I was turned on to Saviours of Armageddon, an album released by Iron Bonehead Productions, through the helpful suggestion of a friend who had an ear to the underground. “This isn’t getting released yet,” he said, “but here’s a sneak peek.”
The sound was notably necro and second-wave black metal inspired, but more than simply that, it had a quality that modern throwback efforts lacked. It was very promising indeed. I listened to the album a number of times and kept it with me, suggesting it for coverage to friends in Cvlt Nation who cover similar music.
Not long since that time, Iron Bonehead Productions is now releasing the band’s follow-up effort, entitled Echoes from the Seven Caves of Blood, and my initial impressions of the band are as strong as ever. I immediately attempted to contact the band for an interview, but was greeted by a response from the label such as, “we don’t know who they are.” I was told I’d have to arrange to meet them myself. I suppressed a smirk somehow.
I thought it would be easy to contact the band, in spite of the mysteriousness involved in the circumstances, but was told the band was eager to talk about the music. “We just don’t want our identities known,” one of the band members said to me, before croaking a rather deliberately misleading chuckle that would betray his insistence as for my safety. He promised an interview, and safe passage into their rehearsal spaces – a dank, cold charnel house with the aromatic effluvium of the dead contained within it, or something musty and dark and morbid, like that of an old decrepit mausoleum, it seemed. The band likes proper ambiance when rehearsing for an album is my guess, and is as good as any’s.
I was met by hooded, leather-and-denim-clad dudes with sunglasses on at a park bench we said we’d meet at. The two guys didn’t introduce themselves. I was pithy and insistent on answers.
“You guys are from the band, Byyrth? How do I know it’s really you?”
“You don’t,” they said to me.
They led me to a white van and opened the door. There were guitars inside, a dude driving, cables, and wires. I felt like an unwitting victim of a kidnapping attempt, but I really wanted to get to know this band and how they write their music. Their new album, Echoes from the Seven Caves of Blood also features Mutiilation’s Meyhnach, a pioneer of the French Les Legions scene in second wave black metal’s heyday.
They put a bag over my head and told me to be quiet. We went for a ride.
The dudes from Byyrth were just as quiet during the trip back to their turf.
The van stopped and they led me out of the van and escorted me through a building. We went down a flight of steps. It was a warehouse dive by my guess, or an old boiler room.
One of the guys asked me to sit down, helping me to a chair. I did. Sounds filtered through the air. It stunk like corpses in there. Lit aromatic candles couldn’t kill the stench.
Music from Echoes from the Seven Caves began playing through studio monitors. The dudes took the bag off my head. I was immediately impressed with Byyrth’s rehearsal space, but the stench turned my stomach somewhat, and the corpse-painted faces that greeted my sallow one were not welcoming of this fact.
“You don’t like the smell?” one dude said. The other guys started laughing. “Keeps unwanted people out,” another guy chimed in. I identified the track that was playing as “Unhuman” off Echoes from the Seven Caves of Blood. At that moment, I felt like I was at a Watain concert – animal corpses, black blood, flames alit.
“You wanted an interview?” one of the dudes said. “Let’s get started.”
My first question was greeted with laughter. “Where am I?” I asked the guys. “That’s not for you to know,” one of them said, taking the lead. “Ask another question,” he says, poking fun at me.
“We don’t plan to hurt you,” he promises. “We write music. Let’s talk about that,” he follows-up.
So, I began getting down to the nit-and-grit of my enthusiasm for the band’s latest release, their best so far.
“Byyrth has an instantly-likeable quality to its music. It’s simple, catchy, and accessible. Second wave black metal all over again, without what these more modern purveyors do with the song structure and tremolo washes. There’s variety in your music – subtle, but noticeable.”
The band appears to agree, looking amongst themselves. They confer with knowing eyes, then one guy answers me bluntly:
BYYRTH: “We don’t really care, and for that matter, write, to please ANYONE but ourselves. If the songs are “catchy,” so be it. We don’t pander to any genres of music, black metal or otherwise. I would say there are MANY musicians and bands we enjoy listening to. Especially the French Les Legiones Noires early 1990s material. And of course all first wave Scandinavian BM. But we enjoy music and esoteric ideas from all over the world. We listen to ambient, Punk, classical and Metal as well.. I think this all reflects in our music.”
“And yet,” I step in without missing a beat, “the music is dark and ferocious. I can’t begin to peg it Mayhem meets Darkthrone. It’s only Byyrth. A band with a singular sound at a seemingly wrong time when second wave black metal has been taken over by modernism and experimentation. Your style of necro production is unique in itself. What do you guys think of that?”
BYYRTH: “What Production??? Hahahahah we don’t go overboard in the studio to achieve some kind of commercial or non-commercial sound. Traag and Lord ll go in and record as they go..some songs are written, others write themselves, but hails for the compliment. As for influences, those 2 bands you mentioned we enjoy a lot. Ferocious is a good word to describe how we feel when we write and play. Ferocious and HATEFUL.”
The other guys are quiet. One guy seems to have taken the lead. I ask him why the band members’ identities are a mystery, and he says that the music isn’t about the band members at all. Like true practitioners of a craft, the craft is all that matters. The band members nod in agreement, and they all solemnly swear to their art, their craft, the music that they love and live and die for.
BYYRTH: “As of now, we don’t prefer to have our identities known. We prefer the music speak for itself. When band members are out in the public all the time..they bring a sort of “baggage” with them. In the age of the internet everyone knows your business, we like to have everyone STAY OUT of ours.. we prefer solitude and anonymity…to stay in the dark, so to speak. When we play live we will continue this.”
My next question is ominous. “Why Meyhnach?” I ask the band members. They only smile knowingly. Meyhnach is French black metal one-man band Mutiilation’s virtuoso, and he has lent his vocal prowess for Byyrth’s latest album. “The choice is a mystery to me,” I ask the band members of Byyrth. “Perhaps you can enlighten us as to the nature of this collaboration.”
“Meyhnach is an individual the entire band has admired for his musical output with Les Legiones Noires AND his FINE ART endeavors. He is an accomplished painter and sculptor as well. We reached out to him for some guest vocals, he said he would contribute IF..he liked the Lyrics..Lord ll sent him lyrics and he liked them very much and did the 2 songs with us. Of course having an original member of France’s illustrious LLN was superb addition to our 2nd record or ANY record, he was great on the tracks.”
I can tell the band are antsy to get rid of a brash interloper, albeit a guest, so I move on with my set of questions and forget the majority of them. It would dawn on me later that the band’s music speaks for itself. Questions that pertain to how or why a riff was written are superfluous. The best questions involve the most unique aspirations a band has for its music. After all, why make music like this at all? Black metal doesn’t make anyone famous in a good way. Notorious, yes. Rich and famous, no.
But that isn’t why Byyrth writes this music. Nor is fame what Byyrth aims to attain. I ask the band members, “what plans do you have for the band after Seven Caves…?”
BYYRTH: “You are correct. Byyrth is an entity that exists ONLY for the purpose of pleasing BYYRTH. We do not PANDER. We do not need to make money off this music, it is pure. The hatred, vitriol and anger we spew forth is PLENTY of reward for us. All of us are HATERS of humanity..we think humanity is a PLAGUE that should be wiped away. We don’t mean INDIVIDUALS..that does nothing, but mankind as a whole…the earth has NOT been enriched by our presence, so while we are here we enjoy making horrible bloody noise to piss off the ears of humanity!! hahaahahaha. AS for after SEVEN CAVES?? Another record on our great label IRON BONEHEAD, we have several split releases coming out soon, most notably with- THY SEPULCHRAL MOON and BLACK KNIFE, both of whom are our comrades. We will also do a release with the label that did our ORIGINAL demo – Grey Matter Noise Productions..the owner is a very good comrade.”
I don’t have much longer to brood over their last response when one of the dudes puts a bag over my head and helps me up from my chair. He helps me up the staircase and into the white van again. I don’t know just why I feel pre-disposed to what I am feeling at the moment, but I feel as though I am inspired to follow Byyrth’s own lead into the world they inhabit. A world that is subterranean and cloaked and mysterious, with the creation of music that stirs my soul for its darkness and aesthetic brilliance. I want to build a charnel house in the basement of an old, abandoned building. I want to decorate it with the aromatic stench of dead animal corpses and lit phallic candles. I want to make music that is as powerful and exciting but I realize that few individuals are gifted with the true sense of what that world is really like. I am thankful Byyrth has shown me the light – that darkness that they use to enshroud their seemingly insubstantial lives rich in the progeny of artistic endowment. They are a band on a mission, and yours, if you choose to accept it, is discover what is inside of you that makes that yearning for individual artistry unique and beautiful, a discovery partly made through music – Byyrth’s Echoes from the Seven Caves of Blood – if you are so lucky to choose it.