Communication be Doomed: An Interview with Alkerdeel

Posted by on April 18, 2014

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I spent 2013 unfortunately oblivious to new music, living without internet in an apartment that seemed resistant to blasting anything, recording single takes of vocals so as not to further anger the neighbors, selling off my speakers to fund a car purchase, etc. The only new music I was exposed to was in the car of our metal-obsessed friend who was cool enough to take me on every errand I had to run. Aside from what I got through Decoder, my narrow conclusion of 2013 was that it was a hell of a year for pushing the doom metal genre forward with tons of new names coming out of nowhere. No longer limited to side-projects of the dudes from Sunn O))), doom metal’s code has been cracked and handed to the masses. There are more clean-cut folks than ever at the shows who are equally obsessed with whatever else Pitchfork likes. While metal-heads could bitch, this push in popularity actually means I get to do stuff like see Windhand and The Body in the same weekend, where before it was almost impossible to find any of these bands coming through town. Metal is in, and I think we’re all okay with that.

A couple of months ago, one of our staff members tossed up the opportunity to interview Gnaw Their Tongues for the promotion of a collaborative release with Belgian metal band Alkerdeel. Having listened to GTT since back when the internet would only offer up ten-or-so doom acts without heavy research, I jumped at the chance and then forgot about it until a short while ago. Mories of Gnaw Their Tongues turned out to be harder to get in touch with, but Pede from Alkerdeel responded to email with the vigor and language confusion you might expect from a European metal guy. Knowing what to ask those who work in dark music can be tricky, but the answers seem best left unedited.

Alkerdeel and Gnaw Their Tongues have produced an 18-minute track for ConSouling Sounds called “Dyodyo Asema” to celebrate the label’s fifth anniversary, which is available here: http://www.consouling.be/releases.php

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Phil Diamond: How did you (Alkerdeel) and Gnaw Their Tongues come together for this release?
Pede: The release had the intention of celebrating five years of ConSouling Sounds, our label. They asked all bands from their roster to do some kind of collaboration. We had worked with Mories from GTT before, he provided the picture for our first EP, De Bollaf!, made the intro for the Morinde album and the outro for “Du Levande,” the closing song from the same album. Pui is even such a big GTT fanboy that he probably saves his GTT collection first and then his wife when their house would be on fire. A likewise collab that will see the light of the day soon will be Hemelbestormer with Vanessa Van Basten. Hemelbestormer is also a Belgian band, more ambient-sludge, don’t know who Vanessa Van Basten is. He (although Vanessa sounds like a she) is from Italy and not a soccer player.

What is the music scene and metal scene like out there in Belgium?
Church Of Ra [and] Amenra’s disciples are the biggest scene. Although we do know some of them, we’re not connected to it at all. Don’t know if there’s really a black or death metal scene. We do know some bands, the Lugubrum guys, and have organized shows together, but that would be too big to speak of a scene. We only meet by coincidence, i.e. when queueing at the buffet of a local vegan restaurant. Or on the street when they’re driving their kids to school. But mind, Lugubrum do live in cold and wet cellars and eat the snails that populate their heads!! When we were kids, there used to be a very small place called Frontline in our hometown Ghent, where every band that later on got a name played, from Iron Monkey to Sick of it All and Aeternus to Krisiun. There you met a lot of people and some formed bands. But today, we’re too busy with our own thing and lives that I’d rather say we’re on our own. In Brussels, there’s A Thousand Lost Civilizations who organize all the good gigs, you know, Dodheimsgard, Urfaust, Archgoat, One Tail One Head, Mortuary Drape…. and there you meet like-minded people, fellow musicians or people from back in the day. The scene around the experimental Kraak (Ignatz, Sylvester Anfang, Maan…) or punk in Scheld’Apen is far bigger though.

“Is Deafheaven and all this post-black a trend? Don’t know and don’t care. Rather focus on the things I like. There’s a lot of good music coming out these days. On vinyl! That should be a trend too? Maybe the tape resurrection from the grave was a trend. … So let’s say Alkerdeel are trendy!”

Where do you guys take your inspiration from? What kicks off working on an album? Do you write in the studio or do you have it worked out beforehand?
We write everything in our rehearsal place, on a very slow tempo. Mostly Pui (guitar) and Nieke (drums) come together, as they always did since their teenage years, to jam and make a basic song. When we’re all four at the rehearsal, it’s more like a butcher’s abattoir. We cut things, throw parts away, make it far rougher — mostly the basic song and the final result are similar to North and South Korea. Musical influences come from everywhere, be it black, sludge, doom… but the bottom line is always: it has to sound filthy. When we started there was a lot of sludge, that seems to be now a bit more on the background in favor of more death/war metal stuff. We do not care, it comes natural. The last song we wrote really has this Swedish influence from the nineties, Nihilist, Grave together with Bestial Warlust frenzy, but at the same time there’s this krautrock vibe in it too. That might sound a weird, but to our ears, it Can be done.

Where’s the name come from?
It’s an old dialect word for “manure tank.” Old people mostly recognize it and often start to laugh. On a side note, when I was in Austria a while ago, they asked for the bandname and a girl in our company recognized it. When taking the separate parts of the name, “AL – KER – DEEL,” it’s like “SHIT – LORRY – FIELD.” German—which is spoken in Austria—and Dutch are related to each other and the girl recognized the AL-part. She said, “Al or Aal” is derived from “Adel,” which means “nobility, rich people.” During medieval times when spreading manure on the field, the poor farmers said “throw the adel (the shit) on the fields!” expressing their discontent with the rich upperclass. The expression remained, “adel” became “aal,” which is the word still used to this day. So far the history lesson.

imageFavorite bands?
I love these questions, as that’s how I get in touch with new bands when reading interviews. A couple of weeks ago, Dodheimsgard played in Brussels, and since then I’m having this daily dose of Kronet Til Konge. And Zyklon-B. In a loop. I answered the same actually in another interview, feels a bit lazy, but it’s how it is. Also a lot of Bathory, Blood on Ice and Twilight Of The Gods, because we don’t have a winter this year, so it’s a nice alternative. Then a lot of albums I bought lately:

Meth Drinker: essential sludge from New Sealand.

Forest Swords: electronics, if Burial is from the city, then FS is from the forests. Dough.

Ulver: Messe, their best since The Silencing EPs.

Wolf People: contemporary psychedelic folk rock. Love it.

Bölzer: Swiss duo, old-school black/death with even a hint of Black Cobra in the riffing. Very hot these days.

Palehorse: from London, their newest release. Sludge, but not the emo crap.

O.B.E.Y.: Tangorodrim project.

Okkultokrati: Snakereigns, Norwegian blackened punk.

Matt Elliott: French chanson mixed with Balkan melodies in [an] apocalyptic sauce. ThirdEyeFoundation-dude solo.

Pff so much more, I have my daily dose of Covenant from Morbid Angel. Katharsis. Black Witchery. Faustcoven. Goat. SATAN’S SATYRS!!!! They play Antwerp soon. Rust (Aura Noir alike stuff from Sweden). Peste Noire. Neil Young.  But MOST important: AKSUMITE! We’ve a tape deck in our bathroom, so when having the blurred sight, there’s black/punk. And Mion’s Hill is in the deck too. When answering this, I’m listening too Kampfar. Nostalgia, haha.

Trends in music you’re excited about in 2013/14? Do you think of music as a progressive sort of dialectical beast?
Don’t understand what you mean with “dialectical beast.” I’m very impressed with how Behemoth reaches this large audience and commercial success, but remain this aggressive outfit. Although it’s not really my thing, it’s more appealing than what Satyricon is doing now. But is this a trend? Is Deafheaven and all this post-black a trend? Don’t know and don’t care. Rather focus on the things I like. There’s a lot of good music coming out these days. On vinyl! That should be a trend too? Maybe the tape resurrection from the grave was a trend. Or Fenriz and his real drum sound fixation. (Which we really relate to.) So let’s say Alkerdeel are trendy!

Gnaw-Their-Tongues-Alkerdeel-Dyodyo-AsemaI love hearing music-obsessives talk about what they think of music these days, what they think of the culture they are a part of, whether it be the tape scene or small labels or their contemporaries — the more you’d want to say about that kind of stuff I’d love to hear it.
I’d rather discuss with a beer than writing [it] down, but actually a part is answered in the questions above. But when you mention tape labels, a scene, then I should add [that] I have huge respect for all those people in the DIY thing. You know, organizing gigs, silkscreening posters, releasing music in all different kinds of formats. People who’re doing something. Actually it doesn’t matter if it’s music. Could be making furniture, too, [that] can be as inspiring. Setting up a Pinterest with your latest eco-quiches a bit less, though. I actually ran a small DIY label myself called Luchtrat, and produced six releases: Wrath of The Weak (US), Sylvester Anfang (Belgium), The Deathtrip (Norway), Virus (Norway) and Menace Ruine (Canada). All releases were 3″, attached to wood and wrapped in fabric. It was fun to do, and maybe there will be more in the future, but these days all the energy goes to the band and graphic work. All our artwork was done by ourselves, and will try to expand it in the future.

All those Constellation albums are lovely, that GYBE! release containing the coin that was put on the train rails, the different cards… it’s really inspiring, and without copying, we hope to make our releases as interesting. The booklet and the artwork from Teitanbloods Seven Chalices, reminded me [of] Craig Thompson’s graphic novel, Habibi, where he integrated Arabic fonts and symbols in his illustrations. When a band is going this far with their artwork, it just gives you the energy to take your own to another level.

2013 had so much good doom metal stuff come out while most other guitar oriented music sort of slipped into obscurity for me. I’m an electronic guy and I only listen to metal when it comes to actual “bands.” What do you think about that? Is metal sort of the logical direction of band-oriented music?
No. Metal is mostly quite conservative, so it’s not a direction. It’s a fossil. Last year at Roadburn, a friend and I stood on the third floor of the main hall counting all the bald heads below us and concluded, “Could this be the convulsion of a dying beast?” But then, don’t you think it’s going in waves? There’s this national rock concours in Belgium where mostly electronic acts that won and most of the participants now are electronic. But later on there will be these shy girls and their guitars that met in music classes that will win the contest, so the following years will be broken-hearted singer-songwriters again. I think you could extrapolate this on a wider scale too. Below the radar there are always elements to row against the tides. And from time to time they’re popping up.

Are you into the occultist stuff or just into playing music?
Haha. Into or interested in? It’s 2014. The Higgs particle has been discovered. And we’re adults, but grew up with Iron Maiden and explored their Lovecraft quotes… and guys remain kids.

Personally I have quite an interest in everything occult or out of this world, [while also] having interest in patterns printed on the fabric of Arabian nomads. These days, actually, I’m exploring the Enochian Key to use the alphabet and its code as a basis for illustrations. All the letters have their own equivalent, a symbol, a numeric value, a color, etc., and I’m using all [this] data to construct figures. The artwork of the forthcoming [album] will contain some of these illustrations.

As an atheist, I frequently have these five seconds of wonder when watching a so-called satanic or occult show. Is what happens on the stage because of the Venom entertainment factor, or rather [because of] serious religious commitment? In case of the last, it’s as alien to me as any other religion. However, I do not reject the need for some mystical celebration; it’s human, but then I’d rather be a tree hugger.