German melodic black/death metallers Thulcandra have released a brand new album in Ascension Lost, which further chronicles the fall of the archangel. I spoke to Steffen Kummerer (Guitars, Vocals) about their influences, religion and eating full British breakfasts during a tour. He also debunked a famous internet rumor. Read on to find out more…
Ascension Lost marks your third release as a band and it’s definitely in the same vein as Storm Of The Lights Bane and The Somberlain, Dissection’s two most well-known albums. What is it that attracted you so much to that style of heavy metal?
The Scandinavian black and death metal scene as a whole had a deep impact on all of us during the early nineties when records such as Ancient God of Evil, The Somberlain and Dark Endless had been released. We grew up with this kind of music and it is still part of our musical influences, no matter what genre we write songs for. Dissection composed interesting songs with superb twists in the arrangements and great harmony work in terms of black metal. Both records as well as the old demos I would consider as brilliant. The combination of good songwriting, fantastic production and overall detailed work made those records timeless classics.
From a lyrical perspective, Ascension Lost appears to be about the fall and defeat of Satan. Tell us a little more about that. Would you consider the record to be more in the realms of mythology, or is it something that you personally believe in, with Satan being either a real figure or a symbol?
All lyrics where written by Sebastian Ludwig who created a long running concept based on Paradise Lost by John Milton. Each song is based on Milton’s fall and rise of an archangel which wraps the meaning of free will of the individual.
Legend has it that you guys actually wrote a letter to Jon Nodtveidt of Dissection, asking him if it was alright to continue his style of music. If this true, or internet folklore? If so, how did he reply? Do you think he would have appreciated Ascension Lost and the previous two records had he been around to hear them?
I’ve never heard of this story before. We met a couple of times during Dissection’s live shows, but never discussed this topic at all. It seems like an internet story as you claimed. If you listen to Dissection’s latest effort Reinkaos, it seems like Jon wasn’t as much into the style of Black Metal that he played when he was a teenager. I remember him as a friendly person, so who knows?
Another intriguing thing about Jon Nodtveidt was his belief in anti-cosmic Satanism, an idea that is still carried by a few other notable acts. Does your band carry on the same themes, or have you shifted the lyrical direction to something else? The way I’ve heard it, anti-cosmic Satanism is about the literal worship of Satan as a black hole. But it makes perfect sense when you go back and listen to the opening cut “Beyond The Horizon” from the band’s final record, Reinkaos.
When our bodies rot in mud, there is no afterlife, no paradise and no rebirth. You are gone and gone for good. I do not care about religious ideas in any way. If everyone would use their brains, then none of these religions would exist.
Though I have mentioned Dissection quite a bit in this interview, I am almost certain that you gentlemen were influenced by more acts than just those Swedish legends. Other than the aforementioned, who might you say are also influences to your music and what are some of the single most influential discs that you own?
Bands such as Vinterland, Unanimated, Gates of Ishtar, Sacramentum and Eucharist had their share of being an influence to our sound as well. Especially Ancient God of Evil, which is a masterpiece and Mirrorworlds by Eucharist as well, not to forget the earlier Emperor recordings.
When you’re playing brackish metal, what do you guys do as a hobby? What kinds of other mediums do you enjoy? Would you consider yourselves avid readers, gamers, computer nerds, sports fans exc.?
Well, I love AVID ProTools and Steinberg Cubase to work on audio production and get more experienced with different kinds of music. Other than that design and especially video design is what I enjoy these days. On a healthy basis reading and doing sports is also a part of it, but playing computer games to me, is just wasted time.
What are your thoughts on the world today? Though the album is based in Satan, do you feel that religion is a good thing in the world? Should people have the right to believe in things? Or could this very thing be what destroys the planet?
People have the right to believe in whatever they want, if it is a Playgirl, money or Jesus – I don’t care. It gets difficult as soon as someone tries to convince you that their thoughts are the better ones. It is hard to take someone serious who believes in any of the common religions to me. Other than that, I don’t care.
Finally, let’s talk about your experiences on the road. Share some of the greatest of these as well as some of the least memorable. Have you ever had any incidents on the road? Have you ever been shunned from playing a certain venue? What do you guys do on the road to keep yourselves occupied during the long bus rides?
We once did a three week European tour while two weeks had been booked in the UK. We had a competition to see who could go through a full British breakfast every day. I guess we all won, or lost in that case. So far there were no memorable incidents and we didn’t get banned from anywhere. We are German, so not to get bored, we complain a lot. Every day.
Thanks for answering my questions and best of luck to you on the new album. It definitely carries the spirit of the aforementioned and I’m sure that people will enjoy it. (Eric May)
Thank you for the interview and thank you for supporting Thulcandra.