The Ruins of Beverast

The Ruins of Beverast

by Niklas Göransson

Alexander Meilenwald, sole ruler over The Ruins of Beverast, is shedding the withered husk of transformation – Exuvia is his litanies of loathing for a species about to be stripped of creation’s crown.

This article can also be found in Bardo Archivology Vol. 2, a printed anthology with selected features from the online archive. Additional content includes NÅSTROND, VOMITOR, NOCTURNUS, XIBALBA ITZAES , Ryan Förster, ANGELCORPSE, ASCENSION, MALOKARPATAN, Manhunter: The Story of the Swedish Occultist and Serial Killer Thurneman, WARDRUNA, FORGOTTEN WOODS, LIFVSLEDA, SEIGNEUR VOLAND, and WOLCENSMEN – all presented in ambitious aesthetics with plenty of custom artwork. More information here.


“Exuvia” is intensely personal and serves as a form of therapy for me. This has only happened once before and that was with the debut, “Unlock the Shrine”, back in 2004. I desperately needed to make this album, no doubt… the title signifies a desired and, upon finishing the project, possibly attained achievement: the shedding of dead and foul skin. The three years it took to write the material brought quite a few drastic changes to everyday reality, all of which permanently altered my personal life. This phase demanded a great deal from me, so it’s only appropriate to regard the album title in a metaphorical sense – as my higher intention during the creative process and then, once it was behind me, as an outcome. Rather than linear sequences of riffs structured into songs, “Exuvia” is a carnival of moods and spheres and also features frequent intrusions of unfamiliar native percussion harassment.

“Exuvia”, the fifth album of one-man powerhouse THE RUINS OF BEVERAST, was released by Ván Records in May 2017. It was conceived in two different professional studios, whereas all past efforts were recorded in Meilenwald’s rehearsal room. Production, engineering, and mixing was handled by live guitarist Michael Zech, also known from SECRETS OF THE MOON.

– The recording was divided into two sessions. Rhythm guitars, drums, and bass were tracked in Bavaria, completely sober – whereas the one in Berlin, where I recorded vocals and various sound experiments, deteriorated into a… well, physical and mental debauchery, quite frankly. Sleazy, if I may say so.

Do you force yourself into a certain headspace before singing, or can you howl away regardless?

– The studio situation is, as I’m sure you know, a fairly uninspiring milieu per se. One’s attention and focus is drawn to the wrong things or, let’s say, in directions beyond emotions and psychic affairs. You must assume control instead of letting yourself go – which might be okay for THE RUINS OF BEVERAST’s basic instrumentation, but not the vocals.

Meilenwald wanted to remove himself from the typical studio experience. First and foremost, this entailed working with the right people.

– Not some contracted music producer toiling away at an everyday job, only because he’s been paid to do so, but a musician from the line-up and total insider concerning all things THE RUINS OF BEVERAST. This changes a lot – not only music-wise but also in terms of communication and recording behaviour. Another thing is that I drink a lot before recording vocals. The voice is the band’s unearthly, inhumane, and threatening element; the music experience is enormously intense for me when receiving it intoxicated, and I find it essential to harness this energy in my work. Furthermore, I really enjoy the feeling of next-day listening without detailed memories of performing the vocals.

From what I could determine, the EP leading up to the album, “Takitum Tootem! (Wardance)”, drew a somewhat mixed response from the fan base.

– Yeah, well, it was obviously not going to be hailed in unison – none of my releases ever were, and that’s how it should be. Any creative output which does not leave a trail of discourse is a squib load. Controversy is the ultimate artistic energy, and I really wouldn’t want it any other way.

The song in question is also present on “Exuvia”, this time as “Takitum Tootem! (Trance)” and with different percussion. Compared to the tribal madness of the EP, the album version is significantly heavier – almost pulsating.

– While experimenting with it, I tried out a slower and more trance-like interpretation of the main motif and found it better suited to the overall mood of the album. I decided to unhitch the wardance and instead embed it in its own context. The EP was originally planned as a one-sided twelve-inch, meant to coincide with the spring 2016 Acherontic Arts Festival. For organisational reasons, this never happened so it was postponed and extended to a complete EP – with the addition of a PINK FLOYD cover (”Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”), which, in my opinion, fits very well due to its similar percussive nature.


The EP cover artwork, is that a nod towards the film Altered States?

– I like the reference, and I’d be happy to confirm… had it only been true. “Takitum Tootem!” is a dystopian vision of the post-humanoid Earth. It signifies the triumph of nature’s forces over a parasitic lifeform being exterminated like a foul, diseased, and infectious vermin. In this context, mankind is finally stripped of creation’s crown after being defeated by its genuine totem; humanity torn apart by animal aggression and powers of the wilderness. This is what the cover depicts: Jesus Christ, the ultimate symbol of Occidental human drama, nailed to a cross. Decapitated and adorned with the head of a wolf – nature’s most artfully organised entity and our primary phobia. The crucified man-beast is a triumphant symbol of a cleansed and organic earth, the resurgence of pristine spirit.

Is “Exuvia” another concept album then?

– No. To be honest, it’s difficult for me to provide elaborate insight into my lyrics; for the most part, they’re structured like self-disputes buried under a landslide of metaphors. Big parts of them are slightly insane or, let’s say, weird. “Surtur Barbaar Maritime” for example, uses nomenclature from ancient Germanic mythology to narrate an eschatological battle between gods and giants. Imagine the giants as profane, gross oppressors of culture – persistently ignorant of the soul, and deniers of respect for monumental ideas. Then picture the Æsir as their spiritualised enmity. There lives a personal antagonism inside me, and this fictional debate casts a poetic reflection of my own existential brooding. I harbour an incredible hatred for people who celebrate their ignorance of everything not bred for superficiality, of all that requires devotion, mindfulness, and time-input. I have concluded that this is a point of view founded in hubris, considering the fact that I am myself afflicted with human DNA. This realisation doesn’t really make anything better though. Note that these are some of the more… shall we say, ’harmless’ rhetorical conflicts the album contains. The remaining songs discuss matters I not only wished to deal with, but also eradicate.

Would you care to elaborate on that?

– Not particularly, no. I hope I may ask for your understanding not to lucidly reveal their imagery here. It would be boring for you and counterproductive to me.

The most recent THE RUINS OF BEVERAST interview I could find was from 2013. I’m not sure how he feels about it now, but I noticed that Meilenwald appeared to still be emotionally invested in black metal as an art form back then.

– Still am. Imagine it as a form of love-hate relationship with… let’s say, a town you were born and raised in. An utterly boring shithole you couldn’t wait to get out of but haven’t ever left for good, and probably never will. Should anyone dare to speak ill of or taunt it, you feel a spasm of annoyance rippling through your flesh – leading to uncontrolled aggression and an overpowering urge to return fire and mock them all until they develop suicidal feelings. Everyone in the, ahem… contemporary ’scene’ always complains about the current state of affairs. I mean, by ’95 they said the movement had followed Euronymous to the grave, yet those declaring black metal dead kept on playing and supporting it. By the turn of the millennium, it had apparently died again; this time in the late 90s when it became a common part of heavy metal and lost its radicalisms. All the while, the ones issuing death notices and proclaiming good riddance were the ones keeping it alive. Even I was going on like this in the first decade of the 2000s, after certain bands who tried re-establishing black metal to what it was during the early 90s had failed. They obviously never understood what it was like back then, because this was never a romping ground for frustrated little snots shocking their parents with nazi babble. And no, nobody will ever succeed in evoking the DARKTHRONE-and-MAYHEM spirit by hitting REC on a ghetto-blaster and recording uninspired power chord bullshit with Satan-lyrics and drum computers.

Meilenwald wishes to remind everyone that black metal used to be permeated by an intuitive and intangible magic, fuelled by naivety and unprofessionalism as much as independence and devotion.

– I’m not talking about vandalising graves and painting twisted crosses upon them, although this was of course part of it, but a stubborn and focused strength of purpose: a tunnel-vision allowing glances to neither left nor right. It was impregnable. While much may have been somewhat naïve, there was never any room for doubt. This was also before bands started seeking validation and recognition from outside. This paradigm shift is what made the ultimate difference in everything that came afterwards. Thereafter, people began trying to attract controversy by filling their music with pseudo-radical or provoking slogans, something the advent of online communities has brought to extreme and likewise grotesque levels.

Agitators who take to social media in their heralding of the commercialism-driven demise of black metal – besides their own band, of course – are a crowd Meilenwald finds particularly loathsome.

– Decreed through a networking platform run by a huge, capitalistic corporation – one that stands like a cenotaph against individualism, against differing opinions and withdrawing into a niche… yet it’s supposedly great for getting in touch with people from all over the world, forming pitiful digital ’friendships’ and exchanging culture like an exemplary upstanding citizen of cosmopolitan humankind.

And what can we discern from all this?

– Not much, besides how far away we are from recalling how it felt to touch the essence of the blackest of metal, because it is the exact and total opposite of what we think it is. And yet here I am, mocking and moaning but still defending the art against those who would defile it – meanwhile, somehow, composing and performing it…


THE RUINS OF BEVERAST began performing live in 2013. Not having witnessed this myself, I’m curious how the moods and atmospheres of the albums translate into the concert experience.

– To be honest, I don’t really know if they do translate. I mean, three out of five members in the live line-up are not involved in studio recordings, so what happens on stage is that all songs are completely re-interpreted. This is because none of them should ever try to imitate my style of playing guitars or drums; they forged their own approaches to handling their instruments a long time ago.

He adds that the material has to be rearranged for the live situation, as to avoid having to recruit an entire host of guitarists, keyboardists, vocalists, and percussionists.

– We are forced to decide which elements to keep and what can be stripped away; obviously, this will change the appeal of each song. What’s important to us is that the goddamn music, and nothing else, plays the main part. Therefore, we intentionally renounce anything bringing attention to ourselves as persons – be it masquerades, silly conversation, ‘rituals’, or whatever. Such attributes appear closely related to personality cults: self-promotion intended to bring attention to the individuals on stage, and simultaneously tearing the heart and guts out of the musical aura. Therefore, we always reduce stage lights as much as possible, lurking as silhouettes behind walls of fog. For celebrations of music, the actual musicians are simply unimportant. However, this doesn’t always work due to the atmospheric settings of the venue, especially at festivals where bands are often perceived as faceless entertainers and any special request is met with grimaces of annoyed doubt.

An older interview spoke of a ’deep personal abyss’ in which Meilenwald had found himself at one point. Given the mental states portrayed through the man’s music, this should come as a surprise to no one.

– I’m not a particularly depressive or sick-minded person. I find it a bit clichéd and doubtful how many artists draw inspiration from seemingly endless angst and all manner of private hells endured. Personal struggles and negative estrangement from everyday life are intense phases that might feed an urge to become creative, but don’t necessarily lead to good ideas. Occasionally, I feel too lethargic and depleted of energy to develop ideas, or to find the self-discipline to keep working when creativity isn’t flowing. However, those periods are temporary – “Exuvia” is, as I said, a conflict resolution of sorts. But that was a rather concrete dispute, a momentary one at that, and not a basic depression. I wrote all the lyrics within two months and, in terms of therapy, the album served its purpose quite successfully.

So these demented hypnotic parts – you really think they could have been composed by someone who’s never been to a really fucked up place mentally?

– Songs like “Between Bronze Walls” and the “Exuvia” title track are genuine outcomes of sleeplessness and despair, but I wouldn’t call those phases essential in the development of ideas for THE RUINS OF BEVERAST; this would be going too far. I’m fully able to shape utterly saturnine motifs in periods of vividness and good mood. It might as well be that I, during periods of severe mental tilt, throw away decent ideas because I rate them too generic.


Many of the song arrangements of THE RUINS OF BEVERAST are as unorthodox as the remaining approach. Meilenwald’s compositions never follow traditional models such as the verse-bridge-chorus formula.

– They float in a peculiar vacuum, drifting aimlessly in the absence of conventional musical gravity and with neither beginning nor end. This alone is a strange listening experience; those looking for traditional signs that it’s an actual song being played are likely to be disappointed and confused. This is why it’s essential to create structures capable of sweeping listeners away from the daily bustle, allowing them to be devoured and sealed off from everything safe and familiar. I prefer to regard my songs as suspense movies rather than pieces of music. Creating material for THE RUINS OF BEVERAST is like writing a film screenplay and I am, of course, operating a handful of stylistic devices to create tension and unease. The question is how one puts needles into the cerebral regions that actually cause fear and anxiety, using only the audible experience?

Are you interested in filmmaking?

– I’m so very much interested in filmmaking. Had I ever been given the chance to think properly at a time when it would’ve been necessary, I could have educated myself in the art of writing and directing movies. You are unlikely to be surprised to learn that we’re not talking about any high-budget, polished blockbusters here. I have an endless myriad of ideas I’d love to try out. Aside from surrealistic visual art, I’ve been toying with a few visions of almost unenjoyable series. Or wicked art movie stuff in the vein of Lars von Trier, or those weird underground directors from France and the Balkan states – even the Far East. All of their movies are just apocalyptically poetic. I don’t know, maybe some time I’ll bestir myself to try it out.

Samples from film dialogue have always been a crucial ingredient in THE RUINS OF BEVERAST, especially the project’s early output.

– This actually came to mind in an accidental manner, whilst working with NAGELFAR. I’m not entirely sure here, but I believe it was a recording mistake I made on a demo I was going to show the guys. It contained spoken words of myself that I hadn’t planned for, but when hearing it I was struck by the intense note my talking brought to the part. So, I began experimenting. I prefer using sampled speech within parts that recur repeatedly within the songs. They can actually take on the vibe of an additional instrument, or a vocal pattern unchained from metrics or rhythm or tone – thus serving as a sharp contrast, emphasising the effect of the underlying instrumental parts. It’s a bit disappointing how many bands use samples only as intros or outros, thus robbing them of their inherent compositional value. Not every spoken word fits in everywhere, and sometimes they’re perfectly suitable only as an intro or outro, but it’s a maliciously delightful thing to blend them into actual songs and see where they can add some spice. Noisy, percussive, or spherical samples can even be used as rhythmic patterns or synth soundscapes. One needs only be a bit adventurous! Maintaining a certain shroud of atmosphere is of the utmost importance in THE RUINS OF BEVERAST, which is why all new material is subjected to stringent scrutiny. You could negatively refer to it as a corset, because there are actually riffs or complete passages I discard if they don’t submit beneath it. They must have that capacity of tickling the fearful mind.

This article can also be found in Bardo Archivology Vol. 2, a printed anthology with selected features from the online archive. Additional content includes NÅSTROND, VOMITOR, NOCTURNUS, XIBALBA ITZAES , Ryan Förster, ANGELCORPSE, ASCENSION, MALOKARPATAN, Manhunter: The Story of the Swedish Occultist and Serial Killer Thurneman, WARDRUNA, FORGOTTEN WOODS, LIFVSLEDA, SEIGNEUR VOLAND, and WOLCENSMEN – all presented in ambitious aesthetics with plenty of custom artwork. More information here.