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Interview: ANCIENT
Title: Astral aspects

The new and fifth studio album of these Black Metal sorcerers marks a classic once more. „Proxima Centauri” is the title of it and it is full of hellish creations in the known and appreciated Ancient style.

Band boss, vocalist and guitarist Aphazel was always a real Black Metal heart from the beginning on.

Hey Aphazel, regarding the current situation of Ancient: constant line-up? New members?

„The line-up has been the same since Grom came into the band replacing Krisge, May last year. I think this line-up will be constant cause we work together very well and I really have no reason to look for others I think. There are some musical difference among us but only in a good way, nothing that makes us quarrel or anything like that. At the moment we’re only caring about doing interviews for the new album and preparing for the tour after the album.“

Do you already feel very curiously inside about all the upcoming reactions from the fans and the press?

„We have already gotten a lot of response so we pretty much know how people like the album. So far, 98 % of the people we spoke to think this is our best album so we’re very pleased with that of course. Critics from others doesn’t mean the world to us, but it’s nice to see that what you’re doing is appreciated of course. The most important thing though is always that in the end of a work you can sit down and feel you have really done the best you could and feel proud and satisfied with your creation. 100 % satisfaction is almost impossible as you push your limits all the time, but with this album I think we’re the closest we have been to a perfect album. This album is also a change in style, so I find it hard to compare it to the other albums, and I don’t usually like such comparisons anyway, but it’s probably the best we have ever made.“

What does the band´s name mean for you?

„Everything we have ever been singing about are themes that are ancient, be in mythology, humanity in general, paganism, the universe, fantasies of the unknown, the ancient ones, all of it is Ancient. We thought it was a name that fits the band well. That which is ancient always has a special strength and image of being eternal.“

About the history of Ancient: is „Proxima...“ your fifth or sixth album? Please be so kind and list all of your releases (also demos) out of the past!

„OK, here is a list of everything we ever released:

1. Eerily Howling Winds Demo 1993
2. Det Glemte Riket 7 “ 1994
3. Svartalvheim CD/ LP 1994 Listenable / Osmose
4. Trolltaar MCD/ MLP 95 Damnation Rec.
5. The Cainian Chronicle CD 1996 Metal Blade Rec.
6. Mad Grandiose Bloodfiends CD/ DLP 97 Metal Blade Rec.
7. Det Glemte Riket CD/ LP 1999 Hammerheart Rec.
8. The Halls Of Eternity CD/ DLP 99 Metal Blade Rec.
9. God Loves The Dead MCD/ Picture disc 2001 Metal Blade / Conquest Rec.
10. Proxima Centauri CD / DLP 2001 Metal Blade / Conquest Rec.
So, you see Proxima Centauri is our 5th full album (not counting mini albums and compilation releases).“

What does the title of the new album mean? And what is the main concept or theme of it?

(Grom): „The title was initially inspired by the story in the film “Event Horizon” … it has always been my favourite film since I saw it. Basically, to make a long story short, it talks about the closest star to our sun, namely ‘Proxima Centauri’, which in latin means the ‘next or closest centurion’. I elaborated on the idea, due to the scientifical mystery that surrounds this particular sun/star, that it is actually a dimensional portal leading to, in this case, a dimension of pure chaos and pure evil, that poses a serious threat to our existence and our planet. If you read the lyrics to the title track I think you will be able to get a much clearer idea on the direction it goes. I would like to say that it is very important that people do not confuse this theme/concept with modern science fiction, it is more of a horror fantasy style….because after all, we perceive themes of space and stars to be modern and futuristic, but space and the stars are indeed in reality much more ancient than we are.“

Where has been the new album produced and how long took the complete work for the production?

„We recorded “Proxima Centauri” in Los Angered studio in Sweden, and it was produced by Jacob Hansen, with some input from us as well. It was very good working with him as he understands our music and we didn’t have to waste time for finding the right sounds etc. like we did many times in the past. We worked very effectively throughout the whole time in the studio, I think we just used like 25 days including mixing. Still it was a really good result, the best we ever had I think, we even used 4 tracks just for the rhythm guitars this time, usually we use 2 or 3. I am sure we will also work with Jacob for the next album, though probably in a bigger studio.“

How long did last the whole composing process for the new songs?

„We started slowly working out new material around september last year and most of the songs were made in January/ early February, then we finished arrangements and finishing touches in March/ April. We entered the studio in the beginning of may. We like to spend a long time on the composing, but it’s also difficult to control the way your creativity, cause it’s something that should come by itself and should not be forced. We could have used even longer time on making this album, but I always thought it’s important to write the songs in the moment when your inspiration is at its best. Forcing yourself to write a song rarely comes out good, and your feeling towards the whole work is nothing like the way it should be. It is important that you feel what you’re doing is done because you really enjoy it and it’s what you want, rather than a “job” or something that “you have to do”. So, a bit for this reason there’s about 2 years between every album now. We also tour more though, and after touring you sometimes need to rest your mind for a bit.“

Who has composed the most tracks of the new album? Exists a main-composer? In which mood he compose best? Or all together?

„I wrote 4 songs alone, Jesus wrote 3 songs alone and the remaining 3 was written between me and Grom. Everybody was involved in the way the songs turned out in the end though, the arrangements etc. I am the main composer in the band, but the other members also has input so it’s not like a solo- project at all. I always wrote my best stuff at night usually in the hours between 23:00 and 03:00. The night has a very different working atmosphere than the day, everything is more quiet and there’s a better atmosphere for creating music that is based on fantasy and the darker side of life. A lot of music I’ve written has been done in winter, at night, with the moonlight reflecting on all the snow outside, and the reflection in the water, the snow- covered mountains. It is very beautiful and has an enchanting atmosphere that often can make you dream of another time, dimension and so forth. I always found myself attached to the nature when it comes to inspiration for composing new material, I could never make a good album in a place without mountains, forests, lakes/ sea etc. I just wouldn’t fell comfortable and inspired.“

Who of you guys wrote most of the lyrics? In which mood the work at them got at best? Does a main-writer exist in Ancient?

„On this album we all wrote lyrics, except Dhilorz. We are all more or less into the same kind of themes; fantasy, horror and other dark and sick stuff so it works well together. I think mood for writing lyrics is more or less like for writing music, but maybe writing a good lyric can easier be done regardless of the time, atmosphere etc. as it’s many times more a question of being able to portray what you want, with the right words, rather than purely a special state of mind. If you have the main ideas for the lyrics ready, then it’s not very difficult to start writing the actual text, it can also be done in the middle of the day sometimes. It’s different for everybody though. I usually like to work at evening/ night, not just because of the feeling but mostly because of the working atmosphere is better then, less distractions etc.“

What is your category for the Black Metal style of Ancient?

„I don’t really like to put a name to our kind of music, I think that it more something for the magazines and people who review it etc. but I see the importance of being able to tell people roughly what kind of music it is. I guess you can call the music of Ancient “atmospheric Black Metal with various metal influences”. It’s not pure Black Metal for sure, most elements in our music is of Black Metal, but combined with other ideas that are not pure black. I think this is good, and it gives us a different touch and makes us stick out a bit more with more a more personal sound rather than a band which sound like 100 others, you know. The style we play is 100 % true to what we feel and what’s in our hearts though, we never deliberately tried to force ourselves developing such a style, that would not turn out good. I think all good music must come straight from the heart and done with 100 % love for what you are creating, not caring about trends and “what can sell more albums and make us more popular”. This is very important for us. The day you don’t enjoy anymore what you’re doing, you should quit.“

What´s your opinion to Satanism and occultism?

„I am into the philosophy of Anton La Vey, and can relate very much to what he was saying. But I am not the kind of person that would put a label on myself, like calling myself Satanist, mostly because I like to think of myself as a unique individual with my very own thoughts about life and the world, and putting such a label on myself would make me feel too much like one among many, which is the opposite idea of what Satanism is about, as there’s so many in the scene that calls themselves Satanist. Many people would say I am Satanist and they are maybe not so wrong but personally I don’t like to put such a label on myself. About “worshipping the dark”, for me it’s something that is in my nature, I live at night usually and have a strong passion for the darker side of life, and I’ve done it for so many years it’s a natural part of my life. But if you can call that worshipping the dark, I don’t know. If there’s anything I “worship” it’s my own life and the world that is around ME. I don’t bow down and “obey” and rules and laws given to me by any demon or whatever some people would think, that’s the very contrary of what we’re about. For most persons, sitting in a dark room at night with just the light of a small candle, with the winds blowing outside and so on is not the idea of a good time, for me it gives me a special feeling and puts me with a certain mood and sometimes I feel that I need that. Most of my “inner mysteries” is things that could not really be explained by words, or in any way at all, except through music. I love playing music cause it’s a channel to express feelings and emotions you can’t release in other ways. I am a rather enigmatic person I think and not the kind of person that open up a lot of my my personal thoughts and feelings to the world, it’s not in my nature.“

Please be so kind and explain the new songs with your own words!

„1. ,A Lurking Threat‘
This is the intro to the album, you can hear the voice of Grom with a distorted sound speaking the words “Proxima…”, it’s rather short and we used it to give a better effect to the start of the title track.

2. ,Proxima Centauri‘
The title track is one of the first tracks we wrote for this album. And it kinda set the mood for the whole record that way, usually I like to write the opening track first, then second etc. It is rather aggressive and has some elements that can remind of death and thrash metal as well. I think this is one of the best tracks on the album, and we will open with it on our live shows when we go out on tour.

3. ,The Ancient Horadrim‘
This song is a bit more in the typical Ancient style, though more technical and with more arrangements than the older style. It is a very guitar based song and will sound great live I think. It’s based on ancient archaic mythology, talking about the congregation of the 3 guardians of the portal between hell and the earth, one of the guardians is tempted into corruption and through a series of actions he then later repents of, he allows the infernal trinity to enter the human world from hell.

4. ,In The Abyss Of The Cursed Souls‘
This one had many parts and elements that are very un-typical Ancient, but I like it very much cause it has good dynamics and atmosphere. The more calm parts in the song just make the rest sound so much heavier. It is a pretty original kind of song and has a lot of power and melody as well. The lyrics to this one are from Deadly Kristin and are her interpretation of a medieval legend about a very beautiful demonlike dame who attracts soldiers to the woods and kill them.

5. ,The Witch‘
This one is by Jesus Christ! and you can kinda tell cause he has a particular style. It is a very cool song with a lot of catchy riffs and it’s very well put together. We wanted to play this one live but it might be hard without keyboards and it might lose a lot of feeling if we perform it live. This is more of a dedication or appreciation of our Female counterparts "The Witches" showing how we need "Them" in order to Progress, and Survive.

6. ,Apophis‘
This is a kinda weird song but I think it’s very cool, it’s rather chaotic and pretty short. It has some very original drum- parts and an overall crazy feeling. I wrote this together with Grom. The lyrics talk about Apophis which is the serpent god in ancient Egyptian mythology that is in constant battle with the sun god Re every night on his journey across the sky to bring out the sun the next morning, Apophis fights to destroy him and put the world into eternal darkness.

7. ,Satan’s Children‘
Another song from Jesus Christ! This one has some touches that reminds a lot of Slayer and Acheron but it works very well and has a very dark and heavy overall feel to it. The lyrics here are another run of the mill satanic allegiance song. When you give up all ties to a forced religion, belief system their is a bit of surprises, things that have always been present now become apparent, but you were blinded by a faith. Sometimes it's good to realize and say "fuck, I am an Animal, Hail Satan!".

8. ,Beyond The Realms Of Insanity‘
This is a pretty slow and atmospheric song, but with some fast parts in the middle. Some people seem to think this is one of the best songs on the album. The song is based on a dream I had, and it basically tells about a person that is going insane and finds himself mentally raped and have lost control over himself.

9. ,Audrina, My Sweet…‘
This is a track that really stands out a lot on the album, it’s a short piece with female vocals from Deadly Kristin and the wife of Jesus Christ ! ( however strange that sounds ! ) and pianos and keys played by Jesus. It has a kind of horror atmosphere and can remind a bit of some works by King Diamond. "It's a tribute to the VC Andrews book "My Sweet Audrina," it reminds us of the twisted danger in refusing to face a hurtful situation and of the stigma of shame still surrounding a rape survivor even today

10. ,On Blackest Wings‘
The most aggressive and fast song on the album for sure. I like this one very much. It has many very powerful parts and also some dark atmospheric parts in the middle. There’s quite a bit of female vocals here as well, screamed not clean. The song is about a demon who goes to a girl and chooses her like his companion, it’s about carnal desire for evil.

11. ,Eyes Of The Dead‘
Another song from Jesus. This has a very cool groove and catchy riffs etc. Also some very eerie strings that blends into the songs in a cool way and gives it a very special touch. The violin is the instrument of the devil you know. Lyrically it’s about sometimes wasting time and becoming like the dead no thought, not able to see something in front of your face, unable to grab and take charge of our reality. This is about what happens to those who become the dead, brutally destroyed and they had no idea it was happening. Beware the roles can change in a flash, and you find yourself killing and being dead as well, and having “Eyes Of The Dead”.

12. ,Incarnating The Malignant Deity‘
This is a very long and atmospheric track. It’s almost 10 minutes long and it’s based on an idea of mine of Seth, the god of war, storms and chaos in the ancient Egyptian mythology, returning from the dead and regains command over the world. The song has a very dark arabic atmosphere with strings and clean guitars, thunder etc. a very epic track for sure and is a sinister, heavy mid- tempo kind of song.“

Where do you see the global Black Metal scene nowadays? Has Black Metal really lost so much ground all around the world, like all the silly moaning people proclaim? And which Bands are the bigger ones to your mind at the moment?

„I think Black Metal has grown a lot bigger than it used to be and the music itself has developed so much that it today seems almost wrong to call them all “Black Metal” as there’s so many different kinds of music that is now put under this genre. Many of the people you refer to, hate to see that Black Metal is becoming something for the bigger masses of people as they were used to be part of a group of people that belonged to a very extreme part of music. If lots of people around them start liking the same music as them, they hate that. I don’t find it so hard to understand, the thing is maybe that there’s too many bands that today go under the term Black Metal. If you ask me what is pure Black Metal, I think it is the first albums of Darkthrone, Mayhem, Emperor, Immortal and so on. After ’95 or so, most of the bands in the Black Metal genre changed into their own directions, and I think this is great, but it’s not so correct to call them all by the same name. To find different labels for different styles in Black Metal is of course not so realistic, but I think people should just beware that Black Metal is today a much more wide term than it used to be. I personally care very little about who is “bigger” rather than who is better and which is the bands that I personally care to listen to. I don’t like so many of the Black Metal albums that come out today, but I do enjoy the latest releases of Tartaros, Darkthrone, Satyricon, Limbonic Art and some more. Mostly the kind of Black Metal I like is the one that came out in the years ’92 – ’95. The Black Metal scene today has grown big and some bands has grown very successful. I think this is good, that many are able to live off music and put all their time and effort into this instead of going to work 8 hours a day.“

Live gigs: when will we see Ancient on German grounds playing?

„The European tour should start in the end of November 2001, so we should be in Germany then or in the beginning of December. We look forward a lot coming back to our fans in Germany!“

Wherein do you see your biggest powers on stages?

„The music itself more than anything of course, also a good stage presence and creating a special atmosphere is important of course.“

Plans for the future?

„We will do a lot of touring after the new album, this is our main priority at the moment. We will probably tour until April-May next year, then after next summer we will probably start to work on our next album. When I get the time I will work on the side- project of me and Kristin, Dreamlike Horror, hopefully we can record the album early next year. I’ve also been thinking of another side- project but at the moment I really don’t see when I can find the time for it. I am so busy now with Ancient, and next is Dreamlike Horror. Private plans? Well my whole life evolves around Ancient so it’s pretty much the same thing. I will stay in Italy. I don’t plan on moving out of here, just need to learn the Italian language better!

Which are your hopes in the new album?

„We hope it will be well appreciated by our fans, new as old, so far the critics has been really good so we’re optimistic about it. Hopefully it will sell a lot of copies so we can get more money to invest in the band and we more opportunities to tour etc.“

We are at the end of the questions; something special to say to the fans? Don´t hesitate to say what your heart says...

„I wanna thank all our German fans for the support through the years, it has been great. Wacken was totally killer! See you on tour!“

© Markus Eck, 25.09.2001

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