Tombs Aligned As Teeth – An Interview with AVERSIO HUMANITATIS

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IMMACULATE LINES
OF SHARP WHITE LIGHT
CONTOUR THE SHAPES
OF VERTICAL WIRES
DEFINING THE ABSURD CULT
OF A MATERIALIZED HOAX
THAT IS ALL AND NOTHING AT ALL

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It’s been a decade since nihilistic Spanish destroyers AVERSIO HUMANITATIS first formed, oozing from the nameless void and congealing into corporeal form with the following year’s Abandonment Ritual. Keeping up the steady but measured pace of releasing a split or EP every two years since, they’ve been the epitome of “quality over quantity”; culminating with one of the unsung gems of 2017 in Longing For The Untold. A truly fantastic EP, they’ve been quiet ever since… but now, nine years after that auspicious debut album, they’re finally back with another full-length assault upon our fraudulent realities: the stunning Behold The Silent Dwellers.

And what quality it is. With this offering the triumvirate of S, J and A have surpassed any and all of their previous works, taking their established sound and honing it to cataclysmic levels of mesmerizing devastation that hold fast across the duration – all the way from the opening blast offensive of ‘The Weaver Of Tendons’ to the pulsating madness of closer ‘The Scribe Of Dust’, the record draws you in like the monolithic inevitability of gravity and gives voice to the darkness that lurks inside; broiling, seething and watching everything with cold, dead eyes. Deeply introspective and dissonant yet raging with an elemental fury at the utter fucking hopelessness of it all, it’s both impossibly bleak and the perfect soundtrack for the turbulent times we find ourselves in as a species – I’m not sure if I’m being influenced by the current state of the world here, but there seems to be ever-so-slightly more of a focus on the external, too. Whereas the EP forced you to confront the horrors within yourself, Behold The Silent Dwellers really does provide sonic form to what one might feel for humanity, society, civilization… and the inexorable truth that it will all come crashing down sooner rather than later.

Back in 2017 I made the call that Longing For The Untold was one of the EPs of the year and would undoubtedly show up on many end of year lists. I’m prepared to make that same call again now for Behold The Silent Dwellers. Three tracks are already streaming and interspersed throughout this piece, but be sure to pay attention on June 17th when the formidable pairing of Debemur Morti Productions and Sentient Ruin Laboratories unleashes the beast in full – meanwhile, in a fortunate follow up to our previous discussion with the band we have been privileged to have S. and A. return to the stained pages of BMD to discuss the record, their inspirations and more. So read, listen, lose yourself to the abyss… and Behold The Silent Dwellers.

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Greetings once again, Aversio Humanitatis! Glad to be conversing with you once more. The last time we spoke was back in 2017, for the release of your incredible EP Longing For The Untold. So, what has been happening with/for the band during the past three years?

S: Hello, it’s good to be talking to you again. We’re always struggling with the time we can borrow from our personal lives to dedicate it to the band, so it’s not like many things happens every year. During 2016/2017 each one of us was living in a different country, and somehow we managed to record Longing for the Untold and give a few gigs after that. Later everybody came back to Spain and we slowly started to work on the new album, putting some ideas together until everything started to get a real shape. And now here we are, three years later, with the album ready and waiting to be out. It may looks simple but every step takes an immense amount of time and effort.

Yes, you’ve finally returned with a brand new album, Behold The Silent Dwellers… and it is nothing short of utterly immense. I had no idea how you would top Longing For The Untold, but you’ve somehow done it – it’s more powerful, more direct yet also more detailed than anything you’ve done to date. I find myself needing to pay more attention than ever before when listening; not because it is boring but because the compositions seem somehow deeper this time around, with magnetism like a black hole that pulls you in. Do you feel you approached this album any differently to your previous works? Were there any forces or intentions at play this time that may not have been present before?

S: I feel like you used my own words to describe the album, hahaha. It’s definitely more direct but deeper and with more attention to details. Not as easy listening as Longing…, but definitely pays more and more with every listening. When the production of the album was done I had listened to it so many times that I wasn’t sure what to think about it, but now I’ve started to love it again and I’m really proud of the result.

Yes, this album was approached in a different way. In all the previous works songs were mainly composed at home, one at a time and then taken to the rehearsal room to be adapted to the “real world”, make some arrangements here and there, then direct to the studio. This time we composed nearly all the album during rehearsals, lyrics and vocals included; at points we were working on two or three songs at the same time, so I think that contributed to give them all more cohesion and also allowed every member to print their ideas while we were making the songs and not after a first demo was made at home. 

I’m particularly intrigued by the theme of the album, and would like to dive a little deeper into it. The title is Behold The Silent Dwellers, and each track seems named after an entity of some kind – ‘The Sculptor Of Thoughts’, ‘The Scribe Of Dust’ and so on. I know you do like to leave interpretations of lyrics up to the listener but in this case I must ask, as it is fascinating: who are these entities? Are they the “Silent Dwellers” of the title? What do they represent?

A: While developing the narrative of this album I started shaping these various entities that would represent different key aspects of it. You could consider them nameless, faceless, ominous presences, maybe gods in the most dehumanized and abstract possible way. They are the dwellers indeed, just some of them. They represent what we have created, the leashes we ourselves developed, the massive cities, the tall icons and idols, the unreasonable and unreachable standards and in general everything that keeps us from fully reaching our full potential. These dwellers feed on our fear, our hopes, our efforts, our existence.

Would you consider the record a “concept album”? If so, what inspired the development of this concept?

A: Absolutely, it is a concept album, partly inspired by brutalist architecture in its basis, and by the whole ideologies built around its origin.

I’m also curious, given how well the music depicts such bleakness and turmoil and how synergistically all elements work together – did you write the music around a general idea of what the lyrical themes would be, or were those ideas developed after the compositions were mostly completed?

S: Being completely honest, no, J. and me didn’t write the music thinking about the lyrics, although we already knew what the concept was. I guess each one of us knows what the general “feeling”, “mood” or however you want to call it of the band is, so we just focussed on making our part. But as I commented earlier, since we composed all music and vocals at the same time and place, we were influencing each other.

But it is a good question, I have reflected on this many times: what’s the best way to do it? Are each one of us telling a different story (one with the music, another with the lyrics) and then just putting everything together? Are we losing something important doing it that way? I guess we are indeed losing something; maybe I write some riffs inspired by some particular reflection and then A. puts some lyrics on it that has nothing to do with my original thoughts. But that’s part of being a band, of making art in a cooperative way; the result will be a mixture of all our different ideas and perspectives, but it won’t show any one in particular. 

There are additional guitars credited to someone known as N.H.T, who I believe to be one of your live members. What were his contributions to the record? Will he become a full member of the band?

S: That’s right, he has been our live guitarist for the last few years. He’s also credited in Longing for the Untold for recording the vocals on ‘Advent of the Inescapable’ (since A. wasn’t in Spain when we tracked that song), in which he did a great job adapting his vocals almost seamlessly to fit A.’s register.

In this album he decided to give it a try to compose a song. Finally, not all his riffs made it to the album but we took a good part of them to make ‘The Watcher in the Walls’, basically the first three minutes of the track and then J. and me completed the rest of the song. Apart from that, after the whole album was done (he wasn’t part of the rehearsal sessions), I sent him all the demo recordings and asked him to write on it whatever came to his mind. So he did it and added different guitars and arrangements over my riffs; once again, many of them didn’t make it to the final mixes but a few others did.

If I recall correctly, the previous EP utilised photography that A. had captured on his travels around the globe – does the cover art for Behold The Silent Dwellers continue this? It certainly seems to be the case, with a stunning yet bleak urban horizon edited and flipped to create an ominous mirror world. What is this image intended to signify?

A: It not only continues this, but reaches further and deeper. This time the art is not limited to a series of atmospheric pictures, but meticulously crafted from shots taken with the sole purpose of creating these unreal but very tangible spaces. These images that form the art try to encapsulate that idea of abstract, oppressive realms derived from the real world, which is absolutely dystopian by itself. These dimensions coexist, some in our minds as a form of shackles, and some surrounding us.

Apart from all of that, it would be remiss of me to not also mention the sound – I believe you yourself have once again recorded and produced the record at your own studio, The Empty Hall Studio – it’s quite simply one of the best productions I’ve heard to date this year. From a technical standpoint, were there any challenges faced or new ideas implemented during the recording process for this album? Did you use the same gear as on Longing For The Untold?

S: Yes, I produced the album in my own studio, which is available for any serious band from anywhere who wants to work with me. I appreciate your words and the fact you have taken the time to pay attention to the production.

I didn’t try any new techniques or crazy ideas during the production, I just did what I know, paying special care and attention to every step. Regarding the gear, I used the same and only guitar I’ve had for the last eight years and also the same amp, but mic’d in a different way. For the drums we did use a different one, in 2017 we only had available a very cheap PDP kit in the studio, but fortunately this time we used a Taye StudioMaple I have now, which is far more decent. I think the main difference was having more time to record it and more experience to produce it.

Something we briefly touched upon last time was the synchronicity between Aversio Humanitatis and Lorn, which led me to think about other art or artists (musical or otherwise) that may have been a particular influence, subconscious or not, upon the development of your work. Did any art in particular inspire or influence you during the creation of Behold The Silent Dwellers, or indeed the sound and theme of Aversio Humanitatis at large? Could you recommend any works that possess the same or similar feeling and concepts that you express within the band?

S: It’s hard to determine which bands influence me or which ones I just simply like. Nowadays I try develop the new ideas by having our own records as the starting point. Years ago I used to say I didn’t care too much for originality but that has definitely changed over the time, now I think that it is really important to develop your own personality and sound if you have the ambition to make memorable albums, because time is the best judge and it doesn’t like imitators. Not that I say we have accomplished that, but it is at least our intention.

Anyways, I’m not going to dodge the question and I’ll drop some names without overthinking it. Some albums that I think have influenced the riffs I make for AH over the last years (I’m gonna skip the classics and probably forget many) could be Lowgazers by Plebeian Granstad, Clandestine Sacrament by Death Fetishist, Chamber of Divine Elaboration by Reverence, Death, Endless… by Adversarial, Conscious Darkness and Near Death… by Blaze of Perdition, Omniabsence Filled By His Greatness by Inferno, Enemy Of Man by Kriegsmaschine, some Blut Aus Nord and Infestus albums… and I could go on forever.

For this record, aside from Sentient Ruin Laboratories once again handling the cassette, you have signed with the great Debemur Morti Productions for vinyl – another of my favourite labels. How did this take place, and are you happy with the partnership so far?

S: Phil contacted us a few months after Longing… was released saying he really liked our sound and proposing to work together in the next releases, so we gladly accepted. Debemur Morti has a really good and well earned reputation, has many memorable albums in its catalog and has kept its roster fresh, with great classic and also more experimental bands, so I think it’s a perfect match for us. So far it’s been really good, devotion and professionalism is all that matters to me.

And yes, Sentient Ruin will release a cassette version once again, it’s looking great and I’m really thankful to have his support one more time, it’s another great label.

Across the album, all of your performances seem to have hit next-level. The drumming is fucking incredible, J.‘s work in ‘The Presence In The Mist’ is probably the best groove I’ve heard all year. The riffs are some of the most ensnaring you’ve ever written. A.‘s vocals are devastating. Given the progression across all your releases to date, I’m almost frightened to think how good your next album will be. Do you have any plans for future releases as yet?

S: I’m also frightened about what the hell are we going to do in the next album hehe. I’m proud of the progression we’ve had until now, since we’ve always raised the bar in all aspects with every release. The experience eases you the path in many ways, so it’s relatively easy to repeat yourself, but my aspiration is to keep things fresh and inspired. As the main composer, I don’t consider myself a well-endowed musician at all, I have big limitations, so we have to play our cards well. Probably the best option is not to rush things, just focus on quality and let the time fill us with new ideas. I’m already working on some new riffs, but we don’t know what are we going to do next. First of all we want to see the new album out and maybe play some live shows.

And finally, a more philosophical question. As it has throughout all your releases your work emanates the same nihilistic slant as ever. When we were discussing Longing For The Untold, you made mention that the lyrics were “a reflection on our existence, the passing of time and the capitulation of our pretensions before our own insignificance. I’d say that it’s beyond hatred, it’s closer to acceptance of our pain and the contemplation of our falling and the grandiosity of the universe.” Now, with the world plunged into the grip of what almost amounts to a modern day plague, the sentiment behind those thoughts of our insignificance and failing seems especially pertinent. Having witnessed the actions of humanity and world leaders during the current crisis, have your thoughts about humanity changed at all? Or, have they perhaps even been reinforced?

S: So far it’s been a complete mess. Each country on their own, taking contradictory decisions, some governments are minimizing the numbers, others are exaggerating them… you can know that everybody is lying for a different reason, but nobody actually knows what is going on. So, it’s basically the same as always, humanity did what we could expect from it. Sometimes I laugh at the situation and other times I want to kill some people in a hate rant. 

I mostly care about myself and the close ones, but as the time passes I’m caring less and less (or at least I try) about ‘global’ issues such as climate problems, this pandemic, politics and so on. Those are problems only for the humanity, but once we have ceased to exist this world will continue its course. We are the virus without any doubt and we have worked hard to deserve every bit of suffering we have to endure. I’m not in a very philosophical state right now, to be honest. Probably I could give you more elaborated arguments in another moment.

Sincerest thanks for taking the time to speak with us again and for bestowing upon us a work as powerful as Behold The Silent Dwellers. Both have been a true pleasure. Any final words or wisdom for us all? 

S: Thanks for all the effort you have put on these questions, it’s been a pleasure for me too. 

Behold The Silent Dwellers releases June 17th via Debemur Morti Productions and Sentient Ruin Laboratories. Pre-orders available now.

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Pre-order Behold The Silent Dwellers on CD, digital or LP from Bandcamp HERE or the Debemur Morti webstore HERE, and on cassette from the Sentient Ruin Laboratories Bandcamp HERE or webstore HERE.

Support AVERSIO HUMANITATIS:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

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