ALBUM PREMIERE & INTERVIEW: Valaraukar’s ‘Demonian Abyssal Visions’

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The world’s foundations

Alight in hellish flame

Red eyes behold the heart of ruin

Embracing the glory of blasphemy

Rejoice in the beauty of pure destruction

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I love watching a project develop. Back in Bandcamp Misanthropy: Volume 17 we took a brief look at devastating Scottish dyad Valaraukar and their debut demo EP Harnessing of Hostile Forces, which I was extremely amped about and looking forward to their upcoming full-length debut that was in the works at the time. Well, that same full-length is finally being unleashed upon us via the considerable might of Iron Bonehead Productions – and we are honoured to be streaming it in full for you here today.

Delivering on the promises made by the demo with ease, Demonian Abyssal Visions takes all the aggression and songwriting nous displayed there and rips it wide open to flow untempered and screaming into our realm. Their knack for writing a commanding tune is propelled to even greater heights by three driving forces: the immense riffage, a deliciously antagonistic guitar tone and the punishing percussive assault. Taking ancient Scandinavian blueprints and infusing them with both scathing modern ire and a disregard for genre norms, Vagath (guitars, vox) is channelling power beyond belief and creates riffs all through this thing that will make you want to destroy everything in close range, while skinsman Sovereign is utterly omnipotent on the drums and always does precisely what the song needs, as if propelled by mystic intuition.

Weaving a web of visceral sonic impact is all well and good, certainly, but it’s also perilously clear that Vagath brings the pain both thematically and in vocal delivery too – his compelling, archetypal bark seems drawn from other worlds as he roars profound doctrines and metaphysic convictions. I’ll let him explain this in greater detail however, as today we also have both Vagath and Sovereign here to tell us all about it and lift the veil ever so slightly on the creation of these visions made form. So read on below, listen deeply and bear witness as Valaraukar become absolute world eaters… for, considering the arcane sigils and violent esotericism present in this remarkable debut incantation, the void that they summon between them shall undoubtedly devour us all.

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Hails Valaraukar! Great to speak with you. I’ve been awaiting your debut album since your demo last year, and now it has finally arrived – the intensely diabolical Demonian Abyssal Visions, which we are streaming in full here today. So first up, how do you both feel about the album? What was your goal, did you achieved what you wanted to with it?

Vagath: Each time I listen back to the album I’m consistently satisfied with the sound, it has everything I would have hoped to capture with our live sound and playing style in mind. The goal was to keep it raw, energised, tight and aggressive and it ticks all the boxes for me. The guitar sound is suitably full and yet has that defined raw edge on it.

Sovereign: It’s difficult to look at an album you created yourself in a way comparable to other music – the process of recording and writing absorbs you – puts you through the wringer, even. When it’s done, it’s hard to know what to think – the relationship to one’s own material is unique. To listen to the finished product, to know that you brought it into existence – there’s pride in that, especially knowing I gave my all.

The two tracks from the demo both reappear here, ‘Harnessing of Hostile Forces’ renamed from ‘Hostile Forces’ to match the actual title of the demo. Did you change anything else about those two tracks for the album versions?

V: Ah, so using the shortened name on the demo then extending it for the album, that was a conscious decision taken back in early 2018 when working on the demo. The album version is a bit faster, it felt like it had more attack when we sped it up. Some drum parts were slightly different on the album version as well.

It’s a high energy yet pulverizing, heavily riff-driven piece of work. I particularly enjoy the moments when it breaks out in more d-beat, rocking or even almost thrashy parts – I daresay you had more than simply blasting, traditional black metal in mind during the compositional process. What were some of the influences or personal musical touchpoints you drew from whilst creating the album?

V: There’s not a style in mind as we’re writing, and the range of influences is pretty vast. The out and out blasting style is a factor of course, but so are others like dissonant, cavernous, styles or slow parts with picking riffs in there. The material is constantly evolving. It’s never going to lose the edge because that edge is utterly vital.

S: Rhythmically, black metal has a lot of options on the table; often more than it ultimately decides to exploit. I actually have a real love for some of that quintessential blastbeat-centric black metal… but there can be so much bombast and manic-energy in something like a d-beat that I’d have been remiss not to find a place for some in the material.

The press release states that Vagath is driven by “inner demons and primal aspects of the subconscious” to create his art, which sounds fascinating. Could you tell us a little about that, and the creative process involved in these songs? Are those aforementioned themes also touched upon lyrically throughout the record?

V: The creative process is almost entirely introspective, it’s coming from within me rather than from anything external. To write anything truly evocative it’s necessary to look pretty deep and to get in touch with something, then give form to these abstract visions by weaving in some poetry and translating into vivid scenarios.

Whatever inner power I’m connecting with is not clearly defined, “primal” is probably a fair description. I could expand more on this but for now I’ll just say this: it’s unquestionably an empowering process, and that empowerment is a strong theme in itself. I think this is evident in the music.

It is most definitely present in the lyrics, that’s what ‘Harnessing of Hostile Forces’ is referring to. It is a factor lyrically in other songs but that one refers to it directly.

Valaraukar was born from the ashes of your previous band NNGNN (or Nolti Nan Gana Nan Nolta). Why did you decide to end that project and begin afresh with Valaraukar, as opposed to simply continuing under the same name?

V: It was time to take a more uncompromising and honed approach. In a sense it was a new direction, but it was also a natural evolution from where we were with that previous entity. To me it’s now all about Valaraukar, not particularly keen to look back at what came before.

Speaking of names – the name Valaraukar is another word for Balrogs in Tolkien’s work. At a cursory glance I couldn’t spot anything, but does the Tolkien theme flow through into any other aspect of the project? What drew you towards selecting this moniker to represent your sound?

V: I do have a connection with Tolkien’s Legendarium, I actually wanted to use this name back in 2008 or so with another project but never got the opportunity. The lyrics for ‘Servants of the Nameless’ refer to the Valaraukar, apart from that there is no other direct use of Tolkien themes. Several themes appear on the album.

The cover art is quite striking, showing what appears to be a void opening up between two stone columns. Who is the artist, and what does the cover signify in relation to the album?

V: The cover art (and our logo) were done by the formidable View From the Coffin. The pillars represent myself and Sovereign, the void in the centre is the screaming abyss that these raw visions are drawn from. Demonian, or demonic, because the whole process is dark and driven by inner demons. Abyssal, because there is an indefinable depth and majestic power at work alongside the direct aggression, this more prominent at some times than others.

In great news, Demonian Abyssal Visions has been picked up for release on LP and CD by the mighty Iron Bonehead Productions. You must be pleased with that, how did this partnership come to pass?

V: I contacted IBP linking them to our demo and expressing our desire to work with them, they are formidable and we have a lot of respect for them. They must have heard something in the demo they liked. IBP are always one to watch, they release a lot of good material, I’m sitting digesting some as I write this.

In my opinion, the music of Valaraukar is a strong exponent of one key ingredient that I believe should be present in the best of black metal – power. You can feel it seething like electricity in your compositions, empowering and charging you with dark vitality. Do you feel this is an important part of what black metal is to you?

V: Absolutely. Feeling empowered by the music is essential, without that it’s nothing. I think it starts the other way round, pouring that power into the material with vision, inspiration, emotion or whatever else makes it what it is. For someone who is not empowered by playing black metal, the end result is not going to be powerful in itself.

For me Demonian Abyssal Visions has captured that power you refer to, more so than anything I’ve been a part of in the past.

And finally – What’s next for the two of you? Are you working on any new material, or perhaps considering taking Valaraukar to the live setting and playing some shows?

V: Live shows are on the horizon, when the right opportunities come up. So far we have one appearance booked, playing with Desaster / Root / Archgoat / Mork in London, on the 1st of December. A monstrous lineup!

There is new material in the works but we haven’t written much at this stage. The next album will be quite different, that much is clear.

Sincerest thanks for your time, Valaraukar. Any parting words for us all?

V: Mastery Of Diabolical Strength!

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Demonian Abyssal Visions unleashes June 21st under the banner of Iron Bonehead Productions.

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Support Valaraukar:

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TRACK PREMIERE & INTERVIEW: ‘Bandages Over Boards’ by The Projectionist

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How often are you fully invested in art whilst experiencing it? I don’t mean merely liking something – I mean having every iota of your attention immovably locked on to whatever it is you’re seeing or listening to, gripped by it. It’s something that’s unfortunately not common enough, as most art seems satisfied to be mere background noise or passive entertainment… which is where Canada’s The Projectionist then comes in, the very antithesis of those simplistic ambitions.

Led by the inimitable Lörd Matzigkeitus (The Black Sorcery, Thy Sepuchral Moon, many more), he and his extended horde of fellow cacodemons Parageist, Destroyer, Malphas and Orpheus aren’t content with the mundane, and instead have crafted a viciously engaging and conceptually dazzling black metal opera that veritably demands your attention. Entitled Visits From The NightHag and split over two parts – the first dropped on All Hallows Eve last year whilst Part 2 is currently bearing down on us at pace ahead of its June 28th unveiling through Appalachian Noise Records – it tells the tale of George, the Projectionist of Todendorf, and his tumultuous encounters with the titular NightHag. It’s a challenging, intensely personal and utterly entrancing piece of art, and we here at BMD are proud to present you an exclusive listen to the second last act of the forthcoming Part 2 – the ripping ‘Bandages Over Boards’.

A dynamic journey of a track, it has some undeniably killer riffs holding it together as it careens along wildly, through varying emotions that manifest at the end of this sprawling tale – but I don’t want to say too much about it, as in another incredible stroke of good fortune we have the Lörd himself here to unravel some of the mysteries behind this macabre and affecting work and he’s one of the most eloquent and forthcoming guests to ever grace these stained pages. So settle in, listen above, read on below… and give yourself over to the compelling tale of The Projectionist.

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Greetings, Lörd Matzigkeitus! Sincerest thanks for speaking with us today, I hope you are well.

LM: Good evening. My pleasure…

Part Two of your Visits from the NightHag series is being unleashed very soon, less than a year after the captivating Part One. So, let’s get it straight from the creator: what’s happening in the NightHag universe? Where do we pick up with our protagonist George this time?

LM: After suffering a wildly invasive surgery to save his life from unexplainable necrosis of the legs, George comes back to consciousness half a man, and begins to spin a phantasmagorical tale to the attending Doctor Bendix. The baffled physician tries to piece together the events leading up to George’s current state. What he hears, will shatter his psyche and move the poor Doctor on a most foul trajectory… (but that is another story altogether)

For those unfamiliar with your inspirations and personal connection to the story being told – could you tell us a little about the genesis of the NightHag series, and why it exists?

LM: The NightHag story began as a simple conversation about sleep paralysis that Demoniarch and I had at his home over drinks. He mentioned at the time that every civilization on the planet had a version of it… a witch that came at night, sat upon your torso and held you down with impossible fright. Europeans called it the hag, the old hag or the Night Hag.

It stuck in my craw. I couldn’t shake the idea of it for weeks. My grandfather, George Howard, was in life a projectionist in Todendorf, Germany (yes, the band is named for him) and died in my arms due to complications from having his legs removed. It was the single most devastating moment in my life.

I began to come up with an odd idea of marrying the two notions; what if the NightHag came to him and was the reason his legs had to be amputated? (They were gangrenous due to diabetes in truth)

Fleshing this out caused me great pain, I openly wept during the writing of certain passages…but all great art is meant to be felt in full.

Why does it exist? I’ve pondered on that recently… have you ever loved a dead person so much that you’d create an entire world for them to live in, just to spend time with them?

That’s why.

You’ve been doing something quite intriguing in the lead up to the album’s release, in the form of weekly video shorts wherein you reveal a snippet of a particular track and yourself reveal more of the tale in devilish oration. What was the thought behind these short episodic teasers?

LM: I want to perpetrate the notion that the band are acting as projectionists; that we are unfolding a film for a darkened, captive audience. I mean for this band to supersede what Black Metal is, and take it where it hasn’t or shouldn’t go.

The films are like the movie-serials from long ago in cinematic history. They are there to stir curiosity and drive home the point that these albums, though uncompromisingly Black Metal, are in fact, operas and you are being told a story… something that seemed lost on many when Visits from the NightHag: Part 1 came out.

Following on from that, partially because watching those video shorts made me imagine a Visits from the NightHag television series – I feel NightHag would work quite well told via different media, as it’s an incredibly visual story. Either a series, book or a graphic novel perhaps would be incredible. Are you toying with the idea of anything like this for the future?

LM: I absolutely am. After having completed the 7th operetta and concluding the full saga roughly two months ago, I recently began writing VFTNH as a novel. This would likely evolve into a series of novels given the fact that VFTNH is only the first story in the complete arc. (The operetta for NightHag has already been published in my second book: Chapel of Astaroth)

If I were to have such lofty goals, I’d say that elucidating the story in prose will help me shop it around as a film/series script, and just as Stallone insisted on portraying Rocky, I’d insist on the features being soundtracked by The Projectionist…

Given that it’s such a personal creation that’s clearly close to your heart, I’m curious as to the compositional process involved – how much creative control do you take over the music? Do you write the lyrics and then trust the others to write a suitable ‘score’ to the tale, as such?

LM: As with all music I’m a part of, always the writing comes first. I am perpetually writing, averaging 130-150 pieces per year. In the case of NightHag, it was actually written two years before any music was conceived.

Parageist and I have a very symbiotic musical relationship. Every album we make together, we have a pre-emptive conversation where I outline what I’m hoping to hear, what the rough tone should be and length of songs/level of ambience. Then he plays whatever he wishes from that. I don’t lord over him telling him which notes to play.

Some of my other projects are a bit more “democratic”, but with The Projectionist, and these operas, I have a clear vision of what the overall album should sound like. Mainly that the music needs to follow the level of urgency in the plot line.

On NightHag and it’s follow-up The Stench of Amalthia, Parageist submitted the amount of songs I requested based on the number of Acts I’d written and I arranged them in the order that flowed best with the plot. For the third album in the arc, I want to try a new take on writing and have Ghast and Parageist write the guitars to the operetta itself, drawing inspiration from the events therein.

Whilst your vocal attack is one of the most varied in extreme metal, not every voice on the album is yours: Caesar Tiberius and Aven Haunts also reprise their roles as Dr. Bendix and The NightHag / Nurse respectively. What has it been like working with them? I believe there will be quite a few installments of the NightHag series, are they both in it for the long haul?

LM: Technically, the entirety of VFTNH was recorded as one body of work, however, when complete, it clocked in at 84 minutes in length. So the decision was made to split the album up in two parts. The sixth opera is actually 16 Acts and may end up getting the same treatment, but we shall see…

Regardless, yes, I can perform virtually any style of extreme metal vocal one can conjure, but I felt an entire album of me talking to myself would come off as very confusing. One thing I cannot do is sound like a female. So I enlisted longtime friends Aven Haunts and Caesar Tiberius to add additional texture and dynamic to the delivery. Aven has a very eloquent and Victorian quality to her voice that I really thought captured the essence of the NightHag and she can manipulate her voice to sound innocent and sweet (which is NOT her nature at all hahaha). And that glorious witchy cackle of hers? Some of my favorite sections of the opus. I did perform a Nattramn-like shriek as a backing vocal to her NightHag. That will be a constant as the character evolves over time.

Caesar has a coarse, articulate voice that I think brings a good depth to the Dr. Bendix character. He has a way of delivering a flippancy that I hadn’t anticipated when writing the Doctor’s dialog. It especially shines through on The Stench of Amalthia, which you’ll have to wait until next year for, although it is near complete as of this interview.

Both are loyal, lifelong comrades of mine dating back to my first band Spawned by Rot and going forward, every appearance of the NightHag and Doctor Bendix were penned with them in mind.

You’re clearly influenced to a large extent by film, but one in particular receives a solid mention in this visitation – the 1922 expressionist horror masterpiece, F.W Murnau‘s Nosferatu. I don’t want to give too many details away, but I was quite thrilled to hear Murnau invoked in ‘The Globe Theater’, as it’s one of my personal favourite films of all time. Why did you select Nosferatu in particular to be included in the tale in this way?

LM: Silent horror has always been my main love of film. I’m very partial to the absolute creep that Murnau conjures in his expressionistic pictures. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari deserves an honorable mention.

Nosferatu is a film humanity is lucky to have access to as all copies were ordered destroyed by Bram Stoker’s estate and it remains one of the most chilling features in cinematic history.

Long ago (in the SBR days) I had very long hair and after George Howard died, I was out of my head with grief. I was in the middle of watching Nosferatu when the thought popped up in my mind “I can get away with looking that evil…”

So I shaved my head in the hopes that seeing a new person in the mirror would shake me from the soul-shattering misery that my life had become. My ex-wife sobbed as I cut my hair off and I never let it grow back.

While Nosferatu is easily in my top five best films of all, I’d list Benjamin Christensen’s 1922 movie Häxan as my favorite.

I will say, it was important that film were integral to the plot, and I wanted to choose excellence to represent that.

Whilst the NightHag series thus far has been undeniably great, it is incredibly theatrical and far more conceptually intense than much of your other work. I dig it, but it’s unfortunately not too hard to imagine that for many standard black metal fans (especially those who may have discovered The Projectionist by way of your other more straightforward musical outlets), what you have created here may all seem “too much”. However, I believe that it is this type of uncompromising art, fearless in approach whilst being brazenly and unapologetically passionate, that will be remembered in time. I might be going out on a limb here but look at artists like Silencer, Rainer Landfermann‘s work with Bethlehem… against the grain and potentially divisive in their performances? Yes. Spoken about and revered in black metal for decades once people catch on? Unquestionably. So after that long-winded lead in, my question is: do you ever get the feeling that you’re a “misunderstood genius”, in a way; creating art that’s years ahead of the curve and that later down the track everyone will discover this stuff and be captivated by it? Dare you hope that your own name would one day be spoken about with the greats?

LM: It is appreciated to be thought of in such a way.

There are easier ways to achieve acclaim, I could squawk devilish epithets and sing monotone but my motives for performing music have always been of an intellectual nature. I’ve no grand desire to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Maybe I’ve been able to skate by before this by having isolated songs/lyrics that function without effort or reading before this, and there’s a huge body of every musical community that are happy doing just that… but I want more.

Some of the deepest pleasure I’ve gotten from VFTNH have been reviews where it was said that due to the storyline, they were forced to follow the lyrics and truly invest of themselves to appreciate the album.

This whole question reminds me of the passage in Oliver Stone’s Doors movie where, upon being shown Jim Morrison’s film in university someone in the crowd yells “YOU NEED YOUR ART SPOONFED TO YOU!”

The Doors had to trim 3.5 minutes of glorious solos from ‘Light my Fire’ to placate the masses and get a number 1 song. I prefer ‘The End’ myself.

We as bands tirelessly promote our wares, but a fan will only get out of an album what they put into it. Or life for that matter…

Anything worth having is worth the effort to pluck that particular fruit. We have created something bold and unusual. The execution of which finds me proud.

Did we make this album for anyone but ourselves? No. (Aside from George)

It would be deeply satisfying to be viewed as something of a pioneer who expanded on the perimeters of Black Metal, but it isn’t my goal. I’m a Projectionist, I have films in my mind to show you and postulating my legacy is quite frankly, something I don’t allow myself time for. I’m too busy making art at a breakneck pace before I’m too old and decrepit to do it anymore. I’m an atheist. This is all I’m ever going to get.

And finally, today we have the great pleasure of premiering a track from the album – the fantastic penultimate composition ‘Bandages Over Boards’. Could you tell us a little about this particular track?

LM: hard to speak too much on this without spoiling the plot…

There has been a huge catastrophic battle between the NightHag and one of the protagonists. The Globe Theater is in shambles, and the survivors believe they’ve achieved victory.

As they repair the decimated cinema, they learn this is not so. Hence “Bandages over Boards”

This act moves along with punch and vigor, taking place right after the violent climax.

Sincerest thanks again for your time, Lörd Matzigkeitus. It’s been a pleasure. Any final words or wisdom for us all?

LM: Death is greedily, hungrily stalking you with cunning as we speak…

Don’t waste a flicker of breath unless it’s what you’d use your last day for.

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Visits From The Nighthag Volume 2 releases 28th June via Appalachian Noise Records.

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Pre-order Visits From The Nighthag on CD, digital or autographed box set from Appalachian Noise Records here.

Support The Projectionist:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Necromancy and The Dying Earth – An Interview with Vælfáhlic of Nihtwintre

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Hails, infernal style. As you may have noticed, here at this rotting rag known as BMD we just love to disinter all the buried subterranean gems that black metal has to offer. Whether they be decades or mere days old, dragging them up to the light and giving exposure to the deserving underground is really the key reason this entire wretched excuse for a site exists in the first place. Sure, we do also spotlight the bigger bands on frequent occasion, but it’s when we find things like this killer split from US solo project Nihtwintre and Canadian outfit Albanach ar Dheis that we get really excited.

With their complementary frostbitten and grim stylings, Nihtwintre (Old English for “night winter”) and Albanach ar Deis are truly a match made in some variation of hell. Raw and grim, both sides of this collaboration echo upwards from the deep, dark and frozen cavernous gloom beneath anything even resembling mainstream black metal to assault your senses in the most pleasing of ways – Albanach ar Deis taking a more structured yet varied route, and Nihtwintre calling forth malignant malevolence by more experimental and driving means. On Nihtwintre‘s side alone a perfect storm of cascading and ascending tremolo, captivating melodious solemnity, forceful programmed drums and demonic rasps summon nameless entities from aeons past to wreak havoc on mankind, which all culminates in a beautiful piano solo… and today we have Vælfáhlic himself from Nihtwintre here to tell us all about it.

Available on limited cassette from Epicurus Records, 100 copies only. Read on.

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Greetings Vælfáhlic! Your project Nihtwintre has recently released a great split with Albanach ar Dheis, how did this collaboration come about? What are your personal feelings towards what you have both conjured here?

– I had seen Månas Reaver play some drum covers on YouTube that impressed me. We got to talking and found we both had some EP material that would go well together on a split cassette. I feel we have created a strong split with a diversity of styles of black metal which, hopefully, lends itself to relistenability.

Albanach ar Dheis is a historically oriented project, and their side of the split reflects this – whereas you take a more sorcerous and evil approach with tracks like ‘The Tragic Path of the Necromancer’ and ‘Nightwraith of the Wintercrypt’. Can you expand upon the themes you touch upon on your side of this work, and are there any elements that conceptually connect both sides of the split together in any way?

– I think in terms of lyrical content, there are only vague threads that connect the two halves. On my half, I am focusing on sorcerous evils, yes; but these themes serve as an allegory for our wretched, dying earth upon which we all live. ‘Nightwraith of the Wintercrypt’ is a song about melting ice that reawakens an ancient evil that threatens the existence of all mankind – this is a fantastical allegory for our own Earth and its current climate crisis. What horrors await us as the ice melts?

If I remember correctly, the Bandcamp states that the split was “recorded in 2018 within caverns of unholy torment and suffering”. That sounds like there is a bit of a story attached to the circumstances behind this release, so allow me to pry, if I may – what was your situation and/or mental state like during the recording process?

– That is actually for the Albanach ar Dheis side, so I can’t speak to his recording situation. For my own side, it requires getting into a certain mindset, to be inspired to create music, but also motivated enough to follow through on ideas and actually record notes, put pen to paper, so to speak.

I know you have utilized improvisational techniques on many of your previous releases. Was this also the case for your tracks here, or did you take the more conventional compositional route this time around?

– These tracks were once again largely improvised. When I can get into the right metal state, I can sit down and just start to record riffs and whatever comes out becomes part of the song. I usually go back and write more fitting drums and basslines after the fact, but the core melodies and song structure gurgles forth from my mind in the moment. Writing songs for this project always comes in fits and spurts. Writing lyrics is largely improvised too, I listen to the song and write what comes to mind immediately. I generally go back and hack and slash the lyrics into a manageable size that fits the song.

Let’s touch on some history, and the project itself. Nihtwintre has been active since 2015 and you have been the sole member for the duration. Can you tell us a little about the inspirations and ideas behind genesis of the this beast, and why Nihtwintre continues to exist today? Do you feel your motivations have changed at all over the past few years, or do you remain true to the initial conceptualization of the project?

– The project began as a way to express musical ideas that come to me in the moment. I wanted to write some raw black metal – just a pure sonic maelstrom, as it occurred to me in my mind. I created the name in the winter – it seemed fitting for night and winter to be themes. Initially I used these themes of darkness to inspire my songs’ themes, but now I feel much more motivated to create music that tells allegorical tales and carries a broader message. As I said above, my recent themes have been exploring the demise of this planet at the hands of a changing climate. I feel black metal is the perfect medium to express my feelings on the matter.

Now, nothing is listed on Metal Archives or anywhere else, however I cannot help but feel this project is in no way your first black metal rodeo, so to speak. Your guitar playing and the melodies you summon give the impression that you are fairly accomplished, and one would not commonly start such a unique and largely improvisational project as their sole, main musical outlet… so I am intrigued, and I ask: is Nihtwintre your only black metal project? Have you had experience in previous bands before this, or perhaps any running concurrently (that can remain hidden if you wish)?

– Your assessment is correct, this is not my only musical endeavor. I use a pseudonym with this project because the musical process is so different for this project that I don’t want to draw any comparisons to my larger, more well known band. Nihtwintre ought to stand on its own merits.

I quite like the cover art, a wraithlike visage created by Dusty Peterson. I’m curious, as in my opinion it fits the music on your side of the split exceptionally well – did you work with him at all during the creation of the piece?

– Dusty actually had already painted the piece some years ago, and it had always caught my eye as something that would be perfect for me. I inquired if I could use it and licensed it from him for this release. I do think it fits the music very well.

The split is unleashed under the banner of Epicurus Records; how have you found working with them? Are there any other formats in the works besides the (rather stunning looking) tape?

– Epicurus is just a very small label in Seattle focused on releasing very local music in very obscure genres. They only work with metal bands and related genres and only do artists located in Seattle. This split is only going to be available digitally and on cassette.

Aside from Nihtwintre you also have a great dungeon synth project, Woodland Crypt. Is anything happening with that right now?

– The process of writing dungeon synth is very different from black metal, at least for me. Woodland Crypt will release more music in the near future, mostly likely there will be a new track unveiled on a compilation that will release on the solstice. There should also be another EP out by the end of the year.

And finally, what’s next from Nihtwintre? Do you have any idea where you going to take the project in future, and/or any other new material in the works?

– That is a good question. As I said, I have to be in the right mood to create, and it is highly improvisational. So it is a matter of when I sit down next and create something. I want to continue honing my craft, especially though this method of improvisation, and I will see where it takes me.

Sincerest thanks for speaking to us today Vælfáhlic, it has been a pleasure. Any final words you would like to leave us with?

– Thanks for taking the time to listen to my music. Keep supporting the underground!

Nihtwintre / Albanach ar Dheis split is now available via Epicurus Records.

Purchase Nihtwintre / Albanach ar Dheis Split on cassette or digital from the Nihtwintre Bandcamp here and the Albanach ar Dheis Bandcamp here.

Support Nihtwintre:

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The Fall – An Interview with Verwoed

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We were never here

Our words were never spoken

Our deeds were never done

Our footprints forever erased

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Did you catch De Val, the debut album from Dutch one-man project Verwoed (nee-Woudloper), when it dropped yesterday? If not, you are inflicting upon yourself a great grievance – if you consider yourself a fan of the more resonant and mind-warping side of black metal then this thing will present a more than hefty case for itself being squeezed into your end of year lists.

For it is one impressive record. Everything from the songwriting to the album art absolutely reeks of class and talent, and when considered as a whole will immerse you to the point of being consumed. The powerful riffs seethe with a genuinely disturbing underlying menace as the intricate psychedelia, shifting moods and immense physicality of each composition deconstructs black metal and reassembles it in its own image; with all the deliberate inevitability of time itself. At times it even seems you’re listening to a strange, alien amalgamation of several emotions not meant to be felt by humankind yet somehow given audial form. You’ll be crushed and elated, rapturous and rent-apart all at once; I’ve spun De Val countless times now and frequently find myself swaying in a deep, aching trance one minute and swept away in a maelstrom of dissonant atmospherics the next. You’ll have heard things similar to parts of this before, sure. Just nothing exactly quite like it at all.

I’ve no idea how many people read these introductions and actually take in what I ramble on about. I do talk up a lot of albums here on these stained pages, but I mean every single word, so trust me when I say – give this album some time. Allow it to work its magic beyond the surface, to burrow down and really settle in… and you’ll reap rewards you never expected.

As an added bonus, we are privileged to have none other than multi-instrumentalist and sole practitioner Erik himself here today to shine some light on this subtly dazzling creation – read on below and pick yourself up a copy from Tartarus Records, Argento Records or Sentient Ruin Laboratories. Hails.

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Greetings Erik, it’s a pleasure to speak with you today. The Verwoed album De Val is finally upon us after a wait of several years – the first full album for both this incarnation of the band and under its previous moniker Woudloper. How do you personally feel about the album? Do you feel that you are any closer to achieving the goals or ideals you had in mind at the inception of the project?

– I never had any set goals envisioned when I started this. It started from a very real and fiery instinctive feeling deep inside and that is what it still is, to me — a primal scream. As I progress, write and perform live however, it is becoming ever more clear to me what this is all about. To share my personal feelings about this album would be… insane. I don’t even know where to begin how I feel about De Val. It is the most personal and at the same time strange thing I have ever unleashed upon the world; in every sense.

The album is entitled De Val – “The Fall”. I’m intrigued, what is this representative of thematically? Would it be referring to the fall of Lucifer, or something more personal?

– Lucifer’s fall is indeed what the album’s name is referring to. Thematically however, though one might draw parallels between the words and music on this album and the Fall, it is in fact far more personal than a mere hymn to the myth of his Fall.

What Lucifer’s fall symbolizes, to me at least, is breaking free from ‘Paradise’ and the tyrant enslaving us; liberation from the mundane prison we inhabit in life.

All five songs on the album are great. Is it all new material? I recall reading about a split release you had planned sometime after the release of Bodemloos – is that still in the works, or did any of those tracks perhaps end up on De Val?

– Thank you. It is all new material. There was indeed mention of a split release with Ungrun (JB van der Wal’s, who plays bass live, black metal project), but plans for that were put on hold due to various reasons. Who knows what the future might hold concerning this matter.

As this is the sole product of your mind alone, I’m curious as to your inspirations and influences as you create. From where did you draw from whilst writing these entrancing compositions? Did this, or any other part of your process differ from during the recording of Bodemloos?

– There is no set ‘process’ as to how I work. It just happens. Inspiration comes from everything. From deep within my soul, from art, life, death, philosophy, love, hate…

Your sonic creations are so visceral and hypnotic, vivid and terrifying – and all with a heavy hallucinatory resonance throughout. I can feel it warping my mental state as I dive deeper into its compelling maelstrom. Have you ever made use of altered states of consciousness of any kind during the creative process of your art?

– During the creative process, definitely. I won’t go into details. But yes, I have.

It’s impossible to pick a clear favourite, but I’m particularly fond of the final track ‘Verder Dan Het Licht’ which I believe translates to ‘Beyond The Light’ and also features some stunning vocals by Ryanne van Dorst of doom rockers Dool. These vocals are totally different from anything else on the album, yet they cap it off perfectly and add a fantastic new layer to your sound. Could you tell us a little about the track in general, and how Ryanne came to be a part of it?

– I would prefer to let the music speak for itself. My original intent when writing the song comes from a deep and profound feeling of straying away from the light in search for divine truth and meaning. Ryanne is a dear, and needless to say, talented friend and my instincts immediately made it clear that she had to sing this. Gladly so, she was more than willing to.

The cover art for De Val is a fascinating painting. Who is the artist? What does it depict in relation to the themes of the album?

– The artist who created the artwork for De Val, as well as for Bodemloos and the Woudloper demo released back in 2014, is my very talented friend Joost Vervoort (singer of Terzij de Horde). What it depicts is, like with any form of art, in the eye of the beholder. In my humble opinion, it speaks for itself.

This time around you’re working with three labels:

Argento Records, Sentient Ruin Laboratories and Tartarus Records. That’s an impressive lineup. How did this powerful triumvirate come to be involved?

– The three of them running those labels all know each other well. I have worked with Argento and Tartarus before when Bodemloos was released. Sentient Ruin is handling the US distribution of vinyl this time around.

From what I’ve read, you have had quite the talented crew of artists helping you out on stage for live performances. I’m assuming it wouldn’t be difficult for you to have some like-minded collaborators in the studio as well, yet unless I am mistaken Verwoed remains the sole product of your efforts alone. Have you ever considered taking on other full-time members of the band?

– The thought has definitely crossed my mind, especially after performing live with these individuals, who are all incredibly talented, creative and inspiring musicians and people, multiple times. But as for the foreseeable future Verwoed is not ‘there’ (yet) and don’t know if it ever will be.

Speaking of playing live, do you have any shows coming up that you’re particularly keen for?

– At this moment my focus is on De Val. A release show is coming up, but other than that nothing is planned.

The Dutch black metal scene is one of the most exciting and innovative around these days, spouting killer releases and great new projects on a regular basis and pushing the genre forward. Is it a very close-knit scene? Do you have any recommendations or favourite local artists whose work we should check out?

– We are close-knit in the sense that we all know each other. There is no such thing as a Dutch black metal ‘scene’ as far as I am concerned, though. I’d recommend Nusquama, Turia, Ungrun, Kwade Droes, Wrang, Laster and Fluisteraars among others.

And finally, along a similar track – I find the sound of Verwoed to be a fine blend of traditional sounds and present day experimentation. Where can you envision the genre of black metal heading in future?

– I don’t know… and, frankly, I could not care less where black metal is heading in the future.

Sincerest thanks for your time and the superb De Val, Erik. Looking forward to more Verwoed.

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De Val is available now via Tartarus Records, Argento Records and Sentient Ruin Laboratories.

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Purchase De Val on cassette from Tartarus Records here, or on digital and vinyl from Argento Records (EU) here / Sentient Ruin Laboratories (US) here.

Support Verwoed:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Tormented By Life – An Interview with Frostveil

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nostalgic sounds to crumble the soul

and destroy from within

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Silence.

Then, ever so gently, a solitary piano stirs to life; solemnly sewing a melody so surprisingly beautiful that it gives you pause. A soft, sad caress that brings on contemplation and reflection, inflicting a delicate melancholia upon your spirit. It unfurls like a flower deep in a forest, displaying its petals for an agonizingly short time before its life cycle ends and they fall to the ground.

Then, again, the briefest silence. All is still…

…before an explosion of majestic, golden riffage and thunderous percussive power bursts through swathes of endless darkness. Ancient vampyric despair clashes with triumphant glories in the cold crepuscular air, a firestorm of emotion as your bones are yet chilled to the core… enter Ephemeral Visions, the debut album from Australian atmosphericist Frostveil.

As I’ve said countless times: Australian raw black metal fucking rules. Hidden away in the darkest recess of the antipodean countryside, shadowed lone practitioner Frostveil has utilised his eponymous personal solo project to summon some of the best demos, splits and EPs of it for those wretched souls following his raw odes – he’s even produced some great dungeon synth under the same moniker (check the excellent Antideluvian Majesty here). However, Ephemeral Visions is a new beast and is the most fully realised version of the project thus far. Sporting a vastly clearer and cleaner production than he’s ever had, this feels like both a huge leap and a statement of intent – this is Frostveil. Take fucking note.

And people most definitely are taking note. Released at the end of March through the ineffable Dark Adversary Productions the album has been exceptionally well received amongst those who have heard it, surprising many – and its influence will only spread further as it ensnares more souls to its will with its diabolical magnetism. We here at BMD are privileged today to have Frostveil himself in to discuss the album, his processes, inspirations and more; feast your eyes (and ears, if you are yet to sample his sanguine delicacies) below.

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Hails Frostveil! I’ve been listening to your debut album Ephemeral Visions, and it’s a fantastic piece of black art – I feel it blends your Dungeon Synth and Black Metal sides more effectively than ever before. How do you feel about the album, now that it’s finally out? Was that blending a part of what you wanted to achieve with it?

– Hails! Thank you for this interview, I’m very glad to hear you are enjoying the new album! This album definitely embodies every element that Frostveil has ever expressed. I am very happy with the final product, the creation has been a very cathartic process for me, with this album being written from the very inception of this project until its release. I truly feel that the emotion I have poured into this release has been well represented and portrayed by the product. The blending was not necessarily something I ever purposely intended but in retrospect, considering the methods I used and what I intended to achieve with this album, it was bound to happen and I am very pleased that it has.

I believe the creation of Ephemeral Visions was quite a long process – six years, if I’m not mistaken. Could you tell is a little about the genesis and evolution of these songs over that time, and the reasons behind such a lengthy gestation period?

– The first single from the album entitled ‘Longing’ was actually the second song I ever wrote with Frostveil (first or second, ideas for this song were formed long before Frostveil was even born). There is no real chosen reason why the gestation period was so significant, but in hindsight I’m glad it was. There have been many learning curves along the way, many lessons learned through past releases, and many new ways of self expression discovered along the way too. The final product is definitely what I would have always wanted my debut full length to be, but the underlying themes of nostalgia gradually included more and more over the past six years (often dealing with important happenings from the early days of Frostveil) has helped me appreciate the outcome even more.

Songs such as ‘Longing’, ‘Tormented by Life’ and ‘Salvation’ have always been some of my favorite songs that I’ve written, for both musical and thematic reasons. I have never released Frostveil lyrics and most likely never will, but I will say these songs deal with topics which really are quite heavy for me. Through time these messages have expanded due to new experiences and lessons learned, and quite often given a second or third meaning to me, so the album as a whole is quite a story from my perspective. Almost like a time capsule in some ways too.

Something that I know has pleasantly surprised many people (myself included) is that you’ve achieved a more powerful sound on this record than anything you’ve put out in recent memory. This is perfectly evidenced by another release you took part in earlier this year – Doctrine of Winter, a split with Devilgroth and Necro Forest which features a more stripped back version of the album track ‘Writhing In Tender Anguish’ and really highlights how far you’ve taken things for your debut full-length. Did you know going in that you wanted to take a more vivid, richer approach to the production this time around?

– That split was actually recorded three years ago, but has only seen the light of day over these past few months. I always envisioned the Ephemeral Visions songs featuring a higher level of audibility in the production than my past words, however I never really planned on 100% locking in a production process as I feel a lot of the character of these songs came to life during the recording process, something I always expected. It goes without saying that these tracks would not have had the same impact that they have had they been recorded in the same manner as my earlier works, but the earlier works are still as much of what Frostveil aims to be, as this album is. I’ve not got my eyes set on a ridiculously extravagant, “Abbey Road” level production for any of my material as I feel that high production quality can mask authenticity to a point, but I will always do the best with what I have at any given time. Some of my material has been done recorded the built in mic on a shitty laptop, some of it on a Windows 98 desktop, hell some of it was even done in my old school’s music room. You do what you need to do to keep making the art you hold dear. It’s the expression you achieve which matters most, not the production.

What’s also remarkable about Ephemeral Visions is that despite the improved sound you still manage to retain the vampyric and largely melancholic feel of your earlier releases. Track titles like the lead-in single ‘Orlok’ and ‘Tormented By Life’ seem to suggest that that vampirism also extends to the lyrics; is this indeed part of the lyrical content of the album? What other topics do you touch upon?

The themes of Vampirism come through mainly in ‘Orlok’. This was a salute to one of the greatest pieces of horrific art ever created, Nosferatu (1922). The atmosphere and utter misanthropy this film portrays is something which cannot fully be explained, but it is authentic, grim and unhinged; something which many artists strive to express throughout their entire careers but never fully achieve. This homage also relates to the strong feelings of nostalgia ever present in Frostveil’s music. An emphasis on the grandeur and solemnity of the past.

This album deals with, as mentioned, nostalgia, more than anything. Having been written over such a long period of time, listening from start to finish is a nostalgic trip for me alone, as I can pinpoint where I was, what I was doing, and what I was aiming to express when I wrote each song. I touch on personal topics and experiences, mental illness, heartache, solitude, many topics which are significant to me but I would never choose to pronounce explicitly in public. I feel as if I express myself more through the music than the lyrics, the vocals are merely another instrument, and it is also my aim to write music which my listeners can put their own stories and meanings to in order to feel as if their deep, pent up thoughts and emotions are also being expressed.

You also have borrowed the considerable talents of two rather noteworthy guests for the album: Josh Gee of Atra Vetosus, and Chris Gebauer of Deadspace and Cancer. Could you tell us a little about their contributions, and how these collaborations took place?

– I am very honoured to have both of these artists appear on the album, two incredibly talented individuals whose achievements speak for themselves. I have shared the stage with both Atra Vetosus and Deadspace with Christ Dismembered in the past, so I have had the privilege of witnessing their abilities in person. I have been an admirer of both AV and DS for several years now, so after time passed and I began to see these individuals as not just other musicians, but friends, the choice of who I wanted to guest appear on this album was obvious. Because of an undeniable distance between where each of us reside all the recording was done individually so each vocalist could be happy with their sound and their takes, and I just edited it into the final mix.

Personally, what really draws me in to the album are are the stirring melodies – the album even verges into borderline epic territory on occasion – and the overall composition. Right from the gorgeous introductory piano piece ‘Echoes of Inexistence’, it’s clear you’ve been involved in music for quite some time. What was your introduction to music, and how did you then find yourself travelling the path of black metal?

– Thank you! The string/synth melodies are something I am quite proud of. Frostveil will never be something I consider ‘symphonic black metal’, I play black metal and I play dungeon synth, and when the two can tastefully collide something magical is born. I have been involved with music from a very early age; music has always been a strong constant throughout generations in my family, and my older brother was playing in heavily active metal bands around the time I first decided I wanted to genuinely pursue music. His influence definitely led to the discovery of black metal, however the depths of the genre in which I quickly decided to dwell was something I found of my own accord.

You’ve always had varying degrees of Drowning The Light influence in your sound, so it’s rather fitting that you’ve continued to work with the great Dark Adversary Productions, who have released the album on CD. You must be very happy with the partnership, is it likely to continue for further releases? Also: is an LP edition of the album in the works at some stage?

– Drowning the Light has always been a big influence from day one, both musically and in terms of attitude and dedication. Azgorh is an incredibly hard working musician and label owner who I have an immeasurable amount of respect for, it is an honour to be working alongside him to bring these releases to life. I am sure this partnership shall continue in the future as there is more new material on the way now which is sure to appease both my black metal and dungeon synth followers. Some of which is in the early stages of writing and composition, some already nearing completion. More news soon to come!

No dates have been set in stone for an LP release of Ephemeral Visions, but it is safe to say that this will come to fruition. That is all I can say on that for now.

The cover art by Sang-Ho Moon (and indeed, the entire cover layout) is beautiful; simple and effective. Did you work closely with him during the creation of the piece?

– The cover art was something very spontaneous. When I began planning Ephemeral Visions I had many ideas in my head of what I would like the cover art to portray. Something which suited both the band name and the album’s themes of longing, desolation and nostalgia. Not only this, but something which could capture the cold time of year when most of the album came to life and the climate which served as heavy inspiration. I spontaneously contacted Sang one night in 2015 to get a rough idea on prices and so forth, no ideas set in stone at that point, and the very next morning he surprised me with this completed artwork, logo included and all, completely out of the blue. I was blown away, I knew I had found my art then and there, Sang is unimaginably skilled, to say the very least. The back cover art was drawn by an artist I have worked alongside on several occasions recently by the name of ‘BlackInkVoid’. He also did the cover art for the single edition of ‘Orlok’. Another incredible artist who I have the utmost respect for and cannot possibly recommend enough.

One more question about that aforementioned split, if I may: besides ‘Writhing In Tender Anguish’ the other part of your contribution to it is a great cover of Satanic Warmaster’s ‘Pentagram & Wood’. Why did you select this track in particular to cover, and what does it mean to you personally?

– That cover came about when I was asked to participate in Azermedoth Records’ Tribute to Satanic Warmaster, one of my all time favorite artists. This song is a song I always felt deserved more recognition. SWM don’t have a bad song in my opinion, but this one in particular always grasped me more than the others from Opferblut, definitely a first choice for me to cover. I did have a second original planned for that split, but when I discovered that the other participating bands were also contributing covers I thought I’d give this one another go in the limelight as I was very proud of it, and still am. What would have been the second song from that split shall be featured on a future Frostveil full length album.

Aside from Frostveil you also play in the more orthodox Christ Dismembered – but at the time of writing I cannot think of any other black metal bands from your local area (although there are some rippers around Adelaide). I recall an interview some time ago where you said black metal around Millicent was nonexistent apart from your own projects; what is the scene like over there now?

– The Adelaide scene is booming with excellent black metal right now! I would strongly urge anyone to check out the new Diabolic Rites album (crusty black metal) and the new In The Burial album too (symphonic black/death). Millicent is a tiny town right between Adelaide and Melbourne (4-5 hours drive from either!), half hour Adelaide side of Mount Gambier. The Gambier scene is okay, it has a music scene but not enough of any one genre to be picky, there’s a lot of skill in that town but not much of any one thing in particular. Still not a bad scene though.

And finally – I know you have played Frostveil material live on one special occasion in the past; is this something that’s likely to happen again?

– YES! I have enlisted a lineup of incredible musicians, two of which participated on the Ritual MMXVI live album (Plague from Christ Dismembered and Ivan from Chelsea Manor). We are currently at rehearsal stage, and are taking it quite slow. Being a solo project, live performances are not something I will ever prioritize BUT I am well aware that it has been too long since the last time Frostveil took to the stage, so this will be rectified soon.

Sincerest thanks for your time, Frostveil. Any final words for us all?

– Thank you for all the support I have received over the last few months, I am truly humbled! Keep supporting Aussie black metal!

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Ephemeral vision is available now on CD via Dark Adversary Productions.

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Purchase Ephemeral Visions digitally and on CD from Bandcamp here, or on CD from Dark Adversary Productions here.

Support Frostveil:

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The Noble Shall Rule – An Interview with Black Crucifixion

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Cross the abyss

Before it crosses you

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Across 28 years and four full lengths the Finnish institution of Black Crucifixion have always, in true black metal spirit, forged their own winding path through the darkness. Their Facebook page simply states they are “Finnish black metal for those who like music” and that’s a wonderful way to describe a sound that draws as much from doom, goth and other more metallic / rock infused substances as it does the blackened fires of the early ’90s. Gone may be the corpse painted days of yore but their satanic servitude is no less black at the core than it ever was, and definitely no less adventurous – as evidenced by their stellar latest offering, Lightless Violent Chaos.

Compelling, powerful and indeed as violent as the name suggests, it was originally released on CD in July last year through Spikefarm Records and was previously only available in their home country – until now, as the good folk at Australian label Seance Records have stepped up to the plate to bestow upon it the worldwide CD and cassette release it so richly deserves. Which, incidentally, will be the band’s first cassette release since 1992’s The Fallen One Of Flames.

Good news, right? In even better news we have the deepest pleasure of speaking with founding member, multi-instrumentalist and demonic throatsman Forn himself, who enlightens us about all things Lightless Violent Chaos and much, much more. Read on.

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Hello Forn! Sincerest thanks for speaking to us today. Your fourth album Lightless Violent Chaos was originally released in 2018 – but was only made available within your home of Finland. Now, the official worldwide release is taking place via Australian label Seance Records (who you have already previously worked with on the release of Coronation of King Darkness). How do you feel that the album is finally spreading its dark tendrils further across the globe, and why have you selected Seance Records to be the banner to assist in this?

– Seance Records is the natural companion for the release of the album as they are music lovers working professionally in the metal scene. The preliminary release of Lightless Violent Chaos was done by Spinefarm that nowadays is actually Universal Music which means that their understanding of this kind of music is something different than let’s say in 1992 when we first worked with them around the release of our debut The Fallen One of Flames. A small and artistically independent band like Black Crucifixion can only function with a label of similar values. Thus Seance Records is an obvious choice.

I personally opine that you somehow get better with every album, and with Lightless… you have definitely topped your previous excellent work. You’ve heard it a thousand times now, seen/read people’s reactions to it, played the songs live – have your feelings or thoughts about the album changed at all, with the benefit of hindsight?

– Thanks. I actually just listened to both Lightless Violent Chaos and Coronation of King Darkness (2013) albums to prepare for this chat. We view them and their predecessor Hope of Retaliation (2011) as a trilogy. What begins with the studio tracks on Hope of Retaliation, grows into full bloom on Coronation of King Darkness and then finds maturity on the new album. Also it might be noteworthy that the material on all of these albums intertwines timewise: all of them include songwriting that precedes all the three albums.

You’ve stated that the intent of the album is to “evoke the horror of being less than a whisper in the time-defying roar of the cosmos”. I know you do not usually discuss your lyrics but this is a fascinating idea and, if you mean that literally, one that forces the listener to confront themselves and their/our position in the grand scheme of things. Would you be willing to elaborate your thoughts on this, and how you aimed to achieve it with this album?

– We feel that the sort of music we record has some sort of “magical” essence. It touches something that is common in men. For us lyrics play a part in this and as majority of them are usually sung in English they help to open certain doors for people who understand them. Our lyrics may not preach as much as they once did – as we find it futile to try and alter other people’s perceptions of what they call the reality – but when used right, our art is a sort of immaterial talisman that can be used to transfer energy. What one chooses to do with that energy is of course beyond our control. But in order to feel empowered in one’s microcosm it is useful to realise how little any of us, our work, our feelings or even the current civilisation means in the long run. Maybe that is liberating.

A lovely touch to Lightless… is, if I’m not mistaken, that you used the very same original guitar that was used during the recording of The Fallen One of Flames demo back in 1991. That’s amazing. Could you tell us a little about this guitar and if there was any symbolic reason you have utilised it again here?

– Going back to the original Black Crucifixion guitar probably has multiple reasons. One is that a big part of our material over the years has been written with it yet it has not been used in the sessions. In that sense it “deserved” to be used, even though it is of course just a piece of wood, metal and plastic. But it is a good-sounding oiece of wood in the shape of a Stratocaster by a Korean manufacturer under their own Cort brand. I bought the guitar with my dad back in 1986 and for a a very, very long time it was the only electric guitar that I personally owned. Nowadays I have two: the black Ibanez seen in our live shots and this white Strato. Both of them are played on the Lightless...

I personally quite enjoy the progressive tendencies inherent in all your work, Lightless… definitely included. Fittingly, you have a very special guest, returning after he also played guitar on Coronation… Pekka “Rekku” Rechardt of Finnish progressive rock legends Wigwam. It must be an honour to have him back, his playing is fantastic. What sort of input did he have into the songs this time around, and how does he feel about the second fruit of your combined labours? Will he likely now be a continuous feature on your albums?

– Having him on board definitely adds depth and texture to the albums. Majority of the leads are played by him which is an advantage as he has very good ears and his playing style is totally different from the default metal lead guitar. Interestingly he just reactivated Wigwam for sold out shows here in Finland, I’m going to see him play live next week in a big club just 500 meters from my home. The home where I have a picture of us hanging on the living room wall. Sometimes even an agnostic Satanist has to feel blessed. Our work together is surprisingly seamless. Maybe that has something to do with the fact of him being born the fifties and therefore not feeling quite all the angsts that the millennials about working with the bunch of no-bullshit-given-or-taken individuals that we are.

The album is supposed to be listened to as one piece, and is apparently the same length as Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon. Have you tried it out to see if it syncs up with “The Wizard of Oz” yet?

– That is properly witty! So far we have only tried to sync it to The Dark Side Of The Moon.

Okay, but seriously now – did you go into the record with intent from the start to compose an album that worked as an entire coherent piece, or did it just come together that way during the process?

– It got more coherent whilst in process. Compared to Coronation… , which is a more a compilation of carefully selected songs, Lightless… was constructed to be a one big piece. It has less songs and they are longer. In a way Coronation…’s last songs lead the way to the new album.

While your sound has indeed evolved, one thing that has stayed the same (apart from having consistently killer riffs and songs, obviously) is that you are always doing your own unique thing, thinking and creating for yourselves. Which, in a way, is part of the ethos of true black metal – before everyone seemingly started copying everyone else. Is this something you’ve ever consciously focused on, and do you feel this ideal could or should be aimed for more often these days?

– This the very essence of our work. At some points during the years it has maybe even directed us too much away from our path – production style of the Faustian Dream album might be one example of that urge of doing things differently going one bridge too far. But yes, I totally agree with you. Blind crowd mentality is something we have been against ever since we recorded the song Flowing Downwards where the lyrics even state “fuck your herd conformity, the noble shall rule”. That might not be high-brow poetry from today’s perspective but it surely has served as our mission statement throughout the decades.

Speaking of modern black metal, the press release contains a rather excellent / hilarious quote from you: “Nowadays music sounds like it was written and produced in McDonald’s – by the people who work there”. You’ve been in the game since the very beginnings of the Finnish scene, seen the genre itself evolve and change… do you find merit in any black metal of the current era? Do you keep up to date with any of it?

– This of course varies greatly between the members of the band. Personally I’m not very much aware of what is going on in the underground scene except for the two new Possessed songs that I streamed this morning. Do they count? On a more serious note we appreciate people who make their living in McDonalds, as in the Finnish welfare state it would be way more easier for them to just stay home with youtube and Playstation and let the few taxpayers pay for their burgers. What we are trying to say that people who use the Satanic aesthetics of black metal and portray themselves as some sort of elite creatures should maybe also have some earthly achievements to display their superiority. In Black Crucifixion all the members of the brotherhood are proud men with something under our belts. We work for our living and in jobs that we have chosen. We feel that gives us some mandate to be a black metal band.

And finally, what lies ahead for Black Crucifixion? Has work begun on any new material, and if so – any hints on what we can expect?

– This band is a constant creative process. The trilogy of albums was worked on ever since Faustian Dream came out in 2006. The songs slowly found their way into the entities that we all can now listen to. Amazingly the oldest pieces of music on the trilogy are over thirty years old. It tells something about our work methods that we are now working on pieces that partly outdate the trilogy. And stuff that has just been dreamt up. There is a future for all of them. It pays to be patient with us.

Thanks again for your time today, and thank you for another truly great album. Any last words you’d like to leave us with?

– Seance Records has Lightless Violent Chaos out on CD and cassettes. Support their work for the underground by buying the album. We promise you it is worth your time and money.

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Lightless Violent Chaos releases June 3rd. Pre-orders available now, with free worldwide shipping on all CD pre-orders.

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Pre-order Lightless Violent Chaos from Seance Records here for the cassette, or here on CD.

Support Black Crucifixion:

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

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

The Purging Fires Of Extinction – An Interview with Kapala

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Lay down before the war machine

Feed it with your dying screams

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Kapala fucking hates you.

But hey, don’t let that fact make you feel special in any way. Screaming forth from the current black death hotbed of Kolkata the Indian obliterators hate every single member of this odious species known as humankind and want to see nothing more than total eradication; no compromise, no mercy. For this is a war and they are aural terrorists – their weapon of genocide an inhumanly savage, occultic war-noise blitzkrieg that’s almost impossible for a mortal body to withstand.

Case in point – their horror inducing, cataclysmic, upcoming sophomore EP Termination Apex. With an assault comprised of absolutely scathing throatwork over a bottom-heavy tank of war metal artillery, the Kolkata Inner Order members originally left an indeliable mark upon humankind with their 2017 debut EP Infest Cesspool – but that was nowhere near enough for these cold blooded killing machines, they had to discover all new ways to inflict maximum damage. Noisecore, grind and power electronics now seethe through their sound and ratchet the brutality to almost incomprehensible levels of cruelty, an incredible development of their already maniacal attack and one that will only cement them as an extreme force on the world stage.

We’re fortunate enough to be speaking with one of the three mysterious members of this death kvlt today, so read on below and listen to the two teaser tracks as they not only rip off your head and shit down your neck, but then proceed to also tear your twitching body to shreds and leave the charred and broken remains strewn in the street for stray dogs to feast upon. Releases 25th June through the mighty Dunkelheit Produktionen. Utter contempt. Total war. Hails.

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Hails Kapala! Your second EP Termination Apex is being released soon through Dunkelheit Produktionen, and it’s nothing short of utter annihilation. It’s so totally hate filled, I want to ask something first: how do you really feel about humanity, and what is your opinion of the world as a whole?

– Hvmanity is heading towards the ultimate end and will, in time, walk in a world of only ash and death. Hvmanity is an arrogant parody of itself, writhing gleefully in a cesspool of its own making.

Some of the most violent music I’ve heard in recent years has been coming out of Kolkata. Why do you think this is so?

– Struggle and strife create radical mentalities, and that here has been channelled into our hate-filled audio assaults. The path we walk has obstacles at every crossroad and no violent Kvltkata band is a stranger to them. The conditions and challenges we face are as extreme as the music that we channel.

You’re clearly influenced by the greats (Blasphemy, Revenge, Goatpenis etc) but on Termination Apex you push it all so much further and descend into hells deeper than ever before. More bludgeoning, more filth, more pure loathing. Was this a conscious effort, to push your assault even harder than on Infest Cesspool?

– As a band and as individuals we always wanted to push music to violent extremes and of course when we heard the mentioned bands we were heavily influenced by their brutality and extremity. But, after Infest Cesspool which had of course clear influences, we wanted to move towards the true and unique Kapala sound. I wouldn’t say we’ve achieved that yet, but in Termination Apex we are much closer to our goal than in Infest Cesspool. We will continue to push the envelope with every successive release until the limits of extremity (if there are any) are reached.

If I am correct, a “kapala” is a Tibetan ritual bowl made from the top of a human skull. Would you say there is a ritualistic aspect to your sonic assault?

– It is more of a symbol of death for us. Our subject matter is total nihilistic warfare and there is no ritualistic aspect to it that I can say. Of course, one might interpret it in a different way.

The EP was mixed and mastered by Martial Opium of Tetragrammacide, who makes it sound like the end of the world. Are you happy with the outcome of his work?

– We are 100% satisfied and impressed by the job he did. He gave us the sound we wanted and I don’t think anyone else could have given us exactly that.

Aside from working with Martial Opium I see you’ve also recently worked with A.R of Banish and Jyotiṣavedāṅga. I’ve noted that Sadist from Tetragrammacide is also in Jyotiṣavedāṅga, and some other connections are also apparent – I can tell the scene is very close. I’ve read about the Kolkata Inner Order, is this a collective of all of these bands and others? Can you tell us a little about it?

– It is more of a congregation of individuals who decided to push music to its most extreme ends and met by no accident. We are of course quite close as we share the same mentality. When more individuals of the same mindset and objectives rise, they will join us as well. AR and Martial Opium have been great supporters of Kapala from its formative stages up to now, and will continue to be in the future.

There are some great audio samples throughout the album; I can pick out some poignant dialogue from ‘Full Metal Jacket’, for example. Do you draw a lot of your inspiration from film? Are there any films, books, or other art / propaganda you feel particularly represent the ideals behind Kapala and the message you proselytize in your sermons of death?

– Yes certain war movies like ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘Full Metal Jacket’ do inspire us. But more than films, literature and history have been more influential to us, such as ‘1984’ by Orwell and certain poetry of P.B. Shelley and T.S. Elliot. Works such as ‘Hollow Men’ and ‘Ozymandias’ represent the futility of resistance and hopelessness that we hope our works invoke. In fact, the dystopian perspective of ‘1984’ perfectly represents our harsh and unforgiving sonic battlefields.

As previously mentioned, Termination Apex is flying under the banner of Dunkelheit Produktionen. What do you have to say about this label? Are you pleased with the collaboration so far?

– Dunkelheit Produktionen has been a great support and instrumental in propagating our hate. It is truly an elite label with no bullshit politics and we couldn’t ask for a better collaborator.

I’ve noticed you seem to play live quite often. Have you had offers to take your assault to further shores?

– We are supposed to play in Sri Lanka alongside Genocide Shrines among others for now. But other than that our live appearances have always been under the banner of Kolkata Inner Order and we will continue to be its flagbearer no matter on which shore we alight.

And finally – what is next for Kapala? There was almost two years between Infest Cesspool and Termination Apex… will we have to wait another two years for the next transmission of audial terror?

– Perhaps the next wave will come sooner than expected. We have already prepared new sonic weapons. It is only a matter of time.

Sincerest thanks for your time Kapala, total support. Any final words for us today?

– HVMANITY WILL BE PURGED BY THE FIRES OF EXTINCTION

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Purchase Termination Apex digitally or on tape, CD and LP from Dunkelheit Produktionen here.

Support Kapala:

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

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Reconstruct – An Interview with Spiral Eyed of Apothecary

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medicine for thy soul

an ailment to thy madness.

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The music of USBM solo artist Spiral Eyed and his project Apothecary exists in a space outside of time and the natural world, yet somehow buried deep within it. It’s not easily described; and could be considered the very antithesis of “easy listening”. Often seeming largely improvised the winding, wild, convoluted and beautifully abrasive compositions aren’t a series of carefully planned notes in an attempt to artificially manufacture some sort of “evil” or “darkness”, oh no. Instead, they are the result of a man totally throwing himself into these feelings and visions, screaming from the formless void; the audial ectoplasmic residue oozing from the throes of someone experiencing something overwhelmingly powerful. If you can tap into its wavelength I can almost guarantee it will be one of the most hellish and transcendent things you’ll ever experience.

Quietly crafting this astonishing raw art in the deepest shadows for years and through countless releases, Spiral Eyed himself is also one of the most unique, spiritual and just plain otherworldly people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being in contact with. The man’s very essence vibrates at a different frequency than most and I’ve had an interview in the works with him for quite some time, but the planets had never fallen into precise alignment… until now. Tying in with the recent release of his split with Norwegian solo practitioner UtenHåp Waking In An Eternal Fade and the cassette A Mist Upon A Sacred Forest Floor, Beheld The Dark Flame through Psalm 88, I present our chat below – totally unedited because even the way he types has a resonance all its own and, when considered alongside his compositions, makes perfect sense and should not be altered in any way. It’s a fascinating and insightful conversation with an incredibly unique artist and individual who honestly deserves more attention, even if he almost certainly wouldn’t want it. Read on.

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Hails Spiral Eyed! It’s a pleasure to speak with you here, I hope you are well.

–  hails! the same for you man, indeed so..

Your latest audial emanation is the recent split with UtenHåp of Norway. This isn’t your first split together (in fact I think it may be your fourth?), but it’s an amazing release – can you tell us a little about what it means to you, and how it came to be?

– that.. was in the process for awhile, since Dec. 2018, Jan. 2019 and on, but i had not quite settled down with a.. sound.. of sorts. so i started brainstorming pt. B, which is recovering the written assessment, or the back piece that serves as lyrics for the most part.. there has to be this, energy.. manifested through everything together.. i oftentimes find myself falling asleep when editing certain parts. . . it’s overwhelming me, in a weirdly good way.

as for if it is the fourth.. ? i think we also were a part of a few other things like a 3 way split with 000 added on the bill. he is from New Zealand, awesome artist. that i believe is how all this started, through 000\Tegroth.. that was last year or two..

The two tracks you have on this split are ‘Exit Out’ and ‘the Waking Hour’. They’re both compelling pieces; what are the themes they both deal with?

–  this particular split was endearing on my part, since the two given tracks are themed around suicide. and what happens right away, to that person. where they end up, go.. that is a question i know for a fact we have all thought about, wondered and even contemplated. so when i am going over these written parts, all this imagery starts happening.. in this case, it is a maze, somewhere ‘in time‘.. and in this massive, continental labyrinth, of silver marble.. does a suicide victim pretty much drop right to. of course it takes years, centuries.. to wander this thing, all while at the center of this, larger dark complex beyond your understanding- is the Source. or the Wanderers’ source of energy, who they were. everything that made that person, them. their originality persona. and the purpose to this is for the person to reconnect with their previous selves, or the ticking clock that is the energy they have left to Wander, that energy fades if they don’t make it to the center, in time. so it isn’t necessarily a ‘second chance fantasy’ i am dwelling in, there is actually universal points in the written assessment that anyone could make for it what they will..

i can post the lyrics to the two tracks.. there are a total of four, in this one written part. that basically chronicles themes of energy, recycle, despair, darkness. there are things beyond us, who we are.. that we can return to. if we choose to.

From our previous message discussions I know that you have a very idiosyncratic creative process, in terms of where you derive inspiration from and how you then translate that into your compositions. Can you tell us a little about that?

–  well.. it is surely a different process. definitely not your average one either, since the idea of Apothecary was to be fluid in terms of the Arts.

i use things from writing, painting to photography and music. blending it all to be one canvas of, flowing gateways. . a window.. i know this much.

at  times i can find myself, peering through the frames.. there is a grasp in that, so it becomes a physical presence by entering through that window.   when i am recording the music, it is in terms ‘ghetto’ yet uncompromising as all ass, because i have got to get it out.

drives one mad,  pressure.   

The sprawling, warped, screaming and scarred music of Apothecary is incredibly unique, and definitely not intended for the masses – only those who understand and can tap into the correct wavelength, so to speak. How have you found the general reception to be for your work?

–   mixed reactions.. some are downwards, most are still in a little box.. gazing outwards, instead of in..  just like anything in life, they have to feel for themselves which is what, about anything.

what i do, i have to get out of me. it is seething..

 scathing even, after awhile. there are those within, as without.

             and know,     thy name

I’d like to enquire about some history, if I may. Where did the idea to begin Apothecary come from? Is this your first black metal project, or have you been involved in others?

–    the idea started back in 2007 or 08.. as i was already writing and painting, photography darkroom sessions as well; around that time i had also been in a band for roughly four(?) years.. we were called As If They Were Animals, and i was the vocalist. we had a drummer, guitarist and me. later another guitarist joined and we were a four piece for another year and a half or so.. and hey, i won’t lie here, that was a sick.. rad fuckin band man, we gave you a show just practicing at our space. we gave no fucks man, 2am? so the fuck what. turn it up.. and just blasted through our set. we really delivered, and then again, we were a band with serious issues man.. no details about any of that will come out, but we all ended up elsewhere, stateside away and in and out and in and out and in and

    a few years passed.. i missed it, badly.. but i was also ending up in the ER half dead, half a dozen times.. friends would freakdrive me to the ER and drop me off and leave right away. they were tired of it.. pneumonia and Valley Fever caused scar tissue in my lungs, making it hard to do vocals.. especially when coughing up phlegm and blood. that started to writhe away at me over time.. i started distancing myself from everything even more than before, drugs wouldn’t do drinking wouldn’t.. suicidal ideation is so, loud.. so loud man.

 Apothecary formed because i had no way of making music, so i had to write it all out in words.. through memories.. photographs i take that induced the same soundtrack, every single time.. paintings.. everything i can look at that i was able to keep over the years since this became a.. need.. i see it all, and it comes back to me.. sometimes it doesn’t and it makes a new sound.. everything basically is a map, for when i was able to record it somehow, whether i am an  actual audio engineer or not- i still have to do release It.

there is another project i was involved in, Learning To Rot.. an awesome, surreal and dark journey that was. my scream gave the next door neighbor a heart attack. true story.. had cops called.. helicopters circled us once.

am a part of a mystical Southern Desert Circle (this is what i am calling it now) and so far i am the only member.  i guess..

T.R.A.L.E.S is another project, the mind behind Magic Incense and i collaborate in TRALES.. there is another member as well.

i am not sure of any other things i am a part of, what i do know is the years are a fuckin blur.

Another thing I also know from our discussions, and forgive me for bringing this up, is that you’ve unfortunately been through a lot of pain in your life to this point. I’m sorry if this is prying and you can disregard the question if you like – but would you be willing to tell us some of what you have gone through? Do you feel these trials have influenced your music at all, and does it make Apothecary a cathartic experience?

–   absolutely. yes.. i am going to go ahead and bring everyone up to speed, in the briefest way i can..

i was born with one of the rarest blood conditions in the world, GATA-2 gene.. and it made me prone to sickness my whole life.. so pneumonia was often.. Dr’s told me i was to die that weekend and to get on the phone and start calling my family and friends

. ‘get your affairs in order Mr. Spiral Eyed, and godspeed’. and i can remember sitting there, in the hospital bed.. watching each coat turn to the door, the.. silent roaring.. those, clouds passing.. i can remember how the day was darker then, my hospital room lights were off so the natural light made everything a darker shade of blue.. i left the next week. they drew my blood and came back and said wow, you can go!

i was 17 or so at the time. from then on i had hundreds of episodes.. we didn’t find anything out until am extremely concerned group of specialists based in U.C Davis (one of the absolute TOP.. teams, in the world) were really wondering why i was born with one of the rarest things known to man.. i  the science medical books, there are only 27 pages on it. that’s how much we know! or did, this was.. awhile ago. they found it by doing a bone marrow biopsy.. for those of you who don’t know what that is, or feels like-

 you lay down. . face first. . they do not let you see A N Y thing. . lay. then they have to stick this needle, into the back hip bone, just to ‘numb it’. ha.. mother fuckers.. then, they get this hand crank thing, similar to a corkscrew or wine bottle opener, and they basically hand pump this machinery while the whirly screw needle thingy drills into the bone, breaking it, until finally this needle stinger thing SHOOTS the damn thing into the center of the bone to suck out a certain amount of marrow onto a slide.. for ‘ microscopic views’. the core of my bone they take out literally looks like an apple core.. they never let me take them, i have had around 11.. 12? maybe 10. i don’t remember, i was awake for the first half until i told them to start putting me under. after the fifth one i started to lose a little of my sanity. the sixth sent me over the edge. the very first time it happened, was the worst. the drive there, was my cousin taking me. we both thought it would be a quick run in and out, so he pulled out this joint of super danky stuff. we smoked it.. i go in, and man.. i was stoned i won’t lie.. they asked me, are you ready Spiral?

  ready?! for what!

your bone marrow biopsy!

.. . .  what! wh wh what? shit!

so, yeah.. that really was horrible.

     i recently had a bone marrow transplant, because of what i was born with. i am now with my wife, and trying to put a lot behind me.. they took me off my painkillers after 10+ years of them, so i have been adjusting to that as well. you can probably hear that in my sounds, whether or not i was slipping away in withdrawals or if i was legitimately in pain.

i often am.  there is much more i can speak of, about pain.. about me..

the Dark Arts saved me.. i owe it to Them, to speak through ritualistic energy. i am here on Their Time now.

Aside from your music with Apothecary you are also a prolific visual artist across various mediums, creating pieces quite unlike much I have seen before. Your photography is incredible and usually adorns the covers of your releases, but I’m especially interested in the large canvas paintings you do. How long have you been painting them, and what inspires these pieces?

–   truly appreciate that.. photography is the stillness of a moment, captured as it passes. .

 the paintings started as a way to get ‘music’ out of me.. it also started as a way to do Art.

i fell in love, with the Darkness at an early age.. 2nd grade.. i get my hands on those Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark books, and immediately.. felt alive with the art. Stephen Gammel, that guy right there knew what was up.. Giger.. Beksinski.. so many greats out there, long dead now, with works speaking to us directly.. that is another form of Necromancy, to me.. so painting it out, was my way of speaking to others around me that could let it speak to them, for them. what i do, is what you alone make of it. i have several here with me, some have been stolen.. some have been sold.. lost, and some i destroyed in fits of rage and manic depression.

scars of abuse are so deep, they bloom at random times.

You’ve been quite prolific, releasing work at a steady rate over the years. Do you feel your motivations or the resulting work has changed since the beginnings of Apothecary? If so, in what way?

–   it has, and always will.. to be fluid, is to be ever constantly in motion.  when you see a pharmacy, you ever notice how it is a variety of things, going in and out.. people in for different reasons, ailments.. we all have a scar, that we bury beneath. i am here to say no one is ever truly alone. i often wonder if the pain of everyone is being recognized through my oceanic and receptive essence, that i speak to those who swim through.. whether it is through anything i do. ?  maybe i am a medium of sorts, put here for reasons that i am still deciphering somehow.

an apothecary, is like a pharmacy.. so the forthcoming idea to the project was to be fluid in what is seeping out of the caverns inside of my haunted head. my soul.. the motivations i have are entirely to continue releasing stuff.. energy is constant, so much to tap into.. i just prefer the darker side of things, where i feel at home.

Aside from the split with UtenHåp, you have another special item for sale at the moment – a cassette box, if it hasn’t already sold out by the time we finish this interview. Can you tell us about this box?

–  yes! the box is one of others i have planned out for a long, long time now.. was a matter of when and what that would be, and this release from awesome label Psalm 88 just felt right. overdue even, way overdue..

the box itself is hand painted by me, each with its own features yet mostly black. hints of dark red splatter on some, with a vibrant and darker violet on the others. they will each have lyrics painted on the inside, with special paint and a separate set of lyrics for each box.. some glow in the dark paint as well.. wax sealed with a certain seal, as that means it is official and from me directly. there is another seal for it, only those whom have it will know\see it, as a message will be included so people in this world can’t take my idea and try to pass it off as me. .

i have very, well thought out measures here.

each box bundle comes with three different photography prints from my personal stash.. each bundle will have entirely different images..

the tape Psalm 88 released in the box of course, as well as handwritten lyrics for the tracks.. personal art from my books, a surprise as well..  a skeleton key is different for each one, but the key symbolises my thanks to the buyer at hand, allowing them into a little piece of me, that they can have forever.

You don’t just live and breathe black metal, you feel it deep in your being like few others I have known. This may be a difficult question, but: what does black metal mean to you?

–   black metal.. to me.. oh boy.. is many things.

it is passion, fire.. it is a message, a double edged sword that one must know where to wield and where to slay.. it is a power, energy to reveal. to speak.. to receive. it is a way of life, and some of us bleed for what we do.

And finally: what lies in the future for Apothecary, and yourself? Will we see a full-length from you soon?

–    much is in progress! a split with Magic Incense, another split with a Canadian artist but unsure of the status of that one.. a full length is in the works indeed, and a couple EPs.. i do have a special thing happening, news on that later as well.

Sincerest thanks for your time once again Spiral Eyed, it’s been a pleasure. Any final wisdom you would like to leave us with?

–    thank you for doing this! appreciate this, there is something i will end this with, and that is the lyrics to most of ‘the Waking Hour’.. the rest that is written, is going to the next two tracks, which brings all of this full circle. it is titled ‘the Waking Hour’, since i could find it that way when searching for it, so here it is, with editing help of a great and talented friend Nathan Hassall. he helped me construct it further, but this is the blueprint itself.

 

    ‘the  waking hour’
triangular  prisms
  of light
a labyrinth
  of cold
 silver marble
thy energy is faded

the reflections
revealing
 trepidation

shadowed  hand
blurring through
wait, along..
and your gasps
came from under
moonlit  shrouded
maroon  night
an eternal   fade
wandering figures
of broken light

centuries have passed  by
like a grain of  salt
all of us wandering
gyred core  energy
lost  and silent

in the center
of every maze
 is a  breath
of broken light
fighting to  see..
to take form

    feel..  find
reconnect
breaking into shape
reconstruct

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Purchase Waking In An Eternal Fade digitally from Bandcamp here, and purchase A Mist Upon A Sacred Forest Floor, Beheld The Dark Flame through Psalm 88 here or in an ultra-limited art box from the Apothecary Etsy Store here.

Support Apothecary:

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

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

FÓLKVANGR RECORDS MINI LABEL SPOTLIGHT INFERNO: Interviews with ChapelFlames and Ancient Flame

It’s been a while since we checked in with US tape label Fólkvangr Records, one of the hardest working and most genuine underground labels going around in the current year. So what are they up to? Well, still tirelessly keeping up their impeccable release track record they’ve got yet another killer pair of high-quality black gems lined up to unleash upon the world – Ireland’s enigmatic ChapelFlames with his great debut album Uaigheanna Gan Mharcáil, and US solo practitioner JL‘s Ancient Flame, bringing to us the thrilling Tyrant Blood.

Both are one man projects, both summon vitriolic, ripping black metal belched forth from the bowels of various subterranean hellfires, both sport rousing, battle-hardened riffs and an assault honed to maximise your chances of triumphing over your enemies – and both are dropping together on 17th May (so you can pick ’em up together and save a few dollars on that shipping). To celebrate this glorious happening, we’re doing something a little different; instead of merely rambling on about the releases we’re diving headlong into the raging firestorm and speaking directly to both of the individuals behind these compelling records. Cool, right? Check out both of the interviews below, listen to the available tracks scattered throughout and go throw some hails at both of these deserving artists and the mighty Fólkvangr Records. Esto perpetua.

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Greetings ChapelFlames! I hope we find you well. Speaking of finding you: information about the project is scarce on online, I don’t know much about you at all bar that you’re a one man project from Ireland. So first off: who is the mysterious entity behind all this, and what led to the genesis of the musical idea which would become ChapelFlames?

– Greetings Aaron, thanks for taking the time to reach out to me, I really appreciate it.

There’s no real reason behind the anonymity of the project itself; I just wanted the music to do the talking, so to speak.

I’ve been enamored with Black Metal since I was a child, although I was never all that interested in the aesthetic appeal of the music, the atmosphere and playing styles had me hooked. I got sidetracked along the way by Hardcore Punk, and subsequently spent my younger years (and current years) playing in Hardcore bands. ChapelFlames was really born out of the necessity to prove to myself that I could in fact do it, and play the music I’ve always wanted to, by myself. It took a few years to build up the confidence, gear, and know how to do so, but I eventually got there.

I’ve recently had the privilege of experiencing your upcoming debut album Uaigheanna Gan Mharcáil, and it’s a powerful release indeed. I have not yet had a chance to read the lyrics, but the title rather intriguingly translates to “Unmarked Graves”… which is also the name of the third track on the album. Could you enlighten us a little as to the themes present on the record?

– The themes on the record revolve around Irish history, conflicting political ideologies between the North and South of Ireland and my at the time degrading mental state. “Unmarked Graves” in particular relates to the genocide committed against the Irish by the English during the Irish Famine.

Aside from the general themes, I’d also like to ask about the album’s ultimate conclusion: “The Northern Province – I, Embittered Blood – II, Thy Young Ensnared”. Not only is it a great song in itself but the title conjures images of a potentially fascinating tale. What is the story and meaning behind this track?

– I come from the North of Ireland, which to anyone outside of Ireland may just sound like a geographical specific, but it can be the difference between a lot of things in someone’s upbringing on this island.

My parents are mixed marriage, which means they come from different religious backgrounds, which in this case is Catholic and Protestant. This was during the period in Ireland referred to as the “Troubles”, an ongoing conflict between the Irish Republicans and Irish Unionists in Northern Ireland.

I was never raised specifically to follow one religious path, which in itself is a good thing, however it did lead to a lot of confusion on my behalf about where my geographical identity lay. A lot of people I grew up with up associated as British, a lot associated as Irish, I didn’t quite know where I fit into things.

Depending on where you are born in Ireland can have a lot of say on what is imposed on you in terms of ideological beliefs, however, I never felt this pressure, so I grew up not having any clue about my geographical identity. I eventually realised I was Irish, and grew out of the anger that I felt towards the whole situation, however I know that the same process I went through is still happening to this day, because not only are children born into areas that teach poisonous belief systems, but they’re also not taught about the history of the island itself. In the North, it can be a very imperial aligned view point that you are taught, depending on where you are born.

Musically, the album possesses a depth and variety that I found quite surprising. Second wave meets stabs of third wave dissonance, with folk melodies nestling in beside black/death elements to great effect. What sort of influences or musical touchpoints did you have whilst writing the album?

– That’s a really hard question for me to answer, because truthfully, I don’t fully know. The only constants I’ve ever known musically are that I love the balance between light and dark, the play of melody and dissonance has always yielded my favourite releases in any genre. During the writing process for the album I was going through an extreme bout of depression, I would lock myself in my makeshift home studio for countless hours a day, hit record, and see what came out, whittle it down, then build a song out of it. Probably not the most efficient way to write a song but it somehow worked in this scenario. I would also occasionally take myself, my acoustic guitar, and a portable recorder up the Cooley Mountains to record whatever the scenery inspired me to conjure up.

Your first release was the also-enjoyable Deathbloom demo but you’ve really stepped up your game on Uaigheanna Gan Mharcáil. This material sounds absolutely incredible in comparison, not only in sound but in songwriting too. Being a one man project I’d assume you have your preferred writing and recording methods fairly locked down – what was it like going on to work on the full-length after the demo? Did you do anything differently?

– I suppose the major difference between the demo and album was the addition of live drums, which were in the end performed by a session player who wishes to remain nameless. I don’t require the programming skills to outdo the real thing, for now anyway.

In regards to my approach to songwriting I wouldn’t really say anything drastic has changed; I still write in a very sporadic manner, with sharp transitions, and constant rhythm changes. I have issues with my focus point, so if I don’t change something sonically I get bored extremely quick, so I suppose this in turn results in endless riffs per song.

As previously mentioned ChapelFlames is yet another great Irish black metal band, of which there are many – do you find yourself particularly inspired by the arts of your countrymen? How involved are you in the Irish black metal scene?

– Absolutely. Clichéd as it may be to say because I’m from Ireland, but I personally feel like some of the Irish bands on the go at present are stronger than anything else in the world musically. You have the likes of present bands such as Slidhr, Unyielding Love, and Malthusian, all of which are flying the flag for extreme music. Alongside this you also have a roster of deceased bands from Ireland who put out records that will stand the test of time musically, far too many for me to even name. As for my involvement in the scene itself, other than my own output, I have absolutely no input, the scene is small, and finding competent musicians is a trial in itself. It’s easier for me to do it myself at present.

The album is dropping soon on cassette tape through the good people at Fólkvangr Records, a label becoming more known by the day for digging up fantastic works from the deep underground. How did this deal come about?

– I honestly had to take a deep breath before sending the first initial email and reaching out to them. This label has put out the likes of Windfaerer and Chaos Moon, to name but a few, so to have my name alongside some of the most influential acts in Black Metal in recent years is actually astounding. This label has not put out one shite release since its inception, and that says it all really, so for them to put this record out means a lot to me. Hopefully I’m not the shite one, eh?

And finally – what’s next for ChapelFlames? Any new material in the works, or perhaps an expanded lineup and some live shows?

– I have a serious love/hate relationship with this project, it takes a lot out of me mentally to conjure up the music, so I’ve no real clue when the next release will be, that being said, I’m a glutton for punishment, so it could be sooner rather than later. I did recently collaborate with an Irish based Noise artist called Vile Sermon, to put out a project under the moniker of Sermon of Flames, and an EP called Heralds of the Untruth. I’m currently writing an album for this project, which is shaping up to be a cacophonous ordeal altogether, but other than that, I have no interest in taking CF live for now.

Sincerest thanks for your time today. Any final words you’d like to leave us with?

– Thanks for your time, hail Ireland!

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Pre-order Uaigheanna Gan Mharcáil on cassette from Fólkvangr Records HERE.

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Greetings JL! It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you today. Now, Ancient Flame‘s debut album Tyrant Blood dropped digitally and on tape back on the 25th February – how have you found the response to it has been so far?

– I initially made 10 cassettes of “Tyrant Blood” that sold quickly with no real self-promotion. While not necessarily a triumph, Folkvangr was kind enough to help create more copies of the cassette.

The album is tagged as Pagan Black Metal, and the titles and lyrics seem like they may possibly indeed borrow at least in part from Nordic mythology or similar. Runes, battles, druids… were these tales inspired by any particular existing mythos, and if so, what does that source mean to you personally?

– The inspiration behind the album is intensely personal with a conceptual presentation. The imagery and themes are of Celtic origin. “Tyrant Blood” is about a fictional and cyclical war. The narrative of the songs is used as a platform for creating ancient imagery and atmosphere within the music. The idea behind the sound is to infuse an intense negativity with a feeling of victory and triumph.

Personally, I don’t like to promote any specific ideas or interpretations of the music. The listener should be the one to interpret the music, as intended. I use black metal as an outlet for many reasons.

You also have two other solo black metal projects – Labyrinthine and Skullreader. Are they still active? What made you want to begin Ancient Flame instead of continuing one of them?

– I am not currently creating any new music for Labyrinthine or Skullreader. I will most likely revisit both projects at some point, although I am not entirely sure. These projects come from different sources, and I don’t necessarily like to revisit these sources creatively.

For Ancient Flame, I wanted to create a sense of medieval atmosphere with black metal. The influences here are obvious to anyone familiar with the underground but were mainly inspired by early Abigor, Bathory, Obsequiae, and Polish black metal.

Aside from your three solo projects, you’re also doing time as guitarist in the great epic doom band Crypt Sermon. I can sometimes hear the vaguest of doom-ish influences and definitely some of the similar epic vibes in some of the sections on Tyrant Blood; given that Crypt Sermon has a solid black metal connection as well (you all did a fantastic job of covering Mayhem‘s seminal track De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas alongside TT of Abigor the other year and Fenriz of Darkthrone has also given the band his seal of approval), how often do you feel your inspiration for both of these projects has crossed over? Do you find it easy to separate your motivations for them entirely, or do you feel some of the feel from one creeps in to the other on occasion and has had an influence on the sound?

– There is a small amount of crossover regarding the inspiration for both Crypt Sermon and Ancient Flame, but they are both very different in terms of the musical effect that I am trying to achieve.

Motivationally, I have been driven for a long time to create music and I like to explore different sounds and approaches. Each project comes from a different place in terms of the effect I want to have on the listener. Ancient Flame is a combination of darker elements mixed with an epic feeling that I would like to explore more in the future. It can be difficult to translate different emotions within a black metal context, but I remain interested in the challenge.

The cover art is intriguing and appears to be an illustration of a druid lifted from an old book, or something similar. Where is it from, and what does it depict in relation to the album’s themes?

– The cover came from a textbook article on druids. This image encapsulates the tone of what I am attempting to translate through the music. Mainly a sense of ancient war. The imagery and subject matter is conceptual, but the emotion is real. Tyrant Blood is a story of revenge around themes of war and the implications within.

The first tape drop of the album sold out (I’d imagine fairly quickly, too) but luckily we will soon be seeing a second cassette release through the great Fólkvangr Records. How do you feel about this, and how have you found working with them to be so far?

– Mainly grateful to get some more copies of the album out.

I know you take the stage in at least one of your other endeavors – have you yet considered assembling a group of like-minded individuals and taking the Ancient Flame material to a live setting? If no, is this an idea you’d be open to in the future, or is this destined to remain a permanent studio project?

– I would be very open to the idea, no plans yet.

And finally; who is the tyrant you speak of in the album title? Is there a literal connection to be made with a historical figure, or is the concept of the tyrant intended in a more metaphorical sense?

– Conceptually, the “Tyrant” is the one who launched the initial attack (the one who shot the ‘Arrow of Truth and Fire’) in the first song. This then leads to the resulting war that culminates in ‘The Rising Flame of Hate’, which turns the revenge seeking subject of the story into a tyrant himself.

The symbolic interpretation here should be quite clear.

That’s it – sincerest thanks for your cooperation and eloquence. Any final words for us all?

– Stay underground.

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Pre-order Tyrant Blood on cassette from Fólkvangr Records HERE.

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Support Fólkvangr Records:

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

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Look To The Stars – An Interview with Starless Domain

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“Nothing exists except atoms and empty space; everything else is opinion.”

– Democritus

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EOS, the debut album from US atmospheric / ambient collective Starless Domain, took me by surprise upon its release in back in January. I was familiar with the trio of JR, AW and AEF‘s other works in Stellar Descent, Twilight Falls, Boreal and Bergtagen but the awe-inspiring, somber magnitude of their self-dubbed “Deep Field Black Metal” landed one day without warning and almost immediately proceeded to completely and utterly captivate me.

A singular, sprawling, unhurried study in the vastness of our universe, EOS remains mesmerising for the entirety of its hour long presence. The largely synth-driven piece begins with three minutes of slowly building cosmic ambience and disembodied howls before the inherent electromagnetism of reality forces the inevitable crash of elements together into a blasting rush of slow-burning, entropic fury – a dynamic that plays out repeatedly over the duration and only serves to enhance the trance-like nature of this dense and ever-evolving rhythmic journey. And it will put you in a trance, transfixed as it slowly reveals myriad buried secrets; it’s a joy to experience the intricately layered composition gradually unfolding in subtle increments as haunting melodies and recurring themes escape the maelstrom, resonating out into infinity and inviting contemplation in the listener. The triumvirate have crafted a record that once submerged in is not only extremely enjoyable but challenging and even mind-expanding, as it forces our consciousness through depth of sound to confront the sheer overwhelming vastness of space – and the eerie violence inherent in its endless beauty.

This thing is easily one of the records I’ve listened to the most this year, definitely top five and possibly even top three in terms of total repeat plays; so if you think I was going to pass up the opportunity to have a chat with two thirds of the trio you are sorely mistaken, my friend. So grab yourself a cuppa, settle in and read on below as JR and AW unveil the mysteries behind one of the sleeper hits of 2019. Hails.

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Hello Starless Domain! Hope you are well, it’s great to be speaking to you today. Your debut album of cosmic black immensity EOS launched digitally in January and is now becoming available on tape via Pacific Threnodies and Black Horizons, with a CD to follow soon on Aesthetic Death. An excellent occurrence, as it definitely deserves a wide physical release. I’ve read that it was the “fate of the infinite universe” that brought you all together as Starless Domain, so tell us – what was the journey like with this project to get to the point you’re at now?

JR: I wouldn’t really say it was the “fate of the universe” so much as an inevitability. AW and I have been making music together for a few years now, and AW and AEF have been making music together for even longer (dare I say much longer). It was only a matter of time until the three of us did something concrete together.

As far as the actual birth of the project, it was one weekend when AW sent me a working draft of an album he and AEF had started working on the previous day (as expected, it was already 22 minutes long), asking if I could record bass. Why not? We’re all friends, it will probably be cool. And it was! The next day, what would eventually become EOS had blossomed into the hour long titan we know today. However, from my perspective, this was all done from the comfy chair in my prior apartment’s living room. Not very ceremonious.

As the press release states, Eos was a Titan goddess in Greek Mythology – “the personification of the dawn”. Is she who the title is referring to?

JR: We actually meant EOS as an aurora, which is a manifestation of Eos, the Titan goddess of dawn.

AW: JR suggested EOS as the album title. And we all loved the idea. I also really loved it because Eos is also the title of a publication from the American Geophysical Union.

The album is a mesmerizing, flowing beast of shifting moods, varying in intensity and filled with gorgeous ambient passages that break up the black trance. Given especially that it’s such a lengthy and involved piece, I’m curious as to the creative process between you. Did you all immediately know that you were on the same page in terms of theme and writing in longform, or did one of you perhaps handle the bulk of composing?

AW: AEF and I had been generally discussing starting this project for some years. But we just hadn’t found the time. Recently, however, AEF moved to within driving distance of my house. Shortly after moving, he came down to visit for a weekend. And he brought his synthesizers.

We just set everything up and started recording. We recorded
EOS around AEF’s synth work. He wrote and recorded synthesizers, and I wrote and recorded rhythm and lead guitars around the synthesizers. As I was writing and recording rhythm and lead guitars, AEF was writing the next synthesizer progression. We recorded about half the album the first night and the rest a couple days later, right before AEF left. We sent a draft to JR, and he recorded bass. And then shortly thereafter he recorded vocals as well.

The vocal attack is extremely impressive, and I believe all three of you contribute your talents in that department. I’m especially taken by a certain piercing scream/howl that appears semi-regularly throughout – it sounds absolutely throat-shredding. Which of you was responsible for this particular vocal?

AW: JR performs almost all the vocals. His vocals are very high pitched and absolutely perfect for Starless Domain.

JR: This isn’t to discount AW and AEF’s vocals, which I feel appear at pivotal points in the album.

You have dubbed your sound “Deep Field Black Metal”. What ‘deep field’ actually means and how it relates to your compositions is quite fascinating – could you tell us in your own words what it’s all about, and what inspired you to use this approach on EOS?

JR: In a nutshell, the Hubble Deep Field is a region of space found within the space between the stars in Ursa Major, “The Big Dipper.” Though “small” in its captured region, the galaxies which comprise the Deep Field are incredibly far away, and, as light takes time to reach its destination, incredibly ancient. We wanted EOS to reflect this distant emptiness, but also the colors of the treated Hubble photos (it should be noted that any colors in NASA or Hubble photos are added after the fact).

AW: One of the really interesting things about the Hubble Deep Field is that it’s not actually interesting at all. It’s just a random part of space that otherwise holds no particular interest. That’s why it was targeted. The idea was to select a random portion of space that looked just like everything else and then dedicate unprecedented time for the Hubble telescope to photograph it. So the only thing special about the Hubble Deep Field is the amount of time dedicated to photographing it. It was that unprecedented observation time that allowed us to discover that nearly every dot of light seen in this random little chunk of otherwise boring space was itself an entire galaxy. It’s a trip.

Cosmic black metal is as popular than ever (possibly even more so, depending who you talk to), I even recently spoke to Evergreen Refuge who also found particular inspiration in stargazing for his latest opus. Space continues to be a great wellspring of inspiration for black metal – why do you think the themes blend so well with this genre, and what are some of your favourite releases by artists who operate within these realms?

JR: Black metal is all about atmosphere, and what is more atmospheric than the vast emptiness and colors of outer space? It’s all so mysterious and wondrous — black metal and outer space are like two pieces of some greater puzzle.

As far as artists I enjoy: Darkspace, by and far. I’ve also recently been enamored with the new Darchon album. I would also say some of the astral projection themes found in Paysage d’Hiver could count as “cosmic.”

AW: A little over a decade ago, I was just finishing up my time at the university. I had been a pretty awful student. I switched majors a few times. I didn’t attend classes regularly. I flunked out for some time and instructors had to sign what were effectively waivers indicating that they understood I was a piece of shit who was likely going to just waste their time and take up space. That all changed at the very end, when I switched majors one last time and got my shit together to put in an honest effort.

Toward the end of my major, I found myself in field camp. We were out in the desert. Camping for some weeks. Mapping outcrops, studying stratigraphy, trying to piece together the geologic history of our study area. And getting drunk and high every night. Most nights, I’d get really high, climb to the top of an old granitic outcrop just south of my tent, and lie down on my back, staring off into space, listening to music.

Around that time, AEF had sent me a draft of Abyss, which was a new album he had recorded for his project Boreal. I was immediately taken by the music. It was extremely dark and psychedelic. And guitar distortions sounded almost fractal. Especially when high, it sounded like there were entire universes of music inside each note. And so that’s what I listened to every night, staring off into space, drunk and high. And that experience means so much to me now personally and musically.

I don’t know that AEF meant for Abyss to have such a cosmic interpretation. But that’s how I experienced it. And that’s probably when black metal and space really intersected for me. My inspiration for Starless Domain really is rooted in that experience, and it grew over the years as AEF started experimenting with analogue synthesizers and I started listening to bands like Darkspace.

As previously mentioned, Pacific Threnodies, Black Horizons and Aesthetic Death are handling the physical release of the album. This must be pleasing; they’re great labels that have all recently put out some wonderful hidden gems. How did you come to be in contact with all of them?

JR: I have known Ross from Pacific Threnodies for just about a decade at this point. A chance meeting through Metal-Archives, of all places. James and I met a few years later through his amazing work with Black Horizons. Stu from Aesthetic Death is someone I met through my press work during my tenure at Invisible Oranges, but I’ve been following Aesthetic Death for as long as I can remember, I mean, that label’s given the world Fleurety, Esoteric, Wreck of the Hesperus…

AW: I met James at a show in the Bay Area. That’s when I discovered Black Horizons. I bought a few releases and was immediately impressed. And I met Ross some years ago at a metal festival. We have chatted infrequently since. I’ve followed his various musical projects with great interest. But I don’t know either very well and I don’t know Stu at all. And in general, I’m not well connected and don’t know that many folks. So most the label coordination for Starless Domain has been orchestrated by JR, who seemingly knows everyone after years of involvement with countless projects and publications.

The tape edition will also include something that sounds quite interesting: the B side will be a “kosmische synth version” of the album. I have several questions here – does this refer to the analogue synth emulator or is it EOS, Krautrock style? Either way, colour me intrigued… what’s the story behind it? Is it likely to be made available to hear anywhere else in future, or will it remain a cassette exclusive?

JR: The latter for sure. AEF’s performance is all analog synthesis, so think more Klaus Schulze than a digital version of the master.

This was actually Ross and James’s idea — what can we do to make the tape edition different from what is already available? We already digitally released EOS, which makes it difficult to meet the “new album” demand which comes with an album that has a full “exclusive press cycle.” Thus gave birth to Phantasma, which is the isolated synthesizer tracks from EOS. I am not certain if we will make it available anywhere for a while, if at least until after the cassette edition is gone.

Speaking of the tapes, I believe the originally stated limitation of 150 may have recently changed due to some unforeseen circumstances. What’s the story there? Do you have any idea what the updated pressing amount will be?

JR: For those who do not know, cassettes are physically limited by the length of the magnetic tape spool held inside of them — half of it held on one side of the tape, and the other on “the flip side”. In olden times, tapes could be however long you wanted them to be, from one minute (c1) to 120 minutes (c120). As times changed and tape manufacturing waned, if just slightly, the manufacturing of “old world ferric” tapes (ferric referring to the iron-based magnetic tape held therein), a new type of tape started being manufactured. Unfortunately for us, the length we needed (c120, for both EOS and the kosmiche synthesizer track Phantasma) is no longer part of the equation here. Ross (Pacific Threnodies) and James (Black Horizons) had to do some hunting to find what remained of the world’s c120 cache. As of right now, I am not certain as to how many tapes there will be, but I am sure it will meet demand.

And finally: I believe you have some more material already on the way… can you drop us any hints about what we can expect from you in the near future?

JR: ALMA will hopefully surface before the year’s end.

AW: And we have an EP nearly complete and another in the works. And we’ll be announcing a split album within the next year or so — but details there won’t be revealed yet, other than the fact that our material has been pretty much recorded.

Once again, eternal thanks for your time and words today. Eagerly anticipating more Starless Domain, EOS is already a firm personal favourite this year. Is there any final wisdom you’d like to leave us with?

JR: Make what you, not others, find interesting, and look to the stars!

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Pre-order EOS on cassette or digital from the band here or from Pacific Threnodies here.

Support Starless Domain:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com