Interviews

Metalfan – January 2006

Een interview met Mir-h iD van Ordo Draconis door Rik

Ordo Draconis stond enige jaren terug nog vooral bekend als één van de vele theatrale black metalbands. Afgelopen jaar leverde de band met het tweeluik “Camera Obscura” echter een bijzonder eigenzinnig, innovatief en gewaagd werkstuk af, dat veel van de luisteraar vraagt, maar ook veel terug geeft. “Camera Obscura pt. I: The Star Chamber Reviews” en “Camera Obscura pt. II: A View with A Room” mogen met recht bestempeld worden als twee van de meest originele albums van 2005. De hoogste tijd voor een interview met toetsenist Mir-h ID dus.

Jullie hebben de laatste jaren nogal wat bezettingswisselingen doorgemaakt. Kun je iets meer vertellen over de situatie na The Wing & the Burden? Als ik dat album vergelijk met het nieuwe materiaal, kan ik me voorstellen dat er behoorlijk wat discussie is geweest over de muzikale directie van de band…

Na het debuut The Wing & the Burden hebben we in de persoon van BM een vaste bassist aangetrokken. Moloch (zang) en Arco (drums) zijn enige tijd later uit de band gestapt. Ze konden zich namelijk niet meer vinden, hoewel om individueel verschillende redenen, in de richting die we aan het inslaan waren en de daarbij passende werkwijze. Na toch zo’n vijf of zes jaren van toewijding hebben ze er een punt achter gezet. Het is niet zo dat we vervolgens een plotselinge aandrang voelden om eens met z’n allen rond de tafel te gaan zitten en ‘t over een heel andere boeg te gaan gooien, maar logischerwijs is sinds hun vertrek wel de nodige ‘elleboogruimte’ ontstaan. Uiteraard is daarmee wel het één en ander veranderd ten opzichte van het vorige album. Je hoort wat nieuwe geluiden, waaronder een andere drummer (Moritz Neuner, sessie), bassist (BM) en zanger (Philip) dan op het debuut. Tel daarbij op een heus koor en verscheidene gastzangers en gastsprekers. De beide gitaristen hebben hun bezigheden ook uitgebreid met wat programmeerwerk, zoals de synths en samples voor “Vesper X”, “Angeldust” en “Debris” (eerste CD) of het intro/outro op de tweede CD. Op Camera Obscura hebben we ook een geluid dat organischer is en beter bij ons past, en dit mede dankzij de niet geringe verdiensten van onze producer/engineer Patrick Damiani (TidalWave Studio in Karlsruhe). Tenslotte moet je niet vergeten dat er ruim vier jaren liggen tussen het uitbrengen van het debuut en Camera Obscura. Gedurende zo’n periode kan uiteraard een hoop gebeuren. Discussie? Ik moet eerlijk bekennen dat we over het algemeen wel af en toe meer ‘lullen dan spelen’, en dat is er de laatste jaren zeker niet minder op geworden. Dat is wel nodig om te voorkomen dat je langs elkaar heen gaat werken. Dit kan lastig zijn omdat je muzikaal gezien soms over geheel andere referentiepunten beschikt of omdat muzikale visie zich niet altijd gemakkelijk in woorden laat vatten, maar dat maakt ‘t er niet minder belangrijk op. Zeker wanneer je je met iets als een conceptalbum bezighoudt. Je kan er voor kiezen om gewoon een liedje met een bepaalde ‘feel’ te schrijven en er vervolgens wat teksten bij bedenken. Daar is helemaal niets mis mee, maar bij ons zijn beide zaken van meet af aan wat nauwer op elkaar afgestemd.

Jullie zijn na The Wing & the Burden ook nog van label gewisseld. Waarom?

The Wing & the Burden is destijds uitgekomen op Skaldic Art Productions, een label dat door de man achter Falkenbach was opgericht om undergroundbands te helpen los van de gedachte of ‘t een paar centen in het laadje brengt of niet. Daarmee heeft hij natuurlijk wel zekere commerciële risico’s genomen, en dat, denk ik althans, heeft ‘t label de das om gedaan. Er zijn de afgelopen jaren wel vaker labels over de kop gegaan, zoals recentelijk nog Elitist Records. Je ziet ook dat sommige labels alleen het hoofd boven water kunnen houden door bijvoorbeeld de distro/mailorder tot eerste prioriteit verheffen of alleen bands te tekenen die toch weinig geld investeren in de productie van hun album. Nu ben ik ook weer geen doemdenker hoor, maar, terug naar ons verhaal, Skaldic Art is niet meer. We waren tijdig ingelicht zodat we op voorhand op zoek konden gaan naar een nieuw label. Zo zijn we in contact gekomen met Opus Magnum Productions, dat nu Camera Obscura heeft uitgebracht. De labeleigenaar is een vriend van ons die zichzelf Hermes noemt. Een vreselijk pompeuze kerel, moet ik zeggen, met beperkte middelen, maar wel een toegewijde, integere gast die ons onvoorwaardelijke vrijheid geeft in ons doen en laten. En dat is zeldzamer dan de meesten misschien denken.

Kun je het concept achter Camera Obscura wat meer toelichten?

Toen we nog niet eens het donkerbruine vermoeden hadden dat ‘t weerbarstige materiaal zich in twee schijven zou opsplitsen (hoe vies dat ook mag klinken), waren de ruwe basisthema’s kennis en macht, en daarmee de onderlinge relaties of juist ‘t gebrek eraan. Dat heeft zich zo uitgekristalliseerd in een aantal nummers. “Sirius Fever” handelt bijvoorbeeld over pseudo-wetenschap en westerse ideeën over primitivisme, terwijl “The Don of Venice” teruggrijpt naar de Urfaust. Eén van de andere nummers is echter een beetje uit de hand gelopen en heet nu Camera Obscura pt 1: The Star Chamber Reviews. Een soort staat binnen een staat. Om meteen maar een bruggetje te slaan, dat wordingsproces sluit merkwaardig genoeg aan bij de hierop gebruikte thematiek, die van Lucifer, de politiek leider die het goddelijk plan voorgoed van koers doet veranderen. We vallen namelijk terug op voor black metal begrippen vreselijk afgezaagde materie: de val van de engelen, de val van de mensheid en een visioen van die ene grote ‘val’ aan het einde der tijden. In eerste instantie zou ik misschien ook m’n bedenkingen plaatsen als dergelijke clichés weer eens van stal worden gehaald, maar feit is dat ze wel beter uitgemolken hadden mogen worden. Hoewel ‘t niet populair is om dit voor criminelen te doen, hebben we geprobeerd het personage, of variaties daarop, psychologisch ‘eerlijker’ te benaderen, en niet slechts als symbool of theologisch concept neergezet, of als de antropologische ‘Ander’. Symbolisme speelt wel een rol, maar meer als iets dynamisch en veranderlijks, bijvoorbeeld als onderdeel van de manier waarop personages uiting geven aan hun conflicterende inzichten. In welke mate je moet sympathiseren met de tragische helden laat ik wel in het midden. Er komt overigens in het hele verhaal geen God voor. Die kun je eerder zien als de mascotte van de schepping. Een soort McDonald clown.

Hoe is het idee voor het Camera Obscura-tweeluik eigenlijk ontstaan en hoe heeft dit omvangrijke project zich door de loop der jaren ontwikkeld? Zijn jullie problemen tegengekomen?

De ontstaansgeschiedenis is een aardig complex proces geweest, waarbij me elke keer weer nieuwe dingen opvallen wanneer ik er aan terugdenk. De problemen die we zijn tegengekomen zijn eigenlijk vooral de uitdagingen die we onszelf hebben aangedaan – dus we mogen niet achteraf gaan mekkeren. Ik denk dat ik daarnet wat de inhoud betreft al een tipje van de sluier heb gelicht. Dan kan ik hier een beetje ingaan op de praktische kant van het gebeuren. Zoals gezegd hadden we niet van tevoren bedacht dat er twee CDs zouden komen. Het materiaal bleek zich gewoon te hoog te hebben opgestapeld om op één CD ondergebracht te kunnen worden. Die voorbereiding heeft veel voeten in de aarde gehad. Lange tijd hebben we ook niet in een typisch bandverband gespeeld, want na het vertrek van Arco (drums) werkten en oefenden we met voorgeprogrammeerde drums. Dit zijn ook de drums op basis waarvan Moritz Neuner (ex-Abigor, ex-Dornenreich, Atrocity, etc.) zijn partijen voor Camera Obscura heeft ingespeeld – fantastisch overigens hoe hij het klaarspeelt om met clicktrack-begeleiding toch nog een geweldige groove neer te zetten. Behalve zonder échte drums hebben we voor een lange periode ook zonder zang geoefend. Tyrann/Philip (tevens actief in de band Vindsval) is weliswaar betrekkelijk snel na het vertrek van Moloch tot de band toegetreden, maar hij woont in Karlsruhe (Duitsland) – dat is voor een wekelijkse oefensessie net een paar kilometers te ver. Voordat we de definitieve stap zetten om de studio in te gaan zijn er nog verscheidene proefopnames gemaakt om de nummers nog eens kritisch onder de loep te kunnen nemen. Op de agenda stonden tevens de koorpartijen en de bijdragen van gastzangers. Daar is een hoop praktisch werk, soms zelfs nachtwerk, bij komen kijken. Overigens maakten we ‘t de koorleden niet makkelijk, maar ze maakten zich er dan ook niet makkelijk vanaf. Binnen de band denk ik dat de moeilijkheden enigszins van persoon tot persoon zullen verschillen. Dat is logisch ook, want iedereen leeft zich uit op weer iets anders. Zo heb ik zelf wel even moeten wennen aan de manier van teksten schrijven, omdat soms eerst en vooral de interactie tussen personages je aandacht vergt. Dat is waaruit motivatie en emotie moeten blijken en die kun je dan niet altijd in lange monologen gaan verwerken. Het verschil tussen de publieke en persoonlijke kant van een personage wordt daarmee ook wat anders vormgegeven. Daarnaast is het ook lastig om zulke gewichtige en verheven thema’s op een enigszins natuurlijke, onverstijfde manier te verwoorden zonder je schuldig te maken aan die gevreesde ‘cringe factor’.

Het tweede gedeelte van Camera Obscura is geen onderdeel meer van het concept, als ik het goed heb begrepen, maar bestaat uit een aantal niet direct gerelateerde nummers. Waarom krijgt het dan toch de naam Camera Obscura mee?

Concepten zijn natuurlijk niet eigen aan conceptalbums. Het ligt er een beetje aan hoe je het begrip ‘conceptalbum’ wilt hanteren, want zoals ik eerder heb geprobeerd te schetsen, gaat achter het geheel wel degelijk een concept schuil. De nummers op het tweede gedeelte zijn thematisch verbonden en in die hoedanigheid wordt er in de teksten soms ook gebruik gemaakt van terugkerende beeldelementen, hetzij specifiek toegespitst op hun functie in het nummer zelf. Het eerste gedeelte vormt in die zin nog een nauwer verbonden geheel, maar het is ook meer een conceptalbum in de zin dat de individuele nummers aan elkaar worden gelijmd door een verhaallijn. Daarmee voldoet ‘t denk ik beter aan de gangbare definitie van ‘conceptalbum’ dan A View with a Room. De overkoepelende titel Camera Obscura betekent letterlijk ‘donkere kamer’ en verwijst concreet naar de voorganger van de camera, een apparaat dat veel voor de kunst en wetenschap heeft betekend. En dat terwijl ‘t feitelijk gewoon een doos/kamer met een gaatje erin is, die dan na een nodige opknapbeurt tot van alles in staat blijkt te zijn. Meer in metaforische zin vertoont ‘t allerlei overeenkomsten met de manier waarop de mens, met zijn vele zintuiglijke hulpmiddelen, de wereld in zich opneemt, verwerkt, compact maakt, rangschikt – of juist in een doosje wegstopt om er verder niet meer naar om te kijken – juist die vervaging en vervlakking (zie ook “Vesper X”). Projectie is hierbij iets wat zich doorzet naar de fysieke wereld, want we doen er natuurlijk van alles mee en ruwweg materialiseert onze belevingswereld zich als een camera obscura, of delen we deze in meerdere fysieke compartimenten in. Het interessante aan de titel is dat hij tegelijkertijd associaties oproept met ruimte en begrenzing, wat dan ook in de ondertitels tot uiting komt, The Star Chamber Reviews en A View with a Room. Overigens hoop ik niet dat luisteraars een link leggen naar de tenenkrommende conceptalbums die nog wel eens in de progrock en de latere progmetal zijn gemaakt, maar gelukkig kleeft er sinds bands als Tool en Radiohead enzo niet meer zo’n ‘kazig’ stigma aan die term als voorheen.

Hoe willen jullie de muziek van Camera Obscura ooit live gaan spelen? Zijn jullie niet bang dat de muziek live aan zijn gelaagdheid moet inboeten?

Ik zie het doel van live spelen niet als ‘t herkauwen van de ‘luistermuziek’ die je op CD ten gehore brengt. Niet dat we ‘t hele concept van live-spelen radikaal willen omgooien, zoals een experimentele rockband als Sun City Girls schijnt te doen, maar de accenten liggen wel wat anders. Gelaagdheid blijft belangrijk, maar ‘t vereist toch een bepaald transparant geluid dat het best tot stand komt in de opnamestudio. Live wordt ‘t überhaupt al gauw fysieker, wat ook zo z’n aantrekkelijke kanten heeft. Zachtere, subtielere momenten lenen zich hier evenmin voor en worden dan ook tot een minimum beperkt of aangepast. Daarbij komt ook wel dat bepaalde stukken exclusief voor het album zijn geschreven, terwijl we bij andere nummers ermee rekening hebben gehouden dat ze op het podium tot hun recht moeten kunnen komen. De zang wordt live overigens verzorgd door 1337_Misanthrope, Rahab en mijzelf.

Zit er nog een (grote) tour aan te komen, of gaan jullie eerst de accu weer opladen?

We zullen zeker wat optredens gaan doen om dit album te promoten en ons gezicht te laten zien. Het eerstvolgende optreden dat ik met zekerheid kan bevestigen zal zijn op 14 januari 2006 in De Gonz in Gouda (www.degonz.nl). Het zal de laatste keer zijn op die locatie, want de sociëteit zal gaan verhuizen. Een heuse Europese tournee lijkt me nog toekomstmuziek, maar is niet volkomen uitgesloten. In oktober hebben we zelfs al een mini-tour in Portugal gedaan met de Portugese band Epping Forest. Het is de bedoeling dat die gasten ergens in de nabije toekomst naar Nederland komen om met ons een paar optredens neer te zetten.

Kun je wat meer toelichting geven over het idee achter het (nogal bizarre) artwork?

De ontwerp(st)er heet Jessica Groenewegen. Zij heeft onze thematische en esthetische ideeën fantastisch weten vorm te geven. Eigenlijk zou het artwork voor zich moeten spreken, maar ik kan wel wat hulpmiddelen aanreiken. De directe overeenkomst tussen de beide hoezen is natuurlijk het perspectief van de ‘donkere kamer’, en dat is weer Nederlands voor camera obscura. Daarnaast zie je een soort omgekeerd Indonesisch schaduwspel (wajang kulit) – omgekeerd in de zin dat ‘t om lichte, perifere verschijningen gaat tegen een donkere achter-/ondergrond. Voor sommige beeldelementen hebben we direct kunnen putten uit de teksten, zoals de zendmast (het machtsbolwerk dat in “Neuron Gutter, Neutron Star” wordt belaagd door een soort van mediapiraat), de vliegen (lord of the flies, de spionnen van “Espionage”) of de dokter met zijn zgn. pestmasker (‘Dr Schnabel’ in “Dancefloor Clinic”). Niet dat ‘t een bonte ratjetoe is geworden van elementen die lukraak bij elkaar zijn gesmeten, maar ze bleken ook in het bredere verband goed bruikbaar. Die vliegen, smoezelige ziektebrengers én meesters van het recyclen, lenen zich er bijvoorbeeld prima voor om verval en tegelijkertijd continuïteit uit te drukken. Het parapluvormige scherm op de eerste schijf The Star Chamber Reviews maakt deel uit van een systeem dat een panopticon wordt genoemd (ja, dat is toevallig ook de titel van een Isis-album). Dit verwijst naar een bepaald architecturaal ontwerp voor een gevangenis, waarvan het idee is dat de bewakers de gevangenen kunnen zien en horen, maar niet andersom. De filosoof Michel Foucault gebruikt die term ook om het belangrijkste mechanisme aan te duiden waarmee machtsstructuren in stand worden gehouden – zie daar weer het thema ‘kennis en macht’. Op weer een andere manier brengt het onder de loep nemen van de facetogen van een vlieg (die hij nodig heeft om te jagen of juist objecten uit de weg te gaan) een bepaalde spanning teweeg tussen zien en gezien worden. Op de hoes van de tweede CD A View with a Room kijk je mee over de schouder van een speurder of gangster, met gleufhoed en al, die zo uit een film noir weggelopen lijkt te zijn. En dat klopt ook. Een aantal kenmerken van dat filmgenre bleek in onze context goed te werken, zoals het suggestieve visuele décor, dat voor een belangrijk deel door bepaalde licht- en schaduweffecten bepaald wordt; of de psychologische strijd van de doortastende, maar niet onkreukbare en uiteindelijk tragische held. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan de figuur Faust in “The Don of Venice”. In het algemeen kun je stellen dat hier uitgelicht is de idee van visie als wapen, alsook de hieraan inherente terugslag. Als kijker wordt je overigens betrokken, bijna medeplichtig gemaakt. Misschien denk je ‘bah, vingers op het boekje’, maar als je eens goed kijkt zal je zien dat je vingerafdruk deel uitmaakt van de hoes. Ik hoop dat ik zo genoeg aanwijzingen heb gegeven die enige houvast kunnen bieden.

Hebben jullie al nagedacht over toekomstplannen? Zal jullie stijl zich in de toekomst weer wat meer richting het oude werk gaan richten, of zullen jullie deze experimenteerdrift nog verder proberen uit te werken?

Het is eerlijk gezegd wat vreemd en onwennig om te praten over je nieuwe plaat wanneer je zelf al een berg nieuwe muziek hebt geschreven en enige muzikale ontwikkeling hebt doorgemaakt. Voor m’n gevoel ligt Camera Obscura al wat jaartjes achter me, terwijl ik inmiddels al behoorlijk wat muziek thuis heb opgenomen, compleet met (voorgeprogrammeerde) drums, bas, gitaar en toetsen, ed. Maar als groep zijn we nog maar net begonnen met het werken aan nieuw material – het is dus nog te vroeg om iets zinnigs te zeggen. Ik denk wel dat stijlvreemde elementen beter geïntegreerd zullen worden. En dat ‘t volgende album geen drieling wordt, maar gewoon één CD. De motivatie en toewijding zit er ook goed bij iedereen in. Eerlijk gezegd vind ik onszelf niet zo experimenteel, maar dat zegt misschien meer over het genre dan over ons. We zullen zeker niet teruggaan naar het oude werk, hoewel het altijd mogelijk is dat oude thema’s nog even een metamorfose ondergaan. Voorlopig zullen luisteraars nog wel een hele kluif hebben aan Camera Obscura, lijkt me. Nog laatste woorden?

Zeer bedankt voor het interview en succes met Metalfan. Als ik mag afsluiten met wat schaamteloze spam: de twee CDs van Camera Obscura zijn samen € 20,-, inclusief verzending. Je kunt direct via ons bestellen door een e-mail sturen naar rahab@ordodraconis.com. Samples zijn te beluisteren op een tweetal plaatsen: op onze website www.ordodraconis.com, en op de MySpace-pagina www.myspace.com/ordodraconis. Er zijn tevens longsleeves en T-shirts van Camera Obscura verkrijgbaar: bezoek de website voor meer info. Als er zalen geïnteresseerd zijn om ons voor optredens te boeken, zijn ze meer dan welkom om even contact met ons op te nemen via hetzelfde e-mailadres hierboven.


Zware Metalen – December 2005

Interview with Rahab in Zware Metalen (The Netherlands).

Met het Camera Obscura tweeluik bracht Ordo Draconis twee ijzersterke CD’s uit. Deze klasseband verdient het dan ook zeker om onder de aandacht te worden gebracht. Vandaar dus een interview met Rahab.

Allereerst wil ik je feliciteren met het resultaat van Camera Obscura. Waarom eigenlijk twee CD’s in één keer?

Dank je wel! We zijn er zelf ook erg blij; we hebben erg lang aan het album gewerkt en het is zonder meer een zware bevalling geweest, maar bij terughoren gelukkig wel erg de moeite waard. Helemaal in het begin was het de bedoeling dat het gewoon één CD zou worden, maar toen bleek dat we wel erg veel noten en melodietjes bij elkaar hadden geveegd, hebben we besloten er twee van te maken. Nu hadden we toch al een conceptueel deel op het album gepland, dat ongeveer de helft van de totale muziek bleek te bestrijken. Dat maakte de splitsing in twee CD’s alleen nog maar natuurlijker. CD 1 The Star Chamber Reviews bevat nu het concept gedeelte en A View With a Room een aantal losse nummers.

Camera Obscura is qua stijl toch een hele verandering ten opzichte van The Wing and the Burden. Is de stijlwijziging destijds ook de reden geweest dat Moloch en Arco zijn opgestapt? En weet je toevallig ook waar ze zich nu mee bezighouden?

Zelf zie ik het meer als een verdere ontwikkeling dan dat we radicaal het roer omgegooid hebben – we hebben niet een moment gehad van “.. en nu gaan we het helemaal anders doen”. Maar ik ben met je eens, dat mede door de lange tijd die er tussen The Wing & the Burden en Camera Obscura heeft gezeten, de muziek (nog even los van de productie) veranderd is. We hebben bijvoorbeeld een aantal nieuwe elementen geïntroduceerd zoals de koorpartijen, het gebruik met samples, etc. Desondanks heb ik van veel mensen gehoord, dat ze het toch nog steeds duidelijk herkenbaar vinden als Ordo Draconis. Ergens is dat ook niet zo raar omdat er ook nummers op staan die eigenlijk ouder zijn dan het meeste materiaal dat op The Wing & the Burden terecht is gekomen.
Het meer experimentele karakter van (een deel van) het materiaal op Camera Obscura, of iig de manier waarop dat is ingevuld, is inderdaad een belangrijke reden geweest voor Moloch en Arco om uit Ordo Draconis te gaan. Zij zitten nu beiden in de meer old school black metal band Weltbrand, onze andere gitarist 1337_Misanthrope heeft daar ook een tijd lang deel van uitgemaakt. Ze hebben net hun tweede CD opgenomen. Moloch maakt daarnaast deel uit van Funeral Winds en tal van projecten als ik het goed begrepen heb.

In mijn review omschreef ik Ordo Draconis als een mix van Arcturus, LimbonicArt en Kovenant (ten tijde van Nexus Polaris). Kan je met deze omschrijving leven en wil je eventueel nog wat andere bands noemen die van invloed zijn geweest? Ik kan me namelijk niet aan de indruk onttrekken dat je een brede muzieksmaak moet hebben.

Haha, voor wat betreft die brede muzieksmaak zou je zo maar eens gelijk kunnen hebben. Ik heb zo’n vermoeden dat de muziek die ik nu op de achtergrond heb er bij de meeste metalheads ook niet in gaat….en wat zal ik zeggen, ik ben binnen de Ordo-gelederen zeker niet degene met de meest bizarre muzikale voorkeuren. Alle bandleden zijn muzikaal wel tamelijk open minded; dat werkt wel erg prettig.
Als recensent is aan jou de taak om aan te geven waar een CD je (enigszins) aan doet denken en zo de lezer een bepaalde referentie mee te geven. Dat is altijd iets subjectiefs en hangt van je eigen referentiekader af. In die zin kan ik met de meeste beschrijvingen wel leven…. hoewel van de geijkte Cradle of Filth en Dimmu Borgir vergelijkingen, omdat wij toevallig ook een keyboardspeler in de band hebben, bepaalde zaakjes wel redelijk gaan hangen. De link naar Arcturus wordt wel vaker gelegd in recensies, de overige twee lees ik minder vaak. Ook Emperor en Ephel Duath kom ik nog wel eens tegen. De range aan muzikale invloeden waaruit we hebben geput is zo enorm, dat het denk ik niet zo zinvol is om die hier nu op te gaan sommen. Het belangrijst is om over te krijgen dat we muziek maken met iets van wortels in black metal, maar dat we duidelijk een muzikaal experiment en/of uitdaging niet uit de weg gaan. Voor de bands die in recensies genoemd worden, ook Sigh, Aborym of Dodheimsgard ben ik wel eens tegengekomen, geldt in de regel min of meer hetzelfde, alleen hebben die hun muzikale uitdaging/experiment op hun manier ingevuld en wij op de onze.

Het artwork voor Camera Obscura is vrij apart te noemen. Wie heeft het gemaakt en wat is het idee achter de hoezen?

Rahab: .. deze speel ik even door aan de hulptroepen….
Mir h iD: De ontwerp(st)er heet Jessica Groenewegen. Zij heeft onze thematische en esthetische ideeën fantastisch weten vorm te geven. Eigenlijk zou het artwork voor zich moeten spreken, maar ik kan wel wat hulpmiddelen aanreiken. De directe overeenkomst tussen de beide hoezen is natuurlijk het perspectief van de ‘donkere kamer’, en dat is weer Nederlands voor Camera Obscura. Daarnaast zie je een soort omgekeerd Indonesisch schaduwspel (wajang kulit) – omgekeerd in de zin dat ’t om lichte, perifere verschijningen gaat tegen een donkere achter-/ondergrond. Voor sommige beeldelementen hebben we direct kunnen putten uit de teksten, zoals de zendmast (het machtsbolwerk dat in Neuron Gutter, Neutron Star wordt belaagd door een soort van mediapiraat), de vliegen (lord of the flies, de spionnen van Espionage) of de dokter met zijn zgn. pestmasker (‘Dr Schnabel’ in Dancefloor Clinic). Niet dat ’t een bonte ratjetoe is geworden van elementen die lukraak bij elkaar zijn gesmeten, maar ze bleken ook in het bredere verband goed bruikbaar. Die vliegen, smoezelige ziektebrengers én meesters van het recyclen, lenen zich er bijvoorbeeld prima voor om verval en tegelijkertijd continuïteit uit te drukken. Het parapluvormige scherm op de eerste schijf The Star Chamber Reviews maakt deel uit van een systeem dat een panopticon wordt genoemd (ja, dat is toevallig ook de titel van een Isis album). Dit verwijst naar een bepaald architecturaal ontwerp voor een gevangenis, waarvan het idee is dat de bewakers de gevangenen kunnen zien en horen, maar niet andersom. De filosoof Michel Foucault gebruikt die term ook om het belangrijkste mechanisme aan te duiden waarmee machtsstructuren in stand worden gehouden. Op weer een andere manier brengt het onder de loep nemen van de facetogen van een vlieg (die hij nodig heeft om te jagen of juist objecten uit de weg te gaan) een bepaalde spanning teweeg tussen zien en gezien worden. Op de hoes van de tweede CD A View with a Room kijk je mee over de schouder van een speurder of gangster, met gleufhoed en al, die zo uit een film noir weggelopen lijkt te zijn. En dat klopt ook. Een aantal kenmerken van dat filmgenre bleek in onze context goed te werken, zoals het suggestieve visuele décor, dat voor een belangrijk deel door bepaalde licht- en schaduweffecten bepaald wordt; of de psychologische strijd van de doortastende, maar niet onkreukbare en uiteindelijk tragische held. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan de figuur Faust in The Don of Venice. In het algemeen kun je stellen dat hier uitgelicht is de idee van visie als wapen, alsook de hieraan inherente terugslag. Als kijker wordt je overigens betrokken, bijna medeplichtig gemaakt. Misschien denk je ‘bah, vingers op het boekje’, maar als je eens goed kijkt zul je zien dat je vingerafdruk deel uitmaakt van de hoes. Ik hoop dat ik zo genoeg aanwijzingen heb gegeven die enige houvast kunnen bieden.

Tyrann past precies bij de muziek die jullie maken. Hoe zijn jullie bij hem terecht gekomen? Hij is nou niet direct de meest logische keuze lijkt mij, in verband met afstand en degelijke.

Tyrann is tevens zanger in het Luxemburgse Vindsval. Die band stond net als wij onder contract bij het Duitse Skaldic Art Productions. Voor de CD presentatie van The Wing & the Burden hadden we destijds gevraagd of zij voor ons wilden openen. Het klikte meteen heel erg goed tussen beide bands en er ontstond dan ook een vriendschap. Tyrann had al eens tamelijk a-subtiel laten doorschemeren dat hij erg gecharmeerd was van The Wing & the Burden. En op het moment dat Moloch Ordo verliet, was hij dan ook, ondanks dat hij Ordo Draconis liever in de The Wing.. line-up had zien blijven bestaan, graag bereid om de microfoon over te nemen. Nu waren wij op onze beurt ook wel weer erg onder de indruk van Tyranns vocale prestaties zowel op Vindsvals geweldige debuut CD Imperium Grotesque alsook live. Tel daar de klik op persoonlijk niveau nog eens bij op en je zult begrijpen dat we hem er graag bij wilden hebben. Hoewel Vindsvals muziek duidelijk anders klinkt dan die van ons, is er wel een sterke analogie in de manier waarop we met muziek bezig zijn, en dat maakte dat we vanaf het begin doorhadden dat we goed zouden kunnen samenwerken. Ik denk dat de resultaten op Camera Obscura daar ook naar zijn.

Overigens is het leeuwendeel van de CD opgenomen in de studio van, en samen met, Vindsval gitarist Patrick (de Tidal Wave Studio in Karlsruhe), een jonge maar bijzonder getalenteerde producer/geluidsengineer. Het is heel erg prettig werken met mensen, die vanzelfsprekend een eigen kijk op de dingen hebben, maar die van nature aanvoelen welke kant je op wilt, ik hoop dan ook van harte dat we in de toekomst weer in Karlsruhe zullen opnemen.

Hoe doen jullie dit met oefenen? Ik neem aan dat Tyrann niet wekelijks effe naar Zuid Holland rijdt om even een stukkie muziek te maken.

Nee, daar heb je gelijk in, sterker nog, momenteel heeft Tyrann het zo druk met andere zaken dat 1337_Misanthrope, Mir-h iD en ikzelf de honeurs vocaal waarnemen live. Meeoefenen heeft Tyrann ueberhaupt nauwelijks gedaan. Dat is ook niet persé nodig; als je met zelfstandige en gedisciplineerde mensen werkt waarvan je weet wat je aan ze hebt. Vindsval, Tyranns andere band, oefent ook hoogst zelden, maar is een geweldige live band, juist om die reden. Ook in de aanloop naar de CD opnamen hebben we nauwelijks met hem geoefend, wel is er uitvoerig gesproken en gecommuniceerd over hoe de teksten en de zang in te vullen. We hebben Tyrann van de muziek voorzien en in de studio zijn uiteindelijk de laatste details ingevuld. Naar grote tevredenheid mag ik wel zeggen, de afwisseling in de zang en de vocale effecten zijn aspecten die me erg goed bevallen aan ons nieuwe album.

Ordo Draconis is net terug van een mini tourtje door Portugal samen met Epping Forest. Hoe waren de reacties daar? En hebben jullie daar nog noemenswaardige dingen meegemaakt?

Dat Portugese avontuur was echt een geweldige ervaring! Het ging uiteindelijk maar om 3 optredens maar het was het dubbel en dwars waard. Ik heb al lange tijd een aantal geweldige vrienden in Portugal, één daarvan, Pinto drumt in de Portugese black metal band Epping Forest. Hij heeft de organisatie van het hele gebeuren voor zijn rekening genomen, en daarnaast, omdat onze eigen drummer niet in de gelegenheid was naar Portugal af te reizen, eveneens de drums voor Ordo Draconis verzorgd tijdens onze Portugese optredens. Hij speelde dus steeds twee optredens per avond. Gelukkig kon hij tijdens de Ordo optredens steeds weer een beetje op adem komen na de razendsnelle nummers van zijn eigen band Epping Forest. Het gegeven dat Pinto gewend is om nummers op een wat hogere snelheid te spelen maakte, dat het best even aanpoten was voor onszelf met de nieuwe nummers. We waren allemaal een paar dagen voor de optredens al naar Portugal afgereisd om gezamenlijk een aantal keer te kunnen oefenen. Zonder te oefenen met een nieuwe drummer het podium op stappen was voor ons ook wat veel van het goede hahaha. Een van de leuke dingen van het Portugal verhaal was dat we verbleven in het ouderlijk huis van iemand van de Epping Forest crew en we op die manier een veel beter beeld kregen van leven in Portugal dan het geval zou zijn geweest als we ergens in een pension hadden gezeten. In z’n algemeenheid durf ik na Portugal wel te stellen dat we op het gebied van gastvrijheid nog wel het een en ander kunnen leren hier.
De optredens zelf gingen, zeker gegeven de stand-in drummer erg goed; en over de hele linie was de respons dienovereenkomstig. Vooral het jonge, erg enthousiaste publiek in Guimaraes was erg leuk, maar ook het derde optreden, waarbij we een metalfest in Porto headlineden was super.

Epping Forest staat overigens op het punt hun debuut CD uitbrengen. Het is ook de bedoeling dat ze na de release naar de lage landen komen, zodat ook Nederland met de muzikale wervelwinden van deze Portugese heerschappen kennis kan maken.

Hoe spelen jullie de nummers live? Door alle gastzangers lijkt me dit vrij moeilijk. Moet ik aan iets als een DAT tape denken?

Gelukkig heb je live altijd zelf de hand in welke nummers je gaat brengen, sommige nummers die op Camera Obscura zijn gekomen zijn nooit bedoeld geweest om ook live te gaan doen. Het is ook niet een hoofddoel live (geforceerd) een zo exact mogelijke kopie van het nummer zoals dat op CD is beland neer te zetten, dan kun je immers beter thuis de CD opzetten. Bepaalde elementen uit de nummers passen we live een beetje aan om de vaart erin te houden of om ze eenvoudiger hanteerbaar te maken. Met de nieuwe nummers is het al best een hele klus om instrument en vocalen te combineren. Overigens gaan in het live geluid veel details toch vaak verloren. We maken hier en daar wel gebruik van opgenomen stukken muziek die worden afgespeeld, maar op dit moment alleen nog als intro of tussenstuk, niet geïntegreerd in de muziek. Op het moment dat je met een tape of disc mee speelt, legt dat de vrijheid in tempo bijvoorbeeld aan banden. De drummer moet dan met een hoofdtelefoon op gaan spelen, misschien iets voor de toekomst maar we zien ook duidelijk de draw-back van de beperking.

Jullie zijn de eerste release op Opus Magnum Productions. Hoe zijn jullie in contact met dit label gekomen en hoe bevalt de samenwerking met zo’n toch onervaren label?

Labelbaas Hermes diende zich enkele jaren geleden aan, toen ik meer met hem en z’n ideeën bekend raakte, bleek het erg goed te klikken. Toen op een gegeven ogenblik duidelijk werd dat Camera Obscura niet zou uitkomen op Skaldic Art Productions, dat op dat moment ons label was, liet Hermes ons weten dat hij het album graag via zijn jonge label Opus Magnum Productions wilde uit brengen. Wij zijn daar toen op ingegaan en uiteindelijk geschiedde het ook zo.
Een samenwerking met een jong, klein en onervaren label heeft voor- en nadelen. De middelen zijn beperkt, dat weet je van te voren; aspecten als ideologie, idealisme, enthousiasme en integriteit wegen daar dan weer tegenop. We hebben in principe alle vrijheid waar we om zouden kunnen vragen, maar we worden dan ook wel verondersteld ons steentje bij te dragen aan het commerciële aspect van de release. De distributie en promotie zijn zaken waar Opus Magnum nog duidelijk in zou kunnen groeien, ik heb begrepen dat er hard aan wordt gewerkt. Ondanks zijn ongrijpbare aard is Hermes wel iemand waar je op kunt bouwen. Voor dit album ben ik er in ieder geval van overtuigd dat we op het juiste label zitten en dat is een goed gevoel.

Met welke bands zou Ordo Draconis graag eens op tour willen gaan?

Bij een wat langere tour lijkt het me vooral belangrijk dat je het goed met de andere bands kunt vinden, bands als Vindsval (Lux), Geist (D) of Epping Forest (Por) zouden dan uitstekende gegadigden zijn. Van alledrie deze bands is de muziek daarnaast ook nog eens erg sterk. Zouden we als support met een grotere band meekunnen, dan zouden bands als Emperor of Arcturus hoog op mijn lijstje staan. Zouden ze nog hebben bestaan, dan had Lux Occulta me ook wel wat geleken.

Zal de volgende CD in dezelfde stijl als Camera Obscura liggen, of zal Ordo Draconis zich nog verder gaan ontwikkelen en nog meer stijlvreemde invloeden gaan gebruiken in hun muziek?

Het ligt niet in onze bedoeling om ook nog een Camera Obscura deel 3 te gaan maken. We zullen ons in ieder geval verder proberen te ontwikkelen. Overigens denk ik dat Camera Obscura zo divers is dat het lastig aan te geven is wat nu precies de stijl is, divers zal het vervolg ongetwijfeld ook gaan worden en er zullen ongetwijfeld elementen terug gaan keren die we op Camera.. hebben geïntroduceerd.
We zijn net begonnen ietwat concreter na te gaan denken over de opvolger voor Camera Obscura (en stiekum ook al over een mogelijke CD daarna..). Er ligt al een hele stapel ideeën, zowel muzikaal als conceptueel, maar het zal veel werk vergen die richting te gaan geven en te gaan stroomlijnen. Het is overigens wel de bedoeling er dan weer gewoon één CD van te maken. Het basisconcept leent zich uitstekend voor een kruisbestuiving met andere muziekstijlen, ik ben erg benieuwd of we er een leuke draai aan zullen kunnen geven. Het is op dit moment nog wat vroeg om er echt in detail al iets over te kunnen zeggen.

Tot slot wil ik je graag bedanken voor dit interview en wil ik de welbekende laatste woorden aan jou overlaten.

Wel allereerst bedankt dat je ons middels dit interview de gelegenheid hebt gegeven om de lezers van Zware Metalen iets meer te vertellen over Ordo Draconis. Mochten er geïnteresseerden zijn die nog iets meer willen weten, die kunnen onze homepage www.ordodraconis.com eens bezoeken. Er zijn daar ook een aantal MP3s met samples van Camera Obscura te downloaden. Bestellen van Camera Obscura kan direct via ons voor 20 euro (beide CD’s inclusief verzendkosten) – stuur een mailtje naar rahab@ordodraconis.com.
Tot slot zijn we druk op zoek naar podia die ons willen boeken voor optredens om het materiaal van Camera Obscura ook live ten gehore te brengen… dus ook wat betreft geïnteresseerde zaaltjes: neem gerust contact op!

Vampire Magazine – December 2005

Rahab interviewed by Isaak of Vampire Magazine (The Netherlands)

First of all congratulations with the release of ‘Camera’! How has it been received so far?

Rahab: Thank you very much. The response we have had so far has been extremely good, surpassing any expectations. I’m convinced that less positive reviews and feedback will follow in due time, but until now it’s really nothing but praises and (near) maximum scores. Although it is not a key-drive, it is always nice to hear people are enjoying what we have created, especially after the long and intensive labour. We’re also very pleased ourselves with our beautiful twins

Ordo Draconis is clearly a band that think and compose beyond well-known paths, patterns and metal-dogmas. This is especially unusual for a Dutch band. How do you explain this?

I think every band will probably approach their music in the way they feel most comfortable with. How precisely other bands do so, and if that is very different from Ordo Draconis’ approach I can’t really tell, nor is it any concern really. Fact is that Ordo Draconis’ members are quite open-minded when it comes to musical styles and influences. On top of that, we enjoy (musical) challenges. Basically everything that supports the mood we aim to create or the emotion we want to get across goes. I do not see why we should restrict ourselves to a limited part of the toolbox – sometimes one is in need of a screwdriver, sometimes of a crowbar. The expansion of the toolbox compared to our previous album “The Wing & the Burden” has been one of the reasons for our former vocalist and drummer to leave; clearly they were not feeling comfortable with the more experimental edge that was introduced into Ordo Draconis’ music.

In an earlier interview you’ve mentioned that the Dutch metal scene has not produced much of any significance. Have you seen any progression these last few years and what position do you want Ordo Draconis to have within the Dutch scene and abroad?

Hahaha, wow nice research – since I didn’t remember making such a blunt statement I looked up the interview… and what can I say: it wasn’t me hehehe. It was our keyboard player replying to that one… so death threats should be sent to him! No, but seriously – the interviewer did not mention “Dutch metal scene”, but “your scene” in his question. Mir-h iD interpreted that as the Dutch black metal scene rather than the Dutch metal scene in total – of course he is aware that in other metal subgenres like death and doom metal for instance Dutch bands have done quite a bit of pioneering. Also the interpretation of the word “significance” might have differed a bit between the two of you. I think Mir-h iD is more or less referring to how well known or influential Dutch black metal bands had been until that point rather than commenting on how good their music was, but that is just my interpretation. To be honest, I’m not that much up to date when it comes to the evolution of the Dutch metal scene in general or the Dutch black metal scene in particular. Some new comers that managed to arouse my interest are Carach Angren, Control Human Delete and Dimensional Psychosis. Concerning our position in the scene, it should be clear that with the release of “Camera Obscura” we are aiming at world domination! (are you pondering what I’m pondering?) But seriously, I consider music art – and that view leaves little space for the concept of competition. I do not have a view of Ordo Draconis’ position in the sense of ranking. I do have the impression that we kind of drifted off from boundaries of the conventional subgenres… and I don’t think I really mind. Black metal still is the subgenre we feel closest related to. I hope that with the release of “Camera Obscura” we will be able to reach a lot of metal fans within both the Dutch and the international metal scene.

How is the writing process in the band? Is there hierarchy?

There is not really a hierarchical structure within the band, though people tend to take up roles that suit them best. Mir-h iD, 1337_Misanthrope and yours truly are responsible for composing the Ordo Draconis songs. We work on the basis of consensus as much as we can, and we almost always succeed, but like with any cooperation sometimes small compromises have to be made. Most of the time, we work from a certain concept or a certain idea. This can be both musically and thematically and often combined. The extent to which this offers a structure to the song differs from song to song. Subsequently the three of us work together on how we fill in the idea with small pieces of music that we had composed individually. It’s also during these sessions we try to implement references, small musical jokes and further subtleties in the songs. Finally the actual lyrics to the song are written.

Some parts of the album are very organic while others are extremely digital. Does the band compose in all sorts of ways on all kinds of instruments?

I guess you might say so – the composing band members already have different approaches when it comes to writing their individual parts. For instance 1337_Misanthrope has more of an intuitive jamming approach, while I hear the music before I know how to play it… or even before I’m actually able to play it. The other two guys are multi-instrumentalists; this provides them relatively much freedom when composing; Mir-h iD also plays guitar quite well and manages a bit on drums and bass as well, and 1337_Misanthrope is both an OK drummer and a very good bass-player. For “Camera Obscura” the three of us also started programming music on PC, using music software, samples, softsynths, etc – this offered us quite some additional possibilities. It also proved very useful for the parts sung by the choir; apart from getting some impression of what their parts would sound like – these programs also had options for printing their sheet music.

The lyrics on CD 1 “The Star Chamber reviews” are a concept. Tell us how this came to be. (Was there music first and after that the lyrical concept or the other way around?) Could you explain to our readers the (lyrical) concept of “The Star Chamber Reviews”

Well the concept was kind of like an expanding entity, really haha. In the very, very beginning it just concerned one song. During secondary school I read the play “Lucifer” by the renowned Dutch playwright Joost van de Vondel. I was particularly fascinated by the angle of approach Vondel chose for his play, Lucifer not being the typical villain, but rather an anti-hero drawn into a tragic situation and standing up for his beliefs and values with pride and accepting the consequences of his actions. It’s hard not to sympathize with this character. I proposed to do something with the subject to the other guys. Clearly we had to “ordonize” things a bit and decided to create a song in two parts. The first part would describe the course of events and the second would reflected on these events in a court of law setting, The same musical themes were used in both parts, though in the second part they were slightly reworked – a twist of truth if you want. It is in this second part that we included an excerpt from Vondel’s play. For the sake of nostalgia we even found a former Dutch teacher of ours willing to do the narration, haha. Under this constellation, the song “Mock Trial” was born – in essence it is quite an old song – older than most of the material featured on “The Wing & the Burden”. Now this Vondel-fellow had written another play entitled “Adam in Exile” (“Adam in Ballingschap”), dealing with the fall of man; another fascinating topic and we decided to do a song on this theme (“The Writhing Tongue”) after one on the fall of the angels. Though for the second song we didn’t look that much over Vondel’s aged shoulder. It more and more became a challenge to treat these cliché-subjects – let’s face it in both literature and metal lyrics they have turned up thousands of times – in an innovative way, so they became interesting and fresh again. The most extreme example of this has become “Neuron Gutter, Neutron Star”, which deals with the apocalypse in an industrialized post modern setting. Various elements from the Revelations of St John were picked up, cleaned out, restyled, industrialized, digitalized and made ready for post modern society. It’s is kind of difficult to comment on the complete concept in just a few lines. Basically the actual songs on “The Star Chamber Reviews” deal with Lucifer’s finest or darkest hours according to Christian lore: the fall of the angels, the fall of man and the apocalypse. On a somewhat deeper level, the songs deal with concepts of truth, knowledge and perspective.

Did you plan ‘Camera’ to be this varied and majestic from the beginning or is it just the way it turned out to be.

Well, things kind of evolved, like I already mentioned in the previous question, in particular for the “The Star Chamber Reviews” CD. One song became two; two songs became three. Then we decided we wanted to make a kind of unity, by linking the songs together through interludes and of course the concept should have an intro and an outro. These parts were very suitable for trying something different – experimenting around a bit. I believe also the large time span over which the material has been written has contributed to the variety of the album. Next to that musical tastes and hence our musical influences of the members contributing to the composing cover a broad musical spectrum. And on top of that we enjoy musical challenges – for instance, we did want to do some experiments with a choir. So I wouldn’t really say it was planned like this from the very beginning, but we kind of had it coming.

The album has taken a few years to be written and recorded. I’ve read that it especially took a long time to record all the vocals. Why is that?

It’s true – it was in particular the recording of the choir parts and its preparations that required a lot of time. It was a very educative experience though. First we had to familiarize ourselves with the possibilities and limitations of choir voices. Working with multiple melody lines for the vocals was also quite new to us. We wanted to try out a couple of different things and not stick to some kind of Therion copy. For instance we wanted to try something with Gregorian chant, a part a bit in the vein of the songs from the Carmina Burana by Carl Orff but also a part with more jazz and film music influences – to give a few examples. The communication with the choir was really a clash of cultures, and therefore a very interesting experience! These guys and girls are used to read their lines from paper music and communicate about music in an utterly different way. Clearing things out with respect to what they would be able to sing and preparing the music in such a way that they would be able to work with it also required a lot of time. The actual choir rehearsals were in a relatively short time span before the actual recording. In that sense, despite the long preparations, the choir experiment was still kind of pressure cooked. Considering that for all of the choir members but one it was their first studio experience, I think they have done a more than fine job!

You’ve been to 5 studios to make ‘Camera’ the way it is. That’s a lot. Which studios have you been to and why?

Because we wanted to use different voices for the different characters in the songs of the conceptual “The Star Chamber Reviews” CD, we had to find quite a few good vocalists. Not all of these people, including the choir, were to keen on going all the way to Karlsruhe to record their parts. It was in the Tidal Wave Studio in Karlsruhe that all the instruments were recorded and the mixing was done. All in all “Camera Obscura” came to be in two studios in Gouda, two studios in Karlsruhe and one in Porta Westfalica.

How did you get all those guest musicians to appear and who are they?

Hahaha.. the old-boys network eh! But seriously, we have been around for quite a few years and over the years we got in touch with quite a few people. In a number of cases, special friendships grew and some of these people we approached to make a contribution to “Camera Obscura”. Because at the time of the recording we were without a drummer, we had decided to work with a session musician. A friend of mine, Alboin from the German bands Enid and Geist, got me in touch with Moritz Neuner, who has mistreated or is mistreating the skins in a seemingly endless list of renowned bands including Dornenreich, Abigor, Darkwell and Atrocity. He was very much interested in working with us and liked our avantgardistic approach to our music. After 2 years without a drummer and finally deciding to work with a session drummer ironically enough, two drummers contacted us while we were in the studio recording “Camera Obscura”. One of them was our current drummer Marco – who was playing in Altar before he joined us. The complete list of guest musicians is mentioned in the CD booklets; some of them are mentioned with their own name, others with nicknames, for legal reasons – what really matters to us is that we know who these people are and that their contributions are on the album.

After my review you sent me an email. Though my review was extremely positive, you would have liked it to be more complete. You seem like a perfectionist. Which is good obviously but aren’t you afraid when it comes to making music that thinking things over too much is damaging the emotional impact and honesty?

Let me start by putting straight that I am not trying to tell you how to do your job as a reviewer, nor do I feel the slightest urge to. I do have my personal view of course and there were some elements in your review that struck me; it was clear that you had enjoyed the album a lot – which is of course nice to read as an artist – but somehow the reason why felt a bit missing.. there must have been more than that it was different from what you hear mostly. As a reader who wants to be informed, I would have been interested in that (hadn’t I known all the details already of course, like in this particular case, hehe). Anyway…now for your actual question – which is a fairly interesting one from a rhetorical point of view. What you suggest is that perfectionists (might) think too much, and that thinking too much makes music less honest and reduces emotional impact, right? I guess it is clear by now that we give a lot of thought to what we do musically, and we enjoy that a lot – I don’t think it necessarily leads to rigidity or sterility. For the music we play, we put exactly the right amount of thought into it, hehe. I think we are perfectionists in the sense that we are trying to get the best we possibly can, but we are also realists enough to see in certain aspects the means are restricted and limiting the outcome. I believe things start to go wrong when you are perfectionist in such a way that you stop trying or keep on rejecting results. I do not think that giving something a lot of thought makes it less honest, possibly less intuitive. In my view, certain aspects of the composing for Ordo Draconis can be and are done intuitively, other aspects like conceptualization require more conscious thought. With respect to emotional impact and honesty, I think that the recording and then in particular, the number of takes and the cutting and pasting of parts will be more of a concern than the composing… but in particular when musicians do not have the skills to play what they want to, or when they have so much skill that they try to get the smallest thingings out and the whole thing loses “the feel”.

I am not a child of the black metal scene so I am not familiar with your earliest releases. ‘Camera’ has some references to black metal but it’s way beyond. Do you want to break with that scene? Do you think it has bled to death?

We do not think in terms of being part of a particular scene – we simply do our thing and that is that. If I were to appoint a metal subgenre to which our music is related to closest, then that would be black metal, not in the least because it is relatively undefined in terms of music. If other people believe that, what we are doing nowadays has nothing to do with black metal anymore, then that’s also fine with me. I think on our previous releases our music could be characterized as black metal more easily. However, I think it is important to offer people some indication of what you sound like as a band, and it is therefore that we decided to label the music “post-black metal”; to indicate our black metal roots, but to also make clear that people shouldn’t expect something like Darkthrone or Cradle of Filth for that matter. No, I don’t think that black metal has bled to death at all – despite a mighty legion of poor copycats active in the black metal scene, there is still a lot of interesting stuff coming out… fortunately!

When doing research after your band I noticed the press is enthusiastic but a lot of fans/listeners call Ordo Draconis arrogant and pretentious. How do you react to this and how did this come?

Hmmm I’m curious for your sources – I do check the internet every now and then (I assume that’s where you got your info from) and I don’t really have the general impression that we’re viewed as being arrogant. Don’t think it would make too much sense either – so in that sense I’m a bit surprised I guess. I’d like to hear what grounds people would have to state we’re arrogant. Possibly it is simply based on a misinterpretation or a misunderstanding of the context in which we made a certain statement – like with your question on the Dutch scene… Personally, I would say we’re ambitious and self-convinced, or better: self-aware, rather than pretentious and/or arrogant…. But other people may think differently…I don’t know.

Tell us about Ordo Draconis and Opus Magnum Productions. Are you their only signing?

Yes we are the only band on Opus Magnum. Opus Magnum Productions is a small underground label run by a rather mysterious Hermes. Our previous album “The Wing & the Burden” had been released through Skaldic Art Productions, the label from Vratyas Vakyas from Falkenbach. However, this label does no longer exist. When it became clear that “Camera Obscura” was not going to be released through Skaldic Art we started looking for other options. Then Opus Magnum came into the picture. Especially the label’s views on art and philosophy resembled our own strikingly closely and though quite some time went by before the mystical marriage between label and band was concluded, there had been an instant click. For the time being I’m convinced we’re on the right label. I think Opus Magnum’s policy is quite different from most labels – we have really all the (artistic) freedom we could ask for, in every aspect, and we have influence on how things are done with respect to our album, but on the other hand the label is demanding when it comes to commitment. And it makes sense I guess: why should a label believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself? Why should a label invest a lot, if you’re not willing to work your ass of yourself to reach your own goals? And on the other hand, if you work your ass off – you should also be permitted to say a few words on how things are to be done. I hoped you liked this interview. Do you have anything to add?

Yes, I’ve enjoyed this interview a lot – thank you very much! Well if your readers got ’till here, I think I’ve taken enough of their time. Let me finish off with the following: People interested in knowing a bit more about Ordo Draconis and our latest record, please check out our homepage: www.ordodraconis.com – there are a couple of mp3’s from the new album on the site. “Camera Obscura” can be directly purchased from us for 20 euros (inc p&p) – feel free to get in touch (rahab@ordodraconis.com). Finally, after Portugal, we also plan to do a number of concerts in the Netherlands in support of the new album, so I hope to see you all there!


Lords of Metal – December 2005

Lords of Metal (The Netherlands)

Ordo Draconis (Orde Van De Draak) is een Hongaars instituut wat zijn oorsprong rond het jaar 1400 heeft. De orde hield zich toendertijd vooral bezig met het beschermen van Europa tegen de expansionele driften van het Ottomaanse rijk. De orde bestaat nog steeds en zet zich nu in voor culturen die zich inzetten voor de rechten en waarden van anderen. Check deze link voor een uitgebreide uitleg. Daarnaast staat deze naam ook garant voor een degelijke Nederlandse post-black metal band. En het is een band waar we wel degelijk trots op mogen zijn. Hun vorige werk ken ik niet, dus mijn mening is geheel en al op hun nieuwste dubbel-cd gebaseerd. Gezien hun hoge score was een interview onvermijdelijk. Mir-h iD nam namens Ordo Draconis de antwoorden voor zijn rekening.

First and foremost: welcome to Lords Of Metal. Would you care to introduce yourselves to our readers? Where does the name Ordo Draconis come from? Does any of you have a history in other bands?

Hi, Carl. Go ahead, that’s three questions fired at me right away, hehe. Thanks very much for your interest in us, the intie and the excellent review. I’m flattered and I’ll do my best to keep the answers vibrant with soaring energy and staggering degrees of almost unbearable interestingness, but I can’t promise you anything, ok?

1. Ordo Draconis started out as a five-piece outfit in 1996. We’ve put out two demos, “When the Cycle Ends” (rehearsal-cum-demo-tape, 1997) and “In Speculis Noctis” (MCD, 1999), followed by only our debut album (“The Wing & the Burden”, 2001) and now there’s the double treat “Camera Obscura pt 1: The Star Chamber Reviews” and “Camera Obscura pt 2: A View with a Room” (2005).

We’ve had a few line-up changes after “The Wing …”. BM joined us on bass, while Moloch (vocals) and Arco (drums) quit the band in 2002. Philip (vocals) replaced Moloch the same year. On “Camera Obscura” we were fortunate enough to borrow the skills of session skinsman Moritz Neuner (Dornenreich, ex-Abigor, Atrocity, etc.), but we had been without a permanent drummer until just after the recordings. That’s when Marco (ex-Altar) stepped in. In overview, the current line-up consists of Philip (vocals), 1337_Misanthrope (guitar), Rahab (guitar), BM (bass), Marco (drums) and myself, Mir-h iD (synths).

2. The band name is Latin for ‘the order of the dragon’. One way to look at it is to interpret the dragon as a symbol which could represent various stages in the alchemical process of transmutation, and not only that: it works like a caveat, much like the Greek Ladon, to keep rash fortune-hunters at bay. The jeopardy, the passion and the anguish involved in struggling, in ‘burning your fingers’ at whatever cost, are part and parcel of that same process. And if we associate draco ‘dragon’ with a mythological chaos dragon like Tiamat and accept the primary, abstract meaning of ordo as ‘(a state of) order’, the band name gives further meaning to the metaphysical side of the alchemical story. A dynamic system of polarities emerges in which chaos has an integral, even vitalizing function beyond simply the disruption of order. This way, chaos has its own order. We can also reverse the relation and say it’s about overcoming or shaping that physical and metaphysical mess (which not only practitioners of alchemy felt they had to put up with but which is in fact far more mundane). As a signifier intended to make sense of a language, you could say the name also relates to the idea of language being interlocked, language grappling with language from the inside out – that would be a quaint yet relevant way of reading an ourobouros (a snake or dragon eating its own tail, or two snakes/dragons eating one another’s tails). If time serves me well, I’ll write up some more on this in the still-to-come and always-under-construction FAQ section of our website.

3. We may not have so much on offer for those helpless against name-dropping, but here goes:

Tyrann (Philip) – our Luxembourg’s man, though now a resident of Karlsruhe (Germany), also sings in Vindsval and Falkenbach. In addition, he did guest vocals for some other bands. He may have a member profile on Vindsval’s website (www.vindsval.de). More bands should have a Luxembourgian in their line-up. They’re great to have around.
Rahab and BM – they’ve been session members in Falkenbach. I’m not sure, however, what the situation is like right now.
BM – he used to play guitar in a black metal band until they split up.
1337_Misanthrope – he’s often had more than one band at a time. Examples are Dark Remains, Weltbrand, Bad Wurm (RIP) and Sick of Sanity (RIP).
Marco (drums) – the better known metal bands he’s been involved in include Altar and Blind Justice.
Mir-h iD (synths) – I’ve been perfectly monogamous since we started Ordo Draconis, even though I do spend a fair amount of time making music at home. I’ve toyed around with some ideas, both musically concrete and vaguely conceptual, for a project of my own, but I have yet to find the time for it.

I would like to congratulate you with ‘Camera Obscura’. Are you satisfied with the results and how have the reactions been so far?

Thanks very much! It’s been a big baby and I can still feel the afterpains. We haven’t received any major exposure so far, because still more preparation is being made to promote the album. You’re actually among the first to have received a promo. But the reactions that have come to us, from reviewers as well as fans, have been nothing short of overwhelming. Not knowing what to expect, it all caught me quite by surprise, actually. Of course, there’s always parts in reviews you don’t agree with, references which don’t make sense. Some people seem to have picked out the jazz element, while it’s limited to the intro only (first impressions, right), but I can’t complain. Am I satisfied with the results? To the extent that I can be satisfied with anything I do, as after all I am my own toughest critic, my answer should be fairly positive. I can still feel the nausea of having been so utterly immersed in the whole thing, but let’s say the nausea has never felt this good before. There’s an amazing amount of hard work and time we’ve put into this album. If it wasn’t for the band, I would have graduated by now. I’m not going to blow my own trumpet here (no dirty pun intended), but as you can hear, it seems to have paid off dividends. I should not forget to mention here that our producer/engineer Patrick of Tidalwave Studios (Karlsruhe, Germany) deserves kudos for the excellent, open, natural sound of the album.

A Camera Obscura is of course Latin for ‘dark room’, but there is more to it than this superficial meaning. (Readers: use www.google.com to find out). Why did you choose this title?

A camera obscura (indeed, Latin for ‘dark room’) is a darkened chamber or box with one aperture through which external objects project their images upside-down onto a facing surface. Often a lens and mirror are placed to correct the image. This simple piece of equipment has meant a great deal for the arts and sciences. For instance, the discovery of the natural phenomenon which underlies the camera obscura disproved the long-held view that eyes sent out beams to scan objects; it’s been used for a variety of astronomic purposes; it’s famous as a drawing aid for artists and as a theatrical device for entertainment and illusion; and it can be called the forerunner of the modern camera. As such it came in various sizes, from small boxes to entire public rooms. Yeah, there’s plenty of elaborate descriptions, complete with pictures, to be found on the internet. So, the camera obscura is the dark room into which the world outside is tricked, admitted and trapped, squeezed, laid out and reorganized. It could simply be the human mind, but taking into account our senses have acquired all kinds of auxiliary extensions it may be much larger than that. And the whole is larger than the sum of its parts. Scattered throughout the lyrics, you’ll find references to all kinds of rooms and boxes, which toy with the idea of the camera obscura. Just look at the two CD (sub)titles, for instance (to recap: “The Star Chamber Reviews” and “A View with a Room”). I’ll leave it up to the listener/reader to explore the variety of ways in which the imagery is manipulated in the lyrics, sometimes even to the point of being turned inside out, like when it becomes a projection of its own.

The two discs present a kaleidoscope of music. Is there anything to say about how this concept/music came into being?

There is probably too much to be said about it, but I’ll try to give you an idea. The music has been written over a span of about six years, perhaps more. While initially we had something like ‘knowledge and power’ as an overarching theme, the idea for the first disc actually started out with only one song (“Mock Trial”). This one song became like a state within a state, becoming gradually rounded out by more material until the conceptual beast could claim an entire disc of its own – this, of course, became “The Star Chamber Reviews”. Going back to the earliest stage again, Rahab suggested we could develop, in our own way, some of the themes and approaches that the Dutch seventeenth-century playwright Joost van den Vondel adopted in his play Lucifer. In the end, the lyrics appear to have little to do with it, but one quote in “Mock Trial” still stands out as an homage to the man. So, that’s how we took up this terrible cliché of Lucifer’s fall from grace. From there, we went on to include the way Lucifer drags everything along with him, leading up to the fall of man and eventually the apocalyptic ‘fall’ of the world. It’s not like we were going to handle the whole human condition on one CD, but this way we could extrapolate some of the themes that were developed in “Mock Trial” and find new contexts to contribute to them. The lyrics home in on the smaller, human level, as well as some trans/post-human issues (although “Neuron Gutter, Neutron Star” is more on collective behavior, casting all that went before in stark relief). I think I already briefly referred to the connotations of a camera obscura with the small vs. the vast (inherent also in the word star chamber), so there you go. The songs on the second disc “A View with a Room” deal with some issues already explored on the first one, but in contexts of different subject matter. The album was planned to appear as one single disc, but it grew and grew until we had no better option but to split it into two discs. Well then, I’ve probably said more about the lyrics (more so than the music actually) than I set out to do, but all of this is just to show briefly some of the ways in which blueprints for songs developed into a work of ‘kaleidoscopic’ proportions.

There are so many different aspects to the music on CO, that it would be impossible to make those songs come across live as they do on disc. How will you ever be able to play anything live and not lose too much of a song?

The fact that we don’t play the entire album, but selected songs from it, helps us in part to sidestep that problem. Some songs weren’t designed to be played live anyhow, so that gave us free rein when we wrote and recorded them. As for the songs we do play, it’s important to understand that playing live is a different ball game altogether. It basically means that your priorities shift. An album is carefully layered for the pleasure of the listener, and that may particularly apply to us, but subtleties – a little sample here, a guitar effect there – can easily get lost in a live situation, seeing as the balance isn’t always perfect. On the other hand, it’s not unlikely you’ll hear details which you may not have noticed on CD (and some people imagine they hear more than there actually is, especially those who spin the CD in the back of their minds). A gig is also more physical, perhaps more visceral. All of which is not to say we never have to make any adjustments in order to avoid obvious gaps. Some things we have to work around, definitely, but often it’s a matter of putting the accent somewhere else or giving it a twist. I think we’re creative enough for that.

You have done a couple of live performances in Portugal. Why Portugal? How was the experience? When will you be doing shows in Holland?

Late October, we did three gigs in Portugal – two in the north and one in Lissabon. We teamed up with our Portuguese friends from Epping Forest, a high-speed black metal band, who played two gigs with us. It was an amazing experience, I can tell you. The people who made it possible for us to go on the mini-tour were Pinto (Epping Forest) and his girlfriend, with whom our guitarist Rahab had been in contact for some time. And what an absolutely great job they did. Our drummer Marco couldn’t get time off, but Pinto had the strength of character to fill in for him, hitting his way through an otherwise daunting setlist. Mind you, that means he had to play two bands on Friday night (Epping Forest and us), two again on Saturday night, one on Sunday (us) and one on Monday (Epping Forest). As if lack of sleep and long drives weren’t enough for the overachieving macho man.

No dates have been confirmed yet, but it looks like we’re playing De Gonz in Gouda on the 14th of January (2006). It’ll be the last chance to us there, because the club will be moving to a new location. With any luck, Epping Forest will play with us in The Netherlands sometime in the future. For now, all I can say to your readers is: keep an eye on the gigs section of our website (www.ordodraconis.com).

Putting out a concept album is always tricky. I remember Geddy Lee of Rush stating that he thought it very difficult to get a concept story across to the audience by means of music and lyrics. Aren’t you worried that your story will not or only partly come across to the listener?

Of course I hope people will move their lazy arses and, eh, sit down and read the lyrics at all. I’m not sure if the lyrics should be more important than if you write them for individual, unconnected songs. It’s true that there’s more to read and that the individual lyrics depend on one another in order to make sense. But the lyrics are specially designed to be meaningful not just in relation to the whole, but also as independent, self-contained units. You can dive into one and still get so much out of it. You can also read and re-read more, like in a hermeneutic circle, and your understanding of them may grow profounder. Funnily enough, if you forget the narrative context and perhaps bring more of your own perspective to the text, there may be more you can pick up on. This more individualistic reading is just as important to me. The problem which Geddy Lee brought up there, though, probably has more to do with having the music follow the story-line and conjuring up the proper images for you the visualize the story. That, I believe, takes some skill, experience and imagination. For us, it certainly was a tough nut to crack; we sometimes had to rack our brains over it and let it sink again until a solution offered itself to us. Partial as I am of course, I think we did pretty well.

The musical background of the band members must be worlds apart. Is there a combining factor among you and what is it?

We’ve all contributed to the same album and worked with the same producer? I don’t know. We’re all very dedicated, reasonably open-minded, like to take on challenges, prefer our music to have character, all pretty much clichés you’ve heard a million times before. We do have varying tastes in music, but we won’t let eclecticism get in the way too much. It’s also the diversity which counts. Imagine if we were all good at playing the triangle, and nothing besides.

As practically any black metal band, you used to wear corpse-paint. A lot can be said about this interesting feature of our subgenre: from theatrical showmanship, to ludicrous foolishness, or a way for the early black metal church-burning criminals to be able to perform live without being recognized. What are your ideas and why did you decide to stop wearing the paint?

Yeah, we used to hate being recognized on the street every single day, but now we love the friggin attention, haha. It’s true, you can ‘feast’ a lot of perspectives on the subject of make-up, from Oscar Wilde’s Truth of Masks to ‘makeability’ (Machbarkeit), or whatever anthropological angle it is from which you’d like to analyze it to death. With black metal I thought corpse-paint was basically a good way to emphasize the ugly and impersonal side of the music, which in turn may help you ‘to get in the mood’. That a 16-old kid could effectively use it to hide the spots of his age was sometimes added into the bargain, of course. Predictably, it became one of those trappings that bands (and fans) took over unthinkingly and so it simply lost its effect. That painted faces were becoming more common in the nu-rock/mallcore scene didn’t really help either I guess. Corpse-paint was actually getting old by the time we started to wear it, which would ‘ve been in 1997. We stopped doing it, probably in 2000, primarily because our link with the type of black metal that had the best claim on corpsepaint, had become too tenuous. It no longer tallied well with the picture we had of the course we were taking. To be honest, there were also reasons of a more practical nature which gave us a kick in the right direction. All that hassle before and after the gig, with guitars covered in a suspicious mixture of powder and sweat (admittedly, the heat from fire-breathing may have helped a hand here), certainly doesn’t get you ‘in the mood’. Once you had washed your face with soap or whatever you found within reach, for one day you still had these feminine black rims around your eyes. We looked like fuckin’ HIM (of all bands). So much for our ‘evil’ period.

People always tend to idealize the underground scene. What is the underground scene? Do you consider yourselves an underground band and why? Do you tend to idealize it?

Using the term underground has the benefit of sounding ‘subversive’, ‘not selling out’ and suggests an association with subversive culture, a sense of belonging to a community. It doesn’t say if a band is worth your attention or not, but saying ‘lesser-known metal band’ doesn’t quite create the same impact. We could call ourselves an underground band for the simple reason that it’s the scene where we came from and the scene to which we’ve always contributed some music (which, of course, doesn’t mean that other people can’t listen to our music). I don’t think I’m the type of person to idealize it. I do appreciate the genuine enthusiasm with which fans organize gigs, set up distros/mailorders, labels, magazines, trade music, create all kinds of communities to discuss and recommend music, etc. Your own magazine is a telling example of that. On the downside, the metal scene also tends to be hugely conservative and narrow-minded, although things may have changed for the better.

Two rather personal questions: what is your life’s philosophy? And if you could change one thing about the world we live in, what would it be?

You ask me to summarize my philosophy of life, my worldview, just like that? That’s a tough one. I’m an atheist, but not a religious one – that means agnostic most of the time, as we can’t rule out the possibility of there being a world other than the natural one. I doubt there’s many people who can actually live their life’s philosophy, if they have one at all. Personal integrity is important to me, but it’s not so self-evident. We often sacrifice it when we want to play along in our social games. I’m afraid I’ll have to go mad if I really want to answer your second question – so much to choose from and so much opportunity to blunder.

The festive season is upon us again and the commercial aspects are hard to ignore. Do you think your new CD will be lying under the Christmas tree?

Yeah, squeezed in between the latest Harry Potter and a mobile Rudolf Rednose sex-toy.

We have come to the final part of this little interview. And to make sure we do not end it on a sad note, I have a couple of so-called or-statements. Please choose one of each. You do not have to explain your choice; you may of course if you really want to. It is just some silly thing I came up with and I would like to see if and how it works.

Coffee or tea: – coffee, no sugar, no milk.
God or Satan: – both, but you can call me Mir-h iD.
Black or white: – black (no sugar, no milk)
Day or night: – I can’t sleep with all that coffee.
Left or right: – just put it on the table.
Ham or cheese: – what, to go with the coffee?
Man or woman: – woman! I’m a man though.
Snakes or ladders: – nah, boring board game
Young or old: – why, fresh coffee
Flora or fauna: – oh, are we going to the zoo?
Optimist or pessimist: – I think we really are going to the zoo.
Cart or horse: – On horse back. What’s a cart without a horse?
Up or down: – It’s up the road. Don’t we have any other means of transport?
Car or bike: – We can go on foot.
Walk or run: – I feel like running. What’s that you’re poking in your eye?
Knife or fork: – Can’t you see it yourself? What were you trying to hit anyway?
Spider or fly: – this is getting too silly for me.

Thank you for your time and energy. I will leave the final words to you.

Thanks very much for the interview, Carl. It’s been an honor. Usually I get tedious set-questions, so this interview was great to do for a change. For readers who’d like to have a listen, I’ve put up two songs on our MySpace account (www.myspace.com/ordodraconis) and low-fi samples are available for download on our website: www.ordodraconis.com. (Better still, buy the album!)

Negura Magazine – 2003

Rahab interviewed by Negru of Negura Magazine

01. Salut! How are things going on for you there?

Rahab: Greetings Negru; it’s an honour to be given the opportunity of being featured in your magazine. I hope you’ll excuse me for starting off with this trivial ass-kissing, but fact is that I’m pleased with our presence on these pages – “ideology” and “professionalism” often appear to be mutually exclusive. Only few zines succeed in working their way around this Heissenberg equation, but I consider Negura one that found the formula. For me personally, life has known more joyful days. I feel like in a constant sleeping paralysis right now – every effort to create movement and change remains unrewarded. The worldly body seems unresponsive to the powers of my ego, at least for the time being – so patience is being challenged. I will bother neither you nor your readers with the insignificant details of my personal life (though insignificance is a relative concept in this matter, obviously) and I’m sure I’ll be aroused and released from this bodily captivity again. As for Ordo Draconis, for the time being it is the exception to the aforementioned. Though quite a number of hurdles remain to be taken still, we’re gradually progressing towards the recording of our 2nd album. In that respect, the current situation is quite satisfying. Creativity is finding it’s way to the songs and crystallizes down wonderfully. The process of ripening of the songs however is one that requires time, so I think we’ll record the album somewhere in the middle of ’03. The ambitions we have and the way we translated them into goals and ideas makes me very enthusiastic, though it will be hard to realize all we would like.

02. Could you start by presenting us a bit Ordo Draconis? Not just the usual bio, but maybe why you started the band, how did your achievements influence you… more like the experiences beyond the facts…

Rahab: To start a band was a dream that was born long before Ordo Draconis was actually founded. I think it goes back to ’91 already – Midhir, Bob, Moloch and me have known each other for quite some time. Unfortunately music and playing an instrument is not stimulated here to the extent it is done in Scandinavia and it proved to take 5 more years to actually start a band. The initial motives to start Ordo Draconis? During the early 90’s we discovered the underground scene of doom, death and in particular black metal. The music and the entire mystifying ambience of the scene back then made such an impression on us that we wanted to become a part of it, to contribute to it, to add something special, something good, something personal to it. The years prior to Ordo Draconis’ birth most of us already discovered we got great satisfaction and fulfillment from expressing ourselves through music. Midhir, Bob and myself already played together a number of times. In May ’96 I finally confronted Moloch; that if we were ever going to start a band, it was then. Hence we started looking for other band members who were easily found among our friends. In September ’97 we started off for real, playing cover tracks. The line-up back then consisted of: Moloch (bass/vocals), Bob (guitar), Arco (drums), Midhir (synths) and me, Rahab (guitar). Most of us were new to their instrument at the time, so we started playing cover tracks, to tighten up as a band and to become more skilled at playing. It turned out that Timo, the drummer we started out with, could not keep up with the speed of progress and our ways parted in early ’97. He was instantly replaced by Arco and we started out with composing our own songs. Compared to our current speed of songwriting we were very productive at the time, hahaha. The first 3 songs, that later appeared on the “When the Cycle ends” demo were completed in 2 months. It is funny looking back at those days – we were so highly motivated to create ourselves a name and reputation within the international underground scene and we compensated our lack of skills with a boundless enthusiasm to reach beyond. From the beginning we decided that we would never do things in a crappy way though – we would either make the best effort we could or not make the effort at all. And clearly our approach worked: we received a very good response to our concerts and with 1234 copies spread, I believe, despite the fact it is actually a polished rehearsal, “When the Cycle Ends” is one of the more “successful” Dutch black metal demos. We received some serious interest from record labels in response to the demo, but we decided that we wanted to gain more experience before recording an album for a label. For this reason we recorded the self financed demoMCD “In Speculis Noctis” early 1999. I still believe it’s one of the most professional efforts to be released by an underground band; the album was recorded in the Excess studios, where bands like After Forever and Sinister also recorded their albums. Everything was done “pro” and we were paid in kind: the investment we had made was huge, but we reached break-even in no time, selling 800 copies within 6 weeks. I guess it will not be too difficult to imagine how satisfied we were with our accomplishment. “In Speculis Noctis” received a lot of attention in the international metal press, with excellent reviews and interviews in major magazines like Legacy (GER), Legion (RUS) and Rock Brigade (BR), which is almost unheard for a small underground band like we were. Through a dear friend of mine, we also got in touch with Vrayas Vakyas of Falkenbach, and label owner of Skaldic Art Productions. He had just released the first two albums on his label and showed his sincere interest in a cooperation. In the course of several conversations we established a very good and friendly understanding, resulting in the recruitment of Ordo Draconis for the banner of Skaldic Art. In September 2000 we recorded our debut CD “The Wing & the Burden”, which was released in the course of the next year. I think “The Wing..” was a huge step ahead compared to “In Speculis Noctis”, even tough the progress might seem less striking compared to the progress between the two demos. I do not recount how often I have listened to the album, filled with a great sense of pride. Despite the many aspects we would do differently now, the album did turn out like the adventurous musical trip I had intended it to become, with new elements to be discovered with each hearing. Because of the large amount of details and subtleties in the compositions we had chosen for transparent productions from which the composition profited a lot in my conviction. It was with this release that I first felt I could take myself seriously as a musician, who was able to contribute something decent and substantial to a recording. I do not have a very high estimation of my own playing skills and I had always felt I had more a role as a composer than as a musician, but at least my conception of the balance shifted somewhat with this recording. After the release a rather turbulent period in the life of Ordo Draconis began; Midhir went away to Ireland for 9 months and during this period Moloch and Arco decided to leave the band. It is obvious that this intense phlebotomy had a huge impact on the band and made the remaining members evaluate what to do. We decided to head on and found two new members to team up with permanently: Berry on bass and Tyrann on vocals. Where Berry was quite new to the scene, at least as a musician, Tyrann had already earned his medals as the vocalist of our Luxembourgish label mates Vindsval. Till date we have not found a suitable replacement on drums, so we’re using computer right now. It’s not 100% sure yet if we’ll record the next album with a flesh and bone drummer or with his digital equivalent.

03. I saw you don’t enjoy talking too much about your personal lives apart Ordo Draconis. But maybe you could explain what the band means for you? How did it influence you as a person? I guess you started the usual way, with the intentions to put into music & band something from inside of you. But have you reached the opposite point, when music & band make you different, draw you into something new?

Rahab: It’s almost impossible to try and start explaining what Ordo Draconis means to me; you might just as well ask what I mean to myself, because Ordo Draconis is part of me. The easiest way to view it is like a musical diary I guess – it represents who I am. My contribution to our songs marks specific elements of my life. This contribution can be found on various levels, like song-concepts, song structures, actual riffs and melodies up to tiny details like specific sounds or samples. It can be derived from a general interests in certain issues and themes, a sense of admiration for artistic expressions by others, up to the impact of very specific events in my personal life. Especially in the case of the latter, not even my fellow band members are aware of the exact ideas behind a piece or idea. The interesting thing is that the same holds for the other contributing members, so the songs become a kind of synergetic blend of our personalities. However, contrary to a diary, where thoughts and emotions are expressed through words, our songs remain subject to interpretation to a much larger extent, also to us though we are involved in the composing. Many aspects put in by the other members will never be completely fathomed by me, at least its origin won’t. Yet, I am able to open myself up to their ideas and to the songs in total and interpret them both in a rational and in an irrational way. I think that, with respect to the influence Ordo Draconis has had on me I could make the distinction between my view on the scene and our contribution to it, my taste in music, my skills as a composer and a musician, and finally my personality. I’ll start with the first – playing in Ordo Draconis has confronted me with a number of aspects of the underground scene and the music industry that were new to me. Apart from that, the underground scene is a dynamic entity itself of course and a lot has changed since the early nineties. I think the (black metal) underground has become more dispersed – the coherence and support of the early nineties has vanished, which is an obvious development for an expanding entity. Maybe you could say the scene had reached its critical mass. Apart from that, the black metal scene has been commercialized – on the one hand I do not have a problem with that, because many bands that are selling well these days have played a pioneer’s role in the scene or have accomplished something worthwhile before growing bigger. On the other hand, with black metal being hyped it has become clearer and clearer that sales are for sale – integrity and idealism have vanished in the policy of many labels and magazines. The key question is: “How can we draw money from this?” In order to make money they must have a product that appeals to the potential buyers, so the appearance should be good. In itself that’s a good thing, but unfortunately, the quality often stops with the appearance resulting in: glossy magazines with a poor content and pages filled with expensive advertisements, and reviews and interviews that have been bought or have been included as a return favour for buying an advertisement. I think not many metal fans, that claim to be rebellious and individualistic in nature, are hardly aware of the extent to which the humbly swallow what is put on their plate by record labels and magazines. I think it’s a current development that can be seen among record labels – competition has increased – the smaller ones are going bankrupt, except for a few specialized ones with a more loyal fan base. My view on the scene has grown more skeptic because of what I have seen while playing in Ordo Draconis. Due to the expansion and the commercialisation the mysticism of the black metal scene as a whole has vanished, many bands are more worried about their image than about their musical accomplishments and the scene has become a breeding pit for childish quarrels. For these reasons my affinity with the black metal scene as a whole has decreased. This does not withstand, it still is the scene I feel closest related to and there enough excellent bands and interesting people around if one knows where to look. As for my taste in music – it has expanded more into other musical genres. To me, music is all about the expression of specific atmospheres and emotions. All means that enhance the transmission of the emotion or atmosphere are intrinsically justified in my view. In that sense there are no principal style barriers. My view on composing music is like my philosophy of life, eclectic in nature. While composing music for Ordo Draconis it became evident that influences from musical styles other than (black) metal were most appropriate in some cases. This sense of musical freedom is crucial for our way of working – we will not use “strange influences” just for the sake of experimenting, yet only in a functional way. I have become more open-minded to music, because of a growing interest in how other band and projects approach the expression and transmission certain feelings. Due to this I’m able to appreciate (functional) experimentalism more these days, and I guess I’m more “trained” to listen to more diverse and complex music. I needs little discussion that our skills as musicians and composers have grown throughout Ordo Draconis’ existence. When comparing the compositions on our first demo to what were doing now… there are worlds in between. I do not mean to say that the songs on “When the Cycle ends” are bad songs. They just represent another stage in our development and terms like good and bad are meaningless in that context. I know quite some people who prefer our first demo over our debut full length – fortunately I also know people with preferences the other way around. One thing is sure though, composing songs like we did back then was a lot less time intensive, hahaha. It was more like, making a number of ideas fit together within a certain frame back then. Nowadays the compositions are much more subtle, the connection to the concept and the lyrics worked out more intensively and much more attention is given to the arrangements. Composing consists of a lot more talking now. Our increased musical skills provide us more freedom for expressing what we want. Finally, Ordo Draconis has influenced my personality, because on a personal level I draw a reflection from the music I compose. It is like writing in a diary again – writing down the words is capturing the thoughts and emotions, which works confronting in a way. While writing, the ideas are being processed and put into a perspective frame. I think the composing of music works on a more abstract level and deals more with pure emotion and feeling then with its rationalization, but the basic principle is the same. In that sense Ordo Draconis’ music in general, and my contribution in specific has worked like a kind of mirror to me.

04. It seems there have been a lot of changes on the band lately. Could you tell us what happened? Have the things cool down now?

Rahab: Well I mentioned the changes in the line-up already in your second question. It was April of this year that Arco and Moloch parted ways with Ordo Draconis. We parted in a good understanding by the way, we even played a farewell gig for them. Especially Moloch could no longer relate to the musical directions in which we were heading. Arco’s reasons for parting have remained more obscure – he told he lacked motivation to do a good job. I think he had difficulty coping with the complexity of the songs and the new songs demanded some rather difficult drum work, which was giving him a hard time. Apart from that, circumstances had been rather demotivating on him; Arco had been giving his very best in supporting the band and beyond througb sales and lay-out activities and was frustrated in his work through outside forces. This summer Moloch and Arco teamed up again to form a new band, in which Bob also participates, by the name of Weltbrant. They play a rawer more typical kind of death/black metal if I should believe the sounds, with influences from the early black metal bands and a bit or rock roll feel to it alike Carpathian Forest. Of course with their departure, Moloch and Arco left a huge vacancy in more than one sense; we had basically started out together and we had been playing together for over 5 years going through the entire development of the band together. Of course such an event is not taken lightly. It was a hard decision for them to make, but I agree that it probably had become inevitable. The time directly afterwards was very hard, Midhir being in Ireland and Berry still being a session member. Midhir and Bob and myself had some intensive e-mail communication in which we decided to continue and ask Berry to team up as a permanent member. The guys from Vindsval had become friends of hours after playing some gigs together and doing some heavy partying. After he had heard the sad news, Tyrann from Vindsval offered us his services. His enthusiasm was so boundless, and his qualities as a front man and vocalist are of such a high standard that we decided to ask him in despite the large distance he lives away (about 500 kilometers). Apart from his motivation and musical and qualities as well as qualities as a front man – for we were very well aware that a front man like Moloch would not be easily replaced – Tyrann has a splendid character that fits right in with the other band members, so we get along just fine. Next to that Tyrann’s view on music are more in league with Ordo’s remaining members than Moloch’s. We played him some new songs when he visited us recently, and he was highly impressed… so no problems in that field. The position of drummer is still vacant, and considering the rhythmic experiments we have incorporated into the new songs, it will be difficult to start working with a real life drummer again. We are programming the drums for the time being – maybe we’ll record them for the next album in this manner as well. In studio drums are digitally corrected and sampled anyway. One thing is certain though, our new drummer will have to be an open-minded person and he shouldn’t be scared of some bits and bytes, hahaha.

05. Are you now also ready to do some live gigs? Have you played live a lot in the past? How do you experience a live performance?

Rahab: At the moment we aren’t prepared to get on stage again. Because we are fully focussing on preparing for the recording of our second album right now, arranging things for playing live does not get much attention. The drums of the “old” songs still need to be programmed. I have to admit I’d like to do some gigs again – it has been such a long time by now and though I am not really the stage maniac within the band, I enjoyed the last number of gigs we did quite a lot. In the past we did quiet a few gigs, I think a little over 40 or so, including some in Belgium and Germany. To me concerts are events that are to be taken individually, with a chaotic character in the sense that it is practically impossible to predict how they will develop in their course. If the bridge between us, the band, and the audience can be crossed it can be a magnificent and intense event – if not it can be dreadful. Though some audience is pleasant, the amount of people present is not decisive for making the gig “a success”, nor is the sound quality or even how well we played the songs. It simply seems the magical potential is there or it isn’t… though it will always requite hard labour “to make it happen”. I think the way I experience a live performance is reflected in the way I am on stage: introverted yet intensely experiencing, which is indicative for me as a person I guess.

06. You are label mates with Obsidian Gate’s. What do you think about their music? I think they’re quite close to your own style, yet while you’re a bit more open in your musical approach, Obsidian Gates are more close to what’s Black Metal.

Rahab: I am afraid I have some news in this matter, for Obsidian Gate or no longer on Skaldic Art. They have recently recorded three new songs for a MCD, which has been released in a limited edition of 300 copies by the guys themselves. It’s a truly awesome piece; their best so far without doubt! As for the musical resemblance, what can I say; of course there is some resemblance: in both bands the keyboards take up a prominent role. On the other hand, Obsidian Gate’s music is much faster and like you say, it’s closer to “conventional” black metal – if I can use this term in relation to their music. Their new stuff is a little more progressive by the way – probably the reason why I like it better, together with the very good production. I like their music, but I do not really think it is that close to ours – guitars are more important in our compositions and our influences and songs are more diverse.

07. I also noticed you’re truly open-minded when it comes to your music. As open-minded is not the best way to describe Black Metal, I’m curious on what you consider Black Metal to be, and on how you see the relation between your music and Black Metal.

Rahab: Hmmmm it kind of surprises me that you already noticed that we are that open-minded when it concerns our music on “The Wing & the Burden”. What can I say… wait till you hear our second full length “Camera Obscura”, hahaha – I think it will turn out much more progressive; even a bit avant-garde probably. Well as for the whole “labeling-business”, I am not too much into this pigeonholing. Some time ago I read the term “post black metal”, which appealed to me a lot… And by the way – you don’t think black metal is open minded? I think it is one of the wonderful things about black metal: that it is hardly defined by its music, so in that sense yes, I do believe it is open minded at least when you compare it to death or doom metal for instance. It ranges from Dimmu Borgir to Abruptum, from Mysticum to Obtained Enslavement, from Beherit to Emperor to mention just a few dimensions. Are you able to define black metal in musical terms? I’m sure I could find a counter-example to almost any definition. Because it is so hard to define black metal and opinions differ, I can hardly comment on how our music is related to black metal, I just know how I experience it. Anyway, I already had so many (senseless) discussions on what black metal is or should be and how I should or shouldn’t label my own music… or even funnier people telling how we should change in order to become a black metal band. Like I mentioned before, black metal is the musical genre I feel closest related to, the scene I have followed most intensively; my CD-collection mainly consists of CDs in this genre – but when composing music one of the last things on my mind is: “Is this black metal or not?” As an artist it’s completely irrelevant – we compose and play our music primarily for egocentric purposes, to give expression to specific emotions and atmospheres. Anything that helps transmitting those is intrinsically legitimate, so basically there are no fundamental superposed restrictions except for the ones intrinsic to our personalities. In that sense we are open minded indeed, and “true” in the only sense that matters, namely true to ourselves… I wonder how many “true” black metal bands can say the same thing. In the mean time, for the sake of frame of reference, let’s stick to “post black metal”.

08. What’s the experience of creating music for you? How do you know which parts fit and which don’t fit with your music? How about patterns, rhythms, repetitions… how do they work to create an Ordo Draconis track?

Rahab: The composing of music gives me a huge high – it’s a wonderful ecstatic sensation, feeling how pieces fall together, and sensing the synergy between the individual parts. Maybe it sounds a bit awkward but it’s something really intimate. Bob Midhir and myself are the ones involved in composing. We compose our pieces individually and combine them altogether. All three of us have our own way of composing the pieces… and if you know our ways of working and our styles, one could easily recognise who contributed what. Me personally, I do not use an instrument when composing most of the time – I hear the music before playing it. Sometimes I play around with a theme in my mind for ages before I play it for the first time. It works like a mixing desk with various tracks, I can hear the parts individually and mix them together. It required some practice, and it may sound a bit awkward, but anyway it’s a lot cheaper than an actual mixing desk, haha. Our music has many secrets….. even for me. It’s like my diary in a way… or maybe better, it’s like our diaries combined and encrypted to a form that nobody knows or is able to reveal the complete meaning… but everyone can listen to it and experience it in his or her personal way…and some people even enjoy it, haha. There are soo many ideas surrounding the songs. I recall all the situations of when I came up with the parts I contributed… That’s how the songs became “charged” and meaningful to me. There are memories from childhood, things related to my family – they are all there put into the songs… and to a large extent not even my fellow band members know. To tell you the truth, thinking about how to construct the songs, to give them meaning often requires much more time than composing the musical themes themselves… The three of us decide together what parts we will use for the songs. The criterion is simple: we just know if we want to put a part in or not. Sometimes some negotiating skills are practiced, hehe; well sometimes a bit of explaining helps to understand how a part could serve the song or how it translates (an aspect of) the theme into music. When composing together, concessions are inevitable I believe, but we almost always succeed in finding a compromise, with which we can all enjoy the composition. For Ordo Draconis the synergy of our individual input coming together definitely outweighs the aspect of doing concessions. Like I already mentioned in my answer to the previous question, all musical means are justified when translating emotion and atmosphere into music. So in that sense we don’t have an explicit restriction in style or influence with respect to what parts we can or can’t use. As for song structures, repetitions and patterns -it’s difficult to explain that – I would need to do it on a track to track basis. Especially for the tracks on the new album, for which the concept and also the structure was worked out in some detail before composing the actual music, patterns and repetitions are closely related to the concept. For some tracks this was done on basis of a story line, for others the concept was more basic and worked out through the music. Of course I can’t give away the secret to creating an Ordo Draconis-track, hehe – before you know everyone starts producing Ordo-songs. Nah, seriously, there is no rigid formula to our songs. We start out with an idea, like “it could be interesting to try and do something with this and this and that.” If we agree, then we work out the idea, but it can take many shapes.

09. Ordo Draconis, as a name takes me more into something like Medieval orders (Templar’s especially), into occult and magic symbolism. What does it mean for you? Are you into the fascinating world of such religious and spiritual gatherings?

Rahab: Funny enough, the week you sent me the interview I had finally been doing some reading on the Knight Templars again. There is a lot of intriguing mystery surrounding them and there termination, their Gnostic views interest me much as well as subjects that are put in relation to the Knight Templars like the Skull of Sidon, the Grail, the Prieure de Sion and the Cathars As for our band name, Midhir has written the following lines to answer the returning question on its meaning: Ordo Draconis is a Latin phrase which, as anyone might imagine, translates into English as ‘The Order of the Dragon’ (although draco could also denote a serpent). We’ve allowed the band name to be sufficiently elusive and open to interpretation, not to let any description bridle our creativity, except for that very part of the concept which embodies our imaginative freedom. Various interpretations of the symbolic significance of the dragon are possible, and I’ll try to indicate a few of them. Let me first bring into play the way the dragon is included as one of the animal symbols used in alchemy. The widespread and parallel use of animal symbolism by autonomous alchemists brought Carl Jung to his theory of the collective unconscious, so perhaps in that sense the dragon would be a universal archetype deeply embedded in the human mind. Alchemy often situates the dragon at both the beginning, which marks the potentiality of darkness, and, in winged form, at the end of the moulding process (mind over matter). And so alchemical writings often present the Ouroborus dragon or serpent, which bites itself in the tail when the cycle becomes full circle. With this in mind, I would like to say that there is an interesting duality of polarities contained within the band name. Down from the Mesopotamian creation myth (presumably even earlier), the dragon often embodies the primal waters of chaos (even as the biblical primal chaos has been depersonified, we can still retrace its origins to a dragon like Tiamat). Creation entails the potential of preceding chaos, such as when Marduk slays Tiamat, and, roughly, so does revolution. Now then, the first component of the band name would be as ambivalent in Latin as it is in modern English: ordo is not only a word for order in the sense of a religious organization or a privileged class, but also order as opposed to chaos. It’s this cyclic alternation of order and chaos (perhaps we may speak of the antagonism, in the muscular sense of the biceps and triceps, between them), that’s crucial to progress and knowledge. As such, the name, both on a macrocosmic and microcosmic level, refers to how growth and progress may issue from the breaking down of order and tradition. I should hasten to add that among the potentialities I therefore include the aspect of opposition, the destructive aspect, that has been typically attributed to the dragon. I say this from an ideological point of view, but perhaps we can also find that in myth. Think of the dragon of which the teeth would grow to be the indigenous people of Thebes, or of Fafnir, of which the blood would render its vanquisher Sigurd or Siegfried nearly invincible. Similarly, but also in many other ways, the name refers to the creative process of the artist. It’s also about breaking with conventions, still using the raw material (the potential of chaos) but manipulating and transcending it like the winged dragon of alchemy. I would use the term ‘potential of chaos’ in a wide frame of reference, including among others the amorphous material that is our perception of reality, and the interior reality of our subconscious processed and channelled into our work. In heraldic signs the dragon is often the emblem of sovereignty, and likewise we assert our wilfulness and our high esteem of freedom in this destructive and creative process of writing. Come to think of it, we may see in the myths of dragonslayers the inability of man to come to grips with unsafe parts of his nature, those which he feels uncomfortable about and decides to sort out the easy way, which is slaying. As those internal parts are ‘externalized’ (can’t find the right word) in the shape of the dragon and placed at the periphery of existence, the hero prevails in myth, but would such a repression really be the solution in actual life? All in all, Ordo Draconis denotes the organic relationship between aspects like progress, knowledge, opposition, and sovereignty. Enough about that now. A sketch of the significance of a dragon should by analogy be of dragonlike proportion, ha, ha. Another way of explaining the band name may have to do with the Dutch expression: ‘ergens de draak mee steken’ (= to mock something). However, the real reason for this band name is basically because it sounds so good. Seriously, like my view on the band name would probably suggest, we haven’t really set ourselves to a clearly defined concept, although that in itself does imply this concept of unrestrained liberty to do as we think fit. We ourselves are the only limits (which are therefore not fixed). I honestly think it’s better to let the process speak for itself, as the true traveller is not intent on arriving.

10. I think Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendul describes an intriguing hypothesis on the role and function of such organizations (orders) in more recent times. What are your views on the matter?

Rahab: Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum” deals with an intriguing and to many frightening concept. Let me start off my comments with a a quote from the book: “Above her head was the only stable place in the cosmos, the only refuge from the damnation of the panta rei, and she guessed it was the Pendulum’s business, not hers. A moment later the couple went off – he, trained on some textbook that had blunted his capacity for wonder, she, inert and insensitive to the thrill of the infinite, both oblivious of the awesomeness of their encounter – their first and last encounter — with the One, the EnSoph, the Ineffable. How could you fail to kneel down before this altar of certitude?” In my view, the above excerpt combines two of the central notions within Eco’s masterwork: the enigma of the absolute on one hand and human ‘stupidity’ on the other. It describes the Pendulum and its connection to the single unmoving virtual point, the pivot around which the universe can move. At the same time Eco refers to the human blindness for the absolute, despite (or maybe even due to) its crystal clarity. The networks of mystic orders play a somewhat peculiar role with respect to this relation between the infinite absolute and finite humanity. Like the main characters in Eco’s novel, people have been searching for this great answer to the question of ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’. In my view this longing manifests itself in a quest for certainty and control. This means finding as well as creating patterns, whether it be laws of nature, moral codes, or aesthetic conventions. Human life would be impossible without such this sense of structure. So patterns is what we seek and what we create at the same time. However these two mechanisms are inseparable since they are essentially the same. We create our reality by searching for it and for us the distinction between truth and artefact (mental construct) is hard or maybe even impossible to make. Eco points out the terrible consequences of this human ‘fallacy’: Within the novel, the search for the grand truth is set in contemporary time. Three scholarly book editors try to reconstruct the great secret of the Knight’s Templars. This all starts out as a joke but soon they end up entangled in a web of myth, created by their own delusive/deluded minds. This self constructed ‘truth’ has an overwhelming influence on people; it affects their actions, perceptions, and reasoning ability and it starts to live a life on its own. In this way we create explanations and insights that blind us from seeing “the real truth”. Even though the main characters of Foucault’s Pendulum are all gifted with great reasoning ability (or at least extensive knowledge), they nonetheless lose touch with reality. This is illustrated in the following excerpt: “…these are now people lost in a maze: some choose one path, some another; some shout for help, and there’s no telling if the replies they hear are other (lost) voices or the echo of their own…” As for the mystic orders, they are presented as mystifiers of truth. They are the ‘fallible’, or actually even the “demonic” creators and catalysts of this delusive ‘truth’ that permeates our reality. Not a very positive conception you would think. However, the mystic orders play a far more important and in a way more reverend role. For still, in the eyes of “ordinary” man, they are the keepers of absolute truth; a truth for some reason not accessible to us. Perhaps because the power unleashed by this absolute knowledge would be beyond our might to control it? Not according to Eco. The key development in his novel is the revelation of the secret, where it turns out to be entirely empty. The ultimate mystery is the secret, which hides nothing but only pretends to do so. In my interpretation of the book, it is exactly the nothingness behind this mystery, which ìs the pivot of the pendulum: the absolute turning point of the universe. When there would be something ‘real’ to hide, it would not be constant; for then the secret would be revealed and its contents would be subjected to the corruption of material existence. So in fact, there is a twofold movement within the functionality of the mystic order. On one hand they are the creators of the veil; hiders of truth, but on the other hand they are the unaware keepers of this one virtual point, symbolised by the virtual extension of the pendulum’s anchor point. The pendulum itself stands out as a symbol of pure and sensible clarity. While the ‘believers’ seek the secret truths of the universe believed to be known only to the privileged cognoscenti/templars/masons the pendulum simply hangs in place demonstrating the earth’s rotation to anyone who cares to look and think without prejudice. As the pendulum is a material necessity to indicate the absoluteness of its own virtual pivot. So the mystic orders, or more in general the human creation of mystified truth is necessary to be able to experience the clarity of the infinite: “I have understood. And the certainty that there is nothing to understand should be my peace, my triumph.” This is the only constant truth and it is not hidden but searching for it in the wrong way makes one blind. Let me close off with a quote from the philosopher Kierkegaard in this respect: ‘The truth is a trap: you can not get it without it getting you; you cannot get the truth by capturing it, only by its capturing you.’.. though one by Nietzsche might be equally appropriate.

11. Symbolism is something you often associate with your creation… How would you describe the function of the symbol? Are you familiar with C. G. Jung theory on the matter?

Rahab: I guess Midhir already somewhat anticipated on this question in his answer to the question on our band name. Let me start by answering the last question. I am somewhat familiar with Jung’s theories on the collective unconscious and his “archetypes” (“symbols” or “unconscious images of the human instincts”), yet everything but an expert. What I have read on his theories seems interesting, though I think that in his enthusiasm for proving his point, his examples are sometimes a little far-fetched and I have the impression that he pushes his ideas beyond the field on which they are applicable. I must admit, I had and to some extent still have difficulty accepting the idea of an inherited imprint on the human psyche. I don’t have a problem with the idea, that fundamental drives (i.e. instincts) and resulting elemental behaviour patterns are genetically determined and have been passed on for many generations. Next to that, it seems likely that there is an inherited component in the human capacity to learn in a structural sense, so that all humans approach a particular “new experience” in a same way. What I am not convinced of, or rather stronger, what I refuse to believe at this point, is that archetypes (e.g. “the self”, “the mother”, “the hero”, “the demon”) are “charged” at the moment we are born. Charged in the sense that an archetype would carry any meaning. The seed might be present in the sense that instincts are present as well structures to learn, to conceptualize and to add meaning to specific concepts. Scientifically it is very difficult to determine to what extent archetypes are really inherited rather than generated (or charged) by socially and culturally determined processes. And it would probably require unethical experiments (like for instance letting a child grow up in absence of any mother figure, his or anyone else’s). Of course it is striking that certain symbols and structures turn up in many (separated) cultures. Then again, many concepts are so “likely” to be present in different societies, since they are inherent to human life and advanced social structures that it seems obvious these concepts become part of many or all cultures. Inheritance could still be the case then, but of socio-cultural nature rather than of a genetic one (or whatever way aspects of the psyche is passed on). This socio-cultural nature does not withspeak that these concepts and their symbols and images are unconscious; in this matter it is ironic to notice to what extent Christian concepts and morals detemine the way “satanists” think and behave. The Christian roots in society are so strong and deep that we often even aren’t aware they are there. Anyway, socio-cultural values and concepts, both conscious and unconscious are not present at birth, but learnt either consciously or unconsciously and this contradicts Jung’s views, who says the archetypes are “already” present in the human psyche. What I have read could not convince me of his view on this aspect. Symbols are meant to express or to refer to a concept, an aspect or an element of reality in a condensed and often metaphoric way. As for the function of symbols, I think that two relevant aspects can be distinguished. On the one hand there is the “general familiarity” with the concept of the symbol; symbols for which this aspect is most important are the more “functional”symbols, like the red cross on an ambulance, the aesculape on a doctor’s car. On the other hand there is the “personal charge” given to a symbol; symbols for which this is the most relevant aspect are the more “personal”symbols, like a self designed tribal tattoo for instance. Often a division this clear can not be made, like with the pentagram I wear for instance; of course it is known for being a “satanic symbol”. To me however is represents certain values that are (in my perception) symbolized by the morningstar, that are very valuable to me as a person. Obviously, with symbols becoming more personal, it becomes less clear what their meaning is, at least without additional elucidation. In that sense symbols become more like focal points to the expresser rather than indicators to the perceiver(s); what does it mean to me and what do I stand for is more important than what do I want to get across. For me the pith and relevance of symbols lies somewhere else than for Jung – pretty much analogously to our views on life: Jung tried to reveal the meaning of life, where I prefer to give (charge) it (with) meaning. I guess my approach is more egocentric and less fatalistic, though funny enough the consequences in practical terms needn’t be very big – both views will lead to a quest for meaning.

12. You[r] album The Wing & The Burden was released on Skaldic Art. How are your relations with them? Are you satisfied with their work? Will your new materials released on the same label?

Rahab: Skaldic Art is run by Vratyas Vakyas from Falkenbach. Since Ordo Draconis joined Skaldic Art in early 2000, we have developed a special friendship. The large part of our understanding is non-professional. I think Vratyas has done a lot to help Ordo Draconis, without imposing any artistical restrictions on us. He’s not the kind of person who takes the easy way and he really believes in that bands he has under his banner. Skaldic Art is a small label, and obviously this implies restrictions. It is not a label that can send its bands on large tours, do major advertising campaigns or has its records sold in every record shop. However the bands on Skaldic Art are treated fair, getting fair studio budgets and decent royalty rates. Vratyas is an honest person who has pride in what he does and tries to do what he believes is the best, both in the interest of the bands and Skaldic Art. It is most likely that “Camera Obscura” will be released on Skaldic Art.

13. What would you say is the role and meaning of a label now? Hammerheart Records seems to be now one of the most important label in the Extreme Metal scene. What does this mean for the whole Dutch Scene? Does it have an impact even for an outside band such as yours?

Rahab: It depends on what you mean by the role of labels. In my view, for bands labels serve three basic purposes, namely providing money for recording and touring, distributing records and promoting a bands and their music. With the improved possibilities for making good sounding home-recordings, maybe the first purpose has become less important, at least for underground acts. In the ideal situation, a label has no impact whatsoever on “the art” of the bands – but well in an indirect sense that’s almost impossible. The bit I have seen of the music industry during the last number of years has given me mixed feeling towards labels. As artists we do have the ambition to reach people, preferably as many as possible. Record labels have the “means” to reach people…but almost inevitably you enter the game of commerce then. No matter how strong the ideals of a label (initially) might be, in the end it’s about money and for most labels bands become “investments”. Just like on the stock or any market, labels aim for the highest profit with smallest investment. For the continuity of the label it is important to make profit, this should be obvious. The strategy to make profit differs from label to label, but also between bands on one label. Consequence of this “investment-approach” is that the “commercial” value and the “artistic” value of bands grow even wider apart. Hypes and “formulas” turn mediocre bands famous, because such bands are interesting investments for labels. At the moment the formula in the Netherlands is rather simple by the way: find a girl with a cute face, get her a dress, make sure she doesn’t sing out of tune all the time, write a dozen of simple catchy songs on a rainy afternoon, get your drinking lads to pick up an instrument to play them and you can be sure of a record deal in no time….the rest is trivial. Wearing gay clothes with the entire band appears to be an additional advantage though. Of course I’m exaggerating (a bit), but the bottom line should be clear. To a large extent it is the way it works, and some awareness of the process is healthy I think. The general audience swallows whatever “the big record labels” put in front of their faces, while there are often much better treats around, at least from an artistic point of view. The bigger record labels can afford to buy the exposure – not only advertisements or songs on samplers, but nowadays interviews and reviews are sold too in many magazines: bands only get interviews or good reviews when advertisements or songs on the sampler are bought. It makes one think doesn’t it? Looking at the current development among labels I think you can see a polarization: the separation between “big labels” and “underground labels” is becoming more pronounced. The “medium labels” are disappearing – they quit or go bankrupt. I think it might have something to do with the availability of music on the internet. The underground labels don’t suffer from it, because of the limited investments, the limited editions and the hardcore of underground fanatics. The big labels generally have bigger acts and reach a larger more mainstream audience – people tend to buy CDs from bands they are already familiar with more easily. And for new signings these labels can buy the exposure to obtain a sense of “familiarity”. I don’t think Hammerheart has a major influence on the Dutch scene – I haven’t noticed it anyway. They have some, but not extraordinary many Dutch signings. For a band as Ordo Draconis, their influence is negligible. Hammerheart is a good example of a label that started out with a sense of idealism and developed in a commercial way, signing “names” because they guarantee sales. These guys from Desekrator for instance must have laughed their heads of, seeing they could get such crap officially released.

14. What are your plans for the future? What would you like to be your contribution to the musical evolution of the genre?

Rahab: At the moment our future plans are a 100% focused on realising “Camera Obscura”. The basis of the 7 songs that will be featured is practically finished, what remains to be done is additional arranging, and composing the intro, outro and interludes. The way it looks at the moment, the album will be partly recorded at home, partly in the studio where we rehearse and partly at a studio in Germany, where Secrets of the Moon, Obsidian Gate, Vindsval and Rivendell recorded their latest efforts. Hagalaz from Vindsval is behind the mixing desk, and having heard some of the aforementioned released I can assure you he’s quite a wizard! Unfortunately the songs on “Camera Obscura” only have preliminary titles at the moment, so it’s little use giving them at this stage. The first three songs on the album will form a conceptual trilogy and will be connected through interludes. In general, I think the new material and particularly the songs we have composed recently are more progressive than the ones on “The Wing & the Burden”, at some points maybe even a little avantgarde. The range of influences has grown bigger and the more intensive use of computers and music software have extended the possibilities to work out a certain idea. The use of “non typical” rhythms and samples has worked well for the songs I think. However I wish and can assure that we didn’t hopelessly lost ourselves in senseless experimenting, I can even assure you that “Camera Obscura” will sound a lot heavier than its predecessor. Though I am still happy with and proud of our debut full length we did learn about things that could and should improve. Obviously not everything has changed with our (natural) progression, in some cases the references to our debut are even quite strong. For instance, like with the “Danse Macabre”-piece by Saent-Saens on our debut, we have taken a classical piece and incorporated into one of our songs. We have chosen a splendid piece by Schubert this time, and the approach and way of incorporating has been entirely different. What would we like to be our contribution to the evolution of the musical genre? Even answering the question seems to be pretentious. I think I would have to split my awnser up in two parts. We do want and believe we have something to contribute to “the genre”. However, the evolution of the genre is fully subordinate to the evolution of Ordo Draconis as an entity. We want to develop and fulfill our own musical aspirations – what impact that has on the evolution of the scene is not really something that’s on our minds. If we can help the genre to evolve, that’s great, but what’s most important is, that the means with which we would do so are ours; that the music remains “our own”, that it is artistically integer and meaningful to us. So basically I would like our evolution to be our contribution to the evolution to the genre, hehe.

15. I guess that sums up everything! Anything to add in the end…?

Rahab: Well, I guess I have been demanding enough on you, your readers and you printing expenses. I wish to thank you for this great interview, I had a good time replying. Best of luck with your activities in the scene, Negru!

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’:

“Unruly Law,
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!”

Ablaze – 2001

Rahab interviewed by Florian Dammasch of Ablaze (Germany).

1. There are not too many BM bands in the Dutch scene it seems, in fact only Liar of Golgotha is pretty well-known, and Altar is no BM band at all. Nevertheless there’s no band with the quality standard of Ordo Draconis. What did you do different (and better obviously) than other bands, what makes you so special? Does it make you proud to be the top of a whole country’s BM scene (I’m sure you are!)?

Rahab: No warming up rounds – a tough question to start off with! Let me start by saying that I consider the composing and playing of music as an artistic expression. I do not think art and competition go together. So I’ll have to answer you question negatively – I am not proud of „our position“ in the scene, because I don’t think in such terms. I wouldn‘t be able to think of a criterium to determine a band’s ranking…. But if one would suggest it should be sales-figures, bands like Liar of Golgotha and Cirith Gorgor are way ahead of us. However, I most certainly am proud of the things that we have accomplished with Ordo Draconis so far, with the recent release of our debut full-length album „The Wing & The Burden“ as a highlight for the time being. Since each band has their own goals as for what they want to achieve, it’s pretty difficult to speak about a „quality standard“ in general terms. The fact that music is subject to preference/taste colours one’s judgement as far as the quality of band goes. I wouldn’t dare saying there’s no other band around in the Dutch black metal scene applying the same qualitity standard as we do. To me it’s kind of irrelevant too. Within Ordo Draconis we have our own goals and the band-internal quality standard is the only one that makes sense to me. Eversince we started out with Ordo Draconis we have applied the basic rule „either we are going to do the things we do as good as we can, or we won’t do them at all“. We firmly believe in the things we do and the music we are creating and this makes it easier to invest in that. I can only tell you why Ordo Draconis is so special to me – Ordo Draconis‘ music is a projection of my being which reveals my core, my essence. I have a very strong „relationship“ with our songs and an even stronger one with specific individual parts/riffs – they all carry a certain charge or burden, that I added when I composed them or heard/played them for the first. I think I am able to recall the specific circumstances of composing for my entire contibution to the bands work. Apart from the music itself, the synergy within the band is very dear to me. Ordo Draconis consists of five individuals with their own view on things and their own personal qualities. So far I think we have succeeded pretty well in setting collective goals and maximizing the usage of our individual qualities to the band’s advantage.

2. Ordo still is a rather young band, actually such mature bands are mostly already older than you. What gives you these visionary, unresting spirit to play music and to work so hard to realize these goals?

Rahab: I think there are two aspects of importance. First the urge to create, music in our case. I get a great sense of satisfaction out of composing and I love it‘s dynamic process, sometimes devastating, sometimes leading to euphoria, always exhausting, yet never boring. When the transition from soul to mind and from mind to the various instruments is made succesfully there is this orgasmic sensation – maybe that sounds silly but it’s the closest comparison I can think of in terms of intensity and euphoria. It should be clear that our music is very personal to me as well as to the other band members. It’s only logical then that we want to „preserve“ it in a way that honours our songs, so by recording them decently. The second aspect deals with the presentation and the spreading of the music. The urge to compose will always be stronger than me and if other people will hear what I’ve created or not is subordinate, or even irrelevant in that matter. However I would be lying if I was to say that I don’t care at all about what other people think about our music. Ordo Draconis‘ music means a great deal to me and it surely gives me satisfaction if it means something (special) to others as well, if they can relate to it in some sense. We all are proud of our creations and we want to present to others what we have made. Apart from personal taste and a longing for perfection, it is only practical to present your material in a decent way, in order to reach as many people that might like our music as possible.

3. Imagine Ordo would’ve been founded 10 years ago, in the beginning of the 90s. Do you think it would’ve been the same revolutionary music like it is today, or did you need some „idols“ to influence your work? What would be the position Ordo had if you had started 5 years earlier with the same standard like today?

Rahab: I really don’t know what would have happened if we had started out 10 years ago. The music would have been different for sure – we were different persons back then obviously and many musical influences have affected me in these last ten years. I’m not too fond of the word „idol“ – it brings to mind a certains association of worship, but of course there are bands and artists, both in and outside the metals scene, that I respect a lot and that have affected me in my musical development. This holds for every band member, I guess. In the end every musician has his or her influences, that’s simply inevitable. It’s just a matter of how one deals with these influences. It has never been our aim to copy another band, we try and blend our influences together to forge something new. I do not think I am the right person to comment on weither or not our music is or would have been revolutionary. During the first couple of years it has struck me a couple of times, like “If only we had been there a little earlier, things would have been so much easier with fewer bands around and stuff“… but we weren’t and I guess I prefer looking at the band’s future. Throughout the existence of Ordo Draconis I think we have grown more and more self-conscious; we know our qualities and our restrictions and I am pretty much at piece with that. There are still so many things I would like to try and experience – it’s more constructive to work towards future goals than to mourn over possible opportunities if the band would have existed earlier, I think.

4. You’ve sold over 1000 copies of your demo tape, which is more than impressive for today’s standards. The material on that demo still is very good I think, and you’ve already re-recorded „A Crimson Dawn“ for the album – so, will you use the songs from that demo anywhere again? Are there still request on the tape?

Rahab: I almost totally sure that we will not use any more songs from „When the Cycle Ends“ in their original form. We re-recorded „A Crimson Dawn“, because we had the opinion it could have been better than the demo-version eversince we recorded. The flutes were already intended for the original version, but it was impossible to properly record them back then. Though I generally prefer the first version of a song – I guess my rather conservative character is to blame here – I think we did a good job on this one. The CD-version is more aggressive and thet suits the song and I really love Bob’s guitar solo, playing in harmony with the low whistle. I would like the idea of using the main theme from „The Nightwander“ someday, but I still have to find a suitable purpose for it. Don’t know if it will ever happen. The demo tape is as good as sold out. Over 1200 copies have been spread and indeed there’s still a request for the tape

5. After the demo your style changed quite a lot, became much more independent, aggressive and „own“. What caused that radical and fast development within only about one and a half year?

Rahab: I’m not able to point out a specific cause – in my view changes never have been that radical. There never has been a point where we said: “Now we are going to do things differently!“. The only reason I can think of is a development in composing/arranging-skills as well as in playing skills. I mean, when we recorded our demo-tape Midhir and myself were handling our instruments less than a year and you can imagine that technical capacities sometimes were an obstacle in realizing what we really wanted. Apart from that, I guess the start of a band is characterized by a period of crystalisation – everything has to take shape: the division of tasks within the band, the way of composing, of communicating as well as an understanding about and a view on the music itself. I’m not saying there’s no development in such matters today, but back then Ordo Draconis was a tabula rasa and that’s not the case anymore. As for the speed of our development, I think it’s mainly due to ambition to improve, to become a better musician and a better composer. We constantly try to push our limits a little further and I guess our general approach towards our music helps to improve: In principle the composition as such is „sacred“ and it often happens that we have a long way to go, when the composing is done, before we actually are able to properly play the parts. It’s always an interesting challenge though and I have the belief that the compostion has to big an intrinsic value to simply adjust it to where you’re standing as far as playing skills go. I can imagine that the results of this approach were most noticable during the earliest period of the band’s existence. The steps of progress are always the biggest at the beginning of a learning-curve.

6. Already back in 1999 it was obvious that Ordo aims for higher goals (in the artistic sense) than most bands ever will. What might be the final endpoint of the development you’ve taken, what is the „ideal“ you try to reach?

Rahab: There’s not a fixed „final destination“ – I think that would only have a stagnating influence on the band’s development. The development of the band is a goal in itself: improving our musical and composing skills in order to capture the specific atmospheres and emotions we want to express. I think that emotion and atmosphere are the essential in music and all the means that enhance them are justified. Of course we have a number of dreams and things we want to realise. In order to get there we do set „short term goals“. There is a number of musical challenges I want confront myself with – simply ideas of things I want to try and if they work out, we’ll incorporate them into a song. Quite some examples of that can also be found on „The Wing & the Burden“ as well, like the re-arranged „Danse Macabre“-part in the song „Necropolis“, the canon-piece (where all the instruments play the same thing, but not at the same time – intentionally;-)) in „Tiphareth- the Burning Balance“, a re-arranged part of a piece for classical guitar by Carcassi to which we added a second guitar part in „the Rite…“ and so on. Current future dreams are the realisation of our second album and to do some touring.

7.„In Speculis Noctis“ has been sold as a demo-cd, it was a highly professional release though that could’ve been easily released by a label. Don’t you think it hinders the right sight of people on your work to degrade such a release to demo?Rahab: I don’t see it as a degredation. When we made „In Speculis Noctis“ we wanted to make a statement with that release, like „this is what we are capable of on our own; we believe in what we’re doing and we dare to invest in it ourselves“. The statement was not only addressed to others, but also to ourselves. I am very proud of that release and I am happy we did things the way we did. We had received a contract-offer from a record label after „When the Cycle Ends“, but since the demo-tape was more like a polished rehearsal recording, we wanted to gain studio-experience before recording our debut album. I think it was a wise decision to do so and we benefitted a lot from it while recording „The Wing & the Burden“. The basic purpose of the recording of „In Speculis Noctis“ was a demonstrating one – even the title of the MCD refers to its demo-character. „In Speculis Noctis“ simply is what it is: a (professional) demo and I see no use in calling it differently.

8. Over 1300 copies have been spread of the MCD, which is again fantastic and more than most labels sell of an average release. How were you able to do that, and do you think it was the perfect help for any label you may have signed to? Have you ever heard of such a selling success a band without a label gained in the end of the last decade?

Rahab: I’m not exactly sure about the amount of copies sold, but at least 1300 indeed. We thought it was particularly important that as many people as possible would get ahold of a copy and would hear our music – therefore we created a scenario in which we would succeed in breaking even, but would still be able to offer the CD for a low price: 10 guilders (about 9 DM). Since the whole lay-out of the CD is prodone it was easy to convince people to buy a copy. At the Dynamo festival‘99 alone we sold 500 copies in 2 days. I think we spread about 25000 flyers and did quite a number of interviews, also in bigger magazines like Legacy, Legion and Rock Brigade. I really must add that we were very lucky in getting a lot of wonderful help and support from friends – something I am incredibly thankful for. I guess it is always good for a label if a band is already know in the underground before they are signed –I mean, it is likely that it will offer some guarantee in the sales. On the other hand, before we got signed I had this thought that labels might think we would be to stubborn and too much perfectionist, wanting to do things our way. I was afraid that this could stand in the way for us to get a record deal – fortunately it didn’t eventually. I really don’t keep track of sales by other bands, so – no I haven’t heard of other private releases selling this well, but that might not be that strange considering my ignorance on other band’s sales. I know that the demo-tapes of Sirius and Ephel Duath should have sold 1200 and over 1300 copies respectively…

9. In general, are you of the opinion that it was the right decision to do a second „demo“? Is there really such a vast improvement on the album compared to the mini?

Rahab: No doubt it was the right decision – the first time in the Excess-studios for the recording of „In Speculis Noctis“ we still had to grow accustom to the way things go down in a studio. It was a good idea to do this before recording our first album. I remember I was very nervous the first time – for the recording of „The Wing & the Burden“ we were much better prepared. We had done a pre-production in our rehearsing centre, where also studio equipment is present. My entire attitude towards the recording itself was better I think, I felt more of a constructive, ambitious tension then a suffocating fear that things might not turn out as good as I wanted them, which had struck me the first time I was in the studio. I certainly think we have improved a lot on „The Wing & the Burden“ compared to „In Speculis Noctis“. We have chosen for a more transparant sound, in which all the individual instruments a separately identifiable. On „In Speculis Noctis“ there were constanly parts that seemed to drown. We make a kind of music that is pretty difficult to produce I guess; it’s rather stuffed, lots of things going on and a lot of details. I think it was quite a challenge for our producer Hans Pieters as well to find a right balance in two or three guitarlines and two or three keyboard lines played at the same time. Apart from that, our improved playings skills allowed us to have a more transparent productions, because there were fewer flaws to be covered op by effects. I think the production is a very honest one. As for the material on the album itself – though I don’t like the expression too much, I guess you might call it more mature. It’s much more complex when you analyse it, but as I mentioned before the atmosphere should take up the central place in our music, so it was a challenge to create music that can be listened to at several levels. I wouldn’t like it if our music would become inaccesible due to technical twiddley bits – playing skills are subordinate to the songs, not the other way around. I think we have succeeded in preserving the atmosphere and making the songs more adventurous, both to play and to listen to. This makes things more interesting for us.

10. About one year ago (is it really that long ago… ?!) you got in contact with the German label Skaldic Art. Probably it would’ve been possible to sign with any other label I’d say. Tell the readers what caused you to choose Skaldic Art, what’s so special about the concept, what is important for you with a label in general…

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, not forgetting the German policy towards killer dogs and a desire fluid chocolate pudding!! 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)

11. How high do you rate the chances of a good development of both the band and the label in co-operation? Will Skaldic Art grow with the help of Ordo, and vice-versa? Do you have any expectations by the way concerning the work the label should do?

Rahab: I am very fond of figures, but I don’t think I’d be able to make an adequate estimation of the chance of a good development for both parties – it’s not that I am that sceptic about the odds. Skaldic Art’s label policy deserves a lot of respect in my view, but it’s not without risk. Though sticking to ideals can be very rewarding and is a whole lot more important than making lots of money, it sometimes has a high price in financial terms – I hope that will never be an unovercomeable issue for Skaldic Art. Of course I hope we can grow together and that our cooperation will be fruitful for both parties, but it is impossible to actually predict such thing. The only thing that I do know for sure is that we will, or as a matter of fact, already are doing our very best to support both Ordo Draconis and Skaldic Art. Both band and label are convinced of eachothers qualities and are both optimistic and curious about how things will develop with the new releases (apart from „The Wing & the Burden“, Obsidian Gate’s second album „Collosal Christhunt“ has just been released).

12. Is the relation you have with Skaldic Art’s boss Vratyas Vakyas an uncommon, special one you wouldn’t expect actually? How important is it for you to have such a personal relationship in a co-operation?

Rahab: It’s not the kind of relation I had expected myself at first instance. I had expected a more formal understanding between band and label… and the formal part is present, there simply is more. I think I was pretty reserved at first instance – I mean, I am walking around in the underground long enough to know it’s wiser to be cautious than to fully trust someone at first instance. Even if there are no bad intentions, people often say things in their enthusiasm that they simply are not able to realise. I guess that’s only natural – though I think I am reasonably selfconscious and down to earth, I can’t deny being guilty of over-enthusiasm occasionally. Anyway, Vratyas‘ competence came shining through soon enough and I opened up more for the informal contact Vratyas wants to have with „his“ bands. We are in frequent contact and have developed a personal friendship over the last year that is very dear to me. Occasionally we meet each other. I can’t tell how important it is to have a more personal understanding or even a friendship with one‘s label-boss, for I have no comparison. I simply know I am happy that things are the way they are – Vratyas is an animating, inspiring character, who I respect and with whom I can disagree.

13. The preparations for the album „The Wing & the Burden“ have been vast again, you even did a complete pre-production on your own. What was the reason to do that, and did it help anything in order to improve on the final production?

Rahab: The reason for the pre-production was to get a clear sight on song-parts that would need adjustment and to get a view on songs/parts that deserved extra attention in the preparation. Apart from that, such a recording is perfect to practice at home by playing along. Though it was a costly effort, I think it payed off. For me it was a good indication of what remained to be done before entering the studio. It was also the pre-production that made us decide not to use any distortion on the bass-guitar

14. Long before the final recording of the album it seemed to be clear the both Bob and Moloch intended to leave the band due. Again, what have been the reasons for these decisions? Did it influence the enthusiasm and skills in the band in any way? In the end, it turned out that both members decided to stay. Did the rest of the band have influence on that or did they do that on their own? Finally, Ordo is an order, and somebody can’t leave an order that easily – did that problems strengthen the order in the end?

Rahab:The whole situation had it’s roots in private life – I don’t want to comment on that. Due to this there arose a tension in 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 album was finished. They saw that it would have been to big a loss if they wouldn’t at least complete what we had been working for all this time. From that point 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 did influence 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!

15. Is it possible that some members of the band have very different tastes concerning music and style in general? If yes, did that ever cause any problems for the cooperation and the aims in the band?

Rahab: Na, I won’t deny that we are a bunch of stubborn bastards with different and diverse tastes for music. But that is something we new from the start and I think we have found a way to deal with that. Of course there are moments of discussion and arguing, but never in a hostile way. In the end we all have the same goal: creating music that means something to us. We respect eachother for being perfectionists and each one of us is self-conscious enough to know he (including myself of course) isn’t the easiest person to deal with. Most of us are open-minded to experimenting and incorporating new influences into the songs. Like I mentioned before – all influences and means are legitimate as long as the help in creating a certain atmosphere. Bob and Moloch have a second band (resp. Bad Wurm and Dark Remains) in which they can use their creativity for other styles of music. I think the diversity in musical taste has only enriched the band, I don’t recall situations were it lead to problems. If someone comes with an idea that the rest of the band doesn’t like, even after experimenting with it, we just drop it…

16. The style on the album hasn’t changed too much, it has become technically more skilled, more mature and ripe and sometimes more aggressive, but still focussed on the atmosphere. Where do you see the „big“ differences to the former recordings? In my eyes it’s a pretty complete sounding album, showing an own style in all songs.

Rahab: It think I already answered most of this question in my answer to question 9. I pretty much agree with your description of the changes (technically more skilled, more mature and sometimes more aggressive, yet still focused on the atmosphere… could have said so myself, hahaha – I’m going to plagiarize you on this one in interviews to come ;-)) Na, the changes you mentioned are big enough for me, together with an improved production and better and more inventive composing. The next release might see some more radical differences, we deliberately shifted those songs to the next album. But like „The Wing & the Burden“ compared to „In Speculis Noctis“, it will still be recognisably Ordo Draconis.

17. You’ve compared yourself to Dissection or Arcturus during the times of the first demo. Both CDs show that you’re much more independent than you probably guess yourselfs – so, you aren’t still of the opinion you can be compared to any band, are you?

Rahab: I wouldn’t put it as strong as to say we compared ourselves to Arcturus and Dissection – the flyer says „somewhat in the vein of…“, just to offer some kind of reference. I think it’s inevitable to give at least some clue or direction of what you sound like as a demo band. As a matter of fact I think it’s still important, I mean, not in the sense that we are copying the bands we mention or that there is a close comparison, but that our general approach is about the same. Apart from the fact that I would never have the arrogance to label our music „totally original“, it doesn’t say shit either… because what does „totally original“ sound like? It’s more useful to name some bands, like Emperor and Arcturus for instance… I think these bands could give some indication of what we sound like.

18. Most of the music on the album is very well-balanced between guitars and keyboards dominating the atmosphere, which is very seldom actually. How do you compose the songs, still like the years before or did anybody become the musical mastermind in the meantime?

Rahab: No, the way of composing is still the same – we have juste started to use computer sofware to help with composing – the first experiments have come out well. The „division of tasks“ hasn’t changed much – there is not one musical mastermind in Ordo Draconis. Midhir, Bob and myself are responsible for the basic ideas and song-structures and we arrange the songs with the entire band. In the end everybody is responsible for his exact parts to play, but we always try to preserve this balance you mentioned. We still work from a basic concept or theme for a song, before composing it. The lyrics are written after wards.

19. Do you write the lyrics to finished songs, or totally parted of each other? Is it important that both fit together concerning the atmosphere? Do the members who don’t contribute anything to the lyrics care about their contents though?

Rahab: No, the lyrics are written when the music is finished. The lyrics are to delicate a matter to be written separately – they have to fit into the music perfectly in order to obtain the right synergy between lyrics and music. Like I mentioned before the subject or the concept for the lyrics is already detemined before the composing of the music, so from that point on, our lyricists (Moloch & Midhir) can already start working on what they want to put in, but content only take their final shape when the music is ready. I should add that it has happened that Moloch completely revised his lyrics, because the initial ones didn’t satisfy him anymore. I think everybody in the band cares about the contents of the lyrics, though not to the same extent. Since there’s a link between the lyrics and the music it’s almost impossible not to care about the contents. The topics of our lyrics generally interest me as a person and I always read the lyrics to a song as soon as I can. Because I really like a graceful use of language, figures of speech and the use of metaphors, the lyrics of Midhir appeal to me most and we sometimes discuss them. I think his poetic expression and his use of the English language is of a standard seldomly seen in the black metal scene, even with bands who have English as their native language. A complaint for some might be that his lyrics are difficult to understand, because of his extensive vocabulary and the use of abstractions. Moloch’s lyrics are much more direct and easier to comprehend for „sheer mortals“ like myself, though his references to the occult are often beyond my knowledge. For „The Wing & the Burden“ he also started using historical events as topics for his lyrics, like with „The Rite of Catherina de Medicis“, which is interesting I think.

20. You’ve written about themes that are not very typical for BM bands I’d say (and actually Ordo isn’t a common BM band…), even if they fit into a certain „dark“ scheme. Do the two writes identify themselves with the themes the other one writes about as well, and is it possible for them to express the most important things they like to say by writing lyrics?

Rahab: For Moloch it’s a necessity to identify with Midhir’s lyrics, at least to some extent, because he handles the vocals. It’s hard for me to judge to what extent the two of them identify with the lyrics written by the other one. I do not wish to speak for them. I can only guess about the second question too and I prefer not to – you really would have to ask the two of them.

21. The production of „The Wing & the Burden“, carefully listened to, is one of the best productions that have been delivered during the last two years in that style I’d say. How would you describe the main charasteristics of your production, and why did you choose the Excess Studio? Do you think it would’ve been possible to get the same result in another studio as well?

Rahab: Well thank you for the compliment, though there is always space for improvement, we are indeed quite content with the production ourselves. I would describe the production like clear, balanced and definable, but still with power. We returned to the Excess Studios for a couple of reasons. First, we were happy with the job Hans Pieters did on „In Speculis Noctis“. I think he’s a pleasant person to work with and having worked with bands like Sinister, Danse Macabre, Houwitser and After Forever to name but a few he’s pretty experienced. Second, we were already familiar with Hans‘ way of working and the Excess Studio itself, so we immediately felt at ease with that. And third the studio is not too far from where we live so we could go home and didn’t have to get bored stiff in the studio when there was nothing to do. In another studio the result obviously would have been different, but it might have turned out equally good – as long as the equipment is there, there is an experienced person present as a producer and we feel at ease recording, we may get a good result anywhere. A return to the Excess Studios simply was the most obvious choice and it’s likely we will record there again

22. You’ve mentioned two things long time ago concerning the album – the first one was „maybe we’re going to use some electronic beats“ and the other one was „probably we’re recording a song that has a pretty folky theme and differs from the other songs“. Well, nothing has become reality in the end. Why not?

Rahab: Hey, don’t give up on me too soon. We did compose a track with a part which has electronic beats, but we decided to shift it to the next album. In general the next album will see a little more experimenting in the rhythm section, I think. However there’s not to much I want or dare to say about it – sometimes views change. The song with the folky song was intended to be recorded during the „In Speculis Noctis“-sessions. There wasn’t enough time though and since the song sounds rather different from the other material, it was the first to be left out. I don’t think we will ever record it in it’s original version, but it’s very well possible that we will use some of the riffs for a future song. The song was called „The Ritual“ and it was unique in the sense that it is the only song we ever composed to whom somebody outside the band contributed the lyrics. We never played the song live either, wouldn‘t have been the same anyway, because it was supposed to contain a rather long accoustic part.

23. Did you already receive any reactions from fans, magazines etc. for the album? I can imagine that not too many people will comprehend the essence of the Ordo sound, not explore the depth you have. Would you limit the circle of Ordo-listeners if possible, or would you regard it as positive if everybody tries to listen to it?

We didn’t receive that many reactions yet – at the moment that I am writing these lines the album isn’t even officially released. But the response we got so far is pretty good, but still diverse. Some have told me it’s quite a lot in the vein of „In Speculis Noctis“ and others said it is way more complex and that it’s difficult to comprehend the songs at first instance. As a matter of fact the latter is entirely what we had intended – listening to the album should be a challenge!, an adventurous journey on which you discover new details with each hearing for a long time. However it’s not intended to be so complex that the complexity becomes a barrier for experiencing the atmosphere of the songs. The music can be listened to on more than one level. I once said myself, that after the recording, I wanted to be able to listen to the album and discover new details myself despite the fact that I was involved in the composing; well that’s something we succeeded in. An interesting aspect is that the people outside the metal scene that I demonstrated our material to, were very impressed. At the end of last year I had a guitar teacher over at my place who had graduated music school and had transcribed clavesimbel pieces by Bach to classical guitar. He was interested in what I was doing with Ordo Draconis, so I put on an advance of the album. He must have told me at least 8 times that he was very impressed by our music… he only couldn’t appreciate the vocals, haha! I guess it should be clear from our approach to our music that we want to offer as many people as possible the opportunity to have a listen. It’s not our aim to keep our audience restricted – on the other hand we won’t make any musical consessions in order to reach a larger audience. But I do hope many people will make the effort to have a listen to „The Wing & the Burden“

24. On the release party you did in March you’ve invited 100 listeners to be present, not more. That seems to be very personal. Is Ordo’s music „personal“ music as well, nothing that could be played besides watching TV or in a club maybe? If you like, tell something about the success of the release party and for what purpose you’ve done it.

Rahab: The release-patry was not a matter of personal invitation or anything. We held our CD-presentation on the 10th March in Gouda in a place called „De Gonz“. This simply felt right, because it is there, that everything started and where we did our first gig and so on. Many regular visitor accompany us on gigs, no matter where we play. We have a very loyal following – somethig to be vey grateful for! I was one of the best days I can recall, with so many great friends being present, our label mates Vindsval opening up and playing an excellent and succesful gig and our own gig was one of the best we ever did I think. The moments of holding our debut-CD in my hands for the first time and sharing the happiness and relief with the people who realised this work will stick to my mind, always! The party afterwards was great as well, as well as the response from the audience that seemed to be impressed. What the purpose for the release-party was? Celebrating our debut album, an effort for which we have worked our asses off for 4 years, with people who care about Ordo Draconis, like our music or what ever… To me our music will always be very personal of course – the first couple of dozen hearings I wasn’t able to do anything apart from listening and sitting paralysed. I don’t think there’s any use in saying where, under which circumstances and by whom our music should be played. I know I prefer to listen to it when I’m alone.

25. In the very nicely designed booklet one can see that all members wear paintings, live you’ve played without make-up. Most people say only „true BM have the legitimation to wear paintings“, and in fact you aren’t. When and why do you it though?

Rahab: The use of corpse paint has been a personal matter and a personal decision ever since the very beginning of the band. The last couple of gigs no one in the band has used it, which doesn’t mean no one will use it ever again. To me corpsepaint is a form of dramatic expression, an emphesis of the contrast in myself which shines through in our music… as such it can impossibly lose it’s meaning, which it obviously hasn’t. However, there are a number of practical reasons, which led to not using corpsepaint by me. Like I said – it is an emphasis, not an essential to me, and I decided I wanted to focus on the essence: our music, at the moment. In a live environment that is easier for me when I don’t have paint my face half an hour before I get on stage – I prefer to prepare myself in a different way. As for „most people“, maybe some of them would care to explain to me, why it wouldn’t be legitimate for me to wear corpsepaint. I do think Ordo Draconis play true black metal in the only sense that is relevant: that it is sincere, that we are true to ourselves. We do the things we do for a reason and most of the time those reasons are well thought through. We do not need or want a fake image to appeal to other people – this is the same kind of basic principle I already mentioned in the question relating to Skaldic Art: the artistic aspect of the music should always be the essential. We are not going to make music and create an image of ourselves that’s miles apart from who we are and what we want to do, just to sell more records or to get more publicity. There is something like personal integrity and violating that (i.e. pretending to be something you’re not), is even worse than musical prostitution (making a kind of music only because it appeals to others) in my view. I have been wondering through the black metal underground for over ten years now and I think that is quite some time to think over ones personal views concerning the music, the scene, etc. I wonder what convincing argument „most people“ might have, that would deny me the use of a well-thought-through and suitable emphesis of the music that I have (partly) composed myself. Apart from that, I am always kind of curious what criteria people have for judging how „true“ a band or a person is. I sometimes have the impression that „most people“ (for I don’t believe it are most people) have the interesting and sophisticated belief there exists a connection between „trueness“ and „playing skills“ analogue to the Heisenberg-equation. (for those, less engaged in quantum physics: the more you have of one, the less you have of the other)

26. For gigs you have a female session bass player. What can you tell us about her, except for the fact that she’s very beautiful and seems to be a good musician? 😉 Why did Moloch decide not to play bass anymore, not in the studio nor live?

Rahab: At a certain point Moloch mentioned he wanted to entirely focus on his skills as a frontman and a vocalist. I also believe this is the field were his main talents lie. The bass hanging around his neck had become a burden to him in giving the performance he wanted to give. So he decided to quit playing the bass. For studio activities this was no problem at all, because our other guitarist Bob handles the bass in his second band so he could easily fill the gap while recording, As a matter of fact it was even easier to match the guitar and the bass-parts. For playing-live there was a problem. Fortunately, Moloch knew somebody perfect for the job, namely Digna. At first instance she would only play along for a certain period, but things worked very well: we got along fine on a personal levels and her skills as a musician are excellent apart from the fact she really bangs her head off on stage. So we decided to have her as a permanent session bass-player. Unfortunately, she recently had to quit her activities for Ordo Draconis because of her graduation and her own band Imbolc, which is one of the best upcoming bands from Holland I know by the way! They play fast black metal double vocals and with touches of Naglfar and Aeternus, with some death metal influences as well. They recently recorded their first demo which should be available soon and which I strongly recommend! At the moment we are looking for a new, more permant solution for the bass-guitar live.

27. You still have, with a full line-up, the opportunity to play concerts. Will you use that chance as often as possible? There are some rumours of a tour with Falkenbach you may support if possible. Any other plans for bigger concerts? Festivals maybe?

Rahab: Until we have a permanent solution for the bass, we will not actively search for more gigs I guess – for the gigs that are still planned, Moloch will handle the bass again. There are no huge gigs or festivals planned. We all have rather busy lives with demanding jobs and studies. Then there are things like relationships, second bands and hobby’s like Arco’s designing activities and his Moongleam Distribution and for me Mandrake Magazine. Since there are only 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, it wouldn’t be possible or at least desirable to play each week at least two gigs. But one or two gigs a month is perfect. It would be fantastic to support Falkenbach on a tour! Let’s say, I heard the rumour as wel. The intentions are there, now let’s see if we can make it work. It’s something I have dreamt of since we began – to go on a tour. My ideas about touring are really not that romantic, I just want to experience it at least once. And of course it would be great to play as a support act for Vratyas‘ Falkenbach, since there is mutual respect both on a musical and a personal level. I do not think the gap on bass would offer any serious problems for a tour, even if therr wouldn’t be a permanent solution then, I think finding a temporary one should be too big a problem.

28. Surely you already do have ideas for new songs, and I have to ask that: how are they going to sound in your opinion? What will change on the next album? Choirs maybe, that would suit quite well… 😉 You’ve told me once that you like Indian traditional music. Will that influence your sound in the future, both music-wise and in „ideology“/contents?

Rahab: At this point about 4 new song-structuress are finished, but I wouldn’t be able to give an general indication of the development. Two of the songs are part of trilogy, a rather ambitious project about which I do not want to say too much at this stage, because it will only give rise to expectations that we may not be able to meet in the end. The whole thing will have to crystallize a little more. We will need to make quite some efforts to make the whole thing work and it’s absolutely sure we will need help from outside the band as well. I am searching for the right people to do the job. I can say that it is our intention to experiment some more with vocals and rhythms… so choirs… who knows? I have a rather broad taste in music nowadays. Next to metal and classical music, I listen a lot to Dead Can Dance, Loreena McKennitt, Faith and the Muse and Govinda. Wordly and traditional music in general interest me, though I do not have a very large collection myself. A friend of mine introduced me to some traditional Indian music and I thought it quite interesting. I doubt it will have an enormous impact on what Ordo Draconis sounds like, but of course it does influence me to some extent and it might always lead to some experiment. From an ideological point I don’t think there will be any influence.

29. You’ve planned to record two songs for your solo-project some time ago, that seems to have been canceled in order to make the Ordo album as perfect as possible. Are you going to work on it again now? Any news about how it would sound, any details?

Rahab: It’s not a solo-project really, it is rather personal though. As a matter of fact these are the two songs of the trilogy I just mentioned – initially there were only going to be two songs, but it turned out a third one would fit into the concept as well. So the project wasn’t called off, it was only shifted to the next album, because it would have been too ambitious for a first album or a 7“. I think I have told everything I wanted about the songs in my answer to the previous question. If I ever will do a solo project besides Ordo Draconis, it is probably going to be on acoustic guitar. Most of my contribution to our music is composed on acoustic guitar, but throughout the years I have composed a number of pieces that I do not wish to, or can’t be used for Ordo Draconis. I guess I would like to record those once, but we’ll see.

30. Alright then, seems to have become a longer interview though… 😉 Are you a friend of „last words“? If yes… if not, tell something different. 😉 Thanks for answering!

Rahab: First of all, a major thanx to you for this fantastic interview as well as for everything you have done for us in the past. I think I have said more than enough to hold my piece now. People interested in knowing our band some more can also check our website at www.ordodraconis.com, where they can download some of our music. Hopefully we’ll be able to do a number of gigs in Germany soon!