Despite being a quite old interview, it's still interesting.
From Infernal Fields.
A band that has really conquered my tastes... Full of melancholy, filled with dark and hateful feelings, "Nocturnal Poisoning" is really an album that anyone who's trying to find a certain type of atmosphere must listen to. I have contacted Malefic, the sole member of this very good project named Xasthur, and had a very interesting interview with an individual who demonstrates to have a right idea of Black Metal and its atmosphere. To you the interview...
Hail Malefic! Xasthur is your one man band, so I think it will be good if you can introduce it to all those don't know it: in particular, a thing that personally makes me curious is the meaning of the name, 'cause it's not the first time I hear it…
Hello… Xasthur is not a new band really, it's been around since about '96, I'd say, but didn't really get going till '99. The name, at least my way of seeing it, is a mix of two names in which both I have used at different times as the band name.
One of them being Xenaoth, that name being from a Santeria book a friend let me look at once, and that meaning a higher celestial spirit. The other name was going to be Xastur, a demoness that kills people in their sleep. I wanted to combine the two names of Xenaoth and Xastur, a random idea, and came up with Xasturioth somehow, but that was only for a few days that I liked it, so I just changed it to that it is now, and that being Xasthur. Haha, which name do you like better?
I think the actual one is ok. The music you propose with this band is surely not "happy" or "easy listening", but, a really deep dark and atmospheric BM, full of pain, melancholy and negative sensations: do you agree? How can you describe your music?
I would agree. I would describe my music as a painting of myself, my state of mind painted with sounds you might say?
"Nocturnal Poisoning" is an album really full of pathos, and during all its length it drowns you under a heavy atmosphere of darkness and obscurity. Maybe I'm too much "metaphoric", but it isn't really easy to describe the sensation you can feel listening to this disc. What were your purposes while you were crating it?
Part of it you have said, darkness and obscurity. I will add to that by saying it was made with hatred from the heart and nightmares in mind, coldness, desolation, thoughts of suicide, depression, hoping someone will kill themselves so I won't have to kill myself, ecc… I also wanted to perform a style of Black Metal that for some reasons in the US bands don't really take part in… call it "suicide black metal" for a lack of better term, that's the label I seem to get, and that's ok with me, maybe it's more specific than just saying "BM"? Continuing on the purposes question, it reminds me of a few years back when a friend of mine said to me: "Why even bother playing Black Metal, it's all been done before, it's dead, there's a million bands out there, ecc…". I told him that there's many bands that are also very one dimensional, I told him that I could probably only think of like 2 or 3 bands from the US that were either very dark or even had some sort of Burzum-like feeling to them. Around the US, a band will either go fast or not play at all, or they'll play like Deicide (not to mention all the albums all being the same just like Deicide) but I would say, how about continuing playing in that Deicide style if you must, but mix some doom with very miserable keyboards to it. In other words Deicide meets Skepticism? No? Not allowed? So there's more room and reasons to continue if you really think about it.
Inside the Cd version that I hold, there aren't the texts of the lyrics, so I can't imagine what they are about: can you unveil their message?
Mostly like what I said in the last question. For example, the song "Nocturnal Poisoning" is about killing a mostly holy community in their sleep, some of them will awake to a dawn they have never imagined; inverting their world, so to speak, while they sleep and their blood is the only kind of poison I can see myself reflecting in. In the future, I would like to work harder on some lyrics and include them on a release, if not the next one, maybe the one after.
Your vocals in this album are really full of pain and hate, and I think I must ask you if you used some effects over them, or if they are just the result of the hate that you keep inside your music. What do you answer?
Yes, there was some reverb and delay on the vocals, but it's not like I didn't strain my voice a lot because of that… I was actually screaming very loud each time I recorded. I am so sick of keeping the hate inside of my music, I want to let it out to people…
In some of Xasthur's songs, there's a strong use of keyboards to enphatise the obscure atmosphere of them, but, even if I absolutely hate their use in the most of BM bands, I can clearly say that in "Nocturnal Poisoning" they are really fascinating, and contributes so much to make the atmosphere dark and cold. What's your personal opinion about the use (better say abuse, ndA) of this instrument inside a genre like Black Metal?
I think it's very important how they're done. Meaning that they need to be just loud enough, not too loud, so when the Cd is over, the listeners will remember more than just the keyboards in their mind. Some bands that use them wouldn't be the same without them, take for example a band that probably we both hate, that being Dimmu Borgir, take away the keyboards, and you have the most boring half assed songs ever, boring power metal punk riffs, just plain chords. So, to sum it up, not to base the whole song around keyboards and not to have them so loud.
The keyboard I have is nothing special, but I have some effects I add from elsewhere to it, I try to make it sound out of tune, out of key slightly, yet still technically IN key/tune, if you know what I mean?
In the album there's a cover of a Mütiilation song ("Black Imperial Blood"): why did you choose this one and what do you think about this cult band and all the rumours and stupid gossips around Meynac'h?
I chose this song because learning to play this one in particular just happened, it was meant to be you might say.
I think it would be one of my favourites on that album especially because of the very ominous beginning to it. One thing I can add that I haven't told anyone before, is that I did some "clean singing" on the beginning and end of that cover, kind of like a haunting, out of key opera voice… it's buried in the song, but if you pay some attention or close your eyes, you might hear it.
I have heard a lot of these rumours about Meynac'h, I don't know which ones are true and which ones are false, there are so many, some that I have heard I wasn't suppose to tell anyone about, but the ones you may have heard are some of the same one's I've heard, like him becoming a punk and being kicked out of the Black Legions a long time ago. Well, everything goes down the drain in this life, it's all we ever see and should be used to by now with everything, So even Mütiilation going downhill won't surprise me. But, on the other hand, nothing can ever be as grim as albums like "Vampires of Black Imperial Blood" and "Remains of…", these in a rather short amount of time became legendary for being so horrifyingly negative BM. I have nothing bad to say about Mütiilation.
"Nocturnal Poisoning" has really an unusual length for a BM album: it's about 70 minutes long, really much more in respect of the medium length of an album of this genre. Anyway, personal opinion, it can be listened without getting bored, and I think this is really a value for a disc of this type. But, in the other hand, the medium length of your songs could restrain those who can't understand it in all its complex form; what's your opinion about this thing?
I really don't know what to say about this. I'm glad that you didn't get bored. The kind of person who can't understand or stay to listen throughout the duration of this Cd may be listening to it in the wrong state of mind, the wrong place or time… if they're trying to have a good time or have some kind of party, either they won't listen to it or take the Cd out and pick something else… turn off the light and be by yourself on a bad day when you're already about to stare at a blank wall or into nothing.
Playing in a one man band, means that you have to create all your music by yourself, play it and arrange it. What do you consider the points in favour of having a one man band, and what difficult, on the other hand, do you have to face?
Yes, you are right. It's difficult sometimes. What can I say to you and myself is that it really helps to keep at it, the more you do it, the easier it gets, like if I complete a song, the best thing to do, is work one another one after as soon as possible, not only cause of the mood but because of having all the steps and ideas fresh in your mind. The thing I like best is with the equipment I have, if I have some ideas, they can be brought out immediately, without having to wait a week until someone can come to practice or let me borrow some piece of equipment. I can take my time also, there's really no schedule, and if I make mistakes, I can correct them as many times as I want and I can always find ways to spontaneously change ideas as I go along, adding quite a few extra layers of disharmonic melodies as they come to me…
The only difficulties are time (as it takes a lot of time, maybe like 30-40 hours per song) and being too tired to work on something new, cause it does get very tiring and monotonous sometimes, both physically and mentally. But other than that, I like this way. The best times were made out of the worst of times when I was working on the "Nocturnal Poisoning" stuff, I was really on a roll, so to speak.
What inspires you creating you music? Are there some special sensations / feelings, places, or so on, where you can easily find inspiration?
Places. Some as far as Black Metal is concerned would be expected and some wouldn't be expected for some kind of inspiration. Two kinds of places, both opposites, both places I have lived, one being the woods, not too far from Oregon, which is a place I try to visit at least every year or so, and the other being an ugly urban environment with very ugly bleak colours everywhere you go… where I live now, we have streetlights that are a pale orange mixed with smog, these things affect peoples moods, yet they're too stupid to figure it out.
Hate for people, hate for life and my life itself, blah blah blah. The only thing I can do is go inside and turn off all the lights at night. Feelings. I'm tired of feeling, I can say I've had a rather traumatic life to say the least.
What are your musical influences, and what band from your country and not, can you suggest to us?
My musical influences are mostly Black Metal from the '91-'97 era and some other's too… Burzum, Graveland, Necromantia, Mutiilation, Manes, Bethlehem, Thergothon, In the Woods (old), Wyrd, Valefar(lith), Nahash(lith), Vlad Tepes, Shining, Moonblood, Bestial Summoning, Blut aus Nord, Shape of Despair, Warloghe, I Shalt Become, Veles, Gontyna Kry, Denial of God, Infernum, Deinonychus, Nastrond, Katatonia and many more.
Some newer ones that I really like would be Wigrid and Celestia. If you've heard of something called Lycia, which isn't really metal, yet can put someone in a despondent trance, especially on their album entitled "Cold". As far as American bands, there aren't too many. One band that always comes to my mind is Crimson Moon, very original and very dark stuff they play. They need to get their music heard again. I'm not going to bother naming a million others from the US. Another one that could probably really use a plug here is Morthond, a newer band that's similar to Wyed and I Shalt Become… really promising stuff there.
The last question before the end: inside the booklet of the Cd you give a big fuck off to your ex band mates: can you tell us the reasons that made them split / being kicked, and if you consider the opportunity, in the future, to have some other members besides you in Xasthur?
Well, they are just typical stubborn loser human beings! They wasted a lot of my time, not learning songs and not practicing enough. I made things very easy for them, and still they did nothing.
Yet some of them can go around lying about all the other bands they really aren't in (like that is supposed to impress someone?).
I promised some of them that a Cd or an album would come of it if they just cooperated and none of them would do that, and now there's a Cd or two and maybe some more in the future, like an Lp or something. A lot of these cunts just were into playing some sort of music to impress their friends, they would waste time playing new Sepultura (sic!! ndA) covers when I would leave the room to take a piss or something. Other losers would answer adds in the paper, where I was very specific about this being a Black Metal band, when I would meet with these people, the only thing they knew of was Ozzy or something gay like that…
Some of these people I still see around the town where I live once in a while, they look like trailer trash shit and they've done nothing since I kicked them out, yet they look at me like I went on to fail or something?!?
So I really want to kill them! I really am going on and on about this, so I'll cut it out for now. About there being any other members in Xasthur in the future, I really don't think so, the only way I've been able to do anything right is on my own, I've had enough of peoples lack of ideas, plus I can't seem to get along with anyone in this kind of situation, and more so, the other way around… I once thought of finding another vocalist, but in the time it would take training some is the time I could just do it myself and get it over with…
Ok Malefic, thank you so much for giving this interview, feel free to end as you want and, eventually, to ask me a question.
End? End life?…tempting. I would also like to tell you thanks for the interview, time and interest. There will be some new Xasthur suicide plots coming soon through Bestial Onslaught Prod. In December, a mLp, Vinyl, 5 songs, 28 min, entitled "Suicide in Dark Serenity" …for people who hate their life, hate themselves, hate so many people even their friends and family. I have one question for you. What Country are you from? I forgot to ask…
I come from Italy. Good luck for your band, 'cause it deserves attention.
It does?? I appreciate that.
For my personal opinion it absolutely does but, you know, you can do anything you want with my opinion…as I can do with anyone's, so listen and make your own ideas. Mine I think it's clear…