Ethereal Interview by Jarod Lawley
Formed in 2002 in Liverpool, Ethereal are one of the UK’s premier underground black metal outfits at the moment. Having just inked in a deal with the legendary Candlelight Records, and gigging frequently in London and across the UK , this is a band on the rise. We spoke to Naut and Iyaan to find out more…
Hi there, thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions from us, could you please tell us what Ethereal are up to at the moment?
Naut: We’ve been putting the finishing touches to our debut album “Opus Aethereum”, as we speak the album is on its way to Hertz Studios in Poland to be mixed by the Wieslawski brothers, and we are eager to hear the results. As well as this we are preparing to debut some of the new material at this year’s Candlefest in October. We are also working on the album artwork and some new merch designs. We are also working on some new songs for the second album, we are always looking ahead and the wheels are always turning…
You recently supported Eastern Front at The Black Heart, how was that gig for you?
Naut: For me it was a great show with a real violent intensity, we came to destroy and we did just that. It was good to see so many people braving the oppressive heat of the venue that day to show their support. It was a great line-up too, a real showcase for the UKs thriving extreme metal scene.
You acquired a new vocalist, Naut, last year, how has he been settling and what do you feel he has bought to the Ethereal sound?
Iyaan: Naut has been with us for a year now and has settled in very well, in that time he’s become a very important part of this band. He’s a great frontman with a relentless work ethic and a dedicated attitude, everything we were looking for. His lyrics are very inspiring, and most importantly his vocal techniques and delivery fit perfectly with our music.
You also have a new rhythm section, with Volf on bass and Mordrath on drums, how did they come to join the band?
Iyaan: Mordrath is a very gifted drummer capable of amazing things, he has played with a number of extreme metal bands in Poland, and since moving to the UK a few years ago he had been looking for a band with a lot of drive and ambition. We got talking and invited him to rehearse with us. He grasped the material very quickly and added his own flare to the songs, our connection was immediate and it was obvious he was the perfect drummer for Ethereal.
Volf had also been involved in extreme music over in Poland for many years and since moving to the UK had continued to play in extreme metal bands, he was playing bass for a band based in our hometown of Liverpool, when we heard this band had split I asked him if he would be interested in joining Ethereal. He joined only weeks before our first tour with the new line up and wasted no time getting to know the material, and has been doing a great job ever since.
Although we all have very different personalities, we all share a connection and ambition that drives Ethereal forward. Together this line up has achieved some remarkable things in only one year, more so than in any other time since Ethereal began back in 2002.
Your lyrical themes include LaVeyan Satanism, are this something any of the members actively practice or is it just an interest?
Naut: This is misinformation, perhaps LaVeyan Satanism may have been a theme in the past but it has little to do with my own philosophy. My spirituality is my own, and it is born of a range of influences and experiences, I do not follow any life-code as created by any singular philosophy, satanic or otherwise.
For me the teachings and practices of the occult are there to be explored but not necessarily to be followed. To walk the left hand path is to find your understanding and live by your own rules, not to adhere to the rules of another. To define and standardise ones own spirituality by the understanding of another is limiting, it allows no growth. This is the model of mainstream religion and look at what that has brought to the world. This is why Ethereal as a collective can never be aligned with any unifying spirituality, for us it is personal, and not something we need to define and project upon our audience or each other.
We each go our own way. Sure, the lyrics are written from my own philosophical grounding, but I don’t want to preach, I would rather the listener was inspired to think for themselves and find their own meaning through their own curiosity and personal exploration. There is more depth to the lyrics than simply relying upon the tired and overused themes of anti-Christianity and devil worship that many “extreme” musicians seem to lean upon.
On stage the band has a very strong image, is this just to accompany the music or is it a direct expression of your personalities?
Naut: For me it’s simply the visible aspect of the transformation it is necessary to undergo in order to deliver the music.
I suppose you could it a form of personal expression, it helps to get us into the right head-space before we go onstage, it’s the tangible reflection of the emotions we draw upon to give a sincere performance. Sure, we could do it without the paints, and we’re not necessarily breaking any new ground for black metal by wearing them, but for me that is the time when the events of the day are left behind, and my focus turns to the performance. The paints go on and the mask comes off, it’s a process of becoming.
Now you’re signed to Candlelight Records, what have Ethereal fans got to look forward too?
Naut: As a band we always strive to progress, to make every aspect of Ethereal bigger and better. Our allegiance with Candlelight will enable us to do just that. There is no limit to what we can accomplish.
Iyaan: The Ethereal Fanbase has grown substantially in the last 12 months, and it been refreshing to hear the opinions of those who have seen the new incarnation of the band live. So the first thing fans have to look forward to is the release of our debut album through Candlelight, which we have been writing and recording throughout the year. The album is currently being mixed over at Hertz studio in Poland. This album shows the strength of this band, it’s going to sound monumental.
After that fans have many more live performances to look forward to, where we will be venturing into some new territories and seeing what becomes of the new material in the live environment, where this band is at its best. We write music together continually, so our fans also have many more albums to look forward to in the future.
Do you feel like the backing of a well-known label is going to change the band very much?
Naut: Candlelight is renowned for its work with some of the most uncompromising artists in extreme music, and has released some of the greatest works of the genre. Ethereal is an extreme band on an extreme record label, any change that comes about will be a natural part of our development as a band. We have every confidence that working with Candlelight will enable our growth as a band, without compromise.
Iyaan: We have always been a band with a strong work ethic, the backing of a label like Candlelight isn’t going to change the band, rather it simply strengthens our belief in ourselves, and pushes us to work harder and go further. Our work with Candlelight will help us to reach a larger audience and help us push our boundaries even further. We couldn’t be happier to have the acknowledgement and support of this iconic record label.
How would you like to see the band grow and develop in the foreseeable future?
Naut: We will keep pushing forward, working to create great music and to deliver unforgettable live performances. Our aim is always to surpass what has gone before, to identify our limits and destroy them, to become stronger with each new song and with each live performance. We want to take this band around the world and make our mark upon it. If that were not our ambition, then there would be no point in doing this.
Iyaan: Our plan is to take Ethereal as far as it can possibly go, our immediate aim is play around the festival circuit in 2015 and to play some European dates, we will also be pushing for some bigger and better shows here in the UK, we have a lot of ambition and a lot of ideas in the works. Ethereal are here to stay, we are determined to make our mark.
Thank you for doing this interview today, have you got anything to tell our readers lastly?
Naut: Thank you for the interview. Keep your eyes out for “Opus Aethereum”, go to gigs and support extreme music.