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I am glad to welcome on our webzine the black metal band Alghazanth, skilled Finnish combo with years of experience behind them; nonetheless, this is the first time that we have the chance of making their acquaintance on our website, after my review of their latest album "The Three-Faced Pilgrim".
Since this is the first time you appear on our pages, would you mind reviewing the main steps of your musical career for us, starting from the foundation of your band?
Gorath Moonthorn: Going into detail about every major twist and turn along our road would be both boring and far too lengthy so I will keep this history lesson as compact as possible. The band was born back in 1995 when I and a guy called Veilroth decided that it was time for us to try to create something of our own instead of just listening to what others were doing. Quite soon after this we had a full line-up and in 1996 we recorded our first (rather shitty) demo. After this we made another demo and a promo tape, latter of which landed us a deal with Finnish label Woodcut Records. Our debut was recorded in the summer of 1998 and since that we have released altogether seven full-length albums and played live every now and then. There have been countless line-up changes along the way but I guess the most relevant information about such matters is that yours truly and our vocalist-bassist Thasmorg are the only ones still around from the first line-up. It's hard for me to think of anything especially significant from our past as it all has basically gone according to the same pattern throughout our existence: compose, rehearse, record, kick some members out, do a couple of gigs, then start composing again.
How would you place "The Three-Faced Pilgrim" in the context of your discography? What were your intentions when you started composing the album?
To me it is easily the best work we've made thus far. I know it is a cliché to say that (Hell, it's even a cliché to say that saying that is a cliché) [laughs] but it's just that this time around we actually managed to reach our goals with every single aspect of the release. The compositions are strong, the lyrics are full of emotion, the sounds fit the music perfectly and the artwork is even more profound than I originally envisioned it to be. Our initial intention was pretty much the same as it always is: create an album that best matches our personal preferences and that reflects what is going on within our minds and hearts throughout the process. That’s what we did once again, but this time the outcome was better than it has been before. Things just clicked somehow.
How much did the various line-up changes affect the writing process?
They always tend to affect the band and the writing process quite a lot but usually it affects only in a good way. Sure, more often than not it demands some extra work from the remaining members and from the new blood joining the ranks, but basically all this somewhat shuffles the card deck and gives an additional boost and new inspiration. The fact that Thasmorg switched from guitar to bass resulted in a lot more bass-oriented approach as now we actually had a bass-player that was genuinely motivated to do something with his instrument. There are a couple of bits in the songs where the bass is pretty much the main instrument and I think that this indeed has brought a new dimension to our material. As Thasmorg moved onto taking care of the bass and the vocals, Mordant joined in as our new guitarist and he actually brought quite many fresh ideas to the table. So, to sum it all up, line-up changes indeed affected the writing process of "The Three-Faced Pilgrim" but only in a positive manner.
Unfortunately, I haven't received the lyrics of the album, nor any information regarding its topics; can you explain the meaning of the "Pilgrim" that gives name to the album, and tell us something about the symbolism of the artwork?
These things are something I don't wish to explain too thoroughly as I want to leave room for everyone to draw their own conclusions and to interpret the symbolism in their personal way. I can, however, give some clues as to what all this symbolism in the title and the artwork is attempting to convey. It all revolves around the mystic and mythic approach towards the Moon. Just think of Hekate, Lilith and other goddesses associated or identified with the Moon and you're on the right path to figuring out the symbolism. Many have thought that the two swans on the cover represent "good" and "evil" or day and night, but this is actually not what I've tried to hide in plain sight. The cover illustration is very strongly connected to the same ideas that underlie the album title but I'll leave it to everyone to figure it out for themselves. What comes to the lyrical themes of the songs, there is no single red thread running through all of them. They are separate lyrics that delve into occultism, luniolatry, invoking atavistic powers and death as well, but they do have in common the spiritual point of view from which these themes are dealt with. So, it's not a concept album but rather a coherent mirror for my personal beliefs and thoughts.
What's different in the production if you compare "The Three-Faced Pilgrim" to your previous works? Did it help to collaborate with Jari "Tupi" Tuomainen?
It sure as Hell helped. I would actually go as far as to say that without Tupi's input the album wouldn’t be much more than a half of what it turned out to be in the end. He was very motivated and had some really great ideas and opinions to share along the way. He's a cool and very relaxed guy to work with but at the same time he tends to demand a lot, which is absolutely a positive thing. He's into black metal himself and plays in a death metal band so it is rather easy to get your own wishes and ideas through to him as he knows what you're getting at. Good sound engineers tend to be hard to find and to find someone who is interested in the same music as you is pretty much impossible around here. In this sense we are very fortunate to know him, and I'm sure we will be collaborating on future projects as well.
What's black metal to you, today, in 2014? A simple music genre, a way of life, something else?
Black metal is to me pretty much what gospel music or hymns are to religious Christians. To me black metal is not mere entertainment or just another music genre, it's a lot more than that. It's not a way of life but rather an important aspect of it. My way of life is rooted in Left Hand Path spirituality, and black metal, for its own part, serves as something that upholds and strengthens this spiritual side of me. It's a sort of a mirror that amplifies whatever emotions, ideals or religious experiences I seek from it and in turn project upon it. As they say, art is food for the soul, and this is exactly what draws me to a certain kind of black metal.
What's the status of black metal in Finland these days? Is it a lively scene?
I would certainly say so. There are lots of bands around and many of them are something I listen to regularly. Of course there are also those kinds of bands that do not arouse any thoughts one way or the other, but that's just a by-product of an active scene, I guess. It's great to see that bands that have been around since the '90s are still releasing quality material (quite many have actually released their best effort just recently) but I'm also very pleased to witness the rise of a bit younger bands such as Virvatulet, Angelscourge and Phlegein.
Here on Aristocrazia we just finished writing down our "Playlists", giving our personal opinions on the best and the worst releases of 2013. What about you? What albums have caught your attention, positively or else?
Even though the debut full-length album of Iceland's greatest offering, Svartidauði, was officially released in December 2012, the vinyl version came out in 2013 and therefore I will stubbornly count it as a 2013 release. This album, "Flesh Cathedral", is something that has really left its marks on my soul. It is easily the most captivating and awe-inspiring aural monument in years. I have listened to it well over hundred times and it still manages to keep me in its stranglehold. Absolutely stunning piece of work, I must say.
Do you appreciate or listen to any Italian bands, either still active or from the past?
There aren't that many I am familiar with. I guess the only Italian band that I listen to actively is Aborym. Mortuary Drape is great too, especially live!.
Do you have any passions aside from music, such as sport, cooking, art, books or videogames?
I do visit the gym often nowadays but that's hardly something I would call a passion. Books are my true passion. I don't read everything I can get my hands on, though, but instead I am a very selective reader. I buy new occult publications regularly but only certain tomes seem to be what really make me tick and these are something I tend to return to time and time again.
I thank you for your time, please feel free to add anything as a final address to our readers.
Nothing to add, really. Thank you for your support!