Ghast are going to be the most monolithic of the bands featured this week, the ones exerting the slowest bone crushing pressure as opposed to the treble heavy lashings of many of the other bands. Theirs is a style that owes as much to Doom as Black Metal, but as we’ve already seen, Black Metal is as much about the personal intentions and headspace which the music is recorded in, as the sound that eventually pours from the speakers. Their lyrical themes encompass realms of fantasy, but also dreams, wakefulness and hypnogogy, and paranoia – all good dread Doom topics, but imbued with an essentially black metal oriented spite, as bassist/vocalist Myrggh elaborates “Black metal is the most negative form of heavy metal; it emphasises the sound and aesthetics of fear, death and evil. Black metal works for me because it allows me to externalise these feelings and gives me something tangible I can point at, rather than allowing them to fester internally. I suppose that, to a great extent, is the purpose of art.”
Amen to that.
Guitarist/vocalist Arrrrrrrach, is slightly more abrupt with his assertion that their form of Black Metal simply involves “Atmosphere and aggression”
Amen to that.
The savage bleakness and minimalism of their sound sets them at odds with almost the entire wave of current bands I’ve come across. Environment playing as large a part in the genre’s sound as it does, is it because of their location in the industrial town of Swansea, under the rugged mountainsides of the Welsh countryside that engenders such a gritty morbidity.
Drummer Kz: “That is something you can’t escape, music is made by humans, and humans react to their environment. Some Black Metal bands make a big deal of this, and to others it is simply obvious and not worth pointing out.”
Myrggh: “You could argue that black metal should be against nature and should deny environmental influences. Look at early Mayhem: its more about striving towards the death of everything than appreciating the forests. I wouldn’t argue that though. Environmental influences? Yeah, why not”
I pose the notion of a distinctly British Black Metal sound developing around the country, to which Kz: is quick to refute “No, although there maybe a cheap computer sound that you could associate with some current British Black Metal, but overall, I think bands are doing different things.” So do they not feel there are any unifying elements or themes simultaneously, or co-operatively, stimulating many bands across the country, other than a coincidence of a lot of interesting music emerging that is garnering attention, or is that again, simply a convenient media editorial fabrication?
Arrrrrrrach: “I’d say that when we started, we made a conscious decision to be more miserable and rough than everyone else, so it’s fair to say that my/our perceived lack of these elements in the scene was something that helped shape what we are.”
Myrggh: “People often complain about journalistic tagging, or labels, but we need them to allow us to place things in context. Its how we make sense of the world – create stereotypes, make assumptions. It’s impossible to singularly attend to every new piece of information (i.e., including new bands you’ve heard). Therefore label of UKBM is inevitable and necessary. Perhaps there is some motivational effect in feeling part of a scene, which facilitates the creativity of bands within it, but also causes a herd mentality amongst newer bands. Look at other scenes in their early days – bands start out sounding different, but as a scene is increasingly identified a ‘sound’ develops. If there is a particular sound, we’re not part of it.”
So is there nothing recognizably British in Ghast’s music, or would that even be something important to them?
Kz: “We don’t try to sound like a British Black Metal band, we are aware of sounding like ourselves, however I can also recognize a British Doom sound in some of our material.”
Arrrrrrrach: “I mean, I think we listen to a lot of British music, older northern death doom, trad doom and all that sort stuff, as well as stuff from elsewhere that was influenced by it. I’m pretty sure there is a distinct British way of harmonizing, which I fucking love and want to continue, but not because it is British, just because it is so mournful.”
Myrggh: “I’m not concerned what other British bands do, as long as it’s not consistently shit. I was concerned about 10 years ago when Thus Defiled used to be considered the frontrunners of UKBM – those were sad, sad days.”
Their new two track EP, Terrible Cemetery has just been released on Todestrieb Records and features one short 8 minute track and one expansive twenty minute saga, incorporating every element they’ve described int his discussion – evil overbearing atmosphere weighing down like a doom claw spread over a ritual anticipating the delivery of its sacrifice. The vocals are pitched just under a hysterical shriek, flung wild and feral into the night sky as the music traverses its dynamically planned course across slow climbs and rapid descents, big bursts of power riffing that casts shadows over the faster, blurred tremelo shredding then down, grinding into blown out bass noise sections where the momentum carries the track forward but everything else seems to stand still. As essential an addition to the UKBM canon as their previous 2008 demo album May The Curse Bind.
Interview by Not for Resale blog.