Top 5 USBM Albums w/ Moray
This week on the Friday Guest List we speak to Christian from Moray to discuss his debut EP, making black metal in Mormon-centric Utah, visual art, and his fave USBM releases.
Hi Christian, how’s things? Since the release of your album (TovH stream) I’ve seen the cover art popping up more and more around the place, are you pleased with the reception so far?
Hello! Things have been quite well. I’ve been getting some good feedback on Temporal Majesty. It’s very humbling to know that anyone has taken the time to check it out, and it means the world when someone tells me they’ve enjoyed it.
I saw there’s a shirt on the way, do you have plans for a physical release of the album sometime in the future?
I do. Shirts are printing this week and my good friend Andrew from Gilded Lily is helping me release cassettes through his label, Lion’s Jawbone. All of which should be available sometime in October.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background in metal? You’ve previously mentioned that living in Mormon-centric Utah served as inspiration for the album to some extent, maybe you’d like to elaborate a little on that for us?
I started playing bass around the age of fifteen, in metal bands with friends, but never anything very serious. It wasn’t until I picked up guitar that I started writing material that I felt was worth sharing. As for the religious climate of Utah, it definitely pushed me toward listening to a lot of aggressive music which is really what sparked my interest in playing in bands. Not to mention there are some very fascinating concepts in mormon doctrine and its history, folk magic and free masonry and things that are seen as potentially heretical to other christian sects. I felt that these ideas were worth exploring, as this is part of my narrative.
Do you think your location drove you towards creating black metal in particular?
The religion and the beauty of the mountains and nature here in Provo certainly made black metal feel like a clear fit for saying what I wanted to with this release. Though ultimately I think I’m simply drawn to a specific palette of sounds, and I feel the riffs I write reflect these influences. Black metal has long been a significant influence to me, both in its message of religious dissension and its reverence for nature. These are the values that I feel needed to be echoed to the people in my immediate surroundings. Living in Utah, I’ve observed that frequently any belief system outside that of the Mormon cult is deemed by the populace as “other,” and is often dismissed as being less than, even if it’s on a sub-conscious level by those who have been indoctrinated their entire lives. I wanted to make music that highlights this hypocrisy and inspires the people around me, people who I sincerely care for, to take a step back from their arbitrary rules and rituals to try to comprehend the complexity and beauty and mystery of the world around us.
Temporal Majesty is quite an interesting title, what does it mean to you?
The title is meant to convey the endless passage of time. I wanted it to make the listener contemplate their relationship with the infinite and conjure an awareness of the futility of trying to grasp at fleeting moments. The beauty and pain that might be held in memories, the thought of endless possible futures presenting themselves to you, and the hesitation that these things can fill you with. It was also inspired by the “Tempus Fugit” inscription on the grandfather clock that sits next to the desk at Beast Mansion studio where we recorded the EP. Picking names and writing lyrics can be difficult for me since I generally prefer working in visual mediums or coming up with riffs. As such I feel I am at times guilty of falling back on the metal trope of picking random “cool” sounding words and grouping them together in order to generate titles and lyrics. I still hope the meaning is preserved in there somewhere for someone though. Temporal majesty is meant to feel discouraged but hopeful. It makes me think of the Death lyric: “Savor what you feel and what you see. Things that may not seem important now. But may be tomorrow.”
The cover art and logo really completes the package and made this particular email stand out among the hundreds we get per week, is it correct that you created it yourself? Were you into visual art before music?
Thank you! I drew the cover image at the same time that we were working on the recordings, but didn’t really settle on the idea of using it as the album art until pretty shortly before the EP was finished. And I wish I could take credit for that logo; it was created by my close friend and incredibly talented artist Stephen Wilson. As far as visual art goes, it has been something I have been enthusiastic about for as long as I can remember, long before music ever became a serious interest. Drawing has always been my favorite way to create and, like guitar, it’s something I hope to always be improving at.
Oh cool, Joe had Stephen on the TovH podcast recently. Any label interest in picking up the EP, or a follow-up yet?
I plan to keep things pretty DIY for now. I mentioned Lion’s Jawbone is helping with tapes for the EP, and I am considering the possibility of doing self-released run of CDs at some point, though if somebody were to approach me about releasing anything on other formats I would be interested. Right now our main priority is writing and recording new material. We will hopefully be heading back to the studio again sometime in spring, though the details are all still very up-in-the-air at the moment.
Awesome! Have to keep an eye/ear out for that. Thanks for your time.
(Is this a Temporal Majesty pun? Hah!) No problem, thank you so much for speaking with me and letting me pick some USBM albums to talk about.
Hahah, no problems! Let’s see what you’ve chosen for us to take a closer look at…
Weakling – Dead as Dreams 
This is album is basically the USBM bible. Everyone ought to have heard it by now, but it’s still worth mentioning, if only out of obligation. The riffs hit hard but are still lo-fi and force you to dig a little to fully grasp them. The slow moments are soul-crushing and balance out the more soaring bits really well, a dynamic that I feel laid a blueprint for a lot of bands to follow. The vocals are howled, similarly to a lot of DSBM acts like Bethlehem, or Silencer, though they feel a little less inhuman. This album also has one of the the most legendary “borrowed” riffs in “This Entire Fucking Battlefield.” It’s a killer riff though.
Xothist – Xothist 
All of Xothist’s material is worth checking out, but if there is only one album you hear it should be this first release. Haunting and tinged with feelings of cosmic dread, this album gives you a little more with every listen. The riffs are melodic, but still off-kilter and winding and sometimes hard to understand under the blown out vocals which rip through the mix. The ambient moments are depressive as hell too, at times sounding almost like something you’d hear on an old cult induction video tape or something. The kind of music that tries to grasp at existence itself and feels all the more bleak for it. This album is as cold as space.
Rhinocervs – RH-11 
An anonymous collective that shared members with the Black Twilight Circle in California. I would say this particular tape contains some of the best writing from these artists. The mix is atmospheric, cold, and covered in tape hiss. The drums sound as though they were recorded in a cave. The other release by these guys worth mentioning is the Tukaaria/Odz Manouk split, which has a lot of similar vibes but is a little more aggressive, where this tape feels a bit more meditative. Familiarize yourself with Crepusculo Negro.
Vorde – Vorde 
True Mayhem worship done right. Everything about this album evokes the legendary De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, but without the risk of abandoning their own voice. These dudes know their musical roots and aren’t afraid to build on them in their own way. “Transformations of the Vessel” goes hard and the tones in “Funeral Vortex” almost feel like something from The Cure’s album Pornography. Also there is a song called “Funeral Vortex”. Badass.
Ustalost – The Spoor of Vipers 
The ever-prolific Will Skarstad’s solo project invokes a similar medieval aesthetic as albums like Bergtatt by Ulver or Aria of Vernal Tombs by Obsequiae, and does so with a raw production and synth passages that shine overtop of the mix and are equal parts bleak/heavenly. The riffs and vocals alone let you know that this is one of the minds behind Yellow Eyes. This album is very bass driven, something you didn’t see a whole lot of in black metal. Don’t let that turn you off though, the mix is raw as ever. If you played this for me and told me this was an anonymous Swedish black metal act from the 90’s I could believe it!
Some great stuff there, I highly recommend the split Vorde did with Predatory Light which I think is still name your price on Bandcamp. Anyway, make sure you pick up Temporal Majesty over at Moray’s Bandcamp page and show some appreciation on their Facebook page.
Previously On The Friday Guest List
Saturndust shot us into orbit with their Top 5 Spaaaced-out Albums.