Cross the abyss
Before it crosses you
Across 28 years and four full lengths the Finnish institution of Black Crucifixion have always, in true black metal spirit, forged their own winding path through the darkness. Their Facebook page simply states they are “Finnish black metal for those who like music” and that’s a wonderful way to describe a sound that draws as much from doom, goth and other more metallic / rock infused substances as it does the blackened fires of the early ’90s. Gone may be the corpse painted days of yore but their satanic servitude is no less black at the core than it ever was, and definitely no less adventurous – as evidenced by their stellar latest offering, Lightless Violent Chaos.
Compelling, powerful and indeed as violent as the name suggests, it was originally released on CD in July last year through Spikefarm Records and was previously only available in their home country – until now, as the good folk at Australian label Seance Records have stepped up to the plate to bestow upon it the worldwide CD and cassette release it so richly deserves. Which, incidentally, will be the band’s first cassette release since 1992’s The Fallen One Of Flames.
Good news, right? In even better news we have the deepest pleasure of speaking with founding member, multi-instrumentalist and demonic throatsman Forn himself, who enlightens us about all things Lightless Violent Chaos and much, much more. Read on.
Hello Forn! Sincerest thanks for speaking to us today. Your fourth album Lightless Violent Chaos was originally released in 2018 – but was only made available within your home of Finland. Now, the official worldwide release is taking place via Australian label Seance Records (who you have already previously worked with on the release of Coronation of King Darkness). How do you feel that the album is finally spreading its dark tendrils further across the globe, and why have you selected Seance Records to be the banner to assist in this?
– Seance Records is the natural companion for the release of the album as they are music lovers working professionally in the metal scene. The preliminary release of Lightless Violent Chaos was done by Spinefarm that nowadays is actually Universal Music which means that their understanding of this kind of music is something different than let’s say in 1992 when we first worked with them around the release of our debut The Fallen One of Flames. A small and artistically independent band like Black Crucifixion can only function with a label of similar values. Thus Seance Records is an obvious choice.
I personally opine that you somehow get better with every album, and with Lightless… you have definitely topped your previous excellent work. You’ve heard it a thousand times now, seen/read people’s reactions to it, played the songs live – have your feelings or thoughts about the album changed at all, with the benefit of hindsight?
– Thanks. I actually just listened to both Lightless Violent Chaos and Coronation of King Darkness (2013) albums to prepare for this chat. We view them and their predecessor Hope of Retaliation (2011) as a trilogy. What begins with the studio tracks on Hope of Retaliation, grows into full bloom on Coronation of King Darkness and then finds maturity on the new album. Also it might be noteworthy that the material on all of these albums intertwines timewise: all of them include songwriting that precedes all the three albums.
You’ve stated that the intent of the album is to “evoke the horror of being less than a whisper in the time-defying roar of the cosmos”. I know you do not usually discuss your lyrics but this is a fascinating idea and, if you mean that literally, one that forces the listener to confront themselves and their/our position in the grand scheme of things. Would you be willing to elaborate your thoughts on this, and how you aimed to achieve it with this album?
– We feel that the sort of music we record has some sort of “magical” essence. It touches something that is common in men. For us lyrics play a part in this and as majority of them are usually sung in English they help to open certain doors for people who understand them. Our lyrics may not preach as much as they once did – as we find it futile to try and alter other people’s perceptions of what they call the reality – but when used right, our art is a sort of immaterial talisman that can be used to transfer energy. What one chooses to do with that energy is of course beyond our control. But in order to feel empowered in one’s microcosm it is useful to realise how little any of us, our work, our feelings or even the current civilisation means in the long run. Maybe that is liberating.
– Going back to the original Black Crucifixion guitar probably has multiple reasons. One is that a big part of our material over the years has been written with it yet it has not been used in the sessions. In that sense it “deserved” to be used, even though it is of course just a piece of wood, metal and plastic. But it is a good-sounding oiece of wood in the shape of a Stratocaster by a Korean manufacturer under their own Cort brand. I bought the guitar with my dad back in 1986 and for a a very, very long time it was the only electric guitar that I personally owned. Nowadays I have two: the black Ibanez seen in our live shots and this white Strato. Both of them are played on the Lightless...
I personally quite enjoy the progressive tendencies inherent in all your work, Lightless… definitely included. Fittingly, you have a very special guest, returning after he also played guitar on Coronation… – Pekka “Rekku” Rechardt of Finnish progressive rock legends Wigwam. It must be an honour to have him back, his playing is fantastic. What sort of input did he have into the songs this time around, and how does he feel about the second fruit of your combined labours? Will he likely now be a continuous feature on your albums?
– Having him on board definitely adds depth and texture to the albums. Majority of the leads are played by him which is an advantage as he has very good ears and his playing style is totally different from the default metal lead guitar. Interestingly he just reactivated Wigwam for sold out shows here in Finland, I’m going to see him play live next week in a big club just 500 meters from my home. The home where I have a picture of us hanging on the living room wall. Sometimes even an agnostic Satanist has to feel blessed. Our work together is surprisingly seamless. Maybe that has something to do with the fact of him being born the fifties and therefore not feeling quite all the angsts that the millennials about working with the bunch of no-bullshit-given-or-taken individuals that we are.
The album is supposed to be listened to as one piece, and is apparently the same length as Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon. Have you tried it out to see if it syncs up with “The Wizard of Oz” yet?
– That is properly witty! So far we have only tried to sync it to The Dark Side Of The Moon.
Okay, but seriously now – did you go into the record with intent from the start to compose an album that worked as an entire coherent piece, or did it just come together that way during the process?
– It got more coherent whilst in process. Compared to Coronation… , which is a more a compilation of carefully selected songs, Lightless… was constructed to be a one big piece. It has less songs and they are longer. In a way Coronation…’s last songs lead the way to the new album.
– This the very essence of our work. At some points during the years it has maybe even directed us too much away from our path – production style of the Faustian Dream album might be one example of that urge of doing things differently going one bridge too far. But yes, I totally agree with you. Blind crowd mentality is something we have been against ever since we recorded the song Flowing Downwards where the lyrics even state “fuck your herd conformity, the noble shall rule”. That might not be high-brow poetry from today’s perspective but it surely has served as our mission statement throughout the decades.
Speaking of modern black metal, the press release contains a rather excellent / hilarious quote from you: “Nowadays music sounds like it was written and produced in McDonald’s – by the people who work there”. You’ve been in the game since the very beginnings of the Finnish scene, seen the genre itself evolve and change… do you find merit in any black metal of the current era? Do you keep up to date with any of it?
– This of course varies greatly between the members of the band. Personally I’m not very much aware of what is going on in the underground scene except for the two new Possessed songs that I streamed this morning. Do they count? On a more serious note we appreciate people who make their living in McDonalds, as in the Finnish welfare state it would be way more easier for them to just stay home with youtube and Playstation and let the few taxpayers pay for their burgers. What we are trying to say that people who use the Satanic aesthetics of black metal and portray themselves as some sort of elite creatures should maybe also have some earthly achievements to display their superiority. In Black Crucifixion all the members of the brotherhood are proud men with something under our belts. We work for our living and in jobs that we have chosen. We feel that gives us some mandate to be a black metal band.
And finally, what lies ahead for Black Crucifixion? Has work begun on any new material, and if so – any hints on what we can expect?
– This band is a constant creative process. The trilogy of albums was worked on ever since Faustian Dream came out in 2006. The songs slowly found their way into the entities that we all can now listen to. Amazingly the oldest pieces of music on the trilogy are over thirty years old. It tells something about our work methods that we are now working on pieces that partly outdate the trilogy. And stuff that has just been dreamt up. There is a future for all of them. It pays to be patient with us.
Thanks again for your time today, and thank you for another truly great album. Any last words you’d like to leave us with?
– Seance Records has Lightless Violent Chaos out on CD and cassettes. Support their work for the underground by buying the album. We promise you it is worth your time and money.
Lightless Violent Chaos releases June 3rd. Pre-orders available now, with free worldwide shipping on all CD pre-orders.
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