Metal-Roos: First of all, congratulations on the release of your 2019 album Mors Vincit Omnia. How successful has this album been for you so far? And how do you gauge this success?
For me, (and I believe I can speak on the behalf of the rest of the band for this as well) the album has been very successful. I would gauge this first and foremost on our satisfaction in regards to the final results of the material, production and packaging/presentation of the releases formats. Looking back now, I do not find anything I wish I would have done better or different on the album, which is a first for me on just about everything I have recorded on in the past.
As to “success” in what I would imagine being more common ways to gauge things, the feedback has been exceptionally good, be it reviews or just random mentions and messages that continue to pop up concerning the album.
M-R: Your first recording was in 1994 after this your band comprised of just 2 members and a drum machine, now you have 4 members in your line-up. How did all the members come together? What’s your band’s story so to speak?
I alone made the self-titled 1994 demo without anyone else involved. I worked with a guitarist on some of the follow up material when I was still living in the U.S. whom really had very little to offer and after I relocated to Europe in 1998, this ex-guitarist became more of a burden than anything, which ended up preventing any real progress with the band and the situation only got worse when he started to do some utterly despicable actions, including a (failed) attempt to claim copyrights on all the material, so he was removed from the band in 2006. From there, an E.P. was released Serpent Beneath the Skin with the first time for Crimson Moon to have a full line-up (consisting mostly of members involved in Demoncy), who were all living in Georgia at the time. In 2007, we did a small tour in the U.S. and Mexico to support the E.P.
Shortly after most of the members moved to different states in the U.S. while I remained in Germany so the line-up was close to impossible to proceed with. Following some years later with a single on a split release titled Ana Harrani Sa Alaktasa La Tarat which Vorskaath from Zemial performed drums on as a session member which was around the same time I was playing bass for Zemial while we were both living in Germany.
For Oneironaut, I went ‘back to the roots’ so to speak, and did things on my own once again, a solo project. I saw this release often referred to as a ‘comeback album’. It was material I had been working on for many years that I would take long breaks in between and I owe a lot of thanks to John from Dark Adversary Productions for pushing me to release this and standing behind the material for several years before I was motivated to complete it. It was in early 2016 when I decided to quit Melechesh, whom I was bassist/backing vocals for since 2012 and put that energy towards Crimson Moon, which looking back was one of the best decisions I feel I have made in my musical ‘career’. It was around that same time, where I got in contact with our current guitarist, Sabnoc. He saw me perform with Melechesh at Party San open air and got in touch when he realized we live very close (about 25 minutes) from each other, which is a very large coincidence on its own, beings that we both live in small Dorfs, or Villages. From there we established a very strong friendship and Sabnoc was also very helpful during the final recording phases of Oneironaut and did the re-amping of all the guitars in the recording. It was from the through combined contacts we were able to find the rest of what is the current and hands down, strongest line-up Crimson Moon has experienced. It only took me a couple of decades, but the wait paid off with the result of the currently established line-up in my opinion.
M-R: Your first live performance was in 2006, where was this? How did it feel to take the stage for the first time in 12 years after the band’s commencement? Were there any stage fears to overcome, or were you built to perform live?
This was a series of 8 shows in the US and Mexico, the first took place in Escondido, a town in Southern California close to where I grew up. It was in some kind of factory garage in an industrial area, and there was no stage. The ‘organizer’, was a complete fool so it was very close to being cancelled. The PA system was inadequate for our setup, and the opening band that was providing the backline I guess was not told that they would be providing a backline, so they showed up late (which was a normal time given the fact they were not told we would be using their backline). It was a small show, maybe 50 people due to a lack of promotion. Good response from what I recall, but easily the worst organized show I have ever experienced. It’s kind of hard to have any stage fears when performing in what felt like a backyard party, I guess the worst fear was we would have had to cancel if it wasn’t for a few helpful people that did damage repair for the organizers inept planning.
Most of that mini-tour was riddled with problems due to the aforementioned ex-guitarist who insisted on doing all the planning. The Proverbial drizzle of rain started to pour right after I had bought my flight for the U.S. which made cancelling a problematic option. The ex-guitarist had set up a “well-rehearsed line-up” (his words, not mine). Consisting of an “excellent, dedicated drummer” (who cancelled last minute because he couldn’t get time off from his work), our former keyboardist, Blood Moon Ausar who was forced to cancel due to the ex-guitarist not getting him a flight in time for rehearsal. Blood Moon was still willing to do it and capable, but the ex-guitarist insisted he had someone better that lived close by and had learned all the material so was prepared to use the week I was there before the first show to rehearse. I think it took about 5 minutes to rehearse with this guy to say, ok, we won’t be having a keyboardist on these shows. So, at that point, we had to burn drum machine tracks to a CDR for playback and a ‘keyboardist’ that could not play a single part even remotely correct. By the end of that tour a lot of evidence presented itself that the ex-guitarist was doing everything he could at the time to try to make money from the band (as he was unemployed for a lengthy period of time) and thought that would be a good way to avoid his struggles of holding any type of day job. It was shortly after this tour when he wanted to arrange some shows in Mexico, and it quickly became evident he had not learned from his mistakes, I stepped in to manage things and it became quickly evident that the only thing he was concerned about was money-related. So that escalated into the final straw, where I decided it was well beyond due time to kick him out of the band.
M-R: Crimson Moon is very occult driven, with dark and evil lyrical content. Where does this inspiration come from? Does the band have satanic or occultist beliefs or is this a theme used to amplify your sound and imagery?
The music and the whole concept of Crimson Moon, since the beginning inception, was occult driven. It is not for the image, however, it is indeed part of the image that represents the band. I don’t follow any common set of beliefs or indoctrination as far as the occult is concerned, so the lyrical content is very personal and highly metaphoric. I almost loathe the term Satanic as it’s a term with no meaning to me due to how it’s thrown around loosely by all walks of life. Usually, when I hear someone refer to themselves as a Satanist, what it tells me is that they like to follow someone’s made up ideologies so they can feel like they belong to something. I am not saying this is always the case, but more often than not, I believe it is.
For me, the writing and recording process is a ritual. It always has been and I don’t see that changing in the future. This is one of the reasons I avoid going into stagnant environments such as professional studios to record my parts and have worked in my studio for so many years. My studio has become my temple. I also have grown more reluctant to discuss my beliefs on the occult. The occult ‘scene’ in general is bloated with egos and a lot of people who tend to be more interested in showing off how many occult books they read than actually being opened to any awareness of what is involved in the occult. More often than not, these are the same people that feel the need to be part of a circle/coven/group (usually which they pay dues/donations to be part of) and end up feeling entitled and usually come across as pompous and close-minded to me.
M-R: Your band started in the USA and now resides in Germany. What was the reason for the move? And given how strong the USBM scene is at the moment, do you feel this was a good move for Crimson Moon?
I was I think 19 years old when I left the US. I felt like there was absolutely nothing there for me except Crimson Moon, and even that at the time was impossible to do anything with other than distribute and promote through the mail, most of which was going to Europe anyway. I was living in L.A. at the time and I utterly despised it. I had family in Europe and already had plans to go there and at the time as I was playing session bass live for Ancient and they had a European tour scheduled in 1998. I made a deal with Ancient that they only had to pay a one-way ticket for the tour on the conditions they got it for me some months before the tour took place. So, I parted ways with all my personal belongings except for what I could take with me on a flight and have never experienced even a brief feeling of regret since doing so.
I honestly would not consider the USBM scene strong at all. It’s definitely grown since I have left, but even so, it’s more of a scene for the kind of bestial/war/goat metal bands than anything from what I can gather. I can’t say I have enough interest or follow this kind of thing enough to even really have a strong opinion. I just can say touring and performing in the US as opposed to Europe is a world of difference.
I guess you could compare Australia to the U.S. in the fact that there are some excellent bands from both countries but spread apart so largely geographically.
M-R: Mors Vincit Omnia is the 7th release from Crimson Moon, how has your sound evolved over the years? Was this a natural and unintentional progression for the band, or something you intended on doing for artistic purposes?
It’s a huge difference to me. Back in the days when I was working with an old Yamaha RX-11 drum machine and a 4-track tape recorder. I was stuck with using what means I had to record with and always felt very limited and restricted with what I had to work with. The progression was natural but the lack of means to record it well in the past was not intentional. The sound achieved on Mors Vincit Omnia was a dream or vision I had always had in the past.
M-R: Death Conquers All is the English meaning to your latest album title Mors Vincit Omnia. How does this translate into the songs? Does the meaning go deeper throughout the themes of each track? What is the album about?
Yes, the title is expressed throughout the albums in each song specifically on the point that Death is imminent. This is covered in many aspects as to the archaic views of death such as the Roman mythology of the Parcae to the thoughts of legacy after death which are expressed in Funeral Begotten. The album is simply about death, and it was heavily inspired by several deaths that were around me that had a profound influence on me.
M-R: Mors Vincit Omnia is loaded with excellently crafted black metal, with enough distortion to create the dark ambiance, yet punchy and crushingly clear too. Tell me about the production of this album?
Thank you for that observation and compliment. This was exactly the production I have longed to achieve. The production took place in 3 different studios. Starting with the drums, which is one of the most difficult/expensive things to record properly, Blastum recorded the drums in Hybreed studios, France. This is a studio he has worked in several times and is well familiar with. We were confident he would provide a solid foundation to the recording process.
The guitars were recorded at our guitarist Sabnoc’s home studio. He has an extremely impressive collection of high-end tube amplifiers. So, we were able to test out several options to see what fit the best. In the end, we ended up going with a combination of a Bogner and Diezel amps. Two Notes audio engineering helped set us up with a torpedo live load box. This lets you record a guitar amp without the hassle of using microphones and having to blast the amp at a ridiculously loud volume to get the best results. I think anyone who has tried the Torpedo Live by Two Notes would agree that it’s ground-breaking technology for recording. The guitars were recorded with an ESP LTD EC-1000ET which is not only an excellent guitar but loaded with an evertune bridge, so that streamlines the recording process as it omits any issues with tuning or intonation.
I recorded bass, vocals, and synths at my home operated Oneironaut Studios. I borrowed some equipment for this and I think there was nothing I could have been missing to improve it whatsoever.
Finally, the mixing and mastering were done by Vladimir Uzelac at Wormhole Studios, Serbia. We looked into a few options for this, one is quite popular and commonly used (and also very expensive) but this was the correct decision for us. Vladimir not only did a stellar job but was incredible to work with. He spent hours around the clock working on things until we were satisfied and not once gave the impression that he was losing patience, drive or interest. I have worked with some studios in the past with other bands where you feel rushed and it can feel like the producers/engineers are just wanting to get the job done as quickly as possible and collect payment.
The goal was to have an aggressive, cold and dark sound but clarity in ALL the instruments. As a bassist, I hear a lot of albums that have strong production, but the bass is extremely difficult to hear without focusing so hard to listen to it you essentially have to attempt to tune out everything else.
M-R: Who are you signed with currently? Do they do everything they can to promote your music and are you happy with the feedback from media so far?
We are with Debemur Morti Productions. They have done nothing short of an excellent job with the album and the promotion. It’s an excellent label with an excellent reputation and they are very dedicated to the bands they work with. They are in large part responsible for pushing us into a new level as a band and we are eager to see how things will progress in future material with them.
M-R: You have some fantastic guest vocalists on Mors Vincit Omnia, such as Ixithra of Demoncy, Lord Angelslayer of Archgoat, Proscripter of Absu and Phaesphorus Kawir. How do you go about these collaborations? Are there any challenges to overcome?
These all came about through both a combination of personal acquaintances and respect/admiration for their work on a musical level. All the guest musicians who took part were carefully considered and utilized to benefit the overall production and atmosphere of the album.
I have seen this occur in some occasions where it can seem like the band is utilizing guest musicians more for the name and means for publicity. So, I guess that would be the only challenge to overcome in doing so for us, is to not have it come across wrongfully in that manner.
M-R: Black Metal seems to have become ‘popular’ within the last few years, whether it’s the focus of ridicule or good news – people are discussing black metal more than normal. Why do you think this is? And how important is it to your band to remain underground?
I can’t say I have noticed it becoming more popular, only certain sub-genres coming and going through a revolving door of what is currently ‘cool’ for people to listen to and buy shirts of to wear at concerts. It’s kind of funny as I was just thinking about this last night where I saw a young individual posting about pro-communist/socialist views along with a selfie of herself wearing a Darkthrone shirt. I normally don’t engage in political conversations, but did feel a small urge to ask her if she knew Varg Vikernes wrote the lyrics for As Flittermice as Satans Spys and have the strong suspicion she would have been clueless towards the question.
Another example is the sickening and growing presence of political correctness (and politics for that matter) in Black Metal. Not only is it idiotic, but it attracts idiotic responses like flies upon shit. I don’t get the logic behind most of it. If someone wears a Burzum shirt in Germany to a concert, there is a good chance they will get kicked out or denied entry, or if they are allowed in with no problems, the whole venue, and organization of the concert will be called Nazis. On the other hand, it’s completely acceptable and problem-free to wear a Dissection shirt which is kind of strange if you ask me because Jon was found guilty of killing a homosexual Algerian man, which would be called a double hate crime if it happened today. Who makes these rules of what is ok and what is not?! And how did it slip into de-evolution, back into censorship in this music after fighting to move past in with the PMRC and religious groups?
I guess the most exposure I get to the current state of things in the Black Metal scene is scrolling through my newsfeed while having a coffee. Most of it is pretty ridiculous. I think too many people get their news from Facebook and don’t bother doing any further research on it.
As far as ‘underground’ I have come to loathe that term. It’s thrown around from the mouths of people who use it as an excuse for either mediocrity or lack of professionalism. It makes me think of the typical shady concert promoter that will set up an advent, charge admission and then turns around and tell the bands ‘Sorry I can’t afford to pay you, just play for free man, support the underground’. Underground is no longer a term that is used for the opposite of ‘sell-out’.
For me, the important thing to do as a band is what we want to be doing. When you start caring about things like being underground or pleasing people, you are in the wrong style of music.
M-R: The Black Metal scene in Germany is strong, how is Crimson Moon received in your hometown and country? Would you say your largest fan base resides there?
While in my hometown, we are probably hated as we usually rehearse in my studio, haha. We have received a very good fan base in Germany that has grown quite a bit over the last few years. Our next festival this year is in the Berlin area, which is 4th time we return there since 2017. We are trying to get more shows booked outside of Germany to expand territories to perform. Germany, however, is home to a lot of good festivals and venues to perform.
Our fan base is pretty spread out, I’m just looking up the current digital albums (not including Mors Vincit Omnia) statistics and here are the current top 5 in order (based on digital streaming):
I think this is something that changes pretty quickly, and since it doesn’t cover physical sales, the new album or Bandcamp sales, it’s probably not so accurate. So ultimately, I really couldn’t tell you where our largest fan base is from.
M-R: What is your go-to music outside of Black Metal? And does any of this music inspire you when writing content for new songs?
Classical, a lot of older Heavy Metal and Classic Rock, quite a few oddball/unique bands, it’s all depending on my mood. I am sure I get inspiration from a lot of elements that are basically in everything I listen to. A good example would be the opening track Vanitas. The interlude part after the beginning of the song was a melody that came to mind while working on it and was driving me crazy because I knew it was from something else and could not figure out what. I searched and searched for where it came from and was under the strong impression that it was something very old. I was watching some TV series from India, I can’t recall the name, something about zombies so I only remember it was not very good. They used a small part of this melody in an episode I was watching while half-awake, so I searched it in the credits and still could not find it. So, this whole time that interlude was kind of up in the air to use, I didn’t want to end up plagiarizing someone else’s music. Finally, I was listening to some music by Liszt and Totentanz came up. I could hear the familiarities in the melody and it suddenly made perfect sense to me. When the full album was made available on YouTube, someone commented on the part as the soundtrack from the classic film The Shining… I cannot remember how long it’s been since I have seen that movie and hearing it from Liszt made more sense as to where I would have got it from. Finally, someone in the YouTube comments brought light to the debate, for lack of better words and clarified it as it originating from a Gregorian Chant titled Dies Irae, which was responsible for inspiring Liszt’s Totentanz, The Shining title track, and many other composers.
M-R: Who would you say has been your biggest influences from first, second and third-wave Black Metal? And why?
It was the second wave that got me immersed in Black Metal. I was at the impressionable age of 16. Even though I was already very heavily into death metal and music in general before that, the second wave of black metal along with a growing interest in the occult, mix that with my age and experimentation with going into nature (often under the influence of psychedelics), created a new world with many visions for me and experiences that are truly unforgettable
M-R: Are there plans to tour Mors Vincit Omnia? And if so, when can we expect this and where?
We just recently started working with a booking agency to secure more shows in the future. Until then it was not so easy to find shows or festivals to play, they would contact us. Since Oneironaut, we have primarily played festivals. Touring is not of high interest for several personal reasons within the band, a large one being we just don’t want to become one of those bands that is playing everywhere all the time to the point of it being expected and eating away at productivity and focus towards writing and recording new material. At the moment, I am not at liberty to announce any details of the future shows, as they are scheduled to be announced by the promoters, say for the festivals we will play toward the end of the year at De Mortum et Diabolum festival in Berlin area. I am not saying we will not tour, but at the moment there has not been any offer to tour that we have felt necessary to agree upon.
M-R: With two releases in two years, what can fans expect next from Crimson Moon?
I started working on new material almost immediately after Mors Vincit Omnia was completed. I just started to sort through it all and it’s over an hour’s worth of material, mostly partial songs and riff ideas. I will be continuing work in the studio on this after I finish this interview and then the next process is to pick out the material that fits and we are 100% confident to shape his into the form of a new album. It’s impossible to say how long this will take, but I feel, given the early start on it that we can have it done in a very reasonable amount of time without being rushed into just spitting out a new album for the sake of having a new album.
I guess you could say I am my harshest critic, and I am probably only getting worse about that with age. My goal is to make music that ages well, that doesn’t get dated or boring after a few listens. I am not saying I have necessarily achieved this, haha. I am just saying that is the goal I try to keep in mind when song writing.
M-R: Thank you so much for your time. Is there anything additional you would like to say to the readers?
Many thanks for the well-conducted interview and support. As for the readers that made it this far in a rather lengthy interview, I would not only like to send my gratitude for your interest in our work but also leave a bit of insight into supporting the music and bands you wish to support, be it Crimson Moon or any other band or music.
As it’s mentioned over and over how buying merchandise will support a band, and indeed that does, there are also elements that I think don’t get brought up as commonly which can sound trivial but do offer a large amount of support that is not as commonly recognized. This is pertaining to how things work today, which I don’t necessarily condone or condemn. It’s simply how things are. Trivial things like liking a band page, leaving a thumbs up and/or comment on posts, YouTube videos and boosting on social media go a long way in the music industry.
I think it’s safe to say as a fan/supporter of a band, it’s not relevant how many page likes, follower’s thumbs-up, etc a band has but it is something a large part of the music industry sees. So, when a concert organizer, or say a guitar company that offers endorsements to a band (for a quick example) considers these things, it is a highly determining factor. They look at numbers, how much attention does this band get on social media?
Literally, every time you see a band post about a show or tour walks hand in hand comments of people saying “Come to Brazil, Come to L.A., come to Botswana”, etc. The location of where a band would like to play usually (at least in this genre) has zero to little influence in regards to where a band gets offered to play. You are far better off going to your local organizers and posting “Bring this quote-unquote band here”.
Interview Date: 2019-09-27
Interviewer: Kelly Tee