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“If traditionalism and backward thinking is to be destroyed, the work has to be done within ourselves first. That’s how intellectual progress is made.”

Polish black metal masters BLAZE OF PERDITION released their new album “The Harrowing of Hearts” on February and we had the chance to talk with vocalist Sonneillon about the band, the quarantine period, Polish scene and the future of black metal.

Interview: Ahmet Saraçoğlu

You guys released your latest album “The Harrowing of Hearts” on February and both the media and fans seem to like it a lot. It’s also your Metal Blade debut. What was your mindset in the writing process after the success of “Conscious Darkness” (which was hailed as one of the best releases of 2017 by our readers) and also being signed to a major label?

S: Not much has changed mindset-wise to be honest. We wanted to pursue our goals further and that’s it. To explore our goth-rock etc. Influences a little bit deeper, while still keeping the black metal spine intact. I think we managed to find some sort of equilibrium between those two worlds. Besides I think gothic music and black metal have much in common and they work well together pretty much naturally.

You found new blood with DQ and M.R. and it’s the first album after “Near Death Revelations” that you have two guitarists in the band. Did Marcin participate in the writing process? Do you think it made a positive impact composing-wise after releasing two albums solely with Łukasz on guitar?

S: There were two guitarists in BLAZE OF PERDITION for years. Wyrd, who plays the bass and does vocals live also plays the guitar on our albums. So, we actually have three guitarists in a way and that can be heard on our recent efforts, all those layered tracks are the result of such combination. Marcin co-wrote “With Madman’s Faith” and added a couple of guitar arrangements here and there.

Considering the fact that “The Harrowing of Hearts” deals with Christ’s descent into Hell, I think the album portrays a really wise and clever approach within its dramatic texture and melodicity that creates a rather cinematographic feel compared to your previous works. Were you considering to go after this more melodic, melancholic character before the writing process or did the concept made you go that way?

S: I had this concept in mind long before I have heard a single note from the new album, but never shared anything before listening to the first music samples, so I guess it’s safe to say they came to life separately and pretty much simultaneously. After listening to the stuff I re-written and adapted my ideas to the strong structures and that’s it.

Speaking of melodicism, I saw your Facebook post about the new ULCERATE release. It really is breath taking isn’t it? I interviewed with Jamie, their drummer last year and he told me that they are trying to go after a more stripped-down way of composing with more melodies and less dissonance, less angular riffs, etc. First, I was worried since that dissonance is one of their main characteristics, but after hearing the album I was floored that how skillful they are at mastering their craft and releasing a beast of an album. What do you think is the trick when stripping-down your music, making it so-called “more accessible”, yet keeping it loyal to your core characteristics?

S: Yes, this album is monstrous and my favorite since “The Destroyers of All”. I’m not a musician myself, so I can’t say anything meaningful from this point of view, but as a vocalist and as a listener (and a huge fan of their work), I think giving their music more room to breathe was exactly what moved them forward. Accessibility, melodicism etc. is often regarded as something inferior in the context of extreme metal, but that’s one of the silliest stereotypes around. What’s the trick? I’d say it’s just doing your job with sincerity and passion. If you prefer your next release to be more subtle or whatever you feel like at the moment, just go with it. It’s not always for the good from the commercial perspective and so-called metal fans get triggered just too easily, but let’s be honest, we’re not in this shit with money in mind, right? People tend to get salty after such changes, especially when they’re combined with “big label” stereotype (like it was in our case), but you’ll never stay honest with yourself by satisfying others first.

BLAZE OF PERDITION is one of the most prominent bands in the ever-developing Polish black metal scene which is creating darkness since the nineties. It is even more active and fruitful in the last 15 years with tens of bands emerging and expanding to a wider audience. How does it look from the inside? Are you happy with the state of the Polish scene? Putting Scandinavian countries aside, I think Poland and France as the two champions of the 2000’s regarding extreme metal.

S: That’s something I hear very often from interviewers, but I have to say I’m not that much of a huge fan of current Polish metal scene. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of worthwhile and solid bands currently active here and more popping up from time to time, but also a lot of over-hyped mediocrity and new “album of the year” coming every week. If I’m to be honest, most of my favorite releases from Poland are from 80/90s and let’s say first ten years of XXI century, like Witchmaster, Anima Damnata, Thunderbolt etc. That’s where my sensitivity and sentiments lie I guess.

I see DEATHSPELL OMEGA as the most prominent black metal band that influenced a vast number of bands after the first two waves of black metal. Their distinct approach had a revolutionary effect and many bands tried to mimic their angular, dissonant sound ever since. Above mentioned ULCERATE also adopts a similar approach beside some other influences such as IMMOLATION and GORGUTS. Keeping this in mind, where do you see the future of black metal in the foreseeable future? Do you think it will differ much from its present form or would it be able to continue to live on as it is?

S: I think black metal won’t die anytime soon and there’s one reason behind it. While this genre was regarded as very orthodox and somewhat against any progress by default, it actually became probably the most forward-thinking metal genre ever, merging with numerous other music styles, often placed very far from metal music whatsoever. While death metal for instance is in most cases the same as it used to be in the past, black metal has come a long way to expand and grow into something beyond mere labels. We are just one of such examples. While there are plenty of influences in our music, we are still very much black metal band, because the spirit is still there, the lyrics and whole emotional and spiritual drive, while much more mature than years ago, is still present and ever-aware of its roots.

Few years ago, I’ve been to Greece and I interviewed with some black metal artists and underground metal record stores about the Greek black metal scene. The common idea was that the conservative nature of the Greek government and public had a major effect on many youngsters and led them to create extreme music in the beginning of the nineties as in Hellenic Black Metal. Do you see the same pattern in Poland as well? Does the conservative government in Poland have an effect on Polish youth so that now Poland has one of the strongest extreme metal scenes in the world? Does this religious texture fuel your hatred while creating art?

S: It used to, but I don’t think it’s the case anymore. You eventually grow up and focus on your inner world instead of making meaningless efforts to destroy religion you don’t care about with your noisy music. If traditionalism and backward thinking is to be destroyed, the work has to be done within ourselves first and everything else will follow. That’s how intellectual progress is made. As within, so without.

Your first step to North American soil is postponed to May 2021. Do you think the setlist will be different than the one that was planned for this year? Since many bands are suffering in terms of promoting their new releases due to the pandemic, do you think it’ll be weird to perform new songs after almost 1,5 years from the album release? Do you think the enthusiasm may falter?

S: Yes, the enthusiasm probably will falter, for small bands like us, those with no huge fanbase at least, but what else can we do, right? Or maybe I’m wrong and people will get so hungry for live shows that it will actually be just the opposite? I’m a realist when it comes to such things and I prefer to wait and see for myself. Time will tell. As for performing live, I rarely do it with the guys since our accident in 2013 as I’m in a wheelchair, so you know, I’m in almost constant hiatus live show wise.

How are you coping with the quarantine period? Many bands are writing songs since there is nothing else much to do. Have you begin writing new stuff?

S: BLAZE OF PERDITION isn’t writing anything new yet, but I’m working on my side project’s album at the moment. Actually, all instruments have been recorded and I’m tracking vocals in just a couple of days. The name is Mānbryne and you can expect it to be released some time this year by Malignant Voices.

FURIA and DEUS MORTEM (sold out show) played here in İstanbul last year. INFERNAL WAR played here couple of years ago and the WITCHMASTER show was cancelled at the last minute due to a passport issue. BEHEMOTH and VADER played here many times and MGŁA show is postponed due to Covid-19.There are many other Polish black metal bands that have a fan base here in Turkey and BLAZE OF PERDITION is one of them for sure. Have you ever invited to play in Turkey? I think after everything turns back to normal, it’s time for you guys to play here.

S: I don’t think I recall any invitation to Turkey, but BLAZE OF PERDITION would surely like to come and spread some conscious darkness if such opportunity arose.

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