Spawned from the smoldering abyss of San Jose, California in 2004, Haeresiarchs of Dis is a USBM project comprised of a sole member, Cernunnos. Deep within the California woods, the Haeresiarchs sound is ultimately forged into the shape of a misanthropic, anti-Christian monstrosity which, while maintaining a largely black metal stance, also contains new kinds of poison in its arsenal. Forbidden Magazine recently touched base with Cernunnos on topics such as the new record, the state of black metal, San Jose’s music scene and more.
First off, Denuntiatus Cinis is a beautiful record! How was the recording process this time around?
I have my own recording process and studio that I use now. The previous Overture release was recorded at various locations on different devices, so this time around I wanted to keep everything under one roof. Technology in the audio field keeps improving and I am always interested in taking full advantage of it. The actual process was smoother this time around, with more attention paid to constructing the album as a whole.
For the most part, the record maintains a sound along a black metal path, yet songs like “Bemoan the Fallen” stray from that a bit, adding a huge contrast while still fitting in with the big picture. Where did the inspiration for the approach of that song come from?
The inspiration comes from other bands I have listened to as well as mythology. Black metal by its very definition is experimental, so I felt the inclusion of this track would only enrich the listener’s experience. Writing everything with blast beats and overbearing guitars was never something I intended. Leaving room for creative interludes where I can explore related areas was always of paramount.
As the project has involved other members in the past, but currently consists of you as the sole member, could you describe the differences in the way things function with a group compared to doing things alone?
Hæresiarchs of Dis has always been primarily a solo endeavor. I have had contributors on Overture and a few on the new release, but the songs, recording and production have always been my effort. It works better for me that way, and fits the goals I need to accomplish with the project. Bands I have been with in the past, tension was a common thing among members, and sometimes clashing egos. In a solo effort, I am more productive and able to see my vision through without relying on others. That is why I began Hæresiarchs of Dis.
How would you describe your writing process in general?
It depends on the release and song. Overture and the DIS releases were written more slowly and methodically over longer periods of time, whereas Denuntiatus Cinis was written and recorded all in one go. For the metal tracks, it usually starts with guitar riffs, but on occasions I will construct a drum idea first. The interlude pieces begin with ideas and layering of synths. Lyrics come before or after, but are never written specifically for any one piece or riff.
What first drew you into the realm of black metal, or heavy/extreme music in general?
Extremes in expression I have always gravitated towards whether film, literature, or art. With music it was the emotional power of composers like Wagner and Janáček, and then later bands like Mercyful Fate and Celtic Frost who introduced me to a greater extreme of emotional output. The second wave of black metal was where I found later interest and inspiration.
What words would you use to describe the Haeresiarchs of Dis experience?
Hæresiarchs of Dis is black metal. There is anger and intensity coupled with complexity. I do not think it is for quick listening, or simple contemplation. Beyond that I believe each person has their own personal take on things, and therefore a unique experience when listening to it.
For those new to Haeresiarchs of Dis, could you describe the project’s beginnings?
When I first started playing guitar I churned out a couple metal riffs (greatly inspired by Celtic Frost) under a band named Enslaver. Essentially it was just a drum machine and I, eventually abandoned for other projects. Later in the 90’s, I began creating what would later be Hæresiarchs of Dis. At first, it was more of a performance piece consisting of audio with visual stimuli, but eventually became more of a metal project evolving into what was released on Overture.
How has your environment in California, and everyday life for that matter, found their way into the Haeresiarchs sound and subject matter?
I do not think it has. Hæresiarchs of Dis is an escape from the tedium of world affairs. It is also in direct retaliation to the music scene here and all those in it I grew up with. I grew up around punks, butt rockers, and goths, and none of them have anything to do with this music. Hæresiarchs of Dis is the opposite of my life experiences. It is my own, and it is uniquely separate from San Jose, California.
What is the concept behind the name?
The name was originally just Dis, but as the band evolved I updated it. I felt as the band grew into something more complex and thoughtful I wanted a name that better reflected this. In general it was derived from the walled city of Dis in Dante’s Inferno which was a great inspiration on my earlier writing.
How did the alliance with Moribund Records take formation?
Moribund was one of the first labels to distribute Overture in 2008, so when the new album was finished I contacted them first. I consider Moribund to be the ideal label for this genre of music and it feels very appropriate for my material to be carried by them.
Do you have any plans for live performance?
I do not have any plans to perform live, nor am I interested at this time.
There is much in music that inspires me, not all of it metal. I have mentioned a few composers, and there are a lot of seventies bands I like. When it comes to metal, I listen to so much that my favorites tend to change each month. People hear different stuff in my music. Someone says Emperor and another mentions Deathspell Omega, and someone else quotes Limbonic Art, to name just a few. They are all right and they are all wrong. There is no single band that is responsible for inspiring all songs.
Some people tend to want to separate the world of U.S. black metal from that of its European counterparts and/or predecessors, such as the exclusion of corpse paint and so on. What are your thoughts on the two and how they compare?
I despise the comparisons. Black metal is black metal. It is all over the world and undertaken by different cultures not limited to geography. I do not know what the comparison is because I do not care. I am not a part of any scene or movement; I just make this music because I need to. The corpse paint is an extension of the music for me. It helps me separate the darker aspect of my self from the outer appearance.
How do you feel about the overall metamorphosis of black metal over the years?
Again, I do not really have an opinion, because ultimately I do not care where it goes or how it is received. I do this music because it is something I always wanted and needed to do. Only more recently has it come to pass because technology has opened the way.
What does the future hold for Haeresiarchs of Dis? Are you involved with any other endeavors?
I do not have any other projects besides Hæresiarchs of Dis. I do not need any others because I do everything I need to do within Hæresiarchs of Dis. I am currently working on two new releases for Hæresiarchs of Dis. In Obsecration of the Seven Darks should arrive in spring through Moribund Cult, and another I have just begun recently. I do not have a title for the latter at this time.
Any last words for the masses?
None at this time.