"It must be extreme, that‘s all": interview with Sadist of BESTIAL RAIDS
Celebrating its 5th anniversary on April 22th, the festival of extreme and dark music Armageddon Descends did not take mercy on its plentiful crowd of worshipers of the trumpets of world‘s final battle. Uncompromising and not messing around with their purposes BESTIAL RAIDS, that performed on the eschatological stage of Armageddon Descends for the second time, were one of the high points of the event, in my opinion. I had a pleasure not only to witness the relentless raid of these polish metal-beasts but also to sit down together with band‘s vocalist and bass player Sadist to talk about the musical and ideological extremities of BESTIAL RAIDS. Enjoy!
Just to start things off – how does it feel to be back to Armageddon Descends after 4 years (one could say it‘s your private festival as it is called after the song from your second album)?
What I see over here right now is that everything has improved, the venue and the organization of the festival, so we are happy to be back. We always have a good crowd and shows in Lithuania, whenever we play in Vilnius or in Klaipėda. Yeah, we‘re always grateful to be back here. And especially for this festival because I see that people who organize the festival are serious guys – doing such festivals, underground festivals, is not easy so we want to support them.
Would you rather describe your live shows as performances or as ceremonies?
It depends. For me playing a live show has always been more like a ceremonial ritual, no matter how it sounds nowadays because there are tons of bands that call their live shows “rituals”. It all depends on what you feel inside. I always feel weird energies inside of me during live performances. I think it is not important how you call it, live performance, ritual or ceremony, whatever. It depends on how it works on the audience and on me personally. The name is not important here. But the energies that are around us when we play are not of this world, for sure.
Tell me about your first metal-experiences that drawn you to this music (the first record that you got, first concert that you went to).
There‘s a funny story that I‘ve told many many people. I‘ve started in my primary school where I had a very good friend, we were in the same class. He had an older brother who played in a catholic metal band (whatever). It was ridiculous but he had some satanic tapes. So once when I visited him I stole one SLAYER tape, it was “Show No Mercy”. When my friend‘s older brother had noticed that the tape was stolen he said to me: “Do not listen to SLAYER because it will possess your soul”. And so it was, actually. I remember it very well. It was SLAYER “Show No Mercy”. More than twenty years passed since my first listen to that tape but I still worship this record and old SLAYER. That was my initiation to metal music. Talking about live shows, I don‘t actually remember which one was the first live show that I‘ve witnessed. There were a lot of them, mostly of local bands. Serious business was MAYHEM. When I first saw them live it felt really really disturbing. Right now I remember that pretty well so I would say MAYHEM was the thing.
How would you describe the word “extreme”?
Being “extreme” means crossing the border, your personal border. You find your own line, let it be a relationship, people around you, family or whatever. To live extreme is to cross that line, to do everything against the morality of the rest of humanity and everything. To despise the human life and everything. That‘s what the word “extreme” means in my case. It can mean something different to other people but to me, “extreme” is something like that.
I think the music of BESTIAL RAIDS in general showcases pretty well that black metal and death metal (even grindcore and thrash) can function together rather organically and coherently. Do you make big/any difference between these genres yourself?
I think it doesn‘t matter, actually. In the case of our band, any moniker is not important. It might be, as you‘ve pointed out, grindcore or black metal or death metal. I love old school grindcore bands like NUCLEAR DEATH, REPULSION. It really doesn‘t matter for me how do you call our music – black, death or thrash, what we play is extreme music. We take inspiration even from heavy metal or non-metal music. It must be extreme, that‘s all.
Of course! My favourite bands are LED ZEPPELIN and BLACK SABBATH, these are my two all-time favourites, actually. I really like different weird stuff like THE PRODIGY. Maybe some ambient as well but only in few cases. Johnny Cash. I definitely enjoy the music of the 1970s and even 1960s.
Let‘s talk about your latest record “Master Satan‘s Witchery”. What is the most essential difference between “Master Satan‘s Witchery” and your previous record?
There is no major difference because same people did both records. We are walking in the same ways for many years and it works in our case. We don‘t want to rush things or to be on time with everything. We just take as much time as we need. Maybe the main difference was that in the case of “Prime Evil Damnation” it was me who mixed the album and “Master Satan‘s Witchery” was given to another person, Phil Kusabs from BLASPHEMY, who mixed and mastered the album. That‘s why it might differ a little bit, but, basically, the approach is the same.
Actually, on your label‘s (Nuclear War Now!) Bandcamp page it is written that “Master Satan’s Witchery” distinguishes itself from previous BESTIAL RAIDS recordings due to “the more notable presence of mid-paced song segments”. Is that correct?
We‘ve always had mid-pace tempos, even on our demo recordings. Maybe in “Master Satan‘s Witchery” there are a little less of them or some people say there are no mid-tempos at all, but that isn‘t correct – there are lots of mid-tempos over there as well. I don‘t think about that much, it all depends on the track. If we want to do a slower track, we just do it. In the case of our latest album, we hadn‘t had as many ideas for slower parts as we did before. Things people are writing about our music are their opinions, not the facts.
My personal favourites on the record are “Kingdom Below” and “Angel of the Abyss” that run one after another. The other day after listening to “Master Satan‘s Witchery” I went to sleep and had the riff of SEPULTURA‘s „Inner Self“ in my head and I couldn‘t understand why. Next morning I listened to your record twice and I realized that I clearly recognized the element from “Inner Self” in your song “Kingdom Below”. Maybe you have noticed that yourself?
No, I haven‘t. I actually really enjoy the old SEPULTURA. It really must be a coincidence. You know, it‘s extreme metal so I don‘t think it is possible to avoid all the similarities but, of course, it wasn‘t intentional. It‘s good, though, that you‘ve noticed that, I appreciate it actually.
Are there some early thrash metal influences in your music?
Of course. Mostly old SODOM and SLAYER, I think those are my favourite thrash metal bands besides Polish band KAT which some people consider to be a thrash metal band but I always thought they were a black metal band in the first place. Of course older German thrash metal bands like DESTRUCTION, PROTECTOR or even POISON, which is not a pure thrash metal band but I‘ve always loved them. I hate most of the bands from the US, that Bay Area catholic bullshit is not thrash for me, only SLAYER is real. So, yes, there are some thrash metal influences but, for the most part, I see them as unintentional.
I really don‘t like to talk about the lyrics, I prefer to leave space for people to understand them as they wish. The song is about Kabbalistic leftovers of the Tree of Life, Qliphoths as they are known in sources in English, but they could simply be called shells or husks. In contrast to the sacred Tree of Life, Qliphoths form the so-called Qliphotic Tree of Death. These Qliphoths are “excrements of creation”, something which was unwanted at the beginning of the creation of the world. God (Yahweh) didn‘t want them to exist, of course, but his heavenly light couldn‘t reach into or destroy Qliphoths, they were shadows cursed by the light of God. Thus the song is about evil forces that were always present during the creation of the universe. It sounds pretty chaotic but that‘s what I like to talk about in my lyrics and I prefer to write them in a totally chaotic way – I don‘t like lyrics that are written like a guide on how to do something.
Who is responsible for the artwork of “Master Satan‘s Witchery”? Can you elaborate a bit on its meaning?
The artwork was done by a girlfriend of our really good friend who is a rather young artist. She did the artwork for our other band, CULTES DES GHOULES. We‘re in good contact with her and we are 100 percent sure that she understands what we need. Besides, we‘ve always wanted to use a different artist for each record, we‘re always searching for someone who is less known and it was a pleasure to invite such a young person into our music. The main idea for the cover is taken from John Milton‘s “Paradise Lost” and it is directly connected with the last track. There‘s Lucifer falling on the Earth and destroying it with His forces and His witchery as it is seen in the title of the album as well.
There are generally rather big gaps between BESTIAL RAIDS records. What does that depend on?
We are involved in other bands that are not just projects but regular bands so we spend a lot of time playing in them. It is the main reason. The other reason is, as I‘ve told before, that we don‘t want to rush anything and we don‘t release anything new until we‘re 100 percent sure it‘s really good, at least in our opinion. For example, some tracks for the new album were done back in 2011, so they are already six years old. The creative process in BESTIAL RAIDS is way more difficult than it is in our other bands, actually. At first glance, the music may sound primitive or easy to play but, for us, the atmosphere is the most important thing so we pay a lot of attention to it while we‘re composing our new songs. It‘s just about taking your time. Of course, we‘re playing live shows in between. So I don‘t think the gaps are as big as they may seem to be. For example, since 2011, the year when “Prime Evil Damnation” was recorded, we did like six albums with our other bands so we were really busy most of the time.
As a listener, I always pay good attention to how an album starts and ends. I really like those rather unpredictable, eerie endings of your two demos and first album but it seems as if after “Reversed Black Trinity” you kind of gave up on making outros because “Prime Evil Damnation” and “Master Satan‘s Witchery” ends very… simply, as the final song ends. How difficult it is for you decide how to start and finish a record?
It‘s pretty easy. It all depends on the moment, the second when we‘re deciding if we‘re using an outro or not. In the case of our last recording, it was like “fuck it, everyone is doing a lot of intros and outros and we don‘t want to be like anyone else”, so we decided to cut off all the non-metal elements, that became our main goal. Maybe, in the future, we will do some intros and outros again. If you pay good attention to the first and the last riff on “Master Satan‘s Witchery” you‘ll hear that they are connected, they have similar tempos and everything so we treat them as intro and outro, actually.
In one interview you‘ve said that you “don‘t care if there are some small mistakes” on BESTIAL RAIDS recordings. What would be that “big” mistake (musically) that you wouldn‘t allow yourself to make?
When you‘re in the studio there is no time for “big mistakes”. My understanding of metal, rock or heavy music, in general, is that it is a feeling, not the technique or the decision of performance that really matters, just that moment when you‘re playing. It doesn‘t matter if one or two notes are not in their places, it‘s rock‘n‘roll music and we don‘t care about the perfection and all that, we leave it for other bands. We are wild, we are like VENOM.
Can there be such a thing as black metal “perfection” at all?
There are some bands that are doing everything precisely and clearly. I don‘t have anything against them, it‘s just their music, but it‘s not for my taste. I prefer when the music is wild and free from fake perfection. Of course, you can be perfect when you‘re spending ten or twenty hours to record one song but what‘s the point of that? It should be wild and primordial.
Could you possibly single out one metal album, song or at least band which you think managed to capture the dark, evil essence of our existence fully or at least came closest to it with their music?
Regarding the evil side of humanity, I really like CLANDESTINE BLAZE album “Deliverers of Faith”. It is a twisted way of showing how human beings can be wrong, disturbing and evil for each other. I think it is a perfect example. If we‘re talking about some otherworldly feelings, there are a lot of albums that are worth to mention. The first one that comes to mind is BLASPHEMY‘s “Fallen Angel of Doom….”. Everything on this album is as it should be – violent, short and chaotic. Evil, just evil.
Do you think BESTIAL RAIDS would sound different if you were a band not from Poland but from any other country in the world?
Of course, we would sound gay! We‘re from Eastern Europe so there‘s evil in our roots.
Are there any new ideas or plans for the new BESTIAL RAIDS record?
Not yet. We haven‘t worked on some new songs for three years. I think we just need a break with creating new songs. Right now we are fully focused on our live activities – performances or ceremonies, as you‘ve said. When the right time comes we will record a new album, it might take like two months to do everything. When we feel good about everything we can to a new record in two or three weeks but sometimes it can take three years. It‘s just the matter of evil feeling inside of us.