LHAÄD - ''Below’s ambient touch gives that alike feeling of falling into an endless void''
What inspired you to create Lhaad from your other projects? Was this a natural progression or a conscious one?
Lykormas (all instruments/arrangements) ‘’Both. It’s not like Roman from DRUDKH who makes excellent music, but a lot of his projects sounds the same. I think of HATE FOREST, PRECAMBRIAN and BLOOD OF KINGU. It was a quite conscious decision to make LHAÄD sound different than all my other projects (who all have their own identity and own sound). Plus, in my head I had already a lot of ideas, I just had to find time to put those ideas into songs and record them. When we came back from the Backout Studio, after recording HEMELBESTORMER’s Collide & Merge, I found some extra time. Being triggered by HATE FOREST’s Hour of the Centaur I decided to put down Below. In a few weeks all was written, recorded and mixed. Artwork was done and cooperating labels were found. Now we’re many months later and here we are: connecting both sides of the world taking about LHAÄD.
There is a strong electronic element to Below. Do you feel this element needs further exploration in black metal?
‘’Maybe we’re talking about the same thing, but I actually think there’s little of industrial and bit more ambient on Below. I’m not a huge admirer of industrial sounding black metal. For sure I can appreciate MYSTICUM, but I never really explored bands like BLACKLODGE or ABORYM. I like to keep those influences subtle, yet present and more on the background.
Apart from a few bands why do you think ambient/noise and black metal hasn’t been explored further?
‘’That’s a good question. Maybe it’s just more niche? Most black metal bands get their ideas from the Scandinavian scene. Many want to sound like the pioneers of the second wave of black metal and thus focus on aggression and melody. It takes a different, less common approach to incorporate industrial elements. Plus, the standard band formation includes guitars, bass, drums and vocals. Also here it takes more than just the easy formula to add a touch of industrial. Does it make sense?
Below is quite conceptual and the horrors it contains?
‘’LHAÄD is an anagram for hadal. The hadal zone (also named hadopalegic zone) is the deepest region of the oceans, like the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, being about 11 000 meters deep. Below, there is no light. There’s nothing but darkness. The word hadal comes from Hades, the Greek God of the dead and the underground. LHAÄD isn’t occult or satanic and thus per definition not pure black metal. Hence the term “hadopalegic black metal”. Below is all about feeling. The feeling of being captured alone and far away from this world, deep under the ocean in a black void. There are no lyrics, all is improvised. I wanted to keep the album pure and direct. Lyrics make you think more about how to fit words and music. It makes it less natural. For LHAÄD the feeling of pureness is of utter importance. Most vocals on Below are recorded first take. Later I wrote down some parts phonetically to fix occasional (vocal) dubs.
Musically it is also tsunami like in the way it attacks in waves. The decision to make it quite so ferocious.
''Absolutely. I was aiming for a dense and claustrophobic atmosphere as if all the weight of the whole ocean falls on your shoulders and crushes you in just a blink of an eye. Like DARKSPACE can put the feeling of endless space into their music, Below’s ambient touch gives that alike feeling of falling into an endless void. Of drowning into the deepest pits of the vast ocean.
The decision to keep it quite raw yet having a technological edge?
‘’To me bands like SUPLHURIC NIGHT or GENOCIDE SHRINES sound raw in the sense of a low-fi, something I can truly appreciate, production. LHAÄD has got a total different, more clearer, cold and even sterile production. Musically LHAÄD isn’t really technical, but still quite musical. I guess like most bands.
The Direction Lhaad will take ?
‘’For all bands (past and present) together I wrote more than 15 full albums. GORATH did 6 fulls, RITUALS OF THE DEAD HAND did 2 fulls (and the 3rd one is almost fully written), WOLVEN released their 2nd full last year, HEMELBESTORMER will release their 3rd full next month and for ENTARTUNG I wrote 4 fulls (plus a 7 inch is being recorded as we speak). So logically there will be a 2nd LHAÄD release, as I never wrote just 1 album per band. In my head I’ve gathered some ideas and they are more dissonant and industrial, though I’m pretty sure the style won’t change that much from Below. However, there’s no rush. Maybe a new album will be finished next year. Maybe it takes 5 years.
How does the human psyche influence you lyrically and does literature/media also influence?
‘’I’m 42 now. And I had my share of life experience. Life’s too short to focus only on nihilism and misanthropy. I’m still interested in Gnosticism, history and science, for sure, but I’m also open for positive insights. There is too much misery in the world and the media polarises every day a bit more. Therefor I became more positive and try to enjoy small things like walking with my dog in meadows and forests, feel the sun on my skin or go for a run through the rain. Both Yuval Noah Harari‘s Homo Sapiens and Home Deus are refreshing literature for the mind. Bringing a positive vibe. I learned it’s not always right or wrong and not always black or white. There’s a lot of grey in between. I don’t search or need external sources to feed my creativity. Mostly things take form during those walks or runs, when I’m not distracted by anything or busy with the daily routine.
How do you discern what component goes into your many different projects? or is it just pure inspiration?
‘’Because all bands play a different genre, it’s quite easy. Most the time I write album per album. Only for HEMELBESTORMER I write tracks when it feels right. The last 2 albums I’ve written (WOLVEN and LHAÄD) were each done in some weeks. Once the flow is good it often keeps on coming. And if it doesn’t, I don’t mind. Time is never an issue. Having all these bands (and projects) keeps a writer’s bloc away. Now it has been 3 years I wrote something for HEMELBESTORMER, so chances are big a flood of inspiration will come once I start writing. But again: no pressure. This is not a life and death situation.
Are you proud to be known as a black metal artist and is it its freedoms that entice you?
‘’Black metal isn’t really known for its open mindness. And that’s cool for me. I have certain expectations when listening to black metal and if some hardcore kids wants to play black metal with different views, then I encourage them to give their style a different name. However, back in the days also VENOM criticized MAYHEM using the term “black metal” for something completely different VENOM did. Freedom when it comes to music and artwork is of great importance to me. And I’m lucky LHAÄD (and all my other bands) are listed on likeminded labels. Babylon Doom Cult Records gave me total carte blanche, only 180 grams vinyl wasn’t possible. I’m pretty obsessed with details and the total package should look perfect. This means picking the right paper for the jacket, colouring the jacket insides, making the album available on all possible formats, including a shirt, et cetera. I will redo the artwork if I think the logo should move 1 mm to the left, for example. I think it’s also important to know the people of the label. There should be a personal connection. I’m old school and think honesty, integrity and respect are basics. I want to meet the people who believe in my music. It’s not them and me. It’s us. We’re a team. And teams work together. Extraconscious Records and Fólkvang Records are US based, but all other labels I work with, being Babylon Doom Cult Records, Loner Cult, Ván Records and Dunkelheit Produktionen all live in less than an hour driving from my place. If needed we can hook up and share views as partners and friends. I’m proud of that.
What drew you to the darker side of music?
‘’For me it all started at the age of 12 when I heard AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. It naturally evolved to IRON MAIDEN and MEGADETH. It didn’t take many years I discovered ANATHEMA, DEICIDE, MASSACRE, BLASPHEMY, IMPALED NAZARENE and others. I’m talking early and mid ninety nineties here. Together with like minded we discovered new music every month, and started up bands. We copied and traded tapes. Good times. These are pre-internet times. Since then the darker side of music became more than “a hobby”. It became a passion.
Top 6 albums of all time?
‘’That’s a very hard question. I’m listening intensively to music for about 30 years now. It all depends on the mood and time frame. For instance, I absolutely praise 13th MOON’s latest EP, Putridarium, but will it still stand after 20 years? Therefor I’ll pick albums I know by heart for many years. And I’m not very sure of the outcome. In no particular order: ENSLAVED Vikingligr Veldi, BURZUM Hvis Lyset tar Oss, ROTTING CHRIST Non Serviam, ULVER Bergtatt, YEAR OF NO LIGHT Ausserwelt and one new band: BLACK CURSE Endless Wound. But there are so many other great bands in various genres: RITUAL DEATH, DARVAZA, DROWN, THE RUINS OF BEVERAST (old albums), WOLVENNEST, THOU ART LORD (Eosforos), MACABRE OMEN, VARATHRON, NECROMANTIA, SAMAEL, CELTIC FROST, MGLA, ORANSSI PAZUZU, DARKSPACE, TEITANBLOOD, URFAUST, PARADISE LOST, PESTILENCE, DEATH, EDGE OF SANITY, BOLZER, BATHORY, ANGELCORPSE, CONCRETE WINDS, KRYPTS, MARE… Give me 2 more pages and I’ll write you an essay!
Anything you would like to add?
Thank you for doing the very first LHAÄD interview. I advise anyone who’s willing to check out LHAÄD and some of my other bands to visit the pages of The Nox Entity, being https://www.facebook.com/thenoxentity and https://www.facebook.com/thenoxentity.