The three-headed serpent, the nomadic scourge of East and West known as Trivax is one of Black Metal’s best-kept secrets. Birthed in Tehran, Iran, but bestowed upon by the forces of the night with a sharper sense of vitality and purpose as they made their way to the UK later on in their career, this coven now operates at full-scale. A diabolical beast recognized not only for its ferocity but also for its mystically attuned powers – unshackled now upon wanting hordes under the black mark of a new label.
During TIBM’s latest interview, Trivax discusses some of the difficulties they’ve faced during the course of their career, satanism, their personal relationship with black metal, inspirations and their new EP “The Serpent’s Gaze”. Let the ceremony begin!
This Is Black Metal: Hello and thank you for this interview. Being that you’re a band that originated in Tehran, I want to open up by asking you a question about Satanism – one of many dominant concepts behind the creation of Black Metal – and how it’s perceived in Iran.
In western culture, Satan is highly-regarded and even honored by some as a symbol of personal strength, independent thinking, passion and freedom. In some Eastern cultures where Islam is the predominant religion, the great Faustian spirit or Devil is known as Iblis. Is there such a practice as Iblisism, and if so, is it at all similar to Western Satanism?
Shayan: The perception of anything remotely non-religious in Iran and the Middle East is so extremely frowned upon that there’s not a lot of room for these ideologies to exist in their purest forms.
An important context to give here are the apostate laws back in Iran. Simply put, there are laws in place within that country where if you are a Muslim at any point in your life, even if you were born into it, and decide to denounce the religion and convert to anything else, you will then become what we call “Mortad”. This means that you are now prone to execution, as you have brought shame to Islam.
You could be listening to Marilyn Manson, and most of society would consider you a “Satanist” purely by association. The religious and spiritual education outside of Islam itself is extremely limited, so what we might even define as “Satanism” could actually have very little to do with what it represents.
You will find very select few individuals who are even remotely in pursuit of becoming any kind of scholar.
Even in regards to the west, the contemporary idea of “Satan” or “Satanism” is something that is bastardised to the point of almost being completely detached from what it actually stands for.
TIBM: What sparked your interest in extreme music and how did it lead you to Black Metal?
Shayan: I think that for the most part, it was actually a reflection of my own personality and the things to which I’ve always been drawn ever since childhood. I always had an interest in anything that I ever found quirky, weird and dark. So when it came to discovering Metal, it was the perfect fit really.
I was already somewhat familiar with the genre for the most part of growing up, particularly through the WWF bootlegs I’d got hold of as a kid, which was certainly impactful, but the main introduction came when I was 13 years old and had just discovered Metallica.
I came across them by total accident and then that was pretty much it, I was hooked and I needed to know more!
Literally, within 5 or 6 months of this, I’d already picked up the guitar and had discovered Mayhem and was going far down the rabbit hole… as I suppose many of us do.
TIBM: One of the things about Black Metal that has always appealed to me is all the taboo and controversy surrounding it. Black Metal artists – the world over – have faced persecution in many forms due to the adversarial and provocative nature of their music.
What were some of the challenges you had to overcome during your time as a Black Metal band in Iran?
Shayan: I share that very same sentiment when it comes to this genre!
For us, everything was an uphill battle. Not just as a band, but as musicians and as people. Our entire existence alone was a big “Fuck you” to the whole system and everything that the Iranian society stood for, particularly due to the extreme contaminations of Islam within the societal and governing roots of that country.
We had our own DIY rehearsal basement which we’d built out of dozens of egg cases and cement and used to practice there regularly. We were continuously under threats by the neighbors that they would call the police on us for doing “Un-Islamic” activities and for making noise. Rest assured, a lot of debaucheries went down in that place.
You can get arrested for performing any kind of art that might be considered either anti-religious or anti-government, as the two go hand in hand. You can face prison, punishment and serious social boycotting. In fact, if they can prove a higher extent of this, for example, if you have music that insults Islam, they can get you killed for that via executions, which are perfectly legal.
See, the thing is that just by playing Rock music, you were already prone to a high degree of scrutiny, and for us, the Black Metal part was just the icing on the cake
TIBM: Since relocating to the UK in 2011 and judging by how the band has grown over the past six years, in particular, there seems to have been some kind of pivotal time between the release of 2016’s “SIN” and 2021’s “Into the Void” when a more traditional or “True Black Metal” approach was decided upon. “Into the Void’s” cover art was even done by the great scene artist and cultivator Nestor Avalos.
Is there anything specific you can accredit to what appears to be – at least to me – the brandishing of a more malevolent side to the project?
Shayan: Absolutely. I am glad that this transformation is noticeable. There have been many personal trials and tribulations for all of us since the release of our first record, as well as a lot of lessons learned from the time when “SIN” came out.
Having said that, I think that in a sense, the ideas on “SIN” are actually a lot closer to the traditional roots of Black Metal as far as the attitude and mindset, but perhaps the presentation is far too abstract.
“Into the Void” is a more spiritually driven piece of meditative art, through the extreme and ecstatic vessel of Black Metal. I’d even say that it might be more in the realms of a psychedelic experience, which isn’t entirely representative of earlier Black Metal musically, but at the same time, its spiritual content is possibly a lot closer to that. It’s impossible to put it inside a box really, especially with lyrics of such high complexity which interact with the Astral realms.
I would say that, whilst I’m still proud of the material on our first album, our creative expression has become far more intentful and direct, and you can definitely see this in our most recent releases, particularly with “The Serpent’s Gaze”.
TIBM: You recently signed with Dayal Patterson’s Cult Never Dies record label. Of the many prestigious underground labels out there, this one – for me – seems to be the most exciting.
How did your blood pact with Dayal take place and how do you feel about being an early part of CND?
Shayan: Absolutely! One of the main reasons for the long wait for our release has been due to us anticipating the appropriate label to show up. We needed a label that takes this music and the underground seriously, which is why we are very excited to be working with Dayal on this project, as he does exactly those things.
I have personally been a follower of Cult Never Dies for quite some time already, and through a mutual contact, we were formally introduced towards the end of last year, which eventually led to our collaboration on this project.
This really feels like the perfect merging of forces at this time, and I can safely say that we are all very eager to bring you the results of our work together!
TIBM: You have an EP release out in the shape of “The Serpent’s Gaze”. It’s definitely more aggressive than “Into the Void”, but ultimately similar in regard to aesthetic.
What is the concept behind “TSG” and is it a continuation of “Into the Void”?
Shayan: Definitely. As I mentioned, we have certainly become far more intentful with our art and the full experience which we are trying to create, both for ourselves and the audience.
The Serpent’s Gaze is a song that came to fruition over a lucid but awake state of meditation, through what I would consider a manifestation of what was a direct result of communication with a serpentine being within the Astral realm. The skeleton for the song was written in a mere 30 minutes session.
There’s an element of merging the dimensions within this song and bringing forth a spirit of truth and punishment to the fallacies of our actions within the 3rd dimension, gifted by the power and judgment of this serpentine entity. Through the song, there are series of build-ups that lead to the main climax of the harmony section, which represents the moment of confrontation with this being. During the creation of this part, I could close my eyes and see it looking directly at me – hence why the track is called “The Serpent’s Gaze”.
That’s the very basic summary of what this song is. I have spoken of this in great detail on episode 25 of my podcast, Iblis Manifestations. This might be worth checking for those interested in looking further into things and getting a fuller picture of this art piece.
TIBM: Where was the EP recorded and what was the writing/recording/production process like?
Shayan: The basics were recorded back in May-August 2019, but over time many layers have been added, including the guest vocals by Wraath (One Tail One Head, Darvaza) which weren’t laid down until early 2021.
The writing process happened during isolated but very inspiring times for me personally, all of which took place between 2017-2018, which was some additional spontaneous.
TIBM: Any news like a release date or a musical/lyrical direction for a new full-length album?
Shayan: A great question! Unfortunately, one which I can only give limited answers at this time.
Though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as we’re in talks of arranging the next big release which will be our 2nd full-length album.
What I can tell you, is that there will be explorations of the multi-facets of Death, which are expressed through a conceptual collective perspective of the murderer, the self and the world.
More to come on that later!
TIBM: Do you have any live rituals or tours in the works for the remainder of the year?
Shayan: It has been a very successful year for us in terms of live appearances and the overall experiences seem to be getting better and better. We have just performed a headline show at the Eradication Festival in Cardiff, which leaves us one more date in Sheffield on the 10th of December. This will be a very special one-off event, featuring support from none other than Devastator and Craven Idol.
2023 is already looking to be a very busy year!
TIBM: Of all the many legendary Black Metal movements that have sprouted and thrived across the globe from the Scandinavian and Mediterranean scenes all the way to the massive yet oft-overlooked South American hordes.
Which school of BM would you say has been of the most influence toTrivax?
Shayan: A great question. Without sounding cliche, we can draw inspiration from most of the waves of this culture, whether it’s from the legendary sparks of Venom, Bathory and Hellhammer, or the second-wave bands from Scandinavia. It could also be the Brazilian wave of bands featured on the Warfare Noise split, plus Vulcano, or any Orthodox Swedish BM bands, or of course, any of the bands from the Ross Bay Cult scene.
I’m just a Metal guy, period. Obviously, I do enjoy Black Metal, and that’s where I find most of my own natural artistic expression lies, but actually, I’m just a massive fan of Heavy Metal culture. Obviously, you can’t claim that without appreciating NWOBHM, so we take a lot away from that too, which I think that you ought to as a Metal band, regardless of which subgenre you play.
Every now and then I also find myself getting deeper into the 1988-1991 Death Metal tape demos. Cannot go wrong with those!
We take inspiration from all of these mentioned and spit it all back out with our own fingerprints over them at the end of the day.
TIBM: Overall, what does Black Metal mean to you
Shayan: It’s a sonic tool of spiritual self-expression, one that embraces the rebellious and chaotic nature of things, regardless of moral values, or even universal boundaries that protect life forces.
It’s kind of like when you slowly expose yourself to snake venom in order to build more resilience toward it, I feel that Black Metal has a similar effect.
Above all, it is an extremely powerful vessel of freedom, which occurs through a sonic projection of controlled chaos. It is truly magnificent.
But like all things, if you play with fire too much, you can always get your hands burnt… and sometimes maybe that’s just what you need.
TIBM: Do you have a message for your followers?
Shayan: We are extremely grateful for all of the support that we have received over all these years, and it gives me great pleasure when I can assure you all that the best is yet to come!
We are just on the edge of bringing the true power of Trivax to the world and are very excited to celebrate this legacy of freedom with all of you and finally watch it blossom.
After all, we have risked and sacrificed a lot to be here, yet here we are, doing exactly what we were meant to do – performing Eastern Death Magick!
Remember, freedom always has a price… Never, ever, exchange this for comfort or safety.