Horror and Mythology – An Interview with Selvans

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Why do you pray in front of this mask’s friendly smile,

held up by a thousand worms?

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Many of you have now spent a great deal of time with Selvans’ superb second full-length album Faunalia. You’ve immersed yourselves in it, absorbed its bewitching powers, it even made a solid and well-deserved showing on many end of year lists. It was one of the most inventive and dazzlingly unique atmospheric/folk black albums to be given life in 2018 and if you haven’t heard it yet I’ll politely demand that you rectify that grave error right fucking now.

Strangely enough however, I hadn’t seen too many recent interviews with the Italian duo regarding this album cycle and the beast they had created, so I reached out – the result is a very pleasant chat with main man Haruspex (and one that I would also like to continue another time as it appears we share a love of old Italian horror, but I digress) about his influences, intentions and generally everything Faunalia. So settle in and read on below, and grab yourself a copy of this fantastic album from Avantgarde Music and Fólkvangr Records while you still can.

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Greetings Haruspex! Sincerest thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Your new album (and second full-length overall) Faunalia was released a few months ago, and I’ve seen people calling it a “work of genius”. How does it feel that it’s now been unleashed to the public for some time?

– Hi! It’s great! You know… I don’t expect anything when we release something new, the only real goal for me is to have things working in the way I figure out. For this album I wanted to create an ‘Italian way’ in black metal. I was sure that it would have worked in a proper way for the Italian audience, but risking not to be totally understood abroad… For this reason, being able to read some foreigners’ enthusiastic reviews is nicely unexpected!

I bet it is! Although also very well deserved. Now, there’s something in particular that I’d like to ask about. Right from the atmospheric introduction of first track ‘Ad Malum Finem’ I could hear a strong influence from the Italian masters Goblin. I personally love Goblin, have seen them live and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Were they a notable compositional inspiration this time around? If so – why, and what events led to them influencing the Selvans sound?

– That is what I’m talking about! When we started to work on this album I explained to Fulguriator all the influences I put while writing every single song. Most of them came from Italian musical tradition. Claudio Simonetti and Goblin as well as Riz Ortolani, for example, have been fundamental for moments as ‘Ad Malum Finem’ or ‘Phersu’… I’m a longtime fan of horror soundtracks and I knew that sooner or later this would emerge in Selvans.

Aside from Goblin, I can identify some other possible inspirations blending in and out – Ennio Morricone and his film scores, for example. Was he another whose work you also had in mind?

– Definitely yes! Every single Ennio Morricone soundtrack sounds like something ‘divine’ for my ears, so I’ve told myself: “Let’s try to mix it with something harsh and profane”.

Probably I was hoping for something to rescue my soul… Or maybe to lead her to eternal damnation with no way back, who knows!?

Perhaps the latter! It works beautifully, in any case. I believe throughout the album’s lyrics and titles you utilise three languages: English, Italian and Latin. If you don’t mind me asking: Why is this so? How can you tell when the song calls for one or the other, and do you have a preferred tongue in which to express the themes of Selvans in particular?

– I usually start writing the lyrics in the language that sounds better with the music… with this album I’ve started thinking of a specific language before writing the music (an example is the latin for ‘Anna Perenna’) and I can say that in the future we will probably continue using just Italian and Latin. But I might change this decision even tomorrow, or maybe during the next year.

Speaking of themes, you write once again about Italian folklore. For those unfamiliar with the lore, could you give us an idea of some of the concepts and tales to be found on the album?

– For what concerns ‘Ad Malum Finem’ and ‘Notturno Peregrinar’ they tell about witchcraft in the Italian tradition, ‘Anna Perenna’ is an ode to ancient deities against those who wish something bad for us, ‘Magna Mater Maior Mons’ and ‘Requiem Aprutii’ are about legends and historical facts about our land, where earthly and divine daily collide… ‘Phersu’ is about a strange character of the Etruscan mythology, a masked demon who tortured men with a whip and two ferocious dogs.

Intriguing… I may research this Phersu character further. Faunalia also marks a notable occasion: it’s the first time you’ve utilised two members of your live band’s talents in the studio. How did you find that to be, as opposed to your previous way of working? Did they have any input into the compositional process at all?

– Acheron and HK have been with us since our first live show and for the second album I firmly wanted real played drums instead of a programmed drum machine, and I wanted to record the acoustic parts with Acheron and Fulguriator in the same room playing together. In addition to this I can assure you that in the next album the bass parts will be surely played by our actual live bass player Agares. All the production and composition in Selvans is and will always be a priority of mine but I’m open to suggestions on the arrangement of every single part ’cause I’m not inclined to think as a real guitarist, bassist or drummer.

I can hear a lot of interesting and possibly traditional instrumentation on the tracks, which gives them an incredibly organic feel. Did you have a favourite or unusual instrument that you used during the recording?

– For this album I focused the composition on keyboard instruments: synths, hammond and organs of various kinds! I was born as a keyboard player and for this reason this has been the most genuine choice for Faunalia.

Well, that explains why the synthwork is so incredible. Faunalia is a very theatrical, cinematic album in general, and that really enhances it! There’s a heavy ‘horror’ sound in places – in fact, some of the audio samples used in the album I’d swear are even taken from horror films. Is this correct? Were they taken from any films that had any special meaning to either the respective themes of the songs, or to you?

– Yes, you’re talking about ‘Phersu’… for that song I felt that the best mood for the entire track would be the one of the italo-horrors from the 80’s, both for music and lyrics… All these masterpieces from directors such as Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento have really influenced me, and the audio samples you can hear in ‘Phersu’ come from Lucio Fulci’s ‘The Beyond’.

Ah! Both are amazing directors. It’s at this point that I feel like hijacking the interview to speak with you about ‘80s Italian horror / giallo, but I’ll leave it for another time and keep on track. So, moving on – the album art is extremely intriguing. Who is the artist, and what is the significance of the creature depicted on the cover?

You like it!? Many people found it scary and maybe this was my first idea…. in Italy – but especially in my region – everyone has this memory of their own grandfather playing typical folk songs with the accordion on special occasions. You know: all the family reunited, a lot of food, wine, laughs… the typical warm Italian situation you surely have seen in many Hollywood movies! So, I can understand that seeing this ‘fatherly behaviour’ on an anthropo-goat-dude staring at you can be pretty disturbing, and I like it.

I love it. Another thing I’m quite partial to: considering Haruspex that you were originally not supposed to be the vocalist for the band, I think your vocal assault is remarkable. Dare I say, you seem more comfortable and theatrical than ever. How do you feel about your performance now, and are there any other vocalists you’ve taken a cue from for this record?

– Thank you. Actually, you’ve said everything: I wasn’t supposed to be Selvans vocalist, after Jonny’s death I chose to sing on my songs without involving anyone in this role and yes, I have to admit that in the last four years I’ve specifically worked on this aspect. You know, I recorded the first album without really thinking about how the vocals should sound. For Faunalia I had the chance to stop and think about the vocal attitude of the album in order to create a peculiar style of singing recognizable as ‘the Selvans one’. I’m not sure I have totally succeeded in this yet but, if you soon thought about something ‘theatrical’ or – as many have commented – ‘dramatic’ this is surely the right way for the future.

The cue for this style comes from the Italian musical and operatic tradition.

Dramatic is exactly the right word, you’re doing a great job. Now, for this release you’ve once again worked with Avantgarde Music, and the cassette release has been expertly taken care of by Fólkvangr Records. How have you found working with both labels? Are you happy with the partnerships?

– Yes, they’re run by honest and collaborative guys, that’s the way I like.

The album is a dazzling display of progressive structures and folk-tinged atmospherics, but; what sort of music do you listen to in your spare time? At the time of writing this we’ve more or less made it through the ‘end of year list’ compiling period, so I’ll ask: are there any releases you have found particularly enjoyable over the last twelve months?

– This is always the hardest question to answer. You know, I’m not really into new releases! This is probably cause of the lack of time or will… In my spare time, I listen to a lot of different kinds of music but without really following the new releases! Usually, I discover a record one or even two years since its release! For example, I was going to answer that the last Grave Pleasures album was amazing but I checked and it is from 2017!! Thinking about last year… I was really impressed by the big return of Immortal with Northern Chaos Gods and by the last Necro album The Notorious Goriest for example… My mind is a big ‘cauldron’ full of musical inputs!

Necro! Now there’s a name that has not graced these pages before, great selections. And finally… Where to next for Selvans? Has any new material started to materialise?

– Sure! I continuously write new stuff. I have a couple of demo songs and covers recorded but I don’t know how and when it will be released. We’ll see…

We will be waiting! Sincerest thanks for your time Haruspex, and many thanks as well for the stunning Faunalia. Any final words you’d like to add?

– I’ve really appreciated your questions and thanks for the good words in support of our Faunalia. I hope I can keep alive this interest for the Italian music through our works in the future! See ya!

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Purchase SelvansFaunalia on CD, cassette, vinyl or digitally from the band here, on CD, vinyl and digital from Avantgarde Music here, or on cassette from Fólkvangr Records here.

Support Selvans:

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Like Black Metal Daily on Facebook for more kvlt sounds and tonal blasphemy.

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

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Hail Darkness, Hail Death – An Interview with Grief of Nyctophilia

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In the blaze of candlelight

I step down

Through the forbidden gate

Of dark arts secret

Death is enlightenment

Darkness is everything

Hail Darkness! Hail Death!

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The somber, echoing tone of a sole guitar appears in the silent darkness, resonating as if through the gossamer thin veil that separates our world from the afterlife. A faint hint of rain, the ghost of a storm… and then, suddenly and with barely a warning, a torrential blast of devastating hatred and overwhelming despair assaults your ears and threatens to crush your soul. Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae, the new album from Polish project Nyctophilia has arrived.

Nyctophilia (and by extension its sole creator, Grief) has now been active for around four years and in that time has released a quintet of excellent full-length albums, alongside a multitude of demos, EP’s and singles. His motivations or inspirations have not changed in any way since the very beginnings of the project – he simply wishes to express negativity, Satanism, plus a connection to both the natural world and the spiritual plane and death that succeeds it. The black flame does not dim or flicker here; his art only becomes stronger with every release.

Which is proven emphatically once again by his latest offering, which drops today: the fifth full-length album Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae. Released rather aptly on the northern winter solstice by Wolfspell Records (a label also only going from strength to strength) it’s the ultimate culmination of all of his recorded work thus far.

You’ll know it when you hear it – this is true black metal at it’s core, a man perfecting his craft. Opener Untill Death is the perfect call to summon the necessary powers as the track surges and crackles with an unseen force that raises the hair on your arms, With Hate Freezing My Veins continues in a hate filled diabolical stomp while the title track then seethes with desperation and sinister tension. But all of this, great as it may be, is merely a precursor for what is the main event of the album for me: the stunning When Stars Shine No More. The minute this hits it’s like an impenetrable curtain of gloom drops over the album, a pestilent misery that forces its way down your throat to suffocate you from inside. It’s an incredible composition that only becomes more wretched and dismal as it moves through; in my opinion, it might even just be his masterpiece.

I’ve been following the trajectory of this excellent project for quite a while now and the time seemed right to finally get main man Grief in for an interview; thankfully he was happy to oblige. So read on below, check out the tracks streaming throughout from this beast, then head on over to Wolfspell Records to do what’s most fitting on winter solstice, the longest night of the year… let some beautiful, magniloquent darkness into your life.

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Hails Grief, sincerest thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Your fourth and latest full-length channelling of dark energies Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae is due to be released soon, and having appreciatively had the opportunity for an advance listen, I think it could be the best thing you’ve done yet and really does represent a summation of your entire works while refining and taking everything further into new territories than ever before. How do you personally feel it stacks up in regards to your previous releases, and was there anything you consciously tried to do differently this time around?

– Hails! With each album I do I always try to take a different course in terms of sound and atmosphere, while keeping the main themes of darkness, death and nature; but I must say that with Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae it was a bit different. I wanted to do an album much more complex in terms of sound and composition, with much more diverse atmospheres that will lead you through darkness and light at the same time. There was much more recording done and I took quite a long time thinking about particular parts in the album to get them to sound exactly how I wanted. I can say the album is sort of the continuation of Dwelling In The Fullmoon Light album as it takes us from light towards darkness. I knew I wanted big sounding drums with lots of reverb, and harsh dissonant guitars. Basically, I wanted everything to sound like it was echoing from the forest… but one of those that you go in once and never go out of again.

The album continues with the traditional Nyctophilia themes of nature, death and darkness. I know many artists draw inspiration from hiking in the mountains or walking in woods at night; with such a connection to the natural and spirit worlds present in your work is this something you also do? Is there anything else in particular that you feel has had a strong influence on this release?

– Yes, definitely. I enjoy walking in the woods. The night time is something special, especially in the forest where you can see things you don’t normally see. For the inspiration I can say that with Nyctophilia I always get inspiration from pain. I dont know why, but there’s something there; it helps me focus and reach for the emotions I want to portray in my music. I think about death quite often, not in the way of wanting to die, but of what death can actually look like and how the moment of transition feels – hence the name, Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae. It reflects certain moments in my life, the time of changes and some choices I had to make and tried not to be influenced too much by the outside world and focused mainly on what I felt was right.

My favourite track on the album is the stunning When Stars Shine No More, in which after the more intense preceding songs you head musically back to a totally depressive, miasmic atmosphere. It’s fucking beautiful, and the final two minutes of it may be the most crushing sounds I’ve ever heard from you. Do you have a favoured moment or song on the album, or perhaps one that you feel is particularly representative of the overall aura or message you were trying to convey throughout Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae?

– I’m glad you picked that song, as it’s what I would have chosen to describe this album. I can say it’s one of my favourite tracks from all I did. From the moment the idea came into my head I knew it must take you on a journey, like a piece of classical music does.

Returning to that miasmic atmosphere: this may be a broad question, but when did you first find yourself able to tap into that darkness, misery and negativity in life? What led to you being able to express it in a creative form, and would you say it is a more draining or cathartic experience to channel such art?

– I always felt that I don’t belong to society. I’m not very fond of people. Being young and feeling this way can do some damage to your mind, but I learned that I can use my pain and hate to create this destructive art which is Black Metal music. This is what it is, you have to give something to get something in return, so I can say the process of creating is definitely draining but finishing and seeing the final result is indeed a cathartic experience.

The album continues another great Nyctophilia tradition of having a wonderful authentic sound and excellent production, avoiding many of the pitfalls that can usually afflict a one man project. I know you play all the instruments, including drums; being a multi-instrumentalist, what is your creative process like? Do you find it easier to compose with certain instruments, and do you have favoured gear to write or record with?

– Being a one man project has its falls. First one, and it’s actually the only one I always get frustrated with, is not being able to rehearse the tracks I write. So the process of writing is quite hard, mainly I always start with guitar composition build around that with any other instruments. I don’t really have a broad spectrum of gear and instruments, only a few pieces of the most important gear to mix and record music at home.

Once again, you’ve chosen wonderful, resonating artwork for the cover. Can you tell us a little about the piece and why you selected it?

– Yes, the album cover is outstanding. It is Erlkönig by Julius Sergius von Klever. I feel like these old paintings can go very well with black metal music and for this release I was looking for something that can relate to a journey towards darkness and have this dark imagery that can also relate to the lyrical side of the album. If you read the lyrics and look at the artwork, I think you will understand.

This may be only my perception but I feel you have picked up more and more second-wave spirit throughout your releases, even more so on this new album. You clearly have firm roots in the traditional ways and in my opinion, are one of those becoming-rarer acts that mine the true, dangerous depths of black metal and what it means to a person. How do you feel about the modernised take on black metal and the progression the genre has seen over the years?

– I always felt that how black metal used to be was much more real, now you have bands apologising and some other commercial shit. Of course these days you still have very good bands but most of the real ideology and spirit of black metal is lost in the crap of the internet and commercialism, and most of the projects/bands that form these days are just simple copycats that play black metal because it’s cool. I don’t think this is how it should be done, but on the other hand I also don’t give too much of a fuck about it because I know what I put into my music and that’s good enough for me. If you don’t like it you can FUCK OFF!

You hail from Poland, which is famous for its immense and varied black metal scene. However in Nyctophilia (aside from on last year’s superb split with Nachteule) you usually prefer to use English over your native Polish tongue. Obviously, this works out great for English-only speakers like myself, so I have no complaints. But I’m also curious, is there a particular reasoning behind this or has it just worked out that way?

– I just started writing in English straight away. Somehow, I find the right words better in English. Apart from the EP you mentioned, I did not feel the need to use the Polish language when writing, but we will see what the future is going to bring.

I know you have worked with a few different labels over the course of the Nyctophilia discograpy; now with Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae you’re back to the great Wolfspell Records, who you have been with before on the aforementioned Nachteule split. They have had some great releases lately and seem to be going from strength to strength, but what in particular made you return to them?

– Wolfspell Records is just a very good label. They also offered a pretty good deal for this release and thanks to that the album is mastered by the amazing Henri Sorvali at Trollhouse Audio in Finland, he did a really good job on the final sound of the album. So, I hope this cooperation will last longer than just one release.

If memory serves me correctly, I recall at one point you were signing copies of an album in your own blood. I think that’s a powerful personal touch. Is that something you will do again?

– Yes, this is what I do for some of the first copies, and for this release it will also happen.

You seem to be very prolific with your work and have a steady stream of releases (which is great for fans of your music), so it’s probably not too strange to ask: Have you begun writing for the next release yet? Or do you tend to take a break once one is done?

– Yes, I can say I have started writing some music and I can say the next Nyctophilia will take a totally different look on how I do things. Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae sums up all the work I have done; it sort of ends something, but also opens a door to different paths.

I would usually ask a solo artist if you have any intentions to play live, but I get the feeling with such a misanthropic, personal project that you’d prefer to keep away from the stage/people. So I’ll ask instead, because I’m sure you’ll have something to say about it: Do you feel depressive black metal should be performed in a live environment?

– In my opinion most of the bands should not play live because then it becomes ‘beer music’, but then again I have been to some depressive black metal live shows that were quite good. Still, it will not have the same effect as it has when you listen to this music alone. I know that if maybe in future Nyctophilia would be to perform a live show the atmosphere would not be recreated because it can’t be; so that is the main reason for keeping live shows away.

Once again, thankyou for your time and sharing a little information about Nyctophilia. Total support. Any final parting words you would like to leave us with?

– Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this. Buy records, don’t pirate them. And as always…

Hail Darkness!

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Purchase Nyctophilia‘s Ad Mortem Et Tenebrae on CD or digitally from Wolfspell Records here, or the artists Bandcamp here.

Support Nyctophilia:

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Like Black Metal Daily on Facebook for more kvlt sounds and tonal blasphemy.

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Label Spotlight – An Interview with C and M of Vinyl Compvlsion

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CORVUS OCULUM CORVI NON ERUIT

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When it comes to personal music consumption it’s an undeniable truth that analogue formats fucking rule. Sure, the fact that you can have a million songs in your pocket wherever you go these days is cool as shit, but there’s a myriad of reasons an ever growing number of people will only accept nothing less than vinyl and/or tapes for their at-home listening pleasure (and if I need to tell you these reasons, I almost feel sorry for you… almost). Vinyl especially has been making a steady ‘comeback’ over the last decade, although for some amongst us it never really went anywhere – those whose record collections number in the thousands, spending far too much money on what could almost be deemed an addiction… those with the Vinyl Compvlsion.

Cheesy as fuck intro aside, the two men that run the label fall firmly into that aforementioned category. This endeavor was borne out of love for the format – Vinyl Compvlsion truly is just fanatics putting out releases for fanatics, and what’s even better is they both have killer taste in black metal. Deitus, Lascar and Tod Huetet Uebel are just a few of the names they’ve given the vinyl treatment to and they’ve even had a hand in getting one of the sleeper hit records of the year out into the world: Höstblod‘s Mörkrets Intâg.

Beginning as hushed whispers in the deepest shadows of the extreme metal record collecting world, the first VC editions were extraordinarily hard to come by. Rumour has it you had to be initiated into a clandestine order to even think about obtaining one of their unique colour schemes and/or limited releases. Well, in spectacularly good news for the common folk, that has slowly changed and these prizes are yours to be found if you look hard enough (and are quick enough – the Tod Huetet Uebel press sold out from their webstore in the blink of an eye earlier this week). I dig the ethos of the label and the two men behind it are fine gentlemen too, so for our next Label Spotlight I’m honoured to have them in for a chat about all things VC. Scroll down, read on, hit up the Bandcamp links to feast your ears on some of the glorious albums they’ve pressed, and go throw them some hails at the official VC store. Definitely a label to watch.

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Hello C & M! Sincerest thanks for your time, I love what VC has been up to lately and it’s a pleasure to speak with you. For readers who don’t know (and skimmed over the intro to this article): Vinyl Compvlsion is a relatively new record label that specialises in giving underrated black gems the chance to shine on the best format of all, and their own often-clandestine colour variants that until recently have only been made available to a select few souls. But first, a little about the men behind it all: what drove you both to start such a specialty label?

C: VC was started through a couple of us not following ‘rules’ in another online vinyl community, we set out to have a space where there were as few rules as possible and people could have freedom of expression. Since then, VC established itself organically as a black metal collective and releasing records felt like a natural progression. Nothing like this was really planned, it’s just sort of happened. The first release came about by a few of us wanting to own Deitus – Acta Non Verba” on vinyl and since there was no other label pressing it, we decided to approach Dawnbreed Records and proposed a joint collaboration and it all went from there. We were thrilled to have such a high calibre album as our first release and we will be forever thankful to the man at Dawnbreed that “showed us the ropes”.

M: It was a natural progression, really. We kept coming across bands on platforms like Bandcamp that had released great albums on digital, CD or sometimes on tape… as vinyl junkies, you would instinctively go and search out the vinyl version. More often than not, it just didn’t exist… certainly with bands from the BM underground. Deitus was a prime example. We both knew instantly this was a special band. We discussed the album in great length and I think it was that album that planted the seed to take things further at a much more serious level. I spent months hammering at the Deitus door, I think they thought I was deranged. It was only when C decided to also give them a firm nudge that they realised we were deadly serious. As a label staring up, sometimes the music won’t reach the desired ear because of other factors. We knew we had an audience but what sealed it for us and made it so inspiring was that it featured such an iconic image on the front cover. It resonated with the music so perfectly that as a first release, it was perfect.

Your most recent drop has been the stunning triple threat of Iku-TursoThe Great Tower, AlkymistSpellcraft Ceremony and Tod Huetet UebelMalícia, the biggest unleashing you’ve done to date. Tell us a bit about it; how did it all come about? What are your personal thoughts about each of the albums?

C: Iku-Turso came about through catching M’s ear and he approached and stayed in touch with the band over a period of months. When the time came for band to want it to be pressed on vinyl, they decided to go with VC. We felt it was a great take on the more traditional black metal style and are proud to have this in our catalogue. Alkymist was a long term member of VC and he sent the album through to us to listen to, we thought his take on black metal with a hint of doom provided a great atmosphere and we were impressed with the Ruins of Beverast cover. It felt right to release this on VC and support a long term member. Tod Huetet Uebel – Malicia is an album I personally have loved since I first heard it back in 2015 and I have maintained contact with the band on and off since then. This is a truly special album and the furious drum style mixed with memorable dissonant riffs is a sound that appeals to me. The vocal performance on this album is jaw dropping, as well as it having superb artwork – an all round amazing release.

M: Similar to the Deitus in the way a sound, or note, or a scream can ensnare you… the tracks on Iku-Turso’s The Great Tower just felt so heartfelt and genuine. A record that manages to pull all the great elements of Black Metal into one filthy pot. There are waves of rawness, veiled melody and swirling darkness that just captured my imagination. They uphold the old BM spirits but I think they are utterly relevant within current circles. With Alkymist it was pretty much the superb ROB cover that started the collective nod. Once the sounds of the “Holy Trinity” started to form in our heads, Alkymist felt very much a part of the three. I received a message off C late one night basically saying “We’ve got the Tod Huetet Uebel”. To this day I’m still slightly shocked we are releasing it. It’s a masterclass.

If I’m correct, VC has had four releases to date: DeitusActa Non Verba and these three coming shortly, but aside from that you’ve also been involved with producing stunning variants of Lascar‘s Saudade and the frankly excellent Höstblod debut Mörkrets Intâg. That’s a pretty impressive resume for the label so far. How do you go about choosing which releases to put out next?

C: Even though we have only been going a short amount of time when compared with many other labels, the amount of submissions we receive is very high, so much so that we struggle to listen to everything. I think we go about choosing releases from a “fan’s” point of view, we want to feel passionate about what we release and not just whether we think there is a market for it. Ultimately we look for releases that haven’t been released on vinyl, that we think deserve to be.

M: We are fortunate enough to be surrounded by a lot of very creative people. Label owners, bands, artists, vinyl collectors and music enthusiasts. More often than not, some of these projects, they just appear out the mist… crawl out the fog… and bang on the VC door with a bloody hand. Emails and messages fly around for a few days and behold… a new VC project is born. We are being very careful about what we will be releasing in the future but for some projects, they are just written in the stars. We can’t release everything we feel is worthy… so it is very difficult, but we just go with our instincts.

One of the things I love about your releases is the absolute care you put into the presentation. Everything looks simply glorious, with great attention to detail. You can tell you are both genuinely passionate about all this and I know you both have impressive personal collections; is that what drives you to produce finished products of such quality?

C: Since everyone involved in VC is essentially a dedicated vinyl collector, presentation and quality is very important to us. We want to be proud of what we put out and we want the quality of the product to match the quality of the music. The bottom line is we are music fans and want everyone, whether it be the band or consumer, to be impressed with the product. It’s simply pride.

M: We have a pretty tight vision of how things should be. We are not professionals when it comes to design and layout but we make up for it in vision, I think. It’s a work in progress, ideas evolve organically which then seed other ideas and so on. The music dictates the visuals and everything is moulded around that.

I’ve seen recent label art contain the proverb ‘Corvus Oculum Corvi Non Eruit’ – Latin for “a crow will not pull the eye out of another crow”, or perhaps: “honour among thieves”. Has this been adopted as the official motto, and what does it mean in relation to the philosophy or aim of the label?

C: Yes, a quote M introduced and it think it certainly does encompass what we are about. This will certainly feature more on future VC releases and merch, should we decide to do anymore.

M: As C stated… it represents how we think, how we feel and how we conduct ourselves with the bands on the label, the people we work with and the folk who buy our records. Just another example really of how we evolve, how elements are added to the labels brand, spirit and ethos. I think the proverb chose us, not the other way around.

Everything seems to be running beautifully for you, but I know there can be many issues behind the scenes that come with running a label. What do you find the most challenging aspects of the VC label have been so far?

C: We did have some quality control issues with this trio which is why Tod Huetet Uebel has been delayed a month over the other two. I would say the most challenging is timing everything correctly, there are always delays at plants and some plant owners do not take pride in their work or customer service.

M: As C has been the main warrior fighting the dark evils of plant owners, the hardest aspect for me is choosing the next release. What’s even harder is once you have decided on your next masterpiece, you then have the impossible task of convincing the band or artist who created it that VC is the perfect parent to raise it under the sign of the black mark. Thankfully this seems to be getting easier with the arrow of time flying trve and these days, grovelling at band’s Bandcamp doors is a thing of the past. We are now having to plow through band submissions and friendly messages with lots of links to demos… we will always go treasure hunting though. It’s the thrill of the hunt…

Have you put any thought/began machinations into what lies beyond those last three titles yet? Can you give us a hint of what future delights might be hidden up the mystical VC sleeve?

C: We have a release coming up from a French band which will be revealed shortly. Also the LP version of Deitus’ Via Dolorosa which we are very proud to be involved with, it’s a monster!

M: We’d been very clear and honest with Deitus, they knew we genuinely loved their debut and we just wanted to be a stepping for them… we felt that at some point in the future they would need a bigger label to fulfill their potential. I think it says a lot about the trust and respect Deitus have for us and how far VC has come that they have decided for their next release that VC is still the place to be. The new album is huge on many fronts. It is everything and more. It has another incredibly strong album cover again so i think we are going to have some fun with this one. It will be very special.

Dream time now: Is there any album (or even discography) in particular, from any point in history, that you would just love to get your hands on and give the VC treatment?

C: …

M: In total dream world, I would love to release a new Owls Blood LP… for many reasons, some more obvious than others, that will never happen. Dead Section Records was a special label for us and inspired us on many levels to pursue this path that we now find ourselves on, and the Owls Blood releases were pretty much the reason C and I got together, which led us to form the group and label. A very special band.

And finally, here’s something I have to ask because I know it’s the question on everybody’s lips: For the first couple of releases, without the requisite obscure arcane knowledge it was nigh on impossible for one get their hands on a copy of the mythical, limited VC editions. They are slightly easier to obtain now… How do the general public score one of these rarities?

C: Keep an eye on the Facebook label page.

M: Take a walk in a forest in the dead of night, turn left at the old well… then follow the stream to the clearing. The moon will reveal an ancient pagan altar. There will be a spade. We will meet you there. Tell no one.

Sincerest thanks once again for your time, C and M. Any final words?

M: Many thanks for the support! Carpe noctem!

(PSA – The final few copies of the limited VC variants of Alkymist and Iku-turso are still available in the web store at time of writing… be quick.)

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Support Vinyl Compvlsion:

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Sermons of Death – An Interview with Ittiel of Clavicvla

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“SERMONS is a work which expands the mind, stretching it to its inevitable death and dissolution, paralyzing the flesh.”

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There’s a good chance that what you are about to experience is unlike anything you’ve heard before. A qliphotic horror so monumental that the label Sentient Ruin Laboratories, not usually known for unnecessary hyperbole, called it “a turning point in the story of Sentient Ruin. They also issued the statement that opened this article, which I’ve used as the introduction because it is startlingly, terrifyingly accurate – Sermons, the latest emanation from shadowed Satanic black ambient/death industrial Clavicvla, will tear your mind apart.

Not through violence or any frenetic dissonant atonal craziness however, this annihilates through nothing but sheer fear and hallucinatory transcendence. The instructions for listening to this otherworldly series of abstruse celestial rites are simple: maximum volume, quality speakers to properly experience the infernal detail in the compositions (largely comprised of demonic sub-bass drones and wretched ritual atmospherics), and complete and utter darkness. I have a friend who attempted to listen to it for the first time under these conditions, immersed in the early hours of morning. He was unsuccessful, because as I quote: it scared the shit out of him.

Black Metal Daily was privileged enough to make contact with the conduit and vessel for this reality-destroying madness: the sole disciple of the third face, Ittiel himself. As far as I know this is the first ever interview he has granted, so read on below for the initial tentative lifting of the veil of Clavicvla.

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Greetings Ittiel, sincerest thanks for taking the time to speak to us. I’ve been listening to your latest Clavicvla album Sermons a great deal lately and to be frank, it’s fucking fantastic. I guess we’ll start with a little history: How long has Clavicvla been active for, and why did it come to exist?

– Clavicvla started in 2014 as a solo black/death metal project, but I personally always felt there was something missing when listening to what I was throwing… Until, during the recording of Arsonist Prophets, I made ‘Invertio Transfiguratio’ and the track poured out with no hassle. Since I started to make more death industrial stuff I’ve turned more productive, as everything comes more spontaneously.

The Latin word “clavicula” can refer to a human collarbone, but there is another interpretation that I feel may be closer to your intended meaning for the project: A key. Would this be correct? Is this moniker symbolic of your intentions for the art of Clavicvla?

– I received inspiration from the Clavicula Solomonis or ‘Key of Solomon’ which is one of the most popular grimoires known, however the meaning to me refers to something deeper, as it could be considered as the key or gateway to access acausal dimensions. Since I started the project everything fell where it was supposed to go, as I’m not considering myself as an “artist” but rather as a tool that acausal forces act through.

On to the album itself. Sermons is instructed to be listened to in the dark and at maximum volume. I’ve done this and the sensory deprivation whilst experiencing your monolithic compositions is incredible, but in your own words: What is this instruction designed to facilitate?

– The concept is to face the limits of the physical and limited form. When a mantra is performed and repeated over and over, it helps to reach higher levels of consciousness because the vibrations of that very mantra run through your body. Through the listening of Clavicvla I’d like the individual to face the metaphysical void and leave an experience that goes beyond the music itself.

The period of creating Sermons must have been intense. What were the recording sessions like? Did you utilise any unusual instrumentation or techniques in the creation of the sermons?

– I record everything at home with my own timing and in actuality everything was very relaxed, as it just poured out.

In terms of instruments I do everything with my computer so I do need the time to research the sounds I want to obtain certain types of vibrations, but everything comes through experimentation. Apart from the lyrics, that I write beforehand.

I came across some issues during mastering as certain tones were not designed for the physical market.

I’ve noticed there are certain Satanic writings on the artwork for the album, and given the track titles and general feel of your work I’d safely assume you have an interest in Satanism and/or possibly some kind of hermetic mysticism (I saw acosmism mentioned in a track premiere on Indy Metal Vault – the denial of the reality of the universe). You can go as deep into your answer here as you like, but how important are these themes to you in your everyday life? How do you view humanity and the world, and what is the particular significance of the scripts included in the album artwork?

– Under a social point view, I see Satanism as a way to deconstruct all the rules built from christianity throughout the centuries; I see it as the ultimate form of rebellion that stands not only under a social point of view but also as a spiritual one. In our world of dualities it’s easier to see life and the fullness given by creation but it’s an endless research when it comes to the acausal, as we tend to translate such shapeless forms through our limited senses.

To release such energies every culture throughout the centuries gave it’s own part, but what humanity lacks is the will to understand something that goes beyond creation itself and beyond us. Humanity should come back to worship and respect the Great Mother and re-enter in a mindset of “cycle of life”, that we completely forgot because human kind has no longer experienced a great plague in centuries. Only when close to death we can experience real life, otherwise that’s only an illusion and 90% of the population is living this illusion.

“To be immortal in good, one must identify oneself in God; to be immortal in evil, with Satan. These are the two poles of the world of souls; between these two poles vegetate and die without remembrance the useless portion of mankind.” Eliphas Levi.

Whilst doing a bit of research and checking out your Bandcamp, I discovered you also have another release available to the public: Arsonist Prophets, and that release would be described as raw black metal. The dark ambient/death industrial emanations of Sermons on the other hand, whilst definitely blacker than almost anything else in spirit, is in no way traditional “black metal”. Have you left black metal behind for good? What made you seek out new ways of expressing the darkness?

– I didn’t leave black metal as I consider it part of myself, but when it comes to dark emanations sometimes the classic instrumental music could be considered limited compared to the opportunities that electronic music can offer. I think it is also a generational thing, as when I was a kid approaching black metal, it was something scary. I wanted to get people to approach and experience certain types of music not because it could be fun, but because beyond the initial fright may lay the beginning of a new path and way of life.

You no longer go by any other name, apart from “Ittiel”. If you don’t mind me asking – what does this name mean, and why did you leave your others behind?

– Ittiel is the entity ruler of the third world created by god, according to the Qabalah.

I also want to ask about something possibly inconsequential, but that caught my eye – in the blurry artist promo photo for Clavicvla you appear to be holding a human skull. Is this real? Where did you obtain it?

– It might be real, it might not. I leave it to interpretations.

Whether real or not the skull is what we are and will become.

The album has been released through Sentient Ruin Laboratories. How did that come about? Are you pleased with the results of the partnership?

– To be fair I got very lucky, I suppose. I posted Sermons on Bandcamp last summer and in a few days I was approached by Sentient Ruin. I’m really happy with the partnership, as I have a lot of freedom and I get guided through the more commercial stuff.

Have you ever given consideration to performing the sermons of Clavicvla in a live setting? Listening to these tracks performed in a ritualistic live setting, at ear-splitting volume in pitch blackness, would be something else altogether.

– As I started Clavicvla as a studio project, I want to see how things will develop in future as I want it to be a ceremony to experience. As it’s something I don’t want to play with, everything has to be perfect.

And finally… What are your future plans for Clavicvla? Will there be more material in the same vein?

– I already have a lot of material ready as, regardless of Sermons, I always keep myself active and productive. I will see how things develop in order to expand my limits and avoid stagnation. Clavicvla goes along with my studies, so it is in constant development.

Once again, my gratitude for your time spent with us, Ittiel. Any final words?

– Thanks for showing interest in this project.

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Purchase Clavicvla‘s Sermons on vinyl, cassette or digitally from Sentient Ruin Laboratories here.

Support Clavicvla:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Timeless Chaos – An Interview with Precaria’s Hermit Ov Tehom

Crimes to the celestial doctrine

Corrupt the celestial doctrine

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You may have heard of Precaria, or you might not have had the pleasure of them crossing your path just yet. The Mexican duo are another one of those great projects hiding in the shadows, conjuring intricate, esoteric arts intended to be appreciated by the initiated. Main man Hermit Ov Tehom isn’t doing any of this for glory, recognition or album sales (although if you’ve listened to the Metamorphosphoros split that I reviewed here and was released on I, Voidhanger Records earlier in the year you could probably make a convincing argument that he deserves more of all of those things) – this man simply lives and breathes black metal in every aspect of his existence, and it shines through in his creative work.

The earliest part of said work with Precaria is the 2013 demo, which has seen a couple of issues on various formats already but is now copping a fresh CD release through Caligo Arcanum Productions with a stack of bonus tracks on the disc and a copy of the savage banned video for La Obra Negra Deicida (which, if you are weak of stomach or sensitive in constitution you should perhaps avoid) included in the name-your-price digital download. I wondered how Hermit Ov Tehom was feeling about this attention given to his older compositions, so I reached out and he was happy to answer a few questions – and even give us a bit of good news regarding the next Precaria releases. Read on below.

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Greetings, Hermit Ov Tehom. After seeing a tape release a short time ago, the great debut Precaria demo has just received a CD reissue from Caligo Arcanum Productions. How did this come about?

– The label owner has been a long time follower of Precaria, he had interest in giving the demo a proper CD release because it was originally released in tape, and later reissued in pro-tape by Nebular Carcoma Records, but never in CD until now. Considering that Precaria had a bigger following outside Mexico in the era this demo was released, I thought it was a great idea to have it now released by a respectable label in the mexican underground, to get more exposure inside the home country.

Some time has now passed since the demo’s original release. How does it feel listening back over the old tracks years later? What does that material mean to you?

– It feels great! I can always perceive that raw and pure dark energy. The compositions were more atmospheric and experimental, even immature in a degree if you compare them to the current compositions. That is precisely what makes them unique, they are unadulterated expressions of darkness and hatred. It is always interesting to listen back to the roots and contemplate how the essence and sound has developed through the years.

Do you remember the original recording sessions, that period in your life? Has much changed for you in your approach to your art, and is the intention behind Precaria still the same?

– The recording sessions were made with months of separation, this is the reason of all tracks having different sound, and my production skills were very amateur. Still, the strong energy was always captured and a special sound was possible to achieve. The approach has been refined and expanded. In the early days I didn’t care about making appealing compositions and riffs, the lyrics were mostly about criticizing mass religion and humanity. Now the themes have broadened and I focus on creating a balance between composition uniqueness and appealing riffs. This has the power to infect more darkened souls with the chaos of Precaria, which serves a higher purpose. Meaning that the intention behind Precaria has evolved.

I believe there was initially some confusion caused by the original name of the demo; Metal Archives lists it as Demo 2004, but it was released in 2013. What was the reason for that original title, and is that confusion now why it is simply entitled Precaria?

– In 2004 I started composing the first Precaria song La Obra Negra Deicida. I did a simple artwork with the idea of releasing a demo and I put Demo 2004 below the logo, which was a rough drawing of the current logo. I could never get a stable drummer for rehearsals and recordings, for years I just dropped the hope of making Precaria a real band. However, I never stopped composing. Years later I composed the songs of my atmospheric black metal project Desesperanza. In 2010 I met Opposus. He was starting to play drums, playing live with a black metal cover band. After talks we decided to practice my old compositions and soon became a live duet. We started the recording sessions, and in 2013 I pressed 25 tape copies of this demo under the label name Desavenencia, which is the name I use for my self-released creations. Those copies had the old artwork, that’s the reason for it being originally listed as “Demo 2004”. Titling the re-editions “Precaria” is indeed better, to avoid confusions and simply ignore dates. Dark art is timeless.

I notice in the bonus tracks you’ve given the original recordings a remaster, making them sound more visceral. What was the story behind this?

– The Spanish label Nebular Carcoma released a pro-tape of my other project Desesperanza and after that, they offered me releasing the Precaria demo. It was convenient, because the amount of followers had increased a lot and they wanted to possess a copy of the demo. I like bonuses, that’s what makes reissues special, so I decided to remaster the demo tracks to include the originals in one side and the remastered version in the other side. I also created a new artwork that fits with the essence of the music. Using some pictures taken by the french medium Eva Carrière circa 1912-1913, and editing them to taste, being public domain material. I also created a layout for the CD version which has been released by Caligo Arcanum Productions, also containing the remastered tracks.

There are also two more bonus tracks included on the CD version that are from the excellent Metamorphosphoros sessions. Why have they been resurrected here?

– To link the old material with the “new” one. This serves both to offer a different feature in the CD version and to promote the new material. I quote “new” because the main Precaria track in Metamorphosphoros, Ex Abyssia, dates from 2011 so it isn’t new. All material I release while being new to the world, it is old for the band. It takes years to produce, mostly due to the poor economic situation here. Back then, Ex Abyssia was called “Fragilitatis Profunda Atrissima” and we played it live in an event with Nocturnal Depression in our city. Throughout the years the composition was refined and a few riffs were added, besides lyrical parts and the first chorus ever used in a Precaria song. This led me to rename it “Ex Abyssia”. Also, in Metamorphosphoros, the last Precaria song is La Obra Negra Deicida, played as we play it live currently. So the new material also corresponds that link with the past.

Included in the download package for the digital album (available at name-your-price download on Bandcamp) is the banned video clip for the track La Obra Negra Deicida. Now, I don’t want to give too much away but it’s one of the more fucked-up things I’ve seen, and is recommended viewing for anyone who appreciates the music and wants to dive deeper, as it adds a whole new level to your work. Can you tell us a little about it, and the message you were trying to convey with the clip?

– It depicts the crude side of mankind and its decadence. It compiles fragments of real scenarios where humans are massacred, practice extreme religious rituals, suicides and an overall decrepitude that exists in our world. This is precisely chosen to fit the lyrics and feeling of the music. I made that video in 2013 to promote the demo tape but it was banned in a few days. I re-uploaded it in various occasions and it was taken down every time until recently that I could claim that the violent depictions are of artistic and educational value, so it has survived the ban. It is included as bonus material when you download the demo via Bandcamp so anyone who likes it still keeps it, even if it disappears from the video streaming sites.

And finally, last year’s Metamorphosphoros split (with Deathspiral Of Inherited Suffering and Dominus Ira) was superb. Any news on when we the next Precaria release will materialise, and what we can expect from it?

– 2019 is the year for Theosulphuros, the sequel to Metamorphosphoros. I have recorded the guitars and bass already. After recording drums and vocals, the mixing phase will start. This time it’s a split with Ars Magna Umbrae and a secret band. I’m also considering to invite a fourth band and have some candidates in mind. It depends in how well can they adapt to the themes and the essence of this work. It’ll be released by the same label, the italian I, Voidhanger Records and the front cover painting will be interconnected with the Metamorphosphoros painting. When you put both albums together they form the complete artwork. This time the Precaria songs are “Ritus Absconditus”, “Ex Nigredo”, “Darkness is My Light” and “Heautontimorumenos”. With a mixture of Spanish, English and Latin, just as in Metamorphosphoros, and the Precaria side also lasting 25 minutes in length. A full length could be released with both Precaria sides in these splits! After Theosulphuros, the sessions for the second full album Necrokhaos will begin.

Thanks again for your time, Hermit Ov Tehom. Any final words?

– Thanks for continuously supporting the abysmal black metal art of Precaria.

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Purchase Precaria‘s Precaria digitally at name-your-price from the band here, or pre-order a CD through Caligo Arcanum Productions here.

Support Precaria:

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Unsettling Vibrations – An Interview with ‘N’ of Unpleasant Records

UNPLEASANT: /ʌnˈplɛz(ə)nt/

(adjective)

causing discomfort, unhappiness, or revulsion; disagreeable.

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Continuing the theme of great underground labels in this run of BMD Label Spotlights, today we have an excellent newcomer that deserves your unwavering attention: the Chilean Unpleasant Records. Only active for a year thus far, the label does exactly what a good label should – dig up the best artists from deep in the caverns of musical obscurity (some of these artists have no social media pages or much online presence at all) and drag them into the sunlight for the world to appreciate.

It’s also run by none other than the enigmatic N from Chilean/Venezuelan black masters Selbst, who took the time to sit down with us and chat about all things Unpleasant. But before we get to that, let’s have a quick look at the label’s first triptych of killer cassette releases:

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First, FOSA. Demo MMXVI was originally recorded in 2016 and this nihilistic carnage definitely deserved a revisit. Punishing, relentless crusty black fury with crushing tones meets a deep, deceptive melodicism and even a sliver of slithering dissonance and black noise; all capped off with hellish, proselytizing vocals and riffs that could crack open the earth, this celebration of all things negative is a winner from start to finish. Seriously, every track is incredible and the raw power in their sound is immense. I really fucking love this demo, and I’m shattered that by the time I discovered Unpleasant Records I’d already missed this tape. Jump on this at name-your-price download… while crossing your fingers for a repress. Oh, and it’s their only release of their four year existence, too. Perhaps it’s time for a full-length?

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I did, however, manage to grab a tape copy of both of these next two releases, the first of which is Nox Desperatio‘s austere debut album Anima Veritas Vita Morte. This duo summon raw, enflamed black metal done the old way, emanating esotericism and hatred from the shadows to drain you of all life. Some welcome depressive elements pop up here and there but overall this is nothing but old-school obscurity with no frills and no fucking about; just the way it should be. Name-your-price download and tapes are still available. Prepare thyself, for darkness and despair falleth over the Earth.

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And finally, Moriturio‘s Luminatione Exaltat Serpens – nothing but pure black metal. The songwriting shines through on this one, dark tension and ancient glory oozing from the tremolo-heavy compositions while the vocalist shrieks like a creature of the night. As N says below, these few tracks comprise all of their recorded material and might very well be their swansong; which, if true, is a crying shame as the atmosphere and energy they summon is something special. Raise your claws to the moon, grab a free download and/or buy a tape of this now before they all sell out – then read on below for our chat with main man N.

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Greetings N! It’s great to speak with you today. Some people may know you from Venezuelan/Chilean project Selbst, but you also run a label, Unpleasant Records! So, let’s start with the intent behind the label. If Unpleasant Records had a mission statement, what would it be?

N: The one of giving to know dark and terrible gems. Unpleasant, for the majority. Of black metal and related music in general, that only those who are prepared to receive in their hearts would listen and comprehend properly…

Hails. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the label has been active for about a year now; what made you finally decide to start it up?

N: For a long time I wanted to start in this, nothing ambitious but dedicated! I wanted to give an opportunity to bands that were looking to start and acquire a physical release to begin showing their work and to give them some support.

Especially thinking about good bands from my country, Venezuela (which are really, really few).

Well, I know one great band from Venezuela. As mentioned, you’re also a member of Selbst and I’m sure have many, many other things that also keep you busy. How do you find balance between your art, life and your label?

N: Sometimes I can hardly find a balance, I am a natural procrastinator… but beyond this, I am someone very null, a normal work-home-etc guy. I’m not into partying a lot, I’m a bit bitter in that aspect. This year I had another issue that I also had secretly between my eyes and for a long time, and that is playing live with SELBST. About that, it has been a bit year moved.

Unpleasant Records’ first three releases are: Fosa’s Demo MMXVI, Nox Desperatio’s Anima Veritas Vita Morte, and Luminatione Exaltat Serpens by Moriturio. Can you tell us a little of your personal feelings about each one?

N: Let’s see…

FOSA was a revelation for me. I loved their demo and their 100% nihilistic and anti-showbiz-egocentric attitude (a rare occurrence in the Chilean scene). They go against everything and everyone. It is a band with true attitude, created by true nihilists and fucked-up people. For me it was an honor to give them this little support. Besides, their songs were sung in SPANISH!!!

NOX DESPERATIO is very important for me because they are from Venezuela. Anima Veritas Vita Morte is a work with composition quality, totally sung in Spanish as well, and done in a masterly way! This is always a difficult language to work with for metal music, especially in black metal, but it seems that it flows naturally. Also, the people involved in this project are super talented and dedicated to black metal. They have sacrificed a lot, and still do, even with all the crap situation that my country is currently experiencing. That is not a little amount.

Finally, MORITURIO is one of my favourite and best-achieved black metal acts from my country. Unfortunately, they don’t have a wide or constant discography; this work feels like a goodbye (maybe?) for a great project that many people out there should know. Also sung in Spanish, although inspired in my opinion by the typical black metal like Sargeist, etc. it has an original and frightening touch. Catchy and deeply, extremely atmospheric riffs.

I hope to get more works like those in the future!

So far, you have released all three of those albums on cassette. What is the appeal of this format to you? Is this your preferred listening format, and do you have any plans to branch out into vinyl or CD for future releases?

N: I would LOVE to release vinyl formats in the future. But I’m working with cassette tapes now for several reasons. On one hand for a matter of costs, it’s much easier to start up. Also because it is a format I like; it is small, and it facilitates storage and shipping.

I like to buy cassette releases from bands and labels. Like vinyl, it has that classic touch that the CD does not have, and much less a digital download…

I agree, analog for life. Also of note: all three albums have been pressed in limitations of 50. Are you open to the idea of represses, or is it going to be a one-time-only sort of deal? What do you think about each option, which appeals to you more?

N: Of course, I’m totally open to reissues, but as you can notice, I am a normal person who wanted to start a independent small label with short editions. It was like a experiment. Therefore, if everything goes well, I could make more copies if necessary. One learns on the fly…

You should reissue FOSA so I can order a tape, haha. Anyway I hope it goes well – the releases are amazing. Some labels end up with quite an eclectic roster releasing a variety of genres, will Unpleasant Records take this path? How do you decide which bands or artists to release on the label?

N: I would like to, as long as it’s something unpleasant! Haha. The truth is I have little time and, mainly, I release projects of people more or less close to whom I want to support.

Especially, as mentioned before, bands from my country with a brutal sound, that touch my fibers, will have an advantage for me.

Is it only yourself that runs the label at the moment? If so, would you ever take on any help?

N: I took this decision on a personal basis, so I prefer to work and keep it like this. Even when some extra monetary help is always welcome, I prefer to take longer and do it on my own, to be able to work freely in any way I want, without waiting for second opinions from anyone!

The best way. Something that I guess many readers will want to know: Are you accepting demos?

N: Yes, although I have already planned the next releases for 2019. But you know, even so, my humble door is open for any not-shitty proposal!

Be prepared for an influx of shitty demos, haha. Now, I notice Unpleasant Records also acts as a distro. Are you open to trades with other labels?

N: Trades are, definitely, an important part in the underground! It helps the band, it helps the label, and even helps with promotion I think. You will not always get something good, but it will help you to promote unknown bands and keep the interest of potential buyers alive in the material that you bring constantly to your distro. Apart from strengthening ties and making contacts or some shit like that.

Given that the label is fairly new, you might be in a good position to answer this, as I’m sure you’ve come across at least a few problems: Do you have any advice for those aspiring to start their own label?

N: I can only say that if you want to make a living from this, you better get away. This is something that is done for the sake of Art. With passion and dedication. You can always recover, in some way, what you invest; but it is not likely to make you a millionaire haha.

Simply do it! And convince yourself to not worry about money. If you find music created with the soul, with approach, then support it and work hard in the promotion of it and it will find, for sure, a place in this world’s shitty metal scene with a lot of fucking bands coming out every day. That’s very important!

And finally – Everything you’ve released so far is superb. Can you drop us a hint of any future black gold you have lined up?

N: I can tell you now that I am working on a tape reissue of the second album of the Chileans ANIMUS MORTIS, and the second full-length of NOX DESPERATIO!

Two impeccable works!!!

Nice. Okay, I lied about that being the last question. While I’ve got you here, I’m going to sneak in a quick one regarding Selbst, as I fucking love Selbst: You’ve just released Secular Compendium – a remastered compilation of your demo and splits, which is excellent but serves to whet the appetite for more. So… any news on a new release?

N: For the moment I can only say I’m working on the next full album. But like the first one, I’ll take it easy, I want something worthy of showing!

But before that, next year will see to light the vinyl edition of my beloved “SELBST”! And more live performances as well…

Excellent, I can’t fucking wait. Sincerest thanks for your time, N. Any final words?

N: Many thanks to you for your interest in UNPLEASANT RECORDS and SELBST!

And don’t forget folks, “Without drugs, life would be a mistake”… Or was it music?

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Support Unpleasant Records:

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Hope and Permanence – An Interview with Unreqvited

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By Myrdin Cerphas

Anyone who has been following Unreqvited’s unique journey through melancholy, glittering atmosphere and intriguing contrasts through previous releases such as Disquiet and Stars Wept to the Sea will listen to his latest album Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur and find a more mature and grown-up take on depressive black / post-rock and orchestral music. It soars and grants the listener with a deep feeling of hope and longing, warmth and gentle caresses. The orchestral arrangements alone are composed with wonderment and awe. I really feel as if (as he is known) has really created a modern masterpiece not too dissimilar to traditional composers. Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur is the first installment in a two part series. I had a few questions for Canada’s own, so let us see what he had to say about everything.

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First and foremost I would like to tell you how much of an honor it is to be interviewing you and how much i enjoyed the dreamscape that is Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur. It has a deep sense of romanticism to it. To start with I’m going to ask one important thing: Your name is a kanji symbol that means ‘ghost’, if I am not mistaken. What does this name represent or mean to you?

– Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it. The anonymity is something that was inspired by tons of other one-man black metal bands. It adds a shroud of mystery around the music and the person/character creating it that I always found alluring. I chose kanji because of my interest in Japanese culture, and I chose the ghost kanji specifically because it just seemed to work with the atmosphere of the music. It’s very ethereal and otherworldly, like the character that creates it.

What inspired you to write this album, and what general emotion were you trying to convey in its sound?

Mosaic is split up into two parts. Mosaic I is inspired by all of the positive emotions I felt over the past year, like joy, love, warmth, etc. The album maintains this atmosphere up until the second half of the final track, “permanence”. The second half of this song foreshadows the sound of Mosaic II, which will completely oppose the vibe of Mosaic I. Both records were written together, so whether I was feeling positive or negative emotions would determine which album I would work on.

I have noticed that in your music synths, piano and a general passion for what some could call score is prevalent. Have the classical arts always been an interest for you? If so, when did it start?

– I got heavily into neo-classical music and film scores at a young age, so that sound has always been prevalent in all of the music I write. I always want the music I write to sound as layered and full as possible, so there’s usually quite a lot going on arrangement-wise.

With black metal as a genre taking many forms and sub genres in recent years, what does black metal mean to you, and how do you feel Unreqvited reflects how you define black metal?

– Honestly, the term doesn’t really mean a whole lot to me. I’m not exactly trying to write black metal music (I think that’s fairly obvious, given the sound of Mosaic I), I just write what I want to write and hopefully it resonates with other people. It’s just experimental music to me.

I have noticed that Patreon is something you use to get more intimate with your fans. It seems that your fans are quite important to you, where as some black metal artists are more hate filled and do not acknowledge the fans as you do. With that said, is Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur (which means “Love and Passion”) a “love song” to the fans, in a sense?

– I don’t use it as much as I should, but I do want that space to be more personal with the fans. I keep everything pretty much exclusively about the music on other social medias, because that’s the way I think it should be. Hence the anonymity.

Considering I’ve already released a record this year, in a sense, yes. This is a gift to everyone that has been supporting me since this started back in 2016. As I stated in the beginning of this interview, the album is inspired by all of the love and happiness I felt over the course of this year, and a great deal of that has come from the fans that support the project.

What type of art outside of music has influenced your sound with Unreqvited?

– Film has been a big one recently. Visual art in general always inspires me to write. I don’t really play any video games, but there are a couple that I’ve recently gotten back into that I used to play as a kid that are really inspiring me.

Now, onto the album itself. I have noticed that the album begins in an ‘awe and wonder’ type sound that starts softly, with a aura of ‘love’, and as you continue the album the ‘passion’ sound comes more into play. is that intentional, to have the music flow from ‘Love’ to ‘Passion’ as one listens to it?

– I don’t want to get too deep into the meaning behind the records. What it means to me may not be what in means to someone else, and I don’t want to ruin that interpretation for anyone.

While I listen to Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur I hear a sense of hope, yet longing. Was the emotion that the music invokes any representation of your own feelings towards life? If so, what is it like to make music personal to you that touches others from around the globe?

– My music will always be a representation of my own feelings towards life. Everything I write tends to have the melancholic, longing feel to it. Mosaic I is no exception, I just wanted it to be more hopeful sounding than what I’ve done in the past. I honestly never really thought my music would reach as many people as it has. I’ve only ever written music because it was therapeutic for me, but seeing how much it helps other people as well has pushed me to want to write more and more.

Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur is a very grand album. How do you go about composing and arranging such a complex work while still conveying something so powerful? It’s as if you do it so flawlessly. I must say, I am impressed.

– Tons of practice, I suppose. I’m absolutely addicted to the composing aspect, but I sometimes struggle with the actual production of the albums. That usually takes the most time to get everything sounding the way I want it to. Composing is by far what I’m most passionate about though, so the arrangements and everything come very naturally.

How did you originally gain the attention of Avantgarde Music, and did you enjoy being on a label with such a long history in black metal music? What made you then switch to Northen Silence Productions for this release?

– I think I just sent Rob a message once Stars Wept was completed and he really enjoyed the album and wanted to work together for its release. I’m a huge fan of tons of the artist on the roster, and had heard nothing but great things from friends that were on the label, so I was really happy and excited to work together. I wanted to experiment a little with this record, that’s why I went with Northern Silence for its release. Torsten and I have been talking about working together since Disquiet, and I always like branching out and working with new people. Avantgarde and I are working on something for 2019 though that the fans are really going to love. Very excited about it.

Is there anything you would like to say to the readers in closing?

– First off, I just want to say thank you to you for the interview, and for giving me a platform to talk more in-depth about the music. Thank you to everyone that has picked up the new record, It truly means the world that people all around the world are listening to and supporting the sounds that I make. I have so much more in the works for 2019, I hope you all stick around to see what’s in store.

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Purchase Unreqvited‘s Mosaic I: l’amour et l’ardeur on CD, vinyl or digitally from the band here, or through Northern Silence Productions here.

Support Unreqvited:

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Into the Unknown – An Interview with Wilt

“You forget what you want to remember, and you remember what you want to forget.”

― Cormac McCarthy, The Road

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Canadians Wilt are one of those bands that are far and away deserving of a great deal more attention than they receive. Their 2015 debut album Moving Monoliths was a subversively stunning slab of doom influenced, intense black bleakness that to this day receives regular spins on the BMD turntable, while their recent follow up Ruin takes that formula and infuses it with even more gut-wrenching misery and yearning atmospheric melancholia than ever before. Inspired by loss and Cormac McCarthy‘s The Road, this is one of those rare albums where you can hear the pain that went into its creation; it also somehow gets better and better each time I hear it so to say I’m ecstatic that the vinyl edition is finally dropping (and beginning to ship as we speak!) would be a massive understatement. I was lucky enough to grab founding member/vocalist Jordan Dorge to wax lyrical about the album and its themes for a while, so read on below and pick up a copy on digital/CD or a vinyl pre-order from the always-quality Vendetta Records… Releasing October 25th, shipping now.

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Greetings Jordan! I hope you are well, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Strangely, I can’t find many existing interviews from you guys online, so I’ll start with a basic question: How did Wilt form, and why does it exist?

– Wilt was formed in the winter months of 2010. Brett and I have been actively involved in the scene and playing with each other’s bands at the time and finally got together for a collaboration. We were writing music and conjuring some ideas in his basement. It was only going to be a studio project initially. When we released our first MLP the popularity of it kind of took us by surprise; so, with the momentum we enlisted a live lineup, played a few shows to test the waters and sure enough it was very well received. So with our follow-up album we had more of a band persona as opposed to a ‘studio only project’. And now, the idea has morphed into what you hear and see today.

Your second full-length Ruin has been out for a while now and in excellent news, the vinyl is finally almost upon us. Now that some time has passed, how do you feel about the album and the overall response to it? I personally think it’s great, I snagged a copy of Moving Monoliths, and you can bet I’ll be grabbing this one too!

– We are very very pleased with the response to it, quite honestly. It is our first concept album. Something I have never, ever done. Coupled with the events surrounding the recording, it is kind of therapeutic that people are understanding it and ‘get’ it.

When I first heard Ruin, I was struck by how much more “black metal” it felt than Moving Monoliths. It still has your trademark atmosphericism, but exchanges many of the more overt doom sections for even more depressive or post-black touches. However, in the lead up to writing these questions I did something I had not yet done: I listened to your 2012 self titled debut, which changed my whole perspective. I now have the full picture of where you have come from and I’m not sure how you yourselves may see it; but to me, Ruin appears much closer in tone and style to that melancholy debut record than anything else. Was it a conscious creative decision to return to a more concentrated atmospheric/depressive black sound after those crushing total doom moments that lined Moving Monoliths? Or, was it just something that flowed naturally throughout the process?

– Bands constantly evolve and if you stay the same from album to album it could get pretty monotonous. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule. We always wanted to have a bit of the black metal/depressive side in there somehow and I think we always had it; just our rendition of that. Funny enough a lot of people think we are a doom band more than black metal. When writing this piece it seemed to be a time when our lives were in the most tumult and lots of painful things were happening around. So with that a lot of anger, pain and agony came through the writing.

The album is also a concept album, thematically based on Cormac McCarthy‘s 2006 novel The Road. Now I must shamefully admit that I have not read it; I’ve only seen the movie and while the movie is incredible, I’m sure the book tops even that for sheer soul-shattering bleakness. For those who are unfamiliar with both, could you expand a little on the overarching theme and why you have used it as inspiration for Ruin?

– Well, Cormac McCarthy is a fantastic writer. He has a very unique style that can be very hard to crack sometimes, but he has an impeccable way of describing atmosphere and feelings. Now with this in mind, the story is about the bond of a father and son through a seemingly apocalyptic event, leaving next to no one around and little to no resources as well. A lot of fight for survival moments. Now, I kinda twisted the myth a bit in the writing for Ruin. Used it as HEAVY inspiration but also wrote my own narrative alongside it. The book itself is such an inspiration because stories about survival against the odds are very inspirational to me, and I especially love the bleakness that Cormac captured. Something I really try and capture in Wilt a lot. I strive to create bleak yet hopeful lyrics, and this was just a perfect inspiration to surround the creation of Ruin.

I feel
Ruin is a more emotionally charged piece than Moving Monoliths, which believe me, is saying something. I hope this isn’t prodding a wound and feel free to not answer, but I think I may have read somewhere that this album was also informed by a great loss. Is this album dedicated to anyone in particular?

– Yeah it is. During the recording process of Ruin we lost a dear friend of ours by the name of Chad Alsop who was the phenomenal guitar/vocalist of the sludge/rock band Dead Ranch. He was such an inspiring individual. Always smiled, always supported his friends, just the best person you can ever imagine. On a very unfortunate night he took his life. Someone who otherwise has been a giant beam of light in everyone’s eyes. Shook me to my core and the scene was rattled, and the whole year just couldn’t shine as bright as it did. When recording the vocals all the feelings of loss, anger, pain and guilt came to a head. It was almost therapeutic. Also, our former drummer Myke learned of the news the night before he went in to record drums and we had 2-3 days booked at the studio. He finished drums in 1 day. I’d like to say this loss was partly due to that.

Fuckin’ Chad.

Since the first EP that was recorded as a two-piece, your lineup has expanded markedly. How have you found working as a full band? Who takes care of the writing, or is it a shared load and a more democratic process?

– The writing process has been a bit more collaborative, but mostly the same. Brett handles the composition, guitars, rough drums etc. and I write lyrics, then the changes are made collectively throughout the writing and learning process.

I’ve also noticed that you now have another new drummer in

Jordan, who from the outside certainly does a stellar job (I’m a particular fan of his work in ‘We Read The World Wrong’). What circumstances lead to Myke leaving the band, and how did you discover Jordan?

– Jordan hasn’t recorded with us yet and he has been doing an incredible job. Quite honestly best case scenario since Mykes departure. Myke absolutely destroyed the drums on Ruin. We really got lucky that we found Jordan as it was very hard to find someone of that caliber. And as far as Mykes departure: He has been struggling with some mental health issues and was taking on way too much, so he felt it necessary to take a step away and focus on family. Which we completely respected.

For the vinyl release of Ruin, you have again partnered with Vendetta Records. You seem to have a wonderful relationship brewing there, how has it been to work with them?

– Vendetta has been absolutely amazing to work with. Stefan is truly a godsend when it comes to physical product. He saved Moving Monoliths from being on waitlist limbo, and this was the first CD and vinyl release we did with him and we couldn’t be happier.

The album has some great cover art that is very representational of the sounds contained within. I also like the title matching and almost incorporating into your logo; that’s a really nice touch. Who was the artist? Did you provide them with much conceptual direction, or did they have free reign to create based upon the music?

– Super funny thing about the artwork. Samuel Nelson is really great at what he does. I worked with him on our very first album and some stuff for my other bands. He does really great work. When I described this album art I didn’t want to tell him that it was inspired by the road. I told him the idea and he nailed it. I wanted to capture desperation, drear and desolation in this because of everything surrounding this album. I later learned that he happened to be reading The Road while doing the album art for us. SUPER strange coincidence, haha.

Hearing that a band or artist is Canadian always makes me prick up my ears; you have a killer and varied scene and produce some of the most compelling black sounds around. Nobody would know the scene better than a local, so are there any underground bands or close friends doing excellent things that you’d like to give a shout out to? Anyone you believe deserves far more attention than they’ve been getting?

– Oh man, there are far too many to name, honestly. But I definitely think Winnipeg itself has one of the better scenes across Canada, so I’ll start there. I’ll start with like-minded bands such as ourselves. Ogimaa is absolutely fantastic sludge/doom, some of the most punishing I’ve seen live. Ossific is a strange black metal entity. They capture a really unique aspect of atmospheric black metal, HIGHLY recommend. Then there is straight up black metal/death metal friends Cell. They are fantastic musicians and create this Immortal-esque cosmic blackened death metal sound. It’s always a treat seeing them. And transitioning into death metal we have a band here called Regurgitated Guts which is some straight up death metal, just a great band full of great multi-banded/multi-talented people. There is far more, but that would take another whole interview, HAHA.

So… what’s next for Wilt? Do you have any good shows coming up that you’re particularly excited about?

– We are really excited to announce our vinyl release show in our hometown on November 10th. We will be having Ogimaa, Ossific and new black metallers Nocturnal Departure at the event. We are extremely excited about it. Beyond that, we would really like to come Stateside if we can and do our usual festival runs.

Thanks again for your time, guys. It’s been a pleasure. Any final words or wisdom you’d like to impart?

– Upon answering these questions, I was just reflecting on Chad and I want to express the fact that if you’re depressed or suicidal please, please, please talk to someone, get help. You have someone there to help. Some people have said our music has helped them, of which we are incredibly humbled both to hear and to have helped.

Thank you so much for the interview and I hope people enjoy Ruin.

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Purchase Ruin digitally or on vinyl/CD from the Wilt Bandcamp here or from Vendetta Records here.

Support WILT:

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Surpassing Death – An Interview with Lichborne

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Turning away from all evidence

Turning their backs on human kind

This is an act of war deserving death

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Greetings, hails, word, and all manner of other delightful salutations. As you may or may not recall, DIY US label Realm and Ritual’s opening dyad of destructive black metal releases have already popped up on these filth-stained pages that attempt to pass off as a webzine. Well, dropping tomorrow is the next blackened delight on the schedule to cop a hand-dubbed in real time, numbered, folded and stamped limited edition tape: the debut album from US horde Lichborne. An outfit that has seemingly sprung up overnight with their killer first full-length ready to be unleashed, the fine gentlemen of Wesley Nolan, Austin Brattan, Dan Smith and Hunter Adams have in actuality been honing their craft since 2014, sharpening all their tools and creating a lethal, old-school influenced beast. After conjuring up an eponymous EP a couple of years ago they’ve since then been working on In Brightness Shadows Loom – hard work that has undoubtedly paid off in spades as the album is a definite surprise earworm, burrowing it’s way in unexpectedly with shrieks and riffs galore until immovably ensconced in your amygdala. I had to get in touch with them to pick their brains (only fair, seeing as they’d just lodged an entire fucking album in mine) and learn more about it, starting with: What is Lichborne, and why does it exist?

– Lichborne is an outlet, both creatively and emotionally. It’s a form of expression while also a means of coping with the struggles of life. We make music that best portrays and communicates our frustrations. As far as our name, a Lich is a creature from your regular fantasy titles. Essentially it is necromancer that binds his soul to some vessel and achieves immortality separate of his physical existence. At this point they have become undead, they have surpassed death yet also revel in it. In a sense they are a lingering spirit. Our name attempts to play on this concept. Lichborne means that you are destined for death, it is a birthright that no one can escape despite attempts to prolong it.

Fantastic. I love it when some thought goes into the name of a project. So, your debut full-length In Brightness Shadows Loom has just been released. Now that it has been unfettered and set free to spread and infect the world with its darkness, what is your opinion about the album? What does it mean to you?

– We are incredibly proud of the album’s outcome. We record, mix, and master in our own home studio. Thinking back to what we started with it’s clear that we have come a long way with regards to mixing. Musically, we think it is our best material yet. It flows naturally while also having enough variety to keep the listener engaged. It is introspective, atmospheric, and emotional; it has the darkest sound and direction that we have achieved thus far and we really like that about it. It holds a lot of meaning to us considering it was the work of nearly 2 years writing and recording. Much of the album’s lyrics are personal to us and deal with our own internal struggles which can be seen as the album grows darker and darker. It is a reflection of our own thoughts.

You should be proud, it sounds really solid for a debut. You speak of coming a long way – how do you personally feel In Brightess Shadows Loom differs from your first EP?

– The atmosphere, meaning, and thought behind In Brightness Shadows Loom is much darker and more in depth than what we accomplished on our EP. There is so much more emotion that can be felt through the new album, the lyrical concepts became closer, focused inwards rather than out. Our takes on song structure were very different on this album as we experimented to create more atmosphere. And of course, the mix of our new album helps in this as well as we have improved drastically since the EP.

I agree. I particularly like the opening track, you can hear the difference straight out of the gate. Speaking of the opening salvo, I’m curious: What does “Incipit Ignis Interius” translate to, and what is its meaning?

– Incipit Ignis Interius roughly translates to “the fire starts from within.” The meaning behind the song plays with the mythology behind Prometheus, how he gave humanity fire which then spurred further innovations and progress yet he was punished by the Gods for doing so despite how beneficial it was. It then draws comparison between Prometheus and Christianity’s antagonist Satan, how his rebellion was punished despite that rebellion being what was beneficial for humanity. It touches on the idea of society without the restraints of religion, how much progress could be made or could have already been made without it holding most people down and looming some sort of punishment over them. That progress, or that flame metaphorically, has to start from within from person to person.

Indeed it does. I personally do dream of that idea becoming reality… perhaps one day. Anyway, that track kicks off an absolutely killer journey – far from being a monotonous experience, we find a wide range of styles present on the album. What were some of your influences during the writing process?

– We all come from very different musical backgrounds which offers a lot of variety. Some of us are more thrash oriented, some are more death and doom oriented, and some of are more depressive-oriented and that makes for a diverse sound across the album. What we all come together on is black metal and we try our best to carve our unique atmosphere and sound in our music based on our influences. Sometimes in the studio we could be listening to Goatwhore, sometimes it would be Xasthur, or other times it would be Marduk. With everyone’s varying backgrounds, the music style and direction that we are engaged with at the time could shift fairly significantly which can offer a breath of fresh air sometimes. As the album progressed though and got darker with every song, there was a lot more depressive influences seeping in.

While all the performances on the album are great, the vocals are especially impressive. The layering and variety create quite the compelling listen; it’s actually what hooked me in to the album at first. From where have you drawn inspiration for this performance?

– Our vocalist’s background started in death metal. He had already established the typical death metal scream and growl. With black metal, the screams are more prominent than growls typically and they tend to drive the majority of the song so a lot of work was spent on improving with that. One huge influence vocally to expand beyond the typical scream was the performance of Onielar in Bethlehem’s latest album and of course this discography of Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult. Her vocals are tapped into something far different than the usual scream. So our vocalist worked on it and found a new type of scream, almost like mixing falsettos and screaming in a way that produced a bloodcurdling volume and sound (it’s actually extremely loud compared to typical screaming). So with that and his already established styles, we were able to combine those and mix and match across the album to find new combinations that flowed and added to the song. We found that changing vocal styles would sometimes add more impact, express more emotion, and just flow naturally in certain parts of the songs so we continued to try and analyze what would best benefit the song’s overall performance.

Well, it’s fucking astonishing and one of the definite high-points of the whole package. Anyway – the album is also being released in limited hand-dubbed tape format by cult label Realm and Ritual on October 19th. How did this come about? I’m a big fan of the old-school ethos this label has shown so far, how has it been to work with them?

– Realm and Ritual contacted us after we released That Which Halts My Slumber as a single. They liked the sound and emotion of our music and started talks about cassette distribution which we were excited about. So we kept in touch while we worked on completing the album. We completed the album, began organizing with each other, and now it’s out there ready to be listened to. Realm and Ritual has been great to work with. They keep everything simple and straightforward while delivering a quality product. They were incredibly patient as our album’s completion was anticipated to be done long before it was actually done. They could have easily moved on but continued to support us instead, which we are thankful for.

They are doing good things, great to see a label backing you despite a delay. And finally… what’s next for Lichborne?

– We are not anticipating live performances yet although it is not out of the question. Our schedules don’t exactly line up as we would like them to for that to be possible as of now. But we are working on getting CD distribution for the album so that we can get that physical copy out too. For the future, we are already working on new material and we have great ideas for what we want to come of this new album. We are aiming for something stronger, darker, and more impactful. It will be full of emotion and atmosphere that we have not fully tapped into yet and we are excited to work on that and get it out as soon as we can.

Excellent. Looking forward to the new material. All the best guys, and thanks for your time.

Available now at Realm and Ritual for an October 19th release.

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Purchase In Brightness Shadows Loom digitally or on limited hand-dubbed cassette from Bandcamp here.

Support LICHBORNE:

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Of Elves and Men – An Interview with Tom O’Dell of Dwarrowdelf

Yes, you may recall we already considered UK one-man epic black metal project Dwarrowdelf‘s debut album The Sons of Fëanor some time ago. Indeed, the Wolfspell Records CD and digital versions of the album were released back then to great acclaim amongst fans of Tolkien and epic black metal alike. However, seeing as it’s on the cusp of copping a glorious October 19th limited cassette edition from the great Fólkvangr Records (sign up for a notification of its release here so you don’t miss out) plus I’m a sizeable fan of both Fólkvangr Records and Dwarrowdelf, I figured why not finally get main man and Tolkien fanatic Tom O’Dell in to talk about the album and upcoming cassette release?

Luckily, not only was he more than happy to oblige but he’s also one of the most genuine and down to earth artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of interviewing. Plus, he had a LOT to say; so without further ado read on below and enter the fantastic, mythical world of Dwarrowdelf. Oh and everybody flood his inbox with requests for that deathgrind album too – I need to hear that thing.

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Hello, Tom! It’s great to finally talk to you after reviewing your excellent debut full-length The Sons Of Fëanor a while back, I hope we find you well. So, the album has been out on CD and digital for over five months now… time flies. How do you feel about it now with the benefit of hindsight? I’ve personally seen a lot of hype for it, are you pleased with how it has been received?

– It’s been more positive than I possibly could have imagined! In the first couple of weeks of release it was topping a bunch of the Bandcamp tag chart things, so that was a little amazing! I’ve been blown away by the amount of support I’ve seen from reviewers and fans alike, so my thanks to everyone who’s said something nice about the album, wherever it may be. Five months down the line as an artist, you’re always going to look back at the album and think, “oh, why didn’t I do that bit this way?” but it’s in the hands of the fans now, and they seem really pleased with it! Another advantage of having been so lucky to receive so many reviews is that I’ve been able to approach album 2 with various perspectives of what strengths I can play to.

One of the first things that struck me about the album before I’d even heard a single note (and that actually made me want to check it out all the more) was your subversive little stab of humour in the promo blurb: “…walking the utterly untrodden path of Tolkien-based epic black metal”. I mentioned in the review that the self-awareness was refreshing; Tolkien’s work certainly hasn’t been short of a band or two taking inspiration from it. Why do you personally feel that his tales resonate so well with black metal, and what made you want to have a crack at the style for yourself?

– I think the first track I wrote was In Moria, In Khazad-dûm; I was rereading Lord of the Rings, and came across the Song of Durin that Gimli sings. I started absent-mindedly humming those lyrics to the tune of Land of the Dead, which I guess set things off… then a couple of weeks later I was at Wacken Open Air, and on the way back from something power metal-ly a friend and I started drunkenly singing “The Misty Mountains” from the Hobbit films. Obviously these two occurences meant that, by the eternal laws of metal, I needed to start a solo atmoblack project as a matter of urgency…

In all seriousness, I think Tolkien’s work resonates with so many people because of way that he presents such a detailed and fantastic world in such an accessible way. I don’t know if you’ve read Malazan Book of the Fallen (the source material for Caladan Brood), but it’s so ridiculously tricky to follow. Combine Tolkien’s accessibility with those stunning films (yeah, I love all six Peter Jackson films… fight me :p), and there’s such a wealth of material for musicians to explore, within the atmoblack scene and beyond.

I’ve loved Lord of the Rings for so long, and discovering Summoning shed a whole new light on the books. I know some people prefer Caladan Brood’s upbeat take on the Summoning genre, but I think people forget that a Summoning album doesn’t get old; every new listen reveals another layer, and it represents the complexity of Middle-Earth perfectly. So, six months after discovering them, I decided to be original and start a Tolkien epic black metal band!

Admittedly it has been a long while since I’ve read the source material The Silmarillion but it is on my list to read again soon, largely thanks to this album, in fact. For those who perhaps have not read the works of Tolkien and are thus unaware of the tale: could you briefly summarise the overarching theme depicted in The Sons Of Fëanor and tell us a bit about why you selected this particular story arc as the core of the album?

– Oh man, that’s a good question… I love elves in most fantasy worlds; they’re elegant, they’re fierce, they’ve got awesome hair… this list could go on. The seven sons of Fëanor are an exception to the classic good guy elf narrative though, which makes them really fascinating characters to explore. Essentially, Fëanor was living in the Undying Lands, made three really pretty jewels (like… really pretty), but Morgoth (aka Sauron’s boss back in the day) stole them and ran off to Middle Earth. Fëanor made his seven sons swear an oath to go and help him get them back, but said oath led them to commit a large number of atrocities, including three genocides and some mild kidnapping. In the end, only two sons were left alive at the end of the First Age when Morgoth was finally defeated. One of them, Maedhros, grabbed a Silmaril and then jumped into a volcano in agony; and the other, Maglor, was doomed to walk beside the ocean forever, lamenting the losses the Oath had caused.

Having done an EP about Dwarves, I was planning on sticking to the underground theme and doing a song about the second kinslaying (which is where the Sons assault an underground elvish kingdom, Doriath), but it swiftly became apparent that a song per son would be a great concept! I feel like I perhaps should have tied it together more with some leitmotif’s and thematic consistency, but I think I managed to give each son an accurate theme.

Going by some of the playing on display here I’m going to have a guess that you’re a guitarist/keysman at heart. When did you first pick up an instrument, and what is your musical background? Is Dwarrowdelf your first black metal project?

– I’ve been playing piano since I was 4, and had a variety of classical and rock singing teachers through school. I think I started self-teaching myself guitar around 16, and then I had to translate that into bass when I got drafted into a hair metal band at uni. As you may have guessed, I can’t play drums for shit, but I’ve learnt how to write basic drums through lots of trial and error! Oh, and I think a few years of French horn were in there somewhere too! Harsh vocals I sort of just learnt out of necessity; I wouldn’t say I enjoy doing them, and I guess that comes across in how average they are! I’d say singing and guitar are my twin loves; it took me a while to feel comfortable having a deeper singing voice, especially as so many prolific metal singers are tenors, but the reception to Dwarrowdelf has really helped with my singing confidence. Guitar is another one where I’ve had to accept that I’m not Yngwie Malmsteen, but I can actually bash out a decent riff; I’d advise any musician who doubts themselves to keep playing, keep exploring ways to play, and you will find your strengths.

I was in many bands through uni – the advantages of studying History, I had way too much free time! My first black(ened death) metal band is called Deavhronun, which, according to an online Black Speech translator, means “Dethroned”. We released a tongue-in-cheek album about Mayhem that has even worse drums than Of Darkened Halls, although it’s pretty fun and silly. We’re slowly working our way towards the next album, which is incorporating a bit of a wider pool of influence and leaning more towards death metal perhaps… kind of inevitable when our vocalist sounds like the lovechild of Johan Hegg and Nergal! As mentioned, I also spent time playing 80s hair metal in a band called P.I.N.K. Lüng, which was stupidly good fun; although that band has come to a natural conclusion we’ve almost finished a power metal album which I guess is a kind of spiritual successor. I still can’t leave fantasy alone though; the lyrics for that are all Elder Scrolls themed!

Oh, and I’ve made a 6 track, 8 minute long deathgrind album that exclusively uses Gimli samples as vocals. I’ll drop that one day!

On the debut EP it seemed like you were finding your sound and experimenting with what you wanted to achieve, whereas this album shows a lot more confidence. The rawer, darker and riff-heavy ideas on the three tracks that comprise Of Darkened Halls have been expanded upon and fleshed out with a more epic, grander scope; plus with more space/tracks to work with overall you are really able to take the listener on a wonderful and immersive journey. Even the production shows a solid improvement. I’d imagine knowing that The Sons Of Fëanor would be a full-length album changed your creative process at least a little; was there anything you consciously did differently from the EP, or any progressions made on this album that you feel you’re especially happy with this time around?

– You’ve hit the nail on the head there; Of Darkened Halls was about figuring out what Dwarrowdelf could sound like, whereas The Sons of Fëanor defined what Dwarrowdelf does sound like (at least until album 2 comes out…). I knew which bits I felt worked best from the first EP, and sort of just made sure I focused the sound a bit? I also spent a lot more time listening to different inspirations to broaden my area of influence, as I knew that keeping a listener interested for an hour is a bit of a task! It was also really helpful working out the tracklist sooner rather than later; for example, when setting out to write Maglor, I knew that it needed a massive outro to close off the album, and I knew that Amrod needed to be mysterious and intriguing from the start. Production wise, I also knew which synths I liked in hindsight, and which sounds were a bit bad! My favourite synth on the album is that Eldamar-esque key synth that has a moment of glory in Curufin – once I’d made it, I ended up going back and slipping it in most of the tracks!

So as previously mentioned, the CD and digital has been available for a while… but now the cassette edition is finally coming out through the great Fólkvangr Records. How have you found working with both Wolfspell and Fólkvangr? Are these both partnerships you hope will continue into the future?

– I mean, I’ll forever be grateful to Michał at Wolfspell for being keen to pick up the album; being able to hold a physical album with my music on is thanks to him and his belief in this project! Fólkvangr has been so awesome; I’d always heard great things about Mark and when he approached me to discuss a cassette release I only had to think about it for 0.0001 seconds. He’s so communicative, and the fact that we’re both massive Tolkien nerds has only made it better! I reckon album 2 will fit nicely into the Fólkvangr catalogue with the way it’s shaping up, so hopefully this is just the beginning.

This may also be a good time to highlight the fact that the first EP Of Darkened Halls has also just been re-released with remastered audio! What’s the story behind that? Where can we find it, will there be a physical release?

Of Darkened Halls got remastered for inclusion as a bonus for the vinyl release of Sons of Fëanor, thanks to Henri Sorvali at Trollhouse Audio. I did a fair bit of remixing too; replaced the awful drum sounds, slipped that Eldamar-synth in, replaced some of the more piercing flute synths etc. Ever since Sons got put on Spotify, I’ve had the occasional message asking if Of Darkened Halls will ever join it. I’m still really not sure what’s happening with the vinyl, so I decided to release the 3 remastered tracks for free, which tied in nicely with the anniversary of the EP and Dwarrowdelf. It also gave me a chance to make the logo on the cover art less… um… horrible!

One thing that I find rather neat and some people may not be aware of, is that you have your own Spotify playlist comprised of tracks that inspired the writing of The Sons of Fëanor. That’s a great way to offer a little bit more to interested fans, allowing a brief glimpse behind the curtain of what inspires your creative process. Can you run us through the sort of thing we will find on there, and how these tracks influenced The Sons Of Fëanor? Is the playlist something that you’ll likely continue for future releases?

– You have done your research, I’m impressed! Yeah, I make a habit of keeping the playlist updated with whatever is inspiring writing, whether it be massive influences like Wintersun or just a great atmosphere like Asira or Cairiss (check out those bands btw!). I’ve seen a few bands do playlists like that, and just thought it was a nice idea for those who are interested! It also means that, if I’ve been writing power metal or something for weeks, I can just put on the playlist and get back in the atmoblack zone! There’s some surprising songs on there, so definitely give it a listen if you’re interested.

I was also reading in a previous interview you did with OccultBlackMetalZine that you study Byzantine history, which is fascinating. I don’t profess to know much about it but that’s the Eastern Roman Empire, if I’m correct? I’m sure there’s some kind of correlation between an interest in history and Tolkien’s work; do you feel your studies have ever influenced you artistically?

– Yeah, Byzantium was the Eastern Roman Empire; a lot of people think the Roman Empire ended in ancient times but it clung on in the east till 1453, gradually getting more and more Greek! I guess I think of the medieval and ancient worlds in a similar way to fantasy like Tolkien. It’s so different to the world we know today, which means you can dive in and lose yourself. That being said, I’ve written two dissertations on the Byzantines totalling 25,000 words in the past two years, so I’m pretty done with writing about them for now! As Bilbo Baggins once said, I need a holiday…

I believe that thanks to your other projects you’re no stranger to a live environment; have you ever thought about taking Dwarrowdelf on the road?

– Oh man, that would be so logistically complicated… short answer is yes, if there’s ever the opportunity and I have the time and money to do it justice.

I’m stupidly busy most of the time now, and if I were to be offered a one off show or something, I’d really want to make sure I had an awesome group of musicians who were interested and we could do the songs justice, because that’s what they deserve! I know atmospheric bands like Sojourner have made the transition to live shows with aplomb, so I’m sure it’s doable for me too. I’d just hate to let fans down. I’d also feel morally obliged to do a Wintersun cover, so we’d need to find a guitarist who can shred like Jari, because I sure as hell can’t!

And finally: You’ve written about Tolkien’s Dwarves on the debut EP, while The Sons of Fëanor is all about the Elves… What will be the next tale you tell? Orcs, humans perhaps?

– Album 2 does have a theme, but in a different way to Sons. I don’t want to give too much away yet – this interview is to promote the first album after all – but I think it’ll grab people. It’s more conceptual I guess, but each song stands strong in its own right. It is, of course, Tolkien through and through.

Sincerest thanks for your time, Tom! It’s been a true pleasure. Any final words for everyone?

– Thanks to the readers for reading all of my ramblings, thanks to you for the fantastic thought-provoking questions, and thanks to everyone who’s supported the project! The cassettes look awesome, you should all totally go and buy one.

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Purchase The Sons of Fëanor digitally from the Dwarrowdelf Bandcamp here, on digipack CD from Wolfspell Records here, or sign up to grab a limited cassette on October 19th from Fólkvangr Records here.

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