1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the musical project?
Hi, Ildrac here. First of all, an astral hail to all the readers out there and to your amazing zine for this opportunity. I can tell you that Ancient Gate was born in March 2019 as a side project from my previous band, Spectral Light. Maybe some readers have heard about it, but if that's not the case, with Spectral Light we played a violent, non stop, and melodic style of black metal, influenced by the swedish and polish scene. Most of the songs were short and to the bone, no time wasted on building intricate compositions. A month before we ended that project (our drummer and co-founder left) I started to play with the idea of making music a little more elaborate and atmospheric, driven by my passion for bands of the 90's. Of course always within the boundaries (and freedoms) of black metal. I started to write songs in that vein: long, with many passages alternating between fast and slow atmospheric parts, with more than a touch of keyboards (absent from my, at the time, main band). Once Spectral Light was put on hold, I decided to go full bore with Ancient Gate, and that became my main interest. At the time of starting Ancient Gate I was listening to a lot of Blut Aus Nord (their more traditional albums such as "Memoria Vetusta", not the industrial ones), Mutiilation and Judas Iscariot, so the sound of the tracks kind of reflected on that fact. Around that time, I started to develop a serious interest in the recording/producing side of music, so I took that opportunity to enhance my skills in that area with this new project.
2.So far you have released 2 full lengths and a split, musically how do they both differ from each other?
That is correct. We have released two full lengths and a split with Wintaar. In my opinion, on our first album, "From the Shadow Lands", we were aiming for a raw sound, with much reverb on the instruments, which gave it this kind of dirty (but audible) sound. Our goal was to make it sound like something straight out of the 90's second wave. Musically it alternates between fast parts (a la Darkthrone, with a lot of tremolo picking and these Transilvanian Hunger-like riffs on many sections), and slow parts (some atmospheric with keyboards to give them this kind of spacious quality, and some others with an epic feeling as in the title track). There is even a completely mid paced song that closes the album that reflects a lot on tracks from "Fathers of the icy age" (specifically the title track from that album). When we decided to release the split "Morbid Gates of Winter" with Wintaar, we were adamant from the very beginning that it should include original tracks, previously unreleased. The two songs Ancient Gate contributed to our side of the split are kind of a continuation of our first album. Maybe with one or two touches of keyboards reminiscent of The Eye (from France). With the track "Beholding dead horizons" in particular, I wanted to make an epic and long track, that went through many moods. It was inspired by me attending a rehearsal from a local black metal band. Our second and newest album is "Empire Beyond Dusk", released this 2020. This album was written with a more vicious and fast kind of sound in mind. Almost all the tracks are non stop speed and faster than those of our previous releases. We think that it is also more melodic. Our intention was to make it as aggressive as possible, without losing atmosphere or melody. Of course, some songs (as "Forsaken Realms" or "Maze of Centuries") are more mid-paced to contrast with the fast parts and avoid boring the listener. We think that it is also more varied (and clearer) in sound that our first releases.
3.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects you have explored so far with the music?
All lyrics are written by me and I must say that I take a lot of time in writing them. I think that lyrics, when done properly, can enhance the general experience of a song/album. One band that immediately comes to mind when talking about this is Mgla. Their music is good, maybe some songs are a little on the boring side of things, but their lyrics are superb and exquisitely written and they make the songs all the more enjoyable. My intention with our lyrics is precisely that, to immerse the listener in the music we are producing. One thing I despise is lyrics like those of Dark Funeral or Enthroned (and countless other clones) that have nothing to say and shout "Praise hail Satan" in every goddamn song, so we wanted to distance ourselves from that stuff. I want our lyrics to be kind of self contained tales. Our subjects range from old stories of crumbling kingdoms ("The spires of Alcorath"), the regaining of that which was lost ("Through paths forgotten", "Rebirth of the ancient spirit"), kingdoms of darkness ("Empire beyond dusk", "Sacrifice in the depths"), the ancient ones and astral spheres ("Journey through astral landscapes", "Maze of centuries") and everything that conjures ancient and forgotten times. Some songs even take a jab or two (in a very allegoric way) to humanity and its hypocrisy. Finally, some of the lyrics are inspired by literature and various books. I want to keep Ancient Gate away from childish or political themes.
4.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Ancient Gate'?
The name Ancient Gate is closely tied to our lyrical content. It was intended to be a gateway to forgotten and old ages. Besides it was one of the names I had in mind when starting the project.
5.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?
The artwork for "Empire Beyond Dusk" was done by a close friend of our band, Danny ArtMetal Agressus (www.facebook.com/DannyArtMetalAgressuss/). He is an experienced artist in the painting field and has done amazing artwork for local bands. After we released our first album, I wanted to have original art for the next album. And I am a big fan of painted artworks in the vein of Kris Verwimp (who did the cover art for Marduk, Enthroned, Absu and many others). So, with that in mind, I got in touch with Danny and he was more than pleased to work with us as he liked our music. The art itself is meant to represent the kingdom beyond nightfall that gives our album its title, with the tyrant beholding the dark empire. I must say that we are very, very satisfied with the way it turned out and we are going to work with him on our next releases.
6.On the first recordings you did everything by yourself but with the new album you expanded into a duo, can you tell us a little bit more about adding in another member?
That is correct. At first, Ancient Gate was my one-man project, so I saw no need for other members. I gotta remind you that, like I said previously, I was playing in another band at that time, and Ancient Gate was a much more personal thing. I have played music since my teens (I'm 34 right now) so I had more than a lot of time to learn how to play guitars, bass, keyboards, and programm drums. I also do vocals so I didn't need anyone else to get my music done. Another thing is that, when you play with other people, decisions are taken with consent from every member of the band, so, maybe some particular ideas that you have concerning musical direction are not shared by the other members and you have to concede. I didn't have to deal with that with Ancient Gate. After the release of "From the Shadow Lands" I noticed the need to have someone taking care of the drums, as they take a lot of time to do. So the stars aligned and we found E.Neros amid the process of writing material for our second album. Even though I wrote every song, he contributed some arrangements ideas and gave the band a more furious pace. He is now a permanent member of Ancient Gate. Even though I still take care of the recording and producing side of the project.
7.You have also done some covers from 'Judas Iscariot' and 'The Eye' what was the decision behind doing your own versions of their songs?
I think the reason most musicians tend to play covers is to show where their roots and influences are. It is no different with Ancient Gate. We like the work of Judas Iscariot. Maybe not the first couple of albums (from "The cold earth slept below" to "Distant in solitary night" only a handful of songs are really good) but from "Heaven in Flames" onwards, they became a solid band. In fact the track we choose to record is from that very same album. About The Eye, our goal was more or less the same. To show our appreciation of such band and Vindsval in particular (the man behind The Eye). To be honest, I have the deepest respect for all the projects this man has taken part of, be it Blut Aus Nord, The Eye or Children Of Maani. In fact, we almost recorded a song by Children Of Maani instead of "My Supremacy", but as you may know, lyrics are nowhere to be found. That made us decide on covering "My supremacy" by The Eye.
8.In 2019 you were also a part of a split with 'Wintaar', what are your thoughts on the other musical project that had participated on the recording?
It was the man behind Wintaar that first got in touch with me with the idea of releasing a split album together. It was a couple of days after the release of "From the Shadow Lands". I gotta admit that I wasn't particularly familiar with Wintaar before he got in contact with me for the split, but once I did hear his albums, I realized it was a great project. I admire bands that can release albums with slight variations in sound and that strive to be as original as possible. Wintaar is one of those bands. Every album differs from the last. I'm also surprised by the number of releases the project has every year. It's like the guy lives and breathes music.
9.According to the Metal Archives page you are signed to 'Hessian Form', can you tell us a little bit more about this label?
Yes, that's right. It actually is "Hessian Firm". Once we released our second album on Bandcamp, I started to search for labels interested in our music to, hopefully, release our sophomore album. We got a couple of people interested but we wanted to work with the ones that had passion for metal as we do. Hessian Firm are those people. Even though they are a relatively new label, they strive to get the best bands and releases as possible. From their roster, I really like Despondent Soul, a superb death metal band. And the guys at Hessian Firm are super easy to work with, which is an obvious plus. Another thing we liked is that the owners are from different countries, so that can (hopefully) make our music known abroad. They are soon going to release our newest album "Empire Beyond Dusk" in physical format, so we are very happy to work with them. You can buy their products here https://hessianfirm.bigcartel.com/?fbclid=IwAR1vcj7FsJZZX64xvM6KQvzRgzrsp0c55KmP6tYlpBTgl2pziK3MGI4LkFc.
10.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of black metal?
I think it has been great. We got reviews by people that really like our music. Fans from other countries (Usa, Brazil, Chile, Finland) have shown appreciation for our songs. We have got fans from countries so far away that ask for our material, and that makes us smile when we think about it. I think that black metal fans can see reflected in our music the influences of bands that were so important for the genre. Recently the guys at "The Terminus" Extreme Metal podcast did a review of our newest album on their show. A lot of zines have also shown interest and featured our band. So we can't complain at all (hehe).
11.Where do you see yourself heading into as a musician during the future?
I think that, being a man who has listened to heavy metal in every variant and color for the best part of his life, my musical direction will be forever tied to this genre we all worship. I like other kinds of music, of course, but nothing touches my soul the same way that heavy metal does. Black metal in particular. I think that black metal represents the ultimate form of musical rebellion. And, contrary to genres such as thrash or speed metal, it keeps on growing and producing different variants every year. Just take a listen at all the dissonant sounding bands, to the atmospheric ones, to the ones that mix black metal with outside influences. It is a genre that will never cease to amaze.
12.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?
As I said previously, the bands that played a large role in my musical path are Blut Aus Nord, Judas Iscariot, Abigor, Darkthrone, Immortal, Marduk, Sacramentum, Dissection, Mutiilation or Celtic Frost. Those ones regarding the black metal influence. Aside from those bands I really like Metallica (old), Sepultura (old), Testament, Death, Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Desultory, Demilich, Dio and Ahab. I tend to listen to music from years past and I must say I'm kind of lazy in regards to discovering new bands at this time and age. What I have been listening to a lot lately is "Storm of the light's bane", the Dissection classic. Also, "From the abyss" by Drowning the Light. In fact that is one band I discovered in recent months.
13.Does Occultism play any role in your music?
Not necessarily. I admit that some of the lyrical content bears some kind of relation to occultism, and I find the subject very appealing. But it is not a big influence. At least not an explicit and conscious one. I remember as a kid reading some books on the matter that were owned by my grand-mother and always found it to be interesting. The funny thing is that my oldest daughter is now interested in the matter and we have recurrent talks about the occult.
14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Well, it was a blast. First and foremost, I have to thank you and your zine for your interest and appreciation. We are currently on the writing process for our next release, to be entitled "Forgotten Dark Age". We haven't decided yet on the length, if it will be an EP or a full-length album. But the songs are going to be much different from "Empire Beyond Dusk", with a lot of atmosphere and slower tempos. We want to make every release as different as possible and explore new paths with our music (of course within the boundaries of black metal). If anyone is interested, they can find our music on Bandcamp (https://ancientgate.bandcamp.com/). Support Extreme Metal! Hail Vinterland! And await for the Ancient Ones to take back this world in chaos and flames!