The War Inside My Head: An Interview with Dark 80s Black Metal Project Choshech
Hailz to all. Here we are, back with another exciting installment of our The War Inside My Head series of interviews, where we prod some of the most fascinating and exciting voices in the underground about their favorite and most inspiriting musical obsessions. And this time we're joined with the fantastic Tel Aviv-based dark/black metal project Choshech ("Darkness"), who just today released their mesmerizing and beautiful new album, Degel Shakhor ("Black Flag"). Combining equal parts dark 80s, folk, post-punk and black metal we were enthralled by this fantastic project already with their first release, which we were proud to premiere here in 2019.
Since then Choshech and its musical mastermind Shay Mizrahi have developed their unique sound even more, presenting Degel Shakhur – an even darker, and in many ways heavier beast than its predecessor (an advance track off of it was included in our recent MILIM KASHOT VOL. 3 compilation). Featuring guests such as Tamar Singer (Cruel Wonders, Zeresh), Dorin Hajon (ZAD, Srefa), and Niv Ferum (Dim Aura), the album welds post-punk atmospheres, black metal grandiosity, and the personal purview of folk to create a shimmering seascape of melancholy and grief. Easily one of the most unique pieces in quite some time.
So enjoy the bellow interview with Shay, enjoy the new album, and I'll do my best to expel COVID-19 from my damn body. Keep safe out there.
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 Choshech.
What was the first album you bought with your own money, and where did you buy it?
First time I went to a record shop, chose and bought something, was around age 12-13. It wasn’t actually my earned money, but I never bought music on my own before. There was a big record store not far from my house in center of Holon where I grew up. The name was "33&1/3" or some similar play on words. It's funny to think about how large that music store was, located right in the center on the main street. I bought a tape cassette of Guns n’ Roses’ Use your Illusion I. I really liked slash at that time!
What 2-3 albums did you hear the most growing up?
Well, Guns n’ Roses were a big deal for me when growing up. After that in high-school, mainly grunge, the self-titled Alice in Chains and Nirvana’s Bleach were my favorites.
And then I discovered Megadeth. It took quite a while to digest Peace Sells, but once it grew on me, I discovered the other albums on the discography (Rust & Countdown), and those were the albums that I heard the most for a long, long period in my youth before moving on mainly to black metal [[see our interview with Chris Poland about Peace Sells here, MM]]
What two albums taught you the most about making music (mixing, production, performance)?
I have no real knowledge about production, so I can't say much about that. I can mention two albums that opened my mind about how to write and play music.
The first is Emperor's Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk. It was the second or third black metal album I ever owned and actually heard. Frankly, I was scared shitless when I bought it. I had no idea what to expect. I just knew it was black metal. Eventually, I got to sit with this album, and play my guitar along with the songs for hours. The main lesson for me here was to throw away any standard structure of songs, and just let the riffs flow. Also, I really loved the mix, the lyrics and all the drama of it. To this day one of my favorites.
The second album that comes to mind is Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures. I was aware of the dark 80's and bit of post-punk styles in my teens, but I never gave any of it a serious listen before this album. I was working in a record store after I completed my army service, and got to hear much music there, that I would not have listened to by myself, being deep into black and death metal by then. So, one day, this older guy working there played one song for me, and I got myself a copy. Obviously, I fell in love with it. What I learned here are lessons in simplicity and depression, relaxing things, and in general – giving sounds more space, those weird guitar-sound parts, and the personal/inward lyrical and vocal style influenced me deeply as well.
What is the last album that absolutely shocked you?
Me and my partner in Choshech, Stephan, are really deep into Polish black metal these days (credit to Machine Music as well, of course). Bands like KŁY, Wędrowcy~Tułacze~Zbiegi, Odraza, Biesy, Gruzja, and others are all doing shocking things with the black metal sound in my opinion. And If I have to mention one album that was "shockingly good", I'll choose: Furia – Guido. I heard it just recently. The three live tracks ending the album, are just brilliant.
If we are talking about music that literally shocked me, then that’s easy: LINGUA IGNOTA. Every album. That project always fucks me up.
What album relaxes you or centers you the most?
Can't really choose an album. Dealing with music as a process, does that to me. Creating, rehearsing & refining, It's quite therapeutic for me. Also, releasing these very personal texts in Choshech, became a way for me to clear things from my chest.
What are the 2-3 albums you’ve listened to the most recently?
ÖSTRA TORN – Providence. Local band, a short and vicious release, excellent riffs and sound.
SHESH SHESH SHESH – HELA. New release, also local. Violent punk, with very cool riffs, and insane vocals, gotta love it.
KŁY – Wyrzyny. This band is so amazing, every album is a masterpiece. The new wave of Polish black metal /post-punk black whatever at its best.
What album is grossly underrated?
I think that Dodheimsgard's album from 2015 – A Umbra Omega, was monumental and deserves every praise. Didn’t hear too much noise about that one, but I can’t say I really follow the press [[see our interview with Vicotnik here, MM]]
What album would you recommend from your local scene?
Go give a listen to Cruel Wonders' latest release Clay Vessels, this is just so beautiful and depressive. Superb guitar parts with mesmerizing female vocals by the one and only Tamar Singer.
If you're bit into electronics, on the industrial/ambient side of things, check out Silence and Strength's album – Saturn Return. Truly, a journey of an album.