– Hello, thanks for taking your time, how are you holding up during this pandemic, almost dystopian era?
S : Well, okay I guess. Personally it has really affected my work situation and rehearsal situation with my other band Obliteration, but on the other hand we managed to finalize and record the Nekromantheon record and work on new music with Nekromantheon after the record so that’s at least something. But I hate it, the situation. Hate not being able to play shows, to watch shows, go to a bar and actually just sit in the bar, not being able to travel and be free. And not work. It doesn’t really give one a sense of purpose, that’s for sure. We should just absorb the darkness and apathy and create more and more music.
-You recently did an “online release show”. You got to adapt to these times. I guess it might be weird. How did you experience it?
S: Yes we did but it was pre-recorded and pre-mixed etc, so it wasn’t a live stream, but we wanted it to feel like our release gig. It was weird recording it, trying to «put on a show» without an audience, but we did it at Arse’s catacomb-studio, so it felt like home. And we asked Sanna who did the video to make it look like a Lyncian thrash gig, or something along those lines. So it at least looks cool.
-This new “Visions of Trismegistos” is your third album. It’s been almost a decade since “Rise, Vulcan Spectre” came out even though you kept playing live occasionally. When did you begin to gather ideas for this new opus? Have you been working on it during all this time or did you just focus more on your other projects?
S: We have been working on it all the time so to speak, but Nekromantheon was really a bunch of peaks and valleys at this time, mostly valleys maybe, so we at times did not rehearse or create for longer periods of time. And creatively we were drawn to other projects and life in general, and time around the shows we did were spent rehearsing a lot on old songs and keeping in shape musically with our live guitarist, so those times were not really creative writing wise. But suddenly cool songs started taking shape and Kicks lyrical universe expanded, so slowly the focus shifted towards Nekromantheon and the powers it behold. But Arild and I have been very active with OBLITERATION as well, which sucks out a lot of energy.
– And how could you say this gap of time has affected the final output on your latest release? How have you matured and evolved as a band?
S: We have been more focused on the song structures, the atmosphere that the lyrics give and how they can colour the music. And we look inwards for inspiration, trying to avoid the cliches and worship tendencies, while still sounding old school. It’s hard to be creative within the box, but we have been seasoning the NEKROMANTHEON sound, incorporating subtle details from other genres, giving it its own familiar edge and personality. While still sounding spontaneous and raw. It’s a tough balance.
-Once again you recorded and mixed the album yourselves. What are the pros and cons of this? Isn’t having control a bit like a double-edged sword?
S: Indeed. Well, total control is one thing, and when you do it yourself it definitely sounds like YOU. It also gives limitations, as we are not professionals, which helps capture the rawness and gives it an «element of uncertainty». We did have some help this time around, from the guy who owns the studio collective we entered, with the equipment, microphone placements etc. I like to be in control, I think we like to have a close eye on our product as possible. It is something that is embed in our blood, and hard to let go. To let go you need to trust someone else to do it, and that is not easy. And the failure is only ours to bear.
-I’ve read you have high standards for Thrash Metal. What are your favourite albums in the style? Is there any newer band that you like?
S: Yeah, but that goes mostly for us, we have high standards for what to put into NEKROMANTHEON. The thing with Thrash is that it goes from being the best and most ruthless genre to completely plastic rubbish very fast. There are so many classic records that don’t meet the criteria, but they had the energy, foresight, innovation and feeling, plus they were the creators, makes it great and something of its own. For me, perfect thrash needs to be dark, fast, evil, but it has to be tight, possess technical abilities, great riffs, well made song structures and leads, and at the same time feel fresh, raw, unhinged and spontaneous. I guess the blueprint for this is Darkness Descends, Hell Awaits, Reign in Blood, Sadus-Illusions etc, but there are a lot of great thrash metal records that get me every time. Possessed, first Destruction, VOIVOD, Obsessed by Cruelty, Schizophrenia etc. List goes on forever. There are good new bands, ANTICHRIST from Sweden is the ultimate new thrash band. Inculter, Deathhammer, Evoke, Sauron and the mighty AURA NOIR of course.
-And what does a Thrash Metal album have to have to match your standards?
S: Kind of the same as mentioned above, but first and foremost it needs to have passion, and it needs to sound genuine, have its own personality. Otherwise it gets dull and boring extremely fast. It has to be fast, well played, intense and somewhat technical, yet somewhat sloppy, feel spontaneous and fresh, raw and have a dark and evil atmosphere. For me this is needed in (new) thrash in order to sound good. The early classics in the genre lack several of these characteristics, but the innovation, sheer spirit and the fact that it was so groundbreaking makes up for it tenfolds.
-Going to the title of the album, is there anything that particularly attracts you from the figure of Hermes Trismegistos? Do any of the Hermetic principles resonate with you in any way?
Kick: I think there is a lot of wisdom in the Hermetic writings, for sure. Even though I hold a very secular world view, I’m attracted to the metaphysical speculations based on mystical states of mind. I’m fascinated by the Neo-Platonic way of thinking about the mind and the cosmos that Hermes Trismegistos represents, and “his” texts resonate with me on many levels, though not so much in a literal sense.
-What purpose does Trismegistos serve on the album? Is it an aesthetic resource or is there also some sort of mystic background?
Kick: Hermes Trismegistos symbolizes a lost tradition of mysticism, and serves as a foundation for building metaphors upon. Of course, it is also an aesthetic choice. Using terminology and elements from the Hermetic writings creates an atmosphere of archaic mystery, which is something we like in our metal.
-In what way does this connect to the lyrics? They’re quite hermetic for what I see. Are you using here an allegorical language?
Kick: Allegorical, metaphorical, anagogical… In accordance with the principles, I try not to be too explicit in my way of writing, and allow people to interpret the lyrics in their own way. It shouldn’t be too difficult for anyone who’s interested to figure out what I intend to say, but it shouldn’t be too obvious either. “The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding”.
-What legends, events and entities inspired some of the songs on the record? And how did you prepare to write them? What did you read?
Kick: The title track is obviously inspired by the Corpus Hermeticum. Other songs are directly inspired by The Kybalion, Goethe’s Faust, and Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Some of the songs are not directly influenced by anyone in particular, but have references to various neo-platonic figures, such as Dionysius the Areopagite and Plotinus. It’s hard to say exactly how I prepare because it differs every time. Sometimes I get struck by a fully developed idea that’s just missing the words, other times I write down single lines and piece them together. Sometimes I have the music ready and just need to write the words, other times we make the music based on the lyrics. I like to include a lot of different symbols and elements from different sources, inspired by Pico della Mirandola.
-You’ve always had these hints to Greek mythology. Where did this interest born from? It’s not a typical theme in Thrash Metal. Is it also a conscious choice to set NEKROMANTHEON apart providing something that hasn’t been overused?
Kick: Yeah, it absolutely is. We started playing thrash metal almost as a counter-reaction to the Norse mythology trend in ‘00s black metal. We wanted to distance ourselves from all the viking-imagery and create something more idiosyncratic. I’ve always been interested in mythology, and the Greek myths are older, more disturbing and more brutal than the Norse ones in my opinion. All the more fitting for a metal band.
-One of the 7 Hermetic principles is the Principle of Rhythmn. In the “Kybalion” it is said that “Everything flows, out and in; everything has its tides; all things rise and fall; the pendulum-swing manifests in everything”. Considering your periods of more and less activity, etc., could you say this can be applied to the way how NEKROMANTHEON works?
Kick: Excellent! It’s a rare occasion when the interviewer actually knows anything about Hermeticism, good on you. Yeah, that’s for sure one way to apply the principle of rhythm, though it can be done in many ways. It’s not about trying to work in a specific rhythm, but more about ways of thinking about the process. We have different projects and other aspects of our lives that also require attention, and writing the music we want requires focus.
-I guess every album reflects a specific moment in your lives, capturing moods or even the music you’re listening to. I think this album is darker, more sinister and even colder. Where did this blossom from?
S: I agree, it is a darker album. I think it has something to do with age, and the time it has taken creating the record. I don’t know, we have always listened to a lot of different music, and we have been more open to letting it bleed through now than in the past. Maybe. I’m not sure if there is one source, but I guess more early death metal and proto black metal have played a bigger role for us collectively in the creative process. Bands like Pentagram from Chile, The Into the Abyss demo from German proto black metallers Poison, Thy Kingdom Come demo of Morbid Angel, Incubus – God Died on his Knees 7″ and the first Necrophagia record etc are more present in the vision of Nekromantheon. All are releases we have been into forever, but they’ve been more an inspiration for Obliteration in the past than Nekromantheon. There is a vibe these bands / releases possess that we feel more and more connected to.
-It’s also more personal. There are less references to external influences I think. I guess this is just a natural evolution but, is sounding unique and having an own sound something you actually focus on?
S: Thank you, you really hit the nail on the head here. This has been EXTREMELY important for me the last decade, to shake any homage/tribute/worship stamps off our backs, and focus on our sounds, grooming the x-factor or whatever. After many years of being obsessed with underground music and art, it sits in your spine and you can look inwards instead. Every artist needs to have a personality, a sound that is recognizable, that makes you think of that artist or their artistry instantly. It does not have to be 100% unique or completely avantgarde / something you’ve never heard before, but you have to have something. If not, what’s the point?
-On the other hand, the veteran Zbigniew Bielak was this time in charge of the cover artwork. Why him? And how did you work with him on the art?
S: We’d been in touch for several years, wanting him to do the artwork, to create our own sort of Doré-esqe Dantes Inferno. He is a fan and a great guy, so it seemed fitting, we’d been talking about it every time we’ve met the last 8 years. RKV from Obliteration, who has done a lot for us in the past, has been too busy to do a full artwork for us for a long time, so it felt only right to do it with Zbigniew. We just sent the lyrics and a short description that was something along the lines like; Doré-esqe universe with some Hieronymus Bosch absurdity and madness and a good portion of Larry Carrol vibe, inspired by the lyrics. We got one rough sketch and just said go for it.
-The cover is grotesque, has a lot of death, some esoteric symbolism… It feels like you’ve build one whole thing with this album. How does an idea, an aesthetic, transform into sounds, words and imagery? How is that process like? And what does come first (themes, sound…)?
S: humm. Sounds usually come first for us, or lyrics. I don’t know, it just happened naturally, that the cover captured the essence of the music and lyrics, imagery art is always last. It’s hard to describe the creative process in words, it just happens over time..
-All this about “Visions of Trismesgistos” being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?
S: Dark, mystic and fast.
-Finally, what’s next for NEKROMANTHEON? In these uncertain times, how are you promoting the new album?
S: Writing more music. We went straight over to writing after the production work of VISIONS and the live video were finished. I don’t know, we are doing interviews, did the live «gig» online, and are trying to be a bit active online, even though we are not really fans of that. I hope the Label does promotion work as well. We would love to play live again soon and promote the record the real way.
-That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add any final words; it’s your turn.
S: Thank you! Remember to support your local record store and bands in these boring times! Listen to Spirit Possession, Maggot heart and TEITANBLOOD!