25 January 2021


Avant-gard doom metal, death metal, folk/doom…VÖLUR is all of that and much more. Their fourth full-length Death Cult is a superb album and one of the highlights of 2020. I got in touch with Lucas Gadke for the following interview to find out more about this unique band.

The Lineup of Völur consist of Lucas Gadke (bass, piano, organ, harmonium, sythesizer), Laura C. Bates (violin, viola, synthesizer, vocals) and Justin Rupper (drums percussion, synthesizer, vocals. Greetings Lucas, please tell me about the begining of Völur. How did the band members met?

Laura and I met a long while ago in music school studying jazz. A few years later we graduated we ended up in the back up band for a folk singer-songwriter. On our long drives across Ontario we shared our mutual love of heavy and weird music and Völur was born. Initially we were a noise two-piece, but the vision grew to be a trio with James Payment of DoMakeSayThink. After 5 years together, we split ways with James and brought on Justin Ruppel who was able to add a bit more of a jazz flair into our sound.

How did you end up choosing VÖLUR for your band's name? Please tell me about its meaning

Völur is one of the renderings of the plural form of the word völva which means seeress or priestess in Old Icelandic. It’s known to us most famously from the poem, the Völuspa from the Poetic Edda and is the story of Odin visiting the gates of Hel to learn about the history and fate of the world. He seeresses also have a poetic relation to weaving and fate. And to me music and doom are tied up in fate and weaving lines of melody and harmony

Did you have any concept in your mind about how the band had to be even before you wrote any music?

I wanted to make music about myths and mythology that focused not on any sort of specific imagined past or an idea of heroism, but on the feelings that one gets when they read ancient literature. Things like the Icelandic sagas or even the Shahnameh of Iran have a kind of uncanny feeling to them that is both unfamiliar and intensely human. I wanted to draw upon those emotions and translate them into music.

In 2014 you recorded your first Demo “Disir”. Looking back, what do you think of the demo and the potential that the band had?

I was happy to get that released and have us be picked up by prophecy. Ultimately. I think maybe I was too interested in minimalist music at the time, but I’m proud of it and I’m proud of the potential that band has in bringing together dissonance and harmony.

What can you tell about the recording of your first LP? Was it easy to find the sound you were looking for and the right formula to record? Have you followed the same formula since then or have you changed in later recordings?

Time is always the enemy in recording, especially for smaller bands. Always I’d like to have more time to explore sounds, especially since I have to play in a room with the band live off the floor and I can’t do the piecemeal/one track at a time kind of recording, it just doesn’t work for me. The only formula is work with tones, get a good bed track down and then overdub until the vision seems correct. Laura like to actually bring in spreadsheets and attack with a careful and thorough consideration (even with cells that are dedicated to experimentation). I’ve spent a lot of time in the studio and all I can say once again is that time and budgets are the enemy.

Völur has been a very active band. Since, if I’m not mistaken, you have eight releases, counting demo, singles, ep and full-lengths. That speaks of the effort you put into the band and also about a great creative capacity. I'm curious to know what your writing process is like...

Well, we had a big gap and over the course of the years we’ve hit many road bumps in releasing things but yes we’ve put out a good amount of material. Mostly the writing is done by one of the members of the band and the song or piece is brought in incomplete. We tend to jam a lot. When the world isn’t suffering from a global pandemic we would rehearse once a week with a focus on writing new stuff or tweaking current pieces. Play again and again, jam on it and refine the small movements and details. Before I talked about wanting to overdub and overdub but it’s very important to us to make the song playable live as is

Volur released two records in this 2020, the first one was “Veiled City” released earlier this year. Conceptually it's based on Tolkien's Silmarillion and musically it has a different vibe compared to the Death Cult. How would you describe the EP and what are your feelings towards it?

I was happy to release it! It’s part of an ongoing series we’re working on called “die Sprachen Der Vögel,” (The Languages of Birds) they will all be short EPs with a focus on collaboration with other artists across the spectrum of genres. We have two others that we’re just finishing up. They’re intended to be Lo-Fi and released on cassette. We released Veiled City early without physical because we thought people would dig having something new to listen to at the beginning of lockdown. I’m happy with how it turned out, we got our good friend Michael Eckert to play pedal steel guitar on it and kind of fused together Corrupted, Earth and weird black metal. I also got to do a riff in 15/4 which always feels good.

The second release was your third full-length through Prophecy Productions. How happy are you with how “Death Cult” has turned out, in terms of how it sounds but also in terms of how it looks. Could you possibly share with us few details of the recording process, studio time etc.?

We got our friend Alia O’Brien of our sister band Blood Ceremony to produce it with and she contributes some of the vocals on it as well. We went back to Lincoln County Social club in Toronto with our good friend John Dinsmore. He’s not a “metal guy” so it can be easy to work with him as he has no pre-conceived notions about the genre of music. It’s very freeing to work with him.

I’m very proud of the record, I think it’s the most focused and best sounding thing we’ve done to date and really draws together all of our various influences.

Tell me about the cover art of “Death Cult”, How is it related to the music and how should one integrate the two?

Our lovely artist Marie Cherniy produced the image for us with basic total creative freedom. We just sent her the demos and she made this wonderful image of the moon rising over an idol in the forest. I love that it’s an earthy look and it speaks to the organic nature of the sound. I believe as best you can, the cover should reflect the sound inside.

Is always the artwork created specifically to accompany the music? What do you take into account when choosing a cover design for the album?

I always choose an artist to work with first.

How would you describe the evolution of the band, would you say that Death Cult is your most mature and solid work so far?

I would say that.

Many bands use or have used the violin as a "complementary" instrument, but in Völur it has a key importance and a leading role in their music. I would like to know about Laura's influences and about her personal vision of the violin in Völur´s music.

Laura’s musical life is a long and complicated one. From jazz to post-rock to metal to folk. She is very happy to have an upfront and supporting role in the band. We want to show that the electric violin is flexible. That if you have a violin it doesn’t have to sound like pirate metal. For years the violin was the main instrument of the avant-garde - think of Berg’s beautiful violin concerto. I think we want to bring back some of that, but also it’s role as a support or rhythm instrument. Laura’s specific instrument is actually a 6-string and has two lower strings - a C and an F making it actually somewhere between a viola and a cello in range so she can do a lot with it.

Is there an overall theme to the songs on Death cult? Could you tell me about the lyrical content of each song on the album?

Death Cult is like 4 variations on a theme inspired by Tactius’s Germania. The Roman ethnographer writing in the first century aimed to describe the habits and lives of all the tribes living across the Rhine. Unfortunately he never went there himself, so the stories and descriptions often vere into fanciful hearsay. One passage describes a ritual practiced in a forest grove by a lake where an idol of the Earth Goddess Nerthus is ritually bathed by four slaves who are then drowned. This passage has always haunted me and led to a myriad of interpretations and themes. What is the meaning of ritual? The meaning of mother Earth? Do these things have any effect. Somewhere in there is the idea of a never ending ritual of absolution to our mother, the earth, that has absolutely no effect.

Who writes the lyrics? What are your sources of inspiration and the main topics that interest the band members? Lucas said that he was a big fan of Tolkien and was one of the first inspiring themes.

Tolkien has always been an inspiration but for this album the lyrics came from Tacitus and also my thoughts on the environment, politics and capitalism and the broader green movement. The sacrifice of the four slaves, in my mind can be seen as a wasted gesture to Mother Earth while the fires of industry rage on. In “Inviolate Grove” I sing of a god of ash with eyes of gold and blood of rime.” To me this is the death face of capital and industry and environmental destruction. The practitioners of the Nerthus ritual wish to appease Mother Earth, but it has no effect and therefore we are stuck in a never ending cult of death.

Your music has sometimes been labeled as folk metal, sometimes doom metal, doom death metal, I guess it will depend mostly on the perception of the listener, but how would you describe your music?

Honestly I’m not too interested in genre classifications. We’re definitely a metal band and we have some folk and some avant-garde. But I’d rather be thought of as a musical entity that has a voice. We have a weird experimental EP and folk EP in the bag. People can call it what they want and I don’t mind, but I’m not going to try and BE something for the sake of a genre, especially a micro-genre.

I really dig the video clip of the song “Inviolate Grove”, where besides the band performing we can also see some intriguing footage. Can you comment about the concept of the video?

I wasn´t involved in the creation of the concept so I don´t really have much to say about it.

Recently you gave thanks for the Support of the Canada council for the arts, can you tell about that collaboration?

Well, the collaboration is fully monetary. CAC is a branch of the government of Canada that endows artists with funds to complete their projects. We recorded demos, submitted a proposal and were very thankful to be approved and receive some funding. It allowed us to take time with mixing and to get a really good job done on the mastering. WE’ve been very fortunate.

How do you feel playing live? Correct me if I´m wrong but you have played in a wide range of shows embracing different music styles such as folk, metal and classical. You even played several acoustic shows, so I guess it must be a very enjoyable and enriching experience.

I love playing live! Everything for me comes down to the live performance. I’m proud of our records, but I think our live performance is where we shine. If people have never heard of us and don’t know what to expect, even better.

What has been the best tour or show you have ever done?

We played a festival in Sturgis, South Dakota (the recent site of a massive “Bikers for Trump” rally, actually!) called Stygian Rites. Sitting a big, gawdy American biker bar on the giant Dakota plane and playing to a bunch of midwestern punks was so much fun. And not to brag, but we really took some heads off. Nobody knew who we were, really and we played on of our best shows. It felt great.

With which bands did you like to share the stage the most and with which bands would you like to play?

1476 are our boys and we’ll never forget the magical tour we had (even though it was tragically cut short by me breaking a rib). As for who I’d like to tour with, I don’t know… Iron Maiden?

What are your upcoming shows/tour plans?? How is the situation in your area regarding covid-19 restrictions?

We have no plans. Ontario is having a really bad time with thousands of cases and a poorly implemented lockdown in the face of pressure from greedy and uncaring corporations and workplaces who care more about their profits than people’s health and well being as well as a government that only serves the interests of business. We don’t even really feel safe jamming right now so we haven’t done it in a while.

So no shows, no jams, kind of a bummer really.

What´s the strangest place and the most shocking place you have been?

Playing the Balver Höhle in Germany at Prophect Fest 2016 was pretty wild - because it was a giant cave!

What does de future hold for Völur?

What does the future hold for anyone anymore? Hopefully cases will go down, we’ll get vaccinated and we can start playing again. WE’ll release a folk EP by the summer Im sure though.

Thanks you for your time. All the best for you and Völur

18 January 2021


IESCHURE is like a dark and powerful spell, cast with as much strenght and passion as its music reflects. Lilita Arndt is the mastermind of this one-woman black metal entity who has kindly answered the following questions. Enter The Shadow...

Hi Lilita, how did you find out about Heavy Metal and later on about Black Metal?

I began to listen to Metal music when I was a teenager. I listened to that bands that were very popular that days. Later I became more interested in true underground music and this path led me to Black Metal.

Before IESCHURE you had an acoustic project called Embrace of Hedera. The project is dead now but if I´m not wrong “The Castle on the rolling hill” is available on tape again. What can you tell about the concept and music of Embrace Of Hedera?

It is my old acoustic project that by its concept is far away from Ieschure. I created that songs during 2007-2011 and recorded in 2015. They were released as the split and then separately on CD. Recently Ephemeric Productions offered me to re-release it on cassettes with the new design. I found that it was a good idea. Embrace Of Hedera is a melancholic dark romantic music of acoustic guitar and clean female vocal.

IESCHURE was born five years ago, what was on your mind when you started it?

I wanted to create my own Black Metal music where I could be a mastermind.

How did you end up choosing IESCHURE? Can you tell about its meaning?

The meaning of word IESCHURE is related to occult things and the meaning of this word is realy important only for me. I choose this word after the whole album The Shadow was finished.

Who designed your cool logo? Tell me about the symbolism of the snakes and also about the winged mermaids that sometimes accompany it.

The logo was designed by my friend Sergiy Fjordsson from Moloch. A Serpent is a very deep symbolIt is impossible to write all about it in the interview. It’s an entity which can give power and wisdom but also brings death and damnation. It is related to reptilian brain, the oldest part of human brain responsible for primitive instincts. The basis of life and the duel force which stays closely to the demonic worlds.

All feminine images I use for Ieschure are about the dark side of female nature. Also they embody the idea of Darkness as it is.

In 2017 you recorded your first full length The Shadow, how do you look at it now

I think it is a good work and I put my soul and passion into this album.

There is a wide range of sounds and styles on the album like elements of old school black metal, doom metal, ambient…What were your musical influence? What are the records that inspired you the most?

I listen to various kinds of music not only Black Metal. But I think that the main influence on my ptoject was made by Burzum. I think that his music embodies the ideas of misantropy and loneliness in the best way. I like very much early Urfaust and Behexen with the raw black metal sound. Also I was impressed Rotting Christ, My Dying Bride,  Opeth.

I was amazed by your vocal performance, not only for the great mix of powerful and harsh screams with melodic clean voice, but also because I found your vocals very theatrical and expressive. Are you influenced by any particular singer or style?

For screaming I was influenced by vocals of classical Black Metal bands. For clean vocals I get inspiration from not Black Metal music: Battle Of Mice - the album “A Day of Nights” (my favourite female vocal) and Kidneythieves.

Do you have a favorite song from the album?

All songs from the “Shadow”are my favorite ones.

Is there any concept running through The Shadow?

Yes. This concept can be easly understood when you look into the booklet of “The Shadow” (release of 2017 year by Iron Bonehead Prod.) I used the images from Tarot to each song. The pictures characterize the essence of every song of the album. In general whole “The Shadow” is about Death and Darkness, about Occult Path in the Labirinth of human life.

What philosophies, ideologies, or literary works have contributed most significantly to the thematic content of your lyrics?

I read a lot of literature. The biggest influence on me have the ideas of A. Crowley and G. Gurdjieff.

How did the deal with iron bonehead initially come about?

I was looking for a label to release “The Shadow” and wrote to Iron Bonehead with request for release.

My other releases (two EPs) were released by another labels. Also «The Shadow» was recently re-released by Hammer Of Damnation with another cover art and together with additional two tracks from «Cold stars of eternity».

You´ve been busy last year delivering two releases, the first one being cold stars of eternity. I was instantly enchanted by the title track, but both tracks are very atmospheric and melodic, yet full of rawness and despair. Very focused on guitars and expressive and varied vocals and no drums. Please tell me your personal vision and/or description about this two tracks.

If to say briefly about concept of these two songs the main thing is that they are focused on the process of dying and after Death existence. The first song “Cold Stars of Eternity” describes an atmosphere of funeral, when the life is gone away, the last Good Bye to the past. The second track “In The Waves Of Darkness” shows the step into the unknown territory of the next life. I used no drums in the second track because into my mind such a method makes an idea of formless, cold raging Waves of Darkness more clear.

Les Fleurs du Mal Productions did a limited release on tape which is now sold out, will there be a second pressing? Any plans for a 7” vinyl release?

I think about this. Maybe 7’ vinyl version will be soon.

The second release is “Phantoms of God”. What inspired the cover art concept and the album title ‘Phantoms of God’, who are they?

The title and cover art (with Eve and Serpent) are closely connected with the lyrics of songs, that are about religion, about “good” and “evil”, about injustice and delusion. In general the whole concept of album is the process of death of all religions that takes place  nowadays.

The tracks are more aggressive that the ones on “Cold Stars…” It keeps the atmosphere and the coldness but it also adds aggression and the drums are more present this time.

Yes, these two releases are much different from each other. In Cold Stars Of Eternity in spite of the grim concept I tried to keep some sense of weird sad humor (the “strange” theatrical photo on the cover art, experimental drums on the first track). In Phantoms of God there is no humor, more aggression and sarcasm (exept the last acoustic lyrical track). Also in this release I worked with the mix studio and the session drummer. It was new experience for me that I never did before.

The closing track is an acoustic piece, is it somehow a reminiscence of Embrace of Hedera?

I created the acoustic track also in “The Shadow” as the Intro (Shadows from the Great Beyond) . So acoustic guitar is a part of Ieschure too.

Phantoms is available on tape, through Jems Label, who will release it on vinyl next year, can you give some details about this edition? Will it contain different or expanded artwork?

It is planned to be 12 LP one sided vinyl with screen print on side B. It will contain the same 3 track that were on cassette version.

Tell us about your songwriting process, do you always follow the same formula?

The first what I do is many improvisations on guitar at my home studio.  I record various ideas then later I listen to them again, after this if I find some ideas interesting I rerecord them with drums and another instruments. The big part of time is taken by the lyrics writing. I can rewrite it many times and do various improvisations of vocal to find the most interesting version and then rerecord all in the final variant.

Do you have any vision of how your music will evolve in future releases?

I will experiment with melodies and vocal with keeping evil Black Metal atmosphere. I think I will continue to play raw sound and also in some releases will work with a mix studio when it will be better for the concept of a concrete track or a whole album.

You have collaborated in recordings of other bands, of all the collaborations is there one in particular with which you feel proud or satisfied?

Each collaboration gave me nice experience in vocal.  The most memorable for me were the singing in Detention and Restless.

What is your opinion on the current Ukrainian scene? Any bands out there that you feel a particular affinity with?

Musicians are people and people are very different. There many music bands and projects in Ukraine who create really true underground music, who give the top priority to music itself but not to own greed for fame or useless snobism. But of course there are some another persons to which I can not feel respect. It is a long and borring theme. That is why I try to have my own path and keep some kind of independence.

What´s the strangest place and the most shocking place you have been?

Places never shocked me… Maybe situations and people, but I can not say this about places.  Maybe I did not find such place yet.

What are in your opinion the highlights releases of the year?

Among the releases of 2020 which I heard I like the album “Apostol” of Czort.  They are from Poland as far as I know.

Do you go to concerts on a regular basis? What was the last show you have attended? Did you plan to go to one before this pandemic?

 I did not visit concerts for few years. For me personally the best way to listen to music is to listen to it in my headphones. That is why I did not suffer much during quarantine without concerts.

Do you want to say some words regarding the global situation or the situation in your country with the covid?

It will end some day and usual life will be continued.

What are your current future plans?

I have a lot of musical material which I want to finish. I work on this now.

Thanks for taking the time and all the best to you and IESCHURE.  The closing words are yours…

Thank you for support!