Transcending Obscurity artist Arkheth Interview up
- Arkheth is new to my readers and myself. Tell us a bit about your avant extreme metal history?
We started off back in 2001 as two 17 year olds wanting recreate the feeling we got when we first heard Abigor, Obtatined Enslavement, Summoning, Gehenna and Forlorn. We were far more interested in the mystery and aura that we felt when we listened to the music rather than the rebellion and notoriety. It was a form of escapism that felt really pure for us. Unfortunately that feeling began to lose its shine once we began to turn it into a typical band setting with live shows and recordings. In hindsight the best times were when we would record rough demos off a tape player in a freezing cold shed then drive out into the forest and listen back to them. We would sit around the fire for hours listening to music and telling stupid stories or watch old WWII movies. Once the reality of adult life kicked in then everything with the band started to suffer. Now 17 years later we’ve only just released our 3rd album and about to play our first live show in 10 years. That is all because the realities of modern society completely fucked us up and we were never really able to cope.
- I really hear elements of DHG, Sigh, Code and Arcturus on the 12 winter moons album. What music got you to this style?
This is actually quite hard to answer because there is no direct influence that I can cite for the sound of ’12 Winter Moons…’ When writing for this album I was very far removed from any type of scene and society in general. I had become somewhat of a recluse. This allowed me to write music purely as I felt was natural to me which resulted in wide variety of sounds that I have been influenced from over the years. I can say that ‘Where Nameless Ghouls Weep’ is definitely my own take on ‘Where The Slime Live’ by Morbid Angel haha. I don’t think it sounds alike at all but the influence is there. I had heard saxophone used on metal albums before but I wasn’t really prompted by any particular album or song. I just remember writing some particular riffs and for me the logical choice was a saxophone lead over the top. The music just seemed to call for it. Being so isolated at that time helped me to be uninhibited from outside opinions which I have no doubt would have strongly advised against it because it would not be what people are used to. Everyone wants to hear something safe which is extremely ironic considering the genre.
3. This is your 3 Rd release I see how do they differ?
If anyone had bothered to check out the first two albums they would recognise the vast differences between the three. That is no accident. ‘Hymns of a Howling Wind’ 2003 was recorded in 7 hours as a demo but released by the label as an album. We were 17 and just trying to emulate the sound that gave us that unique Black Metal feeling. We had no interest in being different or to stand out in any way. We just wanted to sound just like the bands we listed to.
After 5 slow, painful years of writing and waiting, ‘IX&I: The Quintessence of Algaresh’ was finally recorded in 2007. It was recorded and produced in the house we were living in by our friend and roommate Murray McPherson (Muurqe). He had no previous producing experience or training but he spent countless hours trying to make sense of the 2 hours’ worth of music. He did an amazing job considering the situation. His computer would crash several times a day; we had one overhead mike for the drums which were stuffed down in the laundry surrounded by old mattresses. There was constant tension in the air between everyone one in the house and the massive scale of the recording its self was its own challenge. Musically though it was a gargantuan leap from ‘Hymns....’ The symphonic Black Metal element was still the core but the songs structures had progressed to far more complex and longer arrangements. The variety of different synth sounds was much more vast and clean male/ female vocal melodies had been introduced as well. Unfortunately it was not released until 2010 and by then the material was already 5 years old. In the 8 years since the release of ‘Algaresh…’ a lot has happened and not happened. Skolthorn and I had drifted apart musically and ideologically although still remaining friends. Our complex relationship is the main reason for our lack productiveness. We are very alike in many ways and in others we couldn’t be more different.
In 2011 I began recording the guitars for what would be ‘12 Winter Moons…’ A lot of things happened that quickly led me to abandoning the recording and music altogether and for the next 5 years I became a hermit. This wasn’t intentional but rather a byproduct of the circumstances around me. After my mother’s passing in 2015 I decided to pick up the recording of ’12 Winter Moons…’ and completed it in 2016. That leads us to now. That is an extremely condensed version of the Arkheth history with the worst parts omitted haha.
- You signed with Transcending Obscurity in India how did that come to be?
After finishing the recording I wasn’t really considering doing anything with Arkheth again. I was on my own and after 10 years I couldn’t imagine who would care about a Black Metal band from Orange that has only ever played 7 live shows. Anyway I decided to be brave and put the music out to some smaller independent labels that maybe interested in taking quite a big chance considering the content of the music. Kunal from Transcending Obscurity replied very shortly after and was extremely enthusiastic. Luckily he had inherited some bands from my previous label so there was a small connection there. I am so grateful that he gave Arkheth the chance to be reborn both as a musical entity but also from a creative standpoint.
- What's your thoughts on social media in 2018 especially Bandcamp, YouTube and Twitter?
You will find that I almost always have two extreme opinions on almost any subject and this is no exception haha. Firstly I do think it is positive in the way that it allows the smaller unknown bands a chance to reach a bigger audience in a way like never before. It allows artists who are unable to put together a live act to still be heard and still build an audience. On the other hand the internet has allowed the music scene to be saturated to the point where we are too spoilt for choice. I still remember a time when you would by a CD or borrow a mixtape and you would spend weeks on end listening to it and absorbing every little detail even if you weren’t that into the music just because that was all you had access to until the next time you could travel somewhere that actually sold metal CD’s. There was something truly special about that and it made you appreciate every CD you bought. Nowadays people don’t give a shit. If people aren’t blown away within the first 30 seconds of an album they just skip it and move onto the next thing. The internet has made it so we have the attention spans of a goldfish. No one immerses themselves in albums anymore. Anyway that’s just the way things are now.
- In your opinion in 2018 is it good PR or good label that gets the exposure for underground music?
Both. In my case Transcending Obscurity has done all the work PR wise and I am extremely grateful for that because I have very poor knowledge and skill with information technology. IT does not interest me at all even though I recognise its importance in every aspect of society. TO does an incredible job of promoting bands for the quality of their music rather than some childish, bullshit reputation that a lot of very famous bands are known for. There are a lot of very average bands that are extremely popular purely for their good PR while other amazing talents go relatively unnoticed because they do not employ some bullshit persona to promote their music. I don’t blame the bands for that, rather the record companies who are in it for a dollar.
- 4 words to describe Arkheth?
Fucked beyond all recognition (hahaha). How about Uninhibited, passionate, mental, longing?
8. What is the extreme metal scene like in your area of Australia? Any bands you like to expose to my readers?
It is quite rich as far as I know but honestly I do not have a great deal of knowledge of the scene here. I live quite far from anywhere that plays live metal shows. Since Arkheth has reentered the scene I have become aware of acts such as Mesarthim, Midnight Odyssey and Moon. These acts are incredible and make me proud to be a part of an Australian Black Metal scene of sorts. There is something about our isolation that seems to inspire a very unique approach to Black Metal.
9. Is there a running theme on 12 winter moons?
Yes, The album is based on the writings/teachings of Hermes Trismegistus. There are various writings attributed to him throughout history but it is impossible to verify all or any of them. Despite this all the writings attributed to him they appear to contain information that is extremely insightful and revealing. If they are false then at the very least they are fascinating. I will never subscribe to one particular belief but at the time of writing this music I found it extremely profound and life changing.
10. The art reminds me a lot of Sigh albums I really feel they play a major musical role for Arkheth? How does album art play into music?
The album art was influenced by the music. The artwork was created by T. Bare McGough and executed brilliantly. I described what I was after and he delivered beyond my expectations. Unfortunately I see a lot of bands these days with incredible and eye catching artwork that fail to deliver musically There are also many amazing albums with underwhelming covers that never really got the attention they deserved. I really wanted something that matched. The music is bizarre, the artwork is bizarre but they make sense together.
11. If you could make a proper video for any song off 12 winter moons which one and why?
There is currently a video in the making for the song ‘Trismegistus’ which will be Arkheth’s first ever video. I never thought we would ever make a video so it is quite exciting. I chose this song because when I wrote it I felt it was the perfect combination of everything I was striving to achieve with ’12 Winter Moons…’ It was effortless in its creation which is rare for me and it all just seemed to flow so well.
12. Do you have other projects to tell world about?
Well up until last year the only project I ever had was Arkheth but that has changed. I have just finished recording an album with three extremely talented musicians who I also happened to grow up with and shared an appreciation for Black Metal with. The band is called Black Autumn Ethereal. There is a specific and unique formula involved. Each member writes one song and we come together every 6 months to record them over a period of 4 days (1 album equals 8 songs over 12 months, 2 songs each). Each member brings his own individual interpretation of Black Metal and we accept each song without compromise. It works because each musician is an accomplished songwriter in their own right so there is never any concern over the quality. We record drums, bass and two guitars live in one single take after a lot of practice of course. Vocals and keyboards are added later. There are members of Arkheth past and present, Forest Nocturne, Eternal Dark and Tamerlane Empire. We have yet to mix the album but it will consist of a Winter and an Autumn recording.
13. If a large label like nuclear blast or century media offered to release an album would you do so and why?
I’ll be honest it would be extremely flattering but I can’t ever seeing it happening. I don’t intend on dumbing my music down to appease the masses or gain more popularity. I write music purely for me and that will most likely be something that people will find hard to swallow because it’s not simply regurgitating the same old shit from 20 years ago. Having said that ’12 Winter Moons…’ has been received extremely well for the most part. Right now I’m with Transcending Obscurity who have been really good to me when everyone else hasn’t given a fuck so until someone offers me a multi-million dollar contract with an endless supply of hookers and coke…. ;).
14. Thanks for time any closing thoughts here.
I want to thank you so much taking interest in Arkheth and for giving me the opportunity to speak about my art and ramble on about various subjects haha. Please visit the Arkheth Bandcamp if you are curious to hear the madness. Cheers