(Costa Rica’s VoidOath have recently released an album inspired by John Carpenter‘s “The Thing“, and the music is a match for its terrifying concept — deeply unsettling, but so well-made that it’s relentlessly immersive. And today Comrade Aleks has brought us an interview with the band that reveals further insights into their history, their conception of the music, and what may come next.)
Did you see the artwork of VoidOath’s album Ascension Beyond Kokytus? Something familiar, isn’t it? John Carpenter’s The Thing is a cult movie, there’s no doubt, but I don’t remember a band who would build an entire album around this story. Now we have VoidOath and this world seems to be a little bit better place.
VoidOath was founded in San José, Costa Rica four years ago by Allan Salas (bass), Gabriel Ortiz (drums), Jose Rodríguez (guitars), and Christopher G. De Haan (guitars, vocals). Three of them played in different local bands, so VoidOath’s first EP Illumination Through Necromancy was recorded pretty fast, and they had 32 minutes of sludge doom madness ready in 2020.
I don’t know if this release helped the band to spread the word effectively, but the Irish label Cursed Monk Records noticed them and Ascension Beyond Kokytus was released on the 28th of September, preceded by the album premiere and review here at NCS. I think it was Jose with whom we spoke about The Thing, metal, and the underground of Costa Rica.
Hail VoidOath! How are you doing? What’s going on on your side?
Cheers! Getting a bit anxious about the new album, but excited that it is finally gonna be released. Happy that you guys reached out and all the reception we got so far.
I see that Gabriel and Christopher also played in the Age of the Wolf band, and also Christopher and Jose are in Crypt Monarch. What drove you to form VoidOath, as you already had other bands to express yourselves?
We knew each other from our other projects and we used to talk about creating a very intense and monolithic kind of sound, and the concept of adapting (and expanding) on horror lore was something very appealing for the four of us.
So the concept was first? And then you found that doom-sludge works well with it, right?
We try to make our sound related to whatever we’re trying to convey for each track, but also cohesive since they are part of a record. We try not to be bound to any specific genre, but we are fans of slow and heavy music. Our next work could sound different, who knows.
First you recorded the EP Illumination Through Necromancy. What kind of sound did you search for it? Was it difficult to record all of your ideas?
We were looking for a very slow-paced, deep, obscure sound, and for us the EP is very raw, both in intention and sound. We believe you can feel the emptiness and horrible emotions portrayed in the three songs.
Recording was not hard but it was intense, as we recorded everything the same day — what a day that was!
Did this EP help you to spread the word about the band? What was the first reaction?
We got some great responses from places like Cvlt Nation, Decibel, Astral noize, amongst others. People really seem to dig it. We were very happy with the reaction we got from that demo as people who got to hear it liked it a lot.
Well, honestly VoidOath is the first band from Costa Rica I have interviewed. How active is the local scene? Is it easy to start a band, find a place for rehearsals, and receive any support from local fans or labels?
The local extreme music scene lost a lot of venues and opportunities with the pandemic, but it seems to be now in a good place again. There are shows almost every week from different bands. The challenge of being in such a small country, in size and population, is that bands can’t really tour locally. All the towns with available venues are really close by (like 25 minutes or less close) so if you play two or three nights in a row, the target demographics don’t change that much. So live shows aren’t as frequent as in other scenes in the world.
Having said that, when we do play live, the shows have been really really cool, and we feel a lot of energy from the crowd. People do buy merch and physical copies, and local labels like Cognitive Discordance and Harmful Existence produce some really nice material under very good conditions for the bands.
How bad is the situation now with all those pandemic restrictions? Is it easier to find a venue to play in comparison with 2020 – 2021?
Shows were banned in CR for those years, no legal venue could allow bands to play, so there were a few house shows happening, nothing more besides that. Venues started reopening sometime early 2022, and there are probably about three or four good venues available to play right now.
How often does VoidOath play live? How far did you get?
We’ve planned our gigs carefully, we’ve always strived for concerts where the bands involved can create a dense and deep atmosphere because we want people to lose themselves in the trance. We go all out, and don’t hold back. We also take a lot of advantage of the pedalboards to help create that unsettling vibe with a bunch of noise in between our sets. We’re also pretty reserved; during the recording of the album we abstained from live shows to focus on our vision. This new release presents itself as an opportunity to showcase our music in live shows a lot more. We also have a couple of live sessions on YouTube you can check out. The Cvlt Nation 10-year anniversary is a good example of how our shows usually go.
Did you get out abroad with VoidOath?
Not yet, but we hope to play abroad sometime, hopefully soon.
How did you get in touch with Cursed Monk Records? How difficult was it to find the label?
We went through the same process all bands go through to find labels. We pitched our record to the labels we thought would be a good fit. We liked Cursed Monk’s proposal and Rodge is a great guy to work with.
We’re very happy the record is coming out through local label, Cognitive Discordance, and UK-based Cursed Monk Records.
At this time VoidOath’s debut album Ascension Beyond Kokytus is about to be released, and I hope that it’ll attract proper attention. Its lyrics are based on Thing movie (based on the Who Goes There? story) and it’s already an excellent hook! How did you decide to work through this concept?
We have all been horror fans from long ago, always either from movies, books or video games. By the time we finished our first EP we already were looking for new ideas, and Carpenter’s movie was a unanimous decision. We went a bit beyond that and explored the original novel, sequel games and a couple of comics to build a more accurate representation of the main themes in that particular world.
Also there is a double point of view present in the album. Where the humans see this as their downfall, the creature perceives this as its triumphal ascendancy into the top of the food chain on the planet.
Does the album develop an original story lyrically or do you explore already existing plots?
The lyrics explore themes and emotions that are conveyed in the existing horror works we used as influence.
Your tracks have that good atmospheric vibe, and honestly I was surprised with the tracks’ quality and that creepy feeling they bring. Did you work over each track individually composing each part taking into account its lyrics and so on?
The album concept came before the tracks, so we wrote the tracks towards that concept. Each track was written with a part of that concept in mind and we tried to make that come through in the sound, and the lyrics, of each song. After that we would review the songs and start working on leads or synthesizers, and vocals also add the last layer of mood to the tracks as well.
What was most difficult for you during the recording of these songs?
We recorded the album ourselves, so everything was a learning process with its difficulties. We chose to record our instruments with a single-take approach, so it was hard when a mistake happened near the end of a song and we had to start over.
How much time did it take to create Ascension Beyond Kokytus from the very idea until recording it in the studio?
It took about 18 months to write and record the album. We wanted to change our sound for this record so it would reflect the concept, so we had to practice a lot, but it was a really fun process. We recorded, mixed and mastered the album on our own, so that made it really comfortable for us.
How do you see VoidOath’s prospects now when you have the released album on your hands?
We try to be honest about the music we make, and we hope people will like the album. We are proud of the album because it’s exactly what we wanted it to be. We want to keep making uncompromised music on our own terms.
Have you already thought about your next step? Would you choose to start composing another album or would you prefer to take your time before that?
We’ve been talking about a concept for our next record, and the sound we would like for it. But just talking about it for now, hopefully we can start working on it sometime next year. There’s a lot of horror we can use as inspiration, however real terror comes from oneself and that’s what attracts us when exploring new ideas.
Okay, thank you for the interview then and good luck with promoting the band!