Saturday, May 22, 2010

Interview: Black Beyonds Music

Well, first of all, we have a lot of projects to discuss here, all on your label, so I'll start by asking you: how are you involved in all of the bands that you have released (Thine Ancient Kingdom, Mysterium, Hierophant, and Sect) - what instrument(s) do you play in each and what part do you have in the composition of each group/project's music? Also, could you describe the sound/style of each band and how you came to be involved with the music - i.e., how each project came about, the influences and inspiration, etc. Basically what I'm asking is this: where did the initial spark of creativity come from for each project? Which of your bands has gained the most attention/response?

All of the "bands"/projects I have released on Black Beyonds Music are mine. I write, perform and record all my own music, but my spiritual brother, Jeff Addison (The Oath) has the equipment to burn it to CD. I play all instruments on all releases except for the bass on "Thine Ancient Kingdom", which my brother storms in the background, I might add. I've been a guitarist/vocalist for 10 years with a very wide vocal range and guitar style, and a drummer for about 5. I generally can play most instruments. I find it hard to say I have many "influences", for my music is really a reflection of myself... though if I were to list any, it would be: the forests at dusk (and in general), bleak, shadowed mountains and eternally gray skies. But truly it is just an expression of what I feel within... things I've had within me for ages. They are all a reflection of a different facet of my soul... a different reflection of myself.
The "bands" that have received the most attention would be HIEROPHANT and SECT. They are now floating all over the globe from people who've ordered them from me, just on word-of-mouth. The guys from Evoken, especially Nick almost DIED when he heard it! He really spread the word of HIEROPHANT, for he said there had not been doom like that released in ages due to the mood, slowness and brutality of HIEROPHANT.

As for the sound/style of each project, and how they came about:

SECT is raging, cold, bleak, maddening and moody black metal. It is an expression of what I call "cold rage". The most extreme hateful side of myself and my soul. I believe it has a unique sound, and is not your everyday, generic black metal. I guess in terms of sound/style (if I was to compare) I would call it a mix between Mysticum and Kvist. Though I find it difficult to compare any of my music, and don't like to. Its inspiration was to create a feeling of frenzied hatred, with a foreboding feeling of madness. (Incidentily, there has been another song added, and it has been re-released.)

HIEROPHANT is one of my most proud accomplishments. Dark, haunting, brutal funeral doom. I am tuned lower than most bands, because whenever I do something, it must be the most extreme is can be. It is an expression of what only doom can express: desolation, misery, and an earth-shattering darkness that seems to arise from the depths. My first band at the age of 15 was doom. It is my first love. Back then, there was not much around to be influenced by, but what was there were the kings and pioneers of doom... Disembowelment, Cathedral, old M.D.B. etc.. It is that indescribable type of dread, desolation, grimness and eternal mourning I have within me, that I try to convey through doom. I feel that doom (especially) is something to be EXPERIENCED, not just listened to. HIEROPHANT is no exception. I've actually had 4 people say the EXACT same phrase to me over the last few years... "Your voice sounds like it is from the grave"! Almost word for word...quite amusing. Especially those who hear me talk, they realize I just have that deep a voice. I hate effects, and don't use them on ANYTHING I do, except a little echo for mood. HIEROPHANT is pure doom. The way it should be.

MYSTERIUM is just a 2-song MCD of strange, brutal, hateful and disturbing music. I call it "horror metal", but not in the sense of the sense of the FEELING of horror. It is very "ghoulish", and again, my vocal style is different on this release. The first song is almost like doom, but no guitars...just slight keys, slow drums and sickening, watery vocals. The 2nd song is just all keys and vocals, both high and low (which I perform; as I've said... no effects, just strong range) overlapping one another to create a sense of impending doom, as if the "gates" were slowly creaking open. It builds incredibly until the end, when it fades into oblivion, slinking back into the darkness.

THINE ANCIENT KINGDOM is a very unique project, that some have really taken to, and others have scorned. It sounds like no one else, but could be deemed akin to Viking metal. It is extremely moody and emotional, and completely relentless. The reason it is different is because there are no drums. It is to be heard as a "bard's tales" if you were listening to, and feeling the memories of two ancient souls who lived many lives both in ancient times here, and throughout the cosmos. Everyone wants to hear the relentless pounding of drums. We felt that would take away from the essence, and make it too "human". Many people have agreed with our decision, and T.A.K. has gained alot more attention recently, by those deep enough to "understand" the concept behind it. We have enough songs to release almost 3 CDS, but have just put together a 70 minute compilation. There is nothing like it. Dario Derna from Evoken is an incredible drummer, who loves T.A.K. and wanted to try to put drums to it. So we went into the studio, and it actually sounded great over some songs, but others were just too...ancient. Its strange... its like you cannot even FIT drums over it. They just weren't meant to be there. THINE ANCIENT KINGDOM is possibly the DEEPEST expression of what I truly am as a being, a well as my "brother", who plays a monstrous 6-string bass (HE SPEED PICKS CHORDS ON A 6-STRING BASS! ONLY THE PUREST COULD DO THAT!) and writes alot of the lyrics. That is why I call him "The Oath"...for he expresses things in words that I am feeling. We know that we have "travelled" together many times, and we dwell within the same Kingdom beyond (its too deep a concept to explain shortly) and T.A.K. is an expression of that. There is such an ancient, majestic, wisdom-filled essence to'd have to hear it, for it is beyond words. It just happened. We rediscovered each other once more in this life, and that was that. We have been playing once a week for years, and when we "gather" it is literally like a ritual. We write by candlelight, my sword always next to me when I play and the essence of ages past just flows through us. I believe we are just the medium for it.

Are you involved with so many projects because you do not want to limit yourself to just one style/form of music within a particular genre, or is it because you like setting limits on each project and then trying to work within that given frame/structure? Why not combine all of your music into one band? Do you think that your desire for musical expression is too 'large' to be confined to the structure/internal limitations of one project? If each of these releases is an 'official' product, an EP and not a demo, why didn't you wait until you had more material before releasing them? Tell me, also: how have you recorded each of your releases? Do you have your own little studio set up?

Yes, you are right. I do not, and CAN NOT limit myself. There are too many things within me that need to be expressed, and each form of music is a different medium that can only express a particular thing I am feeling. It would be impossible to lump it all under one name, one "band" or project because of that.
As for the 2nd part to the question...there IS no more material. That is why they are relesed as final versions. I do everything for a reason. Once the concept is expressed, whether is be 3 songs or 23 songs...when it's done, its done. Appreciate it for what it is, and that is all I could ever ask. They ARE official releases, but they are finished. The concepts for me have been expressed. They may be added upon sometime in the future, but I play music for only one reason: TO EXPRESS A CONCEPT/MY SOUL. I am not out to write "albums". Hey, if you can get your hands on just ONE SONG that feeds your soul like no other on the planet, wouldn't that be enough? That is how I see it. You don't need ALOT of something, when it is that strong. As for the 3rd part of the question, I have no "studio" really. Just my house. I am good with sound, so believe it or not, all releases were done on a 4-track and I just really cleaned it up. Since my brain is like a human metronome (which drives me NUTS because I can hear an out-of-step beat a mile a way, and I'm a damn perfectionist) sometimes I put the guitars down before the drums, because I know my timing will be right on.

Some questions about Black Beyonds: did you ever at any point try to release your music through other labels or have you been committed to self-releases since day one? In my opinion, the freedom of releasing one's own music really doesn't have any kind of correlating consequence in the music scene - i.e., there aren't any negative sides to doing such a thing. At this time there are more resources available than ever before for starting up a label, and to do so is to strike a blow for independence and self-determination in a scene that is becoming increasingly stale and cliche-ridden. Here, now, in 2001, with the wholesale death of the 'accepted' black metal scene and the reintroduction of talent and true emotion in underground black metal circles (something I am becoming increasingly excited about), the real musicians for whom black metal means something other than trends are coming back to the genre, and injecting new energy into the music. Would you consider signing/producing a release for a band that you weren't involved in? What would such a band have to be like? What convictions are behind your label - what tenets are behind its construction? Where would you like to see the label go in the future?

I never really tried to release my/our music through another label. It is too personal. And as you said, between the freedom of doing that and avoiding the trouble of the "it should sound like THIS" mentality of record companies out for money, it was the only option. I hate trends. I hate scenes. I hate the quest for "getting signed". It's all a waste. If you take that effort and put it into creating your own "domain", there is NOTHING you can't accomplish. I am very happy that there are those coming back into the scene to whom the music actually MEANS something. That is why I've always listened and taken personally the more "underground" and "obscure" or not widely listened to bands (i.e. Arckanum, Isvind, Kvist, Octinimos,Troll, Manes etc...) because they have that mood and "truth" to their music that you are starting to behold returning once more (THANK THE ANCIENTS!). I would DEFINITELY do all I could for a band which I was not involved in, as long as they had the same mentality about music that we are speaking of here. Actually, that is my goal. I want to create a new "circle" of souls, who really "understand" what it is about. Who can relate to one another on a deeper level, and express themselves as such through their music. Black Beyonds Music actually was born from a very personal concept, that being my brother and I feeling that is where our Kingdom/origin the black beyonds. We then said, "We should turn in into a 'label', which would make it all the more personal". Since I am on disability due to aspartame poisoning I got from running machines in a factory, I am always home...I taught myself web design, and there you have it. I am the backbone to Black Beyonds Music. I do everything. But I give credit to my "brother" because it came from a mutual and personal concept. I have recently asked him to start participating more, perhaps doing reviews etc...which he will be doing soon. He just doesn't have much time, between being married and working 55-60 hours a week. I hope to see the label really gain more attention for one leave our legacy behind in another way, besides just the help out those such as we, who really have depth and talent, but are ignored by the "industry"...always the fucking dollar, you know? I can't stand todays society...I am from another time, thats why this shit gets to me so much.

How exactly would you like people to react/respond to the music that you have written so far? Do you appreciate adulation, or does it embarrass you? Do you find it satisfying when people praise your music, or does it leave you feeling, at the end of the day, just a little unappreciated for what you REALLY want to be known for? Have you encountered negative responses from people when you tried to get them to listen to your music? If so, how did you react?

Everyone has their opinions. The only thing I would like is that they ENJOY IT, and just appreciate it for what it is. That is all. I hope it feeds them, as it feeds me. I really DO appreciate, however, the praise my music has recieved. I does make me feel as if I am touching peoples' souls, and that is all that matters to me. I've had people who didn't like some shit I've done...and I say, "Then don't fucking listen to it". Simple as that. Everyone has their opinion. Yeah...what I REALLY want to be known for is what I am as a soul, the music just being a medium of expression for that. That is what is the most important to me. Though it is nice when people compliment me on my musical talents (which happens alot, but I don't get big-headed about it; it actually annoys me a little, but it's nice of them to say). I can play almost any instrument, and that impresses people... BUT I DONT TAKE THE CREDIT. I am very spiritual (actually, a Shaman, but most might not understand that...and none of this is by choice) so what I say is this: The Universe gave me the "gifts" of being able to do what I do, that I may express what needs to be expressed, and I honor it for that. The Universe just flows through me, as well as the essence through ages past. I myself, am just a medium...just as the music is a medium.

When did you first become involved with underground music? What does the American metal underground need right now, and what does it NOT need? Let us have the benefit of your experience...

I became "involved" in the underground when I was very young. I was drawn to it when others thought it was "evil" and "fucked up noise". What does the underground need now...? More music that has MEANING...concepts behind it. Enough with the anti-christian/satanic bullshit! If you hate christians so much (as much as I do) then don't even give them the satisfaction of paying them any fucking attention! I know they butchered the Pagan ways, and for that I'd like to fucking burn them myself...but don't waste good music on a concept that has already gone WAY past its usefulness. Dig deeper in yourself, and express what YOU are. The Universe is so vast, and boundless. Time and space are but human concepts...go beyond, and create something worthy of yourself.

Let me ask you a few questions about Hierophant here in the middle of the interview. First of all, why the name? Are there any central themes that the music or lyrics are based around - historical, philosophical, or emotional? For example, what is the song 'Forever Dying' exactly about, other than the obvious connotations? Do you plan on writing/recording any other songs for this project? What kind of music did you plan/try to create with Hierophant - what were you trying to express with this form of music? This has to be some of the slowest and most anguished doom metal I've yet heard, and I, for one, would like to see you continue with this band...

Thank you very much for your compliments of HIEROPHANT. I am VERY pleased that you have taken to it as you have, and have described it so accurately. A 'HIEROPHANT', in simple terms, is an interpreter of sacred mysteries, or arcane knowledge, or esp. the Eleusinian mysteries, from whence the word originated (Greek). The song "Forever Dying" is about the experience of a soul that never dies...and also about what it would be like to experience death over and over again, without ever truly attaining it, and drifting in eternal mourning because of that. One who is tortured to never know the peace of death. I do plan on expanding on HIEROPHANT in the future. I already have much more written, but I've lost some equipment recently and need to save money to attain more, strictly for that purpose. I've explained in one of the earlier questions the essence behind is meant to express more of a haunting, brutal, mournful essence of dread, aloneness, desolation and pure darkness. Apparently, I've done just that, according to your (and others) description of that... so I am happy. There will be more to come...I promise, for there is alot more where that came from within me.

Tell me how you feel about the current doom metal scene (or the complete lack of a legitimate collection of doom bands) - why do you think there have always been just a few real doom bands in any given country, and that this style never caught on or 'exploded' the way others styles of metal did? I have my own convictions concerning such questions, but I always like hearing what other people have to say about this...why is it so impossible to envision a time when doom/death would be as 'popular' as black metal, for example? What the hell makes a person decide one day to start a tortured, nihilistic, incredibly slow metal band? Is there still room for creativity and the expansion of stylistic boundaries within the genre?

Doom. Doom is an "experience". It is TO be experienced...THAT is why it has never exploded into popularity. Everyone wants a quick fix of hatred and speed, and they see doom as "boring" #1...and #2 you really have to have more depth to feel and understand what doom truly is, and, sad to say, most humans just don't have that depth. You have to live it, breath it, sleep it. I almost like the fact that it is so "underground" and unknown among the masses, because it makes it all the more personal, especially since most don't understand it anyway. But it angers and saddens me for those out there that I've personally spoken with (such as in Russia) who strive for and crave the doom "experience", but cannot get it. I've actually sent out CDS for free to certain people I felt really were "true", and who would really know what doom is.
What the hell makes a person decide one day to start a tortured, nihilistic, incredibly slow metal band? Hahahaha...hard to say. I know for me, it is just what I IS me. Alot of people say depression. To that I say, "go fuck yourself". That makes it sound so shallow, don't you think? It's so, so much more. It is blissful mourning, sensual misery, from-the-shadows brutality and MYSTERY. Do I think it could be expanded upon? Hmmm...possibly, but ironically I think only by returning to its roots. If that makes sense. With HIEROPHANT, there was no choice for me. I HAD to tune as low as possible, and play as slow and agonizing as possible, and sing as if from the grave... BECAUSE THAT IS THE WAY TRUE DOOM IS MEANT TO BE (to me, anyway). It was just natural. I think there is much room for expansion, but only if it's done RIGHT.

One of the things that I love the most about doom/death metal is that it is so honest, so raw and emotional - as emotion, particularly depression or the 'negative' emotions, is the summit of its attempts at expression, and its sole inspiration - in a way that no other form of metal can be, as almost all of the other genres are mired in an undiluted aggression. Now, for me, aggression in metal definitely has its place, but as I get older and (I hope) wiser, I find that I don't react to violence in music the way that I used, now what I need from music is the creation of worlds that remove me from the banality and despair-ridden trap of reality, music that closes off the external and opens up the internal for me...a band like Disembowelment or Thergothon, for example, has the ability to completely mesmerize me, in a way that Emperor or Suffocation or any other band can not. It is not just the slow tempo, the long drawn-out riffs, the 'mystical' atmospheres - it is all these things together plus a special X factor which I leave to those respective bands' genius at creating original music. Doom/death, I feel, is so hard to listen to and so unpopular with the masses because it asks, from the very beginning, for you to let go of your emotional masks - it asks the listener to open him/herself up and let the music spin a web from the emotions, ideas, and thoughts just under the surface of everyday 'control'...without these unconscious/hidden agents to work on that we hide away from the light and then offer to the music as a sacrifice, I don't think doom metal would 'work' at all, it would be ineffective...what do you think?

What do I think? Man, I'm almost speechless. You've put into words EXACTLY what I feel. There is almost nothing I can say. I feel the same as you on a personal level as well; about needing to "travel" to other worlds of essence and existence, instead of just raging violence. Worlds where pure emotion has manifested into the physical. Imagine...a world where every tree and every mountain were a manifestation of pure darkness, mourning, mystery and the like...I can imagine it. I do every is my Kingdom beyond...I call it "home".

Now with Sect, your other project that I have heard, tell me: what are the plans for this band in the future? The guitar sound on the Sect CD that you sent me is excellent, sort of an 'ideal' amalgam of all the classic Norwegian black metal bands, from Mayhem to Darkthrone to Burzum...was this intentional, or when you think of 'black metal' does that guitar sound just match the music in your head? For me, the tone, timbre, and production values of a black metal album are almost just as important as the music itself, and I've written entire articles on the do you feel about this? What is your idea of the 'perfect' production for a black metal album? How long did you spend trying to get the right guitar sound?

I have the ability to not have to spend so much time on getting any particular sound for any particular instrument. It just seems to happen right the first time. Once again, the Universe. I definitely did NOT plan on it sounding even remotely similar to anyone. If it does (the sound, anyway) it is only because of the affinity for that sound that was coming out of my guitar. It hit me, and that was that. I love the above-mentioned bands, but my music is NEVER influenced by any other music. Actually, this should sum EVERYTHING up for you about my writing: When I write, or feel a surge of something soon to need to be released, I will go days, sometimes WEEKS at a time without even listening to music so I am NOT influenced by them. As I've said, I'm very extreme in what I do, and how I do it. I just know what sound can express what feeling, I strive to reach it, I get it, and thats it. As you said, it just matched the music in my head (the sound, that is). I dont fuss with sound too much, and I'll tell you why....... because I feel that if you put enough spiritual energy into the music, it will sound like it is supposed to. Might sound nuts, but it does work because everything is energy, and effected by other energies. Its a whole philosophy of mine... too much to get into here.

Also, with the Sect music, one can easily sense a great deal of influence from the same Norwegian bands that I listed above...especially Burzum, I sense, although that may just be a coincidence, or that same old atonal Thorns influence that comes through in all Norwegian-influenced groups. What I am specifically referring to with this is the minimalistic patterns of repeated riffs, over and over, with little structural derivation in terms of speed changes or, Sect, it seems to me, is all about creating an infernal mood or grim atmosphere through the violent overthrow of silence - drowning out silence with a constant barrage of I even close to your intentions here with the music? What I also like about Sect is the vocals, as they are placed a little back (lower) in the mix and seemingly rise from the ground in waves of pain, like screams of the tortured/damned from beneath the do you approach the recording of your vocals - do you prepare in advance or just attempt them in one take? Also, I'm wondering - how familiar are you with Manes?

The vocals I do in one shot, EXACTLY FOR THAT REASON...there is no thought, no "small mind" getting in the way saying, "I'm going to sing this word here, and grunt there". It is instinctive. Pure. I pick up the mic, and FEEL it out as it goes. Mostly everything (believe it or not) is done in one take, few exceptions. I just created what I felt. It was NOT influenced by Norsk black metal what-so-ever (though I love it to death), and as for sounding like Burzum in the sense of a constant deluge of emotion and sound...I guess you could make that comparison. The repeating of riffs keeps the mood, and actually, makes it build, and build, and build until it just explodes into the blackest, most grim, hateful yet moody storm possible. You are right in your description of its intent, though again, it is just how I feel within and I release what I feel. Manes? Actually, Dario Derna (Evoken) just got me into them not so long ago. I had actually never heard of them until recently. I absolutely love Manes. Total grimness, coldness with a touch of madness within its midst.

Do you remember the first little bio sheet that you sent me for Erebus with the Hierophant and Sect CDs? If I remember correctly, it said something very much like 'my extreme music reflects the extremity of my personality' - I was wondering what exactly you meant by that...why is your personality so 'extreme', then? Was it something in your history that 'turned' you this way? Something you have experienced? Just your own nature, as you have grown to know it? Why do some souls end up 'extreme' while most end by being completely prosaic? Why do you think most people are so frightened by the emotions released by music like Hierophant, for example? This fear and 'misunderstanding' that your music undoubtedly creates - how do you react to it? What is it like knowing that something that has come out of you - out of your mind, out of your body - makes people react in terror and confusion?

Yes, I remember. It is true. I think what makes someone "extreme", is their ethereal essence. You can't fake that. It can actually be more of a curse than a blessing at times. I am as extreme as I am for all the reasons you mentioned above. Very good description, I must say. For me, it is just a bit more on the spiritual side. I've lived many lives, died many times and experienced many things. We are all a product of what "was", and cannot ignore the past, even if we cannot live in it. And when I say past, I mean even other lives lived, in other times and places. One can only find that out for one's self.
I think people fear the emotions released by things such as HIEROPHANT and SECT... BECAUSE it is true. It is not "faked", it is not senseless violence or just dark, brooding sounding is the essence BEHIND it. Now you see what I mean about energy? You could have the same song played by 2 different people or bands, and one would have more mood...even if played EXACTLY the same. When I play music, I am putting my very soul into it. I've heard other people say that, but I don't think they have a clue as to what that really means or entails. What is it like knowing that something that has come out of me - out of my mind, out of my body - makes people react in terror and confusion? Amazement, grim pleasure, sometimes a fear of what really lies within myself that could allow me to create such a thing. It makes me feel many things. It shows me what I truly am, that perhaps the conscious mind cannot see. Doesn't get much deeper than that for someone to experience about themselves.

Alright...that's about it for me. Let us know what's ahead for you in the future, and also add anything else here that you want our readers to see.

First, thank you for this very in-depth interview. It has been an honor. And in parting, I would like to thank all those who've supported my work (yourself included). I will be working on spreading my music as far as I can, that others may be taken places they would otherwise never know. I will also be adding more to HIEROPHANT, SECT and am working on reforming my project "PAGAN THRONE" with Dario Derna (Evoken) on the drums. I am presently playing drums in a new project I've formed with Dan Dornbierer (ex-FUNEBRARUM) called "ABHORRENT RITES". A perfect (yet strange) mix between doom, black metal and brutal death metal. Support Erebus Magazine, for their souls are true. Thanks, U. for all your support.