Interview with W.uR of ISRATHOUM, conducted in June 2015.
First of all, my hails to the ISRATHOUM horde! W.uR, could you please let me know how your participation in ISRATHOUM came about?
Hail the ascetic temples!
When I joined ISRATHOUM, the band was still under an old moniker (Geryous). I was in my early teens, since I am slightly younger than the other intervenients.
We grew up in a rather small community, so we've always been friends drawn by the same powers and aware of the path we were to follow.
Along with another individual, who has contributed with a few lyrics in the past (and continues to contribute), we were pretty much like a pack of wolves. There were no allied bands, nor were we a part of any "scene"...
It's been a while now, but I guess I basically joined in with the purpose of giving more depth to the guitar sound. However, due to many twists and turns, apart from a handful of riffs, it was only in the recent releases that I actually reached the desired level of input, in spite of the other members' support.
ISRATHOUM was formed in the early 90's. Many bands coming from the same era eventually mellowed down and abandoned their convictions, softening their sound and statements. Which, based on what I hear on your recent releases, is not the case with ISRATHOUM – if anything, the band is heading against the current trends. Am I getting the right vibe?
Sure, I believe you are. I can't speak for the other bands, but with ISRATHOUM the aim has always been to refine the essence, rather than the production. In the beginning I don't even remember us longing to enter a studio at all, nor wanting to sound "big".
The goal has always been to match the negativity, which makes disquietude blossom, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with every obscure impulse, narrowing down the distance between idealization and execution. We do feel that we are getting closer to that point of converging with every release. There is no need here to expand target audiences, nor to experiment with progressive elements. We are staying true to our origins.
In early 00's ISRATHOUM featured a keyboard player and keys played a very prominent role in the music, yet by "Black Poison and Shared Wounds" the band almost completely abandoned the use of synthesizers, opting towards a much harsher and more violent guitar sound. What is behind such a metamorphosis?
I guess the best explanation to that matter can be found by analyzing the events chronologically... In the early 00's Arvath moved back to the Netherlands, where he originally hails from. As a result, so did the existential sphere of the band eventually. There, not only did new members join, but consequently other means became available, which were unknown to date. I can't really say I've witnessed all those processes directly, but I am sure everything made sense back then. Nevertheless, personally I have always seen the prominent role of keyboards you've mentioned as a distraction or dispersion, rather than an intended or deliberate action or direction. In my opinion, it was about adapting to the new circumstances and just going for a trial-and-error method. However, by the time of "Black Poison and Shared Wounds" logistics allowed us to work the approach we were longing for. The keyboards were no longer taking part in the writing process, they became a mere supporter of the virulent aural mass instead.
What is the meaning behind the band's name – ISRATHOUM?
ISRATHOUM (or Irasthoum) literally means "the Shadow of Death" (in Hebrew - khz), the ever-grinding shine of damnation. The band had suffered several name changes throughout various stages, and this one in particular was a personal suggestion of VxInfr around '97, which fitted the core of the union better and grew on all of us.
The new MCD / MLP is called "Antru Kald". What does the title mean? I know the first ideas for this project appeared as far back as 1998, why did it take so long to materialize?
This MCD consists of material from a side project of Arvath and I, which started back in '98. For several reasons it never really passed the stage of composing guitars and drums. Besides, we never had a chance to record it properly somehow, so there were only some rehearsals on tape. Time went by and both of us kept on waiting for a favourable period to finish it, which never really happened until much later. When we met to record "Black Poison and Shared Wounds" a few years ago we managed to cover these tracks as well.
Some months after the album was finished I remember asking VxInfr to contribute with some vocals, which he did, and next thing we noticed we basically had another ISRATHOUM release in our hands. There was no point anymore in forging the side project, which we just referred to as Kald. And that is actually where the title "Antru Kald" derives from. It is ISRATHOUM's interpretation of the old anthems. An incursion through the antechambers of the lake of fire.
From the first to the last note "Antru Kald" sounds like a conceptual release, where songs follow each other with a unified goal in mind. Am I correct? What do the lyrics deal with?
Yes, you are. Metaphorically speaking, the three tracks are a triptych of utter spiritual ruin, possession, ebbing and consummation.
What is the driving force behind the band? Ideologically and musically.
The attempt to embody the stooping dragon... It is an esoteric rite of infernal perdition, driven and inspired by every luciferian commandment. But it is impossible for me to explain the bond to the left hand path in frivolous words... If we could do so, we would be writing dissertations and theses about the subject instead. That is why the best way to entirely perceive the manifestation is to experience both sound and lyrics of our titles. Sound wise, we definitely stick to the parameters which were imperative in the 90's.
What does Death mean to you?
The all-bending sceptre... Objectively, I would say the ultimate plunge in the cosmogonal womb, the absence of triviality...
Just like when after blowing out a candle the smoke drifts to realms unseen to the human eye... What lies beyond remains an arcane to the human mind, regardless of earthly paradigms.
What is Black Metal for you? Is it just music or is there something deeper behind it?
For me it is the vital disposition of my existence. We could go on for hours about this; I mean, its themes and aesthetics are so unique and reflect the genuine essence of the human soul, as I perceive it, a spiteful saturnine glance of the misanthrope. I couldn't really "live" without this pure and noble expression, whose nefarious pillars are the lookout point of my Weltanschauung.
And reducing Black Metal to a musical expression would be equivalent to say that a Bosch's masterpiece and a comic illustration, or an advertisement poster, are like two peas in a pod...
But I am afraid it is getting more and more corrupt every day. There are too many sheep disguised in wolfskin in this movement and, as a consequence, mainstream oriented rules are starting to take over. But that is nothing new.
I noticed Mories of GNAW THEIR TONGUES helped ISRATHOUM on several occasions. Is there a friendship between the bands?
I wouldn't go that far, I suppose. Mories did the artwork for the vinyl version of "Monument of Brimstone", which dates back to 2009. We were so satisfied with the result, that we got eager to work with him again. He has proven to be extremely capable, not only when visuals are concerned, but in sound treatment as well. His talent seems to surprise every time and you can tell by taking a look at his multiple projects that he is a very complete artist.
You also are the person behind the enigmatic avant-garde Black Metal band MONTE PENUMBRA and you take part in AB IMO PECTORE. What's going on in their camps?
I can say both bands are well active and working on new material, which is nearly ready to be released. So, maggot lovers stay alert!
ISRATHOUM featured a lot of musicians over the years, well-known from their contributions to the scene. Kvohst of CODE, DODHEIMSGARD and HEXVESSEL among others took part in ISRATHOUM at one point. What is his legacy with the band?
ISRATHOUM did have quite a few participants indeed, and many members came and went. They were all significant in their own way, but I also think their influence is limited to the timespan in which they were actively taking part in the band. However, the founding members have always been present and that's where the vital strength of the band lies, I believe.
Regarding Kvohst, he was already a friend of ours before he joined on guitar. We were all living in the Netherlands at the time and, if I remember correctly, it was actually Vicotnik, who during a visit gave him the push which made him go for it. The idea was to rehearse together and have a steady live line-up. We ended up just having one concert in Helsinki and in fact I believe it was his first time on stage playing an instrument, which is rather common nowadays. Definitely times to remember and we cherish his participation very much, but apart from the outstanding lyric he wrote for "The Unravelling Traveller" and his clean vocals on"The Slanderer", there is not much from him left in ISRATHOUM.
Do we have any chance to see ISRATHOUM play live?
I think so, yes. It is an aspect which has always been present in the band's DNA. We have done it several times, when we thought it would be interesting for those on and off stage. We feel that the in loco execution fits the compositions well and we are up for the occasional concerts, once we've settled a complete live line-up. There is still room for a second guitar, but we consider playing with just one again, in case we can't find the appropriate individual to fill in the blank.
Is the new EP any indication for what the future holds? What does it hold?
There is enough material for a full-length, so the next step will be to enter the studio, striding deeper into the domains we have set ourselves to engulf. Obscurum per obscurius.
ISRATHOUM's "Antru Kald" DigiCD is now available for purchase through the band,
as well as through Daemon Worship and its distributors.
"Finis coronat opus – the crown of corrosion
A black hole of Deathmasks
blotting out the lily fields of God".