by Niklas Göransson
Wolves of Thelema: Caronte is a heavy acid doom metal band from Italy. Founder and frontman Dorian Bones discusses the importance of having lived and breathed what one sings about – be it drug-fuelled violence or metaphysical exploration.
– I was trying to channel certain vibes infused in the various magickal works we pursue. We felt called by something very distant and, as we started working, the atmospheres became way darker and our lyrics steered into this channelling of distant energies and alternate dimensions – all tied together by personal experiences over the past two years. It was impressive for everyone because, for the first time, the results were exactly like what we’d visualised all along. Although we worked meticulously on every single part of the songs, our compositions took shape with eerie spontaneity; it was as if we were being guided by something greater than ourselves. For this reason, I consider “Wolves of Thelema” to be a full-fledged work of magick.
“Wolves of Thelema” is the fourth full-length album by Parma-based CARONTE; it was released by Ván Records in December 2019. I rarely appreciate this type of theatrical approach to clean vocals – it often ends up cringeworthy, like watching a poor acting performance – but these are delivered with such conviction that they’re rather immersive instead. There is some mighty fine Danzig channelling at times.
– That makes me smile. In the beginning, I often argued with Henry (bass) while we were composing; he used to tell me to not be so melodramatic. Every time, I tried to explain to him that my voice has been forged from a variety of influences, such as works of occultists like Aleister Crowley and shamanic chants from the Altai Mountains, so it’s naturally theatrical. I wanted the effect of the music, lyrics, and vocalisation to carry the listener into some sort of psychedelic trip, with visions à la William Blake. We focused a lot on frequencies whilst recording our early material, hoping to create some sort of multi-layered sensory input for the listener: one conscious layer, and the other bound to the unconscious. Then, when our first reviews came out and many of them mentioned Danzig – one of our favourite artists, as well as one of the most listened to by all of us – everyone became convinced that this was the way. As for myself, I felt deeply flattered. Many people ask me if these constant voice comparisons weighs on me… on the contrary, hearing him mentioned to describe my vocals has always been the greatest honour.
Beside the recent addition of guitarist Asher, CARONTE’s line-up has remained unchanged since their formation in 2011. This is a rare occurrence – especially for bands that tour actively.
– One thing I’m really proud of is the fact that I’ve never changed a single member of my band. When we started out with CARONTE, we’d already been great friends for ten years and, for this reason, we consider ourselves true brothers. We come from a small city; we’ve always lived here, and all of us saw the others grow up. We wanted to form a band that could celebrate our indivisible family forever and ever, and to do so we also resorted to magick. We swore to put our deepest thoughts, our lives, and our ways of being into theses songs. Year after year, this bond makes us ever stronger. CARONTE is like a wolfpack – we may have our own internal rules and arguments, but we’re always together. And if one of us is attacked, I guarantee that you’ll see the others rise to defend him. We will never change, and this is the true strength of CARONTE. We often wonder how some people can forget that friendship, brotherhood, and mutual respect are the foremost concepts which create the true strength and credibility of a band.
Didn’t it feel weird to bring in an outsider after all this time?
– Of course, it was hard for us to introduce a new member, but with “Wolves of Thelema” came the realisation that we needed to enhance our sound to better convey certain atmospheres. Asher had played with me for years in WHISKEY RITUAL, and also covered for Tony on guitar for a couple of shows. We got along with him, he’s a very well-tempered person; total Zen, I’d say. Luckily, adding him to the band didn’t undermine our balance. Also, the fact that he agreed to enter our magickal pact convinced us of his eternal loyalty. Now, Asher is also a brother.
During my research, I came across another new acquaintance – the aforementioned WHISKEY RITUAL. I read the lyrics for their 2019 “Black Metal Ultras” album, which would appear to explore concepts of more earthly nature. The ‘never stop the madness’ spirit is strong in this project.
– Just like CARONTE, WHISKEY RITUAL is based on my personal history – but in a totally different way. The small city we grew up in is one of those places where everyone knows each other and where, by contrast to the petty bourgeois mentality, many often find themselves in situations of hardship. I’ve always been on the streets, hanging out with various sordid company. Although I’ve listened to metal ever since I was a kid and knew all the local metalheads, I was also around a lot of junkies and people who’d go to raves and underground parties. Even though I’ve studied works of occultism and magick since I was a teen, my life was adrift; I lived the night, roaming from place to place and finding myself in all sorts of strange situations. When I founded WHISKEY RITUAL, I wanted to describe a world I’d seen and experienced first-hand – my darkest side, the one tied to matter. It was also a good way to unload and say anything I wanted, unfiltered. In turn, I started CARONTE after deciding to do something completely different. I wanted to talk about the other secret side of my life: my studies and research.
Dorian says that whereas WHISKEY RITUAL is a manifestation of mankind’s primal and base aspects, CARONTE represents higher states of consciousness. However, they are complimentary and, to a certain extent, dependent on each other.
– It’s easy to think that a street person can’t be a scholar or interested in spiritual paths, but this is far from true. I’ve known many junkies who, despite living in dire straits, had really interesting worldviews and a subtle intellect à la Burroughs. I also met bands who built a façade around themselves and pretended to be experts in occultism, but then they proved to lack even the fundamentals; they had big knowledge gaps, made mistakes in their lyrics, and so on. Many members of the most ancient esoteric and occult circles are notaries, medics, aircraft pilots and such – they’re not the types normal people would think. In short, you can’t judge a book by its cover. There are no standards or clichés, because what’s important here is credibility. That is, to be intimately familiar with and have lived whatever it is you’re singing about. Only in this way can you truly reach the hearts of others. I quote Crowley: ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.’
Could you explain, in a somewhat pragmatic sense, what you mean when referring to your ‘magickal works’?
– Well, here we must make a distinction. To me, magick means using items and my own Will to shape reality. A mix of technique, tools, and tradition that creates true battle gear, allowing you to achieve your goals. The philosophy of Thelema, on the other hand, is based on certain fundamental concepts; one could follow it even without practising magick. Thelema is a philosophy oriented towards self-improvement and constant evolution, so that we can become the best possible version of ourselves. Not through dogma or religion, but rather freedom and its exaltation coupled with knowledge and ecstasy. All this under the rule of Will, through a path that allows for us to control our most base instincts. The ideas described in the Book of the Law, as revealed to Crowley in Cairo back in 1904, are concepts that I’m still actively studying. Behind magick, meditations, visualisations, and so on stands an underlying philosophy based on love, knowledge, and discipline – one that can be practised in everyday life.
I read that you organised a Gnostic Mass in Parma, was this in the context of the Ordo Templi Orientis?
– Indeed. A few years ago, when I managed a club called Titty Twister, I was contacted by the OTO; they wanted to perform their first public Gnostic Mass. It was very intense and carefully organised and many people from Parma and nearby cities took part. An amusing moment was when the bishop of our city called the owner of the building, telling him he had to stop us because, as rumour had it, we were performing black masses. The reason the OTO contacted me was that I’d founded a study circle focused on occultism and esotericism, through which I hosted some of the most important Italian authors, essayists, and writers in the field – people with whom I was already in touch, thanks to my personal practice. This group is still active, and through it we promote conventions, lectures, and courses dealing with themes such as tantra, Thelema, shamanism, spiritism, studies on Egyptian culture, and many other interesting topics.
I also learned that Dorian ‘s spiritual outlook is owed to none other than his own mother. I’m thinking this must’ve made for a rather different upbringing – especially in Italy.
– My mother is surely the most important person in my life, I owe her everything. Ever since I was a child, she heard voices and saw presences and always told me about them. For this reason, I’ve always been naturally attracted to the occult world. At thirteen, I used to read various books on the paranormal that I found at home and then casually talk to her about them. Developing this kind of skill – being able to speak freely about dreams, the dead, and visions – made the contact with these worlds and entities something completely normal. She’s proud of what I do, I often invite her to my conferences.
It’s not only by playing music and his various esoteric activities Dorian contributes to the dark side of Parman society, but also by facilitating all manner of subversive concerts. Until 2018, when he became an independent promoter, Dorian managed the aforementioned establishment, Titty Twister, for four years.
– This club still remains in the memories of many people, especially those from the ‘extreme’ world. Thinking about those days always makes me smile. It was a blast, a truly free club where everyone felt welcome. And there was always a great atmosphere. Today, I have two agencies; one through which I organise more ‘popular’ shows with bands such as SKID ROW, ALCEST, RIVAL SONS, and so on, but also other events such as the tattoo convention in my city. Through my other agency, which mostly deals with extreme music, I promote shows I personally want to see. During the last few years, I’ve had the honour of hosting concerts with BLASPHEMY, TORMENTOR, REVENGE, PROFANATICA, ONE TAIL ONE HEAD, MGŁA… in other words, bands I love and deeply prize.
Timo Ketola, Bardo Methodology’s resident artist, was absolutely ecstatic after PROFANATICA’s 2017 gig in Parma. The band’s frontman, Paul Ledney, refers to it as the best show he ever participated in.
– Without a doubt, this was one of the most amazing concerts in terms of energy and thrill. PROFANATICA performed incredibly well and the crowd was out of control – everything was perfect, as if we actually were in Hell. What they told me about the concert afterwards really honoured me, I deeply respect them. A fun fact from last year: I also organised one of their concerts in Bologna with Lo-Fi Creatures, when they were on tour with our friends in DEMONOMANCY. When I brought some water to the backstage before their show, I asked to take a picture with them. They looked at each other and said: ‘We never take photos with people in our stage clothes, but you are the fucking promoter of our Parma concert…’ We are the real rock’n’roll underground!