The overall dark feeling of Gorath

Hey Gorath. First off, congratulations on the new album, MXCII. You guys have been delivering the black metal for basically ten years now. How's it feel to still be hammering out the notes since the late 90s?
All of us are active in the scene for about 15 years. We all played in several other (mainly) death metal bands. Back in the days black metal (as we know today) was rising and there wasn't really a scene for every genre. I listened to Blasphemy, My Dying Bride, Deicide, Rotting Christ or Anathema. Later on (Norwegian) black metal re-invented black metal and the fuss started. Gorath was something I did on my own when playing in a death metal band in the late nineties. In fact it was never serious untill the first official demo Haunting the December chords was put out in 2002. I think the biggest difference is the use of the internet. Tape trading and writing letters was done a lot back then. This part of the underground scene mostly disappeared since the coming of the world wide web.

For the new fans on the block (myself being one of them), tell us how Gorath got started. Where you took the name and why you decided to perform this kind of black metal?
Because of being in a death metal band when Gorath arose, there was the urge of doing something different. I really don't have a clue what's the origin of the name Gorath but it all resulted into that same project. Now I know there's also a Japanese cult movie about a Godzilla alike creature with the same name. But back in the days I didn't have internet and wasn't aware of that film. I listened a lot to older Scandinavian black metal, but lost my interest after the whole press exposure when count Grishnackh did you-know-what. It seemed like the black metal scene was full of children and attention whores. Years later when Satyricon released Volcano I felt that urge again and re-started with Gorath. For real this time.

Any influences you'd like to name that have driven you to go this far, metal or otherwise? Where do you dig up your inspirations?
Musically I'm not into black metal solely, but some sludge and post-rock shares my interest as well. I appreciate music when the whole package comes together. Music, lyrics and artwork should be as one. Some namedropping will be the best answer to your question: Deathspell Omega, Cult of Luna, Secets of the Moon, Tool, Agalloch, Amenra, Isis, Mono, Altar of Plagues,... Right now I'm listening to Uver's Perdition City. Around the mid nineties I've heard the old Ulver, Enslaved and Fleurety a zillion times! Great stuff as well.

So what's the black metal scene like in Belgium? Are the fans really wild there and are there lots of fellow acts you've shared the stage (and a few laughs) with?
There's no such thing as a Belgian scene. Just like the country the scene is divided into two parts. The northern Dutch speaking Flemish part and the sourthern French speaking Wallonian part. Even though Flemish and Walloon bands can get along together, we hardly mix bills. Later this year we will play in Wallonia with Infernal Kingdom and more black metal acts. It feels like doing a show in a foreign country. Just like any other West European country there are many underground shows every weekend. In fact there are too many shows. Because of that less visitors show up and they all get spoiled. Good thing is we can't complain; all bands pass in the neighbourhood when doing a tour. One of my favourite Belgian bands is Amenra who play very dark sludge-core (whatever). Our country might be little, but the quality sure is present. Torment and Serpentcult share my interest as well and also the black metal squadron Paragon Impure.

Do you feel that the band has matured since the very first split done with Italian metallers, TOD? Obviously MXCII has come a long way since then.
Yes. There surely is a big change. Gorath started out as a two-man project highly inspired by old Scandinavian black metal and the typical modern Moonfog sound (Thorns, Satyricon, Khold, Disiplin,...). Some traditional elements stayed, but the groovy Moonfog sound fully changed into a more atmospherical approach. Don't think of prominent keyboards, but more of an overall dark feeling creeping in the music.

What do you like best about what was done on the record? Would you consider it your strongest or most daring effort? Compared to others it sounds a bit more depressive and groovy.
Elite is straight forward and very groovy. The Fourth Era is groovy as well, but more technical and more melodic. Msotheism is very fast and still quite melodic, yet more black metal orientated. MXCII is slower and darker. Compared to the older albums MXCII has got more soul. It's not as easy listening as the previous records, but if you want to listen, you'll hear the beauty hidden deeply underneath the layers. For me, I enjoy MXCII the most.

Anything personal involving album concepts or song lyrics you'd like to share with the BRUTALISM readers?
Apart from the first release, every album has got a special concept. The Fourth Era is all about the mayan prophecies about the year 2012, even before the hype started. The lyrics are based on astral science and old mayan history. Misotheism was about the dogmas in the catholic church. MXCII is about my hometown Diepenbeek. The history isn't as grand as the Scandinavian or German heritage, but surely as interesting. Things over here weren't as different as in the other European countries that time. But most local people don't know anything about the traditional lore. Over here, there was a circle of stones (as in Stonehenge, but smaler) as well. Today that place is known as Tombeveld. Old laws were very hard and lots of people were hang from the trees. There were two gallows set in our town. That's what Doed over't Galgeveld is about. Every song deals about a certain topic referring to Diepenbeek. Also MXCII stands for the year Diepenbeek was mentioned for the very first time. All lyrics are written in the local dialect which took me hours to translate with the help of an official dictionary. The English translation is included as well, but in mirror writing!

For you, personally, what defines black metal? Seeing as you guys don't always do corpsepaint and spiked gauntlets there is obviously more to it than a fashion statement,..
It's not up to me to define black metal. Venom already did it in 1982. Later on Scandinavian trendies changed it drastically. Back then, other black metal scenes like the Greek and Finnish didn't get as popular as Darkthrone, Immortal or Mayhem. This means people today think of the known Norwegian bands when they speak about black metal. For me, black metal is darkness in its purest form. It's all about an nihilistic atmosphere with a real content. I don't support wannabees picking trendy lyrics and sing about the devil and the war against Christiannity. When you praise church burnings, just do it instead of whining about it. Black metal surely is anti-religious, but in any way! There's no God, nor there's a Satan. Our message comes through words and not through hard oneliners or fashion statements. We walk the most honest path. What you see is what you get. No gimmicks here. Whatever theme a black metal band picks, it should come from the heart. Black metal is music with a soul.

Do you find the whole 'black n' roll,' 'symphonic,' 'depressive,' kvlt,' 'melodic,' etc, etc. sub genres an interesting way to define music, or metal, as a whole, or is it just another reason for people to complain and put others down about which is better? Where would you put Gorath on the list?
When I wrote for Vampire Magazine also I put labels on bands. When you read about a band you definitely want to know what style they are playing. But, as you know, many bands mix a lot of those genres. I don't mind how people label us. I would say Gorath play traditional black metal with a lot of avantgarde elements, ranging from sludge to ambient to post-rock.

Do you feel that to live the life as a member of Gorath and also a member of what could be considered 'normal' life is like living in two different dimensions?
My job prevents me of being all metal around there. My collegues are well aware of what I'm doing after work. But they don't need to know everything. Besides that, there's no difference. I'm the same person with the same opinion, the same values and the same look upon life. No double face here.

So when you guys aren't in the studio or on tour, how do you like to try and live life as a common individual rather than a badass metal star?
My presence on this world is irrelevant when you look to the vastness of space. We're all just a second of eternity. And I'm just as casual and common as most of us around. I despite the rock star attitude and the whole big American way of life which sadly has infected Western Europe as well. Everything has to be harder, faster and cheaper. More and more people pollute this stinky planet. This can't go on forever I don't want to be the badass metal star who closes his eyes to avoid this problem and fills his own ego with hedonism pur sang.

Speaking of tours, obviously you've got one coming up (or just finished). Care to give our readers some information on that?
Due to my job it's rather impossible to to extensive touring. We had to decline several high profile tours during the first part of this year. Unfortunately it will probably not happen at all. Therefor we try do do a few minitours. This year we did three show in Ireland/Northern Ireland and a German weekend as well. We enojoyed the time we had and played good shows as well. But the turnout wasn't satisfiying. We will be very careful when we arrange new minitours. Next up is a three dates tour with EÔs (formerly known as GeÔst) and Todtgelichter of which two German shows are booked and a Belgian/Dutch one is in progress. Furthere we have some interesting festivals listed (in Belgium, Lithuania and the Netherlands) of which you can find information on our cyber pages. Gorath never play as many shows as possible. We try to pick the most interesting ones in stead of creating an overkill of performances. That's a reason we don't play that much in our own small country.

If you could have your dream tour lineup, who would you share the stage with?
I'm not interested in big names. We're all just people. When the shows already booked turn out to be good, I'm a pleased man.

For being around since 1996, I'm sure quite a fan base has grown since your first album hit distribution. What do you like best about them?
We are still rooted deeply underground and I've never noticed something like a fan base.

What's the wildest thing a fan has done at a show, or done for the band, either in the manner of messages or gifts perhaps?
Last time in Cork there was a (drunk) lady screaming she hated me and I should fuck off. Five minutes before she praised us into heaven.

Again, thank you for taking the time to let a new fan, and probably many others, know a bit about yourselves and the latest album, MXCII. See you on the road!
Interviewer: devilmetal747
Jul 2, 2010
Next interview: Fuck The Facts is a hobby

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