Interview with Die Entweihung

Interview with Die Entweihung

- in Written interviews

Hi! How has Die Entweihung’s music evolved over the years?
Hi guys! Since this is primarily my solo project, the development of music has always been related to my personal taste and what I was interested in doing musically for a specific period of time. If you take, let’s say, the second album and the ninth, it may seem that these are completely different bands. But if you listen to my music in chronological order, you can very clearly see how the music, the quality of recording and arrangement changed from album to album. At first it was completely raw, rough primitive black metal, then for several albums in a row there were very experimental albums, in line with raw mid-tempo but melodic black metal with many synthesizer passages. Starting from 2015, with the album “Neverending Terrorism” there was a complete rebranding, I left the pseudonym, changed the logo, the quality of the recording improved significantly, guest musicians began to be involved in the recording, and the style itself moved towards the so-called “Blackened Heavy Metal”, the musical basis began to gravitate towards more classical forms of metal and hard rock, but with an admixture of black, doom and thrash, as well as Middle Eastern folk.

What inspired the decision to reissue “Kings & Pawns,” and what improvements can listeners expect?
I love this album very much, but it turned out that at the time it did not receive the attention it deserved, as I would have liked. The first pressing sold out within a year, without receiving attention in the underground press or among fans. At the moment, even on Discogs, literally a few copies are available for purchase, I also only have 7 or 8 copies left. Therefore, the re-release of this album was definitely a matter of time. Moving a little away from the topic, I would also like to say that my plans for the coming years are to re-release most of the old albums, because some albums are unavailable or need to be remastered (The first in this series was the second album “Hypnotic Dreams”, remastered and given a new design; it was finally re-released in December 2023 by the American label Inverted Chalice Productions).
Returning to the “Kings & Pawns” reissue. There you will find updated artwork (a new cover that interprets the theme of the original artwork in its own way), as well as remastered sound, which was created by my friend Yuri “DarkDevil” from the Israeli Pantheon band (fans of the post-Soviet underground may remember him from the death metal band Temptation!). The original sound was my attempt to preserve a certain archaic sound, as if it had been hypothetically recorded by a hellish hard and heavy band in the 70s, the updated remastered sound sounds more modern, heavy and high quality, although still completely different from the standards of modern recording, rather it closer to the mid-90s, which I am incredibly happy about.

Can you share the influences behind the diverse musical styles on “Kings & Pawns”?
In fact, this album is in every sense a continuation of the previous two albums, so what was the inspiration for “Kings” can be attributed to both the previous two and the two subsequent albums (including the new one that is being prepared now). Well, for example, I can name such bands as Bathory (their Viking period) (epic component), Orphaned Land (Middle Eastern component), Paradise Lost (perhaps their influence is not so noticeable, but it is definitely there, especially in the general mood and solo guitars), Metallica (the general structure of the songs, the main riffs, and… Metallica is Metallica, the number one band for me), and the Norwegian school of black metal of the 90s, of course, where would we be without it.

What’s the main theme behind the lyrics on this album, and how does it connect with your previous work?
The general theme of all Die Entweihung’s creativity, starting from 2015, is social problems, wars, people’s dependence on the Internet, money addiction, in short, all aspects of modern gloomy reality. The concept of the album “Kings and Pawns” specifically is a confrontation, most of the songs are dedicated to various confrontations – man and society (which suppresses him), man and government (constant wars to which those who have power send ordinary people, as well as the typical behavior of liars who at first swear they will do everything for their people, if only these people would elect him as president, but in the end he only puts more and more money into his pocket, and he doesn’t care about the fate of ordinary people at all), man and fate (we must live every day as if it were our last because you never know whether you will wake up tomorrow), people and everyday life (how many people dream of being cool musicians, artists, leaving their mark on something, but how many achieve it? Especially in countries that are not very developed, often all the ambitions of such people end up being torn apart by everyday life and family life, because when music doesn’t bring money, you are forced to earn it somewhere else, and in the end there is no time or energy left for their music or art in general – that’s how dreams die). The cover version of “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon, which I think many people know, also fits well into this concept.

How was it collaborating with guest musicians, and what impact did they have on the album?
This was the first time in almost 10 years that I used guest musicians. The last time before this I worked with Nikolay “SiN” from the Astarium project, when he helped me with clean vocals for my cover of the Belarusian band Apraxia. From then on, I did and recorded everything else myself. As part of the work on “Pawns,” it was decided to invite friends as an experiment to see what happens. We recorded the title song “Kings & Pawns” together with Alexander Ivanov, a russian vocalist, now he is in the heavy/thrash band JINX, and before he was involved in many bands of different styles. Two songs were recorded together with Alena Krakorova from the Czech band Nocturnal Pestilence, and the bass part for the cover of Der Gerwelt was recorded by Anton Shirl, known in the post-USSR underground for his participation in the death metal band Tales Of Darknord, and it was he who recorded the original bass part for the same song I covered! Anton was unable to record more parts for the album, recording just this one, and Alexander was planned as a permanent vocalist for further albums, but cooperation with him also ended. But Alena recorded about 40% of the vocals for the next album “Strict Regime Country” (2022), and right now she is preparing vocal tracks as the main vocalist for the future album! I am grateful to all the guests, they all made a significant contribution, Alexander added a cool thrash groove to the title track, and Alena brought powerful female vocals, which I have long wanted to bring to my music.

What does the title “Kings & Pawns” represent for this album?
There couldn’t be a better title for this album after I wrote the song of the same name! And the cover of the reissue convinced me even more of the correctness of the concept and title of the album – in fact, you don’t even need to mention politics or social problems here – the whole world, one way or another, is kings and pawns, and the king for some is most likely just a small pawn for others, more significant kings…in fact, the puppet threads of the main character on the new cover speak for themselves (and, of course, the cross hanging on the wall also hangs there for a reason).

How does “Kings & Pawns” showcase Die Entweihung’s growth as a band?
I believe that this album was not only the best at the time of writing and release, but remains one of the best to date that I have released. On this album, the approach to sound changed, a much better drum machine was used, the mixing and the general atmosphere became more… mature?! The album absorbed all the best ideas and developments from the previous two albums, plus over the past few years I have grown as a musician and arranger, so the final result, I think, turned out really strong.

What were the biggest challenges in creating this album?
Creating every new album is a challenge. Writing music that is not only as good, but better than previous material, producing songs with better sound quality than last time is always a real challenge. On this particular album, in addition to what I mentioned earlier, I was not entirely sure what would come of the duets with guest musicians. And it’s not even that they are good or bad vocalists, etc., it’s just that after so many years of working alone, I’m used to working on music, relying on my skills and abilities, be it playing the guitar or vocals, but this time I, in some point, stepped outside my own musical comfort zone. But everything turned out great, and it gave me the incentive and confidence to continue working with other musicians (on the next album there were already 4 of them, and on the material that is currently being worked on, I think there will be about 6 or 7).

How do you see Die Entweihung’s place in the Blackened Heavy Metal scene?
A difficult question, because I don’t really know the bands playing in this genre and whether there is even a scene of this genre as such. Initially, when I moved away from more standard black metal, I called my music simply Melodic Dark Metal, with musical references to the album “A Dead Poem” (1997) by Rotting Christ, as well as “Scum Brigade” (2001) by the Moscow underground band Stonehenge, I mean the extreme screaming combined with more traditional metal genres. Over time, I was advised the term “Blackened Heavy Metal”, which actually seemed more correct to me. Do I have any place among bands of this type? Only Satan knows.

Can you talk about the decision to work with specific labels for the reissue?
When work on the reissue began, I knew for sure that the labels that released the original version would not participate in the re-release, and the label that released the last album at the moment (“Strict Regime Country”) also abandoned this idea. We have been in contact with the Acid Vicious label for several years now (or rather, at the time we met there was no label, there was only a fanzine + distro, if I remember right), when I asked if he would recommend one of the labels, it turned out that he would be happy to release it himself! Initially, we decided that we would simply divide the circulation into two, but in the process of my further searches, the young US label Inverted Chalice Prods (which re-released my 2nd album “Hypnotic Dreams” in December last year) joined the project, followed by the Mexican label Bajo Tierra Records, as a result we have a classic Jewel case edition of 500 copies, which, thanks to the above-mentioned labels, can be obtained almost anywhere in the world. In general, this was the main plan – to invite labels from different continents to release it, so CDs would be available not only, say, in Europe or only in the USA (with current postal prices it’s often simply unrealistic to buy a CD, even if it costs 5 dollars, mail will cost 12-15), but all over the world.

What role does the album artwork play in conveying the album’s themes?
I guess I have already touched on the ideas that formed the basis of the album’s design earlier… both covers represent the same idea – the state in the role of the king and ordinary citizens sent to fight or simply victims of hostilities, repression, etc., in the role of pawns. The original artwork, in a more cartoonish form, presented the idea quite literally, but the updated cover is darker and not so literal, appealing to the actual game of chess (death chess, I would say), where the figures on the board are full of blood, and the one making the move is the ruler of the nation, behind being watched by his big older brother. In general, I think the idea is implemented as clearly as possible, while several interpretations can be found, and this, I think, is wonderful.

How have your personal experiences influenced Die Entweihung’s music?
This project is my whole life, in musical terms you can trace my development as a musician, arranger, composer, in lyrical terms – my opinion, position or just an observation on this or that issue. So of course my personal experience always influences what I create within Die Entweihung. If we talk about writing lyrics and developing album concepts, then of course, over time, my point of view on something may change, and this is normal, but you can always trace my opinion over a certain period of time, taking a specific album. Although I must say that the early albums, in terms of lyrics, represent practically nothing to me now, as those were the times of searching, trying to find myself within the framework of Die Entweihung, because of this, lyrics were in two languages, often abstract lyrics, or just a fantasy of the mind. Over the past 10 years, this has been a more structured project in all respects, I have matured (but have not become wiser, hahaha), and Die Entweihung has become equally more mature for sure.

What can fans expect from Die Entweihung in the future?
At the moment, work on a new album is in full swing, from the innovations I can say that this will be the highest quality work both in sound and in arrangements – this time a live saxophone, violin and cello will be involved, as well as all the songs in this times will be performed by Alena in the role of lead vocalist. In general, I don’t like to voice plans too much until they have come true, because you never know what will happen tomorrow, especially in a country like Israel.

Any interesting stories from the making of “Kings & Pawns” or during the reissue process?
An interesting story happened last year; it was connected with the remastering of the album, or rather with the situation due to which this remastering was carried out and what ultimately happened. So, even before plans to re-release the remastered album with a new cover, etc., a few months after the release of the original edition, I made a deal with one South American label to release an album with the same sound but in digipak for the local market. But it’s one thing to come to an agreement, another thing to actually release it. Well, months passed, soon the original edition was sold out, and work on the Latin edition never progressed. But after a while, it was already the beginning of 2023, the label owner suddenly wrote to me that I should urgently send the files, because he was going to print the edition in the very near future. At that time, my friend Yuri “DarkDevil” (Pantheon (Isr), ex-Temptation (Ukr)) had already helped me with the mastering of the newest album at that time, “Strictly Regime Country”, so the thought just occurred to me that since this Latin edition would be released soon, and It will, in fact, be the only one available, I decided that I needed to remaster the album and send the remaster to the label instead of the original. So, afraid of not being on time (not being in time where, I wonder, hahaha), I asked Yuri if he could do the remastering as quickly as possible, and what do you think? In a matter of days, the completely remastered version was already in my hands! Without hesitation, the updated material was sent to the label, and… that’s right, nothing has been released until now. A few months later, I finally realized that this edition would not see the light of day, and then work began on updated artwork and searching for new labels.
By the way, Yuri also did a brilliant job of remastering for my second album “Hypnotic Dreams” reissue, thank you, brother!!! In just a few weeks his actual band, Pantheon, is releasing a new album “Dead Existence”, and this, my friends, is a bomb, take the time and listen to it, if you like extreme but melodic hook metal – you won’t be disappointed!

Who are your biggest musical influences?
Metallica would definitely be at number 1 on this list, this band brought me into the world of rock and metal many years ago, and yes, I am one of those die hard fans who normally accepted all these “weirdnesses”, be it “Loud”, “St. Anger” or later albums. Ok, next – Nirvana. Kurt Cobain is my all-time rock hero. I know that for many orthodox metalheads Nirvana has always been like a bone in the throat, but I don’t care. For me, this band with their 3-4 albums removed 80% of the entire rock and metal scene of the 80s. Next I would probably go with Ozzy (solo), Deep Purple, King Crimson and Warlock/Doro. And then there would be a list of tons of rock and hard rock bands from the 60s-80s, heavy metal from the 80s, underground metal (mostly black and doom/gothic, I don’t like thrash and death metal) from the 90s, and some different bands like Porcupine Tree, Black Crippled Phoenix etс. There are also many bands where I only really like 1 or 2 albums, but they are really on my list of favorites and huge influences, such as Kreator’s “Outcast“ / “Endorama“.

How do you approach incorporating social commentary in your music?
The social component, as an integral part of what is happening in the world, is a very important part of my current creativity, often I don’t even think too much, topics and ideas for songs come by themselves, because if we look around – in many regions there is war, poverty, religion rules. New generations, young people are born already immersed in the Internet, in social networks, spending much more time in the virtual world than in the real one. So all these social problems and comments actually lie on the surface, and as a rule, I don’t even need to express, much less impose my vision of these events, it’s enough to simply describe what’s happening, so that perhaps some of the fans will think about it (although this is unlikely, lyrics in metal are the last thing people pay attention to, haha).

What are your goals for Die Entweihung going forward?
The goals are simple: to give decent promotion to the re-release of “Pawns”, to complete and release a new album and, if it would be possible, to continue to re-release old albums with new remastering and, in some cases, artwork. And, of course, the main goal is to sell a bunch of CDs and digital files in order to finally buy a golden toilet ov hell! On a more global level, I hope I still have time for a few good albums.

How do you hope Die Entweihung will be remembered in the metal community? Thank you for your time!
Ideally, as a project that did not compromise, but made only the music that he wanted and wrote about what was interesting to its creator. There is too little freedom in life (perhaps there is none at all – again returning to the concept of kings and pawns – no one can be truly free, because everyone is being watched by someone who is higher), so for me my music, and music in general is the sort of freedom for which I do not compromise, but do exactly what I consider necessary and correct. If someone thinks what I do is wrong or bad, I do not congratulate him on this, I don’t care. Simple as that.
Thanks for the interview, there were really great questions! Thanks to all the readers who finished reading, I hope you enjoy the re-release of “Kings & Pawns”!

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