(We welcome back Comrade Aleks, who has brought us a long-gestating but highly engaging interview with Frater Flagellum, drummer of the German epic doom band Fvneral Fvkk, and we thank him for his time as well.)
Probably there’s still an intrigue for those who skipped Fvneral Fvkk’s debut full-length Carnal Confessions (released on the 27th of September, 2019). What does a band with a name like this play? Death’n’thrash? Blasphemous black metal? Or its punkish version?
Actually, this outfit from Hamburg preaches epic doom metal with texts focused on modern Catholic crimes against children, but I bet you’ve heard about them despite your musical preferences because Carnal Confessions was one of most noticeable albums of this kind for the whole of 2019.
Fvneral Fvkk has remained a quartet since 2015, and although session musicians have joined their live masses, the core lineup has been the same since then: Cantor Cinaedicus (vocals), Vicarius Vespillo (bass), Frater Flagellum (drums) and Decanus Obscaenus (guitars). The band’s members tend to keep their personalities incognito, though it’s well-known that there are members of Crimson Swan, Fäulnis, and Ophis in the band. Not a big secret then, right?
This interview was started 11 months ago or so, but things happened as we know… However I need to thank Frater Flagellum for the time he spent on answering all of this, it’s much appreciated – God speed you on, oh good Frater!
Hi Frater Flagellum! Thanks for your time, and let’s not waste it. It’s said that Fvneral Fvkk was formed in 2015, and though the band’s members keep their persons veiled, it’s known that the lineup consists of members from Crimson Swan, Fäulnis, and Ophis. First of all, what caused you all, musicians with different background, to gather your forces under Fvneral Fvkk’s banner?
God be with thee, poor soul in search for answers. Well, we all knew each other from the local scene, which our other bands are a solid part of.
From my time in Fäulnis I knew Decanus Obscaenus very well. I was only in that band for less than two years, but we got along pretty well. I left Fäulnis in 2013, and in 2015 Decanus and I decided to do something together again. At first we started as a duo, then we added the former singer of Agrimm Doomhammer as vocalist. As we were close to finishing the writing for the EP, we needed a bass player, so instead of taking all the trouble to look for a good one, I simply asked my bass player from my other band Ophis, and he said yes. So, Vicarius Vespillo was on board.. Unfortunately, we had to fire our singer, so I suggested Cantor Cinaedicus, whom we knew from Crimson Swan, and who had coincidentally also just joined Ophis at that time. My, what a putrid pile of musical incest!
photo by Kandziora
I believe you’ve heard this question before: The band’s name fits perfectly to some punkish black metal outfit. Did you aim to perform epic doom metal from the start?
No, not at all. When we started, the lyrical concept was quite similar, but the music tended more towards violent black / thrash, like some bastard spawn of Impaled Nazarene, Bathory, and Primordial. It was Decanus Obsceanus who suddenly switched to Epic Doom. At first, I wanted to quit. It made no sense to me. If I was to have a second band, I at least wanted it to be some different genre, as my main band is also a Doom band. But the material was simply too good. I immediately had tons of ideas to complete it. So I stayed. I have not regretted it.
As for the question whether the name fits to an Epic Doom band… well, many people say it does not. And maybe they are right. The important question is: why should we care? This band is about blackest satire. Irony. Sarcasm. What could be more sarcastic than naming an Epic Doom band “Fvneral Fvkk”? Back in the days, we did not give a shit about anything. We just wanted to do that EP and that was it. We never thought about playing live, we never thought about doing an album. That’s why we kept the name.
So maybe it is somewhat obscure for a band like ours, but I still see a connection. Could not care less about other people’s opinion in this matter.
You use attributes of Christian culture in the band’s image – it’s in your promo photo, the records’ artworks, and in your lyrics, which seem to bear anticlerical messages. What drove your attention to this theme? What’s your personal experience of relationships with the church?
Thank the Lord! In northern Germany, everyone is Protestant, and pretty much only on paper, so we are blessed with a rather low influence of the church here. None of us ever had much to do with that black-robed pedophile-ring, and none of us has ever endured any physical or mental abuse by the church. The attention to that topic came along with the band.
At the very early beginning, it was all just a mere joke. We just had fun acting as perverted priests and enjoyed writing some fictional lyrics of necrophile pastors and shit. But the more we wrote about it, the more we focused on the real things happening in the church, and pretty soon we decided this topic is too sad and horrible to make fun of, so we started real research and switched toward realism. Of course, there is still satire left in this band, and probably always will be. But it became a lot more serious after the first EP.
FVNERAL FVKK – Erection in the house of god
And, well, the anti-Christian message seems to be the privilege of more brutal metal genres like black and death metal. Did you feel what well-balanced doom would carry your message effectively?
I’d like to highlight that Fvneral Fvkk is not anti-Christian! We are not writing lyrics about (or against) Christians per se, or the belief in general. We write about the church as an institution, and of course some of their individual members. I agree that the Christian dogma and belief has A LOT to criticize, and for example in Ophis, I also strongly attack Christians on a spiritual level, but in FF, it is all about the antics of the church, not about the belief itself. And thus (to answer your initial question), I think epic Doom is PERFECT to get the message across. Even better than Death Metal could ever be. Because Doom sounds a lot like pastoral incantation music! It is much more effective to mock the church with music that resembles their own.
Returning to your photo where you’re dressed in monk robes. I can recall a few more doom bands who use similar visual imagery – Evangelist from Poland (they tend to keep their anonymity too) or Huata from France. What about your gigs’ schedule? Wouldn’t you like to start a “hooded tour” with these gents?
I think that would be fitting, but also rather boring. Isn’t it much better if the music fits together in a tour package, but the bands still all offer something different to the table? This is of course very debatable, but I think so! I’d rather stick out from the pack than be just another one of them!
Your debut EP Lecherous Liturgies at first was released digitally under cover of Solitude Productions. Did you get to them because of the band’s connection with Ophis? Did this release help Fvneral Fvvk to attract the attention of people?
I do not know if the Ophis-connection really helped that much. I guess, if Solitude did not like the EP, they would not have signed us. At that time, Ophis had already left Solitude. But of course things were a bit easier, because we knew the contacts there and knew each other, so everyone knew what to expect. It made things less complicated.
Sure, the EP got us some attention. Not as much as the album did, but still reviews were awesome, and already then, the endless debate around our name and lyrics started, haha.
As Crimson Swan, Fäulnis, and Ophis members dwell in and around the Hamburg area, how do you usually communicate with each other? Do you practice regular rehearsals? Did you aim to create a full-length work since the band was formed or was it kind of trying to jam together and see how things would turn out?
We do not practice regularly. Only to prepare for studio time or for shows. And to do some fine-tuning on finished new songs. When there is nothing like this to do, the band rests. It is simply a question of time. We all work full-time, and Vicarius, Cantor, and I have other bands as well, and some of us have wives and children… so in order to keep it all working we decided to reduce rehearsal to such things. That’s ok, because we write songs at home. It would not work like this for Ophis or Voidhaven (Cantor’s other band, in which I also play). In those, we can only write together.
The Carnal Confessions full-length was released on Solitude Productions. It’s still fresh (well, it was a year ago) and I believe that feedback has been plentiful. How do you value your work as an author of this material? What makes you proud of it?
Everything! I think you can clearly hear our influences, but it is not a copy at all, it is pretty distinct. That’s sort of a rarity these days. Even though we play music that has been played before A LOT, I think we still managed to create a sound that is not so common and sticks out of the mass. And not just because of the concept and the lyrics, but by the atmosphere of the songs. That’s what I am proud of.
Where was this material recorded? Did you work all together in the studio?
The album was recorded in Blastbeat Studio, with Oliver Carell producing. We all had worked with him before and recorded several albums there with Ophis and Fäulnis, so we knew we would get a great result. Working with Carell is always easy and productive. I recorded the drums for this album in less than 6 hours. Including sound check! So you see, that’s what I call a great working atmosphere, haha. We all worked in the studio together, even though the album was not recorded live.
FVNERAL FVKK – Chapel of Abuse
What has been people’s reaction to the Carnal Confessions message? Did you get some feedback from non-metal audiences or medias?
No, unfortunately not. Not that I care much, but it would have been a lot of fun having some Christian hardliners going apeshit on our stuff. That’s not our goal at all, but it would be interesting, haha.
However, we got some feedback from metalheads in the USA who told us they loved the music, but could not really listen to it because of the highly repulsive content. Seems in America, Catholics still can be shocked with that kind of stuff. Here in Europe, most people do not care much and do not find the lyrics very repulsive.
We got some sneering comments from some self-appointed Doom Metal elitists who refuse to accept our band because of the name. I could not care less, to be honest. If they really are such dicks, I do not need their attention anyway.
It seems that Carnal Confessions keeps the general theme of Lecherous Liturgies. Do you see the band as an instrument to spread your message or is it rather a tool for your self-realisation as a musician?
This may vary a bit for each individual member of the band! But for me personally, the music comes first, and I see the band as a way to express myself and be creative. I want to channel emotions into music and create something that somehow touches people’s lives. I follow this goal with every band I play in, so FF is no exception. Of course we think the lyrical content deals with an important issue, but I think if I mainly wanted to use the band as a medium for socio-political content which stands above the music, I would not tend to such unpopular small underground genres as Doom Metal! If you want to reach millions of people with your message, Doom is not a good choice. I think you might agree, haha!