Temple of Baal


(3-18-10) -PHOTOS-

BWOA: Hells Amduscias! It's been longtime since we had any official talk on TEMPLE OF BAAL, last time was 2000/2001 between the bands demotape "Black Unholy Presence" and the split "Faces of the Void" vinyl ritual with ETERNAL MAJESTY....a lot has come and gone since those days! So let's talk first on some of those moments. Back during the above mentioned periods ToB was still a very unheard of band in most places, the French "scene" was still relatively small yet very active with very interesting bands at that time, some of which have come to be very well known today such as TEMPLE OF BAAL... how do you look at this progression from being a very underground Black Metal entity that 10 years ago a lot of people didn't know the band, to being a entity in today's scene that is very paid attention to for most standards as I see it? In an age where so many older bands called it quits ToB seemed to keep itself together and grow stronger over the years.

Amduscias: Well it's hard for me to actually know how well TEMPLE OF BAAL is known by people. I mean, I know we have a good underground following and that we might be somehow a "respected" band for what we do, but the fact that we don't play live too often (and that we so rarely went to play outside of France !) makes it difficult to know about the actual following of the band. Last time we played outside of France though, in Switzerland, we got a very good response from the crowd and for our first time in Switzerland it felt fucking good. Then about the way I look back at those twelve years… I feel quite proud for what we've done, I stand totally behind my releases, and no, I'm not thinking about stopping in any way ! We're lucky to be what we are today, we have a good label taking care of us, and we still have that feeling boiling in our veins so there's no point stopping. When the feeling is lost, we'll stop. For the moment, we still have those "connections to another dimension", this kind of… Ritual feeling about the music we compose so the TEMPLE will go forward, hopefully spreading more and more its spiritual venom… We definitely want to do gigs outside of France. So far, only Belgium, Portugal and Switzerland were reached it's definitely not enough, the Flames of Baal must consume the whole world...

BWOA: You just stepped onto a subject there breifly at the end of your reply, the mentioning/reference towards ToB material as ...Ritual... This catches my attention because it's precisely how I refer towards ToB material and material I enjoy personally and professionally as releases I put out. It goes beyond just music in such a simplistic meaning, that ritualistic feeling within the music and the as you put it "spiritual venom" is an aspect that is really felt in the music of ToB and expands from just music into a more personal relation, obviously for yourself of course but my direction is aimed as a listeners view....it's very much a difference I think this line between music and Ritual! 

Amduscias: I have a special way of composing. I have to be in the right mental state and this state has much to do with meditation to me. I have to let my mind go freely into a kind of "second state", where I "receive" the music or the lyrics. I just can't sit down at a table and go like "ok, let's write an album in ten days", no way. It definitely has something to do with ritual or with some kind of "altered reality"… Except I don't need drugs to reach this mental state. Temple Of Baal music and lyrics are born during those special moments, they are special to me, and that's why I feel my art to be felt from deep within. And I definitely hope listeners can feel it too, and maybe that the music we make helps them traveling into the dark night of the soul just like it does to me...

BWOA: The materials that came after the ones I mentioned before, in forms of split EP rituals bare a large testimony towards advancements within the band cause the EP's do not contain any exclusive tracks (except for one) rather more like sneak peaks into what the band was doing towards coming full length's at the time they were released, such as the split EP with SARGEIST in 2004 previewed the track "Bitter Days" (which I think is one of the best songs from ToB!) which then came on the 2005 full length "Traitors To Mankind" album. The split with ANCESTRAL FOG in which came after that full length album contained the track "Living Fleshthrone" from album but also "Satan's Legions" which was the only exclusive track the band has ever placed on an EP, which gave a bit of look into newer material before 2007 when the band did the split EP with AOSOTH and ToB featured with "Dead Cult" one of my favorite tracks that would be on the latest full length off AGONIA "Lightslaying Rituals" released in 2009. So you've used the EP's that have been released as an outlet for keeping people kinda updated on what was to come on full length features obviously, but I like how the band did this, instead of doing them on a mass produced mini CD you've kept those previews limited to a much more select feild of fans by doing them on limited vinyl and at the same time IMO keeping TEMPLE OF BAAL in a more underground form. If you understand what I mean with that, many bands that start to get a name rather do these things on mass produced formats of CD (or even now a days via MP3 download sites) to sell more and promote more sales for the full length the tracks are coming from, but ToB did the complete opposite and released them on limited vinyl. I don't even know if this means anything really, but for myself it has a lot of meaning and generates a lot of respect to the motives within the band and where the band stands in today's universal world of releasing music.

Amduscias: It's true that it was something we had in mind. The point was to release music on limited quantities, to please the underground maniacs (vinyl, you know, is not something the common consumer will buy, most common consumers don't buy music anymore anyway, they download). One of the interesting points (I think) is that yes, we released those songs afterwards on albums, but it was never the same recording. If you listen to "Bitter Days" on the vinyl and then on the album, the feeling is not the same at all. It's not the same studio… And not the same drummer. Not even the same instruments since I bought my seven strings guitar after this EP. So the people who buy those vinyls can actually compare both versions, it's not at all the same recording. We will keep on doing that in the future, either on splits or minis, but there will also be more "common" MCDs or split CDs, but we'll try to make those interesting, first with their musical content as we will keep on recording different versions of songs you'll find afterwards on albums, but also with their packaging, their layout. We don't want those to be common, basic objects, they are emanations from the TEMPLE, they are of equal importance to us as the full lengths are.

(Editors Note: Yes, Indeed! I don't know why I didn't state this, but yes they are different versions and the "Bitter Days" track on the split is IMO one of the best tracks by ToB is what I meant, I like both versions just something about that version w/ myself.)

BWOA: The band has had some line up changes over the years, though not as many as a lot of other bands have. I know you more recently in 2010 parted ways with drummer Antares and have since found a replacement in Skvm. Being a band that has been come to be recognized with high amount of integrity, how has been those moments of need to find replacement members? Does the band look for someone who simply can play the songs or does the band look for someone who can not only just play the songs but also possibly bring a new dimension into the bands music as well? I know you write a large part of the music for ToB, but I'm assuming it's still also a group effort?

Amduscias: Today, composing for TEMPLE OF BAAL is more a group work yes. Well, I still write most of the stuff and bring them to the other guys but now, our second guitar player Alastor also writes music for TEMPLE OF BAAL and we discuss then together in the rehearsal room about riffs and such. To be honest, the departure of Antares has been a painful moment. We felt it coming, though, because he was less and less into it, the spirit had left him. Also he had been going through very hard times on a personal point, and we fully understood his decision of leaving the band… Finding a replacement is not easy at all. First, there are not that many drummers around here and we definitely needed someone skillful. We know our music evolves with time, if you listen to each Temple Of Baal release in chronological order you'll definitely feel that and it's grown towards something more and more violent and brutal. Especially the drum parts have grown more and more difficult to play. It's not THAT technical, it's just that the guy has to play FAST and to hit HARD. So we needed a very good drummer. We wanted someone who could perfectly play the songs, but also who would have had a creative mind and the technical means to be able to play anything he would feel accurate for new compositions. Skvm has these inside of him, he's a young and talented musician with a professional approach, always looking to improve his skills, and that's what we needed. Also of course he's been into our music for a long time and was really looking forward to join the band so everything's fine, right ?

BWOA: Alastor joined in 2008 and his presence comes in on "Lightslaying Rituals" album. Funny thing, cause I know this is old member of the French band GLORIOR BELLI, a band you yourself had done some guitar work for on their "Manifesting the Raging Beast" album and on top of those is also the band that Antares played in before joining ToB ranks, so there is a lot of interaction within TEMPLE OF BAAL and GLORIOR BELLI members, in fact there are moments in both bands music that can be reletive towards one another's styles though neither bands are near the same. My reference to this only aims towards the doomish emotions that are present during some moments on "Lightslaying Rituals" album. So maybe there are some reflecting influences from both bands here or Alastor and/or Antares have brought some small part of that syle to ToB?

Amduscias: Well… Alastor didn't stay that long in GLORIOR BELLI. Antares did, but he did not compose for the band. It's true that Alastor is into more "dissonant" ways of playing Black Metal, he has a more atmospheric approach than mine (I'm a thrashing old goat, you know). So yes, there might be common points in the slower parts because of Alastor's way of composing. But I also think that we might share some basic influences with GLORIOR BELLI, as you probably don't know I'm really into Doom Metal as well and I know that mister Infestvvs from GB also like those kinda sludgy things, so...

BWOA: Actually no, I was not aware of your Doom tastes...obvious and interesting question for me though would be what bands within the Doom Genre old and new do you really enjoy in your personal tastes?

Amduscias: I'm a big BLACK SABBATH fan, both Ozzy and Dio eras. Then I'd mention bands like PENTAGRAM, SAINT VITUS, THE OBSESSED… I'm also fond of CATHEDRAL's career, (but the really Doomy era, demo & first album is really exceptional). I also like more lyric stuff like SOLITUDE AETURNUS or CANDLEMASS, and when it comes to extreme metal, I often listen to THERGOTHON. Some good ol' MY DYING BRIDE is always welcome as well… If you're into this genre, there are two bands in France you MUST check out : ATARAXIE (http://www.myspace.com/ataraxie) and INBORN SUFFERING (http://www.myspace.com/inbornsuffering) both are really soulful… And fuckin' crushing!

BWOA: You have been member of other bands aside from mainly ToB, as you were in ANTAEUS for short time (and MkM was with ToB for short time also) but you are also still active member of the French band BAEL, as well some lesser known other bands, so you have a lot of outlets where in the past and even now in the present have involved yourself with. Are these involvements due to bring out things you wish not to create with ToB or is it more a support thing within the French scene? I mean it is not uncommon for members in French bands to be in other projects, the thing is that if one pays any attention you see a lot of the same people in those bands, so obviously you are all friends to some extent and support one anothers efforts within your own distinguished outlets.

Amduscias: It's more of a "support" thing yes. Well actually, today, I only concentrate on TEMPLE OF BAAL. I've left everything else, I don't have the time and not much interest anymore. My band satisfies me. If some people want me to do some featuring on their albums, like to record a guitar solo the way I did it for GLORIOR BELLI, no problem, I will always enjoy playing music. But I can't join another band full-time, it's impossible. Our bass player Arkdaemon still has HELL MILITIA going on though, and I know that Skvm plays in other bands from time to time but I think it's session work for which he gets paid, which is not the same thing at all.

BWOA: I know that the band has highly been influenced from early Black Metal and Death Metal, especially early Swedish DM, and the only reason I bring up influences is that I think these are really brought out in the new album of "Lightslaying Rituals" more than ever before in the band because the new album has a lot of variety within your sound, you can really hear a very strong overall old Swedish DM influence in songs like "Dead Cult" and "Piercing The Veils Of Slumber" for example where older releases seemed to be a tad more influenced in black metal sound/direction like "Servants of the Beast" album was and "Traitors to Mankind" lands somewhere between the first and newest full lengths of the band within those influences coming out on "Lightslaying Rituals" album. The result is a listening experience that is epically powerful and blended with universe of misanthropic essences that rage continuously through the album from start to finish. Do you see TEMPLE OF BAAL continuing in this way or is newer material for the next album shaping to be something a little different as all your albums have never been an exact duplicate of the last? 

Amduscias: I can't really say. Each TEMPLE OF BAAL composition is done according to a feeling we have at a precise time. So yeah, the band keeps on developing. Our new songs are in the Lightslaying Rituals vein, maybe with a more atmospheric and epic feeling, but they are still extremely dark and brutal. For the Swedish DM influence well indeed, we've listened to old ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER and such when we were young and we still fucking like this style today. I also think that this transition is quite logical for us. We've always had some kind of old school vibe with thrashing parts etc. Right before recording Traitors To Mankind, we switched on 7 strings guitars, that enabled us to reach a lower, darker register (you can already hear it on Flames Of Baal, for instance). Also, our songs have grown faster. So to me, it can't sound anything else. Old school riffing, guitars tuned to B, big sound… That's what you get. But we didn't turn into a Death Metal band, though. I still hear a lot of Black Metal riffing in our music. DARKTHRONE, MAYHEM and such are not that prominent anymore in our music but they are still at the core of if. The riffing on albums like A Blaze In The Northern Sky or De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas just branded our souls forever...

BWOA: I think that those two album from DARKTHRONE and MAYHEM are among most everyone's favorites who are into the old Norwegian BM genre and undisputed I'd say, who could not agree that for instance Euronymous was not a pure riffing genius on De Mysterriis... the entire album pierces the quintessence of the soul!

Amduscias: Definitely. Simple but effective riffs with such a cryptic, ritualistic atmosphere… This is Black Metal in all its magic dimension. An album that grabs the soul and takes it to a spiritual journey, into the darkest worlds… This one, A Blaze… and Under A Funeral Moon are maybe the only three Black Metal albums I'd keep if I had to get rid of everything. I skip Transilvanian Hunger, I seldom listen to it, I find it boring in the end.

BWOA: You have realized the best sound the band has ever captured on the new album, are you totally happy with the overall result? This is a very dynamic sound the band has produced with "Lightslaying Rituals" and I'm wondering if on this recording the sound is releative to the bands live sound on stage? 

Amduscias: We are always pretty much concerned about the sound. We want to hear every instrument. Since the beginning of the band, I always wanted to hear the bass distinctively, on the contrary of most extreme Metal bands, for whom it doesn't seem to matter. We're really satisfied with the sound we got on Lightslaying Rituals. But there's a difference between studio and live sound. Live, you can't be that much precise of course. We always try to have each instrument perfectly clear, but conditions don't always make it that easy. But the most important for us is the energy, in the end. We will never achieve to have this kind of sound live, but it's not such a matter. If we can hear ourselves playing, and if the crowd is receptive, chances are the ritual is effective.

BWOA: Moving on towards other things, though I have never witnessed a live ToB assault first hand, I have seen some rather very good video footage and seems to me ToB puts on a very chaotic gig with some what I have heard flawless performances. How important is playing live with you for the band, is it something you place as priority, especially as a promotional stand point for the newest album? I know you have always played TEMPLE OF BAAL live since your demo days of course.

Amduscias: I can't imagine Temple Of Baal without playing live. When I was young, all Metal bands played live, there was no such thing as "one man bands", and no poser attitude. Metal bands went on stage and kicked our asses. It seems logical to me, Metal is an energic style, the best way to play it seems to play it live. And to be honest, I'm sort of a stage-addict. Nothing can beat this adrenaline rush, this explosion of wild energy. And to be honest, one of my regrets is not to play live more often, and after those gigs in Portugal, Belgium and Switzerland we definitely WANT to play more and more outside of France.

BWOA: Most all the people who know of TEMPLE OF BAAL have read where the name of the band derives from, so I'll skip that part, but my question is not the meaning of the name, but rather how you would describe the meaning of the name ToB related to the music and overall philosophies within the bands lyrical messages, subjects, and points of religious views? I see this as a better question to the common of what does the name mean when everyone should know at least where the BAAL part comes from.

Amduscias: Baal has always been linked to fire and lightning so to me, creating a Temple in his name meant to burn all lifecodes and morals to ashes, and to create you own "scale of values" so to say. The link to Satanic philosophy is obvious to me. As for the religious part, using the word "Temple" in our name is not in vain. This band is a constant place of worship and meditation, playing in TEMPLE OF BAAL is ritualistic and still definitely has an impact on me. If it didn't, I wouldn't be here anymore. We've never been such a "big band", never made money out of this, even to cover our expenses, and to be honest, it's not important at all. The most important thing is the devotion we have to this Temple, and the bonds we feel that unite us to its core. And no matter what life opposes us (and it does, trust me), in twelve years, those bonds never broke.

BWOA: ToB have one more album to release with AGONIA RECORDS with your contract. I know that you released with AGONIA first and fore-mostly on a recording fund aspect, always an important aspect of course. Since the release of "Lightslaying Rituals" and the feedback that has been from the album I'm curious as to if the band has received more interesting offers since signing with AGONIA and if the band may continue with the label after the second ritual for them is realized? Obviously your ok with the label so far if I'm correct? 

Amduscias: So far, so good. Some labels did show interest but they don't match Agonia's offer so…

BWOA: Ok, Amduscias I don't want to take up anymore of your time and I think we had a good little discussion on things so I'll end it here. Again, Thank you for this time for the feature with bwoa!!

Amduscias: Thank you very much for the continuing support for such a long time ! I hope to have the chance to come and desecrate the States some day, maybe with the new album who knows.
Check out our myspace http://www.myspace.com/templeofbaal and Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Temple-Of-Baal/20135072962 for updates about what's to come.
Our next important step is our appearance at the Inferno Fest in Norway and then we'll concentrate on composing the next album. Horns up, Hail Satan !