Hungary’s Aornos play a style of black metal that recalls the viciousness in the genre’s early warriors but wraps it up in a blanket of whirling guitars and wickedly dark atmosphere. My initial take away from their recently released full length, The Great Scorn, was that there’s so many layers to unpack yet this collection of songs is almost immediately hypnotic. Complicated but well worth the time to sit with it and get acquainted. It pulls you in very early and nearly 50 minutes tick by before you even know what happened. Just behind the album’s release we had the chance to ask mastermind Algras our set of Profile questions and his answers just might qualify for the longest we’ve ever featured. Don’t believe me? Read on.
How did you first get into playing music, and have you achieved the level of success that you hoped for?
The story starts a long time ago; the first riffs of our debut “Orior” came to mind around 1998. Ever since, I’ve tried to record the material at different times and various places. I think this album must be a Guinness world record — in the category of the most recorded material ever. It has 10 original songs and 1 cover (EMPEROR) and was released in the autumn of 2015 by American Black Plague Records and the Russian Symbol of Domination (Satanath Records imprint). In the same year the “Alea Iacta Est” EP came out, by HOD Presents. Besides the two new songs included, there are five covers: Morbid Angel, Carcharoth /Hun/, Bonanza Banzai, Sear Bliss, Land of Charon. HOD Presents has released it in digital format, but it is on the market as a CD also, but in a very limited number.
February 2016 saw the release of the second album, “Mors Sola,” which included nine original songs and was released in September by Symbol Of Domination (Belarus) with Kristallblut Records (Germany).
As a result of cooperation with De Profundis (Hungary), a split cassette “Hymnen an die Nacht” was released by Fekete Terror Productions (Hungary) in March of this year. These songs were inspired by the dark masterpiece of Novalis. “The Great Scorn” is our third album and was co-released on April 29 by Symbol Of Domination, Ira Aeterna, The True Plague, and Black Metal Records.
AORNOS’ sound is a bedroom-studio sound (unto this day) and mostly due to finances, unfortunately. Practically, it’s like you must be a sound engineer and producer in one if you approach the music recording in this manner. This is a quite common solution in the underground music world. Lots of time and energy, but in the professional studios — in addition to the equipment and the expertise — these are exactly what must be paid. The elite BM bands affected me the most, but not the typical satanist bands. Most likely the bands that fathom deeper in the Darkness. Such as Emperor, old Satyricon, Mayhem, Thorns, Limbonic Art, Arcturus, Immortal, etc.
First and last: AORNOS is about the Existence itself. From a dark aspect, of course, and beyond the mainstream, the clichés, the fake-evil and the surface. It’s a journey deep into the vortex, but in a way where we dominate the Chaos and not the Chaos dominating us… at least that’s the aim. I think the lyrics help to understand what it’s all about. The inspiration is given and eternal: the dark projection of Existence, endless Nature, Cosmos and the attempt at passing the ordinary, human, all too human things… Since the fall of 2017 talented members have joined me: drums (Róbert Mester), bass, vocal (S), guitar (Tibor Terebesi), keyboards (Dávid Lőrincz), and myself on guitar and main vocals. So, live shows are also possible in the future and have become the primary goal.
What’s the most you have ever debased yourself to get your band onto a show, into a magazine or otherwise promoted, covered, and praised? (If you don’t have a story, please tell us any funny/embarrassing story.)
I’ve never had such a move before and to be honest, I don’t even plan on it because of its pathetic being. A celebrity is worthy only of this behavior at the most, but you know, to each his own…
Most likely, the story of the name selection might be “funny,” although I can’t put my finger on it. Formerly (around 1998), I wanted to use the Avernus name, but then I heard that there already was a band by this name. In those years without internet, these things were harder to find. Then, I wanted Atritas and later Arbitrium, but (use the net) I saw, that bands with the same name already existed. Finally I chose the name AORNOS, which is the Greek equivalent of the Latin Avernus. Literally, it means: “birdless.” Aornos is a lake which exhales sulphurous fumes, therefore the birds couldn’t fly over it, the drifting hell-fumes killed them. By the way, that is an existing place; metaphorically it is the entrance to the Underworld.
What do you see as some of the great things happening in metal and what are some of the worst things happening inside the scene right now?
In a nutshell: the best thing is, everything can be found on the scene but this is also the worst at the same time. On the one hand you can find all things from the 60’s and 70’s rock roots to the most cutting-edge, heaviest fusion experiments. This is surely evaluated by certain people in a positive way as variety is the spice of life. On the other hand, this diversity makes the existence of a more integrated ideology impossible, which was for instance, not so much questionable in the heavy metal era of the 80’s. However, it’s also true that the really chiseled message was expressed rare at that time (which nowadays is not the case when submerging into the mysteries of the underground, all the more so, because there is no need to be underground anymore like in the case of Primordial).
There is a huge division in the field of ideology, maybe it’s bigger than ever, but it’s natural, because modern people’s minds have turned into mush commonly, and of course, it’s also felt here like that. Despite this, it’s still not overstated to say that metal players are much more intellectually interested and less superficial than fans of other more popular styles. This fact might be based on the sense of pride and kind of unity as well as “Us against the fucking world” attitude, which is applicable to this matter. I think the biggest problem is, indeed, that a band representing any ideology appears in a smaller part of the arena which is especially true for the trends of mainstream metal. Most of these bands are just simply made to entertain (like any pop band) and earn as much money as possible (like any band) providing those cliches of ordinary metal hardness which can properly serve the needs of those who are definitely sensitive to it…
It seems that now everyone has a passion for some cause and that those people are very open about displaying their passions. This is probably a very, very good (and progressive) thing socially. What are some of the most important issues (social/political/humorous/etc.) for you and how do you insert those issues into your music?
So many people talk boldly about their passion even if it might be better kept to themselves. There is a lot to say here, but I would rather grab a thing as it could take more time if I became deeply engrossed in it.
There are references to Nietzsche which can be observed by more attentive listeners in AORNOS texts sometimes. These days, of course, Nietzsche is one of the most popular philosophers, who is often-quoted and well-known for his fairly big cult in the whole metal genre, which I have problems with.
Earlier, my dissertation was about Nietzsche’s philosophy at that time, so it’s not immodest to say that relatively I’m in the swim of him. This is why usually this kind of annoyance in metal or rather in more extreme branches of it (black, death etc.) as in most cases these typically appearing hints from Nietzsche are meant for effect and superficial consisting of a more understandable, lighter slice of the entire philosophy but the will of power or the doctrine of eternal return is used much less in lyrics.
Was he an antichristian? Of course, but he was also against much more things. Has he written a book about the Antichrist in the 19th century? Yes, but the story rarely goes on about handling Jesus, as a person correctly next to his legitimate, incisive criticism of Christianity. Although he is unable to identify himself with the basic motivation of Jesus as considering it impractical but with acknowledging his greatness and understanding of the fact that Jesus was already misunderstood or not understood deeply enough by his direct disciples thus it was realized, that historic Christianity is at the root of its mistake and fake. (for details see the book). But so does the man get by preaching to a proletarian… (Make no mistake, I do not underrate people working with their hands primarily, as I earn my living by this kind of activity, this attribute of “lowbrow” adverts rather a mental ability or its lack.) Did he declare that God is dead? This is a cliché already in the western culture (as e.g. this phrase from Nietzsche: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger) but the meaning of that is another matter. No one who thought himself as an ultimate evil jerk playing black metal stuff equipped with a stolen broadsword from the appurtenance stock has killed God but all of us have from western civilization and not now or in 20th century at all, even slightly before.
So altogether I would like listeners to perceive occurring allusions from Nietzsche in AORNOS not as calculated tricks for effect assuming they are all interested in any intellectual message…
What, or who, got you into metal and how old were you? How did your family take the news?
Hmm, fairly early, around 12 years old (c.a.1992) when I came in contact with the harder, more serious line of music. I think there were mixed Metallica concert recordings and studio tracks on a tape and material of Iron Maiden “Seventh Son of Seventh Son” but I was not mature enough for that as it seemed too soft to me compared to the heavier metal music. The true brilliance of Maiden was understood long afterwards. It might be natural that one of the best bands in all of metal appeared to me so soft since I had death metal fever at that time, next to my brother who always listened to it and obviously so did I. That’s how my brother led me to it: Obituary, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Death, Morgoth, Master, Massacre, Protector, Cannibal Corpse, Carcass, Pestilence, Paradise Lost, Messiah, Kreator, Sodom. And from the Hungarian side Moby Dick, Akela, early Ossian, etc. How I started metal and music at all, of course this list makes no claim of being exhaustive. It was still this Music Television era and I remember how weird of a feeling it was watching those clips of Pestilence – Land Of Tears, Morbid Angel – Blessed Are The Sick (in the end that otherworldly flute solo!) Entombed – Stranger Aeons, etc. in the Headbangers’ Ball night show on Sunday evenings. Probably somewhere I was fated to be touched by “dark music.”
Later, the second wave of black metal caught me with its feeling of mystic, unreal, essentially “evil,” unearthly or elevated atmosphere where during listening to this music some visionary cinematic images are flashing and which often has a “ traveller” character (such as the brilliant Odium material of Morgoth) and there was no experience better than this except for some other style of metal or other tracks.
My family didn’t accept it at all (so obviously I was never supported by them); they never understood this world not even metal or music and anything deeper thing.. They differ from me and it’s fine, I’ve accepted it a long time ago.
What advice do you have for aspiring music critics and outlets out there? How can we all better serve the genre in the eyes of a hard-working musician?
It depends on the competence level of the person and if he/she has ever taken part in a music band as to whether he/she has another aspect of this topic as already familiar with struggling problems of an underground band or music. This is not only about technical, material things, amount of energy and time invested but also in compliance with requirements. I think if you are this kind of censor, you can handle this more objectively from this approach theoretically but not only having an overall overview of the particular genre but also music as an essential consideration.
First of all, it needs to be clarified what is expected from a track whether it’s something that was never heard before. It’s a common phenomenon that many review writers, when listening to a new track, it immediately begins to bear resemblance to something which may actually still stand in the majority of cases but not many times. The problem is with this comparison that the actual music is already forgotten about — optionally wrongly — and it’s not necessarily true but made public thus this creates false ideas in the readers’ mind about the relative unknown music. So a censor obviously has a powerful sense of responsibility. However, many of them do not care about moral considerations and do not put much of their time and energy into writing a review as well as neglect to describe the first idea that comes up in their mind when listening to a track. No matter, whatever bullshit it is. I cannot really stand this kind of behavior…
I think it’s ideal for a censor to be able to dispose definitive thoughts not only about music but about the world itself (at least having questions about intellectual matters as well) for the purpose of writing much better reviews as it requires a certain level of intellectual ability, expressive skills, vocabulary, high standards of form and content. Of course, proper knowledge on material is absolutely indispensable, without that it seems to be frivolous. If someone writes reviews while knows only one or two dozen music bands in the given music genre, well, his legitimacy is quite in question. In fact, that’s what I expect from a censor: being as objective as possible, having the enjoyable style of writing, knowing what’s going on in the genre, presenting a work in a credible manner, even if it’s not his favorite one.
What’s your goal? You guys thinking world domination? Maybe saving a continent? Maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Do you guys have day jobs or hobbies you want to share? Whatever it is, please let us know.
Obviously, AORNOS won’t attract so much attention, as might have been done 15-18 years ago, but even then I couldn’t make the material in this form. There’s lots of music and it’s easy to get lost in the stream. People don’t listen to music like they used to. They are impatient and barely listen to the music. But this music is exactly that kind, which might be very complex at first (at least you listen to the entire music at once). It reveals the secret values with time. Lots of musical delights hidden, which might then only appear in earphones. In addition, AORNOS is not that kind of BM, which is easy to identify, we can’t say that its orthodox, true, raw, depressive, post, folk, symphonic, dissonant, satanist, hibrid etc. black metal …
My biggest dream of course is that AORNOS will have a certain level of respect around the world in the underground. And we could perform concerts in not so degrading conditions. But of course this is largely a financial issue. If you are not a millionaire, forget the truly professional concerts. I mean, in this kind of BM what the AORNOS represents. I’m really shocked in that time, when Emperor’s first official live material (Emperial Live Ceremony) came out. I was just watching, how they could perform so perfect the hymns of the album, but for this it had to be the Emperor…
World domination? Saving a continent, maybe invading one? Any interest in starting a cult? Oh man, no. I am no longer a child 🙂 I do not want to talk about hobbies or workplaces.
When you’re not obsessing over your own material, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently? (Feel free to include non-metal)
There are only a few new which can touch me and make me happy in the long term. These exceptions include the following although this is not an exhaustive list:
Almyrkvi – Umbra (so far the best of Iceland), Archaist – Cosmogenic Eyes (one of the best black metal releases in recent times), Scars Across – Convocation (really atmospheric, dark and even musically good – contrary to many ‘atmospheric’ albums), Primordial – Exile Amongst the Ruins, Ascension – Consolamentum, Schammasch – Triangle, Dark Funeral – Where Shadows Forever Reign, MGLA – Exercises in futility, Behemoth – The Satanist, Sonic Reign – Monument in Black, Watain – Sworn to the Dark, Lawless Darkness, Dark Fortress – Stab Wounds, Seance, Eidolon, Ylem, 1349 – Hellfire, Keep of Kalessin – Reclaim, Armada, Code – Nouveau Gloaming, etc.
Most of the non-metal recordings are older but they are really favorites: Elend – The Umbersun, Wojciehc Kilar – Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Land of Charon- Örökmécses, Asztrálgép, A Láz, Monumentum – In Absentia Christi, The Devil’s Blood – The Time Of No Time Evermore, Ulver – Kveldssanger, Tenhi – Kauan, etc.
What is the 12-month outlook for you or your band? Any specific events on the horizon that the masses should be aware of?
Since publications have been coming often enough (3 full albums in 4 years, EP, split cassette, gift box cassette release) this process probably will be slowing down. I’m really happy to work, finally, with suitable musicians and appear in live shows with them. These days, preparing for performances (this is not to easy) as well as providing and organizing appropriate concerts will be my number one priority. The first concert will be performed at Tales of the Morbid Butchers Festival at the end of November in Budapest, and of course, we are all looking forward to it. The exact date and place will be published in a timely manner.
Summarize your band in exactly one word. (Disclosure: If you include additional words, we will select our favorite for the final publication.)
Many thanks to Algras for his time!