On the immense exploration of creation and destruction that constitutes monolithic, mesmeric third full-length ‘The Broken Seal’ – poignantly realised during what feels like a watershed moment in history – enlightened left hand path voyagers Lvcifyre invoke all-consuming darkness and summon the ageless primordial essence predating the birth of man, transcending cultures and aeons, contemptuous of time and space. As a rabble of vacant, spiritless dummies drifts mindlessly towards extinction, T. Kaos contemplates the beginning and end of everything; the fleeting nature of existence; the inevitable collapse of civilisations; channelling abstraction through intuition; the painstaking process of crafting dark piece art; and the vitality of collaborating with like-minded souls.
Somewhere along the path of (recent) history, mankind took a wrong turn. As a species, despite having access to extraordinary technology, we have regressed to the point where humanity teeters precariously on the brink of extinction. Instead of remaining at one with the natural world around us, we have become a sedentary, materialistic, egotistic, entitled, self-destructive rabble, tethered to smart phones, addicted to social media apps and constantly craving validation from strangers. Where did it all go wrong for mankind and is there any hope of salvation?
“NO, no civilisation has ever existed on this Earth that survived their thriving potential for too long. It is a temporary state as is everything else that is subjected to Time itself. Everything becomes Baphomet, each creation meets its end and destruction; progress turns into regress. All that was once born must die – I’m not talking about a cycle of rebirth, but a monumental beginning and the end of all things. We can only climb so high thanks to our genius or the genius of those who see the light before us – they are the ones who drive up higher, but this is utopian progress, as a small percentage of awakened are brought down by a majority of the flock. Seeing all this, I dare question: is there a perfect race that exposes itself in a perfect civilisation? Perhaps it is a matter of nobility within us, a rare occurrence in a world of illusion.”
If our long-departed ancestors could bear witness to this pitiful modern-day race of vacant dummies, bereft of spirit and soul, they would surely shake their heads in disbelief and disapproval. In contrast, we can only marvel at the practices, beliefs, codes, accomplishments and might of long-gone civilisations. The fact that tribes from distant millennia achieved inexplicable architectural, agricultural, mathematical, artistic and astronomical feats is one of life’s great paradoxes … it almost suggests that evolution is working in reverse and that perhaps a vast wealth of precious ancient knowledge and wisdom has been lost forever?
“There are still followers of the old traditions who most likely do not share their teaching with the masses. It could be a simple question of (un)availability of those arcane ways, but the fact is that humanity simply doesn’t care about further development, as consumption clouds their minds – and when I say development, I mean the synchronisation between soul and flesh, the recognition of itself and adjusting towards the unseen forces. The old civilisations have collapsed, clearly current exposure to technology makes it far more accessible to the masses and the implication of illusion is monstrous. I have, however, arrived at the conclusion that all civilisations must fall as all progress eventually reaches its apogeum and from then on it’s simply a downward rollercoaster.
Perhaps we are guilty of looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses, though? Maybe it is the case that great thinkers, innovators and pioneers have always walked amongst us? Tremendous feats and gallant acts from the past stand out but the vast majority of people back then may still have been pretty mediocre and mundane – just like today. Perhaps if ancient civilisations had been granted access to Netflix, Love Island, Facebook and TikTok, they too would have succumbed to the temptation?
“Perhaps the effect would have been even more perverse: think of the lack of education they had back in the day – this privilege was mostly reserved for royals and high-ranking families, as the stereotype of Slaves and Masters seems to never fail. I think the struggle of life was enormous compared to today’s comforts, but bright minds are still notoriously born. They are a small percentage compared to the rest, of course, yet their existence is undeniable. They always find a way to expose the gnosis that they are tuned into regardless of the times they are born into – it’s also a matter of the tools available, of course, but great minds always remain great and genius should overcome temptation.”
Lvcifyre’s music has always been rich in historical and mythology references. Is there a blurred line where history and mythology meet or co-exist? I often feel like the more I try to learn, the less I know. It’s difficult to know where to glean accurate information from these days and what is fact or fiction. What constitutes science and what is pseudoscience? Who can we trust to impart truth? In a way, the arguments, debates and possible subterfuge add to the mystique, but it can also be frustrating…
“First of all, the subjects that we’re dealing with are rather abstract, therefore we have to use abstract forms to at least try to express their (anti)nature or existence. Death or Black Metal were always very creative platforms to me and with such powerful magnetism you could really build the sonic body of the monstrous titan. As you point out, answers lead to more questions, there is no end to it; only Dr Faustus reaches the end of the road – fictionally. Speaking from experience I can trust my intuition – this psychosensual wave of thoughts – which works for me. It establishes connections between things and ideas, it makes me aware of where several systems are connected or perhaps throw me into the divine error, but are we not redefining the truth when met with lack of proof?”
Is there an over-arching concept behind ‘The Broken Seal’? The recording reeks of darkness, decadence and death. Listening to the music, looking at the cover and pondering the song titles, it feels like some ancient evil has been unleashed. Are you at liberty to disclose any details on the general thematic constitution of the album or would you prefer listeners to dive in and arrive at their own interpretations?
“I would always suggest following your own interpretation. Give your creativity a chance to unveil your own vision, find your own path to the pit of blackness that lies beneath us. There is no ultimate scheme for liberation, we all have to paint our own horizons while barbaric names awaken certain images and emotions within our minds. The subjects we’re dealing with are easily perceived as Left Hand Path. Lvcifyre exists because of the Left Emanation to begin with; I find no purpose in getting involved with creating without the essence of Darkness.”
Who were the Tribes of Khem, alluded to in the second track, and what became of them? Were they close descendants of the Atlanteans, who were amongst the first to colonise greater Egypt?
“Khem is an ancient name for Egypt and it could be translated as ‘Black’ or ‘Blackness’. Some sources point out that it is related with the black, murky sands of the Nile. This is where ancient Draconian Mysteries took place, upon which the cult of Sheitan-Set was ultimately based. This cult was symbolised by the blackening or reddening power of the sun in the South. Others say that it was one of the great civilisations on Earth, alongside Mu, Atlan, Sumer and Babel – the twin kingdom of Khem – that civilised the entire world, until war destroyed Babel and Nephren-Ka became the ruler of Khem, bringing forth the great abomination while he opened the gates of Atem–Sothoth.”
The seventh invocation on ‘The Broken Seal’ is called ‘The First Archon’. In Gnosticism, the seven Archons – each of which is associated with a specific planet – are malevolent entities credited with fashioning the material universe. Is the first Archon Yaldabaoth or Samael, the creator of man?
“This text was inspired by a manuscript translated from Enochian by Solon of Alexandria, which also includes the ritual based on this gnostic text. According to this particular manuscript, Samael is Yaldabaoth, also called Atlabaoth, and He is the first Archon – the creator of Man. It should be noted that Gnosticism is a fairly young movement which deals with archaic powers, therefore it is proof of how little we do know.”
One trait that humankind shares with our ancestors is the desire and ability to create wonderful art, be it visual or sonic. To this end, ‘The Broken Seal’ is a complex and ambitious work that has been intricately crafted – both musically and lyrically – with the keenest attention to detail evident throughout the album. Everything sits naturally in its rightful place and the album flows organically. How lengthy and painstaking a process was it to put this record together? You described it as the most challenging mountain you’ve scaled during your musical career to date, so I take it this was an at-times torturous and troubling process?
“By all accounts, yes – it was a struggle, but such is the nature of progress. Only by pushing ourselves to the limit are we honoured to take another step, and this record surely pushed me there. On many occasions – for weeks, perhaps even months – I was stuck and could see no way out. But as life teaches us, often we merely lack the right focus. I suppose we need to grow mentally to certain powers to understand or overcome them and that is the case here: I spent seven years writing this opus. I appreciate the fact that you recognise the effort put into this album as it was truly enormous. The band’s evolution is clearly visible on this record – from performing on the instruments, the focus of compositions and finally the sound and production itself.”
Lvcifyre’s lyrics are anything but an afterthought. Nor are they derivative kill-the-priest or horns-up-for-the-devil drivel. Though decidedly dark in the best tradition of authentic Black / Death Metal, there is a mystical, spiritual and enlightening element to them. Would it be fair to say that you place as much emphasis on the lyrics – and presentation / delivery of them – as the actual music itself? That the two must complement one another perfectly?
“We have obviously outgrown the idea of goat fuck dead christ lyrics quite a while ago; I could slide on those primitive litanies only to a certain extent. I know some bands willingly choose this to be the primitive force that drives them, which is fine as long as it still makes an honest impact. I like to think of myself as a Left Hand Path spiritual phenomena researcher, obviously it is strongly connected with Lvcifyre and every other musical project I’m involved in as I can find no reason to create something without the satanic or spiritual impulse. I therefore recognise that lyrics are equally as important as the music itself, and I believe that every band should treat those subjects seriously.”
Speaking of vocal delivery, as guest / backing vocalist you have again enlisted the services of your faithful accomplice Mark of the Devil, one of the most gifted, instantly-recognisable and effective voices in the history of extreme music. As is to be expected, his animated, flesh-crawling contributions to ‘The Broken Seal’ are utterly magnificent and majestic, dovetailing wonderfully with your own demonic discharges and helping bring the songs to life even more so than would otherwise have been possible. How vital is his input and how much freedom do you allow him in composing and arranging his parts?
“As much freedom as he needs; however, I have on occasion been told I am a control freak. When we are in the studio, I try to convey the idea(s) I have for his vocals, but that never works of course. Mark, like myself, needs space and freedom to perform at his best and his natural timing is simply unparalleled. His voice holds very rare qualities, something of a sleepless malice, and I could easily set him next to Arioch or Attila. I’ve always felt that his screams reach beyond the sphere of the living. Then, once we became friends, I was able to easily understand that, while acknowledging his necro fascination. I think there is a solid coherence between both of our (very different) voices, and the contrast creates something otherworldly for me.”
It was essentially the full Death Like Mass line-up that recorded the album. As unholy trinities go, it would be a struggle to find a stronger one! You must be delighted with the calibre of acolytes you have around you in Lvcifyre now? How much of an honour (and endorsement of your own vision) is it to work alongside a drumming icon of the status of Menthor and why did you opt to take on bass duties yourself this time as well as guitars and vocals?
“I have always recorded all the strings, primarily to keep the same dynamics on all instruments, as it sounds more coherent. As for the line-up, I don’t think this is a matter of luck or coincidence. I have known Menthor for over ten years and we are good friends, sharing common interests beyond music, same with Mark of the Devil. I had many people joining and leaving Lvcifyre, naturally it is a game of selection. When it comes to full membership, I had to make sure that our vision reached beyond music. So far everyone else was a live musician with the exception of Cultus, who was one of us for many years, but has now chosen to step down. Finding the members with the right mind set is not an easy task. Apart from their instrumental skills they must share an interest in things that manifest within the Lvcifyre sphere.”
The late, great Timo Ketola was also an honorary member of the Lvcifyre cult (and, indeed, of many others). Timo created the spectacular cover artwork for both ‘Svn Eater’ and the ‘Sacrament’ MLP and I’m assuming he was also lined to work on ‘The Broken Seal’? Given that he sadly passed away in 2020, after the album was completed, had you already negotiated this with him? You brought in Italian artist Daniele Valeriani for the thankless task of trying to fill Timo’s boots and I think it’s fair to say he came up with a suitably chilling depiction?
“Naturally he was the exclusive Lvcifyre illustrator and, as you point out, an unofficial member of the band, from cover artwork, to merch and flyers – it was all his evil doing and he was the absolute Master of obscurity and – more importantly – a friend. We already had a full sketch of the artwork prepared, we were just waiting for him to complete two other album covers when his illness struck, then Death chose to take him away. We were trying to carry on and have other artists complete his design, but not long after realised that it was pointless, as no one could fit this position. Naturally I had to shake this off and find someone with a fresh perspective. I have always appreciated Daniele Valeriani’s art. Fantastic artist following the ways of the Old Dutch Masters. When I got in touch with him it was almost impossible to fit us into his busy schedule and everything was already heavily delayed, but after he gave ‘The Broken Seal’ a spin, he changed his mind and made us a priority, which helped deal with all the stress of an already delayed release. He did a phenomenal job, exactly as expected, and we remain in touch exchanging many ideas outside the band.”
Your ties with Timo run much, much deeper than him happening to be the artist who crafted a couple of Lvcifyre cover pieces. Seems you also had a powerful personal connection. The superb debut full-length of Sodality – another somewhat-under-the-radar band featuring yourself and Mark of the Devil – was destined to be the first album released on his label, Dauthus 1899. In the end, NoEvDia stepped into the breach with a touch of class and made sure the record got to see the light of day. A nice short story written by Timo was included with the LP. It was a poignant tribute and a powerful affirmation of the high esteem in which you held this great man, whose genre-defining work will live on forever…
“I found Timo to be a Man of unusual honesty, never bending to anything but the truth. That is an extremely noble quality that only very few possess. We were in constant touch, talking about many subjects related with art, music and history. He was a true maniac of the Metal underground with quite an obscure taste in music. When we finished mixing Sodality, he was one of the very first people to listen to the album – he’s always had priority when it came to hearing all new music written by us. His reaction was immediate, he passed that to NoEvDia and together they released this album. Unfortunately he did not live long enough to see the premiere. Also his short story added to the release was a pleasant surprise and I only found out about it after his death. It was his idea to keep it a secret until the record was in our hands, and to be the last Davthvs release was naturally a true honour to us.”
‘The Broken Seal’ was recorded in Milan in early 2020. Thus, in a way it stands as a last monolith to a world which has been replaced by a surreal dystopian nightmare. It’s unbelievable how much all of our lives have descended into the realm of science fiction over the past 22 months, with no real end in sight. Has all this hysteria taken much of a toll on you personally and / or as an artist? Are you longing to get back onstage someday soon? Did you avail of the increased downtime to work on any new music?
“When Panic hit the streets of Milano during our recording session, I felt like it was a sign from the Beyond itself acknowledging our creation, as all of it is only inspired by the great powers beyond human comprehension: Death itself. Soon after The New (World) Order served us a plague to imprison us in our comforts; it did affect us by limiting our travels, and all the rest that needs no introduction, but I don’t believe that it’s stopping anyone from creating. Quite to the contrary, we have managed to be productive in all of our bands and are preparing new albums to come. But let’s not think for a second that caging is good to anyone, we’re still raring to return to full activity and unleash the Inferno of ‘The Broken Seal’ live.”