.:.DISCIPLES OF THE VOID.:.
Interview with Viktor of Daemon Worship Productions
by Ankit S.
Daemon Worship Productions, a visionary extreme music label based out of the United States, has steadily garnered a formidable reputation in the underground fraternity during the last seven years predominantly due to their unorthodox releases that have constantly challenged the gratuitous confinements of black and death metal. However, they started getting wider acclaim for their indomitable work only recently, thanks to an increase in their online promotion tactics and some impeccable releases that have surfaced on their roster as of late. Ankit of Heathen Harvest had a candid conversation with the label’s creative spearhead ,Viktor. This conversation has been presented below ,and followed by a brief label spotlight.
Heathen Harvest: Since its inception in 2007, Daemon Worship Productions has become an unrelenting force in the extreme metal underground with its indomitable roster and path-breaking releases. How do you chart the label’s evolution during the last 6-7 years?
Viktor: DWP was born during a bizarre drinking session as a ritual outlet for what we considered worthy. While the foundations for it were laid in 2005-2006 even before the label’s creation (2007), the first release didn’t materialize until 2008. For more than a year the flame was maintained by another person, until I returned from my exile shortly before our first release. For a while we worked together, until eventually I had to take control over everything into my own hands. Since then the vector has staid unchanged.
HH: What are some of the releases which will be manifested this year on DWP?
VI: Here is April’s harvest:
- /DWP027/ ARFSYND – Hesychia
- /DWP028/ NIGHTBRINGER & DØDSENGEL – Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno
- /DWP029/ ANDRAMELECH & SERPENT NOIR – Gateway to the Nightside
- /DWP030/ ODEM – The Valley of Cut Tongues MCD
- /DWP032/ MONTE PENUMBRA – Heirloom of Sullen Fall
- /DWP025/ AB IMO PECTORE – The Dissociative Path 12” LP
- /DWP031/ WEAPON – Naga: Daemonum Praeteritum [10-year anniversary release]
HH: Among the forthcoming releases, I have my gaze set upon the Nightbringer and Dodsengel split ‘Circumambulations of the Solar Inferno’, which encapsulates a mystical concept quite unlike any that I have come across in recent times. Enlighten us about this album, its conceptual prowess and details pertaining to the production and artwork. How long did it take for this project to manifest?
VI: This release concentrates on the 4 quarters of the Sun’s journey from death through the underworld to rebirth and to the new ascendance. For the purpose of this release, it is Ra, the Egyptian god of the Sun, but there are numerous parallels with other esoteric / mythological systems that I don’t think need to be listed here. The idea was there since before both bands released their debut albums and DWP was planned as the label since 2009. It is a debut release with the band for a new Nightbringer drummer – Menthor, who is already well-known for his work with Necrosadist, Lvcifyre ,Corpus Christii and Enthroned. The conceptual artwork was created by Cold Poison aka Antithesis, who absolutely coincidentally plays in Andramelech, whose split with Serpent Noir was released at the same time on our label. Absolutely brilliant job from all the people involved!
HH: Another noteworthy release which you have mentioned above is the Weapon ‘Naga – Daemonum Praeteritum’ compilation which features all three pre-album releases by the band. How was this collaboration manifested?
VI: Some time ago I received an offer from Vetis Monarch for such a release. We discussed it for a while & decided – why the hell not? The situation was cleared with Relapse, which is Weapon’s primary label as of now; they gave us the permission and here we are! All the songs were remastered by Lars Broddesson of Marduk fame, who also plays in DWP’s The Ascendant, and he did a pretty damn amazing job. Naas Alcameth of Nightbringer was asked to do the cover art, which he accomplished flawlessly. Another well-known individual was asked to handle the rest of the layout.
HH: You recently signed Monte Penumbra, which is a new project featuring members from Israthoum and Ab Imo Pectore. What can you tell us about this band?
VI: I am not sure if I am the proper person to talk about this project; you have to talk to him about it! W.uR is a brilliant musician and with Monte Penumbra, accompanied by Mons Vcnt, he explores rather different musical depths than he did with the other bands. It is definitely not standard black metal, as some of the things MP utilizes are rather unorthodox in the genre, yet in its essence it fits the DWP concept perfectly – those who have the ears to hear will notice it right away. Mories of Gnaw their Tongues did the wonderfully perverse artwork, while I handled the mastering. After listening to the raw mix I had an idea in my head just how it should sound like and decided to give it a try. As it turns out, it was a good decision, as I am very satisfied with the result!
Of course, W.uR contributed a share of his madness to the last Israthoum full-length as well, which I believe only benefited from that!
HH: The most exquisite quality of DWP is its artistic diversity. No two bands on your label sound alike and each of them possess individual traits, both musically and ideologically. On one hand we have the cathartic dissonance of Svartidaudi, and on the other the blistering blackened death metal of Odem. How difficult is it to maintain this integrity and equilibrium within your label?
VI: It is not difficult at all; it comes naturally, I guess. I don’t plan for our next signing in a certain way. There is also a great level of mutual appreciation among the bands related to DWP, which is an important element of DWP’s ever cataclysmic equilibrium. Indeed, all the bands sound different, but there is that little something, that we find in all the bands we work with. That ‘something’ is the energy and the message contained in their art. I strongly believe that art should challenge. Art (not only black metal) has to carry a message within. A gun is useless without a bullet and a car won’t run without fuel. Black / Death Metal that doesn’t challenge the established norms, doesn’t go against the tide is worthless.
HH: Talking about ideology, DWP is a notch ahead of other black metal labels in the current scenario – comparable only with the likes of The Ajna Offensive or Norma Evangelium Diaboli – as it doesn’t cater to any imbecile trends, and concentrates purely on the musical art. While the average black metal community raves about its so-called ‘Satanic’ or ‘Anti-Christian’ imagery, DWP follows the Adversarial current in an esoteric and spiritual manner. That is evident through the label name itself. How would you explain this complex spiritual tangle and its conjunction with the goals of DWP?
VI: I definitely appreciate both The Ajna Offensive and Norma Evangelium Diaboli, so thanks a lot! Daemon Worship is exactly about what its name says. It’s not about antichristianity; to define one’s goals as that would be self-limiting. It’s like going to war and targeting only people with black striped socks. Our sight is much wider than that. Today’s “antichristian” black metal consists mostly of everyday normal guys with no rebel spark in them. They don’t understand why they want Christianity to be destroyed; they don’t know what they will do after that. Their limited vision exists solely within the paradigm of the world, dominated by Abrahamic religions. There is another just as amusing cast – the new age revival Pagans who want to return to something, whose decaying corpse was long since devoured by the waters of Lethe. And finally there are people that try to present black metal as “just music”. All I can say is that they are not worthy of being discussed.
DWP is dedicated to releasing adversarial esoteric and spiritual art. It takes many forms and shapes and we are open to different manifestations of it, be it black metal, death metal or not even metal at all. Different entities may choose to work with different currents, but in the end, I am proud to say that we share the same ideals and values and that’s the basis of this label’s activities. Therefore a band’s experience with DWP might be different than with some other labels, but I don’t want to see it any other way. We are not here for business. I don’t want to handle it the way “professional” labels handle it. I want it to align with my vision and develop accordingly.
HH: Talking about recent releases, 2012 was a phenomenal year for DWP as the label unleashed several masterpieces throughout the calendar year. Albums by Svartidaudi, Bestia Arcana, Serpent Noir, Israthoum, The Ascendant etc. were instrumental in upping the ante of DWP and garnered a favorable support from the press and listeners alike. How was the experience working with these brilliant luminaries?
VI: Well, first of all, Bestia Arcana’s full–length was released in 2011. But otherwise, yes, 2012 was a very important year for us, just as all the other years were. I definitely enjoy working with all the mentioned bands and I am happy, that people appreciate them. The label takes a lot of time and repays with a lot of stress, but it is also something I strongly enjoy and which became a big part of my life.
HH: Svartidaudi created tremors in the black metal underground with the release of their astounding debut album, ‘’Flesh Cathedral’’, which was deservedly featured in the top album lists of many webzines. It took people by surprise and showed them a unique way of executing atonal black metal. This album was jointly released by DWP and Terratur Possessions, Norway. How was this concept visualized?
VI: It was and still is a very interesting experience to put it mildly. The initial CD version of the album is now long since sold out, but there will definitely be a re-press. An announcement will be made at the right time.
HH: Bestia Arcana is a project which involves yourself and Naas Alcameth from Nightbringer. Have you planned a new release or was it a one-off project?
VI: It’s not a one-off project and, who knows, there might be news coming soon? Keep your eyes open!
HH: Also featured among 2012’s releases was the new Nefandus EP, ‘’Your God is a Ghost’’. This was a much awaited comeback by the Swedish ghouls, and their first release since the magnificent ‘’Death Holy Death’’, which came out in 2009. How did this collaboration with Mika come about?
VI: Well, I have known him for quite a while now. We initially got in contact through our mutual friend who suggested that we might have themes to discuss. I must confess, I am a huge Ofermod fan. Mika had his own label, Left Light Emanations, back then and Nefandus was “signed” to it. After some time he decided to put it on hold for personal reasons and offered me to take over Nefandus (as well as Serpent Noir’s Sanguis XI), which I did. Nefandus and Ofermod shaped Orthodox Black Metal and since then they have continuously evolved without losing their essence. 2013 marks their 20 year anniversary, so you might as well expect some unexpected things to happen.
HH: I am aware that you have a soft spot for post-industrial music too, and since we at Heathen Harvest are predominantly covering that music on our ‘zine, can we expect a dark ambient/industrial release on DWP in the distant future?
VI: All is possible! I listen to a lot of music that could be considered post-industrial indeed & DWP is not stylistically limited in any way as far as I am concerned. From the recent stuff I definitely appreciated Funerary Bell’s last effort, as well as Gnaw their Tongues’ recent perversion. I enjoy some classics as well, so such bands as Death in June, Arditi, Der Blutharsch, Mz.412, Toroidh, Slogun, Genocide Organ, Arcana, Sophia, Brighter Death Now and Puissance are frequent guests in my player. I also have a big collection of Cold Meat Industry releases, but probably not as big as some fanatics might have, as I listen to many different styles and have a lot of stuff to follow.
HH: On behalf of Heathen Harvest, I extend you my gratitude for taking out the time to answer these questions, and wish you the best for 2013. The final space is yours.
VI: Thanks a lot for your support, Ankit! I am flattered our activities interest such a well-respected ‘zine as Heathen Harvest. And I definitely recommend people to keep their eyes open as the worst is yet to come!
Daemon Worship Productions Spotlight
It has been portrayed in various religious allegories across the world that true illumination can only be found in darkness. This theme has often been misinterpreted and misunderstood, as darkness immediately comes to be associated with ‘evil’. But what is this evil that man speaks of but knows nothing about? A few antinomian individuals have attempted to confront the darkness in pursuit of the shimmering Black Diamond which shines infinitely brighter than the mundane light; and among these individuals are the Greek Draconian initiates Serpent Noir. After their widely acclaimed debut EP Sanguis XI surfaced in 2010, they spent two years preparing their first full-length entitled Seeing through the Shadow Consciousness (Open Up the Shells) with the aim of veering deeper into the Draconian mysteries. Musically, they chose a very subtle, ritualistic and mid-paced style of black metal which profoundly illustrated the spiritual themes constituted in the album. They were unafraid to fiddle with traditional metal elements, and have employed skank beats and heavy metal-esque guitar leads to add a new dimension to their spiritual psalmody. Belfagor‘s (Ofermod/Nefandus) presence on drums and ritual percussion has also been instrumental in shaping a distinct sound which is now instantly recognizable with Serpent Noir.
In 2013, Daemon Worship Productions released a split album between Serpent Noir and the Mexican black metal band Andramelech, which is adequately entitled Gateway to the Nightside. However, Serpent Noir employed a slightly different approach on this album as far as the production and song writing is concerned. They drifted from the in-your-face approach of the full-length and concentrated instead on creating sparse, expansive ambient sections and relied heavily on reverb to create a very cavernous, 90s black metal sound. The dreary clean guitars are reminiscent of Dolorian’s haunting yet deeply meditative ambiance. Belfagor’s ritual percussion is all the more prominent, and that has enriched the album’s ritualistic grandeur.
With their devout spiritual fervor and multi-faceted musical prowess, Serpent Noir is certainly a force to reckon with in the near future as they play an even more important role in carrying the legacy of the Draconian Current forward.
Serpent Noir – Seeing through the Shadow Consciousness
Serpent Noir/Andramelech – Gateway to the Nightside
Odem are arguably among the most overlooked extreme metal bands in recent years. Even though DWP provided them with much-needed exposure by re-releasing their originally self-released debut album Rape your God and Pray for Reprieve in 2010, it is quite saddening that these Russian purveyors of dissonant sonic blasphemy haven’t quite received the attention they actually deserve. Musically, they manifest auditory darkness of the highest caliber through their prodigious mix of black and death metal in an over-brimming chalice of hatred. However, with the release of their latest EP, The Valley of Cut Tongues, they have exhibited a thoroughly mind-bending assault of ravenous death metal intertwined maliciously with cacophonous black metal riffs. Their compositions depict a very mature songwriting approach, as they know how to mix catchy mid-paced and groovy riffs with atonal blast beat sections. Still, a major part of the album is stylistically death metal, albeit darker in its conception than most modern releases in the genre. It is not too difficult to be reminded of one of France’s finest underground stalwarts in Arkhon Infaustus upon listening to Odem’s devastating brand of blackened death metal. Perhaps a future album will suffice to elevate Odem to a respectable position in the death metal underground as very few bands today understand the need of creative ingenuity and dexterity within the genre as they do.
Ab Imo Pectore
Hailing from Portugal, Ab Imo Pectore is an avant-garde black metal project of W.ur who also plays in Israthoum and Monte Penumbra, both of which are part of the DWP roster. The Dissociative Path was originally released on Debemur Morti Productions in 2012 but was later re-released in a collaboration between Daemon Worship Productions and S.A.R.S. Productions as a 12’’ LP in 2013. Ab Imo Pectore thrives on a novel mix of Blut Aus Nord style atmospheric dissonance, which was best exhibited on their monumental album The Work which Transforms God, and the swirling mid-paced-to-slow passages which are akin to Ved Buens Ende’s classic Written in Waters. The production is raw and the instruments aren’t very cohesively mixed together, but maybe that’s done intentionally to create a suffocating atmosphere. Although their unique style seems rather impressive on paper, they would need to push harder to achieve a veritable cohesion of their diverse influences and create a stronger output than their debut.
Verbum Verus was created in 2006 by members of the now defunct Dutch black metal band Sauron, although it wasn’t until 2012 that their debut offering entitled Melkiresha saw the light of day on Daemon Worship Productions. According to the Dead Sea Scrolls, Satan was occasionally referred to as ‘Melkiresha’, which means ‘‘my king is wickedness’’. Incidentally, this translation of the word Melkiresha has also been used as a song title for the fourth track on Verbum Verus’s debut album. The band attempts very convincingly to create an essence of the unholy through their debut effort and thus justifies their chosen theme. Musically, the album revels in the heydays of the Swedish orthodox black metal sound, and channels the satanic glory of bands such as Ondskapt and old Watain. Despite the prominence of such indisputable influences, the experienced members of VV have adroitly crafted a devotional album that basks in the grandeur of black metal’s inherent essence and proves yet again that DWP’s goals as a label are far ahead than their contemporaries in all departments. Verbum Verus still have a long way to go, but they can certainly manage to travel the distance with their fervent devotion and the desire to create even better albums than Melkiresha in the near future.