Irkallian Oracle | Interview
The ground beneath our feet becomes a gaping black hole while somewhere down there waves of molten lava tumble restlessly over each other, retching up their forgotten song.
The ancient Earth is hungry. She demands to be fed. She belches up her message in a sulphuric tongue not heard by any human ear for a thousand years.
As we have become unaccustomed to this mystical language she has chosen a new vessel to carry her message of doom.
Irkallian Oracle arrive armed with messages from her dark core, hungry for your flesh, blood and bones. If you are lucky your soul has already evaporated.
The faceless entity were beckoned for further elucidation…
The Irkallian Oracle sound and aesthetic are both highly developed and indicate a level of maturity that suggests that it is not the members' first forays into the world of obscure Metal.
Please offer some insights into the motives for starting the band and whatever you can divulge about the members behind the hoods and their histories.
The band came into being in 2012 yet as you hint at, the members have all been active for many years in the Black/Death metal current already.
Beginning with Irkallian Oracle came more or less to us as a vocation of sorts, an initial understanding of what our capabilities as a community would be able to bring forth.
So although we did not actually discuss much of how things would emerge musically and so on from the start, we all seemed to have a very clear vision of how everything should turn out, something which came very naturally I must say.
This might also somewhat explain why the band was able to appear as being quite “developed” although just starting out about a year ago.
Every aspect of the band seems willfully obscured.
There is a shroud of mystery around the lineup, the music has a suffocating and distant quality, the lyrical themes seem quite abstract- as does the band name itself- and you all perform wearing cloaks.
Has the resurgence of 'old-school' DM become stale?
Do you feel there is more substance or longevity in presenting the band in riddles to the public or is anonymity the new cool?
This “obscurity”, I presume, is actually nothing else than what could be thought of as something that we as humans principally can’t comprehend by our normal rational and empirical faculties.
Darkness hides things from us, and thus mostly will create confusion, fear or even abhorrence among most persons who are confronted with it.
Yet at the same time it is alluring and fascinating, since it devours our normal and static understanding of the world and ourselves and let us interact with things surpassing mere humanity, making us aware of our innate potential that can but be found in that which is seemingly unknown to us.
This is what Irkallian Oracle in some sense is about, namely to open up black holes, scars in reality as we usually perceive it and let that which is beyond our rational and fixed states of being merge with the faceless, the unfathomable and infinite.
It has not really anything to do with anonymity as such, but rather simply the absence of human and egoistic elements in order to focus on such matters which transcends them.
The veiling is paradoxically at the same time an unveiling of our true faces and a way for others to face their own true nature as well. And this at least to me is what Black/Death Metal in its purest form always has been about.
There seems to be a deeper philosophy at play in your work that turns its back on mere Satanism or blood-n-guts. What is your message and how does it influence your daily life? Maybe it is simply a construct devised for the band to operate within?
If we had a message that could be explained in a few lines here, then I would not really see any point going such a long way around it and produce music/lyrics/artwork to merely confuse it.
Our message and philosophy is to be found nowhere else than through the mouth of the Irkallian Oracle itself.
Still what I briefly touched on in the previous question can somehow hint at what we understand this medium to be about and as such there of course is a deep connection with what the band represent, compose and perform and the activities of our daily lives (that should in my opinion almost go without saying).
Still speaking of such things is not really that important, as I trust the listener and receiver to approach our art from their own horizons and form their own visions from our art inside their minds.
As pointed out before, we just want to follow our own vocation and carry out a voice we feel innately is speaking to and through us and whatever might emerge from it.
'Grave Ekstasis' has five songs that sprawl out over forty five or so minutes but it is classified as a demo. This seems odd to me. The quality and level of realisation of all aspects of the release are of a very high standard so why not release it as an album?
I understand that it seems odd to you as it never actually was defined as a “demo” by the band or label, so to clarify things we want to make it clear that 'Grave Ekstasis' should be considered as a full-length if we really need to split hairs when it comes to definitions of the recording.
I presume why people thought of it as a demo, was because it was the first recorded material made public (a rehearsal recording had previously been sent to a few close friends) and that it was released on tape.
Never the less, there is no need to think of it as a demonstration in any way, as we simply feel that it is able to represent how we conceive the bands nature to such a degree that it can properly to be viewed as our first album.
Your sound draws most heavily from death metal but doom also features prominently in the mix and the whole thing also has a murky black quality to it, too.
I can hear a lot of the New Zealand sound in your songs as well as similarities with Portal, Antediluvian and even the droning trancy earthiness of Neurosis.
What bands have influenced you and where do you see your sound fitting in?
I’m not really interested in going into name-dropping bands here, as it would be all too many to mention, but I would say that you have got the references pretty well except for Neurosis.
Bands performing darker forms of (Funeral-) Doom/Black/Death Metal are our main influence at least when it comes to the composition of riffs.
Note though that we never tried to sound like any band in particular, but that our intent springs from a will to explore anything that might help us grant further dark energy unto our art.
The tape opens with a slow building droning intro. I know you have certain links with the noise scene in Gothenburg so tell us what place noise has in the world of death/doom/black metal and can you see that aspect of the recording being further incorporated into your sound in future?
I believe that there are some rather obvious connections in the art performed by various extreme metal acts and artists involved in dark ambient/power electronics/noise/death industrial music, as in trying to experiment with sounds and artistic elements that usually are thought of as obscure, occult and extreme.
So as we, like I stated above, seek to feature in our music anything that has the potential of making it go along with our vision we will do so. For instance we are using (especially live) a wide range of percussion instruments such as shamanic drums, tambourine, various bells and Tibetan bowl to give more dimension to the rhythmic part of the music.
Also other cooperation with ambient/noise bands might develop in the future although nothing is planned yet.
As mentioned earlier there is a massive doom influence on your sound. There are protracted sections of slowly building riffs and tribal sounding war drums that you are happy to drag out for ages.
Bands like Uncreationist, Swallowed, Necros Christos and Sonne Adam all spring to mind when listening to these parts, as well as the afore-mentioned Neurosis.
Do you feel any kinship with these bands or have they influenced you at all?
What do you feel are the benefits of going the slower and lower route when, in general, DM bands tend to employ a more direct, brutal and violent approach?
In a certain sense we might be able to talk of kinship here, but still I believe these bands all have quite varying styles and would also hardly count any of them as direct influence on us, although they all have our respect (especially Necros Christos).
When we began to rehearse we found ourselves naturally inclined to not decide the amount of repetition for certain passages, mainly because it simply was no need for it.
It seems to bring further dimension to the dynamics, freedom and (paradoxically) also some kind of unpredictability to the music that we feel fit very well with our style.
By this we want the listener to be able to delve deep down into the depths of the music itself, to swim freely in its black waves into unknown levels of awareness that usually can’t be possible when having the standard arrangements of western pop music.
Doing it in a slow yet frantic pace seems to be the most natural way to reach these altered state, at least for ourselves.
Is it important for you to draw outside the lines, so to speak? Your fellow countrymen Tribulation's recent brilliant album has caused some people to question their loyalty to DM as they have absorbed so much outside influence.
Is there a line that should not be crossed for the music to still be considered death metal or is it a strong enough art-form to be able to withstand a high level of bastardisation?
To draw outside of lines are for children that try to escape the rules that they at first most probably wished to be uphold but ended up choking them.
We simply don't see any lines or limits in Death Metal, but draw our craft from its’ bottomless pits, a point that has no dimensions.
We are not aiming at bastardising anything, we are here to alchemically purify gross materials into black gold and turn yet another of the (70,000) veils that hides the true face of Death. There is a great difference between being narrow-minded and being completely focused. IO concerns itself with the latter.
I know you haven't played too many shows yet but what can you tell us about your intentions in that regard?
Do you plan on putting on a show or is less more? Your visual aesthetic is strong so I presume you plan on offering more than three/four dudes in jeans and t-shirt on stage. How would you ideally like your shows to look and sound?
Like in every respect of Irkallian Oracle we want to take all aspects of our craft into consideration and leave little to chance, so the same goes for our live performances.
We want these happenings to be ultimate way to experience our art, so hopefully we can do our best to draw all the senses of the audience unto the forces we wish to be a medium for.
By this I mean that we intend to open an Abyss on stage and that the audience should be able to catch a glimpse of the terrible beauty that lies within it.
Sweden is generally known for either the old Swedeath sound of Entombed et al or melodic DM peddled by the likes of In Flames. Latterly Watain have become highly successful too, with their take on modern sounding, anthemic black metal.
You guys don't really subscribe to any of these schools. Why have you decided to take a different route? Do you feel that the underground in Sweden needs to be shaken up?
The Swedish underground is not really of our concern, as we have very little in common with the vision of most bands at least when it comes to music. We are but interested in doing things our own way and look beyond the borders that most bands set up for themselves.
The Swedish scene has always been very much about following what is fashionable for the moment and embracing music that is easily digestible.
Irkallian Oracle should instead be understood as iconoclasts and pursuers of matters that transcend temporality, working to concentrate the most horrific elements of the art of Black/Death Magic.
By this we might also come to demonstrate how lacking most bands in this scene are to clearly perceive true Darkness.
With 'Grave Ekstasis' generating a bit of a buzz around the band have you had any interesting label offers since its release? What plans do you have for the future and what sort of developments can we hope to see on your next release?
Yes, we have news regarding this that will very soon be revealed. Our plans for the moment are to compose and record yet another album that hopefully may be finished sometime next year and also to perform as much suitable live performances as possible.
Speaking of the upcoming record; lyrically it is planned to be a continuation of the concepts that were raised on “Grave Ekstasis”, now dealing with a coagulation of selfhood in higher aspects of being and musically it should probably become even more experimental, dark and twisted.
So in a sense, I believe you haven’t even seen the least of the prophetical terror that is yet to be harnessed from the void-vaults of the Irkallian Oracle…
- Interview by Andy Cunningham