Alexander von Meilenwald | Inner landscapes

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 10/03/2021.

In 15 years of existence, The Ruins Of Beverast managed to define an immediately recognizable style—a blend of the aggression and occult atmospheres of black metal, the animality of death metal, and the epic slowness of doom delivered in long, sprawling songs—and to push it in different directions with every album, through shrines, rain, blood vaults, and mass graves. With the last one, The Thule Grimoires, we’re heading north: Alexander von Meilenwald, the project’s mastermind, paints a threatening, hostile world in seven songs that sound like frozen barren landscapes, icy mists, and endless nights only illuminated by the magical, psychedelic colors of Northern lights and the flames of rituals performed by shamans wrapped in furs.

In keeping with his black metal roots, Meilenwald expresses himself in a precise, controlled way: the following interview has been done by email. It was made for the release of The Thule Grimoires and touches its creation, but I couldn’t resist bringing up Meilenwald’s unique path to get an insight into his creative process, his inspirations, and his views on a world that is both opaque and inhospitable.


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Farida Lemouchi | Catharsis

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 29/12/2020.

We’ve never known much about Farida Lemouchi. Even though she was the voice of The Devil’s Blood, the center of the attention on stage, off stage, she was mute; the composition, lyrics, and declarations of the band were all handled by the mastermind and guitar player of the band, her brother Selim Lemouchi. After his death in 2014 and a deeply emotional performance on the stage of the Roadburn Festival a month later, Farida took a step back. For years, we only heard her in a couple of collaborations, including a memorable cover of Aphrodite’s Child’s “Four Horsemen” with Griftegård.

And then in 2019, with three bandmates from The Devil’s Blood (Job van de Zande, Oeds Beydals, and Ron van Herpen) and a couple of new associates (Marcel van de Vondervoort for a while, and then Bob Hogenelst and Matthijs Stronks), she came back on the same stage for the 2019 edition of the Roadburn Festival as Molassess. After a first EP, Mourning Haze / Drops Of Sunlight, the album Through The Hollow was released seven years after the last creations on which Lemouchi, Beydals, van de Zande, and van Herpen were all involved: III: Tabula Rasa or Death and the Seven Pillars, the last – and aborted – album of The Devil’s Blood, and Earth Air Spirit Water Fire by Selim Lemouchi & His Enemies.

But Molassess isn’t a headless version of The Devil’s Blood: it doesn’t aim to reproduce formulas that were proven successful, nor to resurrect what has been put in the ground years before. It doesn’t try to leave everything behind either: the band sounds like it’s actively digesting its past, constantly negotiating with the ghostly presence of Selim. Despite its sophistication and the beauty of its arrangements, Through The Hollow feels pared-down, authentic, at times brutally so. Brave and vulnerable, meticulous and imperfect, deeply alive, it tells the detailed, sometimes grueling story of a grieving process, and the story a rebirth, too: it looks like emancipation – Farida is finally singing her own words, the musicians play their own music – but goes with its own brand of suffering as well. Death takes but gives, too; it’s the source of the brightest creations; it transforms, metamorphoses: Selim may rest in peace, the ones he left behind obviously heard his message.

Through The Hollow was the perfect opportunity to finally listen to what Farida, who was once called “the Mouth of Satan”, has to say. Here are her musings on art, life, death, and everything in between.

© Esther van Waalwijk

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Tom G. Warrior | Only death is real

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 17/06/2019.

“Tomorrow, my career may be ruined. Can you imagine that?”: the day before the Requiem performance at this year’s edition of the Roadburn Festival, metal legend Tom G. Warrior was tense, and understandably so. The expectations were high, to say the least: a unique event, the concert was to be the grand outcome of a project he started thirty-three years ago when Celtic Frost was at its heights. Entitled Requiem, the piece, composed of “Rex Irae”, from 1987’s infamous Into The Pandemonium, “Winter”, the closer of 2006’s Monotheist, and a central part composed for the occasion, had never been played live before. The performance promised to be historical, involving Warrior’s band Triptykon and an orchestra, the Metropole Orkest,  and without a safety net.

This interview took place the following day, just a few hours after the Requiem was completed and hailed by a packed venue. Still in the heat of the moment, Tom went back on the genesis of this long-term undertaking. Majestic, rife with emotion, a musical marriage of heaven and hell, the Requiem is more than a music piece. It’s a distillation of a more than three-decades-long career that forged contemporary metal and a chiaroscuro take on death. Literally, on the death of several of Tom’s colleagues and friends, including Celtic Frost’s Martin Ain. And figuratively, on death as the inexhaustible muse, always tightly weaved into Warrior’s creative process: the Requiem is creation and destruction, life and death made one. We also talked about his numerous other projects: the Requiem might have been taken to an end, but Tom G. Warrior still has a lot to offer…

Tom G Warrior-Shelley Jambresic

© Shelley Jambresic

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Jonathan Hultén | Dreaming the dark

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 07/11/2018.

“Of bodies chang’d to various forms, I sing”
Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book I, lines 1-2

The last twelve months have been busy for Jonathan Hultén. The Swedish musician released his first EP as a solo artist, The Dark Night of the Soul, a couple of months later, the album Down Below with his band Tribulation, and toured extensively in the meantime. Chants from Another Place sounding as delicate and minimalistic than Tribulation sounds wide and heavy, Hultén proves that his talent is multifaceted and that his creativity knows no boundaries.

To get some kind of counterpoint to the interview I had with Adam Zaars, his fellow guitar player in Tribulation, I reached out to Jonathan to have his own approach to Down Below. It has also been the occasion to talk about Chants from Another Place, its common features and its contrasts with Tribulation’s ambitious death metal. At the roots of both of these projects, Jonathan Hultén turns out to be an artist that creates as he breathes, looking for exploration, transformation, and ultimately, metamorphosis. Thoughtful and generous, he talked about life and darkness, doubts and convictions, creation of course, and introspection.


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Jarboe | Truth and consequences

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 30/07/2018.

Jarboe doesn’t need to be introduced: core member of Swans along with Michael Gira until 1997, ever since then, she keeps on singing, creating, shape-shifting, and growing, working with artists as different as Neurosis, A Perfect Circle, Phil Anselmo, Justin Broadrick, and In Solitude, in the process. Ubiquitous and discreet, appealing and eerie, muse and mentor: she knows no boundaries and follows her path in the shadows, where experimental music, extreme metal, rock, and contemporary art meet.

Thanks to a lot of luck and a bit of nerve, I managed to meet her somewhat against all odds after her show with Father Murphy at Roadburn, a couple of months ago. The interview was short, but when Jarboe talks, sharp and generous, time stands still. It’s like a whole part of the history of contemporary music coming to life. Off the record, anecdotes abound: she recalls a visit of Budapest with Attila Csihar as a guide, gently mocks the members of some Swedish black metal bands, “charming when they’re alone, insufferable when they’re together…” Under the pretext of talking about her haunting collaboration with Italian occult psychedelic duo Father Murphy, she evoked seminal episodes from her childhood, her relationship to spirituality as a musician, and some memorable live performances, outlining her own approach to art, unique and visceral, humble and uncompromising, sensitive and quietly stubborn.


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Juho “Jun-His” Vanhanen | Enter the Void

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 30/11/2017.

Two weeks ago, Oranssi Pazuzu teamed with another band from Tampere, Dark Buddha Rising, for a unique performance named Waste of Space Orchestra at Roadburn. The Finns were playing at the festival for the third year in a row. In 2017, I caught Juho “Jun-His” Vanhanen, guitarist and vocalist of the band, a few hours after their set on the Mainstage of the festival, to know more about the inception of the psychedelic trip into the unknown that is Värähtelijä, their last record. Wild, daring, swirling together krautrock, black metal, and much more, the album left listeners terrified, bewildered, and more often than not, amazed.

Unwrapping the twists and turns of the music but never unveiling its mystery, Jun-His talked about the elaboration of Värähtelijä, his aims as an artist, his views on his own art. “Everything is there and still, you can’t figure the reason behind it, behind existence,” he explained: instead of looking for answers and not afraid to stare into the void, Oranssi Pazuzu chose to embrace the unknown.


© Samuli Huttunen

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Adam Zaars | Down there

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 25/01/2018.

Down there (Là-Bas) is a novel written by French decadent author J.-K. Huysmans in 1891 culminating in one of the most striking black masses of the history of literature. Tribulation naming their last record Down Below might be a discreet, knowing nod more than a full-blown homage to the book, the record still shares its fascination for the Underworld, its esoteric obsessions, its threatening feminine figures, and a melancholic longing for something else—the Other. I got the chance to hear what guitar player Adam Zaars had to say about these topics at the end of last year, a few weeks before the release of Down Below.

The record picks up where The Children Of The Night, arguably the band’s breakthrough album, stopped, in a unique blend of proggy death metal and death rock. Since their thrashy death metal beginnings, the Swedes have come a long way, and yet the initial drive seems to remain the same: from the gruesome lyrics of The Horror to the gothic atmosphere of Down Below, they’re still exploring all the formulas of Death. Thoughtful and precise, Zaars expended on his way of working, his inspirations, and the band’s aspirations.

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Erik Danielsson | The fire within

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 24/12/2017.

It seems like nothing can stop Watain: since the beginnings of the band 20 years ago, the success of the diabolical trio grew bigger and bigger, reaching outside of the boundaries of black metal. Picking up where Dissection stopped, they developed their own sound, went on to experiment with the catchiest hooks of rock’n’roll—ruffling a few feathers in the process—, and stuck to their Chaos Gnostic guns all the while. For the release of the sixth full-length of the band, Trident Wolf Eclipse, I got the chance to speak with mastermind Erik Danielsson. Conceiving his art as transcendental, each album being the result of inspiration and circumstances, he remained elusive about his intentions but described carefully the conglomeration of energy that is Watain.

It was also the occasion to talk about the path followed by the band through the years, through success and fury, struggle and wrecked hopes. Indeed, after the triumphant, almost outrageous The Wild Hunt, Trident Wolf Eclipse sounds bilious, burning with anger. In the five years that separate the two albums, both The Devil’s Blood and In Solitude—two like-minded bands very close to Watain—vanished; Selim Lemouchi died. How do you cope with loss when you worship death? By doubling in fire and intensity, Trident Wolf Eclipse seems to prove, in order to carry the flame with renewed passion, for the present and the fallen.


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Mat “Kvohst” McNerney | Song of Kali

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 25/10/2017.

In only five years of career, Grave Pleasures, previously known as Beastmilk, had a fairly stormy history. Made of thundering debuts (Climax, 2013), line-up changes, infectious hooks, and new identities, it led to the divisive Dreamcrash, a record built on the ashes of Beastmilk, In Solitude and The Oath. It looks like the band, who sings about destruction and creation over infectious death rock melodies, doesn’t hesitate to put theories into practice, enticing both seasoned black metallers and 80s sounds lovers, somewhere between the cover of The Cure’s “A Forest” by Carpathian Forest and Perturbator. In that respect, Motherblood, the band’s new record, is crucial: it’s about strengthening Grave Pleasures in its new incarnation, and for leader Mat “Kvohst” McNerney, about expressing as clearly as possible his take on life.

For the release of this record under the patronage of the fearsome Kali, we talked about all these things with McNerney. A prolific musician whose work is as shape-shifting as it’s coherent, he explained the concepts hiding behind the intoxicating melodies of Motherblood, the rough times Grave Pleasures went through, the status of this project in his whole career, and his vision of music, whether it be in general, live, or his. An enlightening talk with an artist fascinated by humanity’s darkest sides.

Capture du 2017-11-03 20-03-16

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Mike Scheidt | Staying awake

This interview has been published on Radio Metal the 25/02/2017.

For music lovers in general, and doom fans in particular, the release of Clearing The Path To Ascend by YOB in 2014 was one of the highlights of the last few years. Both crushing and elevating, it is also, and above all, an astoundingly beautiful record where the three musicians outdid themselves and took their own brand of carefully crafted, enlightened doom to new heights.  After seeing a  live performance of the band at Desertfest Antwerpen that turned out to be an incredible display of power and grace, I had to find out what kind of magic was at work there.

A few weeks later, I got the chance to talk about this and more with the headmaster of it all: Mike Scheidt, the vocalist, guitar player, and main writer of the band. Inspired and inspiring, he evokes in great details his creative process, his views on live performances, art, life, music, and reality. We also talked about his many other musical endeavors and projects, and if everything must have been put to a halt by the very serious health issues he had to face at the beginning of the year, we can only hope for the best, and to hear about it soon!


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