2018 has been something of a difficult year, both for myself and for a lot of the people with whom I’m close. Frankly, I don’t know many folks who will be sad to see the back of it. However, 2018 has also been another outstanding year for metal in general, and for the black stuff in particular. As the year reels and lurches towards its demise, I realize that I’ve come to a pair of conclusions about the state of black metal in 2018:
– First, the Finnish underground is almost singlehandedly keeping the spirit of the Scandinavian second wave alive. They’re also doing a hell of a job proving that there’s still a lot of creative vitality left in that style of black metal, even after 25+ years.
– Second, you do not want to sleep on Finland’s Saturnal Records. Not all of the bands on their roster are Finnish – All My Sins and Burial Shrine, both of whom we’ve covered here at the Vault, hail from Serbia and Canada respectively – but everything they’ve released this year has been flat out fucking incredible: Djevelkult, Curse Upon A Prayer, the aforementioned All My Sins and Burial Shrine, Rodent Epoch, Funerary Bell, Vuohi…
Add one more to that list: Sacrificium Carmen, whose sophomore full-length Hermetica will be out on November 16 (preorder here). The Tampere-based quintet’s sound fits perfectly within the impeccable Finnish tradition of bands like Behexen, Horna, and Sargeist. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that means you’ve already heard what these five kvltists bring to the ebon-draped altar a hundred times before. There’s a difference between being influenced by a certain sound and merely imitating it, which should be clear by the time opening track “Alttaritaulut” transitions from it’s slow, moody intro into the verse riff. If you’re not that patient, skip ahead to track three, “Mysteerion nietoksilla” – if the little Iron Maiden twin guitar flourish on that riff doesn’t convince you that Sacrificium Carmen is the shit, then I don’t even…
We have the pleasure of streaming Hermetica in its entirety here today at the Vault. I also had the chance to talk with three of the members of the band: vocalist Hoath Cambion, and guitarists Profostus and Advorsvs. Check it out while you listen to Hermetica below.
Indy Metal Vault: So first off, thanks for the interview. In looking back over the interviews I’ve done this year, I see a surprising number of Finnish bands – considerably more than any from any other country in Europe. There’s no question that the Finnish black metal underground is incredibly strong, and the black flame of the Scandinavian second wave still seems to burn particularly bright among the Finnish bands. Do you have any thoughts as to why that may be? What makes Finland such fertile ground for black metal?
Hoath Cambion: Well, I don’t know why metal music in general is so big a thing here in Finland. But when it comes to black metal, I think that the Finnish dark and melancholic mindscape has an effect on choosing that path. Maybe we use aggressive art like metal music as a resource to make it through this huge period of polar night that darkens our minds to specific levels. I’m not saying that black metal is bounded by geography, but I don’t see how one can write black metal in the heat of Florida, for example.
IMV: I’ve spent a lot of time with Hermetica over the last few weeks, and it absolutely fucking rips. However, I’m struggling a bit to find the right word to describe why – the first one that comes to mind is ‘fun,’ but it doesn’t seem right to call Satanic black metal ‘fun.’ Even so, there’s something about your consistently up-tempo/borderline thrashy, often times melodic approach to black metal that’s totally infectious. The riffs in songs like “Mysteerion nietoksilla” and “Valheennäkijä, kuoleva mestari” are entirely too energetic to be called ‘grim.’ So I’m curious – how would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard the band?
Profostus: We try to make our music sound like us. Of course, you can hear lots of the different elements that we adore in Black Metal music in our songs. It surprises me when people say they hear lots of thrash metal things in our songs, because personally I don’t listen to thrash metal at all. The important thing for me is that the music we create has to have power, melody and rhythms that run through the listener.
IMV: While I’ve not heard your entire back catalog—I’ve only been able to track down one song from Sanansaattaja online—it seems like Sacrificium Carmen’s sound was pretty well formed from that first demo. All that’s really changed is the production has gotten progressively better with each release. Assuming Metal Archives is correct, though, you formed in 2009 and didn’t release that demo until 2013. However, if I’m not mistaken, you didn’t expand to a full lineup until 2012. How long did it take you to figure out your sound after forming the band? Did you know what you wanted to do from the start, or did that sound not really crystallize until you expanded the lineup?
HC: I see that we formed in 2009 with the band name and everything, but our first song for the demo was done back in 2008. As a matter of fact, the band and our sound was born when Advorsvs showed me the main riff of ”Korpin jäljissä.” So we knew that our sound should be in the way of traditional Finnish black metal, but it started to evolve and grow little by little after Profostus joined the band in 2012 and started to compose our music too.
IMV: I like to do my research before I write interview questions, just so I avoid asking bands the same questions they’ve been asked a hundred times before. However, since I’ve only been able to find one interview with Sacrificium Carmen, and it was in Finnish and from 2014, I’ll actually ask some of the more usual questions here. I’ll admit that I never looked up the word ‘Carmen’ before now, so I had no idea that it’s a type of spell or prayer, meant either to appease a god in order to avoid divide retribution, or spoken as a curse. Given the band’s occult themes, I’m guessing you’re using it in the sense of a curse, but since your lyrics aren’t in English I can’t be sure. What does the name Sacrificium Carmen mean to you? What were you hoping listeners would get from it when you decided on it as the name of the band?
Advorsvs & HC: The name of the band is meant to be multidimensional and ambiguous, so we will not to give an exact answer for that. At first, our vision was like a sacrificial hymn to be sung for the ones who will be thrown or would cast themselves into the cleansing fire of witchery. It is also our incantation of sacrifice (For Satan) on personal level. That vision has been growing within us for all these years, so the name is a part of us in general.
IMV: As I mentioned earlier, I’ve interviewed quite a few Finnish bands this year, including Archgoat. Since you’re a Satanic band, I want to ask you the same question I asked Ritual Butcherer: it’s rare to find two bands with the same approach to the topic of Satanism – some are theistic Satanists, others are LaVeyans, some combine it with Gnosticism, others with Lovecraft, etc. Not to get too philosophical here, but what does Satan mean to you? If someone wanted a better understanding of your beliefs, are there any books you’d recommend reading? Do you believe that a band has to be Satanic in order to be black metal?
HC: Satan represents an archetype of the whole of cosmos to me. It’s an architect of all dark matter and everything that even the human mind cannot understand. I see Lucifer as a bringer of knowledge and human consciousness. I see The Devil as an adversarial force to all false dogmas and their herding beliefs. I worship that trinity equally so it makes me like a theistic Satanist or Luciferianist, even though I don’t want to be compartmented to any specific way. I have my own path and my own Satanic doctrine that I use in everyday life. If I recommended a book that made an impact on me, it would be Argarizim: The Fall of Lucifer by Johannes Nefastos. And of course there can’t be black metal without Satan. If one even needs to speculate, then black metal surely isn’t for him.
IMV: I want to ask a few more specific questions about Hermetica. It’s been almost three years exactly since your last full-length, Ikuisen tulen kammiossa. Most of Sacrificium Carmen’s members also play in other bands – how much of those three years were actually spent working on Hermetica? Since most of you are involved in other projects, what’s your songwriting process like? Does one person write most of the riffs, or do you write collaboratively? Do you spend much time jamming songs out in the rehearsal room, or do you do more file sharing?
P: We are always trying to evolve our songwriting process. On Hermetica, I wrote the majority of the songs, but there was also lots of stuff done by Advorsvs as well. Usually when I write songs, I do them completely and send the material to other members through Dropbox. We don’t usually have the time to jam in our rehearsal place and make the songs there, because of all the other projects and our personal lives. Some of the material on Hermetica actually dates back to the Ikuisen tulen kammiossa album, but it didn’t fit in the current material back then.
IMV: I haven’t had a chance to see the lyrics for Hermetica – how similar are they thematically to the lyrics on Ikuisen tulen kammiossa? Is there any sort of concept running through them this time?
HC: My lyrics vary between my personal life and fictive stories. I see these stories like short films in my mind and I paint those by my words. My style is to give room for interpretation to the reader with phrases and metaphors. Probably the only similarity between these two albums is my interest in the Occult and Satanic themes. Maybe the concept of Hermetica is to understand the power of personal ritual towards the Lord and killing your false ego.
IMV: I mentioned earlier that the production on your albums has gotten progressively better with each release. Hermetica sounds particularly fantastic. Since I haven’t seen production credits anywhere, where did you record the album?
A: The main reason for the progression of our sound on the releases is that we’ve been trying, learning, and adding new things and angles into the recording, which we usually do at our rehearsal place and then have mixed/mastered by acquaintances. It’s also good practice and use of handy things for our other band projects and recording activity.
IMV: The cover art for Hermetica basically complements the music perfectly – it’s hermetic and very mysterious. Did Ritual do the art like on Ikuisen tulen kammiossa, or did you work with someone else this time? Regardless of who did it, how closely did you work with the artist on the concept for the cover?
HC: This time we used the excellent skills of R. Ärling (Lie in Ruins, Perdition Winds, Curse Eternal). We sat down and I told him my vision for the artwork and album theme, and also sent him the lyrics for the album. I gave him the artistic freedom to do it his way, since I trust Ärling’s professional skills. All in all, everything went smoothly and the final result is perfect for me. The same artist made the artwork for our 3-way split Trinity of Luciferian Illumination, too.
IMV: Thanks again for being willing to answer a few questions. I like to leave the final word to the artists – anything else you want to add?
HC: Thank you for your interest. Follow the Truth and kill thy ego!