– Hi, thanks for your time. What are you currently up to? How is everything doing right now with TEMPLE OF BAAL?
Amduscias : Hi. Well, we’re currently promoting the new album, and starting to pick up gigs here and there, you know, the usual album release time schedule ! Everything is going ok, we’ve been in a transition time after the recording of the new album «Verses Of Fire», because of the departure of our guitar player Alastor, but now things are shaping up : Saroth, from Aosoth and Cruxifiction, will handle the guitar duties in Temple Of Baal. We’re now ready to hit the road and we damn hope to tour for this new album.
– First off, how and why did you pick «Temple of Baal» as the band’s name?
Amduscias : The name «Temple Of Baal» was something I immediately thought of, when I formed this band in 1998. I have always seen Black Metal as a religious and esoteric musical art. This Temple is a place of worship, a sanctuary, everything we’ve ever done with this band must be seen as a manifest of worship to this entity we call Baal, who can take several faces and have several meanings, all ending up as one. I see him as a destructive force, a manifestation of all the anger I have within myself. I see him as a bringer of enlightenment. I see him as my driving force when life and destiny try to shackle me, and I have to fight for my will. I see him within me, when I laugh at the pitiful show that human comedy has become. I see him as a part of me, and me as a part of him, when I sing his praise. Why Baal may you ask. Baal has several meanings. He is linked to fire and lightning. He is also, in some writings, likened to our Satan. In extension, the name Baal ended up as a generic meaning for «god» and was used before the name of several gods like Baal Shamen, Baal Bek, Baal Hammon. By extension, his name is often used as a substitution name for Satan. I am particularly attached to the link with Fire which is a constant theme in Temple Of Baal. Fire in its esoteric meaning. Fire as a destructive and purifying force. The fire of Lucifer, brought to the people, the fire of illumination, of initiation. «Verses Of Fire» is directly linked to this concept of Luciferian Fire, of initiation and revelation.
– Starting to dig into this CD; would you mind to elaborate a little bit on its cover’s meaning?
Amduscias : The cover shows a face that has been exposed to the Verses Of Fire, the Flames of Revelation. As you can see, it is decaying in its inferior part, while the superior part is intact. I see this drawing (by AAAAA Atelier), as the illustration of the relinquishment of material dimensions, the preeminence of the Spiritual. It illustrates the process of meditation that goes hand in hand with my vision of the music we make. Esotericism and music entwined. Otherwise, there’s no point in performing this kind of Art. It interferes with the process of creating, of playing, of listening. Meditation gives way to creation. Playing or listening to the result gives way to meditation. Creating music for Temple Of Baal, writing lyrics, rehearsing, recording, playing live, brings my mind in communion with the Beyond, the «other side» and its majestic Lords. I see music as a transcendental process, and this transcendence as a detachment from the physical, terrestrial dimension, to reach other planes of existence and conscience. This cover reflects this conception. It also implies many other meanings that I could not formulate with human words, and this, to me, is the purpose of Art : To express what human words cannot.
– You have just released your new album, entitled «Verses of Fire». What are your expectations on it?
Amduscias : Expectations are high on different level : As a band, we definitely hope to tour more than in the past. It is of high importance that we play more and more outside of France. I hereby encourage gig organizers reading this to contact us at email@example.com, so that we can set up things. Then, musically, it’s a confirmation of the direction we’ve taken with «Lightslaying Rituals». We started developing this direction on «The Vision Of Fading Mankind», we’re going forward with «Verses Of Fire», and it’s getting deeper and deeper with each release. And as everything we do is intimately bonded to spirituality, I see this album as another step to my never-ending exploration of what lies beyond. It goes even deeper than it has ever gone, with every release and every song I write. And still, I will go deeper and deeper, and the deeper I go, the deeper our music will be.
– Have been four years between your previous «Lightslaying Rituals» and this new opus. How do you think has the band evolved musically throughout these last years?
Amduscias : «Lightslaying Rituals» was a sort of new beginning for the band, taking a more Black/Death approach than before. We confirmed this direction first with the split with Ritualization, and today with «Verses Of Fire». The songwriting today is more elaborate, with songs that last between seven and ten minutes. Other tunes are still pretty much traditional Black/Death, direct and straight to the point. We also developed the guitar and vocal arrangements. We always learn lessons from our previous records and «Lightslaying Rituals» was good, and extremely brutal, but it was a bit too monolithic in the end. I even read reviews stating that it was «too brutal», I was like, come on, are you serious ? This one had to be more epic in a way, more diverse, a bit more like what we used to do in the past, although our music and sound have of course evolved through the years.
– After giving «Verses of Fire» some spins I could say is one of your most diverse records. Was this something you wanted to get?
Amduscias : Yes, definitely. As much as I love brutal songs, and there are plenty of them on «Verses Of Fire», our previous album «Lightslaying Rituals» was a bit too much «always in the red zone», so to say. There are plenty of reasons for that, the first one is that it illustrates a period of my life in which I was full of anger towards certain things I felt were holding me to the ground while I wanted to ascend, always ascend ! Having overcome these barriers, my mind has evolved again and again. «Verses Of Fire» is still full of this spirit of permanent rebellion, but it’s far more meditative than «Lightslaying Rituals». It is, in fact, a sort of comeback to our earlier days, with our sound and songwriting of today. If you listen to «Traitors To Mankind» from 2005 or «Servants Of The Beast», our first album that we released in 2003, you’ll hear that this versatility was already present in Temple Of Baal. We decided, in the writing process, to let ourselves get influenced again by this approach. I don’t like records that sound uniform all the way. For example, I prefer Marduk’s «Heaven Shall Burn… When We Are Gathered», to «Panzerdivision Marduk». I prefer Darkthrone’s «A Blaze In The Northern Sky» to «Transilvanian Hunger». In fact, I even fin «Panzer…» and «Transilvanian…» rather boring, compared to the discographies of these two bands. People often talk about «Raining Blood» from Slayer, but «Raining Blood» is not a monolithic album at all, there are breaks, mid tempos, and this variety gives it its violence, because there are musical contrasts. So, going back to Temple Of Baal, «Lightslaying Rituals» was a bit less contrasted than what we had done in the past. We decided to make an album that would bring back this dimension. We’re far from being close-minded people when it comes to music. Of course, you won’t hear Temple Of Baal playing something else than extreme, Black/Death Metal, but we don’t keep our gates closed to evolution, as long as it fits our conception of the band, of course. We have roots in Black and Death Metal, in Thrash, Heavy, Doom Metal, and an extremely wide spectrum of music of diverse horizons, so whenever we write music that sounds «Temple Of Baal» to our ears, we keep it, there’s no reason for us to say «This doesn’t sound Black or Death, so let’s forget it». As long as it doesn’t sound as if we would soften our approach, so to say, it’s good. Neverthless, as always in the process of creation of «Verses Of Fire», several songs we had demoed at home ended up in the dustbin, because we thought they didn’t fit our criteria. We are our first critics and when we feel something doesn’t sound the right way, we show no mercy !
– It’s also more evil, with a bigger focus on the 90s Black Metal’s essence. Have you approach differently the songwriting process behind this effort?
Amduscias : From the beginning of the process, we had set our minds to this direction. «Lightslaying Rituals» is great, but there is a bit less Black Metal in it, and Temple Of Baal is, at first, a Black Metal band. So we wanted to re-inject Black Metal in the songwriting, so to say. I guess we’ve succeeded, when I listen to «The 10th Aethyr» or «Walls Of Fire», those tracks are definitely possessed by a Black Metal spirit. Some still have a Death Metal feeling, «Lord Of The Raging Seas» for example, while «Golden Wings Of Azazel» has quite an extreme Thrash feeling, but as I said, we come from a diverse background, so this diversity is a part of us, as musicians and individuals. Other tracks are more on the edge, «Arcana Silentium» has this kind of elaborate atmosphere between many diverse influences, «Bloodangel» will maybe remind people that I spent time playing in Antaeus back in the days… But yes, the Black Metal feeling is much more present than on «Lightslaying Rituals», and it is totally deliberate. We originated as a Black Metal band, in a time where Black Metal needed bands to return to its extreme origins, and here we were, along with people from France and Sweden mostly, spitting Black Venom once again to the eyes of the pathetically soft «Black Metal» scene of those days, holding high the Flame of Religious Black Metal ! But I wouldn’t want people to think that we formed this band because of other bands, in reaction to a phenomenon. I just felt compelled, driven, to write those early songs, and to me, Black Metal can only be of religious essence. Forming a Black Metal band without this spirit would be like asking an atheist to compose a Mass. Technically, you can do it, but you will never get the feeling of a practicing, religious soul. And as the years went passing by, our music developed and evolved, but the spirit, the backbone of the Temple, the reason why Temple Of Baal is a Temple, a Religious entity, is still the same as it was fifteen years ago. To acclaim the glory of Satan, to bring the Flames of Lucifer to manifest in the mind of the willing one !
– The sound is also great, really organic, getting a quite «old school» sound. Could you please tell us how was the production process?
Amduscias : We worked once again with Andrew Guillotin, who recorded «Lightslaying Rituals» and «The Vision Of Fading Mankind». On those releases, we had worked with triggered drums and modeled amps on a Line6 POD, mainly for a question of studio time and money. The result was good, especially on «The Vision Of Fading Mankind», but nevertheless… I never forgot the beginning of the band, when we did everything without any electronic device. I don’t like triggered drums, and even if I have learned to set up a POD the right way (honestly 99% of the people who have listened to the last Temple Of Baal discs thought we used a normal amp), I feel that nothing can replace the sound of a real drum skin, and that of a properly overdriven tube amp. I miss the good old analog days, even if I easily admit that today’s studios are practical. I wanted to go back to a natural, organic sound. This is the way Temple Of Baal is supposed to sound. I want to hear our own playing, our own sound, and not something generic and electronic. I used a Peavey 5150 on the crunch canal, with my good ol’ Tube Screamer TS9 in front of it and honestly… You definitely hear the difference from the Pod. Something happens with a tube amp that even the best simulator will never be able to emulate. The drums were another story. Skvm did hit hard his fucking kit, as if we were in 1992, you know. But Andrew is so much used to working with triggers that he started making a first mix, with triggers all over the drums ! We stopped him at once, telling him that there was no way we would use triggers on this record, he was a bit reluctant but I told him «come on, just try to mix one song without the trigs». So he did. And finally he ended up sending me the whole album with natural drums, and he agreed we were totally right. There is so much more life, so much more reality with those sounds. I have to be honest with you : we triggered the bass drum actually, but it’s the only part of the drums that we triggered, and the sound we used for it was the actual acoustic sound of the bass drum, that we re-injected. We really wanted this album to sound totally natural, we’re fed up with those overproduced albums that you hear today, where everything is artificial, and the mastering is overcompressed. We really wanted our sound to breathe on this album and it’s so much better this way. It is the essence of the band that you hear, its true sound, and not some sterile, generic, clinical muzak. This is what we are, this is Temple Of Baal.
– One of the main changes for this album is your new drummer, Skvm. What has he brought during these years to TEMPLE OF BAAL?
Amduscias : Skvm already played on the split CD we did with Ritualization, «The Vision of Fading Mankind». He’s by far the best drummer we’ve ever had. He’s tight as Hell, and he can play incredibly fast or in a slow and groovy way. He’s very creative, always searching for breaks and drum phrases, without overdoing anything. He knows how to play technical, but he also knows how to keep it sober, to keep up with the spirit of the band. He won’t be the guy who will massacre an album by transforming it into a drummer demo, he’s at the service of the music, so to say. But yes, he has recorded some fantastic drum tracks on this album, totally full of feeling. Furthermore, he’s an accomplished musician, he plays the guitar, and even has a better technical level than I, haha ! He also knows how to use his voice so he does backing vocals in studio and even live sometimes. It feels great and I would say comfortable to have such a drummer in the band, it enables us to go even further in the songwriting, because we know that anything we want him to play, he will end up being able to do it, and believe me, it’s not the case of every drummer I know !
– All this about «Verses of Fire»; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Amduscias : Depth, Darkness, Devotion.
– You’ve been around for about 15 years now so, what have been both the best and worst moments for/with the band thus far?
Amduscias : Lots of fantastic memories. Playing the Caos Emergente Festival in Portugal, playing the Inferno Festival in Norway… The beginning of the band and its
creation, this indescribable feeling that never left but got even deeper and deeper in our souls through the years…
Worst memories : There would be a lot to say about music business, and the corrupted behavior of some of its actors. All of this is pretty sickening and I witness it quite everyday, and all these individuals are always showing off, acting as if they had any importance, but in the end, what a pathetic show they give us… On a more personal level, every time a band member leaves is a fucking bad time. All the members who left the Temple had been members for quite a long time and had become true friends, but it was their decision to leave, mostly because the feeling had left them. And theTemple needs dedicated members to go on, so I guess everything that happened did happen for a right reason…
– And finally; what are your near-future plans?
Amduscias : We are starting to book festivals and gigs. We’re going to play the Wolfthrone Fest, on November 9, near Paris, with Destroyer 666, Demigod, Antaeus, Disma, Dead Congregation and many other fantastic bands. Other rituals will soon confirm.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Amduscias : Thank you for supporting us. I’ve been spilling my blood for this band for fifteen years, and once again, put every inch of myself in this fucking record, in all sincerity, in a total devotion, so seeing people interested in the result really means a lot to me. Playing in Temple Of Baal, leading this band, is quite like a monastic task. It is always in a corner of my mind and never leaves me. The rewards are mostly of spiritual form : releasing records, seeing people who come to praise the Masters of the other side with us… This is the highest form of reward, and it has no price, but the price of our souls.