FIGHTING WITH METAL DEMONS: CAULDRON BLACK RAM

This blog thing has become a cradle of chaos. News about my new zines, The Chosen Three lists, what else… Where have all the real interviews disappeared? Well, let’s wrap one aeon up at least: the last interview from Serpentscope #1. I chose Cauldron Black Ram because this band totally deserves it. They have only a few releases but everyone has proved to be top-class, a nasty beast called The Poisoner Maxi-EP being their latest output. This interview was made before their second album, Slubberdegullion (2010), so it isn’t the most up-to-date chat, but who cares. Cauldron Black Ram is one of those bands which can be labeled as ‘ageless’.

cbr_logo(originally published in Serpentscope #1 2009)

Eventhe twisted have their own twisted ones. Now that Deströyer 666 is – well-earnedly – on the lips of every true metal fan, Australia still possesses some hidden jewels that expand the identifiable Aussie black/thrash/metal sound even further. As you can guess, Cauldron Black Ram is one of those gems with their brutal yet somewhat atmospheric death metal. However, these goat worshippers have gained their status by one steady album, Skulduggery, which came out in 2004. After that there’s only been one thing – silence. And before that – more silence, because this band has its roots deep in the soil of the year 1996. Let’s give guitar strangler and vocal assaulter Alim a chance to tell us more about the origins of Cauldron Black Ram:

– I formed Cauldron Black Ram with Arathorn of (the Australian) Nocturnal in 1996. Raw, ancient, heavy, ugly… Enough talk about your girlfriend anyway. When Cauldron Black Ram was begun, the guitar was tuned higher, but then later it was muddied with other members’ filthy footprints. Nothing has been compromised in what we have molded so far. What do you think?

Well, the uncompromised attitude is maybe one of the key elements for this deadly trio. The main elements in their music are plain and traditional but still this hellish noise has a rather unique character. You almost get the feeling that these guys must be either geniuses or just brutally simple to get this to work. So, despite your attitude, what is your secret?

– We love so much metal music, those influences fight like demons in order to be heard in our song, it comes out distorted and twisted. There’s also a conscious attempt to forge on, not just reiterate that which has been done – usually better – in the past.

cbr_band

While you listen to Skulduggery, you are dragged to very dark places, like to a stone age of metal music, where playing is harsh and simple but still it crushes your ears and brains. But being brutal doesn’t always mean that your music skills are low, and so in Cauldron Black Ram’s case you can hear that the recording studio was filled with skilled musicians when this album was burned to a tape. However, Alim doesn’t see that being a good or a bad musician is a straight way to a success/failure:

– It’s all about feel; the soul that artists imbue their work. Virtuoso musicians write great music, so do those relatively shit musicians. I’m sure we’ve all heard bad musicians write poor, soulless crap, and highly trained musicians write an aural fag parade. Many ‘educated’ musicians spend so much time becoming ‘educated’, they never learn how to write songs. Many ‘shit’ musicians don’t have the skill to play what they hear in their heads.

– And for us? Well, maybe we aim to balance both, heh.

Like many Australian metal musicians, the members of Cauldron Black Ram also have some connections to other – quite different – bands like Portal and Mournful Congregation. How do you find the balance between these other bands and genres on artistic and practical levels?

– Careful time management is the key. The music differs vastly on most counts so there is little bleed between them. None of us are in Portal though. In fact no-one is in Portal.

HIT-MEN OF DEATH

If I already drew a historical comparison to cavemen, Cauldron Black Ram also has another historical connection, namely that with pirates. Yeah. Pirates. Take a look at the cover art of Skulduggery, read some of their lyrics or listen to the hazy, rum-filled tones of their music, there is more than one parrot buried in the band’s themes. However Alim doesn’t fully understand these alignments and tells that the lyrical world of Cauldron Black Ram is much wider.

– It was strange we were dubbed pirate metal, when the only song that could be ascribed that title is the drum/vocal solo Black Douglass. There’s no pride in it. We’re already moving into different territory. The third album is the second part of the concept album, and it goes underground.

– The depravity and barbarism of older times are a focus of our lyrical efforts, and it is inherent in the music too. It was a natural course to steer into the concepts of Freemasonry, Piracy, Zealotry and Black Magic. The debut Skulduggery, well, the art is the art. The word ‘skulduggery’ encapsulated the feel of the album, and the art suited the title.

cbr_skul

As you can imagine, there will be no fiddly-diddly pirate drinking song melodies lurking in the new songs. Rather, it’s going to be more focused and darker themes, like Alim himself puts it when talking about the band’s coming material.

– The darkness of those pirate days will be made clearer on our next album. Hollywood has tarnished the legends of piracy. Many pirates were hit-men. Paid to wipe out and rob ancient civilizations of wealth and wisdom that would threaten the burgeoning church-states. Do you see modern day pirates singing, swashbuckling, drinking rum & ale until they vomit down their own pants? No, they are callous survivors.

– On the next album we have used a group of pirates to pivot a story that begins with slaughter and ends in demoncy.

The pirate theme and also some of your lyrics have many historical shades, so are you interested in real happenings and characters or is this more just a fictional work of art?

– The violence and bigotry of yesteryear are always fascinating. But best leave that to the masters… Arghoslent! For research and inspiration this history becomes valuable, but then I don’t hold the truth of recorded history in high regard.

Besides some history-oriented dark legends, the lyrics take also a more mystical approach: sometimes they are full-figured visions of death, where all senses are at work in songs like Corpsebreath with lines like “The well gone corpse disguises as man enriched / Wearing trinkets of garlic / Bearing rose petals underskin”. Alim says that he digs up these tales about “human-demons, vampires or those who would drain your will” from the borders of reality:

– The stories often consume conscious thought in a tirade of unspent fantasy, or lurk on the periphery of sleep. You know those small moments spent between the deep of slumber and awakening?

If we blur things a bit more, even the border between life and death isn’t as clear as we tend to think: someone could say that death metal bands are the living ones singing about the dead ones, but is there a connection between the realms of life and death in Cauldron Black Ram’s opinion? And are the living ones and the dead ones so different after all?

– I don’t know. When I pass on, perform a séance. Consecrate a basalt altar with the organs of a hot bitch in heat (preferably human). My wraith-hand will spell the secret of life and death in the cloying blood for you, the bassist envisions somewhat humorously but then gets more serious: – Maybe there is no real difference, the only definition is in the way we die and the way we live.

So is death more a physical or spiritual event to you? Our bodies stop breathing and start to rot, but does the bigger change maybe happen in our minds…?

– I don’t understand why it must be a choice of one or the other. Sure our corpses feed the earth like every other animal, but there’s always an element of being that we don’t have all the answers for yet. There is obviously a process that occurs when our hearts are caught in the ice-cold claw and the splendour of life drifts to an enveloping dark. Maybe we can never know? If we did know the truth of that passing, then maybe we would crave it. Death, bereft of fear, is probably bliss.

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