Thralldom – Interview

int_thralldom_hedFor the uninitiated, New York City’s Thralldom could very well be the new hope for black metal… not necessarily limited to just the American contingent, but the entire genre, the world over. The conviction found on Beast Eye Opened to the Sky is a heaven charring experience where mordantly organic songs somehow embrace the Darkthrone meets Hellhammer aesthetic of agonizing purity, cut with experimental noise to arrive at a truly original sound. Thralldom are the type of band that erupt out of nowhere with an attack so completely destructive and inspired, it leaves many others working within the same genre in awe with “why didn’t we think of that” poised at the tip of their tongues. I see Beast Eye as the blue print for even more open minded growth as this band continues to sacrifice their influences for the greater good of creating something inherently evil and exciting… 2 elements that have sadly fallen into decay in the black metal genre. The following salvo of questions found their mark via the Internet with main visionary and founding member, Killusion where he divulges more insight into the torturous rituals of Thralldom and his other noteworthy band, Unearthly Trance. – Marty

Worm Gear: Please explain the evolution of Thralldom before settling on a caustic form of black metal. According to the bio information, doom elements were found at the onset, and then you adopted more of a technical edge to reside in your sound. Why were your earlier works so minimally distributed? Would you say the members of this current line-up had a hand in the bands creative growth?

Killusion: Originally Thralldom was practically a selfish endeavor. We made recordings and enjoyed them to ourselves. There was almost no effort in getting our musick out there. The third Thralldom demo (2 songs) was all doom. In fact one song “Crown of the Unearthly Trance” influenced the band Unearthly Trance to form in a sense. The growth came out of new flame that was ignited when we re-formed after 2000. I think the break made Jaldagar and I realize what we had and what the future could hold for Thralldom.

WG: “Beast Eye Opened to the Sky” was an eye opening experience for me, for it truly is a rare thing in this genre for a band to strike out on their own to create their own definitive sound. Was combining raw black metal with experimental music ideas a conscious decision?

K: Absolutely. Black Metal to me is almost as closed minded as hardcore. Almost all bands sound the same, follow the same formula and have the same aesthetics. We wanted to at least take a stab at creating something different and unique.

WG: How extensive is the members of Thralldom’s interest in other musical styles? How much of a part do these influences play in sculpting the finished product? Could you see even more of this harsh medium entering your style in the future?

K: The thing with Thralldom is it is a totally spontaneous unit. We write songs in one session, usually rehearse once or twice and then begin to lay down the songs in the RedRoom Lair. The harsh noise aspect that we bring into the mix is something all members are interested in and actively pursue under different monikers. So depended on how we feel at the given moment the noise could be overwhelming or serve as an eerie backdrop. Spontaneous black art has no rules.

int_thralldom_picWG: Such an open-minded gathering of musical ideas is often looked down upon by the black metal elite. Has Thralldom unearthed enough sinister crust with their music to silence the snobs? Is this even a concern?

K: Fuck those losers. We have more talent and conviction than most of these panda-faced followers. Can a sheep truly be intimidating? I think not. Thralldom is NOT a black metal band solely on the basis that we choose not to associate with people who are more concerned with sounding like shit than an actual art-form.

WG: What are your thoughts on the “opinionated” status of the scene? To me, the negatives of the Internet can sometimes outweigh the positive aspects. Communication between the fans in general has deteriorated to insults and one-upmanship…

K: I say if someone wanted to talk shit about me- KILLUSION, come find me face to face, see what I am about, question me about my knowledge… The occult is something that I take very seriously and I dare anyone challenge my will. The scene is shit and that is great to me because it certainly doesn’t take much to stand out. Of course communicating though the Internet makes life easier and more prompt but Thralldom is a band of outsiders hell bent on staying outside. We don’t want to belong to the “club”.

WG: The lyrical concepts on “Beast Eye…” inspire a violent, yet poetic glimpse into satanic affirmation. How much of a part are your ideologies in the inner workings of Thralldom? Living in New York City, do you think the pace and raw aggression this environment can have, has influenced your views spiritually or socially? Is Thralldom a release valve for these ideas?

K: New York is a cut-throat place. No question about it. I’ve become quite the cynical and hateful bastard growing up here. At the same time I think its great because New Yorkers almost have a stronger sense of things and are almost more aware of their surroundings compared to people who live in a quiet, slow-minded place. The violence and hatred is just me. I’ve had these feelings since I was child and perhaps this band is a brutally honest reflection of how I really feel on my worst/best days. Depending on how you view a staunch Luciferian.

WG: “Beast Eye…” possesses a very warm, analog tone to me that seems to suit the music you have created perfectly. Is there a preference for you when holing up to finally commit new music to a recording source? Convenience or affordability? Would you agree that there is a certain “sound” this style of music should uphold, to try and deviate from that over produced, perfect/sterile pro tools sound?

K: Well its all about experience and tone. Beast-Eye was actually recorded on very good, state of the art equipment. I don’t think Pro Tools is necessarily a bad thing. Good technology makes things faster and easier when you are trying to capture the raw atmosphere. We are a band that records with one-take and we like to leave things naturally. I think there is an obsession with people to try to perfect things and remove the “imperfect” elements from recordings. We on the other hand try to enhance the ugliness and use the technology to our advantage. Sterile sounds come from sterile minds. Thralldom records ALL of our own musick in our own studio. I think this is a huge advantage over bands who bring their music to a random studio hoping for the right results.

WG: Explain to me your views regarding the trends, visuals and promotional clichés of black metal circa 2004. Spikes, corpse paint and the typically extreme jargon is still preached to the already converted. I’m curious of your outlook, since the artwork of both the 7″ and the CD/LP to me is setting a more unique standard by avoiding the rehashed design/visuals often employed by this genre.

int_thralldom_pic2K: Thank you. That is what we wanted. Thralldom is not a band of followers. These trends are of course cool in a sense (nostalgic) but ultimately it’s totally over-done and dead. Its scary how many bands follow the same ‘rules’ to try and get accepted. In the early 90’s those things actually made an impact on me because it was bold and different but not now …haha… give me a fucking break! These carbon copiers should actually study black magick not just pretend. Thralldoms visuals represent the nightmares that our musick reflects. Its important to me to give the listener something that is equally stimulating and representative to look at while listening to the musick.

WG: Unearthly Trance have been described to me as a very ambitious union of dirge like doom and experimental music. Knowing that you are a member of this band, how would you compare U.T.’s style to Thralldom? Are there similarities? Would Unearthly Trance be a glimpse into Thralldom’s earlier works?

K: Both bands are projects that I spearhead. Unearthly Trance focused on minimalism, discipline and structure. Thralldom is much faster and has a more ‘anything goes’ attitude. All songs by both bands are mainly written by me and I think it’s just that I like the slow shit and I like the fast shit. UT is a beast all to its own and works with 2 other members who have the same vision to conquer. Thralldom is just a cult that loosely operates whenever we want.

WG: What sort of satisfaction do you obtain from working with both musical entities?

K: I have many projects and I feel that if I can write musick in different contexts it makes it more exciting and challenging for me as an artist.

WG: When writing music, how do you discern what ideas fit better with which band? Do you write with a different mindset for Unearthly Trance in the hopes to keep Thralldom a pure and more abrasive outlet for your creativity?

K: Unearthly is much more rock based beats with doom riffing and ritualistic execution. Two totally different things and two totally different drummers. Even if I brought the same riff to both drummers, the outcome would be totally unique to each project.

WG: I have yet to hear of any Thralldom shows, but have noticed that Unearthly Trance have had several busy years with playing live. How is this form of music, along with black metal, received in New York? Is there yet a hunger by the fans for this style of music? Are there different parts of the country that seemed more aligned with the sounds created by U.T.?

K: In NY people like the ugly, raw stuff. I’ve been seeing sick shows my whole life in NYC and I appreciate that. I think Unearthly Trance is a very NY band and we do pretty well here. After touring quite a bit, I would say UT does very well in Providence, Chicago, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Portland… a lot of places actually. As for Black Metal, there isn’t much as the way of shows here, some die hards appreciate it, but for the most part it’s still very UG and that is fine with me. Thralldom DOES NOT play live shows. We have no interest in that and we are strictly a band that lives in the studio.

WG: What music has been in current rotation in your house lately?

K: Celtic Frost “Morbid Tales” (this record is a religion to me haha)
Witchcraft (great new doom-rock band on Rise Above that sounds right out of the early 70’s)
Electric Wizard “We Live”(they are back in heavier than ever)
War “Total War”
Deathpile “G.R.”
Melvin’s ALL
Darkthrone ALL
Deadboy and the Elephantmen
Outlaw Order 7″
Burning Witch
I rarely buy anything new these daze…

WG: Thank you Killusion for taking the time to sift through these questions. We eagerly await the next summoning from the Thralldom encampment. The final words are yours…

K: God is to live in the Dog, Live in Evil.

~ by scottsplatter on January 3, 2009.

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