interview by Michael McCarthy
Back in 2014 we interviewed Beleth and Exo of Spanish extreme/black metal band Noctem regarding their brutal and mind-blowing album Exilium. Their follow-up album Haeresis was just released in late September and is equally brilliant, jam-packed with shrieked and growled vocals that come at you like a rabid wolf, an onslaught of razor-sharp guitars, fiery blasts of drums and highly intellectual lyrics about the Spanish Inquisition. As always, the album also incorporates everything from thrash riffs to acoustic guitars and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a true work of art and arguably one of the best black metal albums ever made. Naturally, I wanted to discuss the album with the band and am pleased to bring you the following thought-provoking with Beleth.
On your last album “Exilium” concluded a trilogy of songs about the ancient Sumerians. Are any of the songs on your new album about ancient civilizations?
No. “Haeresis” is a conceptual album about the Spanish Inquisition. This album treats the topics of black magic, torture to extirpate confessions, necromancy, and the power of the inquision in that society.
When we interviewed you for your last album, you cited Hans Zimmer, Beksinski and Nietzsche as influences. Who were your influences this time around?
The main influences for this album were torture, death, suffering, and the madness of the Christianism.
Your new album title Haeresis is Latin for Heresy, if Google translate is informing me correctly. I know you’ve used Latin in some of your work in the past. Are you fluent in the language? Are there any other languages you know aside from English and Spanish?
Not really fluent in Latin but I’m learning. Yes, I speak Spanish, English, French and Valencian (our mother language in our area, like Catalan).
In our last interview you mentioned that a book called The Power of Magic introduced you to Satanism when you were 12. Who is the author of this book? What is your favorite book of spells? (I’m curious because I’m Wiccan.)
Hahaha I totally forgot about it. I just look for it in my library and I found that my book is from Henry G. Grunwald, year 1992. It’s called “El poder de la magia” and you can find it in the internet but obviously written in Spanish, I don’t know if it’s translated to any other language. My favorite book of spells is “Le Veritable Dragon Rouge”, I own an exclusive Spanish.
I love the new album, by the way. As with your last album, one of the things I love about it is how you incorporate flourishes of acoustic guitars into your songs. Who are your favorite acoustic-centric artists or artists who incorporate acoustic guitars into their black metal?
Thank you I really appreciate it. Well I really don’t know, I think it’s something really personal from us due we still introducing acoustic guitars from the beginning and is something people appreciate a lot.
I don’t follow any concrete “acoustic” artist, but I love the banjo solo in the song Myr from Taake.
Most artists have one particular favorite album that they always strive to do something as good as. Is there an album that you’re trying to make your own version of? If there’s not one particular album, what are some of your favorite albums that you find inspirational?
No, I never tried to create any version of anyband and record it, I prefer to compose original material, but in that case I think the album would be “Storm of the Light’s Bane” from Dissection.
I love the Haeresis album cover, which I understand was done by Seth Siro Anton. Which one of you owns the original piece of art? What did Seth name the piece?
Well, actually it didn’t happen in that way. We know Seth from some years ago and we asked him for a special artwork, we just gave him some info like “topic”, “something explicit”, “big impact” and he unleashed his magic. About the final result we haven’t changed almost anything, it was perfect from the very beginning.
I know you guys self-recorded and self-produced the new album. Was this your first time doing so? Did you have a mentor who taught you how to produce or did you just gradually figure it out from being in the studio so many times or some other way?
Yes, it was self produced but not self recorded, we recorded the album in Firework Studios in our city, Valencia. Later it was mixed and mastered in Necromorbus Studios by Tore Stjerna (Watain, Tribulation) in Sweden. We worked in previous albums with Daniel Cardoso from Anathema, he is one of the greatest musicians in Portugal and we learned a lot from him.
What equipment and/or software did you use to produce the new album? For example, did you use Pro-Tools? Did you do it all digitally or was there analog involved?
We did it Firework Studios and as far as I know they use Qbase, then some reamping with Diezel Herbert head, that’s for guitars, the rest was recorded in the classic way. We did it all in the modern way but tried the sound to remain classic.
I know you collaborated with Christos Antoniou on Haeresis. Which tracks did he contribute to? Did you produce his parts as well? Emmm no man, it was on “Divinity” album back in 2009 and he collaborated with orchestral arrangements in the track named “Divinity”.
What are your plans to tour behind Haeresis? What countries do you plan to play in?
We will present Haresis in Oct and Nov through Spain and later in December we will tour Europe with Hate from Poland, we will perform at Germany, Italy, France, UK, Cz Rep and Portugal.
You were still doing some tours where you were opening for bigger bands last time around. Is that still the case or are you choosing only to headline now that you’ve got yet another album under your belt?
We really don’t like to headline. We prefer to tour with big names and perform with bands from diferent styles, this is the way we increase our fanbase and let us demonstrate what happens in our shows to other people that never saw us live before.
Who will be opening for you, or who will you be opening for? I was just thinking how awesome it would be if you could tour the States with your labelmates Skeletonwitch.
Tour with Skeletonwitch would be amazing, I really love this band. Anyway I think we are not the best band for a tour with them, for the moment when we received an offer to tour here in Europe or there in the US, it was mainly with old school Black or Death Metal bands. We are really looking forward to tour the States; our fanbase its getting bigger and I think it would be a step further.
What is your stage set up like these days? Are you introducing any new elements that you can tell us about? Last time you were telling us how you used blood and animal heads in the past – do you still use those? If you don’t mind my asking, did you butcher the animals whose heads you used on stage yourself or did you get them from a shop?
We still use pig blood and now we started using fire and candles, new elements like a 2’5 meters Antichrist cross with barbed wire in front of the drumkit. Bro… we don’t kill animals, I never hear about some band which did it.
I know many types of metal are very, very popular in Japan. Have you found a big audience there? What countries are you the most popular in?
Obviously Spain is one of the places where we find more attention, also in Germany, UK and Poland, in South America and Mexico we found a great respect during the last years.
What is the translation of the Latin part spoken at the beginning of “The Submission Discipline”? Is it a prayer? Are any of the songs on the album prayers?
Diferents parts from old Spanish prayers.
Alere Flamam veritatis, et lux in tenebris lucet.
Da mihi animas, caetera tolle, fiat iustitia et pereat mundus.
Fanning the flames of truth, the light shines in the darkness.
Give me their souls and bring with you everything else.
imparts justice although perishes the world.
In the video for “The Submission Discipline” people and animal’s heads are meshed together and it kept making me think of the third eye, or people’s psychic abilities. Do you believe in psychic powers? Do you have them? (I do.)
Hahaha I guess I am a very rational person. I believe in energies and well I’m not a religious person but I trust in the Pantheism.
What is the book that blood is dripped on in the video for “The Submission Discipline”?
The Holy bible.
There are a lot of insects in the video for “The Submission Discipline.” Are these purely to be horrifying, as they’d be used to be in a horror movie, or are you actually a fan of insects in the way that some people study them, collect them, etc?
Well, I’m a fan of grasshoppers, I fucking love them. Can’t explain the connection right now.
Have you made any other new videos? If not, will you be making any? (Could you tell us which songs you’ll have videos for?)
We made a lot of videos in previous albums, all of them uploaded to Youtube. Maybe for 2017 we will make a new one but we are not thinking about it right now.
I know you’re from Spain and I must admit I don’t know of any other black metal bands from Spain off the top of my head. How big is the black metal scene in Spain? Are there any fellow black metal bands from Spain that you’d recommend?
The BM scene is very small here, we are one of the most recognized extreme bands from Spain. This country is not prepared for the Extreme Metal, the Classic Metal and Avantgarde work really good here. I would recommend you Hate Legions, they are good friends and amazing people.
Speaking of black metal bands, I noticed that this time the press release for your new album didn’t call you black metal, instead calling you “extreme metal.” Which do you consider yourselves these days? I do hear thrash and even melodic metal influences in your songs, among others, but I’ve always thought of you as a black metal band.
We never considered us as a True Black Metal band. We mix a lot of styles in every album, we are not a “one genre” band. So Iberian Extreme Metal, or Iberian Blackened Death Metal is fine for us. Finally we do what we like most and what we consider is the best option in every album, but metalheads and press consider a new definition for our music.
I know Haeresis delves into the darker history of Spain. Is it focused entirely on the inquisition or are there other pieces of Spanish history reflected in the lyrics as well?
The lyrics are focused mainly in the Spanish Inquisition, the confessions, Auto da fe, trials and torture but I talk also about black magic, rituals, necromancy, torture, and more.
What albums are you listening to these days (of any genre)?
I usually listen to Extreme Metal all time, this week Im burning all my cd’s from Anaal Nathrakh.
Here in the States, the vinyl record format is becoming very, very popular again with sales going up each year for the past several years. Is there also a vinyl resurgence in Spain? Do you personally listen to a lot of music on vinyl?
Yes I think that’s happening worldwide. Not really, but I’m building a list of vinyls collection. It will be easier this Christmas for my wife.
Cassette tapes are also starting to make a weird comeback here. Is that happening in Spain? Do you still listen to any cassettes?
Only with very Old School bands. No, cassettes are not my cup of tea.
What do you think about Spotify and other streaming services? Do you feel like the exposure you get on there outweighs the fact that they pay so little, for example?
They pay very bad shit, but is a very good promotion tool, I think the streaming is the new big tool of the 21th Century and surely in some years will crush the industry as some years Napster did. I listened that is possible in some years Spotify will be established as a main label and they will release the big comercial artists, I think this is very possible.
What was the first album you ever bought with your own money? What format was it on?
Fuck! I don’t know man, I was a child, probably Antichrist Superstar.
What are your favorite 5 books?
Dorian grey diary.
Lord of the rings.
Game of thrones dance of dragons.
Interview with the vampire.
And one that has nothing to do with the rest A brief history of time from Stephen Hawkings.
Who is your favorite filmmaker (movie director)? What are your favorite movies by them?
Michael Moore. Capitalism a love story.
Name three artists from your parents’ record collection who you actually like.
If someone was giving you a million dollars to give to charity and it could only go to one charity or cause, which would it go to?
To an animal sanctuary.
If you could bring back one musician from the dead, who would you bring back?
Amy winehouse if I can bang her, if she’s not into me, Elvis Presley to make him dance till death.