Austrian black metal legends Amestigon take their sweet time releasing albums. The band recently released only the second LP in their very long career, nearly five years after the release of their its predecessor, Sun of All Suns. The new album, Thier, dropped on May 28, and is a terrific listen, worthy of heavy rotation. (Check out our full review here.)
Recently, Manny-O-War had a chance to ask Amestigon a few questions about their songwriting process, the long layoffs between their albums and their occult philosphy. Here’s what they had to say:
Your first full-length, Sun of All Suns, was fifteen years in the making. The space between Sun of All Suns and Thier was only five years. Are extended layoffs between albums something that is crucial to Amestigon as a band or is it more of an effect of circumstances?
The direct answer is that it is an effect of circumstances. Sun of All Suns was not really 15 years in the making as we released several split- and MCD’s before. We also do not have any intended layoffs, we just like to rehearse our songs long and hard until they are ready to be born. Thier was actually finished last summer, but we put additional effort into sound and studio work and we never rush to have something released, we just let it drift.
You guys have some serious roots and serious metal cred. You’ve also been witnesses to the Austrian scene developing, expanding and retracting. As older guys we tend to look back on the glory days, but metal is well and alive now. Is there any part of you that wishes you could have released Thier in the ’90s? What’s your take on the black metal scene today and do you see Amestigon fitting in or standing out?
In the ’90s, Thier would not have been possible. On the one hand, Amestigon was not in the mood to release something like Thier, and on the other hand black metal was not in the mood to conceive something like Thier. So we are lucky as it is now, and you’re right: metal is well and alive and there are many good releases nowadays. As musicians we are exposed to many influences which are transferred into our music, either knowingly or not. That means that we reflect what we experience as individuals and as a band, and therefore Amestigon fits into today’s scene, but we always try to think beyond borders and limits.
As a band, you haven’t fallen victim, as many bands do, to becoming too comfortable and finding a rut from which to write. How do you guys make sure you keep the sound fresh, exciting and constantly maturing? Are there any bands out there today that you, as a band or as individuals, look to for inspiration or do you write in solitude?
As mentioned before, we definitely do not write in solitude and there are very many influences but not really one role model for sound or music which we could name. Since Lanz and Wolf joined Amestigon in the late ’90s, the sound was constantly shifted—different guitars, different amps, change of FX, and so on. We always have something in mind which we try to reach. We are very dedicated to sound and always search for new options. In addition, Thomas—our studio guy from Pure Sound Recordings Vienna—also develops in skills as well as in equipment and we work with him for more than 15 years now.
With such a history, and no full-length released until 2010, I’m wondering if some of the music or concepts on Thier were originally conceived or written in the prior decade or century and then maybe rewritten for the recording. Any examples or are these songs all brand new? Also, Thier feels, to the listener, like an album that almost wrote itself because of how effortless it is to listen to, but I assume there were struggles. Can you talk about any of those?
We have a little collection of riffs which were not in use yet, but which were too good to trash—just a sheet of paper without any date or something. For Thier, we used two or three of those riffs like we always do for new releases. The rest is brand new, as long as you can say that for an album which is five years in the making. And here the circle closes, because obviously we need five years to let it sound like the album almost wrote itself. There are no single episodes of struggles. In fact, there is a constant skepticism, and we permanently challenge ourselves while progressing and even after that—while adding something new we go back again and ask: Does it really fit and is it good?
Staying with the writing, the songs on Thier are significantly longer than tracks we heard on Sun of All Suns. What was the main reason, vision or idea for the increase in length? What drives you guys to push yourselves so much?
Actually this was a clear decision in the process of creating a concept for Thier. We wanted to underline ritual characteristics and decided to write longer songs with different liturgic parts. So we didn’t push ourselves, we just decided and executed.
Your imagery and lyrics seem to be heavily based in the occult. There is also a very metaphysical aspect to the lyrics on Thier. What’s the inspiration there? Are you guys reading philosophers or texts that you draw inspiration or lyrics from?
We have been very much attracted by philosophy and its ideas, and we still are. This may sound typical, but Nietzsche is one of the philosophers who will always accompany us. The lyrics on Thier are based on the spiritual doctrines of the Ordo Liberorum Luporum, and were influenced by Frank Lerch’s researches on left hand tantric paths, AOS, Carroll’s Liber Null & Psychonaut, Sethian Ophitism, Gematria, Luciferian Gnosis, the 18 ° Gradus Pentalphae and many more.
I have to ask the obligatory question about what the future holds. It seems that Amestigon is only getting stronger. Can we hope for a new full-length album in less than five years? Do you guys have any material in the bank?
We’re already working on new material. We have structures for three songs and we also have a vague structure of a concept. Songs will be shorter but we will stay dedicated to occult themes. We’ll see if we manage to do it in a shorter time. At the moment we are very focused.
I hear you guys are vinyl enthusiasts. Are there any exciting plans for Sun of All Suns and Thier to have vinyl releases or special vinyl editions in the future?
Both albums should have been released on vinyl together with Thier on CD. Because of very long waiting times in the production, we’re looking forward to have both albums on vinyl released by the end of 2015. Sun of All Suns will have a different layout, the sound is slightly remastered and there is a bonus track on the vinyl release. Thier is going to be a double LP with three sides and an etching on the fourth side.
I close my interviews with a fun question so I would like to ask you about hockey. There are an increasing number of Austrian players now in the NHL. That wasn’t always the case. But now guys like Thomas Vanek, Andre Burakovsky, Michael Grabner and even Michael Raffl are really making a name for themselves. I’m wondering if you guys, or the country, follows Austrian players in the NHL or if you prefer the Austrian leagues? You got a favorite team?
We have to admit, we do not follow hockey at all. We’re into several styles of martial arts and the little we know about hockey is that martial arts can be quite useful for the fights in between.
Thanks very much to Amestigon for their time.