This week’s blog contains an interview with Cernunnos, the sole person behind the unique black metal entity Hæresiarchs of Dis, which released its second full-length titled Denuntiatus Cinis on Oct. 15 via Moribund Records. You also get the rundown of metal shows for the week as well as some blog exclusive CD reviews and some reposted CD review goodies surrounding the upcoming Watain tour stop in Salt Lake City on next Thursday. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for interviews with Suffocation, Decrepit Birth and much more.
As usual there’s plenty of good tunes to be had this week check out Killbot hosting a CD release show with Speitre and Desolate Saturday, Nov. 6 at Burt’s Tiki Lounge. $5 gets you in, tunes underway at 9 p.m.
This is almost a something-for-everyone metal show: Sweden’s black metal horde Watain returns to Salt Lake on Thursday Nov. 11 with New Orleans death/black metal crew Goatwhore and NYC black/death up and comers Black Anvil, with local openers Dead Vessel, The Pagan Dead and Visions of Decay. Check out all the metal at Club Vegas. Tickets are $15 advance, $20 the day of.
Haeresiarchs of Dis new record Denuntiatus Cinis is easily one of the better black metal releases of the year. It enters the realm of maddening diversity and is an overall epically scaled album with a playing time at around an hour and ten minutes. It’s hard to fathom that it was created solely by one person, but taking that into consideration while listening gives it all that much more amazement and credibility. I had the chance to talk with Cernunnos the man behind it all. Enjoy, and definitely don’t hesitate to check out the new album—it doesn’t disappoint.
SLUG: It’s almost cliché these days to have one person black metal bands, but honestly I’d say most of the one-person projects I come across are always enthralling. What is your fuel for creating music that is completely yours? What is it that makes Haeresiarchs of Dis the entity that it is?
Cernunnos: Hæresiarchs of Dis is the product of many years of wanting to create extreme music. It is solo only by necessity, as the means of creating the project only came to fruition more recently when audio technology came to a point I found worked. In the past I had attempted to bring in other musicians, but where I’ve been finding those who appreciated this kind of music and could play it were far and few. Eventually I found little need for others as I could accomplish results myself. Many a time have I played, performed, and written with others, and ultimately it turns out that I am most productive working alone. What makes Hæresiarchs of Dis what it is? Definitely the solo outcome of my personal ideas, left alone and unhindered by interpersonal relationships.
SLUG: I have unfortunately not heard your first full-length Overture. How does it compare to the new album, Denuntiatus Cinis?
Cernunnos: The new release is very much a continuation of the musical ideas and performance created in Overture. The production is very different as Overture was recorded over a longer period of time, in different locations, and on different equipment and devices. Overture also consists of songs that were written further back, then re-written, and many times re-recorded. It was an album that had been slowly building upon itself for a decade before reaching finality. Denunuiatus Cinis is new in that all the tracks and lyrics were written recently after Overture’s release. Denunuiatus Cinis is also more conceptual with a deeper underlying theme, whereas Overture is more of a collection of tracks exploring various avenues of depravity. To me personally, Overture holds a greater importance for me, as it was the breaking point for me, accomplishing a goal by myself after years of failed bands and musical relationships.
SLUG: Denuntiatus Cinis is a massive album in scope and variance of sounds—it really feels like it would be the product of multiple musicians. As a solo artist, what is it like putting each musical portion and instrumental composition together to create the songs within the album? Do you hear the songs in your head before you create them or is it more of a gradual building type of work?
Cernunnos: For the most part the songs are created gradually, usually starting with a guitar riff, and then stringing more riffs together and arranging and re-arranging. Other times I will have a specific idea, or an inspiration after listening to something. More often than not, songs are spontaneous at first then I add layers as needed. Once in a while I will hear something in my head, but usually it is an idea of playing something, a structure or pattern that I go on.
SLUG: As a writer, I don’t often find myself going over things I’ve written after they’ve been completed/published I just go over it during the actual writing process because it can be an emotionally draining process. I can’t imagine the time and psychological toll creating a piece of music takes. How much do you return to listen to what you’ve created after you’ve completed it?
Cernunnos: That is a great question, and a question that really pits our creative side against the analytical side. I have always felt that analytical reasoning should never undermine creative spontaneity, but in turn logical streamlining should never be ignored. It is a give and take situation that requires balance. Creation is a part of the moment, and revisiting and revising some creative endeavor may diminish that initial spontaneity. I will return to pieces I have written many times and sometimes months later, usually listening to them out of context, say in another room, or while engaging in some other activity. If something strikes me in a later listen, I will remember it and make attempts to revise. I do not see the process of gradual creation as daunting, rather satisfying. Each stage of the music creation process can be akin to building a home. Every level or piece further fleshes out the whole, and as more levels get added, the more interesting it becomes. Each stage of song creation, each milestone, invigorates me to achieve the next.
SLUG: As usual with my promotional versions of albums I rarely get song lyrics to go along with the music, so two questions in one here—does the physical package of the new album come with a lyrics sheet? Secondly what lyrical themes are explored on Denuntiatus Cinis?
Cernunnos: Yes, it does come with a lyric booklet. Denuntiatus Cinis comprises themes inspired by folklore and Catholicism, and the unifying history of the two. The album examines man’s folly through a timeline, a path the runs from existence’s birth to the eventual heat death of the universe and the victory of the Fallen Angel. There is an intention, or a request, to surrender to a great understanding, and through this surrender, fulfillment.
SLUG: Personally the album feels very manic to me, it goes from a calm subdued sometimes depressive sometimes more contemplative to extremely crazed, fast, angry but also haunting and distantly cold. Are there any specific emotions you wanted to draw out of listeners when they heard the new record?
Cernunnos: For me, the music is an extreme experience. I want to super charge the strong negative emotions in listeners, so yes; I’d call it manic too. Intensity is what I attempt to achieve with any Hæresiarchs of Dis project, and whether that intensity be sorrow, rage, or a sense of being overwhelmed and uncomfortable, it is all a part of the experience. Hæresiarchs of Dis is not a band creating metal music; it is a soundtrack to be experienced.
SLUG: What about the medium of black metal inspires and intrigues you most out of all the types of musical directions a musician could go into?
Cernunnos: It is the intensity of the medium that is most intriguing. The darker recesses of humanity weave a wonderful tapestry to exploit, and tapping that extreme outputs profound art.
SLUG: Being in the journalistic world covering all things related to metal, part of keeping myself in the know is keeping a pulse on what is popular amongst each metal scene. I find it perplexing that many of the releases that get commercial and even critical success tend to be the least mentally challenging and generally don’t inspire any type of feeling. Not everything is like that but vast majorities of what is deemed popular fits into that category. Why do you think so many listeners take the less challenging road musically?
Cernunnos: Most people are stupid. They feed off of the media blitz that is society and accept very willingly what Big Brother tosses their way. The flavor of the month in entertainment is whatever the corporate conglomerate says it is. And that is exactly it; the least mentally challenging art is best accepted. Cinema, literature, and music all made simple so the masses can absorb as much as possible. Consume more and think less, the American dream… And it is a dream because it is not really reality. It is our own responsibility to think for ourselves and question everything around us. Have an opinion. It is perplexing to consider of how many people in the world would not know what to do with themselves if mass media were suddenly shut off.
SLUG: If anything, what would you like listeners of Haeresiarchs of Dis to get out of listening to the latest album?
Cernunnos: Maybe an opinion not based on their latest 80s thrash revival album. Denuntiatus Cinis should be a unique experience that one can walk away from feeling a bit violated.
Blog exclusive CD reviews
Black Anvil = Goatwhore (early) + Nachtmystium + Obituary
Black Anvil’s Triumvirate album has been out for a good solid month now and from what I know, it’s been fairly well received by critics and fans. In one of those weird instances (well not so weird for me), I don’t get why there’s much praise floating around for this record. It does succeed at being a hefty and heavy blend of black and death metal and has that new car freshness that allows the band to sound unique but appease multiple metal genre lovers. That’s about all it’s got going for it, however. There’s a reason I’ve been sitting on this release for a month—I really haven’t had the patience to listen to it fully through more than once. There are no memorable tracks—it’s next to impossible to tell one from the next. There are no really definitive guitar or vocal portions though I will say “Scalping,” does have a bit more interest and remembrance to it all than the other tracks but still it just blurs into one musical mass. Something I don’t really have a problem with as long as the music is aesthetically or emotionally substantial. The other downfall of the album that the only emotional and aesthetic response it inflicts upon me is boredom. There’s also the obviously forced vocal performance, which ruins much of the album’s ability to sound raw because it sounds just like a giant wannabe scary and evil act. In a stagnating metal scene you either need to stand out or write good songs, Triumvirate fails on both levels, maybe the trio that is Black Anvil should’ve stuck to their hardcore band Kill Your Idols. –Bryer Wharton
Ahdistuksen Aihio Productions
Jumalhämärä = Blut Aus Nord + Neurosis + Ved Buens Ende + Horna
I’m glad all I have to do is type this Finnish black metal band’s name because I’d have a hell of a time saying it. Accompanying the uniqueness of the bands name also comes a highly unique sound. There is absolutely no getting around the fact that while your listening to Resignaatio you’re going to be uncomfortable and when it’s done you’ll still be not so comfy and possibly a bit scared. Jumalhämärä have an amazing ability to layer their sound and not make their album sound like a mess but more of a ghostly abysmal masterpiece. There is a tight song structure behind every song that if you have the ability to tune things out you can distinctly hear but the band isn’t satisfied with just straight songs. They throw in random guitar swirling and other almost psychedelic factors giving what would be fairly straight forward Finnish black metal a whole other facet and being to it all, the lo-fi production also lends itself well to the bands final product. The album takes getting used to in it’s maddening form, but once you can isolate the song layers or just fully immerse yourself in the chaotically grim songs you’ll find a perfect album to get creeped out too. Jumalhämärä aren’t post black metal but they aren’t quite black metal for all those that need to have a brand label slapped on everything the certain thing they are however is a severe and disturbing mind-trip that somehow leaves you wanting to go back or hear more. –Bryer Wharton
Re-posted concert related reviews:
Season of Mist
Watain has received some high praise and fan notoriety and this praise is not without good reason—there is noticeable talent in the music, which contains a great depth of memorable songwriting, something that lacks in most produced black metal (a category that Watain falls into), let alone raw black metal. I heard a few select cuts from Sworn to the Black, but Lawless Darkness is my first real revelry into the world of these devious Swedes. The album’s production is richly clean, making the guitar-riffing sound precise and quite memorable throughout the album’s over-an-hour’s-worth of grim-frosted darkness. Again, I emphasize the songwriting on Lawless Darkness is a huge factor and it makes for a terrific album that doesn’t wear thin or get old; there’s no question the band put big thoughts and efforts into this album. There’s some melody seeping in, there’s raw, blackened blasting, stark, howling solos and intermittent atmospheric goodies. Lawless Darkness just put Watain on the top of the Swedish black metal listen list. –Bryer Wharton
Carving Out The Eyes Of God
I had this record for nearly a month probably longer and given it a couple listens a week and was having trouble finding the Goatwhore I have come to know and enjoy. Then if some odd devilish angel switched something on in my head and it all came together. While Goatwhore’s last record A Haunting Curse marked some stylistic changes for the band mostly in production value but also inviting a bigger death metal sound than before in, COTEOG, takes the rawness of the bands first to records gives it a clear production but returns the raw bitter edge the band displayed on their first two albums. The new album isn’t anything massively superb or anything but it’s a solid output that plays out in the least redundant way than the band has ever offered up. There are moments of straight forward grimacing death metal with some dirge styled guitar moments, then there are some tracks that sit on the edge of full on death n’ roll. If anything get the album for the glorious “In Legions, I Am Wars Of Wrath.” –Bryer Wharton