‘’I’m from Baghdad, Iraq. I formed the band back in 2005. when I (Alex Basher) and Saqer Vashkigalix met we shared the same interest in music, but we didn’t like each other at first ha-ha. Later on, we became more like brothers. the band had no name (we gave the band multiple names like Raven gothmog) we played covers for well-known bands like Mayhem, Burzum, Satanic warmaster.’’
-The History of Xathrites name:
‘’Xathrites: An Assyrian leader
Whose proper name was Phraortes
He incited the Assyrians to rebel against Darius Hystaspes
As he was defeated and slain by Vomises.
the general of Darius
At the town of Achitu.
and some say he is a demon who incites people against each other and let them kill each other.’’
Why you chose it, and its meaning ?
‘’Firstly, because Assyrians were in the great Mesopotamia (IRAQ now) and that’s where I came from. Secondly we felt that the name fits us so much, because the country was dealing with a war and people killing each other every day for a reason and for no reason so the name fit the situation incredibly back then, it expressed it all like Xathrites was present himself and caused it all.’’
Xathrites has evolved from pure to depressive black metal. Had this progression being a result of your environment or a theological / deliberate change?
‘’Yes, that’s true at first, we were planning to play Pure raw black metal and we composed a few songs in this genre but then there was this change… in our life, in our routine…. in people’s eyes….
‘’There was war, and what was it like living in a ghost city. everyday experiencing the grief of a loved one's death.”
‘’Imagine walking down the street and the change was really obvious the air was hard to breath, the sky turned grey, and the atmosphere of depression showed on every face. It was the moment that I knew that no one would ever be happy again. at this moment my vision had turned black and white and I focused all my sadness, hate, grief and depression into my music, the riffs sounded more doomy and sad, the lyrics talked about the theme I was living and that was the change from Pure Black metal to Depressive Black metal.
Does your geographical location affect your music? Or are your themes more universal?
‘’I wouldn’t say that the geographical location affects my music, but I would say the environment and lifestyle I lived shaped my music style. even though I made 1 song in the oriental style and it was called (Destruction of the humanity).
‘’And to give you a clear answer, our music theme is something original that combine a lot of styles and feelings, and what distinguishes us from other bands is that we wrote each word from the bottom of our heart, and that’s why people feel like we deeply touch their hearts when they listen to us. because it was words written by someone who felt and faced each one of them and trying to make it feel better by sharing his feelings through musical phrases. so no, it doesn’t affect us really. we are all about what we feel and how express it’’
Why do you consider Hope is a Mental Illness?
‘’Because what’s the benefit of hope if you were born to be controlled. you have no power over your future or your life in general. you can be hated or treated like shit for where you were born, your colour, your sexuality or even your gender. chances and opportunities can be limited because of a war between two countries, and you have no hand in it. Your life options are just the result of politician’s war.’’
‘’Why would you hope when you know that every chance you ever dreamed of was taken from you right in front of your eyes. why would I hope that tomorrow is going to be better, when days became the same? Why would I want to be with someone forever when forever doesn’t last very long….? Hope is the disease that we use to keep lying to ourselves, that everything going to be okay. when the same thing is happening again and again. people say that they want to change the world, but they make it worse, so I decided that hope is a mental illness, I don’t want in my life anymore.’’
Is there a cure?
‘’Like any disease of course there is a cure, but again -is it in our hands? I don’t think so. the world is sick, they go on the media everyday smiling and waving like penguins in a circus show. pretending that there are no hungry no poor in the world, that everyone is getting their chances in life equally, that everyone gets to choose who they turn out to be if they work hard enough. and that’s the trick to keep the big wheel moving. the modern slavery at its glory that is what we witness every day.’’
‘’So, the cure is to clean up our world from every parasite in power, that controls everyone and everything. which would turn our world into some kind of utopia, but that wouldn’t be life in its natural form.’’
It's a bold statement to title your album….
‘’Yes, almost all of my lyrics are a way to share my feelings, thoughts, and the demons that fight inside my head.
‘’It’s a way to talk about how I feel, and what I see in this filthy world instead of crying on someone’s shoulder.
‘’also, Music lasts forever so it’s a good way to mark my words and share them with people on how this world can tear you down for no reason.’
Are you concerned your lyrics will be misinterpreted?
“Yes, it happens that people may think, that my lyrics and music are a way to motivate them be depressed or may think of suicide. which is very wrong, my intention here in this music and these lyrics to open up people’s eyes to see the world’s reality and let them know that they are not alone, and there are a lot of people who feel the same way.
‘’There is nothing wrong about being depressed or feeling that the world is cruel and intense.
‘’It’s totally fine, so I talked about a lot of things that people might have faced or felt. I’m just here to feel whatever they are going through, and make sure that everyone listens to these people and not be bothered by them and help them instead….’’
‘’I’ll take you on a tour on how I compose my songs. first, I select a topic then I start imagining the big picture of the song, imagining the feelings and the vision I have and turn it into a story inside my head.
‘’Then I start imagining how the music will be for the background of this story, and how the music will change along with the events. how it will touch the nerves of the listener to make them feel what I’m imagining.
“Then I start writing the riffs, layers and recording the whole song. then I start writing down the story I had in mind and forge into lyrics that totally fit the music I recorded. sometimes I make a few changes in the melody of the vocal or change a few words to make everything sound better and in the shape and style I wanted.’’
The topics on your album are intensely personal is it hard to share them?
‘’Yes, most of them are personal feelings, and yes it was hard to share them at first. but by time I felt that our fans are more like a family to me. so, it’s okay to share with them these thoughts that they also feel. so, I learned to share with them my vision and thoughts and feelings because now they understand that they are not the black sheep anymore. and there is music that feels their pain and tells the world how these people think. so, it was a long process to go through, but at the end I learned how to do it.’’
Do they come from personal experience? Your surroundings?
‘’I would say both, there are a lot of life events and experiences we have been through had inspired our music and lyrics. like living in a war, civil war, hate, death of the loved ones, watching the whole world against you, being controlled by the system, the society we were living in, traveling to many other countries trying to find peace and a new life to start with, being alone in new places, depression, and a lot more events that had happened helped to shape the lyrics and music. so, I would say it’s a combination between personal and surrounding experiences.’’
It's been quite a delay between albums, and you endured hardships to get it released?
‘’Yes, it took us 7 years to release this Album and I will share with you the reasons why. as you know it's so risky and hard to play this kind of music due to the situation that my country faces and I will mention just a few things that's making it hard.’’
‘’It’s so hard to find good instruments and devices to record with, and if found it would be 10 times more expensive to buy from Iraq than the rest of the world.’’
‘’There is actually 0 labels and 0 sponsors for any kind of rock/metal music and there are 0 live shows.’’
‘’You may face aggression from the society you are living in (not being bullied), but no you may end up getting shot and die or getting kidnapped.’’
‘’Most of international labels won't accept you because your fan base in your country is almost 0 and your country doesn't have any shows or people who pay for metal/rock music.’’
‘’It’s like you don’t exist in the world or on the map.’’
‘’We are not settled at one place, I wish if we had a home country and a stable life and as a band it's not easy for us to get together each one of us lives in a different country. ‘’
‘’The album was home recorded by very basic gear as we don't have access to a professional studio and don't have enough financial support to buy proper gear, so I had to use what I have to give the fans the best material I could get from what I have.’’
‘’So basically, I almost do everything on my own. including brainstorming for new ideas, working on social media, composing every instrument as well as recording. alongside having a job to make a living and to support the band.’’
Does it take a long time to compose a song considering all the layers within your music?
‘’I’ll tell you something very interesting happened to me. once I had dreamed about playing a song, then I woke to write it as a full song it was one of the amazing experiences that ever happened to me.’’
‘’I don’t write random riffs and try to make it a full song, each song was written is a piece that’s telling a story I wrote by music.’’
‘’I give each layer the time it needs and make sure it sounds the way I want, I don’t follow any rules to sound like stereotype band or try to sound exactly like any other band. All the sounds and layers I made for Xathrites was originally influenced by our unique music style that reflects our vision.
As a duo does it allow you to be more focused and do you both share musical responsibilities?
‘’To be honest he helped a lot, so it allowed me to focus more on composing and writing new songs. he did a lot of work on mixing and mastering video production on the last album “Hope Is A Mental Illness”. also, he recorded his vocal parts professionally.’’
Is DSBM a suitable description for your music and lyrics and is it the only possible outlet for your emotions?
‘’At the moment DSBM was a good description for my music and lyrics even though that I added a lot of new ideas for the genre, but I don’t think it will suit the coming soon material I’m working on. I can’t focus on only one genre when there are a lot of feelings need to be described in different mood. I don’t want to rush it and choose a specific genre for my music but as my previous work yes, they were purely DSBM mixed with the great influence of Xathrites. but some of the new material I’m writing now may not sound very DSBM but that doesn’t mean I will not make more DSBM songs, but I feel like at this moment the sound for the new material needs to be little bit different than the pure DSBM but they will sound a mixture between a lot of genres like ( DSBM, Post metal, shoe-gaze, Atmospheric black metal, Melodic Death/Doom Metal )’’
What drew you to black Metal originally and how do you think you have added to its mythos?
“’I loved how black metal is like a gate to take out all your anger, hate, sadness, and depression with music. it’s like the microphone of freedom that gives you the right to say what you feel and not caring whether people will hate or love it because it’s your vision of the environment or the life you are living so you are the only one who can write it down with no pressure.’’
how do you think you have added to its mythos?
‘’we showed the whole world that anyone from anywhere can play black metal and can send their message by this music. which lead to a big inspiration for people who live in countries that black metal music is not common, or it’s forbidden to play this kind of music there. which will lead to acceptance from the society by time.
‘’Also by our music composition and the instruments layers we added to this genre like adding a violin to a song or mixing between the darkness of black metal with clean vocals and the original shape of Xathrites music that many bands was inspired by.
Why is it still so vital and is it more of a mindset than a musical style now?
‘’I don’t think it’s just now, and it’s not just exclusive to DSBM. it has always been a mindset not only about the style. I mean you will always find people who are in it for the hook up, so they do the style. but real metal fans in general are about being a big family dressed in black. so, they renounce their race, nationality and gender. it’s all about equality and unity.’’
How can darkness be enlightened?
‘’As i was asking in my lyrics could this darkness be enlightened?
“Yeah I don’t see why not. when life is filled with love, peace, and joy. the darkness surely can be enlightened. in the absence of love and trust the world turns in this gloomy place that’s out of colours. when it happens and you get connected to your loved ones and your soulmate, your darkness fades and your start seeing the world in a totally different way. ‘’
Failed attempt Certificate. Is it difficult to express such intentions and have you been able to use it as a healing motivator?
“Of course, it’s not easy confessing of failure, but that’s what we all need to do in order to get our shit together. and start fixing what went wrong with us. so, the big idea behind this song is to start with yourself to make the world a better place.’
DSBM is a very particular genre. Do you think it will grow or should it stay in the shadows?
“I think it should grow to let the world know that there are people suffering and they should feel their pain, help them and give these musicians a chance to grow. so, they can feel that they did what they did their music for. but if it should grow by turning into a trend, then I would rather for it to stay in the shadows because this music was made by blood and suffering so no need for the media to make some t-shirts in H&M for their own good.
“I always listen to a lot of bands that comes from variety of genres like depressive black metal, black metal, doom metal, post black metal, death metal, post rock, and shoe-gaze, even classic music has influenced us.’’
“There are bands that influenced us like dark throne, Burzum, mayhem, satanic war master, Marduk, nocturnal depression, silencer, shining, forgotten tomb.’’
“So, our music is a mixture of many influences and that what makes it unique.’’
Is Xathrites all consuming?
‘’Ï work as a dentist. and I spend the rest of my time working on Xathrites material.’’
‘’I consider Xathrites a full time job because I spend too much time working on it as I’m the only one who does everything in the band starting from composing, mixing, recording, mastering to the pages managing and sales. I even don’t spend any money I get from Xathrites for myself or for my living. all the money I get from Xathrites sales goes back to the band.’’
Should we continue to care or are we condemned to falsities?
‘’I think we should always be curious about the world around us but caring has extents. depends on what am I caring about, what it’s worth to me. but also keep questioning everything not just oppose everything because it has become a lifestyle. it’s the silver lining of wisdom here.’’
“Right now, I’m working on a new album that will be released in 2021, it will be a big step forward for Xathrites future. and it will contain a lot of new work and an amazing music composition. it’s kind of different from the previous work of Xathrites, it has a new tone and a new style of playing, different type of lyrics. ‘’
‘’I’m not 100% sure yet but the lyrics may be discussing the psychologies of humans and how it affects the human being, this time it won’t be straight forward discussing the problem. It will be more like a story that you will be able to visualize and feel about an event or situation for a psychopath suffering the condition.’’
‘’it’s a little bit complicated to describe what’s on my mind at the moment, but I’m sure you will be able to judge very soon. the music will be more melodic and sad riffs that will take you through the journey of the story, you will be able to close your eyes and enjoy the music with the lyrics and be able to visualize it with your mind and feel each part like it’s happening in-front of your eyes.’’
‘’There were few talks about going on a tour but due to the lack of members and my situation for holding Iraqi passport it’s kinda hard. most of countries refuse to give a traveling visa for Iraqis due to the situation of my country which makes me feel like I’m living in a prison but I’m still working on a way to give the fans what they want but maybe when I get settled down in a good place and have members I will go for a tour.’’
-YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/c/Xathrites/
As we mentioned in every answer of our questions, and explained what we are, what we stand for and our circumstances. It's not easy doing what we are doing were we are from. It is a huge battle keeping this band up and running.
Lately I have settled down and I'm working on Xathrites home studio. unfortunately, I didn’t finish it due to the lack of money, so right now I’m accepting donations via PayPal to finish the studio for Xathrites.
PayPal account: https://paypal.me/AlexBasherXath?locale.x=en_US
PayPal email: Xathrites@gmail.com