Verses of Fire
TEMPLE OF BAAL was founded in 1998 by Amduscias as a one-man band, but the first 'Satan Lux Soils' demo featured Arkdaemon on bass and Herr Rikk on drums, just then it was still a pure Black Metal. After few demos the band recorded 'Servants of the Beast' debut taking enough attention, then came another albums as 'Traitors To Mankind' and 'Lightslaying Rituals', gradually they began to gain some elements of Death Metal and last year they released their last 'Verses of Fire' album. Meanwhile they managed to issue several split EP´s with Aosoth, Sargeist, Ancestral Fog or Ritualization for example, they starts talking about TEMPLE OF BAAL even more than before. So let's get to the interview itself, questions were answered by Amduscias (vox, guit).
Hell-o, what is your view at your musical development? Initially orthodox Black Metal band, and the last album is full of Death Metal riffs, you have also modified the sound according to this...
Amduscias : Well the songwriting has definitely developed from the very beginning you're right. So has the sound. You have to keep in mind that we are people who were teenagers at the end of the eighties, and so we went through all the progression, Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal, Death Metal... We saw and lived the Death Metal explosion, and the rising of 90's Black Metal... All of this belongs to our roots and we can't skip them. We're still big Death Metal fans, so eventually it was doomed to show up in our music and sound. But the core, the spirit remains definitely Black Metal, in the atmospheres we tend to develop, in the spirituality that remains the basics of Temple Of Baal. We will never forsake this Black Metal dimension; it would be forsaking the soul of the band.
You belong to orthodox enough bands and sure some orthodox metal heads listen to you. Haven’t some of your old fans been disappointed with this development? Personally I like it and take your new stuff as your best.
Amduscias : Oh sure, some people accused us of all the evils of commercialism and so on, but as I've already stated, the development of the Temple is what it is because we're 100% sincere. We compose what we feel, we never were into a pseudo career strategy like "let's do this, let's do that, I will sell more" etc. The only thing that matters to me is to create an art that lives and breaths my spirituality, my convictions, which are deeply connected to the Dark side of occultism. There can be no question about this, Temple Of Baal has always been the illustration of this quest towards the other side, and the development of the sound and songwriting definitely illustrates my progression on this spiritual way. If people fail to see it, then they're blind and stupid. Satanism and Luciferianism are the very core of the Temple and we see ourselves as a Religious Black/Death Metal band. So if by orthodox you mean "people who take Satanism seriously", those people who turned their back at us are not that serious. If you mean "people who think Black Metal should sound like Darkthrone and nothing else", well I'm sorry for them if they fail to hear the obvious link to early 90's Black Metal contained in our music. People should learn to listen to music and to read lyrics. For most of these so-called orthodox metal heads may claim to be the great master of occultism and Black Metal and so on, but what are they in the end? Drunkyards and geeks, stuck to their computers and their beers. All I see is that we're taken seriously by the people whose opinion I see as valuable.
I find your new album quite complex in all aspects, artistic metal work which is based on Metal roots, but it also represents some modern form of dark extreme Metal. Do you agree with this definition?
Amduscias : Well yes, I guess you're right, we have very deep Metal roots, but we're not close-minded, and we try to listen to as much different music as we can. Furthermore, our ex-guitar player Alastor, who contributed to this album before leaving the band, was influenced by other musical styles, newer bands, even some Hard Core or D-Beat bands, or Post Rock stuff... We don't totally close our doors you know. If something strikes us as creating an atmosphere that we can relate to, it can interest us, and sometimes influence us, maybe. But we're not at all trying to sound "up to date", we're not trying to get influenced by the "current hot thing", we just walk our way, we know where we stand. I will always be a fan of Darkthrone, I will always worship old Mayhem, or Beherit, etc. But yes, newer bands that strike me as interesting (some are not anymore that new, I guess, but well, we're not getting any younger), would be Anaal Nathrakh, Arkhon Infaustus, Dodecahedron, Mgla, Svartidaudi, things like that, you know. We're not "trying to sound like them" at all, it's just that we find them interesting, we listen to what they do, we like it, and that's it, I guess our songwriting will always evolve with our tastes, but as I said, our Black/Death/Thrash roots are far to deep to even think about cutting them, we're not going to turn into "the next hype stuff", cut our hair and wear hoods or beards and glasses like hipsters, right ? We're Temple Of Baal. We are a religious Black Death Band, to the Death. Hail Satan.
Could you write how has your last 'Verses of Fire' album been arising? Could you compare that songwriting process with the previous ones? Which track are you most proud of?
Amduscias : It took a longer time than I originally though. I would have liked to see it done one year before its actual release date but hell... In fact most of the songwriting did happen in a few months, then we had to rehearse the tracks of course, and planning issues delayed the stuff. But we're damn proud of this album. The songwriting process is so much easier now... We do demos in our homes, send them to the other guys via file transfer, then we arrange the whole while rehearsing. It's the very first spark that will never change. The process before recording those demos, the special state I have to set my being into, in order to "receive" the music and lyrics... A sort of unexplainable act of Religion and Faith, achieved through a process that could be likened to meditation. Tracks I'm the most proud of? The Star 418 and its mix between more contemporary Black/Death approach and Darkthronian inheritance, Walls of Fire that sums up EVERYTHING the band is about, a hymn of pure dedication to our Lord on a songwriting based on a balanced mix of Black Metal atmospheres and Death Metal hints... But to tell you the truth, I really am proud of this album, entirely. It is diverse, wide, yet unified; it is a manifest of everything that inhabits the soul of our band since its creation in 1998, this unalterable and unspeakable flame...
New CD is still fresh in stores and distros. Have already came some responses in the form of reviews or personal reactions of fans? It is clear to me that most of them are positive, but what about the negative reactions? Were there any?
Amduscias : Most reactions are good, yes. There were of course negative reactions, as usual, some people saying the album was too monolithic, or too long, other ones who made me wonder if they had listened to the right CD, because if I trust what they have wrote, we're a sort of Revenge-copycat with songs that had all the same structure and an unlistenable, noisy sound ! (Duh ?) But well. You never can avoid unprofessional wannabe journalists, these days it's too easy to set up a webzine even if you're underaged... But most of the answer has been very positive, even in countries that previously slagged us off like Germany for example. So far I think it's the best answer we got for an album.
I like your album is quite varied, when I take e.g. The 10th Aethyr song, it contains a lot of slow and very atmospheric riffs, that track literally sparkles mystery, and not only that one, on the other hand, you also use a fairly brutal moments, fast, frantic arcades. Also you have worked up the composition; many songs are longer than 7 minutes. Will you play a lot of new songs live? What about last Walls of Fire song exceeding 10 min. for example?
Amduscias : We do play Walls Of Fire live yes. We've always tried to have a varied songwriting on each of our albums. I'm not too fond of albums that sound exactly the same from one end to the other. I was listening to Transilvanian Hunger the other day, and while I totally get the reason why it sounds the way it does, I'm much more into A Blaze In The Northern Sky with its varied and elaborated songwriting. Kathaarian Life Code is the perfect example of what I'm expecting from a Black Metal song: Blast beats of course, but mid tempo or even slow and Doomy parts as well, and a really profound feeling, a feeling of religious Devilworship, and it's a feeling that I've always been trying to convey through Temple Of Baal as well. I also like very brutal things, but brutality is definitely not the essence of Black Metal to me. There are all those people who will say that they love De Mysteriis from Mayhem "because it's their most brutal album", but what the fuck? Those guys totally miss the whole point ! The most important aspect is the feeling, not the brutality. If you want brutality, listen to Grind Core ! My influences include brutal bands like Angelcorpse, Marduk and so on, but they also include very slow and atmospheric bands like Samael's godly first three albums, I could never do a one-face album on the musical side of things. Besides, going back to A Blaze In The Northern Sky (which, as you might have figured out by now, is maybe the Black Metal album I would choose if I had to keep only one of the genre, as difficult as it may be), the parts I like the most on this Monument of Darkness are the slower parts. Not the brutal ones!
What do you find essential in your songwriting process? Is it all about the atmosphere and energy only?
Amduscias : As you might have guessed with my last answer, it's the atmosphere that I value the most. A brutal riff, per se, means nothing to me. Temple Of Baal's music is brutal, that's a fact, but its most important aspect is its ability to convey my faith. It's much more deeper than just "being brutal", or even "being this or that". Temple Of Baal is connected to another reality, other realms, other dimensions that I cannot even describe with words, and from which I "receive" all the music.
Your music is full of anger, bad and negative feelings, just music of left hand path. Do you think someone can take your music as positive, just that there he does not feel the evil?
Amduscias : Maybe. I remember an interview with Gene of Angelcorpse, or was it Pete, maybe... Who said that to him, Angelcorpse was a positive band, and not a negative one. Yet, Angelcorpse's sound is definitely sinister, isn't it? So if people see a positive element in our music, if that's the way they feel, why not. I guess you'll always find people like this. Just like you will find people who will just focus on the brutal side of our music, and will not get at all what's behind it and at its core. They like to drink, they like to mosh and get wild and that's it, there's no communication with what's beyond, in their minds. But it doesn't matter, they are here, they like the band for one of its side and I respect that. They feel the energy and throw it back their own way, and we need this energy as well to perform the ritual that is each Temple Of Baal show.
A quite distinctive Black or Black / Death scene has been formed in France in last years what is interesting enough, maybe it all started by bands like Deathspell Omega, Borgia ... Do you find yourselves as part of this scene, or you take yourselves as chapter by itself? What do you think of this your school of Metal in general? Many elements of your scene penetrate even to the bands that are completely from other parts of the world...
Amduscias : I don't want to wave any flag. We are Temple Of Baal, we are from France, and there are as you said fantastic bands from France, and of course we feel connected to its history and legacy, bands such as Mütiilation, Vlad Tepes or Belketre will always be in my playlist for example, not to mention Antaeus, in which I used to play guitar in the past. But we also have connections to other bands, from other countries. For example, there is a certain link that connects Temple Of Baal with Watain from Sweden, we've been in close contact since the beginning of our bands and Erik has contributed in the artwork of our first album, and he has written the lyrics to "Deathblessed" from this album as well. I feel also close to a band like Archgoat, we have a deep mutual respect since many years. I also have done guitar work for Devathorn from Greece... You know, what counts to me is the views of the bands towards Black Metal, and its religious and ritual aspects, and it transcends every border of the human, mundane world. We don't feel close to French bands because of their nationality. We feel close to our friends, and people who share the same conception of Black and Death Metal as an act of Faith. This makes a whole difference.
During your long existence you have already gone through different lyrical themes, but there always figured darkness. Does the new CD contain any other topic you have not dealt with yet?
Amduscias : All of the lyrical aspects of Temple Of Baal are connected to one thing : Satan, Lucifer, their cults and their avatars through the ages, and their pantheon. It can have different faces. For example, on Verses of Fire, ?? ?????? 418 is the manifest of my reading of Aleister Crowley, in a Luciferian perspective, although I perfectly well know that Crowley was not a Luciferian of a Satanist. There is also this song, Lord Of The Raging Seas, which is linked to the element of Water, a topic that had never emerged before in Temple Of Baal... But all of our songs, from day one, contain a common element, and that is our dedication to the incarnations of Lucifer, Satan, and their realms.
Who sang the melodic vocals on 'Verses of Fire' album? At first I didn’t like it, but after careful listening it came to me natural and now I like it. How occurred to you an idea to incorporate those vocals into the album?
Amduscias : I sing those. I had been thinking about it since a long time, I must say. I know how to sing, I've received voice training, etc, so why should I not use my voice this way if I feel the need to, just because we're a Black Metal band and there are laws that say "thou shalt not use clean vocals in thy songs" ? As long as it doesn't become a gimmick, you know...
Ok, that would be all from me, if I forgot something, you have the space. Thank you for this interesting interview and wish TEMPLE OF BAAL a lot of occult light in the dark, thanks again!
Amduscias : Thank you so much for everything. It feels great to answer such an in-depth interview. And all my apologies for the delay, but I guess some internet stuff doesn't work the way it should!
Hail to you and all the readers. We're easy to find on all the social networks so I will spare you a list of those, if you seek you shall find. Hail Satan!
Amduscias 1.4.2014 Mortuary