Fans of mystical, powerful blackened death, sit your ass up and take notice – this is an album you will definitely be talking about come end-of-year-list time.
A big call indeed, but one I’m quite prepared to make with Seven! Sirens! To a Lost Archetype, the obliterating debut full-length of Germany’s Temple Koludra. Dropping on June 14th via the supreme champions of the underground at Transcending Obscurity Records it’s one of those albums that captivates you from beginning to end, sinking razor sharp claws into your attention span and holding on with a death-like grip until the very end. Incredible musicianship and inspired songwriting blends with some unusual instrumentation and a deep connection with traditional Indian spirituality to become an intensely revelatory experience, one that touches your soul… whilst still ripping your face clean off and splintering your skull to smithereens.
You may have already heard the teaser track “Grey Apparition” that was released a short while ago, but boy-oh-boy do we have a treat for you today: Indy Metal Vault is incredibly proud to present the worldwide exclusive premiere of the album’s opening salvo, “Trimūrti.” Showcasing their immense prowess in blistering fashion, it’s a complex and pulverizing beast of intense resonance… but I don’t want to say too much about it for one special reason: we are also privileged to have main composer M.W. in to tell us a few things about the album and ‘Trimūrti’ itself, and it’s one of the most in-depth interviews I’ve ever had the pleasure of taking part in.
So click play on the video below, read on and experience for yourself the mighty onslaught that is TEMPLE KOLUDRA.
Indy Metal Vault: Greetings Temple Koludra! It’s been some time since we last heard from you, as you released a great EP in 2013… and then promptly vanished for a while. Now, you’ve returned from the shadows with your stellar debut album Seven! Sirens! To A Lost Archetype. What have you been doing all these years? Did you devote all this time to working on the new album?
M.W of Temple Koludra: Namastė.
Since the release of the EP in 2013, many things have happened that have constantly delayed or even sabotaged completion. Be it interpersonal torments, private experiences, as well as computer crashes or stupid things, like having two scalded hands. There have been periods where the work was totally in shut down mode. I also traveled a lot and did some smaller musical projects. Although it was a struggle, I always had this strong vision of finishing it. Of course, the biggest delay was due to the personnel change on the vocals. From winter 2016 on, we gradually finished these. This was a serious issue and a source of big frustration. But we solved it in the end.
The essential outlines of the songs were finished in mid-2013. Due to the delays, of course, some minor changes took place and over time the compositions improved further and reached a new level. Some more subtle details were added, like synths and percussions. At least that’s the positive aspect that I see. There is truly much to discover in the material. But all in all, it was a nerve-wracking and grueling process.
The music has been mixed and mastered beginning in late March 2018. But it is being released only now because due to the schedule of our label it couldn’t happen earlier. But all in all, the whole thing definitely took me too long. Now that it’s finally done and soon to be published, there is, of course, a good feeling, like giving the finger to all the adversities we had to overcome. This is really quite a big deal for me, and I am immensely grateful to all the spirits involved, everybody who has contributed to bringing this piece of work to life.
Incidentally, seven more recorded songs and tons of additional ideas from sessions already exist. A second album, so to speak. We will get to work on this new chapter when the time is right. Last year I took a break from making music. Regarding the project, I only took care of the visual album design etc., created all the artwork, which took quite a lot of time. The result is totally stunning and visually rounds out the organic approach to the whole project. Right now we’re doing promo stuff and working on special things, preparing some merchandise and special items, like strictly limited hand-dubbed and hand-signed tapes. We’re also still looking for artists to collaborate with, especially regarding a video.
IMV: I don’t usually ask about album titles, but I have to here as this one is fascinating. Who are the “seven sirens”, and what is the lost archetype of which it refers to?
MW: The art of Temple Koludra aims at the creation of a connection, a gateway for the transition between the artificially polished modern spirit and the raw, chaotic current of the primordial creative consciousness that rests in all things and can never be fully erased – the lost archetype.
The break with habitual and learned structures and the search for authenticity and clarity characterize this path. So this album offers seven aural compositions. They are the sirens howling in different directions in reverence to the lost archetype.
IMV: The album deals heavily in themes of Indian spirituality – for example, the first track is entitled ‘Trimūrti’ which is the great triad of Hindu gods: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. This is not the most common of themes to be found within blackened death, yet it works quite well. What does Indian spirituality mean to you personally, and what inspired you to marry it with this style of music?
MW: It’s hard for me to summarize the spectrum of my motivations in a single line. Music and lyrics emerge from a hodge-podge of ideas, experiences, observations, visions, preferences, and they only deal with facets of a complex experience in a complex world. This consists of tons of different layers, and frankly, some of these things are very personal, so I’d rather keep them to myself.
The Trimūrti concept is very interesting. It’s a fundamental principle, or just say the Hindu translation of it. To understand birth, life, and death and to experience existence as a dynamic process, something which isn’t static, linear or separated, but a perpetual flow instead, including all cruelty of death and destruction, but also joy and bloom, endless ejaculation of creativity and birth. We all have to come to terms with the fact that everything we value, everything we love, will inevitably be destroyed.
For me as a European living in a capitalist society, which cannot offer anything spiritually meaningful to me, there is a spiritual need. The Vamachara or tantrik aspects from this corner of the world are a source of nourishment, so to speak, for unorthodox and undogmatic minds. There is also an interest in Tibetan Buddhism, which, as is generally known, melted with the old Tibetan shamanism bön. In some cultures, you still find this interface to the origin still intact. In Europe or western culture, as a result of its development, nearly all of this was destroyed, therefore it becomes necessary to search for the roots, for parts of this deeply human knowledge that is still alive. I traveled to Nepal and Northern India, for example, to breathe and experience shmashanas, sacrificial ceremonies, and pujas. To develop more of an understanding and dive deeper into that world is one of my main goals. Maybe you can only find consciousness or true perception within yourself in the end, but it’s important to gather experience and to get the right tools for that journey.
For sure, Seven! Sirens! To a lost Archetype has an Eastern focus, and I feel pretty connected to the East, which to me is something like a home that beckons. But despite all my tendencies to reach for the east – these are just translation fragments of an underlying devotion, one that is not geographically fixed – the shining heart of darkness.
I am very interested in the ritual use of musical instruments from different cultures. My/the world is so full of magical music. When I’m traveling a country, I usually try to buy traditional instruments as souvenirs, or I do field recordings to capture some interesting stuff, which I could then weave into my compositions. Before the first EP some years ago, for example, I took classes in Tibetan throat overtone singing. So it’s something that goes a long way back and feels totally natural for me to marry these sounds with my musical background and socialization. Especially to adapt ritual instruments, which represent or are associated with important aspects of my personal life.
IMV: Continuing from the previous question – the cover art itself appears to depict a statue of an Indian goddess. Which goddess would this be, and how does this tie in with the overarching theme of the album?
MW: There is a lot of confusion about the Mahadevi goddess. The iconic Mahadevi picture for the album cover was taken at the Maa Kāmākhyā Temple in North East India and we got the permission to use it. Maa Kāmākhyā is a form of Kālī, and in that place, they worship her menstruation cycle. It’s one of the many astonishing aspects of this colorful culture because for the ordinary Hindus the menstruation is something impure.
But consider the way the goddess appears here. In contrast to the usual Hindu goddess depictions with full breasts and a beautiful face, her characteristics are symbols of old age, death, decay, and destruction. The statue shows Chamunda, a terrifying and eerie deity. She appears as a frightening old woman, projecting fear and horror. Its intimately bonded with creation, which can only be sustained if Chamunda‘s own self-consuming energy is renewed again and again by the blood of human and animal sacrifices – a powerful metaphor for life itself, and a huge inspiration for the album. A necromantic, universal connection of all creation, bloom, death – a revelation about the miracle of the archetype.
IMV: The songs themselves are all stellar. I was a big fan of the self-titled EP, and this is a step up in every aspect. Did you approach writing for the album differently than you did for that first EP?
MW: Wow, that is nice to hear. Thank you! I feel honored!
Yes, and I am also of the opinion that it is a big step forward. The overall approach is still the same. Of course, it’s far more detailed and complex now than on the 2013 EP, with a wider range of instruments, themes, dynamics, etc. There is really a crazy amount of different layers to it. That’s just my way of writing and arranging music, to make it as interesting and magical as I can. But there is also an outer factor which I can’t really control, which is the time my creativity chooses to explode.
The first EP wasn’t sonically satisfying to me. The clinical drum sound of the final mix was a fuck-up, but it had been done under massive time pressure. In retrospect, it’s okay and I have no regrets, but my goal was to make all the instruments sound as raw and organic as possible on SSTALA, especially the drums.
IMV: Now, correct me if I’m wrong but you’ve returned not only with new music but with a new vocalist – it doesn’t quite sound like I.H. anymore. Is this true? What happened to her, is Temple Koludra now a solo project?
MW: Yes, there was a change. Priorities changed for her and at some point this step became unavoidable. That’s the reason. That was the main cause for the delay of this album – I needed to find someone who really matched the project perfectly. I tried out some other options before, but without success. Finally, with M.G. there is now a very talented and passionate musician and special human being on board. He is also very interested in exotic music and instruments. So we have a very good interaction. The album is a solo work, so to speak, with the exception of the vocal contributions of M.G., which were added later, as well as some drum contributions by P.W. (a talented musician and Black Metal veteran, who is also an important part of the collective and, of course, a very special person). At the moment, it feels like a band. The three of us do the promo stuff together and we are assessing our next steps. One of them is to finish the next album, certainly. We will talk about this further in the summer when the promotion phase is over.
IMV: In an unusual turn of events, aside from Seven! Sirens… you also have another work being released concurrently: the Tooth and Nail EP. What’s the story behind releasing an album and an EP at the same time? Are the works intended to be related at all?
MW: The Tooth and Nail EP and especially the title track didn’t really fit into the context of the album, but at the same time there is a natural, inseparable connection between the album and the EP. It was important for me to have both finished at the same time, to close this creative chapter. I want to be done with it, now!
We recently released the EP, so everyone interested in the upcoming full-length can have a little taste of it beforehand. On the other hand, it’s an exclusive advantage for the folks who are ordering the album, now directly from the band. Considering the high shipping costs today, it’s attractive for a music addict to get more with one single order. So there are benefits for everybody.
IMV: That EP is noted as having a Dissection cover as the final track. I have a couple of questions about this, as I recall possibly hearing this before – first, is this the same cover that was recorded and posted many years back, or have you re-recorded it? And second: Dissection is undoubtedly worthy of covering, but can you explain what the band means to Temple Koludra and why you chose the song “Unhallowed” in particular?
MW: Indeed, It’s the cover we had recorded and released as a test mix during the recording process four years ago. But we remixed it spontaneously at the end of last year’s album mix. Now, it sounds much better.
Dissection is one of the artistic reasons why Temple Koludra took shape, and the cover is a way to show respect to the composers. When Storm of the Light’s Bane was released, it was a total orgasm for me. I saw them on their first German Tour with Dismember in Winter ’95. It was one of the peak experiences during an important time of my musical socialization. The whole album is totally crushing and sophisticated. For me personally, it’s the ‘Ride the Lightning’ (one of my all-time faves) of the Nineties. It’s pure metal and a lot more. A strong statement, a masterpiece from the first chord to the end.
“Unhallowed” is my favorite song from this album, and no damn cover version could ever reach this level of raw perfection the original had. So it’s just a respectful tribute with some added instruments, like hammered dulcimer or longhorns. The song includes many aspects that also apply to the music of Temple Koludra, an interesting arrangement of riffs and phrases, aggression, grimness, passion, devotion, the inner fire and a serious approach to art, without compromise. Take no prisoners!
IMV: This time you’ve partnered with the mighty Transcending Obscurity Records to release the album on CD and double LP, with some glorious special edition box sets to boot. Why did you entrust them in particular with your art, and are you happy with the results of your work together thus far?
MW: The contact was established through the friendly band Jupiterian after M.G. had sent them the song ‘Trimūrti’. From there it was forwarded to Kunal of Transcending Obscurity. Kunal was enthusiastic and it all went pretty fast. Firstly, the label had a good reputation at the time when it came to treating its artists, secondly, the label being located in India was something that made the decision interesting, and thirdly, personally, I had no great interest in foot-slogging or kissing anyone’s ass to get a record deal. Kunal has built up a proper sales network and also does proper promo work. That’s why I wanted to take the chance. It is too early for an assessment yet. We are still at the very beginning of our collaboration, and we have to wait and see what the promotion and the label work etc. will accomplish. So far, I have no physical sound carrier, so I cannot say anything about that, even though the mockups look promising, of course. And I am thankful to be able to release the album in such an ambitioned manner. Hey, we have four different versions. That’s pretty awesome.
IMV: And finally, we’re premiering a new song from the album today, in the excellent “Trimūrti”! Can you tell us a little bit about it?
MW: You already mentioned the subject matter of “Trimūrti” above. So I do not want to tell you too much about it now, because everyone can make up his own interpretation by listening. The composition means a lot to me personally, and it originated seven years ago. It has taken interesting turns and significantly influenced the rest of the material. Although all the songs stand on their own and differ from each other, and although they all have surprises in store, “Trimūrti” is something very special and the perfect overture – it’s complex and quite an explosive, violent and epic celebration, giving a representative taste of what’s going on on the album. The earlier preview of ‘Grey Apparition’ e.g. is the shortest and most compact song. So I think with ‘Trimūrti’, the listener will get a more accurate picture of what Seven! Sirens! To a lost Archetype is all about.
IMV: Sincerest thanks for your time, Temple Koludra. Any final words for us all?
MW: Thank you very much for your interview and your support to spread the name Temple Koludra! To all readers, listen on maximum volume and enjoy Seven! Sirens! To a lost Archetype! AUM
Seven! Sirens! To a lost Archetype is out in full 14th June, under the banner of Transcending Obscurity Records. Pre-orders available now from the Transcending Obscurity webstore here, or from Bandcamp here.