Necros Christos|Ra Al Dee Experience
by Niklas Göransson
Mors Al Ra of Necros Christos and Ra Al Dee Experience sought the truth about Christ when he found God – ‘The One Beyond All Names’. Numerical riddles lurk in ancient Jewish scrolls, and the path along the tree of life leads to an impending funeral.
We should be very careful about the Hebrew, as I witnessed strange reversions of letters while sending documents.
German musician Mors Al Ra bids me caution while emailing me the Hebrew spelling of certain terms that came up during the course of our conversation. Before we get to that, let’s investigate the status of his most prolific band; death metal priory NECROS CHRISTOS. A third and final album has been promised, though no estimated release date has been presented as of yet.
– Only the Blessed Holy One knows, he says.
As stated, more about this later.
– We are finishing up the seventh song, so two remain. In February we will travel into the mountains of Basque country where we shall lock ourselves in a house and rehearse our asses off.
The building also contains a professional studio, so following rehearsals will be a pre-production demo.
– The real recordings will take place later in the year, or at least I hope so. Once the album is released we’ll be touring extensively, so it will be at least a few years before NECROS CHRISTOS is laid to rest.
Death, do you spend much of your life pondering it?
– Yes. Well, at least I used to. Do you know why Safed in Galilee once became a centre for Kabbalistic circles?
I do not.
– Due to close proximity to the holy graves. Meditating upon them to absorb the mystical knowledge of their inhabitants was very common – I did the same in local cemeteries back in the day, performed magical practices and dug up bones.
This, he says, is the reason for the burial ground ambience that permeates debut album “Trivne Impvrity Rites” from 2007.
– You can almost taste the mouldering earth. With “Doom of the Occult” (2011) on the other hand, we raised it to the ether with a theme of mythology and all its gods and goddesses. The final one will bring us into the beyond – laying NECROS CHRISTOS to rest among the sacred graves for others to meditate on.
Before they had even released their debut, the fellowship of the deceased Redeemer sealed an oath to create only three albums with nine metal songs. No more. Mors Al Ra explains that in his spirituality, which is rooted in Judaic mysticism, 999 represents the ‘all-consciousness’ of Yeshua Mšiha; the ‘Great Christ’.
– The triad of 999 always appeared as a mystical crown, even before I formed NECROS CHRISTOS in 2001. Another reason being that I’d rather go for three memorable full-length albums than have six or seven on the roster, of which two or three are mediocre shit.
Besides numerological death metal, Mors Al Ra also has a project called RA AL DEE EXPERIENCE, with which a mini-CD called “Diatessaron” was released by Ván Records in October 2016. It began with the intention of assembling a Persian acoustic ensemble, which resulted in the formation of RAS-E ASHK back in 2008.
– The line-up consisted of a female flute player, an Iranian gentleman on tar, me on guitar and Ben Al Dee on udu. Ben was initially a guitar student of mine, but his insane abilities with Eastern percussion immediately ensured him a place in RAS-E ASHK.
The tar is a guitar-like instrument stemming from eighteenth century Persia, and is one of the most important components of contemporary Iranian music. The primary percussion in the EXPERIENCE comes from the African udu, which is essentially a clay jug with a hole drilled in it – it produces bass sounds in a pitch that’s adjusted by manipulating airstreams with one’s hand.
– We recorded an album with this line-up but it never saw a proper release. Some of those sessions ended up as gates on “Doom of the Occult”. We also performed a select few but well-received concerts during our relatively short life-span.
Ultimately, it was only Ben Al Dee and Mors Al Ra that had the will to continue.
– Once I had composed the material for the 2009 demo we continued on our own, renaming the group after our artist surnames and went on to record and perform. I am supremely happy with the situation of being only a duo, as it makes everything easier and we both get along very well.
All six songs on “Diatessaron” were recorded live, the only overdubs are a second guitar line and some additional percussion such as small drums like the tabla. As a result – the RA AL DEE EXPERIENCE live sounds almost exactly as it does on record.
– Of course the recordings may appear more massive but the overall tone is coming straight out of our hands, not through any electric medium. That`s something I’ve always greatly admired.
Acoustic instruments, he says, basically reflect one’s own abilities – something that can often be brutally disillusioning. There are no effects to hide behind, one has to rely solely on bare hands.
My rather humble interviewee has been called a ‘master guitarist’ in previous articles on Bardo Methodology, a mention that draws firm protests.
– This is flattering and I feel deeply honoured but I`m afraid it simply doesn’t reflect the truth. There are days when I ask myself if I would be better off stopping, times when nothing works and I play like crap.
He mentions occasionally struggling with serious, self-destructive moments concerning his art and the ability to create it.
– If I remember correctly, I was mentioned among some truly outstanding musicians such as S from QRIXKUOR – then of course Nameless Void from NEGATIVE PLANE who is terrifyingly incredible. I’m not sure I deserve to be included in the same mention.
How did your infatuation with this instrument start?
– My first guitar hero was actually Mark Knopfler, with his totally unique style of playing. Others who left their mark on me were Paco de Lucia, Pat Metheny, Jimi Hendrix, Robbie Krieger, Robert Fripp, Alex Lifeson, Gary Moore, George Emanuel III (better known as Trey Azagthoth of MORBID ANGEL) … hell, the list could go on for a while.
He also mentions his NECROS CHRISTOS bandmate, The Evil Reverend N.
– Let me tell you what a great guitar player he is. For some reason he’s been overshadowed by me so far, but I`m damn sure this will change with the final album. It will see him handling more leads than I and the world will finally witness his brilliant tone.
These days, Mors Al Ra’s strongest guitar influences are musicians such as Iraqi Assyrian Munir Bashir and Lebanese-German Rabih Abou-Khalil; masters of a string instrument called the oud, used in numerous cultures across Africa and the Middle East.
– The music of RA AL DEE mostly follows classic Persian motives, with some sort of obscure extravaganza. Some of the chords could even fit into jazz. All in all, classical Persian and Indian music are probably my main inspirations – something I imagine is deeply reflected in NECROS CHRISTOS.
Besides the ethnic music, both of his bands contain traces of various progressive styles.
– Hell yeah, he agrees, I`m totally addicted to all kinds of psychedelic prog and rock music. I could spend entire nights listening to EMERSON LAKE & PALMER, ELOY, YES, CAMEL … the first three SANTANA albums, and early RUSH. Also, THE DOORS are one of my absolute favourite bands, and of course KING CRIMSON.
The term ‘psychedelic’ probably only means something to people who have experienced it, how would you describe it in layman’s terms?
– Otherworldly. It is definitely not possible to write this kind of music, at least not with any hopes of authenticity, without having experienced the other side. Lest we forget, that the same applies to real death metal; the darkness cannot be evoked by someone who has not yet been taken by it.
“Diatessaron” is the EXPERIENCE’s first release in seven years.
– Everything seems to have a deep yet destined flow. We did not intend any live break after we played Dublin in 2012, but Ben became a father shortly thereafter and so his priorities understandably changed.
Mors Al Ra is himself the father of two sons, and could relate.
– Not to forget that NECROS CHRISTOS grew in unexpected heights, and I handle everything from booking to interviews. We had to incorporate a new drummer (Iván Hernández) after “Doom of the Occult”, and then we began touring.
RA AL DEE was roused from slumber mostly thanks to Swedish-Finnish artist Timo Ketola, the eccentric esoteric and editor of one of the metal underground’s finest publications; Davthvs.
– He suggested us to the tattoo parlour he works at, Yama Tattoo in Rome – the owner was looking for something special for a celebration. I immediately loved the idea, and since Ben agreed euphorically we started rehearsing again in February 2016.
In the meantime, Ketola booked them for another date in Naples. Before they had even managed to contemplate their present state of affairs, the band had not only reunited to reiterate the past but also began to carve out a future.
– I had written plenty of material during the past years, so the songs developed quickly. Although we initially had no recording plans, we decided to go for it since we felt the tunes were just too good to go to waste. We recorded “Diatessaron” in-mid July and I received the printed CD’s in September, three days before we left for Naples.
You often wear rather adventurous clothing in NECROS CHRISTOS, but not in the EXPERIENCE – why is this?
– I wouldn`t call it adventurous, but indeed we do not look like any others. You know, when we started with live gigs we had this jacket-sunglasses-hoods thing going on, which served the old tunes well. We definitely weren`t the first, I know, but when many other bands started to appear like that we felt the need for change.
With the way “Doom of the Occult” turned out, a new presentation was unavoidable and so it came to be.
– Bands nowadays use stage props and extraordinary clothing to the extent that it has an inverted effect, at least on me. I honestly think about reducing our clothing even more, just something serious but not exaggerated. As for RA AL DEE, I see us in the tradition of a more classical, world music or oriental direction. Maybe even a jazz act, where plain clothes seem to serve our spiritual yet authentic appearances most.
Besides his music, religious studies are a huge part of Mors Al Ra’s life, which brings us back to the messianic references in the beginning of the conversation.
– I try to read and research each and every day, he says, otherwise I must consider it lost. I`m currently conducting in-depth studies of the Sefer ha-Zohar, I discovered the best English translation I ever came across, courtesy of Daniel C. Matt. I recommend the Pritzker edition in about nine volumes to anyone whose passion lies in that direction.
Believed to have been written by a rabbi in the 2nd century – the Sefer ha-Zohar are the foundational scriptures of Kabbalah, a mystical tradition with deep roots in Jewish spirituality. A massive body of text and illustrations bound in several tomes, the Zohar analyses esoteric aspects of the five books of Moses – the Torah, as well as discusses theories on theology, psychology and the origin of the universe.
– My Hebrew has gotten progressively better over the past two years, but I`m also trying to learn at least some Ivrit (Modern Hebrew, as spoken in Israel) every day. Parallel to that, I`m reading an old German translation of the complete Tanach (canonical collection of Jewish texts, on which the Old Testament is based) translated by Naftali Herz Tur-Sinai, which I would like to recommend as well.
I am no authority on the matter but I was under the impression that bloodlines and genetics were rather important in Jewish religious beliefs.
– That is indeed true… and no, I`m not a born Jew nor do I belong to any kind of organised religion. My passion for the mysticism of Judah was actually raised by my early interest in the historical Christ figure, whose ideas transcended the boundaries of traditional Judaism.
As an example he takes the concept of God – in all its complexity and omnipotence. Rather than being restricted to the Israelites, Mors Al Ra says it was of utmost importance for everyone to know His name.
– Although the Torah was handed unto Moses at Mount Sinai, it was not an exclusively Jewish thing but meant for the whole of mankind. All humanity should be made aware of the fire that the Blessed Holy One had lit among us. So when talking about Judaism, I’m primarily referring to the Kabbalist tradition.
These were not topics I had prepared for, since I found no mention of any such interest in past interviews.
– I have always found it very difficult to talk about this. Most times people just get distracted, bash shit upon me in certain forums, or in the best case simply call me nuts or an idiot.
I get the sense that between multi-orchestral composition and deciphering ancient religious texts in several different languages at once, what his metal detractors might have to say is perhaps not given paramount consideration.
– If I tell you there`s something that has always beckoned me, that I have witnessed many extraordinary and spiritual things in life; this is simply the truth. What I wholeheartedly share with the faithful of Kabbalah and Judaism is the belief in the one and only reason beyond all reasons, ubiquitous in many names.
So it would be fair to say that you ‘believe in God’?
– Yes. I dislike the term ‘God’ though, for its mere simplicity. The One Beyond All Names or The One Who Is In Silence are amongst my most preferred. But yes – semantics aside, I do. If people condemn me for that, then may it be so.
He mentions how, much to his surprise, he’s had many interesting discussions about faith and religion with people who might not immediately be perceived as theologically tolerant.
– At the last few NECROS CHRISTOS shows as well as both Italian rites with RA AL DEE, I met so many open-minded and wonderful people that it was intellectually fruitful.
While he declines to label it, he says his outlook is a complex web of concepts – a fusion of the apocalyptic and eschatological.
– The hard yet undeniable truth, he says, is that the end prepares its reign over us all. The endless flux of divine emanation is not going to be received by most mortal souls – as everyone gets what they give in the house of Malkhut, so be it in the world to come.
It was researching the historical character of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that led Mors Al Ra onto the path of Sephirot. The actual individual the legend is based on, he says, would have been called Yeshua (ישוע המשיח) and was a rebellious Jewish priest – not a carpenter.
– Going by the New Testament as well as the Nag Hammadi scriptures (the Gnostic texts discovered in Egypt, 1945), his disciples frequently referred to him not only as master, but also rabbi.
This would have been unlikely if he wasn’t ordained, and if that was the case he would have studied and learned all the relevant scripture.
– The second thing is that he definitely had a woman – all the reports corroborate this. His early group had a big female following, and notions like celibacy weren`t common amongst religious Jews.
Christianity, he explains, began as a small Jewish sect. The group was shunned by their orthodox brethren who to this day have refused to acknowledge that this was the coming of their long-awaited Messiah. Alas, as we all know – the Saviour was crucified before his movement really got going.
– He became a spiritual shepherd for many and the bigger flock he gathered, the more dangerous he became for both religious and secular authorities. Politics are inescapable, even so in ancient Galilee, and that was at least one reason for many to get rid of him.
Mors Al Ra says he does not believe that Christ was the son of God, nor that he died for humanity’s sins. If anything, he feels more inclined to agree with the Islamic view of Iŝa – which is the Arabic name for the Nazarene.
– According to the Holy Qur`an he was a prophet of the highest rank, but not the God-son. It is known that Muhammad was furious about the decrees of the councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, which raised the person of Jesus as an equal besides Allah.
Given Mors Al Ra’s apparent doctrinal knowledge of Islam, I’m curious if he’s studied any of its esoteric traditions such as Sufism.
– Yes, but not very thoroughly yet. The mysteries of the crescent moon is a fascinating realm of its own and has to be explored more deeply in years to come, definitely.
Having professed a fascination for the Christ figure, one would have to assume equal enthusiasm for his posthumous autobiography.
– Since the prophet Ha-Maschiach Yeshua plays a central role in my belief, and the Jewish Bible does not contain The New Testament or the Biblical apocrypha, I would say yes indeed.
I must confess to experiencing some difficulty in regarding The Holy Bible as authentic religious scripture – especially if one is to take the LORD’s decrees literally. Regardless if you believe that it was the work of Emperor Constantine, who was not even a Christian until his deathbed, or a council of Bishops that voted for the content – it’s still put together by mortal men hundreds of years after the events. The Torah and Koran are at least preserved verbatim.
– Here we touch upon a topic even devout religious people seem unable to comprehend. Firstly, we must remember that God himself is the true subject of every mysterious scripture – no matter the religion.
He wishes to quote the previously mentioned Daniel C. Matt:
Because most people would not be able to bear the great light that comes with knowing God, the Torah reveals divinity in secret form.
– Like our souls coming into this world will clothe themselves in vessels of flesh and bone, so has the Torah covered itself in an outer garment – one that consists of tales and parables to be conceived and deciphered by the human mind.
The essence of ancient scripture was not to clarify, he says, but to discover the mysterious. Nothing of its corpus was ever written to be easily understood, but to be slowly deciphered step by step – hidden within abstract tales and allegories.
– Each verse functions as a gateway to the divine, to supernal secrets beyond. Each verse has multiple layers of understanding. We should also consider that in Hebrew there are countless ways of forming new words with different meanings by simply changing single letters.
Mors Al Ra points to the prime mystery among theurgist Kabbalists; the seventy-two names of The Tetragrammaton YHVH (יהוה); god of the Hebrews. Hidden within the three verses of Exodus, 14:19 to 14:21 – which describe Moses’ parting of the Red Sea, each verse contains seventy-two letters which, if combined, forms an equal amount of names collectively known as the Shem ha-Mephorash.
– Take the first letter of the first verse, last letter of the second verse, and the first letter of the third verse – they form the first triad. Proceed with the second letter of the first verse, the last but one of the second verse and the second letter of the third verse. Follow that method until the seventy-two triads shine in all their mysterious glory.
Seventy-two is not only a highly significant number in Judaism, as well as its descendant doctrines Christianity and Islam; it has an almost staggering presence in other religions as well as in mathematics, science, history and astronomy. It’s the average resting heartbeat per minute for an adult, the percentage of water in the human body and exactly three full days – a triad if you will, counted in hours. The axis of the earth moves one degree every seventy-two years, which makes it an entire cycle of the precession of equinoxes. Even ancient Greek philosopher Plato mentioned it as the nuptial number of the Axis mundi; the marriage of heaven and earth.
– The Kabbalist should ask himself: Is it a mere coincidence that an epic tale like the splitting of the Red Sea actually contains wondrous mysteries about the supernal power of YHVH?
This is the question, says Mors Al Ra, if it’s hidden in there somewhere. The huge and unspeakable ineffable name of God, which if spelled correctly would grant otherworldly gifts.
– Did the rabbis of ancient times replace one or more letters, although this was strictly forbidden, just to prevent the supernal power from falling into mortal hands? And then, finally, by contemplating all those mysteries offered unto us – when we reach the utmost outer realm of our shell of thoughts, the Zohar teaches us:
Beyond, there is no question.