Saturday, April 25, 2020

an interview with Auroch

Sharing members with Mitochondrion, Canadian band Auroch should be familiar to any black and death metal fan with a fondness for the esoteric. Since their first new release in 4 years just came out through 20 Buck Spin, I reached out to the band to find out about their history and the philosophies behind their music. Guitarist/vocalist Sebastian Montesi was kind enough to answer my questions in record time.

DoC: Please give a brief history of Auroch - when did you form, and what were your goals at the time? What caused the change from your previous incarnation as Tusk to Auroch?

Auroch was born in 2008, when everyone involved in the high school band that we played in, Tusk, wanted to shift the name to reflect that change in sound, interest, and commitment that came naturally with growing older, as we were all 17 at the time, and had been playing together since we were 15.

These types of progressions may not be exciting, and may not be the riveting story that some may expect, but are natural developments that are bound to happen when you start playing music at a young age.

While we still draw influence on some instinctive level from the bands that inspired us when we were Tusk - King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Metallica, Grave Digger- the schism that created the shift in identity, both in presentation and sonically, was to accommodate the widening sonic palette we were drawing from. When you’re 16 and you discover Morbid Angel, Death, Phlebotembized, and Bolt Thrower, it’s obviously a paradigm shifting moment.

Since then we’ve released three albums (2 of which were on Profound Lore), several EPs (including the new one on 20 Buck Spin), and toured all through North America and Europe.

DoC: Auroch shares members with Mitochondrion. How would you describe the difference between the two bands, musically or otherwise?

The music of Mitochondrion is written by Nick Yanchuk. Nick Yanchuk doesn’t play in Auroch.

DoC: To what extent is the music of Auroch inspired by magic(k), esoteric knowledge, and the occult? Do you believe in magic in a literal sense, or as an abstract concept/metaphor?

I’m no longer entirely sure if there is any separation between magic existing in the physical world and the idea of it being an abstraction.

As a rule, but one with some exception, I am getting out of answering interview questions pertaining to magic, the nature of magic, or how occultism plays a role in our music, or day-to-day lives. Yes, it is EVERYTHING to us, but it deserves a form of higher expression, and I cannot do it the justice with simple words that I can with lyrics and music.

It feels increasingly pointless to spend so long carefully crafting and melding our words and music to serve a certain purpose and evoke a certain feeling or thought, and then go and break in down on to layman’s terms for people who are too lazy to do the work or out in the time to understand our intentions.

Those same people may label us as pretentious, but the ones who we care most to hear our message will understand exactly where we’re coming from. The beautiful part is that whichever one of those two groups you’d like to belong to is entirely up to you.

Auroch at Saint Vitus Bar, 2016

DoC: Tell me about your new EP Stolen Angelic Tongues - where was it recorded? How long have you been working on it? How would you compare it to your previous releases?

We started plotting Stolen Angelic Tongues specifically in the fall of 2016, after concluding an extensive year of touring and festival appearances in the states. We were so moved by the writings of Tamara Siuda, Milo Rigaud, and Nicholaj De Mattos Frisvold that we started to see where their teachings and thoughts they had to share socketed in to our own consciousness.

The earliest riffs, however, were written in one of the dormitories of the infamous Ungdomshuset in Copenhagen, at Killtown Deathfest 2014.

Obviously, as a band, you want to make every release greater than the one before. I think we’ve done that in part, though Mute Books is objectively a larger undertaking. For this release, we recorded the guitars and drums in our rehearsal studio at the Covenant HQ. Cam Mesmer of Spell fame engineered and recorded us, and he did a damn good job.

The drumming is the sharpest ever, the riffs are contorted and the leads are obviously fucked and distorted beyond comprehension.

DoC: Stolen Angelic Tongues will be the first new Auroch release since 2016. What caused the gap between releases?

Three years isn’t a very long gap by my standards, but we’ve been extremely active in that time. From February to October of 2016, we played all through the United States, including an appearance at Maryland Deathfest. In 2017 we brought our new guitarist Phil Fiess up to speed and played through Canada and Mexico, including a small tour with the legendary Hacavitz. 2018 saw us complete a three week European tour with Profanatica and Rites Of Thy Degringolade, followed by Canadian festival appearances in Montreal and Vancouver. Finally, 2019 saw us embark on a festival tour through nearly the whole year, visiting SWR fest in Portugal, a headlining gig in Sevilla, Spain, an appearance at Netherlands Deathfest, Ascension Festival in Iceland, Total Death Over México, and a hometown gig supporting Immolation.

Add on to this the fact that we organize a recurring festival called Covenant in Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto, run an online magazine for said festival, recorded the new Mitochondrion album, and have about a billion other musical projects, and I’m pretty surprised we managed to get this new EP done so quickly... not to mention the substantial amount of work we have completed on album 4.

DoC: The EP features Cuillen Sander back on vocals. What led to his return for this release? Is he back in the band full-time?

We believe in the power of closing certain broken circles. Culain is our dear brother and like family to us, so the rift that broke us apart when we were young men is distant history. We founded this band together, and his psycho-poetic lyrical style is probably the single greatest influence on my writing voice to this day.

Here he delivers the wild mix of vocals for which he is infamous, ranging from extremely deep, guttural, and rapid-fire death metal vocals, haunting clean incantations, and trance-state vibrations that are so booming they carry their own discernible reverb.

To have him offer his voice as the lead vocalist on this EP was very special, and he has joined us once in the only live performance to date of “Carving The Axis Mundi”. Cuillen will remain in the band in a modular capacity, contributing music, lyrics, and performances in the future, but not as a full time member, as he is an individual with his own goals and aspirations.

DoC: What can you tell me about the lyrical/spiritual themes of the album?

It’s no secret that this EP draws from the history of the diasporic magical traditions of the Carribean and Latin America. Here we approach the impact of monotheism upon the Americas, the liberating force of the anima sola, and the microcosmic representation of the Gnostic struggle. The fact that the Haitian revolution was a successful rebellion of Pagan slaves against their Christian rulers hardly needs any of my conjecture to explain the influential power it holds.

DoC: Brazilian artist Lupe Vasconcelos created the album cover for Stolen Angelic Tongues. How did she get involved with this release? What direction did you give her for the artwork?

Given the themes at play, it was important to us to have an authentic South American or Caribbean artist handle the artwork for this EP. We fell in love with Lupe’s style, which to us feels like a mix of Chagall and Osman Spare with her rich colour palette, and graceful, sigillic lines of automatic expression.

We didn’t give her much direction - only that we wanted the fearsome face of the Pomba Gira to adorn the cover.

DoC: What's next for you?

These are weird times, so it is hard to say what will happen to our live shows this year, but as it stands we have an appearance at Quebec Deathfest and a small tour with Nile scheduled for the fall.

The work never ceases however, and we continue to toil away on our 4th record, which I say with great certainty will be our crowning achievement.

Auroch on Facebook

Auroch on Bandcamp

Auroch on Twitter

Stolen Angelic Tongues through 20 Buck Spin

Death Canonized:

Mixtape 32:
Episode 128:
Black Pestilence
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