Yovel is a fresh band coming from Greece. In this interview they answered our questions for their debut album “Hɪðəˈtu”, a conversation starting from music and expanding on their views about life, society and things in the Black Metal scene.
This Is Black Metal: A few months ago, your self-titled debut album was released. What are your feelings about it? Would you change anything now? Although, being it so recent I imagine nothing…
Yovel: Our primary concern was to live up to the task we designed. To conjure a solid mental concept out of the whole sonic impression; to “audialize” the Journey from Trauma to Triumph. We wanted to deliver a true concept album to all those who refuse to kneel, challenging them to answer a simple question: Will you join us in the only war, worth fighting for?
In that sense, we feel complete. Yet, we would surely like to change things; specially adding that “post-credits” song that we left outside. The “aftermath song” of sorts, that serves as the spiral link to our second [concept] album. We guess we will release it «stand-alone», the following months. Be Warned. Be Ready.
TIBM: Your lyrics are definitely quite different from the usual Black Metal pattern. This differentiation made me notice you at the first place, to be honest. Tell us a few things about your lyrics. How important are they for your music?
Yovel: Lyrics are not just written words; they are the spearhead of every song. They are the actors, upon the stage created by the music, who speak “the common tongue”, the common denominator across billions of people(s). Actors, realizing a scenario fitted for our Plan: Unity of the downtrodden. Learn our Enemy. Study our Enemy. Invert the Fear.
We want the destroy the political correctness of the contemporary black metal establishment, that dictates us not to stray from the “Blood – Flesh – Satan” pattern. We know, now, that this is the equivalent of the “bitches, gunz, money” establishment rap culture, with the other genres following accordingly.
This political correctness represents a symmetric “all-music” project, engineered to advance the social numbness, aiming for a self-induced lobotomy, that wants to bury the “War Pigs”, “One”, “Refuse/Resist”, “Voice of the Voiceless*, “Kentucky” (and the list goes on and on) of our times. We proudly stray from this beaten path.
Lyrics should not be a stigma. This daring task of exposing your conscious thoughts about you and the world around you, should not be the first self-censorship decision. That goes especially for the thousands, working-class musicians that passionately live [thought] their music. Freedom of speech costs dearly when it rings true; when it speaks the truth of our times. Pavlos Fyssas knew that. Timur Kacharava knew that. Silvio Meier knew that. Freedom is not free.
TIBM: Since I mentioned your lyrics, due to them I would rank you at the RABM movement. Can you tell us why it hasn’t become a counterweight to NS? Can we focus just on music, ignoring the lyrics or the beliefs of a band?
Yovel: You managed to squeeze 3 questions there! Let’s be precise:
Lethe must not win. Nazis are the eternal “Plan B” of Capitalism, when profits are down, to create animosity amongst the poor, war between the poor. To spread Division.
There is a whole historical context, originating from the “2nd wave of black metal” that can help analyze these attempts. Back then, the -necessary- struggle against organized religions, especially Christianity, along with the given mystical context of our genre, constituted a field in which the fascists invested ideologically & aesthetically. The turn to paganism and the “old ways”, along with the profile of the white warrior, the lone wolf. The shift away from modernity and towards romanticism and elitism, was and is a condition that speaks quite well with all those who feel suffocated with the contemporary. Obviously, it is a grave mistake to attribute the Viking / folk / pagan traditions to the Nazis. It is just their way to gain influence inside the music that we love.
To be acclaimed as heirs of the sole survivor of the “Norwegian Fratricide”; Vikernes.
Music is history. Music is passion. Music is our lives. Music is the fabric of our societies. If you just stay idle, you are a slave, of the worst kind.
A slave that does not dare to question.
TIBM: Recently, several live performances of bands like Marduk, Watain or Taake have been cancelled, mostly in the USA, due to reports from Antifa groups that these bands are Nazis. Is this all a bit too much?
Yovel: All those bands, when faced with the question of endorsing symbols and emblems of Nazi Germany, respond in the same manner. They claim that they do it for the “shock value” (and / or) they just “love history”. They claim that they just want to provoke. The thing is that, if Nazi provocation is your goal, then you must not be surprised when your goal is achieved (by an equal reaction to it). And that is, roughly, what is happening now.
The official press releases of the aforementioned bands, however, claim to be “all satanica – no politica”, full stop. But if you scratch the surface, you will see more than that. You will see Morgan Steinmeyer Håkansson (Marduk) speaking out against immigration to Sweden in the name of the band, saying he was proud that his grandfather had served as a German / Nazi officer during the Second World War. More recently you will see other Marduk members purchasing Nazi propaganda material and audiobooks from NMR (Neo-nazi political party). You will see Høst (Taake) calling a venue- owner as Untermensch (nazi terminology, meaning sub-human) sending him to “go suck a Muslim” and appearing live with a swastika on his chest, some years back. You will see Watain’s live guitarist leaving the band due to a nazi salute. All these are actions and mind-sets, leaning heavily (to be very moderate) to the extreme-right.
So, they are not random victims of a “blind witch-hunt” orchestrated by the Antifa, etc. It is not the freedom of speech in question here (such a “FOX News / Milos Yiannopoulos” argument), but the question of [perceived] Nazi bands be allowed to perform in their local communities. As strange as it may seem, this is also a chance for them to cut all ties with the haters and distance themselves honestly, even at the cost of some fringe fan groups. A true “mea culpa”.
Why “mostly in the USA?” is an interesting element of your question as well. Who are those, who actively sought to cancel these shows (Black lives Matter, Antifa, etc) Who do they fight against (KKK – CIA – the US “deep state”). What’s happening in USA today? Why they felt threatened? All these must be researched and taken into consideration as well, and not lightly.
What is surely not just a bit “too much”, but outright unjust, is the cancellation of a show of Woe in Germany, because of them co-performing with Inquisition in the past.
Yet, we must understand that social mobilizations of this sort are not academics, proofreading statements, lyrics; reading minds. They can be “too much”, they can be wrong. Alas, they are essential, they are needed. Their vigilance keeps societies afloat; battling the scum and the Trumps of this earth. Antifa is a movement with a history so great, mostly forgotten today. We owe the antifa movement (which was born in Nazi Germany) at least the duty to study their contribution.
TIBM: Let’s speak again about your debut. There’s a subtitle “The Path form Trauma to Triumph”. Could someone say that the lyrics somehow create a concept, from disappointment towards an oath, to continue even harder in the future; it looks like some kind of a personal promise to me. Did I get it right?
Yovel: Life is a promise. A promise we take, with our every single breath. Life is also despair, struggle, joy, rage. Life is the music that “clothes” our everyday dead-ends.
We are of and for the oppressed. No further promises are needed. Beneath the pledges, lies the insecure urge to bind yourself with words of the wind, to gather strength from without.
But beyond promises, lies the nostalgia for the quakes of the future. For freedom and true justice for all those who make this world go round.
We come from below – To settle the score. No promises. Just attitude.
TIBM: Greece is suffering the past years a continuous capitalist crisis and the results of it have mostly hit the working class. Ultimately, how “late is it for capitalism”? Can the present situation be improved without major changes at the capitalist structure, as the present government claimed?
Yovel: When the unions gathered at Haymarket Square in Chicago, in May 1st 1886, to peacefully demand the “8-hours day”, the bosses responded that this goes “against freedom” and ordered the police to kill. They couldn’t stand even the notion of dividing the day with the worker. A few years before that, in England, they claimed that abandoning child labor, or even moderating their work into 12-hours per day, cannot be tolerated “because of the crisis”. We can go on like this for hours… The same formula is applied today. “Crisis” and “Growth”, the two views of the same coin. Their coin.
So primary question lies in the generic truth of the Human race; up to now. Oppressor and Oppressed. Which side are you on? What are you willing to do about it?
Wrong estimations and unworthy pretenders will always accompany every struggle, even manage to stifle it for a while. But from Spartacus and onwards, we always find a way to become Breakers of Chains, even for moments in Time. Yet, the rich always find a way to hold us down. We must find a way to end this Sisyphean toil. To Break the Rock. To Escape the Loop.
In that context, (Too) late capitalism means overdue. Not done. It’s up to you and me to bury the zombie.
TIBM: Recently, you had your first live performance. How was it and what were the reactions from the crowd? Did you like it? Will there be any other lives?
Yovel: Performing “Hɪðəˈtu” live, playing music for the Oppressed, with them, is redemptive; We are only complete when we are a-live, on a stage. Our Debut Live was a proof of this. From now on, we will go everywhere we are called, to keep this fire burning. May our paths cross.
TIBM: May 9th of 2018 marked 73 years since the red flag waved on the top of the Reichstag. In recent years, especially after 1991, there has been an attempt to distort history and equate communism and Nazism. What’s your opinion about it?
Yovel: Let’s just imagine, for the above argument’s sake, an alternate history taking place. Instead of the Red Flag winding at the Reichstag, the swastika hanging on Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, London, thus completing the Nazi plan of conquering continental Europe (let’s leave the rest of world out). What would a Nazi victory have meant for the various degrees of the “sub-human nations” in Eastern & Southern Europe? For all the “non-Aryans” in Western Europe? An endless nightmare of serfdom and indignity! That was the plan. Famines, genocides, slavery, concentration camps. Total repression and misery.
We [must] remember the failed attempt. We can only imagine the actual “success”. We are certain we wouldn’t have this discussion today, if they won.
Even in Pervitin-bloated Germany, the plan was simple. You will live as a Nazi, or you will die with the “Reich”, as unworthy. The thousands of 12-13 years old dead boys and girls in Berlin, given a broken panzerfaust and sent out to die, stand as eternal silent witnesses. Of course, Krupp, General Motors, Siemens, Chrysler, Bosch, ITT, Bayern, Ford, Mercedes, Rockefeller, Deutsche Bank, VW, IBM, IG Farben, G.P Morgan Chase, Standard Oil, Coca-Cola, the Wall Street and all the bourgeois would be content. They funder Hitler. They were made even richer by Hitler.
But us? What place would we have in this kafkaesque nightmare?
But this attempt you describe is not really about the Soviet Union and the Nazis; it essentially hopes to equalize communism with nazism, as worldviews. Furthermore, it aims not so much towards the past, but towards the present and future. This revisionism of what happened wants us to forget, not “history”, but values, principles, sacrifices. Nightmares that came to life, were costly (60 million dead) defeated and must remain defeated.
Ernest Hemingway said: “Anyone who loves freedom owes such a debt to the Red Army that it can never be repaid.”
It makes you wonder who could say something like this, on the “alternate history” scenario…
Weird, isn’t it?
TIBM: Since we talked mostly about non- musical themes, reaching the end, I’d like you to name 5 of the most influential albums for you, as well as 5 books that have affected your way of thinking.
Yovel: It was your choice to monopolize this interview in this manner and we don’t mind that. We will gladly answer every question that is coming our way, even if it indirectly profiles us. This is a moment in time, where things in black / extreme metal (and societies in general) are in motion and turmoil. An interesting time, indeed.
So, answering your final question, let’s be clear upfront: Above all, stands Death and Chuck.
Having said that:
TIBM: For the end, feel free to add whatever you think needs to be added!
Yovel: Black Metal is the richest musical genre there is. Its true power lies in its ability to be free-form in its Dissonance; to invite “non-experts” (such as ourselves) to try it, experiment, create. In that sense, it has a true DIY and “from below” aura. An authenticity generated from the exploration of the forbidden, both vocally and musically.
Black Metal is also the most extreme musical form there is. Yovel want to make it the most dangerous one. To shift it away from existing patterns of obsessive anti-Christian schemes and endless individualistic self-explorations. To turn it from a breeding ground of hate for the different ones, to a collective staging point of retribution against the powerful ones.
Extreme is dangerous when it fixes the flag of Revolt against the status-quo. Extreme music must be Anti-establishment (or it will not be extreme).
As the legendary Rotting Christ stated: Non Serviam.
This is our Manifesto. We call all those who feel what we feel, to join their paths with ours.