(Comrade Aleks brings us this interview with Stuart West of the German doom titans Obelyskkh.)
Bulky and massive, Obelyskkh rises over the German doom scene like a mammoth ancient extraterrestrial ship. The band experiments over its own distorted and transmutated form of psychedelic doom metal, mixing within their songs elements of different subgenres and retelling through their songs myths and archetypes of the past. There are three albums in Obelyskkh’s discography, and musically they’re different though united with the idea of experiments, improvisation, and dark unearthly vision. Their third album Hymn to Pan was released in 2013, so I was wondering if they planned to release something new. It was difficult, but finally Stuart “The WhizKid” West (guitars, synth) answered my questions.
Hail Stuart! How are you there? What does winter 2016 bring to Obelyskkh?
Hey bro, first I have to thank you for the interview. You can expect the impact of a brand new album and a tour to Poland later this year !!!
The news on the band’s page promises us in the year 2016 a new Obelyskkh album, “an epic journey into clustering darkness, mix between majestic hymns and hypnotic, gloomy lovecraftian riffs”. It sounds really promising. What is your progress now?
We are still in the studio and recording some sweet, sweet tunes. Since we had a change in our line-up (new bass-player), we have now the potential to add more darknesss, melody, and some progressive parts in our music.
It is also said that you’re going “to conquer new territories” on this record. What kind of changes in your sound should we expect? Is there any place in doom space where Obelyskkh hasn’t cast its shadow?
Compared to the past, we now have more compact song structures. Less one-riff endless boredoom, more groove-laden mid-tempo crushers. In my opinion our singer Crazy Woitek did his most versatile job on vocals – less growls and screams – more subtle melodies and some catchy parts. But we still have our old trademarks. The new stuff is still an Obelyskkh album with some decent changes.
Your previous album Hymn to Pan already had some original experiments which distinguish it from the White Lightnin’ album, for exampl. What is Obelyskkh’s core after all?
The engine behind our work is the love of many kinds of music. And we are easily bored when it comes to mediocrity. There are so many musical territories to explore, from super-cheesy synthie sounds to harsh noise attacks, from massive low-end riffs to heavenly psychedelic freak-outs. From evil shouts to super-melodic sing-a-longs!!!
Obelyskkh – The White Lightning
Can you name three songs from each of your three albums which show the best of Obelyskkh in each of its periods?
Three Songs ?! — All of our songs are pure genius and brilliant. I’m very serious with that answer ….. grin: “Horned God”, “Mount Nysa” and “The Ravens”.
Some people describe your music as psychedelic doom, some name it post-doom, some believe that you’re into stoner or sludge metal. What is your choice after all?
We are a super-heavy version of Kansas and Marillion for the grim!!! Hahahahahaha!!!! I would describe the whole shizzle as heavy music. Nothing else.
You told about “lovecraftian riffs” and there is a song “Invocation to the Old Ones” on your second album White Lightnin’. How does Lovecraft’s legacy manifest itself in your music?
Well, there is a big movement with the whole occult stuff. Lots of bands put some occult themes in their music to sound important. My opinion: since Paul Chain, nothing really “occult” has happened in the doom scene.
We just like the obscure and weird atmosphere of Lovecraft’s work.
There are also Greek mythology influences in the lyrics of some Obelyskkh songs; what attracts you in their beliefs? And how do you interpret it in your music?
We love the whole Greek mythological stuff — and it’s perfect to mix the stories with majestic tunes!!! It’s like a soundtrack for a movie never made!!!
Mythological topics go hand-in-hand with drug stuff in your songs. What role does it play in your creative processes? Or is it only a cliché of this genre?
It is super-generic cliché and shameless self-promotion 😉 Hahahahahahhaha!!!!!
Obelyskkh was grown in Bavaria, one of the most charismatic region of Germany. How does it reflect in your songs?
We are exactly from Franconia!!! It is a very nice and relaxed place to live!! Lots of nature, and damn good food’n’beer. I prefer the provincial atmosphere compared to hip city life like Berlin. It keeps your mind free from a stressful inner-city life. It is very nice to do music in a laid-back atmosphere!
It’s not a secret that the EU has problems with immigrants today, and some laws have been hardened. Does it inflict Obellyskkh’s touring activity?
Normally I try to avoid political statements in relation with the band — Obelyskkh is an apolitical band with apolitical content. It is my own opinion (but 100% of the band members would agree with this opinion).
I think it is a huge lack of humanity in our Western culture. People build fences and walls in front of refugees to defend their self-proclaimed “culture”!!! I’m ashamed to live in a world full of Trumps, Putins, Orbans, and Erdogans!! These people deliver very simple (and stupid) answers to complex problems. Weird times, weird people.
Obelyskkh – Horned God
Sometimes reality is far from our expectation, but still some of us believe that loud bands spend their tours also damned loud. What are your most crazy impressions from your tour experience?
The weirdest thing — how people can smell after one day on tour!!!! But most of the time it is very boring in our huge nightliner with all the girls, drugs, and drinks. Life can be soooooo hard!!!!
What does the band give to you? Is it a therapy, a form of communication, an art, or something else?
Being in a band could be heaven and hell at the same time!!! It is like a relationship with all highs and lows.
I really love the moment of creation – when you play a riff for the first time and you have this stupid grin on your face – you know, that riffs slays big time!!!!! We are no artsy-fartsy artists with a intellectual background or message – we just love MUSIC + RIFFS!!!!!!!!
Thanks so much Aleks for your support and this nice interview. Thanks so much to our friends/fans supporting us for many years. We would be nothing without you.
To all our followers of the Obelyskkh Ritual, say your prayers, take your vitamins, and you will never go wrong.