Hi Blasphemer! Could you discuss the role that Brazilian witchcraft and Umbanda tradition play in your personal belief system, and how they inspired the themes on the “Black Royal Spiritism – I – O Sino da Igreja”?
– Hi Stanley. Well, I have been introduced to and even included in certain rituals and offerings in different places of “worship” over the last 10 years. And as fascinating and intriguing these topics are, I felt that by bringing this lore and practice into a black metal setting could result in something unique, and for me personally, something more interesting than the more common thematics BM is associated with. I have massive respect for bands following the more trodden path, as long as it’s done well and convincing, but for me, by bringing a different spirituality into the equation, a whole new set of ideas came to life.
You know, here in Portugal, where I currently reside, these elder traditions are somehow spread out and almost commonly accepted. Its almost a regular part of everyday life for many people around here, as in Brazil where these ideas got cultivated to begin with. My girlfriend is also initiated into Candomblé, which is somewhat connected to these traditions so I have a very close insight into many aspects of these practices. In light of this, the idea of bringing the “left hand path” part of it into my own context, into my own music really changed the energy attached, if I can put it like that. Further, I do hope this might interest my listeners as well, as its lore and history is quite fascinating. The blindfold the church put on man is horrid.
How does the “Black Royal Spiritism – I – O Sino da Igreja” fit within the wider landscape of black metal, and how does it stand out as a unique contribution to the genre?
– Regarding “fitting in”, I actually don’t know and I certainly don’t care. I definitely don’t have the need to feel that I belong to anything at all and I actually never really did. I always went my own way and that’s how it keeps on unfolding, apparently. Chimera aside perhaps, with GDOW, OAC and parts of WLA, there was nothing common or adaptable with any of them. Adapting or fitting in for me means conforming and that’s a word you don’t find in my vocabulary to begin with, hehe. As for the part of standing out: I really do believe this is a unique album. Musically and thematically its all a little bit different IMO and I don’t know of anything to compare it with, at least thematically. The song “Evig Dissonans” perhaps, the song sung in Norwegian which is slightly off theme and in that sense, an isolated track on the album, but everything else has a red line. The obvious musical links to my earlier works is a part of my signature, so to speak.
Vocals are sung in a mix of English, Portuguese and Norwegian. Can you talk about the decision behind that and how it enhances the themes on the album?
-Many, if not all of the hymns that is contrived and composed for the left hand path of the Umbanda are sung in Portuguese/Brazilian. In light of this, I felt it to be more sincere and in tune with the traditions to follow this up. I also took my own artistic liberty of including actual words and sentences from some of these hymns, such as at the beginning of “The Triump (Of Night & Fire)”. This particular passage, well it repeats so technically its 2, is taken from an actual hymn of praise to the great spirit of Exu Veludo. For the other languages, Norwegian is obviously my main language and I felt it would make sense to let that shine through on a song as well. In fact, I always wanted to try and write poetry in Norwegian, something I still am contemplating on doing, so yeah, a very natural thing for me. As for English, I guess its everyones “go to” language in terms of lyrics etc.
What inspired the album’s artwork, and how does it relate to the themes of the album?
– I had a few conversations with Sindre (Foss Scancke), the artist who did the cover, logo and the layout during the recording process and I explained to him the themes for the record and the album title etc, and this is what he came up with. It’s a beautiful piece of work, and it perfectly sets the tone for the album content IMO.
Can you talk about the significance of darkness and the occult in your music and your personal life?
– It has always been a source for some sorts of inspiration but id say, perhaps more in my latter years than in my younger days. Or let me rephrase that; I am more aware of the art and the possibilities within at this point. But I also do believe in the importance of light to balance out. This band is indeed a dark force, and that won’t change, but for me Vltimas is more in-between energies and my other band, Earth Electric, my Portuguese atmospheric Rock band, the energies are closer to the light. It’s all about balance as it is with everything in life. But yeah, I have been getting more and more into different forms of practice and it is something that feeds me on a daily basis.
In the making of “Black Royal Spiritism – I – O Sino da Igreja”, what was the biggest challenge you faced, and how did you overcome it?
– Speaking purely superficially, I guess the travel restrictions were the most annoying part, especially as my drummer lives in Dijon, France. It was quite the ride at times, and especially with the imposed Covid-free attestation I had to show to literally anyone working in the travel sector… even though I had been vaccinated for this purpose and this purpose only aka to travel. But yeah, no need pondering the doabouts of the big brother. I managed and that’s what matters at the end of the day.
For the actual album, when you are dealing in these dark corners of art there is always gonna be resistance. That could be one of the things that injects the overlooked x-factor in art as well, IMO.
Can you walk us through your thought process when crafting the atmospheric, ambient, and clean passage interludes that feature on the album?
– It’s not so much of a thought process, more of feeling Id say. Note that some of these songs are based on ancient lore of these traditions as well, so I am kinda making a soundscape to go with the lyrics or to the tale(s) being promoted. This comes to me when I step out of what I am doing and try to see it as a whole piece, rather than an individual song.
How have your experiences with Mayhem and Vltimas influenced your approach to songwriting and recording with RUÏM?
– We grow older and wiser, right, and every album I have been a part of is a learning curve, so to speak. We develop certain techniques and approaches over the years, so its all a part of the process. The most difficult, or should I say challenging, was the vocal approach as I haven’t really done much of this in the past. Sure, I did some vocals, some clean singing in my now defunct Gothic Doom metal band Ava Inferi, and I also did some vocals in a Death Metal band in my teenage years. And get this, this is the craziest bit; I actually stood in for Maniac once, at 2 shows in Holland and Belgium back in 1998 or so. That was fucked up, and definitely a weird thing to do, a weird decision by the band at the time… anyways, I digress, so yeah, that was the most challenging part of the recording. I actually re-did most of the vocals 2 times as well to get them the most intense I could possibly perform them.
Can you discuss your journey as a musician, from your early beginnings to where you are now, and how you have evolved as an artist?
– I still feel the same fire as I did when I first started out and did the WLA mini album. I guess this is something that I wanted to shine through here as well, perhaps to tie the circle in as it is slightly fuelled by those days, to some extent. Anyways, I still feel like a young rebellious spirit, at times anyway, and I still feel the same way for my art now as I did back then. It’s all expressions, and in this case an expression of worship and dedication. It’s raw energy, it’s a raw diamond. But I do believe it will stand the test of time, as I hope the rest of my musical back catalogue will.
How do you balance your personal life with your music career, especially considering the intensity of the music you create?
– Good question. I’m not sure that I do, hehe. I breathe and live my art and sometimes it’s difficult to get a break from it, I must admit. I was always slightly obsessive on this matter as well, I guess. But there are always tricks.
I guess it is particularly difficult when one does most work from home. I mean, it’s at home where my guitars are and it’s at home where most of my riff ideas or song ideas take their shape as well. During the pandemic it was extra challenging, not only due to the nature of this record, which truthfully made me slightly mad at times, but also as I was stuck at home, literally locked in, and unable to do the little weekend getaways that is the healthy way of moving forward for me. I couldn’t really do any of that as the rules in PT were very strict at the time. It was definitely challenging. I did manage to rehearse a bit in France during the pandemic, and the album was also recorded in France, close to Nantes in North Western France, so some distance was created this way. But yeah, it all went OK in the end despite its challenges. To circle back to your question, there’s nothing that a solid, and rather frequent vacation, a dash of mindfulness and some fine wine can’t fix.
Can you talk about the ways in which your Norwegian heritage has influenced your music and worldview?
– I guess it’s more about in which kind of environment we grow up. I guess my seemingly easy and safe childhood made me want to rebel against it all at one point. I don’t like conformity and suppression, and in Norway, growing up in the 70’s it was very much like this, especially in the countryside. Also being in a quite vacuous environment, where feelings kinda were suppressed in the favour of silent waters… I guess that’s one of the reasons that made me yell loudly once being in a position to do so.
How do you think the metal music scene has evolved over the years, and where do you see it heading in the future?
– I don’t really know what to say here as I am not a metal guy per se. I don’t really listen to any metal bands aside from old heroes, such as Priest, Kiss, Metallica, Sabbath etc. I dwell in the more 70s rock and this is where I find my fix. To me, most of the modern bands sound the same, it all sounds like it’s being manufactured in the same fabric. So I keep to what my preferences are, old and dusty. And clever. I listen quite a lot to mid 70’s Genesis actually, an amazing band.
Can you share any details about what lies ahead for RUÏM after the release of “Black Royal Spiritism – I – O Sino da Igreja”?
– The idea is to release a trilogy of albums with the same overall themes and dedication, following in the steps of the debut album. Actually, I already have the titles for the next 2 albums as well, so that’s already sorted. I even have a few songs slated and ready-made as well, so it’s actually in the process already. I will also probably try to bring this to the stages in 2025, for a few exclusive one offs after the release of the 2nd album. Then, from there on we will see what happens.
Can you tell us about any other musical or creative projects you are currently working on or have planned for the future? Thank you for your time!
– Yes, I have a scheduled Vltimas recording coming up, as we are about to do our 2nd full length. Very excited about that as the material is really, really good. Then after that, I will record my 2nd full length with Earth Electric as most of the tracks for that album is done as well… then I guess I’ll hit the road for a few months before starting to assemble the next RUÏM record. Lots of work ahead.
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