Interview with Reign of Erebus

A new record by Reign of Erebus, a band coming from deep into the underground black metal scene in the UK, feels like the awakening of a forgotten demon from the past. With their first steps back in the late nineties, there was a decade long hiatus starting from 2005, it seems the group got back together in 2015 and quietly worked its way to their third full length album De Morte Aeterna, a follow-up to Inversion Principle which was released in 2004. Reign of Erebus have years of experience and they have not attracted huge attention so far, maybe 2020 and the overall sharpening of their sound, might mark a new era for the band. Chthonian, the vocalist and also the longest running member of the -by now- trio, shared some insight on the state of Reign of Erebus today.

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  • Congratulations on your new album, released just a couple days ago. How was the overall experience of getting it together and focusing for another Reign of Erebus release?

Thank you. It was exciting as well as being daunting at the same time. On the one hand, the material came together so well, and we really seemed to have bonded the line up so well during this. Yet on the other hand, it is always hard to add to a bands history. How were people going to perceive this in comparison to the last release. Especially while utilizing the advances in recording technology over the years. Will it make it too modern sounding now? So it was all of the emotions and feelings mixed into one. I guess now that its finished, we shall just have to see what the perception of it is.

  • Sixteen years between your last full length album and the newest release. What pushed you to reform the band in 2015 and how were the new members recruited?

Sixteen years makes me feel a lot older! I really wanted to get back into the black metal scene again. I tried in vain to start from fresh, but there seemed to be a lack of musicians around. A few UK publications occasionally mentioned the days of old and that sort of, ignited the flame, so to speak. Once I decided to kick-start the RoE engine, things started happening. Unfortunately the old line-up curse was still seemingly active, so it seemed the revolving door of members just wouldn't cease fucming spinning. Once we had Xjort in the line up, who had recently departed from another UKBM band, it seemed that me and him really clicked on what the band should be about. It was Xjort who knew V.Y.C.M. and bought him into the fold. Like I said, working on this album together has really solidified the 3 of us. We just seem to work on the same level.

  • Is "De Morte Aeterna" the result of continuous work since your rebirth, how long did it take you to conceive and put the music together?

Yes and no. The guitarist we had back in 2015 decided he didn't want to do music anymore. So any new songs we had been playing live and hoping to record, we put to one side. It wasn't until about 18 months ago that the 3 of us solidified the line up. The album has come together since then really. I'd say the writing and recording probably took us about a year.

  • The album title seems to be a reference to the Roman Catholic chant "Libera Me". What are some of the topics discussed in the lyrics?

Yes it is a line in that. I stumbled across it while reading another book which referenced it. I thought, to use it for our reasoning, rather than the feeble ramblings of the church, would have been much more of an affront to their ideology. Again, it goes back to the theory behind the previous album, Inversion Principle. To take something wholesome and seemingly innocent, but to use it in a more nefarious sense, it diminishes the original intent. Look at the Cruxific. St Peter wished to have his cross upside down, as he felt unworthy of comparing his crucifixion to that of Jesus (you know, the only white guy born in the middle East, that Jesus.) So it was seen as a good act. Somewhere along the line, it was used as for a more darker symbolism. Now, to most, the original meaning is lost, and its now seen as an anti Christian symbol. So I did the same for the De Morte Aeterna line. Used it for our darker purposes rather than theirs. The death eternal. Its true in a way too. There's no heaven. As there is no hell. No god. No devil. And when you die, there is nothing. I sort of attributed it to a more ancient way of viewing death, which is what I go into with some of the lyrics of that track. That once you die, your body just becomes an empty vessel. There's no hell to go on to. There's nothing out there at all. Your soul just wanders the lands.  Its an old theory I came across, and its somewhat easier to swallow than some ancient city built of marble in the sky.

  • It seems the logo has been re-worked, and the new artwork is delicate. Who was the designer behind them?

That came about as none of the old members had copies of the old logo. So it would have to be whatever images of it I could find online, or, have a new logo drawn up to bring a fresh look. The logo was designed by a long term friend of mine Alex Simpson. He's a tattooist. And one of those people who has such a creative mind, which flows freely as he designs. Its quite sickening, as I cannot seem to draw for shit. Incredibly frustrating. But he sent over a sketch and I loved the design. He still has the original hand drawn copy.

The cover art you mean? Yes, its Incredibly intricate. Xjort had some art commissioned for a project which never happened fromna guy called Hidris, who also designed the sigils we have used in the artwork. I saw the cover when we were recording the vocals, just as an option of some art to use. Well, after seeing a cover like that, who wouldn't want to use it?

  • Is everything from the new album new material? Any old forgotten tracks that were re-worked for its release?

Absolutely all brand new music. There is nothing rehashed or borrowed from old. Other than some influences of course. Some of the songs, in feel, do slightly remind me of some of the older songs, but that's about as far as it goes.

  • A lot has changed since twenty years ago. Were you involved in the scene during the years of the band's inactivity?

Not directly in the black metal scene no. I still carried on with a few extreme metal bands, but nothing as dark and sinister as Reign of Erebus.

  • The first Reign of Erebus recordings surfaced back in the late 90's. The state of the scene was well documented in the Scandinavian countries, but how were things regarding underground metal in the UK?

The UK scene was really good back then. We just didn't fucking kill each other or go out burning churches. All joking aside, there were some extremely prominent bands back then. Thus Defiled, Hecate Enthroned etc. It was a lot harder being in contact with other bands back then. Social media just did not exist. Well. There was MySpace after a while. But you actually had to leave your home and get out and meet others. These days, you just pick up your phone and message someone on Facebook. So yeah, it was a very good scene, everything just took longer to sort out really. We played countless shows with Thus Defiled back in the day as well as tons of other UK bands. So we all talked and got on. The perception of bands not liking other bands are probably exaggerated as we seemed to get on with most others.

  • It might be hrder to promote the album through gigs now during the pandemic. What are your ambitions for "De Morte Aeterna", have you had any feedback already?

Its pretty shit here. No gigs which means it is a lot harder to get out there. So yeah, its a totally different way of doing things. Like 'hey, here is our new cd, maybe you can imagine how it sounds live.' We've had a few very positive reviews come in already. Its always in the back of your mind. I mean, we love it. You know? But, there are elements added to the sound now. New members, new styles and 16 years more of influences upon the music. So you do wonder how things will be perceived. Its not the end of the world, we write how we want to write you know? We still have that 'don't give a fuck' attitude that has always been present in any band. But yeah, feedback so far has been very good. As for.....the dreaded live promotion. Well. We will just have to see how things pan out. Its a worry for sure. How many promotors will go out of business? How many venues will permanently close? We have Warharns Festival booked in the North of England booked for September 2021. We are a little worried about doing anything before that. There are only so many times you can postpone shows, without people losing faith. Well. Without us losing faith as well. So yeah, its very hard at the moment, as it is for all bands.

  • Has this situation affected your songwriting direction? Would "De Morte Aeterna" be released if 2020 was a "normal" year for the world?

It still would have come out regardless. The music was all finished in February this year. We got in a studio and finished the vocal recordings, just as whispers of a virus were being uttered in China. So we finished it all, just as the virus was to spread here. I know that, as it was around the time we had a run of bad storms here in the UK. So it was a pretty wet time travelling to the studio and back. So no, it hadn't really had an affect on us.

  • I happen to own a CD copy of your debut from 2001. Do you think the title would be provocative if released today? Feel free to share some thoughts about that release.

You mean Humanracist? Ha, well I don't know. I think if people took the time to understand the concept, then no, I don't think we would have got too much flak. We didn't back then really. It was seen as an anti-human theme back then. A hatred of mankind in general. I think the misanthropic theme was so strong on it, it would have just hit people anyway, rather than seeing it and calling us out as racist. Back then, we were very much of the opinion that no lives matter.

But no, I don't seem to recall any incidents of people getting the wrong idea. But who knows now? For sure, it was, and is, an incredibly provocative title. And with the current climate.....who knows how it would be seen now. The more I think about it, the more I don't know how that would be perceived now. Possibly public opinion in general, with no research into the band, maybe that would put us in a dangerous position. But I think with interviews and a lyrical understanding of the album, I believe that people would understand the concept behind the title.

  • Thanks for your time, the last words are yours.

Thank you for taking the time to interview us. Its nice to air some deeper views to well put together questions. We hope everyone enjoys reading this and hopefully people will enjoy the album. If this diseased world ever gets back to some sense of normality, then we hope to see people at a venue soon.


Regards

Cthonian


Find Reign of Erebus on Facebook.


Listen to De Morte Aeterna:

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