GRAND HARVEST (EN)

– Hello, thanks for taking your time, how are you holding up during these pandemic, almost dystopian times?

Greetings and thank you for your support and interest! N.N. here answering your questions. We are holding up good, considering the circumstances. We have a rehearsal hiatus currently, but we are still writing new material, have put a lot of work into the cassette release and take time to do things “behind the scenes” so that things will flow more easily once the world is becoming more normal again.

– «Grand Harvest» is a quite evocative name for a band, it can suggest so many and different things, and it also fits your music, as it provides the same sense of destruction and annihilation yet with a somber ambience by adding the word “Grand” so present in different magical workings and spiritual processes. What does «Grand Harvest» mean personally to you?

The main symbolism invoked in the band name is the end of all things, the Reaper’s final harvest and the end of life as we know it. The “Grand Harvester” and other references to harvesting is mentioned in our lyrics and it’s all a part of the general theme of the band. This symbolism is also present in our Sigil of the Grand Harvester, where we have the scythes and the Omega, referring to the final harvest and the end of ends.

The manifestation of the name is meant to work in Doom metal, Death metal and Black metal surroundings alike and to give a sense of what the music might be like, without stating anything too obvious.

-You recently released the “Vesperae Laesae Maiestatis Coronae» live album. Six songs recorded live in September. How did it happen? And how did the show go?

We have a great venue here in our hometown of Malmö, called Plan B. They continued with gigs all through the spring and summer, obviously following the current Covid-19 restrictions. We booked a gig together with our brethren in Cursus Bellum, and the idea was to do a gig for 50 people (that had to sit down with distance and all that, a very peculiar experience in itself) and also live stream it for the people that couldn’t turn up.

Despite a small delay the gig went very well and we showcased, for the first time, some of the more esoteric components that will be a part of our stage performances in the future. The plan afterwards was merely to cut the stream into separate songs and then add to our Youtube channel. After the gig the sound engineer, Zak Lindhammar, told us that he had recorded everything on separate channels via the mixer. This presented all new possibilities – we could mix the sound and make it sound great, which our manager Tore Stjerna did in his internationally recognized studio Necromorbus/NBS Audio. The great sound made us want to do a small run of a physical format, which became the cassette tape. The songs are also up on Youtube, Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes and so on with the new mix.

-It comes in a beautiful, well-cared cassette tape. It seems like visuals/aesthetic and packaging are important for you. Are they another part of your body of work?

Yes, the aesthetics are an essential part of Grand Harvest. The symbolism has to correspond with our general thematics and the execution needs to be flawless. We usually collaborate with German illustrator Misanthropic-Art for our visual presentations.

-And why is the live setting important for GRAND HARVEST?  It’s not usual to see a new band putting out a live album as their first release.

That is true. The goals and intentions of Grand Harvest have never been to be very usual or normal, and when this opportunity arose we felt we needed to grab it. We wanted to make our presence known on Spotify and other streaming services and since we are very satisfied with the result of the recording we simply had to do it.

-The title can also hold different meanings, and I bet the ambiguity was intended. Is it a nod to covid? To monarchy? Something more symbolic?

The title is highly intended to be ambiguous and is a construction of our vocalist and lyricist Dr. Häll. The basis lies in the old legal term Crimen Laesae Maiestatis Divinae, meaning “crimes against the heavenly majesty” (treason against God), instead of “Crimen” our title contains the word “Vesperae” that can mean both “night” and “prayers”. The word “Coronae” in our title symbolises both the current Corona plague, but also, in it being the latin word for “crown”, the demiurgic deity behind it all. That makes the title meaning roughly “Vespers/Night of offence against the crown/corona”.

-You’ve got a new guitar player in A.L. What effect has had in the band having new blood on board?

He’s not that new anymore since he’s been with us since late 2018, after the passing of our old guitarist M.G. He was very new when we started work on writing for the album though, and he has contributed with a special feel of his own which complements the band very well. He is a very talented musician and songwriter whose influence on the songwriting can be heard clearly in the songs we’ve written since. Both guitarists are great at writing material that elevates the lyrics perfectly and their different styles work very well together.

– The eerie and claustrophobic atmosphere is present all over these six songs. Where do you draw inspiration from to create such a strong dark and desolate atmosphere or what kind of thoughts and feelings are you channeling through it? Where does it come from? This kind of atmosphere seems to be more present in BM.

Thank you for noticing. We do try to make songs rather simple in their foundation, great riffs and melodies that help elevate and carry the lyrics, creating a dark and sinister symbios of sorts. We also attempt to not sound totally unison, it’s OK for songs to not be the exact same style as long as they sound like us. Thereby we are able to mix old school Death metal riffing with esoteric landscapes and a very dark atmosphere, perhaps more associated with Black metal, as you say. For me personally it’s interesting to contemplate how we draw inspiration from Black metal and in which ways we incorporate that without becoming a Black metal band. Our intention is to soar above a definitive genre definition and make that mix of Death, Doom and Black that we ourselves would like to listen to.

-Some vocal lines also seem to have a slight Black Metal influence, besides some clean vocals. Did you set to have this wider range of vocals or do you work in a more spontaneous way?

Dr. Häll is a very talented and versatile vocalist and it wouldn’t make sense for him to only use one style with such a broad array of emotions being spread out in the lyrics. He therefore plans which type of voice to use where in the songs as they are created. We then do vocal demos to see if everything works out. He uses his darker growl voice, his more Black metal sounding screeching voice as well as talking and whispers – all to, as closely as possible, represent the emotions and thematics of the lyrics.

The clean singing vocals are done by me and they’re present on a couple of songs so far. We will use a bit more of that going forward, when the song demands and opens up to it.

-Does inspiration for GRAND HARVEST come from Inwards or Outwards?

I would say both. Of course there’s worldly inspiration in the form of bands we admire and appreciate. Some of these are Rotting Christ, My Dying Bride, Mgła, Warning, Alcest, Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Dissection, Death, Vanhelgd, Mephorash, King Diamond and many others. The writing of songs however is never an attempt to copy anything or trying to sound a certain way, the creativity always comes from within. The same I would say about Dr. Häll’s lyrics, which are inspired by a multitude of worldly sources, but always connect to his personal trials and gnosis.

-Some of the tapes came with a handmade incense blend to burn with your song “Sol Maledictor”. Why? And what’s the significance and story of this song?

We wanted a type of bonus for the people who would be the first to put in their orders, and also make use of the knowledge that Dr. Häll possesses. An incense mixture felt like a natural choice. It can be made to correspond with specific powers and energies and is easy to package and distribute. Incense is also a part of our live performances, so the burning of incense while listening to the live recording will incorporate one more sense into the listening and elevate the experience. The incense is made especially for the release with ingredients collected, harvested, or otherwise obtained by Dr. Häll himself, and prepared on a specific day and time to be properly charged with the intended energies.

The song itself can be attributed as the song that got us on our current musical path. While working on “Sol Maledictor” we sort of found the way to move forward, it sounded like we wanted to sound. The doomy riffs, the very dark atmosphere and the simplistic but ambiguous lyrics just works and the latin part, backed up by our first attempt at clean sung vocals, lifts the song even further beyond a simple doomsday hymn.

– “Sol Maledictor” has very repetitive riffs. They work almost like a mantra. Is this something you want to obtain with your music?

Yes, this is very much the intention of the song. The vocals and lyrics are supposed to be front and center, backed up by the right atmosphere created by the music. This is also, in a way, a small nod towards old Black metal such as Darkthrone – which had the ability to carry a song solely by repeating a great riff or melody in absurdum. It takes confidence in one’s riffs to be able to do this, perhaps a riff worth playing is sometimes worth overplaying?

– In fact overall it feels like the most important in your music are the vibes, the energies it channels. It seems like you don’t allow any rationality interfere with your creativity. And I think this way you manage to create a certain trance inducing feeling. Is this kind of feeling something you want your music to convey? What tools or processes do you use to get to this trance?

Absolutely. Music’s ability to induce feelings and create atmosphere is a type of magic in itself. This is something that we definitely try to facilitate in our songs, with the intention of creating sonical landscapes that reflect the lyrics of every specific track. Overall the merge between the lyrics and the music is extremely important to us and is something that the whole band stands wholeheartedly behind. Grand Harvest would not be the same without the attention to lyrical content and the atmospheres dictated therein.

We use certain procedures to get in the right state of mind. We usually burn incense in the rehearsal room and rehearse with a full stage setup to make the circumstances as close to a live performance as possible. Before we go on stage we usually take some time for solemn preparations before stepping up on stage as a unit. When the intro starts and the incense hits you your mind automatically finds the correct state. Not all of us are occult practitioners, but we all house great respect for the energies or forces behind our compositions and on stage we are a unit focused on mediating these energies towards the audience.

-Anyway, what is this new album to you? A vessel, a channel, a catharsis…?

I would say all of the above and much more. In itself it is a representation, or prophecy if you will, of what we will present to audiences once we can get this beast on the road. It also carries with it all the content, blood, sweat and tears behind writing these six particular tracks. There are quite a number of levels within the music and lyrics, which I think makes it possible to find something new even after several listens.

-Tell us about the lyrics. They hold a lot of symbols and metaphors. What experiences do they camouflage?

Dr. Häll’s lyrics all come from his vast knowledge of the dark arts, the occult, philosophy, history, poetry and science all spun together with a Luciferian gnosis of Death, personal trials, and a certain brand of misanthropic empathy. All in all a certain lyrical main theme is key – the blissful end of all things.

-The language you use is sometimes poetical. Are there any authors that inspire you? And what else? Because there’s magic, there’s doomsday…

The lyrics are swarming with references, from known ones like the bible to obscure philosophers, occult writings and classical poets. I would say that Dr. Häll wants to keep some of these in the shadows, to make the interpretation of the lyrical content more open and leaning toward what’s closest to the reader’s heart, mind and will.

-All this about “Vesperae Laesae Maiestatis Coronae” being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?

Atmospheric, dark, powerful

-If I’m not mistaken you’ve had a full album finished for a while. What could you tell us about it? Sound, themes…

Yes, the album, named “Consummatum Est”, is more or less finished, at least when it comes to the recordings. All six tracks from the live recording are on the album, together with two more full tracks and one interludium dedicated to our late guitarist M.G. The live tracks set the atmosphere for the album rather well, the two remaining tracks of the album are one doomy and ethereal track called “My Desolate Sea” and one faster more old school Death metal sounding bit called “Crowns to Ashes – Thrones to Dust”.

-And is there any release date? Or a label?

We are currently looking for a suitable label to cooperate with. Our hopes are set on the album being out sometime during 2021, hopefully with the opportunity to tour in close proximity thereafter.

-And before we wrap this interview up; what are now your near-future plans?

Right now we focus on finding a label for “Consummatum Est”, while continuing our work on writing the next album.

– That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add some final words, feel free to do it.

Thank you!

Anyone who wants a cassette can go to our Bandcamp (https://grandharvest.bandcamp.com) and put an order in. Also listen on Spotify, and  like/follow us on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest news.

Death and Doom to all!

Tania Giménez

tania@queensofsteel.com

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