The Sacred and the Profane – An Interview With Graveir

Graveir‘s black star is on the rise. Fresh off the back of contributing to one of the greatest splits of 2017, the Australian horde of Gloom, Alone, Emaciated, XI and Pandora have announced a new EP about to seep out and spread its insidious influence across the earth: the mighty ‘Cenotaph’.

It’s available for pre-order as we speak and I’ll be taking a more in-depth look into its wretched majesty when the time arises, but for now we can feast our ears upon the stellar teaser track ‘New Gods (Drowning the Sun)’. The horrifyingly dissonant guitars and depraved multi-pronged vocal assault contained within head up what I believe to be their strongest recorded work to date; and I’m extremely pleased to say I was fortunate enough to sit down with throatsman Gloom to discuss the track, the EP itself and all things Graveir. So have a listen at the link below, and read on.

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Greetings Gloom, sincerest thanks for speaking to us. First up, a little history: What inspired the creation of Graveir, and what is its purpose?

– The genesis of Graveir really started in 2009 as a vehicle for me to write the kind of music I was interested in. It’s not for everyone so I’d found myself playing in things more out of friendship. There was always compromise rather than a full creative expression. There was no real timeline on it, just a collection of riffs which ended up being the genesis of the songs on the demo.

I think it was around 2012 I met XI and found we were pretty much on the same wavelength. Being a particularly driven individual, once I showed him what I had been working on that was enough to set things on the path. Pretty quickly we’d demoed the songs. Admittedly these were pretty rudimentary given my lack of technical ability and preparation at the time but these helped us to form the remainder of the lineup in late 2013. I am pleased to say it has progressed from those humble beginnings much further than I would ever have expected.

As for its purpose, I am generally interested in the interplay between the sacred and the profane so sonically I wanted something that had a definite sense of melody but also felt slightly unsettling at the same time. At least to my ears, t’s the friction between the two that helps create the atmosphere in our music.

You have a new EP on the way, titled ‘Cenotaph’. How do you feel about it, did everything turn out exactly as planned? What was the creative process like?

– I think we will never be 100% satisfied with anything, no matter how good it is. This is healthy as prevents stagnation but it becomes important to know when to let something go and release it. People will ultimately make of it what they will. I am comfortable with the release – which is as close to happy as you should ever realistically be.

The recording was definitely a positive experience. We recorded locally so there wasn’t any time pressures and all of our equipment was available to us. Ean Redman, who recorded and mixed the album is someone we know on a personal level so the recording environment was very good. Tonally I think we got some good sounds from the instruments.

The writing process itself is fairly painless, new material comes easily to us. As for how it comes together, someone will demo guitars and guide drums for a song and send it around for initial opinions and if it is received well we take it to rehearsal and adjust it until we have a finished version and I’ll add lyrics to it from there.

The dictionary defines a ‘Cenotaph’ as: “a monument, sometimes in the form of a tomb, to a person or group of persons buried elsewhere”. Why did you select this as the title?

– It came from the lyrics for New Gods (Drowning the Sun) and seemed fitting for the overall tone of the album and the artwork. In a more literal sense it does serve as somewhat of a monument between where we have come from and to where things are heading.

The first teaser track is the aforementioned ‘New Gods (Drowning the Sun)’ and in my opinion is another huge step forward from everything you’ve done before, oozing with a bleak and unsettling menace. Can you describe the themes and intentions behind the track?

– Definitely – the lyrics centre around the cycle of domination and violence that come with change. More specifically changing of religion within a society. What we often refer to as mythology is really an insulting way of denigrating what was previously the dominant religion of a society i.e. “That was all make believe, what I am telling you now is the one and only truth.”. The song describes the building of the new order over the bones of the old through bloodshed.

Listening through from your last full-length ‘Iconostasis‘ and the great 2017 split with Mar Mortuum you can really hear the refinement of certain aspects of your sound, such as the development of a mutidimensional vocal assault that proves to be devastatingly effective. What would you say the biggest progression or development has been for Graveir since ‘Iconostasis’?

– There are three key things I’d point to as having the biggest impact on our sound to date.

The first thing that happened is that after the demo I was able to share more of the songwriting duties and this has continued to increase over time. We try to make sure everyone has had some songwriting contribution on all our releases but the composition of this has shifted. For example on Iconostasis if one of us wrote a song we would normally write both guitar parts before sending it to everyone. Now we will often write one guitar track then send it to either Alone or Emaciation to complete which often adds a different perspective to things.

The second thing is improving as musicians over time. This has enabled us to stretch our songwriting and technical abilities. Listening to a demo from 2009 versus today this becomes very apparent. This one is especially true for me.

Finally, Emaciation adding additional vocals has really helped add some additional depth into the songs both live and on the newer material.

There will also be a track on the EP titled ‘Dyatlov’. I’m curious, because if I’m correct this is something that has always fascinated me: Would this be referring to the Dyatlov Pass Incident? If so, can you tell us a little about why you chose to write about it?

– You are correct, it is referring to the events that occurred in Dyatlov Pass. The title was initially just a working title, which will often change once I actually start writing lyrics. However after doing a bit more reading and research I found it a particularly fascinating topic.

What makes the Dyatlov Pass Incident a compelling case may be more to do with the level of development of forensic science as well as the propensity for secrecy on the part of the Soviet government.

If I had to take my best guess I think it was something of a military nature, perhaps air mines or some other weapon capable of generating significant concussive force. The interest for me lyrically was the thought of the isolation and the unforeseen terror that would have followed.

The EP will be adorned with evocative cover artwork by incredible occult artist Norot Art. How did this come about, were you big fans of his work? How does the resulting image tie in with the themes of the EP?

– Essentially just by being fans of his artwork. From there we made contact and he agreed to do the artwork. He has done a stellar job and we are extremely happy with the end result. Our approach when contacting artists is to give them a listen to the songs, lyrics and titles to enable them to draw out what resonates with them and draw something based off that. We give little to no instruction or guidance beyond that. So, given that it draws from the source material I think it fits the overarching themes on the EP (which are essentially meditations on the nature of death, suffering and change) quite well.

‘Cenotaph’ will see the continuation of your recent partnership with the great underground Australian label Impure Sounds. How has it been to work with them?

– No complaints whatsoever. Graveir isn’t a money-making venture so any notions to that effect are easily dispensed of so long as you aren’t being exploited. What then becomes important is finding someone who will show as much care for the release as we have in making it and that on a personal level we are dealing with people we respect, like and trust.

We know the EP is in good hands so it is a largely stress-free process for us. Impure Sounds don’t run a massive release schedule so can give each release they put out care and attention it deserves. We have nothing but positive things to say about the label and would gladly work with them again.

I know you’ve been playing a few live shows of late, have you aired any of the new material and was it received well?

– This is always a balancing act as you don’t want to play all the new songs months ahead of the EP release otherwise there isn’t all that much excitement around the new material for the audience. Recent shows we’ve done one or two songs just to test them out in a live setting and to add a something unexpected to the setlist.

We did do a set of the EP material late last year at an event hosted by our friends the Brewditos. Given the excellent quality of the beer on offer and their support over the past few years we thought we should repay the favour with something special. Hard to say how much of it was the beer but the reception was very positive.

For the uninitiated, what can one expect from a Graveir live ritual?

– Great question – I think you can expect to hear a close representation of what is on the recordings. For the most part we don’t record anything we can’t re-create live and we avoid using anything overly processed so I think this translates well in the live setting only with a bit more of a feral energy to it. Outside of that you should expect a sufficiently bleak atmosphere.

Australia has a killer black metal scene. Are there any sorely underrated Australian bands that you believe deserve more widespread attention?

– Completely agree with that sentiment. I think there are some bands that are getting some well-deserved recognition at the moment such as Départe and Greytomb which I hope continues as they have both produced some excellent releases.

On the other side of the equation there are some excellent bands who I think are due a bit more than they might currently have. Ignis Gehenna, Convulsing, Siberian Hell Sounds, Norse, Bleakwood, Snorri, Ploughshare, Mar Mortuum, Host and Dødknell have all put out great releases in the past year or two. I’d also be interested in a follow up from Dead River Runs Dry as I thoroughly enjoyed the first album. I will miss Funeral Moon who were great and were over all too soon.

When can we expect the full EP to drop? Will it be on vinyl, CD, cassette?

– Release date will be April 20th and will be vinyl and digital only at this stage. CDs may come later but I think it depends on the level of interest.

Sincerest thanks for your time, Gloom. Very keen to hear the rest of the EP. Any last words?

– Thank you for the well-thought out questions, it has been a pleasure answering them. I hope I have answered them sufficiently. I will be interested to hear what you think of the rest of the EP once it is out.

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Pre-order ‘Cenotaph’ on vinyl or digital from Impure Sounds here.

Support Graveir:

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