Category Archives: Interview

Rugged Shores: Mistwalker & Viridian Records from Newfoundland

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

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

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

Mistwalker

Hello! Could you tell me something more about yourself?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What future plans do you have and does Viridian have?

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

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

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

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

Trappist: Hell bent for brews

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

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

Brew’m all: Trappist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What future plans do you guys have with the band?

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

Cover image press image by Paul Lee

Striborg: Unknown domains with Blackwave

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

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

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

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

Heading into the urban darkness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images courtesy of Striborg

Ifernach: Mi’kmaq heritage and black metal

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

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

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

Ifernach: Roots, bloody roots

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

Ifernach started as my life turned into something really dark.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck the code. Fuck censorship.

My ancestors died because of an immigrant invasion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What future plans do you have for Ifernach?

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

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

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

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

Furia: Silesian Nekrofolk between concrete and green

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

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

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

Of mines and the moon

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

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

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

Furia live @ Roadburn by Paul Verhagen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Furia live @ Roadburn by Paul Verhagen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Furia live @ Roadburn by Paul Verhagen

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

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

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

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

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

 

Pictures by Paul Verhagen

Colombia as it once was: Guahaihoque

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

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

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

Ancestral traditions and black metal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for the support and interview

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.