Category Archives: Music

From the mountains to beyond the wall of sleep

It’s music that sometimes helps to take you away from the dull, mundane affairs that fill our daily lives. We don’t all get to be sassy Instagram models, parading the luxurious holiday places or the exceptional bits of nature, some of us just need to join the daily drag. So do I.

These are tunes that take me to those places though, to the magical bits of nature that I can only dream about most of the time, the vast mountains and deep forests through synths, ambient and other forms of music. Follow the path, sometimes it’s overgrown and hard to find, but it’s there and leading far from the regular throng of people that stick to their Netflix and literary thriller reads.

Kaya North – Tribal Mountain

Origin: France
Label: The Eagle Stone Collective

There’s hardly a more awe-inspiring image to present than a sheer face of rock. The pillars on this cover, truly captivate me and so does the mild drone that sets on as I launch this release by Caleb R.K. Williams. Under the name Kaya North, Williams is releasing a  project of improv music, next to the solo work, Eagle Stone, Old Green Mountain, Uktena Kult and Cosmic Canyon (and probably a dozen other). All projects of ambient, nature-inspired. This record just offers the drones with little ripples, like the tiny holds and nooks you’ll find in the rock. It’s booming, with the odd sound of a circling bird of prey resounding through the booming tunes. There’s a tension in the sound, that you recognize when you’ve ever climbed a rock face with little between you than the rope, a next clip a meter or three ahead and your trembling fingers. It’s a feeling you can barely describe, but you can capture it in sound it turns out.

Black Hill & Silent Forest – Tales of the Night Forest

Origin: Hungary
Label:  Self-released

The artwork by Kapiller Ferenc is easily confused by me for that of Costin Chioreanu. It depicts nature as something idyllic, something almost perfectly outlined in the green, vibrant and natural colors he uses. It’s perfect over by this release of Black Hill & Silent Forest. A duo of projects that mash into the postrocky storytelling on ‘Tales of the Night Forest’. Like a gentle, babbling brook the guitars flow by. The lack of drums help to diminish any ostentatious flourish in the music, keeping the flow tranquil and soft. From the elusive ‘The gathering of deer’ to the melancholy of ‘An old owl calling’, the album keeps you in a state of flux, just as a witness to the beauty and pleasant harmony of the forest. An absolute pleasure to dwell within the tunes of Black Hill & Silent Forest for a while, no matter the pressure you’re currently feeling.

Kalmankantaja – Tuulikannel

Origin: Finland
Label:  Illuminandi Service

Kalmankantaja translates as ‘death bearer’ and is a black metal band from Finland, who uses a lot of synth and atmosphere in his music. An odd including perhaps in this aural traverse, but his easy flow makes his work as immersive to me as the others, so I gladly sidestep tot the shimmering stream of black metal that opens ‘Tuulikannel’ with ‘Aarnihauta’, a track that will last up to 14 minutes. The progression on both tracks is slow, with the occasional guttural scream emerging from the murky mists of the forests the sound appears to emulate. On the second track, we encounter a melancholic dirge, that repeats and meanders onward for minutes. Even when the music swells to a more rocking sound, there’s always that hint of continuity and an endless stream moving forward on ‘Tuulikannel’. The vocals sound hateful, but this is merely a crust to the deep greyness of the music. Which is wonderful…

Sun Through Eyelids – Glacial Iridescence

Origin: New Zealand
Label: ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ

But let us step back into nature with Sun Through Eyelids. A deep ambient act, consisting of Tom Necklen and Meghan Wood. On ‘Glacial Iridescence’ they take you to an eerie polar landscape or an Alpine glacier, where they freely explore sounds and let nature offer its healing magic to the listener on the drony tunes of ‘Shelter of the Taiga’ or ‘Subarctic Oasis’. Booming sounds, with reverb attached to its edges, gets complemented with distant music and cold keys, maybe with a mouth harp here and there? It sounds like the buzzing of an insect as astral waves wash over you. Yet as you stick with the sound, your blood seems to thrum in your veins and your ears feel like they are in the middle of the sound instead of simply receiving it. An almost transcendental experience looms, with the sound of water, birds and nature, all acting in harmony and pure majesty together, not needing humanity one bit for its perennial cycle and balance.

Oneiromancer/MAW – Oneiromancer/MAW

Origin: USA
Label: A Moment of Clarity Records/Orb Weaver Collective

Oneiromancery is a form of divination based on dreams, which is quite an apt name for the act that provides the first side of this record. Titled ‘Dukkha’, it’s a slow waxing and waning of tumultuous drones and odd chanting, which feels as if it gets lost in the sounds of the wind. The droning keeps intensifying, forming a wall that drowns you in it, drowns the noise in your head and takes you to a place of tranquility. A valuable experience, when you’re caught up in thinking instead of doing. Subtle melodies weave through, but not at regular speeds but briefly rising from the noise and sinking again. ‘Naljor’ by MAW then just slithers by mostly, in near silence, with far-removed sounds, but ending in what feels like a guitar wall. A mystical experience, all in all, this release.

Underground Sounds: Ride for Revenge – Sinking the Song

Label: Independent
Band: Ride For Revenge
Origin: United States

Ride For Revenge appears to have been around forever and are part of that dirties, grittiest segment of the Finnish black metal realms. Their sound is almost atrocious, disgusting and profoundly evil and that is particularly enjoyable from this band. Even the artwork resonates with its origins, with a red logo and black and white artwork.

The band has been out there since 2001 and the members seem to be in a ton of other acts. At the core of the group we find Harald Mentor, who has been riding the wave of hatred since the start as founder and also plays in Flooded Church of Asmodeus, Militaris-tic (in which bass player J. Pervertor is also active), and Uskonrauha. Drummer Harri Kuokkanen notably also plays in Hooded Menace and Horse Lattitudes, some excellent bands in my humble opinion.

Initially, you might think you’re listening to one of the rawest, unpolished demo recordings ever, originating from some basement, a tape recorder and a bunch of mildly untalented musicians. You may be on to something there because that is consistently the sound Ride For Revenge produces. Gritty, slow and muddy black metal, full of demented growls and rickety rhythms, that almost sound too simple to be considered fitting. Gnarly guitars welcome you from the first track, as the band drags itself onward.

Band leader Harald Mentor has a voice, that sounds barely human, which proves effective. Joined by the solid slabs of unpolished black metal, Ride for Revenge barrages onward on ‘The One and Same and All’ and never comes to a halt without the grinding squeaks and squeals of guitars being vigorously tormented. Lumbering rhythms make it sound as if there’s glue or slime attached to the skins, as the next dissonant guitar line is spun out on ‘Sinking The Song’. What a trip this record is, much like driving your car with only 3 wheels, barely any gas, no front window and 50 miles to go.

Underground Sounds: xGADDAVÍRx & AAIIEENN

Label: Independent
Band: xGADDAVÍRx & AAIIEENN
Origin: Iceland

There are two great things about bands from Iceland. One is their incessant hunger to create and innovate, the second is their refusal to be confined in narrow-cast genres. I am hardly surprised, therefore, that straight edge hardcore wreckers xGADDAVÍRx team up with electronics artist AAIIEENN.

AAIIEENN hails from Grundarfjörður and produces electronics that are raw and straight-forward, yet weirdly captivating. Cooperating Akranes band xGADDAVÍRx is a fascinating clash of two styles that still works pretty well since, I quite dig this release and am eager to share it with you here.

xGADDAVÍRx is a violent eruption of Icelandic proportions. Bottled up rage and fury is what they deliver after the distorted, electro-intro of ‘Freki Karlinn’. Simmering riffing brings the song on, after which a galloping pace takes over as the band races onward to oblivion with a catchy tune and energetic pace. Vocals are furiously spat out. Man, this grips me. That actually makes the follow-up ambient grooves of AAIIEENN so weird. One minute of flowing water and tranquility, following directly on the violence has a particular contradictory effect on the listener.

We switch back to the Icelandic hardcore punkers, with ‘Kominn með Nóg’. This song sounds like they’re chopping wood, with constant strikes of a hatched. The rattling base is a prominent element in the grooving sound, but it’s that drum that keeps knocking you to the head with force. Some high-intensity riffing comes in as well, to add a taste of fire to the whole expression on a galloping pace. After a brief break, we go to the real beatdown part. This band is so hard, you got to love it. We close the split with another AAIIEENN track, namely ‘Hypersurface’, which is a Nintendo-beat dance tune, featuring hardcore vocals roaring over it. A bit like Enter Shikari when they were at their must awesome. Sweet beat too.

Underground Sounds: Neamh-Mharbh – Neamh-Mharbh

Label: self-released
Band: Neamh-Mharbh
Origin: Ireland

From the far Galway, Ireland, comes the act Neamh-Mharbh, who play a distinctly dark and gloomy bit of atmospheric black metal. It seems the west of the green island has a particular knack for the utterly dark and haunting you’d say.

Little is known about the band, and the only connective point I’ve found is the mention of Ben Merlin Wilkinson from the UK-based Where The Crows Gather as a guest vocalist on ‘Excursion of Cathrain’, linking the band to a wider UK black metal movement keen on the atmosphere.

The sound that greets you on ‘Genesis’ is unlikely described as atmospheric black metal. Yet, the band might actually more approach a sort of churning funeral doom with its slow, leveled drones. Deep, guttural vocals resound from the bowels of the earth. We do move more towards that black metal barrage on ‘The Terror of the Revenant’, though the sound never gets a flowing motion to it and sticks to the simmering and seething sound, offering a blood-curdling sense of doom.

As in a three-step rocket, it’s the track ‘Excursion of Cathrain’ that goes full on in its ascending riffing and tumultuous drumming. A fierce grasp to the heavens in full vigor and vitality. The record takes a turn on ‘A Grave of Thorns’, where a folkish, tribal tune slowly unfolds. A sense of serenity comes over the listener, as the slow, throbbing wavers like a fog over the hillsides. It’s a simple sort of beauty, hard to dismiss. The vast atmosphere comes to a close with ‘Remission’, which may be the best song of the album yet.

This record was a surprise, as the cover left me a bit puzzled. Yet, this record is a remarkable piece of heavy, captivating atmosphere that tells you something of its origins.

 

 

Underground Sounds: Svalbard – It’s Hard to Have Hope

Label: Holy Roar
Artist: Svalbard
Origin: United Kingdom

The fourpiece Svalbard has been around for a bit. Named after the frozen, Norwegian island far up north, the band plays what can be best described as post-metal or post-hardcore, yet their whole concept seems to resonate with the wavering spirit of the punk and hardcore community as they brazenly touch upon the topics of this time and age on ‘It’s Hard to Have Hope’.

This is the second full length by the English group, who originate from Bristol. Their sound is a rich tapestry of black metal, hardcore and some crust and post influences, which creates something that is full of vitality, but also complex and layered in its own right.

Have you ever worked as an ‘Unpaid Intern’? Because Svalbard has you anthem now. Furious screams and ascending melodies with a deep-rooted frustration behind them launch at you with ferocity. Pretty much sticking to that, the song ‘Revenge Porn’ is as visceral and essential as the opener, with lyrics that are as straightforward and direct as you can get. The beauty is that there is no accusation, no closed statement, but open questions and ideas conveyed in the song. In that lies its very power.

Let’s not forget that hardcore traditionally is hardline opinions and Svalbard in that sense makes you think. You don’t need to be idealistically aligned with the band to gain some wisdom from their songs. On ‘Feminazi’ the position is slightly more forceful, while the music takes on a more melodic an driven sound. Yet, there’s so much explanation and context given, this is a musical dialogue with any opponent. It puts the record in a very different light for me, which demands respect.  The feel of their sound is much like More Than Life and Touché Amoré to me. Full of feeling and excitingly melodic, a great piece of music to really get your heart beating a bit faster and gain some purpose.

The energy is infectious, while the passion is almost tangible on this record. It defines the relevance of hardcore, even today in a world that doesn’t seem to hold its breath for 2 seconds, whatever comes their way. Svalbard nails it.

 

Trappist: Hell bent for brews

Sometimes a band just finds that golden ticket, combining topics that were not before really connected. Metal and punk have a long history with beer. Good beer, bad beer, truly bad beer and so forth, but everyone has an appraisal for the glorious taste of Trappist. Naming your band after the brewing monks concoction only seems natural when you really look at it.

Trappist combine thrashing metal, d-beat punk and tongue-in-cheek humor to create a tasty bit of music to be savored with high-pace and sturdy drinks. The band consists out of Chris Dodge (Spazz, ex-Despise You, ex-Infest, etc.), Phil Vera (Crom, Despise You, ex-(16)-) and Ryan Harkins (co-owner of popular heavy metal-themed burger joint Grill Em’ All), I’m excited to have found the gents willing to answer some questions for Stranger Aeons. So here it goes!

Brew’m all: Trappist

Can you tell me how Trappist got started? And what role does Hour of the Barbarian play in it?

Ryan and Chris were fucking off doing some songs together and we’re going to just release a 7”. They asked me to join and we started writing all kinds of songs and realized we could do a whole record. Hour of the Barbarian is our time to get drunk and bullshit and talk about the crap we’ve been doing and also go on extra long tangents and interrupt Ryan whenever we get the chance.

You’ve all been in other bands, what is different about this project?

All the bands I’ve either played in or still play in have been different that’s for sure. It helps to actually be playing in a trio though. Less fucking people to deal with to get stuff done. That’s a major difference.

Do you guys also actually brew beer? I have the feeling you do. 

Dodge has brewed beer with a couple guys from Eagle Rock Brewery, but I can’t remember what they brewed?

Can you tell me about the process of creating ‘Ancient Brewing Tactics’? Over what period did it happen and how did it go down?

We originally did a 10 song demo that we were going to try to put out ourselves, but Relapse was interested so we used some of the demo songs and wrote a bunch more for the record. From the beginning of the recording to the actual release date it took about a year. That includes getting the artwork together, consuming beverages, etc.

You are all in prolific bands, so how did you find time for this record? 

We all got our stuff going on, but we make time for this since it’s a blast to do. We also do the podcast (Hour Of The Barbarian) here and there so it breaks up the whole practice and writing songs monotony so we can just sit around and bullshit.

How did you compose the beer list to accompany the album? How much sampling and testing went with compiling it?

Dodge did the whole composing and compiling of the beer list. He did very extensive research for this (have you seen his Big Year in Beer blog?). (Ed. Now I did, so check it out here).

What would you rather do: brew your own Trappist or tour the Trappist locations in Belgium (and sample their brews)?

Hmmm, that’s a tough call. I don’t think we would be welcome in the actual Trappist locations so I would be down to just brew our own Trappist beer.

If you had to pick one Trappist beer that sums up your band, which would it be and why?

I’m not the biggest beer nerd in the band (I mostly just drink them), but I would have to say the Westvleteren 12. Goddamn, it’s delicious and bold and I wish I had another one right now.

What future plans do you guys have with the band?

We’ll be heading to the east coast in November for a few shows. Trying to get over to Europe as well as Japan next year. Already writing new stuff so we’re not going away anytime soon.

Cover image press image by Paul Lee

Underground Sounds: Ifernach – IV. Gaqtaqaiaq

Label: Nekrart Productions
Band: Ifernach
Origin: Canada

Our ancestry is often a source of pride our base of how we identify ourselves. But sometimes, it can be a cause of strive, of clashing entities. It would seem that this is at the base of what has become Ifernach. A band that looks to consolidate the Celtic and Mi’kmaq heritage in fierce black metal on this EP ‘Gaqtaqaiaq’.

Ifernach has released a series of records and though it is a solo project by Finian Patraic, has also been playing some bold live shows where knife-wielding and bloodletting appear to be a big part. Also interested in the style of corpse paint, which appears to evoke images of the native cultures of the land emulated in the music.

After a classical sounding intro, which sets the mood in bombastic tones, we move to ‘Extinction’. An eerie song with melancholic, twangy guitars and gritty, primitive sounding black metal. The vocals are also snapping, biting and raw, conveying the lyrics in French. The sound is eerie, strangely dissonant as if it comes from a different realm. In a way, it does of course. The punky beat meats intricate melodies on ‘Coeur boréal et païen’, creating an enigmatic track.

The guitar mesmerizes me constantly on this record, by invoking a kind of magic. It’s the alienness of the music, the strange different vibe it creates that sets Ifernach so apart. Yet, mostly what you hear is the sound of rebellion on a tune like ‘Elle Danse Avec La Mort’. Repetitive riffing, grooving bass and a thick palette of grimy, grinning anger, here you go. It hardly compares to the gnashing ‘Un Matin Fénien’, with a true menace to the riff.

We end the record with a traditional jam, yet even this sound ghostly and distant. It’s just out of touch with our reality, somewhere lurking in the wild. That is the spirit, captured by Ifernach.

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

Underground Sounds: Warden – Krochtenmagii

Label: Skyggeraich Productions
Artist: Warden
Origin: the Netherlands

Warden is an act I found under dungeon synth, but his/her music is much more connected to ambient and drone music. Sure, there is a certain mysticism to his work that invokes images of the realms of our imagination, but also something very earthy and desolate clings to the notes on ‘Krochtenmagii’.

This is the third record by Warden, released in the same number of years. The production is not as high as with some dungeon synth artists, which is probably a clear cause for the high quality and narrative experience the music offers. Let’s delve in.

The image of mountains of the cover perhaps captures the droning wind and sonorous booming that opens the album. Is surges on till the next movement engages, with more soothing, harmonious sounds and the flow of water casually in the background. Then swelling it grows into a wall of sound and as the story with the music tells, time is by that point utterly lost.

By the 20-minute mark, you’ve reached a state of calm, that only the emptiness of nature can evoke. Sure, it’s an inhospitable place that Warden has taken you to, but it’s also filled with peace. In the very last movement though, we enter the realm of the dungeon synth. The wind and water are gone, yet an earthy, cavernous feel remains. After moments in this safety, the music slowly fades after what seems like a lonely journey through the wild.

 

 

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“.