Heathen Deity interview

interview: Dawid Krosnia


‘Being true is doing what the hell you want as a band and to stand by your convictions and believe in it.’

photo: Dagon byDawid Krosnia

Heathen Deity is often mistaken for being a new band. Being, however, active for almost two decades, the band is growing its resources in the fight against religion. With its True English Black Metal banner, they certainly know what they are talking about and you can easily see that listening to their recently released demo – Religious Purification Through Fire. We shot some questions to Dagon and Azrael to find out what True English Black Metal means to them and who actually are Heathen Deity.

The Goat Tavern: Hi Dagon and Azrael, How’s things?

Dagon: Hello Dawid and The Goat Tavern team. Things are going very well, thank you, it feels good to be back on the live circuit again and being productive as an active True Black Metal act, upon this little island of black hoods and tainted ideals.

Azrael: Greetings, things are good and getting better.

You’ve recently played the Eradication Festival in Cardiff. What are your thoughts about the festival itself and how do you think your performance was received by the audience?

Dagon: This was the first time Heathen Deity have played in Cardiff and obviously our first time at Eradication Festival, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Our reception on Sunday was amazing! Eradication Festival isn’t a big festival, but what it doesn’t have in size and numbers it more than makes up for in enthusiasm and intensity.

Azrael: With all the time spent playing in bands over the years I never had the chance to play in Wales before so I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I feel we didn’t play at our greatest level on that day due to some technical difficulties on stage but we gave it our best shot under the circumstances we found ourselves. Despite all that, the response from the audience was great and couldn’t have been better.

Dagon: From what I saw all the bands on our day had a great response from the audience and in turn the bands performed very well.The Eradication team did a great job and we would be honoured to perform there again.

This was the first time I was able to witness your ritual live and you left a very positive first impression on me, I’m sure many others would agree. How much planning and work goes into your live performance? The reason I ask because your stage image looks very professional.

Dagon: We all practice our parts in our own time away from the rehearsal room so, when we are as a band, we can get straight to it. We are not able to get together as a band as much as we would like due to logistical restraints so when we do rehearse together, we do so for at least six hours with minimal breaks. We do this to push ourselves and build the stamina needed for live performances, so when it comes to performing live the time allotted to us shouldn’t be an issue. The whole set will be strong and powerful from start to finish. This kind of rehearsing is especially beneficial to me, I find using this kind of conditioning helps to make sure my vocal is strong for the whole performance and there is little if any recuperation needed after the show. This also will be helpful to us all if we ever wish to tour for a number of dates side by side.

Azrael: At the Blackwood Gathering last year we were able to dress the stage pretty much how we wanted so, as far as everything that performance was visually accurate as to how we want to present Heathen Deity to the public. At Eradication Festival we were a little pressed for time so we were only able to do so much yet still managed to make some effort in regards to how things looked and were presented. We recently played at Retro Bar in Manchester with Christ Agony and host of other bands. With no room on stage or time to prepare anything with the lack of space, all we had was the paint. I still believe we managed to create good atmosphere though and put across our vibe.

photo: Heathen Deity at Eradication Festival 2017, April 2017, by Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern

photo: Heathen Deity at Eradication Festival 2017, April 2017, by Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern

Your latest demo, Religious Purification Through Fire, came out earlier this year. Can you elaborate about the recording process of this release little bit?

Azrael: Yeah, the music was all recorded at my studio which I named Mirkwood Studios. The demo actually came about out of our album pre-production sessions I held when I was putting the songs down for the first time since our rebirth as a band. We are currently deep within the album production now but not too long ago I came back to these early recordings of the songs and thought they sounded pretty good. Raw, but good. We also needed to break our silence from a recording point of view and put out something fresh from our audiences point of view. As a band we have been living with these particular songs since 2002/2003, 14 years since they were first penned.

Dagon: Azarel laid the drums and the guitars down, I recorded the bass guitar parts for this release at Azrael’s studio purely because we could work together on the bass lines and the sound. The vocals were recorded at my home studio.

Azrael: The recording process was simple really, the guitars and drums were laid down first, and as Dagon said the bass after so we could work out what it was actually going to do on some parts that wasn’t set in stone. Dagon then took the songs and recorded the vocals in his own studio. All the mixing and mastering was done back at Mirkwood.

Where is your inspiration coming from? I can definitely sense some Northern European influence in your music…

Azrael: We wear our influences on our sleeves so to speak and I think this is evident with the sound of the band and the kind of songs we create and perform. We know what we like and play what we feel is right for us and the kind of atmospheres we want to put across. So many bands have played a part in the influence of what we do. Listing these bands would be an arduous task to say the least. At the end of the day we are Heathen Deity. We play Black Metal.

Dagon: Lyrically my inspiration is mostly the deep seeded hatred for religion and my Satanic beliefs, but it isn’t a limited aspect to the lyrical themes, I have no boundaries with lyrics. The music we create also pays a big part in setting the theme for the lyrics, obviously if I have written something and to me it doesn’t match the music then I will use them for something else. The song structures have a big impact in regard to the vocal lines, sometimes having the vocal lines follow the music on beat seams all too familiar so I try to change things up a little. But obviously every song is different.

I’ve noticed that in the demo and on the stage you were wearing a logo T.E.B.M (True English Black Metal). The original Norwegian version, T.N.B.M (True Norwegian Black Metal) was a Natterfrost’s idea. Your logo is designed to look like the Norwegian one. Is there any reason why you’d want to do that?

Dagon: Our ‘True English Black Metal‘ idea was initially based on the Norwegian logo that is obvious to see, but once I started to develop it more it our version became much more personal to Heathen Deity. The logo contains the year in which the band was formed. And inverted crosses to show our stance on anti-Christianity and also obviously the name of the band within the logo.

Our T.E.B.M logo is, as mentioned before, personal to the band. It was created and devolved to be a symbol for Heathen Deity alone and not for every Black Metal band from England. Unlike the T.N.B.M logo, which every new and upcoming Norwegian Black Metal band has seemed to have adopted as their own. But of course that is none of my business.

Azrael: I feel it is our statement. True English Black Metal. I get asked quite frequently what makes a band ‘true‘. Most of the time people would say that being true is the way a band sounds or what their lyrical context is. I see flaws in that logic. Is being true having Satanic lyrics and banning the use of keyboards within the music like so many people say? Does that mean bands like Emperor and Burzum for example, which are genre defining bands, are not true? I think not. For me, being true is doing what the hell you want as a band and to stand by your convictions and believe in it. Being true to yourself and not caring what anyone else thinks. This is something we do as a band and for me that is the reason why the emblem exists and why we put this True English Black Metal banner upon ourselves. We do what we want.

Dagon: Since the logo was made I have had a simplified version, just the letters, tattooed on the tops of my fingers (just below the knuckle) on my right hand, the hand which I hold my microphone. This is my personal dedication to Heathen Deity and too what we stand for as a band.

Lyrically your approach is not different to thousands of other black metal acts. Satanism, anti-Christianity and anti-religion topics are the most common themes. What is pissing you off so much in Christianity and other religions to have a reason to write about it?

Dagon: I usually let the songs and my lyrics do the talking for me in regard to religion, as I could go on for hours. Firstly, let’s not confuse Satanism with anti-Christianity. Even if we, as a band, combine the two with our music, they are both very different things. But I think that can be discussed at a later time.

In our part of the world, so-called organised religion, especially Christianity, is nothing more than a misguided money making scam, full of lies, bigotry and political back handers. There isn’t anything of what I can only assume the original ideals of what Christianity may have stood for all those many years ago, I’m sure now nothing even vaguely remains of their honest ‘flock‘.

All organised religion is a constant plague on this world, if you think back on all the wasted years, destroyed lives and pointless wars, what was it all for? What did it achieve? Nothing but to line the pockets of politicians and so-called religious leaders, not to mention the continuation of the hypocrisy and the mythological ramblings these misguided people base their whole lives upon, and what is worse, the fairy tales that they have been forced to endure and tainted to believe to be the truth from birth, passing the falsehood on and on through their own children.

Christianity in particular in this day and age does nothing to prepare children to be a part of the world we are a part of now. Religion to me leaves a foul taste of rancid depict in the mouth. It is sick, twisted and perverted beyond anyone’s reckoning. It should be eradicated. And all traces of its incestual stench burnt from the face of the earth, then maybe humanity can progress into something that resembles civilization, and not hell bent on living in the past.

Azrael: Religion is also used as a form of control. It is used as a weapon against weak mined fools who cannot believe in themselves and need something else to believe in. It is in a sense a form of slavery.

Dagon: At the end of the day, this world is built on greed and lies. And there is none more deceptive and greedy than the church and organised religions. Any organisation or movement that preys on the weak minded to line its own pockets through fear driven manipulation needs destroying.

Most people would think that Heathen Deity is a new band but you’ve been active for almost two decades now. Yourself and Azrael are the only original members left in the group. What qualities do you need to have to be part of Heathen Deity?

Dagon: Indeed, Heathen Deity was formed in 1998. And through that time we have had quite a few members come and go. Some left due to musical differences, some due to personal reason. Some changes in the line-up were welcomed and some may say, encouraged, some were not.

Even though we have been formed since the latter part of the 1990s, Heathen Deity has not always been active, during the end of 2004 our drummer at that time, Sathan, left the band to pursue his own path in Norway. While we do not hold any kind of grudge in the slightest to Sathan, we are still in touch and talk on social media regularly, his departure from Heathen Deity struck us hard and we had real issues finding a replacement for him.

Azrael: It is a big misconception that we are new indeed. The tracks that appear on the Religious Purification Through Fire demo and the songs on our upcoming full-length album are 14 years old and some of them was part of our live repertoire in the early 2000s. I have lived with those songs the whole time Heathen Deity was on a hiatus and constantly worked on them. You could say they have evolved a little and adapted to the way we play now. I never lost touch with Sathan who later changed his name to Tybalt and I joined him in Norway and lived there for several years. This gave us the chance to concentrate on a band we formed together in 2003 called Ethereal Forest of which released its debut full-length in 2015 which is called Across the Pagan Labyrinth. I have always remained busy during my time away from Heathen Deity with various projects rooted in different genres but not excluding Black Metal.

Dagon: Even though Heathen Deity had been laid to rest at that time, that didn’t mean we had as musicians, like Azrael mentioned, he had his own projects and I started writing and continued creating music that eventually became Frostwork. During the time Heathen Deity wasn’t active I continued working with Frostwork and eventually released an EP, a full-length album and a split album through UKEM Records, also a number of cover songs for tribute releases. So, as musicians we defiantly haven’t been taking it easy.

We have been doing this for so long now that I really don’t know what I would do without being creative musically, and venting through it. Heathen Deity is a very serious band when it comes to its music, we will not tolerate any shit within our ranks. Music wise, you may say we are all in when it comes to the performance and the rehearsal, so this takes a great amount of commitment from our members and it does sometimes take its toll on you. We all have a similar dark sense of humour and off stage and away from the music we try to not take ourselves too serious, a time and a place for everything so to speak. The Heathen Horde is a family, it grows like a family and like any other has its dark times, its arguments, but at the end of the day we have each other’s backs. If you don’t fit in with our ethics, your time within this band is numbered, this has been proven on numerous occasions.

Can we expect that full-length debut album any time soon?

Dagon: We are in the process of recording the debut album at the moment, all the songs are written and demoed like we have mentioned earlier in this interview. So far the drums have been recorded to guide tracks. We currently have no label lined up for this release so there is no real pressure to get it out soon. This being the debut we all want to make sure it’s the very best we can do at this time.

Azrael: There has been a lot of pre-production already done in regards to the album. As I said earlier the demo was something that came out of the pre-production sessions. Things are moving forward at a steady pace with no stress. To me this is a monumental album that has been in our lives for a very long time. It has to be right and done on Dagon and my own terms. We have spent far too much time and put in way to much effort to just rush forward and make a half-baked album. Of course it will be raw and nasty but it has to be right. It has to be our statement and how we originally envisioned our first album to actually be.

photo: Heathen Deity at Eradication Festival 2017, April 2017, by Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern

photo: Heathen Deity at Eradication Festival 2017, April 2017, by Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern

Do you have any personal goals you’d like to achieve with the future releases?

Dagon: I think it will all depend on if we have label backing with the next release, we haven’t approached any one yet regarding the new album so if it happens who knows. A vinyl release of the album would be good, I collect vinyl and having a release on that medium has always been a goal of mine.

Azrael: I just want to release music. That is my only goal as far as being in any band. I thrive on that part more so than any other. Of course going out and playing live is good but it is in the studio where I really thrive and come alive. Creating art is where my heart and soul likes to reside most.

Dagon: Agreed, I enjoy performing live but holding a finished album in your hands, especially one that has been so long in the making will be a real achievement. I have no doubt in my mind that with our current line-up, comprising of our ‘new’ members: Forst, Xjort and Niall, this coming album will not be last you hear from us. Heathen Deity has been silent for way too long.

It came to my attention that you are currently under the Patricia Thomas Band Management. How did this collaboration come about? Patricia manages lot of big and respected names in the black metal underground. Is she currently doing anything with regards to helping you to record an album or play live outside the UK?

Dagon: I have known Patricia for quite a few years now, I initially ‘met’ her in I think late 2005 -2006 on Myspace, I noticed someone with a profile picture of Maniac’s (ex-Mayhem) cloak and one of his knives, we started talking and working together on a number of different projects from then on.

Patricia offers me advice and guidance when it is required regarding anything band related, from interviews, PR and anything really. When she has the time from managing the small horde which are her other bands she also helps with online publicity. Patricia is also a cherished friend, mostly because we share the same twisted sense of humour and we have both been doing this ‘business’ all too long to stand for any crap, we are definitely on the same page so to speak.

What are you live plans for the rest of the year? Can we expect another show in South Wales anytime soon?

Dagon: I think for this year we are more or less booked up with our live appearances, we don’t want to be doing shows all the time, repeating venues for the sake of playing live. To me personally shows and bands start to stagnate if they play the same material live for long periods of time. I want Heathen Deity’s shows to be special, even if they are in small venues, etc. The passion and intensity will be the same whether the venue is a small back room or a festival.

In May we appeared at the Retro Bar in Manchester, supporting Christ Agony. Our guitarist, Forst was looking forward to this one in particular as he has been a fan of them for a long time. In August we have the biggest show we have ever been a part of, we will be appearing on the New Blood Stage at this year’s Bloodstock Open Air. BOA promises to be largest audience we have ever performed for, so we are all eager for this one to go well. In September we are doing the Warhorns Festival in Selby with Skyforger, Old Corpse Road and many more great bands. Also in September, a special appearance with Hecate Enthroned, at The Star and Garter in Manchester. And last but by no mean least, in October we are appearing at Mammothfest supporting the mighty Tsjuder and Rotting Christ.

So this year is shaping up to be the biggest year for us, we are honoured to be performing at all of the dates we have been confirmed for, and we are looking forward to them. I don’t think we will be venturing to South Wales again this year, but you never can tell, see what comes our way.

Azrael: It has shaped up to be quite a good year for us in terms of live dates. Let the chaos come!!

Dagon, Azrael all good things must come to an end. I’m looking forward to hear the full album soon. Do you have any last words of wisdom to your supporters?

Dagon: Thank you for this opportunity Dawid, your questions have been not only in-depth and thought out well but also thought provoking, which can be rare! We have just signed a deal with Eyesore Merch to stock our shirts and other items, not only on line but also out on the road, you will find their stalls at this year’s Bloodstock and many other festivals and events, so check them out!

Support The War Against Christianity

Support the Underground Blackmetal Scene

And Gut The Fucking Church !

Hail Satan !

Links:

Heathen Deity on Facebook
Heathen Deity on YouTube
Eradication Festival
Heathen Deity on Instagram