Inside the Devil's Tomb

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Some of you may remember that one year ago my first interview with Vetis Monarch of Canada’s Weapon was published here. Following the release of Drakonian Paradigm (one of my favorite albums of 2009), it was intended to explore Monarch’s musical/lyrical world of the mystical, the occult, and the brilliantly black metal. Here we are again and Weapon has released another masterpiece in From the Devil’s Tomb, a longer, denser, and indisputably heavier affair that retains the exotic flourishes and black/thrash basis, whilst delivering the goods with an approach that bludgeons with death metal force. As such, a Weapon album will again be included in my year-end Top 10 list. Vetis Monarch offers an insider’s view of From the Devil’s Tomb.

While Drakonian Paradigm was Weapon’s first full-length album, it included a few previously recorded tracks. Was the material on From the Devil’s Tomb written entirely from scratch for this release?

We didn’t stop working on new music after Drakonian Paradigm was recorded. Two things are key here regarding the timeline. First off, we finally secured the lineup that we had been looking for since the inception of the band; secondly, I was no longer wired on heroin and other chemical drugs. Being the principal composer of the band, things just became a lot more productive with addiction out of the picture, and lo and behold, we had a whole bunch of new tunes on our hands. From The Devil’s Tomb was almost entirely written in 2009, except for a few riffs and ideas that I had been working on before.

What really hits the listener initially about From the Devil’s Tomb is how much more abrasive and pummeling it sounds compared to Drakonian Paradigm, almost with more of a death metal approach to heaviness. Was this in any way purposeful?

Absolutely. As much as we don’t try to control our sound too much, we did intend for this album to be more aggressive and as you said, abrasive and pummeling. Our death metal influences have definitely been brought to the forefront this time around, and I think it’s fair to say that we are going to explore this angle further on our next release. From The Devil’s Tomb is one of the few albums properly encapsulating the wretched union of death and black metal.

Much like its predecessor, the new album begins to reveal itself most fully after several spins, as the intricacy of the arrangements and the coloration becomes more apparent.

Weapon has never been the instant gratification sort of band. The thought, time and effort we put into our music and lyrics are things that should take repeated listens to be fully understood / enjoyed. We aren’t the most technical band out there, nor do we want to be, but this is not primitive warfago shit metal. We pride ourselves on our song-writing skills, yet it’s imperative that our own interests and gratifications are met before anyone else’s. Our music / lyrics have to challenge us, above all.

Speaking to the album’s depth, as punishing as the approach may be, the melody lines become more apparent as well, although I speak of “melody” in relative terms in this context. It is notably present on the title track and at various points throughout, subtle as it may be at times. As stated, those deep layers end up making each track more distinct and memorable than may initially be apparent.

“Melody,” “technicality,” “brutality,” et al – these are all relative terms, are they not? We have always retained a sense of catchiness and melody; in fact, those two elements are defining qualities of Weapon. On From The Devil’s Tomb, upon primary listens one may think that we have discarded melody in favor or brutality, but that is not at all the case. We are becoming better songwriters with every release and finding our own sound. It’s part of our paradigm.

Of course, instrumental “Lefthandpathyoga” stands out for its comparative somberness, complete with acoustic guitars, and is far less overwhelming in approach.

I wrote this song during the recording sessions of Drakonian Paradigm. It’s just one of those tunes that would have been butchered by adding vocals to it. The whole foundation of LHPY is that evil has no boundaries, connecting the dots of various traditions of the Left Hand Path. It also allows the listener to reflect upon the preceding intensity of “Vortex 11724” and contemplate on the upcoming assault of “The Inner Wolf.”

Incidentally, the track title of that one is rather intriguing. What light can be shed about its meaning?

We are the ones emerging from the Devil’s tomb, us who are going against the tide, dwelling in constant strife, the criminals, perverts, sociopaths, mongrels and alleged scum of the universe. The approach is similar to that of the Aghoris; embracing all that is rejected to achieve enlightenment.

The use of electric sitar, as well as the tribal-esque percussion, on “Sardonyx” is brilliant and serves the song exceedingly well, not to mention giving it more of a mystical presence.

The electric sitar and tabla combo gives this song a very sinister feel indeed; especially in contrast to the lyrics, since one may assume that it pertains to the activities of Catholic priests exclusively. No, this song points toward every child that has been defiled in God’s house, whether that’s a church, mosque, synagogue or whatever. “Sardonyx” is the personification of evil committed in the name of “good.”

There are moments on this album that bring bands like Melechesh, even Absu, to mind, particularly on “Furor Divinus” and “The Inner Wolf,” whether the approach to blackened thrash or simply a vibe.  Are you agreeable with those comparisons and have you found others reference those acts in the context of Weapon’s music?

I can attest to the comparison to Melechesh, but only regarding the use of exotic instruments. We often get compared to them and Rudra in regards to the usage of non-Western musical instruments. Not that it’s a bad thing at all, both bands are very good at what they do and we wish them all the best.

At 55 minutes, it is quite a lot to swallow for whose not previously exposed to Weapon, although the investment of time pays for itself many times over. Were you surprised at how long the album ended up being when it was all said and done or did you give any thought at all to running time?

During work on a release the running time hardly ever comes up. We originally intended for the album to have 11 songs, but someone pointed out that wouldn’t fit on one CD. At this point someone else suggested the possibility writing some more songs for a double album, but I don’t think we’re ready for that just yet. Like any great album, we believe that From The Devil’s Tomb achieves its full effect if consumed as a whole. This takes patience and dedication, traits that unfortunately most metalheads seem to lack.

As an apparent indication of the care you put into composition, the sheer number of riffs that grab one by the throat and the smartly written tempo transitions also contribute to the album’s staying power. Are you one that tends to go back and rearrange parts or even throw out riffs that just don’t work or is the process more of a natural one in that what comes out from an idea generated tends to stay?

We give songs a lot of room to breathe. It’s quite rare (but not impossible) for a song to reveal its true power immediately. In my opinion, a song should to be around for months before its strengths and weaknesses are fully realized.  In the course of writing we have done both things you outlined. Riffs are arranged, re-arranged, cut out, re-enlisted;whatever it takes to make a song that much stronger.

I absolutely love the cover artwork of Benjamin A. Vierling and find myself returning to view it much more that would typically be the case.  Were you involved to any significant degree in framing the concept prior to his creation or was the piece already finished?

Benjamin really outdid himself with this piece. The detail that is present on the cover art is nothing short of astonishing.This piece was created for us. I gave Benjamin all the lyrics for the album and some rough notes as guidelines, but there’s no way the credit can go to anyone but the man himself. He truly is a modern-day master.

Will there be vinyl and/or cassette versions of From the Devil’s Tomb at any point in the future or currently for that matter?

The vinyl version was actually out before the CD. A cassette edition might come at some point, but we are in no hurry for a purely novelty item.

Are you satisfied with the work that The Ajna Offensive has done with regard to making the music of Weapon available and/or helping to complete the package?

We don’t have any complains regarding either one of our labels. Both Ajna and Agonia have done everything they promised thus far. Sure, as smaller, indie labels their resources are limited for getting us on bigger tours, but we are still getting exposure in major magazines and music retail outlets.

Did you play many shows prior to the recording of the new album? Any notable live experiences? What about the frequency of future live gigs?

We played two shows prior to the recording of the new album; one with Mitochondrion and Gyibaaw in Vancouver and one with Behemoth in Edmonton, but even those were months before we hit the studio. The gig with Behemoth was in my opinion the best gig we have ever played; good sound, great crowd and an overwhelming response. We have never been a band to play very many local shows, and that’s not going to change. Our sights are set on touring through the continents and across the oceans.

Has work already begun, even just conceptually, on the next Weapon release?

Yes. We are always working on new tunes, and things are moving at a steady pace for the next release, whenever that may be. But as I said, our primary focus is on touring now.

Original band photo by Chris Slack


  1. Commented by: vugelnox

    good interview. one of the best albums of 2010!

  2. Commented by: Biff_Tannen

    Great interview, great band, great album ! Glad to hear that he kicked the heroin habit so the band will hopefully be around for many years to come !

  3. Commented by: Ancients

    What an amazing album this is! Weapon is truly a force to be reckoned with nowadays.

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