“A TOOL FOR CARRYING OUT PRIMITIVE TASKS”: BONE AWL

The year 2006 brought the second issue of Kaleidoscope, and now the whole package was more balanced. The scale of bands was quite varied – from IC Rex’s occult black metal to Morbosidad’s fago worship – but the questions were drilling more into the core, and I started to focus on a few themes instead of a scattered bunch of questions. And from today’s perspective it’s satisfying to see that there are bands like Bone Awl and Necros Christos, which were just promising demo bands back then. I was walking my own path.

So there will be three picks from the issue two, and the first one is Bone Awl. This band has showed how primitivity can hide deeper meanings, and how a demo tape is a perfect format to reflect a soul’s moment of hate and anguish – and what great layouts this band has! There you go, a Bone Awl interview circa Not for Our Feet era.

Let’s start from semantics: Bone Awl is an interesting name for a band, even for a Black Metal band. Where did this kind of primitive sounding tag come from?

– I cannot remember exactly when the name Bone Awl came to me. I read of the tool, a bone awl, somewhere, months before the band’s conception. It is an awl, fashioned from bone. A tool utilized by ‘primitive’ cultures- not a medical instrument, that I found out, does exist. Its use wasn’t implemented for its literal meaning, but rather me rolling this idea of the ‘tool of the primitive’ around in my mind. Bone awl is the tool of the primitive. It was once a cracked femur, it is now a point, that scrapes and boars – chipping, chiselling, and puncturing. A tool for carrying out primitive tasks, this is Bone Awl.

Also your aliases are far from typical, taken from Norse mythology. But isn’t it a bit weird that a Canadian band takes influences from other side of the world, or do you feel a strong communion with the Nordic people and their heritage?

– Teeth are bones. We are from California, just as far from Norway. No communion with Norse people or their culture. We are from USA; we are cultureless, faceless, and with no identifications to any culture really. The names were simply striking in their English translation. So we appropriated them as such. Natural balance is a theme that will recur in our music, and the names embody this. Teeth are gnashed and teeth are crushed, action and reaction.

On the other hand Black Metal has a strong and unified world of symbols, phrases and ideas, which creates some sort of feeling of unity, but in my opinion this has become quite clichéd nowadays. What do you think about this?

– Black Metal can be seen as a history of traditions and practices. Those who hold true to the tradition will likely adorn themselves with the symbols of those who came before them. Most do not understand the symbols, and also use them in a completely derivative way. Tradition shouldn’t necessarily equal an end to progress or evolution. This is a topic, for the most part, which doesn’t involve Bone Awl. We are not limited to exclusively the BM system of symbols, metaphors, etc.

Your aliases make also a connection to paganism; what way do you travel: resurrection of old worlds or destruction of this society which is long lost in itself?

– Well, looking at my above answer, it’s obvious we aren’t pagans in the typical sense of the word. We have referenced and dealt with some pagan topics like Druid Human sacrifices on the Bog Bodies cass. But we, ourselves, do not align with beliefs of these groups. The Old Worlds can stay dead, and there’s no hope in any resurrection. Destruction of this society? I know that everything, all my illnesses and disorders are inflicted by society. But it is this far off cloud of pollution, that I can’t effect or even picture for that matter. I know that I hate it, but I can’t get involved enough to cause any damage. It sure is killing me though.
When I read your lyrics, I couldn’t find any hints of Satan, ancient gods or destroying Christians. Your lyrics remind me about brutal and primitive assaults of the 80ies thrash and death metal with all those descriptions of death, murders and so on. What kind of message does Bone Awl try to spread?

– I would not cite eighties thrash or death metal as any lyrical influence and I wouldn’t in any way align our lyrics to these genres.  The way in which these styles deal with lyrics is completely separate from Bone Awl. We might have commonality in violence, obsession with some visceral things, and a general morbid, death obsessed way of thinking, but these things are so broad they encompass nearly all of metal and beyond.

– Only metal bands I can cite as an inspiration are Nuclear Death, Goatlord and Von (some might consider these DM, but they are far from typical). The images they have tainted my mind with have not been topped.
Total destruction of this world is one of your strongest topics. Nowadays Black Metal seems to raise this world into its glory for Satan’s millennium or to curse and destroy all in the way to the final Armageddon. Where do you stand in this line?

– Like I said earlier, I do not see us being involved in either side. I am not propagating armageddon. I think it’s kind of a nice idea, but as of now, I’m not involved in anything. The dawn of Satan’s Millennium? Here is an issue of semantics. For myself, Satan is just a placeholder name for all acts of destruction. Yes, I worship him dearly, but I also worship creation as well! If you are talking about the topic concerning reversal of morals which Christians and other religious sects have employed, on this, I’m not very opinionated.

What do you think about today’s BM scene in general? Is everything coming too thoughtful and even humanistic, or is this kind of progression a right direction?

– I think you can go either way. I wouldn’t want to see a complete abandonment of BM ideals and traditions. There are many things which must remain still and make up the essence of black metal. But to deny the human condition is, for us, impossible. It must be dealt with. We try to draw from both sides.

One thing that annoys me a lot is this legion of Internet BM warriors, who try to get their reputation as bad guys with lots of bashing, gossiping and digging some dirt from the others. What’s your opinion about this?

– I think you can tell, we care not for scene opinions, or internet gossip etc. I would like to be as far removed from this world please! I encourage people to never mention Bone Awl in conversation, emails, or other forms of communications.

Let’s take another glance to the North. One band what is close to your style is definitely Ildjarn. What do you feel about this legendary messenger of primitive metal?

– His music is sacred, pure, and deathly divine. It is like instead of seeing a human body, with its various systems, all you see is a beating heart. Words cannot do him justice.

Another influence is the slight touch of hard core punk and even rock’n’roll. Do you listen to stuff outside of (Black) Metal, or where do these influences come from?

– Yes, we listen to many genres besides BM and metal. To get into that here would be excessive and inappropriate. However I feel that there is something relevant in everything we choose to listen to. What we are trying to do is play black metal in its most stripped down form, exposing a purity and power -only utilizing the minimal amount of technique to achieve this. What happens is that once something is stripped, you can see its bones and structure. BM borrows many bones from rock’n’ roll, punk, and hardcore. Because we are dealing with basic structure we deal with these ‘bones’ as well.

When I looked your discography, the notable thing is the huge amount of demos you have been released. Why’s that? Do you try to evolve to the top before putting some “real” records out or what? Today the world is almost drowning in a wave of (generally indifferent) demo bands, projects etc., what do you think about this?

– ‘Real’ records? This term cannot be used. Bands now release vinyl and CDs first thing, and a lot of the times they are not ‘real’ or of any quality. We release in formats that we prefer. We prefer cassettes, not that it matters, but I think most musical groups choose to neglect this form. However, I think no matter which format you choose, you will be inevitably thrown into this whirlpool of bands and symbols. We could be lost in it forever, oh well…

Well, one official recording was the split album with Volkurah, Hammer and Vordr. What’s your opinion about these three bands? Do you find any same spirit between you and them?

– Hammer, I know virtually nothing about. They have a demo, which I’ve never seen, and these tracks only? Volkurah are of a different style than us, and do not know personally either. Vordr, I can say that I enjoy and feel some small similarity to. They seem to be looking for the simplest nature of Black Metal music and try to tap into it.  Often times they hit it.

Well, let’s gaze to the future. You are soon releasing your first full-length. What kind of material can we find from it? Are you trying to capture a wider audience, or do you keep a low status?

– Audience is the least of our worries. In fact, it’s nothing, not a worry, nothing. It will be primitive, pounding, pulsating, convulsing, blood boiling, and hair raising. Like everything that we’ve tried to do so far. Nothing different except length.

Thanks for the interview! Any other thoughts to bring forth?

–  Hooves, Hooves, Hooves, stampede, cerebral stampedes, if you hear the sounds, there is no need to look, it’s just us.

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