Beyond The Black Veil – An Interview with Simon Garðarsson of Í Myrkri

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Shades of cold indifference
Nocturnal trancendence
The shadows dance in starlight
Oceans of delirium

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Danish native Simon Garðarsson is a man of many and considerable talents. His creatons under the Art By Simon Garðarsson moniker have been drawing down his own unique and otherworldly brand of darkness for years now; wonderful, haunting pieces that transport you to another place and time. However, not to be content with conquering just one form of expression he has now found a compelling new outlet – Black Fortress of Solitude, the debut album from his newly-formed black metal project Í Myrkri, is being unleashed in the coming months.

Joined by the great Lane Chaplin of Armorer on vocals, for an initial foray into the genre it’s remarkably satisfying. Simple riffs that exist only to entice you to the grim and gloom work well with insistent drum patterns; immersing you completely in Cimmerian shade and enchanting for the duration. I’ve heard much, much worse than what this man was able to conjure up in seemingly no time at all, it’s clear he knows his stuff – so I simply had to reach out to know more. Read on below for our chat with the man himself and grab yourself a pre-order of the CD, limited to 100 and materialising November 30th through A Pile Of Graves. Hails.

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Greetings Simon, pleasure to speak with you today! Your debut album Black Fortress Of Solitude is on the way, and it’s a great first effort. Now as some may know, you’re already an established illustrator who specializes in pointillism, have worked with many bands to create album art, logos and shirts and you are a permanent affiliate artist at the Jarsbo Gallery of Contemporary Art. So around your other successful creative outlet, what’s the tale of you finally forming Í Myrkri and recording your first black metal album? What does it mean to you?

– Greetings! The idea of forming Í Myrkri actually began with the album cover and of course my commitment for black metal. It was my first artwork of 2019 and I thought it would fit well for a black metal album. So I promoted the artwork on different Facebook groups to hear if some bands were interested in it. I got a fair amount of replies but truth be told, none could afford it at that moment. So I thought to myself, why not try writing my own music and use the artwork for it?

I have always wanted to create artwork for my own band or musical project but I never got the chance with the former projects I was in. So I began writing some riffs and eventually finished my first demo, which also is the first track of the album. I really liked the idea of a project where I created everything in it, so it’s a big achievement for me creatively.

You describe your visual artwork as “inspired by the infinite cosmos, the morbid and mysterious. I create gloomy art with an occult and mystic undertone, often with a strong sense of symbolism”, which in a pinch could also be used to describe your music fairly well. Do you feel your music and art are extensions of the same thing, an expression of something internal?

– Definitely. Every artwork I create is inspired by music consequently as I always listen to it while drawing, especially music with a lot of atmosphere. I want to visualize a certain mystical atmosphere in my artwork where the viewer can get their own feelings and interpretations at play. I also had the album cover artwork in mind when I wrote songs for the album, so my music and art are definitely extensions of the same thing. All the times I’ve tried to write something it always ends up very atmospheric in some way and I’m sure it comes from my artwork. Also the album’s lyrical theme comes from what I try to visualize in my artwork. Darkness and occult, mysterious happenings in nature.

The lyrics for the album are written and vocals performed by Lane Chaplin of the also-great and underrated project Armorer. How did this happy collaboration eventuate? Plus, I’m also interested to know – during the writing process, did you relinquish total control of the album’s lyrical themes and trust in him?

– A not so long story short, the guy who runs the label A Pile of Graves introduced us. I had given up the idea of doing vocals myself, so he put me in contact with Lane. It was the best thing that could happen. Lane is a super cool dude and extremely talented. I am honored to call him my friend. I had some basic ideas of how I wanted the vocals to sound without him changing his style. I also had a lyrical theme, but other than that he had total creative freedom. And I’m glad we did it that way. Lane also works super fast and produces all his music by himself, so when the vocals were done, it was practically just drag and drop without having to adjust too much in the mix. Lane is now a permanent member of Í Myrkri which already has unleashed great things to come.

Musically there are certainly many influences to be found by the listener, both ancient and modern. But in the eyes of you, the creator – did you have any particular musical touchpoints you were inspired by throughout the writing and recording process, or a particular sound you were aiming for?

– I definitely got inspired by the Norwegian black metal scene and the black metal scene in Quebec, Canada as well. I wanted it to be atmospheric but also very dark. I wanted it to have a big soundscape but still the lo-fi sound similar to the second wave of black metal. It was my first time writing black metal and first time writing completed songs as well, so I have developed my writing style a lot in the process. I didn’t do much re-arrangement of the tracks. I recorded track 1, 2, 3 and so on. So you can definitely hear the development throughout the album.

It’s undoubtedly a lo-fi album, but not raw; you also have an interesting guitar tone at work here that lends a certain relative weight to the songs. What sort of gear did you use for recording?

– For a guitar I used an Ibanez RG-7 with active pickups, which isn’t the typical guitar for black metal as you don’t want that low tuning with seven strings. But it was the only guitar I had, so I just tuned it up. But it’s a really nice sounding guitar and easy for me to handle.

Frederik Rose from Crescent Audio Production who helped me record and mix the album, got a really nice setup for the guitar tracking. We used an old Roland Jazz Chorus amp where he put a ProCo Ratt simulation into it. This, with heavy scoops in the bottom and mid gave a really cool, old school black metal sound. On the amp itself there was used an SM57 and a MD421 as a closemic to get the very nature of the speaker units. Also used a Neumann KLM 103 which stood approx. 1.5m away from the amp facing the center to get a recording where both the room and the amp could be heard and then blended into the finished signal. Of digital elements, we used a Line 6 Helix and a Two Notes Torpedo Cab with a ProCo Ratt into it which was also blended into the overall signal eventually.

It was super cool to use this type of amp, which normally was used for clean guitar in 80’s heavy metal.

We’ve heard about your pathway into music – but I’m also curious as to your pathway into illustration. What led you to begin creating your art, and in particular to practice “The Dark Art of Pointillism”, as you put it?

– I have always created. I particular got into drawing at 3 years old according to old hidden drawings my family kept. And I have been drawing ever since. It was the thing I did in school and at home. I always knew I should be an artist, that was the only thing I could think of. Nothing else made sense to me. I have been drawing in many styles and themes over the years. But The Dark Art of Pointillism first came to me in late 2015. At that time I was trying out the tattoo style because I wanted to be a tattoo artist, and then I discovered Pointillism or Dotwork. It was also around that time I suffered my first anxiety attacks or panic attacks. It was a very hard time because of that, so the only thing I felt I could do was to draw. And I slowly figured that Pointillism was very meditative, laying those dots one at a time. So I found my own unique style eventually and I ditched the tattoo artist idea, because I’d rather be an independent artist and illustrator exhibiting my work, and I have always had a huge interest in the dark and morbid. It was the perfect combination. Also that I could create art for the music I love was a huge deal to me. I have worked as an artist in a professional way for 3 years and so much has happened in this short time period. It keeps growing with amazing opportunities for every year. So I am very grateful that so many people enjoy my art and baffled that it could happen for me. I can actually thank my anxiety a long way too, for giving me the patience and meditative skills to begin my professional art journey.

You’ve already mentioned that you created the stunning cover art for Black Fortress of Solitude – What’s the story behind this particular scene? How long did it take from genesis to final product?

– As it goes for almost all my artwork, the story is completely up to the viewer to interpret. But there is always that mystical and dark atmosphere and I think it goes for most of my artwork that there is no specific story but a feeling and an atmosphere. That’s just how I think about it, I get a feeling of something mysterious and what might lurk in the shadows deep within these woods I create.

The artwork for my album was, as said earlier, the first artwork of 2019 I created. It’s a very long process with this Pointillism. I don’t create bigass canvas artwork because it would take me a year if not longer to create something that big unless I use thicker ink pens. The album artwork took approximately 60-70 hours to create. And it’s no bigger than 20×20 cm. It was actually some of my fastest work, not hour wise but I only spend a week creating it. I usually draw on and off because it’s very exhausting work and I probably spend 1 ½ month on a single artwork depending on the size and detail. But this one I just kept going.

Black Fortress of Solitude is being released on CD via A Pile Of Graves Records. How did this come about, and how have you found working with them so far?

– It came to happen when I launched my Bandcamp page and uploaded the first track from the album in the form of an instrumental demo. I think there have only been a week and then I got contacted by Alireza, the guy who runs the label. He asked if I wanted to release an album on his label. I was very surprised that he thought I had the potential. I actually didn’t have plans at the time of releasing an album already but this got me writing more songs and suddenly there was an album. I was very new to this label thing and in general just a total rookie, so I’ve had to learn a few things about that industry. But all in all the process went pretty smooth and things have turned out the way I wanted, so I am happy to release it through A Pile of Graves. It’s a quite new underground black metal label with some really solid releases. So I am looking forward to seeing where it goes.

The album will also be released on cassette via a Danish label and later vinyl.

Í Myrkri was only formed this year, yet you’re already dropping your debut full-length – remarkably fast work. Are you going to keep this up? Will there be another Í Myrkri release before the year is out?

– Yeah I have been told that by others also, haha. Things just go faster when you’re doing it alone and with a vocalist like Lane who also works fast, it just unleashes a wave of creativity.

There will not be another release this year but I can tell you that I have fully completed an EP which will be released in early 2020 + a demo concept album in late Spring. So while I was waiting for the debut album to be mixed and mastered I got in a really creative mood and also found that writing style I wish to continue with. I am a huge fan of the Finnish black metal scene, so my next releases will have influences from that. Now I only have to wait to release all this music. My focus will now go back to creating art as I have my first solo exhibition next year, so I will be busy with that. And maybe I will have a second full length ready before 2021, that’s my ambition at least!

And finally, if I may ask a question that may be difficult to answer. Listening to and creating music, or looking at and creating visual art – you must give up one or the other, or you and everyone you care for will die. What do you choose and why?

– Aw man, that is like the toughest question you can ask haha. I know that I can’t live without music. I can’t think of a time I don’t listen to music besides when I’m asleep. And creating art is the only thing I can imagine myself doing for a living. And to work with what you love for a living is the ultimate dream for me. Both also have huge mental benefits and value to me. I honestly can’t choose! I don’t even dare to choose haha.

Sincerest thanks for your time, Simon, and congratulations on the wonderful first album. Any final words for us all?

– Thank you! It was my pleasure.

Well, I just want to say my thanks again and I hope to get some positive response and critique on my first album. Cheers!

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Black Fortress Of Solitude releases November 30th via A Pile Of Graves. Pre-orders available now.

Pre-order Black Forest Of Solitude digitally here or on CD from the A Pile Of Graves Bandcamp here.

Support Í Myrkri:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

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Heretic Artistry – An Interview with Bykürius

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Rise

Our father Lucifer

Shackle the frail God

Bind the flesh and silence the word

A vengeance wreathed in blood

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By Tom O’Dell

Soothing violins, a gentle harp flutter. This is how the first song from A Heretic Art – the first originals EP from UK-based black metal outfit Bykürius – pulls you in, creating a sense of ethereal yet sinister mystery. Choirs and chimes build and majestically ascend, before tribal drums beat a warlike rhythm; a hint at the mayhem to come.

Comprised of four full length tracks in addition to this introduction, the EP is a solid showcase of melodic black metal, with clear influences from the likes of Watain, Naglfar, and Emperor. But this is no mere cookie-cutter replica of the great and famous. The record is filled with surprises and moments that take Bykürius a step above many of their contemporaries, and showcase a wildly imaginative creative force.

First track proper, ‘Rise, Our Father Lucifer’, starts as a driving black metal track, with blastbeats, snarling harsh vocals and tremolo guitars firing on all cylinders. It’s powerful stuff, with subtle synths and reverb creating a cavernous atmosphere as magnificent as any. Yet Bykürius aren’t content to simply follow the formula as it were; with a sudden shift at the halfway point lead vocalist Jack Reynolds delivers some soaring clean vocals leading into a stunning solo, followed by an orchestral break. There’s a brief pause to catch your breath… and the riff explodes back in, raw black metal madness resumed.

And they’re not just a one trick pony. The next two tracks also take a somewhat traditional black metal formula, and imbue it with Bykürius’ unique spirit: ‘Satan’s Wretched Armies Grow’ features an angelic chorus singing Our Dark Lord’s name (like… repeatedly); and ‘Baphomet Rules Below’ brings back Jack’s clean vocals, this time weaving in and out of the harsh growls. The latter song also displays the band’s understanding of atmosphere, with a spectacularly layered extended ethereal section – all before crashing back in with a choir-driven chorus.

Commendations must also be given for the production of the record; self-produced black metal is more common than ever in this day and age, but in Bykürius’ case that hasn’t limited the band at all. As mentioned above, the mix is balanced to create the cavernous feeling that black metal thrives upon, and nothing is either too muddy or too shiny. It appears that in this case, total creative control gives this twosome total power.

Obviously, the strength of this release makes the prospect of a deeper insight into the processes behind A Heretic Art an appealing one. Luckily for our readers, I have the privilege of knowing the men behind the project, and so Black Metal Daily Overlord Aaron sent me in to pick their brains. So without further ado, read on and enter the dark and frost-bitten world of Bykürius.

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Well, here we are – hello, Jack! As a start to this little interview, maybe you could give a brief introduction to the band, and this EP, A Heretic Art?

– Hey Tom! We’re Bykürius, that’s me and my partner in crime Ethan. We’ve been making silly black metal for many moons, and the new EP A Heretic Art is the band’s first release of original material. We’re proud of it, it fucking slaps.

Now, Bykürius has already made a bit of a name for itself through your various covers albums, where you’ve tackled everything from Dio to Howard Shore. How did the decision to finally unleash some original songs come about, and what were you hoping to achieve with these new songs?

– Hmm, I think there’s a bit of putting our money where our mouth is. We’ve done lots of those covers (and they take more work than you might think!) but at a certain point it feels a bit like we’re making all these blackened versions of other people’s music… it appeals I suppose to some outsiders to the genre, which is great; we want more people to listen to black metal. But after all we’ve done so far, why not take everything we’ve learned, kick away the crutch, write our own songs for real red-blooded fans of the genre, and see if it can stand on its own two legs?

Staying briefly on the topic of your covers albums, this EP follows hot on the heels of The Veins ov History, which came out just a few weeks ago. Was this a way of getting out those last few covers that you had before diving into the world of originals? Any tracks that readers should check out in particular?

– Pretty much, it’s a covers bucket list of sorts. ‘The Court ov the Crimson King’ is a blast, it was great fun to make some Nemtheanga moves with the verse vocals. Also ‘Fire’ (the Arthur Brown song) has become a favourite of mine since the release. We wrote to Arthur asking what he thought of it. He actually took the time to listen and write us a pretty lengthy reply. I’m not convinced he’s a fan, but he was very kind and encouraging. His reply started “you have some balls asking for my opinion”, which might be my favourite thing ever. I should put that on my CV.

Whilst at first glance you might seem like a traditional Satanist black metal outfit, upon closer inspection there’s clearly an air of tongue-in-cheek about Bykürius. One only has to go to any comment section to see people asking if your band in name is actually pronounced like that! It’s a refreshing yet nuanced approach that’s sure to appeal to many black metal fans; what would you say regarding the balance of theatricality and seriousness in black metal, and what does Bykürius hope to bring to the table in that regard?

– Yeah, I mean… it’s not a complete joke! One thing I worry about is if it looks like we’re pointing and laughing at black metal, because we’re not. I guess some of it can be a bit fucking stupid, but we really do live and breathe this stuff. I don’t actually think black metal has a seriousness problem, everyone knows it’s exaggerated and absurd; whether you’re the guy on stage, or you’re a fan, or you’re writing the music. You can be completely aware of that and also still enjoy losing yourself in the drama of it all, there’s not necessarily any contradiction there.

Now, although you also handle the guitars and general arrangements in the band, I know you’re a vocalist at heart; the number of projects you’ve lent your voice to is getting quite large by now (Not to mention some guest appearances)! How long have you been involved in bands? What other projects are you involved in that might appeal to a fan of A Heretic Art?

– Oh quite a while, 10 or 12 years, something like that? It really was the classic friends from school, practicing in the garage, tormenting the neighbours, dropping the house prices. A traditional tale. The music was pretty traditional too, we basically just wanted to be Megadeth! Nothing wrong with that.

Nowadays, yeah there are quite a few projects I’ve got on the go. I’d be hard-pressed trying to sell some of them to the average Bykürius fan! I’m in a band called Asira (Ethan is as well) and we put out a good record a couple of years ago called Efference. That’s black metal-ish. “Blackened prog” I think we settled on calling it, after we kept getting Steven Wilson and Pink Floyd comparisons! We’re recording a second Asira album at the moment, that should be good.

Speaking of guest appearances, there are a few scattered throughout A Heretic Art. I remember you drafted in a group of friends to provide the epic choirs for intro track ‘Your Obsidian Labyrinth Opens’; who else lent a hand in the EP’s creation?

– Yeah, you guys killed it! That was a fun day. We had lots of friends come in on this one, as well as you lot we also had a small lady choir. That took a long time, tracking the chorus of ‘Satan’s Wretched Armies Grow’ without any of them laughing. We had Carmen King come back and play some great violin for us, she played on the first Bykürius also. Her solo in ‘Worship the Fallen’ is insanely good. I think it’s the one bit of the EP my mum can stand to listen to. We also had Freya from Cairiss come and play flute on that track. I think she was on our first two albums, always good to see her. The lovely Martin Williams (our Asira bandmate) gave us a cracking guitar solo for ‘Rise, Our Father Lucifer’. And of course my partner Sophie, who sings for Pythia, she was in the lady choir, but also has some duet parts with me in ‘Baphomet Rules Below’.

A track I really want to talk about is ‘Worship the Fallen’. After the ferocity of the symphonic and melodic black metal approach of the previous three songs, you’ve chosen to end things with a ten-minute, clean vocals-driven melancholic epic. It’s an unexpected yet triumphant end to the EP, and is sure to make the listener sit up and pay attention again. What influences went into this track, and what drove you to choose to end the album in such a powerful way?

– Well… you remember the song ‘They Rode On’, from The Wild Hunt? Basically it’s great and I wanted to do that. Watain’s best song, fuck the haters. I didn’t write it especially as a closing track, but after everything was written and we were piecing the EP together it became pretty obvious that it’s the big finish. You can’t put a song like that in the first half, if you’re going to demand ten minutes of attention then you need the listener to be on board, already invested for a few songs prior, you know? That might be my favourite one off the EP, especially the lyrics, they were so fun to write. I was listening to The Satanist loads when I wrote them, can you tell?

A Heretic Art releases digitally on September 6th; what’s next for Bykürius? Will you be looking to get it released physically, or follow it up with a full length album?

– Good question. I don’t know, for any of it! Cassettes would obviously be very grim. As for new music, I think we’ll let the dust settle a bit. I’ll focus on a few other projects for a while, we’ll see when the dark juices start flowing again.

I think all that’s left is to thank you for your time, Jack; any final words for the readers out there?

– Thanks for the natter, buddy! You all take care, worship to Satan.

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A Heretic Art self-releases September 6th.

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Pre-order ByküriusA Heretic Art on Bandcamp here.

Support Bykürius:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

ALBUM PREMIERE & INTERVIEW – Geistaz’ika’s ‘Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel’

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“GEISTAZ’IKA is the eradication of the flesh and the evocation of the spirit. A submission to darkness where the tormented creatures of the night howl their laments for all who make the voyage into the seething cauldron of the forest.”

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The Danish black metal scene truly is one of the best going around these days. With countless artists pushing boundaries, expanding the genre and seemingly releasing incredible albums on a daily basis (I’m not going to list them all here, do a quick search and be blown away if you’re unawares) it’s almost a surprise to be surprised by how good a new release is. Well, enter Geistaz’ika.

Shrouded in mystery, their debut album Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel came out of absolutely nowhere on the very last day of 2018… and I missed it. Released only digitally through the now-deleted Afgrundsvisioner Bandcamp it somehow escaped my attention, which may have tragically meant I’d go the rest of my days without experiencing it, unawares of its delights – if it wasn’t for the indomitable Signal Rex who are now unleashing the beast to the audience and in the physical formats that it deserves, and who are also partnering with us here at BMD to release the entire full stream for your perusal today.

One of the most captivatingly textured albums I’ve heard so far this year, it follows a concept through raging paths and emotive meanderings that you’ll never expect and with a potent folk-infused concoction envelops your spirit, taking you to realms of which you’ll have never dreamed. I’ve no idea who the the people behind this unique work may be (although there are a few rumours flying around), or when the project was even summoned into existence… so it’s incredibly fortunate we have one of its nameless creators here to chat with us and hopefully allow a glimmer of insight into the enigma that is Geistaz’ika.

So, you know what to do – listen to Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel in full ahead of its August 30th release date, read on below and get ready to pick yourself up an LP or CD of this incredible manifestation of ancient spellcraft when you can. Hails.

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Greetings Geistaz’ika, sincerest thanks for granting us this interview. Today we have the extreme pleasure of streaming your debut album Trolddomsejd I skovens dybe kedel ahead of its August 30th release through Signal Rex – and it’s a spellbinding journey all the way from the eerie beginnings of opener ‘O nat du skumle Hex’ to the final notes of epic closer ‘Tågedans’, possessed of an ancient magic that’s been missing from all too many recent releases. A wonderful representation of the spiritual heart of black metal. So, tell us a little about it! What was your intention with its creation?

– Thank you. It’s been a long and interesting journey shaping the album. Mainly the focus has been to create a soundtrack for the feelings and emotions rooted in Scandinavian folklore. Superstition, total depravity and submission combined; dread but also fascination for the darkness and what dwells within. Musically it needed to walk through stages of gloom, anger, desperation, resignation and also keep a straight narrative from start until the end. That was the intention.

I’m unfortunately unable to speak Danish, but Google Translate tells me the album title means “Witchcraft in the deep chain of the forest”, which is probably incorrect – although it does aptly describe the feeling the album instills in the listener. The song titles translate to things like “When The Sun Bleeds Red” and “In The Mirrored World”, which sound intriguing – what themes or message does the album carry?

– Replace chain with cauldron and the translation is almost accurate. Instead of witchcraft we used the word “sejd” which is a more specific word regarding a pagan ritual which is one of the themes of the album. The whole title is a reference to a poem by Danish 19th century writer and druid Sophus Michaëlis. The lyrics are a semi-conceptual narrative on how a person’s condemnation from her fellow man leads into the dark arts and the world beyond.

The cauldron of the forest is a symbol of the womb of the witch in where the children of the night is waiting. The latter half of the album is the individual stories of those creatures. How they came to be, and how they prey on those who seek them. Thus an era ends and a new cycle begins.

As the album progresses I can hear early Ulver vibes within these songs; which then makes me think of the now-debunked urban legend of the Norwegians recording Nattens Madrigal in a forest. I’m sure nothing as wild as that took place here, but I’m curious – were there any unique or special circumstances (physical or mental) necessary for any part of the album’s creation, either the recording process or even the writing stages?

– As I recall a hurricane was going on while we recorded the lead vocals. A Danish hurricane though, so nothing really special about that. Nothing else, but most of the album was recorded in a studio located in a forest.

Getting in the right emotional stage for writing is important, but I think it comes natural. The before mentioned feelings is still deeply rooted in many of us and it can get to you even though civilisation has progressed and superstition is more or less condemned. You don’t need to go to the graveyard and wait until the clock strikes 12 to see or feel their presence.

A surprising touch throughout the album are the choral vocals that frequently come into play – they add a whole other layer to proceedings, providing marvelous depth and gravitas. How were they recorded? Are they actual vocalizations, or synthetically created?

– They are not synthetically created. Just a singer with a microphone.

I’ve already mentioned Ulver – but there are many more artists this release reminds me of (the press release aptly mentions Isvind, Perished and Hades). Were there any artists you were knowingly inspired by during the creation of Trolddomsejd? Or conversely, did any non-musical art have any influence on the album?

– Not so many metal bands except of course the obvious ones you also mention. It’s more like short melodies or voices that can come from anywhere. You can get three notes stuck in your head for a whole day, not realizing where they came from, and then add some extra chords/voices/effects etc. and then you have the basis for the middle-section and ending of ‘Dødens Horeunge’ and the introduction of ‘Taagedans’, to name an example. Overall the music needs to reflect the emotions and atmosphere of the lyrics and the concept. It can be hard to do that in a subjective way and get it to sound like something you would actually like to hear.

Whilst knowing the personnel behind an album is definitely secondary to the music itself and can even at times distract from a pure experience of the art, I must mention that I heard rumour Nohr of Draug, Grav and a variety of other excellent projects is amongst your ranks. Now, due to the accomplished and powerful nature of the album I would guess that this is not your first foray into black metal. So I will ask: would you be willing to shed any light on who has taken part in the creation of Trolddomsejd i skovens dybe kede, or is this information forever to remain a secret?

– Nohr is having some guest appearance on this album, but not as the lead vocalist, as was in the rumors I had heard. There are a lot of guest musicians appearing on the album, some with a long background in black metal and some with less. I wouldn’t call it a secret, but I find it irrelevant so I won’t post information about the performers until I find a good reason to. But also seeing how desperate people are to get extra points on metal-archives these days I wouldn’t be surprised if it got out some time.

Following on from that, if I may press further – I have no idea how long Geistaz’ika has even been active for. How, when and why did the project come into existence?

– I have no idea either, to be honest. Some riffs/phrases/lyrics in Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel date back to the last decade. A lot has been written, re-written, recycled and re-used. The first (unreleased) rehearsal of the full length is from 2012 (as I recall), and then later on was rearranged and revived before and during the final recording which started during the summer of 2016.

The album was originally released digitally but was snapped up for CD and LP release by Signal Rex fairly quickly, I believe. Did you expect there would be so much interest in your creation? How have you found working with Signal Rex so far?

– It is correct. Since the project as mentioned had been going on for quite a while the main goal was just to finish it. Didn’t think much of what was next, and since Signal Rex was pretty quick to offer a physical release it happened by itself. But it was nice to see the album getting positive attention. Also very satisfied with what Signal Rex has done so far.

Something that I’m curious about that could just be a coincidence – that original digital release took place on 31st December 2018. Was there any special significance to this date?

– Yes, the date marks an end of an era and a new beginning.

The cover art is interesting; a pencilwork drawing of what could be a crystal ball containing an image of a swirling forest scene and shadowed body. Who is the artist? Is this intended to portray the forest of the title?

– The cover summons up the whole concept of the album in a simple way. Human despair, and then the submission, when you see it surrounded in darkness waiting for you. All portrayed in a dream(like) trance. That’s when it happens. When you can’t tell dream from reality. It’s drawn by Nohr btw.

Looking to the future, what’s next for Geistaz’ika? Are you working on any new material, or have you considered playing live?

– A new full-length is going to see the light of day. Most likely exploring deeper into the original sin, chastity and hypocrisy, but it’s still in it’s writing process.

Live-shows are also a likely possibility. We will see about that when we get there.

And finally – I try to not ask this question usually, but Geistaz’ika is such a fascinating name and I cannot find any hints as to the meaning of it. So; what is the meaning behind this name? What is it emblematic of?

– It’s a wordplay on being holy, dead and an evoked spirit at the same time. But in order to understand it you need to know Danish and some indo-European. It will be up to the ones interested to figure it out. I would be quite impressed if a non-Danish speaker did that!

Sincerest thanks for your time and the superb debut album, it truly is something special. Any final words you would like to leave us with?

– You’re welcome. I probably said enough already.

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Trolddomssejd I Skovens Dybe Kedel releases August 30th on CD, LP and digital via Signal Rex.

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Pre-order Geistaz’ika‘s Trolddomssejd i Skovens Dybe Kedel digitally from Bandcamp here, or on CD/LP from Signal Rex here on August 30th.

Support Geistaz’ika:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

ALBUM PREMIERE & INTERVIEW: Hagzissa’s ‘They Ride Along’

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Fluids shall furthermore sharpen the blade

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I’m going to cut straight to it here: we have something special for you today. Something far and away from the usual fare; something insidious and untamed. What is that something, I hear you ask? That something is the debut full-length from the mysterious and shadowed Austrian entity of Hagzissa.

Those in tune with such things will recall this enigmatic collection of souls quietly releasing a ripper demo in 2017 under the banner of Iron Bonehead Productions. That demo was raw yet shimmering with an arcane magic; bewitching the few that heard it and leaving them salivating at the thought of further delights. Now, two long years on from that auspicious first conjuration the feverish anticipation is now allayed – the four horsemen return once more through Iron Bonehead with the fully realised and blazing new form of that early work; entitled They Ride Along.

In their unique robes and with manic fervour they reap madness with their newly polished spells; eight shrieking and howling odes to the primal and otherworldly. It’s music that sounds like it’s been whipped to your ears on laughing winds as you stand in ragged cloth at the crossroads at midnight. As the press release states Hagzissa really do walk a wild path of ancient wickedness; unfettered from the norms of regular existence, dancing on that gossamer-thin line between this earthly realm… and the other.

But I don’t want to ramble on about it too much, because here to beckon you along the shadowpath is founder/vocalist/bassist B. Moser himself and he gives us a wonderfully detailed glimpse into the shrouded mysteries of Hagzissa plus the creation of They Ride Along. So free your mind, call forth the spirits, listen to the full intoxicating concoction ahead of its August 23rd release date, and read on below if you dare. Hails.

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Greetings B. Moser! I hope you are well. Your debut album They Ride Along is being premiered in full today, and it’s a wild beast of untamed black metal and diabolical grooves. So, tell us a little about it – what message does it bring, and what does it mean to you?

– First of all, I would like to thank you for the presentation of the whole album and also for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with you here.

The title They Ride Along is short for ‘They Ride Along on the Howling Winds!’ which is, I think, the third complete song I ever wrote for what turned out to be Hagzissa. It must have been sometime between 2012 and 2013 and I always used to wander about in the calm, empty fields of my small home town in absolute darkness. You know, your mind then tends to play some tricks on your senses and while walking for hours, one ultimately starts to hear and see things. Most of the time it has been very cold and moist so the winds really told me stories. But, I am aware that those kind of stories only will be told at night, at pitchest, darkest night. My home town is one of the oldest in Austria and the area is very rich of tales and lore. The devil is no stranger in those tales, but there are many twisted and bizarre figures one might stumble upon when walking all alone. It’s been alluring, a fascinating time for me. I moved away some years ago; but occasionally I go on one of those walks again and instantly recall that savage energy, which still knows how to shake me to my innermost. They truly ride along those winds!

Your 2017 demo introduced a few of these songs to us, but They Ride Along presents those tracks in a new light – the sound is greatly updated, the murk is gone and everything packs a powerful gut-punch. Is this how you always envisioned Hagzissa to sound when you were writing these songs? What was it like seeing them take their final form during the recording process?

– Honestly speaking, when I am writing songs I always rely on a certain feeling. I simply have to, as there are way too many distracting possibilities of letting music sound in a specific way. Think the instrument, playing style, one’s current condition, pedals and amps at hand, little accidents; let alone recording equipment, the room, the person behind the desk – I think you get the point. It just turned out the way it is now, because everybody had that mentioned certain feeling about it. And all that starts with the riff! If you truly feel the riff, you understand everything about it. No more alchemic formulas or mumbling “holy” words of evocation needed for actually summoning the true primal evil that is inhabiting everything around us.

Nevertheless, together we absolutely managed to put it on point. I am very glad how those songs turned out and the result is something I – and all of us – can be proud of.

Let’s head back to the beginnings of the project. Although you gave official life to Hagzissa in 2016 I read that the idea of the project predates even your (and drummer L. Pachinger‘s) other project Kringa, which was formed in 2009. This sounds fascinating, so I’d like to delve a little deeper into the story here: when was the idea for the project actually formulated, and why? Then, after all that time passing, what urges or circumstances finally led to the inception of Hagzissa?

– Well, for that question, please let me travel back in time for a bit: In my teenage years, when I slowly but steadily got obsessed with more and more dark and extreme (black) metal, I also started reading lots of obscure stuff. I have always been into mythology and folklore as to me it always seemed to deliver explanations for the irrational. People used to call it “the unspeakable”, a term that is describing respect, confusion, fear and even curiosity. If I now and then compared it with black metal, it simply meant the same to me – a resonance of the beyond. Wherever, whenever, however that may be! Don’t get me wrong here: I am all but a denier of science and research, but speaking of music, the “unspeakable” is forever to be intertwined with it and that was something I forever found a home in.

My skills though were much too weak to properly express my ideas and feelings in that kind of approach. So, luckily enough, I got to know Vritra and then-drummer Moloch in 2010, who have been jamming for some months and were happy to find a bass player/vocalist. I soon understood that Kringa, although having a similar background of dark mysticism, was bearing a quite different longing, another one and a very powerful one. I was hungry, so together we went on exploring that different kind of the “unspeakable” very thoroughly. When in 2014, L. joined through an unexpected twist of actions by our then second drummer, we sharpened our visions more and more. I never stopped to write songs in that old obsessive way I had before Kringa and eventually took action, when I crossed paths with some other individuals who shared the same madness with me and backbone L. In 2016, I felt ready for really stepping out of the shadows; L. and C. gladfully joined me and here we are.

Hagzissa is clearly steeped in themes of folklore and witchcraft – without reading the lyrics the album still appears to reference everything from The Wild Hunt to casting a circle. Given that They Ride Along is quite a personal album, how do these themes manifest in your daily lives?

– I might have covered that specific question accidentally through most of my other given answers – sorry for waffling.

The only thing I might want to add here is that one’s personal surroundings surely have a distinctive impact on the music you make. We are coming from a very old countryside – also C., who is originally from Northern Italy, the “Land of Mystery” – and if you walk around with open eyes, it is impossible to miss the history around you and take it with you. Between Hallstatt, Bohemia and the Salzburg or Bavarian bishops’ lands a lot of things did happen. Not always necessarily, but mostly of a heinous sort.

The first three tracks each have a sub-title: ‘Die Pforte (A Speech Above the Moor)’, ‘Irrsinnsdimensionen (A Bath Amidst the Wells)’ and ‘Moonshine Glance (An Iron Seed in Sour Soil)’. I know the album as a whole flows quite well, but are these tracks in particular intended to be heard as a kind of three-part interconnected suite? If so, what is it that connects them all?

– Not at all. Each of those 8 songs is intended to speak for itself. Yet, when we started working on them with the intent of creating a full-length, the track listing simply fell into place perfectly. There was no much thinking needed. The story told itself. Back in the working title period, we had a totally different listing.

At the end of ‘Moonshine Glance (An Iron Seed in Sour Soil)’, there’s an intriguing piece of what I assume to be film dialogue. A disembodied voice intones: “In the far dark corners of every human’s soul there lurks a black crouching spectre. The ghost like shadow that waits. A shrouded thing that pulsates with malignant evil. The name of that ghost, is…” and I can’t catch the last word! So, first – what is the name of the ghost, and what is the significance of this dialogue to the album?

– In all honesty, I also never caught that name correctly. And I never really wanted to know! But it fascinated me. I decided to put that speech between those two songs which are actual curses for the very sake of that itself. To give just a brief insight here: the first one is about wishing somebody spoilage, sicknesses and slowly piercing him to death in a drunken frenzy. The other one is no better intentions, but more focussed and actually based on something that could be described as Middle European Voodoo.

But, back to your question: What we have here is a part of the introduction to a recorded reading by erudite Christopher Lee. The way those words are depicting the ever-lingering subconscious horrors that might drive anyone into sickening madness just resonated with me, if you are bearing those two curses in mind.

Following on from that, are film and/or books something that you would consider to have had a notable influence on the art of Hagzissa at any point? Are there any in particular that you can suggest for people who want to dive further into the vibe and inspirations of They Ride Along?

– Yes, it had. I’d consider literature more important at the first place as it somehow spoke to me on a different level. Biggest early influence is the first part of Faust, the monument by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. There is also a great filming of a theatre play from 1960, produced by Gustaf Gründgens. Other examples: The Sandmann (1816) by E.T.A. Hoffmann, “Zauberstücke” like Der Alpenkönig und der Menschenfeind (The Alpine King and the Misanthrope, 1828) or ugly naturalist stuff like Before Dawn (1889) by Gerhart Hauptmann always kinda fascinated me and speak of another world. Moreover, I would name lesser known author Gustav Meyrink and his Walpurgisnacht (1917) and The Golem (1915).

I then developed a cineastic fascination pretty much later on. Movies like Nosferatu (1922), The Seventh Seal (1958), The Wicker Man (1973), Suspiria (1977) or even November (2017), an Estonian production might also give you an obscure insight. But the main inspiration always remains the true folklore. The subconscious, the fright of peasants and the works of the devil.

Now, the cover art is quite unique. Eschewing traditional black metal tropes, it is instead a hand-drawn image of a bowed warlock or druid, blended with a giant demonic visage. What’s the story behind this? Who is the artist, and what does it signify?

– I agree. We could not be happier about how the cover turned out to be and can not thank Giuseppe enough. He is an acquaintance of C., based in Milan and he knows a thing or two as well in the fields of ancient sorcery. I didn’t send any sketches to him or something like that, I really wanted to let him work totally free, based on my (pretty detailed) explanations on the album and each song. As you can see, he also caught himself a spirit of the night and took some rides with him, returning exhausted yet liberated! So, not only the cover art, but the inner sleeve is laden with free hand nocturnal mysteries that turned out really, really well.

The album will be available on LP and CD on the 23rd August from Iron Bonehead Productions, who also released your demo. How did you first come into contact with this esteemed label, and how has it been working with them so far?

– Well, we never really intended to sell our first promo tape on a broader level as it simply is not perfectly executed at all. Still, it already reflects exactly what we were trying to create and as we wanted to play some violet theatre live, I just uploaded a track for promotion on youtube. Not shortly after, P.K. was stumbling upon it and was asking if we had some more. I said “not enough”, but he was really into it and offered to repress them as an official Demo, heralding an album that was later to come. And here we are! When he heard the first studio recording for the album, he was confused and expecting something different. Nevertheless, he has always given full trust and support. And I gotta say, we are very happy and honoured to work with Iron Bonehead. Onwards!

I‘ve seen some footage of your robed live performances, Hagzissa in the flesh seems to be a powerful proposition and you have been playing quite a few shows. However there is one in particular I’d like to ask about: I believe you’re part of the astonishing lineup of Invicta Reqviem Mass V this year, which is one of the events I simply must attend somehow before I die. What will be in store for attendees from your set, and are there any acts on the lineup that you’re particularly keen to share the stage with? Or – are there any other shows coming up that you’re excited about?

– We haven’t been directly contacted to play, but as it seems to be in a tradition with this festival, a whole group of connected bands has been addressed, so L. and me will also be playing with Kringa and – as a live premiere – Alruna. I think the concept is quite interesting as it brings the possibility of adding an own touch anew each year while still keeping a constant. We are very curious about this event and also a bit surprised about this invitation for Hagzissa. I mean, Invicta Reqviem Mass seems to have been a gathering at deeper level of underground bands, regardless of their intensity or sheer darkness. But of course, we are very much looking forward to it and are thankful for the opportunity to play in Portugal. Also, we are keen to see Hail Conjurer – one of the more interesting among new black metal bands!

And finally – what lies in the misted future for Hagzissa? Have you begun conjuring any new material?

– There is actually some new material and also a split with a close band on the horizon, but I don’t want to go too much into detail here now.

For the moment, we are gladful about the first reviews and feedbacks for They Ride Along but also remain very curious about the further reception of this twisted piece. We shall see.

Furthermore, we have some stages to share with great bands in the nearer future: “Celebrare Noctem Fest” with Blasphemy, Mortuary Drape and Ritual Death among others shall be glorious! And being part of “A Sinister Purpose Fest” in Leipzig is no less of an honour. Some other gigs will be announced in the future.

Sincerest thanks for your time, it’s been a pleasure. Are there any final words or wisdoms you would like to leave us with?

– The pleasure is ours. Final words? Don’t let yourself get tricked by summer’s heat. Any season has its demons. And the acedia that is brought to you by the noonday devil is of a specially awful kind. Thank you.

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They Ride Along releases August 23rd on LP and CD formats via Iron Bonehead Productions.

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Support Hagzissa:

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LABEL SPOTLIGHT: Realm and Ritual

Awakened from elder shores in the midst of Anno Domini 2018, US tape label Realm and Ritual has only been active for about a year but has fast established itself as one of the labels out there doing it right. Focusing purely on the underground and lovingly hand-dubbing carefully curated releases that otherwise might not have seen a physical manifestation, main man SG is right on the money and if there’s any justice left on this wretched earth, his label would be huge based solely on how much of a solid dude he is. So, for our next Label Spotlight, we have a chat to the man himself and take a look at a few recent releases – plus he has a special deal in store for all Black Metal Daily readers. Check it out below.

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Hello SG! Thanks for speaking to us today. As everyone should know, you’re the man behind the relatively new yet excellent tape label Realm and Ritual. So, tell us a little about it! How did the label begin? What made you want to start a cassette label?

– Hey Aaron, thanks for the kind words. I’ve always wanted to run a label but the time never seemed to be right until recently. Last year I was in between musical projects, I had a little bit of disposable income, and felt like I had enough initial knowledge to get something started. I was interested in starting a cassette label specifically because I am sort of obsessed with tape. I collect VHS, Betamax, and obviously cassettes. It’s part nostalgia – I remember my friend taping me Life is Peachy when I wasn’t allowed to buy the CD – and the desire to have physical objects in a digital world. They are cheaper to produce than vinyl and the physical form resonates with me more than CDs.

The manifesto on the label Facebook page contains a rather beautiful quote: “When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow”. Where is this quote from, and what does it mean in relation to Realm and Ritual?

– The quote is from “A Wizard of Earthsea” by Ursula K. Le Guin. The quote, in my mind, speaks to a balance of the world; a duality. Regarding black metal, the music I like the most is both triumphant and defeated, beautiful and grotesque. I want to listen to music that speaks to the depth of human experience, the good and the bad and every nuance in between.

Realm and Ritual has so far dealt mainly in DIY cassette hand dubs, but I believe (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that you’ve looked into releasing pro-tapes. I love the hand dub approach, but why do you personally like them? Are hand dubs something you will continue to do throughout the life of the label?

– I’ve released two pro-dubbed tapes but you’re correct that the majority of my releases have been hand-dubbed. I personally like them because they allow me to have a role in the entire production of the tape and allow me to do smaller runs. I also dub everything in real time and while it’s certainly not time-efficient, the process feels honest to me. As long as I continue to do smaller runs (less than 50 tapes) I will most likely continue to hand-dub tapes.

Whilst the label has only been active for less than a year, I’m sure you’ve had quite an experience running it so far. What have you found the most challenging thing about running a label to be, and what are the most positive things you’ve discovered?

– I think the hardest thing for me is determining the appropriate amount of promotion for each release. There is so much new music coming out every day that it’s disorienting. I don’t want my releases to get lost in the shuffle but also don’t want to aggressively spam social media either. In terms of the positives, running the label has made me more active in consuming new music and has been a good vehicle for meeting other people interested in some pretty niche genres of music. I’ve done some tape trading with other labels I really like, Winter Sky out of Canada and Pacific Threnodies and Mospharic out of California, which has also been really cool.

Now, something I’m sure at least a few readers will want to know: what do you look for when hunting new artists for your roster, and how do you discover these artists? Do you accept submissions?

– I am always accepting submissions. I have found artists through social media (I ended up working with a few artists I met on Order Ov the Black Arts) and through tags on Bandcamp. I want to work with artists that have a fully fledged concept for their release and music that connects to me personally. I want to release the stuff I listen to with a special nod toward Atmo-Black, RABM, Depressive, and Dungeon Synth. I also want to prioritize working with POC, women, and LGBTQ folks because I think they are hugely unrepresented in the Black Metal/DS communities.

It’s been a more turbulent than usual time for black metal lately, with much focus and discussion on the political side of things – shows are being cancelled, while seemingly every two minutes a thread somewhere becomes a dumpster fire of hurled accusations of genre tourist scene policing or nazi enabling. Where does Realm and Ritual position itself in the landscape of this debate?

– Realm and Ritual is 100% committed to anti-fascism. I actively release red and anarchist black metal and will not release music from national socialist musicians or nazi sympathizers. I tend to avoid the aforementioned contentious threads because it often feels like a waste of time. For what it’s worth, I don’t think the problem is that there’s a huge nazi population in black metal but rather that there’s a issue with privilege. There is a willingness to support shitty belief systems and behavior because it tends not to affect the people providing that support. If you’re more upset about shows being cancelled than with the marginalization of minority communities, I would argue that you should reassess your priorities.

Tell us a little about the man behind the tapes – what’s your musical background and how did you arrive at black metal? What do you listen to on your own time, and do you have any favourite releases from this year so far?

– I’ve always been involved in music in some way though my arrival at black metal has only happened in the last few years. I found my musical tastes stagnating a little and not really finding anything new that I loved. I decided to get out of my comfort zone (punk, skramz, emo) and start listening to black metal and I was hooked almost immediately. It’s satisfying to me to have so much new material coming out all of the time and to have a huge backlog of classics to experience for the first time.

My favorite BM releases this year are: None – Damp Chill of Life, Numenorean – Adore, Falaise – A Place I Don’t Belong To, Uhtceare – El Genocidio Primordial Llevará El Nombre Infinito De La Empatía, and Stronghold Guardian – Westward. This is really just the tip of the iceberg though, I’ve really enjoyed all of the Gilead Media, Fólkvangr Records, and Death Kvlt Productions releases.

My favorite DS/Dark Ambient/Neo-folk releases this year are: Malfet – The Way to Avalon, Tir – Urd, Skuld & Verdandi, Fogweaver – Self-Titled, Secluded Alchemist – Wintry Beauty of Nature/A Glacial Grave, and Torchlight – Witchcraft. I’ve also loved everything from Out of Season and Akashic Envoy.

If you could entice one artist or score one particular album to release through Realm and Ritual, what would it be?

I love questions like this but find them almost impossible to answer. I suppose that any of my top albums of the year that don’t have a tape release. I understand that vinyl and CD is the standard for many musicians but I love tape as a physical form and would like to see more and more artists continue to release music on cassette.

And finally – you’ve been putting out some great stuff lately, everything from dungeon synth to atmospheric and raw black. Talk us through your thoughts on a few of your latest releases and what you have in store for us in future, if you would!

Over the summer I’ve released four tapes, Awenden (Cascadian BM), Grimtone (Second wave worship from Sweden), Ururdhagaz (Old School DS with some modern trappings from Sweden), and today I announced a release from Wooded Memory (Romantic DS from the US) [and it’s already sold out! – ED.]. I’m trying to maintain a balance of various styles of black metal and dungeon synth. I know there are some pitfalls to releasing music that sounds dramatically different in some cases but I was inspired by other labels that have maintained a diverse roster and have regular supporters.

As for upcoming releases, I have a few projects on the horizon which should be out in September/October:

– Orb of the Moons (debut album from ambient/DS artist)
Apothecary (Depressive BM with lots of dark ambience)
Lunar Ark (This is actually my band. Doomy post-metal)

In addition, I have two more tapes in the works with a project from Italy and one from Russia. I’m not quite ready to announce those yet.

Thanks again for your time, SG. Power to Realm and Ritual, may it live long and prosper. Any final words you would like to leave us with?

Thanks so much for doing this. For final words, I’d just like to offer a discount for all Black Metal Daily readers until the end of August. Use code “bmd” at checkout and get 25% your entire order for anything on our Bandcamp.

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…Cheers, SG. To take advantage of this incredibly generous offer, head on over to https://realmandritual.bandcamp.com and snap everything up while you can. Aside from some excellent older releases we’ve previously covered like Raat‘s Once and True or Staurophagia‘s Sacrifice of the Wind (amongst others), they also have a few copies of the following recent gems left on hand… don’t sleep.

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Artist: Grimtone

Title: Morte In Vitam

First up, the ineffable triumvirate of Grimtone play ripping Swedish black with a searing fire at its core, exclusively. This album was released under two different titles this year; I’ve no clue why it was changed for the later CD issue but Morte In Vitam is the original title this tape has been bestowed with, and it slaps. From the impassioned hyperblast of tracks like ‘Djävulens Tyrann‘ to the crust-ish carnage of ‘Ur Avgrunden Född’ there’s just enough variety injected into the age-old Scandinavian attack to grab your attention and hold it for the duration; and all delivered with admirable ferocity. These gents can write a riff, too – grab this on smoke-coloured hand dubbed cassette. Very nice.

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Artist: Awenden

Title: Awenden

This enigmatic US post-black crew (or solo project?) only formed last year and wasted no time crafting a compelling debut EP that aaaaalmost feels like it could be an album if there were another track added. This is the type of post-black that invites deep internal contemplation – swathes of ethereal synth flow within rugged, soaring compositions that feel both vital and yet despondent all at once, effortlessly brewing a darkness that will affect you for days. There aren’t too many vocals to be found here either which, instead of detracting from the experience, only adds to the immersion as the emotional dynamism of the (often surprisingly technical) music is given full room to breathe and work its considerable magic.

Refreshing to listen to and with wonderful, weighty atmospherics; pick it up at name your price download or on putty-coloured, hand-dubbed and hand stamped cassette.

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Artist: Ururdhagaz

Title: Någonstans i en Tid..

And the last of the three we’re considering today (these three are the only recent releases that aren’t sold out yet, so be quick) is Någonstans i en Tid.., the debut of Swedish dungeon synth artist Ururdhagaz. Straight up, this had me hooked from the opening seconds of the first track ‘Skogen Magiska Kraften’ – the track is catchy as fuck and I was immediately sold on the haunting, percussion-driven grandeur of what I was hearing. The percussion doesn’t hang around for the entire (and rather varied, You’ll even find some choral vocalisations in later cut ‘Den Magiska Hymnen’) release, but that doesn’t matter. The best DS is transportative and what Ururdhagaz does is sweep you away to the deepest candlelit hallways through sheer vibe and austere melody.

A great debut from the project, grab it on black, hand-dubbed and hand stamped cassette before the remaining few copies vanish into the ether. Hails.

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Support Realm and Ritual:

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

Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Moral Destruction – An Interview with Nihility

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Let the darkness take over all there is

Let us drown in the endless void

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It’s not very often I get to say something is “brutal” here on the pages of BMD. Black metal just does not lend itself easily to brutality, so it has to sneak in via some good ol’ blackened death mayhem… which is exactly what Portuguese aggressors Nihility bring to the table with their debut album Thus Spoke The Antichrist. And guess what? It is fucking brutal.

For a debut, their polished attack is mightily impressive – which is partially explained by the fact that they’ve been a unit since the heady days of 2012. What took them so long to release some recorded material? No idea, but the wait has clearly paid off. Crushing riffs rain down in bludgeoning fashion, scattered pinch harmonics and whipping solos twisting the knife before a subversive dose of black tremolo venom creeps in to deal a killing blow. The songs are great, the roaring vocal assault is carnage incarnate; these men are putting their best foot forward with a memorable, muscular album that ensures repeat listens even as it rips off your head and shits down your neck.

Given that my own personal philosopical leanings mostly line up with a sort of teleological nihilism, when a promo shows up in my inbox from an artist called Nihility there’s no way I’m not going to check it out; I liked what I heard so much I also reached out the the gents for a super quick chat about all things Thus Spoke The Antichrist. So, check that out below and subject yourselves to their lethal assault if you haven’t already – out now on CD via Black Lion Records.

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Greetings Nihility! It is a pleasure to speak with you today. Your debut album Thus Spoke The Antichrist is finally upon us after what I believe was a fairly long gestational period; what are your thoughts on the album, and how does it feel that it is now available for us to hear?

– Greetings!!! We feel over the moon to be honest, we took the time we need to craft what we thought was our sound and our image. We think that it came out exactly how we wanted!

It’s an incredibly powerful and fairly technical album, and it all sounds great. What was the creative process like? Do you feel like you have achieved everything you have aimed for in the recording?

– The creative process always involves us sitting down and our guitar players coming in with riffs, and them we work around them and all of us have a voice on the matter. As far as production goes, we have to give a big shoutout to Pedro Mendes of Ultrasound Studios, he nailed what we wanted the album to sound like!

I can definitely hear the blackened death metal stylings of, say, Behemoth and Belphegor featuring heavily in your sound; were they a strong indicator of which direction you wanted to go in with the project? Do you consider any other artists as having had a particular influence on your sound, or musical tastes?

– Belphegor had zero effect on our sound because the only person that listened to belphegor was the vocalist Mário and he only started listening to it recently, we are all big Behemoth fans and we think that our influences are more derived from them. Other than that you can say that bands like Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Decapitated, Slayer and many others were big inputs in the way we crafted the album.

Time for a little history. You’ve been active since 2012 but I cannot find much information about you online. How did you all come to meet and form the entity known as Nihility? Did any of you have experience with other previous extreme metal projects?

– The band formed in 2012 but from there on out has changed a lot including members, style and even lyrical content. Basically we met each other through mutual friends that had bands themselves and would meet in concerts, bars etc. Until one day we went to the studio and the last person to enter was through our bass player at the time that introduced Mário to be the vocalist. Our drummer Luís has two other bands, namely Lyfordeath and In Vein; our guitar player Renato has a band called The Small Hours, Miguel Seewald our bass player played for Equaleft before playing with us, and Miguel Vanzeler and Mário have never had a band previous to Nihility that ever passed the ‘garage days’.

Nihilism not only features heavily in your lyrical themes (and even the name of your band), but you apparently consider it a way of life. This is a philosophy that I personally feel very close to, but for those who are unaware: could you explain the ideas and arguments behind nihilism and how it pertains to your everyday life? Do you identify with a more existential, or perhaps metaphysical viewpoint?

– Basically nihilism is the philosophy of denial, our point of view is a more passive nihilism: with the destruction of morals others will take their place, more suitable to the human being that carries them. Nihilism has a lot of different variations, but in this album we took our influences more from the book ‘Antichrist’ by Friedrich Nietzsche.

Following on from that, I notice the title of the album appears to be a mash-up of ‘The Antichrist’ and ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’, by Friedrich Nietzsche (a favourite of mine). Was this indeed the inspiration?

– As stated in the last answer yes, yes it was.

For the cover art you have selected a beautiful illustration from Gustav Doré; ‘The Last Judgement’, if I am not mistaken. What is the significance of this particular piece to you?

– We think that it captures the essence of what the music transmits; it can be beautiful but at the same time can show darkness, disgrace and doom – which is exactly why we chose this illustration.

In other good news you recently released an official video for the album track ‘Shallow Ataraxia’, in collaboration with Soulreaper Studios. Can you tell us a little about this?

– Soulreaper is owned by a good friend of ours named Rui Carneiro. When we came to him to work with us he was more than glad to help, he also understood what we wanted to transmit in the video.

Thus Spoke The Antichrist is unleashed under the banner of the great Swedish label Black Lion Records. How did this happen? Are you pleased with this partnership so far?

– Yes, we are very pleased, this came about through our manager Guilherme Henriques. He was the one that got us the deal to work with Black Lion Records.

And finally… the Portuguese scene is in incredible form lately, with some fantastic bands annihilating the world stage. How do you feel about the extreme music coming from your country, and could you suggest any underground bands we could check out that you believe deserve more exposure?

– I could name hundreds of bands but Black Cilice, Analepsy, Lyfordeath, In Vein, Gaerea, Dallian, Sotz, Urban War those may the ones that can make the most waves happen. The extreme music coming out of Portugal is increasing exponentially and we think Portuguese bands will be featured a lot more in international billboards!

Sincerest thanks for your time and words Nihility, all power to you. Any final words of wisdom for us all?

– We extend our sincerest thanks to all of you as well and it has been a pleasure answering all your questions.

Thus Spoke the Anitchrist is available now via Black Lion Records.

Purchase Thus Spoke the Antichrist digitally or on CD from Black Lion Recordshere or from the Nihility Bandcamp here.

Support Nihility:

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ALBUM PREMIERE and Interview: Malacath’s ‘The Elders Below’

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A soul chained down

And hope I do forgo

For all my eternity owed

To the elders below

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Hails and salutations, children of the night… or anyone sitting staring at their phone or laptop. You know those unassuming albums that at first might not really stand out to you for any particular reason but once you listen to them they work their subtle magic on your brain, assimilating themselves with your essence and before you know it becoming a fast favourite? Well, the exclusive full stream we are proud to present for you today is most definitely one of those (although not entirely – it is flying under the banner of Fólkvangr Records, so you already know it’s gonna be some good shit).

This stealth bomber par excellence is The Elders Below by US solo project Malacath. Borne of two years of “contemplation and exploration”, main man Lykos (with assistance from the mysterious Hiraeth on the sticks) crafts ’90s influenced black metal of such unexpected immersive pull and emotional weight that you’ll return to it again and again… like I have, this album has been one of my go-to’s since I first heard it. To give an idea of exactly how much I like it, when the latest Ashbringer dropped I only lasted two songs – then put this back on instead.

The qualities that this album has can be pretty much summed up by the title track, ‘The Elders Below’. It’s a song that takes all the best parts of early Scandinavian black, blends it with a more modern style of atmosphericism and proceeds to skillfully compile it all into an incredibly dynamic and well structured journey that emanates deep integrity rather than hollow emulation. At first you might think you’re going to be listening go some solid enough black metal, but by the end of it you’re completely taken; claws to the sky and totally in thrall. And that’s what The Elders Below is – a remarkable journey from beginning to end that will take you by surprise and not let you go.

That title track is by far not the only gem to be found in the five compositions on offer and we are privileged to not only be presenting all of them to you in the exclusive full stream of The Elders Below today, but we also have Lykos himself here to tell us all about it as well. So listen deeply, read on for our chat with him and hit up Fólkvangr for CD and cassette pre-orders ahead of its July 26th release (fifty copies each).

I’ll leave you with some great advice from the label: “if you’re a fan of Drudkh, Falls Of Rauros or atmospheric black metal in general, you need this album”.

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Hello Lykos! It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you… and another notable pleasure is that we’re premiering the full stream of the third Malacath full-length The Elders Below here today! So tell us – what inspired the creation of this latest album, and do you feel you have achieved everything you wanted to with it?

– Hello! Thank you for taking the time to do this. I can’t say there is really any one particular thing that inspired the creation of this album, it was more so a result of my constant desire and need to create. My original intention was only to write an EP with a couple of tracks and over time it developed into the full-length album it is today. I would say I have done everything and more that I wanted to do with it, it grew to become so much bigger than what I had originally envisioned.

Now, the album title and cover art seem vaguely Lovecraftian, but Malacath seems to be a reference to The Elder Scrolls. Having not had the opportunity to read the lyrics as of yet, I’m curious – do either of these themes feature heavily within the songs? If not, what subjects do you touch upon?

– The themes of the album are not strictly Lovecraft derived, but they are certainly inspired by his work and the worlds he created. The idea of elder gods in a world beneath is the central theme throughout the album, and the events that transpire as they reclaim the world above. Much like my previous work with Malacath the lyrics are meant to tell a story that is open to interpretation. Much of it is allegorical to the feelings I have surrounding life in general, and much of it is also imagery to match the music that is playing. I don’t like to get too specific with my intentions with things; the idea is that, should someone decide to read the lyrics, they can make of them what they will. An open ended story was the idea, set against a world that reflects the more negative aspects of my perception of life.

The Elders Below continues the sonic evolution of the project, but in a way that I feel is more of a refinement from 2017’s great No Sense in Self Worth (The Dissolution of Wish and Dream). Would this be how you view the progression yourself? Did you approach the writing or recording process differently for this release?

– I would definitely agree that much of The Elders Below is a refinement of No Sense in Self Worth. Quite literally in some instances, as some of the riffs present here were in their earliest stages during the writing of that album but were not developed further as I did not feel they fit with the vision I had for it. The writing and recording of The Elders Below was very much a departure from the process I have done for every other previous release. Much of it was actually structured with two of the members of the live band for Malacath. With every previous release I have written the music and structured it entirely by myself, so that was certainly a change and, I think, added an interesting and different dynamic to the songs. For the recording end of things, the biggest change is the kind of equipment I used. This is the first album I have recorded with a full guitar rig instead of a small combo amp, because I believed that the album would benefit from a fuller guitar sound and a slightly less trebely and abrasive production. Though I am happy that it is still very much a raw sounding album, I think the overall guitar and bass tones being slightly clearer lends itself well to the music being played.

Speaking of No Sense… you had quite a few guest spots on that album – are there any this time around? If so, what did they bring to the table?

– There were not really any guest spots this time around. I had a specific idea for the lyrics that I wanted to attempt to write myself. That being said, the lyrics for ‘Into the Nebulous Black’ are very much inspired by the writing style of Satanist from Bog of the Infidel, who wrote the lyrics for No Sense in Self Worth’s title track.

One thing I really enjoy about The Elders Below (and Malacath in general, really) is the variety you’ve packed into it; no two tracks are exactly the same. But the whole thing also remains remarkably coherent, which ensures the album feels like a journey – you start in the pensive ‘For My Eternity Owed’ and the flow of the album takes you through a range of emotions and places until you finally end up at the crushing agony of ‘Into the Nebulous Black’. Is this narrative-style approach something you intentionally set out to do when you create an album?

– Yes, that is my exact intention. I try to present an album essentially as a single listening experience broken up into movements. That is probably the best way I can describe the idea. A journey from beginning to end telling a story not just lyrically, but musically as well. Albums structured like this have always been my favorite, so that is what I try to do as well. To be honest I am not the best with writing lyrics, so I try and structure the music itself to tell the story for me.

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Although everything on the album is great, if I had to pick a favourite it would by far be the titular ‘The Elders Below’. The entire composition hits me just right but I am particularly taken with certain riffs and progressions – I mentioned to a friend that it even sounded like parts of Dimmu Borgir‘s classic Stormblåst updated with a more modern atmospheric feel. That’s just a small part of the influences to be found, though – you clearly appreciate the old-school roots of the genre. Is there anything on the album that you would consider a direct homage? Or, do you have any favourite moments yourself?

– There are quite a few parts I consider a direct homage to different bands that have inspired me, especially in the song ‘Reclamation’. I started Malacath out of an undying love of the earliest black metal bands that I would listen to, be that Darkthrone, Bathory or Sargeist etc; and from there developed my own writing style and direction. The old guard, however will always be my biggest musical inspirations, and I like to give nods to them from time to time. As for my favorite part of the album, I think the section following the clean part of the title track is probably my favorite.

Now, this might sound a little strange, so bear with me. When I first heard opener ‘For My Eternity Owed’ with its ambient shore-borne mists and contemplative melancholia, I was immediately transported to a scene in my mind and thought to myself “this feels like I’m standing on a cliff overlooking the sea in New Hampshire”. Which in itself is odd, because I’ve never been – I think I was connecting it somehow to a Beorn’s Hall release. Lo and behold, I’m later looking up information about you for this interview and discover that you are actually from West Swanzey in New Hampshire! Admittedly what I experienced was most likely a coincidence based on something I subconsciously saw, but you never know. Anyway, it got me thinking – was there some type of local influence intended in this opening piece? Did you collect the field recordings yourself?

– There is very much a local influence to be found. I’ve lived in New Hampshire for my entire life, and it is really the only place I think I could ever call home. The sounds reminded me of the winds at a shore line which is why I chose them. I think it really helps set the stage for the journey that is to come. I did not collect the field recording myself, unfortunately, though I wish I had. I can only imagine what it must have been like to actually be there when they were recorded.

Following on from that – I’ve since learned that Rognvaldr from Beorn’s Hall actually mastered the album at The Hall Studios! In my opinion it sounds utterly superb. Are you happy with the overall sound? Would you say you’re close with the Beorn’s Hall guys and the rest of the collected NHBM artists?

– I am definitely very happy with the overall sound of the album. This is the first time I have ever had anyone else involved with the production side of a Malacath album and I think Rognvaldr did a fantastic job. I consider the Beorn’s Hall guys to be good friends, as well as many of the others involved with Black Metal in New Hampshire. It is not a large group of people, but it is a group that I believe has a true appreciation for the genre.

I previously mentioned the Lovecraftian feel of the cover art; it’s quite compelling. Who is the artist? Did you work closely with them during the creation of the piece?

– The artwork was supplied by Moonroot Art. The cover was actually something that he had already made which we then licensed, but it captured the feeling of the album incredibly well, almost as if we had commissioned it from him personally. Definitely very happy to have been able to use the piece.

The album is being released on July 26th through one of BMD‘s favourite labels, Fólkvangr Records – and I believe there will be not only the usual tapes, but digipacks too. How did this partnership eventuate, and are you pleased with the results thus far?

– I was put into contact with Fólkvangr through the guys in Beorn’s Hall actually. We had been in talks about doing a release of some kind for a while and in that time I finished recording the album so we moved forward from there. I have been extremely pleased with the results so far. Mark is a great guy and his genuine interest in the bands he signs is a refreshing sight to see. I am usually very hesitant to involve any outside source into Malacath, but I am extremely happy to have put that aside and work with Fólkvangr.

And finally… what’s lies in the future for Malacath? Are there any shows coming up, or any more material in the works?

– There is always something stirring in my mind. I have big plans for the next release, but I intend on taking my time getting there. We’ll play a few shows here and there, but not too many. I play in several other bands and am actually getting ready to record a full length for my death metal band Angel Morgue, so Malacath will be resting for some time until I can dive into my next venture with my full attention.

Once again, sincerest thanks for your time! Really enjoying the album, it’s been one of my go-to’s since I’ve heard it. Any final words or wisdoms you would like to leave us with?

– Thank you for supporting Malacath and for supporting underground black metal.

“The elder among the men looked deep into the fire and spoke loud with pride

Tomorrow is a fine day to die”

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The Elders Below will be available on cassette and digipack CD July 26th via Fólkvangr Records. Pre-orders available now.

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Purchase The Elders Below on CD or cassette from the Fólkvangr Records webstore here, or digitally from the Malacath Bandcamp here.

Support Malacath:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

Black Storms and Black Thorns – An Interview with Grimdor

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Repulse the Orcs

The Orcs are coming

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The oft-BM-associated genre of Dungeon Synth has always been woefully under represented on the crumbling (virtual) pages of Black Metal Daily. I do pay a little attention to it in passing but am not a connoisseur by any means; plus nobody else on staff is either… hence it never really shows up unless it’s a black metal / DS hybrid. Which, happily, is what we have for you here today: Stone of the Hapless, the upcoming EP from Tolkien themed lo-fi BM / DS / ambient duo Grimdor.

Well, we have an interview with main composer Grimdör himself, to be more precise – his cohort Narzug is AWOL (which is the case for the EP as well, but it doesn’t harm the results at all). To give a quick rundown of the five pieces on offer: ‘Black Storm’ is where the dungeon synth-esque ambience comes in as rain pours down, creating a suitably immersive atmosphere before the primitive tensions of ‘Repulse the Orcs’ storm from the forest to begin the battle. Lo-fi they say and lo-fi it is; the type of crisp rawness and razor throat that hits just right. ‘Death of Glaurung’ then ratchets it all up a notch with some interesting tremolo work that weaves in and out of the rhythm, whilst ‘The Black Thorn of Brithil!’ is a short simple riff cycled over for narrative effect, bridging the gap to the superbly morose penultimate track ‘Deers Leap’. My personal favourite of the album it’s a mesmerizing trip through Burzum-esque trance, vocals seething with crawling menace… and it’s also the perfect lead-in to the album closer and title track ‘Stone of the Hapless’ which is essentially a redux of the opening piece and together with it provide fitting and emotive bookends for the journey undertaken.

Picked up for a cassette release by the excellent Akashic Envoy Records, it’ll be dropping on the twelfth of July but only in a limitation of 25 copies – so check out our quick chat with Grimdör below and be ready in about a week’s time to snap one of these up before they all disappear.

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Hello Grimdör! Thanks for speaking with us today. I’ve been really digging your latest EP Stone of the Hapless, which was released back in May and is now copping a well-deserved tape release through Akashic Envoy Records. With the benefit of hindsight, how do you feel about the EP and how it has been received?

– Hello! Well I can start off by saying that I feel the EP has been very well received, it seems it has gotten more attention than the previous releases. It’s been really good for the band, we are very content with it.

Your work is very influenced by Tolkien and his middle-earth legendarium and appears to reference happenings like the death of Glaurung, first of the dragons, at the hands of Túrin Turambar – so I’m curious, do you follow any particular narrative structure across the EP and only write about the happenings of The Silmarillion, for example? If not, what particular areas of his work do you touch upon thematically, and why?

– Well the previous releases were very random with the stories but on this release we focused on the Children of Hurin only, particularly in the last chapters following the love and curse between Turin and Niníel. That is what this album is really about, Narzug felt it was a very powerful moment in the story so we decided to go with it.

On both Stone of the Hapless and your debut The Lonely Mountain you have a great sound that calls to mind aspects of the early Norwegian scene – but despite that, both releases are quite different to each other. What led to you switching it up (relatively speaking) for the new EP and making some changes to your sound?

– We try to play the style we love and grew up with. Black Metal has evolved in different ways but we rather try to keep the original sound going of the early second wave, and with the new EP I had to try and write very different songs because I didn’t want to repeat the same album all over again. So, I tried to change things up a bit with a few new and different influences, without losing the original idea.

Now, I believe Grimdor is usually a two-piece entity that consists of Narzug and yourself, but for this EP Narzug appears to be absent and you have taken care of all music and lyrics, with some guest vocalists filling the position. What’s the story behind this?

– Yes, I wrote the lyrics this time. It was my first time writing lyrics for the band due to Narzug’s very tight schedule, for the same reason and a few personal reasons he couldn’t contribute vocals for the album, So I had a few friends in mind who could fill in for vocal duties and it turned out really great in the end. Narzug seemed to really dig it as well.

Speaking of the guest vocalists, you’ve managed to score yourself the throats behind three impressive project names: Lord Ensamkeit, Erythrite Throne and Coniferous Myst, who those with even a passing interest in the current Dungeon Synth scene are sure to recognize. How did you manage this, and can you tell us a little about their contributions / what it was like working with them?

– Yes you are correct, they are very special and talented guys and I am very thankful for their contributions. I know them because of the Dungeon Synth scene, it is still a very new and young movement and everyone pretty much knows each other… they are close friends of mine so it was easy to ask, and working with them was great! It happened really quick too, three vocal tracks were recorded in 48 hours.

The cover art is great, I’m quite partial to this pencilwork style. Who is the artist, and as it seems to be a depiction of the aforementioned Túrin Turambar, was it created specifically for the EP?

– The artwork was done by Heraldo Mussolini. We had a few ideas for the album cover but one day I happened to come across this artwork online and thought it would be great! I contacted Heraldo and he gave us the OK to use it; we are very glad we did because everyone loves it.

Now here’s one that’s not EP related as such, I’m just intrigued. A while back I received a Bandcamp message from you about social media censoring – what was that all about? Have you pulled out of various social networks, and if so, why?

– Yes we did, we had our accounts deleted twice (on Instagram) with no explanation of why. Frustrated, we pulled out of social media after that for a while… but now we are back and hope it doesn’t repeat again.

As previously stated, the cassette edition of the album is being released via Akashic Envoy Records. How have you found working with them thus far?

– I was suggested to AER by Wyrm of Erythrite Throne and I am glad I ended up working with them for this release. We have been preparing this cassette release very closely together, so yeah it’s been awesome.

Going back to the sound of the EP for minute – I’m a big fan of the raw, ancient vibes of all your offerings to date, including the purely dark ambient / dungeon synth single from earlier in the year Battle at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. It’s all perfectly immersive. What sort of gear or particular techniques have you used to achieve the sound of each release?

– That particular release was done only using VST’s programs, the other albums were pretty much most recorded in one-shot live recordings using cheap instruments, amps and pedals. Nothing special or flashy, and for production we want that lo-fi raw stuff like the Transilvanian Hunger, Deathcrush and Ancient Woods sound. I mixed and mastered everything myself. I’m not an expert, but I tried.

And finally – what’s next for Grimdor? I see much of your material has been recorded as far back as 2016. Are you sitting on any more gold that you will release soon, or do you have any new compositions in the works?

– I do have some unreleased unfinished material, like an unreleased track that will come from a reissue of the Lonely Mountain EP by Lost Armor Records on limited cassette, so lookout for that. Plus, we are constantly writing new music for the new album but we’re not sure when that will drop. It could be sooner, or later.

Sincerest thanks once again for your time, Grimdör. Any final words you would like to leave us with?

– Thank you for the interview, support to the underground!

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Stone of the Hapless will be available in a limited run of 25 tapes on July 12th via Akashic Envoy Records.

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Purchase Stone of the Hapless digitally on Bandcamp here, or on cassette from the Akashic Envoy Records webstore here on July 12th.

Support Grimdor:

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Cosmic Horrors – An Interview with Count Bergaby of HEXETH

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The Cursed One

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Chances are, if you’re reading this site – and prepare to be dazzled by my powers of deduction – it’s fair to say that you might like black metal. And if you like black metal then there’s also a sizeable chance you’ve come across the name Count Bergaby before – the man is ridiculously prolific with Encyclopedia Metallum listing him as having no fewer than eight active projects (Shezmu, Complot!, Moulin Banal, Palmistry, Pénombre, Sadomagickal Seducer and Warslaves are his others, for those playing at home) and most of those with multiple releases in the last couple of years to boot. It’s an impressive body of work, for sure; but nothing the Québécois native has put his name to yet is as twisted, technical, oppressive and just plain fucked-up as The Hexeth.

It’s the latest chapter in the tale of Hexeth, his warped sci-fi inspired project of swarming, coruscating horrors and frantically convoluted layers of dissonant black death negativity – a single track, almost twenty-five terrifying minutes long and continuously mutating the entire time. This time he eschews the narrative he has almost constantly given throughout each release of the project (a tale of a beast named The Hexeth, making it’s way across the galaxy towards Earth) in favour of instead exploring a descriptive analysis of the titular creature itself through sound… plus, in keeping with the other entries in the series the album also has no lyrics; instead it’s the Count expressing the feelings and visions of the character via a wordless language of his own invention.

Is this the best thing he’s ever done? It’s definitely the most complex, and it may even be my personal favourite of all his works. Originally released digitally on the first of March, Grey Matter Productions have bestowed upon it a glorious etched EP release – and we have had the great privilege and pleasure of Count Bergaby himself stopping by to chat about it and answer some follow up questions to an already great interview he did with Indy Metal Vault back in March, that you can also read here. So get keened up for pre-orders to drop on July 5th (this thing will sell FAST… but if you miss it tapes will also be forthcoming via The Alchemy Lab Records), listen if you haven’t already, and read on below for further insight into the world of The Hexeth and its talented creator.

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Hello Count Bergaby! I hope you are well, thanks for speaking to us today. The fifth installment in the ever-evolving tale of the Hexeth is finally copping a well deserved physical release soon, and before we chat about it I just want to acknowledge that you’ve already given an incredibly detailed interview about it a few months back – so to keep it interesting I’ll try to touch on topics you haven’t already spoken about there.

As some might know, Hexeth is your most personal musical outlet. In fact, you mention in the aforementioned interview that not only are the sci-fi elements inspired by a crazy drug trip you once had, but that it is somewhat autobiographical in the way that the Hexeth beast itself symbolically represents the draining effects of anxiety, depression, OCD and ADHD that you have lived with for quite some time. With all of that in mind – what made you decide to start this project and begin telling this tale in the first place? Did you originally conceptualize it to act as some type of cathartic metaphor for the above, or did you realise it was heading in this direction at some point during the creative process for it?

– First of all, thank you for this interview, I appreciate it.

The initial goal of the project was to create music for the few. Write riffs that are very hard to listen to, almost completely dissonant. The idea of a continuous tale came after the recording of the first demo; I always loved to read all kinds of stories and information. I just decided to give in to the challenge. It was while I was listening to the first mixes I realized that the sonics of Hexeth ‘sounded’ like all these issues I live with. Plain suffocation and emotional intensity.

It definitely does sound exactly like the audio representation of those issues, impressively so. Now, I assume the EP has been complete for quite some time; it was originally unleashed digitally a few months ago. Given that you’re quite a prolific artist, how connected do you stay to your works after they’re completed? Especially in this case, as Hexeth is a personal story with a kind of ongoing narrative – do you find yourself returning to the previous installments for either reference or inspiration whilst composing the next one?

– I am definitely still connected with this record. To this day I still believe this is the best track I have released yet and I did went back a few times to build on the sound I am crafting. The new Hexeth album ‘Interval’, which I am currently finishing is in the same vein as this one. I would say that since the release of ‘Multiverse’ I have found the project’s sound and I am continually building on it since.

I’m inclined to agree that it’s your best yet. Speaking of the next one – I love the longform compositional format of The Hexeth, which you’ve only utilised once before on the split with Icon Of Curse (to also great results). Is writing in this elongated style something that you’ll look at continuing for future releases?

– For sure. I always try to get a long song, that means you suck all the inspiration out of you. For this EP it was intended from the start that it was going to be one song, I wanted a challenge at the time.

“Sucking all the inspiration out” is a great way to look at it, with The Hexeth you seem more inspired than ever. Musically, the EP really is a spiraling, discombobulating vortex of manifesting horrors – it’s also probably the most technical thing I’ve heard you produce, considering the previous Hexeth installments and all of your other projects. So speaking of challenging yourself: did you consciously challenge yourself to write even more technical madness this time around, or did it just flow naturally when you were attempting to express the subject matter?

– Not only the challenge was to do a long song but also get a new musical touch out of it. I was much influenced by the latest Portal album. I was blown away the first time I have heard it, it pushed me to polish the sound I went for. I wanted the noisy production down so we could hear all the madness instead of the fog of it.

Oh, I can definitely see the similarities with Ion now that you mention it. Moving away from the music for a sec; as we travel through each Hexeth release, the cover art has seemed (to me, at least) to represent an abstract representation of the particular section of the tale told in each chapter. Has this been the intention? Is it you who has created the cover art each time, and if so, how do you go about creating the artwork for each installment?

– Yes and no. Sometimes the cover is definitely a representation of the songs, sometimes it is just a question of personal taste. I usually do all covers by myself but I did commission two for both splits I put out (the Icon of Curse split and the Void Tendril split). For ‘The Hexeth’ it is definitely a representation of the record; a storm of fiery feelings.

Given that you’re not only quite prolific but a talented multi-instrumentalist as well, I’m fascinated as to what your musical background must be and what drives you to produce so much art in general. When did you first find yourself interested in music as an artform, and what led to you learning so many instruments and becoming as involved in extreme music as you are? What “called you to the darkness”, so to speak?

– I started to become very interested in music early in my life. I was raised into classical and opera, my Dad was a huge fan of L. Pavarotti and M. Callas. He definitely never thought I would end up in extreme metal. Though, I had this conversation with him and I told him and many sub-genres of metal are very close to classical music; especially in classical heavy metal and some black metal.

So around ten years old I got introduced to Metallica by one of my cousins – my life changed drastically. After a few months I bothered my parents to get me drums, which they did, they found a very old Remo drum kit and set it up in the garage. It is pretty much where everything started. Over the years I was just looking for more and more extreme music. Of course at twelve years old I wasn’t music into ‘black’ or ‘death’ metal, but more into thrash, hardcore and punk.

I really got the calling around sixteen or seventeen when I started my first band called In Sickness. I was a vocalist at the time. We were very much inspired by Misery Signals. After a few months of that, we broke up and started another project in the Heavy Metal vein called Suzie Got Laid. It was a dumb name but the songs were pretty great if you ask me. Of course, that band broke up too and I ended up moving to Montreal a few years later and formed Warslaves with my best friends.

And the rest is history, as they say. I’d love to hear those Suzie Got Laid songs. Back to the EP: physical copies will be available soon via Grey Matter Productions, who are handling the LP and The Alchemy Lab Records, who are putting out the cassette edition. I believe the LP is even going to have an etched B-side, which is cool. How have you found working with both of those labels so far?

– Daniel at Grey Matter Productions is very professional and a straight up great person. I have only good things to say about him and his label. He knows what he is doing and did such a great job with the Moulin Banal release that he has my total trust. As for The Alchemy Lab Records, I am co-owner of the label with my good friend Riley Leggin who is also the dude behind Icon Of Curse. So far things are great.

Daniel is a legend. Now here’s a question I asked of another conceptually developed artist recently, but I’m feeling similar vibes here – while listening to Hexeth and absorbing the narrative, I can’t help but feel I would like to see a companion piece to the story in a visual format; either a television series or a graphic novel perhaps. Have you considered attempting to develop the concept further in another medium?

– I have never thought about it. I would say that it could be a very good idea… if anyone is interested hit me up! I am always happy to work with passionate beings. I did think about releasing a small book at some point in the discography though.

And finally, has any more of the Hexeth been composed? When can we expect the next chapter of the story to arrive, and can you give us any hints as to how the story will progress?

– Yes, more Hexeth is composed. I am at the vocals stage with the new album ‘Interval’. It has seven songs, around 35 minutes of material and Grey Matter Productions will release it in 2020. As for the story: things are getting weird with the creature, I can’t say much but let’s say that the Hexeth can’t bear life anymore and it’s ready to do anything to see the universe through a different sight.

Things getting weird sounds great, looking forward to that… and we’re done. Once again, I appreciate you taking the time to speak to us today, Count Bergaby. Love the EP and cannot wait for those further developments in the story of the Hexeth. Are there any final words you would like to leave us with?

– Thank you so much for this great interview! I had much fun answering the questions! I would like to finish with some upcoming releases for the future:

Moulin Banal has a new record coming up, a proper full-length called ‘De Misère et d’Engelures’. We are more than halfway into the recording at the moment.

Complot! has a compilation of all three EPs coming up on vinyl, an announcement should be made in the coming weeks by the label.

Shezmu has a full-length on the way as well, we are currently in the studio. The album ‘À Travers Les Lambeaux’ will feature the arrival of a new member: Yan Tremblay Simard on bass duties. We are also playing with Abysmal Lord and Vimur on August 17th (Montreal).

Palmistry is writing new material and we are playing with Pagan Altar and Cauchemar on August 23rd (Montreal).

Sadomagickal Seducer and Penombre full-lengths are written, recording will start this Autumn.

There’s more but I don’t want to share for now!

The Hexeth etched LP will be available to pre-order July 5th via Grey Matter Productions.

Purchase The Hexeth digitally from Bandcamp here.

Support Hexeth:

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Email: blackmetaldaily@outlook.com

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

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The world’s foundations

Alight in hellish flame

Red eyes behold the heart of ruin

Embracing the glory of blasphemy

Rejoice in the beauty of pure destruction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

V: Mastery Of Diabolical Strength!

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

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Support Valaraukar:

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