Logo Skaldic Curse

Non entity man

England may not be THE country known for thrilling black metal acts but SKALDIC CURSE are likely to cause a great stir with their second full length "World Suicide Machine". Astynax (guitars) and Woundz (vocals) deliver insights not only centring on the new album.

"SKALDIC CURSE was born in the winter of 2001 by myself - Astynax - and our ex-guitarist VX. The original ethos of the band has not changed - that is, to create black metal music that is at once progressive, misanthropic and discordant. Monolith (bass), ex-drummer Theutus and Woundz (vocals) joined us shortly afterwards and we set about playing live and refining our sound. A couple of demos were recorded during this period which, while being ambitious in scope, were somewhat primitive in terms of execution/realisation. It was with the release of the "Contagious Psychic Misery" EP on Forgotten Wisdom Productions in 2005 that our recorded material began - in our opinion - to start to satisfy our goals for the band. The songs were a distinct step forward, capturing more effectively the labyrinthine hostility that we were trying to create. VX left shortly afterwards and we recorded our debut album "Pathogen" as a four piece. This pushed the progressive elements of the band further and certainly polarised reactions within the black metal underground - there were those who embraced the convoluted, twisting discordance whilst others betrayed their limited musical understanding by being confused or disgusted by the approach." After also Theutus leaves the band SKALDIC CURSE decide to return to a five-piece line-up and recruit drummer Vermin and guitarist Scapula who both are extremely accomplished musicians as Astynax points out. So they are equal parties in the creational process of "World Suicide Machine" right from the beginning, and the album is written predominantly by Astynax and Scapula with whom he forges a swift creative bond. "Both Vermin and Scapula brought with them considerable instrumental ability and a deep interest in progressive music alongside the requisite levels of negativity and a desire to create discordance - therefore, we immmediately set about working on a follow-up to "Pathogen". This has culminated in the birth of "World Suicide Machine". The material came together very quickly, aided no end by Vermin's inventive percussive skills - indeed, without his ability to swiftly process new ideas and synthesise this with his own playing, the album wouldn't have come together so quickly. The recording of the album lasted a week and took place during night sessions in the summer. We would head into the studio at about 11 pm and would emerge blinking into the daylight at about lunchtime. It enabled total focus, total commitment - the tracking was live, no clicks were used, we wanted the recording to be as organic and as natural as possible. In this, it was similar to "Pathogen". However, as "World Suicide Machine" was being recorded in a 'pro' studio, it enabled us to craft something far more developed in the terms of the sound quality." Whereas the consistent discourse on discordance is to be seen as something positive as hardly any other band manage to insert it in such an uncompomising way, plunging the listener into a bleak and cold atmosphere and allowing death and thrash as well as progressive influences into a music where even discordant elements fit in without letting it slip into total cacophony. And it's obvious that such a blend doesn't only evoke praise. "Reactions have of course been mixed - as usual, there are the narrow-minded characters who have utterly failed to grasp what we are doing or dismiss us out of hand but these people are meaningless to us. This is the minority response though and to be fair, we have received a lot of praise for this latest work. I can only guess that there are large sections of the black metal community who are starting to tire of hearing the same old monochromatic sonic photocopies and are yearning to hear the genre taken down more unique paths. Whilst we are not resoundingly experimental/avant-garde in terms of our approach in that we are still a 'traditional' guitars/bass/drums/vocals band, we do make an effort to add something unorthodox to our songwriting."

Skaldic Curse Band
Picture by Dayal Patterson and provided by Karisma Records

Less surprising are the lyrical contents which could hardly be more contemptuous as titles and lyrical extracts in the booklet reveal. Woundz doesn't exclude the possibility that the lyrics will be released in their entirety one day - through a resurrected website, for instance - but is of the opinion that the extracts included in the booklet of "World Suicide Machine" are sufficient enough to state an intention and in turn allowing the artwork to visualise. Asked if SKALDIC CURSE reflect on the life form in general or what became of it over the millennia of its 'evolution' Woundz declares that "the lyrics are accounts of rage, depression, anger and loathing for the 'ugly' state of the human species as I view it, and are motivated by negative experience and perception of the said creature in its crude, generalised and uninspiring form. I am of the opinion that (for the most part, at least), this world in its current state, is vastly overpopulated to a suffocating degree by herd mentality, static, weak-willed non entities (reproducing exponentially like germs, eager to continue futile lineages) who are genuinely incapable of offering anything remotely stimulating or creatively worthwile to this existence, lacking in integrity, honour and self-respect and this is something that I am frequently reminded of upon my interactions with society at large, and therefore it seems natural to me that the lyrics take the particular form that they do." Regarding other lyrical influences Astynax throws in that he understands that "Woundz draws on deep depression, anger, rage and hatred for what he perceives around him - however, it manifests itself in quite personal expressions. More abstract concepts are explored - Lovecraftian cosmic horror/malice is also explored, nuclear war, psychic abilities, anything that concentrates on the unknown, the horrific and the potentially destructive." Still it's desired to interact with society in the form of live shows as Astynax confirms. "We would all dearly love to embark on a tour to spread the disease of our music further. As it currently stands, we have no concrete plans as it's simply a question of trying to get something put together, ensuring the logistics are feasible." For a band nominating a wide array of bands as influences (more about that later) it would be interesting to hear who would be ideal partners in crime for such a tour. On one side an all black metal package sounds to be a good choice, on the other hand SKALDIC CURSE seem to be predestined to focus on some unexpected contrasts. "Personally speaking, a tour with ourselves and Voivod, Enslaved and a reformed Swans would be fucking excellent. It would be an ideal blend of progression, ritualistic emotional fury, blackened metal, thrash, discordance and a full on noise. In reality, if we were on tour, a package whereby there is a coherence in terms of the themes/atmospheres of the bands but contrasts in approach would work well. You don't want three or four bands all playing the same thing but neither do you want bands that have nothing in common sharing the stage. There must be a balance."

Already the mentioned bands feature quite some spectrum but besides the usual suspects there are also other bands who draw Astynax's attention. "My primary influences are from the more inventive, discordant realms of black metal - as well as the obvious classics (Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor, Thorns). I am also really impressed by acts such as Funeral Mist, Deathspell Omega, Ruins Of Beverast, Leviathan, Secrets of the Moon and others. Any black metal outfit that chooses to push at the boundaries of what is acceptable and experiment with the darkest and most filthiest of atmospheres. The more avant-garde elements of black metal (Ved Buens Ende, Virus, Blut Aus Nord, Lugubrum) are also a real inspiration as are the classic death metal outfits Immolation, Autopsy and Suffocation. Moving away from extreme metal, one has to highlight Voivod as being a massive influence musically - a band truly ahead of their time and perhaps more relevant today than they ever have been. We are also bringing on board more and more influences from the classic prog bands - 70s Genesis, Rush, Yes, King Crimson and many others, exceptionally talented outfits who manage to weave soundscapes at once atmospheric and complex." The latter is a description which would also fit SKALDIC CURSE, and they know very well what the listener should feel hearing "World Suicide Machine" even if he/she hardly knows anything about the lyrical contents - or nothing at all. "Morbid intrigue, cathartic anger, palpable hatred, alienation," specifies Astynax. "A coldness and a complete disregard for the arbitrary constructs of modern human interactions. Our goal is for music, vocals and lyrics to combine to create a captivating hostility, a soundscape at once deeply unpleasant yet strangely fascinating, drawing the listener back like a moth to a flame." And Woundz adds that all is well "if the listener is able to find the Skaldic Experience uncomfortable, threatening and painful." Keywords like hatred, coldness and hostility are well known acquaintances in the black metal community which often defines itself by a corresponding image, ranging from corpse paint, spikes and varied symbols to sometimes totally exaggerated behaviour. SKALDIC CURSE obviously don't only let the music talk but seem to distance themselves from this whole imagery. "I have to make my position clear," says Astynax. "I am a massive fan of traditional metal imagery and in many circumstances, it works perfectly. Spikes, skulls, evil, all that stuff is great for some bands. However, it's not something that is hugely appropriate for this band. The concept of 'evil' raises so many philosophical issues that it is something we don't really feel can be addressed - SKALDIC CURSE prefer to concentrate on the overall failure of humanity, of personal negativity, nihilism and self-destruction. Concepts that are more relevant to humans living within the blood-stained asylum that is the 21st century." Concepts which certainly hold enough potential for future releases. "We are stockpiling material for a new album which takes us even further down the twisting, murky road of progressive discordance. We are also considering putting together some split EPs with some other bands from the UK so there is a lot of filth in the pipeline for 2009 and beyond."

Cover artwork World Suicide Machine

Other bands from the UK? This is definitely something we'd like to know more about, especially after stating that black metal made in the UK is not a well known trademark. "The English black metal scene is steadily improving. It is understandable that UK black metal does not have a particularly high profile given the quality of acts in the past. Nevertheless, a number of bands has started to emerge who are easily capable of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the most renowned scenes. Particularly within the more atmospheric, nature-inspired side of black metal, I think that English bands are really carving their identities. I would mention straight away Niroth, Wodensthrone, Ghast, Code, Axis Of Perdition and Caina as being amongst the cream of the crop from these isles." Woundz, however, has "never been a close follower of the UK 'scene' often finding bands from other countries to be more suited to my taste, though it has to be said that the UK also has its decent bands, some examples that spring to mind immediately would be Extinction, Niroth, The One, Ghast, A Forest of Stars and Void. All these groups appeal to me. Living in Italy now for four years, I have also discovered some bands which I feel are worth mentioning, for example Absentia Lunae, Baphomet's Blood, Warmonger and Melets." Should these split EPs featuring other bands from the UK come true one day we will see which label will release them but it's a fact that SKALDIC CURSE are releasing "World Suicide Machine" on Dark Essence Records from Norway (after an EP and the debut album "Pathogen" on the French label Forgotten Wisdom Productions). And Astynax is very satisfied with this new cooperation. "Our cooperation with Forgotten Wisdom was very worthwile and the label boss, Tomas, is a great guy. At the end of the day though, Dark Essence made us an excellent offer and have provided us with a remarkable level of support and distribution - the guys there are genuinely into the music that we are creating and that is one of the most important things for a label to be able to provide. For me, it is absolutely fundamental that the band is perceived as a valid artistic entity as opposed to a marketable unit-shifter and Dark Essence understand this perfectly. Thus far, the promotional support they have provided for the album has been first-rate. Also, for us to be associated with a discerning label at the heart of the Norwegian scene can only be a good thing for the band and to me, it's a real honour to be the first band from the UK to sign with them." So is there anything to add? Of course, you wouldn't want to miss the obligatory broad hint: "Celebrate the inevitable self-annihilation of humankind by listening to our music."

For further information check out their myspace page.

Interview done by Endrew. March 2009.

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