1. For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
Greetings, and thanks for the interview! Burial Shrine is a black metal band from Vancouver, Canada. We formed in early 2014, and are comprised of members RW, EH, and CXM. This interview is being answered by the songwriter and lyricist of the band. My identity, and the instrumental roles of myself and the other full members are of no relevance. We formed the band with the intention of playing hard and furiously. This is exactly what we do. Burial Shrine plays Satanic black metal exclusively.
2. You have your first full length coming out in September. Can you tell us a little bit more about the musical style you went for on this recording?
It would be foolish to call our style anything other than black metal. And within that label, I would not view it as anything too unique per se. Tremolo picked guitars and blastbeats are the most common elements, and the sound is raw and abrasive. I think that most listeners will hear some nods to the western Canadian lineage of black metal, in bands like Conqueror and Blasphemy. However we tread our own path, and our overall sound is quite different. We play with a lot of melody as well, which brings some dynamics to bear. It is this back and forth between aggression/brutality and more melodic/meditative moments which ended up becoming the style on this record. In the end, we gave this everything we had, and I believe that the energy and intensity shines through the recording.
3. I have read that it took 4 years to write and complete the album. Can you tell us a little bit more about the process?
Indeed, its been a long run. RW and I had worked on previous projects together, but I wanted to do something more aggressive than those. As did CXM. This is where Burial Shrine comes in. Initially the project had this aggressive stylistic restraint on it. I actually wrote around 5 songs fairly quickly for the project from winter to spring 2014. I remember that we eventually recorded some scratch guitars and drums for them, but things moved slowly - I was living in another city at that time. Then hard drives died, rough demos were lost, and the project sat in limbo. This ended up being the best thing that could have happened.
A lot of living was done during the following years. I would occasionally work on the songs, tightening them up, but they remained largely the same. As time went on I grew a lot, and the songs began to feel juvenile and dishonest to where I was at that point. It wasn't until the spring of 2017 that I decided to remove all the stylistic restraints around the project, which was a very freeing thing to do. I then rewrote and reworked much of the material. A lot of the riffs and song structures remained the same, but many new parts were added as well. Some songs were discarded completely, and new songs were fully written in their place. The remains began to feel a lot more honest and personal to me, and they became much more representative of my own voice rather than trying to copy someone else's. They actually ended up being more aggressive than they would have been originally, interestingly enough.
The final breakthrough came when I killed off my other project. I had lost steam on it, although I thought the songs were very good. Those unused songs were written during the same years as Burial Shrine, and I began to see that they belonged to a singular vision. There was no need to separate my musical personalities anymore - the more melodic and the more aggressive. It was when I combined the two and reworked the other songs to fit into the Burial Shrine frame that things really began to feel finished.
4.Can you tell us a little bit more about the lyrical topics you have explored on the album?
The lyrics on this album are quite personal. They deal with man's quest for truth in this dark age which often seems to be doing everything it can to obscure and bury it. They deal with conviction regarding the paths I walk, perseverance through struggle and suffering, as well as self-reflection and discovery. This results in coming to terms with the divine, finding wisdom in darkness, and strength in the guiding hand of Satan - the adversary. Of course the lyrics are often quite dark, but this is not their main focus. The focus lies in the endurance and the striving of the heart after spiritual ascension, which - as we see in the lyrics to the final track written by Johannes Nefastos - may not actually bring the comfort we seek.
5.One of the tracks has lyrics written by Johannes Nefastos. Can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in the anti-cosmic, left hand path, satanic and occult arts?
Indeed. The writings of Johannes have been very inspiring to me and play a large part in my personal path. I reached out to him to see if he would be interested in contributing, and to my surprise and great gratitude, he was. It was an honor to have him write the words to the final song on the album. As to your question - I have no interest in being much of a spokesperson for the occult. I prefer to keep my views private and among those close to me, through more appropriate avenues than a band interview. I am a student, and not a very good one at that - and my views are ever evolving, but I will do my best to answer you very briefly. Here I speak only for myself, as other members of the band are free to hold their own beliefs.
I do not relate much to an anti-cosmic philosophy. Of course it is easy to feel hopeless regarding the current state of mankind & the world/universe at large, and to wish for the end of all. I often do myself. But these are emotions. Practically, to seek to bring about this end through violence and force, to strive towards destruction, can only bring about further suffering, both for the anti-cosmicist as well as others. I believe the "end" must come about naturally, as it will, thus beginning the cycle anew. I believe that release from the bonds of this world can only come about through serious spiritual work, striving and ascension - not through the violence and destruction of an anti-cosmic philosophy. I actually played with this a little bit in the lyrics of "To Scorch The Earth", which is full of apocalyptic visions of destruction. But the key to that song lies in the phrase "Igne Natura Renovatur Integra" (through fire shall nature be reborn whole). This phrase obviously fits into the theme of the song literally, but also esoterically in its alchemical meaning - fire being representative of the spirit and fire in our hearts.
I am a pantheist first and foremost, deriving from my love of nature and its beauty. This eventually led me to hold an occult world-view. I also identify as a Satanist and left-hand path practitioner. This is the path that ended up making the most sense to me, arrived at from lived experience. However, I believe that the left-hand path's focus on individual freedom and the Self is missing a piece of the puzzle. Value can be found in the right-hand as well, with its focus on "the other". The two paths can be walked as one. This is something I am striving towards and am still in the learning stages of.
There is much more to say on these matters, but I will let our music and lyrics speak for themselves from here on out. I don't think anyone should put too much stock in my words. Obviously my answers are very simplified for these large subjects. If these topics are of interest, there are many books and avenues of exploration to follow. The reader should come to their own conclusions, from personal experience and study of those much more learned than I.
6.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Burial Shrine'?
Quite literally, the name stands for a shrine to the dead. It could be a grave. For me personally, as time has gone on, it has come to represent a shrine to the dead aspects of myself that have fallen away and will continue to do so as I move forward along my path. Another way to interpret the name is to see our music as a shrine, an offering to this dying world. One can take from the name what one will. Of course, the shadow of the reaper hovers above our logo, which is of relevance as well.
7.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the album cover?
The logo and the artwork of the album were created by my good friend Casper Macabre. We wanted to keep the album cover simple. The sigil on the cover was created by RW, sometime in 2011 I think. It is comprised of an inverted cross, with an equal armed cross running through it. The sigil seems to have the ability to mean different things to us at different times, and it is thus ever-evolving. Its meanings must be kept among the band members, but it remains a powerful point of focus for us. Thus it was the perfect centerpiece for the album. In this instance it was artistically rendered to be made of bridges, obviously due to the title of the album and the lyrics of Johannes.
8.In the one picture I saw of the band members you were in masks, and very little information is provided on the websites. Do you prefer to keep your identity a secret?
We do. It is our hope that the music and lyrics speak to each listener according to their own perception and experience. We do not believe that interpreting this particular work through the lens of the makers' identities offers any substantive or authoritative interpretation of it.
9. Has the band ever done any live shows, or would you be open to playing them?
At this point, the band has never played live. There are currently a lot of logistical difficulties surrounding this. Were I able to assemble a feasible live line-up with the right people, I would be open to the idea. But should this happen, it would be far off in the future.
10. On the album you also had a few guests. Can you tell us a little bit more about who they are and also their contributions to the recording?
As we were recording - actually once the drums, all the rhythm guitars and vocals were done - there were still a few sections of the album that felt like they needed some fleshing out. I had toyed with the idea of playing the bass myself, but I wanted someone who would really add something to it. CM was the obvious candidate. We worked on the songs together for a couple months, and then he was ready to record. He really added a lot of needed sanity to the album. His bass added the necessary backbone which helped to make the frantic guitars more comprehensible, as well as adding a lot of dynamic to the songs. Often his basslines would start to wander and add their own melodies. CM is a very talented musician, and I'm grateful to have him on the album.
TS added the molten leads. He is another very talented musician. When we went to record him, we just played him the parts we were thinking about adding to. He would listen through a couple of times - and one take later we would have what we needed. He did this multiple times, and never repeated himself once.
The album closes with a solo from MT. He is a good friend of mine, and I'm a fan of his work in Paths. I knew that I wanted him somewhere on the album, and his solo was the perfect way to close things off. This final song also has a violin contribution from TO'S. The repeating melody you hear was written by RW on a piano, and then transcribed by T. The higher-pitched section he plays was improvised on the spot - this is actually my favorite part of the album.
11. On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black metal that have heard it so far?
Thus far, the reaction has all been positive. The album is not yet out of course. But those who have heard it, even just the preview tracks, have almost all mentioned the energy and the intensity behind the recording. I am quite happy with this. I have no illusions about it - the album will not be for everyone. But we accomplished what we set out to do, and I think that shows.
12. Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Going forward, I hope to explore the more dynamic and free-flowing territory that I began to tap into on certain songs of this album. This will be done while maintaining the existing aggression and intensity however. I've already written a new song which achieves this. Things are still in the very early stages and will take a lot of time (hopefully not another 4 years!), but it will be interesting to see what happens. I hope to explore darker territory musically as well. This album ended up as it needed to, and I am proud of it - but the sound I'm chasing and the one that echoes in my head is much darker still. Ever deeper...
13. What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music, and also what are you listening to nowadays?
This is a difficult question. It really just comes from our love of black metal as a whole, all its various styles included. For me specifically, this album is just made up of the sounds that come naturally to me when I pick up a guitar, filtered through my limited ability with the instrument. As I mentioned above, Conqueror was absolutely an influence. If this doesn't show musically, I believe it does in energy and intent. Our own music travels a different path though. I can't really point specifically to where the melodic side of it comes from. These are just the sounds that flow out of me.
As to what I'm listening to lately, I don't find much point in sharing. Lots of old bands, lots of new bands. I believe that underground black and death metal is as potent as its ever been, but I don't find much interest in talking about it outside of my existing circles. I listen to Mahler's 2nd, or Rautavaara's 7th and 8th symphonies more than anything else these days.
14. Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thank you for the interview! And thank you to anyone who reads this, or listens to our music. Thank you to everyone who played a part in making this album happen - there are not enough words of gratitude. Labyrinth of Bridges comes out worldwide September 23rd on Saturnal Records.
Hail Sathanas! Hail Death!