zondag 12 mei 2013

Interview (en): Aosoth

A few weeks ago Aosoth released their fourth album, An Arrow in Heart. More and more reviews are published on different websites and in magazines, so I didn't quite see a reason to add that I think it's brilliant too. A little walk through the album should be very interesting though, so I asked guitar player BST to help me with that. 

- First of all, thanks for this interview. I’d like to have a walk-through with you through the last Aosoth album and in the same time have a slight look at the band’s perspectives. To start with the artwork. Who was responsible for this? It looks like it’s painted.

That magnificent cover is indeed a painting by Benjamin Vierling, an extremely talented artist with whom we already have had the honour of working a couple times for merch design and other artworks.

- Aosoth has an origin within the ONA, correct me if I’m wrong. How much of that theme is still represented in the music and the lyrics?

Originally, indeed, the lyrics to Aosoth’s early works were chants from the ONA. Our singer has had connection with that organisation, and although he follows his own spiritual path, he still uses elements of their perspective in his lyrics, with many other elements that are more personal to him.

- The new album caused a huge response. I’ve never seen an Aosoth album getting so much attention. Reviews are everywhere. How are your feelings about that?

We’re not desperately seeking the approval of others, if we were, we probably wouldn’t playing that
kind of music. However we’re are surprised by the massive amount of feedback we’ve been getting. When coming from people whose opinion are interesting to us, compliments are appreciated. And if gaining notoriety allows AOSOTH to have access to greater means to do things properly, without losing too much money, or having to focus on other things than art, then I guess it’s a good thing for us.

- An Arrow in Heart seems to have a much more heavy sound than the previous releases. Is this a band decision, or a natural development?

It’s a natural evolution in my opinion, we had found an interesting guitar tone on the previous full length, and we worked on it to perfect it, make it a bit more focused. I wanted our overall sound to be as clean as possible, and make the music’s dissonance the main source of dirt. In a way the aim is to be more honest, not hide the music behind low quality recording, but rather render it clearly. 

- But let’s get to the stuff that really matters: the new album. I’ve had quite a few listens and I must say it’s an incredible leap forward. III was very impressive, but ‘Arrow’ is so much stronger in every way. Do you agree with this? And how do you think about the older albums now?

Each album is a marker in time, we were different people then, and the project grew and developed as we did. We are very proud of this new album, and we do feel it is the best so far. There is no regret whatsoever over the mistakes we might have done in the past releases, as it was all very spontaneous, and was never meant to be perfect. They’re just steps we’re taking...

- The album starts with the title song, An Arrow in Heart. Immediately the dissonants are obvious and so are the typical vocals of MKM. Of all the tracks on ‘Arrow’ this one has the most resemblance with III. To my concern though. Am I correct? Is this the reason to make this the first track?

The tracks are on the album in chronological order, actually. It does make sense that this song would remind of the previous album, as it was written a long time ago, not so long after “III” was released. There was quite a gap of time between that one and “One with the prince...”

- The first track has an intermezzo with percussions. Are they real or are they from a drum computer? Talking about that: are the drums in the rest of the album from a drum computer? They sound extremely natural.

Those percussions on the ambient part are North African drums, it’s a drum loop from my database... The remaining drums on the album are programmed, and thank you for the compliment, I have spent quite some time working on them so they could sound as realistic as possible.

- After the percussion part the apotheosis is there. It reminds me very much of the atmosphere of De Misteriis Dom Sathanas. Does it have any relation with that? Is older black metal in any way an inspiration at all to you?

As much as I love that album, I don’t think I had it in mind when this riff was written. By older black metal, I would think you’d mean Bathory, Hellhammer... Those bands have a huge impact on the way I write music. The old Mayhem stuff probably influenced me at some point as well.

- Speaking of Mayhem, are you one of these musicians that still see ‘De Misteriis’ as the best black metal album ever made?

I would not say that, if I really had to chose one album that pretty much sums up the essence of that kind of music, I would have to say “Under The Sign Of The Black Mark”, by Bathory. I guess that’s a pretty personal choice.

- But let’s continue to the second track of the album. The Prince With a Thousand Enemies. This track has a few classical influences. Am I wrong?

Probably, but as I said earlier, the way those songs were composed is very spontaneous and instinctive, not calculated that much, but rather felt. We do enjoy some classical music, but there are many other kinds we are inspired by.

- I really like these parts. It’s a shame the lyrics are not included, so I can’t be sure, but the music in this track sounds pretty… Majestic, in some way. Is this song built around the lyrics, or are the lyrics built around the song?

The lyrics are actually included with the DLP, on a insert, written in braille. Mkm’s lyrics are always pretty cryptic, and asking him to explain them isn’t really something that works. I guess those who truly want to know have to decipher them by themselves, and make an interpretation for themselves.

- The Temple of Knowledge then. Is this concerning ONA thematics?

Same response as above...

- In Under the Nail and Fingertips there’s quite a lot of cymbals. Why is that? Is this a turning point for the album? 

That’s an odd remark, it’s really not something we thought about, or even noticed ourselves. I’m not
sure if you could say it’s a turning point, but if one were to divide this album in chapters, this track would definitely be the end of one of them.

- This same song has some guitar parts that are difficult to follow, but listening to it I can’t imagine how you’re going to play this live. Is the bar not too high in this case?

For now we’re not planning on playing it live, those songs are very long and we had to make choices in order to be able to fit as much music as possible in the 40 or 45 minute sets we usually have. However I don’t see that one as such a challenge, it may sound strange but it’s not that complicated to play, not the worst of the album anyways... It’s quite physical because of its length, though.

- Is the music in songs like this built around lyrics, or are the lyrics built around the music?

Aosoth has always functioned as two separate creative forces, MKM writes the lyrics, and I am in charge of the music. Most of the lyrics are written with no direct link to the music, although they sometimes are slightly adjusted on the day of the recording. So none is built around the other, it’s a parallel writing process.

- Broken Dialogue I is in a cynical way about christianity. That reminds me of the last album of Funeral Mist. Was that album in any way an influence to this track?

I suppose you have felt this way because of the sample, and I see what you mean in that case. That album, as well as the previous one, most certainly has had a pretty important impact on how Aosoth sounds. We have a lot of respect for that band.

- Broken Dialogue II is about Satan. Where are the samples from?

They’re taken from a movie from the early seventies called “The Devils”. Very good movie.

- The last track of the album is for me the absolute best part of it. It keeps kicking me in the face and it does it for fourteen minutes, though it succeeds in staying interesting. What was the thought about unleashing such a track on mankind?

I knew we had to finish the album with an epic and very long song, and I instantly knew how it should feel, so I sat in my studio without any precise idea, and just started playing and recording ideas, and it simply came together naturally. In a way, it is divided in three chapters within it. Composing that song felt like a state of auto hypnosis. It was a very interesting experience.

- The official video has a shortened soundtrack. Do you think the music is compromised by that?

As we had a very low budget for the video, we were forced to edit the song, and I do feel sorry about that as I think the full song is a lot better, however Matthieur Spinazolla, and David Fitt did an amazing job, and the result is beyond anything we could have hoped for.

- So, that would be it. Any last words for the readers?

Thank you for the interview. AMSG.

An Arrow in Heart is available through Agonia records
We're still on Facebook.

zaterdag 11 mei 2013

One Man Black Metal

Het is alweer enige tijd geleden dat ik aandacht besteed heb aan documentaires. Het wordt wel weer eens tijd. Helaas is er sinds het vrij goede Until the Light Takes Us vrij weinig meer uitgekomen, maar van het weinige dat er uitkwam, is One Man Metal nog wel een aanrader.

De documentaire gaat over drie Amerikaanse one man black metal bands, te weten Xasthur, Leviathan en Striborg. Het aardige aan deze documentaire is ten eerste dat de maker ervan het voor elkaar gekregen heeft om deze drie mannen voor de camera te krijgen, maar veel belangrijker is dat het hem gelukt is om een vrij overtuigende impressie te geven van wie ze zijn en wat ze drijft.

Zo blijkt de man achter Xasthur een bijzonder introverte eenling te zijn die alleen maar met rust gelaten wil worden en worstelt de man achter Leviathan voornamelijk met persoonlijke trauma's.

Maar oordeel vooral zelf. Da's altijd beter.

Deel 1

Deel 2

Deel 3