“GEISTAZ’IKA is the eradication of the flesh and the evocation of the spirit. A submission to darkness where the tormented creatures of the night howl their laments for all who make the voyage into the seething cauldron of the forest.”
The Danish black metal scene truly is one of the best going around these days. With countless artists pushing boundaries, expanding the genre and seemingly releasing incredible albums on a daily basis (I’m not going to list them all here, do a quick search and be blown away if you’re unawares) it’s almost a surprise to be surprised by how good a new release is. Well, enter Geistaz’ika.
Shrouded in mystery, their debut album Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel came out of absolutely nowhere on the very last day of 2018… and I missed it. Released only digitally through the now-deleted Afgrundsvisioner Bandcamp it somehow escaped my attention, which may have tragically meant I’d go the rest of my days without experiencing it, unawares of its delights – if it wasn’t for the indomitable Signal Rex who are now unleashing the beast to the audience and in the physical formats that it deserves, and who are also partnering with us here at BMD to release the entire full stream for your perusal today.
One of the most captivatingly textured albums I’ve heard so far this year, it follows a concept through raging paths and emotive meanderings that you’ll never expect and with a potent folk-infused concoction envelops your spirit, taking you to realms of which you’ll have never dreamed. I’ve no idea who the the people behind this unique work may be (although there are a few rumours flying around), or when the project was even summoned into existence… so it’s incredibly fortunate we have one of its nameless creators here to chat with us and hopefully allow a glimmer of insight into the enigma that is Geistaz’ika.
So, you know what to do – listen to Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel in full ahead of its August 30th release date, read on below and get ready to pick yourself up an LP or CD of this incredible manifestation of ancient spellcraft when you can. Hails.
Greetings Geistaz’ika, sincerest thanks for granting us this interview. Today we have the extreme pleasure of streaming your debut album Trolddomsejd I skovens dybe kedel ahead of its August 30th release through Signal Rex – and it’s a spellbinding journey all the way from the eerie beginnings of opener ‘O nat du skumle Hex’ to the final notes of epic closer ‘Tågedans’, possessed of an ancient magic that’s been missing from all too many recent releases. A wonderful representation of the spiritual heart of black metal. So, tell us a little about it! What was your intention with its creation?
– Thank you. It’s been a long and interesting journey shaping the album. Mainly the focus has been to create a soundtrack for the feelings and emotions rooted in Scandinavian folklore. Superstition, total depravity and submission combined; dread but also fascination for the darkness and what dwells within. Musically it needed to walk through stages of gloom, anger, desperation, resignation and also keep a straight narrative from start until the end. That was the intention.
I’m unfortunately unable to speak Danish, but Google Translate tells me the album title means “Witchcraft in the deep chain of the forest”, which is probably incorrect – although it does aptly describe the feeling the album instills in the listener. The song titles translate to things like “When The Sun Bleeds Red” and “In The Mirrored World”, which sound intriguing – what themes or message does the album carry?
– Replace chain with cauldron and the translation is almost accurate. Instead of witchcraft we used the word “sejd” which is a more specific word regarding a pagan ritual which is one of the themes of the album. The whole title is a reference to a poem by Danish 19th century writer and druid Sophus Michaëlis. The lyrics are a semi-conceptual narrative on how a person’s condemnation from her fellow man leads into the dark arts and the world beyond.
The cauldron of the forest is a symbol of the womb of the witch in where the children of the night is waiting. The latter half of the album is the individual stories of those creatures. How they came to be, and how they prey on those who seek them. Thus an era ends and a new cycle begins.
As the album progresses I can hear early Ulver vibes within these songs; which then makes me think of the now-debunked urban legend of the Norwegians recording Nattens Madrigal in a forest. I’m sure nothing as wild as that took place here, but I’m curious – were there any unique or special circumstances (physical or mental) necessary for any part of the album’s creation, either the recording process or even the writing stages?
– As I recall a hurricane was going on while we recorded the lead vocals. A Danish hurricane though, so nothing really special about that. Nothing else, but most of the album was recorded in a studio located in a forest.
Getting in the right emotional stage for writing is important, but I think it comes natural. The before mentioned feelings is still deeply rooted in many of us and it can get to you even though civilisation has progressed and superstition is more or less condemned. You don’t need to go to the graveyard and wait until the clock strikes 12 to see or feel their presence.
A surprising touch throughout the album are the choral vocals that frequently come into play – they add a whole other layer to proceedings, providing marvelous depth and gravitas. How were they recorded? Are they actual vocalizations, or synthetically created?
– They are not synthetically created. Just a singer with a microphone.
I’ve already mentioned Ulver – but there are many more artists this release reminds me of (the press release aptly mentions Isvind, Perished and Hades). Were there any artists you were knowingly inspired by during the creation of Trolddomsejd? Or conversely, did any non-musical art have any influence on the album?
– Not so many metal bands except of course the obvious ones you also mention. It’s more like short melodies or voices that can come from anywhere. You can get three notes stuck in your head for a whole day, not realizing where they came from, and then add some extra chords/voices/effects etc. and then you have the basis for the middle-section and ending of ‘Dødens Horeunge’ and the introduction of ‘Taagedans’, to name an example. Overall the music needs to reflect the emotions and atmosphere of the lyrics and the concept. It can be hard to do that in a subjective way and get it to sound like something you would actually like to hear.
Whilst knowing the personnel behind an album is definitely secondary to the music itself and can even at times distract from a pure experience of the art, I must mention that I heard rumour Nohr of Draug, Grav and a variety of other excellent projects is amongst your ranks. Now, due to the accomplished and powerful nature of the album I would guess that this is not your first foray into black metal. So I will ask: would you be willing to shed any light on who has taken part in the creation of Trolddomsejd i skovens dybe kede, or is this information forever to remain a secret?
– Nohr is having some guest appearance on this album, but not as the lead vocalist, as was in the rumors I had heard. There are a lot of guest musicians appearing on the album, some with a long background in black metal and some with less. I wouldn’t call it a secret, but I find it irrelevant so I won’t post information about the performers until I find a good reason to. But also seeing how desperate people are to get extra points on metal-archives these days I wouldn’t be surprised if it got out some time.
Following on from that, if I may press further – I have no idea how long Geistaz’ika has even been active for. How, when and why did the project come into existence?
– I have no idea either, to be honest. Some riffs/phrases/lyrics in Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel date back to the last decade. A lot has been written, re-written, recycled and re-used. The first (unreleased) rehearsal of the full length is from 2012 (as I recall), and then later on was rearranged and revived before and during the final recording which started during the summer of 2016.
The album was originally released digitally but was snapped up for CD and LP release by Signal Rex fairly quickly, I believe. Did you expect there would be so much interest in your creation? How have you found working with Signal Rex so far?
– It is correct. Since the project as mentioned had been going on for quite a while the main goal was just to finish it. Didn’t think much of what was next, and since Signal Rex was pretty quick to offer a physical release it happened by itself. But it was nice to see the album getting positive attention. Also very satisfied with what Signal Rex has done so far.
Something that I’m curious about that could just be a coincidence – that original digital release took place on 31st December 2018. Was there any special significance to this date?
– Yes, the date marks an end of an era and a new beginning.
The cover art is interesting; a pencilwork drawing of what could be a crystal ball containing an image of a swirling forest scene and shadowed body. Who is the artist? Is this intended to portray the forest of the title?
– The cover summons up the whole concept of the album in a simple way. Human despair, and then the submission, when you see it surrounded in darkness waiting for you. All portrayed in a dream(like) trance. That’s when it happens. When you can’t tell dream from reality. It’s drawn by Nohr btw.
Looking to the future, what’s next for Geistaz’ika? Are you working on any new material, or have you considered playing live?
– A new full-length is going to see the light of day. Most likely exploring deeper into the original sin, chastity and hypocrisy, but it’s still in it’s writing process.
Live-shows are also a likely possibility. We will see about that when we get there.
And finally – I try to not ask this question usually, but Geistaz’ika is such a fascinating name and I cannot find any hints as to the meaning of it. So; what is the meaning behind this name? What is it emblematic of?
– It’s a wordplay on being holy, dead and an evoked spirit at the same time. But in order to understand it you need to know Danish and some indo-European. It will be up to the ones interested to figure it out. I would be quite impressed if a non-Danish speaker did that!
Sincerest thanks for your time and the superb debut album, it truly is something special. Any final words you would like to leave us with?
– You’re welcome. I probably said enough already.
Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel releases August 30th on CD, LP and digital via Signal Rex.