It is becoming increasingly difficult for bands to carve out unexplored territory in the spectrum of Black and Death Metal. All too often, the best we, as listeners, can hope for with new releases is a very well executed regurgitation of sounds produced by the elders in the genres. Sometimes this is satisfying, but more often than not we are left wanting to hear something genuine and novel. About two years ago I was corresponding with Ulrich, another contributor to VFTD. He told me he was reviewing the “Under Wing Of Asael” demo by ANTEDILUVIAN. I had yet to hear this band though I had been seeing the name getting thrown about on message boards. Intrigued, though with the usual low expectations, I asked for Haasiophis’ email address. Since that time I have become closely acquainted with ANTEDILUVIAN’s work (to the point of having just released the band’s first post-demo material on 12” EP). The band actually is among those very few that have proven capable of creating atmosphere and structure at the same time within their songs, and with each release, they carve out a little more space for their sound. Few bands have continually developed and evolved their approach in the way ANTEDILUVIAN has. What they have done is not to simply create a band and a sound, but to create an entire universe for their music, lyrically, aesthetically and sonically. I felt it would be valuable to conduct an interview with Haasiophis regarding these elements of ANTEDILUVIAN at this stage in their development. The band is scheduled to release their first LP this year and, at this time, seem poised to continue their trajectory into deeper and more occluded regions.
Hails Haasiophis. Your most recent project, ANTEDILUVIAN, has recently gained a substantial amount of attention in the underground, however, you have been working with your drummer, Mars-Sekhmet, for some time now. In fact, you have released four demos with the fourth one, “Under Wing Of Asael” being released in 2008. Can you provide some background as to the creation and manifestation of this crushing entity known as ANTEDILUVIAN?
"We started the band in 2006. It was made in order to exorcise the kind of music I really wanted to hear and participate in, something unrestricted and abominable in the sense that the material itself reflected tumult and chaos as well as the theme of the band. The music is meant to spiral out and expand in grotesque aberration, though it often threatens to collapse on itself as an imploding star, as we attempt the impossible: to reflect void as well as matter."
Turning now to the name of your band, as a biblical reference ANTEDILUVIAN signifies the time period of time before the great flood. Speaking more generally, it means “extremely primitive or outmoded”. How do these concepts relate to your music?
"Both concepts refer to time, early history, primitivism, etc. When we peer back into history it often seems as veiled as peering into the future. The fascinating thing about the bible is that so many people believe it as truth, Christianity being a massive religion especially here in North America. Ironically many Christians are not even aware of the abominable events that are referred to in the bible. They don’t consider what actually took place before the flood, nor are they cognizant of the absurd behavior of the deities described therein. I am fascinated by the descriptions in not just the bible but also in apocryphal texts and many other writings describing the tales of these “supernatural” beings, and with how external opposers have been blamed through history. The biblical example also relates directly to the themes that specifically recur in occult music, for example the scapegoat and its etymological link to the watchers, etc. This is one aspect of why we chose a name that could be associated with the bible. Regardless of their origin, however, ANTEDILUVIAN myths and cycles often attempt to describe our race’s origin in light of a struggle between internal and external influence. We are very interested in how inversion occurs and how the internal and external can mirror each other."
In addition to this project, you have been involved in a number of bands throughout the Edmonton, Canada area. Most notably, you played in Dead of Winter and Gloria Diaboli. What was your role in each of these projects and how did your work in those bands contribute to the development of the sound you reached with ANTEDILUVIAN?
"In Dead of Winter, I played guitar and wrote much of the music and lyrics. This band was exceptionally extremist and depraved. I learned to invoke certain forlorn qualities through my instrument that I still utilize now. In Gloria Diaboli I was vocalist for the “Gate To Sheol” MCD and wrote lyrics for several songs. Both experiences provided tools I often draw on in the work I do now with ANTEDILUVIAN and thereby the ANTEDILUVIAN material has been more mature and closer to my vision than it would have been otherwise. Recently I also participated in A.M.S.G. as bassist and backing vocalist. We were in the process of writing an album when two of our members were imprisoned; the project will continue if / when they are released."
At this time, ANTEDILUVIAN’s recognition is based solely upon 3 self-released demos and one three-way split demo. You have yet to release anything on a label. Why has this process taken so long for you? Does this protracted time-frame represent an intention on your part to perfect your sound before working on a release for a label?
"Yes exactly. We wanted to take our time, let our material and skills develop, and become fully engrossed in exploration of the chaotic territory we churn in."
The style of ANTEDILUVIAN’s music has evolved considerably over the handful of releases you have recorded. The entire direction of the band seems to have taken shape gradually over the course of these demos with each one expressing a clearer direction than the one previous to it. What has spurred this continual growth?
"We push ourselves constantly, and are open to a chaotic and abhorrent channel that refuses singularity and simplicity."
It should be noted that your band does not rely upon the usual “social media” internet sites as conduits for disseminating your music. Is this an intentional decision on your part? Do you foresee ever utilizing these mundane channels for these purposes?
"We are constructing a proper website. I don’t use other social networking tools on the internet though I’m more indifferent than radically opposed to such outlets."
ANTEDILUVIAN is only a two-piece at this time. Have you considered adding new members to achieve a more full sound or are you content with the line-up as it currently exists?
"Yes we are considering trying to find other members, which would be a very difficult thing since like-minded individuals are scarce or already neck deep in their own bands here. In concert we sound devastating as it is, though additional live musicians would not be a detriment and might be used someday."
As I understand it, although trained in other areas of music, Mars-Sekhmet only began playing the drums at ANTEDILUVIAN’s inception. Her progress in ability is clearly apparent. What musical training do each of you have in your background? What led to the changed drum sound between your last two recordings?
"I don’t have any formal musical training. MS has formal training in the piano, violin, and musical theory. The changed drum sound is due to switching drum kits."
What recording equipment do you use? Has this changed over the course of your releases? Did you have any assistance with the production of your demos?
"We recorded all the demos ourselves, and as we progressed we’ve acquired improved equipment. Our upcoming mini album “Revelations In Excrement” was recorded at Death Cult studio in Edmonton."
Another element that sets ANTEDILUVIAN apart from many other new Death Metal bands is the artwork that accompanies your releases. Are you responsible for this vision? What are you trying to convey with your selection of artwork? Is the artwork created specifically to accompany the music and, if so, how is the relationship between the art and the music cultivated?
"Yes, I am responsible. I am trying to convey the concepts found in the lyrics, dealing with the origins of matter and consciousness, and contrasting internal and external views of reality. From the split demo onwards, I have used formal abstraction to some extent to reference the importance of actual material, i.e. matter. However, this is always combined with some representational elements to reference our ability to perceive symbols and attach concept and thought to what we view."
Your logo is unique in that it appears not to contain any linguistic character. What does it represent and why did you choose this as the symbol to represent ANTEDILUVIAN?
"It is what it looks like… Watchful chaos. The symbol of ANTEDILUVIAN is a symbol because we choose it to be. Its form is of chaotic matter, created without control, yet by using it as a symbol we control it, deciding to perceive it as meaningful. This is how the eye and the mind relate. We explore watching as having multiple implications; on one side there is personal, internal, introspective interpretation, and on the other the conscience (of the external): considering ourselves as we are in relation to others and to all matter which we interact with in reality. The external view also relates to concepts such as Promethean watchers, the idea of an outside/unknown influence bestowing awareness or carnal knowledge."
Would you ever consider using artwork created by a third party or is it essential to the message of ANTEDILUVIAN that you create the artwork as well as the music?
"I might consider it. It depends on the circumstance of course, and I won’t rule it out. I will likely be collaborating with a member of Witchrist for a split 7 inch we are doing with them. He similarly does all art and design for the aforementioned project."
You recently signed to Invictus Productions for the release of your debut album. How did this relationship arise?
"Darragh of Invictus contacted us by email and asked to release it. The debut album is in the process of being written. At this point Darragh has just released a compilation of our first two demos and the material from the split demo. The compilation is called “Watchers’ Reign” and serves as a record of our initiatory recordings."
How much of the album have you written at this time? Can you give any description of the character of the songs you already have completed?
"For the album we have about 5 songs completed and a few more in progress. The songs so far are varied in texture and contain strange elements. They take the different styles we touch on and render them unrecognizable. In the end the strange ingredients we channel will form into an abominable new hole."
You also have a 10” MLP entitled “Revelations In Excrement” that has been recorded and should be released very soon. I was fortunate enough to hear a promo of this material and believe it to be the most fully developed of your work. Can you tell me more about these new recordings? What label is releasing it and when do you expect it to be out? (NOTE: At the time this question was written, ANTEDILUVIAN prepared this release for another label. Only after that release fell through did Bird of Ill Omen become involved.)
"It will be released on Bird Of Ill Omen from the U.S. We expect it to be out in the last quarter of 2010. This was our first time recording in a studio for ANTEDILUVIAN. The engineer was very familiar with the kind of musical territory we explore, and therefore it was an ideal studio-recording situation. We have thereby furthered the decay and strangeness found in our sound."
Did you conceive and execute the artwork for “Revelations In Excrement?”
"Yes I did."
Just as each release thus far has brought more focus to your work, do you anticipate that, when it is released, the album will reflect a new plateau for your sound?
"Yes I do. I am aware that our new material is more complex and in some ways different again to anything we have done. Our songs are flowing out into unique forms, forged with the tools we gained while writing all of our demos so far. It is inevitable for the album to manifest itself as something that goes beyond everything we’ve done so far."
You have also recorded a track for a split with Witchrist that will be released on my label, Bird Of Ill Omen Recordings. How did you decide to work with Witchrist? How does the song for this split compare to your other releases? (Note: This split EP will now soon be released under the banner of the excellent Nuclear Winter Records.)
"The song is very up-tempo and abrupt; it is along the lines of material from “Under Wing Of Asael” and “Revelations In Excrement.” It was recorded in the same session as the latter. We have been in contact with Witchrist for some time and decided a long time ago to do a split. The quality of material found on their recent “Beheaded Ouroboros” album solidifies the legitimacy and necessity for this split to occur."
How many live rituals have you performed so far? What is to be expected at an ANTEDILUVIAN show? Do you have plans to continue performing live?
"We have played seven concerts since our live debut in October. Our shows bring expansion to the presentation beyond typical sounds and visuals. Animal parts, sculptures, or other displays are always incorporated. We also use unique introductions for the songs that go beyond the recorded material. We do not have plans for any more live performances at this time as we are concentrating on making new material for our album. After that we expect them to resume."
Some of your recordings incorporate additional elements such as overdubbed guitars, keyboards, or various extraneous sounds. Are you able to find some way to achieve these sounds live? Do you perform as a two-piece live as well? Do you attempt to recreate your recorded sound or do you produce something different in the context of live performance?
"Performing as a two-piece is both a bane and a blessing. The layering works differently when we play live but is still present. I won’t talk about any more technical specifics, suffice it to say the atmosphere is suffocating and tends to go beyond the versions of the songs on the recordings. Elements of improvisation as well as planned effects are used to enhance the presentation."
What bands have had the most profound influence on the sound of ANTEDILUVIAN? Do you listen to and are you influenced by music outside the metal scene?
"I listen to all kinds of music, yes. I get tired of listing bands in interviews but more raw, abstract, atmospheric artists are the most appealing. I think the most profound influences come from within, and that inner current is what causes me to connect with certain artists / styles, though it’s impossible to deny the effect that a lifetime of listening to music can have an outside influence on ones mentality. Listening to ambient / experimental music gives us more of our obscure sound than one might guess considering we use typical Metal instruments."
Are there any current bands with which you feel you have a musical, ideological, or aesthetic connection?
"The work of other artists is always open for interpretation."
What philosophies, ideologies, or mystical systems have contributed most significantly to the thematic content of your work?
"I am fairly well read but nonetheless consider myself to have only scratched the surface as far as “mystical systems” go. If I had to pick one thing as a major starting point for spiritual or religious writings I’d say biblical / apocryphal works."
Are you influenced by any practices that allow for the transcendence of the mind above the realm of this profane and ordinary existence such as magick, yoga, meditation, or even drugs? If so, does this affect the character of the music you create?
"I’m open to these types of practices. I think it’s important to somehow get beyond the mundane but only when the results are legitimate."
Death Metal has not always been regarded as a “spiritual” strain of Metal in same way that Black Metal has, but the past several years have seen a rise in so called “Occult Death Metal.” Do you feel an affinity for this current in Death Metal?
"The kind of current you are referring to has been manifest in music since the beginning. I do have an affinity for bands that genuinely channel destructive chaotic energy and I leave the genre labeling to the listeners. To the average casual listener, bands in certain genres are similar in terms of sonic resemblance rather than in specific features like “spirituality”. The more one delves into this type of music, the more these genre divisions fall to pieces or intertwine. Usually bands that defy classifications and expectations are more interesting anyway."
How do you perceive the concepts of “good” and “evil?” Are these forces truly in opposition to each other or necessary emanations of the same force within the plane of existence? What role do the “darker” elements of the universe play in the music of ANTEDILUVIAN? Do these concepts, like that of “God” and “Satan” exist in dynamic opposition to one another or is that a fiction propagated by the dualistic view of the universe inherent in monotheistic traditions?
"Suffice it to say that existence only survives through death and a lot of these concepts arise by trying to avoid or overcomplicate this simple fact. Absolute darkness is the impossibility of existence in the absence of the aforementioned fact. Reaching this impossibility is also known to some as light or enlightenment."
I specifically notice that your music often exhibits temporal shifts that promote a disorienting effect in the listener and you even refer to your music as “time destroying Death Metal.” How do you confront the temporal constraints inherent in Western music?
"Typical Western music is really boring for the most part. Avoiding or elaborating on the rigid dependence on 4/4 or ¾ timing makes for immensely more interesting songs to play and listen to."
What are the primary sources of inspiration for your lyrics and what subject matter have you delved into in writing them?
"Primary sources so far have mostly been the Bible and the Book of Enoch."
ANTEDILUVIAN’s style is unquestionably unique. Identity, however, is an all too uncommon character trait these days when most of the Metal scene consists of simulacra. Is this uniqueness in your music a calculated pursuit or has it evolved naturally? Do you think there is still much room for Metal in general and Death Metal in particular to move forward?
"From my own perspective, there have been numerous bands recently that have been pushing the envelope in a direction that I find insightful, and so in that sense, yes it can move forward, and I think there are still many ways it can move further still. The uniqueness in my music is partly because of my preference to play something varied over something repetitive. I still enjoy listening to repetitive music, however. I also like listening to strange, unsettling, unpredictable music; there is something inherent inside myself that really relates to that type of thing. I channel that unsettling quality from inside out into our recordings."
What do you imagine will be the trajectory of Metal over the next decade? Will it become more relevant or merely a quaint and anachronistic mode of expression? Although it has clearly gained popularity, has Metal become more or less relevant within our society in recent years? Does Metal have a different role or purposes now that it did in the 1980s or 1990s?
"Different types of music gain or lose relevance to mundane society frequently, often regardless of the artists’ intentions. However, there will always be a need for this society to have an aggressive outlet. At its worst, Metal can simply fill this need for the average person in the same way watching wrestling, or sports works. The fact that this outlet for violence needs to exist means our society is completely cut off with the reality of existence that would normally feed this tendency toward aggression and destruction. We evolved to have to kill for our food, and kill for our land, yet today the average person in the Western world is completely cut off from even acknowledging the remotest glimpse of the livid reality of self-sustenance. Having said that, to consider how mainstream Metal applies to mass population is not a subject that affects our work, other than to again remind us of the following: everything we do is based on subverting mundane typicality, digging beyond superficial motivation, and (re)-establishing a connection with the reality of the death that exists within all living forms, and with the true death that cannot even exist."