I included the longstanding occult black metal group Nightbringer’s Apocalypse Sun on the list of my 10 Most Anticipated Albums Of 2010 (scroll all the way to the end). I’ve heard a few complex, intense, buzzing tracks from it. Judging from those, the new collection, which follows 2008’s Death And The Black Work, will blow away everything else the Colorado group’s done to date. I spoke at length with frontman Naas Alcameth about the album and what went into it.
I also have great news to break about Nachtmystium’s forthcoming Addicts – Black Meddle Pt. II. Plus Haunting The Chapel on Fox News (?), among other things.
STEREOGUM: How does Green Mountain Falls inspire your work?
NAAS ALCAMETH: We no longer live in that area. A few of us lived in a cabin there off and on for some years but no longer. As far as nature in this region, I think it has certainly played its role in inspiring. We are fortunate to live in an area that has large expanses of forests and mountains. I feel that atmosphere plays a large role, consciously and perhaps subconsciously as well. So much symbolism comes alive, especially at night when you are in the wild expanses away from the cities and it is easy to get lost to contemplation and creativity.
STEREOGUM: Well, speaking of Colorado, have you ever overlapped with Cobalt? I realize they started in Denver, but….
NAAS ALCAMETH: We have little to nothing to do with most bands outside our circle of friends and associates. I could not tell you much about what scene there may or may not be in this area as we are largely uninformed and uninterested.
STEREOGUM: Is Apocalypse Sun a conceptual album? What’s the idea behind the title?
NAAS ALCAMETH: The conceptual image is that of a paradoxical and wrathful sun risen from the underworld to be enshrined in sovereignty within the heights. This image is symbolic of the virile movement through the abyss and symbolizes the hermetic nigredo and the attainment of the “heights within the depths.” Symbolically the journey culminates in a violent moment of initiatic death and rebirth as the wrathful sun rises changed from the ordeal of the abyss.
STEREOGUM: What texts are you reading?
NAAS ALCAMETH: Currently I am reading Evola’s Path of Cinnabar, Ogden’s Greek and Roman Necromancy, and various prose and short stories by Clark Ashton Smith.
STEREOGUM: Sonically, the album’s quite ambitious. How’d you go about writing these tracks?
NAAS ALCAMETH: These tracks came together over the last two to three years. I had the concepts in mind for some time and I wanted the music to reflect the aforementioned symbolism. Whereas most of our previous works are very brooding and dark I wanted the music of Apocalypse Sun to be fulgurous and infernal, violent and chaotic at times but still maintaining a majestic scope. This album was very personal in that I ended up writing a large portion myself which I feel helped in achieving the overall atmosphere.
STEREOGUM: I’m always curious about inspirations … I’ve looked up “Tehom,” etc. Can you explain what some of these songs are about? “I am I,” “Supplication Before The Throne Of Tehom,” “Goblet of Sulfur and Poison,” etc. Do you plan to make lyrics available once the album’s out officially?
NAAS ALCAMETH: All of our lyrics are available in the releases. We draw upon the esoteric and occult traditions to form allegories that relay metaphysical concepts specific to the lunar and left-hand path. “I am I” was inspired from a passage relating the birth from the primordial abyss of the first individual emanation of “darkness”, which proclaims its own existence by exclaiming “I am I”. In another account, the primal form of darkness represented as the seven headed dragon is slain by the demiurge and the seven heads are enshrined in the cosmos but the blood from the heart of the drakon which was cast into the abyss spills into the dark firmaments and from the union Samael is born, exclaiming “I am I.” This is esoteric allegory and in regards to this particular song the allegory is used to represent the concept of the cyclic rise of a divine adversarial force, the serpent that eats the current age so that the next may arise.
STEREOGUM: How does the idea of “I Am I” merge with the notion of “Supplication”? It seems to be this kind of self empowerment abutting with kneeling before someone/something else.
NAAS ALCAMETH: That is a good question as the first proclaims its own being verily while the last denotes a passive role beneath the first. Whereas “I am I” relays the aforementioned concept of the first emanation of individual darkness, “Supplication Before The Throne Of Tehom” is written from the aspect of the neophyte. I have reiterated in the past the concept of worship having its only value in the coming into contact with a desired “force” and this is the idea that is conveyed here. Beyond that it has no value within an initiatic context, as it is contradictory to ascension of the self. This is as far as I care to go in so far as explaining away these allegories. I will leave the rest up to the listener.
STEREOGUM: Do you view your songs as ritual incantations? As anthems? What purpose do they serve?
NAAS ALCAMETH: We do not view our songs as incantations or arcane rituals. Such claims are fantasy and to say as such profanes the concept of ritual itself. Our songs are our creative outflow of inspiration that is fueled by our spiritual stance and the adverse spirit that innately resides within us. Our work serves to further feed the flames of those who are of similar spirit.
STEREOGUM: How did you hook up with Ajna? It seems like a perfect fit.
NAAS ALCAMETH: I was previously in contact with Ajna for a year or more before the signing occurred. I initially contacted him on behalf of Nightbringer as we were seeking label representation. I sent Tyler some early studio roughs along with lyrics. At that time he decided to pass based on the roughs he heard but started dialogue in regards to the lyrics as they appealed to his own stance and beliefs. From there we would go back in forth from time to time on various esoteric subjects and then I eventually sent him an early mix of Death And The Black Work and he offered to sign for the next album. It is indeed the perfect fit for Nightbringer and we have been pleased with everything regarding this label.
STEREOGUM: Any plans to tour with this record?
NAAS ALCAMETH: Nothing in stone at this time. We hope to see European soil.
STEREOGUM: Everyone has 2012 fever these days… Any thoughts?
NAAS ALCAMETH: Likely most 2012 hysteria is only the typical mellow-drama fueled by adoption of half-baked and misunderstood ideas learned from cinema and new age best seller conspiracy theorists. The masses sit in wait for the world demise not realizing that it has already begun. We are just awaiting the death rattle. If you are asking if I think everything will come crashing down in December of 2012, I would not be so brazen to say, but we can only hope.
I was going to say “speaking of Colorado,” but Cobalt currently reside in Brooklyn and Kansas … So much for transitions. Main vocalist/lyricist Phil McSorley was on Fox News’ Red Eye last night, largely to talk about what it’s like to serve in the military and make heavy metal. Stereogum gets a mention right after the host talks about unpatriotic websites who’ve supported the band. Thanks. (Cobalt’s Gin landed at No. 2 on my year-end list.)
Looking ahead, High On Fire’s Snakes For The Divine (E1, 2/23) will look like this. Arik Moonhawk Roper drew it.
The song’s accompanying the imagery:
01 “Snakes For The Divine”
02 “Frost Hammer”
03 “Bastard Samurai”
04 “Ghost Neck”
05 “Fire, Flood & Plague”
06 “How Dark We Pray”
07 “Holy Flames Of The Fire Spitter”
08 “Mystery Of Helm”
And, going deeper into the future, guess which two black metal stalwarts are serving as the rhythm section on the new Nachtmystium? Take a look at this studio photo. Make informed guesses.
[Left to right: Sanford Parker, Blake Judd, Wrest, Jeff Wilson, Will Lindsay]
Yes, Wrest (Leviathan) on drums locking in with Will Lindsay (ex-Middian, currently Wolves In The Throne Room) on bass. The combo of Judd’s blackened anthems and Leviathan’s massive drumming should be killer. Very excited for Addicts (Century Media, July). Probably my most anticipated album of the year, largely because nobody knows where Judd will take Nachtmystium next: Instinct: Decay + Worldfall + Assassins + Doomsday Derelicts +… ?
Enjoying what I’ve heard so far from Black Anvil’s Triumvirate. I’ve just started digging into Hooded Menace’s Never Cross The Dead (Profound Lore, 3/30). Otherwise, listening a lot to Shining’s VI/Klagopsalmer (looking forward to VII/Född förlorare), Grinning Death’s Head – No Afterlife (Youth Attack), Ihsahn – After (Candlelight), Drudkh – Autumn Aurora (reissue, Season Of Mist), Altaar, and a bunch of the albums in my 2009 Top 30 because writing about them reminded me why I liked them so much.
If you’re around next Wednesday (1/13) and in the NYC area, I’ll be DJing at Heather’s Bar with Kai Althoff, Lionel Maunz, and Stephen O’Malley. We’ll start at 9pm. Lionel and I plan to stick to black metal. Kai and Stephen will throw wild cards. Here’s the bar’s website. It’s free. Might as well go now that Slayer’s gone and canceled their tour.
Next time look for an interview with Aesop Dekker of Ludicra/Agalloch complete with some more announcements.