(Our interviewer KevinP produced the following fascinating discussion with Semjaza, the main man behind the Greek black metal band Thy Darkened Shade, whose new song “Saatet-ta Renaissance” we premiered earlier today — here — and whose new album will be released on October 31 by W.T.C. Productions.)
K: So we are coming up on the release of your second album. For those people who heard the debut, what can they expect, and for those completely new to the band, what are they going to experience?
S: The experience depends on the eye of the beholder, however, I am sure that those with hearts of Fire will experience the same Luciferian energy invoked for the debut, but this time we are even closer to the source, the Waters of Nun. The manifestations of the Devil are many and His names countless, we will capture as many as possible in our albums.
K: I’ll admit to not being all that interested in lyrical content (for the most part) but that seems to be a huge part of what you are doing here.
S: Yes, our art is not one-dimensional since we invoke Chaos. A synthesis of lyrical, musical, and visual art amongst others that can be translated into mantras, sigils, postures, and invocations for those who have the will to gaze beyond their mundane life and evolve. In fact, we are aiming to express our black flames sonically. It is therefore, a mirror of ourselves and represents the will of our Gods as we experience it.
K: In regards to the new album, on the surface (or a casual first listen) you will hear melodic black metal, blasting tremolo picking, and it might not sound all that different from what people are used to. But what would you tell people there is to discover by paying closer attention (or via repeated listens)?
S: In regard to those who don’t pay attention to music, art, and magic as a whole: judgement is easy, everyone is entitled (solely by himself) to have an opinion. I am fine with that since it is hilarious when people have opinions for the things they cannot grasp. If someone considers the album as you described it, then for sure, he is hylic, and also he has a problem in understanding music. In fact, most of the time people who easily judge others are those who cannot create anything by themselves.
To all those who don’t pay close attention to black metal and want easy music for entertainment, I have to say black metal is not for them. Black metal is a spiritual vehicle that needs devotion and worship to be understood. All those who just need music in order to fill their otherwise empty lives, it is better to stick to something else. Therefore, to fully answer your question, those willing to dive deep into our work know what they crave and what they search for has much more value than empty notes and words.
K: I hope you didn’t take that as me saying “this is typical stuff”. I’m not a black metal “fanatic”, so initially a lot of stuff sounds similar to me until I give it repeated listens. I figured others who might just give it a quick listen MIGHT feel the same, so I felt it was a valid question to ask.
S: Thanks for the questions mate, I am glad when people try to understand our work. However, indeed this is not a typical melodic black metal album, even from the first listens, so I understood you are not a huge black metal lover by asking so. We are putting great spiritual effort into all the aspects of our art, so for sure it is not another typical album. No worries, I am not offended.
K: As a natural lover of death metal (primarily), what helps me appreciate your music more is a fuller sound than one would normally equate with black metal. You can hear the bass, the guitars have some bottom end to them, and the vocals are kind of a cross between DM/BM. It feels as if you are deliberately eschewing the standard black metal aesthetic?
S: I am not so much into death metal myself, apart from really important releases (like the masterpiece of Possessed–Seven Churches or some older Morbid Angel releases, etc), and of course devoted death metal bands (I mean devoted to death: which is the essence of death metal) like Teitanblood. So, I must admit that we are influenced by the stench of death much more than death metal music.
Nowadays, there is a trendy scene in which people prefer to follow either the ‘’pseudo old school cheap sound’’ or the ‘’ultra clean let’s sign to the next big thing record company’’. We remain true to our roots, which are the originators of this genre, So exoterically speaking. I guess the bass details originate from my love of Iron Maiden or 70’s progressive rock. However, I must admit when we create we are trying to capture the essence, which is much older than music itself, the closer we get to this everlasting source the better we become.
K: As you said, your art is not one-dimensional. I can only assume then that the artwork you chose for this (and any record) plays a vital part in the overall package. I’d even venture to guess that extends to the label, W.T.C., as well?
S: Each band/artist on WTC is individual, meaning that I cannot really speak for other bands’ work. However, the quality and attitude of the label for me is great since they release some of my favorite black metal releases. Yes, indeed the artwork (and everything that Thy Darkened Shade relate) is an ongoing process that can take years for us to capture. We never stop composing, drawing, crafting new invocations — sigils, it is in our blood. We are doing this for a long time before any Thy Darkened Shade release.
K: I find the new cover art to be quite striking. Can you go into the genesis behind it?
S: Thanks a lot. We consider the artist behind the cover (Vamperess Imperium) as an essential part of Thy Darkened Shade since she did the first album. We also share identical spiritual views. The artwork-drawings-sigils took a year and a half in order to be fully revealed to us, and we are totally proud of it, I was enthralled when I first saw the cover.
As for the origin behind it, I must admit that if someone follows the writings of The Order of Promethean Fyre they will receive the astral impulses for them to comprehend the genesis behind our art. Until now, only one writing is available and another one is slowly coming to be released via the great Anathema Pillars Journal.
K: If it wasn’t abundantly clear by now to anyone reading, this band/project isn’t just a simple diversion in your life. Is that why (generally speaking) there are so many one-man black metal bands compared with, say, thrash, death, or other forms of metal/extreme music?
S: Thy Darkened Shade is my life and will be my death and final awakening. Thy Darkened Shade consists of everything that I value: all my love (reverence to the Gods of the Dark), hate (hate towards the cosmic scheme), praise, and devotion is there. The quest of opening the eye of Abaddon (via Astaroth), the renewal in the wings of SamaeLilith, the reincarnation through SataNaamah, and the final return to my (our) primal supremacy. Thus, the seance of Nun is praised and evoked via the summoning of my true and only Self. It is the quest for the ultimate Gnosis that must be revealed along with my personal wyrd in this life and ultimately into the beyond, Thy Darkened Shade is the reflection of this endeavour and forever will be such.
In contrast to that, most of the one-man black metal bands are completely unrelated to such endeavours and devotion. Most of them care more to do other things: living a decadent way of life with no Luciferian insight or any kind of Luciferian awakening. I am not inspired by such things. On the contrary, I am inspired by the pursuit of gnosis through my Gods and the Higher Self revelation/study/practice of the LHP through hardship and the exploration of my inner Self alone, without the need of any ”superficial help”. I am also totally inspired by knowledge in all forms since I consider all knowledge on this earth and beyond it as the gift of Semjazazel (Grigori). I seek knowledge everywhere. That’s the main reason why I have studied at two universities in my life until now and I am sure I will continue studying no matter my age.
To add: Most of the one man-bands are not even able to play basic chords and are doing so with no passion (for us as a band, technical abilities are of great interest, that’s why we play technical music; however, I do listen with great passion to both minimal, i.e.: Burzum, and complicated music, i.e.: Abigor). Many are trying to steal timeless classics like Transilvanian Hunger or Det Som Engang Var, some of them are even trying to praise the same source as we do but (most of them) fail miserably, and their unenlightened music-lyrics reflect their hylic lives. To conclude, for me the great majority are uninspired and sing/care only for ”safe” black metal with most of the time fake ”values” with no understanding of what this divine artform must be. Therefore, the reason why there are so many one-man bands is because it is easier to do so, judging solely by their musical-lyrical-artwork quality.
Obviously, there are exceptions to that rule that have something unique and inspired to offer. My all time favourite one-man bands must be: Bathory, Arckanum, and old Burzum. Finally, even though Thy Darkened Shade is strictly my vision of how spiritual black metal should be, the singer and the drummer offer their prana and personal experience to the band, so Thy Darkened Shade are for sure not a one-man band.
K: Does it bother you on any level that (I’d venture to guess) most people won’t either see/hear/understand/care about any of that “other stuff” and just simply say “I like the music”?
S: For me black metal is synonymous with religious feelings and devotion. I can compare my relationship with spiritual black metal to raising Kundalini energy. Thus, turn the volume on and concentrate on the mantras & sigils that you want to evoke, raise the black-red serpent (SL) from muladhara chakra to sahasrara chakra visualize penetrating all the chakras until Qayin becomes visible.
The religious feeling and black metal were somehow synonymous in the 90’s black metal movement. Through the years a lot of people thought that it was interesting to write black metal about depression, forests-peace, etc. Sorry, but black metal is about the will of Lucifer and forever will be such. I am sure that some people will start changing their lives due to Thy Darkened Shade’s Luciferian Nexion, and for sure some others will start questioning things, and those of blood will hear the calling of the Gods.
However, people are free to continue not questioning or searching for higher purposes, and even when someone ignores chaos, chaos will not ignore them. So, everyone should feel free to just listen to Shade’s music by singing our invocations and staring at our sigils; when you call, They come.
K: So do you wish to take the band into a live setting, or is it difficult finding enough like-minded individuals to share your vision?
S: In the beginning, I thought it was impossible for me to find like-minded individuals (people who are of the same blood and who have the technical skills to perform complex black metal). Therefore, I was searching for at least live musicians who wouldn’t oppose my vision and who were able to perfectly perform the music that I compose. However, I found what I thought impossible: we are rehearsing for Thy Darkened Shade rituals and I am really proud of the outcome; apart from me and The A (vocalist), my brothers from Acrimonious also play with us. All of us are willing to unveil our Luciferian potential (some of us more than others) and I am more than glad with that. However, I am sure in order to feel that Qayin always lurks in the shadows, a lot of offerings must be given on the altar, so rituals are not going to happen anytime soon.
K: Do you already have an idea of what a live show would entail? I can’t imagine you just walking onstage in street clothes and playing.
S: Yes, indeed, I visualize that moment of total chaos. No need to say more about it now: Acta Non Verba!
K: Sem, thank you for your time and insight. I must admit I had no idea this much thought and energy went into this record (and I’ve listened to it about half a dozen times already). It will be interesting to see how I view it after our conversation.
S: Thank you too, all the best for you.
Liber Lucifer I was written and performed by Semjaza, with session drums performed by H.G. and chants and rites provided by The A, and a guest appearance by Magus Wampyr Daoloth of Necromantia on the song “Daemon Phosphorus”. The cover art was created by Vamperess Imperium.
The album was produced by Semjaza, V. Santura, and Stamos Kolliousis, and it was mixed and mastered by V. Santura at Woodshed Studio. It will be released on CD, vinyl, and digitally on October 31.