ENTHRONED, a name Black Metal fans are no strangers to. Over the course of the last 25 years, they have pushed the boundaries of black metal and the deepness of the Left-Hand Path philosophy further within. The quintet has channelled that dedication into their newest record; a dark and crushing black metal album where cold riffing, blood-chilling atmospheres and ritualistic drumming are keys to forging their most mature and accomplished opus to date.
Nornagest answered a few questions about the past and the future of Enthroned.
Hi! Thank you for this interview, it´s a pleasure talking to you!
-This April marks 25 years since Enthroned first album “Prophecies of Pagan Fire”. Do you find echoes of that album in today’s band compositions? How are you feeling about this album today?
For sure, even tho the approach is different, you still have that claw mark imbibed within the music. The main difference, and the one that people will hear first, is that what we do these days is excessively deeper than in those times. Take it like this; the ingredients are still the same from first till last, we just added one big dose of darkness within the cauldron and perfected the recipe with experience , nothing more but the result is… different. I still love “Prophecies…” , I think it was an outstanding album at the time, there was something more than most other bands at the time, and I think it is an album that still has that particule today, it doesn’t age.
-On the first albums, the lyrical concept of the band was more leaned towards death/destruction, then it evolved to a more occult, esoteric concept. Did it evolve naturally or was something that you conscientiously decided to do?
A bit of both, there is an undeniable feel of evolution throughout the career of the band lyrics wise. Also, let’s not forget that the lyrics of the first album were written by different people, from our second album onwards me and the old vocalist, shared the conception of the lyrics, his were more of a “interested” nature, mine were brutally direct or directly in connection with my belief system, as we evolved so did the words of our songs, which is a normal processus I would say.
From the moment that I became the lead vocalist, I didn’t have to make concessions when it came to the lyrical topic, I became free to write, with my words without having to make things “simpler” or having the thought of “oh damn… can’t write this as it doesn’t make sense for him to sing these lines if he doesn’t understand or believe in these terms and concepts…” so I did start to write the quadrilogy’s concept (“Tetra Karcist” / “Pentagrammaton”/ “Obsidvm”/ “Sovereigns”) with utter freedom. The actual lyrics were originally suppose to be chapters from a book wrote (“The Tellvm Scorpionis – Qlipphoth II masks & Totems” – Aeon Sophia Press) but decided to use them into a lyrical form for the band instead. On the other hand, you pointed out an interesting factor; the concept of evolution is definitely applied with our lyrical lien of concept as one has to destroy to create and after the battle, comes wisdom & peace of the mind, which is how this topic can be visually interpreted.
-During the years, you had some line-up changes, was it difficult for the band to keep the path and to have unity?
It is always difficult, even when every single person in a group share the same views and ideas, it is difficult. Also, people change, they want to do something different, they want to settle down and leave that lifestyle behind… you know how things go… some other time, we have to take the decision for them as it simply doesn’t work with that person on the human level, concept level or simply some people are turning into utter pricks when they have a bit of public attention… and the last is unacceptable as far as I am concern. It is a sign of weakness and I don’t want that kind of cancer in Enthroned. On the other hand, take this line-up, for example, we all have a different approach of things but the target is the same, our personalities are very different but all are very close beings and those differences are our strength.
-“Cold Black Suns” was released last year and it is, in my opinion, the strongest Enthroned album to date; have you been working on the new album already? In the process of making a new album, was is it that you enjoy the most?
The construction and achievement. These are the part I enjoy the most personally AFTER what I call the “translation”. The “translation” phase is when I convert my emotions, experiences and feelings into music/ riffs. I do not proceed the same way as I use to 20 years ago or as most artists do. I do not try to find the best riff possible nor do I try to compose something out of the blur, I simply meditate and focus upon what I feel at that moment or want to express and convert these emotions into music, their perfect soundtrack if you want. As for the composition of the next album, we did start working each one of us on some new material (thanx to the covid-19 situation) but it is way too early to say something concrete about this for now, but some new lyrics are done and therefore I have an idea where the next release will point us to.
-Was it relatively easy to find that inspiration again or was this a difficult album to make? Can you please explain to us what the lyrical themes of “Cold Black Suns” are? What is the story or album mantra so to speak? What was your inspiration for “Cold Black Suns” album?
This album was… a hell of a piece of work, it seemed like every element were against us or was trying to prevent the release of this album. We had a massive line-up change, new record label, new team but also all of us went through difficult times within our personal life, so we took some time off to focus more on those private matters. When it was time to get together again, the songwriting process took some time but mostly due to the arrangements and defining the right sound for the songs we did create. “Cold Black Suns” is a very different album than what the band did in the past, and we wanted to be sure that the sound, tuning etc… where the right ones to give these songs their true nature and purpose.
The “Cold Black Suns” concept is based on the different human approaches towards Satanism and knowledge of the hidden, may it be through the ages or from the point of view of different civilisations and cultures. Let’s say, that we take you for a trip from ancient Greece to the modern ages and the dark times of the Renaissance.
The lyrics have an anthropological overtone that suggests that every different view is a product of the cultural evolution of one race or people; and this cultural product is further enriched by its interaction and cross-fertilisation with other peoples and their cultures, in whose vicinity the former originated and evolved, yet all englobed within the one human concepts of what is the Occult. For example, “Oneiros”, Oneiros, is a personification of dreams. To understand the lyrics, one has to refer to Homer who claimed that dreams dwell on the dark shores of the Western Oceanus. Deceitful dreams would come through an Ivory Gate, which in Roman Catholisicim this description is given to the gates of the Heavens, kingdom of Yahveh, while the true ones are issued from a gate made of black horns. Sometimes those dreams procures a sadistic approach of arousement that the ancient greeks called Charoumenos Oneiros.
“Aghoria” is an Aghori [An ascetic Shiva sadhus group feeding on human remains and practitioners of other necromantic and post-mortem rituals] mantra who glorifies humility within magical & ritualistic practices. The main message is that none is all knowing and all glorious beneath the gods and one is glad to be nothing as it leave places for great learnings and spiritual evolution. Finally, “Son of Man” is an anthropological approach of the story, legend and myth of Lucifer’s Fall across a global view of several cultures but in one piece. The similarities between different civilisations or religious groups regarding how knowledge came to man by the Light Bearer is quite staggering. Each song represents a different time, culture but all linked to the darkest corners of different doctrines may it be traditional Satanism, Setianism, Shinto, Hinduism, Aztec etc…
-What can you tell me about the album artwork?
The idea of the cover start with an intriguing and timeless visual. First of all, the “cold” and the “black” have inspired to make a minimalist artwork more than in the past and without logo, (somewhere without direct reference to a group of musicians). There is the unification of this macroscopic dimension of space with the microcosm that we are, for example at the cellular level, or what composes us. The two main spheres are in opposition, in reference to matter and its asymmetry towards antimatter, in the physical construction of the observable universe. This is one of the enigmas that modern science attempts to decipher: how did matter succeed in becoming all that we can physically observe in space, rather than annihilate itself in residual energy in collisions. The fact of placing these two spheres and their symbolism at the center of three points makes another reference to a universal principle. Two things that are alike and the verb that expresses their likeness make three. The physical world, the spiritual world and the divine world. The fact of having a visual reference to the snake also comes from a distance, evoking the tradition of the Ourobouros, which, in its true representation, encircles the cosmic egg that contains the totality of the universe. Through its skeletal appearance, we give this balance between life and death, the material but also the impalpable.
-Ever since ancient times, music has been an element of utmost importance, serving as a means to access a different level of consciousness. Is this how you see your music?
Interesting question I must say. Humanity has always answered questions such as “What is there in front of us? Within our space and time?” by naming or calling upon some divinities, and by seeking the unknown. To communicate with the other side is the oldest tendency on which is superimposed little by little through scientific research. However, to communicate with the spiritual world is not that simple. It requires us to leave oneself in ecstasy. The severe disciplines of sacrifices and asceticism were always used to eager men to get closer to their gods. These gods are believed by very few people and do not contribute to gathering men on a higher level to reach and request that tribute or communion. Dance & music, being able to reach, or at least get closer to, that state of ecstasy, were originally the languages used to speak with the gods. One and the other requires of the individual to draw from a body which must be an endeavour to use, to control, the dash of the movements and sounds which express what cannot be “said”,, or simply accompany and underline what one wants to say. One should not be astonished by the privilege granted to the music in the dialogue with entities for support, intensification and emphasis of the words, simplicity of an art which only exists with and through the human voice, but in which, one locates a marvellous harmony with the world and our surrounding. Music is an art which brings back each one to oneself and transports out of oneself. In the meantime, an art which supposes the presence of a partner, the public, and in some cases a mutual respect when people are on the same level, may it be blasphemous, desecration, religious or spiritual. The music, initially sacred and functional in its role, revealed with the wire of the ages its own autonomy. The history of the reports and ratios of music and religion makes it possible to contribute on a certain level to the deciphering of what humanity and his visions are about. In our (Enthroned) case, we use music as a vehicle for the visions and experiences of all its members through the Median Path; the path of balance through the roots of occultism and Satanism in it’s purest and original form. Some of our tunes are darker than some other genres due to our message, and therefore, there is an oppressive and very powerful aura behind it which is spread with the alliance of some entities, sometimes on our behalf. In my opinion, music, and especially spiced with a spiritual message, cannot have a single definition, every person will reach (or not) a different state or stage of consciousness, it is a personal feeling to every different being. Anybody with a little bit of intelligence will agree on the fact that music transports emotions, carries feelings on a higher level, may it be good or bad, triumph or sorrow… it improves human perceptions.
-Black Metal is about the rejection of authority and the downfall of order. How do you envision a society without those elements? Do you think ideologies will have a place in that kind of society? How can spirituality survive within such a framework?
mmm… to me BM is not ABOUT those factors, but they find their place into a multitude or other mindsets. One BM artist/band can be totally submissive to Satan for example or to a specific Daemonic being, even a black priest… My conception of BM transcends all of this, all late centuries moralities and weak mindsets. It is a soundtrack for a spiritual and personal ideology. It is unlike Heavy Metal, Hip-Hop etc… To me, the way I see it and use it, it comes very close to the ritualistic chants and dances from the ancients, it is a part of my belief system, not a musical style or attitude, it is waaaaaayy more than that. And let me tell you one thing… spirituality endures everything, only retarded human beings corrupt it and turn it into a reason to argue instead of trying to reach their own eternal ascent.
-Are you planning any live shows after this lockdown is over? What can we expect from Enthroned in the future?
As expected, all our shows until the end of August are cancelled/ postponed, our first show will be in September at the Durbuy Rock Open Air in Belgium, and we have a few other shows in the making. As for now, the whole situation is a bit on a stand by basis, we just have to wait the end of the pandemic to start to see things a bit more clearly. In the meantime, we are working on different projects for Enthroned, not live related, so we will see where that goes first but I can’t tell more at the moment.
-Now there’s a boom of new Black Metal bands, what do you think of this new trend?
Just like any new trends… blah… There are good bands, bad bands and incredibly shitty bands.
Same old song… I don’t make a difference between old, new, new style, old style blablabla… I like it or I don’t. Even better if the people who are involved are behind what they preach, else… blah…
-What are the most influential Black Metal bands for you, conceptually and ideologically?
Venom, Bathory, Celtic Frost, Mayhem, Sarcofago, King Diamond, Coven, Beherit and Samael.
I consider these bands BM even King Diamond (not because of the corpse paint), by their approach and concept. They are all as different as night and day from each other and had to me a huge impact on the Black metal scene, may you like it or not.
-What is Black metal for you, innovation or tradition?
Metal music is a very powerful type of sound and music, music carries waves and energies. What is better than this to carry the message and energy from an authentique Satanic or Occult band/ artist? That’s what BM is to ME. Not the corrupted joke and charades we see since the late 90’s.
-We reached the end of the interview, please leave a message for our readers!
Thanx for the interview and we hope to be able to return on the road and to Eastern Europe as soon as this crisis is over! If you haven’t done it yet, buy our latest album “Cold Black Suns”!!