Ritual Marks

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My introduction into France’s Aosoth is quite recent. Graham Landers, from Deepsend Records some time ago stated their new album was his favorite of 2013, at that time. Now I have gone on record that I’m more of an older school black metal fan, like Bathory and I still love Dark Throne, to this day. I love blackened death metal and Aosoth combine black metal with death metal influence and I agree with Graham’s assessment that IV: An Arrow in Heart is one of this years highlights. I reviewed it a while back and scored it 9.5/10 and feel this is the band’s magnum opus. Their past material, the 2008 self titled album (which I recently was able to get) and the 2009 Ashes of Angels are pure black metal, but played so viciously and amazing, that I feel they conjure up some of the great legendary black metal albums of the early 90’s.

Their 2011 release III – Violence & Variations saw the band moving in a direction that incorporated more death metal and the album is stunning, simply put.  So the new cd improves and expands on that sound, with longer and more epic songs and musicianship that will make your mouth drop to the floor.  This album is catchy, dark, brutal, depressing and a vicious slab of music.  I’ve had a lot of contact with the singer MkM recently and he is a well versed and super cool dude.  You need to support this truly killer band, so go and buy their albums now.  So summon up some demons, light some candles and read this in-depth interview I conducted with the 2 mainmen behind Aosoth; vocalist, MkM and guitarist/composer BST.


Congratulations on your newest album, IV: An Arrow in Heart, it is crushing! How has is been received by the fans, press and when playing the songs in a live setting?

MkM: Hails Frank, thanks for the feedback on our latest recording; that album might have been the one with the most exposure, at least review wise. About live performances, we only got a few selected gigs since the release – including the Maryland Death fest, there will not be any tour for that album, nor any tour at all in the future it seems. But to get back to your question : it seems the newer tracks and the way we « expose » them to the audience had the right impact. Both our gig in Paris & the one at MDF must have been the most satisfying on a personal level.

It seems that you went towards more epic songwriting with the songs gradually getting longer with each album you have put out. Why is this the case and do you feel it makes the band better?

BST: When we wrote the third album, these tracks were meant to be as painful as possible; the whole experience had to be a nightmare. It felt right to do things this way and it became a part of the band’s identity in the end. Don’t know if it makes anything better, but it works for us, and for what we’re standing for. In the future we could go back to writing some shorter songs, nothing has been decided, we’ll just see what happens then.

I felt that your last album, III – Violence & Variations the band, began to incorporate a tiny bit of death metal into the sound and while still mostly classified as a Black Metal band, I felt this was furthered a little more on the new record. As stated in my review, the title track, at around the 6 minute mark, the atmospheric/ambience and the light drumming, kinda has a shade of Ulcerate, who are from New Zealand. Than the song bursts into a raging blast. What are your comments on my observation?

BST: The Death Metal influence has been a part of Aosoth since I was hired as a guitar player, I think. It may have become more obvious because of the very low tuning we’ve been using since “III”. As far as the comparison with Ulcerate, well I love this band, but I’m not sure we share that much. One can probably tell that both projects have been heavily influenced by Deathspell Omega, though, like many other bands, of course.

MkM : Weird you would mention this, I have a slightly different vision of it all, since none of my bands ever sounded « black metal » to most, it had been an insult back in the days to even have « too much » death metal structures or tuning in our sounds (Antaeus or Aosoth for instance)

“Ritual Marks of Penitence” is a 14 minute song, will you ever play this song live? Also with such a long song, how difficult is it to remember all the parts, especially in a live setting?

BST: We’ve adapted it to a live setting by making a shorter version of it, which is approximately 8 minutes long. Remembering long structures is not really a problem, we rehearse enough…

MkM : The only issue I could think of when performing such tracks on live “Ritual…” is related to the amount of time we would be allowed to have, most of the time, we do get 30 to 40 minutes, so it ends up in us having to choose properly which tracks to recreate live and those who will never be brought to the stage. Out of the last album, we did pick up three and those are already covering in length 80 per cent of our set – that doesn’t allow much for the previous albums.

How have you developed as a singer over time? I do notice a little bit more death metal influence in your vocals on the new album. When singing do you strictly sing from your throat or do you use your diaphragm in the process, since singing this type of music can take a toll on your vocal chords over time?

MkM: First, I would like to point out that I always ask to have my vocals drowned in the mix and not upfront – I do consider my part as an instrument more or less & the lyrical aspect would just be more of a personal matter and for my own experience (thus no lyrics enclosed in that last album – apart from the braille insert, which provided a different approach to the concept of Aosoth – and we do know some individuals who managed to get a transcription of it all – hails to them for such work) About my screams, it is both a combo from throat & stomach, overtime indeed, they did change: also a good thing we are not a touring band having to be on the road for months per year. Those vocals would loose its impact at some point – right now it is fine by me, yet I could never redo vocals I used to be doing 20 years ago for instance. I do not consider myself as good or professional in my field of course, the most important to me would be to fully express what is inside and make it all out, as a performance, a bit too revealing of some inner conflicts.

 Since there are no lyrics in your records what are some of the things you sing about and what are your influences? What inspires you to create the music that you play? How does the new album cover artwork tie into the album theme?

MkM: Any lyrics I did, be it with Aosoth or any bands I worked with, have been influenced by my approach of life/death and Satanism. IV is the logical step, lyric wise, after the previous album, so those who did get to experience the reading, would get an idea of what it stands for. Artwork wise: we’ve asked each artist we worked with, to provide us their interpretation of Aosoth, after a description we would provide – so far we’ve had VERY different results and I am very satisfied with all those who took part of that graphic experience (will enclose a few example for individuals to see what has been done)

Your self titled album was only released in 2008, yet it’s out of print on cd and I would like to know, since I do not own it and would love to, are there any plans on re-releasing it onto cd any time soon?

MkM: This is new to me! I really thought that the label which released it still had some copies in stock, THR from Sweden should be contacted on this matter, I honestly have no idea on how it is handled – the wax version was done for the first press through the Ajna Offensive in the USA and has been recently repressed by Osmose production, with a cover from Kristiina Lehto (finland) also depicting Aosoth upon our description, the new lp also allows a better read when it comes to the insert, which got fucked by the pressing plant on the very first press.

Describe to us what goes into crafting a song, working out the tempos, the lyrics and phrasing.

BST: As far as the music goes, it’s always an individual work and it’s always very spontaneous. No songs are structured in advance.  I just write and record as I go, kind of like automatic writing, but with a guitar and a recording device. Then finishing touches are added with the bass player during the actual album recording.

Are you and the rest of the band friends and how do you all get along with one another? How difficult is it being in the band and having a life outside the band? How do you want to further the future sound of Aosoth?

MkM: I barely see the others at all and have never been in « contact » with any band members of any band I would have been affiliated with, We only see each other at some rehearsal and during the driving hours to get to the gigs, then I get on my own or with different people – the rest of the band has a different approach, they are more like a pack, spending time together. About the sound & future of the band : BST is the only composer and sole responsible of our evolution on that field, I only get involved in the lyrical & graphical aspect – or at least, I used to – now I will let them work that since I won’t have the time nor energy it requires any longer

Since you are placed in the Black Metal category, do you actively worship Satan and follow the laws of the Satanic Bible or is it a genre that you just play music in, not necessarily associating your belief system with Satanism?

MkM: COS is one thing & I would not limit Satanism to this – also not a matter one should discuss in the open either. And indeed: black metal = Satan.

Do your family members support what you do, even though you play a darker form of music?

BST: Mine don’t care.

MkM : I do not have contact with them since years – also getting 38, do think it’s normal not to have any contact with family and cut all ?!

Coming from France, did you grow up in a traditional French family and since the country is pretty religious did you grow up in a catholic family and is the music a rebellion towards your upbringing?

BST: Catholic church in France is not as strong as it used to be, I was raised in a semi-atheist environment, so my upbringing was never an obstacle to anything. I learnt about spirituality on my own, and for the purpose of ascension, not rebellion.

MkM: Quite a catholic background but no rebellion thing through music, I guess alcohol and drugs abuse would be more to blame then, also flesh damaging.
Do you like other forms of metal, other than Black Metal and do you go to local shows to support the scene?

MkM : From the early 90’s up to now, I used to run a fanzine, a demo tape distribution, a label (spikekult, which released vinyls and demos, including : gbk, urgrund, watain, judas iscariot, krieg…) also got involved in gig promoters and helped organizing quite a few- Also used to attend nearly all underground gigs : even up to Belgium when they wouldn’t be in the Paris area (where we live), Nowadays things are different, was without any income and in a very complicated situation for the past three years – so not able to go to Paris nor do anything related to gigs or anything. We’ve done our part I guess, and that scene is quite dying: I barely did see any new blood at recent gigs we would have performed.

How does BST manage playing all the instruments-are you self taught, how did you go about learning/wanting to play them all?

BST: I pretty much have dedicated my whole life to music or arts in general. I tend to be a little hyper active, and need to express many different ideas, and also experienced the lack of reliability of many people claiming to be musicians, in France, AND abroad. The less people you involve in a project, the less personal issues you have to manage and go around; the less disapointments you encounter in the end…

Any final thoughts/comments for our readers?

MkM: Fuckin thanks for the interview Frank and the support given to our latest album!



  1. Commented by: Guilliame

    Great Band.

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