Interview: Grave Miasma (2020) / From The Bowels Of Perdition

Conversation with

Grave Miasma

While determining whether a certain contemporary death metal band is worth investing some of your precious time into listening to their music or not, do you have a certain standard or a set of mandatory requirements by which you make that assessment?

Y: For me, death metal should always be closely associated with its roots deriving from heavy and thrash metal where the focus of composition should centre around riffs. This in most case gives any band within the genre their character and personality. A large number of bands I have encountered lately have seemingly lost touch of this art, perhaps overly compensating by creating an atmosphere in place, which is something I can appreciate, but only to an extent.

Was your inclination to address the most substantial existential questions through music a consequence of one particular event or experience from your adolescent life or did that disposition take a bit longer to develop? What feeds that disposition these days?

Y: I can’t recall one definitive moment in my early life which contemplated the length of life and meaning of death. Affirmation can perhaps be granted at the journey’s end rather than following the first call of the grave. What inspires me most these days are visits to ruins of cities and settlements which hosted bizarre rites, or the landscapes where no signs of civilisation are found.

Do you study and practice occultism in your everyday life or do you just admire it from afar, by dealing with it exclusively through music?

Y: This categorisation could lead to broad interpretation and therefore I will attempt to answer without being too personal. There are no phenomena from afar, but only a desire and compulsion to understand from those zealous enough to penetrate mystery, and turn suspicious intuition into experience. The musical aspect of my exploration is a method to convey what cannot be confined to words, and as an output for such to be channelled.

According to one of your previous interviews, Death’s Meditative Trance, the opening track on Odori Sepulcrorum, was written after a drug-induced near death experience. I immensely respect you for discussing such a delicate matter so openly, by admitting your fondness of psychoactive substances, for it is well known that musicians seldom make such confessions. That being said, do you use drugs regularly and are they a necessary ingredient to every Grave Miasma song?

Y: Distinguishable here are drugs of the party kind and those of mind penetration and expansion. The latter are certainly favoured from my point of view, as sessions involving these nectars are almost sacramental in their nature, and therefore do not occur too frequently. Some material you will hear on our recordings will have been written whilst under chemical intoxication, or in the immediate aftermath. But generally, whilst these heighten the intuitional capacities of composition, they certainly inhibit technicality and thus are not necessary to the writing of every track. Moreover, the teachings imparted whilst on substances are certainly enduring even if slipping back into the routine of daily life.

Do you ever think about the consequences such a lifestyle could have in the long run?

Y: Psychedelic usage is one facet of our lives, and not a lifestyle. And taking that into consideration, many who have dabbled with such drugs to a far more serious degree have continued their spiritual paths using drugs as a mere gateway to higher pursuits. May life perpetuate with the seeking of earthly and unearthly spiritual truth before the ultimate truth dawns with the radiant light of the end.

There is also a notion that fondness for drugs of any kind always reflects a certain weakness of character and one’s inability to cope with the harshness of life and reality, as they always provide an escape and never a confrontation.

Y: I can only disagree here, unless the extent of use turns one into a slave to the substance through metabolic or mental deterioration. It is also important to recognise the power of psychedelics, by mentally and physically preparing for such journeys, and not treating them as a recreational activity. I do not see psychoactive drugs as an escape, but rather an intensifier and projector which unlock perception, contributing to the shedding of skin, chiselling our path. I find many other far more accepted activities in life to be more akin to escapism, particularly habitual alcohol intake.

Is there anything about raw recordings, devoid of perfection of any sort, that makes them intrinsically more legitimate, more artistic or at least more appealing than impeccable sounding ones, that strive to be flawless both in terms of production values and technical proficiency of musicians?

Y: The general perception amongst underground enthusiasts sees technicality for its own sake as being superfluous to artistic vision, and that is presumably why raw recordings with ropey playing are far more accepted than in mainstream circles. However, in over 20 years of being into underground metal, my enthusiasm for a new discovery is at its peak when coming across a bestial recording of chest pounding intensity.

Do you feel content living in a city like London? Is being permanently surrounded by technology and other distractions of modern living something you find irritating or do you actually enjoy it?

Y: Living in London is not congruent with my general idealised preference for living in more isolated surroundings. Having said this, I do not shut myself off from the beneficial uses of modern technology, particularly when keeping a nuanced view regarding global current affairs.

How often do you take a day off, when you do absolutely nothing?

Y: Days when I do nothing are seldom had as the majority of my free time is utilised by working on music.

Do you react emotionally to reviews of your music, regardless if they are good or bad?

Y: We invest considerable time, energy and collective thought into working on the compositions and all layers of the elements audible on our recordings. For many bands, negative reviews may hurt, however we are more than comfortable with the work that we put into achieving our sound. If I read a negative review containing constructive criticism, this is far more illuminating than a positive review of platitudes.

Presuming that Grave Miasma, among other things, serves as a vehicle for you to acknowledge and come to terms with your inner demons, to what extent their destructiveness affects your social life and the way you deal with other people?

Y: The decaying flesh of the dead nourishes earth, feeds the worms, becoming the prana of vultures in ecstatic feasts. Death is constructive and not only destructive. Therefore, being revolved in the circle of life and death holds sway in my contemplation and daily activities, although relations with people are often not impacted upon too heavily.

There is no evidence that life as such has any higher meaning or purpose, apart from its inherent tendency to persevere on its journey from one form to another through neverending cycle of existence, as you nicely put in your previous answer. What a person can do in order to cope with a sense of hopelessness that sometimes goes along with such realisation?

Y: For such concerns I often related to the controlled folly notion espoused by Don Juan in the writings of Carlos Castaneda ˗ we’ll leave the argument about the author’s authenticity or charlatanism out of here ˗ where vanquishing the unnecessary is essential to maintaining a disposition suitable for acquiring knowledge and being plunged to the abyss. Far greater things exist than our egos, and this must also entail loosening the bonds between us and our intellect at times. We have our place on this earth, yet our astral self does not. And should that sense of hopelessness become pervasive, I reduce important matters to pieces of a puzzle or a mere game, albeit a merciless one.

With reference to states of reduced consciousness we have discussed earlier in this interview, how much the experience of being on stage and performing live affects both the songs and yourselves as performers?

Y: Becoming an active live band takes much preparation and maintenance, so trespassing within the borders of the mindset required has already taken place during the writing, rehearsing and refining process. I have found that performing songs within the live setting unleashes new energies that have not previously encountered when writing the same. Songs should be seen as living creations and it is for every band to awaken them so that they do not seem dormant. It is evident when bands go through the motions when performing live.

Are you afraid of death and how often do you think about it? Does the thought of all the pain and suffering that usually precede becoming one with infinity fill you with unease?

Y: Yes, the prelude to the end is something I think of daily. The reasons behind our finitude are legitimate reasons of fear, however I feel that the moment of death, whereby our consciousness is aware of soulside journey, should be the most beautiful ending of our earthly existence.


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