Welcome and my congratulations for this great piece of black art, which is “From The Devil's Tomb”. How are you feeling with the release and response on this second album of Weapon?
Overall we are very satisfied with ‘From The Devil’s Tomb’. The album is widely available, the media response have been overwhelmingly positive and our fans can’t seem to get enough of it. Of course, none of these factors are motivating elements for the inner workings of band, but they certainly encourage us to work that much harder and stay on our chosen path.
If you don’t mind, before speaking about Weapon’s new album, I’d like to dig a bit into your previous LP, “Drakonian Paradigm”, which totally blew me away with its magical necro aura, and which received a huge acclaim. How do you see it nowadays, comparing it to the new one, and why do you think it gained such a response from the underground metalheads?
I am very proud of that album, as I am of every Weapon release, but there are several things about it that bug me (mostly to do with the production). To be perfectly honest I think ‘F.T.D.T.’ blows ‘Drakonian Paradigm’ straight out of the water.
I think our debut was so critically acclaimed primarily due to the fact that it was the only album of its kind at the time, and still is to this day. Most of bands who released albums around that time were either too busy ripping off other bands and delivering 3rd rate warfago shit. People noticed that Weapon was doing something different and genuinely powerful.
The progression between both albums is quite obvious. Where “Drakonian Paradigm” showed a bigger focus on old-school Black/Death/Thrash Metal, especially from Greece (Varathron, Zemial, Rotting Christ...) as well as other classical ones like Slayer or Dissection, this new recording absorbed more Death Metal influences and mixed them in a unique and more personal sound, with a bigger focus on technique and brutality, even if still very ritualistic. Was this something you already wanted in the past but couldn't achieve because of not having permanent members for the band? Or is it simply the natural progression of Weapon's sound according to your influences and mood in every moment of its existence?
These are natural and seamless developments. Every release is a timestamp of how we were as people at that time, where our minds were and what inspired us on a day-to-day basis. When we recorded the debut album, The Disciple had only been in the band for 6 or 7 months, whereas now he has been part of the chakra for over 3 years; we built on that foundation and delivered the second album. Also, the previous bass player had a hard enough time playing the songs on our debut; it would have been impossible for him to play the new songs which are much more complex. Our new bassist Kha Tumos is a monster on the bass and Apostle VIII is a total lead shredder, and they were both part of the band for a full year before we recorded ‘From The Devil’s Tomb’. So really, all these factors made this album that much more focused and powerful.
How much did that album represent your change of living place and the changes of culture, society, weather, atmosphere or surrounding affect that first recording? Was it in a good or in a bad way in that moment?
I wrote the majority of ‘Drakonian Paradigm’ completely wired on heroin, cocaine and an assortment of other chemical drugs; I was chronically depressed, so I was self-medicating. I won’t go into the details but there were a lot of things going wrong in my personal life, so I dealt with those problems the only way I knew how.
Looking back, both good and bad came out of those experiences. I learned a lot about myself in those trying times, and the surroundings made ‘Drakonian Paradigm’ the album that it is. But I was limiting myself creatively and being my own, biggest obstacle from playing in a professional band. You can’t have it all.
Well, focusing on your second album now, I guess you’ve got to be quite satisfied with it, as I haven’t seen one review that doesn’t use extremely good words to describe it. Which are the major achievements with this second album and how far is Weapon's music represented as far as you had in your mind since you created the band?
As I mentioned before, every Weapon release fills me with pride, but ‘From The Devil’s Tomb’ is the first release with which I am thoroughly satisfied. The biggest achievement in my opinion is the clarity, power and punch. You can hear / feel the ferocity and menace of the songs to the fullest, which was lacking on our previous releases in terms of production.
Obviously the band has evolved quite a bit since the 2004 demo. My goal was always to take things further without losing that satanic essence that is key for black / death metal. The combination of sound and ideology that we have now is a perfect.
For this recording you started working with Agonia Records, a well-known Polish label, especially when it comes to Black Metal, and with a great roster in their ranks. Why did you split the distribution of your album between two labels this time, Agonia for Europe and Ajna Offensive for America, and how have the results been until now? Will this help in some way to bring Weapon to European stages in a future tour maybe?
That decision was a direct result of the poor distribution of ‘Drakonian Paradigm’ in Europe. Although Norma Evangelium Diaboli did help Ajna with the distribution of our debut, we wanted our new work to have an official release in all of Europe. Ajna and Agonia split all the costs for the new album and promoted it individually / separately for North America and Europe, which worked tenfold in our favor. The results have been impressive to say the least; we have received exposure in almost every metal-related media outlet with rave reviews and acclaim.
As far as a European tour / gigs are concerned, we get festival offers every now and then but as soon as promoters hear the cost of 4 plane tickets of Canada to wherever in Europe, they tend to back out… It’s just a matter of time until we get there.
Without any doubt, the production of the album has something to do in that change, as where your first album had a rawer and more obscure sound, “From The Devil's Tomb” is simply majestic and overbearing. This time not only you used Sound Extractor Studios in Edmonton to mix and master the album, but directly recorded it there. Did you choose it because of that previous experience? What was the main difference with the Deathcult Studio you used for the first one?
Where do I even begin with the differences? Deathcult “studio” is a home-based operation run by a talent-less megalomaniac. Sound Extractor is a state-of-the-art, professional studio run by specialized sound engineers. Comparing the two is like comparing a greasy, McDonalds burger to a gourmet, 5-star steak.
The Disciple and I became good friends with the Sound Extractor personnel during the mixing / mastering process of ‘Drakonian Paradigm’, so there was no doubt in our minds that that’s where we were headed for our next album.
Obviously, by the use of eastern kind of melodies in your music you've been compared to other bands which have brought this kind of sounds in the last years to Metal music, even though others like Rainbow or Therion already did it in the past. What always surprised me is how well this kind of melodies work on a Metal base, even if close-minded metalheads can sometimes criticize them. Why do you think that kind of melodies are so connected to Metal music and how do they contribute to give a magical or exotic touch to Death or Black Metal?
You basically answered your own question there, in that a genius band like Rainbow more-or-less showed other bands how to incorporate Eastern melodies into the foundation of metal. That being said, Weapon doesn’t consciously write songs with such things in mind.
Death / Black Metal is music of a sinister disposition, rabid fanaticism, ill will and conquering the unknown. It’s not music for ‘nice people’. So whenever you come across a valid form of music that emanates the aura of darkness, I can guarantee that at some level that essence can be incorporated into Death / Black Metal. The music we play is the ultimate conduit of mysticism and magick.
How close do you see Weapon to other eastern influenced bands like Melechesh, Rudra or even Impiety? Is there some kind of connection or support between the different bands coming from the east and with an eastern cultural background?
I don’t think we sound similar to any of those bands, but it’s definitely a compliment to be compared to them. They are great at what they do. People tend to categorize bands from a certain area, it’s unavoidable; even though Weapon was started in Canada, and is for all intents and purposes, a Canadian band, my Bengali heritage will always drive a faction of the fan-base into categorizing us with the ‘exotic sect’ of metal, so to speak. Melechesh I have had no direct contact with, but I am in touch with Shyaithan from Impiety and all the guys from Rudra.
The cover of “From The Devil's Tomb”, again done by Benjamin A. Vierling, makes me think of an hybrid between medieval religious European paintings and representations of Indian deities like the figure in the upper part of the picture, which is a mix of Satan and Kali. I imagine I'm not discovering anything new and this was the goal with your cover, but could you introduce us a bit more into it's symbols, meanings and goals please?
‘From The Devil’s Tomb’ image actually incorporates several iconic motifs from the major arcana of the Tarot, including: The Devil, The Tower, The Last Judgment, The Hanged Man, and to a lesser degree, Death, and The World.
Benjamin decided to elaborate on the ‘as above so below’ maxim to greater effect, incorporating archaic icons for the ascent and the descent into one image – which to my knowledge has never been done effectively. We don’t wish to over-explain the particulars, because the composition should really speak for itself, but the inverted figure of the hanged man with eviscerated bowels obviously mirrors traditional crucifixion motifs. He also forms the inverted Algiz rune; like Odin, the self-sacrifice that he offers is not for mankind, but for his own gnosis. Weapon doesn’t directly reference the Norse mythos, but Mr. Vierling has woven several traditions into this image.
Furthermore, an inverted crucifixion is always suitable iconography for spiritual self-immolation!
The ascending, multi-limbed, wrathful-deity figure evokes Shiva the Destroyer, and well as Goddess of Death Kali, and even Baphomet; an eclectic synthesis here! To the left the sky is raining blood, to the right, a storm of lightning. The heraldic angels have black wings and empty eyes. Both the ascending Daemon, and the descending Son, are grounded by the flaming wheel of destiny- the rotating cosmos; note that this also forms the pupil of the eye of the nimbus. The nimbus is simultaneously the third eye of gnosis, the Ajna chakra, and the gaping vulva of creation & oblivion. Naturally, it is crimson.
The guardians of the subterranean kingdom – the Devil’s tomb – are a vulture and wolf-headed sentinel, and in the towers, a fly and a worm. In the background is a coiling abstraction of serpents; the spears held by the sentinels penetrate into the inner strata of the nimbus-eye-wheel.
When it comes to that mix, I found it quite strange as Christianity (and the rest of Semitic religions) is a dualist dogma, whereas Hinduism has a polytheistic pantheon, but as I am not fond at all in Eastern religions, I will ask you please to introduce us a bit more in your thoughts about these differences and if there's any relation between both religions or some of their characters, as the cover may could live one to believe.
Hinduism is vastly different than the Abrahamic, monotheistic faiths. You have a multitude of gods and goddesses and the focus on mythology and parables is very prominent. It’s something different altogether. The duality of good / bad, sexual connotations, and depth in character largely separates it from Christianity and it’s bastard siblings.
However, one can clearly see the very obvious characteristic traits between Shiva and Lucifer and Kali and Lilith. A little bit of research on this subject will open doors to many other left hand path traditions. Please indulge.
Still on the same subject, the fifth track of the album is called “LEFTHANDPATHYOGA”. Could you introduce us a bit more into that dark side of yoga or Hinduism you seem to worship? I imagine that, as showed on the cover, it has something to do with Kali, isn't it?
The dark side of Hindu mysticism is Vamachara. It’s a Sanskrit term, one of the several gateways to the Left Hand Path. Vamachara consists of ritual practices such as human sacrifice, orgiastic meditations, consumption of intoxicants, etc – practices that are in direct conflict with mainstream Hinduism.
Weapon is deeply involved in this discipline, but that’s not what the song ‘LEFTHANDPATHYOGA’ is solely about. The song deals with embracing every Left Hand tradition there is because there is no one true to the heart of Satan. We examine all the disciplines and incorporate the totality in the yoga-like fashion.
According to that, do you see your music as a religious vehicle, as some bands from Europe seem to see Black Metal (Watain, Deathspell Omega, Funeral Mist...), better than an anti-religious weapon?
Weapon is a musical / spiritual weapon. How one interprets our music and lyrics within the confines of their own microcosm is entirely up to them.
How have you been received by the Canadian scene since you landed there from Bangladesh and how do you perceive it? What's your vision from an outsider's point of view? It seems quite strange to me as there seems to be a huge division between bands from the English part (were you live) and the Black Metal scene from the French side. Is there any kind of rivalry between both or do you have some contact/cooperation?
Well, considering that I have lived here for a long time now, I think it’s fair to say I’m no longer an ‘outsider’ within these borders. I feel more like an outsider in regards to society itself, whether that’s in Canada, Bangladesh or fucking Greenland.
My opinion on every ‘scene’ is pretty much the same – a handful of really good bands and the rest are shit. Same for fans – there are cool people everywhere as there are morons. More morons though, that’s for certain.
I don’t think there is any rivalry per se between the French and the English bands. It just so happens that we live in an enormous country and the 2 scenes are quite disconnected.
Let me know your opinion about these other Canadian bands:
- Blasphemy: Without a doubt one of the greatest Black Metal bands ever to exist, and certainly one of the most influential bands for Weapon.
- Revenge: Too one-dimensional for my taste. Next.
- Axis Of Advance: Good band.
- Rites Of Thy Degringolade: Underrated! One of the finest drummers in extreme metal left his mark here.
- Akitsa: I’m indifferent to them. Haven’t heard enough to have an opinion.
- A.M.S.G.: Impressive. As far as new bands go, this one is on top of the list.
- Begrime Exeminous: Competent live band, but not my thing musically.
- Mitochondrion: Mitochondrion is utter madness and horror. For my money the best bend out there right now aside from my own.
- Antediluvian: Hit and miss.
- Iskra: Never heard of them.
Ok, before finishing I'd like that you let us know a bit about the upcoming releases, touring plans or any other kind of info related with Weapon's future plans. Have you already started working on a new album or is it still too soon to think about that?
We just finished our Canadian tour with Rudra, which was a fantastic experience through and through! As always we are working on new material, so in some ways the next album is already under way…
Thank you very much for your time answering my questions, and good luck with Weapon's future. It would be great to see you sometime crossing Europe to deliver us your music. If you'd like to add anything else, please feel free to do it before closing the interview.
We appreciate the fact that you took the time to come up with interesting, thought-provoking questions. Hail Satan.
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.