Category Archives: Interview

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

Parzival: Searching for the Pre-fatherland

Parzival has intrigued me as an artistic collective since the first time I came into contact with their music. The booming, strong sound, the deep voices, the forceful, totalitarian notion to their expression. Coming across their latest release, I grabbed the chance to ask them a few questions.

Though the Danish group is very busy, they found time to respond to my questions. The group is currently working on the following release and has recently unveiled their record ‘Urheimat Neugeburt’. A work that engages the listener in a reinterpretation of their classic ‘Urheimat’ album.

Read about the group and their recent efforts here.

The Order of Parzival

Hello! How are you doing?

++ “We are doing fine by your prayer”

Parzival is unlike pretty much any music group I can think of. I am curious how your sound shaped itself and what inspired you to choose this very distinct direction that could perhaps be most closely described as a mixture of Laibach, Wagner and marching music?

++ “Laibach is a good band, no doubt – but if you listen to our music carefully, it is very different from them – especially the harmonies and the overall ideas. You can also compare Deep Purple to Uriah Heep – they don’t sound like each other, but basically they have the same roots. And I think that’s the same for Parzival and Laibach. We have a lot of the same musical roots, but we don’t think Laibach have ever made something that sounds like our album “Casta”. Our true inspirations are stuff like Swans and Diamanda Galas, but mostly classical music like Wagner, Stravinsky and Prokofiev. But also Vedic music. And sometimes you get some feelings you just suck in. All the best fluids are always in the air”.

What can you tell about the record ‘Urheimat’. What is its meaning and story behind its creation?

++ “We were trying to recall feelings of old school EBM mixed with our bombastic minimal music. The concept of the album was the lyrical idea about a pre-fatherland, which all of us are looking for. Primitive eternal questions… why are we here? Why are we here? And we do believe our presence in this world is not vain. Do you think your presence in this world for you is in vain?”

Why did you return to this record and brought it back as ‘Urheimat Neugeburt’? What did you do to reinvigorate the music and did you aim for a new message in 2018?

++ “We are still very satisfied with the original version, but we wanted to explore a new sound and it was a bit more easy to do it with new versions material already made. The original album is old school EBM, so of course it was not that easy to convert in this new “gnostic rock” sound. Basically, we wanted to introduce electric guitars and acoustic drums in our music again. You know, we didn’t use electric guitars and acoustic drums since “Blut Und Jordan” from 2002. When we started to work with the guitars we preferred to reconstruct some old songs for the new sound, but it was much complicated than we thought. But we really like the result. We need to add that there is also a totally new song there “Lord Of The Sea”, and a new version of a song from the “Casta” album.”

What has changed internally, with Parzival itself, in the time between the two releases?

++ “Spiritually we are always the same. But of course, we have experienced with our sound. It’s our challenge. The concept of the band will die with us, but music will remain”

I imagine that your aesthetics, sound and work is often misinterpreted. Even the name of this album might be cause for some to immediately ring alarm bells. In a world of ‘triggers’ and polarization, where does Parzival fit in?

++ “We do like totalitarian aesthetics, but we don’t have any political views from the art to the world. Because art exists separately from the domestic things, in our opinion. You can also misinterpret a Herculus statue, because it also looks aggressive – and you can describe the statue from any point of view. But no, Parzival is not a political band, we are an art and aesthetic band that suits our spiritual feelings”.

What future plans do you have right now with Parzival?

++ “For the coming time, we will concentrate on promoting “Urheimat Neugeburt” and play some gigs in connection with this. As mentioned earlier, we are already working on a new album, which we hopefully will record later this year. We never have breaks – as we have our own studio we can work really at all times on new music as well as rehearsing for live gigs. We have been going on for 20 years as Parzival (and 25 years as Stiff Miners/Parzival), so it’s a long journey, but it’s for sure not finished yet. And especially, the first news for you is that we already wrote half of the next album, which will sound even different from the last albums. So start spreading the news 😊

 

AlNamrood will not be tamed: metal in Saudi Arabia

Djinn are creatures of fire, which is why they are invisible, yet destructive. Another creature in Saudi Arabia, that features those characteristics is the elusive AlNamrood. An entity operating under a veil of mystery for very real and tangible reasons. In this country, it can be punishable by death to play dark blasphemous music.

AlNamrood has been steadily delivering music since 2008 and the international attention for the project seems to have given it a boost. The last album Enkar, released in 2017, clearly caught many listeners ear with the raw sounds or protest that could easily be compared to the better bits of Darkthrone. A live show however, that will not happen soon unfortunately.

Through their label Shaytan Productions I managed to ask Mephisto, the master behind this project, some questions. Unfortunately a Skype chat or such is for obvious reasons not possible, but he was kind enough to update us on Alnamrood.

Fear is Slavery, it sickens us

Hello Mephisto, how are things? How is it going with AlNamrood?
AlNamrood is going progressively as usual.

Understanding your need for anonymity, could you shed some light on yourself as a person behind the band? What made you want to do this music and how did you arrive at black metal?
I play guitar, I’m influenced by the extreme metal of fast picking, open strings, and catchy riffs. The main driver to start AlNamrood was the need to express the rage of daily oppression we deal with. Black metal was a great platform, although we fall toward punk more often, either ways, this music satisfy our needs.

Who are currently in AlNamrood and how did you get in touch? I imagine that reaching out to find members can be challenging and even risky for you. Could you tell me about that?
Humbaba and I are the main members, we knew each other for years, but we only came to work together since 2013, we released the album Heen Yadhar Al Gasq Translates to ‘when dusk appears’. I think I’m very lucky to know Humbaba, he is literally the only mate I share my thoughts with, not only music. Finding members indeed is a risky business, not if it is impossible in the first place. This is why the AlNamrood line up is limited.

Your most recent album came out last year. What can you tell me about the writing and recording process of this album?
Enkar was fairly experimental, it was a very interesting experience, the roughness, and the low down dark sound was exactly what we cooked for. The guitar recording was aimed to be down tuning, drums were built based on thrash/punk beats, Arabian instruments were pushed back in the background, the bass is clear. We also used the stem mastering done by Endarker Studio in Sweden, however, the recording and mixing were done by us.

What is the story on the album? And what message are you trying to convey on this record?
“Enkar” translates to “denial”, and this album (as each album had a core point and narrative) articulates the phenomena of social denial, in particular, what we experience in a daily basis in our community. We expressed the psychosomatic drivers or psychological tricks used to program thoughts as if those are ideas and believes shoved into people minds, and how people accept repression as a safe ticket than speaking out against it. The issue about the Middle East in general, is people riddled with religion, ignorance, and fear. Fear has created slavery, and authority has succeeded to use religion as a tool to empower this fear and make people kneel to tyranny, in order to get the big prize in afterlife heaven, while this life is mortal and not worth it. This has extended to the point of people started to enslave themselves without anyone asking them to. Nowadays, the religious icons do not need to go into platforms to push for their ideologies like in the past, the people themselves will start to defend religion and raise flags of patriotism even though their rights are crushed, this programming is well done and it sickens us to see people suffer from their own doings.

When I listened to your album, I felt it contained a certain level of punk elements. From the artwork (and of course the anarchist symbol in the band logo) to the raw and direct sound of the record. I felt the music was truly rebellious. How do you feel about this?
You described it very well.

 In previous interviews, I’ve read some pretty strong convictions when it comes to religion. Can you tell me some more about your name and views?

As the name implies, we are sick from the religion and its affiliation, we are sick from nationalism and its idiocy, we are sick of the system and how it aimed to work for the specific class in society. We renounce ourselves from all of that.

You’ve used a lot of traditional or if I may say folkish elements and instruments. I’m very interested in what these are and where they originate from.

Typically, we used oud, Kanoon, Ney and of course darbuka.

As the situation in the middle-east seems to be changing in many places, what is the status of censorship, dangers, and liberties you are facing as a musician in Saudi Arabia?

No change in term of censorship and liberties. The claim in moving the country into liberalism is a hoax and no merely than a propaganda.

You have had, as far as I am aware, one face to face interview with a Dutch journalist. What was it like to do that for you, coming from a risky situation and meeting in such a manner?

As long as the interview was not done on Saudi soil and it is purely aimed at Dutch readers, we assessed the situation and agreed to it, after all, there won’t be any public prevalence of our identity. The meeting was fine, the interviewer was flexible and understanding, it was a nice meeting.

I understand that everything when it comes to facilities is pretty challenging too, from instruments, rehearsal spaces to recording and having music or merchandise. Can you describe that to me? Also how you work on getting your work to the label etcetera and influencing all the aspects of the creation.

It is very difficult; we do everything in the home-based studio, very discreet. We get our equipment from close by countries and online, usually the problems occur with getting guitars, there could be some questions, but we manage. We communicate with the label online, everything is sent online.

You pay particular attention to the certain symbolism in the words, but also in the videos. I’m very curious to learn how you do get to make videos, merchandise etcetera, even though there’s an obvious limit on what you can do. I understand you travel a lot, is that key for all this?

The merchandise is handled by the label, the music videos are also handled by the label, expect the last video was done by a Dutch friend. Yes, traveling helps a lot, we created good contacts around the world.

In a previous interview it was mentioned that due to a criminal record, the band would not be able to fully leave the country. How is that situation now and could you shed some light on what might constitute a criminal record in your country?

We can’t disclose any details on this question, all that we can say is what many people are thrown in jail for stating their opinion. Which is not considered a crime in any developed world.

Are there any other bands that play metal in your country at the moment and what sort of history does the music style have in Saudi Arabia?

None that we know or heard of. Saudi Arabia has little history of music, unless if you count national music as a musical event?

Are there any bands currently active that you would recommend?

Nothing that we can recommend.

I wanted to ask you if other bands faced similar difficulties as you do?

I don’t think so, as long as they are nationalist and with a side of religion, no problem at all. Maybe they will be misjudged for a satanic group, that’s the worst it can be.

What are your future plans for AlNamrood or any other projects?

To continue what we do, until one day when can leave and start a normal band life somewhere in the world. (AlNamrood is releasing a new record 

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

Spicy course, because spices make your blood pressure goes up and your ear to ring and you will sweat if it not suitable for you.

Is there anything you would like to share?
Cheers.

Gaerea: Art, concept, black metal from Portugal

It’s there, silently on the far west of the European continent. The last land that explorers saw when they left and the first to herald their return: Portugal. The country is the quiet gem of the Mediterranean, oddly always a bit obscured compared to Spain, Italy, and France. Yet it holds beautiful nature, culture, and customs and with bands like Gaerea also a metal scene full of wonder.

As a band, Gaerea is pretty young but instantly connected with me due to their overpowering sound, particular aesthetics, and refreshing feel. The music of the band deals with introspective themes, with art and expression of negative emotions. This they do extremely well on their latest record Unsettling Whispers, out on Transcending Obscurity.

Gaerea were kind enough to answer some questions and tell more about their band, vision and what this music means to them. Thanks to Kunal Choksi for making this article happen.
Photo’s taken from band profiles online.

Gaerea: Exploring new realms of expression

Could you kindly introduce yourselves? Do you play in other projects next to Gaerea?
This is Gaerea, a Black Metal Quintet to emerge from Portugal. Due to the fact that all members are insatiable creatures for art, everyone has other projects to fulfill different parts of their beings.

When and how did Gaerea get started? Which bands would you consider your inspiration?
Even though Gaerea was a fetus inside one’s head for quite a few years, it was in 2016 the band was born with the record and release of the first debut EP. It was released via Everlasting Spew Records back then. We take many inspirations from different kinds of art like Paint, Cinema, and Music, of course. We like bands such as Obsidian Kingdom, Shining or Watain. Mainly because of their conceptual work other than music, which nowadays is so underrated. Music is not music anymore.

Can you tell about the concept behind the band? As in, what ideas, vision and such shape Gaerea and the art you create?
GAEREA acts as a reporter, a bringer of the chaotic message from the Void Society. It is a burden we all must carry for it also relates to us as individuals who are also lost on their own bubble.

The album goes deeper into this conceptual world. Again, the message is brought to you by a third person who watches everything that occurs in a street, a city. It is another dimension where suicide is part of the human regular daily basis. Death is a dream from another world. Aging is something for the lost generation and most of all, feelings of joy, anger or sadness no longer exist. They are part of a well-remembered past, a topic which once was praised and now is clear and present.

I’m also interested in the visual aspect, for example, the sigil on the masks you guys where. Where do they originate from and how did you come up with the overall visual expression, like the album covers. Also do you create this yourself?
Yes, most of the visual aspect is crafted by the band itself. The masks, the conception of our symbol and even the first Ep’s cover. The album cover was painted by an artist we respect: Khaos Diktator.

Above all things such as where did all of this come from, it is important to state that the basis of our work is to put out characters which have no name, face, feelings or equal skin from others in the audience. For me, it was a normal visual reaction from what we see today inside our system. We are just lost ents who crawl under our dreams to get bigger, fatter and richer lives. Everyone dreams of becoming a celebrity, a dictator to others, a model for others to follow. And that is all part of the sickening way we tend to live.

Back to the album cover, it a piece filled with beautiful details not just in terms of paintwork but also it is the catch of the perfect despairing moment where death is only a mirage. We see the old pale man falling apart while anxiety and numbness consume him. For us, it is the perfect face for this release.

Your next album is out soon at Transcending Obscurity. How did you end up signing to this label and how has it been to you this far?
We had some offers from other labels after we finished recording the album last summer. Many were interesting and others not so much. Transcending Obscurity was the one which stood out with a good offer, a sick promotional work and most of all understanding the band, its concept and motivations for this release. It has been a good start.

Your next album, ‘Unsettling Whispers’, is appearing soon. What can you tell about the writing and recording process for this album and how did you feel you progressed from your EP?
It definitely goes deeper into the void concept, which for me, is a step forward and a final nail in the coffin for that concept. The music is just different from the one we recorded for the EP. The feeling and expression was also something very different and mature so that’s why some people may hear a more “grown-up” band in “Unsettling Whispers. ”

The writing process happened right after we released “GAEREA” EP, surprisingly. I was not expecting a new wave of inspiration. For me, we didn’t necessarily have to put out another ep or album. The job was done. But yes, inspiration took us by surprise and things started to happen fast. All the writing process took just half year to conclude and in June we were recording the album at Demigod Recordings in Portugal with Miguel. The recording process took us only 2 weeks to start and finish the whole thing. We knew exactly how it was supposed to sound and fortunately, we worked with a very good producer who instantly gave new ideas and approaches to our music.

What is the story on the album and how was it conceived conceptually? From what did you derive inspiration for it?
From the first moment, this band started to take its first steps, we got into Thomas Ligotti’s work. It definitely changed and was an inspiration for this Album. Saramago is also a creature who is firmly present in this conceptual work. All is explained in the lyrics and texts of an extended 20-page booklet inside the Digipak.

When listening to the now released track, I feel that your sound progresses from the traditional black metal sound into something well-polished, balanced but yet very heavy. In a sense, harder to classify in a genre. Is that where you’d like to place yourself as a band?
Personally, I can’t really fit this band into one genre only. Of course, it has strong Black Metal roots, although you may find other styles like Doom, Death or Hardcore. I don’t think about it. Nowadays it’s just weird to see people categorizing contemporary music.

If it was meant to be squared or direct, we wouldn’t have today’s artists like Hans Zimmer, Marina Abramovic, and others. It’s art which takes elements and inspiration from every other art realm already conceived to create or mold something called “new”. And no, I’m not talking about only music.

As I see it, you are pushing what it means to make black metal forward. In your perspective, what is black metal in its essence, what does it mean in 2018?
It doesn’t mean anything but something to be an inspiration for today’s artists and above all, something to be respected. It’s something which made total sense to be born inside Norway’s nest and spread like a plague to the world. Nowadays it’s just hard to do “pure” black metal cause the world has changed, metal music also changed a lot.

Every artistic movement happens on its own timeline for a reason. For me, it is strange how some new artists try to copy or recreate the same exact music in 2018. I don’t think that we’re taking black metal forward. Gaerea stands for another reason. But of course, we enjoy embracing new followers and people who think that just by hearing the songs.

Right now this kind of music is constantly under scrutiny. Watain, Marduk and so forth. How do you feel about this and what sort of situation do you face in your own country?
Taake
and Inquisition also. We are aware of what’s happening in today’s media and internet world. Yet, we don’t condemn artistic choices but personal ones which can ruin a career hard or impossible to be rebuilt. Let’s not go into detail regarding what we feel about every case. It’s not up to the Portuguese underground band to take part or to catch the moment to say anything about bands we respect and wish some things weren’t true. The one thing that matters to me is art and what their music means.

Could you tell me a bit about the scene in Portugal? What is happening there currently?
Everything is way smaller in Portugal. No big scandals because there aren’t many big bands and people just don’t care too much about it. Good thing we have some of the most die-hard fans in this country who will follow their favorite artists no matter what.

For your style of music, who do you look to as pioneers you follow up with. As in, regarding the history of metal in Portugal, do you place yourself in line with any pioneering bands as such?
Artists like Shining, The Great Old Ones, Obsidian Kingdom or even Secrets of the Moon. These are some strong names for us. And even though they do not fit entirely into the black metal genre or anything, neither do us. Regarding your second question, as I told you, we do not think too much about any of that. Of course we’re ambitious to the point we walk in a straight line towards the success of those acts. But still, we’re a small group and we must keep that in mind. We still have our own long path to craft.

Which bands from Portugal should people really check out?
We follow a lot of Portuguese acts. On the top of my head are The Ominous Circle, Process of Guilt and Lobo.

What future plans does Gaerea have?
For now, we have a massive release coming up. Some special appearances are being booked as we speak. Still, do not expect any extensive touring season.

If you had to compare Gaerea to a dish, what would it be and why?
Francesinha. You’re probably not familiar with this typical Portuguese dish but if there’s anything worth checking out, it’s that monstrous sandwich.

Is there anything you’d like to add that I didn’t ask?
“Unsettling Whispers is due to be released 22nd June. You know what to do.

Official Bandcamp – https://gaerea.bandcamp.com

Transcending Obscurity Records – http://tometal.com

Sarcotrofia: Mozambique metal nation

If you are from a country that most of the world doesn’t know how to find on a map, it’s probably best to go for a name that sticks. SarcotrofiA started out as Sarcomaticaposa, which would definitely not help them any further. Playing metal music in Mozambique is definitely not an easy thing, which is part of the reason why the band has relocated to Sweden. Still, the ties run deep.

Though things are relatively quiet in Mozambique, the climate has still been rocky since conflicts have been erupting again since 2014. This has not affected the band much, since they decided to leave years ago. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out as planned and drummer Goro Fast was the only one to locate to Scandinavia. Having rebuild the band, he is now eager to pursue a heavy sound of Mozambique death metal.

Goro Fast was kind enough to answer a bunch of my questions. Enjoy!

Mozambique death metal

Hello Sarcotrofia, how are things going for you?
Hey! We are doing great!

Can you tell me how the band started and about the history of the band?
Well! Long story but will try to sum up. The band comes from the ashes of another past band called Sarcomaticaposa founded by Goro Fast (Drummer) in 2006…then after several lineup changes it became SarcotrofiA…from there until now we have been working hard trying to bring the best-unexplored side of music to the listeners and lovers of this musical genre in attempt to create an identity as SarcotrofiA!

How did you guys get into metal music and what bands inspired the sound of Sarcotrofia?
Each member got into music in a different way, some by influence and others by self-interest, guess. we got many influences through everything connected to the music in general and some weird sounds/rhythm that’s why we don’t have a specific base just because we are from a society within a vast multicultural music background and we are always open for whatever may contribute to make us versatile musicians. So we individually might have specific bands that pulled us into metal, but SarcotrofiA is more into TechGrind and brutal death metal.

Your themes are listed as ‘Ghost Monks’ on Metal Archives. Can you tell me what that is about? What are the overall stories you want to tell with Sarcotrofia?
Ghost Monk track is more a metaphoric metamorphose theme within a contest that can be inserted or used in an imaginary situation.
We normally don’t have a specific contest or storyline, we mostly write about what comes to mind at the time, within all the issues involved from politics to a daily bases.

I’m particularly interested in the logo you use with the elements of the Mozambique flag. Can you tell me more about these symbols and what role Mozambique plays in what Sarcotrofia is about?
We had all those elements in our logo as identity and also to honor our nation due to we were all Mozambicans in the band at the time, but now with a new line up within new members from other nations, it will also be changed.
Yah! The symbols according to our constitution has its political meaning, but for us, it expresses a determination, focus, objectives, and goal.

You moved to Sweden as a band. Why did you move and how was it to start again over there?
Yeah well! to make it clear, only one member moved. we were supposed to move as a band within all original members of the band but unfortunately only Goro Fast the Drummer moved to Sweden and the other members of SarcotrofiA decided to step back and fall apart from the band to pursue a different paths in life because combining a normal life and a job became too stressful for some members to manage a SarcotofiAs heavy tour schedule and future plans.

We moved because we got a proposal from a record label that wanted to work with us, in a terms agreement of two years contract and a full-length album to record and promote.

It was Fucking hard to start over here, due to at first we had to get new members that would fit in the band and above all those which are willing to take further steps with us in serious and professional level, we had to face cultural shock, atmosphere, communication, lifestyle etc…it was a big challenge to face. But we are getting there and we are making any opportunity that will make it all worth it.
You know: no risk, no fun! ☺

How do you go about creating music. Is it a collaborative effort or do band members have their own separate roles? Do you start with lyrics or music?
We basically make music together, but most of the tracks were created by Goro Fast the drummer, which is weird, because he makes songs out of rhythmic melody then he makes a transposition of the rhythm to a bassline tab and transcribe it into guitar charts afterwards, then the other member collaborate in making arrangements and give it a music sense line. So and about the lyrics, we don’t have a sequence, can be both at the same time or one task at the time no particular order.

Are you currently working on anything new? What direction are you taking Sarcotrofia in?
YES! We are still focusing on our length album, it takes time but we are working hard on it and soon will get there. The new material is more into Tech, grindcore, and brutal death metal, so let’s see where is it going to take us.

How did metal music originally come to your country Mozambique? What bands pioneered the genre in the country? It seems that the scene is very young, but various bands are doing things now.
How it came? I can’t precise! Because we don’t have archives registered. But, we grew up while metal music was there already and there were some bands from the 80’ & 90’s, such as: Panzers, Os tais, Moz-artes, Violent Desire, Invaders Strangers, Rude, Garganta, Pneus Furados, SPuG, Punk Vibration, Paranoia and etc…Then on the 20s’ we had new wave of metal as well which is still active so far.

Yeah, our scene is comparably young but is very solid and it ’s growing each day either in a number of bands or the crowd, we are in a good way, I can’t complain.

How is it now in Mozambique with facilities like recording studios, rehearsal space, availability of instruments etcetera…? Was or is there any censorship, either institutional or social? How much are you still in touch?

We don’t have a metal recording studios so far, the few recording studios we have are more focus in the Mozambican tropical vibes, jazz and traditional stuff and never rock and its ramification.
We have some public rehearsal space, just need to book it and go there to bang bang, but most of the metal bands have their own practicing spot where they get together their gear and go to practice to keep in shape and sharp.
We also have some music stores, where it’s easy to get whatever instrument you want either acoustics, electrics or digital, otherwise, we order online. We are constantly in touch, the roots are there and need to be updated time to time.

Which bands from Mozambique should people really check out and why?
This is a very tricky question, but there are lots of bands out there, and also depends on what music genre is on the bill. The easiest way is to dig them into social media or google about Mozambican metal scene lots will pop up.

What future plans do you currently have with the band?
The band is now focused in getting sharp and steel with new members, we also have a recording session on the go and a MASSIVE Attack tour for near future.

If you had to describe Sarcotrofia as a dish, what would it be and why?
Would be ‘Nhapfutela or Xipatsinheta’ because is a multicultural super joint band within a huge miscellaneous of everything, kinda all’in.

Is there anything you’d like to say that I forgot to ask?
…for those who want to follow us, check our FB page, click ‘’like’’ and get informed about everything related to the band and stuff.

 

De Veneficas Inferi: Pyrenean black metal from Andorra

Landlocked by the Pyrenees lies the small nation Andorra. A left-over of past struggles throughout Europe, the nation is a rarity, ruled by the French president and the Bishop of Urgell. The country also has the highest life-expectancy in the world. It is home to the act De Veneficas Inferi.

The country is known as the setting for various myths and legends, giving it a particular aura and attraction as one of those places where something else may still hold sway. The voice of De Veneficas Inferi speaks in mysterious words, befitting this high place in the mountains.

You would imagine that the mountainous nation generates a very specific sort of sound and experience. That is very true for this one-man band. Séan B. is its sole member and kind enough to answer some questions about his project.

Andorrean black metal from the Pyrenees

Could you be so kind to introduce yourself and your project? Are there other people involved in De Veneficas Inferi?
De Veneficas inferi is a one-man act, a spiritual and philosophical representation of a resilient ‘ars moriendi’, that at some point draws a line as a transcendental ritual. It may be narcissistic art. The futility of pleasure. But the ego of oneself acts in a work that ends in vain, in conjunction with the same life as the chaos of this; madness and the symbolism of nothingness. A nihilistic expression of the evolution of a person or a destiny of kindness to learn. I, the path of a sorcerer in hell, will be the one to narrate this path. This is what De Veneficas Inferi represents.

How did you set up De Veneficas Inferi? Do you have other projects going?
De Veneficas Inferi arises from the return to my roots, In Ignem Aeternum. It might be a homecoming to the black metal that I once shared and composed with Manu Rodríguez (TFWM, Morth Wyrtha and Torb Key’s Master) at the end of 2007. It could not be another melodic project and as truly elegiac as it was then, but the balm is the same. So I differ from another solitary project that I started in 2010 and that I coexisted until 2016: Aessênce. Declaration of a trip in the light and noisy, depressive and tempestuous urban modernity.

I’ve listened to your 2016 EP. Is there more work by you out there? How would you describe your specific music style?
No more than what remains from the ashes of my beginnings, Bloody Violent Little Red, and its conceptual core in Aessênce. A single recorded in 2008, rescued and released along with the consequent and subsequent works of Aessênce. Although, for my consideration, it’s an endeavor in hiatus.

As far as the style of music is concerned, with De Veneficas Inferi, I do not differ from a genre like black metal, as feeling. I could specify the style as Pyrenean Black Metal as part of the concept. It would not be erratic, in that there’s a representation of where I was born and I’m currently living in, winter passages through the Pirene mortuary monument. Part of its elder or modern histories and cantatas, non-sees or popular experiences and myths.

Your project has a very specific aesthetic in the artwork you share and use. Can you tell more about that and the general idea or concept behind De Veneficas Inferi?
De Veneficas Inferi might be faceless, non-image aesthetic that merges with the arcadian medieval iconography. Inspiration, partly, of those who agreed with the individual mysticism. Incentive, greatly, of the land I’m from. The impetus of draconian tales. Catalyst aside Luciferian visions. And encouraged by Anubis dexterity. All, or none of them.

The Great Decay appears to follow a narrative through the record. Could you tell more about that?
The Great Decay as a first unique concept, set, differs from each part in allegories represented by demons or fates, somewhat they were once, the Roman genii.
The first demon is ritual (“Daemonic I, Stone Witches”). The second is vanity (“Daemonic II, Altar Of Vanities”). The third is a circle (“Daemonic III, Nemini Parco”). Just as the first demon is belief. The second is conflict. The third is eternal return. Memento mori, Vanitas and Dansa de la Mort. Three concepts in order to the beautiful and concise adoration of Death. Concepts intimately related to Western society, whether in the contemporary pseudo-medieval times we live in or in past ages. Concepts in Aristotelian dyes. Concepts of the most glorious Rome. Death is, has been and will be godsified. Choose to feel dread or dance with the terror. That might be what life is for and what you leave behind for the future that you will never see.

Separately each piece of music has its own idea. The first demon, a witch anthem, a replica of those that once sounded in the Andorran mountains and lakes so, therefore, the Pyrenees, performed in sort akelarres and coronations of witches; lost pagan bonds or effusive carnal adorations. The second demon, a song to the memory of the belligerence that, still, this old Europe drags. The third demon, a song to the Dance of the Death, a rhythm of drums and dance of skeletons, histrionic representations of those Danse Macabre that still serenely vibrant between the valleys and the Mediterranean Sea.

How do you go about creating your music? What does the writing and recording process look like and what sources do you use for inspiration?
As it is absolutely an art without limit there is no process other than the equal limitation in our life. The same music is a personal experience. And it is the same inspiration that manipulates the process, which can last a short period or years. But the whole makes the concept as a product: once I have in mind this concept is practiced in influences and experiences. It’s a no more. There is always the intention to go to the nucleus of the idea since technically there is an experiment in the composition, the lyrics, and the background; to later or during the recordings.
Aside, the inspiration is the own project in question although I nourish of external sources and influences as any other kind of. If don’t, you kill every form of creation. Random or deliberated.

Does hailing from Andorra play any part in how you shape your music? As in, is your location part of the art you make?
The Andorran monolithic society has been an influence, of course. But it is his legacy, inheritance of the dark age, that I embrace in its rustic emblem. From its imperative nature to its black history, whether in the past or more recent come together in misfortunes or fantastic jeweled tales, processions of its feudal people, summon the soul of a Romanesque past. Not its religious aspect, but its dirt that emanates each individual that forms the place, its anachronistic hierarchy in harmony with the remains that remain of that dark age.

Is there something like an Andorra metal scene or is it mostly connected to the Spanish and French scenes? What places would be required visits for metalheads visiting Andorra?
There was, then, a strong Death Metal scene from the beginning and middle of the 2000s in affiliation with a sort of melodic bands like Persefone, Perseverance, Egophobia or The Ethereal. In relation, others kind of played core or trasher like as Umbrella Corpse and its entourage Far From Beyond or It Never Rains Eternally. Many of its members co-segmented in their interests as bands and evolved to reach the Prog Collective that coexists today with continuity with its greatest exponents, Persefone or Nami in its Death Metal side and others more colorful(ed) by rock and soaked in funk, psychedelia or darkwave as Experiments or Redthread.

Chapter and verse and more or less at the same time Morth Wyrtha and Torb loyalized their concept of Black Metal in the Principality Valleys. They were those who idealized the concept of Legions Pirenaiques (inspiration may, in advance, come from Les Légions Noires of France and/or the Norwegian Inner Circle), lyrically inspired by the winter and the Pyrenees so parse a Pyrenean Black Metal Circle.

Strong dishes such as Guturalfest or Testarrock were concerts showing many of these bands. Usual concert organizations such as Dijousderock still have continuity today. And as far as I know, there are certain groups related to the noisy and melodramatic panorama of the Catalan Black Metal (Foscor, O.D.I, Maleït or Entropia). Fuzzed concerning it’s gothic and anarcho-satanist contour, more precise from Barcelona, such as Akollonizer.

Although many of the places that were stalked by metal music already disappeared, there are some places in the capital city, like the Rockódrom or the Harlem Bar, where some formations are exposed Metal bands, among others styles that do not share anything with this genre. The Harlem Bar also recently exhibited and disseminated graphic artists, such as Print This Valley Collective composed by societies such as Dead Flag (artistic contributions made with bands like Persefone, Witchthroad Serpent, Malämar or Belzebong) that have done really spellbinding prints.

Are there other bands from Andorra that people should really be checking out?
Even though they are directly or not directly related to the orbital of metal’s genre there are formations that personally for his style of music associated with the drone and darkwave electronic music I might recommend.

The adroit conceptual musical project in several facets and faces that Nazo Fushigi builds includes a dark music, sometimes cacophonous sometimes lucidly melodic, which I appreciate in its artistic whole. Thespian performance of the Soizu proposal, by a  member of Akollonizer, is powerful and hypnotic in its system plus drone and subtle, clearly inspirational. Also, in addition, would like to praise the satirical sort of humor indeed, hard rock blended core of Mordigans done on “El Sabor de una Taza de Té”, and so the jazzy experienced productions of the veteran band Hysteriofunk.

What future plans do you have for De Veneficas Inferi?
I am involved in the slow process of a subsequent LP, mainly lyrically and aesthetically related and inspired by the principle of Prometheus, a myth torn apart in time and countless as names as the Devil has; a lecture of those Bearer of Light, following a Luciferian journey to the Abyss to present ourselves in a Hellish Dante’s way a ethos of his story. May I continue my path.

If you had to compare your product to a dish, what would it be? And why?
Maybe compare it with wine. That sour wine that when you’re satiated invites you to vomit, but you still drink it to quench your thirst. It is worth concomitant it with few lemon stems, as more acid better. The reason is the fun of the same drink and a long night.

Marijannah: heavy and far-out tunes from Singapore

The band Marijannah hails from Singapore and plays a very fresh and catchy style of stoner/doom. Inspired by films, their music is captivating, playful and a bit unnerving at times. Havint checked out their recent release, I needed to know more about them.

Signed to Pink Tank Records, their ‘Till Marijannah’ is well worth a spin if you haven’t heard it yet. To get you started, first learn something more about the band and where they come from.

Marijannah takes you to Paradise

Hey Marijannah, how’s everything going?

Everything’s great.

How did your band get started and where does the name come from?

We all individually wanted to try something different outside the usual styles of music we’ve been playing for years in each of our respective bands and this is something we’ve never created before.

The name is sort of an accidental double entendre initially. It loosely translates to “come to paradise” in Malay, which is a native language where we’re from and it’s also bluntly a pun to you-know-what.

 

What inspired you to make this particular sound your own? To me ,it feels very much like a mixture of classic psychedelic rock with a hint of occult rock on a thick slab of stoner, which together gives off this timeless sound. What do you think?

I don’t know if we do but if anybody thinks we sound any different from the usual stoner/doom, it’s really just because half of us never regularly listened to this style of music up until like a year ago. We all have roots in different genres. Some of us come from a punk/emo/hardcore background and some of us almost strictly listen to extreme metal so it’s truly a mash of clashing influences.

Can you tell me how you wrote and recorded the album ‘Till Marijannah’? How did the process go and what sort of working method do you have?

Rasyid writes most of the music and I write the lyrics. We record riffs on our shitty phones and send them to each other on a daily basis and dig em out when we need to. There was quite a bit of spontaneity in the studio as well, using weird, new pedals and ancient gongs lying around the room.

I’m interested to learn what inspired the four separate songs. They all have a distinct quality and theme but differ a lot. So what stories and inspiration did you use for each? I’m particularly interested in All Hallow’s Eve.

Lyrically, they’re all tributes to films. I’m a big “film buff” and they go hand in hand with heavy music aesthetically. All Hallow’s Eve is of course about John Carpenter’s “Halloween” and the “Laurie” mentioned is Laurie Strode, portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis in the series.

Tell me more about the artwork. Who did it and what inspired it? I originally thought I was going to listen to something more like Yes!

Again, it was a mash of very different ideas we all had individually backed and executed by a very talented artist in mr. Riandy Karuniawan. Like most metal musicians, we like sci-fi imagery and mystical shit so there’s that.

What sort of response did you get this far to the record and what future plans do you currently have?

They’ve been almost all positive from what I’m aware of. I don’t really pay much attention to reviews, I think the record is dope and so does most of my friends who have a good taste. We’re working on new material right now and have been jamming about 5-6 new tunes, probably aiming to enter the studio by August. We’ll be announcing a short tour really soon, maybe it’ll be announced by the time this interview is out and we have another planned for the year’s end.

Is having a Rasyid in Wormrot in any way limiting for what you can do with Marijannah? Do you feel that your other bands in general have an influence on your output?

Not at all. Neither band is looking to be super busy or touring full-time and I think the rotation works well for Rasyid and the rest of us. I think its inevitable that we will share certain influences amongst our bands, we’re the same people as we are in other projects, just expressed differently through multiple entities.

What is currently happening in the heavy scene of Singapore that the world really should not miss out on? Like exciting bands etc?

Radiant Archery, Bethari, Hollowthreat, HRVST, Yumi, Zodd. None of them are similar to us but all worth checking out.

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

Bolognese. Rustic, traditional, timeless, best served hot and consumed wearing dark-coloured clothing.

Oscuro Mito: Bolivian Death Dancers

Bolivia is a South-American nation, still struggling at some fronts to become one of the stable entities on the continent. Life is interesting there and the metal they play is fierce and proud. Two words that aptly describe black metallers Oscuro Mito.  Often overshadowed by other nations, like Brazil, in music, they are carving out their place on the map.

Bolivia is a nation without an obvious origin, perhaps even more in existence for the mutual benefit of its elements. South-America, like Africa in a way, was chopped up by colonial powers and when nations declared independence, the shape had little to do with any original ethnicities or state-entities.

Bolivia’s borders have been sifting through the years and even in 2003 a dispute raged with Chile over part of the nation’s borders. Oscuro Mito expresses a particular part of the ancient cultures, which have become muddled through the ages, unfortunately. I had some questions for the band and vocalist Fernando and guitar player Andres had time to answer them.

Dancing untill death follows with Oscuro Mito

Hey guys, how are you doing? Can you introduce yourself?

Fernando here, I’m the vocalist
Hey! Andres, here I’m guitarist and make some chorus
We are the founders of Oscuro Mito

How did Oscuro Mito get started? How did you guys meet and what got you into metal in the first place?

Back in October 2008, Armin, Fernando, and Andres decided to make something different mixing music common among them. They used Black Metal and folkloric Bolivian music (it would be Andean music more precisely). Bolivian Traditions and tales are full of stories, experiences, and myths; we chose to talk about that traditions, but we only took that dark gloomy and those that have mystic energy.

As an influence, you name bands like Bathory and Windir alongside Bolivian folk groups. Can you tell me what you took from these Scandinavian bands and what you found appealing in them? Following that, how did you bring these two aspects together?

It had started as a rebellion, burning churches as a repudiation of Christianity. Throwing what it had been self-imposed and embrace back what you are as sons of Odin, it was the clear message. Oscuro Mito are not Scandinavian, Oscuro Mito is from Bolivia.

In your music, you put ancestral legends of the Inca and Aymara heritage. What made you chose to do this and can you also shed some light on what sort of stories these are for people who are completely unfamiliar with it?

Because Scandinavian speak their own heritage and people from Bolivia should talk about their own.

How do you make sure your sound is black metal, but not in the Scandinavian style. What to you makes your music similar but at the same time distinct?

That’s a really good question you know, I think it’s only the feeling when you do compose the songs. I think music leaves things on your soul and this comes out when you are making music. Music is about feelings it’s been said, and you hear this on Oscuro Mito, it’s music inspired on Black Metal from the north but it’s done by Bolivians and it doesn’t have to sound like the north.

We use traditional instruments on all three songs on our demo. About song structures I’d rather say that we mix traditional rhythms than structures, and example is ‘Danza en trance’, it mixes a traditional rhythm called pujllay and electric guitars and metal riffs, basically in this song we used this rhythm for the chorus and verses.

I’ve been listening to your demo/EP ‘Mientras las nubes ciegan la luna…’. The sound is very specific, very unique and I find it very captivating. Can you tell me how you shaped this sound and of course this record and did you find any inspiration in bands that approached black metal similarly?

The three songs were inspired by Bolivian traditions/myths. We tried to concentrate that energy on these topics on the sound of the music. ‘Murmullos de espectros’ is a very common tale that happens on the countryside in a small town. A goblin that lurks in the trees scares a person who was kind of drunk and was going home. So basically, it’s the energy taken by the goblin and the rush to get home.

‘Danza en trance’ is an old underground tradition where a person dances until dying, mixed with a traditional rhythm called ‘pujllay’ (this word is in Quechua another ancient tongue spoken in Bolivia). I think we have found on this song a good mix between metal and Bolivian folklore. It is also very the preferred song for our fans, it also has a video clip that you might like to see.

‘Danza en trance’ is a tradition that has a person dancing until dead. This idea would call your attention, wouldn’t it? Dancing till dead, who would ever dance till they die. It has to be something else… who would choose dance till dead? The answer comes with the culpability of something. Something that makes you feel really bad until the point you want to die. Betraying and killing your best friend for nothing, Killing your mother or whatever really bad to get you broken and wishing to die. This kind of stories on somehow chills you or scare you. This kind of stories is what we want to talk about.

Then we have ‘Luz naciente’ represents a well-known tradition, it is the Inca’s new year tradition that is celebrated on 21 of June Most likely it is on Bathory music in Twilight of the gods or Hammerheart discs. You can hear in ‘Danza en trance’ some chorus that has been used as Bathory started to use with clean voices.

Also ‘murmullos de espectros’ moves to a more black metal sound perhaps touching something of Windir or traditional black metal.
I think the 3 songs are talking about the same, thanks for asking this question and I think what is explained on this, it’s the key for understanding the Oscuro Mito demo.

I’ve gathered that you use traditional instruments in your music. What instruments are those and can you describe them? Do you also use them in a live setting and what is the motivation to put these in your music?

Yes, they are called Andean wind instruments; they vary in the size and the sound they produce. We can have zamponia, quena, quenacho, malta, zanca and toyos. All of them look like a pipe maiden of wood, quite like a flute but wider and large. When you blow they produce a sound depending on the length and width.
Yes, we use these instruments alive. We are not Oscuro Mito if the winds are not present, we are dependent on them.

What process do you follow in creating new music? Do the traditional elements have an effect on the songwriting? Do you start with a story or maybe with music and what roles do all band members have?

I can say we didn’t follow a specific flow on composing the songs. Each song followed a different way like writing first the lyrics than the music, thinking about the wind melody and then the guitars, or having a complete song then doing the winds arrangements.
We also said we wanted to compose a song for a specific myth and then I came with a couple of melodies, then each one gave the remaining pieces.

What sort of experience is a live show by Oscuro Mito? As you find inspiration in black metal, do you also apply the ritual elements to a live show?

We are making to watch Oscuro Mito performance a good experience, we have corpse painting as our basic beliefs, headbanging, chorus with the people and I think we transmit the energy set on our music. Once we have a presentation where a person with the same mask that is on ‘Danza en trance’ danced along this song.

South America has a rich and vibrant metal scene all over, but some countries are lesser known here for their metal music. I’m curious if you can tell me a bit about the scene in Bolivia, about its history and bands that really shaped the scene.

It has started in the 90s very narrow, there were a bunch of bands though. Very few are active now: Subvertor, Hate, Bael, Estertor, Infernal Malice, Lilith, and Subterfugio are some names to share on that starting.
Other great bands that are and they are not active I can mention: Necromancy, Katalepsy, Sabathan, Track, Bestial Holocaust and Atmosfera Funebre.

What are things like in a more practical sense? I understand there are quite some cool festivals happening. Are there plenty of places to play and is everything like instruments, rehearsal spaces, studios etcetera easily accessible for metalheads or is it more DIY?

The only problem I’d say is that the music is not well supported; you cannot live here doing metal so for that the studio is not quite accessible.
Yes, there are good amounts of places for shows, most of them are pubs. Nowadays the scene is getting bigger I think because of the internet and its easy way to spread the news there.

Often we take liberties for granted here in my country, so I’m curious if you can sing about whatever you want and if the metal music is tolerated in Bolivia. Is there any sort of censorship or public discouragement?

Not at all, there are shows every city most of the weekends. There are many bands here in Bolivia. You can sing whatever you want.

What bands from your part of the world should people really check out and why?

We’d probably lead you to really big bands and you’d probably think we would, but not, I’d say look into the very bottom of the box you will find really interesting things. Such as the case of Al-Namrood or other middle east bands. I think when you feel and like the things you are doing, you will do some of the best work in music, especially if it is metal.
So you have to look for it, sometimes it takes hard but it worths.

What makes it important for you to put your Bolivian identity in your music?

I’d say it’s kind of a pride of our origins, but I’d say it’s something philosophic idea for our lives, ‘first embrace your culture then you will who you really are’. We admire our culture, we try to honor our culture and we think this can be shared with music as well.

Are you working on any new releases? And what future plans do you have?

We are finishing a new work with 10 songs, and then we will start the production of this work. We are planning to have this ready in next three months.

Alright, if you had to compare Oscuro Mito to a type of food, what food would it be and why?

Well… it would’ve been something very traditional very Bolivian. It would’ve been a very spicy ‘pique macho’.

Thanks for the patient, thanks for your time, thanks for all!

Oscuro Mito

Hades Ghosphell: Laotian metal upstarts

The land-locked nation of Laos, or in full ‘Lao People’s Democratic Republic’, is not a place known to be brimming with heavy metal artists. There is a thriving underground scene happening and interaction between the south-east Asian countries occurs often. One of those bands is Hades Ghosphell.

The band plays black metal, which does make them stand out a scene that is overwhelmingly death metal of the more brutal kind. The band was kind enough to answer some of my questions about playing metal in Laos.

Photo credits: 906 Photography

Hades Ghosphell

Could you start by introducing the band? How did you guys get together, can you give me a bit of a history of the band?

The current line-up consists of Lounty (Drums), Tun (Bass), Ben (Guitar) & Aof (Vocals).

Ben: the band was initially formed by Aof and me. I was in Laos for 2 years already and was desperately looking for an underground scene, to no avail. One day a friend brought me to a fun little bar, where there was an acoustic duo playing covers. The singer went on break, grabbed a beer at the counter and asked the owner to play some heavy shit. That was Aof. We spent the rest of the night gulping beers and talking about metal, about the local scene, and how we definitely had to start a band. That’s how Hades Ghosphell started.

We struggled a bit to recruit a drummer and a bassist but eventually managed to cover a couple of classics and organized our first concert (and the first black-metal concert ever in Laos!) in October 2010. I then moved to Thailand for 3 years and our vocalist has had some serious health issues. But we are now back in full force, with a new line-up ready to lay down some devastating shit!

Do I understand correctly that you are French? So how did you end up in Laos?
You understood correctly indeed, je suis Français. I came to Laos 10 years ago as a Trainee for 2 months (on a hydropower project), as part of my university graduation in Supply Chain. The Project then proposed me a 2-year contract at the end of my internship, which I immediately accepted. I joined a logistics company afterward, moved to Thailand for 3 years, then moved back to Laos 3 years ago and here I am!

What made you guys get into metal music and which influences do you consider your most important ones for the sound of Hades Ghosphell?

Morbosidad, Proclamation, Black Witchery, Archgoat, Blasphemy, Tsjuder.

Where does the name Hades Ghosphell come from?

It was proposed by our singer, Aof, and it was immediately adopted. We liked how the imagery of ritual chants in honor of the Underworld could be interpreted in several ways, both literally and figuratively, as our humble and dedicated contribution to the underworld that the metal scene is.

Did you play in other bands before Hades Ghosphell?

Aof: no
Ben: DCS (punk-HxC) back in France, Sapanakhith (brutal death metal) in Laos, REMAINS (thrash metal) in Thailand, Dissevered (brutal death metal) in Laos.
Tun: Acclaim of Sinner (slamming death metal), Rotkin (brutal death metal), Buddhlust (brutal death metal), Dissevered (brutal death metal) and another dozen bands. This guy is everywhere!
Lounty: Morrana (brutal death metal), Killerz Virginal (grind/death)

What story does Hades Ghosphell tell in the music? What sort of themes do you weave into your own works?

The main themes are centered on the denunciation of religious fanatism, the deceptive and manipulative aspects of any religion under their great holy truths. Desecration, basically.
We will talk a bit about our personal battles, as a band, in our future works as well.

Are you currently working on any releases? If so, can you tell more about it?

We are currently preparing a demo and should start recording real soon. We are truly itching to record our first material after so many years and so many struggles. The current line-up is working very well, we have a good alchemy and shitloads of energy to insufflate in our songs.

What is available from you guys this far, is a couple of covers of true originators of black metal. Darkthrone, Burzum, Mayhem. You even have the pigs heads on stage. Are these bands your main inspirators and how far will Hades Ghosphell emulate that sound and feel in their music and live shows? Or are you intending different directions?

These classics are undeniably a special influence, among many, many others. But as said, we now have a solid line-up and are more able (and inclined) to pursue our own sound, our own style. We have been and will continue going for an even rawer sound, more black/death vocals, war drums and incisive riffs.

The original black metal wave fiercely rebelled against Christianity. In your country, Laos, the dominant religion is Buddhism followed by Laotian folk religion. There’s hardly any Christianity to rebel against. How do you look upon these religions in relation to the satanic and profane in your music?

There is a quite consequent Christian community in Laos, but nowhere near important or influent as the Buddhist main base. We are more in an open rejection of the holy, the sacred, and all the deviances it brings and justifies. Buddhism here is very much tainted with Animism, which is more a belief, than a religion as such.
It’s an acceptation that spirits exist in all things and that they can manifest or that you can interact with them. Ethnic animistic ceremonies are more rituals, animal sacrifices are pretty common and it can sometimes be related to black magic. There are a lot of folk’s tales about ghosts, evil spirits and it really can make a good inspiration or base for our materials, as the underworld, the dark and incomprehensible side is omnipresent.

I’m curious about the metal scene in Laos. How big would you say it is and where does it center mostly? What sort of styles are dominant in your country?

It’s definitely still a small scene, with its positive and negative sides, gathering around 30-40 core members. Everything metal happening is in the capital, Vientiane. The good thing is that it is pretty much united, there is no segregation between genres, as soon as it remains underground enough. Everybody knows each other and each concert is like a kinda family reunion hahaha.

But that also means a limited musician pool, with many bands sharing the same guys. Our bass player, Tun, is playing in almost all the bands here! You always have some bitching, people that used to play together and for some reason came to hate each other’s guts, but all in all it remains a very united scene. Brutal death metal is big here, there is also a bit of thrash and Hades Ghosphell for black metal. People do listen to quite a wide spectrum of underground music and usually know their stuff, just not enough musicians to represent more styles.

Can you give me a bit of history of metal in Laos. How did metal come to the country, which bands pioneered the scene, are there any important venues or festivals?

There are some old-schoolers, like Sapphire and The Exile (Canada & US), who played during the 90’s and are actually considered the pioneers of the heavy stuff here. It’s more heavy-metal, but all generations of metalheads here acknowledge and respect them.
Very few die-hard metal fans at that time but they never gave up and although not playing music themselves, they always supported and continue to support the scene. Big Joe is the most prominent figure in this respect.

Then came the next wave circa 2005 (Sapanakhith, Hades Ghosphell, Dictator, Awaken the Dreamer…) and the beginning of the Metal Destruction shows (THE metal event in Laos), organized every year by Big Joe.

Today there are 6-7 active bands, including some youngsters from the new generation who are willing to take on the torch. The Vientiane Death Fest was introduced in 2016 and a new 2018 edition is under preparation, mostly for brutal death. All concerts are organized at bars/discos/restaurants, whose owners are somehow related to the metal scene and are willing to sponsor the gigs.

Do you face any sort of censorship in Laos by the government or other institutions? And how does society look at metal music?

Censorship is real in Laos but luckily the metal scene is not big enough to attract Big Brother’s eyes, so we are not exactly bothered by the communist institutions. We don’t have issues with gigs either, as it is always very friendly. There is, however a strong societal weight on anything or anybody not going with society’s flow.

As you may know, the weight of social rules and regard is pretty important in Asia as a whole, and Laos is no exception. Losing face or appearing shameful to the eyes of society is a much greater humiliation or failure than breaking the law for example. In this context, the external appearances and the musical violence of metal in any form do stand out. As a result, a lot of kids actually stay away from the scene, precisely not to stand out. I personally believe it takes a lot more balls and commitment for Laotian kids to get and stay into metal than, say, in Europe or in the US.

Perhaps a weird question, but is everything easily available to you? Like music, instruments, rehearsal space, recording studio and venues to play live?

Music and merch are now easily available thanks to online stores and it’s really easy to import from neighboring countries, Asia or even internationally. Instruments are another story: there are very few shops and they usually don’t carry a lot of stuff designed for metal musicians. There again we have to rely on import, but it’s always tricky to purchase an instrument/parts without testing beforehand.

The one thing that is easily found in Vientiane is rehearsal studios. There are quite a few and it’s pretty cheap (~5 $ / hour). The equipment provided is crap, but as soon as you have your own gear, no problem. The recording is not an issue either, with a couple of really talented guys for recording & mixing. We are very lucky to have our own rehearsing & recording space with my other band, Dissevered, so we can take all the time needed for practice and recording, it really is super convenient! We plan to record there with Hades Ghosphell, maybe even mix ourselves.

As said previously, all the concerts are organized through connections with bars or discos. They mostly lent us the venue for free, with a percentage of the entrance fees. Plus they are guaranteed to sell quite a nice amount of beers.

Are there any bands from Laos that people should really check out? Can you name them and explain why?
Dissevered (brutal death metal). It’s the first Lao band to sign & release albums on an international label (New Standard Elite, USA). Both Tun (bass) and Ben (guitar) play in this band. Straightforward, ultra-brutal stuff!

Buddhlust (brutal death metal). Another spearhead of the brutal scene here, they just recently joined Reality Fade Records (Ukraine) and are to release their debut album in 2018.
Rotkin (brutal death metal). With just a demo available for the time being, they are the youngsters of the metal scene. Great dudes and tracks, a debut album should be released soon.

What sort of connection do you have with the metal scenes from surrounding countries? Is there any sort of contact and cooperation happening?
Most definitely, we are in touch regularly with the neighboring metalheads, especially in Thailand. No language barriers as Lao people all understand the Thai language. Metal shows in Laos will always see Thai counterparts joining the party and Lao metal heads regularly attend major shows in Thailand. But we also have good friends and contacts in Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia…

It’s a small scene everywhere (except in Indonesia where metal, especially death metal, is huge) so it is pretty common to have gigs with regional bands.

I’m interested in what the connection with Thailand in general is. I’ve noticed that a lot of metal musicians from surrounding countries have moved there. Has this got to do with liberties?
On paper, it is not exactly a good time for liberties in Thailand with the current regime. But in reality, nobody really gives a fuck if you play in a metal band or organize metal gigs, it is just another form of music. So yes, unless you criticize or instigate hate towards the monarchy (which is really not recommended), I would say that the freedom of speech and of being yourself completely is better in Thailand, compared to most of its neighbors.

Plus the scene is good, the public is good, there are some really active organizers who manage to book great international bands…
Traveling to Bangkok from surrounding countries is usually pretty cheap and easy, and staying there for a couple of days will not bleed your bank account dry. You will not have any visa/immigration issues on arrival even if you carry your whole drum set with you.
So yes, all-in-all, Thailand is an easy place to go or to be for underground musicians.

What future plans does Hades Ghosphell have?
A demo very, very soon. Then more composing, more shows too if possible and why not a debut album within early next year… we are back from a long slumber and more eager than ever get things moving forward!

If you had to compare Hades Ghosphell to a dish, a type of food, what would it be and why?
A cured ham. One that you forgot you had, until the day you discover it hidden in a dark corner your fridge and devour it with tears of joy in the eyes.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks for the interview man, and keep an eye (and an ear) on the growing Laotian Metal Scene!