Upon releasing their debut EP, ‘Hymns to the Countess’, USBM cult Immolith earned a deserved reputation for summoning the ancient spirit of Black Metal and made their mark upon the unsuspecting world. Having joined forces with the likes of Forces of Satan Records, the Riddick brothers as well as countless numbers of fans, bands and distros worldwide, Immolith has set to work on their upcoming full length, ‘Storm Dragon’. I recently talked with songwriter Isiamon about the work of Immolith, collaborating with others in the scene and their maniacal live rituals…
Hellz Isiamon!!! I know you have been a busy mothefucker, so where do we start? The news I just heard is Immolith is opening up for Enthroned and Destroyer 666?!
Yes, I’m always trying to do everything I can to get our name out there. We were fortunate to land this gig. Enthroned and Destroyer 666 were scheduled to begin the US tour in NY on August 4th. But some hold up getting in the country forced them to cancel and reschedule the date for August 31st . With the new date original opening acts like Black Anvil were unable to play the make up date. A few emails to the promoter and booking agent later, Immolith were added to the bill in Black Anvil’s slot.
You have had the opportunity to share the stage with some killer artists from all over the world…are you well connected, at the right place at the right time or is it the crushing force of Immolith alone?
I wouldn’t say well connected, but I spend a lot of time harassing labels, promoters and booking agents alike. But I also have to admit and give respect to Mike and Mark Riddick for helping us get some good contacts in the underground. Mark Riddick kind of started it all for us when he nominated our logo in Terrorizer’s Secret of Black Metal issue as one of the best logo’s in history. From there I got in touch with his brother Mike, and he offered me a gig writing for Metal Maniacs. Mike has been pretty good about me whoring the band on Metal Maniacs, and the exposure has certainly helped get our name out there.
I understand you have had some pretty wild and sacrificial live shows…is this still the normal live Immolith ritual?
Ritual and ceremony are important aspects of black metal, and I wanted to bring that to the stage for our show. So for several of our shows we include the services of fetish model Gwendolyn Eve Hill, where we would have our friend and executioner Dave Wagner (from Evoken) drag her out in chains, chain her to a St. Andrew’s cross. During our set he would torture her and finally slice her throat, while through the PA we played our “Invocation To Belial.” And while we’ve done it a few shows and it went very well, we also want to avoid becoming “the band that kills the hot chick on stage.” I also feel it tied into our Hymns to the Countess theme with the sadism of Countess Bathory, but with the new record looming on the horizon, I’m not sure if that part of our live show will continue.
Tell me about your upcoming full-length release, ‘Storm Dragon’…The cover art looks sick as fuck…Is the recording done?
Thanks man, all credit for the cover goes to Gragoth of Luciferium War Graphix. I gave him a general idea of what I envisioned, and after several drafts he came back with something that the band and me were totally happy with. We were scheduled to go into the studio and begin recording on August 21st. But a couple of missed rehearsals later with guys in the band traveling for work, and or getting sick, has again set our schedule back. We will most likely start recording in September now.
‘Hymns to the Countess’, your debut EP generated a lot of deserved attention for its primal and barbaric intensity…will ‘Storm Dragon’ be a continuation of your previous efforts? How is it different or similar?
We’ve been going back and forth on the idea. We recorded Hymns in my home studio, and were thinking of tracking Storm Dragon in a friend’s professional studio, and in fact that’s where we were scheduled to go on August 21st. But now with the delays, and after some discussions between Warhead and me, it’s will likely be recorded again in my home studio again. Probably for the reasons you mention, we want to keep the primal aspect to the recordings that Warhead and I captured on Hymns. We are like Darkthrone in that aspect. While we have additional members in the band now, it really does come down to Warhead and me. In either case it will be a continuation of our previous efforts, but hopefully Storm Dragon will be even more powerful and envenomed. I think the newer songs we’ve conjured are much stronger then anything we’ve released yet.
I also wanted to ask about the title…we talked about before how the track ‘The Ghost Tower of Inverness’ is referencing Dungeons and Dragons…does ‘Storm Dragon’ also draw influence from that same fantasy RPG? How so?
Despite the seemingly direct ties present between the RPG stuff and a title like Storm Dragon, this one track is not based on D&D. Its lyrics actually reference some Luciferian ideas and philosophy. The ideas presented in Storm Dragon are those of self-deification and empowerment and the will to destroy obstacles in life by invoking the adversary.
I, as well as others thought of your debut as being an honorable resurrection of early 90′s BM, filled with strong material and unrelenting hatred. Was this your intention or did it come naturally?
I appreciate that coming from a colleague such as you, as I could easily say the same about your band A Transylvanian Funeral. I’d like to think it came naturally. I just write in the style I write and it is what it is. Again Warhead and I have been involved in underground metal for a long time and that is where are roots are.
‘Hymns to the Countess’, as well as the ultra-rare Issue Zero of Forbidden Magazine, each feature cover songs from Immolith: ‘Countess Bathory’ (Venom) and ‘Raise the Dead’ (Bathory),respectively. Why did you choose to record these songs particularly?
Those two bands, Venom and Bathory in my honest opinion started what we know as black metal. It is our way to pay respect to the bands that inspired so many guys to play black metal. If it weren’t for those early albums by those two bands I wouldn’t be who I am today as a person or musician.
You formed your own record company, Carrion Crawler Records, with the intention to only release Immolith material, correct? Is that still your plan…no other artists to be signed under your banner? Why?
Yes, it was founded initially to have my music released and pressed. I was and am still doing everything out of my own pocket. I have to keep it this way, as I am limited to my own personal budget, and just can’t afford to take on other bands. I have decided recently to add one other band to the Carrion Crawler roster. I am going to release the New Jersey based black metal band Dead Mountain. Khold Demon, the main force behind Dead Mountain is a comrade of the old school New Jersey Black Metal scene, and has my total support. He is not expecting much money or anything from me as far as the label goes, and so we’ve agreed to do a release together. It will be a full length Dead Mountain CD limited to 100 copies with artwork that again will be provided by Gragoth of Luciferium.
How has your relationship with Infernus’ (Gorgoroth) label Forces of Satan Records been going? I understand that is a digital only label?
It is pretty much come to nothing. We’ve had the material on there for about a year, and haven’t seen much come from it at all. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think many have actually downloaded the music from the site. So it’s not like Infernus and the label are keeping anything from us. If nothing else, I can say this. We were one of the first bands added to that label as a digital release, and Vile sought us out and contacted us first. So in that aspect, it still seems like a stepping-stone for the band. And an honor to know they liked what they heard from us early in our career to add us there. And as Vile told me in one of our discussions some months ago about the lack of sales, he said, “If nothing else it is free advertising.”
Do you have mixed feeling about the union of mp3 and BM? Many feel it has only contaminated the genre…your thoughts?
It makes no sense to me. Even if you only press and release your material on vinyl or cassette, it only takes one guy to convert it and post it to his kvlt black metal blog and your material is MP3 and out there for free anyway. So why fight it? Vinyl to me does hold a great purity for music, and especially black metal. Personally, I do buy and collect a lot of black metal on vinyl still. I would love to see Immolith only released on vinyl. But I can’t afford to that. So if I can get the band’s music out there and heard to more black metal fans worldwide by making it digitally available, why not? It’s going to be out there anyway, so why not try to push it ourselves?
What are some of your influences? Venom, Bathory, of course…musically, lyrically, spiritually?
I love all the old underground metal of the 80’s and early 90’s…. Kreator, Sodom, Slayer, Death, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Dissection, Immortal, Darkthrone, Emperor, Mayhem. I basically grew up with extreme metal as it evolved during that period, so I went right along with it… Metal, Thrash, Death, and finally Black Metal. Lyrically I write mostly about the typical metal clichés, occultism, evil, Satan, history, etc.
We’ve added Prolixus on guitar, mainly just to fatten up our sound live. We started as a studio only band. But when shows started to be offered we knew to sound as mighty as we wanted to come across live we needed a second guitar player to do that. And we changed bass players, replacing Ahazu with my old friend Damien from Coffin on bass. With Ahazu it was mostly a switch to get Damien involved. Ahazu has been working on his own project Malcanthet, and Damien was available. Ahazu actually still fills in for us on bass for rehearsals and live shows when Damien isn’t available.
What is the songwriting process like? Are you responsible for the majority of the work or is it a group effort?
I’m still writing everything, music and lyrics, myself in my home studio. When I’ve got them down to where I am content with the material, I present the songs to the rest of the band. Obviously Warhead winds up writing his own drum parts despite what I lay down using drum software when I’m writing the songs. Prolixus has been adding some additional guitar parts here and there in some of the new stuff, layering some things over the basic song structures I come up with. He is an amazing guitar player, and likes some much more technical things as far as his musical influences go. But he understands my vision of what Immolith should be and is content to not try and alter what I write beyond what I feel is appropriate for the band. So while the newer members may have some input it has to be approved by Warhead and me.
There is some talk of a 7” release this year, along with work form maniacal artist Chris Moyen. What is the status?
There will be an Immolith vinyl release next year in 2011. We’ve come to agreement with our friend KK Warmetal and his label Diabolist Services Cult. He will be putting out not a 7” but rather a 10” for us on his label. Chris Moyen will not be doing the cover now that DSC is releasing it rather then my own label. KK is a great photographer and competent graphic artist in his own right, so I’m sure any release he puts together for us will be with a cover of his design. I am hoping however to still work with Chris Moyen on a shirt design now though, to coincide with a new track on our Storm Dragon titled “The Obsidian Throne of Azazel.”
When can fans expect ‘Storm Dragon’? What will the release format be? CD, Tape, Wax?
I’m actually looking to work with Mike Riddick of Metal Maniacs and his label Metalhit.Com on the release of Storm Dragon. He offers an impressive solution for DIY artists like Immolith. He can basically provide big label support and distribution for a fraction of the cost. As far as what to expect from Storm Dragon, all I can hope is that people will find it a strong, fast, tight and evil US black metal album in the best sense of all those words.
What are you final words?
Thanks again for the chance to spread the word about Immolith, and best of luck to you on all your endeavors. Hail Takhisis!