by Niklas Göransson
French black metal antagonism; in times of dissolution, Nécropole appeals to the heroic spirit. The band’s founder and sole operator, Amertume, speaks of the atavistic currents infused in the debut album, “Solarité”.
– Solarity – hailing the sun, not just as a mere totemic symbol of power and glory but also as an inner pole encompassing both recurrence and permanence, action and stasis. While this might have no bearing on the actual music, at least at a cursory glance, I suppose many valid interpretations could be made on the glorious and solemn nature of the album’s harmonies. The songs were originally written with a live setting in mind, although some of the more complex arrangements might dispel this notion.
Do you ever get to rehearse the songs you’re working on?
– Since the live session members are all Finns, as well as entirely uninvolved in the composition process, the material was not rehearsed prior to recording, no. I do think actively rehearsing a song helps in reaching greater degrees of fluidity and, furthermore, that live recording is the most appropriate way to properly unfold energies. Solitude is obviously not the best configuration for this.
One remedy coming to mind would be the recruitment of musicians on the same side of the Baltic Sea.
– Gee, Niklas, why didn’t I think of this? You do realise that solitude is something that can be either suffered or elected? What do you reckon is the case here, context in hand? But to humour you: I would certainly rather play with French folk if but for practical reasons. Unfortunately, being entirely out of touch with the ‘scene’ – as well as relatively isolated geographically – makes this rather difficult to achieve. But seeing as how almost all of my previous encounters with French black metal people have been negative, I’m not exactly searching actively either. Do send applications though, you never know…
The cover art, made by German painter Sascha Schneider, is rather striking and very atypical for a black metal release.
– Aside from the theme and its obvious connotations, this artwork was chosen because it resonates strongly with the heroic spirit of “Solarité”. ‘It looks as the music sounds.’, as someone said – a divine hand slowly crushing the throat of the Enemy.
In the absence of previous singer Déchéance – who, much like former drummer Brume, has left NÉCROPOLE since the 2015 demo, “Ostara” – Amertume is now the resident lyricist. I’ve heard several times that the lyrics were a much-lauded aspect of the demos, so I’m wondering if he felt pressured to uphold this quality.
– While I did assume all duties after discarding the remaining dross of compromise, the only pressure forced upon myself was reaching an acceptable level of drumming. The demo lyrics were certainly interesting, in that their subtle poetry did not burden itself with concerns of meter or rhyme. This sort of free flow was not reproduced but I did reach further depths and heights in expression.
The English lyric sheet which comes with the album led me to conclude that unimpressed monotheistic musings appear to be a recurring theme, as is various aspects of European mythology.
– Indo-European mythology was one frame of reference, yes; culture, rites, history, literature and yoga are others. I have no interest in debating neither poly nor monotheism. What does concern me is the connection man entertains with the Sacred, the polarity of Cosmos and its countless correlations as well as the manifold paths one may walk to show oneself out of this present condition, and – from a more mundane angle, although cosmic analogies are many – the pre-eminence of a certain apocalyptic ilk in the current end of cycle. The translations were perhaps a rather superfluous effort but I naively thought they might be of use.
No need for anyone to sound dour, I dare say his linguistic labours were of great use to me; had I subjected Google Translate to those lyrics they’d probably have terminated my user account.
– No dourness here, merely lucidity. It’s too early to tell if my efforts were futile, but at the very least I’ll have dissipated some misconceptions – and perhaps created a few more! And worry not, I did slightly modify the incriminating sentence so your user account is safe. Not that anything was lost in translation.
No website, no social media presence, and no Bandcamp. Mikko Aspa of Northern Heritage, NÉCROPOLE’s label, mentioned that Amertume was ’sceptical’ towards all things internet, including online publications – and presumably operators thereof.
– A tool is what you make of it. While the level of mediocrity, hypocrisy and cynicism in black metal has followed suit with that of the rest of the world, the main reason for my distaste is not misplaced elitism but democracy. The internet effectively lends a voice to all those who should remain silent, collectively drowning in excremental noise whatever significance might arise. On a positive note it shows in full light the discrepancy between talk and walk, especially among those prone to outwardly celebrate integrity. As for myself, I won’t partake – neither in the attention-whoring circus nor in instant gratification for jaded lemmings. If one cannot be bothered to look, let it remain hidden.
Despite online obscurity, I noticed how the YouTube clip of “Solarité” had racked up over 19,000 views in less than three weeks – that’s not too shabby at all.
– As much as I’d like to assert the notion of gold standing out in the midst of shite, one would perhaps be somewhat more realistic in noting how people are drawn to that which is scarce. In the dearth of coherence and intransigence, I provide a bit of both. As for promotion – there have been very few reviews, one single interview, and a handful of low-key gigs so while Résilience deserves some credit in slowly building up NÉCROPOLE’s reputation, I must naturally acknowledge Northern Heritage for further exposure.
I’m not sure ‘low-key gigs’ is an entirely accurate description here, given the commotion surrounding NÉCROPOLE’s November mini-tour of Finland.
– On November 22 we played with VAPAUDENRISTI and PAGAN SKULL at a private venue in Jyväskylä. This combined with the release of “Solarité” – along with trigger warnings from concerned citizens – stirred some virtual vigilantes into writing a very long, highly amusing, but not too factual article about NÉCROPOLE, after which some small-time socialist and green politicians from Tampere expressed indignation. This led to the stepping down of one ill-informed support band for the second tour date and subsequent cancellation from the venue. Stormheit of GOATMOON managed to arrange a last-minute gig at this wooden party hall, a civil war shelter for Whites, where he alongside us and VAPAUDENRISTI also played a short acoustic set using a backline provided by the original organiser. The last show went well; credit to NEPHILIM’S HOWL for setting it up and standing their ground. All drama aside, this was a painless experience thanks to the spontaneity and involvement of these few people. Ultimately, the tally for social justice was an empty bar bereft of revenue on Friday night, a great evening with good attendance for us, and growing discontent about ‘outside interference’ among fence-sitting metalheads.
Amertume gives the impression of espousing a rather sophisticated take on black metal – from his aesthetic representation to the way he expresses himself along with choice and delivery of lyrical topics. From my admittedly rather limited interaction, I’m wondering if he’s the type who relishes the carnal aspect of metal: headbanging at concerts, getting drunk and carrying on. In my recent conversation with Gaahl I used as example a quote from MORBID’s Dr. Schitz: ‘Loud music, the beats and the heat and the alcohol and drugs… adrenaline and headbanging – the psychotic denial of death and decay and old age. To me, this is all highly atavistic, which I find to be a wonderful counterweight to the anaemic culture we find ourselves living in.’
– I barely go to gigs anymore and have reduced my alcohol intake but can fully relate to the martial, primeval fever invoked by metal music. As for sophistication, I’m not too sure about that; spiritual turmoil aside I dare say I’m a rather simple fellow. The aim, however, is always higher. I suppose what your MORBID correspondent was aiming at is an ersatz of atrophied virility. ‘Wonderful’ might be too strong a word for it though and my idea of atavism is most assuredly not that of some sweaty chimp-out in front of loud music but, yes – despite having never hung out with metalheads and listening mostly to TANGERINE DREAM – the fact remains that I’m a metalhead to a certain extent.
Never having hung out with metalheads? I struggle to understand how one can claim full comprehension of black metal without actively fraternising in the scene. Especially spending formative years in a social circle where the subject matter is taken seriously – a mentality which in combination with alcohol and adolescent adrenaline tends to facilitate the type of chaos one could argue is an integral part of the genre.
– Now you’re on about two entirely different things. ‘Hanging out with metalheads’ – that is, having metal brothers to drink and go to gigs with – I’ve never done that. Mostly because of my constant space-shifting as a teenager, along with a lack of interest in both socialising and alcohol. I was always more on the BURZUM side of things in my youth. However, ‘fraternising’ within the black metal scene is something I’ve come and gone from. Having made music for about fifteen years, dealt with distribution and underground trading for ten, and published a short-lived fanzine, I have been involved in several ways but it wasn’t long before frustration over the underground farce spoiled the whole thing for me. Although this situation has only worsened, I’m now thankfully past any odd notions of the black metal scene being any different from the society it shuns, and now contemplate the circus with a certain measure of aloof detachment.
Given Amertume‘s largely disdainful stance towards the black metal scene at large, I’m curious why he even bothers engaging with the genre to begin with. Surely, wouldn’t it be slightly more rewarding performing for people one doesn’t actively detest? I’m honestly not quite sure who the intended target group is.
– The last reason for me in doing anything is catering to any form of ‘target group’. I don’t know who listens to NÉCROPOLE but I assume they come from all walks of life; some merely interested in fast and sharp riffs, others in the glorious atmospheres and images evoked, and others solely in the vitriolic aspect of the band. This disenchantment I speak of is an obvious and not-too-original consequence of scene involvement, the realisation that most things social turn to shite. However, I don’t ‘actively detest’ black metal fans – or anyone else for that matter, never have I said such a thing. More than anything I’m indifferent, not more or less than towards the rest of the throng. There’s really no energy to disperse in aimless loathing. Currently there’s only a handful of individuals worthy of active, focused hatred and it’s certainly not a harmless group of people defined by their musical preferences.
I’m still unsure of Amertume‘s motivation for creating and performing black metal. Meaning, is it an attempt to rally listeners around some manner of ideological banner or more in line with an artistic outlet through which to conduct philosophical discourse? He’s clearly not vying for commercial success at least, that much remains clear.
– Ideologies are mere by-products of modernity, they are but artificial lines created to further break down a people. NÉCROPOLE is certainly not focused on ideology – even if I might pragmatically be inclined to be sympathetic to some more than others – but rather spirituality. Those who believe otherwise can’t be reasoned with, and their opinion carries no weight whatsoever. Playing black metal was a catharsis, an outlet to release and direct certain subterranean energies. I now channel my inspiration from higher up, inwards, all the while being perfectly conscious of the medium’s limits. When or if a dissonance appears, I’ll move on. Harmony is key.
Do you maintain an active spiritual practice?
– Perhaps not in the sense of rituals and so forth but I do infuse solemnity in the repetition of certain daily activities, use various vocal and visual motifs as mantras of sorts, and try to permeate the whole of mundane life with meaning. With all my efforts and the progressive unloading of the superfluous, I’m mostly impervious to empirical ‘results’ as my mind is still subject to the proverbial twirls of conscience. While I do believe that some eras require contemplation and others action, many bonds remain to be cut before I can braid the only one of importance.
Amertume notes that with NÉCROPOLE having become a solo venture, the scope has evolved accordingly. While it’s been prevalent in atmosphere since the demo recordings, the thematic emphasis on the heroic archetype would be the most noticeable addition.
– Once it became apparent that “Solarité” was going to be an individual undertaking, I progressively allowed my own perceptions and yearnings to flow freely. First and foremost is a thirst, the thirsting of one who’s been physically and spiritually uprooted. Cravings for sense as well as the strength to fill the apparent vacuity of Being, a need to unlearn what’s been forced upon us. As the layers unfold, esoteric introductions merge with the observation of nature’s seemingly fortuitous signs… Wyrd’s way of delivering messages, mundane interaction with the sacred and vice versa. Then comes the realisation of our ignorance, one of cosmic proportions. The more is learned, the less is known. The feeling of complete impotence can hardly be escaped, nor can sentimental notions of having been born in the wrong time and place along with a surmounting sense of dread. Needless to say, these are mere obstacles – defeatist lures into nihilism and apathy. The Hero, then and now, goes against the tide and walks the path regardless of the fruits it begets, knowing that the deeper the fall the brighter the dawn. The way and the virtue: the way is the virtue, but neither encompass the goal in itself.