Infinity - Black metal is intolerance!Some issues are left unspoken in album reviews. However, after reviewing the latest album of the Dutch black metal band Infinity, some very specific questions arose in my mind concerning their slogan 'black metal is intolerance'. Only one solution to clear this up: an interview with drummer, vocalist and founder Balgradon Xul.
Hello there. How have you been?
‘Hello. We're doing fine. We've done a few gigs lately and we're looking forward to do more gigs in the next year. We're also in search for a bass player for the coming live gigs.’
Please introduce yourself and your band for those who don’t know you.
My name is Balgradon Xul, founder of Infinity. We started back in 1995 with the formation Draconis (guitars) and Nebiros (bass) and me on drums. After several line up changes, gigs and the first demo Corvus Corax (1998) Draconis and Nebiros left the band and Infinity continued as a one-member project. In 2001 I wrote four songs in my Vortex Studio and soon after that Quasar joined the band as guitarist and recorded our first full length album, Nostalgia for the Dark Age, released through Spectral Arts Productions in 2003. Later that year Andras joined Infinity as second guitarist and we started with live gigs. In 2004 we were signed by Total Holocaust Records who released our album The Birth of Death and a year after that Enter Thy Labyrinth of Hell. In 2006 we split our ways with Quasar and Andras and me continued as a duo and recorded our fourth opus The Arcane Wisdom of Shadows. Draconis is back in Infinity and recorded the guitars for the Dissection cover Night's Blood. The Arcane Wisdom of Shadows was released through Bloodred Horizon Records on October 31st (Hallowmas) 2008.’
You released The Arcane Wisdom of Shadows on the 31st of October. How were the reactions on that album in- and outside of Holland?
‘We've got great responses. In most of the reviews we are described as a band with an intense atmosphere which reminds some people to that of the half 90's. There’s also repeatedly been said that we sound very Scandinavian. Most of the reviews are very positive and are writing about how we've grown as a band. We can only agree on that part, we made a big step forward with this album and the band.’
How do you feel the recordings of The Arcane Wisdom of Shadows went? Are you absolutely satisfied with the final result? If not, what is the aspect you would like to change about the album or maybe even about the process of recording?
‘The recordings went very good. Andras and me wrote and recorded the album with the two of us. We're very satisfied with the result, the songs, lyrics and production. We've taken all the time we needed for the production of this album. Our inspiration and concept for this album comes from an old Dutch legend of the ‘Solse Gat’ (translated: The Solse Hole). It's about a place in the middle of an ancient forest originating from the ice age where once stood a monastery inhabited by monks who sold their soul to the Devil and practiced black magic. The legend tells that on a stormy night the monastery was swallowed into the earth and since that day you find a big hole with a swamp in there. Before the recordings, Andras and I went to that place on a full moon night and experienced sinister things and we felt like we were swallowed into the ground. It has an amazing magnetic area. These places are full of energy which one can absorb. We dedicated the song The Legend Of The Sunken Monastery and the cover artwork to this concept.’
I noticed that the albums The Birth of Death (2004) and Enter Thy Labyrinth of Hell (2005) have both been released through Total Holocaust Records. However, The Arcane Wisdom of Shadows has been released through Bloodred Horizon Records. Any particular reasons why you decided to change labels?
‘We were satisfied with the releases of The Birth Of Death and Enter Thy Labyrinth of Hell, but we have to say that the promotional work could be much better. Another reason is that labelmanager Håkan Johansson had some 'burn-outs' and wasn't very active anymore and also out of money. Jens of Bloodred Horizon Records is doing a great job. He has done a lot of promotional work up to now. Another great thing is that the distribution is also very good. Twilight Vertrieb is the distribution partner of Bloodred Horizon Records and our albums are now not only available in Europe, but also in USA and Japan.’
What would you say is the most evident musical difference between The Labyrinth of Hell and The Arcane Wisdom of Shadows?
‘The music is a bit more melodic and structured in comparison to the older albums. Andras and I are playing both different lead guitar riffs at the same time. We still use the acoustic guitar parts, dark ambient intro's and samples in the songs. It is again recorded in Vortex Studio by me and mastered by Hellchrist Xul in Necromanteion Studios.’
Infinity was formed in 1995. I can only imagine a lot has happened between then and now. What has been the most striking transition for Infinity since its formation?
‘Because of the different line up changes and live gigs we've grown as a band. When Quasar left the band, Andras and I became very close on both a personal and a musical level, so the communication with the songwriting went very good. The lyrics are also much deeper and more developed.’
What is the biggest inspiration for Infinity? Which influences are important? If you had to describe your own band, with which bands would you compare it?
‘The biggest inspirations are mostly intense inner emotions such as the hunger for the occult, hate, melancholy, mysticism, madness. These inspirations are also based upon personal experiences within the underworld. I think we can describe our style with bands as old Immortal, Darkthrone, Dark Funeral Dissection and perhaps Marduk. These bands were also an inspiration for us since the beginning.’
There are not that many live bands who have a vocalist that play drums at the same time. Why did you choose to let Balgradon Xul drum as well as sing?
‘Infinity was my one-member project for a while and the lyrics that I write are very personal, so therefore I choose to do the vocals and drums together on stage.’
I didn’t elaborate on the subject in the album review, because that was the time nor the place. Nevertheless, I bet some people wonder what the history is of and why you feel the need to promote the slogan ‘black metal is intolerance’.
‘‘Black Metal Is Intolerance’ is a statement that describes our feeling about what black metal stands for. For us it's a way of life and it goes far beyond just music. It’s the inner black flame of Lucifer, the eternal hunger for the ultimate freedom. Unlimited chaos! It's about our hate against this world, full of sheep minded humans. Most of the people are living in their self created mental prisons, blindly following religious dogmas and laws, denying their true spiritual side.’
Perhaps in addition to the question above: how do you feel about the scene nowadays? It’s almost ordinary for black metal bands to piss on other bands, due to differences in perspective but also due to the bad performance of some bands. Do you think that there are a lot of low quality bands? What kind of impact do those bands have on the scene?
’Unfortunately there are a lot of bands that care only about the image and the music and don't understand a fuck of what Satanism or the occult is. Another thing is that there were some bands here in The Netherlands who described themselves as a Christian black metal band. How sick is that? Black metal is Satanic! Even worse is that most of the so called black metal bands here in Holland don't care about that. It's very hypocrite when those people/ bands have anti-Christian lyrics and are wearing Satanic symbols!’
What does the future hold for Infinity? Do you already plan on releasing a new album or maybe a tour abroad?
‘At the moment we're planning to do some live gigs and maybe a tour, but nothing is certain yet.’
For now I want to thank you for your time. If there’s anything else you would like to share, please do so!
‘Black metal is intolerance! Hail Lucifer!’