“If a voice could summon forth a wraith from the mouth of a corpse ravaged by frost, it would be Vøidwomb’s, debut EP, “Altars of Cosmic Devotion”. Justin painted quite a picture with his review about the one and only release of Vøidwomb from Portugal. And although elements of Black, Death and Doom are there, the band prefers not to use such kind of style descriptions for their music. But first things first…how it all started… (Ricardo)
Lord: First of all we would like to thank you for the invitation for this interview. About Voidwomb…we started in the very beginning of 2019 – on the first weekend of January, I think. That was the consequence of previous conversations between some of us. M.S. Void was F.S ‘friend and proposes to him to start a band. Noctvs is F.S brother, so it was very natural to invite him as well. I was a work mate of F.S and Fractal was a long time friend of mine.
We started rehearsing as a quartet but Fractal was quickly added to the band. I had some riffs of a previous project with Fractal, called Goat Cult that never came out of the garage. I decided to use those riffs in some of Voidwomb songs. So it was ethically mandatory to invite him to do part of this.
Everything flows very naturally, and M.S took care of the imagery and concept of the band while we took care of the instrumental part. At the time he was very into Ancient Civilizations like Sumer, the Akkadian Empire and Babylonian myths and also Ancient Aliens theories. So, he wrote about that and “Altars of Cosmic Devotion” was born.
F.S: We don’t architect our sound with preconceived ideas – “Let´s do a Black metal band or a Death Metal band, or this or that ”. Of course it is impossible to put our influences aside, but we always try to put something from our own identity on Voidwomb music. We like a vast variety of music. Not only extreme metal or metal at all runs through our veins. Every and each type of music we like is channeled to create our own music. Of course bands like Belphegor, Shining, Bolzer, Mgla, Inquisition, Morbid Angel, Primordial, Dissection are an important part of us as musicians. But other bands from different styles as well.
We want our sound to always be as dark as possible. We don’t want to lose the gloomy atmosphere of Voidwomb. Being extreme and brutal is not the only way to demonstrate that.
Lord stated in an interview; “We are usually associated with Blackened Death Metal, and although we don’t like to label our style of music we think that description fits well with our work”. Why don’t you prefer to label your music in a certain category, does it limit you as an artist? Or does a category make sure some won’t check it out beforehand?
M.S Void: We humans have the habit of labelling everything. In music I think it is a little bit limiting to do such a thing. And…yes – I think it limits us as music creators. Label music is like to put boundaries on something that should not be confined to just one thing. Music is a vibration. Creating music is something that should not be a static act…! Do all of us hear a certain type of music depending on our state of mind and mood at certain moments of our life? Isn’t it? If we do that as listeners, why not do that as musicians also. We create music as our state of mind dictates at a certain moment of our lives. Doing that makes everything flow easier and more truthful with ourselves. Music is about freedom of will and not about limits and boundaries. Is exactly the opposite.
Voidwomb will never be the same from time to time. From one release to the other. And it will happen exactly because of that. We can play death metal now and tomorrow play a more doomy or a more black metal style. The important thing is doing what we like and what our will demands.
Before we start on your own music, in your opinion which historical release or releases absolutely defines the genre you’re playing?
M.S Void: Nowadays it is very hard to create something new. Despite that, from time to time you have bands trying to give a fresh approach to old rudiments of a certain musical style. I prefer to talk about bands rather than talk about their releases. A few years ago you had Inquisition. They started as a thrash metal band, back in Colombia, but then they created their own Black Metal style. Their music is unique and their cosmic themed lyrics are something that we really like. More recently you had Bolzer. They make such a great sound. When I listen to them all of my body reacts immediately. Is very vibrational and transcendent. The same thing happens in Mgla music as well. In a more brutal way, Blood Incantation also delivers a very good and interesting and unique way of doing Death Metal. And well, that’s what moves us. Try to do the same as them. Embracing the pillars of Black Metal and Death Metal and shaking them to create something of our own.
Let’s talk about your EP; “Altars of Cosmic Devotion”, which was released on CD, cassette & 12″ Vinyl released by Iron Bonehead Productions, Gruesome Records & Sunshine Ward Recordings…
Fractal: Well, it took a little time to compose the whole EP actually. We did a few rehearsals in 2019 and we wrote the music and lyrics but due to personal and professional issues we were only able to record it in the summer of 2020. We did it with our friend João at Estúdio55 in Guimarães, Portugal. João is a very good producer, very good friend and he is also a musician. He and Noctvs are bandmates in Koltum,, a Black Metal band. So…he was an obvious choice and everything went very well. It was very easy to work with him and he capted what we wanted right away. We recorded in a few days and in a blink of an eye we were ready to send our debut to thousands of labels all over the world.
About the artwork, we made contact with Daniel Hermosilla (NOX FRAGOR ART) from Chile, he is an artist and also a musician. He has a very nice metal band called Cenotafio – You should check it out. It’s heavy and obscure. We have seen the cover art of one of the releases of the italian band Cosmic Putrefaction and it completely amazed us. So we decided to search for the artist who made it and That’s how we found Daniel. We told that it was a conceptual album, talking about Sumer and Babylon and their cosmogony and other myths of those civilizations and he was a fan of the subject also. He made the artwork and we loved it. The front cover depicts a top of a Ziggurat if you didn’t notice.
Both artwork and production of the release were praised on all reviews. That’s how we know that we made the right thing, choosing those guys to work with. The feedback has been fantastic from the start and it makes us want to go further.
F.S: M.S Void is responsible for the lyrics. He is completely fascinated with metaphysical subjects and history, psychology,ancient religions, occultism and mysticism, anthropology, conspiracy theories and stuff like that. Before we started the band he already had these themes going around his mind. “Altars of Cosmic Devotion” talks about ancient civilizations from Mesopotamia – Sumer, Babylon or the Akkadian Empire. Talks about mythology like “Summon of Utu- Shamash”. Utu and Shamash are the same name for just one deity. The God of the Sun, who was the provider of light and justice. or “Descent To Ersetu” . On “Descent To Ersetu” Goddess Inanna/Ishtar descends to the underworld to save is fiancé, Dumuzi from the hands of the Queen of the underworld Erishkigal. The “ Architects of World Demise” is an approach to the Ancient Aliens theory. Beings from outer space who created the human race and that will come back in a near future to wipe out us. They are the architects of creation and also the architects of our obliteration. For last, the presentation single “Altars of Cosmic Devotion” talks about the misconception and illusion we live in. About who we are, where we came from and where we are going. The truth is out there. We must seek it. The answer is above our heads. On the stars.
Usually we compose the instrumental part and then when it is all set he starts to write the lyrics. He reads a lot and watches documentaries about that kind of stuff.
Lyrics are a very important part of our work. Music and the lyrics are both the body and soul of our art. Together they give a homogenous appearance to that body and soul. They work as one and only force.
How did you get in contact with the labels Iron Bonehead Productions, Gruesome Records & Sunshine Ward Recordings to release the EP?
Noctvs: We send a lot of emails for hundreds (not joking) of labels and distributors. We had a lot of labels interested in our work. We were already familiar with the Iron Bonehead roster and work. We sent an email to them but honestly we never thought that PK would be interested. When he answered our email saying that wanted to work with us…we didn’t think twice. We accepted his offer automatically. It was a very professional relationship from the beginning.Unfortunately his offer didn´t include the release of a cassette edition, and we always wanted to release “Altars…” in tape format. So we started to search for other labels to fill that void and we found a new label from our home country, Portugal – Gruesome Records! We contacted Nuno and Álvaro and the deal was closed in a blink of an eye. Voidwomb was one of the first bands on Gruesome roster. In just one year the label grew a lot and now is one of the most important labels in Portugal! A few weeks later Sunshine Ward Recordings answered our email positively but we already have an agreement with Gruesome, but we talked with both labels and everything was agreed. The agreement with SWR allowed us to reach another important market. The North-American.
Within your discography you have both cassette and vinyl as formats as well. Is that important to you? What do both formats mean to you, as a recording artist but also as a collector?
Noctvs: When we made the deal with Iron Bonehead Productions, Patrick (IBP Headmaster) said very clearly that is going to release only vinyl and cd. But we always had the desire to release it on tape. The importance of this kind of format on the underground scene is undeniable. The bounds between the “tape trading” days and the growth of heavy metal is impossible to ignore. All of us are too young to remember those days but we are completely aware of it. It’s our way of paying homage to those days and to that historical format. How could we be fans of old school death metal and don’t release our work in cassette format?
Fractal: I think we can unveil a little bit of what we are doing. At this very moment we are in the first stages of recording our next release. We just entered the studio a few days ago. As it was said previously, Voidwomb creational act is always in constant mutation. Will this release be different from the previous one? Hmmm…possibly! But let’s wait to reveal that. It is too early to go deeper on this subject. The important thing is that the band is healthy, producing and thirsty to achieve new goals. If the pandemia slows down we want to do “all-in” this year of 2022. A new release, more shows abroad and keep doing what we love. We want to keep growing as a band and as musicians.
If my information is correct, you aren’t (actively) involved with other acts and/or projects at the moment. Is this correct? Any plans maybe…to start a project or band…or joining another act?
Lord: Some of us are involved in other projects, yes. Noctvs is the new drummer for our mates Vircator. An experimental and post-rock/metal act also from our hometown Viana do Castelo. He is also the drummer for the Black Metal bands Koltum and Sethirra but both bands are in unknown status at the moment. M.S Void and F.S have a noisecore project called BadxTripxNoise along with our friend Céd fom Gorgasmico Pornoblastoma, Drenagem and Insolência. Céd is the headmaster of Enfermo Distro and collaborator of Murder Records. A label curiously based in The Netherlands. But despite this I assure you that Voidwomb is our priority.
Are you involved in any other way in the music scene? Maybe as an illustrator, writing reviews for a zine, having a studio or working at one…or something else?
Fractal: I’m a member of Steel Warriors Rebellion (SWR Metalfest), the most renowned underground festival in Portugal. The festival it’s on the 23rd edition but due to this pandemia this edition is being consecutively porstmoned since 2019. Bands like Mgla, Autopsy, Revenge, Hideous Divinity and Deathammer, are among our line. Bands like Kreator, Bolt Thrower, Venom, Napalm Death, Pentagram, Angel Witch, Immortal, Vomitory or Brujeria among others played at the festival in previous years. My father and the festival promoters are long time friends (they had a band in the past called Goldenpyre). So, I´m a son of the festival. I remember as a child, to see great concerts and to take pictures side by side with amazing bands. I´m also part of the Soundville staff. The promoters are mostly the same as SWR but the festival is more ecletical and not so heavy. M.S Void and F.S also work in show promotion but on a smaller scale. They organize a few shows from time to time. I think they are thinking about taking that task more seriously in the near future. They talk a lot about that recently. Let’s wait…
Are there any bands or albums of your recent playlist you would like to mention? A rediscovery, an overlooked gem or an unsigned demo band that deserves attention? Any other bands of your region of Portugal that are worth mentioning and to check out for our readers?
M.S Void: Today you have dozens of new bands releasing material every day. It’s impossible to follow everything. On my daily playlist I have great bands. Some of them are new, others not so much. While I’m writing this down I’m listening to 2018 “Ex Nihilo ” album from the Czech band Dephts Above from. It was an independent release. I also listen to the Brazilian Black/Death metal band Trance of the Undead and Fossilization, also from Brazil with guys from Jupiterian. Nigredo from Greece with guys from Ravencult and Embrace of Thorns. I don´t know. So many bands. Cenotafio from Chile, raw black metal Vevstol from Norway. Serpents Athirst from Sri Lanka…many many things!
Portugal underground is also growing stronger with new bands appearing. Fustilarian is amazing, Phenocryst is awesome, The Devouring Void, Tvmvlo, Existence:void, Wintermoonshade, Sepulcros, Summon, Archaic Tomb, Law of Contagion, Necro Chaos, Bas Rotten and so on and so on. Few days ago I discovered a new portuguese release – “Maze of Time” from Phreneticis, with members of Neuropsy and Inhuman Architects. It’s very well played Progressive Death Metal. They are certainly fans of Chuck Shuldiner legacy. Listen to it and you will understand. They are an independent band at the moment. Check it out.
Also do you have favourite labels you always keep an eye on when they announce a new release? Or a favourite illustrator / cover artist? Any favourite printed / online zines…
Noctvs: As music fans we always loved the Iron Bonehead Releases. Of course there are others. I, Voidhanger, Transcending Obscurity, Hells Headbangers Records, Nuclear War Now! Lost Apparitions etc. In Portugal we have Helldprod, Gruesome Records, Larvae, Caverna Abysmal and Black Gangrene, both very respectful labels concerning the Raw Black metal scene Worldwide. The Portuguese Raw Black Metal scene is one of the best.
We obviously follow the work of underground illustrators. Obviously Nox Fragor Art, who made our artwork, Portuguese Nuno Zuki from Belial Necroarts and member of Summon, Archaic Tomb, Sepulcros and Phenocryst are some of our favorites. Zizi Amri from Malaysia, who made our t-shirts design is also very good. Zizi also runs a zine called League of Khaos. Other zines we like is The Black Planet zine, from our home country, and Revelações Abissais from Brazil is also quite good.
Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts? Is there something I’ve forgotten to ask you which you would like to mention? Thanks for your time!
M.S Void: One more time, thank you for this interview. Keep going with the good work with VM Underground Zine. It’s a very important way to show the passion for music and support the underground.
This year of 2022 is going to be a crucial year for Voidwomb. As we said we are recording our next release, we already have some shows scheduled and we want to go a step further. An european tour is also on the horizon, to promote our next work. Maybe we will meet you in your home country, perhaps. Who knows.
Last but not least we want to drop a word of respect and care for all the people who need the musical underground scene to live. Is very difficult especially because our kind of music is not a millionaire business as the mainstream. l We have to support each other. Go to the shows; buy bands merch; ; buy their music; support your local scene; Share it on social media. Spread the word. It helps a lot, believe me. The light at the end of the tunnel is right there. We are always together to do what we love. Cheers and thank you! It was a pleasure. \m/