Category Archives: 195 Metalbands (Interviews)

Waylander: The Spirit of Northern Ireland

Waylander was one of the first bands to pioneer the sound of folk metal. They’ll refuse any credit for it though,  nor for the movement it spawned.  They are the real deal, genuine in their art, their expression and, as it turns out, their love for beer.

The band sparked my interest in the genre years ago and the fact that they’ve been around for 25 years now is a testament to the lasting quality of their work. Having seen trouble in the line-up through the years, the band has released a number of records and is working on the latest, following in the steps of 2012’s ‘Kindred Spirits’.

Hailing from Northern-Ireland, the band is relatively isolated. This has allowed them, and many other bands on the green island to develop their distinct own sound. This, and much more, I got to ask Ard Chieftain O’Hagan about.  As founder, singer and original member, he was kind enough to answer my questions.

Pagan souls and ancient hearts: Waylander

I want to take you back to 1993 and ask how you came up with the musical direction and style that became Waylander. Where other bands inspiring the connection between folklore, folk music, and metal or was it something outside of music?

We certainly had no grand plan in the formative stages, I’d go so far as to say that, we didn’t have a plan at all. In retrospect, I might have named the band a tad prematurely as several months after stabilizing a working lineup the pieces of the jigsaw fell into place when Born to the fight was penned and we realized we’d perhaps stumbled across a path we could follow. Of course, mixing folk music with Metal was no fluke, it was in the subconscious of my brother. the guitarist and had been in my mind since I was 13 years old, when I first heard Horslips. They were a 70’s band who crossed progressive rock with traditional Irish music and used a lot of Irish folklore and mythology. Growing up, folk music was always on the radio in the house, even though by the age of 10 I only heard it when one side of my Metal vinyl had finished. I’d always had a huge interest in the folklore and history of my land, so you can see all the threads which later joined together to point us in a certain direction. In many ways, it was simply meant to be.

What do these legends and myths that you put in your music mean to you and how do you feel they are relevant today as topics for your music? I’ve also noticed you referring to traditional religious occasions, how deep does this run for you?

They mean everything to me, every time I write lyrics I bare my soul. I have been fascinated by the folklore of my land from a very young age and it certainly helps that Emain Macha [which features heavily in the myths and legends], is located a few short miles outside the city of my birth. When you have a background like mine I suppose it is inevitable that I write and have written about this particular subject matter. Of course, the stories and folklore are every bit as relevant today but I am definitely more into seeking out the hidden meanings than simply retelling the tales.

I began following the Druid’s path in 1996 so the references to the ancient festivals and religion run as deep as my soul. The new album, Eriú’s wheel, is actually a concept album incorporating the festivals and solar observances of the year, the four fire festivals the two equinox and the two solstices.

You’ve been active in the pagan metal genre for years now. Waylander is one of the early bands to pick up this style. How do you feel this genre has changed over the years, having started out with it, witnessed the popularity and peak with the Pagan Fest tours and its decline (where we also saw a lot of cheesy bands)? I’ve read some less than lofty thoughts from you on certain bands for example.

In the beginning, it seemed that the bands playing pagan and folk influenced metal were genuine and were doing what came natural to them.At that time there was no internet and bands were a million times more isolated than they are in this day and age, which meant that there was no trend to follow. To discover bands of a similar philosophy meant getting actively involved in the worldwide underground metal scene which involved a lot of letter writing, tape trading and no little expense. There was a lot of mutual respect around in those embryonic days. As time marched on some bands saw the opportunity to perhaps make a living from a genre that went from ridicule in the early years to quite well known by the 2000s. Did these bands sell out or compromise their sound? In many cases yes, the more ridiculous ones even being content to be some kind of joke bands which is anathema to someone like me. I’ve been told more than once that I cut off my nose to spite my face in this regard and maybe they are right but my response is, my nose is quite big enough to endure a few more cuttings yet. It was ironic that when the trend got huge that Waylander were more or less inactive at that time, due to a serious amount of lineup changes. My bottom line is that integrity can never be compromised, no matter what the reward but it’s down to individual choice really. There are so many bands now it would make your head spin, it’s hard to keep up.

Ireland, and in your case (Northern Ireland), appears to have been an early adaptor of the genre with bands like Primordial and Cruachan and yourselves. Why do you think it emerged so strongly there and not in a different country (for example, Greece, where black metal firmly took root, never had this folk tradition)?

There must have been something in the water in the early 90s. It’s no surprise really, Ireland has a folk and literary tradition, which is second to none and yes I am biased. To be honest, though, I remember in 1994 finding out about Pimordial and a little later Cruachan and I was initially unpleasantly astounded that other people on our small island had a similar vision to mine. The reality is that there is just so much history, folklore, literature and tragedy to supply 50 bands with inspiration and subject matter never mind the half dozen or so who have existed over the decades. As for Greece, I seem to recall a few bands who referenced Greek mythology, maybe they played black metal but at least it was there.

Also, being from Northern Ireland has your music ever caused controversy or mixed reactions in your home country, as it would appear it leans to Irish identity. Or have you ever been accused of any political sympathies of ideas? For example, the title of your debut record ‘Reawakening Pride Once Lost’ might in this day and age be lumped in a particular corner

Most of the controversy has been because we have the cheek to mix folk music into our sound. Suffice to say that folk metal wouldn’t be the most popular of genres in Ireland. There have been a few incidents, not all of them negative, over the years but they are a rarity, to be honest. If I’ve been accused of certain political leanings it is news to me, there isn’t a political party here who represents my views anyway. Reawakening pride once lost was more of an affirmation of my Pagan path and a dig at the Christian society we have endured over the centuries, so if that lumps us in a particular corner, well, quite simply, I couldn’t care less.

All your album titles seem to refer both the old and the new, what would you say is the overall message in Waylander’s music?

The message is straightforward enough, look to our past to learn how to live today, if you don’t know where you came from how can you hope to know where you are going.

I understand you are working on a new album. Can you tell something more about this and what has changed in your way of approach since 2012’s ‘Kindred Spirits’?

We’re just about to begin mixing the new album, Ériú’s Wheel. A decision was made to attempt a concept album incorporating the Fire Festivals, the Solstices and Equinoxes, each with their own piece of music and hopefully create something which does justice to the concept. It wasn’t as easy as we’d imagined, and a few false starts took place, but we’ve had the songs more or less ready for almost a year now. It’s been a different writing experience this time around due mainly to the fact there are 6 people in the band who all have lives outside of the band. Getting all of us together at the same time was quite difficult at times and impossible at other times. We had a member who had a serious illness and others who had work commitments but we somehow persevered and slowly pieced together this album. It will be a huge relief when it’s finally mixed and sent off to the Label.

You’ve had some struggles with the line-up through the years, particularly with one member. Now, I don’t mean to drag that up, but what is in your opinion key to keep a band running for such a long time?

I think the key is to be mentally unwell, why else would you put up with the heartache? It’s a very difficult question to answer as each problem scenario is unique.

As one of the ‘original’ wave of pagan metal bands, which acts do you currently see carry the torch for what the music originally meant and captured? What do you think it means to play extreme metal in 2018?

The likes of Saor and Skyforger and Negura Bunget are bands who immediately spring to mind. To be honest, I’m no expert on our scene at all, I’m much more likely to pick up a cd by a band we play with then use mailorder. Yes, I know I could use the internet but I don’t, I’m way too old school for that. Are you asking if the extreme metal is relevant in this day and age? I hope so, most of my musical tastes involve various levels of extremity and I see no signs of things being on the downturn.

I want to ask you about your albums and their separate identities, but in a way that is interesting to you. I read that you are fussy about your beers, so my question is this: If you had to compare each of your albums to a beer, which beers would they be and why?

Reawakening Pride once Lost – old school, yet novel, a beer that has lasted the test of time, let’s go for, OLD SPECKLED HEN
The Light, the Dark, and the Endless Knot – an attempt, though heartfelt maybe doesn’t have the subtlety or refinement to last the test of time, HOBGOBLIN
Honour Amongst Chaos – Has to be something strong, something that takes a bit of effort to appreciate but worth it in the long run, DUVEL
Kindred Spirits – Something more immediate but still packs a punch yet decidedly moreish – FRANCISCAN WELL REBEL RED
It’s too early to say about the new album, will know for sure after mixing

I wonder, would you make the same music, if you lived anywhere else than in Northern-Ireland?

I’d like to think if i lived anywhere on the island of Ireland a similar sound would emerge but living in the north and growing up during the dark days of the troubles has undoubtedly had an impact. For a band meant to be of the land it would be hypocritical not to be influenced by that land.

What future plans does Waylander have?

We plan to begin gigging towards the end of February 2019, i’m organising a uk tour at the minute and so far we have 2 festival confirmations, Celtic Transylvania in Romania and Dark Trolls in Germany. Hopefully, we get out on the road more often than usual, which is certainly the plan.

If you had to describe Waylander as a dish, what would it be and why?

We’d be that dish in your cupboard which refuses to break and becomes useful every now and again for lapping whiskey out of it like a dog.

YES YES, i cheated on a few but i hope you find the answers meet your requirements, amy thanks for the interrogation. All the best.

Ennui: From the tombs of Georgia

Georgia is one of those countries, you may not even be aware of. A state with a vast history and rich cultural traditions in the borderland of the former Soviet-Union, it is the home of Ennui, who play monolithic funeral doom in the most dark and melancholic traditions.

Partly untouched by time, the country has one of the lowest crime rates and visitors speak of the friendly reception they’ve had. Yet it also has the scars of the past, proven by the conflicts with Russia . The same goes for most countries in the Caucasus.

It’s not known for its metal scene, but it is there and shaping itself in a distincly own way. Ennui has been around since 2012, as it was founded by David Unsaved and Sergei Shengalia. Their latest work is ‘End of the Circle’, out on Non Serviam Records. Thanks to Qabar PR, I got to ask them some questions about this project and the monumental record.

Ennui: End of the Circle

First, can you introduce yourselves and how you got together? I understand the name Ennui is an old French word. Can you maybe explain why you chose it and how it has evolved with you through the years?

Yes, we are a funeral doom band from Tbilisi, Georgian Republic. Ennui is the band with only two permanent members: me, David Unsaved and Sergei Shengelia. Both of us write music for the band, we always work together on concepts for the songs, etc. We’ve founded Ennui together in 2012. So it happened that we both had ideas for this genre, we both were able to play on all instruments, and we decided to work together. The name of the band came to our mind almost immediately. I had a few propositions on the name, but we settled on Ennui. We liked the meaning of this word, because it perfectly described our spiritual state at the moment. Over time, we put more extensive sense into this word – Ennui is a state of melancholy, spiritual boredom and loss of any kind of vitality.

Do you guys play in any other bands or projects? And what bands inspired you to pursue the type of music you make?

Yes. Sergei is a veteran of Georgian metal scene. He is a front man of first Georgian technical death metal band Angel of Disease, also he’s guitarist/vocalist of his symphonic black metal band SIGNS. My biography is more modest, but I also have several side-projects in different genres. But none of them are released yet, actually it will happen in nearest future. Bands like Esoteric, Skepticism inspired us to make this music. These two bands were what introduced us to this genre very long time ago.

Where you inspired by bands from Georgia to make metal music or did it come from foreign bands? Are there aspects of your home country that shape the way you make the music you do?

No. We were never inspired by bands from Georgia. All influences and inspirations came from foreign bands of course. Also, you shall know that there are no other funeral doom metal bands from Georgia. It’s a little bit hard to name any particular aspect of Georgian culture which helped us in making this kind of music. You know, first of all, Georgia is not mentally a ”metal country”, and also Georgian culture has mostly a ”happy” mood in almost all of its forms. But working on our first album ”Mze Ukunisa” what means ”The Sun of Darkness” in Georgian, we indeed used some elements of Georgian culture, which perfectly suited atmosphere of funeral doom metal.

I want to ask you about the album ‘End of the Circle’. What was the creative process like for this record, did you do anything new or different this time and what roles do you both have in the process?

The songwriting principle was the same as always – we made individual songs independently from each other. But we’ve certainly changed the recording process as well as whole creative process in this album. Here I mean the whole approach to recording in the studio, getting the highest quality, real and ”warm” tube sound, all analogue equipment. This was first experience like this for Ennui. We’re very satisfied with the final result. I hope listeners will be happy with our new album as well!

As I understand it, in the past you’ve often used poetry for the lyrics and inspiration. Can you tell a bit about that and in what way you drew inspiration for ‘End of the Circle’?

The poetry of Terenti Graneli (Georgian dramatist and late decadence movement poet) was used as lyrics only for our debut album. After that, all lyrics are written by us. “End of the Circle” is conceptual work, inspired by some philosophical ideas about life and death, about principles of being and unbeing. We just imagined about what if there is some final point of everything? Final point of the endless. The End of the endless circle of life and death. Mostly these ideas inspired us.

Your record is in a sense such a huge slab of music, that it could easily be split into multiple releases. In fact, each of the 3 mammoth tracks feels like a separate journey. Was this your initial plan when you set out recording it or did it evolve to this enormous shape?

Oh, yes. The whole idea of this album was to write three huge songs with dynamic ups and downs in tempo and unorthodox melodies. First we had a plan to make an album with only two long songs, but later the idea evolved and we decided to split ”The Withering” in two parts to have two song conceptions reflecting each other. For example, the first part of ”The Withering” is about humanity which is lost under the vastness of starlit sky, and ”The Withering Part II” is about the lost and dead stars shining their ghost light upon us. But the title song is about death of whole Universe as it exists in our understanding and imagination.

Can you tell a bit about the start of metal in Georgia? How did metal music come to your country in the first place?

I guess first heavy metal bands in Georgia were formed in early 80-is. Heavy metal bands like Mtsiri (მწირი), Mekhis Kandakeba (მეხის ქანდაკება), also Heavy Cross (მძიმე ჯვარი). Their music was influenced by heavy metal and hard rock bands from all over the world, some records were rare, but still available to listeners in Soviet Union. Extreme metal was formed in Georgia much later, in 1990-is. It was influenced mostly by popular metal bands, because Georgia never had access to high-grade information sources about underground metal music. I mean no labels, no metal stores. Usually, records of new foreign bands were passing from hand to hand between metalheads. It was almost impossible to get tapes of rare bands. That’s why metal in Georgia was mostly influenced by mainstream bands from Europe. Nowadays, with development of social networks, metal is more available in Georgia then it was before. Here are some local metal bands, scene is has developed into different genres. Famous metal bands like Sepultura, Napalm Death, Sodom, Vader and many others played shows here. I hope that metal in George will keep progressing and in future will take its own place in Metal World.

What is the scene like these days and what bands would you recommend people check out?

Please, check out the band Comatose Vigil from Russia, I guarantee you the total desperation.

While your music and founding were rooted in sad emotions, you as a band appear to have embraced a positive life attitude in previous interviews I read. How do those two combine?

I think that such music does not oblige us to be constantly in a negative mood. And to be more precise, such music helps to get rid of the negative state of mind. It seems to me that you need to be able to treat everything with humor, even if it’s a black humor… Besides, I would not say that we are one of those people who are very open about showing everyone their inner state. Usually, we do not share everything with everyone around, but we channel everything into our music.

What future plans do you have for Ennui?

I think now it’s time to prepare for future live shows. We need to work more with session musicians and pay more attention to listeners from Europe.

If you had to compare the band to a dish, a type of food, what would it be and why?
I don’t know, maybe ”Shila Plavi” – this is a kind of Georgian dish made from rice and meat. Usually, here in Georgia this dish is served at a funeral feast in someone’s wake.

Anything I forgot that you’d like to add?

Well, I guess no! Thank you very much for conversation!

Dividing The Element: From Zimbabwe, for Zimbabwe

Dividing The Element hails from Zimbabwe and has been around for a while now, playing a modern style of metal with a lot of aggression and vitality. It’s a young scene, fresh in its infancy, but full of power and drive, which is mostly embodied by the band from Harare themselves.

The group has been around since 2012 and claims ‘From Zimbabwe, For Zimbabwe’. That’s a great sentiment in a world swamped with bands that sound like they were made in the same factory. Afro-metal is another term the band uses, as they implement parts of ethnic music and language into their sound.

In 2018, the band also dropped their debut record and I had the privilege to ask the band about making metal music in Zimbabwe, their self-titled debut and more, as Chris Van was willing to answer all my questions.

A positive outlook for the future

Could you start by introducing yourselves and your musical background? Do you have any other bands you are currently active in?

DTE is comprised of myself (Chris Van)- lead vocals and guitar, Archie Chikoti- guitar, Mat Sanderson- bass and backing vocals and Nick (Newbz) Newberry- drums. With the exception of Newbz playing percussion now and then for our friends Evicted, none of us are active in any other bands.

How did the band get started and how did you meet up?

Initially, the band, or rather the idea of a band was inspired by myself (Chris Van) and Sherlic White. Sherlic and I met online early in 2012 on a Facebook group called ‘Rock and Metal Lovers Zimbabwe’, which was in fact started up by a mutual friend of ours, Valentim Miguel Marques Pereira: another brother in arms hoping to kick-start a metal scene in Zimbabwe. Sherlic and I established a rapport with each other on the group and one day decided it was high time we met up to have a jam. From there, ideas began to flow and it got to the point where we thought it was time to get other people on board so we could execute the ideas in a band setting. Sadly though, Sherlic left the country to study in South Africa. He and I then agreed that I would continue pursuing the project without him.

I had played in previous bands with both Archie and Newbz and because of the long history I had with them, I asked them if they’d like to join.
At that point, we were one musician short so I decided to get an audition advert put up for a second guitarist. A while after that Mat came in to audition at Newbz’s house. Although, to this day I’m not sure Mat was ever aware that he was even in an audition because the setting was so informal – more like a jam session with more beers than any of us could justify than an audition. At some point, we ended up doing a switcharoo experiment putting Archie on guitar and Mat on bass. That arrangement seemed to work better, and it’s stayed that way ever since.

What sort of bands inspire you and are the basis for the sound of Dividing The Element?

For me, Metallica and Nirvana were big influences in my early teenage years, if you listen to our song Kumba Kumusha I’m sure you’ll notice the similarities in James Hetfield’s vocal style in places. System Of A Down also provided a lot of inspiration with the idea of vocal harmonies. When I discovered Numetal bands like Korn, Linkin Park, Disturbed, Limp Bizkit and Slipknot etc. that’s when I taught myself how to scream. As I got older though and discovered more music, my taste got a lot heavier. Discovering bands like Lamb of God, Parkway Drive, As I Lay Dying and various deathcore bands like Suicide Silence and Carnifex inspired me to learn how to growl.

On an instrumental front though we like to experiment with fusing different styles of music so it’s quite hard to pinpoint the exact sources of inspiration because it can basically come from anywhere, but it always reverts back to some kind of metal sound at the core.

Which would you say is the core message behind Dividing The Element. As in, what do you want people to take away from your music?

I guess the most common theme in our music is that lyrically, we write about personal life experiences in Zimbabwe that either one of us or all of us have gone through. That said, it would be nice to know that there are other Zimbabweans out there who can relate to what we write about.

Can you tell me a bit about how you go about making your music? Is it a cooperative process, or does every band member have his own part to play?

Mostly it starts out with me writing the skeleton of a song and then the other guys come in to help bash it out and fill in the blanks at rehearsals. I’d say it’s both.

A few months ago you released your record, which was self-titled. What can you tell about the record, the process of writing and what inspired it?

As I mentioned before, the content of each song lyrically was inspired by life experiences, so the album is quite personal.

Some of the songs seem to contain traditional elements and language. Can you share a bit about that and why you’ve chosen to make this part of your music?

This was an idea my fiancee suggested to me prior to the conception of the band. It was done in order to help initiate a metal scene in Zimbabwe. There was once quite a big rock scene in Zim, especially in the 80’s. It seemed to die a slow, silent death though and then all of a sudden there was nothing left. So because I am a Zimbabwean and a metal head, the idea was to bring the two together and make a metal band in Zimbabwe for Zimbabwe. Using the local vernacular and incorporating traditional themes into the music was the best way to go about it as a means of identity. So when the band eventually formed there was already a direction and sense of purpose in mind.

What sort of scene is there in Zimbabwe and how big is it?

The scene is small. When we first started, metal heads were around, but few and far between. None of them seemed to know each other either, but it has grown in leaps and bounds from where it first started and seems to continue to grow. At every show we play we see new faces which is very encouraging.

Which bands brought the genre to your country?

As I mentioned, there was once a rock scene here in years past. I sadly did not have the privilege of experiencing it though. So I’m afraid I can’t accurately say to be honest, although I’m sure there are other more historically learned people around who are able to offer their opinions on the matter.

What sort of attitude do people have towards your music? Is it frowned upon, censored in any way or so?

No one’s censored us or anything like that but Zimbabweans can be conservative. So I’d say generally people who haven’t heard of us or the genre before approach it with caution, coz it’s new to them and people always seem to have preconceptions. But metal is mostly an underground thing anyway, it’s not for everyone nor is it meant to be.

I notice that a few African countries have a metal scene, notably South Africa and Botswana, with a few bands like yourselves in surrounding countries but then it would seem to simply dry up. Is that also the reality or do you connect with bands from Malawi, Tanzania, DRC etc.? How important are the cross-border connections for you?

Yes, we do connect with other bands, it’s very important. I think there’s always a chance that things could go wrong and all of a sudden the wheels stop turning. Cross-border connections are very helpful especially if we want to tour outside of our own country. Knowing where the scenes are and how big they are really helps. It’s also just a good support system to have, and provides a great opportunity to interact with other like-minded people, in some cases even make new friends.

How’s the availability for everything, like rehearsal space, instruments, music, venues to play at and so forth?

The Zimbabwean economy is still in a fragile state right now so it can be tough. Entertainment doesn’t fall high on the priority list, although there is a lot of optimism that things will make a change for the better, economically speaking. Hopefully, they will.

Which bands from Zimbabwe should people definitely check out and why?

Definitely check out Acid Tears, Chikwata 263, Evicted, Kamikaze Test Pilots, and an industrial melo-death project called Nuclear Winter. These bands range from hard rock to soft afro-rock to mbira punk. All of them have their own flair and character.

What future plans do you guys have?

Our plan is to promote our album in whatever capacity we can, so hopefully a few more shows in Zimbabwe this year. We’ve also been invited to a metal festival in Botswana next year and have committed to it. We’re very excited about it.

If you had to compare Dividing The Element to a dish, what would it be and why?

I’d say classic meat and potatoes with a hint of some kind of fish taste that you can’t pin point why it’s there or where it’s coming from. Reasons for that- we haven’t really reinvented the wheel but there are times where things can get changed up in a very unexpected way. That, and I really like fish.

Rugged Shores: Mistwalker & Viridian Records from Newfoundland

Metal pops up in many places, but it appears that the remote and cold has a particular attraction to many artists. It creates a specific kind of man, living in those places and that means a particular type of music. Mistwalker and the affiliated projects on the collective Viridian Records are such entities from the far north and distinct they are indeed.

Greg Sweetapple comes from the coast of Newfoundland originally but has since changed his native Glovertown for Montréal. The hard life and special nature of his home still affect his music though, and probably always will as the project shapes up and new creativity flows.

Greg was kind enough to answer some of my questions about his music and the place he comes from.

Mistwalker

Hello! Could you tell me something more about yourself?

Well, my full name is Greg Sweetapple (yes, that’s actually my real surname). I’m originally from a small town on the east coast of Newfoundland called Glovertown, whose population is only about 2000 people. In the summer of 2017 I moved to Montreal, Quebec and I’m still here at the moment.

How did you get into music and what projects are you involved in?

Believe it or not, my first musical love was ABBA, mostly because my dad used to listen to ABBA Gold in the cassette deck in our family car when I was a kid. But my first introduction to heavy music was “Iron Swan” by The Sword, which was a righteous kick in the ass if there ever was one for the pre-teen version of me. When I got older I started to mess around with drums, either in the music room at my school or at my friends’ houses, until eventually, I got my own. I played in a couple of bands during high school, but nothing too major. Then when I went to college I couldn’t bring my drums with me because I moved into a tiny apartment building and drums are way too loud for that sort of setting. So I brought my electric guitar with me and decided to learn to play that instead. After about a year I finally decided to try and record something with the serious intent behind it, thanks to my friend Aaron Powell (Fog Lake) who kept urging me to do it, and thus Mistwalker was born.

When it comes to other projects I have a two-person black metal project called Impaled Upon the Mountains with my friend Kristopher Crane (Nemophilist), though that one is kind of on hiatus right now since he recently moved to the UK. I’ve also got a neofolk project called Wavering Radiant (named after the Isis album), a hardcore punk project called Goddammit that satirizes Newfoundland politics and culture, an ambient project called Icefog, a drone project called Inverted Coffins and a stoner rock project called Trinidad Gunfight. I’m also the official live drummer for the aforementioned Fog Lake.

What’s the idea behind Mistwalker and can you share something about the background, moods, stories, and ideas that shape up the music you make with this project?

There isn’t really a consistent feeling behind Mistwalker, because the whole idea is that because it’s my flagship project I can do whatever I want with it. I don’t stick to one particular style of metal with it. There’s elements of black metal, death metal, thrash metal, hard rock, stoner rock and ambient to it. I can really make it whatever I want. But when it comes to what things inspire the music itself that can be anything as goofy as video games like Skyrim to serious personal feelings. For example, the album Strix Pantheon consists of instrumentals dedicated to some of my favorite female characters from fiction, while the album Alexander Bay was basically a loose concept album about my hometown. The last song on that album, ‘Willower’ is about the feeling of knowing that one day your parents are going to die and you’ll have to come to terms with that when it happens. So really I just write about whatever I feel like writing about, and that changes as frequently as the weather.

What sort of size group is associated with Viridian Records? And how did the label get started, how did you get together and what sort of cooperation do you have?

The thing about Viridian Records is that it isn’t really a record label, per se. It’s more of a name that’s used for a collective of artists to release music under. Mostly it’s just myself and Kristopher, though occasionally my friends Walter, Aaron, and Kenney will release music under the name too. Most of us just record music at home in our apartments/bedrooms, so it’s not really a professional setup. We’re just people who like to make music and put it out there for our own satisfaction, more or less.

Tell me about Newfoundland, what sort of place is it in your words and why does it inspire such a distinct sound?

I’ve heard people say before that Newfoundland is the Iceland of Canada, and I think that’s true. A lot of the landscape consists of rugged coastline, boreal forest, and dense bogs and the livelihood of the people there is really dependent upon the ocean. There’s a lot of respect for nature to be found there, and I think that really inspires the music that my friends and I make, though of course, I can’t speak for all of them. But aside from that, it’s also a hard place to live because right now the economy is suffering, which is part of the reason why I moved away. Making music was partially an escape from that atmosphere of living paycheck to paycheck. I guess when it comes to making black metal, or at least music that is heavily inspired by black metal, turning to nature is a form of escapism.

How do you approach creating music for various projects? Like, how do you know a song is particularly suited for Mistwalker?

That’s something I find a bit hard to define. Usually, it’s just some form of intuition. Like, I’ll come up with a riff and I’ll think to myself “Yeah, that’s a Mistwalker riff” and then sometimes I’ll say “Yeah, that’s more like an Impaled Upon the Mountains song.” With Mistwalker I like to experiment more because it’s my main project and I have complete creative control over it, so a lot of my weirder ideas find their way into that project more so than others.

As interest, you’ve listed quite some pagan and mythic elements on your Facebook page, could you tell more about that?

While I’m not a pagan myself, I do have an intense interest in mythology, pre-Christian religions, and folklore, especially when it comes to the Norse and Celtic variety. A lot of this comes from my love of the fantasy genre in fiction, which is obviously inspired by mythology and folklore. I’m a big nerd so I love all that stuff about elves, dwarves, magic, etc. I’m especially a big fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Elder Scrolls series so that often finds its way into my lyrics too. I aspire to be a fantasy author myself someday so naturally, my music is affected by that too.

What sort of recording and writing process do you follow to create music?

I don’t really follow any set process. It really varies. Sometimes I’ll write lyrics first and write something based around that structure and try to evoke the feeling of what I’ve written into the melodies. Other times I’ll compose the music first and record all the instruments before I even get into writing lyrics for it. When it comes to the actual recording I always lay down the drum track first, and then follow that up with guitar and bass, and vocals come last.

I‘m curious about the scene from a more ‘availability’ side, as in there’s a group of people creating works under the Viridian banner. Is that all very DIY? Or does Newfoundland have all the facilities like record shops, rehearsal spaces, venues etc. available in proximity?

When it comes to Newfoundland the metal scene really only exists in St. John’s. Sure there might be a band or two in other towns like Corner Brook or Stephenville, but everything is more or less constrained to the provincial capital. With record shops, the only one that exists is Fred’s Records, which does cater pretty heavily to local artists. Venues are pretty limited too, the only ones I can say for certain that cater to this style of music include CBTG’s, Distortion, Valhalla Tavern, The Rock House, Bar None, The Rose & Thistle and Factory, so you’re always going to the same four to five places every weekend to play and/or see metal and punk shows. These venues also sometimes double as rehearsal spaces in the daytime, and if not a band might just have to make do in somebody’s garage or basement. When it comes to Viridian like I mentioned before, it’s mostly just my friends and me recording stuff on our own time, more often than not in our bedrooms, and then self-releasing it on Bandcamp, so it’s definitely very DIY. There are professional recording studios in St. John’s but none of us really have the money for that.

Is it love for where you are from or loathing, that you feel when writing for Mistwalker?

Admittedly I laughed when I read this because honestly, it’s a bit of both. I love my home and I do miss it to an extent, especially living up here in Montreal where you have travel so much further to be immersed in nature. Back home I could go out into my backyard and ten minutes later I’d be in the middle of the woods on the top of a mountain. But like I mentioned before, living there is pretty difficult. It’s the reason why so many people who are my age have left to go work in Alberta’s oil industry. It’s just a better opportunity for them. Writing about Newfoundland in my music is equal parts love and loathing and I channel that respect for the land into it, while also expressing the frustration of the economic difficulty that rises from living there.

What future plans do you have and does Viridian have?

Mistwalker is a name that I plan to record under for as long as I live. Of course, things always change but I hope to be playing heavy music even as an old decrepit grandpa. Eventually, I’d like to get a band together and start playing shows here in Montreal, even go on tour if my music gets enough traction, but these things do take time. I can’t really speak for the other artists on Viridian, but I know that Kris records music sporadically under both of his projects: Acorn to Great Oak and Nemophilist.

If you had to compare Mistwalker our the whole Viridian roster to a dish or various dishes, what would it be and why?

That’s a hard question. I wouldn’t really compare the music to a specific dish, but rather a smell. The scent of evergreen trees, especially fir and spruce, combined with the smell of the ocean, really encapsulates the atmosphere of the island and the music that I try to create. Again I can’t really speak to the creative process of the other artists.

Thanks for the interview! I always appreciate opportunities like this.

From The Bogs of Aughiska: Fairy trees, remote places and black metal

Far corners of the world breed the most astonishing music acts. ‘Mineral Bearing Veins’, the latest record by From The Bogs of Aughiska, is proof of that in all its splendor. From it’s mild, folky tunes, to it’s ambient and recorded samples to harrowing black metal, it shows the limitless possibilities black metal offers.

Conchur O’Drona is the single mind behind the entity that has become From the Bogs of Augishka. When you’ve stumbled upon this work of art in the past you must already be hooked to the mystique that is this band. Over the years, the project has evolved into a full band, but something singular always remains with the group and its sound.

With ‘Mineral Bearing Veins’ out in the world, I was curious to get in touch and ask some questions about the music, this album and context of the group and kindly I was granted answers.

Above and below: From The Bogs of Aughiska

How are things going for From The Bogs Of Aughiska?

Things are very good, thank you. We’ve just completed a UK tour where the four of us played together for the first time and despite a few technical problems at some of the gigs, it was a successful run.

Finally, after some years in the works, the new album ‘Mineral Bearing Veins’ is seeing the light of day at the end of the month. I think this is the strongest FTBOA music to date if I may say so myself.

Could you take us briefly through the history of the band and how it was formed?

FTBOA was originally created as a solo project in 2009 when Myspace was still a thing. The first FTBOA song that was written was the track ’Leabhar Gabhala Eireann’. The self-titled debut album was released in 2010 on Lone Vigil (Chris Naughton of Winterfylleth’s own label ). In 2011 I started performing live, the very first 2 show were in The Netherlands (one in Utrecht and the other supporting none other than Ulver in Rotterdam) and a split with Dark Ages (Roman Saenko from Drudkh / Hate Forest) came out later that very same year. ’Roots of This Earth Within My Blood’ was released in 2013 to much acclaim and around that time the band became a two piece and toured Europe. The ’Fenian Ram’ EP came out in 2016 and this year as a four piece we are gearing up to release our third album ’Mineral Bearing Veins’.

Now, I know that Aughiska is a place, as the new album deals with nearby locations, such as The Burren and surrounding region. Could you take me (and by extent the reader) on a mental tour of the region and why it is so essential as your inspiration?

Aughiska More is the region I grew up in. It’s an area on the road to the world famous Cliffs of Moher between Lisdoonvarna and Doolin in County Clare on the West Coast of Ireland. As a child, the place was a massive bogland (wetland created from a dead forest) but over the years the forest has been replanted. For such a small area it has so much interesting nature and has had a massive inspiration on my life.

Your sound appears to me more as a form of aural storytelling, through the atmosphere and spoken word fragments, combined with black metal as expressive means. What, the sort of feeling and maybe message, do you want your listeners to take from the music?

There isn’t any particular feeling or message, it seems everyone has a different reaction to our music.

FTBOA hails from Lisdoonvarna according to your bio. It would seem that this makes the band rather isolated and it has an impact on the sound. Do I understand this correctly?

Lisdoonvarna is a small town that’s famous for its spa water and believe it or not an annual matchmaking festival that has been running since the 1800s. Growing up there I was definitely feeling somewhat isolated and I discovered extreme music myself as a way to escape (I was listening to The Berzerker & Pig Destroyer amongst others from my early teens). I don’t really feel connected to any scene as such.

Can you tell me more about the latest album ‘Mineral Bearing Veins’ and take us through the process of its creation?

I think ’Mineral Bearing Veins’ is the most complete FTBOA album to date which combines dark atmospheric soundscapes with elements of black metal while still having the Seanchaí (a traditional Gaelic storyteller/historian) vibe going through the record. The album flows like a journey that will take the listener on an otherworldly trip.

Regarding the creation process, I record the dark ambient parts using basic computer software and add field recordings, the audio of which is usually taken directly from the videotapes of the footage we use when we perform. I tend to mix this all in stereo to give it a cinematic feel and then send my parts to the other lads who layer it with guitar, drums & vocals.

I would love to learn a bit more about the cursed fairy trees, dark underground cave systems in The Burren, isolation and Irish superstition that form the themes of the album. These are aspects most people might only have a very faint idea about and perhaps you can share a bit about it?

A running theme throughout his record is cursed fairy trees, this is influenced by the protest storyteller Eddie Lenihan held at the turn of the century when a lone whitethorn bush was going to be removed to make way for a new bypass between Newmarket-on-Fergus and Ennis in Co. Clare. He warned of terrible consequences if the fairy bush was destroyed, saying that the site in 10 to 15 years time would have a higher than usual casualty list, including fatalities. In the end, the developers changed the route so the tree wouldn’t be removed and it is still there to this day. The other main themes on ’Mineral Bearing Vein’s are underground cave systems and isolation which are portrayed on ’Poll An Eidhneain’, named after the Doolin Cave which contains one of the world’s longest known free-hanging stalactites which remained undiscovered for years. The track is about being a cursed soul trapped in the internal darkness of the cave.

On this record, you move towards a more harsh sound and more black metal elements. What made you go in this direction? Was it the themes and stories or a musical preference?

This was always my goal when I first started FTBOA. I wanted the music to be a progressive journey via extreme music that portrayed the atmosphere from living in a unique place and which told the stories I heard growing up in the west of Ireland.

Did you do any other things differently on this album that you’d like to share?

This is the first FTBOA album that was recorded as a band. With me doing all the electronics, fielding recordings and some vocals. Bryan on guitar. Ronan on vocals, guitar and recording and Padraic on Drums. We also had guest appearances from Eddie Lenihan (Storyteller who feels like a member of the band anyway), Liam from Soothsayer, Paul from Corr Mhóna and Johnny Rua on Harp.

What role do you consider for traditional music in the art you create? It seems to be an ever-present part.

Traditional Irish music is in my blood and will to a certain extent feature in the music I create. It’s really not something you can take out of me so I might as well incorporate it.

The mastering was done by Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams), who worked with artists like Perturbator and Leviathan. Was he your first pick to create this new sound and how did this work out in your opinion?

Ken has been a friend for a good number of years and shares the same outlook on music as me, so naturally he was the first choice when it came to getting the album mastered. He heard the record for the first time while being snowed-in in Cork on his trip to Ireland in Spring this year which I thought was rather fitting.

Perhaps an out of the box question, but I wonder, would you make the same music, if you lived anywhere else? Also, what does it mean for you as a musician to be Irish?

No, I think the place you are brought up in shapes your life. If I had grown up in a city I might have become a Grime artist. What does it mean for me as a musician to be Irish? Playing the music I do, it’s just an expensive hobby with no support despite the fact that a lot of people chose to visit Ireland after seeing our live performance and seeing the visuals we play in the background. The Irish Tourist Board should be giving us a grant!

What future plans does FTBOA have?

Currently we are working on the final details for our first proper ’video’ and ’Mineral Bearing Veins’ comes out on September 28th so hopefully, the album is received well and we get to play live more often.

If you had to describe FTBOA as a dish, what would it be and why?

Braised Venison stew with red wine & redcurrant sauce served on horseradish mash. Rich food with a lasting aftertaste you won’t forget.

Striborg: Unknown domains with Blackwave

Russel Menzies, known as Sin Nanna, lives on the fringe of the world in Tasmania, an Australian Island in case you’ve not heard of it. For years, he has created the most haunting, harrowing black metal with Striborg.

Moving into the DSBM genre later after making harrowing black metal for years, Striborg was part of the One Man Metal documentary by Vice, which explores the roots of his music (recommended material). Yet recently, he switched to a new sound he calls blackwave, an exploration that captures the soul of Striborg, cloaking it with new sounds.

As is always, the backlash was severe, yet I believe congratulations are in order for his musical efforts with ‘Instrumental Trans-Communication’ and ‘Blackwave’. In a genre that conflictedly embraces the freedom to explore and brings up rigid confines at the same time, it’s a bold statement that captures something essential of what this music genre could be.

I contacted the artist to ask him about blackwave and he was kind enough to respond.

Heading into the urban darkness

Which were the most ridiculous and best responses you’ve received? You’ve shared quite some online, with a note of self-mockery. Is that the easiest way to deal with this?
I guess the one that stands out the most is receiving 0% on Metal Archives. Thankfully that has now been removed. There has been a few negative responses from people who just aren’t open-minded enough to understand what it is that I am doing nowadays.
However, I have also had mostly positive and encouraging feedback for my new direction in which I truly appreciate no end too.
My self-mockery is merely a reflection of my own depression and disappointment that my blackwave music hasn’t really taken off or been fully accepted.

Striborg hails from a deep, very pure and essentialist black metal past. You’ve released albums that are hailed as absolute life-changing classics by many. In order to really place your latest efforts in perspective, can you take me through your creative past on a level of perhaps creative phases, like do you see a continuation or are there definite ‘periods’ in your work?
I think you can define Striborg into 3 eras, the black metal period, the DSBM stage and blackwave. It is a natural progression / evolution for Striborg.

Blackwave is, as you’ve voiced, an attempt to go somewhere new. At the same time a certain black metal-postrock hybrid (blackgaze) is here to stay. It seems that this journey you took was entirely free of outside influences, as is the music. Where did the transition start? Do you feel any connection on the musical level with any others?
Blackgaze is huge but I just can’t relate to it personally. I wanted to do something in a different direction with synths as opposed to guitars, hence… blackwave.

I had an epiphany to create this music, July 2017. You’ll need to read my interview with Invisible Oranges for further insight. A long story short, I was listening to some darkwave music and imagined what it would be like if you took it to the next level. What it would sound like if I mixed my years of BM experience with a completely different genre, boom! Blackwave. I felt this rush consume me, a revelation like I’ve never felt before. I draw influence/inspiration from darkwave artists amongst other musical styles too and a long love of 80’s synth pop.

I draw absolutely no inspiration from any black metal or black gaze bands for creating BW, this is why there is so much difference and your average metalhead is like… WTF? It must be said that the same feeling and atmosphere of Striborg is STILL present so why do people obsessively need to hear guitars?

‘Instrumental Trans-Communication’ feels like a hybrid album, a musical bridge towards ‘Blackwave’. Was it intended in that way or is it simply the formative process of this sound?
This is where you have a much better perspective of ITC and B over how I perceive them. Nothing was intended with the exception that ITC was just a starting point and Blackwave needed to exist to expand and define this new genre? Additionally, I felt like adding more content and detail to Blackwave using a ‘wall of sound’ production.

How much is nature still a part of your inspiration on ‘Blackwave’, or have we left the forest completely behind on this release? You’ve mentioned that the essence of the sound is to you the same, can you elaborate on that? I feel I do hear something new too, and I wonder if that how that is for you.
I feel this new direction works well either in a rural or urban environment.

To be honest the forests have been done to death. I sing about mental illness and personal struggles more so nowadays and I have an obsession with anything luminous or dark concrete settings like multi-car parks at night and how cold and mysterious they look when lit up with UV lighting, especially when empty. Blackwave music suits forested areas too, wandering in the moonlight.

Over recent days, you’ve been putting some of your older work out on Bandcamp for people to explore anew, like Cromlech, Veil of Darkness, Baalphegor, and Mondas. Having done so much, how do you look at this work now and is there any project we may see you continue in the future?
I’m rather fond of Krucifior / Baalphegor / Azimuth. I have great memories of the time I was in the group. There are other projects I will unleash soon. The only side project I intend to continue with is Veil of Darkness. I have purposely not been prolific with that project. I could actually record an album every week if I wanted to

What is the next step for Striborg and blackwave? You just released ‘Spktr’, which was done with the Australian Art Orchestra. Are you aiming for more projects like this in the future?
The recording of Spktr on Bandcamp doesn’t feature the AAO. I will be collaborating with them again next year for another live performance (not recording). This is for Mona again by their request.

Mona have been good to me and the AAO people are a pleasure to work with. I have briefly returned to BM for an upcoming split (I agreed to it 10 years ago).

My next blackwave album will be entitled ‘Leave the World Behind’. The title is not what you think it means, as in suicide, quite the opposite in fact. Forget your troubles and leave the world behind, overcome your struggles and carpe diem, seize the day! Start living!! Or it can mean the former too, an ambiguous title / double entendre.

Images courtesy of Striborg

Rauhnåcht: From the Alpine peaks

The Alps are a mesmerizing part of the European landscape. Inhospitable, inaccessible and full of inspiration for many artists throughout the ages. From composers to painters and writers, the mountains have a special attraction. I can tell… One of those artists is Rauhnåcht, hailing from Austria.

This band is the brainchild of Stefan Traunmüller, a restless musician with a small cohort of bands under his belt. Just a small selection contains Golden Dawn, A Portrait of Flesh and Blood, Wallachia and that’s just the start. Rauhnåcht takes a particular place in his work and feels quite distinct from most bands you might have heard before that merge folk with black metal.

Taking inspiration from the Alpine traditions, it’s a band that requires a different kind of listening. Music, that somehow emulates the eerie sounds of the peeks and embodies the myths and fears of the inhabitants. I found Stefan eager to answer some of my questions, which you can enjoy below. We spoke about the majestic feeling of the Alps I find in his music, his love for the authentic and aesthetically fitting and the collaboration on Sprukgeschichten.

Piercing the wall between dimensions

Hello, how did you get started with Rauhnåcht and where does the name come from?

The starting point was in 2010, when I met Max of Sturmpercht and was intrigued by the magic of some of these archaic Alpine Folk tracks. So I took samples and loops of their music and formed Black Metal songs out of it. The result was the first album „Vorweltschweigen“. The name comes from the „Rauhnächte“, which are, according to old belief of the Alpine region, 12 magic nights during the change of the year. In this time, the borders between this reality and beyond dimensions are open and communication with animals and the dead is possible. Another band holding the rights on the name Rauhnacht threatened me with legal action, so it was decided to make an å out of the a. In my local dialect (and especially in Bavaria) the a is more or less spoken like the Scandinavian å, so this makes sense.

You’ve been involved with various projects, I’m interested to ask you how they connect to each other. Particularly, of course, the project Sturmpercht and Rauhnåcht?

My initial project was Golden Dawn with three albums between 1996 and 2010. Yes, I am involved in quite a lot of projects in one way or another, too many to mention them. I work as a producer and engineer in my own recording studio and sometimes I am asked to play as a studio musician or to contribute something to existing arrangements. There are even projects where I am „ghost writer“ for singers that cannot play an instrument but want to have a band. Sturmpercht is such a case, the members of the first albums more or less disappeared and the main man asked me to carry on for him on the basis of numerous riffs, snippets, samples and field recordings from different musicians. The work for the split Zur Ew’gen Ruh was very interesting because I developed all songs in two different directions for two different bands.

What inspired you to explore Alpine heathenism and mysteries in your music, after having been active in various other thematic avenues? Are there any bands you see as examples for what you’ve done with Rauhnåcht?

The early Sturmpercht albums were the conceptual template for the first Rauhnåcht album. I have never heard such a fitting musical transformation of all the eerie and strange Alpine myths and rites. Of course, I know a lot of bands that call themselves Pagan Metal but many of them stay on a quite superficial level in exploring heathen traditions – at least some years ago, I witness that nowadays there is a growing interest of finding more honest and authentic approaches to this. More and more young people cherish the roots of their local culture, including dialect and special masquerade during rites. I think that this is a logic counter-trend to the globalized world that leaves less and less space for real individualism. But this should by no means be a political statement, nor should a support for local cultures in art be used in a political way.

I’m curious if you could share some views and insights into the myths and legends you voice through your music, maybe some examples or outlines?

I think that the concepts and ideas behind Alpine traditions and myths are not so much different to other regions, but they are exercised in a unique way. For example, the Perchten runs with the craftily designed masks are something very special. As with any folklore, this has been commercialized a lot but the deeper you enter the more remote Alpine valleys, the purer the traditions have been preserved. The Rauhnåcht lyrics have a lot of connections to tales that refer to certain mountains, moors or other places. For example, there is a rock on a mountain near my birthplace that is called „sleeping witch“, because it really looks like this. Of course, there is a tale that refers to this place and explains how the naughty witch was punished and transformed into stone. The tales are full of trolls, hounds, worms, and giants and when you are like me a lot on desolate mountain paths, you get an impression how each place has its distinct special energy that fits the mood of the tales. I had the big luck to grow up at the foot of the Untersberg. This mountain is often referred to as the heart chakra of Europe, we know sayings like this even from the Dalai Lama. There are a lot of really obscure tales surrounding the Untersberg, a lot of them contain time phenomenons and dwarves that lead hikers into the center of the mountain. Rauhnåcht breathes the atmosphere of this mountain and other places in my region, I have the music in my mind when I am hiking and I visualize the places when I compose and record. So actually I could also call the style Mountain Metal.

You’ve brought out records with both Sturmpercht and Rauhnåcht. Particularly enjoyable I find my first experience with your music, the release of ‘Zur ew’gen Ruh’ from 2014. How do you walk the tight line, where these projects are distinct, yet also really feed into each other?

I think that arranging is what I am best at. I am not someone who composes great tunes and songs every day, but when I have a basic idea or riff, I can take this as starting point and simply walk in two different directions from there. On this album, I wrote a complete song for Sturmpercht one time, a complete song for Rauhnåcht the other time and then I just deleted everything apart from the basic idea and built the song anew out of this fundament. Again I can use the metaphor of a mountain, this album is one mountain with two peaks, one rough and full of rocks enshrouded in mist, the other one calmer with meadows and fountains and Alp huts, where old farmers tell stories of long forgotten times.

How do you go about writing and creating the music you make? Do you start with the concept or with the music?

It all starts with a feeling. When I play something and my soul resonates in the same way as it does when I am walking some majestic path in the mountains, then I know that a good song has just come into being, I only have to stick to this feeling while doing all the „technical“ work of arranging and producing. Sometimes, even a sample of just one tone played in the right way with the right instrument can create this special feeling that inspires me. This is why I love to work with samples or loops, they immediately throw you into the right mood and often I can even delete them in the end, because I built everything well around them.

To be honest, I almost never start with lyrics or concepts, to the contrary, most of the time a song is already finished as an instrumental before I start to think about the lyrics. It is easy for me to find the best places and melody lines for vocals but hard to find words, especially in German. Sometimes, a few words or a certain line suddenly appears when I repeat a part again and again in my mind. I really like to be intuitive when I create music, usually, this brings much better results than stuff that has been mangled through mind and thoughts for too many times.

The latest release featuring Rauhnåcht, is the ‘Spukgeschichten – Anciennes légendes des Alpes’ record. How did this come into being and what brought the 3 bands on this record together? What can you say about its overall theme?

The idea appeared when I got into contact with Léon from the French bands Grylle and Hanternoz. He is also very fascinated by the old stories of the French parts of the Alps. Tannöd is a mysterious band from Southern Germany that is also rooted in topics about nature and local myths. So we decided to build a bridge over the Alps between France, Austria, and Bavaria. Each band represents its region and on the bonus side of the double LP, I combined field recordings of all three regions, so the listener really is on a trip through the whole Alps.

The aesthetics of your work get a lot of attention. Natural views, pagan imagery and also amazing editions. I imagine a lot of work goes into that. Can you tell something about this? What do you aim for with the physical releases you put out?

I just had the luck to work with the right people who know how to create a fitting visualization of my music. On the first two full-lengths, as well as on the upcoming album, I had Moga Alexandru (Kogaion Art) from Romania as artwork designer. This man really embraces the spirit of nature in his works, I know that he is in deep love with the Romanian mountains and he also takes great pictures. Max from Steinklang shares my faible for special releases like wooden boxes. For the first version of „Zur Ew’gen Ruh“ we had a box with branches from a fir and a bottle of „Zirbenschnaps“, I really like collectors’ items like this. For the Spukgeschichten split, Joanna (Atelier Chandelours), the girlfriend of the Hanternoz singer, drew a super-size painting of the Alps with a broken bridge. I don’t really like artificially constructed Photoshop-covers, at least not for Rauhnåcht, so I either aim for majestic photographs or for paintings of a natural scenery. I like it when a supernatural touch is added, like the creature on Vorweltschweigen, the album cover of the new album will also feature a connection of nature and let’s call it a higher sphere.

Are there any artists you would recommend, that you feel are kindred spirits for you?

For me, still nothing can or will ever beat Bathory, without Under the sign of the black mark, Hammerheart and Twilight of the gods I would have never started music the way I did maybe. I do not follow the current scene at all, in fact I do not listen to metal anymore, but Wolves in the throne room, Agalloch and Evilfeast would be three names that come to my mind now that you ask me this.

Could your music be made anywhere else in your perception?

The funny thing is that several other mountain regions in different parts of the world have similar myths and similar atmospheres in music. I use a lot of samples or instruments from traditional Mongolian music. These people have a long tradition of overtone and throat singing also. The new album will also feature a traditional flute instrument from Persia called Duduk, which has an exceptionally melancholic sound. When I use sounds of alphorns, why not also didgeridoo? Both instruments are clearly related. The first tasks of music as signals over long distances and as vehicle to support rituals and shamanic work were similar with many ancient tribes all around the world. So I don’t limit myself by excluding certain instruments, everything can be used that creates the atmosphere I aim for.

What to you is the meaning of this thing called black metal, specially today?

Okay, basically we have two groups of Black Metal bands, first the „traditionalists“ that still think that it is cool to burn churches and praising Satan in one way or another is essential for a „Black Metal lifestyle“. Second, we have the bands that don’t really care about topics and only like to play Black Metal as a music style. Most of them give themselves a pseudo-ideology and their lyrics are full of serpents and anti-cosmic chaos. When you talk with them, you often can’t find real knowledge about those topics. This is dangerous, because you still open the door to these energies, no matter if you invoke them seriously or only „just for fun“. And there is one thing that those people often do not understand in my opinion: When you want to follow Satan, you only have to swim with the tide of our modern society, he is omnipresent. Continue with your slave-job, eat supermarket-rubbish, follow the ideology of mass media and Satan will for sure be your companion. This does not go well with the rebellish anti-social attitude within Black Metal.

Personally, I respect when bands create a really negative and chaotic atmosphere in their music but this does not correspond with my lifestyle and spirituality. I accept my own inner dark side, as well as the dark sides of this material sphere we live in, but I for myself do not intentionally focus on chaos and destruction. Also I do not believe that anyone can reach true fulfillment through Satan. This is why I actually do not want to call my music Black Metal, on the other hand, people have the constant need to label something. „Atmospheric music with inspiration from Black Metal and Folk“ would be too long, so I understand when my label „Alpine Black Metal“ will still be used in the future. But actually Rauhnåcht contains more colours, so maybe I will be successful in bringing in the term „Mountain Metal“.

What future plans do you have for Rauhnåcht?

The new album called Unterm Gipfelthron will be out in autumn. By the time this interview is online, maybe people will already know the label to release it, right now we did not make an official announcement yet. I still have some ambient material aside, also one long track with a lot of nature sounds and relatively pure arrangement, this is ready to be released on another split or „special release“. In the next years, I’d like to keep up with both, serious well-produced full length releases as well as more obscure, raw and limited stuff.

If you had to describe Rauhnåcht as a type of food, what would it be and why?

Bread baked in a wood-fired oven, smoked cheese on it, mountain herbs on top. And a glass of Zirbenschnaps.

Rauhnåcht contains more colors, so maybe I will be successful in bringing in the term „Mountain Metal“.

Ifernach: Mi’kmaq heritage and black metal

Black metal is rapidly becoming a kaleidoscope of styles and themes, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Gone are the days of strict confines in the music, but at the same time… something goes missing. Luckily in the strange corners of the world, we find bands like Ifernach, who bring the danger and violence back to the genre with a distinct voice.

Ifernach is a one-man project by Finian Patraic, who has a heritage in the native Micmac people and the Irish immigrants. His identity is much intertwined with the project. Ifernach uses French, an expression of the regional identity of Quebec, which metal scene is close to Patraic’s heart. His native language is English and he hails from the city of Chandler on the east coast of Canada. Ifernach has released the latest EP ‘Gaqtaqaiaq’ this year.

Finian Patraic was kind enough to answer some questions about black metal, his roots, the need to protect what is left of his heritage and his way of life.

Ifernach: Roots, bloody roots

Can you start by telling a bit about yourself, your roots and how you started Ifernach? (and when, because that appears to be a mystery). Also, have you been active in other bands?

Ifernach started as my life turned into something really dark.

I was in terrible sadness, madness. I am an active musician, done 9 years of classical music, I play all kinds, but I kept black metal away for all these years because I just wasn’t ready for it. I think black metal was the only option left this time, my punk riffs turned darker, so did the lyrics, so did my opinion of life in general. When you go into black metal, it’s a journey, and maybe there is no way out. It’s hard to explain, but I found peace in this whole darkness, a quiet place where I can dwell and suffer in peace. I won’t mention any of the bands I’ve been into because there is simply no links with what I do today. I record music every day. Someone said Ifernach would release a lot of EP’S because there is only one person behind the project, I guess it’s true. Like I said, I wake up in anger and fury every morning… the day that I will be a happy person that says life is beautiful, my project and journey would probably be over. Anger is what fuels Ifernach.

What bands influenced you musically and how did you end up moving into this particular type of music with extreme sound and, often, extreme thoughts and ideas?

No shame to say Burzum and Darkthrone. Everyone says that, but I think it’s the way we experience their music that changes from people to other people. And also at what time we discovered the genre, what we felt, what we were going through at the time. I will remember that day forever. Putting the needle on Darkthrone’s Transilvanian Hunger was, to me, a tempting invitation to the depths of Transylvania, or Norway… A wild call, and mostly something really really terrifying. Going into Burzum first albums was also a turning point, I don’t want to compare to punk here, but the horrific quality of the audio was inspiring me a lot, just like the punk days at school. That was way before I got into NSBM. No way I’m going to explain that, but this is devil’s music. The more evil it gets, better I like. For me it’s revenge on society, like on Halloween the dead rise back up. Always been a Samhain / Misfits / Danzig fan by the way. It’s crazy that people can love watching murders and torture on the screen and being such dedicated horror fans, but then automatically calls someone out when listening to NSBM or ”racist bands”. If you like murder, if you like guts and blood, you just can’t apply to any ethics code or human-wise shit. ALL MURDER, ALL GUTS, ALL FUNNNN.

Your music deals with very particular topics, related to your own origin. What made you choose this path and black metal as the vehicle for its expression (you may have already answered this above) and can you tell me more about the culture and expression you are sharing in your music?

Norway made me connect with the forest here. Simple as that. Black metal music is forest worshipping, so from time to time I got back into the forest I grew up, and started understanding more the whispers I heard from when I was young. I live on the land where my ancestors (from my mother side) lived and traded with the Europeans. There is a lot of mysteries and untold stories about the natives, and my project speaks about that. I try not to unleash the truth about the culture, but in exposing the dark side of it (wild hunt, torture cults, fire dancing, scalp collecting, to mention a few). I would say I do not speak for the natives. I am a lone wolf. But Ifernach is definitely a native Miq’maw inspired black metal band.

I am fascinated by the way you wear the corpse paint. Can you tell me about its significance? Also, I think I saw pictures with the more traditional form of corpse paint. Did it take much time for you to shape the visual identity that now is Ifernach and how did that process go? What symbols and meanings are people witnessing?

The one I was wearing at the Messe des Morts is a facepaint used for war by the natives more located in the south (USA).

My ancestors were proud warriors but I found no trace to this day of their face looking. They were wearing animal shapes on their bodies, and clothes. Animals were very important to their lives.

Ifernach needs to expose a violent image, you saw it with the knife and moose blood. Sick and tired of victimizing the culture. I was raised in hunting and I will practice the tradition from father to son. These things need to be shown on stage. Passamaquoddy used to wear swastikas on their clothes, don’t be surprised if I’ll wear some one day. Antifa is already crying. Sick of the people bashing our roots, culture, and runes. Ignorant fools raised up by the system!

Separately, I want to ask you about the knife, an item that seems to recur in aesthetic images like the absolutely stunning header image on your Facebook page, to the live shows and photo’s where you wield it, while covered in blood. Can you tell me about that and its meaning?

Just did it. Maybe next time with a gun. Who knows. Too much safe place in metal these days. I hate to play live because of that. Censorship.

Your latest record is Gaqtaqaiaq, which came out on Nekrart Records. Can you tell how this record was conceived and what the theme of this particular release is? I’m also curious how you go about the recording, do you do everything yourself and on what fronts is that most challenging or satisfying?

I record in the most terrible and annoying way possible. Nothing is wireless, cables are all jammed up together, I can barely move my head when I record the drums because I’m losing signal with the headphones. I record drum first, without any ghost track guitars. Crappy computer, one microphone. Cheap ass guitar amp. I play with the EQ’s, volumes, and that’s it. The way native American black metal should be done. Wild, raw and rude. Gaqtaqaiaq is a native word for End of the trail, journey. I wanted to expose the first contact between Native Americans and Irish men that came from the sea, sometimes dying at the end of the sea road. And for the ones who survived, witness a journey inside the mysterious northern woodlands of Gespeg. Fires at night, war cries and drum beatings. A soundtrack for my land, for what happened years and years ago. I sat there on the seashore and been thinking about it. A lot of Irishmen died on the coast, with sinking ships, not to mention the coffin ships. Musically, I couldn’t get a better result in being alone. Looking back at it now, I hate creating something with others, can’t stand it.

Listening to the record musically, I am fascinated by two elements. The first is the ever-present punk vibe in the music, the other is the sound of the guitar. I want to ask you if the first is a correct conclusion and how you created the second.

Right. Always been a punk fan. But not the peace-activist genre. You know the street punk with no future genre. Discharge, Exploited, stuff like that. Real punk. Don’t fucking tell me Sid had something to do with veganism and politics. Fuck ’em all. I love Carpathian Forest because of that, they got that same pissed off mentality like we’re gonna kill everyone and piss on their bodies, whether you care or not. ‘Laments of Eriu’ had a pretty raw guitar sound, when you look on Gaqtaqaiaq, it has a more atmospheric vibe with some delay. 4 guitar tracks playing all different paths and sometimes an old piano, that’s how I manage to do it.

I’m curious about your choice for the French language, as I understand it is not your mother tongue. Being a speaker of multiple languages myself, I can see how one may be more fitting for what you desire to express, but I’d like to ask you about this.

I been into a lot of Forteresse and Monarque records, two important acts in the Metal Noir Quebecois genre. Also, we all know native Micmacs fought the English alongside with the Canadiens-Français. It was some sort of dedication to the French language, and also that, as an English-born person, I am proud to speak a good French language, in the province, I grew up. Finally, I have to say it’s a little protest against all the Micmac books all written in English. The reds destroyed everything here, on my land and all around, their language even got into our culture and legends… It’s a shame.

You’ve described your style as savage black metal. Where would you say the savage element is and what does it embody to you, as in how would you describe that element of your music?

I try to express what I hear and what I feel when going into these familiar woods within my music, I want the people to hear the wild call I’ve heard. Transcend the voices into the music. I don’t know. These forests are filled with old legends, sometimes still marked with the signs of the past. Savage also because I want to expose more ”savage” themes with the music, like mention before (hunting, war rituals…) you know things that are not into books at school, some Anti-evolution practices. Against the modern world. I go outside in winter at -40 with some cheap ass fucking boots that I bought on the internet when I can go outside, kill a beaver, and make me the greatest boots I ever had of my life. This is how I would describe it. Even if we live in 2018, my main goal is still to learn how my elders used to survive on the land. There are so many techniques and tools that are lost in time… For example, I saw an old Innu tradition, that was literally to put blueberry paste into a tree bark cone, with teeth-written imagery on it, to survive the cold winters. How crazy is that? It was more important to learn chemical formulas or maths at school. Fuck that shit. Don’t think savages are fools, because they can’t do math, it’s because they are happy without numbering what they have.

When I asked you if you were willing to answer these questions, you made a point of not wanting to be associated with Antifa. Can you elaborate on that?

Fuck the code. Fuck censorship.

My ancestors died because of an immigrant invasion.

In the Antifa codebook, I am a total nazi for stating these… facts.

Graveland got canceled in Montreal because of Antifa, and the famous sign shown in the news saying: Heil Satan, Not Hitler.

These kinds of things remind me why my culture has been erased from its own land.

Well, to be honest, basically it’s free hate for everyone…
– about black metal and politics.

There’s a thin line between proud of one’s roots and hatred for the other. How do you look at this, in the light of your earlier mentioning of NSBM?

Well, to be honest, basically it’s free hate for everyone. It’s how I see it. It’s also a political thing but you know, in life I’d rather be the wolf, the lion, not a sheep following the others blindly… In my culture, the natives were strong people, fast hunters, we kinda lost our path. My hate comes from there, now we’re just rejects from the system, looking good buying things and feeding this whole monster that mixes everybody into the same mold; working, paying. I never said my color was better than another one. But my color has vanished (the red skins). People these days are putting tags everywhere like you say something, automatically you’re this, you’re that. Like just because I fight for the nativity of my land, automatically I am against black people. I truly believe that with the school system, social mentality and internet going on with their stupid trends, all hope is lost for native culture revival, so why let all these newcomers in? Back then we had tribes, separated by the habits of life and the ways to survive in our own environment. I believe in war, I believe in adversity, I believe in fighting, I believe in violence. Go take a walk into those woods you’ll find out. Life on earth, we changed everything, but it all comes up to one thing; survival.

Perhaps on a related note, what do you think that the role is for black metal in the world of today? Is it still a voice of rebellion and if so, what does it rebel against?

I think the problem is bands that are saying don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t support this, people will follow you blindly. Black metal is total war. No code, no rules. I think it is still a voice for rebellion (if you look at Kiev and their awesome festival) , and surely something more than just canceled shows by Antifa. In the end, some of them are musicians earning money, and I’m okay with that. But I hope it will always be the voice of evil, no matter what evil is (and I’m not talking about black metal coffee). Black metal went mainstream with Varg and Euronymous. I saw a rapper talking about Euronymous.. wow. Internet world today also, very hard to come out with something real and authentic.

What future plans do you have for Ifernach?

I have one show in the record, maybe one next in the winter of 2019. I am alone here, the guys who played with me at the Messe des Morts are very far from me (8 to 12 hours drive). It’s very hard to play a show live. I keep recording and reading. And learning the native language. Ankami, Wije’wi. Kiwaja’lin, We’kwata’si… I have a surprise release for Halloween eve. A tribute to horror, something a little off-series for Ifernach.

If you had to compare Ifernach to a dish, what would it be and why?

Raw meat. bloody flesh. The way my elders loved it. The way I am trying to enjoy it. Hahaha…

Disclaimer: The opinions voiced in this article are those of the artist. In no way am I endorsing these ideas as they are not my own. As we live in a time of turmoil, I feel that trying to understand others is a lost art at times and I hope this provides the reader with insights. 

Furia: Silesian Nekrofolk between concrete and green

You either love what they do, or you don’t. Furia is not for everyone, but the Polish band has continuously searching within the realm of black metal and folklore for new expressions. Nekrofolk, they call their sound, which at times definitely combines that necro sound with folky passages. Intriguing is the world that fits here.

It’s been a while since their latest release, which was ‘Księżyc milczy luty’. An album that truly moves away from the black metal stigma and earns the band some interesting artistic comparisons along the way. Even more interesting was their EP ‘Guido’, which I liked for obvious reasons, but it was recorded far underground in one of the mines of their native Silesia. An interesting region historically, if you are interested in that (which I am).

During Roadburn 2018, I met with Nihil and Sars from the band, to have a chat. Upon arrival, it is clear that we deal with intense personalities. Nihil hides behind his sunglasses and smokes one cigarette after another. When he speaks it’s slow and with a mild slur at times. Yet as we progress and touch upon interesting topics, he becomes more pronounced and lively. Makes sense, since most of the times the questions are the same (and so are some of mine). Sars is more quiet but brooding and intense. His gaze bores into you and his words are like daggers, sharp and spoken with an urgency and directness.

Of mines and the moon

How was it to play Roadburn for you?
Nihil: It was almost perfect. I didn’t like the beginning of the show, there were some problems with the sound. I didn’t like that it was daytime, but the show got better as we went and the last song felt like a full 100% for me. I really enjoyed it, people seemed satisfied.

Your last song, was that a very personal experience?
Nihil: The last song is very important. For me personally, as during the live set, this is a kind of ‘wydinia’, a release of what we have inside of us. I don’t know why, but it is perfect for the end. You can’t put it to words. Every song is a personal expression, yet that song is special to us.

As I hear your music, it’s very hard to put you down in a genre box. Do you feel that a festival like Roadburn is the right fit for a band like Furia to play?
Nihil: Yeah, I think every festival is right for a band like Furia, because we’re just playing music. For me it is just music at least, so we play different festivals like OFF festival or Primavera in Barcelona. I think you can say pop festivals?
Sars: One festival we were playing featured a post-black band and a pop artist from Poland and we were in between, and that was ok.

Furia live @ Roadburn by Paul Verhagen

Would you prefer this to an exclusively black metal festival, since you are usually put in that category?
Sars: Actually, I don’t like black metal festivals, because it is so narrow-minded. It doesn’t fit for us.

What is often used for your music, and I’m curious where it comes from, is the term ‘nekrofolk’?
Nihil: Hard to say, what inspires us is not different bands so much. Sure, we pick up their influences, but that’s not the main thing. Most important for us is our lives, where and how we live. That is very special for us because we live in an area that is both industrial and very green. It is very weird to have those two things, I’ve never seen a similar place anywhere. I think that’s why we are strange.

Could you then say that the term is a combination of the two elements, that the nekro represents the industrial barren and folk the green?
Nihil: I think that nekro is us, we are nekros. We are dead.

That requires some explanation, why are you nekro?
Nihil: I don’t know… (turns to Sars) Why are we nekro?
Sars: We are not useful for society. It’s hard to explain, but like Nihil says, we are playing nekrofolk because we are from Silesia. Of course, when we started we wanted to play black metal and we listen and play in many black metal bands. Now, that is not the most important thing. We want to express ‘us’.

I get from that that you have shaped your music into something very much more personal, strongly based on where you are from. I am interested in where you are from, can you describe Silesia as your place?
Nihil: You have to come see it. It’s industrial and the mentality is different.
Sars: Historically, the region belonged to everyone. It has influences from Czech, German, Polish and other owners and that has shaped it in a way. Silesians became their own sort of people because of that. When the Germans invaded Poland and took over Katowice, one of the biggest cities of Upper Silesia, there were people firing at them and others waving and welcoming the soldiers as if they were part of them. It’s complex to this very day because there are still people who might not feel German but have a strong kinship with all these nations. They’re not from anywhere really but from Silesia. These days, when nationality is very important in Poland for the government, saying you are Silesian is a controversial thing.

So to round up, Silesian identity is shaped by its history, gaining a very distinct identity due to not really being a part of any other nation? As I understand, you also derive a lot in your music from that history and folklore. What sort of stories or ideas are those?
Nihil: I think it is not so much about stories, but more our feelings about these.
Sars: We are part of those stories and we want to create new ones. Not just about our area, but also about us. We use parts of that local folklore but in our own way. We tell them through our own perspectives and experiences.

I think that nekro is us, we are nekros. We are dead.  – Nihil

Furia live @ Roadburn by Paul Verhagen

As I understand it, you don’t view yourself as part of the black metal scene or any scene at all really. You’ve also stated that as a musical entity you are hermetic. How big or small is that unit, to what does it extend or is there any kinship that fits in your circle with other artists?
Nihil: It’s just us, not some group of people. There are some bands in Poland we are close to in such way, but it’s more on a social level and not coded with rules. We really just play our own stuff without plans of getting bigger.

Does that help to hold on to the identity, that you consciously control what comes into your work?
Nihil: Actually, I think we are starting to control that, but earlier it was much more unconsciously. We were not really in control, just drunk and playing all the time. Now, we are getting older and more mature, more aware of what we want to specifically do.

I would like to talk about your latest record a bit too and I am particularly fascinated by the release ‘Guido’, recorded hundreds of meters underground in a Silesian mine with that same name. How did this idea come about and how did it all got done?
Nihil: For us, this idea came very naturally because the coal mines are for us a regular thing and part of our industrial region. Mining culture is a part of the Silesian environment we come from. When we saw it was possible to record a record down there, we just did it.
Sars: It just makes sense, because when people think about Silesia, they think of Germans and coal mines. It was obvious we had to go underground to record it.

Wasn’t it a challenge to get down there and did you write your songs with a specific feeling to them?
Nihil: It was our first time down there and obviously it was technically hard to get our stuff down there. We only had one day to record, but that went rather well. I didn’t feel very unusual down there, just very focused and I didn’t think about anything else. In one way it was like every recording, but I can’t put to words the uniqueness of the experience.
Sars: We were prepared for that, we knew we had one day and so our mindset was set to do it. There were interesting situations though, like the typical elevator that was used by miners years ago, which had 3 levels and on every one was a part of our equipment.
Nihil: The strange thing is that the second part of the recording is improvised and we are not good technical musicians, but it came out the way we wanted it to be. We are satisfied.

When I listen to this record, it really is essentialist, very stripped down. Perhaps it captures the essence of what you do, do you feel that way?
Nihil: Well, in some way. But every record captures something and is very different, but the feeling you describe might come from the fact that it was recorded in the coal mine, underground, which influences your perception.
Sars: It really is a part of this record. We were 320 meters underground and listening to this music you have to think about these surroundings. It is part of the record, the place where it was made. We could have done it in the studio too and claimed it was done in a mine, but I think this made us perhaps push harder and work more intensely.

I suppose that in a way, recording down there, is in a way the most isolated place you could find to record, yet also be in the center of where you are from, both physically and conceptually.
Nihil: We should do every record in a mine. It won’t be cheap though…

You also released the album ‘Księżyc milczy luty’, and what is mostly written about this great piece of music is noteworthy. Firstly, you are more and more often compared to bands outside of the black metal sphere and secondly, a lunar quality is ascribed to the record. Could you tell me what that is?
Nihil: We need a whole night to talk about this, but the most simple way to describe it for me is that the moon leads us and we want to escape from the earth. The moon is our goal and guiding light, that is what the record is about. By which I mean, that we don’t belong to this world, so the moon is a symbol of different worlds to us. That’s all I can say right now because it’s very hard to talk about the lyrics. I don’t like that sort of questions, because what we try to say, we say in the lyrics. These are poetic and we shouldn’t demystify them by talking too much about them.

I definitely am not going to ask you to explain the lyrics, as you say they contain a lot of meaning to be found by the listener. What I am curious about is the concept behind them, the way you now describe the moon as a guiding light, an otherworldliness, which is very familiar from mythologies.
Nihil: Well, you mention the mythologies and you are right there, but it is not like we try to follow the mythologies, but we fill them. This mythology comes through us, it is our own experience shaped as if we are those ancients. We are not playing to be the ancient people, but like them, we make our own myths, our own folklore.

In a sense, we are simple people, which again is part of being from Silesia. We are common people that experience and feel. It’s not intellectualizing that but just express.

When you write music like this, where do you start? Is it with music or perhaps with an idea?
Nihil: It’s always an idea, which grows for a long time before you start to play. From the idea flows a concept of lyrics and then we begin rehearsals. That’s really the whole process for us, but the idea is central to how we make music.
Sars: The idea shapes the context you need, so it helps to make sense of what you’re doing and where you go. The sound is merely the expression of that idea.

You all play in a ton of projects and you’ve been making a variety of nuanced changes in your music over the years. How do you then know where a piece of music or lyrics fit in best?
Nihil: It’s always hard to put this to words, but it feels really obvious. It comes completely natural, because I don’t play a riff and then try to fit it, but the other way around. When I’m in Furia, that’s where I am and nowhere else. There are no other projects, it’s very simple at that point. It’s not like you make a choice doing it, you just do that which you are doing at the moment.
Sars: As he said, there’s the beginning of an idea for Furia, then there’s music coming from that idea and lyrics. That must be for Furia, it comes from that ground and it works in an organic way.

We are part of those stories and we want to create new ones.
– Sars

Furia live @ Roadburn by Paul Verhagen

Your sound is definitely moving away from the black metal roots, but where do you see yourself moving in the near future?
Nihil: We are going nowhere. That’s the truth of it because we don’t think that way. The music is a tool for our expression, so it comes when it comes. We are working on a new idea with more blasts, more black metal sounds, but it’s not like we want to move back to black metal. It is just the next idea and the form it takes. We see what it is when it comes, it’s a gut feeling.

Would you see a possibility of Furia becoming even more stripped down, creating a folk sound? Not traditional folk, but Furia folk.
Nihil: I don’t know…
Sars: We’re not planning so that is hard to say and we play what we feel. Unfortunately, we don’t know where that may go.

You mention that you feel an affinity with certain bands, an association if I may. Which are those and why?
Nihil: Most important for us would be Licho, they are a new band with a strong folklore element in their music. Perhaps even more strong than in ours. Members are also active in Koniec Pola. What I like about them is that they look to the inside as well. They don’t imitate other bands but follow their own experiences.
Sars: The folklore aspect is intriguing to me, so I hope they will keep recording and working on more music. We like to help them with live shows and such, so they are important to us.
Nihil: There is a project, titled Túrin Turambar, which is a very old band but quite underground. It’s with them the same as with Licho, they base their work on their own experiences, so I love it. It’s Polish, which is partly why I love it. It’s not nationalism, but it’s an expression of our way of life, the way we think. If you then sing in Polish, it captures that identity, it’s the truth.
Sars: More importantly maybe, are the people in these bands. Like in Licho, when we meet them, they are a lot younger but it doesn’t create a divide. We connect and we understand each other and what we do. There’s a kindred in our way of expressing.

Does it feel as if you go abroad when you leave Silesia?
Nihil: Maybe a little bit, but not so strong. We are different, but we’re also Polish.

If you had to identify Furia as a kind of food, what would it be and why?
Nihil: A rotten apple?
Sars: A big sausage with onions!
Nihil: Sausage with onion and rotten apple it is.

 

Pictures by Paul Verhagen

Colombia as it once was: Guahaihoque

Metal runs deep in the veins of South America and Colombia is no different. Though most people will know the country through its recent troubled history, there’s an ancient past in the Andean country. Guahaihoque tries to catch that in their music, and have been doing so for a good while now.

Having started in 1996, it’s been a good two decades for the band, who merge Andean folk with black metal in a very own way. Having started ahead of the folk metal boom, their sound is unique and hardly unchanged from the raw roots it stems from.

I found them willing to answer questions about Colombia, their history and music and what freedoms they currently have in their country.

Ancestral traditions and black metal

How have you guys been?
Hello, Yes, everything is fine.

How did Guahaihoque get started and what does the name mean?
Guahaihoque started out as an entity with the intention to evoke our ancestry. So, we formed the band with that main goal.
Guahaihoque is an entity, also a god of an ancient mythology from our homeland, it´s the lord of death, the one who protects the threshold of eternity, one of its duties is to wait for the souls of the dead to guide them to the eternity, in its deep dominions in the center of his sacred lagoon.

What bands got you into this kind of music in the first place?
To be honest, we had no specific bands guiding our musical path. We don´t deny that we have been influenced so far, but perhaps most of the music that helped out to find our style is not metal, but traditional ancient music from the Andean mountains. We feel respect for so many bands, especially of the 90s, like old Ulver, Cruachan, Thyrfing, Borknagar, Falkenbach, Panthymonium, Opeth, Withered Beauty, Master’s Hammer, Arcturus, Hypnos, icons like Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath and many more.

In your music, you put a lot of traditional elements. Could you tell what sorts of stories, instruments, and ideas make up the music of Guahaihoque? And of course, the cultural heritage that you try to emulate.
Our music is deeply inspired by the ancient tradition of our continent. Guahaihoque is not focused on one culture, but in many of the 3 Americas (North, Central & South). Our songs speak of myths, legends, battles, epic topics, rituals also we evoke the ancient times before the invaders came. We use woodwind instruments, such as Quena flute, Quenacho flute, Pan flutes, Tarkas, Toyos, Zampoñas, Ocarinas and others. Our intention was/is to blend extreme metal with the ancestral music of our continent, not only for intros, instrumental songs or passages but also in extreme metal parts full of chaos.

We felt the need to pay tribute to our ancestral tradition, as other bands did/do with their folklore in Europe, Asia, etc. There is a big source of inspiration because of great cultural heritage, such as Mayas, Aztecs, Incans, Muiscas, Calimas, Taironas, Moches, etc.

What sorts of instruments do you use into your music and how do you bring all of that together in a fierce metal sound? Do you start with a base of metal or with the folk parts?
As I said on in the previous question, we use several different traditional instruments, those instruments existed prior to the cultural blend when Spaniards came to our continent.
The songwriting process is not planned, each song is created in a particular way, some start with acoustic instruments and woodwinds, but also with the metal formula as most bands do, it depends on the feeling and mood of each song.

How does the creative process for Guahaihoque look and could you describe this?
It starts in a natural way, we always try to do our own thing, we don´t want to be a copy band, if we feel that a riff or melody sounds similar to another band it´s changed or deleted to avoid such thing.

Are you currently working on something new? Your last record appears to be from 2007, how is it that your production is quite minimal and as I understood in the past your band has been kept on hold for a long time?
Yes, we are. Well, we are not the typical band releasing an album every year, we have no the intention to be a massive act, we make music for passion not for business. We have had several years of silence because we live in different countries, but we are still working in silence and when a new material is ready, it will see the light.

You’ve been active for a long time, through some turbulent times. Can you tell me something about the scene in Colombia through the years and how the social changes affected the music/scene and its development?
The scene in Colombia is full of concerts, mainly international ones actually, most support is for those big bands, the local scene is full of bands, few small labels. Our scene is not organized or solid, every band works in an independent way. There have existed a few good acts for years, nowadays most of the bands don´t worry for making or finding it’s own sound or style, most of them are fully influenced by European or North American bands, I mean in sound and style.

Your record came out under Xue Productions. What can you tell about this label?
Xue is our own label, we decided to produce everything by ourselves because most of the offerings from labels sucked off, they only wanted to get a master recording and to release an album without giving us support, we did it because it was not fair for us, most labels only want to make money and they don’t give a fuck for the bands they are supposed to support. it´s a shame. so why not do it by ourselves?

How did metal music come to Colombia and which bands pioneered the genre in your country? What places were important for its incubation?
In past years most music came by tape-trading or some metalheads had relatives living in Europe and those sent the music to Colombia, also there a few ones promoting music through magazines, radio shows and so on, later on, the internet was the media to make it popular and almost commercial. According to my viewpoint, there were no pioneers in Colombia, most of the bands played Thrash, Heavy, Death and Black metal and those bands didn´t do a big thing for the genre.

How well is everything available to you? Rehearsal spaces, recording facilities, instruments, venues to play live? From neighboring countries, I’ve learned that this can be a challenge.
Nowadays there are tons of rehearsing places with good equipment, also a lot of studios, what we don´t have are good producers or engineers, most of them are empirical and their lack of knowledge does affect the final result of so many bands work. For concerts, there are some good venues. instruments are easy to get. With the new technologies it is quite easier to record, so most bands or musicians are learning to make their own recordings and also have made own home studios. This helps a lot because you have the option to work in a free way before entering professional studios (as those are very expensive). We are doing the same in our own homestudio.

Do you face any sort of censorship or social pressure as metal musicians in Colombia? In the documentary Blackhearts, I saw that religion is very present in your country and extreme music often seems to clash with this and I wonder if that causes tension for you?
Well, Metal is very strong in Colombia, most bands do their own thing, the government has no censorship, there are some festivals supported by the government. Religion is everywhere, but our constitution makes actually Colombia a secular country, so the religion has no power to control metal music in a legal way. There is no tension for us, a curious thing. We have received good response from people not into metal because of our topics and musical label ( I mean style and lyrical content). We are not connected with blasphemous acts, we are not the typical “hail satan” outfit.

What current bands from Colombia should people really check out and why?
There are good bands in Colombia, like the necessary folk bands, they are worth checking because their music is good and they work in an honest way. Also such bands as Thundarkma, Apolion´s Genocide, Exgenesis, Chaquen, Endeathed, Nameless, Gutgrinder, Ignis Haereticvm among others.

I have noticed a lot of nature imagery on your Facebook page. What role does nature play in your work?
Nature has been and will always be an important thing for Guahaihoque, everything and all of us do belong to nature, the forests, highlands, sacred lagoons are a big source of inspiration, many of those places were/are sacred for our forefathers and for us too.
We feel respect for our nature, including animals and sacred places. We are against destroying nature.

What future plans does Guahaihoque have?
To release new material, so we are working on it and sooner or later it will be heard for those who have supported us so far, our main goal is to create honest and sincere music instead of releasing music each year as a mainstream act. our music is not for all kind of listeners, it´s for all those who are connected with the ancient traditions and paganism of these Andean mountains and land named nowadays as America.

If you had to compare your band to a dish (type of food), what would it be and why?
G: I see no reason to make such comparison, but to give you a response I might say that our musical recipe isn´t the typical shit you eat at a McDonalds or KFC. We are not stating that we are the most original band, but we have always tried to work in our own way and sound. so every listener should taste it and say if it´s a good or bad dish, it´s not our thing, …our thing is to give and raise the best ingredients for it.

Thank you for the support and interview