.:.THE HOLLOW WEDJAT.:.
Interview with Acrimonious by
Black metal has witnessed a paradigm shift during the last decade with the emergence of the so-called ‘orthodox’ movement which largely redefined the genre’s essence. Rebellious anti-religious themes paved way for a spiritual and Gnostic outlook as many of these artists have strived for an artistic and ideological representation of the music. The Greek ‘Typhonian’ black metal band Acrimonious are among the few luminaries from this movement whom have constantly improved their artistic standards throughout their short yet significant career. Ankit of Heathen Harvest had an insightful conversation with the band’s creative spearhead Cain Letifer regarding their new album Sunyata and the esoteric mysteries presented therein. Illuminate thyself!
Heathen Harvest: Three years after the release of ‘’Purulence’’, Acrimonious have triumphantly returned with ‘’Sunyata’’ which, in my opinion, is the band’s most accomplished work to date. The musical/ideological intricacy exhibited in this album is a notch further than its predecessors, and it is obvious that the culmination of such a work must have demanded fervent dedication and patience from its creators. Enlighten us about the creative process involved during song-writing and the post-production for the album.
Cain Letifer: Regards, Ankit. With Sunyata, we worked as with any other release by trying to empty the mind from the mundane and trivial aspects of life, and create according to the paradigm of the dark flowering ‘Self’. I rarely keep a riff or idea for Acrimonious, and that is why you seldom see a release from the band. The reason for this is because I have to be sure that the idea is perfectly aligned with an abstract thought that I have in mind instead of just jamming together and writing ‘cool’ music. Austin Osman Spare, a luminary of the 20th Century, described a process by which it is possible for one to unlock the hidden mechanisms of our unmanifested potential. Combining postures and willed intent, the ‘Death Posture’ reveals the ‘Hidden’ in man, and it is this very Hidden part within us that we aim to bring forth via music. I think that is where all true music and art comes from.
HH: Since black metal is more or less an artistic representation of spiritual gnosis (irrespective of the tradition), the visual aspect – along with the music, of course – is a quintessence for the channeling of portent energies, and Acrimonious have given appreciable importance to it on ‘’Sunyata’’. The illustrations present in the booklet, which were rendered by the talented Kyle Fite, are stunning allusions to the album’s musical psalmody; and they suavely compliment the thematic corpus of the album. How did the artistic process come to fruition? Did Kyle strictly work on your lyrical/conceptual explanations or did he have the freedom to elaborate on certain motifs according to his perception?
CL: As soon as an exhibition of Kyle’s work was glimpsed, he was immediately approached for collaboration. His art is full of movement, arcane mystery, and energy. Moreover, it is original and we felt that it would serve as something new and fresh as a final outcome. If you look closer, every person that we have collaborated with so far artistically, has been “one of a kind” and certainly special. Take for example Kriss Hades from the legendary gods of Australian death metal, Sadistik Exekution or the mighty Chris Moyen from France.
Kyle was free to create according to his own vision; the only guidance being the lyrics for the songs that were finished by the time he started painting for the album. We are proud for this collaboration beyond any shadow of a doubt.
HH: Along with Kyle’s alluring illustrations, the album booklet also contains ‘’Naamah’s Holy Sigilum’’ which was created by Vamperess Imperium of Sitra Ahra Arts. Was this sigil exclusively crafted for the ‘Sunyata’ booklet?
CL: Affirmative, this Seal was conceived by V.I. for the Sunyata booklet exclusively. All design and part of the artwork are also hers. Hails V.I.!
HH: Judging from the commentary penned by Kyle in the album booklet, it is apparent that ‘Sunyata’ is a dedicated to the dark Mother Hecate; and its eight fold sonic assault ‘follow an arc of evocative automatism unfolding into the Lunar sheathings of Hecate’s ever radiant mystery’. We will delve into the mystical allegories present in these eight hymns, but before doing so, we must also understand the inspiration behind the chosen theme. Kindly shed light on the aforementioned subject for us and our readers.
CL: Hecate, the ‘Mother of the Underworld’ has been the primal inspiration for the creation of Sunyata, as she had been the magical triple fire of inspiration on a magical and personal level for the new album. Hecate is linked to the crossroads which can be translated in many ways. She is a Goddess of Illumination and change, a protective agent and also the mother of magick and ‘shape-shifting’. In lore and mythos, She is three-headed and is depicted with the face of a snake, wolf and horse (there are traditions that present Hecate in a less theriomorphic way as well); and has been worshiped since time immemorial because of Her Knowledge of the Mysteries of Death and the Dead (among other things which go beyond the scope of an interview), for it is said that she bears the secrets and keys of Initiation. One of Her avatars is also the frog and the wolf, which are both Typhonian messengers and symbols of Cainite mysteries.
HH: The beauty of the antinomian Left Hand Path is that it allows a synchronization of different traditional spheres, and enables a willing adept to forge his/her spiritual paradigm. Acrimonious also seem to follow this ideal, as the lyrical themes explore not only the Western tenets of esotericism but also include certain Eastern theories with the collective aim of attaining spiritual ascension. How do you, and the rest of the band, work with such a complex tangle and channel it proficiently through your music?
CL: It is interesting to see how different tenets of belief relate unto each other according to time, place and dominant creed. The Left Hand Path’s modes of operation are shunned or feared by a collective mass of people and that usually depends on the degree that those people cultivate the notion of duality in their consciousness. Take Christian monotheistic approaches for example and how ignorantly they approach the subject. How do we work? We work via magick and prayer. The spiritual paradigm is forged via direct experience only.
HH: ‘’Adharma’’, the second hymn on ‘Sunyata’ is a Sanskrit definition of antinomianism, and as far as I can remember, it is the first instance of a black metal band using this term. Adharma means ‘’going against the law’’ which is reflected in Acrimonious’s approach towards spirituality and black metal in general. However, the lyrical context of this song describes a poetic narration of the ‘coming of Cain’. How did you manage to blend both the concepts together?
CL: One must understand that since the time a sentient individual is born, he is being manipulated and bred in order to serve a specifically set Law, which is conditioned by the intimate environment. The consequent individual personality is thus destined to succumb to obedience; the brain being structured as a sum of “sub-personalities” (created by family, friends, society, etc.) which dictate the subject to act in a certain way. The Typhonian path indicates the way through which such a personality can be emptied of the gross elements and be reprogrammed via filling oneself up with divine knowledge and skipping this circle of rebirth. There are rites of passages, symbolized by a vast Abyss or desert which must be entered and explored. It is in this very Abyss that Cain’s (perfect Self attained; solar consciousness perfected) essence is alchemically transcended – after having been fully realized — in order to reach a very high illumination which is beyond form. It is a rather complex poem and a basic foundation of magic should be possessed by those who wish to decipher it.
HH: ‘’Glory-Crowned Son of the Thousand-Petalled Lotus’’, the fourth and my favorite hymn on the album, is a veneration of Lucifer. Along with the lyrics, this track is accompanied with an interesting commentary which reads: ‘’Slain is the image of false light. This is the Aeon wherein the First becomes the Last and the Last becomes First. Cast forth from heaven, Lucifer carries its Torch to the Black Earth’’. What does false light signify in this context?
CL: Lucifer is the intellectual Fire, the Phallus or unbroken Will of the Universe. The ‘false light’ is the light of the ‘unawakened Self’ which has not yet passed through certain tribulations and is therefore gross. I find Kyle’s text intriguing; especially when one thinks about the Kali Yuga that we live in, where all sense of spirit is shunned in favor of the Material. So in this yuga and period the Light (Lucifer) must be approached via the gates of the ‘black earth’. Even though I have not asked Kyle what he meant via that one, for me personally the Black Earth has a manifold relevance, first as the tomb which is entered via the womb of Naamah and passed unto the necromantical rites of initiatory passage via Belial, thus balancing and ‘bringing to light’ the unmanifested potential of the chthonic points of power via and of this earth. This is achieved via the blessings of the Lord of the cemeteries whose cross is symbolical of the rites in question. This is symbolized by the Coffin seal in the booklet of Sunyata, being both a gate that leads to the cthonic mysteries, yet also a powerful agent of soul offering and spirit binding. The Black Earth is thus the dynamically explored, fertile soil which is full of treasures and beauty – indeed a Womb of hungry unreleased potential. Lucifer’s Light releases this potential via Force and Power. For this Light is shadowless and merciless in its expansive capacity.
HH: What is the significance of the allegories used in the lyrics for ‘’The Hollow Wedjat’’? According to the ancient Egyptian sources, the Wedjat means ‘the sound one’, referring to the lunar left eye of Horus that was plucked out by his rival Seth during their conflict over the throne. The lyrics also mention Biblical places like Moriah, Sinai, Kurun Hattin, Topheth, Gehenna, Golgotha etc. Shed light on the usage of this multitude of references concocted within this song.
CL: This song was penned by ar Ra’ad al-Iblis, a very good friend of mine and now vocalist of Acrimonious. Hence I can only say that the main idea is the process of the unmanifested light of Alogos (beyond form, beyond thought, ‘beyond the beyond’, which is Chaos) coming into manifestation. There is a great mystery in this process and also a great paradox. As written by the Prophet: “How did it come to pass that the moon rose from the Sea, and Death Dressed itself as a beauteous bride which is paradox perfected? Curled in the Greatest of Mysteries, as She is born into that which She Defies.”
HH: ‘’Black Kundalini’’, the final track on the album is another reference to Eastern occultism, as Kundalini is the most important aspect of Tantrism. This is further justified by the following commentary: ‘’Light crafts the Shadow and it is through the Shadow that we know the Light. Shiva has no being apart from Shakti and Shakti is ever one with Shiva.’’ The communion of Shiva and Shakti is the ultimate aim of a Tantrik, and it is where the powers of Kundalini are truly manifested. How is this communion signified through the lyrics of the song?
CL: It is the snake that destroys completely all illusions and obstacles that keep one chained to normal reality that refrain one from forward movement and progress. Once awakened, ordinary manifestation ceases, as ‘objective’ phenomena subdues and the Eye of Lucifer opens. Cleanse the blocked paths of Sushumna and receive the twin psychosexual elixir of Draconian Illumination. Hail the Dragon!
HH: Occultism is no longer a unique subject in black metal and many modern bands ride on this band-wagon. However, in this trepid age of consumerism very few artists truly practice what they preach, and the average metalhead community is more or less bothered with collecting diehard vinyls rather than exalting the actual message of the music. Do you feel that the true essence of this art is slowly deteriorating due to such trends?
CL: Not at all, there are many bands out there who are totally devoted into what they are doing. Art is beyond trends so the answer is certainly no. Regardless of what the A.I.D.S.-infested filthy mouths of Terrorizer journalists for example proclaim as “flavor of the month”, those devoted into the Cult of extreme Black Death Metal will always carry the torch regardless of trends, and what is considered cool by the herd mentality masses. Your blood is our wine!
HH: As we have discussed above, your lyrics have a poetic demeanor which is quite unlike the usual black metal lyrical themes one comes across nowadays. Besides your knowledge of various esoteric doctrines, which writers or poets have influenced your lyrical style?
CL: I would though say that I am influenced on a personal level by the works of Aleister Crowley, Kenneth Grant, AOS, Andrew Chumbley, Baudelaire, William Blake, Milton, Dante, Umberto Eco, George Bataille, Kafka, Nietzsche, Lovecraft, Dr. Svoboda, and well, the list could go on and on…I am currently researching into many diverse things, such as the Orphic Mysteries, Edmund Husserl, Heidegger, the Cult of the Dead that flourishes mainly in South America, taken in conjunction with the papers from a Chicago-based Voudon Gnostic researcher, called Michael Bertiaux.
HH: What does the future behold for Acrimonious? Are you planning to perform live in support for ‘Sunyata’?
CL: I think that we have a perfect line-up right now, so playing live would be great. Yet we haven’t performed live since many years so it should take a while before being able to perform as we should on stage, especially thinking that our new singer lives in Sweden, while the rest of the band is located in Greece, and because of some other factors.
There is furthermore a split release with Thy Darkened Shade in the works, but this should take a while before materializing.
HH: On behalf of Heathen Harvest, I thank you for taking out the time to answer this thorough questionnaire and wish you the best for your spiritual and artistic endeavors.
CL: Thank you Ankit for all the warm support and dedication! All the best to you and to those whose blood boils with the blood of Kingu.