So regular readers of the site have probably picked up on the fact that we tend to be pretty big black metal fans here at the Vault. One of the better black metal albums we’ve heard recently is California-based Nan Elmoth’s most recent effort, Void Serpent. In my review of it last week, I said that the record “has that same woods-in-winter feeling as many of those classic albums from the second-wave Norwegian bands” and that “if you’re a fan of traditional black metal, Nan Elmoth will make you very happy.” If that describes your tastes and you’ve not yet had a chance to hear it, then here’s a chance to rectify that. Hit play on the Bandcamp player below and check it out while reading our interview with Nan Elmoth guitarist/vocalist Deathweaver, who was cool enough to answer a few questions for us via email. There are also still copies of Void Weaver available on limited edition cassette from Pacific Threnodies.
Indy Metal Vault: So first off, congrats on the new album. The cassette version of Void Serpent just came out, but it’s been available digitally via Nan Elmoth’s Bandcamp page since February, right? What’s the response been like so far? Have you had a chance to gig much behind it yet?
Deathweaver: Void Serpent was originally slated to come out Winter Solstice of 2016, but the label who had previously promised to release us (who will remain unnamed for the purpose of this interview) basically ended up screwing us over, and made up all sorts of excuses. So I decided that in the interest of simply getting it out there, I would just do a digital release and if anyone wanted to do a physical release with their label, be open to offers. And that’s where Pacific Threnodies came in. My life has been pretty chaotic. I’ve been back and forth between the coasts playing in another band with the dude who started Carcharoth with me. Needless to say that project didn’t work out and I’m back in California with Nan Elmoth being my sole musical focus. We plan on doing a bit of touring over the course of the fall, with further details to come.
IMV: I always do a bit of research before writing interview questions so I can avoid asking questions bands have already answered a hundred times, but there’s actually not much about Nan Elmoth out there on the web. I know the band’s been around since 2008, and that you were called Carcharoth until 2014, but that’s about it. I get that sometimes black metal bands in particular like to keep a lower profile, so do you mind talking about how the band came together? Assuming the Metal Archives page is accurate, it looks like you’ve been the lone consistent member – do you consider Nan Elmoth a band, or is it more of a solo project with a rotating cast of support players?
D: The ideas for Carcharoth started in late 2008 as mainly a solo project but I didn’t really do anything with it for a while short of writing a few songs. I met Fenrir (Jacob Ripley) in 2010 or so and we did a demo with no amplified instruments. He has all the files on his harddrive so I have no idea if it will ever be made available to the public. Jacob left after the demos and I kept recording and writing with whoever could get behind a drumkit. The main focus of Carcharoth was just an outlet for my creations. When it started to become a real band with other people and goals, I changed the name to reflect that. Nan Elmoth is a band, even though I’ve been the sole member who’s stuck through it for the whole time. A huge main purpose for it’s existence is to be my creative outlet, so as long as I’m around, it’s not going anywhere. But it’s also important for me to be able to work off of the creative and magical energies of others so having likeminded people around is important, even if their relationship with the entity of Nan Elmoth isn’t a permanent one. Nothing in this existence is permanent, besides maybe death.
IMV: Generally when I think of black metal from California (though I did see you recently relocated to Baltimore), it’s either the Black Twilight Circle bands or the Bay Area post-black scene. Nan Elmoth exists in a different space than either of those scenes (for lack of a better word). I hear a lot of the classic Scandinavian influence in your sound, like Bathory, Burzum, and Gorgoroth especially, along with some early USBM like Demoncy and even Judas Iscariot. Is that the sound you’re going for, or am I hearing things that aren’t there? Did you have a particular sound in mind when you started the band?
D: For the record, I’m back in California with no plans to relocate any time soon. Too answer your question, I play and create whatever I please. Of course the Scandinavian bands are very important to me, as well as the old US bands. I’m glad you mention Demoncy because I’ve been listening to his creations since I was a teenager. That of course isn’t to say that I don’t hold a certain reverence for the stuff the Black Twilight Circle is putting out. It just isn’t really the sound I’m going for. As far as the Bay Area black metal stuff goes, the guys in Xenotaph have been friends and musical inspirations the entire time I’ve known them, as while as Zack’s previous band, Torture Chamber. Real dark satanic shit right there. All killer no filler.
IMV: I’m curious about your approach to writing lyrics and the themes you write about. Not to get overly analytical, but there seems to be a mix of Tolkien, Satanism, and a kind of dark nature worship going on in the lyrics of Void Serpent that I find absolutely fascinating. In some ways it reminds me of how Unaussprechlichen Kulten mix Satanism and the Cthulhu mythos in their lyrics, but there seems to be a more meditative aspect to yours, if that makes any sense. They seem a lot deeper than mere celebrations of darkness and evil. Can you talk a bit about what (if anything) you’re trying to convey in you lyrics?
D: Christianity’s version of Satan is kinda boring. It’s more or less a bogeyman story to scare kids into being good. LaVey’s version is even worse. It’s just an ego cult for goth kiddies. I like the evil that Sauron and Morgoth/Melkor personify because it is purely anti-human and anti-civilization. There’s a lot to explore within that mythology. I dream of the world returning to a wilderness state where humans have all perished and Sauron-worship is very in-line with that goal.
IMV: How did you end up hooking up with Pacific Threnodies for the cassette version of Void Serpent? Since it’s the label’s first release, I’m guessing that involved some kind of leap of faith on your part.
D: I’ve been close friends with the guy behind Pacific Threnodies for years. He had talked about starting a label just to put out his own work for a while, and then the shit happened with that other label. The timing was just right, you know?
IMV: I saw on Nan Elmoth’s Facebook page that you’ve been looking for members to round out your live lineup. How’s that going? Any chance you’ll be able to do some touring in the near future?
D: John’s going to be playing drums for this upcoming series of gigs we’re trying to set up, but he’s expressed maybe backing off a bit and letting someone else take on drumming duties. He’s a young guy and has a lot to focus on outside of the band, so whatever the outcome, I will back him up, no questions asked.
IMV: Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. I’ll leave the final word to you – anything you want to add?
D: Thanks for this interview. I enjoyed answering your questions. As far as Nan Elmoth goes, we plan to keep putting out better and better releases and continue to serve the Dark Lord!
Clayton T. Michaels (Senior Editor) is a mild-mannered college English teacher by day, and a craft beer drinking, black metal and grindcore loving misanthrope by night. He’s also an award-winning poet and rabid Red Sox fan. Send him your promos at [email protected] You can also find him posting pictures of black metal cassettes and beer can labels on Instagram as @ironhops.