Imhotep Zine – 2001
Mir-h iD & Rahab interviewed by Bertrand Garnier of Imhotep Zine (Norway).
Welcome to Imhotep, Rahab! I was having a look at your (excellent) website the other day, and saw this FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sections. I suppose it is intended at avoiding the same old boring introducing questions like bio and such, isn’t it?
Midhir: Hi Bertrand! I’ll be taking over from Rahab for the most part, so you might have to slightly adjust a few of your questions. Rahab has relieved me of some of the questions though. About the website. Absolutely, some questions are asked in virtually every interview we get. The FAQ section could be a helpful resource. It would be a painstaking and time-consuming exertion to wade through all the interviews to find the answer you’re looking for. Anyway, here is your long-awaited interview:
1. So my first question will be: why did you choose the name Ordo Draconis? Could you please introduce the band, its members and your musical concept?
Midhir: Well, after my modest entrance, I’ll give you a cursory band history. Ordo Draconis was formed in 1996, and after a change of drummer we had the line-up as it has been up till now, which is Rahab (guitar), Bob (guitar), Moloch (vocals), Arco (drums) and I, Midhir (synthesizers). The first demo we produced was “When the Cycle Ends” (1997), which wasn’t initially intended as a demo, but that’s how things eventually came about. The reponse was excellent (it has now sold out at 1234 copies). At the time we felt it wouldn’t be wise to plunge into the studio for a full-length album. We felt we still had to learn one thing and another, and so we recorded “In Speculis Noctis” (1999), this time in a professional studio. “In Speculis Noctis” was really a positive statement which confronted the world (actually ourselves) with what we were capable of, even at that early stage when you are still a demo band. Actually, the demo-MCD is often confused with a MCD for that reason. The response was even better (even as the popularity of black metal was declining). After a little while we inked a deal with Skaldic Art Productions, and so it happens that our brandnew full-length album “The Wing & the Burden” has officially been released since 02-07-2001.
2. Furthermore I am curious about why it took so long to come to a record deal?… please… Seriously now (don’t answer to the first part!), how did you get in touch with Skaldic Art, which is a rather starting up label, and what were the determining facts that made you join their roster – as compared to other offers you may have received?
Rahab: At the end of 1999, with the help of a very dear friend, I got in touch with Vratyas Vakyas who had just released the first two albums on Skaldic Art (by Furthest Shore and Obsidian Gate). He was the first to show a strong interest in a cooperation with Ordo Draconis after the release of „In Speculis Noctis“. We had a great number of long conversations during which we discussed practical as well as ideological and philosophical topics. It was clear from the start that the right intention was there with both parties. Being an artist with a strong longing for artistic freedom himself, Vratyas created a label policy in which the artistic achievements of a band take up a central place. All label activities are done in a continous consultation with the bands, so that everything may be done as much according to the ideals of the bands as possible. Since Ordo Draconis have strong ideas about how we would like to see things, this is as an aspect that appealed to us very much. Not to create any misunderstandings: Vratyas is not some kind of label-slave who does everything „his“ bands tell him to; freedom only excists within restriction and it has a „price“: personal responsibility. Through Skaldic Art, Vratyas offers potential: opportunities that bands can either take or leave. In either case, they’ll have to take the consequences of that. In my view that’s no less than reasonable. Another interesting consequence of Vratyas‘ approach is respectful and friendly relationship between the individual bands on the label; bands show interest in what the other bands are doing and are trying to support eachother and to help eachother out. I think that’s pretty unique The most important things we demand from a label in general are total artistic freedom and decent conditions to record and release our albums (especially sufficient studio budget, and decent promotion and distribution). It is obvious that are demands for such a small band as Ordo Draconis, but Skaldic Art meets them practically all. We have entire artistic freedom, the studio budget is huge for bands of our commercial standard and distribution is partially handled by SPV… what more can a small band ask for? Well we are always able to come up with something more, haha…
3. The way I see it, the label’s signing policy up to now is very much based on the owner’s tastes, rather than leaning on sales potential, trends and stuff. Still each release stands for quality and freedom of creation. Do you see yourself pursuing your whole career in this “friendly” environment, or is there a chance you would give in to the sirens of a comfortable financial deal ensuring the band headlining tours, big merchandising, something like that?
Midhir: Indeed, it seems as if music business has become increasingly more commercial these days. As a result, you can see that some labels have been drastically putting over the helm as to switch over from black metal to death metal. Sure, I think it’s a great relief that our label owner is supporting music on the ideological basis of his tastes, and I’m afraid he’s among the few. Such an attitude as his is valuable for the music scene in general (not just for the bands), since, whether you want it or not, the listener’s taste is largely dependent on the labels, since it’s them that are largely responsible for the financial support of their bands (studio, perhaps new equipment, etc.), their promotion (including advertisements, merchandise, tours), and the availability of their albums. And if indeed bands are selected on commercial criteria, well need I say more. In the long run it may also affect musicians since for the most part they are listeners, too. Certainly, as a listener you’ve got some autonomy, but it just requires a lot of time, money and effort to maintain your musical tastes. An essential point I‘d like to draw attention to is the absolute artistic freedom which Skaldic Art grants us. Vratyas Vakyas, our label boss does not meddle with our writing music or anything, which is not so obvious as it may seem prima facie. Another strong suit is that, as the man behind Falkenbach, he is personally familiar with our concerns as a band. At the moment, the subject of other contracts is immaterial, especially since we have signed for two more albums after “The Wing & the Burden”.
4. And one happens to think of some of those “big” formations, who are offered such a studio budget they can afford almost everything. Nothing against that, but it is a bit sad to see how those persons lose control of the band’s raison d’être – even style – and become simply unable to stand fully behind their music in the end. I mean, look at Dimmu Borgir on album and then on stage… When it comes to Ordo Draconis, you guys don’t exactly play what I would call easy-listening music. However I sense a soul, an entity behind each facet of the sound. What are your requirements when you enter a studio? To what extent are you involved in all the steps of the recording, mix, etc.?
Midhir: As for your view on Dimmu Borgir and other black metal pop stars, I have the same feeling with a lot of recent pompous-like-an-airbag American films, which seem to rely for a great deal on spectacular visual effects, but are a little empty as regards content (expensive and cheap at the same time). Likewise, the flipside of the coin with a good production can be that one puts too much faith in the way it would bombard the senses. I mean, with a good production you can make a lot of things sound impressive, but if it stops right there I’d call that flatulent. Don’t understand me wrong though. I do revel in the plentiful opportunities of production. Did you know they are developing recording and playing equipment, based on the use of four speakers? Imagine what kind of ambience that would make. In some way, sound engineering could be something of an extension of your music, a kind of additional band member, who by regulating/manipulating frequencies and the like can marvellously accentuate, and even create, shapes and timbres. For interestingly manipulated drums, for example, I’d refer to Dodheimsgard “666 International”. The role of production depends very much on what you want to do with your music. So, in my opinion, Darkthrone’s “A Blaze in the Northern Sky” has a good production, but only because it so wonderfully answers the dark purpose of their music. As you say, we don’t play easy-listening music, and for such a multidimensional music to convey as we make a well-balanced and transparent production is indispensable. Interplay is a vital aspect of our music and so to distinguish between the multiple layers that are at work is essential. Furthermore, I would say that the dynamics, which are obviously already part of the composition, should be underscored in the production. Not to forget that the album should rock big time (I like this cheesy expression). We opted for Excess Studios (Sinister, Danse Macabre, Houwitser) mostly because of our earlier, rather satisfactory cooperation on “In Speculis Noctis”. Yes, we were very much involved in the recording/mixing/mastering process, even a little more than we were on “In Speculis Noctis” actually. At the same time, the fact that our producer was now more at home with our wishes was also greatly to our advantage.
5. By the way, how does an Ordo Draconis show look like? I have heard positive echoes so far. Do you manage to reproduce every nuance of the music live?
Midhir: I don’t think it’s a matter of really emulating the album up to each and every bit. First, there are inevitable barriers of a practical kind. You really have to make impossible claims if you want to have the perfect sound, balance and all that. Even the finest cream of the crop equipment cannot meet such requirements. Second and most importantly, a stage performance is essentially different from an album, for instance as to how interaction works. Playing covers, keeping contact with your audience, being actually visible to your audience, and the sense that what you hear is played live probably all contribute to an intimate atmosphere. Unlike an album, you can respond to the public. For instance, when a few people yelled “Slayer, Slayer!”, we indeed replied by playing Slayer. Also, and I think this is the quintessence of a stage performance (and probably of pop music) as opposed to an album recording, it’s more a matter of feeling the music with its vibes and pulses instead of closely listening to it. I’d call that organic in a literal sense, as it appeals far more to the physical level of experiencing music, particularly with this high level of decibels. That’s why people are moved to bodily react to the music (excluding throwing tomatoes) in the widespread manner that we understand as dancing (does this sound too much like an old black-and-white documentary???). You may also experience music while sitting in your chair or lounging in your divan, but I won’t go into such ecological matters right now. Live we are a little rawer and more unpolished (partly out of necessity). Whether we manage to convey those vibes I’m not really in the position to answer, but it’s at least our intention and the overall response, as observed from verbal signs and wildly moving limbs in the crowd, does seem to confirm it. I also adjust my sounds to the live environment, taking into account the acoustic leeway in such a situation, with any luck like the way dance/techno DJs and artists know (intuitively) what frequencies have what effect at a high intensity of volume.
6. Of course there is this question whether your singer Moloch has to undergo a vocal cord transplant after each concert… Having in mind his feat at the end of “Turpentine Chimaera” (just to name that one), I will just refuse to believe you if you tell me that the vocals have been recorded in one day. How do people seem to react to his voice? I could easily understand if someone said it is much too extreme to fit the music, so at the end of the day how would you justify this component of Ordo Draconis?
Midhir: Honestly, Moloch doesn’t do his vocal cords as much damage as you imagine. He has taken some singing lessons, as to avail himself of his lungs and probably also to learn how not to ruin his vocal cords. Actually, he doesn’t have to exert himself very much in order to realize those rasping vocals. Paradoxically, it’s still calm and relaxed, which I think is part of the charm. I believe Moloch is able to even prolong that long cry at the end of ‘Turpentine Chimaera’ (although doing that would be pointless). The vocals were not recorded within a day, but the reasons for that didn’t have to do with the state of his vocals but with our timetable. If I remember correctly, he got a few evening leftovers or a few hours in between and that’s basically it (which was enough). I’m not that much aware of the response we received, but I think his vocals have provoked mixed feedback. Some think they’re brilliant, others find them too abrasive, and some people are more fond of those screamy Children of Bodom-alike vocals (I for one don’t), and think Moloch’s vocals are unexciting. I prefer the rasping cutting edge of his vocals, and that’s all that matters to me. The vocals may be among our raw edges, but I don’t feel like polishing everything. It’s good to hear we have a controversial issue here.
7. Back in Ablaze #37, you reveal that Moloch and guitarist / co-composer Bob were about to leave the band at some stage. How did it come to this situation? Honestly, do you think that Ordo Draconis would have withstood such a separation, be it in the short or long term? I think of the band’s obvious unity…
Rahab: The whole situation had its roots in private life – I don’t want to comment on that. Due to this, a tension arose within the band. We came to a point that it was necessary to have a good conversation and so we did. The outcome was that Bob and Moloch would leave, but not before the recording of “The Wing & the Burden” was finished. They saw that it would have been too big a loss if they wouldn’t at least complete what we had been working for all this time. From that moment on everything was clear and the tension had gone – we only focussed on recording the album as well as we could. Though the loss would have been incredible, the rest of the band respected their decision and aquiesced in it. Ordo Draconis would have continued without them. The recording of the album, the whole way towards it and the final outcome were very special for all band members and led Bob and Moloch to re-evaluate their situation and made them decide to continue with Ordo Draconis, which is the best outcome I could have wished for. In some sense the arriving departure of Bob and Moloch influenced our enthusiasm and our skills. The album would be the final chapter of a certain stage of the band. And because there was no case of personal wars going on inside the band and we had been together for four years, we were extra motivated to create something beautiful for this final chapter to which we could all look back with pride. If we had any influence on the choice of Bob and Moloch to stay, it would be that we left them their own choice, which we would respect no matter what. Haha, it’s not really like we are an hermetic order, though the line up has been stable for over 4 years. The decision to leave was very hard on them – it’s not like they were keen on quitting or anything, and even if they would have left they probably would have stayed involved as session members („You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!“). I can affirm that the whole situation has strengthened the band; it are such events that make you realise that you really have something special going on! It’s only a subject for speculation if Ordo would have been able to overcome the “loss” of two of its members – I think the order would have survived, but the band would have changed shape, more radically then we are continuously doing by evolution.
8. How long do you respectively practise your instruments? I must say I have been struck by the technical level, way above average for a black metal outfit. Keyboarder Midhir has certainly been offered a piano when he was still shitting in his diapers…
Rahab: Well, when we started out with the band, Bob was the only band member who had been playing his instrument for more than a month. Midhir and myself, we had just bought our instruments. Midhir started to play synths about a month after we had started out. I must add that we did have at least some musical experience before starting with Ordo Draconis. Midhir had been playing drums and guitar for a couple of years and I had taken lessons in playing classical guitar for some time. The drummer we had when we started playing had just started out as well, but it soon became clear that he wasn’t able to catch up with the rest of the band fast enough. That was the reason for his departure and Arco’s entering. Arco had been playing drums in some small local bands for some years.
9. Let us focus on the just-released album if you will. I haven’t heard your earlier works, but let me risk a parallel between “The Wing & the Burden” and a theatrical answer to Arcturus’ “Aspera Hiems Symfonia”. Would you agree on that statement? Generally, how do people categorise your album? Are you amused by the comparisons, the superlatives employed – thinking of how you wished the music to turn out?
Midhir: About the comparison with “The Wing & the Burden”, perhaps that’s the most accurate description I’ve ever come across. I’m not very fond of us being pigeonholed, but it’s inevitable I guess. So far the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, but since I have only cursorily glanced at them, I’m not sure how they’ve categorized us. At the moment, if a ‘blackish’ metal band includes synthesizers as one of the instruments, whatever they do with them, they tend to get compared with bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. It’s the same rationale that makes us sound like Cannibal Corpse because of the use of two distorted guitars. Let’s hope people will really listen to the album, and also take the time for it.
10. Is “progressive” a term you would accept or deny?
Midhir: I would accept it as a compliment. I hope it’s true.
11. I am curious about the lyrics of “The Rite of Catherine de Medicis”. Even though I do picture the story itself quite well – being French – I thought them to differ from the usual way lyrics are put down. It’s sort of a prosaic narrative style, as if one was just reading a history book. How did you come up with that idea? Will you develop these history-based concepts in the future?
Midhir: Not being the lyricist behind ‘The Rite of Catherina de Medicis’ (that’s Moloch), I can’t tell too much about it, but to a certain extent I do know what it’s about of course. ‘The Rite … ’ is set in 1574, two years hence from the bloody St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572. I imagine Catherina de Medicis (1519-1589) has been a most remarkable woman. The storyline for that song, which I think Moloch found either in Bodin’s “La Demonomanie, ou traite des Sorciers” (1587) or in Eliphas Levi (or both), recounts how Queen Catherine fell back on the black arts, when King Charles IX was lying sick of an unidentified terminal disease. She consulted a lapsed Jacobin cleric, who was himself conversant with the black arts, and performed a ritual by which she would invoke a hellish spirit. Nevertheless, the king kicked the bucket, and the eldest son became King of France at the early age of ten, so Catherine de Medicis could become Queen Regent . . . Definitely, the words are put down in a matter-of-fact style, clearly not implying any judgment on the persons/characters or any supposition of the truth further than we know it as such. Obviously, the style is slightly paradoxical, since what is presented as historical truth is actually based on fiction. At least that’s my impression. For all I know I could be telling sheer nonsense. Anyway, we’ve got another semi-history-based song on “The Wing & the Burden”, and that’s ‘Necropolis’, again set in France. The actual setting may not be historical, but the event in retrospect is. In 1832 Paris was unpleasantly surprised by an uninvited guest. Whilst there was a merry masquerade going on during carnival, cholera broke out and played the partypooper. We still have a literary account of that left, which is of no importance here, and a woodcut tableau, which kind of formed the basis for my story. It represents Death with a violin or a similar instrument outrivalling the mortal musicians of the parade and winning the day. As you’d expect from a song with themes from Saint-Saëns’ “Danse Macabre”, the dead are resurrected and perform a kind of dance. They appear to be the victims of the epidemic of 1832, including the musicians, and have an argument about things. In the end, Death harangues the corpses and wins the day again, or night actually. I can’t recall whether we’ll be using particular events in history for the next album. As not everything’s written, who knows? History is alive with fascinating stuff, so it would be likely for us to again draw on history sooner or later.
12. About “Wreckage” now. This song is the longest of the album, and for me it is a 5000-pieces puzzle. I have the impression you made many different songs (or fragments of songs) collide into one, but maybe I am wrong… Will you please scrutinise the genesis of this song for me?
Midhir: Well, ‘Wreckage’ is a dark song in its own strange way and does have a complex origin, both musically and lyrically. Oddly, it seems as if the jinx that haunts the journey described in the song had also troubled the composition of both music and words. Don’t think that the daemon of inspiration is necessarily so pleasant as one imagines. The lyrics have gone through a gruelling process of expunction, rewriting, revision, and deepening. As a text which works on so many levels, it’s also a song which is more open to interpretation than any other of my lyrics for this album. Apart from the demo-song, it’s also the oldest text. Basically, it describes how a man at sea is swept away by a tempest and is shipwrecked, clashing with the cliffs of an island. Having once climbed the perilous cliffs, he discerns through the dense forest a glade and a lady making up a bed. For some reason he is beckoned over. On his way through the forest, he is at strife with himself but he ultimately arrives at the glade. The man cannot accept to rest here: “Of what green’s that sheet of moss / With which my bed she drapes? / Nothing more but the ambiguity / Which consuming decay or growth shapes, / A sheet with which to smother me, / Makes me argue the self-imposed toss.” Enchantment cannot make him stay, and so he is allowed to embark on a new voyage. “Wreckage” includes a lot of evocative, often disturbing, images, which were insistently and feverishly preying on my mind. Perhaps that’s the part of the jinx I was talking about. I had to let my unconscious speak, as usual, but I could never attain what I was aspiring to, whatever that was. You can hear in the song that a dynamic force is at work, but the motivation and direction are uncertain. Unlike you imagine, it’s not built of other songs or fragments. Perhaps the song is literally a wreckage, all pieces of the puzzle having a common history. In the same way, the grammar is intentionally broken at places.
13. And by extension could you explain how it works when Bob, Midhir and you come up with your parts at the rehearsal place? How long does it take to finalise the instrumental frame of a song? Is it a peaceful process, or does it sometimes lead to conflicts between individuals?
Midhir: Oh we have fights all the time. Music is serious business, and, as in every serious business, people get hurt. Seriously now, I’m glad we don’t have a systematic approach to such things, which is impossible with three creative mavericks anyway. Generally, we come up with a few ideas to fit within a certain frame of reference, and work them out. Also, that frame could take form during a brainstorming of some wild suggestions. It hasn’t come to great conflicts up till now, and we’re wise enough to know that bolshie behaviour only obstructs the course of things. Of course it’s a thing of giving and taking, but if we encounter a disagreement while discussing things (which keeps things lively), we always search for the best way possible to put things right.
14. You included “A Crimson Dawn”, a song that originally appeared on your demo “When the Cycle ends”. In a way I could have guessed that this song was an older one, as – to my modest ears – the mood-driving balance within this song is like 66,6% keyboard and 33,3% guitars, whereas it is 50-50 the rest of the time. What was your purpose for putting this song on this album, at this place in the middle of the track-list? What are the modifications you brought to the early version? I could bet you have improved – if not added – the solos.
Midhir: Strange. My contribution to that song is not that significant as compared to the rest of the album. Anyway, being the very first song for “When the Cycle Ends”, it’s more traditional, a bit like early Ulver, and some thrash metal (roughly). Why we recorded it again, is because (especially) this song deserved a new recording and a bit of a new approach. As we have it now, the sound has been much improved, as well as the level of musicianship. At the time, using real acoustic guitars wasn’t practicable, as we had to record all songs in one take. Luckily, we could use them as we wished this time. Furthermore, we dropped the female vocals and replaced them by tin whistle and low whistle, which are played by a multi-instrumentalist folk musician. Bob improvised this dual with the low whistle in the studio, as it was there that he first heard the part. I’m not sure but I think Bob improvised the rest of the solos as well, like he did on the original recording. We also reduced an episode, which got a bit too long. Being an older song, ‘A Crimson Dawn’ is a kind of relief, which would for that reason have its most favourable position somewhere about the middle of the tracklist.
15. The two last songs “Tiphareth – the Burning Balance” and “Necropolis” bear classical music stigma in their textures – not only because of the Saint-Saëns-adapted part in “Necropolis”. Why do I smell a baroque scent somehow? Do you curse me if I say that “happy” parts lie hidden within those songs?
Midhir: Actually, classical textures are pervasive throughout the album, except for ‘A Crimson Dawn’. About, “Tiphareth – the Burning Balance”, it’s more anything like a smirk or the veneer of a smile that I hear other than what you call ‘happy’, in particular the main riff and the central episode in canon. For “Necropolis” I deliberately tried to blur the distinction between the tragic and the comic, so you’re probably fooled if you think it’s happy (and so you are if you think it’s sad). Seeing as I have given a few rough outlines of ‘Necropolis’ above, you may understand this a little better. There are quite a few puns and tongue-in-cheek jibes that may have a tragic undertone. The concluding invective by Death is as follows: “Agile fools, do no trim – as ye define – / My fearsome form of old / With frothy flattery; / Timeless air I breathe as to engulf / Such outcries brief and bold. / Casualties, as ere long the loyal dawn / Shall Nature from Her apogee / To her source restore. / True to form, the honours of last word, / Last laugh and dance are mine / To be.”
16. Over the whole album the lyrics, whatever they deal with, are of an upper-class standing. Those written by Midhir proved however frustrating as I had to look up for every second word in the dictionary… I have difficulties figuring out how and when such intricate lyrics can come into play within the song-writing process. Could you help me out on that?
Midhir: And I was thinking they were easier this time. I’m sorry for difficult words here and there, but I select my words and phrases on the strength of two criteria: their exact meaning and connotation, and their sound/colour. It’s not like I’m trying to impress people with my vocabulary. Fathoming the lyrics does require something of the reader, I’ll give you that, but in the end it is more rewarding than your average ‘Hail Satan’ or ‘the vampire’s gonna bite you’ lyrics. I have given you some details of the backgrounds of my lyrics in this interview, so that could be of any help to you (and to the readers). I don’t have a fixed methodical approach when writing lyrics and combining them with music. It starts with an idea or ideas which should stir my imagination (though never to the extent that I’d be writing fantasy lyrics), often images which steadily assume feverish shapes and are ultimately worked up into lyrics. Basically, the music should be written before I can compose verse along with it. Although the general idea is there prior to the composition of both music and lyrics, you need to know your metric leeway in the framework of the song first.
17. I have a mate who belongs to an ornithology club. They are about to sue Ordo Draconis at law for bird slaughter! Who is the mind behind the magnificent artwork of “The Wing & the Burden”? What does it actually symbolise in connection with the album’s concept? (if there’s a concept whatsoever…)
Midhir: Thanks for your appreciation. It’s mastermind Arco who is our graphic wizard and devoted bird-watcher here! We first discussed what would work as a model for the album’s concept, toyed with a few ideas, and eventually we came up with this. It does reflect the mechanism of the wing and the burden. Don’t think of merely linear forces which cause a movement up or down. The interference is highly important, because, for instance, a heavier burden can make the wing stronger, or the wing may even constitute the burden, or the other way around (we even had a discussion whether to use ‘and’ or ‘&’, but because of the mechanism it seemed wise to use the one as it is now). The general idea here particularly derives its fascination from the way it is explored in the lyrics and music. Back to the album cover. The blazing globe is of course the sun, but it need not be identified as such. In a way, it’s slightly anti-black metal to depict the sun. Perhaps we should deliver sun glasses along with the album. Anyway, it might bring you to associate it with the Fall of Icarus, or maybe with the myth of Prometheus, as fire is an element both creative and destructive. But even without such allusions, you can figure out the thematic relevance yourself now.
18. Please let me congratulate you for your very stylish corpsepaints. You know that most Scandinavian precursors are giving the whole thing up these days, while most Central and Southern-European bands continue the tradition. Personally I think there are no grounds for raising a debate about what appearance a black metal band should have, but as it seems all the same important to many people, would you please give us your point on the matter? Does make-up help your self-confidence on stage for instance?
Midhir: Yes, another controversial issue! Thanks for your appreciation. I suppose you are referring to the pictures in the CD booklet. I favour them myself. The effect is almost cartoonesque, not in a burlesque way (another time), but rather strangely distorted in colour and surreal, hovering somewhere midway between reality and fiction, especially with the outlined shreds dangling in the forefront. Some film covers, and a taste of the Batman TV cartoon, are the closest indications I can think of right now. It’s as if we’re trying to escape the two-dimensional confines of the booklet. There is one thing though, which is, my neck looks like a second chin, but I’m not going to ask you what you think about our ‘gorgeous’ hairdo, don’t worry. By the way, it’s Arco again who deserves all the credit for these stylish graphic metamorphoses. However, I’d like to say now we’ve renounced corpse paint these days. I understand you’d be deceived by the CD inlay and promotion pictures, but future shots of us and stage performances will be without corpse paint. Now and again I’m a little surprised about the importance which people attach to corpsepaint, and I realize such a step as we have made could disillusion a few people, but we’re band of artistic integrity. Obviously, we’re not making music with the purpose of winning respect and honour, or money. That’s what people did in the Middle Ages. However, we do owe you an explanation. In my opinion, the whole thing was getting old very fast. It’s a bit odd to see us progressing while still abiding by the olde cosmetics, a mode of expression which has been repeated ad nauseam, and only faintly modified by us. I’m glad that the pictures discussed above are different for that matter. We’ve been considering to do something else instead, something that would be more closely related to Ordo Draconis, but nothing has been decided so far.
19. You have a very tight relationship with the German band Enid, don’t you? I heard members of Ordo Draconis had even offered their skills when Enid were looking for musicians… How do you feel about them having a stable line-up now? Do you fancy their kind of fantasy-folk-metal?
Rahab: I’m not really sure if it is right to say that we or I have a very strong relationship with Enid as a band, but one of Enid’s band members, Florian, is a very dear friend of mine. It really is beyond words to describe what he has meant for Ordo Draconis as a band so far and what he means to me personally as a friend. Apart from that, I think that Enid is a very good band that has something to add to the metal scene. I think their music is unique and that composer/keyboard-player/vocalist Martin is a very (multi-)gifted musician. Somebody that I would enjoy working with! It was me who offered his modest skills in favour of Martin’s compositions some years ago – Flortian had told me that Martin would like to play live once and we were thinking about ways to realise that. I’m not sure that I would have been able to add the right aspects to Enid’s music, but I would have loved to give it a try! However, the fact that we live far apart in different countries didn’t make it very practical to join Enid and it would have been impossible to rehearse on a regular basis. I listen to their “Abschiedsreigen” album quite often – as a matter of fact I am hearing it this very moment, so yes, I obviously like their music. I know they have a complete line-up nowadays – I have even heard some first recording that sounded promising alright and I am very curious what the future will bring for them – from the rumours I have heard, Enid is headed for a bright and ambitious future and I do not wish them anything less!!
20. I also think of your label-mates Obsidian Gate, Rivendell, Vindsval or of Draconis Sanguis, Dornenreich and so on… Would you speak of a new generation of young talented musicians rising at the core of Europe, who are about to make a wind of freshness and unbound creativity blow over the scene? With all due respect for the oldies, do you think it is about time people stop looking back on the classics and always searching traces of Bathory or Darkthrone in the music of today?
Midhir: I’m not so up to date actually, so I wouldn’t know what is happening at the moment. Most stuff that I’ve heard recently, wherever it hails from, does not appeal very much to me. In my more active years as a listener, I noticed Austria was producing quite a few interesting bands, like Korova (now called Korovakill), Abigor, and Summoning, but I can’t tell much more. I do recall now there’s this Italian duo called Ephel Duath, which I’m very keen on. About the second part of our question, metal has often been pretty conservative. I’ve found that part of me is still conservative, still enjoying traces of Darkthrone. The sad thing is that most copycats are not able to capture an atmosphere like Darkthrone did. Perhaps it’s just that there’s a latent potential that I hope will be more fully exploited in the future. Still, (black) metal often wearies me for being so terribly ordinary and unimaginative. If what you refer to, is indeed true, then that’s a good thing.
21. Will Skaldic Art be able to organise a tour soon? I dream every night (I do!) of a showbill with Obsidian Gate, Ordo Draconis, Falkenbach and a few others… Don’t you think that would rule?
Midhir: I can be very short on this, because nothing is certain yet. There were some tentative plans, but I can’t tell beyond that. Perhaps we should arrange a few shows in dreamland, with high-quality equipment to vivify your sense-experience in dreams. I’m not sure about the possibilities, but in that fashion we might do a brilliantly surreal and grotesque performance.
22. However hard I search, when it comes to a Dutch scene, I can’t see farther than female-vocals-oriented bands like The Gathering, After Forever, Orphanage, Within Temptation, or a few death metal pioneers (Thanatos, Threnody…). Do you have relations to those bands? Do you hope to become the “ambassadors” of the Dutch black metal scene, which has been rather discreet until now?
Midhir: You are right that we are among the few black metal bands in a haystack of death metal and doom/death bands here in The Netherlands. We have a lot a good-quality death metal bands around here these days. I’m not so sure about relations with other bands. Some of the other guys are much more involved in the ‘scene’ than I am. Of course, it would be good to be considered the best black metal band from the Netherlands, but I don’t feel any responsibility to the scene, as such a term as ‘ambassador’ would imply.
23. About you Rahab, for how long has it been you goal to play extreme metal in a band? Could you name one (or more) album(s) that gave you the push to grab a guitar and start playing? From now on, could you imagine carrying on an “everyday life” without music?
Rahab: The first ideas for starting a band arose when I was fourteen, but it took a number of years before thing finally started roling. It was already back then that Bob, Moloch and myself wanted to form a band – so it shows once more that patience is a good thing! I don’t think there was a particular album that was the major incentive for me to start playing guitar, but like I mentioned before, I started out playing classical guitar. I already listened to metal back than and I did want to play electric guitar sooner or later but as incedible as it may sound, I wanted to have the right musical fundaments and technical skills before starting to play metal. I thought that taking some classical guitar education was the right way for establishing that. Looking at it now, my assumption back then weren’t very right. It requires different skills and techniques to play electric guitar compared to acoustic guitar, but I am not saying that it was utterly useless or anything, not at all. And apart from that, playing acoustic guitar did broaden my musical horizon – I love the instrument despite the fact that I am not particularly good at playing it. And to tell you a small secret, if I were to chose between electric guitar and acoustic guitar I would chose the latter because of its acoustic honesty, purity and innocence. With an electric guitar you can cover up fuck ups while recording, in principle that’s impossible with an acoustic guitar or acoustic guitar. Fortunately I do not have to chose! I do believe that starting by taking some classical guitar influenced my approach in playing and composing – I am very fond of incorporating influences from classical (guitar) music and using typical chord structures for Ordo Draconis’ music. Another band, one that I am very, very fond of, where this shines through more pominently is Obtained Enslavement on their “Witchcraft” and “Soulblight” albums. A life without music is beyond my imagination – I am always occupied with music in one way or another. Even if there are no instruments or stereo equipment present, I just try and do some composing in my mind. Music is so much more effective and efficient in expressing than words in my view and on the other hand it leaves more space for personal interpretation – I sometimes think that the way to know me best is through “my” music.
24. All right, I guess I have stolen enough of your time now. I can’t think of a better conclusion than you quoting a few lyrics of “The Wing & the Burden” that mean a lot to you. Then don’t forget to leave your contact and web address, and basically anything else you’d like to add…
OK, thanks for the interview and good luck with your magazine. I’m afraid this interview has turned out to be a little long-winded, even by my standards. Then again, you may consider this as an important in-depth interview in the history of Ordo Draconis [ahum]. We’ll put this on our website, if you don’t mind. I find it difficult to give quotes in isolation, because they usually make more sense in their context. Anyhow, the following lines are from ‘Necropolis’:
I may loathe how with contenders Thou viest,
When masked ’mongst a masquerade all the more
All having en masse enticed.
“Yet I owed to Thee, which Thou didst confine,
Ambition not unspoken for,
But Thou canst not ever Thyself undermine,
Hence mute is Thy music: Encore!”