interview: Oscar Wendt
‘Our Art of Poisoning is a personal message that I bring forward through our music’
photo: Ars Veneficium
The Goat Tavern: Hi S. Am I right in thinking that Ars Veneficium translates from Latin as poisonous or magical art? How does the name relate to the band’s message or beliefs?
S.: Hey, you’re kind of right, the exact translation of Ars Veneficium is The Art of Poisoning. How does this refer to our music? Well, our Art of Poisoning is a personal message that I bring forward through our music. A ritual that I sing throughout the songs in which I poison the mind of others. My message weights with a darker theme like most black metal bands of course, yet, very personal. My lyrics are also a personal vision that I create and thus brought to life in our music.
You’re just releasing your debut album, The Reign of the Infernal King. Comparing to your earlier EP, there is an enormous improvement in sound and song writing. Where did you record it and why is there such a gap between the releases?
The time gap between our EP, The Abyss and our full-length album, The Reign of the Infernal King was basically a result of too many line-up changes. We had a few setbacks by changing our drummer twice after the release of our EP and we also had a new rhythm guitar player. Both had to learn the songs before we could enter the studio. The album was already written and nearly finished in 2015. But we wanted to take things slow and make sure everyone knew his part before entering the studio. There was no point in rushing things as we had already been through that stage like you could hear on our EP. Which kind of answers your other question as well. The EP has strong songs but we rushed it a bit with the recordings, I think, and that’s why the result of the sound on the EP is very basic and the recording is a bit sloppy.
We recorded our full-length album by ourselves at the home studio of our rhythm guitar player, Archcaust, except for the drums which were recorded at Mortsella Studio in Belgium. Later, we sent everything to Wolfthrone Studios in Finland for the final mixing and mastering.
What are your expectations with The Reign of the Infernal King? Is there anything in particular that you’re trying to achieve with your debut album?
Hmm, I don’t really have any big expectations. I mean, the whole album is still a personal highlight, a goal which had already been achieved since everything came to a positive ending through the release. Of course, it would be great if the album is well received by the fans, which is, I think, a standard expectation for all musicians/artists. And yes, if this resolved in gaining more live shows and reaching even further to present our art, I would be more than satisfied at this particular moment.
I must say that I really like the graphics on The Reign of the Infernal King. Could you say a bit more about the artist responsible for this job?
Thanks for your positive comment on the graphical design of our album artwork. The whole album has been drawn by Opposition Artworks from Serbia who did an amazing job, I have to say as well. He is really talented and was able to perfectly imagine how to draw the artwork for the album based on my descriptions. I’m very pleased with the result. The layout adjustments and the slipcase design have been created with the drawings of Oppositions Artworks by Moornebheym, who also works for Immortal Frost Productions and does basically all the artwork or final adjustments for each and every IFP catalogue release.
You are also running Immortal Frost Productions. You feature some excellent bands like Azaghal, Skygge, Scutum Crux or, of course, Ars Veneficium. What is your label’s priority? Do you have any plans for development or do you prefer to stay a small/medium venture?
That’s correct. I’m the Big Boss behind the record label. My priority has always been the same for the last 7 years: to promote, release and distribute quality underground black metal bands and releases. Of course, we have plans for development, for example we’re trying to come up with new ideas daily to improve our services, quality and image of the record label. Do I prefer to stay small? Well, I like the underground and I still run my record label out of passion for this specific genre. IFP will never reach the same level as large labels such as Nuclear Blast, of that I’m sure, but that’s also not my goal as I explained earlier.
You’re from Belgium. How would you say, Belgian black metal scene compares to the other countries. Do you think that has changed significantly over the years?
I have never been a big fan of the Belgian scene to be honest. We do have a few good bands here and there but in general there is nothing to be blown away by. I think our neighbours in France have a much larger scene and, of course, Scandinavia is probably still and always will be the role model for this music genre. Another country that I would like to mention is Australia. I really like the Australian scene, they have a great number of magnificent bands in many different subgenres of black metal.
To answer your second question, I do think the scene has changed a lot. People/fans no longer go to concerts or festivals like they used to do and there is also a tremendous drop in the buying of physical records in the past few years, of which I can speak as a record seller. It’s a shame really, the new era of digital downloading and streaming is slowing things down or even ruining this business.
Looking at your Metal-Archives profile, it’s easy to notice that you’ve been and you are a rather busy vocalist. Would you tell us a bit more about other bands you worked with? Which ones are the most interesting or challenging to you?
I’ve been very active in the past indeed, a bit too active actually, which is also one of the main reasons why I split up most of my studio projects; time was really becoming an issue. One of the most interesting bands besides my main band Ars Veneficium, would still be Hammerstorm. Simply because it is a totally different sub-genre of black metal than all the other bands. In the past, I was very into this down-tempo black metal also described as depressive black metal in which I had a good handful of bands active and could express my more emotional side. Yet, this kind of music always kept me a bit down in my personal life as well, something that I tried to get away from and finally managed to do so.
Hammerstorm is totally different. Me and Josh (founder of Immortal Frost Productions) have worked for 3 years on Hammerstorm’s first full-length album, The Lonely Wanderer and I’m still very proud of this album, even though the music is totally different than what I do with Ars Veneficium. Hammerstorm leans more towards an atmospheric, medieval, folkish side of black metal with a good amount of melancholy on the vocal and lyrical part. Still very interesting and I hope to create a second album or EP some day with this studio project for sure.
Coming back to the topic of Ars Veneficium itself, I must emphasize how balanced and defined your first record is. It sounds like you feel very comfortable playing what you play. Is there any plan for future work? Do you want to explore different music regions or you prefer to keep Ars Veneficium as it is at the beginning?
To be honest, we learned a lot from our EP and I think our full-length album surely has set our path straight. Me and Ronarg truly believe in our music so yes, we feel comfortable. Speaking about future plans, certain things are going on at this very moment. We’ve already written one new song for a new release which will be a split album with the filthy bastards from Ulvdalir (Russia). A band that I’m a fan of since 2008, when they released their first two full-length albums.
What about touring plans? Who can you see Ars Veneficium sharing the stage with?
At this moment, we aren’t thinking about any big tours except for weekend shows, since we already did three mini tours earlier this year, which was great of course! In November, we do have a few gigs confirmed where we’ll be presenting our full-length album, The Reign Of The Infernal King. We’ll be performing again in Germany, Belgium and we will also go to Czech Republic for the first time. On a few of these gigs we will be playing together with our friends of Sekhmet (Czech Republic).
Great! Thanks for talking to us and we hope that The Reign of the Infernal King will be well received by media. It really deserves it! And as usual, the last section is yours! Any last words?
I hope so too and I would like to thank you for this interview and your research for your questions. It’s always fun to do an interview with someone who knows your background a bit instead of answering the standard questions. I would also like to thank our fans and the readers of this interview for taking interest in Ars Veneficium and our message. I hope our future might bring us to a stage close to all of you where we can perform our art in your presence! Hail!