Music is a universal language, but Metal is a code – some would even go so far as to say, “religion.”
We know of our American, British, and Norwegian roots and we have lovingly embraced the Swedish and Finnish influx, as well as our Metallers in South America. But, the reigns in Spain have hardly touched the plains…
Enter Noctem: unmistakably Black Metal, unquestionably ‘trve,’ but also unique in the sense that they use the elements of the past to desecrate the present, beyond theatrics.
Listening to their 2016 release, Haeresis, from Prosthetic Records is a synesthetic experience that most “atmospheric” artists all too often try too desperately to achieve. Channeling the angst, injustice, horror, and pain of their country’s history, Noctem breaks the code against human oppression through a majestic, rageful, yet beautiful grotesqueness.
Beleth, Noctem’s vocalist, gave T. Ray Verteramo a special glimpse into their phantasmic formula and their special place in the Metal community-at-large.
TBS: Your latest release, Haeresis, has a very distinct connection to your Spanish roots. Could you please explain what inspired you to take this approach? How much is your art influenced by your heritage?
Beleth: Actually I don’t think we left our roots to start a new path. The media and the said that our music is very influenced by our roots.
You can find a characteristic sound of our culture and folklore in it.
The tonalities, instrumentation and color given by instruments such as the Spanish acoustic guitars we have been using in some of our previous records, too.
Perhaps these elements were a little bit lost in the production of this record so it resulted in our album sounding closer to the Scandinavian sound, more raw and colder than in previous albums. To me it’s right, the compositions of the band continue sounding the same, but way darker.
Europe is totally full of Black Metal and Doom Metal bands clinging to the style, innovating very timidly on the lines that already marked the greats of the genre. It is obvious that innovating in excess on this genre is going to bring you lots of problems or haters, but this has never mattered to us. We have always believed necessary in a personal sound.
TBS: Haeresis could pass for a concept album. Was that the intention?
Beleth: Haeresis is an concept album indeed. It is based in one of the darkest periods in the Spanish history, the Inquisition; The barbarism in the auto da fe’s, torture, the figure of the Inquisitor, witchcraft, the power of the church and its corruption.
TBS: It is very clear that Noctem has some musical background – you can hear the skill. Are all of you classically or formally trained in some way? When did your passion for Extreme Metal begin and what made you go in that direction?
Beleth: I never went to any kind of singing class or anything like that but Exo took guitar lessons for years. But of course, I think that dedication and passion are vital on this.
I guess I started listening to bands like Bloodbath or Immortal. I cannot explain it and sincerely, I never thought about that. It was like I found my way into the music and this was darker and darker.
TBS: Do you think there is a true worldwide Metal community? What is the scene like in Spain today as opposed to when you were first starting out in 2001?
Beleth: For sure there is a worldwide Metal community, if not why are we here?
You and me I mean. Just take a look to the festivals, thousands of people coming to enjoy and support their favorite bands and discover new ones, people enjoy the atmosphere and every year new generations.
Metalheads support and make possible the life of this community. The last years have been hard for the Spanish scene. The crisis has caused a lot of damage to the economy and people continue supporting shows but in a more selective way.
TBS: There are so many Black Metal bands on the market today. Many are accused of using a “formula” for lack of musical skills and calling it “atmospheric.” Do you believe that Black Metal requires some kind of musical structure? What do you think of the newer bands as opposed to the older generations?
Beleth: Well this is what we talked about in the beginning of the interview. I’m nobody to review other bands. I have always unconditionally supported other bands of the genre.
I think Extreme Metal is a community in which there should be more support and less hate. Even so, I do not think Black Metal needs any kind of structure, just passion.
I think we always have to support the classics and of course never forget where the roots of the genre come from, on the other hand amazing bands are regenerating the scene and I think this is very good positive. I’m talking about bands like Batushka, Myrkur or Carach Angren.
TBS: Your touring resume is very impressive, sharing the stage with notable acts over a span of many countries. What was it like taking to the road so much, so quickly, in such a short period of time? What is the live show experience like for you and how much more do you plan to do for 2017?
Beleth: We worked with some remarkable agencies in Europe over the years and after some time we created very good relations with other bands, promoters and people related to the music business, this helped us a lot to spread the word about Noctem in a lot of countries and other continents like Asia.
We love tour life, it’s something we could be doing continuously, meeting new people, visiting new cities or places we’ve been through and meeting old friends, sometimes the conditions can be tough, but it’s the price to pay to do what you really want to do.
For this new year we will be attending some of the biggest Metal festivals in Spain such as Resurrection Fest or Legends of Rock, the plan is to continue presenting Haeresis worldwide.