photo credit: MUSIFOTO
(A couple months ago our man DGR gave a very positive review of Exilium, the new album by Spain’s Noctem, and today we bring you his e-mail interview of the band’s frontman, Beleth.)
Although most people reading this will already have some inkling of who you are, I figured I would get a quick introduction out of the way for people who may not do well with the rosters of most of the bands they listen to. So let’s get a quick identification as to who you are, what role you play within the band, and how long you’ve been part of Noctem?
Beleth: Ok, I’m Beleth, vocalist of Noctem, founding member along with Exo and obviously I’ve been working in the band from the beginning in 2001. Although 2007 is what we call the real beginning of Noctem.
It seems like some bands will unintentionally release trilogies in terms of sound in their discographies, where they usually play with the same ideas for about three albums and then the fourth is a sudden shift or some crazy new idea for them. However, Noctem seem to have shifted toward a much more menacing, faster, and sleeker sound compared to the more bludgeoning works of something like Divinity — all over the span of three albums. Do you see this trend continuing?
Beleth: I think Noctem these past 6 years have followed an extreme line, that has served to find a more personal sound. Our style has not changed, but it is now more extreme and more mature than our beginnings with Divinity.
You guys have also pulled heavily from mythology for inspiration in your works. Much of Exilium has references to it, and Oblivion played with mythology and history from Guatemala. How does Noctem find its ideas? Do you often find yourselves scouring the web for old texts to read and occasionally finding yourself going, “You know, there’s a concept for a disc here”?
Beleth: Actually yes, I spend hours and hours looking for the proper Thematic for each album, choosing topics and writing lyrics. It’s not easy, we never wanted to talk about well-worn topics such as anti-Christianism, Countess Bathory, etc, you know what I’m talking about. These are typical themes that many bands are always dealing with.
(In this post DGR reviews the new album by Spain’s Noctem.)
Spain’s Noctem are one of those bands that, in my mind, have improved with each album throughout their career. Every disc has been better than the last, and the band — often feeling especially scrappy due to a staunch refusal to give any ground on their aesthetics and lyrical themes — have always found ways to contort their music to fit the blisteringly fast, fire-hot riffing of their blackened death metal. Noctem have had a penchant for sounding like a huge band over the years and, through whatever means of sorcery, have always managed to incorporate high production values in their music and videos. As their career has progressed, their preference for the epic and grandiose has increased, moving them into murkier waters with regard to genre but always keeping things exciting.
Divinity was my starting point for the band. I found the disc to be a massive slab of death metal, almost like a granite rock falling upon the listener, going from zero to one hundred in the blink of an eye and then staying there for the whole album. Definitely good for a super-quick hit, but a full listen could sometimes get arduous and you really had to be in the mood for it. The followup, Oblivion, rectified a lot of that whilst also making the move from song to song more dynamic. It was on the strength of that disc that I found myself excited for the March release of Exilium.
Even though a bit of time has passed since the disc was released, the delay in writing about it is largely because we’ve really been savoring the album over at NCS. It is, once again, a marked improvement over the group’s previous albums that also sees quite a few smaller experiments paying huge dividends for the full listening experience.
As previously advised, I’m on the road again in the grasp of my fucking day job, but I did carve out some time to make the rounds in search of new things and, as usual, found quite a lot to like. Because time is short, I’ll divide what I found into two posts, this being the first.
HOUR OF PENANCE
Almost exactly two years have passed since Italy’s Hour of Penance delivered their last album, Sedition, which was excellent. Today the band announced details about the release of their next album: The name is Regicide, and it will be coming our way via the Prosthetic label on May 13 in North America (May 12 in the UK and EU, May 16 in Germany).
From a previous Facebook post by the band, I know that the album art was created by the same Gyula Havancsák (Hjules Illustration and Design), whose work for Arkona’s new album we featured here recently. He also created the covers for HoP’s Sedition and Paradogma.
Noctem are from Valencia, Spain. Their 2011 album Oblivion was a favorite of this site (Andy Synn reviewed it here and named it to one of his lists of 2011′s top albums). Noctem are now ramping up for the release of a new album entitled Exilium, which will be available in North America on March 3. Last week we featured an advance track from the album named “Eidolon”, which has been streaming on SoundCloud, and now the band have also provided a worm-ridden lyric video for the song.
I’ve been spinning this song a lot since first hearing it. To quote what I wrote about it last week, it explodes with percussive ferocity, bestial roars, and winding riffs. Equal parts thunderous death metal and ripping melodic black metal, the music has an air of monstrous grandeur counterbalanced by a dark, swirling guitar melody — and it includes a brief, surprising acoustic interlude. It’s a riveting listen, and the track is such a grabber that I’ve already added it as a candidate for our list of 2014′s “Most Infectious Songs”.
In the words of frontman/songwriter Beleth, “‘Eidolon’ talks about the ancient Sumerian demons Thamuz and Ereshkigal, which is the queen of the underworld; destruction of the earth and proclamation of a self-destructive and anti-Christian ideology”. Gaze upon the lyric video next and let the music infest your head.
Collected in this round-up are a few new videos and songs I came across over the last 24 hours that I thought were worth your time. This is the first of a two-part “Seen and Heard”. More recommended new things will appear later today.
I’m a big fan of Finland’s Stam1na, but despite the fact that I really do enjoy their music, I always finding myself writing about them because of their videos (previous posts collected here). And I write about their videos because they’re so damned funny. And here I am again, writing about yet another Stam1na video — but not for the usual reasons.
This one premiered yesterday (credit to TheMadIsraeli for tipping me to it) and it’s for a song named “Panzerfaust” from their new album SLK (due for release on Feb 7). Man, did I get a surprise. First, the song hits like a blowtorch opened all the way up — a jolting piece of jabbing, hammering, thrashing mayhem with a swirling finger-tapped guitar melody and a stomping martial finish. When choral voices and militaristic chants aren’t being heard, Antti Hyyrynen’s vehement voice is raking like sharpened claws.
Here are things I saw and heard today.
I saw a temperature gauge at high noon here in The Emerald City: 63°F. And the sun is shining. All of you poor fuckers who are broiling like burgers on a charcoal grill everywhere east of the Pacific Coast can hate me now, and along about January you can remind me that I made this obnoxious crack at your expense.
I saw that awesomely phantasmagoric piece of artwork up above. It’s by Ken Sarafin of Sarafin Concepts. It’s for a death metal project called Bunch, of which Sarafin seems to be a member — one of many. Here’s this description from the Bunch FB page: “Bunch is a band formed from 28 different members, each playing one note a song. Occasionally during recording, a member might repeat a note several times. If that happens, a break with cookies is required afterwards. Bunch likes cookies.”
There are a bunch of Bunch demo tracks at this location. I picked one to stream after the jump.
(Earlier this week, Metal Injection published a discourse on The 10 Most Lethal Weapons In Black Metal. In the introduction to the article, the author alluded to the reasons why certain kinds of weaponry have been associated with the genre. Now we get the author’s full explanation — a Part 1, if you will, to the Part 2 piece that appeared at Metal Injection. At NCS, you know the prolific author as Rev. Will. In the course of his research, he consulted members of Noctem, Sigh, and Edge of Paradise, as well as the Vegan Black Metal Chef.)
Funnily enough, whenever black metal weaponry floats to the surface of the perpetually random sea of thoughts slushing about in my head, the next thing that invariably comes to mind is the “bling-bling” of hip-hop culture. Before the elitists out there start coming down on me with the wrath of Satan’s cheeseburger, consider for a moment the following comparison.
Now, I am not insinuating that there is a musical similarity between both genres. What I would like to point out is that just as bling-bling is the Statue of Liberty of hip-hop, black metal weaponry is very much an iconic part of black metal that serves as the first graphic reference for most people’s memory banks when they try to recollect what they can of the grim metal sub-genre (someone ought to give it a catchy name too, maybe “cling-clang”). Just as many hip-hop artistes are famous within the mainstream music circle for their overly-flashy jewelry, black metal musicians are infamous within the underground music community for their ostentatious weapons as well.
Over time, both sets of accessories have evolved from merely being elements of sub-genre attire into cultural movements of their own. Bling-bling and cling-clang are both usually made of metal, but that’s where the similarity between both cultural movements stops. Unsurprisingly, for a sub-genre and cultural movement as pessimistic and misanthropic as black metal, its proliferation in the early ‘90s even had the occasional political motive—something much of hip-hop has left far behind since its early days.
(As we continue to barrel ahead toward the end of 2011, we continue our Listmania series, looking back on the year’s best metal. In this post, we have two lists of favorite albums from members of Spain’s Noctem — lead guitarist Exo and vocalist Beleth. Noctem is one of our favorites here at NCS — check out Andy Synn’s review of their fantastic 2011 album here and his interview of Beleth here, and you can watch their new music video for “The Arrival of the False Gods” in this post.)
1-Obscura - Omnivium
Really liked their previous album, but this one blew my mind, really complex and original at the same time.
2-Decapitated - Carnival Is Forever
These Polish guys still impress me. This album sounds more modern and includes some kind of hardcore influences. The result of a brutal procreation between old Decapitated and Meshuggah.
Just so that last post featuring me tooting my own horn about myself doesn’t linger at the top of the NCS site for the next 8 1/2 hours until tomorrow’s first scheduled post, I have this official video, just released, from the most excellent Noctem, whose new album Oblivion our most excellent Andy Synn reviewed here and who Andy also interviewed here.
The featured song is called “The Arrival of the False Gods”, which Andy described as “all piledriving rhythms and violent vocal catharsis whose brooding guitar adds a palpable sense of menace to the proceedings”. If you’re an epileptic off your meds or have a moral problem with bands who play with pig heads on stage and eat pig organs during the performance, don’t watch this.
P.S. My interview by The Number of the Blog can be found via THIS LINK.
(NCS writer Andy Synn follows his review of the new album by Spain’s Noctem with an interview.)
After my recent review of the rather excellent Oblivion (HERE) by Spanish extremists Noctem, I have been emailing back and forth with the band’s guitarist (and general mastermind) Exo, garnering some background information on the group’s formation, transformation and the creative process which informed both their debut release and their latest album.
A thoroughly pleasant and clearly passionate individual, Exo passed my questions on to his dedicated partner-in-crime, lead singer Beleth, who has been with Exo since the band’s inception. After the jump you can read the responses Beleth provided to my email interrogation, offering his own distinct perspective on the group’s past, present and future . . .