1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?
Michal: There have been plans for a couple of gigs which have been unfortunately cancelled because of the covid situation. We just had a chance to play at Soulbönding Trip festival which took place inside an old church in the middle of the forest in the north of the Czech Republic. This was so far the only concert we played after Towards the Great White Nothing release. And since the forecast for next months isn’t too positive, we are focusing on composition of new material. Some songs are already completed and we even played one at Soulbönding trip which can be heard on Youtube: https://youtu.be/Y_b2ip2E5i8
2.In September you had released a new album, musically how does it differ from the ep you had released in 2016?
Michal: We can say it is a more consistent and more black metal-focused record. Our debut Ved Rums Ende was composed a long time ago partly by various ex-members. Towards the Great White Nothing was written and recorded in the current lineup. It can be considered more “serious”, since VRE was basically an end point of our punk period.
Martin: That EP is more our dealing with the past than anything else. Hence even the title: we chose the name “Ved Rums Ende” which was both our tribute to avantgarde black titans Ved Buens Ende, and the statement of the band - Ved Buens Ende means “at the end of the rainbow” so Ved Rums Ende is “at the end of the rum”, meaning the end of our punk and rum-infused youth. The new album is different. We still managed to be quite eclectic, but it is more coherent and put together - we were actually pretty sure what we wanted to do with both composition and sound. This album is definitely more black metal and even the sound is more harsh and dare I say more brutal - kudos to the mad Swede Anders Axelsson from Dodsmord Studio who helped us greatly with it.
3.The band has been around since 2006 but waited until 2016 to release any music, can you tell us a little bit more about what was going on in the earlier years?
Michal: There have been many lineup changes (the only remaining member from the original lineup is Štěpán) and the band was also inactive quite often. Some years it was quite common to have more than 6 month-long breaks. This is the main reason why our first record came after 10 years. The music was also very different back then and before the band evolved from alternative rock/punk and darker hardcore to black metal, it took some time. The first black and doom metal elements started to appear in Voluptas’ music when guitarist Martin joined the band in 2010.
4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you explore with the new album and also how would you describe your progress as songwriters over the years?
Martin: Lyrics are, at least for me, a place where I am left to do what I want to. We discuss music a lot, but lyrical topics depend, at least until now, pretty much on the one person who writes them. Gnosis and Agony was written by Jan and I wouldn’t dare to speak about it, so my answer applies to the rest. They tend to be quite introspective. Topics are always somehow stylized and dressed in images I deem interesting. So for example Between Terror and Erebus is, at its core, a call for help from a person who is on a verge of breakdown, but it uses the image of Franklin’s lost expedition to convey what I wanted to tell, all in a regular romantic fashion of describing the scenery that corresponds with the state of mind. But I concur with David Lynch on his take on the meaning of art - it should be left solely on the recipient to interpret what it means, so I am a bit reluctant to give away the key… and I have perhaps already said more than I wanted to :)
5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Voluptas'?
Štěpán: Voluptas was the daughter of Eros and Psyche and the word in Latin stands for (and, in Roman mythology, personifies) pleasure, delight, satisfaction, and enjoyment. Just a few months after the band was founded (spring 2006, or thereabouts) we had a confirmed gig, so we needed a name quickly and no one had any relevant ideas. At that time I was studying for my Latin exam and I liked how the word Voluptas looked and sounded. Also the meaning seemed ok to us – we played something like crossover/alternative rock/punk at that time. In retrospect, I’m not sure if we would choose this name again, but it’s just something that stuck with us. Our lyrics are often inspired by Greek and Roman mythology, so there is also some connection. And after all, music is still a pleasure for us.
6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
Štěpán The author of the cover is Kristýna Vašíčková and it's (more or less) her free interpretation of the album title. It's a phrase of text from Between Terror and Erebus (see above) and it can be interpreted also as nothingness, death or absurd(ness).
7.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Štěpán: We enjoyed a lot sharing the stage with bands like Alkerdeel, Cough, Sedna (in Pilsen) and most of the concerts we played outside of Prague, especially the gig in Chropyně, and some extraordinary venues like old missile facility in Bratronice and (ex-)church Soulkostel in Vernéřovice. Our best gigs in Prague were always in Modrá Vopice (because of the sound) I would say.
8.According to the facebook page you have an event planned for November, how does this work during the pandemic?
Michal: Well, as mentioned above, because of the covid lockdown in the Czech Republic, closure of all music venues etc., there is almost no way the release party could happen on 5th November. But we plan to reschedule it, ideally with all the originally invited bands, for some future date. But since the situation is currently only getting worse and no one knows whether it will be possible to play gigs in one, two or even more months it will probably not happen someday soon.
9.The new album came out on 'MetalGate', how did you get in contact with this label?
Michal: After Ved Rums Ende release, MetalGate contacted us and invited us to play at MetalGate Czech Death festival. This was our first contact with the label and since they are currently one of the largest labels focused on metal music in the Czech Republic, it was reasonable to cooperate with them in the future. We sent them our new record, they liked it, and that's it. And since the support Metalgate provide to bands is great, we’re glad for our cooperation.
10.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your newer music by fans of black and avant garde metal?
Michal: So far we must say very positive. There are a couple of reviews on Metal-Archives, we have one review from Belgium and of course now on Occult Black Metal Zine. And if we put aside the numerical rating which is not always very relevant, the reactions itself usually praise interesting fusion of old school black metal with uncommon (sometimes described as avant-garde or experimental) riffs or approach to metal music. Since this basically describes also our own feeling of our music, we’re happy to see some symbiosis between ourselves and the listener. We of course cannot be considered as a world-known band, so we appreciate any feedback and review which could help our music to reach out to more relevant music fans.
11.What is going on with some of the other bands or musical projects these days that some of the band members are a part of?
Michal: As for me, I was dragged into one alternative death/grind band called Brauncholda to record vocals. The record is now in production and will be probably released at the end of this or the beginning of next year. No rehearsals at this moment as the other guys are not composing any new music now and there are no gigs planned. But with another bunch of dudes we started a new death/doom project (so far with a secret name) and I hope there will be at least some demo recordings available soon. Nothing experimental, actually a very old-school rotten thing. But let’s see how things end up.
Martin: I play in one other metal band, Adonis DNA. This band has a similar story to Voluptas in the past, we are sometimes on hold and we sometimes play gigs. Our first album is already recorded for years, but it hasn’t been released yet and we honestly don’t know when we release it… or if ever. But I (and Jan who is in this band with me) hope we will come out from our hibernation, because our music with this band conveys a different (and more personal) spectrum and it would be a shame to lose it.
Jan: Apart from Adonis DNA, with whom we have quite a few great tracks that we don’t seem to be able to complete and release for some reason, I also play in a psychedelic band Olaf Olafsonn and the Big Bad Trip. Earlier this year we also released a new album (Temple of Serenity) and otherwise are quite active, except for these pandemic times, of course.
12.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Michal: We will probably continue with a similar way we started on Towards the Great White Nothing. So mainly black/doom metal with elements from other genres. The new compositions are not diametrically different from TtGWN songs. There are some melodic riffs, dissonant ones, rock parts and we will most likely involve even some non-metal instruments and make it weird somehow. On the other hand, it is still metal, not absolutely insane avant-garde.
Martin: We have already taken a more systematic approach towards composing and we want to continue with that. I would also love to engage more instruments, namely saxophone (again, but more!), clarinet or other woodwinds and synths.
13.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
Voluptas: Our newer music is mainly inspired by older Dødheimsgard, older Ulver, Virus, Ved Buens Ende, older Negură Bunget.
Štěpán: Latest records from Neptunian Maximalism, Lychgate, Kaboom Karavan, Onirik, Imperial Triumphant, Ing. Kralik, some modern / contemporary classical (Georg F. Haas, Cenk Ürgun & JACK Quartet, Susan Alcorn / Janel Leppin), avant / free jazz from 60´s / 70´s (Davis, Coltrane, Sun Ra) and 90´s Jan Garbarek.
Michal: As I’m mainly into black and death metal bands, I can say the records I am listening this year the most are for example: Cénotaphe, Jordablod, Biesy, Phaleg, Ulcerate, Oranssi Pazuzu or Somniate. Outside of black metal I can mention mainly new Adaestuo (even though the black metal essence is clearly present) or Thy Catafalque. And yes, Ing. Kralik mentioned by Štěpán is also absolutely awesome!
Martin: I like a lot of artists Štěpán and Michal mentioned, special shout out to the new Imperial Triumphant record, which is a record of the year for me so far. I think my inspiration is rooted in the stuff I listened to when I was a teenager, when I was especially inspired by the way how certain people (Czral, Vicotnik, von Jakhelln, Ihsahn, Snorre Ruch and others) changed the direction of this kind of music.
Jan: Apart from black metal, I’ve spent quite a lot of time listening to RIO and avant-prog bands such as National Health, Nebelnest, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Magma etc. And it’s surely influenced my how I “do” music – not necessarily in terms of style but rather in terms of conveying atmosphere, emotions and whatnot. I’m mentioning it since it may not be that obvious from my guitarwork in Voluptas, but it’s there somewhere, I’m sure. I am also a renowned fan of the Czech musician Necrocock, whom I deeply admire for his unique, perfectly authentic and brilliantly fetishistic take on atmospheric music.
14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Voluptas: Thanks for being interested in Voluptas, we appreciate it! In case you are curious about what’s new with Voluptas, feel free to follow us at our bandcamp or facebook profiles – we hope to release some new music soon and once (if) this madness is ever over, there should also be a chance to see us live someday.