Monday, December 10, 2018

Interview with Lord Of Horns and Legion of DARK REVERENCE by Dave Wolff

Interview with Lord Of Horns and Legion of DARK REVERENCE

Your music is described as being horrific and perverse, and shrouding the lines between Gothic music and black metal. How long have you been writing and composing your music to fit this description?
Lord Of Horns: Before forming Dark Reverence, I was writing songs in the horror-centric black metal band, Acryptylyse since 2005. I released two albums and began laxingly recording another. I then joined blackened death metal band Exinfernum in 2016 as their bassist. I met Legion, our singer, after I played my first gig with Exinfernum in December that year. Both of us, being familiar with Goth and metal music, we decided to put our musical skills and interested into a project.
Before submerging myself into black metal, I was trained in jazz and blues, so when creating music for someone to actually sing to and not just scream, I resorted to blues-like basslines. My chord patterns and note choices remained the same as how I wrote my black metal material, however. This gave the music a sort of creepy drive to it.
A few months after meeting I wrote sample music to what would later become the song “Cleaver.” It served as a creative compass.
Legion: I was very interested in industrial music. So, a few months after finishing “Cleaver” Lord of Horns wrote “Let Me Be Myself Again.” It still had obvious black metal influences, but he added more electronic sounds to it.
Finally, in October 2017, Lord of Horns’ time freed up and he was able to devote more time and energy into writing and recording, so that’s when Dark Reverence was officially established. In August 2018, we were ready to take to the stage and perform live.

How is the name Dark Reverence meant to represent the band and their music?
Lord Of Horns: Our name represents both of us, we both respect and admire the darkness within ourselves and in the world. We understand and relate to many dark themes such as horror, psychological torture, sadism in many forms, and even master-slave relationships. So in essence we revere darkness. We both enjoy listening to many forms of dark music and we incorporate as much of it as possible in our project. We create eclectic dark music, so the name seems to fit. Also, it is a trend in black metal for bands to be called “Dark… something” and with our heavy amount of black metal influences the name matched that way.

In what ways do you personally relate to those dark themes, and where do you see them in the music you listen to? Are they channeled through the band’s music?
Legion: I like dark themes because they are a more realistic reflection of the world and ourselves. I am also into psychology and the inner workings of the mind. The darkness in others usually brings out the most interesting parts of people. I love satanic themes because it brings me closer to my own beliefs and brings me a feeling of closure and healing after the damage other spiritual/religious beliefs have caused me.
Lord Of Horns: The best way to represent an idea in music is though lyrics, so that’s usually where we see dark themes in what we listen to. However, music can induce emotions, like in metal, the harsh distortion of the guitars and the fast pounding beats of the drums usually emits anger. Anger is a darker emotion, but dread and depression and fear can be expressed with slow, atmospheric, and ominous music.
Being human, we feel the full spectrum of emotions, but we are more familiar with the darker side of it. I believe all true art is a product of torment, pain, and torture in its many forms. So, yes, we do channel our darkness into our music.

What is the inspiration for your stage names? How do they represent those dark themes?
Legion: Legion is used as a stage name to allude to the many ways I can vocalize while singing. In the bible you can find a passage where Jesus exorcises many demons from the same man. The demons refer to themselves as Legion, as in many. I don't believe in the bible, or in possession, but I find using that as a stage name as an amusing way to allude to being possessed by many demons to explain the many voices I can do.
Lord Of Horns: I came up with Lord of Horns in reference to someone who has power over natural beasts. Most great sized animals have horns or tusks. I have always had a connection to the dominant and predatorial side of nature. The name represents the occult and mystical rituals about having control over those beasts.

Do you think dark and satanic themes offer many extreme metal fans closure to negative or traumatic periods in their lives?
Legion: I think it is a popular aesthetic that people enjoy for various reasons.
Lord Of Horns: I think it is the main reason why metalheads do associate with these type of themes. They have seen the world at its darkest and most honest form. But that’s not to say that metalheads can’t be happy, as it has been scientifically proven that we are the happiest and most down to earth type of people.

Who is the band’s lyricist? Do occult authors help inspire your lyrics? If so, cite the authors you consider inspirational.
Legion: Both of us; at this point in time I would consider Lord of Horns as the main lyricist. Both of us have different writing styles, and I personally like both. I don't draw inspiration from any particular author in terms for writing lyrics.

In your view, how widespread is the belief in and study of occultism in New York and the States in general?
Lord Of Horns: I believe it has grown vastly over the years, but with much skepticism. Many have left the traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs for agnostic or atheist beliefs. In doing so, they are more open to learning about other beliefs, but only briefly and with a grain of salt.
Legion: I think it's gaining more and more popularity to my delight. But I believe it has always had a steady following in the States. New York is special because of the large population of people from all over the world contributing to a large occult presence, and also it acts as an occultist hub for those in the tri-state area.

Has the band been based in the same area from the start? How would you describe the current scene where you are?
Lord Of Horns: We have been based in Lodi, New Jersey since we became serious with the project. The first two songs were written when I still lived in Brooklyn, but we were still conceptualizing everything.
The New York City area has always flourished with artistic and creative bands. Acts like Kiss, The Ramones, The Misfits, Manowar, and Type O Negative are all from the area. I especially like to declare that we are from the same town as the Misfits. They were the first horror punk band and we are keeping the creepy music tradition alive.
We have lots of venues in New Jersey, even more in NYC. Then there are a lot of other places within a few hours’ drive. Our area is still flourishing with new and creative acts, nothing has really changed and we are grateful for that.

Where in New York and New Jersey can bands perform these days?
Lord Of Horns: There are so many venues in New Jersey alone, in fact we were just referred to one right near us that we never knew about called Debonaire Music Hall. Besides that we have played at The Meatlocker, a legendary place for all underground music in Montclair; Dingbatz in Clifton, and the Brighton Bar in Long Branch. We have a gig coming up at a place called the Ocelot in Mystic Islands. There’s also the Clash Bar in Clifton, the Stone Pony and the Saint in Asbury Park, and Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, and the Goth club QXT’s which we were slated to play at but the event got cancelled. This is all just off the top of my head, but there are others I know about in Hoboken and New Brunswick.
In the city we just played at Blackthorn 51 in Queens, but we also hope to play at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Bazaar next year. There are so many places to play in NYC and a little further upstate, it’s remarkable.

Are turnouts at shows as sizable as they were in the 1980s and ‘90s?
Lord Of Horns: I was still a kid in the 80’s and 90’s that I can’t say for sure, but from what I have been told by my older peers is that the scene has diminished in size by a great amount. I blame that on the music industry as it is now, people get paid lots of money to press a button or to play someone else’s music. The overhyping and overplaying of simplistic music by the music corporations have really deterred the masses from listening to talented and creative artists. Although dwindled, there is still a scene and there are still those who support the arts and artists and to them we are thankful! At our last show we played to a crowd of 50-60 people. For a band that has only been playing together under a year, at a venue that isn’t the easiest for New Yorkers to get to, and to be the opening act, I think that’s pretty impressive.

Goth and black metal encompass many different subgenres, and different styles from different countries. Which of them have most influences the band from the beginning?
Lord Of Horns: I have been heavily influenced by early Norwegian black metal since the days of Acryptylyse. Other than that, however, I’ve been inspired by many different genres of music - from doo-wop to classic rock, from classical to jazz. I find appreciation and beauty in many forms of music from many eras. I am a full-fledged metalhead, but I do enjoy Goth and punk, as well.
Legion: While, Lord of Horns’ influences are across time, I have more world-spanning inspirations. I enjoy German Neue Deutsche Härte, World music, Japanese Visual Kei, European Goth, and many other artists from around the globe. I have an affinity towards atmospheric chanting and grungy soundscapes.
Lord Of Horns: We have come to realize our most common middle ground is English Goth. Although, we try to incorporate as much as we can into our material. We both love creating creepy and ambient music, so as long as it meets that criteria, we can make anything work.
When I conceive a song, I think about how Legion might be singing it and I’ll write it in a way to best display her voice. As of right now, we have nine to ten songs completed with more on the horizon. If you were to listen to these fifteen or so songs on an album, not one of them is like another. That’s just how eclectic our influences are.

Who is involved in the band and what are their backgrounds? How well do you work together as a unit?
Lord Of Horns: Currently, there are only two members of Dark Reverence. Legion performs all the lead vocals and concentrates on our visual aesthetics we use for marketing and representing our sound. I conceive, write, arrange, record, mix, and master all the music. During live performance I play bass and contribute backing vocals. We both write lyrics and we have different processes on how we do it.
Legion: I have been practicing singing since I was six years old. I learned from an opera singer at a very early age and I participated in chorus throughout my school years.
Lord Of Horns: She has an amazing vocal range. Her operatic style is absolutely beautiful, while her growls are demonic and fear-inducing. Between those two, she has various other styles she can employ to best fit the music, thus the pseudonym, Legion. Dark Reverence is the first band she has been in.
I started playing bass at the age of 16 with no prior musical experiences other than trying to sing in musical plays. I learned hard and fast how music worked while playing in my school’s jazz and blues band. During high school I participated in many different bands and finally in college I formed Acryptylyse.
Dark Reverence is our brainchild. We do wish to someday play live with fellow musicians, but we do enjoy our privacy and writing process without compromising the material to appease other members. At first, it took us awhile to feel each other out in respect to expressing our creativity and talent as individuals. With as many inspirations that we both singularly have, it was difficult to select which ones would work well together. Finding the vocal styles that complimented the music or the guitar effects that accented the vocals took time. We always look to add dimension to our music with the addition of each instrument, including the vocals. Unlike many other bands, we consider the vocals as an instrument that adds to the final composition. Figuring all this out was the point of the first two songs and a contributing factor why we took so long to write them. Once we passed that hurdle we became comfortable with each other and our selected roles in the band. We have preconceived notions what we both want from each song before recording them. It’s made collaborating and working together much easier. Now, creating music and visuals are very streamlined compared to how we started out.

In what ways do you incorporate your influences into your sound? Do you make an effort to be unique or does it emerge naturally?
Lord Of Horns: I think each song we write is developed naturally. We try very hard to not make anything sound pushed or over the top. Before writing music, I usually have a concept in mind or a type of sound I want to emulate. Maybe I feel we don’t have enough fast songs, or heavy songs, or calmer songs; so I write accordingly. Sometimes I want to experiment - what effect would two or three different music styles have if intertwined - so I incorporate key components and characteristic of those styles and try my best to blend them without making everything sound muddy.

What about German Neue Deutsche Härte and Japanese Visual Kei speaks to you?
Legion: Where they originate they are not very obscure. The bands I like in particular have large followings in their respective countries. With that being said, it more or less means they have a lot of published work. I have listened to many years’ worth of albums from each genre and they both musically have a lot to offer. For Neue Deutsche Härte, which means New German Hardness, I always appreciated the vocal style and the well-organized mix of industrial elements with heavy metal music. For Japanese Visual Kei, which could be translated to Japanese Visual Style, I am greatly inspired by the vocal style, as well. I am also drawn to the visuals that many bands in the genre incorporate to their entire presentation. There are many Goth bands in that genre that do a wonderful job incorporating different types of styles, like grunge Goth or Victorian Goth, that I appreciate.

What are the differences the band perceives between European Goth and American Goth?
Lord Of Horns: Off the top of our heads we really don’t know of any real Goth bands from America. There are a few either pop-goth or punk-goth bands, but not really true Goth as there was in Europe twenty or so years ago. The scene has grown and evolved since that time to more electronic sounds or heavier to incorporate metal, especially in Europe.

What was Goth two decades ago? How much did it differ from what is considered Goth now?
Lord Of Horns: Goth developed out of the punk movement, thus many bands of the era were known as post-punk. These post-punk acts were more laid back than the energetic and hate-fueled punk bands of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Instead of being angry the genre expressed depression, anxiety, and psychotic behavior. But ultimately, Goth, much like black metal, was developed by many bands around the same time with many different influences, such as folk, classical, and rock and roll. Key elements of the genre include rich, clean bass lines often groovy or driving; slightly distorted guitars with heavy reverb, and atmospheric keyboard effects. Drum machines were first becoming popular at the time and many bands incorporated the electronic sounds of them.
Overtime the movement evolved, some added dance elements which grew into darkwave or synthpop, while others took a more digital direction and added heavy beats. Modernly, the term or genre ‘goth’ is so broad that it encompasses many styles of music.

How do you define Victorian Goth?
Lord Of Horns: Victorian Goth is a style that incorporates natural instruments such violin, viola, cello, harp, and piano amongst other instruments of the Victorian era. Some bands of this style still use distorted guitars and other modern equipment, but there is a huge emphasis on the natural instruments.

How important are string instruments in music in a day and age when electronic and digital equipment is used so often?
Lord Of Horns: I think it depends on the type of music. We just opened for Velvet Acid Christ and they use no stringed instruments and very minimal keyboard parts that are played live. They’re music is creative and they are talented, indeed. But watching them as an audience member is kind of dull. I feel that way with many electro-industrial bands. I’m just watching a couple people behind a laptop and some guy screaming into a microphone. As a metalhead who is used to thrashing around a pit, it’s boring to watch if the members aren’t really getting into their own music. So, I think a band who has guitar and bass players are more exciting to watch, especially when they are pulling off intricate parts and solos live rather than having a computer layer everything at the press of a button.
Even though we are only two people and most of our music is playbacked during our performances, I still play bass live and I refuse to go on stage with a laptop because I think it gives off the wrong representation of the type of music we play. I found a playback pedal that plays the backing tracks. I had to special order it from the UK, but I feel much more comfortable playing with that on stage than a laptop.

How comfortable are you with just two musicians in the band? Do you find it easier to compose and arrange material?
Lord Of Horns: We are actually very comfortable with only two members. It’s easier for us to focus on what we want out of each song and how to present the vocals. It is easier to compose and arrange songs. I don’t have to compromise with other people to give them their “moment to shine” in each song. I’ve been in bands where we kept changing the amount of repetitions or adding and discarding new parts. It got very confusing. Because it’s just me writing the music, I can make sure everything keeps up with music theory, or I can break it in artistic ways that make sense without throwing off other members.

In what ways is black metal been similar to gothic music?
Lord Of Horns: Well, I only brought up the similarity that they had both evolved out of numerous bands in numerous places at around the same period. Each band had different influences which made each genre very eclectic. Besides that, other similarities are the content of the lyrics to some degree and the general atmosphere of dread, and the uses of natural instruments that some bands choose to incorporate. Other than that, there are not many similarities that can be drawn between Goth and black metal.

What does World Music encompass and how often is it incorporated into your sound? Are there any artists who are influential to you?
Legion: World Music is its own genre of music. It is music from all over the world, usually very tribal and earthy with chanting and long held notes that are sung.
Lord Of Horns: Whenever I write a part or a song that I want Legion to sing operatically I use some characteristics World Music as influences.
Legion: Off the top of my head I have been influenced by the Iranian singer, Azam Ali and Dead Can Dance from Australia.

How do vocals come into play when it comes to your approach to extreme metal? It’s a popular stereotype that metal vocalists scream into microphones, despite there being a discipline to the vocals without which the singers would blow their voices out and not be able to continue.
Lord Of Horns: About ten years ago learning how to scream properly was a huge deal. The lady that taught Randy from Lamb Of God toured around the world to host seminars about this very issue. For the most part. Legion sings. She has a beautiful and diverse voice and to not use it as much as possible would not only defeat the purpose of our project, but would be a huge waste of talent and skill. When she does employ her growl, I have given her pointers to prevent herself from straining too hard. I’ve been doing black metal vocals for over ten years now, so I know my methods are sound.
As far as our approach, we experiment with various styles for each song. Some songs even employ multiple styles. We listen for what sounds best and take it from there. Legion works on melodies and inflections to the music that I write. Overall, we think the vocals are like a lead instrument. They should be well heard, but not distant to the remainder of the music.

When was your first demo recording released to the public? How does it represent the band’s evolution at the time?
Lord Of Horns: August 8 of 2018 is when we started pressing our first demo. We’ve been selling them since our first show shortly thereafter. We decided to include the second, third and fourth songs that we completed. We felt “Let Me Be Myself Again” was kind of slow and we didn’t want to add “Cleaver” which was even slower. We want each demo to include an array of songs that displays our creative talent and musical skills. We plan on it being on our next demo.
I don’t think we have changed much since then because we are still in that same beginning phase, under a year old. With this being our first demo we really wanted to show what we are about and what we can do. We prominently displayed Legion’s many voices - sultry and seductive, mysterious, operatic, and even her growls. We had a heavy, fast paced power metal like song with a tribal interlude that builds into a bass solo. The two other songs included black metal parts. One of which had a driving blues bass line that had layered industrial like effects. The other is a black metal song that I slowed down except for the chorus that ended up sounding like modern Goth.

How many songs were recorded for the demo? Were they recorded at a studio or did you use your own equipment?
Lord Of Horns: We recorded and completed post production for three songs on our demo. I have never recorded anywhere else than besides my place of residence. I have all the equipment and I see no need to endlessly waste money on studio space and time. It’s cheaper to buy the equipment than the amount you end up spending at a studio. I don’t have to pay audio engineers and I can make sure each song gets the time it needs to sound its best.

How much recording equipment have you gathered since you began playing in bands? Which of your equipment works best for the band?
Lord Of Horns: Not so much, but I’ve been able to do just fine with what I have. I only have one condenser mic, but it’s a good one. I have two sound boards, one I got just recently to have on stage while we perform. I used to run everything through firewire, but my desktop crashed a few months ago, so I got a laptop and a USB audio interface. I still use the firewire sound board for mixing and mastering. I don’t use amps to record, I go from my pedals straight into the sound board. With today’s technology, any effects or shaping I can do after recording. I set up standard effects and adjustments for each instrument, but every song I make slight adjustments to give the proper sound and mix the song needs. We also use a preamp for vocals because some vocal styles need more volume, but that’s more for live performance.
I use all the equipment I have practically for the band, just not the speaker heads during the recording process. I have a few older combo bass and guitar amps and a couple speaker heads that I need work, but I’m not counting that stuff.

How many copies of your debut demo has the band sold? Is it available for streaming as well as physical format?
Lord Of Horns: We only sell our demo in physical form at the moment. Because fans can only buy them from us and we generally only have them at our shows, we have only sold about twenty. We are still in the midst of setting up our Bandcamp, but it’s a work in progress. Once we have it up and running, we will be selling our demos and other merch through there. At the moment, we do allow limitless streaming of the songs on the demo on our Soundcloud page.

How much exposure has the band’s Soundcloud profile gotten since it’s been up?
Lord Of Horns: Since opening the Soundcloud four months ago, we have generated over 160 plays. Last month was our biggest yet with over sixty plays. We have been doing a lot of promotion to drive audiences to the site and getting them to listen. We have a lot of international “fans” from Facebook, but we really only concentrate on people in the areas that will be performing. We want people to listen to our music and then come to our shows.

What merchandise will you sell once your Bandcamp  profile is active? Are you building pages on other streaming sites?
Lord Of Horns: Besides our demo, we also sell buttons and stickers at our shows. Shirts and magnets are our next merch priority and they will come in a few months. So, all that we will be planning on selling all that on our Bandcamp. Other than Soundcloud, we realized we have no need for any other site. Bandcamp seems to be the one stop shop for everything. We will probably also move away from Soundcloud once it is active. We use Soundcloud now because how easy it was to set up and load our songs. We just wanted a site to send people to listen to our music and Soundcloud is perfect for that.

Is the band writing material to record for the next demo? How do you expect it will differ from the first demo?
Legion: We are always coming up with more and more material. I think we give more consideration for having a "balanced" demo with varying tracks than having each demo be different from each other.
Lord Of Horns: On each demo we want to have a slower goth-like song, a faster metal-like song, and one other that is much different, either more artistic or experimental. On our current demo we have “Beast Within,” which is a slower song, it has its faster choruses, but it’s generally slower. “Pernicious Deeds” is harder rocking with almost a power metal feel. “Let Me Be Myself Again” was an experiment to include industrial influences.
The tracks for our next demo aren’t written in stone, however, we have a good idea what songs we are thinking to put on that and the next. We want each demo to be just that, a demonstration of the full spectrum of our creative talents and skills.
What were “Beast Within,” “Pernicious Deeds” and “Let Me Be Myself Again” written about? How well do the lyrics convey what you wanted to say?
Lord Of Horns: “Pernicious Deeds” is about how everybody is always scrambling for power. Power can only be gained by taking it away from others and it is usually obtained by sinister methods that take time for preparations. So in the song there are a lot of different nobles conspiring against the king only so they can hopefully sit in his throne, but as soon as a new king is appointed, a cabal is already plotting to dethrone him. It’s a never ending cycle. I believe the lyrics are pretty straight-forward.
Legion: I think we differ on the extent and meanings of various songs, especially depending on who wrote the lyrics. For “Beast Within,” I wrote the lyrics. It has a deep meaning to me, but in layman's terms, it’s generally one person talking to themself. We both contributed to the lyrics on “Let Me Be Myself Again.” For me, it’s about the same thing, different aspects of the same person conversing with themself. As for “Pernicious Deeds,” the title of ‘king’ holds a very strong symbolism for me and I agree with Lord of Horns’ definition of the song.

When do you think your second demo will be released? How many do you plan to record before working on full lengths?
Lord Of Horns: If everything goes well, we are planning on late February or early March for the next demo. We want to do at least three or four demos before committing to a larger release. Ideally, we would like to be signed to a notable record company before recording a full length album.

When the band is ready to record full length albums, will you prefer to be signed to a local or national independent label?
Lord Of Horns: As far as record companies go, I would like to get signed by the most prominent company willing to sign us. Or whoever pays more and would truly work with us to push promotions.
Legion: Whomever respects our direction and is willing to help us broaden our audience.

At this point, do you imagine your first full length will feature some re-recorded versions of demo tracks, or will it have all new songs written and composed?
Lord Of Horns: It will probably be a mix of both, honestly. We really aren’t sure what will end up going on it if/when the time comes. We will probably select our best songs at the time that show our diverse talents and influences.
Legion: I am really looking forward to rerecording our vocals. I am not satisfied with what I have on the demo. I deeply desire to record something I feel would be much better. It has taken time for me to get the feel of each track. I was nowhere near where I am now when we first recorded the demo. I’m hoping an in ear monitor will help me hear myself better and help fine tune my vocals to my own standards.

How would you want Dark Reverence to be remembered for their impact on metal and gothic music?
Legion: Music is personal. I want people to appreciate our sound. I know that is something I can’t control, but I would hope it helps people get in touch with genres of music that are darker and more talent-based.

-Dave Wolff

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