Band: LYCANTHROPY
Country: USA
Style: black metal
Questions by: Kai Mathias Stalhammar
Answers supplied by: Baalberith (guitars, bass, vocals)


LYCANTHROPY is not very famous band, therefore I didn't have a chance to acquaint with your biography, so maybe you will enlighten me concerning your band's past, present and future?

- LYCANTHROPY was formed in 1994 by Asmodeus and I in order to express some of the dark musical ideas we were having at the time.  With this lineup, we released a total of three demos.  Shortly after the release of our last demo, we were joined by Arcanum on drums.  In 1995 we signed to the German label Path to Enlightenment and they released our debut MCD "The Veils of Sorrow" in mid-1996.  After the release of the MCD, we were joined by Lamia (keyboards) and began working on material for our upcoming full-length album, which will be released in early 1998. In fact, we'll be entering the studio to record it during the first week of December 1997.

Multitude of modern black metal bands prefer to call their music in
different way, like "unholy metal", "dark metal", "viking metal" and so on. Do you follow the same path, or LYCANTHROPY is still a black metal horde?

- LYCANTHROPY is and will always exclusively be a black metal band.  I don't have a real problem with other bands labeling their music in another fashion just as long as it's original and truly deserves a different title. Unfortunately, I've seen too many cases where unoriginal (and in a lot of cases, truly horrible) bands are calling themselves "vampyric black metal", "war metal", or some other description in order to make their music seem special.

Your music (which is quite close to BLACK FUNERAL's art) and bandname
makes me think of you as a person obsessed by the topic of Vampirism...

- No, none of the members of the band are remotely interested in
vampirism. In my opinion, it's one of the worst trends to hit the black metal scene, and I think it's absolutely childish.  By the way, I don't think we sound anything like BLACK FUNERAL.  That comment is somewhat insulting because we actually have the ability to write coherent music.

What can you tell me about label which released your "The Veils Of Sorrow" MCD?

- The label that released our MCD is called Path to Enlightenment, and it's a label based in Germany.  So far, they've done a good job supporting us, even though we do have occasional communication problems.  We'll be releasing our upcoming full-length entitled "...As the Mourners Arise" on this label as well.  They've also released the DET HEDENSKE FOLK (Nor) demo as well as a split CD featuring MORNALAND (Swe) and ABOMINATOR (Australia). I don't really know much about their future plans or if we'll even release anything else with them after our full-length CD is out. Path to Enlightenment also has a distro with quite a large amount of black / death / ambient merchandise. I've set up a webpage for them on the Internet, so if you're interested in checking out their recent catalog, here's the URL:  http://www.dpo.uab.edu/~maldoror/pte.htm.

Year of 2000 is soon to arrive and a lot of people are waiting for this date with fear; many of them (the christian ones) are afraid of biblical armageddon... Is there any possibility for this "prophecy" to be fulfilled this time? Mass panic on the edge of millenniums (and centuries as well) is quite predictable thing, but I just can't understand why people think that it s a sort of "special" time...?

- I really don't believe that any sort of prophecies will be fulfilled in the year 2000.  The passing of another millenium of human existence is a very monumental and impressive event indeed, so I can see why people may have a sense of awe when thinking about it.  I don't think there's anything to fear; life will just continue as usual.

Sorry for the 'FAQ', but what inspires you to write music and lyrics? A lot of European BM formations gain inspiration in their country's mythology and pre-christian era's culture, but I guess, you can't be one of them just because USA doesn't have a long history... Some others gain it in the landscapes surrounding them, is it the same with you? What can you tell me about American nature?

- We're not really the type of band that is concerned with nature and
such, so that doesn't play much of a role in inspiring us to write our music.  Of course, we do appreciate nature and can naturally see how it can be a great source of inspiration, but it's not something that influences LYCANTHROPY's music.  I'd have to say that we're mostly influenced by our emotional states.  Also, the concept of chaos plays a large role in our music; it's something that is very intriguing to us (in both a scientific and spiritual manner), and has been used to provide a lot of inspiration for what we do.

Are you going to enlarge LYCANTHROPY's line up? Any plans for inviting a keyboardist?

- We were joined by Lamia on keyboards in 1996, but I don't think we'll add any other members to the lineup.  Our band formed in sort of a strange way; even when we were doing the demos, we knew that Lamia and Arcanum were going to be in the band.  They never appeared on our earlier material due to time constraints and other similar problems.  Arcanum is Asmodeus' brother, and Lamia is Arcanum's wife, so we're all basically either related to one another or are great friends.  Introducing another member who's "outside the circle", so to speak, just wouldn't feel right to us; that's why we currently do not have a bassist.  This way, we are assured of a solid lineup; it's not as if we'll get in an argument and the band will break up. We have all known each other for a  very long time, and are very comfortable working together.

You seem to be the main person behind the band, am I right? Arcanum and Asmodeus, do they participate in creating process?

- There's no "leader" or "main person" in LYCANTHROPY.  We're a group of four people putting forth equal effort in order to make the best music we possibly can.  Everyone participates in the creative process when we're writing songs and arranging material.  I understand that some people might have the impression that I am the "main person" behind the band, but this is definitely not the case.  I think this probably has something to do with the stupid way I've handled some things in the past, and for that I really must apologize to my bandmates.  Everyone in the band is crucial to LYCANTHROPY's existence, and if one of us leaves, the band will be no more.

USA is famous for it's "Church Of Satan" and most of your countrymates, drawn into Black Metal bands seem to be LaVey's followers... What is your personal opinion of this organization? What do you know about LaVey, is this clown still alive?

- If not for the Church of Satan, I think a lot of people would have never been exposed to any sort of "Satanic" thought.  In fact, the CoS brought that to the forefront, and it really made a strong impact on a  lot of people when the church first started. At this moment, however, I don't think it really serves any useful  purpose. It's basically just a pop culture sort of thing, and I definitely don't agree with a lot of the things they say and do (such as  supporting Marilyn Manson). I'm not as vehemently opposed to the Church of Satan as a lot of people are, but I really don't see why it should exist today, especially now that LaVey is dead and gone. Also, I never quite liked the fact that they refer to themselves as "Satanists", but actually don't believe in the existence of Satan. Symbolism is indeed important, but I don't necessarily agree with it in that particular case.

Are there any places left in USA with woods (a perfect place for
performing any kinds of rituals or spiritual reviving), mountains and
valleys untouched by human hand (read - technological progress and
urbanization), i.e. where unity with Mother Nature is still possible?

- I'm not sure how people from outside the United States perceive our
country, but there's still a large amount of nature to be found.  In fact, there's mountains and such very close to where I live.  The United States isn't solely composed of enormous cities; there are still plenty of beautiful places here.

Baalberith, Arcanum and Asmodeus... Looks like you follow good old BM
tradition of taking aliases, right? I totally appreciate this, BUT only if individuals who do it (this time - you) can explain: a) what do your pseudonyms mean; b) what is the reason for using them; c) why did you choose exactly these "characters" (demons, mythological creatures, etc.) to represent you in the world of black metal; d) what do these aliases mean to you personally; e) why don't you want to use your real names given to you after birth, instead of f.e.x. Baalberith; f) is this serious (I mean, do you consider yourself as an earthly personification of those, whose "names" you've taken). Got my question?

- This is a great question... I don't think I've ever been asked anything like this before in an interview.  I can't really speak for the rest of the band members on this subject (mostly due to the personal reasons behind the choice of names), but I'll do my best to explain my thoughts about all of this.
a)  According to the books on demonology I've read, Baalberith supposedly means "lord of the covenant".
b)  The reason for using aliases is simply because we feel that it is
important to uphold that particular black metal tradition.  We also feel the same way about the corpsepaint.
c)  In demonology, the demon Baalberith is Hell's archivist and also
drives men to commit homicide. I chose the name because of the qualities it displays - to  me, it symbolizes intelligence, and also violent hatred. In my opinion, someone possessing intelligence and also an extreme sense of misanthropy can be a formidable adversary indeed.  This name has always given me that mental image, so I naturally wanted to use it as my alias.
d)  On a personal level, the alias is more of an accurate depiction of how I feel when I'm writing and playing music.  In other words, I'm not really myself anymore... that person is gone, and another one takes over.  It's a state of mind that I deeply appreciate.
e)  The fact that I don't use my real name is rather simple; I just don't think it's important that anyone knows who I am.  I don't feel a need to gain any sort of recognition from what we do.
f)  No, I don't consider myself an earthly personification of my alias. It's primarily symbolic in nature.

In my opinion, LYCANTHROPY represents so-called "traditional" black metal without any alien influences (death, doom, thrash, folk, classical music, etc.), do you agree? Isn't that a kind of self-restriction? It's hard to believe that you've never thought of making your music more various...

- It doesn't have to be restricting as long as a band keeps producing
quality music that gets better and better with each consecutive release. It's  true that our MCD is more along the lines of "traditional" black metal, but I think that our upcoming full-length is more broad in vision. I guess the reason we had more of a "traditional" sound in the past is because that is the sort of black metal that really inspired us to start the band.  Also, I think another reason we seem to be more of a "traditional" black metal band is because of the raw production that is on our MCD.  That wasn't done intentionally; we just didn't have a studio budget and were forced to record the entire thing on an 8-track.  However, we have a very good studio budget for our next album and are going to a 24-track studio, so the sound will naturally be much better.

There're a lot of BM groups in USA but you have no organizations, no
"circles" and it seems like you're all separated... Is there any truth in my words? Whom would you name as best American black metal bands (except LYCANTHROPY, of course)?

- For the most part, I'll have to agree with you when you say that the black metal groups in the U.S. are separated.  One of those reasons probably has to do with matters of actual physical distance; the United States is, quite frankly, extremely large.  To be honest, I really haven't been in contact with anyone from the U.S. black metal scene in ages.  I don't have much of an idea what is going on within our scene anymore. There are quite a few good black metal bands in the U.S. that I have had the privilege to hear.  These include DECEMBER WOLVES, ABSU, CRIMSON MOON, LORD OF DEPRESSION, and a few others.  There might be even more outstanding bands from the United States by now, but as I said, I really don't keep up with our black metal scene. I'd like to urge others to give the bands in the United States more of a chance. It seems like a lot of Europeans are rather reluctant to listen to our music with an open mind, and I think that's a shame because we have some good bands to offer.  It's really disturbing that people enjoy keeping the black metal scene in the world so separated by refusing to acknowledge a band's talent just because of their geographical location.

Your song titles appear as very interesting (and good-sounding too), so could you print a couple of lines from f.e.x. "Invocation To Luna"?

- Sure... here's a couple of lines from "Invocation to Luna"...

"Thy garments are the rotting shrouds of dead children,
 Thy ebon tresses are the dark scars that plague my heart.
 At the fall of twilight thy name can be read in the stars."

We've never really felt comfortable with having our lyrics printed, but they will be included in our next CD.

Euronymous vs. Grishnackh...

- Hmm... I can't really comment on this because I don't belong to the
Norwegian scene. I've never been in contact with Euronymous or Grishnackh, so it wouldn't exactly be fair for me to say much about the subject. I can only comment on this sort of thing from a musical perspective. Both of the aforementioned individuals have produced some excellent music.

Do you know anything about Russia? What do you think of my country's people? Have you heard any Russian metal bands?

- To be honest, I don't really know much about Russia.  I've only heard the names of some Russian metal bands, but I unfortunately haven't heard their music.  I've met some people from your country on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), but other than that, I haven't been in contact with anyone else from that area.

Thanks a lot for the interview, say something for the Grand Finale...

- Well, Kai, hails for the great interview!  These were some of the most interesting questions I've seen in quite a while.  Thanks for the support! Once again, eternal hails!


LYCANTHROPY
Email (Baalberith):
maldoror@uab.edu
 
http://www.dpo.uab.edu/~maldoror/index.htm