Krigsgrav’s fourth album Waves of Degradation has stuck out in my mind as one of the more memorable releases I’ve listened to of late. Its harrowing atmosphere of hopelessness and pain made an indelible mark on my psyche and I keep returning to it again and again. Thankfully, I was able to share some words with Justin from the band, who gave me some more background to Krigsgrav and their superlative new album…
For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!
My name is J. Coleman, I play guitar and provide vocals for the band Krigsgrav and Heimar.
Give us a bit of background to Krigsgrav
Krigsgrav was a solo project started by David Sikora in 2004 in Keller, Texas. I say solo project in the sense that he was the main person performing all the instruments, but he did use session vocalists until I came into the fold. He founded the band as an homage to the second wave of Norwegian/Swedish black metal, so the older material (‘As darkness falls above’ demo, ‘Arcana Imperil’ ep) sound more like Gorgoroth, Darkthrone and Carpathian Forest. He started to change the sound dynamic with the ‘Leviathan Crown’ (self released in 2010) and integrated more epic song lengths and sorrowful melodies. the next year with Lux Capta Est, he created an album that really came to be what I consider the foundation for the Krigsgrav sound.
David, Corey (guitars) and I played in a band prior to Krigsgrav, so we knew each other that way. As we were friends, we would share our musical ideas and projects with one another. David showed me LCE and I thought it was great. After hearing LCE I knew I wanted to be a part of Krigsgrav in some way. David, Corey and I had a few conversations about taking the ground work laid with LCE and making a fully functional band, which obviously happened. Initially the idea was to just rehearse and try the material out live and see what happens. Well, we kept coming up with new material at rehearsals, met Wes (bass) who fit right in, and we continued to fine tune ideas which became ‘The Carrion Fields’. After that album was released via Naturmacht Productions, we kept up momentum playing live, writing material and here we are today with another new album, ‘Waves of Degradation’, to be released April 1st via Bindrune.
What are your influences?
I can say nature, life and death are influences for all of us in the band. As cliché as it sounds, the band is heavily influenced by nature above all else, be it’s beauty or wrath and man kinds existence with in it. When I write lyrics they generally revolve around my perspective on existence and how fucked up we are as a species. Basically how we are plague to our planet. I’m not an ‘eco warrior’ in any regard, but that’s how I view the world, so to me that is more realistic than writing about religion, politics, occult, as those hold no bearing on my life. I live in the real world where gods don’t exist and men are the real beasts and life comes and goes. I find man’s constant need to find out ‘why’ and to know the divine truths boring. So I write about reality.
Musically, old ‘classic’ stuff, like Dissection, Woods of Ypres, Type O Negative, Bathory, Necrophobic, Mayhem, etc.
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
Nightfell. They are on 20 Buck Spin currently. I absolutely love their releases thus far, they combine elements of second generation black metal and old British doom metal (old Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride). Really good stuff.
How do you feel that you fit into the wider Extreme Metal scene?
I have no idea and I don’t care. When we play live usually we stick out because we don’t sound like too many bands, especially in the Southern U.S., so I couldn’t say know how we fit overall, but our sound fits more with black metal than anything else, but that’s not all Krigsgrav is as a band, it’s just one aspect since you have 4 unique personalities all in one band. We just create what we like and that will never change. Scene acceptance where and how we fit among the myriad of metal bands is something I don’t worry about.
Give us a bit of background to Waves of Degradation – any particular concepts or ideas you want to discuss?
The concept of the album is very direct – our eventual eradication as a species and the nature moving on with out us (humans). Basically, the dark path mankind is voluntarily taking today influenced me to write lyrics in this direction and then as a band we discussed creating a cohesive overall ‘darker’ mood for the music to fit the theme/lyrics of the subject matter. Some films like “The Road” (the sample at the beginning of “As Color Fades..”, the book is written by Cormac McCarthy) and writings by Hemingway, Hesse, Irvin Welsh, helped me to expand the aesthetic of the album as well. I feel like having a direction like this to work in help achieve a clearer end result. So we set to work with those ideas/themes and after a while came out with what you have as the finished album and we couldn’t be happier with its misery.
Tell us about the album artwork
The album cover art was created by Nate Burns, who had also designed art in the past for one of our shirts. He does great work at reasonable prices. Check out revolting worship.tumblr.com. The rest of the interior art work was pieced together by Marty of Bindrune and us working together, the nature pictures were taken by Dora Alvarez.
How do you go about writing your songs?
I live about 3 hours south of the other guys, who are located in North Texas, so for me I usually come up with ideas on my own and send the others my ideas via e-mail, text, etc. and we’ll just shoot files back and forth until a song is complete. Some times we’ll meet up at one of our homes and rehearse what we’ve completed or are working to see how it really sounds and works organically. For this album David, Corey, and Wes wrote a lot together and would send me their ideas and I would add my contributions and we would just go back and forth. We were very tough on making sure we kept the absolute best material for this album and many ideas were scrapped in the end. Luckily we’re adults and can give each other constructive criticism so the whole process is very democratic. We won’t finalize a song until we’re all pleased with it, same goes for the lyrics. We all stand behind every aspect of what we make with Krigsgrav.
How did the recording process go?
It was a somewhat lengthy process, but it worked out well. David recorded his drums first with our sound engineer, JT Longoria. He sent us the raw tracks which we rehearsed on our own time to, then we came up to David’s home where over the course of a month or so we recorded all guitars and bass. When it was time to record vocals, David brought his recording gear my my house and we completed the vocals, then we added all the extra bits like violins (performed by JT) and female vocals performed by Katrin of Awen, samples, and keyboards. I do want to note we were fortunate to have The Watcher from Fen contribute an excellent vocal performance to the end of “Under Trembling Stars”, so that was great as we are all big fans of Fen. After that it was all sent off to be mixed and mastered by David and JT. Since David does most of the recording we don’t really have too many time restrictions and were able to stretch recording it out over the last half of 2015. All in all it was as stress free as the recording process can go.
I like that the bass is audible and makes a good contribution. Was this a conscious decision or just something that occurred naturally?
It was totally conscious. Wes is probably the most talented musician of the band, and it would be a complete crime to let his bass lines go unnoticed. Also, I’m a huge fan of Simon Gallup from The Cure, so I wanted more moving bass lines like his, and Wes delivered. Glad you noticed!
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
This changes depending on my mood. I think the album is best heard start to finish, and once I usually start playing it I’ll listen to the entire thing, but if I have to pick I’d say right now it’s “Son of the Stones”. I love the diversity of the music and how the song progresses, it has what I consider some of our best moments on this track, plus the last lyrics sum up the entire album perfectly in my opinion: ’graven silence, for a world of tombs’. We’re all dead in the end.
What does the future hold for Krigsgrav?
Our tour with Giant of the Mountain starts in April, so many shows in April and a few select shows to round out 2016, a vinyl release of Waves of Degradation and the writing of an acoustic release to be released in the future.