Insanity put into paper and atmospheres. Atmosphere created by wicked songs and structures that do not give you relaxation, but rather keeps you wide awake afraid to loose a single detail. Details are everywhere. You just have to patient and search. And you will find. Imhotep's Roy Kristensen found Christof Niederwieser, who has done it all on the band's amazing journey "PhantasmaChronica".
Before we reach the present, let's dwell a little bit with the past. Korova and KorovaKill. Looking back on the weirdness, those twisted turns... How do you view those albums, knowing that people were not ready for such twisted music as you did with "Dead Like An Angel"?
"On one side I connect the years of Korova/KorovaKill (1990 – 2001) with many positive memories of magic inspiration and a juvenile urge to cross all frontiers, to reach new and undiscovered musical realms. It was a real adventure. The Black Metal scene made its first child steps. Many bands were open for experiments and nobody knew where it all would develop to. On the other side the first years felt a bit like Charlton Heston landing on the planet of the apes. Concert hall emptied rapidly when we started to play. Media reviews were bad or not at all. But we also found many good friends and great supporters in that time.
Still I fully stand behind the first two albums “A Kiss in the Charnel Fields” and “Dead like an Angel”. The sound may suffer from the low studio budgets. But the songwriting and the ideas were already on eye height with everything that came afterwards.
With “WaterHells” we finally were able to make a happy end. We had a good studio budget and a fantastic producer. Everything sounded the way it was planned. And press response was pretty good. So we finally were able to close this chapter with a good feeling."
To have made, and still on the right course, weird music that most likely made completely sense to you, but that alienated most potential listeners in days when Nordic black metal still was the thing, did probably result into the long pause since "WaterHells". When I think of KorovaKill I basically see only very few bands in the same box, same huge box. Did you ever feel that somebody understood what you were trying to do? I mean, you kind of didn't really know what was coming next. Another prime example of sick music is what Solefald did on their "Neonism"...
"You’re right that the major part of the scene was quite alienated by our work. But there also was a couple of people who loved our albums. And sales were okay for a niche band like us. There were several other reasons for the 10 years break after “WaterHells”.
Our drummer Moritz Neuner got more and more successful with his other bands and projects (Dornenreich, Atrocity, Leave’s Eyes, Abigor, Graveworm etc.). So his attention shifted to these acts. Renaud Tschirner restarted Elend, which is everything else than a half-time job. Each Elend album means lifting mountains with bare hands to build eternal monuments. So it was clear that he’ll completely disappear from this planet for many moons.
And my interest shifted from music to scientific research. In 2002 I published my first book. Then I moved from Tyrol to Berlin to start my PhD studies. So it was a natural process. With “WaterHells” KorovaKill was completed and ended."
What have you done musically the last ten years, if anything at all?
"In 2005 I started to build up my own studio. I was fascinated by the huge possibilities that new recording technologies offered. So I wanted to fulfil my childhood dream to produce albums completely by myself. Since then I recorded nearly 100 songs, some finished, some half-finished, some fragments. This was an important period to learn the craftsmanship of recording and producing, to experiment with the tools, to play with new ideas and approaches.
In 2010 I decided to stop these experiments and fully concentrate on the finalization of “PhantasmaChronica”. So “PhantasmaChronica” is only a first small insight into all the work of the last ten years..."
And now, transforming into Chryst. I assume that most will ask for an explanation, so allow me to be like most here. Why Chryst? I am speaking of the name here...
"Chryst is a deconstruction of the occident. It could have been any other symbol, any other archetype from the collective consciousness. But Chryst is one of the most known in the world culture of these centuries. Hence he is a perfect vehicle for a postmodernistic deconstruction. All the pictures and myths connected with him are dissected into molecules and then built up again completely anew. He was carved in stone for so long. Satanists only inverted him, but still he remained the same. Nothing to think, only ideology and counter-ideology, rigid mental structures.
Deconstruction has one major goal: to crush these rigid mental structures, to burn holes into the walls of your brain, to dissolve the limits of thoughts and hence to extend your consciousness. Former thought patterns don’t work anymore. You have to start to think. You have to find a new meaning by yourself.
It could have been any famous figure of the collective consciousness. But Chryst also has another important facet: He provokes, disturbs and confuses Christians as well as Anti-Christians, good bourgeoisies as well as evil metalheads."
An album that some may understand, but do you really think there's room for something that's far from being fast-food metal today, where everybody wants to hear the bands' music even before the bands themselves have written anything?
"The room is small indeed. But no matter how small it gets, there always will be place for a fly, or at least a grain of sand, or at least a molecule or an atom. And even an atom has some electrons that rotate around it, mesmerized and enthralled. Of course the elephant in the skyscraper won’t care about it. Nor will the electrons care about the elephant..."
"PhantasmaChronica" has recently been released. The first resemblance that comes to mind is Devin Townsend and his insanity on the amazing "Deconstruction" album, like it or like it not. The second is..., well, KorovaKill's "Dead Like An Angel". And as every journalist ask, be it sports, music or whatnot, I also ask: How do you feel [with it being released, this strange journey named "PhantasmaChronica"] ?
"I feel very glad and relieved that this huge work finally is completed after all these years, all the countless nightshifts, all the battles against permanent interrupts. It definitely was my most intense and complex work so far, and the one under the most difficult circumstances.
I am not that kind of guy who claims: “Well, this is absolutely the best album we’ve ever done” whenever a new album is released. I see “PhantasmaChronica” as an important new column of my work. It puts all the Korova/KorovaKill albums into a new context, a bigger picture.
It’s not my personal interest to draw comparisons. This is the job of journalists and people who can see it from “outside”. Anyway I take the comparison to Devin Townsend as a big compliment, Roy. Devin definitely is one of the most magnificent and mind-blowing artists of the whole metal scene."
I think that you've spent more than a couple of months on the album, doing everything by yourself. How do you secure the quality in the sense that it's easy to become blind to your own "mistakes"? I guess you know exactly what you want, but still there's a process going on, so how do you write the album and bring the bits'n'pieces together in the end?
"Yes, all in all “PhantasmaChronica” took 5 years from the first riffs until completion. The mixing and mastering alone took more than 4 months. This doesn’t mean that I’ve sat in the studio all days from the morning to the evening. There have been many breaks, sometimes a couple of days, sometimes a couple of weeks or even months.
This was also the best way to “secure the quality”. After a longer break you hear everything with a distance, with new ears. One human being in two different points of time becomes two different persons. And one human being in hundred different points of time becomes a hundred different persons with different views, attitudes and perceptions. Many regular breaks helped me to split into this gang of hundreds of different personalities – the crazy artist with chaotic ideas, the structured arranger, the automatic writer in trance, the strict producer, the poet under the tree, the guitar guy etc. All these personalities worked together very well. And whenever one of them ran out of power another one came in freshly to continue on another level, on another part of the construction site – until one day the castle was finished.
Another important support was Renaud Tschirner (Elend, KorovaKill). He regularly gave me feedback during the whole production and did large parts of the mastering in his own “The Tidefall Mastering Studio”. This was a big help as he is an expert in balancing hard and mighty metal sound with the subtility of complex arrangements. This gave the final boost to “PhantasmaChronica”.
Composed by Roy Kristensen