How were you guys socialised musically?
The members come from a variety of musical backgrounds, some from a hardcore/punk background while others are from more extreme death, black and doom metal backgrounds. In terms of being socialised musically, we have all been a part of the UK music scene for 15 years or more; playing and being part of various bands. In that time we have seen the landscape change and fads come and go, but the metal scene remaining strong. We are committed to it now as we always have been and hope to show that in what we do as a band.
How does the British Black Metal scene look at the moment apart from bigger names that dwell at the borders, like A Forest of Stars or Cradle of Filth?
I think the black metal scene is very healthy at this point in time. There are lots of bands coming through and making an impact on the global metal scene, getting recognition for their albums and genuinely bringing UKBM to a wider audience. I think this is pretty much for the first time ever, as a cohesive scene any way. Bands like Wodensthrone, Winterfylleth, Fen, Cnoc An Tursa, Falloch, Haar, Askival, Burial, Fyrdsman and many others have all raised their heads above water and caused a stir in the international scene. Many of whom have been awarded the great praise they deserve for putting the UK on the BM map once again. For too long we have been the poorer cousin of the rest of the worlds’ BM, despite the genre originating in England. The time has come for change and the output we are seeing from many bands is helping to do that!
Your label tags you as "mysterious"; what's so mysterious about using the self-same imagery and tactics of disguising as bands have done ever since the 1990s?
Well, as we have always said, the distortion of ourselves is more as a means to an end rather than a statement in itself. The tendency to judge a release on the strength of our previous works is removed and our pasts alienated from the conscience of the listener when addressing the albums. As such the message and musical ideas can land in isolation as a whole rather than a preconception based on our other works. If our identities come out then I don’t think it harms what we do, it is just not important to the image of the band at this point in time.
You stress that you propagate reason and stand against weakness, the latter being a quite general term. Would you elaborate that, please?
Weakness comes in many forms, but in the context of our recorded output we are referencing the weakness and fear that exists in humanity in terms of their unwillingness to challenge establishments, governments and ‘the way things are’. Too many people are happy to drone along and be slaves to the monetary system, to un-gainful employment to hopelessness and fragility at the hands of corporations and establishments that have put them under torment and repression for too long. The album represents an attempt to discuss a world where people stand together and face these evils, for the good of all.
Your new album is said to expand on the idea that humanity has overcome its restrictions and breaks free. Isn't this wishful thinking, or do you see signs of this in our times? How would you describe these shackles exactly, and what are the tools to break them?
I think that everything is wishful thinking if nobody decides to say something or take a stand. So it is then, that our role as artists - who have a public platform with everyone who engages with us - is to use our privileged position to do something positive, to try to inform others and help them to join their voices with ours. In the modern age these ‘shackles’ are everywhere, but more specifically in banks, in corporations, in establishments of power, or in government. A few powerful people take liberties with our personal freedoms and for selfish gains, without any consent from us. So we should stand against this in whatever way we can. In the modern era I think that the tools are within our hands. We have the ability to globalise ideas through our best ever communication networks and through co-operation. Truth movements and public opinion is swaying as more people are more informed and as religion starts to lose its foothold in public opinion. I think the tide is turning and all the tools that are required are the public being informed and set free, in order to act. Exacting that change lies in the hands of people like us, who dare to speak out.
What is the next level humans elevate themselves to after their liberation? Will it be a violent uprising or happen on an intellectual plane? I am thinking of 'As Fire Consumes' here.
I suppose the next level is to truly live in a free society, as opposed to the lie of a free society that exists currently. To quote something the comedian Bill Hicks once said in relation to money, that sums up this ‘fake freedom’ perfectly is as follows: -
“It's all about money, not freedom, ya'll, okay? Nothing to do with fuckin' freedom. If you think you're free, try going somewhere without fucking money, okay?”
I think in terms of uprising, it will come in both forms. I’d like to think it would be the intellectual plane, but on too many occasions force is the only thing that some people respond to. There was a movement between the late 60’s and the mid 80’s that addressed these sorts of powers through intellect and dark wit which comes to mind. ‘The Power of the Powerless’ movement as theorised, and perhaps realised by individuals like Vaclav Havel and E.P. Thompson. They hypothesized resistance to power was almost impossible in their time (due to the existing power structures) so they chose to live ‘as if’…. In the sense of living ‘as if’ there was no corruption or as a free person in a non-corrupt society etc as a means of exacting ridicule and loss of support with the major political powers through their actions. This worked well in many instances and was a source of political change through shift in public opinion. To quote Christopher Hitchens from his 2001 book ‘letters to a young contrarian’
“The process often involved an inversion in the usual relationship between the ironic and the literal”
The end result being to convince many statesmen or politicians of that period to change their opinions on matters of policy making through: -
“…the stubborn, nonviolent, cultural and political rebellions of those years that impelled them to recast their assumptions”
Admittedly there is a great deal more detail around this topic, but the point is.. that sometimes, it is reason and sense that prevail over tyranny. So then we as people can learn lessons from our past, to shape the future in this manner.
Does 'The Mist Of Death' represent physical and mental stasis which mean death to us?
The Mist of Death is actually representative of the death of a social power or corrupt ideal. The lyrics use religious belief being removed from humanity to represent this stating: -
“Nor may he from that roguery/With hands himself defend/Hateful robber of the air/Life is departed, and skinless/Hopeless of soul/Pale on the tree/His fate awaits him/Covered with the mist of death”
I suppose this anthropomorphises this ideal as an individual and represents how people have exiled him and decided his fate is death.
In the same way, is 'The Fog Of Deceit' the mass of untrue tenets and beliefs man has fallen to?
Yes, it is. It’s about how ‘his people’ –the followers of religion as a people – are ‘resolved to follow emptiness and the fog of deceit’. This refers to the acceptance that banks or governments or even religions have, or try to have control over you in everything you do, without your say so and in the case of banks, would sell your freedom quicker than they would foreclose your mortgage if you couldn’t pay. It also refers to movements like ‘occupy’ or the various truth movements that try to shed ‘clarity’ on these issues so that people reject them, as though they fight through the fog to ‘live in clarity’.
Does 'To Quench A Raging Flame' address those who try to stop the revolution, or is it about the rioters themselves who must face another powerful force?
Almost, it’s just the other way around. It’s about how within each of us “bears a man, severe of mind an ample of heart” who will stand up to “quench the raging flame” that keeps us all at bay. It also refers to how “the fate of the brave few reflects in the future of all”, which is about how it only takes a few people to get things started, or stand up before others will.
The 'Ocean' in must have a symbolic meaning? Does it stand for the unfathomable and unknown that soon will be known?
The ‘Ocean’ refers to the fluidity of opinion being altered by waves of change, if you wish to look at it literally. I suppose it is the conceptual motion in water and the way it is never static, despite its mass and weight and that the blowing of the wind or the impact of a drop of rain can affect its movement. In some ways it’s the little guy vs. the big guy and that if enough little guys start to ‘rain’ then the ocean will change.
In which way do you cherish elitism, and who, in your opinion, would fall by the wayside if the revolution is getting started?
I think to me, elitism and selfishness are the main facets of social control. As such, the idea within our output is to invigorate people against the domineering elites. This is not some left wing, utopianist idea, rather a human right and need that we must exercise over those who would subjugate us all. Those who would fall by the wayside are those who would profit from your existence with no remorse.
What are the main points you would mention when it comes to the aspects of our subjugation (to whom or what, by the way)?
Monetary systems, governmental control, religions, banks, corporations or any establishment that would hold you back or subjugate your freedom or happiness in life.
It refers to how the dissenters and radicals have removed any domineering power hold over humanity and are “the true origin of all light”, or in reality, the key to a new enlightenment or a new way of living. So it is then, the brave few who light the fire in all, are the key to a new source of light. A little abstract, but nevertheless a poignant message.
What is the white star you speak about (or rather not) in 'White Star Acception'? Why does the music sound so somber and tragic here? Do you take 'acception' as in 'resignation'?
This song is actually a reference to secret organisations or rebellious factions and is a way of hinting that the murmerings of change from underground individuals and radicals can lead to bigger things that affect the fates of all for the better.
'A Burning Ember' makes one think of one last hope. I imagine a fight that has been lost, and the survivors are starting from scratch. Am I mistaken?
A burning ember is about the flame of control having been quenched (as in the previous song) and all that is left is a burning ember, which you would just throw away, or leave to fizzle out. It’s about the final absolution from tyranny; one light going out (that of evil old ways) and a new one beginning again.
Will you play live, or does that oppose your principles of staying in the background of attention?
I think the plan is that we will play live at some point in the future. As you are aware, we are all active members in other bands already, so we are playing live with them. When the right show and the right timing come together, you will see Nine Covens taking to the stage. For now, our new album ‘…On The Dawning Of Light’ is upon you through Candlelight Records. Familiarise yourself, for the path to clarity lies within!
interview by Andreas Schiffmann