Roaring through the darkness, wailing evocations of death and beyond, the Californian Black Metal band Necrochamber possesses a liches phylactery of focused ritualistic death-inspired Black Metal. In 2019 was celebrated by the release of their haunting new lp “Ceremonies For The Dead”. With each song recalling aspects of an incantation, singer/guitarist Nocturnal Overlord guides the listener through a macabre yet compelling experience within each track on this cryptically inspired album. Ceremonies For The Dead was released on Mythos Occultus on February 22nd, 2019. With well-decorated producer Dan Swanö (Production credits including bands such as Bloodbath, Incantation, and Dark Funeral) providing the mix and master for the album, the band was confidently able to plant its flag amongst the elite in the unholy world of modern Black Metal. For this interview, I am joined by Necrochamber frontman Nocturnal Overlord, as we further discuss the elements and history of the band.
This Is Black Metal: Hails to Nocturnal Overlord, and thank you for taking the time to discuss the band with the blog. In your own words, can you provide a small opening introduction to the founding of Necrochamber? When and where was the band founded, and who was involved?
Nocturnal Overlord: Hi Christian, and thanks for your interest and support in Necrochamber. I started Necrochamber while living in San Diego California back in 1998. My other band was already having line up problems and I needed a musical and creative output and didn’t feel like waiting around. So I started Necrochamber as an American band with a raw, aggressive, and old-school type of Black Metal sound and feel. I wasn’t trying to make it some kind of new band or style or be experimental or technical. I just wanted to make a good traditional Black Metal band. So I wrote 4 songs and recorded a demo on my own with a drum machine in 1998. I then tried to get a line up together and teach them the songs, but it didn’t quite work out. The project just kind of got put on hold until about 2009, more than 10 years later.
TIBM: Considering the conceptual element of the LP, does the band partake any spiritual/esoteric beliefs or practices?
Nocturnal Overlord: I don’t want to speak for the entire band of course. But I would say we all have our own beliefs, spirituality, and experiences. We’re not a political band, or one of those bands that associate themselves with any certain groups, religions, cults, demons, or whatever. We’ve had some close friends die over the years. And we’ve lost friends to drugs, girls, money, stress, health issues and everything else you can think of. So we are just trying to bring out all of this negative energy, hate, and aggression and turn it into something positive like music, that other people can relate to and associate with. As for me personally, I think life is about keeping some sort of balance. If you’re going to be negative and live lies, that’s what you’re going to attract and surround yourself with. I’ve always been attracted to the darker side of life and all of the universe’s mysteries and nature. And of course history. But I have no time or energy to waste being destructive or manipulative. The lyrics I write for Necrochamber are mostly about the evils of mankind and could come from one’s own nightmares or visions of hell, insanity, depression, loneliness, anxiety, occultism, etc. Subjects I think many people can relate to.
TIBM: Are there any specific musical influences that you would like to acknowledge?
Nocturnal Overlord: As far as Necrochamber the band goes, I would say that old stuff like Celtic Frost, Bathory, Slayer, Venom, Metallica, Mercyful Fate, Sepultura, and maybe even a little Iron Maiden. And of course all of the old Scandinavian Black Metal bands of the early ’90s. But as a musician, each of us in the band listens to all kinds of different music. Not just metal. Everything from Classical Music, Jazz, Industrial, Classic Rock, Experimental, World Music, Ambient, Horror Soundtracks, and just about everything else.
TIBM: How much of the LP was self-produced? Can you go into depth about the recording process and who was involved?
Nocturnal Overlord: We recorded all the instruments and vocals for “Ceremonies for the Dead” between 2012 and 2018. I’ve operated my own studio for many years now and have done many recordings for myself and other bands as well. We recorded the drums in our drummer’s garage actually in 2012. Doesn’t sound like it does it?! It took a few months to get the drum tracks finished, especially since there was no punch in or outs on the final takes. Each drum track was recorded in a single take, song by song, all the way through. Mistakes and all. Which I think at the end, gives the album that old kind of feeling. It’s not perfect or like a machine. We’re human and real. I recorded the bass and the guitars shortly after the drums were finished at my own studio. And then the hard drive for my computer crashed. We lost everything. Not only the Necrochamber recording but all the other recordings from my own other projects and other people’s bands as well.
We were also going through some personal things in our lives at the time, and Wotan had moved to Denmark. So, it really held things up a bit. It was maybe 3 years later that one of my friends was able to revive my crashed hard drive and got all the files on it back. A lot has changed since then, and we were trying to find a permanent vocalist along the way. But in the end, I decided I would just have to do the vocals myself and continued on with the recording where we had left off. At the same time, we had been discussing what we should do once the recording was finished. I could have easily mixed and mastered it myself, but we had been working on recording the album for so long, our ears hurt and we thought it would be best to send the final tracks elsewhere to get finished. That’s when we came in contact with Dan Swanö. Of course, we were always big fans of his bands and recordings. He was actually the first person we contacted about doing the mix and master for us. And he responded right away with a great attitude, professionalism, patience, and respect. So we knew we had to go for it. After talking to Dan and getting a sample back from him, I decided I had to re-record some of the vocals again which took more time.
We also had a lot of time editing all of the drum fills, and I ended up recording extra guitar tracks to give the album a fuller stereo sound as well. All of the guitars that you hear were recorded with real amps, by the way, no re-amping at all. After almost another year went by, Dan finally had all the tracks he needed and worked his magic for us. He even recorded his garage door for us as a sound effect for the outro on the recording, haha. Thanks, Dan! Really great, honest, and humble person and simply the best. It took 6 years to finish the recording of the album, but we couldn’t be more satisfied with the result.
TIBM: It’s cited that Necrochamber was founded in 1998. Can you reflect on the first few years of what was going on with the band?
Nocturnal Overlord: After I recorded the first demo and the project went dormant, it wasn’t until 2009 that I decided to bring Necrochamber back from the dead and started writing more music and started recording a new demo. For the most part, Necrochamber has always been influenced by my own nightmares, demons, and visions of hell. I always write all the guitar riffs first or have them in my head. Then I start with pre-production and making drum patterns and re-arranging things until I can record a demo. Once I have a demo of the songs, I give them to the other band’s members to start remembering parts and for adding any other little details or harmonies. I usually prefer to have the drums and guitars just about done before I start on the bass guitar and on any lyrics. I also use some synths with Necrochamber, but mostly just for intros and outros. And maybe once in a great while during a song. My other bands used a lot of synths, so I tried to keep Necrochamber simpler and more traditional.
TIBM: The credited members for the LP included only you and drummer Wotan. Can you provide a history of the current lineup? Essentially, how did this lineup come to be?
Nocturnal Overlord: In 2009 after I had written some new songs and recorded a new demo, I knew I wanted to try and get a complete line up together and record a full Necrochamber album. It wasn’t until 2010, after I came back from living in Germany for 6 months playing session guitar for Endstille, that Wotan and I started talking about him drumming in Necrochamber. We had known each other for many years as we both played in different metal bands since High School and are from the same area. We both had the time, energy, and dedication. And we weren’t really active in any other “touring” bands at the moment. So we started rehearsing not long after. Our other old friend Mike was playing bass with us for a while too, so we started up as a three-piece of friends practicing in a garage.
NECROCHAMBER – “Lord of the Deceased” official lyric video 2019
TIBM: Necrochamber possesses a theatrical, yet nostalgic Black Metal presentation during its live shows. Can you express your creative goal within your live performances?
Nocturnal Overlord: We wear traditional corpse paint and spikes, bullet belts, real blood, chains, bones, etc. And sometimes have candles, skulls, and other objects on the stage with us. And I have a lot of other ideas we have yet to try. We don’t always have the time to set up too many extra props between bands, so we are kind of limited and changing things up depending on the situation. The music and performance will always come first. But we also would like for people to enjoy watching us or taking pictures even if they don’t like the music so much. It is a show and the audience paid for it after all. So might as well make the most of it. Hopefully, in the future, we can bring more of my ideas into our live show and make it more theatrical and incorporate more of the imagery and lyrics into the set.
TIBM: Can you provide a rig rundown? Is there any gear that you’re planning to add to your setup?
Nocturnal Overlord: When we rehearse at my studio we have a 9 or 10 piece Pearl Session Custom Maple Kit and Sabian cymbals. An Ampeg SVT-5 bass head and 8×10 cab. A Peavey 5150 guitar head and cab. And lately, I’ve been using a Carvin Legacy I guitar head and a Carvin cab. For recording and live, it just depends on the day really, lol. Our drummer has a Tama drum kit and usually Paiste cymbals and Axis pedals. And I have another Pearl Export kit we’re starting to use live as well. We’ve also used a different Ampeg SVT bass head with a 15″ cab, and sometimes we’ll use a Mesa Triple Rectifier or my old Metaltronix M-1000 guitar head. I also have an Engl and Marshall JMP-1 tube preamp I’ve been wanting to throw into the mix at some point, but we’ll see. I also used an old ADA MP-1 guitar preamp on some tracks on the first album. Besides just having good equipment and amps, we’ll usually use overdrive pedals in front of the guitar amps such as a Tube Screamer, Maxon, or Sparkle Drive. Sometimes I play with a bit of chorus and delay as well and usually will use my Digitech GSP 1101 for that. Or if I really want some old effects, I also have the GSP 21 Legend Pro. For live vocals, I’ve been using the Audix OM-2 lately which is a great mic. And I just picked up a TC Helicon Create XT pedal for vocal delay and reverb in live situations. Pretty much when you hear us live, we should sound just like the album, if not better
TIBM: Any upcoming tours or shows you would like to promote?
Nocturnal Overlord: We have a show this upcoming Memorial Day weekend here in San Diego with Inter Arma and Thantifaxath at the space bar which I think should be something good and different. And we also are one of the headlining bands this July at the Tecate Summer Metal Fest in Mexico. It’s an outdoor festival in the north of Mexico and starting to get bigger every year. It Will be our first time playing in Mexico with Necrochamber, so we’re really looking forward to it!
Necrochamber – Ceremony of the Dead
TIBM: Are there any plans for the next album release?
Nocturnal Overlord: I have about 7 songs for the second album already written. I actually made a demo version of 6 of the songs back in 2011. So we’re almost ready to start recording again. We have two new members in the band for almost a year now. Demonic Possessor on guitar, and Hellbound Scourge on bass. So we’re working on getting them caught up on all of the songs before we get back to the studio. Our first album was self-released on my own record label, Mythos Occultus, on a limited digipak CD and cassette tape. But we’re looking for a professional and promising label to release the 2nd album and put the first album out on vinyl. We’ve had some interest and talk so far, but we shall see!
TIBM: Is there a specific country or region that the band would like to perform at?
Nocturnal Overlord: We really would like to play in Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, and Indonesia. And of course, we look forward when the opportunity to play across Europe and Scandinavia comes as there is always a lot of great tours, festivals, and bands there.
TIBM: Top three best/your favorite shows that you’ve attended? Did that influence the band at all?
Nocturnal Overlord: Now that is a really tough question. I’ve been to so many great shows in my lifetime. If I had to pick just 3… 1992 Campaign for Musical Destruction tour with Napalm Death, Carcass, Cathedral, and Brutal Truth. It was one of the first shows I ever went to with some killer bands and only $10! Dead Can Dance at the Gibson Amphitheater in Universal Studios on their Anastasis tour in 2012 was purely amazing. And if I had to pick just one more, maybe Hans Zimmer at the San Diego State University Arena in 2017. There was a whole symphony playing along with the band and they were just so dynamic and played so well together. Of course, I also like going to festivals, smaller more underground shows, and seeing bigger bands such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, King Diamond, Metallica, Slayer, etc. Did any of these or any other shows influence the band at all? Sure. We are not just musicians and entertainers, but we are also music fans just like everyone else. It’s those one shows that we go home talking about and still talk about years later that I enjoy the most.
So we take close look at the detail, atmosphere, props, gear, sound, and everything else that comes along with a live concert. We want people to go home after seeing us say, wow that was pretty extreme but also well done. Not to spend their time at the bar or outside socializing. We know we can’t please everyone, but we don’t plan to or want to either. We play because we love it, that’s it!
TIBM: Is there anything on the horizon for the band that you would like to add?
Nocturnal Overlord: Be on the lookout for more upcoming live shows and hopefully a vinyl release of our debut album. And tune in if for details about our second album which we hope to start recording within the next year. Also, don’t forget, you can listen to Necrochamber on most streaming media sites such as Spotify, Amazon, Google, YouTube, etc, and you can buy our merch directly from our Bandcamp page or the official Necrochamber webpage at www.necrochamber.com
Necrochamber – Ceremonies for the Dead (Full Album)