Genre: symphonic black metal
Questions: H., Ježura
Greetings to Italy! First of all, I would like to ask one thing – do you prefer name Dark End or Darkend? I have seen both versions, so I am not really sure about it… I am using Dark End in following questions, so I hope I chose the right one (laughs)
Greetings to you, Czech Republic! Ahah, hmm I’m sorry but you chose the wrong one! To understand this little difference you should know that the moniker “Darkend” derives first of all from an artifice commonly used in the esoteric tradition either to conceal the truth or to convey to the reader a message that transcends the written text: the Anagram. The name of the band (which we have changed by stitching together the terms “dark” and “end” to remain faithful to the above stated principle) as it is used symbolizes the Abyss, the unconscious opening its doors to mystery and dream, while anagrammed and stripped of its appearance, this name reveals its REAL meaning: in fact it is a key term used in an ancient Sumerian transmigration prayer that we will reveal in the lyrics of the song closing our fifth full-length.
[We kept the originally-written form of the band’s bame during the rewriting of the interview to save the authenticity, despite it is the wrong form.]
I would like to start with some general questions. Dark End play quite epic music. Honestly, I could imagine that all those topics which appear in the lyrics could be musically presented in much more minimalistic way too. How did it happen that you ended up with expressing these topics in the symphonic way?
This is a good question. I think it’s mainly because that with our music, in strict connection with the lyrics and the visual art, we want to give concrete form to the inner Abyss of the Souls where the core of the whole Cosmos resides, with all its secrets and shades. And it’s a place so complex, a place so full of different colours and shapes that requires a quite complex, rich musical form to be expressed. This mainly happens with our last album, where even the lyrics started a profound inner research through the occult depths.
This question isn’t much original but it’s logical after all – can you imagine combination of Dark End’s music with classical orchestra (doesn’t matter if live or on studio albums)? If so, do you think it is possible to really happen in the future?
Yes, we imagine that combination every time that we compose music. You have to know that our keyboardist Antarktica is perfectly able to direct an orchestra and so he never used pre-settled or bounded orchestral patterns but he write and record every single orchestral instrument separately using EastWest software: so we always have single violins tracks, single flute tracks, single contrabass tracks, single trombones tracks and so on… In addition to this, even the “metal” instrument are often imagined as part of the whole orchestra, giving to the whole sound a quite weird, theatrical mood. In the future we will for sure do something with a real, human orchestra, probably some special live shows to be recorded and then delivered in DVD format.
In Italy there are a lot of bands which use keyboards and orchestrations and their music could be described as symphonic or epic. It seems to me that there is no other country with so many symphonic bands, doesn’t matter if they are extremely symphonic (which is also the case of Dark End) or, let’s say, not-so-heavy symphonic bands. Do musicians in Italy feel it the same, or you don’t think about it like this? Do you think there is something special in Italy that there are so many bands playing epic music?
Hmm, I really don’t know. If you are referring to bands like Rhapsody of Fire and Stormlord I think that their symphonic elements are strictly associated to the fantasy concepts or to the historical grandeur of the past Italian culture to witch these bands often refers to. But you know, I can only speak for myself, and as stated before our symphonic approach is more related to a dark, immaterial side of existence. It’s like that we need to give the right soundtrack to the horrorific, occult, magical topics we speak about. And concerning your question, here in Italy you can find a lot of bleak, mysterious, esoteric elements able to arouse those visions: you have only to know where to search them.
I have already mentioned the lyrics… all three Dark End’s albums are conceptual. Do you plan to continue with this tendency also in the future? Is there possibility of recording an album without concept?
Yes, even in the future our albums will be conceptual albums, I find that this is a more stimulating way of writing. Through them you can deeply analyze what you want to speak about and look at it from different points of view, inviting the listener to follow you and to begin the same research process you started before. And oh, about the possibility of recording an album without concept well, never say never, but now is not our interest to do that.
Because of those concepts it seems that lyrics are very important for Dark End. Do you agree? I always believed music should reflect the ideas in the lyrics, therefore the words should come first and the music should be composed in relation to the lyrics. What comes first in case of Dark End – lyrics or music? Could you describe to us how the process of composing in Dark End looks like? Speaking only about music, do you first come up with orchestrations or metal elements?
I agree with you, absolutely. The first stone settled in the creation of all of our albums is directly connected to my strong philosophical and theatrical researches, used as a basis to set up the whole structure and the general atmosphere of the opera. I usually write a sort of synopsis in which I explain the whole conceptual work and where I indicate what is the lyrical theme for every songs; then Antarktica and me start to focus on the musical compositions, to which I progressively add the definitive lyrics.
Concerning music, it depends: if a song comes from Antarktica the orchestrations come first and then we add the metal elements considering them a part of the orchestra; if a song come from me or from another member we usually develops some guitar riffs and together with them we create the orchestral elements.
I have noticed that Latin is used in some of the lyrics. Because of you are stated as a main author of the lyrics, I have to ask you if you know this language? If so, where did you learn it?
Yes, I know Latin, not perfectly but I know it. I entirely learnt it by myself… I really love ancient languages, in my opinion they hold a great fascination and they could also help you to better understand and use the current languages.
Let’s talk about “Grand Guignol – Book I” album now. First thing which draws listener’s attention is without any doubt the artwork. Why did you put Hieronymus Bosch’s painting on the cover? Is it because his, let’s say, unusual paintings fit to the dark music, or you had some special reason (e.g. according to album’s concept)? I would also like to know why did you use only a small part of much bigger painting?
We chose that painting because it perfectly incarnates not only the content of the album, but also the whole Darkend imagery: it’s bleak, dark, it can almost transmit the stench of death, yet it is also so powerful and alive, so surreal, lost between fantasy and reality… like us, it has a very strong theatrical vibe. We chose to use only a small part of it because this is only the first part of the whole “Grand Guignol” concept and the “Book II” will not only continue the current lyrical research but it will also take the events told in the first part to a bigger cosmic level, entering the core of inhuman secrets. Until then, the work of art cannot be considered as completed: the cover painting follows the same rule ;)
I have to ask you about the concept of “Grand Guignol – Book I”. Honestly, I am not really sure if I managed to understand everything… in fact, I guess I didn’t… the more I tried to understand the lyrics and the attached texts in the booklet, the less clear it was for me. It seems that the concept is very complex and difficult to understand. Could you explain to us what is “Grand Guignol – Book I” actually about? I would like to hear it more detailed than “first part of complex philosophical concept concerning the common roots of occultism, spiritualism, martyrdom and white/black magic rituals”, as it is written on the internet. It seems like there two parallel stories – first one in the lyrics and the another one in Himmler’s diary… how they are connected? If you took one or two songs and described them to the details, I believe it would be very eye-opening…
Well, I think that this will be a pretty long one! First of all, you have to know that during the writing sessions I followed one of the most precious teachings of the magical doctrines: the one that tells you that knowledge shared is knowledge lost. According to this, all of the knowledge hidden at the roots of the opera isn’t exposed to light because, when knowledge is shared in an easy way, it loses its whole meaning, it becomes something different and it’s no more knowledge at all: it is just something you are aware of, something you read and then archive in your mind to be forgotten.
Secondly, you have to know that my aim is not to tell a fiction story, to entertain people for a couple of hours or to simply expose the results of my researches and beliefs; my aim is to incite you, the listener, to think and to start a similar process of research that brought me to a particular state of knowledge. To assist you in doing that, I put some “starting points” in the album booklet: for example the inversed triangle/circle symbol together with those 10 different words placed around/inside it, or, again, the graphics elements (the dagger, the nails, the compass, the chakra scheme and so on) that, given a precise meaning, are associated to every different page and lyric. From here, everyone can start their own journey: by investigating the meaning of the single elements and symbols and connecting them to the writings, by solving some enigmas that I put here and there, by paying attention to some numerogical clues, by gaining a different level of introspection that will reveal the metaphorical core of some quite complex phrases.
This being said, “Grand Guignol” is mainly a concept about humanity (mainly seen as unconscious puppets in a wide, almost invisible theatre) and about the deep, cold secrets of the Cosmic Elements (in the same theatrical optics, you may think of them as The Puppet Master). So, occultism, spiritualism, divination and magic are here considered as tools to free yourself, to recognize the realms where those secrets dwell and to put an eye out there, into the abyss. About the concept structure, if you look well enough, you will notice that there aren’t just two parallel story lines, but three: Himmler’s diary (unfolding in chronological order – except for the first song that, as stated in its title [“Æinsoph: Flashforward to Obscurity”], is a flashforward), the pieces of paper carrying parts of the New Testament and evoking episodes from the life of Jesus Christ (proceeding in a non-chronological order, with every single episode presented as a brief flash) and the lyrics (written in a complete metaphorical, emotive style) which bring the previous two elements together. Here inside, the figures of Heinrich Himmler and Jesus Christ represent the ideological and moral extremes of centuries of history and culture (the “borders” of the above mentioned theatre) and with the exposure of the common emotions that drove their deeds (the lyrics), they are both symbols and fleshy creatures, guiding the listener through the knowledge of sin, purity, pity, murder…up to the invisible strings of the cosmic immensity that moves everything.
Now, I think that I just gave you some good points from which you can begin to look at “Grand Guignol” and that, as stated in the beginning, by expaining some lyrics by myself they will lose their most profound meaning, so… the rest is up to you ;)
As it was mentioned, lyrics deal with occultism or spiritualism. Are you personally – as an author of the lyrics – interested in those subjects more than only within the band’s production? Could you recommend some literature, if some readers wanted to know more about it?
Oh yes, I am really interested in those subjects, not only concerning the band: after all, I think that if you want to speak about such complex and wide topics, you have not only to know them well but also to love them and to have a quite infinite curiosity. In fact, my studies about these subjects seem to be quite endless!
About the suggested literature, sure! I think that the most simple texts to begin, the ones which can open your mind and set up the coordinates that you need to move the first steps in the dark secret world are: “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” (Friedrich Nietzsche), “Liber AL vel Legis” and “Magick” (both by Aleister Crowley). Then, here are some great, interesting texts: “The Sword of Moses” (in the translation by Moses Gaster), “De Vita Propaganda” (by Artefio), “Théologie du le Revenant” (by Igor Ce Garul), “De Occulta Philosophia” (by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa Von Netteshem), “The Ancients’ Book of Magic” (by Lewis De Claremont), “Corpus Hermeticum” (by Stobaeus), the “Clavicula Salomonis” and “Atalanta Fugiens” (by Michael Maier). Just beware, you have to move carefully and with responsibility out there.
I have to ask you also about the Himmler’s diary. Just to be sure – did you write the texts? There are evident links to real historical events. How much is the diary just a fiction and how much did you try to be exact in historical facts? Who are the persons Henry and Enrico? Are you interested somehow more in the period of World War II and issues of nazism? By the way, there is castle Wewelsburg mentioned in the diary – have you ever visited the castle?
Yes, I wrote the whole texts of the diary, but in doing this I paid total attention to the exact historical events and to the complex personality of Heinrich Himmler, as it emerged from various reports of that time. What I mainly did was to put everything in a narrative stream of consciousness in order to create a diary adding emotional shades to the historical facts, trying to imagine how Himmler went through them when he was alive.
I am not fascinated by wars and stuff like national socialism, we chose to put in the concept that character because he well symbolize one of the most atrocious incarnations crated by men (the nazism) and because of his strict connection with magic and occultism (he was the founder of the so called “Forschungsgemeinschaft Deutsches Ahnenerbe”, the division of the Reich charged to deal with esoteric topics): he just fit perfectly for what was our aim.
Enrico and Henry are nothing more than the alter-egos of the German hierarch (in fact, Himmler believed to be the reincarnation of the Bavarian King Henry – or Enrico – I).
I believe that we have already talked enough about the musical aspects in general above, but I would like to ask one last thing. There is a guest appereance on “Grand Guignol – Book I” by Fearbringer [Italian musician from projects and bands like Fearbringer, Armata di Carona, Cominutà Fenice Nera or Misericordia], who contributed with amazing clean vocals in the songs “Spiritism: The Transmigration Passage” and “Dawn: Black Sun Rises”. Why did you ask him? Was it just because of his abilities, or do you know him for some time and asked him because he is friend? Why there are not any other guests? Did you want “Grand Guignol – Book I” to be purely Dark End’s record without any influences from the people outside the band?
Fearbringer is a close fiend since a lot of time and when it was clear to me that we need a dramatic and solemn clean voice for those parts on “Spiritism” and “Dawn” it was authomatic for us to think about him… and he was really enthusiastic and willing about that! I really love his voice, its so moving and passional: he was the perfect person able to reach what I had in mind and he did not fail!
About the second part of your question: we don’t have any other guest because in our opininon this time they were not necessary. We don’t want to have someone on our records just to say: “hey look, xxx played with us!”, if we have a guest, he must add shades and colours to our music.
“Grand Guignol – Book I” was released as a luxury limited edition. What does the package actually contain? How did you decide about what to put in there? This edition is nearly sold out – how many copies are left? Once they are gone, what format will be the album available in? Do you plan LP edition for example?
The first limited edition was released under the blessing of the Arcane Witchcraft Coven and contains a black slipcase showing a different cover, an expanded 24 pages booklet, an original magic certificate crafted by the “Ars Secretum” esoteric circle, handwritten fragments of lyrics, a marked envelope sealed with wax and 9 grains of cerimonial incense: we chose those extra features in strict connection to the esoteric, magic shades that wrap our Art.
Yes this edition is nearly sold out (only 50 copies are left, more or less): we will save some of them to carry with us during the forthcoming tour with Cradle of Filth/Rotting Christ and then I think that the CD will be reprinted in a regular jewel case edition. There are no plans for an LP etition so far.
As far as I know, “Grand Guignol – Book I” is first part of a larger concept. Can you imagine when a follow-up (“Book II”?) could be out? Have you already started with working on it? Do you think that “Book II” will contain some bigger inovations in music, or do you plan to more or less continue in the same way as on “Grand Guignol – Book I”? By the way, how many parts/albums will the concept have?
The whole “Grand Guignol” opera consists of two books: concerning the conceptual structure it’s already complete (I already have the whole second part of Himmler’s diary and all the parts taken from the New Testament) while musically we didn’t start to work on it yet. In fact we are currently completing the writing sessions for our fourth album titled “Il Velo Delle Ombre” (Italian for “The Veil of Shadows”) that will present a totally different, obscure concept. This will be followed by a special EP and then by a 5th full-length strictly connected to the previous EP. Only then the time for “Book II” will come.
Musically I really don’t know how it will be because we will focus on it just after the 5th full lenght. I am almost sure that it will have still the epic vibe of the “Book I”, while for “Il Velo Delle Ombre” the atmosphere will be more horrorific and ritualistic… symphonic in a more bleak way.
Last year Dark End were involved in tour with Samael, Melechesh and Keep of Kalessin and played also in Prague. Was it your first performance in the Czech Republic or not? Do you have any special memories about that concert, or was it just an another show among many others for you? Was there anything what you liked about the Czech Republic itself? Most musicians from abroad like mostly beer and girls (laughs). By the way, do you know/like any Czech metal bands?
No it wasn’t the first time, we already played there in Czech Republic some months before supporting Rotting Christ but that time we weren’t in Prague, we were in Brno! Oh yes I can perfectly remember the concert in Prague, I remember that the stage seems a little bit like a theatre stage [the show took its place in a club called Futurum] so I felt really comfortable on it! ;) And the crowd there was very good, I had the possibility to meet again some good friends and to share some of my time with some special Darkend fans.
Ahah, about Czech Republic I love not only your girls and beers but also the wonderful architecture of the places that I was able to visit: Prague, Plzen, the ossuary of Kutna Hora… everything is so fascinating and haunting there! And oh, I also love Brutal Assault! This summer was the third time that I was there, it’s simply amazing, the best festival I ever experienced so far! And from Czech I only know the band Cult of Fire… I was at their show this year at Brutal Assault and it was amazing!
It is clear that the visual aspect of your shows is very important for you. Do those stage properties mean something more, like something to help to get a deeper experience from the music both for you and the fans, or is it “just” a cool show to entertain the people?
For us the live shows are proper and real ritual, absolutely. We live them as ceremonies of darkness and horror where every suggestion and feeling is amplified with the use of scenic elements such as pentagrams, candles, bleak masks, incense and dead branches, all dropped in a strong theatrical and grand guignolesque interpretation. There, everything have a precise sense: for example, when I come on stage with those gloves with dead branches of them I directly reconnect to the “Wood of the Suicidal Ones” painted by Dante Alighieri on the “Divine Comedy”, giving a visual interpretation of some topics touched in that particular moment.
Last year you were on tour with Samael, this year you are going to tour with Cradle of Filth and Rotting Christ. How did you manage this, since you are not signed to any bigger label?
We can manage all this thanks to the support of the Arcane Witchcraft Coven that is, as you can deduct from its name, an esoteric order. It happened that one of its member had the opportunity to assist to one of our shows and he was really struck by the spiritual power that our music can arouse. So the Grand Master of the order contacted us with the offering to sponsor and promote our Art if we would have allowed them to use some of our music during their divination ritual. And then.. it was done! In addition to this we have the fortune to have some great fans that moved by pure passion work for us almost incessantly, granting us good visibility and a fans-base that is constantly increasing. And as always, I would to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
Alright, I have the last one. We usually ask something humorous at the end, so let’s do a battle between two typical Italian foods – do you prefer spaghetti or pizza? (laughs) Thank you very much for the interview and for your time, we will be looking forward to next Dark End’s show in the Czech Republic!
Hmm, this is quite a difficult one! But well… mourning for Spaghetti, I have to answer Pizza! Oh yes, Pizza, absolutely! I could eat it every single day without getting tired of it! Thanks to you for your support and dedication, we will be there in Czech very soon, playing at the Winter Masters of Rock in Zlin. If you will be there, don’t hesitate to join us for some beers and nice laughs together! In the meanwhile… keep on spread the Cult of Horror!