This is not music, this is ritual!
On 13 January 2017, W.T.C. Productions released Norwegian trio Shaarimoth’s long-awaited second album, Temple of the Adversarial Fire. Stripping down their aesthetic to its barest essentials and then rebuilding them into an incendiary, black-smoke-billowing monolith of blackened death metal majesty, the album is pure death metal suffused with the blackest of blood. Formed in 2004 with its origins traced back to 1998, Shaarimoth emerged from the then-barren Norwegian death metal underground, their debut album Current 11 was released in 2005 via Carnal Records. Dealing primarily with Chao-Gnosticism as approached through the prism of ancient Sumerian tradition, it became an underground cult. Withdrawing from the public eye for many years, the band is returned and reborn. Here, R. talks with MR’s Jason Guest about the band, its absence and return, their inspirations and myths in the laws of man…
Thank you very much for taking time out for this interview and congratulations on Temple of the Adversarial Fire. The band’s first release since your 2005 debut, Current 11, Why so long between releases?
This period of dormancy can be credited to a few reasons. One being that just before the release of our debut album Current 11 our previous drummer decided to pursue other interest and leave the band. Up until that point, M, F and I, had always served as a trinity, complementing each other in a creative core; only occasionally allowing for other individuals to step in. When M decided to pursue other musical directions, F and I tried to put together a new line up, but it just never felt quite right with those we knew back then. The release of the debut album also occurred at a time in our lives when we realized we had a few other priorities and paths we needed to pursue, which came at the expense of our musical passion.
Nevertheless, F and I always knew that there was more to be created under the Shaarimoth banner, and from time to time we got together and wrote new music. 3 years ago we decided that it was about time to realize the ideas that had been building up for almost a decade, and a concrete goal to aim for was finally set. The spark was once again lit, and the creative flame was burning stronger than ever. We started by recording one song, mainly to try out the studio before booking it for the entire album, and also to try to land a deal with a label. M joined us in recording this song and it resulted in one track, HVHY-Formulas of Un-Becoming. The song quickly got attention online. We were then really pleased that J from the well-known Gehenna wanted to join us as a new permanent drummer, and so our journey to finish record our second album Temple of the Adversarial Fire began.
What kind of progression does Temple of the Adversarial Fire mark for the band since Current 11?
I would say that Temple of the Adversarial Fire is more mature compared to Current 11, more complex, rich and even more complete. It has been more than a decade since last time we released an album, and the way we have evolved is reflected within the music.
We did not see any points in doing the same album twice, and this time we wanted to explore new and unknown territories. Stagnation was never an option and we did not want to get caught up in old patterns and thus killing the creativity that once again blossomed within, but rather let the energy we had tapped into find its outlet and let the free will reach its full potential.
For you, how does the band differ on the two albums?
Where Current 11 was a very aggressive album, Temple of the Adversarial Fire is delving deeper into a wider range of emotions. It still holds the aggressiveness of Current 11 were those elements is needed, but I would say that it is indeed the darkest album we have done so far in all of its aspects. Current 11 had a more “eastern/oriental” sound to it, while this time we did not want to restrict ourselves in any way, but rather flow with what came most natural to us at that point.
Temple of the Adversarial Fire is what Shaarimoth has become, the transformation of a beast that has been building up and is now bursting into fire.
Within the band the dynamic once again feels like it should. The circle is completed and the hunger is once again there.
Current 11 dealt primarily with Chao-Gnosticism as approached through the prism of ancient Sumerian tradition. How did this inform the writing and the music on that album?
The oriental guitar-riffs on Current 11 played a big part in creating the atmosphere that formed a perfect synthesis between the music and the lyrics for that album. The ethnic instruments and samples used on Current 11 were not created before we were in the studio, but we had decided up front that we wanted to create a couple of ambient/ritual tracks for the written invocations, and the result came quite naturally. We took advantage of certain tools to create a more ritualistic and oriental sound in order to tie the songs even better together; to make them fit to the concept of the album and create a product that sounded more complete and elaborate.
Is it the same source of inspiration for Temple of the Adversarial Fire? If so, how did it inform the writing and recording of the album?
Temple of Adversarial Fire and Current 11 both have origins from the same primordial darkness. Even though we had a different approach to the new album, the source of inspiration is still the same. One can use different myths trying to explain the one and same thing, but behind all these mythical systems there is a red thread that has been carried out through the centuries, and which leads back to the same origin. Even though the forms might have changed over the years, the essence dwelling behind them is still the same, and so is the essence within our music.
What drew you to this source?
I chose to follow the voiceless call deep within myself. For me it was about an attraction and fascination of the dark unknown. It is something grander and more complex than words can explain, and I can’t limit it by further defining it.
Did you have an idea of how you wanted Temple of the Adversarial Fire to sound, or did each of the tracks and the whole thing take shape as it was being developed?
We wanted to create an atmosphere that was as dark as possible, after all that is the main source of this art form, and its true destructive nature. It was not something we tried to force; we simply opened up our hearts and moulded our visions, doing what felt natural for us to do.
How long were you working on the material for Temple of the Adversarial Fire? And what changes did it go through during that time?
Some of the material was done sporadically during our state of hibernation, but I would say that most of the songs were completed during the year prior to entering the studio. Therefore some of the material on the album is twelve years old, other is more recent. We rearranged most of the music a countless amount of times; dissecting each song and then building it back up, shaping it to the way we wanted. We did not compromise in any way, and to get the right atmosphere that we wanted, we left out all the material that felt unnecessary or out of order.
Can you tell us about the artwork, what it represents and how it relates to the music?
We are proud of the results provided by the artists we have collaborated with on this album. The art compliments well with the lyrical content: just as complex and dark as our music. Some of the interpretations are more recognizable than others, so I think it is best to leave it up to the eye of the beholder to interpret it.
Who is the artist? And why choose to work with him/her?
We worked with two artists on this album, who both delivered stellar work. Three of the designs (including the front and back-cover) were made by Artem Grigoryev of Black Typography, a brilliant artist that deserves a lot of attention. We chose to work with him, because we believe that his work is unique compared to a lot of what we see out there. The rest of the designs and layouts were handled by Cold Poison, who also delivered an enormous amount of great work for this release. We have worked with Cold Poison for other things in the past, and know that he delivers quality work.
How much direction was given in its design?
We swapped a lot of ideas back and forth during the process. Both artists received the lyrics so that they could find inspiration and have a foundation to base their designs upon.
However artistic freedom was given and they were both able to interpret the lyrics with their unique touch.
How did you come to be involved with World Terror Committee? And why did you choose to work with them for the release of your material?
When we were recording the album, World Terror Committee was one of the labels we hoped to be able to work with. WTC has a very good reputation, and are known for supporting their artists. A mutual acquaintance forwarded some of the recorded material from The Temple of Adversarial Fire to Sven, the label manager of WTC. It didn’t take long before a deal was struck, and we could not be more pleased. We have a lot of respect for the way that WTC operates, and especially the passion that Sven shows towards this art form, and we look forward to seeing where this collaboration will take us.
I see from your website and Facebook page that you are advertising for a bassist and rhythm guitarist for your upcoming live rituals. Where will you be playing? And will you be hitting the UK?
We have no concrete plans for the moment, as we need to complete the line-up before starting to book anything. But, we are currently working on finalizing our live performance plans and we are eager to share our vision wherever our path will take us.
What would be the ideal setting for a performance of Temple of the Adversarial Fire?
I do not waste a lot of energy building thoughts and ideas up on pedestals and glorify them within the shallow grave of the mind.
Music as a tool has the power to transform, not just ourselves, but also our audiences. Being able to witness this transformation where certain energies are allowed to flow freely and being liberated, creating reactions, and breaking through the rules of conditioning by acts of devotion, that would be a satisfying reward in itself and thus all that is needed.
Music is a very powerful medium for conveying messages, secular and spiritual. Do you think that music is itself imbued with a power to manifest the spiritual aspects of existence as represented in your material?
I do agree that music is a very powerful medium for conveying messages. For me music is a ritual congress and a point of communication with my Gods. It allows me to pay tribute to them, and at the same time act as their voice of truth. It is a devotional expression through sound, and holds the powers to manifest energies by the means of music. This is not music, this is ritual!
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 conceal, seek to destroy or have yet to discover?
I believe that there is just as much truth to be found in the eastern belief systems as there are in the western ones. Myths are man-made stories and metaphors that have been interpreted both direct and in a deeper philosophical way over the centuries by various cults and religious followers. There are endless ways to explain the same doctrines and occult systems, and only through gnosis can one find the truth. I also believe that it is important to explore not only one tradition, because each tradition unveils different aspects of the same powers and comparing different interpretations can lead you closer to the truth.
Myths have been used over the aeons to set laws for man (both moral values and actual laws), dictating the society, binding it to the creation and limiting ones thinking and rights. But for me it is more about acting according to the free will, breaking the taboos, creating my own laws to act upon and therefore becoming the opposition to what the casual, stagnating cosmos represents. It is about following the law that leads to the freedom of the Self, not submitting to the laws of “god” or man, but to strive towards total perfection, destroying the shackles of the false light and transcending from the prison of cosmic illusion.
Early days I know as Temple of the Adversarial Fire is just about to be released, but what does the future hold for Shaarimoth? Is there more music in the works?
Nobody knows what the future holds, what crossroads that lays ahead and where those roads will take us. But we feel that with Temple of the Adversarial Fire we are standing in front of the biggest crossing for us as a band so far.
There are some ideas for future releases, but at this stage it is too early to reveal anything.
Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?
Thank you for the support.