Appearing from the ashes of Aetherium Mors, Itheist’s self-titled debut album stokes the fire of molten black metal, and forges it into creative blackened structures that twist and turn in unusual and interesting ways. It’s a very enjoyable record, one which I wanted to dig a bit deeper into. So here we are, with the band kindly providing some insights into their existence…
For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!
Dan – we are Itheist, we create Black/Death Metal. I write and perform the music and Kane handles lyrics and vocals.
Give us a bit of background to Itheist – I understand you used to be named Aetherium Mors? What caused this change of name and direction?
Kane – Aetherium Mors is Latin for spiritual death. The lyrical theme was purely an artistic attack on monotheism and its cancerous effect on our species. The lyrics shifted when I started to write songs about harnessing personal power and conceptualising dark vistas of imagination that are secular with free thought to free feel, thus Itheist was born.
Dan – We were never 100% satisfied with the name Aetherium Mors, so when the most recent album was in the works it seemed a good opportunity to change the band name. The music and lyrics had progressed to a point where the new name was more appropriate to where we see the band heading in future.
How were the songs on Itheist written?
Kane – I wanted to write songs that are Satanically esoteric, powerful and life-affirming with a dark aesthetic. I used Satanic symbolism on this album. Dan would send me samples and I would graft the right lyrics in feel to the songs that felt that they resonated with the theme of the music. We would then go into recording and reflect on the song, adding or taking away until we were both satisfied.
Dan – I started writing immediately after the last Aetherium Mors EP was released, as I wanted to capture the momentum we had at the time. The bulk of the songs were written and demoed within a year of starting the process. However some life related things caused interruptions, resulting in a few more years of delay than we had anticipated. On reflection, this turned out to be a good thing as it allowed us to absorb the album and add some more samples, clean vocals and elements that would not otherwise have been included. It also gave me time to add to my recording setup and recording/engineering abilities, making us more self-sufficient.
How do you go about fusing the different elements of your sound together into a coherent whole? Dissonance, melody, brutality, atmosphere – how do you fit these all together?
Dan – I followed my usual process, which is to write the best riffs I can, and expand upon them to create sections of songs which are fleshed out into full tracks, which can be an agonising process. I started experimenting with more dissonant chord voicings and tonalities on this release, but it maintains a strong melodic foundation. I try to avoid verse-chorus-verse song structures, preferring a more linear approach, where each song is a journey with an unknown destination. I paid attention to tension and release too, and allowed some of the riffs more time to develop and breathe as some of my older songs tended to be too impatient to get to the next riff.
As each song was completed, it was clear that the order they were written in would be the order they would appear on the album. The flow seemed quite natural, and I wanted to have an intro track to set the scene, a centrepiece track at the mid point and an outro track which made you want to listen to the album again.
We have an idea of where we want the music to progress in future, so we shall see where the journey takes us!
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Kane – Difficult as we have put so much into them. There are haunting orchestral moments on Horned One and Neter Amon that I am so proud of. The riffs on Suffering in Existence are just spirit crushing. But I wrote Guardian of Baphomet back in 2008, and waited for the right music to fit and it works so well, so it’s Guardian of Baphomet for me.
Dan – I like Guardian of Baphomet too, as I think that the music has a rolling, churning feel that brings to mind a vast ocean, and fits perfectly with the lyrics. Neter Amon is cool too, the clean choral vocals were a late addition which I could hear in my head each time I listened to the demo of the song.
We’ve touched on this previously, but tel us a bit more about the lyrics. Itheist could be labelled a Satanic band, but I understand that the focus of your lyrics is different to that of many other bands who could be similarly labelled?
Kane – Yes with a few exceptions most bands that use Satanic symbols tend to be more in line with Christian devil worship than Satanism. With human, child and animal sacrifice, worship and the belief in imaginary beings and a hatred for life and a lust to wipe everything off the face of the earth…. these are all christian teachings if you read the bible. Satan means adversary in ancient Hebrew. To be opposite, to embrace personal strength and reality, and reject weakness and delusion. To be tolerable of other people’s beliefs and work with your natural instincts, not against them. This is Satanic thought. So many bands write Christian lyrics under different names.
From above it sounds like the lyrical content definitely helped to influence your decision to change the band name from Aetherium Mors to Itheist
Kane – Yes I wrote the lyrics “self-deified I-theist, I am mine universe” on the Aetherium Mors track Divine Order Without God. After symbolically decapitating God with the spear that pierced his son, it was the next step lyrically to become I-theist. Categorically, we have the most blasphemous name in extreme music.
How does it feel to have the album released?
Kane – It’s been a long time coming with many obstacles, we are enjoying the reviews and early responses. It’s great when people get your music but ultimately you have to be happy with the end result and I am very proud of what we have achieved.
Dan – It feels great, the response has been amazing and I feel it’s our finest release to date.
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
Kane – Deathspell Omega – The Synergy of Molten Bones
Dan – I am listening to Ceremony of Silence – Outis, and Skaldic Curse – Devourer among many others.
What are your views on the UK metal scene in 2017?
Dan – The UK scene is healthy at the moment if a little fragmented, you have to travel to the larger cities to see any decent gigs. I perform drums in another metal band (Carcinoma) and we have played with some incredible UK bands such as Vacivus, Live Burial, Helpless, etc.
Anything you’d like to add to sum up?
Kane – Thank you for your time and we hope you enjoy the album.