The album “Black Flame Eternal” is described as a statement of spiritual empowerment. Can you elaborate on the underlying philosophy and themes explored in the record?
In the case of this album, the Black Flame represents the spiritual flame of gnosis, or hidden knowledge. The songs deal with putting aside what may be considered “right” or “wrong”, clean or filthy, or good or evil, to explore within oneself in order to gain insight and to liberate the spirit from the flesh. Sometimes this takes people of our kind to places where others may feel very uncomfortable.
How do you see Cloak‘s music as a form of rebellion against societal conventions and modern tribalism?
That was actually written by the label and not us, but I can elaborate as a whole. We’ve always done our own thing and moved against any sort of groupthink. With today’s society, and world, these cowardly ways of living or thinking are rampant. Carving our own path has always been the only way for us to live.
With influences ranging from Swedish black metal to Danzig and Motörhead, how has Cloak incorporated these diverse inspirations into its own unique sound?
I think we’re far more rhythmic than most bands in our genre. Our lead guitar playing sets us aside as well. These bands influence us, but we mostly draw inspiration from inwards these days. Three albums worth of material gives us plenty to work with.
The third album in a band’s career is often seen as a crucial milestone. How do you believe “Black Flame Eternal” represents an evolution and growth for Cloak?
I think it’s a complete rebirth of the band in many ways. The first two albums were great stepping stones and we’re very proud of those, but the third album is a complete fist in the face to any preconceived notions.
Can you discuss the conscious decision to infuse the album with a more aggressive and powerful sound, moving towards your roots as individuals?
I think it’s simply where the band was going naturally, so we followed our hearts. Where we ended up is far greater than what we were initially expecting.
As a band known for delivering intense live performances, how would you describe Cloak’s approach and the merging of ethereal atmosphere with total abrasive chaos on stage?
These two elements are what we capture in our songs, so it’s only natural to have this juxtaposition of energies come out in our live shows. We want people to be able to be captured by our live performance, whether that’s in a deep trance or complete primitive violence.
How do you envision the songs from “Black Flame Eternal” translating to a live setting and connecting with audiences?
Very good, as we’ve already played 4 new songs live. They seem to be going off very well.
The album cover artwork by Jordan Barlow is visually striking. How does it represent the themes and atmosphere captured in “Black Flame Eternal”?
I learn new things about the artwork every time I look at it. The figure on top’s eyes have obviously been given or taken by the flames on the side, which is very representative of some lyrics on the album. There’s a juxtaposition of life and death represented by the humanlike face on top, and the skull on the bottom, all within an hourglass which obviously represents limited time. And like all of our covers so far, there are snakes. Snakes are representative of many things such as the freedom of choice and will, shedding of the skin to be reborn, dwelling underground and on top of the ground, thus being a liminal creature. It’s up to the listener to decipher what the cover might mean to them.
With experience gained from touring and live performances, how has the band refined its stage presence and ability to engage with audiences over the years?
We’ve been a busy live band from the beginning, so naturally we’ve progressed in many ways. The more you play, the tighter you get. I think it’s important to challenge yourself and expand the stage show with every new album, and we’ve certainly done that with the new era.
Can you share some insights into the recording process at The Green House studio and the role of Cameron Webb in shaping the album’s sound?
The recording was long and very difficult to complete. It took four to five months. Cameron really helped shape the final sound of the record greatly. We owe him a lot. We went with him because he worked with bands like Danzig, Motorhead, and many others in the past.
How does “Black Flame Eternal” compare to your previous albums in terms of lyrical content and the exploration of dark spirituality?
The first was maybe more explorative, whereas the second was more ominous, like something was about to burst out and attack at any moment. I would say Black Flame Eternal is possibly a combination of the two, but leans heavily on the aggressive and urgent side of things.
What are your thoughts on the role of music, particularly within the heavy metal genre, as a medium for expressing deeper philosophical and spiritual ideas?
I think it can be a very powerful and important tool to explore these things. Black Metal especially can answer questions that one may have had inside for a long time without really knowing it.
How does the concept of “total opposition” manifest in both your music and your personal lives as members of Cloak?
We tend to live outside of the typical norms of society or way of thinking in order to do what we need to do as artists. This obviously carries over to our music. There are no rules in Cloak’s writing process.
Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for Cloak as a band, and how do you see yourselves contributing to the metal scene in the coming years?
We want to expand as much as possible, which has always been the goal. I think Cloak, and this record especially, is something fresh and exciting that the metal scene has needed for a while.
Can you provide some insights into the significance and meaning behind the album’s title, “Black Flame Eternal”?
There are numerous themes of fire on the album. Fire being representative of a life lived free, unbound by any earthly shackles. It is often unpredictable and spreads wild, fast, and far until one day it burns out, much like a heart dies. But the Black Flame is a holy fire inside of us that represents spiritual gnosis, a connection to the primeval past or the time before time. This flame, or spirit, if strong enough, burns for eternity.
How does the concept of darkness and its symbolism play a role in Cloak’s music and artistic vision?
One must enter the places in the mind or physical world that may be uncomfortable in order to explore parts of themselves that can help answer many questions. Exploring the darkness is to forever enter new realms and can help bring new ideas or visions that can be translated into art.
In what ways does Cloak explore and incorporate elements of spirituality in its music, and what do you hope listeners take away from those experiences?
Scott: I believe I answered most of this already. It is up to the listener to decide what they want to take away from it. For us, we have our ways of working that translate into a stronger perception of the body, mind, and spirit.
How does Cloak approach the theme of death in its music, and what perspectives or insights do you aim to convey through those explorations?
Knowing that we have a limited time here is only a catalyst to achieve and conquer as much as we can during our short time in the flesh. Death is one of the only truths in this world, and it must be respected and honored.
In your view, what sets Cloak apart from other bands in the genre, and what do you believe is the band’s unique contribution to the metal landscape? Thank you for your time!
Put us in a room, or festival, or whatever setting with ten to twenty other bands and find out for yourselves. We tend to always stand out in one way or another. Thanks for the interview!
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