Ichor - Wraith discusses "The Black Raven"
Ichor conjure the epitome of darkness and the power of Pure Black Metal. For this Australian band that have been terrorizing the notion of normality since 1993 theirs is not just music but an assembled multitude of dark forces that is literally the fluid that runs through their veins as Wraith (Guitars) explains
“The energies that course through the veins of Ichor are vengeance, reverence and the old cunning ways. Ichor is a conscious departure from what we have done before or will do in the future and the sophomore album “The Black Raven” is an altogether different beast from the debut, “God Of Thunder God Of War”. A Slower, moody affair, “The Black Raven” is more emotional with a fatalist resignation. We felt that slowing the pace of the material with a focus on heavier production would suit the subject matter and the feeling that we are trying to convey on this new album.
‘’The name Ichor is of Greek origin; it is the life blood of the Gods. The substance which separates the Gods from the human race. It is a source of power but also toxic to mortals. So, the bittersweet quest for it is a metaphor akin to the tale of Icarus, a cautionary notion touching on the frailty of the mortal coil and voracious ego. The concept behind the band taking on this name is grounded more in a framework of animism and the idea of taking the archetypes of the old ways and reinvigorating them for a modern age – an equality to God or in this case Gods. Additionally, the reverence for the natural world and an understanding of our place within it is also a crucial part of the themes we explore
‘’Slavic folktales and folklore are the predominant influence on Ichor. Traditional tales of spirits, Gods and the beings that came to be known as vampires are a few main points of interest. As well as a disdain for Christianity and one can only hope that it will someday be held accountable for its greed, manipulation, and the damage it has caused and continues to inflict on cultures around the globe.
The choice of The Black Raven, the god of prophecy for you new album?
‘’The almost universal meaning attributed to the Raven, being a prophetic creature and also a cunning trickster spans millennia and many cultures; from the Ancient Roman Empire to Celtic and modern-day England, Germanic and Viking cultures, the Shamanic peoples of Siberia and Northern Asia, Hinduism and the indigenous communities of North America as well as the Slavic diaspora, to name but a few. The raven has long been used in poetry, folk music, and art as an omen, usually of death or misfortune. So, it seemed the perfect embodiment of the overall concept and theme of the album – the archetype of the harbinger of death, a psychopomp, and a connection between the world of the living and the dead. All of these attributes and roles resonate throughout this release. Ultimately the raven is a messenger, beckoning the listener to join the fateful journey.
The use of Slavic Mythology with the epic ‘’Veles is Here’’
We chose to name one of the Gods in this particular song as the character and spirit of Veles courses through every second of this recording. Veles represents a force that is multifaceted, adversarial, rebellious, and wild.
Ichor is a darker / heavier project than your others.
‘’The recording of this album began much like any other, but it soon started to have a mind of its own and led us in an unfamiliar direction. Things started slowing down and riffs became more melodic. A decision was made early on that no blast beats or fast songs needed to be on this recording, almost like a natural reaction the to the first album. Meanwhile the inspiration came from “Viking” era Bathory and Second Wave Pagan black metal. We also wanted to add a cinematic quality with ambient sections and acoustic guitar to add breathing space. These varied elements started to coalesce and make sense and thus – The Black Raven drew breath.
The epic approach. Partly inspired by the first wave of real black metal.
The influence of the first wave is always there for us and elements of the second wave are also a very strong and important part of Ichor. We tried to make dynamics an important factor in this recording, while retaining a sombre and slower pace. So, although some songs are technically long, they don't feel like they drag or have superfluous sections. We felt that a bigger sound was needed to try and convey the themes of war and loss - the human condition and the role we think that myth and magick play in the scheme of things. Musically and stylistically, there will always be the influence of bands we admire.
Do everyday topics not concern Ichor? Is there a lesson to learn from the gods?
We function and navigate our way through the modern world like everyone must. The subject matter touched upon in the recording merely scratches the surface of a living and breathing tradition that is interwoven with modern existence. Ichor, although merely a band is a platform to express all manner of topics. The tales we weave are allegorical and although thematically set in times long ago with a varying degree of fantasy, are stories of conflict, woe and triumph that are relatable fables in any age.
A lot of people do not know that Ichor came before Nazxul. What was the reason for such a long hibernation between 1993-to 2017?
There was no intentional hibernation. Nazxul took precedence at the time and then other projects in-between. The thing that triggered starting the project again was finding a copy of the demo in a box amongst other ancient tapes. We listened to it for the first time in decades and thought perhaps it was time to revisit this band and its subject matter. It had an energy that was vibrant, and its themes still strongly resonated with us. To us it seemed as relevant and as interesting as ever, especially in these troubled times.
How do you decide what musical Idea is for Ichor and for Nazxul?
The writing process begins quite organically. The intent is focussed, and each recording begins as the band it is intended for. If the path leads us too far astray then we will make a decision as to which entity the recording will be attributed to. Nazxul recordings are very few and far between tending to be a more group writing situation with all members contributing ideas, no matter what their defined roles may be. There is a lot of unreleased Nazxul material which remains in a state of flux. There might be a new album before the decade is out but who knows, their fate is governed by a different pantheon, and they are deceitful and cruel.
Ichor is labelled black metal. Do you think so?
This is an interesting point as it seems to have caused some confusion and contention with this new album. The band started off as black metal and we feel it is still black metal. Yes, it does have what can be classed as doom elements. As touched upon in previous replies, these are tools to create dynamics and atmosphere in the album. If we are going by strict fundamentalist rules then no it isn't, as it is not Satanic. But as the genre has developed over decades, we feel there is a place for Ichor amongst the ranks of Black Metal. But ultimately people can label it what they will.
What drives you to the edge of extreme music and is It the only outlet for you to express your ideas and music?
We have multiple projects and bands and most of them are in the extreme metal world. A Dark Ambient release or perhaps even the occasional film score break things up sometimes, but we always gravitate back to Black Metal. It struck a chord when we first heard the genre and we have been devotees ever since.
Do you think Black metal is still dangerous or has it become too large and all-encompassing genre wise?
‘’A poignant question which is hard to answer, as the world that black metal inhabits has changed so much over the last 30 years. In 2021 black metal inhabits a space where stylised feature films and hashtags exist, rendering ‘black metal’ a fun buzz word for anyone to search on the internet – for people not interested in metal to poke fun at the “extremity” of it all as they uncover the sensationalism and people raving on about the murder in Norway ad nauseam. What these people think ultimately doesn't matter but it does set the scene and exposes the genre to a wider audience and its magick seems to dim when exposed to outsiders. It’s certainly not as clandestine as it once was. And the delusion of a vast eclectic taste eventually equates to nothing holding any magick or meaning at all.
‘’As far as creating and distributing music goes, there is much greater access to recording equipment and modern software is amazing. Social media has made contact and interaction easier and in my opinion for the most part better. The ability to find an amazing artist for cover art or logo creation or even session musicians is but a few clicks away.
‘’So, it appears to have levelled the playing field from a more professional and higher production value point of view. It also allows a form of legitimacy by offering almost instantaneous identity and profile. I believe this can sometimes create a false sense of self-importance and value, perhaps even a sense entitlement. There is also the mirage created by streaming platforms which begs the question of what defines notoriety or success? A number of listens by anonymous masses hungry for new content – that in a lot of cases is consumed then forgotten. Versus the sale of physical media by what one would think are a more dedicated fan base. Image, materialism, and notoriety all play a part, I am just not sure if the ratios are balanced at the moment.
‘’Not to dwell on the “old days,” but in the past, where there was a will there was a way and some true gems were recorded with equipment and methods, that by today's standards would be considered substandard or simply too much effort. If this technology and networking was available back, then would these gems still hold the same mystique and sentimental value as they do now? At the beginning of any burgeoning genre there is a naivety and of course an intense creativity and passion at its core – a contagious energy which consumes its adherents. As time passes the fire still burns as vehemently as it ever did, there is just a lot more smoke to navigate through.
‘’Yet the harder that black metal bands pursue authenticity and credibility, the harder the kick back to mock them. People may find themselves challenged by the intensity of someone's belief and therefore feel the need to react, criticise and diminish. I am not saying that all the extreme ideals are even real, genuine, or legitimate – But to think the idea of having such a burning passion or deliberate expression is somehow comical. It is incredulous.
‘’But is Black Metal still Dangerous? Yes, it is if it is the intent of the creator. Their personal self-expression cannot be diminished and there are many people around the world creating interesting and zealous art. As long as it has integrity and is in staunch opposition to the status quo then yes! a resounding YES!
The song/album that commanded you to play this style?
Bathory’s ‘Hammerheart’ and ‘Nordland.’ Folk music from Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, Urkaine, Poland and Croatia have all got their individual quirks that influenced this recording and perhaps the influence can’t be heard clearly in the end result, but it is there.
What is next for Ichor?
We have some bits and pieces we are working on slowly. There will be a new album eventually. We hope to incorporate more acoustic and folk instruments in future recordings. We would also like to collaborate with folk singers and musicians. We will see what the future brings.
Top 6 albums of all time
Satyricon: Dark Medeival Times
Dark Throne: Transylvanian Hunger
Deicide: Amon Feasting The Beast
Beherit: Drawing Down The Moon
Immortal: Pure Holocaust