The War Inside My Head: Video Premiere and Interview with Benthik Zone
Well, 2022 just started and it's already packed with interesting releases to be excited about, including the debut from Belarusian project Krvvla, which we covered last week. Which brings us to this current installment of our The War Inside My Head interview series, featuring Portuguese experimental black metal entity Benthik Zone, who will be releasing their new album εἴδωλον later this month via the consistently wonderful Onism Productions.
Bending their unhinged, abstract brand of music into the wild, dark and psychedelic depths, εἴδωλον finds the black metal duo experimenting on the borderlines between bands such as Oranssi Pazuzu, Skaphe, and even Sutekh Hexen to create a truly unique, terrifying style all their own.
It is then our pleasure and honor to not only premiere the visualizer for εἴδωλον's unsettling third track "sonho-a desnuda" but also present a brand new interview with the band, which, like all the other installments of this series, focuses on the musical inspirations that inform their personal taste and sound.
As always, before we get to the main course, this is my chance to encourage you to check out our other interview series (Albums of the Decade, Pillars of the 90s), our kinda-alive podcast (YouTube, Spotify and all that) and/or our latest compilation album MILIM KASHOT VOL. 3, and read our 2021 AOTY list. Also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, Tiktok and support whatever it is that we do on Patreon, if you like what you see here (for whatever reason). Thank you for your time and support. And now to Benthik Zone's music and words:
What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?
F: With my own money, that would be Darkthrone's Blaze in the Northern Sky with Fenriz’s commentary, in Piranha Record Store. This was one of my first contacts with black metal as a kid, and naturally it caught my attention. The rawness of their performance delivered through their way of composing and ritual type aesthetic, lit a fire within me that would not stop growing, as time showed.
A: The first album I bought with my own money was Black Shining Leather by Carpathian Forest in some CD store. It was a great purchase since it led me to explore photography, namely the creation of photograms in my first year of college (2016). The exercise consisted in extracting excerpts/phrases from some song lyrics, with the intention of instilling troubled states of mind to the viewer/reader leading him to a self-reflection regarding the negative drives of his being and to better understand the restlessness of the subject in a dysfunctional society. For that I created my own calligraphy and cut out the letters in stencil format to be later burned through the light of the enlargers on the photo sensitive paper, producing drags and overlaps. "I give you much, but you want more" a phrase that has always stayed in my head from the song "Death Triumphant."
What 2-3 albums did you hear the most growing up?
F: Noregs Vaapen – Taake was the first true contact with black metal I had, and it gave me what death and thrash metal were no longer capable of giving – music that pierced me to the marrow. Even today, this album and his earlier works are an immense influence to my creative process.
Old Mornings Dawn – Summoning showed me that black metal’s foundation was malleable, while being able to maintain its core of primal expression. The whole discography accompanied me through the readings of Tolkien, as it should, and I would whistle its tunes on the street, immersed in the landscapes of Arda and Middle-Earth. The concept of the album gave it immense power when listening, I too learned a lot from that.
A: I used to listen to the album Burning Circles In the Sky by The Myrrors almost everywhere: from the bus trips to the countryside, to school or even when I was socializing with friends, etc. Another album which I clung to as a limpet was “Aria of Vernal Tombs” from the band Obsequiae, so much so that it became my alarm clock sound for an entire year.
What two albums taught you the most about making music (mixing, production, performance)?
F: The Body's I Shall Die Here was a somewhat recent discovery for me, but it showed me what was being done in parallel with the black metal realm. The dynamics of heaviness complemented with grooviness and electronic elements, the hideous unforgettable vocal performance piercing my pain-body and making me feel seen, and the complete release of their selves into their art, made The Body to be my most listened-to project in the past couple of years.
A: The album V: Halmstad by Shining opened my eyes to the possibility of creating a diverse vocal performance, by which I mean the mix between extended raspy vocals, with immense potential in terms of emotional escalation, clean vocals, whispers, to the implementation of less common elements like the sound of coughing for example. On the other hand, threre's Windir's Arntor. The strident and high-pitched vocals, with a fury that penetrates the body, that impels in the listener a mixture of courage and sadness, became a clear possibility of an attitude to adopt in my performance as a singer.
What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?
F: SINNER GET READY – LINGUA IGNOTA. This album showed me the difference between being edgy and really shocking. The first, being more easily attainable doesn’t really resound within you, or with the times, while the latter is able to do so by understanding its circumstance and the rules that frame it, thus, knowingly breaking them. After Mamaleek and The Body, it was only this album that could, for me, encompass the full spectrum of pain in a truly shocking way.
A: The shock with Dance Panique by Turmion Kätilöt was due to the rhythm, speed and vigor in the music, miraculously brought an indelible vitality to my body and mind when I needed it most.
What album relaxes you or centers you the most?
F: Coast / Range / Arc by Loscil is my go-to whenever I’m out of touch with that which is happening around me, and allows me to return, away from inner dialogues and deranged loops. Also, a pretty good choice for dreams soundtrack.
A: If I close my eyes while listening to Fritz Heede's Illuminated Manuscripts my thought rests on the ocean's length and tries to find the harmony on the threshold of presence and absence, the balance of the world. The physical and the material suddenly sit in the lightness of a filoplume, and the immaterial of an airy and expansive nature counteracts the weight of unity. Above all, it allows me to relax and immerse myself in the void with tenuous stability or in the beautiful peaceful, almost psychedelic, so-called land of dreams.
What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?
F: To The Great Monolith II’ by Death. Void. Terror. has an indescribable spatial texture in its production that still leaves me dumbfounded. It’s the tastiest guitar tone I’ve listened to in a while and didn’t leave my expectations stranded on the composition and performance of the album.
Highly Deadly Black Tarantula by Teeth of the Sea is part of a realm of expression that I’ve been particularly fond of in recent times, yet it manages to do so while delivering its own approach to the genre in a way that transpires the special commitment that it takes, in order to fulfill some atypical musical performance solutions.
A: Mystery of the Sphinx’ by Fritz Heede and ‘Pirun nyrkki’ by Turmion Kätilöt.
What album is grossly underrated?
F: Névoa's Towards Belief, which is also the one I recommend from my local scene [see further down, MM]. I am the live act bass player of this band. They have been my greatest source of inspiration in the Portuguese scene, and when they released this latest album, I thought it to be a work of genius which unfortunately, due to very specific circumstances, got lost amid everything else that came with it. My gratitude goes to Nuno Craveiro and João Freire for the lessons I learned while being their bass-player, of song arrangement, dynamics of the album, experimentation with organic instruments, and deliverance of a matured soul expression unlike many of the projects with Portuguese veins and blood.
What album would you recommend from your local scene?
A: Aeons of Magick by Sirius. Because of a destructive spirit that accompanies us, with epic, glorious melodies and beautiful stellar keyboards. Everything is technically well executed and there is also an aura that spreads to the listener, there is life in the music. I consider however that after a while, it can become a bit martyring due to a certain character of a sound architecture, let's say, that it sins in not being more progressive during the length of the album.