Interview: Feral Lord (2021) | From The Bowels Of Perdition

Conversation with

Feral Lord

Not only that the royalties Crimson King and Feral Lord feel like some distant relatives, it’s also impossible to ignore the similarity between the titles In The Realm Of The Feral Lord and In The Court Of The Crimson King. Would it be fair to say that Purity Of Corruption, while being a completely different beast aesthetically, is just another manifestation of the same let’s not conform to any stereotype attitude King Crimson have always been known for? Does Feral Lord owe at least some part of its identity to prog rock and that particular musical mindset?

Nythroth: That is an interesting assertion, and while I did not consciously think of King Crimson when creating the album title I definitely must have done so subconsciously. I think all of my guitar playing that I do in any of my bands has a lot to owe to Fripp and King Crimson. He was one of the few people I heard as a kid that was doing something really different on guitar that I had never heard before. He pushed me into music and guitar playing being something to push ever onward, ever forward, into uncharted territories. As someone who listens to a lot of music, the stuff that really stands out to me is musicians who are doing something I have not heard before done in that manner. Every album I do I try to push myself into something that I have not done before, and to make people think about what is possible to create on conventional instruments.

Cave Ritual: I do own an extensive amount of their albums, but any influence I might have taken was more from a subconscious point than from any active thought to do so.

There are a couple of interesting introspective assessments of Purity Of Corruption on your official website that I feel are worth delving deeper into. When you say that your music is an examination of the beauty in darkness, what does that mean exactly? Do you see darkness and beauty as two different sides of the same coin?

Nythroth: All of nature around us has abundant darkness and terrifying glory in its dark aspects ˗ the wolf feeding on its prey, the full moon bearing down sinister energy, the bat flying through the night, the spider mother weaving its web. I think us as humans have inherent light and dark aspects, and that both sides are inherently beautiful and powerful. Problems arise when people cannot fully incorporate both sides of themselves. This is when they show one face to the world and act out in negative and destructive impulses when people are not looking. Not only do I think darkness and beauty are two sides of the same coin, I think that part of higher thinking is acknowledging for any truth the opposite is also true. So the examination of beauty in darkness would mean to acknowledge our true glorious and primal side of ourselves that knows no boundaries, cares not what anyone thinks, and will survive at any cost.

Would you say that the beauty of your music is a matter of sound or a matter of atmosphere?

Nythroth: Well, sound creates that atmosphere of a piece, the atmosphere is just the general feeling created by the sounds. There is always sound everywhere, and varying degrees of atmosphere based on the emotional intensity of the sound. I recently read somewhere there is a room somewhere in the Eastern US with no sound at all, and that people go into a psychotic state soon after entering. The longest someone has lasted is 30 minutes.

Cave Ritual: Perhaps the beauty is the rests in between or well after the album is over and you reflect on what you just experienced.

In a recent Grave Miasma interview their frontman said that all metal should bring about feelings of power, frightful abandon, and strength, and that therefore he held great disdain for depressive black metal. When you say that strength in evil is what fuels your music, do you see the correlation between those two sentiments?

Nythroth: I definitely see a strong correlation in his statement above with the way that I approach creating metal music. Strength in evil is the true power of acknowledging every aspect of your existence, your dark aspects and light, and realizing your power in this world based on all that you are and what you can do, and that no one will hold you back or get in your way. All metal music I write calls on people to acknowledge their true power that is locked within for most and unleash it on the world. I think frightful abandon is extremely important as well because while writing music I try to let the forces work through me and almost write the song themselves. It is almost improvisational, and then I use my rational mind a bit to structure it into a song in the end. I think that most people listen to metal for a release from this mundane reality and to feel that power and strength in a world where they maybe do not feel like that.

Cave Ritual: I will just say music should evoke an emotional response. Be it power and strength, or sorrow and melancholy. I’ve drummed for a number of depressive black metal projects and I honestly do understand the dislike for the genre as a whole, but if I can appreciate what I’m going to work on then so be it. So I guess ultimately I’d say yes, I feel the same, but not so absolutely hardlined to where there is no other option.

Feral Lord Interview

One could argue that, for a dissonant black metal band, you rely heavily on melody and structure. Everything seems to be happening for a reason in your music, it doesn’t seem to obscure tonal structures or ignore conventional harmonies. How would you explain that apparent contradiction?

Nythroth: Just because something is dissonant doesn’t mean it needs to be random notes with no purpose or song structure whatsoever. Every dissonance I use is purposeful to evoke a certain feeling in the piece, and it is all placed for a reason. To acknowledge it from a music theory perspective would see all 12 notes being used constantly with sharping and flatting of anything necessary to create a certain horrific, angry, or uneasy feeling. However, like you said, there are conventional techniques being used to resolve things and change keys in a coherent and pleasing manner. There are definitely not conventional verse-chorus methods being used, but there are motifs that are returned to in a classical sense and circular themes that end the same way a song begins. It is not dissonance for dissonance’s sake, just a lot of harsh and contrasting notes to create a certain feeling. All metal uses dissonance to a degree, but when something begins being labeled as dissonant is when it uses it constantly and to degrees beyond what other bands use.

The interaction between the lead and rhythm guitars on Purity Of Corruption is literally a thing of beauty, with the primal, savage riffs on the one hand, and the melodic, evocative, almost sentimental leads on the other. Would you say that those sonic contrasts are the very essence of your music and that one wouldn’t make sense without the other?

Nythroth: I think that shows the beauty in darkness aspect of the material, in the base animalistic primal power and fury, as well as the thoughtful and majestic aspect of the leads. It shows all those aspects of ourselves fusing into one cohesive whole. I love using leads in a melodic and atmospheric manner that is not really a solo, just blending into the music and creating a more layered and dynamic sound. That way when I do go into an actual guitar solo it can truly stand out from the rest of the track. I think that both aspects on this record are vital, and that it wouldn’t be the same if it was just the raw primal rhythm guitar riffs. Humans are different in the sense that we have this animalistic side to us which is often at odds with the side of us that is analytical and examining our place in the world. We are the most confused species on the planet, and this seeks to unite all of our aspects into one horrifying and furious whole.

With its many layers, Purity Of Corruption feels both progressive and technically undemanding at the same time, like a compromise between simplicity and depth. Was writing that kind of diverse music a matter of effort or a matter of luck?

Nythroth: For this album particularly, I opted to keep it more simple than most albums I do, with less guitar layers. Only one amp was used with rhythm tracks left and right, and then usually just one or two layered leads throughout the tracks, contrasting with other albums I have done where I layer tons of harmonies and multiple amps to create a genuine wall of sound. I think less is more was a huge aspect of this album because I wanted that raw, almost punk and black metal stripped down essence, but I also wanted to bring the more progressive and dissonant aspects at the same time. So I would say it is a matter of conscious choice rather than effort or luck.

Cave Ritual: I don’t think there was any compromise at all. On my end I pick what I think would best complement the material. And I knew the balance that was going to take place prior to tracking so I could compose my own contribution with the most care to enhance and propel the song forward.

Feral Lord Interview

As musicians with considerable experience in other bands, would you say that working as a duo offers more advantages than being in a regular band, that less is more in that regard as well? If so, what would be some of the upsides? Is it easier to establish the proper dynamics and chemistry when fewer people are involved?

Nythroth: For me, a duo is much easier and more creatively powerful than a full band. For me and Cave Ritual, there are never any disagreements over the sound of an album, and we are able to just focus on our respective instruments we are best at and just go for it. We each take vocal duties on whichever album our vocals are best suited for. I think the more people in a project, the more potential disagreements there are, and the harder it is to create something with all of the differing opinions. Also, since I wrote all of the guitar parts, it is very easy for me to create the bass and lead segments knowing where the song needs to go. Even in my local band here in Los Angeles that plays live, I write all the songs as a duo with the drummer, and then teach our other guitarist and bassist for live material.

Cave Ritual: A duo I think is the best and most complete direct to a sound one will want to achieve, if not going solo itself. The check and balance for bands with two members is honestly I think a tad more superior than just going solo knowing both of us do work independently from each other in respective projects. But being a member of multiple bands of five plus people, the progress drags down on all fronts as far as writing or lack of writing. Also, when tracking, it’s so much easier with the smallest amount of people involved which, yes, a single person band is easier to track but being able to hand off to only one other person for their ultimate contribution is probably the best overall. The more involved in my experience will extend any tracking or mixing indefinitely.

Feral Lord seems to be honouring its influences and struggling to pull away from them at the same time. Would you say that is a fair assessment?

Nythroth: I’d say that it is definitely a fair assessment. Black metal as a whole wouldn’t exist without a plethora of influences, and dissonant black and death metal owes a lot to certain influences pushing the genre forward at various times. However, like I stated earlier, the music that interests me are not copycats but things that sound truly different and unique, so I would say with both of these elements your assertion is definitely correct.

Cave Ritual: What more can I say than that, for me, I am the sum of my influences while trying at the same time to make something at least unique enough to not be written off as a direct xerox of another band.

Purity Of Corruption isn’t the most accessible effort, due in no small part to the album’s production. How much effort, attention to detail, and creative energy went into it, and do you see the production as an integral part of the record?

Nythroth: I think production can have a large aspect of how a record sounds and feels to listen to. But at the same time, I have always felt that song quality is most important, and that a well produced shitty song is just a polished turd. I listen to a lot of raw black metal, punk, grind, and death metal that was probably recorded in someone’s garage but the song quality is what makes it worthwhile and amazing, and sometimes the limitations can work to the music’s advantage. However I have also heard other albums that were produced extremely well, and that added a lot of complexity and layers to what they were trying to achieve. I produce every album differently based on what sound and atmosphere I want the listener to hear. For this one, I wanted a very raw and primal sound as the basis of the production and then the melodic elements can come through over the top for the listener. I think black metal started as a genre that was very raw and unproduced, and that is something that I hold onto.

Cave Ritual: With many of our projects, I always know what I want to hear and what I want to achieve other than what I am incapable of doing. I prefer a more organic, live sound than anything that I would deem plastic. Yes, some of those albums are great but it’s because the songwriting comes through, and I can easily appreciate them.

Considering that there has never been more corruption and hypocrisy around, both in terms of the public discourse and the way people interact between themselves in their private spheres, is the album title Purity Of Corruption perhaps a reference to the treacherous contemporary social climate as well, among other things?

Nythroth: I think this theme has to do more with the people who have broken away from this societal bullshit, who may have been through a lot of dark things, and been ostracised by society, but who knows who they truly are and have seen such darkness to where they know what is true and real to them, and can’t be duped by the stupidity we see so abundant today. They may be labeled as corrupt by the majority, but they know inside that they are actually pure. Whereas the normal people pushing the agendas of the government, pointing fingers at others, spreading negativity, and helping to further whatever horrific new age we are about to enter will never admit a single fault about their being and will never admit to any kind of corruption within themselves.

Feral Lord Interview

Could you say something about the thought process that preceded settling on Feral Lord as the most adequate name for a band?

Nyhtroth: I think the Feral Lord is a literal deity, demigod, or demon I created in my mind as a wild king of sorts, an entity that can be tapped into at any times and is full of power, creativity, reckless abandon, violence, sexual fury, and much more, similar to aspects of Loki, Veles, Pan, or countless other gods of ancient history. I think Feral Lord stands for one finding power in all of the wild and untamed essences of their being.

When you take a look at the underground extreme metal scene today, what are some of the bands that you feel are producing some truly unique and worthwhile music, that you are striving to hopefully equal or exceed down the line?

Nythroth: There are so many, I find new bands almost every single day that truly stick out from the herd and are pushing in a new way that has not been done in exactly that manner before, or are creating a very strong and powerful feeling that only they could do. All I can speak upon is probably the last few new albums I have listened to or bought. Sermon Of Flames, a fellow band on I, Voidhanger Records really blew me away with their utter ferocity and power. Also, the tribal feeling on the new album by Tumba De Carne really impressed me. I have also been listening to a good bit of Imperial Triumphant, their jazz influenced sound is truly entertaining and powerful. I also recently bought the newest vinyl from Suxperion and it is some truly strange, ritualistic, and spaced-out death metal. However, I must say I still listen to old music just as much as the new stuff, and I am still discovering things every day.

Cave Ritual: I on average discover probably ten new bands a week and check them all out, and if I like immediately what they do I will purchase or preorder their work. I don’t keep any sort of tally of what is awesome currently. It’s more of what is awesome at this moment, or what I want to listen to genre-wise. During the course of my day I can go to some slushwave vaporware, to raw powerviolence, to power electronics, to old school death metal, to second or first wave worship black metal, right back to new wave and deathrock. It is a draw and whatever I’m listening to might inspire me to share that. Including multiple old bands that I will listen to in these binges. Anything from classical to extremity is on the table, and I like and collect.

One reviewer described your music as an embodiment of freneticism and for some reason that concise definition stuck with me. How would you explain what the band is all about in a similar manner, if you were to use only two or three words?

Nythroth: Unhinged fury.

What justifies the existence of Acausal Intrusion, considering that its weirdness is fairly similar to that of Feral Lord? Are both bands equally important to you or do you see one of them as the main priority and the other as a side project?

Nythroth: We have much more bands than just Acausal Intrusion, and all projects are an outlet of a certain kind of idea and aspect of our musical vocabulary. With us as a duo, we are in Acausal Intrusion, Psionic Madness, Feral Lord, Obsidian Hooves, Hymn, Slog, Burial Curse, and countless others. I personally am in my solo band Nothing Is Real, my local band Moldering Vibration, and countless other projects I have helped out with. My true passion on this earth is to create music, and there is so much to express in music that multiple projects is necessary to keep the flame burning and express as much as possible. There is much more to come.

Cave Ritual: There is no side project in my eyes in anything I do. I devote the same amount of energy and effort to everything I do. I know not everyone can comprehend that or string together enough riffs to make a decent EP release and then be able to release it. But directly to address the direct question. They are totally separate entities and are treated with the most respect of composition towards each. There is no such thing as leftover or throwaway riffs to be recycled. Each is brand newborn from the mindwell of which it originated from.

 

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