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Thokkian Vortex's Lord Kaiaphas: "…one of the obviously strange scenes in the movie is when Euronymous cuts his hair and puts on a white shirt on the night that he was killed, and he simply allows Varg to kill him like that…"

Interview with Lord Kaiaphas from Thokkian Vortex
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 07 March 2020, 5:47 PM

Creating a sort of a mini niche in one's music is probably natural in order to be uncanny, or at least strive to be. Introducing various sides of a sub-genre opens up further windows of possibility to show creativity and enhance the listener's interest. The Norwegian based Thokkian Vortex, opened the gates within Black Metal, as others have been doing, to find a path to lead. With the release of their sophomore album, "Thy Throne Is Mine", Steinmetal had a talk with Lord Kaiaphas about his interests of concept, musical artistry and Lord Of Chaos

Greetings Lord Kaiaphas, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. I trust that everything is going well on your end?

Hi there. Thanks for this interview. Yes, I’m doing quite well.

I remember the first time I heard of the name Thokkian Vortex, it was a sort of a project that was half of time being run in Tel-Aviv, Israel. You actually had two Israeli band members, which one of them I know pretty well from Winterhorde. Now, I see that the lineup is totally different, what became of that Israeli lineup? I guess you wanted to travel more and therefore, changing the band members to a largely Italian squad?

The bassist who played on our first album, "Into the Nagual", left the band in 2015, before the album was released. Shortly after that, he moved to Germany. Our current bassist, Sil, took his place. She recorded bass on the new album, "Thy Throne is Mine", and is a dedicated full-time member. Our former guitarist, Zed Destructive (Winterhorde), was more occupied with his own projects, so I had to search for a replacement. The drums on "Into the Nagual" were handled by myself. We used a few local drummers for live gigs.

It was just a coincidence that the new guitarist and new drummer are Italian. When I announced that I was looking for a new guitarist, Sabnock was simply the best choice. Asmodevs was already a friend of mine. I already knew that he was a great drummer and that he also played for Ancient so, naturally, I invited him to join.

With the lineup change, probably after it, came the signing with the Dutch label, Non Serviam Records. How do you find work relations with the label? Do you feel that you are getting to more listening ears out there with the new material?

Actually, I completed the album first. Then, I started looking for a label. Non Serviam Records gave me the best offer. So far, I’m very happy with the label. They’re doing a terrific job.

The band’s new album, “Thy Throne Is Mine”, landed on me like a brash of cold freshness. No doubt this release broadened my senses and my desire to discover more. Before we head into the pit of the album’s musicality, I wanted to ask you about your fascination with Sumerian and Akkadian mythologies? I guess you are also a fan of Melechesh, judging by your admiration for these myths?

In general, I am interested in different myths from different belief systems. When writing the music for the song, "Banishing the Lion of Kutha" (before it got its name), I felt that a Sumerian theme would be appropriate. So, I did a bit of research into Sumerian and Akkadian mythology and I came up with a story for the lyrics.

Actually, I’m not a fan of Melechesh. I’ve never heard any of their albums, but I saw them play here in Israel some years ago. I went to the show because their bassist at the time, Scorpios, was an old friend of mine and I wanted to see him again. At the show I met their drummer, Asmodevs, and we became friends. The rest is history.

Circling “Thy Throne Is Mine”, you created a narrative, based on the mentioned mythological chronicles. What can you share about it? Who is the protagonist and his role in your created universe?

There’s no particular theme or concept on the new album. Every song is a different story unrelated to each other. The only shared theme is the occult, and different types of mythological beliefs.

Let me give you a brief synopsis of each track on the album.

BANISHING THE LION OF KUTHA- a story I created based on Sumerian/Akkadian myths. It’s a tale of betrayal and conspiracy. A war breaks out between the gods, mortals, demons, and the dead from the underworld. In the end, the god Nergal is banished to the underworld by Ereshkigal the queen goddess.

THY THRONE IS MINE - A metaphorical story about a forgotten king dreaming of reclaiming his throne.

THE MOON BRETHREN- A story I created based on a few stories by Gustav Meyrink. Four powerful sorcerers gather at a chateau in the countryside to sacrifice an angel to Satan.

GODSPEED SATAN - A song pleading for Satan to bring on the apocalypse. Nothing very deep here.

THE WREATHING SERPENT- Another story I created based on a few stories in occult literature originating from the philosophy of esoteric orders in the early 20th century. This song deals with Leviathan portrayed as a female demon from the sea, calling the main character of the song to do her bidding.

TRAVERSE THE TONAL - A song dealing with the Nagualism in Carlos Castaneda’s interpretation. I wrote a few lyrics like this on the first album. In order to reach the Nagual (spirit world) you must cross the Tonal (our world).

WINTER FOREST CRY tells about forests of the north being invaded by a dark force, but the forest is powerful and will fight back. This song is a metaphor open to listeners’ interpretation.

COME TO THE SABBAT- This is a cover song with a simple message. Bring your family to the woods to worship Satan.

Does the created storyline have any relation to the ordinary, normal present day life that we lead? How do you find yourself within this story you created?

I’m the storyteller on most of the lyrics. There are a few ideas within the lyrics which could apply to present day if they are interpreted in a certain way.

After being a devotee of the blackened arts of extreme Metal, “Thy Throne Is Mine” took a rather different angle musically, while harboring elements, which I can argue, coming in from Hard Rock and Traditional Metal. In particular, some of the blazing shred soloing echoing from time to time. How would you describe the developmental stage of Thokkian Vortex within “Thy Throne Is Mine”?

I’ve become a much better composer and producer since the first album, "Into the Nagual". Indeed, I’m a Hard Rock and traditional Heavy Metal fan, so those influences shine through. I’m also particularly into shredding guitars, and that’s why I wanted to have solos on the album.

Which of the newly implemented elements in the music did you like most, while listening to the end result of the album?

I’m most proud of "Winter Forest Cry", which has a piano. It’s my favorite track from the album. I’m also proud of "Sunrise over Irkalla", the acoustic dark ambient track. These are more experimental, and it was an interesting creative process for me.

There has been a massive wave of Black Metal bands that are supposedly similar in their approach to the early 90s, an era of the genre that you were part of. However, when push comes to shove, the end result is highly sophisticated. Do you believe that Metalheads nowadays demand more than merely primitive Black Metal but rather a form of the subgenre that would challenge them?

The standard for musicians has been raised significantly over the years so, naturally, younger Metalheads expect a certain level of musicianship and production. Having said that, I’m sure there are many people who prefer a more primitive and lo-fi production.

With the recent change in the band’s lineup, what was the course of the songwriting process for “Thy Throne Is Mine”? How do you find the contribution of the new band members or are they merely a live element with you being the chief songwriter?

I wrote all of the songs of the album in my home studio except for "Come to the Sabbat", which was written by Black Widow and "Godspeed Satan" which was written together with bassist, Sil. She came over to my studio one day and we had a jam session with me on drums and her on bass. We wrote all the riffs together in that session. Later on, I arranged the track on the computer.

Sabnock and Asmodevs worked very hard to make their parts as good as possible. Sabnock experimented quite a lot with different guitar sounds before finding the right sound for the album. His dedication is what made the guitar sound so powerful. Asmodevs was also very creative with his drum parts and recorded his drums at a professional studio with a good engineer to make sure that the drums sounded raw and punchy. No triggers or heavy compression.

Marcelo Vasco also made sure that his solos were perfect. Danielle Sassi, being the talented flautist that she is, did some amazing improvisation. Lastly, Sil bought herself a new bass capable of producing some serious bottom end thunder. I’m very proud of all of their contributions to the album.

Were there any conflicts or dilemmas, even within yourself, regarding how the course of the album should be shaped? Any second thoughts after listening to the overall result?

I had just a minor dilemma back in 2017 when I started composing new Thokkian songs for a new album. I wasn’t sure exactly which direction to take. Some of the songs were not so good, so I ended up not using them for "Thy Throne is Mine". In 2018, I went back to writing songs and it ran smoothly after that.  I’m quite pleased with the overall result. No second thoughts.

The song “Come To The Sabbat”, before I noticed that you pronounced it differently without an “h” at the end of the word, I thought it was a different interpretation to the Mercyful Fate classic.  Frankly, the song ended up being like an extreme version of Jethro Tull, highly interesting. How did you come up with the main idea for this song? What can you tell about its creation?

"Come to the Sabbat" is actually a cover song. The original track was released in 1970 on the Sacrifice album by British Occult Rock band, Black Widow. The original version had flute, so I decided to have it on our version as well.

First, I put together the song on the computer using my MIDI keyboard to play the guitars, bass, & flute parts over programmed drum tracks. Then, I invited Danielle Sassi from a local Prog Metal band, Storchi, to record her flute. Then came the real guitars by Sabnock, the real bass by Sil, my vocals, and, lastly, the real drums by Asmodevs.

A cracker question for you. Which of the album’s songs do you find as the most influential, the one that left a mark on you after completing it and perhaps even guides you to the next band’s endeavors?

My favorite songs from the album are "Thy Throne is Mine" and "Winter Forest Cry". I’m not sure yet what direction the next album will take. It all depends on my inspiration and the feedback I receive from the new album.

I have been asking this hereby question every associated person of the early Black Metal scene in Norway. I am sure that you heard, or even watched, of the "Lords Of Chaos" movie. What do you think of it? As a musician that led a lift back then in Norway with Ancient, is the Mayhem story farfetched or was it the actual truth?

Well, overall I think it is a good film and that Jonas Akerlund was probably the best director to handle that story. If you take any film based on a true story, especially, a music-related film, there will always be plenty of mistakes and offended fans. Lords Of Chaos is not a documentary, but an interpretation of the events by the director, telling us in the very beginning that his film is based on truth and lies. Those who know the truth, know how to spot those lies. Others may feel entitled to get offended or appreciate it for what it is.

From what I know, they got a lot of the facts right but, of course, there are a lot of things that they got wrong as well. For example, one of the obviously strange scenes in the movie is when Euronymous cuts his hair and puts on a white shirt on the night that he was killed, and he simply allows Varg to kill him like that. According to Varg’s interviews from 1993, Euronymous was wearing only his underwear and he died fighting.

Besides all that, I would prefer that the movie was in Norwegian and played by Scandinavian actors to feel more authentic.

What do you think are the main challenges of Thokkian Vortex in the coming years? Not mainly concerning the new album support

Our biggest challenge is the distance between band members. If we were to tour, the best way would be for Sil and I to fly to Italy and rehearse with the guys over there for a few weeks before the tour.

Talking about the album support, is Thokkian Vortex a touring band that is on a mission to erupt the planet to support its new album or rather boutique style with a few selected shows? Where the band is planned to be in 2020

I’m not sure yet about any upcoming gigs to support this album. However, I’m definitely hoping to tour for the third album maybe in 2022.

Lord Kaiaphas, many thanks for taking the time for this interview. You intrigued me with your new album, surely an export of Black Metal that is quite surprising and constructive. All the best.

Thanks again for the interview. I appreciate your support.


 



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