Black Funeral emerged from the abyss in the year 1993 from Indianapolis, Indiana as a Vampiric Black Metal band by Michael W. Ford (as Akhtya Nachttoter.) The very essence of the band was centered on the cult of Black Metal and Luciferian ideology from a nightside approach. As stated by the band for the release of Empire of Blood: “Black Funeral is the incarnation of death and Vampyrichbloodlust. We are the ghosts that dwell beyond the shadows of the grave… During some nights we rise from our tombs to haunt the living. Our spells weave webs of darkness, through our shadows humans are inspired to hate – Misanthropic beauty is created.”
Black Funeral is a catalyst for vampiric feeding, the very music being as a tendril into the vein of a dying myth of a God. Black Funeral exists as a black art manifestation of nightmares in music.
Black Funeral was one of the first seminal Cult Black Metal bands in America. Inspired by early Bathory, Von, Blasphemy, Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, early Emperor, Mayhem and Burzum, “Journey’s into Horizon’s Lost” was recorded and distributed everywhere possible. The recording’s ugliness, bad production and Extreme sound placed Black Funeral as one of the most chaotic Black Metal bands in the USA. Musically Black Funeral was a cold and raw mix of Black and Deathlike Metal, always ugly and harsh.
This Is Black Metal Webzine talked with the “head” of the band, Michael W. Ford about everything you want to know about this Cult Black Metal band!
This Is Black Metal: Here we are with Michael Ford, frontman of the iconic Black Funeral! It is an honor for me to interview you, have always been passionate about your music. How are you?
Michael W. Ford: I thank you for the words of support, as well as this interview. It is good for me to participate in interviews such as this at times! I am strong and healthy, thank you. I too, wish health and strength upon you. I founded Black Funeral in 1993, never knowing, not expecting the project to exist in the year 2021! I am incredibly pleased with our discography overall and especially from 2014 forward. I never anticipated that I would have survived so long in Black Metal and dark music in general; for that, I have surpassed any goals I set back in the 90s.
TIBM: The lyrics of Black Funeral have always been inspired by your numerous studies about Luciferianism, occultism, witchcraft and other dark arts: something that led you, as is well known, to write many literary works about it. How and when did you become interested in these themes?
Michael W. Ford: I have always had an interest in the dark and demonic since I was a young child. Although I had no idea what ‘satanism’ was as a young child, I was told of the Revelation’s ‘Dragon’, ‘Satan’ and ‘Demons’ which had a stronger symbolism than the alien and weak ‘Christian’ concepts. I have always had something within me, a guide and patron spirit. I call this Azal’ucel, my Daemon. My concepts and lyrics in Black Funeral and associated projects have embraced an artistic cultus of the Satanic and Nightside lore.
TIBM: What influence do your studies have on your daily lifestyle? I guess you have particular visions of customary life and interpersonal relationships…
Michael W. Ford: My life is normal in so many ways, about having a wife, family, chosen close friends, loyal comrades and sisters, pets (animals – dogs, snakes). I am the co-owner of Luciferian Apotheca, an occult and satanic shop which has existed since 2007, Succubus Productions Publishing, our publishing house, has operated since 2005. My Luciferian initiatory workings including ceremonial magick, sorcery, witchcraft, research, and writing are supportive of my daily life; I strive for a balance in my personal life and mostly sustain that. I am a deeply spiritual person and indulge in horror fiction, movies and music as I wish.
TIBM: Thanks for the clarifications you gave us about the lyrical aspect of Black Funeral. Let’s now move on to the instrumental part: this musical project of yours has had a marked evolution compared to the past, very radical in my opinion starting from Ankou And The Death Fire: the guitar style of Azgorh, who joined the line-up years ago, is well perceptible. Can you tell us how this collaboration was born and the evolutionary path of the band’s sound?
Michael W. Ford: In 2010 or so, Choronzon Blood Rite was finished, and Dark Adversary Productions was releasing it. My Luciferian work was keeping me terribly busy along with other things, I was honestly uninspired with Black Funeral to that point. I had considered strongly finishing the band, however, Azgorh expressed his interest in working on an album as a session member, along with an excellent drummer he knew. I had worked on an album with an old friend around that time but was extremely disappointed with it. I wanted to collaborate with Azgorh and see how it went. We recorded “Ankou and the Death Fire”, I was strongly inspired by his style and my lyrical concept took shape quickly. I began composing and recording dark ambient sections for the album, arranging them to enhance the total concept of the album. After Ankou was finished and released, I found new inspiration with Black Funeral. I decided to invite Azgorh to join Black Funeral as a full member, something I have not done for so many years (back to the ’90s really). Black Funeral has come forth enveloped in darkness which expands, transforms, and mutates as each album and song is recorded. After this, we have many musical projects which have taken form, so I am incredibly happy with our work and our potential in the future.
TIBM: I take this opportunity to ask you about Ordo Ater Anguis, a scene to which Black Funeral and other projects in which Azgorh is involved claim to belong. What do the bands that are part of this movement have in common?
Michael W. Ford: We are dedicated Left-Hand Path Black Magicians, seriously and individually dedicated beyond our musical art. Each is an adept who contributes and collaborates as the spirit moves the call from Ordo Ater Anguis. Beyond this, I cannot speak of this cultus.
TIBM: Personally I consider the aforementioned Ankou And The Death Fire and Scourge Of Lamashtu the highest points reached by the band. I took care of reviewing Scourge of Lamashtu for our webzine and I found it really interesting for both the music and the lyrics. I have done several searches to bring to light the details it contains by reporting them in the review, but now I leave the word to you. Describe how Scourge of Lamashtu was born and the dark meanings it contains.
Michael W. Ford: Scourge of Lamashtu is the full-length successor to the MLP “The Dust and Darkness”. The Dust and Darkness was an invocation of Bronze Age Syrian and Hittite demonology and the sorceries of the primal Sheol or hell, among the Canaanites and Moabites. The track of Chemosh of the Dust and Darkness is dedicated to the Underworld deity of ancient Ugarit, a city destroyed in the late Bronze Age by the Sea Peoples; in burning the Canaanite city, they preserved the cuneiform tablets of ritual hymns, myths and records including the practices of sorcery.
Scourge of Lamashtu is a deep call and invocation of the lore and hymns from Mesopotamian Demonology: Babylonian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Syrian, etc. The album is centered on Lamashtu, a goddess and demoness (rare to see deities described as both in Babylonia) who is one of ancient origin and the name of Lilith, a vampiress and demoness who feeds upon youth and humans in general. The Seven Udug-hul, Demonic deities (who are rebels and destructive powers) who are kin to Lamashtu and powerful conquering (and devouring) spirits. My Luciferian Magical works and research opened an ancient world up for me and I am dedicated to expanding it. I approach musical art as a magickal expression of my experience with Lamashtu and the Sebitti. Scourge of Lamashtu is a cycle of hymns and invocations, for the inspirational utterance of the ancient Mesopotamian hordes of darkness; my work SEBITTI, along with MASKIM HUL, are two published books dedicated to the Babylonian pantheon and traditions associated. The Vampyric is presented in one of the most ancient and obscure forms and origins with this album. I use parts from incantations, hymns, and exorcisms (I turn them to invocations) as lyrics in the album. Some are in Akkadian, Assyrian, and Sumerian while others are in translated English.
TIBM: In the booklet, it says that the album was recorded in 2019 both in Australia and in the USA. How do you and the rest of the band find working remotely and how does this working method affect songwriting?
Michael W. Ford: It is the most productive and inspiring aspect of collaboration. We allow our inspiration and vision to reach optimal levels at different times, specifically at chosen times to record and then share to then contribute to. This is the only way I will do it now, as I hate rehearsals and do not have a lot of time for hours of working out songs. Azgorh and I have a supportive vision of the darkness, which is Black Funeral, so I never have to question what he does. This process allows for deeper creativity and inspiration for the recordings to take a darksome form in a magickal process.
TIBM: The cover of Scourge Of Lamashtu is as fascinating as it is disturbing: it depicts the demon Lamashtu who is about to devour a newborn. Since today the world of extreme music is a victim of multiple censorships, wasn’t this artwork a cause for difficulty as far as the publication of the album is concerned? What view do you have about the excessive censorship in my opinion that our music is undergoing in this period?
Michael W. Ford: The artist we have utilized for three albums – Ankou, Dust and Darkness, and Scourge of Lamashtu is a unique and infernally brilliant illustrator – incidentally ‘Scourge Art’ is the creator. We have at times had censorship rear its’ repulsive head and seek to limit us, however, we have mostly kept it under the radar and will continue to do what we wish with our black art. I detest forms of censorship – humans can be so categorically stupid and ignorant when they find mass groupings and so-called ‘causes’ to adopt. They try to champion useless “causes” while declaring freedom and individualism. It is hypocrisy and the state of humanity has increasingly grown worse than even in the 90s! Imagine – we have vast tools and potential to establish balance on this earth and in cultures – yet the masses destroy everything created or touched. Black Funeral expresses our misanthropic and burgeoning overtones of nihilism or at least ‘gardening’ of the useless sheep of humanity. As a Luciferian – Satanist, I adhere to the ‘offer them knowledge and temptations’, while watching the unfit self-destruct from it.
TIBM: Let’s take a step back, precisely in 2005, the year in which Back Funeral released Ordog: I have always been intrigued by the type of guitar sound adopted on that album which I consider unique in its genre. Can I ask you how did you get that kind of sound?
Michael W. Ford: Computer effects, more filters, and an obsession with Post-Industrial decay with a Black Metal sound. After these few albums, “Waters of Weeping” was a triumph over these lesser albums in my opinion.
TIBM: It is evident that Black Funeral is to be considered a pure studio project. Despite this, I came to know that you have done a few lives over the years, with Ahzir on vocals. Do you think you could bring your live music back in the future?
Michael W. Ford: NO. Ahzir (?) has never performed live with Black Funeral, in the studio, or anything else. I have performed a few times in the late 90s with the cult, but it was so difficult to find musicians who would willingly play a Black Metal style: in the 90s it was mostly musicians who wanted a mainstream Brutal Death Metal sound. It has been that way in the USA until the early 2000s but I had problems finding artists I could connect with. If Black Funeral performed live again, Azgorh and I would be involved of course. I am more focused on the totality of the recordings with the artistic presentation of the music, lyrics and visual art which becomes an ‘album’ or released recording.
TIBM: Besides music and dark arts study, do you have other interests occupying your time?
Michael W. Ford: including music I record Dark Ambient and ritual music, with AKHTYA. I also am collaborating on some OST recordings and a soundtrack for a horror film based on Necromancy. I also have an interest in ancient near eastern history, with a deep passion for the Hellenistic period – the Seleucid Empire, Republican and Imperial Roman warfare and religion, Ptolemaic Egypt, New Kingdom Egypt, Assyrian, Babylonian history, Hellenistic Pontus, Cappadocia, and Thrace; the Celtic and Germanic lore and history; Parthia, Achaemenid and Sasanian Persia also; Alexander III of Macedonia, the Diadochi (successors) of Alexander, Syncretism and so much more. I also have pet snakes, dogs, and a wife + grandkids now. Hiking and nature are a big part of my life as well, including paranormal research along with my magickal practices.
TIBM: Thanks for your time, Michael Ford. Conclude the interview by sharing what you think we are worth knowing about the future activities of Black Funeral.
Michael W. Ford: We will continue to compose and record musical grimoires which can act as gates to hell and the underworld, with a blissful desire for drinking the life force, blood and soul-eating the human filth of this world.