Saturday, 16 July 2011

BLACK OATH INTERVIEW (Italian Occult Epic Doom)

Italy has a rich history in Occult rock music and Doom metal which is heavily steeped in a sinister dark mysterious evil atmosphere, ever since now cult bands such as Death SS, Paul Chain and Black Hole first burst into life out of the countrys ancient cemetaries and into the worldwide music scene in the late 70s/ early 80s and were then followed by bands such as Abysmal Grief ploughing the same occult Doom musical furrow, now you can add Black Oath to that list, who deal in a very traditional epic style of Doom metal which has obvious similarities to Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass both musically and vocally but with an overall very familiar Italian occult vibe to it.

I recently got hold of the bands debut album "The Third Aeon" which was released very recently on CD by the Swedish label "I Hate Records" who are well known for unleashing quality bands upon the unsuspecting world. This 6 tracker is one of the best albums I have heard in the epic traditional Doom style for some years and will definetly appeal to fans of the aforementioned godfathers of both the Italian Horror-Occult Doom and Epic Doom genres aswell as the Doom genre as a whole.
the album is full of soaring melodic vocals, crushing gargantuan doomrock-metal structures with riffs as heavy as tombstones and swathed in a keyboard/organ driven atmosphere that just evokes pure darkness and doom.

I personally don't know much about this band to really say a great deal about them in my own words, they are quite a mysterious entity so I put together some questions and made a pact with the Black Oath, in return for my musical soul the mysteriously named band members A.Th : Guitars and Howls P.V. : Bass C.Z. : Drums provided me with more of an insight into the mysterious magickal doomed world of Black Oath.

Hails! can you please tell the readers abit about the origins of Black Oath and who does what in the band? what were your inspirations to play in such a musical style?

-Hello,We ( ,P.V. and C.z.) have signed the Black Oath with the goal to continue the tradition born and created in the cemeteries of Italy by cursed acts such as DEATH ss,PAUL CHAIN,ZESS,JACULA and more..Inspiration comes out as a natural feeling as we breath and live the MAGICK that surrounds us..Everything here seems to be cursed because of our legends and myths about superstitions and darkness…So it is natural for us to create this kind of music..

Your debut album is a great piece of epic traditional Doom with strong occult influences, what are your overall thoughts on the album, are you happy with how it turned out, what has the response been like overall to it so far? I am reminded of Robert Lowe vocally, I guess that is a comparison you might of heard before?

-Thanx for your word, we are satisfied by the final result as the album is born exactly how it was meant to be..Songs are very creepy and occult and the sound is perfect to give the music the right morbid atmosphere..We have worked very hard to find the perfect soundtrack to a funeral..Vocals are not similar to Robert Lowe but we thank you for comparing it to him..CANDLEMASS is of CURSE a band we like and respect..Album title means a lot for US..3 are the band members, 3rd as our release and 3 as magick number..The Aeon shows what we are now, after some changing inside the band ..SOLVE ET COAGULA

The album was released by I Hate Records, how did that deal come about? Were you familiar with much of their past release output?

-We simply sent him a promo Cd after having several problems with another label(well known in the genre)..Peter showed us a serious interest and the deal has taken life by itself..He has signed the Black Oath and will burn in hell for this ah ah !! I Hate has released most of the interesting stuff we listen to..JEX THOTH, NIFELHEIM, ABYSMAL GRIEF AND more..About LP version we have to mention HORROR RECORDS, this label is doing a lot for us too..I think we have found the best labels to spread our curse..

You have some shows in Europe coming up including some festivals, do you play live a lot in your home country? What shows across Europe have you got planned? What can people expect from a Black Oath live show

-Yes,we have planned some gigs in festivals, METAL MAGIC (DK),MUSKELROCK (SWE) and HELL’s PLEASURE (GER)..Don’t expect nothing else but a magick celebration to burn your soul in hell with us!
About our country,we need serious reasons to play in..WE have to find the right place, moment and bands to share the stage .. We have no time to waste playing in front of useless people…We need servants of darkness,screaming and worshipping our cult..

Italy has a rich history of occult Doom bands, why do you think this is? Are there any other modern Italian Doom bands playing in the same style as yourselves that you can tell us about?

-As we told You before there is a magick atmosphere here, everything seems to speak about death. And don’t forget we have the best cemeterys, catacombs and monuments ..The only new outcomers I can mention are HANDS OF ORLAC from Rome..They play a bit different from us but it’s a very interesting band..Abysmal Grief is another band we support even if it’s not a new one …

The worldwide Doom metal scene is very vibrant right now with some great bands from all across the world making their doomed mark on the musical world, what are some current Doom bands you can recommend to the readers who they might not be familiar with and who are personal favourites of yours??

-We know there’s no need to name THE DEVIL’s BLOOD or GHOST so we recommend you HOODED PRIEST, JEX THOTH, HOUR OF 13, ANGUISH, WOODEN STAKE and SANCTA SANCTORUM (feat STEVE SYLVESTER from Death ss)..We think there‘s a sort of revival for doom music..Be it classic,occult or horror..Every band has a personal path to follow.. 

Thanks for answering my questions, any last words you would like to share with the readers?

-Thanx for this interesting interview , you are about to sign the BLACK OATH..
Our Deepest Condolences to you and the readers…


My first introduction to this band was way back in 1992 via the "Peaceville Vol 4" compilation when I was a spotty 15 year old underground death metal newbie who was just starting to discover a lot of  bands in the scene who were not signed to the bigger labels via various compilations, tape trading, friends etc and that song made an impression on me back then, I later got hold of their debut album "Engraved In Black" via a friend on original cassette tape and I consider this album to be an underrated forgotten gem of the early 1990's Death metal scene. 
The bands profile in this country was no where near as high as fellow Dutch death metal bands such as Pestilence, Gorefest and Sinister due to various reasons, which I personally think is a real shame as their debut album in my opinion is up there with the best death metal album exports that country has produced.

This album was a heavy doom infused death metal beast filled with a good mix of tempos making for a very dynamic album, plenty of Autopsy, Trouble and Sabbath style slower doomy parts fused with more furious paced death metal aswell as plenty of crushing mid paced sections which was topped off with the impressive brutal deep throated growls of Corinne Van Den Brand who was one of the only significant female death metal vocalists of that time and also a crisp powerful Colin Richardson production but the albums initial release (on Modern Primitive) was delayed for a while after the recording meaning the band where left lingering in the shadows whilst peers in the Dutch death metal scene were having albums released to critical acclaim and enjoying worldwide success .

The band followed up the debut with a more thrashy offering  "Sentenced" which went in a different direction and never quite captured the same spark that "Engraved In Black" managed to ignite and a little while later Corinne left, line ups changed and the band mutated into a complete different entity altogether called Outburst. A little while ago Acrostichon became active once again and started gigging  so I decided I would send some questions to Corinne and Richard who were both part of the original line up to probe them about the decision to become active again, what happened first time around with the band aswell as their thoughts on various things and here is what they had to say :-

Hails! Please give the readers a brief background history on the band and who currently plays what?

 Corinne: We started out in 1989 with Richard- guitars, Jos-guitars, Vincent- drums and myself on vocals and a few months later also on bass.Vincent was replaced by Roeland but he also made the decision to leave and he was replaced by Serge. We recorded two demo`s that did very well resulting in a cd called Engraved in Black. Richard left the band and was replaced by Michel and we recorded an EP called Forgotten and the second full-length, Sentenced. Acrostichon split up in 1997 I guess but we re-united in 2009 with Richard (guitar), Jos (guitar), Serge (drums) and myself (vocals/bass) again.
Richard: I left the band in ’94 because of musical differences between me and the rest of the band. I was more into the -what we now call- oldschool stuff and especially the doom material. As the band progressed it changed into thrash, a style I wasn’t that fond of so I decided to focus my attention on my doom-metal band Black Melody (later to become Robotmonster).

Your debut album that was released back in early 90s "Engraved In Black" is a dutch death metal classic in my opinion, but it never got the same recognition as albums by Pestilence, Gorefest, even Asphyx  in this country...and to me is an underrated gem of the early 90s scene. What are your thoughts on this album looking back? Do you think the label back then could have done more to help it get promoted?

Corinne: I still like the album although I would do things different now but it`s always strange to listen to yourself. I`m very critical at my vocals. I could do better now than I did back then. The record company fucked up our release date. It was released a year after we recorded it and by then bands like Gorefest , Sinister had their albums released months earlier so we completely missed the boat.
Richard: I’m still quite satisfied with the album. Colin Richardson did a great job with the production, resulting in an album that still doesn’t sound dated. The only thing I would have done different now is the tuning. We were always tuned in B and since the album was recorded in C sharp it didn’t fully represent the band’s live sound which was much more extreme.
The label didn’t promote the album at all and I’m still very grateful to UK distributor Rough Trade who took the initiative to place some adds and stuff like that. They totally rocked!

This album has never been re-released yet to my knowledge, are there any plans for it to get the reissue treatment?

Corrine: Oh yes. Memento Mori will re-release Engraved in Black with a lot of extra`s like live tracks etc and Badger records will release a double vinyl with our complete reunion gig, the Prologue demo and tracks never released.

Your 2nd album "Sentenced" followed in 1995 what are your thoughts on this album looking back, it was a bit different to the debut. 

Corinne: Yes it is quite different. Richard left the band and was replaced by Michel who is more into thrash metal and you can hear that. But I really like that album although I don`t like my attempt to sing `clean`. What was I thinking !!!! And we don`t like the drumsound either but I totally love those songs !!!
Richard: I already left the band at that point. It does contain a couple of my songs. I listened it again recently and although I think it’s a good album (despite production, and Corinne’s non-grunting parts, Sorry Krin) I do still hear why I left the band. It’s not “my” Acrostichon anymore.

Corrine: I don`t like the`clean` vocals either Richard but I totally dig the songs on Sentenced. Jos and me were always into 80`s thrash metal more than Richard.

Now fill in some blanks for me what happened to Acrostichon after that album, I know you changed name and members...when did you decide to resurrect the corpse of Acrostichon?

Corinne: We did a lot of gigs but the spirit was gone after a while due to shit happening in my personal life. The decided they were better off without me and I was replaced by Tjerk. They decided to change their name into Outburst and became a thrash metal band. They still exist. But a friend of ours organized a festival and asked us if we were interested. And we all were so we rejoined and it was so much fun again. We picked it up very quickly and were louder than ever !!! And we are a team again.
Richard: Yeah, our friend, Mario, asked us for this for a couple of years but for some reason this time everything seamed perfect and we were all excited to do it. We did a try-out rehearsel to see if it would work out and we all felt really good about it. It clicked right away.

What have you been doing since you reactivated the band, much new material written? Played many shows?? Is there a new album in the pipeline?

Corinne: We did a few gigs but we only play occasionally. We don`t want to play every week again. We want to keep it special . We are not writing new songs. Everybody wants to hear the old stuff anyway and those songs still work. They are not outdated at all.

What does the name Acrostichon mean?

It’s a Dutch word. An acrostic (Greekákros "top"; stíchos "verse") is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message.
What are your thoughts on both the current Dutch and worldwide Death metal scene...there seems to have been a resurgence and more interest in the old school style in recent years. Any fave bands from the current crop that stand out?

Corinne: There is a revival of the old bands. The more obscure, the better it seems. Don`t know where that comes from. New bands are struggling to get attention. The scene is still good though. Death Metal is still alive and kicking over here.   

Also how is your local scene these days compared to the old days? Any new local bands that have got you excited?

Corinne: Well, still lots of bands and a few very good ones. My personal favorite is Fuelblooded. More technical death/ thrash with a very good vocalist. There are a lot of good musicians in my area. It seems the youth are playing there instruments much better than in the old days. I think the first thing a drummer learns is a good blastbeat or something. LOL
Richard: I think most of the new bands lean a too much on technique. They’re missing some of the hardcore/punkrock vibe that made the late eighties-early nineties bands stand out.

This Q is for Corinne. Back when Acrostichon first became active there wasn't too many females playing in extreme death/black metal type bands, there was yourself, Derketa ,Jo Bench and a few more women actively involved in bands now there seems to be a lot more females playing in extreme bands why do you think this is?... What are your thoughts on women becoming more prominent in such a male dominated scene as musicians? 

Corinne: There are a lot of good female musicians nowadays. I don`t think that`s strange at all. My only concern is that some of them are selected by their looks instead of their skills but hey…if it works, it works.

Do you think females are finally getting more equality within the extreme music scene? What was it like being a female playing in a band in the early 90s male dominated death metal scene? 

Corinne: I often got that question of course but I never gave it a second thought. I always was a bit of a tomboy anyway. I was accepted by my male colleagues right away. I got along with everybody and I never played out my femininity . I always was one of the boys.

What is the current plans for Acrostichon, where do you want to go with the band in 2011/2012?.

Corinne: We want to do occasional gigs. So if anyone has a nice offer, let us know !!! We will release the things I talked about this year and what happens in the future….we will see. As long as we are enjoying ourselves we will keep going.
Richard: We would like to play special events in countries that never saw Acrostichon in concert.

Corinne- I have always been a big fan of your death growls! When did you realise you had the ability to do such vocals?!

I always could shout very loud, I knew that and when I was 14 or 15 I tried to add more `distortion` to my screams just for fun. And after a few years death metal became more popular when albums of Death, Obituary were released and I tried to do that too. When Jos and Richard started a band I wanted to do the vocals because I was sure I could do it. I was quickly accepted :-D

also what can people expect from the new Acrostichon material?

Corinne : I don`t think we will ever write new material . It won`t be the same anyway . If we will write something it will be for our other bands / projects.
Richard: We’re not too anxious to write new material. As Corinne said, times have changed. Our individual styles have changed too. I think could write cool stuff, but it probably wouldn’t sound the way Acrostichon should sound.

What bands fuel and shape your overall sound? Have the influences changed much since the early

Corinne: We were influenced by great bands like Autopsy, early Paradise Lost, Repulsion etc. Old doom/death metal and a touch of grind/hardcore. The second album is more thrashmetal but Jos and me are still into 80`s thrashmetal. We (Jos and me) even have a 80`s thrashmetal coverband with all of the bands we like.
Richard: In the early days my major influences were Autopsy, Repulsion, Terrorizer, Death Strike, Abomination, Trouble, Pentagram, Saint Vitus, Macabre, Deviated Instinct, Hellhammer and Celtic Frost with a touch of DRI and Cryptic Slaughter. I’m still into these bands but I’ve added a lot of other influences too. If a band sounds intense in a doom, rock or extreme way, I’ll be into it. 

I also made Acrostichon my band of the week this week on the TERRORIZER MAGAZINE website:-