Few names conjure as foreboding an apparition as Sargeist. Releasing their first demo in 1999 and with the release of their classic debut full-length, 2003′s ‘Satanic Black Devotion’, this Finnish cult made their presence felt early on with the sheer power and nobility of their rituals. Including members of Behexen, Horna and several other underground cults, Sargeist have returned to steal a new legion of souls with their first full length in 5 years, Let the Devil In on Moribund Records. Read on, as founding member Shatraug sheds some light on this black offering…
Let the Devil In is Sargeist’s first full length since 2005′s Discipline…tell us about the ten tracks that make this dark ritual complete! Was there a vision you beheld or a direct goal you had in mind when working on Let the Devil In?
Hails! The initial idea since we published “Disciples of the Heinous Path” was to overcome the expectations built up in the minds of all the worshippers, to create an album leaving previous works in it’s shadow. That, and allowing time to bring perfect inspiration.
The material seems to drive in a certain direction on Let the Devil In…The album seems to be as intelligent as it is aggressive while making good use of arrangements, song progression and harmony. Is Let the Devil In a new chapter in the book of Sargeist?
A new chapter in a way, yes, but one that came naturally. We didn’t want to rush things and do another album just like the previous ones, yet still wanted to keep it recognizable. During 5 years we’ve had a lot of growth both personally and musically so “Let the Devil in” is a direct result of what I’d say is Sargeist at it’s most mature to date. Archaic Black Metal to praise the Lord of Shadows.
The production quality lends itself to the performance well, clean without being completely polished or sterile…tell us about the recording process! Was it long arduous or more of a live ritual captured in the studio?
Believe it or not, the recording has a lot more to it than you can recognize at first. We didn’t want the sound to be too underground or too produced and I think we found our sound. The album actually has 4 guitars at all times, sort of a stereo recording instead of taking the easy way out and our new bassist was given free hands to do whatever he wanted. Certainly it has become the milestone on our heinous path.
There was also a recent 7” split release featuring Sargeist and Drowning the Light, featuring the song “Crimson Wine”…how does this song compare to the material on Let the Devil In? Tell us about this dark release…
“Crimson Wine” is an old song back from the time when we recorded “The Dark Embrace” EP and was left over until the idea to publish this split EP came reality. I have not actually even seen the split EP anywhere or received any copies so don’t know much more yet…
With Sargeist’s blood mingled with Horna, Behexen and other cults of black metal legend, how does a song take form under this particular banner? What is the process like? What inspires a Sargeist song versus Horna or Behexen?
It’s all up to the feeling of the songs, the magick bound into the notes and atmosphere evoked through the song. There is no special process or choice that I would be making a song for this band now, and next one for the other one, all it takes is a certain mindscape and allowing it to manifest.
The Sargeist line-up has stayed consistent for many years now where as so many extreme bands are not so fortunate. How has the circle remained unbroken for so long? Does your involvement in other groups make each one easier to be creative with?
Every band I’ve been in and am I member of has changes when a member no longer feels he can give everything he’s got into it. When that happens, there is no reason to continue poisoning everyone else in the line-up with bad motivation or lacking performance live. Sargeist has been and is something all of us relate to. Involvement with other bands keeps musical skills sharp, the rest is just for the brain and soul to remain sharp as well, through different means, be it magical, religious or plain simple mundane life.
On creativity: We have seen the internet run wild with bold claims by many new ‘cold’, ‘grim’ and ‘evil’ bands; so many of which only dilute the blood of Black Metal. How has Sargeist stayed fresh, inspired and creatively sharp to not only create a new album like Let the Devil In, but also write and record for other groups?
With a whole lot of heart and blood put into it. Inspiration can not be forced to take place, either it happens or not, but for sure the ability to realize one’s visions and put them into notes and under pen help a lot. What I think too many bands lack nowadays is spiritual dedication to the darkness, it’s not just music which makes it Black Metal.
Sargeist’s relationship with Moribund Records, as well as many other respectable artists, begun early on and has remained intact since. Do you feel that many other ‘underground’ labels are merely greedy bastards, not worthy of the dark art they claim to support?
Moribund Records has given us full support ever since we made the pact and I have not seen anything less. They are certainly one of the most honorable labels in my opinion and we have seen no reason to sign up with anyone else. Many labels seem to be after release after another without focusing on actual quality or longevity of a band, instead choosing the decent choice to serve the needs of the current on-going trend, whatever that may be at the time.
Sargiest has shared releases with some of the finest extreme artists in the world, from Merrimack to Bahimiron…do you seek out artists to work with or do you they find you? How do you know when the allegiance is meant to be? I would bet you tell a lot of people to fuck off?
Certainly, a lot of bands keep asking about doing split releases but it takes mutual respect. Some splits have been a thing of a certain time, but each served their purpose when released. For now we are not even planning to consider more splits, just see time takes us.
With such a rich history, Satanism, has as many faces as one can imagine. Tell us, from where do you draw inspiration and, if the Devil is let in, what corporeal form does He take? Impossible and chaotic or seductive and irresistible?
Satan is the all-destroying, all-creating force of both life and death, leading to illumination through a spiritual engagement and cultivation. Inspiration to create does not need anything out of the ordinary and in fact it could be something as simple as hearing one word at the right time, reading something fascinating, seeing anything that stirs emotion. To me inspiration is all about carving my soul one way or the other.
Let us speak of the album once more…Song titles have always held my fascination. Songs like “A Spell to Awaken the Temple” and especially “Twilight Breath of Satan” create such fantastic images without ever hearing the music. Does a song title come before lyrics/before music/etc.? What meaning do these titles, which give a listener the first impression, mean to you?
With Sargeist songs have always come first and titles for the songs last, lyrics somewhere in between. A title of a song is for a reason it’s “title”, something to give the listener a vision of what to expect from within the song.
Tell us why you chose Let the Devil In to be the title track of the new album? Obviously, the song’s anthemic and tempting qualities may have had something to do with this but what other reasons are there?
The main reason was to use a title which best suited the whole work at hand. In my opinion “Let the Devil in” is not the best song of the album itself, but as a whole it speaks volumes, and instead of being something rather mystical or clandestine, we wanted the album title to have a punch this time.
What live performance plans are there in the future for Sargeist? Do you feel that the live show is more a correct setting for your music compared to the recorded version?
Sargeist live rituals are (un)natural appendix of the music captured in audio format. Sargeist live is an experience both haunting and trance-inducing, definitely not your typical headbanger’s experience. The next ritual will be at Nidrosian Black Mass, Trondheim, Norway in November this year.
Has Sargeist considered releasing a DVD of past live performances for their Legion of Disciples?
Not at the moment, no. We have not even recorded any live shows, with the exception of the latest festival show in the Netherlands, but what becomes of it remains to be seen.
What is next for Sargeist? What are the immediate plans for the future?
Just waiting for the album to come out, Nidrosian Black Mass and we’ll see then. We definitely have no rush to go anywhere… just praise the Lord!
Last words? Thanks for your time!!!
Hails and thanks for the interview. Be sure you too will let the Devil in!