BLACK ALTAR – PEST WEBZINE/SLOWLY WE ROT FANZINE
1. Currently Black Altar is a one-man band. Why? How complicated or easy is it being in charge of all the work?
Black Altar was a one-man project for the last 12 years. All that happened during the period of the debut album when the other musicians were forced to leave due to their laziness and lack of ambitions. It's not easy to find proper musicians, even here in London where I live. Luckily I was joined by the Ondskapt guitarist and other guy on guitar. The position of drummer will also clarify very soon. That is why I have really high hopes for the future.
2. Black Altar has achieved a cult status but only released 2 full-lengths… one in 2004 and another in 2008. How have you managed to achieve this?
Thank you for the kind words. Judging whether Black Altar achieved a cult status or not does not belong to me. But the fact is that Black Altar is present on the scene for 22 years already and apart from several full-length albums we also have a few smaller releases that made their gain respect among the scene.
3. So your latest full-length “Death Fanaticism” was released exactly 10 years ago… ever since then you’ve been in 2 compilation and released one EP. When will your fans have the pleasure of having a full album on their hands?
Indeed, working on a full album do not appeal to me at this moment. New release will again be a mini album, later probably a 7'' EP and maybe a split with a well-known band, and then maybe there will time for a new album. All in all it will take like 2-3 years.
4. Black Altar’s split with Beastcraft is entitled “Winds of Decay/Occult Ceremonial Rites” and was released late last year. Are your songs all new?
Actually not. "Tophet" was composed several years ago and more than year ago it was actually recorded. "Winds of Decay" comes from 99' and is dedicated to the old, Norwegian scene, it was recorded like 3 years ago. Beastcraft cover comes from the tribute album to Nefas. The newest thing is a "Tophet" remix by PreEmptive Strike 0.1 project.
5. The song “Tophet” features artists from Vader, Acherontas, Ondskapt, Beastcraft… how did the idea of getting all these musicians together in just one song come up?
To be honest "Tophet" was supposed to be issued on the upcoming release but I was starting to have serious health problems, and I was close to be diagnosed with ALS, a really bad muscle illness. It's the worst, and incurable disease you can imagine. That is why I decided to put it on split with Beastcraft as I thought it might be the last Black Altar release ever and "Tophet" the last composition in band's history. I wanted it to be special that is why I invited some musicians that I know and respect to play as guests on it. Luckily, after a year at the clinic in Oxford, it turned out that I didn't have ALS, so Black Altar will keep on going.
6. The split was postponed to November because of the recording of the video for “Tophet”. Why couldn’t it be released without the video being ready?
Video was supposed to somehow promote the release, that is why it came out first, before the actual full material.
7. Some people reported the video… does jealousy and envy affect bands much? It’s insane that this happens especially since most band members are adults and shouldn’t behave like that!
Unfortunately that is the nature of people in Poland, some of them are jealous and wish the band all that is worst, hoping the band will not succeed. All those actions instead of weakening me gives me the strength to continue with what I'm doing.
8. In little over a month the video got almost 80000 views. This is awesome! How proud are you?
Now is over 100k on 3 different channels. It’s amazing result for an underground band and I’m very proud of course.
9. The split features cover art by Néstor Avalos. In your opinion how much of an impact does a cover have on sales? A great cover sells better?
Good cover art helps with selling but in the end only the music itself and the idea behind it is what counts. Nestor did a great job with the graphics. I saw it on his website and immediately got interested in using it. Nestor added some more elements I asked him about and the whole thing looks really good.
10. Most reviews have been outstanding… were you expecting such a positive response?
I supposed that reviews will be rather positive, I was only not that much into the "Tophet" remixed version, you know, how it will work with the more oldschool fans, but the reviews are far better than I thought.
11. The number of likes in your social media pages has increased recently. Who is responsible for handling them? Do you get many messages from fans? Any stalkers?
It is me who runs the band and label pages. I must say that after the last video clip and the split with Beastcraft the popularity of the band has grown. It's obvious that I receive massages from fans, but there have been some stalkers as well throughout the years.
12. In your facebook page there was a contest for fans to win shirts, CDs and signed posters, however when one clicks on the link is directed to a page in Polish. Why wasn’t it open to fans around the world?
It was contest of Polish Kvlt Magazine. I just shared their link.
13. You had a very solid first full-length “Black Altar” which granted you some notoriety and it will be rereleased this year with new cover art and mastering. Why have you decided to do this?
The material was released by German Christhunt Production in 2004. I decided to release it on my own as a digipak with new artwork as the previous one was very primitive, giving it new mastering as well I was not satisfied with its sound.
14. In the split with Vesania in 2002 you had 6 tracks and they only 2. The split with Nebular Mystic in 2007 you had 10 tracks and they had 4. You seem to make great deals with other bands… how does a split work? How do you decide how many songs each band will be entitled to?
I do not limit the other band when it comes to the number of tracks they will put on the split. There will be as many as they provide. When it comes to the split with Nebular Mystic, I was asked by the label to provide some bonus stuff so I sent them some tracks from the debut album it their home- made demo versions. I try to pick up bands for split releases very carefully. These are mostly the ones with which I share friendship or simply the ones I highly value.
15. You have 2 more splits, one in 2012 with Varathron and Thornspawn, and another in 2017 with Beastcraft… what’s so special about splits? Why do you keep on doing them?
I'm a huge fan of splits. They give the opportunity to issue some more extreme stuff you will normally not put on the regular album. This is also a good solution for the listener I think.
16. You own Odium Records and your demo (1998), your EP Wrath Ov The Gods (2000), the split with Vesania in 2002, your album “Death fanaticism” and the split with Beastcraft (2017) was released through it. Why some material as released through your label and the other through other labels? How does that work?
Most of them were released by my label. When it comes to the first album I did not have some many connections in case of worldwide promotion that is why I let Christhunt productions release it. "Sucidal Salvation" was released by Darker Than Black due to my many occupations at the time, so when I got the offer from them there was no hesitation. All in all I prefer to release stuff on my own. I simply have a full control and I make the promotion the way I want it to be.
17. You have a solo project Kriegsgott other than Black Altar but nothing has been released ever since 2011. How are things standing for Kriegsgott?
Kriegsgott is dead. I will only issue the 7'' ep and a compilation of all what was released and that will be all. I want to focus only on Black Altar.
18. Decapitated went through a rough time in the US tour with the rape charges and having to prove their innocence… they were basically at the wrong place at the wrong time. Did Black Altar ever face strange situations that might damage the band’s reputation?
Rather not, apart from several rumours and slanders about my person.
19. The band is featured in the book “Black Metal – Into the Abyss” written by Dayal Patterson. How important for you was it to be featured in this book? What makes this book so special?
It was a great honour for me to appear in a book with so many important bands. Dayal is a journalist that explores Black Metal very deeply and you can learn a lot of interesting things from him.
20. Bootleg t-shirts and patches of Black Altar are available for sale which is a clear violation of your rights… Have you found out who is doing it? Did you take any action in order to prevent it from happening again?
I'm not doing a mess out of it, at some point it flatters me as it shows that the band is getting attention. On the other stand it will be nice to get to know about it first or to receive some copies of that was released. In both cases I contacted the person behind it and after that I received some stuff with apologises.
21. In what Black Metal is concerned, in your opinion which were the golden years for the genre? Why?
It is known that the best years for Black Metal were the first half of the 90's. Most of the albums released back then bore the mark of quality and individualsim. There were different values ruling the scene. There a lot to talk about.
22. Has any recent album caught your attention? In an overcrowded scene filled with bands and releases, don’t you miss the old days in which everything worked at a slower pace?
New album by Necrophobic is very good, the ones by Watain and Acherontas as well. Just as I said, old days had its charm. Nowadays the scene is crowded, there are new releases every day. It's easy to get lost in it.
23. Do you think the Scandinavian scene is the best? Other countries have great bands as well but some don’t have the same promotion… is promotion an important factor for bands?
I think that Sweden and Norway have the best scene. But on the other hand there are a lot of great bands in Poland, Greece and France, a lot of things are happening there, some groups are even better than those from Scandinavia.
24. The political forces in Poland don’t seem to appreciate extreme music that much because there are always problems coming up with venues and gigs and all that. How complicated is it trying to create a name for your band in a close-minded place?
I leave in London, so do not care about it, and things are not that bad in Poland as they are presented. From time to time a gig is being cancelled and that's all.
25. Is there anything else you’d like to say or share with Pest Webzine’s readers?
Thanks for the interesting interview. Keep on waiting for the reissues of "Suicidal Salvation", on vinyl and digipak cd, and the debut album. Later the time will come for the mini album that will probably bear the title "Nekromantic Revelations". This info was not published anywhere else. Hailz!