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Interview

Auynguerran – “We are opposed to any kind of dogma, be it religious, political or moral”

The black metal ensemble Auynguerran just released “Perverting the Nazarene Cult” after five long years of silence. It didn’t seem to bother the band that much – After all, they choose for quality and not for quantity, something bass player Berdunnor definitely cares about. Here are his answers about the past, the present and the future of Aguynguerran. (FilipD)

It took you five years to come up with “Perverting the Nazarene Cult“. That’s quite some time. A lot of people probably assumed the band was disbanded. What’s the story of the last five years?
It’s true that the release of the new album took a lot more time than expected. The main reason is that we wanted to take all the time needed in order to come up with the album we had in mind, with every detail worked out the way we wanted it to. Besides, Nehrim decided to leave the band for personal reasons and Jeroenymous had to quit due to hearing problems. Finding replacements for both was harder than we had thought it would be. Another reason is the busy program of the different members that are involved in other bands. But I’ve never experienced these delays as disturbing, since they gave us the opportunity to evaluate the writing process constantly. Some of the tracks on “Perverting the Nazarene Cult” are more than three years old and still we’ve found them solid enough to appear on the new album, which pleas for their decency.

The new album has been released through the Belgian Shiver Records. Shiver isn’t known for its black metal attitude and in fact Aguynguerran is the only black metal band on the roster between a shitload of death metal bands. Did Aguynguerran choose the easiest way out or what’s the reason for the cooperation?
The reasoning behind the cooperation is twofold. First of all there’s the undeniable advantage of guaranteed superb worldwide distribution, which is very important for bands like Aguynguerran that are not well known outside the country borders. From a financial point of view, other labels may have been more interesting, but that never was an issue for us. All we’re interested in is gaining name popularity and Shiver is definitely the best partner in our reach to achieve this. It’s an honest deal, bands know what to expect! However, it’s a fact that Shiver doesn’t really have a tradition in Black Metal, but they’re working on that and the releases of Iconoclasm, Panchrysia and recently Aguynguerran are the best proof.

The reactions on the new album are kind of mixed. I’ve read reviews that weren’t convinced at all while others really seem to understand the record. More important is: what do you think of Aguynguerran’s new opus?
Haha, true! The “problem” with Aguynguerran is that our music combines different styles and influences which is not always appreciated by black metal traditionalists. Aguynguerran is often compared to Enthroned and for sure, the early work of Enthroned has been an important influence for us since we grew up with these records. But Aguynguerran definitely has its own character and ideological dimension, so we take claiming that we’re just a copy of Enthroned as an insult. To be honest, I think the blame of lack of originality is quite an ironical thing in a genre bulging with rigid traditions and clichés. Everyone of you can judge for themselves. Just check out our web pages where the title song of the album can be found. But to return to your question, we can easily neglect this criticism, because we’re convinced having released a solid album. As said before, this is the album we always wanted to come up with. It is definitely the highest level we could reach for the moment and we’re very proud of the result.

The older pure satanic image has been put in other perspectives by walking the (anti-) religious path. There’s some story line or concept on “Perverting the Nazarene Cult“?
It must be stated that Aguynguerran has always walked this anti-religious path without being pure satanic. But there has been a slight shift however from the pure anti-christian image to the overall anti-dogmatic concept that can be found on the “Perverting the Nazarene Cult”-release. Aguynguerran is opposed to any kind of dogma, be it religious, political or moral, which on the same time excludes any kind of affinity with Satanism. The emphasis lies on the anti-religious aspect for sure, since religion and its inherent norms and values is what we’re constantly confronted with and disturbed by in everyday life. That can also be found in the concept of “Perverting…”. The central theme is the ritual of the Anathema Maranatha, which is depicted on the cover of the album. This medieval ritual was performed by thirteen priests and intended to excommunicate an accused person from the Church society, at that moment in time equivalent for whole society. The text of the intro is referring to that ritual and describes the absolute subversive way we approach this subject. Other songs deal with this matter too. The attentive listener may recognize them by the subtle use of the same melodic theme.

On the message board of Blackmetal.be there’s a discussion about the new trend of spirituality and religion in black metal. What’s your opinion about this matter?
Like you said, it’s a trend and therefore it should be regarded with suspicion. To be honest, these kinds of pseudo-intellectual reflections make me shiver. But the BM society is obviously willing to accept. I can name 5 major bands that have the same musical and conceptual foundations, but I didn’t hear a call for originality here. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the wave of Orthodox BM bands as well, but not taking part in this evolution as a band means you won’t have a lot of credits with the audience and that isn’t a good thing.

Today Christianity is losing its grip in Europe, but in the States the hordes of Jesus are increasing rapidly. While in Europe everyone seems to fear the enlarging flock of Muslims. Is this really a problem we should be aware of (and do something about it)?
It is a real problem, and I don’t know if there’s a solution for it. I mean a solution that is conform international laws. The Christian revival in the US is clearly a reaction to the religious polarization in global context. While Mohammed and co are centuries away from the thing we call Enlightment, western traditionalists seem to deny the fact it happened already to us. Religion has always been an important tool to control the masses in every culture, but that situation has changed. Nowadays the masses fanaticize with religion and use it as a weapon against social order. But as long as it doesn’t disturb my personal life, I don’t to get involved. You can call this cowardice, I prefer to name it realism.

Jeroenymous did play the studio drums. He got replaced by Hammerman – Why actually? And his other band Iconoclasm is “on-hold”. Will Iconoclasm ever return or they’re dead and buried forever?
As told before Jeroenymous had to quit due to hearing problems. We finally could convince him to play the studio drums because we really wanted him to do so. After all he had been a very reliable pawn in the Aguynguerran machinery for years and we didn’t want to see him leave without the glory he worked for for years. As we needed a replacement we contacted Hammerman after we saw him performing at a gig. Both Nguaroth and I were really impressed by his skills and asked him to join us. Iconoclasm is a different story. I don’t know if they’re planning to perform again in the future, but for sure it won’t be with Jeroenymous on drums. Iconoclasm is a band we always had good connections with. Back in 1999 we were young and this band has always been an example for us. So it was great to finally share stages with them and helping them out whenever we could. Honestly, I don’t think the future will bring a lot for Iconoclasm, but their career is impressive and they are nevertheless a monument in Belgian BM.

Can Aguynguerran be seen as an extensively touring live band? Nguaroth is also active in Enthroned and also Hammerman is beating skins in Huldrefolk and Fractured Insanity. It’s probably not the easiest thing combining all calendars.
We try to perform as much as possible, but we’re aware of the fact that this is a small country and we’re not interested in playing every week in front of 15 people. We’re very selective concerning the gigs we want to play and we all feel comfortable with this strategy. And off course it is an undeniable fact that the agendas of the other members are quite busy. We have to take into account that Nguaroth is several weeks a year on the road with Enthroned and the other projects of Hammerman you mentioned are doing well too. But so far, we didn’t regret this way of working for a minute.

Yet I’ve seen a couple of gigs are listed (and some are done). What can people expect from an Aguynguerran show? It’s a dedicated and typical black metal show or does the band have a special act when performing?
The shows we do are rather typical, yes. Expect paint, leather, spikes and a lot of banging hair. We try to focus on the music we play as much as possible and do not feel the need to involve special acts.

There’s no My Space site online, which is rather uncommon in these My Space days. How come?
I agree that My Space is a perfect medium to promote your material worldwide. But we feel uncomfortable with its undeniable function as a foolish ego propaganda machine. I’ve read profiles of leading members of the BM underground that were only created with the goal of revealing the unholiness of the individuals concerned. We too have are own norms and values, but we do not at all feel the need to share these very personal values with a worldwide community (with merely complete idiots) that we don’t even know personally in the first place. There is off course a complete difference when using this medium to promote your band, but the problem of unlocking your material to an uncontrollable mass of unworthy individuals always remains. We always have been very conservative on this point – it took years before we even had our own website – and you can easily interpret this as our way of hackling the popularization of BM in general. On the other hand, we’re well aware of the fact that this evolution can’t be reversed and that we’ll have to take part in some way.

Do you still believe in black metal today? Even excellent underground bands such as Deathspell Omega and Secrets of the Moon are very hot at the moment. I don’t know whether this is a good thing or not, what do you think?
It’s hard to keep on believing in BM as a non-commercial movement of subversive controversy because it has become commercial for sure and all controversy seems to be lost. But I think this evolution is very evident for an underground genre that exists for several decades. One – including myself – might regret that, but there’s little to do about it. More important for me is that I still believe in BM as an art form, a perfect symbiosis between music, philosophy and pictorial art. The day these foundations get touched, all interest in BM will be gone.

What does the future bring for Aguynguerran? Will we have to wait another five years for another release?
In the near future we’re focused on the promotion of the new album. But speaking on the long term, I really don’t know how long it will take to release some new material. It might take five years, it might take less. It’s very important for us to be 100% satisfied with our creations before we release them upon mankind. Let the Muse be our guide!

I know Aguynguerran for a very long time and I’ve always wondered why did you pick such an unspeakable band name? And what does it actually mean?
Aguynguerran is the name of a German rob knight figuring in old Germanic stories. Back in 1999, this whole historical background fitted well with the concept of the band thenadays. We’d never got rid off it because of nostalgic reasons. It might be a good idea to change band name for commercial reasons. But to be honest, I’m convinced that I speak for all in Aguynguerran when I say that this path shall never be walked.

Hails for doing this interview and may the Lord be there when the slaughtering begins!
Thanks to you! No Lord, no slaughtering!