Flying contemptuously beneath the whoring, self-gratifying radar and wilfully shunning attention hasn’t prevented Drastus from producing some of the most compelling Black Metal of this cursed millennium – last year’s stunning retrospective collection ‘Venoms’ being a timely case in point. With the trumpets of war sounding and the pungent smell of sulphur hanging in the stale air, the anonymous entity behind this wonderfully-obscure and wholly-essential force emerges from the shadows and breaks his hermetic silence to discuss dwelling in isolation, homogenisation of the masses, the large-scale restructuring of society, castrating morality and drawing inspiration from the ensuing mess.
Shrouded in complete anonymity, with no promotion whatsoever, no social media presence and only a handful of interviews conducted to date, Drastus seems determined to keep as low a profile as possible. While others shamelessly prostitute themselves in the pursuit of attention and shove mediocre (at best) releases down the throats of those gullible enough to be convinced by a scheming sigil, cynical publicity shot or pseudo occultism, Drastus has steadfastly refused to jostle for public approval or increased record sales. Instead, you let the music do the talking. Ultimately, is it all about following your own path, conjuring and channelling infernal dark art that meets with your own personal approval, with no commercial considerations or ulterior motives?
“Yes, it is. But if I didn’t want my music to be sold I would not press it onto CDs. It seems that these days many just try too hard to sell their shit, and that’s because they don’t want to sell anything but themselves and crave being under the spotlights. Like you said, let the music do the talking. In a musical scene it seems important… Who should care about your ‘magickal’ skills / knowledge if you can’t even convey a single emotion in your music? I clearly don’t see the social medias – where an hour is a week; where ‘cats’ and ‘beer at a bar’ are totems of an obvious uniformisation of thought – so well. Keep on watching your screens while the world around you is moving. You’ll be safe in that new dimension that erases the others, where 50kg guys threaten to clean the world from 100kg guys etc… pure magic. Anyway, a tool is a tool, with a screwdriver you can kill or build furniture. I guess it’s the same for social media, it has to be used the proper way. And I’m sure I lose out on having little contact with my peers or the scene, just as a musician, for example, but that’s MY way. For the prostitute parasites in that scene, don’t worry, you can paint your own shit in gold and draw a thousand sigils on it … in the end it’ll still smell shit. It suffices for Black Metal to reignite its outlaw nature and be dangerous again for those shitheads, slim fits, shoegazers to run away. Because that is THEIR way. Listen to the music and be your own judge; if you feel that there was no blood spilled it’s because there was no sacrifice, i.e. no art. Black Metal has great artistic potential to work on these days – don’t you smell the sulphur in the air? I’ll keep on my path.”
Your music is a deeply personal expression, with a genuine spirit of individualism coursing through each Drastus release. I would assume that when you are composing and recording, you give little or no consideration to what others might think or expect, as the art must be pure and true. But what about afterwards … do you look at or read reviews or care what the critical reaction or response is? Surely it is reassuring to learn that a Drastus record has made a big impression? By the same token, it might be disheartening to chance upon a disparaging comment (although I have not seen one negative Drastus review…). Are you bothered at all by such trivialities or does it go back to the fact that the only person you need to please is yourself and thus you will generally make sure you are 100% happy with everything before signing off on a release?
“I do look at comments on my work, that’s natural. I may think that I compose free from exterior influences such as an audience but I guess it’s partially utopic, whether it be consciously or not. Only a handful of people listen to my work during the process, so I do not drown under comments or points of view. After that, as you say, there have not been many negative reviews as far as I know so – I will tell you how it feels the day it happens.”
Outside of music, an attitude of indifference – or even contempt – towards the opinions of others can prove a powerful tool in everyday life. It can be difficult not to take the bait if somebody offends or enrages you with their ignorance, toxic poison or judgemental condensation but really we shouldn’t let the views of others impact upon us (easier said than done…). Each person should be comfortable within their own skin, like an animal, untouched by counterproductive thoughts, shielded from harmful human venom. Are you at a point in your life where you can easily shrug off the frankly invalid and irrelevant views of others?
“I do not feel so much those kinds of pressure. If you live a bit more isolated and less connected, these considerations disappear or even do not exist. Who would like to live with a thousand eyes on his back? If you think it cannot affect you or influence you in many ways, you’re a fool; that’s how uniformisation is at work, actually. Anyway, there is no perfect state of being to reach: life is strife and art is born from that strife. If you scream ‘Satan’ all day and you fall into total depression after a single bad comment, what does that say about you?”
How depressed or angered are you by the pathetic, needy behaviour of the human race? Believing in god out of self-entitlement to an afterlife, seeking validation or approval through Facebook likes and accepted friend requests, virtue signalling and – worst of all – suppressing the most primal animal instincts due to the dictats and decrees of social norms, unproven religions and civil laws that are neither ethical nor just?
“I don’t think that you should let your animal instincts basically control you. At least if you expect to be more than just a fucking dog. Instinct or intuition have more noble perspectives, especially for an artist. By just following your basic animal compulsions, you’ll soon spend your days smoking crack and eating candies. I’m not depressed at all by humanity. I do not fight for it anyway. Its ridicule is just more obvious with the magnifying glass of the social medias, that’s all. Are you interesting every hour of your life? I’m not. So, if you’re prompted by algorithms to give your opinion every minute, how interesting do you think you’ll be? Diluted in an illusion, nothing more. I have no problem with mankind but more with the modern man. And when I read in one of your previous interviews a 50-year-old guy saying that “populations around the world have been conditioned to think that their patch of land is their patch of land” I don’t have so much compassion for mankind. Only bankers think that way, in a world where everything can be bought, but Mr Greenway doesn’t see it. For the man who earns very little, and has no prospect of social development, evolution, the only thing that remains for him is his land, and nowadays even this simple freedom can be taken away. But I can imagine a dialog between B. Greenway and an Egyptian in Cairo: ‘that fucking pile of pebbles of yours that you call a pyramid doesn’t mean that it’s your land!’ … pathetic and disrespectful, isn’t it? But I guess you need to think that when you come from Birmingham…”
It seems astonishing to me that manmade laws can be enforced on society in an effort to inform, guide or indoctrinate the population at large as to what is right or wrong. It’s okay for banks to add thousands of euro extra onto a mortgage by increasing interest rates or for governments to shut down society and decree that people should be fined for nor wearing a face covering, yet it’s illegal in many countries to say certain things or engage in harshly-outlawed activities that don’t affect anybody other than the participant(s). Personally, I think the Great Beast wasn’t too far off the mark when he said ‘do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.’. Surely individuals should have the strength of will to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh and act on their animal instincts regardless of secular or sectarian rules?
“Anyone who has ever faced a judge knows that so-called secular laws are of the same fallacious nature as Nazarene ones, they carry the same kind of castrating morality. There is a theological foundation / basis to the laws, a ceiling against which any attempt at sovereignty in a strong being must be crushed. The truly strong are therefore dead or in jail. Judges are just the prelates of that system of value. You said it yourself, the laws are better for the banks than for the people, serving the usurer more than the worker, it just means that you are no longer the owner of your country and your freedom. You better steal millions of euro rather than steal three apples. About Crowley, ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’ is often mistaken for ‘Do what you want…’, in my opinion. When you read a novel by Crowley like Diary of a Drug Fiend, for example, it’s clear that, to find your ‘true will’ is the first and most important thing here. Only then you have to live to accomplish that true will, and be inflamed by it. But if the only resonance of ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’ these days is ‘don’t wear masks’, then I think we shall sew our mouths directly.”
In true Drastus fashion, the magnificent ‘Venoms’ double LP – collating older material from your 2006 EP, ‘Taphos’, the 2005 split ‘From The Womb Of Ferocious’ and the debut album of the same year, ‘Roars From The Old Serpent’s Paradise’ – arrived without forewarning like a bolt from the blue, giving Black Metal fans an opportunity to acquire all this material in one fell swoop. Although the content is 14-15 years old, it still sounds essential and represents a stunning release. Still, I was (pleasantly) surprised to see it. Why did you decide the time was right to excavate these recordings from the archive?
“The motivation was simple: to make all my previous work available in an honest and accessible format to anyone who cares. When you listen to that material it’s difficult to imagine it being released in a deluxe ivory sculpted box. That wouldn’t have made sense, and I don’t wear mascara nor high heels…”
The material stands the test of time, for me, and demonstrates the timelessness of genuine, original Black Metal that comes from the soul. As a whole, I think ‘Venoms’ is nigh on perfect – a wonderful blend of abrasive Black Metal with unnerving ambient passages. With the benefit of hindsight, how pleased are you with these recordings. Is there anything at all that you would change about them or do you feel that they capture and represent the mood of a certain time and place?
“I always had a problem with ‘Roars…’, actually. Like a taste of unfinished business. It was my first release and I was inexperienced, so there are things that I’m not satisfied with. I never have too much time for the studio sessions, so the errors appear to me a posteriori in general. Anyway, I guess that someone who discovered and enjoyed it back then does like it the way it is. I re-listened to ‘Roars…’ for the release of ‘Venoms’ and it’s still fucking dark and stifling. On the other hand, I never had any problems with ‘Taphos’, I always liked it the way it is. And like you said, it captured a certain mood of a certain time.”
While ‘La Croix De Sang’ is characterised by some very sophisticated and prominent human drumming, you used a pulsing drum machine on the earlier material. Is the chosen style of drumming based on how it will fit the material or the means at your disposal (financial or otherwise) or a bit of both? It’s interesting to me as both styles seem to match the respective recordings perfectly…
“If I could have had a drummer on the earlier releases I would have, and maybe that hermetic, stifling aspect I was referring to above would not have been this efficient, who knows? It happens the way it happens, no big thinking or theorisation upstream about how or what.”
What do you make of all the madness sweeping the planet right now? The pandemic and the restrictions, the endless impositions on human liberties, the fear and paranoia, the conspiracy theories and the seemingly complete breakdown of society? Feels sometimes like we are simultaneously moving towards opposite ends of the spectrum – the loss of all our freedoms and privacy and also complete anarchy. Should we laugh or cry at this mess?
“I laugh more than I cry in general. But I agree, it’s as if the world of tomorrow will be made of highly connected people in the cities and on the other hand people who’ll choose to live like during the 19th century in the country, vomiting the modern world. Materialism against naturalism. It’s interesting. We’re forced into a uniformisation of the world and the only way it can happen is by turning people into blind consumers, with no roots, lost in the reflection of their smartphones, gateway to their fullness or emptiness – I buy so I am, I comment so I am, etc. And if you break any revolutionary impulse upstream by maintaining people in ignorance far from their history or any real culture, avoiding any unification of angers by dividing people into sub-categories, as it is done nowadays, by claiming that blacks have black problems, homosexuals have homosexual problems, women etc., you prevent them from just realising the real topics on which they should build their fights. Divide for better reign, that’s what it is all about. And if people have no god anymore, they’re easier targets, no bigger picture or ideal, to sacrifice for. That’s why you shall not live that divine throne empty, by the way. It’s easy to not believe in anything when it’s sunny outside, and you have food and a warm home, but when night comes and the trumpets of war are calling, that’s another story. Even the old Christ seems to have to be resurrected. Everything that happens in the world these days seems to me like a worldwide ritual for a bloody era to come, otherwise it will be eternal sleep for the West. If you want powerful revenge on someone, do not act immediately, let your anger grow, cultivate that demon and when you’ll unleash it, it will be tenfold. If you lock down the whole world, what do you think will happen? Especially to occidentals who have more to lose than others due partly to an excessive materialistic and technological dependency? The Anglo-American empire, grandchild of past Europeans empires, arrives to the end of its dominion, and I would even say nations in general in a world where private companies are becoming overpowered. Now that the black must be changed to green, the oil changed to pseudo-ecological energy – same beneficiaries, different (package) colour- we saw a 15-year-old mongoloid bitch commanding to nuclear-powered elected people the way they shall act. And everybody sees that as ‘the voice of the people’, what a joke. The Covid 19 is just another agent of that transfer of power. And its secret mantra is ‘everything has to change so that nothing changes’.”
‘Venoms’ has reignited my interest in Drastus and I’ve been listening back over ‘La Croix De Sang’ quite a bit as well, all of which has whetted my appetite for some new material. I appreciate that you are not one to force things just for the sake of it and understand you prefer to wait for the inspiration to wash over you, then move at your own pace. With so much negative energy surging across the globe, has any materia prima presented itself to you in the past year or so? As there was a 14-year gap between the first two full-lengths, perhaps I’m being unreasonably optimistic?
“The energies all over the world are definitely inspiring. Blood will feed the soil. I already have some material but it doesn’t mean you’ll have your hands on it soon. Anyway, I always compose music and you won’t have to wait ten years for a new Drastus release.”