Interview with The Infernal Sea
@ Boston Music Room
28th March 2018
Interview by Thomas James Henry Saunders
Tonight is The Infernal Sea first live performance of 2018; a year that has the band focusing on writing a new studio album, having toured extensively throughout the UK the previous year.
I find them in a rock-themed bar opposite the Boston Music Room, a mere 30 minutes before the gig is to begin, with Sunderland based death outfit Vacivus as the opening act. After a brief introduction, we descend into the venue, past the sound check in search of a quiet space to conduct the interview. To keep their identities a mystery, I was asked to refer to them simply as “Vocalist”
With your masks & outfits, how do you feel that adds to the theatrical nature of black metal in general?
V; Yeah, it definitely adds to it, that’s what we’re going for, personally, I feel we create quite extreme music and we wanted to create a visually extreme look as well, and all of our lyrics are sort of rooted in medieval ‘tales’. They’re sort of true accounts of what happened during medieval times so the plague doctor thing works perfectly because obviously, the great death was from that period, but it just creates another dimension to our sound and our stage show. Sort of a visual assault on the eyes and with an aural assault on the ears with the sound.
Why did the masks change, as you had different ones before yes?
B; We’re just going to keep adapting them, we’ve always worn the plague masks, so we’ve just, evolved the look so they’ll just get more and more nasty as we get on.
V; And they got better as well, the ones we have now are really high quality and are custom made.
Who made them?
V; Uhh a company in, where is it?
B; Yes it’s Rubber Gorilla; a company based in a place called Marske funnily enough. They’re really really nice. Before they were sort of just brought off the shelf.
I always assumed made the masks yourselves somehow?
V; Oh, no, we’ve always just bought the masks wherever we found them. With the new ones we’ve commissioned the guy based on what we’re looking for, and he just makes them, he does a lot of horror related stuff.
Is there a themed basis on the newer masks? I’ve seen some of the logo prints covering the masks.
V; It’s just, that’s our sigil, so it’s more to say, kinda to theme it up like a cult, so we have the ‘Agents Of Satan’ and it’s more like, we are this cult, we have, um, so-called minions which are the plague doctors in a way, or even the heralds of the plague. But yeah it’s just going for that visual of cult.
B; It just ties it together, and it removes faces and makes it a bit more threatening.
With the EP ‘Agents Of Satan’ being about satanically influenced murders, do you think you’ll be incorporating more of these themes in future releases?
V; Definitely. It’s something I’ve always explored lyrically and I’m really interested in the dark arts really interested in serial killers as well. It’s something we’ve touched upon in older songs, bar the ‘Great Mortality’ which was all based on the great plague, the black death, but the new, album will have a theme that’s rooted in medieval lore again, but I won’t say much more right now [laughs], but it will take elements of the serial killer stuff and adapt that into it. We’ve tried to keep it all factual, so pretty much everything we sing about is factual. In the early days, it was a little bit more, more…
B; Magical, whimsical.
V; Yeah. It was a little more fantasy based, a little more different shall we say.
I’ve seen that in touring, you’ve supported many different acts, from bands like Arch Enemy to Satyricon and spanning different genres of extreme metal. As you grow, do you think you’ll become more selective with whom you pick to support?
B; I think yes & no. When we reach a bigger audience, we end up having a broader appeal. Some people are gonna say “Ah that’s a bad thing, it’s not this or that, but we’ve always had a good response from the crowd.”
V; For us, I think it’s a good thing, things like, the Bloodstock appearance, it’s not necessarily a black metal festival and there’s probably only a handful of black metal bands there, but I think things like that are really good for bands like us. But on the flipside, you’ve got shows like tonight where it’s very black metal.
I’ve seen you playing in all black metal nights at the Unicorn before. Is that more of the scene and crowd that you’re going for?
B; I think we’ve got quite a broad crossover appeal, so I think we can go for the underground metal crowd, but also the death metal crowd seem to like us too. Even some of the mainstream, like when we played with Arch Enemy, it was a completely different crowd, but if they’re enjoying the music it’s the same to us anyway. We’re not gonna be snobbish about it.
V; We kinda just want to get our music out there and if people are willing to listen to it, if we can terrorize a different kind of audience with it, then so be it. If that branches into other people exploring the more extreme arts, that’s a good thing potentially.
Speaking of different audiences, have you ever thought of going further East into Eastern Europe or into Scandinavia, or even Russia?
B; We’d love to! If the opportunity presents itself then yeah, definitely.
V; We’ve had some offers from Russia in the past, but it was a bit of a bad time to be in Russia, what with their blasphemy based laws and stuff. It’s probably not a good idea for us to go to Russia.
B; For Scandinavia, it hasn’t happened yet, but it’s certainly on our radar, it’s somewhere we want to go.
V; We have touched into Europe, so the further East we can go the better, but literally, we want to play pretty much anywhere.
Is there any particular festival you’d like to play?
B; I think any of the European festivals! We’d love to get to any of the bigger ones, like Wacken and metal-days, that would be fantastic!
V; Even somewhere like Download, dare I say it? It’s the home of metal at the end of the day, isn’t it? And again, I know that’s a completely different scene, but it’d be such an amazing experience to play somewhere like that. They do occasionally put on extreme bands there, so we’d happily play there. Personally, I’d love to play Norway, it’s where it all started, so would it would be an amazing experience to play there.
With regards to the music industry, there’s been a real resurgence of raw black metal in the UK. Do you feel that to be a positive step?
B; Yeah it’s great! I think the black metal scene is really healthy in the UK and we’re in this scene with a lot of other bands, with new bands popping up all over the place. I think it’s brilliant to be part of it.
V; Definitely. There are some really strong acts out there now. We’ve been doing this 9 years now and there wasn’t really much of a scene for a while, with black metal being extremely underground but, when you look at all the acts coming out of the UK now, there’s some, really strong ones out there that are flying the flag for UK black metal, which is great!
B; It shows that we’re an Island to contend with when it comes to black metal, that it doesn’t just always come from Norway, or America even, so it’s good to show that we can stand our own and do some grim horrible metal. [laughs]
Speaking of the industry, has the recent negative trend of closures of so many venues in the UK, impacted your touring at all?
V; No, we’ve been alright haven’t we really…
B; Yeh. I don’t think so, no, not for us. There’s always been somewhere for us to play. and have never found that to be a problem.
V; It hasn’t made a big impact yet, but I mean it’s going to at some point I’m sure because they’re closing down a lot. It seems to be the ones they’re closing down are the ones that would put on these underground shows. It does make it harder, but we’ll have to see what happens really, with the state of venues in this country.
You already have a couple of music videos out. Are you looking to make more?
V; Yeah we will do! We’re working on a new album at the moment, so when that comes out we’ll have some videos to go with that, definitely. It’ll help, as they’ll contain our new, visual look as well.
Do you feel music videos are an integral part of the black metal overall style?
V; They’re good for getting your name out there. I think they’re still pretty vital, as visually it helps capture people’s attention. They’re not as strong as they used to be. As in the past, if you look back at the MTV era, all the bands became massive off of one video and that doesn’t happen anymore. But, in this day and age, if you wanna be in a band and want to get somewhere, you really have to explore every avenue. If you want to get somewhere, you can’t really, be one of those bands that say they won’t play live or do any music videos and only release the demo on tape etc
B; It can also help connect band with the message in their songs, tying it all together.
V; Yeah that does help, like bringing out the theme of the song and the story-lines.
Can you guys give any hints to the theme of the upcoming album release?
B; [Laughs] Well, no. We can’t give anything away really, but it will still be rooted in the medieval era. The ‘Agents Of Satan’ EP is already a hint, thematically of where we’re taking it, musically.
V; Without giving too much away, it’s going to be between 6 and 10 events centred around 1 central thing and that it’s going to be rooted in medieval times, again. In fact, tonight we’ll be playing one of the new songs. It’s the first outing of the track, and it’ll be 2nd from last on our set.
Well, the first band is about to go on, so thanks for your time this evening and good luck with tonight!
Thank you! [Hands us a beer from their fridge!]