Often we are interested in a whole new bands, sometimes they have almost nothing released yet, but there can take place an interesting interview. This is also the case with ARCHAIC TOMB from Portugal. First I heard their only published song from bandcamp site, which served as a promo for the upcoming "Congregations For Ancient Ritual" demo and I was totally overwhelmed by their style. The questions came from me pretty quickly, the band still suggested letting us hear the whole material in case we wanted to add or change something. I left everything as it was and I think the result from the band is great. I would characterize their style as the occult Death / Black, a bit like Grave Miasma. I would say who likes this English band, he will also taste ARCHAIC TOMB. The demo was released on a CD of 300 pieces under interesting Caligari Records label. The questions were answered by D.S. (vox, guit).
Many bands are trying to embody the darkness and feel the atmosphere into the deepest depths. I feel by your music you have been able to perfectly comprehend what Lovecraft wrote about, some hidden and dangerous horror ...
D.S.: Lovecraft is definitely an inspiration to the most extreme metal bands since ever. Hellhammer/Celtic Frost already embodied the obscure landscapes and feelings within Lovecraft writings but, today the influence that his work has in extreme bands is even wider. Just look at unique acts like Unaussprechlichen Kulten, The Great Old Ones, Chthe’ilist, Shub Niggurath, Solstice, Sulphur Aeon, etc and you can see how far creativity can go. For me, a band who incarnates in their music the creativity of Lovecraft through darkness and evil has to be necessarily different from what you ever heard. The beauty of reading his stories is that each person can actually make their own ideas of the atmospheres. The art of passing these visions to music is something wicked and crazy that could turn into something unique and extreme.
Lovecraft once wrote his works should be read in a suitable environment and I think ARCHAIC TOMB's music is just as good for listening in a suitable environment, just loneliness and darkness can deepen the strange and mysterious feelings. Do you ever listen to music on special occasions and in a special environment?
D.S.: I listen music in pretty much every occasions I can. But I do have my own ritual when I listen music at home, surrounded by my own walls filled with records shelves and artefacts. Booze is always mandatory and candlelight are some of the pre-requirements to create that environment I like. But not only to listen, but also to enter the world and mind of the artists. Try for example to listen to Urfaust or Black Cilice while you wash the dishes. It just won’t work, it’s impossible. The mood and feelings of the listener do play an important role for the understanding of what certain extreme styles like Black and Death Metal are trying to create and expose. When I was a kid I remember perfectly how I was introduced to Deicide: In Total Darkness. This was definitely a turning point in my life.
Do you have any special rituals or ways to write such a unspeakable horror music? Some musicians dig their guitars underground before recording or visit the old crypts to get an even more deep-felt recording. Do you think such ways can help to create even more authentic track, or it have to be all in the head and subconsciousness?
D.S.: I always write music alone and at night. I never record anything to “do not forget” or to decide later whether is good or not. Natural selection applied on the riffs will do the rest. I can’t speak about the others but I do speak for myself. Many times I do have a need to write and on channeling certain energies I feel. And certain times I just want to play and feel the atmosphere.
It's totally clear from your music you just do not mess up and you do not want to bring only a piece of Metal music to the listener. There's a huge depth in your music, occult spawn and unclean practices. How do you perceive your music personally?
D.S.: We do not intend to create shallow or happy music. And we also do not put strict boundaries on the music as long as it represents my visions of Death, Ritualism and Occultism. The music we create is certainly not anything new and we don’t feel embarrassed or worried about it. We just play the music we like and we will continue to do this way as far as I can tell. The feelings you capture on your judgment when you listen to Archaic Tomb is just the proof that we managed to transmit to our music the senses we wanted. The magic of a human sacrifice, the crucifixion of the convicted, occult rituals to ancient gods by any means involving death and blood incantations are always practices that lead us to invoke such senses. The ritualization of those acts are in a way the materialization of worship. Worship to thee or to any other similar belief is evil and that is all we want to showcase in the music we create.
I have to say I have played Vast Cursed Landscapes track many times in a row and I always have the willies of those harmonies you put in it. Although I did not get to the lyrical page, but it is clear from the tone and vocal phonetics it deepens the music, forming a unified form. Could you write down what is this track about?
D.S.: The lyric was written by our close friend Kepler and adapted for the song. And for me, the song is about the state of possession in a spiritual refuge. Written in the woods, Vast Cursed Landscape is the representation of a possessed mind in complete harmony with the mysterious ways of the nature. What is evil and what is good in nature? Is Death good or evil? There’s a balance in between and there’s no life without death.
Is "Congregations For Ancient Rituals" your first recording? Overall, finding something closer about ARCHAIC TOMB is hard and, in essence, not so substantial. I even think that when a band deliberately hides its identity and does not shed own photos on social networks and the like, it creates an even more impressive aura of mystery, inaccessibility...
D.S.: Thanks for your kind words Mortuary. "Congregations For Ancient Rituals" is in fact our first recording. We never did anything together before despite all the other members are experienced musicians in the Portuguese underground. Believe it or not, I am the beginner here in the occult arts of extreme music. Regarding the hidden identity, we just feel that the music has to speak by itself. Personally, I do not have any interest in making my identity revealed because I pursuit no credits on this. This is Archaic Tomb, as a whole, and that is the identity that should be known. The devotion we have on this art is not in sake of personal acknowledgement but in search of our own joy.
What does death mean to you? What is the meaning of death for ARCHAIC TOMB creation? Do you perceive death as the end of the journey, or you see something mystical about it what is connected with everything that has ever existed?
D.S.: For me, Death is a transformation. The end of a journey but like in anything else in nature, every form of living and energy is never lost, only transformed. LaVeyan followers tend to disbelieve in the afterlife and believe everything ends once you are dead. Therefore, are encouraged to live in full joy fearless of god judgements and punishments in the next life. I don’t really agree with this philosophy. Every energy is used on something else. But is not exactly the Death itself that fascinates me, but the ways of Death and all the results of being Dead. This has been of great influence in every means, and represents a huge driving force in creating evil on human heart, and in nature as well. Death, from this perspective, has always been also a weapon on every way of living, civilizations and religions. Since primitive times you could kill or get killed: Survival. You could use Death as a sentence to keep civilian order and justice. And religions uses Death in many ways: as disincarnation, reincarnation, as a transitory process to whatever end, or even an end by itself, or as an eternal punishment by heresy like it was on final acts of the Inquisition. Every kind of religion used Death somehow to its own benefit, whether good or bad, and this type of use of Death is probably the one I tend to get more interested.
What was the reason to form ARCHAIC TOMB band? What does that name, logo and vision mean to you?
D.S.: Archaic Tomb is the concretization of an old wish of me and Deimos to materialize our spiritual bond. This project took form more than 15 years ago but because of various life circumstances Archaic Tomb never saw daylight before the year of 2015. D.C. and A.C. came on board later in 2016 and completed the circle we needed to concretize our visions. The name itself represents for me everything what is all about the band both musically and lyrically. In a way is a primitive manifestation of rituals and religions directly and actively connected to death. The Death is all around us but the best way to represent it is through a coffin, a grave or a tomb. The associated primitive feelings are also presented on the logo and they are fear, belief, despair, strength, surviving, suffering, guilt, rawness and rudness, with a big etc.
How did it look like in the Rock n'Raw studio while recording? The analogue production certainly emphasizes underground sensation and literally the grave sound. Is this sound the same clue and another integral aspect of your ARCHAIC TOMB vision?
D.S.: Rock n’Raw studio is basically our physical home. It is where we rehearse and where we feel comfortable enough to invoke the dark forces and put them on in our music. So, it became natural for us to move on that way. And of course, we wanted to sound analogue, we didn’t want to sound any plastic. The energy, power and feeling of an analogue sound was definitely a pre-requirement to our visions. Even though, also must be said that not all the instruments were recorded in Rock n’Raw. We used other resources and help from other good friends, not exactly in studio, which also made the difference when you talk about pressure to do the job. We felt good doing so on this way, for different reasons, and at the end D.C. made a terrific job on the mixing and mastering, so I would say I’m quite satisfied with the final result which ended up being exactly what we were searching for.
Your style might be labeled perhaps as occult and sepulchral Death / Black Metal. Sure you listen to bands like Grave Miasma, Dead Congregation, Necros Christos, Irkallian Oracle, Teitanblood, and so on. Do you think all these monstrous bands make up some new scene, something special that has not been here yet or do you take it all individually?
D.S.: I do certainly listen to all those bands and I do feel a strong bond to that kind of music, but not only. I do not want to look pretentious or so but the music I like to listen is quite beyond Death Metal. Now, surely bands like the ones you’ve mentioned played a strong influence on shaping Archaic Tomb’s sonority, but I believe many other styles are included in our art. I like to think on Black Metal for example, or even Doom. There are some names nobody would tell, but for example, Portuguese bands like Thormenthor or Decayed’s “The Conjuration of the Southern Circle” are strong influences on me. But when you ask the other members the range of music can go much, much further, I can tell. Now, regarding the second part of your question, I do believe bands like Grave Miasma, Cruciamentum, Dead Congregation, Necros Christos and the likes do make a sort of second generation of old-school and obscure Death Metal bands. Despite the label I think they brought something new and darker, more profound and deep that emphasizes and pushes the genre to another level and boundaries. But on the top of that you still have space for innovation and creation. Think about Bölzer, Qrixkuor, Howls of Ebb, Khthoniik Cerviiks, Portal, Abyssal, and a big etc. So, if this is a trend, a new genre or simply a bunch of good bands only time will tell…
We have the beginning of the new year 2018. How do you look at the previous one from the point of view of humanity, music and development in general? Which albums of 2017 are your absolute best and how you perceive, for example, last Morbid Angel album?
D.S.: I don’t like to speak about politics neither sociology and stuff like that when I answer in behalf of Archaic Tomb. Because it is clearly off-topic and because my ideas might not be necessarily the ones from the other members. So, I will gently skip this part, hope you don’t mind. Generally I think this year there was no big development on extreme metal music. I might be wrong, and of course this kind of opinion is always subject to the respondent views and knowledge, but I sense a trend to unmeasurably elevate every Death Metal album above all, with few exceptions of course. And this does not mean necessarily that Death Metal is now better than any other style, or vice-verse, no. Only means that some other bands from other genres might be strongly overlooked. An example of this is the visible trend to Death Metal in Tops like the ones in Voices From The Darkside. Is this a trend? Maybe. Regarding the new Morbid Angel album, I don’t like it, sorry. The production is awful, I just listen drums everywhere and even if I can overrun that from my head I don’t think the songs are that good. It’s unbalanced and overproduced. But…this is only my opinion. And like every wise man would say, Art is the own perception of the artist, is not meant to be good or bad but, on the other hand, I’m also free to express if I like it or not…
Your new "Congregations For Ancient Rituals" stuff is already out there. Have you met with some feedback?
D.S: "Congregations For Ancient Rituals" is out on CD and tape format by Caligari Records, one of my favourite tape labels. I admire every and each release the label puts out and for me, at least, it is a great honour to be involved with that label. Later on, we will have an LP version also but for now I can’t say anything else about it. On due time more details are going to be revealed. So far the feedback has been quite good, much better than any personal guess, to be honest. Like I said before, firstly we make music to ourselves, but if other people may enjoy it then of course we will be happy with that. Satan lives!
D.S. 22. 1. 2018 Mortuary
Congregations for Ancient Rituals