In Him is Darkness, In Him is Light, Master of the Arts, Angel in Disguise. AMEN!
Made flesh by The Ajna Offensive in USA and Invictus Productions in Europe on 30 April 2016, Head of the Demon’s second album, Sathanas Transmigestos is an eerily beautiful piece of work (read MR’s review here). Just as the 2012 eponymous debut (reviewed here) was spellbinding in its subtly charged atmospherics, captivating rhythms and importunate riffing, so it is for this latest. Here, Konstantin talks with MR’s Jason Guest about the album, the band, Lovecraft and The Left Hand Path, and the question of authenticity of the occult…
Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Sathanas Trismegistos.
Hello! Thanks for the comments on Sathanas Trismegistos.
Your second full length release, what did you want to achieve with this album?
We didn’t set out to achieve anything in particular. Rather we had the same stance as always, namely to let the current that is our essence manifest in as good and spectacular way as possible. Our work is to create the vessel using our skills to maximum in order to contain and concentrate IT. So there isn’t much planning or rationalizing behind it. Just the will and devotion to do the songs and material justice.
According to the promo material, Sathanas Trismegistos is “a logical evolution” to your self-titled debut. Can you expand on this?
It’s not us that have written the promo sheet, but of course confirmed it. I’d say that we have just continued on our chosen path and not changed it. Thus continuing a logical evolution of what we initiated with the debut album.
How have Head of the Demon evolved since the debut album?
In one regard not at all, and in another several. Almost like a dual vibration. The approach to writing and discriminating on the material is just the same. But we are today a full line-up, tightly rehearsed as a unit/band. Which I am certain comes across when playing and recording.
The first album drew largely on Lovecraft for influence. Is this the case for Sathanas Trismegistos or have you expanded the influences to other writers? If so, who and why?
We left Lovecraft and his worlds and mythos for the second album. Which was a choice already made during the first album. That I am solely responsible for since I write the lyrics. The Lovecraftian themes filled the purpose fully for the debut and saturated the entire record. I wanted to do the same with Sathanas Trismegistos but this time leaning on my personal experiences and interpretations of the practice of the Left Hand Path.
Can you tell us about the artwork for Sathanas Trismegistos and how it relates to the music?
The artwork is very old and comes from a Divina Comeda edition. It is an etching I believe. The drummer found it quite some time prior to us recording the album. But whence he showed it to me I knew that would end up as the front cover. It somehow represented everything I wanted the front cover to be, both aesthetically and symbolically.
Can you tell us about what it represents?
It is an illustration that is featured in a Divine Comedy edition. It represents the circles of hell and its centre where the devil resides consuming the worst sinners. There is mystery in this figure that I won’t elaborate on here. But it suits the albums theme exceptionally well.
Who’s the artist?
Artist is Cornelis Galle I (1576–1650).
Can you tell us about the title, Sathanas Trismegistos? Is it a reference to Hermes Trismegistus, the purported author of the Hermetic Corpus, the sacred texts that are the basis of Hermeticism?
It is only a reference indirectly but keeps with the occult tradition. Sathanas Trismegistos, the thrice great Satan, is my take on the force of Lucifer, Satan and the Devil in one guise. Light and darkness as a hermaphrodite figure, kind of. The lyric for the song in particular also illustrates it good. “In Him is Darkness, In Him is Light, Master of the Arts, Angel in Disguise. AMEN!”
What, if anything, are you searching for when making music for Head of the Demon?
There is a thing, or essence, that we aim for. But I have a hard time pinning it down to a word. It is a kind of gut feeling that we follow based on what we aim to achieve with a song. As mentioned before, that is to create a vessel for its manifestation. We usually write the music in pieces or flows, not wholly unlike classical music or soundtracks which adds to the hypnotic feel of it. And we also write the music to be fully instrumental. And whence we add lyrics, if we do, I consider them as an instrument.
The occult and metal have long been synonymous and has seen a rise in popularity of late. Has it become cliché or is the occult, the dark side still relevant?
The occult is a cliché in metal 9 out of 10 times. Just the mere fact that there is a genre called occult rock or occult doom says it all. But it is still relevant for that 1 out of 10 that uses it with ardent devotion. It all boils down to why one uses it. If it is a genuine interest that is reflected, if one likes the symbols and the aesthetics or if one just doesn’t know better. Also, the occult is too often confused with regular “horror”. And legion are the bands that are reason to this.
Though the band is Swedish, you choose to sing in English. Why so? Is it a “universal language” for the occult?
English is a universal language unrelated to the occult of course. I have had thoughts of actually having some vocals in Swedish. But for me personally it feels difficult to pull it off as well as in English.
Heavy metal: art or ritual?
Both! Just as magic is both an art and a science.
Any plans for shows in support of Sathanas Trismegistos? And will we see you in the UK?
Yes! Speaking about the UK, we played at Unconquered Darkness fest in Dublin just less than a month ago. Hopefully we can return to the UK in a very near future. Other than that we will do a gig in September in Stockholm with Cult of Fire and Reveal which is all for now.
What does the future hold for the band? Is there more material in the works?
Well, for now spreading the new album. And hopefully some more shows and more music. We have started playing and trying out some new stuff. But we are also drained from pouring everything of ourselves into the latest album. So even if there are some new ideas, it is far from saying that we have started writing on a follow up album. A clear vision needs to be obtained prior to that.
Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Open yourself up unto the mysteries of Sathanas Trismegistos.