The German cultband Secrets Of The Moon release their album “Seven Bells” in March 2012. The album is dark. As you could read in the review back in February. S.G. has spoken to Imhotep on several occasions, and these interviews are from 2002 up to date. Let darkness surround us.
Look for originality, and you most probably have to search for quite some time. Especially in the underground metal scene, because it could be that most bands try to maintain success by copying bigger bands. At least that’s what the media claims. No matter, Secrets Of The Moon are probably just what the name says, a secret. But no more, because such a band can’t be kept a secret for a long time because their music demands more. It’s underground black metal which you haven’t heard before, totally dark black metal.
Hailz and congratulations on the CD release of “Stronghold of the Inviolables”! How does it feel to have this released on this format via Red Stream/Cicatrix, and how have they and Sombre Records (who published the vinyl!!) been to the band?
“Yeah, we are very satisfied with the words of both labels Red Stream and Sombre Records. Both labels did a fantastic job and spread the propaganda far! The vinyl version is for a long time sold out now, but a picture LP version will follow in about one month, I think.”
How does the entity of Secrets Of The Moon differ from Martyrium and the “Lux Occulta” album you released on Merciless years back? How did the beginnings of the formation of this cult arise from the ashes of Martyrium?
“Daevas and our former guitarist were active in Martyrium for a long time. When Martyrium quit, they started to work on a new concept and let Secrets Of The Moon arise from the ashes of their former band. Martyrium was a very strong cult back then. They were the first neo-Black Metal band hailing from Germany. They live on in the minds of the ancient ones! It's 2002 now.”
The sound on “Stronghold…” is raw, dark, and fucking hollow sounding. It captures a very occult atmosphere, truly a must for your style of music, I think. What was the recording process like? Was there a ritualistic atmosphere to the recordings? Do you think arrangement in the studio, such as darkness, candlelight, magick, etc, is especially important to the outcome of an album?
“Yes, when we recorded the album we were surrounded by blackness, not by light. Most guitarparts were recorded by night in candlelight, as well as the vocals. There was a very ritualistic atmosphere, especially while mixing the album. We were occupied with many occult/satanic topics while recording as well as reading underground literature from the early 90s, tons of fanzines, remembering old bands and catch up the old feeling again. All that helped us to make those recordings a very special, dark, and intense one. The most intense feeling is the remembrances in our minds.”
There is also an element of old school death/Heavy Metal in tracks like “Praise the Kaos”, especially around the 5 minute mark when the solo and heavy break-riff comes in. Very dark! Do these bands like Possessed and Celtic Frost also pose (in addition to Black Metal) as an important stone in the “Stronghold…” of Secrets Of The Moon?
“Yes! Celtic Frost had a huge influence. Absolutely! But I think with our new songs this influence is gone, as the new songs differ very much from the old material. Many people might be surprised.”
You have chosen what I’d say is underground music; meaning that the sound is raw and unclean, and your music, in its originality, is not commercial in any sense, if metal music can be commercial at all. Do you really think the people who’ll listen to your music could be capable of understand your philosophy the way you try to present it? I mean, don’t we normally expect teenagers to listen to such music as underground black metal? Or, could it be that the people who were 15-20 ten years ago have evolved?
“Interesting question. Well, I think it’s both. Actually we have quite a strong horde of supporters here in Germany who can really occupy with what we are doing. But I think it is more musically than they are interested in the background of the music. I think people just notice that Secrets Of The Moon are original in our approach and that there’s more behind it than in most other bands nowadays. And finally on stage they are able to see and feel the attitude and the aura surrounding us. But I would like to add that age is not important to me. Of course we have young listeners who even grow up with the underground and with our music. It’s great to hear that they are proud of having our vinyls in their collection and identify themselves with what we are doing. On the other hand there are lot of older people which get to like our style.”
Despite the raw sound, your music is pretty clear if we think of the musical structures and the melodies in certain songs, like the “Inverted Kaos Principles” with its war-drumming and rather melodic solo. When you write your music, do you consciously think ‘this and that’ has to fit into the metal style, or do you simply construct the songs without any thoughts like this? How do your songs develop?
“It is like that: When I am home and put my Guitar in my hands to write new riffs and structures for a song, there’s a motive behind it. That means that something has to move me before I play. And when it comes I already know how the song will sound finally. It’s like enlightenment. Also I even compose many melodies on acoustic guitar (which I play most of my day) and on keyboards before I reveal them on E-Guitar. When we are rehearsing we build up the song and everybody bring his note in it with the drumming, the breaks and the bass lines. For the second album “Carved In Stigmata Wounds” we created 72 minutes of music, which means that all the songs on it are 8 to 15 minutes long. It was a very satisfying work. But as it was for “Stronghold of the Inviolables” it was with the second album: I have a general basic atmosphere in my mind that should be part of the whole album. That’s my way of composing. The second album is much more technical and the sound is clear and strong, recorded in a huge German studio. “Stronghold of the Inviolables” is the pure opposite but there is the Secrets Of The Moon-stamp on it. I think people will notice that.”
To say that your music is trendy, lacks originality and sounds like every other band would be the biggest lie since somebody smart enough told the human sheep that God invented our Earth. Is originality a goal in itself to Secrets Of The Moon? The way I see it, your originality origins from a desire to be a band incomparable to others, as well as destroying all conversions in underground black metal and creating your own. In my opinion, some parts are obvious comparable to some Mayhem, other to some Carpathian Forest, but still I don’t think of any other band when I listen to “Stronghold Of The Inviolables”. How has reactions been towards the album and your music?
“No, it has never been a goal to be a band incomparable to anything before. Everyone has influences and so have we. We are just searching for musical brilliance and we try to put as much personality in our music as we can. Secrets Of The Moon are about spirituality, everything that we are doing come straight from the heart. There are no false emotions in it. Maybe that is what makes the band so outstanding. I think it’s the same in Imhotep. You don’t seem to just interview bands that are big enough to sell your copies within a week. Otherwise you would never feature an interview with a band like us. You just feature what you like and what you feel related to. And so we bring in what we feel related to. The reactions on “Stronghold Of The Inviolables” were surprisingly good to excellent. You should have in mind that we never thought of ever releasing it on CD-format when we recorded it because it just sounded too harsh and raw. Interesting thing was that the press mostly spoke of a great newcomer band but we don’t really feel like being newcomers. Secrets Of The Moon have been around since 1995 and we released many demos and vinyl items constantly, so what the fuck is a newcomer?”
After 3.45 minutes in the track “Nemesis” I travel musically back to the mid/late 80’s. I guess you know why? One thing I, as a non-musician, wonder about is when you write your music, do you think of the listener? Like as: “oh yeah, this is great. I’m sure Roy will love this part”! In other words, where is your focus when you create your songs?
“You travel back to the mid/late 80‘s and I know why? No, of course! Why should I? It’s 2003! (Yes, but that super riff brought me back to the 80’s in mind, when thrash metal was the best – ED) But to answer your question, we don’t think of the listeners. Never! We just don’t care about them. Otherwise we better never have recorded “Carved In Stigmata Wounds”. All the underground-sound fanatics expect another album in a raw and traditional sense. Maybe they will be very disappointed when listening to it. But we are not and we will always do what we feel like. I am really looking forward to the reactions.”
How did the tour dates go with Godless North and Krieg over in Europe? Any crazy gig stories? Do Secrets Of The Moon play out often, and if so, with whom? What have been some of your best/favourite or worst gigs?
“The tour was a great success. To tell all the stories of the tour here would be too much here definitely, but let me tell you that there are many crazy stories. We have to thank Akhenaten again for giving us the opportunity to support this glorious tour, which became an important part of the history of Black Metal in Germany. Secrets Of The Moon played up to 30 gigs till now (not sure about the exact number) with acts like Desaster, Pentacle, Warloghe, Root, Nifelheim, Deströyer 666, Vomitor, Arkhon Infaustus, and many others. I can't tell you what has been our worst gig. There were some concerts where the feeling on stage wasn't the best, but still the audience liked the show, so we haven't played any real bad concerts yet, which brought us a very good live statute in Germany and elsewhere.”
Would you say the lyrics are pivotal to achieving the occult, ritualistic atmosphere that is Secrets Of The Moon? They seem very metaphorical in nature. Is it important to Secrets Of The Moon lyrics to possesses that cryptic aura?
“The lyrics deal a lot with occult phenomena and experiences, and the way I feel connected with different (non-) systems of magick and its guiding principles. The lyrics are a reflection of my inner self, as they are mostly of a very personal character. Simply said, I try to catch my emotions, thoughts, and experiences in words, which is not that easy to reconstruct for most people when reading it. They are very metaphorical in nature, yes...! The lyrics are as important as the music!”
Could you, since the concept of “Stronghold Of The Inviolabels” is based upon a story of creation: destroy to create, tell me why you need to destroy to create? And equally important, what is it that you have to destroy? Do you think we can only truly obtain freedom through complete and utter obliteration?
“Well, first of all I have to note here that “Stronghold Of The Inviolables” is the first part of a trilogy. I was still unsure to reveal it when I wrote the liner-notes for the CD booklet. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to do this trilogy because lyrically it would be difficult to reconstruct. But when I started to write the lyrics for the second part I soon realized that I could not do anything else than to continue the story. At least you find a small introduction in the picture LP version of “Stronghold Of The Inviolables” which has been released some while ago. So in a short way, the inviolables are humans that withstand religious dictatorship, shoving away principles and morals of society and finally are able to re-release lost strengths and powers. They rebuild the mutilated form of being. So, the described destruction means the destruction of barriers and false powers which impede men from development and evolution. Destruction of all things that were.
The album as a whole deals the topic ‘Destroy to create’. To erase old principles and standards, to destroy the laws that try to lead you and try to influence you, to break out of the moral imaginations of this sick and perverted/inverted world. We are here to change the current situation!!! The album should be a musical key to those hidden imaginations, not lost yet.”
Cornelius of Solefald said in the interview for Imhotep #7: “I think it's bullshit to criticize what people have done before me. They have done what they thought to be the best. I think that a band who are made solely to be anti-something which has been done before, cannot be very interesting”. Instead of the focus on what you have to destroy I ask you what you want to create? What kind of freedom is it that you search for?
“At first I have to say that I endorse to your opinions. But you should always have in mind that there’s stagnation within the metal scene. There are no bands that bring something fresh or new. I think nowadays bands should follow both ways. At least that’s what we are doing: Building up our very own concept, our very own forms of expressions and an identity, but on the other hand to be faithful to roots and values. In my opinion bands like Satyricon or Nile are the best representatives of working in this way. So we do not search for freedom but for identity.”
What exactly is the Clavis Imperial? I notice that the layout was done by ‘Imperious Clavicle, in co-operation with Clavis Imperial. What is this connection?
“Well, let's leave it like that: Clavis Imperial is a generic term of artistic creation. It's no individual person. There are some people working under the banner of Clavis Imperial. Clavis Imperial is extremism combined with creativity.”
What would you personally like the audience to experience from your music? Would you say Secrets Of The Moon music might be ideal for the performance of certain rituals, torture, etc? “Moonstruck” and “The Rite of Mercury” especially have this very soulless, black, magickal feel. The guitar solo in “Moonstruck” is also in exactly at the right point in the song to emphasize this.
“The true meaning of the “Stronghold Of The Inviolables” can be discovered only when an individual person becomes one with the album and with the lyrical expressions. I want the listener to read between the lines. I don't want them to buy the album, have one short listen, and then have another nice cool item in their CD collection, but that's the way many people do. “Stronghold…” should be experienced in total blackness and on a very high volume level. I want the people to dive into a very different state of mind, to get lost in their thoughts and to experience the world we tried to express on "Stronghold…".
Much to my irritation the lyrics of “Moonstruck” is in German. And since I can’t understand German these days, and don’t have the time to learn it the next half a year, I ask you to explain a bit about the final track on the album, so that I can try to understand the whole (in my own way)?
“ “Moonstruck” was not written by me but by an old friend of us, so I can not give you an exact meaning. The song deals with possession and the longing for obedience and total devotion. That’s why it became a part of the album and incorporates into the lyrical concept. Ihm werde ich immer gehören...
Ok, I believe that's all I have for today, man. Thanks very much for your time in answering these questions, I appreciate it! Anything you wish to add, please do so here! Thanks again, and best of luck to you!
“Yes, thanks a lot to you for preparing these strong questions. I hate those standard interviews, but this one was a pretty good one! I have to apologize for my short answers, but time doesn't stand still at the moment so I had to keep this short, unfortunately! ALL HAIL THE NEW AEON!”
Composed by MetalGeorge and Roy Kristensen