Interview with Cain Letifer (guitar and vocals) of Acrimonious

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Acrimonious - logo

Interview by Jason Guest

Jason: Hi Cain. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Sunyata is an incredible album (Ed: Jason’s review is here). Acrimonious have been in existence since 2003. How has the band developed since its inception?

Cain: To my eyes there has been nothing more than that: development, in every sense and every way really. We formed the band to pay tribute to the bestial and extreme scene of the 80’s and the 90’s, yet this quickly changed into something totally different, especially after the conception of the 7 inch EP, Broken Bonds of Balance (Nuclear Winter Records). I am the only remaining founding member, the other two guys that we formed the band with left around the recordings of Purulence.  With the release of Sunyata, the band has for the first time in its 11 years of existence a stable line up, which makes me very happy as we will be able to perform live. As well, the persons involved are all totally dedicated and most importantly, we share common views on reality and how music should be.

Jason: How did you come to be involved with Agonia Records? And why did you choose to work with them for the release of your material?

Cain: Agonia, being a professional label, in many ways was a very good label for us to release the successor of Purulence. Moreover we granted Agonia the authority to release the vinyl version of the first full length Purulence, which they did, and it looks great!

Jason: Sunyata is the band’s second full-length. Does it mark a progression for the band since Purulence?

Cain: With Sunyata we worked for the first time as a unit; the other guys stepped into the band and helped vitally in the recording process, especially Semjaza 218 from Thy Darkened Shade added an extra element that was missing. I really dig his bass lines… (Ed: Read Jason’s interview with Semjaza here)

Jason: How were the tracks for Sunyata composed? Did you collaborate on each track or do you work individually and bring them together? Did you discuss ideas about what you want each track to do or is it an evolutionary process?

Cain: I wrote down all music, presented it to the other guys, and later on Semjaza 218 conceived and recorded the bass guitars and he furthermore helped with lead guitars, for some parts. Furthermore, half of the vocal lines were done by Acherontas V.P.9- being for a short period of time the co-vocalist of the band, together with myself. There is a new singer now called ar-Ra’ad al-Iblis from Sweden, who is a long-time friend, and one dedicated-to-the-core guy… That’s the process I guess, and that’s how we will work in the future for sure… We will certainly experiment more in the future, as in the past we never actually rehearsed often or at all, at times…

Jason: The titles and lyrics on Sunyata make reference to eastern philosophies and ancient mythologies. Can you tell us about these concepts and what it was that drew you to them?

By artist Vamperess Imperium, taken from a larger project pertaining to the mysteries of the black earth, Taken from "Sunyata" Lp Booklet
By artist Vamperess Imperium, taken from a larger project pertaining to the mysteries of the black earth
From the Sunyata LP booklet

Cain: Sunyata is dedicated primarily to Goddess Hecate, being the ancient Greek Goddess of Magic, yet expressed via a multitude of Powerful Avatars and by many an Alchemical process according to lore, tradition, lineage and social conditions. There are hints of Eastern Philosophy, especially in the song “The Sloughed Scales of Seperation” which hints to Sufism and Gnosticism. The Idea of the Mythos that you are referring to, is a Causal model, translated and interpreted in a certain manner by the collective unconscious for banishing external (to the Self) Ideas, that are linked to Extra Terrestial Power.

As the information of pre-human or proto-human perception being unable to be properly filtered and censored by the Word-Logos in a linear way (as civilization implies an a priori brutal cutting off of the bestiary and the ‘evil’ that endangers and threatens the species). So the Mythos, by means of magical Will and Vision, can act as a passage to the Atavistic. Speaking of which, it’s inherent Chaos lacks ‘structure’ in the intellect of the civilized rational modern European mammal. In many a Way- and that is a bit ridiculous now that I think of it, it is difficult (if not impossible) for modern man to have a grasp of the concept of Sunyata. Not due to brain damage, but because a necessary shift in perception is required. But this is something that concerns as not at all, also…

Jason: You describe yourself as “Typhonian black metal”. Can you tell us about what this means? And how does this concept/philosophy manifest itself in your music?

Cain: It is derived from the Word Typhon, meaning Dragon. The lyrics of the band are based on Drakonian Alchemy so we utilise formulas that stem from Tradition and weave our music around that…

Jason: There’s a constant desire to explore belief systems or systems of symbolic representation that are very different to the dominant religions of the west. Do you think they hold a significance, a truth perhaps, that more established religions maybe hide or have yet to discover?

Cain: Most Religions are but an exoteric gross interpretation of an entirely mystical and hidden self transforming Structure. Religions are useful to console the weak and in order to manipulate the masses that search for easy answers. The Western Aeon of the Nazarene, if that is to what you are referring to (which by the way is also a system of symbolic representation of the solar mysteries of Mithras and Osiris among others), is gradually being put to an end, and will be replaced by a new model of meta-civilization that is already being glimpsed by luminaries around the Globe.

Jason: Do you think that music, something intangible and abstract, is itself imbued with a power to provide an avenue into the unknown aspects of existence?

Cain: An approximative apprehension of a nonlinear (acausal) model via vibration and sound. That is, passing images and impressions via Time to the World of Appearance.

Acrimonious – Sunyata
Sunyata – Artwork by Kyle Fite

Jason: The artwork for Sunyata is very intriguing. Instead of the standard monochrome or bleak depictions that usually grace the covers of many a black metal album, Sunyata is very colourful. Can you tell us about the artwork for the album, why you chose this approach, and what it represents?

Cain: Thanks. Kyle Fite himself chose colour. We have nothing against colour. I know it might seem weird to the random listener or journalist who receives tons of reviewing material and is accustomed to certain traditional styles (Darkthrone b/w covers to appease the ‘fans’). As it is written in Liber Al vel Legis: My Colour is Black to the Blind, but Blue and Gold are Seen of the Seeing.

Jason: Who is the artist? And how much direction did you give him/her in its creation?

Cain: The Artist is called Kyle Fite, and we left him total freedom of expression. We only gave him the lyrics as a guide and no more… We are very proud of the final result! Vamperess Imperium also did a fantastic job for the layout and she also created original art for the album.

Jason: What’s your opinion of the internet and its impact on the music scene? Do you think that because of the ease of making music available, the internet has affected the quality of music?

Cain: I am not one to damn a thing, because most people don’t know how to use a thing properly. Most certainly, we are strangers to the new ‘easy-access to everything’ mentality, but I personally have benefited much from finding music I could not have found else for example… Stealing music is not an issue for me, as I am not playing music for money, but certainly I can see an impact on record labels and record stores! No, the internet has certainly not affected the quality of music! There is tons of great contemporary music out there in my opinion.

Jason: Because of music being readily available in digital formats, what’s your opinion of the digital era? Has the ritualistic aspect been lost in the digital era?

Cain: A thing cannot be lost because technology evolves. Let us not whine about the consequences of change, as I guess my/your LPs are still there in your library… If you are missing old times, that’s a different thing all together. What is lost is not the ritualistic aspect, you cannot dismiss or lose that… Maybe the nostalgia of a certain state of the Self in the past, and the discontinuity of a conscious past State of Being, compared with reality as it is NOW is maybe the problem in question…I can agree on that to a certain extent… We are not following trends, mass opinions and whatnot, real creation is real to the Self and that is what matters, regardless if you live in the 16th century playing violin, or in the 21st playing with a midi keyboard, creation stems from the Self and is supposed to counteract to all notions of mimicry (to a certain extent at least).

Jason: Because of the internet, the underground appears to be less underground as it’s now easily accessible. Is it the modern version of tape-trading?

Cain: It is my personal taste to avoid the coziness of modern spirit because it has nothing more to offer me that an LP with an insert does… What is lost and will never be retraced is the exclusive feeling of being unique when you were waiting for a month to get an LP from a distro in south America (if you did in the end!). It was exclusive, it was special and it is now gone. Yet, at the same time this “exclusive feeling” is just another flaw of the consciousness that prefers to connect and identify with external objects (which is linked to fetishism) instead of sticking to the Message-musical textual or graphic, it matters not…

Jason: Many argue that black metal has become commercial in the sense that, because anyone can access the music, the true spirit of black metal has become diluted and dulled. Do you agree? And do you think black metal can ever retain the potency it once had?

Cain: Yes. Black Metal has really turned into a bad joke over the years… We play music for our Gods and not for our Fans. Never forget that. Black metal is not for the masses, it is a cruel and uncivilized form of brutal art, which the world should shun, fear, loath and tremble at the mere sight of a cover… At least judging from the average happy, sterile inbred safe man who is the standard black metal fan, we are of the opinion that such persons should stay the fuck out of our music. We are of the few and noble in spirit only.

Cain Letifer of Acrimonious
Cain Letifer (guitar, vocals) – Acrimonious

Jason: Music is a very powerful medium for conveying messages, secular and spiritual. Do you think that music, something intangible and abstract is itself imbued with a power to enact the kind of transformation that Acrimonious and Sunyata represents?

Cain: Most certainly yes!

Jason: What is your opinion on the intellectualisation of black metal? Is black metal something that can – and perhaps should – be rationalised and understood?

Cain: Since we follow the Left Hand Path, one of the aims of such a path, is to mutilate, maim, and kill all sense of Identity of Self via going intellectually backwards to the animalistic hell of A-logos, in order to re-define Self according to a Discipline that is granted via hardship and trials. Alogos is a term that denotes the shunning of original Logos of Man or God in favour of the Beast (which utters no Word). This Beast is symbolized by the back of the Head, which is the seat of the Reptilian Brain, or the Seat of this energy herein discussed. In spiritual terms, the God Shiva needs Shakti in order to fill himself up and feel full and free of the play of duality and illusion…Shiva here could represent the intellect and Shakti the primeval female force that is the primal ocean of chaotic all-potentiality…

Modern man is so eager to understand everything, and moreover without sacrificing anything in return… Black metal is impossible to be rationalized, because its core is mystical, unworldly and wants you (bluntly put) to embrace your Shadow. There is a vast Abyss that opens when all intellectual structures must be sacrificed in order to gain Knowledge and Gnosis. If you don’t want that, if you are afraid, then there are different musical genres for one to feel excited about. Intellectual pride that stems from the ego and the unrealized Self cannot go back to the Temples of Abominable Night because the Time is used in a constructive or positive manner, whereas a negative notion of Time should be embraced by the listener instead, in order to truly feel the vibes and the monstrosity of Black/Death Metal.

Jason: Will Acrimonious be performing live in support of Sunyata? Are you planning any tours or festival appearances? If so, will we be seeing you in the UK?

Cain: Yes we hope to play in the UK soon! Live appearances is something we are looking forward to!

Jason: What does the future hold for Acrimonious? Is there more music in the pipeline?

Cain: Most certainly. First starting with a split with our Spiritual Brothers of Thy Darkened Shade… But that should take a while…

Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Any closing words for our readers?

Cain: Thanks for your time as well Jason! Agios o Vindex!

 

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