As a general rule, most metal sites tend to focus their black metal coverage on the Portuguese, Icelandic, Québécois, Polish, Dutch, Swiss, etc. undergrounds – the Vault included. Our loyal Vault Hunters are well aware of the love I’ve long held for Québec and Portugal, and how much I appreciate what’s been coming out of the Netherlands and Switzerland as of late.
That being said, let us not forget that we really do have one hell (pun intended? I honestly don’t know) of a black metal underground here in the good ol’ U S of A. Why doesn’t it get the same sort of attention as other scenes? Well… I have two theories. The first is a simple matter of terrain: the US is much larger geographically than any of these other countries, which means that we don’t have a localized black metal “scene.” Instead, we have many: the Pacific Northwest, the Bay Area, Brooklyn, the Appalachian scene, Chicago, Denver, Texas, etc., and each has its own characteristics. Second, and the USBM underground is seriously lacking in collectives. There’s AP and his Mystískaos crew, but that isn’t technically a USBM collective since it includes Icelandic musicians. There’s also Vrasubatlat out of PDX, but the majority of those bands are the same two dudes – R. and M. from Ash Borer.
On some level, I’m sure the two are interconnected – it’s kind of difficult to have an American equivalent of Les Lêgions Noires, for example, when the best US vampyric black metal bands are literally on opposite coasts: both Byyrth and Akasha have their lairs in the Bay Area. Northampton, Massachusetts, roughly 3100 miles east, is home to Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect, one of the preeminent bands in the USBM underground. Every release since their debut Satanic Elite demo in October 2015 (and there have been plenty of them) has been met with increasingly breathless anticipation by an ever-growing congregation of devotees, to the point where physical copies of new UVSS releases sell out almost the instant pre-sales go live.
This year has been a particularly active year for Kane, the enigmatic individual behind Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect. In 2018, he’s already released seven splits and singles under the UVSS banner, as well as readied the first release from his Crippled Father project. He’s capping the year with The Power of Unordained Light, the second UVSS full-length. Due out on December 21 from Crown and Throne, Ltd. (preorder here), the album sees Kane moving further away from the raw black metal of his first demos in favor of a harsher, nastier, and often times shit-your-pants terrifying sound. Just listen to the first twenty seconds of “In the Embrace of the Blade a New Path is Formed” – the drums ring out in short bursts as though they were fired from a semi-automatic, and a spectral synth appears, almost immediately smothered by piercing guitar and chthonic growling, the exact origins of which I’d prefer to not speculate. Even in its comparatively calmer moments – like the long, slow-building intro to “Destroy the Left Wrist” – only the foolish or the as-yet unordained would trust the respite is genuine.
We’re unleashing The Power of Unordained Light upon the world here today at the Vault, and it would be something of an understatement to say that we’re honored to be able to unveil UVSS’s latest malignant masterpiece. I also had the opportunity to chat with Kane, in what (as far as I can tell) is his first interview with an online publication. Check it out while immersing yourself in the fresh Hells of The Power of Unordained Light.
One last thing to keep in mind as you listen: no tears, please – it’s a waste of good suffering.
Indy Metal Vault: So first off, thanks for the interview. I did a bit of digging, and I’ve not been able to find any others with you online. In fact, the only interview I could find, period, was with Indonesian print ‘zine Nokturnal Subjugation from August of last year. This surprises me somewhat, since Unholy Vampyric Slaughter Sect has enjoyed some remarkable success in the USBM underground – UVSS tapes sell out so quickly that unless you’re online the minute pre-sales start, you’re likely shit out of luck. So do you have an aversion to talking about your music? Or do bloggers tend to assume that you’re a recluse who won’t do interviews and not ask?
Kane: I appreciate you taking the time to ask me questions. So thank you for the interview. I have done a few other interviews for ‘zines. I don’t usually get hit up to do too many interviews, to answer that question. As far as other people’s assumption of me, I couldn’t say. I will say that I’m picky about who I want to talk to, though.
IMV: The first UVSS demo Satanic Elite came out in October 2015 – in the three years since, you’ve released an additional 12 demos/splits/singles, two compilations, and a full-length, and you’re about to release your second full-length The Power of Unordained Light. That’s a lot of music in a relatively short span of time, and it’s all essential listening. I always wonder how prolific artists are able to maintain that level of productivity without sacrificing quality. Are you constantly writing and/or recording? How much of what you write and record eventually gets released? Do you end up throwing out a lot of half-finished ideas/failed experiments, or do you tend to keep working songs until they’re up to your standards?
K: Wow man, I really appreciate you actually checking out my work. Thank you again. My process has changed a lot over the years. It’s actually pretty intense. I don’t ever leave anything unfinished. UVSS is a strange thing for me. It started as me trying to make black metal, but I wouldn’t say that’s the type of music I make anymore. It’s more of an expression of something larger than myself. I release almost everything I record. I do sit on material, but all of it will see the light of day at one point or another. I put too much into everything I record to not put it out.
IMV: Even though you’ve only been releasing music for a few years, it already seems to me like your output can be divided into three distinct phases, which I want to ask about separately. The first includes everything that ended up on the For the Sect compilation, which essentially represents the rawest of your output. What was your process like when you first started out? Was Satanic Elite your first real attempt at DIY recording? You do sound like you get progressively more comfortable with the recording process with each release up to Desecrating the Apostle’s Skull.
K: So I’ve been making music for years. All sorts of music. Satanic Elite was for sure not my first attempt at home recording.
The first two demos were done when I didn’t really have a process yet for creating with UVSS. I had a pretty intense experience before I recorded [A] Sea ov Blood [Beneath Ebon Wings], and after that I kind of developed a process for recording. Creating this music became more spiritual and intense. I stopped putting limits on myself as far as like… I can’t do this because it’s too polished, or I can’t do this because it’s not black metal. I started just doing what it told me to do. I don’t know any other way to put it. I stopped trying to control anything other than the flow of the experience.
You can kind of hear how overwhelming it all can be on Desecrating the Apostle’s Skull. I really kind of just try and sonically personify the darkness. I know how cheesy that sounds, but it truly is what I’m doing. I don’t do anything that feels fake to me, and I don’t really give a fuck if it’s like “true black metal” or not. UVSS is truly adversarial music.
IMV: In the second, starting with 2017’s Canticle Bound in Spirit – The Faith in Vampyric Blood demo, the production got slightly less raw, and your drum sound got harsher and more mechanical. Were you using programmed drums all along, or did that start with Canticle? Did you upgrade your recording setup at all around this time?
K: I don’t want to get too into how I record my stuff because it’s really complicated. I’ve used both real and fake drums. To be honest, the production on Canticle wasn’t meant to be any less raw. That’s a strange release for me because after I made it, I absolutely fucking hated it. It was an example of me letting UVSS just flow out of me. I couldn’t listen to it until very recently, actually. Now that I reflect on it I really like it, but it doesn’t seem like I even made it. As far as how it was recorded, I will say that my recording rig did not change for that album. I did, however, take my prep and process to a new extreme on that particular piece of music.
IMV: Now you seem on the cusp of a third phase that started with “Feeble Corpse Upon A Ruined Throne (Food for the Wolf)” from Lupine Musings of a Dying Faith, your split with Obsidian Grave from this past March. It sounds like you’re leaning even more into that harsh, mechanical drum sound, to the point where much of The Power of Unordained Light almost has an industrial feel. Were you aiming for a more industrial sound on the newer material?
K: So I really love those songs. That experience was pretty intense. I had one of my guitars tuned to drop G for other reasons not concerned with UVSS. On a particular Wednesday afternoon, I started meditation and dreaming. Those phrases came to me (the titles for the songs and the split). I started playing that on guitar and then the recordings came. Later the term “unordained light” came to me in a dream as well. It’s a nod to Lucifer and his unending guidance. Without getting into my spirituality too much, I don’t view Lucifer and Satan or any of these entities as most other people do. No wings or horns or terrifying faces. They are, however, independent, and also within me and all of us. These forces (whether believed in or not) are directly influencing all of us, and are henceforth influencing all music I make. Not just UVSS.
IMV: Your lyrical themes seem relatively straightforward – vampires and Satan. However, there are still moments that manage to surprise me. For example, on the “Rejoice in the Realm of Unordained Light” single from earlier this year, there’s a point where the instruments drop out and two voices—first a female, joined shortly thereafter by a male—start chanting “Renich Tasa Uberaca Biasa Icar, Lucifer.” My curiosity got the better of me, so I looked it up and learned that it’s an enn: a sentence in an unknown demonic language meant to invoke or praise various demons. Since I take for granted that you’re actually a Satanist, are you concerned at all about what sort of energies including that chant in a song might unleash, especially since I’m guessing a lot of your audience won’t look the words up like I did?
K: My agenda with UVSS is to wake people who deserve to be awoken. That is an enn for Lucifer – an entity that I personally have never evoked or invoked. The enn is also not played for long enough to truly draw anything to you (according to most).
UVSS is about spiritual elitism. As I look back, the title Satanic Elite, while originally penned because it “sounded cool to me,” seems to hold more weight for me and my familiars now. As far as being concerned for anyone coming in contact with these beautiful and sometimes scornful entities, I am not. If your descent into madness is brought about by true enlightenment and you kill yourself or hurt yourself or whatever, then the world is that much closer to where it needs to be. I have no sympathy for the simple-minded. Should you find something deeper in my music, and rest assured it is there, and it sends you on your path…well, it’s not called “Rejoice in the Realm of Unordained Light” for nothing.
IMV: The Power of Unordained Light is a really long album by your standards – at 43 minutes, it’s close to twice as long as your previous full-length Global.Vampyric.Assault.Unit. Aside from the compilations, I don’t think any of your releases have even come close to the 30-minute mark. In addition, your songs are starting to get longer. I’m very much in favor of both of those developments – more UVSS is always a good thing. What made you decide to start stretching out like that? Is it a trend that listeners can expect you to continue?
K: I didn’t really decide to make the songs longer. It just kind of happened. I will admit, though, that I did want the first true full-length to feel like a long and detailed journey. Recording it was a very, very long process, and I put a lot of time into the little things. There are many things happening underneath the music. If you listen you can hear smacks and whispers underneath it all.
To me it felt like a descent into an abandoned place that somehow, despite the lack of people there, was still functioning, and the longer I stayed in this place, the terrible yet unavoidable truth of why it still stood and functioned became more and more clear until eventually all these things that were hidden from me were unavoidable. The truth now illuminated, although at first terrifying, was that I was just as much a part of why this place stood as the powerful forces that now kept me there. Sorry for the long explanation, but it’s truly what it felt like making this album.
IMV: Unlike a lot of one-man black metal projects, UVSS actually performs live. Since there’s no live footage on YouTube, what’s a UVSS live ritual like? Do you have a live lineup, or is it more of a ‘one dude and a computer/drum machine’ kind of thing?
K: I didn’t have a lineup before, but I do now. I don’t use a real drummer (this is a conscious decision). Other than that you’ll have to come see us to find out.
IMV: Since I’ve already mentioned how prolific you are, I’d expect you have several more releases lined up and ready to go after The Power of Unordained Light is released. Anything you can talk about yet?
K: Expect a lot more content from UVSS and Crippled Father. That’s really all I can say right now.
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?
K: Support Crown and Throne, Ltd. To all who support me for the right reasons, I will do anything for you. Thank you truly from the bottom of my heart.