Paradigm Shift

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Vetis Monarch – vocalist/guitarist/leader of Canada’s Weapon – is a thoughtful sort and one whose art cannot simply be explained by alter ego\ or the commonly accepted conventions of artistic expression. Weapon is his living, breathing personification. Taking a far deeper philosophical approach to concept/lyrical development, Monarch’s worldview is somewhat atypical for black metal in that it is based not on a Christian, and ultimately anti-Christian background, making the exploration of Satanic philosophies far more refreshing. But it is the music of Drakonian Paradigm that sucked me right in and kept me coming back for more, making the album an immediate 2009 Top 10 selection in the waning weeks of the year. Black metal at its core, yet not solely traditional in a tremolo-picked and blast-beaten sense, Drakonian Paradigm brilliantly mixes in elements of thrash, death, and even traditional metal, in the process creating memorable songs and varied arrangements all wrapped up in the kind of palpable genuineness and sinister atmosphere that is lacking on so many BM releases. And now to answer my feebly probing questions, I give you Vetis Monarch.

Talk a bit about the formation of Weapon in 2003. Specifically, what was your vision of the band, where did you form geographically, who was involved, etc?

As far as the musical component was concerned, I simply wanted to hear music that I wasn’t hearing from other bands. I found the late 90s to be very uninspired and boring for Death / Black Metal, but in the early 2000s a handful of bands emerged that had rekindled the fire, so to speak. This is also connected to the ideological component; when Satanic, occult and death-worship elements were replaced by racial politics and weather reports, the art form lost much of its integrity and malicious intent. In other words, Weapon was formed both out of selfish and obligatory reasons.

Calgary, a dead end city in western Canada, is where I formed the band. Up until the recording of the demo tape a handful of people came and went, none of them who are even worth mentioning; Nohttzver (ex-drummer) was the first real member other than myself.

What about the decision to name the band Weapon, the selection of which has a much deeper meaning than simply random word choice (from what I can tell anyway)?

The choice of the word ‘weapon’ is infernally inspired, indeed. It is in lieu with my religious beliefs as a Satanist; my work serves as an observation, a testament and a tool for my Lord – a complete weapon. Additionally, I have always found one-word band names to be more effective for long-term damage – names like Venom, Slayer, Blasphemy, Mayhem, Mortem ,etc hardly need any explanation.

Your life journey did not begin in Alberta, but much farther east, so to speak. Please discuss your background and how the religious environment to which you were exposed may have shaped your views of spirituality and the subsequent conveyance of such in the lyrics of Drakonian Paradigm.

I witnessed firsthand both the fallacies and mysteries of Islam. Bangladesh is not a Muslim country, but the majority of the people living there are Muslims, followed by Hindus. A fair amount of prejudice is directed towards the latter – anybody with a vested interest in what happens around the world will know what I am referring to here. Anyway, from an early age I had an attraction towards the non-dualist Hindu frame of mind, party because of the rebellious factor of going against the grain, and partly due to the terrifying image of Kali embedded in me.

The ever-growing interest in Satanism and the occult took me beyond the LP covers and lyrics of bands I grew up listening to. Very little knowledge about such subjects can be found in the Metal world. My primary focus nowadays is on making securing the link between different Left Hand Path traditions and further enriching their inherent similarities; Drakonian Paradigm is just the beginning of that journey.

By the way, do you enjoy the country of Canada and the province of Alberta, even the cold?

It’s a country with certain benefits and privileges, but at the same time, the so-called laws of modern society are much more prevalent here. So it has its advantages and disadvantages. In third world countries it’s a much easier to stay involved in crime, etc.

What about support for the heavier side of music in your neck of the woods?

I truly have no interest in the activities of other bands, whether that’s in my neck of the woods or thousands of miles away. Words like ‘scene,’ ‘metal community,’ ‘support,’ etc no longer have any significance for me. It’s not that I think that such activities are right or wrong, that’s not the point; I simply do not care.

Drakonian Paradigm is Weapon’s first full length. Previously you had a demo tape and two EPs. Has any of the music on these previous releases been re-recorded on Drakonian Paradigm? What was the rationale for releasing EPs in the past, as opposed to waiting to release a full-length album?

Three songs from the previous EPs were included on Drakonian Paradigm. Demo tapes and 7”s are just mere tastes of what’s to come. Those songs were always intended to be part of the debut album. Aside from the fact that I was in no rush to release an album, I wanted to hone the craft and test the waters. Simple as that.

A cassette version of Drakonian Paradigm will be released through InCoffin Productions. Was it your decision to do this? How much of a demand is there for cassette releases in the underground?

I think there’s more of a demand nowadays more than say, even 10 years ago. It’s purely for the sake of novelty though. Anything that happens within Weapon is my decision – very little is left to chance. I just like the idea of the album being available in every format possible.

Tell me about the album title, Drakonian Paradigm. Does it tie into an overall lyrical album theme?

The lyrics are there for the readers if they truly wish to understand why we chose to call the album Drakonian Paradigm. I don’t like explaining every nuance because that eliminates a lot of the mystique for the audience. But I can tell you that most certainly the title ties in with the entire Weapon concept. A Satanist’s existence should be one of strife and victory and challenging oneself. Severe, draconian!

As for the music of Drakonian Paradigm, I found that the manner in which you take a black metal base and mix bits of traditional, thrash, and death metal to be quite unique. I assume this is not necessarily a conscious thing. Talk about the Weapon “sound,” including any personal musical influences that may have had an impact on it.

I think this is the part we worry about the least as a band. The song writing process doesn’t get any more complex than keeping the riffs / arrangements we like and discarding all that we don’t. Our foundation is deeply rooted in (but not limited to) bands like Mayhem, Deicide, Von, Morbid Angel, Mystifier, Samael, Entombed, Mortuary Drape, Sadistik Exekution, Master’s Hammer, Immolation, Bolt Thrower, etc.

There are a lot of “little” things and accents that really add depth to the album, not the least of which are the use of some rather unique backing vocals, especially those used on “Serpentine Ayat,” perhaps my favorite song on the album. The same goes for the backing shouts on “Mortem Pyre.” You also deftly incorporate the use of grand piano, synthesizer, and sitar.

As long as the ‘non-metal’ instruments are not used as a gimmick, anything is possible. But as fantastic as some of these little elements can be, it’s a painstaking process. Only when the song has been around for a significant of time can one truly be able to hear the accents with full clarity. Additionally, these don’t always work so well with tight budgets and deadlines.

Perhaps even more impressive is the manner in which the diverse parts flow so seamlessly together, making the album a complete listening experience. How much thought went into this aspect of the writing and recording?

Roughly four years were spent in realizing this album. I knew exactly what I wanted with Drakonian Paradigm and save for the final production that you hear, I am satisfied with every aspect of this record.

The artwork and booklet is particularly well done. Please tell me a bit about its development.

The Ajna boss introduced me to B. Vierling. My first criteria for the artist was that I did not want a standard metal guy who would come guns blazing with steroid goats, whips and decapitated messiah heads. Like everything else with my work I wanted an artist above the masses.

Mr. Vierling requested to obtain copies of all the lyrics to understand where I was coming from. I then explained to him that what I wanted was a Seal and sent him a very rough sketch of what I had in mind. Thereby Mr. Vierling created this brilliant piece we now know as Signvm Armorvm.

Pardon my ignorance, but what is meant by “the Chakra is Signvm Armorvm?”

‘Signm Armorvm’ is Latin for ‘Seal of Weapon.’ I like the interplay of the Sanskrit and Latin; our wheel and our essence the seal of the Lord.

How did the deal for the worldwide release through The Ajna Offensive come to be?

We were in touch with each other back when Weapon was signed to Full Moon Productions. I have always admired Ajna’s work ethic of putting quality over quantity and they felt that Weapon’s music and ideology was perfect for their roster. It was inevitable.

What does 2010 hold for Weapon?

We are going to play some more (select) shows and continue writing new music. If all goes according to plan, a tour may happen.

www.weaponchakra.com

www.myspace.com/weaponchakra

Comments

  1. Commented by: slimylimey

    Very nice interview Scott. Vugelnox is probably in the bathroom with a box of kleenex as we speak.

    I’m still working my way through this album – hasn’t quite clicked for me yet.


  2. Commented by: vugelnox

    kleenexs?! you insult me slimy, everyone knows a sock works best. ;-)

    and good interview, one of my favorite releases from this year. I doubt I’ll ever get to see them live as they seem like the type of band to play out very infrequently but maybe that will change.


  3. Commented by: slimylimey

    Then the fact that Weapon are doing a concert with Mitochondrion should make you go through your whole sock drawer!


  4. Commented by: vugelnox

    ay THAT would be a show I’d love to be at!


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