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Secrets Of The Moon Guitarist AR Discusses New Album, "Black House," Music Videos, Aleister Crowley And More

We see so much evolution when it comes to black metal. From Venom to Emperor to Behemoth, it's a sub-genre which continues to evolve. While many bands themselves don't change their style too drastically, for others, it's part of growing as artists and musicians to utilise more influences and so it is with Germany's, Secrets Of The Moon. The quartet, founded twenty five years ago in the city of Osnabrück, have gone from being one of the country's best black metal bands to one of its most interesting, incorporating Gothic and progressive elements to create a sound of their own.

Now with a new album, "Black House" available worldwide. I spoke with guitarist AR about the record, the themes it presents, why there was such a big gap in between "Black House" and previous album, "Sun" and much more.

Diamond Oz: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. It's been five years since your previous album, "Sun." Why was there such a long gap in between albums?

AR: Thank you for your time and interest! It actually took us more than 2 years of constant work on that album. The first recording session started about 2 years ago, after that we took about a year working on arrangements and details in the studio. With the mixed blessing of working out of my own studio, we had the chance to revisit the songs over the time. After all, I think Black House profited from having a very thought through production. The year after we spent planning/ realizing the quite ambitious visual concept of the album.

It's a strange feeling now to share these songs after working on it for such a long time in private with the public. Suddenly they are not only ours anymore.

Oz: What makes "Black House" different from "Sun"?

AR: That's something that lies in the eye of the beholder and something that I don't want to influence too much with my point of view.

I've listened to “Sun” a few days ago for the first time in years and I became quite surprised about its intensity. It was an incredibly spontaneous album, we were all very struck by personal experiences at that time and I hear that in the songs. You can't plan an album like that, it's as if something spoke through us. “Black House”, on the contrary feels more like an architecture. We knew before what it should become. It bears more of a deeply personal message from us. If “Sun” was possessive, “Black House” is very obsessive.

Oz: You've released three videos for the album. Were they all shot in one day and what is the theme and message behind them?

AR: There are 9 music videos in total, one for each song. At the moment, all 9 are released on DVD including the Artbook edition. All videos will be eventually released online as well.

As I mentioned above, “Black House” has a very ambitious visual side. The house is a surrealistic home of us and the songs. Each song represents a different room and bears a certain totem, related to its lyrics and overall feel.

We wanted the album to be as multidimensional and as multimedia as possible, being that modern music promotion requires a lot of material from the artist. Where it's easy to fail in terms of quality or cohesiveness, we intended to create a whole mythology as well as a brand around the album.

And yes, we have shot all 9 videos in 2 long and exhausting days. Everything further is the brilliant work of Valnoir and Dehn Sora.

Oz: I really like the artwork for the album. It's reminiscent of expressionist cinema like Fritz Lang and F.W. Murnau. What influenced the art and how well do you feel it represents the album?

AR: For all musical, lyrical and visual aspects of “Black House” are parts of a hermetic whole, it was kind of obvious to us, that the cover must be an image of the place where the album happens. For me the cover image is just a mere part of the art work which talks a very strong and hopefully unique language. We had the pleasure to work with French artists Valnoir, whose art speaks in great elegance, and Dehn Sora, who can create worlds of epic nightmares. The way both artist's styles merged is incredible.

Oz: How difficult will it be to promote the album given the COVID-19 pandemic?

AR: Time will tell. The sudden lack of all possibilities to play live is a huge obstacle of course and its aftereffects will change the business forever. Yet I also have hopes, that through times of isolation people could start listening to music more intensively and that thought-through albums will become more important. To create a real relation with a record. In a way these time are made for that.

What Covid 19 really reveals, is how fragile the music world was yet before the pandemic. It was already an accepted fact, that, as a band, you could only make a living through excessive touring these days. Now touring stopped and everything falls apart. It's maybe a good thing to hit rock bottom. We realize now that there can't be a music business that only relies on live fees. I mean if there would be still a way to make profit from record sales, the situation of almost every musician around the globe wouldn't be as bleak as it is now.

Oz: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the band's formation. Was it important to have a new album out to celebrate this milestone?

AR: No that wasn't planned and we wouldn't see Black House as an anniversary album. What I find much more important than the fact that the band exists for 25 years now: The entity Secrets of the Moon still urges to go to new places, literally and figuratively. It still wants to speak through us in new tongues.

Oz: Over the years the band has changed it's sound from black metal to a more experimental approach. How has your philosophy and message evolved over time and are the likes of Crowley and Agrippa still a big influence on you?

AR: Generally I think you can't change influences like cloths. Everything that made an impact on you at some point will stay with you forever. One influence will lead to another and makes you expand your horizon. But this will never take away the significance of an earlier epiphany, quite the contrary actually.

Especially Crowley's writings always made a big impact on SOTM. The lyrics of “Heart” for an example are deeply influenced by his poetry.

Oz: Does the band have any plans in place for when the pandemic ends?

AR: Yes, we are carefully starting to plan live activities. Of course it's difficult and sometimes frustrating, knowing that these days you actually can't plan at all. We are trying to use the time right now exploring ways to translate the Black House into a live setting, what is challenging. As you might imagine, we are beyond hungry these days to hit the road again.

Oz: Thank you very much for your time and I wish you only the best with "Black House".

AR: Thank you! The “Black House” is open now. Come by for a while or stay forever.

"Black House" is available now through Lupus Lounge and can be purchased here

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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