Extreme Metal Empire: Introduce yourself and state your role in Malacath...
Lykos: My name is Lykos. I write all of the songs and perform all of the instruments as Malacath and, to date, have recorded, mixed, and produced all of my releases.
EME: Describe Malacath's sound...
L: The easiest way to describe the sound would simply be black metal. Over the course of the projects three years of existence I have shifted from a more traditional raw black metal sound to more of an atmospheric approach to song writing. The last two EPs have seen the added element of Doom Metal, albeit in small doses. The foundation, however, will always be black metal.
EME: Which bands/artists have most influenced Malacath?
L: I think the two most obvious influences would be Burzum and Darkthrone, as not surprising as that may seem to be. I first got into both of those bands at an early stage not only in my life, but also in my development as a musician. The influence is quite strong. For example, it was while listening to the Self Titled Burzum album that the beginning riffs for what would go on to become my second EP "An Ode to the Loss of Life" first came to me. Burzum has probably had the most direct influence, just in terms of approach to song writing. I feel that a song should play out more like a story, and that an album should feel like a journey from beginning to end. In terms of actual riffing, that is where the Darkthrone influence is more noticeable. There are elements that I have picked up from other bands as well, such as Sargeist and Horna, who helped influence my appreciation for melodic riffing. I also enjoy the acoustic works of Agalloch quite a bit, which has served as an inspiration for my acoustic works as well. Really the influences are everywhere.
EME: Tell us about the origin of this project and the meaning of the name, Malacath...
L: Malacath started out of desperate need to recreate the feeling that I get when I listen to those first albums that got me into Black Metal. From the beginning I felt a strong attachment to the genre, and from the first time I heard it I knew that it was something that I wanted to do too. Malacath does not exist to break any new ground, and it's really not a project that I suspect will stick out as special to a lot of people. Malacath exists because of a personal need to make this kind of music. It's a very selfish thing for me, but it is also nice to see when other people can connect to it the same way that I do. As for the name, it was chosen for two reasons. Primarily as a tribute to my favorite game series The Elder Scrolls. The name Malacath was chosen specifically because Malacath is the patron saint of the Orcs. It seemed like it would be fitting imagery to accompany the music at that time, if people understood the reference in the first place.
EME: What does some of your lyrical content consist of?
L: Well in terms of my previous two EPs "Songs for the Destitute" and "An Ode to the Loss of Life", those both are continuations of a story started with the song Solace on the split I did with Murrum called Wolves of New England. Those songs all tell the story of a person abandoned in life who struggles with the idea of committing suicide, and who ultimately ends up killing themselves to find peace in life. With the exception of those releases, however, the general lyrics in Malacath tend to just reflect the moods and soundscapes of the songs they are written for. Many are just stories that give my voice a reason to be used as an instrument. Some are allegorical and represent my resentment for the way the things in my life that I enjoy are corrupted by outside forces. Ultimately the lyrics in Malacath are irrelevant. I try my best to do the story telling through the actual music itself.
EME: What are your thoughts on the current state of black metal?
L: I am very conflicted about it to be honest. It would be a cop out to say that the scene has been flooded and that real black metal is an art long gone, but I can't say that there isn't at least some truth to that statement. I think it's easiest to explain like this. I enjoy Black Metal regardless of whether or not I know other people who do, but there was something special about taking the journey through those first few albums that I heard with only one or two other people. It was an awesome experience to think that I had found my own little goldmine of underground releases that, to my knowledge at the time, nobody had heard about. Now that I've realized that there a vast world of Black Metal fans out there it doesn't feel so special, or so unique. It bothers me to a degree to see it listed alongside other genres of music like death metal because to me that removes it from the pedestal that I have placed it on as my go to genre of metal, but I also have to consider the other side of the story. If black metal had never caught the attention of the greater metal audience I may very well have never heard some of the albums that I consider to be the pinnacles of metal. I think there was a certain magic about the early black metal albums, from Bathory to Ildjarn, that simpy can not be recreated today. The experimentation of creating a whole new style of music. I think that aspect of Black Metal may be gone today, but it be would wrong to say that there isn't still great music being pumped out by die hards who are doing their best to keep the old beast alive. It may not be new and exciting, but I think there are still bands who are keeping it alive, even if they are not necessarily the freshest sounding bands around.
EME: With that being said, which current bands do you enjoy?
L: I've been a huge fan of Leviathan for a while now. There are few bands that I've heard that have been able to capture that unbelievable level of aggression and raw emotion. I've recently gotten into Krieg, and I definitely like a lot of the stuff that they're doing. As much as it might be the wrong thing to say, I enjoy Wolves in the Throne Room and Agalloch. Mostly though I just listen to the classics, such as Darkthrone, and a lot of the local/regional bands from New England. Bog of the Infidel, Obsidian Tongue, the list goes on and on. There is this band called Tarnkappe that I discovered while working in my local record shop that I've been digging a lot lately.
EME: New England seems to have a healthy, thriving underground black metal scene, more so than most that I personally am aware of in North America. Why do you think that might be?
L: Look at our surroundings. Our winters are long, cold and miserable, our forests are plentiful. In some regions there really isn't really a lot that is going on. It's the perfect breeding ground for black metal. There is an isolation that can be achieved here that can not be achieved in other places in the United States.
EME: Describe the songwriting process. How does it all come together?
L: Generally it starts with me picking up a guitar when I've had a good amount of time spent by myself, or in a situation when I feel that I can isolate myself from what is going on. From there it is just jamming with these riffs for hours at a time and trying to find where I can take each song as naturally as when I am first writing them. I go through a ton of variations of the same riffs to find the versions with the right nuances for the feeling that I feel like the song is portraying. There isn't a lot of sitting and planning, or at least there never used to be. I basically would just jam until a new idea came to me. Most of the time I try and record at least a demo take of the song to keep the idea fresh, or I let it sit for a day or two. If I can come back and still feel the connection to the riffs that I have written then I know it is something I want to pursue and I work a little bit at structuring the songs. Recently I've taken to tabbing the songs to try and be able to work on them that way, but that feels very impersonal. I like to jam ideas out and let songs write themselves.
EME: Name a few songs you're most proud of and tell us a bit about them...
L: The two songs I am the most proud of are A Song for the Destitute (Solace II) and ...And My Soul Will Ascend to the Stars Above (Solace III). Those were the two songs that ever truly fully captured the exact emotions that I was trying to convey on record. Speaking from a production standpoint, A Song for the Destitute is probably the rawest finalized recording I have. It sounds abrasive and very atmospheric. I think it captures best what Malacath has become. It is a separation from reality and humanity while still conveying very human emotion. As for Solace III, it is obviously my longest song, clocking in at a little over 21 minutes. It is almost my most dynamic song. There is more than a few droning riffs in there. It covers ground from clean guitar and acoustic work to atmospheric black metal riffing even to some piano action. I will forever be proud of that creation. It is the culmination of the Solace trilogy, and I think it really ties the EPs together. I am also very proud of my acoustic work, only because it they are my opportunities to branch out into other styles of music, and they are a lot of fun to play.
EME: Are there any plans on adding members to Malacath and possibly doing live shows?
L: There will never be any other permanent members of Malacath. This is my personal outlet outside of other musical projects, and I would like to keep it that way. Live shows on the other hand are certainly going to happen, but in limited number. We actually are scheduled to play our first real show in August of 2015. The live lineup will be the same members from my other band Sassu Wunnu, as well as Grim Riley from the Massachusetts based Funeral Doom Metal band Vacant Eyes handling the bass duties. I look forward to seeing how my music translates to a live setting.
EME: How has fan response been thus far?
L: The response that I have seen has been almost entirely positive. I
am sure there are some out there who do not enjoy what I do, but they have at least had the good graces to not blabber on about it endlessly. Each release spreads a little further, and each seems to transmit to the listener the way I intended it to, so I would say the fan response has been good.
EME: What are some of your interests outside of music?
L: I am a huge video game fan. That takes up the majority of the time that I am not spending on music or working. I mostly enjoy RPGs, although I'm not a die hard fan of any particular genres. Other than that I don't really do a lot of other things. I enjoy entertainment and media of any kind. I'm a big fan of watching movies, and I listen to comedians often. Music is really what i like to do though.
EME: Where can one get your music?
L: You can get almost all of my releases for free on bandcamp. The only things that are not on there are my first demo, which I hope will never see the light of day again, and the split I did with the band Murrum. That is available through the Swampkult Productions website. Some of my music has been posted on youtube too, so there is that option available as well. I think I saw some Russian torrents for one of my EPs once.
EME: What does the future hold for Malacath?
L: I have already begun the writing process for a full length album, but there have been other things sidetracking me from that process. There have been plans for a split release with a fellow New Hampshire black metal band but so far there has been no movement, so it has pretty much been working on the next release and seeing where the music takes me. A few live shows here and there, and working on getting physical releases and merchandise as well.
EME: Thank you for your time. Any parting words?
L: Thanks for the interview, and thanks for supporting my music and the rest of the underground community. That's the only way we're going to keep black metal alive.