Israthoum have been lurking around in some form or other since roughly ’92 and definitely carry their experiences and ways of olde in terms of sound and substance, wiping their shit splattered asses with the faces of the new generation of the phony elitist carcinogens that simply cannot pull it off. This new release, Black Poison and Shared Wounds, is a welcome addition to a style that as of lately has been lacking. Anyway here’s an interview with Arvath, one of the original members of the band.
JW: Thanks for your taking the time to do this, I was really impressed with Black Poison and Shared Wounds and was wondering if you’d like to share your insight into that black slab of sound. What did you want to create with this release, that is what did you want it to be as an experience for both the listener and yourselves?
Arvath: These tracks, created in conformity with the omnipresent Darkness and our own perception of its horrific shapes, just needed – as always – to be expelled and injected into the world as an extreme form of art supportive of and supported by the Satanic doctrine. It is a form of devilish propaganda and an expression of what dwells deep within us.
Listening to the album, the listener should find itself drowning in the same negative and obscure mass that holds us entangled and by which these songs were spawn.
As for the sound itself, it just came naturally while recording and mixing. It’s pretty close to what we had in mind for these songs though.
JW: I agree with many that the whole Satanic and left-hand path thing in metal is worn and now sorely cliché, but most of that is the result of ignorance and a lack of concern or understanding as to what the symbols and ideals behind the images and terms really are. As one of the more responsible and enlightened in those areas, tell me a bit about them from your perspective and how do they relate to Israthoum?
Arvath: Who cares if nowadays it is worn or even cliché? Does your attraction towards the Left Hand Path depend on how many people use Its symbols? We’re talking about something that doesn’t lose power just because a bunch of human beings are creating a hype around it. We are talking about something absolute and unchangeable! So let people do whatever they want. It is irrelevant for our purpose. It just proves how ignorant most people are.
When it comes to bands misusing Black Magic symbols and ideals for their own commercial gain, it is – at least for me – always very easy to separate the chaff from the wheat. It is pretty obvious who is doing a serious job and with the right motives. Those will always end up being recognized for it.
For Israthoum the whole symbolism is obviously extremely important and meaningful. Each symbol is a portal of power. It is an orthodox language used by the malignant tongues that speak through us. Many symbols are even much more expressive and profound than words…
And besides the symbols obviously bare a very high aesthetic value for the artwork in our genre. They are so laden of magic, mystery and evil, even the most ignorant person must feel intimidated by them.
JW: How did you come into being interested and involved in the Satanic Doctrines?
Arvath: The whole imagery and evil, unearthly atmosphere around bands like Beherit, Darkthrone and Impaled Nazarene in their early days just hooked me. I am very thankful for that acquaintance. A new world opened before my eyes. I was immediately drawn towards the theme involved, it was a perfect match. Curiosity became magnetism and magnetism led to devotion.
Nowadays it’s a matter of gaining more knowledge and means to further build upon this allegiance with the Left Hand Path and to further unfold its dark mysteries.
JW: Very cool!!! I always find it interesting in how people get interested in things so I ask especially when it reflects heavily in what they do.
One of my favorite songs is the thrashing bestial anthem “Devil Bacchus”, it’s a bit different than the others on the album, but overall the main things that really set Israthoum and this album apart from the horde are: the continually changing and development of rhythm in each song; the unique vocals that go from usual black metal to this clean “calling” ; the songs are very front heavy, much of black metal is buried and lighter but you guys have some serious muscle in your sound that’s more solid than hazy. How did you guys write,record, and develop the songs on Black Poison… and do you feel about it in comparison to your 2008 full-length Monument of Brimstone.
Arvath: Thanks for the words on Devil Bacchus. I wrote and did most of the vocals for that one myself. Like you said, the song is quite different from the rest of the album but at the same time it just fits perfectly, even from a conceptual point of view.
It is good to hear you cherish the variation in the songs and between them. Many people tend to mention that as a bad thing, but then again, most people are shortsighted and dull, in need of predictability like a bunch of autistic nerds.
But this variety in atmosphere occurs naturally of course. We usually don’t plan in forehand what kind of atmosphere a song will have in the end. We just let the inspiration flow and see how it develops and the shape it gets. Sometimes the final result can be quite surprising actually.
There is not only one way in which we write the songs. To start with, on Black Poison and Shared Wounds, we wrote the material all three of us, and we all have different approaches on how we compose and our way of riffing and structuring differs. Some tracks have been created while rehearsing all together, others have been created solely inside the head of one of us and then shared with the other two, others have been made by completing the riffs from one person with riffs from the other… And then we have the instrument swapping which also broadens the possibilities and thus the variety in the songs. I mean, the songs get a totally different shape depending on who did the bass-lines, the vocals/vocal-lines, etc.
JW: I have to hand it to you, the whole dull and short sided comment is so true and fucking hilarious!!! Your blunt honesty is greatly welcome!!!! You guys have been cranking away in one form or another since the early 90’s, so what got you started and what got you headed in the black metal direction?So… as you might see there is no real red thread throughout the creating process except the lack of one. The only thing we do consequently is to keep working on a track until we are 100% satisfied with it, but without ever forcing the creativity. It all just has to come at its own time. We don’t let any kind of pressure, influence or limitation corrupt our thoughts.
Arvath: I don’t know what got us started. Some eerie fate or destiny that just put everything on place at the right time, and by which we are still here steadily improving our sordid art along the Left Hand Path.
Speaking for myself, as long as I can remember I’ve always been drawn towards the dark
aspects in life, and I suppose this fascination just assertively channeled into the direction of Satanism. There, the fascination rooted and became ideology.
Music wise it was basically a rapid jump from speed & thrash metal around ’91 towards the more extreme sound of Death Metal in ‘92. From there on, an essential conceptual refinement brought me to the then still primordial Black Metal scene. I think ’94 must have been the year that marked my final choice.
JW: I’m a genuine long time fan of the style and over the last few years it’s been picked up by so many aspiring bands/solo acts and really dominates much of what I come across, but about 60-75% of it just leaves me bored. What do you guys, as long time veterans of the style, see as the appeal of black metal to both listeners and bands?
Arvath: I think the appeal of Black Metal is in many cases only the intensity and atmosphere of the music. This is the superficial side, and if this is the only reason why someone adheres to the style it’s a pity. It only gets interesting when also the style’s ideological pillars come into the picture as appealing for a band or individual.
There are many bands that use the Black Metal sonority and many times even the imagery to certify themselves of a certain amount of followers. It’s obvious that mostly such frauds don’t hold on for a long time until their identity is revealed and their shitty band tossed back into oblivion. It’s like those Christian bands freewheeling on the Black Metal sound, the fucking enemy!!, to gain some following. Can you get any more pathetic?? If you need such a measure to gain following than there is obviously something deeply wrong with you to start with. And still sometimes such frauds unfortunately succeed in becoming bigger thanks to misusing the Black Metal scene… But then again, fuck them, who cares…
I think this dark movement – Satanism – is quite tempting for mankind. And it’s obvious. It must be something very powerful for having scared the shit out of people for centuries. It must be very interesting stuff for it to have been such an issue throughout history! It conceals unknown powers, danger, Death… So of course it appeals, it attracts like an almighty drug! And accordingly, joining the Black Metal movement for real is a choice not to be made lightheartedly for it has serious consequences. It means willingly choosing a life of misanthropy in which reality is served in a much more profound and mysterious way than ever before. It is a wanting to play with fire and a willingness to get burnt, it means embracing all that is feared and pledging allegiance to it.
JW: I agree with you on the appeal of black metal being the result of its atmosphere, so aside from this release, how does the near future look for Israthoum? Are you going to continue to punish and deliver your lashings?
Arvath: Of course! We’ll continue to breed our Infernal art as it is a process that never ends. There is a continuous flow of dark energy that will never leave us at peace. This also implies there are no moments of real fulfillment. The only fulfillment is that this process, this search, never ends. Even when an album is finished we are already working on the next one. This direct connection between us and our horrid driving force cursed us with a thirst that cannot be quenched. Accordingly, our next work has pretty much been conceived by now. It won’t be long before we’ll start recording it. It will be quite different from its predecessors in many ways, as usual, but no doubt it will sound 100% Israthoum. Also we should start working on some gigs soon, when the time is right. And of course the vinyl release of Black Poison and Shared Wounds is a high priority at the moment. Maybe through Daemon Worship Productions, maybe through another label, we’ll see…
JW: Well Arvath, I appreciate your time and insight, it’s been great to hear your work and get a chance to go deeper with an interview. With many respects I will now close the interview and ask: Is there anything that you’d like to add in closing?
Arvath: People interested in our material can contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org
“Black Poison and Shared Wounds” is available through DWP or directly through us.
Thank you for the interview and the support. Keep up with the good work!
JW: Thanks Arvath and keep in touch!!!