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.
While we’re referencing subject matter, what are the themes and ideas that Noctem are playing with on Exilium?
Beleth: Exilium closes the trilogy that began with Divinity. In this third album we talk about Summerian and Acadian Mythology, with humanity as the worm which rots this land, eating and consuming it mercilessly.
Noctem’s videos have been pretty warm in the color pallet — a lot of red, yellows, oranges, and browns — and the group is usually in some disgusting and hot place, surrounded by fire sometimes. If we were to pull a complete 180 and put you guys in a frozen, frigid wasteland, which Exilium song do you think would best lend itself to that sort of surrounding for a video?
Beleth: I think “The Adamantine Doors”. Anyway I like it — I would not rule out the idea of a frozen wasteland.
I know this is like asking someone to pick their favorite child, but since the disc has been out for a bit now, which song do you still find yourself really excited about on Exilium, the one that you’re really interested in seeing the fans’ reactions to when you break it out live?
Beleth: I think one of the best songs for me is “Eidolon”, and no doubt people do get really crazy with this song live. It conveys a lot of aggression and cruelty. People know it, and this song has become an identifying mark of the band. “Eidolon” is 110% Noctem.
While we’re on a brief live tangent, what song would you love to break out that has been hibernating in the vault for some time? Any deep cuts that have never been played that you would love to try out at least once?
Beleth: We haven’t performed “Universal Disorder” for a long time. It’s a cool song and a lot of people like it. Well, usually the set list is decided by Exo and me, so we always play all the songs we want hahaha.
With guitarist Nekros as the somewhat new blood to the crew, with a little over a year racked up at this point, how has it been working with him? Has it been good bouncing ideas off of each other while working on music?
Beleth: It is not easy find people who fit in well fast. At first, the band is something that takes time. All musicians know that this is a lifestyle that requires sacrifice, and not all people have the same dedication, so we are forced sometimes to change members. Nekros is a good musician.
Do you guys still have the mask your drummer was rocking during the Divinity days? How relentlessly hot was that thing getting?
Beleth: No, luckily he left with it. I never liked that, I told him thousands of times to take it off, hoping one day he would die on stage.
For the gear nerds and tone chasers out there: What setup are you currently playing with at the moment?
Beleth: Well, Exo, Ul, and Nekros use ESP guitars and Diezel and ENGL amps, and also use ENGL cabinets. Ul uses EBS for his equipment and LTD for his bass. Vhert smashes Saluda cymbals. And I use Sure SM 58, but it’s always covered in blood.
The outfits and regalia that you guys wear have been a huge part of Noctem for some time now, with each album seeing grander ideas and more ornate outfits — especially you. You seem to be drowning under a swath of furs at this point. Who does the band go to for these designs?
Beleth: All the latest designs have been created by Ary Angelique, a famous designer from Valencia, our home town. This last time we used two kinds of outfits, one for live shows and another one for the photo sessions. We really need more capacity of movement onstage, and the skins and leathers were not helping too much.
Now I have just destroyed pants and I can move better on the stage.
I ask this question of a lot of interviewees because I suspect that they may have a feel for the pulse of their music scenes better than we ever could — simply due to playing shows, sharing practice spots, and so on. Are there any bands out of your area that we should be keeping an eye on that haven’t been grabbing much notice?
Beleth: Tons of bands; just take a look, Dulcamara, Killus, Skala de Richter, L’endevi, Divino Disturbo…
Of course, we also must ask if there have been any other albums you’ve been jamming the fuck out of at this moment. I know a lot of musicians tend not to have enough time to explore, but I also like seeing what sort of stuff they might have discovered that we wouldn’t have heard otherwise.
Beleth: Yes, of course, Oinos from the Spanish band Cuélebre. It’s Medieval Folk music and I fucking love it.
Spain has quite a diverse array of groups, Eternal Storm and Wormed being two that immediately spring to mind on this end, yet it’s a nation from which bands seem to have a little difficulty getting out into the global spotlight. Do you think it’s a potential language barrier issue, or simply not enough listeners locked into that region just yet?
Beleth: I think it’s not a matter of the audience, I think it is a matter of major labels and major music companies, they shit on Spanish bands. In Spain there is a very good scene. When bands come out here, they are very well received, they are supported, people go to concerts, purchasing merchandising and albums. But when we say we are a metal band from Spain, larger labels say… not Scandinavia? ok, this is not interesting, and to the eyes of the labels you are like a Japanese band playing country music haha, really hard to find their support.
photo credit: (c) Fotografia Borja Alonso
Are you guys hitting the road anytime soon? Any places where people can get the chance to see you live in the next few months?
Beleth: I can’t talk too much about that because the dates are getting closed right now, but soon we will be on the road again with a good quantity of gigs and destruction going so far, and visiting cities where we have never played before.
Finally, where can we find you guys at the moment online? Twitter, Facebook, Bandcamp, one of the other four thousand social services out there? The Official website? Lets see all the links.
Beleth: For sure bro, you can follow the band here:
Thanks so much for sitting down to talk with us! We really appreciate it!
Beleth: Thanks to you for this great and very funny interview.