I’ll admit it, I don’t listen to much raw black metal. I’m not sure why – it has just never appealed to me much, albeit with a few infrequent exceptions. Thus, it surprised even me when I came across the title track of Eternal Black Transmissions, the newest offering from Birmingham’s THE SUNS JOURNEY THROUGH THE NIGHT, and I was immediately compelled to seek it out for a full listen. Thereafter, the stars aligned; I am now beyond honored to both present the exclusive full-stream of it here today in a partnership between Repose Records, Black Metal Daily and Order ov the Black Arts YouTube, and to announce that cassette orders have gone live this very moment – so now all may bear witness to this perilous but surprisingly luminous journey towards total darkness.
‘The Rise of the Godless Tyrant’ ascends from the depths, ringing synth flanking a ponderous cadence with such apparent inevitability that this entity almost seems to rather descend from above as a veil of wondrous, exquisite, potent dread upon the psyche. Initially, all appears to be chaos; a writhing cyclone of dense noise, frenzied hammering and ragged, buried shrieks just as ‘Lightning Scars Across A Dead Planet’, ravaged by apocalyptic hurricanes. Yet there is a settling into distortion and synth; layered echoes of torturous voice… and when that storm returns the bedlam has been focused into a more direct and tangible malevolence, tinged with eerie ambience. The ‘Holy War of the Lesser Light’ ensues, commencing with a belligerent, galloping audacity which carries both a raw, scathing hostility and a tyrannical grandiosity. A suffocating murk snuffs this momentum, slowly replacing air as the listener is beckoned ‘Beyond The Spectral Veil’, gently tugged and coaxed with ebbs of blackened waves in slow motion… peaceful in rest, serene in death but never really dead.
‘Come And See’, the ominous choirs drone; dully glimmering synth hovering above whispers of a poisonous breath. Consumed with anxious riffs we find ‘Watching The Passing Of Time As Light Leaving The Body’, straightforward blasting soon alternating with now welcome headlong punkish insensitivity as agonizing guitar progression and desperate vocals assail; before fading into a cold, void-like outro, haunted with apparitional winds. The oppressive and impetuous rage of closing track “Eternal Black Transmissions” progressively sorts itself out, the initial cacophony fading into familiar shimmers of ambience before returning in epic state, growing in presence until it spills over the threshold into an almost delirious beauty, entrancing and horrific.
Stepping back to breathe and looking at Eternal Black Transmissions generally, one should not be tempted to write the album off as simply another raw black metal offering. It IS raw, but there are a number of elements present which accentuate its depth and result in an uncommon dynamism. There is a combination of ‘temperatures’ and present, with the rhythm section providing a warmer, heavier, contrast to the colder, harsher vocals and guitar, with the synth somewhere in between. Ambience gives a distinct supernatural chill, as does the echoed, icy voice which would almost certainly be overbearing with abrasiveness if it were not so submerged in the mix. The percussion, utilizing aforementioned galloping styles reminiscent of hardcore punk or speed metal, provides discernible intermittent groove which helps carry some downright catchy riffs. Perhaps most effective are the song progressions themselves, which tend to start with havoc and use ambience to transition into more melodic, epic territory.
Altogether, Eternal Black Transmissions is a mysterious, ghastly, multidimensional plunge into recesses that are not entirely known… but I wanted to know more. So, I somewhat spontaneously connected with the artist behind this terrifying and brilliant endeavor, known only as No One, in order to try to grasp some illumination in the darkness of THE SUNS JOURNEY THROUGH THE NIGHT. Read on.
Good morning, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me.
No One: Good morning, you’re welcome.
I don’t often listen to very much “raw” black metal, but I am struck by what you have achieved with THE SUNS JOURNEY THROUGH THE NIGHT. Perhaps it is my ignorance of the subgenre, but my intuition is that there is an almost immeasurable depth to what is being expressed with Eternal Black Transmissions. What has compelled you along this artistic path?
– I tend to use the term “raw black metal” quite loosely, it refers more to my production style than my writing style, which actually bounces around many different styles. The first demo I wrote was slow, doomy funeral style black metal, then eventually I began speeding my songs up and creating a more dynamic sonic landscape. Eternal Black Transmissions is the realisation of a style of writing that I’ve been moving towards for a long time, it feels like I’ve found the sound I’d like to stick to, albeit loosely, as I will always allow the sound of the project to evolve.
When was the album written, and in what context?
– The album was written during the pandemic of 2020, across two weeks within the UK’s lockdown. Isolation has been a great motivator for this side of my creative output.
Do you feel that the social / public health situation has contributed to the particular sound of the album, or was this sound already somewhat established?
– The sound was already there, it’s something I’ve wanted to write for some time. But it was the current world climate that helped me to actualize it.
Which projects or artists do you currently enjoy, both musically and otherwise? Do you consider anything to be particularly influential to what you are creating with THE SUNS JOURNEY THROUGH THE NIGHT?
– There are some brilliant artists creating at the moment, I’ve been in a lot of other music “scenes” and none are as exciting as the underground black metal scene. Revenant Marquis is currently on heavy rotation for me; that project is so strangely unique, there’s nothing else like it. As well as other British exports: Crimson Throne, Abduction, Andracca and the brilliant From The Bogs of Aughiska, who are easily one of my favourite black metal artists. I’m also listening to a lot of Paysage D’hiver, whose new album I recently pre-ordered, and also some brilliant Canadian exports such as Nocturnal Departure and Hellmoon. In terms of influence, I’d say Paysage D’hiver has had the biggest influence in terms of black metal artists. Wintherr has such a handle on creating atmosphere, he can write these beautiful, sprawling soundscapes that can shift without you even realising it. Another key influence for my work is Godspeed You! Black Emperor, not black metal but they are another artist who are able to create music that draws you in and almost hypnotises you in to sticking with them to the end.
What is the overall concept or theme of Eternal Black Transmissions?
– Eternal Black Transmissions is written from the point of view of an entity which is circling a massive black hole, the final thoughts of a being that is plummeting towards an endless nothingness. Time slowing all the while, and gravity beginning to pull the being apart, the album moves from defiance and panic in the face of the universe’s darkest mystery, to a slow realisation that there is no use in fighting it. The being begins to contemplate all around it, watching light, space, and time bend to the will of this monolithic presence. The final track is the being’s final message before entering the black hole, before everything goes silent, and dark.
I’m curious about the nature of this entity. Do you conceive of it, and the event of moving towards inevitable nonexistence, as a thing that is external ‘in the world’, like a social or cultural phenomenon, such as humanity heading towards extinction? Or is it referring to something more psychological?
– I don’t like to go too deep into the motivations behind my lyrics and their themes, up until now I hadn’t even shared my lyrics. I prefer for the listener to listen to the song or read the song title and put their own meaning on it. So, I won’t say much more about it other than it is a story of uncertainty and losing control, before finally kneeling before nature and the universe, and the final realisation of knowing your place amongst it. If people find a way of making that apply to the current world events, then so be it.
What is on the horizon for Eternal Black Transmissions? You have some merch being produced if I am not mistaken?
– I’m currently working with a friend on a new piece of merch. It is not my aim to make money from this project, so I’ve only ever made one t-shirt in the past which I sell at cost. It is my aim however to spread the message of the project as far as I can, as well as give the supporters of TSJTTN, certain items that they ask for from me. For instance, I have been asked a lot about releasing a vinyl for Eternal Black Transmissions, so I am now in talks about that happening.
I would certainly be interested in that! Finally, what do you anticipate the future will be for THE SUNS JOURNEY THROUGH THE NIGHT? It sounds like you wrote, recorded, and produced Eternal Black Transmissions very rapidly. Will you allow this album time to breath or will there be more on the way in short order?
– New releases beyond Eternal Black Transmissions are already in the works. I have a couple of splits lined up with some great projects.
Do you have any concluding thoughts that you would like to express for fans or new listeners who happen across Eternal Black Transmissions?
– Yes, by supporting black metal you are supporting the counterculture, the raging war against mediocrity and normality that we, in our own way fight each day. Thank you for listening to mine and others’ music, as well as purchasing it when you are able. Eternal Black Transmissions will be out soon on a very limited cassette via Repose Records. Follow the Bandcamp to avoid disappointment.
Thanks again. May thy will be done.
Eternal Black Transmissions is available now via Repose Records.
Purchase Eternal Black Transmissions on cassette from the Repose Records webstore HERE, or digitally and on cassette from Bandcamp HERE.
Cernunnos, the Horned one Aradia, my lady of the Moon Be present I pray thee As my will, so mote it be
If you’re a relative newcomer to the black metal “scene”, you might not yet have had the pleasure of experiencing the longtime Turkish black metal institution that is PAGAN. Forged in the flames of 1995, their auspicious first release Rehearsal Tape ’96 was the third black metal demo ever released in Turkey, causing a storm that they then backed up two years later with the stunning Heathen Upheaval demo, making waves around the globe. It would be almost ten full years later when they finally released their next material, their debut full-length OZ : In Transcendence… after which they promptly disappeared into the shadows, never to be heard from again.
Until now, that is. Thanks to a fortuitous call up from an underground ‘zine they’ve ascended from the depths of darkness to cause an upheaval once again and are releasing a recording of their first rehearsal together in aeons; fittingly entitled Rehearsal Tape ’19, which we are extremely proud to be partnering with Saturnal Recordsto present in full today ahead of its May 29th release date.
Featuring material from all of their prior releases, these classic songs are bestowed all new power thanks to the modern recording techniques – and the sheer electricity that flows through the band. You can feel the black energy in the room as the quartet of Talciron, Noctivagus, War and newcomer Anker blaze through these songs like men possessed, clearly feeding off each other and calling forth a magic not felt for all too long… it’s the perfect introduction for those who may not be familiar with these classic tracks, and pure ecstasy for longtime fans of the band who will surely be rabid to hear the sparks of PAGAN flying from their speakers once again.
In even better news, this rehearsal tape will serve as a precursor to new material – but I’ll leave founder and guitarist/throatsman Talciron to tell you all about that, as we have been privileged to score a chat with the man himself about the past, present and future of the band. So let the lost temples rise again, hear the marching of the hordes anew… for PAGAN has returned!
Greetings Pagan, sincerest thanks for speaking to us today for the full-stream of your first returning release back from extended hiatus, Rehearsal Tape ’19. The last time we heard from Pagan, you left us on such a great note with 2007’s OZ : In Transcendence, a fantastic album – after which we did not hear from you for thirteen long years. What were the circumstances that led to such a lengthy break, and what have you all been up to in the time since OZ : In Transcendence?
Talciron: Actually, we’ve recorded most parts of OZ: In Transcendence by 2001 in Turkey. After 2002 though, both me and Noctivagus settled outside of Turkey and were busy with starting a new life abroad, so we had to give a hiatus to the band. In 2007 though, I managed to visit Noctivagus in the US for about 3 weeks, and there we gave the finishing touches to the album. From 2007 to 2019 Noctivagus was doing his other project, Gökböri (which is really awesome by the way) and I was just cooling off trying other things. I played bass for a long while, played jam sessions etc, so I was not totally parted away from music, but just was not in the mood for creation. All of this changed with Baron Çağlan’s (RIP) call for ‘Laneth bir gece 3’.
Yes, the Pagan hiatus then finally ended in 2019, when you were called up to play a show organised by the legendary underground ‘zine Laneth. How did this all happen, and what were your first thoughts when asked to play the show? Did you have any doubts that this was the right time for Pagan to return?
Talciron: Hahaha! This is a tricky question. Honestly speaking, I was not totally sure we could do it when we first received the offer. It had been a very long time since we played together. We immediately did some urgent Skype calls with Noctivagus to practise the songs and remember them. After we were confident that we could do it, we confirmed with Anker & War, and we gave ok to the show.
In the lead up to that auspicious show, you recorded your rehearsal – which is what we are streaming here today, Rehearsal Tape ’19. The tape features the full line up from your classic release Heathen Upheaval… and the last time you all played together was twenty years ago! It’s a great selection of old material, too – ‘Elenyr’ is pulled from Rehearsal Tape ’96; ‘The Longing and The Ancient Ones’, ‘Shamanic Flames’, ‘Marching Of The Hordes’ and ‘The Ascending’ are all from the classic Heathen Upheaval, while ‘The Wyrmweaver’ and ‘The Quest Of The Chronomancer’ are then from your last recorded work, Oz : In Transcendence. What was it like all getting together in the same room and playing these songs again after all this time had passed? Was it immediately apparent that the same magic was still there?
Talciron: Yes. The magic was immediately apparent. We booked the studio for a week to rehearse, but after the first day I got the feeling we could go up the next day 🙂 Actually, we were not planning to release this. We were not even planning to record it. It was studio owner Erhan the Brewmeister’s idea; he just wanted to record it the last day, so we said why not? Later on we found it was actually good for a release, so we initially released it on Bandcamp.
Following that, what was the show like? Was it great to be back on stage?
Talciron: It sure was. I think this was one of our most packed shows, and aside from that, you could see the anticipation in people’s eyes 🙂 They were really hungry and waiting for it, it has been such a long time, which made this a very special show for us!
I believe the title of the demo is a throwback to your first demo, Rehearsal Tape ’96… but the cover art also seems to be too! Similar colors and a forest scene. Surely this was intentional?
Talciron: Yes, nice catch 🙂 It is a throwback to ‘Rehearsal Tape 96’. Actually I think it came about with the cover art. It is a picture taken by our drummer War in Eskişehir I think. He came with the cover, and we thought this would be great for a new ‘Rehearsal Tape’.
Rehearsal Tape ’19 was originally digital only and released on Bandcamp, but it has now been picked up by the great Saturnal Records for a CD release. How did this come about? I hear they might be releasing a remastered version of Heathen Upheaval soon too, when is that happening?
Talciron: Originally we were not planning to release ‘Rehearsal Tape 19’ as a CD release. But Saturnal Records were courting us for an album release, and in the end we agreed on a contract which encompasses three records, which was really cool. As for the Heathen Upheaval Remastered I believe it was scheduled by end of 2020, but with the Corona situation I am not sure if this is still valid.
The sound of this rehearsal is intriguing – tracks like ‘The Wyrmweaver’ are absolutely huge in comparison to the original production and it works very well, giving an all-new power and feel to the songs. What were your thoughts when hearing the old material sounding like this?
Talciron: Yes. Actually, my honest feeling is that the sound in OZ… didn’t give justice to these songs, as it came about a little weaker than we intended. So I believe this record will be a good chance for our audience to rediscover these songs.
I believe that as we speak you are working on a new Pagan album, which is incredible news. How is that all going? What is the material sounding like so far, and when will we hope to hear it?
Talciron: New songs are going great! This year in January, just before the Corona virus outbreak, we managed to slip by Istanbul and rehearsed together for a week on the new material. I think we are halfway there, and hopefully by 2021 they should be ready. Then we need to proceed to recording, but I am not sure exactly how long this would take. Noctivagus has come up with really cool riffs for the new stuff and I think potentially it will be our best release when we complete it! I am really stoked on the new stuff!
Pagan has the honour of being known as one of Turkey’s oldest and longest running black metal bands. How do you feel about holding such status these days? Do you feel the Turkish black metal scene has developed well since times of old?
Talciron: It is indeed a great honour. When we wrote our first songs in 1995, we didn’t think it would be revered and held to such high regard by our fans for 25 years. We were never about being first, or being appreciated. We just wanted to make good music, and deliver the message of Black Metal in our country. Turkey, since 1995, indeed has changed in a lot of ways, some for the good, some for the bad. There are a lot of good acts coming out, especially from Kadıköy, which we are also a part of. Persecutory, Diabolizer, Sarinvomit, Alzheir, Hellsodomy are to be watched out for. There are a lot of venues now, which are open to Black/Death metal shows, which was not a thing in our time. It has also become a lot easier to record and release new stuff, which is also a good thing.
And finally – now that all this time has passed, what is the way forward for Pagan? Does the same fire still burn as it did in 1995? Are you still inspired by all the same things, and will you write about the same topics?
Talciron: For me, Black Metal has been a call to arms, a rebellion against the established religions, and their dogmas which has held human civilization back for centuries. We’ve come a long way; their hold seems to be weakening, but still we have a way to go. Pagan will go on as long as there are people still being poisoned by their ideologies.
Once again, my gratitude for your time and words today. The rehearsal tape is great and I’m looking forward to new Pagan material as well! Any final words or wisdom you would like to leave us with?
Talciron: Stay True! Stay Safe!
Rehearsal Tape ’19 releases May 29th via Saturnal Records.
Pre-order Rehearsal Tape ’19 on CD from the Saturnal Records webstore HERE.
Ever heard the name Marcos Martins? If you haven’t, you should – the man has put his name to some of the finest work in underground Portuguese black metal and beyond. With names like Tod Huetet Uebel and Vaee Solis behind him and many more like Devil Worshipper and Torpe ahead, his impassioned and disturbing vocal performances in particular are always memorable – the way he approaches his work is true art. Now, it’s time to add another one to the list: avant-garde entity PALIMPSEST.
Based in death metal, debut EP Thro’ and under, I have drunk of the fountains, where jokulls loom is not what we would usually hear from Marcos, but the gibbering, mind-warping leviathan horrors thrashing within these four short emanations is the perfect match for his madness. Together with kindred NZ spirit RM a brief yet impossibly powerful vortex is created, barely over five minutes long but with enough vacuum to create a tear in the very fabric of our universe itself and let in unspeakable, incomprehensible terrors from beyond. Crazed dissonant blades swirl frantically, slashing at the tethers of your sanity until it threatens to be ripped into the gaping abyssal maw… then before you know it, it’s over; leaving you breathless, wondering what the fuck just happened, and desperately wanting more.
Indeed, something so death metal aligned is also not what we would usually cover here at BMD, but the very nature of the project sits nestled in close enough proximity to black metal to exude a darkness that will be more than familiar and enjoyable to our readers. Plus, it’s a fucking incredible EP that everyone should hear – so when the opportunity fortuitously presented itself to have an in-depth discussion with Marcos himself about it, naturally we jumped at the chance. We even managed to sneak in a few quick questions about all his other projects, too. So read on below, open the void… Palimpsest is here.
Greetings Marcos! It’s a pleasure to speak with you today, I hope you are well. Now, you’ve recently put your name to a rather intense release, alongside an enigmatic being known only as RM: Palimpsest‘s Thro’ and under, I have drunk of the fountains, where jokulls loom, which I can only describe as some seriously warped experimental death magic. I have a million questions, but I’m going to start with the most obvious: are you both utterly insane? What on earth inspired this release, and your performances on it?
– A shared feeling between RM and I is that this project is about exploring the dark corners of cosmic awe and what to some would be summed up as “horror”, through more perceptible earthly mediums – sounds, rhythmic sequences and imagery that attempt to somewhat resonate with the innermost primal instinct. Having a unified, yet varied approach to painting a tiny fraction of something indescribable, yet present, for both of us, is the backbone of this release; and future endeavors to be unleashed.
Whilst you are already known for your excellent work in your previous and current musical expressions (which I will ask about later!), Palimpsest is something outside of your usual wheelhouse, to say the least. How did you come to be involved with the project?
– I’m always looking forward to collaborate on new art; hence I’m usually attentive to like-minded individuals that are looking forward to work on something meaningful. For me Palimpsest is quite close to the type of work that I would normally be involved with, but I would assume by your question, that you are referring to the fact that this release isn’t as easily associated with the “black metal” tag as some of the work I’ve shared in the past.
Material that would seemingly fit a more “death-metal” oriented tag (as others) is part of the spectrum of topics, feelings and primeval instincts that fester in every being, which is something I usually approach through my work. Given my usual stance of drifting on a sea of creative minds to find like minded individuals, I came across RM – our ideas flowed naturally and everything was weaved together in a tight knit, after all – “mīlle viae dūcunt hominēs per saecula Rōmam”
The title and track names are particularly fascinating; quite poetic and almost like they are spoken in an archaic form of the English language. What does it all mean? Were they lifted from any literature, or did you pen all the lyrics and titles yourself?
– Usually I use a mix of content that I pen myself, along with quotes and references from other writers to convey a frame to the deeper purpose of the meaning of the work at hand (what better way to sow ideas, if not through familiar concepts? these references serve the purpose of what one could consider a plot device/mechanism in a broader narrative); some are more metaphorical and allegorical in nature, others more poetic.
For this particular release, I decided that passages from the poem “Nemesis” by H.P. Lovecraft would be suitable and appropriate. The 4 track titles form a short stanza using phrases from the lyrics (first track title is the first phrase in the first track, second track title is the second phrase of the second lyric and so on); the whole purpose of this adaptation was to sort of lay the initial colors on a canvas for the future; this “aesthetic” also fits together with the artwork (inked by Jodie McLay, transfiguring to perfection the awe and “horror” we manifest) and the name of the project itself “Palimpsest” (The word “palimpsest” derives from the Latin palimpsestus, which derives from the Ancient Greek παλίμψηστος (palímpsēstos, “again scraped”), a compound word that literally means “scraped clean and ready to be used again). In the future of the project, the lyrics will again be a mix of quotes & references, along with my own penmanship, now that an initial frame of reference is set, one can further dabble in psychography, laying words upon the shifting sands.
Another intriguing element is the dialogue samples. I can’t quite make out exactly what is happening, but it sounds extraordinarily disturbing. Could you tell us a little about this?
– These go hand-in-hand with the remaining purpose and dialect of our labor; hence it is up to each individual to grasp whatever they feel it conveys to them.
The EP is remarkably short – the listener is left at the end wondering what exactly it was that they just heard. Will there be more Palimpsest? If so, will you stick to shorter song/release lengths, or are you considering a full-length assault of this madness?
– Some of the best human experiences are those that leave one wondering what just happened – they fester the need for more and become the vial one drinks from sip upon sip, getting inevitably inebriated without conscious awareness.
The release we are currently working on, will lengthwise fit the definition of a full-length.
Have you had any label interest to date? Is there likely to be any physical copies of Thro’ and under, I have drunk of the fountains, where jokulls loom available in future? It would make a great 7″, in my opinion…
– The future is as “unto the ages of ages”, uncertain; but so far we have received quite a positive feedback from our labor, hence it is up to causality.
Now, while I’ve got you I’d like to also take the opportunity to ask about some of your other work, if you don’t mind! You recently began a new project entitled TORPE, released a killer single ‘Ardo, Perpétuo, Maligno’– and I believe we will soon be seeing the debut album! So tell us: what is Torpe, how and why did it form, and what can we expect from the debut album?
– “Torpe” – it is a Portuguese adjective that encompasses several meanings – “depraved; insulting morality: unworthy, loathsome; that causes disgust; that is disgusting, tainted”, so this may convey a sound initial tact to approach the concept of the ordeal, even more so when the name is considered along the title of the aforementioned single track (“I burn, perpetual, malignant”); this is but verbal representation of the first step on the Penrose stairway, a boundary on the further reaches of human experience and expression, it inherently limits and bounds what humankind tries to understand when addressing the unnamed god or Nomen Nescio, the deus ignotus.
The aforementioned first release (an EP) is mostly recorded. There is also material written for a follow-up full-length release, which will feature artwork from the master Néstor Avalos.
TOD HUETET UEBELwas one of my favourite projects, but what has been happening with it lately is confusing. I originally thought the band had split, was no more – but then last year a new THU album surfaced with yourself on vocals, entitled Nomen Nescio. I know you’ve explained this elsewhere and may be sick of repeating yourself so I apologize in advance, but for those who may not know, could you shed some light on exactly what went on there?
– Well, the project split for a number of reasons that are better left in the past (this was always the explanation, there really isn’t much else to be said that wouldn’t be anything but petty gossip).
Regardless, the album itself was fully recorded by the time the project had ceased (given I had decided to part ways with the project in a definitive way) and Daniel wished to release something instead of keeping what he did tucked away; as a result he made a proposal which I agreed to; although I didn’t know what exact iteration of the album would be released until it actually happened.
Since I’ve been asked about NN a couple of times, I think I can give some context to what was released, starting with my only statement so far about this work, even before it was released:
“If this is a brilliant album, it will be because of him. If it is the opposite, it is also due to him.”
This phrase was uttered with the utmost sincerity and respect I have for Daniel and his work and willingness to collaborate with me; even more so since I personally hardly consider this release among part of my work. Any praise and positive feedback the album could receive wouldn’t be due to my own diligence; and the very same is to be said if this was the worst and most unoriginal thing THU ever released during my time with the project.
The album in the released iteration features vocals from Daniel mixed in with some of my own, I only became acquainted with the current manifestation of the album when someone told me it had been uploaded to Bandcamp.
Since there seems to be some curiosity on if NN would be different from my perspective I suppose I could share some insight, since it is nothing more than than food for thought.
The artwork was originally going to be handled by the extravagant and highly talented Maxime Taccardi, who did the art for our EP N.A.D.A. – Maxime and I were very much in sync with the ideas I had for the artwork prior to my departure and I can only say that I am saddened by not having these materialized; I can only assume there was no further interaction with Maxime once I had notified him of leaving the project.
Regarding material that wasn’t used or explored on NN since I left – Most of what I recorded wasn’t really used, or was modified; my original interpretation consisted heavily on an approach rooted in Sprechgesang – it was a very emotive and theatrical performance, as personally I felt these were some of the most heartfelt lyrics I had committed to this project, I attempted to convey some of that intensity to the performance; there were also sections where I had recorded myself humming melodies too; all in all, the vocal approach was something that would be considered very experimental and I was very proud of what I had done, unfortunately none of this is reflected or kept on what was released. We were going to have a guest invited to participate with some guitar solos too, I’m not aware why this wasn’t included or what happened on this topic. I also proposed some piano sections (and did actually record a few), none of this was ever used and was completely discarded. Personally hearing to what was actually released, feels rather odd – it is as if the very ground we were sowing was salted.
As I said in the past, and that remains true – “If this is a brilliant album, it is because of him. If it is the opposite, it is also due to him.”
Oddly enough, Metal Archives lists you as returning THU vocalist with no end date, “2019-?”. Is there any chance of you reuniting with Daniel to continue THU in future?
– That listing exists given that I had left the project once and was convinced to join again… deciding to leave a second time before the album was released.
In spite of what happened with THU, there is something we did agree upon – that we both would refrain from any musical collaboration in the future.
Another entity you are involved in that in my opinion doesn’t get anywhere near as much attention as it should is the incredible VAEE SOLIS, in which you play guitar. What is the status of this project, will we be hearing more from it anytime soon?
– Metal-Archives is outdated as I am no longer a part of the project. I’m not up-to-date on the current state of affairs with VS. I had written some material for a second release, and I know they were working on some new material as well a while ago but I’m not sure on how things are progressing. I do expect great things from every single one of them – they are a really creative and driven group of people that I am very proud to have collaborated with, and hopefully we will hear more from Vaee Solis in the future.
Which then brings us to DEVIL WORSHIPPER, your collaboration with Matron Thorn of Ævangelist and Erethe of Vaee Solis. What’s happening with Devil Worshipper? And aside from all that, what else do you have in the works?
– Devil Worshipper recorded their second album last year titled Eternally Yours, it is fully mixed and mastered. I feel that it is a much more refined and mature venture than what we accomplished with Music for the Endtimes and this is a feeling that is shared between our triarchy; we’re all very proud of what we have accomplished together on this release, that is 2 minutes short of an hour. We are working on sorting out an exact date for the release, but you should expect Eternally Yours to be available this year through I, Voidhanger Records. I would also take this opportunity to announce that henceforth the project will continue under the name HEX ARCANA, know that we have also commenced our work on the material that will follow the second opus.
In the meanwhile I have been venturing on several fronts, and I suppose now would be a good time as any to mention a few of these names:
LABOR OF THE NEGATIVE – the first full-length is already concluded and in the mixing/mastering process – featuring members whose work you may be acquainted with from different projects such as Decoherence, Pensées Nocturnes and Posthum.
INFANTS OF THE AFTERLIFE – in league with one my accomplices in Labor of the Negative; we have our first full-length ready, and are looking forward to wrap a few minor details to assess how soon we can unleash our first work upon the world.
THROAT OF THE MAD KING – a solo venture that will be… quite different; heavily inspired by the piece “Eight Songs for a Mad King” by Peter Maxwell Davies and several conversations I had with Luciano (I, Voidhanger Records), whom I have to thank as the driver for the creation of this project.
I’m also very happy to have had the privilege of collaborating with some other masters of their craft as a guest on material that is yet to be released, and some other ventures that are being arranged – expect further news.
Now, to finish this interview I’d like to get a little more personal, if I may. What were your first steps into the world of music, and what path did you take that would eventually lead you to the more extreme side of the arts?
– Starting on a perhaps more relatable tone – Pink Floyd, The Doors and Dire Straits records were spinned at home by my father ever since I can remember, this probably made a lot of the foundations for a defining moment in my musical path; moving to another town and getting to meet my older cousin. I was around 7/8 years old when he gifted me 3 vinyls that I still have in my possession – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and Killers by Iron Maiden, and Dr. Feelgood by Mötley Crüe, he also got me into stuff such as Slayer, Metallica and Napalm Death.
A few years later, I got acquainted with another cousin that moved in with my family for a few months, who was curiously also into metal – she introduced me to stuff such as Kataklysm, Sepultura, Marilyn Manson and Cannibal Corpse… Eventually since I was introduced to this spectrum of music so early, I got acquainted with Black Metal dabbling by my own volition trying to find a musical expression that would resonate the most with me on a deeper, more intimate level.
Other than that, for a number of different reasons I ended up being captured by what would be considered part of the more “extreme side of the arts”, by becoming fascinated by works regurgitated from Cabaret Voltaire and the Dada movement, along with the performance art from the likes of Marina Abramović and Hermann Nitsch; literature that span from Sade and Baudellaire to Bataille and Sartre, to literature from Portuguese authors such as Fernando Pessoa and Raul Brandão; music birthed upon the world by entities, from Diamanda Galás to Karlheinz Stockhausen and Arnold Schoenberg, from Death Grips to György Ligeti and Deathspell Omega to Wojciech Kilar and Iannis Xenakis. These names might convey a narrow window to the diorama of my musical landscape.
Here’s something I only recently learnt – you were also a writer for the Shrine Of Mad Laughter review site. I’ve read a few reviews on there, and they were quite considered and insightful. How much did you contribute to the site? Is this something you will continue doing in future?
– Well, actually if you are referring to https://shrineofmadlaughter.blogspot.com/, all currently available articles/reviews were written by me. Originally the blog was going to be a collaboration with different people participating, but it never took off… About a year or two ago I made an attempt at getting back to writing, but I didn’t move forward since I was lacking a meaningful medium for this and an actual drive since these “reviews” which act as a sort of mental exercise and reflection on music would require more than a trivial approach… I’m open to suggestions if someone reading this would like to do something meaningful.
And finally, something you may or may not enjoy talking about – your incredible and unique approach to extreme vocals. How on earth did you develop your vocal stylings and the way you tackle each performance? Did you have any particular vocalists you admired or were influenced by when you were starting out?
– Well, you just made me think about something that I never gave a solid consideration to. I guess that given the aforementioned early introduction to the more extreme spectrums of music, I suppose my “vocal development” started when I did what most young children do – I attempted to mimic what I heard. In a broader sense, the older I got the more I’d listen to a lot of stuff outside of metal too, and that kept pushing the “experimentation” further, as a sort of means to an end. The way I see things is – the more one becomes acquainted and accustomed with a language, the more elaborate the terms, phrases and metaphors used to convey one’s ideas will become, this is the same with other forms of expression – such as singing.
I’m always striving for a struggle and challenge, hence I’m always trying to approach things I’ve never attempted before, and push my own boundaries. I’ve studied music for a few years (as an adult), and as a result was part of the choir of the academy, which further helped cementing some vocal techniques and concepts, which also helped.
When I was starting out, I suppose some of the earlier vocal performances I heard that stuck with me, to name a few, were those of – Dani Filth, RMS Hreidmarr, Chris Barnes, Dead, Attila Csihar, Garm and Legion; each for very different reasons.
Later, there were other names that I became acquainted with, sometimes because someone that was acquainted with some of the things I did would tell me that I sounded like and/or had ideas that were similar with something they heard from “x,y,z”. From here I became introduced with names that would supply me not only with a great wealth of inspiration but also with the certainty that there were still those pushing the boundaries of what one can achieve in their craft; names such as Mike Patton, Philippe Jaroussky, Barbara Hannigan, Anna Varney, Mr. Doctor and Rainer Landfermann, again each of them for a number of different reasons.
And that’s it. Sincerest thanks for taking the time to speak to us Marcos, it has been a true pleasure and I’m looking forward to more of your work, as always. Any final words or wisdom you’d like to leave us with?
– May we all continue to live in ever more interesting times.
Thro’ and under, I have drunk of the fountains, where jokulls loom is available now.
Purchase Thro’ and under, I have drunk of the fountains, where jokulls loom digitally from Bandcamp HERE.
Romanticism was an artistic, philosophical, and cultural movement which arose during the 1800’s and held genuine emotional expression as the pinnacle of artistic authenticity. With motifs centered around individualism, the past and nature, Romanticism eschewed arbitrary rules and expectations and valued above all the undiluted, unique, liberated, creative representation of the artist’s feeling or passion. With this in mind, it is easy to comprehend how Tome: 1, the debut album from Chicago’s DISMALIMERENCE, can and should be considered romantic in the most technical sense. For Tome: 1 is not just an emotional piece… from the lush melancholic atmosphere, to the lyrics which revolve around recurring themes of devotion, loss, nostalgia, pain, sorrow, and suicide, it is indeed saturated in emotion.
Written and recorded by songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, lyricist and vocalist Elijah Cirricione (assisted by Craig Hamburger on bass, Joey Casillas on drums, and Nicholas Coughenour on guitar), the album is a beautiful and haunting account of memory and dysphoria, frequently rooting sorrow and reminiscence in natural metaphors such as the moon, lakes, rivers, gardens and wind. Furthermore, although Tome: 1 generally has black metal as its foundation, it sits on the fringes and defies many expectations of the genre so a succinct description of its timbre is not easy to pin down when looking for specifics. Musically DISMALIMERENCE proves to be a harmonious mix between the naturalist tendencies of Cascadian black metal, the warmly radiating melodicism of atmospheric post-black, and the raw emotional content and impact of DSBM.
The production is crystalline and expansive with all instruments audible and given plenty of breathing room, soaring guitar lead and rasping vocals taking center stage over full bass and driving percussion, accentuated by synth. The listener is presented with a near perfect balance of musical aggression and tenderness as meandering, pensive, sometimes apprehensive sensitivity repeatedly succumbs to distorted anguish and/or rage and vice versa. Even this description is not adequate, however, as the album also includes an array of interesting additions such as piano progressions (‘Crimson Glow’ and ‘Vale Armor’), acoustic guitar (‘Destined for Solitude’), harps, choirs, and other synth (‘Crimson Glow’, ‘Pragma’, ‘Vale Armor’), surprisingly seamless and effective moments of powerful metalcore-esque breakdowns (try the middle and end of ‘Crimson Glow’ and 90 seconds in on ‘My Only Love’), and guitar solos that come delightfully close to progressive rock psychedelia (‘Orchid’s Reverie’ has a good example of that).
But enough of this outside analysis. As German Romantic painter Casper David Friedrich summarized, it is not the ruminations of the observer who determines the characteristics of art; “the artist’s feeling is his law.” Thus, it is with good fortune that I was able to correspond with Mr. Cirricione to get his own, essential thoughts on DISMALIMERENCE’s firstborn opus… read on.
Hello, and thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me. Although I would like to pretty quickly try to tread into deeper waters, I feel like it is expected of me to at least initially ask some more typical questions. How are you feeling about the upcoming release of Tome: 1?! I noticed that you wrote many of these tracks between 2011 and 2014 so it seems that this has been a long time coming!
– I’m feeling extremely excited about this release, especially because it took so long to make happen. But I’m happy that it’s happening now instead of even later. With these songs being fairly old for me, it feels like a weight off of my shoulders.
Congratulations on your contract with Transcending Records. This has been and will continue to be a fruitful relationship for DISMALIMERENCE I hope?
– Thank you. These are the best people to be involved with. I love these guys and everything they have done for artists over the years. I already had a relationship with them a few years ago, so this really fell into place nicely.
Something that stands out for me particularly with this album is the fantastic songwriting and depth which is on display. It seems VERY mature for a debut album. Considering that there has been so much time that has elapsed since these tracks were initially written, have they undergone a lot of revision and editing, or is what we are hearing now very similar to how they were initially formulated?
– Well thank you very much for that! With all the years just setting this album behind and other priorities pushing it back, I didn’t have much time to revisit the record. But the only things that have definitely changed was when I started including members to the band in 2018. My friends Joey Casillas, Nicholas Coughenour, and Craig Hamburger made their presence known on this album. Joey definitely put his feeling into this album and made the drums feel more natural and comfortable to the ear. The original drums I wrote were extremely overbearing and tech-death influenced. Nicholas left his impression with a few lead sections and added his own creative liberties to them. He can be heard on ‘Pragma’, ‘Negligence of the Forgotten’, and ‘Destined For Solitude’. Craig stuck close to what was written but I started to notice how wonderful his mind works when he was tracking all of his parts. Many things that he added to the album are things I never imagined would happen and I’m so happy with what he brought to the table. Other than what they brought to the table, this is a very close version of what I intended on.
After listening to the album all of the way through about a half-dozen times, and carefully reading the lyrics, I have to ask: are you doing okay? Or, to ask the question in another way: do you live the torment that this album depicts? Or, has this creation been a cathartic experience, allowing you to live a life that is happier than what is being expressed within Tome:1?
– Considering these lyrics are so old, I’m definitely not in the same headspace I was back when this was written. A lot of what was going on back then is too difficult to explain, because of so many moving pieces to my life back then. But I live with manic-depressive bipolar disorder and I use music to cope with the many things I can’t control. So, there are a lot of personal events and feelings I am communicating on this album.
One of the initial impressions that I got when listening to Tome: 1 and reading the lyrics was an alignment with Romanticism, particularly in that Romanticism elevates the authentic emotional component of art above all other elements. Clearly the lyrics are saturated in these themes, but I’m curious about how emotional energy plays into the writing, recording, and performing process for you.
– There is definitely a romantic and even overly dramatic sense with these lyrics. I would say that every aspect of my emotional energy goes into Dismalimerence. I only like to write when I feel that I need to. That’s something I’ve grown to love a lot. Years ago, I would force myself to write for the sake of productivity within many bands. But it didn’t feel genuine or pure. So, this band has always been a simple and honest expression for me. There’re moments when I wish I had material to dive into in a quick instance, but I’m continuously writing and recording new music for this band. With these songs being so old for me, there’s times in a live setting where it feels a little redundant, since I’ve changed so much over the years, but it’s also an incredibly gratifying feeling to be able to perform these songs.
Romanticism also values individualism and uniqueness of expression. Did you model your songwriting after any other bands or use music or other art to be a source of inspiration? Did you feel pressure to conform to any specific expectations? Do you consider the final product to be black metal, or do you feel it has somewhat transcended this sort of easy categorization?
– It’s really hard to say what it was that steered me into this, specifically. But I started listening to bands like Dimmu Borgir, Woods of Desolation, Opeth, and lots of other genres as well. But initially, my vocals really weren’t in the black metal category. At the time I was more efficient in lower toned and more mid-range. But I’ve never felt pressure to conform, so that’s why this music felt so freeing for me to pursue. I’d definitely say it’s in the black metal world. It’s not necessarily in the middle of the road for most black metal releases, but I’d say with the vocal style and many other aspects, it’s reflective of the black metal genre.
It is easy to see that relationships have heavily influenced the themes of the album, but there is also a more nuanced focus on nature, with natural phenomena being mentioned in almost every song, and (most obviously) the stunning cover art. How much impact does nature have on DISMALIMERENCE?
– Most definitely. It’s very cliché to say, but being surrounded in nature is beautiful to me, and it influences me to find a comfortable space to be in. I’d like to think there’s an untouched purity within the ideas of all-natural aspects in this world. Especially when it comes to this album, it’s definitely to help paint a picture of certain events in life, and give a larger look into some of my favorite places I’ve been too. It resonated well with me back then and always will now.
Was the cover art something that you picked or something that you designed, and what symbolism can we find here? Specifically, what is the meaning of the bloodied book in the foreground?
– I definitely have to mention that the album art was something I’ve struggled with for years to imagine. I’ve made a handful of versions myself and commissioned many artists over the years. But I’ve scrapped all of those till just late 2019. Aghy Purakusuma is the artist that did our album artwork and he made all of it come true. He took every idea I had seriously and applied his own style to it. I’m in love with how that turned out. The book and the figure are one in the same and it’s something that I’d really like to unfold and reveal in the next record that I have. But the overall idea is that this was an autobiographical piece and the figure is fading away.
I also noticed that the logo got an upgrade recently! Very nice, and it seems to fit the project perfectly. Who penned that one?
– Oh definitely! I figured that a new logo would be refreshing and a cleaner slate for the band and hopefully give it some more justice. Ranjan Kumar (Casus Artem) is the artist that created the new logo! He gave me a few different variations to work with and I really enjoy the ones with the sketched clouds above the logo.
My next question, ironically, was going to inquire about the title of the album suggesting that there will be multiple albums that continue on from the story of Tome: 1, but it sounds like that suspicion is confirmed! Feel free to elaborate on the overall progress, narrative, and plans for the immediate and/or distant future, but it’s also understandable if you don’t want to get too far ahead of the present moment.
– I can definitely share a few things! Before involving Matt Mifflin and Craig in the band, I was finishing up the third full length album as well. There are plenty of concepts I’ve explored within the next two records that are also relating to Tome: 1. Since Matt has joined the band, we’ve been on a writing spree, and I have full intention of pursuing this newest music before the other albums I’ve written beforehand. There’s just something very fresh and inviting about this new music we’ve done together. I’ve also just considered revisiting the other records I’ve written and possibly condense or rework a lot of the material for the time being. As far as plans go, I want to finish a single for a split album we’ve been involved in since last summer. Other than that, I’d love to get back to playing out with the band and meeting new people again. I can see us beginning the recording stages for our second full length within a few more months as well.
Wow, that’s a ton of material you’ve got already! I know that Tome: 1 won’t be released until late June, but how are you feeling about finally having it out for the world to hear? How has the reception been for the first single ‘Negligence of the Forgotten’? I hope that preorders are doing well, I’ve certainly seen some reassuring chatter about that gold marble LP!
– In all honesty, I feel very anxious. Obviously, it has taken me a long time to make this finally happen, and for a while I felt like this album would fall on deaf ears or not carry the same weight that it does for me. For a few years it seemed like I was destined to never release this record. There were so many issues with recording, members, devastating personal matters, etc. I’m just so thankful it’s finally coming to fruition. With that in mind, the reception of ‘Negligence of the Forgotten’ left me speechless for the first day. I had no idea I’d receive so much love and so quickly. I’m so incredibly thankful for all of it and I hope this carries into the official album release. The pre-orders have been absolutely insane! I’m in awe with how many people from across the world ordered something on the first day. From what I’ve heard from Transcending, we’re absolutely killing it with the physical pre-orders! I know that the digital pre-orders have been fantastic too. I think that gold marble is a big reason why the vinyl sales are doing so well for us. I’m really excited to finally be able to hold this album in my hands.
So am I! Do you have any final thoughts or messages you would like to express?
– If anything, I’d just like to say thank you to anyone who reads through this conversation, and hopefully takes some time to check out the music. This has been such a journey already and the album isn’t even out yet, so I’m completely enamored by any and all support for Tome: 1. Thank you for providing me a wonderful list of questions that I could really get personal and in-depth with! I appreciate you listening to the album and giving me this opportunity to talk about it.
My pleasure, and thank you so much for allowing me the time and candor for this interview. Best of hopes for you and your creations! May thy will be done.
Tome 1 releases June 26th via Transcending Records.
Pre-order Tome 1 digitally from the Dismalimerence Bandcamp HERE, or on LP and CD from the Transcending Records webstore HERE.
In recent years, as astute followers of the path may have noticed, there’s been a certain strain of raw black metal spreading across the globe; the beating heart of which seemingly localised to the darkened shores of Portugal.
Oh yes, you’ll know it when you hear it. It’s the unmistakable sound of rural terror; ancient spirits from beyond called to run wild in this realm once more. Names like The Aldebaran Circle, Portugese Black Circle and more are fervent exponents of these particular summonings… but what we are exclusively and proudly premiering for you today is a brand new entity, unconnected with anything that has gone before.
Or is it? Rumours swirl that the mysterious ANCIENT BURIAL consists of members already well active in this fertile scene. Rumours will be rumours; regardless, debut album Beyond The Watchtowers stands as a nightmarish trip to rend your sanity in twain. Throughout seven violent emanations the listener is assailed through an onslaught of abrasive, clattering sound by howling spectres that swoop and claw, crawling your skin and freezing your flesh to the very core of your spine. It’s more than a ritual – rather closer in form to a demonic possession, as if the three figures creating this unholy cacophony have opened their bodies to raging and ravenous spectral entities, acting as conduit for malevolent otherworldly forces and frantically assaulting their instruments in crazed, frothing and dead-eyed bedevilment. There’s nothing quite like it and the resulting din offers precious little to cling to as you’re left spinning, grasping fruitlessly for any semblance of normality, lost in the maelstrom of ever-decaying insanity…
So today, if you dare, you may brave the entire harrowing experience before it fully materializes into corporeal form when Signal Rex issues these audial hallucinations as a 12″ LP on the auspicious date of May 1st – and if that’s not enough, we are also extremely privileged to present a brief discussion with one of the figures behind its creation. Read on and listen as the fabric of reality is torn, allowing these men to be possessed by things of realms beyond… the realms Beyond The Watchtowers.
Greetings, Ancient Burial. Thanks for speaking to us today for the full-stream of your excellent debut album, Beyond The Watchtowers. First, I’d like to ask about the title of the album itself, because I am intrigued: what are the “Watchtowers”, and how do they relate to the themes explored on the album?
– Hi! Great question to open this interview! So as you can guess we focus, as the band’s name suggests, in remembering past lives, wars and stories the world has gone through. Therefore the meaning of “watchtowers” is: we talk about military towers in medieval Europe that were raised as fortifications or castle towers to provide safety to a conquered land (for example the “Hadrian’s Wall” in Britain or the “Tower of Hercules” in Spain), and that’s the meaning we give it in this record… therefore we are the sentinels, the “watchtowers” glimpsing lands to protect and to conquer.
Your sound is incredible; you seem to almost literally summon or channel spirits with your mesmeric symphony of otherworldly corrosion. What inspired this approach, and how do you get into the necessary mindset to create these songs?
– Two of us were in the studio recording other stuff; later at the end as a suggestion from a close friend who was there, we collected some ideas and decided to change instruments. Then from a very flowing and spontaneous way Ancient Burial was built.
The final piece on the record, ‘Eclipse de Almas’ (“Eclipse of Souls”) is an intense conclusion to the album, moving through different stages of cataclysmic, hypnotic devastation – plus, it’s also the only Portuguese titled song. Can you tell us a little about the song and why it is the only piece intoned in your native language? Is there any special significance to this?
– We tend to do something in our mother tongue and we thought it would be better on that because we combine the lyrics with the music’s feelings, since that one is a kind of voidish embrace and catatonic possession.
Although clearly working within the realms of satanism, there is also a strong sorcerous vibration to the emanations of Ancient Burial. Does the occult play a big part in the workings of the band?
– Yes, and as I said Ancient Burial focuses on the past European middle ages and the occult bloody bizarre murder spirits and stories from this time.
The ritual-altar-esque cover art is incredibly symbolic, and also remarkably emblematic of the sound of the album itself. Who is the artist?
– The painting was done by one of the members from the band, actually by the vocalist and he’s a great artist. He has done many drawings and symbols for bands and also other types of drawings, by order or simply his artistic expression.
Although Ancient Burial is a new entity, It has been rumored that amongst your ranks are members of more well known Portuguese cults. So, I have to ask, and you can certainly deny me this request if you wish to maintain the veil of anonymity: who are the enigmatic beings behind Ancient Burial?
– There’s a photo in the artwork, therefore I think it’s enough… nothing at all against it but we’ve been around, mostly have been black metal fans since the early nineties and we see the nowadays scene is better focused on hair, clothes, phones, photos and short useless clips that even some live shows are a complete kind of social-media-bullshit, coffee-saturday-night-talk that the music completely moves to second plan…
We prefer to focus on our music and spirituality and take this seriously, names don’t matter at all but… hey! Maybe we could sell some more copies and torment some sick guys from this scene that only talk and are completely useless and do nothing!!!
We don’t fucking care.
And if we may dig a little further into your mystery, as I know it is frequent for underground Portuguese black metal acts to exist for quite some time before becoming known… when was Ancient Burial formed, and what is its purpose upon this earth?
– I don’t remember at all. But, I already answered about the purpose of Ancient Burial on the first and some other question back.
Later this year you will be playing at the great Invicta Reqviem Mass VI, curated by your label Signal Rex. What are your thoughts on this festival? Do you have any other live shows lined up?
– We’re not up to playing loads of live shows and prefer to choose what we think it has something to do with us, so we’re close to this fest since the beginning and think it’s a good decision to play there.
I know many Portuguese bands get asked this question, and with good reason – the Portuguese black metal scene is held in deservedly high regard, having almost become known in current times as the world nexus of true subterranean raw black metal. What are your thoughts on how Portuguese black metal has developed since the early days of Decayed demos and Moonspell‘s embryonic stirrings, and how it is now viewed across the globe at large?
– Portugal was never recognized as a ‘metal country’ at all, but we’ve always had something going on even if nothing came out here from outside countries… my fave Portuguese band from the ’90s is Summum Mallum!
I think nowdays we have a better structured scene and are more recognized beyond our doors.
And finally – will this be the last we hear from Ancient Burial? Are there more rites forthcoming?
– Yes, meanwhile we’ve finished 3 songs with almost 30 minutes and we are gradually finishing what will be our second full-length.
Sincerest thanks once again for your time, and the incredible Beyond The Watchtowers. I look forward to more. Any final statements?
– Thanks for your interest within the realms of Ancient Burial, you’ll certainly have more!
Beyond The Watchtowers releases 1st May via Signal Rex.
Pre-order Beyond The Watchtowers digitallyfrom Bandcamp HERE or on 12″ LP from the Signal Rex webstore HERE.
The familiar sound of amp buzz. A feedback squall tears to life, ominous 4/4 cymbal taps. Slow tremolo riffs rise. Fills build in intensity. One final ringing chord… then BOOM. RITUAL CLEARINGhave arrived.
Formed in 2019 this USBM horde may be relative newcomers, but the sound they drag kicking and screaming along with them is anything but. Drop forged in the searing heat of ’90s Scandinavian black flame, names such as Sacramentum, Lord Belial and Bathory (as astutely noted in the press release) do indeed slip from the tongue with ease – yet the alchemical formula this perilous pentad of black souls concoct is their own. Each of the four tracks that comprise their eponymous debut crackles with its own dark energy, and when all are placed together form the necessary thaumaturgical steps to complete the rite and open a portal to nether-realms. Realms from which there may be no return… and realms that we at Black Metal Daily are proud to present to you today with our exclusive full-stream of this compelling debut EP, Ritual Clearing.
To be released on limited cassette by cult US label Eternal Death April 24th, you can experience the full thing ahead of time below – and read our chat with three of the five acolytes involved in this iniquitous sorcery while you’re at it.
The ritual begins. Are you prepared to walk through the flame?
Hails, Ritual Clearing! Great to speak with you today. Your debut self-titled EP Ritual Clearing is finally being unleashed upon the world today, with physical artifacts available as of April 24th. So, tell us, because I cannot find any information about you all – who are you, how did you form, and what is the purpose of Ritual Clearing?
BF: I’m BF and I play bass in Ritual Clearing. BP (drums) and I were and continue to play in the live incarnation of Death Vanish (featuring Lord Valder from One Master). BP and I had played in earlier bands as well, and doing the DV project was enjoyable. We decided to start another black metal band given our interest and motivations in playing black metal. We reached out to some other folks we knew, either former bandmates in prior projects and/or people who were doing creative ventures we really enjoyed, and the band quickly came together. I’d say our ultimate purpose is to write and perform music that fits our shared sense of existential dread and darkness.
BP: Thank you for taking the time to ask us questions. I am BP and I play drums and write some of the music for Ritual Clearing. Most of us have been playing together in bands going back years and years, so when BF and I decided to keep our musical relationship continuing from Death Vanish, it was only natural to call out to them to complete the lineup. As far as purpose, I personally was looking for an outlet creating music that reflected how disgusting the world has started to feel. It could be age, but I started to grow more in need of creative outlets for the negative side of life. It is important to allow those feelings to manifest themselves and be addressed.
DM: I’m DM and I handle vocals. BF and I had talked about forming some sort of black metal project for a while – I had been working on something on my own but he came to me and asked if I wanted to vocals in a new band he was forming. Because I don’t live in the same place as everyone else, only handling vocals struck a great balance for me and allowed me to be flexible with my involvement in the writing process. The purpose of the band for me is definitely as an outlet to confront a sort of darkness that I can’t really channel in other styles of music.
Your sound harkens back to the ancient core of black metal – from where in particular have you drawn inspiration?
BF: I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head! We absolutely take a fair amount of influence from the classic Norweigan, Finnish and Swedish styles, but we also try to bring in additional influences that we enjoy, particularly more modern styles like atmospheric or depressive suicidal black metal. In particular, I’ve enjoyed the more recent output of bands like Solar Temple, Vaal, Departure Chandelier and Sulphuric Night, and I like to think we try to incorporate modern elements as well.
BP: What tends to attract me to bands from the era you mention and some modern bands is the “rawer” aesthetic. Too much polish can immediately turn me off from a band who might otherwise be writing music I would enjoy. The music needs to sound feral and desperate and not like it was run through the modern metal production factory.
DM: I definitely love a lot of what both BF and BP mention above, but personally I’m drawn more to the SDBM side of things – with really anguished vocals and depressive, all-consuming waves of guitar. I try to channel that sort of style vocally and push it further to pair it with the raw aggression present in the riffs.
What was the creative process like for the EP? Did you find yourselves slipping into any particular mindset to write these songs?
BF: Not so much a mindset as a shared creative urgency. We tend to write our songs as a collective entity and then send the songs, upon completion, to our singer who lives a few hours away. We were really able to tap into something when we all got together, and it ended up that someone would be a part or two and we’d be able to get a real sense of what the song would become. Our drummer, BP, also plays guitar, so he was able to bring help flesh out the parts in many instances.
DM: I had wanted to do something like this creatively for a long time, so I definitely shared that sense of urgency as well. I was present for the first few practices to work some initial things out, and then would pop in to work on the songs with everyone every month or so leading up to recording. In between that everyone would send me practice recordings and demos for me to sit with.
Love the cover art – I’m a sucker for hand-drawn imagery on black metal. Who is the artist, and how does the image connect to the album?
BF: Thanks! The cover art was done by Trigiometri and they really did a great job with it. We wanted to nail the sense of isolation and dread that we had in mind when writing the material, and I really feel as though the artwork captured it well.
BP: I am a person who enjoys a good deal of solitude, so when we were giving direction to Trigiometri for the artwork my main ask was for something that reflected those impulses. The music we make, to me, also feels like something that is done in the shadows and away from society, so we wanted that reflected as well. He came through quite admirably!
The EP is being released via Eternal Death, who have unleashed some killer albums upon the world. How did this come to pass? Are you pleased with the relationship thus far?
BF: Both BP and I play in Death Vanish with Lord Valder of One Master, who also operates Eternal Death. It was a logical choice for us, but it was never a given that he’d offer to put it out! We were really grateful for his willingness to work with us on this. Suffice to say, the relationship has gone quite well.
Whilst all four songs on the EP are great I’m fascinated by one in particular, the ultimate composition ‘Mensis’ – a simultaneously menacing and epic conclusion to the EP. My only knowledge of the word “mensis” is from Latin, where it means “moon” or “month”, and probably stemmed from Proto-Indo-European linguistics referring to the moon’s phases as the measure of time. Does this have anything to do with the theme of the track? Could you tell us a little about it, and how it ties in to the greater theme of the EP?
DM: That entire song is actually a bit of an outlier on the record thematically. The name and lyrics are all inspired by Bloodborne, a Japanese RPG that draws heavy inspiration from Lovecraftian horror. The entire lore of the game revolves around this sort of inner horror, insanity, and the capacity humanity has for brutality in the name of spiritual and intellectual enlightenment. With the Lovecraftian influence in there as well there’s a lot of cosmic imagery going on, which is definitely tied to ‘mensis’ and the moon. It’s one of my all-time favorite video games – I find the themes and aesthetics really striking so I wanted to pull from that for the closing song.
Seeing as we are streaming the EP in full today, I’ll ask: do you have any favourite moments or tracks, or is there any aspect of it you are particularly pleased with?
BF: The entire EP catalogs this dark, ominous journey we embarked upon while writing, and listening to it really brings me back to that process. I really enjoy it in its entirety. I like to think writing this material has just made us ready for whatever is going to come next.
BP: I am particularly pleased with DM’s vocal performance throughout. Given the distance between him and the rest of the band, we do not often have the chance to rehearse together. Once we were recording the tracks, I was very happy with both his vocal sound and his choices.
And finally – what lies in the future for Ritual Clearing?
BF: We’ve continued writing songs and will continue to be doing so in the near future. We had some shows lined up for the tape release and then the pandemic forced us into isolation for the time being. We look forward to the day when all this has passed and we’ll be able to play those shows once again. I suppose this sort of forced isolation in the face of global catastrophe will make for some interesting material on our end. Let’s hope something decent comes of it!
BP: We will continue to write material and look forward to performing out with friends, both old and new.
DM: Been working on a lot of different things while stuck in isolation, so hopefully that translates to something worthwhile for this project.
Sincerest thanks once again for speaking with us today. Any final words or wisdom for us all?
BF: Just a sincere thanks for checking out the release. We really appreciate it, cheers!
BP: Thank you for your time and helping share our creation with the world. No wisdom here, cheers!
DM: Many thanks!
Ritual Clearing releases 24th April via Eternal Death. Pre-orders available now.
Pre-order Ritual Clearing on digital or cassette from the Eternal Death Bandcamp HERE, or on cassette from the webstore HERE.
Good news, for those attuned to such frequencies: unleashed in all its glory upon this very day is King of the Silent World, the third full-length by Australian wraths GRAVEIR.
If I can get a little personal here for a moment, one of my favourite aspects of the uniquely melancholic maelstrom of malady this five-piece effortlessly conjure has always been the thematic detail they put into their songs. Rather than phone-in the same tired black metal clichés (that all too often act as background noise at most when listening to an album) they instead never fail to intrigue; always exploring the most interesting of topics. Whether it’s tales of blood eagles on their first full-length Iconostasisor the Dyatlov Pass Incident on 2018’s superb Cenotaph the listener is always left spellbound by the additional layer added to the experience, wanting to dig deeper… and that’s despite never making their lyrics available to the public.
That’s exactly what happened to me after we premiered the incredible third album track ‘The Fetch of Crooked Spine’just under a week ago now. I simply had to know more… so, for the second part of our coverage of this remarkable album, we are honoured and excited to host vocalist Gloom as he takes our hand and leads us through a track by track walkthrough. Although their lyrics may never be revealed, his commentary allows us to glean a moment’s invaluable insight into these hymns of malignant madness – alongside a display of the incredible artwork created specifically for each track by the preternaturally talented Danielle Serafor an entirely immersive, multi-faceted experience. So read on, dive into the bleakness, thick and viscous… and enter the wretched beauty of the Silent World. There’s nothing else like it.
1. Charnel Bacchanalia
“A celebration and reverence of death. As humans death is one of our greatest fears, we avoid it and labour under the delusions that “all life is precious”. The thought of decay is glossed over, we do our best to beautify the event but would ignore the deaths we create through carelessness, dehumanising others, for sustenance, for land and resources or politics. Death is an inexorable part of the cycle. It is a constant, we will be forced to confront our delusions. This song asks us to lean in and stare our mortality in the face and be thankful for it.
Vvoid joined us after the writing for the album was done but we had him add the opening lead so that there would be some of his input on the album. He did a more than admirable job stepping into the band and the album wouldn’t have been what it was without him. I am greatly looking forward to more of his contributions for our next release.”
“This is a fairly literal depiction of Scaphism, an ancient form of Persian execution (though its legitimacy is disputed). The condemned was fed milk and honey and enclosed in two boats where they would be exposed to the elements, starve, dehydrate, get infected from laying in their own filth and be slowly consumed by insects and vermin. What fascinated me about this is the level of creativity and the lengths to which human ingenuity will stretch to inflict cruelty on one another. Whether real or not there are plenty of other examples past and present of the things that we will do to one another.
The other interesting element is the psychology, devising a punishment so cruel and unusual that it could only inflict terror in the general populace. Fear can compel a populace to bend its knee to many things that would otherwise be considered unconscionable.”
3. The Fetch of Crooked Spine
“A fetch is a doppelganger that would appear to people when they were about to die. This reaches right into our fear of mortality, the overwhelming anxiety of the malign apparition drives the subject to suicide creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. The open question is what does knowing you are going to die ultimately mean? With acceptance would the subjects end have been less violent and their last days filled with anxiety?
Musically the song ends with the opening riff and no vocals. This is to reflect the passing of the narrator and to reflect life and death as a cycle.”
4. Bathed in Acheron
“This song depicts suicide by drowning, pulling in references from Greek mythology. Acheron is the River of Woe in the underworld. In this song it represents despair and sadness, being baptised/bathed in it is the feeling of being overwhelmed.
It also references the tale of Narcissus who, lured by a nymph to a pool became entranced by his own reflection and ended up drowning himself. This represents fixation on oneself, an inability to get out of our own heads. The tunnel vision that can lead to tragic outcomes.
Finally, this song contains the album title King of the Silent World. This has two elements to it – firstly it is a euphemism for death. Death is the point we cease to talk, cease to breathe, think, hope, have dreams we fall silent. The Silent World was also the title of a Jacques Cousteau documentary so it is a reference to the eerie serenity that you feel when underwater.
This song was originally going to be instrumental as I couldn’t work out how to tackle it but it came to me in the end, which I think was the right outcome.”
5. In Remnant Light
“The burdens of guilt, negative emotions can weigh us down as can parasitic people. We can carry this baggage with us so that it poisons our future and colours of view of the world, our decision making and limits our ability to succeed. This song is about being willing to go through suffering to cast off these ghosts and find strength.
We fear pain, injury, and scars but they can be valuable. Struggle helps us grow, scars teach lessons and toughen us. Sometimes you must cut off a limb to save our lives. We do well to remember this and be ok with discomfort if we can see the end goal is freeing.”
“Immacolata means immaculate and is typically tied in Catholicism to the Immaculate Conception. Too often we see cases of violence there are elements of this at play. A sense of ownership, a need to control, professions of love, lust and desire and sadly a conclusion in violence.
The subject of this song is entranced by this woman that he has idolized and put onto a pedestal. He desires her but she is unattainable. In awe of her power and beauty, he overlooks that she is cruel and poisonous. He is simultaneously disgusted by his weakness and is torn between desires of lust and destruction.
This is really a case of ugly people doing ugly things to one another and the complicated dynamics and emotions that come with that. That’s uncomfortable territory and opens up a whole lot of questions, but the purpose of most of my writing is not to definitely answer any of them but to offer perspectives and get people to think about what they mean.”
“A look into the mind of a monster. I think we often tend to label people who do horrible things as monsters as it creates distance from them being people. Those behaviours are us, the worst parts of our natures that we gloss over or that lie dormant until nudged into existence through our life experiences or illnesses.
The subject is wrestling with dark desires, acknowledging that they are wrong but being drawn into a spiral of obsession.
The mid-section of the song has the same underlying riff which increases in tempo each cycle to reflect an ever more feverish and manic mental state.”
8. Fodder for the Gears
“This is a Cronenbergian vision of the cruelties that can be inflicted in the pursuit of growth, productivity and profit taken to a dystopian endpoint. Bodies are fed through the gears as fuel for dark machinery, every hungry and without emotion.
As a real world example you can look at child labour, or the Foxconn Suicides, or the potential implications that could come as a result of using Artificial Intelligence to replace human decision making.”
9. Phantasms in Daguerreotype
“This song was about impending mortality, old age and reflecting back on a lifetime of regrets. This is played out through the subject looking at an old photograph of their younger self, untroubled by life and full of potential.
Both are unable to move forward, the younger idealized self quite literally and the subject through being hung up on mourning over not being their idealized self and facing the twilight of their life.
The phantasms part comes from degradation of the prints resulting in what appeared to be ghosts in the photos. This is a metaphor for being haunted by the past and failing to live in the present. Life only moves forward or stops, it is impossible to go back to past glories.”
10. Father, Devourer
“This looks at the story of Saturn devouring his children as an allegory for the inevitable cycle of entropy. That which is young and beautiful will wither and die. It is the inescapable cycle. Saturn is literally time, death and age devouring youth and vitality. Saturn is a slave to his actions as he is a monster.
This ties off the overarching themes of death and the human experience that underpin the album. I try to focus on experiences or concepts that are fundamental to who we are whether they are parts we would like to acknowledge or not. These will be spun into more fantastical forms, not unlike myths and fables of old as a way to help convey very real things about our nature and our society.”
Multinational folk/atmospheric outfit SOJOURNERare one of those all-too-rare projects that only get better with every successive release. From humble beginnings both their two albums have quickly seen to garner them an increasingly rabid and appreciative fan base, further spellbound by the epic, emotional storm they summon with growing potency each time. A new Sojourner album is fast becoming a must-hear event for those in the know, so it’s very good news that in a few weeks they’ll be unleashing the latest fruit of their collective endeavours – the aptly titled (and all-around stunning) Premonitions. I say “aptly titled” because if you’ve been following their journey at all then you yourself may have had a premonition that with time this collective of talented souls would grow into something huge… and if that were the case, well then. With this album, they’ll have proven you completely correct.
The music contained within this album is nothing short of magnificent, as is the spirit behind it all. Soaring, triumphant leads meet deep and devastating melancholia in the most beautiful of ways, driven always by the dual male/female vocals they do better than most. Chloe Bray‘s in particular are stunning, tugging at heartstrings on the incredibly well-done and personal-sounding ballad ‘Talas’… which immediately segues into the darkest and heaviest song they’ve ever put their name to, ‘Fatal Frame’. This ripper flips the script and showcases Emilio Crespo‘s impressive roar; plus it’s based on a video game, no less. This paradoxical yet complimentary pairing of songs is an incredible one-two emotional punch, emblematic of the spirit of the album as a whole: no boundaries, no fear and of the utmost quality all around. You can genuinely feel that they’ve poured every single ounce of themselves into the record, developing and pushing their sound further than they ever have before and as a result of that becoming stronger than ever, blossoming into an absolute powerhouse – one completely deserving of their recent move to the mighty Napalm Records, too.
Unfortunately only two songs are available for streaming as yet (the aforementioned ‘Fatal Frame’ and ‘The Deluge’, with accompanying video for the latter and a killer solo from Jostein Thomassen of Borknagaron the former), but our in-house epic black metal legend Tom O’Dell ofDwarrowdelfis here (and on the album, see if you can spot his dulcet tones when the whole thing drops) to help shed a little more light on this remarkable record in a chat with throatsmith Emilio and multi-instrumentalist Mike Lamb. It’s a wonderful and revealing read as you’d expect, so I shall steal its thunder no more – read on below and get excited for the full May 8th unveiling. I’ve a premonition you might just like it.
Hi guys – thanks for agreeing to virtually swing by for a chat! Before we get into it, can I quickly ask you to introduce yourselves?
Emilio: Thanks for inviting us! Well, I’m one of the founding members and I do vocals and write most of the lyrics.
Mike L.: Thanks for virtually having us man! I’m one of the founding members as well, and I’m one of the songwriters along with Chloe. Chloe and I share most of the instruments during recording, but I stick to guitar live. I also do the producing and engineering of the records before we send them off for final mixing and mastering, so my home studio is basically Sojourner HQ.
This album isn’t your first time at the rodeo, with Premonitions being your third record, and you’ve amassed quite the loyal fanbase since your first release in 2015. However, it’s your first album on Napalm Records, a huge name in the metal world. Did knowing that this album would be exposed to a potentially massive audience change the way you approached writing it at all?
Mike L.: Nah, not at all! When Napalm approached us about signing, I had a fairly detailed discussion with them about making sure we weren’t signing away any creative control. It’s always been an important point for all of us that we can create exactly what we want, how we want, without anyone getting involved and trying to steer things. Napalm were really reassuring about the fact that they wouldn’t be involved in any of it musically or visually, so that sealed it for us. The entire album and all art, layouts etc. were completed on our end and then sent off to them in the final form.
This album is the natural evolution from The Shadowed Road in a similar way that The Shadowed Road was a natural evolution from Empires of Ash, I’m sure some people won’t like the additional polish that goes on to each album but we just push forward doing what we want to hear and accept that you’re never going to please everyone.
On a similar note, since releasing The Shadowed Road in 2018, you’ve gained a wealth of touring experience, completing the transformation from studio project to live band with aplomb. I know you’ve found that some of your previous songs transitioned to a live environment better than others – was there any sense that this new album needed to be an album to play live? Did the newfound wealth of experience playing together affect the writing process?
Mike L.: The writing process has always just been me and Chloe kind of doing what comes naturally to us, and our styles just mesh together so it kind of felt like we just kept doing what we’ve always done in a lot of ways… but I think the live thing definitely has impacted some aspects of it. When you translate the songs live, you really start to see what gets a response from people and what doesn’t, so instead of writing it in the sense of “would this work live?” We were writing with the knowledge of what parts of our sound best translated to something that people respond to in a more visceral way. For example, when we play live, songs like ‘Aeons of Valor’, ‘An Oath Sworn in Sorrow’, ‘Titan’, and ‘The Shadowed Road’ get really nice responses and a lot of that is because of the punchy, driving more dynamic stuff and some of the heavier sections. So we wanted to exploit some of that more punchy sound and focus on dynamics a bit more, while still maintaining the core sound we’ve built up over the previous two albums.
We also tried to keep the song lengths down a bit this time and expand the tracklist out from 7 songs to 8 songs instead. We still have a couple of tracks that push 8 minutes, but you’ve heard the last of the 10 minute Sojourner tracks…songs like ‘Where Lost Hope Lies’ and ‘Empires of Ash’ just don’t work live, and it’s just generally so much more effective to be concise where you can be without sacrificing feel… though, looking at the tracklist, I don’t know how well we succeeded at this whole being concise thing haha but it’s fine, we’re never going to be a 3 minute song band either.
In another milestone for the band, lead single ‘The Deluge’ is accompanied by a video shot in the spectacular scenery of Scotland! There’s a video on the Napalm Records YouTube channel discussing the meaning behind the video, so I won’t ask you to repeat yourselves, but I’m curious as to how you found the experience? Was it a few days of wholesome band fun up the glorious mountains, or were there any unexpected stresses?
Emilio: It was a ton of fun but, of course, there was some stress going into it. We had a limit of three days to film the entire thing. We had just come off our UK tour with Havukrunnu and our director flew in with his girlfriend and we quickly discussed the final details of what we were going to do. We basically shot for like 10 hours each day and weather didn’t matter haha! Once it was all done the feeling of relaxation and pride settled in. We’re truly happy with the result!
It seems like there’s a bit of a stylistic evolution on Premonitions. You’ve broken with tradition and declined to depict a castle on the album artwork, and the lyrical content and song titles of the songs are more wide ranging than, say, the more traditional fantasy elements present on debut album Empires of Ash. I’ve seen you state online that you’ve all been through some trying times since the last album was released – how is that reflected in the themes of this new record? Was there anything in particular that you were trying to explore?
Emilio: From a lyrical standpoint I just wanted to tap into what I was going through at the time, really. I still love what I’ve written on the previous albums but I didn’t want to write stories that I’ve made up in my mind. I wanted to dig deep and put all my emotions on paper and evoke those feelings with my voice. Aside from the cliché saying “This is our best album ever”, I believe it’s such a real album on every level and I couldn’t be more proud of it.
Mike L.: Musically we channeled a lot of those feelings in there as well, which accounts for the overall darker tone of the album. Artwork-wise we decided to ditch the castle ruins and go for something a bit darker, and a bit more abstract. I think three albums in we would’ve been beating a dead horse with another ruin, even though we missed the chance to put one on the right and complete the triptych of Sojourner castle covers. The giant owl statue is a risk, not everyone is going to love it, and not everyone does haha, but it represents the album perfectly and doesn’t alienate the fans of the fantasy elements that we’ve built the band on either.
This album was much more real for all of us in the band, but at the same time it’s still escapist music that is supposed to transport people somewhere else and not be a depressing dirge. In a lot of ways, by pouring the emotion that we did into it, writing and producing this album was an escape for all of us from the negative things going on in our lives at the time.
Along with this thematic evolution, there’s also a great sense of musical development in these new songs. Whereas your debut was definable to a large extent as folk-influenced atmoblack, Premonitions does its best to escape categorisation. There’s so much going on, from melodeath-esque leads, to brutal growls, serene synths, and of course your trademark four-chord epic climaxes. Would I be correct in assuming that you’re working to escape from the confines of the atmoblack stereotype, in a way? And how do you hope the fans you’ve gained from the past two releases will react to the way the band has grown?
Mike L.: It’s not that we consciously wanted to escape the atmospheric black metal scene so much that we have just gradually stopped worrying as much about what’s ‘acceptable’ in the genre confines and what’s not, and we just started to make music that we want to make with no boundaries. We fell into the atmoblack scene pretty hard with the initial release of the ‘Heritage of the Natural Realm’ single back in 2015, and we will forever be grateful to Lightfox and his YouTube channels for helping us get where we are; though I think the fanbase that we accumulated with that sort of shaped some of how we approached writing Empires of Ash in the end. We still did what we wanted by incorporating folk metal, melodic death metal, doom metal, and even power metal, but we were a little more conscious of wanting to please the fanbase we had accumulated through the atmoblack scene back then. There was always a worry that this thing may be a little bit too power metal, or that might be a little too melodic death, or that maybe we haven’t included enough tremolo riffs or blastbeats to please the purists.
After Empires of Ash came out and we had such an amazing response by such insanely supportive fans, who often mentioned the fact that they appreciated our eclectic mashup of stuff, so we just let loose on The Shadowed Road and actively tried to label ourselves ‘atmospheric metal’ whenever possible. It felt disingenuous to tie ourselves to black metal directly anyway, since it’s one influence among many. That just extrapolated out to the evolution on Premonitions now too, with us going further out in the direction we always wanted to. We know we’ve lost some fans on the way, we even lost some with The Shadowed Road, but we gained way more than we lost along the way and you can’t please everyone. We just really appreciate the people that have stuck with us, and the people who join us as we go!
A lot of online spectators have likened your previous works to that of Saor, Summoning, Caladan Brood and so on, although to my ear there’s a stronger influence from melodic death/doom bands like Draconian and Insomnium, especially on The Shadowed Road. Obviously as discussed above, there’s a wide range of styles and influences to be found in these new songs, but are there any surprising influences that go further than this? What unlikely artists or experiences have helped to mold Sojourner going into this album?
Mike L.: We all totally agree with you on that! Bands like Insomnium, Draconian, Agalloch, Rotting Christ, Be’lakor, Eluveitie, Moonsorrow, Primordial, Paradise Lost, Novembre, Katatonia, Dark Tranquillity, and Borknagar have always been much bigger direct influences on us. We really appreciate the bands you mention, I just wouldn’t say they played a huge role in our forming or our sound. It feels a little bit like you include black metal and synths and you’re directly labelled a ‘Summoning clone’… that’s something you can’t really escape, but we all appreciate Summoning and they’re masters of what they do. There’s a pretty hilarious thread on one of the album reviews on Sputnikmusic, it might be The Shadowed Road I think, where a bunch of people are getting really butthurt over somebody mentioning us in the same breath as Summoning… that’s a battle we’re never going to win, but we were never gunning for Summoning’s style, I don’t even think we’re in the same wheelhouse personally haha.
To answer the question directly though, yeah there are definitely some surprise influences on Premonitions that I don’t think people would connect; a big one is Sleep Token, one of my favorite bands of the last few years and one that everyone in the band has really gotten into as well. They were pretty instrumental in helping me survive a pretty nightmarish year, so they’re pretty close to my heart. It’s not something you’ll hear directly, but a lot of their approach to production has influenced me hugely, along with their mastery of melodic lines and layering. The outro to ‘The Event Horizon’ is a direct nod to Sleep Token. The Australian band Suldusk released an incredibly beautiful album called Lunar Falls last April which really inspired me when I needed it most, as well as Drab Majesty’s Modern Mirror and Idle Hands’ Mana. Xanthochroid’s Of Erthe & Axen double-album has also been a constant and recurring influence on me since it was released in 2017, especially Act I (the first album).
It’s obviously hard to predict the future (who could have foreseen that all the metal tours in the world would be cancelled due to a bloody pandemic…), but where do you see the band headed in the next year or two? What doors are you hoping this spectacular album will open for you? Is there anything exciting in the works that you can spill the beans on?
Emilio: We did make a huge transition from being a studio band to touring or playing festivals more often now. We hope to expand on that and do even more tours and festivals in the future. We do have some stuff in the pipeline for the live front but we can’t exactly say just yet!
I think that’s a good place to start wrapping things up! Thank you all for your time and insightful answers, it’s been a true pleasure. Premonitions is a triumph, and I think the world is going to love it. Before you go, do you have any final words for the readers?
Mike L.: Thanks for having us and thanks for the kind words! It’s been fun!
Premonitions releases May 8th via Napalm Records. Pre-orders available now.
Pre-order Premonitions digitally from the Sojourner Bandcamp HERE or on CD and 2LP from the Napalm Records webstore HERE.
Hails and salutations; hope you’re all quarantining well this fine eve. Now, astute readers may recall Joe Caswell of Norse mythology themed Canadian black folk project BURDEN OF YMIR popping up on the stained and reeking pages of BMD a couple of times already – first in an old Bandcamp Misanthropy, the last when we spoke to him regarding his previous album Jötnar. Well, the good man is back for a third helping and with a fresh new album released just today to boot: the ripping journey to the darkest reaches of helheim, entitled The Third Half.
No bones about it – this is, hands down, his best work yet. Seeming more focused than ever he’s further stripped away some of the rampant experimentation that ran unchecked over previous releases, streamlining his overall sound and remaining firmly in the realms of black and accordion-infused folk metal; creating an entertaining listen that (if there’s any justice left in this world) will finally get him some decent and well-deserved attention. It feels like after several evolutions the project is reaching its final form and he’s more comfortable in what he wants to do with it than ever… plus it has vocals. Yes, Joe finally bestows upon his work the final piece of the puzzle, and the songs soar for it – his throatwork is actually quite good, too.
I won’t go on too much about it, for two reasons. One: it released in full on the Black Spark RecordsBandcamp today, so you can head on over and peruse its delights at your leisure. Two: we couldn’t resist getting Joe back in to tell us all about the album himself (and the fascinating tale behind it). So, hearken! Prepare yourself for an epic experience, read on and click through to the album below… enter the world of the Gods, and find The Third Half.
Hey Joe! Great to speak to you again, hope you’ve been well. So, you have a new album coming out, entitled The Third Half. That’s an interesting title – what’s the story behind it?
– It’s great to chat with you again and thanks so much for the opportunity, as always! To be perfectly honest, the album title just randomly popped into my head out of nowhere one day when I was daydreaming about nothing in particular. I was also planning to start writing and recording a new album around that time. I liked the absurdity of “the third half” idea and the inherent contradiction helped inspire the story this album follows. As we’ve talked about in a previous interview, my music is inspired by Old Norse stories and figures so using the “third half” idea I came up with an idea based on the division of fallen warriors where half go to Odin and half go to Freyja… in the album, Hel is meddling with the order of things and taking slain warriors for her own purposes… she is trying to become a contradictory “third half”.
The full story summary (also included on the album page at my Bandcamp site along with the lyrics, for anybody interested in that sort of thing) is thus: Odin senses something amiss and finds the valkyries have been unable to locate those fallen warriors to be selected for Valhalla to join the einherjar… of course, half of those fallen should go to Freyja and half to Odin but neither is hoarding the slain. Odin ventures to consult the three norns beneath Yggdrasil and finds out Hel is involved in a scheme related to the problem; she is somehow taking the fallen meant for Valhalla for her own devices and plans for the coming of Ragnarok (she is trying to become a “third half”). Odin travels through Yggdrasil to Helheim in order to free the einherjar. Along the way he and his army face hordes of Hel’s minions before Odin eventually faces off against the daughter of Loki herself. Victorious over his foe, Odin and the einherjar return to Asgard to feast and drink in the halls of Valhalla.
As some may know, this album is the first in your discography to feature vocals! What made you finally decide to include them now? If this is your first time performing black metal vocals, did you find it challenging in any way?
– Vocals are something I had thought about doing for a while. I actually wasn’t able to do them for earlier albums simply because I had a number of neighbors to deal with regarding potential noise. I’ve had a new place since the end of this past year and that’s no longer an issue. I was also always hesitant to add vocals because I wanted to keep Burden of Ymir a solo project and wasn’t sure if I would be able to manage doing them myself. I came across some great reviews of earlier albums I released which typically mentioned the music would be even better with vocals and that really motivated me to try it out. I decided to just scream and growl with no restraint and see how it came out. There was no technique to speak of which wound up hurting me in the end… it took over a month for my vocal chords to fully heal up and return to normal. However, I’m pleased with the raw and emotive feel of the vocals on this album. I’ve been getting used to it again and learning how to control it better so I think this aspect will only continue to improve.
The album feels like the most focused and complete Burden Of Ymir record to date. Did you approach it differently this time around? How much of an effect did adding vocals have on the writing process?
– This is a huge compliment to me…I felt like it was a more focused, coherent album and there was a little bit of intention behind that, building on the refining that has been ongoing for the sound of this project. Of course, it’s incredibly gratifying to hear that other people also feel this album is a more focused release. It also helps to have a single story to convey. This is in particular contrast with my last album, Jotnar, which told a story about a different figure in each track. I also set out from the start to write a heavier more blackened album than I had done previously. In terms of the writing process and how vocals had an impact on that, I think I just treated the vocals as another instrument when planning parts out for each song the same way I would identify which segments have lead guitar parts or accordion parts. With that being said, I do think that including vocals in the initial planning of each song imposed a bit more structure on the music in the form of verses, choruses, and other usual suspects of song structure.
Is this refinement of your sound likely to continue? I know you’ve been listening to a heap of new music lately, has any of that provided any inspiration for the future direction of Burden Of Ymir?
– I think refinement of any person or band’s sound tends to occur over the course of continually writing new music and not wanting to repeat oneself, but in terms of intentional refinement or stylistic tweaking for Burden of Ymir this album represents the specific sort of thing that listeners can expect from me moving forward. I certainly have been listening to many new bands lately, as many of us are currently stuck inside due to the bizarre times we find ourselves in at the moment, and it’s probably safe to assume that some of this stuff will certainly contribute ideas and inspiration for my own future material. However, I feel like The Third Half represents what I’ve been aiming for with the sound of this project.
The album is once again being released via the good folk at Black Spark Records! However, I believe there is a hold up with physical releases at the moment. Will we be seeing a physical edition of The Third Half at some point?
– There is indeed no plan for a physical release right away. However, I would really like to see some physical media for the album in the future, regardless of format. I’d love to say that you can definitely expect this but it’s not completely certain yet. As always, the album will be available on all major digital platforms with streaming services to follow soon after. The folks at Black Spark Records are a huge help to me and their support goes a long way in getting my music out to more listeners.
Aside from the album, you also recently dropped a treat on your Bandcamp: a great cover of Sepultura‘s ‘Arise’. Can you tell us a little about this? Why did you cover this particular song?
– Thanks for this! That’s awesome that people have seen this and checked it out. As I mentioned in our previous interview, two huge influences on me very early on were Black Sabbath, followed by Sepultura, and Beneath the Remains and Arise remain two of my favorite albums to this day. I’m currently one of many people stuck inside working from home at the moment. It’s not something I’m used to and find myself easily distracted… this cover was a result of that. This has always been a favorite of mine and it seemed like a more blackened treatment of it would be quite fitting for the song. It was a lot of fun to record this and I think the vocals demonstrate a bit more control compared to the recording of The Third Half which was definitely more raw and visceral. The track is, of course, name-your-price (i.e., free!) and hopefully it provides a few minutes of entertainment for people. Speaking of Black Sabbath, I may or may not be waiting to release another treat soon.
And finally – past The Third Half, what lies on the horizon for Burden Of Ymir? Do you have anything else on the boil that we’ll be seeing soon?
– At the moment I’m planning out the theme and story elements for the next album, which I always do before I start writing and recording. As I’ve said before, I write music to a story, and the story of the next album has been outlined in broad strokes right now with a potential track list pieced together to help guide the details. I have also been working on something with my friends in Vintertodt and some other black metal folks you may be familiar with; but that’s all I can say about that project at the moment. Other than that I’m just taking in a lot of new music and gathering inspiration for the next album.
Thanks again for your time Joe – a pleasure as always. Any final words for us all?
– It was my pleasure and thanks so much for the opportunity, as always. I’m really looking forward to The Third Half release date and hope people enjoy what they hear. I’m very pleased with the final product and see this as a very important step for Burden of Ymir.
“Seeking the truth, guiding the fallen
The task of Ymir’s slayer
To find valkyries’ targets and halt perpetration
Freeing the strong einherjar”
(Lyric from The Third Half)
The Third Half is available now via Black Spark Records.
Purchase The Third Half digitally from the Burden Of Ymir Bandcamp HERE or the Black Spark Records Bandcamp HERE.
Those lyrics above, lifted from the title track of the album that we are premiering here today, might seem a little confronting to some. They shouldn’t, because this is black metal after all – but they might. Why? Because they are not the usual rhetoric espoused by the genre. What they are however, is the perfect summation of the defiance, vitriol and utter fucking hatred that roars like a searing unholy flame inside the black hearts of Finnish blasphemers CURSE UPON A PRAYER.
Over ten years that flame has burned with only greater intensity in every successive album, demo and EP as they create pure black art in their own image with unflinching vision, unwavering conviction and a savage intent to tear down the pillars that hold up our failing world. Organized religion is of course one of those pillars and on their apocalyptic third full-length Infidel they once again eschew the tired and easy target of Christianity, instead taking lethal aim at the Islamic faith in a torrent of scorn and rape so intense, so genuine that you can nigh on hear the holy texts of the Quran burning with every word uttered and every note played.
It’s an approach that has challenged many in the recent global social climate – but any cries of offense or resulting censorship attempts have only served to renew the band’s fervor and ferocity. Although Infidel sees them wield a more expansive and dynamic arsenal than previous works, the album also sees them at their most focused; as if every bleating protest has merely fueled their fire and steeled their resolve, resulting in a record greater than anything they’ve done before. From the opening ‘Call To Prayer’ through to the bottomless abyss waiting at the final layer of ‘Jahannam’, the entire thing just oozes both quality and vitriol… so what are you waiting for? Listen to our exclusive full stream (partnered again with Black Metal Promotion) below ahead of its April 10th release date via the great Saturnal Records, then read on for an interview with the nameless heretic warriors themselves.
Let it be known: with Infidel, Curse Upon A Prayer have created their masterwork. May the hordes of Allah tremble and wither, for the wolves have been set lose amongst them.
Greetings Curse Upon A Prayer, it’s a pleasure to speak with you today for the streaming of your third full-length, Infidel. Now, your last release (the 2018 EP Three Woes) in particular was fucking superb, yet Infidel is a huge leap forward even from there. You’ve moved steadily further from a more “typical” black metal sound into something that can only be described as utterly massive; cataclysmic and vicious. How did this come about? Did you approach this album differently when compared to your previous works?
– Yes. I would say this is the album where we managed to perfect the art a bit more and took another step further. The vision for this album was very clear from the very start, which is always a good sign in the creating process and I do believe it manifested itself well on the record.
As has been the case before, the album is a savage attack on Islamic faith. I’m curious: why do you focus specifically on Islam? As we know, a large part of the anti-Christian themes prevalent in the second wave stemmed from the Black Circle being immersed in Christianity whilst growing up in Norway – what circumstances led to you developing such hatred for the Islamic ideology in particular?
– The previous EP had nothing to do with islam, actually. It’s important to remember that the very core of this band has never been about islam. If that would be the case, this band would serve a very hollow purpose.
Utilizing these islamic themes in an artistic manner is a summary of several things; It’s not just the slave mentality of the ideology itself but the way people tend to react when it comes to challenging islam. There are still, for example, a good amount of black metal bands out there who still choose to rely on those very overused christian themes, but run away like sheep when real resistance occurs. They want to be perceived as something “radical” but they want to do it within safe frames. And that’s a strange equation indeed. I’d say this whole question between christianity and islam is a good tool to separate the wolves from those sheep. There shouldn’t be any middle ground nor excuses. There’s no respect for a man who betrays his values when actual conflict occurs.
An immediately apparent development for Infidel is the inclusion of middle-eastern elements scattered throughout, such as the introductory piece ‘Call To Prayer’ – they are a fantastic addition to the record. Did you select these vocalizations and melodies because they hold any particular meaning to the Islamic faith?
– Thank you. Yes, those elements are there to adorn the totality of the album and provide the contrast between “the word of god” and the flagrant “Infidelity”, in which this album is based upon. It was only natural to add those elements because they do flatter the songs very well and the spirit of the album.
Another development is in the increasingly-dynamic throatwork: although you’ve utilised these techniques for a while now your vocals seem to delivered with more variety than ever before and are often layered multiple times, creating an unsettling effect that appears refined and perfected further than any previous works. What inspired this progression and the use of these techniques?
– These kinds of things occur if the song needs it. Of course you always want to achieve greater results, but in the end it’s the totality of the song you have to keep in mind when you make any decisions, be it vocals, drum fills or anything else.
The cover art is simple, yet intriguing; it appears to be a bastardisation of the star and crescent moon symbol of Islam and the Ottoman Empire. I can’t recall seeing this symbol used in this way, it almost seems akin to an inverted crucifix – what’s the story behind it, what does it mean?
– As you pretty much said, it is a sacrilegious reference to the symbol of islam. The desecration of false faith and thus a sign for the one(s) born in fire.
Whilst on the topic of cover art – historically, the artwork of anti-Christian albums has often utilized images of Jesus Christ, angels or some other holy figure portrayed in various stages of mutilation or being raped by demons, etc. As far as I am aware your album art has surprisingly not yet featured an image of Muhammad in any way – something that I’d imagine would be quite a powerful statement, and one that I imagine you’d be not at all afraid of making. Have you ever considered doing this?
– I’m not a fan of such art. It’s tasteless, inelegant and dull. There’s a difference between trying to be as blasphemous as possible just for the sake of being blasphemous, and actually having an artistic vision. I’d like to think we represent the latter.
Infidel is a very oppositional, outwardly hostile album; as black metal should be. But on the other side of that coin, what are the personal and internal spiritual beliefs of the members of Curse Upon A Prayer?
– Personal things are indeed personal. But as mentioned before, the very essence of this band has never been about islam.
In a 2014 interview you were quoted as saying the scene was full of “fat, drunken, black metal elitists who still over use the same irrelevant subjects that don’t even cause any turbulence”. Given that statement was made six years ago, how do you feel the situation is now? Has black metal become even less dangerous?
– Well, despite being just a teenager back then, I’m certainly not apologizing for that statement because it still holds some truth to this day! Haha!
But funnily enough, because of the current times we’re living in, black metal seems to be a surprisingly sharp thorn in the flesh of the mainstream world at the moment. And it’s a pitiful thing to see when some bands start making compromises with their art because of it. In a sense it’s also a good thing because the actual stars tend to shine much brighter and stronger among all that shit.
I believe you have garnered quite a reputation for desecrating the Quran during your live shows. Have you ever faced any protests or show cancellations due to backlash from this?
– Yes, of course. There have been some incidents along the way but it is something you can very well expect in these modern times. Even the government of Pakistan made a complaint about one of our videos on YouTube, so we’re doing well!
I personally don’t understand bands who choose to flirt with radical ideas and then start bitching when one of their shows gets cancelled, because it is what you can expect and you should be aware about it rather than making bullshit excuses on social media.
Following on from that, in the current age and climate it’s incredibly easy to find yourself tarred with the “nazi” or “racist” brush for being against a religious faith. A quick internet search even reveals an Islamophobia Definition stating that “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. I personally loathe the Abrahamic religions and what they can do/have done to the world and its people, yet have very little against everyday folk of any creed who practice a form of them passively – including my mother, who is Christian. Hating the ideology doth not equal hating the man unless the man is utilising his faith to justify atrocities. I’m sure you’ve had to explain this many times, so I apologise, but once again: what is your take and personal stance on this? Are you racists?
– There’s a relatively famous quote about islamophobia; A word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons.
It is just a pathetic way to strive above any criticism. And trying to call us racists, just because we refuse to kneel before all the fear islam has managed to sow globally, is a weak move to pull. Usually done by equally idiotic cowards who still don’t seem to understand that the beliefs you choose to hold, and the race you were born into, are very separate things. As an artist you shouldn’t be afraid to pursue your vision even though there could be that risk of misjudgement. There will always be someone opposing you when/if you decide to stand up for your own values and artistic freedom. If we’ve crossed the line, feel free to fuck off because it surely hasn’t been our line.
And of course, feeling yourself supreme because of the pigment of your skin, is just another example of this sheep-like herd mentality where the average man finds comfort. True supremacy drives from other, more divine sources. And it is something that must be created and it certainly demands way more than just flesh and blood.
The original first track that premiered for the album was ‘Al-masih ad-Dajjal’, which has an intriguing title. Could you explain the meaning behind the title and what the song itself is about?
– Al-Masih ad-Dajjal is a figure in islamic belief and can be translated as “The Lying Messiah”. The song itself became one of the key points on this album and deals with the very essence of its concept: The fiery will of an “Infidel” to become his innermost self by manifesting the ruthless nature of an untamed god through pain, arrogant desecration and revenge. Giving the death penalty for a petty existence without repentance and pissing on its grave.
Infidel is currently being released on CD and digital through the great Saturnal Records. An excellent label, but why did you make the switch from Inverse Records (who released Rotten Tongues and Three Woes)?
– Actually, The Three Woes was released by Saturnal Records as well. (My mistake! Apologies – Dex)
With Saturnal Records we haven’t had to make any compromises with our choice of themes or art in general. They seem to be very aware of what we are doing and that was pretty much what sealed the deal for us for The Three Woes and this latest full-length album.
Are there any plans in the works for the album to be released on other formats?
-Yes. It will be on vinyl as well! In due time.
What lies in the future for Curse Upon A Prayer? Any shows or new material on the horizon that we should know about?
– There are shows coming this year. Some of them had to be postponed to a later date because of this well-deserved scourge of the human race, better known as the coronavirus. So we shall rejoice for this blessing first and then we carry on with the shows.
Also, the follow-up for Infidel has started to take its form already. But obviously it’s still way too early to comment further on that at this point!
And finally, I’ll ask your opinion: the world has a long and storied history with religion. Where do you envisage us all heading in years to come? Will we ever be free of it?
– It remains to be seen. It might just take a slightly different form because it is rooted in the human nature after all.
Sincerest thanks once again for your time, Curse Upon A Prayer. Any parting words or wisdom for us all?
– Hasten to prayer, all ye Infidels!
Infidel releases 10th April via Saturnal Records.
Pre-order Infidel on CD from the Saturnal Records webstore HERE.