Inconcessus Lux Lucis
by Niklas Göransson
With an altar built from bones blessed by the forger of all blades, Inconcessus Lux Lucis is a British black metal duo that dwells in shadows cast by the rebellious radiance of rock and roll.
– Firstly, says William, it should be pretty obvious that we didn’t choose this particular name to make the band marketable on a commercial level. There were no ambitions of winning any popularity contests or appealing to the beer-swilling, cargo shorts-wearing lowest common denominator in metal. Quite the opposite in fact; it’s meant to be divisive. If you think the name is pretentious or daft, go listen to something cool instead – you’ve already proven that our choice of name was correct, you silly fucking cunts.
Having started out as WHORETHORN in 2005, the duo renamed the project INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS four years later.
– We wanted a name containing seven syllables…. not easily accomplished in English without sounding like some shitcore band, so we tried a few combinations in Latin. It seemed appropriate, with the Latin alphabet being Saturnian in origin. It was crucial that certain numerological aspects align, so first we have ’inconcessus’ which means lawless or forbidden, with eleven letters whereas ’lux lucis’ has eight – Saturn’s number – and means something like the ’light of light’, as in source of illumination which is carried; like a torch. It also seemed symbolically appropriate in that despite being a ‘dead’ language, Latin has infected almost the entire world. Meaning, anyone with even a basic grasp of a language using the Latin alphabet should be able to utter the name.
Its pronunciation has apparently been the subject of some past discourse, with just about every previous interview having brought up their phonetically adventurous moniker.
– I don’t demand perfect or consistent pronunciation – I myself am your typical annoying monolinguist Englishman – but if a music journalist is bothered to do an article on us, for fucks sake at least try; it’s just lazy. If you can say each of the three words on their own, then surely you can pronounce it well enough to convey meaning.
Upon receiving ILL’s latest studio effort, “The Crowning Quietus”, I was previously unaware of the band and had not bothered reading any descriptions. Listening to the diabolical carrying-on in the intro, I believed myself to have a decent idea of what to expect once the music started. Thus, it was with some surprise I saw my preconceptions entirely shattered by their black metal with seamlessly interwoven influences from heavy metal, MOTÖRHEAD, and even classic rock.
– Well, the unexpected is what we hope to achieve so it’s great to hear we caught you off guard! I suppose the sixteen-year-old version of me would’ve been equally surprised by what our music sounds like now. Back then, we tended to adhere to genre conventions of black metal orthodoxy, which worked at the time but eventually became restrictive and counter-intuitive. I mean, for fucks sake, black metal is meant to be the spirit of active rebellion and opposition – the mouthpiece for Death, the forbidden and dissolving forces of the other side – there’s nothing rebellious about obeying a pre-determined set of rules or aesthetics, especially when they’ve become part of a trend.
He adds that taking part of a fashion cycle is to become a follower, and mindless followers are the enemy.
– Of course, there are plenty of contemporary bands filling their lyrics with holy names and occult references…. I guess it’s another trend. Unfortunately for those kinds of bands, the individuals involved might not be prepared for the potential consequences of entering such territory with less than pure intent. Making dangerous art means willingly playing with fire, and one must be ready and eager to burn. The essence of this music is incompatible with living an ordinary, comfortable life. It requires real sacrifice, and that’s something which will undoubtedly see off any pretenders.
Unusual living is something guitarist, drummer and vocalist William knows a fair bit about. The seeds of INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS were sown back in 2003, when he was eleven years old and found himself in the same school class as the band’s other member, bass player Alexander.
– Needless to say, we were little shits and as such deemed too disruptive to sit in class together – hah! We started playing music together soon after meeting.
– Over the years, as we began playing in bands, getting into scrapes, and all the other shit young lads get up to, we became as brothers… These bonds were strengthened further still when we left home and moved in to a place together. Around this time, everyone around us was either going off to university or doing whatever other responsible shit you’re supposed to do. Instead, we said fuck it and cut out all unnecessary distractions and people and turned our sole focus to music. What ensued was five years of solitude, ritual, music, magick, drugs, fights, nocturnal living and midnight adventures.
While they describe this period as life-changing in several ways, the initial game changer was finally having a place where they could truly live and breathe their music.
– We created our own universe within, one which the outside world could not penetrate… We soon began keeping odd hours, rising long after the sun had set and sleeping as the new day dawned. This wasn’t a purposeful decision to become some sort of queer creatures of the night or anything, but simply a habit that seemed to naturally take hold. It was during these hours we were able to operate primarily on instinct and consequently were at our most creative. Still to this day, I find this to be the best time to work – a lot of our material has come about this way. Obviously, living this way for extended periods of time can have questionable effects on one’s mental health – but if this was the price then we paid it gladly.
Cohabitation was also the first time they were able to truly work in a completely collaborative fashion. Up until this point, both had been writing in isolation and would bring what they had to rehearsals.
– The 2012 “Severed from Sephiroth” EP stands as the best of what we could accomplish within a strict black metal-framework, says William. I had a very definite vision for what I wanted to achieve and I’m very proud of those songs. However, due to our lack of experience with recording and mixing, it leaves a lot to be desired production-wise. That’s why the title track also appears on our first album, since it benefits from the improved production value.
– “Severed from Sephiroth” was solely William’s vision, Alexander adds, I only contributed a few riffs. However, this dynamic completely changed for “Disintegration”, our 2014 debut. A decision on my part to return to predominantly writing on bass, an instrument I’ve always felt much more naturally adept at, made the transition much easier. Not only did this give me a fresh creative spark but also helped keep ego fits to a minimum. In the years leading up to this, we’d both been writing on guitar – an approach which would often result in one of us playing lead and the other rhythm, whereas with me on bass we’re almost able to treat both instruments as lead parts. This allowed for a much truer fifty-fifty collaboration; rather than one of us writing riffs that are mimicked by the other, we’d be constantly interweaving new ideas that complimented one another. I think you can really hear that on the first album.
– We felt that the inspiration and visions wanting to manifest through our music might be hindered by having stylistic expectations placed upon them, so we surrendered any musical preconceptions and let intuition guide our hands. Ultimately, this has been a process of learning how to relinquish control. Fast-forwarding to where we are now; it’s clear why our music has taken the form it has, and that’s because of the common thread found at the root of any adversarial and dangerous music.
Namely the devil’s own audible art – the venerated craft of rock and roll.
– Rock and roll at the fucking crossroads, it’s from this point the forbidden impulse derives. I know it’s a cliché, but a rock and roll attitude is what it’s all about – it’s inherently rebellious in the truest form of the word. I know people like to compartmentalise music into rigid genres, but fuck them and fuck their need to understand and control all that which they will never truly be part of.
He says that trying to describe the limitless with limited language is a futile task, which is why one shouldn’t get bogged down in irrelevant semantics.
– The seed of rock and roll has always been present in this world, ready for true artists of all disciplines to tap into and see how far they can push the envelope. As ostentatious as it sounds, I like to draw messy parallels between this art form and the mythological sword of Surtr – dormant from the dawn of time and elusive to the worldly, yet fated to serve the final blow to life itself. This isn’t just art to die for, but art to kill for!
William names a few examples from both past and present who could all be said to possess this spirit.
– MOTÖRHEAD, THIN LIZZY, Elvis, MERCYFUL FATE, SLAYER … then DEGIAL, whose new album is arguably the best and most timeless death metal of the last decade. BLACK SABBATH of course, IRON MAIDEN, THE DEVIL’S BLOOD, CELTIC FROST, BATHORY, MAYHEM, DISSECTION… I could go on and on, but there’s a common thread of fury and passion there – and that’s what I’m on about.
William says that it’s not really important whether the individuals behind the music consciously knew what they were doing; what’s crucial is the approach, conviction and fire they all share.
– It’s otherworldly, timeless, and much bigger than the personalities behind the music or the genres they’re supposed to be confined to. It’s about moving beyond trends, making music that outlives the interest of teenage girls drawing terrible pictures of their favourite guitar-wielding knicker-wetters, and shirking this vile ‘cult of personality’ phenomena that’s attached itself to black metal since its mainstream adoption of the internet.
More so than musical influence, they believe INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS to be guided by the same spirit which animates all genuinely fanatical and sincere artists.
– We don’t feel the need to confine our sound for the sake of making it digestible for those with a limited musical education, or simply poor taste. And on that note, I must thank you for not regurgitating the ‘black’n’roll’ term when describing the sound of ILL. It’s a fucking industry brand created to make sell-out second wave bands sound more mass-market.
– Casting off the shackles of predetermined notions concerning what ‘black metal’ is supposed to be, we began drawing inspiration from anywhere it could be found. The importance became more about the emotional response the music evoked within the listener, rather than the shape it took… This gave us so many more colours to paint with, so to speak, and set us on course to become the band we are today. Obviously, this is reflected in the entire first album but I feel the essence of this is perfectly encapsulated by the song “Witch of the Forge”.
William adds that it was during the composition of this song they realised they were on to something special in their collaboration.
– We had recently set up an altar beneath the house we’d moved in to, and were still in the process of making arrangements to obtain and consecrate all the necessary items. Around that time, we used to go on morning walks in nature after spending all night writing music. One day, just after finishing the material for that particular song, our walk saw us trespassing into a nearby deer sanctuary. We were curious to see the stags up-close.
Shortly after crossing over into the sanctuary from the park’s public area, they happened upon a deer antler placed in their path.
– As if placed there deliberately. It felt right to take it, so we did. Having decided we wanted one each, we spread out to scour the vast area for another, but had no such luck. We were about to turn back when Alexander called to me. I ran over to and was amazed by what I saw.
In an overgrown patch of grass, Alexander had spotted a metal manhole cover and decided to remove it, revealing a deep pit.
– Inside, we found around seven complete deer skeletons with the flesh fully decomposed sitting atop even more animal remains, fully composted flesh and fragments of bone. We took this as an omen; stumbling across first a lone antler and then hundreds of deer bones on the same morning that we finished a song dedicated to Tubal Cain – all the while in the process of collecting appropriate items for our altar… It was too much to be shrugged off as mere coincidence.
Tubal Cain, sole progeny of the bloodlines of Cain to survive the Biblical Flood, is a character mentioned in the Book of Genesis. As the surname implies, he’s a descendant of his somewhat more renowned namesake – the firstborn son of Adam and Eve who murdered his brother Abel and was cursed by God. Regarded as a smith and the father of alchemy, Tubal Cain is an important figure in Kabbalah, Gnosticism, freemasonry, and so forth. ‘The forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron’, to quote the Hebrew Scriptures.
– That’s why we have the antler on the altar when we play live, and also why we will continue to play that song for the foreseeable future. I believe “Witch of the Forge” to have been a gift from Tubal Cain. That day served as a turning point for how I saw the process of writing music – from then on, we realised that the music we play derives from a place far beyond this world. It’s to the point now that when we finish a demo song, we know it’s a keeper when we have no clue how we wrote it.
– The first album was a definite process of becoming, says Alexander, we worked our fingers to the bone, got into fights, and generally drove each other insane. On the other hand, the “Crux Lupus Corona” EP (2014) that followed was a stark contrast… I couldn’t honestly tell you how that material came about, who wrote what, how long it took; nothing. It happened quite effortlessly, and for me this is how all great art is created. I feel that inspiration can’t be forced, which could very well mean going for six months at a time thinking, ’I’ll never write anything worthwhile again’, but out of nowhere it strikes again. You operate through sheer instinct in these moments – you’re nothing more than a vessel to channel these things through. The composing for “Crux Lupus Corona” was a lot like that.
The aforementioned EP was also when they began working with British artist Bethany White, who created the artwork for “Crux Lupus Corona” and “The Crowning Quietus”.
– We gave her free reign, as she immediately showed an amazing ability to translate and decode William’s lyrics. The only direction given was enthusiasm about a certain piece of artwork she’d recently done, which would later be reworked and made grander to become the cover – a piece of artwork of great significance to us.
– Bethany works in a very intuitive way, William continues, with little or no guidance from us. We provide music and lyrics which she then decodes into the visual world, unveiling things hidden deep within – it’s a fascinating process that translates the unseen into the seen. At the same time, her work unveils details present within our music that I never explicitly allude to or consciously work into the lyrics. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a process of surrendering control.
The logic being that unseen forces can use their work as a more effective medium to pass into this world – unhindered by logical thought or expectation.
– The front artwork for “The Crowning Quietus” was purposefully intended to look stripped back and traditional, in opposition to the current trend of classical looking paintings commissioned or bought for black metal album covers. Look inside the album booklet though and you have an individual piece for every track, as well as an astounding illustration for the centrefold pages.
Shortly after the release of the EP, Bethany hosted an art exhibition with the cover artwork featured as a huge print.
– Afterwards, says Alexander, the tapestry took up residence on our wall and soon became a focal point for me when writing. While William was at work, I’d spend entire days staring into that image as I worked on material – much of which ended up on “The Crowning Quietus”. The image became potently charged through this process and grew to be more important than we could’ve imagined. We already had an altar for our workings, adorned with gifts of bone from Tubal Cain, but the icon upon it is a private affair so it made perfect sense to use this empowered image in its stead for public live ritual.
After the 2014 EP, the duo decided to bring INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS to the stage. Since William usually handles percussion during recording, they recruited a session drummer named Mike to fill the position. Having now played live on dozens of occasions, Alexander describes the concert experience as somewhat of a ‘love-hate situation’.
– The actual performance can have a profound effect on me, but the situations surrounding them are often nauseating. Neither myself nor William are overly social creatures, and being confined to a small space surrounded by animals seemingly far more concerned with partying, getting their dicks wet, and drinking ‘til they can’t stand up rather than any undertakings on stage can be trying at best. However, more often than not, as soon as our first note is played it all feels worth it.
He adds that blood, fire and incense are all useful tools for complementing the sonic assailment – as much for themselves as their audience.
– They’re helpful for opening the senses and getting the energy flowing, I’ve had some success with traditional meditation in this regard but far more so on stage. Working yourself into a frenzy and completely destroying your self in the act is for me a significantly more potent way of stilling your mind and allowing instinct to take over – inviting greater forces to penetrate the psyche. As with music composition, the best performances are ones I can barely recall afterwards. If the audience can grasp even a mere moment of this, then we’ve been successful.
What’s next for INCONCESSUS LUX LUCIS?
– “The Crowning Quietus” was the culmination of our entire existence thus far, I feel it’s easily our best work to date. The album encapsulates everything this band is, and for me sets the bar for all future endeavours to come. I’m sure there’ll come a time when our energies are finally spent, but for now we’re just getting started…
– We’re currently in the process of organising a 2018 European tour to support “The Crowning Quietus”, William announces. We’re going to continue writing material for our next album, there are already some demos taking form and it’s fucking malevolent! Finally, we’re participating in a conceptual four-way split with three of the most spiritually aligned and devoted Satanic acts around at the moment. They’re all bands I’ve followed for years, so it’s a huge honour to be approached for this. What I’ve heard so far of the others’ contributions is simply mind-blowing. I won’t reveal any more for now, but can assure you it’s going to be truly special.