Belgian black metal heads Antzaat delivered a crushing debut. Enough reason to chat with them about men who gaze into the sun.
Few people have yet heard of black metal band Antzaat from Belgium, although mastermind and composer Ronarg has already delivered with his other band Ars Veneficium. Antzaat’s debut For You Men Who Gaze Into The Sun (out via Immortal Frost Productions) delivers quality melodic black metal in the vein of Scandinavian and Finnish idols. Absorbing the energy present in the album, ZT’s Jonathan Jancsary quickly decided to talk with Ronarg about this album.
ZT: Good evening Ronarg! Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions about your debut For You Men Who Gaze Into The Sun. Let’s begin directly with the album title – it sounds like the manifestation of a typical Luciferian motive. To become enlightened and to see the light that Lucifer brings is, of course, a cornerstone of the Satanic tradition. Is the first Antzaat album therefore specifically crafted and directed at the people who want to or already are travelling such a path to Godhood? Or is there a different/further meaning hidden behind the album title?
Ronarg: I’ve seen a couple of people trying to figure out what it means and come up with their own interpretation, which is nice. People are a lot more responsive now than with the previous release. Perhaps because it is very ambiguous, and a bit dramatic. As for the meaning, I don’t like to over explain things because this can ruin one’s perception. Sometimes things are better left a bit abstract so the mind can fill in the gaps. That, but also because the explanation is both very simple and very complicated. But broadly put; it’s about aspiring towards a goal or purpose, but through personal failure, tribulations, external factors, and hardship not being able to get there. The lyrics are a broad blend of symbolism borrowing elements from the occult, dystopianism, Gothic literature, surrealism, sci-fi, mythology, … Within this framework each song has its own narrative.
ZT:Your song ‘Man Made Flesh Made God Machine‘ seems to further extend that overall motive in your art – could you elaborate how the title and the lyrics for this song came into being and in how far they are related to the album title?
Ronarg: Actually, that song is loosely based on the short sci-fi horror story I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream by American writer Harlan Ellison. It details the last human survivors in a post-apocalyptic future version of earth. They are being tortured by a supercomputer named AM who seeks revenge upon humanity for creating him. AM has made the group immortal so that they cannot commit suicide in order to escape their fate. This is a terrifying cold war era short story and I recommend this to everyone. It’s pretty easy to find for those who are interested.
ZT:Visually one can see two skeleton warriors piercing each other with spears while being placed in two open stones surrounded by water. Could you help us with interpreting this specific image? In how far is it related to the lyrical topics of the album? Which symbols and their meaning can we find in this artwork?
Ronarg: I began sketching for the album cover as soon as the lyrics were finished. This was, however, not very easy as my mind was still stuck in writing modus and I had no idea how to translate the album title into a two dimensional image. Those days spent staring at the empty linen canvas were brutal. So I took a passage from the song ‘Veil Of Darkness‘ instead, which goes as follows: “An immovable tragic dance, a battle of ancients. Locked into a permanent stance, forever entwined”. And thus dawned the image of two skeleton lancers, awkwardly trying to strike each other. As one strikes he destroys his opponent, but also himself. A bit like the MAD situation. From there on everything went pretty fast. The entire thing was painted in less then a day without taking drying times into account. I did, however, stop painting at a certain point out of fear of destroying or overworking the painting. After sending the rest of the band the design, it was unanimously approved. And because it is a physical painting, it can be hung around the house, which is pretty nice. The only thing left to do is varnishing as it has mostly “dried”. This can however take up to a year.
ZT:It’s notable that the music on For You Men Who Gaze Into The Sun is inspired by the Swedish melodic black metal tradition. I can, however, also see similarities to the Gorgoroth era in which King Ov Hell was writing the songs (mainly the Incipit Satan album). Which bands and albums were essential during your musical upbringing and for your decision to play in black metal bands? Which way of composing music in this genre has shaped your own approach to this music the most?
Ronarg: Our music takes root in the Finnish black metal style. Most notably Sargeist and their 2010 masterpiece Let The Devil In. Gorgoroth is, of course, the second main influence, but rather the first three albums than the mid period or later ones. Under The Sign Of Hell is one of those albums you can just keep playing forever. It’s fast, raw, aggressive, and still pretty melodic. No out of place weird guitar effects or dragged out solos, just straight up, no bullshit fast paced guitar riffing accompanied by an artillery barrage of drums. It also knows when to slow down as to break up the otherwise constant blasting. Another one of those kinds of albums is By The Blessing Of Satan by Behexen. It also manages to sound very raw, aggressive and sometimes very melodic.
I used to play rhythm guitars in a melodic death metal band. We weren’t very good (haha), and disbanded after only a couple of shows. However, it was a good way to learn the basics about song structure and composing. After that I just took what I learned and attempted to combine it with the music I liked at the time which was second wave black metal. I felt irrational anger towards the world, and black metal offered a way out. The results were also not very good, but I kept trying: creating songs on my own and sending mp3s to friends. Eventually I met Surtur, and we started Ars Veneficium. After this we quickly wrote our first demo The Abyss. Songs that didn’t make it into Ars Veneficium ultimately formed the basis for the Antzaat demo. From there on out it started to become its own thing. Because they are two separate bands, work is done for each band separately and songs are no longer passed down.
ZT:Ars Veneficium and Antzaat have both released a new album during the year 2020 and, as far as I know, you are – to a great extent – responsible for the compositions of both bands. Which different sides of your artistic interest do you see present in these two bands? What makes those two bands different?
Ronarg: The Ars Veneficium album was ready for quite some time. But due to delays they eventually came out in the same year. The corona crisis also made it pretty much impossible to support both albums with live shows.
As stated before, the creative process of both bands used to be very much intertwined. Ars Veneficium is a collaboration between me and Surtur. He has a hand in adding, removing, and rearranging things, for better or for worse, haha. This contributes to Ars Veneficium being more eclectic. We wanted Ars Veneficium to be fast and more aggressive, therefore we use a lot more power chords. I do not contribute to the lyrics, but I think they are a bit more conventional for black metal. Surtur’s vocal style also differs greatly from mine, as he sings more from his gut. This causes his vocals to be more on the low end. On live performances we still use the classical corpse paint and spikes. Painting your face in the ladies room is always great fun.
Antzaat was an idea formed by Isaroth and Eenzaat and they asked me to write songs. So I assumed creative control over the band. However, I totally suck at drumming and don’t really have feeling for it. But Eenzaat is very dedicated to his craft and his lively drumming style greatly improves the songs. The Antzaat songs are generally medium tempo and more uplifting and melancholic with more melodies. The lyrical themes diverge from the norm as we are not a satanic band, but rather sing about the occult, and dystopia. My vocals come more from the throat. This allows me to scream at a very loud volume. Live we use hoodies and the now infamous “Mgła style” masks. It can be difficult to see through those, but once you get used to them they surprisingly increase the concentration.
ZT: Many thanks for your time and your effort! I wish you personally and for Antzaat only the very best!
Ronarg: No problem and thanks for the very interesting interview. Your questions really forced me to carefully think about my answers and reflect upon things. Keep up the good work and thank you once again!