The brutal Death Metal underground seems to be healthier than ever before these days… especially worshippers of the blasphemous oldschool style can find a lot of cool releases lately to feed their hunger in that department: DEAD CONGREGATION from Greece, BURIAL INVOCATION from Turkey, DENIAL from Mexico, UNAUSSPRECHLICHEN KULTEN from Chile, HATESPAWN from Germany, GRAVE MIASMA from the UK and IGNIVOMOUS from Australia (to name just a few acts here) have all come up with some excellent stuff! VASAELETH is another name that needs to be added to this list as their early IMMOLATION / INCANTATION styled Death Metal gets celebrated very impressively on their debut full length album "Crypt Born And Tethered To Ruin"! Needless to say that we had to find out some more about this unholy duo, so here’s an interview with O.A. (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards) and Antinom (drums)…
Greetings O.A…. hope you’re doing fine and you’re in a good mood to do some talking about music in general and your band VASAELETH in particular?!
"Greetings as well. Foremost, it would be pertinent to mention that we, VASAELETH, answer all interviews collectively, so the answers to follow are from both O.A. and Antinom."
Please introduce yourselves to our readers, tell us a little bit more about yourselves and the area where you’re both from… How old are you, when and how did you get into music, how’s the Metal scene in your area and was VASAELETH your very first band?
"As some may not be familiar, VASAELETH operates over long distance. O.A. lives near Atlanta, Georgia and Antinom near Dallas, Texas. Both members of the band are 23 years old. VASAELETH is hardly the first band for other members; O.A. is in LEGIONS OF ASTAROTH and Antinom is in DAGON. Texas certainly has a broader spectrum of extreme Metal bands than Georgia, but both respective scenes have their strengths and weaknesses. As for introductions, we have both been drawn to extremity and darkness in music in all its forms, genres and sub-genres. Of course, this goes for Black and Death Metal, but is also extended to our affinities for Ambient, Industrial / Noise, Folk and Classical music as well."
Has VASAELETH always been a two-piece only? How did you both get together and are you still in search for members to complete the line-up?
"Yes, VASAELETH was formed as a two-piece and will remain as such. We have known each other for over 6 years from our work in our other projects. Despite the long distance between Georgia and Texas, we ended up performing at common concerts and festivals with our other bands quite often and have stayed in frequent contact ever since. We have been collaborating on various projects for a few years and finally decided to pursue VASAELETH. We are not searching for any members, as the line-up is complete. The concept behind what would become VASAELETH was fleshed out between the two of us due to our desires to work with atmospheres and themes not found in our respective other projects."
Considering the lack of a full band line-up I suppose you haven’t played any live shows with VASAELETH yet, have you? Are there any plans to change this in the not too distant future or will you remain a studio only band?
"Live performances have always been considered an option for us in VASAELETH assuming the proper opportunity presented itself. That said, the first VASAELETH live ritual has been announced. We will be performing in San Antonio, Texas at the Rites Of Darkness Fest. We have dedicated session members secured for a full five-piece live line-up and rehearsals have already begun. Still, it is not our intention to perform live with any great frequency, mostly due to the limitations present due to the long distance between members. When we do present VASAELETH in a live situation, it is important to us that the suffocating atmosphere of darkness and death found on our recordings transfers to the intense and confrontational nature of live performance."
But apart from VASAELETH you’ve already toured with DEMONCY and also played in CRIMSON MOON… Tell us a bit more about that, like how you got the opportunity, if you’ve been session members and what kind of experiences you made during that time…
"O.A. played on the "Xepera Xeper Xeperu" MCD and toured with CRIMSON MOON (along with DEMONCY, TENEBROUS and LEGIONS OF ASTAROTH) during the Winds From The Void MMVII tour which covered a large part of the US and also had a stop in Mexico. DAGON was also on several dates of the tour. During this time peiod, all five bands performed together quite often even aside from the tour in question. Several of these shows were quite affective and powerful."
In VASAELETH you call yourself O.A. and Antinom… what is the reason for that? Any deeper meaning behind those names?
"These are are names as they have been for years and are closely representative of our lives and practices. No other words needed…"
Antinom also uses the name Abaa’l when he plays with DOMINION and DAGON… any interesting story connected to that? Is he still part of those bands?
"Well, actually, I use the name Antinom with DAGON as well. The other name represents a different person than who I am today. DAGON is still a part of me, but I would not look for any activity with DAGON for a while.“
Talking of names and concepts… what does your band name VASAELETH actually mean and are your lyrics connected to the name in one way or another?
"VASAELETH is an amalgamation of characters that are, indeed, significant to the band’s creative process. Darkened names vibrated by poisoned tongues! There have been several keys presented on all of our releases, to this date anyways, to further decipher the origins of the band name. When a concept like ours is embodied this way, it allows us a certain degree of mystery as far as the name is concerned. As a title, VASAELETH is a striking moniker, but as for the connectivity to our lyrical work, it functions as a sacred archetype whose resonance crumbles all with the immensity of the universe."
The first release of VASAELETH was your 2 song demo "Demo MMIX", which was released by Satanic Skinhead Propaganda in 2009, in a limited edition of 200 handnumbered copies… Tell us a little bit more about this release and the songs that were featured on it (‘Figures Of Chained Spirits’ and ‘Adorned And Iridescent’)…
"These were the first two songs that we recorded as a band and were meant to stand as a sort of “mission statement“ for VASAELETH. Recording this demo allowed us to sonically map out the direction that VASAELETH would continue. Originally, we had intended on releasing the demo ourselves, but, upon hearing it, SSP decided to release it. This ensured wider distribution for our first demo and, as per all SSP releases, received the utmost attention to detail concerning the aesthetic presentation."
Why did you already work with a label for a simple demo / cassette only release and what kind of response did you get on it from the underground scene in general?
"The reaction to our demo was unprecedented. If memory serves, the demo sold out in a mere 6 days. Of course, both the band and the label were entirely pleased with the material, but we were still quite surprised how overwhelmingly positive the response to a mere 2-song demo tape was."
Which bands were your main sources of inspiration musically and lyrically at the time and have those influences changed ever since VASAELETH’s origin?
"As far as bands being inspirational, we can only discuss musical influences as our lyrics have nothing to do with the bands we listen to. When we started VASAELETH, we weren’t really following any one group of bands. We wanted to create music that represented the darkness and death that we had come to know so that we may force this upon the listener. We furthered what we were already interested in and pursuing to create the sound of VASAELETH. Still, the work of bands like IMMOLATION, INCANTATION, DEMONCY, ROTTREVORE and NIHILIST could be certainly be considered inspirational."
In 2010 the "Adorned & Iridescent" 7" EP was released (limited to 500 copies), which was once again released by Satanic Skinhead Propaganda, but this time in co-operation with Blood Harvest Records though…. The EP featured the 2 demo songs plus the previously unreleased additional track ‘Unmanifest’… Who came up with the idea for this release, did you record ‘Unmanifest’ during the demo session already or was it recorded exclusively for this EP? How did Blood Harvest get involved in the whole project?
"Since the demo tape sold out so quickly, the idea of the 7inch came about naturally as we wanted the material to still be available as there were plenty of people writing from all over the planet who wanted to hear the demo and missed the demo tape. Indeed, ‘Unmanifest’ was recorded specifically for this release as, after writing it, we found it to be a particularly strong track that could stand alone. After the demo was released, Blood Harvest got in touch with us wanting to release the vinyl version of our full-length, so the SSP / Blood Harvest collaboration was a result of our desire to work with the label who originally released the demo material as well as establish the connection with a label we would be working with in the future."
Did you get any negative feedback on the 7" because of the fact that two of the songs were already on your demo tape?
"No. The demo had already been sold out for many months by the time the 7inch was released. In addition to including the bonus track, the medium of vinyl was something we were definitely interested in utilizing for our music (and will continue to do so). We hated the idea of the demo being price-gouged on eBay or being downloaded in poor-quality compressed formats from blog sites, so the re-issue was necessary from our perspective."
How did you actually get together with Satanic Skinhead Propaganda? Do you share their extremely right-wing / fascistic views, best reflected in slogans like "Die Juden sind unser Unglück" (the Jews are our misfortune) or Nazi bands like DER STÜRMER? Did this co-operation already did any damage to VASAELETH’s reputation maybe?
"SSP has been a long time supporter, in fact, the first ever supporter, of VASAELETH. While VASAELETH is not a politically motivated band, EXTREMITY, HATRED and INTOLERANCE come with the territory of extreme music. If anyone has a problem with VASAELETH due to the people we work / associate with, there are, most assuredly, safer bands to listen to. But as you mentioned reputations, SSP has a reputation for releasing some of the most devastating and evil releases ever, so, in that regard, we are more than willing to let the label’s reputation transfer to our own."
When did Profound Lore get in touch with you and have there been any other label offers as well that you turned down maybe?
"Profound Lore got involved with the release of "Crypt Born & Tethered To Ruin" during the final months of 2009. The album was recorded in the summer of 2009 and was originally to be released by a different label who ceased activities for the time being. Thus, the record sat for awhile, unmastered, while we focused on the release of the "Adorned & Iridescent" 7inch. As soon as we started working with Profound Lore, they had the CD released in only a couple of months time."
Your debut CD "Crypt Born & Tethered To Ruin" was released by Profound Lore, while Blood Harvest Records took care of the vinyl edition… Tell us a bit more about the origin of the album, like when you started writing the material, why you re-recorded the demo / EP songs for it and when and where you recorded it… Do you personally see a musical progression from the demo songs to the newer tracks on the album?
"We suppose that you could say we started writing this album as soon as the band formed, since the demo tracks are present on the album as well. Thinking back on the specifics of the writing process is difficult since it was a creatively chaotic period for the band. Whole songs, individual riffs, lyrics, words, sounds and atmospheres were developing at a very consistent rate as the well-spring that is VASAELETH beckoned "Crypt Born…" be completed! All the while, a very distinct picture of the album was being painted in our minds. The album represents and continuation of the demo hence the re-recorded demo tracks. Our next few releases will show some progression as we approach the second full-length album. As for the recording, we record and mix all of our material ourselves. This means that Antinom records the drum tracks and then O.A. adds the voices, strings and keys. This allows us to ensure that our creative output is truly our own. It is also worth mentioning that the album was mastered by Colin Marston / The Thousand Caves Recording Studio, and he was able to take the recording to the next level and we hope to work with him on future releases."
Tell us a bit more about the artwork of the album, the artist who did it and what it’s supposed to stand for…
"The cover painting for our album is titled “Inanimate Death Suspension“ and it, along with our logo, was crafted for us by Antichrist Kramer. We did not give him any specific guidelines or boundaries to which here would have to adhere, rather we trusted that he would be able to accurately portray, visually, the atmosphere that we had created, sonically. This was the same method used when he made our logo, so we knew that the end result of the album cover would be the same high quality. Furthermore, we were very familiar with his previous artwork for bands like INQUISITION, RAVENBANNER, NYOGTHAEBLISZ and LEGIONS OF ASTAROTH. As it says in the liner notes, the ’subsequent figures and poisoned visages’ were drawn by both O.A. and Antinom to further serve as visual representations of individual songs. O.A. also handled the layout / graphic execution, again, maintaining that our creative output is truly our own."
You already have recorded another new song (‘Black Curse Unfold’), which will appear on the split 7" EP "Profane Limbs Of Ruinous Death" with VORUM later in 2010… Tell us a bit more about that song, how you got the opportunity to do this split and who’s going to release it and when… Were you familiar with VORUM before this split already?
"This track is probably the most raw track that we have yet. So those looking for more polish and clarity will not find it here. That said, ‘Black Curse Unfold’ also shows how the song structuring and writing continues to develop. We both heard VORUM’s "Grim Death Awaits" soon after its release and found it to be an absolutely perfect example of what modern Death Metal should be… Alex from Negative Existence (who will release this split) facilitated this release. Without his contacts this would not have happened. He was able to get us into touch with one another, and from there we worked the details and began work on the release. The artwork for this split will be handled by Alexander Brown, whose work is incredibly inspiring and we are honored to work with him. Also, D.L. from the mighty CRUCIAMENTUM mastered the tracks for the split."
When it comes to your releases, you seem to be deeply rooted in the oldschool underground with tape- and vinyl releases… So I was wondering how important mp3s and the internet in general and myspace in particular is for a band like VASAELETH?
"The degradation that people put up with in terms of their music is disheartening. Mp3s are poor quality sound files that compress and kill music. The internet forces one, including us, to play by mp3 rules. To combat this, we try to present all of our releases on the best formats possible. This means vinyl, tape and CD as the release calls for. Those who download releases really have no ground to stand on when discussing our releases. Given that, we are trying to make our material as available as possible. Afterall, you would not read cliff notes on Proust to argue with a Proust scholar."
Ok O.A., I guess that’s all for now. If you have any additional information about VASAELETH that you’d like to share with us, feel free to add them here… the last words are yours! Thanks for the interview and all the best for you guys…
"Best regards to you and Voices From The Darkside for this interview and the continued support. Our next release, the aforementioned split with VORUM, will be released later on this summer and there is more on the horizon. The tunnels which lead to our second album are being traversed and the winding corridors therein are proving to be wholly inspirational as we further our descent. BLACK CURSE WORSHIP."