Horns Of Domination
Considering that your first demo was recorded back in 2015 and that the same two songs that now serve as the prologue and epilogue to Where Voices Leave No Echo had already been written by that time, would it be fair to assume that you spent at least six years writing and refining this album? Were you at any point at the brink of losing your mind, polishing the same six songs for such a long time, and how did you manage to go through it without getting completely burnt out?
HoD: Actually that was not the case. We already recorded the drums in early 2018, however after that D.P. and C.G. were more or less completely clamped in other band activities, which made it difficult to concentrate on the album. The essential work on the album was done in 2020, from there it took another year for artwork, layout, mastering and the current lead times at pressing plants also did their share. All songs had been written in the first months after the band’s formation back in 2014/2015 and were performed live in their raw versions since then. Somehow we felt that the songs comprise a deeper level of emotions, and D.P. produced the songs in an appropriate way. We have to say that our working philosophy is to let every band member have his artistic freedom. This makes it sometimes harder to bring everything together, but on the other hand this is the best representation of each member and potentially results in something unique. Concerning your last question, being burnt out or exhausted is indeed real at some points if you take something seriously.
How early in the songwriting process did you know that you would use those two demo songs as the opening and closing chapters of this album? Were you aware of that already when you demoed them back in 2015?
HoD: We play the songs in this specific order also at our live shows, so there was no discussion about the tracklist besides the additional instrumentals. The demo was a very raw rehearsal room recording, so it was absolutely justified to release them in a proper version.
The front cover of Where Voices Leave No Echo features an image of souls leaving or getting sucked into something, it’s hard to say. Is that something a place where voices leave no echo the album title refers to? Would you care to explain what are we looking at?
HoD: That would be a question for Alex Morsch from Discordia Graphics, who did the artwork and illustrations for the album. The cover art is basically his interpretation of the album title.
If one was to add a question mark at the end of the album title and turn that statement into a question, would you be able to give a satisfying answer to that question? What or where exactly is the place where voices leave no echo, were you referring to something material or metaphorical with that title?
HoD: We could give a long list of answers. First of all, the place is or could be an endless space. Now we could look at endless meta-levels of the space. Do our words and thoughts really leave an echo in the world or in others? Or do we just talk and in the end say nothing? Sometimes it feels like everything we say is empty just like everything we do. Our existence has a negative impact on our planet, that’s for sure. But do we have an impact on existence at all?
Is the opening song on the record, No Beyond (For No One), a stand against conventional spirituality and organized religion, or a bitter sentiment directed at the human race as a whole that you feel is unworthy of salvation, even if there was one?
HoD: Even if there was salvation, none would be worthy. But the clear meaning of this song is that there is no life after life. Actually, more people should ask themselves if there is a life before death? The moment you read this is gone, your next breath is gone. We don’t have a second chance. Everything is now and gone, plain and unpleasant simple.
Would it be fair to say that, underneath its sonic surface, your music has spiritual, ideological, or philosophical layers? Are there any beliefs or principles that the band stands behind, with music being barely the means of expressing them, or is the most important thing about your music the music itself?
HoD: Everything we do musically reflects ourselves. We don’t walk through life without any purpose or intention. The experiences we made in the past influence our present, also how we work and handle things as a band. The higher ideology behind Horns Of Domination, if you want to call it like that, is not giving a fuck about what we should do as a band. But that’s only secondary, making music that we like and feel is prior to everything.
The transition from Vanish to Untamed is flawless, they work perfectly next to each other and almost feel like the same song. Have you at any point entertained the idea to make the former an intro to the latter?
HoD: No, Untamed was always a straightforward track for us. But it’s nice to hear that the song order on the album works.
What made you think that Vanish would be a fitting title for that short acoustic instrumental piece?
HoD: It is kind of a filigree short piece and displays an emotion of disappearing and sadness.
How did Cold Breath come about and what exactly is the purpose of those 70 seconds of subdued noise?
HoD: It initiates the B side of the album. The ambient aspect was always a part of Horns Of Domination from very early on, especially at live shows, where we use samples and even older tracks of our non-metal solo projects as transitions between some songs.
The eponymous track Where Voices Leave No Echo seems to be slightly less angry than the rest of the album and it showcases your arguably more sentimental side. Would you subscribe to that notion?
HoD: Where Voices Leave No Echo always had some kind of graceful feeling. However, it is difficult to speak about your own songs or music in that way, because as an artist you sometimes can’t distance yourself enough from your work. But yes, it’s one of the more melodic tracks on the album.
On Encyclopaedia Metallum website, in the similar artists section, the fans voted Bølzer as the only reference to your sound. Could you see where that sentiment comes from, do you also think that there are enough similarities between you and the Swiss attraction to justify that comparison?
HoD: To be honest we don’t think that the album sounds like Bølzer. But we like them and for sure they had an impact on the black/death metal scene. Some reviews also draw comparisons to bands we actually never listen to, which is quite interesting. In the end, it is always just a vague hint for the listener which direction you can expect from a band.
If you were to name a few similar artists that should provide some basic orientation for the fans and help them understand who you are and where do you come from musically, which are some of the mandatory ones that list wouldn’t make much sense without?
HoD: Actually we are influenced by so many genres and bands that we could not pick just one or two bands. We grew up with the ’90s doom/sludge/punk/black metal scenes, but also listened to and were active in completely other music genres. The approach of intense live shows surely comes more from grindcore or war metal spirit. Magic and brutality.
Given your musical background in bands like Excoriate, Venenum, or Krater, is Horns Of Domination in any way, shape, or form tied to those bands? Would you say that there is a continuity between Horns Of Domination and any of them, or is the band its own entity entirely, without predecessors or successors, that doesn’t look to follow in anyone’s footsteps and hopes not to be followed by anyone as well?
HoD: You’re touching a sore point there. Sometimes we’re really bored of those references. Besides the fact that these are our past or current bands, they don’t have an impact on us. Horns Of Domination stands on its own. When we started the band everything fell into place very naturally and with an unspoken mutual understanding of the sound. The output of Horns Of Domination is completely tied to the three individuals and their share of musicality brought into this endeavour. If one of us leaves the band, Horns Of Domination is also bereft of its raison d’être.
As the title of one of the songs on this album suggests, we all die in solitude. That said, do you believe that we also all live in solitude and that we’re always alone, in our heads, with our thoughts, even when we are in the company of other people?
HoD: That’s a question everybody has to answer on their own. Sometimes we feel connected to others and in those moments, you could say, we are not alone. But in our minds, we are all isolated and struggle with our own demons. No one can really help you with that. We always fight for ourselves, just like we breathe for ourselves. It begins when you’re born and you have to take the first breath, and ends ugly in a deathbed, or under other vile circumstances, where you fight for that last breath and heartbeat. Maybe someone is giving you solace in those last days and seconds, but for some, even the closest family members are just strangers.
Do you still rehearse at Rehearsal Hell and what about that space earned it such a half-silly half-sinister nickname? Does it become hell only when you enter it and start to play, or is there something about the interior of that place that makes it terrifying regardless?
HoD: We had no firm rehearsal room during the last years because it made no sense to us after the tracks were written. The hell where we recorded the demo wasn’t that bad, it was kind of an internal joke based on our antipathy towards regular rehearsals.
Sepulchral Voice Records is very likely one of the most demanding extreme music labels around, with a roster comprised of only a handful of universally beloved bands whose stocks in the underground couldn’t possibly get much higher than they already are. Consequently, some of the label’s eminence inevitably rubs off on each of their new signings, which are granted few and far between. Would you subscribe to that notion and have you already felt some of those benefits?
HoD: The benefit of working with Sepulchral Voice Records is that it’s not a label driven by a profit motive. It’s like an entity comprised of like-minded individuals with their unique and variegated approach towards dark death metal or so-called extreme metal. We are honoured and humbled to be a part of it.
What kind of person is Thomas Pietzsch and do you, at this point, see him more as a friend or a label owner, that you merely do business with? What about him do you admire the most and what in your opinion is the secret of the success he’s been having with Sepulchral Voice?
HoD: Thomas is a dedicated maniac who always wants the best for his bands and he surely is more than just a business partner. If he’s into something, he gives it 666%. The secret behind Sepulchral Voice Records is for sure the above mentioned network of like-minded maniacs in combination with a quality over quantity and no compromise attitude.
There are so many polarizing things happening in contemporary society and the world is slowly becoming a genuinely ugly place. How do you navigate around all that and are you even trying to? Are you the type of person that is constantly seeking to break free from reality through art and other forms of escapism, or do you tend to face the absurdity of living without any anaesthetics?
HoD: It depends. Everyone in Horns Of Domination is political, but we leave it private and integrate that influence more as an inconcrete, higher-level theme in our music. The world got more absurd in the last few years, sometimes it seems as logic and objectiveness have less place in this modern world. In the end, you have to choose how you want to live. Everyone deals with that in a different way in everyday life. Escapism is essential for every human being.
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