INTERVIEW – SERPENT NOIR

The Drakon roars but most cannot hear Him. An effort has to be made in order to reach such higher levels and SERPENT NOIR, the recent force from the Hellenic underground blackmetal, are an outstanding example of devotion to these aspects. Let them guide you in your quest but remember… NOTHING can be accomplished when the Mind is not strong enough! The conversation with Yannis aims to reveal some more details…

Serpent Noir

I) Hail SERPENT NOIR! Give us a short chronicle of the events that led to the revelation which came through the “Sanguis XI” EP back in 2010. If I am not mistaken, much of the material was written way before its release.

That’s right; the tracks from “Sanguis XI” (with the exception of “Ritualis Draconis” which was added a bit later) were ready from mid-2006. I had from early on some pieces ready (“Midnight Consciousness”, “The Disputers” and some parts from “Sorath Invocation”) for recording, which we tried at the studio with Kostas – Archfiend Devilpig (drums and vocals at the time). During the process, “Eleventh Blood” was also revealed to us and the need to create a regular studio band arose. We decided to record the material and there came Dimitris Lagios who played the drums in “Sanguis XI”. After shattering events the recordings of the EP were finally completed.

Sanguis XIII) How did cooperation with Mika Belfagor (OFERMOD/NEFANDUS) occur? I believe you agree that his drum performance has given an evident uniqueness to the tracks. Just as Kostas’ (EMBRACE OF THORNS) vocals similarly do of course…

Mika has a special way of playing which matched at once with SERPENT NOIR. His themes give an intense feeling to the tracks. The good thing is that the drum parts he’s recorded for the full-length that is now in the process of creation are much different from those in “Seeing Through The Shadow Consciousness”, which were more aggressive while the new ones are more atmospheric. I like that differentiation a lot…

Regarding how the cooperation occurred, to put it simply, with Mika we got to know each other because of common interests on themes concerning the awakening of consciousness and the perception of reality. For that reason, he wanted to release “Sanguis XI” through his own label Left Light Emanations (which had also released the NEFANDUS “Death Holy Death” album). Eventually this did not happen for several reasons.

At the time I was working on the tracks from “Seeing Through…” when Dimitris Lagios announced us that he could not continue with SERPENT NOIR (eventually he remained part of the band, undertaking other duties). As you can understand we were without a drummer in a crucial point of the band’s life, having a full-length album ready yet with no drummer to record. I had nothing to lose and knowing that Mika was very keen on SERPENT NOIR I proposed him to take place behind the drum-kit, something he gladly accepted.

For Kostas what can I say? For me he is the best in what he does and truly important for our sound. Without him, SERPENT NOIR would sound much different for sure.

III) UndLive @ Occult Black/Death Ritual, Athens - November 2013er what circumstances do you compose and record. I get the impression that your tracks do not arise from a random idea but that there is some driving force behind each particular conception. All compositions are products of years of personal pursuit regarding awakening of the consciousness and reality control. Along with these comes the need to create: the need to express the subconscious and the unconscious through the changes that occur in the conscious mind when it acquires greater access to the former. Creation (in our case music and lyric writing) serves to maintain a kind of inner balance. Now in more “practical” terms, I write lyrics and compose all music, doing a demo version of each track and then I listen to the opinions of the other guys for specific music details giving the songs their final form.

IV) In your songs you use extensive ritual parts with non expected samples like the fantastic “crawling”/”screeching” which can be heard in “Black Sphere”. How do these parts evolve, are they already in your mind when writing the material or they arise during recording sessions?

Crawling, huh? You are very close! Specific details you hear in various ritual parts of our music were already in our minds while some others occur when recording.

V) “Dragon Egregore” is something like a tribute to the great CELTIC FROST as I observe it and the energy flowing through it (even more in its live version) is huge. Can we hope to similar musical paths from you in the future? Or you intend to continue in the more complex style of “Shadow As A Portal” (from the split with ANDRAMELECH.

I wouldn’t say that it is a tribute to another band but to the egrḗgoros of the Red Dragon –the most important symbol behind our philosophy and the motivating force of SERPENT NOIR. Although influences from CELTIC FROST as well as “Lepaca Kliffoth”-era THERION are noticeable, the purpose for the fact that “Dragon Egregore” sounds like that (let’s call it “gig-friendly black’n’roll”) has mainly to do with energy. To explain a bit further, my aim is the listener to come to an intense mood, having the Drakon’s egrḗgoros in his mind, praising him with one way or the other; to receive but mostly to give out energy… Finally, I should not forget to mention that I like this style, so it is also a matter of personal taste in addition to the above.

This style is a characteristic of our music, (you must have observed similar parts throughout “Seeing Through…” i.e. “Black Sphere”, “Shifting To Shadow Consciousness” etc, but in “Sanguis XI” as well) so it will be present in the new record too. “Shadow As A Portal” was a special occasion, I do not think there will be anything like it in the upcoming full-length although you will find some similarities with the second part (“Actio”) of that song.

Seeing Through The Shadow ConsciousnessVI) I know that you face your art as a wholeness that encloses music, lyrics and other artwok. For the latter, until know you have cooperated with various artists in each release. Personally I find Timo Ketola’s cover for “Seeing Through…” an amazing piece of work and I cannot hide I enjoyed the fact that the CD booklet unfolds to a larger sheet, bringing memories from the 90s when many CD booklets had a similar design. How do you choose which artist(s) will take care of the visual works in each of your releases?

Exactly, music, lyrics and artwork complement each other. Timo did an exceptional job!  Of course it took him a bit more than expected to complete the artwork and layout; only… two years! This is why the record was released in 2012 while being ready from 2010. And those were only for the CD version! I know Timo personally for many years and I knew that, as a great artist -and person too- who knew well what we were seeking, he would be the most suitable to take over the visual part of our first full-length. The unfolding of the booklet was purely his idea.

Common perception on aspects that constitute a way of life for us is the basis upon which we choose the artist that will undertake artwork of our releases. We are not interested in most new artists who are good in drawing “monsters” and “daemons” –some popular themes of today–, unless we have to come to them as a last resort in which case we will guide them 100%. There are some exceptions however. In the new record, we will cooperate with an excellent new artist from Sweden, who hasn’t spent himself in doing artwork for bands (with the exception of his own releases which are irrelevant with metal music).

VII) Having recorded all of your works in the domestic Eleventh Tower Studios, how do you rate the situation regarding recording/production conditions in our country? I am asking mainly because SERPENT NOIR productions are among the best ones that have come out from Greece. Maybe after all it has to do with the devotion from the musicians and the producer/sound engineer in order for the final outcome to be what the band originally intended?  

Thank you for your good words. Special mention must be done to Haris Vouyiatzis, the owner of Eleventh Tower Studios (and also guitarist at EMBRACE OF THORNS and recently the permanent bassist for us) and also to Dimitris Lagios (ex drummer and current all-around member). The secrets behind our productions are: a) we always ask for something different and special regarding our sound and b) there are people –especially the guys I just mentioned– who really care for SERPENT NOIR although they know it is clearly my personal means of inspiration and expression. Even if the TOP-CLASS technical equipment might not exist (although they are very good), the guys will do anything for in order to end up with the best outcome possible. So yes, I believe that in the end it is a matter of devotion by the musicians and producer.

VIII) To insist a bit on the production aspect, I have observed a wave of blackmetal releases lately that have left aside the once established perception about the necessity of chaotic sound, cacophony, “ugliness” etc.  Playing has a clear sound, yet without any discounts in the threatening atmosphere or the effort required from the audience in order to tune in with vibrations produced. Do you believe there has been some shifting in the mentality of the musicians and the fans?

The evolution of technology has played a significant role in this for sure. Better recording equipment makes things almost hard in order to reproduce sound equal to… the old “necrohell” four-channel for example! In addition to that, the fact musicians are now better technically is a reason not wanting to bury the themes they are playing under bad production.

IX) An equivalent “turnaround” can also be seen in the lyrical part; themes like graphic satanic rituals, sacrifices, anti-christian hate and all kinds of negative thoughts and acts have –partly– given their place to more philosophical/occult pursuits and to ritualistic practices that aim to levitate our metaphysical essence thus resulting to a more positive state if we can say so.

I believe it has to do with the era we live in, the era of information (and misinformation –but this is another story). Many people now have access to subjects which were hidden and on the fringes of society during older times. So, it is logical for someone to become involved with something more “fresh” to them since anti-christian hate, for example, is now regarded as cliché. Automatically, this is a reason for a new movement and a new trend to rise.

X) Regarding tLive @ Incubate Festival, Tilburg - September 2013he above however, the occult theme has become partly trend in our days, hasn’t it?

Yes, this is true. But, as a trend, it will soon be over! Only the real thing will continue to exist…

XI) Please share with us, if you want to, a few things about Shadow Consciousness. As you mention in “Black Sphere”:  “…there is a certain state of mind which makes the access to Black Ecstasy possible. This state of mind it is rooted in subconscious, yet it’s comprehended by conscious.”  

“Black Sphere” refers to a method of opening some sort of a Gate through specific techniques of meditation and other practices. If I can say any more on this, it’s that the so-called reptilian brain has an important role here. The lyrics you mentioned refer to a conscious passage into the realms of the subconscious and this is only the beginning…

XII) Who are the Allies from the Black Sun Universe? How can one come in contact with them?

The least I can say about it in terms of this interview is that approximately they are autonomous intellects that “reside” in forgotten and well hidden corners of consciousness (both microcosmically and macrocosmically) beyond time and space. For one to have access to such levels of consciousness is something high above the boundaries of common logic. That’s why a description through words is probably impossible.

However, the lyrics of this specific song, although personal, are very revealing; maybe even more than it should.

Live @ Occult Black/Death Ritual, Athens - November 2013XIII) Let’s move into the subject of live appearances. Until now you have, I would say, three fairly special experiences: The KAWIR (and Metal Defiance) anniversary event, the participation in Incubate festival (in Tilburg, Netherlands along with IMMORTAL, MAYHEM, GEHENNA and many more), as well as the more recent Occult Black/Death Metal Ritual under the care of ACHERONTAS. Would you share with us some special impressions/experiences you acquired in each of these appearances?

All three of them were special experiences. That latter two were under harsh conditions mainly because of sound problems but not only that. Personally, I enjoyed every single moment, by analyzing and living these situations on the spot. I would classify the first two as the most important ones. The first one led us to the decision in making SERPENT NOIR a live-playing group (while at first we were thinking to remain a studio band) and the second one was a reward of our devotion and also recognition of the effort we made in creating“Seeing Through The Shadow Consciousness”.

XIV) What can we expect from SERPENT NOIR in the future? I know you are in the process of creating new material; so, if you are willing to, please reveal to us the basic pylons of it. If it’s similar to the style of “Dreaming Ibligs” which we heard in the Occult Black/Death Ritual, then we are already talking about one of the most expected records of this year.

Indeed we are in the process of preproduction for our second full-length. Arguably, I consider this upcoming record as the most important release for us. It is an album very emotional, atmospheric, weird and dark but with a fairly different approach in comparison to our previous works. Above all, it is a true product of the Draconian Current. We plunge more than ever into themes, teachings and traditions regarding It. Thus, some very important persons and fraternal friends of ours will take part in this record; Thomas Karlsson (leader of the Dragon Rouge Order and a very remarkable writer), who will be responsible for most of the lyrical part; Tommie Eriksson (musician, known from his works with SATURNALIA TEMPLE, SHADOWSEEDS and previously THERION); and finally Christofer Johnsson himself, whose music in THERION is a great influence and always a Reminder for me.

Up to a point at least, it will sound close to “Dreaming Iblis” as well as the second part of “Shadow As A Portal” from our latest release. But we take things beyond that…

Gateways To The NightsideXV) As we come to an end, could you please describe us your music background. What drew you into metal, what attracted you to the dark passages of black? Which records won your attention lately and what other forms of music keep you charmed?

It was mainly the atmospheric sound of the 90s that became my first contact with metal since I grew up in this decade. The combination of melody and intense atmosphere won me. Then I found older and more classic –yet extreme in their ways– bands (such as CELTIC FROST and MERCYFUL FATE) and from there I moved to gothic rock. The first black metal record (of course I will not enter the process to analyze whether it was pure blackmetal or not) that I came across was “The Pagan Prosperity” by OLD MAN’S CHILD –which I must say I still find wonderful.

In general, what drew me in black metal and still does are the strong atmosphere as well as the potential for experimentation it provides.

I wouldn’t say I am the most informed listener or that I watch the scene closely but some records that got my attention lately are “Sunyata” of our friends ACRIMONIOUS, the outstanding “Three Transcendental Keys” from THRONE OF KATARSIS and “Anti-cosmic Tyranny” from AMSG. I get a special feeling of charm from ritual electronic music, dark trance, ambient while I watch very closely the Japanese early 70s to early 80s scene which is a personal favorite.

XVI) Thank you very much for the communication but most of all for the music! You can close with any words you find suitable…

I thank you very much for the most interesting interview I have ever answered to. Accept my appreciation for your interest in SERPENT NOIR.

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~ by antifleshnimbus on April 20, 2014.

 
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