Friday, May 12, 2017

Unholy Baptism Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?

Mantus –

Primarily, we have been focusing on marketing our album and just getting it into as many hands as possible. We have recently partnered with Clawhammer PR and are continually blown away by both their reach and professionalism. Being an underground band – as well as a studio project – there is only a certain amount of people we can reach with the resources we have, so we have been very impressed with how far our music has reached so far.

Outside of garnering attention from the underground, we have already begun the writing process of our next album. While our most recent album, …On the Precipice of the Ancient Abyss was kind of a standalone production. We did still write it in a way that it has a clear story arc, but it wasn’t intended to be part of something larger. Our next album, which will be titled The Bonds of Servitude, is going to be the first volume of what will eventually become a trilogy of albums. We can’t share too much of the concept right now, as it’s still being worked out, but it’s definitely going to be enveloped in the same concept and aesthetic that we’ve built with our first album.
2. In March you had released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?

Moloch –

…On The Precipice of the Ancient Abyss is an aggressive, harsh album in the style of early 2nd wave Black Metal. We chose to also mix in atmospheric and doom elements, which helps give it an overall sound that is dark and mesmerizing. This album marks a distinct shift in complexity from our demo, which is a much more straight forward, garage-style version of Black Metal.
 
3.This is your first release in 7 years, can you tell us a little bit more about what has been going on during that time span?

Moloch –

During this time, the band was undergoing multiple transformations. Both Mantus and I were working on degrees while juggling jobs part time, which absolutely slowed the writing process. We were also updating our sound and trying to find ourselves musically and thematically. Add on top of that the fact that we had to build our own studio and learn the recording/mixing/mastering process from scratch, and we had our hands full!

Mantus –

Definitely. Our first album, which was a self-titled EP we released in a short run, primarily to support our live shows. The recording process was pretty rough for that one, and we were less than pleased with both the recording experience and the finished product. I had decided after that that I wanted to learn how to do at least the tracking process, so I could at least control some aspect of the session, and that eventually branched into mixing and mastering. But, as Moloch mentioned, learning all of that stuff takes time!
 
4.Some of your lyrics go into Theistic Satanism and Occultism, can you tell us a little bit more about what the Dark Arts means to you?

Moloch –

The “Dark Arts” is a good catch-all term for what is, to me, a combination of subjects. It includes an exploration of the natural world and the psychology of humankind that is more empathetically based and complementary to traditional science. It also includes deep, personal introspection and self-discovery. I think that these subjects are as diverse as the people who study them, and therefore difficult to give definition.

Mantus –

I’ve always looked at occultism as the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe, but not knowing where the lock is, or like having all of the answers without knowing what the question is. Those of us who walk the Left-Hand Path know that there is more beyond the veil of what most consider to be “reality,” and only we are willing to take the risks and make the sacrifices necessary to further our understanding and acceptance of that deeper reality. Black metal, I think, works particularly well in relation to occultism, because the music encourages the mind to transcend the mundane and become part of something larger than the miniscule, pitiful existence of worldly life that separates us from true knowledge.

5.You also have some lyrics inspired by the writings of H.P Lovecraft, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in this author and also are there any other writers that have had an influence on your songwriting?

Moloch –

H.P. Lovecraft is a master of the horror genre, with an incredible talent for pacing, imagery, and atmosphere. These are all things we value in our music, so it felt natural to draw on his writing for inspiration. We are both big fans of horror and sci-fi/fantasy, so I expect there are many writers that influence our songwriting both lyrically and tonally, such as Edgar Allen Poe or Neil Gaiman.

Mantus –

I have always been fascinated with Lovecraft’s message in regards to human life. As you can tell from his most popular works, he writes about the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones, who are by all accounts immortal and impossibly powerful, who use humans as their playthings, tormenting them for sheer pleasure, or for no reason at all. It’s all too common for major religious groups and human rights efforts to place the ultimate value on human life, but the reality is our lives aren’t even remotely notable in the grand scheme of time. The planet we live on is inconsequential compared to the endlessness of the universe, so how can we say in certainty that we matter? I think his writing really paints a picture of hopelessness and of de-valuing everything humanity holds dear, which is something that resonates with me.

Outside of Lovecraft, I also take a lot of literary influences from Medieval and Renaissance writers. Particularly, I have taken a lot of inspiration from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, which I still think is one of the most Satanic books ever written, as well as Dante’s Inferno. In fact, the opening lines of our song “Descent of Eternal Sorrow” uses a few lines from Inferno. When I wrote the lyrics, I wanted to invoke that sense of despair that is palpable in that section of the poem.
6.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Unholy Baptism'?

Mantus –

I think that the big inspiration behind our band name is the inversion of a normal Christian baptism. My opinion of baptism in Christianity is that it makes you a slave to God, and so the Unholy Baptism, to me, lets you open your eyes and rise against the master that society tries to force upon you and choose your own destiny. Instead of being shackled to traditions of the past, we should be opening our eyes to the light of the universe and walking the path that few dare to tread.
 
7.Currently there are only 2 members in the band, are you open to expanding your line up or do you chose to remain a duo?

Moloch –

When it comes to the writing process, we work best as a duo. We have a strong friendship in addition to our creative partnership, so it would be difficult to incorporate any more voices into steering the band. That being said, having only two members makes live performance virtually impossible. If we come to a place where we feel that putting on live shows is worth it to us, we would almost certainly need to add a drummer.

Mantus –

We’re definitely open to adding members into the band, but I think some projects can be crushed under their own weight when too many people get involved. For both Moloch and I, we have a set of standards that any new member should meet, and we just unfortunately haven’t met many people that really fit that bill. I think with black metal in particular, the musicians need to stick with the vision of the band as a whole. Not every black metal band wears corpse paint or sings about Satan, but if half of the band wants to be more traditional and the other half wants to be more progressive, tension can build pretty quickly. Unfortunately, we just haven’t met others that want to commit to the vision we have for this project.
8.I have read that the band is no longer doing any live shows and is only a studio project these days, what was the decision behind going into this direction?

Mantus –

It was definitely a hard choice to make. We had a discussion about it after a small show we did in November of 2010. I should mention, we have a “pay-to-play” culture where we are, and when we would get on a bill, it would cost us about $100 every time we played a show. We weren’t ever compensated for the shows we did, and I think our corner of the southwest didn’t get where we were coming from with our black metal aesthetic, so we weren’t selling merchandise either. Prior to the departure of our drummer, Hate, we determined that playing live in Flagstaff wasn’t propelling the band further.

9.When the band was still doing live shows, what where some of the best shows that you have done?

Mantus –

I will always remember our first show more than anything else, as that was when I realized we really had a good aesthetic. This show took place very shortly after Moloch joined the band, but I don’t think we had done our EP yet. There used to be this club downtown called Studio 111. I used to play there when I was in other bands throughout the years, and I think it’s a coffee shop now. Nobody knew who the hell we were, the sound guys didn’t know what to make of it, but we just got on stage and put on a show anyway. When we started, there were a handful of people standing around, but once we started playing, you could see disgusted looks on people’s faces and everybody left in a hurry. We ended up finishing that set to an empty room!

Moloch –

Despite our focus on recording, we really enjoy performing live. There is a unique feeling to the level of connection you get on stage, staring out into a crowd and just unloading your deepest, darkest thoughts onto them. One of our best shows was opening for Cattle Decapitation at a little dive bar in Flagstaff, AZ. We certainly don’t align with the band philosophically, but they can draw a crowd and put on a good show! The floor was packed, and the audience was responding to every word and every riff. It was a powerful experience.

10.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?

Moloch –

We are not actively looking for a label, but we are also not ruling out a partnership if the terms are right. We are able to independently create and release anything we want, and we have strong feelings about creative autonomy, so it would probably need to primarily be a distribution/promotion deal to draw our interest.

Mantus –

We haven’t seen any label interest yet, but I would definitely like to have some discussions around that. We ended up self-releasing this whole album, and I think that was a good choice for an unknown black metal band from the States. I know that us not doing tours might scare a few labels off, but the amount of money they have to put in is so negligible. We’re doing all of the production and we work with graphic designer to get the aesthetic we want, all they have to do is print and sell the albums!

11.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black metal?

Moloch –

Our feedback from fans of Black Metal has been great! I think they understand that we are genuine, and that our sound has a place within the continuum of Black Metal. Our audience continues to grow, which makes us very proud.

Mantus –

Just to quickly add to that, my biggest concern has always been being part of the black metal underground. I’ve always said that, if my music can help one person to change or understand things in a different way, then the whole thing was worth it.

12.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

Moloch –

We are intending to continue along the path we began when we first started this album. We will continue to evolve our style and add in more atmospheric and doom elements, as well as add more thought and complexity to our lyrical themes and composition. We are already moving forward on our next album, the first in a trilogy, so keep an eye out in the future!

13.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Moloch –

We are very heavily influenced by 2nd wave Black Metal bands such as Darkthrone, Mayhem, Satyricon, and yes even Burzum. However, as we evolve our sound we have incorporated elements of many other styles, such as Atmospheric, Doom, and even some Black&Roll. Some big modern influences are Inquisition, Marduk, Leviathan, and Wolves in the Throne Room. As far as what I am listening to, it varies widely, but when I am writing music I usually don’t listen to much of anything outside my own stuff.

Mantus –

Definitely the early Norwegian scene. Everything that came out of that era is just amazing to me. I also take a lot of influence from Inquisition and Marduk, both of whom are absolutely stellar bands.

Right now, I’m listening to a lot of DSBM. Bands like Psychonaut 4, Forgotten Tomb, Happy Days, etc. I definitely love listening to it because of how raw it is. DSBM really sums up the human condition to me very succinctly.

14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

We definitely want to thank you for taking the time to interview us and write up that review. We really appreciate all the work that’s gone into this production and we are eternally grateful.
Our album is still available for streaming and to download. You can check it out over at unholybaptism.bandcamp.com/ releases.
Give us a like on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ UnholyBaptism) or on Twitter (@UnholyBaptism).
And keep walking the Left-Hand Path!

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