Fans of the much revered metal entity Hortus Animae will be stunned when discovering the dark artistry of Martyr Lucifer’s solo project. Named after its esteemed creator, Martyr Lucifer has a lot more in common with indie stalwarts such as Joy Division and Bauhaus than with anything having to do with black metal. Farewell To Graveland is an astounding collection of tunes that will haunt your memory for an eternity. Here is a recent interview we conducted with Martyr Lucifer to find out more about life after Hortus Animae, the new album, working with ex-members of At The Gates and Nokturnal Mortum, and other intriguing tales from beyond the darkness. Read on…
How long has the Martyr Lucifer project been in existence and how does it differ from your previous band Hortus Animae?
Hi. I started developing the idea of a solo project right after we released, with Hortus Animae, “The Blow of Furious Winds”, I felt the times were mature to try to express myself in a more… intimate way, let’s say. In the beginning it was supposed to be a work for piano and vocals, maybe some strings, something in the vein of Current 93’s “Soft Black Stars”. Then I’ve left the project in the closet for years and only in 2009 I’ve started seriously working on it, thanks to my wife that gently and rightly kicked my ass and made me understand that it was about time and I’m very grateful to her for giving me the push I needed. So I started working on it again, the initial ideas changed a bit, I started adding further new arrangements, the songs grew and grew and took a more… “rock” approach. The Martyr Lucifer project differs a lot from Hortus Animae. As previously stated, I needed to express myself in a different way, the anger of my youth channeled into a more conscious dimension and, perhaps, this album represents some sort of light at the end of the tunnel for me. This factor is represented musically as well, because as it always was the sound accompanies the lyrics and their moods.
Where are you based out of and what is the music scene like there?
The majority of the band is based in Italy and I think the scene here is very good, we have different great bands and great musicians, metal and not. Then there are bands that thanks to a proper labels’ support can also have success abroad and others that remain in anonymity while having some good material to offer. Sometimes it is also a mere matter of luck. Maybe years ago we were a bit snubbed, now I guess not anymore. I see no particular issues at the moment and I am confident I can confirm these words in the future.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Farewell To Graveland?
“Farewell to Graveland” can be seen as a painting, with many nuances that bring out different aspects. The lyrics, although not part of a concept in the traditional sense, are linked by a common thread, and each is illustrated with a drawing in the booklet so the listener can delve deeper into the content. And finally we come to the point. That is, the topics covered. Let’s say that the general theme of the album concerns an introspection in order to find out how the human nature is made. The title track, along with “The Horseride“, is a bit the manifest of this album, the scream of a man who is facing his escape from a system that represses him by transforming him into an artificial creature, making him forget his divine nature. An escape that leads to a physical but also mental and spiritual release, his passage, the desire for freedom, not only for human beings. Even the intro, though instrumental, represents these themes, in “Janus” is expressed the concept of transition through states of consciousness, and the duality of human nature, in fact. This happens due to the previously described symbiosis between lyrics, concepts and graphic look.
Select two songs from Farewell To Graveland and what inspired the lyrics.
Well, I’ve already talked about two songs but I would like to mention “Turmoil” and “The Dustflower”, two tracks that actually go out of the general concept. “Turmoil” because on its words has been made a particular work. The song is about children abuse by priests and, reading its lyrics, it is not understandable whose point of view it is, cause it could be both priest and violated child. Moreover there is a temporal progression that, somehow, describes happenings from childhood to adult age. “The Dustflower” is a tribute to all the forgotten things, to all the poets that haven’t been listened, to all the letters that haven’t been read.
What has it been like working with Vrolok from Nokturnal Mortum and what do you think about Nokturnal Mortum and their music overall? Some of their past lyrics have been fairly controversial.
Vrolok is a very talented bass player and I’ve enjoyed our cooperation. I like Nokturnal Mortum’s music very much, it’s really epic and well structured, with that folk vibe that makes it even more special. I’m aware that some of their early lyrics were controversial but if you look at the recent ones you’ll mostly see a connection to nature and history of their beautiful land, so I see it as some sort of healthy patriotism, that differs from their initial approach. Being spiritually connected and proud of your motherland is absolutely not wrong.
What was it like working with Adrian Erlandsson and did he have any At The Gates stories to share with you?
Working with Adrian was awesome! He’s a legend of a drummer and I’ve always been a fan of many of his bands. Unfortunately we had the chance to meet only once and we mostly talked about work.
If you were invited to contribute a track to a Joy Division tribute album, what song would you select and why?
Weird that you ask this question because as a matter of fact I am actually thinking about a Joy Division cover, perhaps as bonus track on the next album, that could probably be “Twenty Four Hours”. But also “Disorder” and “The Eternal” wouldn’t be a bad choice for me. There is not a specific reason, let’s say that often the ghost of Ian Curtis is hunting me.
What could one expect from a live Martyr Lucifer performance?
Ah, this is a good question. As you know, the “Farewell to Graveland” line-up is international and so, for now, it is rather complex to manage live performances. But it is in my plans, probably after the release of the second album, I need to find a stable live line-up and rehearse with it, also I have some ideas in mind in order to offer a complete show but it all is a work in progress.
What was it like working with Nik Turner of Hawkwind and what is your involvement with Space Mirrors now?
Well, Mr. Turner is another legend! It’s an honour to have a project in common and I’m grateful to Space Mirrors for this. My involvement with them is that I am their singer. We have just released, via Monster Fuzz Records, a split 7” with Acid FM, called “Dreams of Area 51 / Space Beyond Space” and in August the new album “In Darkness They Whisper” will be unleashed by Transubstans Records, stay tuned!
What is currently going on with Hortus Animae? Any chance of a reunion or new album?
The American label Thrash Corner Records recently released a reissue album called “Funeral Nation MMXII”, that includes in two discs our three albums, “The Blow of Furious Winds”, “Waltzing Mephisto” and the never officially released “The Melting Idols”. This album is also some sort of “pocket” version of the commemorative boxset we released in 2008 that sold out in just a few months. The decision to make this album came from the fact that we never stopped receiving positive feedback from our fans all over the world, despite the many years of silence we haven’t been forgotten. But at the moment we still don’t know if “Funeral Nation MMXII” represents for us a glorious end or a glorious new start, I guess only time will tell.
Whatever happened to Black Lotus Records and when you look back on Waltzing Mephisto, what do you think of it now?
I still think “Waltzing Mephisto” is a great record and an excellent debut. As for Black Lotus, now let’s not go into details because, after all, it is thanks to them that we could bring our music to the attention of the people. It was a good label with some great artists in its roster. Special thanks go now to Ray of Thrash Corner, which has permitted “Waltzing Mephisto” and our other records to see the light again.
Any final words of wisdom?
I would like to thank you and your readers, give a chance to “Farewell to Graveland” and let it lead you through the darkness. Beyond the darkness. Keep an eye out on Hortus Animae and Space Mirrors as well!
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Farewell To Graveland is outstanding!
My pleasure and thank you very much again. Cheers!
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)
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