Okay, we may as well get this out of the way up front: Finnish black metal outfit Curse Upon a Prayer aren’t the biggest fans of Islam. In fact, they tear up Qurans on stage. They aren’t the biggest fans of religion in general, but not a lot of people are going to get bent out of shape these days about a black metal band than has a problem with Christianity. Take an overall anti-Abrahamic stance to religion, though, and all Hell (or all Iblis, in this case) tends to break loose. So if that’s the sort of thing that’s likely to trigger you, here’s your warning – close your browser, or hit the previous page arrow up there in the left-hand corner and click on another one of our stories instead.
Okay…still with us? Good, because The Three Woes is some top shelf black fucking metal. The EP’s three tracks are ferocious and fiercely melodic, and the vocalist–the band prefers to stay anonymous, because black metal (duh)–sounds like his vocal chords were soaked in venom and his tongue is coated with the ashes of holy texts. The Three Woes is 17 minutes of straight fire, and you can listen to the whole thing right now, exclusively at the Vault. You can also read my interview with one of the members of the shadowy band while you’re soaking in the sound of blasphemy. So head over to Saturnal Records to preorder your copy of The Three Woes ahead of its June 21 release date, and then check out both the stream and our conversation below.
Indy Metal Vault: Hey, so first off, thanks for the interview. I’m really enjoying The Three Woes – in fact, my only real complaint with it is that it’s only a three-song EP. I wanted more, especially since it’s been a little over three years since your last release, Rotten Tongues. You released your first two full-lengths in fairly quick succession—a little less than 18 months apart, if I remember correctly. Was the three-year gap between the last full length and The Three Woes by design, or were you hoping to have new music out sooner?
Curse Upon a Prayer: Greetings! Surely the writing process is always constant, but this time around we made the decision not to rush too much nor worry about releasing this EP as soon as possible. But I do admit that there is a certain charm in how this particular EP dwells around the number “3”: it is the third release so far, there are three songs on it, there were only three members in the band when the writing process was finished, & as you mentioned, the three-year gap between this one & the latest full-length.
IMV: The one thing that’s always struck me about Curse Upon A Prayer’s sound is that even though you’re a Finnish band, you don’t really sound like the sorts of black metal bands I usually associate with your country: Satanic Warmaster (though Fimbulwinter does sound a bit like the style you play), Horna, Beherit, Sargeist, Behexen, Archgoat, etc. It’s no less furious or blasphemous than the music made by those other bands, but you’ve also had a melodic sense much closer to Marduk or Gorgoroth pretty much from the start. When the band formed back in 2010, were you more influenced by bands from Finland, or by the wider black metal scene as a whole?
CUaP: To be honest, I haven’t really paid attention to any of that.
Hopefully I don’t come across as arrogant, but it’s usually a very dull conversation when we start talking about other bands, how they sound, how they’ve influenced us & whatnot.
The thing that keeps me interested is the actual creating phase. At its finest, it feels like you’re not even the one creating those melodies or writing any of the lyrics. They pretty much just channel through you & at that point it doesn’t matter how much I love Let The Devil Inby Sargeist or Storm of the Light’s Baneby Dissection. And if the result sounds “Finnish” or not, then so be it.
Like Michael Jackson once said: Leave room for God to walk in the room.
IMV: The promotional materials for The Three Woes make particular note of the band’s anti-Islamic stance, which I frankly likely wouldn’t have noticed otherwise based solely on your lyrics. I can’t speak to how it is in the rest of the world, but in the US there seems to be this equivalency between being anti-Islam and being anti-Semitic, which (at the risk of provoking the ire of Antifa) I don’t quite understand. For starters, Islam (just like Christianity) isn’t an ethnicity. As such, I don’t know that I see a difference between a band tearing up a Quran on stage and Nergal of Behemoth ripping up a Bible on stage – anti-religion is anti-religion. Have you gotten any pushback about that anti-Islamism? How would you respond to anyone that would accuse you of being racist or Islamophobic for treating Islam the same way that hundreds upon hundreds of black metal bands have treated Christianity?
CUaP: Accusing us of being “racist” or whatever is just a weak move & usually done by equally weak people who don’t have a clue what the core of this band is. Sure, there have been few incidents because of our choice of themes, but we’re definitely not making any compromises when we face resistance in any shape or form, no matter how wrongly we may have been perceived. It’s only expected & explaining yourself to useless wankstains like every Antifa member is just an idiotic thing to do.
And I do think this whole comparison between Islam & Christianity is a great way to separate the wolves from the sheep, because it’s quite certain that you wouldn’t go up on stage & tear up a Quran publicly as a part of your performance if you’re not serious with your message. And we’ve done that on almost every show we’ve ever played thus far & will most certainly continue to do so. Sure you can go all Nergal & fuck around with a Bible, but what’s the actual point with it nowadays? It’s sickening that in a genre like this there are still people who want to be perceived somewhat “radical,” but at the same time they want to feel secure & have their own little safe spaces. Which of course is completely absurd. It’s a conscious decision to beat that dead horse & ignore the raging bull that is coming towards you. There is no middle ground, nor excuses.
IMV: I find Curse Upon a Prayer’s visual aesthetic very interesting. At least in promo photos, you combine corpsepaint with surgical bandages in a way that reminds me at least a little bit of a band like Silencer, but still seems unique as far as Finnish black metal goes. From talking to other black metal bands, I know that a lot of careful consideration goes into a band’s visual presentation. How did you develop your ‘look,’ for lack of a better term?
CUaP: Again, it’s something that comes very naturally & as you’ve might noticed, it continues to develop along the way. But let’s say that you might find some references to certain Quran verses among other things.
IMV: I always like to ask bands about their recording process, since that tends to vary considerably. The Three Woes sounds fantastic – clean enough that listeners can tell what each instrument is doing, but not so sterile that it lacks any sort of character. Who did you record the album with? What did your studio rigs look like? How close were they to what you use in a live setting?
CUaP: We prefer to do everything ourselves, & this time around we had proper tools for it. Luckily, some of the members in this band have professional experience when it comes to recording etc. so the recording process was fairly smooth. And to be honest, even I don’t have a clue what exactly is included in our arsenal, but we know how to use them & that’s enough!
IMV: The Three Woes is your first release for Saturnal Records after several releases with Nihil Interit Records. How did that deal come about?
CUaP: We exchanged couple of words & quite early on it became clear that this could be a very fruitful alliance. They seem to understand what we’re aiming for & thus we don’t have to make any compromises. That pretty much sealed the deal for us & we’re very glad to share this path with them.
IMV: What’s the plan after you release The Three Woes? Can fans expect a full-length any time in the near future?
CUaP: Our next full-length album INFIDEL will be out next year. And if the rape of Islam hasn’t come across viciously enough yet, then this will be the album where we kick the last remaining teeth of Allah himself.
Needless to say, this full-length will be our most radical & straightforward album thus far. The Three Woes EP is just a foreplay & the actual penetration is on the next full-length, so to say. That’s where we take the handcuffs & start crushing!
IMV: Thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions. I always like to leave the last word to the artist – anything else you want to add?
CUaP: Feel free to send your death threats on paper. That way we’d have something to wipe our asses with becausethe Quran is running out of pages as well. Thank you
Death to Allah! Hail Iblis!