“Integrity is the highest cause.”
Interview by Jason Guest
Jason: Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Peccata Mortalia, a great album (reviewed here) and an excellent follow-up to Krypteia (reviewed here). At the time of the release of Krypteia, you were already working on material for Peccata Mortalia. How much of it was ready at that point? And how did the album develop?
LYKORMAS: Krypteia was released some years ago. It’s hard to recall what happened at that time. The time between the actual recordings and the release took a while back then. Most likely some songs of Peccata Mortalia were already in the pipeline. I can tell you ‘Blasphemaverit in Spiritum Sanctum’ is the oldest song and ‘The Law of the Claw’ the newest song of the record. I dare to say Peccata Mortalia is a logically follow up to Krypteia. The basic Entartung-feeling is still present, though there’s more room for musicianship.
Jason: Did you have an idea of how you wanted the album to sound or did that develop as you were writing for it?
LYKORMAS: No. Most of the songs were partly composed in my head before writing them for real. When playing them, details changed and this evolution led to the actual tracks. I never have a plan ready when composing, though I always take some time to think about the songs. For Vulfolaic and me it’s important to stay focussed on delivering quality. We try to avoid repeating ourselves and that’s why there’s some slow music, fast parts and intermezzos listed on Peccata Moralia.
Jason: Was your approach to the writing the same as it was for the first album, or did your approach change as you were working on it?
LYKORMAS: It was the same. Vulfolaic contributes with few lines, but I take care of most parts. He’s the one in charge for the concept, art and lyrics. I do the music and most of the recordings. It works fine, there’s no need to change it.
Jason: Does Peccata Mortalia mark a progression in any way for the band? Has the creative relationship between the two of you evolved since Krypteia’s release?
VULFOLAIC: We have most definitely progressed since we wrote and released Krypteia. The compositions on our debut album were already fairly audacious, but this time we simply pushed it further. We both keep progressively growing as musicians too, so new doors are opening all the time.
I don’t know whether the creative relationship between Lykormas and myself has changed intrinsically. We both are somewhat headstrong and unyielding, which is known to lead to some tensions and agitation. In the end, however, we always make things work out, aren’t afraid to try out ideas and ultimately choose to direct our energy towards the music instead of pointless discussions.
Jason: ‘Peccata Mortalia’ translates as ‘mortal sins’. Why choose this title? And how does it relate to the album and the music of Entartung?
VULFOLAIC: Choosing an album title always is a big deal. Although there is no general overarching concept, we felt that the lyrical matter we are dealing with would be considered sinful by intellectually challenged religious folk in previous ages – or in all likelihood certain places in our current day and age as well.
Jason: Is there a lyrical or conceptual theme across the album? Where does lyrical inspiration come from?
VULFOLAIC: The sources of lyrical inspiration for Entartung have always been quite diverse; myths and legends, philosophy, history, literature… I have a pretty broad range of interests, so whenever I come across a suitable topic, I take notes. These themes can be just about everything; a disturbing historical event, a thought-provoking philosophical thesis, a long forgotten saga hinting of deeper truths… Later on, Lykormas and I consider the atmosphere, tone and mood of the compositions and match them to an appropriate topic.
Since our sources of inspiration are so varied, there is no real conceptual theme that connects individual lyrics, other than that they deal with topics that lie beyond the superficial and the mundane.
On this album we were, to name just a few, lyrically inspired by Joost van der Vondel’s Lucifer, Plato’s Republic, P.O. Enquist’s Livläkarens Besök, the Epic of Gilgamesh and the nastier aspects of the Abrahamic religions.
Jason: On Krypteia, all of the track titles were in German but that’s not the case with Peccata Mortalia. Why this change?
VULFOLAIC: Both the track titles and lyrics on Krypteia were in German indeed. On Krypteia, it suited us to be somewhat mysterious and cryptic about the lyrics and only print vague hints in order to arouse curiosity and incite people to start looking beyond the obvious.
This time around, we thought it might be interesting to let more people in on the lyrics, not only by having them in English, but also by printing them in the booklet and providing further explanations.
The decision of either not printing the lyrics at all on the previous album or doing it full on this time around, are basically two sides of the same coin. The idea is to get people interested in what lies beyond the superficial impulses we are bombarded with by the mass media. The mind is not challenged by easily digestible rubbish as it is offered to us by the amusement industry. On a musical level, black metal isn’t easily digestible either – the lyrics should mirror that character.
Jason: In our last interview, you said that a third member would be handling the drums for Peccata Mortalia but the two of you are credited on the album. Did you look for drummers? Were any considered?
VULFOLAIC: Indeed, we were indeed considering a few very talented drummers for the recordings of Peccata Mortalia. For a while we were thinking about the idea of expanding the line-up with a keyboard player as well, but we ended up limiting his parts to a few guest contributions, as mentioned in the CD booklet and the LP sleeve.
Only a couple of days ago, I spoke to an extremely capable and respected gentleman about doing the drums on a possible third record. So we might be a three piece on our third album.
Jason: The artwork for Krypteia was an old wood cutting you stumbled upon that you felt had the right atmosphere. Is it the case again for the artwork for Peccata Mortalia? And why did you choose this particular piece for the album?
VULFOLAIC: Yes and no. Lykormas and I came up with the idea of using Dürer woodcuts – which probably is as cliché as it gets when it comes to black metal artwork – but with a nasty twitch on them in order to make things interesting. Besides the actual album covers, there are quite a few illustrations in the CD and LP-versions of our new album; we invite you to compare them with the originals and take note of the details and the subsequent altered message of the woodcuts.
Jason: Both of you are long-time activists in the black metal scene and in our last interview you said that black metal has become a product rather than an artistic form of expression. How do ensure that Entartung avoid becoming a product and retain the essence of black metal?
VULFOLAIC: We carefully avoid turning Entartung in a tool of financial gain. That is the key factor. We often see young bands accidently gaining mainstream success, resulting in the fact that their band becomes their main mean of income. In order to sustain this situation, they either need to keep copying what once made them successful or try to tie in into what is hip and happening at that point in time. Both scenarios are not acceptable to us; we genuinely see Entartung as a form as artistic expression.
Another aspect is to stay clear of social media. Not that we have something against present-day communication tools, but we do not appreciate outside influence and futile interaction when it comes to what we do in Entartung. Life offers too many trivial distractions as it is, so we prefer to stay focussed and not waste time on “updates” to entertain people.
Jason: There are an increasing amount of black metal bands and labels emerging all the time. Is this not testament to the power of black metal as a form of expression?
VULFOLAIC: I’m not entirely convinced that this is a positive thing, to be honest. A lot of people are into the image. Awkward teenagers with a lack of an identity desperately trying to find a place of belonging can easily copy the look and run with the most accessible bands.
I’ve seen it a million times before; teenagers “starting a black metal band” during high school holidays and having promo pictures on their website, Facebook, MySpace and whatnot before they have written a single note of music.
Don’t get me wrong, we welcome fresh, young blood – if they are in it for the right reasons.
The visuals are actually both the strength and weakness of black metal. You won’t see bored youngsters start a jazz or blues band during the summer holidays all that often.
Jason: Artistic expression is clearly more important to you than commercial success. How important is this to music? What does the act of creating music mean to you?
VULFOLAIC: Black metal is a very poor choice of musical genre to try to attain mainstream appreciation, especially the kind we’re performing. We are actually quite egoistic about Entartung: we write the music the way we like it ourselves and really don’t worry about commercial success or the opinion of others, for that matter.
Jason: Are you working on more material for Entartung? If so, do you have plans for your next release?
LYKORMAS: Slowly some ideas are forming inside my head and Vulfolaic presented some excellent guitar lines as well. We do not rush things. At this moment Peccata Mortalia is our main priority. Perhaps we finish a new one next year. Perhaps it takes few years more. Or perhaps it’ll never happen. So take your time to absorb Peccata Mortalia and discover all its details. Today there’s too much of a consumer society. We don’t take part of this way of western decay. Things will happen or they won’t. It’s our choice. Integrity is the highest cause.
Jason: Any plans for live shows? If so, will we be seeing you in the UK?
VULFOLAIC: No, for the time being we have maintained our decision of not playing live. We are fond of the U.K. though – it is more likely that we will set foot on British shores as sightseers rather than touring musicians.
Jason: Again, thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Peccata Mortalia. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
VULFOLAIC: It’s always a pleasure talking to you, Jason. The readers of Midlands Rocks are invited to check out our releases.