The Powers of Evil – An Interview with Onda Makter

Diabolical triumvirate Onda Makter‘s moniker translates quite literally to “evil powers”. But what exactly is evil? Whether you charge at that complex question from a religious or ethical philosophy standpoint, you can (very loosely, since after Nietzsche suggested we ditch morality and go “Beyond Good and Evil” in 1886 the question has arguably obtained no further clarification) boil it down to two types: Evil not caused by man, and evil most definitely caused by man.

It’s with the latter of the two that these Swedes concern themselves, and this is what informs their debut album ‘Mardrömmars Värsta Mänsklighet‘. I know themes of misanthropia are the furthest possible thing from cutting edge in black metal these days, but to me, they’ll never get old. Satan and the cosmos are cool and all, but humanity mostly fucking sucks at the best of times and we honestly deserve the hatred.

Hatred is undeniably what Onda Makter dish out with their cold stream of black that for the most part follows the blueprint laid out by their Swedish countrymen before them. For those who don’t know what that means, their ruinous attack is injected with a solid dose of both melody and metal, with some seriously headbanging grooves and palm-muting sneaking in to the equation. Sounds enjoyable, right? It is. Some mighty riffs are to be found here and the songwriting scales some enviable peaks too; the soaring final track ‘Om Allt Bara Tog Slut‘ is a personal favourite and puts many more established bands to shame. WHAT an album closer.

Anyway, after hearing this album I simply had to grab these demons for a quick chat. So check out advance track and killer opening rite ‘Profetians Paradoxala Pagina‘ below (or the premiere of the also great second track ‘Dödens Rike‘ over at Indy Metal Vault here) before the CD and cassette release on 27th July exclusively through the great Fólkvangr Records, and read on for a taste of the darkness in man.

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Greetings Onda Makter. Sincerest thanks for taking the time to speak to us, I hope all is well there in Sweden. Your debut album ‘Mardrömmars Värsta Mänsklighet‘ will finally be unleashed in all it’s resplendent black glory on 27th July. I’ve heard it and it’s fantastic, but in your own words: What can we expect to hear from the album?

– Hey Black Metal Daily! Everything is fine here in Sweden. You can expect a varied, well produced and misanthropic themed album. There are both slow and fast songs with lots of melodies and with just the right amount of black metal spirit to the whole package; not too shittily recorded, nor too crystal clear.

Sounds great. If I’m not mistaken (and I very well may be, thanks Google Translate), the title of the record translates to “Nightmare’s Worst Humanity”. What does this mean?

– Yes, that is correct. The meaning of this title is a metaphor for how disgusting humanity actually is. We think that it is a well suited title to describe our album.

Agreed. With all that in mind and song titles also translating to “The Kingdom of Death” and “If Everything Just Ended”, I’ll assume the overarching themes of the album are definitely more misanthropic and nihilistic than anything else. Would this be true? If so, can you elaborate on why? Would this bear similarities to your own personal worldview?

– Yes, it’s Archon who writes the lyrics so that question goes mainly to him. In his own words; “When you bring the truth into pale light, you realize that it’s really everyone for themselves. Everyone is capable of acting in a way that could hurt others just to gain something for themselves, and people are doing this all the time. The reason why I have decided to write about this (misanthropy) is because I need to channel my feelings and I do not really know why, but I can see this every day and I feel that I need to do something with it.”

It is indeed a sad, inescapable truth. Now let’s get a bit more into the technical side of things: Given that opening track ‘Profetians Paradoxala Pagina’ was also the opening salvo on last year’s ‘Om Allt Bara Tog Slut’ EP, as soon as you push play the difference in sound smacks you in the face. It’s much more full and powerful. How did the recording sessions go, are you happy with how everything turned out?

– Thank you, we did have some technical problems in the beginning, but once that was solved everything went really smooth and we could not be any happier with how everything turned out this time.

You’ve had a few lineup changes over the years. Do you feel this has necessarily changed the overall songwriting from the first 2014 self-titled demo to this debut full-length, or has the creative core remained intact?

– Yes and no. The core has always been there but nowadays we, Archon and Malphas, cooporate with each other on the writing process. So the creativity has increased since the start in that regard.

The album is being released on both cassette and CD formats via Fólkvangr Records, I believe this is also one of the first CD releases for the label. What first drew you to work with Fólkvangr, and are you pleased with the results so far? Is this a partnership you hope to continue in future?

– We stumbled upon Fólkvangr records through some research on the web and sent them a message that we were interested in working with them.

Mark is a great guy who is very passionate about what he is doing. He is great to work with and we hope to continue work with him and Fólkvangr Records for future releases as well.

He is a legend. Another thing I’d like to note is the performances on the record, they’re all standout. What was your introduction to music, and how did you find your way to the blackened path? What then led to the creation of Onda Makter?

– Everyone found an interest in music quite early in their life and it later evolved to what it is now. We think it is a strong genre with appealing qualities to express ourselves with this kind of music, and this has led to the creation of Onda Makter.

I agree. Despite the variety of opinions on the matter this genre only goes from strength to strength for me, from the earliest days to the most modern black fury. Speaking of; you can definitely hear a lot of traditional black metal influences throughout the album. Do you have any particular artists (musical or otherwise) that you may have drawn inspiration from during the composition process, or simply who inspire you in general?

– We try not to have any particular artists influence us, but instead keep it varied. We take inspiration from whatever we think fits in and will suit our music, but just to name a few bands we enjoy: Immortal, Austere, Gorgoroth, Mörk Gryning, etc.

All superb bands, and as an aside it’s great to see Immortal come storming back through the gates with their latest this year too, corpse paint and all. There’s been much debate over the years on the merits of bands still wearing corpsepaint, actually; personally I appreciate it and it’s refreshing to see you guys are carrying on the tradition, but what are your thoughts on it and why do you wear it?

– We believe that it strengthens the live performance and adds that “old-school” vibe to it. It is an attractive tradition for those who are into the music and a kind of history as well that we would like to keep going.

More power to you, it should be kept going. And finally: What lies on the horizon for Onda Makter? I believe you played a couple of shows last year, are you looking to ramp up your live presence upon release of the new album?

– Yes, once the album is out we will go out and play gigs. We are preparing for new merchandise right now and we will keep on going with spreading our music.

Nice. Once again, sincerest thanks for your time and the excellent debut album, I daresay it will receive many more spins from me. Any final words you’d like to leave us with?

– Thank you for having us and keep supporting the underground scene!

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Purchase Onda Makter‘s ‘Mardrömmars Värsta Mänsklighet‘ on CD or cassette from Fólkvangr Records here.

Support Onda Makter:

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Break Us, Destroy Us – An Interview with Brahdr’Uhz

The mysterious Swiss entity of Brahdr’Uhz plays black metal the way it should be played. Their songs sound like all your favourite raw bands of years gone by, rolled into one but with three times the hate. And you may not have even heard of them yet.

This however, is how they’ve liked it. Releasing their first self-titled demo in late 2017 and the two after that in a grand limited total of ten copies each, this music was only meant to be heard by a select few… Until recently. When I saw that Grimm Distribution was releasing a CD compilation of tracks from their first three demos I almost fell off my chair; I don’t believe I’ve ever hit the “shut the fuck up and take my money” button so fast in my life. I simply had to attempt to reach out to main man Brahz for more information. To which he graciously, and to my slight surprise, obliged; so read on below for the briefest glimpse into the fresh hell and true subterranean fury that is Brahdr’Uhz.

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Hails Brahz! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. I’ve recently discovered your work and the pure expulsion of hate, nihilism and utter sonic darkness is refreshing. For the unaware: Why was Brahdr’Uhz formed, and what is the message you wish to convey with your art?

– Brahdr’Uhz is a big “FUCK YOU ALL”. A way of expression, a way of suffering and a journey to death. Quite usual, BUT it is the only reason why Brahdr’Uhz exists…

Brahdr’Uhz is an evocative name. Where did it originate, and what is the meaning behind it?

– It’s an old dialect and you can translate it more or less like “break us” or “destroy us”. The opposite of “bless us”. But it’s not in the depressive way like, I’m crying and I’m waiting to be killed! It’s more like “come on and try to destroy us! We are immortal and fuck you”.

I was at first under the impression that Brahdr’Uhz was the product of one man, but a recent press release noted that there were two members: Brahz and Penetranalattak Deflagramicide. Can you clarify who plays which role within the band?

– Brahdr’Uhz is a one man band. Penetranalattak Deflagramicide play drums in couple of songs but as a session drummer. I probably will continue alone again for the next demos.

Your sound draws heavily from the darkness of the past, but in particular bears some similarities to the great Les Légions Noires bands. Do you consciously draw inspiration from these or any other artists when you compose? What other influences do you have while you write?

– Viva Les Légions Noires. I love them as I hate them. I don’t know what to say when it’s about inspiration. For sure some Judas Iscariot and some TNBM bands… But my own life is my main inspiration.

In true underground spirit you have traditionally duplicated your own extremely limited tapes for your releases, but have recently worked with two great and vastly different labels: Medieval Werewolf Antiquarium and now Grimm Distribution. How was it working with Medieval Werewolf Antiquarium (who also release in extremely limited quantities)?

– MWA is totally devoted to the underground. I respect him a lot. But, I wanted to release more than 10 copies so I asked Grimm to release a regular album.

But I still like to release stuff by myself like in the old good past. It’s so easy today to find a label and to release a CD of 500 copies limited. Today we are back to the demos and the limited homemade stuff, for the better.

In my opinion this masterful display of obsidian filth also deserves to be on wax. Are there any plans or hopes for a vinyl release in future?

– I’m a tape and vinyl lover. Yes I hope I’ll see something out on wax one day, but nothing is planned yet. Just have to find a label as crazy as me to release it.

You have also just released another two track demo: the great ‘Alkeldama‘. This is the fourth Brahdr’Uhz demo, and all of them have been excellent. Are there any intentions for a proper full-length release one day?

– I just released a split with Trefihrat couple of weeks ago and the next step will be a full-length probably, yes. It will depend on the inspiration and the time I can put into it.

You tap into a rare and raw primal black flame, far away from the progression (or arguable dilution, depending on your point of view) that the genre has undertaken over the years. What is your opinion of the modern varied strains of what is now known as black metal? Do you listen to many current artists?

I have an old school vision of black metal I guess… Maybe because I’m old? Black metal is here to fuck the commerce, to say fuck religion and to say fuck you all.

I don’t need a well produced album. I don’t need a good mix and mastering, I don’t want to sound like radio music. The sound is primitive and I record everything with one mic only.

I don’t get why Black Metal bands start to be commercial and well produced. Isn’t that the opposite of why we exist?

And finally: Will Brahdr’Uhz ever play live, or are your rituals intended as more of a solitary experience?

– As a one man band and as an asshole I don’t think live will be possible, but who knows.

Once again, sincerest thanks for your time. Any final words?

FUCK YOU ALL!

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Purchase Brahdr’uhz‘s ‘Land of Darkness’ on CD or digital from his Bandcamp here, or from GrimmDistribution here.

Support Brahdr’uhz:

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Meaningless Dust – A Chat with Alex Wills of Dark Doom

A while back, a preview copy of UK melodic black/death project Dark Doom‘s debut album ‘Dust’ materialised in my inbox. The sole product of one Alex Wills, it turns out he’s already had a few demos out on tape, is partial to throwing up the odd black metal classic cover on YouTube (check out his rendition of ‘Mother North’ here, which I’m not one hundred percent certain he’s going to be happy I’ve linked) plus upon further communication has turned out to be a good guy.

The most crucial thing, though: The album is surprisingly solid. Self-releasing on 29th June with two preview tracks available as we speak, the varying hues of black, melodic death and many other delightful strains of carnage mesh together into an enjoyable listen. I had to hit him up to ask: What’s it all about?

“The main theme for the album is the idea that everything and everyone is made up of the same materials that were created at the beginning of the universe. We’re all the same at birth and when we die we all decompose and become the same again. Because of this everlasting cycle, nothing that we do really has any meaning or purpose in the grand scale of the universe as even events that define the human race will be forgotten in time to come, making them meaningless. In the album I refer to the materials that make everything as ‘cosmic dust’ and reference it in a number of songs.”

That sort of nihilistic approach always works for me (and the stirring ‘Cosmic Dust’ is actually my favourite track on the album, too). Did he find anything in particular that inspired his creative process?

“The only real memory I have of a specific moment when inspiration struck, was when I arrived at work one morning (I work on the top floor of an office building) during October. It was extremely foggy. The view of fields and hills shrouded in fog from my office window was very atmospheric, and I could imagine a huge creature striding amongst the fog. This was the inspiration for the track ‘Roaming Creature’.

Speaking of ‘Roaming Creature’: that’s a great opener. The first thing that really made me sit up and take notice of the album was that ace little guitar solo, artfully placed yet totally unexpected. He clearly has some compositional and playing skills, so I wondered where his musical background lay?

“I started playing guitar at 13 and studied music composition and performance up to university level. In 2015 I got my Batchelors degree in popular music and music technology.”

You can definitely tell, it stands above many other one-man project’s debut albums. There’s also a variety of styles and influences present, from the expected black rage to really solid melodeath to some nice melodic parts and soaring leads, so I’d safely wager a tenner he doesn’t only listen to black metal. I asked what some of his musical influences were:

“I listen to a lot of music (mostly metal) but some of the main influences for this album came from bands like Satyricon, Behemoth, Insomnium, Time Lurker, Alcest, Uada, and Ghost. As well as this I also took inspiration from local artists from around my area that I enjoy, such as Abduction, Suodeth and Ubiquitous.

When stumbling upon this project, the first thing you’ll probably take into consideration before even giving it a listen is its moniker: ‘Dark Doom’. Those of you expecting some average gloomy black/funeral doom be prepared to be both disappointed and pleasantly surprised. I had to ask what the story behind it was:

“Why the name Dark Doom? The project was originally set up as a bit of a joke/experiment. I was trying to see if I could make black metal myself so I picked two words that sounded evil and threw them together. Hence, Dark Doom. After I got a bit more serious about it I just kept the name as I liked it at that point.”

And how does he feel about the album itself?

“It’s the first full-length album I’ve ever created myself. I’ve been working hard on it for around 9 months and I’m very proud of how it’s turned out. It’s the first of what I hope to be many.”

I’m sure there will be many more. Is writing already underway for the next one, or does he have other, more immediate plans?

“Writing hasn’t begun for album two as of yet, but it won’t be long until I start writing again. The next step is to take Dark Doom live. I already have my first show booked and I’m looking for more. As a solo metal project this presents challenges but I’m ready to overcome them and start taking my music out there.”

I hope it goes well. Have any labels shown interest?

“I have not yet seen any interest from labels but I would be interested in having a discussion with any that are interested. I do plan on putting out physical copies of the album if people express an interest.”

Personally, I’m sure there’ll be plenty of interest. One last thing I was curious about: he claims Dark Doom to be “Part of the FOS666 Horde”. What’s this all about?

“FOS666 stands for Fist Of Satan 666. It’s a blog/website service run by Fist who promotes artists and bands that he enjoys. As for the ‘horde’ part, Fist currently hosts the Dark Doom official website as well as the sites for a number of others. In return for this I put ‘Part of the FOS666 Horde’ on all Dark Doom social media to let people know about him. I’ll put links to my site and the main FOS666 site below:

http://www.darkdoomofficial.com

http://www.fistofsatan666.com

Nice one. And his final message to anyone reading this:

“Thanks to everyone who has supported Dark Doom so far and to anyone who hasn’t heard it, please check it out. This is just the beginning.”

Hails.

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Pre-order Dark Doom‘s ‘Dust’ digitally from Bandcamp here.

Support Dark Doom:

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Thriving In Arrogance – An Interview with Sammath

If you’ve never heard the smooth sounds of Dutch crooners Sammath, prepare yourself: this shit is not for the faint hearted. In our initial message exchange, guitarist/vocalist/songwriter/lyricist/champion bloke Jan Kruitwagen sent me a recent live clip and asked the question: “did your ears fall off?”. I played it coy with my response, but the truth is they didn’t so much fall off as be ripped forcefully from my skull, flung against a wall, stomped on repeatedly, burnt, spat on, then run through a meat grinder for good measure.

Black/death metal is the game, and these fine gentlemen’s aim is utter fucking decimation. I’d heard their 1999 debut ‘Strijd’ around fifteen years ago and liked it but somehow never heard another peep from them after that, so catching up on their discography in the following days was a total pleasure. When I then found out that they not only have a live tape on the way but their debut had recently also copped a vinyl reissue through Hammerheart Records, I figured I’d be an idiot to not ask Jan to sit down for a chat about it all. Luckily, he agreed. So read on below and do yourself a favor by checking out their stuff; you don’t need your ears anyway.

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Hails Jan! Cheers for speaking to us. Your absolute weapon of a band Sammath recently re-released your debut album ‘Strijd’ on vinyl. Can you tell us a little about that? What led to this happening?

– Thanks mate. Strijd had been sold out on CD for years. The re-release on vinyl from 2002 was also sold out as well as the tape re-releases. I kept getting requests from people who wanted it. So Hammerheart did a great job getting it out. Gold vinyl. The thing looks bloody brilliant.

‘Strijd’ was actually the only Sammath album I’d heard up until recently, back then it was absolute carnage and in my opinion it still holds up perfectly today. How do you feel listening back over it now? Is there anything you would change, or anything you’re particularly proud of?

– Thanks. Well, mixed feelings to be honest. Some of the keyboards suck. But overall I’m still proud of the sound and atmosphere on my debut album. It’s rough as hell and we still play some songs live now after 20 plus years. I still like the flow and mood of the songs and some tracks like ‘Drakenbloed’ sound killer live.

Listening through your output since, you’ve not only remained just as uncompromising but have somehow clawed to all new levels of savagery with every release, becoming faster, streamlined, more lethal. Is this a conscious thing? Do you actively try to outdo yourselves with every album or are you just naturally becoming even more violent with age?

– I think the last, haha. I’m never frustrated or pissed off in life, so it must be the music. I live for this style of music. I have enjoyed black, thrash, death and speed metal since ’85. I can get totally fucked up on stage or while writing tracks. I do try to make each album different so I don’t end up like other bands constantly making the same CD. As savage as possible is correct. I’m still trying to create the most ruthless album. Maybe this time… ‘Godless Arrogance’ was close though.

Going back to that last album, 2014’s ‘Godless Arrogance’: This might be an odd one to pick as a standout but I keep returning to the track ‘Death (Hunt Them Down)’. That churning riff is fucking great. Do you have any personal favourite tracks off that album, or from the entire Sammath discography? Are there any that you love ripping out live?

– Cheers. That track is the most death metal I’ve ever done. I like most tracks. ‘Thrive in Arrogance’ and ‘Nineteen Corpses Hang in the Mist’ along with ‘Shot in Mass’ are the tracks that I like to play live, even though ‘Shot in Mass’ is so fucking fast that I almost need oxygen afterwards.

Speaking of playing live, you’ve also got a live album dropping soon on Zwaertgevegt, which I reckon is ace and more bands should also release them. When will that be available and what made you decide to put one out now?

– That’s coming out on tape in a few months. Alex from Zwaertgevegt was in front banging his bloody head off during most of our shows, I’ve known the bloke for years and he also released our demo tapes and ‘Godless Arrogance’. That was his first pro tape. He simply deserves it. I really wanted a live release so people know how we sound these days. Peter Neuber mastered it all. It sounds so damn filthy, but you can still hear it all perfectly. Pure primal madness.

Next year will be the 25th anniversary of Sammath. Does the fire still burn as brightly as it did a quarter of a century ago? Is there anything planned to mark the occasion?

– I feel like we’re only getting started. We have a new drummer, Wim from legends Centurian and Inquisitor. So we sound like a machine now. Nothing special about getting old. All I want is a next release. Sometime Feb would be 25 years. That would fit well.

With a quarter of a century of ineffable black metal power under your belt: What does black metal itself mean to you? Has the meaning changed at all over the years, and how do you perceive the genre now in comparison to the ’90s?

– The same as always. Living life how I want. Wandering my own path. Never listening to anyone except some close friends and family. Not being touched by opinions. Simply not giving a fuck is total freedom. Something my Dad taught me when I was young: follow your own path. I’m teaching my son the same. Its all pretty much turned into fast food for some in today’s scene, but in general the scene is alive and kicking. Many new good bands.

Something I noticed while researching this is the fact you were born in Australia, which is where I’m from myself. Were you here for long and do you head back at all? Any chance of a tour decimating Down Under shores one of these days?

– I’d love to mate. I grew up in Berowra. Northern suburb in Sydney. From 6 to 17, I loved it in Aussie.

Best youth you can imagine. Rowdy bastards everywhere back in the 80s. Bloody loved it. Still miss it, but over here it’s great. 5 hours from Paris, Berlin, London. Australia made me metal and I’m proud as fuck of that. That country was and still is amazing. I’ll always feel a strong connection to Aussies. Whenever I meet one at a concert we always end up pissed.

A while back you made the switch from Folter Recs to Hammerheart Records. What instigated that, and have you been happy with the result so far? Will you be with Hammerheart for future releases?

– Hammerheart is huge. I’m on the same label as Pestilence for fuck’s sake, haha. I got a call from Guido and I said yes and left Folter Records after 18 great years. I’m more than happy with Hammerheart, I even work there now. I do the promotions.

About those future releases… Any news on a new album? If so, what can we expect from it?

– Almost half is done. Totally relentless fuck-you-kill-everything black death metal. It’s going to make the last album sound like nursery rhymes. I have a new drummer as written above. New guitar sound. It’s all dealing with the different action seen here during World War 2, from the places nearby to where I was born and now live again. On the Dutch – German border. All the lyrics deal with death. Hatred. Utter chaos and describing the events.

And finally, a kid (your own, even) comes up to you and says they want to start a black metal band. What advice do you give them?

– Get a job ya shit. Buy a guitar and write riffs cunt.

Sincerest thanks for your time Jan, looking forward to more Sammath annihilation! Any last words?

Always follow your own path. Fuck religion. Thrive in arrogance. And send me a case of VB.

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Purchase Sammath‘s ‘Strijd’ on vinyl from Hammerheart Productions here, and latest album ‘Godless Arrogance’ here.

Support Sammath:

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When Darkness Enters – An Interview with Höstblod

‘Mörkrets Intåg’, the debut offering from Swedish one man project Höstblod, is an unexpected album. From the minute you push play you’re constantly surprised in the most pleasant of ways. Black Metal is often restricted and weakened by perceived ‘rules’ that must be followed, and both the artist and listener are often guilty of falling into this trap of expectations. Listening to this album you get the feeling the man behind Höstblod has absolutely none of that anywhere in mind. This is him creating solely for himself, and the result is something beautiful and hidden.

With fantastic instrumentation, composition and arrangement, frequent (and great) clean vocals and even children’s singing, the album can be as stripped back and captivating as to have your heart in your mouth while you listen then seamlessly transition to unleashing an elemental, tortured fury like few others. Being a non-Swedish speaker I was unaware of the deeply personal side to the album until he mentioned it in this interview too; that knowlege has imbued further listens of the album with an immense and powerful, yet delicate emotional weight. It’s honestly breathtaking, and I guarantee not what you will have expected going in.

With not even a demo to his name, this man has gone all out with no fear and crafted something hushed and unique, something truly special. So either listen to the full stream below or the tracks embedded in the interview, and read on as Johan Nilsson walks us through the shadowed glades of ‘Mörkrets Intåg’.

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Hello Johan! Thanks for speaking to us, hope you’re doing well.

– Hi! I’m doing very well, thank you, but a full schedule to say the least. Didn’t really think the record would get this much attention to be honest.

Your debut album ‘Mörkrets Intåg‘ has just been released. I believe it has been quite a journey, how does it feel to finally be holding the physical product of all your work in your hands? Can you tell us a little about its creation?

– The creation of ‘Mörkrets Intåg’ has taken a long time. I think its getting close to two years since I started the recordings, so actually seeing it now feels very surreal and emotional. Alongside its becoming I have had tremendous support from Rog Jarl from Le Narthécophore, so sharing these moments with him is very nice.

The album is stunning; loaded with beautiful and varied instrumentation. You seem to be an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, what’s your musical background? Is this your first project?

– This is indeed my first black metal project. I played in some bands in my youth, mostly alternative rock, but then my interest for the classical guitar took over. So after a long classical guitar education I started working as a guitar teacher and I think it was at this point my passion for black metal started to blossom. Probably as a reaction to the stale and rigid world of classical music.

And, yes, I play a lot of instruments on this record but the actual playing isn’t really that complicated. I practised the drum parts a bit but the hard part is composing the music. If you have a band you can try stuff out when you rehearse, but as a one man project you have to visualise the music in your head and just do what you can to make it come alive.

There’s a great folk-ish, natural sound to it all. A certain integrity and authenticity. Music is a universal language but my Swedish is unfortunately poor, so I’m not able to gather too many clues as to the exact lyrical themes; could you share some wisdom about the topics the album touches upon and what they mean to you?

– The main themes are sickness, death and the feeling of emptiness that it brings. I started this project when my mother got diagnosed with dementia and seeing her fade away fuelled the creation of ‘Mörkrets Intåg’ (‘When Darkness Enters’). The lyrics to the last song ‘Tystnaden’ (‘The Silence’) were written just after she passed, so the whole album is basically therapy for me to be able to cope with the situation.

The whole thing is covered in some incredible artwork with a very symbolic cover, done by Tiny Dots of Death. What are your thoughts on it, and how does it all tie-in to the music within?

– I agree, the artwork turned out amazing. Rog and I have worked closely with Mark from Tiny Dots of Death, with both ideas and the symbolism of death and rebirth noticeable even in the very fabric of the cover. But the end result was made possible by Marks willingness to pour his soul into this, not compromising in any way. The font used on the inside of the cover is especially built for this album for instance. Not going into detail, one could say that it has a theme of motherhood and decay.

The vinyl is being dually released through Le Narthécophore and Vinyl Compvlsion, while the CD is on the way through Wolfspell Records (if that’s public knowledge yet). Have you enjoyed working with all of those guys?

– Well, it’s solely Le Narthécophore who has produced both versions of the album, but we made a special edition for the VC community (available only to members) to thank them for the support. And to that version they provided the stickers and Eddie Ruffles helped out doing the booklet. Working with Rog from Le Narthécophore has been crucial, even for this music’s existence. Supporting all crazy ideas from children singing to the ballad ‘Höstblod’. Which I never planned to make or put on the album, by the way. The melodies and the chords just appeared in my head and wouldn’t leave until I recorded them and then it became a natural part of the process of this album.

To release a VC special has been planned for quite some time and that also feels very rewarding, to give back a little to a community that has given me a lot of entertainment and interesting dialogue. Wolfspell Records have entered now in the end, and there will also be a tape released in fall from a Canadian label that are just starting up (follow Höstblod on Facebook if you are interested in updates). I am eternally grateful to these guys for getting my music out there.

Vinyl Compvlsion in particular are known for their limited edition clandestine variants and ‘Mörkrets Intåg’ has been bestowed with a gorgeous bone white. How does someone get their hands on one of these rare gems?

If you are a member of VC you can order that one from the VC cartel or from distributing members in the group. We have copies available in Germany, Denmark, Canada, US, Holland and by me in Sweden, plus on the Le Narthécophore bigcartel. The regular black is also available by most of these people and by Not Kvlt Records in the US. Or, simply private message Höstblod on Facebook.

Also packaged in the special edition are some unique photographs taken by you. I love this kind of personal detail, what was the thought behind putting these in?

– Regarding the photos I thought it would be a nice gesture towards the listener, to add something a bit personal since it is a very personal recording. The photos are from a lot of of places, for example the village where my mother grew up. And I also thought about getting the message out there that if you want to know something about the photo that goes along with your copy of ‘Mörkrets Intåg’, just send Höstblod a message on Facebook and I will do my best to explain the thoughts and whereabouts of that photo.

While researching this, I made the odd discovery that Höstblod has joined the ranks of those with the dubious honour of being blacklisted from Metal Archives for being “not metal enough”. Clearly they haven’t actually listened to the album; the title track and ‘Tystnaden’ for example are both some of the finest black metal you’ll hear this year. I’m sure it doesn’t faze you in the slightest, but what the hell is going on there?

– Well, this project has been quite secret and under the radar, so it just might be that no-one has bothered adding it yet. Personally I don’t care how you label my music.

After all this, what lies on the horizon for Höstblod? Any new recordings in the works yet?

– Well after this I thought that I would never be able to muster the energy to do something like this again. It has been exhausting, physically and mentally. But music is starting to grow in my head again, so in some way it probably forces its way out.

Sincerest thanks for your time and the incredible music, Johan. Any final words?

– Thank you to all you fine people that understands the beauty and darkness of Höstblod.

/Johan

~

Purchase Höstblod‘s ‘Mörkrets Intåg’ on vinyl from Le Narthécophore here, Vinyl Compvlsion here, or digitally from Bandcamp here.

Support Höstblod:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

The Blood of Life – An Interview with Helgafell

“At a time where cultural, historical and environmental values and heritage are often forgotten or ignored, the attempt must be made to resew what has been disregarded…”

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I’ve spoken of this before, but once again: it’s not hard to tell when a project has integrity. You can just feel when the artist responsible for it believes in their message. Listening through ‘Landvaettir’, the debut atmospheric/pagan black metal album by Helgafell and sole work of UK man Feigsfar, you can hear in each note and every word that he has poured his heart and soul into his creation. The Pagan atmospheres and themes are sincere and give extra depth to its resonance; this man is living what he speaks of and it informs his art in a beautiful and compelling way. This IS the man and his beliefs. This is his life.

Originally released digitally back in March, it’s not hard to recognize the strength, quality and potential of this debut once you hear it and one who immediately did was Mark at the great Fólkvangr Records, who is now bestowing upon it the lavish tape treatment it deserves and aiding in spreading the word of Helgafell to the masses. The tape drops tomorrow (in a limit of 50, so sign up for an email notification here if you don’t want to miss out), and ahead of its release we were fortunate enough to grab a few words with Feigsfar, the man behind it all. Read on below.

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Greetings Feigsfar! I hope you are well, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Your debut album ‘Landvaettir’ was released digitally a couple of months ago now. Are you happy with the album and how it has been received?

– Hello, thanks for your questions, I am glad to hear you enjoyed the album. I am happy with the feedback I have received overall. It’s been a long time coming for me to finally release an album of my music after playing for around 10 years, so it’s a good feeling. I am hoping to have used this first release as a primary stepping stone towards getting my foot in the door as a Black Metal musician and musician in general. I have learnt my way along throughout the writing and recording process, as well as the communicative nature of having a solo project. YouTube channels such as Atmospheric Black Metal Albums, Metal Vault, Pagan Music Albums and Symphonic Black Metal Albums have all released my album on their channels, so I have been pleasantly surprised. I have received a lot of support so far and I look forward to working on more music for the future.

Helgafell is solely your work, and sounds remarkably accomplished for a debut. Can you shine a little light upon your musical beginnings and the origins of the project for us?

– My musical beginnings were primarily drums and guitar as a young teenager, which then evolved into any instrument I could get my hands on that I liked the sound of. Going from more mainstream metal, I quickly found my way into Death Metal and Black Metal as a mid/late teen. Since then, at the age of 24, I have stuck to enjoying those genres as well as Jazz, Blues, Classical and especially Folk!

The origins of Helgafell started in about mid 2017 when I decided to do a Black Metal project based on important issues I hold dear and around a solid theme. I created the project from within the spare room of my flat and therefore in the comfort of my own environment, where I felt I was able to comfortably express what I wanted to convey in the music. The primary goal for this first release was to create an atmospheric Black Metal sound with themes based around Heathenism, Nature, Environmentalism, Heritage and Autonomy.

Given that you alone play all instruments on the album, what is your composition process like? When do you know it’s time to work on Helgafell?

– My composition process always starts with me humming a riff in my head that I come up with when I’m at work, or out on a walk in the woods. It seems to happen easier away from home than at home. I think for me, being out of the house allows my mind to think more freely and come up with something I can take back to my writing and recording area. The composing itself is always done firstly on Guitar Pro 5, as I think it is a fantastic platform to write down the skeleton of your songs to refer back to and add to. Actual recording on DAWs (I use Cubase), isn’t done until the actual recording process later on.

Personally, my favourite thing about the album is your use of deep, affecting melody such as the plaintive single notes featuring in the first section of opener ‘The Envious Deed’ and then recurring throughout. This may sound a little odd but I find it pulls similar strings within me as older doom like early Katatonia or Paradise Lost. That feeling draped elegantly throughout your stunning and robust pagan black metal is simply wonderful, packing a huge, emotional yearning for times gone by and places not yet reached. It’s clear this is a very personal album; what do you yourself take from it or feel when you listen back to it?

– A lot of compliments there, thank you! I like to think I have released somewhat of a unique album, with influences of more than just a few bands in there. One of the main things I take from the album when listening back is the reoccurring melodic parts as my intention was to add thin, treble-based layers of melody that stuck out in the mix and gave a nice contrast to the rest of the heavier, distorted sound.

Ryo of Pure Wrath did a fantastic job of the mixing and mastering as well, and that’s also something I always remember whenever I put the album on.

You can also tell the lyrics are deeply intertwined with/expressive of your own beliefs and philosophies; reverent tales of Norse mythology like ‘Discovery and Sacrifice’ which speaks of Odin‘s discovery of the Runes and the god “sacrificing himself to himself”. How important is Norse Mythology and the old ways to you, and how do they feature in your life?

– As a Pagan, (and Norse Paganism being of a big thing for me) I have always gained inspiration from the philosophies, teachings, and ways that that specific branch of Paganism offers.

Aspects such as the Nine Noble Virtues and the Havamal stanzas are things I always relate back to in life to gain a better understanding of how to approach situations and better myself in life.

I will always believe that there is a lot that Europeans can learn from the old ways that can help to benefit them as individuals and others around them, as well as helping them to improve the areas around them and to ensure sustainability and resourcefulness within the things they do. My passion for Norse Mythology and beliefs are one of the concepts that made it significantly easier for me to write about naturally.

On the other hand, you also have tracks like the disturbing ‘Lifeblood’. In particular, can you tell us a little about the themes this song touches on and your thoughts on this?

– I consider Lifeblood to be the most ‘Black Metal’ song of the album, and it definitely the most raw. The theme for this song is based around humanity draining Earth’s resources, so I thought the title to be fitting as well as the relentlessness of the riffs to bode well with the overall emotions of the song. The actions of humanity have for a long time been an emotional thorn in my side, as I have found the stubborn ignorance of many people to be mentally draining as well as somewhat hopeless. I intended to express this within this song and I hope it came across!

Correct me if I’m wrong but the name “Helgafell” refers to the holy mountain in Iceland of the same name, where it is said not only Guðrún Ósvífrsdóttir’s grave is located but also the gateway to the afterlife, and if you pilgrimage to the top without looking back, will have three wishes granted. Why did this particular mountain speak to you so? Have you ever visited, or are you planning to make the pilgrimage?

– The mountain of Helgafell was a location that stuck out to me; from the beliefs, to the location, to the aesthetics. It is a location I intend to one day visit and indeed make the same pilgrimage to! It’s not the biggest mountain, and it’s not in the most beautiful, forest-filled landscape, but the simplicity of it and the integrity of the beliefs based around it (as well as the name of course) was more than enough for me to want to name this project after it in its honour! (I was happy to see it wasn’t taken either!)

After being self-released digitally last year, Fólkvangr Records is giving ‘Landvaettir’ the beautiful cassette treatment it deserves. To paraphrase a quote I have seen from label owner Mark, your album “pretty much sums up” what he’s trying to do with the label both “musically and aesthetically”. How do you feel about that, and what has it been like working with Mark and Fólkvangr?

– Mark has been fantastic with his show of enthusiasm, honour and support towards my project. I was delighted to see the artists involved in his previous releases and was more than happy to work with him. He doesn’t ask for money and puts a lot of time and effort into his work, and I feel that shows. I’m thoroughly looking forward to the tape release and to add Helgafell to his list of artists.

I was honoured when he spoke of my project fitting into his plethora of artists and his vision so well. I can only say thank you to him for his support thus far!

The album has undergone a cover art change for the physical release. Both are fantastic, can you tell us a little about both the original Fran Shum artwork and the new, more classically styled cover?

– I have previously worked with Fran on a death metal project a few years ago. She had drawn up and nearly finished a fantastic, gory impalement-filled piece which unfortunately wasn’t used, due to me and the vocalist falling out! Since then, I made it a primary goal to have her art work on at least one of my releases. She is young, and naturally gifted as an artist with a sub-conscious flare-filled vision. Her artwork I felt worked very well for the mp3 and hopefully CD release. For the tapes, Mark was going with a general artistic theme specific to the couple of tapes coming out at the time, and we conversed about using different art for the cassette version. After pondering for a while, I decided that it was common for many bands to have at least 2 different art works for various formats of release, and the art he chose I felt was simple yet darkly elegant and aesthetically worked much better for the size of a cassette.

In my research for this piece, I stumbled across your sizeable Bandcamp collection. There are some solid gems in there; are there any recent releases in particular we should check out that have either inspired or affected you in any way, through the creation of ‘Landvaettir’ or otherwise?

– I have many fantastic albums that I have purchased through Bandcamp which have in some way influenced me in the creation of my debut album, as well as in the present and I’m sure future.

Just to name a few: Rur – ‘Rur‘, Blencathra – ‘These Bones Became The Roots of The Forest‘, Beorn’s Hall – ‘Mountain Hymns‘, Ildra – ‘Edelland‘, Pure Wrath/Onirism Split – ‘Endless Journey‘, Hermóđr – ‘The Howling Mountains‘, Grimoire – ‘L’aorasie des spectres reveurs‘.

Lastly, aside from being an excellent album in its own right, listening through ‘Landvaettir’ you can’t help but feel that this is only the beginning. What comes next for Helgafell? Are there plans for a follow up record?

– In terms of a follow up, I am hoping to get the bulk of an EP recorded for the remainder of this year, as well as perhaps a split written with Blencathra. We’ll have to wait and see! Ideas are always flowing, so that’s always good.

Once again, sincerest thanks for your time Feigsfar, it’s been a pleasure. Any final words?

Thank you for the interview, as well as yours and everyone else’s continuing support!

~

Purchase Helgafell‘s ‘Landvaettir’ on cassette from Fólkvangr Records here and a digital copy from their own Bandcamp here.

Support Helgafell:

~

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Fear & Loathing in Traralgon East – An Interview with Vahrzaw

“Old, bitter, late to parties and with one foot in an early grave…”

…So says the press release for ‘Husk’, the latest and third full-length album overall from Aussie bastards Vahrzaw. Some bands might be a little put out by that description, but Vahrzaw are not your average band: They’ve just celebrated their 26th year of existence, play the type of ripping riff-loaded old-school atomic black death that could level a small town, and do not give one single fuck what you or anyone else thinks. Consisting of esteemed axe wielder Scott Williams (ex-Elegeion, ex-Army Corpse), throatsman/bass general George Van Doorn and master skin pulveriser Brandon Gawith (Eskhaton, Hobbs Angel of Death), I had the dubious fortune of getting all three members to sit down at the same time to talk shit about… Well, everything really. The result is something… Special? Read on below to see for yourself. It may be my favourite thing published on BMD yet.

“Tired of trends and half-hearted ‘extreme metal’? Want ugly music, for ugly people, by ugly people? Then dive into the 36 throttling minutes that is ‘Husk’ and hail the legacy that is VAHRZAW!”

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Hails Vahrzaw! Hope you’re all well. Your new third full-length ‘Husk’ is finally out through Sweden’s Blood Harvest Records. How does it feel that this thing is finally seeing some air?

GVD: It feels like that time we broke down on our tour of Antarctica and had to “keep warm”; something’s not quite right.

SW: Definitely won’t fall for that again. Well, I think relieved is the word I would use. Should’ve been out last year. It’s been complete since August 2017. I’m not too sure what the delay has been. You can tell where we are on their totem pole of significance.

BG: Get fucked.

The first two teaser tracks were great, black death assaults both heavily riff-driven and old school as fuck. A natural follow on from the excellent ‘Twin Suns and Wolves Tongues‘, and possibly even more violent. For those yet to hear the whole thing: is this what they can expect from the rest of the album, or is it packed with ballads and yearning emotional atmospheres?

GVD: Thanks. It’s all about the riffs these days. We’re the John West of Blackened Death Metal – it’s the riffs Vahrzaw rejects that makes Vahrzaw the best. Sadly, there are no ballads. I keep saying “If Primordial got away with doing a god-awful ballad in 1993, then we can do one now. It’s 2018! People are open-minded.” But, Scott refuses.

SW: Ballads are for poser wimps and symphonic power metal fans… who are poser wimps too. Yeah, I think this one is more focused in its aggression. It has to supersede the preceding record. I’m not a big fan of emotional atmospheric-type black metal… or emotions in general, which can be difficult in this age when everyone is a fucking sook.

BG: Get fucked.

Press play on ‘Fiends in the Ether’ for example and you’re immediately struck by how good it sounds while it rips your face off. Where was the album produced, are you personally happy with the sound?

GVD: The album was recorded in a studio in Gippsland (i.e., Spectrum Studios) and mixed in our Producer’s studio. I like how it sounds (e.g., it’s heavy and clear given everything that’s going on), but I was fighting off a lung infection during recording so there are vocal parts that I’m not overly impressed by.

SW: Yeah, it’s good. We run on a very tight budget so we don’t have the luxury of time. It is what it is. The pre-conceived notions I had before recording are forgotten. The guitars are nice and clear without drowning anything out. There’s one shit note bend… but fuck it eh. We’ve been working with Wayne and Brett at Spectrum for over a decade now. They’ve run a live music TV show out of the same studio the last few years.

BG: Get fucked.

What was the writing and recording process like? Has it changed a great deal from the early material, or even from ‘Twin Suns…’?

GVD: Writing takes a lot longer these days. We used to just throw riffs together, but we don’t do that anymore. Lyrics are the same. I wasn’t too concerned in the early days, but now my goal is to try to write better songs than on the previous release. Scott writes most of the music so he can describe his process.

SW: We’re better in the studio. We rehearse everything to perfect prior to it. A budget forces that line of attack. Writing… it’s a longer process. I try to weed out overly long parts (*coughs* Enslaved) or excess rubbish. Make the tracks more concise and punchy. Long songs are boring. Look at Iron Maiden… they have an 18min song about hot air balloons for fucks sake. Hot air balloons!! Most of the riffs are written with a looper these days, which makes arranging more interesting as I can split parts up and write new parts for parts that where once part of the parts I originally split. But in essence, it’s still me and a guitar sitting in my lounge writing riffs, exactly like the ’90s. I get a lot of ideas on the road in the middle of the night and I’m usually writing something down after work at 2am.

BG: Getting fucked up.

Taking into account a couple of line-up shuffles and name changes in the early days and then a few years hiatus, you fellas have been at it for over 25 years now. When you were fresh faced young ruffians, did you ever think you’d be still doing this decades later?

GVD: No.

SW: 26 now since forming. I think 19 active… and no.

BG: I wasn’t even a sperm cell.

You guys must have some stories after so long in the game. What’s the craziest thing you’ve had happen or seen in your past quarter century of raising hell?

GVD: I once saw a YouTube video of a rabbit fighting a snake. It was pretty crazy.

SW: I saw a giant seagull murder a pigeon in Venice… right there in front of me. That was as intense as the gelato I was eating at the time. We once hired a girl to dress as a cat and piss into… no, wait, that was Mötley Crüe. In all honesty, I’m quite reclusive and we don’t tour or play live often so there isn’t much to tell. I hate travelling.

BG: Seeing some dude slice his arms with a hunting knife then snorting speed from it.

I’ve heard whispered talk that you’re actually a band of intellectuals. Can you confirm or deny these rumours?

GVD: I can confirm that we deny these slanderous allegations.

SW: If ‘intellectual’ means watching Netflix and not regular shitty poor-person TV, then yes.

BG: Get fucked.

I believe your previous drummer Ben was also legally blind, which I find amazing. Did this present any particular challenges at any point?

GVD: He was legally blind, but he had an eye-transplant. An anonymous gorilla that was put down for inappropriately touching a zoo guest donated its eyes. As for challenges, it was always risky letting him drive to gigs while Scott and I got drunk in the back of the car.

SW: Fucking hell. Risky alright. It was a calculated risk though, being intellectuals and all that. The potential factors at play were discussed beforehand. What a whimsical hellride.
…and yes, moving that drum kit around was a real fucker.

BG: I’m blind all the time, does that count?

Ben was replaced in 2012 by Gawith. Did he have to go through any hazing rituals or perform any feats of strength to make the cut?

GVD: The standard. Take the drumstick up to the logo. Note: it’s been brought to my attention that some people may not know what this means. In the olden days, some young ladies wanted to get backstage to meet their favourite band member (it happens all the time at BM gigs). To do so, the road crew would politely ask these young women to insert a drumstick into a particular orifice. If the woman could take the drumstick to the logo, she got to go backstage. So, I’m saying that Brandon had to insert a drumstick into an orifice to get into the band. Explaining jokes makes them less funny, which (dangerously) assumes this joke WAS funny.

SW: I’d never heard that. “Can you make your mouth into a perfect circle” was the line I used… well would have… if metal had groupies and I wasn’t also a blithering idiot. Brandon is a gun on the kit. Kills it. He’s doing the last Hobbs shows soon and has a new album out with Eskhaton too. Ben is now a lawyer, the true dark side.

Who is the main lyricist in the band and where do they draw inspiration from, particularly for the themes present on ‘Husk’? And fuck it, I have to ask: Is ‘The Epitaph of Garmonbozia (Part I & II)’ a Twin Peaks reference?

GVD: I am. I wouldn’t trust the other two to write a review of a Grug book, let alone lyrics that I want to sing. I used to sing about Satan, ghosts, forests (i.e., very stock-standard BM topics), but now my lyrics can be about anything. If I think an idea is good, I’ll explore it. Husk has songs about TV shows, books, religion, personal struggles, historical figures, and cancer. As for Epitaph, the short answer is “yes”. It’s a reference to Twin Peaks. That was Nick’s idea. I thought it was clever.

SW: I’m not sure anyone would get the Grug reference anymore. I no longer write any lyrics. I was never any good at it.

GVD: Did you just call me old? I’ll get Antifa to boycott your shows… wait… that won’t work out well for me.

‘Epitaph…’ also features Nick from the excellent Greytomb lending his wretched screams to proceedings. How did you snag his services?

GVD: I’ve wanted to collaborate with someone outside the band (i.e., try something different) for a while now. We’d done a gig with Greytomb and we know Jack (guitars). So, I approached Nick. He was interested and so we bounced ideas/lyrics around until we were both happy.

BG: Get fucked.

GVD: Insightful. I’d almost forgotten you were here.

Speaking of vox, Van Doorn, you have some pretty versatile throatwork going on. Are there any vocalists in particular you’ve been inspired by over the years?

GVD: Maniac and Attila from Mayhem and Hat and Pest from Gorgoroth are favourites in BM. Old Chris Barnes is a favourite DM singer.

SW: Is he really? I didn’t know that. Barnes went to shit. He’s bloody awful. I think our older stuff had a real Sorhin/Setherial/Burzum-type vibe to the vocals. All the early ’90s demo days.

BG: The actors from 2 girls 1 cup.

GVD: Actors?! You’re setting a low bar for the use of that term. And yes Scott, Chris on Tomb is awesome. As for our older stuff, I (repeatedly) had people tell me I sounded like Jeff Walker (Carcass).

That cover artwork is great too, an evocative piece by Luciana Nedelea that matches what I’ve heard of the music perfectly. How did the collaboration come about? Were you fans of her work before you made contact?

SW: That was my doing. I had spotted her work online through various pages and checked her out. She does quite varied kinds of art so I picked an example and forwarded the basic concept that we fleshed out. It’s quite different from the original idea (a real emaciated human figure in the darkness) but I really love it. She’s since done work for Dark Funeral & The Satanic Temple plus countless others and it’s all quality stuff. Recommended. It was also a continuation of no digital art as it reeks now. Looks dated already. The booklet art is all original pieces from Jon Ernst too, a fellow Aussie.

The label press release states “VAHRZAW have really had enough of the bullshit associated with producing albums, and even EPs. Thus, ‘Husk’ will likely be the band’s final recording”. This can’t be true. Is Vahrzaw done, are you hanging up your boots?

GVD: No. The label asked us to write that just as we were wrapping up recording. We’re not major fans of each other after recording; there’s something about 5 guys being trapped in a small room for weeks on end that puts us on edge. As such, that write up reflects our animosity. We’re actually working on new material now… but that’s another story.

SW: The studio doesn’t bother me. It’s the fucking emails everywhere to do art and layouts for the various formats and label chat and mixing and organising time. It’s an arduous bore, especially if the communication is vastly one-sided.
That blurb pretty much sums it up… there was another one sent later that was ‘highly intellectual’ but they went with the humorous one, so fuck it.

The CD is currently out through Blood Harvest Records in the EU/worldwide, while you’ve just received your copies for all the slavering Australian maniacs. How has it been working with Blood Harvest? Any news on the vinyl version?

GVD: My mum always said “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. I don’t have anything nice to say.

SW: Vinyl for HUSK and TWIN SUNS is on the cards to the tune of 300 copies each but I’ve heard nothing about it. The layouts were completed along with the album last August, so who knows. The album was actually written for vinyl, 4 tracks and a short clean outro per side.

All the pressing plants are backed up from big labels cashing in on the vinyl trend with the 500th press of a Bowie record & other assorted shit we don’t need more of. I think there’s a picture disc of two Fawlty Towers episodes at this years record store day. Who the fuck would buy that?!

Hopefully ours is out soon but I doubt it seeing as it took 9 months to print the CD. Ask Blood Harvest.

‘Husk’ isn’t the only fresh chunk of Vahrzaw that’s been excreted of late: Your ’96 demo ‘Black Resplendent Waters‘ has copped a well-deserved tape re-release through Swedish/German label Cirsium Kollektivet, complete with an art upgrade from the great Jeroen Van Valkenburg. Are you pleased with how this turned out? What’s it like having the old recordings in the spotlight again?

GVD: I haven’t seen it yet.

SW: Looks great. Jeroen is a legend. You are partly to blame for the re-release as I found the label through this very page and just asked if they’d be interested. Turns out it was a “yes”. He was fantastic to work with. Got the job done quick. As for old tracks back in physical form…*shrugs*.

Time for some opinions. The band was formed in the thick of Black Metal’s arguably best and most fertile period. What do you think of the Black Metal “scene” these days, and how do you see that things have changed? Is it for the better?

GVD: Honestly, I don’t have much interest in the scene. On the odd occasion we play a gig or catch up with friends from the 90s, it seems to me that the scene in Australia cycles. As an example, when we first started out, everyone had to be ‘tougher’ than everyone (e.g., we’re the most extreme BM band ever). Then people chilled the fuck out. Then the pissing contest is back and people think they’re impressing people by claiming to be extreme. Dull!

SW: There’s too many bands all doing the same concepts as 25 years ago minus the mystique and originality. But that’s music. New ingredients get introduced to an older formula. Slight changes over time. Is the scene any better? No idea. It’s certainly more saturated though. Doesn’t seem to bother anyone, people are happy with regurgitated death and black metal. Don’t fix what isn’t broken, I guess. There’s still an abundance of theatricality and lame lyrics which is always good for a laugh. Besides those ‘anti-fascist’ dickheads trying to ruin a few shows with threats of violence, y’know, like a fascist group would, I think the scene is relatively sane. I’m not sure anyone cares what a 41yo male thinks anyway…they should though because we’re clearly the better generation.

BG: Most BM bands in Aust are hipsters or play shit raw BM in the style of shitty Darkthrone. Hail to those who venture into the more extreme and violent side of BM.

SW: Old Darkthrone is fucking ace.

With the advancement of home/portable recording technology and software, it’s increasingly easy to churn out albums in your bedroom, or even on your phone. As a result, there are more projects out there than ever. What do you guys think of this phenomenon?

GVD: I think we’d be hypocrites to criticise people for recording in their bedroom. Back when we had absolutely no money, we used to record demos onto a tape recorder. Now we have slightly more than $0, we’d prefer to record in a studio. But, other people can do whatever they want. I don’t have the energy to care.

SW: I have so many tracks by so many bands on my PC… I hear a bit of music and think “What a magnificent riff, who is this band?”…so I check it out and it’s us! Haha! Happens a lot. The PC recording gear is fantastic now, so why not do it at home if you can?! A bit more effort than a TDK 60 and one mic and running off 50 tapes one at a time on high-speed dubbing… but far less KVLT.

Off the top of your head: the best black metal band currently active, and the band you think should give up and pack it in?

GVD: Mayhem. Behemoth are good too (but probably more Blackened DM). Darkthrone should give up. So should Satyricon. Rubbish albums are destroying their legacies. Note: Please send all hate mail to Scott.

SW: Best… don’t know. I like elements of a lot of bands but most black metal is pretty boring. I will say that 95% of it (black and death metal) shouldn’t ever be pressed to vinyl. It’s A-grade horseshit. There ARE really good creative ones with unreal musicians though. A few bands spinning of late (of various genres) are Deitus, Void Omnia, Belus, Virus, Tchornobog, Beastmilk, Squarepusher, Aphex Twin/AFX, Frank Zappa, Rope Sect, Extortion, Discharge… all good stuff. Band to call it a day. Satyricon… awful. Such disappointing output since Rebel. Not black metal, but I’m glad Slayer are packing it in.

BG: Dead Congregation, unrelenting sonic power. Bands that should pack it in are all the shit bands with beards and flannies!

GVD: What’s wrong with beards?

SW: He can’t grow one yet.

And finally, school the kids: What is true black metal?

GVD: Ha. Trve BM bands will probably claim we’re not trve BM. So, I’m not sure my opinion is worth listening to.

SW: Don’t know. The opposite of what is trendy?! I think it’s moved on from the misanthropic nihilism and existentialism to some degree… but maybe that’s the crux of the genre in its true form?! They certainly aren’t stabbing people anymore. It could also be leather, spikes, and beer. A guy once told me he couldn’t listen to us because “we didn’t hate jews, Australia was a jew cesspool and black metal is ‘white’ music”. We probably play exactly the type of music we play to stick it to cunts like that. The opposite of what people like or the music that they want me to play. But… I’m 41, I honestly don’t give a shit.

BG: Anything that is new and creative and sounds tough! Not the Norwegian rip-offs and clones!

Cheers gents, sincerest thanks for taking the time to speak to us and suffering through yet another bloody interview. Any last words?

GVD: Thanks for the interview. Buy our album you cheap fucks. And to all the zines out there, you’re not getting free copies. And no, we won’t pay 120 Euros to appear in your piece of shit zine. Lots of love. George.

SW: What he said… plus, you can grab the HUSK album (on CD or digital) plus any older recordings straight off our bandcamp or message us on Facebook. Vinyl should be out later in the year. Should. Hassle the label about it. Thanks Aaron. Keep your eyes peeled for giant murderous seagulls.
PS: …and a big ‘get fucked cunt’ to the pleb that runs Third Eye Cinema.

BG: GET ETERNALLY FUCKED.

~

Purchase Vahrzaw‘s ‘Husk’ on CD from Blood Harvest Records here and the label Bandcamp here, and grab a copy direct from the band with a bonus 25th anniversary guitar pick here.

Support VAHRZAW:

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Ab Absurdo (In Sterquilinus Invenitur) – An Interview with Wolok

Slowly we ruin and spoil what we designed

Surely we wreck and crush the flesh of our flesh

Grind the bones of our bones

Dissolve the spirit of our spirit

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Warning: Wolok do not create music for the weak at heart. Their albums are not safe places. The turgid madness and gibbering insanity within can only be described as an assault on the mind, not through intensity but through channeling the surreal, absurd and hideous; challenging and in opposition of everything.

I discovered this for the very first time when their latest symphony of sickness was heaved splattering upon my doorstep towards the end of last year. One listen to their side of split with Rotting Heaven ‘The Anatomy of Madness’ and I was hooked; spiralling down the wretched vortex of their discography until I wasn’t even sure what was real anymore. To help make sense of it all I asked main vessel and conduit for their discordant delights Eymeric Germain, holed up in his native habitat of Luxembourg, if he could provide any further insight. Having given grotesque birth to the project back in 2003 alongside vocalist LucLhükkmer’thz” Mertz plus being wholly responsible for the name Wolok when he utilised a moment of trance-like automatic writing to scrawl the word in logo format; who better to attempt to explain the lunacy? Thankfully, he obliged, the resulting conversation both restoring some semblance of my sanity and simultaneously making it much, much worse.

It should go without saying that I’m now a huge fan of their work and cannot recommend it highly enough to fans of the unconventional and downright disturbing; so without further unnecessary or woefully inadequate words, prepare as best you can and read on below to tumble scrabbling and flailing into the seething black hole that is Wolok.

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Hello Eymeric! Sincerest thanks for speaking with us. So, for some unfortunate reason I’d never heard the sweet sounds of WOLOK before last year’s split with ROTTING HEAVEN, ‘The Anatomy of Madness’. I’ve since traversed the warped, evil landscapes of your discography and aside from absolutely loving it, I have to ask… What the hell is going on in your heads?

– Your words of support and wisdom suit us right to the heart. It is always rewarding to know we can still thrill new fans with our music, even somewhat belatedly. As you traversed the evil landscapes of our discography and now know every single note of each song, I guess you noticed there is indeed a whirlwind of mess and noise spiralling in our heads. I cannot speak for the other two members in the band, but in my case, being the project’s mastermind, I go into a trance-like state when I lock myself in the room and compose. Writing music for WOLOK is like to be blind for a few hours. It is like I cut myself off from the world and explore unconscious territories, reaching the inner spheres of chaos and savagery. I am a very calm, poised and serene person in everyday life, but when I go into that trance-like WOLOK shit, I get caught up in subconscious fear, anger, sorrow, anxiety, extravagance, lunacy and absurdity. Hence the bizarre tunes.

Being a little abstract: what would you say WOLOK is, what is its purpose, and how did it come to exist? Is it the same beast as it was fifteen years ago?

– My only purpose with WOLOK is to basically express my creativity, my vision of dismal music, my own interpretation of dark arts and, of course, to give free rein to my bleakest urges. WOLOK is not a band per se; it is more a collective studio project. Obviously, our artistic approach has progressed over time, but you will always have that twisted governing principle on all releases. Whatever the release, you should be immediately able to say “yes of course, this is WOLOK”. Musically, WOLOK is unpredictable. ‘Universal Void‘ (2003) was a primitive and crude black hole, ‘Servum Pecus‘ (2006) and ‘Caput Mortuum‘ (2009) were convoluted, tortuous efforts… while our most recent works (‘The Silver Cord‘ EP in 2013 and ‘The Anatomy Of Madness‘ split album in 2017) head more towards blackened doom territories. The beast has evolved over the years but the ugliness is intact.

Much of your work often sounds like a variety of deteriorating mental and physical deformities given audio form. What is your writing process like? Do you have any premeditated idea or purpose in mind when you begin to write, or is it more of a cathartic channeling of whatever demented energies need to escape at the time?

– The way I write music is not standard. It is mainly based on improvisation. The blackness springing from the strings is spontaneous and uncontrolled. I actually always worked like that. Typically, I will spend three or four full days writing and recording music, partially or completely cut off from the outside world. Then Cypher will take the lead to arrange and enhance the whole magma, just before Luc pukes the words of madness. Then it can happen I do not play any instrument anymore for one or two years… until the next ritual.

As opposed to the usual satanic or occult themes, in both sound and word your overall body of work almost seems a wild, nihilistic and negative celebration of chaos, absurdity and utter hatred. Would you say this resembles your personal philosophies and thoughts on humanity?

– I am someone discreet and down-to-earth. But the lyrics reflect really personal views on the meaning of life. There is a strong parallel between the absurdity of existence and our meandering, sinuous tunes. I am not willing to elaborate a bit more on that, since my lyrics are entirely open to self interpretation.

Heading back to the 2017 split with ROTTING HEAVEN: that was fucking mental and probably bears the least resemblance to “standard” black metal of anything you’ve done so far, which is saying something. How did it come about? Were you happy with it?

– Definitely more than satisfied. That split album is fantastic and sounds exactly the way I wanted to, exploring the richness of Black Arts through different prisms. I agree that our approach gets some distance from usual Black Metal as you say, but this is just WOLOK’s own interpretation of Black Metal. It is deviant. Hard to predict. Out of control. Unreliable. The three songs are so different from each other; I think we have now reached a multifaceted depth. ‘The Murky Waters Of Life’ sounds, as its name suggests… fucking murky. The song’s structure is so turbid and disconcerting. Then ‘Tremors’ will lead you into the oblivion of dementia, with a grandiose doom finale. ‘Skull Gnawer’ will eventually destabilize everyone with a basic, repetitive and unusually melodic construction, opening the gates of hope and transcendence.

I believe the split was mixed and mastered in 2015. Why the two year delay before release? Pressing plant woes?

– There were no pressing plant issues. Death Knell Productions is a really small underground entity and they offer quality releases with an admirable passion. Their dedication is boundless but those dudes also have regular life and jobs and shit, and of course they cannot always stick to their initial reverse scheduling plan. The delay was considerable, but who cares…

You’ve worked with a few labels throughout the life of the band, but the last couple of releases have been through Death Knell Productions. How has it been working with them?

– As mentioned above, they’re a small Russian structure devoted to underground black filth. I got in touch with Shamil back in 2013 and we quickly clinched a deal to release ‘The Silver Cord’ EP on Death Knell Productions. Their back catalogue is utterly brilliant and I robustly recommend you to check VTTA, ROTTING HEAVEN, HUMAN SERPENT, DRAUG and THE PALE HAND.

Do you listen to many artists that you consider truly experimental, avant-garde or just plain boundary pushing, and have any influenced WOLOK at all?

– I listen to so many musical genres. I’m open to any kind of music, provided that it tugs at my heartstrings. But when it comes to experimental & avant-garde music, the artistic palette is infinite. I mean, what does “experimental” signify? What does “avant-garde” signify? The definition is complex as it gathers countless artistic flairs. My favourite bands are VIRUS, ULVER, ZEAL & ARDOR, SHINING (from Norway – not the Swedish pricks), KING CRIMSON, OXYPLEGATZ, HAIL SPIRIT NOIR, ARCTURUS, ORANSSI PAZUZU, JAMBINAI and incalculable others. I could drop names for hours. But I think there is no interaction between those reverenced influences and WOLOK as I do not pretend to equal the talent of those artists.

This is going back a few years, but I learned while researching this piece that you used to run Foedus Aeternus, the French ‘zine, label and distro. Why did you close that down? Would you do something like that again?

– We simply decided to stop all activities under Foedus Aeternus (magazine / label / distro) for personal reasons: lack of time, progressive dedication loss, etc. I have really good memories from that period and would definitely like to do something like that again if I was able to. I mean if I had free time again.

As far as I am aware, WOLOK has never been a live entity. What would it take for you to go down that route?

– WOLOK has never been a live entity. WOLOK will never be a live entity. We all live far from each other and never rehearse. We all have time-consuming jobs, we all have children, etc. Playing live as a band requires rigour… precision… sacrifices… blood! Just to show you we are definitely an atypical band: Luc (vocals) has never met Cypher (drums & arrangements) in person.

What’s next for WOLOK? And, if you’d be so kind as to throw a bone to all the fans of your twisted black vomit: any news on another full-length yet?

A new full-length album, ‘Fading Mirth And Dry Heaves’, is indeed in progress. It is composed of five new eccentric songs. At the time of writing this, Luc is recording all vocals parts. I am quite confident our fans will be discountenanced again. I wish the album could be released by the end of the year or early next year. Annihilation soon.

And lastly… Someone asks you to show them the definitive WOLOK track. What do you do?

– Tough question, but I think I would pick an insidious song called ‘Bitter Swill’ from the upcoming album. I think it perfectly depicts the essence of the contemporary WOLOK. You will understand what I mean when you listen to that song in a couple of months.

Sincerest thanks once again for your time and allowing us a glimpse into the madness. Any final words?

– Massive thanks for your support Aaron. Our devious cacophony will make your readers weaker everyday if they dare to dig our discography on our Bandcamp page: www.wolok.bandcamp.com.

~

Purchase Wolok‘s ‘The Anatomy of Madness’ split with Rotting Heaven on CD from Death Knell Productions here.

Support WOLOK:

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The End of All Pain – A Short Interview With Inner Suffering

You may recall Ukrainian one man depressive ambient project Inner Suffering from back in Bandcamp Misanthropy Volume 15. Well, since that last feature on the mesmerising shot of audio lithium that was ‘It’s All The Same In The End’, the prolific SadVoice has given painful birth to three more albums. One of which, February’s ‘Slow Dance on the Ashes of Failure’ (just released on CD through Share Your Pain Records) is especially notable for one particular reason: It marks what I believe to be the first time he has collaborated with another like-minded soul for his art. Furthermore, that soul is none other than Kimberlee (ex-vocalist of US cosmic black metal duo Synodic), who originally brought the project to my attention and who provided some words about it in the previous feature.

Reaching out to the reclusive SadVoice, I wondered what it was like to finally allow someone else to be part of his creation?

“Usually I’m glad that I work alone, but sometimes I wish there was someone to help me create things, because doing everything yourself could be exhausting,” he said. “Lack of ideas and such. Working with Kimberlee was very nice and easy, despite the distance and no idea of what this album would be.”

I bet. Kimberlee features on ‘Into Submission’, ‘Unhealthy Obsession Part 1’ and ‘Just A Memory’. Could a little light could be shed on the creative process between you both?

“I had only the name of an album and a couple of untitled instrumental tracks. Each of us wrote the lyrics on our own, without trying to combine and make it like one story or something, without concept, everything was personal. Well, she shared her lyrics in the process of writing, but I had no ideas at all. My lyrics came up suddenly. It all ended up like a story anyway. Like a dialog between us, even if we wrote about our own things, and I find it absolutely amazing. So yeah, our collaboration was definitely a good experience.”

Sounds like it.

“And by the way; there’s a plan to make a new project, where we will be working together.”

Excellent news, I’ll keep an ear out. Even from a very first listen, you can tell Inner Suffering is an intensely personal project. What does the project mean to its creator?

“A kind of therapy, maybe, I don’t know. Something like letting out the negativity to feel better, but it doesn’t work really, it only becomes captured in the music and I sometimes come back to it, so basically it never goes away, only stacks (actually it stacks even without music, lol). Can’t say I feel any good after finishing an album, but I enjoy the process of making them.”

Speaking of feelings, what do you hope for the listener to take away from the experience?

“I never really cared about how people would react, since it’s kind of a personal thing, but I always wanted to share feelings, spread the inner pain, to make music that will make you feel bad/sad/depressed if you want, but it won’t let you go. Something that you really enjoy listening to, but it makes you feel down. Paradox. Nice if someone could interpret it in his own way.” I definitely get that. “Also, I do it because I can’t do anything else in life.”

And you do it well, 31 releases and counting. Are you constantly creating? Why is this so?

“I just have too much free time. Too much time to keep drowning in thoughts about different things bothering me, like there’s no rest from this crap. Endless cycle of my negative mind that keeps me down. So I keep creating stuff, even when I don’t want to, because I see there’s too much already and it doesn’t feel right, but I have to. I simply can’t stop. Well, actually I may stop now for a bit, because I have no ideas at all. Anyway, time will tell.”

As it turns out, he wasn’t kidding about that last part. Since speaking to me he has released one more EP, entitled ‘Always Wrong’, described it on his Bandcamp page as “NOT black metal” and said this about it:

“This might be the end of this project, like no joke. I’m out of inspiration for anything, feeling terrible in general and my laptop is dying. So eksdee… I wish I was dying.”

If this does prove to be the twilight of the project, at least we’re left with a sizeable body of masterfully morose and beautifully flawed work to comfort us through despairing nights. Available for name-your-price download from Bandcamp, is it all really about to end? As the man himself says: Time will tell.

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Pick up ‘Slow Dance on the Ashes of Failure’ at name-your-price download from the Inner Suffering Bandcamp above, or on CD from Share Your Pain Records here.

Support Inner Suffering:

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The Nurturing Soil – An Interview With Beorn’s Hall

There’s a lot to be said for the old adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, and the same holds true for an album. When you first lay eyes on ‘Estuary’, the second full-length offering from US folk black metal warriors Beorn’s Hall, you may be forgiven for initially and inadvertedly being a little over-presumptuous: With the glorious painted cover art and weapons-laden logo vaguely reminiscent of Caladan Brood plus a Tolkien inspired project name to boot, thinking you were going to be in for a typically grandiose and bombastic slab of epic black metal is not an entirely outlandish conclusion to have arrived at.

Until, that is, you push play and the duo of Vulcan and Rognvaldr draw you into their richly textured world. Friends for life but formed as Beorn’s Hall in 2016 to create music inspired by their home of New Hampshire, the pair do paint with an “epic” base but utilise a palette and techniques that encompass much more. Irresistible shades of Bathory and stirring traditional metal/rock strains are prevalent throughout a great album that you’ll increasingly find packed with enjoyable surprises, and that’s also one of its major strengths: it is a great album. Each track serves as another unique step on the journey, a veritable cornucopia of styles and tones all tied together with consummate skill as a coherent whole, a melting pot of everything from Candlemass worship to the introspective Americana of ‘I Know You, Rider’.

Eschewing an overly polished production for a more authentic sound, there’s a raw, immediate life to proceedings. This thing sounds amazing, visceral yet austere all at once. The sound distorts at times but that only makes it better and comes across as the offspring of your favourite ’70s recordings and the kvltest of delicious lo-fi ’90s black and death atmospheres. I couldn’t get enough of it, so when the opportunity arose to ask a few questions of the gentlemen behind it all I had no real option but to jump at the chance.

Releasing this very day through the excellent Fólkvangr Records and Naturmacht Productions, there are no gilded thrones or fantastic beasts to be found here. This is real pagan life: spirit and survival, revelry and battle, blood and soil. So, check out the official clip for the title track ‘Estuary’, filmed in the misty marshes of New Hampshire and hands down my favourite track on the album with its irrepressible earworm riff and incredible energy; then read on as we speak to Vulcan and Rognvaldr about all things Beorn’s Hall. Hails.

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Greetings Vulcan and Rognvaldr, sincerest thanks for speaking with us! I hope you are both well. Your excellent second album ‘Estuary’ is coming soon through Naturmacht Productions and Fólkvangr Records. Are you happy with it overall, and in your words, what can people expect to hear from it?

VULCAN: Hello! Thanks for taking the time to interview us. We are very happy with this album, we feel it’s an improvement from ‘Mountain Hymns’ in every way.

ROGNVALDR: We went for a bit of a different production as you can tell. On ‘Mountain Hymns’ we did things very naturally, the drums and rhythm guitar were recorded live and we used a totally flat EQ on the whole album. I’m very pleased with how things came out this time. I was listening to a lot of
viking-era Bathory while writing the riffs, so people can expect a bigger more epic sound. We just wanted to create something more dynamic.

The album is heavily inspired by where you hail from: “The True Vinland” (the area of coastal North America explored by Norse Vikings), New Hampshire. For those of us who have never had the pleasure of visiting, what is it like over there and why is it such a source of inspiration to you?

V: I’ve always loved living in New Hampshire. We grew up in an area where the mountains and the ocean are about an hour drive from one another so it’s easy to find so much inspiration for this style of music, it is pretty natural.

R: Cheap booze and smokes, low taxes. What’s not to love?

The project was only formed in 2016, relatively recently considering you have your second full-length ready to go. How did you guys first meet and why did you decide to start Beorn’s Hall?

R: We actually met at age 3 in play school. We started playing death metal and grindcore together in 2003 but always talked about starting a black metal band. We both became very busy musically after high school so it wasn’t in the cards until 2016.

The album is gloriously adorned with a stunning Albert Bierstadt painting, whereas I believe the debut album’s cover art was painted by one of you. Both covers are spectacular, but why the decision to go with this particular piece of art this time?

V: That particular piece is something we discussed using as an album cover for years and we felt like we created something that would be fitting for it.

R: This painting just rules all around! It is just too awesome not to use. It is true I do oil paintings of this nature as well and painted the ‘Hymns’ cover. However, I am nowhere near this level. Maybe in a few more years I will be. It’s pretty funny that a lot of people think these paintings take eons to create but they only take a little less than an hour. If you watch Bill Alexander paint, he does the whole thing in about half an hour.

I love the sound overall, but especially the absolutely killer drums. Apparently you use a rather special kit, can you tell us a little about that? Were any other noteworthy instruments or recording techniques used on the album?

V: Yes! I have a 1970’s chrome over wood Slingerland kit that we used on this album. Nothing records quite like it. We figured an old school drum set should be used to record something so heavily influenced by the old school.

R: The bass was run clean which we believe sits better in the mix for the style. The guitar rhythms were dual tracked with a 57 offset on the speaker cone and a condenser about 6ft away at ear level for the atmosphere. The D’Angelico 12 string was run direct in with condenser off the sound hole. Keys were done on an early 90s shit Casio that runs on D batteries. Actually the same set of batteries from ‘Mountain Hymns’ last year haha.

Like your debut album ‘Mountain Hymns’, the whole thing could have been created in and ripped straight from the ’90s. Where was the album produced, did you guys take care of it all yourselves?

R: The album was recorded here at our studio “The Hall”. Vulcan and I have been in the recording game for 15 years now. Ever since we started making music together we have shared the same mindset which is, “Why pay someone else? We can do a great job by ourselves.” We know exactly what it should sound like. It would be a huge pain in the ass and waste of time to have someone else try to do it. We’ve spent the past 2 years building The Hall into a professional recording space. We’ve actually recorded a bunch of other bands too and offer our services to anyone. Just no shitty deathcore.

What was the writing process like this time around? Do you find each other easy to work with?

R: We’ve known each other for a long time and get along like brothers. 99% of the time we get along great and once in a while we want to strangle each other, just a little bit haha. Musically speaking, we are both on the same page and we both have the same idea for Beorn’s Hall. There is actually little communication about the music, Vulcan just knows what kind of drums would work over the riffs. Sometimes Vulcan will tell me “Get drunker, you need to channel your inner Fenriz for this vocal!” So I will. Sometimes I tell him “play this part a bit slower, like an evil Phil Rudd” and he will.

V: Typically we start with a base song that Rognvaldr has crafted,we’ll demo out the guitars and drums and then just go from there. Years of playing together has made for an extremely streamlined and easy writing process.

This will be your second release on Naturmacht Productions, and the first where Fólkvangr Records is involved. What are your thoughts on both labels, are you happy with the support?

V: Both labels have been absolute pleasures to work with. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Robert from Naturmacht as he was and still is a crucial element for this band and its beginnings. Folkvangr is great as well, I’m blown away by what Mark has accomplished in just a year. Needless to say we plan on sticking with these guys for the foreseeable future.

R: Robert from Naturmacht is the coolest guy. We seem to understand each other very well! He does an amazing job with the label and will even help us with designs when we become frustrated with things like artwork and layouts. Folkvanger has treated us very well too! Mark seems like a super cool guy and someone we would hang out and spin records with. It’s really nice to have someone who is committed to releasing cassettes only. I love cassettes and am looking forward to holding a copy of Estuary!

Listening through the myriad of different styles on the album, you guys clearly don’t listen to just black metal. Which audial delights have tickled your eardrums of late, and was there anything in particular that influenced you during the writing of ‘Estuary’?

R: Well metal music did come from hard rock so it’s only natural for us to pick up things from bands like Deep Purple, Rainbow, maybe even some NWOBHM and early speed metal. I like a lot of Allman Brothers and Dead too, so sometimes those mixolydian and major key modes come out which isn’t a bad thing. However, it must be done correctly or else you get this really weak Disneyland sounding black metal which I can’t get into. I think we achieved a really unique jam style segment on the end of “Dark Wood-Black Marsh”; it’s powerful yet a bit uplifting thanks to some Mixo modes. Hail Tony Iommi, Hail Dickey Betts!

V: Between the two us we have a large range of stuff we listen to but we tend to be a bit selective as to what to draw from for Beorn’s Hall. I feel when a band tries to represent every influence of every member it tends to become unfocused. We take our ‘extra’ influences from neo-folk, traditional metal, 70’s hard/progressive rock and blues.

The title track is such a stormer I almost threw myself out of the car when I heard it for the first time. From the incredibly physical riff that grips you full force, to the switch up into blistering black metal and that perfectly timed sword unsheathing… Magic. During the creative process, did you feel that magic and think “we’re on to something here”?

V: Thanks for the kind words. It’s my personal favorite song on the album. When I first heard Rognvaldr play that main riff I knew it was a choice slab of Candlemass-y goodness (we both fucking love Candlemass).

R: I am glad you like this song but please do not throw yourself from a moving vehicle! We would prefer you throw an enemy from the vehicle instead. Anyway, that main riff is a tribute to all my favorite riffs. Think of the riffs from Autopsy – Torn from the Womb, Candlemass – Well of Souls, Isengard – Naglfar etc… I thought “Beorn needs a riff like these” These are the best types of riffs, mid-paced fist bangers that are evil as hell. The end of the song is inspired by bands like Blasphemy or Swallowed from Finland, maybe some old Beherit and things like that.

The final album track ‘Roads Go On Forever’ begins perfectly with a recitation of a great poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken“. An interesting inclusion, are either of you big poetry buffs?

R: We just thought it was cool as Robert Frost is a New Hampshire native. His poetry is incredible and heavily inspired by New Hampshire so it works perfectly.

V: It was kind of a last minute idea that worked very well.

Over the years, themes of history and heritage have been a great wellspring of inspiration for Black Metal. What are your thoughts on why they suit the style so well?

V: Black Metal has always evoked a certain old and dreary feeling to me as with many other lovers of the genre. History itself is for the most part very dark and depressing, so the two just go hand in hand.

I’ve seen you use the NHBM tag: New Hampshire Black Metal. What is the black metal scene like in New Hampshire? Any other great NHBM bands we should pay attention to?

R: The NHBM scene is great and the reason we use this label is because we are all friends that support each others bands and projects. The scene is strong and we have so many great bands. Its a small state with a lot of talented people. Here’s some bands we recommend from our great state: Malacath, Ancestral Shadows, Hraesvelgr, Northern. Actually Northern just wrapped up their new recording with us at The Hall Studios. “Desolate Ways to Ultima Thule” is set for release by Moribund Records sometime in March!

V: Kind of off topic but there are also some great death metal bands around here as well such as: Solium Fatalis, Excrecor, Angel Morgue and more!

Have you ever played any live shows with this project, and if not, is it something you’d ever be interested in?

R: We get asked this a lot. Sorry, Beorn’s Hall will never play live unless we get $10,000 haha.

V: And a trip to Europe! 🙂

And finally: What does the future hold for Beorn’s Hall? Have you started writing for the third album yet?

V: We plan on releasing one full album a year and to do some splits and other small releases in between those as well.

R: The future holds one solid pagan BM release per year. We have a blast doing Beorn’s Hall! As far as writing goes, I am always writing. I am always inspired and I am glad to have a drummer and vocalist who works as efficiently as I do. People think I am rushing but I’m not. I just like to work fast.

Thanks again for your time! Looking forward to the full release. Anything else you’d like to add?

R and V: Thanks for the interview! Cheers!

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Purchase ‘Estuary’ on CD and vinyl from Naturmacht Productions here, and on cassette from Fólkvangr Records here.

Support Beorn’s Hall:

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