(Those for whom Lovecraft is their nightmare food and for whom progressive blackened death metal makes a fine condiment will relish the following interview by Comrade Aleks of the duo who make up the Portuguese band From Beyond.)
I bet that we should thank Gordon Stuart for his poisonous gem of the VHS-era named after H. P. Lovecraft’s story From Beyond, for Stuart was the one who inspired a few bands with his video adaptation of that horrible story of scientific fanaticism, madness, murder, and nightmarish beings from another world.
Two guys from Portugal’s Porto founded a quite progressive band transferring their occult visions in a form of blackened death metal. Chronicler (guitars, bass, drum programming) and Innsmouthian (vocals) released their first album The Great Old Ones on the 12th of December 2022, and we’re going to talk about this work while it’s fresh and hot.
Hail From Beyond! How are you? What’s happening in your lair?
Chronicler: Hail! We’re doing good! Working our boring regular jobs mainly because we still fall short of the grace of Father Dagon, so we have to try to behave like normal humans. Other than that, when it comes to music, we keep busy with our other projects.
Which projects do you mean? I saw only that Innsmouthian is involved in the Ghost / Gate project, and that’s all.
C.: Yes, Insmouthian has the Ghost | Gate project and I have Skeletal Crew – another two-man project – a horror-punk band, which also has an album launched back in 2018, a single in 2020, and we’re writing new stuff now; a Hardcore band of four members that started this last December which is now in the writing phase for the first album, that has not yet made the official announcement of its existence; and a secret solo project that has been cooking since 2020 that I hope will come out this year. A lot of music is coming out from us just this year 2023.
Your first album The Great Old Ones was released just one month ago. How does it feel now when you have your first full-length work done? Are you satisfied with the result?
C.: It feels, first and foremost, like some sort of long-awaited relief because we’ve faced some obstacles, setbacks, and delays in the production of this album – but yes, we’re mostly satisfied with the final result. We still consider that we’ve could’ve done a couple of things better here and there but, all in all, what came out was to our satisfaction.
What would you like to improve in these songs?
C.: Slight changes on the guitar and bass tone and maybe on the vocal performances but we’re happy with what came out. It’s just the whisper of the eternal “if I knew then what I know now I’ve could’ve done much better”. It’s part of an evolutionary process, we guess.
Did you release it only in digital format or do you aim to launch a run of CDs too?
C.: Yes, we plan to launch a physical format in the future, but no date has been set yet.
Do you aim to perform everything DIY or do you have a label on your mind which may support you?
Innsmouthian: We’re looking for a label but DIY is also an option. If we don’t find one that fits us, DIY it is. The priority is to make music, expel the demons from the inside, and reach out to whoever might like this kind of music, this kind of metal. All else is a means to an end.
Regarding the band’s origin – it’s said that From Beyond was founded in 2016, so did it really take six years to record the album?
C.: The album itself was actually recorded twice due to changes in factors like guitar tech specs, tone preferences, lyrical macro and micro adjustments, and other small details. Between those two sessions and after the last one, we had some difficulty finding free time in common so that we could finally focus on finishing the album in order for it to be released.
Not only that, it was hard to come off a self-feeding loop of obsession in creating an album as good as our undefined and probably unattainable best version of what it could be, within our limited time and talent, much like the doomed path the main character of the inherent story of our album chooses to walk until his defeat. The only difference is that we knew, at some point — late, notwithstanding — that we should stop it and say “no, it’s good enough, let’s launch it”. It was a learning process. Almost a Lovecraftian one, ironically. It came out when it was time to, apparently.
Well, you perform progressive and blackened death metal with lyrics based on Lovecraftian myths. How did you get to this combination?
C.: Some songs, like one or two, had a prototypical version before any kind of Lovecraftian concept or even lyrical theme was added to them. It came with the ambience, for lack of a better word, some chord progressions emitted, if that makes any sense. It felt right. From that point on, the rest of the songs were built with that in mind.
Furthermore, we love concept albums, telling a story not only through lyrical content but also through chord progressions, rhythmic and musical structure dynamics that either complement what is being described in words or make the listener feel something adequate to the story or to the feel of the song.
Did you name the band after Lovecraft’s original story or after Gordon Stuart’s sick film adaptation? What did inspire you to take this name?
I.: The band name came from the short story. Much like Tillinghast we’re using technology, in our case, not to stimulate peoples’ pineal gland and force them to perceive planes of existence outside the scope of accepted reality, unfortunately, but to create music and stories that we think would fit a modern take of the world and lore of Lovecraft.
And how do you like the movie? Which video adaptations of Lovecraft are your favorite ones?
I.: We tend to like the Lovecraft-influenced movies more than the adaptations of the books: The Thing, Alien (1979), In The Mouth Of The Madness, Event Horizon, The Mist, The Void, The Ritual, Spring, the amazing first season of True Detective (you couldn’t imagine the obsession both of us had with that season), a couple of episodes from Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet Of Curiosities and even the more fun or purely entertaining ones like Color Out Of Space, Underwater or Annihilation. We are aware that many of these movies are only arguably Lovecraftian, it’s just our opinion.
Confirm! Most of the movies you mentioned are brilliant! Which qualities of the music you perform helped you to evoke the right atmosphere for these stories? Which aspects of Lovecraftian horror do you aim to transfer through your music?
C.: There were many aspects that, even if subconsciously, influenced the instrumental writing and vocal performance planning in this specific album. One of the main ones was the human inability or, at least, very low power, to face or even comprehend forms of existence, of life, and of horrors outside its collective knowledge and brain capacity, and the struggle that confrontation comes with.
As the character in our album enters a voluntary transition, a non-linear self-imposed hopeful struggle to eliminate all human characteristics and become something else, something greater, by meddling with forces beyond any possible grasp he could fantasize to have, and paying a horrible price for it, so does the instrumental as the album starts with warm major 7th chords coming from foreboding but optimistic ocean waves only to end in a miserable and sad void, sound-tracked by minor chords.
All in the middle is a back-and-forth, progressively chaotic, wrestle between these concepts where melodic parts come out of nowhere after very violent dissonant sections, for example. It was accidental but it fits the whole thing.
Are you meaning that The Great Old Ones is a conceptual album?
I.: Yes, absolutely. The story follows the journey of an unidentified main character (“Son Of The Sea”) who feels something inside that makes him believe he descends in some way from the Old Ones until he finds out he’s actually the product of procreation between the deities Dagon and Hydra, birthed in the sea. Then he proceeds to spread an anti-Christian message throughout the local populace and attempts to begin a cult of followers to drive them away from Christianity in order to create a new religion, where they will be released from the bind of the “Thorns Of Sin” the character accuses them of living in.
“Cult Of Shadows” is then formed and the first invocations of The Great Old Ones begin, only to be followed by a great celebration – “Hymns Of Yuggoth” are sung – from which the dark energy formed by the cult is released towards the non-believers in order to exterminate them. Finally, “The Great Old Ones” awake and destroy everything, an event which makes the main character realize he’s now achieved the final result of his endeavors with forces he was not able to control, the loss of everything he knew, a feeling of unresolvable emptiness, and a return, not to the sea that gave him birth, but to a “Black Sea Of Infinity”.
Will you keep on spreading H. P. Lovecraft’s message in your future works?
There’s a plan to continue with Lovecraft themes and also, maybe, venture outside the Lovecraftian mythos, but still within the Lovecraftian atmosphere.
You’re from Porto, and the city was founded on the Atlantic shore. How does your environment influence From Beyond’s creativity?
I.: What a great question! We’ve never given a thought about that. Well, Portuguese culture is inherently melancholic, and yes, we live on a seaside city of cold waters and frequent rain. Now that we think about it, the environment absolutely did influence the ocean-themed blue/green infused feel of the album.
From Beyond works as a duet of Chronicler and Innsmouthian. Do you search for new members to add live drums to your sound at least?
C.: Not actively searching, but we’re quietly aware, for now. We know some excellent but very busy drummers who could play our songs, but that would require a different kind of planning and commitment in order to present them with a solid plan. That goes also for any other members in the band.
What about live gigs? Any plans?
C.: Not for the moment. Playing live is another beast in itself and, for now, we’re going to soak in the digital rewards, for lack of a better expression, this album launch has been giving us so far.
And what are your plans in general for 2023?
C.: There are rumours of another album but nothing confirmed so far. We both have other projects that will come out this year, however, and some of them might be an opportunity to work together again, so stay tuned!
Okay, then we may have another reason for another interview soon! By the way, thanks for the interview! Would you like to tell a few more words for our readers?
Dear reader, we regret to inform you that reading this interview has now put you under a dark spell that can only be removed by buying our digital album on our Bandcamp. It’s the gods of old’s wish, don’t blame us, we’re just the messengers.
Hah! We but jest! Support us if you like what you hear and stay tuned to our YouTube and Instagram pages, videos are coming!
As for the interview, this was really interesting and very thoughtful, Aleks! Thank you!