Monthly Archives: February 2012

THE CHOSEN THREE: FEBRUARY 2012

This month has been slow what comes to good music. There have been well-done re-releases like Varathron compilation (Nuclear War Now!) and Isengard’s Vinterskugge (Peaceville) but only few (see below) new outputs have taken my death breath away. So this month’s menu includes both music and words.

ASYMMETRY: Ashes into Wood (Kuunpalvelus 2012)

It’s always uneasy to say good things publicly about friends’ band, but good music is always good music and that’s it. Many were already charmed by Roman Cross’s primitively ingenious and original black metal, but I can assure you that this new seedling, rising from RC’s corpse, is as good as its predecessor. Asymmetry isn’t Roman Cross, that should be keep in mind – Luxixul Sumering Auter’s (from Cosmic Church) presence has brought colder and more melodic nuances to Sandess’s messy rumblings, and the result is a good mix of both: you can feel laconic atmosphere similar to Austere, skull-pounding stubbornness and some occult shades too. All elements are in a good balance, and crunchy and straight-to-the-point playing and production give the final blessing to Ashes into Wood. Like the title says, the death of Roman Cross has created a new strong entity.

But how does the original member Sandess describe his over-Atlantic relationship to Luxixul?

– While such a bond most certainly exists, I would not feel comfortable discussing this topic in public. As for how the bond manifests in Asymmetry’s music, consider the following anecdotes: A Strange Grease was arranged and recorded within hours of meeting Luxixial Sumering Auter in person. Ashes Into Wood was recorded under rather extreme time constraints, both recordings with very little rehearsal. I feel the relative ease (though not exactly easy) we had recording both demos is evidence of said bond, and can be heard by a critical listening to both demos, and by the atmosphere conjured by doing so.

http://soundcloud.com/kuunpalvelus

http://www.ahdistuksenaihio.com/index2.php

CORPSESSED: The Dagger & The Chalice (Dark Descent 2011)

Finland’s Corpsessed’s The Dagger & The Chalice came out long time ago in 2011, but I didn’t pay any particular attention to it. But when my ears were infested by the new track Demoniacal Subjugation (from their coming 7”), I was possessed to purchase their debut EP. And a wicked little beast it is: mixing different sides of death metal, Corpsessed knows how to blast like Deicide, rumble like Incantation and create fierce thrashing like Entombed. All this is dragged through a heavy and down-tuned blender, which is quite common with old Finnish death metal and modern, ‘serious’ death worship. But these six songs are more like sketches what comes to Demoniacal Subjugation: this piece of battery throws itself from the kick-ass start to more midtempo massacres, and the ominous veil hovers over all this – and this song is just three and half minutes long! A decent rival to Cruciamentum, methinks.

But what the heck does ‘Corpsessed’ mean, and what is your favourite ‘-ed’ death metal band? The band answers:

– There is no secret to the fact that the name is totally made up by us, basically by combining the words ‘corpse’ and ‘possessed’. Sure, the name has some morbid sense of black humour to it though it’s not really meant to be taken as a joke. The state of being ‘corpsessed’, how we see it, is the draining of all Will and being possessed to a corpselike state in the grip of death, a zombifiement of sort (or the feeling on Monday morning at work after three days of drinking) … or being possessed/obsessed by corpses & death – you can decide for yourself!

– Now, selecting a favourite from all the -ed bands, that’s a tough one! Entombed would probably be a too obvious choice but there are other greats as well like Unleashed, Possessed, Drowned, Drawn & Quartered, Sentenced on their early releases, Molested, Corrupted … the list goes on! Hard to pick one favourite.

http://www.myspace.com/corpsessed/

HORRIBLE EYES – The Fourth Morbid Knocking (2012)

Horrible Eyes #4 is an epitome of dedication – devotion shown to both extreme metal and old school metal magazines. The magazine’s Xerox outlook is 100% authentic, and Horrible Eyes’ way to fill every square centimetre with pictures, phrases and details is just amazing. The content is also over-whelming, but sometimes these interviews are just (tight) scratches which just leave you to hunger for more. But that’s how it is when you have about million bands featured. The longer interrogations like Grave Miasma and The Ruins of Beverast steal the show here but also ‘less is more’ phrase is valid in Horrible Eyes’ case, especially when the big boss Ronald and his not-so-merry henchmen throw some clever wits and epiphanies into the boiling cauldron. Not pure gold from the page one to page eighty-eight but still, a total Isaac’s church of metal journalism. This is how Ronald describes the workload of the issue four:

– That’s quite hard to say, really. Nothing of that matters anymore now that no. 4 is out. I remember that I had gradually turned into a sullen recluse during the one and a half years before finally submitting it to the print shop. The idea of eventually finishing it had become more and more abstract. I guess the damn thing had been with me for too long, like an abscess or something. No matter how much you would squeeze it, it wouldn’t open. You squeeze it and squeeze it, already forgetting that it might open — and then, out of a sudden: SPLASH!! You’re covered with loads of warm, rancid puss. That’s a bit what I feel like now.

– Of course it is in this sense difficult to describe what was easy and what was troublesome during this endless process of typing, cutting and gluing. I think this all depends very much on motivation and inspiration: When both are in order results are usually easily gained and pleasing, often leading to further achievements without much effort. That can become a great and dangerous drug.

– External factors such as the interviewees’ lack of willingness to answer our questions weren’t a big deal, because none of the interviews was conducted anywhere close to release date of The Fourth Morbid Knocking. Pressure of time was never an issue. I guess most bands were rather surprised in the end to really find a copy of the rag in their mail boxes. If they hadn’t disbanded in the meanwhile already! Besides, if a band rejected our attempts, we wouldn’t mind printing the naked questionnaire alone, assholes that we are.

horribleeyes@gmail.com

DON’T CARE: HATEFUL ABANDON

Things go in circles. In 2006 mr. Vintyr was just baptized his band Abandon to Hateful Abandon, and people including me were unsure which direction this arrogant Brit would take. Never-Ending Black Torrent of Death was already a disturbing mix of depressive black metal and unrecognizable atmospheric elements, but evil tongues were rumouring that Hateful Abandon would wander even farther from black metal with their full-length Famine (or into the Bellies of Worms), which came out finally in 2008. And that circle: now in 2012 I have selected HA’s second album Move to my “top five of 2011” and I’m dissecting through this old interview… Well, in this case all progression has been good: I can always return to the uniqueness of Never-Ending Black Torrent of Death and I can get my mind blown by the submissive power of Famine and Move. Win-win-situation.

The creature called Vintyr came from the shadows in 2004 and unleashed two impressive acts of hate and filth: Never-Ending Black Torrent of Death by Abandon and A Joyless March through the Cold Lands by Basilisk. Now the years have passed, flowers have blossomed and withered and worms have feasted their meals. It’s time for a new season of decadence. Let me introduce you re-named Hateful Abandon…

So, two years have passed from Hateful Abandon’s Never-Ending Black Torrent of Death and Basilisk’s A Joyless March through the Cold Lands. What have you doing during these years?

– Well, some of my time was spent recording the material for the Urfaust/Basilisk split, but even that material is almost two years old now. I spent a lot of time “out of the loop” so to speak. I ended both Basilisk and Hateful Abandon for a short while after a healthy dose of disillusionment; I totally washed my hands of them. I couldn’t see where I was going with either project. It’s pretty confusing when you sit down to perform a Black Metal record and the sound that emanates from the speakers is not Black Metal at all. Couple that with the recent spate of ‘cut n’ paste’ Black Metal that gets churned out of teenagers bedrooms on an almost daily basis, and you get a pretty frustrated person. So, in short, most of that time was spent having minor hissy fits and artistic tantrums. Haha. I have, of course, got Hateful Abandon back up and running also. So, I’ve been writing for that.

You have recruited Swine alias Tom (a non-bearded bald guy in the picture) from the Black Metal band called Swine to Hateful Abandon. Why’s that? Do you share same ideologies and views, or is this purely a musical decision? What will Swine bring to Hateful Abandon’s concept?

– It totally made sense, he is a fantastic drummer (and all round great musician actually), he owns a studio, he shares a very similar music taste as mine, and lastly is as enthusiastic as me about recording something of quality that is also original and has integrity. With Tom on board expect a more polished sound as he has a very professional setup, also I’m sure a bit of his personality will bleed into the record.

What do you think, how your music will change now when you have to “give away” a part of your work? I guess it’s different to work with somebody than just make everything by yourself.

– It will be very different. For example, bar the very first Basilisk demo (Blackened Royalty), everything I’ve recorded was totally improvised and done in one ‘take’. I’ve written and demo’d some Hateful Abandon tracks this time, and I have a crystal clear view of what the music will sound like. I may come across a little bossy in the studio I don’t know, but then again it IS my project.

 I guess you hear this often, but I find many similarities but also differences between Hateful Abandon and Basilisk, but I guess you see this situation quite differently. How would you describe Hateful Abandon’s and Basilisk’s concepts? Are these bands representations of yourself, that you have “Hateful Abandon side” and “Basilisk side” in your soul?

– With Hateful Abandon I want to create a paradox. The lyrics are about total strength, hate and questioning of emotions, whilst the music is quite sorrowful and bleak. This will continue throughout Hateful Abandon’s lifespan. Also, on the debut full length the lyrics will be included so that the listener can make that connection on his or her own. With Basilisk, it was varying topics. Usually with a Satanic bent, some tracks were very personal… other songs portrayed stories inspired by such twisted minds as Clive Barker, other songs inspired by true life events, such as the Black Plague.

 The other interesting thing is the fact that there are different versions in the tape edition and CD edition of Never-Ending Black Torrent of Death. Why did you decided to make these two versions of the songs? Does this tell something about your view to music, that the songs are never complete and they can reform as the time goes by?

– The original CD version of Never-ending… was a mistake by the CD manufacturers. What they received was a copy of the master recording in stereo. What they put out wasn’t what I gave to them. The left side speaker was copied over the right. This gave the effect of ‘StereoMONO’…leaving out several of the key guitar parts that were recorded on the right side. It was a bad part of my life… Although what was released by my good friend at Todestrieb certainly wasn’t too bad; it wasn’t truly representative of Abandon at the time. The cassette version was put out to try and rectify the problems. Whether it was successful or not, I don’t know.

 How critical are you as a composer? Do you throw many songs away, and how ready are the songs in your head when you start to record them? Usually in Black Metal people trust on their instincts and the songs are coming from their backbones, almost through improvisation, but what is the situation in your case?

– Like I mentioned above, my previous recording have all been total improvisation. I have literally hundreds of Basilisk tracks here that will never see the light of day.

Despite the harsh soundscapes of Hateful Abandon, there are many different elements: effects, strange sounds, drum machines… I guess the sky (or hell) is the only limit to you when you make music?

– I’ll never let and ‘genre traps’ get in the way of my musical output ever again… Music genres are a total fucking con, created by music journalists in suits and ties that want to sell you magazines. Hateful Abandon and anything I do in the future is simply music… not Black Metal, not Metal… just music. People can call it Black Metal I suppose, that’s convenient if they simply HAVE to put everything in one little neat and tidy slot. There’s NEVER a limit.

 As said, the soundscapes are harsh, there are atmospheres from raw Black Metal feeling to almost soft and ghastly wandering. Where do these contradictive atmospheres come from? Do you want to paint with a large “palette” intentionally?

– Well, nothing is intentional. Like I mentioned earlier (and how you’ve very astutely observed!) Hateful Abandon lends itself to a paradoxical mindset. It’s beautiful, it’s disgusting, it’s negative, it’s absurdly positive…

And talking about ghastly atmosphere and ghosts, what’s your relationship to supernatural phenomenon? At least I can sense that there is somebody or something else than you present in your music…

– I’m just schizophrenic. Hah!

Your songs also are like paintings, very deep and overwhelming, and they remind me about the history of the Great Britain: all those plagues, witch hunts and Dark Ages… How much do you use historical events, paintings etc. as an inspiration, and how interested are you about history?

– As I mentioned earlier, the Black Plague is always a marvellous source of inspiration. Basilisk in particular was DRIPPING with plague-like imagery. Hateful Abandon will hopefully still retain that ‘feeling’, but maybe in a more ‘urban’ way. Note that I don’t mean ‘urban’ in the way it’s represented on MTV… more industrial.

The words like “disease” and “vermin” wind in your lyrics. Where does all this filth and decadence spring forth? Is it a picture of yourself or of this society?

– Sometimes I feel like the most disgusting creature that ever lived, sometimes I feel like the purest. Your observation certainly lends itself to the former, the truth is I would probably (note; probably) never write or perform music when I felt like the latter. It just doesn’t lend itself to interesting imagery in my opinion.

On the other hand one of your statements is “Slaughter the Christian Tribe like a Vermin”. Do you see the situation that way, that this world has to be purified from all that religious scum, and if yes, why? What would be the world without Christianity in your opinion?

– That song, of course, is a fantastical topic and not representative of my REAL actions or opinions. It’s good to vent occasionally on something you find abhorrent (the Christian faith). I could quite easily state that people that believe in this Christian ‘God’ are mentally unstable (and I’d mean it), but to slaughter them en masse, well, I’d end up in prison, which is retarded…

And how do you see yourself among all this? Usually in Black Metal people consider themselves as “übermensch”, above everything else, but if we think the concept of decadence and filth, can we find another form of “übermensch”, getting so low and away from morals and ethics, that the human laws don’t even touch you?

– I see myself like the rest of the Human filth… Born to reproduce. I shan’t however. I kick creation in the teeth! Haha! As for Black Metal fans being the übermensch, that’s pretty rich. Most are total scum, riding on trends like the rest of the world… Fuck ‘em.

In Black arts one improves and strengthens himself spiritually through magic and rituals, and physically same thing happens in a form of blood rituals. How about you, do you “bleed for Satan”, and if you do, what blood and blood rituals mean to you? Ordinary world sees them as a cry for help, but to dedicated ones it’s very individual and private ritual.

– I don’t, and never have, cut myself on purpose. It hurts! Sorry for the unserious answer. I hold no heed in self harm… for Satan or otherwise.

And from blood to violence… Now you are baptised as HATEFUL Abandon, which is a big change in my eyes. Like now you leave that misfit life and turn to active individual through hating. Who or what do you hate, and why did you take this name? How far are you ready to go with your hate, is an act of violence an option?

– Being in my 30’s, I realised through my actions in the past that violence on such a small scale is ineffective. To be honest, sometimes I feel I don’t live in the same world as anyone else. I just want to live and leave my mark before I expire. I feel for very little, apart from my girlfriend and various other people. I really don’t care if there is war, I don’t care about race, I don’t care about people in different countries getting squashed by nature, I don’t care what ‘Commando1488666’ is listening to on his stereo, I don’t care about politics, I don’t care what the weatherman says, I don’t care about starving Africans, I don’t care about rare and OOP records, I don’t care about fashion. In fact, you could say my life is lived with hateful abandon.

Let’s analyse the concept of hate more. Usually we hate something, so it’s a reaction to something what comes outside; like Christians turn their other cheek, Satanists etc. fight back. But is there a big difference between these two? They both are actions coming from outside, not inside.

– If there was a button that wiped everyone out that I don’t know or care for and left me and my very few friends alive, I’d press it.

So do you think that there could be pure hate, just coming from inside, like berserks, who get insane in their rage?

– I do. I have a very quick temper myself actually. I’m usually soothed to normality in a trice though, like it never happened.

So, let’s finish this chat with some news from the future. You are doing your new album Tower of Famine. I have listened the samples from Todestrieb homepage, and they were quite nasty and atmospheric pieces of black art. So, can we say that “nomen est omen” in this case, are you really building a (musical) tower of famine? What kind of new elements shall we hear from this coming masterpiece?

– Well, there have been a few changes now… The album is now called Famine (Or into the Bellies of Worms) and the tracks that were on the site have been scrapped. I may use parts of them on the album, I haven’t decided. The new title is a take on the old proverb ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’, although my title is rather more cruel and cynical…heheh. Again, it represents the paradoxical nature of the band.

Another coming release is Basilisk/Urfaust split (which never happened -ed.) . Because I am a big fan of Urfaust (and Basilisk, of course), I have to ask what’s your opinion about this Dutch band? What do you get from their music? Any other recent favourites (bands/albums?)

– Urfaust are an incredible band…I’m very honoured to be a part of this record. Their music throws up some of the most incredible imagery, sometimes I feel that my mental pictures cannot do the music justice. A totally mental band…

– Here’s some recommended listening to get the most out of the new Hateful Abandon record.

The Cure – Faith

The Cure – Pornography

Black Widow – Sacrifice

Killing Joke – S/t

Killing Joke – What’s THIS for?

Darkthrone – A Blaze…

Swans – Greed

Swans – Children Of God

Skinny Puppy – Remission

Todesstoss – Sehnsucht

Public Image Ltd – Metal Box

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

Well, that’s a list! End this discussion please.

– Thanks for the Vintyrview Antti!

LIFE IS A STRUGGLE: TOIL

I was in a close contact with Lurker, the sole creator of black metal band Toil, in the middle noughties, and I guess this interaction was one reason for a few deep and profound, even intimate answers in this interview. I was also very impressed by Toil’s constant progression through the band’s four demos, but the greatest achievement was yet to come: Toil’s debut album Obscure Chasms (2007) is one of the underrated albums what comes to melancholic but still ripping black metal. Need proofs? Here’s one , although this song doesn’t even represent the best material from the album. Also Obscure Chasms’ somehow easy-going and laconic guitar work made definitely way for Lurker’s other brilliant band Frail, now known as Crooked Necks (which I interviewed in Kaleidoscope #8). But that is another story, as Lurker alias Shane puts it nowadays:

   – Toil and Frail/Crooked Necks are completely different from one another in every way. We started Frail while Toil was still an active project, so they were separate entities from the very start. I wrote all of the music/lyrics for Toil solely by myself, while Frail has always been an equal pairing between Andy and myself. I write all of the music/perform all of the instrumentation and Andy writes the lyrics/performs the vocals parts, whereas Toil was more of a “solo” project.

   – So in my opinion, the two projects don’t share any similarities at all. Toil was a Black Metal band in every sense, albeit not a typical one. Frail/Crooked Necks began as an outlet for us to attempt something that is completely unrelated to Black Metal and Metal in general. Lyrically, Toil was focused on themes of death-worship and darkness. Crooked Necks’ lyrics deal with disconnection, loss, and sadness. Musically, Toil was directly influenced by different strains of Black Metal. With Crooked Necks, we are influenced by post-punk, shoegaze, and some goth/pop. 

So now you know. Here’s the death-worshipping words of Toil from Kaleidoscope #3.

 —

Toil can be described as a shadow, or a ghost. This pale but spiritually powerful and pure demon invoked from the haunted dreams of one man, Lurker has released four demos so far, but the stains on time and Black Metal scene have been few – and maybe it’s better that way. Taking its notes from desperate shrieks of suffering and hypnotic but still aggressive Black Metal, Toil is not for everyone. Lurker gave us some keys for the doors of this enigma…

So, I guess the easiest way to start is to give a brief history lesson about Toil. Where does Toil come from, where does it stand now and where is it heading?

   – Toil began as a solo project of mine in early 2002 in order to conjure atmospheres of pure death-worship. Focusing on the elements of pain, grief, and misery. As of now, the project is a 2-piece unit with myself on guitars/bass/drums/vocals and a close comrade of mine, Wraith, now handling synth duties. We have plans of advancing with this line-up permanently into the future.

Toil is quite an interesting name for a Black Metal band, if we look at it more closely. What’s the ideology behind the name? Do you toil for someone, or is life one long and heavy toil to its harsh end…?

   – The ideology, for me personally, is the idea that life is a struggle. That can be a struggle against the society, against situations that one experiences, or against internal factors that may cause strife in one’s existence.

I personally can sense that “life is toil” metaphor in your music, there is a certain strong pain and agony present. How real is that agony, if you look at your own life and thoughts? Is life just pure suffering from the cradle to the grave?

   – The agony present in my works is very real. I have experienced constant disappointment and failures in my life. By nature, I am a very negative/pessimistic person. Therefore, my view is one of utter negativity. In my opinion: life is shit, as well as everything that comes along with it.

Let’s continue with suffering… We can suffer in many different ways: internally, socially, outwardly, financially… What do you think about suffering: which kind of suffering is the most painful one, and can you see pain and nuisance as teaching and strengthening elements, the way Nietzsche sees it, in a way?

   – Suffering is something that everyone will experience in their lifetime, in one form or another. Suffering of the internal kind, for example, to struggle with one’s emotions/internal conflicts, to me is the most painful kind. I completely agree with Nietzsche’s opinion that suffering can be enlightening. After every miserable experience I have always found that after that experience ends, we are wiser and stronger. Pain and suffering can teach us how miserable life can be, and therefore it teaches us to embrace grief and misery in order to deal with the constant disappointments that we must experience.

Walking the misfit road of Satanism is a heavy task in the modern society. What’s your relationship with the society around you? Are you trying to change it, or do you just take everything (its blessings and curses) what it has to offer?

   – I am a very anti-social person. I stay within a very small group of comrades and don’t bother with the majority of humanity’s flock. In my opinion, there is no way to change the society at hand. Most of humanity will continue to exist as part of their blind and misled flock. Only those that strive to be free from the mundane will ever break out of society’s mould.

Sometimes we call an agonizing person ‘possessed’ and ‘haunted’. That haunting demon can be life, Satan or something else. Have you ever felt that your spirit is possessed by something? After all, you do have a song called Haunted by Unclean Spirits

   – Yes, I do feel that my spirit is possessed. What has possessed it, I’m not quite sure. Years ago, during channelling, a spirit stated to me that it would never leave me and would forever be my shadow. This statement has proven to be true, as I’ve felt its presence daily for years now. Others have also claimed that they sense a presence in my home and refuse to enter my dwelling again. This is a positive thing to me, to be connected with something from another plane, especially on such a constant basis. Also, I feel in some ways that it is a blessing to be cursed.

Your story about your “shadow” is quite interesting. How does this spirit come present in your life: is it just a feeling or something concrete? You said that you are not sure what this being is, but I guess you have some guesses about it…

   – For the most part, it’s presence is simply felt. Other times, it has made itself present upon request, displaying various forms. From the information I have gathered form communicating with the spirit, it is one of a young male child.

How about in general, what kind of role magic and occultism has in your daily life? How did you get familiar with this side of world?

– It will always play a significant part in my existence, even though I don’t currently practice. I feel that once one is exposed to these other aspects that dwell inside us, and with open eyes and an open mind, it is something that will always remain very much alive within that person.

The state of being possessed can also be a very creative moment, and usually the gap between insanity and genius is not that wide. How would you describe the moments and atmospheres in which the music of Toil is created?

   – Toil is most typically written/recorded in the dead of night and deep solitude. Recorded in either complete darkness or candlelight. I feel that the atmosphere in which material is written/recorded is essential to the final atmosphere of the release. Toil has always been conceived in my most hateful but melancholic moods. Feeling torn between sadness and anger is a very powerful state to be in… and these are the moments in which Toil is created.

Your newest material, the stuff I’ve heard at least, directs itself to a more flowing expression, in my opinion it, and sometimes even lighter shades can be found. Where has this change come from? Have you taken musical influences outside of Black Metal this time?

   – The style of the new material is very much a natural progression. I never plan on what I will write, but rather let the music take it’s own form and life by letting it be developed at the time of it’s inception. However, I am very pleased to see that the more depressive and negative elements are shining through. I have very few influences outside of Black Metal, none of which play a part into Toil’s overall sound.

I have also a sneak preview of the cover art of your upcoming album. That is a very interesting piece of art, partly symbolical, partly dream-like a vision. Do you ever see your music as images, or where does this symbolical side of Toil spring from?

   – Yes, I personally see all good music as images in sound. Very emotive music can conjure up the most intense landscapes in my mind. As for the symbolical meaning of the cover in mention, that would be answered best by Wraith, who drew the piece itself. The art does utilize different symbols of various cultures’ representations of gods of death.

Let’s take a look at Toil’s discography. You have made four demo tapes, none of which has become a scene favourite. What are your motives behind these demo releases? Have you just strengthened your skills and vision, and now the time has come for your first full-length assault?

   – There are no particular motives behind the releases thus far, besides to subject others to Toil’s death-like aura. The reason for the full-length is that after over 4 years of doing this project I felt like it was time for a release that contains more than 20 minutes of material. Also, there is a very similar atmosphere throughout the course of the new material which would be best heard in it’s entirety and not split up into separate releases.

You have also been in some other bands, even a couple of ambient-based projects. What do you get from ambient music personally, if you compare it to Black Metal for example? I know people who use ambient for relaxing and even for some sort of meditation, but how does it work for you?

   – Dark/Black Ambient music, to me, evokes the same feeling as Black Metal although performed with completely different aesthetic methods. Both styles are typically brooding and negative in nature. I do find some ambient-based projects very relaxing, yes. Which is nice that it calms, but still maintains a dark and death-like nature.

Sometimes (dark) ambient, at its furthermost borders, is very far away from the music we call “typical”. I find this very interesting, ‘cause if we think of Black Metal, for example, it’s quite contradictory that we use very basic, “human” instruments in expressing very inhuman feelings. What do you think about this?

   – I agree completely. Dark/Black Ambient projects utilize less human-like instruments to create, which I feel adds to the atmosphere of that style immensely, helping to create something very unhuman.

So, is the inhumanity some sort of goal to you in your life? Some say that inhumanity is like descending on the animal level, but some people (like me) think that being inhuman is being free from dogmas and shackles of this society and its morals.

   – Yes, I agree with you on that subject. Being “inhuman”, to me, is to be free of anything that humans have created as criteria to being a “good person”. There should be no constraints on individuality and free-thinking. What is morally wrong to one person is more than likely not wrong at all to another.

I haven’t read many of your lyrics, but your song titles in themselves draw atmospheric sceneries like Distant Howling Winds as well as strong declarations like Desecration of Christ. Where does Toil stand between these two aspects, or would you say these two aspects are entwined somehow?

   – I feel that those two aspects are indeed intertwined with Toil. Being an anti-christian, it is rather natural for me to express my contempt for religious beliefs. Although, I’ve always attempted to combine the anti-religious beliefs with the barren mental landscapes that Toil creates. As I mentioned previously, it is very important for me that Black Metal conjure images in the listener’s mind/imagination.

What do you think about leaders, books and rules in the sense of mysticism, Satanism and occultism? Many seem to take their ideas and influences from Crowley etc. (and even from some Black Metal bands) instead of searching for their own identity and thoughts.

   – I am an admirer of some writer’s works. Indeed the likes of Nieztsche, Crowley, and even Lovecraft have inspired Toil to some extent. However, in my opinion it is essential to have one’s own identity. It is a shame that some walk blind throughout their existence, never truly existing.

You mentioned Nietzsche, Crowley and Lovecraft as your literal influences. Could you tell us why these three quite different writers are so important to you.

   – There are distinct differences in the aforementioned writers, but each writer created something of their own. Something that was unique and personal to them. Their works show the spirit of individualism in full force, and this characteristic is what I personally admire the most.

We talked about the suffering before, and the suffering can be linked to art as well; if we think about those three writers, they all had a quite hard time. So, can we talk about “creation through suffering”?

   – I feel that negative states of emotion, for example, suffering, can be the most inspiring times to create in. Pain and agony are powerful emotions and can often lead to a cathartic release that could not be achieved otherwise. If utilized correctly, these ugly emotions are evident in the completed piece of work.

Besides suffering, usually in Black Metal lyrics deal the triumph and power of Satan, which lives in us. How do you see this dualism: on the other hand we search for the lowest pits of pain, on the other hand we are invincible in the shadow of our Lord…

   – I personally see this dualism as being a necessary thing. It comes from the tendency that all things have to be equally “balanced”. Light and dark, coldness and warmth, and so on. In even the darkest realms there exists varying degrees of darkness.

So, Toil stands on independent ground for sure, but let’s imagine a situation where Toil has been hailed as the new king of Black Metal, and the dedicated ones, as well as the mp3 kids, are worshipping you. What would you feel in that kind of situation? Shame, pride or something else?

   – I would hope that never happens. If it did, I’m sure I would feel pride when respected by those I respect, shame by those that should never obtain the material, and apathy towards all others.

Anyway, before that happens, tell us something about the future plans of Toil.

   – The full-length, Obscure Chasms, is finished and will be released by the end of this year. We are currently preparing to begin recording material for an upcoming 7” EP as well. Other upcoming releases will be a split 7” EP and the release of all four demos on CD, entitled Relics of Decaying Splendour.

I guess we have reached the end. Thanks for the interview, and if you have anything else to say, say it now!

   – Thank you for supporting Toil, my friend. Infernal regards!

 

 

OF WOLF AND MAN: FORGOTTEN WOODS

The third issue of Kaleidoscope came out in 2006. I declare with pride in its advertisement, that “Kaleidoscope has found its direction”. Well, this is just a half of the whole truth – although I am still satisfied with some interviews, there are texts which were done quite haphazardly and too impulsively – “oh yeah, a good band, wrap some questions up, that’s it”. Also the contribution of our visiting writer, K. Rajala, brought more fragmentation, although he made good job with his Thralldom interview.

One of the better interviews in this zine is the one with Forgotten Woods, one of my all-time favourites from the Norwegian scene. I’m also glad that I included a good bunch of Joyless questions to this chat.

Forgotten Woods’ “comeback album” Race of Cain was just about to be released, but unfortunately this album was quite a letdown to me – and it was the first crack in the band’s shining armour. I think I understand the band’s intentions to create an album which is obscure, disturbing and a clear breakaway from the earlier, more flowing material, but the songs of Race of Cain weren’t just good enough. Like Kaleidoscope #3, Race of Cain is too fragmented.

Luckily Joyless has kept its magic. The last year’s Without Support was an enjoyably hazy trip to the worlds of both psychedelic rock and blue-shaded post-punk. And of course Forgotten Woods’ brilliant “trilogy” – As the Wolves Gather, Sjel av Natten EP and The Curse of Mankind – is still special for me. The band’s clever flow of riffs and drums puts many of these “post-BM” to shame.

But now enough babbling from me. Read on what Rune Vedaa had to say back then.

 

It’s too easy to make stereotypes, especially inside the music circles. We create them, we feed them, we eat them. For example, if I say the words “Norwegian Black Metal”, I guess you are already constructing some sort of (black and white, perhaps?) picture about screeching guitars, cold atmosphere and so on. But is it so clear in any case? Well, at least Forgotten Woods were not your typical Norsecore band; they crush against the narrow sights of Black Metal still not being untrue to themselves. I guess you all are familiar with this band, so let’s give the stage to Rune Vedaa, the lead guitarist and bassist of this great band.

 So, the most suitable question to start with is: why did you come back, after ten years of – more or less – silence?

   – It helps being back in the same country for the first time in years, obviously… Other than that we’ve all been creating music since we last released something as Forgotten Woods. Olav and Odd Ivar (Nylon) did release a split-ep with Woods Of Infinity a while back under the Joyless name and at least have some material unreleased and unrecorded. I’ve been nursing my main ‘other’ project, as well as my metal project, for a few years on and off, but I’ve been very busy with non-musical activities as I’m sure the other guys have. Other than that we’ve just been overlooking what’s going on with prior Forgotten Woods releases and the boxset No Colours put out.

   – And the reason for regrouping? Art is beyond reason. It’s all about a need to create, with or without Forgotten Woods.

 I guess that your return will be good news for many. However, you differ from a typical (Norse) Black Metal band in many ways. How have people reacted to your style changes during these years? No death threats I hope?

   – Any threats we’ve received was mainly because of outspokenness on our part and not musical changes. The musical changes of the past weren’t too much of a leap from As the Wolves Gather to The Curse of Mankind anyway. However, I don’t think Joyless found a great audience within the Black Metal scene, but as we never paid much attention to anything concerning reviews, feedback or record sales we remained happily clueless about these matters. And completely apathetic.

Despite your outcast lifestyle of some sort – both musically and otherwise – you are considered a part of the Norse BM movement. How do you see this movement from the inside point of view? Is this whole thing just one big useless hype or do you see Norse BM (and yourselves) as a big influence for the whole BM genre?

   – I don’t know what’s going on out there… Norwegian Black Metal in the early-mid 90’s were superior to anything else. I’m sure it has levelled out as it tends to do, but it’s usually a plus to NOT get influenced directly but rather try to carve your own blah, blah, blah… I look more for a certain feel, soul if you will, in music rather than grabbing the nearest Darkthrone-album to copy. I’ve never seen the point with cover bands anyway.

How about when you take a look at your own career and your past releases, what kind of memories do fill your mind? For example your debut As the Wolves Gather, was it a fulfilment of your dreams or just one natural epoch in your musical career?

   – It was a time of strangeness, isolation, coldness and apathy towards basically everything but oneself. The As the Wolves Gather album in itself didn’t mean much to me. The process as far as rehearsals went, was by far a more fulfilling experience. Same with Sjel Av Natten and The Curse of Mankind. The experience was bigger than the result you might say, for me at least. Now we don’t rehearse at all as we live too far apart for it to be worthwhile and we probably don’t need to anyhow.

By the way, which album and song are your favourites from your own discography, and why? And is there anything you regret having done?

   – I regret not recording a new Forgotten Woods album in 1998/99, when we actually had talks about just that. Just never got around to do it somehow… about the songs; In My Darkest Visions from As the Wolves Gather, En Natt med Storm og Ravners Skrik from Sjel av Natten and The Velvet Room from The Curse of Mankind would be my favourite songs. The Curse of Mankind is probably my favourite album all in all. I think we did everything better on that album. It’s about 10 minutes too long however.

And since we’re talking about regret and shame, we can’t omit today’s Black Metal scene, heh… Maybe you came back just to save what there is to save of the glory of the past? Seriously, though, what do you think about today’s scene? It’s definitely different than ten years ago when The Curse of Mankind came out: NS movement, suicidal BM (very close to you sometimes), flame wars on the Internet, bootlegs etc.

   – Flame wars on the internet? My goodness… it’s so harsh out there. Just crazy! Blah… Anyhow, I don’t have the desire to concern myself with any scene or any movement. I condone and support only the individual. Not the lemming. Today’s scene is about as anonymous to me as it was 10 years ago… I like Lurker Of Chalice, who put out the best album I’ve heard since the Thorns album. I check out the usual Norwegian/Swedish (and such) bands whenever they put out a new album (usually a disappointment) and I read Terrorizer sometimes. That’s how closely I follow the scene these days.

As said before, you are making some sort of “comeback” (I hate that word…) with Race of Cain. Could you describe the new material with a few words?

   – Race of Cain will be harsher than anything we’ve done in the past I hope. This is probably because I wrote all the new material for that specific release and I was always leaning more towards the harsher type of metal really. And music in general for that matter. That said however, this is not something I’d like to continue and the material I’m currently writing for our next full-lengths should be heavier and slower, with more toned down passages with possibilities to do whatever we want. Also Race of Cain has unusually short songs for Forgotten Woods I feel, while it should be back to 10+ minutes on the full-length on most songs. I absolutely expect it to be horribly bleak and dark. I have a title for it and a sort of concept, but those matters I’ll just keep to myself as of now. Also what label it’ll be out on is kind of in the dark. We have several offers, but what’s all picket-fenced and shiny is usually fairly rotten when it comes down to it. I have no expectations as far as labels go, but so far Total Holocaust has been 100% supportive and I would love to stay there as they’ve been honest and positive throughout the whole process despite our usual slowness, but I have a feeling we might be a bit too much for them in some ways… However, I certainly hope to work together with THR in the future as well, Forgotten Woods related or not. (The album came out through ATMF and 20 Buck Spin after all. -ed.)

How has your attitude towards music and towards making music changed during these years? Do you still get your inspiration from the same sources, or do you work with different methods and views this time around?

   – Well, this time around I will write most of the material. That’s a major change for us in some ways, but probably won’t be as noticeable for you guys. As far as music goes I like my music to have a certain flowing feel to it, and in that sense I think there might be a difference… There won’t be a riff breaking the balance to put it that way. I do try to keep it Forgotten Woods though as far as atmosphere and general style goes. Lyrically it’ll be forestless, moonless and vikingless. Mind is everything.

 Well, although this is Forgotten Woods interview, I have to ask a few questions about Joyless. I guess the split-up of Forgotten Woods and the birth of Joyless was quite a shock for some people who really liked Forgotten Woods. What were the main motives for these ends and beginnings?

   – Just to get a change from the static world that was Forgotten Woods. We started getting bored and that’s not a good sign.

As a big fan of depressive rock and post punk I really enjoy Joyless’ music. What kind of musical and lyrical basis did you have when you started Joyless? Did it sort of evolve from Black Metal or did you take an entirely different approach?

   – I used to say Joyless was a Black Metal band trying to make pop-music. Not entirely true obviously, but not too far off the map either. We were sick to death with everything concerning Forgotten Woods. Instead of changing Forgotten Woods, we gave it all a new name. I think the best music we ever did is our very early Joyless recordings. I am talking about songs like Room of Velvet Splendour, Blå Melankoli and Your Crystal Fragments. Later on we got to be too much straightforward rock’n’roll for my taste and too little of the dark cleverness fore-mentioned songs possessed.

   – The musical basis in the beginning I really can’t remember that well, but it quickly turned into something very Velvet Underground-esque at times. I love The Velvet Underground, but I prefer listening to them rather than playing music similar to theirs. Lyrically it certainly was different than Forgotten Woods. Absolutely more introspective, and deliberately so. I have many bad memories about writing and rehearsing, how it made me feel/not feel, how I could sense a change in everything, and a massive and general dissatisfaction. I don’t know where I’m going with this. It’s just what it is. Or rather what it was.

Personally I find many connection points between post punk like Joy Division and Black Metal; that same monotonic repetition, empty soundscapes and very desperate and cold attitude towards life. What do you think about it? Can we find that true source of darkness from every musical genre if the music has only been made with a pure heart?

   – I agree on the first part and on the second you are exactly right! That’s the key. Honesty. Joy Division was terrifically cold sounding. And the old The Cure albums were much the same in coldness and greatness. I adore Joy Division.

One of the most interesting works of Joyless was definitely the split EP with Woods Of Infinity. What kind of relationship do you have with them, and what do you think about WOI’s music? How about their black humour, does it get to you?

   – My knowledge of WOI is almost nonexistent. I know what Olav told me and their “humour” might be somewhat retarded and/or warped, but it’s either way not my cup of tea. Unfortunately I don’t know their music well at all. I’ve heard good things though. 

How are you going to weave your way between Joyless and Forgotten Woods in the future? Could it be that these two quite different, but still, in a sense, quite similar bands would feed each other musically?

   – I expect and think it’s for the better that Joyless mainly will be Olav’s beast, while my main musical interest is served best with Forgotten Woods. This because it has turned into two very different bands and I have a vision for how Forgotten Woods SHOULD sound as Olav has for Joyless I’m sure. Another reason would be that our musical taste has gone in quite opposite directions over the years and metal appears to be closer to my heart still, while rock, depressive as Joyless’ brand of it might be, is more Olav’s thing.

But now, back to Forgotten Woods. As your cover arts, lyrics and the general atmosphere of music display, it’s very easy to draw parallels between Forgotten Woods and aspects of nature. How big a source of inspiration is the nature (and the woods) around you? Do you head to the fjords to find ideas and feelings for your songs, or is the truth a bit less romantic?

   – These days, nature is nonexistent when it comes to being an inspiration or a motivation for anything at all. That might’ve been the case on the first album, but it’s no secret that we shied away from those matters already on Sjel av Natten and completely on The Curse of Mankind. I enjoy nature to an extent, but mostly when I can enjoy the scenery itself, by myself, usually when it includes fog somehow. I don’t wander around the woods at night anymore, nor do I go skiing in the winter. I have to be in a certain state of mind to fully appreciate nature in all its glory, but when it comes down to it, I am an art beast, not a fucking athlete… I stay indoors until almost forced to go outside.

Many talk about the mystic atmosphere of nature: how they get some power from Mother Earth and how the forest is their real home and protector. Do you think the same way, or do you have a different view on nature?

   – I practically live in the forest actually. However, my home is with my people and I am the protector. I have no romantic view on these nature-matters. Like I said I can enjoy nature for the scenery, but I feel no spiritual connection with trees or moss for instance.

One central aspect of your band has been wolves if we take a look at the cover art and titles of your first releases. What do wolves represent to you? That grim and lonesome creature has been quite an important symbol for Black Metal for a long time…

   – Wolves always served as a metaphor for Forgotten Woods. I love the title and the album cover of our first album. The Sjel av Natten cover is so-so to put it mildly, but works in its own simplistic way (the original tape version, not the No Colours Records-mLP, which is. simply put, crap). Other than that, wolves has had little impact on our lyrics for instance. Always a metaphor for the loner in a way, but again, also mostly (if not only) on our first album. The individual if you will. Swans have been more a part of our lyrics actually. I was quite obsessed with them for a while.

How about Norse mythology, how big an influence has that been to you?

   – Minimal.

And generally: are you more down to earth type of persons or do you find the spiritual side in your everyday life? Have you, for example, gone through any supernatural experiences?

   – Down-to-earth? I’d take being called down-to-earth as quite the insult. Whatever experiences that might’ve occurred I’ll share with whomever I feel needs to know. As always.

One thing is for sure: the name ‘Satan’ doesn’t appear on Forgotten Woods’ lyrics and cover sheets. Let’s raise the question: what do you think about Satan and Satanism? Usually people say that there can’t be Black Metal without Satan but what’s your opinion about that?

   – There wouldn’t be Black Metal without Venom and Bathory. Satan is a whore for most Black Metal bands to fuck senseless, until they get actual girlfriends to fuck and/or have some kids to go on to being the normal well-adjusted citizens they were meant to be. As far as I’m concerned, Satan as a symbol equals freedom and individuality. This should not be taken lightly in any way. However, the use of spewing out ‘Satan’ in multiple fashions in every song is pointless to us. The need to dig deeper is a must, but only for our own artistic benefit. Not your listening experience. If it works for others that is fine, but it’s not for us. Satan is present, but as the adversary, not the antichrist per. se. As a metaphor for the ego, if you will, not as a goat, sheep or any other herd animal. A lemming state of mind is a wasted state of mind. I have a feeling ‘Satan’ as a word will not be very prominent on future Forgotten Woods releases either. Never know though.

Well, Satan has many forms and ways, and your search and scrutiny for the dark side of man can be considered as searching Satan in man. Word or two about this?

   – My concern for others than myself and my inner circle of family is hardly worth mentioning or give a second thought. I have tried to journey the dark, and the light (as I assume I have one…sort of), side of my mind to great lengths I feel, but now the wish to influence others to search their dark side is more appealing to me. Also, see previous question.

Anyway, the new CD is titled Race of Cain, a strong reference to the Bible and also to mysticism. Do you present some new lyrical statements in these new songs?

   – ‘Race of Cain’ is in this case actually taken directly from Baudelaire, which is in itself a strong reference to the Bible. I always did love the poem Abel and Cain and what it represented in terms of herd-mentality. To me at least. Therefore, the race of Cain to me would be the individuals. As the members of Forgotten Woods very much are. We are together as a band for a reason and that reason is exactly what it was from the get-go; to inflict and hopefully cause massive disturbance in the minds of weaker beings and possibly bring some pleasure to the minds of our egotistical same. This is more calculated these days than in the past. There is a reason for everything.

Let’s stick to the lyrics. I can find many different elements in them: there are softer moments and phrases, but the harsh and very cold atmosphere is also present. Would you say that you like to paint with the entire palette of life or what?

   – Sure. I’d like to think I write about praising life AND praising death. My life, the death of others. Then again, it comes down to the reader/listener… depending of your stance, how does it sound? Hopefully this is the case, that people read and make their own interpretation of any given lyric. This mostly goes for The Curse of Mankind and any Joyless-song I’ve written the lyrics for. What others write I’d leave up to them to explain. To put it nicely, I like contrasts. And I like to use that. However, most metalheads are more into beer and backpatches than lyrics, which is fine and understandable seeing it from a point of view where music is what counts and lyrics are at best rushed through.

A same kind of variety can be found in your music as well. Inherent Emptiness by Joyless and With Swans I Share my Thirst by Forgotten Woods, for example, are songs that differ from each other quite a bit. Where does this multidimensionality come from; is it just the desire to experiment with music or the result of listening your inner voices?

   – I mostly think it’s a result of having a genuine interest in music of all genres and an appreciation of music of all genres. With Swans… is basically our small tribute to The Velvet Underground, which is what we collectively listened to the most around that time alongside David Bowie and The Doors probably. Especially The Doors is prominent on the rest of The Curse of Mankind in Olav’s drumming. If you know your The Doors you’ll easily hear it. Inherent Emptiness was known as ‘the thrash song’ at rehearsals, which is what it is… a ton of riffs, mostly thrashy. What it comes down to for us is exploring different sides of dark music and to make it all come together in the end. We can do whatever we want though AND get away with it. It’ll sound like Forgotten Woods anyway it seems. Joyless will be whatever it turns out to be.

Besides this, I truly enjoy the repetition and the monotonic feeling that you have in your songs. Sometimes your music comes close to some sort of trance or hypnotic feeling. Do you get a same kind of feeling when you play/compose your songs?

   – The feeling I get from composing material to the next full-length is in all fashions the same as the feeling of old… The cold and dark monotonous atmosphere is very much there. Intentional obviously, but still feeling renewed and in tune with how my musical taste is pr. today.

 Anyway, I guess you get something from composing and playing music because you’re back in this harsh business. How do you see the present state of Forgotten Woods, and more importantly, how do you see the future?

   – We’ll see. It doesn’t all revolve around Forgotten Woods. Art is all. The moment it feels stifled or like we’re on autopilot I’ll have no problem breaking all ties. I’m hoping for several more albums though. Better than ever.

Okay, that’s it! Any last words?

   – Thanks for including us and welcome to the beginning of everything unpredictable.