by Niklas Göransson
Spanish death/black metal monstrosity Teitanblood prefer to operate in obscurity. In a rare cessation of silence, faceless frontman NSK explains how they found inspiration in piss-soaked scripture, in clerical madness, and from the final black void.
Introducing the new EP, “Accursed Skin”. As is their tradition, and in stark contrast to marketing guidelines, TEITANBLOOD present their most recent output only once it’s available.
– Indeed, says guitar player and vocalist NSK, we’re quite austere when it comes to statements. I don’t know what else would even makes sense to announce, besides new merch or an upcoming tour.
The EP gives a vinyl home to “Sanctified Dysecdysis”, a song previously only available on the 2012 “Woven Black Arteries” mini-CD. As for the new track, “Accursed Skin”, it is a nasty piece of work. Having now listened to them consecutively, there’s little doubt that this most recent filth was dug up from the same mound.
– Despite all the years between them, the same concepts integrate both compositions; the continuance of the vision we had when forming the band.
Starting out in 2003, TEITANBLOOD set out to draw death metal from black metal sources and vice versa.
– Our urge to create was fed by the minimalistic and obscure atmosphere of recordings such as “Satanic Blood” (VON), “Angelcunt” (ARCHGOAT), “Drawing Down the Moon” (BEHERIT) and “Joined in Darkness” (DEMONCY). On this foundation, additional albums were incorporated until everything had slithered together into the organism it is today.
Since their debut album, “Seven Chalices” from 2009, TEITANBLOOD’s music has been distributed by Norma Evangelium Diaboli. The French label is known for operating under a rather strict framework for the kind of artists they choose to work with, so I’m curious how this collaboration came to be.
– Contact was mediated by Dauthus Zine – we then met with NoEvDia to see how aligned we were in terms of standards, and took it from there. We are honoured and grateful to be part of this alliance, with them and The Ajna Offensive as benefactors.
The editor of Dauthus, Swedish-Finnish artist Timo Ketola, is closely linked to TEITANBLOOD. NSK reveals that the main inspiration for “Seven Chalices” came not only from musical lodestars, but the publication’s third issue.
– Many records give an adequate representation of what death metal is all about. I am however certain that anyone in possession of this grimoire will concur that no other work has ever caught the essence of the genre quite like Dauthus #3.
The journal is likely to leave a lasting impression without actually being read, seeing as a layer of blood and urine coats each of the approximately 200 copies. With clever commentary and exceptional interviews framed in perfect aesthetics, it’s in itself a piece of underground history on par with the iconic Slayer Mag #10.
– I can’t find the words to describe it, because it’s such a massive work that even today is difficult to process. “Seven Chalices” was conceived out of our interpretation of how Dauthus would sound on record.
How did you go about this?
– Preparing the album was quite challenging, with the new material being a lot more complex than any of our previous songs. After a long processes full of ugly memories, we were finally done with the recording in November 2007.
Declining to elaborate on disagreeable recording reminiscence, NSK mentions that the artwork then took nearly an additional year to complete – during which they mixed and mastered the album at Moontower Studios.
Responsible for this artwork was the previously mentioned Dauthus editor. It would not be beyond the realm of the reasonable to say that Ketola’s aesthetic contributions have played a significant part in the shaping of TEITANBLOOD.
– That would actually be an understatement, Timo has been as vital as if he was involved musically. During our numerous discussions – be it of paintings, movies or books; he’ll often have observations or ideas that might not even relate to music but ends up incorporated as part of a song or lyric.
NSK first met Ketola when travelling to Italy to see MORTUARY DRAPE and WATAIN in February 2004.
– This was one of my all-time favourite trips, and WATAIN’s performance was one of the fiercest I ever saw.
Back then, he was one of few Spaniards that would frequent the usual underground festivals and concerts for European heavy metal derelicts.
– It’s not as if I was a pioneer or anything. I’m aware of a lot of people from Barcelona and Madrid who in the nineties used to travel to London and Paris to see bands that weren’t stopping by Spain.
This is precisely what NSK was up to. He adds that these days, the amount of people travelling abroad has increased exponentially.
– Fifteen years ago when I started – things like low-cost airlines, Airbnb or Google Maps weren’t that popular.
Any other memorable spectacles?
– Open Hell Festival in Czech Republic, definitely. I don’t even recall what the exact year was but it seems like a long time ago now. I remember trying to find my way to Volyně, and every single fucking road-sign looked like a MASTER’S HAMMER title. Then the terrain, trains and stations… they took you twenty years back in time.
Drawing inspiration not only from underground publications, TEITANBLOOD’s one-song EP “Purging Tongues” from 2011 is conceptually based on In the Name of the Rose by Italian author Umberto Eco.
– To this day I am obsessed with this book. Not only for its enjoyable crime investigation plot and extraordinary religious corruption but also all the wonderful deliberations it revels in.
These range from clerical divisions over contradictory interpretation of scripture, to the carnal excesses that poison the soul – and of course, the Spanish Inquisition.
– The obsession with the day of wrath, conflicts of science versus faith, censorship of knowledge to protect holy truths… the list of intriguing subjects is endless.
The core of “Purging Tongues” is a passage from the book where the monastery’s blind and ancient librarian describes the coming of the Antichrist.
– To use it was already planned, as can be seen in the “Seven Chalices” sleeve, but we soon realised that this project required a dedicated release.
For the narration, studio producer and long-time friend Javi Bastard managed to arrange a favourable deal with a professional actor. NSK adds that this is another gentleman who has been invaluable to TEITANBLOOD.
– Javi is an important pillar and has helped immensely in shaping our sound . Another essential contributor is CG Santos (LIKE DRONE RAZORS THROUGH FLESH SPHERE), who brings into reality all of our ideas for the atmospheric parts.
The narrator that Bastard enlisted is actually a well-known Spanish actor, who shall remain nameless.
– He performed above and beyond our expectations. That, coupled with the visions from the text etched on the B-side of the vinyl, makes this EP my personal favourite from our body of work.
When the EP was released in December 2011, more than two and a half years had passed since the debut.
– After “Seven Chalices”, I took over the guitars full-time so it was like starting from scratch again. Our focus had narrowed – that EP was almost like a demo as we were trying to adapt to the new situation.
The following year saw “Purging Tongues” available on compact disc, in the form of mini-CD “Woven Black Arteries”. It also featured the song that is only now getting a vinyl release.
– Our intention was to prepare a new album, but we got so engrossed in the creation of “Sanctified Dysecdysis” that we decided it also needed its own space. As for our second album – “Death” (2014); we’ve deliberately kept silent about this work to let its immensity speak for itself, and that’s how it will remain.
This reverence for the Reaper, ‘death worship’ and whatnot; are you hoping for a favourable reception once you finally meet?
– Nah, special treatment would be a disappointment. Nothing deserves awe quite as much as this endless source of inspiration. In our case, it’s a simple ceremonial gesture to the most genuine, entirely certain and omnipotent of presences.
Besides a stint with Spanish war metal mongers PROCLAMATION, NSK also lent his voice to the then newly-resurrected Swedish black/death metal band OFERMOD.
– Belfagor and I got in touch around 2005, I was originally only supposed to do live vocals. That summer I went to Stockholm and we rehearsed both the “Mystérion Tés Anomias” EP as well as the new songs that came out that year.
Six months later, NSK was invited to participate on what was supposed to be OFERMOD’s debut album; “Pentagrammaton”.
– I recorded my vocals in a day and a half with basically no possibilities of rehearsing beforehand. Back in those days it was uncertainty and chaos to the maximum, and the recording deadline became extremely tight.
The band split up again shortly afterwards and despite having resumed operations, the recording remains unreleased.
– Songs and riffs were used in “Tiamtu” (OFERMOD) and a NEFANDUS album, but none of them ended up as strong as “Pentagrammaton”.
I’m going to take a stab in the dark here and guess that TEITANBLOOD is not a particularly lucrative venture compared to how much time, effort and money has gone into it. As such, I’m curious where the motivation to keep going comes from.
– The main drive is that we’re still inspired to keep doing what we do. We feel more like visionaries than artists – becoming an artist, or a musician in this case, is a consequence of committing to mould that particular vision. It’s not something you do on purpose, just like you become part of the scene regardless of if you want to or not.
Stardom obviously holds little appeal, given the duo’s renowned aversion to the spotlight.
– See, we’re obsessed with the small details. Working very closely with those who contribute, we can’t really afford time-consuming pursuits such as chasing fame and fortune. We’re fine with those who do, but it’s not our business.
TEITANBLOOD is not a live act. NSK isn’t overly impressed with claims stating that ‘real’ bands must prove themselves in concert, to validate their artistic output.
– Well fellas, go and tell that to Quorthon (BATHORY). What’s wrong with a studio recording anyway? Some releases seem to have been conceived for this very purpose, take “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas” (MAYHEM) or “A Blaze in the Northern Sky” (DARKTHRONE) for example; albums I’d never want to experience live.
He adds that it’s simply not worth the efforts and resources it would take to convey all layers present in their recordings, and an inferior arrangement would deal the source material great disrespect.
– This would also mean time lost from composing. Keep in mind that both of us have tight schedules and we rarely rehearse, so it’s better to channel time and energy into something productive.
In a recent ANGELCORPSE interview, Pete Helmkamp pointed out that while music has been with man throughout history, it’s only in recent times that we’ve been able to reproduce it through recording. The live performance, he claims, is the essence of music.
– I would agree with that if we refer to an ensemble like DEVIL DOLL, whose complexity embodied in a live experience could surely be deemed ritualistic. I find this statement double-edged though – just like the proper combination of variables can enhance the audial experience, it can also ruin it.
All things have a resonant frequency, with the classic illustration of this being that of an opera singer breaking a crystal glass. Every object is made of atoms, and the way they fit together has a unique resonance. Hitting the right note at a high-enough volume will burst the crystal, its frequency beating so violently that it can no longer contain the energy. These resonances can be found everywhere in nature, including the human body.
Do you think that’s why music and sound alone can alter our moods and feelings?
– Absolutely, I imagine all sorts of musical vibrations or noises have a direct correlation with our general perception and emotional state. The relaxation brought on by the right mantra, or the stress of an Iraqi prisoner being tortured with SLAYER, are good examples. After all, aren’t all of our thoughts electrical impulses?
That depends on how one interprets the nature of consciousness. While thoughts might be delivered to the brain by electrical impulses, their source isn’t necessarily something that can be detected by EEG equipment.
– Certainly. I don’t deny that there are currents beyond what can be scientifically measured, just like I don’t ignore kinetic elements or the power of visualisation.
Those who entertain the notions of a soul, existential cycles, or a spirit world would be unlikely to agree with the assessment of the cerebral being limited to neuron activity.
– While history plays out in somewhat ironic cycles and spirituality may be a motivational force strong enough to become a lifestyle, I’m very down to earth myself. Once your organs cease activity, I believe you become carrion for worm.
What about a ‘sixth sense’ then – something related to the Ajna chakra?
– I associate that with the reptilian brain and one’s primal instincts, which to me can tell you far more about yourself than whatever practices people are now peddling to show off their communion with higher spirits.
Yet those who have never opened their third eye wouldn’t even know it’s there. For instance, referencing a commonly accepted sense – a fragrance malfunction in one’s nasal cavity does not invalidate observations of flatulence.
– I agree, but I have never developed a regular enough yogic practice to give you a more elaborate opinion. I’m far more familiar with the Qigong concepts of the dantians, or energy centres, which can grant you amazing body-awareness.
As can be gleaned from our conversation – or rather my vexatious inquiries, NSK is not a huge fan of mindful metal.
– In most cases and based on what I’ve experienced, those who spew the most incoherent arguments dressed up as ‘illumination’ are really not seeking gnosis so much as comfort in their own pseudo-intellectual shit.
Considering how many alleged devotees of pitiless violence and global murder we see in the scene, there’s really not all that many one could envision inflicting much more harm than the occasional drunken scuffle with other metalheads.
– The vast majority live in an illusion, believing the stories they tell themselves – in this case when it comes to handling violence.
One could speculate how many of them would have the psyche to carry out everyday duties required from the average employee of an entrepreneurial South American contraband operation.
– I suppose that Hollywood and the internet are the main reasons people like to fantasise about mayhem and crime, but experience is no substitute for anything.
There seems to be an unspoken general consensus that the overwhelming majority of black metal musicians are pretenders; in the sense that most don’t really embody the satanic, occult, chaos-gnostic or whatever image their bands espouse.
– To be honest, I have yet to see any form of subcultural collective that is a hundred percent genuine.
While authenticity is supposedly a vital factor, it’s debatable if the scene would actually benefit from a cessation of pretence and having everyone declare their true spiritual beliefs – or lack thereof.
– That would make things too easy. There’s a certain reward in the struggle of filtering out what’s fake or irrelevant, it’s necessary in order to understand the real value of integrity.
While the new wave of black metal likely to appear in such a speculative scenario would be an interesting experiment, it’s questionable if it would hold much lasting appeal. Theological concepts pertaining to ‘as long as I get drunk on the weekend, all is well’ or ‘haven’t really thought much about it, but I suppose I’m an atheist’, sound thoroughly insipid.
– There are things that just need to be left alone in their decadent dynamics, to ensure that you’re not distracted by them.
For once, it would remove everything extreme about the genre – besides the intoxicant debauchery we primarily socialise with.
– Ah, when people tell you all about their seething misanthropy… while drinking with you at a concert or a festival, eh? Anyway, it’s obvious how deep this runs but I must say there are more important matters competing for my attention. Just pure honesty here, not trying to be arrogant.
So what’s TEITANBLOOD’s move from here, focussing on your next album?
– Affirmative. There’s already some groundwork done, we have a general idea of the length, concept and artwork. Note that we never actually stop working but as I stated earlier – what could possibly be the point of reporting every step of the way?