Nico - Aklash are an atmospheric black metal band. Whilst we maintain and adhere to the fundamental principles of the genre, we try and push its creative boundaries melodically and thematically. We explore a range of topics lyrically, with increasing sophistication as our music has progressed.
2. How would you describe the musical sound that has been presented on the recordings that you have released so far?
Nico - Atmospheric and melodic with refined approaches to structure and thematic progression. We have been compared to a wide range of contrasting bands but we have never tried to emulate anyone else’s creative expression, however, we all wear our influences on our sleeves, but attempt to retain an original approach to the genre.
3. The band has been around since 2011 but so far has only released 2 albums, can you tell us a little bit more about the long wait in between recordings?
Nico - The nature of our locations, Brighton and Reading has meant rehearsal and writing has been challenging. Additionally, we are all professional musicians to some degree trying to hold down jobs and progress our lives, this is not always congruent with the music we are associated with.
In regards to the album, we wanted to not cut any corners and make something we could be truly proud of. It took as long as it took. No apology. We learnt to record ourselves with our initial self-titled album, the quality of which is therefore lacking. We didn’t want to compromise our art with the second album so people could access and appreciate the sonority of what we were creating.
4. Some of your lyrics cover 'Heathenism' and Spirituality' can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in those topics?
NICO – Spirituality is something that has been ever present in my life, Black metal simply provides me an appropriate canvas for my rhetoric. The initial albums lyrics where conceived and written whilst I was living in a tent in Cornwall. I was very connected to the earth and the sea and the lyrics reflect this.
I never wished to subscribe to the stereotypical dark imagery associated with black metal, but instead provide a new perspective to the idioms and concepts ingrained into the genre.
I have since attempted to emulate this in my libretto. However I have since developed this direction whilst still revering our roots talking more mature topics and philosophies.
5. You also have had a track that dealt with Lucifer and the Left hand Path, do you also have an interest in the dark arts?
Nico - They are one and the same, all your devils where once pagan kings and queens. Simply whitewashed and repurposed by Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Lucifer; “the light bringer”, what an exceptional inspirational figure for enlightenment and self-actualization. Likewise, the left hand path, to follow the road less travelled, to find one’s own road in life and depart from the socially accepted norms, forming one’s own opinion! What can be more empowering? Selfism & Satanism; one and the same.
Chris – In reference to this and the above question, I personally believe that I am God within my own universe. The human mind is more powerful than many realize, and people have greater control over their circumstances and “destiny” than they might know. People have a habit of building their own cages, sometimes admittedly with assistance from others. Avoiding all this may be easier said than done, but strength is born out of pain and without pain, you don’t have the potential to grow. Our society is a false mechanism, a human construct that exists to shelter us from our true natures. This society is currently terminally ill, and its collapse is no longer a matter of if, but when. But it must die in order to be born again. There are near-infinite possible realities and outcomes in all aspects of our lives. To tread one’s own path, as mentioned above, should be a man’s primary objective. Society’s norms and expectations are irrelevant, outside of being a system to be exploited in my eyes. Self-actualize, whatever that may mean for you! I live my life for me, and those I care about and I try to avoid doing any damage to those individuals as much as possible. In a way it’s like Satanism, without the goofy devil worship. That’s my spirituality.
6.What are some of the other lyrical topics and subjects you explore with the music?
Nico - The new album deals predominantly with the duality between acceptance and ambition, the subjectivity of good and evil. This is done mainly through the anthropomorphism of the natural world and poetic dissections of commonly held ideals. The lyrics took literally years to finalize, however the inspiration remained the same throughout the writing process. The horizon on the Sussex coast, which I would walk along daily, I a foreigner to these shores, could look out at the infinite horizon, yearning to strive for its limits, yet no matter how I chased it, it would remain ever illusive…
7.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Aklash'?
Inspired by our forefathers, Burzum, Darkthrone, Gorgoroth, we decided to likewise draw a name from Tolkien. Aklash simply means “music” in the black tongue or orcish.
The name seemed to arrive to us without any strained searching, we did not dwell on it for too long, and it has served us well. Likewise it embellished our true purpose, after all, the music is the most integral part of what we do.
8.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Chris - Performance wise, we don't have a "stage show" or wear corpse paint or anything. That stuff has a time and a place but I think it would be hackneyed and insincere if we did it. We wouldn't suit that kind of theatrical method of doing things, where you put on makeup and become a character. An alternative (non-Western) viewpoint that I much prefer is the use of masks and theatricals to express facets from within, as opposed to taking on external characteristics. That would be more like us, but practically speaking it's still not something we'd ever really do. We like to have lots of atmospheric lighting and when possible, lots of dry ice. I find nothing quite helps you lose yourself (or is that find yourself?) in a performance like a shit load of fog.
I wouldn't really pick a "favourite" performance as I think each performance should be unique to the collective state of the artists and audience at that moment. We're a conduit for a shared energy between ourselves and an audience. Sure ensemble playing is all about being tight, but I get so bored with seeing bands just replicate their records note-for-note live. With Aklash, the live and studio incarnations should be considered the left and right hands of what we do. We've developed certain songs and sections naturally in a live setting that are different to the CD. For me this is a very positive thing, and you can tell that audiences feel it too.
9.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
Chris - We're playing at Incineration Festival (London) in May. As of this moment there's not much else set in stone yet. I hope this year we'll get over to the mainland and do some European shows in places like Poland, Holland and the Czech Republic. We have much new ground to break.
10.The album was released on 'Infernum Records', how did you get in contact with this label?
Chris - They manage Vehement, who are friends of ours we've played and toured with before. We knew the label guys peripherally already. The solution of working with them seemed to make itself obvious.
11.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black metal?
Chris - It's too early to see the wider picture. But we have had some promising responses so far. The North of England seems to like us a lot. They’re rugged.
12.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Chris - I couldn't say for sure. I personally want it to be a lot more raw and spontaneous, and I don't think I'm alone. Something that captures the immediacy of the songs, and has more directness about it without being one-dimensional. It's a fine line between experimenting and going too far and vanishing up your own backside, and successfully treading that line is an entertaining challenge. We've got a split in the works with our friends from Wolvencrown (another UK act you should be listening to), which we intend to have out before Autumn. This material should reflect that mentality. We are also discussing doing something totally ambient, maybe an EP, as a singular distillation of that aspect of our sound. It'll be a very pure thing.
13.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on 'Aklash'?
Chris – Individually as musicians, we’re all informed by a wide variety of influences. Folk, jazz, metal, prog, goth, soundtracks and ambient etc have all come into play in our approaches in one form or another.
14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Chris – We want to thank everyone who waited patiently during the long gestation period of the album. We believe we’ve created a body of work that was worth the wait, and you can expect further in the near future. This will be our time.