(We present Comrade Aleks‘ interview of Mark Anderson, guitarist/vocalist of the Kansas-based death/doom band Bestialord, whose second album was released last June by GrimmDistribution.)
It’s said that Bestialord raised its head in 2016, but when you see Mark Anderson (guitars, vocals) and Chris Johnson (drums) in the same band, Sanctus Infernum comes to mind. It’s their previous blackened death doom outfit, which seems to have beem put on hold in about 2014 after eight years of darkness, blasphemy, and death. So Mark and Chris, alongside Rob Harris, started this new project, and look — GrimmDistribution released Bestialord’s sophomore record a few months ago. The Black Mass Wedding album still displays a few Sanctus Infernum features, but it has its own individuality as well. Let’s make it clear with Mark.
Hi Mark! What’s going on in your lair? How is it in Wichita?
Hello! All is well here in Wichita. At present we’re busy writing songs for the next album, which we plan to start recording in January. We’re also exploring the possibility of doing some live shows in 2020 as well.
A bit of history… Wichita was founded in 1868, and you and Chris created the band in 2016. What was on your mind? What kind of concept did you have for the band?
Originally it was just going to be a side recording project with a Traditional Heavy Metal vibe. At that time we had a different bassist and vocalist, however things didn’t work out with them. We tried out several other vocalists after that but nothing really jelled. Ultimately we decided that I should just do the vocals, which definitely altered the original direction of the project.
Hah… Natural disaster! Do you want to return to the initial idea of performing traditional heavy metal in another project?
Maybe in the future if the right opportunity presents itself. At present I’m very happy with what we’re doing in with Bestialord.
Sanctus Infernum seems on hold now. Do you see Bestialord as a continuation of the same ideas in less extreme forms?
I hadn’t thought about it but I guess it is to some extent. There is no defined direction musically, we just go with what sounds good to us. I didn’t write all of the lyrics in Sanctus Infernum but the what I did write was rooted in occult and horror themes, much like they are in Bestialord.
Sanctus Infernum had a sort of “satanic” image — does Bestialord hold to this theme too?
There is a thread of that running through both. It’s just a matter of how you perceive it.
How do you perceive it? Or are you meaning that your texts are open for interpretation?
We never tried to present a specific image with either project. Some of the subject matter is certainly open to interpretation. Other things are more unambivalent.
Bestialord – Vermin
Rob Harris (bass) joined you in 2017. What’s his musical background? How did you meet each other?
Chris brought Rob into the mix. They’ve been acquainted for a long time. Rob has virtually the same influences that we have, as well as being a very cool guy and easy to work with.
Did you already have the songs on Law Of The Burning written when Rob entered Bestialord? How fast did you actually complete that first album?
The songs were all written by the time Rob got involved. Once it was determined I was going to do the vocals it came together within a few months.
The album got positive feedback, and critics pointed out its roots in early death doom from the late ’80s. How do you see the pillars of Bestialord’s sound?
We’re very much influenced by bands like Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Candlemass, Death, Manilla Road, King Diamond, Hellhammer, Morbid Angel, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Bathory, etc. There are really too many to list. Obviously ’80s Metal is at the foundation of our sound.
Do you feel what you’ve resurrected this ’80s spirit authentically? In other words, are you satisfied with the album?
We’re not really trying to resurrect anything, we’re just doing what we do. We’re happy with what we’ve done so far, but at the same time we’re always looking forward to what comes next. We really enjoy the creative process and the journey that comes along with it.
By the way, how did you manage to get this amount of reviews? Did Symbol of Domination Prod. help a lot with promotion? How intensively did you push the release yourselves?
We pushed it as much as we could ourselves , but Symbol of Domination did a great job with the promotion. As did Cimmerian Shade Recordings who co-released it. Qabar Extreme Music PR was also involved and did excellent work.
Your next album Black Mass Wedding was released by GrimmDistribution in June 2019. This album was finished pretty fast. Did you already have too much stuff left after the first album’s recording or were you just so inspired that new songs appeared easily and naturally?
A little of both. I wrote a few songs while we were recording Law Of The Burning. After we finished with recording I was very inspired and songs came together very quickly.
There’s just one year between Law Of The Burning and Black Mass Wedding, so it’s hard to tell about much progression, but how do you see the technical differences between albums?
I’m not sure I have an answer for that. We jumped into recording Black Mass Wedding so quickly that I never really analyzed the differences. Production-wise there are some subtle differences in the tone of the instruments, etc. Recording Black Mass Wedding felt much easier and smoother, probably because we were so inspired and dialed into the recording process.
There’s a song called “Dr. Phibes” on the album. Is it based on that old movie with Vincent Price? Do you have other songs with plots borrowed from horror cinematography?
Yes, I’m a big Vincent Price fan. I get a lot of inspiration from old horror movies. The idea for Black Mass Wedding actually came from an Italian movie called The Devil’s Wedding Night, although the lyrics aren’t really based on the movie. “Coven Of The Dead” was inspired by an Orson Welles film called Necromancy. Law Of The Burning has a couple of cinema-inspired songs as well. “I Am Pain” is based on the Pinhead character from Hellraiser and “Above The Vaulted Sky” is based on Ingrid Pitts‘ portrayal of Mircalla Karnstein in The Vampire Lovers.
There are good modern horror films that have appeared from time to time – VVitch (2015), Void, thrillers like Mandy and Possum and a few more. Don’t modern movies inspire you as much as old ones?
There are some excellent modern movies for sure. It’s not that modern movies aren’t inspiring, it’s just a matter of not being inspired by one as of yet. That could very well change in the near future.
Bestialord – This World My Tomb
What’s your attitude toward lyrics writing? Are the words important alongside the music? A lot of bands don’t care that much about it, so I’m wondering if you have different approach.
To me the song is always better if all elements work well together. It makes no sense not to put equal importance on lyrics and music. A good song to me is the sum of all of its parts.
You’re from Kansas, butt how often do you play there? Do you aim on touring with Bestialord?
We haven’t played live yet with Bestialord. We’ve been in such a good place in terms of writing and recording that we just decided to focus on that for the time being. However we’ve been looking very seriously at the idea of doing some shows after we finish the album we’re currently working on. Probably Summer of 2020.
How much of the new material is already done? Do you feel it is a strict continuation of Black Mass Wedding or will you allow yourself some variety?
Most of the musical framework for the songs is finished. I’m still getting lyrical concepts together; that is always the last thing to happen. It’s definitely not going to be a strict continuation of Black Mass Wedding. We’re always looking to add new sounds and elements to what we’re doing.
What about Sanctus Infernum? Do you have some new songs for this band as well?
That project is pretty much shelved for the time being. There’s a possibility that we may come back to it in the future but there are no plans to at the moment.
Okay, Mark, thank you for your answers. How would you prefer to complete this interview?
I certainly would like to thank you for the interview and interest. I’d also like to thank your readers for giving us a look. All the best to everyone in the New Year. Cheers! \m/!