In the last issue we had an interview with unique Vassafor from New Zealand, this time we have approached the more unknown BARSHASKETH band, also from New Zealand and we do not leave the Black Metal territory. I have often mentioned that bands from New Zealand and Australia have their charm, strangeness, magic, and so are BARSHASKETH. Their beginnings dates back to 2009 and so far they have released three full-length albums: "Defying The Bonds of Cosmic Thraldom" '10, "Sitra Achra" '13, "Ophidian Henosis" '15 and the last one was the split with Polish Outre. Of course there are other demos and splits. In the questions I have leaned on various interesting themes to give some interesting insight to the band, I hope you will enjoy this interview and maybe you will meet another gruesome band with an dark vision. The questions were answered by KG (guit, bass, vox) and GM (guit).
Greetings to the Barshasketh band. Could you first explain what your band name actually represents, how you got to that word and what does it mean to you? Does this name make out the band's overall concept? Also the logo has an interesting font, who is its author?
GM: Our name derives from the Hebrew Beíer Shachat, which roughly translates as ĎPit of Corruptioní; a multifaceted esoteric idea concerning the self existing in a cyclical process that goes through phases of destruction, purification and rebirth. This idea has underpinned our lyrical content since our very beginnings as a band.
We have a couple of different logos that we use for different purposes, but I presume you refer to the Ďambigramí logo that has been our main logo for a while now. It was designed by our ex-bass player ?ao in 2013 and immediately became a favorite with us. Although ?ao didnít stick around long enough to play on any of our recordings, he did leave us with this unusual and striking logo.
You have released three full-length albums, the first one as a 100-pieces of MC tapes. Were you doing a re-press or a re-release in CD form? If not, do you think about this step for the future?
GM: The first full-length has been reissued twice already, once as a limited, handmade edition on CD by ourselves (this edition has been sold out for a long time) and then a run of 500 digipacks was released by Razed Soul in 2013- there were just under 60 copies left of this run last time I checked. There are no plans for any further re-releases on tape or LP at the moment, but who knows what might happen in the future.
Fans on Metal Archives have compared you to Mgla, in addition you have released split with Polish Outre. What do you think about this comparison? Is the latest third wave of Black Metal the most vibrant soil for you, or you feel better in the second wave?
GM: I donít think itís an especially insightful comparison, given that Metal Archives has also compared us to Ondskapt and Deathspell Omega. Considering that these bands sound completely different from each other, itís only logical to deduce that our sound is not so easy to pin down. I think that weíve developed our own style over the years, with a heavy emphasis on layering different guitar parts and creating counterpoint between them. In terms of influences, we draw inspiration from some of the seminal black metal acts of the second wave, right up to contemporary acts.
Your music is more astral, spiritual and mystical than the classic Black Metal raw style, even though there aren't such rapid and crushing moments missing. I would say these two basic positions alternate most often. What does each of these positions symbolize and present to you?
GM: Opposing forces are central to some of the concepts that we explore in our lyrics, so itís only logical that our music reflects this with sections that contrast with each other. On the whole, as weíve refined our lyrical approach to the themes that interest us, I think we have gravitated towards a song writing approach that is simultaneously contemplative and violent, as you describe.
Is Barshasketh music metaphysical to you?
GM: Yes, absolutely. Everything is based around an adversarial exploration of the nature of the self. Itís a bit of a clichť to say it, but itís more than music to us.
Do you use some rituals, whether personal or magical, to help you get deeper into subconscious, altered states of consciousness, creation in a certain environment, at night, or something similar? Do you think these things can deepen the music, or is it all about the pure mind and the clear idea here and now?
GM: I depends what you mean by this- we donít perform invocations backstage before our performances if thatís what you mean. However, Iíve found that inspiration does come to me at night time, maybe itís something about the lack of noise and distraction or perhaps itís the ambient darkness that is more conducive to focusing the mind. Iíll sometimes stay up until dawn finishing a song.
We like to perform with a static red light and with some candles burning if the venue allows it- we find that this can help both ourselves and the audience slip into the right frame of mind. That said, the bulk of the atmosphere is created by the performance itself. Some of our very best sets have been in completely nondescript settings, but the energy in the room was simply palpable nonetheless.
KG: A ritual can be any act that has meaning instilled in it, and for some, an act as simple as drinking a beer every day after work can be more potent than dressing up in robes and chanting in candlelight. In that sense, the act of the band eating, drinking and spending time together before a performance could be considered a ritual as thatís when we begin attuning to one another.
Have you been having special dreams that can influence all your day when you still think about what do they mean? I would also like to ask for sleep disorders. Have you ever had nightmares when you wake up sweaty in the middle of the night and you do not know what's going on? Also the sleep paralysis, did you have an experience? What significance do you attach to the dreams?
KG: I dream vividly and frequently, and often experience nightmares and occasional sleep paralysis. However, I attach very little significance to dreams in general and chalk them down to leftover stimulus of the day filtered through an overactive imagination. A few dreams have stuck with me from childhood, but like anything else, the only meaning in them is what I have instilled myself.
What does death symbolize for you? Do you consider yourself as a worshiper or rather an observer? Does your view of this phenomenon change with an increasing age? Have you ever been on the edge of death and how did it affect your perception of the world? Is theme of death an inspiration for Barshasketh?
GM: I suppose that would be both. We all worship death, consciously or not in a sense, since it dictates many of the decisions that we take. The notion of death itself occupies a central place in the human mind. Death is the engine that makes regeneration possible, both in a literal and metaphorical sense- the old has to make way for the new.
I have had a couple of close brushes with death in the form of car accidents that could have easily taken my life if just a few variables had been different. It had the same effect on me that this kind of experience has on a lot of people- It made me more determined than ever not to waste whatever time I have left.
From a New Zealand perspective it may seem a bit like you've been isolated from the rest of the world compared with Europe or United States where is the possibility of traveling without an air transport and the like. It can concern mainly people who do not have a lot of money. Don't you ever feel insolated? On the other hand, it can also be an advantage, a special mystic landscape, nature. Where do you see the greatest benefits to being a New Zealand resident?
KG: Only I (Krigeist) am from New Zealand, and I havenít lived there in over eight years. Itís geographically isolated and sparsely populated, relatively speaking, but I wouldnít say I ever felt any sense of isolation because of those things. I never felt at home there in a social sense, which is why I made the move. I suppose the greatest benefit would be its natural beauty and its huge array of landscapes.
I asked similar question also Vassafor which you may know. What could you say about the natives of New Zealand, the Maori? In general, they are known to have been obsessed by their war culture, cannibalism, but also as skull hunters. This old civilization certainly had many of its special customs, rituals, secrets, legends. Have you ever been interested in this culture, heard some strange stories from your old parents or anyone? Have you ever been inspired by them?
KG: Barshasketh does not touch on any Maori themes, but I have explored them in my other projects Belliciste and Bron. As well as this, I am working on a new project with an old friend in New Zealand which explores the darker, adversarial side of Maori mythology.
When I was a child, I was surrounded by myths and old stories and my mother frequently spoke of Turehu, spirits who are said to live deep in forests and on mountains. I grew up near the site of an old Pa (fortified settlement) called Turuturu Mokai, which refers to the stakes upon which the heads of slain enemies were mounted. Near the site is a graveyard for colonial soldiers and both of these locations are rich in legend and superstition.
Are you rational person, or you feel any special feelings at night since childhood, are you interested in spirituality and various occult ways? Have you ever had an experience with something inexplicable or paranormal? Do you think the Black Metal musician should be so established, or he can be a normal rational person?
GM: I donít consider rationality and spirituality to be opposites- rationality and superstition yes, but what I understand by spirituality is something else entirely. Itís striving to understand ourselves and the strength that resides within. Itís determining values that guide us and finding oneís path according to those same values.
There are plenty of things in life that cannot be explained, dreams are a good example. Which isnít to say that these things are paranormal, they are just aspects of reality that we do not have enough insight into to understand or any comprehensible to the human mind.
Iím not terribly interested in dictating what the archetypal Black Metal musician should be like- Iím a lot more interested in what we are doing as a band.
Could you write what book you are reading now, how interested you are and why you have chosen it for reading? Do you like literature and what kind? What type of art fascinates you and do you devote yourself to some art besides Barshasketh?
GM: Iím reading two book at the moment, one of which is an Introduction to Mythology by Lewis Spence and the other is War by Other Means by Robert Blackwill and Jenifer Harris, which is a book about geopolitics.
Iíd like to think that I have a pretty balanced reading diet, but classic literature and poetry have been my main focus over the years (itís classic for a reason most of the time), besides that I like to keep my analytical side satisfied by reading about things that are a bit more factual like economics or geopolitics.
It probably comes as no surprise that Iím drawn to artists that cover the darker and more disturbing side of life. When it comes to visual arts, Francis Bacon, Salvator Rosa and Hironymous Bosch rank among my favorites. For cinema, Bergman, Tarkovsky and Haneke have been influential to me in their own way.
Iíve always had such a strong affinity with music that I find it hard to devote any time to any other kind of artistic pursuits. Iíve tried drawing on a few occasions, but the results were always so underwhelming that I ended up going back to working with the raw materials I am most familiar and comfortable with: harmony and melody.
I would like to ask you one special question. Although you are coming from New Zealand, but Australia is also quite close to you. From there come cult Dead Can Dance band who is just going to release a new "Dyonisus" album and next year will be their world tour. How do you relate to their music and how they influenced you personally?
KG: Dead Can Dance is a band Iíve only discovered relatively recently, and while I enjoy their output immensely, I wouldnít say it has had any perceptible influence musically or personally. However, I am very much looking forward to their Belgrade date of their upcoming world tour.
Ok, that is all from me, hope I have not forgotten anything. Thanks for this interview and hope we will meet somewhere on live show or something similar. Wish you a lot of creative inspiration!
Thank you for the interview, we hope to perform in the Czech Republic soon!
KG, GM 13. 10. 2018 Mortuary