14 August 2017


I was hooked to AKATHARTA ever since I heard the first song, like a dark jewel unexpectedly found, Spiritus Immundus became one of my favorite albums so far this year. The funeral doom, the creepy sound and the whole concept led me to contact legendary vocalist Kam Lee, to inquire more about this mesmerazing, macabre ghost...

AKATHARTA started in 1999, under a different name (URIZEN) and with the strong influence of funeral doom bands like Thergothon and Skepticism, when did you get into those bands and why exactly decided to start a project to play this kind of music?
KAM: I started listening a lot of Funeral Doom bands from Finland and really getting into the dark foreboding atmosphere these bands where conveying in their style of music. I really adhered to this type of dark moody slow atmospheric tones and heavy low tuned droning music rather then the way the black metal stuff and the way death metal was going.
The name AKATHARTA appeared then in 2007, how did the meaning and concept of AKATHARTA appealed to you and how did this new concept developed into a transition from URIZEN to AKATHARTA?
URIZEN was taking from William Blake, but it's meaning is the embodiment of conventional reason and law. I didn't feel it really fit with what I wanted convey. I study a lot of mythology and while studying about Greek myth I came across the term Akathartos, which means to be unclean. Further study I came to learn the term pneuma akatharton. Which translate to English as unclean spirit. The plural form of that term is pneumata akatharta. That is from which I took the name AKATHARTA. It means to be unclean or "evil"... in other forms it could mean to be "one without god". I felt this fit much better then Urizen as a name, as it conveyed the entire sense of the band in both lyrical content and personal content as well.
What does the lyrics deal with? is there an overall theme to the songs on “Spiritus Immundus”, or do they each discuss different topics?
The over all theme is about the paranormal. Phantasms and specters. Ghostly apparitions. Curses and grudges held by the dead, demonic entities. The supernatural.
Was it difficult to find suitable musicians like Aaron and Travis and to explain and share with them your idea and concept?
Yes... very difficult actually, it took me nearly a decade to find the right members. I went thru many member changes thru out the years.
Mainly because most of the musicians weren't familuar with the style of music called 'Funeral Doom'. It is a style and form of music that can't be faked. It can not just be something someone just plays. One has to feel this type of music. It is a form that must convey mood and atmosphere and be very thought out. Not just something randonly thrown together to creat a song. It's not like death metal or thrash were people just loop and layer parts together. This is something that must be felt and thought out. Like experiencing the dreadfulness and eerieness of being alone in a cemetary at night with only the moonlight to light your path.
You stated that you didn’t want to just copy the style of the bands that influenced Akatharta, but to keep the death metal roots present in the music, was it easy to get the sound and style from the first rehersals?
Once I started working close with Aaron on the tone and vibe of the music... it clicked rather quickly. Aaron was bringing the perfect tone and atmosphere and guitar playing I had been seeking for years. Also like myself Aaron is a huge horror movie fan, so I could easily articulate to him my expression of horror and atmosphere by telling him about certain horror films that influenced me and my lyrical writing... and he would know exactly which films I was expressing. Also Travis too is a huge horror movie fan as well... and when you have members that know the type of horror films you like, and also like those same films... it was easy to start working out the tones and feelings of the music. What I tried to bring from my death metal influence is the old school vibe of death metal with more chorus intergrated parts and a somewhat catchy vibe. I'm an old school death metaller as well as a fan of the old school late 80's early 90's bands and style - so that will always be with-in me.
I think that many people may believe that funeral doom can be monotonous or too boring, looong songs and not many rhythm changes, when you compose the songs do you think that they have to have a specific length or do you just play the riffs, melodies and just let the dark vibe flow…
I allow Aaron the freedom to write however long and length he feel to express himself. No limitations. We did not specifically set a certain pattern around other Funeral Doom bands, but rather just took the influence of the style as a spring board to launch our own band. I am a genre creator myself in death metal, I didn't feel i would be creating yet another genre of music. Sadly music needs a tag or a label to be put into a catagory with. Funeral Doom just happens to be the style and form which we best adhere towards rather then being a death metal or death doom band.
A lot of bands use the term dark music to describe it, but I think this record is a dark entity itself and the term dark music has the ultimate meaning. How would you describe the whole musical concept/experience of Spiritus Immundus once the album is finished?
I guess the best way I would describe it is "HAUNTING DOOM"... it's something that unnerves and sticks with you like a haunting. Some people it effects more so then others... it's uncanny and dark and surreal but also creepy and dreamlike.
What inspired the album cover art concept?
Another term for Pnuemata besides meaning "sprirt" or "ghost"- it can also mean "breath". In Greek pneumata means "to breath" or at least I think it does in someway. Breath is what some ancient cultures believe is a spirit. In some occult beliefs the spirit leaves the body thru the breath. That is why in some cultures they place salt in the mouths of the dead people they thought to be evil. This way it would not allow "the evil spirit" to escape the body.
In China - evil spirits feed upon a persons "qi" or life force... usually taken from the breath. The Jiangshi (a form of Chinese Vampire) sucks out a persons qi from their mouth. Also the Jiangshi can find you if you breath.
The concept of this art is the spirits of an evil ghost are forming out of it's mouth/breath and forming other evil unclean spirits. The Spiritus Immundus... or the pnemata akatharta.
Please tell me also about the other artwork related to the band, the wonderful design of your logo; and I´m specifically intrigued about that long haired ghost-spectre-demon under a full moon holding “something” with both hands…
Well  Lord Of Logos Christophe Szpajdel (Emperor, Old Man's Child, Enthroned, etc) did the logo back when i still didn't even have a solid line up. He was more then excited to do it for me, and I am very very pleased indeed with his majestic work.
The Ghost figure was done by the cover artist Irwan Awang of Ironworx Gravfix. He is an artist from Malaysia that I've been wrorking with for many years now. He was the one who designed and drew the logo for one of my other death metal bands BONE GNAWER. he has done several of my bands cover art, from BONE GNAWER to THE SKETEAL and he himself is in a band called DEATHEVOKER. Really great artist.
The Ghost is a Hantu... a Malaysian Demon or Evil Spirit. This particullr Hantu is a pocong, also known as wrapped ghost. It is an Indonesian/Malaysian ghost that is said to be the soul of a dead person trapped in its shroud. It is holding a small infants burial coffin in it's hands.
I want to echo your mention that an important fact does not go unnoticed, “AKATHARTA is one of the first ever bands to use current E.V.P.s (Electronic Voice Phenomena) in our recordings”.  Tell me how you came up with the idea of using it and the concrete history of that E.V.P.
I was watching a lot of these "Ghost Shows" on t.v. and some of them had these supposedly EVPs spirit voices recordings in some episodes. I tend to think it's all fake, but I honestly thought some of the voices where a bit freaky and even hair raising spooky. I got to thinking how cool it would be to use these samples in songs and try and work those in as sort of background sounds and eerie parts. So I started to compile the best and creepiest ones I could find. It seems a lot of these sounds can't be heard by the human ear, but certain animals can pick up on the more higher frequency ones. I used a lot of those in the tracks, most are heard on a subconscious level rather then on a conscious level.
You had plans for a video clip, and you had the idea of a horror film movie clip type video, I think it will be great and would fit with your songs, did you work with more ideas in your mind?  Any chance to see it soon?
We had a video planned, but the guy that was to make it flaked out on us. Seems to happen a lot - you get people in this scene with a bunch of bullshit and fake promises that never follw thru. I was very disappointed in this NOT coming to pass... makes us look flakey and I HATE that. It's why I hate to rely on others... as soon as you do... some cunt always disappoints.
Will the album be released on vinyl in a near future? 
We were hoping it would be, but that depends on the sales, and if the label wants to do it. The way it's going though, seems the physical sales aren't doing so good. So I don't know if the label will release it on vinyl or not.
You recorded Celtic frost´s “Dethroned Emperor” and Twisted Sister´s “Destroyer” cover versions. Both original songs are great but you added a veil of darkness to the songs perfectly wrapped by your own style and sound. What were the reasons for with you chose the songs and what´s your own description of the final result? Will you record more cover songs in the future?  
We basically started out making those covers first actually. And we had one original in between... that original is PNEUMATA. They covers at first were just done for fun - to get the band working together and making music with a certain tone and feeling, and to test out our producer Dennis Isreal to hear what kind of mix he could bring us. That was basically the original intent to do the covers. We never had intention at first to release them at all. Until we heard the final results and realized just how good they sounded. At first we just released them for FREE online through our bandcap page... generally to gain exposure and get the band notced. It worked, but just in a small circle. I guess we aren't "trendy" enough for most "trending now" fans and their type. We have an underground following, but it's even more obscure then most undeground bands.
Tell us about the collaboration of David Ingram doing vocals on the “Destroyer” cover
We all have a pretty tight group of individuals we all know and do music together with. I myself along with Aaron and Travis, Rogga Johansson, Jonny Petterson, David Ingram, Brynjar Helgenton, and many others all do bands together and other projects together. It's sort of our own unique clique and group of fellow musicians that work together and make "recording projects" together. I have appeared as guest vocals on many of David's projects and vise versa. It's in our own unique way in how we stay relevant to each other, support one another, and maintain a respectful and dedicated working environment with each other and our fans.
We aren't those types of selfish "rock star" types of musicians, instead we all adhere to the old school TRUE underground way of a respectful brotherhood and true fellowship. I knew at one point David with Benediction had done this cover, and I wanted him to be on our version as well. It was a great honor to have him join us on this great cover track. I hope together we made it sound cool.
Besides the obvious technological advances and new communication networks, what would you say is the main difference between nowadays Black and Death Metal scene compared to the one in the 80s and 90s? What do you miss most from the old days?
I miss the respect and brotherhood of the underground scene. What we have now is rather a "clique" and "elitist group" type of mentality that get's sadly mistaken for be a brotherhood/sisterhood in the scene, but really is rather just another pretentious group of people with attitudes and something to try and prove to one another. You have too much separation and lack of camaraderie, instead you have these closed groups who believe they are superior because they happen to know each other" and sheepishly follow each other in these tight little cliques that circle around certain bands. labels, or individuals.
Jock mentality dominates the scene with these bands today with this entire competitive attitude rather then a shared respect for each other. Too much division has been created. Too many sub-categories and sub-genres. And too many bands that display themselves as a "brand name" and a "commodity" rather then a music group. They think themselves as product and as material and as items rather then just musicians. to them it's a paycheck and a job rather then a true way of life.
Please allow me to ask you about two of your other bands/projects, first about your solo material released as “Kam Lee”,  of which until now you have released several demos and singles, I imagine that an evil grin was on your face every time someone said...hey, this is not pure death metal... Do you think a lot of people did not expect that style coming from you? I suppose you received a lot of diversity of comments and reviews but most pleasantly surprised, didn't you?
If people hated it they kept it to themselves really... I think I may have one shit comment. But I don't fucking care what people think. I'm past the point of caring trying to appease closed minded cunts and elitist twats in this scene, most of those types are lonely shut ins with blow up doll girlfriends and dick pumps under the beds.
The solo band for me generally is just for FUN. I have been doing death metal releases for over 30 years. When I decided to do my own solo band, I didn't want to do just another death metal project, but instead incorperate the styles that had influenced me back in the 80's. Esp. bands like Misfits, Samhain, early Danzig, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, The Ramones, The Sisters of Mercy, Carnivore, Feilds of the Nephilim, 45 Grave, Discharge, The Exploited, The Cramps... just a bunch of stuff from my teenage days in the 80's really.
Regarding the return of Massacre, now as Massacre X (which is an exciting new), do you believe that it's possible to re-create such an extremely raw and brutal atmosphere of “The Second Coming” or… “From Beyond”, even if the deep rooted spirit is still alive nowadays?
You must be out of touch with news as this is NOT happening (Damn, fuck, shit! - Chris).  The band that was to be Massacre X is no more. We had gone thru 6 months of legal battles and disputes, until finally we had to change the name entirely to Gods of Death... but even that incarnation has split up. Rick and I with the other members did write and record two songs: "Dead Man's Scream" & "Return to the Caves of Abomination", both those tracks were meant to be released as a single. However, no label was ever confirmed for the release, and the bassist and drummer quit for personal reasons, although now drummer Mike Mazz has been working occasionally with Rick to write new material. 
I refuse to linger and wait, and so I continue forwards with my own adventures. If something more SOLID can be attained by Rick and company I may consider to return, but it would have to be something worth while to return to. Let us just say for me... it's on hiatus at this time.
Taking into account your answer, what do you think about Possessed recording a new album and what do you expect from that record?
I think it's pretty cool. I respect Jeff and hope him the best for his endeavors. I suspect it to be pretty damn good. I anticipate it.
When you were debating with your colleagues about “Illud Divinum Insanus”, you were among those who argued that it is a good record or, you were on the other side…among those who were right? ;) 
I honestly do not have an opinion about it. As I don't own it nor bothered with buying it. I may have heard a few parts of tracks from it... but what I heard really wasn't my taste. I think what Trey has going NOW with Morbid Angel is pretty solid and I only hope the best for the future of the band.
Which of the classic good old bands still sound in your music player more frequently?
The only band I still listen to is frequently is Celtic Frost. Just something about that band. Hell I even really like Tryptikon a lot (Tryptikon fucking rules!! - Chris).
If you had the opportunity to represent a character in the remake of an old movie (or get into the skin of the original character), which character would you like to play? 
That's actually a hard one. I love so many great horror films and action films... I don't ever see myself in any specific role. I would like to be in a certain genre film such as a good horror films or a Hong Kong Action type of flick. I wouldn't mind portraying a hidious cannibal fiend or some sort of creature character in a film.
What is the strangest and the most shocking place you have been?
In my head.
Tell us about the future of Akatharta and also about what your next activities and projects will be
AKATHARTA is curently working on new materail - I'm considering releasing soon a special E.P. (Mini-CD disc) that will come included in a comic book I plan on writing and perhapes doing a pin art for. I want to have some other pro/semi pro comic arist do the art. It is an idea I have had for awhile now... I just need to find the best way to approuch it, and the expense it would be. As I want to be able to release this myself with my new label DEATHVOKILL RECORDS. Which is my own record label. I hope to be doing more DOOM with AKATHARTA and will keep pushing this band.
Ok that´s it, it´s been an honor, thanks for your time. Is there anything you would like to add to end this interview?
Thanks for the interview. I will be releasing my solo KAM LEE compliation CD "Of Dread & DEATH" on a co-release with my label DEATHVOKILL RECORDS and SLEEPLESS BEAST RECORDS... this will be a very limited release to ONLY 100 copies. It should be coming out around HALLOWEEN time 2017. I hoping to have this be the flagship launch to my new label. So I hope fans really help support it. Also I am working on another new album (our 4th one) for THE GROTESQUERY, as well as a new project/band called NATTRAVNEN, and a band called TROIKADON with death metal legends vocalist David Ingram and Karl Willits... and hopefully a new one for BONE GNAWER come the begining of next year! So i plan on being busy for some time to come, and I hope my fans and friends will be there with me to enjoy the Death - Doom and Metal to come!!

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