An Interview with Averse Sefira Bassist, Wrath
Averse Sefira first darkened their way onto the black metal scene in 1996 and have since become one of the most popular black metal bands ever to come forth from the bowels of America. Twelve years later, they are one of the only black metal bands ever to perform on three continents - North America, Europe and South America - and continue to release intelligent melodic black metal while touring relentlessly and constantly experimenting with new sounds and lyrical imagery without alienating their fans.
The music of Averse Sefira combines bassist Wrath Sathariel Diabolus and guitarist/vocalist Sanguine Mapsama's black metal roots with the death metal influences that have developed and evolved within the music since the inclusion of The Carcass on drums in 2001. And, although the black metallers have only recorded four full-length albums since their 1999 debut "Homecomings March," including this year's "Advent Parallax," the songs are at once diverse and brutal without relying on black metal clichés.
Wrath, who admits his first musical interests lay in the classical - and cites DRI, Anthrax, Celtic Frost, Slayer, Sodom, Bathory and Iron Maiden as early influences - took some time to chat with Metal Underground.com about the band's latest album, touring and how illegal downloading has actually helped the band.
Pamela: "Advent Parallax" has been out for a couple of months now. How goes the promotion and how has fan response been similar or different to your previous albums?
Wrath: The promotion has been very strong and we have definitely garnered a lot of attention from this album already. The response has been good, and the album is getting some of the highest praise in our career as a band.
Pamela: You hadn't released anything since 2005. Did it take that long to write, or were there other factors involved?
Wrath: We are not speedy in the way we write. That is going to have to change since we cannot expect Candlelight to wait on us and lose momentum. Generally we write material as it comes to us and do not rush it, but then again we have not ever been on a fixed schedule until now so we did not have much impetus to do anything quickly. If anything, being signed to Candlelight will help us with our work ethic.
Pamela: Can you describe the band's usual approach to writing?
Wrath: It is a holistic method. Increasingly, we bring forth sets of ideas or sometimes even single riffs and develop songs out of them. "Advent Parallax" was mostly written with the three of us in direct collaboration from start to finish and in the end I think this is why it is our strongest effort. We finally created a proper hypersigil.
Pamela: Can you give us an example of a song from the new album and tell us how it came to fruition?
Wrath: I'd have to decline because that would imply that what our work is easily quantifiable or a point-to-point process, which it is not.
Pamela: What are some of the elements that influenced "Advent Parallax?"
Wrath: The chief influence was the artwork for the album, "A Machine for a Journey of Indeterminate Depth." This work is emblematic of Averse Sefira in more ways than I can adequately explain here. But more to the point, we are influenced by art, literature (Milton and Blake are necessary), magickal texts (Dee, Crowley, Grant, et al). Sanguine and I have been listening to more Beethoven than usual as of late. Immolation made a huge mark on us and going out on tour with them basically re-influenced us all over again.
Pamela: What are some of the themes within the album and what makes them relevant to listeners?
Wrath: "Advent Parallax" is the continual exploration of the "I"'s relationship to the cosmos while preparing to enter battle. The Work's deeper meaning is a matter of perspective and what meaning you find it in is likely "what it's about." On one level, the Work is about the Traveler - The Machine for a Journey of Indeterminate Depth - who is a biological vessel that intersects infinite crossings of time, realities and perceptions. The Machine is living/dead, dreaming/awake, piloted/unmanned as it travels/is in stasis throughout the planes. It operates on long forgotten programming and divinations gleaned from memory and dreams and ultimately endures, though it's not clear if this is its purpose. On another level, the interplay is always between the Celestial and the Terrestrial, the one becoming/devouring the other and vice versa and the consequences of transformation/rebirth.
Pamela: How is "Advent Parallax" different than your previous albums?
Wrath: The production is definitely warmer and more modern this time around, which is what we wanted. That isn't to say it is overly accessible either. I never know how to answer this question. I could say, "It's better than the last one," but that's not a fair statement. I suppose I can say that of our albums it is the one I am most proud of so far. We further codified the sound we actualized on "Tetragrammatical Astygmata" and through it we devised a potent final result.
Pamela: As a musician, are there benefits to not restricting yourself to solely emanating the key elements of a specific subgenre?
Wrath: We don't think in those terms when we write our music. We know the path without having to watch where we walk.
Pamela: As a metal listener, how open are you to other subgenres?
Wrath: In terms of metal I like black, death, and old speed metal predominantly. I am not into any "life metal" bands who preach a lot of weepy politics or egalitarianism, though. The weekenders can keep it and feel better about themselves for listening to "nice" music.
Pamela: Is there any music that Averse Sefira fans would be surprised to find out you listen to?
Wrath: People are sometimes shocked to know we are huge Misfits fans (the Danzig fronted outfit, that is), which is bizarre to me since that isn't totally far a field from metal in general. Sanguine listens to a ton of different things, though nothing conventional. He does have a talent of finding noisy and annoying bands, though. He is a big fan of Furze.
Pamela: What are the advantages of being open to a variety of music?
Wrath: Sometimes you can learn things from it. Tore Stjerna, who produced our last two albums, listens to all kinds of things including mainstream pop stuff and he often studies their techniques to get new ideas for his own productions. He has lauded many an unlikely album as great in that regard, but we just take his word for it.
Pamela: What kinds of things do you do to keep the band's sound evolving without alienating your current fans, whilst keeping it interesting and challenging to yourselves as musicians?
Wrath: We simply write what AVRS demands. We do not concern ourselves with what our fans want; they will rise to meet us. We are also not inclined to make any radical departures but instead we wish to fully explore the sound we have developed for ourselves.
Pamela: What disgruntles you about the state of black metal these days?
Wrath: The fact that the bands that sell the best are made up of members who like action figures is annoying, but not surprising. Despite all the controversy and discussion over the last decade, so few people understand the nature of black metal as an ethos or an artistic monument.
Pamela: How about metal in general?
Wrath: We need less bands and more fans.
Pamela: You played to fans - and made some new ones - at an exclusive engagement in Calgary, Alberta Canada with Watain on March 22. How did this come about?
Wrath: We were offered another opportunity to perform with Watain and an obscene amount of money, so of course we said yes.
Pamela: Do you find you get a lot of these invitations?
Wrath: We always have, but the difference now is that more serious promoters who will actually go through with the offers contact us more.
Pamela: What are the advantages of these kinds of shows?
Wrath: They preclude having to tour to reach an audience removed from the band. I will say in general that exclusive engagements, particularly ones requiring air travel, are extremely exhausting. They are abrupt and demanding in that it is harder to mentally prepare for it, unlike a tour where we establish a rhythm. Also, we don't have full access to our normal gear, so it is always unpredictable in that fashion.
Pamela: Some bands find that they have to tour more often because the state of the recording industry and illegal downloading has forced them to go on the road more and play with bands from other subgenres in order to gain new fans, as well as keep the attention of older ones. Do you find this is the case with Averse Sefira?
Wrath: Not in the least. We still hear from fans who have followed us since the beginning, and generally any new fans are people who were meant to get it from the start. We do not have to compromise or pander to reach anyone, and we will never resort to that. As for illegal downloading, I know this is heresy in some ways but the whole mp3 thing was actually a boon to us because it allowed people to find out about us before we had albums that were easy to acquire. So it does serve its purposes. I'd still rather people buy them now that they are readily available. We don't go to all the trouble with our art direction for nothing.
Pamela: You've said in previous interviews that having a more involved stage production is something you would like to see for Averse Sefira. Can you describe your stage show - how it is normally - and what you've been doing lately, if anything, to fire it up a bit?
Wrath: For now it is very stripped down. We have been openers on some tour packages and to keep our overhead low we declined to bring any stage props. This will change presently, but I will not give details. You'll see it at the show.
Pamela: After 12 years as a band, what have you learned about writing, recording, touring, and being a musician in general?
Wrath: That success comes to those with at least a modecum of talent who have a burning desire to work for it.
Pamela: What's next for the band?
Wrath: Touring, writing, flying, and killing.
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