by Niklas Göransson
A conversation about the past and the present with Dutch underground veteran Rob Reijnders – bass player and frontman of Lucifericon.
– For us, “The Warlock of Da’ath” was mostly about trying to match the quality of our last album, or preferably improve it. We’re not twenty anymore, so we like to take plenty of time with these things. Once the creative process has begun, we collect musical ideas and write riffs – keeping what’s really good and discarding anything subpar. We stick to what feels right to us without paying attention to what’s currently in demand or what other bands might be doing.
“The Warlock of Da’ath” was released by Invictus Productions in November 2022. The LP version came out on July 7, 2023. Although far from standard death metal, there are definitely traces of early MORBID ANGEL – which I find amusing because Rob’s former bandmate, KK Warslut of DESTRÖYER 666, recently told me that ‘all Dutchies love MORBID ANGEL’.
– Haha! Well, I guess KK makes a lot of statements about many things. But sure, I really dig old MORBID ANGEL, and so do many others here. I mean, “Altars of Madness” completely changed the face of death metal after the 80s. So, it should come as no surprise that they’ve been an influence in one way or another for most bands into extreme music. Old MORBID ANGEL perfectly captures the sort of occult vibe we’re going for with LUCIFERICON.
The album has a death metal core but is heavily saturated with black and doom metal. To me, “The Warlock of Da’ath” shines in the mid-tempo parts, which really bring out the esoteric undertones of its lyrics and aesthetics.
– I think you’ve described the essence of LUCIFERICON perfectly. We don’t approach riffs from a technical standpoint, nor are we here to showcase specific abilities; our main concern is writing music that creates a dark atmosphere. What matters to us the most is the overall vibe. Once the basic song structure is in place, we like adding various arrangements to amplify the atmosphere – it could be keyboards, acoustic guitars, vocal experiments… we’re willing to explore all options and keep an open mind.
The conceptual element of “The Warlock of Da’ath” is equally ambitious, with custom-made art inspired by the symbolism in the lyrics.
– I have a deep interest in these topics – it’s a fascination that has captivated me ever since my teenage years. However, I don’t claim to be preaching or targeting a specific audience. My fanatical passion for underground music also extends to the lyrical themes I believe align best with this genre. I’m not particularly drawn to gore or splatter; they may complement extreme music rather well but don’t resonate with me personally.
Did you put a lot of time into research?
– Yes. I find writing lyrics quite challenging; I’d actually say that composing the music is easier. The topics I choose are often complex, and being a non-native English speaker adds additional layers of difficulty. However, I want to express myself in a professional manner and therefore dedicate a lot of time to translating my writing while ensuring it works with the music. It can be quite a task. When preparing for such projects, I always read extensively and take notes. Eventually, a coherent thread emerges, and the lyrics gradually come together. In fact, it took me a whole year to write the lyrics for “The Warlock of Da’ath”.
‘Da’ath’ is a Hebrew term for ‘knowledge’ or ‘consciousness’. In the esoteric tradition of Kabbalah, it represents a particular emanation – or sephirah – on the Tree of Life, which is a symbolic representation of the divine realm and the structure of creation.
– While many songs touch upon Kabbalistic themes, others explore different subjects. So, it’s not a concept album but a blend of different metaphysical currents. Our debut, “Al-Khem-Me”, delved into sorcery and related topics, which suited me quite well. Nonetheless, I didn’t want to continue on the same path; I aimed to explore something similar but from a different perspective, which led me to the concept of Kabbalah. I found something highly intriguing within it, especially the Tree of Life and the Tree of Death.
In the Kabbalistic worldview, the Tree of Life and the Tree of Death – the Qliphoth – are two contrasting symbolic frameworks representing dual aspects of existence and spirituality.
– I believe every coin has two sides – just like the cosmos contains good and bad, light versus dark, and so on. The Kabbalistic aspect that fascinated me the most was its unorthodox side. Orthodox Kabbalists tend to disregard the Qliphoth, acknowledging only the Tree of Life. However, the unorthodox ones recognise the need for duality, as the existence of one side depends on the other. We are interested in exploring the darker aspects, so we’ve chosen to emphasise them.
“Ancient Lineage”, the seventh track on the album, features a spoken word passage by Darragh O’Laoghaire of VIRCOLAC. Darragh is also the owner of Invictus Productions – the Irish label that released both LUCIFERICON albums.
– Darragh and I have known each other for twenty years now; I believe we met at some point after I returned from Australia in 2001. Keith and Simon from DESTRÖYER 666 were friends with him already, so it was only a matter of time before we were introduced. I’m not entirely sure when, though? Possibly the GOSPEL OF THE HORNS tour in 2003 because they stayed at my place – a large flat above a car parts shop with eight couches in the living room, so everyone had somewhere to sleep.
Australia’s GOSPEL OF THE HORNS has been a pivotal band for Invictus Productions. Rob first became acquainted with them in the year 2000 – at a time when very few Europeans had much experience with Aussie metalheads besides written correspondence.
– I’d only met Matthew from RAZOR OF OCCAM, who you also know, right? Both of us were at Stonehenge Festival in the Netherlands in ‘97, and we exchanged addresses and started writing to each other. The year after, he sent me ten copies of his “Diabologue” demo; I gave some of them to Daan and Jeroen of Damnation Records, who decided to release two tracks on a seven-inch EP.
Soon thereafter, Damnation Records signed the recently resurrected GOSPEL OF THE HORNS and released their mini-LP “Eve of the Conqueror” in February 2000. That summer, Damnation helped GOSPEL set up a tour. Rob organised their second European show in his hometown, Bladel.
– I’d already heard from Daan and Jeroen that GOSPEL OF THE HORNS were quite chaotic, rarely sober, and constantly tired, haha! It was a hot summer, so they didn’t smell too great either. The Damnation guys were thinking, ‘Shit, what have we gotten ourselves into?’ That ‘tour’ was mostly about playing the occasional show in-between drinking sessions. It was messy and wild but also a lot of fun. After the Bladel gig, we went to a party that we weren’t exactly invited to – which ended with beer bottles flying through the air and more crazy shit I don’t remember exactly.
That summer is also when Rob first met KK Warslut, who came over to follow his friends on tour. After GOSPEL OF THE HORNS returned to Australia, he stayed with Rob for almost a month. In Bardo Methodology #8, KK said he had decided to relocate before he even flew back home.
– He didn’t specifically mention moving over, but I could tell he was interested in what Europe offered him and his band. Matthew had already explained in our letters how the metal scene in Australia consisted of a small group of people – all of whom knew each other. Bands could do gigs in six cities, and that was it. Whereas in mainland Europe, everything lies within driving distance. Keith (KK) was like, ‘Oh man, I have to get DESTRÖYER outta Australia.’
In late December 2000, Rob and his friend Sjors visited their new friends in Australia. The same year, two Frenchmen – Pierre from StrataNael and Seb, who now plays with HELL MILITIA – came over.
– We met Pierre and Seb in Australia for the first time; we didn’t know them before. We had no idea other Europeans were flying over for the same weekend. Johnny Death picked us up from the Melbourne airport and drove us straight to Keith’s house, where we found a bunch of people. We joined the party and had a great time meeting everyone. I remember many Australians feeling almost invaded by the sudden influx of foreigners – like, ‘Who are all these strangers?’
Two days after arriving, Rob attended a New Year’s Eve show in Melbourne organised by DESTRÖYER 666 guitarist Ian Shrapnel. Besides DESTRÖYER, the evening saw performances from Brisbane’s VOMITOR, as well as GRENADE and DUNGEON from Sydney.
– The New Year’s Eve gig was really cool; I had the feeling that the people who were there made up the entire metal underground of Australia. I don’t think there was much else. It wasn’t easy to maintain a scene when some lived in Adelaide and others in Melbourne, about seven hundred kilometres apart. It becomes much more difficult to catch up over the weekend, let alone put together a band.
That New Year’s show is where KK Warslut told Ian Shrapnel about his plans to move the band to Europe. Reportedly, the week-long bender that followed was a lively affair.
– Well, we were constantly drinking, of course. But we were a bit jetlagged and had to catch up on sleep at some point – and after partying for three days in a row, it was no longer possible to stand on our feet. We rested for a few hours and then continued. But yes, there was lots of music playing and conversations going on.
Following the festivities, KK Warslut and Simon Berserker were evicted from their house. Meanwhile, Rob and Sjors embarked on a road trip. Instead of renting a car for two months, they decided to buy one.
– I remember it was a Mitsubishi and an absolute shit-box of a car, but we got it cheap. We drove that thing all across the country – first to Tasmania and from there to Adelaide, then we visited the GRENADE guys in Sydney and VOMITOR in Brisbane. At every stop, we stuck around for almost a week. We had a spray can, and everyone we stayed with was allowed to paint something on our car. After several weeks of travelling, all the states we’d driven through were listed on the rooftop. It had a huge pentagram on the bonnet, and ‘the Beast of Damnation’ was written on the side.
How many times were you pulled over, driving that thing?
– Quite a few times! But since we weren’t staying anywhere, the cops didn’t know what to do and let us drive on. We must’ve had like ten parking tickets that we just shoved into the glove box. We had falsely registered it to the house that Keith and Simon were getting kicked out of, so all our speeding and parking fines went to that address. Presumably, the new tenants got some interesting mail.
By late February, the trip had brought them back to Melbourne.
– We went to Keith’s new place on the other side of the bridge in Melbourne, where we had a huge party. In a drunken state, we drove around doing doughnuts on the roundabout until the car was completely fucked. We parked it one block away, and Ian told me the wreckage sat there for about a week until the cops took it away. But we removed the license plates and brought them home – they’re still at my house.
Two months later, in early May, DESTRÖYER set out on the Darkness Over Europe Tour with IMMOLATION, DECAPITATED, and DERANGED.
– I could already tell there was strong interest in DESTRÖYER 666 and other Australian stuff. Not many Aussie bands had played over here back then. So, I knew that if DESTRÖYER moved to Europe, festivals and other promoters would be interested in booking them. They were lucky to get the support act for a successful band like IMMOLATION, so it worked out well for them.
Following the tour, DESTRÖYER 666 stayed in Europe. A year later, in 2002, Rob ended up joining the band on bass – but that is a story for another day. Nonetheless, the friendships sealed back then remain today, as evidenced by Ian Shrapnel’s guitar solos on the new LUCIFERICON album.
– As an underground band of modest stature, arranging a tour to promote our new album has been quite a challenge. However, we did manage to put on some amazing release shows last January with BONES from Belgium and VIRCOLAC from Ireland. We’ve also been fortunate enough to perform at some fantastic festivals and have more appearances scheduled. Also, we’re looking forward to celebrating our 15th anniversary next year and are considering organising something special for the occasion. Despite the obstacles, we haven’t given up on the prospect of a tour and are determined to make it happen.