Nocturnal Graves – Mark of the Adversary

downloadAs 2013 came to a close, I began to feel that the constant influx of new black and death metal albums heading my way were beginning to run together; I needed a change, something to remove the stifling air of what are typically my two favorite genres of extreme music. Nocturnal Graves latest album, …From The Bloodline of Cain was sent my way, and its smorgasbord of early ’80s thrash/death riffery fully cleansed my reviewer pallet and pummeled its way to place itself amongst last year’s underground metal-best. We exchanged electronic words with Nocturnal Graves head honcho and mastermind Jarro to gain a little insight into the album and the man himself. Read on! -Jim

Congratulations on the excellent new Nocturnal Graves album, Jarro, and thanks for giving us your thoughts and responses on this interview!
…From the Bloodline of Cain easily took a spot on my End of 2013 list, with it’s punishing black thrash riff assault and searing vokill delivery. Aside from being a prime example of the Australian Extreme Metal scene – one of the most revered in existence – Nocturnal Graves has found a comfortable home on the American Hells Headbangers label, alongside other bands from the region. How did the relationship with this Ohioan institution come about, and how has this symbiosis contributed to the growth of the band? How does working with Hells Headbangers differ from working with Nuclear War Now! as you did on your previous releases?

Thanks for your words about the album! Before the band went on hiatus in 2010 we had come to an agreement for Hells Headbangers to release what would have been our second album, and I have been in contact with Hells since their first releases. Working with them has been a lot better than working with NWN. They get things done quickly without endless delays and they handle a lot of promotion etc so it makes things a lot easier overall.

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On Satan’s Cross, you laid down the guitar, drums, and vocal tracks, but on this album, guitars were handled by Decaylust of Denouncement Pyre alongside the great Shrapnel of Deströyer 666, with drums handled by L. Wilson (also of Denouncement Pyre). Will this remain the permanent Nocturnal Graves lineup, or was it your intention to summon the hordes only for this album and tour cycle? How have the crowds on Mayhem’s 30th Anniversary tour responded to your new members and material?

Actually, your information isn’t correct. On Satans Cross I laid down drums and vocals. On “…From the Bloodline of Cain” I laid down bass, vocals and rhythm guitars whilst Shrapnel and Decaylust handled the leads, and L. Wilson drums. This will remain the line-up as long as the others choose to continue. The crowds for the Mayhem gigs were generally very good and we got a killer response for the opening slot… We played to a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t go to a Nocturnal Graves gig which was good for us on many levels.

The Satanic intensity remains an unstoppable force on both records, but the riff flow and evolved sound on …From the Bloodline of Cain gives the album it’s own character, and demands a start-to-finish listen. In what ways did the new lineup aid in the writing and recording process? Conversely, did their presence make completing the record difficult for you in any way, or did the fact that you have shared stage and studio together in the past mitigate any potential conflicts?

Basically, I wrote the material and recorded demos then we got together and worked on the arrangements until the songs were done, so it was really good to get input from the others. There were no conflicts at all and writing the album under these circumstances was easily the best musical situation I’ve been in so far. We all approached the songs with an open mind in that all ideas were welcome and would be tried but not necessarily used. No one is suffering from a weak ego so there were no arguments when ideas were thrown in the trash.

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In the wrong hands, thrash metal in the present era can come across dated and bland. Fortunately, the blackened thrash of Nocturnal Graves is anything but, flowing as it does with Satanic ferocity and unorthodox composition. How have you kept the thrash element of the band sounding so powerful and relevant? What bands/albums of the style from the early to mid-’80s still inspire you today, and what current black/thrash bands have your attention?

I really didn’t think about that kind of thing when writing the album. I just wrote what was inside of me and it turned out how it turned out. The only preconceived idea behind the songs was that we all wanted the album to be as wild and vicious as possible. As for influences, all the usual stuff like Slayer, Possessed, Kreator, Sarcofago etc etc but like I said, I really wasn’t thinking about all that kind of thing when writing. As for current bands in that style there’s not many that I am listening to… Force of Darkness and Hades Archer from Chile kick ass, and I just listened to a band called Slutvomit which was pretty good. I haven’t been keeping up with much current stuff for a few years now though.

Nocturnal Graves’s relation to darkness as part of its expression of evil is vital; on ‘The Great Adversary’ off of the new album, the admonitions that begin Father Cain, we call upon you… never fail to raise hackles on the back of my neck upon each listen. How important to you is it to articulate occult concepts through music, and how did the idea to convey that message in the name of the world’s first murderer come about?

It’s very important. The whole lyrical concept of the album is a homage to the Luciferian Spirit, to the Adversary and the one who questions all. That lyric you quoted sums up why the concept of Cain was used.

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Do you find there are personal, daily life applications to occult study, or would you consider such study to only be of scientific or historical interest? What texts would you recommend to someone harboring a passion to learn the deeper inspirations/motivations lurking behind dark music such as your own?

There definitely are and for me it comes down to awareness of what is going on around ones self. There would be no point in studying the Occult if I were not to apply and discover things for myself in the real world. This is not some bedroom fantasy that I am playing with but a real and workable force that is forever weaving its way through the waking world. Look within, come to know your true inner self and release your will upon the earth.

Metal’s popularity in general has grown with the proliferation of internet access worldwide. Do you feel that the availability of music and musical knowledge has positively or negatively impacted the average metal fan’s level of dedication to the underground? What can be done to ensure the passion of the die-hards for the future?

There are both positive and negative sides. Positive because it’s easy to get things out to the masses, negative because it breeds a real fast food kind of mentality. People merely scratch the surface with most things these days and do not allow themselves the time to truly absorb. People with a die-hard attitude don’t need saving though, it’s in their blood. They will fight for and keep their passions alive regardless.

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Shrapnel and yourself have been in the extreme metal scene since the ’90s. What are the differences between your experiences in the current extreme metal environment versus those of your past? Have the tasks involved in accomplishing your musical goals become easier or more difficult?

The main thing I have seen change in Australia is the passion that people once had. That has diminished and new fans have a much more laid back approach towards music. There are of course die-hard maniacs who are still as wild for this stuff as they ever were, but they definitely aren’t the majority. Things are easier now with regards to accomplishing musical goals, but that may not be due to anything more than experience and knowing how to get what we want.

Between Impious Baptism (in which you handle all roles), Coffin Lust (in which only one other member takes part) and of course Nocturnal Graves, you remain extremely busy creating and sharing your art, and take effort to separate each group’s distinctive sounds. Do you put yourself into a certain head space when composing music for each individual project, or do ideas and riffs come to you unbidden, and then you separate them for use in the appropriate band later?

I do put myself into a different head space. I like to work on one project at a time, so I can get absorbed totally into the atmosphere of that particular band and just let what is there start flowing outward. I’ve found this approach to be the one that works best and allows the bands their own identities which is very important to me.

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You had put Nocturnal Graves on hold briefly, but now that it is in full swing once again, does the full-on collaborative effort form of Nocturnal Graves take precedence over your other ongoing projects?

I cannot say it does.The other bands I am part of don’t play live so we don’t have conflicts in that regard, so it’s just a matter of balancing responsibilities which isn’t a major task.

What do you envision for the future of Nocturnal Graves?

We are going to start working on new material in the next few weeks, as there are a lot of ideas flowing since writing the album. The idea of touring Europe again is one that is being discussed also.

Thank you for the time and effort put in answering our questions, Jarro. As is the tradition here at Worm Gear, the final word is yours; feel free to pontificate and/or plug!

Thank you for the interview. To those interested in Nocturnal Graves you can order our new album …From the Bloodline of Cain through Hells Headbangers Records. You can also buy exclusive Nocturnal Graves merch through our webstore http://www.freewebstore.org/utsrecordsandmerch.

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~ by cliftonium on January 22, 2014.

3 Responses to “Nocturnal Graves – Mark of the Adversary”

  1. Definitely one of my favorite albums from last year. I hope more people hear it, I don’t think it got all the notice it deserves.

  2. Agreed \m/ Hopefully that Mayhem tour helped them. Their new record is meticulously-executed thrash glory!

  3. I just heard this album for the first time a couple weeks ago and really liked it. Very well done! It definitely would have made my 2013 list had I heard it sooner. I agree with UA that it might be a little overlooked, which I almost did myself.

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