Monthly Archives: August 2012

CHAOS, ENTROPY AND THE LOVE OF DEATH: THE DEVIL’S BLOOD

Even the ancient Hebrews were aware of the seven year cycle: six years work, one year holiday. Nowadays we also believe that every seventh year it’s time to re-evaluate our situation – be it work, relationships or something else – and make a decision to stay or change. Kaleidoscope had its own seven issue cycle: after six quite similar metal-related issues I wanted to focus on non-metal bands. However, I understood that the full-length format would be too difficult to accomplish so I made some changes with the layout also: four separate A3 papers, one band on every paper.

This “appendix” issue consisted of the interviews with a Finnish folk/lo-fi/electro collective Paavoharju, an apocalyptic neofolk troubadour Kiss The Anus Of A Black Cat, a Voivod-influenced rock band Virus and The Devil’s Blood, which was just a promising young band back then. This Dutch group had just released their Come, Reap EP (2008), and the horrible wave of retro occult rock bands was miles away. After this, The Devil’s Blood had proved to be something else than a shallow tribute to the 70ies rock or a hollow play with devilish symbols: both of their full-lengths (The Time Of No Time Evermore 2009 and The Thousandfold Epicentre 2011) and their stage presence haven’t let me down, at least. Read on what the band’s maestro Selim Lemouchi had to say four years ago.

(originally released in Kaleidoscope zine #7, 2009)

Occultists extraordinaire, The Devil’s Blood, show that the darkest dark doesn’t lurk only in misery and agony. The strength lies in joyous power, in overwhelming dualism which takes the sun and the moon, life and death, this whole universe into its hands. And so does this Dutch band, whose name, cover art, lyrics, well, everything oozes the spirit of occultism, hazy Satanic masses, rituals and ethereal woods.

 But I have to be also a bit skeptical. The guitarist and the grand wizard SL, how much of this is pure and serious dedication and not just extra gimmicks or a thing that goes along with this kind of music?

– I think your question is valid and important. There are millions of bands out there who just use the symbols and words because they fit their music and nothing more.

– It goes without saying that we adhere to our Luciferian principles quite seriously indeed. We are a Cult that is comprised of six very individual people indeed; we all have our personal views on what it means to be a Luciferian. For me personally, as it is my personal vision this band emanates, I am a follower and practitioner of Luciferian Satanism. It would take up too much space and be completely without purpose to explain what this means to me since I believe that all is subjective and illusory.

– The Devil’s Blood has from the beginning been a way for me to let the inspiration that flows from my beliefs and views to take a real form in this dimension. Our music is a form of Magick that should allow the listener to further his understanding of Sitra Ahra, the Dark Side if you will, or for a newcomer to find a pathway into the ante chambers of mystery.

And connected to this, what is your relationship with magick? Do you follow any particular path or real rituals or are you more like students in this wide field of mysticism?

– I have only fairly recently begun my descent into the world of Magick. I have been a practitioner of ritual for a long time; don’t forget that there are leagues between Ritual and Magick. I believe that my most powerful Magickal work is done within the confines of The Devil’s Blood, our live Rituals can at times transcend from Ritual into the realm of Magick. I would consider myself a student of no particular school as I think that each dogma on which these school are based by definition are too constrictive and too narrow to be a free agent of chaos. I do however read works from a great variety of sources and I try to add their thoughts to my own.

Rock music and occultism have walked hand in hand almost from the beginning: Black Sabbath, Roky Erickson and Black Widow started this long journey and nowadays you can find very dedicated people among Black Metal bands for example. But do you have any idea why it’s just rock and metal? It’s quite hard to find a pop band with LaVeyan ideologies…

– For starters I think it’s a misconception that only Rock music has these occult or mystic inspirations. There are quite a lot of totally different musicians who have focused upon this in the past and present. For instance: Coil, Erik Satie, The Secret Chiefs, Richard Strauss and Gyorgy Lygeti to name but a few. I think if anything it is true that in rock music the use of occult themes is LEAST serious by and large. There an infinite number of groups just using this imagery to shock the listener and to sell albums. There are in my opinion very few bands where this is a serious thing.

But is rock music the right channel to bring forth things of this kind? Usually spirituality is a very personal and intimate part of oneself, but maybe we can say that you can practice occultism in two different ways…

– I could not say, I have faith that we are a true vessel of our various faiths and views. That is all that is important. For us this music suits best our reverential need to promote Chaos, Entropy and the Love of Death.

(live at Hammer Open Air 2010; pic by Editor)

In a live situation we are getting closer to this ritual-like feeling. For example you have your gowns, blood etc., and if we consider rock music in general, performing live has similarities with the ecstasy of ancient Bacchants who got themselves to a trance through drama, alcohol and music. How do you get yourself into this mental state on stage and what kind of feelings do you live through during a gig?

– I think your analogy is quite striking and to certain extent correct. We indeed try to create an atmosphere of hedonistic frenzy, in ourselves as well as the viewer, we ourselves retreat to an almost meditative state and let the music and words create a flow of energy that can be felt in a very real sense. We often start with all the various emotions a human can experience; magnamity, generousity, callousness, hatred, love, megalomania etc etc. but after a while all these human feelings leave us and we become a vehicle for the Fire of the Left Hand Path.

– We often see people who are themselves transported into the realm of Truth and who can be seen to achieve some form of gnosis. Their eyes alight with a certain understanding and a fire that will never truly diminish. It is those people that truly appreciate The Devil’s Blood the most and it is for these that we take the time and trouble to do what we do.

You talked about people who leave your gigs with glowing eyes and a deep understanding in their heart. However, this description brings the use of drugs to my mind, and if we think about the past (and present?) of occult/psych rock, the good ol’ hallucinogens have been always in the picture – and also in this case we can find an analogue to myths and occultism, because in many cultures magicians and witch doctors have used stimulants to receive messages from other dimensions or to travel through these places. However, today the drug users are seen as weak lowlifes, who have slavered themselves physically and mentally. What is your outlook on this topic? Can drugs work as a fruitful source of inspiration or do they just blur you real vision?

– As with most thing drugs are extremely dualistic, there is a time in every mystic’s life when mind and consciousness altering substances can work wonders, quite literally in fact. But there comes a point when the demons we allow access to our minds and bodies begin to rule over us. Addiction being only one of these demons obviously but also the increasing desire to stay in this state of flux for longer periods of time and with the same momentum begins to eat away at your body and your soul. So who once starts as a mystic can easily end up as slave to his own habits. It then becomes important to leave that life style, at least for a while, and to concentrate on a more sober journey. One will find also that the mind is more accessible knowledge and true gnosis in a sober state. I do encourage everyone to come to our Rituals and use whatever substance they see fit in order to reach that special meditative state. It’s something everyone should at least have tried and experienced to the fullest.

Although your music is 100% pure rock, it’s easy to find more ritualistic elements under the surface – usually your songs are built on hypnotic and sometimes monotonic tempo and rhythm, and this is covered with guitar solos, psychedelic melodies and of course the fierce singing of F. The Mouth of Satan. Could you say something about your song writing process, is there any occult lurking in the corners?

– I usually write the songs alone on an acoustic guitar, I find a melody and a few words to go along with them. They write themselves, we just facilitate their birth as midwives in a hospital. There is always an influence present and sometimes I can feel my hands being moved, I have very little influence on the eventual outcome.

In the beginning you described The Devil’s Blood as a cult of six different persons but now this intimate and unconscious side of the writing process comes to the picture. How do you match these two elements together? Is it hard to find a common ground to all, and what that would be? Or are you more like a high priest who gives doctrines and others practice them?

– Musically speaking I am the dictator who decides what goes and what not, spiritually speaking we are six individual who are all at various points in our development what is true for me is not necessarily true for the others. My personal beliefs are what come forth in the music and the words and it is, in my opinion, not needed for everyone to share the exact same metaphysical views as me.

I guess people are always talking about how authentic your music and production is, like everything is taken from the heart of the occult rock of the 70’s. How important is this aspect to you? Is it possible to imagine The Devil’s Blood with a modern and clear production?

– Well to be quite honest this doesn’t interest me at all. When we start recording the songs we just see what suits them best and that is what we do. I don’t see us as band that needs a gritty production in order to sound believable. I just want to do the best I can for the songs.

Come, Reap is your latest release and besides the dusty production, other quite similar 70’s trademarks are the rich use of synths and of course one epic track, Voodoo Dust, which is a real monument with longer than life guitar solos and everything. Could you tell us something about this song, is there a profound story behind it and its massiveness, or is that just a thing that happened by accident?

– The basic song structure of Voodoo Dust was written in about 15 minutes, with nothing but a guitar and a simple vocal line. We then played it over and over and over and over until we ourselves were no longer playing it, we just felt what was right and went with the flow of the song. Even the solos are completely improvised and they never sound the same twice. It is my personal favourite and I think the most powerful songs, magickaly speaking, of our set.

If we take a look on your influences, we can’t pass Roky Erickson. You made a decent and refreshing cover version of White Faces on your latest MCD and it’s easy to find hazy Roky vibes from your own songs also. So, a little praise for good ol’ Roky: what does make him so spectacular, what kind of experiences or memories do you have connected to Roky and have you seen this You’re Gonna Miss Me document?

– Roky Erickson is, musically speaking, our Alpha and our Omega. We adore his style and quirky song writing, extremely simple yet totally fused with his personal emotion his raving voice, his brilliant lyrical work and his total grasp of the melodic nature of the soul. I listen to his work every day and it never bores me at all. I watched the Biopic a few times and I am even more in awe of him then I ever was.

Roky Erickson is also one of the most famous and legendary rock characters and has tons of stories and rumours going on about him even now. He’s a real person but you perform behind aliases incognito. Can we say that one of these options is the right one for occult rock music: a group of nameless priests and priestesses or a group of characteristic individuals?

– Both. We just simply believe that our personal lives are not interesting. We lead very diverse unorthodox lives, ranges from getting drunk at metal shows to getting fucked up on drugs at techno parties to whatever else we fucking feel like, and are completely uninterested to be celebrities or scene stars, we just want to share our words and music with as many people possible.

Despite all these mysteries behind The Devil’s Blood I’d like to take a peak to your musical history. I guess that getting a dark occult rock band together wasn’t your first thought when you got your first guitar. What kind of a road of notes, bands and influences have you walked to get here?

– A lot of water passed under a great many bridges… Nothing worth reminiscing over I’m afraid.

I get a feeling that this magickal feeling and power is very strong in you and it must channel somehow out of you. But if you wouldn’t have The Devil’s Blood (when have you started the band, by the way?), what would be that channel? Music, art, maybe something else?

– I honestly don’t know, I have been making music for such a long time and only know have I found a way to release some of the spiritual force through the music. I can’t see myself doing anything else than this at this moment. And making art without the metaphysics would feel like a lie to me now. I am glad to have finally found this truth in myself and I will not let it be overshadowed by reason again. I used to be an extremely reason driven person that refused the idea of anything spiritual. It has taken a long time for me to shed those chains and I still fight them from time to time. It is, for the most part, The Devil’s Blood that has done this for me. I have given myself to this madness for better or for worse.

When you create such a personal and meaningful than this music, are you anyway concerned how the audience and receivers take and understand your creations? Or is releasing albums and listeners’ opinions just a secondary issue in this creation process? And I don’t mean now that you should bother yourself about the question “do they like my music or not” but more “do they get it in a right way” – or is there any right way in the end?

– Good point there at the end! There is never a right or wrong way, there is only what your mind allows there to be. If people only “see” the music and not the messages within that is their loss and not mine. It’s not something I worry about at all. I make this music out of sheer selfish reasons. People can take from it what they want. Do what thou wilt…

How about your singer F., how did you find her? I guess it isn’t an easy task to find a woman who has a strong voice, is interested in occultism and 70’s rock music and is, well, the mouth of Satan, but was that your goal in the first place?

– She is my sister.

Hmm, although I guess you don’t want to get too personal, I would want to ask about this sibling relation between you and F. Is there any spiritual bond between you two like siblings sometimes have?

– Yes of course there is a very strong one, she is in many respects the Yin to my Yang, sometimes I am the black and she the White and sometimes it is reversed. We have come such a long way together and know each other as only spiritually linked beings can… Lost without each other and constantly fighting. This is what makes our Union so beautiful.

Doom metal and rock has spewed many female-fronted bands lately like Jex Thoth, Blood Ceremony and you. Although the metal scene has its own female characters from Doro Pesch to Jo Bench, usually the scene is very masculine and even chauvinistic. How do you see this phenomenon as a guitarist and founder of a female-fronted band?

– Mmm, that IS an interesting question. As I am not a woman, I could never feel what it’s like to be an “odd one out” in a scene or whatever. But I must say that since F. is a very strong and independent person who has been fighting battles, and winning them, all her life she is perfectly able to demand respect from anyone. We have so far been treated with respect and I would not suggest doing otherwise to anyone hahaha.

Is there a hint of feminism going on in The Devil’s Blood? Your band, as well as the other two I mentioned, reminds me of the ancient times in Greece where women were not allowed to perform in theatres and therefore they had their own plays and rituals like true renegades, and this was the beginning of witch rituals. I think this comes quite close to feminist theories…

– Hahaha, well I am certainly not a feminist. Although I see your point I must stress that the fact that F is a woman is in fact immaterial. It is her VOICE that matters not her gender.

And if we connect this statement to her name, “Mouth of Satan” – well, it comes to that you are really channels for Satan to deliver His gospel, right?

– I firmly believe that our songs are inspired by the powers of Adversity and the Left Hand Spirits. He is somewhere behind me, a shade over my shoulder and I do His bidding without daring to look. In terror and adoration but also in defiant exaltation I try to please or rouse this powerful presence through our music and words.

The word “empowerment” belongs closely to feminism: it means about how you can inspire people through music, literature, and teach to others that they are indeed capable of finding their true inner selves. Do you think that The Devil’s Blood can empower their listeners in some way? We talked about feelings that you live while playing or performing your music, but what feelings do you want your listeners to feel, what acts they should do, what worlds they should see?

– We want them to go through realization into perfection. From the bloated carcass of rotting flesh that they live in to a higher more spiritual form of being so that they can fully appreciate the wonders of individuality and it’s horrors and wonders until they are so free in their minds that the distinction between the two ceases to exist.

THE CHOSEN THREE: JULY 2012

The season sets the mood and the music – this seems to be more and more accurate in my case. Although it has been rainy as ever here in Finland, the occasional festivals and other happenings have injected rock and roll into my veins. So the trio for July is about booze, sweat and pumping energy, more or less.

SATAN’S SATYRS: Wild Beyond Belief! (Trash King 2012)

This has been an interesting ride: a promising demo, then a kick-ass EP and now a full attack into your ears. Mastermind Claythanas knows how to rock and rot, and his unholy garage trinity of Electric Wizard, Venom and Black Flag is oozing dangerous charm. The groove is there, and although SS isn’t getting trophies for the tightest playing here, this motor of mayhem is rolling just fine. And those hazy organs humming in Bellydancer’s Delight and Satan’s Satyrs – insanely genious! Wild Beyond Belief! is like a random alcoholic maniac making noise in your basement (also sound-wise!) in the middle of night. But in this case you don’t call the police but open a bottle of whisky and start banging your head.

This is how Claythanas described the common factor between different influences in Satan’s Satyrs back in beginning of 2011 (taken from my interview for Imperiumi.net):

– I think that “common factor” that I like to find in music is that fucking primal power. Music that gets you into a mood, into a groove. Just listen to Damaged and then Dopethrone. Both extremely nasty records, both fucking crushing. But both come at it from different angles. And those similarities and differences are very exciting and inspirational.

http://www.myspace.com/satanssatyrs

GEWAPEND BETON: Big Dumb Kids (Dirty Faces 2011)

Nothing can beat a good aggressive live gig. This was the case when I witnessed Dutch Gewapend Beton at Puntalarock Festival in the end of July. Full-pressure violence in the form of fast punk rock, these young dudes really took it to the limit and beyond. But being just faceless mass of noise, the songs had their own catchy vibe and the guitar work by Oeds Beydals (also in The Devil’s Blood, by the way) shredded things to pieces. Zeke meets Motörhead meets Turbonegro? It’s easy to be a victim of namedropping in GB’s case, but that’s how it goes when you play punk rock – although I could replace all those bands by saying that this band is simply good. Of course they can’t reach that same energy level on the album but that doesn’t make Big Dumb Kids a bad release. So hunt down the full-length but more important, see this band live if you have a chance!

http://www.gewapendbeton.nl/

TESTAMENT: Dark Roots of Earth (Nuclear Blast 2012)

From thrash metal’s Big Four I only adore Anthrax and Slayer. I never got over Dave Mustaine’s voice and character, and when I was a teenager, somehow I forced myself to choose between Metallica and Iron Maiden – and it was up the Irons. But there was one band which made its way to my personal thrash metal elite, and it was Testament. Low (1994) was the first actual CD I bought and I still love that fierce slab of modern thrash metal. Of course this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t drool over their earlier releases: the first three albums are perfect combinations of melody and aggression, and the music video of Electric Crown (from The Ritual, 1992) has been tattooed on my mind. Demonic (1997) was a bit letdown, but The Gathering (1999) brought back that good ol’ Testament – and you can’t forget the tight re-works on First Strike Still Deadly (2001) too! So many good memories…

Now Eric, Chuck and the rest of these nice fellows are back again, and Dark Roots of Earth has everything I could wish for: brutal thrashings in the vein of The Gathering, groovy and melodic songs, some darker shades, old school speed, and even a thrash ballad (Cold Embrace) which reminds me of Low’s über sentimental Trail of Tears. This band knows how to age with style and even picks some new elements on the way. Of course you wake up here and there “Have I heard this before?” in your mind, but Testament has enough experience, guts and great riffs (and two great guitar players, Eric Peterson and Alex Skolnick) to plug the mouths of naysayers. Thrash the Dead, Mosh the Head!

http://www.testamentlegions.com/site/