.:.DEATH LETS DARKNESS SPEAK.:.
An Interview with Teloch
by Jonathan R.
Taken from the Enochian language, the term ‘Teloch’ means nothing short of ‘death’—a fitting yet generic title for the Finnish black metal band. Earlier this year, they released a strong second album titled Thus Darkness Spake, crafting a worthy successor to their debut, Morbid Prayer. Even though Finns are known for their taciturnity, vocalist T.I. took the time to the answer our questions and told us about Finnish poets, lineup changes, and the influence the band’s hometown had on their music.
Heathen Harvest: Greetings to you, T.I.! Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview with me. Your second album, Thus Darkness Spake, was released four years after your last EP and seven years after your first album. Could you give us an update about what happened in those years and how you relocated the inspiration to compose new music?
T.I.: We actually never lost our inspiration; it just took us this long to complete the album. J.R. (guitars) and Sota (drums) moved to another town some years ago, and that probably had an effect too as we could not rehearse as much as we used to.
HH: In 2012, V.L. from Blood Red Fog joined Teloch and took over the bass duties. As one can hear, his bass lines are an essential part of the eights songs on Thus Darkness Spake. How strongly was the songwriting in general influenced by his skills and his composition style?
T.I.: It really didn’t influence the way we work. We talked about how we would like to have the bass lines do more than just copy the guitars, but other than that, no guidelines were given. We also knew that V.L. was competent enough to come up with something different, but it was still a real surprise how things turned out.
HH: Without doubt, doom metal influences also play a role in the music of Teloch. Where do you see the strengths of the combination of doom and black metal? What kind of atmosphere and vibe can be created by combining elements of these two musical genres?
T.I.: Doom metal? Really? Well, I am sure doom metal has influenced us, but so has every other metal or music genre we listen to. The doom metal vibe you hear was not planned at all. Still, I don’t think the connection is too far-fetched. Both genres try to channel similar atmosphere (in some cases, at least) and indeed can complement each other well.
HH: In my review, I have written that there seems to be a creative group of people surrounding bands like Blood Red Fog, Lordamor, John the Baptist, Saturnian Mist, and so on who always find together again in various musical projects and who seem to inspire each other. Would you agree with such a perspective? Do you see Teloch as an entity which is integrated into a certain scene/group of musicians?
T.I.: There is a scene in the town we live in, sure, and we are a part of it. It’s a rather small town and people are bound to know each other and even become friends. As the circles are small, people are bound to play with each other in different projects. How much they influence each other I can’t say. We do have some great other bands in our region such as Funerary Bell, Verge, and Charnel Winds, to name a few.
HH: In order to deepen this question a bit: It seems as though Saturnal Records also plays a role in this group of musicians. Not only as a typical label, but also as an entity which is relevant concerning a certain philosophy, an aesthetic approach, and a connection to the underground. How do you view the importance of your new label? And apart from the pragmatic level that Saturnal Records are very efficient, do you guys also share the same views on the world and on metal music in general?
T.I.: We have known most of the guys running the label for years now, and we know that they give 100% effort on everything they do. That, to us, was the most important thing when we were choosing a label. So far, we have nothing but praise to give. And I suppose our views about music and ideology do meet here and there, but since we don’t have an ideological polar star within the band, it’s hard to find a label with ‘identical’ views.
HH: Lyrically, you seem to focus on the more or less classic topics of occultism and Satanism, but there doesn’t seem to be a concrete concept or ‘red thread’ behind Thus Darkness Spake. Would you be as kind as to elaborate a bit about your lyrical interests and inspirations? And, secondly, could you tell us something about Eino Leino, the Finnish poet? What kind of a writer was he and in what way is he relevant for your art?
T.I.: I am behind all of the lyrics except ‘Hymni Tulelle’, which is a poem by Eino Leino, a Finnish poet. He was one of the pioneers of Finnish poetry who wrote about death, love, and nature, among many other subjects. He also used Finnish myths and folktales in his writings. To me, that is a huge ‘turn-on’. All of my lyrics are more or less like diary entries. I write about life in general and about the path that I am on. I am inspired by religious texts, psychology, myths, mysticism, and philosophy. I really can’t name any author or specific book that would have had a major influence on me because I read anything that seems even a bit interesting. During the time I wrote lyrics for Thus Darkness Spake, I was reading Indian and Greek epics. Still, some ideas came from biblical texts and from many other sources. The process I have when making lyrics is hard to explain, so I just use a quote from David Lynch which describes it rather well:
‘Ideas are like fish. If you want to catch little fish, you can stay in the shallow water. But if you want to catch the big fish, you’ve got to go deeper. Down deep, the fish are more powerful and more pure. They’re huge and abstract. And they’re very beautiful.’
But you are right that Thus Darkness Spake is not a concept album—at least not in the traditional sense.
HH: The unknown artist S. Turtiainen has designed your rather minimalist artwork. Could you tell us something about this artist and your vision concerning the cover artwork?
T.I.: S. Turtiainen is a very old friend of mine. I like his style, so we asked if he could work with us and he said yes. As for the design, the title of the album is rather abstract, and we had some options how we could see darkness ‘speak’. The idea that became the final cover was the best of those options.
HH: If I am correct, Teloch was born in the city of Jyväskylä, which is a rather large city in the middle of Finland. Listeners of Finnish black metal usually imagine the artists sitting in small cabins around a campfire. But how much is the music of Teloch also inspired by life in a city? How important is Jyväskylä for the art of Teloch? And can you give us some examples of how urban life influences your lyrics?
T.I.: Musically, I can’t say really, but my lyrics are influenced by urban life—mainly how shallow and pointless it is. You just grave for the latest big thing and expect it to make you whole. Until you realize it did not and then you stumble on as—if not more—disconnected than before. The town itself has little to no importance to us in a musical sense.