(One of our Norway-based contributors, Karina Noctum, conducted the following interview with members of the Swedish black metal band Mephorash at this year’s Inferno Festival. The band are at work on a highly anticipated new album, which follows 2015’s 1557 – Rites of Nullification.)
Karina: You have released a single that belongs to your fourth upcoming album. Have you finished it or are you producing it?
Mishbar Bovmeph: We are almost finished. We are working wrapping the whole album up and hopefully we will release it towards autumn this year.
K: Who will be producing it?
M.B: We are producing everything together with our studio guy. He is a personal friend of ours who has a studio at home.
Mashkelah M’ Ralaa: He doesn’t record much else than us. Lars Hultman productions. It’s nothing famous.
K: What about the music? Is it going to be a little bit different from the past albums?
M.M: Both yes and no, I would say. It’s much of the same style and feeling that we have had. The concept and theme and everything, but we are also evolving the sound by trying new concepts and approaches. Different ways of building the songs I’d say.
K: Is it going to be a change in the dynamics of it?
M.B: Just the same way as our previous album 1557, we do have the dynamic in creating atmosphere and building up towards majestic parts that really stand out, and in this album we have a lot more of that in a way, but at the same time we still have the same dynamic, but it has evolved in a way, perhaps more refined and more powerful in a lot of ways.
We learned what works and what doesn’t during our 8 years of existing, we have understood where we want to go with the music and how we want it. What feelings we want to express and I think we have become pretty skilled in getting forward that exact feeling that we really touch on it in that way. Sometimes you get this idea or concept, or feeling in a moment, and there are no words to express it. So mostly with the music we try to catch those feelings and try to express those spiritual ideas that you can’t explain with words, and then we combine it together with our philosophies, occultism and esotericism.
K: I think that when it comes to the live sound, you succeed. It has a depth to it. It’s not plain. Is it difficult to set it up?
M.M: It used to be; in the beginning it was. Back in the days it took some time to create the atmosphere we create for ourselves on the stage, but nowadays actually it’s as natural as tying our own shoes. We have done this so many times and we know each other so well that we create a perfect combination.
M.B: It’s like any craftsmanship, like smithing. The first swords you create are gonna be bad, but it’s going to get better and better. That’s what I think we have achieved, that we have honed our craft so well that we just have to step on stage and we get the right feelings and the right mindset. It’s really important that you have everything; we don’t want to perform if we can’t give all of the stuff that we have. Like we want to use fire, and if the venue says we can’t use it, we don’t want to play that show even if it’s good PR, it’s not worth it. Because we want to give the crowd and ourselves the whole Mephorash experience.
K: I’ve been reading a bit about occult stuff lately, a book from Thomas Karlsson called Qabalah, Qliphoth and Goetic Magic. I know occultism plays a huge role in your lyrics, but I don’t know how much you would like to tell me about the subject since it’s rather abstract…
M.B: Our views on that stuff are that it is not something that you can explain to someone else because everyone has their own journey. I think that building occult teachings is wrong in many ways because it’s not supposed to be like a cult. We are not supposed to tell anyone what they should think or feel about mysticism because it is your own journey towards enlightenment. So for me to tell you what it means for me doesn’t make any sense because you have to interpret it your own way, and of course you can read all the books and in the end you have to get your own views on it. The best way to do that is to read Laval’s books because we worked pretty close to it in our music and our lyrics, and we are inspired by his books and his works, and then listen to our music and read our lyrics and then I think you will get things together in that way.
M.M: I think it creates a division between information and wisdom. You could read every book the guy has ever written and he has magnificent books, and has everything from pretty complex rituals involving every sort of spiritual aspect you could ever come across and then… I mean you can do every ritual on that book, but that doesn’t matter at all. I mean he did write the lyrics for Rites of Nullification. All those are incantations, the negation of the four elements. But all of these are incantations for rituals that are being performed while we play our songs, and you can view the song as a song. You can read the lyrics and go in-depth into it. You really need to experience it. When other people are there to experience it, it gets more powerful.
M.B: It gains more energy. Every song in Rites of Nullification is one ritual, the whole album together becomes a rite. You don’t really have to understand the lyrics because it’s the whole of the songs with the music and the words together that becomes the experience.
K: What about the hand movements of the main vocalist, are those a part of the ritual?
M.M: To be honest I don’t really control that. I’m in a weird state of trance when I do that. A lot of people have come and said they are sort of hypnotized by it. I know some people in the audience get affected by the things that are happening and in a way I don’t really know why it’s happening, but for some reason it feels natural when it has and people enjoy it. I get some of it that I can’t remember afterwards. When you go on stage it’s pretty strange because you lose control. It’s like being a passenger in your own body. It’s like you view what’s happening but you can’t control it. It’s pretty strange.
M.B: I think, nonetheless, this kinda happens to every performer in some way because it is a different world, especially when you mask your everyday persona and become even more powerful, but no one knows it’s you. It could be anyone. That’s a part of being so real to the core.
Photo by Elvira Andersson Saringe
K: What about the sigils on stage, would you like to tell me what those mean?
M.B: Those are also coherent with Rites of Nullification. It’s all coherent with the album, and empowers what we stand for and who we are as persons. It’s a symbol for everything. Then we have the centerpiece which is the Mephorash sigil, but he has made all the sigils that go with the invocations and the lyrics that we do basically. Those sigils are in Laval’s Black Magic Invocation of the Shem Ha Mephorash, but there is another book that he has written and I don’t think it has been released yet, but that book is called Rites of Nullification that is an in-depth explanation of both the album and what he meant by it.
K: What about the lyrics in the new album? Who wrote that?
M.B: It’s a mixed effort. He has written one of the songs. The album is going to be called Shamah Mephorash, which came very naturally, and the lyrics for the title song were written by G. de Laval. The other ones have been a mixed effort between him and me.
K: Which criteria do you use when it comes to choosing which songs you are going to play live?
M.M: We want to play as many new songs as we can basically. I think every artist feels that the old songs kind of get old when you play them a million times.
M.B: You want to evolve in the sense of writing new songs in the studio, but you also want to evolve live and give another experience which hopefully is more powerful than the last one. You want to put in new songs and challenge yourself because you never know what’s going to happen when you are going to play a new song. That feeling when you play a new song live is so indescribable and so powerful. You are experiencing a whole new thing yourself, together with the audience. It’s a pretty powerful thing, so basically we try to pick songs that also work together, but also try to exchange the old songs for new ones.
K: Who’s is going to be behind the new album’s artwork?
M.B: It has been made by Jose Gabriel Alegría Sabogal. He is an amazing artist, and I have never seen anything quite like his works. When I first saw the artwork made by him I immediately said we have to use this guy. He has almost finished every art piece for the new album as well, which you can see on the single that we have released, The Third Woe. He made everything, and every piece he makes is so indescribable, amazing, and he really cares. Most artists you work with, they want to get the artwork done and get it over with. But Jose Gabriel really takes time and talks to us in order to find what we want to say with the artwork. We work really closely, and he really cares about the project in a deep way which I appreciate very much, because that’s the most important thing, that the artist creates his art for the specific purpose that we want. It basically matches the whole album and it couldn’t be any better.
K: Anything else you’d like to add?
M.B: When the new album comes out, if someone want to distract him or herself from the world, you just need to listen from the beginning to the end without interruption because that’s the way it’s meant to be listened to. I’m sure no one is going to be disappointed by it.
I’m really excited for this album. I really enjoyed Rites of Nullification, and I’ve been listening to and had “The Third Woe” stuck in my head ever since the first time I heard it a few months ago. If it’s any indication of the rest of the album, it’s going to be a pretty amazing experience.
I have high hopes for this album, the band hasn’t disappointed so far!
Great interview. The new track sounds great, loved the Rites of Nullification, eager to hear the new album. I had no idea Rites was based on a book of the same name, makes me curious to peruse said book