up word that means “Son / Daughter of The Woods.”
It’s always impressive to see how far certain truly innovative one-man black metal projects can push the existing genre boundaries, and I have to say the first time I finished listening to your debut No Ruidar da Mata que Mirra I was completely amazed by how tight and fresh the riffs and productions sound: 6 tracks capturing the essence of folkish and atmospheric black metal, with fair amount of other elements like progressive rock and techno. It is also the only album that have a rather shorter song length and less consistency in between tracks: at least from my perspective, on your debut, each track seems to represent an angle that’s independent from the others but all of which are dedicated to a central theme——Nature’s roar of anguish and a disdain towards urban life. So how did the writing process of this album look like and was it different from your other releases?
Caio Lemos: I confess that I could not say in detail how was the process of making the first album because it was without expectations or rationalization, so I don’t remember very well. Everything came naturally. I improvised the riffs and recorded only once. I didn’t think much about compositions, structures or any other aspect like that. All other albums also had that attitude. But, I believe that in the first it was even more like this. I didn’t pay attention to the production or capitation of the instruments. I just went with the first way that came up. On the last album I tried my best to mix and master better, I didn’t get exactly what I imagined, but I was satisfied with the result. So that was it, I sat in the chair, in front of the computer and played several riffs. The lyrics were the first thing to be done and the main thing for me at the time. Then I sounded them out in black metal form. The lyrical content is extremely important to me. And until now, all the lyrics were done before the sounds-composition.
One can easily feel the abundant mixture of emotions in No Ruidar… through soul-crushing melodies and small interludes of folk ambience of trance, almost like a dirge written by forests themselves over their longings towards a forgotten past. Why did you choose this theme particularly — a theme that will continue to be your central focus throughout your whole discography? I’m also curious about what kind of bands musicians who influence you and your quite surprising take of techno in the closing track: why use such a “modern” type of soundscape in depicting a song “against urban delusion”?
Caio Lemos: I can’t say any direct influences that I had for this album. I think that everything I heard over time and I liked it stayed with me, in my memories hidden in the unconscious. In the memory. So everything I’ve heard through all my life, inside or outside of metal, has influenced me in some way. But I would shoot that naturally I mimic some Skagos, Alda and Wolves in the Throne Room riffs in this album.
I don’t feel I “choose” a theme and this is a very mysterious thing to me. It couldn’t be different you know? It is what was and is inside me. I couldn’t do any Kaatayra music about anything that is not important to me. It is always about the things that flourishes in my mind and I don’t feel I have control of it.
So if one day I started to wonder a lot about the cosmic existence of Saturn for example, perhaps Kaatayra could be, for a moment, about it. I can’t see that happening but I wouldn’t know for sure.
About the last track to be techno / trance:
I already had a phase of just listening to techno. I have been craved for wanting to study and produce. I read about and watch documentaries. Regarding trance, it was with this style that I had one of the most incredible experiences inside a party that was playing it. I will never forget how it open my minded about music and about how all sounds and noise can in a way or another make music and be part of it
Conceptually I wanted the techno / trance part to represent the urban world. That is why it is so contrasting with what comes before. The acoustic parts and melodic black metal as its main focus. The idea that an electronic part came out of nowhere amused me a lot and it realized my idea.
Let’s talk about your second full length Nascido Sob o Signo Incivilizatório, a release that musically and thematically closer to your latest output Toda História pela Frente: both are one step further from what you’ve achieved from your debut, the track length got even longer while the writing styles got more dense and complicated from time to time. The most noticeable characteristic, in my opinion, is how in these two albums all the tracks connect to each other and respond to your lyrics. Especially in the second track where the music sort of cooling down and flowing towards a repetitive trance of folk tunes, when you singing about how the cleansing fire destroy the modern and upon the ashes of urban civilization the new (or old I should say?) life reborn. So I’m wondering if you finish the lyrics and set the theme for this album first then build musical blocks accordingly and if this is the reason you extend the track length. How does it feel like composing lengthy epic like these? What kind of difference in terms of writing process and emotions between Nascido… and Toda História…and the other two?
Caio Lemos: All lyrics, from all albums, were made before the sounds. I guess in “Fogo! Na Babilônia” and other tracks I was lucky enough to make in a way that the lyrics combine and make feels as a whole. I don’t always make a riff thinking about the connection to that part of the lyric that will be sung. But in several moments, I think this happened by luck.
For example, in the third track of the third album there is a part of the lyrics that there is a call of a “Rejoice!” so is a positive part. And the music goes in a more happy tune. It was a good coincidence, not on purpose, because all the riffs comes in a improvisation way as many of the vocals.
I don’t really think : “I need to make lengthy songs.” I never can say for sure about the process of composing because first, I don’t remember very well about the time that was happening, because is like I’m not really present at the moment of making riffs. I zone out and things flow naturally. It just happens the way it is.
I know that at the moment of making the first and the third album I was in a way better mood than when making the second and fourth. This definitely translate on the music and lyrics. I can say that the writing process have been the same for all albums with different personal life moments and feelings.
6. You did a cover song Preciso me Encontraras a tribute to Candeia and you seem to have a deep passion about Brazilian folk music. How important do those childhood legends mean to you and Kaatayra as a project and how do they connect to the lyrical theme you pursue through your music?
Caio Lemos: I guess to the lyrical theme it doesn’t connect so much and I don’t have a precise reference of any sort.
It is natural that Brazilian folk music permeates my life as it is practically in all surroundings. In the family and friends memories. In celebrations and gathering moments. It is within me, I wanting or not. I have a big respect for Brazilian folk music. It is very rich and with a lot of variations that is connected with the history and culture of Brazil. Each region has it owns manifestations so it is very important to me. To mix with black metal is a magical thing, I can fill two sides of making music that is important to me.
7. Finally we can talk about your third full length and oh boy just how awesome it is: an album made out of pure acoustic folk tracks that sound no less intense and cathartic than your previous materials. Just how did you come up with this idea of recording this album in such a manner? Also for the theme of this album. If the google translation doesn’t botch this time while judging from the album cover, Só Quem Viu o Relâmpago à Sua Direita Sabe seems to narrate a story of enlightenment (the lightening) and a sort of philosophical atavism (abandoning human body/self and returning in the form of eggs). Was my perception correct? Do you mind elaborate a bit more on the theme of this album?
Caio Lemos: Your perception was very cool and creative! Thank your for that. I did not combine the image with the theme of the album in that way you suggested now. But, you are right about the topic.It narrates a story of enlightenment, accepting of death and estrangement about being human. I don’t really know about atavism as I never studied very much about it.
This album was deeply influenced by what I felt, heard and saw in Ayahuasca experiences. So it has this mystical air for me. The lyric of the third track “Só quem viu…” is the most important to me and it kinds of resumes all the feeling of the album.
It almost describes one of my experience with Ayahuasca.
“Who listened the thunder and drank the poison” it is about drinking the tea.
The thunder it was because the music that was playing began with lightnings and it was what kick me in the force of the tea. The enlightenment that this experience made me have is of the Doubt. The realization of having no certain about any spiritual or religious belief. Like god as an Enigma. God has many faces and it depends on the delirium of each individual. My delirium is of a big question mark. And I found it to be beautiful. And I embraced this until this day.
A lot of riffs I make in an acoustic guitar, even for all other albums, because in the acoustic guitar I can hear better all the notes played in a chord for example, compare to playing in a wall of distortion. After so much playing black metal in an acoustic guitar, I started to see the pattern of the blast beat within the sound of tremolo picking in the acoustic strings. I thought that would be great to make the blast beat in a drum along with the sound of the up and down picking.
Acoustic guitars have lovely sounds and when you add reverb you can almost have this synths sounds. It is very pleasant to me. Also, the album couldn’t be with distortion because I was in the awe of the natural word, about the sun, the woods and water in general. I couldn’t translate my feelings using distortion. It had to be on acoustic instruments.
8. To be honest, I always love to associate your music with those writers of Latin American Boom who define and popularize the concept of magical realism: giving the mythical and primevallandscape you manage to evoke through your music and cover arts. So I’m wondering if literature plays a central role in your creation of Kaatayra? If it does, what are some literary inspirations that influence your writings and concept?
Caio Lemos: Only one writer comes to my mind: Manoel de Barros. I love how he makes poetry about poetry and about writing poetry. He seems to see nature with a child eye, in a magical way and write about it. He also plays with the words and deconstruct its meaning and build other-ones as if he brings the aware of the illusion of the words. The emptiness, and the ability that the words have to create phantasms. His writing makes me think what is the real importance of some words and its conception in an essential way? It is funny how sometimes seems like and illusion as the words don’t really grasp reality in its pure form. Besides him I would say there is no literature influence.
9. I read another interview you did with Machine Music in which you include a brief list of local bands (from grindcore to electronic music). So giving your passion about folk and electronic, what kind of Brazilian acts that you think are worth checking out and maybe got overlooked by our foreigners? What are some of those albums you personally enjoy that came out in 2020? Also I always keep wondering if you are behind or in some way relate to the project called Bríi, giving the stunning similarity in aesthetic and writing styles between it and Kaatayra.
Caio Lemos: Probably my favorite Brazilian act is Deaf Kids. But I think they are quite known outside Brazil already. Rakta is also a very good band that is affiliate with Deaf Kids.
About 2020 releases I liked a lot of “Bom Mesmo é Estar Debaixo d´Água” of Luedji Luna. It is so well played and crafted with a lot of memorable vocal melodies (editor’s note: this album is freaking amazing, go watch it in full from start to finish, you won’t regret it). It was probably the album I listened the most along with “Histórias da Minha Área” by the rapper Djonga.
Yes, Bríi is another project of mine which I felt the necessity to work other kind of words and feelings. For me it is very different from Kaatayra, almost as I have to reach another mind of personality. I was very much into Terror/Horror movies by the time of making the Bríi album.
10. Alright, what lies in the future for Kaatayra in 2021? Will we witness another two full lengths like you did in previous years? Also giving the current global pandemic, how do you perceive it from the perspective of Kaatayra? Does it represent some sort of punishment, a “Babylonian Fire”, that the nature unleashed unto modern human society? How does the pandemic impact the rainforests and those aboriginal groups who reside in them? Will Kaatayra explore this theme in future?
Caio Lemos: I don’t know what will happen about Kaatayra in 2021. I know now that I’m working on a new album and it has been a very different process of making these new songs. I guess it is more experimental and I have been influenced by minimalistic Music of Steve Reich, Arvo part, Philip Glass and others. It is the first album that I’m trying to “construct” the songs. Very different of the improvisational aspect of the others album.
I can’t see the pandemic situation as a punishment and not a “Babylonian Fire”. I write about the fall of humanity and civilization but in my heart I want the best of it. I want a better world and the joy and peaceful of everyone, but here I am talking in dreamy way, because in a real sense I am very pessimistic. We all know that the world doesn’t work like this and if I would guess it never will.Sometimes I try to have hope, what could we do if not having hope of a better future?
I don’t really know about epidemiology but it was a consequence of human actions as almost everything of this kind I Guess? Don’t know if it could be prevented. There is not a real notion of how CoronaVirus is affecting Aboriginal groups, the extension of it. But it is affecting. I guess there is distant tribes that we can’t really know if are being affected or if it has a problematic situation what makes difficult for these places have the support it needs. Once again, the Brazilian State had contributed to the spread of this virus and it was mislead actions of land grabbers that wants indigenous land that probably influenced and spreading virus, a long with the contact of city people in these tribes. With pandemic or don’t, in my view there is a systematic genocide of indigenous people which exists about hundreds of years, now wouldn’t be different.
11. Thanks again for accepting this interview. Lets end this one with one of our records’ tradition – What are your favorite booze that you might want to recommend to our readers in China? Anyways, our best wishes to your life and looking forward to more materials from Kaatayra! Stay safe and take care out there. Cheers!
Caio Lemos: Thank you very much for the invitation! I’m not the biggest drink connoisseur but I would recommend beer, wine and lots of water!Best wishes to you all, all the readers and all the loved ones. Stay safe!
Arguably as one of the most prolific acts among today’s vast flood of raw black metal projects, KOMMODUS stands out with the combination of traditional-based, less-polished, yet often times mesmerizing and innovative songwriting styles, with his unique aesthetic of Roman paganism. In celebrating the well-acclaimed release of his debut S/T full length, Dienysian Records had the honor to conduct a thorough and in-depth conversation with the man behind this project, Lepidus Plague, over his entire discography, symbols of Roman paganism and their significance in his music, concept of war and ancestry, as well as his obsession with Yukio Mishima.
Interviewed by AymParch
AP: Greetings Lepidus Plague and thanks for accepting this interview. First of all, how you doing these days? Already started working on some new materials? And how is the Covid situation here in Australia?
Lepidus Plague: Thank you for the interview. I’m doing okay, the state I live in luckily didn’t get too rattled by COVID. Other states were in severe lock-down but it appears things are lightening up now.
I’m currently finishing off two splits, a shared 12” with Pan Amerikan Native Front, and a shared 7” with Burier.
AP: KOMMODUS is arguably one of those new bands who kept stirring the underground with a constant influx of brilliancy in terms of music quality, while after your recent debut full length, the reputation officially exceeded the underground and we’ve seen many “mainstream media” began to talk about this project in their year-end list. So how do you digest this “achievement” so far? Something you’ve been yearning for or a little bit hard to swallow?
LP: I don’t think there’s any more coverage than usual? There have been a few more mentions on end of year lists however, but there’s been a few publications covering Kommodus since the beginning. I don’t think of my releases as achievements, just capsules in time. If the music speaks to the individual and they enjoy it, then I am happy.
AP: In terms of names and concept, KOMMODUS surely processes some unique characteristics in black metal: if I’m not mistaken, the name of the project comes from the Roman emperor Commodus who was famous for his personality cult and working as a gladiator in the Colosseum, while your stage name comes from Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, why did you choose these names? Especially from my research, the representations of Lepidus in history were often quite negative compared to the achievements of Commodus. On the other hand, for your lyrical theme, Roman paganism/heritage is definitely not a hotcake theme in black metal today, especially outside Italy, so how did your passion for Roman paganism/heritage build up and why bother creating a project solely dedicated to this theme? Also I wonder if you are aware of Italy’s B.M.I.A. (Spite Extreme Wings, Janvus, etc.) and other projects associated with this circle, in terms of similarities in themes and aesthetics they are the only bands I could think of when it comes to your works.
LP: Yes, correct, the name is taken from Commodus – the tyrant emperor. Ultimately fitting for a black metal project. As for Lepidus, there’s no real reason, just a name that seemed attractive. I would also argue Commodus has a much more negative legacy than Marcus Lepidus. Commodus was megalomaniacal, antagonistic, and completely unfit to rule Rome which is why he was assassinated.
My passion for Roman paganism and heritage is rooted in creating art unique to me. I’m not Scandinavian, so singing about Norse mythology, which nearly all black metal bands from Scandinavia do, would be contrived and insincere. But I love the idea of imbuing the music with ancestral energy, which is a vein running in the genre since its genesis. There also seems to be an increasingly prevalent trend now in black metal with more indigenous projects popping up, which I think is great. New artists putting a more personal and unique spin on things.
My Nonno is a World War Two veteran who fought for the Australian army in the Solomon Islands. When I was little, I would spend time at the family home and admire his war collection as well as the statues of Romulus and Remus and his collection of other roman trinkets. My father continued the legacy collecting militaria and raised me on war films, as well encouraging me to read and watch anything ancient history based. So, I guess the inception of this project both Roman-centric cultivating a militaristic aesthetic can both be traced back to my childhood.
I am aware of those bands but only through other people mentioning them to me. I haven’t listened.
AP: Let’s talk about your first demo, even though it’s more or less just a crude demonstration of your vision, one cannot deny certain potential do exists: the productions could be the rawest among your entire discography, while the riffs are some decent execution of balance between old-school rhythm of primitivism and bleak and sometime repetitive melodies. Despite the rather poor productions, one can’t help but notice the prominence of bass in this one, sometime a track is even bass-driven in terms of riffs — a trait that will continue to prevail in your later releases. So what were the backstories behind this release and what are some of those projects (not necessarily black metal) that influenced or motivated you to write in this style? This release also marked another theme you constantly explored in KOMMODUS: something close to Lycanthropy, an affirmation of self towards the line of the wolves (sometimes in the metaphors of other canines like the track Rottweiler in your latest split w/ Valac) — recalling the origin story of Rome. Do you mind elaborating upon this idea a little more? What are some symbolic significances this idea of being a wolf-born possesses?
LP: The first demo was just that, my first demo. I had no idea what I was doing so of course it was crude and rudimentary. Although it’s only been 4 years, I feel I’ve grown a lot, and my playing, understanding of things, has developed much more. I borrowed all the gear used for that first release as I didn’t own much at the time, and I see that early material as just raw catharsis for the internal strife I was dealing with at the time. Newer material is much more aspirational and about overcoming personal adversary rather than succumbing. As for having bass as a focal instrument, this is maybe because I began playing music as a bass player and thus have always loved hearing interesting bass lines. I’m influenced by plenty of music, all types of metal, punk, hardcore, jazz, psychedelic, garage, the list goes on. I believe it all seeps in somehow.
The wolf is central to the creation myth of Rome, as the mother wolf Lupa nursed the infant Romulus and Remus, so the legend goes. Thus, delving into wolf-centric themes and extrapolating on them makes sense to me. Rottweilers are the descendants of the dogs that would guard Roman camps and accompany them into battle. Further lupine-related ideas and themes are strewn throughout Roman antiquity. For instance, there was the festival Lupercalia which was like a proto-Valentine’s day, fertility festival. The Lupercal was the alleged cave that the mother wolf Lupa fed Romulus and Remus. Young Roman men would allegedly dress in animal pelts in this legendary place, assuming the role of Lupercai (wolf men) then parade in the streets jeering and whipping at the young women they found attractive (I think this was mostly an innocuous performance, though I could be wrong). There’s also less specific inspiration like Roman soldiers wearing wolf pelts on the colder frontiers, etc. All of this to me ties into the werewolf, lupine ancestry, lycanthropic idea and aesthetic.
AP: Second and Third demo, romanticized past, zeitgeist of the present, For me personally, it was with your second and third demo that KOMMODUS’ unique style and aesthetic of a triumphant primitivism got matured both musically and thematically, I really enjoy the sort of minimalistic approach towards riffs in these two releases: the songs are no doubt well-written but simple and straight-forward: in the sense of both being memorable and stuck in listener’s head while still sounding fresh — setting KOMMODUS apart from the vast majority of mediocre “raw black metal projects”. How did your writing styles develop through those two releases? Also according to your statement on bandcamp, thematically these two also share some similarities: both serving as a call for returning to the primordial romanticized past and unleashing a resentment towards the zeitgeist of present, what does the idea of “past” and “primitivism” meant to you and why it keeps drawing you towards its glory? This sort of “atavistic” yearning (in the philosophical sense) can also be seen in some of your other releases as well, like the first track in the split you did with Grógaldr about Lupercalian rites, mind if you elaborating this one as well? Also, what do you think of the current global lockdown and pandemic crisis and its relation with human nature, or “the zeitgeist of present”?
LP: The writing styles developed naturally as I spent more time composing the songs and spent longer on recording and mixing. I also think my natural or inherent approach to song -writing became clearer, Kommodus compositions are pretty straight-forward and conventional which is different to a lot of black metal which rejects traditional song-writing conventions and focuses instead on atmosphere and mood. I don’t have strong views on this either way, I just write the music that comes naturally to me.
This romanticism of the past I suppose is an energy I attempt to imbue within the art with ancient feeling, which of course makes sense if your music is centred around Roman antiquity. That dialogue or yearning is extreme in order to reflect the Kommodus world and fantasy.
The global crisis has been hard on all of us and brought out the best and worst in people. It’s definitely made the present a very dangerous and uncertain time.
AP: I don’t know about the rest of the world, but in China at least (thanks to Goatowarex, praise Dani!), KOMMODUS as a project only really got a vast attentions among Chinese underground scene after the release of your fourth demo — a strange one in terms of concept and theme and the only one of your releases that doesn’t directly deal with Roman paganism/heritage — instead it serves a loyal homage towards the legend Mishima Yukio: as far as I know who would only get referenced among certain Japanese underground bands, which is why this idea of an Australian-based black metal band who used to sing about roman gods and wars suddenly praises this East Asian legend full of charisma sounds strange and interesting. Even though you have said a little about this on your bandcamp page, why did you choose this topic and how did Mishima and his works inspire you and KOMMODUS? Do you see any parallels between his political and philosophical vision and your Roman past, especially in terms of “discipline”?
LP: I spent three years of my childhood in Tokyo with my family for my father’s work, I could read and write Japanese before I could English. And following on from this experience I’ve always been obsessed with Japanese culture, history and art. This naturally led to me eventually reading the esteemed authors of the country. First and foremost, I am completely enamoured with Mishima’s novels. I was reading them during a particularly terrible time in my life and it was a reprieve to be sucked into his mad creative world. In regards to parallels, I emphasised the martial elements and ideas of samurai / imperial lineage to make the art more congruous with the prior established themes and aesthetic of Kommodus.
I’m not interested in his politics in a personal sense and it seems through reading the two main biographies by Stokes and Nathan, a lot of the more extreme elements of Mishima’s actions and personality cult were multi-faceted and arguably performative. He was a lifelong contrarian, rife with hypocrisies and idiosyncrasies. Ostensibly militaristic but avoided World War 2 conscription, obsessed with portraying a hyper masculine aesthetic but also extremely fragile and openly homosexual, nationalistic but obsessed with the west and European antiquity, could speak fluent English and French.
This ambivalence and duplicity was thoroughly ingrained in his psyche. He regarded his emperor worship as the enemy of ‘any totalitarian system on the left or the right’, so his personal politics, I believe, were not at all black and white. His suicide was planned over a year in advance and it would appear his final day was a very considered and dramatic pre-text in order to commit Hara-kiri alongside his lover Morita. A quote that stood out to me when reading Nathan was that Mishima’s attempted coup was ‘conceived by Mishima as merely formal. A gesture without meaning or value in the logic of the warrior, unless it was ratified by seppuku.’ Meaning Mishima always knew his actions would fail, he always planned to die, even ensuring all his work were completed and his affairs in order before the final day. This desire to die violently and be a martyr was metastasising within him since early on which can be seen in many of his novels, and other areas such as his obsession with Saint Sebastian. What I’m trying to clarify here is that Mishima is a very difficult figure to put a finger on, but I believe this is what’s made him such an interesting, charismatic artist which has drawn in people like myself, and many others to want to explore. He even stressed to biographer Stokes that the Tatenokai (his militia) was ‘non-ideological and romantic’ and that instead he wanted to inspire people with a sense of national pride. He was also caustic towards the conservative politicians that revered him. Though of course you could argue this stuff all day. But yes, like I said, you can’t put him in a box. He was a true individual and an artist that transcends labels which is why he’s appreciated by people of all walks of life. I’d recommend the Paul Schrader film to anyone interested.
The other element of Mishima that has inspired me immensely is what you mentioned, his discipline. His body of work was so vast, and he was accomplished in so many fields. Literature, theatre, body-building, acting, the list goes on. Ultimately the idea of discipline was the driving force behind my release. To inspire the listener to try and summon even some of that positive monastic drive and devotion in their chosen paths, whatever they may be.
The parallels I’d draw are simple ones. Overcoming weakness in-self, glorifying an ancient past and lineage, and carving out your own path.
AP: The image of Lupine is another central component in your depiction of ancestral heritage. Even I’ve done some researches myself, I figure it’d be better to let you reveal what’s its significance to you and in Roman mythology instead. This idea of floral symbolism also can be seen in that Sabbat cover track you did in the fourth demo, was it intentional and why did you choose that specific track？
LP: I feel like I discussed the link between lupine and roman-mythology in question 4.
I chose that particular Sabbat track because I thought it was strong and a bit of a deeper cut in their discography. Floral imagery is a recurring theme within Mishima’s writing and art as well, so the cover seemed fitting.
AP: The concept of wars, no matter it’s a hard-fought triumph or an unfortunate loss, is probably the most-frequently-occurred theme in your lyrics. You’ve talked about the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, Roman conquest of the Carpathians, the Hadrian Wall, and the Battle of Asculum, and judging from your lyrics you surely did some researches and the dedications are heartfelt. What does war in general mean to you and how is it related to your perception of Roman heritage? What kind of symbolic meaning these real events possess from your perspective, when it comes to a more metaphysical understanding of war, i.e. the Inner War you referred to on the bandcamp page of your debut S/T?
LP: I think like most people I would say, ‘war is hell’. Obviously Roman battles and the empire is going to be crucial to the themes of extreme black metal music though. This is my art, my fantasy, something akin to how Immortal describe ‘Blashyrkh’. That’s their Scandinavian battle-filled demon-dwelling realm, my realm is a reimagined werewolf Roman one. Screaming my head off about how great ancient Roman aqueducts were, or the silver ratio in coins during the reign of a specific emperor just wouldn’t fit. In the same way you wouldn’t find Amon Amarth writing songs about how great Viking farming practices were, or the novelty of their bone hairbrushes.
Touching on the metaphysical thing, I think it’s interesting to think of these hardships our ancestors faced on all sides and from all cultures and try to summon that same ferocity, power and aspiration in our chosen contemporary paths.
AP: So we are finally here, your debut full length, none of those fancy pedantic titles nor pretentious trendy songwritings, only what has been defining KOMMODOUS remains and prevails: the slow-paced old-school riffs of primitive militancy and those juicy piercing melodies, interludes of acoustic guitar and trumpet as the ancient sea wind blowing over the shore of Rome, and your lycan howls of anguish echoing throughout the album — what a great release it is. Thematically it’s like a culmination of all of your previous themes together and it fits the music perfectly. What’s the back stories behind this release and why did you decide to record a full length eventually? Also it’s the only time (excluding the splits) that the cover art was not handled by you personally, instead it’s done by the legend Wrest himself — I gotta say it captures KOMMODUS’ essence and this album’s imagery perfectly. How did the collaboration come out and why did you make the decision to let someone else do the cover for you? What are some meanings underlying this brilliant picture?
LP: There’s no real back story to the album. I just thought it was time to craft a longer release. Obviously, it’s a double album which some people liked and some didn’t, but I guess this extended length also helped set it apart from its demo predecessors. I spent longer making it than any prior release which is to be expected, used better gear, although at the same time it was kind of unconsidered and natural in a way. It evolved of its own volition. Looking back on it there’s plenty I’d change but such is the nature of creating anything.
Leviathan’s ‘Scar-Sighted’ got me through some difficult shit, so I have immense respect for Wrest, the prolific artist that he is. I wanted this release to stand out from the others so naturally having an independent party create the artwork furthered realizing this goal. There are no underlying meanings. I mean it’s a pretty blatant image not some esoteric strange visual, so I can’t imagine the art lending itself to multiple readings. Just an attempt to capture the sort of scenes imagined in my songs.
AP: Let’s talk a little bit about other collaborations you did with KOMMODUS. It occurred to me that even though Magnus T.R.J and Count Hoggeth Palmeri (A.H) are often credited as the performers of drum and trumpet respectively, KOMMODUS still remains as an one-man project: why didn’t just incorporate them into a full lineup giving they have pretty much been an important part of KOMMODUS’ career from the first demo till this day. Also you have done two splits so far, both are with fellow comrades under the banner of Goatowarex, how were those splits arranged at the first place, did you have certain mutual recognition, also if those tracks were created solely for the split musically and thematically or just some left over materials from previous recording sections? I also noticed that Valac did some guest vocals in your debut full length while Kurator of War (PANF) sang in your split with Valac as well, it’s interesting to see that Goatowarex announced you and PANF will have another split in 2021. Do you mind sharing some details of those said collaborations and the contents of that split with PANF?
LP: They aren’t incorporated because they are simply friends doing me favours. Kommodus is my multi-faceted personal vision and journey alone.
Dani from Goatowarex was more instrumental in linking Grogaldr and myself together for the first split, though of course there was mutual respect and recognition existing. Valac and I had been close friends and talking for a while before we decided to do a split together. When I heard PANF I fell in love with the music and themes. I have been vocal through Kommodus in supporting and funding Australian indigenous groups, and I think him seeing this, as well as my purchasing of his records is how we first got in contact. We quickly became friends with a lot in common. Talks of a split naturally followed. All my material is recorded for its intended release. I don’t really sit on anything or have leftovers. As for having friends include additional vocals, I’ve talked about this before in an interview, I just always liked the idea of including your tribe of conspirators on releases.
AP: Alright, what’s lay in the future for KOMMODUS this year? Aside from the aforementioned split, have you already got some other materials in pocket, a demo or maybe an ep?
LP: The two splits mentioned prior and that’s about it. Lately I have been laying off from making any concrete plans and just seeing instead where inspiration leads me.
AP: Thanks again for accepting this interview. We really appreciate your time here. Lets end this one with one of our records’ tradition – What are your favorite booze that you might want to recommend to our readers in China? Anyway, our best wishes to your life and looking forward to more materials from KOMMODUS! Stay safe and take care out there. Cheers!
LP: I don’t have any interesting recommendations. It’s the middle of a particularly hot summer here so it’s been beer time.
Mostly known among fans outside of Poland as the live bassist for the phenomenal Mgła, The Fall (fka Shellshocked) as a mutli-instrumentalist has had a rather prolific career with his various musical outputs among the Polish undergound scene. From pure malevolent schizophrenic madness to melodic triumph and melancholy of nature, sometimes even strikes with nasty attitudes of street punks, his executions of Black Metal and its subgenres has constantly been proven as exceptional, despite to some degrees got overshadowed by his role as Mgła‘s live member. In light of the release of Hadal, the latest full length of his solo project Over the Voids…, it’s an honor of us as we had a great conversation with him over the making of this particular album, other projects he participates in (including Medico Peste and Owls Woods Graves), together with his musical/literary influences and Krakow scene as a whole.
Interviewed by Aymparch
Aymparch: Greetings The Fall! Thanks again for accepting this interview. We hope you are doing fine during this global pandemic. How’s the current situation in Poland? How did the covid-19 crisis impact you as a musician and your local scene? Has everything started to get better?
The Fall: Today is ninth August and situation is actually getting worst during last days. We are still allowed to make some smaller shows under specific regulations, but the Autumn doesn’t seem to be drawn in bright colors.
It impacted us a lot, we had to stop tour with Mgła and abruptly return from Colombia to Poland which was quite a journey. We also had to postpone basically all our shows in 2020.
AP. Despite the forced-cancelling and postponing of shows and festivals, Black Metal, especially Polish BM, has been offering huge amount of awesome releases this year (as always), including two projects you participated in: Medico Peste’s ב: The Black Bile and Over the Voids…’s second full length Hadal. The former has been released for a while and the general receptions from fans are mostly positive. How do you feel about this album personally? Are you satisfied with the results?
The Fall: I’m not sure If I want to talk about it in details. Over the Voids… is a therapeutical band to me, it exists only because I want to throw something out of me. Watching the release and focusing on it for me is like watching a video of me puking and crying at the very same time. Not the biggest pleasure one can imagine.
AP. Since you guys’ 2017 ep Herzogian Darkness, MP’s music has been under gradual changes and has shifted to a soundscape that resembles pure hypnotic and schizophrenia evil. In my opinion, Black Bile provides an experience and atmosphere that requires a holistic listen: this almost film-ish feeling was conjured by the intertwining of aggressive, furious dissonances and many slower and even psychedelic passages. How did you guys work through this album, were every material written with a clear plot that serves to the whole album’s theme? Also, did the collaboration with Inside Flesh contribute to the songwriting process?
The Fall: No, cooperation with IF was only focused on image and video. Black Bile was being written and recorded quite slowly. The vision of how it should be like was clear from very beginning but it took us time to find proper means for that. We very much focused on the vocals arrangement and recording, took us over 24 hours of constant studio work to record vocal itself.
AP. Among all those projects you are a part of, Over the Voids… is no doubt my personal favorite. I will never forget how the main riff from Ghosts Lay Eggs amazed me when it came out, absolutely brilliant and fresh songwriting, and I’m still mesmerized every time revisiting that album. Both musically and lyrically, OTV set itself apart from your other projects with a rather epic and poetic approach. Since it’s your one-man project, I’m assuming the contents created under OTV is much more personal and self-reflexive, is that correct? What’s your initial motivation when started this project?
The Fall: Thank you. Yes, it is a personal thing. My internal motivation is fear of death and that’s what all the OtV is about. My musical motivation is my deep sentiment to music I was listening to when I was younger – mid 90s black metal, dungeon synth and acoustic folk. There is a lot of small cassette shop nostalgia and teenage anger in OtV.
AP. The lyrical theme of OtV’s debut intrigues me a lot. I’d even venture to say that those are some of the best English texts ever written in Black Metal. There’re some lines indicating the same nihilist philosophy that’s prominent in Mgła’s songs, while others almost have a folktale vibe (like in Ghosts Lay Eggs and Prophet of the Winter) and often times concerning “the Dreams of Death/Nothingness”. You also included a Latin hymn in the last song, was it an excerpt from certain church sermons? And generally speaking, what did you try to archive or portrait through this album lyrically? Are there any authors or real life events that inspired you to do so?
The Fall: The Latin part is a quote from the Bible : “Never again will they hunger, and never will they thirst; nor will the sun beat down upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd.” Except one word was change to add a different meaning for that. You are a clever guy so I bet you can guess which word was that.
I was always deeply inspired by the folk and mythology, I have been studying comparative religion for some time and that was one of my main interest. Speaking of philosophical element I think OtV is more existential than nihilist, but that is just my perspective. Bruno Schulz is the writer that inspires me most, but I’m not sure if this is clearly visible in OtV.
AP. OtV’s second full length titled Hadal will soon to be released via Nordvis Produktion this August. The initial meaning of the title “Hadal”, if Google’s info is correct, stands for the realm of Hades — the Greek underworld. However, judging from the song titles listed on Metal Archives and the first impression of the premiere track Corridors inside a glacier, this album doesn’t quite seem to me as trying to depict or worship the unfathomable nature of Hell. Comparing to the last album, the premiere track has a rather more ethereal and misty productions: the riffs and melodies seem to shift towards a more atmosphere-centered approach, while the music video seems to concentrate upon the withering of nature. So can you share some insights regarding the theme of this album and its writing process? Was its concept responsible for those changes of sound and productions in general?
The Fall: Hadal doesn’t refer directly to Hades. It is a term to describe the deepest depth of the sea, dark trenches where there is barely any light and life, and that what the album is about. Humanity still know about surface of Mars than places like Marianna’s Trench. Ocean floor is soundless, dark and mysterious. Not deprived of life forms, but can you imagine animals that live there?
AP. It seems to me that “Owls” is one reoccurring imagery in your music: it appears in OtV’s debut’s lyrics, while it’s also one prominent element of the paranormal tales conjured in your another project Owls Woods Graves. I’m curious about if there’re any symbolic meanings behind your usages of Owls in your music, how does it relate to each project’s theme and concept?
The Fall:It is kind of coincidence. I was once in Finland in Turku castle. Somewhere on a wall there was this weird sentence taken from some old Finnish poet. Something like “and then they slept in owlets eyes” intrigued me very much and was an impulse for some lyrics on the album. I still have no idea what was it about.
Or maybe I had too much Twin Peaks as a teenager?
AP. Owls Woods Graves definitely stands out from the rest of your projects, or even from Polish black metal in general: the punk elements are extremely dominant in this project, especially in its debut full length released last year: from some juicy hardcore riffs to some classic punk-ish choirs (like in Do you deny the evil? and Butcher’s Tears), meanwhile all of these are pretty balanced with some freezing and sometimes melancholic Black Metal melodies. So why do you guys choose this specific approach? Concerning Medico Peste also did a cover of Bauhaus’ Stigmata Martyr in your last ep, what are some other acts outside of Black Metal that influenced you as a musician? Also, can you recommend some Polish punk/hardcore to our readers?
The Fall: I don‘t know why, we just wanted to play stuff we like. Most of music that influences me is not black metal, and not even metal. Coil, William Basinski, Prurient are huge influence on me. During last year I listened to a lot of bands like Choir Boy and Black Marble, which I really like. Still – black metal music is my grammar and my main language.
From polish punk music I would definitely recommend Siekiera, Smar SW, Post Regiment, Armia (album Legenda), Trupia Czaszka, Castet…. Quite a lot of stuff.
AP. If my researches were correct, the speaking fragment using in the beginning of This Spirit Follows Me Till the End of My Journey was taken from Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles, which is quite surprising. I’ve always been fascinated by the literary world of obscure imagination created in the works of authors like Schulz and Kafka (and Polish Nobel Prize Winners Szymborska and Tokarczuk). So which part of the book does that excerpt came from? Does literature (or Polish literature) serve as one primal inspiration for your music and lyrics in Over the Voids… and Owls Woods Graves? *On a side note, some of my friends told me about Leśmian during a conversation about Polish literatures, I’m wondering if you have read or been inspired by his works (its quite annoying this there are not many good translations of his poems in English).
The Fall: Bruno Schulz is my favorite polish writer. I honestly never read anything that was as immersive and well written in polish language. There is really good translation by Madelline Levine if you want to read it in English. The intro refers to a scene, where an older dude is breeding exotic birds in his attic. It describes those birds are weird, evil and soulless looking. Like something on the brink of living and dead.
Of course I know Leśmian, but not my favourite author. I never asked Nihil about it, but I’m pretty sure he was some inspiration for Furia’s lyrics. They have very similar vibe sometimes.
“They were immense bunches of feathers stuffed any which way like an old carcass. It was impossible to discern the head on many of them since this cudgel-shaped part of the body bore no signs of a soul.” – The aforementioned quote from Schulz’s Noc Wielkiego Sezonu, Translated from Polish by Madeline G. Levine in 2018.
AP. Well let’s talk about Krakow’s underground scene. It seems like the artists over there always stick together and frequently collaborate and experiment with all sorts of genres. Aside from these three projects discussed in this interview, you have been participated as session or live musician in many other great projects, like Mgła, Odraza, W~T~Z, and even did the drum in Armagedda’s latest full length (how did that happen though, really amazing). So how does collaborating with other projects influence you as a musician? And what do you think of Krakow’s underground scene in general?
The Fall: I really like living here, but I’m originally from much smaller and calmer city. Kraków has this sort of old European city vibe, like Prague or Budapest. Cracked, grey walls, squeaky doors and labyrinths of old, forgotten yards that look abandoned since 50s. Black metal scene here is very interesting, and I like it from some small deceased bands I remember from highschool to a giant of Mgła. Feels good to be a part of this.
AP. It occurs to me (correct me if I’m wrong) after Furia’s last two albums there have been increasing numbers of Polish bands using Polish languages for their music, while all of your current projects still focusing on English. Is there any preference? Why not use your mother tongue instead?
The Fall: Good question. And I don‘t think there is this one, simple answer. Polish is not that very melodic, sentences and words are quite long and they don‘t have this simple, drummy groove like English. Also – I grew up listening to English singing bands, so it feels natural for me. I would honestly love to record in polish but it would be really hard for me.
AP. As an end note and a tradition of our fanzine, can you tell our readers your favorite alcohol? Again, thanks for your time and patience for accepting this interview, please stay safe and healthy out there. Are there anything you wanna say to our Chinese readers?
The Fall:Beer is my drink of choice. If I have to drink one before going to sleep I would choose sort of hazy IPA beer, If I have to drink for a party I would go for some cheap lager beer. When in Poland – definitely Łomża jasne pełne.
Really hope to visit China one day. Stay safe guys wherever you are.
To honor the battle cries and ancestors’ blood that still boil in contemporary Native Americans’ veins, Chicago-based Pan-Amerikan Native Front aim to push the boundary of extreme music by infusing elements of indignious spirits and histories of Native Americans’ struggles with classic Black Death violence. It’s our great pleasure to have this realy in-depth conversation with the mastermind behind this project, Kurator of War, in disucssing PANF’s music and writing processes, as well as the necessity for Native Americans today to remember their ancestors’ legacy and sacrifice.
Interviewed by Aymparch
Aymparch: Greetings Kurator of War! I hope you are doing well my friend. It’s our pleasure that you agreed to take this interview. Right before we started, why not do a short intro for our Chinese underground readers: how would you describe PANF as a project to someone has no knowledge regarding to it?
Kurator of War: The pleasure is mine my friend! In short, Pan-Amerikan Native Front is total native black metal warfare! The project is a story, a teaching, much like the oral tradition carried through generations. The story is an attempt to give breath and vigor to the indigenous experiences and history through the sounds of black metal. War and battles are a major focus because of their historical significance; the music can be aggressive, ugly, battering, militant, faint, melodic… the musical style compliments the real experiences felt and lived through blood and battle, but also through trauma and lament.The story and music comes from the heart, and as such a voice to the ancestors.
AP: Personally the first time I heard about this project was when RedRiverFamily announced the first few rounds of bands for 2017’s RRFF – the name and logo of PANF instantly caught my attention, as its always thrilled to see new black metal bands sharing Native American origins: the usage of Cherokee syllabary and the obvious symbolism of Thunderbird in your logo, can you share with us some of your intentions in making the name/logo for PANF? Also according to MA, the Thunderbird logo was inspired by the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, why did you choose this particular design, any personal reasons?
KoW: The very mention of that fest brings lots of nostalgia for me! The project is founded on a vision I developed when I was young. When I was about 17 years old, I reflected deeply on identity and the current state of indigenous space, voice and existence. I knew indigenous folk across all of North America shared a similar identity and history, and in a similar vein the people of South America as well. In a sense, we are one. This is why I named the project “Pan-Amerikan.”
The same goes for the graphic logo, the intent is twofold. The story and symbolism of the thunderbird was common across long distances from the Pacific Northwest to the Great Lakes region in the United States. Plus it intersected effectively within black metal, consider how widely used eagles are in black metal culture. There are many design styles of the thunderbird, but I thought the one depicted by the 45th infantry division held a special significance. To me, this meant a recognizable native symbol made its way to Europe to fight in the biggest war in history. Plus it offers a teaching moment, a curious mind may dive into the history of the 45th Infantry Division and learn more about their selection of the symbol as their insignia.
AP: Lets talk about your first and only release so far – Tecumseh’s War. For me this is not an album that sounds “particularly innovative”, but as an honest tribute to the dirty and straightforward black metal echoing from late 80s/early 90s, old school, aggressive, blending death metal and sometimes punkish vibes, with few triumphant melodies passages lurking underneath – I absolutely enjoy this record. So I’m curious to know your musical influences prior to start PANF as a project, and what is your mindset when composing this album: in other word, were you deliberately trying to shape a unique sound for PANF? One may argue that this album doesn’t sound like “Native American” as comparing to those arts of Black Twilight Circle and many others with similar themes, who often incorporate indigenous folkish and tribal elements into the music.
KoW:During the songwriting process, I had full intention to construct the album like a book, to storytell. The historical content is chronological, the album starts with a preview of the urgency to fight back and assert indigenous sovereignty in Indigenous Blood Revival. On a sidenote, Indigenous Blood Revival is the only song on the album that does not reference Tecumseh’s War, this was also the first song I wrote for the album. That song was meant to be larger than the album itself, as the first song it sets the tone for the entirety of the PANF discography. Tecumseh’s War ends with the death of the great leader Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames.
In the early stages of the album, I really wanted to anchor the sound with the mid-paced thirds blasts popularized by bands like Archgoat, or normal mid-paced blasting to capture a dragging war intensity, militant if you will. And riffing with dark, furious tones, but also of other expressions–frustration, hope, uncertainty. That anchor is what you hear when Indigenous Blood Revival vocals kick in, or much of the drumming in Raising the War Club. I really enjoy the intensity of the War Metal or Black/Death sound, I modified it to make it sound less death and more black. I developed a wide range of riffing styles. Whether it was the fast-melodic picking of Raising the War Club or the strung out power chords of Tenskwatawa, the sound I was trying to anchor in the early stages expanded to include a variety of styles and emotional expressions. Other sounds include the dizzying and maddening atonal blasts of Anti-Expansionist Diplomacy or the melodic depth of sweat and blood during the second half of Battle of the Thames. Believe me, I thought a lot about wanting to include Native musical elements, in the end I decided to focus on the black metal aesthetic and less on trying to incorporate indigenous sounds. Instead, I added these cultural sounds in other subtle ways. Writing that album was like giving birth for the first time. I carried that baby to term and once it came out I was completely exhausted, I think I had to put music down for at least 2-3 months.
AP: The Cover art of Tecumseh’s War for me did a lot in capturing the atmosphere of this record, as well as some of the arts you put on Facebook and Bandcamp page – depicting wars from the perspective of Native Tribes and honoring the forefathers’ military triumphs (and defeats maybe). Tell us more about the reason why you chose these arts and aesthetics and how they associated with PANF’s music.
KoW: Cohesion was a critical component for PANF in creating a powerful and effective message and theme. I try to be as well-rounded as possible and reinforce the focus of the project, hit it with the logo, lyrics, images, art, delivery, the Kurator of War appearance as well. These images capture each thematic element in the name PANF. We’re talking about war here, Tecumseh’s War, Let’s see the indigenous fighters who battled courageously, this means all involved, the Lenape, Wyandot, Shawnee, Potawotami, etc there were many great fighters representing these nations. This is Tecumseh’s Confederacy. These images are an additional source of breath into giving life to the histories and experiences of indigenous peoples of these lands. A very powerful tool.
AP: Tecumseh’s War not surprisingly, deals with the legend warchief Tecumseh and the Battle of the Thames. If one are acknowledge of this history, it makes perfect senses then why PANF would choose to incorporate Tecumseh and his heritage into their release. But why don’t you share some insights in regard to this particular war? How important is Tecumseh to you (not only as a musician, but as one Native American)?
KoW: For the record, Tecumseh was not a chief. The principal chief during much of his adulthood was Black Hoof (Catecahassa), who adamantly disagreed with Tecumseh’s plans to fight the Americans. Lots of inner politics involved within the Shawnee, and indigenous peoples were deeply divided about Tecumseh’s warnings of the foreign invasion. Personally, I empathize with both sides. If Tecumseh’s War was won, I believe there would be a United States of Indigenous Nations, perhaps like the federalism we have today in USA, and Tecumseh would have been the first president. Tecumseh’s vision is the engine for PANF, in my mind, arguably, he is the most important indigenous figure in North American history. He had the wit to understand the games the Americans were playing when they would engage to negotiate treaties, and he used that knowledge to create political power and leverage. His skills were legendary, his oratory, combat, hunting, intelligence–he learned English at a young age when Stephen Ruddell was captured and adopted as Tecumseh’s brother. His influence was immeasurable, what he did to build up an army was unprecedented. From his homelands in Ohio, he traveled far distances to warn of the coming of the Whites. He visited the lands in current Minnesota, down to Cherokee territory, his name spread far and wide. When I reflect on my indigenous ancestry, Tecumseh’s message resonates profoundly. He saw all indigenous people as one, who share land, lifestyle, philosophy, thought etc. Of course, there are variations, localism and regionalism are inevitable. Yet, Tecumseh remains deep in my heart and a hero for all indigenous people.
AP: When reading the lyrics, I could feel the entire album following a consistent narrative of Tecumseh’s rising against colonial forces and tragic death at the Battle of the Thames. So I’m curious to know how closely the music was tied with the theme here: does each track composed particularly for one section of this narrative? By the way, I’m not sure if you are aware of this but, Nechochwen’s Heart of Arkamon also dealt with this particular battle, I wonder if you have heard of this brilliant gem and if that record or Nechochwen in general have inspired the birth of Tecumseh’s War.
KoW: Each song has a mood written to reflect the events and conditions of the time. I may have had a clear idea about what I wanted to do with a song, at other times it was a matter of playing some riffs and see what sounds fitting! For example, in Raising the War Club I had full intention on hitting the listener with an abrasive blast and vocal opener, as the song was developing I decided to retain the snare blast for the verses for that relentless continuation, a motif to anchor the song. Another example would be the ending song, Battle of the Thames. Again, I knew the formation of the song would exhibit the intensity of war, musically the first half of the song. I want the listener to really lean in for it, during the second half of the song with the slowed down riffing and lead guitar it was meant to have the listener take a step back and emotionally process the stakes involved, a kind of melancholic period of introspection knowing how this was going to end.
Oh, I am absolutely familiar with Nechochwen. I bought Heart of Akamon on CD from Bindrune Recordings sometime in 2016 during the writing of Tecumseh’s War. Definitely, one of my favorite albums. The most inspiring thing about that album and the project as a whole for me is the storytelling creation, extremely well put together and the historical and cultural depth is immeasurable.
AP: Many of those arts that associated with Indigenous related themes would often choose related mythology and legends as their main themes, while PANF is among the few who deal with more direct and traumatic theme – the war and sacrifices of forefathers. I’m curious to know your opinion/fascination about “Wars” and military culture of Native Americans in general, why did you choose to depict them in your music?
KoW: Before I started the project, I was in a band with friends I’ve known for years called Terranaut.. While with the band, I developed a strong desire to play harder and heavier music, a style that I wasn’t getting from the band. That’s when I decided to leave and focus on writing my own material. Naturally, with my cultural and historical interests, war and battle was a fitting subject for the material. In a sense, you could say the musical writing chose the theme! Wars are truly historically changing events in time, emotionally riveting and exhausting, a crisis for those involved. There were many great indigenous figures who organized to fight back the encroaching Europeans. For many, their efforts have gone unnoticed, and I wish to give voice and honor those before us who gave their lives to defend the families, land and traditions.
AP: I’m thinking about the importance of languages. Many of bands sharing Native American/Indigenous origins sometimes prefer using their own native languages in their music, while PANF mainly uses English. Why is that the case? and do you have any plans increasing the usage of your own native tongues in future releases?
KoW: I truly admire indigenous artists who use a native tongue in their lyrics! The answer for me is simple, I do not speak one. My upbringing was largely absent of indigenous culture and language, my personal journey has been to reclaim and adopt the teachings of the relatives here in the Great Lakes region. While I do not speak a native tongue, I am making it a lifelong goal to learn the native languages in the area. As for future releases, I do plan on selectively incorporating indigenous language into songs, slowly but with certainty. I’m finding that native words in black metal is truly fucking powerful!
AP: Lets shift back to the name of your project, Pan-Amerikan Native Front. Thanks to my anthropologic studies and past researches on Native American’s struggles for human rights in the late half of last century, the Red Power movement in 70s and particularly American Indian Movement (AIM), how people from various tribes urged a union of Pan-American identity, like what Tecumseh envisioned, and how this movement eventually led to musicians like XIT that using music as a way to reclaim the history and fight for Native Americans’ own rights. Decades have passed but the situation in many reservations are still not optimistic for Native Americans today. I’m interested in knowing if this has any influence on you growing up and eventually make you decide to become a musician. How important is the concept of “Pan-American” for you?
KoW: Modern political movements are not a focus of the project, and while a very important subject, not something I can say I am well-versed in. You do make a highly relevant connection between Tecumseh’s cause and political indigenous organizations of the 20th century. As you suggested, what the project has in common with these organizations is the strong value of pan-indigenousism. Even before the AIM, there was a prominent early native rights organization called the Society of American Indians founded in 1911. Native peoples have understood the value of allying with one another with the coming of European attacks, strength in solidarity. The concept of “pan-american” is central to Tecumseh’s vision, and from his vision to the motivation for Pan-Amerikan Native Front. It’s at the very heart of the project.
AP: You will release a split with Ifernach via GoatowaRex this year and the premiere track is awesome: as straightforward as before and even more aggressive and mature, the Pow-Wow interlude clearly built up atmosphere. Do you mind sharing some info regarding the writing process of this split? How did this collaboration with Ifernach happen? And why GoatowaRex? To be honest I am surprised to see you guys sign with Dani, will this be a long-term collaboration then?
KoW:Miigwech for those kind words my friend! The concept of the songs are based on Great Lakes indigenous peoples with each song touching on a variety of subjects. The first song is a traditional PANF track, highlighting the battles Obwandiyag led and inspired against British territorial control. The second song is a little different from what I typically write, Blazing Winds of the Three Fires has myth and legend based on Anishinaabe story. Generally speaking, the songs on the split continue the relentless energy from Tecumseh’s War, with some percussive and melodic variety in parts. A majority of the material is old, written shortly after Tecumseh’s War was released so probably around 2016/2017 and I was just sitting on them for a while.
Ifernach and I connected over social media, obviously we were like-minded and deeply respected each other’s work. You don’t see too many metal musicians revive native traditions into their music east of the Mississippi River, it was a “meant to be” situation and we’re extremely content of how everything came out. My connection with Goatowarex is simple, Ifernach already had a working relationship with Dani when he released Skin Stone Blood Bone on vinyl so he kept that up with me this time. Obviously, Dani does incredible work for his releases and works very hard at it. I’m not exclusively tied to one label, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if you see another PANF release under Goatowarex.
AP: I also want to briefly talked about you guys’ live performances. Your set at RRFF 2017 was among the best, alongside with some BTC legends like Volahn and Arizmenda – easily one of my best memories from that festival. I would say performing live indeed injects new life into the music itself, as I witnessed the dynamic on stage and your outfit in particular – an unforgettable experience. What do you think of performing live and how important it is for PANF? Also about your war paints and outfits, can you share the meaning behind those symbols and cloths you chose to present on stage?
KoW: I truly have Red River Family fest to thank here for the opportunity to play that fest. There were some incredible things said about the PANF performance, very honored as well to hear that directly from you my friend. I’ve done live performances on and off since I was 19. The experience is both tiring and energizing, but I do mostly enjoy it. Taking PANF to the stage was something I felt I seed during the song-writing process. When writing songs, I actively practice lyrics while playing the guitar to see if I can pull it off for when I perform on stage. I try to have fun with it! Live performances are powerful, to hear it directly from the artist, something I do value and wish to continue doing. The presentation with war paint and garb is meant to express indigenousness on a macro level. The garb I wear is a serape commonly worn in Mesoamerican indigenous culture. The headwear is a chullo, commonly worn in Andean indigenous culture. These two pieces combine the solidarity I have for indigenous culture in North and South America. Again, reconciling the idea of pan-indigenousness.
AP: Well, what lies in the future for PANF? Have you already got in mind the themes for next full length and started to composed new materials?
KoW: At this time, things have been busy! The new full length album is in the middle of recording, guitars, vocals and bass are complete. In a week, the drums will be complete. Death Kvlt Productions out of UK will release a European version, and I will self-release for USA/Canada. Tecumseh’s War is about to be reissued on cassette under Le Fleurs du Mal from Montreal. While the new full length is currently in production, I am already looking ahead at the following release, an EP that will take me to other territory. Most importantly, PANF is confirmed to perform Gathering of the Eagle and Condor next October 2021 in Tongva territory (Los Angeles)! This will be the first indigenous black metal festival in the world. So far only Ixachitlan is the other confirmed band, and there will be many more announcements. Follow Night of the Pale Moon on social media to follow the great news!
AP: Again, thanks again for accepting this interview. Lets end this one with one of our records’ tradition – What are your favorite booze that you might want to recommend to our readers in China? Anyways, our best wishes to your life and looking forward to more materials from PANF!
KoW: Thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed! A couple of my favorite beers of all time are Newcastle Brown Ale, goes down so smooth, and if they are feeling for stronger drink then I say Dragon’s Milk. Best wishes to you as well with future publications! In Solidarity, In War!!!
Based in South California, the notorious Black Twilight Circle has long been lauded among underground scene for their furious and ingenious executions of Black and Death Metal that no others can compare, acts like Volahn, Arizmenda, Axeman, Shataan, etc, has maybe redefined Black/Death metal with their touches of Mayan/Aztec elements in their music and themes. Of them all, Blue Hummingbird on the Left is definitely one of the most unique. We had the honor to interview the front man Tlacaelel in the early 2019 as they were about to release their debut full length Atl Tlachinolli and had just finished their second European tour, about the concept behind each of their release, touring and performing live, and some questions regarding BTC itself.
Interviewed by Aymparch
Aymparch: Greetings, Tlacaelel! Thanks again for accepting this interview. Recently BHL and some other BTC acts are on your second European Conquest tour. How did things go so far for the tour? Do you like it?
Tlacaelel: Things went well, though it wasn’t a tour. Just a festival in Brussels and a last minute show in Denmark. It was our best time so far.
AP: Among your recent tours, the performance at Brussels’ A Thousand Lost Civilizations fest seems to me the most epic show that best captured the essence of BTC’s live performance (judging from few video clips and photos). If I’m not mistaken, they also helped to organize your European Conquest tour last year. How do you think of working with those ATLC folks and your own performance at this year’s ATLC fest?
Tlacaelel: They are a solid team and we would like to thank A.T.L.C. and Iron Bonehead Productions for bringing us out to do last years European Conquest tour. As for this year’s festival, there were some sound difficulties for Blue Hummingbird on the Left. So I would have to say we have sounded better but overall felt it was a strong performance.The reviews I read all were very positive for Blue Hummingbird on the Left and Volahn. Moreover the feedback we received from veteran acts in attendance was something quite special in itself.
AP: Let’s talk a little more about you guys’ European tour last year. I think that was the first time that BTC bands ever play shows in Europe right? How did you like it in general? Did it feel different to play for European audiences than for Americans?
Tlacaelel: Yes that is correct, we enjoyed it very much. We are used to a little more movement from the crowds here in the states. European audiences were for the most part very calm and still as if in a state of awe. Although crowds would vary from country to country. Somewere more boisterous than others,but all very appreciative.
AP: Alright, let’s shift to your latest album, Atl Tlachinolli. For me this is absolutely among the finest I’ve heard so far this year. Nine war hymns full of raw and punching riffs, which proves again that BHL is one of the most unique acts under the banner of BTC. There are two songs from the first ep, plus a track from the 2015 BTC compilation, and it took you guys almost a decade to record this full length. So why take such a long time? And normally howdoes the writing/composition process look like for BHL?
Tlacaelel: As we formed and recorded an EP in about a weeks time. I was in no rush to record the full length any time soon.We were still finding and refining our sound. Over the years we have altered our style, music and vocals.As we began to record the full length I worried that other vocals track were a bit too much and if this was the direction and sound I wanted for Blue Hummingbird on the Left.
There were even talks of returning to BHL’s classic “Bloodflower EP” sound for the album. Then continuing from “Debajo Del Simbolo De Sol” under a new banner. This delayed the album release for a while. As you can hear in Atl Tlachinolli, we chose the fuse the two sounds. We had the album completed a few years ago with Tenochtitlan as an instrumental.That’s when we decided to look for a label to put the album out. After the European Conquest tour, we had Iron Bonehead’s interest. I went back in to record the vocals for Tenochtitlan and it was ready to be pressed. Our writing process is usually lyric followed by music, but in some cases it’s been music followed by lyric.
AP: Of course we all know that BHL is about praising war and embracing ancestral roots, I’m still quite interested in the concept behind this full length (Atl Tlachinolli) and did some researches. To me it seemed to have certain notion of dualism, which is also evident in the organization of tracks (starting with Sun while ending with Moon). Since I’m not familiar with this topic, why don’t you tell us more about this album’s concept, and how it relates to your general theme? (also the cover art is brilliant, who did that?)
Tlacaelel: A key concept in Azteca/Mexica culture and mythology was duality, a balance between two equal and opposing forces. That’s why Sun and Moon, water and fire, life and death are all themes we have incorporated in our songs. All were valued in daily life. The over all concept I had for the album was that each song would be written through the eyes of a warrior poet, sacrificial captive or in the case of “Campaign” and “Hail Huitzilopochtli” the grand Tlacochcalcatl/Cihuacoatl Tlacaelel. He was an important figure to the Mexica’s rise to power. (I was referred to as Tlacelel “Greatest Hero” on the Bloodflower Ep) I changed my name soon after to honor him, in my roll of leading the Mexica War Tribe. Simply put, Alt Tlachinolli is a history lesson.I was very pleased with the art and the layout, a beautiful record. Cover art was drawn by Raf The Might!
AP: Like I mention before, Atl Tlachinolli is raw, straightforward, with tasty riffs that bring back memories of late 80s (something we not often see in today’s black metal in general), while the elements here are actually pretty diverse: we have some slow passages in tracks like Precious Death and Tenochtitlan; some pagan-ish riffs in Rain Campaign; usages of traditional Aztec/Mayan percussions and flutes (you use the Death Whistle right?); and last but not the least, your trademark war cry (more reverb!!!).So I guess my question is, how do you manage to capture all these elements when performing these tracks live? Is it different from sitting at the studio and recording them? And in general, how important are live shows for BHL (since relatively you guys are among the most active acts of BTC)?
Tlacaelel: I am frequently asked that question. It’s actually a jaguar flute. I really wouldn’t know how to answer how we capture it all, other than we are always prepared for battle. I do feel the album lacks the intensity you would otherwise experience at a live show. While recording one can be quite particular about the timing of a vocal or instrument track. On stage, every night is a new take.Shows aren’t very important to me, but we are a band and on that matter we take everyone’s opinion into consideration.
AP: Let’s talk about Black Twilight Circle if you don’t mind. BTC has been thriving throughout the past decades and definitely achieved a lot, becoming one of the most unique black metal groups in the global scale (believe it or not, you guys have a huge Chinese underground “fanbase”). So what essentially bind you all together for all these years?
Tlacaelel: I can’t speak on the early BTC days, as I was just a fan. But from my perspective it started with a passion for chaotic music then turned intoa pride that came from honoring our cultures and traditions through song.
AP: This question is kind of related to the previous one, when working with other folks of BTC in different acts, do you normally perceive it as more of a collective force, or sometimes-individual values are more important?
Tlacaelel: Most acts are usually led by one individual. Though we often run ideas through each other, the lead individual in that specific act has final say. The collective aspect of the Circle is most musicians’ play live in numerous projects.
AP: This is kind of a general question: how important is the role of language in your music? I noticed in the previous two splits (plus the opening track in the debut) the lyrics were written in Spanish, while the lyrics in the At Tlachinolli are all in English. Are there any specific reasons for this?
Tlacaelel: Just continuing from the Bloodflower EP, as well as simply wanting our songs to be easily understood by everyone around the world. I do plan to write most if not all-future Blue Hummingbird on the Left lyrics in Spanish and Nahuatl. Now that we have the worlds attention.
AP: I had this conversation with my boys the other day, where they brought up the topic of cultural appropriation, and we had such debates that whether what you guys are doing here – that is, combining Aztec/Mayan elements with black metal and praising the ancestral roots – counts as “cultural appropriation”. So I’m curious how your own opinions towards this issue. Also, there are lots of bands nowadays that adopting Aztec/Mayan/other Native traditions or elements into extreme music, to an extent that traditions almost become a selling-point, what do you think of it?
Tlacaelel: In regards to Black Twilight Circle, no! This is our culture, it’s in our blood it’s our mindset and is our identity. Everything we do is only to honor and pay homage to our roots. To shine light on the strengths and wisdom of our forgotten ancestors. Now in regards to these other bands that shamelessly try to connect two nations from opposite sides of the world, who lived centuries apart from each other. Then slap hybrid symbols of both cultures on analbum cover, throw in Nahuatl and German words and consider that Indigenous National Socialist Black Metal or “Nican Tlaca”. I hardly believe those people have any sense of pride and I consider that cultural misappropriation.
AP: Are there any plans for future releases for other BTC acts? You guys ever thought about having an Asia tour in the future?
Tlacaelel: Zulxaxeku is my favorite current BTC project, expect a devastating release soon. Also, Xaxamatza’s full length is coming along quiet nicely I look forward to hearing its completion in the near future as well. And yes, we would love to tour Asia! I personally have a huge admirationfor old Asian civilizations and traditions including martial arts.
AP: Alright, thanks again for accepting this interview, a really great conversation indeed. Are there any last messages you guys have for our Chinese readers?
Tlacaelel: Thank you for the interview and kind words ! Bring us out to tour Asia!
AP: As a tradition of our interviews, please let us know your favorite booze (hahaha!
Music passionally dedicated to the golden era of black metal and rustic darkness, Malokarpatan have generated quite some fuzz among the underground community ever since their debut. In early 2018 we had the honor to speak with the front man AS and had a rather joyful conversation about his sources of influences, classic black metal/progressive rock, supersitions and folklores in rural Slovak, as well as old Czechoslovakian cinemas.
Interviewed by Blindevourer
Blindevourer: Greetings Adam, we’re so glad to have this interview, a pure underground conversation between you and the Chinese listeners. Say something to the audience!
AS: Greetings Liu, thank you very much for your interest as well! It’s the first time I’m doing an interview for China and probably also the first time for Asia generally. So naturally I am really glad that our music has reached out so far, geographically and culturally. We don’t get in touch with Chinese culture here too often, except for Chinese cuisine which is very popular, but we learn about ancient Chinese civilisation in schools and I always had a huge respect for it – some of the greatest empires in history were located in your lands, with highly developed culture and philosophy. I also like traditional Chinese music and one of my favourite movies is The Horse Thief by Tian Zhuangzhuang.
BD: For most of your listeners, all we know about your band is the music only and we’re curious about something behind, like how the name “Malokarpatan”came along?
AS: It’s a simple name paying honour to our local region where we come from – the mountains here are called Little Carpathians, which is Malé Karpaty in our language. Therefore Malokarpatan means an inhabitant of this region. There is an old tradition of viticulture in here, which is why you can see the grape symbol in our logo. Other than that, the mountains are known for several caves in them and also a lot of castle ruins – the most infamous one being the castle of countess Elizabeth Bathory in Čachtice – our drummer lives just a few miles out of there. Many places here breathe with ancient history, so we take a lot of inspiration from our surroundings.
BD: We noticed that most of you are members of Remmirath. And your 2015 release Shambhala Vril Saucers and Stridžie dni are both interspersed with folk elements. We find it is very hard, producing two albums in the same year. So how you guys manage to allocate the time and creativity so well?
AS: It wasn’t that difficult, because the Remmirath album was recorded during 2013 and early 2014 and then after several months Malokarpatan recordings started in late autumn 2014. In Remmirath we were focused on a lot more experimental type of music – the basic roots were in 90s black metal, but on this second album it evolved into something outside of standard genre classifications. We were influenced by a lot of different things – progressive and psychedelic 70s bands like Gentle Giant, King Crimson, Faust, early electronic music like Kraftwerk or Yellow Magic Orchestra, composers like Stockhausen, Xenakis, Partch, traditional music from different parts of Asia, etc etc. Shambhala Vril Saucers was a difficult and challenging album to make, so returning to my old school metal roots in Malokarpatan was a great form of active relaxation. Playing more simple and primal music again felt refreshing and now it comes full circle when I again started adding more complex and experimental arrangements to the newer Malokarpatan material, while still keeping the primitive old school roots.
BD: China is a country with extensive and profound culture, and so as Slovakia I assume. A good many folk sounds were added through samples and synthesizers in all sensational tracks. Could you give a brief introduction to how your work got inspired by your culture?
AS: like I said Chinese culture is something I have a big respect for! Of course our country is extremely small compared to the vast spaces of yours, so the variety isn’t as big. Despite of that, we have very rich folklore traditions which are easily adapted into black metal music in my opinion. Like in all cultures, there is the light side and the dark side. As a black metal band, we of course focus on the more sinister elements. These themes are often part of our national folktales, so I got into contact with them already as a small child and therefore it is very natural for me to write songs about them. For more details, you can just check the English translations of our lyrics on the internet. I think it brings a bit of own identity and originality to bands, when their concept deals with their home culture. I’m not too good at discovering newer bands, but I remember hearing some Chinese black metal which incorporated your traditional music, I think that is a great idea and for us western people it is also very interesting and refreshing to explore foreign cultures this way. I wish more bands would get inspired directly by their culture, so black metal would get more varied again like it used to be in the 80s and early 90s.
BD: I also set foot in french, I can tell the vocals in the intro Nordkarpatenland used french. Why you chose a foreign language as lyrics?
AS: You can view it as just a small experiment. It came out naturally, not as a plan of ours. One of the special guests on the album was my good friend Annick Giroux from the Franco-Canadian band Cauchemar. I just sent her the demo version of the album and asked if she could record a few atmospheric parts using her vocals and synthesizer. The rest was just free work of her imagination and for the intro part, she recorded this piece of French recitation as a representation of her own culture. So that is the simple philosophy behind it for me – just as we represent our own culture in Malokarpatan, if we have a guest from abroad, he/she is encouraged to present his/her own culture. Another thing that enthralled me about it was that it reminded me of Tristesses de la lune by Celtic Frost.
BD: Compared with the Stridžie dni, the recent recording quality has been upgraded significantly, will you continue to adopt this mixing style in the next album?
AS: Stridžie dni was a completely self-produced recording without any studio budget. I am very satisfied with the result, as it was meant to be an underground sounding album, paying tribute to the old underground black metal spirit. But meanwhile we have evolved from a project into a regular band with full line-up and this has reflected in the song arrangements too, so I decided that Nordkarpatenland should be recorded in a professional studio. It was also a way how to avoid endless delays which always happen when you have unlimited time for the recording. This way, everybody was forced to be in the studio at the same time and focus on work only. I am definitely not a fan of modern, sterile and overly polished productions though and will always try to not have that kind of sound on our albums. I would already make Nordkarpatenland sound a bit filthier if I had the technical knowledge how to do so, but nowadays recording in a studio already means a certain level of polished sound which is something you can’t do much about. As for the future – yes, we will record in a studio again. But we will also keep an organic and atmospheric touch in the sound, because sterile modern production kills the soul of the music.
BD: Ked gazdovi upeleší sa v chyži nezdoba zmo and V rujnovej samote pocichu dumá lovecký zámek zvlčilého grófa, along withthe other tracks are blended with catchy classical music. Are these of your own creation or samples? And odd stuffs like cow bell also appear. What do you think about that?
AS: Mostly they are samples from various sources – from old Czechoslovakian movies with folkloral/fantasy themes, folk recordings, field recordings and also some classical music with hunting themes. Some small parts were also recorded by ourselves using various percussion instruments like chimes, jaw harp, frogbuzzer, etc. I like our albums to have a cinematic aspect to them – where you can just close your eyes and imagine the stories and places from our lyrics while listening. So we add all these parts just to make the overall atmosphere stronger and more intense. I am a big movie fan and I want our music to have atmosphere that reminds of films. Most likely, we will incorporate even more of additional instruments for the next album, while of course still keeping it as metal as possible.
BD: Mixing with Black Metal and Heavy Metal is a highlight of your creation, the band do not seem to be constrained by the style. We’re wondering if your previous albums are more of your own musical taste or a product of teamwork?
AS: I write all the music and lyrics myself, but I always give freedom to other members to come up with their own arrangements to the basic song structures which I present to them. So the main composition is strictly my job, but the final album result is always a team work. I think for a very long time now, people have a vast misunderstanding of what black metal really is. It was never meant to be a specific way of playing – like the fast blastbeats, tremolo riffs and high pitched shrieked vocals that are so typical nowadays because most bands take the Norwegian second wave of black metal as the basic inspiration. But Norwegian black metal was just one way of interpreting the genre, not a manual how to do it for all of the world. Before that, black metal was more of a philosophy and atmosphere – or a feeling as Fenriz once put it, than a specific music technique. With this in mind, it is completely natural for me to blend traditional heavy metal with darker elements, as that was how black metal once came to be in the first place.
BD: Historically Eastern Europe has always been an area of continuous political change, such as Czechoslovakia, how its disintegration impacted your creative background?
AS: Life was never simple here and still isn’t today. Our ages in the group vary, most of the other guys remember the communist days from childhood/youth, personally I was born during its last years, so I grew up in the post-communist era. But back then – during the 90s, you could still feel the influence of the previous four decades at least culturally. So ironically, even if we are a band formed many years after these sociopolitical changes, we draw inspiration from the old Czechoslovakian era a lot. The old movie samples, influence from classic 80s Iron Curtain metal, etc. But there are other influences as well – I take inspiration from the Slovak identity in general – local 19th century Romanticist poetry also means a lot to me, especially for lyrics.
BD: In the early days Malokarpatan is your personal plan, do you plan to use it as your main creative direction? And for the origin musicians of Algor and Krolok. They must be hard to find and combine to work for Malokarpatan.
AS; It is my child mostly, yes. For live concerts, studio and also some arrangements composition, we are a team, but I still write all the music and lyrics by myself. In case someone would bring up a song that would fit in the Malokarpatan universe, I would use it, but to be honest I prefer having creative control. For our drummer who plays in Algor it can be sometimes difficult and challenging, because Algor is a band that is often active live. Krolok works at a slower pace, so it’s a lot less problematic. There are very few people in our country with whom I could work on music as specific as this, so it’s quite natural that I play with musicians that were already busy with other bands and projects before.
BD: Another thing I found interesting is that the vocals Temnohor is older than everyone else in the band, he started career as a musician at 1998, how he joined the band?
AS: He is the oldest one among us, entering his mid-40s this year. His musical efforts started even earlier during the 90s, he was among the first people playing crust punk in our country, but he left that scene after a couple of years because he was not interested in its political elements and his music taste shifted more and more towards black metal and generally old school metal. I’ve known him since the late 90s because he was a friend of my older brother and we would often meet up at our place, have some drinks and listen to records. He is one of my few close friends, so inviting him into the band was a natural choice because of our similar views on many things.
BD: The album has been released for six months, Is there any plan to start preparing the next album?
AS: Definitely, I have many parts of the next album already composed, both musically and lyrically. It is still a bit difficult to predict how will the album end up sounding, but so far I think it will be darker than Nordkarpatenland, while still keeping a strong influence of classic 80s heavy metal and also adding some more atmospheric and experimental elements. Lyrically it will be a concept album this time, dealing with witchcraft trials that happened in 17th century on the territory of current Slovakia. This theme has already been used several times in the genre, but our version will still be unique I think. It will also have a more prominent influence of classic Czechoslovakian metal from the 80s and early 90s golden era, but it will be no boring retro without invention.
BD: In your local metal scene, for bands like Tormentor and Master’s hammer do not focus on the limit of a exact metal music style, to an extent you’re very similar to each other. Do you have any collaboration? Can you introduce some bands like these to us and which band resemble your style?
AS: Good observation, I absolutely agree! Black metal from behind the Iron Curtain was always typical for not respecting any restrictions and letting creativity flow freely. Only this way you can achieve originality – to follow the way you feel and ignore any rules. The only rule for us is for the lyrical concept to have a dark, sinister element and for the music to be real metal. Otherwise, we use a lot of different influences and have no interest in belonging to any current trend or scene. Collaborating with Tormentor would be extremely exciting for me, we are not in contact though. From Master’s Hammer, we have collaborated with their guitarist Necrocock who recorded guest vocals and choirs into one of the Nordkarpatenland songs. The album was also recorded in the same studio in Prague where they gave life to the cult demo The Mass back in 1989. For other old Eastern European bands in this style I can recommend for example: Root, Torr, Kat, Exorcist (Poland), Toxic Trash, Cerberus (Slovakia), Moriorr, Dai, Amon Goeth, Tudor, Fata Morgana, Bombarder, Epizod, Evil Blood, Cerber (Russia), Diktátor, Angel Reaper, Fantom, etc.
BD: Reappear all the elements and atmosphere in an album like Nordkarpatenland to a live show is something almost impossible. How do you choose the elements of the work? You have a lots of touring plans this year, will you visit china? Or any other city in Asia?
AS: For me the album versions are always superior and most important and I prefer to sacrifice the live versions to that. So of course there is no way we could fully recreate everything, but at least we add the atmospheric and keyboard parts through samples now. For this year, we will visit several European countries and also USA and Canada. We haven’t received any offer for Asia so far, but of course we would love to come. So if anyone has serious offers, we would absolutely go to China or elsewhere. For this year we have our plans pretty much full, but I hope we can reach Asia in the future and meet the local metal maniacs there!
BD: Thank you very much for your time and I hope the questions are to your liking. At last follow our tradition, tell us your favorite alcohol. Share and drink!
AS: Thank you as well, it was great to do a first time interview for China! Greetings to anyone who listens to our music there! Maybe we can see you live one day in the future. My favourite alcohol is definitely beer, although many of the other members prefer wine (we even have one song dedicated to wine drinking traditions). I like the standard Pilsner type which is the most common in here, but my personal favourite are Belgian beers with their unique taste – Orval, Duvel, Chimay, etc. From Chinese beer I only had Tsintao, but I hope I can try more sometime!
The underground metal scene has been witnessing a great comeback of black metal praising darkness from medieval time over the past few years, among which this Swiss black horde named Ungfell is definitely a band that shouldn’t be overlooked. The elements of medieval traditional music and tales about ghost and devils from Swiss folklores are reincarnated through Ungfell’s furious executions of top-tiered composition. This interview was originally written in early 2018, a few weeks before the release of their second full length Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz, in which we had the honor to discuss with the band’s main force Menetekel about their song-writings, concepts about each album, his passion in old Swiss folktales, together with Helvetic Underground Committee and Zurich’s underground scene.
Interviewed by Aymparch
Aymparch: Greetings, Menetekel, thanks again for accepting this interview. To start off, why don’t you give a brief introduction of Ungfell to those readers who are not familiar with you? What does the name “Ungfell” stand for?
Menetekel: Apart from the original meaning of “ungfell” which means “misfortune” in antiquated Swiss German, Ungfell stands for tremolo guitar ear rape paired with furious blast beat attacks and hateful screams. We play a highly melodic style of BM with folk elements. Thematically, Ungfell is set in medieval times.
AP: The band seems to be really a new-born child, since Ungfell was just formed in 2014. Yet you have managed to offer some of the most astonishing releases in the underground scene, especially last year’s Tôtbringære, which is one of my favorite albums for 2017. And again your second full length is going to be released via Eisenwald this March. So I just wonder what are some driven forces that make Ungfell such productive?
M: Hard to say… I just feel the need to get rid of the melodies in my head. Since I handle the composing alone I don’t have to fight over anything with other people. The songs just are what they are.
Thanks a lot for the kind words by the way.
AP: Alright, let’s talk about Tôtbringære little bit. I still remember how amazed I was when I first came across this gem back in last February, together with Schattenvlad’sV – two of the best Medieval BM released last year in my opinion. However, I think you came across this comment quite often in reviews of Tôtbringære – how this album reminds people of some French BM vanguards like PesteNoire and Autarcie, and how surprised when people realized you guys are from Switzerland instead of France. I think it’s because of those elements made famous by French bands like KPN:the raw production, the grim, medieval melodies of guitar riffs, and the uses of folk instruments with rural-like samples. So can you give our readers an idea of the writing process of this album?
M:See, the writing process is very unspectacular actually. I gather melodies, riffs etc. Then I sit in front of my computer and record everything. I start mostly with the guitars. I program the drums so my drummer (in that case Infermità) knows what to play. The lyrics are written with no particular system. Sometimes they come to me easily, sometimes it takes weeks to write lyrics to a track. The creative process is very strange in some cases. I remember writing the lyrics to “Wechselbalg” on a busride in about 20 minutes.
AP: In this album there are a huge amount of folk elements, so a quick question, what are some musicians or bands that outside BM or metal you draw inspirations from?
M:I actually don’t listen to a lot of folk music. I listen to classical music though and I’d like to think that there is a classical influence in my music. I also listen to a lot of ambient music nowadays (Brian Eno, Loscil, etc.). This really isn’t an influence you can hear in my sound but it inspires me.
AP: You already states that the lyric themes of Ungfell focus on folktales and witchcrafts, and these elements are quite prominent in your past releases. For instance: you posted it earlier on your facebook page that Tôtbringære is dedicated to Walpurgis Celebration; that album cover (I really like its design); your lyrics heavily deal with folktales about witch-hunts, wechselbalg, and the dark medieval classic Danse Macabre. So where did your fascination about folktales and dark medieval themes come from? Can you discuss the concept of Tôtbringære a little more?
M: I don’t know where exactly it comes from but I always had an interest in history. I think the medieval theme is very rich in its different aspects and adds a lot of associations to the music. “Tôtbringære” didn’t really have a very clear concept aside from the always-returning motive of death in its many forms. The album was more like a collection of medieval ideas and worldviews. There was not a lot of research though, I just let my imagination go wild. Some tracks even have references to personal experiences, which I somehow adapted to tales. In this sense this is a very personal album to me.
AP: I guess this question may overlap with the previous one, that one can easily find a sense of “ruralness” in the production of your past releases. You seem to embrace the idea of absurdism and play with it as well, like that short video clip of “Recording session” you posted on facebook. Were you try to disconnect yourself from the urban society, reject it with a mocking tune, and return to a “rural identity” so to speak? And it is interesting to see many bands nowadays choose this stance of rural and absurd, like Autarcie, Lugubrum, Fluisteraars, and Pensées Nocturnes, just to name a few.
M: I wouldn’t overinterpret the clip on facebook. It is what it is. Which is exactly this: A stupid clip on facebook. Of course rural atmosphere and absurdity play a big part in the concept of Ungfell. But something that is absurd is very likely not to make sense. People who listen to music or especially BM always want to find “meaning” in everything. Truth be told, many “artists” don’t even know what exactly they do themselves. So if you want to interpret a clip on facebook by saying it is “disconnecting Ungfell from the urban society” then go for it. But keep in mind that it is kind of ironic to look for meaning in things that are meant to be meaningless. But then again, nothing really is meaningless… So maybe it’s just a failed attempt to do something meaningless. This is getting to complicated. Next question.
AP: Alright, let’s shift to your upcoming second full length Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz. I would say that the first single you released a couple of weeks ago titled De Türst und s Wüetisheer sounds more aggressive than yourold works, with a more typical melodic BM approach, without losing your previous trademarks. There are a few changes in the song titles as well, that MMP seems to have an emphasis on Germanic/Swiss folklores, like the figure Türst and some traditional folk songs (like Guggisberglied). Since I am not an expert in this field, could you give our readers some hints of the concept of this album?
M: All of the tracks are inspired by Swiss folklore. Some of them are pretty know nstories,like the tale of the “Wüetisheer” which is basically the Swiss equivalent of the “wild hunt”. The idea of an army of the undead is common throughout European folklore and can be found in many forms and variations. Other tales like the one about the knight of Lasarraz are less known. This story is about a knight that marries an evilwoman, which then makes him banish his own parents, leading to their death in the cold.
As a consequence, two toads are now clenching to the knight’s face and his whole family has been eradicated. These are just two examples of the stories contained in this album. Another aspect is that some lyrics are written in Swiss German.
AP: I also noticed some changes in this album’s lineup as well. The drum and percussion was performed by Vâlant instead of Infermità, why did you make this decision? Since you stated before that you are the only permanent member of Ungfell, how did working with different musicians help to shape Ungfell as a whole?
M: Infermità did a great job with the demo and the debut. I guess I just wanted to change up things.
The influence of a drummer on a track or an album is not to be underestimated. Even though I compose the drums for the most part before they are recorded by the respective drummer, the style of a drummer is essential to the overall atmosphere of a piece. Vâlant and Infermità are two extremely different musicians and they both had great additional ideas, which ended up being on the albums.
AP: One interestingthing I found is MMP was mastered by Greg Chandler from Esoteric, a band that I highly respect. Why did you let him master this album instead of doing it yourself like your previous releases? How did this collaboration happen? Are you satisfied with the result?
M: „Tôtbringære“ was mastered at Obsidian Eye Studios. For the new album it was Eisenwald who got me in touch with Greg. I am extremely satisfied with the result. He did a great job and I would like to work again with him if possible.
AP: Another thing caught my attention is the circle of Helvetic Underground Committee and those projects that affiliated with it. I’ve checked out a few of them, like Dakhma and Death. Void. Terror., the music you guys produce has this certain “Hermitic feel” (if I summarize correctly). Looks like the members often collaborate with each other as well, in the case of Ungfell, you have released a split with Dakhma, and their mastermind Kerberos contributed guest vocals on your new album. So I am wondering how did H.U.C. get started? Are there any common goals you try to achieve? What future releases can we expect from this circle in 2018?
M: There’s nothing spectacular about the origin of the H.U.C.. Kerberos and I decided to form some kind of alliance since we always supported each other. Some people joined. End of story. We don’t have something like a common goal other than to create crushing music. 2018 will be a banner year for the bands of the H.U.C. There will be new releases from Dakhma, Arkhaaik, Lykhaeon and maybe even some other ones. We’ll keep you posted.
AP: What is the role of Zurich in the music of H.U.C.? Since many of these circles nowadays claims that their music is tightly associated with the region/regional culture they come from, like South California’s Black Twilight Circle and Silesia’s Let the World Burn Coalition, I wonder if there are any similar relationships H.U.C. share with Zurich as well.
M: Zürich has no meaning for the H.U.C.. Most of us live here that’s it. Of course Zürich is more important for Ungfell than for example Dakhma since the importance depends on the lyrical content and the concept of a band.
AP: Alright, to finish our interview, and to follow one of our magazine’s traditions, tell our readers your favorite alcohol (I assume you are a drinker as well haha).
M: I really like the “AppenzellerHolzfass” beer!
AP: Thanks again for this interview, are there anything else you want to say to our Chinese readers?
M:Thanks for your support and good luck with finding the Appenzeller Holzfass beer in China…