The outcome of any serious exploration of a magical system is self-transformation. The evolution of the self is perhaps the most challenging endeavor one can undertake, yet it is necessary to do so (whether consciously or unconsciously) before any changes in one’s environment can be realized. The music of WEAPON embodies this transformative process. When I first heard the demo, “Within The Flesh Of The Satanist…” I had low expectations that were immediately proven incorrect. That tape, although arguably a less imaginative style of Metal, demonstrated a passion that few bands can capture. Over time, that passion has grown stronger, and WEAPONS’ sound has become focused into one that belongs to it alone. Each release in the band’s discography represents a crucial step in this metamorphosis. This year, WEAPON released its debut album. On “Drakonian Paradigm", WEAPON finally sees the culmination of years of labor and dedication, and the resulting work is brilliant. There is no reason to believe, however, that the process of growth will end here. Indeed, WEAPON seems poised to refine its approach still further in coming years. Immediately following the release of “Drakonian Paradigm", I spoke with WEAPON’s founder and only consistent member, Vetis Monarch.
Hail, Vetis Monarch. I believe I am correct in asserting that, although you have worked with others over the course of WEAPON ’s existence, for all intents and purposes, Vetis Monarch is WEAPON. Can you articulate the internal and external motivations that gave rise to this entity known as WEAPON?
"WEAPON is very much a band now as opposed to, say, the ‘Para Bhakti…’ days. Other than myself, The Disciple is the longest-running member of the band and we are on the same page regarding what can be achieved in terms of short-term and long-term goals; a musical partner like that is essential for a band to be successful, regardless of how you measure your success. The two new members (guitarist and bassist who both joined WEAPON in 2009) have also been very involved in the creative process. Every band has a leader, a constant. In WEAPON’s case I am that person, so from that perspective your statement is accurate. The motivations to ‘create’ WEAPON were internal, although, who can really say that anything worth doing is missing external influences? I aimed to make music that I wanted to hear in accordance with my spiritual calling; being a devout Satanist, it seemed logical to me to bring my religious beliefs / philosophical leanings into my music."
“Drakonian Paradigm” is the first album you have released. Why was it such a protracted process to get to this point?
"There was no rush to release an album. The timing had to be right, and we believe it was. WEAPON isn’t a shitty one-man project hiding behind excessive distortion and noise, or else I’d do it all on my own and get it released on some myspace “label”. It boils down thus - I had a hard time finding musicians who understand the vision of this band, can play their instruments, and above all, maintain a vested interest in Satanism; save for Nohttzver none of the ex-members fit all of those requirements. I also needed the right label to support the band, so The Ajna Offensive played a crucial role in making it all happen. In the past, allowing simple-minded imbeciles inside, who have no business being inside, compromised the integrity of this band; only I am to blame for that, but I learned from my oversight. So finally, with "Drakonian Paradigm" I took my time and did it right."
The sound of WEAPON has undergone a significant metamorphosis since the release of the “Within The Flesh Of The Satanist” demo. It is a pattern one sees more often recently - bands shedding some of the more raw, bestial elements they once employed in favor of a more technical approach. While it may seem to be a contrived transition for some of them, WEAPON’s approach has never seemed insincere. Do you have any thoughts on this?
"We don’t have a clue about what other bands have been doing with their sound, but regarding WEAPON, we have never followed a formula… and maybe that’s why it doesn’t sound contrived. What I know for certain is that the music we write is the music we stand behind. It is genuine. Additionally, I’m not the exact same person that I was when the demo was recorded; evolution plays a big part in our Chakra."
On the new album, your approach defies simple categorization. While you are playing what can undeniably be characterized as Black Metal, it is obvious that you draw upon Death Metal and even Heavy Metal influences. What drove you to elevate these elements that were previously much more subdued in your music?
"Things develop, things change. And that’s all it is, ultimately. The songwriting process is the same now as it was in 2003. We keep what we like, and reject what we don’t. That’s the extent of it. But there are underlying elements that emerge with time… sub-consciously, gradually, the shells make their presence known; Death and Heavy Metal are as important to us as Black Metal. Somebody said something about “Do what thou wilt…”
Are there particular bands, past or present, to which you feel a substantial connection?
"We are solitary on our path to Enlightenment, so I cannot say that we feel any sort of connection with other bands, past or present. Maybe ‘respect’ is a more suitable word; respect for our influences, because we do not plagiarize them. I should add that we are not those sour cunts who constantly lament about the so-called glory days of Metal and shun newer bands. Fuck that backwoods mentality! Post-2000 groups like Tribulation, Negative Plane, Nox, Dead Congregation, Heresi, VadimVon and Mitochondrion etc deserve sincere accolades."
Do you draw influence from musical styles outside of the Metal genre?
"I have Eastern elements of music in my blood, in my atma, if you will. How much of that comes across in WEAPON is debatable, but I’m sure it’s there. As a band we can bounce unevenly from Armoured Angel to Bolt Thrower (and many other plateaus in between) for inspiration. Not a whole lot of focus is given to other musical genres as a unit; but individually we listen to many different types of music, ranging from prog-rock, blues, outlaw country and ambient etc."
When I first heard WEAPON, I certainly did not characterize your music as being overwhelmingly concerned with technicality. It is apparent at this point, however, that you are highly skilled as a songwriter and as a musician. What is your musical background? Have you ever received formal training of any sort?
"The Disciple is the ‘true’ musician of the band, even more specifically, from the "Drakonian Paradigm" line-up. Although self-taught, he has received formal training and plays circles around most so-called extreme drummers. I play by ‘ear’… no formal training whatsoever. A necessary amount of time is devoted to a regimented practice structure, but beyond that, I have absolutely zero music theory credentials. As far as the ‘gene factor’ goes, my maternal grandfather was a fantastic violinist and a very passionate poet. Maybe an iota of his talent came to me when I came out of my mother’s cunt. WEAPON is not concerned with ‘technicality’; songwriting is the only thing that matters to us."
Why did you feel compelled to re-record several of your earlier tracks for inclusion on “Drakonian Paradigm"? Do you feel that you achieved a more satisfactory result on the newer versions?
"Three songs were re-recorded simply because we felt they were exceptional songs that did not receive the deserving production, distribution, and exposure. And how could we possibly release the first album without the epic ‘Remnants Of A Burnt Mosque’?"
For how many years have you been writing these songs? How did you determine that this collection of songs was appropriate for release as an album? Are there any coherent themes that unite these tracks?
"Roughly 3.5 - 4 years were devoted to composing "Drakonian Paradigm". It’s hard to pinpoint the something concrete in regards to the second part of the question; when it’s right, you just know. We didn’t stop working on music in 2008, but just knew that those particular 7 songs were the finality, the beginning of the end. The number 7 is also special for more esoteric reasons, which certainly helped us in the end. All WEAPON lyrics, songs, albums, artwork – ALL OF IT – connect to Satanism in one form or another."
Can you describe the meaning of the title “Drakonian Paradigm” and the significance of the artwork you adopted for this release?
"Transcendence towards a realm that is not restricted by the chains of false hope; departure from the deceitful world playground; lawless faction, godhood attainment; the inner wolf treading towards Uncreation - this, in a nutshell, is the essence of the title "Drakonian Paradigm", which now bring us to B. Vierling’s brilliant artwork, ‘Signvm Armorvm’: There are two stylized serpents forming sig runes (in the upper flanks of the geometry). Our band’s name is WEAPON after all, and it made sense to incorporate these elements representing victory through conflict. Since the serpent is an icon of gnosis, the symbol can be dual in purpose. The weaving effect of the geometry inherently adds to the dimension of the piece. The Lucifer figure is akin to a German-Romanesque style manuscript illustration from the 12th century. Its origin is actually a non-specific angel (cherubim), which was altered by Vierling to depict the Bringer of Light. Note the eyes in the wings (transcendent and penetrating Vision), and the gesture of the hands: the Left is forming the horned mudra, while the Right is the lowered signature of benediction, which is also used by the Baphomet in Levi's famous illustration. The halo around His head correlates with the Black Sun. Beneath Lucifer’s feet is the turning wheel of the cosmos; vocation, kismet et al. It is in flames as you can see; this is simply to indicate the mastery of Will over matter, the harnessing of the root Chakra, and sovereignty over Fate. Lucifer remains fixed in His descent despite the turning of the wheel. The inverse crescents signify the receptive lunar principle, while the geometry of the three haloed deathheads balances with the burning wheel of Fate at the nadir. The structure of the piece itself has been sketched in the form of a mandala. Carl Jung saw the mandala as an illustration of the unconscious Self, and believed that his own paintings of mandalas enabled him to detect internal turmoil and toil towards unity in individuality."
How long did the recording process take for the new album? This was presumably recorded in a studio? Were any of your earlier recordings done in the studio?
"The recording process lasted for 11 days. Actually, this album and the preceding EP were both not recorded in a professional studio. Sabazios has a home studio in his house, which is where we recorded; competent as it may be, it’s a demo-level studio at best. Whatever amount of professional flair our album has is courtesy of Sound Extractor Studio where it was mixed and mastered by S. Kirkwood. Ironically enough, our demo and the first EP were both recorded in totally professional studios, although nobody would be ever be able to guess by the sounds of those releases!"
When the demo was released, much attention was given to the fact that you are Bangladeshi by birth, and I believe that you were actually still living in Bangladesh at that time. Is that true? If so, at what point did you make the decision to take up your new residence in Canada?
"I am of Bengal blood by birth, and was in fact there when the demo was released (2004). Unfortunately, this was when 3rd world bands were quite the hype, partly due to the impressive GOAT SEMEN demo released around that time. I say unfortunately because a band’s location should have no bearing on their popularity (or unpopularity for that matter). My permanent residence has been Canada for many years; contrary to hearsay, WEAPON was in fact formed in Calgary. I was visiting Bengal for some personal reasons and it just worked out that way for the demo release. Unsure about when I was going to return to Canada, I decided to get a line-up together and move ahead, that’s all. People tend focus on things that are really insignificant and trivial."
How did the line-up that you selected for this album affect the performance of the material?
"The Disciple and Vileblood Dahcnial were essentially chosen for their prowess on their respective instruments. Obviously I knew them for a number of years, and a mutual admiration for similar musical and occult entities brought us together. Sabazios was enlisted for his creativity and ideas, and not so much for his musical skills; this also has much to do with why he is no longer in the band."
The instrumental track that opens the album is simply entitled 'Weapon' and, although brief, is one of the strongest tracks you have written thus far. Few bands can concoct such poignant and evocative music without vocals (Arghoslent comes to mind as one of the few that can). Was this track intended to be more of an intro or did you compose as an instrumental?
"The opening piece titled ‘Weapon’ is an instrumental song, not an intro. It, however, delivers the listener to the assault that is forthcoming. We have always been a fan of bands that can create sinister ambiances through melody; melodic Death / Black Metal, if executed properly, can be violent, ugly / beautiful, and thus, overwhelming on the senses. THE CHASM are the true masters of such grandiose, instrumental beginnings if we are to mention any other bands here at all."
Speaking of intros, so many bands lately have begun including extremely long intros before many of their songs. While this can be effective if done correctly, it can also ruin the continuity of a record. You went the opposite direction and included no intros whatsoever. Were you intentionally trying to avoid that trap?
"Longwinded, pointless intros bore me to despair. It’s an escape route for a lot of bands to make up for the music they don’t have. There are only a handful of bands that can manage to make the intro an entity in itself, and yet, make it compliment the whole album. We didn’t feel the need for any intros on this particular album. If we do use some in the future, you can rest assured that they will be composed with purpose and executed with identity."
You present an array of spiritual influences in you lyrics. How important is it that you communicate these ideas? Do you feel that the ideological component is as valuable to understanding your work as the musical component?
"In the case of Black Metal, one cannot separate the ideology from the music; think of the holy unions of Sammael & Lilith, Shiva & Kali; one cannot be functional without the other! Yet, after all is said and done, we all know that it is the music the majority of people will adhere to and remember; and that is fine, because not every listener is expected, nor encouraged, to follow the Left Hand. For some it is just ‘music’, but only for a few it is an experience… an eye-opening, lifetime encounter."
Your lyrics illustrate clearly that you are well-versed in several various strains of left hand path ideology and you draw considerable influence from eastern philosophy and spirituality. Perhaps you can describe the nexus between Luciferian principles and the eastern tradition as it pertains to the perspective presented in your art.
"When dealing with something as menacing as the Left Hand Path, I try to be loyal to several veins; they are all carrying blood towards for same beating heart, so they all must be examined. There is no one way to reach Satan, and that is something I have been realizing more and more over the last 10 years. The gnosis of Pan, Set, Loke and Shiva etc are just a few of the more ‘known’ entities that I dissect in the never-ending path of draconian Rebirth. I have said before that Kalilith is an enigma that inspires me endlessly! The Dark Mother has taken me inside her grasp and there is no letting out…"
Does ritual play a role in the creation of your music? If so, is it an entirely personal endeavor or do you encourage the other musicians with whom you work to engage in it as well?
"There are 2 kinds of ritual that I can attest to – one is the brotherhood: WEAPON. Our entire musical process is a ritual in itself, and it’s something you have to be there, be a part of, to truly understand. The second is my personal (private) kind, and that is LEFTHANDPATHYOGA."
I’ve read in several places that for some time heroin and other drugs were omnipresent in your life. You have recently intimated that drugs were a stifling rather than illuminating influence on you. Do you feel that your outlook has been altered in some ways as a result of your use and does this continue to affect your music even now that you have quit?
"It’s always there in one way or another. Every little facet of life nowadays reminds me of my time as a junkie. But like you said, it was stifling, not illuminating. Heroin changes everything. I am not looking for pity, nor understanding here, but after coming out of a long-term addiction it’s challenging going back to activities that don’t revolve around the next fix. You can imagine how counter-productive that can be for music… especially the kind of music we make, which demands complete devotion and dedication. But I am by no means some straight edge square nowadays, in fact, I fully endorse people to use hard drugs and find out for themselves the little joys that await; surely Crowley had some benefits from his escapades?"
While most Black Metal focuses on Christianity as the target of its attacks, you have often taken aim at Islam as well. This is understandable in the sense that you spent much of your life in closer proximity to Islam and because both religions reflect the sickness of monotheism. Do you see any difference between the two “faiths” and their influence on the world at this time? Should Black Metal challenge all forms of monotheism in the same fashion? Have you suffered any repercussions for your works such as 'Violated Hejab' and 'Remnants Of A Burnt Mosque'?
"At the societal and moral core, the three Abrahamic faiths are same. I don’t need to inform your readers on that end - unless somebody has been living in a fucking sewer for the last 30 years, s/he is aware of this. When we get to the cultural and political aspects we start to see the friction. Islam is still the undergdog in the public eye in many ways, and so it shall remain for a little longer. I think the fanatical Muslims are more devoted to their belief structure and are generally more narrow-minded, which roughly equals more extreme behavior and long-term damage. On the other hand, Christians have had the advantage of the Caucasians on their side, who for the better part of the last few hundred years, have been the deciding race on most global socio-political issues. For how much longer it will remain thus remains to be seen. The West cannot afford to underestimate the word ‘Jihad’. Black Metal has one purpose – to serve Lucifer, Satan, the Devil. Simply spewing anti-religious propaganda does not a Black Metal band make. Of course it’s a bit more complicated, but I will leave it at that. As far as songs like ‘Remnants…’ and ‘Violated Hejab’, there hasn’t been any backlash on us partly due to the fact that WEAPON isn’t as popular as say, BEHEMOTH or MARDUK; we are hardly in the spotlight. Although those songs are not just anti-Islamic - there’s more to them than that - but yes, the average mullah would put a fatwah on our collective heads in a heartbeat was he to come across one of our releases."
Do you have any last words with which you would like to conclude this interview?
"On behalf of WEAPON, I extend our gratitude for an engaging interview. A.M.S.G."
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