Interview with Fen – Atmospheric Black Metal from England

Today I spoke with The Watcher, front man for English Atmospheric Black Metal band Fen. We spoke about coming from the marshlands of Eastern England, the loyalty of metal fans and touring with Taake

“There is a unique, understated bleakness to the fens – it’s an area few visitors to the UK travel to”

* You got your band name from the Marshlands in Eastern England correct? Do you think stylistically you would sound the same say coming from the West Country, London or Newcastle?
It is hard to say – given that we all currently live in London and some of us have moved around a fair bit in the last ten years, it is likely that the surface-level core of the band would still sonically sound more or less the same. Nevertheless, the essence of the band is derived from both myself and Grungyn growing up in the fens of Eastern England and in this, I believe this has a profound effect on the music just beyond the ‘sound’. The whole basis of Fen is to channel this ambience through our music and concepts – with that in mind, whilst it is still likely that we would be playing an atmospheric form of black metal, the fundament of the material would likely be different.

The source of our inspiration and the basis of our driving motivation is absolutely key to the ambiences we are attempting to invoke and so in that, I think there would be a palpable difference to our music if we were to have grown up in another part of the country. There is a unique, understated bleakness to the fens – it’s an area few visitors to the UK travel to, it does not boast rolling ‘English’ greenery, moorland, hills or lush forests and is therefore, very much an area untraveled by most apart from those who live and work there. It has a distinctive, spacious emptiness, fields of dark soils that speak of ennui and woe, hints of mysteries dwelling within the dark corners that loiter under the endless grey skies.

This in turn is the atmosphere we attempt to channel through the music of Fen and therefore, whilst stylistically we would very likely still be playing atmospheric black metal regardless of where we originated, I think it would lack the distinctive mournful bleakness it currently carries.

* Since the band started as a studio project are any of you in other bands?

Yes, we do have other a number of other projects we are involved in – when creativity is your absolute number one driving reason to exist, it is hard to sit still and twiddle one’s thumbs when there is music to be made. With that in mind, all three of us are engaged in musical outlets other than Fen.

For myself, I play in a more orthodox, ‘traditional’  black metal band called Virophage with Havenless – the focus of this is on invoking a darker, more nihilistic and aggressive atmosphere. I also have been playing guitar in the doom metal band Pantheist for a couple of years and we are hoping to complete the writing/recording of the fifth Pantheist album this year.

I am also about to release the debut album of my Fellwarden project which is predominantly a solo release that Havenless also provides drums for – this is an album rooted in soaring, melodic, grandiose black metal taking influences from various epic/heroic black metal music also. Grungyn meanwhile is in the process of completing the debut album with his folk act ‘Driftway’ – stylistically, it is grounded in English folk with a more melancholic ambience and features of the vocal talents of the first Fen keyboard player Draugluin. So we are all very busy!”

* Are there plans for live shows this year?
Plenty. Being able to deliver this material in the live environment is absolutely key to us. All three of us put our absolute maximum into every gig we play – it is the most direct and honest form of communication we can participate in to involve our listeners in our music. Gigs can be pretty lacking in atmosphere sometimes – sterile or sub-standard venues, poor sound, drunken oafs spoiling it for people – however our goal is always to transcend this and do our utmost to being the audience into our journey, to deliver the atmosphere of the fens to each show regardless of the circumstances.

As for plans for shows this year, we have a support slot with Primordial at the end of March and then are touring the UK with Taake in April which should be good. We are also heading to Norway for the Nordvis Hostfest in September which will be an excellent event run by our good friends at Nordvis.

“There’s a loyalty to artists that is palpable within extreme metal”

* How well do your vinyl and cds sell? Are you surprised that people still by physical product?
Erm… I guess they sell OK. I’m not really sure what is considered to be ‘good’ sales in this day and age I’m afraid! I’m always pleased when people opt to buy a physical release of our music, though I suspect we’re nowhere NEAR the sales of bands like Amon Amarth or Behemoth. What I will say is that I am not massively surprised that people still buy physical releases – and indeed, that vinyl sales are increasing – certainly within the metal scene. There’s a loyalty to artists that is palpable within extreme metal and I think it is becoming increasingly well-known that endless streaming sites and illegal downloads are harming the very bands fans profess to love.

Not only this, but a full physical release really is the optimum way to appreciate the record of an artist with whom you feel you have a genuine connection with. So many bands – and I certainly include Fen in this – put an enormous amount of thought and consideration into the aesthetics of their releases. Therefore, the ultimate way to experience the record is in its entirety with artwork, lyrics and aesthetics being absorbed in conjunction with the sonics. Indeed, for a genre such as ours which is so rooted in atmosphere and ambience, it is even more important I feel.

Thankfully, I think a lot of metal listeners ‘get’ this – not only does the music of Fen lend itself to dovetailing with extensive, relevant imagery but also the metal genre has a tradition of fans devoting themselves to investing in the bands they support. Call it that ‘collector’ mentality if you will (some of the Maiden collections out there for example represent an unbelievable level of commitment) but I do think it is something that is quite prevalent in this scene of ours. Coupled with our label’s commitment to producing exciting, well-produced and thought-through limited-editions of our albums, it’s something we certainly support and encourage. Quality vinyls and box-sets are a refreshing antidote to the disposable, ‘easy access’ throwaway distraction culture being increasingly foisted upon us these days and therefore, long may their success continue!

* Your latest release Winter comes out march 2017? I really like what I heard on your bandcamp – how would you explain the differences in your latest release compared to your past catalog to new listeners?
This latest record is without a doubt our most ambitious and indulgent full-length thus far. It of course retains the essence of Fen inasmuch that at its heart, it is an account of a striving, personal journey refracted through the bleak and sorrowful imagery of the fens, yet here we have pushed the compositional process even further. The progressive elements that we have dabbed with in the past are exemplified on ‘Winter’ and indeed, we set ourselves the goal of writing these songs from an almost ‘classical composition’ perspective – rather than songs essentially being segmented structures of riffs (riff A, riff B, riff C, riff A again e.t.c.) we pushed ourselves extremely hard to work with evolving themes and motifs, avoiding straightforward repetition and instead creating songs that are structured almost as a continuous ‘flow’ of music.

Indeed, this approach runs across the record as a whole and the entire album can be considered to be one long song, divided into several chapters.

* What was the one band that really got you into Black metal?
That’s a hard question to answer really! I sank into the mire of extreme metal in around 1995 which is really when black metal had started to explode in the underground I guess. As a brit, I suppose I have to hold my hand up and confess that Cradle of Filth were in important band in the very early days and indeed, the ‘Vempire’ EP captivated me considerably when it came out. It was quickly supplanted by Emperor’s ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’ and Dark Funeral’s ‘Secrets of the Black Arts’ albums however – these were cornerstone releases for me in the early days, demonstrating a different level of composition, adopting an almost ‘widescreen’ wave-of-sound approach as opposed to the more traditional, riffy, ‘Iron Maiden’-esque guitar work that Cradle utilised.

Certainly the early Dark Funeral material made an impression, clichéd as that band have now become – to hear guitars being used to effectively deliver a quasi-orchestral wall of reverbed distortion was something I had never heard before at that time and really lit the fires of inspiration for me. Of course, in the intervening two decades plus, I have long since appreciated that there are plenty of bands who adopt this approach, many of whom deliver it with a real sense of skill and nuance. However, ‘back in the day’, in the middle of nowhere with internet and very few like-minded listeners, these early records made a huge impression.

“For me, originality derives from a sense of uniqueness in terms of atmosphere and sonic presentation”

* What modern day Black Metal do you still rate as doing something new?
Well, the idea of ‘something new’ can mean different things to different people – indeed, it’s possible to argue that ‘true’ originality within the sphere of extreme metal is virtually impossible, given that virtually every variation of guitars/bass/drums/voice has been explored in some way. For me, originality derives from a sense of uniqueness in terms of atmosphere and sonic presentation – essentially a band truly discovering their own voice and being moved by the sincerity of their expression to deliver something that has a sound all of its own.

In this, I do not count the kind of desperate genre ‘mash-ups’ that some listeners (and the artists doing it no doubt) believe screams ‘originality’ – melding black metal with electronica ‘for the sake’ of it for example, pointless noodly diversions and other surface-level pseudo-experimentations that really don’t add anything to integrity of music.

So, artists for me that have defined their own voice, pushed (and continue to push) boundaries would include Blut Aus Nord – Vindsval is a powerful creative force, continually inspired and reinventing yet always retaining his own distinctive voice. Leviathan/Lurker of Chalice too, I think Wrest is another true creative and I’d also add Ruins of Beverast to this list as well. These are all effectively solo artists so perhaps this points to solitary expression as being a way of truly unshackling oneself from notions of creative restraint – after all, in a band, you have two, three, four, maybe more people contributing and in this, compromise could be factor perhaps? Who knows.

Having said that, there are bands that can blindside you still – the latest Inferno for example is very surprising and very different sounding. The UK’s own Lychgate are stepping into incredibly advanced, leftfield realms of composition – though how much of a link their material will have to black metal remains to be seen! Ultimately, black metal will always have those at the speartip who will continue to push, seek and redefine the parameters of the genre.

* Outside of Black Metal do you look at any other types of music for inspiration and if so which bands?
Of course – by virtue of the style of black metal we play, which encompasses a variety of other textures and soundscapes, non-metal music plays a huge part of our listening palette. I draw an enormous amount of inspiration from shoegaze bands such as Slowdive, Ride, early The Verve and My Bloody Valentine as well as a number of post-rock artists also – Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky and Mono being key candidates from this scene. These are all outfits that pushed (or continue to push) at the boundaries of producing enveloping, absorbing

I also spend a lot of time listening to a number of classic records from the 70s prog scene – Yes, Genesis, Rush and several others – as, clichéd as this scene has been regarded in certain circles, the musical adventurousness of these bands cannot be denied. The more ‘gentle’ side of electronic music is an influence in some ways as well – at least from a position of ambience and generating a mood. Artists such as Black Dog, Global Communication and Boards of Canada play a definite part in helping shape some of the atmospheres we attempt to convey.

* How do you guys go crafting your songs? I know many bands start with a guitar lick and build but I imagine you guys work out a lot of your songs in the rehearsal studio?
The songwriting process is quite varied – sometimes it will originate from one or two quite simple ideas that myself or Grungyn have come up with and as you rightly say, we then go on to develop in the rehearsal studio. Whilst I am fully aware of the potential pitfalls of a ‘jamming’ approach to songwriting (that is, such noble intentions can frequently collapse in on themselves into a noodling, self-referential and disappointingly unadventurous soup), if deployed with discipline and control, it can sometimes lead to inspired results. Indeed, the second part of our most recent album originated from one or two central themes which we then developed around through experimentation within the rehearsal studio.

Other songs are composed and structured more comprehensively in isolation before being presented to the rest of the band. This can also be a good way to work, particularly if someone has a very defined vision as to how they perceive a song to be represented. I do find this quite a satisfying way to work on occasion – if I am feeling particularly solitary and inspired, it’s a bit of a tonic to really chip away at a song, sculpt it and see it grow into something (hopefully) coherent and arresting! Of course, once an idea written in this way is presented to the rest of the band, it can be subject to change again – different interpretations of rhythms, suggestions on rearrangement e.t.c. so again, there is a fluidity even to this more controlled approach to writing.

“If you were hoping for us to be some form of nature worshipping troupe giving thanks to the Gods of the land in ancient druidic rituals taking place under moonlight in stone circles, I am sorry to have to disappoint you!”

* Are any of the band practicing pagans? If so what faith?
I am afraid not and I’m not really sure what a ‘practicing pagan’ represents in this day and age if I am honest. None of us really subscribes to any traditional notions of theism in the conventional sense – we all have our personal beliefs and views in respect of the self, spirituality and considerations beyond the limitations of the material realm but it isn’t something I am really at liberty to go into at any great detail here. Suffice to say, if you were hoping for us to be some form of nature worshipping troupe giving thanks to the Gods of the land in ancient druidic rituals taking place under moonlight in stone circles, I am sorry to have to disappoint you!

* What do you hope this latest release “Winter” will accomplish for you guys?
Stepping back now and trying to assess the latest album as objectively as possible, I really think that it is a testament to how far we have come as a band in the last ten years. I appreciate it is very long, however we just felt a compulsion to create as much as we could with this record – to push every element of it as far as possible. At one stage, we were considering making a double album! Nevertheless, the goal was to distil the ‘essence’ of what it is that makes Fen, to produce something in which every aspect is redolent with our vision. I do believe Winter accomplishes this.

I know that it is often said that hope is a denial of the reality of expectation, however if I were to allow myself to hope, it would be that Winter is a release that really cements our individuality as a band, that underlines that which defines us apart from the labels we have carried in the past. Whilst it is flattering to receive constant comparisons to Agalloch and Alcest, for me, this album really does not sound like those two bands at all – it has many signifiers from the ‘post black’ and ‘shoegaze’ metal subgenres but in my opinion, it weaves them into a coherent whole that simply sounds like Fen at the end of the day.

So yes, for me, in an ideal world, Winter would represent a landmark release for us – a defining album which symbolises everything the band stands for and provides us with a springboard for another ten years of creativity.

“We have been confirmed for the Nordvis Hostfest in Norway in September”

* What else can we expect from Fen in 2017?
From a release perspective, the newest record should be landing any day now. We are also hoping to release a mini LP of our side of the ‘Stone and Sea’ split CD we released last year – this will be a MLP produced courtesy of Eisenwald Productions. We are also hopefully going to see our third album ‘Dustwalker’ released on vinyl as well – so it looks to be a vinyl-heavy year which is absolutely fine by me!

Other than that, we are looking towards playing live shows to spread the word of Winter – we have a number of interesting gigs in the UK this Spring including a mini-tour with Taake and a support slot with Primordial in London. Discussions are underway regarding a number of overseas shows also – we have been confirmed for the Nordvis Hostfest in Norway in September which promises to be an excellent event and several other gigs are in the pipeline. Many of these look to be very exciting so as soon as they become confirmed, we will of course update our fans via the usual mediums.

* Any final words?
I think we’ve more or less covered everything – thanks for the interview!

Hellfire – Blackened Thrash from the Ukraine – new Ep streaming now

HELLFIRE was formed in late 2014 in Kremenchug, Ukraine. The band was created by Karagh (Guitar/voice) and Necrobafomet (Bass), former members of the black metal band Paranomia. Later, they were joined by drummer Skullcrusher and second guitarist Max, together they began rehearsing and writing original materials. Initially, it was decided to make black metal music with the influences from old-school thrash and death metal. October 31, 2015, the first live performance of the group took place. Shortly before this, guitarist Max left the band, and since then HELLFIRE continues to work as a trio format. Next, live performances took place in different cities of Ukraine and the response was always very positive from the audiences.

The recording of their debut release “Goat Revenge” was completed at the end of 2016 and later released on 31 July through German label Witches Brew. The EP consists of a haunting intro leads into 7 great songs, crafted into a fine dark brew of genuine Black Metal mixed with crushing Death Metal! An erudite listener will eventually find a lot of first wave black metal and speed metal influences on these tracks. These goat lords will appease all who crave heavy riffs, blasphemous vocals and attention to keeping the Heavy Metal in Black Metal, something sadly forgotten by a lot of today’s Black Metal bands. When it comes to comparison, Bestial Mockery and Impiety eventually come to mind. The vocal brings back the ravaging grim voice of Nocturno Culto, at the same time he delivers some gruesome death growls.

Currently, the group continues to work on new music and concert activities.


Label Feature : Bindrune Records

This week I spoke to Bindrune Records mastermind Marty about running a record label in the digital age, Heathens, the evolution of black metal and how much cassettes suck (ha ha) read on:

* So you guys started as a partnership between Scott Crionic Mind Records and and you from Worm Gear Zine how did you guys get to meet?
We met in 5th grade when Scott’s family moved to Traverse City from Illinois. He’s one of the main influences on me in getting into metal and it’s more extreme forms. Always been a dear friend to me. I don’t speak to him often these days, which is unfortunate, but he’s still one of my best friends.

* What made you want to start a record label in a time where most record labels are going out of business?
Probably not the smartest thing to do eh? Haha. It all boils down to passion for this music, the desire to try and help other bands get a boost and a tenacity that isn’t smart enough to know when to quit. I still believe things are cyclical. Look at the return of vinyl and cassettes. There is a growing movement within the world of music that wants to purchase and support music/bands/labels again. It’ll come around. At least this is what I keep telling myself!

* I know a lot of your releases are about pushing musical boundaries – what do you look for when bands send you a link to their demos? Do you both have to agree on each signing or?
Scott is no longer involved in Bindrune. Hasn’t been for many years. I think the last project he was a part of, was Celestiial’s Desolate North, which was our 4th release (we are over 30 now), BUT he was a MAJOR part of getting this label off the ground. But for me, a bands atmosphere and uniqueness is always at the forefront of my appreciation. Also, are they good people that are easy to work with? This is also a huge factor. But the music… it isn’t just a series of good riffs for me. There has to be a “spiritual”, for lack of a better term, connection for a band to truly earn my interest. And of course they have to fit in with the aesthetic of the label.

* Do bands have to be pagan minded to be signed to Bindrune? What about satanic or Christian bands if they musically fit your tastes – would you be down to work with them?
There is no set in stone ideology that I need to connect with a band on as I tend to shy away from organized religion. BUT, I refuse to work with racists. The style and sound of the label does seem to attract bands who have an interest with pagan or heathen ideologies which I’m completely fine with as many of the thoughts within those circles are nearest to my own when trying to dissect my typically unfulfilled beliefs. Satanic bands are fine… I’m of course a fan of many bands that adhere to this tired and true religious path and I wouldn’t let something like that stand in the way of releasing their music if I found a connection with it, but these type of bands tend to be far more aggressive and less atmospheric than I typically gravitate towards for Bindrune. But… never say never!

* Are you a practicing pagan? If so what faith? I would presume Asatru but I could be wrong – please enlighten me?
I have a great respect for people that practice faith in nature and the archetypes that connect gods/goddesses to our living world, but I am not a practicing pagan, nor do I have the time to further my research into the teachings into it. Call it more of a fascination. I am more heathen minded, with a love for nature and respect for others. Music for me has always been my unfaltering religion. The rest just feels like it begins and ends with common sense.

* How did you get into black metal and what was the band that was your “A-ha” moment?
Well even though it isn’t your stereotypical “black metal” and really wasn’t called that, bands like early Bathory, early Kreator, early Destruction, early Sodom were my A-ha moments in the proto black sound due to my age and when I came into this style of metal back in the 80’s. For more modern black metal bands… the first CDs I ordered in regards to “Norwegian black metal”, were the Emperor/Enslaved split, Mayhem – De Mysteriius Dom Sathanas, Satyricon’s Shadowthrone and Burzum’s Det Som Engang Var. All of these releases were eye opening and mind blowing. I was hooked.

“Black metal has become less of a statement and force and more of a corporately viable musical genre. It lost its teeth. The pantomime make-up has lost its mystery”

* Black metal over the last 25 years has gone from loud fast punk rock recorded on a 4 track cassette recorder style bands to neo folk and more – what would you say has been the biggest change in black metal for you and where do you see the movement going into the future?
This is perhaps a generalization, but black metal has become less of a statement and force and more of a corporately viable musical genre. It lost its teeth. The pantomime make-up has lost its mystery and a lot of the new bands are simply trying to re-invent the riffs perfected by their idols. I’m not saying all black metal is bad or a “trademark” sound, but there are so many damn bands out there all fighting for the same scraps, it’s hard to uncover the ones that have something to offer that is more of a reflection of the individual behind the corpse paint.

“Great people exist behind the art”

* What would you say has been your biggest accomplishment with the label so far?
Surviving for 17 years now. As largely a 1 man owned an operated business, other than some greatly appreciated help and new members over the past 5 years or so, Bindrune has been a lot of hard work, dedication, debt and struggle, BUT we are growing and doing our best to offer fans of the label and this music some truly inspiring artists to enjoy. This and the friendships that have risen out of working with some of these bands have been the biggest accomplishment. Great people exist behind the art and many of them I have drank with and become friends with. At the end of the day, this means the most to me.

* What would you consider to be your labels biggest failure to date?
Huh. There hasn’t been any real definitive failures. Sure, some bands sell better than others, but I have been a fan of everything I have put out. I guess the failures reside behind the scenes and typically revolve around finances. But, we all learn from such things and we will forge onward.

* What’s been the biggest hurdle in growing your business? The rise of postage costs or? What bit of advice do you wish you could have told the Marty who was just starting out?
The biggest hurdle is keeping potential fans interested in buying music. Digital is still a part of a music fans collection and once people download something, they may be less prone to go that extra step and purchase a physical copy. Collecting music is expensive and takes up space. Some folks have neither to warrant a big collection. Postage cost overseas have grown into a nightmare and it forced us to unite with a like minded label to share the international postage burden. We were lucky to find that partner in Nordvis Produktion/Andreas. I’ve often said that we started this label 20 years too late, but the reality of it is, I wasn’t in the place I needed to be back then to be able to stick with the mission. So really, I have nothing big or secret to tell myself starting out that would be a bombshell. I believed in what I was doing then AND now. It’s all expensive and juggling cash is always a struggle when sales are low, but the end result is always a feeling of accomplishment.

* What’s been your favorite release on the label to date and why?
There has been many. Wodensthrone – Loss, Nechochwen – OtO AND Heart of Akamon, Falls of Rauros – The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood, Panopticon – Roads to the North, Ahamkara – Embers of the Stars… I could find something in every release that would make it my favorite depending on what day of the week it is, but these albums were all something truly special/powerful.


“Cassettes are the worst, least trustworthy and clunky musical medium out there.”

* Are you surprised with the return in popularity of cassettes in certain musical genres (Black metal, grindcore etc) As an older guy I never thought I would see cassettes make a come back. Do you think its purely a novelty item or do folks see them selves carrying around the most portable analog sound device going?
I really am surprised. Next to 8-tracks, cassettes are the worst, least trustworthy and clunky musical medium out there. I grew up collecting them as they were gold standard when I was a teen burning through my allowance/lunch money to get everything I could in an exploding scene. What surprises me even more, is that I’m also buying them again. Mainly crusty black metal and dungeon synth releases. The latter just feels right on cassette for some reason. Like I said earlier in this interview, everything is cyclical. I can’t wait for people to come back around again and actually LIKE CDs. They truly are the most resilient, durable and sensible medium.

* How do the releases on  Eihwaz Recordings differ from the releases on Bindrune?
Eihwaz began as a brother label to Bindrune created by Jim Clifton and myself to release bands that we thought were great and probably didn’t fit within the Bindrune aesthetic. These bands tended to be more aggressive, or death metal leaning, but as time went on, more black metal seeped into the roster. Eihwaz is earning its own voice and as I have splintered off from releasing titles with Jim so that I can focus on Bindrune, Jim is continuing onward to help the label grow and further find it’s own voice. Great bands. Great new label AND a great friend behind it all!!

* Have you guys consider a Bindrune music festival (Like the guys did from 20 buck spin and Giliad media and their migration fest) or a traveling tour of your artists?
A Bindrune fest is always in my thoughts and has been for years. It may eventually happen as a lot of the bands have voiced interest in playing such an event, but at the moment, it seems like a logistical/financial nightmare in my head. Fingers crossed! We shall see what this and next year brings!

* Have you had any problems with the narrow minded bigots of the left accusing you guys of being nazis or racists for using Heathen imagery in your releases and with the label yet?
I really haven’t, at least to my face, but I have made it known out there that Bindrune ISN’T affiliated with racism or fascism. Some people will always see the logo and just assume that we are that way due to the runes, but they would be seriously mistaken and I can’t control what people think. Bindrune has members in bands that are Anarchist, pagan minded, all just normal, forest dwelling people that try to find the good in folks out there and in nature. The hatred found out there in the world is so damn tiring. It’s time to make more constructive choices folks!

* What can we expect from Bindrune recordings in 2017 and onwards?
A lot. It’s crazy. Impending releases:

Falls of Rauros – Vigilance Perennial CD/LP

Vaiya – Remnant Light CD/LP

Coldfells – S/T (With Eihwaz)
Alda – Passage 2LP

Panopticon – Roads to the North 2LP reissue

Panopticon – Autumn Eternal 2LP reissue

Panopticon – Kentucky CD/2LP reissue

Paths – In Lands Thought Lost CD/LP

Saiva – Bortom markerna

Wilt – Moving Monoliths 2LP

Krigsgrav – Waves of Degradation LP

Several new signings which we shall announce soon! Stay tuned.

*Any final words to your friends fan and followers?
Many thanks to all of you for the kind words and support! It means a lot!

Check out our new webshop here:

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Interview with Mosaic – Atmospheric Heathen Black Metal from Germany

I recently had the chance to talk with Mosaic main man Inkantator Koura, in case you have been living under a rock for the last 11 years Mosaic have been releasing amazing Germanic Black metal since 2006. In this convo we spoke about life in the former East Germany, “gateway” bands such as Rammstein and Marilyn Manson and worshiping the old gods, read on!

* You are based in Gotha Germany, tell us what is life like there these days?
Hey, Alex! Life is really busy here nowadays. I am working on a lot of projects right now, enjoying my time with my family and so on. Gotha is a little big town, so the life is quite calm, but we have a good infrastructure here and beautiful landscapes. So I would say, I am enjoying my life right now.

“The German unity and identities are totally damaged and raped… that’s quite sad..”

* Were you old enough to live though the fall of Communism in Eastern Germany – if so what do you remember the most before the change?
Mhhh…tricky to say something about – I was just two years old as the iron wall fell. I grew up in a very little mountain village in the south-west of the Thuringian Highlands. It was the inner German border from Thuringia (East Germany) and Bavaria (West-Germany). You needed permission to get into this area, even if you have lived in East Germany.
The difference between East and West is still given, even nearly 30 years after it. The German unity and identities are totally damaged and raped… that’s quite sad because we had glorious times before the 20th century began. The face was lost in the two World Wars, which abused also a lot of archaic knowledge and symbolism and so it is quite heavy to deal with old customs and traditions here. We have to be very patient in the selection and presentation here – if you do not want any stress. That’s also quite sad, but I learned to handle it and I can widely work as I want to; you just have to check it up twice and make sure everything is ok.

* What is the Black metal scene like in your part of Germany – of like many Black metal Musicians do you prefer to avoid the scene at all costs?
We have a really strong metal scene here in central Germany, with really good musicians and friends. I would say that the German scene is stronger than ever before. The past 10 years were essential to the creation of the German extreme metal scene.  We have well-known bands such as Ascension, Secrets of the Moon, The Ruins of Beverast, next to newer ones like Antlers, Venenum, Nocturnal Witch, Abyssous, Warriors, Orae and so on – to name just a very few.
Most of these bands started with worshiping their old extreme metal gods and evolved into something really unique. The factor of innovation is really high in our scene – and that’s good.
There is already a new generation growing up with bands like Warlust, Transilvania, Kringa (yeah I know they are from Austria…don’t care) and so on – so the pulse is more than alive here in Germany.

* How many shows have you played so far and what has been your favorite show and why?
We started to perform live in 2014, and since then we have performed 14 times I guess. The most enjoyed event was for the sure the FUNKENFLUG Open Air 2016 in Austria. Just perfect atmosphere and location; nice and dedicated people. Next to this I really enjoyed Party San Open Air and Phantoms of Pilsen – the crowd was just unbelievable there. And also, my own event I had set up in autumn last year – SAMHAIN CELEBRATION – this was also a night to remember.

“I love to play in unusual places, or better yet, in total usual places like woods, mountains, ruins, caves”

* Do you play as a one man band or do you recruit band mates to help out? I saw Mortiis play London in 1999 where he performed to a DAT tape and it was fantastic
I have three live musicians with me, on drums, second guitar and bass – I perform the first guitar and all vocals live.
Ha cool story with the DAT tape, I currently try a lot of things to do a solo or duo set also, with a more folkloristic approach and more soundscaping instrumentation, to perform at very small locations – that’s something I really want to do.
I love to play in unusual places, or better yet, in total usual places like woods, mountains, ruins, caves and so on – I am trying to focus on performing such rituals – that’s more intimate and personal – we do not play every concert we get offered.

* Have you done any full tours yet? Is this something you would like to do in the future?
Yes with my old band ALCHEMYST, I had completed one European tour with TRIBULATION, VENENUM and KETZER, in 2013.
We are planning a European tour for early October with our Swedish friends GRIFT. So yes I would like to tour * haha

* What’s the hardest part of being in a one man band? What is the best part?
Well there is no hard part, I need the total control about it – it is my brainchild and I need to keep things firmly under control – that’s it. My live musicians or session musicians I invite for recording sessions prepare their parts but if there is something I don’t like it has to be re-arranged – only I know how MOSAIC has to sound, and how it should not sound – sure that could be frustrating for my guest musicians – but they have known me for a long time – haha, so they know what can happen.
The best thing is that I have total control and I can choose the direction and can create my own worlds and capture them.

* What inspired you to create to write the music that you do? Were you in any “traditional” type bands before (meaning bass/drums/singer/guitarist, etc)
My life and my experiences inspired me to create my music. I have been in various bands before; the most important band was ALCHEMYST (2009-2013) a kind of obscure Death Metal based successor of MOSAIC. There we were four musicians and the core were three of us (drums, second guitar and me). There we wrote everything together, meaning the drummer brought in some guitar riffs and so on. I liked the way a good flow was given in the creation process of the first and last album NEKROMANTEION (Iron Bonehead, 2012). But I was struggled a little after the release, I had a lack of further song ideas, and also the promotion and inner band communication brought me to a near meltdown and so I put it to rest.  I enjoyed the time really, but I had to look forward and focused on MOSAIC then.
There I can totally work freely without any boundaries, and that’s good and that the way it has to be.

“We practice old and archaic customs in our private life’s, yes.”

* You write a lot about the old gods and mysticism – do you practice any pagan faiths? If so what ones and why?
We practice old and archaic customs in our private life’s yes. We live in a region where the main god(dess) was HULDA (Huldra, Perchta a.s.o.) – so the customs are really nature bound. We celebrate the regular feasts of the wheel of the year. Those rites have a long tradition and were mostly adapted by the Christian culture. It is normal for us to worship nature; nature is the central element – and we are just thankful for it – that’s the most simple reason, but also the truest.

* Is there much awareness of the Teutonic gods in today’s modern day Germany?
Mhhh I don’t know, in the modern German World, is no place for them. A real awareness is not given here. Like I said in the beginning of the interview, the two world wars were the reason that slayed such things. Back in time as Richard Wagner wrote his important works, the old gods became really popular, but there is not much left of it nowadays. This is quite sad.

“Then I got some MARILYN MANSON stuff and also ICED EARTH – still worshiping them today.”

* How did you get into Black metal? What was the first band that really “sold you” on the genre?
Oh that is a weird story *haha. It starts once upon a time when I was between 7 and 8. I got the first two RAMMSTEIN records and dug them. Then I got some classic metal records from my brother, mostly MANOWAR but also some Punk records like EA80. Normal starter drugs to go astray ha-ha . Then I got some MARILYN MANSON stuff and also ICED EARTH – still worshiping them today. And then one day I bought an old ABLAZE zine with LIMBONIC ART on the cover I think. I put in the sampler CD and listened to it just a few seconds – and thought – woah holy shit what the hell is this – I wasted 6,66€ *haha – but not long after, a friend of mine gave me a real German underground black metal jewel – AASKEREIA – MIT RABEN UND WÖLFEN – and this record had a total impact on me – the music and lyrics totally got me. And after this record I started to buy the typical Black Metal records like the first IMMORTAL, BATHORY, MAYHEM, BURZUM, first CRADLE OF FILTH and so on – and the madness began – *haha

* Outside of Black metal what influences Mosaic? I hear some old school industrial influences and a bit of British band Killing Joke in there too.
Mhhh I am not so much into Industrial or Killing Joke. More Fields of the Nephilim if you want something similar.
I listen to a lot of styles and genres. I love ambient, neo folkish stuff, classical tunes, and soundtracks… to name a few bands: WOVENHAND, THE TEA PARTY, CHELSEA WOLFE, ROME, SOL INVICTUS, STURMPERCHT, DEAD CAN DANCE, NEW MODEL ARMY, NOEL GALLGAHER, LANA DEL RAY, ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF, NOSTALGHIA,

* What has been your favorite Mosaic release so far..and why?
I like all of them. The OLD MAN’s WYNTAR re-release on Eisenwald is truly amazing in every point. But I also like HARVEST and my SAMHAIN CELEBRATION tracks a lot and also the artwork if it. Those three records are really personal – and suggest a pure nostalgia and a tribute to my childhood and youth, that’s the reason why I like them the most.

* Have you ever visited America at all? And if not do you have any desire to visit? If so what places would you like to see with your own eyes?
Surely I want to visit it one day, but it is such a huge land I cannot tell you immediately what I want to see. I have to research this first. I would also love to visit Quebec and Canada someday because I have friends there and really like the landscape.

“After these shows we will finish the new record, which is hopefully out this year”

* What can we expect from you in 2017?
We have three concerts planned for this spring. After these shows, we will finish the new record, which is hopefully out this year – but I as I know myself I do not want to promise too much *haha.
Yeah and then we are going to hit the road with GRIFT and spread our message through Europe!

* Any final words?
Thanks Alex for your interesting questions, I hope the readers enjoyed it and check out MOSAIC!
Inkantator Koura on behalf the elements